By now, it’s no secret that social media has taken the world by storm and has rapidly changed the communication landscape. From Twitter and Facebook to LinkedIn and YouTube, the internet has become an outlet for people to share events, experiences and even, to vent. But what does this have to do with healthcare? Plenty. After all, misbehaving on social media can affect your hospital’s reputation, which in turn can affect revenue.
It’s easy to become complacent about social media and other technology that’s purpose especially when it’s not something prevalent in your circles or when you perceive it to be something that you’ll never understand. However, now more than ever before, hospitals are finding themselves in need of comprehensive policies for social media use in the workplace.
For two nurses at Jacksonville Naval Hospital who recently outraged the public by posting photos of them calling newborns “little satans” while giving them the finger, this blog may be too little too late. For everyone else, you’ve come to the right place, here are 3 healthcare social media policies every hospital needs.
- Posting photos
In an ideal world, you could declare a sweeping edict across your organization banning everyone from posting photos of any kind. This would, of course, solve a lot of our problems regarding social media, unfortunately, it’s simply not a realistic request. With that said, hospitals can, however, implement a policy where any staff member who is posting photos must receive permission from all those present in the photo, as well as ensure no patient information appears prior to posting. Doing so can protect the organization from privacy and HR problems from arising.
- Sharing of information
Ensuring staff are aware of the type of information that can and can’t be shared is an important step in protecting the organization. From information about mergers to budget cuts, it’s easy to forget in moments of excitement or exasperation that such information is private and shouldn’t be shared. While this may seem like common sense to you, it may not to someone else. So, creating a policy that outlines clearly the type of information that should never be shared on social media is a good way to protect your organization.
It’s inevitable that after being cared for, patients and their families may feel a great deal of gratitude for doctors and nurses, and may even feel like they’ve developed a friendship with their caregivers. It’s important for your organization to determine its stance on the topic. But as a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to develop a policy to maintain relationships professional and ask staff not to “friend” patients on social media.
Last but not least, reminding staff that they’re a constant representative of the hospital can act as a guiding light in the types of photos and behaviors they display online. Often times, staff feel that what they post on social media is their own choice, and they’re right. In such instances, it might be a good idea to mention that they should refrain from making any mention of having a connection at all to the hospital at all. This is a step that can be used to protect both the staff member and the hospital from any social media PR nightmares.