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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Innovating Healthcare Through Technology and Marketing

Innovating Healthcare Through Technology and Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

The uptick in mobile search and the increasing interconnectivity of phones into our daily lives is a disruptive force for healthcare practitioners to reckon with.

Rapid technological innovations change the way people find and evaluate their healthcare providers, radically altering the healthcare landscape for patients and providers alike.

For healthcare practitioners, the message is clear: new approaches are needed to attract and retain customers through a digitally enhanced delivery of care. Clinics that catch the wave and integrate new marketing strategies will thrive, while those too slow to react will lose out…or be forced to HMO.

Driving Growth Through New Approaches to Healthcare Marketing

In order to grow your practice in a mobile-first market, you need more than the digital marketing fundamentals. A strong website, a company blog, and a social media identity are all crucial to your overall marketing strategy – but they are no longer sufficient means for connecting with your target audiences and offering them the type of care they rightly expect.

Practitioners and digital health marketers that want to get serious about growth need to explore additional approaches that better reflect the changing nature of patient search behavior and, as a result, drive tangible growth. Here are three strategies that are proven to do just that, together with questions to ask yourself to help mobilize action:

1. Reputation Management

Check these facts on local consumer trends uncovered in a Bright Local survey:

  • 91% of 18-34-year-old consumers trust online reviews as much as a friends recommendation
  • 10 is the number of reviews a consumer wants to read before they can trust the business

Clearly, the importance of online reputation management cannot be understated. This is especially true for doctor’s offices, dentists, and specialty care facilities because so much of an individual’s experience is interpersonal. If your patients like your practice, they will be proud to say it on social media and in Google reviews – and this is marketing gold.

The only problem? It’s hard to collect and manage an online reputation. Innovative healthcare marketing companies like PatientPop do the heavy lifting for doctors, collecting feedback and pulling in survey data from patients about their experience. The result is a wealth of valuable review material that increases patient trust and drives booking rates like nothing else can. Doctors that make their digital reputation a priority will see outsized returns; those who neglect will slowly fade into obscurity.

2. Automated Booking Services

While social media is one arm of the technological disruption happening in healthcare services today, the other arm is the automation of tasks. Advancements in app development make it possible for clinics to implement a digital booking platform that can be shared with practitioners and patients, making it easier for patients to book and manage their appointment schedules.

In this new digitally connected relationship, patients can take initiative for their own healthcare needs in the following ways:

  • An ability to book and confirm appointments from their phones
  • Access to medical expertise when needed through a messaging app
  • Enjoy a holistic and customized healthcare experience (as scheduling can be confirmed across multiple providers, at different locations, for reasons that can be specified within the platform)

These benefits increase the likelihood of patient retention, which is one of the most valuable metrics of marketing success for clinics.

3. Focus on Local Search

 Finally, healthcare practitioners need to account for their presence in local search results. Although this might not be as much of a new approach as the others mentioned in this list, I’m including it here because a lot of doctors do not take local search seriously enough.

Consider the research. According to Hubspot, 46% of all Google search has local intent. Going beyond the search engine results page, another study found that 50% of searchers who performed a local search visited the store within the day.

The implication is that getting found in local search can be incredibly lucrative. So what does local search optimization look like for clinics?

Local search is all about capturing local intent – but in order to do that, your clinic needs to appear on the first page, above the competitor. It requires a comprehensive approach to your business identity that includes a keyword strategy, a content marketing plan based on local search intent, optimizing location information on Google Maps, submitting location and business information to local business directories, collecting customer reviews, and more. As healthcare practitioners work out of a physical location, clinics that invest in local search can expect to see long-term growth benefits because they are connecting with a broad local audience of searchers that are often seeking an immediate solution to their healthcare needs.

Taken together, these marketing strategies are proven to help healthcare practitioners better connect with their target audience and grow their patient base. As the digital landscape for healthcare services continues to develop, practitioners need to jump on board with these new approaches or risk wallowing in obscurity.

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The Importance of Digital Marketing for Healthcare Organizations

The Importance of Digital Marketing for Healthcare Organizations | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

When you consider the fact that people often go to search engines as soon as a question or problem arises, you realize the value of search engine optimization and why your medical practice could use it. Factors such as online visibility and having more time to focus on patients are crucial to the growth of a medical practice. Healthcare Internet Marketing – From creating a great website design and experience, to marketing your healthcare company utilizing search engine optimization , Google Adwords, or social media, online marketing is a powerful marketing channel that can amplify your services and reach new potential patients. Now more than ever, we,” as patients, are engaging in questions and answers with search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo, and through our online evolution, healthcare marketing is allowing the Medical Industry to witness a different kind of patient emerge. With our Internet marketing packages for hospitals and healthcare organizations, your website will benefit from increased traffic via rankings in the top search engines, in addition to building authority as a business through the creation of unique content and resources for both patients and other medical professionals.

We offer a wide range of SEO and content management services to help medical practices build better search engine ranking (both locally and globally), while attracting new patients and retaining more existing patients in the process. Finally, as Google and other search engines focus on showing patients search results that include practice websites located close to them, including your Name, Address and Phone number on every page ensures search engines know your local focus. Our healthcare SEO services are designed to bring healthcare websites in top search engine ranking and gain more patients from strong online presence.

It is confirmed that 80% of online users search for healthcare topics online However, medical SEO services can help you rank your site on Google & other search engines. TheeDigital is a digital marketing agency providing search engine optimization (SEO) services for healthcare practices and professionals. We construct a website for your practice, establish an active online presence, build and constantly update social media profiles, help you build stronger connections with patients, streamline the appointment scheduling process, funnel traffic from search engines directly to your website and much more.

You’ll see more new leads, as well as an increased presence in online search engines and web-based directories – meaning that new patients or customers will have an easier time finding your website when they’re searching keywords related to your business. One of the digital marketing tools” that the top healthcare websites are employing is search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines use factors such as links to practice’s website from other websites, listings of your practice on online directories, and reviews on profiles such as Google My Business to determine and validate that a website is reputable.

 

But for the novice digital healthcare marketer that wants to improve their medical SEO acumen, there may be tremendous advantage to having a better understanding of how search engines (especially Google’s) work.

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New study highlights the influence social media has on children's food intake

New study highlights the influence social media has on children's food intake | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

New University of Liverpool research, published in Pediatrics, highlights the negative influence that social media has on children's food intake.

 
Current research shows celebrity endorsement and television advertising of unhealthy foods increases children's intake of these foods. However, children are increasingly exposed to marketing through digital avenues, such as on social media, and the impact of marketing by YouTube video bloggers (vloggers) on these outcomes has, until now, not been known.

According to a recent report by Ofcom children in the UK now access social media more than ever before. Approximately 93% of 8-11-year-olds go online, 77% use YouTube and 18% have a social media account. In older children (12-15-year-olds), 99% go online, 89% use YouTube and 69% have a social media account. Both age groups watch YouTube vloggers.

Vloggers' influence

Ph.D. student Anna Coates, from the University's Appetite and Obesity research group, conducted a study to examine the effect of social media marketing of snack foods (healthy and unhealthy), via vloggers' Instagram pages, on children's snack intake.

During the study 176 children, aged between 9 and 11 years, were randomly split into three equal groups and were shown artificially created, but realistic, Instagram pages of popular vloggers (each has millions of followers). One group was shown images of the vlogger with unhealthy snacks, the second group was shown images of the vlogger with healthy snacks and the third group was shown images of the vlogger with non-food products. The participants' subsequent intake of snacks (healthy and unhealthy options) were measured.

Children in the group that viewed the unhealthy snack images consumed 32% more kcals from unhealthy snacks specifically and 26% more kcals in total (from healthy and unhealthy snacks) compared with children who saw the non-food images. There was no significant difference in total kcal intake, or healthy snack kcal intake, between children who saw the Instagram profile with healthy images and those who saw the non-food images.

Impactful and exploitative

Of the study Anna Coates, said: "These findings suggest that the marketing of unhealthy foods, via vloggers' Instagram pages, increases children's immediate energy intake. The results are supported by celebrity endorsement data, which show unhealthy food endorsements increase children's unhealthy food intake, but healthy food endorsements have little or no effect on healthy food intake.

"Young people trust vloggers more than celebrities so their endorsements may be even more impactful and exploitative. Tighter restrictions are needed around the digital marketing of unhealthy foods that children are exposed to, and vloggers should not be permitted to promote unhealthy foods to vulnerable young people on social media."

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10 Hashtags You Need to Use if You’re in Healthcare

10 Hashtags You Need to Use if You’re in Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Here’s a fun fact that I may or may not have just made up: the word hashtag is being used 1000% more since the birth of Twitter in 2006. Other social channels have joined the fun with hashtags also being used on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, Vine and others! If your health care facility hasn’t engaged on social media yet, I sure hope you plan to very soon.

Benefits of Hashtagging

Hashtags are a great way to build your digital brand. It makes topics and conversations you start or join easier for the audience to find and engage with. Joining an already trending topic is a great way to get your content and brand in front of a qualified audience. Starting your own hashtag and seeing great engagement from the audience--or even having it become a trending topic--lets you know the quality of your audience and brand awareness.

Search engines (Google in particular) are beginning to incorporate hashtags more within the search engine results pages. So now using hashtags within your social copy can place your content higher and even link back to your website on more results pages.

New to Twitter? Here’s a Refresher on Hashtags!

  • Place the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase in the tweet to categorize that Tweet and help the audience find similar content within the Twitter search.
  • By clicking on a hashtag in any message, it’ll show you all other tweets marked with that keyword.
  • Hashtags can be placed anywhere within the tweet. Feel free to place in the beginning, middle or end. My tip is, if your hashtagged keyword isn’t naturally within the copy, then place the hashtag at the end.
  • Hashtags that become very popular are considered Trending Topics.

Now that you know the benefits of using Hashtags and have some best practices, let’s take a look at some of the most popular hashtags within the healthcare industry.

10 GREAT HASHTAGS TO USE IF YOU’RE IN HEALTHCARE

  • #DigitalHealth
  • #FOAMed (Free open access meducaton)
  • #mhealth (mobile health)
  • #hcsm (healthcare social media)
  • #MedEd (Medical Education)
  • #HealthTalk
  • #doctors20 (How Doctors are Usng Social Media and Web 2.0 Tools)
  • #4patients
  • #HCR (Health Care Reform)
  • #Hitsm (Health Care IT Social Media)

These suggestions are a great place to join an already trending conversation and engage with the audience. Share your knowledge and links to your website, where they can learn more. Half of the work is done already, now go get started! #GoodLuck

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Who Are Nanoinflouencers & Why Your Practice Needs Them!

Who Are Nanoinflouencers & Why Your Practice Needs Them! | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

When you put a name to a trend it can suddenly go viral. Take the concept of the Nanoinfluencer, for example. A recent New York Times article talked about the latest marketing scheme that companies have become queued into. Incentivizing everyday people with high engagement on social media to help reach their network of friends and relatives, something we’ve been talking about for years.

What’s old is new again

On social media the concept of finding influencers to help peddle your wares has been around forever. This is where advertisers reach out to people with millions of followers and hire them to talk about their products. The idea is that if these trendsetters are identifying with your company on social, your brand will benefit from the boost. If it sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Celebrity endorsements have been around almost since the beginning of the modern ad age.

The problem is that social media Influencers – like celebrities – are expensive and selective in who they will endorse. So marketers tried to find people who were a little lower on the social media ladder, people with thousands, not millions of followers. They were called Microinfluencers. This worked for a while. Now, marketers want to make use of people who are popular in their networks but without the huge reach of other influencers – people who may only have hundreds of followers but who have high engagement within their little corner of the social media universe.

Sound familiar?

If you’ve read our blog, heard us speak, or read one of our bylined articles in the top orthodontic industry magazines, then you know that one of the pillars of a good digital marketing program is to engage with people who are the neighbors and friends of your current patients so they can become aware of your services. That’s right, people on Facebook who have a few hundred friends have always been our clients’ target influencers on social media. So you can say that we have been in the practice of finding and connecting with Nanoinfluencers for our clients’ practices from day one.

Nanoinfluencer marketing is not rocket science, it’s common sense.

In study after study, people have already expressed that they trust their peers as much or more than an expert. So if you can get a patient to become a brand champion of your practice or sharing the content that you put out there then you’re marketing program is making good use of the Nanoinfluencers in your community. Remember, more and more people are going to social media first when researching where to take their business. You need to make sure you engage with your community’s Nanoinfluencers to reach more people and convert more patients.

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Diabulimia patients to be given NHS social media therapy

Diabulimia patients to be given NHS social media therapy | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

NHS patients with a rare eating disorder will be offered therapy to combat the damaging effects of social media.

A new service, including coaching on how to cope with body images promoted online, will be offered to people with diabulimia, NHS England said.

The condition affects people with Type 1 diabetes, who restrict their insulin intake in order to lose weight.

Diabulimia is not medically recognised as an eating disorder, but can lead to complications including blindness and amputations.

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

These pilots are another important step forward but the fact is the NHS can’t do it all

Claire Murdoch, NHS England

 

It is thought to affect as many as two in five women with Type 1 diabetes and one in 10 men with the condition at some point, and is most common among people aged 15 to 30, according to Diabetes UK.

The condition is “often well hidden” by those living with it and “difficult to spot”, the charity said.

“Diabulimia is a serious eating disorder which – without the right clinical and mental health support – can have devastating consequences, such as stroke, kidney failure and blindness,” Libby Dowling, senior clinical adviser of Diabetes UK, said.

“It can also be fatal.”

She added: “These pilots are so important and we hope their success will inspire even more investment across England.”

 

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

Diabetes UK
 
@DiabetesUK
 
 

We're raising awareness of #diabulimia this month. If you're a healthcare professional, knowing how to support your patients when they show signs of an eating disorder can make a big impact. Read our tips and ideas now: http://ow.ly/4XuS50jooyI  @kcldpsych

 
See Diabetes UK's other Tweets
 
 

NHS England said the service, which will offer joined-up treatment for diabetes and mental health in London and the South Coast, comes amid growing awareness about the condition.

Patients referred will be offered daily structured meal plans and support to manage their insulin intake, as well as therapy.

A trial will begin later this year and be rolled out more widely if successful.

“Body image pressure is helping to drive ever increasing numbers of young people to the health service for treatment and support and while diabulimia is rare it can be just as deadly as other more common eating disorders,” Claire Murdoch, national director for mental health at NHS England, said.

“These pilots are another important step forward but the fact is the NHS can’t do it all – wider society needs take a long hard look what more we can do together to protect young people’s well being.”

Dr Dasha Nicholls, chairwoman of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ eating disorders faculty, said: “Because diabetes forces you to focus on what you eat, it is not unusual for that to get tangled up with feelings about food, weight and body image.

“But in the case of diabetes, that can become dangerous very quickly because of the impact on blood sugar levels.

“The development of a new service which helps people with this worrying condition is extremely welcome.”

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Physicians who don't play the social media game may be left behind

Physicians who don't play the social media game may be left behind | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

The internet truly is a wondrous invention.

It has evened the playing field with a wide swath of people now having access to information that used to be possessed in the hands of only the elite few not too long ago.

 
However, as with most things, there can be downsides associated with any tool of progress.

Yelp

 

Yelp is a powerful social tool that allows individuals to share experiences, good or bad, so that the masses can glean useful tidbits on a particular establishment.

Great Yelp reviews, especially from the so-called, “social influencers,” can drive a large amount of traffic to a restaurant for example.

 

Scathing Yelp reviews can, conversely, have owners hearing crickets when their doors are open.

I admit that I have had Yelp reviews influence my decision on where to eat many a time, especially if I am in an unfamiliar place.
However, hijacking a line from Uncle Ben in Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

And unfortunately, this unchecked power wielded by everyday citizens can indeed tarnish the original noble intent.

 

There are instances of business owners getting extorted with the threats of false negative reviews on Yelp.

Other patrons have threatened restaurants with negative reviews if not seated promptly.

“That’s great, Xrayvsn. But what does this have to do with medicine?”

 

That is a fair question, indeed.

I only have a two-word response: Press Ganey.

For the uninitiated, Press Ganey is a company that has created a survey aimed toward patients so that they can rate their health care experience.

Much like Yelp, patients can essentially grade their physicians for each encounter they have with the medical system.

The premise behind this survey is to create transparency in a business that typically shield’s itself from a consumer’s prying eyes and holds the medical professionals accountable.

The main issue at hand is that these patient survey scores have an impact on the reimbursement formulas that the payors use to compensate physicians.

Have a low enough score for patient satisfaction, and your wallet will feel the impact as you will be getting less money for a patient encounter that someone who has a higher score would.

Afraid a patient seeking pain medications would leave a scathing review if you do not cave in and prescribe them?

No worries.

Just prescribe what the patient wants, and you can be assured of a 5-star rating.

And if you refuse?

Then you could suffer the wrath of an angry patient.

Doing what is right and justified in medicine may incur financial and reputation penalties for the physician if the patient feels he or she is being under-treated according to whatever online source they might have stumbled upon.

And like the Yelp examples above, this may unwittingly create medical practices that do more harm than good.

There is also the potential for survey bias.

What do I mean?

We have all seen vehicles in front of us with the “How’s My Driving? Call XXX-XXX-XXXX” sticker.

Question: How many of us have called that number to report the driver is doing a good job?

Now if that driver flips the bird at you while cutting you off in traffic would you be more inclined to call that number?

I know I sure would.

Patients who have received bad medical care, perceived or otherwise, are more likely to vent their frustrations on the survey while patients who have exemplary or even just standard care may forgo answering the survey altogether.

[As an aside I would like to tell of the following experience that drives home this point:

In my commute to work, after some recent construction work had been going on, I noticed that there happened to be a stretch of interstate where some pretty severe potholes had developed for a period of two to three miles.

Even worse, these potholes would line up at the border between the fast and slow lanes so an unsuspecting driver who happens to change lanes would get a rude awakening.

I called the department of transportation hotline, spoke with an actual person and voiced my concern.

The very next day, I was amazed that every single pothole had been filled.
I called the same hotline and spoke with a representative remarking what a fantastic job they have done and how quickly the turnaround was.

Her response was, “Wow. We always get complaints. You are the first person I can remember that called to give praise.”

Social media platforms

In addition to patient satisfaction survey scores, today’s physicians have other issues to contend with that their older counterparts never had to deal with in the past.

As social media platforms continue to gain dominance over the internet, a side effect that modern-day physicians face is more to do with the appearance of high-quality care rather than delivering high-quality care.

Physicians who have embraced this social media movement have taken to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to promote themselves.

At the same time, potentially more experienced physicians who do not “play the social game” may fall by the wayside as potential patients choose their more celebrity counterparts.

Would you rather be operated on by the famous Dr. Oz or someone who is not famous in the media?

Patients automatically equating celebrity to mean the best may indeed be setting a bad precedent.

It gives a new meaning to the term “socialized medicine.”

Xrayvsn” is a radiologist and can be reached at his self-titled site, XRAYVSN.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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How social media can influence patients and the health care community

How social media can influence patients and the health care community | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

It seems that social media has begun influencing more and more of our lives and opinions since its conception. Some generations are enjoying new technology that wasn’t around or was less efficient when they were kids while others are taking advantage of what they’ve always had. In fact, a recent survey showed that about two-thirds of consumers get at least some of their news through social media, though just over half expect the news to be inaccurate.1 Lately, social media has also impacted how a patient views their healthcare and medicines, due to reviews from other patients and how healthcare practices present themselves.

Social patients

Social media savvy patients can influence prospective ones both positively and negatively. On the one hand, they may write a positive review of the facility, secretaries, nurses and doctors which may increase the likelihood of their friends finding care at the same place.2 On the other hand, the review could be negative and reflect poorly on the healthcare personnel and environment. In 2011, it was estimated that 44% of internet users look up information about doctors and other health professionals.3 Social media reviews can influence the decision to make an appointment, or a follow-up appointment depending on the patient’s own experience.

Patients with mental or physical health conditions can also find support groups or others with the same conditions. These support groups have been found to help those with serious mental illness by providing support and hope from others who have improved.4 Peers can also provide feedback about a treatment that worked for them or side effects that they experienced. However, it is important that patients understand that the information found on social media may not be one hundred percent accurate. One way to counteract this is for healthcare providers to become active themselves on social media websites.

 

Social healthcare

Some healthcare institutions have already taken to the web to help improve marketing and to communicate to patients and other facilities. Healthcare teams are appearing on the traditional social media sites as well as some unconventional sites, like blogging websites and message boards.

Social media can be used fairly easily for marketing healthcare services. Of course, companies can advertise services offered and awards received. However, healthcare professionals can also market their services in other ways just by communicating with patients and communicating information. Researchers can post recent research, share reviews, and provide feedback on relevant information.5,6 Patients may then follow a page if they like what they see and be reminded of upcoming appointments or those that need to be scheduled.

Similarly, social media can be useful to monitor illness or even competitors.6 People tend to post if they have been sick, especially if they have been for a long time. Researchers are looking into using social media posts to monitor influenza and predict new outbreaks.7 They can compile the information by following different tags, such as “flu”. This method is still being researched. Additionally, social media may provide a way to compare how competitors are doing and patient reactions to changes.6

Finally, social media may promote engagement in training or education. Newer training programs sometimes include a tag for students to use in social media posts.6 This helps ensure that there is a space for questions to be asked even if the training is not in a classroom setting. These tags also help engage students in the conversations and encourage interaction with other students who are learning the same thing.

Social media has a variety of uses for both patients and personnel that can affect a practice in a positive way. Patients can find reviews of physicians that they are considering seeing and find support for different conditions they have. Meanwhile, healthcare providers can market to those same patient and conduct research about trends in different areas of the world. Trainers and professors may be able to engage their students using social media tags, while also connecting them with students in similar situations. Overall, social media provides a way to shape the views of its users.

References

1. Katerina Eva Matsa and Elisa Shearer. “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2018: Most Americans continue to get news on social media, even though many have concerns about its accuracy.” Pew Research Center. 10 September 2018. Web. 12 February 2019. <http://www.journalism.org/2018/09/10/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2018/>.

2. Andrew Arnold. “How Social Media Usage Affects Doctor to Patient Relationships.” Forbes. 7 November 2018. Web. 11 February 2019. <https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewarnold/2018/11/07/how-social-media-usage-affects-doctor-to-patient-relationships/#2e0891965d3c>.

3. Susannah Fox. “Health Topics.” Pew Research Center. 1 February 2011. Web. 13 February 2019. <http://www.pewinternet.org/2011/02/01/health-topics-3/>.

4. J. A. Naslund, et al. “The future of mental health care: peer-to-peer support and social media.” 8 January 2016. Web. 13 February 2019. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4830464/>.

5. Andrew Arnold. “Can Social Media Have A Positive Impact on Global Healthcare?” Forbes. 5 June 2018. Web. 11 February 2019. <https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewarnold/2018/06/05/can-social-media-have-a-positive-impact-on-global-healthcare/#56fe6eb318a0>.

6. Jeff Parke. “Take two and Tweet me in the Morning: How Social Media is Reshaping Health Care.” Applied Clinical Trials. 11 June 2018. Web. 11 February 2019. <http://www.appliedclinicaltrialsonline.com/take-two-and-tweet-me-morning-how-social-media-reshaping-health-care>.

7. “Social media data could transform public health, new book says.” University of Colorado – Boulder: College of Media, Communication and Information. 9 November 2017. Web. 13 February 2019. <https://www.colorado.edu/cmci/2017/11/09/social-media-data-could-transform-public-health-new-book-says>.

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12 Reviews Sites Doctors, Hospitals, and Healthcare Marketers Need to Track

12 Reviews Sites Doctors, Hospitals, and Healthcare Marketers Need to Track | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

In 2018, online reviews influenced 66.3 percent of consumers when they were looking for a new primary care physician, which is the second-highest influence of any industry.

More than ever, patients are visiting multiple websites to find a new healthcare provider, and reviews are influencing their decisions.

Healthcare Review Site Statistics

Before we look at which sites you should be monitoring, here are some interesting numbers worth considering:

  • A staggering 94 percent of Internet users who have visited a doctor reviews site consider the reviews useful. (Institute for Healthcare Policy, 2014)
  • 85 percent of patients are not comfortable choosing a physician if more than 10 percent of that physician’s reviews have a one-star rating. (Digital Assent, 2013)
  • About 1 out of 3 patients use either industry-specific medical review sites or more general consumer review sites as tools for finding doctors or healthcare providers. (American Osteopathic Association, 2014)
  • 47 percent of patients who look up a physician online feels differently about that physician after reading his or her profile and reviews. (Vitals, 2013)

By claiming a listing on major healthcare review sites, healthcare organizations can increase their online visibility, review volume, and patient acquisition. Here are the 12 sites where a listing can attract more patients.

1. Yelp 

Yelp is commonly known for its restaurant listings and reviews, but the idea came about because co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman was sick and found out that it was difficult to find any doctors in his area. Today, the popular site features more than 171 million reviews, and reviews on healthcare organizations account for eight percent, or more than 13 million, reviews.

You can claim a listing by signing up on the Yelp for Business Owners page. First-time Yelp listing owners should also take a look at our comprehensive Yelp business guide.  

2. Healthgrades

Along with Yelp, Healthgrades ranks as today’s most trusted site for online reviews and ratings of doctors, dentists, and hospitals. The site lets users browse and find specialists by location, by specialty, by condition, and by procedure. All in all, Healthgrades features over 1.1 million provider listings and seven million reviews and ratings.

You can learn to claim and update your free profile on Healthgrades with our short, yet detailed guide.

The site also has advertising programs for providers looking to promote their practice. If you’re managing or marketing a hospital or some other healthcare facility, you can also check out Healthgrades’ solutions suite to drive growth, increase engagement, and improve quality and clinical performance.

3. Vitals

Another leading resource for healthcare reviews and information is Vitals, which features over 1 million physician profiles, 165,000 facility listings, and more than 9 million reviews and ratings. Vitals’ database allows users to search by specialty, name, location, condition, and insurance.

You can claim a Vitals listing by following the directions on the site’s signup page. On the listing, you can manage and edit information, including display name, practice address, specialties and expertise, and education and awards.

4. Wellness.com

In addition to healthcare listings, Wellness.com features multiple resources for all kinds of health and medical information in the form of wellness blogs and interactive visitor surveys. Listings include including ratings, reviews, accepted forms insurance, certifications, and more.

You can get listed on Wellness.com by enrolling in the site’s Wellness Provider Program. There are three tiers within the program, and they all include the ability to create a listing. However, the mid- and high-tier packages include other benefits such as additional exposure on “major search engines” and listing placement on competitor profiles.

For more information, check out the Wellness.com Business FAQ Page.

5. Google My Business

Google is the world’s biggest search engine, and it has also quickly become one of the most powerful local business discovery engines on the Web – thanks to services like Google Maps and Google Search. Survey data shows that Google holds 57.5 percent of all reviews, which is further proof that a Google My Business listing is absolutely necessary.

To create or edit your restaurant listing on Google, visit the Google My Business page. You can also check ReviewTrackers’ guide on how to claim your listing via Google My Business.

6. ZocDoc

ZocDoc offers a platform for booking appointments instantly. The site features doctor reviews, office addresses, and open appointment times. Patients can even use it to fill out basic forms that are typically part of the waiting room experience. It also has a free mobile app to help patients find and book appointments with doctors using their mobile devices.

To claim and manage your listing on ZocDoc – as well as enable instant online bookings and build positive reviews – go to the site’s “Getting Started” page.

7. RateMDs

RateMDs is home to over 2.5 million doctor ratings and 1 million reviews along with current health trends coverage and medical specialties information. It also lists and rates top hospitals and facilities across the US based on review information such as cleanliness and value. For individual providers, reviewers can provide ratings based on punctuality, staff, helpfulness, and overall knowledge.

Doctors and healthcare providers can claim their listings by clicking on the “Claim Doctor Profile” on the top right of the site’s home page.

8. Dr. Oogle

Dr. Oogle specializes in dentist listings and reviews. Each listing also includes a list of the most used keywords from reviewers, office hours, coupons, and photos and videos. Reviewers can leave text feedback and an overall rating. However, they can also rate the experience based on multiple factors such as results, cost, and hygiene.

Those who want to claim a listing can do so with their email address, Facebook profile, or Google profile.

9. Doctor.com

Doctor.com is a platform that lets you tap into multiple healthcare networks on the Web, and it covers an audience of about 30 million people each month on popular review sites, like Google, Yelp, Bing, Vitals, and Healthline. However, it also features listings on its own site.

Signing up for Doctor.com gives you visibility on the sites across its network, as well as access to review generation tools, your practice’s own Showcase Page, and experienced practice consultants. Each profile can include a provider’s information on training, certification, hours, accepted insurance plans, and payment options.

10. RealPatientRatings

RealPatientRatings owns one of the largest databases of verified plastic surgery patient reviews. The reviews generated by the site all come from a survey completed by real patients who have completed a qualified visit to a doctor’s office. Currently, the site features over 189,000 verified reviews. Site visitors can filter reviews by provider or a specific treatment.

Surgeons can sign up for RealPatientRatings by visiting Vizium360, which created the RealPatientRatings platform.

11. RealSelf

Another site specializing in cosmetic treatments is RealSelf, which has over 20,000 physician listings and 9.9 million consumers that visit the site every month. Patients can find a provider through the site’s “Treatment Finder” tool.

Providers can include multiple elements on their listing such as deals, links to third-party sites, and a Q&A section. Those interested in a listing can go to the site’s claiming page and enter information about their board certification, name, email address, and website.

12. UCompareHealthCare

UCompareHealthCare allows users to search for doctors, medical professionals, hospitals, and nursing homes by location, specialty, or doctor name. The site offers highly comprehensive comparisons of healthcare providers based on data available from federal and state government agencies and multiple third-party sources. Chances are that your practice is already listed on the site, but if you would like to add your listing, contact the UCompareHealthCare team.       

Best Practices for Maintaining a Healthy Listing

Once you’ve created or claimed your listing, you can follow these best practices in managing your online reputation.

  • Update your information. Always ensure that the information in your listing is up-to-date, accurate, and complete. Incorrect listings set up a bad first impression to patients, and it might convince them to look for another provider.
  • Respond to reviews. On sites where you can, respond to what patients are saying about your practice. This allows you to minimize the impact of a negative review or reinforce the great user experience detailed in a positive review. More importantly, this helps build patient engagement. However, make sure that responses are HIPAA-compliant to avoid financial penalties.
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What about https://top-doctors.us/
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#Success? 7 ways Twitter can help you thrive in medical school

#Success? 7 ways Twitter can help you thrive in medical school | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Many medical students have grown up on social media, but the hazards of using it unprofessionally are numerous and can be grave, including expulsion. Still, a recent study shows the use of Twitter in particular can produce positive educational and career development results. The authors identify the practices of medical school “superusers,” which demonstrate benefits in two main domains: access and voice. 

The study, “A Digital Ethnography of Medical Students who Use Twitter for Professional Development,” was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Researchers examined 31 U.S. medical student “superusers” of Twitter—split nearly evenly among men and women and representing all regions of the U.S. and all years of medical school—over eight months. Each was selected for having posted professional content, interacted with other medical students and faculty or participated in professional tweet chats. 

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“Medical students who regularly used Twitter as a professional tool were doing so with thoughtfulness and purpose,” wrote the authors, who include Katherine C. Chretien, MD, assistant dean for student affairs at the Washington, D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center. “Twitter allowed them access and voice that supplemented their medical school experience.” 

The AMA Code of Medical Ethics provides additional guidance on social media use, such as Opinion 2.3.2, “Professionalism in the Use of Social Media,” to help physicians weigh a number of considerations when maintaining a presence online. 

Researchers found that Twitter can provide these benefits to medical students. 

Information. Students have access to content experts with whom they otherwise would not connect. This could be by asking questions of, or following, the experts or by participating in tweet chats with them. 

Collaborations. They can connect with medical students with similar interests. 

Different perspectives. Twitter also exposes medical students to varying opinions about health policy, medical education and the medical profession. For many, gaining the patient perspective is invaluable. It also enables them to understand medicine outside of the patient-physician dynamic. 

Communities. Students may find support in the medical school experience on Twitter. This could include support from fellow students, encouragement from faculty and connections with likeminded people. 

Twitter also can give medical student users a platform to pursue these ends. 

Advocacy. Some students use Twitter as a platform for expressing political views and policy positions. It can help them develop their voices and engage with people with differing opinions. 

Control of one’s digital footprint. It enables medical students to craft their online identities in consistent and positive ways. 

Equalization. Twitter can serve as leveling force in the medical hierarchy, giving equal voices to faculty, residents and students. 

Five key practices 

Besides identifying potential benefits of Twitter use, the study also cites the core practices of medical student superusers that give rise to those benefits. As a rule, these users: 

  • Are purposeful in their use of Twitter. 
  • Maintain professional demeanor. 
  • Show personality by posting more than just medical content. 
  • Practice good Twitter citizenship by contributing to conversations and observing other etiquette. 
  • Identify faculty role models. 
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Parkinson's Disease Patients Turn to Internet to Manage Their Condition

Parkinson's Disease Patients Turn to Internet to Manage Their Condition | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

“By owning our disease we can then become an asset to others who come after us, as I have attempted to do over the past few years. Not only can we educate each other but our physicians as well by sharing our experiences.”
– Maria De León, ParkinsonsDisease.net

Parkinson’s disease (PD) can have an enormous impact on the lives of patients and their loved ones. As a chronic condition that slowly worsens over time and affects the nervous system, a person’s ability to do everyday tasks is compromised. This makes the condition increasingly difficult for patients and their care partners to manage. PD is unique to each individual and the exact cause is not known, adding to the frustration.

Online communities, like ParkinsonsDisease.net, are designed to illuminate the voices and experiences of people living with PD. They welcome people to connect with each other based on shared experiences, interests or frustrations. These connections and the access they provide to condition-specific content make online resources, as a recent Health Union survey discovered, the perfect complement to receiving vital information from a healthcare provider.

“Parkinson’s Disease In America 2018,” an annual survey conducted by Health Union, recently revealed the experiences and perspectives of more than 1,600 patients and care partners who are impacted by PD. The survey shows patients turned to PD-specific websites nearly as much as their doctor (62% vs. 65%, respectively) to learn about or manage their condition. Care partners are leveraging the web as well, with 63% saying they use both internet search and PD-specific websites for information.

PD patients want to better understand their condition, as three in five patient respondents said they play an active role in their PD treatment decisions. Additionally, 42% said they actively seek out information about the latest PD medications. Although there is much about PD that is uncontrollable, taking an active role in treatment can provide a sense of control and help people with PD live their lives to the fullest.

By providing opportunities for support and connection, PD-specific websites can help to make a PD diagnosis seem less frightening and overwhelming. Dedicated websites, like ParkinsonsDisease.net, offer an avenue for patients and care partners to connect with each other and share personal experiences, perspectives, expertise, frustrations and day-to-day challenges.

Online communities and support groups via PD-specific websites or social media are a wonderful way to find others who can relate to what a patient or care partner is going through. One “Parkinson’s Disease In America 2018” respondent even commented, “I feel a support group is essential for information and socialization.”

ParkinsonsDisease.net offers a safe place for learning, connection and validation. And, as patients and care partners are nearly as likely to seek out information from PD-specific websites as from their doctor, the power and benefit of online resources for both education and support are clear.

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Google searches could be used to predict emergency room visits

Google searches could be used to predict emergency room visits | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

There's a lot you can learn about a person by monitoring their Google searches, especially when it comes to their health.

That's according to a new study published in the journal BMJ Openfrom researchers at Penn Medicine, which found that in the week before an emergency room visit, patients conduct nearly three times as many health-related searches, or 16 percent of their total. Google has previously disclosed that about 1 in 20 searches, or 5 percent, are for health information.

Penn Medicine was able to access this data by asking about 300 patients with a Google account to share their search histories and health records with researchers. About half of the people who were approached to participate in the study between 2016 and 2017 consented, and 103 of them met the criteria. Each of the participants presented tens of thousands of searches to the researchers around the medical event.

 

The research is still early, but the team behind it sees a lot of potential in using data like this to figure out who's likely to get sick, so hospitals can better prepare for them.

"This might help us anticipate the demand of patients entering the hospital," said Penn Medicine's Jeremy Asch, one of the researchers involved with the study. Asch said that about 15 percent of people searched for the nearest emergency department or the hours and location, and people often searched for health-related terms on several occasions before going to the hospital.

The researchers also noticed some communication gaps by comparing the Google searches to the notes in the patient's medical record.

For instance, one patient who searched, "how big is a walnut?" and "what is a fibrous tumor?" The researchers said that the patient had been informed by a doctor that she had a fibrous tumor the size of a walnut. She apparently didn't understand her condition, and she had to turn to Google to look it up.

The researchers said studies like these involve extremely sensitive and private information, so it's important that patients fully understand what they're consenting to. For that reason, a company like Google might not have success with this kind of study, as it requires patients to trust that the information won't be accessed by third parties, including advertisers.

So far, Google has focused instead on population health trends rather than in analyzing the behavior of individuals. For instance, it has a partnership with hospitals such as Stanford and University of California San Francisco to aggregate millions of patient records and figure out who's likely to get sick.

"When we do this kind of work, we make sure that we do it in a patient-centered way" said Raina Merchant, who's involved with the research and is an associate professor of Emergency Medicine. "We really took into account that this was very personal and private, so we had to communicate this clearly with patients."

Merchant was also involved in another study of social media data, which found that the content people share on Facebook can predict a future occurrence of depression.

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Will increased scrutiny on digital advertising help drive innovation in healthcare marketing?

Traditional digital advertising needs some shaking up, and increased scrutiny just may be the impetus to make that happen, says Lou Iovino, president o
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UK Health Service Chief Says 'Fake News' on Social Media Contributes to Increase in Measles Cases

UK Health Service Chief Says 'Fake News' on Social Media Contributes to Increase in Measles Cases | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

NHS England chief Simon Stevens is among the many officials publicly addressing the wave of social media campaigns spreading dangerousmisinformation about vaccinations amid ongoing preventable outbreaks.

Speaking at a health summit on Friday, Stevens cited YouTube as well as Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp as among the platforms on which anti-vaxxers are spreading what he said was “fake news” about vaccines, CNN reported Saturday. Stevens said that England “saw more than triple the number of measles cases” than it did during the year prior and “despite the fact that clearly, vaccination works,” per CNN:

Stevens said discussions within the health body have focused on how to stem the spread of anti-vaccination ideas on Instagram and YouTube, and referred to a parent at his daughter’s primary school who had used WhatsApp to express concern about children’s immune systems being “loaded up” with vaccines.

 
 

Like England, the United States is currently battling its own measles crisis that health officials and politicians have attributed in part to misinformation on social media. Last week, YouTube pulled ads from anti-vaccination videos following a report from BuzzFeed News on the problem and amid backlash from advertisers. The Google-owned platform told Gizmodo in a statement at the time that it has “strict policies that govern what videos we allow ads to appear on, and videos that promote anti-vaccination content are a violation of those policies.”

On Friday, Representative Adam Schiff in an open letter called on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to put an end to the promotion of anti-vaxxer content on his e-commerce and streaming platform. The site appeared to pull anti-vaccination content from Prime Video and some search results on Friday, though hard copies were still available for purchase.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 159 cases of measles have been confirmed across 10 states from the start of 2019 until Feb. 21, though that number is likely higher given the spike in confirmed cases in Washington state alone since that date. As of Saturday, the state’s Clark County Public Health confirmed 70 cases of measles in the county’s ongoing outbreak. In at least 61 of those cases, the affected individual had not received the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.

“The scientific and medical communities are in overwhelming consensus that vaccines are both effective and safe,” Schiff wrote in his open letter on Friday. “There is no evidence to suggest that vaccines cause life-threatening or disabling disease, and the dissemination of unfounded and debunked theories about the dangers of vaccinations pose a great risk to public health.”

Stevens made similar remarks during the summit, according to CNN. The chief executive said that the situation in England is “not being helped on this front by the fact that although nine in 10 parents support vaccination, half of them say they have seen fake messages about vaccination on social media.”

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Social Medicine: The Effect of Social Media on the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Social Medicine: The Effect of Social Media on the Anti-Vaccine Movement | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it
Worldwide, 13% of parents decide to forgo vaccinating their children, including 17% of parents in the World Health Organization’s European region.3 Although access to health care is an important factor influencing vaccine coverage rates, vaccination refusal also directly affects these rates and is a significant contributor to outbreaks of some infectious diseases—particularly in regions where vaccination refusal is geographically clustered and population immunity is compromised.2 This is exemplified in that outbreaks of pertussis and measles are known to spread through populations where rates of vaccination refusal are high.2 Vaccine hesitancy is a decision-making process that is dependent on trust in healthcare providers and mainstream medicine, among other variables.
However, through the combination of homophily—a theory that asserts individuals tend to form connections with others who are similar to them in characteristics such as socioeconomic status, values, beliefs, or attitudes—and the convenience of social media, individuals who have anti-vaccine beliefs can consume information that adheres to their system of beliefs and ignore dissenting information.4 Many members of the medical and scientific communities believe that vaccine hesitancy is a major threat to global health, and since 2013, the World Economic Forum has listed digital misinformation among the main threats to our society.4 Social media platforms have created a direct path for users to produce and consume content, reshaping the way people receive information.
In addition, images of sick children increased belief in a vaccine-autism link, while the measles narrative increased beliefs in vaccine side effects.
These sentiments have been compounded in recent years by decreased trust in the institutions that manufacture or distribute vaccines.1 The effect of vaccination refusal on public health is particularly challenging when misinformation is disseminated through social media.
There are ways to leverage social media to reinforce positive sentiments about the value of vaccination: Ongoing surveillance of opinions about vaccination on social media can complement surveys and other monitoring methods to improve the reach of and response to public health communication strategies.2 To research ways to counter anti-vaccination thinking, public health professionals should understand the content of anti-vaccination echo chambers through passive involvement in those groups.4 Delayed vaccination can signal a need for more information, presenting an opportunity to increase education for this group.1 Social media, while fertile ground for activity for anti-vaccine activists, also can provide a platform for understanding the motivations behind vaccine hesitancy and refusal.
The immediacy and informal nature of social media gives thought leaders a marked advantage in communicating with and influencing the public.
In an era when more than 2.3 billion people in 232 countries are active on social media,7 the public health community can correct misinformation by establishing its own social media communities and leveraging established channels to provide facts about the safety and value of vaccines.
doi: 10.1128/jmbe.v19i1.1500 Schmidt AL, Zollo F, Scala A, Betsch C, Quattrociocchi W. Polarization of the vaccination debate on Facebook [published online June 14, 2018].
Vaccine.
doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.05.040 Smith N, Graham T. Mapping the anti-vaccination movement on Facebook [published online December 27, 2017].
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Healthcare SEO: The Ultimate Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Healthcare SEO: The Ultimate Guide to Search Engine Optimization | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

A successful hospital, practice, or healthcare organization website facilitates patient communication and helps you win more of the patients you want. But this means little if patients can’t find your website online. To get on page 1 of an online search, you’ll want a strong website, but an even stronger healthcare SEO strategy.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and refers to the art and science of rising to the top of organic search results on Google and other major search engines. A strong healthcare SEO strategy requires an investment of time, money, or both, in order to get your website found on page 1 of these search engines.

Changing Rules and Algorithms for Healthcare SEO

By employing the right techniques and by avoiding black hat SEO, you can achieve higher search engine rankings for your healthcare practice. Black hat SEO refers to using “secret tricks” to get pages to the top of Google and other major search engines. The problem with this is, Google’s algorithms are continuously changing, and they’ve taken measures to thwart these black hat SEO methods, penalizing healthcare practitioners who attempt them.

If you’re ever approached by an SEO “professional” making promises for “quick results” that sound too good to be true, they probably are too good to be true. Healthcare SEO is a long-term strategy involving 3 specific techniques.

Related: Search Engine Optimization for Healthcare Businesses

1. On-Site SEO Techniques

On-site, or on-page SEO refers to the code, images, and words that make up your website. From the type of content you have on your site to its loading speed and mobile responsiveness, there are a variety of factors that impact this.

Title Tags

These are an HTML (coding) element within the backend of your site that specifies the titles of your web pages. This is what’s displayed on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) as the clickable headline for a given search result.

Description Tags

These show up just beneath the title tags in SERPs, and are comprised of a 160 character or less description that summarizes the web page’s content.

Site Speed

Also called page speed, this is a measurement of how fast your web pages load, which is an important algorithm for Google to determine where your page will show up in SERPs.

Mobile Responsiveness

Your website content should display in a way that is mobile-device friendly. With more and more customers going mobile and searching for hospitals and practices “near me,”, this is a vital part of your SEO strategy.

A responsive design adapts to different screen sizes.

Keyword Meta Tags

These aren’t visible to online visitors but are visible to search engines. Your keywords determine what you want to be found for in SERPs.

Alt Tags

An alt tag is an HTML attribute that’s applied to image tags, which provide a text alternative for search engines.

H1’s and H2’s

These are called header tags, and are an important on-page SEO factor. They’re used to communicate to search engines what your website is actually about.

Anchor Text Links

Anchor text is the clickable text within a hyperlink in your content. SEO best practices indicate that your anchor text should be relevant to the page you’re linking to.

Bold, Italics

Google bots tend to like bold and italic formatting for text, as it emphasizeswhat should stand out, helping Google crawlers determine what’s relevant.

Footer

How you optimize the footer menu of your website further identifies to Google your site’s relevance on SERPs.

Sitemaps

  • XML for search engines: XML stands for Extensible Markup Language, and is similar in context to HTML. An XML sitemap is an invitation for search engines to crawl the URLs that are listed within that sitemap.
  • Visible for user experience: A visible sitemap that your site visitors can see is vital for good SEO practices.

Changing Content

Updating old content will help increase the effectiveness of your SEO efforts and boost your overall search engine traffic.

2. Off-Site SEO Techniques

Websites that are linked to by other relevant healthcare-related websites are seen as “more important” to Google than sites without any of these backlinks. You want these backlinks to be relevant because it gives your web pages authority and credibility when it comes to search engine results. You should aim to get backlinks pointing to your website from the following “off-site” sources:

Press Releases

Press releases serve as a way for your practice to let journalists and major healthcare publications know about big events such as winning an award or launching a new product or service.

Directories

Directories are how existing and new patients find your practice, and play a role in SEO as well. Ranking factors include where and how often practices are listed in directories, as well as consistency across those directories–more on that below!

Blogs and Articles

Blog content and online articles are good for SEO because they help position your website as a relevant answer to your customers’ questions.

An example of a backlink we earned in Forbes.

Social Media

There is some debate as to what extent social media impacts SEO, but most SEO experts will agree that a higher number of likes and follows on social media pages, especially Facebook, increases the relevancy of your site and its opportunity to appear on page 1 of Google.

Reputation Management

The average consumer reads 7 reviews before deciding to trust a business. You should try to respond to both negative and positive reviews, but avoid HIPAA violations. Your responses should never disclose a patient’s identity.

3. Local SEO Off-Site Techniques

Local SEO, or local search, is the process of optimizing your site to generate traffic from location-based searching. When you work with an SEO expert, you’ll be introduced to the concept of the Google Map Pack, also called a carousel.

This is a grouping of similar businesses in the map that shows up near the top of the page in a Google search. For example, if a site visitor searched for “Women’s Health” in Los Angeles, CA, they’d be shown a group of businesses that match that description within a mapped area.

Citations

Citations are online references to your healthcare organization’s name, address, and phone number (NAP). Similar to links to your website, Google and other search engines use these when evaluating the online authority of your business.

Directories

We mentioned above consistency within directories. What we mean by this is that dissimilar listings can confuse search engines. For instance, if you’re listed as “Jonathan Smith, MD” on multiple directories, then you shouldn’t be listed as “Dr. John Smith” on others.

If you’re unsure of your directory listings or consistency, there are many affordable online resources available to help you update them.

Some popular healthcare-specific directories include:

  • YP.com
  • HealthGrades
  • RateMDs
  • Specialty sites like VeinDirectory.org
  • Manta
  • RealSelf
  • AMA Doctor Finder
  • CMS Physician Compare
  • Castle Connolly Top Doctors

Online Review Sites

Would you believe that the most trusted consumer rating websites are Facebook and Yelp? As part of your reputation management,  it’s imperative that you keep a pulse on what’s being said about your practice on these sites, and respond accordingly. Other consumer rating websites include:

  • Google
  • BBB.org
  • ZocDoc
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More millennials are getting plastic surgery, driven by social media and jobs 

More millennials are getting plastic surgery, driven by social media and jobs  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

More millennials are getting plastic surgery, driven by the pressures of social media and the desire to stand out in the job market. 

Jamie Mysel, 23, always disliked her nose, but said that if it hadn't been for a photograph of herself that surfaced on Facebook, she might just have continued to put up with it. 

"My boss posted a candid picture of me and all I saw was a giant triangle, like this beak sticking out of my face and that was it, I was done," she told CBS MoneyWatch. "For years I had joked about getting a nose job, and after that I finally bit the bullet."

She said social media amplified her insecurities about her appearance because photos that captured her at unflattering angles were available for her -- and everyone else -- to stare at. "I was always critical of how I looked and if it was just taken at the wrong angle the picture was awful to me, and everyone could see it," she said. 

Jamie Mysel, 23, left, in the photo she says led her to finally get a nose job.PROVIDED BY JAMIE MYSEL

Mysel's experience isn't unusual, according to plastic surgeons.Dr. Patrick Byrne, director of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at John Hopkins Medicine, described a troubling pattern of patients referring to photographs of themselves, rather than their actual faces, when asked what they'd like to change about their appearances. 

"Very often, they can't actually show you with a mirror in hand. They have to pull out their phones and show you in a picture. That's a little insane," he said. It's also indicative of the degree to which digital photography dictates millennials' perceptions of themselves, thanks to social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. 

"When you start dealing with young people referencing digital images of their face rather than the image that presents in the mirror in the office, that can be highly concerning that they are seeking surgery for the wrong reasons," Byrne said. 

Edge in the job market

Aside from vanity, some patients may have financial reasons for getting plastic surgery. Some younger workers believe an improvement in their appearance will provide a leg up in the job market.

"Frequently people are looking to be more competitive in an already competitive job market. They want to be able to compete with their own generation and also older people, so they are getting either minor or major procedures to give them an advantage in the workforce," Long Island-based cosmetic surgeon Dr. Stephen Greenberg, who treated Mysel, said.

Remaining youthful

Seven of 10 facial plastic surgeons said they saw an uptick last year in cosmetic surgery procedures and injectable products, which can smooth wrinkles and plump lips, in patients under the age of 30, according to an American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) survey. Just five years earlier, only 5 of 10 plastic surgeons had noticed the trend, the survey said.

"This points to the larger 'pre-juvenation' trend with more and more patients wanting to remain youthful rather than turn back the clock on signs of aging later," said AAFPRS President Phillip R. Langsdon. "Our younger patients are controlling the aging process and taking prevention seriously."

Preventative care

Langsdon said he doesn't treat patients who don't yet show signs of wrinkles. He also contends that the best preventative care happens outside his office. 

"Limiting sun exposure, not smoking cigarettes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and not abusing your body -- those sorts of things are going to keep you looking younger than anything else," he said. 

Millennials increasingly communicate via social media apps such as Instagram and Snapchat, where physical appearance reigns supreme. Some 88 percent of 18- to 29-year olds in 2018 said they were active social media users, according to the Pew Research Center

Greenberg, the Long Island-based plastic surgeon, said he's seen an uptick in selfie-obsessed patients in their twenties and thirties seeking Botox, chemical peels, injectables and laser skin treatments. Millennials tend to shy away from more invasive procedures like face-lifts and breast enhancements, and he said millennial women are more likely to undergo plastic surgery than men, he said. 

"Most millennials are seeking to maintain and extend their youthful appearance rather than shave years and often decades off their looks," Greenberg said. 

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Targeted Social Media Use Could Expand Mesothelioma Knowledge Base

Targeted Social Media Use Could Expand Mesothelioma Knowledge Base | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Technological advances in medicine have provided many victims of malignant mesothelioma with significantly longer survival times. Though the disease remains extremely challenging to treat, improved techniques and earlier detection have combined to the point where some of those diagnosed with the rare and fatal form of cancer are able to live several years beyond the median survival rate of less than two years after diagnosis. As advocates and health care practitioners alike join forces to try to continue this trend, they have identified social media use as an additional tool with tremendous potential. They believe that targeted use of social media can not only enhance awareness of the disease and lead to earlier diagnosis, but also provide those diagnosed with the disease with greater access to the many clinical trials being conducted around the United States and the world.

Greater Awareness of Clinical Trials Can Lead to Improved Treatment

Though malignant mesothelioma is an extremely rare disease diagnosed in less than 3,500 people a year, social media use and advertising on television and radio have brought the disease out of the shadows, making a far greater percentage of the population aware of its causes, as well as its symptoms. This means that more of those who have been exposed to asbestos are aware that they are at risk, and more are seeking earlier diagnosis when symptoms arise. Combining this earlier diagnosis with the strides that oncology researchers have made has meant improved prognosis and quality of life. Clinical trials help contribute to these successes, but the larger trials study for mesothelioma are frequently done using collected data rather than live patients because the patient pool is so small to begin with.  Combining that with the fact that fewer than 5% of cancer patients in the U.S. participate in clinical trials means that the pool is likely to remain small, but social media use could change that.

Patients Seeking Answers Can Be Alerted to Clinical Trials

Mesothelioma researchers are beginning to harness the power of social media to reach out to the mesothelioma community and encourage greater participation in clinical trials. Patients who live outside of the major metropolitan areas where these trials are conducted might not hear about these trials through their physicians, but can be alerted to them via social media platforms, as well as digital notifications on the websites where they are seeking answers to questions about their diseases.

The more information about mesothelioma and its treatment is shared and communicated, the greater the chances of finding a cure. If you need information about clinical trial availability or any other resources that might be available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Thomas George, an oncologist at the University of Florida who headed this mission, said “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.” NRG also prioritizes a patient-centered approach when designing their trials, and works with patient advocates and representatives for all their programs.

This movement to expand direct patient-advertising is encouraging, but more needs to be done. Social media can offer more than just information about trials because of its ability to bring researchers and patients together remotely. Currently, many clinical trials are available only at large cancer hospitals because they have the resources to run, open, and maintain trials. FDA regulations require tremendous oversight at every aspect of trial implementation, which means that small hospitals often can’t afford to enroll patients on trials. If a patient wants to enroll onto a trial, they may be required to discontinue their care at their local hospital. This is a major deterrent for patients to enroll on trials. What if a patient in rural Idaho could be enrolled onto a trial at a major cancer center in NJ? Social media should be used to recreate the framework of trial design, starting with making it easier for patients to enroll remotely. Doing so would ease the burden for physicians and patients to recommend participation in clinical trials, especially at community hospitals and in underserved areas, who don’t have the resources to maintain their own trials.

Enrolling patients onto trials more quickly would free up research dollars to run more trials, such as patient-centered trials uniquely designed by a social media community. This untapped source of volunteers from across the U.S. would be able to participate in trials in unprecedented numbers. Researchers would have open channels of communication with large numbers of patients, who they could pose questions directly to, such as “what kind of trials are you willing to participate in?”

There are real barriers to this proposed social-media driven model. Patient privacy must be protected, which means implementing strict protocols for sharing confidential patient information.  Moreover, the language used to advertise clinical trials is strictly regulated:  the future of social media driven clinical trials cannot include pitches like “Come join our trial to save your life!” Researchers need to obtain informed consent from each trial participant, which is more difficult when done remotely. And, monitoring the day-to-day running of the trial may be cumbersome, due to different physicians’ treatment style, monitoring of side effects, and determination of treatment success or failure. While the above obstacles will necessitate careful attention, the time has some to utilize social media for improving cancer care. Let’s investigate new ways to engage patients, not simply funnel them into our current inadequate paradigm.

The sooner we embrace it, the more lives we can potentially save.

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When It Comes to Social Media, Doctors Are Held to a Higher Standard 

When It Comes to Social Media, Doctors Are Held to a Higher Standard  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

A physician receives a Facebook friend request from a patient they just treated. Unusual? Not really.

Bernadette Riley, D.O., associate professor of family medicine in NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) and director of the Ehlers-Danlos Treatment Center, explains that this is something medical students will face as future physicians.

“Social media platforms increase patients’ access to physicians and often blur the boundary between a physician’s professional and private life,” says Riley, who recently published an article on the professional impact of social media in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Ninety percent of medical students use social media, and a growing number of health care organizations now encourage professionals to have a social media presence. However, as Riley notes, physicians are held to a higher standard. Content posted to social media platforms, as well as dating apps like Tinder, could possibly jeopardize a physician’s professional credibility.

A study of U.S. urology residency graduates found that most of the graduates’ Facebook settings were not private and more than half had posted unprofessional content. This behaviorwas seen equally among osteopathic and allopathic urologists, both male and female.

“Movements like #MeToo are making us more aware of the way we interact with others. A post, text, or comment you shared years ago could potentially impact your ability to secure a residency,” Riley says.

In fact, more than half of U.S. medical school deans report complaints of inappropriate online postings by their medical students. This rise in professionalism complaints has also been observed in the field where many medical organizations have established physician guidelines for social media and social networking sites.

However, there is not yet a mandated standardized curriculum to help medical students fully grasp the consequences of social media usage. Medical students at risk for future professionalism complaints often exhibit red flags early in their medical career, and Riley believes a required online professionalism curriculum could help them to avoid future complaints and potential medical board investigations.

She also reminds medical students that they can still be proactive without a formal lesson, noting that medical students should be aware of privacy settings and set them accordingly, as well as establish boundaries with fellow users.

“If you’ve been tagged in a post that may be deemed inappropriate, don’t be afraid to remove yourself. When in doubt, act as you would in the office.”

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How social media can advance humanism in medicine

How social media can advance humanism in medicine | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or step back into safety.”
– Abraham Maslow.

The New York Times recently published the op-ed “Dr. Google is a Liar,” written by cardiologist Haider Warraich, MD. Dr. Warraich describes the rise of fake medical news and the adverse consequences of a population who gets their medical information from social media. He shares that when countering these cultural memes of medical misinformation, which stir up strong emotions in our patients, stating dry medical jargon is not effective. He found that his patient was more open to his advice when he also shared about his own father’s heart attack. Dr. Warraich wisely argues for physicians to take back control of medical news by harnessing the power of humanism and narrative medicine to become effective storytellers.

 
I wholeheartedly agree with him. Let’s stop burying our heads in the sand and pretending we can convince our patients to resist Dr. Google. Let’s put ourselves back in the driver’s seat. I believe that the next generation of great doctors will be those who communicate on the Internet effectively and in a compelling enough way to sustain an audience and engender trust. In a time when trust in doctors is eroding, our patients want to see that we are human too and to do that we need to overcome our fears of showing our humanity. We know that when doctors and nurses are burnt out, patient outcomes decline. Literature also supports that when doctors display more empathy for their patients, outcomes improve. Humanism in medicine works best when it is a two-way street, wherein our health care system treats both patients and health care workers as human beings.

I believe there’s a natural link between humanism in medicine and social media. While there has been a core group of physicians on social media for the past decade, we are now seeing it become mainstream. Through this increased visibility, physicians are using social media mobilization to organize and to advocate for better patient care and better work conditions. Last November, as a criticism to the American College of Physicians’ position paper describing a public health approach to tackling gun-related deaths, the National Rifle Association tweeted that “self-important anti-gun doctors” should stay in their lane. The medical community swiftly responded with the #ThisIsMyLane campaign, rallying around their first-person, often harrowing accounts, of caring for the gunshot victims in ERs and operating rooms. Dr. Dave Morris, MD, a trauma surgeon in Utah posted a photo of his blood-soaked scrubs and said “Can’t post a patient photo, so this is a selfie. This is what it looks like to #stayinmylane.” The tweets and hashtags went viral, garnering national media attention, and physicians effectively steered the conversation.

 

Leo Eisenstein, a Harvard Medical Student, wrote about this in a New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst piece. He reminds us that the term burnout was coined by a psychologist who was caring for marginalized patients. In today’s broken health care system, clinicians are burdened by the reality that their patients are fighting socioeconomic and structural barriers that “no medicines can touch.” If both physicians and patients feel powerless against these forces, it’s not a big leap to envision physician advocacy as part of the antidote.

 

Part of makes what makes social media appealing is that it allows unheard voices to become public. This is crucial particularly for physicians, with many of us working long hours providing direct face to face patient care, and thus not having the time for community engagement. Social media platforms have become a watering hole of sorts, where it’s okay to share your perspective as a physician. Every Sunday night, @womeninmedchat (run by Dr. Petra Dolman, MD) hosts an hour-long Twitter chat, with guest moderators facilitating conversations ranging from how to negotiate pay, navigating residency interviews, and countering burn out, all searchable under the hashtag #womeninmedicine. The Facebook group SoMeDocs (Social Media Docs), founded by Dr. Dana Corriel, MD, has provided an engaging forum for physicians to discuss a variety of issues related to social media. #SoMeDocs is branching out to in-person live meetups aimed at building community, and advancing shared goals. For example, when Dr. Monique Tello, MD, MPH spoke out in support of vaccinations, she was targeted by anti-vaxxers online. Through the support of #SoMeDocs, Dr. Tello wrote a widely circulated blog post about online harassment and intimidation against doctors and successfully had the fake one-star online reviews removed.

With all of this momentum, it is important to remember that social media is a public space, and it should not be used to share protected health information or sensitive personal material. Some physicians argue that these risks mean we physicians should stay away from social media. However, with the next generation of doctors spending at least a decade of their life on Instagram and Snapchat before medical school, we cannot simply ignore the fact the social media has its own place in health care. Universities have been taking notice and creating positions to legitimize social media. My alma mater, Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia has named Dr. Austin Chiang MD, MPH as their Chief Social Media Officer. Likewise, the newly established Association for Healthcare Social Media aims to create best practices by which all health care professionals can be guided and protected in this emerging field.

I’ve met quite a few physicians who are even just one generation older than I am that are suspicious of social media. To them, it’s extra, and it’s dangerous. I can’t help but wonder if there is an underlying fear that the next generation is going about things differently? It seems there is denial and wishful thinking; as if we can turn back the clock in time and go back to the good old days when physicians could practice medicine without the burdens of out of control billing and EMR demands. My generation has inherited the reigns, and in my opinion, we got into this mess by physicians keeping themselves separate from other industries. Insurance companies took over medicine, and meanwhile, physicians were seeing patients, writing notes and faxing orders. We assumed that if we were providing excellent patient care, the rest would fall in line, and the work would speak for itself. Fast forward, and here we are. Part of what’s gotten us off track in medicine is the dehumanization of patients and doctors. By sharing our stories, we remind the public that we are human too. We have successes and failures, tragedies and triumphs. We are human. I believe that doctors can serve patients, be professional, and make our opinions known. In fact, it’s our duty, and our profession depends on it.

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Pharma comms should forget its social media FOMO and realize that they're the gold standard

Pharma comms should forget its social media FOMO and realize that they're the gold standard | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

You’re not missing out in your use of social media in pharma comms, argues Duncan Arbour.

In fact, for the past 10 years, since Gordon Brown was in Downing Street and George W Bush in the White House, if you looked at the agendas for events like this, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the eternal question keeping us up at night is still: “How can we do social with the freedom of our unregulated peers?”

Pharma marketing seems to have its own sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) that’s even seen a trope emerge at other ‘pharma digital’ conferences of rolling out keynote speakers from other sectors – presented to us as if they’re inspirational relationship coaches for a lovelorn pharma sector desperately trying to match with its audiences. 

But right now there’s never been a better time to re-evaluate who you look to for this coaching. 

Because let’s face it, it’s not Bush in the White House any more is it? 

And the romantic ideal of social media as a sunny utopia seems increasingly out of step in a post-Cambridge Analytica world. 

Look at the bigger picture of consumer marketing trends and you’ll see that right now some of the world’s largest marketing organisations, including Unilever and Procter & Gamble, are demanding higher standards and greater accountability from platforms such as Facebook and Google. 

They’re fed up with ad fraud, fake profiles and the apparent absence of ethics. 

Consumers themselves are also disillusioned. 

For the past few years, reading the annual Edelman Trust Barometer has been like slowing down to look at a car crash, only to realise that the cars are society and we’re all in the back without a seatbelt. 

Trust in social platforms, and even in ‘people like us’, continues to decline; while trust in traditional media is at an historic high. 

In fact, I’d say there’s every chance that in the next few years increased checks and balances, including self-regulation, will become common in other sectors – the brands we may look at enviously now may soon be looking enviously at us instead. 

So, remember that however dizzyingly and distractingly fast the world might be moving right now, it will never move this slowly again. 

There’s never been a better time to slow down and rethink exactly what you want from your social activities, and how to achieve this. 

Importantly, as demonstrated by speakers from companies including Pfizer and Novartis at this month’s PharmaComms, 10 years of resilience and commitment has given our sector some stand-out examples to look to for inspiration. 

These are examples that place a premium not just on technology, but on humanity – on society, culture and values. 

So put aside any feelings of FOMO, put aside the questions of “can we do this?” and celebrate the attention to detail that makes your own sector’s engagements with its audiences so valuable, rather than looking longingly at those in other industries. 

Yours is a sector that now shows clear leadership, and here’s to the next 10 years when it’s those leaders who show the rest of them how relationships should really be done. 

Duncan Arbour is senior vice president of innovation at Syneos Health Communications Europe

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The Positive Side of Negative Patient Reviews

The Positive Side of Negative Patient Reviews | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

an negative patient reviews help you attract more patients?

Why are negative patient reviews considered less harmful?

When and how should you respond to negative reviews?

Most potential patients consider a lot of factors when choosing their healthcare provider, and online reviews rank high on the list. Online patient reviews are more critical than recommendations by friends and family. However, is positive feedback the only beneficial aspect for your medical practice? What if we turn the tables and see negative patient reviews as a blessing in disguise?

According to healthcare marketing experts, even negative publicity can benefit your bottom line. It all depends on whether potential patients are already aware of your products and services. Online reviews make potential patients aware of your offerings that they would otherwise not know about. Considering this, it would be safe to conclude that every online review has a positive impact. The increased attention will help improve product recognition and boost sales volume.
So, what is the real deal with negative patient reviews?

 

Why Are Negative Patient Reviews Considered Good?

Obviously, having only negative reviews of your medical practice or staff is not good for your brand image. You will probably end up out of business sooner or later. However, sometimes positive reviews can also reduce sales. For instance, a review such as “Best doctor!” can reduce your patient volume. “What do you mean?” you might ask.

We all love to hear experiences and stories. And a two-word story does not provide any context. Why is he or she the best doctor? Is it because of availability, or depth of knowledge, or patient-friendly attitude? Maybe the services offered are superb? The review does not tell potential patients anything. How would it encourage a new patient to visit your practice?

Moreover, reviews like “convenient location” make it seem like there was nothing else positive about the entire experience. One-sentence reviews can result in loss of brand reputation, a drop in patient volume and can seriously impact your bottom line.

On the other hand, a detailed and well-written negative review can help increase sales. This is because such reviews provide a specific description of what is wrong with the product or service. In addition, if it is not a key consideration for the potential patient, he or she might end up visiting your practice anyway.

What is your first thought when you see a brand or a product with 100 percent positive reviews or the highest score? Most people get suspicious. According to a study, 95 percent of potential customers are wary of fake reviews if there are no bad reviews. The point is, uniformly posted positive reviews can reduce trust. No one is perfect. Receiving bad feedback, responding to it professionally and not trying to delete or counter it create an impression of frankness and honesty. Most potential patients look for negative online reviews to establish the credibility of a practice and its services. All of this is proven.

According to research by Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center, the likelihood of purchasing a product with five online reviews is 270 percent greater than a product with no online reviews. Here, the nature of online reviews does not matter. Both positive and negative reviews will help increase sales.

If you are wondering if there is a perfect rating or number of online reviews that you should strive for, then the answer is: Yes. The possibility of a potential patient considering your practice or service will peak at star ratings between 4.0 and 4.7 and may decrease in the 4.7 to 5.0 range. Most online searchers consider the highest ratings as too good to be true. In addition, while potential patients interact with negative reviews, they tend to spend more time on your website reading about your services. This gives them more time to get to know your practice. As a result, those potential patients are more likely to convert.

Identifying and Responding to Negative Reviews

You cannot simply leave a negative review on a third-party website and do nothing about it. If you want to benefit from a review, negative or positive, you have to handle it accordingly. Negative online reviews may stay negative forever if you do not respond to them and try to turn them around.

First of all, it is important to be aware of all the reviews. This may sound obvious, but with so many third-party websites and social media platforms, it might be a challenge to keep track. You can consider a social media monitoring tool to help you keep track of online reviews.

So, it has happened: You have received a fresh negative review. In order to make it the secret weapon to attract the attention of potential patients, react to it. According to a study by Review Trackers, 53 percent of people expect businesses to reply to their online reviews within seven days. Timing is extremely important here. The faster you react, the greater the chance you will contain the crisis.

According to findings by Yelp, responding to a negative online review within 24 hours will make that reviewer 33 percent more likely to upgrade his or her review. And if you respond with a personalized message, you may even hit the customer-service jackpot. Responding quickly and professionally to unfavorable reviews will also help you retain your existing patients. It is important to act fast, but that is just the beginning. What should you do next?

Dealing With Negative Reviews

Speed is not the only crucial factor when dealing with negative online reviews. It is also important to:

    • Understand the issues and find the underlying cause.
    • Create a personal connection between yourself and the reviewer. It is a good practice to add the name of the employee responding to all the reviews on social media and third-party sites. This will help your patients know who is handling their concern.
    • Be empathetic. Responding to negative reviews can improve patient advocacy. Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful forms of healthcare marketing.
    • Investigate the problem. If it is your patient’s fault, be polite and do not lose your patience. Explain your point of view and find the middle ground.

Remember this: Most of the time, two types of patients will write negative opinions about your practice or service. The first type are the patients who actually had a problem with your service. You can resolve their problems and turn them into loyal patients. The second types of reviewers are the ones seeking attention or benefits and monetary gain. In such cases, try to fight the trolls by taking the dispute offline. If they are really interested in resolving the issue, they will be happy to take the chat offline.

Appreciate the Reviews – Even Negative Ones

Negative reviews can also play an integral role in your product development and service improvement. Have you ever tried to collect surveys from your existing patients? No doubt surveys are time-consuming and difficult to implement, and even if some of your patients would like to answer all the questions, they just forget about it in their everyday lives.

If you look at it from a different perspective, negative feedback is a goldmine of knowledge – it is your patients’ perception of your service. And the best part is, you don’t even have to ask for it or chase your patients for it. Patients know better than anyone what aspects are missing from your services. It is essential to listen to what your patients really need.

You are always listening to your patients, even if it is through harsh and rude negative remarks, and that should give you enough time to fix all the problems before they escalate. And while you are busy responding to negative reviews, take time to post a short and personalized comment to good reviews, as well. This will show your patients that you do care about them all the time, and not just when you have to put out a fire.

Conclusion

Time is crucial, so react quickly and empathize with your patients. Most likely, you will get a second chance if you ask for it. In addition, maybe your outstanding patient service will go viral on social networks, and you will get bonus points in the form of new patients. Negative reviews can influence conversion rates. It would be a shame not to leverage this opportunity.

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Can Social Media Cure Cancer?

Can Social Media Cure Cancer? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Cancer kills more people in the United States than accidents, stroke, . In 2017, despite spending 147 billion U.S. healthcare dollars on cancer care, 600,000 people died from cancer and 1.7 million new people  with cancer. But the news is not all grim: in all, from cancer over the past 25 years, due to a consistent yearly decrease in cancer deaths.

The improvement in cancer mortality- i.e. how likely are you to die from your newly diagnosed cancer- is the direct result of advances in cancer detection and cancer care. Clinical trials fuel this progress. At their core, clinical trials seek to improve on the current accepted treatment for a given cancer.   By enrolling patients into a clinical trial, researchers can offer investigational or unproven treatment and , or failure, in an unbiased way.

Patients with cancer are often motivated and engaged with their physicians and treatment decisions. The majority of patients seek .  Unfortunately,  of patients with cancer in the United States participate in clinical trials. Why so few? Part of the reason is fear of the unknown. In a survey conducted by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York only 35% of patients responded they were “likely” to participate in a clinical trial, due to concerns about side effects, costs, location, and or unproven treatment. Yet, the actual percentage of patients who are enrolled in the U.S. is even lower, at only 5%.  The solution in increasing that rate may lie in harnessing the inherent power of social media.

Social media should be used to educate the public about the goal of clinical trials and to encourage more participation. Physicians need to create a visible presence online to dispel the common misbelief that clinical trials are only appropriate for patients who are dying, or for those left without any other treatments options.

A major deterrent to clinical trial enrollment is finding a trial you are eligible for. Social media can help recruit patients by raising awareness of open trials. Awareness is vital because the more quickly a trial is filled with patients, the sooner we can obtain its results. Trials that don’t accrue enough patients ultimately close, which means both wasted research dollars, and unanswered clinical trial questions. If we can spread awareness of open clinical trials on social media, more patients can enroll, which not only saves money, but aids the progress against cancer. As soon as we have an answer to one trial, researchers can move onto the next.

This trend has been slow to start. Researchers at the University of Southern California are investigating the utility of using Twitter to their institution’s clinical trials. Some patients contact physicians directly via social media, including an oncologist at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, who routinely receives messages via Twitter from patients interested in enrolling in a trial. She has also recently joined the , which is an online community for patients with colorectal cancer. In this patient forum, Dr. Eng highlights clinical trials for patients with colorectal cancer and directly answers questions posed to her about the trials. , an oncologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has had patients who initially searched the  of open clinical trials, who then contacted her study coordinator to enroll.

Online communities such as the Twitter group and the  Twitter group both host weekly Twitter-based chats to educate patients about lung cancer. These online communities were started by and are maintained by a cooperative of patients and physicians, and have had a strong impact facilitating patient advocacy and education, including information about clinical trials.

is an adult cancer clinical trials organization sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. It represents the combined efforts and members of the 3 founding cancer clinical trials organizations in the U.S.: the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), and the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG). I recently participated in their Social Media Working Group to help design their pilot program utilizing social media to share information about open clinical trials with patients.

, an oncologist at the University of Florida who headed this mission, said "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." NRG also prioritizes a patient-centered approach when designing their trials, and works with patient advocates and representatives for all their programs.

This movement to expand direct patient-advertising is encouraging, but more needs to be done. Social media can offer more than just information about trials because of its ability to bring researchers and patients together remotely. Currently, many clinical trials are available only at large cancer hospitals because they have the resources to run, open, and maintain trials. FDA regulations require tremendous oversight at every aspect of trial implementation, which means that small hospitals often can’t afford to enroll patients on trials. If a patient wants to enroll onto a trial, they may be required to discontinue their care at their local hospital. This is a major deterrent for patients to enroll on trials. What if a patient in rural Idaho could be enrolled onto a trial at a major cancer center in NJ? Social media should be used to recreate the framework of trial design, starting with making it easier for patients to enroll remotely. Doing so would ease the burden for physicians and patients to recommend participation in clinical trials, especially at community hospitals and in underserved areas, who don’t have the resources to maintain their own trials.

Enrolling patients onto trials more quickly would free up research dollars to run more trials, such as patient-centered trials uniquely designed by a social media community. This untapped source of volunteers from across the U.S. would be able to participate in trials in unprecedented numbers. Researchers would have open channels of communication with large numbers of patients, who they could pose questions directly to, such as “what kind of trials are you willing to participate in?”

There are real barriers to this proposed social-media driven model. Patient privacy must be protected, which means implementing strict protocols for sharing confidential patient information.  Moreover, the language used to advertise clinical trials is strictly regulated:  the future of social media driven clinical trials cannot include pitches like “Come join our trial to save your life!” Researchers need to obtain informed consent from each trial participant, which is more difficult when done remotely. And, monitoring the day-to-day running of the trial may be cumbersome, due to different physicians’ treatment style, monitoring of side effects, and determination of treatment success or failure. While the above obstacles will necessitate careful attention, the time has some to utilize social media for improving cancer care. Let’s investigate new ways to engage patients, not simply funnel them into our current inadequate paradigm.

The sooner we embrace it, the more lives we can potentially save.

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Causal Relationships Among Pollen Counts, Tweet Numbers, and Patient Numbers for Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis Surveillance

Causal Relationships Among Pollen Counts, Tweet Numbers, and Patient Numbers for Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis Surveillance | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Background: Health-related social media data are increasingly used in disease-surveillance studies, which have demonstrated moderately high correlations between the number of social media posts and the number of patients. However, there is a need to understand the causal relationship between the behavior of social media users and the actual number of patients in order to increase the credibility of disease surveillance based on social media data.

Objective: This study aimed to clarify the causal relationships among pollen count, the posting behavior of social media users, and the number of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis in the real world.

Methods: This analysis was conducted using datasets of pollen counts, tweet numbers, and numbers of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis from Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. We examined daily pollen counts for Japanese cedar (the major cause of seasonal allergic rhinitis in Japan) and hinoki cypress (which commonly complicates seasonal allergic rhinitis) from February 1 to May 31, 2017. The daily numbers of tweets that included the keyword “kafunshō” (or seasonal allergic rhinitis) were calculated between January 1 and May 31, 2017. Daily numbers of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis from January 1 to May 31, 2017, were obtained from three healthcare institutes that participated in the study. The Granger causality test was used to examine the causal relationships among pollen count, tweet numbers, and the number of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis from February to May 2017. To determine if time-variant factors affect these causal relationships, we analyzed the main seasonal allergic rhinitis phase (February to April) when Japanese cedar trees actively produce and release pollen.

Results: Increases in pollen count were found to increase the number of tweets during the overall study period (P=.04), but not the main seasonal allergic rhinitis phase (P=.05). In contrast, increases in pollen count were found to increase patient numbers in both the study period (P=.04) and the main seasonal allergic rhinitis phase (P=.01). Increases in the number of tweets increased the patient numbers during the main seasonal allergic rhinitis phase (P=.02), but not the overall study period (P=.89). Patient numbers did not affect the number of tweets in both the overall study period (P=.24) and the main seasonal allergic rhinitis phase (P=.47).

Conclusions: Understanding the causal relationships among pollen counts, tweet numbers, and numbers of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis is an important step to increasing the credibility of surveillance systems that use social media data. Further in-depth studies are needed to identify the determinants of social media posts described in this exploratory analysis.

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