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Conference Proceeding

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This paper investigates the opinions of physicians and patients regarding the use of Facebook to communicate with one another about health-related issues. We analyzed 290 comments posted on online discussion boards and found that most (51.7%) were opposed to physicians being Facebook “friends” with patients and many (42%) were opposed to physicians having any kind of Facebook presence. The primary reasons for this opposition were concerns about privacy and the need to maintain professional boundaries in the physician-patient relationship. Others expressed concerns about HIPAA violations. Some believed it was acceptable for physicians to use Facebook as long as they were careful and professional and that health care organizations should have a social media policy or code of conduct, as well as provide social media training. Many proponents of physicians using Facebook mentioned that Facebook could be a useful business tool for marketing, sharing information and making communication between physicians and patients easier. We conclude with suggestions for how healthcare administrators can provide assistance to physicians and effectively manage their social media presence.


Presented at the Southern Management Association Annual Meeting at New Orleans, LA., November 5-9, 2013.

PowerPoint presentation is also attached: How could, should, and would physicians use Facebook with patients?

The conference proceedings are available at Submitted to the Health Care track.

Copyright © 2013, the authors. All rights reserved.