Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SnapChat can all be great tools for Speech Language Pathologists.  Many of us work out in the field with no other SLP within 500 miles.  Sometimes the only other SLP in the area has never treated a patient like the patient for whom you have questions regarding treatment.

Enter social media, with a wealth of other SLPs with so many various skill levels and levels of expertise.

You do have to be careful with social media.  You still have to abide by HIPAA laws even on Facebook.

  1.  Not everyone is an expert in every given area.  Just because they have posted a reasonable answer to your question, does not, in fact, mean they know what they are discussing.  The person may not be deliberately steering you in the wrong direction.  They may just be giving a suggestion that is not feasible for your patient and may have no evidence to support it.

2.  Remember that not all patients are the same.   Just because treatment X worked for one SLP’s CVA patient, doesn’t mean that it will work for your CVA patient.

3.  Some people do use non-evidence based treatments in therapy.    Remember, levels of evidence can include personal experience and success with a treatment strategy.  We can discuss this to the moon and back and people will just not give up their favorite therapy techniques just because there is no published research for it.  There are times that people swear by the therapy technique they have used for 20+ years.

4.  You may try and try and try to hide your identity on your Facebook page, however I’m sure someone will always know who you are.  What does this mean?  It means to STOP POSTING ANY IDENTIFYING INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR PATIENTS!  So let’s say I change my first or last name on my Facebook profile.  People dig on your profile and maybe you were tagged in a picture or have uploaded a picture.  This picture may be of your cat.  That will allow someone to identify who you are.  Let’s say I post this on a closed group:

“Hi all!  I have a question.  I have an 89 year old male that was admitted to my facility last night.  He was diagnosed with a CVA and has a history of dementia.  He is currently on a pureed diet and his modified last week revealed aspiration of thin liquids…………”

While I didn’t reveal any *identifying* information on this patient, someone may figure out that their friend’s loved one fits that exact description and you are probably talking about them.  Keep the information generic.  We don’t need to know exact age, gender or when they were admitted.  A better example is:

“Hi!  Would you recommend a repeat modified for a patient on an altered diet with a history of CVA and dementia……..”

You have to watch out for yourself.  People even get in trouble for posting about a particular person at their job or even their boss.  You never know who may be reading these posts!  You never know who may show someone else your post.

5.  Try to not be condescending in your posts.  Not everyone has the same experience or skill level as you may have and they are reaching out for advice.  They do not need a public flogging on a social media site.  If you are truly concerned for their skill level and think that maybe they should consider an alternate career choice, shoot them a private message.  That private message can even have a nice tone to it.  Don’t post that publicly and humiliate the person that most needs the help and mentorship making them hide from the public shaming when they again have questions regarding their patients.   Should you start becoming “that person” that publicly shames every SLP questioning what to do with their patient, you may start to lose any credibility.

6.  Be aware of your surroundings when you post that SnapChat or InstaGram picture.  It has become popular to post a picture at work, or to record videos of your workplace.  Make sure there is no patient information visible on the computer screen behind you or anywhere in the room.

Don’t forget, social media can be a happy, helpful place.  Be willing to accept suggestions or criticism.  We’re all here to help each other!