Using Social Media to Promote Your Healthcare Practice Doesn’t Have to Be an Ethical Minefield

Consumers want help to make informed healthcare decisions; everyone now turns to Dr Google for ‘trustworthy and credible’ information. All too often, consumers are directed towards misinformation or snake-oil solutions for their healthcare problems. One of the simplest solutions is for qualified healthcare providers to contribute their knowledge to the digital cosmos.

Unfortunately, the internet, and social media specifically, have been identified as ethical minefields for healthcare practitioners and many health practitioners now abstain from social media.

How could social media abstinence be a problem?

Without the voice of qualified, well-informed health practitioners in digital cosmos, we are left with fake-news and snake-oil. There is a golden opportunity here for healthcare practitioners to fill the black hole with health information that is trustworthy, credible, current, and evidence-based. Information that conveys professionalism and builds connections with potential clients to create and deliver products and services that meet their needs.


Four ways you can use social media ethically

Let’s now explore Ahpra’s guidelines on how you can meet your professional obligations while using social media.

  1. Maintain professional standards when using social media, even for personal use
  2. Comments need to be consistent with the codes, standards and guidelines of your profession, and not contradict endorsed public health campaigns or messaging
  3. Testimonials cannot be used in advertising (to understand why visit this link)
  4. Advertising should describe the intended benefits of services and provide credible research evidence about efficacy

Promote professionalism not products

Rather than focusing on promoting products and services, healthcare practitioners need to focus on promoting professionalism. Promoting professionalism uses a Pull Marketing Strategy which draws clients to your services and products and aims to build a loyal client base, providing them with trustworthy, credible, current, and evidence-based healthcare services.

Social Media gives instant connection to your clients. Here are four strategies with some starter ideas about how you can use social media to pull clients towards your healthcare practice:

  1. Locate
    1. Build a foundation website and blog that links to social media platforms LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and/or YouTube
    2. Use a consistent theme and logo
  2. Update
    1. Write a blog focusing on health issues relevant to your practice
    2. Showcase services and products
    3. Introduce new team members
  3. Educate
    1. Build an evidence-based healthcare blog – a great example of an evidence-based blog about pain management
    2. Host webinars – encourage participants to share their learning using hashtags on Twitter
    3. Create a regular informative podcast
  4. Collaborate
    1. Create online forums for clients and another for colleagues
    2. Build, broaden and strengthen professional networks through LinkedIn

Suppose you follow the golden rule that everything you post in social media will be founded on professionalism. In that case, the potential social media minefield is easy to navigate and can be used to help future clients discover your practice.

About the Author

Dr Anita Hamilton is an occupational therapy educator at the University of the Sunshine Coast, a Lego Serious Play Facilitator and EMBA student. She can be found on LinkedIn, Twitter, or contacted by email:

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