Social Media and Healthcare
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Social Media and Healthcare
Articles and Discussions on the  intersection of Social Media and Healthcare. Relevant to Healthcare Practitioners, Pharma', Insurance, Clinicians, Labs, Health IT Vendors, Health Marketeers, Health Policy Makers, Hospital Administrators.
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The argument for healthcare professional social media use

The argument for healthcare professional social media use | Social Media and Healthcare |

When we look at the impact of social media in health, we are almost certainly confronted with potential for controversy. As with all change – that is, away from traditional paradigms – we are challenged to find an appropriate understanding about the line between good professional practice and practice which may harm in one form or another.

In their recent paper ‘Social media: the way forward or a waste of time for physicians?’ DeCamp and Cunningham present arguments both against and for the use of social media by the healthcare profession.

DeCamp argues that the ‘risks of social media outweigh their benefits’ whereas Cunningham aims to show how through real-world precedents the benefits are already outweighing the risks.

…in one corner we are examining healthcare professional social media in the context of direct-to-patient advice, whilst in the other we are examining its use in the context of professional networking and peer development.

For the context of this article, permit me to paraphrase what I see as being the key points:

The case against:
  • Just because patients are using it, doesn’t mean HCPs should
  • The ‘digital divide’ will grow and discriminate against those patients who are not proficient in social or Internet technologies
  • Physicians do not have relevant expertise to meet patient’s wide and varied needs in social media.
  • Much of the time, friends and family are searching online on behalf of a loved one.
  • There are ethical and professional issues
  • Healthcare professionals with limited experience are ‘more likely to make mistakes when they use the technology.
The case for:
  • Engage by listening and learning from patients, organizations and physicians
  • Share and inform peers about innovations and best practice
  • Think about deeper human issues and share
  • Learn from other people’s mistakes
  • Challenge one another
  • Have a sense of belonging and receive support
  • Express leadership to realize change
  • Continuous professional development
  • Inspiring others to new heights
For patients or for peers?

My simplistic interpretation of this ‘current controversies’ paper is that in one corner we are examining healthcare professional social media in the context of direct-to-patient advice, whilst in the other we are examining its use in the context of professional networking and peer development.

Wouldn’t you prefer to know that your physician is staying up to date with the very latest thinking, whether or not you would choose to friend them on Facebook?

Herein lies a key observation that I have also seen in the many studies of therapy conversations among healthcare professionals conducted using Creation Pinpoint. It is the peer relationships that are key to growth and to keeping healthcare practice at the frontier of innovation.

I for one am tremendously excited about the great conversations and networking that healthcare professionals are seeking, despite the risks. Wouldn’t you prefer to know that your physician is staying up to date with the very latest thinking, whether or not you would choose to friend them on Facebook?

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Is healthcare ready for native advertising?

Is healthcare ready for native advertising? | Social Media and Healthcare |
The other day while trolling around the internet in the world of healthcare, I came across an interesting social media infographic: 41 percent of patients say social media affects hospital choice courtesy  I thought that factoid was pretty interesting.  Then I started thinking about the connection of this factoid to native advertising.
If you not familiar with the term “native advertising”, the simplest way to explain the concept is that it’s online advertising that seeks to gain attention by providing content in the context of the social media or online user’s experience. Native advertisement fits the form and function of the user’s experience in which it is placed.

Now given that 41 percent of people are using social media to choose a hospital and that number will grow over time, native advertising offers healthcare providers a large target audience rich environment to reach with relevant brand content woven into the context of the user experience. I am assuming of course in this statement that social media utilization by healthcare marketers is becoming more diversified, creative, and contextually appropriate to their brand.

That assumption may be debatable, but if a healthcare provider is ignoring social media and using the medium solely as a billboard for the warm fuzzy quality and we’re the best messaging when the market is evolving to a semi-retail model based on price and quality, well, they are missing an opportunity to build brand and revenue.

But I digress. So what does native adverting look like? Let’s start with what it is not.

Native advertising is not advertorial advertising. It is not an ad box. It is not automated.

Now let’s look at what native advertising is. Native advertising integrates high quality content in the user experience. It is delivered in stream and does not interrupt the user experience but adds to that experience. It is selective, remaining true to the brand in the context of the user experience.

If you are looking for examples of native adverting take a look at Facebook, The Washington Post, and the NY Times.  Oh and I would suggest that you hire an agency. Native advertising is not easy and is the next big wave in 2014 to come crashing down on under-resourced healthcare provider marketing departments.

You will need to do the market research to understand the social media habits of the particular healthcare audience segment in your marketing plan. One will need to segment the social media native advertising efforts because one size does not fit all. The content that is developed may fit in and work well on Facebook, but not on Google+ or LinkedIn as an example.

It should be remembered that native advertising should be used in an integrated fashion within the marketing mix of the organizational efforts with direct mail, trade shows, programs, thought leadership, advertisements, public relations etc.

Native advertising offers the healthcare provider the opportunity to standout within the context of the use experience.  And when so much time and attention is given to the healthcare consumers experience, shouldn’t that be extended to the advertising experience as well?

I leave it up to you to decide if healthcare provider’s are ready for native advertising.
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How to manage social media for your hospital?

How to manage social media for your hospital? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Incentivizing Social Media

Having media accounts is useless without followers. Few patients have a reason to follow their hospital on Facebook — it’s up to marketers to convince them otherwise. Start by asking patients to like your pages and profiles (put your info on a business card, perhaps?) and even incentivize the process with drawings of gift cards for the gift shop or discounted parking, etc. Or, if you’re really into making a splash in the online community, send patients information via social media about upcoming appointments and health information they may find informative. The same idea applies to emailed newsletters, text message appointment times, and other reminders.


Marketers have found that people react better to bright, attractive imagery rather than boring blocks of Web text. When you’re making posts or publishing blogs on social media, accompany them with multimedia like videos, infographics, and images. People are more likely to halt their newsfeed scrolling if they come across something that pops off the page. Think visual when you start out on your campaign and find pictures and graphs that accurately reflect your information.

Website Linking

Websites can be like secondary storefronts for hospitals and healthcare organizations. In terms of social medical marketing, link to and from your website with your social profiles and keep it stocked full of new, original, and accurate information about your hospital and your service lines. As mentioned, the best marketing campaigns set you up as a professional authority in a field. Writing pamphlets, articles, and blogs can help support this idea — all you have to do is link them through to your website.

Enlisting the Masses

It would be impossible for you, a busy healthcare marketer, to do all of this on your own. Instead, enlist help from your staff and other experts. Did you get new technology? Ask a doctor or nurse to write up a few hundred words that you then publish on your website. Don’t be afraid to try new things, either; sometimes the most successful strategies are the ones no one has ever tried before.

Going Forward

The most important thing to do is to keep at it. Don’t give up if you don’t have every Facebook follower in town; focus instead on the long-term goal of creating an online brand and presence. Healthcare is a difficult, competitive field on the Internet. It is your job, and you should employ social healthcare marketing in order to support your organization as a source of valuable healthcare information and to provide patients with information.

Nuria Parra Macías's curator insight, January 26, 2014 5:05 PM

"Don’t be afraid to try new things, either; sometimes the most successful strategies are the ones no one has ever tried before". Sin duda, es una de las claves del éxito.

C. Todd Livengood's curator insight, January 27, 2014 2:06 PM

Essential in generating awareness and developing meaningful relationships with your community, your future customers.

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Social media fuel online row over Merck’s Gardasil

Social media fuel online row over Merck’s Gardasil | Social Media and Healthcare |

In today's digital age, a brand's reputation is affected not only by stories in mainstream press but by the actions of any number of individuals in social media. For pharmaceutical company Merck, when a story about its Gardasil HPV vaccine was aired on a recent US television show, the story fuelled controversy that rapidly spread worldwide.

Intense social media activity

This was not the first time that Gardasil has been at the centre of intense social media activity. Over recent years, numerous stories have spread as blog posts, videos and updates have been shared among consumers claiming risks associated with Merck's HPV vaccine. Facebook hosts several pages that have been set up to warn consumers about the product.

Also actively circulating online are numerous counter-stories refuting the alleged dangers. Indeed, in the eyes of consumers and patients it may appear that there is much confusion over the product.

TV show sparks online response

When US talk show host Katie Couric recently interviewed a mother who blamed Merck's Gardasil HPV vaccine for the death of her daughter, the response in social media was immediate. The show, which is syndicated by Disney / ABC Television Group, spawned a wave of comments and stories about Gardasil that rapidly spread worldwide.

"This was not the first time that Gardasil has been at the centre of intense social media activity."

Online reactions to the TV show reflected the confusion about Gardasil. Numerous tweets, videos and blog posts were published worldwide, repeating the show's claims. "Side effects, deaths and it does not prevent cancer", read a tweet written in Spanish by Colombian online radio host @jebuke, linking to a blog post entitled "Katie Couric Presents The Truth About Gardasil" and a video clip from the show.

Figure 1: Stories about Gardasil spread worldwide after Katie Couric's TV show.
Source: Twitter

Arguably however, the story turned out to be at least as much of a PR disaster for the Katie Couric show as it was for Merck. Several mainstream media titles criticised the show, including Forbes which reported that Couric had "stacked the deck against the HPV vaccine" by downplaying its effectiveness.

In the Forbes story, Matthew Herper reports that "Despite the attempt at balance, I think most viewers will be left with the impression that the vaccine is dangerous and that its benefits don't outweigh its risks – a conclusion that is not shared by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention."

"Arguably however, the story turned out to be at least as much of a PR disaster for the Katie Couric show as it was for Merck"

Many who read Herper's article were outraged about the show, and expressed their fury to Couric directly via Twitter. "Horrible irresponsibility from a bad "news" person", read one of many tweets sent in response to the Forbes story.

Figure 2: One consumer's reaction to Forbes' report on Katie Couric's TV show about Gardasil.
Source: Twitter

Healthcare professionals join online discussion

Healthcare professionals joined in the discussion too, apparently with one voice. Whereas consumer views in social media covered a wide range of opinions, doctors largely agreed that the show's coverage of Gardasil was damaging to public health and they too responded strongly.

@CatchTheBaby, an obstetrician and gynaecologist based in California, was one of a number of healthcare professionals who addressed Couric directly by tweet: "@katiecouric How could you?!"

Figure 3: One of many angry tweets sent to Katie Couric by healthcare professionals.
Source: Twitter

"Damn media. Ms. Couric, care to discuss with a GYNECOLOGIST?..." tweeted @jscalici, a gynaecologic oncologist.

Figure 4: A gynaecologic oncologist questions Katie Couric's conclusion about Gardasil
Source: Twitter

Social media: an opportunity for vaccine brands

With regulatory constraints regarding the marketing of vaccines being less stringent than they are on other prescription drugs, social media presents a compelling opportunity for engagement around vaccine brands and public health.

Merck was an early adopter of social media among pharmaceutical companies, at one time actively engaging consumers on the topic of cervical cancer. In 2009 I wrote about Take a Step Against Cervical Cancer, Merck's Gardasil-branded Facebook page which had more than 100,000 fans and was at the time one of the most successful examples of pharmaceutical initiatives on Facebook.

By 2011, that page had been taken down, and the company has since adopted a far more cautious approach to online engagement. Today's Gardasil web page is by contrast a painfully static experience.

"Today's Gardasil web page is by contrast a painfully static experience."

Other social media resources published by Merck around cervical cancer include a YouTubeplaylist featuring videos of personal stories in English and Spanish languages. But engagement is nowhere to be seen, and sadly the playlist feels like a kind of social media 'ghost town'. Comments are disabled, and some of the videos have been viewed less than 40 times since being published six months ago.

Lessons from Merck's experience

What lessons can be learned from Merck's Gardasil experience? For any brand that attracts controversy, social media will provide an early indicator of messages spreading, and it is likely that individual influential advocates and detractors will develop.

In the case of Gardasil, there are clear groups of individuals with particular views, and some significant online influencers including healthcare professionals. One of Merck's opportunities is to listen to the online influencers, and identify and support the vaccine's online advocates.

But perhaps the greatest lesson for Merck and other pharmaceutical companies is that the concerns of stakeholders expressed openly in social media reflect their real needs for information. If the company does not respond to their needs online, they will find, develop and spread answers from wherever they can find them.

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Pharma, Social Media, & Mobile A Happy Ménage à Trois?

A presentation I made at the Third Annual Pharma eMarketing Congress in Barcelona on 11 September 2013.
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Social Media: A Patient’s Information Tool of Choice

Social Media: A Patient’s Information Tool of Choice | Social Media and Healthcare |

Most patients and healthcare consumers prefer using social media to look for information relating to their health and medical care. Take a peek at why social media is an emerging trend that you can utilize to boost your online medical and dental practice marketing efforts.

According to the digital marketing agency, around 40 percent of consumers comb through Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Healthgrades and other social networking platforms to find healthcare reviews. When browsing for medical information, patients prefer websites such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. About 25 percent of these healthcare consumers have shared health-related information on these social media websites. Moreover, roughly 41 percent of people admitted social media plays a significant role in choosing their healthcare provider.

For medical, dental and other healthcare practitioners, social media is your friend; your ally. Use it to gain valuable access to the lives of people seeking care. Social media can also be used to increase your practice’s awareness, improve patient engagement, manage your online reputation and augment your practice’s marketing and advertising efforts.

Connecting Lives

Social media is a great platform for interacting with and educating healthcare consumers on matters relating to treatment and care. As a healthcare provider, you can also provide expert support through online conversations with your patients experiencing certain health conditions. But make sure you don’t discuss any private patient information.

Increase Practice Awareness and Patient Engagement

Do you want to spread the word about your practice? Do it through social media. According to, Facebook has about 1.15 billion users. On the other hand Twitter has around a half–billion users. With these websites’ massive reach, along with today’s prevalent use of mobile devices and smartphones, you are sure to engage your patients where they hang out.

Nurture Your Reputation

Since everything is accessible through the Internet, you, as a healthcare practitioner, should be mindful about how online healthcare consumers perceive you and your practice. You can use various social media platforms like Yelp, Healthgrades and Vitals to manage your online reputation and improve online users’ impression of you and your practice.

At a time when people turn to online resources like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to look for everything they need, concentrating your practice marketing efforts through social media is a smart, practical move.

TheSocialPhysio's curator insight, January 25, 2014 8:27 PM

I have said it before, and I will say it again. Your next patient is looking, researching and hunting for you ONLINE! Have a presence, demonstrate your skill and your effectiveness and the phone will start RINGING!

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Why Use Social Media When I Get Business From Word Of Mouth?

Why Use Social Media When I Get Business From Word Of Mouth? | Social Media and Healthcare |

If you’re sidestepping social media marketing because you get your business through word of mouth, there are two things you need to hear:

1. Congratulations for providing excellent service.
2. You are losing new business opportunities.

Your work is so good it’s moved customers to recommend you. But even with this great reputation, you are still short selling yourself because you aren’t using social media for marketing and networking to let more people know about you.

The good news is it’s never too late to talk about it through social media tools.

Increase Word Of Mouth With Your LinkedIn Presence

LinkedIn is the new Yellow Pages: a business will be passed up altogether if it can’t be found on LinkedIn. According to the Pew Internet and Social Networking Project, 20% of adults who actively participate in social media networking use LinkedIn.

A basic LinkedIn account is free. Follow the user-friendly wizard and create your optimized LinkedIn profile. Once you have your profile set, search for customers who are on LinkedIn (there is a tool that searches your email account for names on LinkedIn) and send requests to each one asking for your pages to link. After they accept your invitation to link, ask for endorsements of your business or specific skills you have listed on your page. These endorsements are as valuable as the customer testimonial page you have on your website.

Join LinkedIn groups matching your professional interests. Read and contribute to group posts and discussions to learn about new opportunities, developments, and issues which can impact you and your customers.

Get a Twitter Feed

Everybody tweets! According to Pew, 18% of adults who are online use Twitter. Like LinkedIn, Twitter is free and as a bonus it is ridiculously easy to use. Take a few minutes to set up an account, look around the site, and you will see why more than 550 million people subscribe to Twitter to keep up with sources they know and respect.

Tweet about items you think would interest your customers. For example, if you’re a CPA, tell your customers about the new option to claim deductions for home-based businesses on Schedule A instead of Schedule C. Or if you’re a physician, tweet an article (maybe one written by you?) about how the American Heart Association messed up on the new statin drug recommendations.

Link your Twitter feed to your LinkedIn account and your website to maximize its reach.

Think Twice About Facebook

In spite of media backlash, Facebook remains the king of social media. Pew says 67% of adults who are online use Facebook. New research indicates that Facebook is now the most trusted online source people use to get recommendations for products and services.

Facebook’s business pages provide helpful statistics and insights about who’s been checking out your page and Liking it. However, you or an employee must check your page pretty often for two reasons:

    • Make sure no one is posting inappropriate comments. (You can remove and report inappropriate posts.)
    • Answer questions visitors leave for you; many could be leads for new business.

Before you start a Facebook page, look at other business pages to see the comments they attract and how they handle negative ones. For extreme examples, the Facebook pages of your state or US Representative or Senator can provide quite an education in Facebook awareness.

If your business relies on word of mouth marketing to generate revenue, it’s worth your time to get involved with social media. There’s no better way to increase the word of mouth you’re already benefiting from.

Johnny Hosker's curator insight, September 30, 2014 12:22 AM

this article illustrates the importance of social media. Word of mouth can be very beneficial to a brand if the things said are positive. Without social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn, the reach and therefore benefits of positive word of mouth can be limited

Rawwad's curator insight, October 2, 2014 3:02 AM

I totally agree with this, and this is crucial for businesses today due to the influence of social media on consumers behavior such as increase connectivity, conversation, content creation and collaboration among customers. 

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Researchers' tweets move science forward

Researchers' tweets move science forward | Social Media and Healthcare |
Social media is changing the way that scientists are interacting with each other and with the global community. One example is the way that researchers use Twitter to increase the impact of their research. David Shiffman, a Ph.D. student at the University of Miami's Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, describes the advantages of tweeting during the development of scientific publications.

Incorporating Twitter into the different stages of a scientific publication allows scientists to connect more quickly, facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration and makes it possible to communicate results to a large and diverse audience, according to Shiffman. It also encourages post-publication conversations about the findings.

"Social media, which allows information to be shared instantly around the world, gives internet-savvy scientists the ability to drastically accelerate the pace of scientific communication and collaboration," says Shiffman, who was recently named one of the top biologists to follow on Twitter (@WhySharksMatter) by the Huffington Post.

Although some scientists have mixed feelings about using Twitter for scholarly purposes, it's only a matter of time before the scientific community embraces social media, says another author of the study, Emily Darling, a Smith Conservation Research Fellow at the University of North Carolina.

"Many scientists may think they don't have time for Twitter," says Darling, "But a little effort can provide enormous value for communication and outreach. The solution is to just give it a try."Shiffman and his collaborators document examples that support the scientific and scholarly use of tweeting, in a study titled "The role of Twitter in the life cycle of a scientific publication," published in the journal Ideas in Ecology and Evolution.

Other co-authors of the study are Isabelle M. Côté, professor of marine ecology in the Department of Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University, and Joshua A. Drew, lecturer at the Department of Ecology Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia University.
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2014 Social Media and Consumer Health IT Forecast

2014 Social Media and Consumer Health IT Forecast | Social Media and Healthcare |

Several driving forces set the stage for U.S. health care in 2014, defining the broad health market landscape in the nation:

  1. The Affordable Care Act’s provisions went ‘live’ on January 1, 2014, with health insurance shoppers looking for health insurance in the preceding twelve weeks. By Jan. 1, over one million people had signed up for health insurance through the online Health Insurance Marketplaces (Exchanges).
  2. U.S. employers that sponsor health insurance this year are increasingly migrating workers toward consumer-directed health insurance – high-deductible health plans bundled with health savings accounts. Employers are also expanding wellness programsto workers and dependents, seeking to improve health behaviors with the ultimate goal of moderating medical spending. In moving toward HDHPs and defined contribution (away from defined benefit plans), companies are also spreading more financial risk for health care to workers.
  3. Hospitals and health providers are taking on more financial risk for population health, along with working to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 for patient engagement. Together with looking to manage readmission penalties for Medicare patients, health providers are paying greater attention to processes and technologies that can more effectively manage patients in the right care setting at the right time.
  4. As a result of these 3 factors, and some peoples’ self-activation in health, people are taking on more self-health care tasks for administrative, clinical, financial, and “shopping” with respect to personal and family health.

Together, these mega-forces are shaping the 2014 landscape for consumer health IT.

Transparency tools get traction. More consumers are looking for price and quality information that has been available in various forms provided by government agencies for several years. While there hasn’t been much uptake by consumers in using these sources of information, there’s evidence that people are doing more price-shopping for health care the way they’re used to researching automobiles and washing machines. The publication ofTIME magazine’s Bitter Pill story in May 2013, highlighting the vagaries of health care pricing, was a sentinel event in U.S. health care. This story fanned demand for trustworthy sources on health pricing. Several start-ups are addressing this need: one,ClearHealthCosts, is a portal that does the heavy lifting of organizing prices for various health services available in metropolitan areas. This is indeed heavy lifting as the companyCastlight Health, attracting $100 million of venture capital in May 2012, continues to build its database and adjust its business model. Consumers are also looking to each other in the search for transparency and access to current information on best health providers and services in their community, learned through this PwC survey which identified  several sources consumers use for healthcare ratings including consumer forums, consumer ratings sites, healthcare companies, ratings agencies, independent, non-profit organizations, and government/state agencies.

People go shopping on emerging online health marketplaces. More consumers learned to shop for health insurance on Health Insurance Exchanges (Marketplaces) in 2013. Uninsured, under-insured and insureds managing high-deductible health plans will look for health care goods and services based on price, quality, accessibility and other personal values. Online health care marketplaces are emerging to help people find doctors, book appointments, identify surgeons for procedures, and price services. ZocDoc, now available in major metro markets, started-up in Manhattan enabling consumers to find doctors and schedule appointments. PokitDok gives people a marketplace for finding and pricing physician services.

Consumers will get more social about health. There’s growing evidence that health is social: consumers do better with social tools to lose weight, for example. Social media are increasingly used to monitor disease outbreaks and to recruit patients for clinical trials. The WEGOHealth community continues to grow with health advocates and patient activists paying-it-forward for peer patients, and doing quick-turnaround market research among patient cohorts. Over 1 in 3 U.S. adults use social media for health in some way, and this numerator will grow in 2014 with older peoples’ growing use of Facebook and other social networks. (Also see “transparency” trend, above).

Physicians start prescribing mobile health apps. When it comes to mHealth apps, some physicians might not cotton to the concept of “prescribe,” but will still recommend more apps to help patients in losing weight and managing chronic conditions. SeeeClinicalWorks’s 2013 survey of physicians, 89% of whom said they’d be interested in prescribing mobile health apps to patients. The limiting factor here is discoverability for clinicians: the wild west uncatalogued environment of the app store (whether iOS, Android, or Blackberry) doesn’t enable doctors to effectively and quickly identify useful apps for a particular patient at the point-of-care. The challenges of Happtique, which launched in 2012 as a credentialing service for health apps, also constitute a warning event on the bumpy ride toward physician app prescriptions. On the upside, the launch in December 2013 by IMS Health of the AppScript project signals a large, mature health IT company looking to fill this real need.

Remote health monitoring will grow in adoption beyond the pioneering early adopters now that reimbursement is in place for the first such device. The FDA’s approval ofWellDoc’s FDA approved BlueStar, which enables doctors to prescribe a mobile health medical device to be used by patients managing diabetes, signals that providers will be reimbursed for use of the device with patients. Ford Motor Company, Rite Aid, and DexCom are among the employers who have also added this device to their prescription benefit plans for covered employees.

Consumer’s use of activity tracking will be over-hyped in 2014. The digital health and fitness program of the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show will grow 40% over 2013, featuring more wristbands, smartwatches, and digital health devices targeting consumers’ health (and pocketbooks). However, it is critical to recognize the Pew Research Center’s finding in 2013 that, while 7 in 10 people self-track some aspect of health, 49% of trackers say they keep track of progress “in their heads,” 34% say they track the data on paper, and only 21% say they use some form of technology to track their health data. Digital health hype for consumers must be taken for what the Garner Hype Cycle calls the “Peak of Inflated Expectations,” with 2014-2015 representing what may turn out to be the “Trough of Disillusionment.”

Caregivers get more attention in healthcare. Several start-ups are focusing on supporting the growing role of the caregiver on the health team, including CareTicker (a Startup Health member) and Unfrazzle, developed by Rajiv Mehta who is a health IT serial entrepreneur. The AARP report issued in August 2013, The aging of the baby boom and the growing care gap, highlighted the resource constraints of family caregivers in America. Watch for health plans and employers to pay more attention to this long-overlooked member of the care team to help prevent caregiver burnout.

Uncertainties to keep in mind: In any forecast, it’s good to be mindful of uncertainties. For consumer-facing health IT, keep the following provisos on the back-burner…

Patient engagement segmentation. It is absolutely not a done-deal that all people want to engage in health. For those people who are health-activated, some may opt out of the traditional health “care” system in favor of holistic or complementary health (e.g., chiropractic, homeopathic) or simply use the pharmacy and OTCs, where data on utilization lies outside of the health insurance claims system.

Privacy breaches: will a “Target effect” further erode consumers’ trust in digital data?The holiday 2013 news that Target, the popular retailer, compromised the credit card data and PINs for 4 million consumers could further exacerbate peoples’ faith in the security of their personal digitized information. With this bleed into consumers’ perceptions of PHI data security?

Will the FDA further tighten rules on mobile medical apps? While the FDA issued guidancethat better defined what constitutes mobile health devices for regulation in September 2013, there still remain grey areas about which health lawyers could argue.

With the advent of the ACA and employer-sponsored health care at a crossroads, U.S. health citizens are being asked (some say “forced”) to stretch new muscles as health consumers. Health IT tools, consumer-facing medical devices, information sources and mobile health apps are being developed on the supply side to help people assume this growing responsibility and risk. How people will respond on the demand side will unfold throughout 2014, and beyond. The HIMSS Connected Consumers Committee will continue to monitor these developments and re-assess our forecast ongoing.

Mary Therese Dinga's curator insight, September 17, 2014 7:27 PM

I love the idea of physicians "prescribing" healthcare apps, after seeing remote monitoring tools work with a CHF suffering family member.  When the trusted sources collaborate, we will all be better off!

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Why It's OK to Tweet About Cancer

Why It's OK to Tweet About Cancer | Social Media and Healthcare |

Ken Jennings — yes, that Ken Jennings — put it best. "Terrified I might get cancer," he tweeted this morning, "because what if Bill and Emma Keller yell at me."

He was referring to a pair of opinion pieces — Bill's, in The New York Times, and Emma's, in theGuardian — that assess the ethical dimensions of cancer. Both Kellers tell the story of a woman named Lisa Bonchek Adams, who has stage 4 breast cancer and has been tweeting andblogging her experience. (Bill learned about her from Emma; they're married.) Both Kellers are concerned about Adams — but also, and sometimes seemingly more so, about her tweets. Bill frets about Adams's "decision to live her cancer onstage," Emma about her own "voyeurism" toward Adams's cancer tweets. Call it cansplaining.

And both Kellers, ultimately, are vigilant about the moral dimensions of fighting the disease and then tweeting the fight — especially when that fight is painful and, they say, unwinnable. As theGuardian's piece puts it, teasingly: "The ethical questions abound. Make your own judgement."

What exactly are those abundant ethical questions, though? And what, precisely, begs to be judged? Here, let Emma Keller elaborate: "Should there be boundaries in this kind of experience?" she asks. "Is there such a thing as TMI?"

This is a needless ontology; of course there is such a thing, and not just because an Urban Dictionary entry from 2002 says so. But the I, if we're going to be all '02 about it, can be TM only contingently: The excess will depend on circumstance, on audience, on the information being shared. Emma Keller, being an intelligent person, undoubtedly knows this. Emma Keller, being a frequent user of Twitter, also undoubtedly realizes that there is a nicely efficient way to quash her own anxieties about Adams's tweets: Stop receiving them. Unfollow Adams. Mute her. Excise and/or exorcise her story. Problem, such as it is, solved.

But that would be too easy. Or, rather, that would prevent the writer from gathering the fodder required to write a properly substantiated think piece. To ignore Adams would be to foreclose the possibility of extruding her experience into pliable column material — and to reject the casual entitlement that converts lived suffering into moral questioning.

Take this line from Bill: "Her decision to live her cancer onstage invites us to think about it, debate it, learn from it."

Look how deftly this moves from Adams herself to the universal "us," the preferred pronoun of think-piece idiom. Look how swiftly the logic sweeps from "her decision" to "our debates." Look how hungrily it appropriates a single woman's tweets into a matter of universal (and educational! and ethical!) concern — how voraciously Adams's experience gets transformed into a broader, more succulent truth. "What is the appeal of watching someone trying to stay alive?" Emma Keller asks, on behalf of herself. And then, seamlessly, breathlessly, on behalf of us all: "Is this the new way of death?"

Spoiler: It is not. It is one person, dealing with things in the best way she knows how. Adams herself makes no claim to universality, or to ethical authority, or to any kind of symbolism about The Way We Live Now. It is the journalists — hungry for new insights, thirsty for new trends — who are saddling her with the freight of moral implication and then judging her for the audacity they infer. It is a remarkable trick. It is also a cruel one.

It is also — to take the Kellers' own decisions and think about them, debate them, learn from them — a revealing one. This is the thing so many eager think-piecers get so spectacularly wrong: Twitter is not a monolith. New cultural norms will not be decided, breathlessly, under its auspices. And there will be, consequently, no single "new way" of doing things — dying or anything else — on its platform. Not yet, anyway. Microblog is micro; that limitation is its appeal. It is what gives people the sense of freedom they have to use Twitter to experiment and fool around and, yes, innovate. Weird stuff springs up. Thousands of flowers bloom. Gardens, however, are exceedingly difficult to discern.

That's not to say that you can't find, among all the flourishing idiosyncrasy, broad trends emerging on the site. Twitter's API is doing this literally every second; fair-minded journalists are doing it with slightly less frequency. It is to say, though, that a single user does not a new norm make. To take an isolated use case and give it Trend status/We status/New Way Of status — and to do so, bafflingly, just because you find yourself troubled by your own twitchy sense of voyeurism — is a special kind of malfeasance. To cite the journalist Xeni Jardin's live-tweeting of her own cancer experience as evidence of a trend, as Emma Keller did, is yet another kind. (Yes, Jardin has cancer; no, it is not terminal.)

Keller's individual-to-aggregate transition here may fit the satirical standard ("one, two, trend"); it does not, however, fit any other kind. Instead, it takes the singular words of a singular human and uses them as a means to an end — that end being two think pieces, several page views, and one extremely questionable line of questioning.

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The social life of health information

The social life of health information | Social Media and Healthcare |

The online health community and the media lit up this week in a debate over whether it’s tasteful, appropriate or even beneficial to discuss one’s health problems with the world on social media.

While there’s been some discussion of the topic before, the news this week involved two prominent journalists who raised questions about one woman’s public approach to her life with stage IV breast cancer. Lisa Bonchek Adams, a 44-year-old mother of three, has lived with cancer for six years and developed a following among others diagnosed with cancer as well as clinicians, journalists and people who simply appreciate her perspectives.

Her tweets and blog posts address topics such as her approach to talking to her kids about her illness, her medical treatments and thoughts about facing the end of life. The Guardian’s Emma Keller wrote a column stating that “Adams was dying out loud.” A few days later, The New York Times’ Bill Keller (who is Emma’s husband) wrote a columnrelating his father-in-law’s “calm death” from cancer and asked whether Adams’ public updates about her health are the right approach.

We’ll leave the taste debate aside and instead look at the data about how many Americans gather and share health information online and whether there are any known benefits to doing so.

The Pew Research Center has studied the social life of health information since 2000 when we first measured how many people use online resources to find information or connect with others about health conditions.

Our latest national survey on the topic finds that seven-in-ten (72%) adult internet users say they have searched online for information about a range of health issues, the most popular being specific diseases and treatments. One-in-four (26%) adult internet users say they have read or watched someone else’s health experience about health or medical issues in the past 12 months. And 16% of adult internet users in the U.S. have gone online in the past 12 months to find others who share the same health concerns.

Caregivers and those living with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, are more likely than other internet users to do all of these things. Clinicians are still the top source of health information in the U.S., according to the same survey, but online information, curated by peers, is a significant supplement.

The small group of people who use the internet and other online tools to connect with others are highly engaged. Of the 8% of internet users who say they have posted a health-related question or comment online within the past year, four-in-10 said they were sharing their personal health experience.

Our research shows that patients and caregivers have critical health information — about themselves, about each other, about treatments — and they want to share what they know to help other people. Technology helps to surface and organize that knowledge to make it useful for as many people as possible.

Some observers may think it is odd, but this online sharing could be the modern version of an age-old instinct to seek solace among peers. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1786, “Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself?”

Indeed, many clinicians recommend group support as part of a treatment plan for a wide range of issues, from weight loss to the management of chronic and life-changing diagnoses, such as cancer. Academic publication is a slow process, however, and the internet is evolving quickly, so there are relatively few studies measuring the effectiveness of social media.

However, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and other platforms seem uniquely suited to adapt to the changing needs of people living with chronic health conditions, particularly as patients move from the shock of a new diagnosis to long-term management. This is particularly true for people facing a rare disease diagnosis. A new research paper released earlier this month studied parents of children with rare chronic diseases and found that social media in particular provided an effective support network. This echoes our own findings and adds to the pile of evidence showing the psychosocial benefits of connecting online.

As one mother whose son has Canavan disease wrote in a book about rare-disease caregivers: “Before the internet, we were alone. In 1996, when Jacob was born, there was no search engine to offer me any information. Today, because of social media, we are connected with many people who are fighting the same fight as we are. The internet has made our small disease larger and we are able to educate many more people now.”

PatientsLikeMe, a health data-sharing platform, is one leader in the new field of using the internet to help patients, caregivers and researchers connect online. One study, published in Epilepsy & Behavior, showed that, prior to using the site, one-third of respondents (30%) did not know anyone else with epilepsy with whom they could talk. Now, two-thirds (63%) of those people had at least one other person with whom they could consult to gain a better understanding of seizures and learn about symptoms or treatments. Another study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, found that 41% of HIV patients who use the site said they had reduced their own risky behaviors thanks to online support and education.

Smoking cessation is another example of a health intervention that works well when people support each other online.  Members of an online support group like QuitNet stick around to help newcomers because they want to give back what they received when they were starting out.

In the end, this episode illustrates the confluence of two powerful forces:

  • an ancient instinct to seek and share advice about health
  • a newfound ability to do so at internet speed and at internet scale.

It may not be for everyone, but our research shows that the social life of health information is a durable trend.

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Why Healthcare Organizations Should Add Google+ to their Social Media Mix

Why Healthcare Organizations Should Add Google+ to their Social Media Mix | Social Media and Healthcare |

If you’re diligently updating Facebook and Twitter, you may feel like your healthcare organization’s social media is under control. But, if you’re not updating Google+, you’re missing out on a social-search powerhouse.

Google+ may not seem as popular as Facebook, which has more than 1 billion monthly users, but the social network still boasts 300 million active users. And, then there’s search—the word Google has become a verb for good reason. Google handles 100 billion searches every month.

So, what’s the connection between search and social?

Think about how your news spreads on Facebook. You post something. Your followers see it and some like or share it, adding to the likelihood that more people will see the information. The system relies on you to build your base or pay for ads.

The cool thing about Google+ is it does some of the work for you. Content spreads out like a web of expanding interconnections. When you post content on Google+, it spreads beyond your page to your followers’ pages so that their followers can see your content as well. And because of the integration of Google+ with Google search, this could lead to higher search rankings.

If your organization has a Google+ account linked to its key landing pages and blog posts, it will show up on the right-hand side of the Google search results page when people look you up. When it comes to search engines, it’s all about visibility. The second someone searches for you, they have the chance to interact with your content and start following your activity.

Web developers call this “rel=author.” In English, this means content is related to a specific author through their Google+ page. Here’s Matt Cutts, head of Google web spam, talking about how this will impact search rankings.

So, why is it that Google+, a powerful social media tool with the not-so-hidden bonus of integrating with Google search, doesn’t even register in the minds of many healthcare organizations? Why isn’t every healthcare organization using Google+?

3 reasons your healthcare organization is not using Google+ (yet):1. You are suffering from social burnout

The idea of updating one more site makes you want to cry. Trust us, Google+ is worth the effort.

2. Your patients are not using Google+

That may be true, but it’s likely that they are using Google to search for health information. Sharing content on Google+ may help your content rank higher in the search engine results.

3. Your organization doesn’t use Gmail

Yes, you do need a Gmail account to get started with Google+. But setting one up is free and takes five minutes. If your clinicians and team members have personal Gmail accounts, then they automatically have Google+ accounts, too. Ask them to follow your organization and start sharing content with their networks.

Here are 3 simple steps to get started on Google+:1. Set up a Google+ account

In order to set up a Google+ page for your organization, you—or someone in your organization—must first have a personal Google+ account. The good news is that if you use Gmail, you automatically have a Google+ account.

Don’t use Gmail? No problem. It’s easy (and free) to set up an address.

2. Set up your Google+ page

Here’s a video with 4 steps for setting up your healthcare organization’s Google+ page

3. Connect your Google+ account to your healthcare organization’s blog posts and landing pages

Web development guru Andy Crestodina has some easy instructions on how to do this.

Bonus: Try Google Authorship, a tool that establishes you as the official author of your website or blog’s content, explains the Google Webmaster blog. It looks like this:

Google has figured out that people like to read content from other people, not from anonymous entities. Giving a human face to your healthcare organization’s content, has been shown to dramatically increase traffic.

A January 2012 study by Catalyst Search Marketing found that “rich snippets”—like the Google Authorship blurbs—can increase site traffic by 150%.

But remember that when using Google+ for your organization, content quality always matters. If you link your organization to spammy, low-quality content, it can actually end up hurting your site’s search rankings in the long run.

Amanda Weiler's curator insight, January 24, 2014 3:49 AM

The organization Care Content is a media advocacy organization that aims to help health care providers conect with their patients through all types of media including provider websites and social media.

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Surgery for sale: The ethics of health care bartering in a social media marketplace

Surgery for sale: The ethics of health care bartering in a social media marketplace | Social Media and Healthcare |

When his medical insurance company refused to pay for his $70,000 hip replacement, Perry Hunt took matters into his own hands, according to an article on CNN's website.

His Web search for "cash surgeries" led him to Medibid—an online marketplace where doctors can bid—yes bid—on medical care. That $70,000 hip replacement Perry Hunt needed? A doctor on MediBid offered it to him for $21,000.

Here's how the bidding process works: Patients looking for medical care submit a request to MediBid—patients either pay $25 per request, or a $4.95 per-month membership fee. For an annual fee of $50-$250, doctors create profiles outlining their certifications and experience. When a patient requests a certain procedure, doctors can offer custom quotes. The idea is that the patient will continue accepting bids until he or she is satisfied with the price.

MediBid is just one example of the current push for more transparency in medical pricing. Because of the way insurance companies set up their billing, many patients agree to procedures without being fully aware of the final cost of the services rendered. MediBid allows doctors to cut out administrative and other mediated costs, so they can be more forthcoming about what a procedure will cost. A patient can agree to the price or continue to solicit bids.

While there are benefits to MediBid, users should approach the website with "a sense of caution," says Matthew DeCamp, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.

For DeCamp, cost transparency in health care is certainly a step in the right direction, but he wonders if it is "unequivocally a good thing." While MediBid encourages price transparency, DeCamp suggests it doesn't do so within the overall context of quality. "When patients get online," he says, "although they see the price, they don't have ready access to the quality of services they're being offered." Because of the bartering nature of MediBid, many bidders might impulsively accept the cheapest doctor without ever wondering about that doctor's qualifications or record.

Of course, some might argue that an uninsured patient in dire need of a lifesaving surgery isn't in a position to worry about picking the most qualified bidding doctor. Having the surgery done perfectly is less important than having the surgery done at all.

But here, too, DeCamp has reservations. "Are patients with acute illnesses really in the best position to judge the various prices being presented?" DeCamp wonders if our evaluation of sites like Medibid varies based on the type of service being sought. "We might think differently about a patient getting online for the best price on a colonoscopy, versus someone looking for a potentially lifesaving surgery, such as for cancer," he says. Patients who are desperate for health care might have their decision-making clouded by their desperation.

This is also problematic for DeCamp, who wonders whether patients realize that not all doctors are bidding on sites like MediBid. Could it be that only certain kinds of doctors —say, doctors whose own practices aren't meeting their financial bottom lines—use MediBid? If the supply of doctors isn't an accurate representation of the diversity that exists in the medical marketplace, then is MediBid as "free market" as it purports to be?

Over the past several decades, health care has become increasingly commodifed. Does MediBid further this trend or reverse it? Are doctors who offer their services on social media motivated by their exasperation with current insurance billing practices or by their desire to make an easier profit? Though MediBid might seem at first like a charitable website, there's no way of ensuring that only honest doctors will offer bids. And since MediBid allows doctors to set their own prices, it's possible that they will continue to overcharge for their services. As DeCamp says, "Although doctors may honestly want to help patients access their services, I don't think I would go so far as calling it altruism." Bidding doctors are also out to make a profit—patients should be aware of that.

As it stands, DeCamp remains undecided about MediBid's effectiveness. "Short of knowing who exactly is using the website, we just don't have enough information to know [how] widespread or how much impact, in terms of better access and lower costs, this phenomenon will have."

For now, though, it's certainly the case that MediBid adds a new dimension to the ongoing debate about health care costs and transparency. And though DeCamp has significant reservations about the site's implications, he encourages patients to "do their own homework." Researching a particular doctor before receiving treatment remains essential—both in the online and traditional medical marketplace.

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4 Reasons Why Blogging is Critical for Your Hospital

4 Reasons Why Blogging is Critical for Your Hospital | Social Media and Healthcare |

Hospitals make people feel well, but do they make them feel welcome? Now more than ever, you want your hospital to be known as a warm and comfortable place where people are treated by people who care. The most effective way to make that impression is through a hospital blog. Blogging is simply the best way today to connect with people, boost staff morale, and make your facility seem more friendly. It may take a little more time and effort, but a blog can bring you benefits that other branding efforts can’t match. To see why blogging can be so good for your hospital, featured these four vital signs.

1. A Hospital Blog Builds Bonds ­– Blogging can lead to loyal relationships with people in your community. When you share interesting news and views, you keep people reading, responding, and returning for more. Just keep your posts short and simple, and use a friendly and casual tone. This helps readers relate to your posts and think of your blog as a source of support. And make your blog easy to follow by offering an RSS feed.

2. Blogging Puts a Friendly Face on Your Hospital – For many, hospitals have an institutional image, but a blog can make your hospital come across as much more human. It adds a personal touch to your hospital branding and advertising and gives readers a sense of comfort.

3. A Blog Shows You Care About the Community – Think of your blog as a virtual voice for professionals, patients, and people in your community. Try to bring in a team of bloggers with a wide range of professional experience and personal experiences. These can include nurses, dietitians, donors, patients, survivors, and hospital executives. Use their posts to share how much you care.

4. Blogging Revives Your Rankings – A hospital blog can breathe new life into your Google rankings. Google favors sites that continually feature fresh content. And that’s exactly what blogging enables you to do. Just make sure to update the blog on a regular basis to maintain your rankings and readership.

While a hospital blog needs to nurtured, it’s an operation that’s worth performing for the healthy connection it forms and fosters.

Charles McFall's curator insight, January 27, 2014 2:58 PM

This works for all businessess. 

realjdobypr's curator insight, January 28, 2014 1:05 AM

With all of the strange goings on with healthcare at this point...anything hospitals can do to engage on a more personal level with their communities is a must.

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The Growth of Inbound Marketing in Health Care

The Growth of Inbound Marketing in Health Care | Social Media and Healthcare |
This infographic details the rise of inbound marketing tactics in health care.


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Professional use of social media in Education, Research & Clinical Practice

This slideshow illustrates how social media is being used by physicians, health professionals and patients? Several resources and video clips on the topic are p
Nuria Parra Macías's curator insight, January 26, 2014 5:11 PM

"Let's be creative, innovative and agents of change..."

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How patients learn in the digital age

How patients learn in the digital age | Social Media and Healthcare |
How Patients Learn In The Digital Age infographic by HealthEd.
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M-Health Physician Use of Mobile Technology

M-Health Physician Use of Mobile Technology | Social Media and Healthcare |

In the Affordable Care Act environment, healthcare providers have a real opportunity to transform the way they treat people. The objective? Delivering a better patient experience, with improved results, at lower costs. The key to this transformation is digital health technology. For patients, digital health solutions include everything from Web portals to body sensors and apps—everything people need to better monitor their own condition and get support between physician visits. On the provider side, mobile platforms such as smartphones and tablets are becoming ubiquitous in doctor’s offices and hospitals, as a means to standardize care protocols, improve the flow of information, and ease the implementation of electronic health records. In the aggregate, this shift to digital will allow all of the players in the healthcare value chain—payors, providers, and even pharmaceutical companies—to streamline their operations and improve business performance.

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National Institutes Of Health 'Mining' Social Media Sites For Drug Data

National Institutes Of Health 'Mining' Social Media Sites For Drug Data | Social Media and Healthcare |
New grant money will assist the government agency in so-called observational research into how social influences play a role in shaping health behaviors.

College students may want to rethink posting that photo of themselves drinking because the National Institutes of Health (NIH) could soon be reviewing it. The NIH has committed $5 million to “mine” Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in order to assess the population’s alcohol and drug use, as well as provide “social media-based interventions aimed at altering behaviors.” The funding comes in the form of two matching grants.

Because nearly 80 percent of adults use some form of social media, the NIH believes it’s an invaluable resource to understand the risk factors, behaviors, and attitudes associated with both drug abuse and addiction. “Social influences play a key role in shaping health behaviors,” said the NIH in a statement. Consequently, social media are increasingly affecting people’s everyday behaviors, including their attitudes to issues relevant to health. In this context, behavioral scientists have the unprecedented opportunity to observe and systemically analyze the interactions occurring in social media in studies that may contribute to the goal of improving public health.”

The two primary investigative areas for the NIH project will be “observational research” and online interventions. The collected data will also be used for other studies involving underage drinking and the recent legal marijuana laws passed in Colorado and Washington. 

The NIH begins accepting grant applications next month for $200,000 to $400,000 worth of fundingannually on projects that last between two to three years, but only 12-14 grant applications will be approved. The federal government is also continuing to provide smaller grants for this specialty, recently giving $30,000 via the National Library of Medicine to learn how tweets can be used as “change-agents” for health behavior.

Dr. Kevin McGuinness's curator insight, October 4, 2014 10:47 AM

We can have the best science at our fingertips, but until behavior changes, its all just an interesting read.  Hopefully, Big Data will lead to Bigger Behavior Change and better public health.

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A social pill for pharma

A social pill for pharma | Social Media and Healthcare |

Pharmaceutical companies are slow to board the social media bus, but the rest of the healthcare industry isn’t waiting around. Online health information is readily available, and consumers have no reservations about tapping the Internet to find it.

A Pew Internet survey found that 72 percent searched for healthcare information online in 2012, while 52 percent of smartphone owners have used their device to look up health or medical information. More specifically, one in five U.S. consumers consults social media in making their healthcare decisions.

Likewise, a growing number of healthcare professionals are engaging on social channels, using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs to explore job opportunities, network with peers, or find new ways to connect with patients. There’s no arguing that social media is an influential part of the healthcare conversation.

As medicine becomes more participatory, many pharma companies lack confidence in how to engage in social media. Furthermore, some experts question whether industry is even suited for the promotional aspects of Facebook or Twitter or other social channels at all.

Social media: a tough pill to swallow?

So why the hesitation on the part of this industry? A new white paper, “A Social Pill for Pharma”— by Reena Milton and Logan Lawler—explores the unique challenges and opportunities.

Not surprising, the Federal Drug Administration considerations are front and center. While the FDA provides guidelines on social media use by the pharmaceutical industry, it’s still a gray area. According to Milton and Lawler, current FDA regulations and guidelines — especially on the reporting of adverse events and industry standards for pharmaceutical marketing — do not address the realities of social engagements online or provide consistent enforcement of existing rules online.

But that shouldn’t stop pharma from engaging in social media. The opportunities are many, including hearing customers, understanding the competitive landscape and building a brand. The authors write:  “… though social media formats and platforms are likely to evolve over time, online engagement is here to stay. You need to be accessible to your consumers and empower you to improve brand awareness, business results and loyalty.”

By making content easier to share, companies will engage caregivers and their patients online through innovative approaches. This will ultimately build a stronger presence on various social channels, allowing them to listen to conversations and gain valuable insights.

Good medicine

Successful social media engagement is about having the right vision, the right plan, and the necessary diligence. The white paper discusses the ways a social media plan can to the following:

  • Monitor relevant conversations
  • Determine a conversation’s sentiment
  • Provide business or market intelligence repots
  • Identify key influencers and channels to broadcast products and services
  • Boost customer support and satisfaction

It’s time to board the bus! Healthcare is the No. 3 search topic online, as people research symptoms, diseases, procedures, doctors, hospitals, test results — and, of course, drug and treatment options. With the right approach, pharma companies can join the conversation without compromising federal compliance

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How Are Online Healthcare Patient Communities Growing?

How Are Online Healthcare Patient Communities Growing? | Social Media and Healthcare |
How Are Online Healthcare Patient Communities Growing? #hcsm #infographic via Guest post by Yin Wu I look 4Ward to your feedback. Keep Digging for Worms! Author: Bill - Dr.
Janice Krako's curator insight, January 24, 2014 11:05 AM

Everyone is using social media now including your doctors.  Does your doctor have an online presence you can contact him online?

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The Power of Social Media is Shaping the Future of Health Care

The Power of Social Media is Shaping the Future of Health Care | Social Media and Healthcare |

The Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media (#MCCSM) is already preparing for next year’s Social Media Summit after proudly hosting this year’s event with more than 300 participants. In ourkeynote address, “Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care," MCCSM director Lee Aase and I illustrated how social media will play a major role in the future of health care because we need to go where the patient is.

Attendees from Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Japan, Mexico, and the Netherlands agreed that social media is creating new ways to connect patients all over the globe. Social media can unite, giving patients the capacity to find companionship and support.

An example of the power of digital partnership with patients can be found with those who have suffered from spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). SCAD (featured in our 2011 Social Media Summit) is a rare disease in which the lining of a heart artery suddenly tears. As the tear spreads, it can impact blood flow, causing a heart attack, which can result in sudden death or the pump becoming weaker, yielding heart failure. Victims are often young women, many of child-bearing age, without any of the typical risk factors for heart disease.

Until recently, the published studies to guide care and to inform patients of this rare disease were limited to brief case descriptions, leaving patients and their physicians with more questions than answers. While geography isolated these women, they persevered and found community and peer support online.

One peer-to-peer support group, hosted on by WomenHeart, had significant online traffic. Very quickly, this collection of empowered, engaged and electronically adept women realized that they had formed a larger group of patients than had been scientifically studied previously. They understood that their social network had the capacity to be a rich resource for understanding their disease.  All they lacked was a physician scientist to study them. At a WomenHeart-sponsored symposium at Mayo Clinic, two group members sought help from a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, inviting her to serve as the scientist for a research project made possible by their social network efforts.

That cardiologist, Sharonne Hayes, M.D, began a 12-patient pilot study to assess whether a medical disease could be studied via a virtual registry. Within one week of starting the pilot (and patient-advocate recruitment through the Womenheart group), study subjects were identified from New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, none of whom traveled to Rochester, Minnesota.  After successful pilot completion, Dr. Hayes created a 200-person virtual registry. Thanks to the continued efforts of this stellar peer-to-peer patient group, and their pioneering use of social media (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, etc.) for study growth, the virtual SCAD registry at the Mayo Clinic is now on track to recruit 200 study subject — the majority of whom have not traveled to Rochester, Minnesota — for what will be the largest registry of this rare and devastating disease.

Fortunately, the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media had established the structure and support from leadership (see Mayo Clinic CEO, Dr. John Noseworthy’spresentation two years ago at our Social Media Summit) that recognized the potential for social-networking as a tool for patient engagement by employees, and the social media training and guidelines that encouraged physicians to partner with their patients online. So we were prepared to offer support to Dr. Hayes as she ventured into this promising new field of research.

All too often, health care providers view health care social media as a risk more than an opportunity, which can lead to risk-averse avoidance of online engagement. But not participating with our patients online ignores two facts:

  1. Social media has grown explosively, with social network participation accounting for nearly one-fifth of all time spent online.
  2. When online, our patients are increasingly seeking health care information, which is now the third most common online activity.

These facts highlight the reality that health care and social media are already “living together.” In marrying the two we can help legitimize the relationship for the good of our patients and society.

As health care providers, we must walk with our patients as they journey from health to illness, and from illness to recovery. In Medicine, morality and health care social media, published in BMC Medicine, I discuss further how social networks allow us to share content and join conversations that reach beyond the confines of time and space.

We must be present in those conversations. This is the future of health care.

If you would like learn more about social media transforming the patient experience, please follow me on Twitter or view some of my recent presentations, and consider joining with us in the Social Media Health Network.

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Social Media in Healthcare

Social Media in Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |'s curator insight, January 23, 2014 3:21 AM

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Can the Internet and Social Media Help the Development of Healthcare?

Can the Internet and Social Media Help the Development of Healthcare? | Social Media and Healthcare |

In a world frantically scrambling to adapt to the changing digital landscape, how has healthcare fared? Has the Internet and social media helped or hindered its development? Should the public turn to the Internet for medical advice? I enlisted the help of some leading voices in the field to unravel these questions and shed some much needed light on the topic.

Information technologies have already prompted a massive shift in the way medical information is accessed, with its capacity to transfer important knowledge from health professionals to the wider public. Social media, in particular, is a perfect vehicle for this.

As the tentacles of social media permeate into everyday life, doctors and healthcare organisations alike can leverage this power to circulate valuable information about health problems as well as self-care and prevention techniques.

As Lee Aase, Director at Mayo Clinic Social Media, confirms:

“By engaging in public, knowledgeable professionals can offer help and insights on a scale that was previously impossible. And by bringing their science-based perspective they can hopefully counter some of the bad information that has been so harmful to public health”

“The Journal of Internet Medical Research have suggested that 60% of adults used the internet to find health information”

It’s exactly this ‘bad information’ that makes searching online for medical advice fraught with dangers. For the more Internet savvy, this may not pose a problem, but, for the less educated, and the elderly, finding credible information on the web may be a troublesome task.

The reality is that anyone can publish on the internet, regardless of quality, which means that you could be confronted with information that is conflicting, confusing, or quite simply wrong.

From a runny nose to something more serious like a suspicious lump, people are heading to the web more and more; but, with more than 70,000 websites disseminating medical information, where should you visit?

According to Dr. Sarah Jarvis, clinical consultant at, your doctor can advise you on trusted sites to visit. Here in the UK, sites which have been awarded The Information Standard by the NHS, are particularly useful as medical resources:

" is fully accredited, and all the articles on the site are written by GPs, for GPs and their patients. They also provide full references to back up their content. Of the 11 million people who access the information onsite every month, almost a million are GPs and practice nurses – a ringing endorsement of the quality of the information."

However, can even the most reputable sites compare to the value of a face-to-face appointment with your GP? Dr. Leana Wen, physician and author of When Doctor’s Don’t Listen believes that the Internet should only be used to accompany a visit to the doctors:

"Don't use the Internet to make your diagnosis, but rather use it to formulate better questions to ask your doctor. Internet search engines can't replace seeing your doctor, because symptoms alone don't make your diagnosis--your history and physical exam do."

This is true; the benefits of a physical diagnosis cannot be completely replaced by a search online. However, the Internet and social media have other abilities that can improve healthcare, namely it’s capacity to bring patients with similar diseases together. Through Twitter chats and Facebook groups, like-minded patients can connect with one another for mutual support and knowledge sharing. Introducing trained medical professionals into these conversations will undoubtedly make these discussions more helpful.

“Doctors should always exercise caution when using Twitter as it can often lead to a conflict of interest, but as long as it’s used in responsible manner, Twitter can be the perfect platform to educate the public on a wide range of health issues.”Healthexpress Chief medical Advisor, Dr. Hilary Jones

Facebook is particularly good at grouping patients together.

In one simple click, you can become an active member of a community alongside others with similar interests.

These groups supply valuable opportunities to talk to one another while offering important information on breakthrough studies, news and advice for a specific condition, all of which will feature on a daily newsfeed.

A perfect example of a successful social media campaign can be observed with, a community website which has successfully built a global network to help people with diabetes worldwide. As well as promoting awareness for Diabetes, their social media platforms unite people with similar worries so they can share their stories and seek support.

In fact, the benefits of an extended support network on a persons health has been confirmed by several studies. Researchers from California carried out a large-scale study in 1979, which concluded that people with relatively low levels of social interaction died earlier than those with strong social networks.

By using social media, people are more likely to partake in social interaction and support. The possibilities have moved beyond the restraints of face-to-face contacts to an unlimited pool of people with shared interests and concerns.

As Medical Expert for NBC and regular on air guest for Fox News, Dr. Kevin Campbell testifies,

"Support groups are extremely valuable for patients--social media allows for patients from geographically diverse regions to interact in real time without even leaving their own homes."

“Social media connects. Social Media informs both patients and doctors. It enhances knowledge. It facilities communication. In healthcare, is there anything more powerful than knowledge and human connection?”Dr.John Mandrola, cardiologist

As well as improving doctor/patient relationships, Dr. Campbell believes that social media can develop relationships within doctors’ circles themselves. Doctors can now consult each other from anywhere in the world, meaning that ideas can be more easily disseminated, thus improving research and patient care.

However, many healthcare institutions are worried that the use of social media by their doctors may compromise patient privacy while threatening a doctor’s professional reputations. This has lead to many organisations devising their own guidelines for their doctors. Dr. John Mandrola, a cardiac electro physiologist and regular Twitter user, has created his own ‘Rules for Doctors on Social Media.’

There may be some risks to consider when integrating social media into a healthcare model, but the overwhelming power of social media as a tool to educate and distribute medical information cannot be ignored. If social media is to revolutionize healthcare and improve public health on a global level, health professionals must be actively involved in the process to guarantee that the information is completely reliable. With a community of doctors and specialists already discussing ethical problems and how to overcome these obstacles, the future of social media in healthcare is in good hands.

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Blanca Usoz's curator insight, January 23, 2014 4:13 AM

Redes sociales que conectan en salud

Anthony Carnesecca's curator insight, January 24, 2014 2:40 AM

This article brings up an interesting point about whether vital areas of our lives, such as medicine and health, should fully utilize social media platforms to advocate and push for consumers to act in certain ways.

Scooped by Plus91!

Social Media Primer for Emergency Medicine

Social Media Primer for Emergency Medicine | Social Media and Healthcare |

There has been a surge of interest in Social Media and how it might be used in Emergency Medicine and EM Education here at the University of British Columbia.  Dr. Kendall Ho, an EM Physician and Head of the UBC eHealth Strategy Office (FacebookTwitter)is kicking off a big push to explore SoMe with a few events:

With the growing interest in SoMe in EM and Medical Education, I think a short primer on the space is warranted.

This is a list, with some commentary, of (I think) excellent KT and MedEd resources in the Social Media space  so that people can explore. This is NOT by any stretch a comprehensive list, but is meant as a Primer for the upcoming discussion for those unfamiliar with the myriad faces of SoMe.

Social Media, in my opinion, is primarily a  Knowledge Translation tool rather than a primary source of medical information. It is a vast and useful filter for the ‘firehose of information’ that spews from the mainstream medical literature.

Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAM)
FOAM is a movement, based in Social Media, that has blossomed in the last few years. FOAM was coined/created by Australian EM physician Mike Cadogan, creator of Life in the Fastlane one of the pre-eminent EM blogs in the world.
FOAM should not be seen as a teaching philosophy or strategy, but rather as a globally accessible crowd-sourced educational adjunct providing inline (contextual) and offline (asynchronous) content to augment traditional educational principles.
FOAMEM - a dynamically updated list of the latest blogposts and podcasts
FOAMSearch – a Google Custom Search Engine for FOAM Content (Disclaimer: I am the creator of FOAMSearch)
Blogs are the mainstay of SoMe. They allow long form text, images, audio, and video. Almost all allow comments and replies to posts that, in the best cases, allow for interaction between the authors and other members of the community [hence 'Social' media]. Below is a list of just some of the best blogs out there:
Life in the Fastlane - the grand daddy of EMCC (Emergency Medicine and Critical Care) sites
Academic Life in EM - the heir apparent
EM Lit of Note - succinct interpretations of current literature
EM Nerd - new but fantastically detailed Lit examinations
EMUpdates - less frequent posts, but high quality
Don’t Forget the Bubbles  – new PEM (Pediatric EM) blog
Dr Smith’s ECG Blog - from the master, Stephen Smith
The Blunt Dissection - great case-based blog
EMCrit - EM Intensivist Scot Weingart’s blog to ‘bring upstairs care, downstairs’
EMTutorials - Presentations with supplementary material
EM:RAP - Not Free, but likely the pre-eminent source of online CPD in EM.
Resus.ME - another great mix of EM and Critical Care
St Emlyn’s - a great group blog from the Manchester EM group
The Short Coat - one example of what a motivated learner (Lauren began the blog as a Med Student and is now an R1 in EM) can do
The SGEM (Skeptic’s Guide to EM) - Canadian video podcast from the BEEM group’sKen Milne (more about Ken here, and here)
THE LIST - from LitFLthis is the most comprehensive list of active EMCC blogs
Podcasts are primarily audio, but increasingly video based, resources. Some are published on a regular schedule, others only as the creators have topics or information to share. Many, but not all, offer blog posts with related or supplementary material.
EMCrit from EM Intensivist Scot Weingart (iTunes Link)
ERCast EM in the trenches from Rob Orman (iTunes Link)
SMART EM David H Newman is one of the smartest guys in EM, and in Medicine as a whole (iTunes Link Here)
THE LIST - LitFL this is the most comprehensive list of active EMCC podcasts
Knowledge Translation tools
These online resources are not typical blogs, but are very useful, and often are very EBM =
MD Calc - created and run by some of the NNT team.
Journal Clubs are a subset of the KT-tool-but-not-a-blog category
Twitter is, currently, the forum for most of the day-to-day discussion and interaction in the EM SoMe space. If you want to keep abreast of all the goings on, then you need to be on Twitter. Lurking (following and consuming the content without interacting) is a very valid and perfectly acceptable way to use Twitter. Many, but not all, may transition from lurking to actively engaging. The only UNacceptable use of Twitter (and SoMe in general) isTrolling, so feel free to take a peek inside.
FOAMStarter - New to Twitter? Follow the folks listed here as a starting point.
FOAMHighlights - an account that retweets good FOAM content.
High Impact - My personal list of high impact EM Twitterfolk. Includes the clinical best as well as a smattering of the lighter side of EM on Twitter
MedEd - My growing list of MedEd Twitter accounts, leaning heavily but not exclusively on EM Educators
Facebook etc
Facebook is a bit of a hydra – many folks (myself included) keep their personal FB pages strictly personal, minimizing it’s use in the professional realm. For many however FB is THE central focus of many people’s Social Media interaction, including medical professionals. These folks are often unaware of the other SoMe channels, so new SoMe initiatives having a FB presence that points to resources outside FB  can be very useful for building an engaged audience.  I will list a couple FB pages of sites listed above:
Wikipedia & the WikiProject Medicine
Wikipedia is one of the first, and most successful, crowd-sourced repositories on the web. The reliability of the information on Wikipedia has been questioned by many! but none can question the popularity of the site. As often as not, Wikipedia is the first result in any Google (or other search engine) search. There are thousands of medical articles on Wikipedia, but only a handful of physicians and other health care professionals who try to ensure their accuracy. The WikiProject Medicine is an official Wikimedia project attempting to guide and correct medical info on the site. This is also a new frontier for Medical Education, with UCSF’s recently created elective that has students collaborate on the project. UBC Dept of Emergency Medicine’s Dr James Heilman is centrally involved in the Project, and those interested in this facet of SoMe should contact him.
Google+ and Google Hangouts
Google+ is one of the newest SoMe platforms, and integrates with the whole Google-verse. Why do you need yet another place to put your face, and probably waste time? Well, it has some unique features that make it particularly attractive to the EMCC and MedEd communities. It allows long form articles, unlike Twitter, allows you to share your own and others’ blog posts and other things, and has a robust Community builder.  Check out the new, but already highly interactive discussions on the FOAMcc (FOAM Critical Care) Community.
Google+ also introduced a new tool, Google Hangouts. Hangouts are a kind of video conferencing tool – it allows up to 10 people to join in a group video/audio chat. Participants can be added and removed on the fly. This alone would be useful for small group sessions or for connecting different sites, but there is a rather brilliant addition. Any Google Hangout can be broadcast *LIVE* to YouTube. If you choose, anyone can watch/follow your Hangout session, enabling you to reach a much larger audience. Add in Twitter as a realtime feedback/question channel, and you have a ready made, open, online conferencing tool.
Just one more thing… People have already begun to extend these tools, and Nestivityseems like an exciting resource. Rob Rogers (of Univ of Maryland Emergency Medicine, andThe Teaching Course) has set up a MedEd focussed Nestivity site, and Academic Life in EM used it recently for their Book Club discussion
This is far from an exhaustive look at SoMe in Emergency Medicine and Medical Education. This should be a jumping off point for any exploration. If you have questions or comments, leave them on this post, or chat with me over at Twitter.
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