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. 

Hupertan's curator insight, September 23, 2015 4:32 PM

The implementation of a communications strategy in social media in healthcare need not stick with the drafting of a check list. There she is!

venisabella's comment, November 4, 2015 10:36 AM
MARGARITA's curator insight, December 31, 2015 5:15 PM

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How Precision Medicine is Making Patient Engagement More Personal

How Precision Medicine is Making Patient Engagement More Personal | Social Media and Healthcare |

As we look ahead to 2017, developing patient-centered support and adherence programs becomes even more vital for pharmaceutical companies to stay competitive and improve outcomes.  Not to mention, successful adherence programs are good business in that they help maximize prescription revenue, for both new and refill prescriptions.

There are several factors contributing to a heightened focus on adherence — the boom of targeted therapies and the specialty drug market, and with the precision medicine model expected to continue to gain momentum in the coming months and years. As pharmaceutical companies continue to develop more individualized treatments, their engagement programs need to reflect that personalized approach.

Today’s most successful patient adherence programs and patient communications go beyond thinking solely in terms of the “patient.” They’re focused on supporting the well-being of the whole person. This means that programs to support precise therapies should be tailored yet adaptive.


Leveraging a More Detailed Patient Profile

Adherence programs which support specialty or targeted treatments are, by their very nature, tailored to particular patient profiles. Most companies have data on the likely patient demographics, as well as more details on anticipated side effects. This information is usually acquired during research trial phases of specialty drugs, and should be considered and applied to the development of adherence programs. For example, certain oncology treatments may be the second or third line of a staged treatment program, so that provides insight as to how this treatment fits into the patient’s entire healthcare journey. And knowing the likely side effects, especially those that change during the course of a treatment, can help guide nurse health coaches in their interactions day by day or week by week.


Being Flexible Goes a Long Way

At the same time, being adaptive to the needs of the patient differentiates your program. Especially in programs that accompany specialty treatments, nurse health coaches need to have some flexibility in their conversations, which means not always following a line-by-line script or the recommended campaign sequence. It also requires coaches to recognize the unique needs of the patient and those complicating factors that accompany more complex therapies — cost and insurance, self-administration, and so forth.

For the investment companies make in specialty treatments, taking a custom approach only multiplies your returns: Adherence rates are more likely to soar, patient outcomes can improve, and patients are often more satisfied with the program and have a more positive view of the treatment.

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Should Doctors And Patients Be Friends On Facebook ?

Should Doctors And Patients Be Friends On Facebook ? | Social Media and Healthcare |

The doctor-patient relationship can be a close one – but in this week’s Scrubbing Up column, Dr Naeem Nazem of the MDDUS asks – can that relationship be extended into social media? Whether you embrace it or not, the vast majority of people use social media as part of their everyday lives.

Recent figures show there are a staggering 24 million – and counting – active Facebook users in the UK, while one in four people (15 million) have Twitter accounts. There are undoubted benefits as social media offers a platform fordoctors to network effectively, share views and develop their own knowledge and expertise.

For patients engaging with social media, it can educate and raise awareness by giving them greater access to healthcare information. But if you would trust your doctor with your life, could you be their Facebook friend?


On the face of it, it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable question – or request. However, patients interacting with their doctors on social media may inadvertently create an uncomfortable and awkward situation. It also risks blurring the boundaries in the doctor-patient relationship which could impact on the quality of care they receive.

Patients should consider that doctors are bound by guidance from the General Medical Council which states that you should not mix social and professional relationships and that: “Social media can blur the boundaries between a doctor’s personal and professional life and may change the nature of the relationship between a doctor and a patient.”

The rise of social media has created some serious ethical challenges for doctors and their relationship with patients. Even with the proper privacy settings in place, anything posted online may end up being distributed further than intended. Doctors must keep their relationship with patients professional, or they risk becoming too close which can cloud their judgement and affect their objectivity and clinical decision makingWhile Facebook often gives an insight into a person’s private life, Twitter is more likely to be used in a professional manner, with many doctors discussing healthcare issues via a tweet of 140 characters or less. However, when tweeting, doctors should ensure patient confidentiality and only share information on Twitter that cannot be linked to an individual patient

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Pharma-to-physician social media and app marketing will soar by 2018: report

Pharma-to-physician social media and app marketing will soar by 2018: report | Social Media and Healthcare |

Pharma companies’ marketing communications to their target audience of healthcare providers are increasingly digital. That's not terribly surprising, considering the uptake in digital channels among physicians for professional use.

What is changing, however, is the way pharma reaches doctors, according to an annual report from from healthcare and pharma solutions provider Indegene. In 2016 in the U.S., brand promotional emails, healthcare provider portals and key opinion leader webinars are the top three ways pharma companies reach out. However, by 2018, KOL webinars, social media and mobile apps will top the list, with social media and mobile apps growing the fastest, by 50% and 27%, respectively.

The social media investment is already underway, which will power the expected usage jump, Urvi Mehta, strategic relationships manager at Indegene, told FiercePharma.

“Social media is a very powerful channel that can help in understanding the end consumers. It’s easy to make marketing decisions like segmentation, course of patient education, and influence adherence through listening and analysis of the social behavior,” she said.

While KOL webinar growth will be smaller at 8.8%, that channel was identified as the best return-on-investment generator by the more than 100 global pharma and life science companies that responded to the survey.

ROI, in fact, is an ongoing concern. Even among the rise in projected spending, seven out of 10 pharma companies noted that demonstrating ROI is the biggest barrier when implementing new communication strategies.

U.S. pharma companies are second globally in digital spending, with 31% of companies spending more than 20% of their budgets on digital. By 2018, Indegene expects that to increase to 40% of companies. China leads with 33% of its pharma companies spending more than 20% on digital, and that figure is expected to rise to 50% by 2018.

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Social Media & Healthcare

18th Dr. Elpidio Gamboa Memorial Lecture at the Philippine Society of Microbiology & infectious Diseases Annual Convention, 24 November 2016, Crowne Plaza Gall…
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Harnessing the power of social media for timely epidemic detection

Harnessing the power of social media for timely epidemic detection | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media has revolutionised the way people communicate. In a generation that is more likely to go online to answer general health questions, social media has the potential to be used for good – specifically, for early detection and monitoring of disease outbreaks, due to its wide reach and real-time updates.

Traditionally, disease surveillance relies on data obtained through formal reporting systems, which are accurate, but lack timeliness, when epidemics can so rapidly spiral out of control. For example, in the 2014 outbreak of Ebola, there was an exponential rise of cases between July and October, with each case effectively doubling in each generation.

Despite their decreased reliability, social media is so valuable because people living in the affected areas may create posts on social media, even while official health organisations are still reluctant to make announcements. Using the Ebola example again, by tracking key words such as “fever” and “infection” on social media, researchers were able to recognise the spread of Ebola into Guinea nine days before the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared it an emergency.

Social media a powerful tool that needs tweaking

The power of social media is that it is largely accessible even to people in developing countries. For instance, although many African nations are still developing, mobile phones are rather common, particularly in urban areas, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Social media-based surveillance is not meant as a replacement for traditional surveillance, but an enhancement to it that improves our capacity to detect outbreaks early.

However, such unofficial information is unstructured and not created for public health purposes. Algorithms designed to pick up “fever”, for instance, may detect false positives such as “Bieber fever”. Hence, better ways of sifting through data have to be created before the full potential of social media monitoring can be harnessed.

In the meantime, a more effective approach could be to get users to send reports/surveys directly to public health authorities. Here are some of the social media tools that can help track disease outbreaks.

1. HealthMap

Created in 2006 and facilitated by a team at Boston Children's Hospital, it utilises online informal sources like the WHO for disease outbreak monitoring and real-time surveillance of emerging public health threats. The freely available Web site '' and mobile app 'Outbreaks Near Me' deliver real-time intelligence, in nine languages, on a broad range of emerging infectious diseases for a diverse audience including libraries, local health departments, governments, and international travellers.

2. MediSys

MedISys is an internet monitoring and analysis system that provides event-based surveillance of the Internet to rapidly identify potential threats to public health and warn users with automatically generated alerts. It displays only news articles with interest to Public Health, grouped by disease or disease type. Information processed by Medisys is derived from the Europe Media Monitor (EMM), developed by the JRC.

3. ProMED-mail

ProMED - the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases - is an Internet-based reporting system dedicated to rapid global dissemination of information on outbreaks of infectious diseases and acute exposures to toxins that affect human health. Sources of information include media reports, official reports, online summaries, local observers, and others, with contributions by ProMED subscribers, who then receive information by email or posts on the website. A team of expert moderators screens and investigates reports before posting to the network.

4. Flutracker

Flutracker is an online forum-based website dedicated to the public health of the world by informing, educating, developing and maintaining integrated programmes. Information is collected, posted and translated into multiple languages by forum users, and moderated by the Flutracker moderator team.

5. Epicore

EpiCore is a secure online reporting platform and surveillance system that links a worldwide member network of health experts, enabling faster global outbreak detection. It is a partnership between the Skoll Global Threats Funds, HealthMap, ProMED-mail of the International Society for Infectious Diseases, and TEPHINET. MIMS

Read more:
Dr Wikipedia: The rise of websites as sources of information for doctors
Taking Zika as an example: What's the next disease pandemic?
Embarrassing things that you should never post about your patients on social media


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RSNA 2016: Tweet, tweet: Doctors can’t ignore growing influence of social media

RSNA 2016: Tweet, tweet: Doctors can’t ignore growing influence of social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

The opening message of Monday’s RSNA conference was simple, yet clear: Social media isn’t a trend. Patients rely on the platform to gather information and make decisions, so their physicians should be knowledgeable on how to use it.

A session titled, “Tweet This: How to Make Radiology More Patient Centered,” offered participants the opportunity to learn the best ways to engage with patients on the most popular social media platforms. According to presenter Whitney Fishman Zember, managing partner of innovation and consumer technology at the advertising agency MEC, Facebook is a network designed to cement personal ties, while Twitter is a network designed for sharing and receiving information and ideas.

She used a pop culture to make her point.

“How many people here are friends with Kim Kardashian?” Zember asked. “No one? I didn’t think so. You wouldn’t friend her on Facebook because you don’t know her personally. You can follow her on Twitter to receive information on what she’s up to. That’s the difference.”

After making that distinction clear, Zember drove home why social media is so important to the patient population.

“People with chronic illnesses are the most avid users of social media,” Zember said. “They dialogue with others who suffer from the same condition. Social media is also a natural extension of using the internet to look up symptoms.”

Physicians should recognize this usage and work to provide clear and concise explanations and responses to patient who voice questions and concerns over social media, Zember said.

While it’s important for physicians to recognize the patient perspective, it’s equally important for physicians to understand how social media can impact their practice. Elliot K. Fishman, MD, professor of radiology, oncology, surgery and urology at Johns Hopkins Hospital, spoke about the five ways social media determines a physician’s success.

Communication between the radiologist and patient is important, as Zember mentioned, but social media can also help connect radiologist to referring physicians, other radiologists, trainees and potential recruits.

“Social media and the web give radiologists and the radiology profession the chance to rebrand ourselves and our role in the current health care climate,” Fishman said. “We have the opportunity to connect with others and remind the field of our importance.”

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5 Valuable Networking Tips for Healthcare Professionals

5 Valuable Networking Tips for Healthcare Professionals | Social Media and Healthcare |
Networking has become a buzzword among entrepreneurs and business people, and the importance of networking – as cliché as it may sound - is not only applicable for those who belong in the business and entrepreneurship domain. Individuals from other professional backgrounds, including health and medicine, would benefit extensively from networking as well.

Networking provides a platform for like-minded people to share and exchange ideas. In fact, as a healthcare professional, the opportunity to meet the different individuals from networking events that you attend can have a significant impact in your career. [1] If you are new to this, here are five tips to help you get started at networking:

1. Focus on quality, not quantityThe key in networking does not lie in the number of business cards you accumulate at events and conferences that you attend. What makes your network a successful, effective one is the genuine connections that you make and how you combine your network, resources, ideas and people to achieve something. This is the idea behind the concept which is called “connectional intelligence”, a term proposed by Erica Dhawan, the co-author of Get Big Things Done. [2]

2. Gain from others, but give back as wellThe advantage of networking does not solely rely on the knowledge and benefit that you gain from others in your network. Networking is also about your contribution to others. Your active involvement and the input that you offer to your connections would not only make you a valuable part of the network, but can also pique the interest of genuine connections to engage in productive exchanges with you in the long run.

3. Take advantage of both face-to-face and online networkOnline networking is a great way to broaden your network globally, but you should not disregard the benefits of networking with healthcare professionals who are based locally. Clearly, face-to-face communication plays an important role in order to build a long-term collaboration. Drawing the line between social and professional networking on the World Wide Web can be tricky, so if you choose to extend your networking by going online, do remember choose the right platform. LinkedIn, for instance, is a good place to start and is currently used by professionals from all backgrounds all over the world.[3]You can also find websites that are specifically targeted for healthcare professionals.[4]

4. Initiate contact and follow-upBeing proactive is part of the reason that makes a network successful and effective. Instead of waiting for others to reach out to you with an invitation, make an attempt to initiate the contact instead. Find opportunities to participate in events and occasions where you can meet with different people. Also, do your best to keep in touch with people that you meet and follow-up with them.

5. Value informal opportunitiesHealthcare conferences, seminars and other formal occasions are not the only means to meet significant people in your field. Informal gatherings (reunions, get-togethers, etc.) can be a great way to get to know people as well. Such events may turn out to be the platform that connects you to other healthcare professionals through the people you know, whether they be family or friends. Therefore, you should not underestimate these events as an opportunity for you to get acquainted with people who can potentially be meaningful connections in the future. MIMS

Read more:
7 qualities that doctors can learn from business leaders
Healthcare professionals: What you should know about shared decision-making
5 important tips for young doctors
Doctor-Patient relationship in the era of social media

[1] Baptiste, Patrice. “Why Doctors Should Go to Networking Events (Regardless of the Theme!)”. Medic Footprints. 16 Dec 2015. Web. 27 Oct 2016.
[2] Hall, Alena. “Why Quality Over Quantity Is The Key To Productive Networking.” The Huffington Post. 25 Feb 2015. Web. 27 Oct 2015.
[3] LinkedIn.
[4]Alison, Diana. “Healthcare Social Networks: New Choices For Doctors and Patients.” Information Week. 29 Apr 2014. Web. 27 Oct 2016.

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41% of Patients say Social Media affects Hospital Choice Infographic

41% of Patients say Social Media affects Hospital Choice Infographic | Social Media and Healthcare |
Every week we collect all the healthcare social media scoops from the last 7 days and package it in a nice beautiful email Dont mis
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Healthcare Marketing To The Undiagnosed And Those With Rare Diseases

Healthcare Marketing To The Undiagnosed And Those With Rare Diseases | Social Media and Healthcare |

Tips to make engagement programs more specific and effective 

The same can also be said about designing marketing communications that speak to these patients; this community presents with a unique set of characteristics that do not fall within easily definable patient categories.

What is the rare disease/undiagnosed community?

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InIdividuals with undiagnosed diseases are those who struggle to find an underlying diagnosis for a chronic condition. Genetic, inflammatory, autoimmune, and autonomic conditions are prevalent causes for a number of these conditions. When creating a program to educate, attract, or retain a rare or undiagnosed patient, it’s important to consider the characteristics that these individuals share:

  • According to Global Genes, the emotional toll is overwhelming. In addition to depression, anxiety, and isolation from family and friends, there is a mix of frustration at not having an answer, medical fatigue, and fear that a) the diagnosis is so rare or severe that it doesn’t have a name and b) doctors will judge their mental health rather than their physical symptoms. 
  • The community has a strong appetite for information, and they are technologically savvy about how to research their symptoms.
    • Action: Conduct research to know what these groups have at their fingertips online. Stay current and join a few groups to observe the trends in topics and communication.
  • Despite the isolation from family and friends, undiagnosed and rare populations continue to connect to others through online forums and social media, where there is a high level of participation in online communities and support groups. 
    • Action: Acknowledge their participation in social and online communities and reinforce the need to prioritize credible, fact-based information over the glut of subjective opinions.

Locating the defined touch points

Social media and online boards are some of the best means of connecting with rare disease and undiagnosed communities. Establishing a valued presence by publishing informative resources can even lead to the development of an opt-in email database for targeted communications tailored to their interests. An engaging and competent online presence is critical:

  • Provide quality information and make it understandable. Members here want to know about their condition, symptoms, and issues. Although many in these communities have experience seeking healthcare, much of the relevant research is complex and difficult to digest. 
  • Consider designing communications and categories based on constellations of common symptoms, rather than typically-identifiable disease categories. Tie these communications to educational resources that may point an undiagnosed patient toward an accurate diagnosis, or at least a better understanding of what may be causing their chronic symptoms.
  • Provide support, validation, and empathy. Although passionate and determined, this is also a population that has often become frustrated by a confusing illness and the healthcare system. Many are looking for someone to listen to and understand them.
  • Tailor subjects to meet their needs. According to an analysis of web inquiries to The Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center (GARD) during 2006 and 2011, individuals sought the following information:
    • Information about treatment (47.0% and 33.3%)
    • Disease prognosis (17.4% and 11.8%)
    • Requests for specialists (14.8% and 11.8%)
    • Information related to undiagnosed symptoms (11.9% and 16.2%) 
    • “Inquirers were significantly more likely to ask about clinical research studies in 2011 than in 2006” (11.4% vs 2.9%)
    • Basic disease Information (62.8% and 75.0%

A long-term relationship

When working with the rare disease and undiagnosed communities, it’s imperative to create effective categories for targeted communications, offer information that includes educational resources and support groups, and develop a human connection – a fact that often becomes lost in the jumble of CRM data. 

A strong program that provides answers, support and recognition of an undiagnosed condition can help members of this community continue their care and possibly find some of the crucial answers they are looking for.

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Social media prioritised in healthcare marketing, study says

Social media prioritised in healthcare marketing, study says | Social Media and Healthcare |

The research consisted of 730 senior marketers across the UK, US and Australia and included 70 brand marketers working in the healthcare sector.

The majority (80%) of marketers now prioritise social media in their launch marketing plans with TV advertising being considered by only 24%. This is in line with the wider marketing industry, where 74% of marketers now prioritise social media.

Email ranked second within healthcare among the most important channels. 63% of marketers cited it whilst 57% regarded sales promotion. Direct mail came fourth with 50%, while PR made up the top five with 41%.

The research indicated that traditional advertising such as press advertising, experiential and digital display are no longer attracting attention when it comes to building awareness for new products and services.

According to the study, the use of social media may correlate with the time it takes for a product to launch, which has shrunk over the past five years.  58% of participants said that they usually only have six months or less to prepare for a product launch.

In addition, 60% said they use social media to support their new product development whilst 51% said they believe the biggest benefit of social media channels lies in generating awareness prior to the product being launched.

Martin Flavin, creative director at Five by Five, comments: “Social media has become the most important way to generate buzz for new products and services before they appear. Shareable content and social engagement allow brands to create a groundswell of pre-launch interest in a way no other channel can match.”

The study also asked marketers how they feel launch marketing has changed over the past five years. The majority (73%) said they now think launches cost more and 86% said they believe that they are now able to make better-informed decisions about their product launches.

Meanwhile, 77% of marketers in the healthcare sector think the creative ideas around product launches have become braver over the past five years. While nine out of ten (91%) believe launch campaigns are now more measurable.

Michelle Mitchell, strategy director at Five by Five, said: “Deadlines have got tighter, and costs have risen – but marketers now are more informed about their product launches than ever. This increased knowledge means that campaigns are braver, smoother and more effective.”

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"MediXcel helps you to focus on your patient and provide high quality sevices that Attract the consumers."

"MediXcel helps you to focus on your patient and provide high quality sevices that Attract the consumers." | Social Media and Healthcare |
"In todays customer centerd world,patients mean business. And we provide the product that fulfills all the customer's need.Medixcel is the Healthcare software for the chains of clinic,Diagnostic chains and Managed Care groups."
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Brace for more drug ads: Facebook's bidding for pharma cash

Brace for more drug ads: Facebook's bidding for pharma cash | Social Media and Healthcare |

Facebook wants a much bigger cut of the billions that pharma companies spend every year on advertising.

And that means you’re soon likely to see more drug ads — both overt and stealthy — on social media.

The in-your-face variety will likely look like the mobile Facebook ad just launched by Bayer. All the small print warning of a drug’s possible side effects flits by in an automated scroll, technology that Facebook is using for the first time for the pharma industry.

To make promotion on Facebook even more pharma-friendly, Facebook is also letting drug makers turn off comments on the pages used to promote specific products. That’s a huge issue for the pharmaceutical industry, which could get in hot water with regulators if it failed to report unverified aches and pains posted by patients in Facebook comments as “adverse events” that could result from taking the drug.

Finally, the social media giant is working to build up “community pages” that bring together users who all share a particular medical condition. Those pages can be sponsored by drug makers — who just so happen to market a medicine to treat that condition.

All these new features could send pharma spending on social media skyrocketing.

Lawmaker seeks moratorium on consumer drug ads

“Pharma is as anxious to use social media as social media is to sell it to them,” said Bob Ehrlich, CEO of the consulting firm DTC Perspectives.

The industry spent $5.2 billion on drug ads last year — and that doesn’t even include digital advertising, which is harder to measure but estimated in the low hundreds of millions annually.

Drug makers have long been able to run regular ads that show up in Facebook’s news feed or in the right column on a desktop screen. But they haven’t spent much on the site, in part because of deep uncertainty about what federal regulators would allow. (The Food and Drug Administration issued draft guidance in 2014 but has not laid out firm, clear rules.)

Social media in general has been a quagmire for pharma companies. Questions abound: For instance, could a company get in trouble with regulators if patients used Facebook comments to advise one another to try a particular drug for a purpose not approved by the FDA?

Regulators have also cracked down on drug ads that don’t include side effects. When Kim Kardashian, a spokesperson for Duchesnay Inc., posted a selfie on Instagram touting a morning sickness drug, the FDA noted it didn’t include the required list of side effects — and required her to put up a follow-up Instagram post with all the fine print.

Despite such pitfalls, social media is a tempting target for ads. Drug makers, like all advertisers, can specifically target certain demographics and interest groups in Facebook’s pool of 1.7 billion monthly users.

Drug makers now spend $5 billion a year on advertising. Here’s what that buys.

To encourage pharma companies to venture into social media despite such fears, Facebook created a new team a year ago specifically to work with them.

“This was borne out of tons of interest we were getting from pharmaceutical advertisers to figure out Facebook,” said Danielle Salowski, industry manager for Facebook’s health team.

After months of keeping quiet, Facebook’s now ready to trumpet its new push. At an industry conference last week, it announced its first big achievement: Bayer’s Facebook ad, a spot launched several weeks ago that only appears on mobile phones.

Promoting an auto-injector for a multiple sclerosis medication, the ad plays like a video, automatically scrolling through a litany of possible side effects, such as liver failure, serious allergic reactions, and depression or suicidal thoughts. (John Mack, who publishes the digital newsletter Pharma Marketing News, noted that this is not a new idea; pharma marketers have “been able to do that using plain old banner ads on websites for many years,” he said.)

Another new feature allows Facebook users who see the ad to call a nurse hotline with one click.

“We recognized a targeted, innovative opportunity to reach the community with information that was potentially relevant to them,” Bayer spokeswoman Rose Talarico said. She called Facebook “an excellent partner.”

Facebook’s also trying to nudge drug makers to do more with “unbranded” community pages, intended as a place for patients to discuss living with a disease or health condition. “Save Your Breath,” for instance, brings together people with conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It’s sponsored by AstraZeneca, which sells many drugs targeting respiratory conditions. There’s also “Quitters Circle,” a page for smoker cosponsored by Pfizer, which sells the smoking cessation pill Chantix.

Drug marketers have created unbranded community pages like these in the past, but Facebook is now helping them do paid promotions around these groups, Salowski said.

So will Facebook’s big push to woo pharma work? Mack isn’t convinced.

“Facebook has for a long time been trying to get pharma to spend more money on advertising on Facebook,” he said.

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The future of Social Media in Global Health 3.0 - #HISI2016 #hcsm #hcsmSA

A combined workshop session between South African e-Patient and founder of #hcsmSA, Vanessa Carter and Dr. Jamie Saris from Maynooth University, Ireland (Anthr…
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4 big benefits of Social Media for Optometrists

4 big benefits of Social Media for Optometrists | Social Media and Healthcare |

We spend a lot of time sharing social media tips and strategies for eyecare practices, but many of you may be wondering why your practice should be spending any time on social media in the first place. So today we want to talk about four of the biggest benefits your practice will get from maintaining a strong and consistent social media presence. Because it’s not always just about promoting your practice.

What Benefits is Your Optical Practice Getting from Social Media?Professional Networking

While most of this article will talk about ways your practice benefits as a whole from a strong social media presence, building your personal and professional brand has its benefits as well. Social media can be a great place to build your professional network, find new career opportunities, and share second opinions on patient cases. A recent survey evaluated the top ways physicians use social media for professional networking:

  • 46% Get/give second opinions
  • 41% Casual talk
  • 37% Practice management advice
  • 32% View/send medical images
  • 14% Search for a job
  • 11% Refer paitents to peers
Practice Marketing

Using social media to market your practice is probably the reason you signed on to social media in the first place. Social media provides a great opportunity to reach a wide audience, at a good price. On a pretty cheap budget you can promote your page and posts to very defined target audiences. Building a strong online community will help boost your web traffic, search engine ranking, and credibility among your followers.

Patient Education

In today’s healthcare world many patients turn to the internet to get information about their symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments. Social media gives you the opportunity to provide important patient education materials to provide richer customer experiences. The more helpful information you can provide your patients the more engagement and trust you’ll build with your followers. In another survey, U.S. patients said they would check their doctors’ social media feeds daily or weekly if their doctor was posting regularly. And, here’s what patients would like to see the most:

  • 20% Healthy lifestyle tips
  • 19% How-to posts
  • 19% Trending health news commentary
  • 18% Resources
  • 16% Links to health studies/articles
  • 8% Practice updates
Research and Discovery

The world of healthcare is always changing, and social media is a great place to keep up with the latest trends and changes. Social media allows you to spark up conversations and perform research and discovery to stay up to date with what your current and future patients are looking for and expecting from your practice. Checking in daily with your social media pages will keep you on top of your game.

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Engaging with Patients Online: The do’s and don’t’s, and what’s to gain

These slides were presented at the the Annual Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP)…
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How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar for a Year

How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar for a Year | Social Media and Healthcare |

Want to deliver quality social media content for the next year?

Interested in planning your social posts in advance?

A content calendar helps you deliver the right message to your audience at the right time.

In this article, you’ll discover how to plan a year’s worth of social media posts and content.

How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar for a Year by Leonard Kim on Social Media Examiner.


#1: Create a Spreadsheet

The first step in creating a content calendar is to set everything up in a spreadsheet. You can do this with Excel or Google Sheets.

On the top line of the sheet, fill in the days of the week.

Add the days of the week to the top row of your content calendar.

Next, add a line for each week of the year to separate your content by weeks. The left half of your calendar will look something like this:

Add a row for each week of your content calendar.

Fill out your calendar for the entire year. After you add the days and weeks, you may want to apply color so you can more easily distinguish the sections.

#2: Add Events and Holidays

The next step is to do a Google search to find out what events are happening in your industry so you can add them to your calendar.

If you work in fashion, for example, look up the major events that happen throughout the entire year, such as the tradeshow Magic or Fashion Week.

If you work in healthcare, identify all of the awareness days, weeks, and months. In healthcare, there are dozens of these lists available.

Search for industry events you can incorporate into your content calendar.

In your empty calendar template, enter the events into the particular days, weeks, or months when they’ll happen. This way, you can plan your content according to when those events occur.

Your content calendar will begin to look like this:

Add events and holidays to your content calendar.

Next, add national holidays like the Fourth of July, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and so forth. You can see Thanksgiving is mentioned on line 333 in the image above.

Think outside the box, too. Do your business or social pages have a tie-in with other industries? For example, in healthcare, voice treatments can relate to music, and orthopedics can relate to sports. Find other events that are going on, such as the World Series or the beginning of basketball season, and add them to your calendar.

#3: Identify Content Themes

Now you’re ready to start brainstorming content themes. Take into consideration what your audience wants to see, how you can educate or entertain them, and whatproducts and services you want to promote.

Also identify what your business’s internal priorities are. If you’re a fashion line, your primary priority is to sell clothing. If you’re a musician, your primary goal is to sell albums or book shows. Start thinking about how you can incorporate your business priorities into your content.

Once you’ve compiled a list of themes, assign two themes to each day of the week on your content calendar. I recommend a 60/40 or 80/20 split between educating and entertaining, and promoting your business, products, and services. You don’t want to promote your offerings all of the time or people will lose interest and stop visiting your page. Here’s what the themes might look like on your content calendar.

Note themes for each day of the week on your content calendar.

#4: Generate Topics for Each Theme

Once you have your themes in place, you need to generate topics for them.

It’s important that you produce the types of content that your target audience is looking for. To find out what people are interested in, use a tool like BuzzSumo to research the content that other people are sharing.

For example, suppose your Monday theme is food. If you search for “food” in the paid version of BuzzSumo, you can see a list of the most shared headlines in the timeframe of your choosing.

BuzzSumo can help you find out what type of content your audience is interested in.

Use these insights to inform the headlines and introductions for your content. Remember to put your own spin on the content you create; don’t plagiarize.

Now tie your topics into your calendar of events. If you’re in healthcare and basketball season is starting, your topics might relate to common injuries that basketball players face. If you’re in the fashion industry and Fashion Week is coming up, start showcasing your new inventory and do previews of what’s in store during that event.

When you add topics to your content calendar, break down your primary topic and secondary topic on a weekly basis.

Add topics to your content calendar.

Sticking to a theme for the week helps you break your calendar into bite-sized chunks. For the topic “food,” for example, you can showcase foods that help improve skin health.

You want to tie your content into a theme that your audience can relate to, as opposed to randomly generating content that may not be appropriate for the season. For example, an article about how much water you need to drink is probably more interesting to people in summer months than during the winter.

#5: Detail Individual Posts

Do your social media accounts focus on images? Video? Writing? Figure out how toincorporate all of your main content types into your calendar.

If articles drive your account, for example, have some ready to go, Monday through Friday, that relate to both your primary and secondary themes.

Quote cards are an easy way to cover your main weekly topic of focus. In healthcare, for example, you could cover health facts or share health tips. A tool like Canva makes it easy to create quote cards and images.

Quote cards are a great way to cover your main topics each week.

Now start filling your calendar with the content you want to create. Eventually, it will look something like this.

Plan out your content to publish throughout the calendar year.

It doesn’t really matter if you post once a day or 10 times a day. What matters is to make sure you can maintain the volume of content for your calendar. If you work at a large company and have a lot of resources dedicated to content creation, publish as much as you can. If you work at a small company or by yourself, try to publish at least two pieces of content each day.

Be sure to maintain consistency in the volume of content you publish.


Doing an entire year of content planning up front allows you to focus on creating and delivering quality content every week. Try to stay a few weeks ahead in your content creation because it’s easy to fall behind when you’re posting something new every day.

As your audience grows more familiar with your content and your business, they’ll start expecting to see posts at certain times. Keep to your schedule and post your content at the same time each day. You can use tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to do this, and as an added bonus, they’ll post on multiple platforms for you.

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Online Reviews: 7 Stunning Statistics — and What They Mean for Aesthetic Practices

Online Reviews: 7 Stunning Statistics — and What They Mean for Aesthetic Practices | Social Media and Healthcare |

The review genie is not going back in the bottle. In fact, with more people putting more trust in online reviews, and more reviews showing up in more places, that bottle’s been shattered for good. As a just-released survey from BrightLocal notes, just 5% of consumers said they don’t pay attention to reviews when researching local businesses.

In other words, the other 95% do, and as the rest of the survey clearly shows, any business that hopes to reach those consumers should pay attention, too. Here are seven reasons why:

84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation

Doctor Takeaway: For many patients, the thoughts of other internet users, anonymous or otherwise, play an outsize role in their healthcare decisions. The numbers take on added significance in aesthetics because of a related disconnect in such decisions: While 78% of doctors surveyed think that referrals are their #1 source of new patients, 34% of aesthetic patients ranked referrals dead last. (And, let’s face it, even those atypical personal referrals are going to turn to the web for confirmation.)

63% of consumers use a search engine to find online reviews

Doctor Takeaway: Google just about any product or service these days and you’ll find review sites in the results. In fact, links to third-party review sites now also appear in Google’s Knowledge Graph. (Hey, if Google thinks reviews are worth highlighting, you should, too.) Have them on your website, in your Google My Business listing, and on your page on review sites that have the SEO juice to show up in search results.

90% of consumers read 10 reviews or less before they feel that they can trust a business, with 68% forming an opinion after reading just one to six

Doctor Takeaway: Consumers are forming their opinions of businesses faster than ever. No doubt, they read more reviews for big-ticket, emotion-laden purchases, but consider the impact if one of those six is negative. If that’s the case, monitoring your reviews and encouraging new ones will help push it further down the list.

58% of consumers pay the most attention to overall star rating

Doctor Takeaway: That’s not surprising, really; star ratings are ubiquitous, familiar, and provide a shorthand for customer satisfaction. But they’re really just the beginning. According to the report, the sentiment in reviews was the second most important factor at 47%, followed by recency, at 41% — another reason to keep ‘em coming.

54% of people will visit a business’ website after reading positive reviews (vs. 48% in 2015)

Doctor Takeaway: Reviews facilitate discovery — they let potential patients know you exist. If that experience is favorable, it’s only natural that most will visit your website to learn more. From layout to text to images, it should reward their curiosity (and respect their time) by clearly demonstrating what you do, who you are, and what differentiates you from the competition.

87% of people say that a business needs a rating of 3-5 stars before they will use them

Doctor Takeaway: Good reviews are obviously a good thing, but don’t get seduced by the pursuit of perfect scores. The fact is that people know no one is perfect, and they’re highly skeptical of those who profess to be. Just as showing a range of outcomes in your before & after photos enhances credibility, a mix of good, believable reviews trumps a parade of impossibly perfect ones.

74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more

Doctor Takeaway: Kind of speaks for itself.

From more reviews showing up in more places to more people visiting business’ websites after reading them, the link between online reviews and your real-life reputation is undeniable. Reviews serve as social proof of your expertise and authenticity, helping patients make more informed decisions and with greater confidence than ever.

As Sherry Bonelli, BrightLocal’s local search evangelist, puts it:

A great reputation is one of the most powerful assets a business has. Online reviews are social proof that can help influence customers as they decide whether or not to choose your business — or spend their money with one of your competitors. Searching for and reading a business’ online reviews has become part of a customer’s buying process — whether they’re ordering a book or movie on Amazon or trying to find the best cosmetic dentist in their local area.

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Social Media: Blessing or Curse?

Social Media: Blessing or Curse? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social Media in the “Real” World Social media is all around us, and enables real-time communication with patients, families and with colleagues. There are general social networks (Facebook), professional networks (LinkedIn), blogs (WordPress), microblogs (Tumblr) and media sharing sites for photos, videos and podcasts. The Wall Street fortunes of these companies may wax and wane along with usage, but as health professionals we need to be aware of their benefits, costs and risks.


Do we stop to think how we are using social media? Social media can be cathartic (letting off steam), therapeutic (making sense of experiences), a last resort (e.g. complaints), just routine (Image 1), or “discouragingly daunting” (Widmer and Larsen 2016). Social media can be disinhibiting (think before you post), and true anonymity is virtually impossible to guarantee. Health professionals who might think twice when contacted by a newspaper reporter, for example, may be less inhibited when commenting on social media (media vs social media).


The social media landscape is summarized in Figure 1. It can be a bonus or curse both to patients and to health professionals.


Social Media Guidance

Many professional organisations have guidelines for their members on social media use. For example, the UK Nursing and Midwifery Council’s social media guidance, a supplement to its professional standards, covers the need to use social media and social networking sites responsibly (Nursing and Midwifery Council 2015). For doctors, the General Medical Council (UK) issued Doctors’ use of social media in 2013. The UK National Health Service (NHS) Employers organisations advocates a liberal approach:

The NHS Employers organisation firmly believes in a permissive approach to using social media in the NHS. Individual staff should be permitted and enabled to use social media for work. Only a permissive approach will unlock the innovations within the vibrant creative spaces found on social media sites (NHS Employers 2014)


Professional guidance is also supplemented by local organisational policies. These can be quite detailed, e.g. Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust’s social media policy and guidance (Salisbury NHS Trust 2015) (sample: “Do not post, upload, forward or post a link to chain mail, junk mail, cartoons, jokes or gossip”). Clinical departmental social media use needs to have full consideration and commitment. For example, East Cheshire NHS Trusts asks that departments wanting to set up a social media site explain how they will manage the risks as well as outline the benefits (East Cheshire NHS Trust 2015).


Patients and Families


Social media use amongst patients and families ranges from routine communication, for example by patients during their ICU stay through to peer-to-peer support. The UK intensive care patient support charity ICUsteps has a peer-to-peer online community with more than 860 members on HealthUnlocked, which is a social network for health (healthunlocked. com/icusteps) (Image 2).


One writer even live-tweeted his mother’s death in an ICU, with his tweets reflecting on the medical care taking place as well as his relationship with his mother (O’Rourke 2015). Social media can also be used for crowdfunding, with many examples on popular websites such as and



Social media can be educational, and the Free Open Access Medical (FOAM) education movement ( has grown immensely, offering excellent resources for continuing professional development. It includes FOAMcc (FOAM critical care), #FOANed (free open access nursing education) and #FOAMrn (FOAM nursing). For health professionals there are also peer support groups and closed sites that offer crowdsourced answers to clinical problems. Caution must be exercised, however, with the quality of information disseminated. Carroll and colleagues note that ego may outweigh talent: “well-informed participants with important ideas must be strong self-promoters or risk their voices going unheard” (Carroll et al. 2016).


The UK Nursing and Midwifery Council explains the benefits for building professional relationships, accessing support networks and discussing issues with fellow professionals around the world (Nursing and Midwifery Council 2015). The Royal College of Nursing (UK) offers advice on using social media to revalidate, for example by participating in Twitter chats (Royal College of Nursing 2016).


Evidence Dissemination


Social media enables rapid dissemination of evidence, both from scientific meetings and from peer-reviewed journals. This rapid dissemination has a different sort of impact to thorough reading of the literature. It allows harder-hitting recommendations (Young et al. 2013), and permits dissemination of the paper plus “the story”, e.g. 10 reasons to…However, there is a danger of premature dissemination without an accompanying ‘cautionary editorial’.


The growth in tweeting at conferences and in educational use has been analysed in the literature (a list is provided on Symplur symplur. com/healthcare-social-media-research). Even if you cannot attend a meeting or sessions are not streamed, it is possible to participate in social media discussions remotely (Widmer and Larson 2016). Attai and colleagues (2016) suggest that “medical conference organizers should encourage Twitter participation and should be educating attendees on the proper use of Twitter.” Many large meetings have large screens showing the congress Twitter feed, as delegates and remote participants use the hashtag to comment, tweet and re-tweet (Stiegler 016).




So is social media a blessing or a curse? It is neither. It is a change that has to inform our practice. Healthcare organisations need policies in place so that staff know how to respond, and have the time commitment needed if necessary. Health professionals need to accept and plan for social media usage, collaborate, set boundaries and devise protocols for its use, and above all make it work for them.

Recommended Resources



NHS Employers Social Media resources (includes guide for HR, running social media campaigns, best practice in social media measurement and evaluation, guide for chief executives)

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Social Media for Health Promotion & Education

6th Association of Philippine Medical Colleges – Student Network Luzon Regional Convention Healthcare Social Media Summit Virgen Milagrosa University Foundatio…
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Fake news is also a problem for the medical community

Fake news is also a problem for the medical community | Social Media and Healthcare |

The problems related to fake news and the viral spread of information online are as urgent in medicine as they are in politics, according to Robert Glatter, M.D.

Glatter warns in a column for Forbes that even a poorly crafted headline on a legitimate story can cause trouble, since many people fail to read beyond the headline of a viral story that shows up in their social media feeds. With fake or overstated medical news, the stakes can be very high.

“Such fake news—particularly if related to a communicable disease—may have negative effects on patients’ emotional and physical well being, and could even lead to suicidal ideation or suicide,” says Glatter.

While concerned physicians like Glatter emphasize the importance of reputable news sources relying on well-sourced, verifiable information, more and more patients turn to social media and other online resources of varying quality for medical advice.

In an interview with News-Medical.Net, Andrew Boyden of NPS MedicineWise in Australia cited a study of pregnant women seeking healthcare information from parenting groups on Facebook in which nearly one in five responses was inaccurate. The authors classified 2% of the responses as “potentially harmful” if those asking for advice followed it.

The more physicians become aware of this phenomenon, the more they can take action to do something about it, says Boyden, a general practitioner. He recommends doctors guide their patients toward reliable information, particularly when it comes to medications. “Ideally, everyone would seek information from a health professional who knows about you, your medical history and conditions, and any other medicines you might be taking,” he says.

Other research has suggested practices can take matters into their own hands and engage patients online themselves. Such efforts have particular potential for improving the information available to underserved communities, as FierceHealthcare has previously reported.

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America’s Most Googled Ailments by Region

America’s Most Googled Ailments by Region | Social Media and Healthcare |

I've never thought of Northern Californians as especially prone to dandruff.

But if American Googling habits reflect any degree of pathologic reality, people living in and around Silicon Valley may be flakier than the rest of us. And Kentuckians? Serious asthma problems. People from Detroit? Warts.


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A recent survey by healthcare recruiting company Sunfish Staffing used Google search data to see which areas of the country search for certain medical conditions most frequently in proportion to population size.


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Of the 20 ailments included in the study, depression was by far the most frequent search nationwide, with an average of over 450,000 monthly queries. When the data were broken down, the highest search rates for depression were in — perhaps predictably — rainy, educated Portland, Oregon and, more surprisingly, Columbus, Ohio.

Despite New York City’s neurotic reputation, searches for anxiety were highest in Boston, while already depressed Columbus also showed up on top for stress.

Beyond just mental health, the new survey also looked at sports injuries (Ed. note: there's probably a white people joke to be made here about the preponderance of tennis elbow in Minnesota) and dermatological conditions. California might be dandruffy, but Atlanta's all over athlete's foot.

Not surprisingly, infectious diseases were of highest interest in densely populated areas like the Northeast, while Nashville lit up the final category, digestive disorders. The survey findings can't prove that poor diet at least partially contributes Music City's interest in stomach pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and diarrhea, but given that Tennessee has the sixth highest collection of fast food restaurants in the country, it's a safe bet.

Guess who also appears to be gastrointestinally afflicted?

Alas, Columbus.

Already encumbered with stress and depression, the state capital also tallied the most searches for irritable bowel syndrome, a condition associated with anxiety. With Ohio’s notable lack of therapists per capita, perhaps the people of Columbus are turning to the internet for medical counsel.

Dr. David Rehkoph, an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University, points out that while, for example, the CDC’s data on regional mental health don’t align with those from the new survey, that disease prevalence isn’t necessarily the only driver of regional disease interest. Perhaps Web searches suggest a lack of healthcare resources in a particular area, a finding that would be of interest to, say, a healthcare staffing company launching a survey of Google search results.

“This could help physicians and public health departments better plan resources and better target increasing awareness of issues that could have major impacts on health,” Rehkoph envisions.

Columbia University epidemiologist Dr. Sandro Galea — who earlier this year published a study that used Twitter data to identify areas of mental health care needs after the Paris terrorist attacks — feels similarly. While the new findings aren’t overwhelmingly scientific, he explains, data gleaned from web searches and social media can be helpful to public health.

“Data from social media mentions can be useful and guide action,” he says, “This can be done rigorously and usefully and it is being done increasingly so… I’m not pessimistic here at all — this is a promising direction, with appropriate caveats.”

Galea is willing to speculate on some of Sunfish’s findings. Portland’s lack of sunlight could be linked to higher rates of depression. Or maybe the young, tech-savvy city just has a high population of people who, as he puts it, “use the internet to breathe” — maybe Portlanders are just always Googling everything!

Yet Galea cautions against overly interpreting the new findings, which don’t shed any definitive light on cause and effect.

His thoughts on what might be causing psychological unrest in Columbus, Ohio?

“Hard to know!”

Nashville’s digestive curiosity?

“I really can’t say.”

Detroit’s preoccupation with warts?

“This might be similar to the Columbus mystery.” 

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The game improving a community’s health without them noticing

The game improving a community’s health without them noticing | Social Media and Healthcare |

It is drizzling and cold in Salford, but a class of eight- and nine-year-olds from Lewis Street school in Patricroft are buzzing as their teachers lead them down the streets of terraced houses between classes. They stride through a park, dodging an abandoned car seat, to swipe lanyards against three street sensors before returning to lessons.

It’s called “going fobbing” in Salford – walking or cycling to sensors on lampposts all round the city and swiping them to get points. It’s part of a health and community building scheme called Beat The Street (BTS) and it’s taken Lewis Street by storm. Pupils and parents have travelled 3,288 miles (scoring a mighty 66,490 points) on fobbing expeditions over two months to outwalk all Salford’s other 23 participating schools and 13 community groups.

Patricroft is a struggling area, where unemployment is high and the number of people describing their health as bad or very bad is well above the national average. But there’s a clear sense of purpose here as the warmly wrapped youngsters line up to swipe their fobs near the school. “I did all the 50 fobs in three days over half term,” says one little girl excitedly. Her teacher reveals that this previously inactive child now goes to an after-school sports club almost every night of the week.

The school has undergone a mini revolution. A detailed and constantly changing online content plan, social media and incentives such as tickets to local amenities, keep the players engaged – not to mention the sense of competition.

Rachael Hall, the school’s sports coach, says: “I’ve never known anything like it – children are going out walking every evening and weekend. Teaching assistants take the children out at lunchtime three times a week and take whole classes out twice a week. I’ve had parents telling me how happy they are to be spending time with their children going fobbing rather than sitting in front of the TV.”

She says a little boy with cerebral palsy with walking problems has made big progress because of the peer pressure to participate in BTS. Another pupil has become so fascinated by the project that he has taken to writing down where he has been, which has improved his school work.

‘I’ve never known anything like it – children are going out walking every evening and weekend.’ Photograph: Beat the Streets

This is exactly what Beat the Street founder and Reading GP, Dr William Bird is after – galvanising whole communities, with the health message almost a side issue. He says: “I want to get the whole of the UK walking, starting with the cities where it is easiest. Walking creates vibrancy – take it away and you create a flat and dying city full of underpasses where no one wants to go.”

Intelligent Health, which Dr Bird set up to operate BTS, works by turning a town or community into a game where people of all ages earn points by walking, cycling or running between sensors placed on lampposts. In the process, no-go areas are opened up to pedestrians, people have fun together and develop healthier habits.

Jennifer Dodd-Power, engagement manager for BTS in Salford, has convinced 5,500 people to take part so far – (though not a patch on Belfast which boasted 36,000 players). She says: “People are not seeing BTS as exercise but as a fun way of going out with the family. We are not saying to people ‘go and join a gym or get yourself to an exercise class’ we are saying ‘go out and meet your friends’.”

Part of her work has been to link fobbing with community events – such as the Eccles Makers Market – where BTS participants could gain extra points on the day of the event at a temporary sensor set up nearby.

The two-month games are preceded by three months’ community engagement, where people such as Dodd work with GPs, local NHS organisations, community groups, sports clubs and schools to build up the enthusiasm. Then the activities requested by a community are set up, whether that be women-only bike riding classes in Asian-dominated Handsworth in Birmingham, or just the incentive to walk into town for previously immobile elderly members of Banham Drive, Sudbury. There elderly residents walked more than 1,500 miles together and have now set up organised walks.

BTS is proving successful in health terms according to results from 53,000 participants. During the game phase the proportion of adults meeting the physical activity guidelines increased from 46% to 57% and the percentage of adults reported walking on five to seven days per week increased from 47% to 61%.

Government research shows that those who fulfil the recommendation of 150 minutes per week of exercise will improve 23 different long-term conditions including diabetes and dementia, reduce the risk of developing several cancers and even stimulate the brain chemicals that reverse ageing, says Bird.

Intelligent Health’s research shows that people are put off by the NHS’s health messages, because they feel they are being lectured. So the year-long health programmes targeting areas of deprivation put the emphasis on enjoying activity with others – and last year 175,198 people travelled more than 1.5m miles with BTS in 21 areas.

The scheme is not working for everyone, though. Head of Lewis Street School, Gemma Lavelle, says: “Even though BTS has raised our activity levels we know that some parents have not signed up. What do we have to do to get some of the really hard-to-reach families involved?”

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Tanzania: The Power of Social Media in Healthcare

Tanzania: The Power of Social Media in Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media has indeed digitalised the world. It has greatly impacted our lives in many different ways. In this so-called 'digital world', where the power of social media is so immense, we have changed the way we do business and how we make our choices.

The healthcare industry has not been left out in this digital world. We read lots of health-related information on Facebook, twitter and other social networks.

But, have you ever imagined the impact - both positive and negative, that social media has on healthcare delivery?

Recent studies have it that there are over 1500 million active users of Facebook all over the world. A study done by mediabistro - US based, revealed that over 40 per cent of patients agree that information found through social media affect the way they make decisions regarding their health.

In Tanzania, there are no researched statistics, but it is estimated that over ten million people use social media. And this brings us to an important question for the Tanzanian audience: How frequent do you get to acquire health related knowledge via Facebook?

Obviously, there are those who will say, "many times". There are several health related Facebook pages established by doctors and many health experts who are actively taking advantage of social media to offer health education and advice.

Some studies have shown that over sixty per cent of social medial users have strong faith in social media posts made by doctors and health experts compared to other groups.

Ways in which social media can be used for health education

Take good examples of social media hashtag campaigns like #cigarrettesmokingkills, #letsfightcervicalcancer and etc. All these campaigns have increased community awareness significantly on various health aspects.

Social media is also useful in organising major health events. Recall one of the recent health screening events that took place at Mnazi Mmoja grounds in Dar es Salaam; where thousands thronged the area for the service.

I am aware of how social media played a key role in making this event successful including others.Health facilities are also enjoying the fruits of social media in strengthening their operations, thus, increasing commitment towards quality healthcare delivery.


Social media as a marketing tool

Hospitals use social media platforms like Facebook and twitter towards acquisition of competitive market position- commonly done by private healthcare entities.

Social media is being used by hospitals as a platform to increase awareness to their clients regarding the availability of particular medical services, cost of services or any issue the facility might wish to share. This keeps clients closer to their facilities.

Hospital managers use social media to get feedbacks from clients of the service being offered. Patients get an opportunity to rate the services and present their complaints directly to the concerned facility. In fact managers use these feedbacks to adjust plans so as to increase quality of the healthcare service delivery.

Professional networking continues to keep health experts closer. They get to share information, research findings and so much regarding healthcare issues.

Two-thirds of doctors are estimated to use social media for professional purposes. The togetherness brought by social media is key to quality healthcare system.

The drawback

Despite all the good things that social media can do in healthcare, there are risks linked directly to it. There is a greater possibility of breach of patient's privacy.

There are already documented cases where healthcare providers deliberately or unknowingly shared clients' information on social media.

Healthcare givers are argued to use social media wisely; otherwise this might damage their professional reputation.

Lots of people are using social media to make self diagnosis of the illnesses they don't know thus ultimately leading to self-medication of drugs in many cases. This is indeed not very good as most of them end up stressed.

There are a couple of misleading health information circulating in social media from untrusted sources. These messages mislead people and some of them discourage practices, which are in real sense healthy. It is recommended not to rely on every information you receive via social media and seek a professional advice from a medical practitioner for your own good.

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Facebook As a Driver of Better Health Outcomes?

Facebook As a Driver of Better Health Outcomes? | Social Media and Healthcare |
We all know the story of how Facebook began, but what is less clear is where it is going. It continues to be the dominant social platform, and through new features and acquisitions, increasingly meets many, if not all, of our social and even information seeking and entertainment needs. Have a question about where to vacation? Get advice from friends and stalk their photos on Facebook. Looking into a new job candidate? Check out their Facebook page. Didn’t catch last night’s game and looking for reactions? Search it up, on Facebook. And so it goes. Increasingly it is becoming a forum for health information. Have a headache? Find a doctor, or ask a friend, or join a group, or research a product. On Facebook.


Facebook’s reentry into health shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us. With 1.5 billion consumers on the platform, Facebook is a massive data source for learning about attitudes toward health and wellness. One in four on the platform are willing to share information about their health, and I’d be in reality that the number that actually do share is much higher. And, with four million health support groups, Facebook is an on-demand health support service of sorts.

Beyond all this, the reality is that health care professionals are people too. Their worlds are colliding, and just like you may check work email from the couch at night, they are on Facebook connecting with friend and colleagues, and often sharing their opinions and perspectives on health and health matters. We created a private group for a physician support role several years ago and hoped to sign 5,000 members over a year. The program signed 8,000 and now has close to 12,000 participants because it was convenient given they were on Facebook anyway, and contextually relevant in that the support the group provides is helping them in their roles in the physician office.
So, what’s going on at Facebook as it relates to health? Finally they have amassed a staff of talented and experienced digital health pros to bring their offerings to health industry clients. One example is Sachin Nanavati, a leader in digital health  that has joined Facebook Health’s team.  This is a critical moment for brands, and a great opportunity. Over the years brand managers have been frustrated with Facebook’s lack of support for the health industry – low responsiveness from sales, lack of understanding of regulated environment, seeming unwillingness to create health specific products. With this energetic new team, they are actively out there engaging brands and bringing products to life that can have a real impact on health experiences of their audience and ultimately improve health outcomes. Over the coming weeks, I’ll share details on some of the specific services. They range from paid to earned opportunities and Facebook seems open to talking about what else is needed.
In the meantime, think about Facebook’s broader ambition and network of complementary sites and services –What’s App, Instagram, Messenger – and then newer acquisitions like Oculus VR and services like Live. It is clear that there is a plan, and it is big. Think about how this ambition could apply to health and the opportunities are endless. Data and the impact on public health could be huge. Partnering with a service like IBM Watson Health and creating personal health coaches or an early warning system is a tremendous opportunity. Formalizing an approach to patient communities and creating unique ways for them to connect. Same for healthcare professionals – as they look to network more and more, how will Facebook support that? It’s all mobile anyway, but are there new tools tied to the mobile device and wearables that interact with Facebook in a smart way? And more simply, finally bringing health brands into the family so they can engage the people they most want to help is an urgent and immediate opportunity to impact outcomes – for Facebook, for health marketers, for healthcare providers, and most importantly for patients and caregivers.
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Influencing Public Perception of Obesity Treatment Through Social Media

Influencing Public Perception of Obesity Treatment Through Social Media Neil Floch MD, FACS Director of Bariatric Surgery Norwalk Hospital Western Connecticut …
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