Social Media Policy
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by Susanna French
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Social Media Specialist
Dartmouth-Hitchcock has a social media policy that applies to all employees. You'll find it easy to remember, because it echoes our Code of Ethical Conduct, and the Golden Rule before that. And that's because social media is fundamentally about human interactions. It's true that you need a smartphone or a computer to communicate online, but the result is the same as if you were speaking on the phone or in a coffee shop.
Simply put, our Social Media Policy says: Be sensible. Be nice to others. Respect our patients' privacy.
A few important points
- Social media is everywhere. What you write is forever. It may be read by patients, their families, your supervisor, your co-workers, and even your future employers, for years to come.
- A simple rule of thumb: if you wouldn't say something in a loud voice in the crowded cafeteria, you shouldn't say it online.
- Your behavior online must be consistent with the professional standards of Dartmouth-Hitchcock and its Code of Ethical Conduct.
- As in the real world, using or disclosing Patient Identifiable Information (PII) or Protected Heath Information (PHI) on social media sites is strictly prohibited.
- We grow close to our patients when we care for them. That's natural, and they may want to stay in touch. You may want to do so as well. But employees may not friend active patients or their family members, as it crosses lines of privacy and professionalism. We also strongly discourage supervisors from friending their employees.
When you say "social media," are you just talking about Facebook?
Nope. The policy also covers sites such as Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit, forums, blogs—any online medium of communication.
But that's just on hospital computers, right?
It applies even if you have your own phone and you're just sending a quick tweet. Using social media for personal reasons can only be done on your own time, such as during scheduled breaks or meals. And it must take place away from areas where you might run into patients or the general public, such as kiosks or clinical care stations.
What's not allowed?
- Posting language that is obscene, defamatory, profane, libelous, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful, pornographic, or otherwise illegal
- Posting protected health information or patient identifiable information
- Using information created by or for Dartmouth-Hitchcock—such as logos, pictures, and videos—without the approval of Dartmouth-Hitchcock's Communications & Marketing Department. It's copyrighted content.
- Creating social media sites that are branded as Dartmouth-Hitchcock without the approval of Communications & Marketing
Don't be discouraged
It's hard to write about a policy without sounding like I'm wagging my finger at you. But I'm really not. We wouldn't bother with a policy at all if, on a fundamental level, we didn't want all our employees to be active, informed members of the social space. You have a voice, and you know your stories. We want you to share them. By also knowing the guidelines that our peers across the country must follow as well, you choose to share them responsibly.
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