ABSTRACT: Online Medical Professionalism: Patient and Public Relationships: Policy Statement From the American College of Physicians and the Federation of State Medical Boards.
Abstract: User-created content and communications on Web-based applications, such as networking sites, media sharing sites, or blog platforms, have dramatically increased in popularity over the past several years, but there has been little policy or guidance on the best practices to inform standards for the professional conduct of physicians in the digital environment. Areas of specific concern include the use of such media for nonclinical purposes, implications for confidentiality, the use of social media in patient education, and how all of this affects the publics trust in physicians as patient-physician interactions extend into the digital environment. Opportunities afforded by online applications represent a new frontier in medicine as physicians and patients become more connected. This position paper from the American College of Physicians and the Federation of State Medical Boards examines and provides recommendations about the influence of social media on the patient-physician relationship, the role of these media in public perception of physician behaviors, and strategies for physician-physician communication that preserve confidentiality while best using these technologies.