The RCGP has drafted new guidance for GPs on how to use social media as safely and effectively as possible.
The College has released the Social Media Highway code to help doctors use social media such as Facebook and Twitter effectively but appropriately, to help bring improvements to the way they communicate with their patients.
Key areas highlighted include maintaining an honest and appropriate image online, preferably without the use of online pseudonyms, being cautious of giving out personal advice to preserve patient confidentiality, and to be aware that journalists frequently scour social media sites to source stories and may approach doctors online for further information.
The code also mentions the importance of doctors revealing their human side to their patients and to take social media as an opportunity to be innovative and creative.
RCGP chair, Dr Clare Gerada (@clarercgp), who has more than 10,000 followers on Twitter, and helped write the code, said: ‘We shouldn’t underestimate the extent to which doctors and other healthcare professionals will use online tools like Twitter and Facebook in the future – social media will fundamentally change the way we interact with patients, for the better.’
A panel discussion and online Twitter chat featuring Dr Gerada and another GP social media enthusiast, Dr Margaret McCartney (@mgtmaccartney) is being held at the RCGP annual Primary Care conference at 12pm tomorrow (Friday 5 October), to discuss the issues doctors face with social media (Twitter hashtag: #RCGPac).