Facebook friend requests from patients

(Mary Medeiros) #1

I have heard a couple of inputs on this point and I realize this will vary from doc to doc: I am curious how folks handle social media relationships with patients. I prefer to keep a line between my personal and professional lives but I believe this line blurs a little bit in the world of DPC, where our patient panels are smaller, our relationships with patients are closer, and where we also depend on social media for marketing. I feel like there is a chance of crossing a line by giving patients a window into my personal life but I also figure it just helps give me a guide as to what I put online in the first place (if it’s not appropriate for patients to see, I probably shouldn’t post it). But before I start accepting FB friend requests from patients I would love to hear how folks handle it. Thanks!

(Dr Rob Lamberts) #2

100% don’t accept friend requests from patients and tell nurses to have the same rules. Those who have crossed it have regretted it. We have a friendship with people, but it’s not a two-way relationship really. My patients have access to me via the practice’s page (can message me there), but I reserve my FB feed for people I am actually friends with.

(Mary Medeiros) #3

Thank you Rob, really appreciate the feedback

(Robin Dickinson) #4

For people who are purely my patients, I absolutely never accept friend requests. I have a few patients who are a little more fuzzy—for example, the parents of my daughter’s preschool friends–who are my Facebook friends. But I make sure to not look at their Facebook pages and they really don’t interact on mine other than to “like” pictures of my kids. I’m in a fairly tight knit community and run the free clinic at a local church…I also care for many of the community pastors and their families in my practice and it would be kind of weird for me to refuse to friend them.

But I agree to be VERY careful. I refuse all other friend requests.

(Elizabeth Eaman) #5

I don’t accept them but I do have a few patients that are friends of friends and can see my feed. The LGBT community is pretty close knit in some ways so it’s really unavoidable. I keep my personal Facebook light and professional. I don’t rant, I don’t vague-book, I post pictures often but nothing that I wouldn’t be ashamed a patient would see.

I remember reading a few articles on the topic and looked them up for reference.

CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/23/health/doctors-social-media/
WSJ: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324900204578283900262408308
KevinMD: http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2011/04/doctors-facebook-responsibly.html

(Robin Dickinson) #6

@oodleMD Thanks so much for the links! Those are really helpful.

(Dr Melanie Story) #7

Create a business page and allow your patients to follow that page only. It can be hard for patient’s to grasp in today’s society of technology that we are actively using in a variety of ways in DPC’s across the country; to not blur the line between professionalism and what they perceive as a “friendship”. It does appear at times that some patients have a sense there is a “friendship” instead of a professional because they can reach out to our office’s via text or email. Thus, it is very important in my opinion that we establish in all ways including social media only a business link to us only.