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Social media marketing has become an important marketing tool for many businesses, including healthcare. Social media provides an outlet for connecting with existing patients and meeting new ones. The trick, however, is to be strategic and purposeful with your social media marketing intentions and actions. The permanent and public nature of the Internet brings risk to any user. Here are four common mistakes that can wreak havoc on any business.

HIPAA Violations

It can be tempting to let yourself be drawn into a conversation with a patient about their experience – but be warned – you risk a HIPAA violation. The Internet is a vast resource of information, but what many people fail to realize is that any piece of content posted online remains there indefinitely. Anyone can view it. Internet privacy may seem like a myth, but for physicians, it must be priority number one. Plus as a covered entity, you are bound to protect your patient’s information.

Online Diagnoses

Patients may mistakenly post questions or concerns of a medical nature on your social media page. The way you address this type of post can be a blessing or a curse for your practice. Don’t risk a misdiagnosis or HIPAA violation. Instead, instruct the person who posted to contact the office directly. Your social media pages should provide a place for patients to receive support, information and even fun, but it should never be a proxy for your medical practice.

Questionable Content

Millions of pieces of content are shared everyday through social media. Each piece represents something about the user. The same is true of your practice’s posts. What you post represents your practice. Be mindful of this when planning your posts. Use discretion with photos, images and other media. What may seem fine to you may not be fine for a potential patient who is visiting your page for the first time.


A heartfelt comment left by a patient can bring a smile to your face. Shouldn’t you return the favor? Ignoring patient comments can be detrimental to your practice. Remember the purpose of social media is to be social. Encourage people to leave comments and be sure to take the time to respond to them when they do. Just be mindful of HIPAA when posting!

By understanding the rules of engagement for using social media in healthcare you protect your practice from unnecessary risk and can enjoy the benefits of this economical medical marketing strategy.