The possible impact of social media on the professional identity of medical professionals was examined at the latest Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) Grand Rounds.
Dr. Dora Stadler, clinical assistant professor of medicine at WCM-Q, gave a presentation that explained how physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals can use social media to benefit their patients, enhance their own professional development, foster collegiality and improve public health. She also examined some of the possible pitfalls of careless use of social media.
Dr. Stadler said: “Social media can be a very powerful and very positive tool for medical professionals if used correctly. We can utilize social media platforms to build collaborative networks to share knowledge across continents, educate the public about important health issues, build public confidence and make healthcare resources more accessible. But we have to be respectful of the power of social media and use it in a deliberate, thoughtful manner.”
Dr. Stadler explained that a carelessly managed social media presence can compromise the professional identity of healthcare workers, adversely affect patient trust, damage the professional’s career and possibly bring their institution into disrepute. Perhaps most seriously, improper social media use can jeopardize patient confidentiality.
“Patients have an absolute right and an expectation that any information they share with a healthcare professional will be in the strictest possible confidence. Healthcare professionals must be aware of the risk that social media presents to patient confidentiality and make sure they understand the technology so that no patient information is ever shared, either purposefully or by accident.”
Dr. Stadler explained the importance of recognizing the inability to completely separate one’s personal and professional identities online. She then offered detailed advice on how to formulate an effective, deliberate approach to social media to present a positive professional identity online and protect and enhance patient welfare.
The lecture, titled Medical Professionalism in the Age of Social Media, was accredited locally by the Qatar Council for Healthcare Practitioners-Accreditation Department (QCHP-AD) and internationally by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).