Social media: avoiding pitfalls

Social media is a cost effective business tool but there are risks too. The following is an extract from the NPA’s Essential Pharmacy Business Pack 


Used appropriately, social media can be a cost effective way to publicise and promote new systems and services and capture and share feedback. Using these tools in the right way for your business can be an ideal route to connect with the public and other healthcare professionals. To protect yourself, follow the ‘LACE’ acronym:

Legal

Pharmacists need to consider contractual and regulatory standards that may affect use of social media within the pharmacy. These include:

  • General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) Standards of conduct, ethics and performance – the practice of all pharmacy professionals registered with GPhC must meet these standards. The Data Protection Act 1998 – promotes the handling of personal information and the protection of an individual’s right to privacy.
  • Information Governance toolkit – this sets out the contractual requirements
    for Information Governance management, confidentiality and Data Protection assurance and information security assurance.
  • The NHS Brand Guidelines – guidance regarding use of the NHS logo.
  • The Human Rights Act 1998 – Article 8 of Schedule 1 of the Act stipulates a right to “respect for private and family life” which is applicable to both patient confidentiality and the rights of staff members to privacy and freedom of speech.
  • Copyright: Gov.uk – this applies to the use of web and published material belonging to others and how copyright law is applicable to your own sites and published work.
  • The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 – this legislation is applicable to both public and private communication networks and covers the extent to which an employer can monitor and record communications at the point at which they enter or are sent within the organisation’s telecommunication system.

Accessible & Convenient

Most social media platforms are free of charge. Before you start, have a basic knowledge of the features, uses and safe rules for some of the common ones including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. NPA members can download social media template updates from npa.co.uk to promote a range of healthcare topics, from hayfever and falls to flu and diabetes.

Explicit

Write a social media policy which includes clear stipulations on:

  • Personal use of internet and emails during work hours
  • What staff can and cannot say about their employer, workplace and other colleagues
  • Personal use of mobile telephones and laptop computers.

Also, consider the following points:

  • The consequences of any breach of the written policy – setting out clear boundaries on issues such as what would be derogatory, offensive or inappropriate remarks about the pharmacy business, their other colleagues or patients
  • Conduct a regular review of the written policy
  • Seek advice at the earliest opportunity and prior to taking action against employees

The above is an extract from the social media section of the Essential Pharmacy Business Pack. The full resource can be downloaded at npa.co.uk/business-pack.

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