Why your practice should have a social media policy

Social media use is widespread and for some of us, it is a daily part of our lives. Everything that is put on social media contributes to our electronic footprint and so it is important for you and your staff to monitor what is being associated with your health care practice.

It is important to ensure that your employees are aware that if they use social media either as part of their job or in a personal capacity, they have specific obligations. This involves any online communication about your practice, its products and services, patients/clients, team members, regulatory bodies or other work-related issues.

The term ‘social media’ refers broadly to any online media which allows for user participation, interaction or publishing. Examples include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, weblogs, forums and discussion boards and wikis.

As a practice owner you should consider drafting a social media policy and making compliance with it an obligation of all employees and contractors of your practice.

Policy recommendations

Your policy should require your employees and contractors, when using social media in a personal capacity, to:

  • Never disclose a patient’s personal information, health information, sensitive information or any other information of a patient which is confidential. Information is to be considered confidential when it is not readily available in the public domain – this may be specified by the patient or may be obvious to the employee when they receive the information due to its content.
  • Not disclose your practice’s confidential, private, commercial or other sensitive information. Practice information should be considered confidential when it is not readily known by the general public, which may be specified when disclosed to the employee/contractor at work or may be obvious due to its nature or content;
  • Not use any practice logo, branding or any other feature which identifies the practice (eg. A work email address) on any social media platform without prior approval from practice management;
  • Not post inappropriate images that reference or involve the practice in some way;
  • Not represent or communicate on behalf of the practice in the public domain without prior approval from practice management;
  • Not communicate anything that might damage the practice’s reputation, commercial interests or patient confidence;
  • Not create a social media page to protest lawful policies that employees/contractors are responsible for implementing;
  • Not post any material that would directly or indirectly defame, harass, discriminate against or bully any patient, practice staff member or an organisation associated with the practice;
  • Ensure, if they identify themselves (or they may be identified) as an employee/contractor or the practice, that their social media communications:
    • Are lawful; and
    • Comply with any other mandatory employee/contractor policies and procedures.

Health Practitioners should also familiarise themselves, and comply, with the social media policies of:

If you would like further information or assistance with drafting a Social Media Policy for your practice, please contact us at admin@healthlawsolutions.com.au.