Professionalism in a digital age: opportunities and considerations for using social media in health care.

Since the beginning of the millennium, there has been a remarkable change in how people access and share information. Much of this information is user-generated content found on social media sites. As digital technologies and social media continue to expand, health care providers must adapt their professional communication to meet the expectations and needs of consumers. This adaptation may include communication on social media sites. However, many health care providers express concerns that professional social media use, particularly interactions with patients, is ethically problematic. Social media engagement does not create ethical dissonance if best practices are observed and online communication adheres to terms of service, professional standards, and organizational policy. A well-executed social media presence provides health care providers, including physical therapists, the opportunity-and perhaps a professional obligation-to use social media sites to share or create credible health care information, filling a consumer void for high-quality online information on fitness, wellness, and rehabilitation.

This perspective article provides a broad review of the emergence of social media in society and health care, explores policy implications of organizational adoption of health care social media, and proposes individual opportunities and guidelines for social media use by the physical therapy professional.