Facebook Chat is one of a multitude of online chat platforms. It allows quick instantaneous communication with a limitless number of people. More than you’ll likely ever want to talk to at once. Besides being embedded within one of the most highly trafficked websites on the planet, it has a key advantage: a certain degree of privacy.
As a doctor, you’ll of course want to check with state regulation to make sure Facebook Chat is compliant with standards. Here at AtlasMD, based in Kansas, we are able to Facebook chat with patients who sign a confidentiality agreement. A key advantage to this forum is that the messages are only able to be accessed by a sole user, and can be deleted at will.
First, make sure you are familiar with what Facebook Chat is and how to use it. Check out Facebook Chat Basics. The How To Use Facebook Chat section is all you need to get going. It’s easy to use. If you want, get a friend or family member to “chat” with you to try it out.
Once you are comfortable with the platform keep the following in mind.
Facebook Chat is like a conversation behind closed doors.
Like conversations in an office, just because you can’t be overheard, doesn’t mean you can talk about anything at will. Keep it professional with patients. You probably don’t want to ask if they saw that super sexy spy thriller over the weekend. That might be crossing professional boundaries.
Don’t Hog The Conversation.
Whether you’re new to chat, or a longtime veteran, it’s always a good idea to keep chat moving along like a game of ping pong or tennis. Keep the conversation back and forth. Don’t bombard your patient with information. Make sure you are able to listen and return advice or consultation in a way that’s easy for them to understand.
Use brb If You Need To Do Something Else
It’s a small detail, but using brb will keep you from ever wasting your patient’s time. Don’t keep them waiting around for a reply if you’re not around to answer.
Familiarize Yourself With Chat Room Abbreviations
Here’s a list of common chat shorthand. You don’t actually need to use any of them. Most people will accept if you spell things out. However, over time you’ll probably adopt shorthand like brb, ttyl, and a few others. Don’t feel the need to force anything. Your patients will be impressed by your medical expertise and skills as a practitioner more so than your chat protocol.
Remember, you always want to make sure patients are comfortable with using the forum for dialogue. Imagine Facebook Chat as you would a conversation behind closed doors. It’s a great way for patients to digitally take you aside to ask you a question. The advantage here is that you can, if possible, answer immediately, effectively and anywhere. That’s because Facebook is available on mobile, tablets and browsers. Plus Facebook allows conversations to be archived in the Message Inbox. That means your expertise can be privately shared with your patients asynchronously, too.
Check out more Social Media Best Practices For Medical Professionals.