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. 

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UK doctors share patient data on social media, flout health authority's ban

UK doctors share patient data on social media, flout health authority's ban | Social Media and Healthcare |

Doctors in the UK are increasingly using Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat to discuss information about their patients, despite a ban on the use of internet- based messaging apps, experts say.

Due to the lack of digital sharing systems, UK's National Health Service (NHS) doctor use groups on Facebook and Whatsapp to share details about patients, according to Alisdair Macnair, an NHS doctor based at Cambridge.

Use of internet-based messaging apps to send patient information is banned by the NHS.

"I have also seen chat on Facebook groups that sails pretty close to the wind in terms of discussing medical information," Macnair told the 'BBC'.

"I've definitely seen stuff which is one step away from being patient identifying," Macnair said.

"I am empathetic with doctors because there is a need and desire among healthcare professionals to share this information and the fact that nothing exists for them to do so is a huge problem," said Kate McCarthy, healthcare analyst at UK-based Forrester Research.

"The reality is that doctors are responding to the inadequacy of what the NHS is providing," McCarthy said.

The way UK's health service looks after data has come under spotlight after an Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) investigation found that 1.6 million patient records were shared with Google's DeepMind.

The artificial intelligence company said it was developing an app to alert doctors and nurses about patients at risk of kidney injury.

The ICO found that the NHS had breached data laws by allowing DeepMind to access the records.

A subsequent report from an independent panel set up by DeepMind to assess its work suggested that the NHS's use of technology was in a dire state.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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How to help your doctors realize the power of social media

How to help your doctors realize the power of social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Whenever I have an appointment with a new doctor, I like telling him or her what I do for a living.

Here’s how a typical conversation starts:

“I’m a health care social media writer,” I say. “I help hospitals figure out the best ways to reach their audience through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, you know—whatever all the kids are on these days.”

If the doctor says, “Oh, that sounds interesting,” here’s what I say next:

“My favorite part is when I teach doctors how to set up their own social media accounts. At first, they seem worried about it, but once they get the hang of it, they really start to like it.”

If the doctor replies, “Oh, that sounds interesting” again, I keep going. They start asking me questions, they share their concerns about social media, and soon we both forget why I came to their office in the first place.

If your hospital sees a doctor with social media potential, here’s how to start the conversation:

[RELATED: Refresh your social media strategy so you can react on the fly.]

Do patients trust you over ‘Dr. Google’?

Patients come to doctors with crackpot ideas about ailments and treatments because there’s so much bad medical information online. They don’t know where to turn. That’s when blogging comes in handy.

“Imagine if you told me after this appointment that I have stomachtradistisorious,” I say. “The first thing I’m going to do after this appointment is Google it. But let’s say you specialize in treating that disease and you have written several blog posts about it—symptoms, causes and treatment options. If your blog posts show up on my search, I’d see you as the authority on it. I’d trust you.”

Do you want to be on TV, get quoted in a magazine or speak at a conference?

Most doctors like being in the spotlight—sharing ideas, connecting with other doctors and seeing their name in print. Social media helps feed their ego.

“The best way to get journalists and other news organizations to notice you is to go where they are—online,” I say. “Your hospital marketing department is always looking for doctors to go on TV or get quoted in a blog when something happens at your hospital or if there’s something they need an expert opinion on. If you’re on social media, you can be the voice for your hospital and your community.”

Have you heard of @SeattleMamaDoc?

Doctors are competitive. They want to know what their peers are up to. That’s when I tell them aboutDr. Wendy Sue Swanson and her partnership with Seattle Children’s Hospital.

“Do you remember when Jenny McCarthy said on ‘Oprah’ that vaccines were linked to autism?” I ask. “After the episode aired, Dr. Swanson, a pediatrician, said her patients were really scared and asked her a lot of questions. She decided to start a blog to help alleviate their fears. Since then, the blog has become so successful that she’s had speaking gigs in Australia, she advises the CDC on improving pediatric/parenting messaging and has more than 30,000 followers on Twitter. And it all started because she wanted to help make sure kids got vaccinated.”

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17 Provider Reputation Stats that Every Practice Needs to Know

17 Provider Reputation Stats that Every Practice Needs to Know | Social Media and Healthcare |
Online reputation has never been more important. This infographic shows the importance of social media and online reviews.
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Patients Trust Social Media, so Be Their Trusted Source 

Patients Trust Social Media, so Be Their Trusted Source  | Social Media and Healthcare |

"Instagram is for narcissists."

"Individuals who spend time on social media don't have real jobs."

"No one takes social media seriously."

"Facebook is a place for cyberbullying."

"Selfies are not for professionals."

You may have heard such comments. I don't agree with any of them.

 My social media presence has led to even more opportunities to reach patients through partnerships with traditional media, such as this appearance on Good Morning America.

Some people still don't grasp the utility of social media in the medical landscape. However, more than 2.5 billion people are using social platforms worldwide, and the percentage of Americans using social media has increased from 24 percent to 81 percent in the past 10 years. Social media influences everything from politics to commerce to cultural movements, and it's time family physicians took notice.

By its nature, social media encourages users to publicize the private, so it's understandable that the medical community has reservations. There certainly are risks in using social media as a health care professional -- breaches of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, overexposure, and erosion of credibility, to name a few. But as clinicians, we know we must weigh the risks and benefits before making any decision. From my perspective, the benefits of using social media for medical purposes strongly outweigh the risks. It truly is an overlooked symbiotic relationship.  

Our specialty has always been at the forefront of creating new lines of communication with our patients. The beauty of family medicine, and why I went into this field, is that we are able to make drastic differences in lives by not only treating disease but also through education and prevention. Social media is a tool we can use to continue this mission, one that can influence the health decisions of millions. This can range from encouraging preventive health visits to inspiring lifestyle changes.

There is no single way to make use of this global trend. Family physicians are a diverse group of people with equally diverse interests. Our social media styles should reflect that. Being an early adopter of Instagram, I have been able to amass a following of more than 3 million people. I will admit that initial interest in my page was not purely medical in nature -- see People Magazine --  but it is my responsibility to redirect this interest into a discussion about public health.

From posting selfies on Instagram of my everyday practice to creating unique YouTube videos on a variety of medical and nonmedical topics, I can reach millions of people and potentially influence how they take care of their health.

More than 40 percent of patients say social media presence influences their choice when selecting a new physician. When a patient comes to my practice solely because of my social media presence, and we are able to detect early-stage cancer or administer a vaccine that may not have been given otherwise, I consider that a great success.  

I am a passionate advocate for preventive care, but I see one glaring obstacle ahead. Young people don't go to the doctor as often as they should. Forty percent of people ages 18-24 do not see a medical professional yearly compared to just 8 percent of those older than 65. Making a lifestyle change in someone who is 20 can have a greater impact than in someone who is 60.

This is the heart of preventive medicine, yet no one has figured out how to engage in an ongoing conversation with the younger demographic. Other industries are already seeing the importance of utilizing social media, restructuring their workforce and shifting internal budgets. According to the Duke University School of Business, in 2016, the average business spent 11 percent of its advertising budget on social media, and that number is expected to increase to 21 percent during the next five years. We need to think like marketers and sell our message of health through prevention and education.

I am aware the medical community likes to see studies showing tangible benefits. However, in this case, it may not be that simple. What I can do, in speaking from my own experience, is attest to the fact that my following is growing, patient's medical questions are improving, and new doctor-patient relationships are developing.

A public conversation about health is the first step in motivating this younger generation to begin to care about prevention and staying healthy. Ninety percent of young adults say they trust medical information shared on their social feeds, so it's important that they receive information from a source worthy of that trust.

Another point that is often not discussed is that we simply do not see family medicine represented enough in traditional or social media. Time and time again I see subspecialists talking about primary care issues because their specialties are glorified in scripted television. I know of no specialists more capable of answering a wide range of medical questions from the average viewer than family physicians. We have a finger on the pulse of what questions people have, we know what their worries are, and most importantly, we know the language to use so they can clearly understand our responses.

During my time in the media spotlight, I have been able to share with the general public the incredible abilities of family physicians. During appearances on The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America and The Doctors, I consistently try to instill the idea in the producers' and audiences' minds that family medicine, as a health resource, should receive more consideration. Using social media to garner positive attention for our specialty is one step we can take to change the way our work is perceived by the media and the masses.

Social media certainly has its risks. It can increase anxiety and depression in our youth. However, the answer is not to vilify its existence but instead to figure out how to best leverage it to serve the needs of our patients. The millennial generation wants more access with less work. They will ask questions on social media but may not visit you in the office unless directed to. We should not passively wait for the younger demographic to come to us but should instead reach out to them where they are. I prefer to give general answers to their questions online rather than have them simply rely on Dr. Google or spend several anxious hours navigating WebMD.

I admit there's a thin line between practicing "cocktail" medicine and just giving general advice, but this challenge is one we must grow comfortable with in our ever-changing technological landscape. The mission statement of the AAFP calls on family physicians "to improve the health of patients, families and communities by serving the needs of members with professionalism and creativity," and we can use social media to help us achieve those goals.

Mikhail Varshavski, D.O., is a family physician in New York City and a leading voice in the social media health space. You can follow him on YouTube, on Twitter @RealDoctorMike, and on Instagram @Doctor.Mike.

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7 Ways Email Marketing Can Help Healthcare Industry to Reach Target Customers

7 Ways Email Marketing Can Help Healthcare Industry to Reach Target Customers | Social Media and Healthcare |

Though healthcare marketers have a full range of marketing options available for them, both traditional as well as digital; email marketing stands to be the best among all. One, it allows you to reach out to a large number of your current and potential customers almost instantly. Second, it involves a fraction of the cost as compared to other marketing mediums.Therefore, it becomes imperative for you and your hospital to include email marketing into your digital marketing strategy for the successful establishment and growth of your brand. But sending sporadic emails to your customers will not help. In fact, it may annoy your patients and tarnish the image of your brand. To create greater branding opportunities it is essential to devise a well thought email marketing strategy that resonates well with your target audience.

Email Marketing For Successful Healthcare Digital Marketing

Here are some of the email marketing strategies that can help use emails as a tool for successful digital marketing in healthcare industry:

#1: Make it easy to subscribe

Provide a sign up form on your website so that your patients can subscribe to your emails. While doing so, keep it as simple and as short as possible. Also, let your patients know what they are subscribing to and the frequency of the emails – weekly newsletters, monthly hospital updates, fortnightly event that you might be hosting and so on. This will let your patients know what kind of emails to expect and they can opt out of the list if not interested.

#2: Know your patients

For the success of your email campaigns, it is important to know your target audience. Sending emails related to pediatric care to senior citizens will waste their time as well as yours. Similarly, sending knee replacement related emails to young patients can not only annoy them but may also prompt them to opt out from your email list.

Therefore for healthcare marketing, segment your email list into different groups and personalize your content as much as possible. If possible, personalize your emails to a level where you can address every patient by their name. This will give them a sense of belonging and will send across a strong message that you care about the well-being of your patients and want to have a personal connection with each one of them. Email marketing for doctors is very beneficial as it is very cost effective and provides better brand awareness.

#3: Create engaging content

Design email content that’s informative as well as educative. In addition to sending promotional or product related information, send across emails that you know your customers will find interesting and informative. For example, send emails that talk about the latest virus outbreak and how they can protect themselves and their families from catching an infection, a new innovative health technology, or tips to lead a healthy life. This will ensure a higher click through rate as your patients will look forward to receiving your emails.

#4: Design responsive emails

Your emails should open up on all devices, including desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. Therefore, use a responsive template when creating an email. This will ensure a better performance of your email campaign and a happy customer base. 

#5: Test before sending

If you want the best results for your email marketing campaigns, test and retest your emails before sending them to your patients. You need to test everything, from your email’s subject line to the underlying content, images, headings and questionnaire. You must also check how your emails are performing on different browsers. This will ensure that all your emails have the best possible click through rate.

#6: Set a schedule

Don’t spam your patients’ inbox by sending impromptu emails. It will only lead to unhappy customers who will eventually opt out of your email list. Therefore, for the best performance of your email campaigns, set a regular schedule – once a day, twice a week, or fortnightly. This will help your patients know when to expect your email.

#7: Make your emails sharable

Send content that’s worth sharing and incorporate a Shareable link to the web version of your emails so that your patients can easily forward your emails to their friends. Also, adding Facebook and Twitter links to your emails will allow people to share your email content on different social networking sites – a step that will aid in the building and promotion of your brand.

A successful online email marketing campaign can help doctors and healthcare professionals retain more patients, attract new patients, and generate more leads.

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6 Tips for Using Technology to Improve Patient Experience

6 Tips for Using Technology to Improve Patient Experience | Social Media and Healthcare |

It’s no secret: technology is revolutionizing the way rehab therapy providers deliver care to their patients. With things like EMR and RCM software becoming mainstays in therapy practices, providers are spending less time documenting and more time treating. It should go without saying that this development has also benefited patients. From intake to discharge, technology can help cultivate meaningful patient experiences—and there’s a whole lotta data out there to prove it. As noted in this article from the WebPT Blog, “a 2011 white paper from The Beryl Institute revealed that hospitals using interactive technology showed a 10% increase in general satisfaction.”

So, why should providers put so much focus on catering to—and satisfying—the patient-consumer? Well, happy patients mean higher retention rates, and higher retention rates mean more consistent revenue—a key ingredient to your practice’s long-term success. The good news is you can immediately start leveraging the technology tools you’re probably already using every day. Here’s how:

1. Get a head start on intake.

Send an email.

Like most rehab therapists, you probably don’t look forward to paperwork. But if you use an EMR, you’re already familiar with the benefits of technology that streamlines your documentation process. And if your documentation platform includes a patient intake tool, your patients can reap those benefits, too.

Picture this: your patient signs in at the front desk, and instead of spending the next 15 minutes filling out paperwork, he or she gets to enjoy a cup of coffee and chat with your front office staff. And because your staff already has the patient’s information on file, you have time to prepare for the appointment in advance—which means the patient can get started quicker. With a patient intake tool that’s integrated directly with your EMR software, this picture is a reality.

And let’s not forget about patient-reported outcomes. You already know that PROMs are valuable to you as a provider, but they can be just as valuable to your patients as well. After all, these tests allow patients to truly weigh and evaluate their own level of function, which helps them take control of their experience. And, as with patient intake information, your office can collect PROM scores via email before the patient ever steps foot in your clinic. This not only cuts down on the patient’s in-office paperwork, but also allows you to prepare to discuss—and incorporate—the patient’s outcomes scores in advance.

Set up a kiosk.

Email isn’t the only means of streamlining your practice’s intake process. And if you work with a largely geriatric client base that isn’t super tech-savvy, you might want an alternative—although it may surprise you to know how many senior citizens are logging on these days (88% according to the Pew Research Center). Fortunately, some EMR systems provide a kiosk option for both patient intake forms and outcomes reporting. This allows users to load up questionnaires and forms on an in-office tablet or computer that patients can use to fill their information quickly and seamlessly.

2. Send documents through a secure, HIPAA-compliant patient portal.

PROMs and patient intake forms aside, there are other ways to boost patient trust and engagement through secure data-sharing. HIPAA has given patients the right to obtain copies their own medical records, and many savvy, health-focused patient consumers will do just that. But there’s a better way to provide patients with sensitive medical documentation than simply handing over hard copies: the patient document portal. According to this infographic from HIMSS, “Facilitating ongoing communication between patients and physicians via apps and online portals can improve engagement rates by 60% or higher.” With online document portals, patients can easily receive documents from their provider and safely store them on their computers. No more filing away stacks of documents from the therapist’s office, or worse—losing track of sensitive PHI.

3. Automate patient appointment reminders.

We’ve written about the effectiveness of appointment reminders in the past, and it’s easy to understand why they work so well. Automated phone, text, and email appointment reminders provide a convenient way to keep patients on track for their upcoming visits, and they’re far more effective than handwritten reminder cards. Don’t get me wrong, reminder cards are a nice touch, but there’s always a chance they’ll get stashed away in a coat pocket or tossed into the trash.

4. Engage patients with an interactive home exercise program (HEP).

It can be tough for patients to remember exactly how to do every single home exercise, and while they can always call your office for a refresher, there’s a chance you’ll be with another patient. And if it’s after-hours, you might be on your couch with slippers and a good book. Why subject your patients to a frustrating game of phone tag when you can instead provide them with an interactive home exercise program that they can access 24 hours a day? Computer-based programs are not only convenient, but also engaging, as they typically allow patients to view videos of each exercise (because 2D images are so ten years ago). And the more convenient it is for your patients to remain compliant with their home exercise programs, the more likely they are to do so.

5. Email patient satisfaction surveys.

Much like patient-reported outcomes, patient satisfaction and NPS surveys can tell you a lot about how you and your staff measure up. And with more and more payers using pay-per-performance payment models, keeping your patients happy and healthy can have a direct impact on your bottom line. But these surveys aren’t just for your benefit. When your practice measures patient happiness and success, patient experience becomes a priority. And that leads to happier, healthier patients.

While you could provide patients with an in-office exit survey that includes satisfaction questions, doing so may skew their responses. Alternatively, emailing exit surveys affords patients a degree anonymity, which often yields more honest responses. Additionally, this method of survey distribution allows the patient to complete the questionnaire on his or her own time instead of rushing through it before heading back to the office, school, or home.

6. Keep in touch online.

A patient’s experience doesn’t stop when he or she leaves your care. And if it does, then you’re missing out on a serious opportunity to increase engagement and win patient loyalty. Whether you use a patient engagement platform, release a monthly newsletter to a patient email list, or encourage your patients to follow your clinic on social media, staying in touch with patients after discharge not only keeps you informed on their continued progress, but also reminds the patient to come back to you should he or she ever require additional therapy services.

If you’re ready to get serious about boosting your patients’ satisfaction, then it’s time to consider whether your clinic’s current technology is up to the challenge. When you prioritize the patient experience, other facets of your business evolve in step. Whether it enhances the experience at the front desk or keeps patients engaged after discharge, technology can help improve your patients’ views on not only you—but also the entire rehab therapy profession.

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Why Real-World Results Are Challenging for Digital Health Products 

Why Real-World Results Are Challenging for Digital Health Products  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Companies should look for lessons in other industries, create products that are tailored to population subsets, develop synergistic partnerships, and understand the performance characteristics of products in the real world.


Despite years of hype in the field of digital health products — a term that we use here to describe technologies that are designed to have clinical impact on disease — fewer products than expected are being deployed in real-world clinical settings. Many digital health products that demonstrate impressive results in clinical trials often fail to do so in real-world settings.

Why? Much of the success of digital health products is predicated on patient engagement, and clinical trials are among the most engaging environments in health care. Clinical trials involve the use of a variety of tools (e.g., training, close monitoring, payments) to ensure that patients use the technologies appropriately, but few of these tools are used in the real world. In order to cross the chasm from success in clinical trials to success in practice, digital health companies need to focus on patient engagement.

Digital Health Hinges on Engagement

Engagement is so important because many digital health products are designed to achieve behavioral changes for the purpose of preventing or treating chronic diseases. For patients who are at risk for, or are living with, a chronic disease, successful prevention or management requires minute-to-minute, day-to-day changes in decision-making. Patients need to be highly motivated to make behavioral changes, they need to be praised when they follow through, and they need guidance when they slip up. The process needs to be sticky and self-reinforcing in order to maintain patient interest. In a nutshell, patients need to be engaged.

Patients need to be highly motivated to make behavioral changes, they need to be praised when they follow through, and they need guidance when they slip up. The process needs to be sticky and self-reinforcing in order to maintain patient interest. In a nutshell, patients need to be engaged.”

Engagement is important not only for clinical results, but also for the business models of many digital health companies, which frequently incorporate pay-for-performance contracts. Digital health companies need to track data continuously in order to demonstrate their value to the purchaser or user. Products that do not engage patients drag down performance metrics and reduce the viability of the company.

Contrast this with pharmaceuticals: payors pay for drugs before patients take them, and pay-for-performance contracts are the exception; this is part of the reason why nearly 50% of medications for chronic disease are not taken as prescribed.

The Gap Between Clinical Trials and Real-World Results

Successful clinical trials of both digital health products and pharmaceuticals are engaging by definition. In order for a trial to demonstrate significant results — and in order for the results of the trial to be published — the attrition rate for participants needs to be very low. The entire endeavor is designed around ensuring that patients use the product or service appropriately and follow up regularly.

A clinical trial is designed as follows: an artificial scenario is crafted, willing participants volunteer, participants are carefully selected on the basis of optimal criteria, staffers are thoroughly trained, measurements are taken like clockwork, and participants are induced (by means of monetary payments or a barrage of phone calls, emails, and texts) to use the product or service as directed. As a result, the experience of individuals who are involved in a clinical trial typically is much more engaging than that of patients who use the technology in real-world scenarios.

Tools to Drive Engagement

Extending the engagement-boosting practices from a clinical trial to a much larger population of patients in the real world is not feasible because of cost and logistical complexity. As a result, different approaches are needed to facilitate engagement.

  • Maintain engagement-first thinking. Digital health products need to be designed to drive engagement from the ground up. Focusing on an exciting technology or a massive need is not enough. Companies should consider employing principles from behavioral economics, which have been shown to increase engagement and product stickiness by using sophisticated implementations of financial incentives, loyalty points, social structures, and other techniques.

Simply learning that an intervention was successful in a clinical study is not enough. Real-world validation is also important as digital health companies own the validation process from product development to scale.”

Social media also have been shown to be a powerful force in patient engagement, with applications ranging from open patient support resources such as PatientsLikeMe to the patient-only social media networks used by Omada Health to drive weight loss. Companies also should think about employing strategies from video games and sports. While “gamification,” as this approach is known, has been mostly met with a tepid response from the physician community, don’t forget that Pokémon GO has performed better than many digital health tools at increasing the physical activity levels of its users.

  • Embrace real-world data to drive real-world evidence. Real-world data (RWD) and real-world evidence (RWE) are topics of increasing interest in the medical community and have even garnered the attention of the FDA. While RWD and RWE typically are used to supplement clinical trials, these information sources are increasingly important for digital health companies because they provide critical evidence of user engagement. Digital health companies can design studies to capture RWD and build RWE by crafting scenarios that mirror how products will be used by real patients.

While ‘gamification,’ as this approach is known, has been mostly met with a tepid response from the physician community, don’t forget that Pokémon GO has performed better than many digital health tools at increasing the physical activity levels of its users.”

Companies can look to Omada Health’s diabetes prevention study for an example of how to design a study to collect RWD and RWE. Omada recruited participants on Craigslist, participants relayed weight measurements to the company with use of a digital scale equipped with cellular data-transmitting capabilities, and HbA1c measurements were obtained with use of home kits that were mailed to participants. The study was performed in a similar way to how Omada interacts with real patients and thus provided the company with a good understanding of the real-world performance characteristics of its product.

  • Develop product variations. Engagement is not one-size-fits-all. Different tactics will work well for different populations, and digital products may be more successful if the manufacturer is able to develop variations to serve different segments of the market. For example, Propeller Healthhas developed sensors that can track inhaler use, with the goal of improving outcomes and reducing costs for patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Although patients with both conditions often use inhaled medications, the demographics, etiology, prognosis, and medication regimens for these conditions differ substantially. Product variations specific to the different patient populations using the inhaler will be critical to Propeller’s success in the treatment of these diseases. Companies must think through how to engage each subset of the population that the product is serving.

Making the Leap from Novelty to Necessity

Clinical trials are a critical process in the evolution of digital health products. Evidence is an important means for convincing health care executives to buy these products. However, simply learning that an intervention was successful in a clinical study is not enough. Real-world validation is also important as digital health companies own the validation process from product development to scale. Once clinical validation is achieved, real-world evidence must be gathered to justify success at scale. In order for digital health products to make the leap from novelty to necessity, manufacturers will need to focus on driving patient engagement in real-world settings. Engagement will require taking lessons from other industries, creating products that are tailored to population subsets, developing synergistic partnerships, and understanding the performance characteristics of products in the real world.

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Part 1: Why use Facebook Ads?

Part 1: Why use Facebook Ads? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Independent optometrists cannot just sit back and wait for patients to come in the door. With increasing competition from corporate practices and online dispensing, you need to look for new ways to grow.

As optometrists, we need to be where our patients are. According to Sensis Social Media Report 2016,1 87 per cent of Australians access the internet daily.

Facebook has more than 1.86 billion users2 and continues to grow. Australians now spend on average 12.5 hours per week, or one hour and 47 minutes per day, on Facebook.1 According to the report, 48 per cent of small businesses have a social media presence but only 20 per cent of these create ads to bring in new customers.1

Your practice can take advantage of the power of Facebook advertising to thrive. Facebook Ads can help your practice to attract new patients and retain existing patients.

Advantages of using Facebook Ads

  • Facebook has the best audience targeting of any online platform

According to Facebook, about 10–15 million Australians use Facebook each month. Facebook uses many different interactions such as likes, comments, shares and views to form an impression of interests, likes and other behaviours. For example, if you want to target a 44-year-old female who likes Tiffany & Co and lives within 30 kilometres of your practice, you can.

You can also create matches of your existing patient data base. For example, you may have 7,000 or more patients in your practice management software. A large number of these people have mobile phone numbers. You can match these mobile numbers to people who use Facebook. This gives you two advantages: you can create Ads like ‘Use it or lose it’ to your existing patients on Facebook, and you can attract new patients who have similar likes, interests or behaviours to those of your existing patients. In addition, you can encourage both of these groups to make an appointment with you.

  • Facebook Ads are inexpensive

With Facebook, you can spend as little as $1 per day on Ads and you can turn Ads off at any time. You can also increase your budget to get more appointments.

  • Free Ad viewers

Whenever someone likes, comments or shares your Ad, your Ad cost goes down. Facebook sees this as a key measure of how well your Ad is being received and how much to charge you for the Ad. If more people like it, you pay less for your Ad. Potential patients can choose to tag friends or share your Ad, just like an unpaid post, which means that their friends see it free of charge, and you get more free advertising and awareness for your practice.

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Should We Use Social Media to Diagnose Diseases?

Should We Use Social Media to Diagnose Diseases? | Social Media and Healthcare |

AI and machine learning is opening up possible new avenues in disease detection — but just because we can do something, does that mean we should?

Last month, I wrote an article called “3 Amazing Ways Google Search Data is Improving Healthcare,” that discussed the notion of using search engine data to diagnose illness before patients are even aware that they might be sick.

I recently came across a Wired article by Dr. Sam Volchenboum, the Director of the Center for Research Informatics at the University of Chicago, and a co-founder of Litmus Health, a data science provider for early-stage clinical trials, that explored this idea in depth. Here are a few of the key takeaways from his piece.

Data, Data Everywhere

From a data science perspective, says Dr. Volchenboum, the world is effectively becoming “one big clinical trial.” Internet search, social media, mobile devices, wearables, etc. are generating a steady — and staggeringly large — stream of information that “can provide insights into a person’s health and well-being.”

We’re not quite there yet, but it’s entirely possible that in the very near future, platforms like Facebook and Google will be able to alert someone to the possible presence of a disease before they’re even aware of it. While, in theory, this kind of technology would have the potential to save lives, Dr. Volchenboum aptly points out that when it comes to electronic patient health data, it’s never black and white.

How Does it Work?

In order to create a predictive model, a platform like Facebook would have to start by working backwards. Dr. Volchenboum explains, it would generate “a data set consisting of social media posts from tens of thousands of people will likely chronicle the journey that some had on their way to a diagnosis of cancer, depression, or inflammatory bowel disease.”

Then, using machine-learning technologies, a researcher or provider could analyze all of those disparate data points, taking into account the “language, style, and content of those posts both before and after the diagnosis.” This would allow them to create models capable of identifying similar behavior, which, in theory, would suggest a similar outcome down the road.

While such “early warning systems” are not yet in place, the underlying technology necessary to develop them certainly exists — the advanced predictive and machine-learning algorithms powering Facebook and Google’s advertising platforms basically use the same concept, but simply employ them to different ends.

A Double-Edged Sword?

I agree with Dr. Volchenboum that yes, we should start leveraging the vast amounts of consumer data in ways that benefit society as a whole, but that we also need to be very careful if and when we attempt to do so.

As we all know, the companies behind today’s biggest digital platforms detail how they plan to use consumer data in their terms of service; but as we also all know, few people actually take the time to read the terms of service. So, while these companies may be covered from a legal perspective, they’re not actually providing a functional window for patients who may be concerned about where their data ends up.

If this is the path we ultimately go down (and I’m quite sure it will be), we need to make sure it’s a highly transparent, opt-in system for those patients interested in participating. That means spelling it all out in terms that patients can actually understand, ensuring their data remains protected, and, if they choose not to participate, respecting that decision and keeping their data private. As patients continue to take a more active role in their health and treatment decisions, it’s likely that many would be in favor of this kind of technology — we just need to make sure it’s built upon a foundation of trust and respect.

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Clinical Trials Showcase: Navigating the social media web

Geoff Denman is the CEO of Neoclinical. He is a communications specialist who has been responsible for some of Australia’s best known and effectiv
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10 Tips for Physician Websites 

10 Tips for Physician Websites  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Physician websites aren’t completely different from other websites. But there are some things that are special about physician websites. When you work on your practice website, consider these special factors.

  1. You may not have much competition. Plenty of physicians in private practice have no website at all. Plenty more have outdated, poor quality websites with generic content and little information about the doctor or doctors in the practice. Be sure to check out your competition online and make sure that your website offers the best experience.
  2. Your website is your first impression. While patients may read about you at HealthGrades or see your social media pages, their first impression of you is likely to be based on your website. If you have an outdated, unprofessional website, potential patients will conclude that you have an outdated, unprofessional practice.
  3. Pay attention to web best practices. Your website doesn’t have to be trendy, but it shouldn’t have a splash page, a Flash introduction, or buttons that say, “Click Here.” Make sure that your website follows HIPAA regulations and that it is accessible under ADA requirements.
  4. You may be surprised by how important your photo is. Patients may not have a complete understanding of what your certifications mean, but they are very likely to have feelings about you based on your photo. Make sure you look both competent and warm. Consider using other photos besides just headshots, too. Pictures of physicians and staff interacting can help prospective patients imagine themselves having a positive experience in your office.
  5. Be sure your website is mobile-friendly. Both Google and patients appreciate a mobile-friendly website. It’s a good plan to have your phone number and a map to your office at the top of the mobile version of your website.
  6. Physician websites aren’t just for marketing. Your practice website can and should introduce your practice to new patients. But your website can also do a lot for your current patients. Provide health information they can rely on, link to your patient portal, and make it easy to book an appointment.
  7. Make sure essential information is easy to find. Patients want to know whether you’re accepting new patients, what kind of insurance you accept, and what kinds of health issues your practice works with. Your front desk staff would rather they didn’t have to answer those questions. Have the information readily available, not hidden on a FAQ page.
  8. Include forms to streamline check ins. Speed things up for your patients and your office staff by making forms available online so patients can fill them out ahead and time. Have PDF forms your patients can download and print out or interactive forms they can fill out online and upload.
  9. Have information sheets available as PDFs, too. If there are information sheets you often hand out, such as instructions for at-home exercises, nutrition guides for prenatal patients, or instructions for using home health gear, upload these to your website. That way, you can easily send patients a link to the information they need, and they can download or print the information themselves.
  10. Encourage your staff to direct patients to your website. Whether they encourage patients to read a blog post that’s relevant to their concerns, help them find the patient portal, or draw their attention to a check -in button, your front desk staff can help get patients in the habit of using your website. This increases the value of your service — and brings more traffic to your site, too.
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AMA: Physician Online Presence Important but Exercise Caution

AMA: Physician Online Presence Important but Exercise Caution | Social Media and Healthcare |

In a technologically advanced society, physicians need to take advantage of the internet to reach patients and exercise caution in their online presence, according to a report published by the American Medical Association.

At a recent education session, two physicians discussed the need for physicians to be visible online. They emphasized that physicians need to improve information available online, including on HealthGrades, Yelp, and ProPublica, as well as other sites. Information should be accurate and up-to-date. When physicians update their profiles, they should remember that inaccurate information reflects on the physician; that physicians don't have control over comments; and that a professional profile that looks great does not provide control over what patients write.



Physicians must exercise caution with sharing online and responding to patient comments. The best policy can be found from the Mayo Clinic, which includes not misrepresenting yourself, being transparent about who you are, not violating patient privacy, not revealing too much personal information, and remembering that once information is out there, it is out there.

To protect their online reputation while increasing visibility, physicians should choose one professional photo for use across all websites; update profiles with clear, consistent, and factual information; provide educational resources; never engage online with a patient who leaves a negative review; and use strategic networking to stay relevant in practice and profession. Patients are looking for ratings and content, so physicians should update and claim profiles.

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Best Practices for Physicians When Posting on Social Media

Best Practices for Physicians When Posting on Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

While having a social media presence is a relatively new idea for physicians, advantages to building an online presence as a practitioner include making professional connections and taking control of your own reputation. If you have decided that you want to be on social media, the immediate consideration is how to do it well. It’s worthwhile spending a little energy deciding what your social media strategy will be.

Start simple. There is no need to join Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms all at once. Each platform has its own personality and culture, and each takes time to understand and use to your advantage. The medical profession inherently carries risk of burnout, so don’t let tending to social media keep you away from practicing.

Keep it positive and helpful. If you are representing yourself as a professional, you need to establish a positive and informative presence. Steer away from controversial topics and focus on helping people. This is especially important to consider if you are interested in locum tenens and other professional opportunities.

Connect with readers. Decide whom you are speaking to and use language that educates without alienating your audience. Are you talking to moms? Other medical professionals? Prospective employers? Consider your readers carefully with every post you make.

Include images. This is a social media rule that applies across the board, whether personal or professional. Pictures attract readers. A 2014 study on eMarketer confirms that 87 percent of shared Facebook posts include photos. For potential professional employers or locum tenens recruiters, be sure to include a picture of yourself.

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Social Media For Physicians

Social Media For Physicians | Social Media and Healthcare |

With studies showing that a majority of workers opt to use social media in the workplace, it’s no surprise that many physicians are beginning to integrate social media into his or her practice. While social media for physicians is a niche market, it’s still a rapidly growing niche market, and many physicians are using it to better their practice. While we don’t recommend that you live-tweet during a difficult prognosis, or Snapchat during a strenuous surgery, there are certainly a variety of ways that you can use social media to your advantage. Below are just a few social media for physicians that you might want to incorporate into the workplace.

Social Media For Physicians

Using social media is a great way to market your practice.


Probably one of the fastest growing social media tools for physicians, Doximity is quickly becoming the hub for medical professionals. This networking site is a great way to connect with former classmates, future coworkers, and potential employers. Similar to LinkedIn, with Doximity you’ll be able to interact with those in the same profession as well as get tips and tricks from your peers. If a new medication or procedure hits the market, you’ll be able to use social media to stay in the loop.


Speaking of LinkedIn, if you want to connect with other healthcare professionals, the 2003 social media outlet should be at the top of your list. When you think of social media for physicians, you should think of LinkedIn. This polished, user-friendly social media site allows you to connect with peers and employers, as well as join groups that feature like-minded professionals who will post a variety of articles related to the health profession.


DailyRounds is a great way for your practice to interact with one another practice, share knowledge and research findings, and access an extensive drug database. Similar to Slack, which is used in professional settings, DailyRounds is catered towards medical facilities that are looking to remain connected. Doctors can use DailyRounds to exchange wisdom, upload and view medical case files, and access a drug database. You can also chitchat and network on the desktop or through iOS and Android apps. This is a great social media tool for physicians so you can keep up-to-date on information and keep the lines of communication open with other practices and physicians in the industry.


Really? Youtube? Yes, in fact, many physicians are using Youtube as a way to teach new physicians as well as promote themselves in the social media realm. In addition to educating and reassuring existing patients, a YouTube channel can also bring new clients to your door. Using video clips, you can explain illnesses, perform exercises, or demonstrate early detection techniques. You’re a professional, so make sure you’re investing in professional-grade equipment so you can make videos that look clean and crisp. Social media for physicians is a great way to show off your skills while growing your online presence.


Similar to Doximity, Sermo is another social media for physicians designed to connect healthcare professionals all across the globe. The goal is medical crowdsourcing, like a Quora for doctors. You can ask real-life medical questions and get real-life answers from hundreds of your peers. However, one way that Sermo is better than Quora is that it only for physicians and you can ask questions anonymously. This is a great way to help other physicians as well as get advice and input from literally thousands of other healthcare professionals around the world. With Sermo, your current staff grows exponentially and will help you provide the best possible care.


Having trouble keeping track of all these new social media platforms? Luckily, with Hootsuite, you can keep track of all your social media on one site. With Hootsuite you can keep track of various social media profile and even see the growth and engagement rate of your accounts.

Note: While we still don’t recommend that you spend a large portion of time on social media, there are still many ways to use it to your advantage. As always, the patient comes first, so make sure you’re giving them your full and undivided attention at all times.

So, there you have it our list of social media for physicians. What social media platforms are you using? Which do you find the most helpful? Let us know in the comments section below!

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How To Social Media For Pharma Companies | Best Tips To Use Social Media For Pharma

How To Social Media For Pharma Companies | Best Tips To Use Social Media For Pharma | Social Media and Healthcare |

Everyone has well adapted to the social media both in their professional and personal lives in a verity of ways. Sure, there are other marketing methods but nothing really can replace the social media marketing. The amount of audience you can engage with, customer interactions etc. are some of the benefits that you get while using social media marketing techniques. But it is very important to use it in the right way, therefore, here we will discuss the best tips to use this type of marketing to avail the maximum benefits.

  • You can play safe and smart by switching to be more active in the B2c social media conversions. Pharmaceutical companies should improve their practices to be good at communicating at an enterprise level without risking their regulatory non-compliance. Most of the companies benefit by this doing only.
  • You can also enhance your benefits and profits by extending the customer service to the more social media channels. These days, people look for the platforms where they can contact them directly and instantly. Therefore, by extending your reach you can get more potential customers.
  • Most of the social media platforms offer customer service tools such as messengers, quick replies etc. to provide better user experience. If you own a pharma company then it is important for you to leverage these channels to get the maximum benefits in terms of everything.
  • You need to constantly monitor all your social media accounts and platforms to keep a regular check on your performance. You can also interlink your social media profiles to get better results and better potential customers on a daily basis.

What are the benefits of using Social Media Marketing for Pharma Companies?

There are plenty of benefits of using Social Media Marketing not only for the Pharma companies but for every online business. Social media marketing has really grown a lot in the recent years because of the variety of reasons. Here we will let you know the various perks of using this type of online marketing for your Pharma company.

  1. With the best social media marketing services, you will get better brand recognition than any other marketing method.
  2. The companies that engage in the social media marketing gets more loyal and potential customers as compared to any other offline marketing method.
  3. As you will get more traffic, the chances of conversions also get increased. You get more leads and conversions the moment you start putting efforts on the social media. Your business gets higher conversion rates than usual.
  4. Your Pharma company will get higher brand authority and higher credibility.
  5. Social media marketing services are cost- effective. This means you will get way better results than offline marketing in an affordable rate.


Social media marketing has not only made the user’s life easy but also the companies that crave for promoting their business on a larger scale. But using it incorrectly can get you nowhere. Aforementioned are the best tips for you to use them in the right way. I hope this might have been useful for you in some way. So, go ahead and use these tips to enhance your Pharma business right now.

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Here's how social media can boost physician hiring efforts

Here's how social media can boost physician hiring efforts | Social Media and Healthcare |

Ten months after starting a search to replace a retiring colleague, internist Robert Olson, MD, has conducted just three interviews to fill the position, a far lower number than he expected.

Olson, an internist and president of Associated Physicians in Madison, Wisconsin, is turning to social media as one way to broaden his practice’s reach with candidates.

Social media is becoming more common in physician recruiting, particularly among large practices, experts say. Some practices are hiring staff to manage the efforts, while others increasingly expect a social media effort from outside recruiters. By getting beyond online job boards and recruiter cold calls, they hope to appeal to candidates even before serious job hunting begins.

So far, Olson isn’t convinced social recruiting will lead to faster hires, but he’s willing to give it a try. “It does seem to be the way younger physicians communicate and interact,” he says. 

The practice has added a “work here” page to its Facebook account, which lists current job openings, and is looking at ways to add more employment content, says Terri Carufel-Wert, RN, director of clinical operations for the practice. The group also is mulling paid listings on social sites, including Doximity, in addition to listings on job boards it participates in through a recruiter.

Long recruiting times and physician shortages are the big drivers behind the rise of social media’s use in recruiting, says Helena Farabella, chairwoman of the advisory board for the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management. 

“It’s slim pickings right now” for practices searching for candidates, says Farabella, an internal medicine office manager in Rockledge, Pennsylvania. “Practices have to get more creative and open up the wallet,” she says, referring to the costs associated with maintaining an online presence.

In a March 2017 report, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projected a shortage of up to 104,900 U.S. physicians by 2030, including up to 43,100 primary care doctors. While demand for doctors is growing due to expanded coverage and an aging population, doctors themselves are getting older and retiring: more than a third are now 55 or older, and more than a third will be 65 or older within the next decade. 

Creating a social strategy

The trend is spurring some practices to stop waiting for physicians who are actively job searching and instead use social media to cultivate candidates who aren’t necessarily looking but who might be convinced to switch jobs, or physicians who might be in the job market in the future. 

Essentia Health, a Duluth, Minnesota-based health system with 2,100 providers in four states is spending about $300,000 annually on a comprehensive social media and online job board recruiting strategy, says Kris Olson, vice president of physician and professional services.

Olson’s in-house team includes nine recruiters and two full-time equivalent staffers who work exclusively in social media and online research to identify candidates for the roughly 100 physician openings a year that occur through growth, attrition and retirements.

In addition to buying physician lists from vendors, the team has cultivated its own database of 55,000 physicians that the organization sees as good fits, and they keep in touch with those doctors via email and other means, she says.


The social team identifies candidates and maintains a database for recruiters to match with opportunities. “It’s about turning over every rock you can find” to network with physicians through social media, she says. “Traditionally we would hire a retained firm, pay an astronomical amount of money and hope that somebody comes along. This is more of an active approach.”

Essentia has more than 17,000 followers on Facebook and LinkedIn, and includes regular recruiting messages on those sites, as well as on Twitter. It still uses outside search firms when hiring demand outpaces in-house staff resources, she says, and the aggressive approach is getting results. Positions in primary care are getting filled faster than in years past and the team is reaching candidates in specialties, such as rheumatology, that are considered extremely difficult to fill.

“We’re getting better candidates, faster, because of the direct access we have with the database,” Olson says.

Three years ago, Chad Randolph, MBA, then the newly-hired vice president for recruitment for Integrated Rehab Consultants LLC in Chicago, faced the task of recruiting 40 physical medicine physicians within a couple of years. He knew cold calls with outdated lists weren’t going to be successful because he had started his career doing that type of work for recruiting firms.

Instead, he’s been using Doximity to find physiatrists and internists who aren’t looking for new jobs but who want to supplement their incomes by working part-time in skilled nursing facilities as rehabilitation doctors. By offering lists of licensed physicians that can be broken into geographic and sub-specialty areas, for example, Doximity claims to offer prospective employers a chance to probe beyond just physicians who are in the job market.

“It allows me to target physiatrists easily and they feel comfortable responding without worrying about having hundreds of recruiters suddenly pitching jobs they aren’t remotely interested in,” Randolph says, referring to the frequent complaints from doctors who are swamped with messages from recruiters after posting a resume to an online job board or physician database. 

Doximity charges about $900 per month for employer subscriptions to its network, says Taylor Carroll, senior director of client success and operations at Doximity. That’s less than the typical traditional per-physician recruiting cost, but doesn’t include other social media or other general recruiting costs practices might incur even with a social hiring strategy. Total costs for building a complete social media hiring strategy can vary widely.

And while younger physicians account for a significant portion of social recruiting, they aren’t the only candidates responding to these overtures, experts say.

Before he started job hunting recently, Dallas-area primary care practitioner Bradley Musser, MD hung onto a recruiter message he received through his LinkedIn account. When he began looking for jobs in his area in earnest, he reached out to that recruiter, who led him to his current job. While primary care practices nationally are reporting difficulty hiring, openings in more desirable urban markets are rare, so having a proactive social profile helps, he says.

Standing out

Maximizing a practice’s digital footprint, from mobile to social media, means getting the basics right, experts say.

“If social media is already part of your culture, it can be a great recruiting tool, but to just turn a switch and have it work well is unlikely,” says Travis Singleton, senior vice president for Irving, Texas-based recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins & Associates.

As practices begin to build a more robust online and social presence, it’s important for them to keep the little things in mind, he adds. If practices want to blast emails to physicians who have visited their websites or joined their online communities, for example, they need to make sure the messages are optimized for mobile devices so they can be read easily on smartphones.

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4 Digital Health Trends in Global Clinical Trial Management

4 Digital Health Trends in Global Clinical Trial Management | Social Media and Healthcare |

While certain parts of the world are more connected than others, the growing use of technology for health information purposes has become a worldwide phenomenon. “Digital health” has been a buzzword in global clinical trial management for years—encompassing everything from mobile health (mHealth), health information technology (HIT), wearable devices, telehealth and telemedicine, and personalized medicine—but only now are healthcare providers moving from experimentation to fully operational deployments.

While the paperless trial era is not yet in full swing, it won’t be long before paper processes for data capture, labeling, global clinical trial recruiting, regulatory compliance, translation, and internal centralization are phased out. Meanwhile, what tools can the industry expect to take advantage of this year and beyond?

  1.      Social media

Social media has become a ubiquitous part of all aspects of daily life, not excluding clinical trials. In addition to setting up recruitment websites, trial sponsors and CROs are increasingly using social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter as recruiting tools and vehicles for providing educational information to trial participants and other patient communities.

As a platform for educational content, the importance of social media—especially to the millennial generation—can’t be overlooked. According to PwC, 40 percent of consumers say social media content affects the way they manage their health, and 90 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds would trust medical information shared by their peers.

  1.      Apps

Also used for global clinical trial recruiting or to capture data, apps and their compatible mobile devices (including tablets and smartphones) are becoming integral to clinical trial processes. For example, technology companies are developing apps for electronic labeling of investigational medicines, using QR codes that can be scanned to convey instructions for use.

Widespread adoption of mobile devices is also helping to collect patient-reported outcomes (PROs)—an increasingly important endpoint in clinical trial design—and opening up new channels of communication between doctors and patients. Instead of making an appointment to see their physician, patients in remote locations can use their smartphones to initiate e-consultations. Pharma and biotech companies, too, can use specialized apps to administer patient questionnaires and remind patients about scheduled trial site visits.

  1.      Wearable devices

In an increasingly “always-on” environment, the worldwide adoption of wearable devices is expected to jump from 325 million in 2016 to about 830 million in 2020. The popularity of Fitbits and other wearables has exploded, helping patients monitor their blood pressure, glucose levels, and other risk factors, while also facilitating physician access to information about symptoms, disease patterns, and adverse events.

Experts suggest wearables have enormous cost-saving potential, as they motivate users to take more control over their health and can help curb unhealthy lifestyles that lead to chronic conditions. Even more exciting, wearable tech is already able to detect serious medical conditions.

  1.       Companion diagnostic devices

Much like the paperless era, the personalized medicine revolution has yet to fully take hold. However, the pharmaceutical industry and research committees are clearly moving in that direction—and advanced analytics may play a key role.

Technology companies are developing in vitro companion diagnostic devices that pharma companies can use to target specific diseases based on patients’ personalized genomic profiles. Diagnostic tests can help healthcare providers weigh a product’s benefits and risks, may also be helpful for data-gathering purposes, and thus may encourage drug companies and regulatory bodies to share data.

The Compliance Factor

While we can’t know for sure which new technologies will be accepted as the norm for global clinical trial recruiting and management—especially those in early development or yet to be invented—these advances are expected to make clinical trials more efficient and possibly shorten drug development timelines.

Of course, the collection, use, and exchange of personal data raises significant concerns about data storage, security, and privacy. If they have not already done so, life sciences companies handling sensitive personal information will need to safeguard patient data and ensure global clinical trial compliance with privacy laws of relevant markets.

The debate, now and in the near future, is how compliance will affect the adoption of new technologies—and whether pharma companies are prepared to overcome regulatory pitfalls quickly to adopt innovations before their competitors do.

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Use of WhatsApp in NHS 'widespread', say doctors

Use of WhatsApp in NHS 'widespread', say doctors | Social Media and Healthcare |

Doctors and nurses are using WhatsApp and Snapchat to share information about patients "across the NHS", health professionals have told the BBC.

GP Alisdair MacNair said he was aware of a number of medical groups using WhatsApp to discuss patients.

Use of internet-based messaging apps to send patient information is banned under current NHS guidelines.

NHS England told the BBC that it had no comment on the matter.

Dr MacNair said: "I have also seen chat on Facebook groups that sails pretty close to the wind in terms of discussing medical information.

"I've definitely seen stuff which is one step away from being patient identifying.

"I'm very wary of going near anything like that because of the risk of breaching data laws, but it would appear others don't seem to be aware of the risks."

The healthcare body needed to act swiftly to address the issue, or potentially face huge fines for data breaches, said Forrester analyst Kate McCarthy.

She likened current practices to the "wild west", adding that the NHS was "incredibly far behind" in the adoption of digital sharing systems.

"I am empathetic with doctors because there is a need and desire among healthcare professionals to share this information and the fact that nothing exists for them to to do so is a huge problem," she said.

"But that doesn't make it OK to share patient data on Snapchat.

"The reality is that doctors are responding to the inadequacy of what the NHS is providing.

"They are creatively trying to find better ways to provide care, but they are using non-compliant tools."

Quick and easy

The way that the UK's health service looks after data is in the spotlight following an Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) investigation into how 1.6 million patient records were shared with Google's DeepMind.

The artificial intelligence company said it wanted to develop an app to alert doctors and nurses about patients at risk of kidney injury.

The ICO found that the NHS had been in breach of data laws in the way it had allowed DeepMind to access the records.

A subsequent report from an independent panel set up by DeepMind to assess its work suggested that the NHS's use of technology was in a dire state.

It said it was the UK's largest purchaser of fax machines, adding that was a "dubious" position to hold.

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage captionThe NHS is "incredibly far behind" in adopting digital sharing technologies, one analyst has said

Georgie Gould, a junior doctor who last year conducted her own study of how doctors were communicating, found 30% of surgeons at St Peter's Hospital in Chertsey, Surrey, were using WhatsApp as part of their day-to-day communication.

It bears out similar findings published in the British Medical Journal, which found that of 2,000 doctors across five hospitals, a third were using web-based apps to send clinical information.

An NHS consultant trauma surgeon, who did not wish to be named, told the BBC: "We use WhatsApp because it's the quickest and easiest way to communicate with a whole team or group of clinicians.

"So, if you're responding to a major incident, you can have the whole team involved and see what's coming [in terms of patient injuries] so teams can be ready."

"It can also be really helpful for junior clinicians to communicate with senior colleagues - send images of X-rays and get quick advice on the best course of action.

"However, we only use initials or bed number information, we don't identify patients."

HIV status

According to NHS England's guidelines, the use of WhatsApp is strictly banned for the purposes of sending patient data.

Instead, doctors are required to contact each other by pager or fax.

"The process is lengthy," said Dr Gould.

"If you want to send images, you have to fill in a form and give it in by hand."

Contacting colleagues by pager - which involves locating a landline, dialling a four-digit number and waiting for a reply - was equally cumbersome, she said.

Dr Gould said clearer guidelines could solve the problem.

She said: "Most doctors know that it is not OK to use full names, but is initials OK?

"Is it OK to say, 'The lady in Bed 2 is running a temperature'?

Image copyrightEPAImage captionUsing apps such as WhatsApp to discuss medical information is banned in the NHS

"The benefits of WhatsApp go beyond communication, it is about connecting teams and reducing hierarchies.

"I think that the problems of it could be easily solved without throwing huge amounts of money at it.

"It needs a separate app for medical conversations, with its own password," she said.

Dr Felix Jackson, who runs MedCrowd, a digital messaging service for health workers, told the BBC he saw use of WhatsApp while he was working as an anaesthetist.

"Such platforms are used extensively, but it is against the law," he said.

Anonymising data meant doctors might "just about get away with it", he added, but that would not continue forever.

"No major error has come to light yet, but it is only a matter of time before a senior doctor leaves his or her phone on the train and someone gets hold of the all the conversations about patients and suddenly someone's HIV status is made public," he said.

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8 Ways to Improve Healthcare Email Marketing 

8 Ways to Improve Healthcare Email Marketing  | Social Media and Healthcare |

According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Demand Metric surveys of US marketers, email had a median ROI of 122 percent in 2016. By the end of 2017, the number of email users will rise to 244.5 million. This statistic in itself is sufficient to highlight the importance of email marketing. Thus, it is imperative to utilize the power of email marketing to grow your practice.


Here are some tips on conducting an effective healthcare email marketing campaign:

Catchy subject line

The most crucial thing for an email is to have the correct subject line. The instant decision of marking the email as spam or opening and reading the email depends largely on the subject line. It should be specific enough to catch the receiver's attention and be safe from getting dumped in the spam folder. Think of the best way to appeal when finalizing the subject line. Don't hesitate to display your intensions with words like "Sorry," "Congratulations," or "Welcome." The subject line should not be too long or too short. Use call to action phrases like "Get it now," "Hurry," "Last chance," "Save up to," and "Still time," to increase your email open rate.


Reports say that personalized emails receive 27 percent higher click rates and 11 percent higher open rates than non-personalized emails.

But, personalization does not offer positive results all the time. Thus, avoid sending personalized emails to people who are not your existing patients. Emailing too frequently will alienate consumers. For most people, personalized healthcare emails show unwarranted familiarity that annoys them and leads to an increased number of unsubscribes.

Rather than using people's names, you can segment the email marketing list of customers according to gender or age. This segregation will help send content to the relevant audience. For instance, a campaign launched for women's health should only be sent to women.

Content clarity

Your healthcare email campaign should be precise, clear, and communicate your service in the most concise way possible.

Lucid, simple text offers better understanding of content to a layman. Lucidity and simplicity are key factors that lead to additional clicks and a higher open rate. In today's world where everything is replaced with images and info graphics, it is best to have minimal text because "a picture is worth a thousand words."

Creative design

If content is not designed creatively, it will go to waste. None of us like monotony. Whether it's vibrant or subtle, the design should be in sync with the message of your healthcare campaign. Creative designs help you spotlight the offer that's being promoted in the email.

Clear Instructions

An email should be concise but structured so that the reader understands what to do next. For all process-oriented messages, an email should have necessary steps mentioned clearly to help the customer reach the described destination.

For example, if you are launching an email campaign to convince a consumer to subscribe to your healthcare YouTube channel or follow you on social media, the email should display the steps with images. Provide a call to action button that takes the reader to your YouTube channel or social media page where they can subscribe to videos and posts.  

Make consumers feel special

It's good to work on acquiring new patients, but you also need to take time for your existing patients, who provide reviews to your service and do word-of-mouth marketing for you. You need to make them feel special and above any other patient for the loyalty and trust they show by continuing business with you. In addition to health tips, offer them something extra, such as a discount, free visit, etc. These acts of appreciation build trust and establish long-term relationships. This will make your existing patients bring their family and friends to you and the new patients will want to establish long-term relationships with you for such benefits.

Compatible on all devices

Most people prefer checking emails on their mobile phones. In 2016, according to a survey, emails opened on mobile devices were 54 percent, webmail ranked second with 30 percent and desktop email opens dropped to 16 percent. Thus, your email design should be readable on any device, especially mobile phones. Mobile phones allow people to stay in touch with the internet all the time and access their email or social media accounts on-the-go. So, even if a consumer is not a frequent searcher of healthcare services, they can find you whenever they need to.

Sending frequency

Frequency is one of the most important factors of your healthcare email marketing campaign. Over-mailing leads to a high level of unsubscribes, if not numerically then emotionally. The recipients will ignore the email if it isn't relatable. Conversely, not sending enough will reduce opportunities to promote your healthcare services, inform patients about what's new in healthcare, and sell products. On average, you should send a minimum of six to eight emails per month. Additionally, don't miss opportunities for launching email campaigns during holidays and other major events.

Remember, emails should be interesting and helpful for the reader and concise at the same time. A couple of irrelevant emails can annoy the receiver and they can mark you as a spammer.

Manish Chauhan is Digital Marketing Manager at myPracticeReputation which is an easy-to-use reputation management solution for physicians to help monitor, protect and promote their medical practices at all times in the simplest way possible.

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The Future of Consumer Healthcare: From Diagnostics to Delivery 

The Future of Consumer Healthcare: From Diagnostics to Delivery  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Similar to other sectors of the consumer goods industry, the future of Consumer Healthcare is changing as consumers adjust the way they make their purchasing decisions. As Millennials and Generation Z consumers demand more personalized experiences, new technologies and social media have become exceedingly important to how patients interact with health products. From diagnostics to delivery, new consumer preferences have motivated companies to compete by changing product bundles, branding strategies, and supply channels. Instead of casually perusing the shelves of local drug stores, consumers come armed with research, ready with specific queries for pharmacists.  To keep pace with these growing expectations, Consumer Healthcare companies must consider the impacts telemedicine, social media, and e-commerce will have on the buyer journey as the digital revolution continues.

Informed Consumers Turn to Telemedicine

When they become aware of a problem, consumers are now using online resources to self-diagnose and actively seek medical attention.  For this reason, telemedicine has become increasingly popular among consumers across all dynamics. Research shows that virtual doctors are often consulted for non-emergent visits such as cold, flu, earaches, and skin rashes.  This trend can have a positive effect on Consumer Healthcare companies, as many of these virtual diagnoses can lead patients to seek over the counter treatments. A recent Wall Street Journal article stated that web companies such as Teladoc, Doctor on Demand and American Well expect to host at least 1.2 million visits in 2017, which is a 20% increase over 2016.

Brand-Consumer Interaction has Shifted to Social Media

Not only are consumers now able to directly engage with physicians via online services, they can also engage directly with healthcare brands to better inform their purchasing decisions.  Social media has essentially created a “market of one,” as companies can interact with consumers on a one-on-one basis. Communities of patients are coming together and congregating in Facebook groups to learn about rare diseases and treatment options.   Consumers are using social media to ask questions about dosage, submit complaints, and ask for coupons or where they can purchase products. Instead of traditional pharmacists behind the counter, social media managers for these brands are now responding directly to consumers to address these types of questions and concerns.

E-commerce has Changed the Nature of Purchasing

Lastly, the digital revolution, and notably e-commerce, is changing how consumer healthcare products are purchased. With a wealth of information accessible online, nothing can prevent consumers from doing their complete due diligence. Consumers can easily research desired products on various company websites including big players like Walmart, Target and Amazon to find, compare, and purchase exactly what they want.  An additional feature e-commerce offers, which may convert more traditional shoppers to online, is the ability to set up recurring orders.  For some consumer healthcare categories (such as allergy, feminine health, or vitamins), the ability to set up recurring orderings could increase brand loyalty and customer retention rates.

Preparing for the Future of Consumer Healthcare

As the industry evolves, consumer healthcare manufacturers must also reconsider various established business processes, especially product lifecycle management.  In the blog,  The Reasons to Review Your Consumer Health & OTC Product Launch Processes, an end-to-end new product launch can cost a manufacturer up to $630 million and the way companies engage consumers is shifting to an online model. As this shift occurs, the way you position yourself to your consumers will be critical to customer acquisition.  When assessing your marketing campaigns there are multiple new factors to consider such as the usage of telemedicine as a viable vehicle for advertising, how consumers are engaging with your products on social media, or how influencers come into the mix.  All of these elements need to be considered as you plan your marketing campaign for a new product and as your consider retiring SKUs. Products that would not survive in a traditional channel distribution model may be successful in an e-commerce strategy.

As the retail revolution continues, and the future of consumer healthcare will include new challenges from the digital revolution and manufacturers will need to continue to assess and adjust their new product commercialization strategy to optimize their significant R&D investment into new products.

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The Evolving Role of Digital Marketing in Healthcare 

The Evolving Role of Digital Marketing in Healthcare  | Social Media and Healthcare |

The healthcare industry is progressive in many ways, but marketing strategy tends to lag behind other consumer-centric industries. Why? With closely monitored HIPPA regulations, including how patient data is used, and the FDA constraining marketing efforts, it’s often tough for healthcare to keep up with other industries’ marketing innovations. Additionally, marketing strategy is not the priority in healthcare – patient care outcomes is (and rightfully so).

That being said, a Deloitte study found that 52 percent of consumers search online for information about treatment options or more generally to learn about health concerns or care providers. According to the same study, consumers’ use of social media for health purposes also rose from 18 percent to 21 percent between 2013 and 2015.

It has become clear that consumers and patients are taking advantage of online resources both during initial research and ongoing care – thus, it is increasingly important that organizations take advantage of digital compliance marketing to boost patient engagement and, ultimately, care outcomes.

Let’s review how healthcare marketing has evolved and how digital marketing can benefit the industry:

The Evolution of Healthcare Marketing

In the past, healthcare marketing has focused on traditional tactics such as print, TV, radio, and direct mail. Marketers would launch campaigns and hope for the best, unable to make real-time adjustments once the ads were published.

Hospitals also had an easier time acquiring patients because the population was, in general, less proactive about their health. Plus, healthcare costs were much lower than they are now, so patients did not reject or delay procedures based on cost, as happens presently. hospitals often had enough patient inflow.

Today’s healthcare consumer is much different than the healthcare consumer of the past. Patients are healthier, live longer, and rely on healthcare organizations less. Today’s patients are also able to do extensive research online, which means they are more particular about the services they receive.

As Becker’s Hospital Review explains, “Hospitals are dealing with consumers who are remarkably smart, demanding transparency and two-way communication from their healthcare providers.” To appeal to this these consumers, healthcare marketers need to adopt digital marketing tactics.

Driving Success with Digital Marketing in Healthcare

Let’s look at a few digital marketing strategies to improve patient engagement and organizational success.

Optimize for Search

According to a Think With Google Study, search engines drive three times as many visitors to hospital websites than other sources. The study also found that 44 percent of patients who research hospitals on a mobile device end up scheduling an appointment. As a result of consumers’ extensive use of search engines to find facilities or inquire about their health, healthcare marketers should keep search engines in mind when they optimize their digital presence.

Healthcare marketers can help search engines recognize and rank content by tagging a page with relevant keywords, writing informative page descriptions, and creating strategic HTML titles, among other techniques. This lays the groundwork for search engines to place your pages front and center when a relevant consumer searches for a pertinent health topic.


Create Effective Inbound Content with CRMs

The goal of inbound marketing is to provide prospects with the right content at the right time. Ultimately, earning users’ attention with great content can capture more prospects and produce better results. Successful marketers can use healthcare CRMs (HCRM) to aggregate patient data from a variety of sources and produce data-backed insights that inform future engagement strategies.

Healthcare marketers can also use a HCRM in conjunction with marketing automation to build and deploy multichannel tactics including email, direct mail, social and SMS, and then track the performance of these campaigns through a single dashboard.

Take the following example:

Say the marketing team comes across a new target: a male in his early 50’s who has previously been a patient at their health system. Because this health system has a healthcare CRM in place, predictive models can leverage information from previous interactions with their facility.

From the HCRM, marketing sees he scores highly in multiple predictive models, and as a result has a high propensity to be a potential candidate for hip surgery. The HCRM also stores his communication preferences (Email, in this case), and that it has been a few months since he came in for an appointment. This can trigger an educational email highlighting the benefits of hip surgery and what sort of recovery time to expect. The patient, after receiving this email, decides to make an appointment to come into the facility to learn more and see whether he is a good candidate.

In this example, the marketing team takes advantage of the healthcare CRM to create targeted outreach that reaches the patient on the right channels. They contacted the patient at the right time with the right content, and through the right channels. As a result, the health system reactivated a patient.

Engage via Social Media

Social media can be used to engage with patients, support physicians, and improve population health outcomes. Healthcare social media marketing strategies may include participating in discussions, networking, and promoting information about population health.

A healthy social media presence also helps attract patients. A recent study found that 57 percent of consumers’ decisions to receive treatment at a healthcare facility are strongly influenced by that provider’s social media connections, showing that patients trust healthcare organizations that engage online.

Physicians can also use social media networks to collaborate, share knowledge, and work together – thus potentially improve care outcomes.

Track ROI of Digital Campaigns

A substantial benefit of digital marketing is the ability to track and attribute results to specific campaigns and outreach efforts. For healthcare marketers, this is critical to understand what is working, what needs to be optimized, and how to use marketing budgets efficiently for the best possible results.

Before adopting digital marketing strategies, healthcare marketers would run marketing campaigns and hope for results. Now, healthcare marketers can build campaigns using past data and alter campaigns in real-time if they are not producing ideal results.

In addition to aggregating and analyzing patient data, a healthcare CRM also tracks and reports marketing campaign results. This way, healthcare marketers can attribute clinical and financial success to specific campaigns and showcase the value of their department.


Final Thoughts

Digital marketing has helped the healthcare industry evolve. By using search engines as a tool, creating targeted outreach with great content, engaging patients on social media, and taking advantage of reporting data, patient engagement and loyalty are improved, as well as marketing’s ability to confidently prove their value to the C-suite.

Still a relatively new aspect of healthcare marketing, digital marketing has already fundamentally changed the way healthcare marketers operate. As digital marketing continues to grow and evolve, the healthcare marketing industry will surely follow.

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5 Healthcare Marketing Strategies & Tips That Will Move the Needle 

5 Healthcare Marketing Strategies & Tips That Will Move the Needle  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Coming from a background in healthcare, I understand the circumstances that can overrule the urgency of marketing strategy success. Sometimes the biggest hurdle is simple “Where do I start?”

A few common mistakes medical professionals make online are lack of contact information, clinic and staff information, and reviews.

Avoid these needle-moving mistakes by implementing a few tips into your marketing strategy.

1. Your Website

Start by increasing the effectiveness of your medical website. The main purpose of your site is to attract and inform patients.

A few proven elements of high-converting healthcare sites are:

  • Simple layout and design
  • Easy navigation
  • Multiple forms of contact
  • Social media links
  • FAQ page
  • Photos/videos/graphics of the clinic and staff

One of my favorite designs is from Northwestern Medicine. Its design is simple, it displays graphics, and it’s easy to navigate.

Carefully planning your healthcare website around the needs of your users will ensure that you will end up with a website that satisfy both your visitors needs and achieve your business objectives.

2. Effective Marketing Copy

As a medical professional, the words used in your marketing are incredibly important. This applies to everything from website copy to printed collateral to social media posts.

Your messaging must reflect your brand and promote your services. If your messaging dilutes your message, then your marketing efforts will suffer.

One of my favorite campaigns is from Dana-Farber Brigham & Women’s Cancer Center –  “Right now you may have cancer. But what your cancer doesn’t know is – You Have Us.”

This is an incredible example of how powerful copy can inspire patients to take part in a brand’s marketing. Many women posted videos and responses to this team-forming slogan.

3. Bond with Your Target Audience

To create loyal patients, you need to do more than offer outstanding service. You also need to use service marketing strategies for health to connect with patients online. Whether it.s online, on a blog, or on social media, make the connection to your audience that shines light on your expertise.

Gear topics toward your local audience. A few ideas that patients respond positively to are:

  • Explanations of the services with a positive spin on treatments.
  • Opportunities for patient feedback.
  • Staff “behind the scenes” experiences.

4. Leverage Your Social Media Pages to Your Advantage

Social media is great for driving traffic to your website and getting in front of with people who may be interested in your services. Whether you’re a dentist, a physical therapist, or a surgeon, social media is a great outlet to connect with potential patients. Most healthcare professionals have some type of social media presence, but few of them leverage it for attracting new patients.

Aside from the latest news about the hospital, Le Bonheur Children Hospital’s Facebook page contains relatable family stories and parenting advice. This not only provides great insight on the hospital, but also creates a support community for patients during their road to recovery.

Social media management can be time-consuming, but it’s a lot easier if you use some helpful tools. JumpCrew offers planning, organizing, and reporting tools through an app and customer portal. For more information, click here.

5. Ramp Up Your Reviews

Social proof is important for any medical practice seeking to gain trust with potential clients. Social proof can include patient testimonials, reviews, and case studies.

One in four patients check online reviews before choosing a physician. Luckily, reviews are something that requires little effort.

One way to showcase your clinic is by getting positive reviews on popular channels such as Facebook, Yelp, and Google+. If your reviews reflect negatively, or you don’t have any reviews at all, the odds are that the patient will choose another practice.

Encouraging patients to leave reviews is simple. Post it on your sign-out sheet, offer incentives, or include a link in your satisfaction surveys. Remember to keep the review process short and simple, letting patients know that writing a review will only take a few minutes of their time.

Incorporating these tips into your marketing strategy can help connect you with your current and potential patients. As hectic as the healthcare business gets, it’s important for physicians to appear as relatable and approachable as possible. Marketing your healthcare business in a welcoming, helpful manner will draw in patients while encouraging them to review your business.

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Why Hospital Leaders Should Cultivate a High Social Media IQ

Why Hospital Leaders Should Cultivate a High Social Media IQ | Social Media and Healthcare |

And four more news items for hospital leaders, practice managers, and other healthcare executives to peruse this week



  • The administrator of a California-based surgery center (and former president and CEO of a West Coast medical center) writes a FierceHealthcare web post as to why he believes hospital and healthcare leaders should develop a high social media IQ. In addition to providing a personal example of the advantages, he outlines factors to consider when forming a social media policy.




  • Becker’s Infection Control & Clinical Quality highlights results from a survey completed by 600-plus hospital leaders that were published in this month’s issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. Among the findings: 94 percent of the respondents stated their facility’s patient safety and quality plan was shared with them, and 55 percent of those who took the survey said they measure the execution of their quality and patient safety dashboard against others in the industry at every meeting.












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3 Steps to Optimizing Business Listings for Your Physicians, Clinics and Locations

3 Steps to Optimizing Business Listings for Your Physicians, Clinics and Locations | Social Media and Healthcare |

Looking for a new doctor? What’s your first step?

If you’re like most people, you go online and do a search — Pew Research reports 77 percent of online health seekers start online with Google or other major search engines. And, once the results come up, several things may factor into your decision:

  • Is the doctor in your network?
  • How close is the clinic or office?
  • Does the doctor have good ratings and reviews?

If the doctor meets these criteria, you’re likely to call to schedule an appointment. But what if you call and the number is wrong, or they tell you the physician you selected is no longer at that location? Bad initial patient experiences such as these will send you scrolling down the results page for another option.

That’s why having accurate business listings are essential. But for large health systems with hundreds or even thousands of affiliate doctors and physicians, this can be an extremely complicated task.

Here are three essential strategies to ensure your doctors and facilities have complete, high-ranking business listings that will set them apart from competing providers.

  1. Claim and audit your listings: First, claim your business listings to verify you’re the owner of a valid business location and authorized to maintain its presence online. Different sites have different claiming processes with unique steps to claiming and verifying listings. An Online Reputation Management platform can help you find and claim all listings associated with your health system or medical group, as well as check all the information on those listings for accuracy and consistency.
  2. Optimize your listings and pages: Once you’ve claimed your listings, you can optimize them by ensuring they’re accurate and complete by adding office hours, photos and other content. It’s important to select the appropriate categories for each doctor and location, to improve the chances of those pages ranking on search results. Moz found proper category association is the third most important factor for being included in Google’s local 3-pack. You can also improve SEO by adding relevant keywords to the title tags, headlines and URLs of your companys’ landing pages.
  3. Focus on the sites that matter most: When optimizing, start with Google. Statista reports over 89 percent of internet searches are completed on this leading site. After Google, move to optimizing listings on healthcare review sites such as Healthgrades and WebMD, as well as Facebook and Yahoo.

Remember, most directories and search engines display ratings and excerpts from online reviews alongside your listings. To ensure your locations and doctors outrank and outshine competitors, it’s essential to have a steady stream of fresh patient reviews that showcase the high level of care they provide.

An online reputation management platform can simplify the process of building review volume with HIPAA-compliant email templates, and by directing patients to the review sites that will give you the most advantage.

Check out our eBook, “Business Listings: The Simple, Low-Cost Way to Acquire New Patients,” to learn more about how online business listings provide a cost-effective, high-impact alternative to spending marketing dollars on media buying and advertising.

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Embracing digital disruption in pharma 

Embracing digital disruption in pharma  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Digital and social media channels are ubiquitous and part of our everyday lives. This digital pervasion is driving change and the pharma industry must adapt to survive.

Video cameras, internet telecommunications, robotic telepresence and smartphones have resulted in individuals starting to control their own health treatments. Online channels and platforms have become the first stop for seeking information and tools to support the management of health conditions.

So, how does a large, complex, procedural-driven business like pharma move quickly, stay innovative and engage patients in this consumer-driven healthcare landscape?

One way is to set up an independent unit to create a smaller, more agile organisation where innovation can thrive. This is what we did at LEO Pharma.

As CEO of that independent unit, I believe we supplement the traditional model of offering medications by providing services and true holistic care. We can help people to become better equipped to cope with their diseases. However, we also face the challenges of wielding big data and health regulations.

The story to date

LEO Innovation Lab was established in 2015 as part of a long-term strategic decision to focus on patients’ needs. The Lab does not develop pharmaceutical products but offers a wide range of digital solutions focused on e-health and add-on devices.

By setting up the LEO Innovation Lab, LEO Pharma is not simply embracing the changes of digital, it is actively placing itself on the frontline of digital innovation in healthcare.

It means a large pharma company can be more agile. Solutions can be brought to market and tested faster, as we grow in short, optimised sprints - every project operates in a 100-day time frame from ideation to beta test.

Through its work in the LEO Innovation Lab, the whole company benefits from better patient communications through patient portals, apps and online communities. From the healthcare provider (HCP) perspective you can enhance, for example, the efficiency of the visit, diagnosis and disease management.

We can also envision vast improvements in diagnostics and adherence. An example of the former would be sensors that measure the time it takes to ingest a drug and send data to the HCP. The latter would be apps that help patients stay alerted with respect to their treatment.

Another important dimension is the collection of real-world data. As a pharma company, LEO’s contact points directly with users have historically been limited, but we can fill that gap with the insights we’re collecting in our digital work at the innovation Lab. This information can be applied in both R&D and sales.

The LEO Innovation Lab also has a flat management approach where everyone is an expert in their area and is able to focus on deliverables without several hierarchical layers, which means we have an accountable culture.

Furthermore, LEO Pharma is owned entirely by the LEO Foundation and has no shareholders so its profits are reinvested in developing new solutions to support the overall mission: to help individuals achieve healthy skin. This unique ownership structure has made it possible to establish LEO Innovation Lab with no profit requirements - just a goal of making a difference to people living with skin conditions.


Three digital developments have been successful because of the establishment of the Innovation Lab.

PsoHappy is a collaboration with The Happiness Research Institute. We have adopted methodologies inspired by the United Nations Happiness Report to explore the impact chronic skin conditions have on well-being. Last year, the project unveiled the world’s first study on happiness and psoriasis, revealing that those living with psoriasis in the UK are up to 24% less happy.

Imagine is a psoriasis tracking app, where users can document how the severity of a psoriasis lesion develops over time. Users are prompted to use the app to take a series of photos of a lesion and to record the level of discomfort each time the lesion is recorded. This documentation can then be used to shed light on the patient’s condition between contact points with the dermatologist.

HelloSkin is the number one online store for emollients, nutrition supplements, accessories and selected over-the-counter products for people living with psoriasis, eczema, acne and dry skin. The project uses scientific research to create transparency and provides guidance for users looking for the right product combination for their skin condition. Alongside selling products, it creates an environment of education and support tailored to the user’s skin condition. This tailored approach fulfils a user need that traditional over-the-counter vendors are currently not addressing. HelloSkin has had 15,000 orders to date and has experienced a 20% month-on-month growth rate in 2017.

All three digital developments have only been successful because of the distinct nature of the LEO Innovation Lab.


Our biggest challenge is to create solutions that really make a difference to people with skin conditions. We also have the same challenges that most companies have - to engage people in the long term at a reasonable cost.

But the major challenge for us - and for anyone else working with data - is to actually put big data to work. The data we are able to collect even at this point can help us improve treatments to the benefit of the patients. In the healthcare sector, there is a myriad of laws and regulations that make this much more difficult than in most other sectors. We need to solve the challenge of being personal and relevant in our offerings while still handling data in accordance with legislation.

Riding the wave of digital disruption

Digital disruption is a term that is used widely in business today. In the world of pharma and healthcare, what it really means is that the structure of our industry and the needs of our patients are now evolving at a much faster rate than they ever have before. The patient journey is changing and with it, the role of the doctor.

People are now gravitating towards a preference for digital relationships with their doctors - it’s more convenient and aligns with the culture of instant gratification that we’re becoming accustomed to. Digital innovation in healthcare is creating more opportunities for patients to drive their own clinical journey, as opposed to revolving around the doctor. This will eventually have broader implications for the world of pharma and healthcare, as we may have to reconsider how we take our products to market.

Digital is changing the face of the earth in almost all areas. It has the potential to enhance and extend many facets of healthcare, in particular, our ability to diagnose, and the possibilities of creating truly holistic care and of course a generation of usable real-world data.

What it won’t change is the need for continued innovation of efficient and efficacious drugs. It may, in fact, increase the need as digital will certainly change the way we can use drugs through individual, targeted healthcare. To us, being able to integrate digital in the way we approach the patient is most certainly crucial to our future success.

Kristian Hart-Hansen is CEO of LEO Innovation Lab

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