Step #1: Develop an Internal Social Media Policy
February 4, 2011 • By Kelly Merrick, Social Media Mentor
This blog is part one of an eight-part series on launching your hospital’s social media strategy.
The first step is to establish a clear internal social media policy and make sure that everyone at your hospital understands it. Here are two reasons why:
First, a clear social media policy defines the parameters of your social media use and helps your staff understand what they can and can’t do. This makes social media a more useful tool because your employees know how to use it without being afraid of its power.
Second, a clear social media policy is an important step in demonstrating HIPAA compliance. Policies and procedures that emphasize patient privacy show that you are taking reasonable measures to safeguard protected health information.
And keep in mind that this should be a living document. As the world of social media morphs and matures, you’ll want to adapt your policy to the changes going on around you.
Several hospitals and medical centers have great social media policies you can review before drafting yours. Here are several I recommend reading. And while these are not the only good policies out there, they will help you determine the best policy for your hospital.
One caution: Resist the urge to simply copy another hospital’s policy. Make sure that your policy accurately reflects the needs of your own hospital.
The Mayo Clinic
The Mayo Clinic’s policy not only dictates how employees should use social media, but it also gives guidelines for official Mayo Clinic participation and a code of ethics.
Sutter Health has two policies relating to social media. The first is a policy for social networking and online communications and the second specifically addresses guidelines for participation in online communities.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Vanderbilt has an extensive social media toolkit on its web site. It includes not only a social media policy for the Medical Center, but also guidelines for personal use of social media, social media strategy information, participation guidelines, and best practices for social media. It is a comprehensive toolkit that covers all aspects of managing social media accounts.
Drafting your policy doesn’t have to be difficult. It is just a matter of identifying the most useful guidelines to help your employees learn how to effectively manage their social media accounts and to avoid violations.
Watch for the next post in our series: Step #2 Listen to the Chatter.