Managing Your
Online Reputation

By Christina Thielst, FACHE

You have worked hard to earn your healthcare administration degree and now it is time to find a job or move up into one with additional responsibilities.  You have created a LinkedIn account, completed your profile and have even joined a couple of groups to network with those who might know of opportunities in your area of interest.  You have also followed a couple of your preferred hospitals and other target provider organizations on Facebook and Twitter to see what job opportunities they post.  But, finding that new job isn’t just about social media, you are also networking at local healthcare professional meetings and have submitted applications for jobs.  All is ok, right?  Well, maybe not.

Learn more about our healthcare degreesThe Internet and social media have opened up new opportunities for connecting with others, but it has also made information much more easily accessible.  Some of this is a good thing, because when a healthcare recruiter “Googles” your name, they may find your LinkedIn page or a local newspaper article about an award you received or your volunteer work.  However, they might also find the picture your buddy posted on his Facebook page of you the night you would prefer to forget or a HIPAA violation.

Do you know if recruiters will like what they see when they “Google” your name?  Unfortunately, the news is full of healthcare works terminated – doctors, nurses, residents, students and others for posting pictures or information about patients or other content that violates hospital policies, privacy or confidentiality.

Managing your reputation online is just as important as managing your reputation in person.  In some cases, it might even be more important.  The key is to know what information is available to others about you online and this starts with a smile search of your name.  If you have a common name, also search with terms that will help refine the results, such as, your city, interests, employer, school, or other affiliations.  If you were a recruiter, would you like what you see?

Managing your reputation online is just as important as managing your reputation in person.

If you do find anything that could be deemed offensive or inappropriate or that reflects poor judgment, morals and ethics take action.  Photos with patient identifiable information in the background, of pathology removed during a surgery/delivery or posts that makes fun of individuals or a detailed discussion listing your hospital’s charges for various services are examples.  If it is there, remove this content from your personal social sites and adjust your privacy settings so everything isn’t public.  If your friends or family posted inappropriate content and you commented on it, reach out to them to have them adjust their privacy settings or the remove content.  If a site is not under your control, ask the site administrator to remove the post or content that is of concern.

Sometimes the content in question doesn’t relate to you, but to someone with the same name.  In this case, simply being aware of the content and prepared to address it during an interview (if it comes up or you suspect it has been seen) is important.

Managing your reputation also involves only posting information online that will present you in a positive light.  When you contribute content on social networking sites, blogs or other channels:

  • Share your perspectives, but stick with your areas of expertise
  • Share meaningful and relevant content or comments.
  • Think before you tweet and pause to consider whether your post or comment is appropriate.
  • Respect sensitive, private, proprietary and confidential information.
  • Feel free to disagree or offer an alternative perspective, but do so in a respectful manner.

In addition, consider keeping your personal and professional lives separate.  We all have family and friends who are a little crazy or simply post content that is a bit off color and could be misunderstood or reflect poorly upon you.  Keep your LinkedIn connections professional.  Use Facebook for family and personal friends or carefully manage privacy settings and who can see content posted by others.

As a future healthcare leader it is important to understand how healthcare organizations are leveraging social channels to engage their communities and patients.  It is also important to learn skills that will help you coach those you lead and to manage the risk to your healthcare organization’s reputation.  A little investment of time now will go a long way to ensuring that recruiters like what they see about you online.
Christina Thielst has experienced the evolution of the healthcare system over the last 30 years as both a hospital administrator and consultant. She received a bachelor’s degree in social science/management from Louisiana State University and a Masters of Health Administration from Tulane University, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.