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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3 Ways Social Media Can Improve Healthcare Marketing Efforts

3 Ways Social Media Can Improve Healthcare Marketing Efforts | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is in its prime. According to a 2018 report by Adobe Digital Insights, Social media is the most relevant advertising channel for 50% of Gen Z and 42% of millennials. The significance of this statistic cannot be underestimated. 

For the healthcare industry in particular, social media can help engage patients, providers, and the public with relevant and timely information, as well as communicate the value and credibility of the health system.

Findings from the 2018 Sprout Social Index found that posts with links to more information are the most preferred type of content on social media. In addition, 30% of consumers said that this is the kind of content they’d like to see most from brands on social. 18% preferred graphics and images, while 17% would like to see produced video.

The wide variety of content that can be distributed via social media – from images and video to mixed-media blog posts, polls, and infographics – is a great way for healthcare brands to begin to capitalize on their mission and engage with patients through captivating, often emotionally-charged subject matter. 

When executed correctly, social media campaigns are incredibly powerful. Of course, proper targeting and optimization is necessary to begin to map out your strategy. This planning is best executed with a healthcare CRM or other database in place to gauge your market opportunities. 

If your organization has not yet begun to capitalize on this marketing tactic, it’s time to reevaluate your strategy:
Why is Social Media Becoming a Critical Component of Healthcare Marketing Strategy?

recent study by PwC found that 42% of individuals viewing health information on social media look at health-related consumer reviews prior to reaching out, proving that positive feedback – even that provided by strangers – is a powerful means to building trust. The same report also found that 32% of US users post about their friends’ and family’s healthcare experiences on social media. 

According to another report by PewResearch, 80% of social media users are specifically looking for health information, and nearly half of those are searching for information about a specific doctor or health professional.

If the statistics alone don’t demonstrate the value of social media for healthcare, then the opportunity to engage one-on-one with patients and providers should. As has been proven many times, individualization is key to modern marketing tactics. Social media provides an excellent opportunity for healthcare organizations to increase patient referrals and improve the overall quality of care – therefore, it’s no surprise that many health systems are jumping on the social media bandwagon. 

Let’s take a look at three ways social media can improve overall healthcare marketing efforts:

1. Engage with Patients in Real-Time

One of the benefits of social media marketing in healthcare is enabling deeper and more meaningful discussions that address patient questions, concerns, and interests in real-time.

The question is: How can healthcare marketers effectively use social media to communicate and engage with existing patients?

Health systems can facilitate patient empowerment by enabling and engaging in patient forums and research networks online. For example, PatientsLikeMe allows patients to manage their own health conditions by discussing treatments with patients who have similar conditions. Hospitals and other health networks can develop their own platforms that allow patients to share their experiences and receive support from similar individuals.

Along with forums, health systems can use social networking pages to encourage patient discussions. For example, Children’s Mercy uses their Facebook page as way to showcase their reputation as a renowned care center. “Locally, Children’s Mercy wants parents to know their kids are in good hands. Social is a good way to share news and feature CMH doctors and patients,” according to PR Director Jake Jacobson.

What Social Media Tactics Best Promote Patient Engagement?

This video promotes Children’s Mercy’s Research Institute and, in particular, their cystic fibrosis research program. Posts such as these encourage members of the community to support the hospital’s research efforts while also raising awareness around disease and treatment – especially for lesser-known conditions. 

According to the Journal of Health Management, “When patients tell their stories, their friends see that and the likelihood of spreading the message increases many-fold.” A video like this one tells a story that community members can easily relate to, creating a positive, trust-enforcing image for Children’s Mercy. 

To successfully engage patients on social media forums or networking sites, organizations must regularly monitor these platforms to respond to patients in a timely manner, as well as ensure a variety of fresh, engaging content is uploaded regularly to keep patients interested and engaged.

2. Facilitate Physician Collaboration

Healthcare marketers can also use social media channels to encourage physician alignment and collaboration. Texas Health, a network of 25 hospitals that employs 5,500 physicians, created an enterprise social network to help physicians communicate and work with one another in overcoming challenges posed by the work environment, such as EHR requirements.

As a result of this networking initiative, the health system saw improved physician collaboration, in addition to a shorter learning period and greater acceptance of using social media tools.

Why Should Healthcare Marketers be Concerned with Improving Physician Alignment and Collaboration?

Social media is an easy way for physicians to find and connect with other health professionals, even those outside of their own health system or hospital. Physicians can also share their knowledge or research to benefit other providers and even communicate with colleagues about patient issues. 

According to Master of Health Administration, 88% of physicians use the Internet and social media to research pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical devices. Social media helps doctors stay up to date in the rapidly-changing healthcare environment – not only about patients themselves, but about new research and technology that can better facilitate care.  

Overall, these practices improve physicians’ knowledge and willingness to work as a team. The more informed and educated a health system’s physicians are, the happier patients will be with their experience and the quality of care provided. 

Ultimately, healthcare marketers should strive to provide patients with better experiences in order to foster loyalty, retention, and positive word-of-mouth referrals. Improving physician engagement and alignment via network-driven social media networks is one way to do so.


3. Support Population & Preventative Health Initiatives

Since many social media sites are public communication platforms that can reach a wide breadth of individuals, healthcare organizations can use this marketing tactic to support broader population health and preventative health initiatives.

One way to do this is to communicate educational information about health events and crises. Lee Aase of Mayo Clinic and Shannon Dosemagen of Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, say “organizations can use social media to distribute time-sensitive health information, promote information sharing to encourage behavioral changes (including corrective changes during potential health crises), be a platform for conversation between agencies and constituents (rather than just as an information provider), and allow the public to provide useful information and feedback.”


If you're spending time outdoors in the brush, you're also at higher risk of brushing up against a poisonous plant. Exposure to plants like #poisonivy can cause an itchy rash that lasts for weeks. So how do you treat it? 

See MayoChildren'sCenter's other Tweets


Healthcare organizations can also use social media as a platform to distribute information about common health conditions, diseases, and other public health issues in the hopes of preventing these occurrences.

As John Weston, CMO of Mayo Clinic notes, “We leverage the rich content we have to provide consumers with information about diseases and conditions, even when it is likely they may never become a patient. We view this as part of our moral responsibility—to share our knowledge and expertise to benefit others.”

Key Takeaways

Though social media does provide the opportunity for healthcare organizations to reach large consumer and patient populations, marketers need to be mindful of maintaining HIPAA compliance and other privacy regulations on these public platforms. Providers can maintain the trust of patient-provider relationships by staying far away from personal patient information and establishing a professional presence. 

Keeping this in mind, social media marketing in healthcare has the potential to improve patient engagement, drive physician alignment, and foster a healthier society overall. Campaigns that are executed with strategic, targeted goals and that align with a multi-channel marketing strategy will see the most success. 

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6 Most Powerful Dental Social Media Campaigns You Are Missing!

6 Most Powerful Dental Social Media Campaigns You Are Missing! | Social Media and Healthcare |

As part of your dental marketing campaigns, dental social media campaigns are usually overlooked. The value of social proof and providing great content is a vital part of your marketing campaigns. The essence of dental social media campaigns is to build a relationship between you and your patients while attracting new patients through your content and engagements.

We are living in a time where your audience is constantly on their phones. Either on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or even reading an article that they received from a family or friend.

In this article, you will learn how to highly attract, retain and eventually market to your target audience through proven dental social media campaigns.



1) User-Generated Content

92 Percent of consumers around the world say they trust recommendations from family and friends, above all other forms of advertising. Visiting the dentist could be daunting. Especially if they had a bad experience or have not been in a long time.

User-generated content will erase these daunting feelings. When you upload happy patients photo’s that they took and tagged you on their Facebook post or mentioning their experience your dental practice provided. Consistently posting user-generated content will attract new patients. It will show that your dental practice is fun and undaunting.

Video testimonials are also another great piece of content that will highly convert and attract new patients. Videos trigger emotion and once you have connected emotionally with your audience, the next step for them will be to simply book an appointment with your dental practice. People prefer to watch a video rather than reading about a service or product. They also love to share it.

So for your next dental social media campaign, invest and create user-generated content and video testimonials. Post them on your Facebook page daily. Also, have a page on your website for testimonials and drive traffic towards it through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.


2) Influence Marketing

As social media becomes a more integrated part of our lives, influence marketing has exploded. As soon as we go on to any of our social platforms, we can not miss a single post from any of the thousands of influencers out there. 70 Percent of teens trust influencers more than their friends and when it comes to influencer marketing. Over half of women made purchases due to influencer posts with Facebook and Instagram being the preferred platforms.

To make your dental practice unique and stand out from the crowd, consider using an influencer for your dental social media campaign.
Choosing the right influencer for your practice will target your audience and by gathering local influencers to help spread your message. Contacting them and proposing a formal compensation.

Then supply them with the specific content or a message to share with their network in a fixed way, frequency and time frame. Focus on what makes your practice special and be sure to consider the right tone and message for sharing with their network. They can make content for your Facebook page, mention your dental practice and the great service you provide on their blog post or YouTube video.

For example, Invisalign UK has teamed up with several TV and sports personalities as well as social influencers, beauty bloggers and vloggers in order to promote the system. Offering free of charge teeth whitening or even a discount on a key treatment, for example, can enable you to promote via a social influencer.



3) Competitions and Giveaways

The way to get more patients and get your dental practice out there, constructing a highly engaging dental social media campaign is necessary. To acquire that, running social media competitions or giveaways is the best form of engagement. This excites and engages your existing patients also your potential patients.
This competition could be tailored to your own needs and will get your patients to interact with your dental social media and also create a bond with your dental practice.

There are many competitions you could run on your dental social media. For example, the best smile photo after an appointment, video on brushing teeth and randomly choose a winner. As an added bonus for running a competition or giveaway, you will receive awesome user-generated content. The importance of user-generated content is mentioned above.

The photos, videos, and creative media you receive with the entries can be transformed into content to be shared across your social media channels. Think of it as killing two birds with one stone. You get valuable leads and user-generated content, and they get to win an awesome prize. It’s a win-win situation 

Creating a challenge is also a great piece of content for your dental social media campaign, this could be brushing your teeth twice a day for a week, flossing daily ( not the dance, rather the dental floss stick which removes plaque and excess food particles that you may not see in the mirror or in areas that your toothbrush doesn’t reach.) no sweets or fizzy drinks.
Inviting someone or accepting the challenge, then posting these photos or videos on to your social media platforms will definitely engage and make your dental practice go viral.


4) Facebook Live

To effectively market your dental practice, you need to be where your patients are, which is on social media.

A strategy for your next dental social media campaign could be live stream. Facebook Live is one of the most popular ways to stream live content. Followed by other platforms such as Instagram, and YouTube.

You can use live streaming to update followers on news as it happens, tips on dental care, Q and A’s, a practice tour, review a dental care product, conduct giveaways and contests, interview guests and influencer’s, or simply make followers feel personally connected to your dental practice.

By setting a day and time to start your live streams, your followers will have something to look forward to and before you go on with your live streams, build hype around it.

You can also merge with another dental practice and join a live stream together, this will give you both to discuss important topics, tips or even go the extra mile to give free checkups. This will make more of your followers join your live steams.
People feel more connected when you acknowledge them. Call your patients or followers by name and answer their questions when you are live.

Once your live stream is complete, the video will post on to your dental Facebook page just like your regular videos. This means that your followers can continue to engage with your video and ask questions even after the live stream is completed.

You can also boost your video with ads. And here is the main fun part, your followers can SHARE your video eventually making it go viral.
It’s an easy, fun way to get your team involved in your social media efforts and create shareable video content that helps new patients find you.


5) Infographs

An infographic is 30 times more likely to be read than a purely textual article. Many people pay close attention to information with images. In fact, when the images are relevant, readers spend more time looking at the images rather than they do reading text on the page.

Creating inforgraphs and educational dental content embedded with your dental practice logo and information, which is shareable for your dental social media campaign is a must as this will engage and retain your patients and attract new patients.

An example of this is the dental practice called Cheadle Village, as they have taken advantage of this dental social media campaign by creating infographics on top tips for dental health.


6) Instagram

Is your dental practice taking advantage of Instagram? Here is how to create your dental Instagram account.

Instagram is the leading social media platform where there are many benefits for your dental social media campaign. The majority of your young audience hang around on Instagram so to capture them there through your live streams, behind the scenes, before and after photos of patients, award events or charity events is the best place.

Some good topics to share include:

  • Oral health tips and product recommendations
  • Trending topics from major dental organisations
  • Feedbacks from your patients
  • Profiles of the dental professionals in your office
  • Posts that encourage patients to join the conversation, like a poll or an online contest.

The key to developing an engaging online presence is creating a balance of posts. For example, 30 percent of your posts can be original content that you create, 60 percent can be shared from other sources such as patients generated content and 10 percent might directly promote your practice.

An inspiration Instagram account to follow is by Dr. Toscano. With over 190k followers, what makes this page interesting is the type of content that’s posted. Dr. Toscano posts images of celebrity patients, dramatic before and after shots, and personal bits about himself. Another great account is DR RHONA ESKANDER, @DRRHONAESKANDER with over 36k followers on her page



The main focus of your dental social media campaign is creating and building a relationship. By implementing these strategies with a creative attitude and a few goals in mind, you can use these powerful marketing campaigns for your dental practice to help you engage, inspire and educate current and future patients.

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4 ways to counteract medical misinformation

4 ways to counteract medical misinformation | Social Media and Healthcare |

The recent spate of measles outbreaks in the U.S., the highest since 1994, might be the most evident example of the growing virulence of medical misinformation. It’s a call to action for the medical community—from clinical and research physicians to educators and regulators—to clarify proven science and distinguish it from conspiracy theories. Two physician experts identify steps to take and explain how to coordinate them between public health’s many stakeholders.

The AMA Code of Medical Ethics provides additional guidance on being a public personality, including opinion 8.12, “Ethical Physician Conduct in the Media,” to help doctors fulfill their ethical obligations to patients, the public and the medical profession, as well as understand how their conduct can affect their colleagues and institutions.

Viewpoint essay published in JAMA features analysis by Paul W. Armstrong, MD, of the Canadian VIGOUR Centre and the Division of Cardiology at University of Alberta, and David Naylor, MD, PhD, of the medicine department at University of Toronto. They outlined the roles that members of the health care, education and journalism communities can play in exposing, debunking and preventing medical misinformation.

Quackery is not a new phenomenon, of course, but it has gained unprecedented amplitude in recent years through digital media, the authors noted. Self-proclaimed experts, Twitter-savvy celebrities and digital scammers all have direct lines to the public, often with no editorial oversight.

“Nearly anyone can say almost anything and be taken seriously at least by some consumers,” the authors wrote. “With billions of individuals online every day, health misinformation can spread at a rapid pace. Worse, exciting falsehoods apparently spread faster than boring truths on social media.”

Research isn’t enough

Medical journals are in a unique position to solicit and publish research on medical misinformation and coordinate topics to focus the public’s attention and inform medical education, yet counteracting false claims requires an across-the-board response, Drs. Armstrong and Naylor wrote.

They noted four steps, below, that should be taken and how different health care and societal stakeholders can pitch in.

Limit dissemination. Medical journals are not the only agents responsible for preventing bad information from taking root in public discourse. Physicians also can identify the purveyors of misinformation, while regulators and social media executives can limit the extent to which these sources can get their messages out. Editors across traditional and new media, meanwhile, can help by not legitimizing falsehoods in the name of balanced reporting.

Create immunity through science literacy. The work of medical journals can be complemented by primary and secondary school educators’ teaching students the scientific method—including why and how it works—as well as critical-thinking skills. Likewise, colleges and universities can work to ensure every graduate is versed in common cognitive errors and logical fallacies regarding qualitative and quantitative data.

Inoculate and educate. Physicians, faculty and health care organizations, along with public health agencies and communications experts, can all promote a general understanding of medical science and use their media outlets to lay bare common misconceptions.

Debunk myths and discredit purveyors. Here too, the larger journalism community, health professionals and medical researchers can provide direct rebuttals and cite the provenance of misinformation, revealing purveyors’ credentials, or lack thereof, and pulling back the curtain on conflicts of interest.

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Can Social Media Exposure Affect a Child's Mental Health?

Can Social Media Exposure Affect a Child's Mental Health? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Parentology, an online website designed for parenting in the digital age, recently interviewed Rebecca Hedrick, MD, a psychiatrist at Cedars-Sinai in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurosciences, about how social media can affect children's mental health.

The article cited several studies, including one from JAMA Pediatrics that showed children who have a lot of screen time when they are two can experience developmental problems--affecting motor coordination, communication skills and problem-solving ability--by the time they are five years old.

Hedrick told Parentology that she advises parents that young children shouldn’t have access to social media.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under two, except for video chat. Studies show screen time causes hyperactivity and attention deficit issues. For kids between the ages of two and five the academy recommends one hour a day of high-quality programming.

“This is an important time of development and kids need to learn how to self soothe,” instead of being lulled by a computer game, Hedrick told Parentology. “The inability to self-regulate their emotions can make them susceptible to depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorder when they get older.”

Hedrick added that for preschoolers, “screen time should be supervised. There should be face-to-face interaction with someone else, not just the screen.”

But what about those children who freak out when the screen is taken away? Hedrick says it’s an important that parents stand their ground and not give in. 

“They need to learn a temper tantrum is not the way to get what one wants,” Hedrick advises. “Giving in teaches them the only way to self-soothe is through the screen.” Instead, she says, “parents should teach children how to handle strong emotions and come up with other activities to manage their boredom.”

Click here to read the story from Parentology.

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How to Respond to Negative Patient Reviews Online

How to Respond to Negative Patient Reviews Online | Social Media and Healthcare |

It’s most medical practice owners worst nightmare! That dreaded negative review from a patient that shows up on Google and sticks out like a sore thumb. Ouch!

What do you do when you get a negative patient online review? Here are some guidelines for responding to negative reviews in a way that attracts new patients.

What To Do When You Get A Negative Patient Review

Imagine, it’s Monday morning, you’ve had a relaxing weekend with the family and you walk into your office and log on to see an email from a happy patient. It says they noticed an out of control negative review on Google, just thought you’d want to know.

You check it out only to find a bunch of over the top complaints from a patient who was clearly frustrated and maybe even wrote the review too late at night. And your blood starts to boil. This is when you need to avoid responding and keep the following 3 things in mind.

Before Responding to Patient Reviews Remember…

  1. 93.5% of patient complaints are a result of a miscommunication. Given you work with patients who are already under duress, the chances that they didn’t absorb everything you told them or that they may have forgotten to mention something to you is high. Miscommunication happens all the time. The key is to determine what the misunderstanding was and eliminate the communication gap.
  2. Don’t take complaints personally. Think of them as helpful red flags to remind you to improve your communication systems. Just because you told a patient to do XYZ, doesn’t mean they understood. See if getting patients to explain their patient care instructions back improves compliance and reduces patient problems.
  3. When you respond to a patient, don’t get defensive or mad. That’s not going to win the patient back or help you attract more patients. Much less, when practices allow emotions to take hold when responding to reviews, positive or negative, it’s common to disclose patient information and violate HIPAA.

When responding to patient reviews, follow these guidelines

What’s the right way to respond to online reviews? Once you’ve taken a deep breath, waited at least 5-6 hours, it’s time to formulate a considered response.

  • Don’t ignore negative patient reviews. Given that over 72% of people say bad reviews would prevent them from visiting a physician, a negative review or two is a big deal. Think of them as opportunities to turn an unhappy patient into a happy one. Think of them as a wake-up call to review and improve the patient experience.
  • Put the review in perspective. 95% of the time when you get a bad patient review you should take it seriously. But on occasion, you’ll see ones that have nothing to do with the patient experience and are just all out personal attacks on a physician in your office. We’ve even seen a competitor use online reviews to attack and malign another local practice using words like Satan and the Devil and worse, despite a restraining order. If this happens to you, realize the offending person is unhinged and you need to get your lawyer involved.
  • Don’t respond when you’re sleep deprived. Calling or writing an email back when you’re tired, sleep deprived or before you’ve had your morning cup of coffee to get all your neurons rarely goes well. Only respond when you’ve fully functioning, awake and have all the facts in front of you.
  • Ask yourself the tough questions. Ask yourself and your team:
    • Was there a miscommunication?
    • Is this an isolated complaint or one that’s part of a pattern?
    • What could have prevented it?
    • What changes, if any, should you make?
  • Review the patient experience. Did you provide the ultimate patient experience?
    • Top front desk staff schedule 80% of patients that call. Others only 30%. What’s the call to appointment ratio for your front desk staff? Are they making it easy to schedule an appointment?
    • Some medical office staff are welcoming, others treat patients as a necessary annoyance. How do your staff members treat patients? Are they friendly and professional?
    • Most medical offices think nothing of making busy patients wait for a half hour, but the reality is this annoys the heck out of most people. What’s the average wait time in your office?
    • A common perception is that physicians suffer from a god complex, which may work for their ego, but doesn’t go over well with patients who like doctors who demonstrate empathy. How would you rate the patient focus of your physicians?
    • More and more physicians feel pressure to see more and more patients each day, which makes them feel rushed, and the patient feels it too. Did the physician or provider have enough time to address the patient’s concerns?
  • Right a perceived wrong. We don’t pretend to understand the psychology behind this. But we know for a fact that if you help right a perceived wrong, the patient will be an even bigger fan of your practice than those patients who were happy with the patient experience to start with. Your willingness to try to fix things will also impress other prospective patients. After all, most patients know that it’s impossible to make everyone happy. The fact that you care, though, matters.
  • Respond in private. Assume anything you write online or in an email is going to be seen by every existing and potential patient. Only use email to politely encourage the person to call your practice so you can resolve the situation over the phone.
  • Respond with a phone call. Instead of hitting the reply button on Yelp or Google, start by calling the patient directly, if possible. A negative online review is essentially a signal from the patient saying, call me.
    When you get the patient on the phone, acknowledge their concerns and ask a redirect question to get the patient to refocus on their goals. 95% of the time the solutions is an easy one and the previously unhappy patient will be thanking you by the end of the call.
  • Never divulge any patient information, ever! It may be tempting to fire back a response to a review, but at best it makes you look like a whiner too, or at worst you be in violation of HIPAA and lose your license to practice.
  • Be empathetic. More often than not, a negative patient review is the result of the patient feeling powerless, or they perceive a loss of control. Some of this may have to do with what happened when they visited your practice, but their off-the-charts complaint most likely has to do with one or more other things going on in their life.
  • Look at the situation from their side and understand why they complained, what you could have done differently and most importantly take the time to ask them about their situation.
  • Avoid being defensive. When a patient says you’re dumber than pond scum, it can be tempting to respond in kind. Not a good idea. The best way to redirect the conversation, take control and resolve the patient’s concern is to have a list of questions handy. Questions like:
    Can you tell me what’s going on?


    • What’s the primary health problem you’re concerned about?
    • What’s the primary health goal you’d like help with?
    • Can you walk me through your visit to our practice so I can understand the situation?
    • If you could wave a magic wand, what would have happened during your recent patient visit?
  • Don’t say you’re sorry or apologize. Whether the patient is claiming malpractice or has a minor complaint, avoid a blanket apology. You could be setting yourself up for a lawsuit.
  • Avoid excuses. There is nothing more aggravating than voicing a concern and hearing, “That’s our standard procedure.” Excuses like this only serve to give you a wall to hide behind. Instead realize that your policies and procedures were written by a person, and are there to serve as guidelines. They can be modified if they don’t help you deliver top patient care. Understand, that what the patient wants to know is how you can help, not how you can’t

If a mistake was made, acknowledge it, then focus on the solution. Everybody makes mistakes. The best thing to do if you or your staff made one is to just say that, “Whoops, we made a mistake. Thank you for letting us know.” Then explain how you’re going to avoid making it in the future and how you are going to resolve the patient’s concern.

  • Let them know what’s changed. If you’ve changed anything that would impact on the patient experience, let them know. Whether it’s access to an elevator, simpler check-in system, or easier eye test procedure – tell the patient.
  • Don’t ask them to remove their review. Asking or threatening them is not only a bad idea but can result in a $500 fine to your practice or worse. Focus instead on understanding and resolving their complaint and making them into a delighted patient. Do that and more often than not, they’ll not only remove the negative review but replace it with a positive one.
  • Do thank them for their comments. No matter how bad a review is, or even if it seems totally off the wall, it’s a flag to let you know what can go amiss. Thank the reviewer and where possible take action to improve your systems to reduce negative feedback.
  • Ask more patients to provide reviews. The best way to help potential patients put one negative review in perspective is to have 100s of positive reviews next to it. If you see the average of 18 patients a day, or over 2,000 patients a year, using Online Review Builder you could get 500 reviews each year.
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Social Media as a Healthcare Provider: 4 Guidelines for Successful Outcomes –

Social Media as a Healthcare Provider: 4 Guidelines for Successful Outcomes – | Social Media and Healthcare |

Increasingly, social marketing methods are essentialfor your business and clinical growth. Social media provides an unparalleled ability to connect with colleagues and the community of people interested in seeing, collaborating, or consulting with you. As student providers, we’re in a transitionary period where despite not knowing exactly what our future plans are, our promotion efforts can make huge differences in our successes later. Right now, what we understand is the basics of patient care, and the easiest way to get started in social media networking is to treat your following as a patient, and follow the “standard of care” for the social media treatment.


(or, be as invested in your community as they are in you.) 

Social media, despite easily being one of the most powerful tools in networking, has one flaw. The ease in which we post, filtered, in a “one-to-many” conversational style has made it easy for each of us to project an image as we want others to see. The filters on our snaps, edits on our photos, tweaked captions, and archives of “unsuccessful” content have created a situation where the focus can easily shift from human-to-human interactions but to developing a superficial image. Those who are unable to recognize this shift occurring are those who will struggle in the social media game. Your value exists only in your community engagement, the way in which your social circle interacts, and your posts, pictures, videos, and content is just a mechanism for that engagement to occur. Networking is most essentially a social transaction, for both you and your following to benefit – both must give and receive simultaneously. If you take only one thing from this article, the key to successful community building is in providing value to the audience you have cultivated in your content and your interactions with them.


(or, know what your goal is)

There are countless reasons you want to start your networking game now… amongst the most common in the dental community include: 

  • Visibility and New Patient Exposures
  • Building Credibility and Reputation
  • Building Patient Relationships
  • Professional Networking / Job Hunting
  • Product Promotion

You need to know what your end goal is, even though you may not fully know your full career plan may be at this point. Each of these goals dictate your strategies for your community engagement and posting strategies. For those looking towards a more “relationship” focused goal, your content should be well-developed, and immersive. This kind of content is more conversational, more thorough, and provides multiple venues for your community to interact. Strong relationships with your social media community are reflected in the quality of your communications, and with social media, many of these interactions are taking place publicly. For those looking more towards a “sales” or “action” focused goal, conversely should aim to have a more frequent posting schedule, with focus applied more on building a funnel for your community to interact with.  This content provides a more singular, and direct point at which you want your community to interact with your content. 


(or, know your niche)

The social media game is flooded with generalists – thousands of accounts leftovers from before our professional life, with photos of pumpkin spice lattes next to textbooks, outfits of the day, and memes, a road that has and will have many others taking it. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it’s like the 210 freeway at rush hour, a safe option for a slow path to your destination, but you are literally surrounded by those doing the exact same thing. For those who are more interested in a fast-paced, explosive rate of community growth, you need to be more like trailblazers. Do something that hasn’t been done before, or do something better. For people who haven’t seen my accounts, I started recording time lapses of my clinical procedures and setting it to music and titles with Adobe After Effects. After adding this content to my account, I was hit with several reposts from the California Dental Association and other larger accounts, which helped ignite my own community growth. Finding your own niche should leverage whatever your strengths are, and showcase them as a means to connect with your community.


(or, don’t fall into the traps your peers did)

Social media, like medicine in general, is flooded with countless articles, tools, and services, that exist solely to further a goal that doesn’t help yours or your patients. The single most advertised and questioned topic is the use of automation in social media.These tools do things like automatically liking posts, commenting on photos, or even replying with generic responses to messages. Remember, for you to build a connected and engaged audience, you need to be connected and engaged– these tools automate the connecting and engaging, and thusly cheapens your interactions with your following.It’s a simple equation, that I think many people forget this when the overall goal is increasing likes, comments and follows. Social media is unique in that for how close it can bring people together, the indirect nature of communicating via a website or app will inherently keep a barrier between people. Your job in managing your community is to minimize the barrier this limitation poses, and to do so, you need to interact as directly as possible with followers to allow them to better connect with you. The cheapening of your interactions reduces the value of your community, and at best, adds to the noise, and at worst, polarizes those who are actually engaged.


Ultimately, your community has value solely because of your engagement with it. Both you and your patient have an end goal, and it’s your job to know what this is, and use the methods and tools you are empowered with to provide the best care you can to your community. As time moves forward, your evidence-based foundations will give you the best foundations to blaze your own path forward in uncharted territories. 

This post was previously published as an article in the Western University of Health Sciences ASDA Newsletter: On the Cusp. (Volume 3, Issue 1). It has been modified to reflect my current views, and to correct for changes to Instagram in 2019. (

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The risk physicians take when going on social media

The risk physicians take when going on social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

I am at a conference that is encouraging physicians to engage in social media. This is something I was always a proponent of. I felt strongly that as physicians, we help set the tone of accurate medical information. Especially now in this age of disinformation and “alternative facts,” our voices are crucial.

I used to be an active Twitter user. I had 21,000 followers and was verified — with a blue checkmark next to my handle telling the whole internet so. On January 2, 2019, I posted a link to an op-ed from the New York Times entitled “The Special Misogyny Reserved for Mothers.” I was particularly struck by the fact that many women live with dyspareunia (painful sex) after giving birth. We can do something about this, but women don’t tell us about it. As a family medicine physician, I ask my patients about their sexual functioning as I see it as a barometer of their overall health. I put up a tweet with the link to the article and said that we talk about men’s sexual dysfunction but not women’s. It seemed straightforward.


Little did I know that there is a group, comprised of mostly men, called “intactivists” who are against male infant circumcision. They are upset that they were circumcised as infants and have weaponized the internet on a worldwide scale. These “intactivists” are the ones who decided to latch onto and comment on this Twitter thread — a thread about women. I was, of course, confused. This was not about them.

“Intactivists” hold the false narrative that male circumcision is genital mutilation — trying to equate it to female genital mutilation (FGM), an argument that, medically, I will not agree with. I stopped doing obstetrics over a decade ago, but when I did infant circumcisions, we did consent them as a cosmetic procedure. Male circumcision, however, has medical benefits (lower infection risk, lower transmission of HPV and HIV). The same cannot be said of FGM.


One of the “intactivists” claimed they were “psychologically damaged” from their infant circumcision. So on Twitter, I stated: On behalf of all women I apologize for your “psychological damage” please get the help you need. This apparently inflamed the mob. Someone from a state that I do not live in took a screenshot of the tweet, sent it to my state board of medicine with a “complaint” that I was “publicly shaming victims of genital mutilation.”


The rules around social media are quite simple — no personal health information, a rule which I have never violated. Some physicians stick to strictly medical topics on social media; others will dip their toe into other arenas. Regardless, we are supposed to have First Amendment protection. I had death threats and many nasty emails. They have flooded bad reviews on Google, Healthgrades, etc. to bring ratings down. (Yet another reason the online rating systems are ridiculous anyone can state they are a patient there is no way to verify, and HIPAA prevents physicians from defending themselves).

Although this is clearly beyond the board of medicine’s jurisdiction (not a patient, not in my state, not a procedure I do) and they should have dismissed this out of hand, they sent it to me to answer. I, of course, crafted a response with an attorney, citing the First Amendment and SLAP suits. I also stated that by advancing the complaint at all and allowing this group to have ANY credence and threatening my license to practice medicine, the board is derelict in its duty to protect the public.

I had to shut down Twitter and any public Facebook presence. The anti-vaxxers followed the intactivists and deluged my page. Trying to block them is like a game of whack-a-mole. With my livelihood at stake and death threats, it is no longer worth it to have a social media presence. I was on social media as a service. I was not being paid for it; I did not receive anything for it. I was there simply to help be a voice of accurate medical information.


The state board of medicine, by pursuing this complaint, is clearly showing their animus. It is an outrageous example of constitutional violations by boards of medicine. It is not unique. I am spending outrageous amounts of money and energy in defense of this nonsense. Given this environment and the current state of medicine, the punitive stance boards of licensure, physicians today have to ask themselves if social media is worth it. We, unfortunately, are not offered constitutional protections as other citizens are. We are sub-citizens.

The author is an anonymous physician. 

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5 Tips to Deliver First-class Patient Service Through Social Media

5 Tips to Deliver First-class Patient Service Through Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media patient service is not optional these days. Your patients will choose when to contact their healthcare providers, and through the channel that best suits them.
Superior patient service is a key differentiator for healthcare practices, and social networks allow practices to deliver this service efficiently, proactively and with more personalization than other channels.

For healthcare brands that excel at social patient service, it offers a way for them to delight patients, keeping them engaged rather than simply trying to resolve their health issues.

What is social patient service?

Social patient service is the practice of providing support through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to answer patient queries. The majority of patients believe the fast resolution of their problems is vital to efficient service, making social patient support invaluable.

Clearly, social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook have evolved to become more than platforms for healthcare marketing. Increasingly, they are also essential channels through which patients solicit and receive service.

Social patient care is not a new concept, yet providing multi-channel patient support that includes social networks can present real challenges for medical practices, both large and small. The reality is that patients’ service expectations are rising every day, and they are expecting practices to create an experience that spans your physical office to Facebook feeds.

Simply having a social media presence is not sufficient; you have to be a social media rock star.

But how? Let us explore some best practices and tips for medical practices to deliver great patient service through social networks.

Tips for delivering patient service through social media
Patient service through social networks is exactly what it sounds like. The idea is to use social networks to provide patient service and support.

In today’s digital world, patients use social networks to connect with healthcare practitioners and expect healthcare practitioners to be available on social networks to provide support when required.

Chances are you already have an effective social media marketing strategy and a great patient care team in place. But do you have a strategy to coordinate both? How does your brand plan to use social media solutions to support patients? Here are some pointers:

1. Pick the relevant social media channels for your practice

The biggest problem with taking advice from experts about the “best” platform for your unique needs is that they may be wrong. The best platform for some other medical practices could be useless for yours.

What is more important here is where your patients are. And if you do not know the answer to that, it is a great idea to ask your existing patients about it. A simple survey, sent via email, can point you in the right direction.

By going to where your patients are, you can provide support and deliver an experience that is native to their preferred social media channel.

What you learn about where your existing patients spend their time might surprise you. Do not make the mistake of assuming that Facebook or Twitter are the best fits for your target audience.

2. Monitor brand mentions on social networks

You do not have to stare at your social media feed all day just to know when your patients might need help.

There are some very useful tools available that will alert you when you are mentioned on social networks. These tools will help you stay on top of when and where your brand gets mentioned so that you can respond to your patients. These tools are great for healthcare marketing and just as important for patient support.

3. Create memorable experiences

Being able to connect with patients in real time is one of the greatest benefits of engaging with patients on social media. You see a query, and you address it.

Handling patient issues on a public platform can benefit both you and the patient you are dealing with –especially if you go above and beyond a standard “Please contact my office and my team can help you resolve the issue.”

Be genuine. A canned or robotic response may work in the beginning, but over time patients will identify the pattern and start picking up on the insincerity of your responses. Try to personalize the experience. Do not copy and paste your responses. Your potential and existing patients are paying attention and making perceptions about your brand based on your responses.

4. Be proactive

We have all had those conversations where it is obvious the other person’s attention is inconsistent. Isn’t it frustrating and rude?

The same holds true for your interactions with patients on social networks. When you ask patients to follow your Facebook or Twitter page, you are inviting them into a conversation – and conversations must be a two-way street.

In order to build lasting patient relationships, be supportive and attentive in every situation. Try to align your vision, mission and values with your online conversations to give meaning to your efforts.

Try not to react to negative comments from patients. Share your own valuable posts. Not promotional posts about your services and products, but relevant information that would add value to your patient community.

YouTube is an effective channel to share content such as answers to frequently asked questions, patient testimonials, unique ways patients are using your products and much more. While some may view this as healthcare content marketing, others will see it as a valuable part of the patient experience.

5. Allow patients to rely on you

One of the key aspects of lasting patient relationships is reliability. However, reliability extends beyond online interactions. You have to be consistent and active on social media. Do not ever abandon your patients.

For instance, what do potential or existing patients see when they search for your practice on Facebook? A vibrant brand dedicated to serving the community? Positive reviews? Or an abandoned page?

When visitors see a stagnant social media page, they leave with a perception that the medical practice does not value patients or even business.


Regular monitoring of your practice’s social media pages combined with savvy use of other marketing strategies can elevate your patient service efforts from average to exceptional. The better your social patient care, the more traffic you can expect – which is a good thing.

Social care is more than patient service. It is marketing. And it is inexpensive compared to other healthcare marketing strategies. One of your best assets are patients who are willing to recommend your brand to their family and friends. So, engage with them on social platforms. Respond to their complaints and comments. Make the conversations engaging and show your target audience that you are the healthcare practitioner they are looking for.

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Digital Marketing Strategies for Hospitals | 5 ways to get more patients

Patients have more options than ever before. With so much information available online, they no longer feel the need to visit the hospital or practic
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Social Networking Sites for Medical Professionals

Social Networking Sites for Medical Professionals | Social Media and Healthcare |

There are so many social networking sites available - which ones should you join? In addition to the general sites for all professionals, such as LinkedIn, there are many social networks online that are specifically designed for healthcare workers.

Some websites are more broad, targeting anyone in the healthcare industry, while some social networks consist of one type of healthcare professional, such as doctors, nurses, or any other type of medical professional.

This list explores a few sites, to help you decide which ones meet your networking needs, depending upon what type of healthcare professional you are.


Medical Mingle

Buero Monaco/Taxi/Getty Images

Medical Mingle is a website created by the owners of Absolutely Health Care, a medical job board. Medical Mingle is a "free professional social network for people interested in, working in, servicing, or studying for a career in the medical or healthcare field..." Medical Mingle offers blogging, job postings, and career resources.



MedXCentral is another community that is open to medical professionals of any type or role. Whether you're on the clinical side or the industry side of healthcare, you can connect with others on MedXCentral. Like Medical Mingle, MedXCentral also has a facebook page where you can get additional updates right to your facebook account. MedXCentral has groups which are subsets of the larger community you can join based on your role or subspecialty within the healthcare field. MedXCentral works in conjunction with Twitter, YouTube, etc. Jim Canto, who started the network, regularly posts news and informational updates about the medical industry that you can receive on the site or via the facebook community. His goal is to "become a centrifuge for all things related to the medical and health care industry on the web."

MedXCentral also has a free staffing exchange called "MPOPS" (Medical Professional Online Profile Service).


Sermo (for Physicians Only)

According to the Sermo website, one physician member described this network as a "highly intellectual, vibrant, live community of doctors." Sermo allows physicians to explore job opportunities, share clinical information and do case studies, and earn honoraria while having their voices heard.

Sermo is exclusive to physicians and the site does require that you submit professional and personal identifying information in order to confirm that you are in fact a physician when you sign up to join the network. According to the Sermo site, features include interacting with drug experts, participating in forums with members of Congress, and numerous other opportunities to get involved, learn, share, and earn money.

Sermo's site states that it has 112,000 physician members across 68 specialties. seems like one of the largest, most active nursing networks. (That statement is is based primarily on the author's anecdotal evidence and observation - not on any hard numbers.) The site appears to be very active based on the number of threads and number of active readers at any given time, (4,000+ online when visited last), which is posted on the homepage so you can see how many people are actually logged in to the site when you are there. Additionally, the site seems well-organized and easily navigated due to clearly labeled tabs you can click on across the top, which was very helpful at a glance.

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Why would patients agree to be on social media? | 

Why would patients agree to be on social media? |  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Packed into that question of why patients would agree to be on social media is a different question people really want to know. Do doctors incentivize patients to agree to be on social media? In other words, do they give the patient something to get them in front of the camera?


Agree to be on social media

The short answer in my case, is no. We do not give the patient anything to coerce them into being on social media. We simply ask. And if they have concerns, we delve into what those concerns are. If we can allay those concerns in one pass and they agree, great. If not, that’s end of the conversation. We don’t shame them or hold a grudge.


But under no circumstances do we offer any favor or treatment or money in an effort to get them to agree to be on social media. There are several reasons for this. We don’t want them to feel pressure. If there is some renumeration, there’s a risk they would regret it and have buyer’s remorse.


There’s also a power or education gap between the patient and doctor. The doctor is in a position where their mere presence can cause undue pressure on the patient to make a decision they normally would not.


Ironically, you don’t have to offer the patient anything to be on social media. By the time they reach out to our office, they’re already following us on social media. They’re already learning from us. And for that reason, they want to be on social media. Just as they learned from other patients that agreed to be on social media, they want to pay that education forward.

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Social media opens new avenue to advocacy in rheumatology

Social media opens new avenue to advocacy in rheumatology | Social Media and Healthcare |

Political activism is more accessible than ever thanks to the amplification offered by social media, and rheumatologists can use social media — particularly Twitter — to advocate for the profession and their patients, according to Angus Worthing, MD, private practice rheumatologist and chair of the Government Affairs Committee for the American College of Rheumatology.

Worthing recently sat down with Healio Rheumatology to discuss his rheumatology advocacy campaign, called #ThingADay, in which he posted actions rheumatologists could take each day to advocate for the profession and to improve patient care.

 Stay Informed and Active

One of Worthing’s recommended tasks was to learn more about biosimilars, which as he stated in the Twitter post, are “the most medically acceptable [and] politically feasible way to lower rheum drug prices.”

Worthing said biosimilars can be thought of roughly as generic biologic drugs; the main difference between generics and biosimilars is that biosimilars can have slight differences from their brand name equivalences due to their size and complexity.

“The FDA did not have the authority to approve [the generic versions of] biologics until the Affordable Care Act included that authorization in 2010,” Worthing explained. “Now the FDA has a pathway for a biosimilar approval process and there are 18 biosimilars that have been FDA-approved — several in rheumatology — but unfortunately only two of those biosimilars are available for rheumatology patients in the marketplace.”

For biosimilars to become readily available in the U.S., Worthing said step therapy needs to be reformed and insurance companies and pharmacy benefits managers need to be more transparent. According to current step therapy protocols, Worthing said, biosimilars can only be used if the preferred drug is tried and shown to be ineffective.

“Even when I prescribe a biosimilar, which is about 20% less expensive than a bio-originator or brand name, it’s often not approved. Instead, the patient is supposed to take the more expensive drug,” Worthing said. “Step therapy and these kinds of legislation management tools are some of the most frustrating parts about being a doctor in the U.S. today and they are very frustrating for patients because they delay effective treatment.”

While Worthing wants to improve the availability of biosimilars and has been working with the ACR to connect with leaders in Congress on this issue, he noted that his goal for other rheumatologists is to educate themselves and come to their own conclusions about biosimilars.


“I think the main way that rheumatologists can get involved is simply to learn and become comfortable with what a biosimilar is and find out more about them,” he said. He suggested an ACR white paper, “The Science Behind Biosimilars,” (of which he is a coauthor) as a good starting point.

Promote Research and Preventive Measures


Another action item from #ThingADay was to email Congress in support of arthritis research, specifically a $20 million request to the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) to create an arthritis research program. Worthing noted that one in three military veterans have arthritis and it is the second most common cause of medical discharge.

“The DOD is an excellent place for arthritis and rheumatology research to happen, partly because they can design and implement ways to protect the joints of our service members; for example, to avoid injuries that would lead to osteoarthritis of the knee or other joints. They also have a serum bank, so blood samples are drawn from active service members that can be tested for evidence of autoimmune diseases later on. There are also excellent longitudinal medical records that can be researched to find out some potential causes and treatments for arthritis.”

Additionally, Worthing suggested rheumatologists support increasing access to DEXA scans, in particular by advocating for the Increasing Access to Osteoporosis Testing for Medicare Beneficiaries Act (S. 283). Worthing said since reimbursement for DEXA scans decreased to less than the cost to provide the service, far fewer scans have been provided. “Now unfortunately we are seeing an uptick in ... surprise hip fractures ... which is really a shame in the United States, that we are seeing worsening in a medical problem that is easy and inexpensive to prevent,” he said.

According to Worthing, S. 283 “raises the reimbursement for a DEXA scan service to a level that is sustainable and allows doctors to provide the service, and we hope that more people will be able to obtain this screening test so that we can prevent more fractures.”

Develop a Professional Voice

Worthing finds value in Twitter as a platform that gives everyone a voice. “It’s such an effective way to communicate with fellow advocates, people involved in health policy and also the actual leaders and their staff on Capitol Hill,” he said. “It’s instantaneous and free and can be leveraged really quickly. When influencers, or people in media or leaders — the people who are writing bills and legislation — see tweets and retweet things, ideas and issues can come up and suddenly get noticed.”


Worthing said he created the #ThingADay campaign to provide easy access to many ideas that anyone could implement in their typical day. He wanted to create a handy guide on “how to email Congress, how to read up on the issues, how to connect with other people, invite Congress into your office if you’re a physician — all the little things you can do, large or small, sort of as ‘one thing a day’ to be a political advocate.”

He said the ACR’s Legislative Action Center showed increased activity after the #ThingADay campaign, which is the exact response he had hoped for. In his volunteer leadership role with ACR, Worthing helps coordinate ACR’s response to federal decisions, and one of his goals is to increase the number of rheumatologists who use ACR’s online Legislative Action Center.


“Ultimately, I think my job as kind of a lead advocate for rheumatology is to get people using these tools on their own and making their own — either Twitter threads or using [the information] on their own in productive ways,” he said. “I usually try to encourage people to use social media, which is, I think, really effective on a professional level ... putting out a professional face as a physician advocate.”

Worthing added that RheumPAC, the ACR’s political action committee, is an additional way to pool a group of voices. “For a small specialty like rheumatology, with only 6,000 out of the million doctors in the country, RheumPAC is a very effective way for us to leverage our voice,” he said. He noted that RheumPAC is for ACR members only, and supports “candidates on both sides of the aisle who are champions of rheumatology reforms.”

He added, “I think in a representative democracy, our institutions require informed input, and I strongly support my fellow doctors and our patients to raise their voice[s] because we are the experts that Congress needs to hear from, and social media and Twitter are a great way to do it.” – by Amanda Alexander

Disclosure: Worthing reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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The Challenges of Social Media in Healthcare and How to Solve Them

The Challenges of Social Media in Healthcare and How to Solve Them | Social Media and Healthcare |

If you’re leading your healthcare marketing team, you know that social media marketing executed the right way — through the lens of today’s connected-consumer —  yields a number of organizational benefits:

  1. Immediate channel access and more exposure to prospective and current patients who are living mobile and digital lifestyles; and who use technology to manage their lives and help achieve their goals. Case in point, for the first time, Americans spent more time on their mobile devices in 2019 than they did watching TV; and 39% of adults 18-29 rarely disconnected from the internet in 2018;  according to Pew Research cited in Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends report.
  2. Assisting your organization in being more approachable and transparent; two very important traits to Generation Z and Millennials.  In fact, 93% of all marketers indicated their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses, while 87% reported increased traffic. (2019 Social Media Marketing Industry Report; Social Media Examiner).
  3. Following above, helping to build or repair trust, which has plummeted across industries
  4. Next, social media can contribute to building preference, choice and loyalty

Perceived Challenges of Social Media

Despite these advantages, a significant percentage of healthcare organizations are still hesitant to use social media to engage with current and prospective patients. This is not only because of heavy regulation and copious amounts of scrutiny. Part of the reason, we believe, is because brands aren’t sure how and where they fit in the context of how consumers manage their social lives and use social connections to help:

  • feel connected to others
  • assert their self-image and self-esteem
  • make decisions
  • live their lives more efficiently and effectively
  • enhance the value they get from a brand

Said another way, today’s digitally-enabled connected and empowered consumer demands more value from social media beyond “social”. They’re looking for valuable content that educates and informs, helps them find support and make more objective healthcare decisions.

Other Challenges of Social Media


The Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protects privacy for patients, and there are serious fines for releasing Protected Health Information (PHI). From, some of the most common HIPAA violations include:

  • Posting of images and videos of patients without written consent
  • Posting of gossip about patients
  • Posting of any information that could allow an individual to be identified
  • Sharing of photographs or images taken inside a healthcare facility in which patients or PHI are visible
  • Sharing of photos, videos, or text on social media platforms within a private group

Patient-related posts, like patient testimonials, will have to go through a costly and time-consuming de-identification process and get reviewed by HR and HIPAA regulators before being posted.

Organization Policies

Many healthcare organizations discourage and even block social media usage on company networks. Aside from productivity issues, it can cause security breaches. For perspective, in 2018, 15 million patient records were breached during 503 healthcare data breaches. In these cases, there are serious repercussions for these companies. In 2017, recovery costs for stolen medical records were $380 per stolen record.


Healthcare organizations need to safeguard their image given the high stakes nature of their services. In addition, with trust already a problem, it’s better to be safe than sorry as it relates to social media postings that might backfire on the organization. For these reasons, social media content needs to be monitored by a seasoned marketer to manage the healthcare organization’s reputation.

Unclear Benefits

Healthcare organizations find it to difficult to measure ROI for inbound marketing techniques like social media marketing. In a recent 2019 Social Media Marketing Industry Report from Social Media Examiner, only 44% of marketers agreed they were able to measure their organic social activities. In this same report, 86% of marketers agreed that they’d like to learn more about Facebook analytics, and 89% agreed that they’d like to learn more about Google Anaytics.

Solutions To Combat Healthcare Social Media Challenges

Here are some solutions to combat the challenges healthcare organizations have with social media:

Determine The Role Social Media Will Play

What’s the role social media will play in helping your organization help your prospective patients, e.g.

  • education
  • thought-leadership
  • research
  • building top-of-mind awareness of your organization/service lines
  • creating positive brand associations of your organization

Determine Your Social Media Approach

Questions you need to answer include:

  • type, e.g. articles, videos, white papers, podcasts
  • style, e.g. interactive, authoritative, more friendly
  • sources, e.g. inside your organization (e.g. CEO, marketing, cross-functional), third-party
  • keywords that you want to own
  • guardrails, e.g. frequency, legal implications

Keep Patient Name and Information Anonymous in Blog Posts

To negate potential breaches of patient privacy, consider using patient personas instead of patient names when posting success stories. Prospective patients understand about privacy issues and will not disregard the value of a patient success story if a real patient’s name isn’t used.

Formalize Social Media Listening Practices

Integral to successful social media marketing is listening to what is being said about:

  • Your name, your handle,
  • Your services and possible misinformation
  • Competitor’s names/handles
  • People in your organization (CEO, spokesperson, etc.) and in competitor’s organizations
  • Campaign names and keywords
  • Branded hashtags and competitor’s hashtags

Set Up an Efficient Social Media Monitoring Work Flow

Creating a consistent and effective work flow is important to avoid review by HIPAA compliance officers.

Update Company Policies

What policies are in place for employee participation, brand consistency, crisis situations, etc. Company policies should be up to date to ensure that social media use by physicians, staff and others meet your organization’s criteria. Integrate employee training into the process to ensure that social media practices are understood and being followed.

Strengthened IT Infrastructure to Stay Secure

IT Infrastructures should be strengthened as follows:

  • Ensure no firewall holes
  • Ensure all antivirus protection is up-to-date; consider changing to stronger antivirus protection software if data has been breached in the past
  • Employees trained to recognize phishing scams and suspicious hacking activities
  • All employees who leave the organization are revoked of social media rights


Since 1999, Trajectory has shaped and guided brands across the healthcare and wellness landscape – launching, rebranding and implementing integrated marketing and digital programs. Reach out if you’re looking to bolster your social media marketing program.

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Goodbye Instagram likes: Mental health expert praises social media giant’s move –

Goodbye Instagram likes: Mental health expert praises social media giant’s move – | Social Media and Healthcare |

A western Sydney mental health expert has praised Instagram’s move to trial the removal of likes on posts, following a major change to the Australian version of the platform today.

Australia is one of the first countries in the world to trial the new format, a move hoped to improve people’s mental health.

Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) perinatal and child youth mental health director Dr Ashwini Padhi urged other social media platforms to follow suit, having seen first-hand the devastating effects social media obsession can have on his young patients.

“Depression and self-harm has been linked to social media use particularly in the child and youth population,” Dr Padhi said.

“Recent literature and evidence suggests youth who self-harm have a higher tendency to be active on social media compared to youth who do not engage in self-harm behaviour.

No more likes in Australia from today.

“Internet addiction and excessive pre-occupation with social media is on the rise and we are seeing increasing numbers of children and young adults presenting with these issues at Redbank House.

“This is a good move by Instagram and other platforms should follow.”

Dr Padhi said young people are vulnerable and easily pressured by social media, driving his team to start work on guidelines for patients.

“Social media creates a virtual world that is not aligned to the reality of this world,” Dr Padhi said.

“In our youth mental health services, we always consider how much access we allow patients to have on social media.

“We are exploring a program that will talk about the dos and don’ts on social and digital media for our patients.

“We want to ensure people do not succumb to the pressures of social media. We want young people to develop emotional resilience and not get unduly influenced by negative messages on social media.  

“It is clear to us that some people become anxious, depressed, moody and irritable without access to social media.”

Dr Padhi outlined some of the criteria used to determine if a young person is showing signs of internet addiction:

  • Checks his or her phone first thing in the morning
  • Has changes in mood when access to internet/digital media is limited
  • Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities prior to having access to internet
  • Neglects homework or household chores to spend more time online
  • Tries to minimise time spent on internet or digital media
  • Prefers spending time online instead of social interaction
  • Becomes agitated or distressed if access to internet is stopped

Dr Padhi highlighted the importance of a reality check.

“It’s important to spend time with the family, be part of the real world and get together with friends,” Dr Padhi said.

“Social media has its pros and cons but it shouldn’t take over someone’s life. Be moderate and responsible.”

If you are concerned about your internet addiction, seek help.

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10 Reasons Why Social Media is Beneficial to Your Medical Practice -

10 Reasons Why Social Media is Beneficial to Your Medical Practice - | Social Media and Healthcare |

We all use social media for personal use. However, it reaches goes far beyond personal needs. There are many advantages to utilizing the power of social media for your business.

What Social Media Benefits Your Business

1. Brand Awareness

You are able to build your brand beyond your physical business. You can showcase your brand online using social media posts to highlight the values of your business’ brand.

2. Your Audience

Get to know your audience. Patients, other medical professionals, or students. This allows you to tailor your content to your audience.

3. Another Access Point

Having a presence on social media allows your patients and colleagues another way to reach you. Many medic professionals do not have their email readily available and some may not want to call your practice.

4. Share Relevant Topics

By getting to know your audience, you can tailor your content toward their interests. From general information for patients to medical advances for colleagues. You can utilize hashtags and ads to specifically attract the right audience for the content you produce.

5. Cost Effective

Traditional marketing can cost $200 for just one newspaper advertisement. A mass mailing can cost almost $1000. Why not utilize social media and spend much less per month for consistent posting. Social Media Management offers a new, cheaper avenue to your marketing needs.

6. Personal Connection

Social media allows a personal connection that you may not get otherwise with your audience. While you get a few minutes with a patient in the office, social media allows you to build a rapport with them.

7. Increase Traffic to Your Website

Having a blog linked to your practice’s website is a great benefit to keep your patients informed. This allows you to talk about common conditions and check-ups throughout the year. Promoting these posts on social accounts allows your content to be seen by more people. In turn, this brings more views to your website and to your brand.

8. Bring in New Patients

By promoting on social media, utilizing ads, and sharing blog posts shows your community that you are a leader in the field. This brings more patients to your practice. Isn’t growth what every office needs to survive and thrive? Social media can assist in that area.

9. Ability to Target a Specific Audience

Utilizing ads and hashtags allows your content to be driven to a specific audience. Back to school is here, online ads can be used to target a specific age range and those interested in family. Is there a health fair coming up that you will be a part of? We can target that specific audience as well. Hashtags are used to tag locations, such as your city, and topics of interest or a specific type of person. Facebook ads are still cheaper than traditional marketing.

10. Improved Customer Service

By giving your patients additional information and a new avenue to reach you, this improves your customer service. It shows you’re an asset to the community beyond seeing patients in the office. Medical advice, of course, wouldn’t be provided but it allows you to share information regarding your specialty. This increases the perceived value of your brand.

Social media is an amazing, cost-effective resource for your business. Utilizing a Social Media Manager gives you an additional set of hands that allows you more time to focus on the aspects of life you chose. The ability to target a specific audience and bring in new patient flow.

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Overcoming Disparities in Healthcare Information with Patient Engagement

Overcoming Disparities in Healthcare Information with Patient Engagement | Social Media and Healthcare |

Accurate health information can directly impact one’s personal healthcare decision-making and affect their health outcomes. However, there is great disparity in the access to credible information sources, further complicated by the sources that patients prefer and trust. This places tremendous importance on patient education and engagement.

Patient engagement is defined as “actions individuals must take to obtain the greatest benefit from the healthcare services available to them,” according to the Center for Advancing Health (PDF). This degree of engagement is of paramount importance when it comes to taking medications. After all, as a Yoruba proverb says, “Medicine left in the bottle can’t help.”

Despite the best efforts from many healthcare providers, patients are not always fully engaged when it comes to taking medications. In fact, medication is not taken as prescribed 50% of the time. This non-adherence leads to 10% of all hospitalizations26% of all preventable readmissions (PDF) and 125,000 deaths per year. In addition to these health-related consequences, the lack of patient engagement also incurs a cost to the U.S. health system of as much as $300 billion per year.

These challenges are partially caused by the lack of access to healthcare information and consumer preferences. Most consumers are passive receivers of health information until they become actively engaged and seek information relevant to their particular concern.

Healthcare Information Sources

Health information is distributed from a wide variety of sources, including healthcare providers, broadcast media, print media, the internet, family and friends. Preferences of health information sources are generally associated with age, education level, insurance, race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. For example, older consumers are more likely to use print media as a source of health information, while the uninsured are less likely to have access to healthcare providers.

Pharmaceutical companies have used broadcast television and print media to reach a wide audience and educate consumers. However, these efforts are reaching a diminishing number of passive consumers as user preferences move away from these communications channels.

In contrast, the internet is a growing, active distribution platform for health information, particularly on mobile devices. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 96% of Americans own a cellphone, and 81% are smartphones. Additionally, 37% of US adults say they mostly use smartphones when accessing the internet.

Users who access the internet for healthcare information tend to be younger and more educated. In addition, patients without access to healthcare providers are also more likely to turn to the internet as their primary source of health information. Although the internet provides a ubiquitous channel for health information, it is not an option for all patients. Factors such as low health literacy and limited English proficiency are major barriers for some patients to use the internet for healthcare and medication information.

Health Literacy Challenges

Another huge challenge with using the internet as a source for health information is sifting out discredited information. This is an important aspect of health literacy. For example, click-bait scams that advertise quick, cheap alternatives can be enticing to many individuals. Health literacy is a personal skill that includes the ability to gather, understand and then act on appropriate health information.

Patients with low health literacy have difficulty with one or more of these steps. Each step is important because an inability in any step detrimentally affects subsequent steps. Health literacy is such an important skill that it is a stronger predictor of health than age, income, employment status and race.

Better Ways to Engage and Educate Patients

Healthcare providers are trusted primary sources of health information and should explore new ways to provide accurate information to all patients. It is important that the information presented to patients incorporates health literacy approaches that are culturally appropriate. Consider offering handouts to vulnerable populations that are written clearly in a culturally appropriate way, in the patient’s preferred language.

Another way to accomplish this is by providing easily accessible links in patient portals to credible health information, as consumers are increasingly encouraged to use these portals. Links to additional resources available in their languages, such as videos, should be accessible on the healthcare system’s patient portal as well.

The willingness of healthcare providers to answer questions, their ability to appreciate their patients’ preferred sources of health information, and an effort to guide patients to navigate the internet to useful sources of information can reduce these disparities to accessing credible health information.

Twisting the Cap

Understanding barriers to access, preferred routes and trends can provide healthcare providers and policymakers with the tools to improve effective communication by increasing focus on populations with low access to healthcare information.

The ultimate goal is to meet patients where they are with information that will make it more likely that they twist the cap, take the medications out of the bottle and use it as instructed — thereby improving their health and well-being.

Dr. Charles Lee has been a leading national advocate for simplifying and making medical information more understandable for patients. Dr. Lee is Sr. Advisor on health literacy and language barriers at First Databank(FDB). He has extensive experience in patient-centered healthcare communication, language barriers, health literacy, and instructional design.

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The Use and Abuse of Social Media in the Cath Lab

The Use and Abuse of Social Media in the Cath Lab | Social Media and Healthcare |

I learned something new recently. Did you know that the average person has five social media accounts and spends about an hour and 40 minutes browsing these counts every day, accounting for 28% of total time spent on the Internet? In Britain, the English are slightly less digitally obsessed, spending an hour and 20 minutes each day (courtesy of Dr. M. Chadi Alraies — see below).

Social media has become a ubiquitous part of our daily life and in particular, involves how we in cardiology and the cath lab exchange experiences, educate, discuss, notify, and create forums for information exchange. Just so we are on the same page, social media is defined as forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos) (Table 1). If you have a modern cell phone, you have access to social media and, whether we like it or not, are exposed to and influenced to various degrees by what we see on social media. At the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Annual Scientific Sessions in March 2019 in New Orleans, I was honored to be asked to participate in a debate on the pros and cons of social media. Dr. Martha Gulati, Chief of Cardiology, University of Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona, took the role of the proponent position on the benefits of social media. I took the role of a skeptic as to its value (although I am on Twitter @drmortkern and Facebook) (Figure 1).

The session had quite a lively discussion, bringing a wide disparity of views from both panelists and audience members. Although I am a relatively infrequent user of social media, I have a basic understanding and high curiosity, because my 30-something-year-old daughter has educated me to just above a beginner’s level. Having participated in the discussion and read a great article on the subject1, I thought this might be a good opportunity to share with our cath lab colleagues and others some of the important concepts and comments that highlighted the use and abuse of social media as it might apply to our workplace.

One of the best explanations of social media for those who are not familiar with it comes from an article by Drs Parwani, Choi, Lopez-Mattei, Raza, Chen, Narang, Michos, Erwin, Mamas, and Gulati, all members of the ACC interest group focused on social media and its opportunities in cardiovascular medicine. Their paper1 clearly summarizes the basics of social media, and its uses in education and advancement for the individual cardiologist and overall research (Figure 2). Social media is useful in creating new cardiovascular networks and communities. It is applicable for journals and conferences to notify users about recent events or publications. It has the capability for promotion of cardiovascular health initiatives. At the end of the article, Parwani et al also list suggestions for social media best practices.

The Pros of Social Media

At the 2017 Cardiovascular Research Technologies (CRT) meeting in Washington, D.C., Dr. M. Chadi Alraies, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Washington, D.C., and Dr. Sheila Sahni, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, presented and later published2probably the most comprehensive description of social media, describing its importance in medicine, and use in learning, educating, promoting work, and for personal branding and networking (Figure 3, Table 2).

Differences Among Social Media Platforms

Numerous social media platforms are available to the individual such as Doximity, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. As social media users, we do not need to be conversant in all, but we should be aware that many of our professional societies, colleagues, and fellow team members will be a participant in at least one or more of these platforms. While I may be dating myself as an outmoded old guy, I use Twitter, as do many of my professional colleagues, along with a couple other modalities (e.g., Facebook and Instagram) to keep appraised of different cath lab techniques, publications, meetings, and opinions. Some media are better than others at graphic display (Instagram), notifications (Twitter, Facebook), or conversations (Twitter, Facebook) [Note: These are my own assessments. Others may disagree. MK].

Using social media helps learners by highlighting journal activities, society and organizational meetings, and by transmitting opinions from experts in the field. Social media often involves peer-to-peer and colleague collaboration and discussions. Many of our most prestigious scientific journals have and continue to make their content known through these media.

Twitter as a Search Engine and for Remote Meeting Engagement

Something shown to me by Drs. Alraies and Sahni was that Twitter can function as a search engine to look up particular topics of interest such as drug-eluting stents or left atrial closure, and allow you to see instant results. Social media has the ability to enhance participation in scientific meetings, either in person or remotely, through polling and livestreaming. The use of social media at such meetings can engage colleagues in debate or support public health care messages. Providing scientific meeting updates, updates, learning, and engagement at these meetings are just some of the benefits of the social media platforms. It is now easy to conduct online polls to get immediate feedback from peers and colleagues interested in a controversial topic. Opinions can be quickly solicited via social media by using methods such as Twitter polls to see current thought on a critical subject, presentation, or procedure.

Social Media Use for Patient Education

In some regions of the world, general clubs and chats on cardiovascular disease topics have become useful for educating both patients and care providers. Platforms such as Facebook Live have been used in academic practice and discussions. Twitter and other similar platforms have been able to expedite information exchange. Of course, any time patient information is discussed online, we must be aware of the HIPAA rules protecting our patients’ confidentiality.

Downsides of Social Media

When I was asked to discuss the pros and cons during the ACC panel session, I listed them in an old-fashioned format, with a pen and paper, a device that rarely runs out of battery, never needs to be recharged, is relatively inexpensive, and is always available, unlike some of her more modern media platforms. In my own handwriting, I listed the following 8 things I consider critical to the discussion of social media (Figure 4):

  1. Social media is here (whether I like it or not, and I think I do).
  2. It has its limitations as a communication tool, but it can reach huge audiences.
  3. Its major functions appear to be marketing and notifications. It is used to share opinions and (presumed) facts.
  4. (Anyone can be a) media expert? No qualifications needed to be a Twitter maven.
  5. Social media posts are not peer reviewed, are not vetted science (and may be inaccurate).
  6. Discourse may not advance science (or may be frankly rude).
  7. Social media will not get you grants.
  8. Social media will not advance your scientific career goals (but will advance your visibility on Twitter; see #4).

My major concern about using social media is that at times, it is a true waste of time. Moreover, the information exchange can become unreliable, personal, or unhinged. In presenting clinical material, personal or patient information may be overlooked. We should adhere to the rules of privacy and protected health care information law. However, there are no ways to enforce these or any other rules on the Internet. As a consequence, it is not rare for one to witness the dark side of social media, presenting as biased, untrue, unfair, and/or unvetted diatribes substituting as facts, making the platform substance propaganda, rather than news.

My Suggested Rules and Best Practices for Social Media

  1. Do not violate HIPAA or the General Data Protection rules of the European Union.
  2. Use common sense and avoid being rude. Remember your tweet is a permanent record of your thought and will stay with you wherever you go.
  3. Comment when you think it adds to conversation or to support a position, but keep it professional. Don’t say something you wouldn’t want to see printed on the front page of The New York Times.
  4. Don’t spend too much time when you have real things to do.

What Are # and @ Used For?

For those new users, it is confusing to be in the dark about the symbology of the social media world.  For a bit of clarity, here are what the # and the @ mean if you don’t already know. A hashtag (#) is a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, especially Twitter, to identify messages on a specific topic that can then be searched. Whenever a user adds a hashtag to their posting, that word and the post are able to be indexed by the social network and become searchable/discoverable by other users. A hashtag archive is consequently collected into a single stream under the same hashtag. For example, adding or searching for the hashtag #RadialFirst allows users to find all the posts that have been tagged using that hashtag and people (@drmortkern) who are interested in or who have participated in this topic. The @ sign is used to call out usernames in tweets. People will use your @username to mention you in tweets, send you a message, or link to your profile. A username is how you are identified on Twitter, and is always preceded immediately by the @ symbol (Figure 5).

The Bottom Line

Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms have changed the way we see our world. Social media will be the way we communicate, educate, notify, and share our views across wide groups of users, particularly in the cardiovascular space. Corporate, university, business, and personal branding provides the ability to display your profile, contact information, and likes/dislikes, as well as promote your research, clinical expertise, practice and institutional clinical programs of special note.

I hope this short review on social media is helpful. I thank Dr. Alraies and Dr. Sahni for sharing their CRT presentation with me. Finally, be safe and have some fun out there in the Twittersphere. 

Disclosures: Dr. Morton Kern reports he is a consultant for Abiomed, Abbott Vascular, Philips Volcano, ACIST Medical, Opsens Inc., and Heartflow Inc.

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How to Consistently Attract New Patients into Your Practice

How to Consistently Attract New Patients into Your Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |

Although dentistry is a fairly stable market thanks to strong demand, the vast number of dentistry practices give consumers plenty of options. According to AreaDentist, there are over 200,000 dentists actively practicing in the US. The site also notes that around 600 dentists begin their own practice each year. Retirements have an impact on the amount of competition in the market, as older dentists are leaving faster than they’re being replaced. 

Nevertheless, some markets are denser than others, and both new and old practices may need modern marketing strategies to better compete. There are several reasons you may find it valuable to seek new dental marketing techniques for your practice.


Patient loyalty is becoming more difficult to achieve. Even one bad experience in your office can lead patients to search online for alternatives. Additionally, review sites such as YelpGoogle My Business, and Healthgrade make it easy for patients to leave both positive and negative reviews. Consumers are more likely to leave negative reviews after a bad experience than positive ones after a good experience, making it necessary to boost your practice’s’ positive image in the case of negative reviews.  

That said, effective marketing can bring in new customers. You can also build patient loyalty using a number of customer-focused techniques. New practices, in particular, need to establish a presence in the local market, which can involve developing an online presence and making your practice discoverable online. 

Having a combination of marketing strategies, such as creating a conversion website, implementing search engine optimization (SEO), running Google Ads, developing a strong social media presence, and using various online customer reviews practices, can help your dental practice bring in new patients and foster patient loyalty.


A majority of patients searching for a dental practice prefer to use each business’ website to learn more about the companies offering the service. In fact, 75 percent of consumers use business’ websites to learn more about them either half of the time or more. Which is to say, if your business doesn’t have a website at all, you’re likely losing a significant amount of business potential.

It’s not enough to just put up a website, however. It needs to be professionally constructed, avoid simple mistakes like misinformation or spelling errors, have all of the requisite information that potential new patients need to understand what you offer, and an online interface for appointment scheduling and communication. 

Effective websites also offer some tidbits to help build trust, such as customer reviews visitors can review directly on the website, and a Google Maps plugin that makes it easier to physically locate your business.


Building a website is great, but if nobody can find it, the website is effectively useless. This is where SEO comes in. Search Engine Optimization is a sometimes complex method which involves tweaking your online presence so that anyone typing entering various search terms in Google (such as “dentists near me”) can find your business. There are dozens of SEO strategies that exist to help make it easier for your website to appear in a Google search, but a few options that a dentistry practice needs include:

  • Getting your website listed on Google locally using Google My Business, which is essential for anyone looking for local dentist practices
  • Incorporating relevant keywords into your website’s homepage and landing pages
  • Using local SEO strategies, such as getting business citations (business name, address, phone number, etc.) on websites like Yellow PagesSuper Pages, and Yelp.
  • Develop a regular content strategy, including a regularly-updated blog with high-quality and consumer-focused guides, news, and information

Although there are numerous search engines consumers can use, Google’s market share is still around 75 percent of search engine traffic. Needless to say, if your practice is not showing up on Google, it becomes significantly more difficult for patients to locate your business online.


SEO can help drive traffic to your website and business, but ranking on Google is not a sure thing. Some SEO strategies are guaranteed to get you to show up, while others can fail if the competition is doing a much better job of ranking in Google searches. This is where Google Ads come in.

With Google Ads, you can get your practice listed at the top of a Google Search for valuable key terms. Google also makes it easy to manage your ads across different platforms and makes it easy to only spend as much or as little as you want. You can run Google Ads until your business starts ranking on Google organically or keep your strategy going if it’s successfully leading to conversions and drawing in new patients.


A large amount of business is converted through search engines, but social media is also playing a significant role, as well. A presence on major social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, can be valuable in your SEO strategy. It can also make your business more approachable, as you can use your social media accounts to share day-to-day features of your practice, posts you create on your business website, and other information that social media users (and potential and current clients) may need or want.

The key to social media is in the first part of the term: social. To make social media work, you’ll need to keep the content interactive, interesting, and shareable. Content that fosters discussion is also valuable, as is content that effectively highlights what you do well

Social media is also a good platform for paid marketing campaigns. In a similar fashion to Google Ads, you can purchase ads on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that target key markets, both by location, demographic points (such as age, gender, or marital status), and based on users’ identified interests (such as candy). 

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How social media can help you cope with a blood cancer diagnosis

How social media can help you cope with a blood cancer diagnosis | Social Media and Healthcare |

 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of 23. For a few weeks, I was completely in shock. Everything went by so fast – with all the scans, tests and biopsies, everything was a blur. I didn't really know where to turn. I felt so alone and isolated. I had so many questions.

So what did I do? I turned to Google, of course. I needed to know how my life was going to change and what I was going to go through. That's all I could find at the time, there was no guide book on how to deal with cancer.

Social media showed me that I wasn’t alone

I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find anyone who’d be able to relate to what I was going through and how I was feeling. Although there were days throughout treatment when I felt more alone than ever, I came to realise that there are millions of people going through the exact same thing. The pain, the sickness, the chemo – every single thing. It was social media that helped me realise this.

It took me a while to post something with acknowledged my diagnosis on Instagram. I’m pretty sure it was just a quote or something which may have seemed small to others but was a huge deal to me: I was putting myself out there and asking for support. While scrolling through Insta, I found the hashtag #noonefightsalone. It’s so true.

I connected with so many amazing people while going through my treatment.

I’ve met some incredible people on Instagram, Twitter and online forums

Not just on Instagram, but on other social media platforms too. I felt comfortable chatting to people about anything and everything. Cancer really does connect people in such a strange way and you can really develop a strong bond.

I’m now real life friends with many of them. If it wasn’t for cancer, I wouldn’t have met them. So, thanks cancer. I’ve flown to New York to meet a girl called Nicole after speaking to her on Instagram for two years. I was so happy to finally meet someone who had been by my side since I first posted about my diagnosis.

Seeing others sharing their stories and seeing what they are going through really inspired me to put myself out there and share not only the good times but the bad as well and that’s when the best support happened, the support I needed the most.

Yes, you probably have a support system of friends and family, but unless they have or have had cancer and as much as they would like to they can’t relate to the things you are going through.

My advice for anyone looking for support on social media

Search Instagram and Twitter for hashtags relevant to what you’re going through. Sign up to the Bloodwise Forum – it’s an amazing community full of support. Just reach out and comment! Everyone on there is or has been going through something similar to what you are. They’ll be so supportive.

You'll develop an unexplainable bond to anyone else who has or has had cancer. You'll meet other cancer fighters and survivors through social media that you eventually become friends with. They get you. They understand you. They will help you get through it.

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The “Amazon” Approach to Patient Activation in Social Networks

The “Amazon” Approach to Patient Activation in Social Networks | Social Media and Healthcare |

What if Amazon was in charge of patient activation? Data-driven, consumer-friendly recommendations would present themselves to patients right when they need it. Some pharma marketers are already doing this today, leveraging social networks to proactively address patient needs. Here’s the formula for how they are doing it.

  Understand the Real-World Patient Experience
While doctor-patient conversations typically focus on primary symptoms, patient-patient conversations we see across MyHealthTeams’ 33 condition-specific social networks go much deeper. In a social listening study in multiple sclerosis with Biogen we learned that many of the members of MyMSTeam were experiencing cognitive issues (e.g. memory loss, confusion with directions, trouble finding words in speech). Through a survey among the 120,000+ members of MyMSTeam we validated that cognitive issues are a top-five symptom impacting quality of life for 52% of members. When we dug deeper, we learned that nearly half of those members actually started experiencing cognitive dysfunction before even being diagnosed with MS. It was being diagnosed late and undertreated with first-line therapies because many of these folks didn’t know these issues were linked to their MS. This is an opportunity to ACTIVATE through education.  Close Gaps in Knowledge to Inspire Action
In the example of MS and cognition, our survey findings immediately pointed to an education opportunity. People experiencing symptoms such as memory loss or concentration problems were most often attributing it to aging, stress or hormonal changes. And their doctors, including neurologists, were not quickly making the connection with MS. Conventional wisdom has assumed that this impact of the disease presents later in its progression. Helping people identify the symptoms earlier and draw these connections more quickly creates a valuable opportunity to accelerate diagnosis and treatment -- ultimately improving long-term health outcomes. So Biogen and MyMSTeam together created and launched the “MS and Cognition” Resource Center, featuring educational information designed to help people better understand the impact of MS on brain health and more effectively talk with their doctor about it. 100,000 diagnosed MS patients and their caregivers visited this Resource Center in the first 9 months after its launch. Arm today’s modern healthcare consumer with knowledge, empowering her to play an active role in managing her health and life.

“Amazon” the Message
Think about what Amazon does right after you’ve put something in your cart -- like, for instance, bandaids. You see this message: “Customers who bought this item also bought… Neosporin, Children’s Tylenol” etc.. We at MyHealthTeams do something similar in chronic health. For example, when one of our MyMSTeam members posts about her frustration with memory loss and concentration problems, we automatically suggest  relevant information that lives right on the MyMSTeam app sitting on the phone in her hand.




We call these Smart Recommendations. “Smart” because we surface content contextually, based on what a member shares in her post or profile. They are “Recommendations” in that we are surfacing information (not medical advice) that others going through the same thing have found helpful. It’s the power of community at work.

We introduced Smart Recommendations with select partners in our social networks earlier this year to personalize patient education and drive activation. It’s working. The click-through rates on Smart Recommendations exceed 10%. This shows how hungry people are for directly relevant, objective information to help them manage their condition.

By engaging patients where they are in social networks, with targeted information based on what that person is sharing, several pharma companies have started to deliver more of an Amazon-like consumer experience.  

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Laying the foundation for experimentation-based digital marketing in healthcare -

Laying the foundation for experimentation-based digital marketing in healthcare - | Social Media and Healthcare |

The headlines are everywhere: biosensors, point-of-care diagnostics, artificial intelligence, next-generation sequencing—the healthcare industry is evolving rapidly. The way healthcare is marketed and delivered to consumers and patients? That’s another story.

The Current State of Digital Disruption in Healthcare

Overall, the global digital health market is growing steadily. In 2015, it was valued at $80B. By 2020, it’s expected to increase to over $200B. The estimated global electronic health records (EHR) and electronic medical records (EMR) market in 2020 alone is $24B. The forecasted global telemedicine market size in 2021? $41B.


Perhaps that explains why a 2018 study from Ernst & Young found that 91% of healthcare companies already had or planned to begin a digital health initiative within the next year to improve patient experience. How? 51% of healthcare companies said data analytics were the top initiative, followed closely by competitive benchmarking, among others.

Medical startups are securing ample funding in 2019. In fact, the total digital health industry funding worldwide in 2018 surpassed $14B.


A study conducted by a team of scientists last year indicates that the best way for large companies to approach digital disruption in healthcare is likely through collaboration. Corporations must learn from startups, and vice versa:

Digital transformation is an opportunity to accelerate health care performance by lowering cost and improving quality of care. At an economic scale, business models can be strengthened and disruptive innovation models enabled. Corporations should look for collaborations with start-up companies to keep investment costs at bay and off the balance sheet. At the same time, the regulatory knowledge of established corporations might help [startups] to kick off digital disruption in the health care sector.

The study looked at how technology corporations, life science companies and medical startups are investing in digital disruption. Technology corporations are investing heavily in adherence hardware and treatment platforms. Similarly, life science companies are investing heavily in adherence hardware and software. Treatment services are also becoming a priority.

Medical startups, on the other hand, are more diversified, actively exploring all six major customer needs: adherence, diagnostic, lifestyle, patient engagement, prevention, and treatment.


With the proper funding in their pockets, the increasing demand and their diversified efforts, medical startups will only add to the mounting pressure to tackle digital disruption head-on.

Currently, however, most companies are falling short of consumer and patient expectations.

Michael Song from MedImmune presented some surprising numbers at Digital Pharma EAST late last year:

  • There are 325,000 health and fitness apps on the market.
  • Only 41 of them have more than 10M downloads on Google Play.
  • In fact, 85% have fewer than 5,000 downloads.
  • 50% of mHealth apps will never break even the 500 downloads mark.
  • Over 50% of apps see a usage drop-off rate of 64% after just 30 days.

Yet, according to a survey conducted by Transcend Insights, 64% of patients say they use a digital device (e.g. mobile apps) to manage their health. 71% believe it would be useful if their doctor could access that data as part of their medical records.

Again, the demand exists, but isn’t being met (yet). All of this information paints a clear picture: consumers and patients want the way healthcare is marketed and delivered to catch up to the pace at which healthcare as a whole is going digital, yet companies are consistently falling short of those expectations.


Consumers and patients want the way healthcare is marketed and delivered to catch up to the pace at which healthcare as a whole is going digital.



The tricky thing about this industry shift is the sheer number of factors to consider. For example, according to Bain and Co., the five pillars of digital disruption in healthcare are:

  1. The Amazon Effect: As non-traditional healthcare companies, like Amazon, enter the space, competition and innovation are heating up.
  2. The Digital Revolution: Tech innovations, such as smart devices and machine learning, are making digital treatment and care a reality.
  3. Regulatory Change: New and complex regulations, like the debate over the US Affordable Care Act, make for an unpredictable future.
  4. Consumerism: Consumers and patients have more choices than ever before.
  5. Personalized Medicine: Medical products and services will be increasingly tailored to specific consumers and patients based on their unique medical history.

This digital disruption is a healthcare evolution, not revolution. You will notice the impact in small pockets of the industry first, but it will continue to spread. The best time to start thinking about this shift was yesterday, but today is the second best.

What was going on in your business when you decided to start running experiments?

“It goes back to Providence’s mission. We’re here to help the poor and vulnerable, to ease their way. How can we make the experience as smooth as possible so consumers can get to the healthcare solution they need faster? Answering that question seemed like a really important, worthwhile task. A combination of analytic thinking with that desire to make the consumer’s way as seamless as possible prompted us to drive toward experimentation.” — Marc Schwartz, Director, Growth Marketing at Providence Health and Services


John Ekman from Conversionista shared a few industry-agnostic tips for companies looking to chase digital transformation at CXL Live 2019:

  1. Digital transformation is a result, not a goal.
  2. Digital transformation is largely the result of combining momentum, proper resources and strategic evaluation.
  3. There are five ways to “go digital”: digitize the product itself, add a digital service layer to the product, digitize your processes, digitize your marketing and sales strategy, and come up with net new digital products.
  4. Allocate budget and resources to new projects first.
  5. Listen to what your consumers need, act quickly on those needs, and scale.

For the rest of the article, we’ll focus on how to digitize your marketing and sales strategy.

The Challenges of Digital Disruption in Healthcare

You will encounter a number of contextual challenges as you start to digitize your marketing and sales strategy, from stakeholder support to resourcing. Universally speaking, though, there are two major challenges that make going digital particularly difficult in healthcare: Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA); and the lack of a traditional online transaction in healthcare.

1. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA)

As Bain and Co. suggested above, regulations, both new and old, have a big impact on the healthcare industry. HIPAA and its Canadian counterpart, PHIPA, complicate the collection, use, and disclosure of personal health information.

These acts are incredibly wide-reaching and nuanced. HIPAA is designed to protect patient rights and promote the safeguard of electronic protected health information (e-PHI). Here is a high-level summary of what’s covered under HIPAA:

  • All e-PHI created or received must be kept confidential and available to those entitled to access.
  • Anyone with access to e-PHI must take all reasonable steps to identify and eliminate potential threats to the security (and integrity) of that e-PHI.
  • Anyone with access to e-PHI must take all reasonable steps to identify and eliminate potential impermissible uses, disclosures, alterations, or deletions.
  • Anyone with access to e-PHI must take all reasonable steps to ensure HIPAA compliance within their entire organization.

Here is a high-level summary of what’s covered under PHIPA:

  • Consent is required if you want to collect, use or disclose personal health information.
  • All personal health information is considered confidential and those in possession of it must take all reasonable steps to maintain its security.
  • Everyone has the right to access their personal health information at any time.
  • Everyone has the right to instruct those with their personal health information to not share it with others.
  • The rules around using personal health information for research, fundraising, and marketing purposes are even more rigorous and nuanced.
  • Everyone has the right to correct errors in their personal health information at any time.

There are a lot of gray areas here. These acts cover everything from a single practitioner medical office to multi-national health plans. What’s important for us, as marketers, to remember is this: PHIPA and HIPAA make sourcing usable data for marketing activities in the healthcare industry particularly difficult.

How have HIPAA restrictions impacted your strategy?

“HIPAA is always top of mind as it should be for healthcare companies. Consumer privacy is of top importance in dealing with such sensitive issues like health. It was interesting to learn In some of the research we did around personalization, that one of the assumptions that people have about healthcare companies is that we’re going to be trustworthy and reliable. Because HIPAA exists, that’s implicit.

We also found that consumers give more data use latitude to a healthcare company if it helps them. So it puts the onus on the healthcare company to ask, ‘Is what I’m doing helpful for the consumer?’ It should never just be helpful to you.” — Marc Schwartz


2. The missing transaction

As Marc Schwartz, Director of Growth Marketing at Providence Health and Services, explains, there is often a lack of a traditional online transaction in healthcare: “There’s no basket. There’s no actual care that happens on our site; the care happens in the doctor’s office. Our doctors and their services are our product. So how quickly and easily we get someone to a doctor’s office becomes really important. Your measures of success need to be different.”

This forces you to adopt a utilitarian mindset. Your visitors already know what they want to do and they’re already convinced they need to do it, they just want to get it done as painlessly as possible. They need to find a doctor with availability, they need to find a clinic close by, they need to book an appointment with a specialist, they need to understand the science behind their unique condition—you name it.

The burden of persuasion is lifted, but this forces added pressure onto your user experience (UX) and customer journeys.

Why Experimentation is the Crux of “Going Digital”

Think of experimentation as your emergency vehicle through this complex period of digital disruption. Why? There are the internal benefits, of course:

  • Experimentation brings voice of customer data to the forefront by prioritizing consistent research and improvement.
  • Experimentation encourages strategic resourcing and unbiased digital decision-making.
  • Experimentation processes can be applied to every element of your sales and marketing strategy.
  • Experimentation fosters a test and learn culture.

More importantly, though, experimentation benefits the end consumer.

Schwartz explains: “Experimentation has made us realize how many hoops we make our consumers jump through just to do a transaction, and how frustrating that is. Experimentation forces you to ask why and the more you ask why, the more you realize your language is confusing, the number of steps required is too daunting, you don’t give enough direction, etc. Frankly, experimentation has shown us how hard we’ve made it for consumers to do what they want to do.”

It’s not enough to simply “go digital”; you have to “go digital” effectively. That means a commitment to fine-tuning the UX and customer journeys, a job that’s never truly done, according to Schwartz: “In reality, our biggest competition is always the latest consumer experience that someone has had. That changes the playing field, you’re never done.”


It’s not enough to simply “go digital”; you have to “go digital” effectively.



If digital disruption and transformation is the destination, experimentation is the emergency vehicle with its lights on and sirens blaring. Without it, at best, your digital sales and marketing strategy will be stagnant. At worst, you will be making important business decisions based on bias and subjective opinion.

What’s the most valuable thing experimentation brings to the table, and why?

“It’s helped us understand what’s most important to consumers. The site doesn’t exist for us, it exists for our consumers. Experimentation is one form of research that gives you insight into the mind of the consumer, which then allows us to drive action and results.

One of the questions you have to ask when an experiment wins is why. What makes it a winner? Same thing when it loses. Why did it lose? Were you out of touch with the consumer? Winners and losers, research—it’s all an opportunity to listen to the customer and improve relevancy. If you’re not helpful to consumers, if you’re not of value to consumers… why do you exist, why are you here?” — Marc Schwartz


How to Lay the Foundation for Experimentation

Before you launch your first experiment, you want to master the basics and lay the groundwork for an effective experimentation program that will grow with you through your digital expansion. That means:

  1. Setting meaningful goals and defining your metrics.
  2. Defining scalable, repeatable processes for identifying and prioritizing opportunities.
  3. Mapping your existing customer journeys, defining your ideal customer journeys, and identifying gaps and opportunities.

1. Setting Your Goals

The lack of a transaction makes setting goals and defining metrics more tricky in healthcare than in other industries. Often, it means there are more customer journeys to account for, which means more conversion points to optimize. Take Swedish Medical Center, for example. Here’s their current “Find a Doctor” page:


The Swedish Medical Center “Find a Doctor” funnel.


From here, a consumer might:

  1. Use the search function to find a doctor based on a number of different inputs.
  2. Find a doctor based on a single filter (e.g. “Specialty”) below.
  3. Call the 1-800 number to have a representative help you find a doctor over the phone.

Each of those three options leads the consumer down a separate customer journey to achieve the same result: finding the right doctor.

In e-commerce, on the other hand, you would have a more structured, linear funnel. The consumer visits the product page, they add the product to their cart, they enter their shipping and payment information, they review the order, they complete the purchase.

You need to get aligned on what’s important to you as an organization from the beginning. Is it as simple as the number of appointments booked? Is it how quickly visitors are able to book their appointment?


You need to get aligned on what’s important to you as an organization from the beginning before you start running any experiments.



Ask yourself a few questions before moving on to step two:

  1. What metric restrictions exist currently? What’s feasible and what’s not? What will be feasible in the future? What’s worth investing in now to make things easier and more reliable in the future? For example, only some doctors have online appointment booking enabled on Swedish and Swedish has no control over the availability of the doctors.
  2. How comfortable are you with directional metrics and data? What’s your risk tolerance?

2. Defining Your Processes

Amateurs rely on hacks and tactics. They throw opinion after opinion at the wall to see what sticks. And sure, occasionally, they might get a big win. But they won’t know why or how to replicate the success. Instead, they’ll simply continue to throw more ideas at the wall.

A better way to approach experimentation is through repeatable, scalable processes that prioritize insights and learning. Pros design experiments in a way that brings value, regardless of whether or not the experiment won.

At WiderFunnel, we use the Infinity Optimization Process to generate experiment ideas and lift revenue:

WiderFunnel’s Infinity Optimization Process™


On the green “Explore” side, we gather quantitative and qualitative data to generate informed experiment ideas. That means looking at old experiment results, diving into digital analytics, conducting user testing, interviewing consumers, etc. On the blue “Validate” side, we:

  • Prioritize experiment ideas from the “Explore” side.
  • Create hypotheses for our high priority experiment ideas.
  • Develop an experimentation plan and design the experiment.
  • Loop in UX/UI designers.
  • Conduct quality assurance for the experiment.
  • Run the experiment.
  • Analyze the results.

Note the infinity loop surrounding both sides! Experiment results feed back into the green “Explore” side.

Also, notice how the “Explore” side revolves around the airplane icon in the middle? That’s our LIFT Model®:

WiderFunnel’s LIFT Model details the 6 conversion factors.

By focusing on these six conversion factors when evaluating your website and conducting research, you will focus your efforts and avoid subjective opinion (as much as humanly possible, anyway).

We’re using this to drive smarter hypotheses that fuel experimentation. Research and experimentation go hand-in-hand. All of the data we collect… all of the website click data, all of the heatmap data, all of the feedback from visitors—we use every data source we can come up with to get to the heart and into the mind of the consumer. Then we drive experiments using that information.

— Marc Schwartz

The optimization and experimentation process looks a bit different at every company and you will undoubtedly end up tweaking it to suit your unique needs. What matters is that you’re relying on a process that you can run through repeatedly. Experimentation is the act of consistently, purposefully mining for minerals, not striking gold.

3. Mapping Your Existing Customer Journeys & Identifying the Opportunities

Now it’s time to map your existing customer journeys. What’s the current state of your website (or other digital asset)? Here are a few questions you should ask yourself at this stage:

  • Where are visitors arriving from?
  • What do visitors come here to do?
  • What am I asking them to do here?
  • How many steps stand between them and their end goal?
  • How many of them make it to step one, step two, step three, etc.?

This is where the LIFT Model comes in handy. You can evaluate the current state based on those six conversion factors as well: value proposition, relevance, clarity, urgency, distraction, and anxiety.

Using Behavioral Science to Gain a Deeper Understanding

Providence works with WiderFunnel’s behavioral science team to conduct in-depth research that illuminates the existing customer journey.

In one study, 10 participants were asked to complete four key tasks (find a doctor, find a location, schedule an appointment, and register for a class) on a Providence-owned website and on competitive websites.

The study had two parts:

  • Part 1: Task-based, unmoderated interview.
  • Part 2: Self-reflection questions. For example:
    • How easy or difficult was it to complete this task?
    • How would you rate your experience completing this task?

WiderFunnel’s team of behavioral scientists then examined all of the video recordings, and assigned ratings based on their observations of friction and ease. They also conducted a sentiment analysis based on what respondents were saying while attempting to complete each task.

Watching these 10 participants try to use their website has been invaluable to the Providence team. Seeing (and hearing) pain points, clarity gaps, distractions, etc. helped map their existing journeys and visualize their ideal journeys, effectively fuelling their experimentation pipeline.


Once you have a firm understanding of the current state, you can move on to mapping your ideal customer journeys. Your job now is to imagine how you can get your visitors to what they want as quickly as possible. In other words, your job is to improve the user experience and your customer journeys.


Your job as a marketer in healthcare is to imagine how you can get your visitors to what they want as quickly as possible.



An alternative to The Swedish Medical Center’s original “Find a Doctor” funnel gives consumers the chance to “Book an Appointment”.

What does your research tell you about what your visitors want and how effectively you currently deliver that value to them? Are there any technical limitations or gaps that you need to solve for to bring your ideal state to life? Essentially, what opportunities exist for you to close the gap between these two states? Those opportunities are the breeding ground for your data-informed experiment ideas.

What results have you seen because of experimentation?

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in consumers moving through our doctor funnel and our location funnel. We’ve seen that we’ve eased the way of the consumer, which has led to big learnings overall.

We’re always looking for opportunities to anticipate intent and then meet that intent. Experimentation has helped us understand where we’ve gotten intent wrong. It helps solidify our thinking and also inspire our thinking.” — Marc Schwartz


Maybe your findings indicate you should experiment with something as simple as fewer steps, a shorter customer journey. Or maybe they indicate you should experiment with Tealium to provide your phone representatives with live, anonymous consumer data. Whatever the case may be, you’re ready to turn your opportunities into hypotheses, your hypotheses into experiments, your experiments into insights, and your insights into revenue.

Examples of customer journey improvements

We’ve improved Providence’s mobile hospital pages to increase engagement with nearly every action a user can take on that page, from finding additional information, getting directions, or calling the hospital itself.

In another experiment on Providence’s location search funnel, improvements to the user interface (UI) dramatically improved engagement with all elements on the page. We were able to reduce frustrating back-and-forth visits to the second, third, fourth page of results, indicating a much better overall user experience.

Tackling Digital Disruption with Experimentation

Digital disruption isn’t coming, it has arrived. (It’s even had a few years to unpack and make itself at home.) Here’s what healthcare companies can do to tackle it head-on:

  1. Recognize experimentation as the crux.
  2. Use the Infinity Optimization Process as inspiration to define relevant internal experimentation processes ahead of time.
  3. Map all existing customer journeys.
  4. Map all ideal customer journeys.
  5. Plug the gaps between those two states (existing and ideal) into the experimentation processes defined in step three.

The great thing about experimentation is that it’s a positive feedback loop. The more experiments you run, the higher the quality of your future experiments. It’s simply a matter of getting started—before you’re left behind.

Are you a marketer in the healthcare space, facing digital disruption? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts, challenges, questions, and strategies in the comments section below.

Đào Tạo Digital Marketing Toàn Diện - FOOGLESEO's curator insight, July 1, 11:19 PM
Digital transformation is an opportunity to accelerate health care performance by lowering cost and improving quality of care. At an economic scale, business models can be strengthened and disruptive innovation models enabled. Corporations should look for collaborations with start-up companies to keep investment costs at bay and off the balance sheet. At the same time, the regulatory knowledge of established corporations might help [startups] to kick off digital disruption in the health care sector.
best online pharmacy no prescription's curator insight, July 5, 2:53 AM

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How to share patient stories in your digital marketing strategy

It is so important to practice active listening with your patients, to understand their journey and what they have been through. Start documenting when the
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20 Instagram and Twitter Accounts for Nurses (Plus Hashtags!) -

20 Instagram and Twitter Accounts for Nurses (Plus Hashtags!) - | Social Media and Healthcare |

Nurses Use Social Media. Now more than ever nurses are using social media for fun, education and community. Are you wondering which nurses to follow on Instagram and Twitter? Here are a few of the best hashtags and accounts that offer a dose of fun and education for nurses:


The magic of Instagram is in the hashtags. Unlike Twitter, which has a 140 charter limit when posting, Instagram lets you use up to thirty hashtags per post. If you need to locate people in certain niches or be found yourself be sure to use pertinent hashtags. Some of the best hashtags for nurses on Instagram are:

  • #nurse
  • #nursing
  • #nurselife
  • #nursepractitioner
  • #instanursing
  • #nurseproblems
  • #nursingschoolproblems
  • #aprn
  • #nursesrock
  • #nurselife

Be sure to follow these accounts on Instagram:


1. @nursinglol


With over 13,000 followers, this account is full of lol worthy nursing memes that nurses and nursing students can relate to. @nursinglol points out funny and comical moments in nursing.


2. @nursesofinstagram


This account has over 22,000 followers with inspirational and funny posts for nurses. They occasionally feature cute fashionable scrubs, and build nursing community by highlighting other nurses. Use #nursesofinstagram.


3. @northeasternnursing


@northeasternnursing is the account of Northeastern University’s Bouve College of Health Sciences. They post inspirational quotes and blog articles from their school blog. One posting strategy that this account does, that is notably different from others, is that they feature famous nurses.


4. @thekatieduke


Real life nurse and TV figure Katie Duke, from show NY Med on ABC, has a following of 18,000 on Instagram. The signature #dealwithit on her posts offers a glimpse into this empowered nurse’s personality.


5. @instanursing


Nurse Richard Soto RN’s mission of his Instagram account is keep nurses sharp and educated. He features tips and humor on his account to that is interesting while being educational.




Despite Instagram’s rapid growth, Twitter has the large established community of nurses. Like Instagram, Twitter strength lies in the hashtags. Here are popular nurse hashtags on Twitter:

  • #healthcare
  • #nursecollab
  • #nurseproblems
  • #rnchat
  • #nurseentrepreneur
  • #hcr
  • #nurse
  • #nurseup
  • #ptsafety

6. @nursefriendly


Andrew Lopez, RN, is a nurse, social media consultant and founder of the #nurseup Facebook group. If it is happening online and in healthcare, Andrew has it covered. A prolific Tweeter, who knows the ins and outs of social media and healthcare.


7. @katykatztc


Katy has an MBA, and is a marketer and blogger. She blogs and curates healthcare related content across several social media platforms. Check out her feed to find some of her great blog articles.


8. @dbarrath


Debra Barrath, MN is an international coach and consultant with over two decades of healthcare experience whose clients includes governments, non-profits, and healthcare systems. Her Twitter feed is full of healthcare and leadership related goodness!


9. @AWhiteWilliams


Angelique W. Williams is a Child Care Health Consultant, nurse educator, and faith community nurse. Tweeting from New Orleans on matters of healthcare, her account is definitely worth following


10. @thenurseteacher


The Nurse Teacher strives to share her passion with the next generation. She is a consultant specializing in legal issues, critical care, and nursing education. She tweets about nurse education while keeping it fun.


11. @vmudgett


Vivien Mudgett RNC, CEO of Healthcare Leadership Coalition is a speaker and consultant. She Tweets about healthcare reform, policy, and leadership. This account is great for staying informed about serious issues in healthcare.


12. @NurseDailyblog


The Nursing Daily twitter account is connected to the blog. A daily post from a critical care RN about issues and humor in nursing. She is keeping it real in nursing without being crass.


13. @Ashleigh_RN


Ashleigh’s twitter feed is connected to her blog. As an oncology nurse she tweets about health can cancer related topics. Using her social media skills for health awareness, Ashleigh encourages others to do the same.


15. @CapraGarrisonRN


Capra is the CEO of Pedagogy Inc. an online continuing education sites for healthcare professionals. Her nurse education network is extensive and she tweets CE related content.


16. @Nursingstress


A nursing student Tweeting about her journey through nursing school. With an impressive 21k followers, she Tweets about nursing school issues that even a seasoned nurse can identity with.


17. @ScrubsandPearls


An anonymous nurse that offers #AdviceToBabyNursingStudents in the form of tweets. She dishes out advice about school and the real world of nursing. She also micro blogs advice to nursing students on Tumblr.


18. @Tiffany_Kelley


Tiffany is the founder of Nightingale Apps. As a Phd nurse, informaticist, innovator, educator, and writer, her Twitter feed is filled with a variety or nursing and business tweets.


19. @AJAndersonRN


Amanda Anderson, RN Twitter account is connected to her blog and her mission is I want nurses to start talking. Her blog This Nurse Wonders has commentary on different issues in nursing.


20. @theyoganurse


Founder of YogaNursing™ and a RN, author, and speaker that empowers nurses to become stress and pain relief experts. Follow her on Twitter for all things yoga and nursing. She offers a great program for nurses that would like to start their own nurse yoga business.


Would you like to network with more nurses? A quick and easy strategy to find other nurses on Instagram and Twitter is to follow nurses that the people on these lists are following and engaging with online. Or, if any of these people have public Twitter Lists, this would be the ultimate way to find other nurses to network with.


Do you wish that you would have been featured in the lists above? Go ahead, leave your Twitter and Instagam profile links in the comments below.

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Evaluating the predictability of medical conditions from social media posts

Evaluating the predictability of medical conditions from social media posts | Social Media and Healthcare |

Over two billion people regularly share information about their daily lives over social media, often revealing who they are, including their sentiments, personality, demographics, and population behavior. [14] Because such content is constantly being created outside the context of health care systems and clinical studies, it can reveal disease markers in patients’ daily lives that are otherwise invisible to clinicians and medical researchers.

Social media content has been shown to contain valuable health signals, though mostly at the population level. For example, Twitter has been used to surveil disease outbreaks[57], predict heart disease mortality rates[8], and to monitor public sentiment about health insurance [9]. However, studies that link social media activity and medical diagnoses at the individual level are rare [10] and limited to connections with self-reported mental health over limited samples[1112], not validated with health records.

We linked consenting patients’ electronic medical records (EMRs) with their social media data,[13] to ask two novel questions: 1) Can we predict individuals’ medical diagnoses from language posted on social media? and 2) Can we identify specific markers of disease from social media posts?

Fig 1 depicts our study design and Table 1 lists participant characteristics. We analyzed 949,530 Facebook status updates containing 20,248,122 words across 999 participants whose posts contained at least 500 words. Using natural language processing [14] each participant’s language was encoded as a 700 dimensional patient language encoding (i.e., we characterize each user’s social media language by 700 numbers). Diagnoses from participant’s electronic medical records were grouped into 21 categories according to the Elixhauser Comorbidity Index [15] and prevalence within our sample (all categories had at least 30 participants). Data selection procedures are detailed in the supplement (S1 Table).

Fig 1. General study design.

We extract a patient language encoding from the words and phrases within an individual’s Facebook status updates. The three word clouds shown represent the words most prevalent in three example dimensions of the encoding. We then learn predictive models and identify predictive markers for the medical condition categories in the medical records.

Table 1. Medical condition prevalence and participant characteristics.

Materials and methods

We evaluated whether consenting patients’ Facebook posts could be used to predict their diagnoses evident in their electronic medical record (EMR). This study was approved by the University of Pennsylvania Institutional Review Board.


Participants were drawn from the ongoing Social Mediome study which began recruitment in March 2014 [13]. Adult patients seeking care in an urban academic health system were invited to share their past social media activity and EMR data. Of all participants enrolled through October 2015 and agreeing to share their Facebook data (N = 1772), we retrieved status updates up to 5 years prior, ranging from March 2009 through October 2015. We then limited our analyses to those with at least 500 words across all of their Facebook status updates (N = 999) as it is found to be a reliable threshold for language analysis of user outcomes. [16]. All data collected from Facebook was from consenting patients and not from anyone in their network, and consistent with the terms of service of the platform.

From the health system’s EMRs, we retrieved demographics (age, sex, and race) and prior diagnoses (by International Classification of Diseases [ICD-9] codes). We grouped ICD-9 codes by Elixhauser Comorbidity Index categories [15],and added categories for medical condition codes not reflected in the index but prevalent in the sample (e.g., pregnancy-related diagnoses) for a total of 41 categories. We then filtered the list of medical condition categories to those attributed to at least 30 patients in the cohort, resulting in 21 categories which are listed in Table 1 along with their ICD-9 codes. Of 1143 patients who shared both social media and EMR data, 999 (87%) had an adequate number of status updates (at least 20).

Language analysis

We analyzed entire timelines (i.e. all prior posts) of messages posted on Facebook by participants who consented to participate in this study. The medical conditions were extracted from the electronic health records associated with each patient. For the analysis, we set a threshold of >500 words per user and each medical condition had to have at least 30 participants. Our approach was to find topics significantly related to medical conditions through statistical analysis instead of selecting specific posts based on search terms which have high noise. We looked at all posts and did not assign posts as health related or not to avoid this noise.

We extracted all words (unigrams) and word pairs (bigrams: two neighboring words—e.g. “sick of”) from each participant’s status updates. We then grouped similar words into 200 “topics” using Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA), a probabilistic technique which automatically clusters words by looking at other words with which they often co-occur [14]. Rather than selecting and grouping words manually, this automatic approach yields topics that may contain slang, misspellings, and variations on contractions which themselves are often predictive [3]. LDA gives us a posterior probability of a topic given a word, p(topic|word), which we use to give each user a topic probability score, p(topic|participant), by multiplying with their probability of mentioning the word:

We generated word clouds to visualize topics using Python (e.g., Fig 2). For each topic, we chose the top 15 words, according to the posterior probability of a word given a topic (p(word|topic)), and scaled the size of the word proportionate to its rank (largest implies most prevalent). The shade of the words is randomly jittered in order to improve readability but has no meaning.

Fig 2.

A. Diagnoses Prediction Strength of Demographics and Facebook. This figure represents overall accuracies of Facebook and demographic models at predicting diagnoses. Accuracies were measured using the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), a measure of discrimination. The category “Facebook alone” represents predictions based only on Facebook language. “Demographics alone” represents predictions from age, sex, and race. “Demographics & Facebook” represents predictions based on a combination of demographics and Facebook posts. Diagnoses are ordered by the difference in AUC between Facebook alone and demographics alone. For the top 10 categories, Facebook predictions are significantly more accurate than those from demographics (p < .05), and for the top 17 plus iron deficiency anemia, Facebook & demographics are significantly more accurate than Facebook alone (p < .05). * Pregnancy analyses only included females. B. Markers (most predictive topics) per diagnosis. This figure illustrates top markers (clusters of similar words from social media language) most predictive of selected diagnoses categories. Word size within topic represents rank order prevalence in the topic. Expletives were edited and represented by stars (i.e. *). All topics shown, except for those with digestive abdominal symptoms, were individually predictive beyond the demographics (multi-test correct p < .05). (Full results in supplement [S2 Table]).

While topics provide a coarse-grained set of linguistic features, previous research work in human language analysis has found including individual unigrams and bigrams improves predictive model performance.[1] We included features for the most frequent 20,000 unigrams and bigrams. However, with so many features and only 999 observations, model overfit was a concern [17]. We reduced the word and word pairs to only the top 500 according to their family-wise error rate (alpha) with the given medical conditions using only the training portion within cross-validation (see 10-fold cross-validation below). These 500 word and word pair features with the 200 topics formed our 700 dimensional patient language encoding.

Predicting diagnoses

For each medical condition, we built three predictive models associating Facebook posts with EMR-based diagnoses: Model 1 used Facebook language (unigrams, bigrams, and topics). Model 2 used the demographics of age, sex, and race. Model 3 used both demographics and Facebook language. For each model, we used statistical learning techniques from the field of machine learning [17]. For model 1, which included hundreds of predictors, we used extremely random trees (ERT) [18], variant of random forests which are well suited to handle many predictors. Within each ERT, we used 1,000 estimators with a Gini coefficient as criteria for split points. For model 2, we fit an L2-penalized (ridge) logistic regression, an ideal model when there are relatively few predictors (to confirm, we also ran the ERT approach and found all accuracies were the same or lower). Model 3 was an ensemble of models 1 and 2 created by an average of the predicted probabilities from each model, weighted by the AUC of the model over the training setwhere AUC1 and AUC2 correspond respectively to the training set AUCs for models (1) and (2).

This approach compares the predictive ability of Facebook language (model 1) to that of demographics (model 2) as well as the incremental contribution of Facebook language to demographics (comparing model 3 to model 2). We measured predictive ability using the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), a measure of discrimination. A value of 0.5 is expected due to chance; a value of 1 indicates perfect prediction. To evaluate controlling for model overfit, we measured AUC with 10-fold cross-validation [17]: we split our sample into 10 equal-sized, non-overlapping, and stratified partitions, fit models over 9 partitions (including the selection of the 500 unigram and bigram features), and tested the fit model on the remaining held-out partition. This process repeats ten iterations such that each partition is used as a the held-out test partition once. We then used a Monte Carlo permutation test [19]with 100,000 iterations to calculate significance of the difference between any two AUCs, correcting for multiple hypothesis testing using the Benjamini-Hochberg False-discovery rate procedure [20]. Testing out of sample as facilitated from 10-fold cross-validation and correcting for multiple tests was key to insuring a rigorous and fair evaluation of predictive accuracies.

Prediction accuracy was evaluated using the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), a measure of discrimination in which a value of 0.5 is expected due to chance, 0.6 is considered moderate, and above 0.7 is considered a strong prediction from a behavior [1718]. Most variables associated with medical conditions tend to have AUCs which fall between .50 and .85 [19], but often include variables derived from invasive tests. As a reference [19], within our sample, body-mass index predicted diabetes with an AUC of .64. Holding to this standard, we consider an AUC of 0.65 and above as strong.

Identifying medical condition markers

Our approach to identifying medical condition markers was similar to that of predicting diagnoses but rather than including all language variables in a model, we considered only one topic at a time. We evaluated each individual topic’s predictive ability by comparing three AUCs: 1) from usage scores for the topic alone, 2) from a logistic regression model [20] over age, sex, and race, and 3) from a logistic regression model over age, sex, race, plus the topic. In this way, we focus simply on one topic at a time in order to illuminate its relationship with the medical condition categories. AUCs were determined out-of-sample when using multiple predictors (i.e. 2 and 3) and a permutation test was used to assess significance of individual topics. We used word clouds to display topics—visual depictions of the most prevalent words in each topic where each word’s size corresponds to its contribution.

We also tested whether we could empirically identify individual markers of diagnoses in the daily social media language of patients. To do this, we considered a portion of the 700 dimensional language encoding which includes 200 topics [14], or sets of similar words (e.g. pain, hospital, blood). We then followed a similar approach as our overall predictive analysis, except treating each individual topic as a potential marker and building models from: 1) usage scores for the topic alone, 2) demographics, and 3) both demographics and the topic. AUCs were determined out-of-sample [20] when using multiple predictors (i.e. cases 1 and 3) and a permutation test [21] was used to assess significance of individual topics along with the Benjamini-Hochberg procedure to control for false discoveries [22]. Further details are provided in the supplement (S1 Text).

In order to explain the predictive ability of a topic in other terms, we listed a couple examples of the increase in likelihood between participants in the top quartile of mentioning a topic and those in the bottom quartile of mentioning the same topic. For example, considering mental health conditions, patients in the top quartile of mentioning the want wanted give ask topic were 4.1 times (95% CI: [1.3, 26.6]) more likely to have been diagnosed with psychoses than those in the bottom quartile of mentioning that same topic. For these calculations, we used maximum likelihood estimates for the mean probability that one had the disease in both the top and bottom quartile and then divided the two probability estimates to get the multiple (e.g. 4.1 times). Finally, we used a bootstrap resampling procedure [20] with 10,000 iterations to calculate 95% confidence intervals for the differences in likelihoods.

All statistical analyses were performed in Python and the exact code used is available as part of the Differential Language Analysis ToolKit (

Results and discussion

We identified that: 1) all 21 medical condition categories were predictable from Facebook language beyond chance (multi-test corrected p < .05), 2) 18 categories were better predicted from a combination of demographics and Facebook language than by demographics alone (multi-test corrected p < .05), and 3) 10 categories were better predicted by Facebook language than by the standard demographic factors (age, sex, and race). These results are depicted in Fig 2 which shows the accuracies of the three predictive models across all 21 diagnoses categories.

The medical condition categories for which Facebook statuses show the largest prediction accuracy gains over demographics include diabetes (AUC = .74), pregnancy (AUC = .79; females only) and the mental health categories anxiety (AUC = .66), psychoses (AUC = .58) and depression (AUC = .64).

Fig 2 depicts the individual language markers of diagnoses for selected categories that showed the highest predictive power over and above demographics (p < .05). Many topic markers of diagnoses reveal characteristic behavior or symptoms. For example, alcohol abuse was marked by a topic mentioning drinkdrunkbottle. Topics expressing hostility (e.g. peopledumbbulls**tb**ches) were the predominant marker of drug abuse and also marked psychoses. Topics most associated with depression suggested somatization (e.g. stomachheadhurt) and emotional distress (e.g. paincryingtears). Other markers may suggest socio-environmental variables associated with disease risk; for example, diabetes was predicted by religious language (e.g. godfamilypray) even when controlling for demographic variables. This does not mean that everyone mentioning these topics has the condition, but just that those mentioning it are more likely to have it. For example, the top 25% of patients mentioning the (godfamilypray) topic were 15 times (95% CI: [3.16, inf]) more likely to have been diagnosed with diabetes than those in the bottom 25% of mentioning that same topic. This association may be specific to our patient cohort and suggests the potential to explore the role of religion in diabetes management or control.[2123].

Just as contemporary biobanking aims to collect biosamples that reflect the genome and to link individual genetic information to phenotypic manifestations of health, social media data can be conceived as a “social mediome” whose individual expression can also be banked in a registry and linked to more phenotypic markers of health and disease [10]. Similar to visualizations of gene expression, as depicted in Fig 3, patterns of language can be associated with diagnoses to reveal similarities and difference between diagnoses.

Fig 3. Differential expression of topics across medical conditions within the social mediome.

Analogous to studying the differential expression of a genome, topics of the social mediome can be explored differentially across diagnoses. The 21 rows represent all medical condition categories of the study ordered using hierarchical clustering while the 200 columns indicate the predictive strength[24] (measure by area under the ROC curve) of each potential language marker (topics). Blue topics were more likely to be used by patients with the given medical condition and orange topics were less likely to be mentioned. Medical condition categories each have unique patterns of markers. These encodings allow for the prediction of diagnoses and identification of diagnoses with similar patterns of markers.

Like genomic data banking, the power of social media language to predict diagnoses raises parallel questions about privacy, informed consent, and data ownership. Social media data banking has the advantage that physical biospecimens do not need to be collected—access and consent can occur electronically and remotely, for example by sharing a Twitter handle or one-click authorization of a Facebook application. The extra ease with which social media access can be obtained creates extra obligations to ensure that consent for this kind of use is understood and intended. Efforts are needed to ensure users are informed about how their data can be used, and how they can recall such data. At the same time, such privacy concerns should be understood in the context of existing health privacy risks. It is doubtful that social media users fully understand the extent to which their health is already revealed through activities captured digitally[25]. For example, applications to use social media data-derived risk profiles to price car insurance have already been tested [26].

We found that the language people use in Facebook is predictive of their health conditions reported in an EMR, often more so than typically available demographic data. Although some early research has linked social media language use with health [111227] this is the first study to the best of our understanding to do so at the level of the patient with EMR data.

Social media information has the advantage that it often has a built in communication channel back to patients. For example, Facebook now allows users to flag posts within their network that they think may suggest suicidal ideation. Facebook then anonymously provides resources for individuals at risk. A similar patient-centered approach could be applied to a broader set of conditions allowing individuals and their networks (for those who opt-in) to have early insights about their health-related digital footprints. These considerations reveal simultaneous promise and challenge in banking and mining the social mediome and echo similar debates that have arisen around use of the human genome, including logistical and ethical challenges with recontact and communicating risk to patients as predictive ability expands, often in unanticipated ways.

This study has several limitations. Constellations of predictive words often do not represent causal mechanisms and the findings are correlational. However, in revealing what people think, feel, and do, social media patterns capture emotional, cognitive, behavioral and environmental markers that have substantial predictive validity and are otherwise fairly elusive to researchers and clinicians. We equally weighted recent and remote posts in our analyses; adjustment for recency might reveal different or stronger associations. Also, predictive associations of language with disease may vary across populations, requiring rederivation of language markers in different sub-populations that may point to specific, ecologically-appropriate considerations. Further, we utilized logistic regression and extremely randomized trees as modeling algorithms for their interpretability and simplicity considering the number of samples in our study. Prior work has demonstrated, transfer learning from pre-trained text-based multi-layer neural network architectures could lead to higher predictive performance [28]. Also, the participants in this study represented a convenience sample (of primarily African American women) who were receiving care at an urban academic medical center, and not representative of the general population. Prior work has shown that users vary in the amount and diversity of self-representation across different online platforms[1629]. Future studies could compare difference in health related information disclosed by users of different demographic populations and on other social media platforms (e.g. Twitter).

Social media, like genomic information, offers enormous promise to personalize health care. This work is complementary to a growing body of literature using big data analytics for EMR data [3032] and provides new insights for applying machine learning to find signal about health in non-healthcare generated data (e.g. social media).

People’s personality, mental state, and health behaviors are all reflected in their social media and all have tremendous impact on health. This is the first study to show that language on Facebook can predict diagnoses within people’s health record, revealing new opportunities to personalize care and understand how patients’ ordinary daily lives relate to their health

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Why health professionals need to be cautious on social media

For health professionals, posting a single negative comment to their Facebook profiles may hinder their credibility with current or potential clients, a new University of Guelph study reveals.

The findings have reimbursement implications, as the healthcare industry is becoming ever more consumer-centric, and prospective patients increasingly use the internet to screen health professionals before deciding where to get care.

As the line between personal and professional can easily be confused when professionals use social media to promote themselves, U of G researchers investigated Facebook factors that may affect people's perceptions of professionalism.

They found posting just one subtle comment expressing workplace frustration was enough for people to view someone as a less credible health professional.



Published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the study involved more than 350 participants who viewed a mock Facebook profile and rated the profile owner's credibility, then rated their own willingness to become a client of that profile owner.

The researchers tested factors including the identified gender of the Facebook profile owner, whether they listed their profession as a veterinarian or medical physician and whether their profile included a posting of an ambiguous workday comment or a comment expressing frustration.

The ambiguous comment posted read: "Started with new electronic patient charts today...interesting experience for sure J."

The workday frustration comment read: "What is it with some people?? I know I only went through 9 years of university...but really, I know what I'm talking about...yeesh!!"

The only factor that influenced viewers' perception of the profile owner's professionalism was the single workday frustration comment. On a scale from 0 to 100, the profile with the negative workday comment was rated 11 points lower (56.7) than the one with the ambiguous workday comment (67.9).

Credibility ratings were determined based on participants' scoring of 16 personality adjectives under the categories of competence, caring and trustworthiness. Profile owners with lower credibility ratings were also deemed by participants as less professional.

Even if a health professional refrains from posting this type of negative comment on their promotional page, potential clients can easily find their personal page online, the authors said.



Facebook isn't the only corner of the internet that can potentially affect health consumers' care decisions. Yelp is proving to be a considerable factor in how patients choose their care, with many online reviewers taking to the site to praise -- or excoriate -- providers based on things like their communication and care quality.

"Consumer centricity," as it's been labeled, is required to win in today's era of active consumers. Consolidating health systems and commoditized plans and medicines means greater consumer engagement is required so that consumers select their system, their plan and their drug.

And funders of healthcare are demanding greater value of systems and drug manufacturers, requiring consumer centricity to get people to change their behavior and, in turn, drive down healthcare costs.

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