Navigating Social Media: Maintaining Boundaries for Chiropractic Professionals

Mar 1, 2024 | Consultants

by Mark Sanna, DC, ACRB Level II, FICC • 

President & CEO Breakthrough Coaching • 

Hey there, chiropractors and chiropractic practice team members! Today, we’re diving into an important topic that has become increasingly relevant in our digital age: maintaining professional boundaries in the online world and understanding social media guidelines for chiropractic professionals.

Picture this: you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed, and out of the blue, you receive a friend request from a former patient. It’s nice to reconnect, right? But hold on a second! As healthcare providers, we need to keep our relationships with patients professional at all times. Accepting that friend request might seem harmless, but it could cross a line and damage the therapeutic bond we’ve worked hard to build.

Manage the Benefits & Risks of Social Media

Now, before you go on a social media deactivation spree, let’s weigh the pros and cons of using these platforms in your chiropractic practice. Social media can be a fantastic tool to promote your practice, share valuable info, and connect with a broad audience—all for free! It shows that you’re on the cutting edge, too. Plus, it’s an awesome bulletin board for posting upcoming health-related workshops and community events.

But there’s a flip side. Social media platforms lack proper filtering, which means you might come across indelicate content. Sure, you can tweak your privacy settings, but too many restrictions defeat the purpose of social networking. So, use your common sense and ask yourself, “Could this content harm my career or practice? Will it breach my patients’ trust?” Let’s be cautious and consider the potential impact on others and ourselves.

Set Clear Boundaries with Policy

So, what’s the best approach to handling friend requests and online interactions? It’s all about setting clear boundaries! When patients or former patients send friend requests, let’s be upfront and kindly decline. And on the flip side, as professionals, we should refrain from sending friend requests to our patients. It’s all about maintaining that doctor-patient relationship.

To make things crystal clear, consider creating an “Internet & Email Policy.” Have employees sign it during your onboarding process and hand it to your patients during their first visit. Clearly outline the dos and don’ts of online interactions, including guidelines on accepting friend requests from patients or former patients. This policy will set the tone for your online presence and ensure that both you, your team members, and your patients are on the same page when it comes to social media usage. Cover email communications and whether you accept patient emails under certain circumstances—like for appointment changes or health issues.

HIPAA and Online Privacy

Privacy is king in the healthcare world! Always follow the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations and be cautious with your online communications. Even if you’re sharing posts with “friends only,” remember that reposts can spread like wildfire and reach people you never intended.

Now, let’s talk about something serious—defamation law and social media. Be super careful about what you post. Assume everyone will read it, especially your employer and patients. If you don’t want your mom or boss to see it, don’t hit that “post” button! Remember, employees have the right to communicate and discuss work-related issues, but it’s vital to remain professional and respectful. Social media might feel like an informal space, but it’s part of our professional lives 24/7.

Overlooked Consequences

However, as with any powerful tool, social media comes with its share of risks. While you can set privacy settings to limit access to your posts, there’s always a possibility that sensitive information could be exposed. It’s crucial to use good judgment and avoid posting anything that could compromise your patients’ privacy or tarnish your professional reputation.

When you’re active on social media, you might also encounter negative feedback or criticism. It’s essential to handle these situations with grace and professionalism. Responding calmly and respectfully shows that you value your patients’ opinions and are committed to providing the best possible care. It is essential to treat every post with the same level of professionalism and scrutiny you would apply to any public communication.

Maintaining Professional Boundaries

One effective way to maintain a professional online presence is to create separate accounts for personal and professional use. Your personal social media should be kept private, visible only to close friends and family. On the other hand, your professional accounts should be carefully curated to reflect your expertise, values, and commitment to patient care.

Additionally, consider appointing a team member or a social media manager to oversee your practice’s online presence. This person can monitor posts, respond to comments and inquiries, and ensure that your practice’s social media aligns with your overall marketing strategy.

Harness the Power of Social Media

In conclusion, social media is a powerful tool that can enhance your chiropractic practice when used responsibly. By setting clear boundaries, adhering to professional guidelines, and valuing patient privacy, you can leverage social media to engage with your patients, educate the community, and build a positive online reputation. So, let’s use social media to our advantage, build our professional network, and share valuable insights. But we’ll do it smartly, respecting those professional boundaries and our patients’ trust. Happy networking, everyone!

Dr. Mark Sanna is the CEO of Breakthrough Coaching. He is a Board member of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, a member of the Chiropractic Summit, and a member of the Chiropractic Future Strategic Plan Leadership Committee. To learn more, visit