Refresh for the RACGP’s social media guide

Social media

A range of general practice teams, consumers and medico-legal organisations were consulted to assist with the update of the guide.

Social media in general practice provides recommendations on the professional and safe use of social media in general practice settings – which, the guide states, is ‘paramount’.

The updated guide is aimed at practices that are new to social media, but is also beneficial to those already using it, outlining key advantages and disadvantages for individual practices engaging in social media.

The guide includes new sections on common social media platforms, including:

  • Instagram – the guide recommends the direct messaging function not be used to communicate directly with patients
  • Twitter – including tips for writing effective tweets and following ‘influencers’
  • Facebook – the guide recommends the star ratings function be disabled so reviews are not interpreted as testimonials. This is in accordance with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency’s recommendations on the use of testimonials.

The Social media policy template for general practices has also been updated to accompany use of the guide.

Dr Tim Senior is a GP who has been active on Twitter since 2011 and currently has nearly 9000 followers. He uses the platform to engage in discussion with other health professionals, academics, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations.

The social media guide features a case study of Dr Senior. While highlighting his use of Twitter to acknowledge his profession as a GP, he is clear that he does not post on behalf of a practice or his employers.

Dr Senior said he has found Twitter to be ‘a useful tool in enhancing his career as a GP’, enabling him to link directly with a thoughtful and informed group of like-minded professionals, as well as research and patient perspectives, across Australia and the world.

Citing his Twitter ‘rule’, Dr Senior avoids tweeting unless he has something interesting to add and often deliberately tries to question or challenge prevailing wisdom. He regularly bases opinions on evidence, using humour and posing questions to provoke discussion.

The development of social media guide saw the RACGP consult a range of GPs, practice managers, consumer representatives and medico-legal organisations to provide the most up-to-date advice to general practices on the use of social media.