Health Care Trends With a Social Media Twist
As HealthLeaders Media reports today, The American College of Physicians this week issued a sixth edition of its ethics manual, the first rewrite since 2005. Among other changes, it tackles the role of social media and its impact on the physician-patient relationship. Use of, and interaction on, Twitter and Facebook must be weighed carefully because while they have the potential to help patients receive better care, there are significant potential ethical issues to address if these tools are used incorrectly.
As more physicians dip their toes in the social media waters, the concerns will only grow. The Statesman this week wrote about a survey this year of 4,000 physicians by QuantiaMD, an online information exchange for doctors. Results showed that 15 percent used Facebook professionally, 8 percent used YouTube and blogs, and 3 percent posted on Twitter.
The American Medical Association’s policy on social media use urges caution and constant monitoring to ensure that standards of patient privacy are maintained. It also warns that failing to take care with content could harm reputations and taint careers, the article notes.
As in all aspects of life, social media can provide a false sense of security to patients and physicians, who must always bear in mind that anything in the public domain is just that: public. As patients, we must balance the availability of social media channels to obtain additional healthcare information and access with our right to privacy in order to protect personal details.
Is your doctor on Facebook or Twitter? Would you want her to be? Where do we draw the line? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.