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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.
Curated by nrip
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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. 

Erado Press's curator insight, March 11, 2014 9:36 AM

Who are all the players? Have you invited everyone? Compliance, Marketing, IT...? To make this a successful business-wide initiative, everyone needs to be involved.

Art Jones's curator insight, October 4, 2014 12:06 PM

Solid suggestions for maximizing your time invested when beginning a online marketing campaign.

Janice Krako's curator insight, November 23, 2014 10:45 AM

You must know what you're trying to accomplish and what direction you want to be moving it.....Set goal first.   

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Facebook unprofessional behavior during residency: The problem of vague criteria

Facebook unprofessional behavior during residency: The problem of vague criteria | Social Media and Healthcare |

Have you ever wondered about the behavior of surgical residents on Facebook? I have. A study from the Journal of Surgical Education posted online in June 2014 looked at the issue.

The paper, “An Assessment of Unprofessional Behavior among Surgical Residents on Facebook: A Warning of the Dangers of Social Media,” identified 996 surgical residents from 57 surgical residency programs in the Midwest and found that 319 (32 percent) had Facebook profiles.

Most (73.7 percent) displayed no unprofessional content, but 45 (14.1 percent) exhibited possibly unprofessional material. Clearly unprofessional behaviors were noted in 39 (12.2 percent) resident profiles. The paper said, “binge drinking, sexually suggestive photos, and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations were the most commonly found variables.”

There were no differences in the rates of unprofessional behavior between male and female residents or by postgraduate year.

I have blogged previously about the ill-defined nature of professionalism, and the papers’ authors acknowledged that it could be subjective. Some of the behaviors they felt were potentially unprofessional such as photos of residents holding an alcoholic drink, holding a gun while hunting, or making political or religious comments are debatable.

They referenced another paper that found similar rates of unprofessional behavior (16 percent) on Facebook among applicants to an orthopedic surgery residency program.

A 2005 New England Journal of Medicine case-control study found that practicing physicians disciplined by state medical boards were significantly more likely to have had documentation of unprofessional behavior in medical school as well as lower Medical College Admission Test scores and poorer grades in the first two years of medical school.

Unprofessional behaviors listed in the New England Journal paper were irresponsibility, diminished capacity for self-improvement, immaturity, poor initiative, impaired relationships with students, residents, nurses, or faculty, impaired relationships with patients and families, and unprofessional behavior associated with anxiety, insecurity, or nervousness.

Some of those seem a bit vague. Is diminished capacity for self-improvement and poor initiative really unprofessional behaviors?

Facebook unprofessional behavior and the unprofessional behavior documented in the NEJM paper which pre-dated the widespread use of Facebook may not be comparable.

But I suppose one could say that some of the Facebook behaviors could be categorized as immature or irresponsible.

Until stories about residents being rejected for jobs after training start emerging, there probably won’t be a change in the way they use Facebook or other social media.

Or maybe society will change.

In 1987, politician Gary Hart had to withdraw as a candidate for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination because he had an extramarital affair, and just a few years later, the president himself had a dalliance with an intern in the White House and survived.

Who thought marijuana use would ever be legalized?

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How to Win Over Patients Using Social Media

How to Win Over Patients Using Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

The times are changing and consumers are using the internet more and more to find the services they are looking for. America has changed from small towns to larger communities, and the internet is providing people with information on the area. Before, there may have been one or two Dentists in the area that everyone went to, and those Dentists would reap the benefits of word-of-mouth marketing. Now, there are many Dentists to choose from, so getting patients depends on a level of finesse and marketing. Social media is a way for new patients to find the Dentist they are looking for.

A business is put into the Google database, and it depends on reviews and having a patient-driven website to get on a top spot for Google searches in your area. A great way to get these reviews is to have good communication with your patients – offer incentives, even. Sometimes it might be difficult to get them to put up a review, but it will make a world of a difference for your search potential.

Everyone has a Facebook. Everyone. Use that free marketing tool to build up your clientele. Through this free web page, you are able to reach your patients and showcase your office and services. Connecting with patients is the way to keep them coming in consistently.

It really isn’t as easy as being a great Dentist anymore. It is important to have a catchy website that has specific words in it that people type in when looking for a Dentist. They ensure that you have the right keywords that have been proven people use to search certain companies. Those keywords are an important element to SEO marketing and how people are finding Dentists on the internet.

The internet is changing not only the face of how consumers buy things, but also how consumers know what they want to buy. Marketing companies nowadays have done extensive studies to find links between words and to track what people are looking for in groups. If a website is set up using these strategies, then the chances of having a successful business are a lot better than using the word-of-mouth marketing. We are in the future and it is time we started taking advantage of these marketing advances

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Scooped by Plus91! sending personal data to Twitter, Yahoo and Google sending personal data to Twitter, Yahoo and Google | Social Media and Healthcare |

Information entered into the US government's health insurance website is being passed to companies such as Twitter, Yahoo and Google, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The data includes zip codes, income levels and information about whether people smoke or are pregnant, which users share on to get an estimate on the cost of an insurance plan.

The AP's findings were confirmed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which conducted its own tests on Tuesday, said Cooper Quintin, an EFF staff technologist, in a phone interview.

The EFF found that personal health information was sent to 14 third-party domains whose tracking programs are embedded in The domains include those for social media and web analytics companies.

The health data is transmitted in two ways. All 14 domains receive the health data in a referrer, Quintin said. A referrer is information sent from a Web browser that lets another website know what site a person last visited.

In some other cases, the data is embedded in a request string that is sent to the tracking programs, Quintin said. For instance, Google's DoubleClick advertising service receives the data in that way, according to a blog post he wrote.

The worry is that those 14 third-party domains could collect the information and use it to identify users across the Internet for purposes such as targeted advertisements.

"This information, I would say, would be gold for any online advertising company," Quintin said.

There is no evidence that the companies that have trackers are misusing the information, however, and it's unclear if the data is being transmitted intentionally or as the result of an oversight by developers.

Quintin said trackers such as Twitter and YouTube may be there for's developers, or to make it easier for people to share content about health care on social media sites.

"I'd say most of these are probably on here just to make life easier for the web developers working on this," Quintin said. "But I think there are better ways to do all of these things which would still retain people's privacy."

The site's developers could make their own sharing button that doesn't link directly to Twitter, or run their own analytics software, Quintin said.

Officials with could not be immediately reached Tuesday evening.

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How Big Data And Social Networks Yield A Better Patient Experience

How Big Data And Social Networks Yield A Better Patient Experience | Social Media and Healthcare |

We hear lots of talk these days about Big Data changing the way that healthcare providers run their practices and deliver patient care. But there’s an equally big opportunity to empower patients: By providing them with access to information about their health and related issues, they can better advocate for their health and wellness.

Today’s consumers are accustomed to having fairly easy and streamlined access to all sorts of information, from their financial investments andtheir children’s progress in school to reviews of the products they’re considering for purchase. As a result, they can use knowledge as power to make more informed decisions about all aspects of their lives. The same is possible with their healthcare. And in a world where the average time physicians spend with each patient is declining, it’s more important than ever that patients are engaged and informed about their health.

Bringing healthcare full circle

One venue making this possible is Care Circles, an online resource launched by SAP that allows healthcare providers to deliver high-quality contextualized information – in all types of formats, including video and print – to patients. With access to this information, patients can better prepare for face-to-face meetings with providers, allowing them to focus on the nuances of an issue or concern rather than just covering the basics during their interactions.

For instance, let’s assume Nathan recently started physical therapy after undergoing knee surgery. Through Care Circles, his physician can upload aggregated information reflecting his institution’s treatment experience of other knee patients.

By accessing this information, Nathan can compare his progress to other knee-replacement patients. When he sees that his range of motion is a bit lower than others in his situation, he realizes he needs to push himself harder with his exercises at home. In this way, Nathan is more engaged in his own health and wellness.

Pulling loved ones into the mix

At the same time, loved ones can also access information via Care Circles – with permission – and be more engaged in the health and wellness of their family and friends.

Perhaps an elderly patient – Maggie – is a diabetic with a sweet tooth. Though Maggie’s doctor has emphasized the need for her to cut down on sugary treats, Maggie finds it challenging to make this lifestyle change. Maggie’s only child, George, is very concerned about his mother’s health but feels helpless to make a difference as he lives a few states away. However, with access to his mother’s blood glucose readings online, he can easily see when her levels spike. In turn, he can engage her in a conversation and try to influence her snack choices. This type of involvement can empower loved ones to become true agents of change by triggering their encouragement when it’s needed most.

Today’s consumers want to be active participants in their health and wellness. By tapping into Big Data and social networking, we can empower them – and their loved ones – to do just that.

How are you making it possible for your patients to better advocate for themselves? How is your healthcare provider empowering you – or falling short? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment or sending me a tweet.

Chiron Health's curator insight, January 28, 11:22 AM

Empower patients to engage in their healthcare! Social can help with this. 

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The Surprising Role That Social Media Can Play in Healthcare

The Surprising Role That Social Media Can Play in Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

For the vast majority of us — more than 80 percent of folks in the United States — social media is an integral part of our daily routine.

Dominated by giants like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, social media has grown to become a massive, sophisticated driving force in our culture.

They are driven by a complex web of social, political and financial factors and as a result, its is impossible to develop linear, one-size-fits-all solutions.

Social media opens new doors.

To get around this, organizations are bypassing social media’s big box stores, taking the concepts and technology that drive traditional social media to build new platforms that connects their audiences in new ways.

Several health organizations have already launched tailored social platforms that target very specific audiences and are designed to identify and share context-specific solutions.

NCDs are slowly evolving to be the next big public health catastrophe.

The platform also provides health organizations with access to specific patients, giving these organizations insight into how to best serve their patient communities.

Our solutions cannot be one-size-fits-all, so the way we create those solutions must be equally diverse and tailored.

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Discovering Health Topics in Social Media Using Topic Models

Discovering Health Topics in Social Media Using Topic Models | Social Media and Healthcare |

By aggregating self-reported health statuses across millions of users, we seek to characterize the variety of health information discussed in Twitter. We describe a topic modeling framework for discovering health topics in Twitter, a social media website. This is an exploratory approach with the goal of understanding what health topics are commonly discussed in social media. This paper describes in detail a statistical topic model created for this purpose, the Ailment Topic Aspect Model (ATAM), as well as our system for filtering general Twitter data based on health keywords and supervised classification. We show how ATAM and other topic models can automatically infer health topics in 144 million Twitter messages from 2011 to 2013. ATAM discovered 13 coherent clusters of Twitter messages, some of which correlate with seasonal influenza (r = 0.689) and allergies (r = 0.810) temporal surveillance data, as well as exercise (r = .534) and obesity (r = −.631) related geographic survey data in the United States. These results demonstrate that it is possible to automatically discover topics that attain statistically significant correlations with ground truth data, despite using minimal human supervision and no historical data to train the model, in contrast to prior work. Additionally, these results demonstrate that a single general-purpose model can identify many different health topics in social media.


Citation:Paul MJ, Dredze M (2014) Discovering Health Topics in Social Media Using Topic Models. PLoS ONE 9(8): e103408. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103408

Editor: Renaud Lambiotte, University of Namur, Belgium

Received: January 7, 2014; Accepted: July 2, 2014; Published: August 1, 2014

Copyright: © 2014 Paul, Dredze. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funding:Mr. Paul was supported in part by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. DGE-0707427 and a PhD fellowship from Microsoft Research. Publication of this article was funded in part by the Open Access Promotion Fund of the Johns Hopkins University Libraries. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests: Dr. Dredze reports receipt of compensation for travel for talks at various academic, corporate, and governmental entities and consulting for Directing Medicine, Progeny Systems, and Sickweather. Mr. Paul serves on the advisory board for Sickweather. This does not alter the authors' adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.


Several studies have utilized social media for tracking trends and analyzing real world events, including news events, [1] natural disasters, [2] user sentiment, [3] and political opinions. [4][5]Twitter is an especially compelling source of social media data, with over half a billion user-generated status messages (“tweets”) posted every day, often publicly and easily accessible with streaming tools. [6] By aggregating the words used by millions of people to express what they are doing and thinking, automated systems can approximately infer what is happening around the world. Researchers have begun to tap into social media feeds to monitor and study health issues, [7] with applications in disease surveillance and other epidemiological analysis.

By far the most commonly analyzed disease in social media is influenza. Many researchers have tracked influenza in social media data, most commonly Twitter, using a variety of techniques such as linear regression, [8][10] supervised classification, [11][12] and social network analysis. [13] Researchers have also used social media to study cholera, [14] dental pain, [15] and cardiac arrest, [16] as well as population behavior including physical activities,[17] mood and mental health, [18][19] and alcohol, [9], [20] tobacco, [21] and drug use. [22]Twitter has a desirable property of being a real time data source, in contrast to surveys and surveillance networks that can take weeks or even years to deliver information. Additionally, users of Twitter may candidly share information that they do not provide to their doctor, and thus it is potentially a source of new information, such as off-label use of medications. [23], [24].

Studies like these rely on the detection of specific illnesses such as influenza or health topics such as exercise. In this work, we instead describe how to perform discovery of ailments and health topics. We do this using topic models, which automatically infer interesting patterns in large text corpora. We believe an exploratory, discovery-driven approach can serve us a useful starting point for medical data mining of social media, by automatically identifying and characterizing the health topics that are prominently discussed on social media. Our goal is not to improve modeling of any one specific illness, but to demonstrate a model for illness discovery. While we may validate the discovered illnesses against specialized approaches for tracking each specific illness, the strength of our model is that it allows discovery of new illness in new data without a priori knowledge. Furthermore, our list of discovered illnesses contains several that have previously been unexplored in Twitter, suggesting new areas for directed research, described in the Discussion section.

In this paper, we describe a statistical topic modeling framework for identifying general public health information from millions of health-related tweets. In addition to a basic topic model, we also describe our Ailment Topic Aspect Model (ATAM), previously used to analyze tweets from 2009–10. [24] This framework is used to explore the diversity of health topics that are discussed on Twitter, and we find that many health topics correlate with existing survey data. Our specific contributions are: (1) we describe a current end-to-end framework for data collection and analysis, which includes multiple data streams, keyword filters, and supervised classifiers for identifying relevant data; (2) we analyze a set of 144 million health-related tweets that we have been downloading continuously since August 2011; (3) we provide many previously unpublished details about the creation of our classifier for identifying health tweets and details of ATAM, our specialized health topic model, including procedures for large-scale inference; (4) we evaluate this framework and topic model quality by comparing temporal and geographic trends in the data with external data sources. We experiment with both a basic topic model and ATAM, as well as individual keyword filters for comparison. This article is an extension of an earlier unpublished technical report [25] and includes a longer explanation of ATAM and LDA, more technical detail such as the Gibbs sampling update equations, and more experimental comparisons between various approaches than any of our previous studies on this subject.

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Caveats for Marketing Your Medical Practice Online

Caveats for Marketing Your Medical Practice Online | Social Media and Healthcare |

You invested no small sum constructing a website to promote your practice. It's visually appealing, user-friendly, and literally teeming with keywords and original content, the so-called holy grail of search engine optimization (SEO). So why is your online traffic tapering off? Medical practices that market themselves through websites, blogs, and social media are fast discovering that the tools they use to attract and retain patients are increasingly less effective — and worse, may negatively impact their visibility. "Google's algorithms that determine where your [webpage] ranks on the results page are constantly changing, so what worked two years ago doesn't necessarily work today," says Wes Reuning, executive vice president and co-owner of SEO Advantage, an online marketing firm in Tampa, Fla. "It's a moving target."

A good example? When online marketing was new, businesses could bolster their search engine ranking by paying for hyperlinks (called backlinks) connecting other pages to their webpage. Many also exchanged links with other websites without regard to relevance, in a reckless attempt to drive traffic. But Google got wise. The tech giant has since deployed sophisticated algorithms to flag websites with low quality, "spammy" or irrelevant backlinks. "Not only are those links of zero value today, but companies are now being penalized for it," says Reuning. In extreme cases, Google and other search engines even blacklist websites they suspect of using abusive marketing tactics from showing up on their results page — a veritable death sentence for organic traffic.

As search engines become better adept at separating the wheat from the chaff in cyberspace, practices must ensure that their digital strategy steers clear of the cardinal sins of SEO, including keyword overload, bogus guest blogs, and press releases that lack merit. At the same time, they should seek to polish their Internet presence to be sure it doesn't alienate mobile users, or negatively impact branding through poor design and subpar social media missives. "You always have to keep the user experience in mind," says Austin Paley, corporate marketing manager for Blue Fountain Media in New York. All customers, he notes, including patients, push back against marketing disguised as content.

Apart from toxic links, for example, the keywords embedded on your home page can count against you if you artificially saturate your website in an attempt to influence your search engine ranking. Keywords, included in headlines and written text, offer a description of what your website is all about, like your specialty, service offerings, or office location. When patients type in those words, or some combination of them, your website pulls up among the search engine results. How high you rank depends on, among other things, the quality of the content you post and the caliber of the websites that link to your page. "There's still value in using keywords, but you have to be very strategic," says Paley. "If you want users to know that you're a family practice in New York City, don't throw the word "New York City" 16 times in a 400-word post. It's awkward and doesn't read well." Google screens for keyword density, but just as important, warns Paley, keyword stuffing detracts from your brand. "The average reader knows it's a bad post," says Paley. "If you're doing all this weird stuff online, what's that say about your practice?"


Guest blogging, which occurs any time you create a post on a website other than your own in order to link back to your own site, can also land you in hot water with Google. "It's not so much about the quality of your blogs as it is about where they are posted," says Thomas Hofstetter, managing partner with online marketing firm Points Group in Morristown, N.J. Google monitors your link profile, or the list of hyperlinks that point to your website, he says. If that profile includes too many low-quality backlinks, you may get blocked. "With enough low-quality links pointing to your site, a search engine will assume that your site is low quality and not worth putting in their search results." Worse, they may suspect that you are paying to post those blogs or otherwise attempting to game the system.

- See more at:

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Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Online Reputation

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Online Reputation | Social Media and Healthcare |

The patient experience is one that can propel a medical practice towards success or can be its downfall. It is virtually impossible to maintain a perfect patient satisfaction rating; however practices should strive towards it.

Online business listing sites such as Google, Angie’s List and RateMDs have made it easy for both satisfied and dissatisfied customers to share their experience. While this may be a source of apprehension for businesses, it should not prevent them from expanding their medical marketing strategy online.

Negative patient reviews are uncommon with the vast majority of all reviews posted online being positive. When one does happen, however, it can be devastating to the practice if not managed carefully and swiftly.

Most negative reviews do not come out of the blue. They are sparked by an incident that may have been isolated or recurring. If it is a recurring problem, it is vital to take measures to remedy it. Sit down and talk with the staff about any changes planned to improve the patients’ experience.

If a negative review is found, resist the urge to delete it. Instead take a deep breath and try to understand the review from the patient’s perspective. Promptly address the review in a warm, courteous tone and apologize for the poor experience they had. Offer a solution and let them know that you are taking measures to ensure their next experience is a positive one.

Negative reviews do not have to be a blemish to your online reputation. If handled properly and promptly, many patients will remove their negative review. So encourage patients to share their experience online. Need help managing your practices online reputation? Give MindStream Creative a call to discuss how we can help monitor your practices online reputation.

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Twitter posts highlight patient fears over CT radiation risk

Twitter posts highlight patient fears over CT radiation risk | Social Media and Healthcare |

 If tweets are any indication, many patients are concerned about the issue of CT radiation dose risk, and radiologists need to get more involved on Twitter to alleviate these concerns, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

After examining content on Twitter related to CT and radiation over the course of a year, lead author Dr. Vinay Prabhu, of NYU Langone Medical Center, and colleague Dr. Andrew Rosenkrantz found that the majority of posts had a concerned or unfavorable view regarding risk and were posted by nonphysicians. Furthermore, most links were to lay press and other nonpeer-reviewed sources.

Dr. Vinay Prabhu of NYU Langone Medical Center.

"We believe that more active engagement on social networks by radiologists, physicists, and radiologic technologists is warranted to achieve a more balanced representation and alleviate substantial concerns relating to CT radiation risk that appear to dominate the social media atmosphere," Prabhu and Rosenkrantz wrote. "Indeed, social media provides a compelling outlet for radiologists to take advantage of their training and knowledge in this area to engage patients in ways otherwise not possible."

Prabhu and Rosenkrantz culled 621 relevant tweets by 557 unique users from the first week of each month of 2013, assessing the posts' content regarding CT's benefit-to-risk ratio as unfavorable/concerned, favorable, neutral, or informative (AJR, January 2015, Vol. 204:1, pp. W48-W51).

Physician users were in the minority: Only 90 of the 557 users were physicians (16%), and 17 of these 90 physicians were radiologists. Thirty of the 557 users were medical practices or hospitals (5%), of which 10 were radiology-related. Of the remaining users, 34 (6%) were patients, eight (1%) were physicists or technologists, and 395 (71%) were other types of users such as businesses, reporters, or other health professionals.

Prabhu and Rosenkrantz found that 227 tweets included commentary about CT's benefit-to-risk ratio:

  • 59% were unfavorable
  • 29% were neutral
  • 10% were informative regarding CT dose-reduction strategies
  • 3% were favorable

Among the 621 total tweets, 472 (76%) included links to 99 unique articles; 25% of these articles were unfavorable, 10% were favorable, 25% were neutral, and 39% were informative. The majority of the articles were from nonpeer-reviewed medical sources, with lay press and peer-reviewed medical journals coming in second and third, respectively.

Brave new (radiology) world

Radiologists' lack of participation on Twitter may reveal a broader lack of activity by the profession in working to inform public opinion on important topics such as CT and radiation risk, the authors wrote. But it's time to step up: Taking to social media fits well with the current shift in practice from radiologists acting solely as image interpreters to becoming part of the healthcare continuum, Rosenkrantz told

"Our role is not just to interpret images, but also to enhance patient care across the whole healthcare spectrum," he said. "Patients have questions about issues like CT radiation dose, and part of the radiologist's role is to respond. Twitter is a good way to do that."

Are there obstacles to radiologists using social media more frequently? There shouldn't be, Prabhu said.

"Radiologists tend to be tech-savvy, since our field is technology-heavy," he said.

In any case, it's important that accurate information about CT and radiation be widely available, they wrote.

"Because Twitter is likely to influence [patient perspectives], radiologists, physicists, and radiologic technologists are in a position to take a proactive approach, offering Twitter content about the topic that is credible and helpful and takes advantage of their training and expertise in the area," they concluded.

Jan Vajda's curator insight, January 25, 5:57 AM

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Importance of Google Reviews for Doctors & Dentists

Importance of Google Reviews for Doctors & Dentists | Social Media and Healthcare |

If you’re like most searchers, you probably use reviews to help you find a new restaurant, electrician, or even a child care center. The same happens when patients are looking for a new dentist or healthcare provider. These reviews help patients learn more about your practice – and increase your search engine rankings.

But why are Google reviews connected to your local SEO? Let us explain!

Google uses a multi-faceted algorithm to rank dental and healthcare search results. This algorithm includes a variety of ranking factors including the physical address of the practice, consistency of citations across the web, and the domain authority of the website. It also includes Google reviews.

Because Google’s main goal is to give users the best search results possible, reviews help Google show that one practice is better than another. This enables consumers to make better healthcare decisions.

Reviews are not only important on Google, but on other popular reviews sites as well, including,, and Google will pull reviews from these other sites and include them in their ranking factors. The more quality reviews you have, the better your local SEO.

Tips to Encourage Patients to Write Reviews

Getting patients to write reviews can be tricky. It’s important to follow specific guidelines so your reviews don’t get penalized or removed. Here are a few tips to help patients write reviews:

  • Ask Patients Via Email Newsletter - If you use an email newsletter to communicate with patients, work in verbiage that asks readers to review you on your Google, Yelp or Healthgrades profile. Send out the direct link to the page, along with some instructions (if necessary) to make the process quick and easy for them.
  • Ask Patients After Their Appointment - As you’re wrapping up an appointment, politely ask your patient if they wouldn’t mind leaving you a review. You can also give them a handout with instructions on leaving reviews and where.
  • Don’t Offer Incentives - Offering gifts or discounts in exchange for a review may help motivate people to write a review, however it goes against many review site guidelines. This can get your reviews permanently removed, or worse, your profile removed.
  • Respond to Reviews, Especially Negative Ones - Getting negative feedback is tough, however it allows you understand how patients view your practice. By responding to the reviewer, you’re showing patients that you value their input – and will make the necessary adjustments to keep them happy. It can also prevent a patient from leaving your practice for a competitor.

Google reviews play an important role in Google search visibility, your overall healthcare internet marketing strategy, and new patient acquisition. Reviews from happy, satisfied patients allow consumers to learn more about your practice – and increase your position in the search results.

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How to Use Social Media to Market Your Medical Practice

How to Use Social Media to Market Your Medical Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |
Tips on Getting Started with Social Media

Until recently, the importance of social media marketing and participation has been frequently overlooked by medical practitioners and small practices in general and instead focused on by traditional businesses. While privacy laws exist that can make information sharing difficult, instead of the concern, social media marketing should be a priority.

It’s been proven that Internet users spend the majority of the online time on social networks. They’re involved in groups, sharing their daily happenings and looking for useful information. Most importantly though, especially to those involved in the medical field, is that these users are looking to connect. They want to build relationships online; in many cases this happens before a real-life meeting even takes place.

When it comes to patients and potential patients, this is truer than ever. Because of insurance options and changes, patients have more control and choices when it comes to selecting medical professionals to oversee their care. They want to find practitioners who show that they care, who take the time to get to know them on a personal level and who make an effort to be helpful. This is where a social media presence and strategy come into play.

Where do you start? Check out a few tips below.

Find the Right Network

Because of the rise in the popularity of social networks as a whole, networks have arisen that focus on a variety of media: video, photos, status updates and more. While an Instagram account may be beneficial for a fashion designer, it’s probably not going to help a medical professional connect with patients.

As a starting point, medical providers should focus on Facebook and YouTube. By taking the time to build a presence on Facebook, patients are able to view how-to’s, news items, to ask questions and to get to know the providers. It’s an excellent network to build a multi-faceted social media page.

YouTube has also proven beneficial for medical providers. By posting videos, patients can get a feel for the personality of the doctors and learn more about the services that they provide. Remember, these videos can also be shared on Facebook.

Focus on Content

Just as important as selecting the right network is sharing the right content. Medical providers should think about the questions they’re asked, the cases they see on a regular basis and news pertaining to issues related to their specialty.

Content should be created and shared on a regular basis. This allows the practice to become an information source and to focus on the fact that patient education is an important, integral part of their operations.

While content must be relevant, engaging and strong, it should also be regular. By taking the time to make social media content a priority, medical practices can see an increased online engagement level over time.

Give Patients a Reason to Participate

Whatever methods a small medical practice chooses when starting a social media initiative, allowing patients to participate gives them the opportunity to feel valued without even having an appointment. Feeling a sense of connection is an integral part of any business relationship, a doctor to patient relationship is no different.

Provide a forum that allows patients to ask questions about scheduling, areas of focus and more. Patients should be encouraged to share testimonials, providing an incentive like a contest could help in this area. When people have a reason to engage, they’re more likely to make the effort.

Social media is an important aspect of a successful medical practice and should be a priority in all specialty areas.

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Infographic – Connected Physician – Oncologist Q2 2014

Infographic – Connected Physician – Oncologist Q2 2014 | Social Media and Healthcare |
Oncologists Use of Digital (Q2 2014)
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Expert hints: 7 ways to avoid HIPAA violations via social media

Expert hints: 7 ways to avoid HIPAA violations via social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

These days, social media is king. Everything has become shareable and information can be passed along with just a click of a post or tweet button. But what happens if someone posts their negative feelings about your clinic, your staff, or even you online for the world to see? What if a patient desperately needs answers to their eye issue and reaches out to you via Facebook or Twitter for an answer?

These scenarios can quickly turn into violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) if handled incorrectly.

More in this issue: why specialty physicians need to look at EHR platforms differently

In this Q&A with Misti Buard, a certified marketing coach, we delve into everything physicians need to know to prevent HIPAA violations through social media.

How should ophthalmologists handle a bad online review on sites such as Yelp? Is there anything they definitely should not do?

Bad online reviews should never be ignored (especially those on Yelp or Google!). Some say that you should respond privately to a bad review, but that isn’t wise. Think about it, why would one respond privately to something that was written for everyone to see—and that ‘something’ is a bad reflection of their practice?

The best way to handle this situation is by joining the conversation. Address the issue (publicly) and more importantly, ask the patient how they’d like the issue resolved. Acknowledging the negative review publicly allows onlookers (potential customers) to see that the ophthalmologists values patient satisfaction, and that he/she is willing to go above and beyond to make sure that their patients are happy.

Monitoring Yelp and other sites weekly should be a best practice that each ophthalmologist follows. Positive reviews will encourage more patients to walk through your door, bad reviews will not.


What does HIPAA mean for ophthalmologists who are active online?

?Rule of thumb for ophthalmologists who utilize social media sites: If you wouldn’t say it in an elevator, then you shouldn’t say it online.

The same HIPAA policies that are followed inside of the office, must be followed online.

How can ophthalmologists avoid a HIPAA violation?

The best way to avoid a HIPAA violation is by planning ahead. By that I mean create a social media plan each quarter. A social media plan will help ophthalmologists and their staff know exactly what content is being posted and the day it will be posted.

In case you missed it: Making fun of doctors

The key to avoiding any violations is truly preparation (going back to the social media plan). Allow me to use this analogy: Before a parent sends their six year old to school each day, the parent makes sure that their lunch is packed, their homework is complete and that they’ve been fed breakfast (maybe not exactly in that order). But that’s exactly how ophthalmologists should prepare their social media content.

If an office manager is in charge of creating the social media plan, then the doctor should review the plan along with the content that will be posted. Planning ahead will avoid any last minute/random (just so we can get our name out there!) posts. The parents of that 6 year old I mentioned earlier may worry about their child throughout the day, but I guarantee that they aren’t worried if their child completed their homework or not. Why? Because they reviewed the homework to verify if was complete before sending the child to school.  Ophthalmologists should do the same.

The content that is posted should be two things, either educational and/or engaging.  

A sample post could be as follows: Here are 5 tips on how to protect your eyes during the summer! After the tips are listed, the audience should be engaged by asking an open-ended question such as: “Which one of these tips do you and your family practice?”

Educating staff about HIPAA compliance is another must that should be done in order to avoid any violations.


Do you have any examples or scenarios?

There was an “unintentional privacy breach” that happened a couple of years ago.

Alexandra Than, MD, posted a few of the things she’d witnessed in the emergency room on her Facebook page. She didn’t include any names, but she wrote enough information that an individual was identified. She was fired from Westerly Hospital in Rhode Island.

A court document re: Alexandra Than:

Are there areas that ophthalmologists would not think about when it comes to social media and HIPAA violations?

Yes, there are. For instance, there were several holiday parties toward the end of 2014, and if a doctor and his staff decided to take photos in their office and post them onto social media sites- they could easily get into trouble if a patient’s file is nearby and their name can is visible.

Of course at the time they’re just having fun and spreading holiday cheer, but if the name on that file can be read— the practice has violated HIPAA.

What should an ophthalmologist do if someone is asking for advice via social media?

A doctor should never give guidance or recommendations via social media. If someone is asking for advice via social media, the doctor should advise the patient to visit the nearest ophthalmologist.

Is there anything else you think ophthalmologists should know/be aware of in regards to HIPAA and social media?

Learning the ins and outs of social media would benefit ophthalmologists.
Separating their personal account from their business account could definitely save any future headaches. (Some ophthalmologists go as far as creating pseudonyms for their personal pages.)
Don’t “friend” patients on social media sites.
One of the most important things to remember is that nothing is ever private, even if it’s shared privately on your personal page.

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Online Healthcare Information Trends

Online Healthcare Information Trends | Social Media and Healthcare |

Women are more likely than men to use telehealth services for urgent care after calling an urgent care hotline, according to a new infographic by iTriage.

The infographic examines other key online healthcare information trends based on the use of iTriage's services, including top health concerns searched and the most searched medications.

Nirogya Health's curator insight, January 28, 9:41 AM

some useful tips...

Roz Ben-Chitrit's curator insight, January 28, 12:22 PM

Interesting findings. I wonder why women are more likely than men to use telemedicine for an urgent visit...

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4 online healthcare marketing mistakes and how to fix them

4 online healthcare marketing mistakes and how to fix them | Social Media and Healthcare |

Most practices appreciate the value of online marketing, but what it takes to use these channels effectively is a moving target. Much of the advice about search engine optimization that was valid just two years ago, for example, is obsolete today, noted a recent article from Physicians Practice.

While the nuances of online marketing can be complicated and sometimes require outside expertise, practices can correct many common mistakes themselves. To determine whether it's time to make some simple changes to your online strategy, ask the following questions:

  • Are you mobile friendly? Many practices forget to optimize their web design for mobile users, Austin Paley, corporate marketing manager for Blue Fountain Media in New York, told Physicians Practice. Websites that are designed using Flash software are especially problematic, he said, because many mobile devices do not support Flash and therefore won't render such pages correctly, if they load at all.
  • Are you communicating value? The most successful healthcare social media pages are those operated or contributed to by physicians, Nic Nevin, chief executive officer of ifXmedical in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., toldPhysicians Practice. "If you put the lowest person on your totem pole in charge of your social media, the chances that they're going to provide relevant content for your practice are pretty remote," he said. Regardless of who does the actual posting, it's critical that the content shared communicates value and the human side of the practice in a meaningful way, according to experts.
  • Is your advertising targeted? If your practice is paying for Facebook Ads, for example, take advantage of included tools that help you zero in on your target audience, Adam McConnell, founder and CEO of Pulse Digital Marketing, wrote in MedPage Today. "Don't waste money on eyeballs that don't need your services or can't afford them," he wrote. "Know your ideal patient inside and out, their socioeconomic status, who sets appointments for the family, their interests, and then show your ads only to them. It's better to have a couple thousand very targeted people than tens of thousands of disinterested folks."
  • Is your call to action as easy as possible? Whatever you want patients to do, make sure the page you're sending them to is set up to facilitate that action. For example, if you want people to book appointments online, put your appointment form front and center, McConnell advised. If it's phone calls you want, ensure your phone number is not only on the page but also clickable, he added.

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Social Media's Growing Role in Healthcare Marketing

Social Media's Growing Role in Healthcare Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

While we have all heard “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” the real fruit of the healthcare industry today is social media. Social media is a bridge connecting people, ideas and emotions to answers. Possibilities. Healthcare is growing at a rapid pace, but the sphere of influence driven by social media is growing even faster.

With the development of smart phones and high speed internet comes the need for instantaneous results, brand relationships and full-disclosure. This trend does not circumvent the healthcare field. The impact a strong social presence can have on healthcare providers and patients alike knows no bounds.

Consumers today are hungry for information… And they want it now.

Nearly 34 percent of consumers find themselves using social platforms such as online forums, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to find and share medical information (Source: Demi & Cooper). In fact, a recent consumer survey suggests 72 percent of patients in the U.S. searched online for health-related information before and after visiting their doctor.

What does this mean for healthcare providers?

Consumers cling to the most accessible data they can get their hands on, whether it is accurate or not. It is imperative in this day and age to be a reliable source for your target audience. Additionally, 54 percent of patients are comfortable with their healthcare providers seeking advice online to help treat their condition. In these situations, having high-quality information readily available can help you establish credibility not only with consumers, but among industry colleagues, as well.

Consumers today want to develop brand relationships.

As shocking as this might sound, consumers WANT to be brand loyal. It makes their lives much easier to know who they can and cannot trust in industries they care about. It just so happens the way consumers today build these relationships is through their online interactions.

Being a part of the conversation is crucial when fighting to gain credibility as an expert in the healthcare field.

“Early adopters of social media in the health sector are not waiting for customers to come to them,” Ed Bennett of the University of Maryland Medical Center told “If you want to connect with people and be part of their community, you need to go where the community is and connect before you are actually needed.”

Nearly 2,337 hospitals in the United States have already bought into this truth in one way or another. Whether they are pushing out educational content through blog posts or commenting on Sally’s Facebook status about her daughter’s successful transplant: they are joining the conversation, making themselves known and most importantly trusted in the social stratosphere.

Consumers today are willing to share anything and everything.

Social media has completely transformed the way consumers view transparency. Whether you are a doctor, a patient or a parent, you have unlimited access to data on the Internet.

A recent study shows that 30 percent of adults are likely to share information about their health on social media sites with other patients, 47 percent with doctors, 43 percent with hospitals, 38 percent with a health insurance company and 32 percent with a drug company.

Social media opens the door to deeper and more productive discussions about diseases, symptoms and treatments. Podcasts and real-time updates of major catastrophic events and procedures through social media platforms are becoming a huge way to bolster the reach of a message. Social media also has become an outlet for patients and families to find support and guidance during what can be a terrifying and confusing time in their life. This degree of authenticity has never before been seen in healthcare.



As a result, 60 percent of doctors say social media improves the quality of care delivered to patients.

What does all of this mean for you? Simply put, a social media presence is a game-changer for healthcare providers throughout the industry. If you are readily available when consumers need answers and are looking for someone to trust, your business can only sky-rocket.

Israel George's curator insight, January 27, 3:18 PM

Healthcare Marketing for Consumers of Social Media.

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How Healthcare Can Use Social Media Effectively And Compliantly

How Healthcare Can Use Social Media Effectively And Compliantly | Social Media and Healthcare |

As a regulated industry, many healthcare organizations have avoided the use of social media, and have even tried to squelch its use by their employees. However, some healthcare providers are beginning to realize that there are opportunities to serve the public, patients and physicians, all while building awareness and enhancing their brand.

Who Is Using Social Media?
Consumers, especially the younger generation, use social media to research and to make health decisions. These decisions include the selection of their doctor, hospitals and even courses of treatment for both themselves and their family, including their parents. These consumers are well-versed in social media and expect their providers to be equally adept.

Patients, who are already active social media users, consider themselves part of a tribe and tend to trust others on social media more than other sources. It only makes sense that they will use social media to connect with each other to share their experiences with both rare and common disease and health issues.

Physicians can use social media to network professionally with colleagues and peers and to share medical knowledge within the medical community. Some doctors also believe that the authenticity of social media can drive better quality of care.

In short, social media is a platform where the public, patients and healthcare professionals can communicate about health issues and possibly improve health outcomes. However, as the healthcare industry slowly begins to embrace social media, the legal and risks of non-compliance with rules and regulations have never been higher.

Compliance With Rules and Regulations
There are multiple federal and state rules and regulations that govern communications within the healthcare industry. One of the main challenges facing healthcare organizations is the protection of the privacy of patient information. To this end, firms must also show that they are supervising the activities of their employees with access to patient information. Companies planning to use social media also need to ensure that their electronic records are complete, secure and tamper-proof for record retention and audit purposes. Non-compliance with healthcare regulations can not only damage the reputation of a firm, it can also impact the bottom-line.

Legal Issues
In addition to being compliant with various rules and regulations, healthcare providers should also consider legal issues such as patient privacy, litigation and physician licensing before using social media.

Federal and state privacy laws limit providers’ unfettered ability to interact with patients through social media because anything that can be used to identify a patient, including pictures, is protected. Should patient information be disclosed through social media without patient authorization, providers would be subject to fines and other Healthcare providers are vulnerable to lawsuits from a wide variety of sources. Firms may be required to produce information requested by the opposing party, which may include social media. This means that firms need to be prepared to capture, archive and make all electronic communications available on demand. Expensive fines, loss of the lawsuits and negative publicity could result if this is managed poorly, or not at all.

Healthcare professionals need to be careful about providing medical advice to patients using social media. If a patient receiving the medical advice from a doctor through social media is located in a state in which the doctor is not licensed, the doctor giving the advice risks liability under state licensing laws.

Use Social Media Effectively And Compliantly
In spite of the risks, healthcare organizations can begin to use social media to support better health outcomes for the community. However, before they begin, they need to follow some steps to stay compliant and to help avert legal issues:

Gain support from executive leadership and develop metrics for success.
Create a Social Media Working Group with representatives from across the organization to address concerns and talk through solutions.
Interpret existing rules and regulations protecting patient information and maintaining records as it pertains to social media.
Establish an acceptable employee use policy for social media and clearly communicate the policy to all staff.
Put technology in place that controls and monitors social media communications in real-time and flags any posts that contain certain key words or phrases for review before they can be posted.
Capture records with a system that preserves the format of social media communications, including edits and deletions. If asked, you want to be able to swiftly search and retrieve past communications in context.
Archive electronic records so that they are e-discoverable in the event of litigation or upon the request of regulators and in accordance with federal and state recordkeeping rules.
Conduct education and training programs for staff who will be using social media, including real-life examples to illustrate how to use social media and how not to use it.
Craft a content strategy and create a library of content that may be easily posted on social media by staff to reduce the chances of patient information being leaked.
Develop processes for Legal and Compliance to approve content before it is posted on social media.
Deploy an ongoing feedback loop to show executive leadership how social media programs are meeting metrics.

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Top 7 Reasons a Busy Doctor Needs a Powerful Website

Top 7 Reasons a Busy Doctor Needs a Powerful Website | Social Media and Healthcare |

I recently bumped into a specialty practice that did not have a website. The Internet has become such a significant “front door” for healthcare providers and hospitals that having no online presence—nada, zip—was surprising.

For this specialty practice, attracting new, self-referred patients was not a priority. “We’re already busy,” they told us. “Our appointments are full to capacity with [professional] referrals. Why do we need a website?” What’s more, being busy left little time to work on creating a (seemingly low priority) Internet presence.

On the surface, having an “all referral” practice and a steady stream of patients is, to a certain extent, an enviable situation. But digging further into the current situation of this medical practice, it was evident that new (competitive) doctors had arrived in the area, and the comfortable referral stream of patients—the lifeblood that they were taking for granted—was about to change dramatically.

In fact, there are many reasons why even a busy, “at capacity” doctor or medical practice marketing plan needs a powerful and effective website as the cornerstone of an Internet presence.

Here’s our list of the Top 7 Reasons…

#7. Things change rapidly in healthcare. Reliance on a single channel for new patients, even from multiple referral sources, is a risk given the certainty of change in healthcare. An Internet presence helps maintain and grow your referral stream.

#6. Patients use the Internet for due diligence. Referred or self-referred, prior to making an appointment, many patients will go online to acquaint themselves with the practice. Having little or no Internet presence takes the patient elsewhere…likely to a competitive provider that they’ve found online.

#5. Referring doctors also use the Internet for due diligence. No doubt your CV is sterling, but your online presence is instantly available and it speaks volumes to professional colleagues about you and your work.

#4. Stand out among the competition. “Being invisible” online is simply your gift of new business to another practice.

#3. Protect, maintain and grow market share. The Internet is a primary consideration in healthcare marketing. This is where prospective patients—customers—survey their options.

#2. Change your patient mix for more desirable patients and cases. Simply being busy is no assurance of attracting an optimal balance of cases and patients. Internet marketing can influence this mix.

#1. Protect and extend your professional reputation. Having no presence available online could be a negative signal to others. Your story—whatever your healthcare colleagues and the public know about you—is strongly influenced by what you present online.

Better than 50 percent of patient healthcare provider selections are directly or indirectly influenced and guided by information found on the Internet. As the nation’s healthcare delivery system has evolved today, having no online presence is simply not an option.

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How To Develop Patient-Centric Clinical Trials In The Internet Age

How To Develop Patient-Centric Clinical Trials In The Internet Age | Social Media and Healthcare |

As technology, people, and data become more closely intertwined in the age of the Internet of Things, the pharma industry is finding its tried and true clinical trial model to be increasingly challenged. With the rise of social media, patients are becoming more invested in making their voices heard in the clinical space, says Susan Romberg, VP of global clinical development, NA, Chiltern. Indeed, Romberg says this movement toward patient-centric trials and drug development has been primarily spearheaded by the patients themselves because of the greater number of resources available to them via the Internet.

“More than ever before, patients and their caregivers are well informed about their disease and can more easily access information and treatment options than they could just a few years ago,” Romberg says. “They are more engaged with their healthcare providers, and thanks to the Internet and social media platforms, they are communicating and engaging with other patients who are seeking a community to discuss their disease experiences and the treatments available.”

Susan Romberg, VP, Global Clinical Development, NA, Chiltern

The pharma industry is no stranger to these new developments, and it has certainly identified the benefits that can come from involving the patients in the clinical trial development process: better written protocols and higher recruitment and retention rates. However, even more importantly, updating protocols to become more patient centric would give the industry a chance to get an inside look into what exactly living with a specific illness is like and alter drug development accordingly.

Romberg says, “This firsthand knowledge of what it is like to progress through study visits and procedures while managing an illness, jobs, and families is not something that can come from within the industry. Patient feedback can be used to develop studies that make patient participation as easy as possible while providing the data we need to take the next step for further development.” 

Taking Advantage Of The Internet Of Things

While social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are hardly new, they remain largely unchartered land for the pharma industry. Much of this hesitance has to do with the lack of official FDA guidance. However, the lack of guidance is not keeping patients and patient advocacy groups from sharing valuable information that pharma can — and should — be mining to move forward. When it comes to patients, Romberg says even privacy laws are not holding them back from remaining connected with each other, which creates the perfect opportunity for pharma to gain more insights for trial development.

“Despite prominent HIPAA laws surrounding patient privacy, patients are freely sharing their personal health information on a variety of websites — for instance, PatientsLikeMe, Michael J. Fox Foundation, and ALS Association, among others — so that their combined data (i.e. patients’ onset and progression of a disease, frequency of AEs, and alternative treatment options) — can be used to expedite treatments and cures,” says Romberg.

She emphasizes the need to integrate a social media component into development teams and project plans, which would in turn enable teams to integrate patients’ passion into clinical trial development. To do so, she suggests several members of the development team join forces with the advocacy groups working with the targeted patient population. There are a number of forums on Facebook, for example, where teams can turn to gain access to information both about the disease and its patient population. The use of #hashtags have also played a key role in organizing the world into industries, groups, and movements, and pharma should remain aware of these tools, especially considering the success of the recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Besides integrating a social media component into development teams and project plans, Romberg also says the industry needs to pay close attention to emerging wearable devices and Bluetooth technologies. She highlights smart-watches, smart phones, fitness trackers, and contact lenses that can track patient’s biometric data, while also offering information via push notifications and text messages. Blue-tooth technology in particular holds a lot of promise for patients affected by illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease or schizophrenia, where dosing schedule adherence can be an issue. While there is still hesitance in the industry about the accuracy of the data made available through these technologies, Romberg envisions a future where these devices and apps will enable patients to remain involved in a trial, regardless of where their lives take them.

Similarly, she homes in on the role clinics, urgent care facilities, and pharmacy chains will play in making the clinical space more patient-centric. Mini clinics and urgent care facilities are currently resources for patients seeking treatment for common illnesses or routine treatments, such as flu shots. However, because many of these facilities are members of a pharmacy chain or are owned by a larger healthcare organization, patient data can be shared more easily across their network. In this case, location would no longer be an issue for patients. Romberg expects that, “Soon, a snowbird from New England participating in a trail will be able visit one of these mini clinics for their trial visit while spending the winter in a warm southern state – It’s coming!”

What Can Pharma Do?

So how can pharma begin to make patients key players in the drug development process? Getting patients integrated into the process early is key. In the beginning, even offering patients the opportunity to review a draft protocol and procedural schedule can give the patient and the development team better insight into how appropriate and manageable the trial will be for the patient and their illness.

“Begin by asking patients when and how they want to be involved. Something as simple as a discussion around how participating in the clinical trial process would impact the patient could prove insightful for the development team. It’s important to remember that not all patient populations are educated on the drug development process, so partnering with advocacy groups and providing education on the drug approval process should be a first step.”

Involving the patient in the trial process can help pharma realize improved protocol designs and targeted site selection, among other benefits. However, the success of this movement is also dependent on a shift in perspective within the industry. According to Romberg, “The industry is too comfortable with how we have been conducting and implementing trials over the years. True change requires real effort.”

This change in clinical development procedure needs to be spearheaded equally throughout an entire organization — regardless of position or rank within a company. A successful transition from sponsor-centric to patient-centric trials ultimately requires forward-thinking leaders who are willing to listen to patients discuss their disease experiences and take this knowledge back to clinical development teams.

In doing so, Romberg argues this will enable the industry to experience firsthand what patients’ go through in the course of their illness, as it is easy to forget the difficulties patients may have managing treatment regimens and side effects while also carrying out their daily tasks. “Frequently, we ask patients to jump through some pretty big hoops,” Romberg concludes.  “How can we not listen to what they have to share with us to make their experiences with a clinical trial more pleasant and beneficial for all?”

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Using Patient Experiences on Dutch Social Media to Supervise Health Care Services

Using Patient Experiences on Dutch Social Media to Supervise Health Care Services | Social Media and Healthcare |

Background: Social media has become mainstream and a growing number of people use it to share health care-related experiences, for example on health care rating sites. These users’ experiences and ratings on social media seem to be associated with quality of care. Therefore, information shared by citizens on social media could be of additional value for supervising the quality and safety of health care services by regulatory bodies, thereby stimulating participation by consumers.

Objective: The objective of the study was to identify the added value of social media for two types of supervision by the Dutch Healthcare Inspectorate (DHI), which is the regulatory body charged with supervising the quality and safety of health care services in the Netherlands. These were (1) supervision in response to incidents reported by individuals, and (2) risk-based supervision.

Methods: We performed an exploratory study in cooperation with the DHI and searched different social media sources such as Twitter, Facebook, and healthcare rating sites to find additional information for these incidents and topics, from five different sectors. Supervision experts determined the added value for each individual result found, making use of pre-developed scales.

Results: Searches in social media resulted in relevant information for six of 40 incidents studied and provided relevant additional information in 72 of 116 cases in risk-based supervision of long-term elderly care.

Conclusions: The results showed that social media could be used to include the patient’s perspective in supervision. However, it appeared that the rating site ZorgkaartNederland was the only source that provided information that was of additional value for the DHI, while other sources such as forums and social networks like Twitter and Facebook did not result in additional information. This information could be of importance for health care inspectorates, particularly for its enforcement by risk-based supervision in care of the elderly. Further research is needed to determine the added value for other health care sectors.

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Pinterest's New Smart Feed

Pinterest's New Smart Feed | Social Media and Healthcare |

Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social networks! As of June 2014, it about 53 million monthly active users in the U.S.

Pinterest has evolved since it was launched in March 2010.  In the past, users would see a stream of chronological content from people they follow. Now users are shown a variety of relevant content based on a number of factors. This new algorithm is called Smart Feed.

With this new algorithm, pins will no longer come up in chronological order based on the date and time it was pinned. Now it will be based on popularity. By using tools such asPinterest Analytics you can see what types of content people have been pinning from your website and which boards are getting the most engagement.

Based on this new information continue to create and curate content that your audience wants to see. If they continue to engage with it, those pins will start to show up in the Pinterest Smart Feed.

Like with other social networks, descriptions are key.  Make sure to write descriptions with user-friendly language, and include keywords from your most popular content and Pinterest Interests so they’ll get noticed in searches as well as the smart feed.

Pinterest is a wonderful platform for marketing your business. Make the smart feed work for you.

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5 Things You Don't Know About Marketing To Doctors

5 Things You Don't Know About Marketing To Doctors | Social Media and Healthcare |

Physicians are the central stakeholders in U.S. medicine. Each doctor averages a couple thousand patients under care and controls a couple million in healthcare spend each year. But for marketers, doctors are often seen as one of the most challenging and expensive groups to reach. There are less than a million practicing physicians in the U.S. and each is highly specialized in their daily work. Many of the things marketers hold true for other consumer and business audiences are entirely false in medicine. Here are five unexpected facts about physicians you should consider for your next marketing campaign:

1. Doctors don’t have a desk. Literally. The majority of physicians aren’t sitting in an office each day, they’re mobile-first. Between scrubbing in for surgery, sleeping in the on-call room, writing prescriptions, and stepping out for some much-needed coffee, doctors don’t end up spending a lot of time in front of an actual computer. Instead, they favor their mobile devices, often checking lab results and keeping each other up to date on their phones and tablets. Their busy schedules have made it such that they were the first group in the U.S. to be truly mobile. Smart marketers should target their digital campaigns to be mobile-ready first. 

2. An Apple a day doesn’t keep the doctor away. Doctors love their Apple devices. Today, 85% of doctors are iPhone users, compared to 32.5% of the general population who choose the Apple phone over any Android model. Doctors not only love iPhones, but they’re fast about adopting them, too. Within nine weeks of its release, nearly one in four physicians was already using the iPhone 6. (To put that in context, iPhone 6 represents only 14% of the consumer market today). When planning your medical campaigns, make sure to use Apple, not Android, as the leading device. 

3. Doctors can’t use email or text as we know it. Due to strict HIPAA regulations requiring all patient-related communication to be encrypted, doctors are virtually banned from using email and SMS messaging in their daily work. When doctors update anyone on their team about their patients’ progress, the fax and pager are still king. HIPAA violations result in fines of up to $1.5 million dollars - making physicians very cautious about the way they collaborate. Communication between doctors is a huge issue in American medicine. Although we as marketers don’t face the same challenges, we should incorporate both traditional and nontraditional methods in our tactics, from email, to tablet or phone-optimized advertising, to direct mail campaigns for reaching physicians. 

4. Doctors are highly social. Leave all your preconceptions about nerds in labc oats at the door! From late-night study sessions in medical school to working in multiple clinics or hospitals, doctors rely heavily on professional networking throughout their careers. Doctors, especially primary care physicians, send hundreds of patient referrals a year, which is further proof that medicine is powered by strong physician relationships.
While doctors are highly social, you won’t find them connecting to each other on Facebook or LinkedIn. Some may leverage Facebook for their personal network or LinkedIn to drive patient awareness of their practice, but those networks aren’t used for their day to day work.  

5. Context is king. When you’re marketing to doctors, it is especially important to know your audience and address their needs. This means going above and beyond in terms of hyper-targeting. Remember, they’ve been training for decades and much of what they practice is extremely specific. Make sure you know their clinical or academic focus before reaching out. The next time you write something for cardiologists, consider whether they are electrophysiologists, interventional cardiologists, or even better, “interventional cardiologists with a focus on coronary artery stents.” Find knowledgeable medical advisors who can ensure that the healthcare terminology and targeting in your campaigns makes sense for physicians.

Now that you have a better sense of what the professional life of a physician is really like, how will you adjust your marketing strategies? Focusing on mobile instead of desktop advertising? Finding the social networks where physicians connect? Or bringing on a expert medical advisor to ensure your marketing content passes the sniff test? With a little extra consideration, your next campaign is sure to be a hit with physicians.

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Building Your Online Reputation As a Physician

Building Your Online Reputation As a Physician | Social Media and Healthcare |

Physicians and doctors are most vulnerable to first impressions – even online. Patients and potential patients tend to make decisions based on first impressions except if a doctor comes highly recommended by a trusted source. In addition to the pressure of needing to make a good impression, about 90% of people who need to see a doctor will first check online to find out the reputation of a physician or his clinic. Thus, not only do doctors have to work on presenting a credible and trustworthy face-to-face consultation, they also have a bogey man in the form of the Internet.

In a study done by the Harvard Business School, the results reveal that when a reputation is reduced to being reviewed according to star ratings, a single star drop will result in a 10% decrease for the business. This also applies to doctors’ clinics and practices.

Doctors who have yet to establish an online reputation or profile also stand to lose from patients who are not interested in “trying out” an unknown professional. Experts are being firm that doctors have to come onboard with using the Internet to add credibility to their practice and reputation. It’s only a matter of time before online reputations will be at par with one’s reputation within the medical community and the college and medical school diplomas and other certificates and plaques proudly displayed inside a doctor’s office.

If you’re unsure if you even have an online reputation, why not search for your name on the Internet? If you are not happy with the results or lack of results, you need help. There are SEO and Online Reputation Management (ORM) specialists who can help you establish an outstanding and credible online reputation. These specialists can:

  • Remove or bury negative posts so they do not show up on the top pages of a search
  • Build your reputation
  • Manage your professional social media accounts
  • Correct false information
  • And put you on the Internet map so you are easily found by the people who need your services.

Some doctors are hesitant to establish an online reputation for 2 reasons: they don’t know how to do it or they fear doing the wrong thing online like posting something that would violate protocol or the Health Information Privacy rules under HIPAA.

These reasons only magnify the need for a professional to handle online reputation because whether a doctor wants it or not, there are multiple free doctors review websites and about 79% of doctors find themselves being rated by current and previous patients, according to The sad part about these review websites is that the average number of patients that rate physicians is 2.4 which would mean a skewed result.

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