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Medical marketing & social media – ethics & guidelines for doctors & private practices

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Running a private medical practice involves more than just clinical activities. It’s crucial for consultants and managers to stay up to date on any changes to relevant regulations, such as the new General Data Protection Regulations, coming into effect in May 2018. It is also vital that the activities of the practice are conducted in line with guidance from the authorities (such as the GMC and the BMA). Services need to be marketed appropriately, especially when growing a practice. This week, we’ll be taking a look at what needs to be considered when assessing and implementing your private practice’s medical marketing and social media strategy.

Social media

A cost-effective medical marketing method, a huge part of many people’s lives, and a main way of communicating for many businesses. However, for doctors there are issues that need to be kept in mind when communicating in a professional capacity with patients, clients and colleagues over social media. These platforms are easy to use and can generate great levels of interested in your practice, but there are guidelines that need to be followed in relation to their ethical use.

  • Confidentiality – GMC guidelines state that doctors must be honest in all communications with patients, clients and colleagues. When using social media doctors need to be aware that a patient’s network may be able to see any communications between the two parties – confidentiality, therefore, is key.
  • Stay professional – Act with integrity, be honest and be trustworthy. As well as being good rules to play by in business, doctors are professionally obliged to act in this way in line with good medical practice guidelines.
  • Know your sites – Designated Medical’s MD, Jane Braithwaite, has written previously about the need to understand social media. Facebook and Twitter are of course two of the most popular sites for businesses and are the best platforms to use to connect with potential patients and clients, with LinkedIn providing a channel for communications with colleagues primarily.

Doctors need to assess the possible risks when using social media, and have a good understanding of the fact that misusing this tool could impact adversely on patient-doctor relationships and your professional reputation.

Medical marketing & advertising

The use of social media may involve more than just communicating with patients. As mentioned above, it is also a great tool for marketing and for advertising your practice. However, there are GMC guidelines to keep in mind for this area, too:

  • Any adverts for your practice must be factual and should not take advantage of your patients’ lack of medical knowledge.
  • The marketing of certain services and specialities is subject to specific guidelines. For cosmetic surgery, for example, surgeons need to make sure that their marketing makes it clear that a medical assessment will be conducted before any treatments are carried out. Treatments and services cannot be offered as prizes, and surgeons must be upfront about the results of any cosmetic procedure. This is crucial in terms of managing patient expectations.

 

Designated Medical

 

Our team at Designated Medical know how important it is to work within these guidelines. As part of our thorough induction process are required to read and sign our in-house medical marketing and social media policy. We also have a talented digital marketing team, who specialise in social media strategy and management and search engine optimisation. You can read more about the services available here.

For more information about how we can help you grow your practice through online marketing contact us here or call 020 7952 1008.

 

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