Social Media and Healthcare
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Social Media and Healthcare
Articles and Discussions on the intersection of Social Media and Healthcare.
Relevant to Healthcare Practitioners, Pharma', Insurance, Clinicians, Labs, Health IT Vendors, Health Marketeers, Health Policy Makers, Hospital Administrators.
Curated by nrip
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Medical Assistance on Social media

Medical Assistance on Social media | Social Media and Healthcare |
Graphs, Infographics
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Top 10 reasons I use Twitter in Healthcare

Top 10 reasons I use Twitter in Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |
I’ve been on Twitter for almost a couple of years now and when I talk to people about it, I still get a healthy dose of skepticism.

So I’ve put together a top ten list of why as a physician and medical educator, I use Twitter.

10: Connecting with Leaders
To be lead, you must know what your leaders are thinking. Twitter has made leaders accessible. Now, instead of spending time looking for their opinions or hoping to catch a handshake or meeting at a conference, they send their thoughts directly to me, in small increments of 140 characters, everyday!

9: Connecting with Followers
As physicians, you are a leader. Whether it ‘s in your office, your patient panel, your learners, your colleagues, your academic society, you have the opportunity (and responsibility? ) to lead and lead effectively. Twitter allows you to share your thoughts in small increments, reach a vast audience with minimal effort. Quoting #10, “To be lead, you must know what your leaders are thinking.”

8: Networking
The importance of professional networking cannot be understated. Twitter easily connects people with similar interests. In less than 2 years, I have been able to access a vast network of people interested in things that are important to me such as Primary Care, Medical Education, Social Media, Evidence Based Medicine and Healthcare Technology. In the past, networking for me occurred in spurts, at pre-determined locations over a finite period of time. With Twitter, networking happens 24/7, with little effort no matter where you are (and in your pajamas, while watching tv!).

7: It makes me an active learner.
All through my education I took notes. Writing things down helped solidify that piece of knowledge. A notebook was also useful for exams, reviewing and reinforcing information. Now instead of a notebook, I have a tablet and instead of a piece of paper, I use twitter. The 140 character limitations forces me to be succinct which makes my virtual notebook very easy to review.

6: I can educate the world

This is a grandiose statement, but Twitter makes it real. As a Medical Educator, I take pride in being able to influence the learners in my immediate proximity. With Twitter I can take all those notes (See reason #7) and broadcast it to learners in other cities, states, countries and continents! Currently I’m using the the hashtag #sbmgr to broadcast what we’re learning in our Internal Medicine Grand Rounds every Wednesday 8:30 to 9:30 AM.

5: I can attend multiple conferences simultaneously, year round.
Until human cloning technology advances, Twitter is the best way to be at multiple places at once. I wish I could attend every medical conference out there. But thanks to people who prescribe to reason #7, I can virtually attend other conferences through my smart phone, all throughout the year. There are thousands of people out there like myself, live tweeting from conferences. This year, I personally attended ACP and APDIM live tweeting from both. But in addition, while being back home, I followed the tweets from Kidney Week and Chest in the past couple of months.

4: It’s a forum for debate
Healthy debate is part of our lives as physicians. New guidelines and treatments are always coming up, and Twitter I get immediate access to viewpoints from a wide variety of people. I often get immediate feedback on my own opinions.

3: My mom taught me to share
We are all online, all the time. As a physician, I’m always finding a great journal article, an interesting blog, or an important news article. Before twitter, I had no mechanism to share that, besides e-mailing to a small set of people or writing it down somewhere and hope that I have an opportunity to suggest it to people. Now, every website has a Twitter link. You see something cool, you can share it with a large audience with just a few clicks.

2: The world at any given moment
Whenever I have a free moment, Twitter is my go to activity. In 2 minutes, I can scroll through a myriad of messages and get a burst of information from a network of my choosing. So it’s whether pumping gas, waiting for an elevator, a 15 minute lunch, a commercial break during the football game, Twitter helps me use these small snippets of time, constructively.

1: It broadens my mind
In patient care we are emphasizing a team-based approach that values the roles of every individual in a healthcare team. The same can be said for my continuing medical education. I think I have something to learn, from everyone. As a result I follow folks in Internal Medicine, sub-specialties, family medicine, psychiatry, surgery and so on. I follow nurses, physical therapists, social workers and patient advocates. I follow patients (not my own) sharing the story of their medical conditions. I am learning something from everyone from the palm of my hand.

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Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care

Presentation at a satellite symposium for the AAPM&R Annual Meeting.
rhalper's curator insight, January 5, 2014 7:18 AM

Very comprehensive overview by Mayo Clinic's Lee Aase

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Social Media for Doctors and Healthcare Professionals

Social Media for Doctors and Healthcare Professionals | Social Media and Healthcare |

Doctors and healthcare providers are already being talked about on social media…so, be proactive and join the conversation – or start one! Patients and consumers use social media to comment about their health experiences, to post reviews on doctors, medical procedures, medications, and more.

Get started – the top social media channels used by healthcare professionals are: Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google +, and Twitter. And, don’t forget, the news blog on your website is equally important. Review sites like Yelp are gaining traction. On Yelp you can write and respond to those reviews.

Improving patient and customer satisfaction is key, and using social media can help healthcare professionals and doctors increase their website’s search engine rankings:
• Active social media shows search engines that you are valuable and relevant. Google takes this into account when ranking your website.
• Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, and Google+ pages are indexed and appear on search engine results, especially Bing. It recently started indexing Facebook comments, as well.
• Shares and likes on social media sites increase the number of back links to your website.
• If someone “likes” something on Facebook, Bing promotes that content in his/her friends’ Bing search results.
• Active social media, linked to your website, also increases the rankings of your Google maps listing. And many times your Google maps listing may outrank your website.

While some healthcare professionals are still reluctant to become active with social media, some of the very well-known institutions have embraced it.  Look at Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media ( and Cleveland Clinic’s popular Facebook page (  Mayo Clinic also has created multiple Facebook pages dedicated to different medical specialties. They have both jumped in and made social media an integral part of their marketing strategies.

There’s no question that social media is growing in importance in the healthcare field and it is no longer an optional marketing strategy. So, go ahead, join the social revolution and get your rankings up at the same time.

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Social Media and Hospitals – Is access allowed or blocked?

Social Media and Hospitals – Is access allowed or blocked? | Social Media and Healthcare |

ocial media has become a part of our daily lives. We post on Facebook, share our thoughts in less than 140 characters on Twitter, update Google+, Instagram our latest pictures and post videos on YouTube.  With the constant sharing of information and time spent on social media channels, the question “should organizations allow or block access to social media sites from the work computers connected to the corporate network?” is often asked.

To get a better understanding of social media access within hospitals, we asked 640 Health Care Professionals in our Crowd the following question: “Does your hospital allow or block access to social media sties from work computers connected to the corporate network?”

Their results were split: social media access is blocked for 59% of the health care professionals that we asked, while 41% of the group is allowed access to social media channels on work computers connected to their corporate network. 

To give you a better sense of who answered, I’m going to break it down further:

Hospital Administrators: 50 administrators responded that access is blocked to social media sites for 66% of them, while social media access is allowed for 34% of them.

Physicians: of the 407 Physicians that we asked, 55% told us that social media access is blocked, while it is allowed for 45% of the physicians.

Nurses: of the 99 Nurses that we asked, social media access is blocked for 63%, while 36% are allowed access.

Nurse Practitioners: of the 84 that we asked 71% report that social media access is blocked on their work computers on the corporate network, while 29% are allowed access.

In all cases, more than half of each demographic is blocked from social media access on work computers connected to the corporate network. Physicians are granted the most access, while Nurse Practitioners have the least.  

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Social Media & Healthcare - Opportunities & Obstacles

Do you think social media and healthcare can go hand in hand? Pankhuri Anand from our social media team is an expert in managing social presence of Healthcare Organizations. Through this presentation, she focuses on the regulatory framework that governs most healthcare organizations and tells us the steps that one must take to carve out a social media strategy for niche domain like healthcare. A must see presentation if you are looking for best practices in marketing in the healthcare sector.
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Let's start a grassroots physician social media movement

Let's start a grassroots physician social media movement | Social Media and Healthcare |

It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

No where is this more apparent than working to get physicians to understand the potential of social media for their practice.  The adoption of social media by doctors — even something as relatively simple as Twitter, is tough.

Face it:  Thinking that a re-tweeting of how much we want more doctors on Twitter by next year is just preaching to the social media choir.  After all, those on social media are already supporters.  How do we get physicians who are not on social media to understand its potential value to them?

This is not a simple undertaking.  Doctors are being forced to spend more computer screen time than they ever wanted to thanks to the mandatory documentation requirements of electronic medical records.  What physician also wants to spend even more time glued to a computer screen — or cell phone — texting little tidbits to Twitter, posting pictures to Facebook, or browsing Pinterest photos?


For doctors to accept social media, they have to understand its value to them.  There’s only one way I know to do that: demonstrate it to them.

Those of us who are believers have to show them a well-organized RSS feed reader containing journal articles and news reports they’re want to say up up to date with and likely read.  We have to show them how to use social media to collaborate (in near real-time) with colleagues to write an article or crowd-source a talk.  We need to show them the contacts — many who they’d recognize — you’ve made around the globe.  Show them how they can lurk and get the information they need without having to expose themselves to any potential legal issues.  We should show new graduating residents and fellows how they can stay in touch with their professors so they can continue to tap their network for answers to difficult clinical questions and get a rapid response.

And if all else fails: we must show them how they can stay in touch with their kids once they leave their homes.

Then, slowly, one-by-one, a grassroots physician social media movement can begin.  Otherwise, we’ll just be preaching to our same old physician social media circle.

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Does Your Healthcare Organization Get Social Media?

Does Your Healthcare Organization Get Social Media? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Most healthcare organizations don’t get social media.

They simply use it as a PR and marketing shout-out and broadcasting tool. They have brought into their social media strategy the old-mentality of addressing their public as mere observers just like the obsolete TV, radio and paper news publishers did in the past.

This type of use is not only unproductive but it is also damaging in the medium and long hauls.

You no longer have an audience but instead you have participants.

The first thing you have to change in your social media strategy is your mindset. Instead of thinking in terms of an audience you must think in terms of participants.

Nowadays we have participants that not only want to interact but also want to influence. They want to influence direction and change.

Companies that develop products have to consider their new participants in social media as extensions to their product management team.

Blogs without participating commentary is simply the old-fashioned news where you simply have an audience.

Also, social media has to be used in a consistent manner and with a tactical approach.

Some platforms (e.g.; Twitter) are good for capturing your participants (observe that I’m not using the term audience).

Other platforms (e.g.; Facebook, LinkedIn) are good for interacting with your participants.

How does your organization manage social media?

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Social Media in Healthcare

Social Media in Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media in highly-regulated industries is a hot topic – and healthcare is no exception.  The healthcare industry encompasses a wide variety of specialties, making it even more difficult to draw concrete conclusions on the specific use and scope of social media.

The unique challenges – and opportunities – available to healthcare professionals via social media is worthy of review.  Regardless of where you are with your online marketing efforts, creating and integrating social media into an overall plan can be fruitful. Let’s break it down!

Unique Challenges
There are several challenges unique to the healthcare industry and most of them relate to fear of the unknown and the regulations that must be followed.

Many are afraid of violating HIPPA laws and endangering patient protection.  Some also fear that any advice they offer could be misinterpreted as ‘medical advice’ without a proper diagnosis.

The rules around what can be said/done on social media as it relates to any regulated industry can be vague. Some would rather not take the chance.

Unique Opportunities
While there are many in the industry who are embracing social media, it’s still a relatively fresh mode of communication. This is an opportunity for medical providers to build authority and become a leader in their industry.  And, for those who fear HIPPA, there is still a good amount of wiggle room. For example, social media can be used for the purpose of introducing new staff members to the audience, informing the audience of business happenings, and changes or additions to current service. Using social media effectively is a great way to establish credibility and generate referrals, which are critical to physicians.

For those who are targeting a younger demographic, social media presents a great opportunity as many younger folks use it as a primary form of communication. And young people are not the only ones. Adults ages 35-54 represent one of the fastest growing demographics on most of the major social media.

There are also many collaborative, research and professional-related networking opportunities available to those in the medical field using sites like LinkedIn. The internet poses an abundance of information and resources for medical professionals.

Determining Channels
I advise clients in all industries to choose a channel or channels that meet their specific goals and target their ideal clients. There’s no size-fits-all when it comes to social media.

For example, if you’re a physical therapist with a primary goal of communicating valuable tips to your existing patients, I might recommend considering Facebook and an e-newsletter or blog. A doctor or specialist may have a goal to connect with like-minded professionals who can help expand his or her knowledge base. In that case, perhaps creating or jointing a medical LinkedIn group would be effective.

Establishing Goals  
For those who want to use social media effectively, they must set realistic goals, integrate their social media efforts with their traditional marketing efforts and establish an effective plan for managing a consistent presence.

Realistic goals include: driving website traffic, building loyalty among existing customers, establishing credibility, enhancing search engine optimization (SEO), increasing audience engagement, raising awareness/educating, or driving foot traffic to a physical location. I recommend focusing on no more than three goals in the first 90 days.

Once the goals are decided and the channels are active, it will be important to integrate social media with other forms of marketing, like including Facebook URLs on print pieces.  Message consistency – throughout all marketing – is also important.

Social media success is something that takes consistent effort and energy, especially as it relates to content development.  It will be fundamental to set aside time to execute social media tasks or hire someone who can help with the management.  That being said, for those who plan to manage efforts themselves, they don’t have to spend countless hours. Keep in mind that you have the knowledge and expertise to offer value-added information and solutions to your audience – you just need to establish your rhythm for communicating your expertise.

Maximizing Efforts
The only thing that makes health care different from other industries is the need to protect patient privacy. That’s something that should be incorporated into in all forms of communications and company policies. I advise all of my clients to have a social media policy, which governs the use of internal and external use of social media, but I stress this with clients in highly-regulated industries.

Regardless of the industry involved, I find that many do not understand social media and its usages and, because of this, are reluctant to embrace it. My hope is that fear of the unknown does not keep anyone – especially those in highly-regulated industries – from establishing themselves on social networks.  Check outKevinMD for an example of how healthcare professionals can use social media to meet their goals.

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Viral video raises €1M for cancer research

Viral video raises €1M for cancer research | Social Media and Healthcare |

On the 3 December, the Dutch insurance company Ditzo started a unique campaign to help cancer research, all inspired by Professor René Bernhards, who works at the Netherlands Cancer Institute.

It all started when Professor Bernhards was a guest on the popular Dutch talk show “De Wereld Draait Door” (The World is Going Crazy), where he explained that with enough research, cancer could become a chronic disease rather than a deadly one.

The host Matthijs van Nieuwkerk summed up the interview by asking “We’re almost there, but we just need more money to solve it. Isn’t that right?”.

As an answer, Professor Bernhards explains that “money can solve a lot, it can solve cancer too. But it is always a question if people are willing to make the important choice and really invest”.

After this interview, the insurance company decided to take the step and invest. It came up with a campaign which would show the power of social media. On the third of December, Ditzo created a video, explaining that instead of broadcasting their commercials, the reserved advertising budget would be donated to Professor Bernhards’ cancer research. The video can be found at the end of this article.

The campaign worked like this:

  • for every view, Ditzo donated €1
  • for every share, Ditzo donated €2

Their goal was to gain a maximum of €1,000,000 before Christmas but they underestimated the power of social media, as this amount was raised in a mere four days.

The Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital and Netherlands Cancer Institute were naturally delighted with the result and they will use the money for people with specific tumors, giving them the individual treatment they need, as no cancer is the same. At the moment, these individual treatments are only possible for people with lung cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Research should make it possible for other kinds of cancer as well.

Divided opinion

Just before this campaign, there was a lot of discussion about insurance companies spending too much money on attracting “switching” customers. This occurs particularly in November and December when residents in the Netherlands decide whether to renew their insurance or choose a new provider.

Opinion was rather divided at the end of the campaign with some claiming it was all a big marketing stunt. With this video, Ditzo didn’t spend much money, but received a lot of promotion.

Marketing stunt or not, everybody is delighted with the fact €1,000,000 has been made available for cancer research. This horrible and devastating disease is still on this planet, yet we are one step closer to getting rid of it.

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9 Digital Health Trends For 2014

9 Digital Health Trends For 2014 | Social Media and Healthcare |

Healthcare IT is surging with activity -- so much that it's hard to predict which trends are likely to have the biggest impact in 2014. That said, it looks like EHRs will take a back seat; breakthroughs in electronic documentation are not expected in the near future. Other applications and devices, particularly those related to mobile health and big data, are taking off.

With all that in mind, here are some trends worth watching in the New Year.

1. Wearable monitors
A Consumer Electronics Association surveyreleased this month found that 13% of US adults are interested in purchasing wearable fitness devices (versus 3% in 2012), and 9% of consumers actually own such devices.

Wearable devices are not being used much to manage chronic conditions, but that could change. A number of such devices have been developed, and some are being tested. For example, as part of the University of California San Francisco's Health eHeart study, iHealth's mobile blood pressure monitor is being used to measure flow-mediated dilation, a heart health indicator traditionally gauged by ultrasound tests.

Eric Topol, MD, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, predicted in a HIMSS keynote speech last winter that, over time, consumers will start wearing or using sensors to measure their activity and changes in their vital signs. But Jonathan Collins, principal analyst for ABI Research, said that, before that happens, physicians will need to accept and value physiological data generated by wearables and other mobile devices.

[Cognitive computing will drive dramatic improvements in healthcare, says IBM. Read more: IBM Predicts Next 5 Life-Changing Tech Innovations.]

2. Smart sensors
As the aging-in-place sector of the healthcare industry grows, smart sensors that track the locations, routines, and activity of elderly people at home and in assisted living facilities are being more widely used. This telecare branch of telehealth includes emergency response systems, geolocators, and other kinds of devices that use smart sensors.

"Sensors can alert family members, for instance, if the patient has not risen and walked around in the morning, or if the lights have not been turned on during expected hours," a recent CSC report said. "Integrated sensors built into the home and/or worn by patients can enable geo-fencing and location-based alerting."

A new AT&T emergency response system uses accelerometers, magnetometers, and gyroscopes to track users' daily activities. If an elderly person falls and can't push the emergency button on a pendant, the device can identify the fall as a break from the patient's routine and alert a monitoring center.

3. Telehealth
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has blazed a trail in telehealth that the private sector may follow as it tries to contain costs and increase access. In fiscal year 2012, nearly half a million veterans received care remotely from 150 VA medical centers and 750 outpatient clinics. That included remote consultations, home monitoring, and store-and-forward services. Nearly 150,000 veterans participated in virtual visits with physicians, and remote monitoring made it possible for 42,000 patients to stay at home rather than being institutionalized.

The private sector lags far behind the VA but is starting to catch up in remote consultations. This trend has been fueled largely by health plans, which pay telehealth services to connect physicians with patients who might otherwise visit an ER or an urgent care center. American Well, one of the leaders in this field, recently started selling its service directly to consumers.

One obstacle to these initiatives is a patchwork of state laws that are inconsistent and often obstruct telehealth providers. Proposed legislation in Congress aims to reduce this confusion by giving states some guidance on telehealth regulations.

4. Google Glass v. Kinect
Google Glass's potential in the operating room is generating excitement among surgeons. Philips and Accenture recently demonstrated a prototype of a system that allows surgeons to view vital signs on a head-mounted Google Glass display while performing operations. In a Birmingham, Ala., hospital,surgeon Brent Ponce used the camera built into Google Glass to beam images of a shoulder operation to a colleague in Atlanta, who used a Glass app to share observations with Ponce virtually. Similar experiments are likely in 2014.

Microsoft Kinect, a motion-sensing technology used in video games, has shown it can help surgeons manipulate images in the OR while preserving a sterile field. Kinect allows a surgeon to rotate or enlarge images on a screen without touching a keyboard and wasting precious time by having to scrub in again. A 2012 study validated that the system can discriminate between intentional and unintentional gestures most of the time. Could Glass and Kinect be somehow paired together?

5. Speech recognition
Natural language processing is still far from ready for use in EHRs, but progress is being made. For example, Intermountain Healthcare has been testing what it calls the industry's first speech-enabled mobile app for computerized physician order entry. The pilot started with commonly prescribed medications and is expected to progress to lab orders. Meanwhile, a growing number of EHR vendors are incorporating speech recognition into the mobile versions of their applications.

6. IBM Watson
Judging by IBM Watson's activities in healthcare this year, we're likely to see more and more applications and innovations powered by the learning-capable supercomputer. IBM and the Cleveland Clinic have developed big data analytic tools that use Watson. The MD Anderson Cancer Center is using Watson in its Moon Shots program to find cures for eight types of cancer. IBM and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have co-created an oncology adviser that helps physicians select the best treatments for particular patients. WellPoint is using two Watson-based products it developed with IBM to streamline the insurance company's utilization review and prior authorization processes.

7. M-health apps
If the market for mobile health apps is ever going to take off, consumers and providers must have some way of distinguishing among the tens of thousands of apps on the market. The most comprehensive initiative in this area wasrecently unveiled by IMS Health, a research firm best known for its data on the pharmaceutical industry. IMS is offering ratings on all the 40,000-plus m-health apps in the Apple Store (or at least the 16,000 that are really health-related and consumer-oriented). It is also marketing a system for creating m-health "formularies" and prescribing these apps to patients.

HealthTap and Partners Healthcare's Center for Connected Health have created m-health curation offerings on a smaller scale. Happtique recently withdrew its m-health ratings program but may soon return to the fray. Competition in this area seems likely to heat up in 2014.

8. Cloud-based EHRs
There's nothing new about these products, formerly known as ASP-model EHRs. But a recent Black Book survey indicated that many independent physician practices are migrating to the cloud for integrated EHR/practice management systems. One reason is that these systems require a much smaller initial investment than client/server systems -- a benefit especially important when practices are switching EHRs to meet the Meaningful Use requirements. In addition, some groups use cloud vendors to outsource their revenue cycle management. The exemplar of this approach is Athenahealth, which beat out several bigger EHR vendors in a KLAS survey that ranked the usability of their products.

9. HISPs
Secure clinical messaging using the Direct protocol is expected to spread rapidly in 2014, mainly because of the information sharing requirements of Meaningful Use stage 2. As Direct grows, so will the number of health information service providers (HISPs), which are required to move messages and attachments securely between providers.

One key barrier to the development of this network is the inability of many HISPs to exchange information with one another. This is not a technical issue; it stems from a lack of trust among HISPs. DirectTrust, a nonprofit trade association, is addressing this problem by accrediting HISPs. The next step will be to create a national provider directory that lets providers use one HISP to locate the Direct addresses of providers that use other HISPs.

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How could crowdfunding help cure rare diseases?

How could crowdfunding help cure rare diseases? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Recovering the costs of research in rare diseases is a big challenge. Jenni Thorburn shares her experience of crowdfunding in rare diseases and how it can help patient groups such as the AKU Society.

Over 30 million people in Europe are affected by a rare disease. While the word rare gives the impression that only a small number are affected, 6% to 8% of the European population are estimated to have a rare disease.

Despite this, the word rare continues to have an impact. Currently, there are only 84 approved treatments available in Europe for an estimated 6,000 rare diseases. People affected by a rare disease suffer from misdiagnosis, a lack of effective care and often no treatment at all.

Crowdfunding could help change this. It's a way for the public to help fund projects by collecting small contributions from a large collection of people online. Crowdfunding has the ability to disrupt traditional models of finance, and it could be a breakthrough for medical fundraising.

Facing the Costs

One of the biggest challenges facing rare disease research is cost. Few drug companies conduct research into rare diseases because it's difficult to recover the cost of developing these treatments.

To help address this issue, orphan designation was introduced in 2000. The biggest financial incentive is market exclusivity for ten years, meaning similar treatments for the same condition cannot be marketed for ten years after the drug goes on sale. However, this does mean companies can charge extremely high prices for orphan drugs.

"While the word rare gives the impression that only a small number are affected, 6% to 8% of the European population are estimated to have a rare disease."

Whether it's research into understanding the disease or a potential drug, finding the funds you need can be hard. Once a company has found a drug which may work, they have to conduct clinical trials into its effectiveness. They're extremely expensive and it's even more difficult for rare disease trials. Finding interested scientists and doctors can be difficult, and identifying an acceptable number of patients to take part can be even harder.

What Can Crowdfunding Do?

Crowdfunding could help provide funds towards this research. It could even potentially help a rare disease patient gain access to a treatment.

The Rare Genomics Institute in America began a crowdfunding model dedicated to helping rare disease patients through genome sequencing. The project first connects a patient with a research institution, and then develops a budget which can be funded through crowdfunding. As many rare diseases are genetic, genome sequencing helps increase understanding of the disease – the first step in research. Rare Genomics Institute also plan to utilise crowdfunding to develop cures for rare diseases using stem cells. Their aim is to raise more money for rare diseases than the NIH in ten years.

Similarly, the patient group I work for, the AKU Society, recently conducted a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the international clinical trials it's involved in. While we received funding from the European Commission to cover the medical costs, we needed funds to address issues of patient support and travel.

"One of the biggest challenges facing rare disease research is cost."

But the rarity of alkaptonuria (AKU) means patients are scattered across the world – often the case for most rare diseases. The society needed funds not only to identify them, but to bring them from across Europe and beyond to the clinical trial centres. Without the patients, the trial would never be a success. The campaign brought in more than $100,000: a brilliant example of how crowdfunding can benefit rare disease research.

Making It Count

Another aspect of crowdfunding is raising awareness. Crowdfunding isn't just about picking a platform and fundraising on there; people must promote it as much as possible.

Crowdfunding has to be treated like any aspect of modern media. Campaigns must be interactive, wide spread and integrated. Friends, family and supporters all have to be informed. Social media must be utilised. It's not enough to simply set a campaign up and hope people find it. It's hard work, like a marathon, and you have to push it until the end.

You have to keep your crowdfunding page as up to date as possible. Posting regular updates about the campaign is crucial, so make sure you choose a platform which allows you to do this. It will remind people to donate and to tell their friends and family. It's also crucial to post photos and information as regularly as possible. Perks are also important: it provides a way for you to give back and say thank you to your supporters. You just have to make sure you choose perks that don't cost too much, as well as making sure they're unique and unavailable elsewhere.

Running an awareness campaign alongside crowdfunding can really help it succeed. Raising awareness is crucial for any rare disease. It could lead the way to making new contacts, and that one new contact may make all the difference. One of the most important things for patient groups, especially rare disease ones, is to form partnerships. With limited funds and manpower, they could provide the help you need.

"Your campaign could offer relief to a patient who previously thought they were completely alone."

You could also identify new patients. Your campaign could offer relief to a patient who previously thought they were completely alone. Often, people with rare diseases don't even know they have one. They may face years of misdiagnosis. Or if they are diagnosed, they may not be in contact with you, know about research being carried out or even know a patient group for their rare disease exists. For both the AKU Society and the Rare Genomics Institute, identifying patients was crucial to their projects success.

Why Would They Care?

Crowdfunding can help the causes which won't get funding elsewhere. It can often be difficult to get attention for the rare disease you want to help, and it's even harder to compete with large charities for more common conditions. Crowdfunding is an accessible, affordable way of getting your voice heard.

Through crowdfunding, you could find the vital funds needed for rare disease research. It could be the difference between the success and failure of your project. And it offers the public, and your supporters, the chance to potentially help cure a rare disease.

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8 quick tips for live-tweeting a healthcare conference

8 quick tips for live-tweeting a healthcare conference | Social Media and Healthcare |
Tips for live-tweeting a conference: Be timely, be original, be insightful. Two healthcare industry Twitter enthusiasts made this infographic to help.
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5 Resolutions for Your Hospital Web Strategy

5 Resolutions for Your Hospital Web Strategy | Social Media and Healthcare |

With New Year’s upon us, it’s a great time to take a look at what you can all do in 2014 to make your hospital Web strategy better than ever.

Here are five ways to get started:

1. Consolidate and focus your social media efforts. It’s easy to get caught up in the social media frenzy, but managing all of your accounts can be difficult. If you don’t stay on top of them all, the quality of the content you share on social media can go downhill fast. This upcoming year, focus on the social networks that work for your organization and shut down the accounts that aren’t worth your time.

2. Visit your Google Webmaster Tools account more frequently. Google’s Webmaster Tools is a great way to see the health of your website and understand how Google views your site and its content. Unfortunately, it’s another tool that requires time to understand and use. For 2014, make it a point to stop ignoring Google Webmaster Tools , it’s easy to get started and you’ll have a better understanding of your site from the search engine’s perspective.

3. Dig deeper into your Google Analytics account. Google Analytics is a powerful tool that can give you daily insights into how your visitors interact with your website, but just looking at the overview page won’t give you all the information you need. One of your goals for 2014 should be to try to dig deeper into details like top content pages and mobile traffic numbers. These stats will help you make informed decisions on what your visitors want and need.

4. Content, content, content! 2014 is setting up to be another year where we say, “Content is king!” over and over again. Fresh, original content will continue to be the best way to engage your users and build your brand online. Don’t think this has to be a major process, either. Content such as video clips, quick blog posts, and sharing your brand’s story via social media all help to extend your brand in a noisy online space.

5. Utilize paid search options more strategically. The realm of paid search continues to grow and get more complex. This year, focus your efforts even more strategically by targeting your audience by location, mobile device, interests, and more. By building campaigns that take advantage of the newest targeting options, you’ll reach the exact user with your message at just the right time.

There you have it. Five easy ways to get more involved with your website in 2014 and build a stronger understanding of what your audience and visitors are looking for. Take small steps, ask for help when you need it, and make 2014 a great year on the Web!

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Digital Marketing for 2014: Social, Mobile, Desktop

Digital Marketing for 2014: Social, Mobile, Desktop | Social Media and Healthcare |

Think about how your habits have changed in the last few years. If you wanted to Google something or check email, you used to have to go to your desktop or laptop computer. In the age of smartphones and tablets, it is far easier to access information anytime, anywhere. The way people interact with information is also changing, as more people join social media platforms and trust their connections when it comes to where they spend their money…and what doctors they see.

With mobile and tablet integration becoming ever more prevalent and social media becoming the new word-of-mouth, it’s necessary for doctors to take a step back and assess where they stand.

Is your website mobile friendly?
This is becoming more important as more people use mobile for everyday web surfing. Search engines will actually favor websites in their mobile rankings if websites are mobile friendly over websites that are not. If your website takes too long to load on a mobile device, many users will exit before it fully loads. Only the most committed user will then attempt to open the same site on a desktop computer. Medical Marketing Solutions only designs and engineers mobile friendly websites to not only keep up with the requirements of search engines, but to make the user experience better.

Where are you at from a social media standpoint? 
Social media is a great medium for physicians. While medical rating websites often do not give you any control over the posts users make, and so if a patient posts a dishonest review about you or your prescribing practices, you are unable to do anything about it. With many social media platforms, you can often remove dishonest reviews, and you can apologize and offer to rectify the situation for patients who have valid complaints. Medical Marketing Solutions offers full social media integration with experienced social media analysts to encourage patient interaction and boost visibility.

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Social media for medical professionals – how to counter the ill effects of Dr Google

Social media for medical professionals – how to counter the ill effects of Dr Google | Social Media and Healthcare |
The events created a social media firestorm and heralded a completely new era of medical communication.

It also marked a line in the sand - by broadcasting in social media, doctors, nurses and associated medical practitioners expose themselves to possibly greater risk than any other group, because their profession demands the highest standard of conduct.

An Australian nurse used a fake account to set up a Facebook page under a pseudonym attacking a colleague whom she considered to be lazy and incompetent. The nurse sent a legal letter both to her colleague and the hospital she worked for, which was referenced on the social network. The offender was subsequently sacked but not before creating considerable damage to her colleague’s reputation. The case is ongoing.

This and many other cases mean that hospitals now include compliance with a Social Media Policy in their employee contracts.  But that’s not the worst of it.

Social media and search engines are also awash with people providing misleading medical information. This includes everyone from well-meaning Facebook friends to the manipulations of multilevel marketers, who promote the “proven health benefits" of everything from the acai berry to ganoderma.

What can a medical professional do to counter all this rubbish?  Social media coach Leila Henderson believes "you simply cannot stop patients consulting Dr Google, but wouldn’t it be better if the information presented was evidence based, useful, and actionable?"

Social media can be used in different ways by medical professionals, each imposing different risks and restrictions:

Doctor-to-public:  relatively common as a means of marketing a medical practice or directly communicating issues surrounding a practice or community, this tends to be website-based or included in a Facebook page that does not allow public posts.

Doctor-to-patient: rare due to concerns about privacy and liability, as well as the difficulty in documenting interactions. While patients would love to embrace this type of interaction, they forget or are unaware of the restrictions under which doctors must operate.

Doctor-to-doctor:  doctors may set up “private groups” but these would used only to share general information.  Discussion of patient information in any public network is obviously out of bounds.

So, on the upside, medical practitioners can use social media to:

  • positively influence the health debate
  • positively influence the health of patients
  • educate themselves on misinformation

But on the downside, any medical professional who participates online has to beware of three major pitfalls:

  • Potential for accusations of unethical behaviour
  • Potential to infringe professional doctor-patient divide
  • Potential to infringe colleague-to-colleague privacy

Ms Henderson says that while the Australian Medical Association provides professional guidelines, most behaviour boils down to common sense:

  • You should set up separate accounts for your practice, for yourself personally and for communication with colleagues
  • Say nothing and publish nothing you would not want to see plastered on a billboard on the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Don’t talk about patients at all – it is then impossible to violate their privacy

"On balance, I think medical blogs, whitepapers, slideshows and surveys are useful tools to educate, listen, coach and mentor people where they are currently looking for information," Ms Henderson says. “When doctors share their knowledge and experience online, everyone can benefit.”

Kilian Fisher's curator insight, January 7, 2014 5:38 AM

This highlights need for Fitness, Health Clubs, Leisure Sports, Spa, Aquatics to have a Social Media Policy as I ahve advocated at all our Seminars and other Speaking engagements Internationally. 

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Five healthcare innovations to get excited about

Five healthcare innovations to get excited about | Social Media and Healthcare |
With Canada’s aging population, the fact that about 40 percent of women could develop cancer in their lifetimes, and that heart disease and stroke are among the leading causes of death in women, it’s likely that many Canadian women will require medical treatment at some point in their lives.

Given this critical need, hospitals in Canada are quickly becoming the most innovative in the world. Many are being designed to provide patients with access to faster and better-quality care while others allow patients to take more control over their own health care needs. Here are 10 innovations you can get excited about:

1. Mobile health careSmartphones and tablets make it easy to monitor health care information on the go. Count calories, track physical activity, calculate body mass index (BMI) and ask medical questions.

Try it for yourself: Bant is an app developed in Canada that simplifies diabetes management for patients.

2. Social mediaUsed by patients to share health care information, new support sites let people connect with others undergoing similar experiences, to share advice and provide comfort and encouragement.

Try it for allows anyone dealing, either directly or indirectly, with cancer to share their experiences and build supportive relationships. is Canada’s first social network and online resource for families and friends of people with diabetes. is an online information and support resource that uses social media to connect young people diagnosed with cancer.

3. Bedside technologyHospital rooms are going high-tech with new interactive patient portals providing communication, education and entertainment—patients can contact nurses and order meals, learn more about their condition, as well as access TV shows and movies.

Toronto’s Humber River Hospital, opening in 2015, will be North America’s first fully digital hospital. Using the latest technologies to put patients and families at the centre of their care, the hospital will have online registration and electronic health records and bedside room-environment control.

4. Point-of-care diagnosticsLab tests are critical in diagnosis and monitoring of patients with acute and chronic diseases. These tests are largely done in central laboratories in hospitals or reference laboratories. Advances in point-of-care testing (PoCT) technologies allow for some of the routine tests (such as blood sugar and certain other critical tests) to be run outside of the laboratory quickly, often with just a few drops of the patient’s blood. These tests offer the convenience of fast and reliable results. PoCT programs allow for faster assessment and monitoring of patients, and improve patient care.

National Research Corporation Canada has developed a Point-of-Care app that allows health care leaders making hospital rounds to deliver real-time data and reports to other departments so patient issues are resolved quickly. This leads to a better experience for patients.

5. Virtual visitsRemote monitoring of patients allows for virtual visits to be conducted by teleconference or video conference – a specialist from across the country can examine a patient and give a diagnosis, saving the time and high cost of travel.

Try it yourself: Ontario Telemedicine Network is the world leader in telemedicine, using innovative technology to streamline health care processes, while also expanding the way knowledge is shared and how the medical community interacts with each other and with patients.
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Four Trends for Social Media in Healthcare in 2014

Four Trends for Social Media in Healthcare in 2014 | Social Media and Healthcare |

Have you sent a Tweet to your local hospital yet? Don’t laugh – 64% of hospitals are already using Twitter.*

Many of the trends that healthcare is seeing in Twitter and other social media platforms will become more mainstream in 2014. The payoff will be great - hospitals and doctors will be able to build stronger relationships with their customers.

These are four top trends I think will emerge in 2014 and beyond for social media in healthcare.

1.       Patient engagement – 41% of patients say that social media affects their choice of provider in some way*. More providers will realize this and use social media to do a better job of communicating with patients with things like ER wait times, community crisis information and even live Tweets of medical procedures.

2.       DIY Health Sites – More patients are taking a do-it-yourself approach to their treatments, and looking to connect with sites that can offer guidance. Health care providers will step in to this role increasingly in 2014.

3.       “Edutainment” sites - There is also a growing trend of online sites that offer health and wellness tools, or “edutainment.” These sites put a fun spin on steps we can take to keep healthy, like tracking exercise or diet. More healthcare providers will roll out their own sites so they can better connect with their patients. It’s a $1.7 billion industry that’s projected to reach $6 billion by 2015*.

4.       Predicting Trends – The next big thing will be predictive analytics. In the not-too-distant future, healthcare providers will be able to use people’s conversations online to predict large scale health events, like flu outbreaks. By having this knowledge available, health systems will be better able to prepare with staffing and supplies before their clinics become swamped with sick people.

With more ways for us to communicate than ever, it’s important for healthcare providers to take the opportunity and listen to what their patients are saying.Astute SRM is a sophisticated social media listening tool to deliver market intelligence from online social media conversations. It listens, analyzes, manages traffic and allows for engagement with your customers. Astute SRM can even help health care providers see conversations that they are not a part of, but should be.

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Tapping social media to gain expert knowledge

Tapping social media to gain expert knowledge | Social Media and Healthcare |

More than 60 percent of physicians scan or explore social media daily or weekly, and the majority of them believe that using social media can improve the care they deliver.

That’s according to a study eMarketer released earlier this year. Indeed, about 30,000 physicians have watched or discussed presentations from Mayo Clinic experts since November through QuantiaMD, a social learning and collaboration platform. The on-demand, voice-over-PowerPoint presentations allow physicians — regardless of practice setting — to ask questions of presenters and participate in peer-to-peer dialogue in a format similar to Facebook.

Once a presentation has been posted on QuantiaMD, physicians in the online community can view it on web-based or mobile devices, and then typically have a two- to four-week window in which they may post questions for the presenter. "A discussion thread unfolds right underneath the presentation," explained Greg Shenk, vice president of marketing at Quantia.

"It's the collaboration that really makes the site unique," Shenk told Medical Practice Insider. "Sometimes, even before the presenter can reply, another doctor will have chimed in and already answered the question. The presenter can comment, 'Yes, that's absolutely correct' or add something on top of what has already been said."

Presentations range from about five to seven minutes in length. Shenk said physicians tend to view the content after office hours or between patients at lunchtime. Topics are clinically oriented — for example, focusing on areas such as depression or young-onset colon cancer — but also address practice profitability. The typical physician spends about 20 minutes per session interacting with peers on the site, according to Quantia.

Quantia said about 30 percent of physicians nationwide use their platform to learn from experts or collaborate with peers. Shenk noted that some 200,000 physicians visited QuantiaMD last quarter.

Shenk added that Mayo Clinic is using the platform to communicate research or clinical information with doctors across the country. "It's an opportunity for them to continue to build on their thought leadership in the physician community."

Overall, Quantia has about 750 clinical faculty members that work with the company's editorial team to produce presentations on the site.

"This social media setting provides a unique opportunity for us to engage physicians on their time about important clinical topics that can benefit their practice and patients," said Dawn Davis, MD, practice chair of dermatology at Mayo Clinic, in a prepared statement.

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4 Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media in Healthcare

4 Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media in Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is a great tool for marketers to leverage for their clients, especially in the healthcare industry where social media platforms are changing the ways of patient interaction. A Pew Internet and American Life Project study found that 72 percent ofinternet users say they look for health information online.

Even healthcare leaders are starting to pay attention, most notably with the website symplur, which is dedicated to social media in healthcare. Symplur provides a plethora of information for those looking to engage with their audience through social media and a sure sign that social media in healthcare is here to stay. The question then becomes, how should marketers handle their social media accounts? Here are four do’s and don’ts of healthcare social media to keep in mind for 2014:

Don’t continue a sensitive conversation publicly

If a sensitive tweet or comment is directed at your account, take the necessary steps to deal with the issue privately. Carefully handle the situation and then take the conversation offline quickly. Once you have handled the issue you can then follow up again to let other followers you have addressed the issue.

Do leverage social media in time of crisis

This is where crisis communications 101 comes in handy. People are turning to social media platforms more than ever to receive updates on breaking news. Joining social conversations about controversial company news can be a great way to help you control the conversation before it gets out of hand. Responding and addressing concerns of followers shows you care about the public’s reaction, instead of remaining silent at a time when others are looking to you for answers.  It also helps to develop a social media crisis communications plan beforehand, so you can jump into action right away.

Don’t only post content

Social media is social for a reason, so engaging with your followers is huge. A Pricewaterhouse Coopers study found that 41 percent of people share their experiences socially. Instead of missing out on connecting with your audience, use social media as an opportunity to engage and form relationships through thoughtful discussions. If a follower feels that an account is paying attention to what’s being said about them, they’re much more likely to reach out.

Do develop transparency

Healthcare companies are often criticized as money-minded corporations with little to no regard for who their services or products affect. Turn this around and optimize your online reputation by starting an open dialogue with your followers. They’ll begin to rely on you for knowledge marketing and thought leadership as you continue to provide relevant, honest information.

What great examples of social media use have you seen from the healthcare industry?

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Social media health check: Is your strategy on life support?

Social media health check: Is your strategy on life support? | Social Media and Healthcare |

It’s time to zero in on your social media strategy and determine if you’re having an identity crisis (online, of course). Do you think your digital strategy is healthy or lingering on life support?


Your messaging must be: 

  • Cohesive
  • Integrated
  • Consistent


The Big Picture

Keep in mind that strategy is the big picture and tactics are the everyday activities to help you achieve success in your big picture (vision).

Do you have a written vision of what you want to achieve and why it’s important to you?

This is not about money. It’s about doing work and providing products and services that you are genuinely passionate about. Don’t panic; you won’t need a 63-page business plan. A few lines can provide clarity and a foundation for our next steps.

Does your staff know your vision? Are they enthusiastic and fully committed to it? Do they use the same verbiage and language in describing the company as the CEO?

Have you identified your niche, ideal client, and target market?  Do you know their specific challenges, needs, and problems AND how your company can solve them? Which Twitter chats and LinkedIn groups are decision makers involved with? What’s your message to them? If you are a B2B company, you must focus on what your customer’s customer needs.

Think of your marketing like this: Your prospect and/or client has pain (problem) and you have the medicine (expertise) to ease their discomfort. Focus on the results you get for people, not the title on your business card.

Let the Journey Begin

To create a cohesive, integrated, and consistent strategy, the place to begin is with your website. This is the hub of your identity and activities.

The goal is to use various social and traditional communications to lead people to your site. Once there, you want to keep visitors interested and engaged with valuable information and a clear call to action. Be sure your site is easy to navigate. Simplicity is a good thing.

What do you want visitors to do? Sign up for something, watch a video, subscribe to a newsletter or download a free e-book?

Keep a watchful eye on Google Analytics to see the bounce rate, time spent on the site, and other important metrics. Your focus should be on list building and your sales funnel (monetization).

Another critical part of your online presence and website is the title tag. That’s the short phrase or descriptor with keywords at the top of your site. This phrase can help you hyper-focus on your services.  These few words directly impact search engine optimization and rankings.

This point may seem obvious, but be sure to have a professionally designed logo, color scheme, and visuals that communicate the heart of your company. The tone and feel are important.

Your 11-point-Checklist
  1. Your blog. Like your website, your blog must be current, offer sound advice, and be written in a casual voice. How often do you post? How do you decide on content and frequency? Hint: It goes back to the challenges of your niche market. Does more than one person post? Is the voice of your blog in harmony with your main messaging? Who are your readers and why have they chosen your site over millions of others?  
  2. Your e-zine or newsletter. Does your newsletter include the title tag from your site? Encourage people to connect online by listing your social links and URL.
  3. Your videos. Do you have an opening and closing slide with your company name and/or logo? Is your website woven into the text so the speaker can subtly promote it as a resource?
  4. Your e-mail marketing. Does the same common attitude of helping people shine through? Don’t sell; build relationships with your target market. Use your title tag descriptor, and forget the jargon, rhetoric, and BS.
  5. Your social profiles. Do your profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and your other channels have (nearly) identical language that’s crystal clear in describing how you help people?
  6. Your business cards. Are business cards are a thing of the past?  I don’t think so, but not everyone agrees.  If you have cards, do you have one or two social links listed? Do you really need your fax number or is it obsolete?  Your logo and consistent punchy phrase of how you solve problems and get results is what people are looking for. Clear, uncluttered, visually pleasing. Dump the cutesy titles; focus on the prospect/client.
  7. Your e-mail signature line. This is an area that tends to be forgotten. Your social links, website, and anything that separates you from others should be included. Use live links as well. Remember, the goal is to get people back to your site or profile.
  8. Your “about us” page. These pages tend to be static, but if you update them periodically with staff changes, awards, accomplishments, and links to new testimonials, it can be compelling for visitors to stay on your site and poke around.
  9. Your Pinterest boards. Is it absolutely clear from your visuals and pictures the field/industry you’re in? Is your profile congruent with your bio, title tag, e-mail marketing, and blog?
  10. Your bio line. Do you have two versions (long and short) that are used at the end of your bylined articles, white papers, and case studies?  
  11. Your traditional print marketing pieces. Many industries find success in mailers, print advertising, and other traditional marketing channels. Do these pieces have that thread of consistency and clarity that are congruent will all of the above? Is your message, clear, concise, compelling, and visually appealing? Does your contact information and call to action stand out?

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Hashtag Health - The flu and twitter

Hashtag Health - The flu and twitter | Social Media and Healthcare |

A social media–monitoring program led by San Diego State University geography professor Ming-Hsiang Tsou could help physicians and health officials learn when and where severe outbreaks are occurring in real time. In results published last month in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, Tsou suggested that his technique might allow officials to more quickly and efficiently direct resources to outbreak zones and better contain the spread of the disease.

“There is the potential to use social media to really improve the way we monitor the flu and other public health concerns,” Tsou said in a prepared statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines flu season as the period from October through May, usually peaking around February. But the unpredictability in exactly when and where outbreaks occur makes it difficult for hospitals and regional health agencies to prepare for where and when to deploy physicians and nurses armed with vaccines and medicines.

There's about a two-week lag in the time between hospitals first noticing an uptick in flu patients and the CDC issuing a regional warning. Tsou and his colleagues, funded by a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation, wanted to find a quicker, more efficient way to identify these patterns.

They selected 11 U.S. cities and monitored tweets originating from within a 17-mile radius of those cities. Whenever people tweeted the keywords “flu” or “influenza,” the program would record characteristics about those tweets, including username, location, whether they were original tweets or retweets, and whether they linked to a Web site.

From June 2012 to the beginning of December, the algorithm recorded 161,821 tweets containing the word “flu” and 6,174 containing “influenza.”

Tsou compared his team's findings to regional data based on the CDC's definition of influenza-like illnesses (ILI). Nine of the 11 cities showed a statistically significant correlation between an increase in the number of tweets mentioning those keywords and regionally reported outbreaks. In five of those cities, Tsou's algorithm picked up on the outbreaks earlier than the regional reports. The cities with the strongest correlations were San Diego, Denver, Jacksonville, Seattle and Fort Worth.

“Traditional procedures take at least two weeks to detect an outbreak,” Tsou said. “With our method, we're detecting daily. Original tweets and tweets without Web site links also proved more predictive than retweets or those that did include links, possibly because original and non-linking tweets are more likely to reflect individuals posting about their own symptoms.”

The next step in Tsou's ongoing research will be hunting for even finer-grained correlations between ILI data and specific symptomatic keywords like “cough,” “sneeze,” “congestion,” and “sore throat.”

Tsou envisions this kind of “infoveillance” applying to a range of public health, such as monitoring regional incidences of heart attack or diabetes. “In social media, there's a lot of noise in the data,” Tsou said. “But if we can filter that noise out and focus on what's relevant, we can find all kinds of useful connections between real life and cyberspace.”

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Social Media for Healthcare Professionals

Learn how social media can effectively connect with your target audience and qualify prospects, lower your costs and provide long-term benefits.
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Social Media in Healthcare - A Transformation.

Social media has moved beyond being a tool for young individuals to share their private lives (pictures, messages) to fostering serious discussion on technolog
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Health Care Providers Use Different Strategies on Social Media Sites

Health Care Providers Use Different Strategies on Social Media Sites | Social Media and Healthcare |

ealth care providers are pursuing different approaches as they seek to establish a social media presence, the Wall Street Journalreports.

Social Media Use Among Physicians

According to the Journal, physicians are using social media to:

  • Engage with patients and other physicians; and
  • Relay useful health messages to the public.

Some physicians report using professional physician networks or social media tools offered by their employer, while others are communicating with patients through personal social media accounts on websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Jake Varghese -- a family physician in Georgia -- said that he communicates with patients through a portal and other tools provided by his employer. He said that he would not feel comfortable "friending" a patient through his personal Facebook page.

However, Jen Brull -- a family physician in Kansas -- said that she is comfortable with becoming Facebook friends with patients who are her friends offline. She added that she is willing to give those patients medical advice through the website because it fits with the way she practices medicine.

Meanwhile, Mark Ryan -- a family physician in Virginia -- said that he does not mind patients following him on Twitter even though his updates sometimes reflect his views on political issues related to health care. He said if patients choose to seek him out on Twitter, it is their choice to learn about his personal views.

Concerns About Online Physician Behavior

Physicians' willingness to engage with patients through social media outlets has raised concerns about protecting patient privacy and maintaining appropriate professional boundaries.

Some professional organizations have released guidance about online behaviors that could be considered inappropriate for physicians. For example, a recent survey of state medical board officers published in last month's Annals of Internal Medicine examines online actions that likely would result in an investigation of a physician (Wilde Mathews, Wall Street Journal, 2/4).

According to the survey, online behaviors that would "likely" or "very likely" result in an investigation of a physician include:

  • Misrepresenting treatment outcomes, with 81% of respondents saying that such action would trigger an investigation;
  • Posting patient images online without consent, cited by 79% of respondents; and
  • Misrepresenting credentials, cited by 77% of respondents
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