MedStar Internet Communications & Social Networking Policy - EMS Insider - @

MedStar Internet Communications & Social Networking Policy


| Sunday, April 11, 2010

Emerging platforms for online collaboration are fundamentally changing the way we work, offering new ways to engage with friends, colleagues, and the world at large. It's a new model for interaction, and we believe social networking and sharing of factual information with relevant stakeholders can help us to build stronger, more successful community and personal relationships. It's also a way for employees to take part in global conversations related to the work we are doing at MedStar and the things we care about.

If done in compliance with MedStar's policies, the use of social media technologies and "blogging" to enhance communication, collaboration, and information exchange in support of MedStar's mission is acceptable. By openly sharing knowledge, best practices, and lessons learned within the organization with and from other stakeholders, we can provide more effective solutions and efficiencies to enhance excellence in the delivery of emergency medical services.

This policy is designed to preserve the employee's right to engage in social networking and sharing of information through various on-line media forums, while maintaining compliance with MedStar's policies, standards of conduct and patient privacy rules. The purpose of these guidelines is to help employees understand how MedStar policies apply to these newer technologies for communication, so they can participate with confidence in blogs and other social media platforms.

Among the MedStar policies most pertinent to this policy are those concerning, patient confidentiality, media relations, camera use, mutual respect, computer, e-mail & Internet use, and MedStar's standards of conduct.


The same basic policies and standards of conduct rules apply to MedStar employees engaging in communication through blogs and social networking sites as in other areas of their on- and off-duty conduct.

  1. Employees should be aware that others, including peers and other employees, may be actively reading what is published online. In choosing words and content, it's a good practice for employees to consider that their supervisor and family members may read everything they post, and therefore, employees should exercise judgment before posting. Using a Weblog to bash or embarrass MedStar, our stakeholders, co-responders, or co-workers or supervisors is inconsistent with MedStar's Mission, Vision and standards of conduct.
  2. MedStar reserves the right to monitor employees' off-duty activity with regard to social networking or blogging and apply our corrective action policy should it be determined that an employee's conduct is inconsistent with our policies.
  3. The following activities are specifically prohibited under this policy:

Sharing Protected Health Information (PHI). PHI includes, but is not limited to the patient's name, address, age, race, extent or nature of illness or injury, hospital destination, and crew member names

  • Posting photos, videos, or images of any kind which could potentially identify patients, addresses, vehicle license plate numbers, or any other PHI as outlined within MedStar's Field Operations SOP, "Camera Use" policy
  • Sharing confidential or proprietary information about MedStar
  • Posting or other online activities which are inconsistent with or would negatively impact MedStar's reputation
  • Engaging in vulgar or abusive language, personal attacks of any kind, or offensive terms targeting individuals or groups
  • Endorsement of commercial products, services, or entities
  • Posting statements which may be perceived as derogatory, inflammatory, or disrespectful

Posting Online Comments on Third-Party Sites (response to news articles, posts on other people's sites, or blogs)

  1. Employees should consult with MedStar's Public Information Officer prior to engaging in communication related to MedStar issues or activities through blogs or comment sections of materials posted on the Internet.
  2. If employees communicate in the public Internet about MedStar or MedStar-related matters, they should disclose their connection with MedStar and their role at MedStar. Employees should use good judgment and strive for accuracy in their communications; errors and omissions reflect poorly on MedStar and may result in liability for the employee and/or MedStar.
  3. Employees should use a personal email address (not their MedStar address) as their primary means of identification. Just as employees would not use MedStar stationery for a letter to the editor with their personal views, they should not use their MedStar e-mail address for personal views.
  4. Employees should be respectful and professional to fellow employees, community partners, co-responder, and patients and avoid using unprofessional online personas.

Personal Blogs or Other Social Networking Content
Employees should ensure that their blogging and social networking activity does not interfere with work commitments.

  1. Where a connection to MedStar is apparent, employees should make it clear that they are speaking for themselves and not on behalf of MedStar. In these circumstances, the following disclaimer is recommended: "The views expressed on this [blog; website] are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer." Furthermore, employees should consider adding this language in an "About me" section of their blog or social networking profile. This disclaimer does not by itself exempt employees from a special responsibility when blogging; employees should remember that their online behavior should still reflect and be consistent with MedStar's established standards of conduct.
  2. Employees should always ask the Public Information Officer if they have any questions about what is appropriate to include in their personal blog or social networking profile. Again, employees should remember that if they wouldn't want their supervisors or others at MedStar to see their comments, it is unwise to post them to the Internet.
  3. Members of MedStar's management and supervisory team are discouraged from becoming "friends" of employees on social networking sites as this could lead to challenging employee relations issues.

MedStar Sponsored Sites or Content
As MedStar engages in official conversations on the Internet, the following code of ethics applies, both in MedStar sponsored sites and in official comments on other sites.

  1. MedStar blog posts and comments will be accurate and factual.
  • MedStar will acknowledge and correct mistakes promptly.
  • When corrections are made, MedStar will preserve the original post, showing by strikethrough what corrections have been made, to maintain integrity.
  • MedStar will delete spam and/or comments that are off-topic.
  • MedStar will reply to emails and comments when appropriate.
  • MedStar will link directly to online references and original source materials.
  1. MedStar may choose to utilize various social networking tools to communicate and engage the public and workforce. Those tools (Facebook, YouTube videos, Twitter, etc.) shall be used in support of
  2. MedStar's business objectives and must be approved and coordinated through the Public Information Officer. Medstar staff may be asked by supervisors or leadership to participate in development and/or maintenance of such tools, in coordination with the Public Information Officer.
  3. Use of external web sites for work-related purposes (photo sharing or video posting) must be first approved by Public Information Officer.

Standards of Conduct

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Related Topics: EMS Insider, Leadership and Professionalism, Operations and Protcols, social networking policy, Medstar EMS, EMS social networking, EMS social media

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