Social Media and Healthcare
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Social Media and Healthcare
Articles and Discussions on the intersection of Social Media and Healthcare.
Relevant to Healthcare Practitioners, Pharma', Insurance, Clinicians, Labs, Health IT Vendors, Health Marketeers, Health Policy Makers, Hospital Administrators.
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Social Media Implementation Checklist

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

Set goals first. If traffic, leads and sales are part of the goal, then gotta have the next focus be on content creation. Then, using social to share. Can't get much value out of social unless you're actively creating, publishing and sharing content. 

MARGARITA's curator insight, December 31, 2015 5:15 PM

Support our people

United Home Healthcare's curator insight, June 12, 2017 12:29 PM
Being active on Social media can really help your company.
rob halkes's curator insight, September 15, 2017 6:04 AM

You might think that after 10+ years, social media for healthcare is a self evident activity,! Nothing is less true, however ;-) But here's a checklist you need if you still need to sign up ;-) 


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12 Ways You Can Use Social Media To Market Your Pharmacies

12 Ways You Can Use Social Media To Market Your Pharmacies | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media can play a major role in marketing for every business and pharmacies are no exceptions. Using social media, a pharmacy can get more customers, spread awareness about its offerings and can even search for a new market. In fact, social media is the best tool to market your pharmacy to generation X, Y and Z (18-50 years), who are more likely to use their smartphones to look for a pharmacy that to open Yellow Pages.

To attract these generations you need to educate them about the benefits your pharmacy can offer. According to, as these generations grew up seeing traditional advertisements they are usually skeptical about them. Therefore, you can get more success by using non-traditional marketing channels such as social media to market your pharmacy.

Here is what you can do –

First of all, please determine who you are trying to market to. Whom you target will determine in which social media platform you should be. Here’s an example:

If you want to target –

  • Medical Offices – LinkedIn is a better social media platform to engage the medical offices.
  • Consumers/Patients – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube are your best options in this case. Additionally, a Google+ page can up your chances at acing the Google search on key phrases like – “Pharmacies near me”.
  • Local Community – Facebook communities or social forums are the best platforms to engage them.

Secondly, you need to determine the amount of money you are looking to spend on your social media marketing. This will help you determine your strategy.  For example – Are you looking to spend money on social advertising, are you looking to run contests?

Once you decide the target audience and work on a strategy, it is time to implement the strategy. Here are a few tips for acing the social media game as a pharmacy.

As you are a pharmacy, people look to you for authority. Your content should, therefore, be educational and easy to consume.

    1. Educate Them

      Being able to help without selling is very impactful. You should, therefore, post educative content at regular intervals. Use infographics, posters, and short videos to promote educational content (e.g. the proper way to wash your face.). Tell them the importance of flu shots. Tell them why it is important to fill your medication on time.

    2. Inform Them

      Also in case of a change in law or medical insurance, educate your audience regarding how the change may impact them. For example – from now on ABC medicine will no longer be available as an over-the-counter medicine due to XYZ reason.

    3. Entertain Them

      For every educational content, you should put at least two light content such as a picture or engaging games. Create small sudden death quiz on medical or other themes.

    4. Be Creative With Content

      Create unique news based content. For example – Use news like Pink performing at SuperBowl despite being down with flu to spread awareness about flu-shots with a post such as “Be in the Pink of health. Take flu-shots.” Be creative.

    1. Be Helpful

      Post health tips.

    2. Add Value

      Post interviews with medical practitioners regarding common ailments. It will add value to your brand as your audience will learn to associate your brand as an authority.

    3. Remind Them

      Post messages reminding your audience to take their flu shots.

    4. Add Convenience

      Generation X, Y, and Z are the tech-savvy convenience loving generation. Offer them a chance to use online ordering and ordering medicine via an app and they will love you for that.

    5. Participate In Group Discussions

      Post in social media groups and online forums. Offer to answer generic questions.

    6. Talk About Your Brand Too

      For every 7 or 8 pieces you put out that are not about your company, put 1 or 2 up that are. Let your audience know what makes your company stand out. It can be that you carry a brand of cloth diapers that no other pharmacy in your area offers. Or it can be free vitamins for kids each month. Just remember not to make your social media all about self-promotion.

  1. Engage The Doctors

    If you are speaking to doctors, educate them why your pharmacy is the best at filling orders quickly, or why they should send their patients to you for flu shots.

  2. Introduce Your Staff

    Let your customers get to know your staff. Introduce your pharmacist, who he/she is and why he is passionate about what he does.

Let us conclude with a note of warning:

Social media can be a very effective way to reach out to patients and provide resources, but it’s crucial to remember that HIPAA rules do still apply. Be cautious about what you post. A patient’s information can never be personally identifiable from the post. Avoid answering patients’ specific questions publicly; rather, use social media as a platform to provide general information from which most people can benefit.

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5 Exemplary Examples of Healthcare Social Media Marketing Success

5 Exemplary Examples of Healthcare Social Media Marketing Success | Social Media and Healthcare |

The most effective marketing programs do more than educate; they resonate with the public, eliciting an emotional response that isn’t easily forgotten. With deeply personal subjects often of life or death significance, healthcare marketing campaigns are often particularly powerful. Hospital groups, pharmaceutical companies and charitable causes are increasingly pushing the boundaries to create creative, compelling campaigns which create a lasting impression. Using the right social media channels to deliver the message directly to their target audience is what makes the best campaigns so successful.


Here are five of our favourites from the past few years:

1. SickKids VS

Better known simply as “SickKids,” Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children took a radical approach when sharing the stories of its young patients in a fundraising campaign for the Sick Kids Foundation. Rather than tugging on the audience’s heartstrings by portraying patients as victims of their medical condition or depicting the hardships having a child with a serious illness poses for the entire family, the kids are presented is a series of videos as heroic fighters readying for battle.

Instead of being portrayed as weak or suffering, they are defiant and strong. They are gladiators, boxers, pro wrestlers and comic book superheroes, supported by an army of doctors, nurses, researchers and family members who gird for battle alongside them. The final result is intense, raw and unforgettable.


It’s a new solution to an old problem. Despite rising awareness of breast cancers and the importance of early detection, officials with the Carilion Clinic in Virginia were concerned that not enough women were scheduling mammograms. The clinic added screening locations through the state which would be accessible to all women, regardless of their ability to pay, and launched the #YESMAMM campaign to encourage women to schedule an appointment. The social based campaign helped drive traffic to the clinic site, grew their online community and provided a way to share valuable information with hosted Twitter chats about breast cancer.

3. Movember

When a healthcare campaign goes global and takes over an entire month, you know it’s been a success. Movember started in 2003 as a conversation between two friends in Australia, who wanted to challenge a few friends to grow a moustache. Inspired by friends who were raising money for breast cancers, they decided to make the challenge meaningful by using it to raise money for men’s health issues. The following year they decided to make the movement formal and registered the Movember Foundation, built a website and launched a social media campaign. Now, 15 years later, more than 5.5 million “Mo Bros” (and “Mo Sisters’) have joined the movement, funding more than 1,200 projects in 20 countries and, raising awareness of men’s health issues such as prostate and testicular cancers.

4. The Eyes Of A Child

The brainchild of a French advocacy group called the Noémie Foundation, the powerful campaign titled The Eyes of a Child aimed to change the public’s perception of people with disabilities. In a compelling video, parents and their kids were shown pictures of people making various funny faces, and were asked to mimic them. In each case the last image depicted a person with a disability. While the adults reacted with surprise or shock, and stopped trying to mimic their facial expressions, the children innocently continued playing the game. The campaign’s simple message lies at the root of its success: when we look at the disabled through the eyes of a child, we see the person, not their disability.

5. Things Everybody Does But Doesn’t Talk About

When the U.S. government wanted to encourage millennials to visit healthcare.govand sign up for healthcare coverage it took a decidedly lighthearted approach to a serious (and some might say boring) subject. With the help of a very famous spokesperson – then President Barack Obama – and BuzzFeed, it launched a promotional video designed to capture the attention of this traditionally hard to reach demographic. And it worked. The humorous clip answered the question: “What does the President do when nobody’s around?” The answer: the same things everybody else does. He checks himself out in new sunglasses, makes funny faces, takes selfies with a selfie stick, blames the President when something goes wrong and practices for a big speech in front of the mirror. The fact that his speech rehearsal includes a plug for the site and reminds viewers of the sign-up deadline is clever and hits just the right tone for the millennial audience. With more than 15 million views in its first 8 hours, the campaign was a viral sensation.

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Do you have hard time planning your social media footprint for your dental practice? The chances are that you either don’t have the time or the knowledge to make this marketing channel work for your business. Say no more, we have drafted this comprehensive tutorial to help you excel at your social media marketing strategy and to never ever wonder how often, what and when to publish on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform you use to communicate with your target audience. The case studies and tips we’ll share with you in the following post aim to inspire you to test and adopt new techniques in order to optimize the social media marketing strategy of your dental practice. The first step towards building an effective social media strategy for your dental practice is to audit the actual social media presence of your business and to find out what are the things you could improve on. You should start by reviewing your social media marketing goals and how they can be achieved through each social media platform. Step 1. Focus on setting measurable objectives: X number of new patients converted online per month; X number of new web referrals per month; X number of people visiting your dental site from a given social media campaign; X number of people calling your practice after seeing your social media ad. Even though Facebook is by far the most preferred social media out there, don’t limit your social media strategy to it only. Keep in mind that your target audience might hang out on other platforms as well. Each social media platform presents you with unique promotional opportunities. Step 2. Select the most relevant social media channel for your dental practice: Define which social media sites are preferred by your target audience; Take into account the specifics of each of those channels and consider what marketing strategies you could successfully implement for each one of those; Make your message consistent on all social media platforms, regardless of the adopted strategy per channel. In the following example, a fictional dental practice takes advantage of 5 social media channels to reach out to their target audience. They use: Facebook: to increase user engagement by organizing contests, posting “before & after” photos; to actively promote their dental services by posting targeted paid ads; to attract new patients by showcasing positive patients’ reviews; Twitter: to educate their target audience via live-streaming, sharing latest dental news and updates, and announcing last-minute changes regarding appointments; Pinterest and Instagram: to increase user engagement by uploading eye-catching images of their dental practice and their team; YouTube: to educate their clients by sharing their expertise; Dental online communities: to build long-term relationships with other experts in the field; When it comes to choosing the right social networks, it’s best to conduct a survey among your existing patients and ask them of their specific social platform preferences. Your current patients are likely to already follow you on social media. Go ahead and study their demographics and needs. Whether they are families with young children, senior citizens, millennials in Denver, or stay-at-home or busy corporate-working moms, always be specific with your targeting. For example, if you are a family or pediatric dentist, your target market is young families who have children. You can post on social media photos of your young patients or information concerning baby or children’s dental health. By offering content that resonates with your audience you’ll motivate your followers to share, like and engage with your practice. It takes much time and resources to manage a number of social media accounts, so instead of spreading thin on several social platforms, concentrate on a few key channels and exploit them to their full potential. Now let’s go through the benefits of using some of the most popular social media channels: Step 3. Invest your time in Facebook Being the most popular social media platform online, Facebook would most likely have attracted the majority of your target audience as its loyal users. Facebook is an important channel for consumer-facing businesses like dental practices because it provides many tools to communicate with current clients as well as to engage with new prospects. For example, you can easily: create an event; promote special offers; create polls; live-stream; create local advertising campaigns; or even get phone calls or direct messages via the platform. If you are looking to nurture a long-term relationship with your patients – Facebook is your thing. For example if you step up on your customer support on Facebook by answering individual questions or by quickly accepting online appointments, you will easily boost the customers’ satisfaction and will create a loyal fanbase. Moreover, you can improve your online reach by connecting and cross-promoting with other local organizations on the network or by creating local awareness ads. Local awareness ads can help you reach locals, who will benefit from your services. With format features like a map listing, “Call Now”, “Book Now”, and “Get Directions” buttons, they can drive more patients to your dental practice. Step 4. Join the conversation on Twitter If you want to have real-time communication with your existing and potential patients, Twitter is the right place to be. Be careful, though, the content on this social platform has a short lifespan, so you have to be more active when sharing the latest news and information on trending dental topics. Remember to include relevant hashtags in your tweets –  they could actually boost the visibility of your tweets for a longer period of time. Twitter lists on the other hand allow you to categorize Twitter users by common feature, like: satisfied customers, or competitors, partners, industry leaders and so on. You can add users to a list you’ve already created, even if those don’t follow your business. By doing so you’d find it easier to navigate between the chaos of streaming tweets and filter out only the important conversations for your business. You can import contacts from your address book to Twitter and draft your lists with ease. Twitter lists can help you monitor target patients, track your competitors without officially following them, or find inspiration from other dentists, industry influencers, and authoritative dental organizations. You can also find and follow already existing dental-specific Twitter Lists by typing in Google, followed by keywords like dentists lists or dental lists: Search Google for relevant Twitter lists. Step 5. Show off your dental practice on Instagram and Pinterest Instagram and Pinterest are not just for foodies, fashionistas, gym enthusiasts, or travelers. If you are creative and have the resources to come up with visually appealing content, don’t skip thеse social platforms. You can: post visuals featuring your modern and good-looking dental office; share successful dental makeover cases; promote special discounts; publish behind-the-scenes snapshots; create Instagram Stories by recording a short video featuring you and your patient; Pinterest is an endless source of content inspiration for a variety of dental tips, dental do’s and don’ts,  infographics about dental health, so if you’re stuck on what to offer your target audience, search the site and gather fresh ideas in no time. While creating your content for Pinterest and Instagram, do not forget about hashtags. Both platforms encourage using as many hashtags as possible, as long as they are relevant. If you focus on cosmetic dentistry, you can utilize Instagram and Pinterest to post visual content to popularize your service and brand image. Be careful when editing your images for the platforms and don’t overuse image filters. Step 6. Improve your Google visibility with YouTube If you can take the time to create videos regularly, managing a YouTube channel for your dental practice will be a great competitive edge to your marketing strategy. YouTube videos will help you increase the online exposure of your website and expand your reach to more local dental patients. You will definitely stand out as many of the local dentists don’t invest time into producing and uploading YouTube videos and that is not due to any lack of desire, but to some serious bad planning issues. Here are some tips on how to pimp up your YouTube videos in order to increase your chances of getting them in Google search results when an online user searches for symptom explanations, an oral problem or a specific treatment, such as dental cosmetic procedure: Add attractive and descriptive video titles containing target keywords; Create custom thumbnails that catch viewer’s attention; Include keywords in the first 120 characters of the video description because Google provides a short snippet of the video description in the search results; Write clear and catchy Call-To-Action links to your website-content; Upload a video transcript. The majority of the search queries that tend to trigger video results are often informational in nature. In order to meet the demand produce how-to videos and videos illustrating dental treatments that you perform in your office. Step 7. Share your expertise and build brand awareness with online dental communities On online forums you can connect with your industry peers, dental service providers and manufactures. You can show your expertise and popularize your practice by adding value to the ongoing discussions. Forums like DentalTown and WebDental gather a community of dentists who share their experience and answer dental-related questions. They’re also a great source of information about every aspect of running a dental practice, including practice management, office design, dental marketing, best practices in the field, new technologies. Another benefit of taking part in online communities and forums is that you are able to directly interact with your customers by answering their questions and sharing information that they care about or are looking for. When participating in Q&A social media sites try to answer the initial question directly or acknowledge what others have already written. Step 8. Connect your official blog with your social media profiles Popularize your blog posts by sharing them on your social media accounts. Add social sharing buttons on your blog to make it easy for readers to share your content with their friends. Try to produce compelling and valuable content on a daily basis and make sure to share it on your social media profiles. When your followers see that you’re active on a regular basis, the memory of your business will remain fresh in their mind. Seems like an impossible task, doesn’t it? The best tip for ensuring long-term user engagement is to mix up your content: educate your followers; engage them; entertain them; remain relevant and useful to your target audience. Step 9. Educate your followers Gain trust and stay on top оf your target audience’s mind by providing professional information in a creative and engaging way on a regular basis. Educating your patients is one of the best ways to position yourself as “the expert” in your niche. It’s simple, just follow some of the ideas we’ve listed for you below: 9.1 Post general dental tips like links to industry news, videos, statistics, or even your own  blog. Thus, you can build credibility and trust among your followers and boost your website’s traffic, which is a great thing! You can share tips like highlighting the benefits of flossing, tongue cleaning, using a mouthwash, keeping one’s toothbrush clean, using clove for toothache pain, and spending enough time brushing teeth. 9.2. Post information and examples of dental care and oral habits that may compromise people’s overall health, appearance, and comfort. Remember – fear is a key emotional trigger to influence a consumer purchasing behavior. Clarify the procedures and services being delivered; A dental clinic in Pasay City, Philippines promotes and educates its Facebooks fans about the benefits of their in-office procedure. Provide preventive oral health care information; You can share preventive care tips like changing the toothbrush after having a cold, flu, a mouth infection or a sore throat. Explain nutrition habits and their effect on dental health or share recipes that are good for oral health and ask people to share photos of their versions of the recipe. It’s a great way to start a conversation with your fans. You can share articles created by industry leaders, partners, and authoritative dental organizations as long as they are useful to your followers. 9.3. Remind your patients to schedule their next dental appointment. Point out the benefits of regular check-ups and cleanings. For instance postponing plaque and tartar removal can lead to some serious progressive conditions. 9.4.Broadcast live videos Share what’s happening in real time at your dental office by live-streaming on Instagram Live Stories, Facebook Live Video, or by posting videos on Twitter, that are powered by Periscope. This is a great way to: start a “behind the scenes at your clinic” series; run a live Q&A or “Ask Me Anything” sessions; cover an event; shed a light on your key manipulations or even more detailed, patient surgeries. A well-thought engagement strategy will help you reach out to your audience without breaking the bank – you just need some creativity and a mobile device. Video content builds up a personal connection between you and your target audience. Moreover, social media platforms that allow video upload automatically notify your followers when you go live. The owners of a dental center in Caloocan, Philippines livestream from their office and give their audience a true taste of what it’s like to be their customer. 9.5.Differentiate your practice Highlight key features that make your practice special. Most people fear going to the dentist. Try helping your patients overcome their fear by offering them comfort, relaxing atmosphere, and positive attitude: the greeting is important – conduct an initial contact and hear out your patient’s complaints and reasons to feel anxious and explain thoroughly the procedures that follow next; think out of the box – provide the comfort of the SPA treatment and offer in-house complimentary hand and arm massage after the dental manipulations; the environment matters – offer a scented towel after the dental visit; A cosmetic dentistry in Kingston, Jamaica offers to their patients a warm, scented towel to refresh their face and hands after a dental treatment. music to distract them from their fear – offer headphones to mute the machine sound during the procedures; comfort to ease the tension – equip your waiting room with comfortable chairs; keep them entertained while waiting – provide various magazines or kids’ coloring books: Colouring removes focus from stressful situations and negative thoughts. Patients will be pleasantly surprised, and this will result in positive online reviews and recommendations. 9.6. Keep your patients up-to-date with your practice growth The dental industry is a dynamic field with new technologies and treatments coming out every day. Keep your patients informed about the changes in the industry and promote new procedures or high-tech dental equipment available at your practice. For instance, you can announce new additions to your dental practice including: Interior make-over: more comfortable and state of the art patient chairs; Installation of new professional equipment: X-ray sensors or a panorex machine. The more modern and up-to-date your dental practice looks like, the more comfortable your patients will feel about having you as their personal dentist. A dentistry in Glasgow, United Kingdom informs their Facebook followers that they are using special chairs that can flip round for left- handed or right-handed dentists in less than two minutes. 9.7. Let your patients know your availability While you might have already set up the general working hours of your practice in your social media accounts, you should also post information about special appointment opportunities like: available hours around the holidays; last minute call-in appointment opportunities; unexpected booking opportunities due to cancelled appointments; special emergency or seasonal working hours. A dental practice in Roy, Utah informs its patients that their working hours are different for the holidays and that the office will be closed on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. A family dental practice in Paris, Texas apologized for the inconvenience caused due to power outage. The post regarding the canceled appointments was shared 28 times. A health center in Washington tweeted that they had to delay their dental appointments due to a fire at the office. A family oriented dentistry in Ely, Minnesota changed their working hours during the summer season. The update was well-received by the patients.   9.8. Launch your own posts series Come up with a catchy title for your post series, something that will motivate social media users to click and skim through your content. The series can be dedicated to: oral health advices; dental jokes; your team behind different projects. The dentistry in Manhasset, New York posts a scheduled series of tips on oral health under the name “Tuesday Teeth Tip”. 9.9. Introduce your team and practice culture Since all your team members, including dental hygienists, dental technicians and receptionists, spend time with your patients, you’d better introduce them to your followers in order to build trust and to create a close-knit community. Bring the focus to individual employees by: introducing new team members; saying farewell to those who are retiring or leaving your practice; acknowledging your staff’s job accomplishments or sharing their spare time activities. Share a photo and a short bio of your employees so that your followers get to know them better. Turn these “personal” posts into regular monthly or weekly series. Showing the human face of your business by sharing a spontaneous photo of a team member can also boost your reach and user engagement. A dental practice in Coffs Harbour, Australia celebrates employee birthdays and anniversaries and often shares photos of the event on their Instagram account. Show that your co-workers enjoy a relaxed working environment. Your followers will feel that your office has a cozy family spirit and will be more inclined to visit or to refer your practice. You can post photos of your staff as a further way of offering appreciation or congratulations on successfully achieving a goal, like for instance running a marathon… …or the arrival of a new baby. 9.10. Launch and promote non-profit local community initiatives you take part in You can raise money to buy materials for building homes for local homeless people or to buy a piece of playground equipment for your local YMCA. You can also cooperate with local societies, clubs and other concerned authorities to organize awareness campaigns for causes like Mouth Cancer Action Month, National Smile Month, and Give Kids A Smile. The involvement and dedication will contribute to the favorable image of your business in your local community. Every year this Manila dental clinic provides free dental services to retired priests. An Australian dental center encourages their followers on Instragram to take part in their cause and donate $1 toothbrushes that are handed out to people in need in Papua New Guinea. To raise awareness on the mouth cancer you can provide free oral cancer screenings or start a campaign on how to improve oral health by sharing informative photos and links. A dental clinic in Glasgow, United Kingdom organizes a Foodbank Drive each year in attempt to collect food for homeless people and families in need. They are collaborating with a local football club and a local community, that is aiming at raising awareness of homelessness in Glasgow. The dental clinic promotes the initiative solely through its Facebook page and encourages their followers to donate any of the already listed items by dropping them into the clinic. The campaign gets lots of engagement. 9.11. Organizing or participating in industry conferences and courses Share posts regarding hands-on courses you have attended or delivered. This is a way to demonstrate your expertise or willingness to improve your skills. Focus on the benefits your patients will enjoy as a result of your team’s new qualifications and gained expertise. A dentistry in Glasgow, United Kingdom shares their engagement at the Scottish Dental Show 2017, where their dental hygienist discussed the maintenance of dental implants and the benefits of the team approach. Step 10. Engage your followers 10.1. Ask questions Encourage people to like and comment your posts by posing questions about relevant topics like sharing their personal oral hygiene habits, for instance. The more your followers engage with your posts, the more visible your content will be to them and to their friends. You can ask questions about oral care habits or related topics like smoking, chewing ice, nail biting, flossing, gum chewing, etc. 10.2. Join the conversation Participating in social media groups and discussions can help you expand your social media footprint and stay abreast of the ever-changing dental world. Take part in Facebook Groups Search for relevant and active groups where you can collaborate with industry peers, and discuss on topics related to dentistry like: clinical cases, personal experiences, ideas for a better clinical practice, academic researches, innovative clinical products, relevant events. Additionally, you can also network with potential customers. Browse local groups or friends’ groups. For example, if you are a pediatric dentist with a practice in Oakdale, California, you can join local moms’ groups, groups for baby and children items, or neighborhood groups. Be mindful of group members’ problems and offer them a solution. However, be careful with self-promotional content and sparingly mention your brand in order not to look too pushy. Also, consider special guidelines that the group may have adopted: for instance, they may require you to join with your personal Facebook profile instead of using your business page. Leverage Twitter Chats Twitter chats are a fine way to build a good followership for your practice. You can participate in already established Twitter chats, for example the #Fallforsmiles Twitter Chat or the #TinyTeethTalk Chat. Oral Health America has organized a Q&A Twitter chat and uses a specific hashtag assigned to the chat in all of their tweets so that their audience could easily follow the conversation. However, if you’re having a hard time finding Twitter chats that are a good fit for your needs, don’t be afraid to create your own: Choose a topic that will be of interest to your Twitter audience, for example children’s oral health or tooth whitening; Think of relevant and unique hashtags for your chat. It’s also good if it includes the name of your dental practice; Set a date and time based on when your target audience is most likely to be online; Invite patients, colleagues and other dental experts to participate in the chat. During the talk they can clarify misconceptions and provide tips directly to patients, for example how parents can keep children’s teeth healthy; Promote the chat on your social media accounts, website and via email; Twitter chats offer visibility and opportunity to connect to a larger customer base. If you decide that you want to start and lead a talk on Twitter, just be aware that moderating requires a lot of work. You’ll have to keep the chat active, keep an eye on possible spammers and make sure participants are getting along. 10.3.Make a clever use of hashtags People use hashtags to search for specific content that they’re interested in. Primarily used on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, they are a great way to increase your message visibility online. Using popular local hashtags will help you reach out to more people that might end up visiting your dental office. You can use tools such as and to find relevant hashtags to your practice, specialty or location. Below is a list of hashtags often used by dental practices: #dentalhealth #oralhealth #dentaltip #oralhygiene #ToothDecay #dentalcare #toptipsforteeth #healthysmiles #cavityfighters #DentalHumour #toptipsforteeth #HealthyTeeth #HappyTeeth #2x2min #Your Location/City #Your Community/Event Depending on your goals, pick already used or create your own hashtags that will fit to your specific needs. Step 11. Entertain your followers Uncover the more lighthearted side of your practice and have some fun with your content. 11.1. Share dental jokes and dental memes Get inspired by searching for dental humor images on Pinterest, videos or YouTube, or anecdotes on Twitter. 11.2. Celebrate with your patients Record short, personal videos to greet your patients for their birthdays; Celebrate the wins of your patients, for example greet a patient for getting his braces off: Post pictures or short videos that reflect your patients’ emotions. This provokes empathy and boosts engagement. Share posts regarding major holidays,g. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, local and national events, or office celebrations, for example, your dental practice birthday, National Fresh Breath Day, National Tooth Ache Day, etc. Curate a list of the most engaging major and relevant holidays for the year. Show the fun side of your practice and publish content that is more playful and enthusiastic. Your followers will join in and this will bring more user engagement and social media exposure of your business. 11.3. Recommend dental apps Share some dental mobile apps that can help your patients take good care of their oral health and have some fun at the same time. Check out the following list of useful apps for patients: Brush DJ – it’s a toothbrush timer app that entertains users with musical background while they brush. It also allows them to set reminders to brush, floss, use a mouth rinse, change their toothbrush every 3 months, and schedule their next appointment at their dentist, hygienist or orthodontist; Teeth Whitener – the application aims at convincing patients to get a teeth whitening treatment by allowing them to see themselves with a brighter smile; Monster Mouth DDS – a fun app that lets users be a dentist for an array of monster patients, each of which has a distinct dental complaint. It’s a kid-friendly app and some of the problems users can solve are rubbing a tooth to clean it, finding hidden tooth cracks with an X-ray, and filling in cavities; Colgate Tooth Fairy – helps families build regular brushing routine with a teeth timer game, while providing valuable tips on dental care. 11.4. Organize contests and giveaways Through social media games, you can both entertain users and subtly promote your dental services. Moreover, getting your fans involved will spread your reach to their family and friends and that can help you grow your followership for good. You can organize contests around: Your dental practice birthday; Oral health tips; Holidays and dental-related special days/months; General topics like the changing of seasons; Appointment scheduling; Referral acquisition; Offer a compelling prize like professional toothbrushes, a smile makeover at your dental clinic, a gift card to a local restaurant, or movie tickets. When people see real benefits, they are more likely to engage with your contest. Don’t forget to spread the word for your giveaway by publishing “before”, “during”, and ”after” posts that feature a photo or a short video. This type of content easily goes viral and generates lots of interest amongst people. Step 12. Advertise your dental practice 12.1. Create “Before & After” photos This type of content is great for catching people’s attention and encouraging them to take an action. Smile makeover images are a good way to showcase the impact of your work. 12.2. Share patient testimonials Record video testimonials to share the success stories of your patients. Patient proof adds an element of trust to your dental practice’s social media accounts and can have a great impact on potential patients who might be looking for a dentist at the moment. Resharing patients’ posts featuring positive reviews on your own feed may encourage others to consider contacting your practice in future. 12.3. Run a last-minute promotion If a patient cancels an appointment, you can run a last-minute promotion on Facebook. For example, if someone has cancelled an appointment in the last minute, you can post on Facebook that you have a free slot and whomever makes an appointment for that hour will get 50% off their treatment. 12.4. Run paid advertising campaigns It’s possible to promote your business without spending money on social media advertising, but only if you are willing to sacrifice your precious time and attention. To save your time and efforts you can always invest in paid ads where you can increase your reach, boost engagement or increase conversions. Moreover, social media advertising is relatively low-cost alternative in comparison to more traditional channels like broadcast, print, and direct mail. Facebook and Twitter have some of the most robust advertising features that allow you to target your current fans, past customers, the visitors of your practice’s website, and lookalike audiences who are similar to the audience of your existing patients. You just need to make an educated guess on how to split your advertising budget between the channels that your targeted audience hangs out. When advertising on Facebook. instead of only targeting people by their location, it’s better to go with more detailed demographic and behavioral targeting. For example, if you are a pediatric dentist, show your ad to parents within 15 miles of your practice, who are between the 25 and 45 years old, and have an estimated household income of between $125K and $250K. You can even narrow down your Facebook audience by excluding groups of people, for example other local dentists or dental hygienists in your area. With Facebook Custom Audience feature you can target people who have interacted with your business offline or with your Facebook page in some way (e.g. have followed it, messaged you, liked or comment some of your posts, watched your videos or responded to your event on Facebook). YouTube also offers a wide variety of advertising opportunities for your business. It gives you an array of targeting options including: demographics – filter your target audience by age, gender, parental status, or household income; topics – show your ads on videos related to specific topics; keywords – show your video ads based on words or phrases related to a video or a channel; placements – target specific YouTube channels and videos; interests – reach people interested in certain topics. You can also prevent your YouTube ads from appearing on videos that are irrelevant or can hurt your brand image by excluding placements, categories, and keywords. Step 13. Blend social media and offline marketing strategies 13.1. Attract new followers outside social media Use offline marketing materials like business cards, flyers, and posters to promote your social media pages. Social signs, like “I love my dentist” are a great way to get your team and patients involved in your social media marketing activities. They can help you increase the visibility of your practice and will trigger followers’ engagement. When you talk to your patients, ask them to follow you on the social networks, to check-in or to share their experience on your social profile. 13.2. Show appreciation to your patients Host patient appreciation parties Hold a patient appreciation party: you can organize a picnic, a movie night, or a special evening at a local venue. Give yourself enough time to plan and publicize both it in your practice and on social media. You can create a Facebook event on your business page. Have a Treat Day Choose a day when your patients can come, chat with you and get a free cupcake. Announce the special day in advance on social media. Invite people to bring a friend or a family member as well. Shoot photos or videos throughout the Treat Day and share them on your social media accounts. Patient of the month program Recognize a patient of the month by giving gift boxes or flowers to patients at your dental office. The special gesture will encourage current patients to spread the word about your practice among their friends both online and offline. 13.3. Popularize community events Show your commitment to improve the well-being of people in the communities you serve by supporting events like free oral health screenings at your location; a demonstration about a new medical procedure; a presentation given by a dental practitioner.


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Researchers use data to look 'upstream' to see what makes patients sick: News at IU: Indiana University

Researchers use data to look 'upstream' to see what makes patients sick: News at IU: Indiana University | Social Media and Healthcare |

Researchers at IUPUI and the Regenstrief Institute have successfully used data to predict primary care patients' needs that stem from  social determinants of health, a finding that may potentially help shift the focus of health care from caring for ill people to preventing patients from getting sick.

Using data from 48 socioeconomic and public health indicators, researchers were able to look "upstream" to determine which conditions or circumstances led to a patient becoming ill and needed to be addressed through referrals to prevent the patient from becoming ill again.

The conditions that most affect health are the physical, economic and social environment in which people are born, live and work, as well as their personal behaviors.

The study, "Assessing the capacity for social determinants of health data to augment predictive models identifying patients in need of wraparound social services," was published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

The ability to predict the need for referrals stems from an unprecedented and ever-increasing availability of diverse data sources and has the potential to improve health services delivery and health system performance, said Paul K. Halverson, founding dean of the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI and one of the project's researchers.

The research comes at a time when financial incentives for health care are moving from payments for services to payments for keeping patients healthy.

"There is a recognition by most medical providers that we just can't keep our approach focused on illness care," Halverson said. "Prevention as a primary strategy helps us address some of the real drivers of poor health and, hopefully, make a difference early on."

"We increasingly recognize that many -- and perhaps most -- factors influencing health outcomes are found outside of the health system and relate to such universal themes as food availability, adequate housing and reliable transportation," said Dr. Shaun Grannis, director of the Regenstrief Institute's Center for Biomedical Informatics and a co-author of the study. "This early and innovative work helps inform the pathway toward more effectively leveraging these types of data."

The study indicates that it is possible to accurately predict a need for various social services using a range of readily available clinical and community data, said Joshua Vest, another researcher who worked on the study and an associate professor and director for the Center for Health Policy in the Fairbanks School of Public Health. Vest is also a Regenstrief Institute investigator.

By addressing social services needs through referrals, the hope is that patients will avoid not only costly hospitalizations in the future but perhaps unnecessary emergency department visits. The researchers not only identified the need for referrals but identified the best skilled professional who could assist the patient, Vest said.

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How Healthcare Professionals Should Be Using Social Media

How Healthcare Professionals Should Be Using Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Thanks to our technologically advanced and digitally connected society, social media has quickly become an increasingly useful tool for healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, with these great social platforms comes great responsibility, especially for medical professionals. While platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogging and LinkedIn are excellent ways to share information, network and stay up to date on latest industry news, presenting and conducting yourself with proper online etiquette as a healthcare professional is critical.  It is imperative that healthcare employees maintain patient confidentiality and privacy at all times while being a positive representation of their workplace, as any inappropriate use of social media can lead to disciplinary and even legal action.

Social Media Best Practice for Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare employees have to be conscious of what they're posting on social media platforms. Your online profiles are a public representative of not only yourself but also your profession and current or potential employer, so you'll want to give the world a positive impression.

Social media is an extremely valuable platform for accessing information quickly and communicating with others. Healthcare professionals can take advantage of social media strengths by using these tools and website to:

  • Share general health information and educate the public
  • Share the latest news regarding outbreaks, hazards or trends.
  • Network with professionals both in their industry as well as other professions
  • Provide updates on new technologies
  • Provide insight into common questions
  • Learn about new opportunities

 Beneficial Ways that Healthcare Professionals Can Use Social Media

Various social media outlets and actions can be beneficial to healthcare professionals in the following ways.


For healthcare professionals who enjoy writing, blogging on industry topics in a positive and thought-provoking manner can establish them as subject matter experts. Maintaining an active industry blog can show the dedication the individual has to their field, help them stay educated and informed, and looks great to potential employers.


Twitter is one of the most popular sources for communication and news, especially in times of crises. From posting healthcare and safety notices to creating awareness about preventative health campaigns and educational tidbits, healthcare employees can effectively generate attention to health-related topics to create awareness and educate the public. In addition, Twitter acts as a newsfeed for trending topics that can help healthcare workers stay on top of the latest news, developments and information.


With the wide variety of demographics of Facebook users, healthcare professionals can use this platform to share resources like new articles, videos and images to help bridge the information gap between healthcare providers and patients.


As the social media platform known for professional networking, LinkedIn is an excellent platform for healthcare professionals to publish insight, connect with other industry professionals, network and stay up to date with their fields latest news, stories and trends.

What Healthcare Professionals Should Not Share On Social Media

When it comes to social media, it’s important to understand that privacy doesn’t truly exist. Regardless of any security features, once something has been posted on the internet, it will be there forever, even deleting it won’t simply get rid of it. Therefore, it’s crucial for healthcare professionals to think twice before making a post.

Healthcare employees must be cautious with the information they share online. In accordance with HIPPA laws, it is illegal and finable for a healthcare professional to purposely or accidentally share information about patients. Breaches of patient privacy and confidentiality can occur in different ways on social media:

  • Photos or videos of patients, even if they cannot be identified
  • Photos or videos of patients’ records
  • Posts including any descriptions of patients, their conditions, and/or their treatments
  • Referring to patients in a demeaning or negative manner

In addition to patient confidentially, there are other aspects that healthcare professionals should be conscious of not sharing on social platforms, including:

  • Don’t share any proprietary business information regarding your employer
  • Don’t share any negative or inappropriate information about your employer
  • Don't post or share anything that you would be embarrassed to say to your boss or a potential employer

The key to successfully maintaining an online presence and identity is finding a happy and responsible middle between utilizing social media for both professional and personal benefits without breaking patient privacy and confidentially codes. In addition, your employer may also have their own policies regarding social media use, so be sure to be mindful and compliant with their standards as well.

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Plastic surgeon: Patients are asking to look like their Snapchat-filtered selfies

Plastic surgeon: Patients are asking to look like their Snapchat-filtered selfies | Social Media and Healthcare |

Photoshopped magazine faces of celebrities have long been the inspiration for patients seeking out plastic surgery, but now one New York surgeon says patients are now asking to look like the Snapchat-filtered version of themselves. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Dr. Matthew Shulman said that while patients have always often brought in images, they are now using Snapchat filters as examples of how they want their skin, eyes or lips to look.

Several Snapchat filters, like that crown of flowers, will smooth out skin while many will also make the eyes look larger and the lips fuller. Those changes are all procedures that were available before Snapchat, the board-certified plastic surgeon says, like lip fillers and eyelid surgeries.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Michelle Yagoda, who also works in New York, says she’s seen an influence from social media as well. This is occurring in a less obvious way, since patients aren’t coming into her office with actual Snapchat filters as their inspiration. Yagoda says that the social inspiration, however, is making those images widely available — not altering the beauty standards themselves. The changes that she believes have been influenced by social media are common requests like smoother skin.

Shulman certainly isn’t against Snapchat — the surgeon himself was in the news last year for sharing his surgeries on Snapchat, where he averaged over a million views per day. Shulman says he actually prefers patients bringing in a Snapchat filtered image. Achieving a look that’s a doctored version of a selfie is often more realistic than trying to look like someone else entirely, especially when using a photo of a celebrity as a starting point.

Shulman isn’t alone in seeing patients bringing in images edited on social media apps — a cosmetic surgeon in the U.K. echoed similar sentiments earlier this month. In some cases, the doctor recognized body dysmorphic disorder and referred the patients instead to a counselor. Last year, a cosmetic surgeon told Cosmo that the 18-24 year age group was most often citing “wanting to look good in pictures” as the reason behind the surgery.

The trend factors into an ongoing discussion on how the selfie culture — and the ability to Photoshop ourselves at the press of a button — affects self-esteem and body image.

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5 ways Pinterest can be used for patient education

5 ways Pinterest can be used for patient education | Social Media and Healthcare |

Pinterest is a good medium for patient education because many people learn best visually. Images can help convey information that would be much harder to digest in words. It can also serve as a good reference and is more shareable.

1. How the body works

Giving patients a better understanding of how the body works will help them understand problems they may have and the treatments that are available. It also helps patients better identify issues to communicate with their doctor when they know where things are, how they work and what they’re called.

2. How medical procedures work

When a patient understands how a medical procedure works, they may feel more comfortable getting it done. A patient who understands the procedure is also probably less likely to be as anxious about the procedure if they know what is going to happen. Patients can also be informed of procedures or treatment options that they may not have been familiar with before. 

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3. How medical devices work

Giving people illustrations about how a medical device works can not only help patients who are currently using the device, but can also help to bring awareness to other patients who may not have known about the device. Patients who are using the device can become more familiar with how the device is actually working.

4. General wellness and maintaining good health

Pinterest is a good way to give patients reminders about how to take care of their health, in general. Visuals can serve as reference points that can be digested easily. Imagery can also be an effective tool for conveying information in a way that resonates with patients more effectively.

5. Diseases, medical conditions, and illness prevention

Pinterest can be used to generate awareness for diseases and how they are identified and managed. Images can be used to illustrate the way a disease affects the body and what kinds of symptoms can be present. Infographics and other images serve as powerful vehicles for educating patients.

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Technology and Social Media Use Among Patients Enrolled in Outpatient Addiction Treatment Programs: Cross-Sectional Survey Study

Technology and Social Media Use Among Patients Enrolled in Outpatient Addiction Treatment Programs: Cross-Sectional Survey Study | Social Media and Healthcare |

Background: Substance use disorder research and practice have not yet taken advantage of emerging changes in communication patterns. While internet and social media use is widespread in the general population, little is known about how these mediums are used in substance use disorder treatment.

Objective: The aims of this paper were to provide data on patients' with substance use disorders mobile phone ownership rates, usage patterns on multiple digital platforms (social media, internet, computer, and mobile apps), and their interest in the use of these platforms to monitor personal recovery.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of patients in 4 intensive outpatient substance use disorder treatment facilities in Philadelphia, PA, USA. Logistic regressions were used to examine associations among variables.

Results: Survey participants (N=259) were mostly male (72.9%, 188/259), African American (62.9%, 163/259), with annual incomes less than US $10,000 (62.5%, 161/259), and averaged 39 (SD 12.24) years of age. The vast majority of participants (93.8%, 243/259) owned a mobile phone and about 64.1% (166/259) owned a mobile phone with app capabilities, of which 85.1% (207/243) accessed the internet mainly through their mobile phone. There were no significant differences in age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status by computer usage, internet usage, number of times participants changed their phone, type of mobile phone contract, or whether participants had unlimited calling plans. The sample was grouped into 3 age groups (Millennials, Generation Xers, and Baby Boomers). The rates of having a social media account differed across these 3 age groups with significant differences between Baby Boomers and both Generation Xers and Millennials (P<.001 in each case). Among participants with a social media account (73.6%, 190/259), most (76.1%, 144/190) reported using it daily and nearly all (98.2%, 186/190) used Facebook. Nearly half of participants (47.4%, 90/190) reported viewing content on social media that triggered substance cravings and an equal percentage reported being exposed to recovery information on social media. There was a significant difference in rates of reporting viewing recovery information on social media across the 3 age groups with Baby Boomers reporting higher rates than Millennials (P<.001). The majority of respondents (70.1%, 181/259) said they would prefer to use a relapse prevention app on their phone or receive SMS (short message service) relapse prevention text messages (72.3%, 186/259), and nearly half (49.1%, 127/259) expressed an interest in receiving support by allowing social media accounts to be monitored as a relapse prevention technique.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first and largest study examining the online behavior and preferences regarding technology-based substance use disorder treatment interventions in a population of patients enrolled in community outpatient treatment programs. Patients were generally receptive to using relapse prevention apps and text messaging interventions and a substantial proportion supported social media surveillance tools. However, the design of technology-based interventions remains as many participants have monthly telephone plans which may limit continuity.

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general rules of social media engagement for pharma 

general rules of social media engagement for pharma  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Fact social media is about being social. Fact pharma still has a fear of social media. But with learning a few basic techniques and practice those fears can slowly dwindle away. Here are some very general social media rules of engagement for #bigpharma.

Listen to the conversation

  • Listen to what people are talking about
  • Listen to what people are saying about your organization
  • Don’t forget niche conversations

Respond in a timely manner

  • Social media does not sleep
  • Pharma needs to develop a customer service mentality
  • GSK Response Center on Twitter (@GSK_ResponseCtr) is setting an excellent example
  • Do follow others, it is only polite

Do not be tone deaf

  • Be mindful of what is happening around the world:
    • Tragedy,
    • Disaster,
    • Death of a celebrity

Hashtags are a very powerful tool

  • They allow you to join in a conversation
  • They help to identify and connect with an audience
  • They help you to identify what is trending
  • You have more engagement when using hashtags
  • Excellent hashtag research tool for medical field is Symplur

Be relevant and tailor content on every social media platform

  • Frame your content specifically for each different social media platform
  • Different things play differently on different platforms
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Digital Marketing Tips For New Psychiatry Practices

Digital Marketing Tips For New Psychiatry Practices | Social Media and Healthcare |

As social media continues to take over digital marketing, people often choose their doctor by searching online and checking out social media pages. In fact, over 90 million people search for health-related topics online, and over half of millennials use the internet to select a doctor. With this information, it’s no surprise that new psychiatry practices need a strong digital marketingcampaign to gain new clients and keep their business running.

Target Audience

The first step to any kind of marketing is to know your audience inside and out. Before you even start a marketing strategy, you must take the time to get to know your target audience. Without that knowledge, you won’t know the type of clients you’re trying to reach. Ask yourself questions, such as the type of patients you’re seeking for your practice, their typical demographic, and what you offer that other psychiatrists don’t. Knowing your target audience is essential for creating a strong marketing campaign, as it allows you to focus your content on the group.

Provide As Much Information As Possible

When searching for practices on Google, people want to learn as much about a practice in as little time as possible. If you don’t provide enough information on the front page of your website, potential clients will likely skip over your page and move on to the next. Make sure you provide your hours, phone number, services offered, location, as much payment information as you’re comfortable providing, and qualifications of the staff. Give your potential clients the most essential information first to draw them in, then include secondary information and blogs on other pages of the website for clients to explore.


Speaking of blogs, maintaining a blog is a great way to draw more attention to your practice and your website. Blogging allows you to communicate freely with clients and express your personal opinions and thoughts. This is a great way to let potential clients feel as though they get to know you better and allows you to stand out amongst the other psychiatrists online. Also, it’s great for driving traffic to your site with keywords and SEO, and in turn will bring new clients to your office!

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Social Media + Science Marketing: 'But What about Regulations?'

Social Media + Science Marketing: 'But What about Regulations?' | Social Media and Healthcare |

Humans have shared stories and information with each other since the dawn of time, but with the advent of social media and smartphones, sharing ideas is easier than ever. People are now online at all hours of the day and are constantly connected to others in their social circles and beyond. As a result, marketers have recognized the value in maintaining a strong presence on these channels to reach customers.

Social media usage is pervasive in the wider marketing community, but it had been adopted more slowly among the B2B crowd, especially in science. With an increasing amount of scientists and scientific companies becoming active on social media, the channel has proven itself as an important method for members of the scientific community to communicate with one another.

However, because the sciences are often carefully regulated to ensure the protection, safety, and health of patients, B2B companies face additional challenges in interacting with their audience online. With the right approaches, companies can still reap the benefits of a social media engagement program without taking on too much risk.

Here are our best 10 tips for remaining compliant.

1. Learn the rules.

Everyone at your organization should understand the rules so that no one inadvertently breaks one. Sounds simple enough, but let’s get specific:

While regulations around social are constantly evolving, the two biggest sets of regulations science marketers need to know come from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). FDA provided draft guidance for pharma and social media use back in 2014, but note they still have not issued their final guidelines.

Their recommendations are intended to protect consumers and educate healthcare professionals by presenting important risk and benefit information for prescription drugs and medical devices. In summary, when companies post about a particular drug or device, they must find a way to disclose the benefits and side effects of that product. Otherwise, they could be guilty of misleading consumers with inaccurate or incomplete information.

Even with its expanded character count, Twitter is a particularly challenging platform for providing enough fair balance of benefit/risk information about a drug product. To avoid this, companies may want to avoid naming FDA approved products on social media. A good practice is to direct visitors to disease area or product webpages where they can find complete information. Follow Novartis’ US clinical trials recruitment account here to see the best practice in action.

The FTC, an agency that protects America’s consumers, has its own set of guidelines for transparency in advertising and marketing. They state companies must support their advertising claims with solid proof. These rules are intended to enforce “truth in advertising,” and pertain to any promotional posts about food, over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements, contact lenses, and other health-related products. Keep this rule in mind and be prepared to substantiate any health claims with validated studies and other evidence.

2. Tread carefully when talking about research.

In addition to exercising caution when talking about products, be very aware of how you talk about scientific research. First, of course, don’t discuss unpublished research on social media. But even talking about published research can be challenging, as many social platforms are intended for short, concise thoughts. As a result, research findings can be misconstrued if the appropriate context is omitted. John Oliver famously ranted on this very issue last year. Brevity is the soul of wit, but when it comes to scientific facts, you can’t afford to cut corners.

Just read this post from Stat for one example.

3. Establish internal corporate guidelines.

Once you have reviewed the regulations, speak to a lawyer: either a consultant or someone from your own legal department. Partner with them closely so you have definitive internal guidelines for what is appropriate to share on social media, and as noted in this Forbes’ article, how to manage comments from patients who want a dialog.

4. Choose the right platforms for your brand.

This may not seem like it has anything to do with regulations, but if you don’t know where your audience is, you’re simply going speaking to the wrong people, – and navigating this issue for little return. Take the time to conduct surveys or focus groups to learn which platforms your core audience frequents. Remember to still listen on all the networks even if you’re not actively engaged, as that’s the only way to find and monitor popular discussions in your industry.

5. Think about your goals on social media.

Who is your audience and what content matters to them? If your audience is consumer-based and they want education, then be sure your posts are informative. If your audience is researchers who want to know the latest being published in their field, highlight exciting developments as they occur. The point here is that there is a lot you can say on social media that doesn’t go against FCC or FDA guidance. To see how, take a look at the top 10 pharma companies and how they use their social media channels for patient education and to promote company news.

6. Plan ahead.

Although much of social media management is responding to people on the fly and keeping up with timely, emerging trends, you can still plan weeks and months ahead for a lot of the content you share. Creating a social media calendar helps give your colleagues responsible for legal and corporate review enough time to turn around edits to social posts. suggests these key elements to help your teams

7. Consider the consequences.

Keep in mind that if you engage on social media, it is not completely risk-free. Entrust the log-in information to responsible team members and ensure that they understand the social media guidelines, as well as any consequences that could ensue if they are not followed.

8. Don’t sound like a robot.

Although it may seem there are a lot of limitations, that doesn’t mean your brand can’t have a distinct voice on social media. You can remain compliant with the rules while still injecting personality and warmth into your messaging. The important takeaway here is that this rule of thumb should be a part of your guidelines, too.

Need inspiration for a campaign that does the trick? Highlight your amazing scientists, staff or company initiative.

9. Start small.

If the thought of launching a fully involved social media campaign intimidates you, pick a particular product or disease area to start and build up your social media presence gradually. You’ll learn a lot about navigating regulations as you go.

10. Have the courage to be a pioneer.

Even if your competition isn’t on social media, lead the way. The more companies that get on social, the more we all learn together about using it effectively.

As tempting as it is to avoid the headaches that regulations can cause, social media is an important marketing tactic. As pharma and other heavily regulated industries embrace digital communication channels more and more, the guidelines around them will become more clear. But for now, these tips should help you feel more comfortable being social-savvy.

M.a. BA's curator insight, March 12, 10:29 PM

Social media+ science marketing regulations

This was a deep article because it is focused on regulations. Most people do not think about regulations when your online. Some people think you can say what you want because your online. If you work for a company you might need to watch what yo say. I have known people who got fired for social media comments. The article gives examples of things to think about when on social media. The article also tells you things like "plan ahead" and have the thoughts your going to publish ready.

Doreen Tardif's curator insight, March 14, 12:54 AM
Social media has made sharing ideas easier than ever. The marketing community has recognized the value of having strong presence on social media platforms. Scientists and scientific companies have also recognized the importance of using social media for communication.

For social media marketing to be effective, these are some things to consider when advertising like choosing the right platform for your brand, think about your goals on social media, don't sound like a robot, and have goals when you advertise on social media.
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Implementing an Integrated Marketing and PR Strategy for Healthcare Brands

Implementing an Integrated Marketing and PR Strategy for Healthcare Brands | Social Media and Healthcare |

Are you a healthcare marketer looking to modernize your public relations strategy and take your content marketing game to the next level? Are you hearing a lot about how you need public relations, content marketing, social media engagement and connections with healthcare influencers, in order to grow?

Today’s healthcare landscape is dynamic and rapidly changing. Shifting federal and state policy mandates, new care delivery models, the informed patient, downward pressures to reduce costs, and the promise of technology to better connect care and treat disease proactively are creating a unique inflection point unlike anything we’ve seen. At the same time, our core healthcare stakeholders are changing the way they seek, consume and share information.


Employing a strong integrated marketing and PR strategy can be a key move to reach the next level.

Earned, shared and owned strategies all intersect and magnify each other. The difficulty remains in the million moving parts to this strategic approach. Integrated marketing and PR agencies know how to create, produce, promote and leverage a great story so you can move your healthcare brand past the infancy stages into a connected company. At this critical juncture, you can’t afford to miss out on what integrated agencies have to offer.


Social media is viewed as the second most effective digital marketing tactic for customer retention purposes, behind only email.


Some hear “social media” and think only of Facebook, Twitter and maybe LinkedIn. While tweeting a few times a day on industry topics or posting daily on Facebook and LinkedIn is a viable and inexpensive way of getting messages out there, social media opportunities can extend well beyond these channels without breaking the bank.

Cambridge BioMarketing launched a social media campaign around International Rare Disease Day that targeted advocates, caregivers and the general public via social media netting 1.4M+ total impressions. Read the case study to learn more.

In particular, emerging healthcare businesses and brands have a distinct advantage when it comes to social media promotion. Why? Because active social media users love talking about what’s new. Perhaps it’s the most promising new treatment for a rare disease, or a new virtual assistant to make physicians’ documentation easier. Healthcare social media provides a powerful means of connecting with your brand’s customers, patients and advocates.

Combining your PR and social media tactics is a winning strategy. Integrated PR and social media services ensure that your brand gets the spotlight in today's “always-on” world.

Healthcare Trends

Are you ready to act quickly and increase your brand’s thought leadership by leveraging breaking news? Trend jacking is one of the most effective tactics in the PR arsenal. It allows you to position your brand, its executives and experts as a thought leader by including your perspectives in coverage around trending industry issues. Additionally, by incorporating commentary on breaking news into social media programs, organizations can position themselves as resources on hot topics, inspiring new connections and creating urgency around issues that impact their constituents. You can hack the news cycle and react quickly to breaking news.

There is a myriad of examples on how to apply this to specific healthcare sectors. It could include topics such as the zika virus (providing information on how to avoid exposure or news on vaccines in development); CTE (sharing concussion facts and treatment options); or healthcare data breaches (discussing how best to prepare for and mitigate compromising sensitive information).



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How Healthcare Digital Marketing Helps Doctors to Grow Their Practice 

How Healthcare Digital Marketing Helps Doctors to Grow Their Practice  | Social Media and Healthcare |


Marketing isn't just advertising because so many people believe. It is countless has a challenge. Marketing doesn’t relate to just selling of product or even services and need to do much more with techniques and campaigns apart from marketing. When someone describes healthcare marketing agency it is about a specialized marketing agency that's capable with regard to effective marketing of healthcare services. This kind of marketing was unheard expression in the past whenever clinical services were very limited on the specific place. 

Necessity of marketing regarding healthcare

The circumstance has changed over years and doctors also need aid of marketing services today. This doesn’t signify only an unbiased practicing doctor needs to marketplace his clinical services but an established medical center, medical center or hospital or perhaps a big party would also need marketing assistance to grow their business. Not merely medical providers are limited but patients’ approach is fixed. Patients must also know about common and specialised medical services in and around their whereabouts where they can approach for much better treatment and medical care. On the internet technology has developed an ease for patients to search doctors, clinics, healthcare centers, as well as hospitals on the web and book their appointment together with consultants.

Marketing is useful for medical doctors and sufferers
Online lookup has no utilize if healthcare services are not available on the web. That’s why doctors and medical solutions do sustain their internet sites and some other websites consolidate list of specialised medical services and obtainable doctors in the city. A good some medical doctors and healthcare services can be accessed about popular social media networks. All of this is possible as a result of healthcare digital marketing agencies that create a solid link between medical doctors and their individuals. Digital marketing is not only assisting doctors to cultivate their individual network but in addition facilitating sufferers to connect to medical doctors. 

Services which marketing agencies offer

Marketing agencies specializing in healthcare marketing, like healthcare marketing agencies UK play significant function in expanding practices of doctors as well as other medical services by building tweaking their internet sites. The marketing agencies also assist in Search engine optimization, SEM, e-commerce, social networking marketing, and mobile apps. More people search on their cell phones and advance of mobile apps is, therefore, extremely important part of digital marketing. Marketing agencies aid doctors to maintain their online presence and lead in their web reputation. The specialized healthcare digital marketing agencies generates campaigns for doctors as well as suggest ways to market their services. It is sort of comprehensive unique brand marketing to fit specific clinical requirements.

Exactly why to use them

Like a doctor or even clinician, marketing isn't your job and you may not be conversant with fundaments associated with marketing. Digital marketing is highly experienced job that can be performed by technology specialists within digital environment. Lots of people in your field may be making use of marketing services, however, you need to stick out in the crowd. The specific healthcare marketing agency is thus, the right means to fix bring you in standout placement.

All this is possible because of healthcare digital marketing agencies that create a strong link between doctors and their patients. Digital marketing is not only helping doctors to grow their patient network but also facilitating patients to connect to doctors.Marketing agencies specializing in healthcare marketing, like healthcare marketing agencies UK play significant role in growing practices of doctors and other medical services by building and maintaining their websites. For more details please visit healthcare digital marketing agencies.

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Medical practitioners opt for social media platforms & clinical apps to widen their knowledge base: 

Medical practitioners opt for social media platforms & clinical apps to widen their knowledge base:  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Medical practitioners currently use a variety of social media and clinical apps to further their learning and knowledge. These platforms act as enablers to help manage or engage patients effectively, said Jayesh Chauhan, chief development officer, WhiteCoats, a digital platform for doctors.

Popular categories of medical apps for medical news & journal updates, drug databases, disease protocols & guidelines are also gaining traction and user base, he added.

While there are various online solutions for appointments and consultations, WhiteCoats is one of the few platforms that allows them to communicate and collaborate within related speciality groups specialists which could be either a medical association or a hospital.

In the last 18 months, WhiteCoats helps over 50 medical societies’ across specialities to further their digital initiatives. We are continually working on strategies to engage over 1 lakh doctors on the platform to provide significant value on a daily basis, said Chauhan.

By 2020, WhiteCoats is gearing up to be a top digital platform for medical practitioners and medical communities in India, measured not just by number of doctors but in terms of the value derived by engaging with them and using the platform, he said.

The company which is funded 100% by ValueMomentum has received $500,000 with a current recurring investment of around $1 million each year. Currently its team comprises of over 40 members across product, technology, medical practitioners, and market execution teams.

Solution areas being explored for the future include Patient Engagement, and Condition Focused Remote Patient Monitoring/Care. These capabilities will be offered to individual practitioners as well as SMB clinics/hospitals on the WhiteCoats network. In addition, it will enhance the community engagement capabilities offered to medical societies hospitals and clinics.

It is reported that health-tech start-ups globally received over $13 billion of funding in the past year. Indian health-tech firms have raised over $350 million in this period with over 100 deals in this space. Hence, these patient-interface business solutions and platforms that are focused on bringing in efficiencies and effectiveness to a medical practitioner will also find its due share in terms of investments, said Chauhan.

The challenge in terms of adoption and growth for apps and digital platforms for doctors will be to continually add value, and stay relevant to the current developments. 

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How Pediatric Medical Practices Need to Use Social Media

How Pediatric Medical Practices Need to Use Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Valentine’s Day is a holiday of love that extends beyond romantic feelings. If you love your career in the medical field, use the holiday as a chance to promote your business.

Medical practices typically rely on directory listings and word of mouth to earn patients. An informative and appealing website is also a step in the right marketing direction. Social media, however, is the newest trend earning medical practices attention and patients.

A well-managed social media account will help you engage with both new and existing patients as well as keep your patients informed to important news and updates.

This post hones in on two dimensions of social media marketing: Facebook as the medium and families as your target audience. On average, 1.4 billion people log-in to Facebook every day, thus, a fair share of your patients are likely to have an account. More people use Facebook than any other social media medium, so it makes sense to start your marketing campaign there.

Whether you are a pediatrician, a pediatric dentist, orthodontist or any other pediatric medical specialist, your practice should have a business page on Facebook. This allows you to post your location and contact information, provides the opportunity for patients to “like” your page, etc. Once your page is created, the following tips will help you maximize your marketing campaign:

1. Use your Facebook page to list the hours of your practice.

Business hours, holiday schedules, snow delays and cancellations are among the most important pieces of information for your Facebook page. Having your schedule posted on Facebook allows a working parent to quickly check the times you’re available–whether they need an immediate appointment or they are trying to balance their schedule with when they can pencil in a visit. Holiday schedules are particularly difficult to remember, and parents will appreciate this easily accessible resource. Finally, school closings are also a welcome addition to your page as parents and guardians could keep the calendar handy as they schedule their children’s appointments.

2. Have your phone number posted and ready to call.

Though you hope many parents have your number saved to their phones, a readily available contact number helps grandparents, siblings, babysitters and any other caregiver access your contact information in a moment’s notice. Facebook allows you to hyperlink the phone number for mobile devices, thus, a brief click would put worried or frazzled caregivers in immediate contact with you.

3. Post pictures of you and your staff in action.

If you run a medical practice that cares for children, you probably decorate your office and dress in holiday gear for the many occasions that excite children. Make your practice seem more inviting to potential patients by showing off your enthusiasm for the events that make the little ones smile.

Similarly, if your practice participates in community fundraisers or sponsors events, be sure to post images of these occurrences, as well. Here, you can draw attention to noteworthy charity functions as well as emphasize your involvement in the community.

4. Give your patients a chance to shine.

Turn unpleasant doctor visits into bragging rights for your patients. With parental and child permission, take photos of the brave youngsters who had shots, had teeth pulled, broke a bone, etc. By occasionally posting a “superstar” of the month or week, your patients will have a bit more of a rosy attitude in painful endeavors. Chances are, family members will share whatever post their child is in, thus earning your medical practice publicity to whoever sees the image.

5. Highlight important medical news and information.

Facebook is a quick way to send reminders and news alerts to your patients’ families in ways they are likely to see. Remind parents to schedule physicals or teeth cleanings. Alert families if there is a high occurrence of strep throat or other illness. Provide a list of flu symptoms. The possibilities are endless, and your patients will appreciate your medical guidance.

6. Share your blog posts on Facebook.

Digital marketing experts often discuss the benefits of having a blog for SEO purposes and for keeping you website patient-friendly. Whether you or a content writer created the content, use social media to promote the post. If it’s a worthwhile read, patients may share the post and earn you further publicity. Lastly, an informative post will draw attention to your medical expertise.

7. Remember that your Facebook page is an extension of your web page, not a substitute.

Your Facebook page will earn you publicity and engagement with your patients, but it is not a substitute for a well-run medical website. Whatever updates you make to Facebook, you can also make to your site. Thus, you’ll have optimized information sources for organic searches and social media followers.

Proper maintenance of your website and social media accounts is an undeniably time-consuming task. By hiring a digital marketing firm, you can focus on your patients’ well-being while the firm helps maintain and create digital relationships.

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Could a pharma company shun sales reps and be successful?

Could a pharma company shun sales reps and be successful? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Could there be a pharma, healthcare or life sciences company that decides to shun sales representatives?

Matt Lowe, pharma agency veteran and founder (just this week) of healthtech agency, believes that such a company, relying heavily on search and performance marketing, may be a possiblity in the next few years (albeit once somebody has the courage to take the leap).

I spoke to Lowe about what he has seen across pharma and healthcare marketing, and the skills that are currently lacking in the industry. He painted a picture of pharma companies that are "certainly patient centric, they just don’t always behave like it online." 

B2B and B2C are blurring

"The healthcare and life sciences industry needs to understand, I believe, that doctors are consumers like anyone else, and so are patients and carers and nurses and pharmacists," says Lowe.

He adds that though most people's first point of contact when looking for medical advice is a search engine [62% of UK patients], "currently pharma has this decentralised model - a plan gets handed out and it’s very much based on sales force and market access – understandably, because that model has delivered significant returns for many, many years."

Such an approach has to change if pharma is to keep up with agile tech companies. Lowe mentions Amazon and JPMorgan Chase, saying "they have digital woven into the fabric of how they operate - pharma doesn’t, so trying to be agile and define how it engages with audiences is going to be a slow process."

Patient-focused content will impact the bottom line

The process of building website infrastructure and online content is one where Lowe sees a breakdown in patient focus – he describes websites as "built based on the ambition, critical success factors, brand and strategic imperatives of the pharma company," but adding that "patients don't care about any of those things. They care about solutions when they need it most, whether it’s a stubbed toe or multiple myeloma."

"For the companies that have the most data on these solutions, the way they use that data is really bad. I get asked sometimes - ‘Do people want information from a big pharma company?’ - and I genuinely think people don’t care where the information comes from, if it’s well balanced, useful, relieves anxiety, or helps with the next best step."

This sort of content often benefits communities dealing with a particular condition, such as diabetes or cardiovascular problems, but Lowe asserts that the value of this approach for pharma also impacts on harder metrics, not just the softer ones.

"From a financial aspect," he says, "if people are better controlled then concordance is better (compliance, persistence, adherence) people stay on drugs longer, there's more effective up-titrating and it affects the P&L very positively."

Analytics and planning skills are lacking, for now

Pharma is stereotyped as being a laggard in some areas of digital. Though this is perhaps too easy an assumption to make, Lowe characterises the typical campaign or website build involving perhaps "a social listening exercise, maybe a keyword planner" but not truly understanding "insights informed infrastructure".

According to Lowe, marketers need to look at a slew of search and behavioural data and decide "what to avoid, what is useful based on semantic search behaviours, what kind of content is engaged with, on which platforms, with what frequency, and in which formats."

This type of activity will help set "domain strategy, url taxonomy, site structure, and onsite and offsite keywords", but according to Lowe the industry needs to recruit better skills in technology such as "tag management, advanced analytics, Google search console etc." 

Pharma needs to join the dots with performance marketing

Once campaigns and content are live, the next task is optimisation of performance marketing. Again, knowing how to track users and understand the success of content is key.

Lowe gives the example of event tracking, such as how many doctors are watching videos on up-titration of a complex medicine, or tracking consumers downloading a helpful PDF. Combining event tracking with acquistion through social media, and landing page optimisation is the kind of marketing industry standard conversion funnel that pharma needs to properly implement.

In order to do this, says Lowe, "investment in new people, new behaviours and new skills" is needed.

The rest of the world isn’t standing still

Many of these techniques of performance marketing are fairly well established now, but pharma marketers shouldn't be complacent and think that bringing their capability up to standard will be simple. Tech continues to evolve, with innovation such as blockchain creeping into paid media.

As ever, digital transformation is a journey, not an endpoint. Whether pharma needs its sales reps or not, the skillset for pharma marketers is changing.

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Social Media HIPAA Compliance

Social Media HIPAA Compliance | Social Media and Healthcare |

The amount of time people spend on social media is constantly increasing. On average, a person spends more than two hours a day on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and many other social media sites. Our world has become more social, and we value being in touch with friends near and far at the tap of a finger.

Chances are you and your colleagues have an account on at least one social media platform. If used appropriately, social media helps us stay connected, share experiences and important information with our followers, and explore new interests. But we each have our own personal preferences around sharing. Some like to journal their day for all to see, while others may be more private and selective in their posts.

In our professional lives, we often come across well-intentioned posts that have unintended consequences. Consider the recent post by ER nurse Katherine Smith Lockler that went viral. Her intention was to educate people about staying out of the ER if they have minor flu symptoms and to encourage handwashing, but that’s not how it turned out.

With over 9 million views, nurse Lockler became an Internet sensation, albeit with mixed reviews. Some nurses applauded her for her honesty and good intentions, while others felt her post had an unprofessional tone and may even have violated HIPAA privacy regulations. If such allegations are found to be true, nurse Lockler could face disciplinary action by the board of nursing, including a reprimand or sanction, assessment of a monetary fine, or temporary or permanent loss of her nursing license.
This example, along with many others, leads to the questions: "What is okay to post?" and "How can I share important information without violating anybody’s rights?" Sometimes, it is a very thin line between what’s okay and what’s not. So, when in doubt, do not post!

A Quick Overview of HIPAA

HIPAA is an acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Passed in 1996, HIPAA is a federal law that sets a national standard to protect medical records and other personal health information. The rule defines "protected health information" as health information that:

  • Identifies an individual and
  • Is maintained or exchanged electronically or in hard copy

Information with any components that could be used to identify a person is protected. The protection stays with the information as long as the information is in the hands of a covered entity or business associate. HIPAA protections apply to individually identifiable information in any form, electronic or nonelectronic. The paper progeny of electronic information is also covered (i.e., the information does not lose its protections simply because it is printed out of a computer), as are oral communications.

Be Social, and Respect HIPAA!

Infringing on a patient’s privacy on social media can be extremely easy, even if we don’t intend to do so. Improper use of social media by nurses and other healthcare professionals may violate state and federal laws—such as HIPAA—established to protect patient privacy and confidentiality. Such violations may result in both civil and criminal penalties, including fines and possible jail time.

Here are our Do’s and Don’t’s in regard to posting on social media:


  • Know your workplace/facility social media policy
    We can’t stress this enough. Your workplace will have policies to ensure compliance with HIPAA. There may be additional restrictions on social media usage and posting for all employees. Make sure you know your workplace’s rules and follow them strictly.
    In one real-life example, several nurses who work together in a hospital emergency department were fired for discussing patients on a social media site. Even though they did not post any identifying information, they still violated the hospital's policies.
  • Get patient permission in writing.
    Maybe you think that posting something about a patient’s situation or outcome may benefit a broader audience. What better way could there be than to educate your network by sharing that valuable experience on social media? Before you do so, be sure to get the patient’s permission in writing in order to prevent any consequences due to violating the patient’s rights. (And don’t forget to confirm that such a posting complies with your facility’s policies.)
  • Use a designated social media manager.
    If you are posting on behalf of your workplace, make sure you follow all your employer’s rules and policies. It’s also best to know whether your workplace has a designated social media manager whose job it is to make posts on behalf of the facility.


  • Don’t post patient information or case details.
    Although this seems obvious, we sometimes don’t realize that patients may be identified accidentally in social media posts that include information about their cases, even if their names are not posted. Such a breach of confidentiality can lead to serious consequences, including termination for nurses and other healthcare professionals.
    In another real-life example, a nurse who treated an accused killer posted on Facebook that she had come face-to-face with evil and hoped that the alleged “cop-killer” would rot in hell. Although the nurse had not stated any specific details about the patient, the circumstances of the patient's injury and concurrent media coverage made him easily identifiable. A few days later, the nurse was fired for her unprofessional behavior.
  • Don’t believe a post is ever truly private or can be fully deleted.
    Once you post anything online, it will live forever! Even if you delete a post, it may have already been shared, saved, copied, downloaded, etc. There are endless possibilities of what happens once any content is posted publicly. Maybe a screenshot will be forwarded directly to your boss by one of your “friends”!
  • Don’t give blanket medical advice.
    While it is okay to post, for example, about the importance of handwashing, stay away from any blanket medical advice, including medication use, dosages, etc. Instead, refer your readers to a reputable source that provides evidence-based information about your topic, or recommend people make an appointment with their own primary care provider. Remember, addressing healthcare questions on social media may violate HIPAA rules.

Consider these Do’s and Don’t’s before posting on any social media platform. Maintaining one’s professionalism and respecting everyone’s privacy is critical for all nurses and other healthcare practitioners. And when in doubt about your posting, remember the adage “Better safe than sorry!”
Let’s all keep the realm of social media fun—and HIPAA-compliant—for all!

About Wild Iris Medical Education:

Wild Iris Medical Education, Inc., is a privately held, woman-owned company providing online healthcare continuing education since 1998. We offer online ANCC-accredited nursing continuing education courses, including CEUs for nursing case managers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, paramedics, EMTs, and other healthcare professionals.

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Managing your online presence simply, economically

Managing your online presence simply, economically | Social Media and Healthcare |

Blogs and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube may help physicians not only expand the reach of their practice but also influence online conversations with their own perspectives. It helps, though, to have clear goals in mind before you begin, said Kevin Pho, MD, ACP Member, an internist and founder ofKevinMD, an influential health care blog and social media outlet online at He offered physicians a succinct piece of advice: “Don't just go on social media for the sake of using social media.”

Dr. Pho said that social media can empower physicians in three ways. “There's a lot of bad information online. You can go online and direct people to a reputable source, or you can be that source,” he said. “Second, if physicians don't define themselves, they will be defined by a physician ratings site, and they may not like what comes up. The third is to make their voices heard, especially when it comes to the ways in which health care is changing.”

The benefits of building an online presence outweigh the risks, as long as there is a thoughtful approach. Image by iStock

The key to optimizing social media tools, in a nutshell, is determining what to say and how to say it, said Ira Nash, MD, FACP, senior vice president and executive director of Northwell Health Physician Partners in the New York City area and founder of “Auscultation,” a Northwell-hosted blog.

“Start by exploring what you are trying to accomplish, and those goals should drive what tools you use,” he said.

Audience is also an important consideration, Dr. Nash said, with the two primary choices for physicians being patients or other health care professionals.

“I think it could go either way [patient or physician], but it's hard to sustain both,” he said. “I got into online health because I wanted to start a new channel of communication among physicians in our medical group. … There [also] are people who are posting around a clinical area in hopes of burnishing their credentials and expanding their practice, and that's a different activity.”

Drawbacks, solutions

Social media takes time, a scarce and precious resource for physicians. But the number of hours spent is less important than sustaining a given channel or platform—on whatever schedule is feasible—after it launches.

Dr. Pho acknowledged that his part-time clinical practice and the 20 to 40 hours a week he spends on social media—not to mention his 3 million monthly blog pageviews—make him an outlier, but he said a one-time investment of a few hours can be more than enough to create a viable online presence.

“You need a certain amount of consistency,” Dr. Pho said. “A lot of people go gangbusters at first and then peter out after a few months. Create a schedule you can maintain for at least the first eight to 12 months. You do need some time, but it could be every day, every week, or every month.”

Starting a social media channel only to eventually neglect or abandon it can do more harm than never starting one in the first place. A 2016 report from Sprout Social, a social media management and advocacy firm, found that 89% of social messages go unanswered, which in turn can lead users to choose a competitor or even publicly shame the account.

“All of us hate to go to a site and see it's last been updated six months ago or a year ago,” Dr. Nash said. “Why would you go back there?”

Once you start an account or accounts, it's important to actively monitor them to continue to manage your reputation, said Thomas Savides, MD, chief experience officer for UC San Diego Health.

“You can respond to messages with a positive acknowledgement; ‘Thank you for your comment,’” he said. “Or you can say ‘I'm sorry for your experience. Let's find a time to talk offline.’”

Another concern is return on investment. Even as social media spending is expected to reach 20.9% of the average marketing budget by 2021, only 11.5% of businesses can demonstrate the impact of that spending, and only 3.4% of marketing leaders said social media contributes very highly to their firm's overall performance, according to the 2016 CMO Survey, a biannual survey of chief marketing officers across 13 industries cosponsored by the American Marketing Association, Deloitte, and Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

At the same time, more patients now use the internet to “shop” for clinicians who fit their needs. A 2012 PricewaterhouseCoopers report found that 41% of 1,090 U.S. adults who responded to a consumer survey used social media to help them select a doctor, hospital, or medical facility.

As Dr. Nash's blog, Auscultations, gained prominence, the resulting visibility did not cause a noticeable uptick in patients, but he believes it did help establish him as a voice in the health care discourse.

“A number of my posts got picked up by people with a larger reach,” Dr. Nash said. “If your goal is to create some credentials as a thought leader, it's important to be using social media.”

The most widespread deterrent among physicians considering social media may be privacy concerns, particularly those related to potentially violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

“Any kind of demographic information, whether it's age, sex, location, certainly name, should not be used,” said ACP Resident/Fellow Member Ravi Parikh, MD, MPP, a social media expert. “You'd want to stay away from a diagnosis if it was rare. Focus on the condition or the treatment rather than the patients themselves.”

Simply put, Dr. Pho advised, “Don't say anything you wouldn't say in a crowded hospital elevator.”

Hiring a firm vs. DIY

Many marketing firms cater to physicians and can execute full-service online marketing campaigns. Costs of such campaigns vary based on the size of the practice, the vendor selected for the job, and the desired components or objectives of a campaign (for example, some might include online ad buys or the creation of a website, while others might include only social media).

According to marketing data publicly posted online at the websites of online marketing providers, some vendor agreements can range from $1,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars per month. (One-time setup costs for developing new items like websites may also apply.) Social media alone can range from $1,000 to $20,000 per month. Other vendors charge a percentage of a client's annual budget, which generally ranges from about 2% to 12%.

Evan Meyers, a business development representative with Docero, a New York-based physician marketing firm, said his firm not only helps design a campaign but provides metrics on its effectiveness. The campaigns are mainly geared toward physicians looking to bring new patients into a practice, he said.

Mr. Meyers said, “Proper campaign performance reporting tracks how many people have visited the physician's website, what brought the person to the website, and how many of those website visitors filled out an appointment form and became a new patient for the practice.”

At the same time, independently creating an effective online presence can defray the costs of or need for such a campaign. Tools like blogs and social media are free or very inexpensive to develop. “The technical side is pretty simple, unless you're [completely inexperienced],” Dr. Nash said. “It's very easy to go out and set up your own blog or social media account. The hard part is sustainability.”

“If [physicians] are not interested in doing it themselves, and they want to hire someone, that's fine,” Dr. Pho said. “But if you spend the time to figure out what you want to do, if you understand the different channels, that's what [firms] are going to do anyway. Plus, you lose voice and authenticity when you don't do the content yourself, and patients can see that.”

Navigating the space

Another benefit of a strong online presence is that it can help physicians compete with ratings sites in search engine results. Physicians are frequently frustrated by independent websites that allow users to critique or “grade” their doctor-patient experiences. Many reviews tend to fall on the extreme ends of the spectrum, presenting a misleading picture of a practice, experts said.

“The number of physician rating websites is high,” said Dr. Parikh. “When it comes to hospitals there are valid metrics, but with individual physicians there's not a good way to find out who's saying what and trust it. People who review either had a very good experience or a very bad experience. There's not a lot of volume or a good sample size.”

Although it is possible to dispute a rating or review, it can be challenging, experts said, with each site having different rules for amending or retracting user content. But if you cultivate your own online presence and offer details online about yourself and your practice, that information will compete with any negative reviews in search results, said Dr. Savides.

Dr. Pho recommends starting with LinkedIn, the all-purpose network for professionals, and Doximity, a similar network catering to health care professionals. After Dr. Nash writes a blog post, he shares it on Twitter and LinkedIn. And following others on social media is a big part of its value, said Dr. Parikh.

“It probably enables a greater amount of science and practical information being shared online,” he said. “Leading publications publish snippets of articles [on social media], and following them is a good way to stay up to date.”

It is no secret that arguments, sometimes heated, can break out online. Be prepared for the inevitable criticism, and be thoughtful about when and how to weigh in on specific topics, Dr. Pho said.

“Everyone understands the highly politicized nature of health care,” Dr. Pho said. “There are lots of opinions, and you'll get into arguments, especially on Twitter. Go in with your eyes open. Are you able to engage in healthy debate online?”

Ultimately, physicians who have successfully used social media argue, the benefits of building an online presence outweigh the risks, as long as there is a thoughtful approach.

“There's this tremendous power in social media and tremendous interest in using it—enhancing your public profile, branding yourself as a disease- or technique-specific expert,” Dr. Parikh said. “For all its downside, it has much more promise. Think about how social media could help your practice, rather than automatically straying away from it.”

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Building a Facebook Ad for Clinical Trials: A Practical, Step-by-Step Guide

Building a Facebook Ad for Clinical Trials: A Practical, Step-by-Step Guide | Social Media and Healthcare |

It’s no secret that Facebook is a powerful clinical trial recruitment engine — here’s what you need to know to design and launch your first campaign.

In recent years, Facebook has emerged as one of the most effective channels for clinical trial marketing and patient recruitment. Thanks to the social network’s astonishingly large reach and powerful targeting tools, clinical trials can reach an unprecedented number of potential patients in an incredibly time- and cost-efficient manner.

But if you’re new to Facebook’s advertising platform, you might need a little help getting started. While designing, launching, and managing multi-site recruitment campaigns requires a great deal of expertise and technical know-how, having a general sense of how the platform works can be incredibly helpful when discussing campaigns with your digital advertising team or vendor. We’ve put together a basic overview of the first five steps that are involved in setting up a new Facebook recruitment campaign.

1. Identify your goals

Every ad campaign needs a solid list of goals and objectives behind it, and Facebook is no exception. In order to ensure optimal outcomes, it’s best to have a solid definition of what success looks like at the outset.

Facebook lays out three categories for campaign goals: awareness, consideration, and conversion. Each of these goals are designed to help you appropriately target users as they reach different stages of their path to treatment. Depending on the scope and objectives of your trial, they may or may not be applicable.

The majority of active clinical trials will opt for conversion, which will enable you to track your success (and spend your budget) on qualified online referrals, rather than impressions or on-platform social actions.

2. Define your audience

Once you’ve chosen the objective of your campaign, the next step is defining your target audience. Let’s say you’re trying to reach early-stage Alzheimer’s patients and generate qualification appointments for an investigator site in Los Angeles, CA. How will you set your targeting parameters?

In this case, you know that the user location should be limited to Los Angeles. There’s a chance that early-stage Alzheimer’s patients will be looking for treatment information, but it will likely be their children or other members of their family who are ultimately making treatment decisions on their behalf. You’ll want to set the age of your audience to 35 and above in order to avoid paying for unwanted clicks being made by users who are too young, meaning they won’t likely be the one’s making those decisions.

Facebook’s Audience Insights feature can help clinical trials get even more granular, identifying interest areas and demographic data. By using this tool, the example Alzheimer’s trial can target people who have joined specific Alzheimer’s-related interest groups, or even determine the age and gender breakdown of their audience.

3. Decide where to run the ad

After you’ve narrowed your audience down, you need to decide where to run your ads. Clinical trials aren’t necessarily limited to Facebook’s platform — they can also display on Facebook-owned properties like Messenger and Instagram, which are great for reaching younger audiences, and on other properties within the Facebook Audience Network.

Whether trials take advantage of these features depends on the audience they’re trying to target. If you know that potential patients are heavy mobile users, Messenger and Instagram might make sense. If not, you might want to stick with the Facebook platform.

4. Set your budget

At this point, you’re probably wondering about the costs. Fortunately, Facebook makes it easy to control spending, allowing you to choose how much you want to spend overall, or defining how much you’re willing to pay per action. In addition, you can set limits on the daily or total spend, ensuring you don’t exceed your total marketing budget or blow through it in a matter of days.

However, the actual cost of an individual ad will highly depend on how valuable the viewer is, when and where the ad is placed, and a number of other factors. Our philosophy: don’t pay too much attention to each ad on its own, and focus instead on the bigger picture.

5. Design your ad

The last step before you publish is to design the ad for your clinical trial. Facebook allows you to choose from a number of ad formats, including photo, video, and carousel styles. The platform also has a special “lead” format to encourage users to click through, a feature that’s particularly useful in helping drive traffic to localized microsites and online screeners for further qualification.

When crafting your ads messaging and visual layout, you’ll need to take measures to ensure full IRB, FDA, and Facebook compliance. The good news is that once your ads are approved, you can turn them on and off, or scale your budget as needed, making it possible to keep things as cost efficient as possible.

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Will digital phenotyping ever be applied to pharma marketing?

Will digital phenotyping ever be applied to pharma marketing? | Social Media and Healthcare |

The landscape for pharma marketing is changing rapidly and pharma companies are being forced to rethink how and to whom they market.

For example, it's now reasonable to talk about the possibility of a pharma company shunning sales reps entirely and instead using digital channels to reach healthcare professionals and patients directly – an approach that probably would have seemed unthinkable less than a decade ago.

While pharma marketers have lots of room for improvement in terms of how they connect to professionals and consumers online, they're increasingly active in digital channels ranging from search to social.

Through these digital channels, pharma marketers have the opportunity to connect healthcare professionals and consumers to content and resources that are relevant to conditions they treat, are being treated for, or need treatment for.

Of course, thanks to regulations like HIPAA, pharma marketers are far more limited in how they can target their digital ads. Use of first-party data is generally a no-no, and some otherwise commonly-used types of remarketing are also often not permissible.

This makes it more difficult for pharma marketers to reach the specific people they want to reach. So they develop campaigns that are less granularly targeted and thus often more expensive. They purchase ads against specific condition-related terms. And so on and so forth.

But in the not too distant future, is it possible that pharma marketers will have access to targeting solutions based on digital phenotyping?

As the New York Times recently detailed in a piece about digital phenotyping, which one study defined as “moment-by-moment quantification of the individual-level human phenotype in situ using data from personal digital devices, a growing number of tech companies and researchers “are tracking users' social media posts, calls, scrolls and clicks in search of behavior changes that could correlate with disease symptoms.”

Much of the exploration of digital phenotyping to date has focused on mental illness and mood disorders. For instance, Mindstrong Health, a mental health startup, is analyzing smartphone usage in an attempt to detect signs of depression. And Facebook is already using artificial intelligence to scan content posted by users for signs of suicidal thought. In some cases, it has used its technology to display notifications or to alert local authorities so they can follow up and intervene if necessary.

While there are significant questions about the accuracy of digital phenotyping, it's not difficult to see the potential for it to also be applied to digital marketing, giving pharma marketers the ability to target consumers on more than just demographics, stated interests, search keywords and the like.

The big question: will this ever happen?

That isn't clear. Facebook, for instance, has been vying for pharma ad dollars, apparently with mixed success. The social media giant late last year held an event to pitch pharma marketers on the use of Facebook to target users for clinical trials. At that event, it reportedly indicated that it would not allow pharma marketers to target users based on health conditions.

Facebook's stance makes sense. Allowing pharma marketers to target its users based on conditions the social network knows or thinks they have would almost certainly lead to a PR backlash. There would no doubt be calls for legal and regulatory action. In Europe this sort of profiling is regulated by the new GDPR.

A reminder of the value of digital data

While it's possible that other players in the digital advertising ecosystem might be more willing than Facebook to apply digital phenotyping to marketing solutions – there is already a sizable and growing market for third-party data – one of the most important take-aways for pharma marketers in the rise of digital phenotyping is that digital data is extremely valuable and might prove even more valuable than previously thought.

Pharma marketers should keep this in mind as they develop homegrown digital initiatives.

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Practical Utility of E-learning Resources including Social Media in Medical Education by Felipe Templo from Philippine Heart Center


Felipe Templo, Jr.
Philippine Heart Center
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For Patients, Social Media Provides Perks and Perils

For Patients, Social Media Provides Perks and Perils | Social Media and Healthcare |

LAST YEAR, A DEAR friend received a cancer diagnosis and gave me a call. “Do you think I should put it on Facebook?” she asked. Her sister had suggested that by sharing updates about her planned surgery, she could efficiently keep people — friends, neighbors, cousins and selected colleagues — in the loop about her condition.

“Think before posting,” I advised. Social media does have its advantages for patients. “But once you post about your medical condition, you can’t take it back.” Besides, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. People will offer all kinds of advice.

Since I became a journalist in 2009, online resources for health have proliferated. Dozens of websites sponsored by government agencies, like the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or run by disease-oriented nonprofit organizations, offer vetted facts and definitions, research updates, statistics and news of clinical trials.

Through disease-specific Facebook pages and Twitter hashtags, it’s easier than ever to connect with peer patients and caregivers. In Facebook groups, members trade tips for coping with hematological conditions including sickle cell disease, multiple myeloma and low platelets.

Social media facilitates ties between patients that tend to grow over time and may even be life-saving.

For people living alone or in rural areas, web ties represent more than a source of health information; these connections foster camaraderie and, surprisingly often, true friendships emerge. In recent years, I’ve seen patients and advocates gather at medical conferences; as online acquaintances meet in real life and spend occasional days together, the sense of caring and trust — between patients and within their virtual communities — becomes genuine and stronger.

Some patients choose to follow expert physicians on Twitter; a trusted doctor or hospital may indeed be one of the more reliable sources of online information about health. Yet sometimes it’s patients who take the lead in distributing careful updates. Social media posts, such as about a new blood thinner or lymphoma drug, may prompt patients to ask better questions of their providers and, in that way, lead to better care.

Web connections do carry risks, however. On the internet, anecdotes abound. Individuals’ stories may disproportionately affect others’ treatment choices. When a patient reports doing well on a new drug or in a clinical trial or enters remission, their improvement can spark a feel-good moment in their network. Conversely, news of someone entering hospice or dying can reverberate with unexpected depth, stirring sadness.

Fake news about health spreads on social media, just as it does for other topics. Doctors disagree; what one clinician calls a terrific new drug might be deemed dangerous by a colleague. Yet by following conversations among physicians, ordinary people may gain a better sense of legitimate medical debates that previously took place behind closed doors. Now, those discussions about data and evidence are exposed for all to read. This kind of information can be both confusing and illuminating.

Consider the loss of privacy. A man with chronic leukemia, for instance, might post enthusiastically about finding a doctor he likes and responding to medication. A few years later, perhaps when looking for a new job or partner, he may regret his prior openness.

Telling “the world” of your illness can yield sympathy and connections, but it cannot be undone. Joanna Fawzy Morales is a Los Angeles attorney who co-founded the nonprofit patient advocacy organization Triage Cancer with her sister, Monica Fawzy Bryant. The siblings aim to raise awareness of patients’ legal rights, including privacy and workplace concerns. Last June, I heard Morales speak before hundreds of cancer survivors at a Cancer and Careers meeting in New York City.

“What you post online can affect others besides you,” Morales said. She shared the cautionary tale of a woman who posted on Facebook that her daughter had breast cancer. The daughter, in her 30s, wasn’t keen on publicizing her diagnosis. Other, less obvious sources of lost privacy include having your name listed in disease-related charity events or being tagged in fundraising photos.

In the end, my friend elected not to share her diagnosis on social media. “I’m glad I held back,” she told me later. “I value my privacy too much. If I want to tell people, I can let them know by phone or email.” It’s each patient’s decision. As with almost any medical intervention, there are benefits and risks to consider.

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5 Simple Ways to Go the Extra Mile for Patients

5 Simple Ways to Go the Extra Mile for Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

Everyone is guilty of getting caught up in the day-to-day grind, right? We have so much to do and so little time to do it.

Sometimes, successful marketing is just about going above and beyond and delivering a great customer service experience (especially in today’s age of online reviews that can make or break your practice). Sure, part of marketing is getting the patients in the door, but the other part is converting them into lifelong lovers of your practice.

With that said, we wanted to share 5 simple ways to go the extra mile for patients without creating a ton of work for you. They’ll love the office for it and you’ll look all the better to the guys in white coats that sign your checks.

1. Answer the Call on Social Media

Someone actively manages your social media accounts, right? When someone checks in on Facebook, respond to them immediately and say you’re glad to see them, and ask if there’s anything they need. An overwhelming amount of time they won’t need anything, but they’ll be extremely glad you responded and engaged with them.

That’s a story they’ll tell their friends, as silly as it may sound. If they do need something? Do what you can to get it, or find someone who can help. They’ll be forever grateful and, odds are, their request is small and reasonable.

2. Provide a Snack or Two

A little TLC goes a long way. We suggest randomly having coffee, donuts or other snacks in the waiting area. Nothing gets people excited like free food. It’s a great way to show your patients you care by giving them a little something extra.

Often, it will change someone’s day (and have them raving about your office). If you really want to impress them, hand out the food personally and take a moment to make them smile. Crazy, right?

3. Thank You Cards For the Win

A great way to make patients feel special is to send them a thank you card after a big surgery, and also a greeting card around the holidays (or, more realistically, have a giant pile of thank you cards and get the doctor to sign them). Then, just drop them in the mail as needed.

Your patients spend thousands of dollars with you; so, spending fifty cents and a few seconds to mail them a card is the least you can do…and they’ll love you and the doctor for sending out a personalized card just for them.

4. Create an Event When There Aren’t Any

Host events that allow patients to talk to doctors. There’s a doctor based in California that does a “Walk with a Doc” event every month. He and a few staff members meet up at a park to take a walk. Patients are welcome to join them, just to mingle and chat.

Think about how many doctors do that in your area? Go ahead and name one.

The dividends thinking outside the box like this can pay with both existing and prospective patients and their families is astounding.

5. Holiday Food Drives

There’s that “F” word again. A lot of people host food drives and support causes around holiday time, so why don’t you? Contact a local organization and put up a display so patients can donate as they walk in. At the end of the month, mention how much you raised and share the word on social media and in newsletters.

If you really want to get crazy, host a different drive each month and at the end of the year you can recap how much you raised and the impact it had in the community. Being more active in your community never hurts, and patients will love your office even more for the amount you give back.

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Why people post hospital photos on Facebook and social media.

Why people post hospital photos on Facebook and social media. | Social Media and Healthcare |

My Uber driver thinks I’m dying.

In his defence, he’s not exactly wrong. I sure look like I am not long for this world, but right now I can’t worry about the kind man in the front seat who keeps mounting the sidewalk every time he turns around to anxiously check on me.

I’m preoccupied with the fact that a set of flame-dipped fish hooks are working their way slowly down from the top left side of my face and through my head. All in a valiant quest to join the throbbing mass of painful knots that have signed a lease and taken up residence in the base of my skull.

I feel like I’ve been in this car for hours, crumpled up among the complimentary bottles of water, although in reality it’s only been about 10 minutes.

I attempt to pick out a landmark to give me an idea of how many more streets we need to wind down before we arrive at the hospital. But an intense, inky blackness has settled over my eyes, preventing me from starring out at the streets of Sydney which are happily bubbling away with the kind of frivolous energy that can only be found on a Friday night.

A few hours earlier, the world had seemed quite different.

I’d been seated at my messy desk at work when the intense pain that had been sitting behind my eyes for the last week began to intensify with the power of a thousand suns. Then the computer screen in front of my eyes began to blur and darken and crinkle just like an old-fashioned black and white TV with a faulty antenna.


After stumbling home and lying alone in my apartment for hours, becoming increasing disoriented from the pain, I headed to the emergency room and proceeded to scare the daylights out of my poor Uber driver. (In hindsight, yes, I probably should have called an ambulance instead of an Uber. But, where was “hindsight” when I was crawling down my staircase with a head full of angry bees and barley functioning eyesight? No where.)

Speaking of Ubers, where are you supposed to sit in one anyway? Even if you’re dying. Post continues… 

In the emergency room there are so many needles pushed into my arms that I forget to worry about my head being slowly ripped away from my neck by a pair of invisible hands. My veins have opted out of co-operating at this particular time, disappearing faster than an Instagram husband whose wife spots a pink wall.

Instead, little needles are inserted into my hands to draw out tiny amounts of blood, drop by stinging drop, until I begin to wonder if it would have been better to just die alone at home, surrounded by books and that fern I keep forgetting to water.

Then my bed is wheeled into a little curtain encrusted cubicle and the doctor is talking. I wait for him to tell me that there’s nothing wrong, that I overreacted by making my way to the ER and the only person in real danger here is my Uber driver, who’s now being treated for stress in the next bed over.

But he doesn’t say anything like that.

Instead, a jumble of fancy medical words quickly tumble out of his mouth and for the first time tonight it’s not the throbbing in my head that makes it hard to understand him. It’s the realisation that a simple round of painkillers is not going to fix this up.

Instead, phrases such as “possible bleeding on the brain” float out of his mouth and overtake the room as if they are lit up with neon lights, I’m wheeled off for more brain scans and I should be terrified, but all I can think about is how very cold I am. And  I am not a person who ever feels the cold.

I mean, I once backpacked though the wilds of Siberia clad in a only pair of silky Sportsgirl pants and I barley shivered. But that night my teeth chattered so loudly I was afraid it would wake the other patients.

"In the emergency room there are so many needles pushed into my arms that I forget to worry about my head being slowly ripped away from my neck by a pair of invisible hands." Source: Getty.

When you're sick, nobody tells you that the main way you'll spend your time is waiting. Waiting for doctors to come and test results to be released and for beds to become available.

I had pictured the ER to be a bustle of activity with teams of doctors having emotional arguments over my twitching body (I may have watched too much Grey's Anatomy...) but once the initial tests were done, the curtains were drawn around my cubicle and for the first time since I'd entered that hospital I was completely alone.

My eyes still felt like they had literal beer goggles draped over them, but I could make out just enough to take in my surroundings. There's a threadbare folded blanket at the end of my of my bed that once upon a time must have been white. Someone has scribbled with texta all along one side of the back wall, but I can't make out what the words say.

There's also a dark, swirling brown stain on the roof above my head. It looks like a million little particles of rust have all come together to form an otherworldly shape that looks somewhat like an inquisitive buffalo starring back down at me. Aside from that, I am alone.

My family are scattered about in another state and I doubt my wobbly voice could find the words to talk to them on the phone at 2am and let them know where I was, anyway. The only people I know in this city are my work colleagues, some of whom I have become fiercely close with, and yet my muddled brain cannot join the dots enough to get up off the bed and fish about in my bag for a phone that is almost out of battery to call someone to sit with me.

And so I wait. Alone. And the hours tick by.

The throbbing in my head begins to sound like a taunting, ticking clock that is counting down the seconds until the moment when the blackness that continues to dance in front of my eyes lasts a little too long and then there is nothing else ever again. I try to block out the rising fear in my chest by closing my pain-filled eyes and straining my ears to listen to what was going on around me.

Through the curtain on my left, I can hear the rasping cough of what sounds like an elderly woman. Each time her sputtering and hacking subsides I hear another voice, this one male but also elderly. He sounds so tired yet he keeps saying softly to her "all right, sweetheart?".

He says it over and over again, after each time she finishes gasping for breath. Their ongoing exchange falls into a sort of rhythm and find myself listening out for the softly spoken "sweetheart". Like the familiar words of a chorus in my favourite song.

To my right, the situation is a little more dramatic.

I can hear a woman around my age speaking rapidly to a doctor in Spanish, her voice broken up by the kind of heaving, heavy sobs that shake your entire body and make it almost impossible for tears to form in your eyes. There's a man with her who is trying to translate what she's saying to the doctor, but it's not going well.

She's been in Australia less than 24 hours, and while visiting this guy's home she started screaming in pain and vomiting up blood. Her body is failing her and she is unable to speak for herself or understand the words the doctors are speaking around her, and so her cries grow more and more hysterical.

I find myself desperately wanting to comfort her, but a blind girl creepily reaching her own shaking hand under our shared curtain in an act of solidarity would probably do more harm than good.

I begin to worry that I'm going to die here. All alone, in this small, dingy little corner of the hospital and suddenly I am desperate for someone to know where I am and what is happening to me.

Now, I've never said this out loud before, and I'm ashamed to even say it now, but I've always quietly judged people who post photos to social media of themselves or their family members in the emergency room.

Each time a self-captured image showing an IV needle taped to someone's arm showed up in my Instagram feed, I would cringe inwardly and think of it as a strange cry for attention given to such a personal moment.

And likewise, every time a friend or family member would post a photo of their sick or injured child lying in a hospital bed, I would bristle with indignation and more than a hint of judgement, because why were they choosing to showcase such a difficult experience instead of just surviving it?

"I begin to worry that I'm going to die here. All alone, in this small, dingy little corner of the hospital and suddenly I am desperate for someone to know where I am." Image via Getty.

Were they really checking Facebook comments and tallying photo likes instead of listening to the doctors and caring for their sick child But now I see why they did it. Because when you're in the ER, the immense feelings of loneliness and isolation can fill you with as much terror and fear as finding out exactly what is wrong with your body.

Knowing that the people in your life are thinking of you, fearing for you and yes, even sharing a sympathetic comment on your Facebook photo helps you make it through those never-ending until a doctor finally steps into your room.

My brain and eyes are much better now. And lets just say, I can see clearly now the judgement has gone.

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Healthcare und Social Media? – It’s a match!

Healthcare und Social Media? – It’s a match! | Social Media and Healthcare |

The healthcare industry is still largely in its infancy as far as social media communication is concerned. This is mainly due to the fear of a "not to be tamed" community and related to potential side effects. However, this fear is justified only if no clear processes are defined in advance - then you can also save social media directly.

Although pharmaceutical companies may need to consider a little more than other industries, social media communication is far from rocket science. Four simple steps can provide security when setting up a channel. Those who follow them can become a pioneer in their company.


At the beginning there is the question of the right channel. After all, social media is not just "short facebook". An own HCP blog or a DocCheck InSite are just as much part of the social media. The essential question is: where does the target group move and which medium best describes the content of the communication?

To find out, social listening can help. The behavior of the target group is analyzed in detail: Where does the target group move in the social web? What and how does she inform herself? Are there influencers in the appropriate area? Does she already use offers from the competition? This knowledge helps in the selection of the network and in the strategy we will discuss later.

antwerpes has a clear guide to getting started in social media communication.


Before developing a strategy, it is worthwhile to question what the company wants to achieve with the communication channel. Possible questions that you can ask yourself are: Should a website be supported and traffic directed to a website? Or reach with product-related content? Or to position a company with knowledge and current content in a particular area as a subject specialist?

Once the answers have been found, the strategy development follows. You should stick this in a guideline.


A guideline looks different from company to company and becomes exciting when it comes to content strategy. This is where the results of social listening come in - and of course a good dose of creativity. It defines content categories and formats, defines the user approach and design guidelines and, for example, develops initial contributions.

You have to do a balancing act: In the later content production, one would like to remain agile in order to optimize contributions on an ongoing basis - but the previously approved concept paper should also be complied with. This is made possible by the fact that the guideline provides a conceptual framework, but leaves enough freedom to respond to current issues with spontaneous posts, to be creative and to constantly improve content.

In addition to the content strategy, an advertising strategy should also be agreed, at least for the "classic" social media . Often it makes sense to divide these into different phases from the beginning.


The guideline also provides a way to define community management and PV processes. This is helpful in internal reasoning per social media. Because most of the events that emanate from the community can be estimated beforehand. Therefore, it is worthwhile to define: Who answers what on which user request? Flowcharts can be developed for first responses and subsequent reconciliation processes.

Even more important in preparing for community management is defining responsibilities for channel monitoring. The participants should be trained in pharmacovigilance and a 24-hour monitoring must be guaranteed, at least for pharmaceuticals on weekends.

Responsibilities and procedures in the matter of community management can be recorded in flowcharts.


With the right analysis of the target group and your goals, you will find the right network and the right strategy. Take the time to define them in a guideline and also to ensure the processes of community management and pharmacovigilance. Then social media is a plus that should not be given away.


This article is part 1 of the series "How to get social" by the antwerpes Social Media Lab ( ). As part of the Content & Relations unit, it focuses on social listening, content management, social media advertising, influencer relations and 24-hour monitoring of various channels.

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