Should Healthcare Providers Friend Patients on Facebook?

Published:  November 10, 2011

I’m often asked whether or not a dentist or physician should “friend” their patients on Facebook, and each time I’m asked I answer, “No”.

Facebook is a terrific website for healthcare providers to use to let people learn more about their office and their practices, and it allows us to reach potential patients who would not have otherwise interacted with the practice.  Clearly in the situation of social marketing, we want our offices to have as much exposure as possible in order to draw new patients to the practice.  The critical factor we must remember – but often forget – is that we must keep this interaction at the level of the patient-doctor and not of patient-friend.
In “friending” a patient on Facebook you are opening up your personal life to the patient, and I’m not sure how many of us really want our patients to see pictures of our children, learn about our political affiliations, or even see the possible tasteless humor that one of our other Facebook friends may post.
I understand your need to try to keep connections with patients personal, and I do believe that a personal touch is a critical factor in the success of any good dentist or physician.  That being said, do think twice before you “friend” a patient on Facebook, and instead allow your patients to “Like” your office’s Facebook fan page instead.

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