The Canadian Medical Association, the national voice of Canadian physicians, has recently approved social media guidelines for doctors. These first-ever national guidelines will help physicians responsibly use Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media to offer safer and more effective care for their patients.
The CMA document Social media and Canadian physicians ― issues and rules of engagement (www.cma.ca/socialmedia) presents practical considerations and outlines the potential benefits and drawbacks of social media for physicians.According to CMA President Dr. John Haggie, people everywhere are using social media. “We know our patients are searching for health-related information and discussing health issues in blogs and other online forums. We also know physicians are using social media in their personal lives and exploring how they can use these communications tools to inform the public or connect with their peers.”The CMA document describes several rules of engagement, specific actions that should be taken by doctors to ensure appropriate conduct on social media websites. Under the rule “Focus on areas of expertise,” the document states, “As a physician you can often bring most value to a forum or conversation by discussing issues on which you have a particular expertise. Sharing this information – as long as it does not contravene individual patient confidentiality – raises the level of discourse on social media sites and is likely to be viewed favourably by other participants.”
The other rules of engagement – “Understand the technology and your audience,” “Be transparent” and “Respect others” – are outlined in detail to provide physicians across the nation with meaningful guidance in the realm of social media.
The Canadian Medical Association is a voluntary professional organization representing more than 76,000 Canadian physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 51 national medical organizations.