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Answers for Action:
Follow these recommendations for a Facebook 'Fan' page
e-Reports, November 22, 2010
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Offered by Medical Assurance, Inc.

Q: If my practice uses Facebook only to offer directions to the office, scheduling and other information are there still risks involved?

A: Facebook can be a useful tool for posting details about your office and the services you provide. If you decide to use Facebook in your practice, follow these recommendations from our risk management experts:

  • Instead of adding patients as friends to your personal Facebook account, create a “Fan” page for your practice and allow patients to become a “Fan.” Explain that it is the practice’s policy to interact with patients on Facebook using the “Fan” page rather than individual staff members’ personal Facebook pages. That way, patients can stay in contact with you, and you can avoid the potential of offending patients by not accepting their friend requests.
  • On the “Fan” page, in the box below the space for an avatar or photo, consider adding a disclaimer stating: “As medical advice/treatment generally occurs during in-person visits and consultations, no information contained on {name of practice}’s page should be construed as medical advice.
  • Frequently monitor privacy settings and the page itself.
  • Create guidelines or policy for staff regarding who can post updates to the page, who will direct questions on the page to appropriate physicians for follow-up when a question is not general enough to be answered on the practice’s page, or when doing so would compromise patient privacy.
  • Ensure patient confidentiality. Refrain from publicly posting any protected health information that could result in a HIPAA violation – whether in discussion with a patient “Fan” or with other physicians.

With the explosion of Facebook and other social networking sites, the caution to “Never post anything on the Internet you wouldn’t want tacked to a bulletin board in the Town Square” seems more appropriate than ever.

See the Sept. 20 ISMA Reports for more on this topic.

Physicians insured by ProAssurance may contact our Risk Management department for prompt answers to liability questions by calling (800) 292-1036 or via e-mail.

Get help maintaining professionalism with social media

At its meeting this month, the AMA House of Delegates adopted a social media use policy to help physicians maintain a positive online presence and preserve the integrity of the patient-physician relationship.

Find the new policy at on the AMA website.

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