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Articles and Discussions on the intersection of Social Media and Healthcare.
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Best Medical Marketing Tips of 2014

Best Medical Marketing Tips of 2014 | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

A strong medical marketing strategy should differentiate from strategies of other industries. The differences don’t need to be drastic, in fact, the foundation should be fairly similar, however, medical marketing comes along with own set of industry challenges, standards and competition which makes it require a holistic, custom strategy that encompasses the important elements explained in this article.

We reached out to medical professionals and other medical marketing professionals to find out the best techniques for marketing a medical practice or service

 

Online Marketing

 

Online marketing is broad form of marketing that may or may not incorporate a wide range of services or techniques. In general, medical practices have a lot to gain with a strong online marketing strategy. It’s helpful to think of online marketing as a holistic form of marketing that strengthens your medical practice’s online presence and ultimately attracts new patients.

Daniel Weinbach, owner and VP of healthcare marketing firm, The Weinbach Group, suggests that medical professionals capitalize on the efficiency and ubiquity of online marketing with search advertising and a top-notch website.

Weinbach also stresses the importance of tracking. It’s important to know what parts of your online strategy are working and which parts need to be adjusted.

“Track everything. I suggest using trackable phone numbers in all ads, and documenting and measuring everything that comes in on those phone lines, says Rick Schaefer, M.D. of Knee Specialists of Wisconsin, “I also suggest a whisper tone in the receptionist’s ear so they know in advance of answering where the call is coming from. That tip alone, the measuring, will save thousands of dollars by cutting out the inefficient ad campaigns and building up the successful ones.”

 

Mobile

It’s also key to stay up-to-date. Ebony T. Grimsley Owner/Creative Director of Above Promotions Companyrecommends that medical practices jump on the mobile bandwagon and invest in and use a mobile text messaging service.

Medical facilities can use a text messaging service to notify individuals waiting for an appointment when there is an opening.  “It’s is a great appointment reminder tool,” says Grimsley. Patients can also be notified via text if a doctor is running behind schedule, she explains.

There’s also appears to be a gap between medical technology and marketing technology used at medical facilities. For such a technologically-advanced industry, they may be skimping on the marketing advancements.

Kari Coughlon, Sr. Account Director at COHN, explains, “Hospitals are always at the forefront of medical technology, yet they seem to let their marketing technologies fall by the wayside, especially their website and any innovations in e-communication.”

Her tip: “Make sure your website is optimized for reading on a cell phone and allows visitors to click through on phone numbers. Allow for online appointment scheduling and wait times if possible. Highlight any features that would be necessary while on the go first, such as directions, maps, hours, parking info, phone numbers, etc.”

 

SEO

A large part of online marketing is search engine optimization or SEO. SEO can be especially successful for local medical professionals who are targeting specific suburbs or neighborhoods.

Thomas Stern, Senior VP of Client Services at ZOG Digital, encourages his medical practice clients to utilize local SEO by submitting complete and accurate information to directory listings and creating web pages dedicated to each target location. He also recommends optimizing webpage content for specific symptoms.

“Symptoms as a keyword strategy helps reach consumers in the very moments that they are searching for these topics. By providing the most relevant content at the right time, medical professionals have a huge opportunity to gain credibility in front of those prospective customers,” says Stern.

 

Content

Content has quickly become the most important element of online marketing. Quality content can strengthen every part of a strategic online strategy. Medical marketing needs to incorporate strong, quality content in order to compete in today’s market.

“Create content that is unique and valuable to your target audience. Be thorough and provide and interesting perspective or insight”, says Ricky Shockley III, Owner and Marketing Director of Shockley Marketing, “If you can establish your presence online through content

marketing, it will benefit your SEO efforts, your brand value, your public

perception and so much more.”

Adding a blog to your site is a great way to keep fresh content on your site (which search engines love) and attract new patients.

Tara Adams, owner and CEO of Adams Edge Marketing is keen on the power of content.

“Blogs, guest blogs, and an Evergreen Content area or News section to your website and social

media are all great areas for you to explain to your target audience why you are the expert in this area, why they should come to you,” says Adams, “All of this content will be available for long after you’ve written it and it can be working for you, driving traffic to your website and ultimately to your phone number with sales for the foreseeable future.” Well said.

 

Social media

Believe it or not, social media is actually a quite promising form of marketing for the medical industry. Plastic surgeons and dermatologists can get visits from showing ‘before and after’ photos on Pinterest or Facebook. Many medical professionals advertise specials or new services on Facebook or Twitter.

Advertising on social media is becoming increasingly popular and efficient. Better yet, it’s constantly improving; offering advertisers invaluable insight into their target audience’s behavior and interests.

“With Facebook advertising, (medical) practices can market pediatrics to local moms and dads by targeting people of that ‘new parent’ age in a 25 mile area of the hospital with an affinity for Huggies, Babies R Us and online parenting communities,” says, Marc Frechette, Digital Marketing Manager at wedü.

Social media marketing can be an effective way to increase engagement among existing patients and attract new patients if implemented correctly. User engagement doesn’t just happen, it has to be earned which takes time, trust and high-quality posts.

“Be active with your online presence. Use social media to engage with your

target market and demonstrate your expertise,” say Shockley.

 

A Strong Message

 

Messaging is a crucial part of any brand’s marketing strategy. In the medical field, it can make or break your practice. Your message needs to resonate with your target audience and differentiate your practice from the competition.

Amy Baxter, M.D.,  CEO MMJ Labs, stresses the importance of understanding the patient’s mindset.

“Patients’ number one reason for going to emergency departments and for not returning

to a physician are the same: pain. Focus on solving patients’ problems, (as opposed to focusing on why you’re the leader and the best),” says Baxter.

As a doctor, it may be hard to put yourself in the patient’s shoes but it’s critical to appreciate the concerns of your target audience in order to attract them.

“Since medical school is great at teaching doctors to do what they have to do despite pain, part of marketing to physicians is re-sensitizing them to what matters to patients. Tell patients you care

about pain,” says Weinbach.

Clint White, President of WiT Media suggests focusing on service, relationships and trust as opposed to products or rates in your messaging.

“Your company’s messaging has to be organic to your goals and values as an organization, otherwise, patient’s won’t fall for it and employees won’t adhere to it,” says White.

Gabe Stalin, Executive Assistant at Small World Health, offers a great example of a strong message that’s rooted in company values: selling a healthier lifestyle (not the product) is always the best.

“We market all-natural anti-depressant products, but, we believe that the best way to fight feelings of depression is to live well. So, we focus our marketing on these things – telling people who suffer from depression to try and do those things so they don’t need our product,” says Stalin, “While this sounds a bit counterproductive, we’ve found it highly successful, because, well, people find us because they’re already looking for help. Generally people don’t eat well, rest enough, or exercise enough – and they want something to close the gap (enter our product line).”

Another important part of messaging is branding. Branding is especially important in the medical industry because of the length or non-immediate conversion cycle.

Coughlon explains, “Many medical treatments are optional or as-needed, not an everyday or impulse purchase, so directly marketing these services in a timely and ongoing manner can be difficult and expensive. A more effective approach is to stay top of mind using multiple touch points, in addition to traditional marketing.

Her tip: Position your staff as medical experts at conferences and in the press, opening them up to interviews and commentaries following newsworthy stories. Volunteer your doctors to attend popular events that align with your demographics, where marketing of the event is already taken care of, such as sports medicine and physical therapy sessions at an annual marathon.

This leads us to the next Medical Marketing Tip…

 

Word of Mouth

 

Just because we live in the digital age, doesn’t mean there’s no place for tradition marketing. Referrals and word-of-mouth marketing are more effective than ever and we can use digital technology to make them even stronger.

“Word of mouth is also huge for a medical practice. We provide great physical therapy. Our patients then tell their family and friends about us (again building awareness and trust) and it slowly creates a snowball effect of referrals. We help it along by asking for testimonials and

reviews and making sure we go above and beyond with our current patients,” says Tim Murphy ofMotionWorks Physical Therapy.

 

Better yet, get recommend by a publication or recognized by an award!

“By offering really great physical therapy, my wife was named the Wisconsin Physical Therapist of the Year award. We got excellent press coverage in our local paper from the

award and that really helped build awareness and trust at the same time,” says Murphy.

More tradional, friendly tips:

“Use your phone in an unusual way: Call after the appointment

to follow up and see how they are doing and thank them for choosing your

practice. This little act of appreciation can pay in big dividends in

referrals,” says Wendy Kenney, President of 23 Kazoos Marketing and PR.

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Social media as a scientific research tool

Social media as a scientific research tool | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

At the 2014 ScienceOnlineTogether conference, I will be moderating a session focusing on how to use social media as a scientific research tool (2:30 P.M. on Friday, February 28th in room 3).  The hashtag is #ScioResearch , so be sure to follow along, and I’ll make a Storify afterwards. This post is primarily intended to be a source of background information for participants in my session, though feel free to read, share and ask questions in the comments if you are not planning on participating in my session.

ScienceOnline community members understand the value of social media for collaborating with colleagues and communicating science to the public, but few think of the incredible resource that these tools are for scientific research. Hundreds of millions of people all over the world are constantly sharing their experiences and opinions in a format that is public, archived, searchable, and accessible, giving researchers access to this enormous dataset without the expense or logisitical difficulties involved in organizing a large-scale survey or series of focus groups. To use a technical term, for many types of scientific research, social media and “big data” is what is called “a freakin’ gold mine.”

Below are a few examples of how social media can be used for scientific research.

Public healthSocial media can be used to track the spread of diseases, as well as public attitudes towards available treatments.  People use social media to share their personal experiences related to a disease (i.e. I was diagnosed with H1N1/ “swine flu”), which can allow researchers to track it’s spread. People also use social media to express their opinion towards treatments, valuable data which can allow us to refine public health policy. Bonus: this paper includes a flu-related joke that was popular on twitter during the time of H1n1.

Figure 4 from Chew and Eysenbach 2010, showing a correlation between the number of people tweeting about their experiences with H1N1 and the best available data on how common H1N1 was at the time

Public policySocial media can monitor public attitudes towards government policies, and how they are shaped by breaking news events. For example, by analyzing the content of tweets about nuclear power made by U.S. residents in the days following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, researchers were able to determine how current events influence people’s perceptions of the risk associated with nuclear energy. They also studied what types of information spread most rapidly about this disaster.

Figure 1 from Binder et al. 2012., showing the number of tweets about nuclear power mentioning the associated risks over time.

Geology:  Social media can be used to track events such as earthquakes. When people experience a natural disaster like an earthquake, they are likely to tweet about it. An algorithm was developed to estimate the origin of the earthquake based on the frequency of tweets in different geographic areas, and it was remarkably similar to data generated by geologists.

Figure 9 from Sakaki et al. 2010, showing how close the actual earthquake center (red X) is to what was estimated by tweets (green crosses)

Economics: Social media can be used to predict economic trends. Studying the mood of twitter users on a given day can provide insight into the national mood, which is known to affect stock market trends.

Fisheries science (no paper yet, unpublished data from my own work). Many ocean stakeholders are active online communicators, including fishers and fisher advocacy organizations, scientists, conservation activists and NGOs. Comparing how they discuss conservation threats and proposed policy solutions can provide valuable insight into how we can effectively resolve these problems. For example, fisheries scientists and technical experts have proposed a series of 10 basic fisheries management policies to conserve and manage shark populations (outlined here). However, a content analysis of tweets by conservation activists shows a much higher focus on other policy solutions, differences which can have a major impact on what policies actually get enacted.

The right-most column is “any of the 10 solutions for sustainable fisheries management outlined in the International Plan of Action for Sharks”

In the session I’m moderating, we’ll discuss examples of social media being used for scientific research, as well as advantages and disadvantages of this tool and strategies for success. I hope to see many of you there!


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Social media help sought after medical emergencies

Social media help sought after medical emergencies | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

When Bobbie Pottorff’s stepson Joshua was diagnosed with lymphoma last month, shock soon gave way to a question: Now what?

“We have a 23-year-old son who has cancer, and he’s never been sick a day in his life,” she said.

Joshua is unable to work while undergoing chemotherapy, and medical and other expenses are piling up, The Joplin Globe (http://bit.ly/1akoGLQ ) reports.

“He had just started out in an electricians union about six months ago,” said Pottorff, of Joplin. “He wanted to have a career and a life and a family. Now he has a port in his chest and he lives with us.”

Facing expensive tests and unsure what insurance eventually will cover after the deductible is met, Pottorff did what many other area residents have done in similar situations: crowdfunding.

Using sites such as Facebook to get the word out about illnesses, injuries and fundraising events, and newer crowdfunding platforms on the Web such as gofundme.com, people in the region and around the country have found that social media can be a critical tool, whether it’s for battling back from cancer or a car accident.

Joshua now has a profile at www.youcaring.com. As of Friday, 14 donors had given $715 toward a $5,000 goal.

“I did it at the advice of a friend whose brother recently was diagnosed with cancer,” Pottorff said. “They told us there will be expenses come up you’ll need that you won’t realize.”

She also wanted a way to share updates on Joshua’s medical status and progress that didn’t require individual calls to each friend and family member - something that can be tedious and draining, she said. Youcaring.com allows her to do so within his profile and to share via Facebook and Twitter.

“It’s easier when you have a network of people,” she said. “Rather than make a phone call or texting every single person you know, it’s easier to reach out and make one update for everyone.”

Likewise, friends and family members turned to both the sharing power of Facebook and the online fundraising site www.gofundme.com to assist Garrett Buzzard, a 2009 graduate of Carthage High School who suffered a broken neck in a motorcycle accident on Jan. 11.

Buzzard received medical treatment in the intensive care unit at Freeman Hospital West, and on Thursday he was transferred to the Craig Hospital rehab center in Colorado - a trip with a price tag of about $10,000 that was not covered by insurance.

“I would like to encourage everyone to donate anything they can,” wrote Klista Lambeth Bacon when she set up his profile on the gofundme.com project site Jan. 22. “If all my friends on Facebook alone donated just $5, it would raise more than $3,000. Please share this on your Facebook page. Any and all donations are greatly appreciated.”

People may share via social media directly from the gofundme.com profile. By Friday, Bacon’s request had generated 1,000 Facebook shares and had raised $7,235 toward the $50,000 goal.

A Garrett Buzzard Benefit page on Facebook has 204 followers who can see immediate updates on his progress.

Buzzard’s friends also turned to Facebook to promote a chili fundraiser held at a Carthage church. By using the “create event” function, they were able to share details with hundreds of friends and family members, who in turn could issue digital invitations to hundreds of other friends and family members.

Friends and family members of Jonathan Russell, a seriously ill 34-year-old Neosho man who has been receiving treatment in St. Louis, also turned to an online fundraiser and social media site, and they say they have found great success.

“Using an online donation service has taken out the legwork of a fundraiser,” said Amber Hall, who has been managing a profile at youcaring.com to raise money for Russell’s medical expenses.

Russell was diagnosed with the H1N1 strain of flu and was admitted in early December to a local hospital, where he was quickly transferred to the intensive care unit. He also developed acute respiratory distress syndrome, a potentially life-threatening illness that can show up in the lungs of individuals who are already battling a major disease.

Now in a St. Louis hospital, Russell remains at risk of infection, so his team of doctors, nurses and other health professionals is continually monitoring his progress and condition.

Setting up an online fundraiser meant getting him immediate financial help, Hall said. By Friday, 103 supporters had contributed $10,723 toward a $20,000 goal.

A relative of a man who was found nearly frozen outside a rural Pittsburg, Kan., home on Jan. 6 in subzero temperatures said social media and online fundraising helped not just financially, but connected friends and family members who are at a distance.

“There is no doubt that social media has played a huge role from keeping friends and family updated to receiving prayers and support from everywhere,” said Shaun Hampton, of Webb City.

Hampton’s brother-in-law, Colter Steffens, 27, of Mulberry, Kan., was flown to University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., where he spent several days in ICU recovering from hypothermia and then began physical rehabilitation and physical therapy.

Friend Jill Brinkmeyer used Facebook to issue invitations to a pancake feed at Applebee’s that raised $1,800, and she created a page to plan a band benefit and auction on March 2 at Mooreman’s in Pittsburg.

Steffens‘ aunt, Kala Hillery, established a fundraising page on gofundme.com for Steffens, with the goal of raising $1,000. With 875 shares through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, the page raised $2,000 given by 42 people in 17 days.

Hillery also used the site to give friends and family members an update about Steffens‘ progress posted on Jan. 27.

Facebook’s ‘share’ feature has made it possible to see people from California to Pennsylvania to other countries around the world posting prayers and kind words,” Hampton said. “I can’t even put a number on the number of people praying for him.

“We were able to post an update and tag family members. Then their friends could share with their friends, family and network of people, and one update could end up being read by hundreds of people.”



Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/7/social-media-help-sought-after-medical-emergencies/#ixzz2sen8BKce 
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter


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Patient Satisfaction Survey Reaffirms Consumers’ Increasing Reliance on Online Reviews

Patient Satisfaction Survey Reaffirms Consumers’ Increasing Reliance on Online Reviews | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Online reviews continue to make a big impact on service-based businesses across multiple sectors and industries. Consumers are checking reviews not merely to find restaurants and hotels; they’re also checking reviews to find doctors and make major decisions involving their health and well-being.

Findings from a new patient satisfaction survey by marketing firm Digital Assent reaffirm once again the increasing reliance of consumers on online reviews. According to survey results, a staggering 72 percent of patients say that negative reviews will likely prevent them from choosing a particular doctor. Moreover, 42 percent say that it takes only 2 to 5 bad reviews out of a hundred to discourage them from seeing a particular healthcare/medical professional.


The study, from Digital Assent’s first annual “Online Patient Review” survey, was released just shortly after another report – this time by the American Osteopathic Association – showed thatapproximately 33 percent use doctor ratings and consumer review sites as a main tool for finding physicians.

Popular review sites for doctors and hospitals today include Yelp, Vitals, HealthGrades, Wellness.com, and Dr. Oogle.

According to the new study, 50 percent of patients believe that positive online reviews and high ratings on any of these sites could convince them to choose a particular doctor. Only 18 percent of respondents say that reviews have no influence at all.

What does this mean for doctors, hospitals, and other health/medical professionals and institutions? The survey results imply that it is more critical than ever to build and strengthen a healthy online reputation. You can’t argue with the data. Not only do reviews and ratings provide a reflection of actual patient satisfaction levels; they also serve as a major factor for patients’ decisions to choose – or to avoid – your practice.

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5 ways to improve the adoption of medical apps

5 ways to improve the adoption of medical apps | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Before the adoption of new technologies which will undoubtedly improve health care (as it has the retail and finance sectors), it must be introduced in ways which are digestible, scalable, and subject to rapid iteration.

Is mobile technology different from the adoption of any other change in health care delivery? I think not. The culture of care certainly requires change as care models are changing. The point of care is shifting to the home, professionals other than physicians are delivering most of the care, and digital technology is becoming a fact of daily life.

With this care shift is the shift of daily tasks to mobile technology. Most mobile tools utilized today by physicians is related to reference or other resources geared towards them, not the patient or care. I suggest a few ways in which the introduction of mobile health care tools to physicians will itself lead to adoption. Baby steps are needed in this process contrary to what I see as industry’s “build it and they will come” philosophy, with its predictable disappointment.

The following suggestions are predicated on good medical app development practices.

1. Involve physicians in clinical pilots.  This accomplishes three things. It introduces physicians to mobile health tools and processes involved in using them. It serves an avenue for user experience feedback from both clinicians and patients, and might provide some outcomes data.

2. Establish a network of key opinion leaders (KOLs). Peer to peer education has a successful track record in both the pharma and medical device sectors. The “in the trenches” experience provided by these KOLs is invaluable in conveying information and addressing concerns of physicians.  It speaks to pain points, benefit to patients, and health care and business models.  These KOLs using digital tools themselves via closed professional social networks is a model I would look forward to being useful.  KOLs have impact via presenting data at professional society meetings, discussing new technologies via traditional media outlets as well as social media.

3. Payers incentivizing physicians to use good tools (portal, diabetes tools).  The use of mobile health apps and other tools (communications, delivery of educational content, and interoperability of data with EHR) might promote or even necessitate the use of robust patient portals. This therefore accomplishes two things which will benefit patients. Payers are in the unique position to incentivize both patients and providers to take advantage of these mobile tools. In what way can payers incentivize physicians? How about having a physician directory which spotlights those who utilize mobile health technologies?  Like-minded patients who desire to become more participatory in their care will gravitate towards these providers, thereby potentially fostering good relationships even before they meet.

4. Patients introducing technology. Changing behavior in the doctor-patient relationship can be a bidirectional process. Just as physicians can change patient behavior, patients can exert influence as consumers on physicians by asking questions about the use of digital technologies by their physicians. These inquiries might get physicians thinking. Patients who suggest medications based on DTC marketing ads often receive them. Patients who are proactive are better patients.

5. Medical school courses for students. Digital natives (or close to them) are now medical students. There is much enthusiasm by students for the use of mobile technologies in health care.  Many are designing apps or anxious for others to do so. There are many reasons why medical schools are at the forefront of mobile medical apps. A “bottom up” approach seems logical  in this arena because of the slow pace of the change in health care culture by the establishment. Mentors in medical school might not be champions of mobile health tools for many reasons. As often is the case in politics of many sectors of society, the new generation is the source of execution of the dreams of others.

Though none of these points are revolutionary, they should provide sources of consideration for starting points of those interested in this sector. There needs to be a distinction made between introduction and adoption of technology, as I believe they are considerably different. Thinking about the process this way might result in less frustration by the industry, investors, and create a different model for implementation and sales.


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6 Content Marketing & Social Media Tips for Any Doctor

6 Content Marketing & Social Media Tips for Any Doctor | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Are you a doctor who’s interested in learning how content and social media marketing can help grow your practice?

For decades doctors were able to get away without investing too much money in advertising or marketing. Then when the Internet changed everything, many of you started to use (and are still using) costly methods of online advertising to market your practices e.g. banner ads.

The problem is patients have completely tuned out to some these tactics and developed chronic cases such as banner blindness.

According to Pew Research, today’s patients are increasingly turning towards the Internet to find information (not advertisements) about symptoms, treatment and support. That means if you want patients to find you when they go online, you need to be involved in content marketing and social media.

And in case you’re wondering how social media and content marketing are related here’s what you should know…

Both are about educating people, answering their questions, and sharing interesting news about your practice. When you do this primarily on your blog it is content marketing

But there’s more.

Social media promotion is critical to online content marketing success. Because there are millions of users on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social sites, it is very likely that people who need your medical expertise (yet don’t know that your blog exists!) are hanging out there.

The best way to reach them is by taking the stories that you’ve posted on your blog and placing them in these sites.

It’s that easy?

Well, yes and no.  Yes, because once you have all your content ready, all you have to do is promote it on your social media networks. But preparation is key.

Social media is a very active space. There are a lot of interesting conversations taking place at the same time and since your target audience has a short attention span, they can get distracted very easily.

The challenge for you as a doctor using social media, is that you have to be more interesting and more creative than the other people or brands in your target audience’s network!

How do you that?

Here are 6 content marketing and social media success tips for your medical practice.

#1. Blog Regularly

If you don’t already have one, develop an editorial calendar to help you blog regularly and consistently. Remember too that social media content benefits from planning and regular updating.

You need to plan for the interesting stories that you will share on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest. Of course many of these stories will be inspired from your blog, but once in a while you may also need to add other content (photos, video, podcasts etc.) to engage audiences within those specific networks.

#2. Tell Awesome Stories

Use your blog to tell stories about your industry, practice, people and events. Each story should be unique and interesting enough to create appeal and draw new audiences on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites that you use.

Human-interest stories are very popular on social media. As a doctor, you have no shortage of such stories although you have to be careful not to violate patient privacy. Patient stories help to illustrate how your practice is impacting people’s lives, and thus generates more interest from other online audiences.

#3. Execute well

Even though 99% of patient stories are interesting by default, how you execute them on social media is very important.

For example on Facebook and Pinterest, posting visually appealing and well-edited photos will go much farther than posting links to your blog. On Twitter you will need different executions skills such as how to craft a compelling tweet with 140 characters, or how to use relevant hashtags to make it easy for people to find your content.

Every social media platform is different. It’s important for you to learn those environments and leverage their unique features to reach a wider audience with your message.

#4. Include location

One of your primary marketing goals is to attract more patients to your practice. So start by creating or updating your Facebook page, Twitter profile and Pinterest account and adding your physical location and your contact information.

When patients come in for their appointment, encourage them to ‘check-in’ to your location using Facebook Places.

Checking-in on Facebook has the same effect as word-of-mouth marketing. When a Facebook user sees (on her Newsfeed) that her friend (your patient) has checked into your location, she’ll be curious to learn more about your practice and will probably click through to your Facebook Page for more information.

#5. Work on your ‘About’ section

The ‘About’ section of your Facebook page should be optimized with keyword rich names, categories and descriptions. The words you use to describe your practice should reflect the natural conversational language that your audience uses. This will increase the likelihood of appearing on Facebook’s Graph Search results.

Similarly, the ‘About’ page of your website should not just focus on keywords that match the medical conditions you treat, but also on answering questions that typical patients would ask. Think about some of the common questions that your patients have asked in the past and update your About page with content that provides those answers.

#6. Consider contests, promotions & giveaways

Contests, promotions and giveaways are very effective ways of acquiring new clients via social media. Because contests can produce outstanding results, it’s important that you make yours stand out by offering a prize that will create excitement and enthusiasm among your audience. Giving away a free iPad has nothing to do with your practice, so don’t bother.

You can give away a relevant product with a ‘limited time only’ message to create a sense of urgency and interest. Avoid giving away free services as this might encourage people not to buy until they find out if they’ve won. To ensure high participation encourage Facebook fans to submit photos of themselves, or share stories for a chance to win.

Your Turn:

Which of these content and social media tips have you used to market your medical practice? Please share your experience in the comment box below.


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Digital Health Innovation: Moving Toward Individualized Medicine

Digital Health Innovation: Moving Toward Individualized Medicine | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Health care and consumer technology are converging, and the resulting innovations in digital health are revolutionizing the historically conservative field of healthcare. From online doctor’s appointments to apps for organ transplants, it seems that healthcare, which represents nearly 20% of the United States’ economy, is finally undergoing a technology transformation. Digital health innovation is allowing the industry to move beyond the previously generalized treatment approaches to an era of individualized medicine with endless opportunity.

Digital health innovations cover all aspects of medicine, from the way we interact with our healthcare providers, to the accuracy of diagnosis and the efficacy of treatment. Technology allows us to touch people’s lives, both through groundbreaking innovation and spreading awareness. It opens new doors of communication and education to the consumer that were simply not available in the past.

Nothing happens in a vacuum, and the engineers, physicians and investors behind any digital health innovation need access to the population that can benefit from their product or service. Enter social media. Social media platforms are a lightning fast way to disseminate information to a large and diverse population. Given the fact that Americans spend 121 billion minutes on social networking sites per month, it is not surprising that using social media to spread news has become standard operating procedure at most companies.

We were thrilled when our implantable device to restore partial vision to the blind became ready for the general public. With approval from the FDA, we knew that we finally had the opportunity to communicate to the patients who could benefit from this approval, as well as their caretakers, with a bit more freedom. The population we work with is passionate, as is any consumer looking for a solution to their problems, and the chance to communicate with them was thrilling.

It’s a very exciting time to be involved in scientific discovery and we are thrilled to share the stories of people whose lives our device has touched. It’s a true marriage of exciting technological advances and the ability to share that news with the world.

As global citizens in the 21st century, it is just as important to be a part of the greater conversation about maximizing people’s quality of life. Consumer technology such as social platforms, mobile apps, and the internet in general, have enabled us to connect with the very people whose lives we seek to improve, as well as their families, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Society is more curious, engaged, informed, and technologically saturated than ever before. People want to be a part of the conversation, which can benefit all of us in terms of credibility, funding, and future innovation. It may be challenging to adapt high-tech medicine to a mainstream audience, but it is manageable if done efficiently.


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Crowdfunding is all the rage, but can it work for medical research?

Crowdfunding is all the rage, but can it work for medical research? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

"Our goal is absolutely to democratize knowledge," says Denny Luan. "Modern science has such a rush for fast results - publish or perish, output over process. We'd like to show the greater public that science does not have to be locked up behind monasterial walls. We'd like to change the way science is shared - in an engaging, deliberately beautiful way. Real-time, open-access and with great design."

Luan is co-founder of what, until this morning, was known as "Microryza" - the site has been renamed "Experiment" as part of a revamped branding strategy - a potentially revolutionary crowdfunding platform that is looking to do for science whatKickstarter has done for the entertainment industry.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of crowdfunding, what sites such as Experiment and Kickstarter offer is an alternative method of funding creative or academic projects through the internet.

In Kickstarter terms, this could mean that if you had songs for an album you wanted to record or a script for a film you would like to see made, you could use the Kickstarter site to advertise the project and invite interested parties to contribute - usually small-scale - donations in order to finance the project.

Crowdfunding has been a source of finance for human rights campaigns, as well as resurrecting cult network-cancelled TV shows (such as the forthcoming Veronica Mars movie) or financing the output of industry-disaffected musicians like Amanda Palmer.

Experiment aspires to harness the enthusiasm around these crowdfunded projects for scientific research.


The idea behind Experiment is that - rather than rely on a small resource pool of institutional grants or philanthropy - scientists will now be able to fund their own projects using donations from interested lay people.

The idea is that - rather than rely on a small resource pool of institutional grants or philanthropy - scientists will now be able to fund their own projects using donations from interested lay people. This might include people who have a disease that a scientist is proposing to investigate a cure for, or enthusiasts of a particular area of research.

But funding a piece of scientific research is not analogous to recording an album or shooting a film.

The challenge Luan and his colleagues face is not only to make funding scientific research as compelling to an audience of potential financiers as the glamorous worlds of film and music, but also to maintain a social media-type platform that sustains interests in these projects as they are completed and move through the various stages of development.

"In order to have a successful crowdfunding campaign, it is necessary to wear a 'marketing hat,'" admits Amy Belfi, a PhD student and musician whose "Can music improve memories in patients with brain damage?"study was successfully crowdfunded.

"Promoting your research is very important in science, so the main difference here is the audience. Typically, you are 'marketing' your research to grant reviewers, whereas in crowdfunding, you are marketing your research to the public."

How does scientific crowdfunding differ from crowdfunding creative projects?

Although mainstream crowdfunding hubs Kickstarter and Indiegogo have had some limited success with financing science projects, Luan believes a separate platform is necessary for scientific research.

Microryza/Experiment's scientific crowdfunding competitor, petridish.org, meanwhile, now seems to be inactive - with no updates appearing via their Twitter since 2012.

"Kickstarter and Indiegogo were designed for creative artists, and because of that, it's worked well for the creative process," says Luan.

"However, scientific research usually follows a different process, where the output is not typically a tangible reward like a T-shirt or mug. We prefer instead to focus on the scientific process itself, both making it easier for researchers to be transparent about it and for backers to be engaged with what is happening with the science."

He adds: "To see this in action, I encourage you to back a project for yourself!"

Perhaps crucially, Luan and co-founder Cindy Wu are young scientists themselves - former University of Washington graduate students - who arrived at Microryza in 2012 as a solution for funding their own projects.

After polling their professors, they found that everyone was frustrated with the obstacles associated with the highly competitive funding process - where 80% of proposals are rejected, the average researcher spends 12 weeks a year writing proposals, and the average age of a grant recipient in biomedicine is 42.

Can crowdfunding transform scientific research?

In theory, crowdfunding could be a viable model for drumming up funding and media attention for small, early stage ideas and high-risk proposals that the current grant systems - offered by institutions such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Framework (NSF) - are reluctant to invest in.

"Yes, absolutely," Luan agrees, although he sees the potential for crowdfunding to have a much bigger and more transformative impact on research.

"That was the original pitch for value for scientists of all types and backgrounds. However, these days, the situation has become so dire that projects and grants that NIH or NSF would fund are no longer getting the backing they deserve.

So we're basically picking up a lot of slack and devastation caused by the sequester and budget cuts. NIH paylines and acceptance rates are at historic lows. As in, over the entire history of federally funded science."

However, there is a long way to go before crowdfunding can match the scale of traditionally funded medical research.

The Prion Alliance

"Crowdfunding for science is great, but it's fundamentally of a different scale than grant funding or large-scale philanthropy," admits Sonia Vallabh, who - as one half of the husband-and-wife Prion Alliance research project - is Microryza/Experiment's most high-profile success story to date.

"Our campaign, which raised $17,000, is one of the larger donation-based scientific crowdfunding campaigns to be successfully funded," Vallabh says.

"Projects of a larger order of magnitude have been tied to a product. It is a different animal. It's nowhere close to replacing those two traditional funding sources, and though its influence could grow and I hope it does, the existence of crowdfunding definitely shouldn't take our eye off the ball of the NIH budget."

"For us, crowdfunding is a useful and relatively quick way to fund small, catalytic experiments. But let there be no doubt: the money we've been able to raise, while wonderful, is not keeping the lights on, nor developing disease models from scratch, nor paying anyone's health benefits. Grants do that."

Vallabh says that the Prion Alliance will use crowdfunding for future projects, though their intention is to use these "quick turnaround micro-grants" to fund the generation of preliminary data that their collaborators can then use as a platform to apply for "more sustained and robust funding."

Some critics have suggested that the nature of crowdfunding for scientific research means that only the most social media-friendly proposals will thrive.

For example, projects involving excavating a dinosaur and studying how to eliminate spam mail were both over-funded in donations, while a current proposal examining post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans has received just $10 in pledges, with only 6 days left to raise the remaining $11,990 target at the time of writing.


Crowdfunding could be a viable model for funding small, early stage ideas and high-risk proposals.

But the work by Vallabh and her husband Eric Minikel has genuinely inspired people - their story traveled beyond the enclave of social media-hip "science nerds" thought to comprise Microryza/Experiment's fan base and into high-profile pieces in The New Yorker.

Diagnosed as carrying a rare mutated gene that causes "fatal familial insomnia" (FFI) - a prion disease affecting just one in a million people, where death usually follows shortly after symptoms are detected - Vallabh and Minikel took the matter of finding a cure to this little-researched condition into their own hands.

Although neither of them had a background in science, following the sudden death of Vallabh's mother from FFI in 2010, both Vallabh and Minikel devoted their lives to learning how to analyze genetic code - putting themselves back through school at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and volunteering in neurogenetics labs.

An initial request via Microryza for just $8,000 to fund trials on a potential treatment in mice was met with an enthusiastic and sympathetic response. The couple raised 215% of their target fund, which can also now finance subsequent research phases.

We asked Sonia if she felt crowdfunding had jump-started initial research into a cure for her condition in a way that would not be possible traditionally, given the couple's lack of scientific experience.

"While we are working towards grant eligibility in our day jobs as scientists, we were definitely excited about crowdfunding as a way to get small projects off the ground on a shorter timeline," she says.

"The process of ramping up our own credentials will take time, on top of which the grant cycle is both slow and low-yield. As a non-traditional funding model, Microryza definitely provided a forum more conducive to us sharing our story and personal motivations, as well as our scientific plan and collaborators."

Accountability, credibility and transparency

Although all proposals are currently vetted by Luan and his colleagues for both scientific credibility and to ensure the researchers are who they claim to be, the next step for Microryza/Experiment to secure credibility within the scientific community will be in implementing a rigorous peer review process to assure project backers that reported results are accurate and evidence based.


Anonymous donations may present issues with ethics and transparency.

"We've been testing peer review tools internally," says Luan, "but our goal for the near future is to begin to open up the proposal evaluation process, as well as the micropublished content that researchers are already sharing on the site - datasets, protocols, results. We care very much in building a trusted and rigorous community for funders."

Another element inherent to crowdfunding that may need to be revised in Experiment's model going forward is the option the site provides for funders to remain anonymous. We asked Luan if this presents any ethical issues, as transparency in scientific funding is a contentious area.

"There are of course ethical issues with disclosing particular interests for funded research, and we realize this is a challenge," he admits. "However, we do believe strongly in 100% transparency, and we think that any potential ethical issues can be mitigated with fuller transparency and trust policies."

He adds: "Also, in our minds, this is a good problem to face, because it means our system is working."

With revised branding in place and, as this piece went to press, a new partnership announced with SciFund Challenge that has unveiled more than 30 new proposals, Experiment - who support themselves by taking a 5% cut of the money raised by successfully funded projects - looks set to go from strength to strength as a new tool for connecting scientific communities and potentially providing funding solutions.

Denny Luan and team, meanwhile, are not regretting diverting their promising careers in research into launching an internet start-up company:

"Ideally, my cofounders and I would like to return to grad school, but we've seen the light," he insists.

"Why would we willingly go back into a broken system - funding, peer review, collaboration, and translation of intellectual property - if we think we can make a positive impact on this system for other young scientists like ourselves?"


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How Will FDA Regulate Online Marketing of Medical Devices?

How Will FDA Regulate Online Marketing of Medical Devices? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Unlike drugs and biologics, FDA’s authority to regulate the promotion of medical devices has been limited to restricted devices, almost all that enter the market as Class II under performance standards or as Class III. That’s about to change, at least so far as manufacturer communications in cyberspace about restricted devices are concerned

Effective July 9, 2014, the 2012 FDA Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA) requires FDA to “issue guidance that describes FDA policy regarding the promotion, using the Internet (including social media), of medical products” that it regulates. That obviously includes restricted medical devices.

While CDRH is not looking for more work, this statutory edict will cause it to look more strenuously than it ever has before at the Internet advertising, promotion, and labeling of affected devices.

This is something the center has shunned, as was most recently seen in its response to injured patients’ complaintsabout the failure of LASIK (Class III devices) promoters to provide “fair balance” in their Internet ads. CDRH reluctantly sent out a flurry of token warning letters in 2009 and then 20 months later diverted the complainers to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which neglected to do anything at all. Nothing on the matter has been heard from either agency since then.

What form is FDASIA’s intrusion into CDRH’s blissful avoidance of Internet device promotion likely take?

FDA provided a clear indicator in January, when it unveiled a draft guidance on how prescription drug manufacturers should, under the shadow of FDASIA’s July deadline, routinely report their activities and interactions with users on the Internet.

Although those reporting requirements are not relevant to medical device marketers, the agency’s over-arching policy as shown in the draft guidance definitely is. It declared for the first time that the agency “ordinarily” will not view user-generated content on firm-owned or firm-controlled venues as promotional content as long as the user has no affiliation with the firm and the firm had no influence on the content.

Previously, at least for drug sponsors, FDA contended in numerous enforcement actions that everything that’s said on a sponsor-owned or -controlled Web site is the firm’s responsibility.

According to a client update on the draft guidance by the law firm Hunton & Williams, FDA’s change of heart “opens the door for firms to actively participate in interactive social media that allow consumers to engage in public discussions about their products—even on firm-sponsored, product-specific sites—without limitations as to the content or scope of the information.”

When FDA answers FDASIA’s edict that it spell out its policy on social media and Internet communications about medical products, one of the thorniest issues will be how sponsors should meet fair balance requirements in the context of social media sites that restrict space or impose character limits (e.g., Twitter or paid search advertisements).

Advertising “fair balance” was the issue that CDRH shucked off to FTC in the LASIK controversy.

Whether device manufacturers will flock to social media and more Internet promotions in light of FDA’s softening attitude remains to be seen.

As Coalition for Healthcare Communication executive director John Kamp points out, FDA isn’t the only or even the biggest reason for medical product advertiser reluctance to erupt in the new media—there are lots of other reasons, plaintiffs’ failure-to-warn suits being the biggest.


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Customers are talking on social media, are you listening?

Customers are talking on social media, are you listening? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it
Proper use of social media can help healthcare companies build loyalty and improve the bottom line.

With the advent and continued popularity of social media, organizations have made the shift from disseminating information to their clients in a top-down approach to a world where they are engaging in direct conversations in public - for better or for worse.

An article in ProPublica shared several examples from Twitter where customers of various health insurance providers expressed their displeasure about some aspect of their service. Instead of waiting on hold with customer service, these people took their gripes public. Consumers frustrated with shopping on the healthcare exchanges also took to Twitter to find satisfaction, according to GovernmentHealthIT.

Many companies and exchanges are using social media tools, ready to assist customers or connect them with those who can. In some cases even a bad customer service experience can be turned into a win if a company responds quickly, and in the right way. Those not ready or willing to be on the social media frontlines are missing the opportunity to deal with those complaints, fix the issue and win some customer loyalty. An organization’s response, or lack of one, is also being broadcast for all of their customers’ followers, winning or losing other potential clients along the way.

Having dedicated staff monitoring and responding to complaints is key, however being present in the online venues where customers already are provides the opportunity to communicate useful information to clients through a direct line of communication.

A recent report from eHealth Initiative found that social media and online communities can enhance health education by promoting healthy eating, active living and wellness, which helps people manage many of the factors that lead to chronic disease. Done right, healthcare organizations can utilize their social media to influence their customers’ health, improving outcomes and, potentially, saving money down the line.

Healthcare providers should have a social media policy directing their organization that covers who is responsible, what their role is, how it will be executed and what guidelines to follow. In addition, a policy can help navigate the complexities of being present on social media while following privacy laws and meeting HIPAA compliance.

With some planning any organization can use social media tools to help improve customer relations and their bottom line.

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Only 1% post in social media health |

Only 1% post in social media health | | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

According to an article in the Journal of Internet Research The 1% rule was consistent across the four DHSNs. As social network sustainability requires fresh content and timely interactions, these results are important for organizations actively promoting and managing Internet communities. Superusers generate the vast majority of traffic and create value, so their recruitment and retention is imperative for long-term success. Although Lurkers may benefit from observing interactions between Superusers and Contributors, they generate limited or no network value. The results of this study indicate thatDHSNs (Digital Health Social Networks)  may be optimized to produce network effects, positive externalities, and bandwagon effects.

In recent years, cyberculture has informally reported a phenomenon named the 1% rule, or 90-9-1 principle, which seeks to explain participatory patterns and network effects within Internet communities. The rule states that 90% of actors observe and do not participate, 9% contribute sparingly, and 1% of actors create the vast majority of new content. This 90%, 9%, and 1% are also known as Lurkers, Contributors, and Superusers, respectively. To date, very little empirical research has been conducted to verify the 1% rule.

What, Why?

(1) People use social networks to collect health information but very few actually post because of issues around privacy and credibility of the information.

(2) When going on social media networks for health information users are interested in the personal experiences of others along with finding new sources (links) of health information. (From qual research results 2013)

(3) DTC marketers should assume that the vast majority of  online health information seekers is not interacting on social networks, rather they are reading the posts as they collect health information.

(4) More research is needed, by health condition, to determine what patients are looking for on social networks when it comes to health information.  Research is also needed to determine the impact of various social networks on healthcare treatment choices.


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Effective Social Media Use in Healthcare Marketing

Effective Social Media Use in Healthcare Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Spoken about the same, first stumble happens when they take an attempt to engage with their fans or audience without identifying their content needs. This further leads to the foundation of an inappropriate conversation. Therefore, there is no substitute for valuable content! When it comes to the consumer base, they want in-depth information. What needs to be understood by this segment is that there is an ocean of information out there, and when people get sick nowadays, they want information right away. Interaction with patients and consumers is important, but great and right content is the key!

The Healthcare Segment

Apart from all the challenges and limitations, Healthcare segment can be amplified in a great way as it includes a lot of processes from patient relations to content shared to managing health records etc. Many doctors can already be seen wearing Google Glass, patients equipped with latest technology support systems and nurses with iPads.

Social Media and Healthcare

This still remains unexplored, Social media for healthcare can garner increased communication, treatment efficacy and provider efficacy; which in turn will portray the organizational transparency. Already a good amount of doctors, family members, patients and healthcare specialists are using social media to result in more impactful treatment. Consumers are also found to use social media platforms to find and later share information about health plans, medical treatments and doctors.

What does Social Media have in store for Healthcare Industry? 

Social Media is strongly transforming how doctors & patients operate and interact with each other. Although the matters related to the security concerns, confidentiality, misinformation and data review come along with anything related to healthcare, Social Media can modify the complete experience for everyone linked with it. With patients, consumers and everyone stepping in to the online space to discuss their health, medical experiences, seek opinions, research and share their symptoms or ailments; it becomes all the more important for healthcare professionals to tap into this wonderful resource and connect with them on social platforms in order to add their expert voice to these conversations.

Social Media will change the way health related communications happen.

An effective social media strategy for a healthcare brand should aim towards accomplishing goals in few categories, namely:

  • - Communications
  • - Information Sharing
  • - Clinical Outcomes and,
  • - Speed of Innovation

A few things you need to regularly keep a tab of:

Patients that share their views or opinions freely online followed by people who comment on everything, or update a status even about their cold to health related articles. There are cases when patients end up getting basic advice from medical professionals that happen to be in their network. This can help a brand get qualitative feedback or report about their services too.

Doctors are also engaging proactively and believe that social media presence improves the quality of care through constant line of communication.

Blogs written by healthcare professionals can be integrated with social media accounts too. A systematic content management system can further influence people to post content to blogs or websites.

Hosting Google Hangouts with previous patients or those undergoing treatments is a very innovative way where technology helps healthcare segments. Doctors contribute to a patient-centric model of healthcare with such technological innovations. Loyalty and satisfaction is built in the process too.

A successful social media strategy would help a healthcare brand in revamping their communication, service and feedback.


Prescription of a Strong Social Media Strategy for Healthcare Industry

Healthcare organizations should develop a social media strategy that leverages social media in healthcare marketing to help influence the customers & at the same time accomplish strategic healthcare goals.

Keep in mind that just as your patients have their own individual wants, characters and a voice; similarly your social media strategy should be unique to your organization. Healthcare professionals are empathetic and caring individuals. It’s time to demonstrate that strength to a larger, online community.

What should Healthcare Brands do to leverage Social Media?

  • - Follow your customers and engage with potential patients
  • - Provide value to consumer’s perspective. Providing value here means providing useful information
  • - Be active on Social media and leverage its potential
  • - Be a resource to those looking out for information related to healthcare
  • - Enable doctor searches, online scheduling, and relevant information
  • - Connect with loved ones of patients as its not only the patients always, but there are those who care for them too, active online
  • - Connect with patients or consumers through online communities
  • - Build discussion forums
  • - The content you create, make it share worthy. Ensure that it can be forwarded, printed or posted to patients
  • - Network with those potential healthcare employees with your social media presence. Basically, you can bring your brand to life for potential employees.
  • - Follow relevant hashtags & handles
  • - Twitter chats help you listen to perspectives on key topics & also offer a chance to raise awareness about what you as a healthcare brand offer
  • - Listen: know what your patients are doing by diving into some of the user generated content
  • - Regulations: yes, you need to take care of the content that goes up there. Don’t forget to review it by your legal, regulatory & medical teams
  • - Be open-minded and creative, plan & test your ideas

In the long arc of people’s journey to better health, healthcare segments strive to become more supportive and relevant through social media. In this case, what healthcare segments will win is their respect and loyalty followed by their behaviors that will change to improve their overall health with the strengthening of healthcare brands.

There is no pre-defined rule as to how we should engage with patients on social media, but we cannot deny the fact that there still lie barriers in the pharmaceutical industry as to what one can talk about online.

The elements of engagement that Healthcare brands need to know in order to understand the content needs of their audiences are:

Value can be provided by creating content that solves consumer problems. Listening to their complaints or suggestions and adding a personal touch to conversations generates value for your brand.

Efficiency of a healthcare brand depends on their ability to respond to customer inquiries, comments & questions both off and online without any delay followed by designing mobile friendly content that can be accessed by patients on the go.

Trust is built through the expectation of complete honesty from a healthcare brand by consumers. Delivering accurate advice, displaying successful customer recovery stories, testimonials, nutrition advice, health-tips, fitness routines etc. is a part of it.

Consistency includes the fact that whatever you communicate through offline and online platforms should at no point collide with the real customer/patient experiences.

Relevance is injecting a highly targeted content to patients or consumers which goes a long way in building an emotional connection and consequent click to action. 
3 things you need to know!

A tweet or a post is not a diagnosis! 
Always remember that any information that you post on Social Media should not be considered as a medical advice by your followers or consumers. It is not a replacement for a consultation with a doctor as one on one consultation with health care professionals is still primary & legible.

Schedule the communication! 
For a better level of patient privacy, a healthcare brand should ensure that comments made on any of their social platform should not appear online before it is reviewed or approved by internal team of professionals.

Set the limits; be clear with your stand! 
As a healthcare brand, clearly establish where your organization stands in regards to social media engagement by patients or consumers. Designing a strategy to improve your capability to leverage the enormous reach of social media platforms to connect and learn from the online community is vital.

With patients going online for their healthcare solutions etc., it becomes very essential for your healthcare organization to create a social media strategy where you prepare your staff to listen, engage & measure social media. Are you ready to join your patients in the social media world? 

You can also have a look at another blog ‘In the pink of Health on Social Media’.

It is very important for the healthcare brands to identify and understand the consumer behaviour before they make  any attempts for social media engagement. Does your healthcare brand have a clear social media policy established? Do you think we have missed out on something in this post? Do tell us about it in the comments!


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HIXs navigate social media privacy lines

HIXs navigate social media privacy lines | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it
Amid all of the chaos of the first open enrollment period for the first year of a reformed individual health insurance market, many insurance exchanges have been focused on just making the experience work from start to finish.

Waves of shoppers have tested the limits of servers, particularly for Healthcare.gov. Glitches of various sorts and severity remain a problem across the country, from Maryland, where consumers can (usually) apply online but workers still have to manually process applications on the backend, to California, where the help chat function has been inconsistent even as most of the site works. Then there are the call centers, where people who can’t make it through the website are sent only to encounter hours of wait times and conflicting information sets.

All of which might prompt an American consumer to turn to the digital public square to seek enrollment help or to air frustrations: I made a payment weeks ago but haven’t received my insurance card is one common complaint aired on Twitter. Others, as one New Yorker Tweeted to the State of Health exchange, might be: “Whenever I try to finish my application, I get an error message. It’s been like this for days now.”

With Healthcare.gov and state exchanges scrambling to manage the front and backends of their websites, call centers, and operations with insurers, social media can be a blessing and potentially a curse.

Exchange staff may have started using Twitter as one of several digital outreach and marketing channels, but in many states it’s become a chief venue for consumers to report problems and air frustrations, forcing the exchanges on some days into triage mode — and raising potential privacy concerns.

Take this Twitter exchange between one shopper from Long Island (whose identity was scrubbed) and the New York State of Health:

Does asking about a health plan selection, or other personal information, in a public venue cross privacy lines or expose consumers to digital security risks? Should troubleshooting that gets into such detail be done in private?

Insurance exchanges themselves are not HIPAA covered entities (although they could be subject to penalties for willful disclosures of personally identifiable information) and that type of information sharing in a public venue — a consumer’s health plan selection — isn’t violating any federal or state law, said Bob Belfort, a health attorney with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, especially since the consumer volunteered the information and the exchange staff wasn’t disclosing anything.

“Whether it’s a wise practice is another idea,” Belfort continued. “It’s not the ideal way for these issues to be resolved. It’s not typically the way government programs address problems citizens may have.”

Bill Schwarz, public affairs director at the New York State Department of Health, which oversees the exchange, would not say whether they had set standards for what information could be asked in a public venue and what should be relegated to email, direct messages or in-person or over-the-phone help. But, he said, the exchange staff “uses, as appropriate, social media channels to provide information to and answer questions from New Yorkers,” and in compliance with federal and state law.

Ideal or not, many exchanges, like health organizations in general, are facing social media and Twitter especially as a main venue to manage complaints. And even if they aren’t HIPAA covered entities, Belfort and other lawyers say they should still try to have consistent practices for dealing with personal questions.

The team running @HealthCareGov, the Twitter site for the federal exchange through which Americans in 36 states are getting new health coverage, has veered in and out of situations that New York State of Health encountered, in some cases deferring to more private settings and in others troubleshooting out in the open.

One consumer from Georgetown, Texas recently Tweeted to Healthcare.gov and Humana: “I signed up over a month ago with Humana, no info, no forms, no statement. They refuse to take calls on their 800 #.”

“Were you able to submit a payment?” @HealthCareGov staff responded. “They said to wait for my packet, until I get that packet, they can not help me,” he wrote back.

At that point, Healthcare.gov staff transitioned the conversation off of Twitter as they tried to move forward to resolve the issue: “Follow us & send us a DM. We'll try to help you resolve this with @Humana. Thanks!”

In many other instances, Healthcare.gov immediately refers consumer complaints to the call center, such as for one man who said he uploaded his documentation in October but still hadn’t had his plan confirmed by January 20.

Other times, Twitter serves as a good venue for answering largely non-private questions, which can reduce the strain on the call center — for instance, confirming that people changing residencies will have special enrollment periods.

Or one Washington D.C. man who Tweeted to Healthcare.gov that prices quoted to him through the call center were inconsistent and that he was “on hold so long that the battery on my home phone died.” Healthcare.gov staff replied to him: “You can also go to https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/ & find someone for in-person assistance.”

But at times Healthcare.gov has veered into the personal, if not so deeply as to stir significant concerns.

A woman from California took to Twitter to air a bit frustration: “Help @HealthCareGov ! Why does my 23 yr old brother who's a student have to pay $212/mo for health insurance under the ACA? That's INSANE”

“Hi,” Healthcare.gov responded, “what state does your brother live in?”

@HealthCareGov has asked consumers on Twitter which health plan they selected, and then typically referring them to one of the self-help pages. Federal exchange staff have also asked some consumers with specific complaints — such as being unable to add a child to their application or uncertainty over the status of their submitted application — for their city and state to look into the issue further.

Other exchanges have been more circumspect on Twitter. Maryland Health Connect, a state exchange that is still experiencing technical woes, asks most consumers reaching out on Twitter to immediately direct message them a description of the issues they're experiencing or other information — taking much of the troubleshooting process out of the digital public square.

Covered California, the largest exchange, seems to be falling somewhere in between with its Twitter strategy, in some cases asking consumers for bits of information to help answer their questions and in others, such as payment concerns or enrollment wait times, simply directing consumers to the health plans or the call center.

For instance, one woman from San Francisco recently Tweeted “@CoveredCA Been calling nonstop! Registered weeks ago but can't enroll in a plan bc of system errors on the site. PLEASE HELP!”

@CoveredCA responded: “Unfortunately, you'll have to get through to the Service Center to get that fixed.”

And a consumer from the eastern mountain valley city of Bishop, who told the exchange in early January: “We still have not received anything from the Health Insurance Co. We filled out our application over the phone in November!”

“You can call the health plan directly to check on your application and ask about how to pay your first premium,” exchange staff replied.

For Covered California, an exchange that’s trying to enroll well over one million residents in private health plans over the next few years, trying to troubleshoot every complaint individually on Twitter could become unwieldy. At the same time, the exchange’s call center, where many Twitter complaints are referred to, are themselves overwhelmed, often with hundreds or even more than a thousand people in the queue during peak hours.

For all of the exchanges, now until the end of March is a bit like a marathon of managed chaos — with social media being just one component, a tool to use and a risk to mitigate. Once they have a chance to catch their breath, perhaps the websites and call centers will be working well enough and few consumers will have reason to seek help.

Then exchanges can use Twitter the way many may prefer: to attract consumers with a nimble, hip marketing channel.
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Doctor Wikipedia and Digitally Demanding Patients

Doctor Wikipedia and Digitally Demanding Patients | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

he majority of patients and about half of all doctors search the Internet for healthcare and medical information. But—marketing professionals take note—the reference tool of choice of digitally demanding patients is the relative newcomer, “Dr. Wikipedia.”

“Wikipedia is the single leading source of medical information for patients and healthcare professionals,” according to a report about online engagement by IMS Institute. “The top 100 English Wikipedia pages for healthcare topics were accessed, on average, 1.9 million times during the past year.”

Empowered and engaged patients…

“The transformation of information gathering and the emergence of the engaged patient has demonstrated the increased importance of social media in the broader healthcare context,” says IMS. “For the healthcare industry, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to react quickly and decisively to events on social media.”

Social media includes networking sites, collaborative services, blogs, content hosting sites and virtual communities. The editor-moderated online encyclopedia Wikipedia is, on one hand, trusted by patients and many physicians, but at the same time, it is vulnerable to misinformation.

The IMS report reviews the impact of social media on the use of medicines, particularly the role of pharmaceutical manufacturers. It’s also useful information for healthcare marketing planners, indicating that online information gathering occurs throughout the patient journey.

It reveals that pharma could be doing more with their social media opportunity. “Among the top 50 pharmaceutical companies worldwide, nearly half actively participate in social media on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. However, only ten companies utilize all three of these major social networking services for healthcare topics.”

But curiously, “social media engagement lags significantly within the population segment that uses healthcare services the most. “Age is one of a few differentiating factors in the use of social networking sites, where utilization is less dependent on gender, education, income or other forms of social advantage. Younger people tend to conduct online investigations before the start of therapy…[but] patients age 50 or older tend to begin their treatments prior to seeking information online.”


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Health Care Social Media Review: What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Health Care Social Media Review: What’s Love Got to Do with It? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Welcome to the Health Care Social Media Review! This is one of those “blog carnivals” that’s hosted twice a month at different relevant sites, in this case highlighting “the best and the brightest health care social media writers, thinkers, users and proponents worldwide, to contribute to better understanding and adoption of social media in health care.”

In the words of the most recent host, “Social media use continues to increase at a dizzying pace, and the health care world faces unique opportunities and challenges in utilizing it. There is tremendous potential for improved health, better medical awareness, and increased patient satisfaction if social media is used correctly…”

So true! And we believe the set of posts we’ve compiled here bring great perspective to all these issues.

We’re honored to be hosting what we call the almost-Valentine’s edition (#46), with a focus on the emotional and psychological side of medicine.

What’s loving kindness got to do with healthcare?

Just about everything… as our opening entry attests.

 

 

PATIENTS

Hopefully you caught this video snip that went viral last week by Morgan Gleason, a 15-year-olddiagnosed with Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM) when she was 11. She’s spent waaaay too much time in hospitals, and is definitely NOT feeling the love.

As the Huffington Post reports, she’s had enough.

Remember that without social media, none of us would hear Morgan’s voice — nor the voice of any patients. Viva la social media!


ePatient Britt Johnson at The Hurt Blogger is also sharing the bold truth about what it feels like to live with the recurring searing pain of migraines. Britt’s a Stanford MedX ePatient Scholar, and uses her Social Media voice at her blog to raise awareness and money for rheumatoid  arthritis research.

From our own diabetes community, Kerri Sparling of Six Until Me comments on patients like Morgan and Britt being brutally honest via social media in her post “How Real Do You Want It?” Kerri’s conclusion: “Being honest about life with illness and disease can be the best, albeit non-prescribed, ‘medication’ yet.  While it may also frighten and unnerve, honesty and community can validate, and empower, and inspire.”

On the flip side, Dr. Margaret Aranda on her blog Perseverance talks about the tragic consequences when patients’ pleas for help are ignored — especially young women whose symptoms may be nebulous and therefore difficult to diagnose. The post “Invisible No More” is written by an MD who was in a tragic car accident; after seven years of being bed-ridden with dysautonomia, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and central diabetes insipidus (DI), she started to improve.

Dr. Aranda reports: “She had over 6,000 Facebook friends by then, most of them younger women with chronic illnesses that significantly and negatively impacted their quality of life. When her health improved, she wrote a blog telling her audience, friends and sufferers alike, that she would never forget them, and that she would continue to fight for the cause. Epilogue: In January 2013, a neurologist thought she was faking illness, and he let her fall to the hardwood floor during the physical exam when she closed her eyes while standing. She sustained another TBI with DI, and remains mostly bed-ridden.” Not good.

From KevinMD.com comes a brief but impactful post titled Be Emotionally Intimate with Your Patients, by Pamela Wible, MD: “When doctors are fully present, vulnerable — even emotional, patients are more likely to be honest, transparent, and open.” Yes, this post is about in-person visits, but if it weren’t for social media, you wouldn’t have physicians and patients all over the country reading and commenting on how to improve on what used to be called “bedside manner” (105 comments at press time)

And at Rock Health Blog, an interview with the founder and CEO of Covered.com Noah Lang is titled “Why Patients Need to Be Treated Like Consumers.” Among other smart observations about how people choose coverage plans, Lang says: “In the midst of the social media revolution, I witnessed both the underbelly of the personal data trade and the beautiful experiences that can be built when that data is used effectively… Personalization is not a commonly used word in healthcare. The “payer” focus is traditionally on the population, rather than the individual. I think it can be done a different way, particularly if we want to liberate individuals and families to direct their own health spending.” Amen to that!

On the lighter side, our DOC friend Mike Lawson of the Diabetes Hands Foundation and his own blog Socially Diabetic muses about what it would be like if his broken pancreas was on social media. Really, what would your ailing organs say if they could Tweet, Facebook and make Instagram postings all on their own?

For example, would Twitter know if your pancreas were depressed? This fascinating article from the TIME business blog explains How Twitter Knows When You’re Depressed ricocheted around social media in the last 10 days. “With its 230 million regular users, Twitter has become such a broad stream of personal expression that researchers are beginning to use it as a tool to dig into public health problems.” Woot! And you thought Twitter was just for playing when you’re bored at work…?

OK, but should you be cautious about using any online services that are for free? As in, what’s the business model? David Williams of Health Business Blog is exploring the pros and cons of “free” healthcare websites this week. “Websites that charge nothing to their users are pretty cool. But before you use them, consider how they’re making money and if you’re comfortable with what they’re doing with data about you,” he cautions.

Over at diaTribe, they’ve got a great resource called “Social Media for PWDs” (people with diabetes) written by none other than SM maven Dana Lewis. In “Learning Curve,” she provides a great intro for everyone from the newbie to the skeptic.

Kim Vlasnik of TextingMyPancreas has written a piece about self-tracking and diabetes, and how unlike using new-fangled technology for enhanced communication only, sensors and tracking devices “out her” about what’s otherwise an invisible disease. And she resents that. Man, there are a lot of layers to how we feel about these new tools.

On this same topic, Kim was part of a Jan. 28 hour-long #MedX online chat including several other e-patient advocates (read: Hugo Campos and Katie McCurdy). Worth checking out if you’re at all interested in issues of “patient adherence.”

And we certainly hope you all noticed the diabetes community’s Valentine’s Day initiative Spare a Rose, Save a Child, which uses social media to help those who don’t have access to the kind of care we’re used to in developed countries. See this post by D-Advocate Heather Gabel over at the Diabetes Hands Foundation, who describes it this way: “Beyond patient engagement, diabetes advocates in the DOC have found strength and power in numbers and come together to create, manage, and sustain a yearly initiative called Spare a Rose, Save a Child. Bloggers, Facebookers, Tweeters, LinkedIners, and RedditHeads are all talking via social media to bring awareness to this timely collaborative campaign. Spare a Rose, Save a Child is a gleaming example of how social media can be used as a platform for empowered and connected patients to positively impact the landscape of diabetes worldwide.”

HEALTHCARE PROS

It might surprise you to know that while ePatient Social Media still seems to be booming, there’s a robust conversation going on among healthcare providers about “The Slow Death of the Medical Blogosphere” — as reported by Dr. Wes Fisher, MD:

“… it is harder to be a cheerleader for social media when I see the mounting challenges real care-taking doctors and nurses are asked to face. After all,  not only are we tasked with the responsibility of being care givers, we are also being tasked with negotiating minefields of codes, becoming typists, consulting as business efficiency experts, and serving as social psychologists, too. If we could just add another eight hours to every day.”

In a response at 33ChartsBryan Vartabedian, MD, says he’s not surprised at the decline of “a world connected by nothing other than blogrolls, dynamic comment threads and the memorable blog carnival.” He believes that true creativity is key, and that video, images and microblogging are becoming the preferred vehicles instead of long-form writing. His conclusion: “I don’t think public doctors are going away.  We just share, create and relate differently.”

Susannah Fox at ePatients.net is a healthcare professional of another ilk: a “health-internet geologist” at the Pew Research Center. She recently experimented with “flipping” her use of social media, by posting her slides publicly in advance of an upcoming presentation. The result was that her slides were viewed 1,200 times on Slideshare before she ever presented, and she got lots of valuable input that way. Now that’s creative

Returning for a moment to our Love theme, check out Susannah’s report of a clinical trial in Kenya, which confirmed that human kindness is the secret ingredient to health and mobile phones are an ideal delivery system. At least that’s her interpretation. Which led me to another, older post of her’s titled “What Is the ROI on Love?” Three and a half years later, these Mayo Transform talks are still worth watching — about the power of empathy and personal friendships in healthcare settings.

PHARMA

Did you hear that FDA has finally published its long-awaited Social Media Guidance for Pharma companies? As reported by “PharmaGuy” John Mack, it’s all about mitigating risk and correcting misinformation.

At his respected Pharma Marketing Blog, John’s published a 2014 edition of the Social Media Timeline (embedded below) which “documents some of the key events in pharma’s social media quest, including its triumphs and tribulations.”

The Pharmaguy Social Media Timeline™ from Pharmaguy

Thanks John!

John also offers a link to more on the fate of pharma social media pioneers — who have NOT felt the love from their companies in recent years (many are departed). There’s something we’d like to see change.

Thanks to David Harlow of Healthblawg for keeping the HCSM Review alive. Click here to track upcoming editions.

Also, follow these: hashtags #hcsm #hcmktg #HITsm#healthcare #healthreform

And you can join the (unrelated) HCSM weekly chat on Twitter, too.


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Social-ized-Medicine

Social-ized-Medicine | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

As medical costs soar and as our health insurance systems falter, technology is offering some new tools for taking your health into your own hands. Many of these solutions have a strong social component. And for many, the social aspect seems to be working.

Sharing, it turns out, can help you stick to your diet, manage exercise, blood glucose levels, drive more safely and, of course, let you look in on the health of others. Businesses are also starting to look at sharing and connectedness as a way of helping their workers stay healthier, too. Here’s a few that are standing out within various areas:

FOR THE LITTLE ONES

GeoPalz ibitz: Kids and their families can share and compare fitness goals using ibitz, a small clip-on fitness activity monitor that comes in both adult and children’s styles. Wear them all day and they’ll record your physical activity. Bluetooth connects them to the cloud, where the data is recorded. Kids can earn cool prizes from places like Disney’s Club Penguin or other rewards, just for “moving.” And by sharing activity information, movement can become ingrained in the family lifestyle. The family that moves together, stays together.

FITNESS COMMUNITIES

This area abounds with services. Runtastic has a robust collection of apps, hardware devices and services that work on everything from building six-pack abs to a scale that records, tracks and shares your weight. Because all of your workout data can be recorded and shared, your motivation to succeed increases.

Another social exercise app, Activebudz by GOTRIbal, lets you find workout buddies or trainers in whichever city you happen to be traveling to. Then, there’s SparkPeople, a community-based fitness program harnesses the power of community to motivate and educate. The site has information on nutrition, workouts and training. SparkPeople has nearly 16 million users who they claim have collectively lost 23 million pounds.

FOR THE ELDERLY

Independa solves many problems that the aging population faces by allowing them to monitor everything from pill reminders to medical recorders. The hardware is available on tablets, and now, it’s even being built into LG televisions. Understanding that seniors need to feel connected and engaged with family, friends, and current events, the Independasystems include video chat, photo-sharing, Gmail, Facebook, and broadcast messaging.

Other systems like Great Call’s 5Star Urgent Response Transponder take a different tack. It’s a pendant that can be worn by an elderly person, and should they have a fall or need assistance, all they need to do is press a button. A service then uses SMS to contact family, friends, or even doctors.

CORPORATE HEALTH

Corporations are also tapping into the power of social media to improve health outcomes. Virgin Pulse counts on employee engagement to promote a healthier workplace. They use reward systems, tools and social strategies to motivate workers to stay healthier, offering bonuses and rewards.

United Healthcare offers similar social systems, including one used to espouse adherence to diabetes control (a rising epidemic). The Diabetes Health Plan offers financial rewards for following medically proven preventive steps such as having regular blood sugar checks, routine health exams and preventive screenings. The end goal? Comply with the plan, and you’ll eliminate out-of-pocket expenses.

The social component of digital healthcare should not be underestimated. Like social networking, crowdfunding, and other social behavior, it’s been increasingly clear that communications is key.


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Alex Lewis's curator insight, August 27, 2014 10:01 AM

I think the GeoPalz is a great idea. By providing children with rewards for exercise, they'll be more likely to exercise more often. This in turn will decrease child obesity. Child obesity is a serious problem in today's economy. A large percent of American children are considered obese, along with other countries.

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The side effects of pharma’s digital revolution

The side effects of pharma’s digital revolution | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

On a recent trip to the US, I couldn’t help notice the huge difference in the way American pharmaceutical brands are promoted compared to here in the UK. Vast sums are lavished on TV advertising prompting the good citizens of the US to ‘ask your doctor today’ about heartburn, insomnia, thin blood and, of course, erectile dysfunction. As if the scare-mongering messages aimed at men and women at a certain life stage weren’t enough, over two thirds of the ads were given over to the terrifying small print. ‘Side effects include…’ (deep breath).

My immediate response – ‘why?’ Surely there is a better, more cost effective, way to promote your brand given the changing dynamics of healthcare marketing? The rise of the empowered patient, access to information online, the decline of blockbuster drugs and the emergence of specialist treatments all fly in the face of mass-market ‘one-to-many’ TV advertising. Enter digital marketing, stage left.

On closer inspection, though, change is indeed afoot. US healthcare companies are spending far less on TV advertising compared to five years ago and are instead putting investment behind new digital solutions and a more targeted approach. TV spend dropped 10% in 2012 whilst pharma's overall direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising dropped by 11.5% to just $3.47 billion.

To understand the recent fall, we need to look back at the market context around the time TV advertising of prescribed drugs was first allowed in the US. A series of huge blockbuster drugs hit the market and pharma cos went to great expense to leverage their patent protection. It was Rufen, manufactured by Boots, to first get plugged on US television in 1983.

Worried about consumer safety and a legal backlash, the FDA introduced strict rules in 1985 requiring the ads to include significant risk information about the prescription drug in question. Hence the rise of the tediously long informercial, still present on US TV today. And pages of small print in press ads. But even this didn’t put the big drug companies off.

Now, the landscape has changed, meaning the limitless budgets of yesteryear (over $5 billion in 2006) don’t offer the same virtually guaranteed returns. Generics have eroded the market share of the big licensed brands and, more significantly, “citizen scientists” seek endorsement from their own social communities, rather than take the TV ads at their word, and look for genuine data-based persuasion from the drug companies and their doctors.

Hence the huge opportunity for digital in pharma. Today’s patient goes online first, to the surgery second. Brands should therefore concentrate on educating consumers, not just HCPs, with broader condition-based information that presents options and helps patients make the right choice.

Brands using digital to help, not sell to, consumers will reap the rewards as they will be seen to empower end-users. Hence the emergence of sophisticated apps, online health portals, and other digital innovations that slowly but surely are transforming healthcare, including the prescription and monitoring of medications.

Pharma companies are even further behind the curve when it comes to social media. A host of forces are at play here. Regulation cannot keep up with the technology, brands are terrified of leaving themselves open to litigious patients but, most fundamentally, the ‘always on’ 24 /7 nature of the medium jars with the painfully slow internal approval processes of most pharma companies. Imagine if every tweet you put out needed ten people to approve it? The moment would pass. It’s also telling that the MHRA, the body that regulates the advertising of medicines in the UK, has no reference at all to social media in its Blue Book guide.

But pharma will catch up. It has to. We are seeing more clients embrace digital – new websites, the trialling of e-commerce, the creation of patient communities and even baby steps into social media. Ultimately, consumers hold the cards so it’s up to the pharma companies to respond.


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Using Online Social Media Advertising Recruitment Method for Smoking Cessation Clinical Trials

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The Internet, Privacy, and Public Health: How Social Media and Big Data are Changing the Landscape of Surveillance and Research

The Internet, Privacy, and Public Health: How Social Media and Big Data are Changing the Landscape of Surveillance and Research | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Online social networks have potential to change the nature, speed, and scope of public health surveillance and research by offering a real-time stream of user-generated updates from millions of people around the world. In recent years, systems using informal data mined from social media sources have been credited with reducing the time it takes to detect an emerging outbreak, preventing governments from suppressing outbreak information, facilitating public health responses, and contributing to health risk behavior research in a quick and cost-efficient manner.

Despite the inherent public nature of social media, there are many ethical implications inherent in the systematic acquisition of personal information, especially that pertaining to health. Concerns surrounding social network data analysis include issues of privacy, data quality, public panic, autonomy, access, and informed consent. While online social network data analysis holds great promise, it is essential that this valuable data be systematically harnessed in compliance with the law and ethical principles to yield population-level health benefits.

Privacy Concerns

Advancements in information and communication technologies distort the boundaries between what is public and what is private. Users of online social networks often share identifiable information about themselves, including their full names, birthdates, email addresses, GPS coordinates, and job titles. By providing researchers with rich, ready-made data sets, social media is incentivizing researchers to develop innovative methods to search the Internet for health-related information. The mining and mapping of social networks have become a common practice, from market research to medical studies. However, it is important then to consider what obligations researchers and public health officials have in meeting their online subjects’ expectations of privacy.

The Code of Federal Regulations governing human subject research, 45 C.F.R. § 46.102, defines private information as individually identifiable information about behavior “that occurs in a context in which an individual can reasonably expect that no observation or recording is taking place, and information which has been provided for specific purposes by an individual and which the individual can reasonably expect will not be made public.”

While mining publicly available data from open sources is within the letter of the law, it raises a number of ethical issues. Some might argue it seems unreasonable that a public posting on a public site can hold an expectation of privacy. However, privacy can conceptually be considered to be an individual’s right to determine what information one would like to share with others and the ability to control when others can access that information. While the practice of data mining is growing, many social media users are unaware of how public their data truly is.

Researchers must take into consideration the level of sensitivity of the information detected, such as stigmatized health conditions. Recent studies have shown that the Internet is used more often to get health information by patients with stigmatized conditions, such as mental disorders and sexually transmitted diseases.  The misuse of such data collected from the Internet by researchers can lead to stigma, discrimination, and discomfort of the subject. With no national standard, researchers and bioethicists are left to grapple with the issue of determining what situations render it permissible to turn unsuspecting individuals into a research subjects without notification or informed consent. Historically, advancements in bioethics standards have been reactionary to human subject abuses. It is vital to resist this reactionary approach to the lack of oversight in internet research and take a proactive stance to develop acceptable standard operating procedures for the use of big data sets culled from online social network websites before foreseeable abuses occur.

Conclusion

Privacy concerns notwithstanding, the potential societal benefit of digital epidemiology remains clear. The use of social media has the capacity to transform disease surveillance and change how healthcare workers respond to public health emergencies. As public health threats become increasingly complex, trade-offs must be made to ensure the collective benefits of population health warrant infringement on individual rights, while balancing competing ethical, health, economic, and legal concerns. Public health researchers must work together with policy makers, medical professionals, and bioethicists to develop unambiguous ethical guidelines to answer to challenges stemming from today’s technological advances and changing communications structure.

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Interpreting Social Signals for Your Medical Practice as Part of an Overall Internet Marketing Strategy

Interpreting Social Signals for Your Medical Practice as Part of an Overall Internet Marketing Strategy | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it


We have been told that this is the year where social signals will become a factor in SEO. We now have more reason to invest in social media activities than ever before, but how do we generate social media focus that will be effective? The social signals generated by your online activity is now key, and Google+, Facebook, and Twitter are at the heart of it. What I like about the new semantic SEO and social interpretation by Google is that those practices that put in the effort of social media will be rewarded with higher positions when it comes to SEO ranking. We are going to need to think about social activity as voters. This does not mean for one minute that social signals are the end all, be all for SEO. Let's be clear...social signals are only part of the picture. Traditional elements of SEO are still in play when it comes to ranking.

How do social signals work to help SEO?
Social signals work in various ways. We are still in the beginning stages of understanding exactly what works.
While any answer to this question is highly debatable, I believe that social signals have both a direct and indirect impact on organic search rankings. Direct impact comes from:
Number of people that like your bran on Facebook
Number of Facebook shares and comments
Number of Twitter followers
Number of Tweets mentioning your brand name or including a link to your website
Number of people that have you in their circles on Google+
Comments are also important, but to what extent, I am not entirely certain. The current debate isn't about whether social signals impact on search engine rankings; it's about how much of a factor they are. And while we do not know for sure if they are close to or have even surpassed traditional backlinks as a ranking factor, my believe is that they are on the rise. I believe that a steady regimen of social activity will play into your exact organic ranking, and practices that choose to ignore this will lose ground. For practical purposes, a share is an endorsement for your content in the same way that a link is. It's a positive sign that your content is valuable. So more shares equal more positive vibes being sent to search engines about your content.


Considerations for social signal involvement
1. We may also need to consider some enhancement programs to increase Facebook likes. We have done various social media contests and utilized social media apps to help clients gain more likes on their Facebook business pages. This will be very important for your success with social signals. Gaining more likes on your Facebook page takes hard work and lot of persistence. There is also a debate about getting quality likes on your Facebook page. Quality likes are followers who actually participate in your developing social footprint by commenting, sharing and liking your page's activity.


2. We might want to look into the idea of publishing items via Google authorship. Google implemented the authorship feature as a way of distinguishing the original authors of content from duplicate content. It's also a nice way of attributing content to an author - who may publish on multiple sites - rather than to a website. AuthoRank as a measure of an author's reputation is also a ranking signal. Going back to social signals, when someone with a high AuthoRank likes and shares your content, it will be weighted more heavily by Google.


3. Content should be a mix of pop culture, community items, and health related objectives. Based on research, it is evident that popular items that pique followers' interest will generate more commentary than a post about, for example, the medical definitions of glaucoma or cataracts. Currently, there is a big focus on how to achieve content quality and social signals to show authority for SEO reasons. You will need to guide your social media team as to what this all means because posting things that followers do not pay attention to will not get you the desired SEO impact. You may need to find that crazy blogger in your practice that can produce engaging content because bloggers have now won some public trust. 63% of readers are more likely to be influenced by blogs than by magazines when deciding on a particular purchase


- See more at: http://www.glacial.com/site/blog/detail/2014/01/31/interpreting-social-signals-for-your-medical-practice-as-part-of-an-overall-internet-marketing-strategy.html#sthash.M01tXxpB.dpuf

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Use of Information Technology in Medical Education

Presentation at the annual convention of the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges, Century Park Hotel, Manila. 6 Feb 2014
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Nuria Parra Macías's curator insight, February 13, 2014 7:58 AM

Utilizando las TIC en la educación médica. Nada que objetar contra el vídeo que ilustra el concepto de flipped classroom: breve y conciso. 

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Doctors Going Social

Doctors Going Social | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Doctors, like other industry professionals, are feeling the pressure to engage in social media. In fact, according consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, 90% of doctors use social media for personal purposes. However, in such an information-driven field, less than half use it to grow their practice.

There are a number of reasons cited by doctors for not pursuing social media as a part of their business development strategy. They include an overwhelming workload, lack of knowledge about the best way to use social media, and fear of violating patient privacy laws.

Fortunately, with the right training and/or support all of these concerns can be overcome fairly easily.

Here are 5 points to consider when adding social media to your practice’s marketing mix.

1. Create business development, public relations (PR) and social media plans. This is the first step and a must for any practice to succeed long-term. Business development defines the methods used for systematically attracting, caring for, and maintaining relationships with patients over time.

Once you’ve identified how you will acquire and cultivate patient relationships, it is a good idea to work with a team to create a communications strategy that will create buzz about your organization through earned, or free, media coverage. The coverage gained from PR will build stronger brand awareness, trust, respect and referrals from future patients and peers than paid advertising alone.

Additionally, content generated through the PR process is an excellent source of fodder for social networking sites. It is informative as opposed to “salesy.”

2. Think local. Make sure your practice’s location information is claimed, updated and optimized in local search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo as well as in online medical directories like WebMD.com, Healthgrades.com, and Vitals.com. These sites make it easy for patients to learn about you and find your office – especially when they are using a smartphone.

It is also important to visit directory sites regularly to respond to recommendations or comments. Just because you haven’t registered on one of these sites doesn’t mean people aren’t talking about you or your practice on them. In fact, quite the opposite is usually true. I have found that it is always better to engage with these individuals sooner than later, especially if the feedback is not as positive as you would like it to be.

3. Engage in social communities for doctors. Since the majority of patients seen by doctors come through referrals, it is a good idea to join medical social communities like Doximity, Doc2Doc, or QuantiaMD to connect with other medical professionals. These sites not only provide an exclusive networking community for medical practitioners, they also offer a forum for sharing and learning about the latest medical breakthroughs.

4. Content, Content, Content. As a medical professional, you have unique knowledge that can help many people. In fact, a recent survey suggests that more than 84% of Americans search online for medical advice. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of misinformation on the web. If executed properly, your participation in sharing what you know can help correct inaccuracies and build trust with potential patients and peers in your local area. You can share your views via blog articles, video, audio, Twitter, slide presentations, and white papers. With a few exceptions, most of these tactics can be accomplished on the go with the help of a smartphone. Visit the Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages of Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Kevin Pho, and Arizona’s own Dr. Andrew Weil for inspiration.

When creating content for the web, it is best to keep your information general and factual in nature. Always recommend that the readers seek medical advice and never mention situations that might reveal a patient’s identity. With guidance and practice, you will master this craft expertly and gain a reputation of trust and thought leadership in professional and patient communities alike.

5. Leverage your personal relationships. Most professionals forget that referrals often come from the people closest to them. The same is true for the medical profession. Engaging regularly with friends and family as well as other highly respected professionals on sites like Facebook or LinkedIn can perform miracles for your practice. I recently met with a doctor who receives nearly 100% of his business from referrals yet he rarely connects with them. He knows very little about who is sustaining his practice. This is a recipe for disaster. What you appreciate, appreciates in value over time.

At your discretion, consider inviting doctors and other professionals with whom you have good relationships to connect with you on your personal social networking site as well as on professional sites. The practice you save could be your own.


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Healthcare Social Media and Branding

Healthcare Social Media and Branding | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Healthcare social media has become a foundational platform in the battle for brand awareness.  By branding across all social media venues, healthcare social media tactics can increase the visibility and awareness of your organization, company or products.

Of course, social media has become an integral part of our lives. On a daily basis, one checks their Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and/or LinkedIn accounts. And these accounts might include links to websites and YouTube. And from there they might be lead back to Twitter and then to a blog. The point being that social media is becoming an integral process and, of course, an important strategy in the development of healthcare social media programs. It is increasingly important to not only have a presence on these social media platforms, but to be branded among all of them. More and more pharma companies and organizations are utilizing healthcare social media in order to reach their audiences that use social media platforms. Healthcare social media can take advantage of branding among all platforms of social media to strengthen their social media presence.

To efficiently run your healthcare social media, it is important to identify what the most relevant information is to your audience. When someone comes to the Facebook page, what are they looking for? How is this different when they go to your Twitter page? Or when they look at your CEO’s LinkedIn profile? Establish what your audience is seeking and then provide the information in a user friendly way. Then create a seamless brand over all social media platforms. Moving from the YouTube channel to the blog to the Facebook page should flow smoothly and be effortless.

There should be design elements that unify each and every platform. And it should be clear that each platform was customized and designed with the user in mind. It is also vital that each platform link to each other. It is not necessary to create these functions or new social media platforms as most social media platforms already have built in ways to make this easy.

In deploying healthcare social media programs, it may also be viable for pharma companies and organizations to have multiple social media platform accounts. For example, your organization might have one twitter account for company generated news and another twitter account specifically for customer service. Likewise, each individual sector of your healthcare organization might have an individual twitter account. Through doing this, you can successfully direct your audience to the information that they want to receive.

Healthcare social media is about engagement; however, it should also be about brand-building.

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How Social Media Affects Healthcare

How Social Media Affects Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Social Media is rising to a new level never seen before as new sites or apps like Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and others become the new favorites over Facebook and Twitter, especially for the younger generation (18-24). But regardless of age or social platform preference, social media has an impact on healthcare and has become a general resource tool for many patients. In this article we will look at the top three reasons social media affects healthcare and how it affects you as a patient.

More than 40% of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health. (Source: Media Bistro)

As healthcare professionals, we have a social responsibility to create viral content that matters. The content that we provide must be current, thought-provoking, and dispel any rumors or inaccuracies. Most importantly the content must be engaging. At Natura Dermatology & Cosmetics, we implement what’s called a Social Engagement Calendar. Simply put this is a calendar with themed content we create around topics like #SkinTipTuesday and #WebHealthWednesday. It’s a healthy balance of medical and cosmetic posts. If you take a look at our Facebook page and compare it with other dermatologists in the area, the difference is clear – we create content that is thoughtful and meaningful, not just a weekly barrage of sales and specials.

18 to 24 year olds are more than 2x as likely than 45 to 54 year olds to use social media for health-related discussions. (Source: Media Bistro)

This is a very interesting statistic and a very important one for us in the healthcare industry, especially with the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) as we have already seen an uptick in this age segment in terms of appointments. If you are asking your friends what the best Sushi restaurant in Sunrise is or what their opinion of a new restaurant you are eager to try, chances are you and your friends are online asking them to recommend a medical office or provider to treat something that is ailing them at the moment. At Natura Dermatology & Cosmetics we are actively pursuing this age segment as we increase our presence on Instagram, Pinterest and Yelp to communicate to a younger audience in a new and authentic way. Even if they don’t need us now, they will know us in the future as authority leaders in our medial field of dermatology.

19% of smartphone owners have at least one health app on their phone. Exercise, diet, and weight apps are the most popular types. (Source: Demi & Cooper Advertising & DC Interactive Group)

Many medical journals have suggested practices consider launching a smartphone app for their practice or doctor. At Natura Dermatology & Cosmetics we have already done so! Being on the leading edge of technology we launched our app for iPhone and Android in early 2013 and have over 1100 downloads to date! Having a smartphone app is another exciting way to communicate with future and current patients. Our app offers many exciting benefits including requesting appointments, asking questions, and app only special discounts and offers. Download it today by searching Natura Dermatology in iTunes or Google Play!

Social media is here to stay and as a medical practice we must continue to embrace new ways to reach potential new patients through creative and innovative content creation and on platforms people are using regularly. At Natura Dermatology & Cosmetics, we are always open to new communication methods as the needs and wants of our patients change from year to year.

Contact us today to schedule your next appointment! Our friendly appointment schedulers are available Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm by calling 954.537.4106.

Founded in 2006, Natura Dermatology & Cosmetics is wholly owned by Will Richardson, MD FAAD one of Fort Lauderdale’s premiere cosmetic and general dermatologists. We offer Sculptra Aesthetic, along with fantastic facial treatments like the HydraFacial, Vi Peel, and Microdermabrasion. We also offer other age defying treatments like Botox Cosmetic, Dysport, Juvederm, Restylane, Perlane, Radiesse, Ultherapy Non Surgical Face Lift, Natura Sciences MD, non-invasive CoolSculpting fat reduction, as well as medical dermatology procedures like full body mole mapping, skin checks, and Mohs Skin Cancer Surgery.

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Beyond the Buzz: Healthcare Social Media

Beyond the Buzz: Healthcare Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Healthcare social media is more than just a marketing buzzword; as the Internet increasingly becomes the medium of choice for researching health information, social media has become an important channel for connecting with patients and disseminating and expanding the reach of healthcare information. Social media encompasses social networking sites (such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+), blogs, online communities, and user-generated content sites (such as YouTube and SlideShare). It is a radical shift in the way we communicate; the healthcare conversation is no longer a one-way narrative but is evolving into a global, participatory discussion facilitated by social media.

Perhaps you still remain uncovinced about whether it is really necessary or appropriate for healthcare to engage with social media? Consider this. One third of health consumers use social media sites to research health information, track and share symptoms and vocalize how they feel about their doctors, drugs, treatment plans, insurance and medical devices. Many say their choice of a specific doctor, hospital or medical treatment is influenced by social media. The fact is that patients are talking about you online whether you are there or not, so in the words of Bryan Vartabedian, M.D.: “Physicians have two choices, really. They can participate in the discussion that is happening online and frame the story, or they can let someone else frame the story for them."

Healthcare social media is characterized by its immediacy, transparency and reach. This is the future of medicine, and the future is now. We have digitally savvy patients and doctors, hospital videos on YouTube, and surgeons live-tweeting surgery. Social media will continue to disrupt healthcare in ways we are only starting to understand. But in order to realize its full potential, all stakeholders need to contribute and participate. Farris Timimi, M.D., medical director for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, maintains that social media “isn’t an addition to your job, [it] is part of your job." He explains that social media "is where our patients are these days and this is where we need to reach them. We can engage learners, patients and peers, and we are not limited by geography or time."

But with so many social media platforms, how do you know where to start? Are all channels created equal? How can you spend your time on social media most effectively? And for those who have already taken the plunge into social media waters, how do you take your marketing to the next level?

In my new fortnightly column, I will share insights, practical tips and best practice on how you can use social media to achieve your healthcare goals. You will learn more about developing your own social networks, how to use social media to disseminate health messages, connect with your peers and follow the healthcare conversations that are important to you. With a new year now underway, this is the perfect time to hone your social media skills. 

Erik Qualman, an international keynote speaker on digital media and future trends, says, “We do not have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is – HOW WELL WE DO IT.” Starting February 14, join me here on Health Works Collective to learn not only how to use social media in healthcare, but how to do it really well.


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