Dos and Don’ts of Online Profiles for Medical Professionals

HealthDay News — In a technologically advanced society, physicians need to take advantage of the internet to reach patients and exercise caution in their online presence, according to a report published by the American Medical Association.1

At a recent education session, 2 physicians discussed the need for physicians to be visible online. They emphasized that physicians need to improve information available online, including on HealthGrades, Yelp, and ProPublica, as well as other sites. Information should be accurate and up-to-date. When physicians update their profiles, they should remember that inaccurate information reflects on the physician; that physicians don’t have control over comments; and that a professional profile that looks great does not provide control over what patients write.

Physicians must exercise caution with sharing online and responding to patient comments. The best policy can be found from the Mayo Clinic, which includes not misrepresenting yourself, being transparent about who you are, not violating patient privacy, not revealing too much personal information, and remembering that once information is out there, it is out there.

To protect their online reputation while increasing visibility, physicians should choose one professional photo for use across all websites; update profiles with clear, consistent, and factual information; provide educational resources; never engage online with a patient who leaves a negative review; and use strategic networking to stay relevant in practice and profession. Patients are looking for ratings and content, so physicians should update and claim profiles.

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  1. Berg S. Web-savvy patients shape physicians’ digital do’s and don’ts. AMA Wire. Published June 28, 2017. Accessed July 6, 2017.