Pippa Blacklock
Past President

It was with some trepidation that I attended to the recent BAOS joint Council and Regional Representatives training day in London.

I was looking forward to meeting up with our fantastic BAOS reps who do such an amazing job organising Oral Surgery study days all across the British Isles, I was eager to catch up on OS news, national politics and training issues from my Council colleagues. So why the anxiety? As a digital immigrant my concern lay in my general ignorance and fearfulness about the training days subject matter ‘digital professionalism’.

I need not have worried as the course as delivered by the thoroughly engaging and enthusiastic Bernadette John who was able to cater to the ‘mixed abilities’ in the room from the IT whizzes to the digital natives and absolute Luddites at the other end of the spectrum. She impressed on us that the attitudes and skills of all these group where vital to the effective and safe use of social media particularly amongst healthcare professionals.

So what is digital professionalism? It is the ‘competence or values expected of a professional when engaged in social or digital communication’.

For us as Oral Surgeons this relates to anything we do online whether it is work emails, google searches, online dental forums or social Instagram photos and Facebook correspondence. Because we are deemed professionals and have contact with patients our digital actions are liable to particular scrutiny.

Bernadette stressed the value and importance of the appropriate use of social media for us as individuals and for BAOS as an organisation. But I suggest you heed her words of warning that you consider everything that you write online as potentially public – the anonymous blog or Twitter account of today can be readily exposed and associated with the author tomorrow and forever!

She has kindly shared some top digital professionalism tips with you:

– Review privacy settings on your social media profiles and accounts regularly as they can change allowing material that was originally private into the public domain

– Social media should not be used as a way of raising concerns or whistle blowing

– It is best to avoid online discussions about patients or anything professional on Facebook and all online discussions around patient care must be anonymised and should be restricted to specific professional online forums and chatrooms

– Resist the urge to chart your exhaustion and lack of sleep with a tooth ache, sleepless baby, or late night socialising on any social media – it may be used to evidence that you were below par in the workplace the following day!

– Never accept Facebook friend requests from patients – and if you can  – don’t accept them from close work colleagues or your boss either!

– Resist the urge to take photos of others and publish them on social channels without permission and make sure that everyone knows to ask your permission before they make and publish photos of you!

– Social media is a powerful way to create a reputation – be sure you are in control and consciously creating and curating the material to be found about you online

– If a student or patient posts negative feedback or comment about you online, consider it as an opportunity to showcase your outstanding patient care and never show aggression

– Be aware that EXIF data – including geographical co-ordinates, date, time, make and model of device on which the photo was taken, are often embedded in the images that we create on our mobile devices and can be available for others to view – even the profile photos you may have uploaded onto that dating website

-If you are not a paying customer for the Apps you are using, then you, your data ((including your contact list (does that include your patients?) and your calendar appointments)) are the commodity…

– Most Apps now have permission to send and read digital communications (including eMail, SSM and iMessages) from your BYOD without notifying you

– Client data must be stored securely NOT in the Apple cloud (is WhatsApp automatically downloading images to your image gallery on your BYOD mobile devices?  WhatsApp is not an appropriate channel for clinical communications

– Beware of image/message streaming between networked devices

– If you use a BYOD Smartphone, Tablet, laptop or PC for your clinical work or research, be sure to establish how to clean these devices before discarding or upgrading them for new ones

– New General Data Protection Regulation (May 2018) is imminent – with potential for fines of 20 million euro or 4% of annual turnover per breach

– The GDC has also issued guidance on the use of social media for dental professionals so their site is also worth a visit to make sure you are complying .

As well as advocating digital professionalism BAOS embraces the advances in social media as away of keeping in contact and interacting with you, our membership. So please look at our facebook pages and use our Twitter account or email us .(Sophie and her team are always on the end of the phones in the BAOS office for those of us with our Nokia bricks!)

Keep an eye our  for our new look BAOS website to be launched shortly and please take advantage of our all singing and dancing conference app when we welcome you to the fantastic conference planned for Belfast in September.

As you can imagine there was much fiddling and adjusting of IT devices by the delegates throughout the training  day as Bernadette gave us each new pearl of wisdom. I left the day a lot wiser, less fearful and holding valuable knowledge about how to keep my twin 14 year old boys safe in their burgeoning social media activities!

Check out Bernadette’s website here: http://digitalprofessionalism.com/

Pippa Blacklock

BAOS Past President