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Personal social media use can also create work-related challenges. Using it at work can give your managers, co-workers and patients the wrong impression.

Regardless of your privacy settings, your posts may be seen by anyone. Something you posted without much thought could affect your professional reputation. Disclosing patient information, even unintentionally, may be a violation of federal laws and Medical Center policy 0021.

We created this guide to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about social media and work.

My Facebook and Twitter accounts are set so that only my friends can see what I post, so I can post whatever I want, right?

No. Your social media accounts are not really yours; they are ultimately owned by the company that owns the site, which may do whatever it wishes with your content. The FTC and technology and social media experts have criticized Facebook and Instagram for their confusing changes to privacy settings and sharing profile information with third-party applications.

Additionally, most people have many “friends” on social sites who they wouldn’t consider close friends offline. Even if your account is set to friends only, friends and followers could still take screenshots and share them with anyone.

Is anyone at the Health System monitoring what I post?

The marketing department follows social media business best practices by monitoring websites, including Facebook, Twitter and other social sites, for keywords that may reference the Health System, including “UVA Hospital,” “UVA Health System” and “UVA School of Medicine.”

We do this primarily for service recovery and to help patients and their families. Many social media users, particularly Twitter users and bloggers, have come to expect that if they share a negative experience, they will receive a response just as they would if they called or emailed the organization.

In doing this monitoring, we occasionally come across posts from employees. Generally, we ignore these posts. However, if your post violates patient confidentiality or violates another Medical Center or School of Medicine policy, we may forward it to Human Resources for evaluation and follow-up.

Keep in mind that if you are connected to your co-workers on social media sites, they will also see what you post and may report anything inappropriate.

The best way to ensure that your posts are not seen by the Health System is to set your accounts to private or friends only, and avoid posts that reflect negatively on you.

Should I accept or initiate friend requests from patients? My manager?

Some people only use social media for professional purposes. But if you share details of your personal life on these sites, you should refrain from friending supervisors.   

It’s also inappropriate to friend or accept friend requests from patients, unless you have a friendship with them that pre-dates the patient-provider relationship.

You can politely decline to be friends with patients by letting them know that you do not accept friend requests from any patients.

Can I use social media sites while on break?

You should never use social media sites in a location where patients or their families can see what’s on your screen. Even if the patient is not yours, this can create the perception that you are more interested in your social media account than doing your job properly.

Is it okay to talk about work on social media?

The simple answer: assume anything you post can be seen by your manager, administrator, colleagues, patients and anyone else.

Describing, photographing or filming patients without permission, even if you feel the patient isn’t identifiable, may be a violation of Medical Center policies 0030 and 0021 and result in discipline, termination or even legal action.

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UVA Health System
Brand Online

University of Virginia Health System
Strategic Relations and Marketing
PO Box 800224
Charlottesville, VA 22908
P. 434.924.0366