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

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

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How to Use Digital Marketing to Grow your Healthcare Practice

How to Use Digital Marketing to Grow your Healthcare Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |

As a healthcare practice, it is really important to stay top of mind with your current patients and also future patients. By using digital marketing there are so many ways to stay connected.

One question we get asked a lot is:  

“How do we increase our engagement and promote our practice with digital marketing?”

Well, that answer is a little tricky since there are many different options out there. It’s more of a combination of different tools to make your digital marketing work for you. In the digital marketing world, it is about trial and error, seeing what your audience responds to the most and how to start those conversations. 

In this blog, I am going to talk about 5 ways to help increase your engagement and promote your practice. 

Word of mouth and referral marketing are still the best ways to grow your practice, but with people being able to access information from SO many places we have to be a little more creative and think outside the box to build those relationships and loyalty.

Once they have come into your practice you want to make sure you stay top of mind, more importantly, you want to make sure you have good online profiles so it is easy for your audience to refer you.

How many of you have wanted to try something new with digital marketing but just don’t know where to start or what to try?

Social media marketing is one of the most popular ways to get in front of your current audience and potential new patients.

You can do this organically or implement paid ads as well. This is not an overnight success, it does take time, but it does work!

Let’s talk about the 5 Ways to Help Increase Your Engagement and Promote Your Practice:

1. Instagram

We have been talking about Instagram a lot this year and we will continue to do so, it is one of the fastest growing social media platforms with the average age 35-65-year-olds. Instagram is all about the visuals, from building a strong brand presence on your feed, having font styles on your images, color scheme, image theme, etc. this makes your feed look clean and interesting. Let’s dive into how to master Instagram Stories

This biggest thing with Instagram right now is the Instagram Stories, these stories only stay up for 24-hours, so this is a great place for:

One really cool thing you can do with these stories is “Highlight” them, this saves them into an area about your feed pictures, you can categorize them so all your stories go to the correct boards.  This turns into a great resource for your audience, each video on Instagram Stories can be 15 seconds long, you can record a 45sec to a 1 min long video and then use this app called CutStory and it automatically cuts your video into 15-second increments for you to share.

You can also create branded Instagram stories images with Canva, they have different themes you can choose from, you can use your own font styles, brand colors, logo, and images.

Now, you may be thinking what if I do a video that is more than 1-minute long, where should I put that? Well, don’t worry, Instagram has you covered and that is where IGTV comes into play. This is similar to YouTube but it allows your audience to watch the full video on Instagram, they don’t have to leave the platform.

A few ideas to create IGTV videos around are:

  • New mother tips
  • Birthing Plan
  • Vaccines
  • Physical Therapy
  • Counseling Tips
  • National Observance Days
  • Surgery Tips
  • New medical practices
  • Interviews with nurses and doctors

Instagram has a lot of bells and whistles you are able to tap into and really grow a long-lasting relationship with your audience.

2. Video Marketing

It’s 2019 and it’s all about the videos! Video marketing is huge and will continue to grow. Videos are great because it allows your audience to connect with you quicker. We wrote a blog a few months ago about “How to Create a Strong Video Marketing Strategy” videos are something you either love or hate.

Videos can be educational for your audience, videos with closed captions are even better. Here are a few good stats about video:

Let’s dive into the statistics behind healthcare marketing with video:

  1. About 46% of people say they’d be more likely to seek out information about a product or service after seeing it in an online video. (Source: Eloqua)
  1. Video is now the sixth most popular content marketing tactic, as 70% of B2B marketers use some form of online video with their overall strategies. (Source: Eloqua)
  1. Of the 80% of internet users who watched a video ad, 46% took some sort of action after viewing the ad. (Source: Video Brewery)
  1. The average user spends 88% more time on a website with video. (Source: Mist Media)
  1. Video and e-mail marketing can increase click-through rates by more than 90%.(Source: Mist Media)
  1. Video equals higher viewer retention. The information retained in one minute of online video is equal to about 1.8 million written words. (Source: Brainshark)
  1. Video attracts two to three times as many monthly visitors, doubles their time spent on the site and has a 157% increase in organic traffic from search engines. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  1. Blog posts incorporating video attract three times as many inbound links as blog posts without video. (Source: SEOmoz
  1. 59% of senior executives prefer video over text. (Source: Brainshark)
  1. Having a video on the landing page of your site makes it 53% more likely to show up on page 1 of Google(Source: Mist Media)

Source Here

When you think of video marketing, most people think you have to have a studio, pay a professional, take a lot of time on editing, props, backgrounds, and more. In all honesty with the technology of the newer smartphones and HD cameras, you can really shoot your own videos in office. Actually, the more authentic videos are the ones that get the most engagement online.

A couple of things to remember when shooting a video from your smartphones when you are recording a video for Instagram be sure to have your phone vertical, and when shooting a video for YouTube, Blogs, or Facebook you will want your phone horizontal.

Let’s start recording! Be Authentic, real, give value, and have fun!

3. Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are climbing higher on the list for digital marketing, gone are the days where just having a Facebook page worked, Facebook pages work great if you plan on spending money on ads.

There are a ton of Facebook groups out there that your practice can join, you can even start your own group.

For example – Let’s say you are a women’s medical office, Your services include OB-GYN, birthing center, primary care, pediatrician, etc. But, one special thing that your office focuses on is wanting to help new mothers with education. Vaccines, breastfeeding, car seats, home care, feeding, etc. Most of your patients come from within a 25-mile radius of your office, you can create a group on Facebook called “Tips for New Mothers YOUR CITY” in this group you can invite your current patients to join, post daily, as your group continues to grow you will post two or three times a day. You are creating a community of women that are going through the same thing and want answers. You can allow the members of the group to post questions and concerns for your practice to answer. This is a wonderful way to create trust with your patients. You can then start to mention the other services your practice offers.

In this video below, I will show you how to start a group from scratch and also how to search for groups to join.

4. Email Marketing

Email marketing is NOT dead, I know some may think that email marketing and newsletters are a waste of time, but they actually work great. It is a convenient way to stay top of mind with your patients. With social media marketing and the algorithms it’s hard to really know who has seen your organic posts, then to monitor the engagement. Now, the insights and analytics on the social media platforms tell you how many likes, comments, and shares you had on posts. With email marketing, you can actually see who opened your emails, who read them, and who clicked through to your website.

There are a few ways to incorporate email marketing into your plan:

  • Content Upgrades, also known as Free downloads. This is a piece of content you put together for your ideal patient to download, in order for them to download it they have to submit their name and email. For example – if we go back to the example in number 3, you could create:
    • Newborn checklist
    • Going home checklist
    • Breastfeeding Tips
    • New Momma Myths
    • Top 10 products to have at home for your new baby
    • etc.

This pdf would then be uploaded to your website and linked into MailChimp or Leadpages to create a landing page with the form for name and email, you can then push this out to social media, your current email list of current patients. Over time you will create quite a few content upgrades. Make a list of different checklists, ebooks, resources you can create for your patients now and then you push that out to gain new email subscriptions to grow your email list. This is an example of what a sign-up form looks like:


  • Newsletters – You can send weekly or monthly newsletters to your lists, in some cases you may have multiple lists and can customize a newsletter for each list based on your audience. It is important to understand what your audience wants to know about so you can pack your newsletters with valuable content. It doesn’t matter if you do weekly updates or monthly, what matters most is consistency. Whatever you choose to do be sure to stick with it. You can also incorporate your videos into these emails, this allows you to build those deeper relationships!

5. Blogging

Blogging serves dual purposes, it is great for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and it allows you to show your expertise. When you are promoting your practice on social media your end goal is to get them back to your website to sign-up for your email list, book an appointment, or fill out paperwork, how do you give them an incentive to go back to your website?

When blogging just like everything else we have spoken about it is all about consistency. One blog per month or two, as long as you do one each month, these are no longer 300-500 word blogs, these are cornerstone blogs which means 1500+ words per blog. We recently wrote a blog on how to share your blog, in that post there is a FREE download, a blog checklist, you can download it here.

Your blogs should cover content that your audience wants to learn about, whether this is myths around vaccines, childbirth, new momma tips, etc.

This is where you tie the above 1-4 items into your blogging. In each blog post you will be:

  • Making an image you can share onto Instagram
  • Make a “teaser” video for Instagram with 3 inside tips from your blog
  • Create a longer video for IGTV about your blog
  • Create videos to go inside your blog post – you will place these videos on YouTube then insert them into your blog posts
  • You can also create a content upgrade or call to action for your readers to sign-up for your email list. Here is an example of a great blog post

Your website/blog is your hub, you want to drive traffic to your hub. Once your blog is complete you can then share it to multiple platforms with links back to your site, this helps reach new potential patients as well.

As you can see through these 5 different marketing platforms, they each allow you to grow your practice and connect with your audience on a deeper level. They all work based on consistency and planning. This is why having a digital marketing plan is so important.

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Using Social Media Marketing As A Medical Spa

Using Social Media Marketing As A Medical Spa | Social Media and Healthcare |

A lot of people think of social media as a place to stay in touch with friends and family members. Social media is a useful tool for connection, but it can also be a fantastic way to market your Medical Spa. These are some of the ways you should be using social media marketing as a Med Spa.

Make Sure Your Business Is Easy To Find

Decades ago, people would pick up the phonebook when they wanted to find a local business. Today, people use social media in a similar way. A lot of people don’t use search engines when they want to find a business near them. Instead, they search on sites like Facebook to see what is available.

You’ll want to make sure you have a presence on major social media platforms, and you’ll also want to make sure your contact information is posted there. If you make it simple for people to find your business, you’ll naturally attract more clients.

Use Social Media To Engage With Potential Patients

You won’t want to be overly distant with prospective patients if you can help it. Instead, you’ll want to make it easy for people to reach out to use. Patients and people that are considering your practice can send you messages via social media. You should make a point of responding to these messages quickly.

If people have a question for you, you’ll want to give them a prompt response. This kind of engagement could draw people to your practice, and it could boost your overall customer satisfaction levels as well.

Social Media Marketing Can Bring More People To Your Website

If people find your Med Spa practice on social media, they may not stop at visiting your social media page. A lot of the people that find you on sites like Twitter and Facebook are going to click through to your website.

Social media is useful on its own, but it’s also a way to attract people to both your website and your practice. As long as you have plenty of links on your social media accounts, you’ll be able to guide people to where you want them to go.

Social Media Can Establish Your Brand

Think about the brand you want your Medical Spa to have. How do you want people to perceive your practice? Social media can help you to build a brand and shape the way that other people see you.

With every post you make on social media, you’ll be able to control the impression that people have of your practice. A lot of people will encounter your practice for the first time on social media. You can make sure that their initial impression is a positive one.

If you’re not using social media marketing as a Med Spa, you should learn more about social media and how you can use it effectively. Social media is one of the most powerful tools you have in your arsenal. If you’re able to use it effectively, you can expect to see some big results.

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9 Digital Hospital Marketing Strategies To Find Today's Patients |

9 Digital Hospital Marketing Strategies To Find Today's Patients | | Social Media and Healthcare |

With urgent care centers popping up all over and clinics tucked in the back of pharmacies, patients now have more choices than ever when it comes to their healthcare providers. The same goes with hospitals. These days, many patients are becoming more involved in choosing a hospital for their procedures, relying less on a simple reference from their doctor. Hospital marketing strategies have had to change with the times, too. This form of modern healthcare marketing acknowledges that patients have a choice and helps them understand why they should choose your hospital group for their care. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Why is hospital marketing so important?

It used to be that family and friends were the most reliable and trusted source of doctor and hospital recommendations, but now 89% of patients trust Google to answer their questions and recommend healthcare providers.

And then there is this: in 2017, the U.S. had 5,564 hospitals. In 2019, that number has risen to 6,210. That rise may not seem like much, spread as it is over two years and the entire country, but remember the ubiquity of urgent care centers and pharmacy clinics. Urgent care centers and clinics see millions more patients every year than emergency rooms do, and that gap is increasing every year. Simply put, there’s more competition out there.

You know your hospital offers high-quality care by your compassionate and experienced doctors and nurses. It’s time to use hospital marketing strategies that let everyone else know, too.

9 digital hospital marketing strategies to use

Here are nine digital marketing strategies to help you connect with your local patients.

1. Set clear goals

What are you trying to achieve with your healthcare marketing? Deciding on some goals before you begin is crucial.

You need to figure who your audience is and what they want and need as a part of this crucial first step. If your facility focuses on cutting-edge, world-class cancer treatment services, for example, your hospital marketing strategies might not include targeted ads for new mothers. Keep the message consistent and directed to those you want to reach.

And remember that patients are not the only ones watching. Physicians and other organizations (e.g. universities) are keeping an eye on your digital marketing efforts. If you are actively recruiting both patients and new team members, this is important to consider.

2. Focus your healthcare marketing on quality of care

Because Medicare now may reimburse on the basis of patient satisfaction, some hospitals are rolling out the red carpet and offering amenities that rival the swankiest day spa.

While this might be on-brand for your hospital, it’s not absolutely necessary in terms of how many patients choose you. More polling indicates that although a plush robe is nice, what patients really want is expert doctors and low rates of surgical error or complications.

3. Stay HIPAA compliant

No matter what hospital marketing strategies you use, make sure that your digital marketing efforts are HIPAA compliant.

This means protecting sensitive patient information and getting the proper releases whenever you use images or patient data (among other things!).

4. Be social

With millennials on the horizon about to overtake the Baby Boomers as the biggest generation in the U.S., the best marketing strategy for hospitals might just be to swipe right on social media. Millennials have $1.3 dollars in buying power annually, and they are beginning to enter hospitals as new parents. And because 85% of millennials have a smartphone, this is the most digitally connected generation ever.

Meet them where these patients are with the perfect social media campaign.

What’s considered perfect will depend on your goals, your audience, and what you want to achieve. Are you trying to be more connected to current patients? Are you looking to develop more partnerships with your community leaders? Make sure your social media campaign is authentic and focused on those efforts and patients.

Once you know what you want, consider moving beyond simple organic social media to localized social media ads or other tools for engagement.

5. Develop great content

Many hospital marketing strategies begin and end with a website that’s more than a few years out of date. Don’t make the mistake of treating your website as a digital version of the yellow pages. Create great content to engage patients and their families.

This could include:

  • Information on your services
  • Videos of patient testimonials
  • Videos of procedures
  • Blog posts on issues in your hospital or healthcare
  • Links to relevant articles and research
  • FAQ pages that might include actual patient questions and your team’s answers

Great content keeps patients on your site and engaged for longer (and “dwell time” increases your Google search rankings).

6. Don’t forget the facts

Make sure patients can find your facility with your thoughtful, well-designed, easy to navigate website that has complete contact information and easy-to-use directions. Claim your Google business page and use Google My Business for classes, events, or to introduce new staff. Prominently add information you know new patients will want, like accepted insurances.

Make sure all information is up-to-date, and place contact information on every page. If your hospital has multiple locations, use best practices for local SEO to differentiate one location from the other.

7. Get mobile, and get fast

Mobile devices account for 64% of all daily Google searches. Optimizing for mobile isn’t optional anymore. A page’s mobile responsiveness has a direct impact on their Google ranking.

Regardless of where the searches happen – on the go or at the desk – site speeds matter. You have about three seconds for your hospital’s page to load before prospective patients click away. Test your site’s speed and adjust if you need to.

8. Don’t neglect SEO

As with all digital marketing, hospital marketing strategies must include SEO.

SEO (search engine optimization) makes your website easy for search engines to read and, thus, easy for patients to find.

9. Get out into the community

Sometimes the digital tools just won’t cut it, and you need to go analog. Focus some of your marketing time, attention, and dollars on community health initiatives that address concerns in your hospital’s region.

This combines digital tools (asking for suggestions for health-related classes on social media) with IRL actions to strengthen your hospital’s relationship with your community.

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Why Your Medical Practice Needs Digital Marketing

Why Your Medical Practice Needs Digital Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

Making yourself known to the people who need your services is the whole purpose behind marketing, and the medical field is no exception. Finding the most efficient, reliable way to deliver treatment to the people in your community is paramount, and long before you ever have the opportunity to help patients, your practice must be made readily available (and accessible) to the people you are hoping to treat. By giving your medical practice a wider, more receptive audience every day of the year, social media and digital marketing can help make this process as easy as possible.

Though print ads may still hold value for many practices, the vast majority of your clients are going to find and evaluate your practice online. Consequently, social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram provide the greatest and most immediate marketing value of any medium in use today. Of course, much of this value stems from modern audiences’ expectations rather than the actual medicine. The prominence of social media throughout every aspect of users’ lives makes having an appealing, active Facebook business page a necessary component of your marketing strategy and an invaluable digital representation of your practice. Beyond just the quality of your services, the presentation of your practice online plays a large part in convincing clients to seek you out for treatment over another practitioner in your field. Particularly for medical practices, maintaining a current, modernized presence online gives prospective patients the impression that the rest of your business is as up-to-date, responsive to clients, and accomplished as your website and social pages. Regardless of your area of expertise, finding a digital identity that suits your practice and shows you and your work in the best light should be the first step in optimizing your marketing.

In addition to bringing your practice to the widest overall audience currently in existence, the Facebook and Instagram platforms grant you greater precision when targeting smaller audiences for your content, from standard demographics to personal and professional interests. This has the benefit of saving you both time and money and reducing the amount of work that goes into promoting and creating each new piece of content. By only showing your ads to the people who are most likely to respond to them, you can more directly engage your audience and cut down on less effective, broad advertising. Moreover, these features are also applicable to staffing, should you ever need to fill a position or expand your practice.

The other critical advantage of social media and digital marketing is the level of interaction and personalized engagement with your audience enabled by social platforms. Where before you only had the opportunity to express concerns or exchange information over-the-phone and during exams/sessions, neither of which has proven especially popular among patients, social media establishes a direct line of communication between you and your audience. As well as gauging your audience’s response to certain pieces of content, social media engagement can help you augment your marketing and services according to audience preferences and interests without delay. All of this, more importantly, goes into improving clients’ experiences with your practice and, by doing so, increasing the likelihood of referrals and recommendations while optimizing your business in the meantime. Social media may not cover every aspect of digital marketing (you will always need a strong, built-out website as your foundation), but it is an increasingly vital component and one that no medical practice can afford to go without.

Even in a field as well-entrenched and demanding as medicine, social media and digital can fulfill most of the marketing needs for a growing practice in 2019. Make the switch today, and start giving more patients higher-quality care in less time. Call us at (702) 720-6560 to learn more and discuss your unique marketing needs.

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Social Media Marketing for Healthcare Businesses

Social Media Marketing for Healthcare Businesses | Social Media and Healthcare |

Watching your doctor’s Instagram Stories or hashtagging your latest surgery might seem a bit, well, odd.

The reality, though? Social media and healthcare go hand-in-hand.

Consider that a staggering 80% of people take to the web to research conditions, diagnoses and doctors.

And yeah, you better believe social media is part of the mix.  

From hospitals and dentists to cosmetic surgeons and beyond,  there’s a reason why medical professional are stepping up their digital marketing like never before.

But social media can be tricky for growing practices.

From minding your messaging to generating leads, medical businesses can’t afford to just “wing it.”

The truth, though? Social media for healthcare businesses doesn’t have to be brain surgery. In fact, it’s surprisingly similar to just about any other type of social marketing once you break it down.

Think about it. Your patients are your customers. You want them to come through your doors time and time again, not just for their business but also for their well-being.

Below we’ve highlighted how healthcare businesses can put together a social media strategy that makes sense.


What Should Healthcare Businesses Post, Anyway?

Fair question and a solid place to start! Healthcare marketers might feel like they’re at a standstill when it comes to their content strategies.

Don’t sweat it. Here are some ideas that apply to just about any medical practice.


Factoids and Educational Content

As noted, patients and prospects are on the hunt for education and answers.

Many healthcare professionals see it as their duty to make sure the public is well-informed. That’s why posts related to medical news, statistics and surprising facts are so effective. Such posts can prompt your patients to take action and likewise serve as a reminder that you’re looking out for their well-being.


Show Off Your Team

Anything you can do to show your practice’s personality and warmth is a plus.

After all, not everyone looks forward to a doctor’s visit (including the rising number of Australian’s who suffer from “white coat syndrome”).

Highlighting the smiling faces and professionals behind your practice can help give patients some much-needed peace of mind. Likewise, it only takes a few seconds to snag a snapshot and publish it to Facebook or Instagram.




Show Off Your Patients, Too

User-generated content such as customer photos are awesome for marketing but can be somewhat complicated due to patient confidentiality laws.

Before you post anything regarding a patient to social media, make sure you have explicit permission and that your messaging is something positive. For example, many professionals use their patient photos to inspire or motivate their followers.



On a related note, customer photos via influencers are becoming increasingly popular among practices including dentists, dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons. If your social media healthcare produces “before and after” results, getting in touch with local micro-influencers is a smart move and a scalable way to show off your success stories.



Side note: use your best judgment when it comes to your healthcare business’ tone on social media. For example, cracking jokes or posting lighthearted content might be fair game for a cosmetic surgeon, but not always in good taste for a practice serving seriously ill patients.


Take Your Followers Behind-the-Scenes

If you think that people aren’t interested in the day-to-day happenings at a medical office, think again.

For example, Australia’s own Davin Lim has amassed over 300k YouTube subscribers and 50k Instagram followers who watch procedures from his dermatology practice.


YouTube, in particular, has become somewhat of a goldmine for very specific healthcare niches. For example, there’s Dr. Sandra Lee (aka “Dr. Pimple Popper”) with over 5 million rabid subscribers who are obsessed with gross-out content like blackhead removals. More recently, chiropractic adjustments have been all-the-rage.


Weird, right? You’d be surprised at just how fascinated the public is about medical procedures in general: you can use that curiosity to your advantage with the right content.


How to Generate Healthcare Leads from Social Media

Now, the end-game of social media for healthcare businesses should be an influx of new and returning patients.

The good news? You can achieve both brilliantly, particular through the use of Facebook.

For example, you can run remarketing ads that reach your current followers orpeople who might have bounced from your practice’s website. Facebook themselves have highlighted a number of healthcare industry success stories to better illustrate how such ads could work for your business.

Another benefit of Facebook is that you can laser-target demographics to squeeze more out of your budget.

For example, a cosmetic surgeon in Sydney who primarily works with women can hone down their ad-serving based on factors such as location, age and interests which mirror her target audience. The same rules apply to practices serving new parents or the elderly.

The beauty of Facebook is that you can encourage bookings directly from the platform by placing a call-to-action button on your business page. This funnels your social traffic directly to an appointment or contact opt-in so people can get in touch ASAP.

You can likewise use Facebook’s Messenger as an easy point-of-contact for patients and prospects. This is ideal for customers who might be nervous about getting on the phone or have simple questions.

Better yet, we’re seeing chatbots being used in social media for healthcare businesses to put customer service on autopilot. These are useful for answering simple questions for patients at a moment’s notice to keep them from bouncing. Check out how bots such as Florence make it happen.

And of course, regularly posting content (articles, promotions, reminders) serves as a consistent push for your followers to book appointments.


Which Social Channels are Right for Healthcare Businesses?

There is no “right” answer to this, although Facebook is definitely the go-to platform for just about any local, brick-and-mortar business. Healthcare businesses are no exception.

Between Facebook’s awesome ad platform and the ability to engage local customers, it’s a no-brainer.

The platform likewise boasts the largest audience of any social network, especially among customers who aren’t Gen Z. Oh, and Facebook also allows for ratings and reviews which serve as awesome social proof for future patients.

Instagram has plenty of potential for specific healthcare niches. Again, it’s a prime platform if you have a practice that relies on forward-facing results. If nothing else, Instagram is ideal for showing off your team and publishing testimonials.



For healthcare businesses who want to highlight their professionalism, LinkedIn is a great place to put your expertise front-and-center. This includes highlighting your mission statement, industry research and connecting with fellow healthcare professionals.

And lastly, there’s YouTube. With video marketing booming like never before, publishing some form of video content whether it be your practice in action orsimple advice videos can be valuable. Solely for the sake of SEO, having a YouTube presence can help you rank for high-competition keywords related to your business  (for example, these YouTube videos are on the first page of Google for the query “Sydney cosmetic dentistry”).

And with that, we wrap up our guide!


Could Social Media Give Your Healthcare Business a Boost?

Chances are your prospects and patients have a medical question on their minds.

Why not be the helping hand that they need?

Promoting your healthcare business via social media is a surefire way to introduce your practice to new patients and nurture the ones that you already have.  If you’re interested in doing just that, feel free to contact Hello Social today to see how we can help get things rolling!

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Enhance Healthcare with a High Social Media IQ

Enhance Healthcare with a High Social Media IQ | Social Media and Healthcare |

Although the medical field consistently embraces technology, many healthcare leaders and physicians are either hesitant or refuse to use social media. Some are not savvy with online communication, and others are reluctant because they don’t see the time invested to be beneficial. However, these platforms can generate a significant return on investment for healthcare professionals who establish a strategic online presence. Read on to discover how developing a high social media IQ can humanize healthcare and positively impact your hospital or health system.

Help patients who don’t even step foot in your office

Since patients are becoming empowered to conduct online research about their health, healthcare leaders should have a voice in the narrative. Most online information is not controlled and some isn’t accurate, so it’s important that medical professionals are aware of the dialogue and contribute content that is both informative and readily available. The American Osteopathic Association’s online survey found that nearly one-third (32 percent) of sampled Americans have taken an action related to their health—such as changing diet, exercise, or medication—as a result of information they read on social media. This is a very powerful statistic for two different reasons. First, people could be trusting inaccurate sources and making detrimental decisions based on those findings. Second, this shows that medical professionals have an easily accessible tool to positively impact patients’ lives without even meeting them. All you must do is produce meaningful, engaging content to establish yourself as a thought leader in the social stratosphere.

Write your own review

What would a quick Google search say about a physician at your facility? More than 40 percent of people look online for information about physicians; one-third of patients will click on the first result in a search; and fewer than 10 percent of people will read the second page of results. It’s prudent for medical professionals to be aware of their online presence so that they can balance out negative comments if necessary. Prospective patients often search for reviews on public sites, like Facebook and Yelp. Sometimes, patients leave positive reviews, which can encourage someone to see a provider and positively benefit your organization. However, sometimes their experience wasn’t favorable.

So, how can physicians improve their online presence? By sharing informative articles, publishing studies, and posting relevant anecdotes, providers can essentially create their own reviews. Their positive content becomes available to people who are seeking information and enhances the physician or healthcare organization’s credibility. Since patients are actively searching for pertinent information, medical professionals should try to produce content that will help patients see their positive contributions and  that will illustrate their character. That way, one negative review probably won’t have as large an impact as all the valuable pieces of information the physician has posted.

Run damage control

Monitoring social media also can provide an opportunity to control negative situations or fix a less-than-desirable opinion. Raymond Hino, the administrator of a California-based surgery center (and former president and CEO of a West Coast medical center), writes a FierceHealthcare web post encouraging hospital and healthcare leaders to develop a high social media IQ.

Hino shares an anecdote about his own perusal of Facebook as an administrator. He received a notification about a post from a patient regarding his facility that made him uneasy. He then consulted the patient’s physician and read him the post. During the next appointment, the physician didn’t tell the patient that he was aware of the post, but because he already knew some of the patient’s feelings, he could check in to ensure there were no unaddressed concerns. After the appointment, the patient included a positive review of the physician and the facility on Facebook. By taking a few extra minutes to monitor the surgery center’s social presence, the facility was able to simultaneously create a positive patient experience and receive a recommendation. Even though the communication required some attention, it was well worth the effort.

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Social media: New communication platform, but old rules still apply

Social media: New communication platform, but old rules still apply | Social Media and Healthcare |


· Social media is a powerful double-edged sword capable of providing access to education and also leading to negative consequences when misused.

· Old rules of communication etiquette apply to social media.

· Nurses should educate themselves about proper social media use and act responsibly.

· Mindful social media use is crucial to ensure personal and patient privacy, safety, and security.


Social media example: A nurse posts on social media about how fulfilled she feels after successfully performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a person in the local grocery store.  

Potential pitfalls: The nurse left out the person’s name and the name of the grocery store, but her friends all know where she shops and one or more may know the person on whom she performed CPR. They might be able piece together the story, which will create a breach of privacy. Maybe the person didn’t want others to know about the cardiac event at the grocery store. 

 For many of us, social media, such as Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Facebook, defines how, when, and where we communicate. We share our thoughts and ideas in blogs, wikis, podcastsand videos, and we can enter chat rooms and have heart-to-heart talks about our livespersonal and professional. These platforms are powerful and far-reachingcreating ramifications that challenge our privacy and regulatory laws and can either enhance our profession or cause harm both to the profession and to individual nurses careers. 

Privacy and HIPAA 

Social media and electronic communication have created a need to review, revisit, and rewrite guidelines to maintain and protect patient privacyand our own. Many organizations are reframing how, when, and where staff and patients can use social media platforms, with the goal of maintaining privacy and confidentiality for everyone. Security and privacy settings and data encryption are used to maintain electronic health record integrity, but our personal electronicdevices may be vulnerable to security breaches. In many cases, privacy settings aren’t as private as we think.  

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted to protect patient and client privacy, but the ease with which we share information, even when we change patient’spersonal data, may leave enough information that a person’s identity can be uncovered. And remember, HIPAA protects the public, not the organization or the provider.  

You know the rules

Much has been written about the “do’s and don’ts” of social media communication, but communication really hasn’t changed since the inception of the spoken word. We listen and respond. The venue and speed of communication may be different, but the etiquette remains the same. The old rules still apply. (See 8 rules of communication etiquette.)


8 rules of communication etiquette

How we communicate may have changed, but the same rules apply.

  1. Don’t take pictures of any kind—still or video—at work. Snapping photos of patients or patient care areas, even if you remove patient identifiers, is never okay.
  2. Don’t speak about your patient in a public area. In the past, that included elevators, lobbies, and cafeterias, but now it includes blogs, social media platforms, and other electronic forms of communication.
  3. If you have nothing nice to say (about a patient, a family, a coworker, or an employer), don’t say it aloud—or in a social media post. This behavior can be considered cyberbullying or lateral violence. Disparaging an employer or another employee can be professional misconduct and prosecutable.
  4. Know your professional boundaries. Consult your organization’s policy, refer to your state’s nurse practice act, and review the National Council of State Boards of Nursing white paper A Nurse’s Guide to the Use of Social Media (
  5. Don’t conduct personal business on your employer’s time clock. This includes no posting to social media sites or reading personal emails. Follow your organization’s policies about using work computers. When using an employer’s server or devices, you should have no expectation of privacy.
  6. Never speak or post if you’re angry or need to blow off steam. Only say what you’re willing to repeat. (See rule #3.)
  7. Never put in writing what you’re not willing to stand by. Hitting delete doesn’t permanently remove content; an electronic footprint remains in cyberspace. And all personal devices—smartphones, laptops, and tablets—produce metadata. The longitude, latitude, altitude, date, time, and location of your communications can be retrieved.
  8. Remember that you represent the nursing profession. Behave in a manner that reflects positively on all nurses and that is congruent with your state’s nursing practice regulations and nurse practice act.


A good rule of thumb is to stop, think, wait, and revisit what you want to say or post, and look to your board of nursing and employer for guidance when posting to a social media site aboutprofessional behavior. Think about who you want to reach, how the information will be viewed,whether the platform is appropriate, and how you’ll evaluate your post’s effectiveness. Personal posts are just as important as professional posts and should reflect behaviors that don’t embarrass the profession. You never want to be accused of breaking patient confidentiality laws or cyberbullying your peers or employer. And remember that breaking confidences and breaching patient confidentiality can lead to financial consequences, licensure discipline, and potential lawsuits and criminal prosecution.  

Set the standard 

Social media has much to offer—networking opportunities; forums to discuss current professionalissues, trends, and evidence-based practices; and platforms for health promotion and patient education dissemination. Mindful social media practices create a positive nursing presence. But it’s a double-edged sword that also can destroy trust and careers if not wielded responsibly. Educate yourself and volunteer to serve on committees that write policies about nursing practice and electronic communication, patient privacy, and confidentiality. We need to set the standard for others who use these platforms and frame the guidelines. 

Mary E. Fortier is an associate professor in the department of nursing at the New Jersey City University in Jersey City. 

Selected references

Balestra ML. Social media missteps could put your nursing license at riskAm Nurs Today.2018;13(3):20-21,63.  

Brous E. How to avoid the pitfalls of social media. Am Nurs Today. 2013;8(5)  

The history of social media: A timeline. 2018.  

National Council of State Boards of Nursing. NurseGuide to the Use of Social Media. 2018. 

Roberts SJ. Lateral violence in nursing: A review of the past three decades. Nurs Sci Q. 2015;28(1):36-41.  

Spector N, Kappel DM. Guidelines for using electronic and social media: The regulatory perspective. Online J Issues Nurs. 2012;17(3):1.  

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The Do's & Don'ts of Social Media Marketing for Healthcare

The Do's & Don'ts of Social Media Marketing for Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media has fundamentally altered the way that patients perceive healthcare. According to a study conducted by Evariant, 57% of patients decide where to pursue medical treatment based on the provider’s social media. However, since only about 1 in 4 hospitals are using social media as part of their marketing mix, maintaining an active social media presence gives your organization an opportunity to stand out.

Healthcare social media marketing can further establish trust with patients, educate followers about health and wellness, and inspire individuals to pursue careers as medical professionals. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to make the most of your healthcare social media marketing strategy.

Don’t give personalized medical advice.

Healthcare providers may be in the business of helping others maintain good health, but social media is not the place for diagnosis and treatment. Some patients may post a medical question on one of your social media pages or send a direct message listing their symptoms. In these cases, ask them to follow up with an in-person appointment.

Your organization’s website and contact information should always be visible on your social media profiles. You may also wish to add a disclaimer on your social media sites that no medical diagnosis or treatment will be administered online.

Do share health-related news and articles.

Rather than giving individualized medical treatment, use social media to share industry news, medical breakthroughs, and relevant research. For example, Main Line Health, a healthcare network in the greater Philadelphia region, often uses Facebook to share health and wellness news that is relevant to patients and the community.

In a recent post for National Drug Take Back Day, Main Line Health’s Facebook page encouraged followers to go through their medicine cabinets to check for expired medications. Main Line Health’s post also offered a clear call to action by sharing different locations within their network where these medications can be safety disposed.

Don’t violate patient privacy laws.

Due to the sensitive nature of medical practice, it is important for healthcare companies to conform to all applicable privacy laws. HIPAA laws are in place to protect patient confidentiality, so any information that could possibly identify a patient without their consent (photos, names, etc.) cannot be shared on social media. If a patient wishes to be featured in a social media campaign, they will need to give explicit permission, in writing, to the healthcare provider.

Do communicate real-time updates that could affect patients.

Sometimes you may need a way to communicate with patients en masse. Real-time updates can be anything that would affect a patient’s ability to receive medical care at your facility. For example, is the parking garage closed for repairs? Has one of the offices temporarily moved to another wing of the building?

You can pin a post to the top of your social media feed so that it is the first thing followers see when they visit your Page. You may wish to combine social media updates with an automated phone call or email message to ensure patients are aware of any changes that could affect their visit.

Don’t operate in a vacuum.

It can be tempting to post updates and news on social media without listening to follower feedback. But this leads to missed opportunities to understand your patients’ questions and concerns. For example, if followers are asking questions about whether or not to get a flu shot, it might be worth writing a blog post for your organization’s website and sharing it on social media so you can provide general, but timely health advice. If patients leave reviews on your social media pages, you can also use this information to identify your organization’s strengths and improve weaknesses.

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In addition, social media is part of a larger conversation, not a platform for just posting your own materials. Use industry-relevant hashtags, reshare other healthcare organizations’ content, and encourage patients and employees to interact with your Pages. Ask employees to reshare posts from your organization’s page to their personal page.

Do set clear expectations for your admins and your followers.

When used as a responsible communication tool, social media can deliver immense value to your organization. However, it only takes one person violating HIPAA to get you in a lot of trouble. Give employees a training session and a handbook with social networking policies and branding guidelines, whether they are managing your social media or just using their personal profiles. Restrict admin permissions for Company Pages and stay abreast of best practices.

Employees aren’t the only ones who should have a clear understanding of how to interact with your social media. It also helps for medical providers to establish expectations for social media followers at the outset. For example, the Canada-based Sunnybrook Hospital has published a social media commenting policy to ensure respectful discourse and protect individuals’ privacy. If you deem anything offensive or inappropriate, remove it from your Page immediately. Monitor your social media channels for comments, and respond quickly to violations.

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Don’t only use one form of content.

Are all of your social media posts linking to your blog or your website? Or do you only share press releases and industry news rather than also highlighting patient success stories (when, of course, they give explicit permission)? Share images, infographics, blog posts, videos, and other forms of media to keep audiences engaged. The Mayo Clinic Facebook page is an excellent example of diversifying content types to appeal to a range of audiences. Here is a sampling of posts that include video stories, blog articles, and infographics.

Do use the power of social media to advance public health.

Some organizations use social media to communicate public service announcements and combat misinformation. For example, the World Health Organization uses social media to share infographics with research or health and safety advice. In an effort to encourage more people to use vaccines, the World Health Organization’s Twitter feed has included many infographics related to the positive results of immunizations, including the near-eradication of diseases and the benefits of herd immunity. WHO also uses the hashtag #VaccinesWork, taking part in a broader national conversation about the need for vaccination.

Ready to bring your healthcare social media marketing to the next level? Contact Pacific54 today for aconsultation.

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How Could Digital Tools Help Fight Against Anti-Vaccination?

How Could Digital Tools Help Fight Against Anti-Vaccination? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Anti-vaccination movements lure increasingly more people into skipping potentially life-saving immunization against infectious diseases, such as measles, mumps, or rubella, highly impairing herd immunity for entire communities. Social media platforms could restrict the reach of anti-vax messages, groups, and activities, with algorithms recommending tailor-made content and health apps providing information about vaccinations. Here’s our collection of the most recent steps and digital tools supporting the fight against anti-vaccination and its believers.

300 percent increase in measles globally

In a widely shared social media post from around two years ago, a person planning to travel with their toddler mentioned having heard that certain airline companies vaccinate people through the air conditioning system. The person was reaching out to seek additional information on which airlines were doing this. Now, you can laugh or feel terrible about a message that is wrong on many levels (starting with the absolutely zero availability of airborne vaccines), the fact is that fake news and conspiracy theories around vaccination are thriving – and this unfortunately already shows in the statistics.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised alarm over a 300 percent increase in the case of measles globally in the first quarter of 2019 compared with last year, and it declared vaccination hesitancy as one of its ten most important threats to global health. So far this year, 170 countries have reported 112,163 measles cases to the WHO, while in April 2018, 163 countries reported 28,124 cases.

The disease has made a comeback in both the developed and the developing world for different reasons. Measles cases in Europe are at a 20-year high, and 72 children and vulnerable adults died of it in 2018, twice as many as a year before. New York City’s mayor declared a public health emergency in parts of Brooklyn in April 2019, after a measles outbreak emerged in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where some had resisted vaccination on religious grounds. The WHO said that the most dramatic rise in cases – a 700-percent increase compared with last year – has been reported on the African continent, which has weaker vaccination coverage than other regions.


Skepticism is as infectious as a disease

Although lack of access to vaccination and religious reasons add to the causes of vaccination hesitancy, the biggest problem is lately the global spread of the anti-vaccination movement fueled by various celebrities, anti-establishment politicians and political movements, and social media platforms. One of the loudest anti-vaccine voices and presenter of an assumed (though completely false and scientifically absolutely not supported) link between vaccines and autism is actress Jenny McCarthy. But Jim Carrey, Selma Blair, Kirstie Alley or Charlie Sheen have all expressed views either against vaccination itself or the idea of mandatory vaccination.

While the phenomenon of skepticism towards vaccination or medicine in general is not new, it’s recurring with a newly found resilience. As an example from the past, we could mention the refusal of numerous British parents to vaccinate their children in the 1970s and 1980s against whooping cough or pertussis, in response to the publication of a report in 1974 that credited 36 negative neurological reactions to the whole-cell pertussis vaccine. This caused a decrease in the pertussis vaccine uptake in the UK from 81% in 1974 to 31% in 1980, eventually resulting in a pertussis outbreak in the UK, putting severe strain and pressure on the National Health System.

It seems that the toll of infectious diseases on human life, such as that of measles, mumps, and rubella, has already been largely erased from the collective memory of humankind. Parallelly, the rise of fake news and conspiracy theories about the greediness of vaccine manufacturing companies and the fear of the potential harm that vaccines allegedly cause has taken over significant space in the public discourse. Not to mention emphasizing the rights of the individual to decide for themselves and the fight to revoke compulsory vaccination. The latter is potentially even more harmful, as it damages herd immunity.


Access to the right information empowers – access to the wrong one can make you die

Contrary to the false claims of fake news and conspiracy theories, the WHO estimates that vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease: it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved. With those impressive numbers in mind, how come the anti-vaccination movement has become so strong?

As mentioned before, one of the reasons might be the forgetfulness of human communities with regards to the consequences of infectious diseases, or the ‘invisibility’ of some of the vaccine preventable diseases. Yet another significant reason and at the same time a unique feature of the latest anti-vaccination uptake is the fast and easy spread of misinformation on new media platforms. In January, a report published by the Royal Society for Public Health found that half of all parents with small children have been exposed to misinformation about vaccines on social media.“Anti-vaxx” groups target the parents of new babies, posting stories that claim babies have died or have been harmed by vaccination. A US group called Stop Mandatory Vaccination, run by Larry Cook, was censured by the UK’s advertising watchdog in November over a paid-for Facebook post, following a complaint by the mother of a young baby in the UK. The problem is so widespread that EU health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis has warned against the peddling of “fake news” about vaccine safety.

These viral messages work just as political propaganda, and it’s also not surprising that some of the most vocal opponents prove to be populist politicians such as Donald Trump or Marine Le Pen in France. The key is in the repetition of such messages: if you listen to a negative message several times over a longer period, it sticks with you and may influence your attitude no matter what you rationally think. In an age when the problem is not the access to health information anymore but rather that most people have to face a data overflow, finding the right piece of knowledge will be the biggest challenge – as the ‘right’ information will make you empowered but fake information might get you into serious health trouble.


Social media to the rescue?

That’s why the appropriate assessment of online information and the role of social media giants in restricting space for the spread of such message is becoming crucial in clamping down anti-vaxxers. The former necessitates the education of internet users about how to evaluate online medical information (here is our guide to it), while the second requires a systemic response from such companies as Facebook, YouTube or Amazon.

Zuckerberg’s company is the number one hotbed of misleading health information. As it has been facing a lot of criticism, in August 2018, Facebook deleted dozens of pages dedicated to fringe or holistic medicine in an apparent crackdown on pseudoscience. As the measure was clearly not enough, in March 2019, Facebook announced that it will no longer allow anti-vax messages to be promoted through ads or recommendations, and will make it less prominent in search results. The social network will not take down anti-vaccine posts entirely, however. The company also said it was exploring ways to give users more context about vaccines from “expert organizations.”

Other platforms are increasing their efforts, too. Pinterest, a digital platform popular with parents, took an unusual step to crack down on the proliferation of anti-vaccination propaganda in February 2019. It tweaked its search bar – if you type “vaccine” or “anti-vax”, nothing will pop up. A month later, Amazon yanked at least five anti-vaccination documentaries questioning the safety of vaccines from its Prime Video streaming platform. Moreover, GoFundMe announced in March 2019 that it has banned anti-vaxxer campaigns collecting money for spreading misinformation.

Still, we believe that YouTube, Facebook, or Google should not only make anti-vax messages disappear, but they should also be pushing for even better visibility of ‘vaccination advocates’ or influencers at the expense of accounts spreading misinformation or outright fake news. As the WHO says, health workers, especially those embedded in communities, remain the most trusted advisors and influencers of vaccination decisions, and they must be supported to provide trusted, credible information on vaccines. This could only happen with knowledge bases, such as Google, Facebook, or YouTube pushing back online anti-vaccination propaganda with efficient measures – thus we expect them to step up their game even more in the coming months.


With algorithms, VR and Siri against anti-vaxxers

How can digital health tools outside the realm of communication and social media platforms help? Well, there are quite a few ways to bring health technology into the fight against anti-vaxxers, but we have a couple of ideas for the developers, too.

Sophisticated algorithms could play a role in addressing vaccine hesitancy. Just as Amazon and Netflix are adept at suggesting products and movies that ‘people like you’ might enjoy, health systems could build individually tailored messages most likely to resonate with individuals.

Alternatively, innovative solutions could provide new opportunities to inform those at risk that they should be vaccinated, for example through reminders via SMS alerts and dedicated health apps. For example, VaccApp has been designed to help parents keep track of vaccinations. Devised by the Vienna Vaccine Safety Initiative, the app covers 25 vaccines, including those on the routine immunisation schedule, vaccines recommended for particular population sub-groups, and travel vaccines. Voice assistants, such as Siri or Amazon Alexa could also be pulled into the fight in the future. Not only could they help with the easy scheduling of vaccinations and keeping the vaccination diaries up-to-date, but they could also potentially “talk” about the benefits of the step with users.

Some other innovations might mitigate the discomfort that children feel when getting vaccinated. In a study of 244 children at Sansum Clinic locations in Santa Barbara and Lompoc, California, roughly half of the children were given virtual reality goggles to view ocean scenes while getting their seasonal flu shot. Parents reported that their sons and daughters experienced 48 percent less pain and 52 percent less fear, and the clinicians mentioned even higher numbers – 75 percent less pain and 71 percent less fear. The Hermes Pardini Laboratories’ VR Vaccine campaign battled children’s fear of taking vaccine shots wonderfully. Children could immerse themselves in the virtual world of a lively cartoon where they can feel like superheroes building a shield against monsters by getting the “Fire Fruit” – the actual shot in reality.

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Harnessing the Power of Twitter for Clinical Trial Enrollment and Success 

Harnessing the Power of Twitter for Clinical Trial Enrollment and Success  | Social Media and Healthcare |

CLINICAL TRIALS are vital for advancing cancer care for our patients. Each trial represents an unanswered problem for which researchers are committed to solving. Designing, funding, recruiting, and completing a trial are tremendous undertakings for each researcher, physician, patient, and organization. A common problem is failing to accrue enough patients to complete the trial.1

“Social media is a largely untapped resource for researchers to utilize for the purpose of successfully completing trials.”
— Miriam A. Knoll, MD; @MKnoll_MD

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Social media is a largely untapped resource for researchers to utilize for the purpose of successfully completing trials. Here are some ways physicians have harnessed the power of social media to improve the realization of their clinical trials.

Reaching Patients

IN 2018, Thomas J. George, Jr, MD, created and chaired the NRG Social Media Working Group (full disclosure: Dr. Knoll was a member) with the goal of designing a social media–based platform to help potential NRG research participants and researchers find each other, thereby improving enrollment in NRG clinical trials. Dr. George also serves as Chair of the NRG Colorectal Cancer Committee and is a member of the NRG Communications Committee; thus, he understood firsthand how important it is to utilize this new tool to improve participation in trials.

Thomas J. George, Jr, MD; @TGeorgeMD

Dr. George shared with me the following thoughts: “NRG Oncology recognizes the need to engage patients where they are—which today, often includes social media. To that end, the NRG Communications Committee, with valuable input from patient advocates, is developing a comprehensive pilot program of social media–based patient engagement for clinical trial awareness and participation.”2

Cathy Eng, MD, is a medical oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center and has experienced this as well. Dr. Eng originally created her Twitter account because she realized patients were surfing the Internet and social media for medical information and were not necessarily receiving accurate information. She uses her Twitter account to inform her audience about drug updates; changes in national treatment guidelines; clinical trial information; and other medical information for patients, caregivers, advocacy groups, and providers. More recently, she Tweeted about her newly opened multicenter trial (NCI9673) for the treatment of a rare cancer, metastatic anal cancer. Dr. Eng reports that she received many referrals from both patients and other physicians through social media channels, specifically regarding clinical trials and treatments for rare cancers.

Cathy Eng, MD; @cathyengMD

Reaching Principal Investigators

AS THE PRINCIPAL Investigator of NRG GU-006, Daniel Spratt, MD, recognized the unique opportunity that social media provides investigators like himself. When I interviewed Dr. Spratt about his professional use of social media, I was curious to know whether he had been contacted by physicians via social media; it turns out, he absolutely was. Many physicians have reached out to him directly asking for advice regarding how to open a trial, questions regarding site eligibility, clarification regarding inclusion criteria, and his opinion regarding who should go on the trial in light of newly published data. Others requested minor modifications to the trial, to allow broader participation based on new trial data to include treating the pelvic lymph nodes in the trial.

Daniel Spratt, MD; @DRSpratticus

In Dr. Spratt’s words: “Prior to social media, it was often challenging to know in a timely fashion what trials are available to open and what peoples’ enthusiasm for a trial was. Now the Principal Investigators of clinical trials can keep community and academic physicians immediately up to date. They can share the status of when the protocol will open, inform them of potential amendments, seek out opinions on the strengths/weaknesses of the design, and gauge the excitement of the social media community. Furthermore, it gives a direct and quick route for the Principal Investigator to answer questions about the trial and help everyone to understand the importance of the trial, the rationale for its design, and the background data leading up to it. Personally, social media has helped to raise awareness and support of NRG GU-006 across the United States and Canada, and the trial is accruing above the expected monthly accrual this past month. I am very appreciative of everyone’s support.” 

“We need more physicians like the ones described here to use all tools available to help complete clinical trials successfully.”
— Miriam A. Knoll, MD

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Reaching Researchers

CLIFFORD ROBINSON, MDis a radiation oncologist who conducted a phase I trial treating patients with noninvasive cardiac radiation therapy for ventricular tachycardia ablation. When the trial was published online,The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) tweeted about it.

This tweet was re-tweeted 392 times, and this high engagement is reflected in its rank of 99% of social media coverage for all articles, per the NEJM’s article metrics.Dr. Robinson and his colleagues were astounded by the response from the public, both in grand rounds, discussions, and via social media. He shared with me how valuable the feedback from Twitter was:

We’ve had tremendous engagement on Twitter with the results of our first 5 patients published in NEJM and the subsequent phase I/II trial of 19 more patients published in Circulation a couple weeks ago. The dialogue has been dead on—ideas about the best way to generate a target, novel methods of delivery (magnetic resonance imaging guidance, protons, etc), and concerns over toxicity. This last point in particular has been parlayed into a positive discussion about mutual-learning opportunities for the nascent cardio-oncology discipline. We’ve also had lots of direct messages via Twitter from physicians at other hospitals asking to participate in a multi-institutional trial we’re developing. Incidentally, a large part of the invite list for our recent Symposium for Noninvasive Radioablation meeting at Washington University came from myself and co-researchers mining our Twitter feeds for interested people who had engaged us. As a result, we ended up maxing our capacity in the conference without ever advertising!

Clifford Robinson, MD; @SBRT_CR

The previously mentioned physicians exemplify how social media helps researchers improve many aspects of clinical trials, including clinical trial design, patient enrollment, research dissemination, education, and collaboration. If you haven’t joined Twitter yet, get going! We need more physicians like the ones described here to use all tools available to help complete clinical trials successfully. 

Dr. Knoll is Medical Director in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center and a radiation oncologist at the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, New Jersey.

For more information about the doctors interviewed in this report, visit https://;;; and radonc/daniel-spratt-md.

Disclaimer: This commentary represents the views of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of ASCO or The ASCO Post.

DISCLOSURE: Dr. Knoll reported no conflicts of interest.


1. Stensland KD, McBride RB, Latif A, et al: Adult cancer clinical trials that fail to complete: An epidemic? J Natl Cancer Inst 106(9), 2014.

2. Knoll MA: How social media can advance cancer research. Forbes. Available at Accessed April 15, 2019.

3. Cuculich PS, Schill MR, Kashani R, et al: Noninvasive cardiac radiation for ablation of ventricular tachycardia. N Engl J Med 377:2325-2336, 2017.

4. Metrics for Cuculich PS, Schill MR, Kashani R, et al: Noninvasive cardiac radiation for ablation of ventricular tachycardia. N Engl J Med 377:2325- 2336, 2017. Available at Accessed April 15, 2019.

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Scientists Who Selfie: Building Public Trust Through Social Media

Scientists Who Selfie: Building Public Trust Through Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

There are many ways to communicate science, but few as expedient and direct as social media. But while Twitter and Instagram have given scientists unprecedented, unfiltered reach to new audiences, there has been a desire to understand how scientists who use those platforms are perceived by those audiences. A recent paper published in PLOS ONE details results from the Scientists of Instagramproject which highlights how real-life scientists share their work and lives via Instagram and how they are perceived by survey respondents.


The paper, led by Dr. Paige Jarreau, shows that survey respondents (1,620 in total) found scientists posting selfies (or self-portraits, if you didn’t know) were perceived as warmer and more trustworthy, yet no less competent, than scientists posting photos of only their work. The indication here is clear. People respond to the human element. The story behind the science.


From Scientists of Instagram. At left, your standard old beaker set up (described in caption) that serves as a control image; at right, selfie that shows the scientist describing the same piece of equipment. Respondents overwhelmingly responded to the selfie.


Stereotypes and Reality


A pervasive impression of scientists is that we are nerdy, aloof, and generally socially inept. This stereotype is so ingrained it even forms the central focus of TV shows like the Big Bang Theory where male scientists are obsessive, fumbling geeks, while female scientists are either incredibly nerdy, or hypersexualized. This tired trope has become a lens through which the general public has come to view scientists. Counter to this, scientists may also be perceived as competent, but cold. You can pick your own movie scientist for this one, there are . . .  a few. However, platforms such as Twitter and Instagram (the focus of this study) allow scientists to individuate* themselves and connect to their audience.  While a picture of some beakers on a lab bench perpetuates the detached narrative of science we have come to embrace, a person working at that bench carries with it that human connection. People begin to see the folks who do scientist, folks who look just like all the other folks. They just sometimes wear lab coats, or fish turtles from ponds, or stare at computer screens and pound on their desk because their code isn’t working. You know, you and me .


Further, this work also highlights the impact of broad representation in science. Tespondents who viewed images of female scientists perceived science as less exclusively male. Female scientist selfies resulted in more positive evaluations of competence and instead of perceptions that scientists are vain or self-absorbed. Science is not exclusively stale, pale males and social media lets scientists show who they are and create their own narratives.


“Social media platforms could represent a turning of the tide for perceptions of scientists if leveraged by diverse individuals to interact with broad audiences in ways that communicate warmth and build mutual trust.” – Jarreau et al. 2019


Instagram and Beyond

There are many lessons here for science communication broadly as these ideas are translatable directly to classrooms and presentations. Seeing people DO science builds our investment in science. Science is more than a body of work, it is the people who do that work. This paper clearly highlights that fact—people relate to people. That is what moves them. I think scientists ought to take this information and run with it. Go beyond social media and incorporate more pictures and images of folks doing science into lessons, presentations, and depictions of science. I don’t need to see your gas chromatograph, I want to see you working with it and telling me what’s going on.


What can you do?

As Jarreau and her authors point out, there are many things scientists can do to improve how they communicate via social media.


1) Create personal content – Include detailed captions to the selfies and images that are posted. What is that thing you are standing in front of? What does it do? How are you using it? What are the implications?


2) Share real life – The authors particularly highlight the importance of representation of minority groups and how simply the presence of folks from minority groups alters the perceptions of science and scientists. Children who don’t fit the traditional mold of what they are told a scientist “is” can change that perception when they see folks who look like them. Representation matters. Period.


3) Engage – Answer questions from folks who post responses to what you post. Build that conversation and relate.


Maybe in the end social media is not the thing for you, and that’s okay. But there is growing evidence beyond this paper that shows that social media is a powerful piece of a scientist’s toolkit to communicate, collaborate, and positively impact the perceptions of their work and that of their field.



*This is such a good word and total props to Jarreau et al. for using it and bringing it to my attention in their paper.

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Healthcare Reputation Management - What It Is & Why It Matters

Healthcare Reputation Management - What It Is & Why It Matters | Social Media and Healthcare |

Healthcare reputation management means taking control of your image and brand.

It was originally a public relations term. However, the phrase has exploded in recent years due to the rise and popularity of the internet and social media.

Reputation management extends to all industries but it’s increasingly important in the healthcare industry. Online search results and online reviews are now a core part of a physician or medical practice’s reputation.

To better understand healthcare reputation management, ask yourself the following questions:

When prospective patients search your name and practice online, what do they see? And what’s their first impression?

Go to Google and search for yourself. You may be surprised by the results…

When doctors hear the marketing buzz phrase “reputation management’, they tend to think about their online reviews.

In reality, it’s much more than your Google, Yelp, Healthgrades, Vitals, or Facebook online reviews.

Reputation management encapsulates your:

  • online profiles and ratings
  • presence across online directories
  • authored articles
  • your website


What is the goal of healthcare reputation management?

The goal of reputation management is to optimize your online digital footprint. And with an effective healthcare reputation management strategy in place, medical practices will attract more patients, increase their practice profitability, and enhance their patient satisfaction.


Why is healthcare reputation management important?

Managing your online presence has never been more important. After all, we live in an increasing digital age as more and more patients turn to the internet for healthcare recommendations.

Doctors spend their careers building their reputation, brand, and earning the respect of their community and professional peers.

As a physician, your online reputation takes years to build and single moments to ruin. One online review from a disgruntled patient (or competitor) can tarnish your reputation, costing you patients and money.

Unfortunately, one negative online review from a disgruntled patient can tarnish this reputation. And when that reputation is tarnished, others notice.

In some instances, reviews can be removed from the internet if they violate certain guidelines (Google, Yelp, Healthgrades, Vitals). However, usually, once a negative review is posted online, it stays there for years.

Hypothetically, if you had 24 reviews, averaging 2.8 stars on Google, would you be proud of those numbers? Would you feel comfortable posting those same reviews and testimonials on your own website? Probably not…

And as a patient, would you really feel comfortable getting operated on by a doctor with subpar reviews and ratings?

If you want to understand the importance of healthcare reputation management, consider the following statistics.

  •      77% of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor.
  •      47% of patients would go out-of-network for a similar doctor with better reviews
  •      84% of patients use online reviews to evaluate physicians

Heard about a new restaurant opening in town? Are you in a new city and don’t know where to eat? In this scenario, many people immediately turn to Yelp or Google for recommendations, reviews, and ratings.  You may be willing to try eating at a 3-star restaurant, but most wouldn’t feel comfortable getting operated on by a 3-star doctor. After all, nothing is more important than your own health and well-being. Searching for a doctor is no different.

Place yourself in the patients’ shoes. Imagine you’re in need of a new physician or specialist. Word of mouth is certainly important. However, word of mouth is hard if you’re in a new city or don’t have a connection.


How to preserve your online reputation in 2019:

First and foremost, one should claim or create all of your online listings, like Google My Business, Yelp, Healthgrades, Vitals, and Facebook.

By gaining control of your listings, you can ensure all of the information in your listings is correct. There are hundreds of online directories and the list continues to grow. Not all directories are created equal. Focus on the ones that matter, the ones which people use the most: Google My Business, Healthgrades, Vitals, Facebook and Yelp.  More importantly, you are automatically stayed up to date of any changes or activity, which leads us to our second point…

Monitor your online reviews. Designate an individual from your practice to stay on top of any new activity. This should be the same person that claims ownership of the listings. Don’t have the time or energy to claim your listings? Rater8 can help. Our consulting services take the pain away.

Reply to online reviews. It’s important to reply to positive and negative reviews alike and do so in a timeline manner. When replying to online reviews, remember to be clear, concise, and professional. Keep in mind that any response is there for the world to see.

Grow your online reviews. Asking every patient to leave an online review isn’t practical and it’s not smart. Manually email patients isn’t a great strategy either. It’s too manual.

Build a modern responsive website. When people arrive at your website, are they greeted by on old, poorly designed website. Your website is patient-facing and it’s crucial that it leaves a strong first impression with all online visitors.

Do any of the following sound familiar:

  •      Is your medical practice or individual doctors plagued with poor online reviews and ratings?
  •      Are you investing too much time and energy asking patients to leave online reviews with little results?
  •      Are your competitors outranking and outperforming you online?
  •      Looking to increase your patient volume?


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How to Set Up Your Healthcare Social Media Profiles for Success

How to Set Up Your Healthcare Social Media Profiles for Success | Social Media and Healthcare |

In a recent study, 90% of older adult internet users said they’ve used social media to find or share health information. Undoubtedly, social media is a major part of many people’s lives. And if you’re in the business of healthcare, social media may help increase brand loyalty and boost your reputation.

You just may need a little help getting started setting up and maintaining your healthcare social media account. But first, make sure you know what you’re getting into…

Healthcare Social Media: Is It Really Worth It?

Here’s the hard truth: Facebook’s organic reach is dead. Businesses hoping to reach potential patients and clients by simply posting somewhat frequently on Facebook are extremely unlikely to see a return. Due to changing algorithms on Facebook and Instagram, followers are much less likely to see organic (unpaid) posts from your brand than from their own friends and family. 

For more on this topic, see our article: The Biggest Misconception about Social Media in Healthcare

That said, it is certainly worth setting up and claiming your social media accounts. Updating your social media accounts can also boost search engine optimization and generate patient referrals. But if you’re simply hoping to gain patients from your marketing efforts, we recommend you do not spend a large portion of your time on organic social media.

Paid advertising is another story. Targeted campaigns reach people throughout your geographic target (not just followers) based on age, gender, and other qualities. For this, we recommend hiring a healthcare social media advertising agency.

Either way, you’ll want to get your account up and running as soon as possible, and establish some guidelines for posting and sharing. Here’s what a healthcare social media account manager should do.

1. Create a new page (or claim an existing one)


Of course, the first step with any new social media platform is creating your new page. With Facebook, you’ll simply go to and follow the directions on the screen.

You’ll be able to link this new business page to an existing personal profile or create a new profile to manage the page. You can also invite current employees as administrators and give select access to posting and editing capabilities.

In some cases, a Facebook page already exists for a business thanks to patients checking in at your location and tagging themselves on Facebook. In this case, you can claim the page using these instructions.


To setup an Instagram account for business, first create an account from the Instagram app on your phone or tablet. Then, find the settings (the gear icon on your page) and press “Switch to Business Account.”


Twitter’s page creation is incredibly simple. Keep in mind that Twitter uses the same profiles for business pages and personal pages. Simply go to to set up your new account.

2. Learn your social media platform

Once you’ve updated your basic information, you’ll want to get to know the particular platform you’re working in. Each platform is unique. For example:

  • You’ll need a header image and profile picture for each account, but every platform has different requirements. You can find an up-to-date guide on image sizing here.
  • It’s a good idea to use relevant hashtags on Twitter and Instagram, but it’s not very useful on Facebook.
  • On Twitter and Instagram, it’s a good idea to start following other accounts related to yours as soon as possible.
  • Facebook is a great place to post and share events.

3. Get to know your audience

Doctors may be interested in sharing the latest research studies or stats on the newest equipment out there. But do you think patients want to comb through a complicated 30-page report? Of course, patients are interested in your expertise. However, they would prefer an easy-to-read, quick professional assessment of a study.

Learn what types of content your audience prefers, and try to contribute something they will appreciate and share. 

  • Can you explain a new treatment option briefly and succinctly (or link to a source that does this)?
  • Can you direct them to in-person or online support groups for their illness or recovery?
  • Do you have an announcement to make about your location or services? (Note: Important announcements to existing patients are better left in email inboxes.)

4. Use clear images throughout your profile and posts

A plain text post may go over well with your friends and family. But if you’re trying to attract attention from prospective patients, images and video are key to gaining attention—especially with paid social media advertising.

You don’t need any fancy equipment for this. The latest iPhone takes incredible high-quality images. However, if you don’t already have a collection of in-house photos to use in your posts, stock photos are a good way to go. There are free stock photos available on sites like Unsplash and Pexels.

You can also overlay text using free, easy-to-understand tools like Canva.

5. Remain compliant with HIPAA and other regulations

Of course, you take HIPAA and other regulations seriously, but it helps to remind staff members who are the most active on your social media platforms.

We recommend consulting a lawyer if you are unsure of any issues of compliance. Some starting tips:

  • Photos of patients and clients, of course, require their signed consent.
  • Any pharmaceutical promotion requires disclosure of risks, etc.
  • Patients may comment on your page regarding their visit, but you should take care not to confirm they are a patient.

Organic Social Media vs. Paid Healthcare Social Media Ads

Some doctors have seen success by posting organically on social media—but these accounts are few and far between. If you hope to gain followers as a “thought leader” in your specialty, you’ll have to post very frequently and become involved in conversations online daily.

Still, thought leadership does not guarantee patients in your area. Social media can help build your brand and even improve morale around the office—but it’s not recommended for lead generation. That is, unless you work with a social media advertising agency to target local patients in your demographic.

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Digital Marketing for Healthcare Podcast Interview with Daniel Goldberg, Gold Medical Marketing

In this week's podcast, I had the honor of interviewing Daniel Goldberg, Founder and CEO of Gold Medical Marketing. Daniel Goldberg is widely regarded as
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Importance of Having a Blogging Strategy for Medical Practice |

Importance of Having a Blogging Strategy for Medical Practice | | Social Media and Healthcare |

With your busy schedule, creating content and blogging on a regular basis are likely not your top priorities. However, by not having a blog and blogging on a regular basis, you are limiting your opportunity to grow.

I know how hard it is to juggle multiple tasks without compromising the care that you provide your patients. From being a great doctor to make sure you get paid, there’s a lot of your plate. And there’s a lot that you have to keep in mind in order to ensure that your practice thrives. However, you have to consider medical marketing as well in order for your practice to grow.

Creating blog posts can help promote your medical practice. It can improve your clinical services, position you as a thought leader, improve search rankings, and can even attract new patients. It’s a must for every doctor to market their medical practice. Unfortunately, most doctors are ignoring the significance of blogging. This blog will help you realize how important blog posts are.

Why Doctors Don’t Write Blogs

More than ten years ago, writing blogs was just done mainly by bloggers. Today, it’s mandatory for every business to post blogs. According to Hubspot, medical practices who post blogs experience a 55 percent increase in traffic to their website and are around 13 times more likely to see a return on investment each year. With such amazing potential of growth, you’ll probably think that every doctor all across America is blogging, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

A recent webinar in the industry has hosted the benefits and challenges of blogging and found out that nearly half of the attendees said that they don’t post any blogs despite having a website. Almost all medical practices in the U.S have their own website. However, only a few of them feature blogs on their sites. Does your practice fall into the category of not having a blog? If so, as you can see, you’re not alone.

These are the top reasons why healthcare providers don’t blog:

  • 40.3 percent said that they don’t have enough time to write and create content
  • 35.1 percent said that they don’t have enough ideas for fresh regular posts
  • 15.8 percent said that they don’t know a thing about managing the initial blog setup
  • 8.8 percent said that they don’t understand the technical end of the process

Truth be told, these are all valid reasons. Most doctors really don’t have the time to sit down and learn how to set up a blog or write blogs. Blog writing is really time-consuming and doctors would rather spend time providing care to their patients rather than think of topics to write about. As much as doctors want to deliver a superior online patient experience, they’d rather not dedicate time to blogging.


Importance of Medical Content Marketing

I’m pretty sure you desire to show up on the first page when patients are searching for a new doctor, right? Of course, you do. In order for that to happen, you’re going to need a page that is dedicated to your topic which can lead patients to your website. Content marketing involves creating a strategy of writing accurate information (that relates to your specialty) to help your SEO efforts. This can attract new patients to your website.

Traditional marketing strategies such as TV, radio & print ads are so old school. Strategies like these won’t work in this type of market anymore. They may have worked 20 years ago but as technology rose, search engines, social media, and the world wide web began to dominate the marketing world.

An awesome thing about content marketing is, you don’t need to push yourself to your patients. By providing relevant and interesting blogs, your patients will definitely be the ones pulling you in. With numerous blogs about a certain topic, you can stand out by posting a blog that makes your patients feel like you’re talking to them instead of just showering them with facts that they can read anywhere else.

What Does It Take To Have The Perfect Medical Practice Blog

It doesn’t require much to create a blog. But in case you are wondering, I will list down a few key components that a blog should have:

  • An eye-catching and interesting headline. If your blog posts have an eye-catching headline, people would click. So, instead of saying “All About Back Pains”, try saying “Back Pains Can Be Linked To Mental Health Problems”. Did you see what I did there? Who would have thought back pains can be associated with mental health issues? That alone could make your readers want to click on the blog.
  • Provide at least 500 words. If you could write as many as 1000 words, why not, right? Longer blog posts help with your SEO. And, the more relevant words you use with the correct keywords, the better the blog.
  • Know your target audience. Please refrain from medical jargon. Not all of your patients understand the medical terms you use on a regular basis. They might find this annoying and will not bother reading your blog if they don’t understand it. Keep the content of your blog as simple as you can.
  • Use striking images. Aside from an eye-catching headline, what better way to attract patients than to provide striking images? Psychologically, we are more drawn to read something if it catches our eye. People are more into visual aspects. Use striking images. Make the readers want to click on your blog with awesome photos.
  • If possible, add a call to action. A call to action button could be your contact info or how to schedule an appointment with you. If you provide your patients with a convenient way to connect with you through your blog, they will be more likely to visit your website.

See, blog posts are significant to any medical practice, especially if you’re new. It can drive your potential patients toward your website which increases organic traffic.



What Should You Write About

Now that you have a grasp of what your content should have, it’s now time to brainstorm on what your content should be. The content of your blog should be relevant to your practice. Blogs can act as your stepping stones for earning a patients’ trust. Here are a few content ideas that you can use to make your blog stand out:

Latest news. There is always something new in the medical industry. Writing a blog is a great way to share and relay information about the latest medical discoveries and anything related to a person’s general health. 
With so much fake news circulating on social media nowadays, one of the most reliable sources that the patients can really trust is when it comes from a physician. Remember to include your views and opinions and not just only share the facts.

Frequently asked questions. When it comes to our health, people have so many questions. When you write blogs pertaining to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), your posts will be more relatable to your patients. One of the best ways to find out what most people want to know is through surveys and personal discussions. Social media platforms can also be a great place for discovering information.

Discuss an event. If there are certain events coming up (such as a major conference or seminar), you can write a post about it. Aside from reading about it online, patients would also love to ask questions that might have been bothering them. In this type of blog, you can write down what the patients can expect, provide highlights and share other pertinent information. If your readers missed the event, you can include key takeaways from the event.

Industry trends. The healthcare industry keeps on evolving. We all know that. You can use your blog as a platform where you can write down and thoroughly discuss upcoming trends or seasonal health problems that you think are valuable to both you and your patients. You can even include news alerts. This can ensure that your patients stay updated on emerging trends.

How You Should Strategize Your Healthcare Blogs

The blog section of every physician’s website is a highly visited page. However, most bloggers assume that they need to write a blog weekly or even daily. To be quite honest, even the occasional blog can still attract patients to your practice and at the same time, it can enhance your credibility. Here is how you can yield maximum return with minimal effort.

Primary-care physicians: Primary-care physicians are usually very busy doctors. They mostly handle anything related to general health questions. They can post blogs at least once a week. If you’re a primary-care physician, you can post blogs about general health issues and the most common questions you hear in the exam rooms.

Specialists: If you’re a specialist, you can post at least twice a month. This frequency is just enough to convey regular activity on your website. You can focus on writing anything that is relevant to your specialty.

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Growing Your Patient Referrals Through Healthcare Marketing

Growing Your Patient Referrals Through Healthcare Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

Some of today’s most effective strategies to grow medical practices revolve around digital marketing. Having a general understanding of digital marketing can make a world of difference when promoting your medical practice.


With a strategic digital marketing plan in place, your practice will attract more patients, and grow faster than ever through patient referrals. We know you are busy serving your patients and helping your community, which is why it’s important to have the most efficient and streamlined digital marketing practices in place.

Some of the newest healthcare marketing trends include improving your Instagram presence, hosting live streams, and staying on top of new Google algorithm updates.

While you may already have a significant digital presence, it is never a bad idea to continue learning and implementing new practices to grow your audience, increase website traffic, and boost conversions. All of these enhancements will allow you to provide medical help and value to more people in your community.

Ways to grow your patient referrals using digital marketing

When looking for a product, service, or professional, most people turn to the internet first. After all, it is much easier and faster to search Google than ask everyone you know for personal recommendations.

However, when people do seek out the advice of their friends and family, it is often on social media. Social media has made crowdsourcing an instantaneous and ever-present resource, available to anyone with access to the internet.

In this hyper-digital age, it is important to be on top of your healthcare marketing strategy to put your best foot forward in the digital space. That is why we want to share these five tips for promoting your medical practice online:

1. Be aware of how patients use their smartphones.

Sixty-two percent of people who own smartphones use them to research medical information. People who move somewhere new or need medical advice for a health issue turn to their phone for answers. One of the most widely used phrases on Google is “near me.”

Additionally, people use their phones to look up all kinds of health and wellness information, from the day’s pollen forecast or air pollution level, to their prescription refill status, to researching medical symptoms.

Depending on your business, you can advertise your practice on one or all of these sites. By showing up continually among your potential patients’ research, your practice will stand out next time they need your services.

People also pay close attention to reviews, so it is always a good idea to ask patients, especially very satisfied ones, to leave feedback online.

2. Learn about your SEO ranking.

To increase the likelihood that customers will find your business through Google or other search engines, you will need to develop a strategy to increase your search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO strategies are important because they can help put your practice at the top of the results page when people search for a doctor near them.

To optimize your SEO, start by filling out your Google “My Business” page. Be sure you are listed in the correct business category, and include the following information:

  • The primary phone number for your practice
  • A clear description of your business
  • Your business hours
  • The address and service area of your practice
  • Reviews from other customers

Improve your local SEO by enhancing your website. It should be secure, fast, and mobile-friendly. Be sure your content includes the optimal keywords for your specialty and industry.

Videos also boost SEO, as they are 50 times more likely to show up organically in searches. Partner with authoritative websites to link to your site, and improve your site authority for more people to find your practice.

3. Pay attention to content marketing.

Research has shown that healthcare topics are the second-most searched content online. People typically search for health-related advice to understand their symptoms, seek medical advice, or schedule an appointment with their doctor.

To generate more leads online, try to create digital content around these topics. Consider the questions that patients ask you most often, and answer those through blog posts or other online content.

Use natural, conversational language. Google’s algorithm is constantly refining search results, and straying further away from long, clunky keywords and phrases. A short, specific keyword will rank higher than a long phrase, like “where to find an OB/GYN in Arkansas.”

Make sure you use one strong call to action on landing pages to incentivize users to make a call or fill out an online appointment form.

4. Invest in a professionally optimized website.

Maintaining a good website entails prioritizing your digital footprint, understanding the importance of digital content, and willingness to invest in a tool that will help new patients learn about your services.

More than 80 percent of people visit a medical practice’s website before booking an appointment. Your website will typically be a patient’s first impression of your business. Enhance user experience by creating a mobile-friendly format, making sure the loading speed is fast, and designing it using high-contrast fonts and colors.

5. Social media as a free referral service.

Think of social media as your most affordable referral service. The ability for customers to interact with brands helps to build trust, camaraderie, and loyalty. Take advantage of video marketing to gain more traction online and appear higher in searches.

If you have a strong presence on social media and regularly engage with an active audience, you might consider investing in social media ads to further grow your audience. Social media ads blend into regular content as people check their feeds, and act as a subtle reminder to contact your business for their healthcare needs.

How to promote your medical practice with digital marketing

Elevating your SEO and online presence makes finding your business far easier for future patients, and makes former and current patients feel reassured about their decision to use you as a provider. Providing valuable, informative content online encourages patients to leave positive reviews, which make the decision to choose your practice easier. This naturally boosts patient referrals, further improving your business traffic.

For more tips and strategies on improving your online footprint, get in touch with our team of healthcare marketing experts today. It doesn’t have to take a huge amount of time and effort to improve your digital marketing efforts. We would be happy to create a personalized marketing plan to enhance your business, attract new patients, and leave a lasting impression on those you currently serve.

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20 Strategies to Boost Your Healthcare Marketing Campaigns

20 Strategies to Boost Your Healthcare Marketing Campaigns | Social Media and Healthcare |

Think about the last time you went online to search for healthcare information. Maybe it was for quick answers about possible causes of the lingering headache you’ve had over the past few weeks. Or maybe you wanted tips on the best way to remove a stubborn splinter from your first grader’s foot.

It isn’t surprising that your first inclination would be to open up a browser in Google – before even calling your doctor’s office. Pew Research Center data shows 77% of all health inquiries begin at a search engine, with 72% of total Internet users say they’ve looked online for health information within the past year.

So, what does this mean for healthcare marketers?

As a result of this change in patient decision-making, digital marketing in healthcare has become critical. Digital helps to successfully communicate with, acquire, engage, and retain patients and physicians.

In today’s digital world, it’s crucial for marketers in any industry to develop a multichannel marketing strategy that reaches consumers on the channels they prefer to use. For healthcare marketers in particular, the challenge is to develop tailored messaging across channels that promotes patient engagement and a healthier society overall.

Let’s take a look at 20 campaign best practices for healthcare marketers to improve their organizations’ bottom line and create better outcomes for patients:

1. Allocate sufficient digital marketing spend

Digital marketing isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, a new concept: Statistics show that an average firm allocates about 42% of their marketing budget to online expenditures.

The trick, however, is for marketers to determine where and how to allocate the online portion of their budget among various channels (i.e., search engine marketing, online display advertising, social media, mobile, etc.). With a healthcare CRM system in place, marketers can expand their patient marketing reach by building, deploying, and tracking multichannel messaging that maximizes their return on investment.

2. Develop a collaborative process for the marketing team

Given the wealth of patient information available to today’s healthcare marketers, it’s critical to not only integrate multiple data sources in a healthcare CRM but also to align marketing efforts with other departments (sales, contact center, etc.) across the organization. A truly integrated marketing program requires a cross-disciplinary approach that leverages patient insights from across departments and ensures a coordinated effort and consistency.

3. Incorporate new ideas and channels

A cross-disciplinary strategy can’t just be added on top of existing marketing infrastructure, however. In order to maximize marketing effectiveness, it’s important to keep current with the shifting healthcare landscape, incorporating new ideas and channels into the program as needed.

FICO data, for example, shows 80% of consumers now want the option of using their smartphones to interact with their healthcare providers. What this means for marketers is that the consumer public has gone mobile – and marketers must tailor programs and messaging accordingly.

4. Align with consumer information

Despite increasing pressure to move toward digital media, marketers also need to be able to show a positive ROI associated with digital efforts. The best way to do this is to align marketing efforts to consumer insights and business intelligence.

This is where the analytics side of the healthcare CRM platform comes into play. After data has been compiled and integrated into the system, marketers can explore and analyze information, attributing marketing efforts to clinical and financial outcomes.

5. Leverage social media

As noted in Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey, 92% of consumers trust opinions from people they know. In the healthcare space, this translates to patients trusting online healthcare content that comes from doctors and nurses.

The challenge, of course, is getting this inevitably busy group to contribute the kind of content patients are looking to consume. One way to do this is encouraging patients to educate themselves on certain topics using live tweeting. In 2013, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center capture the attention of thousands of twitter users by live-tweeting a total knee replacement. This ultimately built interest and trust in the hospital.

6. Be proactively reactive

No industry is experiencing as much transformation as healthcare is. For healthcare marketers, this presents both challenges and opportunities. Proactive marketers will watch for changes in trends and consumer interests and behaviors – and be ready to respond.

By leveraging real-time reporting and analysis, marketers can take advantage of unexpected opportunities (i.e., mobile marketing, live tweeting, etc.) that may not have been possible in the past.

7. Don’t be afraid to experiment – and fail

In 2015, the Apple Watch was released. This wearable technology initially intended to provide a way to keep users connected to their phones without holding their phone. However, the Apple Watch’s utility for healthcare has quickly been realized – users are now making healthy lifestyle changes, including walking more often, making healthier dietary choices, and playing sports more regularly. In fact, 83% of Apple Watch owners believe the device positively contributes to their overall health.

The resulting imperative for healthcare marketers is to embrace change – because change in the healthcare industry is here to stay. It can be daunting to explore a new tactic or channel, as opposed to relying on proven techniques, but without experimentation, it’s impossible to know what works and what doesn’t.

8. Establish trust

As any healthcare marketer knows, establishing trust is integral to patient engagement from the first office visit throughout the entire care continuum. But creating the type of connections that inspire proactive patient care over the long term is easier said than done.

The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics shows that 40% of online healthcare advice comes from social media, providing healthcare marketers with the opportunity to engage a large percentage of patients via the networks they seek out for medical information.

9. Leverage competitor intelligence

As the $3.5 trillion healthcare industry continues to evolve, competition among healthcare organizations will become increasingly significant. Proactive healthcare marketers understand this and keep current on what their competitors are doing to inform their own healthcare marketing strategies and remain top of mind with consumers.

Specific tactics will vary among marketers, but examples of how to leverage competitor intelligence might include competitive auditing or simply monitoring competitors’ social profiles. The end result is understanding the competition and getting actionable strategies based on analysis.

10. Look toward the future – and stay grounded

Since the nature of digital marketing is to be constantly evolving, effective healthcare marketers make it a priority to be aware of shifts in legislation, technology, innovation, etc. At the same time, marketers may also need to take a “wait and see” approach in some areas.

As noted above, we have already seen the impact of newer communications channels such as mobile and social media on the healthcare industry. The question then becomes: How can healthcare marketers prepare themselves for the next wave of digital marketing innovation?


11. Reach the right audience with advanced targeting

The goal of any marketing campaign is to reach the right people with a message that resonates with them. Employing the right tactics to reach this audience can also help save some of the marketing budget. Advanced targeting and geo-fencingare two strategies healthcare marketers can use to ensure relevant users see their campaign.

Advanced targeting takes advantage of predictive modeling to score potential patients in order to identify and target those who are most likely to respond positively to communication. When advertising on social media, targeting options like “interest targeting” ensures the right audience sees health systems’ ads.

Geo-fencing allows marketers to target users on their phones within a 5-10 mile radius of a specific location, and can be used competitively. For example, a hospital could serve ads to people who are waiting at a nearby facility.

12. Take advantage of marketing automation

Certain marketing tactics, like email appointment reminders and follow up care instructions, are repetitive and can actually see higher levels of engagement if automated. In fact, marketing automation can help transform healthcare marketing departments from a reactive body to a proactive one.

For the long lead attribution periods of certain service lines, marketing automation can help nurture inactive consumers until they convert, or support ongoing engagement of existing patients over a long period of time. The goal is to automate the communication process so health systems continue to engage their patients and build loyalty over time, even outside of the clinician’s office.

13. Try A/B testing

A/B testing is defined as a method of comparing two versions of a web page or app against each other to determine which one performs better. In practice, this tactic allows healthcare marketers to make data-informed decisions about patient communication and messaging to ensure they have the greatest impact on their audience.

When starting out with A/B testing on a digital marketing campaign, it’s important to define metric goals so that marketers can measure success effectively. Other tips include starting small and taking it slow – marketers should make their first test on button colors, for example, to see which results in the highest click-through rate, and give each test sufficient time to run to get an accurate result.

14. Make strategic adjustments in real time

Even the greatest campaign idea could fall flat with target audiences after launching. For that reason, it’s critical that marketers track performance over time to get an accurate representation of which campaigns and messaging work best. With this insight, they can optimize campaigns in real time to ensure they’re getting the most out of the spend.

The benefit of digital marketing (versus traditional marketing tactics) is being able to pivot a marketing strategy throughout the campaign timeline to optimize engagement and boost success.

15. Employ remarketing

Remarketing advertisements can be a great tool to re-engage users who visited a site and dropped off. This digital tactic allows marketers to reach this audience by showing display or social media ads about their practice while they’re on other sites. In fact, remarketing can be a great way to lower the cost-per-acquisition (CPA)of campaigns.

Gary Druckenmiller, Evariant’s VP of Client Solutions, notes that your marketing dollars will be going down the drain without a remarketing campaign in place because many visitors start activity on sites but simply don’t convert. Setting up a remarketing campaign in Google AdWords, Facebook, or Bing can help keep CPA low and conversions high.

16. Focus on the user experience

Healthcare consumers are now expecting personalized communication and higher quality of care from their clinicians. The healthcare industry can borrow from the retail’s marketing tactics to succeed in a consumer-driven market. For example, marketers should make sure their website is optimized for mobile users – studies have shown 79 percent of users will search for another site if the one they land on doesn’t meet expectations.

Health systems should also strive to provide holistic experiences for consumers and patients. All customer touch points, including the website, emails, requesting an appointment, and online patient tools, should be optimized and designed to offer a similar experience for users. 

17. Meet consumer research with content

Due to the value-based trend in healthcare, research has become a big component of consumers’ health decisions. In fact, prior to booking an appointment, 77 percentof patients used search, 83 percent used hospital sites, and 50 percent used health information sites.

As a result of this, healthcare marketers need to empower their consumers with relevant, transparent information on their website. Effective healthcare content marketing answers common inquiries that patients or consumers may be searching for, such as information about services lines, patient portal access, physician directories, and insurance coverage.

18. Add conversion opportunities

Any digital marketing campaign would be amiss without a call to action. For new website visitors, frequent opportunities to “Schedule an Appointment” and “Talk to a Representative” could urge them to schedule a visit or learn more about a particular facility.

For existing patients, easy patient portal access and downloadable resources can help users quickly access medical records or give them the opportunity to learn more about a previously diagnosed condition. Healthcare typically has lengthy lead times – for example, from first ad clicked to coming in for an appointment – so a clear CTA can help guide users to take the next step.

19. Track and measure ROI

In order to create successful digital marketing campaigns, marketers need to know what worked and what didn’t in past campaigns, including which content users find engaging and how many people actually become patients.

To get this insight, marketers must set goals prior to launching a campaign, as well as track and measure success and ROI after it has run its course. This practice is necessary to successfully engage consumers in a competitive market.

With this insight, marketers can answer bigger questions, such as “Was this campaign worth the investment?” and “What is the most profitable digital marketing tactic for our health system?”

20. Don’t forget about physicians

Digital marketing tactics shouldn’t just be used to acquire or engage patients. Research has shown that combining physician with consumer marketing initiatives can result in significant operational and financial returns, such as increased customer retention, and increased patient visits.

One major health system used a combination of traditional marketing, physician relationship management, and digital marketing to target consumers and referring providers with online display ads, PPC, and emails about new physicians. As a resultof this year-long campaign, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC Health) saw 1,322 unique new primary care physician appointments scheduled.

Final Thoughts

A shifting healthcare landscape demands a proactive approach to healthcare that is more efficient, effective, and personal. As a result, the healthcare industry must meet consumer demands with effective digital marketing techniques. The above tips represent a few of the ways healthcare marketers can leverage their messaging to educate, inspire, motivate, and engage consumers to the extent that they become actively involved in their own care and healthier over the long term.

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9 Ways Patients' Demands are Fueling the Digital Revolution in Healthcare

9 Ways Patients' Demands are Fueling the Digital Revolution in Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

Like most industries, healthcare is rapidly going digital.

However, in the digital world, patients no longer see themselves as just patients. They view themselves as consumers of healthcare products and services. And they want access to high-quality healthcare that won’t break the bank.

In their quest to keep patients satisfied, clinicians and providers turned to technology-based solutions.

Patients Are Setting the Pace for the Digital Revolution

There’s mounting evidence that patients are at the forefront of the digital revolution in healthcare.

According to Healthcare Weekly, “70 percent of healthcare businesses have implemented telemedicine in some way as a way of diversifying their practices and connecting with patients in a way that better suits them.”

That’s only one example of how patients’ wishes and needs are changing the healthcare landscape. In this article, you’ll learn about nine more key changes driven by patients.

  1. The rise of on-demand healthcare

As consumers, modern patients are putting more emphasis on convenience and experiences. That’s why on-demand healthcare has gained more and more traction in the past few years.

On-demand services like telehealth apps and telemedicine platforms take healthcare right to patients’ virtual “doorsteps” (example: TeladocHello AlvinBabylon Health). Some providers and clinicians even make home visits prompted by mHealth apps.

So, what’s fueling the proliferation of on-demand healthcare, beside patients’ wishes and needs? The rise of mobile technology.

Mobile phone ownership is empowering patients more than ever, enabling them to make more informed healthcare decisions. Over 77 percent of Americans already own a smartphone, laptop or tablet and 65 percent of physician-patient communications are mobile in nature.

  1. Millennials and virtual care

Millennials (people born after 1980) have been widely criticized for their lifestyle choices. It’s been said that they are the death of the American Dream, given their inclination for renting versus buying a home.

Regardless of your opinion on the generation, one thing can be said, they are rapidly changing the culture to be that of one based on convenience and efficiency, with a high level of focus on technology. And they have been as vocal about their preferences for healthcare services.

According to a recent Accenture survey, millenials are inclined towards non-conventional healthcare models.They are big fans of virtual care (VR), retail clinics and digital health devices.

In fact, 16 percent of survey respondents said they are dissatisfied with doctor’s office waiting times, and 13 percent aren’t happy with the location of their physicians.

As a result, 39 percent of millennials participating in the survey said they have already switched from seeing a primary care provider in person to virtual care, and 41 percent said they visited retail clinics instead of seeing a primary care provider.

  1. Gen Z and retail clinics

Similar to Millennials, Gen Z (people born between 1995 and 2015) have developed an appetite for retail clinics and virtual care. Having been brought up in the digital era, these younger patients want healthcare that integrates emerging technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI).

Gen Z is foregoing its primary care providers as well. The same Accenture survey found that only 55 of these patients have a primary care provider, compared to 84 percent of baby boomers.

  1. Patient-facing apps

It seems like new patient-facing mHealth apps are being launched every other day. Thankfully, cutting-edge medical device software development combined with a data-driven marketing approach has made it possible for mHealth apps to be more intuitive, minimizing patient risk.

Companies like OrthogonalSvitla and Integrant are developing medical device software that make connected devices safer and more efficient than ever before.

Unfortunately, not all patient-facing apps are created equal. In fact, less than 50 percent of patient-facing apps available on the App Store and Google Play have the potential to improve outcomes and engagement for patients.

This is the reason why Mount Sinai Health System has developed a robust platform called RxUniverse, enabling doctors to prescribe mHealth apps they deem useful and relevant to their patients.

  1. Improving customer service with chatbots

Excellent customer service has always been extremely important for patients, but has become even more so in the digital age. This is where chatbots come into the picture. Chatbots not only improve customer services, but they also act as point-of-care for providers and as medical assistants for patients.

In addition, chatbots are an asset to care teams and managers. Take Cancer Chatbot, for instance, an AI-powered chatbot that helps chemo patients better manage their care by offering them tricks and tips.

  1. Using social media to enhance and track patient experience

The digital age and social media go hand in hand. Companies across the board are having to create social media strategies that are both impactful to their customers and meaningful to their business plans. But how does this correlate to the medical field?

Like most brands, social media allows healthcare organizations to create interactive experiences with their patients. It also allows medical industries to access more data about their customers as well as track health trends in real-time.

  1. Healthcare for every budget

One of the most well-known issues in the US healthcare system is the high price of life saving drugs. But thanks to new apps, patients are now able to shop around for the best possible drug prices, all from the comfort and convenience of their smartphones.

This is especially important for low-income populations or those living in remote areas. This segment of the population may not otherwise have access to these medical services.

  1. Shoppable healthcare

In a race to make healthcare more transparent and affordable for the patient, providers started offering digital solutions for comparing the quality and prices of medical services and prescription drugs. In a matter of seconds, customers can now discover if there’s a cheaper – yet equally effective – alternative to the medication prescribed by their doctor.

  1. Centralized, more accessible patient data

Smart, patient-driven, digital healthcare has forced hospitals and practices to seek software solutions that make patient data accessible from a secure, unified system. AI command centers, for example, leverage the massive amounts of data generated by hospitals to increase operational efficiency.


As they become more educated about healthcare, patients are demanding more personalized, affordable, transparent and convenient healthcare services that integrate with technology.

Consumers are not only willing to be monitored wirelessly using mHealth apps, but they are also taking an increased interested in their health. Patients want to work in tandem with their providers to better manage their conditions.

In response, healthcare providers and organizations are turning to technology-based solutions to meet their patients’ needs. Healthcare organizations and clinicians are shifting from fragmented care delivery systems to more integrated models that will better serve the patient.

In other words, members from across the healthcare sector, from caregivers to non-profits, are harmonizing their services to ensure that the patient is an active participant in their health across the spectrum.

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Case study on the voice of the patient for the Pharma industry

Case study on the voice of the patient for the Pharma industry | Social Media and Healthcare |

Pharmaceutical companies are extending their Voice of the Patient projects to include social media: comments on web forums, surveys, Twitter, and more.

The goal of the proof of concept ordered by one particular pharmaceutical company in Spain was to: ” Collect and analyze the voice of the patient, both quantitatively and qualitatively, from the channels where it is expressed”, including social networks like web forums, Facebook, Twitter, and other systems.

For the pharma industry, it is essential to listen and understand the feedback that their current and potential customers communicate through various means and touchpoints.

Web forums, for instance, gather millions of posts, and function as a meeting point for patients where support, experiences, and wisdom are shared with peers, family members, and friends.


These sources are so huge (up to 5 million posts in a single forum such as FertileThoughts)  that only automatic processing facilitates its analysis with the required quality, response time, and homogeneity.

The solution was hoped to automatically convert the insights obtained into concrete recommendations, taking into account each of the Organization’s communication and sales channels.


The goals of the Proof of Concept

-Identify and prioritize the needs and desires of patients.
-Detect adverse drug reactions beyond the usual drug safety systems.
-Evaluate new concepts, ideas, and solutions.
-Customize products, services, accessories, and features to meet the needs of patients.
-Prioritize developments.

Country: SPAIN

The project step by step

0. Choosing the sources

After some research on the possible public sources for the Voice of the Patient in Spain in the area of fertility treatments, the company decided to focus on a single web forum: La infertilidad (

It currently holds over 820 K  posts divided into 38 sub-forums.


1. Crawling

Automated software crawls all the pages within the forum to create an index of data. In this case, all of the posts were grabbed and transferred into an Elasticsearch database.

2. Semantic platform

Each post is processed using our semantic technology.

2.1. Classification

The classification API categorizes the texts in a hierarchical classification or taxonomy.

The classification models in MeaningCloud’s Text Classification API combine a statistical model with classification rules.

Thus, a simple classification model was developed and trained. It was made up of 10 categories. Namely:

  1. Dislike
  2. Like
  3. Expectations
  4. Recommendations
  5. Advice against
  6. Maintenance
  7. Drug-sharing
  8. Help
  9. Benchmarking
  10. Posology and use

2.2. Sentiment Analysis

Our Sentiment Analysis API is able to perform a detailed, multilingual sentiment analysis on information from various sources.

The output being one of the following tags: N+ (strongly negative), N (negative), NEU (neutral sentiment, neither good nor bad, or in cases where positive polarities compensate for the negative ones), P (positive), P+ (strongly positive) and NONE (no sentiment).

In addition to the local and global polarity, the API uses advanced natural language processing techniques to detect the polarity associated with both the entities and the concepts present within the text.

2.3. Named entities

This API extracts the most relevant information from a text, such as the people, places, organizations, and products mentioned, known as named entities. These entities, concepts, and values provide a semantic overview of a document, enabling the development of intelligent applications to process content in several languages.

We also add our own dictionaries to extend MeaningCloud’s capabilities of tagging entities and concepts and in turn, adapt them to a domain or to your application’s requirements. We incorporate the names of drugs, active ingredients or diseases to semantically analyze health-related texts.

Our company makes regular developments focused on the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry: approximately 80% of our revenue comes from that sector. There are hundreds of thousands of domain-specific semantic resources integrated into our system, each of them intended to detect a different type of named entity. They include MedDRAUMLSCIMAATC, and IDC.

3. Structured content

Once the semantic platform has automatically processed and analyzed textual content, by transforming “raw” data into structured usable information, the content is input back to the Elasticsearch database.

Any extra structured data that we may get insightful information from is also uploaded to Elasticsearch. . For instance, we have added a table listing a range of clinics and their corresponding details: Province, Region, Locality, Public (Yes/No), and a table of brands and products

4. Insightful Dashboard

The dashboard included the following sections:

4.1. Relevance of clinics

The map below is the first interface for the dashboard. It shows the location of the clinics that have been mentioned by the patients. The map shows further details when clicking on each spot.

4.2. Product-related insights

This second interface below gathers the mentions of brands and their products. It has sections for stock alerts, adverse effects, and drug sharing alerts.

4.3. Drug sharing alerts

Whenever patients try to buy or sell prescription drugs the dashboard shows the quotations.

4.4. Adverse effects

The system monitors adverse events and understands their impact.

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4 ways you’re ‘overthinking’ your hospital marketing—and how to stop

4 ways you’re ‘overthinking’ your hospital marketing—and how to stop | Social Media and Healthcare |

Overthinking. Admit it, we’re all guilty. There are many examples in the world of hospital branding that fall prey to the symptoms of overthinking. Most are about how we think people will react to strategic decisions and whether or not they’ll be able to put “two and two together.” But here’s the truth—which is sometimes difficult to swallow for people in our business, myself included is:

People just don’t think about things the way we do.

Several sources suggest that we’ve gone from exposing consumers to 500 messages a day to nearly 3,000. And, according to Yankelovich Consumer Research, “regardless of whether the figure is 3,000 or 30,000, it is clear that businesses need to do something fairly special to be noticed on a large scale. Even if people do happen to cast their eyes on your messages, whether they actually take any notice or process the information is a different matter.”

Here are a few examples in hospital branding that have been the subject of overthinking:

  • Naming a new hospital or branded enterprise We have worked with three organizations this past year that were evaluating name changes and suggestions for hospital facilities or branded enterprises. A lot of quality research was conducted and in-depth consumer interviews were held. Not surprisingly, most people liked the names they were most familiar with and expressed the desire to have them incorporated into new branding strategies. Research can be equally validating as it is illuminating.
  • Dabbling in social media There are many health care organizations that continue to think through every possible negative ramification in launching an aggressive digital or online strategy. As a result, they never got off the dime and competition now owns keywords and a strong digital presence.
  • Graphic standards Does the line come under the name or does the name come over the line? Graphic standards are paramount for growing organizations; however, most are developed with the company in mind, not the consumer. Focus group participants clearly report: “Tell us who you are and where you are” and “keep it simple.”
  • Internal branding Stakeholders want to be educated about various marketing initiatives. After all, it’s the “fun” part of the business and who doesn’t enjoy seeing their organization’s name out in the community. But they also want to be inspired, and have a better understanding of what it means for them in their daily work activities.

There are many other examples of key initiatives that often get caught in our own analysis-paralysis. Just remember the number from Yankelovich—your consumer audience is hit with over 3,000 messages every day. Your job should be to make ideas clear, relevant, and simple—and not overthinking the story we want to tell as hospital branders. Other reminders that make our messages more memorable:

  • Engage, don’t sell: branding is a heartbeat, not a chest beat. Remember “feature benefits, not features.” Ideas around love, money, health, career, hopes, and dreams are what get people’s attention.
  • Use media effectively: if consumers are bombarded with messages, select media channels and strategies that are most relevant to those you want to reach. Traditional and non-traditional media can be highly targeted to better the odds of messages being noticed.
  • Be innovative and creative: people will notice your messages if they stand out and capture their imagination. Same old, same old is, well, same old.

A version of this appeared on the Springboard Brand and Creative Strategy blog.

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Why physicians should engage the podcast generation

Why physicians should engage the podcast generation | Social Media and Healthcare |

In an impressive two-hour interview with Joe Rogan, AMA member Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, displayed just how essential it is for physicians to be heard on podcasts. He also laid out the importance of addressing vaccines to the podcast generation during a time when the anti-vaccine movement is ravaging the country.

AMA member Peter Hotez, MD, PhD

More than one million people have listened to the podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” to hear Dr. Hotez dispel misinformation commonly spread about vaccines and autism. This allowed him to reach the 18 to 30-year-old groups in a way that other media interviews wouldn't.

“I think it says a lot about the importance of podcasts and for this next generation. It definitely reached a number of people and a unique demographic. I think that was really a home run from that standpoint,” said Dr. Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and professor of Pediatrics and Molecular & Virology and Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine.

He is also author of, “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel's Autism” and co-head of the Section of Pediatric Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

We sat down with Dr. Hotez to learn more about why physicians should get involved. Here is what he had to say



Does having a personal story give you a different type of credibility?

Dr. Hotez: “It definitely gives me street cred. Right? I've got most of the bases covered in vaccine science as the pediatrician, but I'm also an autism dad. And, I don't take money from industry, so I'm not tied in any way to the big vaccine manufacturers. As much as the anti-vaccine lobby tried to assert that I'm a shill for industry, it's actually not the case and that makes it really tough for them to go after me.”

“It just makes my arguments a lot stronger in the fact that I'm only working on vaccines for the world's poorest people. There's no financial incentive, unlike the anti-vaccine lobby themselves who have figured out a way to monetize the internet.”

Have you seen anything negative come from participating in this podcast?

Dr. Hotez: “In retribution for my going on Joe Rogan, one of the things that happened was the anti-vaccine lobby ganged up and they flooded the Amazon site on my book with one-star reviews. My poor book got flooded with over 200 one-star reviews in the course of a week—that’s life in the big city.”

Is it worth it for physicians to take their professional expertise out of the exam room?

Dr. Hotez: “The anti-vaccine movement has become its own media empire unto itself that dominates the internet. It’s taken over Facebook. It’s taken over the Amazon site. That's partly our fault as a scientific community and the medical community that we've been so invisible.”

“If you have the ability and interest in doing it, there's a huge need because right now the American public is not getting their health information from scientists and physicians. They're getting it from a lot of misinformation websites and it's partly because the medical profession—the scientific professions—are invisible.”

“Research!America, which is a policy group, has done an interesting study to find 81 percent of Americans cannot name a living scientist and those that could, it's people like Bill Nye the Science Guy and Neil deGrasse Tyson. It's not working scientists that are writing grants and papers, revising papers and going to lab meetings. The American public has no idea what we do and that's our fault.

“It's our fault because we give the message to the medical students, residents and graduate students that public engagement is not important. We give the message that it's a bad thing to interact with journalists directly or talk to the public directly—that's seen as a form of self-promotion or grandstanding. We need to do the opposite.”

Are there any concerns regarding podcasts or is this a positive avenue?

Dr. Hotez: “It's a positive avenue. You do have to be careful if you get invited to a podcast and make certain that you're not being set up. Something mainstream like Joe Rogan is great, but who knows? You could be getting set up by an anti-science podcast I suppose.”

“A lot of people are starting podcasts now and they can take time, so you can spin your wheels doing a lot of podcasts that have no bandwidth. Engage with your office of media and communications to see that it's a podcast that's a safe space within reason.”

“The place where patients and people are getting their health care information is increasingly coming from podcasts. They've gotten a lot of clout with impact, especially among, as you called it, this podcast generation. And I think it's something really important for the AMA to get its arms around.”

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The role of social media in selective dorsal rhizotomy for children: information sharing and social support

The role of social media in selective dorsal rhizotomy for children: information sharing and social support | Social Media and Healthcare |

Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) is a surgical treatment for spasticity, primarily in cerebral palsy (CP). There is a growing trend for patients to seek medical information from their peers on social media platforms. This study qualitatively and quantitatively assessed the use of social media as an information-sharing and support-seeking tool by patients and caregivers.


A search was performed on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Public information was quantitatively assessed by category, users, year of creation, and country of origin. Representative samples of comments and posts were then qualitatively assessed by thematic analysis.


One hundred eighty-five Facebook groups and pages, 97 YouTube videos, and 14 Twitter accounts were identified, based in 13 countries. SDR and CP groups had a mean membership of 3063 and 2339, respectively; SDR and CP pages had a mean number of “likes” of 1650 and 10,711, respectively. Total YouTube video views were 593,135 (mean 6115). Total Twitter followers were 62,609 (mean 2160). Qualitative analysis identified seven categories of comments: emotional support and forming connections (22.34%), sharing information and advice (15.96%), appreciation and successes (31.91%), challenges and difficulties (8.51%), advertising/offering services (4.79%), inequities and access (4.79%), and social media as a second opinion (11.7%).


This study outlines the use of social media platforms in the distribution of information regarding SDR. We highlight the importance placed by patients and caregivers on the advice of their peers. The current report should inform healthcare providers’ interactions with patients with respect to information seeking and provision of support.

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The Adverse Drug Reactions From Patient Reports in Social Media Project: Protocol for an Evaluation Against a Gold Standard

The Adverse Drug Reactions From Patient Reports in Social Media Project: Protocol for an Evaluation Against a Gold Standard | Social Media and Healthcare |

Background: Social media is a potential source of information on postmarketing drug safety surveillance that still remains unexploited nowadays. Information technology solutions aiming at extracting adverse reactions (ADRs) from posts on health forums require a rigorous evaluation methodology if their results are to be used to make decisions. First, a gold standard, consisting of manual annotations of the ADR by human experts from the corpus extracted from social media, must be implemented and its quality must be assessed. Second, as for clinical research protocols, the sample size must rely on statistical arguments. Finally, the extraction methods must target the relation between the drug and the disease (which might be either treated or caused by the drug) rather than simple co-occurrences in the posts.

Objective: We propose a standardized protocol for the evaluation of a software extracting ADRs from the messages on health forums. The study is conducted as part of the Adverse Drug Reactions from Patient Reports in Social Media project.

Methods: Messages from French health forums were extracted. Entity recognition was based on Racine Pharma lexicon for drugs and Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities terminology for potential adverse events (AEs). Natural language processing–based techniques automated the ADR information extraction (relation between the drug and AE entities). The corpus of evaluation was a random sample of the messages containing drugs and/or AE concepts corresponding to recent pharmacovigilance alerts. A total of 2 persons experienced in medical terminology manually annotated the corpus, thus creating the gold standard, according to an annotator guideline. We will evaluate our tool against the gold standard with recall, precision, and f-measure. Interannotator agreement, reflecting gold standard quality, will be evaluated with hierarchical kappa. Granularities in the terminologies will be further explored.

Results: Necessary and sufficient sample size was calculated to ensure statistical confidence in the assessed results. As we expected a global recall of 0.5, we needed at least 384 identified ADR concepts to obtain a 95% CI with a total width of 0.10 around 0.5. The automated ADR information extraction in the corpus for evaluation is already finished. The 2 annotators already completed the annotation process. The analysis of the performance of the ADR information extraction module as compared with gold standard is ongoing.

Conclusions: This protocol is based on the standardized statistical methods from clinical research to create the corpus, thus ensuring the necessary statistical power of the assessed results. Such evaluation methodology is required to make the ADR information extraction software useful for postmarketing drug safety surveillance.

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Doctors and nurses on Instagram: influencers like Doctor Mike are everywhere 

Doctors and nurses on Instagram: influencers like Doctor Mike are everywhere  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Sarah’s Instagram feed is pretty typical for a 21-year-old model-slash-influencer living in Florida. Here she is standing dreamily in front of some ferns. Over here she’s clutching Starbucks’s new Cloud Macchiato. She poses on porches, by murals, in bathrooms, often with lengthy captions that reveal what she’s up to this weekend (wedding planning, working), words of inspiration, and her very relatable love of donuts.

There’s one important difference: In all of them, she’s wearing scrubs.

Which is appropriate, considering “shesinscrubs” is her username. Along with modeling, Sarah, who asked not to reveal her last name, is a registered nurse. Over the course of just four months she has amassed an Instagram following of more than 11,000 people.

Being a nursefluencer, a term that I have admittedly made up but that describes a growing population, is similar to being a regular influencer: You get someone to take pictures (for Sarah, it’s her little brother), you post often (once a day or else the algorithm will bury you, Sarah tells me), and promote products (like almost everyone I spoke to for this piece, Sarah receives free scrubs from the brand Figs).

On the other hand, regular influencers don’t usually have to worry about whether promoting, say, CBD oil violates medical ethics. HIPAA, the law that protects patient privacy and medical records, is also presumably not a high-priority consideration.

But for Sarah, and many young health care professionals like her, a sizeable Instagram following is a salve for a litany of problems experienced by those in the field: burnout, odd hours, and a lack of a creative outlet, to start. So it’s not surprising that within the past few months, tons of accounts like hers have popped up, gaining huge followings — largely made up of fellow medical professionals — by posting an insider’s view of the industry.

It’s also raised questions about the ethics of being a health care influencer. After all, isn’t the only person who should be influencing anyone’s health their own doctor?

Where did medical influencers come from?

Instagram is a place where you are supposed to show off how “well” you’re doing, even if you’re not doing very well at all. Scroll through the feed and you’re likely to see signifiers of social wellness (friends), mental wellness (books and bathtubs), and physical wellness (yoga and photogenic health foods) that might bear negligible resemblance to one’s actual life.

Those who have succeeded at performing that wellness the most palatably for the platform have been rewarded with millions of followers, which in turn can bring brand deals and, with that, money. It’s created a new class of microcelebrities who, intentionally or not, wield enormous influence over how others live their lives, or at least how they present their lives on social media.


While most of the time when we think of wellness influencers, we might think of acro-yoga couples or, on the extreme end, people like Freelee the Banana Girl, the nude vegan vlogger who lives in a South American jungle and eats exclusively fruit, there are some accounts that are actively harmful: Instagram has contended with a serious anti-vaccine conspiracy theory problem, for instance. Its algorithmic recommendation engine can also conflate many types of “health” content, so that following one anti-vaccination account might push you to follow dozens of others, but could also group them alongside accounts promoting innocuous things like plant-based diets.

Health care influencers who have flooded the site within the past few years say they’re fighting back against that kind of social media misinformation. Many nurses and doctors on Instagram combine the cute, aspirational lifestyle aesthetic of regular fashion and beauty influencers with actual medical tips from a vetted professional.

There are now so many medical professionals on Instagram that at least one hospital has created an entire position to govern it. Austin Chiang, MD, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia, also holds the position of chief medical social media officer, which he guesses might be the first of its kind in the country. “I always felt strongly that we need a stronger clinician presence on social media in order to really battle misinformation out there,” he says.

It’s why last fall, he and a few peers launched the hashtag campaign #VerifyHealthcare, which encouraged health care professionals on social media to list their qualifications, such as their education, specializations, and board certifications. “A lot of us had started noticing health professionals who were saying that they were some sort of practitioner when they actually were not,” he says. “If they’re talking about health and marketing themselves as doctors, then the public could be misled.”

Many of the top Instagram posts related to plastic surgery, for instance, are from doctors not specially trained in plastic surgery despite the fact that they’ve marketed themselves as “cosmetic surgeons.” Naturopaths, chiropractors, and aestheticians are also typically not medical doctors, but some may present themselves on social media as such.

Concerns like these have been top of mind for people like Arthur L. Caplan, the founding director of NYU’s Division of Medical Ethics. “I see people all the time advertise things like, ‘My specialty is cosmetic dentistry.’” he says. “There is no specialty of cosmetic dentistry. It’s not a recognized dental subspecialty.”

On Instagram, health care isn’t just a day job anymore, it’s a personal brand, and an increasingly lucrative one at that: All the health care influencers I spoke to had seen their followings skyrocket in the past year, which some hope will lead to bigger brand deals.

But wait, why do doctors need side hustles?

Dentist Joyce Kahng has more than 13,000 followers on the account she launched just a year ago, @joycethedentist. When she first started, she posted up-close images of teeth (she used her family members’ due to HIPAA concerns) because that’s what she saw other dentists doing. But, she said, laughing, “those weren’t being received well by normal people.”

Instead, the content that performs best on the page now is about her life as a dentist in addition to owning her own practice and being a professor at USC. Being likable and accessible, she says, has also translated into business: Around three-quarters of her new patients have found her via Instagram. “It gives you a competitive edge against the already saturated dental market,” she explains.

Despite health care being a relatively stable and high-paying industry, Kahng sees her growing Instagram following as an investment. “In some future, I do want to start to monetize it because at some point I need to have kids,” she says. “I just haven’t figured out the way in which to do it that doesn’t make me feel like a sellout.”

This is when I ask her the very obvious question: If an extremely successful dentist, business owner, and professor is worried about not being able to afford children, what hope do the rest of us have?

“Dentistry does pay well,” she explains. “The thing is, you have to work in order to be paid. It’s not like a corporate job where you can call in sick. If I don’t come in, every single person that I employ cannot work that day. I just imagine being pregnant and having to miss work for a month, [and] the office cannot run. That concerns me.”

It’s not as if health care professionals haven’t always had side hustles. The internet is filled with tips on how to make extra money as a nurse — RNs can make, on average, from $50,000 to nearly $100,000 depending on the state where they live, but when adjusted for cost of living, that number can be lower. It’s also a job that has a high rate of burnout due to the stressful work environment and difficult working conditions, which means that not everyone can or wants to make it a lifelong career.

Many nurses have recently turned to multilevel marketing as a way to supplement their incomes or as a path out of the field. And though none of the influencers I spoke to were making serious (if any) money on Instagram, most acknowledged the possibility of doing so in the future.

“I don’t think it’s fair to be like, ‘You’re a nurse, you care for other people, therefore you’re not allowed to benefit yourself financially,’” says Katy B (who also asked to keep her last name private), a registered nurse in San Francisco with more than 25,000 followers. “Most of us have a lot of student debt and trying to stay afloat. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it as long as you’re being transparent about what you’re doing.”

Spon con, HIPAA, and medical advice: the ethics of being an Instagram doctor

That transparency, of course, comes hand in hand with the question of sponcon, or sponsored content. For the average influencer, it’s pretty simple: A brand pays them a sum of money to endorse a product, like laxative teas or viral YouTube toys, in a way that leverages their large following.

It’s different, though, when you’re also leveraging your expertise and reputation as a doctor, dentist, or nurse. Scroll through most health care influencers’ Instagram feeds and you’re likely to see at least a few #ads. Some are innocuous: Many influencers have deals with the aforementioned scrubs brand Figs, while others promote products like stethoscope charms shaped like Disney characters that can help keep nervous kids calm during checkups.

Though few peddle the kind of questionable medical treatments shilled by celebrities like Dr. Oz (rapid weight-loss pills with harmful side effects, for instance) some toe the very blurry line about what’s appropriate for a health care professional to post. Mike Varshavski, a cartoonishly handsome New York City physician who goes by the name Doctor Mike on Instagram and has more than 3 million followers, regularly posts sponsored content for everything from Clorox bleach to Quaker Oats and American Express, which could create the perception that these corporations are somehow medically approved by this doctor. (Disclosure: Doctor Mike has participated in a Vox Media panel event.)

Even average Instagram influencers now shill drugs and medical devices paid for by Big Pharma, without necessarily any real knowledge of how they work. When products fall under the health umbrella, the ethical questions are even more complicated. The Federal Trade Commission does have specific guidelines for doctor endorsements. For example, doctors should not misrepresent their specific areas of expertise. But it still raises the question: Should a doctor be paid to promote essential oils? What about NyQuil?

“I’m not sure [doctors] have any place [promoting over-the-counter products] other than to say, ‘I’m a regular user.’ I think it still undermines their professional credibility,” Caplan says. “When you start endorsing, say, aromatherapy, you’re saying you had a great time at a spa and you felt it really helped your anxiety or something. You’re getting into pseudo-medicine stuff. Some of those things can make you feel better, but you don’t want to give them scientific endorsement.”

It’s a debate that’s somewhat reminiscent of decades-long concerns about pharmaceutical companies paying or wooing doctors to prescribe their products. But this, Caplan explains, isn’t the way it works anymore. “You don’t have the old, ‘We’re gonna bring you donuts every week and you keep writing prescriptions for our drug.’”


“It’s not that everybody suddenly became ethical,” he said, laughing. Rather, now pharmaceutical companies can market directly to the patient. “There’s the ads that are like, ‘Ask your doctor about this cancer medication.’ If you have to ask your doctor about a cancer medication, you need a new cancer doctor.”

Sponcon, however, is not the main ethical concern for most health care influencers — after all, doctors and nurses endorse products all the time; as long as they comply with FTC advertising disclosure guidelines, there’s nothing in the Hippocratic oath that claims thou shalt not hashtag #ad.

Instead, that concern is HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, a federal law that provides privacy and security protections for patients’ medical information. Under HIPAA, all patients have the ability to see how and where their medical records are being used and prevent them from being seen by their employer or insurance company. And unlike shilling over-the-counter drugs, violating HIPAA is a fireable offense. The problem, though, is that HIPAA existed a decade and a half before Instagram did.

“It’s not as simple as not mentioning someone’s name,” Chiang explains. “Instagram is visual, so you see a lot of procedural photos. There are certainly risks in that. There’s even risks in geo-tagging or talking about a case that you’re doing.”

Some doctors and surgeons have achieved enormous followings on social media by posting procedural videos from the gross (Sandra Lee, who goes by the nickname “Dr. Pimple Popper”) to the straight-up gory. In 2015, Dr. Michael Salzhauer, or “Dr. Miami” began posting graphic videos of himself performing butt lifts, breast surgery, and liposuction on Snapchat, which regularly garnered more than a million views.

Dr. Miami reportedly secured permission from his patients to do so. Every influencer I spoke to listed HIPAA as one of their top concerns and said they were diligent about not posting anything that might cross a line.

“You can change the date, gender, or demographic, but someone from [their] work or family could recognize the case no matter how much you change about it,” Sarah says. “I would be scared to even think about posting about any of my patients. Maybe one of them saying, ‘You were a nice nurse.’”

Instagram is offering prospective doctors and nurses a look inside their world, and a way to deal with the stress

Though weighing the ethical questions like HIPAA and sponcon can be thorny, health care influencers also provide a genuine service for those interested in joining the field.

Like Kahng, Katy started her Instagram page after seeing similar accounts, and today, the majority of her followers are fellow health care professionals or aspiring ones. Though she originally went to college with the goal of being a physician, she realized it wasn’t for her. Now she’s on track to receive her master’s in June, when she will become a pediatric primary care nurse practitioner.


“My main goal is to share what my journey looks like, because in health care, especially for folks that aren’t familiar with the professional fields, there’s so many different things that you can do,” she says. “It’s cool when we all share our unique perspective of what it actually looks like on the human side.”

This explains why accounts like hers have been able to grow so quickly in such short amounts of time: There’s a real hunger among prospective medical professionals to get a sense of what the job and the lifestyle really look like.

“We’re so at risk for burnout, because we spend a lot of time taking care of other people, and I think sometimes we forget how to take care of ourselves,” she adds. “We have to brag about the cool things that we do!”

What you don’t see on Katy’s Instagram page — for reasons that are very obvious and very necessary — is her actual job. She’s currently in an emergency pediatric psychiatric care unit, where she works with children up to age 17 who are experiencing immediate psychiatric crises.

It’s difficult to imagine how the stress of such an environment can affect a person, but it does help explain why so many Instagram nurses and doctors fill their feeds with a heavily curated stream of bright and shiny images. For those who work in emergency rooms, it’s impossible to predict what the day will bring. But on Instagram, everything’s perfectly controlled.

Dustin Harris, a resident emergency room physician in Chicago, deals with the stress using humor. He’d done some standup, and started posting the funny things patients would say to Facebook. On his Instagram page, where he has nearly 18,000 followers, he posts jokes, memes, and sometimes even haikus relating to the job.

“My favorite part about it is making people laugh. It keeps me balanced. I’ll be working and I’ll see some disease, and be like, ‘Oh man, I could write a funny rap about this.’ The human body is a funny thing sometimes.”

“TV has portrayed medicine as being very dramatic or sexy,” he adds. “I felt that I could show the more real version of it. Not that those things that happen don’t ever happen, like awesome procedures or people coming back to life, but that’s not every day.”

Making light of the often dark professional realities of health care is how Sarah, the nurse in Florida, built her following in the first place. She’d started the meme account @scrublifenurses last June, which then gave her the skills and platform to launch her own personal page. Memes there range from the silly (a video of a possum carrying her babies captioned with “When you’re the only seasoned nurse on the floor with a bunch of new grads”) to the serious (the phrase “A national effort for safe staffing ratios for nurses” combined with the viral clip of Mo’nique saying “I would like to see it.”).

“A lot of our job is dealing with human emotion, and you can bring that home pretty easily,” Sarah says. “If you just bottle it all up and you already have issues with your own mental health, it can be extremely detrimental and then you lose your love for your passion.”

On both her meme account and her personal page, Sarah often posts about topics like mental health, the importance of nurses’ unions, and other national health care issues. That, of course, in addition to the stylized photos typical of influencers. “I like to post [photos that show] this isn’t what it really is, but at the same time have an aesthetically pleasing feed. It’s kind of like you have control over something, but when you’re at work it’s chaos.”

Nursefluencers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon

The benefits of being a health care professional with a big Instagram following — having a creative outlet, the ability to market oneself, and the sense that you’re combating misinformation on the internet, for instance — mean that the phenomenon isn’t likely going to slow down.

One problem, though, is that medical students aren’t exactly taught how to use Instagram responsibly. Caplan, the medical ethicist, says that at most they’ll get a single lecture on social media, which he attributes to the generation gap. While most current medical students have grown up using social media, their professors didn’t, and may not be prepared to advise them on the peculiarities of the health care internet.

In a piece for Slate in November 2018, medical student Vishal Khetpal wrote about how organizations and companies would approach him and his classmates to appear in white coats while endorsing products or attending events despite the fact that they weren’t actually doctors yet.

“The uncharted ethics of social media are already confusing,” he writes, “and that’s before you add in the influence of outside interests, many of which are ready to take advantage of students’ ability to offer some stamp of medical authority to the general public about a product or idea without asking too many questions.”


Confusion over what’s okay to post is a constant struggle. It’s why Chiang has launched the Association for Healthcare Social Media, which is currently in the process of obtaining a 501c3 designation before opening itself up to members.

“I think a lot of physicians are almost scared to get on social media because of the restrictive nature of how things were worded in the past,” he says. “We want people to share their experiences and share their expertise.”

Traditionally, health care professionals were discouraged from revealing anything about their personal lives in the public. But, thanks in part to Instagram, that’s changing.

“[There are] some old fogies who think, ‘Well, doctors shouldn’t be sharing personal information or talking about their lives in places the patients could find it, blah, blah,’” Caplan says. “Anyone who thinks they’re going to stop the use of social media by physicians or nurses is over 40. It’s just not going to stop. We have to adjust.”

Kahng, for her part, says that now, she makes sure to teach her USC students to build up their social media presence. “They invest so much money into their education and at the end of it, who knows?” she says. “They may not like dentistry, and I want them to have a following so that they don’t feel quite as trapped. They have something to lean on.”

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Digital Marketing For Healthcare: What You Need To Know

Digital Marketing For Healthcare: What You Need To Know | Social Media and Healthcare |

The private healthcare industry is an extremely competitive marketplace. This business is sensitive, both in nature and in marketing. Mistakes can cost lives, bad advice can cost huge losses, and poor marketing can cause bankruptcy.

A healthcare company’s purpose is to attract and treat its patients. Patients are often feeling confused, angry, scared, and vulnerable. Therefore, a health company must always try to create rapport by putting itself in the patient’s shoes. And not in every patient’s shoes, but only in the ones that represent the ideal target personas for the company.

Nevertheless, in this industry, your target audience is quite broad regardless of how many specializations and services you offer. And since there are so many people who consult websites before making healthcare decisions, it’s key for you to understand where and how to reach those people.

In today’s post, we’ll explore several aspects that you need to know to skyrocket the results of your digital marketing campaigns as a healthcare company. Tips, tricks, strategies – you bet!

Build a Simple & Useful Website

In the healthcare industry, a brand’s website represents the first impression or the welcome gate to your organization. When a person’s looking for medical help online, your website’s quality and relevancy will influence whether that prospective patient will choose you or your biggest competitor.

You’ll need to focus on UX (user experience) and simplistic design. Patients need to easily navigate through the pages and find exactly what they’re looking for (services, contact information, hour, location, medical information, etc).

Your site should be a very short bridge between the patient (or a patient’s relative or friend) and the services you offer. Keep it simple, give your patients all the necessary buttons (more info, prices, contact here) or you’ll lose them before they get to you.

Create and Sustain a Valuable Blog

If you want to take your healthcare organization to the next level, you’ll need to get familiar with content marketing. Content is king, especially in the health sector, an industry that is constantly looking for fresh advice, solutions, and help.

One of the best ways to improve your brand’s awareness and reputation over time is to develop an informational blog on your site. Here are the benefits and applications of a healthcare blog:

  • Improves your site’s SEO, bring more clients, improve your brand’s awareness through organic exposure
  • Improves your credibility, authority, and reputation as a healthcare organization
  • Improves people’s lives, as great information can often save or improve the condition of the patients.
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The most common types of content in the healthcare industry are industry news, educational topics (how-to’s / what is / how to protect yourself from), inspirational stories from other patients, resources list, and product recommendations.

Develop an Email Marketing Campaign

In the healthcare industry, intrusive marketing is not the right way to go. Advertisers and marketers who almost force prospective patients to come and test their services are risking their resources big time, mainly because patients don’t respond very well to pressure and force.

Instead of forcing them, develop a genuine relationship with them. What do patients want from you? It’s simple: valuable information that has practical value.

If you start an email marketing campaign – a monthly, weekly, or daily – educational newsletter, your patients won’t have to search for the right information because they’ll receive it in their inbox.

Here’s the key:

You can’t send the same emails to everyone because each patient has different problems. For that reason, you should study email segmentation and slowly apply it to your email campaign. Basically, you’ll need to create an automated system that shares various information to different people, all based on their problems and needs.

Hard, but totally worth it!

Publish Inspirational, Motivational, and Educational Videos

Another great way to improve your digital marketing performance in the healthcare industry is to shorten the bridge between you and your patients even more.

People are emotional and social beings. Video is extremely popular at the moment. What can you draw from these statements? Here’s what I’m pointing to:

You should publish educational videos in which one or more healthcare professionals are carefully presenting information and educating the audience.

Live videos on social media channels are great opportunities to reach a wide audience and make yourself known. Live videos will also improve your authority as you’ll be a healthcare brand that doesn’t shy away from interacting with its patients on a personal and direct level.

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Make SEO Part of Your Digital Marketing Strategy

SEO is crucial if you want to stand out from the crowd. There are two SEO aspects you need to focus on: local pack and organic search. The first mentioned is the 4-5 Google business listings that appear in front of the organic results. These are critical for every healthcare business who works locally.

Google My Business page holds the information you must edit and optimize in order to rank well in the SERPs. Here’s what you should look after:

  • Business categories – be very specific.
  • Phone number
  • Business description – specific and relevant
  • Hours of operation
  • Address
  • Reviews

Concerning the organic rankings, here are some tips that should improve your SEO game:

  • Optimize your site for SEO (ON-Page optimization) but focus on Off-Site SEO too. That means you shouldn’t be just improving your webpage but you should be focusing on building organic and natural backlinks.
  • Write amazing, long-form content that is directly addressed to your patients, helping them solve their problems and biggest needs.
  • Do proper keyword research – the more relevant keywords you use the better you’ll do in time.

Develop a Strong Social Media Presence

Neglecting social channels would be foolishness, no matter what type of health business you run. Patients are spending time on social media channels too, so there’s no excuse for you not to get in the game.

Developing a solid healthcare social media strategy is the first step. You’ll need to decide the goals of your campaign (brand awareness, clients, reputation, etc.), define the ways you’ll reach them (influencer marketing, paid ads, roundup posts, etc.), and then you’ll need to take real action. Here’s an amazing social media guide that fits the healthcare industry perfectly.


One thing is certain: everything changes and nothing good lasts forever. That means you should constantly stay up to speed with the latest market trends and technology breakthroughs and adapt as the marketplace shifts its direction.

CherryNetwork's curator insight, May 13, 12:26 PM

Worth reading... "Digital Marketing For Healthcare: What You Need To Know"

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