The Royal College of GPs has put together guidance for the use of social media by doctors. You can download the document here.
Here is a simple image which can help to remind you of the key points.
Communication – RCGP Social Media Highway Code
Doctors have always had a responsibility to communicate with patients. To do this in the places where patients communicate. Be that in their homes, their local communities or the online environment. Social media has the potential to fundamentally alter how doctors communicate with the public and vice versa. We must ensure that we are all aware of this and that we understand how to practise safely.
There is nothing ‘unique’ about the values that underpin how doctors behave and interact in this new environment. The enduring principles that we follow to maintain our professionalism are applicable to both the on- and offline worlds.
Senior and more experienced doctors, not familiar with online culture, have a responsibility to become more technically skilled and social media savvy. We hope this Code will empower those who have yet to take their tentative first steps across this new frontier. It should reassure them that they won’t need to develop an alien set of skills to survive on the other side.
Conversely, some younger doctors may need to adapt their online behaviours to take into account their professional responsibilities.
By laying out some simple principles, this guide aims to make the use of social media less threatening for both groups, highlighting how much each might learn from the other.
The social media highway code is a guide. The aim is for doctors to encourage doctors to think, communicate and share experiences. They should be aware of their professional responsibilities and their influence on others.
Ben Riley and Clare Gerada
Lead authors of the RCGP Social Media Highway Code