Does Your Office Have a Social Media Policy? It Should

posted by Pivotal Health Solutions on Friday, July 10, 2015

Does your office use social media? Even if it doesn't, it should still have a social media policy. Why? Because personal and professional lives have a way of blending. Even if your office isn't on Facebook, your employees may be posting about their work lives, giving your practice an unofficial social media presence.

A social media policy can help your office manage that. Online examples of policies are widely available and can be used as templates, but here's what a good social media policy should cover. 

1) Who can use social media at work? Let's face it, all of us have been guilty at one time or another of getting on social media, then looking up and seeing that an hour has gone by. As fun as that is, you probably don't want that happening at work. So put some guidelines in place on when employees can use social media (during lunch breaks for example) and decide whether or not you want to allow them to use office equipment to go online. 

2) The importance of patient privacy. Patient privacy can't be overemphasized. Inadvertent breaches can cost you, both in fines and in loss of reputation and bad PR. And it's easy to do: For example, say an employee posts a selfie from work, but doesn't notice that patient information is clearly visible in the background. 

3) What employees can or can't post online. For most of us, our work life is a big part of our life in general, so it's natural that we want to post photos or statuses about work. But professional information doesn't always have a place on personal newsfeeds. Employees need to think twice—and ask if they are ever unsure about whether or not something is appropriate. 

4) The importance of professionalism. Like it or not, how we act on social media reflects on our professional lives. There are many examples of employees who have been fired because of their inappropriate actions on social media. 

5) The consequences. Finally, a social media policy isn't work the paper it's printed on if it's not enforced. Make sure employees understand the consequences of violating the social media policy, and follow through if needed. 

Even if your medical office doesn’t participate in social media, odds are that the majority of office employees use social media in their personal lives.

Sometimes, in using social media, employees inadvertently breach the boundaries between the personal and professional, thereby creating an unprofessional “social media presence” for the medical office -- without their employer’s knowledge or approval.

Most important, it’s not just the office’s reputation that’s on the line and in jeopardy.

When social media is left unmonitored, medical offices face the very real risk of violating federal privacy laws by breaching patient confidentiality, which in addition to substantial fines, can permanently damage one’s professional reputation.

While the content of the social media is of paramount concern, another cause for headaches is the excessive time employees waste accessing social media websites during work hours. Creating a social media policy to clarify the standards for permissible and prohibited content for both personal and professional social media is one way to protect your patients, your productivity, and your business reputation.

This article, by Kimberly Danebrock, originally appeared here and is reprinted with permission:


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At Pivotal Health Solutions, our story starts with a table. Not just any table, but one that you helped us design from the ground up. From that single table, PHS has become a leader in offering beautifully designed, quality-manufactured products for the complementary health care field.

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