“Did you see my post?” Since Facebook expanded to include people outside its initial college-only audience, that phrase has become a daily topic of conversation among people of all ages, but nowhere near as prevalent than in the younger generations. For the kids born between the early ‘80s and mid ‘90s, life without connecting with friends through the internet is as distant a memory as wearing diapers; posting pictures and status updates is now as practically as big a part of interpersonal relationships as meeting for lunch. And while Facebook has been the main social media platform for the past four or five years, there are plenty of other websites and applications that young kids are using to communicate. Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, and Pinterest have grown exponentially in recent years; as such, you need to engage your patients across as many of these as possible.

Social media has become a way for businesses to connect with their customers, share information easily and quickly, and attract new patients. With new technologies such as Facebook’s new graph search feature, it is now more important than ever for practices to have a social media presence to connect with the teens and mothers demographics. While building online rapport with your patients is important, following the correct procedures when using patient information or photos for online or print purposes is just as vital.

So, what does this mean for your dental or orthodontic office? When posting on social media sites, obtaining permission from your patients is an absolute must. With legalities regarding HIPPA and right to privacy, using photos of or information about a patient without their consent is risky, as several court cases involving social media and patient privacy will attest to. Your office needs focus on creating beautiful smiles and rather than lawsuits, so we recommend obtaining a media release form that is customized for your office and include it in your new patient paperwork. This form needs to convey that the patient agrees to allow the practice to use their image or comments on the web for promotion of the business. You also need to make clear that minors will need the consent of their parents.

We understand that patients do not favor lots of paperwork, but having this form on file is an intelligent move because it could save you from potential legal problems. Showing your happy patients and their glowing smiles on your social media sites is a great way to promote your work – just be sure that you take all necessary precautions.

Need a form? Let us know by filling out the contact us form on our website and we will send you a free copy! We have a lawyer-approved form on record we can customize for your office.