NCMS Policy on Physicians’ Use of Social Media

Continuing the NCMS’ initiative to inform and educate the medical community about social media and the importance of maintaining professionalism and the physician-patient relationship, here are a few standards that medical practices should actively follow while using social networks:

  • Medical practices should be aware of patient privacy and confidentiality that must be maintained in all online environments.
  • Medical practices should safeguard private information on social networking sites.
  • Medical practices must maintain appropriate boundaries in accordance with professional ethical guidelines in order to preserve the physician-patient relationship.
  • To avoid negatively impacting the physician-patient relationship, medical practice staff should consider separating professional and personal content published online.
  • If unprofessional content is posted online, a medical practice should bring this information to the attention of the individual so that he or she may remove it or take other appropriate action.
  • It is important to realize that information posted online can negatively affect the reputation of a medical practice. Because of this, it is vital that medical practices take the necessary precautions while using social media.

By following these recommendations and creating a social media policy addressing these matters, medical practices will be able to effectively have an online presence, foster collegiality within the profession via social media, and provide opportunities to publicize public health issues through a new communication medium. This summary is based on a policy adopted by the NCMS House of Delegates in 2011. For more information regarding the policy, view the NCMS Policy Manual (Password Protected).


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