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Safer Steps Into Social Media: A Primer For Podiatrists

Social media has changed the way we interact in healthcare. This includes everything from how we refer patients to how we pat ourselves on the back. Obvious platforms include Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. Each has its own pros and cons. We have instantaneously transformed how our patients view and interact with our practice. Some would say this is dangerous while others would applaud the alternative forums for marketing our practices.

As we continue to cultivate healthy use of social media and utilize it for educational purposes, we should cover a few things. There are legal and professional issues that arise on all platforms.

Here are a few basic (maybe obvious) rules that each practitioner (or soon-to-be practitioner) should heed when it comes to social media.

  1. Remember your reputation is on the line. Each post, each thread and each comment are etched in time, both legally and literally. Be careful what you say.
  2. Patient permission. Please get signed patient consent to use X-rays, surgical video or any patient media on any platform. This is a safe practice, whether you have this as a form the patient signs on each visit or after each occurrence. Either way, do something. This is the patient’s record and personal case. You should only share it if you obtain permission from the patient.
  3. Be professional. This goes without saying and applies to each platform.  Try and keep your personal persona separate from professional if at all possible. Having two separate accounts is the easiest way to do so.

Obviously, I condone some type of social media presence. It can truly allow a practitioner to advertise, market and educate both patients and colleagues. Just be sure to proceed in a way that protects both you and your patients.

Dr. McAlister completed an advanced foot and ankle surgical fellowship at the Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Center in Columbus, OH. He is board-certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery and is in private practice in Phoenix, AZ.

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