Rutland Regional Staff...Connecting through Social Media
If you are an employee, volunteer, physician or other associate of Rutland Regional, then this applies to you. As a member of the Rutland Regional family, everything your say or do in a social setting may connect back to our organization. To protect the organization and yourself, here are some guidelines.
This is only an overview – please read Rutland Regional’s full Social Media Policy located in the Policies & Procedures section of the RRMC Insider.
These principles apply to those personal online activities where you might refer to Rutland Regional, its services or affiliates.
- Be a Fan! Follow Rutland Regional’s social media channels and when you see information on our social media channels that may be helpful to your friends or family, share it. If you like something we’ve posted, tell us.
- Adhere to All Hospital Policies at All Times. At work, at home, and elsewhere. Whether engaged in social networking during business hours or after hours, employees must adhere to all employment policies including but not limited to Social Media, E-mail Policy, Internet Policy, Confidentiality Policy, Code of Conduct Policy, Computer Security Policy, Harassment and Discrimination Policy and HIPAA. Specifically, protect patient privacy through compliance with all regulations and policies regarding patient information.
Employees/students/volunteers/affiliated individuals should not post protected health information (ex. patient photographs, films, X-rays or diagnostic information) or any patient identifiers including but not limited to the following:
- Name, Address, City, County or Zip Code
- Dates Related to the Individual, e.g. Date of Birth, Admission Date
- Telephone, Cell, Fax Number
- Social Security Number
- Medical Record Number
- Health Plan Beneficiary Numbers
- Account Numbers
- E-mail Addresses
- Names of Relatives
- Name of Employers
- Certificate/License Numbers
- Vehicle Identifiers and Serial Numbers, including License Plate Numbers
- Device Identifiers and Serial Numbers
- Web Universal Resource Locators (URLs)
- Internet Protocol (IP) Address Numbers
- Biometric Identifiers, including Finger and Voice Prints
- Full Face Photographic Images, Videos and any Comparable Images
- Any Other Unique Identifying Number, Characteristic, or Code (Whether Generally Available in the Public Realm or Not)
- Do Not Access Social Media while Performing Safety Sensitive Functions. Under no circumstances may an employee access social media on mobile devices while driving for work related reasons or performing other safety sensitive work functions.
- You Are Responsible for Your Actions. You are “speaking” publicly and your contribution may stay searchable and retrievable for a long time to a broad audience – both internally and externally. Anything that brings damage to Rutland Regional or its reputation will ultimately be your responsibility. This does not mean that you should refrain from any activity, but that you should use common sense and take at least the same caution with social media as with all other forms of communication.
- Consider Your Content Carefully...a Posting on the Web Lives Forever. Be respectful and professional. A good rule of thumb is to post only something you would want your manager to see. Employees are prohibited from posting or disseminating any confidential Hospital information including but not limited to internal e-mail, Hospital financials, copyright-protected material, and intellectual property.
- Avoid Mixing Your Personal and Business Lives. There is no separation for others between your personal and your business profiles within social media. Even when you are not at work, be aware at all times you are still an employee of Rutland Regional. Rutland Regional respects the free speech rights of all employees, but keep in mind that patients, customers, competitors and colleagues may have access to the content you post online via blogs, social media sites, or other personal websites. As such, publishing information online that was originally intended for a small group can be shared and forwarded to anyone.
- Generally, Do Not “Friend” Patients or practice medicine online on social media websites. Rutland Regional strongly discourages staff from initiating or accepting friend requests from or with patients or giving medical advice. A possible exception to friending a patient may be if you had a pre-existing friendship pre-dating the treatment relationship. Even in that situation, all Rutland Regional policies and guidelines apply.
- Respect Scheduled Work Time and Resources. Internet access is a privilege and must be used in a manner consistent with Rutland Regional’s Code of Conduct. Rutland Regional recognizes that social networking has become a common method of professional and personal communication, much like the telephone or e-mail. Ensure that personal social media activity does not interfere with your work commitments. Specifically, employees are free to engage in personal social networking during the lunch hour, scheduled work breaks, and before and after normal work hours. Social networking which is excessive, or interferes with job responsibilities is subject to disciplinary action.
- Use Your Personal E-mail Address (not your rrmc.org address) as your primary means of identification. Just as you would not use Rutland Regional stationery for a letter to the editor with your personal views, do not use your Rutland Regional e-mail address to express your personal views. Your social media name, handle and URL should not include Rutland Regional’s name or logo. Using your business e-mail address on personal blogs or public social networking sites is a violation of this policy as well as Rutland Regional’s Computer Security Policy and Anti-Spam Guidelines.
- Be Clear that Your Posts, Blog or Otherwise, Reflect Your Personal Opinion; You Do Not Speak for the Hospital. Personal blogs and other posts should be written in an honest, transparent, first person style (i.e. “In my opinion,” “I am not aware”).
When your connection to Rutland Regional is apparent, be clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of Rutland Regional (e.g. “It’s my personal opinion”). In those circumstances, you should include this disclaimer in an “About Me” section of your blog or social networking profile: “This is a personal site, produced in my own time and solely reflecting my personal opinions. The views, opinions, comments, and other content expressed and contained on this site do not represent the views or policies of my employer, past or present, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated.”
If you are commenting on any of Rutland Regional’s competitors’ products or initiatives in a public forum or on a website or personal blog, make sure to fully disclose your affiliation with Rutland Regional and that your opinions are personal and are not attributable to Rutland Regional. (Example: “I work for Rutland Regional Medical Center; All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent the position of my employer”).
Employees may not post any business-related photos or videos of images including but not limited to logos, facilities, employees, executives, customers, job applicants and official Hospital documents on personal blogs or social networking profiles without prior authorization from Marketing & Public Relations (M&PR).
- Be Careful if Talking about Rutland Regional – Only Share Publicly Available Information. Only select employees are authorized to “officially” speak on behalf of Rutland Regional as this may have serious legal repercussions for you and the organization. You likely are not one of those individuals. Engage only in discussions where you are comfortable and knowledgeable about the topic. Make sure to share only information that is publicly available. If you are unsure if information is publicly available or is otherwise inappropriate to post, contact the Communications Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 802.772.2843 before posting any such information.
- If You Mention Rutland Regional or Related Matters, Disclose Your Connection with Rutland Regional and Your Role. Be professional and strive for accuracy in your communications; errors and omissions reflect poorly on you and on Rutland Regional and may result in liability. If your blog, posting or other online activities are inconsistent with, or would negatively impact Rutland Regional’s reputation or brand, you should not refer to Rutland Regional, or identify your connection to Rutland Regional.
- Follow the Rutland Regional Code of Conduct. When “speaking” be compliant with the Rutland Regional Code of Conduct, as well as all other Rutland Regional Policies & Guidelines (i.e. Protection of Privacy, etc). Be respectful of all individuals, races, religions and cultures; how you conduct yourself in the online social media space not only reflects on you – it can fall back on Rutland Regional and all its employees.
- Abide by the Law and Respect Copyright Laws. Employees may not post content or conduct any activity that fails to conform to any and all applicable state and federal laws. For Rutland Regional’s and its employees’ protection, it is critical that everyone abide by the copyright laws by ensuring that they have permission to use or reproduce any copyrighted text, photos, graphics, video or other material owned by others.
- Mind the Global Audience. Even if you are posting on a “local” platform, the information may be accessed globally. This is particularly important considering the stringent regulations in the Healthcare industry. While your message may be accurate in some parts of the world, it could be inaccurate or violate regulations in others. Be mindful that different cultures have different values, and statements that are deemed acceptable or even funny in one culture may be considered offensive in others. Keep that “world view” in mind when you are participating in online conversations.
- Remember the Venue. Social media is not the most appropriate place to share your concerns about employment or co-workers. Issues of this nature are best worked out with your co-workers, management or Human Resources (HR) as appropriate.
- Be a “Scout”. Even if you are not an official online spokesperson, you are one of Rutland Regional’s most vital assets for monitoring the social media landscape. If you come across positive or negative remarks about Rutland Regional or its services or Affiliates online that you believe are important, consider sharing them by forwarding them to email@example.com or call M&PR at 802.772.2843. This is most important in the case of “Negative Comments or Complaints”. If you come across information where anyone, including an employee, talks negatively about Rutland Regional, you should immediately forward such information to firstname.lastname@example.org, call M&PR at 802.772.2843 or call HR at 802.747.3668 for further action. Your report will be kept in strict confidence.
- Notes to Managers and Executives – The standard disclaimer does not by itself exempt Rutland Regional managers and executives from a special responsibility when posting on a social media channel. By virtue of their position, managers and executives must consider whether personal thoughts they publish may be misunderstood as expressing Rutland Regional positions. A manager should assume that his or her team will read what is written. A blog or social media is not the place to communicate Rutland Regional policies to employees.
If an employee is contacted by a blogger, online journalist or media representative about the business of Rutland Regional (news, policies, practices, patient, commitments, business information or other information), he/she must notify their manager and M&PR before responding.
Managers should refrain from requiring employees to share passwords to personal social media sites. In addition, those involved in the hiring process should not conduct their own background checks via social media channels. For more information please refer to the Social Media Policy.