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June 7, 2013

Health Care Social Media and Professionalism

By Farris Timimi MD, Medical Director, Mayo Clinic Social Media Network

Health Care Social Media and Professionalism explores professional expectations and behaviors relative to social networking tools and health care.

See the video presentation below. If you want a copy of the slides you may open them in another window on Slideshare for review and/or download.

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It is critical that you have effective and clear social media guidelines for your employees, with the expectation that they apply whether employees and students are posting to their own sites or commenting on other sites, to include personal blogs and other websites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube or others.  Please review the Mayo Clinic Employee Social media guidelines.

For a Tweet-ready 12-word social media policy that focuses on the key and core elements of professional behavior in the digital era, see my Social Media Health Network blog post, dated April 5, 2012.

For an overview of the expectation and requirement to meet our patients where they are spending more and more of their time, see my position piece on the moral requirement for health care providers to participate in social media.

A critical element of professionalism centers on meaningful orientation.  Please view #SocialAtMayo – Mayo Clinic's Social Media Guidelines, our orientation video for Mayo Clinic employees.

As you are developing your plan for applying social media in your work, be sure that you have developed or reviewed your existing social media policy.  In addition, consider the development of an orientation strategy for new employees, coupled with ongoing review of expectations for professional behavior for your existing employees.  Finally, carefully consider your training tools for employees.  These three interventions, namely guidelines, orientation and training, can effectively ensure that your employees are your strongest asset in their use of social networking and social media.


Tags: Learning Modules, Legal & Ethical Issues

Liked by Lisa Lucier, JerrySoucyRN, Todd Lohenry, Kerry Burke



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Posted by @meganrmyers, Jun 11, 2013

I will be using social media to provide a platform for patients with Lynch syndrome to post questions and share personal stories about their diagnosis of Lynch syndrome. I will create podcasts with physcians who specialize in Lynch syndrome to help educate patients with Lynch syndrome who are speaking information on a syndrome that is under recognized.

Liked by Guest1, Pamela


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Posted by @dede, Jun 11, 2013

We have just drafted our social media guidelines and will be looking into how too disseminate the info … Perhaps through a video blog or the introduction of yammer for our employees. We are just in the beginning of thinking about implementation of social media so all suggestions are welcome!

alison mallouk

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Joined: May 01, 2013
Posted by @amallouk, Jun 12, 2013


In the post below from @kaiosa, we share some of the ways we routinely inform/remind our employees of our guidelines. We find that each time we do a reminder, we get notifications of sites we were unaware of, or requests for start up, help, etc.

We use our intranet, employee emails, newsletters, etc.

Liked by Denise

Kari Skipper Foster

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Posted by @kskipperfoster, Jun 12, 2013

Hi Denise. I like using Lunch & Learns because it gives you an opportunity to educate staff about social media and online safety – lessons they can take back to their families. It also gives you the opportunity to dispell popular myths. Going forward, it can be included in new hire orientation.

Liked by mgeoghegan, Denise

Posted by @FarrisTimimi, Jun 12, 2013

I agree Kari-achieving professionalism requires a multi-tiered approach, ranging from onboarding and established employees. I really think the most powerful examples are the often the most personal, to include discussions of actual errors and the correct approach.

Kelsey Aiosa

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Joined: May 02, 2013
Posted by @kaiosa, Jun 12, 2013

(replying on behalf of Alison Mallouk and myself)

Our organization worked closely with HR and legal to develop a formal social media policy. More recently, we have taken some key elements from the policy and broken them down into a friendlier, easy-to-understand one page sheet that is distributed at employee orientation.

We also have our policies and tip sheets on our employee Intranet and we make sure to create new guidelines each time we begin working on a new platform. In addition to the Intranet and new employee orientation, we routinely run reminder articles in our weekly hospital newsletter and enewsletter that outline some basics and direct employees as to where they can find full versions of the policies.


Posted by @FarrisTimimi, Jun 12, 2013

I think the idea of reminder articles is a critical yet often overlooked element. Risk mitigation is an ongoing process, and your approach of continued education is critical.

Carol Gunderson

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Posted by @carolgunderson, Oct 2, 2013

I agree with Farris. As a Mayo employee, I greatly appreciate the periodic articles/reminders that appear in This Week. We all need refreshers on current policies.


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Posted by @mark994w, Jun 12, 2013

This video was by far one of the best I have seen. It was crystal clear in its message and how it met its goals. Beyond the topic of professionalism was the fact that this as much as the previous videos clearly demonstrated why SM is critical to improving healthcare when executed against an educational strategy. Perhaps I am mistaken but the issue of how to achieve professionalism is very clear and well stated here. It is something we as a community are struggling with but the ability to bring more HCP, providers, patients, etc. into healthcare social media is equally if not more important. This video seemed to do that well.

Posted by @FarrisTimimi, Jun 12, 2013

Thank you so much! I really appreciate your kind words and insightful observations.

Liked by Todd Lohenry


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Posted by @will, Sep 9, 2013

I have to concur with this sentiment.

Natalie DeGrandis

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Joined: Jun 05, 2013
Posted by @nataliedegrandis, Jun 17, 2013

When it comes to effective use of social media, my approach is strongly rooted in authenticity. The most effective HCPs possess more skills than just medical expertise; they have an outstanding bedside manner. With that comes truthful and honest interactions with patients that build a trusting relationship. If a HCP can’t effectively communicate with their patients (or audience), then it has ramifications and potentially even impede the healing process. In addition, a well-respected HCP will treat their patients with the upmost professionalism — understanding the importance of privacy. These two skills lend themselves to social media as well. Simply because there a patient is not physically present, it doesn’t mean that they are not listening.


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Posted by @mark994w, Jun 20, 2013

Hi all and it was a pleasure to meet everyone and to learn from our shared experiences. The course, the lectures, the exercises, and most of all the participants aided me in reinforcing my goals: to apply social media in my business.

My plan of action is to improve my ability and skill sets in communicating my business goals and experience to a wider audience with greater engagement. Linking social media with a business strategy is a key tactic to improve my knowledge and share that knowledge with others who share my goals to improve patient care and lower utilization costs. Thank you Mayo thank you fellow learners.

“We must, in other words, become adept at learning. We must become able not only to transform our institutions, in response to changing situations and requirements; we must invent and develop institutions which are ‘learning systems’, that is to say, systems capable of bringing about their own continuing transformation.” Donald Schon Learning, reflection, and change.

Kate Ballantyne

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Posted by @kateballantyne, Aug 8, 2013

Our ehealth department has developed a social media policy, but I think disseminating it via our employee intranet and new employee orientations would be wise.

Patricia Aidem

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Joined: Aug 08, 2013
Posted by @paidem, Aug 12, 2013

We provide training in the dos and don’ts regarding social media at employee orientation and follow up through our mandatory annual on-line training.We’ve also rewritten policies at the regional level to address social media use by our organization.

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