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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where did medical influencers come from?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But wait, why do doctors need side hustles?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nursefluencers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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Digital Marketing For Healthcare: What You Need To Know

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

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

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

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

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

Build a Simple & Useful Website

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

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

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

Create and Sustain a Valuable Blog

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

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

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

Develop an Email Marketing Campaign

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

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

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

Here’s the key:

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

Hard, but totally worth it!

Publish Inspirational, Motivational, and Educational Videos

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

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

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

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

5 Helpful Networking Tips For Healthcare Professionals

Make SEO Part of Your Digital Marketing Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

Develop a Strong Social Media Presence

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

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


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

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

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On Vaccine, WHO fears Social Media 

On Vaccine, WHO fears Social Media  | Social Media and Healthcare |
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Digital Marketing Tips For Healthcare Professionals

Digital Marketing Tips For Healthcare Professionals | Social Media and Healthcare |

The concept of digital marketing has brought some major changes in the way a business promotes its products or services. This advanced marketing option has helped businesses to access various platforms to reach their target audience. Like many other industries, the idea of digital marketing has transformed our healthcare sector in many ways.

Today, professionals who are associated with the healthcare industry do not rely on the traditional way of advertising and marketing in healthcare, as they have learnt to utilize the digital channel for numerous benefits. However, the market has become competitive and in order to remain in the competition, healthcare professionals are now leaning towards creative and engaging healthcare marketing strategy.  In this article, we will talk about some digital marketing ideas healthcare professionals can use for better engagement.

  • Prefer PPC Marketing with Search Ads for Instant Results

Customers have become smarter and they rely more on search engine than any other sources when it comes to finding healthcare service providers in their locality. Now the question is what have you made any effort to increase your online visibility so that you can attract your target audience.

PPC or pay-per-click ads can be used as a tool to improve your online visibility. These kinds of ads come at the top of the search engine results immediately when a searcher types relevant keywords. Remember ads related to the strategy healthcare industry bring instant results.

  • Give Your Customer a Personalized Experience

Websites and landing pages can be used to generate leads but businesses or professionals associated with the healthcare industry also use CRM data to target their audience with personalized content. Home health care marketers can prepare the content in a way that can address the need of each and every consumer.

Email marketing is one of the best marketing tools that can give your audience a personalized experience. Email is an effective messaging medium that can help healthcare professionals to establish relationships with their existing and potential customers.

  • Improve Search Ranking with Better SEO Strategy

PPC ads are definitely some of the most effective digital marketing ideas that can help a healthcare business to bring traffic and improve conversion rate, but this is not the only way to utilize the power of digital platform or improve online activities.

Patients believe in search engines and they always try search engines whenever they need any healthcare products or services. Healthcare professionals and organizations should see this as an opportunity and make an effort to improve their position in the search engine results.

Since each and every company wants to be on the first page of search engines like Google, the competition has become more challenging for companies using a digital marketing platform. Companies that have managed to secure their spots in the upper positions take their SEO work very seriously.

SEO rules are ever-changing and companies should work constantly to improve their SEO. The process of optimization is a time-consuming process and it requires expertise and experience.

  • Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing ideas and a healthcare professional or organization can set its class apart by using it. The better healthcare marketing strategy helps marketers to design need-based services.

Millions of healthcare services providers across the world are working to deliver customer-centric products and services. A healthcare business can bring personalized digital marketing strategies like email campaign, sales alignment and artificial intelligence together to ensure the efficacy of account-based digital marketing for medical marketing servces.

Using Social Media Platforms More Effectively

Social media is one of the best platforms that allow healthcare professionals to establish connections with the patients or any other needy individuals in real-time. The better your social media hospital marketing strategy is the more you develop a relationship with your audience.

For the patients, it is quite easy to trust someone they know rather than relying on a stranger. Social media platforms enable healthcare professionals not only to reach their audience more effectively but to educate their customers and expand brand awareness.

Healthcare professionals often prepare their content to educate their audience by sharing useful information on how to take preventive care initiatives or what kind of medicines should be taken for a particular health disorder.

  • Provide Helpful Information

In most cases, people do not understand the actual cause of illness and disease and that makes them confused. In such a situation, people try to find a reliable source that can help them to get rid of it. Healthcare professionals should make an effort to reach those people and help them with the right information.

This is one of the best online medical marketing ideas in the healthcare industry and healthcare professionals have to represent themselves as a reliable source with experience and expertise in the field. You can use your social media accounts to publish relevant posts including videos. Live interaction is another to reach the target audience and healthcare professionals can use the option to reach needy people.

  • When First Impression Matters

Your website will always be the most important platform and you have to make it better in all directions. Remember, your website is the first place, where you will invite your target audience and if you fail to make the right impression, it will be very difficult for you to improve the conversion rate.

Thus, it is important to pay attention to the site design and content along with the functionality. Your website should provide the information your audience will need in a convenient way. Remember, design, content and navigation are some of the most important elements and if you want to make the first impression positive, take care of such issues.

Patients need instant and digestible information from your site and if you fail to deliver what they need, they will move to another website. Infographics can be an effective way to publish easily digestible content, as such content comes with easy-to-absorb visuals and short texts that make even complicated information easier for the readers.

These are some of the most effective digital marketing plans and ideas healthcare professionals can rely on to draw the attention of their target audience. These ideas are shared by industry experts and a healthcare professional can apply them as an effective healthcare marketing strategy to improve brand visibility and lead generation.

Author Bio:  

Manan Ghadawala is the founder of 21Twelve Interactive which is one of the best mobile app development company in India and the USA. He is an idealistic leader with a lively management style and thrives raising the company’s growth with his talents. He is an astounding business professional with astonishing knowledge and applies artful tactics to reach those imaginary skies for his clients. Follow him on @twitter

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How to Use Instagram as a Healthcare Marketing Tool

How to Use Instagram as a Healthcare Marketing Tool | Social Media and Healthcare |

Recently, we’ve heard a lot more practice and hospital marketing leaders talking about Instagram marketing. Healthcare may have been slow to adopt social media marketing and advertising techniques in the past. But today’s healthcare professionals are open to exploring new platforms…as long as it’s the right fit for their audiences.

Not sure what Instagram has to offer for your healthcare business? You’re not alone. Many people believe that “Gen Z” and teenagers are far more active than other groups on the photo-centric social media platform. But the statistics may surprise you:

  • Just as many 25-34 year olds use Instagram (32% of users) as 18-25 year olds (32% of users).
  • Teens only make up 7% of Instagrams users.
  • 15% of Instagram users are age 35-44 (that’s 131 million people).
    (source: Hootsuite)

These are key healthcare decision makers for themselves and their families. And it is possible to reach these demographics through targeted Instagram marketing for healthcare…if you have a solid strategy in mind.

1. Build Credibility and Educate Patients

Sadly, there is a lot of misinformation on the internet—and this can be especially harmful when it comes to medicine. Instagram is a popular place to find a community and seek answers. But those “answers” are not always rooted in science.

Doctors and medical organizations have an opportunity to combat this problem while also working to build their brands. By creating high-quality, credible content and sharing it on platforms like Instagram, you can reach new potential patients while helping to educate the general public about important health issues.

However, when your content is only promoted organically (without the help of advertising) it does take quite a bit of work to begin building an audience. Healthcare professionals who hope to succeed organically will have to post frequent content and find a niche if they expect to gain followers. More importantly, followers rarely translate into actual patients. 

2. Recruit the Best and Brightest

Before we get into how you can use Instagram to convert new patients, let’s talk a bit about what doctors who aren’t Dr. Sandra Lee (@drpimplepopper) can achieve through regular or semi-regular organic (unpaid) posts on Instagram.

You can always use Instagram to market your organization for recruiting purposes. We’ve all heard about how employers often review the social media pages of their potential candidates. But potential employees do the same thing!

Instagram is the perfect visual platform to show off your organization, your culture, and daily life on the job (without showing any photos of patients that violate HIPAA, of course). You can attract motivated employees who care about social outreach and the broader implications of the work that they do. And if a patient happens to stop by your page, they’ll be relieved to know that your team is committed to the values of your organization.

3. Attract New Patients with Instagram Ads

The fact is that patients won’t see your posts organically unless you have built up quite a large following. And those followers won’t necessarily be qualified patients ready to book an appointment.

Thankfully, the Instagram ads platform allows you to target your audience with quite a bit of precision. Because Facebook owns Instagram, you’ll use the same platform to target specific audiences within both social media platforms based on age, location, interests, and much more.

Instagram ads are also very affordable compared to many other platforms, making it the ideal place to delve into the world of social media advertising. With the right strategy and a bit of persistence, you can attract new patients while also spreading a positive message of health education to your patients and your community.

Looking for Help with Your Online Marketing Strategy?

For more about Instagram and healthcare social media marketing, see our CEO Stewart Gandolf’s new book Cash-Pay Healthcare, available now! And call our team of healthcare marketing specialists when you’re ready for a highly targeted social media ad strategy.

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Who’s Afraid of Paid Social?

Who’s Afraid of Paid Social? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Are you doing your brand a disservice by thinking organic social media is enough?

It’s not news that pharma often lags behind other industries when it comes to digital efforts. From websites onward, our conservative field has been slow to adopt new technologies. Today, one of the ways this hesitation is hamstringing pharma brands is in the use of social media advertising.

Missing out on the potential of paid social is a significant mistake. Like all digital channels, it’s extremely good at targeting. Like television, it has extremely high usage (four hours per day for television, 2 ½ per day on social networks). But social is unusually good at getting users’ intent focus: it’s easy to turn on the television and walk out of the room, but much harder to avoid seeing what you’re scrolling through on your phone.

Paid social is also exceptionally good at conveying branded, drug-specific messaging, as well as unbranded messaging such as disease awareness, patient stories, or general treatment information. And, it’s good at reaching all types of audiences: patients and caregivers, but also healthcare professionals (HCPs).

Far too often, pharma brands still hope that they can post social content organically and sufficiently reach and engage their target audiences. In the past decade, that was often enough. But the sophistication with which social media companies have monetized their platforms means that’s no longer a viable plan.

Social media can usher someone through their journey: becoming familiar with a brand, wanting to learn more about it, deciding to test it. It’s not just about pushing awareness; it’s about customizing a message and a call to action for every specific stage of each individual’s journey.

To tell a story well through social media in our regulated industry is extremely possible, but it’s not for everyone. Clever paid-social plans often have multiple objectives. Doing it well takes people who understand not only the social landscape, but also the brand regulation. Done right, it’s phenomenally effective. Longer-form creative experiences allow even black-box brands to tell engaging, beautiful stories on social media while remaining compliant.

In my experience, many brands require a little help educating their legal and regulatory teams to create a level of comfort and understanding with paid social. There’s a historical disconnect between the capabilities of the technology and the average brand’s awareness of its potential. With an understanding of what it is and how it works, however, they’re surprised at the efficiency and performance that they find with their first forays into social advertising.

Interested in learning about whether paid social is right for your brand? Reach out to or your account team.

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How to do Digital Marketing for Doctors and Clinics

How to do Digital Marketing for Doctors and Clinics | Social Media and Healthcare |

Digital Marketing has earned a lot of boom in today’s era. Previously people focus on traditional marketing however, Now, Digital Marketing has infused in almost every sector.

Searching for hospital and clinics online has become a trend and is one of the top 5 activities done by online user.

Medical industry cannot neglect digital Marketing, as a person encountering any problem will first search online for the medical problem, doctor, hospital and diet. Even after the doctor has prescribed the medicine they will cross check its usage and side effects.

Diabeties, Thyroid, BP, kidney stone, PCOD’s , Heart problem are few of the very common diseases. One member of the family will surely have one of it. With the advancement in medical technology, treatments are also available, so before visiting a doctor around 80% of user first search and then they go.

How to choose correct Audience for Digital Marketing

Choosing or finding a relevant audience is very important in Digital Marketing. To find the correct audience its very important to empathise our customer. So let’s see how to target relevant audience for hospitals and clinics.

5 important healthcare marketing strategy

A.) Medical store: Target people near Medical stores and Hospitals.

B.) Age wise: As people aged above 55 are more likely to have medical problems. Many disease are common to particular age group people, so based on age we can target

C.) Device wise: A person having BP is more likely to have a bp machine. so people searching for medical devices can be targetted.

D.) Disease wise: user searching for disease-related queries, like its symptoms or medical treatments. user searching for particular doctors can also be targeted.

E.) Health conscious: A person suffering from BP or Thyriod will definitely search for good health chart and what to eat or not. So this can also be targeted



Channels For Digital Marketing

Search Engine Marketing:

Businesses that employ search engine marketing along with search engine optimization and ad campaigns gain higher visibility than those who don’t.

Search Engine Optimisation / SEO

Search Engine Optimisation includes the most potential user’s. This is a way where we rank our website on top of Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for particular keywords. A user will search for a particular keyword phrase that may be related to a disease, department of doctor etc. We have many keyword tools where we can find the top searched keywords, like- keyword planner by google ads, Ahref, Semrush, etc and using those keywords we can rank our website on top10.

Google Ads / PPC

Google Ads is a platform or a tool by Google for running ads on Google partner websites. We can run multiple campaigns on google depending upon the network, goal, audience, and targeting method. we have different targeting method through which we can target our audience.

  1. Search campaign: People prefer doing homework before visiting a doctor as people these days are avid researchers. So in this we will run a campaign where an ad will be shown to people searching for a particular disease or particular designation of doctor. Basically, we will pay to google to show our ads on top for any search query related to medical terms.

Example: orthopedic doctor, doctor for arthritis, doctor related to bones, etc. The keyword list we can find from keyword tools like Ahref, Semrush, etc.

2. Display Campaigns: This type of ad campaign consists of an image with the ad. we can use this campaign for remarketing our searched user and targeting our ads to a particular audience. The audience will be related to health sector industry. Here are the few examples:

3. Youtube Campaign

This type of ad campaign consists of a video with the ad. we can also use this campaign for remarketing our searched user and targeting our ads to a particular audience, as mentioned above. We can target people who are subscribed to health-related channels or searching for doctors, diseases, treatments, etc.

video marketing if done efficiently could convert a customer easily. The hospital should empasize to create video content based on patients feedback.

Digital marketing campaign ideas for hospitals

a.) Health-related Infographics: We can prepare good infographics showing diet charts related to common medical problems like BP, Sugar, Heart problems, etc. We can advise our audience what to eat and not to eat if you are suffering from so and so problem. we can advise them how to survive a heartache or general cold and flue.

b.) Full body checkup: Medical checkups cost too much these days. we can give offers to our users for full body checkup. It will help us to drive leads to our hospitals.

Before booking an appointment –

  • 77% of patients use search.
  • 26% used reviews generated by consumers.
  • 50% used health information sites.
  • 54% of the patients used health insurance company sites.
  • 83% used hospital sites

3). Social media marketing strategy for hospitals

People are active on social media and social media is equivalent to ‘word of mouth’ marketing. This type of marketing plays a huge role in the healthcare sector. If many people around you, recommend a particular doctor, you are more likely to consult that doctor.

Over 40% of consumers say that information found through social media affects the way they deal with their health. People these days also consult their problem in social media. Health-related opinions spread like a fire on social media and are often trusted.

consumers are desperate for information and advice related to their health.

User Persona for healthcare Leads

User persona 1

Name: Rakesh dubey

Age : 31

Occupation: chairman of an IT Firm

Goal: searching for a good orthopedician in Raipur

Summary: Mr Rakesh dubey is suffering from constant knee pain since 5 days.he is looking for a good orthopedic in Raipur where he can treated

Pain point: High fees, correct solution for his problem, travel

User Persona 2

Name:Rashmi Arora

Age: 41

Occupation: house wife, living in Raipur

Summary: Mrs vibhuti Arora who was constantly having multiple body pains was diagnosed with Arthritis a year ago. She had been through many treatment but there was no improvement.She also went to mumbai for the same  and is looking for a good doctor in Raipur where she can start her treatment.

Pain point:High fees, correct solution for her problem.

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Doctors On Social Media: Humanizing The White Coat —

Doctors On Social Media: Humanizing The White Coat — | Social Media and Healthcare |

White coat syndrome is real. Patients I spoke with report an increase in blood pressure, stress, fear, anxiety, and deference once they enter a doctor’s office. Doctors are often viewed as all-knowing, unflappable, and distant outside of the office. Do you remember the first time you saw one of your teachers in a social setting? The idea of teachers being “normal” was new. Similarly, Doctors, once outside of their office, may still not be viewed as accessible. They hold knowledge, speak a different language, often understood only by those in the medical field. Removing the shroud of mystery surrounding medicine is integral to understanding healthcare. The use of social media by doctors is important to accomplish this goal. Social media provides a platform for doctors to bring medicine every day. Social media is more than selfies, pictures of meals, and memes; it can be a constructive tool to raise awareness and understanding. It also provides insights to treatment effects, options, and health tips. Doctors who use social media also have the chance to highlight causes they believe in, new technology, and innovative procedures. They have the opportunity to reach hundreds, if not thousands of people and educate them on why treatments are chosen and the benefits of certain treatments.

Doctors who use social media post before and after surgery pictures without violating HIPAA, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act demystify treatments. They use pictures and explanations to encourage conversations. People are afforded the chance to ask questions, read about treatments, and understand why procedures are chosen.

Social media is a leveling tool for patients and doctors. Another aspect of social media is the humanization of doctors. Many doctors take the moment they have with their followers to tell them about their story. Some doctors explain why they chose the field of medicine and what led them to their specialty. Others, like Dr. Todd Hanna, MD, DDS, FACS, mix together their personal and professional lives to be accessible to their followers. They strip away the white coat and all the anxiety associated with seeing a doctor. Followers learn about their successes and failures in workouts, diets, and life.

This isn’t to say doctors who use social media strip their lives for all to see. It is with a certain understanding between the doctor and the followers that some parts of their lives are private and will remain private. The act of opening an account, showing, interacting, and explaining the how and why behind treatments grants followers a peek inside their world. Doctors who are accessible via social media have the platform to create discussion. The discussion on social media may make a follower more comfortable asking their own doctor questions.

Social media is a powerful tool that, when used properly,  opens lines of communication between people. Doctors who use social media work to educate others. The feeling of being relaxed enough to ask questions, investigate treatment options, and relate to a doctor does have a collateral effect of the field of medicine. Medical professionals, especially doctors, are humanized. The humanization of doctors is integral to building and strengthening the doctor-patient relationship.

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Privacy experts skeptical of Facebook's moves to protect sensitive health information

Privacy experts skeptical of Facebook's moves to protect sensitive health information | Social Media and Healthcare |

Facebook is making privacy changes to its platform when it comes to users discussing health conditions or sharing health information in closed groups.


Among the changes: The company will now let people post sensitive health-related information anonymously to Facebook Groups, a pivot away from the company’s traditional approach requiring users to post under their real names. Announced during Facebook’s annual developer conference Tuesday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg also said the social media platform will separate groups that are dedicated to health issues with a special “health support group" designation. In these groups, users will be able to ask group administrators to post questions on their behalf. 

The moves follow a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) back in January and made public in February that closed online support groups on Facebook—where individuals discuss sensitive health issues ranging from cancer treatments to living with bipolar disorder to addiction issues—were not as private as users had assumed.



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But privacy experts and patient advocates say these changes do not go far enough to protect users’ personal health information or to ensure that the data users upload will not be collected or used. 

“It’s too little too late. It doesn’t address some of the fundamental issues that the design and the use of the platform have created,” healthcare lawyer David Harlow, principal of The Harlow Group, told FierceHealthcare. Harlow was involved with the FTC complaint that was filed against Facebook, along with health IT and cybersecurity researcher Fred Trotter and patient advocates who have used closed Facebook groups.

The tech giant has faced significant criticism for failing to protect the sensitive health information users uploaded and has faced claims that it exposed that information to the public. In the FTC complaint, IT researchers and patient advocates argued that Facebook allowed targeting of users’ identifiable health information for its own commercial purposes—specifically allowing advertisers to connect with users with an interest in specific clinical conditions.


In a statement emailed to FierceHealthcare, a Facebook spokesman said, "We recognize that privacy and safety are particularly important for people dealing with health conditions, which is why we are committed to making improvements in this space. We are starting with a feature that gives people a more private way to share, however, this is the first of many updates that we will be making to address this specific audience’s needs. We will continue to work with community leaders, health and privacy experts, and members to help ensure that we are designing the right set of features."

Even with the changes announced by Facebook this week, the name of the user asking the anonymous question is known to the group moderator which makes the users’ information accessible in some way, Harlow said. “The content that the group posts are still being used to generate advertising income, so it’s being used in some way other than the purposes of the conversation. There are a variety of other ways this information is being used or exposed, at least internally within the company, and possibly hackable by others.”

The issue of Facebook’s privacy policies with regard to sensitive health information came to light last July when the leader of a private Facebook group for women with the BRCA gene, a gene mutation associated with a higher risk for breast cancer, became alarmed after learning that third parties could discover the names of people in the closed group as well as other information. That group user contacted Trotter, who confirmed the security loophole. Facebook then publicly responded to say it had closed that loophole.

Many patient advocates and privacy lawyers voiced skepticism of the privacy changes on Twitter. Matthew Fisher, a partner with Boston-based law firm Mirick O’Connell and chair of the firm’s health law group, questioned whether the changes were more cosmetic than substantial.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently clarified that healthcare providers are not liable for any subsequent use or disclosure of patient data by a third-party app as long as the app developer is not a business associate of the provider. HHS offered guidance to answer common questions about the use of third-party apps under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). 

“Providers should be concerned for their patients and for the public,” Harlow said, even if the exposure of patients’ sensitive health information on a social media platform is not a HIPAA liability for providers.


“It’s not a HIPAA problem, it’s a data privacy problem. The FTC has a health data breach rule which may be applicable in these circumstances,” he said, adding, “It would be better to have a broader uniformed set of rules and regulations not specific to a type of data or type of platform that would be more protective of individuals.”

The topic of consumer data privacy is heating up. An investigation by The Wall Street Journalpublished in February revealed that apps tracking sensitive information are sending those data back to Facebook, unbeknownst to the people using those apps. The Washington Post also reported that pregnancy apps tracking users health data share those data with the users’ employers and health insurers.

Facebook is not the only company coming under scrutiny, and momentum is building for federal privacy legislation that would rein in the ability of technology companies to collect and use people’s personal data. Many privacy advocates would like to see the U.S. adopt more uniform privacy policies similar to the General Data Protection Regulation in the EU or a stricter data privacy law that was enacted in California and will go into effect next year.

“Both of those are more comprehensive and more stringent protections than what we have now, which is a patchwork of regulation which varies from state to state,” Harlow said.

However, whether federal legislation should override state laws is a key area of debate between congressional Democrats and Republicans.

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Social Media Marketing for Plastic Surgeons: Why It’s a Necessity

Social Media Marketing for Plastic Surgeons: Why It’s a Necessity | Social Media and Healthcare |

What started out as a friendly digital medium for sharing days at the beach with the family or pictures of your dog has grown into an aggressive marketplace with competitors fighting over the eyeballs of potential patients. In the United States alone, 79% of all Americans have at least 1 social media profile. In a country with a population of 327.2 million people multiplied by that 79%, that comes out to a total of 258.5 million people that have at least 1 social media profile. According to a study done by, the average internet user has an average of 7.6 social media accounts. As if that information wasn’t powerful enough, the average time per person spent on social media per day is 116 minutes. If the average person works and sleeps both 8 hours per day, this means that internet users are spending nearly 25% of their free time each and every day on social media! So, to answer the question of whether or not you even need to market on social media… YES! Social media marketing for plastic surgeons is 100% necessary!

What Type of Content Should You Incorporate into Social Media Marketing for Plastic Surgeons?

Engaging Content

Engaging content is content produced by a practice to attempt to establish an emotional connection with its social media following and connect with potential patients on a human-to-human level. Given current trends in social media marketing for plastic surgery, when a doctor thinks about where to start building the foundation of their online presence, the answer is almost unanimously Instagram. Instagram is a social media platform on which users can share photos and videos and write captions about the content they are posting. Users can include hashtags (#), which will group their post with other posts sharing the same hashtag to allow other users to search for that specific type of content. Using hashtags is a great strategy for effective social media marketing for plastic surgeons. Some examples of highly searched hashtags on Instagram are #tummytuck, #plasticsurgery and #botox. Instagram is the most personal social platform available to the public today, and it is very important that practices are incorporating this powerful, personal medium into their social media marketing initiatives when it comes to plastic surgery or non-invasive aesthetics.

You Can’t Just Rely on Instagram for Social Media Marketing for Plastic Surgeons, Though…

As great as Instagram is, it is only one social media platform. It is easy to get caught up in Instagram because some consider it to be the most popular platform right now, but we cannot forget that the average person has 7.6 social media accounts. Practices need to be posting to other platforms as well in their social media marketing strategy as it relates to plastic surgery. For example, other proven platforms are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Other engaging content in social media marketing for plastic surgeons could include pictures of the doctor doing charity work, raising money for a local cause or a warming welcome video that highlights your practice to potential patients.

It cannot be stressed enough how important social media marketing for plastic surgeons is, especially when it comes to creating those emotional connections and patient engagement. Engaging content is one of the two keys needed to unlock the full potential of social media marketing for plastic surgeons.

The Important Role of Conversion-Driven Content in Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

The second key is to blend this engaging and entertaining content with strategic conversion-driven content intended to drive revenue. While most practices can handle their engaging content on their own, a common practice is to outsource the duties of conversion-driven content to a company like Crystal Clear Digital Marketing. The most important reason for outsourcing this is the amount of time and effort it takes to post multiple times a day. Additionally, the technical aspects of creating landing pages and associated backlinks for these posts take even more time. Here at Crystal Clear, we recommend posting conversion-driven content in your social media marketing for plastic surgeons strategy twice per day across four platforms minimum. Remember, though — this is in addition to your engaging content. Each conversion-driven post should be focused on your top treatments and backlinked to a correlating landing page on your site. The ancillary benefit to the backlinking of social posts is that it provides a significant amount of SEO impact points towards the organic Google rankings of the practice.

When evaluating the actions and results of social media marketing for plastic surgeons, a lot of the same questions arise. “How many likes did we get? How many new followers did we earn this month? How many people watched our videos?” While these are all great questions and having the answers are extremely important, there is one more question that we need to ask ourselves: “Why am I marketing on social media?” The answer is the same for every plastic surgeon out there… to increase the quantity and quality of qualified patients! We always need to remember what our goal is when we first start posting to social media — to make money! So, the real questions we should be asking are, “How many patients saw a post and filled out a form or called my practice? How many of those patients scheduled and showed up to their consultation? How many of those consults booked a treatment?”, and ultimately, “What did we spend on social media to actually generate those patients?” A practice can have all the followers in the world, but if those followers aren’t converting into loyal, paying patients, then what’s the point?

What to Take Away as it Relates to Social Media Marketing for Plastic Surgeons

  1. Every plastic surgeon looking to drive revenue from social media needs to be posting daily with a specific goal associated with each post.
  2. The most effective way to attract a new patient from social media and into the practice is through a blended strategy of engaging and conversion-driven social media content.
  3. Backlink every conversion-driven post to a specific landing page on the practice’s website with clear calls to action available for the patient to provide their information.
  4. Remember why social media marketing for plastic surgeons is so important — to make money!

Crystal Clear Digital Marketing offers a fully-integrated digital marketing and social media platform. Please contact us today to learn more. We look forward to speaking with you and helping you find, serve and keep more patients profitably!

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HIV 'Social Networks' Could Be the Key to a Vaccine 

HIV 'Social Networks' Could Be the Key to a Vaccine  | Social Media and Healthcare |

In 1994, physician-researcher Bruce Walker was sure he’d stumbled upon the impossible.

Despite being HIV positive, the patient in his office was healthy—and had been for at least a decade, all without the help of drugs. But in a year when AIDS would kill 35,000 people in the United States alone, all Walker’s patient wanted to know was when he would die, too.

Walker had no answer for him. It was the first time he had seen someone subvert what he’d been certain was a death sentence. “I was stunned,” Walker recalls. “I just thought, ‘This is unbelievable. This means HIV doesn’t kill everyone.’”


In the years that followed, Walker, now a researcher at the Ragon Institute, would come to realize that this remarkable patient wasn’t a fluke. Thousands more like him existed, many of whom were completely unaware they harbored the virus in the first place—all because their immune systems had somehow kept the deadly virus in check.

This singular riddle has driven Walker’s research for the past 25 years. But at long last, he and his team think they’re close to an answer. In a study published today in the journal Science, they propose an explanation for why, despite being exposed to the same virus, some individuals control infection (“controllers”), while others progress to disease (“progressors”). [Disclosure: Walker is also a relative of NOVA’s Deputy Executive Producer, Julia Cort.]

According to the study, hitting HIV’s Achilles heel might require leveraging the “social network” that governs the virus’ structure. HIV, like all viruses, is made up of several interconnected pieces. Much like the pieces in a chess game, those parts aren’t equally influential—which means an effective immune response is likely to be one that pinpoints the most pivotal players on the board.

“This is a very elegant piece of science that could identify potential weak spots in HIV,” says Nilu Goonetilleke, an immunologist studying HIV at the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine who was not involved in the study. “I look forward to seeing a design for a vaccine come out of this, and, hopefully, seeing it tested.”

A scanning electromicrograph of an HIV-infected cell. Image Credit: NIAID, flickr


HIV is particularly tricky for the immune system to deal with. Not only does the virus infect and incapacitate some of the very immune cells that might otherwise defend against it, but it also behaves a bit like a moving target.

When on the lookout for pathogens like viruses, the immune system scours the body for foreign molecules with incriminating features—the microscopic equivalent of passing a mugshot from cell to cell. But when the HIV virus invades cells to copy its genome, it does so sloppily, accumulating so many mutations it can change the way it appears to the immune system. The HIV of one cell might look completely different from the HIV of another—and any intel the immune system might have stored can quickly become obsolete, allowing the virus to slip by unnoticed.

As it passes from person to person, the virus shapeshifts further, generating many distinct subgroups within and across populations. And protection against one version of HIV doesn’t guarantee protection against another.

In the face of such staggering diversity, an effective HIV vaccine will have to accomplish what the typical immune system cannot—recognizing the virus in all its myriad forms, says Morgane Rolland, an HIV virologist and vaccinologist at the U.S. Military HIV Research Program who was not involved in the study.

But even across vastly different strains, certain features of HIV remain the same, and don’t mutate as easily as others. Researchers think these so-called “conserved” spots represent indispensable components of HIV anatomy—ones that help it break its way into cells, or manufacture more of itself once inside—that could cripple the virus if altered.

Several years ago, Walker’s group found that these immutable regions seemed to be the same ones targeted by the immune systems of many HIV controllers. But Walker was disappointed to find the relationship was imperfect: Some of the patients who were homing in on seemingly crucial pieces of the virus were still getting sick.

So his team decided to go deeper, and zoom in on some of the proteins that contained conserved regions. They quickly discovered that, while all conserved regions were slow to change, only some of them had something else in common: They wielded an enormous amount of influence on the rest of the protein.


Whether they’re mingling with coworkers or counting degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, every human is a member of a social network: a complex constellation of interpersonal relationships. For better or worse, social networks tend to distribute power unequally, with certain members who are better connected, more well liked, or who simply hold more sway over others.

The same, Walker says, is true of proteins like the ones that make up HIV. Though each protein is first synthesized as a linear chain of subunits called amino acids, it eventually takes the form of a three-dimensional structure, transforming what’s essentially a string of molecular “beads” into a web of convoluted loops and whorls. Amino acids that are nowhere near each other in the chain can come close enough to touch, creating an intricate nexus of associations that can bridge enormous divides. In other words, a network.

But clout can be a double-edged sword: In any network, the same pieces that hold it together are the ones it can least afford to lose. Walker’s team found that the more partners an amino acid had, the more central it was to a protein’s structural integrity—which meant snipping at just one of these critical threads could be enough to unravel the entire viral tapestry. Using a computer algorithm, the researchers analyzed the sequence of several HIV proteins and assigned each amino acid a “score” denoting how networked it was. When the team then mutated the amino acids with the highest scores, the entire virus “basically fell apart,” Walker says.

“Networked amino acids are the ones that are touching everything else,” says Mohammed AlQuraishi, a structural biologist at Harvard University who was not involved in the study. “If you want to target a large number of strains, these are your best bets.”

An HIV protein’s 3D structure (left) is analyzed to produce a map of the connections between amino acids (center). At right, the larger circular nodes represent the more connected amino acids. Image Credit: Adapted from Gaiha et al., Science, 2019


In a final test, the team discovered that the immune cells of HIV controllers, but not progressors, consistently zeroed in on highly networked amino acids. It seemed the team had finally found what distinguished the patients who could fight off infection: their ability to root out the Kevin Bacons of the HIV protein grid.

Walker’s team is now working to design a vaccine based on these same principles. The hope is to develop something that can train just about any immune system to single out these highly networked amino acids, says study author Gaurav Gaiha, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. This would saddle HIV with a serious dilemma: Mutate into impotence, or stay the same and be caught red handed.

That’s still a long way off. Vaccine design involves a lot more than earmarking an immunological bulls-eye, Rolland says. In the coming years, the team will have to show that they can actually redirect a person’s immune response without compromising safety. What’s more, the best vaccines will ideally rouse multiple branches of the immune system, including those that produce antibodies, which were not tested in this study.

Additionally, there are person-to-person differences to consider. “Even if two people target the exact same things, the quality of the immune response can still be very different,” Goonetilleke says.

For now, though, Walker is optimistic. Vaccine or not, the end of a 25-year odyssey could finally be in sight. “After years of searching, we’re finally able to understand this remarkable outcome in some people who are HIV infected,” he says. “I feel like I finally understand what was going on in that patient I first met in 1994.”

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6 Digital Marketing Strategies To Grow Your Healthcare Practice In 2019

Healthcare industry serves a wider audience with their varying medical needs. Every now and then the medical sector transforms making way for to make way for further innovation and technological advancement. All the efforts within this industry, from inventing disease cure to manufacturing a new medical device, are directed towards improving patient care.

Keeping pace with the changing market trends, medical practices are also embracing new technologies and marketing tactics to stay up-to-date. Even the patients today are way more conscious and well-informed than they used to be a decade ago. This is because of the advent of digital media that has brought information at the comfort of a click. Today’s patients use mobile apps and websites to search for medical services and book appointment. Their important healthcare decisions are also greatly influenced by online reviews and social media posts. Hence, as their reliance on websites and other digital platforms increases, practices need to brush up their digital marketing strategies to optimize the evolving opportunities.

Here are six effective digital strategies for your healthcare business or practice that you must implement to improve your patient reach in 2019:

Build an Easy to Use Website

In today’s digital space, websites serve as a welcome mat for businesses. The first thing that an organization does to establish its online presence is to develop a website that will represent the brand before the internet users.

Most of the organizations today rely on digital marketing to promote their brand across various industries. Especially in the healthcare industry, the use of digital channels to search, compare and look for medical products and services has increased manifold in recent years. Most of the patients are searching online for health-related information. Moreover, they can now book appointments, chat with the doctor and keep track of their medical stats using health apps and various online tools. Hence, it is essential on the part of the medical practices to ensure that their platforms are user-friendly for the patients.

The first impression that a patient form on visiting your site lays the foundation of your future relationship. If the site is difficult to navigate and go through, then they are likely to leave and go to your competitor’s site. This is something that nobody would like, and so you need to develop an easy to navigate website that they can use without complications. Winning patient trust and showing your credibility is the key to your success. It is through an engaging, less complex, easy to use and informational website that you can establish a good online reputation.

Publish and Promote Informative Blogs

The importance of online content is never going to die especially when the internet searches pertaining to healthcare matters are increasing. According to statistics, there are 35 million medical searches online every day. This is because patients are looking for information about health conditions, tips for healthy being and answers to queries. Thanks to the internet, now patients need not go to doctors for minor issues as all kind of medical information is available across various online platforms.

Now, to take advantage of this growing demand for useful medical content, the best and effective strategy is to create and publish informative blogs. Apart from health tips, general query about medical conditions and symptoms, you can develop blogs based on customer testimonials. Sharing the satisfactory story of your existing patient will motivate and inspire new patients to trust your services. New visitors will love to read the experience of other patients and this in return will help to win their trust. Blogs have always been effective in terms of driving website traffic as well as boosting engagement. So, do include blogs in your digital marketing strategy if you want your medical business to have a wider reach. You must plan your content time table prior time and make sure to execute them in a way that will benefit your practice.

Run Email Campaigns that Delivers Value

Sending an email comprising relevant information to patients can keep you a step ahead in the competitive space. It’s true that patients are proactive in their search for healthcare information online. However, if you can deliver them what they are looking for even before they search, the outcomes are going to be in favor of your practice. According to Medicoreach quickbytes, 54% of the patients are very comfortable to get advice from online communications. This survey proves that delivering online message to patients adds better value for your business.

To stay in the patient’s mind and to keep them engaged, you can send a weekly or monthly email newsletter to educate them on the latest industry trends, medical innovations and more about your facility or practice. A personalized email sent to a targeted audience based on his/her interest or preferences will work. You just need an accurate and responsive email list of your niche audience to start optimizing your email marketing strategies.

Use Visual Content to Educate Patients

As per WordStream, one-third of the online users spent maximum time watching videos. The numbers are surprising and are likely to increase in the days to come as people are interested more in visual content. Instead of reading long texts, the audience prefers watching well-designed videos. That is why many organizations are investing in making videos to attract attention. From a company brochure to customer testimonials, brands are using video marketing tactics to spread their brand messages.

Even in the healthcare sector, visual content is consumed and preferred by patients, healthcare executives, and professionals. No matter who is your target, you can engage any prospect with your practice using video content. You can include videos in your digital strategy using the format for projecting various types of content. For instance, you can create an interview video of a doctor or can record a patient’s experience while receiving care at your hospital and post it on the site or social media channels. Videos showing a surgical procedure helps the new patient and their family get a glimpse of how the real-life experience will be and this, in turn, will increase their comfort.

Make Efficient Use of SEO Tactics

The competition in the medical field is fierce. Every day new practices and healthcare facility centers pop up, adding to the challenges of existing medical practices. Getting the right attention and bringing your medical website on top of the search results require to have a strong SEO strategy.

Search engine optimization is an integral aspect of a digital marketing strategy. With Google algorithms getting updated often, managing search engine rankings aren’t easy. It is highly recommended that you take help of SEO specialists who are best in their job. Although you can do the SEO of your medical website, however, the results may take a longer time to show as you may not have in-depth knowledge of the many SEO tactics. Hence, hiring SEO experts and targeting the right healthcare keyword relevant to your practice is essential for overall success. Also, you must build content based on a specific keyword that has high search volume in your field of work.

Remember the keyword is important in SEO. However, too much stuffing on keywords in your content may not help. So, do avoid such practices. Also, you must optimize your website pages well with the right tags, Meta descriptions, URL structure, page title, etc. All these elements are vital to successful SEO strategy implementation.

Engage in Social Media Marketing

If your practice isn’t on any social media platform, then you are likely missing a lot of opportunity to network, connect and bond with your audience. A large percentage of internet users are active on social media. Even patients check social media profiles of doctors, nurses, and hospitals to check their online reviews and reputation. Moreover, 31% of healthcare professionals use social media to network with other professionals in the industry.

A lot of patients and their family members express their health experience on social media platforms. According to PwC, 29% of patients on social media to go through the health experiences of other patients. Hence, every healthcare brand or business must make use of this opportunity and use it wisely. It can expand your practice reach and spread your word to a broader audience across the globe.

So, you need to have a dedicated social media team managing your social media marketing efforts. From sharing timely posts to responding to patient queries, addressing their concerns, and networking further, your social media activities can work wonders in keeping your practice top of your patient’s mind.

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Deadly measles outbreaks on the rise, social media called to account -

Deadly measles outbreaks on the rise, social media called to account - | Social Media and Healthcare |

Around 21 million children around the world are missing out on measles vaccinations every year, raising the risk of the disease killing or leaving children disabled for life.

These alarming new figures released by UNICEF show that the problem is growing in high income countries, with the US, France and the UK having the highest numbers of unvaccinated children in the most developed countries over the 2010-2017 period.

In the first three months of 2019, more than 110,000 measles cases were reported worldwide – a threefold rise from the same period last year. An estimated 110,000 people, most of them children, died from measles in 2017, a 22% increase from the year before.

In the 2010-2017 period, 2.59 million children in the US went without a measles vaccination, followed by 608,000 in France and 527,000 in the UK.

The rising numbers of unvaccinated children is attributed to the rise of a 'vaccine rejection' trend among some parents in developed countries, including a militant ‘anti-vax’ movement which spreads myths and untruths about vaccine safety.

One of the most notorious figures in the anti-vax movement is Andrew Wakefield, a former British doctor who first raised doubts about the combined measles mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in the late 1990s.

His research was eventually found to be fraudulent, but public health campaigners have found it almost impossible to counter the myths spread since then.

The UK remains one of the worst hit among developed nations, with some well-meaning parents believing falsely that vaccinations can ‘overload’ the immune systems of young children.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “Getting yourself and your children vaccinated against killer diseases is essential to staying healthy, and vaccine rejection is a serious and growing public health time bomb.”

He called on social media firms such as Facebook and Instagram to do more to block fake news stories and scaremongering about vaccines.

“With measles cases almost quadrupling in England in just one year, it is grossly irresponsible for anybody to spread scare stories about vaccines, and social media firms should have a zero tolerance approach towards this dangerous content.”

Faced with new legislation to compel it and other social media firms to fight fake news, Facebook last month vowed to block anti-vax adverts to stop the spread of medical misinformation.

Two doses of the measles vaccine are essential to protect all children, but UNICEF’s figures show that there is a considerable drop off in children receiving the second dose.

The global coverage of the first dose of the measles vaccine was reported at 85% in 2017, with coverage for the second dose at a much lower level of 67%. The World Health Organisation recommends a threshold of 95% immunisation coverage to achieve so-called ‘herd immunity’ - but many richer nations are also now dipping below this level.

Meanwhile, in low- and middle-income countries, the situation is critical. In 2017, for example, Nigeria had the highest number of children under one year of age who missed out on the first dose, at nearly 4m. It was followed by India (2.9m), Pakistan and Indonesia (1.2m each), and Ethiopia (1.1m).

“The ground for the global measles outbreaks we are witnessing today was laid years ago,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director. “The measles virus will always find unvaccinated children. If we are serious about averting the spread of this dangerous but preventable disease, we need to vaccinate every child, in rich and poor countries alike.”

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Healthcare Reputation Management - What It Is & Why It Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reputation management encapsulates your:

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


What is the goal of healthcare reputation management?

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


Why is healthcare reputation management important?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


How to preserve your online reputation in 2019:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do any of the following sound familiar:

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


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In a Fractured Landscape, Will Digital Marketing Save Health IT Brands?

In a Fractured Landscape, Will Digital Marketing Save Health IT Brands? | Social Media and Healthcare |

If you’re selling B2B technology into health care, you already know that the buyer landscape has changed significantly. In the past, you might have targeted CIOs of hospitals, clinics and other service providers.

But today, roles such as marketing, patient experience and medical professionals also have a say in the technology and tools used by health care providers. Many larger providers even have hospital Value Analysis Committees (VACs) that are specifically tasked with evaluating new technology and equipment.

Combine this new landscape with the volume of technology and tools available and breaking through to the right buyers becomes an even bigger challenge.

So, how do you grab the attention of buyers in such a fractured world?

While traditional marketing can still work (tactics such as PR, demos, seminars and direct mail), many health technology brands are finding success with digital marketing. The reason is simple: digital marketing is not only highly targeted and measurable; it’s also more cost effective.

Take this example: company X makes a patient portal software platform that connects a patient’s medical records with appointment scheduling, reminders and educational health resources, and allows patients to request transportation assistance to and from provider locations.

Potential buyers and influencers include the CIO (who will need to understand the technical aspects of the platform and integration requirements), the CMO (who wants to offer a better patient experience) and the finance team (who needs to understand the ROI of switching how the hospital offers transportation services). 

Using digital marketing strategies can help you reach each of these audiences in new ways. For example, if the hospital marketing role is driving the need for a solution, consider targeting them through a geofencing campaign at a large hospital marketing event.

By serving up digital ads on websites and apps during the conference, you’re more likely to hit your prospects with the right message during a time when they are most receptive. Make sure to retarget them after the event and drive them to high quality content and resources on your website. Don’t forget to include a call-to-action for a live demo, too.

To get CIOs and IT directors on board, consider a custom landing page designed with simple videos and resources that show the ease of integration. Drive traffic to the website with a targeted email campaign to known IT influencer prospects. Including some quotes from CIOs with successful implementations doesn’t hurt either.

For finance teams, sharing financial impact and ROI statistics will be critical. They may be less willing to check out your website directly, but using LinkedIn’s paid ad targeting is another way to reach them. LinkedIn is the ideal channel for this type of social engagement and has shown to be 277 percent more effective than Facebook and Twitter when it comes to generating visitor-to-lead conversions.

LinkedIn’s paid ad targeting is incredibly robust, allowing B2B technology brands to serve ads to hospital decision-makers based on their hospital name, role and even specific job title. By setting up multiple ads targeting finance decision-makers and influencers, you can ensure they are getting a message designed to address their specific questions and concerns.

This type of thinking-outside-the-box also boosts the perception of your brand as an innovator and a leader. So if traditional marketing tools seem to be falling flat, mix some digital efforts into your program. The results (and reasonable cost) will be well worth it.

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Growing Reliance on Digital Technologies in Healthcare | Digital Marketing for Healthcare Business -

Growing Reliance on Digital Technologies in Healthcare | Digital Marketing for Healthcare Business - | Social Media and Healthcare |

Mahatma Gandhi once said “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

In today’s times, accepting changes in the digital world and integrating oneself with it, is the primary need in order to move ahead. Whether it is digital marketing, digital technologies, digital data or digital media: digital is an integral part of almost everyone’s lifestyle.

No one can dispute technology’s ability to enable us all to livelonger, healthier lives. From surgical robots to “smart hospitals,” to health and fitness monitoring apps, the digital transformation is revolutionizing patient care in every way.

The healthcare sector comprises of doctors, nurses, health clinics, hospitals, pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical equipment manufacturers and health insurance firms. They all work in conjunction with one another to provide diagnostic, preventive, remedial, therapeutic and medical expenses coverage services.

Why is the healthcare sector going digital?

The major reasons why healthcare sector necessities digital transformation, are:

1. To allow innovation- Innovation in medicine gives access to superior and affordable healthcare solutions. Medical technology leads to wider availability of the drug/ treatment at affordable prices, which can save lives.

2. To remain in business- The healthcare sector has taken longer than other businesses to adopt digital technology. The worldwide digital healthcare market is expected to touch $206 billion by 2020. As per a recent study conducted by SAP and Oxford Economics, it was determined that while 70% healthcare companies are planning to digitalize operations, another 61% feel that digital transformation will increase patient satisfaction. There are a lot of new and global opportunities for marketers. Digitalization is essential to remain in competition in worldwide markets.

3. To go with the flow- Healthcare marketing has progressed from the corner medical store and the medico rep, to the online digital world. With consultations and medicines available online, doctors and patients cannot be left far behind. Also since advertising on digital media is stated to become the number one channel for ad revenue by 2019 the medical fraternity should utilize to advertise their drugs and specialist services thru digital platforms like Facebook, websites etc.

4. To utilize the data- There is so much valuable raw data in terms of patient history, latest drugs, innovations in medical equipment, healthcare apps, all of which have to be interpreted correctly and utilized in the most optimum manner towards patient’s health and wellbeing.
The healthcare industry in India has significantly grown in recent years.

There are professional digital healthcare agencies, which provide marketing strategies to established and emerging Hospitals, Clinics, Individual Practitioners and Corporates including FMCG, Pharmaceutical, Medical Devices & Diagnostic companies.

healthcare marketing agency helps to build a website, offers Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to attract more traffic, creates a mobile app and handles Social Media Marketing (SMM) for medical practitioners.

With Internet coverage having spread to small towns and even villages in recent years, with medical information getting more easy to access, with doctor patient interaction getting closer, with competition amongst pharmaceutical companies growing stronger; the healthcare industry is relying on medical marketinghospital marketing and pharmaceutical marketing. This is why it is essential for doctors, GP’s, Physicians, consultants and specialists in the healthcare sector to approach an internet marketing company which can offer a digital marketing strategy to serve the overall purpose.

Seen here below are few technologies of recent times that are helping the healthcare sector to get closer to the people in need of medical assistance:

1. The advent of telemedicine: Until recently, a patient had to visit a doctor’s clinic or a hospital or then the doctor was required to do a home visit. With technological advances, geographical location no longer limited a doctor or patient to communicate with each other. Telemedicine presents doctors with a greater accessibility to patients. Availability of patients’ medical records in digital format for specialists to refer to, as and when required, is a major benefit offered by telemedicine. Telemedicine also effects time and money saving.

2. The convenience of wearables: From monitoring glucose level and ECG to DIY blood tests this can be performed easily by the patient with the help of modern mobile wearable devices. Once the data is monitored, it can be relayed to the doctor in real time. This data is then analyzed and monitored by the healthcare professionals to provide preventive medicine and suitable medical advise to the patient. It is life-saving.

3. Cloud platforms to store data: As per statistics, more than 83% of healthcare sector comprising of hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare organizations are currently using some form of cloud platform to store the immense data they receive. Hospitals, insurance companies, and doctors are now storing patient medical records in the cloud. The patient also has easy and quick access to his/her medical tests via email.

4. The importance of genomics: Experts in genomics strive to determine complete DNA sequences and perform genetic mapping to help understand disease. They are constantly working towards eradicating diseases or help in times of epidemics.

5. Genetic engineering: In modern medicine, genetic engineering is used to mass produce insulin, human growth hormones, for treating infertility, and the manufacture of vaccines and many more life saving drugs.

6. Social media: A lot many patients through various medical sites and online forums are able to seek information and research on their health condition and ailments. Also the search for a doctor or hospital best suited to the patient in his territory is influenced by online searches and social media posts. Online medical platforms prompt informed discussions between the doctor and patients.

7. The use of Artificial Intelligence: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used to detect and prevent life threatening diseases. Recent study published in Annals of Oncology, in 2018, showed AI could detect skin cancer better than doctors. AI predictive analysis has also provided solutions to improve patient outcome.

In times to come, more people will be using digital tools to seek diagnosis, video conference for ailments, email and WhatsApp for medications from physicians rather that scheduling and appointments.

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Gauging Social Media Strategies in Hospital Marketing

Gauging Social Media Strategies in Hospital Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

The study, by social media marketing company Convince & Convert, reviewed all public Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts made in February 2018 by 53 of the top hospitals in the United States. Convince & Convert used Rival IQ, a social media analytics company, for content analysis, reviewing more than 10,000 posts. Successful posts were chosen based on engagement rate, total engagements and types of engagements, such as likes and comments.

High-ranking Facebook posts, Instagram posts and tweets usually contained photos and told uplifting stories of successful patient outcomes, or they celebrated hospital staff.

Story First

“Hospitals, by definition, are replete with extraordinary stories,” says Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert. In social media outreach, it is essential to keep those stories front and center.

“The hospital has to take a back seat to the story,” Baer says. That’s what people react to in social media.”

For example, Indianapolis-based IU Health — one of the organizations studied — saw success in relating a story on Facebook about a car accident victim who was given only a 1 percent chance to live but survived after receiving care at the IU Health Trauma Unit. The post had more than 1,400 reactions, shares and comments on Facebook.

Baer theorizes that consumers find stories more engaging than other types of content, allowing a hospital to present its brand in a positive, informal way. Storytelling helps drive business to a facility over time. (See “Instagram Success in Hospital Storytelling” to identify a unique feature the platform offers for social media marketing.)

“You’re trying to create a kinship,” Baer says, “and you have to trust that kinship will equal desirable financial outcomes at some point in the future.”

Promoting Positivity

However, not all stories are created equal, explains Seth Bridges, founder of Rival IQ. Although effective posts vary from one social media platform to the next, one similarity arose from the study: People do not want to feel they’re being subjected to overt marketing.

“Posts about uncomfortable topics seem to not do as well on Facebook,” Bridges says. “In some of the lowest-engagement posts, the topics are prostate cancer screening, breast cancer screening, menopause, mammograms ... things that people would not like to think about or ... that may be vaguely uncomfortable.”

Social media, for many consumers, is a place of belonging and trust, and while the right marketing can be extremely effective, calling attention to it can be jarring.

“No one comes onto social media saying, ‘I wish I could just get a promotional ad for my local hospital,’” Baer says. “Sometimes, we still see businesses and hospitals making it a bit too much about [themselves] and not enough about the story.”

An Ongoing Process

The study concluded there is no one-size-fits-all formula for marketing success in social media. In part, Baer says, this is due to algorithmic changes on platforms.

“The social media algorithm changes frequently and without warning,” he says, “so what works in one particular snapshot in time may not work 30 days later.”

Bridges agrees, recommending hospitals research what works for them and their competitors.

“Your own data about the posts you’re doing is going to inform that [research],” he says, “and the only way to do that is to do the experiment [because] there’s so much variability.”

Baer urges hospitals to be nimble.

“Find your best story and tell it,” he says. “Then commit to routine and ritualized testing because you don’t know what’s going to work until you test it. You might think you do, but ... each post succeeds based on a different set of circumstances. You have to always be experimenting.”

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10 Tested Lead Generation Strategies for Your Medical Practice

10 Tested Lead Generation Strategies for Your Medical Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |

Good content has the potential to drive a significant amount of leads to your practice website. Content marketing presents a huge opportunity to create relationships and trust between your practice and potential patients.

Here are 10 of the most effective strategies to help you improve your lead-generation rates and for continued lead nurturing down the road.

1. Create an Impactful Landing Page: Potential patients visit your website to read content. But how can you make them stay for long and keep coming back? What page opens when traffic lands on your website? What kind of content do you offer at this stage? While the “About Us” page is ideal as a landing page, it will not do much as far as attracting leads for you. You may experience high bounce rates and low-return visitor rates.


Lead-generation landing pages have an even more specific purpose. If your website can draw and engage prospects, landing pages will turn them into leads. According to a survey from Ascend2, nearly 93 percent of respondents said improving conversion rates is one of the most important objectives of a landing page. A high-converting landing page generates leads faster than any other content on your website. Through your landing page, you can extend marketing offers, collect contact information from your site visitors and also understand engaged prospects.

2. Focus on Social Networks: In recent years, social networks have become a legitimate lead-generation channel. With Facebook advertising, Twitter cards and LinkedIn’s sponsored ads, social networks have come a long way in strengthening lead-generation campaigns. Driving targeted traffic to your practice website should be the core objective of using social networks. However, unless you have a large team to manage your social media marketing, it is a mistake to attempt to be present on every social network. Most healthcare marketers agree that it is important to implement a patient-centric approach when it comes to social media marketing efforts. A blanket approach is a good one to take. So if you can avoid it, do not push the same message out across all networks. It is critical to tailor your messages based on who your target audience are and what they expect from you.

3. Share Unique and Useful Content: Compelling content plays a significant role in generating leads. This includes the tools used to generate traffic, such as a blog, search engine optimization (SEO), paid ads and social networks. Creating compelling content is critical to establishing yourself as an expert in your specialty. When you publish valuable content that educates and entertains your patients, you earn their loyalty. It is easier to convert leads once you have gained their trust. Here are some of the ways useful content can generate leads:

  • Attracts target audience to your website.
  • Keeps website visitors engaged enough to provide their contact information, such as email ID.
  • Continues to keep leads engaged to eventually become paying patients.
  • Creates enough brand awareness to motivate visitors to call your office for an appointment.

4. Start a Blog: The top three goals of good content marketing are lead generation, thought leadership and brand awareness. This shows how crucial content marketing is for lead generation. That is because when you create unique and useful content, it has the possibility to go viral and be seen by potential patients, eventually attracting more leads. However, for the content strategy to work well, you should write your own blog. It may interest you to know that most healthcare marketers have their own blog. This is so they can attract their target audience who may end up becoming regular customers. Blogs are one of the most effective lead-generation tactics on the Internet. An updated and consistent blog can help you boost your search engine ranking and make it easier for potential patients to find you.


5. Leverage Email Marketing: Email marketing is one of the best sources for lead generation. Many medical practices turn to email marketing to generate leads as it has proved to be the most successful tactic over the years. Lead generation through email marketing is mainly dependent on how effectively you draft your message. Your email needs to capture the reader’s attention, provide relevant information, encourage interest and have an effective call-to-action. To achieve this, you must first start by building a compelling subject line. The subject line of your promotional email determines whether the potential patient is going to read your email and become a vital part of your email. Write the email’s subject line in a way that provides value, is relatable and is actionable. In addition, the subject line must be short and stand out from your lead’s cluttered mailbox.

6. Nurture Strong Relationships With Patients: Sometimes we get so engrossed in getting hold of what’s new that we forget what is already in front of us. If you are using your practice’s resources to attract new patients, you need to spare some resources for your current patients. You can consider reversing the scheduling process by following up with patients for a new appointment slot. You can also send email reminders before scheduled checkups to ask your patients to post an online review for your practice. Similarly, if you have prescribed medication to a patient, you must follow up and ask if the treatment plan is working or if the patient is experiencing side effects. These small steps can mean a lot to a patient as it shows that you care about their well-being, which will help keep them around for a long time.

7. Encourage Online Patient Reviews: Online reviews are one of the most efficient ways for growing new leads and attracting potential patients to your practice. You must encourage your existing patients to share their feedback through an online review. You can do this by sending a follow-up email thanking the patient for his or her visit and encouraging them to review your practice online. You can also offer discounts or free services to motivate patients for posting online reviews for your practice. With the patient’s permission, you can also make these reviews public by sharing them on your practice website. It will not only help improve lead generation and strengthen patient relationships but will also get your name out there.

8. Deliver Unmatched Patient Service: According to recent survey on what motivates customers to make recommendations, a whopping 93 percent of respondents said “a positive experience with the brand” is the most important aspect. A positive brand experience makes customers happy, and happy customers are the most potent marketing assets you can have. Happy patients are a powerful lead-generation channel. They will talk about their experience with your brand anywhere and make prospects interested in your brand. There is no way your existing patients will refer others to your practice if they are not satisfied with your attitude and services. You have to show real interest in your existing patients. Your bedside manner and the look and feel of your practice are very important. You must be able to communicate with your patients and make your presence positive and uplifting.


9. Do Not Underestimate Video Content: Human beings process visual content 60,000 times faster than text content. In addition, our Internet-dominated lives are increasing our appetite for quick and easy visual content. Therefore, visual content should be an important component of your lead-generation strategy. While informative and shareable infographics are a great way to visually present complex information, the popularity of video continues to skyrocket. Videos are a surefire way to stay ahead of the marketing curve. Educational, how-to and FAQ videos are simple to create and provide value to your target audience.

10. Educate Your Patients With eBooks and White Papers: Offering free white papers and eBooks is a great way to create email lists to better segment your target audience. According to healthcare marketing experts, you can do this if you provide something of value to your potential patients. They will then give you their respect, time, loyalty and their business. Targeting your eBooks and white papers to the target audience is important and can be done in various ways, including Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Groups or Twitter hashtags.


Lead generation plays a role in every practice’s marketing strategy. Think about how many websites you have visited recently that you will never return to again. Not only did those practices fail to capture your attention, they also failed to reconnect with you in the future.

Generating high-quality leads is an integral step toward growing your medical practice. The more prospects drop into your sales funnel, the more leads you will produce and the more paying patients you will gain. You must remember: In order to attract good leads, you must be looking in the right place. Moreover, the more active you are in the process, the more success you will have. If there is one “secret” to producing qualified leads, it is to be more active.

At Practice Builders, we know how to attract and generate new leads for medical practices. In fact, we have a whole team of experts who can help you earn the trust of potential patients. Contact us today to design a unique lead-generation strategy for your medical practice.

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Facebook's head of health research on the role of social media in healthcare delivery

Facebook's head of health research on the role of social media in healthcare delivery | Social Media and Healthcare |

Though Facebook has not been as vocal as other tech giants about its forays into healthcare, Freddy Abnousi, MD, the social media platform's head of health research, recently discussed how Facebook's 15 years' worth of data can be used for innovation and analysis in healthcare.

Dr. Abnousi told STAT that Facebook's health initiatives "really focus on public health evidence-base-driven interventions and analyses." The company's biggest offerings in healthcare, he said, will come from "understanding social media variables in a way that are accessible."

He explained, "If you really want to make an impact on health outcomes, the literature shows that you should at least try to understand social and behavioral variables in a more actionable way."

According to Dr. Abnousi, Facebook allows healthcare providers to get to know patients more thoroughly than they might in a clinical setting. "It is super interesting to me that we have a way — 'we' being Americans — to connect and reach each other. And so I think that is an interesting way to think about the 'alternative clinic visit,' if you will," he said.

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Doctors worry as anti-vaccination messages escalate from social media misinformation to personal threats

As anti-vaccination groups fight back against public health campaigns to promote immunization in the face of measles outbreaks, some Canadian doctors say the battle has escalated beyond social media platforms to personal threats and attacks.

"The pitchforks are coming out," said Dr. Anna Wolak, a family physician in Vancouver who has publicly spoken out on social media about the importance of vaccination — both as a doctor and the mother of three children.  

Although most patients and many people in the community have been supportive, Wolak said she has also been subjected to furious comments — both in person and through social media.  

"Patients have come in and told me that they can't believe I would deliberately poison my children," Wolak said in an email to CBC News.

"Some of those have threatened to report me to the [provincial regulatory] college because they consider me a threat to children."

Promoting false claims

Anti-vaccination groups promote false claims linking vaccines to childhood illnesses or injury. Some of those beliefs stem from a research paper in the 1990s that wrongly suggested vaccines could cause autism. That study was debunked years ago and the author stripped of his medical licence. Other adverse reactions to vaccines have been proven to be very rare.

Wolak worries about what people with anti-vaccination views will say in front of her children. She remembers an especially hateful comment someone made at an event she was attending. 

"[They said] I really hope that your kids get a vaccine injury and then you'll know exactly what sort of poison you're talking about," she recalled.  

Although those interactions have been hurtful, Wolak said she has not received any "overt threats" of physical harm — something that has happened in recent months to at least two other Canadian doctors.  

I WILL make sure you NEVER support vaccines EVER AGAIN!- Email threat to two Canadian doctors

One of the recipients of the threats is in Toronto. The other is in Eastern Canada. They say they have both received a steady stream of emails ranging from harassment to threats — about 200 of which came from the same email address — since the fall. 

CBC News has agreed to protect the identities of both doctors because they are afraid they will be the target of further threats. 

One email sent to both of them said: "Come at my son with another vaccine and I WILL make sure you NEVER support vaccines EVER AGAIN! This email isn't even CLOSE TO LISTENING TO ME IN PERSON!"

"Signed, A Momma With Claws OUT!"

The eastern Canadian doctor received additional emails and voicemails. The doctor said they include threats of killing and dismemberment.

'Deeply unpleasant'

That doctor has received angry emails before from anti-vaccination advocates and ignored them, but said these were different.

"These were not trivial threats," the doctor said. "I can't change the science ... and to be unable to stand up and tell what the science is and not have somebody threaten you in a very nasty way is deeply unpleasant." 

The Toronto-based public health doctor said the emails she received were upsetting — but the fact that people are trying to silence those promoting life-saving immunization is even more concerning.   

"It's not about me," she said. "It's emblematic of the larger system under attack. It's putting kids at risk."

Dr. Gigi Osler, president of the Canadian Medical Association, says threats against doctors by people opposed to vaccination are 'not acceptable' and says it's vital for Canada's physicians to keep educating people about vaccine effectiveness and safety. (Dennis Cleary/CBC)

The threats to both doctors were reported to police.

Both physicians said police told them the IP addresses for the emails were in the U.S.

CBC News contacted Toronto Police — which confirmed a report had been filed — as well as the RCMP and the municipal police force in Eastern Canada where the death threats occurred. None of them would confirm whether there is an ongoing investigation or provide any details. 

There are more established anti-vaccination groups in the U.S. than in Canada. The most prominent organizations characterize themselves as advocating for "vaccine choice" or representing people who have been "vaccine injured," rather than being against vaccinations.  

Recently, measles outbreaks have prompted some government officials in the U.S. to call for mandatory vaccinations, which has enraged anti-vaccination groups, prompting rallies and increased outcries on social media.  

Demonstrators at the 'March for Medical Freedom' in February protested a bill that would eliminate non-medical exemptions from vaccination in Washington state. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters)

American physicians, including pediatricians, have received threats from anti-vaccination believers, although the American Academy of Pediatrics was unable to confirm how many cases they are aware of. 

The goal is to shut you up.- Dr. Paul Offit , pediatrician, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Pediatrician Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said he has received harassing and threatening emails for years, ranging from messages calling him evil and accusing him of conspiring with "big pharma" to death threats.  

"The goal is to shut you up," he said. "And it certainly works. There are a number of people who choose not to stand up in this arena because they know that it means that they're going to be personally targeted." 

Offit continues to put himself in that difficult position, he said, because the consequences of children not being vaccinated against preventable diseases, including measles, is worse. 

"We're getting to the point now where children could once again die from measles," he said. "You just have to do the right thing."

Del Bigtree, a prominent anti-vaccine activist in the U.S., told CBC News he would "absolutely ... discourage any sort of aggressive talk or violence of any kind."

Bigtree also said he didn't believe the threats would have come from anyone who was affiliated with his movement. 

Offit doesn't believe anti-vaccination groups are making threats against doctors as part of a co-ordinated strategy — but he does think that they create the fervour that may set certain individuals off. 

"They just whip up the base, you know? They use these really mean-spirited terms, they make it personal. They directed that, essentially, by setting you up as an evil person," he said. "But I don't think it's an organized effort."

Threats 'not acceptable'

Regardless of where the threats against the Canadian doctors originate, they are "extremely concerning and a matter for the police," said Dr. Gigi Osler, president of the Canadian Medical Association.  

"Threats to personal safety for anybody is not acceptable and in particular towards doctors who are trying to speak out on behalf of the health of their patients and the health of Canadians."

Dr. Nadia Alam, a family physician and outgoing president of the Ontario Medical Association, worries that threats against doctors will silence important conversations about vaccination. (Ontario Medical Association)

Dr. Nadia Alam, a family physician in Georgetown, Ont., and outgoing president of the Ontario Medical Association, said she's concerned about the possible chilling effect such threats could have on getting accurate information about vaccines to parents. 

"I ... worry that this may impact physicians from speaking out.  And it shouldn't. Because at the end of the day, educating the public is a core part of our job," she said. 

"Parents in my clinic are more confused than ever about the risks and benefits [about vaccines]. And they're coming in with information that's frankly incorrect."

The Toronto-based public health doctor who received the threats shares Alam's concern, noting that the return of measles after the disease was eliminated through vaccination in many European countries is "horrifying."

"Easily we could end up in the same boat," she said. 

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As anti-vaccination groups fight back against public health campaigns to promote immunization in the face of measles outbreaks, some Canadian doctors say the battle has escalated beyond social media platforms to personal threats and attacks.
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The Innovative Approach to Patient Activation

The Innovative Approach to Patient Activation | Social Media and Healthcare |

What if Amazon was in charge of patient activation? Personalized, data-driven healthcare solutions would up-end patient activation as we know it. Some biopharma marketers are already doing this today, leveraging social networks to anticipate and address patient needs proactively. Here’s the formula for how they are doing it.

First, think about what Amazon does right after you’ve put something in your cart — like, for instance, band-aids. You see this message: “Customers who bought this item also bought… Neosporin, Children’s Tylenol” etc.. We at MyHealthTeams do something similar in chronic health.

For example, when one of our MyMSTeam members posts about her frustration with memory loss and concentration problems, we automatically surface relevant information that has proven popular among other members facing similar challenges.

First, a member — “SuzanneM from San Jose” — posts about the fact that she’s having a hard time remembering things, finding the right words or concentrating.

We then automatically surface for her relevant information that other members facing similar cognitive challenges have found useful. We call this a “Smart Recommendation.”

Which makes it easy for her to quickly get to content that addresses her concern and is likely to inspire action. In this example, that content is from the “MS & Cognition” Resource Centerwe created in partnership with Biogen after research among MyMSTeam members revealed that cognitive dysfunction is a top symptom impacting quality of life and often starts early in the progression of the disease.

We introduced Smart Recommendations with select partners in our social networks earlier this year to personalize patient education and inspire action. They are “smart” in that they are served up contextually based on what a member shares in her post or profile. They are “recommendations” in that we are surfacing information (not medical advice) that others going through the same thing have found helpful. It’s the power of community at work. This is a new way to drive activation.

Fueled by natural language processing and machine learning, Smart Recommendations are possible because our members share information, resources and support every day — for 7 years now. With millions of members, 90% of whom are diagnosed patients, across our 32 growing social networks, we see both the challenges people living with a chronic condition face and the information that proves most useful to them — at a personal level and at scale.

This enables our pharma partners to approach Patient Activation differently and truly empower diagnosed patients with timely and useful information.

The click-through rates on Smart Recommendations are through the roof — north of 20%! This shows how hungry patients are for directly relevant, objective information to help them manage their condition. Today’s healthcare consumer is empowered and motivated to play an active role in managing her health. Pharma companies looking to activate patients don’t have to rely on just the doctor channel anymore — in fact, they can’t. By engaging patients where they are in social networks, these companies have started to deliver more of an Amazon-like consumer experience.

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Facebook Launches New Privacy Features for Health Groups, Topics

Facebook Launches New Privacy Features for Health Groups, Topics | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media giant Facebook is attempting to right the ship when it comes to how it handles sensitive data with its launch of a new health support tool designed to help users find the right groups to address their health needs and concerns.

Unveiled at Facebook’s annual F8 conference, founder Mark Zuckerberg opened the event with a keynote centered around privacy and how the company intends to make a “fundamental shift in how we build products and run our company.”

“Different communities have different needs, so we’re introducing new features for different types of groups,” Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook app said during the conference. “Through new Health Support groups, members can post questions and share information without their name appearing on a post.”


Group members will be able to send questions and posts to the health group administrators, who’ll then be able to post those questions on their behalf to the group. The designation of “health group” is a new function and likely comes in response to recent reports that criticized how the app handles health data.

In a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, a group of health privacy experts accused Facebook of misleading users about its privacy policies – even in groups with a “closed” designation. Made public in February, the 43-page complaint alleged the social media platform ““deceptively solicited patients to use its 'Groups' product to share personal health information about their health issues.”

The group also accused the company of failing to protect the sensitive health data uploaded by its users, which was then exposed to the public. Meanwhile, a Wall Street Journal report found several apps share sensitive user data with Facebook, often without user consent.

In response, Facebook is currently under investigation by the New York Attorney General who called the practice “an outrageous abuse of privacy.”

While a recent report from WEGO Health found that 98 percent of the 400 surveyed users still use Facebook, the new privacy features may not be enough for privacy and security leaders.

In December, Carolyn Petersen, Mayo Clinic Global Business Solutions Senior Editor, and Christoph Mehmann, MD, Professor for Biomedical Informatics and Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University called for transparent privacy policies for healthcare data on social media platforms.

To Petersen and Mehmann, the revelations about Facebook’s handling of user data have left “individuals who use social media feeling betrayed, bereft, violated, and concerned about how to safely and appropriately use social media to support health-related goals and build community.”

Alongside privacy policies, a federal, comprehensive privacy protection system and data regulation and oversight is needed.

“Social media companies that use security practices to shield themselves from the exposure of their privacy-violating practices, are vigorously fighting these initiatives,” they said. “With the passage of legislation prohibiting deceptive practices and the establishment of patient/consumer education campaigns … patients will be in a position to use social media for their benefit, rather than primarily for the gain of profit-focused platforms.”

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Nova Scotia medical clinic posts data for ‘no show’ missed appointments on social media 

Nova Scotia medical clinic posts data for ‘no show’ missed appointments on social media  | Social Media and Healthcare |

A medical receptionist at a Halifax-area clinic has turned to social media to highlight the role “no-show” patients play in a health care system already struggling with a lack of family physicians.

On Wednesday, a receptionist from the Ravines Medical Family Practice and Walk In Clinic in Bedford, N.S. posted statistics she’d gathered during the months of March and April. It was intended to highlight the number of people who, instead of cancelling their appointments, simply didn’t show up.

Two signs at a Halifax-area medical clinic show how many missed appointments there were over a two-month period at the family practice part of the clinic. The signs were posted to Facebook this week by an employee with the comment “& this is not part of the health care crisis ?!”  (FACEBOOK PHOTO)

The post was captioned “& this is not part of the health care crisis?!” along with a photo of two pieces of paper on which she’d printed statistics that she posted on the clinic’s door. It noted that in March, there were 83 no-shows, amounting to a total of 26.41 missed hours of appointments. For the month of April, there were 108 no-shows, or 36 missed hours of appointments.

By Thursday afternoon, that post had been shared on Facebook more than 350 times. A receptionist who answered the phone at the Ravines clinic said although no one was available Thursday to publicly comment on the post, the data had been collected by an employee named Ashley. In her Facebook post, Ashley Dawn said the numbers were reflective of the family practice part of the clinic, not the walk-in.

Some Facebook users responded in disbelief that anyone would miss a hard-to-get doctor’s appointment. “You’d think people who have physicians would take every second they can get. If not, drop them and take on someone who really needs a family dr,” wrote Sarah Pye.


Others said the process of cancelling appointments was more trouble than it was worth since some doctor’s offices did not return calls or have answering machines.


It is bad enough that you have to call many times to get (an) appointment and I don’t know about you, but if I have to call 30 times to cancel ... I am not going to keep trying,” wrote Anne Barnes in response to the post.


The president of Doctors Nova Scotia said in an interview that missed appointments do tend to put “a fair amount of strain” on the medical system.

“It varies depending on what location or what type of practice, but we definitely see high rates of missed appointments in a variety of settings including family medicine and specialty services,” Dr. Tim Holland said in an interview. “These are missed opportunities for both the patient who missed the appointment and for a patient that could have taken the opportunity.”

According to the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s latest ‘Need A Family Practice Data’ report, as of April 1 there were still 51,802 Nova Scotians on its waiting list without a family doctor.

Holland said the statistics cited by the Ravines clinic left him “disappointed but not surprised.” While he also deals with missed appointments at his own family practice, he cautions it’s important to recognize there are sometimes extenuating circumstances.

“There are a lot of barriers sometimes for patients to make these appointments in terms of having to arrange child care or be able to get the transportation to that appointment or even just being able to have the organizational skills to be able to log that into an appropriate scheduler,” Holland said.

“There are factors that can often contribute to that and so it’s important for us in the medical field to try to do what we can to try and help break down a lot of those barriers.”

But Holland said patients also have a key role to play when it comes to dealing with these “gaps and challenges” in the health care system. He said patients need to be proactive when it comes to cancelling appointments.

“There’s a long waitlist of patients waiting for that cancelled appointment, so recognize that there is another person that could benefit from it. Set reminders for yourself whether it be on your smartphone or putting an appointment on your refrigerator,” he said.

“This can go a long way to help make the entire health care system more efficient in terms of making sure that we’re maximizing the resources that we do have available.

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‘It matters for everyone’: ACG’s social media push promotes diversity, inclusion

‘It matters for everyone’: ACG’s social media push promotes diversity, inclusion | Social Media and Healthcare |

Much like medicine in general, the field of gastroenterology is largely not representative of the patient population to which it provides care. That is why the American College of Gastroenterology is launching #DiversityinGI, a social media campaign designed to promote inclusion in gastroenterology and motivate more people with diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in the field.

The effort is being spearheaded by Sophie Balzora, MD, FACG, of the NYU School of Medicine and chair of the ACG’s Public Relations Committee, and Darrell Gray II, MD, MPH, FACG, of The Ohio State University College of Medicine and chair of the ACG’s Committee on Minority Affairs & Cultural Diversity. They started brainstorming the idea for the campaign at last year’s ACG Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

“We had the idea of getting the entire college involved and to run this campaign on social media,” Balzora told Healio Gastroenterology and Liver Disease. “Social media has become a fantastic opportunity to grow an idea really quickly and have things disseminate at a fast pace.”

Gray told Healio Gastroenterology and Liver Disease that diversity helps drive excellence, as well as innovation in the field and even impacts patient outcomes. As the campaign brings diversity to the forefront for the ACG, Gray said they hope it also inspires other professional organizations.

“It matters not only for patients in underserved communities, but it matters for everyone,” he said. “As it pertains to quality of care that is delivered to diverse populations, it matters that the providers are also from diverse populations.”

It is not just about race either, Balzora said. It is also about everything from religion and socioeconomic status to diversity of thought, cultural competency and including people with different interests.

“What we know is that with a more diverse medical community, patients are benefited by that,” she said. “The more diverse the medical community, the better patients do, the more adherent they might be to medications, to visits and to being less reticent to tell doctors about things that are ailing them.”

One of the main objectives of the campaign is to enrich the pipeline of trainees and providers from underrepresented populations. Part of that is engaging with learners and showing them what is possible.

“If you can see it, you can be it,” Gray said.

“That doesn’t just start with residents and fellows. It really starts in childhood in our elementary, middle and high schools.”

Gray is part of a group that does yearly high school visits during the ACG Annual Meeting that help promote visibility among young people and show them there is a path to success. The ACG also has a summer scholars’ program to provide opportunities for underrepresented minorities to engage in research and clinical shadowing.

“We have to ensure that diversity and inclusion is a pillar of our professional organizations,” Gray said. “It has to be a priority in order for it to be acted upon. I commend the ACG for taking this stance.”

As the #DiversityinGI campaign gets underway, the ACG is encouraging doctors to use the hashtag to share their thoughts on how they envision diversity and inclusion. They also plan to promote articles from the literature and news stories that help raise visibility.

Even though the campaign started, Balzora and Gray said they have already seen the hashtag spread as far as Europe and the Middle East. Balzora knows it is just one step in the process, but she hopes to get more doctors to join social media and take part in the campaign so it can grow and reach even more of an audience.

“It’s about bringing awareness to the fact that patients come from all sorts of backgrounds, and people need to be seen as whole people and not just thrown into different buckets or groups,” she said. “Once we recognize that, that calls for a more culturally competent physician and more culturally competent care.” – by Alex Young


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Every doctor needs to monitor their online reviews

Every doctor needs to monitor their online reviews | Social Media and Healthcare |

We’ve had several articles from various sources over the years on grooming your social media. Most of them advise paying attention to your physician ratings, but not acting on anything specifically. “Don’t engage” is the mantra. Let’s take a fresh look at this.

Like probably everyone in medicine, I have my share of physician rating site reviews. Most are good, some are bad, but all of them I pay attention to. The good ones are tiny, tiny carrots in a world driven by ratings, social media recognition, and (yes, I will say it) the need for acceptance. Like it or not, this is the world we live in.

Bad reviews? Those are the ones that keep me up at night. If you care about your patients, you care about your reputation. Unlike a restaurant or another business, a bad physician review cannot be impersonal. When someone writes a hostile review, it’s directed at me by name. My children could read that. You can tell me to be more thick-skinned, but I honestly feel if it didn’t affect me, it would mean there was something wrong with me. We, too, are human. The last time I checked, that was a trait patients felt we should have more of.

Responding with facts is a HIPAA violation. This is the thing that really ties our hands. Any restaurant can post a rebuttal to a bad review, stating facts, calling witnesses, or detailing how the party was drunk or offensive. Sometimes, these fact-based rebuttals win the audience over if they are smartly written and equally scathing. People love drama, and this is the backbone of how things go viral on social media. But drama is not part of any good medical practice. Time and time again, articles from sites like KevinMD, our professional societies, and maybe even your malpractice carrier, advise you not to engage in a hostile back and forth. So, mostly these reviews go without response. We live in a world where we are innocent until proven guilty. But we also know that, practically speaking, silence is condemning.

Anonymous reviews allow people to post anything, without having the ability to check the facts of the case. What’s the goal in checking the facts, especially when you really can’t act on them? Maybe only to make yourself feel better. However, at the end of the day, that might be the best you can achieve. I had a review that I spent only five minutes with a patient, when my notes show four paragraphs of detailed handwritten summary and plan. I have a review that went up the day the patient called to the office and yelled about her bill. I had a review from an encounter ten years prior where literally every complaint posted was completely erroneous. I only know this because the reviews were not anonymous or I was able to identify the accuser. If they were completely anonymous, as most rating sites are, I’d be completely out of luck in even making myself feel better about it.

Any comment will get published, and it is up to someone to flag these. What if no one flags something completely offensive? Is that possible? Ask yourself how many times you have seen a video of someone getting beat up on the subway, while everyone stands around videotaping. Are these the same people we can count on to flag an offensive comment? Yes, the following rating was promptly removed after we flagged it. But the point is, it was actually published.

Is it time to change our approach? For years we have heard that we should not engage in dialogue or try to have even the most blatantly false reviews removed. Each article repeats what the prior one said. Is there any evidence for this approach? Or is it like all the old medical “truths” we have seen fall by the wayside over the years? One can see why not to engage — no one wants to go viral as the Goliath threatening poor David, the maligned patient. But is there a way to address this on a professional and respectful level?

What I would like to see:

1. Our professional societies should stand up to anonymous ratings sites. Someone should advocate for us here, as I can’t think of anywhere else this type of review is allowed. I’m not saying patients shouldn’t have a voice, but total anonymity is an extreme where doctors take all the abuse with no recourse.

2. Our hands being tied by HIPAA puts us at a disadvantage compared to any other type of service provider. We need a unique rating solution that takes this into account. Fair is fair, and the current setup is not it.

3. Pay-to-play review websites are acting beyond First Amendment rights when they say: “We can’t promise we can remove your bad rating, but sign up for our managed service, and we will see what we can do.” This is blackmail pure and simple. I won’t name names, whine or Yelp about it. But this should not be allowed.

4. If you are able to identify the reviewer, contact them and ask them to take your discussions offline. I have had success with two reviews completely out from left field (not counting the above; that one deserves no discussion). Both of these responded mostly because they felt they were posting anonymously. Both were shocked that I could figure out who they were, and a nicely worded letter or two got their reviews removed.

5. Look, we are doctors. We don’t run on vague impressions. It would be good to see some data on the accuracy of physician reviews, and the results on means for handling them. Don’t just tell us to ignore them. That’s not possible for most people, especially when we are told to pay attention in the first place.

Physician reviews help patients make informed decisions. However, the current system is too likely to allow disparaging and false reviews to get published. This, in turn, can hurt good doctors, and keep patients away who might otherwise benefit from their input. The system needs to change, and so does our ability to respond to inflammatory reviews.

Manoj K. Mehta is a gastroenterologist.

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