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

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

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

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

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

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Online Reputations in Healthcare

Over the past few weeks I have had no fewer than five different conversations on the topic of online reputations in healthcare.

It started with a fun and lively debate with my colleagues at work. There are a few members of the team who are not active on social media and there are others who are extremely active. Those that do not use social media saw it as a narcissistic pastime that has no place in business. Those that use it actively saw it as a place to share ideas, learn new things and connect with people. During the discussion one of the younger members of the team blurted out:

If you aren’t going to get on social media to establish your own reputation then you are essentially letting others define your online persona. Don’t you want to be in control of that?

By coincidence that was the exact line that spurred me to start being more active on social media. Six years ago a colleague of mine said that to me and it didn’t take me long to see the wisdom of her words. Over the years I’ve come to realize that online reputations matter. It matters when considering whether to hire someone, to do business with someone or to even befriend someone.

I mentioned in last week’s blog that I recently switched dentists. One of the criteria I used in selecting a new one was their online reputation and presence. I looked at online reviews of dentists in my area – on Google, on Yelp and on a local business rating site. I focused on any practice that had more than 35 reviews (Why 35? I figured anything less than 35 was either not statistically relevant and too easy to “game” with fake reviews). I think I read over 100 reviews across 10 dental practices.

I also looked to see if any of the dentists themselves were active on social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and even SnapChat. I didn’t find many that were online, but a few were. During my search I did stumble onto the Twitter feed of a dental hygienist. It was an impressive feed – lots of articles posted about how keep teeth white, what foods stain teeth the most, etc. But mixed in with the curated articles were personal comments about how much fun she was having at work. There were quite a few tweets about how supported she felt by her co-workers and how she looked forward to going to work each day. (Sorry for privacy reasons I’m not going to reveal her Twitter handle here).

That hygienist’s social media activity plus the online reviews tipped my decision. I’m now a happy patient at their practice.

For physicians, nurses and care providers, managing their online reputation can be a time-consuming job that has an unclear Return-on-Investment (ROI). A recent JAMA Study, highlighted by Rachel Arndt revealed that in 2014, 60% of patients said online reviews were important when selecting a doctor, yet in 2017 less than a third of doctors had any online reviews. Clearly patients are making choices using criteria other than just online ratings.

I believe it would be a mistake for those in healthcare to ignore their online reputations. A big wave of consumerism in healthcare is upon us and patients WILL BE using ratings/online searches to find providers. Now that patients are shouldering a bigger share of the financial costs of their care, they will begin to take more care (excuse the pun) on who they select as their healthcare professionals. Is it fair to judge someone solely by their online reputation – of course not. HOWEVER, there is so little transparency and standard measures of “good care” in healthcare that there are no real alternative information sources for patients.

Pretend for a moment that you were a patient in a big city looking for an Ear-Nose-and-Throat (ENT) doctor. Like many, you’d probably search Google. Of the 10 practices that appeared, suppose one had a 4.5-star rating and 500 reviews, the next had a 3-star rating and only 10 reviews and the remaining 8 had no rating whatsoever. Would you not gravitate to the 4.5-star rated one? Would you even research the ones with no reviews at all?

Many physicians have complained about the bias that is shown towards negative reviews (some studies put the power of a negative review at 10x that of a positive one). Rightfully so, some physicians say that some reviews are written by patients who had unrealistic expectations in terms of their health outcomes and took their frustrations out by writing a terrible review. Sometimes these jaded patients become social media trolls.

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Social Media and Today's Hospitals

Social Media and Today's Hospitals | Social Media and Healthcare |

When Facebook logged its first likes in 2004, no one was predicting that social networking would become a tool in the practice of medicine. Yet it has. From the revered Mayo Clinic to little-known regional specialty centers, the health care industry is finding that social media helps attract new appointments, generate revenue, and build relationships.

Research published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in 2014 shows that virtually all hospitals in the United States are now using social media in some way.1 This is not an overstatement: 94.4 percent of the 3,371 hospitals reviewed operated a Facebook page, and 50.82 percent had a Twitter account. This study found that private nonprofit and teaching hospitals, typically in large urban areas, are the highest users of social media.

Although individual physicians aren’t using social media at the same rate as hospitals, they are finding it useful. In fact, another 2014 study, this one by MedData Group, found that more than 50 percent of the physicians using social media for work purposes are engaging with peers, marketing the practice, or providing thought leadership for patients.2

Leading the Way

The Mayo Clinic system is a recognized leader in health care industry use of social media.

Lee Aase, Mayo Clinic

Its expertise in using social platforms to connect with patients and build business is so valued that other health care organizations lean on the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN; #Mayo Clinic SMN) for collaborative help. In partnership with Hootsuite, the MCSMN even developed a continuing medical education course to teach medical providers how to create an online presence.3

Lee Aase is the director of Mayo’s Social and Digital Innovation Team, which is staffed by eight media professionals who orchestrate the system’s posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and You Tube. Activity on each outlet is unique, as shown below in the Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ feeds one afternoon in mid-January 2017.

Each of the posts focuses on a particular subject area, ensuring a different experience for each media outlet user. The day’s topic selections can be influenced by the request of a Mayo department seeking more publicity (the sports medicine department in the Twitter feed), relevant national news stories (cervical cancer awareness month in the Google+ post), or the opening of a new hospital wing (the fifth floor of the Luther Building in the Facebook post). No matter the content decision, its goal is the same: to instill appreciation for Mayo Clinic and its resources.

In an interview, Aase pointed out that today’s widespread use of social media by Mayo Clinic is in keeping with its history. “Our reputation was made through word of mouth,” he said, “and that is just as true today as it was 100-plus years ago. Patients would come to Mayo Clinic because a friend recommended us. Now, social media provides ways for people to share the same types of recommendations.”

“Just Like Talking to a Patient”

Perhaps the most vivid examples of such recommendations are found on the Mayo Clinic’s YouTube channel, which features videos capturing everything from a patient’s first reaction to his restored sight via a bionic eye to the precise symptom presentation of a baby with whooping cough. No doubt thousands of that video’s million-plus views were by frantic parents trying to determine whether their infant’s bark-like sounds warranted a trip to the local ER.

One of the most powerful applications of Mayo Clinic’s YouTube channel is its line of videos for patients that feature staff physicians and other clinicians. These videos can offer information and encouragement to a patient trying to understand his or her rare diagnosis, reinforce the education provided during a complex office visit, or calm a patient’s unease before a surgical procedure by providing a step-by-step visual explanation of it.

Take, for example, the diagnosis of ventricular tachycardia, a condition that causes the heart to beat faster than normal. It can be treated with medication, surgery, or both. To a patient receiving this diagnosis after experiencing rapid heart activity, the term alone sounds ominous. By directing a newly diagnosed patient to a YouTube video accessible in the comfort of home, Mayo Clinic can repeat the information presented at the treating physician’s office. The video presentation is likely to be better understood because it is more digestible. The Mayo Clinic’s YouTube channel features videos on ventricular tachycardia and many other topics.

The educational application of social media is particularly appealing to busy physicians. They typically don’t have the time to prepare lengthy written material — but they’re more than happy to talk about what they know and what they can do for patients.

“For many doctors, it all comes down to time. That’s where the capturing of video is so helpful,” Aase said. “We [the communications team] take care of everything. They are happy to share their expertise in a manner that is just like talking to a patient.

“In the videos, we’re looking for them to say the things they say to patients several times a day, only to a broader audience,” Aase continued. “They’re demonstrating their expertise and showing empathy. We book a 15- to 30-minute timeframe and make them at ease. It’s a much more efficient use of time, and it is more impactful and genuine.”

Mayo’s Social and Digital Innovation staff uses smartphones and consumer-grade cameras to shoot video, then edits and loads to appropriate channels. As physicians and other Mayo Clinic staff members have been exposed to the value of social media via these video sessions, more are requesting that the team help them “take control of their identity” on LinkedIn and Twitter, Aase said. He and his staff regularly coach interested physicians in how to beef up their profiles across platforms.

Setting Ground Rules

In an age when a Twitter rant can get you fired, it’s important for all employers to have clear policies for social media usage. This is especially true in the health care industry, where privacy of information is sacrosanct. The Mayo Clinic developed guidelines for employees’ social media activity, and many other hospitals have followed suit.

The document boils down to common sense and the practice of established medical ethics. “The main thing is that they should stick to talking about what they know and what they do,” Aase said.

“No one should practice medicine online. We advise them to elevate it out to general terms, such as ‘a patient with these symptoms may have this condition, and these are the standard options for treatment.’ This highlights their understanding and avoids looking like they are giving a prescription to a patient.”

Smaller Markets

Granted, most hospitals don’t have the size or patient reach of the Mayo Clinic. So what about hospital use of social media in smaller settings and markets?

In a mid-sized or small city, the approach can be more streamlined and personal. The emphasis may also be on community relationships and trust more than branding on a large scale.

Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital (LSSH) in Lafayette, La., is a surgery center owned by 34 physicians in various surgical specialties. The mid-sized city of Lafayette is a competitive market for health care services (nine freestanding hospitals for a population of 124,000), and LSSH distinguishes itself by creating a facility where health care meets hospitality. Liz Hebert is the director of marketing and business development for Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital. Since she was hired in January 2015, she has focused the facility’s social media outreach on Facebook, where she works to build a sense of trust. She automatically feeds the LSSH Facebook posts to the hospital’s Twitter feed.

“I want to show people that we are involved in the community,” she said. “We use Facebook to inform the public about things we are involved in, and to show that we are a trusted resource for information.”

As shown above, Hebert recently used the LSSH Facebook page to promote a community event she organized in conjunction with a new fitness facility. Anyone who saw the page was invited to a free class at a new indoor cycling facility near the hospital.

One of the most effective uses of social media at LSSH is highlighting the community-oriented activities its staff is involved in, Hebert said. The hospital uses its social platforms to feature events like its “31 Days of Giving Back” campaign during the month of December that encouraged random acts of kindness and a spring scavenger hunt that raises money for the local United Way chapter. Other posts report on patient satisfaction surveys and honors received by staff members.

“For me, the most important reason for our hospital to use social media is to develop a level of trust,” Hebert explained. “Even when you are confident in your choice of a surgeon and hospital, you’re still nervous. With our posts, and our day-to-day activities, we try to reduce those fears. We care about the community. We are dedicated to your care. Social media is one important way for us to get that across.”


  1. Griffis HM, Kilaru AS, Werner RM, et al. Use of Social Media Across US Hospitals: Descriptive Analysis of Adoption and Utilization. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2014;16(11):1-11.
  2. Silas R. How Are Physicians Using Social Media? MDigital Citing work contained in the following report by Med Data Group:
  3. Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Social for Healthcare Certificate from Mayo Clinic and Hootsuite.
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Why Branding is Important in Healthcare 

Global health spending is expected to continue and intensify over the next few years. Fueled by the rise in chronic diseases, technical innovations, consumer expectations and an ageing population, demand and spending for health-related services are set to increase.

Forecasts have predicted that global spending on health is expected to increase to $18.28 trillion worldwide by 2040. Increasingly patients and consumers are now influencing this spending and are more selective on where they obtain their healthcare. This has implications on how health marketeers should approach marketing activities.

Multiple Channels

As healthcare is evolving to a consumer centric model, health organisations need to increase their brand’s touchpoints. Achieving success in healthcare branding is all about consistently delivering on a promise of an exceptional patient experience. Online and social media have dramatically increased touchpoints (34% of patients use social media, 46% health portals, 67% search engines).

Positive patient experiences come from having a patient-centric approach to care, which shifts the focus from a condition or diagnosis to the patient. High performing hospitals put their patients first and this creates a delivery system that results in greater efficiency and better patient experiences, this further strengthens the brand.

The table below shows how consumers are learning about their healthcare providers:


Content marketing

According to Gallagher, many patients now turn to Google and social media for the services they want answers and information for, rather than traditional media. However, most of the time, they are faced with websites that just talk about products and services. This is great if you know what you’re looking for, but for people who require more information, it’s not fulfilling their needs.

Whether a patient is seeking out diagnostic information or a family member is looking for supportive tips, healthcare content can be extremely valuable when planned correctly. Therefore, get a branded content plan in place, aim to make this engaging and educational, as well as being sensitive with the type of medical language used. Content is a great way to highlight your knowledge and experience whilst driving more traffic to your website. Sales talk does not build trust in a brand, helpful impartial advice does.

Digital tools

More patients are using digital tools to manage their healthcare needs, often across multiple touchpoints. Studies have shown that 77% of patients use internet searches prior to booking an appointment. Already we are seeing movement in the sector to more digital communications as health leaders are devising new ways to connect with patients. This has removed the barriers of time and distance, bringing a traditionally fragmented industry closer together. Modern healthcare is about connecting people, and making better use of data more accurately and efficiently than ever before.

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Social Media Attitudes 'Conservative' Among Neurologists

Social Media Attitudes 'Conservative' Among Neurologists | Social Media and Healthcare |

Many neurologists who use social media (SM) do so cautiously in both office and personal settings, even when there is no official policy from their centers, a small survey study suggests.

Among the 44 neurologists who responded, 75% of the female SM users reported posting on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram only for personal use; 93% of them said they'd like to see restrictions regarding work use.

In contrast, 56% of the male users posted to these platforms for personal and professional use — and 36% reported that they'd like to have unlimited access to SM in the workplace.

Interestingly, 74% of the respondents did not know of any official institutional policy regarding SM use or said that there was currently nothing in place.

"We found very conservative but telling results," lead author, Ashley Jones, research assistant in the Division of Neurology at St Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, told Medscape Medical News.

Ashley Jones

"Social media was widely used and posting inappropriate content was quite rare," said Jones. "It's good that they're taking a cautious approach in navigating these unknown waters. However, there needs to be more work in educating employees. And legally speaking, I think everybody should have some sort of policy."

She presented the findings here at Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) 2017.

Scrutinized Conduct

Although the ever-increasing growth of social networking "has enhanced communication amongst individuals, it has also provided a forum in which the conduct of its users can be scrutinized by all, including professional peers," write the investigators.

They note that only a few studies have examined neurologists' practices and attitudes toward SM.

"So we thought it would be interesting to look at the trends and patterns of individuals within a profession that has such a high degree of professionalism that is expected," said Jones.

The 32-question survey was emailed to subscribers of a weekly neurology and psychiatry research news site. More than 4000 neurologists subscribe to the service, but only 44 surveys were collected.

Of the 53.8% who reported using SM, 57.1% were women. Although they had a greater presence on SM then men, "their conduct and views on professional SM practices are more conservative than males," note the researchers.

Findings in the full group include the following:

  • 92% did not approve of posting patient information;

  • 87% didn't approve of "friending" patients;

  • 87% didn't like the idea of posting about workplace concerns; and

  • 75% said they never posted inappropriate content, while 25% admitted to doing so "once or twice."

In addition, 18.4% of the respondents said their institution did not have a policy concerning SM, while 55.3% were unsure about any rules that were in place.


Pause Before Sending

"In this rapidly evolving digital era, it is important for medical institutions to implement professional SM policies," including educating employees on proper online etiquette, note the investigators.

Jones stressed that one good rule is to "pause before sending" to any of the SM platforms.

"Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others touch people all across the world. And 99% of the time, you can't retrieve anything that you've contributed. It's definitely a good policy to think about your audience," she said.


She added that it can be a fine line that clinicians need to walk. They may want to blog about new research or jump into a fast-paced twitter conversation yet they need to make sure what they type is appropriate, especially when the topic turns to politics.

"You need to think about everything that you're posting, and be sure of your institution's implemented policies as well as suggested policies from physicians' boards."

Jones reported a story from one doctor who was upset that a friend had posted a picture of him that was in a not-so-flattering situation. "You have to be careful of what you do because you never know who is watching and what they're going to do."

Clarify Opinions

ACTRIMS President-Elect Jeffrey A. Cohen, MD, Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute-Mellen Center, Ohio, told Medscape Medical News that the study results weren't surprising, including that having a relationship with patients on SM or commenting on colleagues was inappropriate.


That said, he noted that today's environment can be especially confusing because institutions often want physicians to have a social media presence — including those who would prefer to ignore the whole idea of posting online.

"Many centers, including ours, are trying to develop better ways of communicating with our patients, especially because that's how younger patients communicate," said Dr Cohen.

"And, like many institutions, ours has a lot of rules and regulations and vetting that's required. But if it takes 7 weeks for a tweet to be approved, it kind of defeats the whole purpose of social media."


Still, he noted that the Cleveland Clinic recently had a controversy when one of its physicians made some comments that went against the institution's formal position.

"Those are some of the issues that can arise," said Dr Cohen. "Neurologists need to be careful about clarifying what opinions are their own personal ones and which they're espousing on behalf of their institution. And they need to make sure they don't blur that distinction."

He added that using social media at meetings such as ACTRIMS 2017 can be very helpful, but again he urged caution.


"People want to know what the experts think: What were their impressions of the meeting and what did they see that was interesting? But just be careful with posting immediate thoughts. Maybe think about it a little more first."

The study was funded by St Michael's Hospital foundation Waugh Chair and the MS Society of Canada. Ms. Jones and Dr Cohen have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) 2017. Abstract P132. Presented February 24, 2017.

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5 Tips on Automating Social Media Marketing

As a marketing healthcare professional, you want your social media tasks to be more efficient. You certainly don’t want to sacrifice quality, but you want to spend more time with customer contact, strategy and other activities that also drive business. There are plenty of automation tools out there to help you, but there are some things you should know about social media automation that will help you make the right decisions. Here are some tips on automating your social media marketing.

Fill Your Social Media Calendar, But Don’t Check Out

You know you have to post high-quality content. It’s a competitive landscape, and you want your posts to do their job, which is to create engagement and drive traffic. Social media automation tools (especially PromoRepublic) can help you do that. You can create and auto schedule posts on certain days to make sure you’re posting consistently.








It is important, however, to make sure you don’t make your social feed look like you’re dialing it in. People pay attention these days. Holidays, events, special days and more can help you fill your social media calendar with timely, contextual and relevant posts that look thoughtful. Carelessly posting will make you look, well, careless.

Check out PromoRepublic’s calendar of ideas to schedule professional looking posts in seconds

Know When You Need to Be Around

Just because you have your posts scheduled and you know they are good does not mean that you can never be present on social media. In fact, if your posts are doing their job, you can expect quite a bit of engagement on your posts. Since it’s vitally important for your social presence to have a real face and voice behind it, automating replies is a definite no-no. That means you need to:

  • Reply to comments yourself and in real time
  • Answer questions yourself and in real time
  • Reply to private messages personally and in real time
  • Retweet manually (more on this in a minute)
  • Leave comments on pages and tweet at people yourself

A word about retweets. There are people who retweet every tweet that mentions them. DO NOT DO THAT. It’s self promotional, it annoys people and it creates tons of Twitter clutter. Don’t be responsible for Twitter clutter.

Knowing when you need to be around doesn’t mean that you have to haunt your social media channels 24/7. Pay attention to when your comments, likes and questions tend to come in and try checking in at those times. If that doesn’t work, set notifications for your social channels OR, check in at certain times every day and communicate those times to your fans and followers. It will give you added opportunities for Facebook Live events and Twitter Groups. And, speaking of timing…

Make Sure You Have An Ideal Posting Schedule for Each Channel

It’s all well and good to create posts your audience wants to see. But, if you post it at a time that they won’t see it, you aren’t doing your social media duties properly. Luckily, figuring out what time to post isn’t very hard. Certain automation tools can help you, but Facebook and Twitter have native apps that tell you all you need to know about optimal posting times. You want to figure out:

  • Where are the majority of your fans and followers?
  • What time do you get likes and shares on your posts?
  • When are you available to check social media?

Yep, it’s best to schedule posts with potential engagement (and that’s all of them, Folks) for times that you might be around to respond to comments and questions. So, combine point 2 with this point, because the very best social media marketers use their intuition and the analytics to tell them when to post, and when to be there to respond.

Yes, Set Notifications if You Have To

We sort of glossed over it earlier, but notifications are some social media marketer’s favorite tools. Again, there are third party apps out there that will let you know when someone reacts on Facebook or Twitter, but those platforms have that option built right in.

With Facebook, it’s under Settings>Notifications. You can set email notifications or text notifications for messages, posts on your timeline, comments on your links, and more.

Twitter, same deal. It’s under Settings>Email notifications and you can tell Twitter to email you when someone mentions you in a Tweet that’s liked and lots of other scenarios. You never have to miss a potential interaction on social media. You just have to decide how many emails you’re able to handle.

Curate With Care

You know the 5-3-2 rule, right? We’ve talked about it before. For every ten things you post, five should be content from others, three should be content from you, and two should be content that’s personal. Everybody’s definition of content from others, your own content and personal content differs. Of course when you share content from others, you have to make sure it’s relevant to your audience. Whether you’re sharing a blog post, someone else’s status, or retweeting, keep your audience in mind when choosing curated content.

While there are plenty of tools out there, like BuzzSumo and others, that will help you find relevant content to curate, this is a time where we believe it is especially important to listen closely to your social audiences and find content organically that is a good fit for your needs.

The reason is, if you take yourself on your customer’s fact-finding and information mining mission, you will likely understand them better. And, once you find the right blog post or article that they want to see, before they know they want to see it, you know you’ve succeeded.

Never miss an opportunity to connect with your social audience.

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Did social media adverse event reporting just get a little easier for Life Sciences companies?

Ever since social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter launched, both pharmaceutical and life sciences companies have been discussing the adverse event reporting (AE reporting) challenge. The ‘challenge’ here is simply ensuring you have a clear and manageable process in place to capture and report any social posts reporting adverse reactions to drugs or medical devices in a timely fashion.

A new tool launched from IMS Health in collaboration with Hootsuite may provide some companies with the support they need to more confidently address this need.

The Social Media Imperative in Healthcare

Today it is essential to have a strong social media presence in order for any company to be both accessible and relevant to their audience. 80% of people reach for their smartphone within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning. Most of those head for social channels like Facebook and Twitter. Throughout the day people are getting their ‘social’ fix whenever they can. This includes when on the toilet for around 40% of us. Shudder.


Around one third of people use social media for health information and support. Those dedicated to healthcare solutions and services have a responsibility to be present on such engrained channels in order to provide reliable and relevant information to those who need it.

(For useful links on social media in healthcare/pharma – see the end of this article)

The Adverse Event Reporting Challenge for Pharma/Life Sciences Companies

In the past AE reporting was a real barrier to pharma companies engaging on social media. There was a pervasive fear that something would be ‘missed’ or, more so, that the internal team would be overwhelmed with the deluge of reports unearthed through social media monitoring.

Some media AE reporting facts

  • Various pieces of research (and my own personal experience across many social media marketing initiatives) reveal that only approximately 1% of all social media posts meet the FDA requirements for AE reporting.
  • 73% of consumers use social media to search for educational information on their health condition but not to discuss it – so this low volume of AE posts make sense.
  • If you are managing a social media campaign, whether you may receive 1 message containing an AE or 1001, you need to have a solid process in place to meet legal and regulatory requirements.

In recent years most companies in the pharma and life sciences sector embraced social media channels to some extent in their digital marketing strategies. However people are always on the lookout for new tools to simplify the process and reduce workload on internal teams.

Have Hootsuite and IMS Health come up with a useful solution?

With over twelve million users, Hootsuite’s social media platform is intuitive and a daily go-to tool for most managing social media channels. On March 17th, IMS Health announced it has released an AE reporting tool that integrates directly with Hootsuite (one of over 150 tools Hootsuite has as add-ons to the platform).

This is the first Hootsuite integration specifically supporting pharma and life sciences companies and a first in the market. The simplicity here is what’s attractive. For someone who already uses Hootsuite, you get a tailored stream in your dashboard for potential AE posts.

Social media adverse event reporting stream in Hootsuite

I’ll be checking this out for sure but in the meantime you can read about it here from IMS and download the tool here, from Hootsuite.

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The Top Benefits of Social Media Management for Your Medical Practice

There are over 2.2 billion social media users in the world. This number speaks to the tremendous opportunity for engaging your audience and promoting your brand online. However, it also highlights the challenges in formulating an effective social media marketing plan that optimizes time and resources.

The following is a look the primary value and benefits of social media management, particularly when provided by an expert partner in this area.

Identify the Right Audience and Tools

Setting up accounts on every possible channel and randomly posting messages to a general audience are common novice mistakes in social media. A key starting point in a social media marketing plan is to identify the right social channels that allow you to effectively reach your targeted audience.

While many people use multiple social tools, the audience demographics and usage behaviors vary. Facebook is a behemoth across all demographics. However, Twitter and LinkedIn offer a great opportunity to target a professional audience, whereas Snapchat and Instagram are centered on teens and young adult users.

Figure out which tools reach your audience, and allow you to best promote the quality of your company and brands. An expert partner is a strong resource in this objective, as they are familiar with channel functionality and audiences.

Detailed profiles of your targeted social user help you prepare messages that attract attention and engage customers.

Developing Impactful Content

Identifying the particular channels to center your strategy on is step one. The next major benefit of social media management is planning powerful campaigns and messages. A top social media marketing plan typically maps out campaign strategies for several weeks or months in advance.

In addition to the specific campaigns you plan, schedule and execute, successful social media management also involves engagement. At least one-third of your messages should include direct engagement with users. However, effective management helps you know when and what to say in response to social users, and how to avoid the faux pas of spontaneously engaging inappropriately in a conversation.

Measuring Results and Fine-Tuning Campaigns

Finally, a social media marketing plan outlines strategies for evaluating results and fine-tuning campaigns. Even with a well-planned campaign, a primary benefit of social promotion is the ability to adapt and evolve. You can’t do this as easily on traditional media.

An expert partner works with you to set practical, reasonable goals for your social media campaigns. Over time, compare your actual performance (follower growth, engagement, responses, conversions, etc.) to your desired outcomes. In response to achieving goals early or failing to progress at an adequate rate, set new objectives or adapt your strategies.

It is difficult to dedicate all necessary resources to social media management in lieu of other business requirements. An expert partner is valuable.


There is much more to social media management than consistently posting messages on channels. An effective social media marketing plan outlines how to reach particular market segments with key message strategies on each channel you use.

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Why is Facebook a preferred platform for healthcare marketing?

There are two main trends in the marketplace these days that can be married to produce great results. The first is the explosion of social media platform usage and the second is a higher awareness towards a healthier lifestyle and preventive healthcare. When healthcare professionals look towards social media platforms to market their business, the results can be extremely promising and encouraging.

So, Why Facebook?

There are many social media platforms that exist today. However, ask anyone and they are likely to come up with names of only about 4 to 5 of them. Among them, Facebook is likely to be the first one that is mentioned. The statistics also support this observational finding. There are more than 142 million active users on Facebook in India and a large proportion of these accesses this platform from their mobile smartphones.

Other Benefits of Using Facebook to Market Healthcare Services

Given that Facebook is, by far, the largest social media platform, most social media marketing companies recommend using this platform if you want to optimize for time and budget allocations.


The Return on Investment is far higher than any other. The incremental reach that you get by being present on an additional social media marketing platform does not yield similar returns.

Business page option –

Facebook offers the option of creating a business page. This is different from an individual page where you have friends or a group page where you have members. A business page typically has ‘fans’, which gives a complete individual identity to the business.  The added benefit is that search engines index Facebook business pages. If your business page profile is well optimized for brand and specific keywords, it is likely to appear in organic search results too.

Targeted community –

A business page for your healthcare offering can help you in creating a targeted community that is loyal and satisfied. You can take the physical association further and produce a positive patient experience. The fact that you can market to a specific community enables you to get higher levels of likes in a shorter period of time. You can also analyze the demographic profile of your fans or community and get a better understanding of the age group, gender and specific needs of the people who you are catering to, fostering further decision making with respect to healthcare strategies for your healthcare business.

Easier marketing –

Marketing to this captive group of people who have opted to follow your business or liked your page is a relatively easier option than marketing to the heterogeneous group. Efforts put into this area are likely to get better conversions too. Marketing efforts can be modified and adjusted based on specific needs of the group. For instance, if you’re offering a healthcare service to a large demographics of audience andyou get to know that the age group of the people on your page is older, you can design health campsor events for blood pressure, diabetes or cholesterol checkups. On the other hand, if you have a younger captive audience, you might want to focus on preventive health tips, fitness and the importance of nutrition.

Feedback –

Needless to say, Facebook is a platform where communication is unstructured. Fans talk to the business, other fans and the business can also communicate with fans. The setting of the platform allows for very candid and useful feedback. It is a great opportunity to interact with your customers on a one-on-one basis. Being responsive is essential and therefore someone adept in social media marketing services should undertake this task of constantly checking out the buzz and updating the page.

WoM –

Since people communicate on the platform, a Facebook page also creates Word of Mouth. A happy and satisfied customer will share a good experience, thereby exposing more people in their circle to your business page. Additionally, you are likely to attract similar and like-minded people to your social media page, thereby ensuring certain homogeneity in your following.

Brand reputation management –

With social listening tools, a good social media marketing company will be able to analyze the buzz being created around your brand. Regular analysis on this data will allow you to understand what your brand value is. What’s more, you can also address any issues that a specific customer may be facing and to ensure they do not turn into negative publicity.

Facebook ad –

Facebook also allows business pages to advertise for a fee. Paid advertising on Facebook is a great idea if you want to increase your reach. A study from Facebook and comScore showed that paid advertising has a reach that is 5.3 times higher than organic results. Such targeted advertising reaches even those who are ‘light users’ of Facebook. A word of caution is mandatory here. Facebook advertising requires some skill. You need to know the specific audience you want to target, how often to target them, the kind of posts to use to communicate with them and the tone of voice that will get the best results. If you want to ensure you don’t lose your precious budget trying to learn the tricks of the trade, hire a social media advertising company

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Social Media & Health: Safety Concerns

Presentation at the 2017 joint annual convention of the Philippine Society of Hypertension & Philippine Lipid & Atherosclerosis Society 25 Feb 2017, Crowne Pla…
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Social Media Posts Put Hospitals at Risk of Cyber Attacks

Social Media Posts Put Hospitals at Risk of Cyber Attacks | Social Media and Healthcare |

The age of social media has put hospitals and health systems in the difficult position of trying to ensure that pictures posted online don’t inadvertently expose patient data or give hackers enough information about a physician to gain access to login credentials, according to an article posted on the FierceHealthcare website. The news source interviewed Don Lindsey, vice president and CIO of Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare, at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) 2017 conference in Orlando, Florida.

The most common problem, Lindsey said, is the resident-turned-physician who proudly posts a picture of his or her badge online. Hackers can use the badge information, combined with social engineering, to impersonate that clinician and gain access to the hospital’s medical records, he pointed out.

Lindsey told FierceHealthcare that his facility is looking to partner with local colleges and universities to provide education to incoming doctors and nurses, along with real-world examples of social media posts that could expose the hospital to a breach. Meanwhile, the hospital’s in-house training serves as the primary barrier against clinicians posting their information online.

“The human factor is the hardest part,” he said. “You’re only as good as your security-awareness training program.”

In related news, HealthLeaders Media reports that health care data breaches in the U.S. have risen by 40% since 2015.

Last month, a U.S. attorney announced federal charges against more than 100 suspected health care fraudsters in Florida. One of them, a former secretary at the Jackson Health System, was accused of stealing the Social Security numbers of more than 24,000 patients over the course of five years. She was placed on administrative leave in 2016.

According to a recent report from the Identity Theft Resources Center (ITRC), a nonprofit group located in San Diego, California, the health care/medical industry experienced 377 data-breach incidents in 2016, behind only the business sector in the number of incidents. The health care industry represented 34.5% of the 1,093 breaches reported among the five industries tracked in the report.

According to data provided to HealthLeadersMedia by the ITRC, hacking was the most common data-breach source for the health care sector. Insider theft and employee error/negligence tied for the second most-common data-reach sources in 2016 in the health industry. In addition, insider theft was a bigger problem in the health care sector than in other industries, and has been for the past five years.

Insider theft is alleged to have been at play in the Jackson Health System incident. Former employee Evelina Reid was charged in a 14-count indictment with conspiracy to commit access-device fraud, aggravated identity theft, and computer fraud. Prosecutors said that her coconspirators used the stolen information to file fraudulent tax returns in the patients’ names.

Sources: FierceHealthcare(link is external); February 22, 2017; and HealthLeaders Media(link is external); February 21, 2017.

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7 ways to dentists can succeed on social media in 2017

Learn how dentists can use social media to maintain and grow their business.
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Don’t Overreport: Identifying the Social Media Benchmarks That Really Matter 

Don’t Overreport: Identifying the Social Media Benchmarks That Really Matter  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Today 65 percent of American adults use at least one form of social media on a regular basis. While social media is a popular communication channel for consumer brands, the health care industry has been slower to adapt to its usage. Twenty-six percent of hospitals now use some form of social media, while 60 percent of doctors say social media improves patients’ quality of care. As the health care industry looks at ways to incorporate social media into its communication strategies to meet patient needs, marketers are left with the task of figuring out the best way to implement a social media program.

Whether you are starting your first social media campaign or trying to figure out how to maximize an existing campaign’s potential, analytics are critical to monitoring performance. Reporting on social media analytics can be daunting and often overwhelming, with most platforms self-reporting on countless metrics from engagement to views to reach. But which metrics really matter? Here are some tips for avoiding overreporting and identifying the benchmarks that are most important.

Identify your goals. Before you begin a social media campaign, or even create your company’s social media page, determine the goal for that channel. Do you want to talk to customers? Are you trying to build relationships with other health care professionals? Do you simply want a mechanism to share your company blogs and news? The goal for your Facebook page and LinkedIn page may not be the same, so the way you measure your success will be different. It is important to determine your goals at the start of a project to ensure you capture the metrics that are the most helpful.

Figure out the metrics you need to track. This is probably the hardest part of any social media campaign. You may be tempted to report on every single metric in Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics, but if you are reporting to an executive team it is likely they will care more about what the metrics mean for the overall goal rather than the exact engagement rate of a particular post. It might be important for you or the person managing the daily operations of the campaign to know these minute details, but to demonstrate success to an executive team, showcase only the metrics that directly correlate to your goal.

Track conversions when possible. Social media platforms in general do a good job of tracking engagement and reach of posts, but are somewhat limited at tracking actions that occur off of the platforms. For instance, Facebook can tell you how many people clicked a link to visit your website, but it can’t tell you how many of those people made an appointment to visit your facility. Google analytics does a better job of tracking what happens when people click from Facebook onto your site. It is important to make sure you keep an eye on how your social media platforms affect your website conversions if the goal of your campaign is to have someone take an action off of the social platform, such as filling out a form on your site, downloading a whitepaper, or reading a case study.

Create a reporting dashboard. The best way track your social media progress over time is by creating an effective dashboard. If you’re not sure how to set up a dashboard, here are some tips that can help. You may want to create two dashboards – one more robust version that tracks the details of your campaign and one that focuses on the big-picture metrics that directly impact your goal.

Social media reporting changes regularly as networks change algorithms and people change the way they prefer to interact with brands on certain platforms. So while it is imperative to develop a structured approach to reporting, it is equally important to continuously reevaluate your methods to ensure the metrics you report are meaningful to your audience and also helpful in assessing the success of your campaigns. At the end of the day, if your social media campaigns are unsuccessful, your reporting dashboard provides you with important insights to analyze and consider when revisiting your approach.

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Healthcare Marketing: Shift from the traditional to the digital

A look at how social media is being utilized within the healthcare industry and how social media has changed interactions between healthcare companies and pati…
C. Todd Livengood's curator insight, Today, 11:45 AM
The industry, always behind most, doubles down on digital.
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Social Media: 10 Steps for Meeting Newbies

Gear up for a more immersive and interactive experience at the ACR 2017 meeting and beyond.


​"That Twitter thing seems pretty cool. How can I get started?"

I get that question a lot from physicians who want to participate in social media but don't know how. With the ACR's 2017 meeting quickly approaching, the #ACR2017 hashtag will soon be filled with good content. So now is the perfect time to get connected.

A number of social media platforms offer different use cases for physicians, but Twitter is best for meetings. Since our team's report on its growth at RSNA from 2011 to 2012, Twitter's use at radiology meetings has skyrocketed. Tweets from RSNA still outnumber the rest, but activity at each ACR annual meeting continues to grow.

Twitter is a great way to connect with thought leaders and to learn. You don't need to push out your own content to benefit (although it's highly encouraged, since Twitter works best when everyone shares), but you do have to sign up to get started. As you see others posting content — and watch how easy it is — you'll soon become more comfortable joining in on the fun.

To newbies, Twitter is admittedly a bit daunting. But if you follow these 10 steps, you'll quickly be on your way to being fully engaged by #ACR2017:

1. Sign up. Don't get left at the station after the train pulls away. It only takes a couple minutes — and it's free. Head over to Twitter and sign up.

2. You're more than a number. When you register, you'll be asked to pick a Twitter "handle." I'm @RichDuszak. Use some variation of your name so others will readily know who you are. You may love to grow orchids on weekends, but calling yourself @OrchidFarmer will make it really hard to brand yourself professionally.

3. Identify yourself as doctor. I don't have an MD in my Twitter handle, but my profile clearly identifies me as "Rich Duszak, MD." Others, like @MattHawkinsMD and @DrGMcGinty, put their credentials right in their handles. Either way is fine. What's important, though, for professional engagement is to unambiguously let the world know you're a physician. 

4. Don't be an egghead. When you register, Twitter will assign you a generic egg avatar. Unless your goal is to appear completely disengaged, upload a photograph. People are more inclined to connect if they see your face.

5. Introduce yourself. It's great to have a name and face, but if you want to really engage, tell everyone a little bit about yourself. Twitter permits only 160-character profiles, so strive to be pithy and parsimonious. But you do get extra fields to post a link to your webpage and tell everyone where you're from. 6. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Look at the two profile examples below to see what I mean. If you've cut any corners, now is your chance to make a better first impression.

Figure 1. What your Twitter profile will look like if you don't care about first impressions.
Figure 2. What your Twitter profile could look like if you follow steps 1 through 5. With which Rich Duszak would you rather connect?

7. Follow others. At meetings, I enter the official hashtag (eg, #ACR2017) in the Twitter app's search bar. It's a great way to track what's going on at the meeting, but if you want to engage with others after the meeting, you'll have to individually follow them. Their tweets will then automatically show up in your Twitter feed (ie, no searching necessary). I'm admittedly biased, but I think all ACR members should follow @RadiologyACR, @JACRJournal, and @NeimanHPI. Search for those handles, and then click the follow button. Next, check out who your favorite radiology thought leaders follow, and select accordingly.

8. Start tweeting. If you've made it this far, it's time to take off your training wheels. You now have a good sense of what you can fit into 140 characters. Go ahead and send out your first tweet! If you tag @RichDuszak and add the hashtag #MyFirstTweet, I'll personally welcome you to Twitter — and so will others.

9. Embrace the learning. If you follow the right people, you'll quickly learn a lot and broaden your horizons. If, like me, you embrace Twitter as a powerful tool for learning and engagement, you'll be fast on your way to getting hooked. 

10. Commit to staying engaged. Not everyone will turn into a Twitter-aholic. That's okay. But the people who find the most success are the ones who read and react regularly. Turning on your Twitter account just twice a year (RSNA and ACR) isn't a bad start, but you'll learn a lot more if you use Twitter consistently.

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Social media research in the health domain (tutorial)

Tutorial about the use of social media in the health domain. The tutorial is designed for healthcare professionals interested in eHealth. It was done for Weill…
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Want better patient engagement? Use social media

Want better patient engagement? Use social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Looking for a better way to reach your patients and guide them to being more engaged in their own health care? Then expand your social media presence.


That was the message Kevin Campbell, MD, a cardiologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, told attendees at the annual meeting of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

Dr. Kevin Campbell

“Social media is where our patients, customers, and consumers, as well as our colleagues are and where we need to be,” Dr. Campbell said.

He called out three specific social media tools – Twitter, Facebook Live, and blogging – as the most effective for physicians. The first two offer a key way to connect with patients and colleagues – the ability to use video.

“The most important thing out in the digital space in terms of engagement is video and the visual,” Dr. Campbell said. “You’ll get 6,000% more engagement with a video-type point of contact. That can be a link from Twitter or it can be a Facebook Live [session] or a YouTube video.”

Video messaging also helps doctors support their peers, Dr. Campbell said.

“We can provide timely information to our colleagues,” he noted. “We have Twitter chats with fellows-in-training … I can talk to fellows who are in Germany about a technique we’re using here and then they can learn more about that technique.”

Secure social media channels also can be used to share thoughts and ideas regarding a clinical query regarding a specific test or imaging result, he said.

“The patient benefits because there are more brains thinking about their problem,” he noted.

Blogging also can be effective for reaching out to patients and colleagues as it provides a way to disseminate information on topics such as new treatments or learning about disease states.

But if the blog is set up to be interactive, doctors can get insights into their patients’ health concerns, Dr. Campbell said.

“I let patients write on my blog and I actually learn a ton about the patient experience,” he said. “I don’t even think of X, Y, and Z situation. I will be more empathetic to this because of what [they] told me.”

The caveat, of course, is that specific, protected information cannot be shared or posted.

“The attorneys will really get upset,” he noted. “So you do not develop a legal duty to that patient. But you can talk about treatments and what’s out there and what’s available. ... There may be a new treatment for leukemia that’s experimental that’s coming out of a university in Philadelphia and I can talk about that treatment.”

Dr. Campbell also said social media can be effective for doctors to promote themselves, pointing to his own career where he serves as a regular commentator on both the national and local levels. Engaging with media outlets can help turn a doctor into a key opinion leader, he said.

“If you say something important, engage about important issues, patients, consumers, industry partners and other leaders in the field are going to engage with you,” he said.

Dr. Campbell reported no conflicts of interest.

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The use of internet and social media by Healthcare Professionals and Consumers

consumer health informatics
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Digital Marketing for Healthcare: Best Practices and Case Study 

Digital Marketing for Healthcare: Best Practices and Case Study  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Note: this is the first in a series of posts dedicated to digital marketing for healthcare. Following posts will address such topics as Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and the importance of mobile.

The healthcare industry is in the midst of an upheaval the likes of which have not been seen before. Changes to Medicare reimbursement formulas, HIPPA, the rise of the super group, and the way insurance works all play a role in shaking the very foundations of healthcare. With increased competition for the healthcare dollar, hospitals and groups are turning to digital marketing to improve their awareness and lead generation.


Building a digital campaign focused on growing awareness and lead generation can make an immense difference to both hospitals and healthcare groups. If you’re wondering about some of the digital marketing tools that are available for healthcare, read on.

Let services, not physicians drive your brand

It wasn’t very long ago that – from a marketing point of view – everything was driven by a physician’s name. Patients sought practitioners they had heard of. But the rise in choice of healthcare played a role in changing how consumers look for medical services. Today, consumers want what they want when they want it. Rather than fight against the change, embrace it, and use it to your advantage. Focus on the services you offer, not the physicians who offer them. Ask what sets your group or hospital apart and build on the answer.

Make your website work for you

Your website is the hub of your digital efforts. It’s where you want to drive your leads, because it’s the primary spot where you’ll turn your leads into consumers – your patients. You want your site to be optimized for search keywords, usability, and content. Doing so will help your website appear further up Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for the services you offer, and help increase the likelihood that users will remain on your site and get to know you better.

If it’s not already, be sure to convert your website to support mobile. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of Americans own smart phones, and for many these are key entry points into the digital world. You want to be able to serve information to the user in the way that he/she wants it. Being able to click to call or make an appointment provides easy response mechanisms. In addition, you can bring in potent call tracking tools to help you measure your success.

A word about content

Today 80% of any decision to purchase is made before the service provider is contacted. Gone are the days when consumers had to go to a provider to find information. Given that, it’s important to be a part of the decision making process early on – while consumers are pulling together the information that will drive their decision. How do you do that? By providing great content that will help consumers in their research process AND establish you as an expert in your field. Offer articles on your expertise and any other helpful information that consumers can use. They will thank you with their business.

The power of remarketing

Remarketing is a powerful tool for targeting your audience. It lets you reach the people who have already visited your site by showing display or social media ads while they browse the web. It reminds them that your practice is out there. A best practices note: it’s important to set the frequency cap to limit impressions – you don’t want to bombard your audience and risk turning them off your brand. 

Conversion actions

Don't forget to add a conversion action that your users will respond to. A call-to-action such as 'Schedule an Appointment' provides a high level of reach and will get patients through your doors.

Social media

Think HIPPA precludes the use of social media? Think again, because you can use social media while respecting HIPPA. Social media can help with brand awareness and establishing expertise. If you’d like more information on how healthcare organizations can use social media, be sure to read our post.

A real life example: OA Centers for Orthopaedics

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate what a digital marketing campaign for healthcare looks like is to take a look at a campaign VONT and Ethos developed for OA Centers for Orthopaedics in Portland, ME.

When Ethos and VONT began working with what was then Orthopaedic Associates of Portland, Ethos recommended a rename and a rebrand to differentiate their premier specialty orthopaedic practices from hundreds of practices named Orthopaedic Associates nationwide. Renamed and rebranded as OA Centers for Orthopaedics, the practice began to market the brand, the service line, and the physician in that order, rather than physician first, service, then brand.

The campaign had two goals: increased brand awareness and lead generation. The strategy was focused around “you have a choice” to play off the rise of choice in healthcare. (Note: This type of campaign works for specialty practices that are choice-based. Certain specialty practices such as anesthesia and trauma surgery are by their nature not something consumers choose.)

Some radio, display, and PR were used in the efforts, while the goal of the digital campaign was to bring users to the redesigned website by targeting people with insurance who had orthopedic injuries – those people who searched on keywords such as ACL injury or orthopedic care. The conversion action was to schedule an appointment.

OA had an enormous volume of good content around a variety of orthopedic conditions such as ACL, rotator cuff, and spine related injuries, so not a lot of new content was needed. VONT optimized the current content for organic search by focusing on a concerted SEO effort that entailed optimizing content and building links.

These organic efforts were complemented by an awareness raising display campaign. Display ads focused on professional athletes who chose OA. Ads were shown on a 7-day rotation and reinforced the brand as well as drove users to the website.

Remarketing was also used as brand reinforcement for previous visitors to the site. Ads reinforcing the brand were run for 30 days – the time in which patients usually receive orthopedic treatment. A frequency cap was used to limit impressions to one impression per day.

Females have been shown to make 80%-85% of medical decisions – these are the moms, girl friends, spouses of people with sports injuries. Knowing this, VONT set up a social media campaign supporting OA’s Saturday morning clinic by targeting those influencers of athletes who may have been injured in Friday night games.

An AdWords paid search campaign was also used for specific keywords relating to injury. A paid search campaign is effective because it allows your ad to reach people at the very moment they are searching for what you have to offer.

The result? There was a broad level of reach and patient counts at OA soared. Conversion cost was $25/appointment.

The takeaway

Creating a digital campaign for healthcare is best served by a holistic approach. Make sure you have a good brand as a platform then leverage it by building awareness. Know your audience. Be found when people are looking for procedures. Remarket to reinforce your brand.

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How Anesthesiologists Can Use Social Media

As the Department of Anesthesiology's digital communications manager, I spend a lot of time integrating social media into our promotion and outreach strategy.
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What’s the Value of Social Media for Healthcare Brands? |

What’s the Value of Social Media for Healthcare Brands? | | Social Media and Healthcare |

The healthcare industry is in the midst of massive change. With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), declining reimbursements, rising consumerism, and hospital consolidation, it is imperative for healthcare organizations to develop innovative strategies to increase their bottom line. In this increasingly competitive marketplace, branding is ever more critical to the success of your healthcare organization.

Enter social media. We currently live in a digital world where 80 percent of all internet users (approximately 93 million Americans), have searched for a health-related topic online. According to one study, 57 percent of consumers said a hospital’s social media presence would strongly influence their choice regarding where to go for services. It also indicated that a strong social media presence was interpreted by 81 percent of consumers as indicating the hospital offered cutting-edge technologies. 

It is empirically clear there are tremendous opportunities to enhance your brand visibility through social media. As a regulated industry, however, healthcare organizations have been slow to incorporate social media for fear of liability, privacy and security breaches. But ignoring social media is not an option today. Healthcare brands must arm themselves with knowledge and procedures to effectively track, capture, and secure real-time social media content for record retention and audit purposes.

How do I use social media?

Social media allows communities to share real-time content across different platforms such as blogs, social networks, professional networks, video and photo sharing sites, online discussion forums, etc. 

In order to leverage social media effectively you must:

  • Create relevant content that engages your target audience. Patients and healthcare professionals actively use social media to share information, discuss healthcare policies, research treatments, symptoms, provider reviews and more. As a healthcare brand, it is critical you create high quality, reliable content that educates your audience. Contrary to evidenced-based medical reports, social media thrives on patient stories for collective medical knowledge. Personal stories, however, are vulnerable to misinterpretation. As a healthcare brand, you must be vigilant in monitoring content for quality control and accuracy.
  • Educate your employees. The consequences for inappropriate social media use by healthcare professionals can be devastating to your brand reputation.  Physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are ambassadors of your brand and therefore must be provided specific guidelines for online professionalism.

According to a national survey, there was a high consensus that physicians should never post:

  • Misinformation on physician practice websites
  • Misleading information about clinical outcomes
  • Use patient images without consent
  • Misrepresent credentials
  • Inappropriately contact patients using dating sites
  • Violate patient confidentiality

The Mayo Clinic is a trailblazer in social media engagement in healthcare industry. In 2010, the Mayo Clinic established the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN) with the conviction that “individuals have the right and responsibility to advocate for their own health, and it’s our responsibility to help them use social networking tools to get the best information, and connect with providers as well as one another.”

The Mayo Clinic’s Social Media Network website offers a library of resources such as webinars, podcasts, discussion boards, events and dedicated tutorials on how to use social media for healthcare professionals. It also has a strong presence on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. As a result, the Mayo Clinic has elevated its brand and reputation for excellence and innovation.

The excerpt above is from our new e-book which can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.  

If you’re in healthcare, insurance, technology or other professional services industries, and need help with a PR, marketing or social media campaign, contact Scott Public Relations.

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6 ways to stay out of trouble with social media

One danger with using social media is that it can be far too easy to shoot off a message without thinking—or even fully understanding an issue. Biotech managers should do all they can to avoid making a critical gaffe on social media. Here are 6 strategies for constructing informed, credible messages.

  1. Do your homework. As a representative of your company, resist the urge to shoot from the hip on social media, unless you are very well-versed on an issue. Taking time to grasp the complexities of the situation beats the time it will take to apologize for an errant statement later.
  1. Include a link. If you are mentioning news pertaining to your company, include a link to where the public can find additional information on your site. If you're commenting on relevant external news that you've seen in your jaunts on the internet, be sure to include a URL for corroboration.
  1. Give attribution. Disclose the source of any links you provide, so people will feel comfortable about the accuracy of the information and exactly whose web page they're about to visit.
  1. Consider the source. Be sure your news URLs and attributions are for reputable news sites and industry experts, rather than spam bots interspersing the day's headlines with whatever randomness they are trying to sell. If you've never heard of the source, check the appropriateness of its timeline and links. Or, better yet, scour Google for someone you trust who is saying the same thing.
  1. Double- or triple-check anything that sounds unexpected or hard to believe. News can travel quickly on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn—rumors as well as true stories. I'm reminded of the old journalism adage: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Check a few different sources covering the same information just to be sure before you put your company's Klout behind an issue.
  1. Use good timeshare practices. If you decide to have one feed for your company that is written by multiple (trustworthy) people, you will need either to make sure it's clear that multiple voices are talking (by having individuals sign off on each communiqué in the feed), or ensure that the voice of the account sounds seamless.

These are the kinds of things you'd keep in mind if you were giving a face-to-face presentation, but there is a lot of temptation to throw convention out the window when it comes to social media, in the name of being the first or most entertaining expert. To best protect your company's reput

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HIMSS17: providers have opportunity to put social media to good use

HIMSS17: providers have opportunity to put social media to good use | Social Media and Healthcare |

The biggest challenge providers face when pondering the world of social media is the temptation to avoid it altogether.

That’s according to Melody Smith Jones, manager of Connected Health at Perficient, who spoke recently, along with Cedars-Sinai’s director of digital strategy Nelly Jacobo, in a session at HIMSS17 in Orlando.

While social media can enable providers to build better relationships with their patients, including helping them provide support to patients in their homes by sharing timely and vital information, Smith Jones said some providers are reluctant to incorporate social media into their healthcare programs largely in order to mitigate risk.

“A healthcare organization’s reticence to participate in social media is often well-intentioned. After all, social media communication brings with it inherent risk,” Jones said. “However, an organization does not actually decrease risk through non-participation. Conversations about you are still taking place and patients are still attempting to connect with you. You’re just ignoring them.”

Once they get over that fear of social media, Jone explained, providers need to work on creating a voice that is warm, appears trustworthy and engages with its audience. 

“The possibilities are endless,” she said. “You’re building stronger relationships with your patients, attracting new patients and helping the population you serve make better healthcare decisions.”

Smith added that healthcare providers should focus on building both the knowledge, strategy and voice for a patient-centric social media program and the creation of a safe landscape for interacting with patients.

“Social media has the ability to impact population health by being seamlessly incorporated into the daily life of the healthcare consumer,” Jones said. “When consumers are looking for healthcare answers and information, often the first place they turn is social media. Don’t you want to be there?”

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Link up with Other Physicians on Networking Websites 

Link up with Other Physicians on Networking Websites  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Farhad Sigari, MD, an otolaryngologist in California, has always found value in online interaction.

When Dr. Sigari, who is with the Del Rey Allergy and Sinus Institute in Marina Del Rey, Calif., first opened his practice, he spent time on a website answering patient questions about different issues in otolaryngology, thinking it would help him find new patients. It didn’t, but it helped him strengthen his communication skills. Fast-forward several years, and Dr. Sigari’s practice is filled with patients—and he has limited time to spend online.

But Dr. Sigari still visits networking websites, particularly those aimed at physicians, such as Doximity. There, he interacts with other physicians, reads insights about other physicians’ difficult clinical cases, and scans the site’s newsfeed for specific journal articles and abstracts tailored to otolaryngology.

Doing so helps him keep his eye on the pulse of his profession on his own limited free time. “I can see and follow the experience of others even if I am not posting the questions myself, and they can be quite useful,” he said. “It helps to get a sense of what other physicians are thinking.” Instead of gaining insights once or twice a year while attending professional conferences, ongoing online interaction on physician-centered networking websites helps give “a more accurate reading of what is going on with the profession and industry, and a more real-time response,” he said.

Social networks such as Doximity, QuantiaMD, and SERMO offer healthcare professional-centric networking and collaboration and position themselves as places where physicians, medical school students, nurses, and physician assistants can find their peers and colleagues. They can also conduct clinical business, find job postings, and sometimes even earn CME credit. It’s a different flavor from what’s possible on more generalized social media sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook.

I can see and follow the experience of others [on the networking site], even if I am not posting the questions myself, and they can be quite useful; it helps to get a sense of what other physicians are thinking. —Farhad Sigari, MD

What Physician Network Sites Offer

While each physician network has its own flavor, all stress the importance of professional involvement. “We are, in essence, the world’s largest doctor’s lounge,” said Peter Kirk, the CEO of SERMO, a site founded in 2005. “Our DNA, the core, is truly user-generated content, and the physician engagement is what makes SERMO what it is.” The site confirms that all of its users are physicians and up to 90% of them choose to post anonymously. Doing so lets users “speak in confidence, give their true opinions, and be more daring,” Kirk added.

Physicians use SERMO and similar sites for patient referrals, job searches, discussions on topics such as policy and clinician research, and medical crowdsourcing on difficult clinical cases. “That’s our most important value to society: to help improve physician decision making and instantly access the knowledge of their peers,” said Kirk. “You can get 10 to 20 doctors commenting on a case within 24 hours. That’s pretty amazing; in the offline world, it can take several days to get two doctors together” to talk about a case.

The insight gleaned from online visits is valuable, Kirk added. “Some of our doctors say they have learned more on SERMO than in all their CMEs put together,” he said. “It’s real-world experience. With clinical trials, they’re perfectly constructed and executed. But real-world medicine is much more muddy, with complex patients. There’s much more going on.”

How Is Privacy Maintained?

Kirk and others interviewed for this story insisted that most physicians who use such sites are fully aware of privacy issues and HIPAA considerations, and that users are careful to obscure their patients’ identities when discussing medical cases. “Most physicians know the ramifications and get full consent from their patients, especially if you can see the face,” said Eric Gantwerker, MD, MS, lead physician advisor and the director of continuing medical education for Level EX, the developer of Airway EX, a medical virtual surgery app; Dr. Gantwerker is also an assistant professor of otolaryngology at the University of Texas, Southwestern and a practicing pediatric otolaryngic surgeon at Children’s Health, Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. “There is still some sharing, but people take it seriously. They know they can lose their license if privacy is compromised.”

Doximity uses a secure messaging platform that is encrypted and HIPAA compliant, which helps maintain privacy, said Joel Davis, Doximity’s vice president of growth.

The sharing community spans all social media, and that isn’t going away, said Kirk, but social networks are not all interchangeable. “I encourage people to understand what they are using different social channels for, and to direct it to the appropriate channel,” he said. “With HIPAA concerns, I don’t recommend physicians posting things like cases or strong policy beliefs to Facebook, and I’ve warned friends who have done that. Know what is appropriate for which site. If you can share valued content and push an idea forward, in the right environment, that helps peers and society move forward.”

You can get 10 to 20 doctors commenting on a case within 24 hours. In the offline world, it can take several days to get two doctors together. —Peter Kirk


Best Ways to Use Networking Sites

Spending time on any online networking sites—physician-centered or otherwise—can eat up a lot of time. To get your best return on the investment of that time, know your goals and act accordingly.

“I encourage everybody to try different sites out, depending on that person’s focus and needs,” said Dr. Gantwerker. Then stick with what you find most useful, rather than trying to maintain a presence everywhere. “Having multiple social media profiles gets exhausting, and there can be content overload,” said Dr. Gantwerker. “People tend to pare down to what they prioritize as most important to them.”

For some sites like Doximity, all users are identified by name, and anonymity is not allowed. In fact, being more recognizable makes the experience richer, said Davis. “Take some time to update your profile and add a photo,” he said. “Those on Doximity who have photos get 20% more colleague requests. Being a well-networked doctor and having a well-documented Doximity CV [an online profile based on a user’s actual CV] can show up high in Google results, making the physician better able to be found online.”

Ask yourself, “What needs do I have as a physician?” said Dr. Sigari. He added that because physicians generally have so little time, it’s important to use that time wisely to find the online resources to help you fulfill those needs. “Personally,” he said, “weekly polls and surveys can be nice, but they don’t help me as a physician.”

Looking Ahead

Social media is always evolving, and physician-centered networking sites are no exception. “The sense of finding community online is never going to go away,” said Dr. Gantwerker. But some sites may merge with competitors to offer more services to physicians and others who have few moments for leisure. “I think more sites will mix social networking and information in the future, because we don’t have a lot of time.

Streamlining will happen,” said Dr. Sigari. Citing Facebook and Snapchat, a mobile app that lets users send photos, videos, and messages to each other before the images disappear, Dr. Gantwerker noted that many companies will incorporate features from each other to improve their user experience. “It’s not physician networking, but Snapchat blew past everything, prompting Facebook to develop Facebook Live,” the ability for Facebook users to record and transmit live video feeds to each other, he said. “Similar things will happen with the physician networking sites.”

Successful innovation that gives physicians—and other online users—what they want in an online networking experience will help certain sites continue to thrive. “Just because you were the first doesn’t mean you were the best,” said Dr. Gantwerker. “Sites can change in real time to take advantage of the best elements available.”

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Five Reasons Why Marketing for Doctors Works 

Five Reasons Why Marketing for Doctors Works  | Social Media and Healthcare |

A lot of doctors simply set up a basic website and hope that people walk through their doors. This method worked well for medical professionals in the past, so many of them are reluctant to try new approaches as a result. The world continues to change with new advancements in technology, and a few doctors are already taking advantage of the newest trends. Although staying on the same path can be tempting, you will want to embrace the future if you want to enjoy the best possible results. The marketing strategies that doctors once used are becoming more and more obsolete, and digital marketing is paving the way for the future.

No matter where you currently stand on the issue, learning about digital marketing and its benefits is a smart move. Search engine optimization, social media marketing, email marketing and more will allow you to get new patients without much effort. You are going to learn why digital marketing works and how you can use it to increase your reach and to connect with your patients on a deep level that they won’t soon forget.

Social Media

With mobile devices becoming increasingly affordable every day, social media sites are an easy way for people to stay in touch with the businesses they care about. Companies from all industries are learning the advantages of social media when it comes to attracting a large audience. Because a lot of doctors and other medical professionals are overlooking this platform, you will quickly stand out from the crowd if you use it properly. With Facebook and Twitter, you can post engaging and informative content that will benefit people.

Using social media works because people will want to read entertaining and helpful posts from people they trust. Staying in touch with your audience will keep you at the front of their minds. When they need to see a doctor, they will think of you first. If you want to get the most from this approach, always take the time to reply to comments and take feedback into consideration, and you will go far.

Search Engine Optimization

People once used phone books to find doctors when they needed to make an appointment, but most individuals now turn to Google and other search engines. If you don’t make an effort to get your content displayed on the search results page, you will be throwing a lot of money away. When people are searching for a solution to a problem, you want to be one of the first doctors that they see, and doing so is not as difficult as you might suspect. Getting started with search engine optimization is as easy as starting a blog and dedicating some time to craft relevant content.

The articles that you post will need to focus on the keywords for which your prospective patients are likely to search when they need a medical procedure or advice. Although ranking for general terms is all but impossible for new websites, using local keywords makes it much easier, especially if no other doctors in your area are using SEO. Once you get the hang of creating the right kind of content to attract Google’s attention, you will also want to try guest posting on medical blogs to get the most from your effort.

Email Marketing

The top brands are no stranger to email marketing, and it can impact the number of patients that you get in a powerful way. You can use email marketing to remind people to come to their appointments, offer health tips and even to provide people with special offers. As long as you use the right approach, you will gain trust and credibility with your campaign, which will keep people coming back for more.

You will need to give something in return to get people to provide you with their email address, and offering deals to people as soon as they join is an effective tactic. Consider the most common reason that people come to visit you, providing tips on how they can avoid that health problem.

Pay-Per-Click Marketing

When you want to get traffic from the search engines promptly, pay-per-click won’t let you down. If you use this method, you can bid on your targeted keywords, and the winning bidder will show up on the first page of the sponsored search results. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to get ideas of what keywords and phrases you should target. If you want to improve your efficiency, always monitor the performance of your ads by testing different keywords. Like with SEO, you can use pay-per-click marketing to target people who are looking for doctors in your area. Simply include the name of your city and that of nearby cities in your keywords.

When you start a pay-per-click campaign, you will notice that you have a lot of features and options from which to choose, but don’t spend too much time worrying about all of them. You will only want to show your advertisements to people who search for keywords that are an exact match to the ones that you have targeted. For each ad, you will have a small space to tell prospective patients what your content is about and why they should click on your link.


People respond best to visual images, which is why YouTube is perfect for a medical practice. As far as most doctors are concerned, YouTube is a waste of time that they won’t even consider using. But this factor is another thing that you can use to rise above the rest. People want to go to doctors whom they like and trust. Even though creating articles and social media posts can help in your quest, those steps can only go so far on their own. People will feel much better about trusting you if they see your face and hear your voice, and YouTube is the perfect way to connect with them.

You can compile a list of the most common questions that you get and release several videos that go over the solutions for which people are looking. Not only will this method help people get to know you, but it’s also a chance for you to show everyone how professional you are. YouTube has its own search engine, so always keep keyword optimization at heart when you create, upload and share your videos. Using the right words and phrases in the title, video description and tags will keep your videos in front of people who will want to see them. At the end of each of your videos, include a call-to-action, inviting people to check out your website or to call your office.

Final Thoughts

As the use of social media, search engines and online video sharing sites becomes widespread; nobody will be able to deny the value of digital marketing. Getting your message in as many places as possible will attract enough attention for you to grow your practice, but it also creates the opportunity to interact with your current and prospective patients. You will likely notice a difference by using one of these digital marketing outlets, but implementing two or more will provide you with impressive results.

As you strive to produce quality and relevant articles, emails and videos, people will start to view you as a leading expert in your field. But staying updated on the latest public health concerns and offering your insight is a nice touch that you won’t want to ignore. When your goal is to make yourself into a household name, following a proven digital marketing plan is sure to help you obtain a favorable outcome. Even if you don’t get positive results right away, staying true to your mission will help you attract and retain more patients than you once thought possible.

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Some CME experts remain skeptical when it comes to social media

Some CME experts remain skeptical when it comes to social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Physicians are on Facebook. Many tweet and communicate via Snapchat. They'd no sooner give up their smartphones than the rest of us would. But when it comes to satisfying CME requirements via social media, they expressed minimal interest, at least in part because there wasn't much in the way of viable and trustworthy options.

That changed late in 2016 when Physician's Weekly, which provides continuing medical education services to physicians, launched its first CME course using Facebook Live. The publishing company worked with continuing-education provider Advancing Knowledge in Healthcare (AKH) and Dr. Zubin Damania to launch its first accredited CME Facebook live-cast. The event, targeted at physicians and nurses, took place on December 12, a Monday evening at the start of a workweek.

Damania, also known as ZDoggMD, a physician personality and creator of music video parodies with lyrics rewritten to focus on health, presented a 39-minute interactive CME course for physicians and nurses on better understanding patients' decision-making processes.

See also: The provider gift ban: The day the tchotchkes died

The course touched on charged issues such as end-of-life care, highlighting insights from Jonathan Haidt's book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. During the session, participants posted comments and received replies from Damania.

“Having it live, where ZDoggMD could interact with participants, added an element of excitement,” explains Ezra Ernst, CEO of Physician's Weekly. “If you create excitement for students, they're more likely to learn.”

Damania's Facebook Live course garnered more than 34,000 views and 600 comments during the live session — and those numbers are expected to grow with the video remaining on his Facebook page and the Physician's Weekly website for a year. As of late January, 369 people have received CME credits for watching the course and completing an evaluation, which required them to answer questions on material discussed during the livecast.

Ernst says planning the course was tricky, in no small part because the companies decided to partner with Damania, who tends to go off script. But they decided his personality and influence in the social realm — he has close to 400,000 followers on Facebook — were valuable.


What makes social media an attractive CME tool is its accessibility and low cost, not to mention the speed with which it prompts immediate interaction, notes Brian McGowan, cofounder and chief learning officer of ArcheMedX, a healthcare e-learning company. Michael Leis, SVP, social strategy at Digitas Health LifeBrands, agrees, noting the excitement that comes with creating a live community.

At the same time, CME experts remain somewhat skeptical, not merely about the Facebook Live CME course, but about the value and effectiveness of social media-driven CME in the bigger picture.

“If I'm an accredited provider, I could go onto Facebook and run a one-hour educational program on the repeal of Obamacare, and the course could be up and live within minutes. I love that,” McGowan notes. “But you can't lose sight of the fact there's no evidence that it's really effective.”

See also: 10 things for pharma marketers to know about Facebook and Instagram

Despite 369 people receiving credit for Damania's course, there is no evidence it had any impact on the practice behavior of physicians and nurses.

“Whatever technology you're using, how do you get the benefit of it, but not lose the central DNA of what it means to be a good educator?” McGowan asks. “What are the interventions? What's the evidence based on the intervention?”

CME giant Lewis Miller, founder of the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions, the Global Alliance for Medical Education, and consulting firm WentzMiller Global Services, agrees, adding, “There are models of online CME that have been successful. But the risk-reward ratio remains, as does the lack of measurement of the effectiveness of it. This, for the most part, fails to include the characteristics of most effective CME — interaction, reflection, and repetition.”

On top of that are issues surrounding privacy and legitimacy. According to McGowan's research, very few physicians use social media for professional purposes. In 2012, he found that 6% of doctors use Twitter professionally; 36% said they would not use the social platform at all for professional purposes. Similarly, his research revealed that only 24% of physicians used Facebook professionally.

In fact, doctors are taking courses to learn how to anonymize their personal profiles so patients can't find them.

“It's becoming more of a routine in medical schools and hospital networks in which there's sensitivity about how they use open social media platforms,” Leis notes. “What happens if they click the ‘like' or ‘laughing' button? What does that mean? Doctors don't have the ability to control the context within which the communication is happening.”


Additionally, Miller explains that within social media it is often difficult to decipher the authenticity of a given item, especially given the rise of fake news.

“With Twitter, I find myself increasingly worried that novel ideas of diagnosis and treatment may be introduced in a manner that influences physicians and other healthcare providers to be early adopters of inappropriate and perhaps dangerous untested ideas,” he says. “These may not be presented as accredited CME, but their deleterious effect may carry over.”

Still, the skeptics don't entirely rule out social media as a host venue for impactful CME programming. McGowan — who founded a company around providing online CME — believes any such platform must allow physicians to be “super learners,” which would require features such as note-taking and the setting of reminders.

See also: Sermo opens up platform to healthcare marketers

“What if you were to take that same video of ZDoggMD and put it into an environment where physicians can take notes and set reminders?” McGowan asks. “We have data about learners who went through a CME experience that allowed them to take notes and set reminders, and it had all these nudges built into it. Not only did three times as many people complete the activity, but they learned four to six times more than those who went through the traditional online experience with the same video files.”

Leis sees potential in physician social media sites such as Sermo and Doximity, which could prove adept in leveraging live video capabilities for CME training.

“Maybe this course is going to be for 10 minutes over the span of the week, and if you miss one, you can catch up with the recorded stuff,” Leis speculates. “There's something to that live broadcast experience, and even more to that live interactive experience. Everyone's looking for what's going to be the right application of instant video now that we have the software and infrastructure capability to make it doable.”

The Facebook Live course was the first in a series of CME initiatives Physician's Weekly has planned. The company will continue working with AKH and Damania to develop more CME livecasts, including the launch of live tweet chats. The organizations are also considering adding Snapchat to their slate, Ernst adds.

“There's a trend element to Twitter that is different from Facebook and is very valuable,” he explains. “And Snapchat is a much more visual medium. Maybe we'll show procedures or demonstrations.”

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