Date: 5th May 2022
GMC’s New Draft Good Medical Practice Guidance Applies to Web Pages and Social Media Posts
The GMC has published a summary of the key changes proposed to its Good Medical Practice Guidance. These are the first proposed alterations to the guidance since 2013 and the proposed changes regarding communication will apply to ‘all forms of written, spoken and digital communication’, including social media and your clinic’s website. This may impact the SEO for your private clinic so it’s worth being aware of.
The changes came about as there had been claims that the current guidance on the responsibilities of medical professionals’ regarding public communication lacked clarity. So how will the new regulations apply to medical professionals and their representatives (including private clinic owners and managers) if the proposed changes are implemented?
What are the proposed changes regarding social media communication?
The GMC’s summary of proposed changes to the Good Medical Practice Guidance, states that when communicating publicly as a medical professional, you must:
- be honest and trustworthy,
- be clear on the limits of your knowledge,
- make reasonable checks to ensure you are not giving out misleading information,
- declare any conflicts of interest and, of course,
- maintain patient confidentiality.
How will these changes apply to my clinic?
The new guidance makes it explicitly clear that these rules of public communication apply to all forms of written, spoken and digital communication. Besides any spoken communication to members of the public, the new guidance will also apply to all written communication, such as leaflets, brochures and newsletters, but would also include everything digital, from social media posts on TikTok, Instagram or Twitter to content on your clinic’s website, e-mails and any forms of advertising online.
What about private social media posts, posts between colleagues or social networking?
These interactions will also be affected by the proposed changes. Regulations will apply to all interactions, including social media or networking sites, and will regulate against any abusive, discriminatory, bullying, exploitative or harassing behaviour. The regulations are also proposed to apply to medical professionals condoning such behaviours exhibited by others online.
What should I do now to protect my private clinic from falling foul of the proposed regulations?
Obviously, making sure that you are following the guidance throughout your site is the first step, the likelihood is that most private consultants and clinics will already be doing this.
The area where it gets more complex is around the question of who is adding the content to your site. Especially when we consider the author has to “be clear on the limits of their knowledge and to make reasonable checks to ensure you are not giving out misleading information”.
Many private clinic owners outsource the content of their site. This may include pages, blog posts, articles, resources and social media posts. These are very commonly ghost authored so it is essential that someone medically qualified reviews and approves the content being created before it goes live.
Not only does this help with SEO by demonstrating “E-A-T” (Expertise, Authority and Trust) signals on your site, but it also demonstrates actual website visitors that the content has been medically reviewed and approved.
It’s also worth making sure that, when you add in these information, you link to your About, Meet the Team or (best of all) individual practitioner pages. Doing this helps visitors impressed by the content they’ve read (or watched) find out more about the individual who wrote it and their expertise in the field.
Being specialist providers of SEO service for private clinics we can quickly and accurately advise you on these and many other issues so why not contact Healthcare SEO to book a free, no obligation video review of your website or feel free to book a phone call at a time convenient to you.