Dos & Don’ts: Social Media Tips for Healthcare Professionals


When you work in the medical field, you’re sure to experience many exciting and memorable moments that you’ll want to share with your friends and family – maybe you had a particularly good (or bad) interaction with a patient, or maybe you assisted with a certain procedure for the first time. As a healthcare professional, it is your responsibility to protect the privacy of the people you care for, as well as the facility or facilities where you provide patient care. In the age of social media, you are interlinked with patient communities, topics, and issues more than ever before. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance that you exercise extreme caution when you share information via social media networking sites so that you don’t risk exposing sensitive or protected health information that may violate patient privacy.

When using social media networking sites, keep these top dos and don’ts in mind to protect your patients, your workplace, and yourself.

Do exercise best judgment when posting your personal opinions and photos on social media sites. Be sure to separate your professional opinions from what you share online, and refrain from discussing your colleagues and sharing too much information.

Don’t disclose sensitive or protected health information. While this may seem like common sense, even adding a friend on Facebook or answering a health question could be a violation of patient privacy. For most Arizona College graduates, remember your training regarding HIPAA (Healthcare Information Portability and Accountability Act). Your patients have the right to privacy when it comes to their health information.

Do use social media for professional networking and educational purposes. Join sites like LinkedIn and connect with healthcare professionals whose careers you admire, especially when you are searching for a job in the allied health field. Utilizing social media sites can be a great way to stay connected and up to date on the latest healthcare topics and trends.

Don’t think that what you post on social media sites will remain private. Always be aware of your online footprint and the content associated with you both professionally and personally. Google yourself and make sure that what appears in search results is how you want to be represented.

As a general rule, if you’re ever in doubt about whether or not something is appropriate to post online – don’t post it. It’s natural to want to share your accomplishments and the highlights of your day (or even do a little venting), but it’s just not worth jeopardizing the health career that you’ve worked so hard to attain.

Information in this blog post is accurate as of August 24, 2012.