More and more business are using Twitter as a communications tool. Pizza places Tweet about two-for-one deals, sports bars for trivia nights, retail chains on major sells and so forth. Are your physician customers? We’ve seen some in the Atlanta area using social media outlets to let customers know about expanded hours or times for flu shots.

You might want to do a thorough check or ask them, not only to make them aware of the marketing opportunities, but also to beware of the potential pitfalls.

Apparently, some physicians have been using Twitter to the detriment of their own careers.

A report from the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences says there’s a need for stronger guidelines on the use of social media sites for physicians. Some physicians, it says, are regularly broadcasting private patent information, racist opinions and dodgy claims about medical products.

“While the majority of tweets were potentially helpful, the ethical breaches and unprofessional content raised a red flag,”  says associate professor Dr Katherine Chretien

This isn’t just idle doc chat. According to the article, the bad behavior “included potential patient privacy violations, as well as profanity, sexually explicit material or discriminatory statements.”

Definitely inquire if your physician practices have started, or are thinking of starting, their own social media campaigns. If it’s the practice’s site, then they’ll probably be using it for professional reasons only. But if a physician has his own personal (and public) Twitter account, and is using it to bash patient interactions, then you might want to (delicately) bring up the advantages and disadvantages of social media.

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