Useful Twitter advice for doctors

Thanks to Medscape for including my take in their recent article, “Is Twitter a “must” for doctors?”

I discuss some common sense tips doctors should follow while using Twitter:

1. Patient privacy is paramount. Do not discuss individual cases or provide patient advice via Twitter.
2. Use Twitter to point your patients to trustworthy online health information sources.
3. Use Twitter as a tool to promote your practice’s brand. More and more patients are using Twitter; those who do are likely to feel positive about their physicians using it as well. More than just a fad, Pho says that Twitter is here to stay and offers tremendous potential.
4. Remind your patients using Twitter: Be careful whom you follow. Anyone can sign up for Twitter claiming to be a physician.

I cannot emphasize the first point enough. When using Twitter and Facebook (versus, say, a blog), it’s easier than ever to hit the enter key and broadcast content to the world. It’s essentially an instant message to the masses.

With that in mind, any medical professional using these sites better be more careful than ever to protect patient privacy.

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  • http://www.medxcentral.com medXcentral (Jim)

    Great advice. And, also keep in mind, re: point #1, search engines are now instantly indexing tweets making it even more difficult to go back in time and remove content. Think… then tweet.

  • http://www.careernumbers.com/nurses/ Jay @ CareerNumbers – Nurses

    Good advice Kevin, and just as applicable to nurses on twitter as doctors. When keeping your professional obligations in mind, though, the rewards on twitter far outweigh the risks. In addition to the branding and patient goodwill benefits you mentioned, twitter’s a tremendous learning tool.

    I know more about the nursing side of this (wrote an article, 7 Must-follow People for Nurses on Twitter ) that talks about some of the most valuable follows for nurses, but I know there have to be similar people for doctors to follow as well.

  • http://www.pthealth.ca physio

    Great advice about patient care and individual privacy. The question I have is how does one monitor this across a company of 500 employees. We’ve set a policy, but policies are only as good as the people who follow them?