Social media provides ever-more essential opportunities for promoting health care. From blogging to tweeting, networking, and everything in between, medical professionals can not only reach out to current and potential patients, but can also define their online reputation. Yet, it is important to follow guidelines like those provided by the American Medical Student Association because social media can also be a minefield of potential conflicts. The three points below are some of the best social media tips, each of which shows how medical students in particular can protect themselves and their future careers through careful, professional, and ethical behavior online.
As a representative of the medical profession, you should maintain ethical conduct while using Facebook, Twitter, and related media. Take the time to consider the short and long-term consequences of your actions, especially in terms of potential impacts or viral spread. You should specifically assess whether you would say the words in your posts aloud in front of your boss or professors. Since around half of all employers in the field will review your social media profiles, according to the Journal of Graduate Medical Education, your reputation is on the line. Accordingly, be honest about your certifications, provide disclaimers about your position as a student, and avoid political advocacy. If you feel obligated for the latter, then speak with a university representative about potential complications.
Similarly, and perhaps most importantly, never discuss confidential information online. Remember to follow the standards of patient privacy and confidentiality as laid out in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). As Kevin Pho, MD, founder of KevinMD.com points out, you should be especially sure to protect patient privacy and avoid discussing specific cases. Otherwise, should any patient recognize themself in your online posts, there will be legal and professional ramifications. This last social media tip also covers the restrictions of specific social networking sites, apps, and blogs. It is important to be aware of copyright laws surrounding questions of the right to use content, from photographs to videos and much more besides.
Following the tips above will help ensure that you get your career off to a solid start – by avoiding potential controversies. Although social media feels fun, it has the potential to both help you reach out to the broader public and alienate you from them. Remember that your posts live forever, so any rants and raves you post today will still be around when you’re searching for a job. Potential employers will search your digital pasts, so make sure that you maintain a respectful, professional, and ethical online presence.
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Well, that didn’t take long.
Five years ago there were about 600,000 apps available for download in the Apple App Store–and maybe a couple dozen for nurse practitioners. Today, Apple offers nearly 2 million apps, of which there are hundreds that you could use to be a better nurse practitioners.
Too bad your smartphone doesn’t have more memory!
Yes, there are a lot of great apps out there that can make you more more effective and efficient. But, you won’t be able to use them all, so take a look at this list of the top healthcare apps for nurse practitioners:
When you need clear, concise, current and reliable information about an infectious disease, you need the Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy. The long-trusted reference has commonly been used in its textbook form, but the app is every bit as reliable–and it’s updated monthly to make sure that the latest research findings are only a swipe away.
Learn more about the Sanford Guide and why it is one of the top healthcare apps for nurse practitioners.
Leave it to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop one of the top healthcare apps for primary care providers who need to find the right screening, counseling and preventive medication services for patients. But, that’s exactly what the Electronic Preventive Services Selector does–and it does it well. After all, it does come from the government agencies responsible for protecting the health of all Americans.
Learn more about the app and how it lets you search based on specific patient characteristics such as age, sex and risk factors.
It’s a clinical practice guide, medical calculator, drug interaction checker and research resource all wrapped up into one easy-to-use app. It’s UpToDate, and it’s a must-have for any nurse practitioner working in a busy hospital or clinic. It also includes links to more than 1,500 printable patient-education handouts.
Learn more about UpToDate and how it can help make you a better nurse practitioner.
There was a time in the not-too-distant past when referring to your smartphone during an exam would have been frowned upon. Not anymore, thanks in large part to apps like VisualDx. It was created specifically to be used at the point of care. After you download it, you’ll be able to search by symptom, chief complaint or diagnosis. It’s incredibly useful when it comes to addressing dermatological conditions, reactions to medicine and other symptoms with visual manifestations.
Learn more about VisualDx and check out the high-resolution images it delivers.
Flu season typically runs from September through May, so an app that provides the most up-to-date information about flu activity up and down the East Coast and across the country is almost always practical. The CDC Influenza app from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will provide you with the latest government recommendations related to vaccinations and antiviral treatments. It also offers videos of national experts providing tips and official information, CDC-designed posters, and handouts to give to your patients.
The pace of innovation seems to increase every day–and that’s a good thing for nurse practitioners. Today, you have the opportunity to download hundreds of apps that can help you perform your job duties in a more efficient and effective manner.
Then keep watching for what might come along tomorrow. Apps may have been a novelty a few years ago, today they are an important part of the job.
*Elliot Health System does not endorse specific technology highlighted in blogs – all references are for the purpose of awareness of new medical technology only.
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Regardless of size, running a physician practice is not a simple procedure. It includes providing medical care and treatment, attending to staffing, handling the accounting, and dealing with equipment vendors/medication suppliers,to name but a few responsibilities. And then, if you are so inclined, there’s something for which no amount of schooling could have prepared you: the use of social media.
In today’s business world, it is rare for an enterprise to survive without a vibrant online presence. The effective use of social networking sites, also referred to as social media, can facilitate the exchange of communication with your patients as well as increase the visibility of your practice to others.
Physician, know thyself. Before you determine which of the best social media tips to employ, there is one critical issue you must address: Is there someone in your practice to whom the responsibility of managing your social networking sites (SNS) will fall? Is it you? If not, who? And, regardless of who that person might be, you’ll need to determine whether he or she has both the time and the ability to competently manage your SNS.
A social media campaign without adequate resources to run it is doomed to fail. If your practice can’t realistically manage one or more SNS, all the best social media tips in the world will be of no benefit to you.
Here, then, are 5 of the best social media tips for your physician practice:
1. Determine which SNS you want to use.
To do so, you must decide what you want your SNS usage to accomplish. For example, the American Academy of Family Physicians recently reported that more than 70 percent of primary care doctors and oncologists avail themselves at least once a month of social media to research or disseminate health information. Some physicians use SNS to share their opinions on healthcare issues, share general information (such as reminders for shingles vaccinations) or to educate their communities in general and patients in particular.
Available social networking sites include Twitter, Facebook (for business), LinkedIn, YouTube, and others. Check to see what other physicians in your discipline and locale are using to help you decide what’s best for you.
2. Generalists are not specialists; specialists aren’t generalists.
Share information or opinions about only those things with which you are familiar. Trying to be all things to all people is a sure way to get yourself in trouble if you stray too far afield.
3. Monitor, manage, maintain.
The best social media tips, regardless of industry, usually include this recommendation: Once you have a social media campaign, pay constant attention to it. Ensure that your content is correct and that you update it often. No matter how good your online presence looks, stale content is not going to go well on any SNS. Whether your audience consists of your patients or doctors engaged in the same area of practice as you, neither group will have any reason to follow you on social media if you give them no reason to keep coming back.
4. Be diligent about protecting your online reputation.
Conduct regular Internet searches of your name and that of your practice. Review any and all comments posted to your SNS and check consumer rating sites such as Yelp. It is difficult, if not impossible, to reassert control over your own narrative once you’ve lost it. Remember that what happens on the Internet stays on the Internet.
5. Consistency is key.
Ensure that your message is consistently expressed on your website and across all SNS you utilize. This prevents you from sending mixed messages or, worse yet, conflicting ones.
In addition to using social media regularly for business, consider interacting in physician forums to learn and boost your personal brand.
It has been said that your reputation takes a lifetime to build and five minutes to ruin.
This is especially true for physicians, who now have to worry about their patients, their practices and what people are saying about them on social media and websites devoted entirely to reviews of healthcare professionals.
Unfortunately, many of the reviews are written by people who use sometimes arbitrary metrics to mete out endorsements, opinions, criticisms and critiques. The reviews often lack data, proof and substance.
And they matter.
According to research conducted by the National Research Corporation, 47 percent of consumers say they pay attention to your online physician reputation. To make matters worse, a whopping 80 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews, which are often written anonymously, as much as they do personal recommendations.
That’s why it’s important to proactively manage your online physician reputation. It will take strategy, persistence and some thick skin–but it will be worth it. Here five ways to manage your online physician reputation with integrity and class:
1) Own your identity
Most physician review websites allow doctors to register and claim their identities. This allows you to provide factual information about your practice, including your address, office hours and contact information. Once the site has verified your information, you may also be able to add marketing materials such as photos, videos and information about services.
It also allows you to respond–either publicly or privately–to the people who post reviews about you. The ability to respond to reviews can be a powerful tool to help protect your online physician reputation.
In the online world of public relations, silence in the face of criticism equates to guilt or indifference. When someone posts a negative review about you (justified or not), it’s important to respond.
The key to responding effectively is to remember that you are not talking to the person who wrote the review. You are responding so that others will see that you are a caring, engaged physician who respects your patients.
3) Keep it general
When responding to online criticism, it’s important to keep the information you share general. Resist the urge to set the record straight about individual case. Instead, focus on your practices, policies and commitment to ensuring that patients have a good experience when they visit you.
If someone has a personal situation that must be addressed, ask them to directly contact someone from your practice.
4) Be proactive
It is a fact of life that people who are dissatisfied with something are more likely to make their feelings public. This is often the case with physician review websites, which is why it’s a good idea to be proactive in seeking positive reviews.
Ask patients who are happy with their care to share their experiences online. A great way to do this is to email patients online satisfaction surveys. Not only will you be able to identify patients who might be willing to share their positive experiences, but you may also be able to identify people who might post negative reviews–and connect with them before they do.
5) Accept the inevitable
You are bound to receive negative reviews. It is an inevitable truth, and it is not the end of the world–especially if you stay calm, develop thick skin and manage the issues.
Don’t respond when you are angry. Instead, show you care, put the issue into context, outline any action you plan to take and then move on.
Don’t let the five minutes it takes to respond angrily to a review ruin the reputation you’ve spent a lifetime building.
Elliot Health System is proud of our reputation. Would you like to join us?
It isn’t just for entrepreneurs and business executives. Over a million doctors and other medical professionals use the site. There are specialized forums on medical topics. In short, LinkedIn is a low-energy, high-impact tool that could be the springboard to launch your online presence. Here are just some of the reasons why doctors should use LinkedIn.
Control your digital C.V.
You can expect most patients, doctors, hospitals and other professionals to Google you. Google search results are slowly replacing the traditional curriculum vitae.
LinkedIn is highly-rated by all search engines therefore it offers you the opportunity to control and curate your “digital C.V.” The more sections you complete, the more you will appear at the top of the search listings. Fill out your interests, professional history, awards, speaking engagements, publications and professional memberships. A comprehensive LinkedIn account allows you to partially control your online presence and push down unfavorable reviews, an inevitability in the modern economy.
As your LinkedIn becomes more robust, it will complement your marketability and professional profile. The more curated and organized your LinkedIn, the more it can connect you with professional opportunities like grants, jobs and speaking opportunities.
The economy is evolving. Every smart marketing professional will tell you that branding is the key to success and standing out from the din. LinkedIn is the springboard to your brand. A brand is two things: your professional accomplishments / specialty and your approach to medicine.
Connect your blog to your LinkedIn, write content and share it with your network. Share and comment on interesting articles or journals. Report your latest publications and speaking engagements. The more you share on your LinkedIn, the more you become an authority and by extension a brand.
Create a running theme through your LinkedIn. Humanize it and connect it with how and why you practice medicine. This allows your network to know your brand both professionally and personally.
As your brand grows, so does your access to professional opportunities.It isn’t enough to be a decent surgeon, you must create a persona with which people will relate and remember you. LinkedIn is a low-risk, high-yield tool to build your brand and online presence.
Build and utilize a network
Unfortunately, modern professional life is still about who you know rather than what you know. As some say your network is your net-worth. The more you effectively brand yourself, the more you can leverage your network. A good network can expand your practice, connect you with other doctors and perhaps even lead to job opportunities.
As your network grows, so will you access to the collective knowledge of all those doctors. Concerned about joining a research group? Ask your connections. Joining a new hospital? Someone in your network may have the inside scoop.
Moreover you aren’t limited to your connections, join practice groups. These groups often have members from all over the world. These groups share the newest medical knowledge, job openings, speaking opportunities and more. If used properly, your network can become one of your most effective tools to grow and safeguard your practice and professional life.
LinkedIn expands your professional network to all over the world. A larger your network means more professional opportunities.
It will take a lot of initial legwork but LinkedIn can become one of the best tools to enhance your professional life. LinkedIn is a low-risk and high-impact tool that can serve as the springboard to launch and control your digital footprint.
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LinkedIn groups for healthcare professionals are an effective and strategic professional tool for physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants to utilize. LinkedIn provides a wide range of networking options and enables healthcare professionals such as yourself to connect to peers, patients, researchers, recruiters or employers.
One of the important benefits of using LinkedIn is connecting with other healthcare professionals that may be outside of your area of expertise or geographic location. Another benefit is having a social media tool for potential patients to seek you out is valuable to broaden your community. And finally, in the digital world, potential employers or recruiters frequently use LinkedIn to explore professionals such as reviewing a curriculum vitae or determining your connections with educational facilities or your research network.
Whatever your reasons are for utilizing LinkedIn groups for healthcare professionals, becoming familiar with the tools it offers is necessary. LinkedIn allows you to connect to different groups in your professional area of expertise or in areas that you would like to network with. The following are several groups that any healthcare professional would benefit with becoming connected to.
There are thousands of LinkedIn groups for healthcare professionals and millions of members on LinkedIn so whatever your medical area of expertise there is likely a group that would support your professional plans. Go ahead, starting linking up today!
Want to add forums to your list of physician tools? If so, make sure to check out our free resource below.
With nearly two thirds of the adult U.S. population (65 percent) now using some form of social media, healthcare professionals can’t afford to ignore it. Many physicians shy away from it due to HIPAA laws and strict regulations, but this shouldn’t hold you back from promoting yourself and your business.
In a crowded field that’s often criticized for lack of personal connections, sharing a piece of yourself with the digital world can improve yourself and your business exponentially.
Why Physicians Should Use Social Media
Physicians, nurses, and hospitals are also one of the most trusted sources online. Fifty five to 60 percent of people trust physicians’ posts on social media, compared to trusting only 30 to 40 percent of posts from health insurance companies or government organizations.
However, social media use shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whether furthering your personal career, or leading your office in their efforts it’s important to consider your patients’ privacy. The U.S. Department of Health in Human Services offers this worksheet for offices considering launching a social media campaign.
HIPAA Laws You Should Know
Many physicians site HIPAA laws as a reason they avoid social media. But you can have a successful social media presence while still maintaining HIPAA compliance. Remember the following when crafting your social media strategy.
You should also routinely revisit your strategy to ensure your maintaining the proper security and privacy requirements.
Social media allows you to create better relationships with patients, professionals, and employers. There’s no question that physicians should use social media. Find which platforms they are, and get started.
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Most people expect that health care providers enjoy using social media for personal purposes. Fewer people realize that over two thirds of doctors use professional social networking sites. Here are five physician forums that you should participate in.
SERMO is a community dedicated to creating a safe space for physicians. SERMO screens applicants and only approves practicing doctors. While members are able to choose to use their names, most prefer to use an anonymous screen name.
One of SERMO’s unique features is a crowdsourcing platform called SERMOsolves. Doctors are able to collaborate to find answers to complex problems. Many of their members use this feature from the bedside to find quick resolution.
Over time, more and more women have entered the field of medicine. Female doctors are as capable as male, but may face challenges unique to women. MomMD is an online community for female doctors, residents, and students. Their forum lets women give each other support through these challenges.
Doximity is another popular medical social media site. With a membership of 60% of U.S. doctors, networking with other doctors is simple. Members work together to identify and treat complex medical conditions. The physician forums are not limited to medical collaboration. Doctors discuss the business end of running medical practices. They are also used to find and fill available medical positions.
As well as physician forums, members have access to a library of articles for your field of practice. These articles are often available before the official publication date. Additionally, reading these can earn CME credits. Doximity will track your CME credits for you.
The Physician Executives Forum
Later in their careers, many doctors find themselves in managerial positions. Running a business requires responsibilities that medical school did not prepare them for. These unique needs are why The Physician Executives Forum was created.
When facing this type of transition, networking with other doctors is critical. The Forum gives physicians the opportunity to discuss what they are learning. Subjects often covered include leadership skills, balancing medical and administrative needs or communication between interdisciplinary members of your team. Additionally, The Forum provides education in practical managerial skills and necessary resources.
The PANDAS Physicians Network
Specialized physician forums give doctors access to unfamiliar information. One example is The PANDAS Physicians Network (“PPN”). PPN is an organization that exists to help doctors to understand PANDAS and PANS.
Doctors use the forums to discuss how to use cutting edge research and remedies. PPN collects data about the patients for future studies. Additionally, PPN is the hub for active fundraising for this medically complex syndrome.
Doctors devote years of their lives to education. After graduation, they spend decades caring for their patients. Physicians are always striving to provide a better quality of life. These physician forums can make yesterday’s dreams a reality for your patients today.
Are you interested in sharing these physician forums with others? Check out our free Physicians Physician Forum Guide by clicking below.
Social media is everywhere. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and blogging, chat rooms and discussion forums, not to mention the comment sections on numerous websites, have irreversibly changed the world of communication. Social media platforms have greatly expanded our ability to share information and exchange ideas while providing a global platform for bringing people together.
The ubiquity of social media has not, however, been free from some significant problems, many of which are related to privacy rights, ethical issues, or both. Health care is one area where these complications abound, where privacy and confidentiality are constantly subject to unlawful (as regulated by federal and state law) and/or unethical disclosure. As a result, much has been said and written about legal issues as they relate to The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Actand (HIPAA) and social media. The basics of being ethical when dealing with HIPAA and social media, however, have not been examined to nearly the same extent.
Resources such as npr.org and pbs.org provide general information regarding ethical factors that impact the use of social media. They do not, however, address the considerations unique to health care providers, facilities and insurers.
HIPAA and state privacy laws alike provide some direction and guidelines to parties who have access to confidential and/or private patient information and the means by which to disseminate that information. Of course, regardless of how well the applicable legislation may have been drafted, no law can contemplate all the possible circumstances that may arise when dealing with information regarding the identity, diagnosis, treatment or prognosis of a medical patient. Situations often arise that require an ethical rather than legal assessment.
Given the potential liability (both civil and, in some cases, criminal) for unauthorized release of the confidential and/or private medical information of a patient, HIPAA and social media considerations should always err on the safe side. In other words, think of HIPAA as the minimum standard of what you can or can’t do.
Say, for example, that you believe the Act permits the action you’re contemplating taking but you’re not entirely sure. Or perhaps the Act appears silent on your set of circumstances. What to do?
First and foremost, you need to evaluate the information to determine whether it could, with any effort, enable the reader to identify the patient and/or patient’s family. Successful integration of HIPAA and social media requires that any disclosure related to a patient may not contain sufficient information that would enable a reader who has no need to know be able to recognize the patient either directly or indirectly.
For example, providing enough information that someone could pinpoint a specific hospital ward or family and, with a little investigation or extrapolation or correctly “guess” who the patient is might be would considered a violation of applicable law or a breach of ethics.
So what if you really aren’t sure? Is there any guiding principle that would keep you from running afoul of any ethical considerations in the context of HIPAA and social media? Perhaps.
Remember that the primary responsibility of any health care provider is “to do no harm.” Ask yourself, then, whether posting a heartwarming tale about a patient on Facebook (even if you don’t include the name), an Instagram photo of a glorious floral arrangement delivered to a hospital room, or sharing a short video story on Snapchat could possibly let others know who your social media post is about. If so, then potential harm exists and you should probably not send it.
If you have any question about HIPAA and social media as it relates to sharing information about someone in your care, the answer is fairly simple: When in doubt, don’t.
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Many physicians have discovered the joys of blogging – both those who write them and the followers who find them useful to their daily practices. They are a great way to build a healthcare community on a variety of topics – primary care, oncology, parenting, and even life after a medical career. We’ve rounded up just four of our favorite physician blogs that we think you’ll enjoy reading and following. They contain great writing and present interesting points of view sure to spark discussion.
Physician Kevin Pho has one of the most well-liked and respected physician blogs on the Internet today. The popular site, KevinMD, is sponsored by Medpage Today, and his blog entitled “Kevin’s Take” contains opinionated views on everything from antibiotics to establishing an on-line presence. Dubbed “social media’s leading physician voice,” Dr. Pho offers a lively forum for health professionals and patients to express their insights, issues and concerns, including the often taboo subject of physician burnout. All are welcome to share their voice and talk about their own struggles and views.
Mothers in Medicine
Told from the perspective of motherhood, this blog speaks to anyone who struggles with a work-life balance. Mothers in Medicine is a group blog that offers insightful posts on the challenges and rewards of caring for one’s patients and family at the same time. The contributing doctors also respond to medical questions submitted by blog followers seeking advice on diverse topics including taking the pathology boards and motherhood. A similar site, MomMD, boasts a community of over 1 million, with 11,000 plus active members. The goal here is to encourage and support women physicians, residents, medical students and nurses in their careers and everyday lives.
db’s Medical Rants
Dr. Robert Centor is an academic general internist at the University of Alabama School of Medicine who also serves as associate dean for the university’s Huntsville Regional Medical Campus. Passionate followers know that the “db” stands for both Dr. Bob and “da boss.” db’s Medical Rants is a blog that is unafraid to tell it like it is, and the site’s legions of fans appreciate its refreshing take on “quality reporting,” internal medicine, the American healthcare system, and medical education. Dr. Centor believes that patient characteristics make a huge difference in how they should be treated and many of his short essays address this topic. The site is updated several times per week, which ensures the information it contains is new and fresh.
Run by pathologist, editor, author, and speaker Dr. Richard Reece, Medinnovation bills itself as the blog where health reform, medical innovation, and physician practices meet. Dr. Reece strongly believes in the importance of controlling and improving health destinies through innovation. He also covers hot healthcare topics such as HMOs, Medicare Reform, and the Affordable Care Act. Whether they agree with his point of view or not, Dr. Reece is one of the best physician blogs for giving its readers plenty of information and opinion to keep the conversation lively.
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