How to avoid the social media dangers at your medical practice

What’s your social media plan and how can you How to avoid the social media dangers at your medical practiceavoid the $5,000 dangers and damage to your reputation? 

Social media allows almost anyone, to comment on any topic, at anytime.

Patients can comment on over 100 different social media platforms as well as rating websites, consumer reviews and chat rooms – Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are just the tip of the ice-berg.

How to avoid the social media dangers at your medical practice

In short, you can’t – This is reality!


What are the social media dangers for doctors?

Most dangers come in the following formats:

  • Posting of personal images and information – Privacy and copy-write issues
  • Fake profiles created deliberately to defame 
  • Inappropriate posts and images
  • Human error – Accidental posts and incorrect spelling
  • Patients perceiving posts as giving medical advice
  • Wasting time
  • Hacking
  • Patient testimonials – Doctors in Australia can be fined $5000 if a patient posts a testimonial on s doctor’s Facebook page or any other social media platform

    Advertising & social media guidelines from the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA)

You can reduce the risks by putting a social media plan in place

Why use social media?

You can’t avoid it – 70% of people in Australia use social media. (This is on par with the United Kingdom and the United States).

1. Choosing a social media platform

Choose the social media platform that will allow you to:

  • Best speak with your target audience and;
  • Meet your practice’s goals and objectives

2. Do it well

It’s better to use one social media platform well than do a number of social media platforms poorly.

3. Set your social media goals

These may include:

  • Improving patient communication and doctor patient connection
  • To keep patients updated on the latest medical news
  • Reminders – Flu vaccinations, heat wave precautions etc.

On your social media homepage define what it is used for and tell people upfront. If you are using Facebook define the purpose of the page in the ‘about’ section:

  • What you do
  • Purpose of the social media page
  • When the social media page is monitored

4. Set where you are now and where you would like to be in 6 – 12 months time.

Map out where you are now and where you would like to be. Also think about where are you going to promote your social media items – Is it possible to ask patients to sign up when they are in the clinic? What will the benefits be to your patients?

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5. Map out the risksRisk

Map out what risks can take place on your social media platforms. Put a plan in place to address them.

For example – What if someone puts up a negative post? What is the plan you have to address it and how can you turn the situation into a positive?

Never address a social media risk as an individual. Always seek a position from a few key team members.

Also map out what not to do on social media. For medical practices this includes:

  • Never give medical advice – Advise them to book an appointment for legal and duty of care reasons
  • Never post a persons details or image without their permission
  • Never start an ongoing conversation – Contact them personally
  • Time wasting – Chasing up social media items can take a lot of time – Be wary!
  • Keep the tone of voice professional but light

6. Have a content planContent plan

Write down all the topics you can post about. Include frequently asked questions by patients, interesting research, upcoming events and health notices.

Content is more than just copy it includes – Images, videos, info-graphs, animations, case studies, and audio.

How often are you going to post – Daily, weekly, fortnightly? Map your content plan out in a calendar.

How much time will you allocate to produce a post and monitor your social media platforms?

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7. How are you going to grow your social media following?

Are you more concerned about having great numbers liking or following you, or are you more concerned with engagement?

Growing your social media following:

  1. Link up with local schools to post health notices – Parents being your target audience.
  2. Include social media icons and links on your website, emails, letterhead, business cards etc.
  3. Make up a trivia game to increase engagement
  4. Ask patients to share content
  5. Use Questions and Answers
  6. Work out how you are going to respond to queries 

Social media is just what it says…it’s social and meant to be interesting.

Be sure to have plenty of images to use.

8. Resourcing, costs and time

Ensure you allocate appropriate time and funds to developing and growing social media. It may take 1-2 hours per week of staff time and cost $100 a month to run.


The final say – How to avoid the social media dangers at your medical practice

1. Know the guidelines – Advertising & social media guidelines from the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA)

2. Do it well or don’t do it at all – You could do your practice damage by not posting at least once per month. If you can’t commit – Don’t do it at all.

3. Have a good content plan in place

4. Allocate the time and resources

5. Be prepared to report on your goals

I hope you enjoyed this post “How to avoid the social media dangers at your medical practice.”

Social media – It’s meant to be fun, engaging and as its name suggests….. Social!