Set clear social media policy before unlocking access

Hospitals have varying degrees of openness in social media policies--some dedicating entire advisory boards to promote it, while others limit access.

A hospital privacy committee at Madison Memorial Hospital on Tuesday approved broader access to social media sites for employees and patients, the Standard Journal reported. Starting in September, the Rexburg, Idaho, county-owned hospital will unlock Facebook, permitting users to post and view the social network on the hospital's wireless Internet. The overdue change, according to complaining physicians and patients, stalled because the hospital lacked a clear policy for safe and productive social media, according to Madison Memorial Hospital spokesman Doug McBride.

"We hear a lot of problems happening in the work environment," he said. "We want to accommodate the employees and the patients, but we wanted to make sure we had the policies set in place first."

Massachusetts General Hospital, which posts its social media policy on the hospital website, notes that some rules of the road for employees are to ensure that social networking activity doesn't interfere with work, to use personal email addresses and of course, apply existing hospital policies and procedures.

"Let's get one thing out in the open. Your employees are using social media and, yes, sometimes at work," Mike Morrison, a hospital media relations officer, previously wrote on Hospital Impact. Morrison recommended after hospitals develop a policy to make sure employees know about it through organizationwide announcements and orientations for new employees.

For more information:
- read the Standard Journal article
- see the Mass General social media policy
- here's the Hospital Impact blog post

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