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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Social media and orthodontic treatment from the patient's perspective: a systematic review. 

Social media and orthodontic treatment from the patient's perspective: a systematic review.  | Social Media and Healthcare |


Social media are one of the most common and easily accessible ways of gaining information about orthodontic treatment.


The main objective of this study was to systematically search the literature and determine the various aspects of the interrelationship between social media and orthodontics from the patient's perspective.


Electronic database searches of published and unpublished literature were performed. The reference lists of all eligible articles were hand-searched for additional studies.


Randomized clinical trials (RCTs), prospective, retrospective, and cross-sectional studies were included.


Study selection, data extraction, and risk of bias assessment were performed individually and in duplicate by the first two authors.


One RCT, three retrospective, and four cross-sectional studies were deemed as eligible for inclusion in this review. The studies included patient's statements in social media or results from questionnaires given to patients. The social media reported were with order of frequency: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram. The feelings the patients expressed seemed to be more positive than negative: enthusiasm, self-esteem and pleasure, excitement about the aesthetic result, excitement after braces removal but also antipathy, annoyances, reduced self-esteem, and impatience for removing mechanisms. In addition, one study referred to bullying through Twitter.


The high amount of heterogeneity precluded a valid interpretation of the results through pooled estimates.


This systematic review demonstrated that information about orthodontics, how the patient feels, and other psychosocial facets are spread through social media. It is intuitive that research relating to the effects and impact of orthodontic interventions should account not only for the physical impacts of treatment but also to encompass patient-centered outcomes.

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Infographic: Patient Influencer Perspectives on Social Media

Infographic: Patient Influencer Perspectives on Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

The 100,000+ patients who make up the WEGO Health Patient Leader Network are at the core of everything we do. We believe they are transforming healthcare for the better and it’s gratifying to see more and more life sciences companies recognizing the extraordinary value patients bring to the table. Working with highly engaged advocates and influencers allows us to glean insights that will ultimately help life sciences companies better connect with patient communities. 

Social media is one way to do so. It offers companies a direct and ongoing means to communicate and share information with consumers.  So earlier this year we asked patient influencers to share more about how and why they are using social media. After surveying 412 influencers across hundreds of conditions, we both confirmed some data points we gathered in a previous Behavioral Intent Study and uncovered some new trends.

Some key findings:

  • Facebook is still on top. While nearly  4 in 10 patients (37%)  have changed their privacy settings in light of concerns over their personal data, only 3 in 100 have stopped using Facebook or deleted their account due to privacy concerns. Of those sticking with the platform, the data is unequivocal. Despite Facebook’s business practices, virtually all (98%) patient influencers continue to use Facebook and 9 in 10 say they use it daily. Other social media platforms are gaining ground, but Facebook remains the leader among patient influencers. This is likely due in part to the platform’s group functionality. A whopping 94% of influencers are members of a health-related Facebook group. Facebook is still where patients spend their time, making it essential for companies to engage patients on the platform.
  • Pharma is missing the mark. The primary value of social media is the ability to connect with other patients, but that’s not the only thing influencers are there for. They also access health information and find support by engaging with advocacy organizations and healthcare providers. In fact, 9 in 10 patient influencers follow an advocacy organization and nearly half follow a health care provider. While many pharma companies have a social media presence, only 1 in 5 influencers follow a pharma company, with slightly more following a brand if they are on that specific therapy. They might not be engaging directly, but patients are certainly using social to talk about pharma. Nearly 7 in 10 patient influencers have shared both positive and negative medication experiences. Social media remains a huge opportunity for pharma to engage their audiences and ultimately meet their marketing KPIs.

  • Social absolutely informs patient choices. Our 2016 Behavioral Intent Study found that 87% of patients will ask their physician about a medication if they learned about it from a trusted patient influencer. This year’s landscape survey confirmed that social media still plays a big role in real-world patient behavior. Nine in ten patient influencers say that online communities play at least a “somewhat important” role in their health decisions, with nearly half (48%) saying that online communities play a “very important” or “extremely important” role.
CherryNetwork's curator insight, June 14, 12:47 PM

Patient Influencer using Social Media in healthcare... #esante #hcsmeufr

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Social Monitoring: How the FDA Mined Social Media to Gain Diabetes Insights

Social Monitoring: How the FDA Mined Social Media to Gain Diabetes Insights | Social Media and Healthcare |

When Christine Lee, PharmD, PhD, a health scientist with the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, wanted information about caring for her newborn baby beyond what was captured in parenting books, she turned to social media. She joined a forum for new mothers on Facebook to ask the crowd for advice.

Soon after, she wondered how social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit can be mined for data that could help the FDA’s pharmacovigilance efforts. “I thought, ‘Could I apply the same qualitative research methods traditionally used for focus groups and cognitive interview data to research involving unstructured narrative data in social media?’ ” explained Dr Lee during her grand rounds presentation, “Structuring Unstructured Data: Using New Data Sources to Understand the Needs of Underserved Populations,” presented May 9, 2019, in Washington, DC.

How the FDA Uses Patient Experience Data

The agency’s regulatory mission relies on sourcing new data and methodologies to increase its understanding of patients’ perspectives. The FDA uses patient experience data to inform:

• Clinical trial design

•  Trial end point development and selection

• Regulatory issues, including benefit-risk assessments

To meet patients’ needs, the FDA strives to engage patient stakeholders throughout the life cycle of a medical product. Social media platforms provide a method for capturing meaningful, unfiltered patient insights, according to Dr Lee. It can give the FDA a more comprehensive picture of how medical products function beyond controlled, randomized clinical trials.

The FDA has 2 objectives for engaging patients:

  1. Support the FDA’s and the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research’s goals of understanding the patient’s voice, including their perspectives on conditions and treatments.
  2. Refine qualitative research methods to explore tapping unstructured data with high repeatability.

Social Media Monitoring: Gaining Insight Into Diabetes Therapies

The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health funded a pilot study to analyze social media posts for useful data about minority patients with diabetes and their treatment.

During the last 2 years, the agency used data-mining software to collect, monitor, and analyze more than 100,000 conversations on Twitter. The effort targeted a variety of keywords, including diabetes, glucose, diabetic, and blood sugar. Demographic filters were added to narrow the query. To separate signal from noise, tweets that were classified as cheeky, advertisements, or spam were removed, leaving about 73,000 tweets for analysis. The remaining tweets were scrubbed and formatted, and then natural language processing and machine-based learning were used to help researchers identify trends. This process was also used to uncover trends in FDA Advisory Committee data, and then the 2 data sets were examined.

Improving Diabetes Education Among Minorities

Researchers sought to discern what government organizations, patient advocacy organizations, and pharmaceutical companies share on social media, and whether this information is specific to racial or ethnic minorities. The data revealed several content themes:

• Awareness: 39.9% of tweets analyzed

• Diabetes management: 22.4%

• Risks associated with diabetes: 13.3%

• Diabetes prevention: 7.3%

• Other: 9.1%

“We found that little to no discussions on Twitter were specific to minority groups,” Dr Lee said. “Our research suggests that there is an opportunity to improve outreach to minority groups that is specific to their unique health needs.”

Researchers also concluded that there are gaps in their understanding of minority groups’ perceptions of the risks associated with FDA-regulated prescription drugs, their unique health needs, and level of health literacy.

To gain further insight, researchers mined a sample of Facebook posts from January 2017 to June 2017 that mentioned diabetes. After compiling a list of the top 50 most-liked posts for each month, the content was analyzed to elicit meaning from the collected posts. An extensive codebook was developed to guide this process. The data highlighted the importance of providing a patient-centered approach to care and individualizing care, according to researchers. More specifically, the data demonstrated the importance of:

• Educating patients on how diet and exercise can help them manage their diabetes.

• Improving patients’ awareness about comorbid conditions and teasing out related symptoms.

• Improving awareness about how the link between diabetes and the household environment can increase the risk of developing diabetes.

• Providing patient support and encouraging community engagement to promote healthier environments.

Although Dr Lee was encouraged by the enhanced patient insight she and her team were able to gain from social media posts, she cautions that social media data must be combined with other sources of data, including FDA archives, patient-focused drug development data, public docket comments, advisory council transcripts, focus groups, and listening sessions. According to Dr Lee, the findings of this study suggest that new data sources can increase the understanding of the patient perspective, particularly of vulnerable populations, and can increase confidence in the data that the FDA traditionally collects.

“Social media is a useful data source to gather relevant patient perspectives on barriers and may provide information from populations who may not utilize FDA sources,” Dr Lee concluded.

The FDA also conducted a social media listening pilot project on Reddit to gather data regarding opioid use. The results of this study are under manuscript review and cannot yet be shared publicly.


Lee C. Gaining insight into the patient’s experience by harnessing the power of social listening and FDA archival data. Presented at: FDA Grand Rounds; May 9, 2019; Washington, DC.

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New association ‘overdue’ to support health care providers on social media

New association ‘overdue’ to support health care providers on social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

A call to action

Today, we have come to a time where there is an increased focus on health misinformation along with the potential for social media to truly impact public health. A couple months ago, we started a hashtag campaign on Instagram called, #VerifyHealthcare, sparked by the rise of misinformation and influencers even within health care.

With the influencer phenomenon, there are a lot of other concerns, not just misrepresentation, but other pitfalls whether it’s professionalism issues weighing (or not weighing) what is appropriate to post, HIPAA concerns or even sponsored content issues, which is definitely a new phenomenon in health care social media. There’s a need for guidance on how to disclose conflicts of interest, industry relationships and how to cite medical literature so that patients and the general public can easily digest it.

#VerifyHealthcare focused on encouraging those with decent followings to disclose their training and experience. Additionally, it encouraged their followers to be mindful of who they are trusting. To double- and triple-check the credentials of those they trusted online.

We saw how this hashtag resonated with a lot of people – health professionals and patients alike – and we felt the need to take this a step further. That’s when the idea of creating the Association for Healthcare Social Media (AHSM) arose.

First steps

We are the first professional society for health care social media use. There are other organizations focused on health communications professionals or media professionals, but not for those of us who are practicing medicine, dentistry or nursing and are now using social media to educate others or to build our practices. While Facebook groups or online groups do exist, they’re less formal. AHSM holds 501(c)(3) designation as a formal non-profit group and offers more transparency. This was overdue. There needs to be a more organized effort and the designation is the first step to move from informal conversations on an individual level to a concerted force in public health to engage more effectively with other organizations and institutions.

All of us felt that no matter our purpose for using social media, it has a public health impact and to have the positive impact we want to see, we need to come together.

The 15 of us who started this were already heavy social media users, often on Instagram, but also Twitter, YouTube and other platforms. We started with #VerifyHhealthcare and became the founding members for AHSM.

Specialties represented on our board of directors include ophthalmology, OB/GYN, facial plastic surgery, dermatology, pediatrics, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, GI, pulmonary medicine, critical care and more. Our advisory council has MD doctors, DO representation, nurse practitioners, a psychologist and also the New Jersey health commissioner. We want to continue to diversify and aim to represent the breadth of medicine.

It’s important for everyone to be involved because if you are online talking about health in any way, shape or form, then you should really be aware of how to safely and properly do so.

Changing landscape

It’s interesting how the landscape of social media has changed. In the past, it was a casual forum or creative outlet. Increasingly, many have used it in other productive ways, whether it’s education, discussion or business. We wanted to highlight all of that, but ensure that there’s no danger to health professionals’ careers or patient health.

There’s been a lot of media attention on various aspects of health and social media, whether it be health misinformation or this influencer phenomenon where even physicians have been accused of hiding paid vacations or rewards for promoting certain products in their social media.

Conflicts of interest and industry relationships are not new to medicine, but the way it’s intersecting with social media is new. In this day and age, with the rise of fashion influencers, fitness influencers, etc., health influencers have also arisen. At the end of the day, what impact does this have on the general public and public health? We want to investigate and address this.

Additionally, we observed students, health professionals or medicine-adjacent individuals who said that they were physicians or other health professionals but did not have the training to support that. This was concerning given some of their large social media followings.


Social media has far more benefits than most people, especially health professionals, often perceive but with that, also many pitfalls than previously imagined. Because our reputations and our identities are so digital and vulnerable to missteps, it’s important to inform ourselves on how we navigate all of this but we also want to help people understand its benefits. We need more health professional champions to serve as an examples of how social media can elevate one’s career, serve as a networking device, and create a niche in one’s field.

There are so many different ways that social media can be used and the diversity of our board of directors demonstrates the full spectrum – whether it’s using one platform to promote another, to create businesses or to create an organization.

Those of us that founded AHSM met on social media. I couldn’t think of a better example or a better way for a group of 15 individuals spread across specialties and all over the country to come together and within 3 months, incorporate a new organization, get 501(c)(3) designation and do all of this. It’s a testament to the power of social media.

Social media is pervasive now for every field and every specialty.

At this point, the AHSM has more than 400 paying members. This is not just for gastroenterology where I practice. This is not just for doctors. This society and this movement are for everyone in the health care field. There may be unique considerations for nurses, optometrists, physician assistants or other health care roles, so we want to encourage those folks to join and contribute.

How to join

If you look into us now, we have a few best practices for social media laid out, but we’re going to keep developing, editing and evolving them. All of this can be found on our website,

It’s still a work in progress, we recognize that, but we can’t build a professional society overnight. We have early adopter rates until mid-June.

There has been a lot of interest from patients as well as people not working directly in health care, but adjacent to it such as care managers or care navigators for insurance companies. I think it’s important for them as well as patients and patient advocates to be involved, but we are concentrating on physicians and other health care providers for now. There is an open access section for patients on the site.

Right now, there is a disconnect. There isn’t much incentive for health professionals to get online and share health knowledge about what they do. The currency today is still academic journal publications, which is usually not where the general public receives their health knowledge. We aim to shift that, ever so slightly.

What AHSM needs is people who are medically trained, to talk about what they do on social media platforms, but it’s hard to get people to do something when there’s no obvious reward.

Looking ahead

We want other physicians to understand this is not just a social group. We are good at doing this and we want to share and train others on a professional level.

At this time, we’re solidifying our structure and curating content. We are planning a symposium scheduled for the first weekend in November. It will be our first event bringing everyone together, as a precursor to a bigger conference down the road. We want to host annual events just like any other medical organization and bring in key speakers to discuss various aspects of what they do on social media.

AHSM will stay abreast of the latest in health care social media. There are going to be new platforms for social media in the future and what we are doing now will evolve and change with the ebb and flow of social media. The goal is to capture all existing platforms because we don’t know which ones will stick around or change. We’re not talking about social media in terms of only Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but also YouTube and podcasting as growing forums. We also invite med students and people in training, nursing students, etc., because they’re likely to be at the front lines when it comes to what’s newest in the social media world.

At the end of the day it’s not for everyone. But especially for the younger generation, it has an impact and it has the potential to really help your business or practice.

We envision AHSM as a medical organization, like the American College of Cardiology or American Gastroenterological Association. We want to really legitimize what we’re doing and help academic institutions, other professional societies and industry partners to understand the value of social media contributions and see it as a valuable public health tool that deserves more recognition.

Disclosure: Chiang is the chief medical social media officer for Jefferson Health in Philadelphia.

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Social media sponsored content for healthcare practices

Social media sponsored content for healthcare practices | Social Media and Healthcare |

Once upon a time, organic social media content was enough to reach your patient base, but that is no longer the case. Algorithm changes at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have caused a sharp decline in the visibility of businesses’ social media content. Therefore, it’s not surprising that more than half (53 percent) of companies use social advertising — i.e., paid advertising on social networks — according to Hootsuite.

If you’re not quite sure what sponsored content is — let alone how to take advantage of it — you’re not the only one. Read on for an overview of sponsored content and why your healthcare practice needs to start using it to succeed on social media.

What is sponsored content?

When reviewing medical social media strategies, the term sponsored content has probably come across your radar. This consists of paid social media content purchased and shared by a business. These posts appear in your newsfeed, along with content shared by accounts you follow.

This technique is also commonly referred to as native advertising — i.e., matching ads to the platform they’re posted on. A creative marketing tool, these ads look like other content shared on the site and engage users by allowing them to like and comment on the posts.

Check out: How to engage on social media with HIPAA in mind

Impact of sponsored content

Sponsored content spreads brand awareness and builds trust. Not just a way to reach more people on social media, this form of advertising allows you to specifically target your ideal patient base.

When you’re able to get in front of an audience interested in the services you’re offering, you get results. For example, one-third (33 percent) of people are most engaged by social media content that teaches them something, according to a survey conducted by Sprout Social. Additionally, 65 percent of people who engage with a social media advertisement will click through to learn more about the topic at hand and 23 percent will follow the brand.

Data from the Pew Research Center revealed that more than two-thirds (69 percent) of U.S. adults have a Facebook account and 37 percent use Instagram. Considering these statistics, it’s not surprising that social media ad spending in the U.S. is expected to exceed $99 billion in 2019, according to Statista. Other businesses are clearly catching on to its importance, so you can’t afford to ignore it.

Look: The 10 best doctor accounts on Instagram

The issue with organic content

If your healthcare social media strategy is working well enough, you might be hesitant to start including sponsored content. This is understandable, but as noted above, organic content is losing its edge.

For example, in January 2018, Facebook announced an algorithm shift designed to make newsfeeds more about meaningful interactions with people users care about. Consequently, traditional marketing content now appears less frequently in newsfeeds.

According to HubSpot, organic reach on Facebook will eventually plummet to zero. If your practice is going to have a presence on the site, using sponsored content is the only route that makes sense.

Since changing algorithms are causing a major decline in organic reach on several social media platforms, there’s never been a better time to explore sponsored content. In fact, Hootsuite referred to this approach as one of the best ways to reach your audience.

More than 3 billion people across the world use social media on a monthly basis, according to researchconducted by Hootsuite and We Are Social. Therefore, it’s easy to conclude that most of your patient base has a presence on these sites. Don’t miss your chance to connect with them.

The importance of social media in healthcare cannot be emphasized enough. PatientPop realizes this and is proud to offer our customers a social media service. Consisting of a combination of organic posts and sponsored content, our service is designed to get results. If you need help reaching your target patient base on social media, PatientPop can help.

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Doctor recruiting doctors to fight fake health info on social media

Doctor recruiting doctors to fight fake health info on social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

The antidote to fake health news? According to Austin Chiang, the first chief medical social media officer at a top hospital, it’s to drown out untrustworthy content with tweets, pics and posts from medical experts that the average American can relate to.

Chiang is a Harvard-trained gastroenterologist with a side passion for social media. On Instagram, where he refers to himself as a “GI Doctor,” he has 20,000 followers, making him one of the most influential docs aside from TV personalities, plastic surgeons and New York’s so-called “most eligible bachelor,” Dr. Mike.


Every few days, he’ll share a selfie or a photo of himself in scrubs along with captions about the latest research or insights from conferences he attends, or advice to patients trying to sort our real information from rumors. He’s also active on TwitterMicrosoft’s LinkedIn and Facebook (which owns Instagram).

One of Chiang’s social media campaigns
Austin Chiang

But Chiang recognizes that his following pales in comparison to accounts like “Medical Medium,” where two million people tune in to the musings of a psychic, who raves about vegetables that will cure diseases ranging from depression to diabetes. (Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop has written about the account’s creator glowingly.) Or on Pinterest and Facebook, where anti-vaccination content has been far more prominent than legitimate public health information. Meanwhile, on e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay, vendors have hawked unproven and dangerous health “cures, ” including an industrial-strength bleach that is billed as eliminating autism in children.

“This is the biggest crisis we have right now in health care,” said Chiang. “Everyone should be out there, but I realize I’m one of the few.”

According to Chiang, doctors have historically been reluctant to build a following on social media for a variety of reasons. They view it as a waste of time, they don’t know how, or they fear they might say the wrong thing and get in trouble with an employer. Others prefer to spend their time communicating with their peers via academic journals.

But as Chiang points out, most consumers do not pore over the latest scientific literature. So health professionals need to take the time to start connecting with them where they do spend their time — and that’s on Facebook and Instagram.


So he’s working to recruit an army of physicians, nurses, patient advocates, and other health professionals to get online. He’s primarily starting on his home turf at Jefferson Health, and with other doctors in his specialty. He was appointed to his “new and unique role” in the summer of 2018, which he got after a series of conversations with the health system’s CEO Stephen Klasko.

Klasko is a physician and avid social media user himself, with both professional and personal accounts. He’s also a notorious straight-talker in the industry who openly discusses some of the more broken aspects of the heath-care system online and at conferences, including things like the inflated costs and the flaws of medical education.

Jefferson Health’s Steve Klasko walking through campus.
Jefferson Health

In his new role, Chiang has been thinking about guidelines for health professionals on how to use the new digital tools, including things like disclosing any conflicts of interest. He thinks that more transparency about ties to industry will help doctors garner trust with the public. To spread these ideas, he’s set up a new group for health professionals dubbed the Association for Healthcare Social Media.

He’s also attempted a few hashtag-driven public awareness campaigns, including one called #verifyhealthcare to promote these ideas about disclosures, and another called #dontgoviral to counter anti-vaxxer content.

Klasko, Chiang’s CEO, sees a direct business benefit to having Jefferson’s approximately 3,000 doctors participating on social media.

“Everyone under the age of 35 uses Facebook and Instagram as a vehicle, and I want them to see Jefferson as a partner in their health so they’ll think of us” he said.

More broadly, he shares Chiang’s concerns about the proliferation of health misinformation. Measles cases are climbing, with outbreaks across the country, which many health professionals chalk up to parents refusing to vaccinate their children. That’s one of the reasons that Klasko chooses to be so active online and with the media, so that people who want to access accurate information can find it.

“Imagine if it would be easier to access The National Enquirer than The Washington Post,” he said. “I fear that that’s what is happening in health care right now.”

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Top 6 digital marketing challenges in healthcare

Top 6 digital marketing challenges in healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

While many industries have fully embraced digital marketing, the healthcare industry has been slow to adopt digital strategies.

Today’s healthcare consumer, both patients and healthcare professionals, is very different to the healthcare consumer of the past. Today’s patients are able to do extensive research online which means they are far more particular about the services they receive. It’s also important to remember that carers have become an active party in the research phase, engaging in the digital marketing area when looking for health related information.

In today’s digital world, prospective patients are now active partners in their medical journey.

According to the latest research, in the past year 72% of global internet users have looked online for health information. Which has included treatments and procedures, symptoms, conditions or diseases, etc. 77% of patients use search engines to start their research as well as other channels such as Social Media. Over 40% of patients use social media with Facebook being the main platform (for general information, to compare offerings across different brands, to evaluate specific features of the products/treatment, etc.) and 45% of them watched an online video on YouTube (patient testimonials, patient-generated content, information gathering about treatments or understanding complicated procedures, etc.

As the majority of patients and carers are active online and looking for solutions to their health problems, it is crucial that every medical practitioner or health/pharmaceutical related company has a digital marketing strategy in place. This will enable them to promote their products, services, treatment options, etc. and differentiate themselves and their services from other providers.

Every industry has its challenges when implementing digital marketing strategies and it’s no different in healthcare. Let’s take a look at the top 6 digital marketing challenges in the healthcare/pharma industry.

Target audience

There are various target audiences for healthcare marketers. Healthcare professionals (a group that includes everyone from physicians to nurses, biotech companies and hospital groups) used to be the primary target as they recommend, prescribe, advocate and buy products and services. Furthermore, traditionally, pharma companies controlled all the information regarding their products as well as the release of this information. They used to release this information on a needs basis, e.g. required by regulators.

The digitisation and ease of access to information has weakened the control pharma companies have on information. There is a lot of information available online – people search online for solutions to all of their daily problems and health problems are no exception.

Patients and caregivers are becoming more and more health conscious and their awareness levels are increasing. Patients are no longer dependent on advice from doctors, they don’t just blindly follow that advice but are becoming more and more aware and are able to give their suggestions to doctors on products/ treatments as well as the providers they are using. Therefore, patients have become a very important target audience for the healthcare industry. Digital marketing is helping with this by pushing and advertising products and services across several platforms, such as apps, websites, blogs and social media.

Although healthcare professionals will continue to represent the relationship between patients and the pharma industry, digital trends are demonstrating that an increasing number of patients are more engaged with their medical treatment plans. Patients are empowered to play an active role in their own care. In a recent study the majority of patients agreed that they feel confident in their ability to take personal responsibility for their health and understand how they can access digital and online resources to assist them to make the right decision.

Because of the amount of digital information accessible about healthcare and pharmaceuticals, people are more comfortable with taking their well-being into their own hands. This information allows patients to develop a better relationship with their health and evaluate the cost of the pharmaceutical products or healthcare services they may need. As a direct consequence of the access to information, end-users for pharma brands are increasingly perceived as ‘consumers’ rather than ‘patients’. This shift from patients to consumers is a great opportunity for the pharma industry to connect and engage with potential patients online while they are researching relevant information like the benefits of certain products.

Marketing solely to healthcare professions will not be viable in the long run as they might not be an actual consumer in the future. Developing a strong and trustworthy brand image for all target audiences has never been more important. So, now’s the time to shift marketing efforts, messaging and budgets to target not only healthcare professionals, but also patients.

Digital investment

It’s no surprise that medical marketing spending is increasing year on year and it has now reached the level of around $30 billion. And while marketing to healthcare professionals continues to consume a big part of that spend, direct-to-consumer marketing is catching up. A few years ago, marketing to healthcare professionals accounted for over 85% of budgets, while now it’s dropped to 60%.

But while marketing budgets continue to increase and we can see a clear shift into patient-marketing, not every pharma brand is taking full advantage of digital. According to the latest stats:

  • 59% of marketers use a website
  • 45% of marketers use social media
  • 32% of marketers use digital ads
  • 20% of marketers use mobile apps for their marketing efforts

These figures indicate that pharma marketers are underutilising several key digital channels. However, digital is gradually changing the dynamics of pharma marketing and will force the industry to rethink its traditional way of marketing.

Digital has several advantages for pharma marketers. Digital marketing activities costs less than traditional marketing approaches did in the past. It’s also more targeted and has a wider reach than a print advertisement in a journal, printed sales materials or paid speaking opportunities. However, even with all these advantages, many pharma marketers are still reluctant to make the shift into digital channels.

At the same time, as pharma companies are reluctant to try digital marketing methods, they have no insights into how effective they are. And because they don’t have these insights, they are not willing to take a risk and try it for themselves. This means that, for the savvy pharma company, there’s a great opportunity to allocate a portion of their marketing budget to digital, see its effectiveness, and reach an online audience that their competitors simply cannot.

Multichannel approach

Pharma’s multichannel marketing strategies may have evolved significantly in recent years, but only around 20% of brands have fully integrated the multichannel approach. The majority consider multichannel to be a challenge.

In every sector, relying on one single channel to get your audience’s attention simply isn’t enough anymore. You must connect with them wherever they are, whenever they’re searching for information. And it’s no different in healthcare.  And this applies to strategies targeting patients as well as those targeting healthcare professionals, or both.

In today’s healthcare marketing landscape, customers and patients have lots of options for how they interact with an organisation – both digital (website, social media, blogs, webinars) and traditional channels (events, seminars, direct mail, etc.).

According to the latest stats, multichannel campaigns engage patients and HCPs up to four times more than single-channel campaigns do. Therefore, incorporating a multichannel marketing campaign can significantly enhance your chances of success.

Today’s healthcare consumer, both patients and HCPs, is very different to the healthcare consumer of the past. Today’s customers are able to do extensive research online which means they are far more particular about the services they receive. They are engaged across different channels and various devices –each serving a unique need and preference.

All of this opens up a whole new set of channels for pharma and healthcare companies to interact with patients and other users. Being active in multiple channels, pharma companies can engage with patients and healthcare professionals online through websites, apps, social media, mobile phone messages, etc.

The healthcare industry can use various digital marketing platforms for sharing educational content to help their potential and existing clientele, i.e. explaining symptoms, causes, diagnosis, cures, etc. for relevant diseases. The same educational content can then be repurposed on many formats and be distributed across blogs, social media, emails, etc.

Pharma companies at the beginning their multichannel marketing journey are typically eager to do it all at once, both online and offline, with 63% of pharma marketers believing it produces the best results. However, only 20% of HCPs use a combination of online and offline channels to connect with pharma brands, while 68% of them prefer online-only methods of communication. Pharma companies need to adjust their strategies and shift their focus online for maximum engagement and reach. Traditional marketing channels are no longer as effective in reaching HCPs as they used to be. Sales representatives are still an important asset for every pharma brand but they have to be supported by multichannel online marketing. Instead of forcing HCPs to connect with you solely through sales reps, you will be providing them with alternative channels of communication.

Not only will it deliver a better ROI for pharma companies, it will also open a channel for HCPs to provide feedback. Combining traditional and digital methods of communicating with healthcare professionals provides you with a comprehensive solution.

By applying the multichannel approach, you’ll see greater engagement as well as higher conversion rates not only for healthcare professionals, but also for patients.

Content marketing uniqueness

While pharma shares common challenges with other industries, it also has unique features that make it difficult to do content marketing successfully. There are the usual challenges of producing the right kind of content and reaching the right kind of audiences, but there are additional challenges specific to pharma.

The biggest challenge comes from regulations. Pharma is one of the most heavily regulated industries where each message has to be screened and validated before it goes out. This reflects on outbound marketing practices but is even more complex for inbound ones such as content.

Content created by pharma companies has to tick all the standard boxes like great structure, creative writing, effective calls to action, etc. Any piece of content has to deliver a good customer experience and be accessible through different devices. On top of that, pharma marketing content needs to be factual, precise and informative so that it builds trust with the audience, giving them confidence in your brand. They’ll then be more likely to share your content within their community and become a brand advocate for you.

Also unique to regulated markets is the fact that each piece of content, be that product pages, blog posts, explainer videos or paid ads, has to go through a validation process in order to ensure that the message is fully in line with current regulations.

It’s also crucial to be cautious when discussing health conditions as part of a pharma brand’s content marketing strategy. Some conditions come with a stigma and it is not easy for your target audience to discuss them. This means that marketers need to adopt a specific tone of voice and practice sensitivity when discussing these conditions.

Even though pharma has its unique challenges when it comes to content, there are still plenty of opportunities to provide valuable content to your patients and HCPs.

There are many different formats that pharma companies can work with which are great assets to the website: articles, blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, etc. All of them will help to bring relevant traffic to the site and make sure that your target audience, both patients and healthcare professionals, can easily find the information they are looking for and be informed.

One type of content that is worth mentioning separately is video content.

People prefer to watch visual content rather than reading text and it’s not different for healthcare. That’s why every modern pharma marketing campaign is based on visual info, and video is one of the best ways to visualize the message.

Physicians, patients, search engines, social media and every other pillar of digital marketing loves video content. For example:

  • Physicians spend at least 3 hours a week consuming video content
  • Video is also one of the top 5 types of content that healthcare professionals search for on their mobile devices
  • 49% of physicians who watch a video online state that it influences their clinical decisions

That’s why video has become a must-have element of every pharma digital marketing strategy.

However, according to statistics, 64% of marketers claim that video is the most difficult type of content to make. A pharma brand could create video content for introducing their products, tutorials about product usage, do’s and don’ts videos, benefits of using a specific product, user review videos, case studies, etc.

Videos are everywhere and come in many forms, so it’s the perfect time for pharma to take advantage of this format.

Social media

Social media is the core of any digital marketing for pharma strategy. However, the highly regulated nature of the pharma industry has led to a very cautious approach to using social media. Yet brands that have actually invested in this approach have been given a competitive advantage.

With such a significant portion of the target audience and consumers present on these platforms, pharma companies cannot afford to ignore them. The approach for companies is slowly shifting from merely communicating the benefits of a drug to healthcare professionals and medical reps to developing an emotional connection with patients themselves.

As an example, Facebook is the perfect stage for brands to humanise their brand and reach out to a wider audience on a more personal level. Marketing for most drugs on Facebook might violate their policies, however, digital pharma strategies can include the promotion of wellness and lifestyle-related posts. Emotional content is also something brands can always bank on to resonate with audiences.

Social media users are used to engaging in conversations. Pharma, due to strict regulations, has some limitations in terms of how they engage with their users, e.g. comments from public interactions on social media campaigns may lead to compliance issues. Pharma’s inability to engage in this way means their social media presence is far less engaging for patients and HCPs compared to other content providers. Getting active on social media will definitely require the introduction of some internal processes and frameworks to decide e.g. how to manage comments.

As pharma becomes more confident in using social media platforms, the industry will be braver with the content that is distributed. Sometimes internal regulatory might weaken our messaging but there is plenty of potential for stronger messaging if ensure we keep it to communicating accurate information which is relevant to our target audience.

Listening is key to developing digital solutions and creating campaigns that meet the needs of your target audience. Social media listening is highly effective and should be part of your strategy design: searching the web to see what’s being said about your company or products is a great way to gather insights. With the collected information you can map out patients and HCPs’ challenges and identify where solutions are needed.

It’s also worth mentioning influencer marketing. 41% of all patients say that social media impacts their decision when choosing a healthcare provider. Reliable online sources of information usually get more attention and can have a stronger influence on peoples’ attitudes and behaviours. A credible influencer with a good number of followers (from a few hundred to millions of users) and a relevant content strategy, can be a great advocate for the brand. For example, an active social media user who suffers from diabetes can be successfully approached to call attention to sugar consumption among his/her followers. This influencer can also be used to report their progress in the use of a drug or device. In this case, for example, their experience using a new glucose meter.

Measurement & metrics

Over the last few years, many healthcare organisations have implemented a large number of reporting systems, automation tools, etc. However, the adoption of marketing related metrics has been somewhat slower. Reporting back on the value of paid media campaigns is still undervalued, making it hard to prove the real value from marketing budgets spent on campaigns

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it and prove the value of your marketing efforts. In order to see if your marketing is actually performing, you need to track successes and failures. You need to set goals, time frames and KPIs that track your performance. You can track reach, amount of traffic that you are getting across channels, how many people are interacting with your content, how many leads were generated through different channels, etc.


With the huge volume of data available today, pharma companies cannot afford to neglect it. Brands can get a unique insight into their consumers concerns, behavioural habits and more. This data, that was previously unavailable, can help pharma brands build a more comprehensive digital strategy to engage with their end-users.

Even though there are a lot of challenges to overcome when implementing digital marketing strategies, they deliver, when implemented correctly, great results for brands. Digital transformation in the healthcare industry is a win-win. Patients become more informed, active participants with greater access to tools that help them lead healthier lives. Meanwhile, healthcare providers gain access to additional data about patients and are able to provide more personalised experiences and align with today’s value-based care paradigm.

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Doctors, Status and Social Media

Doctors, Status and Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

One hundred and thirty years ago, Sir William Osler – probably the most celebrated doctor in modern history – gave an address to the newly minted doctors at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.

Osler told the students that ‘in the physician or surgeon no quality takes rank with imperturbability’

‘in the physician or surgeon no quality takes rank with imperturbability’

 He described this as a physical quality, a steadiness of hand and coolness of nerve under pressure which reassures patients and colleagues.


The mental equivalent of imperturbability, for Osler, was equanimity – serenity of mind. This mental composure could be ruffled by difficult patients, overwork, and the uncertainty of medicine. Yet, if attained, it would enable the doctor ‘to rise superior to the trials of life’.

Osler observed that these two qualities should be used judiciously and not harden ‘the human heart by which we live’.

In another lecture to medical students, Osler referred to doctors as belonging to ‘the great army of quiet workers’ whose voices are not heard in the streets but who offer ‘consolation in sorrow, need, and sickness.’ The best doctor, Osler noted, is often the one of whom the public hears the least.

Nowadays, doctors are heard loud and clear by all and sundry. Social media is brimming with doctors and medical students opening their hearts, sharing their frustrations, and venting their anger.

Members of the public can read tweets from doctors who describe how they cried at work, struggled with lack of sleep, lost their temper with incompetent colleagues, and even made mistakes. Are airplane pilots equally open, I wonder?

The public perception of doctors has changed and their descent into the bustling crowds of social media is likely to have played a part. With greater openness about their vulnerabilities and fallibilities, the mystique of the medical profession is fading. The Oslerian emphasis on imperturbability, equanimity and the quiet dignity of the physician has given way to the doctor as Everyman, prone to the same weaknesses as all of us.

Doctors, who hitherto got things off their chest in the privacy of the doctor’s mess, now bellow their discontent to the world. This may be therapeutic and humanise doctors, but it risks undermining public confidence in the medical profession. A loss of confidence in doctors brings a greater inclination for patients to challenge, complain and sue. Moreover, the placebo effect borne from seeing doctors whose very presence is reassuring may be lost.

Younger doctors have grown up with social media. They tweeted as students and now tweet as doctors. Doctors tempted to share insights into their working life on social media must ask themselves whether the benefits of this candour outweigh the possible harms to their reputation and to the image of the medical profession as a whole.

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6 Ways to Promote Your Doctor's Office with a Mobile App |

6 Ways to Promote Your Doctor's Office with a Mobile App | | Social Media and Healthcare |

For the first few years, you need to build your medical practice’s base of patients. Later, people will lead their friends and relatives to you by themselves. But how can you go about promoting yourself as a doctor at the very beginning? Even more importantly, how can you turn one-time patients into regular patients?

There are many ways to promote your doctor’s office. You can create your own blog, post Q&A sessions on YouTube, and dive into social media marketing. You can also partner with healthcare industry representatives from hospitals, pharmaceutical companies or insurance providers. Providing content and promoting yourself on the internet is great, but building your own strong brand requires more than that.

Why develop an app for your doctor’s office?

After you attract patients with your content, ads, and partnerships with local companies, you’ll need to retain them. Services and products that exceed expectations will win you loyal patients for life.

A mobile app is great for marketing, but it’s also a useful tool on its own that’s able to bring instant benefits to your patients. This value is something that will make them return to you again. In this article we’ll show you how mobile app can market your doctor’s office.

There are many ways to attract patients, but retaining them can be more challenging

Let’s discuss what marketing and operational value mobile-specific features can bring to your medical practice, and how you can build up a client base for a doctor’s office with mobile app.

6 ways to use an app for your doctor’s office

Here are six marketing ideas for doctors office you can use to attract and retain patients for your medical practice.

1. Allow patients to book appointments online

Booking a doctor’s appointment online from a mobile device is fast and convenient. A mobile app can allow your patients to choose a convenient day and time for an appointment using a calendar that shows free slots.

Booking appointments via a mobile app is convenient and fast

2. Remind patients about their appointments and inform them of updates

A mobile application will allow you to reach out to your patients wherever they are. You can automate reminders and forget about having to call people individually.

3. Share videos and tutorials within your application

Demonstrate your expertise through videos and tutorials that help patients lead healthier lives. This will surely require effort, but will also make you stand out among other doctors.

Share video tutorials via your app to prove your expertise

You can easily link your application to your YouTube account or any other video service you use to share content with your patients.

4. Make personalized offers to your patients

With the help of analytics and in-app notifications, you can inform users of special offers. You can also segment your patients by age, gender, and other parameters and send them personalized notifications.

5. Consult your patients remotely with text and video chats

Often, people choose to ignore minor health issues because they don’t have time to go to a doctor in person. A mobile application can help them get the consultation they need or take the first step toward an actual appointment.

Provide remote consultations for patients who can’t make it to the office

If you want to exceed your patients’ expectations and make your service outstanding, provide remote consultations. This will encourage people to contact you and come to you in person later. Moreover, it’s simply a service that people will definitely appreciate.

6. Help patients find the way to your office

Integrate simple maps to show your patients the way to your doctor’s office. You can just show your location or allow users to see the route to your office from where they are.

These are six ways to market doctor’s office by using a mobile app. You can choose some of these features to make a fast release to app stores. After you get feedback, you can gradually improve your app by adding others. Now let’s talk about features you’ll need to promote doctors office with a mobile app.

Doctor’s office app features

Now let’s see what features are used in marketing for doctors offices. Note that you don’t have to include all these features in your mobile application: start with a simple informational app and gradually add more valuable features that will make your service outstanding.

Calendar with office hours and appointment schedule

A calendar should show your work schedule and dynamically reflect all changes your patients make. This means patients need to have the ability to book an appointment, after which other patients will see that this time in your schedule is now taken.


Integrate Google Maps or Apple Maps into the mobile application for your doctor’s office to show users your exact location. If you want, you can also add the ability to navigate to your office from within the app.

Integrate Google or Apple maps so that new patients can always find the way to your office

Push notifications

After a patient books an appointment, they should receive a notification. You can also send notificationsprior to an appointment to remind patients about it, or send notifications when you release a new article or video.

News feed

If you produce content such as videos, articles, tutorials, or podcasts, you need to show them to the world and include them in a news feed. Allow users to get valuable healthcare information in a format they’re used to.

Text and video chats

Provide remote consultations for your patients with text and video chats. You can integrate messengers and open-source technology into your app that will provide you with this functionality through APIs.

Add text and videochats to provide constant support and connection for your patients

If you choose to share personal healthcare data in text messages, you need to make sure your app is secure and compliant with regulations such as HIPAA (for US) or GDPR (for Europe).


Analytics is an important part of your marketing activities, as it gives you an idea of how people are responding. With analytics, you can not only see how your app performs technically but also the way users behave in your app and what they’re most interested in.

After you get feedback, you can gradually improve your app by adding more advanced features that your patients value most

Social media integration

Testimonials are an important part of any medical practice. Until you have a steady stream of patients that recommend you to their friends and family, you’ll need to rely on reviews and provide social proof of your professional skills. Integrate social media into your app and allow users to leave and share reviews of you as a doctor.

Wearables integration

Connect your app to wearables to know more about your patients’ health

If your patients use wearables to lead healthy lives or you need data from wearables to provide them better health-related recommendations, you can add compatibility to wearables into your mobile app.

Apart from features, you’ll also need to think about design, paid services (e.g. maps) and platforms (Android, iOS or both). The design should be integral with your website’s design, if you have one. After the app is live, you’ll need to support and update it.


There are many ways to promote yourself as a physician, and a mobile app is one of them. A mobile app for a doctor’s office is a long-term investment that will bring you new patients and make existing patients return to you again and again.

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How Healthcare Must Respond to Anti-Vaxxer Social Media

How Healthcare Must Respond to Anti-Vaxxer Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Measles outbreaks are at a record high across the U.S. At last count, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted 764 cases across 23 states. Nine of those states are experiencing full-blown outbreaks. It’s hard not to connect these statistics back to individuals who choose not to get vaccinated — why, after all, are we suffering outbreaks of a disease that can be prevented?

By allowing users to fan the flames of conspiracy theories, social media networks like Facebook and YouTube have reignited the debate over vaccinations. This widely circulates debunked theories, like the idea that vaccinations can cause autism. While there are no clear data linking social media influence to anti-vaccination beliefs, the potential consequences may well be playing out offline, with measles outbreaks popping up across the country.

While tech companies are left to grapple with finding solutions, how can medical professionals combat this misinformation? What is healthcare’s responsibility, from clinicians to health system leaders? Inside Digital Health™ spoke with three physicians to find out how healthcare leaders can respond to this wave of misinformation.

Create Counter-Resources to Vaccine Misinformation

Social media aside, the internet allows for a lot of information to be presented unchecked and in misleading ways. Researchers found evidence of about 500 anti-vaccine websites, according to a study published in the Journal of Communication in Healthcare.

Daniel Salmon, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said what he finds really alarming are websites that appear to belong to legitimate health organizations. He pointed to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) as one example.

“The AAPS is a fringe group,” Salmon said. “I know the difference. I know what the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and the AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians) are, and I know it’s not the AAPS. But for many people, that difference isn’t going to be clear. It’s a great example of where there is misinformation that is being propagated that has the appearance of being legitimate.”

While such misinformation will continue to live online, Salmon said he believes one solution is to provide correct information that is easily accessible to the public. The Institute for Vaccine Safety, for instance, addresses many safety questions on its website.

“We cover 50 different vaccine safety topics, and for each one we have a systematic review, and then we summarize the evidence and draw conclusions whether the vaccine causes the adverse reaction or not” Salmon added. “We’re trying to instead provide accurate and succinct information.”

Have Open Discussions About Vaccines

Some health experts have urged Facebook and other tech companies to limit the influence of groups that promote anti-vaccination messages. But Salmon said he has concerns about the impact of limiting free speech online.

Sanjay Jain, M.D., director of the Center for Infection and Inflammation Imagining and professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins, said healthcare leaders should take these conversations offline. Colleagues do discuss the latest news and as a professor, Jain said it’s important to talk with students about these situations and what to say to patients who bring incorrect information or concerns.

Discussion between doctors and patients is important. Health systems and management teams need to further encourage their staff to be patient and willing to have these conversations. Remind them that most people that come across anti-vaccine information are not hardcore believers. They are likely just skeptical.

study by UCLA and University of Illinois psychologists found that telling parents their fears are uninformed or erroneous does not help to change their mind. So the approach of each health system and individual physician matters. Understand that it may take some time and more than one conversation.

“People need to understand that there are still some good reasons why vaccines are being given,” Jain said.

Tammy Lundstrom, M.D., J.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer for Trinity Health in Michigan, added that every death that could have been prevented by vaccines is a reminder that these diseases are not benign.

“We need to keep repeating the messages and spend more time explaining the benefit of vaccinations to patients and families,” she said.

Become Advocates for Vaccines

Anti-vaxxer ideas would likely carry less weight if more doctors spoke out against them publicly. Physicians should advocate for what they believe in, Lundstrom said, and health systems should enable doctors to become pro-vaccine thought leaders in the digital age.

“The medical community has a responsibility to raise its voice,” she said. “We have to talk about it and work hard to educate those with anti-vaccination beliefs. Providers can take opportunities with individuals and groups as they arise, but they can also work proactively to raise awareness about the myths and truths of vaccinations.”

At Trinity Health, physicians make local media appearances and participate in health events in the hopes of raising awareness about vaccinations. They also practice what they preach and require influenza vaccinations for all colleagues and providers.

In addition to media appearances, she suggests more health experts and organizations should turn to social media to try and “spread” accurate information. Research by The Conversation, suggests that those who have turned to social media are making a difference.

Looking specifically at Twitter, researchers found pro-vax information is starting to overtake anti-vaccination messages. Notably, some of the most influential accounts including the World Health Organization (@WHO), UNICEF (@UNICEF) and Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) drive these conversations with discussions around legislation and policy.

“The goal is to put context to what happens if you don’t [get vaccinated],” Jain said. “That kind of campaigning needs to happen, and advocacy needs to happen at a bigger level.”

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How scientists and physicians use Twitter during a medical congress

How scientists and physicians use Twitter during a medical congress | Social Media and Healthcare |


During medical congresses Twitter allows discussions to disseminate beyond the congress hall and reach a wider audience. Insights into the dynamics of social media interactions during congresses, dissemination of scientific information and the determinants of a successful tweet may allow us to better understand social media’s role in science communication.


We retrospectively extracted social media data during the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) 2017 and 2018 using NodeXL. We compared social media activity during these two congresses. Subsequently, we conducted in-depth analyses to identify the components of a successful tweet and multivariable analysis to assess independent factors associated with retweet activity.


In 2018, approximately 13,000 delegates attended ECCMID, but only 591 Twitter accounts actively tweeted about the congress. Although fewer tweets were posted in 2018 compared to 2017 (4,213 vs 4,657, respectively), ECCMID2018 generated a 63% increase in the total number of retweets (p <0.001). According to multivariable logistic regression analysis, using multimedia, URL or hashtags and mentioning other Twitter account(s) were independently associated with retweet success. Mentioning of other users and use of multimedia were the only consistent predictors of retweets irrespective of the number of followers.


A substantial increase in retweet activity and a modest increase in the number of influential Twitter accounts were observed between two successive congresses. Dissemination of scientific messages is more successful when connected accounts are actively involved in social media activity, and social media posts constitute the right combination of components.

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Healthcare, social media and a web of moral issues

Healthcare, social media and a web of moral issues | Social Media and Healthcare |

Ethics asks what we owe to one another and how we should treat one another. The internet has changed the landscape in which we, as humans, relate, and ethicists need to keep pace," explains Assistant Professor of Philosophy Moti Gorin.

Gorin is a bioethicist—a specialist within the field of applied ethics. He articulates two general aims of bioethicists: "The first is better to identify and understand ethical issues in the life sciences, medical research, and clinical practice. The second is to provide ethical guidance to scientists and health professionals as they do their work. This second aim can be achieved directly, as when clinical ethicists work with physicians or participate in IRBs [Institutional Review Boards], or indirectly, as when bioethicists serve on regulatory committees that develop and enforce ethical standards and guidelines."

In a new publication in the Hastings Center Report, Gorin and his co-authors, Melanie Terrasse and Dominic Sisti, are focused on the first aim—identifying, understanding, and urging more sustained attention to what they see as a new set of issues arising from our interactions with and through the internet. The authors demonstrate how online technologies affect human health and well-being and thus are of special concern to bioethicists. In the article, they consider issues such as mental health concerns from prolonged online exposure, the spread of health misinformation on social media platforms, and the rise of telemedicine in rural areas.

The problems begin with the use of the internet itself. Gorin explains, "The internet is a tremendous resource, unparalleled in human history. But, like practically any other resource, it can be used well or badly." Gorin continues, "studies show that the heavy use of the internet, especially social media, can have negative mental health effects." These negative repercussions include anxiety and depression, especially in girls. According to a study conducted by Facebook, reductions in well-being are more likely to occur when one is engaged with the internet through passive consumption of content, rather than actively involved with others.

Bioethicist and CSU Assistant Professor Moti Gorin. Credit: Colorado State University

Gorin targets corporations in producing this effect: "One problem, at least as I see it, is the incentive structure. Facebook, for example, is not primarily or even largely concerned with promoting or even respecting human welfare. They are concerned, first and foremost, with expanding their market share and maximizing profits." Given that the internet is driven by this 'attention economy,' corporations are concerned with keeping users on their platforms and have no incentive to consider the long-term health implications of such use.

Gorin explains that social media, via the use of proprietary algorithms, also lends itself to the reproduction of all sorts of echo chambers, i.e., online spaces that broadcast a narrow range of viewpoints, including views about our health. Our online engagement in such spaces confirms and convinces us that a particular position, often the one we already hold, is the right one. Over time, this can lead some people to believe that extreme views are commonplace. "We've seen an increase in 'fake news,' the proliferation of anti-vaccine communities, and the rise of charlatans across the internet," Gorin explains. Bioethicists should ask whether or not social media companies have an obligation to promote public health by monitoring, and possibly censoring, blatantly false and possibly harmful content from their platforms.

Furthermore, Gorin and his co-authors point out that too much online health information is misleading or simply wrong. For example, two studies—one on YouTube videos on sunscreen, tanning beds, and skin cancer prevention and another on state-funded pregnancy resource centers—show a high degree of false and misleading health information that does not align with prevailing medical guidelines. Gorin responds, "Bioethicists should be aware of inaccurate health claims and, in collaboration with communications scholars and legitimate health care news platforms, develop strategies to quickly and effectively counter pseudoscience with trustworthy health information." Some companies, like Facebook, engage in some self-policing but Gorin claims that it rarely goes far enough in regulating misinformation.

Even the practice of healthcare has shifted with the rise of online communication with both benefits and disadvantages. There are many more opportunities now for "telemedicine" or "e-health" in which a healthcare provider treats a patient remotely via video chats or instant messaging. This is most commonly practiced when serving members of rural communities who lack access to doctors and necessary treatment. Gorin and his colleagues explain: "Telemedicine allows rural residents to benefit from medical consultations with specialists they could not otherwise access, thus making it an effective and cost‐efficient solution to providing care to hard‐to‐reach populations. For this reason, many have argued that telemedicine offers large benefits with regards to issues of social justice and equitable access to care."

While telemedicine may seem like an advantage in many ways, Gorin argues that it may exasperate the inequities that rural communities already face in relation to public services. Furthermore, the authors demonstrate how remote care may "depersonalize medical interactions and erode authentic therapeutic relationships with patients. For example, some doctors have expressed concerns that the lack of physical touch and smell could affect their ability to make accurate diagnoses." The widespread use of telemedicine may mask the real need of rural citizens to have increased physical access to medical practitioners.

The provider-patient relationship is also more likely to enter blurry ethical terrain with the ubiquity of social media and pervasive public sharing of personal information. Gorin explains, "this raises so many ethical questions. Can a doctor (or psychologist, or therapist) 'google' a patient? Can she snoop on her patients' social media accounts? While this may certainly shed light on problems like general health, substance use, or relationship stress, there are definitely issues of consent that need to be navigated here." Likewise, medical practitioners need to be mindful of their own social media posts. While social media may help humanize providers, there is also the chance of eroding trust in them if they post inappropriate content, such as patient interactions or their own health problems. The private/public boundary becomes very blurry, if even visible at all, in a time when so much of our lives is publicly accessible.

With the rise of the internet comes problems—for civil discourse, public health, and corporate manipulation—that we could not have imagined a generation ago. While there are many incentives for technological advancements, those incentives are often independent of any ethical considerations. Gorin thinks we should all be more mindful of what is happening "behind the scenes" and the motivations and incentives of those creating and maintaining online platforms. In the end, Gorin recommends that "we should find ways to influence the development and implementation of these technologies, such that it's not only a small number of people with narrow interests who make these incredibly impactful decisions." The more the internet becomes democraticized in its very production, the more likely it will serve the interests, health, and well-being of all its users.

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Patient Acquisition Tips for Genomics 2019

Patient Acquisition Tips for Genomics 2019 | Social Media and Healthcare |

Instead of developing a general-purpose drug that targets as many patients for a disease, companies are shifting their research and development, manufacturing and development pipelines for personalized medical solutions aimed at a patient or group of patients based on genetic diagnostics.

However, though a one-size-fits-all marketing approach may have been adequate for traditional drugs, precision genomic solutions require personalized marketing for patient acquisition. After all, these are not mass-market drugs—they’re products custom-made to a person’s DNA.

So, with the precision medicine market exploding, how can you take full advantage of the growing demand for personalized genomic medicine and maximize patient acquisition?

Precision Medicine Requires Precision Marketing

First and foremost, use all of your customer touch-point data to effectively segment and reach your different target audiences-healthcare providers, hospitals, and payors as well as patients. This will aid in crafting and refining precision messaging that resonates with the desired audience at the proper marketing stage.

This is particularly important regarding health providers who make decisions about the use of personalized prescription drugs because they often need to see some credibility before they can begin offering any new precision medicine product within primary care.

What’s more, when utilizing data-driven digital marketing to create accurate and robust messaging, you enable not only acquiring the most appropriate leads but also maintain and engross customers for greatest lifetime value.

Strategies for Directly Acquiring Genomic Medicine Patient Customers

When it comes to personalized medical care, once patients accept they need to do it, they are quite particular about what they’re looking for.

Here are 5 ways to maximize your patient acquisition strategies:

1.) Be the Go-To Expert in your Community: Use all media outlets at your disposal and host open houses to share your company’s knowledge and expertise in your precision medicine area with the public. Consider sponsoring or holding free health assessments, such as for heart health and other medical screenings, to showcase your genomic medicine prowess in addition to your commitment to patients. By getting people to trust your company, they are more inclined to engage with your precision medicine product.

2.) Fast and Accurate Customer Service: People do not like to wait-there is evidence that being put on hold is enough for customers to pass on a vendor. Nowadays, there are alternative technologies like live chats that enable companies to provide faster customer service without having to invest in a large customer service team. Accordingly, try to provide a variety of channels for customers to get the information and help they need, when they need it, and how they want it.

3.) Make Marketing Personal: Customizing the patient experience to make working with your business both enjoyable and memorable is critical for patient acquisition. For example, use first names in communication when you connect with your patients to build a lasting relationship. Customers who are more satisfied are always more likely to refer others than those who do not have a long-term relationship with your business.

4.) Use Social Media to Build Patient Engagement: Many new patients will check out the social media profiles of a business before deciding on a precision medicine product-whether to schedule an appointment or to buy a health product. Keeping social media accounts updated with useful information and building an online community can drive organic (and potentially unpaid) traffic to your business.

5.) Exploit Patient Feedback: With rising healthcare costs, patients are starting to put in the time and effort to determine the credibility of companies in the precision medicine market, and this often means reading customer reviews. Using social media to post patient reviews can be an effective marketing tool that can even generate word-of-mouth referrals. If you don’t already ask customers for testimonials, let alone feedback, you could be overlooking a cost-effective, genuine way to showcase your company’s precision medicine product.

Summary: Adaptive and Evolutionary Marketing in Precision Medicine

As with healthcare, the marketing landscape is transforming, and the genomics and precision medicine companies taking a proactive, personalized methodology to adapt to these changes will indubitably capture a greater market share. So, the more you comprehend your audience and test your tailor-made digital marketing strategies, the more likely you are to improve customer satisfaction and engagement for optimal lead conversion in the precision medicine market.

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5 Ways to Uplevel Your Digital Marketing Strategy for Healthcare Providers

5 Ways to Uplevel Your Digital Marketing Strategy for Healthcare Providers | Social Media and Healthcare |

So you’ve gotten your five HIPAA rules under control and your marketing budget is at least 10% of your company’s overall budget. Now you are ready to embark into the healthcare digital marketing world, but don’t know which digital strategy to implement.



Let’s look at the five ways you can uplevel your digital marketing strategy for healthcare to help you generate more traffic and stay competitive in the healthcare industry.



Have an Easy-to-Navigate Website While Staying Mobile Conscience

Although many people still use desktops, the majority of consumers access initial information via their mobile devices. Mobile devices provide fast and convenient access to a full range of healthcare information, which is why having a mobile-friendly website as a part of your digital marketing strategy is a must.


A website that is hard to navigate will hinder your reputation and brand trustworthiness. Mobile-friendly websites are also more helpful for search engine optimization purposes and can help you convert new patients or prospects at a higher rate.


44 percent of patients who research hospitals on a mobile device end up scheduling an appointment. – GMR Web Team



Location-Based SEO


89% of people immediately turn to a search engine when trying to answer a healthcare question. In addition, 82% of those people use a search engine to find healthcare treatment.


To ensure your business listing populates when potential patients begin to search for you on Google, put an emphasis on local SEO to help drive you in the right direction. Consider these steps:


Step 1: Google My Business and Bing Places for Business

With using Google My Business (GMB) and Bing Places for Business, you can create new or claim existing business listings. While you’re at it, remove duplicate entries and update any information that may be wrong or outdated.


To get started, you’ll need to ensure:

  • Login and contact emails are on the company’s domain
  • The page has accurate, relevant category associations
  • The correct business name, address, phone number, and business hours are listed
  • The description is unique and well written
  • The page is verified
  • The page includes images of your building, both inside and out


If you have too many listings or too many locations to easily manage the unique details, consider acquiring a purpose-built knowledge engine like Yext to help make your business more discoverable in search and ultimately attract new patients.


Not sure how your locations show up in local search? Scan your business for free here to preview your current results.


With Yext you can engage your patients through reviews, eliminate duplicate content, showcase important and enticing information, and consolidate internal data resources into one.


Step 2: Website Optimization

Now that your GMB listings are in order with the appropriate information that drives the user to your website, you must have well-structured site that is SEO optimized. Why? Because search engines drive three times as many visitors to hospital websites than any other source.


To get started, you’ll need to ensure:

  • The most important content is included in the primary navigation
  • Every service has a dedicated landing page with relevant content that includes keywords currently driving traffic to your and your competitors’ websites
  • Every page has an easily accessible contact information
  • URL structure is consistent throughout the site, creating strategic HTML titles, among other techniques
  • The blog is on the same domain as the rest of the site
  • The site is mobile-friendly


Step 3: Reviews


More than 80% of patients are now consulting review websites with some frequency to gauge provider reputation and/or to leave ratings and reviews. – Software Advice


A constant flow of positive reviews is a must for the success of any medical office or hospital. In fact, review quantity, velocity, and diversity play roles in Google’s overall ranking factors. Review diversity is good for both patients and search engines, so be sure to offer a variety of places online where patients can review.


To get started, you’ll need to ensure:

  • You’ve implemented satisfaction surveys with ratings
  • You’ve created testimonial fields to use to highlight review content in marketing materials
  • You’re consistently and proactively asking for feedback on social channels and in email



Native Advertising


Said to be one of the latest and greatest healthcare marketing trends and spreading throughout social media platforms, native advertising is the use of paid ads that mimic the look, feel and function of the media channel in which they appear as contemporary formats. Unlike display ads, native ads don’t look like regular ads.


Top reasons marketers are using native advertising:

  • Provide more relevant messaging
  • Increase consumer engagement
  • Improve purchase intent
  • Build brand loyalty
  • Generate awareness
  • Create word of mouth traffic



“70 percent of individuals want to learn about products through content rather than traditional advertising”. – Inc.



People don’t want to be interrupted by advertising. They’re more interested in conversation, which native advertising helps to create with seamless transition between social posts and the advertisement itself, opening the window to increased engagement.


So why implement native advertising? With displays of natural-like advertising, native ads create an environment where you and your patients can build relationships with higher engagement and increased content.


41% say that that social media content influenced their choice of which hospital to go to.


How to measure success with native advertising:

  • Ad impressions – number of times the ad has been viewed online
  • Reads – number of people who have read the piece
  • Engagement – Time spent on the story
  • Display ad impressions



Content Marketing


Many studies have shown that healthcare content is the second-most searched for service online.


Take advantage of all these searches by incorporating a blog and include an additional content touch point, like a resourceful email strategy campaign. Use these tools to capitalize on building brand loyalty and trust, generate awareness, provide relevant messaging, and increase consumer engagement. Be sure to plan your content calendar around timely topics relevant to your organization.


Getting you started with a few content ideas:

  • Service, doctor, and product introductions
  • Stories and testimonials
  • Event promotion
  • Health education and tips


Educate, Inspire and Promote Through Video Marketing

With being one of the less attention-grabbing industries, healthcare has started to rely heavily on sparkling interest with the use of evergreen videos, which in return is a big ranking factor in SEO.


A video is 50 times more likely to rank organically in search. And by 2019 videos will make up 85% of online traffic in the U.S.


Video marketing offers organizations an opportunity to connect on a deeper level by establishing a relationship and visually educating them in an effort to help cultivate the buying journey.


80% of Hootsuite users said that they would rather watch videos of content instead of reading it. –LYFE Marketing


Whether you have a small budget or your own videographer on staff, here are some ideas to help guide you along as you start making videos to help meet your marketing goals:


  • Educate
  • Show empathy
  • Tell your story
  • Build Trust
  • Solve a problem



Final Thoughts

Earning buy in from leadership for enough budget is one of the biggest challenges for marketing teams in healthcare. Along with implementing the strategies I have presented, ensure your health system has a plan in place for managing your marketing data (think a CRM or patient-relationship software).


Implementing tools like Google Analytics to prove ROI is essential to show proof your healthcare marketing department is driving results and deserves their additional budget and support.

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Using Social Media to Engage with Patients

Using Social Media to Engage with Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is taking over the world. Corporations, schools, and even hospitals use these platforms to engage with their target audience. Doctors in Dubai have also embraced the culture of social media and use these platforms to stay in touch with their patients.


Social Media Rules in Dubai

Before creating a social media account to engage with your patients, you should be aware that there are specific guidelines that all social media users in Dubai need to follow. Below are some of the regulations you need to follow:


As a doctor, you need to respect the privacy of your patients and refrain from posting their information. It is not only disrespectful, it is also illegal. Violation of other people’s privacy can attract a hefty fine or jail time.


Refrain from posting content that might offend the Islamic culture. Use decent language, photos, and content. Offensive language and indecent photos could land you in jail, or you could get fined up to AED 500,000.

Ask for Permission

Just like you should not post patients’ private details, you need to ask for permission before including your patients in your page’s photo collection. Posting photos without consent could cost you six months in jail.

Using the internet to interact with your social media patients is an excellent way to show them that you care and you are willing to follow up on their progress as well as provide advice outside the hospital.

The following ways show you how you can engage with your patients via social media:

1. Be Easily Accessible

To engage with your patients on social media, ensure that all your accounts are visible on your websites. For instance, if you run a blog, indicate the Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms you use, and provide your username.

Promote your pages by including links on your brochures, in your office, and on the website. Also, make sure the link is accessible and fix it issues quickly as they arise.

2. Lead the Conversation

To start interacting with your patients, engage them in a conversation by asking reasonable questions. These questions should enable the audience to think of how you can help them and enlighten them at the same time.

Use this opportunity to collect feedback regarding new techniques in your practice, such as treatment procedures or the introduction of advanced technology in the hospital. You can ask questions like “how have our new dialysis machines saved you time.” Patients will answer the questions and also provide further information about other services.

3. Promote Participation

One of the reasons for creating a social media page should be to help your followers, and you cannot do this if you are not aware of their wellbeing. Encourage your social media patients to participate in your pages. For instance, if you are a cardiologist, you could create a weekly challenge where you ask your patients to post about their weekly health regime, such as exercise habits.

Encourage them to like or comment if they want more details about a subject and ask them to share on different platforms. Also, share this information on your blog and provide links.

4. Consistency

The only way you will retain and attract more following is if you post regularly. Social media patients follow your sites to keep updated and to get crucial information concerning their health. If you are not active, the audience will follow another page where they can access new information daily or weekly. If you are too busy to post, you can hire a social media person to manage your accounts.

5. Create Trust

When you decide to open an account or website, patients will always have questions for you. Ensure that you respond to all, even if they are simple or obvious, this way the patients will trust you more. Provide credible information – some patients try to test doctors so they can decide which ones to follow. If you don’t have the answers, you can provide suggestions to show the audience your concern on the matter.

Social media enables people to connect from different parts of the world, regardless of time and distance. It is also an excellent way for doctors to engage with their patients and help to solve health issues and provide useful information. Just don’t forget, to engage with patients effectively on social media, your pages need to be easily accessible, and you need to respond to questions and comments.

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The Role of Social Media in Private Practice

The Role of Social Media in Private Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |

More than half of the world’s population now uses the Internet.1 Many of these users access social media sites on a regular basis. Social media can be classified in a plethora of ways to reflect the diverse range of social media platforms, such as collaborative projects (eg, Wikipedia), content communities (eg, YouTube), and social networking sites (eg, Facebook).2 A recent Pew Research Center survey of US adults reports that social media use in early 2018 was characterized by a combination of “long-standing trends and newly emerging narratives”3; 73% of US adults reported using YouTube and 68% reported using Facebook. At the same time, younger Americans (especially those aged 18 to 24 years) are embracing a variety of platforms (eg, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter) and using them frequently.3

Psychiatrists are increasingly using social media to educate the general public, existing patients, and potential patients about various conditions. With their many applications, social media platforms are useful for professional networking, patient and provider education, research collaboration, personal and professional support, and academic dialogues. Social media adds a new dimension to health care because it offers a medium for physicians and patients to communicate about medical issues with the potential to improve health outcomes.

Benefits of using social media in private practice

Using social media in private practice has many benefits. It provides avenues for us to market ourselves and our services. The most popular social media sites for physicians are those where we can participate in online communities, listen to experts in their fields, read news articles, network, and communicate with colleagues regarding patient issues. These sites allow us to acquire and read relevant information related to our patients and practice. Social media allows us to engage with other psychiatrists and mental health professionals by commenting on posts and participating in group discussions or online chats. By identifying and sharing useful information or links with followers or other members of an online community, these interactions can increase the acquisition of salient information.

We can create blogs, forums, videos, and information-sharing websites that provide information to the general public, patients, and other mental health professionals on mental illness, treatments available, and wellness; these efforts can help reduce stigma associated with mental illness and promote psychiatry. Our use of social media can expand access to individuals who may not easily access health information via traditional methods. Social media can provide peer, social, and emotional support for patients, the general public, and other mental health providers. It can allow the general public to discuss sensitive topics and complex information with us and provide opportunities for us to provide online consultations.

Social media provides communication in real time and is inexpensive, although potentially time consuming. We can quickly monitor public response to mental health issues, identify misinformation of mental health information, and disseminate pertinent mental health information to targeted communities. We can compile data about patient experiences from blogs, collect data from patients, and gather opinions regarding our performance (eg, via customer satisfaction surveys). We can use social media to disseminate personalized messages immediately.


Challenges of using social media in private practice


The challenges of using social media can be as numerous as the benefits. Information on the Internet, especially in user-generated forums, is largely unregulated and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.4 Authors of medical information found on social media sites are often unknown or are identified by limited information, and the medical information may be unreferenced, incomplete, or informal.5 Social media tends to emphasize anecdotal reports while evidence-based medicine tends to de-emphasize it. Using social media may make us susceptible to both known and unknown conflicts of interest that we may be unable to decipher.

Social media conveys information about a person’s personality and values, and the first impression generated by this content (eg, photos, posts) can be lasting. Posting inappropriate content or unfavorable comments can reflect negatively upon us and can be viewed as unprofessional.

We can view our patients’ social media profile to obtain information about them. Their “digital footprint” may help us understand the context of their lives, reconcile discrepancies with what they have told us, or allow us to confront denial and address incomplete reporting. However, perusing our patients’ online profiles could negatively impact treatment and adherence. Patients may choose to portray themselves differently on their online profiles, and their identities often cannot be confirmed.6Even if some information is accurate, we might discover things that we did not expect to learn about our patients, including important information that they did not share, significant problems they are currently experiencing, or even something they lied about. This can create ethical dilemmas of what to do with the information and whether it should be addressed immediately or at a future session.

Despite their online activities being displayed for the world to see, our patients may not expect us to access their online information. They might perceive such perusal as a breach of trust, which can lead patients to view the doctor-patient relationship as adversarial. Accessing this information could also create a more intimate relationship than intended. Even if we acquire their consent to perform a search, our patients may still feel coerced into allowing it because they might feel that declining to grant permission would make us suspect that they have something to hide, or that we would search without their consent. In addition, if our patients are aware that we are monitoring them, they might change their behavior. For example, they may delete certain data, add additional information that may not be accurate, or censor future social media posts. Knowing that we could be paying attention to them online might motivate patients to act out or become withdrawn.

Breaches of patient privacy can occur when posting information, photos, videos, or comments concerning our patients to a social media platform. These breaches can lead to legal action against us as well as adversely affect our credentials and licensure.5 There is a vast amount of information that is available for us to peruse; however, perusing that information might require excessive time and effort, or divert attention from more productive therapeutic interventions.

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3 Ways Healthcare Professionals Can Use Social Media To Improve Population Health

3 Ways Healthcare Professionals Can Use Social Media To Improve Population Health | Social Media and Healthcare |

With as often as we hear about the negative side of social media, it can be easy to forget that Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms are also improving people’s lives in concrete, measurable ways.

One particularly promising area? Healthcare.

From helping chronically ill people feel less isolated, to correcting the spread of diagnostic misinformation, to helping patients get the care they need faster, social media can offer a host of benefits to patients and the healthcare professionals treating them.

So how can doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, public health advocates, and others in this space harness the potential of social media? Here are just a few ways to do so.


Sharing public health information and correcting misinformation

Any healthcare professional who’s been active on social media has doubtless seen some of the totally unfounded medical claims that circulate online.

In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, eight out of 10 internet users search for health information online. Of those, 74% use social media to search for health information.


While some of this misinformation is harmless, much of it actually does real harm.

The backlash against vaccinations, which has been fueled in huge part by misinformation shared online, is the most obvious example, but there are plenty of others. Cardiologists, for example, are hearing from many patients that they do not want to take statins, a cholesterol-lowering drug that has been decried as dangerous by celebrities and politicians—but not by doctors.

And just like social media can be a quick and effective way to spread bad health information, it can also be a quick and effective way to spread scientifically-proven, correct health information. Some doctors create short videos in which they debunk popular health myths. Some summarize the latest scientific findings in plain language, linking to the journal in which the study or research appeared.

Major organizations like the World Health Organization post health facts regularly, especially when there’s a relevant world event. While most healthcare professionals won’t have nearly the reach of the WHO, they can still be active leaders in helping fight the spread of health misinformation online.

Helping chronically ill patients develop social supports

Aside from the countless medical difficulties that chronically ill people must go through, the isolation that these illnesses can cause can be deeply debilitating—especially for young people.

For many of these patients, social media platforms can be a truly life-changing technology. Similar to the way chronically ill people have congregated online on message boards and forums, today, many of these patients are finding Facebook groups for people with their same disease, or connecting with friends that they aren’t able to get together with on Instagram.

Healthcare professionals who care for these individuals have a great opportunity to help them develop those social supports by staying aware of active social media groups, sharing research on the power of social media for social support, and generally promoting responsible social media use for patients who express interest.

Spreading awareness about new and/or innovative healthcare solutions

From the operating room to the operations department, the healthcare space has been changing drastically over the past 15 years thanks to technology.

Robotic surgeries. Incredibly accurate diagnostic tests. New cancer therapies.

But there are also developments like telehealth, for example, which connects patients with specialists through a secure video conference, which has made it easier for rural communities to access specialized healthcare. Organizations like Better Help connect people with licensed counselors for online mental health counseling services.

These innovations aren’t worth much if the people who need them aren’t aware they exist. And in healthcare, where the patient-provider model hasn’t changed greatly in decades—in general, if you’re sick, you go to a doctor’s office—it’s crucial that patients be made aware of new options like video therapy sessions, or telehealth sessions with an out-of-state specialist.

If your office or hospital offers these things, social media can be a highly effective way to let patients and potential patients know about them.

Social media’s ill effects are well-documented and important to stay aware of. However, it’s just as important to realize that when used responsibly, social media can have highly beneficial applications for healthcare providers and the people they’re trying to help.

Shama Hyder is CEO of Zen Media, a leading marketing and new media consultancy, a best-selling author, and an internationally renowned keynote speaker.

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Deaf Nursing Student Uses Social Media To Empower Aspiring Healthcare Professionals | 

Deaf Nursing Student Uses Social Media To Empower Aspiring Healthcare Professionals |  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Nurses can be a lot of things — men, women, transgender, non-binary, mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, you get the picture. But can a nurse be deaf?  

The short answer to that is, of course, nurses can be deaf.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing nurses have — and continue — to work in the healthcare field, making a difference caring for and treating patients. Nurses who have hearing challenges may use accommodations at work they are legally entitled to, or they may have varying tools that can assist them to do their jobs, but working as a deaf nurse is very possible. Read on for more information about what it takes to be a deaf nurse, along with resources for deaf and hard-of-hearing nurses. 

One deaf nursing student’s story

Britny Bensman, 27, from Cleveland, Tennessee is a certified clinical medical assistant working in family medicine who is currently pursuing her LPN. She attends Hondros College of Nursing in Westerville, Ohio, the school’s first-ever deaf student, and expects to graduate in early 2020. 

Although she was born with full hearing, Bensman explains that her parents first noticed that something “was off” with her hearing around the time she was three years old. It was discovered that she lost her hearing from unknown causes and is now profoundly deaf, with a complete loss of hearing in her right ear. She is able to hear about 85% in her left ear with the assistance of a hearing aid and notes that thanks to her parents starting speech therapy with her as soon as they discovered her condition, she is able to speak well. 

Bensman also learned ASL from attending Gallaudet University, a move she says she is “extremely grateful” to have made. After getting her LPN, Bensman plans to get her RN, then her MSN/NP. “I want to become a provider for the Deaf community for them to visit someone they can trust and knowing that I know ASL, there will be no communication barriers,” she explains. “Patient education and preventive care are extremely important to me. Many deaf patients do not get all the resources because of lack of communication, interpreters, and closed captioning.”  

Challenges of working as a deaf nurse

Image courtesy of DeafMed Instagram

Bensman’s challenges began with getting into nursing school. She applied to many different schools before finally gaining acceptance at Hondros, who she says immediately got her the accommodations she needed to succeed, with two interpreters, two captionists, and a borrowed hard-of-hearing stethoscope that she can use through graduation. “Hondros gave me hope,” she says. “Hondros opened my door. Hondros will allow me to be the nurse I am meant to be.”  

Over the course of her now five years working as a medical assistant, Bensman has also faced some challenges on the job. From fears that hiring managers would dismiss her application if she revealed she was hard-of-hearing to having trouble relying on her go-to method of lip reading in patients with accents or who had facial hair, the nurse-to-be has had to do a lot of problem-solving over the years. 

For instance, when she noticed patients getting frustrated when she couldn’t pronounce medications with the letter “s” in them, she came up with the solution to having the patient read along with her from the computer. “I noticed that it makes the patient feel like they have the attention they needed knowing that I got them involved with patient care,” Bensman comments. 

Resources for deaf nurses and hard of hearing nurses

Image courtesy of DeafMed Instagram

Unfortunately, there was a time, not even in our distant past, when the world of healthcare was not so welcoming to deaf nurses. In 2002, John Hopkins Hospital withdrew a job offer for a nurse named Lauren Searls after they found out she would need ASL interpreters. Fortunately, however, Searls did not accept that her treatment was acceptable and fought back, eventually winning her court case, getting a new job offer at a different hospital, and paving the way for other nurses like her. 

Today, there are resources that exist to help nurses who are deaf continue to work in healthcare or pursue employment in the healthcare field. For instance, the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Loss (AMPHL) works to advocate for and assist deaf and hard-of-hearing medical professionals with a conference, job opportunities, and mentorship programs. 

On the job, Bensman uses tools to help her in her role of caring for patients. 

  • She has a Video Relay Service called Purple via ASL for her to call out and receive messages to and from providers, pharmacies, patients, or insurance companies. 
  • To obtain vital signs, she uses an automatic blood pressure machine as well as a special stethoscope made specifically for deaf and hard of hearing people. 
  • Her facility also has an interpreter who comes to staff meetings and some of her coworkers have learned ASL as well, although she notes that they are often too busy for her to be able to call on them. 

Using Social Media To Empower Current and Future Deaf Healthcare Professionals

Bensman also started her own social media account, DeafMed, in 2016. Her Instagram account features stories of other deaf and hard-of-hearing nurses, along with tips, inspiration, and education. The social media trailblazer notes that simply sharing stories from other hard-of-hearing and deaf medical professionals have opened eyes and allowed others to turn negative experiences into positive ones. 

“The biggest surprise is how many Deaf and Hard of Hearing there are already in the medical field,” she adds. “It’s like we’ve been hiding in our shells. I feel like DeafMed got us out of our shells…we all immediately became a role model to each other and to others.”

Through her own work in becoming one of the nation’s estimated up to half of a million RN’s with some sort of hearing loss and through her social media advocacy, Bensman hopes to inspire other aspiring deaf nurses to know that they are not alone — and show them that it is possible to enter into the medical field. 

“No more barriers,” she states. “My goal is to let them believe in themselves and knowing that they can become whatever they want to become.” 

It Takes A Village!

By sharing her story Britny hopes to shine a spotlight on the deaf and hard of hearing community. Don't be afraid to share your story, you never know who it could inspire! But, Britny didn't do all this alone, she had many loved ones who have helped her along the way.

Britny was fortunate to have two mentors, who are deaf nurses, to look up to - Tiffany Hanna and Sarah Heins hold a special place in her heart. She's also like to thank her husband, family, closest friends as well as all her teachers, professors, coaches and mentors who had a big impact on her life. 

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Healthcare Digital Marketing Strategy Examples From the Best

Healthcare Digital Marketing Strategy Examples From the Best | Social Media and Healthcare |

The healthcare industry has had a slow integration into the world of modern day digital marketing. While medical research and healthcare itself is constantly advancing, the marketing of this industry is a very different story.

The industry faces unique challenges in this area – healthcare has typically been run by old school mentality, leaders who aren’t sold on the benefits of new age digital marketing tactics.


Additionally, the wide breadth of medical specializations and the vast audience to which healthcare applies (that is – absolutely everyone) make marketing for healthcare a particularly tricky endeavor.

Despite these challenges, it’s absolutely crucial for healthcare services to step out of the dark age of old practices and into the light of digital marketing – like other industries, they can’t afford to not adapt to the digital age.


The internet is a patient’s primary hub for acquiring information and learning about medical issues. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that people are staying home from the doctor’s office to test out some home remedy from the internet – it means that people like taking their healthcare into their own hands.

Patients like to be informed, and with the abundance of information available on the web – from patient stories and forums, testimonials, and drug reaction information to disease outbreak alerts and symptom information  – that’s generally where they flock to find out more about what’s going on.

What’s the first thing you do when you have a rash? You Google it. What do you do when you feel abdominal pain? You Google it. And when your leg just spontaneously drops off? Well, you’ll probably take a trip to the ER before anything else, but for most things – you turn to Google to find answers online.

In other words, you need to create a healthcare digital marketing strategy. The best way to learn how to make an awesome strategy is by studying the best of the best. 

Here are examples of healthcare digital marketing fundamentals from top performing healthcare companies:

The Best Healthcare Marketing Blogs

It’s important to stay informed on the latest digital marketing trends within healthcare. Otherwise you’ll quickly lose your competitive edge.

Content creation plays a major role in successful digital marketing strategies, as it contributes to your organization’s relevance and allows you to be found in important places – like search engine results.

Blogs are a great way to provide constant, fresh information to patients. You can pack your blog full of all kinds of resources – patient stories, outbreak information, general health advice and health risks, and answers to questions about a countless variety of medical conditions.

That way, when a patient goes looking for answers about a medical condition, they’ll land on your blog.


Each blog post will likely be targeted toward a different audience, given that there is such a wide expanse of medical topics to cover, and each one will apply to individual groups of patients with different conditions.

Take a look at these healthcare blogs as examples of effective content distribution.

The Doctor Weighs In

The Doctor Weighs In started as a blog about obesity and weight loss back in 2005. But as it picked up steam, they branched out to cover a wide breadth of health topics, including healthcare policies, mental health, medical care, tech, and lifestyle.

They have numerous writers who contribute to the blog, and their content is composed of “evidence-based stories.”

Healthcare Success

Healthcare Success is actually a marketing agency, but they cater exclusively to healthcare organizations with the goal of helping them attract new clients and “maximize their business success.”

Their blog is dedicated to discussing the latest healthcare marketing trends, and it’s a great resource for organizations looking to gain a knowledgeable edge over their competitors.

Brigham Health Hub

The Brigham and Women's Hospital is located in Boston, MA. The hospital is ranked among the best in the nation, so it's only natural that their digital marketing reflects their enormous success and quality of healthcare.

The hospital's blog, Brigham Health Hub, is a valuable educational resource for patients. It not only covers news about the hospital itself, but also features a wide range of medical topics and advice for patients. 

The blog has a navigation bar with sections for you to browse a specific category of articles, including conditions and treatments, prevention, healthy living, and innovation. It even has a "top viewed articles" section for content that is popular amongst the public. 

Rothman Orthopaedics

If your company works within a designated specialty, you should consider having a blog tailored to that. Rothman Orthopaedics has a fantastic specialized blog, covering just about anything and everything you might ever need to know about orthopaedic injuries and issues. 

While they cover complex topics, they present their content in a user-friendly way, making it easy for readers to understand. They also provide very specific content focused toward individual audience groups.

For example, some of their article titles include "Tips for Trail Runners – How to Avoid (and Treat) IT Band Syndrome" and "How to Prevent Cycling Back Injuries."

Healthcare Social Media Marketing Examples

Social media has become a key element of any good digital marketing strategy. In a world where patients are now demanding transparency in healthcare, they turn to organizations they trust over anyone else.

In order to establish trust with your patients, you have to interact with them in their own platforms – Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter. Establishing a social media presence and engaging via these channels allows them to make a more personal connection with your healthcare organization and thus, build trust.


You can use social media to create a trusted medical community for patients to turn to when they need help. Direct people toward informational resources to answer questions, feature patient testimonials, and host and participate in important discussions.

Take a look at some organizations that have created a strong social media presence and use it to their advantage:

Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Clinic showcases its exceptional digital marketing strategy with a very strong social media presence.

Their Facebook page has 1.1M followers, and for good reason. They make multiple posts throughout the day, including informational articles and videos targeting specific medical concerns and conditions, as well as direct messages to their patients and donors.

They also take advantage of Facebook’s event promotion option and create individual pages for all of their upcoming events, making it incredibly easy for users to find out what’s coming up so they can plan to attend.

Harvard Pilgrim

Harvard Pilgrim uses their Twitter account to provide their customers with up-to-date news about their organization. You'll find plenty of event promotion and recap, especially for fundraising and events they have sponsored with partner organizations like Red Cross and BARCC – The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.

Their tweets can also be very informational, providing hyperlinks to health insurance resources and general health information.

Additionally, Harvard Pilgrim provides grants for small organizations and projects looking to make a difference in the health of their community, such as the growth of healthy and sustainable food.

You can find little updates about these projects on Harvard Pilgrim's Twitter, complete with photos to show how those involved are working to make a difference. 

Advent Health

Created in January 2019, Advent Health’s Instagram page is still quite new, but after just four months, they already have over 8,000 followers. They use pleasing visual imagery to engage with their customers, even asking them questions in photo captions to spark conversations in the post comments.

They also use Instagram to contribute to their ongoing campaigns, making the most of their social media channels. As their Instagram page grows, we expect to see a lot more engaging posts! 

The Best Healthcare Marketing Campaigns

Digital marketing campaigns for healthcare organizations increase exposure, drive engagement, and build trust with consumers. Developing and launching a full fledged campaign takes a lot of work, but if it’s done well, it often pays off.

Whether you’re rebranding, looking to make a meaningful impact in the community, or simply wanting to increase engagement (or maybe all three at once), campaigns can serve a significant purpose in your digital marketing strategy.

Take a look at three of the best healthcare industry marketing campaigns that have engaged the public and made a difference:

Advent Health – Feeling Whole

Adventist Health System recently underwent a complete rebranding of the Florida Hospital entities in their organization, changing their name to Advent Health.

With the rebranding came a lot of changes, as they have refocused to become “a more consumer-focused health care system” that “better meets the needs of those [they] care for and the communities [they] serve.”  

To stay in theme with the rebrand, Advent launched their new #FeelingWhole campaign. The campaign focuses on real people stories, featuring quick consumer-like clips with personal captions and #FeelingWhole messaging (which they expertly share on their Instagram, as noted above).

WHO – Global Public Health Days

The WHO has established a number of global public health days, including World TB Day on March 24, World No Tobacco Day on May 31, World Health Day on April 7, World AIDS Day on December 1, and many more.

The campaigns were created with the goal to raise awareness about specific issues and encourage support for people to take action. Each specific public health day has an informational video, fact sheets, petitions, and action steps that you can take to help contribute to the cause.

Philips – Better Me, Better World

Philips started their Better Me, Better World campaign back in 2017 with the goal to improve the lives of three billion people every year by 2025. They even created a hashtag for the campaign to track its presence on social media: #MakeLifeBetter.

The campaign covers causes like caring for at risk mothers and children, first aid education, community access to healthcare, and healthy lifestyles for children.

The campaign has enabled Philips to connect with the public in a more engaged way, asking them which causes matter most to them, so Philips can focus their efforts on the issues that have the biggest impact.

2 Healthcare Marketing Ideas You Need to Try

1. Deliver an Awesome User Experience on Your Site.

Your website is possibly the most important element of your digital marketing campaign. It completely shapes how a user experiences your services, before they even step foot in the brick and mortar establishment of your organization. 

If your website is difficult to use, patients will become quickly frustrated and turn to another organization. To a user, their experience on your website is largely a reflection of what they expect to experience with you as a healthcare provider.

That means that if your website is a headache to use, they expect that your services will likely be unsatisfactory. 


Let's take a look at some examples of healthcare websites that are user friendly, easy to navigate, and designed in both an aesthetically pleasing and efficient way. 

Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center

Dartmouth Hitchcock’s website provides an easy and helpful user experience. Their homepage features a positive patient testimonial story front and center, which helps create a human connection with the visitor and attracts new prospective patients.

Their design is simple and effective – it provides all the necessary information, without being overly cluttered. If you’re an existing patient, the “log in to my DH” button at the top of the page allows people to easily and quickly access their medical files.

For new prospective patients, resources are put front and center on the website to make the experience as easy as possible. The “find a provider” and “find locations” buttons create an easy path to meeting their needs and providing medical care.

The directories are broken up into simple, relevant categories – patients and visitors, healthcare professionals, residents and fellows, and employees – so you know exactly where you should be clicking based on what you’re looking for.

Mayo Clinic

Surprise surprise, Mayo Clinic has a killer website. They balance visual imagery with bold pathways to create an aesthetically pleasing design.

Their color scheme stays on brand, and the design utilizes white space to ensure that the website is not cluttered. Patients can very clearly find what they’re looking for – whether they want to make an appointment, find a location, or contact a specialist.

Additionally, a clear pathway to educational resources is provided amongst the tabs along the top bar, as well as research information, available medical services, and in-depth medical condition resources for patients.

2. Produce Strong Video Content.

Video has become an increasingly popular form of content and an essential tool in successful digital marketing strategies.

Healthcare organizations can use video to their advantage in some very unique ways, including the showcasing of patient testimonials and even as an avenue to provide educational medical information to patients.

Here’s a few examples of how video has been used in healthcare marketing:

Patient Testimonials

Remember that patient story on Dartmouth Hitchcock’s website? Dartmouth made a short video in which the patient talks about her medical condition and how the Dartmouth Hitchcock has helped her deal with it. Video is a great way to showcase testimonials that will build trust with new prospective patients.

Informational Videos

The WHO public health day campaigns include informational videos to educate people on a wide variety of medical conditions and public health matters. This specific video uses animation as the primary visual style to educate patients about the accessibility and services of primary health care.

The Future of Healthcare Marketing

Digital marketing has become a necessity for survival in the healthcare industry. Old marketing methods are quickly dying out in the era of social media engagement and online content creation.

But in addition to surviving in the industry, digital communication has become the primary pathway through which healthcare organizations are able to provide medical information and education to their patients.

It is in the interest of better public health that healthcare organizations share their knowledge and resources online in a clear and effective way as well as create online communities for patients to turn to when they are in need of support.

Now that you've seen some of the best examples from top performing healthcare companies, you're ready to build an awesome healthcare digital marketing strategy of your own. 


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Social media and the life quality of oncologists

Social media and the life quality of oncologists | Social Media and Healthcare |

There are many reasons for physicians to become involved in social media, and various studies have now also proven the benefits. Nonetheless, risks must also be taken into account, as we learned at ASCO 2019.

"If we make the most of social media, it can help us do a lot better...and improve our own well-being," concluded Jane Lowe Meisel, Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta, USA, at an Educational Symposium during the 2019 ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) Annual Meeting on Social Media in Oncology.

Meisel first asked for the motivations that lead physicians to go into oncology. For her, the choice of oncology was important to care for patients at crucial points in their lives with deep, lasting relationships. This practice also allows research and clinical engagements to be combined because knowledge changes rapidly and much research is required. And oncology makes it possible to get to know difficult areas of patient care, such as drug development and clinical trial design, the delivery of bad news, and the accompaniment to the end of life.

However - as so often - ideal and reality stand far apart. Every day the oncologist has to discuss difficult messages with the patients and help them in situations that he and his family will not forget. "The demands on our time and our emotions are extreme," says Meisel. This is why stress and burnout are very common in oncologists.

An ASCO survey showed that about 45% of the 1,490 oncologists who answered the questionnaire were burned out. The higher the number of weekly working hours, the more likely the physician was to have the burned-out perception. There is a risk of isolation because the hard working days of oncologists often differ from the hard working days of colleagues in other medical disciplines.

Virtual groups to exchange experiences in all situations in life

In order to remain resilient, Meisel recommends finding people who can understand what the oncologist is going through. Of help here can be virtual groups, like ASCO Connection. As another example, Meisel cited the Hematology-Oncology Women Physician Group (HOWPG), a private Facebook group of more than 1,350 women working in hematology/oncology. It offers support in all oncologist situations, from problems with patients to difficulties with colleagues or employees, salary negotiations, work-life balance, job offers, and virtual tumor boards. A recent publication has shown that group members benefit from emotional support and are more satisfied with their professional development, which in turn reduces the risk of burnout.

Professional exchange across borders

Social media can not only help the oncologist emotionally but also offer valuable professional support. Therapy standards in oncology are changing rapidly, and there are numerous new developments all the time. Social media groups allow the oncologist to discuss individual cases with colleagues. This is particularly important in rural areas where fewer specialists are active. In the social media groups you can search for colleagues for a second opinion or experts for further treatment, e.g. "Does anyone know a lung cancer expert at the University of Michigan?" or "Does anyone know a melanoma specialist at Hopkins?" or "My patient would like a second opinion at MSKCC... can anyone give me a recommendation?".

Social media also allows you to get out of your "own bubble". You get to know new job opportunities that can be inspiring for your own career. "Virtual interactions can turn into concrete and interesting relationships that can sometimes lead to a job offer or a lecture."

Due to the increasing specialization in oncology, collaborations in research are often only possible over long distances. The exchange of information via the Internet facilitates this considerably.

So there are many reasons to get involved in social media and various studies have also proven the benefits. Nevertheless, risks must also be taken into account. Meisel recommended the following precautions:

  • Ensuring that privacy is maintained.
  • Real relationships must not be replaced by virtual relationships.
  • Social Media may not contribute further to the burnout, but must instead lower its risk.

Meisel JL. Creating connections and building community: Social media and physician quality of life. Educational Symposium" Tweets, chats, and posts: using social media to transcend boundaries and create opportunities for patients", 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting, Chicago, 31 May to 4 June 2019.

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LinkedIn Bios For Doctors | 

LinkedIn Bios For Doctors |  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Are you currently using Linkedln in your Private Practice? This Vlog is about LinkedIn Bios for Doctors.

If you’re not currently on LinkedIn, you should be. If you are, you might want to use these tips and step up a gear.

Why is LinkedIn important if you’re a Doctor in Private Practice?

There’s no doubt that LinkedIn has changed substantially over the last few years. It used to be a stuffy place, the kind of place you’d go looking for a job, but recently it’ s morphed, and if you’re not on Linkedln, you need to be.

Here are my top tips that will really help get you noticed on Linkedln.

Sort out you Bio photo.

When you sign up to LinkedIn, most Doctors fail to take a great opportunity to make a wonderful first impression. When you’re filling out your profile, it’s absolutely worth taking a few minutes to get this RIGHT. The first thing is, you need a decent photo -that’s professionally taken head shot, and not one from your mate’s wedding.

Next, resist leaving the standard blue background in place, because this is where you should be displaying your logo or branding (do this and you’ll instantly be much more memorable than your peers.

Write your LinkedIn ‘Headline’.

Underneath your name you have space for a few words in the area known as the ‘headline’. It’s 120 characters. Rather than just write ‘Joe Chopper, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, London’, think about using those precious characters to write about your niche and who you help. So, if you were Joe Chopper, you could might want to write ‘London Consultant Knee Surgeon. Helping professional footballer s with ACL to return to sport ‘.

Use the ‘Summary’ area to showcase how you can help people.

Next is the summary area – this where it often goes wrong. It’ s super tempting to put a cut and paste of CV in here. DON’T. You can put all that stuff in the ‘Experience’ section below.

You need to capitalise on your niche, your skills and how that can help patients. Because this can often look like a wall of text, you should break it up into little sections -you can do this by putting words in capitals.

For instance, you could write:

MEET JOE – Consultant Knee Surgeon based London. I am passionate about helping professional athletes with ACL injuries. I work with professional clubs such as blah blah blah.

Then you could have a section that speaks to the patient’s problem – Joe could use the words: ‘ACL RECONSTRUCTION’ as another subsection, followed by ‘many of the patients I see are struggling to know where they should or shouldn’t have surgery for their ACL, or feel unsure about how to choose their surgeon. Some have had tried the conservative route but are failing to return to being active. Sound familiar? I help many patients like yourself to make their right decision about surgery, and if surgery is the route we choose, I achieve excellent surgical outcomes. I’ve performed ‘X’ number of ACL reconstructions to date, and I work with premier league footballers.

Make sure it’s easy to contact you.

Next have a section about CONTACT:

E.g. ‘Contact me via email: or ring to make an appointment, telephone 007007007…’ etc.

The ‘My Expertise’ area. H3

Finally round off the summary section with ‘MY EXPERTISE. This is where you should summarise your awesomeness. It should be short and snappy, e.g. ‘Joe Chopper, expert in ACL reconstruction, consultant orthopaedic surgeon to professional footballers. 2012 Olympic Games Surgeon’ etc.

So, smarten up your LinkedlN bio, and then get used to sharing it.

Make your profile easy to share. H3

Don’t know how to share the URL for people to find you on Linkedln? Open up Linkedln on your phone or desktop, find the photo icon of yourself, then click ‘View Profile’.

On you profile page, click ‘Edit public profile and URL’, which will be on the right-hand side of the screen. You’ll then see an ‘Edit URL’ area – this will show you a URL address that starts with profile name. You can cut and paste this and use it anywhere online where you may want to make connections.

Get cracking!

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YouTube star Dr. Mike on technology's role in the future of medicine

Dubbed the "Sexiest Doctor Alive" by People Magazine, YouTube star and family medicine physician Dr. Mikhail Varshavski, better known as Dr. Mike, has taken to YouTube to dish out advice on health and debunk medical myths. 

One of his recent YouTube videos put telemedicine under a microscope. In particular, it zeroed in on a study published by the Journal of Pediatricswhich found children using telemedicine were prescribed antibiotics at a higher rate than if they visited a doctor in person. In the video, which has over 190,000 views, he urges telemedicine physicans be held accountable for over prescription of medications. 

This isn’t his only healthtech-focused video; he has also given his take on robots delivering medical news and the limits of technology in medicine. 

This week the YouTube-famous doctor is dipping his toes further into the digital lens as he participates in the LINK20&MIT program put on by the Ruderman Foundationaimed at giving social media influencers focused on health and inclusion a way to network and develop new strategies. The week-long program is hosted at MIT, and gives influencers courses on how to help grow their reach and advocacy efforts. 

MobiHealthNews asked Dr. Mike about his thoughts on telemedicine, social media’s role in health education, and the future of medicine. 

MobiHealthNews: I watched your video on telemedicine and I see you have a lot of concerns about the practice. I’m curious do you see a future for the technology? What do you think that future is?

Varshavski​: Telemedicine has a bright future within the healthcare space. My primary concern with the technology is that it may be misused for commercial purposes or overused as a means of cost-cutting. 

The future of the technology lies in increasing access to specialists, improved patient engagement, and at times decreasing costs. I do not believe in vilifying this emerging technology — instead, we should concentrate on being honest about its shortcomings and focus on utilizing its strengths. 

MobiHealthNews: You talked a lot about the patient and provider experience. Where do you see technology’s role in enhancing this relationship? Where do you see technology as a hindrance?

Varshavski: When technology increases access and decreases barriers to quality physician advice, I consider that a win. Telemedicine, when used appropriately, is a prime example of tech that can make that happen. On the flip side, I do worry about how electronic health records are distracting physicians from the human in the room with them. It is essential that in creating software, we make sure that it does not impede the interaction that is mandatory for a satisfactory visit. 

MobiHealthNews: As health tech progresses, are there any demographics that you see being left out?

Varshavski: I do feel that those over the age of 65 are at a disadvantage here because they did not grow up immersed in this type of technology. When a new health device comes to market, there is a slower rate of adoption for this demographic solely because of their lack of experience adopting new software/hardware. 

MobiHealthNews: You use YouTube as a platform to inform the public about health. What do you see as social media’s role in health education in the future?

Varshavski: I believe that with over three billion people logged onto social media and with it impacting everything from elections to business strategy, health professionals should be taking note. As a family medicine physician, I know that it is largely ineffective to preach health advice in an authoritarian fashion. If I can meet my patients where they are (SoMe) and educate them in an engaging, unique, perhaps even an entertaining way, then I can begin to make a tangible impact on their health.

MobiHealthNews: Are there any technologies coming down the pipeline (AI, VR etc…) that you think are promising? Are there any others that you think are concerning?

Varshavski: I believe AI will be leading the charge when it comes to the future of the healthcare tech industry.; and I don't mean the type of AI pictured in sci-fi novels where robots replace doctors. This form of AI will focus on data management and research. Within medicine, information is king, and currently, our records and record systems are ancient in comparison to other emerging technologies. Being able to harness the power of data aggregation and organization will allow for better clinical care for all of our patients. 

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Using social media to build support networks

Using social media to build support networks | Social Media and Healthcare |
While Facebook, Twitter and Instagram must combat posts that spread falsehoods about vaccinations, a growing body of evidence points to patients and clinicians wanting to use social media to build support systems.
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Not texting in healthcare? Here’s why you should

Not texting in healthcare? Here’s why you should | Social Media and Healthcare |

A perceived lack of communication is the primary reason for patient dissatisfaction, not a doctor’s qualifications, expertise or the diagnosis given. A study of 35,000 physician reviews posted online shows that 96 percent of complaints could be linked to poor communications or poor customer service by physicians or office staff.

We’ve all experienced the frustration often associated with contacting a physician: the phone tree of choices, the wait to speak to someone, the inevitable leaving of a message and hoping for a return phone call in a day (or two). So, it’s no wonder that younger patients, especially, are embracing newer forms of communication such as text and social media messaging.


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Physicians, practices and health systems, however, must tread carefully when communicating via text with patients. HIPAA prohibitions regarding the sharing of protected health information (PHI) apply, and compliance isn’t as simple as deleting communications from a phone.

Secure texting can be useful in many contexts, including communications between providers, between provider and patient and for educational purposes to help patients understand and manage their conditions. But successful adoption of any secure communications platform requires using a platform that’s HIPAA compliant, meets security and data storage standards, conforms to the workflows of practices and physicians, and obtains informed consent from the patients.

Questions over HIPAA data sharing
Healthcare organizations still struggle with implementation and compliance of the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), even after nearly 25 years of its adoption.

Organizations that don’t protect data diligently are subject to hefty fines from the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) charged with monitoring healthcare data protection. But as the tenets of value-based care take hold, healthcare organizations are complaining that data privacy and security rules are hurting their ability to share data with other providers who are jointly responsible for a patient’s care episode.

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Last fall, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) put out a request for information looking for ways to reduce potential HIPAA burdens that limit care coordination and case management among healthcare providers. The wide range of responses among healthcare organizations highlights the differences of opinion on this issue.

In written comments, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) sought clarification on access rights and ways to reduce barriers to healthcare data sharing.

AHIMA seeks a uniform health data set by merging HIPAA requirements and health IT certifications to include all clinical, biomedical and claims data held by covered entities and business associates. AMIA advocates for the timely sharing of data among patients and providers, noting a significant burden on timely access and the use of HIPAA to restrict data sharing, especially mental health data.

While the American Medical Association (AMA) generally supports care coordination efforts, it believes that patient privacy and confidentiality should remain central tenets of any proposed information sharing. The group reiterates the rights of patients to control their own data, noting that current regulations don’t prohibit data sharing for care coordination. Rather, certain healthcare entities restrict data sharing because they don’t understand the law.

HIPAA supports secure texting
When used in accordance with HIPAA regulations, texting can be an acceptable method of communication between patients and providers or among providers. But the same data security rules that apply to electronic medical record (EMR) systems and secure email also apply to texting.

Those rules include restricting access to authorized users, creating a unique identifier for each user, keeping messages in accordance with data retention policies, and using an audit trail to monitor disclosure. Additionally, if a patient agrees to the method of transportation the data should not need to be encrypted all the way to delivery.  No different than a phone call which can be overheard or intercepted.

Caregivers cannot just pick up their personal smartphones and communicate with patients without a secure texting solution. Security and privacy safeguards must be in place to ensure the communication is encrypted, meets HIPAA compliance standards, is retained as part of the medical record, and has been consented to by the patient.  The patient is not under such constraints.  The patient, so long as they are informed properly, may choose to consent to access their data in any way which is convenient for them.

Continued confusion over the two decade-old law has not stopped federal authorities from taking strong enforcement action. In 2018, HHS set a record for HIPAA fines, collecting $28.7 million from providers, insurers and business associates during the year. The year’s second-highest settlement involved unencrypted devices at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center, which cost the provider $4.3 million.

Ubiquitous smartphones promote texting culture
Younger generations have grown up with smartphones, treating them as extensions of themselves. Cell phone ownership in general is 95 percent, with smartphone ownership at 75 percent. However, smartphone ownership among Americans ages 18-49 tops 90 percent, dropping among older Americans.

Simple (SMS) text messages are opened 99 percent of the time, with nearly all getting opened within three minutes. So, it’s not surprising that younger patients are pushing practices to communicate in ways that patients prefer.

Although smartphones obviously have calling capabilities, many users prefer texts and social media to phone calls. They also are seeking more immediacy in their communications. The days of a physician calling patients back at the end of the day or the next day will soon pass into history, replaced by near-real time communication. But any communication between providers and patients must be conducted in a HIPAA-compliant manner if PHI is exchanged.

Emerging, secure communications platforms that include push notifications can help patients better understand and manage their diagnoses while retaining patient loyalty, both important considerations as value-based and collaborative care models transform healthcare delivery.

One study showed that patients recall only 40 percent of the information they receive in a medical setting. Even more unsettling is the fact that nearly half of what patients recall turned out to be erroneous. Push notifications, delivered in a compliant manner, can help with understanding.

Another study showed that only 27 percent of patients fully comply with their treatment regimens and that 40 percent believed they could do better if they received timely reminders and advice from their providers.

How to leverage secure texting
When exploring a secure communications platform that includes texting and social media, there’s more to consider than the technology. Practices may need to rethink workflows and job duties to fully leverage the communications platform.

As with any communications, care must be taken to ensure that patient identity and related information is correct before it is used. Staff education is critical, and policies should be in place so everyone understands both proper and improper uses of electronic communications. Patients must be properly informed about what and how electronic communications will be used, and patients should be able to easily opt in and opt out of communications.

Any technology should be as easy as possible for patients to use. Many practices have patient portals, but how many patients actually remember their passwords and can access health information or email their physicians without difficulty? Ideally, a practice’s system will be seamless to patients, with no apps or special logins required.

Practice managers and technologists should ensure that any secure communications platform includes an audit trail to monitor who sent what and when, with information encrypted while at rest and in transit. All correspondence should be collected as part of a patient’s health record, with the proper document retention policies enforced. The system should interface with the practice management system or EMR, and any vendor should be able to clearly outline the security and privacy protocols that have been baked into the software.

In the United States alone, 18 billion texts are sent every day, 32 for every person. Most texts are sent through Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, message services for iPhone or Android and others, underlining the importance of messaging in everyday life.

Medical practices must embrace texting as a way to communicate with increasingly tech-savvy patients using the methods they prefer. However, HIPAA regulations require all communications that exchange protected health information be encrypted and flow to a patient’s health record, so this means the providers must not use their personal SMS as a means of communicating with the patient.  The patient may choose to use SMS directly with their smartphone but must be informed and give consent.

A unified and secure communications platform can help providers stay compliant while enabling patients to exchange medical information through text or social media messaging, giving a level of caring and intimacy that other forms of communication can’t touch.

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Applying Marketing Essentials to Your Website and Social Media to Connect With Customers

Applying Marketing Essentials to Your Website and Social Media to Connect With Customers | Social Media and Healthcare |

Beth Comstock, former chief marketing officer of General Electric, said it perfectly: "Whether B2B or B2C, I believe passionately that good marketing essentials are the same. We all are emotional beings looking for relevance, context, and connection." Being able to connect with the outside world on an emotional or relevant level is a powerful tool. Dental professionals generally recognize the influence of good or great marketing but also acknowledge that this type of business building may not be their strong suit. This, in turn, can work as a catalyst for hiring a marketing expert to help bring in new business.

To maximize working with a specialist, the dentist must participate in the planning and execution of the resulting marketing efforts. By blindly following the lead of a marketer or consultant, you can end up with marketing approaches that don't connect with your audience. Even with their expertise, marketing specialists need the insight that only you, the dental professional, can give.

This is where many dentists and marketing consultants drop the ball. Emotional awareness and personalization are needed to distinguish your practice from the rest of the dental universe (who are all probably using the exact same type of marketing tools). Two basic but essential tools-a website and social media-can be utilized to make that personal connection to bring new customers to your door.

The Website: Opportunity to Stand Out

By now, every dentist who wants to stay in business should have a website. I'm not the first person to point out that the Internet is today's Yellow Pages. Most people search the Internet for all goods and services, and your dental office needs to be there to be found. If you don't have a website, getting one should be your priority.

Fortunately, websites do not have to be built from scratch. While custom-created websites can be quite costly, reputable website companies such as PBHS ( and ProSites® ( also can supply a dental practice with a predesigned website, allowing it to be up and running quickly. Dentists typically like this option, because websites generated this way can be cost-effective, look great, read well, and require minimal effort. However, the downside of putting in minimal effort is getting minimal return on your marketing investment. If you want your website to be a successful marketing tool for capturing business, consider the following:

Unique content: Having the same content as every other dental practice that bought the same website package is detrimental to your marketing efforts. You need unique content on your website to improve your visibility and your chances of capturing online traffic. Keep in mind that most potential patients won't be navigating directly to your site; instead they will be searching for a dentist by entering certain criteria or key phrases into a search engine. You want to be one of the first websites to populate for that criterion or phrase. The content on your website determines how the search engine ranks your site. If your content is exactly the same as most other dental practices, rising to the top of the search list will be impossible.

Having your own content gives you individualism, a tone, a persona. You don't have to rewrite your whole templated website to achieve this effect, but adding elements that display some personality, warmth, and relatability will help. The content should especially appeal to the types of patients you envision treating. For example, if you're proud to have served this country in the military and you want to help veterans in need of dental care, let it be known. Also, highlight any awards, honors, or other professional recognition you've received.

Your image: The appearance of the website should reflect the practice. Visitors should be able to get a "sneak peak" into what their patient experience would be like. Many prefabricated websites come with stock images and cool flash animation, but consumers would much rather see the reality of your office than slick impersonal imagery. Having actual images of the dentist(s), patients, staff, and office on the website provides context and a connection. It also allows prospective patients to gain a sense of trust and confidence. The more potential patients can learn about the practice, the safer they will feel and the more likely they will be to take a chance with your services.

Emotional impact: The website conveys information about the practice through both its content and visual appeal. The colors, page layout, and fonts used on a website have an emotional effect on its viewers. This type of influence is powerful and persuasive and should be used to the practice's advantage. For example, for people who tend to be fearful of the dentist, those fears could be offset with a sense of calmness and safety before they even arrive at the front door through the use of the right colors, elements, and fonts. The look of the website should create a positive emotional response. Too much visual clutter might cause the viewer to feel overwhelmed, while intense colors might instill feelings of stress. Thoughtful design can help the practice connect with a new patient on an emotional level without him or her even being aware of it.

The Post: Be Socially Engaging

Social media is seemingly ubiquitous. For a dental practice this amounts to free airtime. Dentists can take advantage of social media by being active on platforms that prospective customers might be using, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This can be a great asset, but only if it is done effectively.

What to post: Social media is used to keep a community connected to an establishment or person. Great postings are those that are relevant, engaging, and help people feel informed or included. Examples of ways to do this are sharing something bragworthy about a patient (with their approval), promoting patient contests, or announcing that the dentist or practice has been honored or recognized. Posts can announce when someone has, for example, won an iPad® in an office contest; include photos for extra excitement. It's best when you can get your patients to share your posts on their social media pages. You can encourage this by making your posts relevant and enjoyable for them.

Another great way to have people share your posts is through education or promotions. Keeping patients informed about specials, new products, and/or treatment raises their awareness of what your practice can do for them. This can also drive new business.

How and when to post: While starting accounts on Facebook and other platforms is easy to do, maintaining a regular stream of quality posts makes managing social media challenging. Posts should be made consistently by a designated team member or company to keep followers and onlookers engaged. If need be, companies such as Smile Savvy® ( can assist with the task of posting.

"Regular" and "consistent" posting does not mean "constant" posting. Posting too much is like sending too many unsolicited emails; at some point the recipient just stops looking. The frequency of posts should be determined by the content of the posts. For example, if the dental practice is in the midst of a contest countdown, then a daily post is appropriate. Otherwise, posting every 2 weeks, monthly, or bimonthly should suffice.

Whoever is doing the posting, whether a staff member or outside company, should consult the dentist on what he or she wants posted. As with the website, having the dentist interject some personality helps the social media posts connect with their intended audience. The content should be tailored to the people the dentist expects to read it. If, for example, most of the practice's followers are parents of pediatric patients the information should relate to them.

Marketing a dental practice online isn't necessarily difficult, but it is time consuming. While bringing in outside help can be beneficial, the best results will come when the dentist contributes to the marketing plan and conversation. Though marketing tactics may change over time, the need for relevance, context, and connection never will.

About the Author

Tanya Gold, RDH
Owner, Dental Hand for Hire, Calabasas,
California (, which specializes
in public relations, practice enhancement, and
 communication strategies

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