The American College of Physicians and the FSMB released a paper examining and providing recommendations regarding the influence of social media on the patient-physician relationship. It also addresses the role of online media and public perception of physician behaviors and strategies for patient-physician communications that preserve confidentiality while best utilizing new technologies.
The paper includes a chart of online activities, potential benefits and dangers, and recommended safeguards for physician behavior. For example, communicating with patients using email offers the potential benefits of accessibility and immediacy of answers. The potential dangers are confidentiality concerns, replacement of face-to-face interaction, and misinterpretation of digital interactions. The safeguards include reserving digital communications for those that maintain face-to-face follow-up only.