There is a fine line between using social media professionally and using social media personally. Where this line often is crossed is when social media and healthcare collide. Not a new concept, healthcare and social media play a large part in quick access information. Often times this quick access isn’t reliable information causing someone to falsely diagnose him or herself. So how would one fix this issue? A controversial solution is having a healthcare professional interact with “patients” on social media.

Doctors are starting to turn their personal social media pages into an open area for reliable information. This in turn directly crosses the line of mixing social media professionally and personally. So is this what doctors should do? Should they use their personal page as a way to express both their personal interests and professional advice and opinions?

One doctor believes this to be exactly the right thing to do. In a recent post on KevinMD.com, Wes Fisher, MD explains what the American College of Physicians and the Federation of State Medical Boards say is appropriate for social media and healthcare in a recent position paper:

“To be fair, I agree with most of what they say. All the things about patient confidentiality are appropriate. All the things about respect for persons, better still. But to me, the part of the document that wanders off into the ‘influence of social media on the patient-physician relationship’ and the influence of social media on the ‘public perception of physician behaviors,’ is more difficult to gauge in its benefit or detriment to the public discourse.”

The position paper is a guideline for physician’s to follow to better present themselves online and still protect the company they represent. The guidelines are much more conservative when it comes to any such topics that would cause a negative reflection on the healthcare company or hospital associated with the physicians.

Both sides of this topic have pros and cons. As a physician, you want your patients to feel as if they can come to you whenever and however they are most comfortable. Social media is the easiest, most convenient way to contact someone. But you also have to realize that what is getting put online is there forever and any disagreements you might have personally can reflect on you professionally. Privacy is a high priority in the healthcare industry and social media can exploit that quickly.

What do you think? How can healthcare and social media coexist in a way that keeps professional and personal on separate sides of the line? Or should there even be a line? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.


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