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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Who Are Nanoinflouencers & Why Your Practice Needs Them!

Who Are Nanoinflouencers & Why Your Practice Needs Them! | Social Media and Healthcare |

When you put a name to a trend it can suddenly go viral. Take the concept of the Nanoinfluencer, for example. A recent New York Times article talked about the latest marketing scheme that companies have become queued into. Incentivizing everyday people with high engagement on social media to help reach their network of friends and relatives, something we’ve been talking about for years.

What’s old is new again

On social media the concept of finding influencers to help peddle your wares has been around forever. This is where advertisers reach out to people with millions of followers and hire them to talk about their products. The idea is that if these trendsetters are identifying with your company on social, your brand will benefit from the boost. If it sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Celebrity endorsements have been around almost since the beginning of the modern ad age.

The problem is that social media Influencers – like celebrities – are expensive and selective in who they will endorse. So marketers tried to find people who were a little lower on the social media ladder, people with thousands, not millions of followers. They were called Microinfluencers. This worked for a while. Now, marketers want to make use of people who are popular in their networks but without the huge reach of other influencers – people who may only have hundreds of followers but who have high engagement within their little corner of the social media universe.

Sound familiar?

If you’ve read our blog, heard us speak, or read one of our bylined articles in the top orthodontic industry magazines, then you know that one of the pillars of a good digital marketing program is to engage with people who are the neighbors and friends of your current patients so they can become aware of your services. That’s right, people on Facebook who have a few hundred friends have always been our clients’ target influencers on social media. So you can say that we have been in the practice of finding and connecting with Nanoinfluencers for our clients’ practices from day one.

Nanoinfluencer marketing is not rocket science, it’s common sense.

In study after study, people have already expressed that they trust their peers as much or more than an expert. So if you can get a patient to become a brand champion of your practice or sharing the content that you put out there then you’re marketing program is making good use of the Nanoinfluencers in your community. Remember, more and more people are going to social media first when researching where to take their business. You need to make sure you engage with your community’s Nanoinfluencers to reach more people and convert more patients.

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Diabulimia patients to be given NHS social media therapy

Diabulimia patients to be given NHS social media therapy | Social Media and Healthcare |

NHS patients with a rare eating disorder will be offered therapy to combat the damaging effects of social media.

A new service, including coaching on how to cope with body images promoted online, will be offered to people with diabulimia, NHS England said.

The condition affects people with Type 1 diabetes, who restrict their insulin intake in order to lose weight.

Diabulimia is not medically recognised as an eating disorder, but can lead to complications including blindness and amputations.

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

These pilots are another important step forward but the fact is the NHS can’t do it all

Claire Murdoch, NHS England


It is thought to affect as many as two in five women with Type 1 diabetes and one in 10 men with the condition at some point, and is most common among people aged 15 to 30, according to Diabetes UK.

The condition is “often well hidden” by those living with it and “difficult to spot”, the charity said.

“Diabulimia is a serious eating disorder which – without the right clinical and mental health support – can have devastating consequences, such as stroke, kidney failure and blindness,” Libby Dowling, senior clinical adviser of Diabetes UK, said.

“It can also be fatal.”

She added: “These pilots are so important and we hope their success will inspire even more investment across England.”


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Diabetes UK

We're raising awareness of #diabulimia this month. If you're a healthcare professional, knowing how to support your patients when they show signs of an eating disorder can make a big impact. Read our tips and ideas now:  @kcldpsych

See Diabetes UK's other Tweets

NHS England said the service, which will offer joined-up treatment for diabetes and mental health in London and the South Coast, comes amid growing awareness about the condition.

Patients referred will be offered daily structured meal plans and support to manage their insulin intake, as well as therapy.

A trial will begin later this year and be rolled out more widely if successful.

“Body image pressure is helping to drive ever increasing numbers of young people to the health service for treatment and support and while diabulimia is rare it can be just as deadly as other more common eating disorders,” Claire Murdoch, national director for mental health at NHS England, said.

“These pilots are another important step forward but the fact is the NHS can’t do it all – wider society needs take a long hard look what more we can do together to protect young people’s well being.”

Dr Dasha Nicholls, chairwoman of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ eating disorders faculty, said: “Because diabetes forces you to focus on what you eat, it is not unusual for that to get tangled up with feelings about food, weight and body image.

“But in the case of diabetes, that can become dangerous very quickly because of the impact on blood sugar levels.

“The development of a new service which helps people with this worrying condition is extremely welcome.”

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Physicians who don't play the social media game may be left behind

Physicians who don't play the social media game may be left behind | Social Media and Healthcare |

The internet truly is a wondrous invention.

It has evened the playing field with a wide swath of people now having access to information that used to be possessed in the hands of only the elite few not too long ago.

However, as with most things, there can be downsides associated with any tool of progress.



Yelp is a powerful social tool that allows individuals to share experiences, good or bad, so that the masses can glean useful tidbits on a particular establishment.

Great Yelp reviews, especially from the so-called, “social influencers,” can drive a large amount of traffic to a restaurant for example.


Scathing Yelp reviews can, conversely, have owners hearing crickets when their doors are open.

I admit that I have had Yelp reviews influence my decision on where to eat many a time, especially if I am in an unfamiliar place.
However, hijacking a line from Uncle Ben in Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

And unfortunately, this unchecked power wielded by everyday citizens can indeed tarnish the original noble intent.


There are instances of business owners getting extorted with the threats of false negative reviews on Yelp.

Other patrons have threatened restaurants with negative reviews if not seated promptly.

“That’s great, Xrayvsn. But what does this have to do with medicine?”


That is a fair question, indeed.

I only have a two-word response: Press Ganey.

For the uninitiated, Press Ganey is a company that has created a survey aimed toward patients so that they can rate their health care experience.

Much like Yelp, patients can essentially grade their physicians for each encounter they have with the medical system.

The premise behind this survey is to create transparency in a business that typically shield’s itself from a consumer’s prying eyes and holds the medical professionals accountable.

The main issue at hand is that these patient survey scores have an impact on the reimbursement formulas that the payors use to compensate physicians.

Have a low enough score for patient satisfaction, and your wallet will feel the impact as you will be getting less money for a patient encounter that someone who has a higher score would.

Afraid a patient seeking pain medications would leave a scathing review if you do not cave in and prescribe them?

No worries.

Just prescribe what the patient wants, and you can be assured of a 5-star rating.

And if you refuse?

Then you could suffer the wrath of an angry patient.

Doing what is right and justified in medicine may incur financial and reputation penalties for the physician if the patient feels he or she is being under-treated according to whatever online source they might have stumbled upon.

And like the Yelp examples above, this may unwittingly create medical practices that do more harm than good.

There is also the potential for survey bias.

What do I mean?

We have all seen vehicles in front of us with the “How’s My Driving? Call XXX-XXX-XXXX” sticker.

Question: How many of us have called that number to report the driver is doing a good job?

Now if that driver flips the bird at you while cutting you off in traffic would you be more inclined to call that number?

I know I sure would.

Patients who have received bad medical care, perceived or otherwise, are more likely to vent their frustrations on the survey while patients who have exemplary or even just standard care may forgo answering the survey altogether.

[As an aside I would like to tell of the following experience that drives home this point:

In my commute to work, after some recent construction work had been going on, I noticed that there happened to be a stretch of interstate where some pretty severe potholes had developed for a period of two to three miles.

Even worse, these potholes would line up at the border between the fast and slow lanes so an unsuspecting driver who happens to change lanes would get a rude awakening.

I called the department of transportation hotline, spoke with an actual person and voiced my concern.

The very next day, I was amazed that every single pothole had been filled.
I called the same hotline and spoke with a representative remarking what a fantastic job they have done and how quickly the turnaround was.

Her response was, “Wow. We always get complaints. You are the first person I can remember that called to give praise.”

Social media platforms

In addition to patient satisfaction survey scores, today’s physicians have other issues to contend with that their older counterparts never had to deal with in the past.

As social media platforms continue to gain dominance over the internet, a side effect that modern-day physicians face is more to do with the appearance of high-quality care rather than delivering high-quality care.

Physicians who have embraced this social media movement have taken to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to promote themselves.

At the same time, potentially more experienced physicians who do not “play the social game” may fall by the wayside as potential patients choose their more celebrity counterparts.

Would you rather be operated on by the famous Dr. Oz or someone who is not famous in the media?

Patients automatically equating celebrity to mean the best may indeed be setting a bad precedent.

It gives a new meaning to the term “socialized medicine.”

Xrayvsn” is a radiologist and can be reached at his self-titled site, XRAYVSN.

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How social media can influence patients and the health care community

How social media can influence patients and the health care community | Social Media and Healthcare |

It seems that social media has begun influencing more and more of our lives and opinions since its conception. Some generations are enjoying new technology that wasn’t around or was less efficient when they were kids while others are taking advantage of what they’ve always had. In fact, a recent survey showed that about two-thirds of consumers get at least some of their news through social media, though just over half expect the news to be inaccurate.1 Lately, social media has also impacted how a patient views their healthcare and medicines, due to reviews from other patients and how healthcare practices present themselves.

Social patients

Social media savvy patients can influence prospective ones both positively and negatively. On the one hand, they may write a positive review of the facility, secretaries, nurses and doctors which may increase the likelihood of their friends finding care at the same place.2 On the other hand, the review could be negative and reflect poorly on the healthcare personnel and environment. In 2011, it was estimated that 44% of internet users look up information about doctors and other health professionals.3 Social media reviews can influence the decision to make an appointment, or a follow-up appointment depending on the patient’s own experience.

Patients with mental or physical health conditions can also find support groups or others with the same conditions. These support groups have been found to help those with serious mental illness by providing support and hope from others who have improved.4 Peers can also provide feedback about a treatment that worked for them or side effects that they experienced. However, it is important that patients understand that the information found on social media may not be one hundred percent accurate. One way to counteract this is for healthcare providers to become active themselves on social media websites.


Social healthcare

Some healthcare institutions have already taken to the web to help improve marketing and to communicate to patients and other facilities. Healthcare teams are appearing on the traditional social media sites as well as some unconventional sites, like blogging websites and message boards.

Social media can be used fairly easily for marketing healthcare services. Of course, companies can advertise services offered and awards received. However, healthcare professionals can also market their services in other ways just by communicating with patients and communicating information. Researchers can post recent research, share reviews, and provide feedback on relevant information.5,6 Patients may then follow a page if they like what they see and be reminded of upcoming appointments or those that need to be scheduled.

Similarly, social media can be useful to monitor illness or even competitors.6 People tend to post if they have been sick, especially if they have been for a long time. Researchers are looking into using social media posts to monitor influenza and predict new outbreaks.7 They can compile the information by following different tags, such as “flu”. This method is still being researched. Additionally, social media may provide a way to compare how competitors are doing and patient reactions to changes.6

Finally, social media may promote engagement in training or education. Newer training programs sometimes include a tag for students to use in social media posts.6 This helps ensure that there is a space for questions to be asked even if the training is not in a classroom setting. These tags also help engage students in the conversations and encourage interaction with other students who are learning the same thing.

Social media has a variety of uses for both patients and personnel that can affect a practice in a positive way. Patients can find reviews of physicians that they are considering seeing and find support for different conditions they have. Meanwhile, healthcare providers can market to those same patient and conduct research about trends in different areas of the world. Trainers and professors may be able to engage their students using social media tags, while also connecting them with students in similar situations. Overall, social media provides a way to shape the views of its users.


1. Katerina Eva Matsa and Elisa Shearer. “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2018: Most Americans continue to get news on social media, even though many have concerns about its accuracy.” Pew Research Center. 10 September 2018. Web. 12 February 2019. <>.

2. Andrew Arnold. “How Social Media Usage Affects Doctor to Patient Relationships.” Forbes. 7 November 2018. Web. 11 February 2019. <>.

3. Susannah Fox. “Health Topics.” Pew Research Center. 1 February 2011. Web. 13 February 2019. <>.

4. J. A. Naslund, et al. “The future of mental health care: peer-to-peer support and social media.” 8 January 2016. Web. 13 February 2019. <>.

5. Andrew Arnold. “Can Social Media Have A Positive Impact on Global Healthcare?” Forbes. 5 June 2018. Web. 11 February 2019. <>.

6. Jeff Parke. “Take two and Tweet me in the Morning: How Social Media is Reshaping Health Care.” Applied Clinical Trials. 11 June 2018. Web. 11 February 2019. <>.

7. “Social media data could transform public health, new book says.” University of Colorado – Boulder: College of Media, Communication and Information. 9 November 2017. Web. 13 February 2019. <>.

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12 Reviews Sites Doctors, Hospitals, and Healthcare Marketers Need to Track

12 Reviews Sites Doctors, Hospitals, and Healthcare Marketers Need to Track | Social Media and Healthcare |

In 2018, online reviews influenced 66.3 percent of consumers when they were looking for a new primary care physician, which is the second-highest influence of any industry.

More than ever, patients are visiting multiple websites to find a new healthcare provider, and reviews are influencing their decisions.

Healthcare Review Site Statistics

Before we look at which sites you should be monitoring, here are some interesting numbers worth considering:

  • A staggering 94 percent of Internet users who have visited a doctor reviews site consider the reviews useful. (Institute for Healthcare Policy, 2014)
  • 85 percent of patients are not comfortable choosing a physician if more than 10 percent of that physician’s reviews have a one-star rating. (Digital Assent, 2013)
  • About 1 out of 3 patients use either industry-specific medical review sites or more general consumer review sites as tools for finding doctors or healthcare providers. (American Osteopathic Association, 2014)
  • 47 percent of patients who look up a physician online feels differently about that physician after reading his or her profile and reviews. (Vitals, 2013)

By claiming a listing on major healthcare review sites, healthcare organizations can increase their online visibility, review volume, and patient acquisition. Here are the 12 sites where a listing can attract more patients.

1. Yelp 

Yelp is commonly known for its restaurant listings and reviews, but the idea came about because co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman was sick and found out that it was difficult to find any doctors in his area. Today, the popular site features more than 171 million reviews, and reviews on healthcare organizations account for eight percent, or more than 13 million, reviews.

You can claim a listing by signing up on the Yelp for Business Owners page. First-time Yelp listing owners should also take a look at our comprehensive Yelp business guide.  

2. Healthgrades

Along with Yelp, Healthgrades ranks as today’s most trusted site for online reviews and ratings of doctors, dentists, and hospitals. The site lets users browse and find specialists by location, by specialty, by condition, and by procedure. All in all, Healthgrades features over 1.1 million provider listings and seven million reviews and ratings.

You can learn to claim and update your free profile on Healthgrades with our short, yet detailed guide.

The site also has advertising programs for providers looking to promote their practice. If you’re managing or marketing a hospital or some other healthcare facility, you can also check out Healthgrades’ solutions suite to drive growth, increase engagement, and improve quality and clinical performance.

3. Vitals

Another leading resource for healthcare reviews and information is Vitals, which features over 1 million physician profiles, 165,000 facility listings, and more than 9 million reviews and ratings. Vitals’ database allows users to search by specialty, name, location, condition, and insurance.

You can claim a Vitals listing by following the directions on the site’s signup page. On the listing, you can manage and edit information, including display name, practice address, specialties and expertise, and education and awards.


In addition to healthcare listings, features multiple resources for all kinds of health and medical information in the form of wellness blogs and interactive visitor surveys. Listings include including ratings, reviews, accepted forms insurance, certifications, and more.

You can get listed on by enrolling in the site’s Wellness Provider Program. There are three tiers within the program, and they all include the ability to create a listing. However, the mid- and high-tier packages include other benefits such as additional exposure on “major search engines” and listing placement on competitor profiles.

For more information, check out the Business FAQ Page.

5. Google My Business

Google is the world’s biggest search engine, and it has also quickly become one of the most powerful local business discovery engines on the Web – thanks to services like Google Maps and Google Search. Survey data shows that Google holds 57.5 percent of all reviews, which is further proof that a Google My Business listing is absolutely necessary.

To create or edit your restaurant listing on Google, visit the Google My Business page. You can also check ReviewTrackers’ guide on how to claim your listing via Google My Business.

6. ZocDoc

ZocDoc offers a platform for booking appointments instantly. The site features doctor reviews, office addresses, and open appointment times. Patients can even use it to fill out basic forms that are typically part of the waiting room experience. It also has a free mobile app to help patients find and book appointments with doctors using their mobile devices.

To claim and manage your listing on ZocDoc – as well as enable instant online bookings and build positive reviews – go to the site’s “Getting Started” page.

7. RateMDs

RateMDs is home to over 2.5 million doctor ratings and 1 million reviews along with current health trends coverage and medical specialties information. It also lists and rates top hospitals and facilities across the US based on review information such as cleanliness and value. For individual providers, reviewers can provide ratings based on punctuality, staff, helpfulness, and overall knowledge.

Doctors and healthcare providers can claim their listings by clicking on the “Claim Doctor Profile” on the top right of the site’s home page.

8. Dr. Oogle

Dr. Oogle specializes in dentist listings and reviews. Each listing also includes a list of the most used keywords from reviewers, office hours, coupons, and photos and videos. Reviewers can leave text feedback and an overall rating. However, they can also rate the experience based on multiple factors such as results, cost, and hygiene.

Those who want to claim a listing can do so with their email address, Facebook profile, or Google profile.

9. is a platform that lets you tap into multiple healthcare networks on the Web, and it covers an audience of about 30 million people each month on popular review sites, like Google, Yelp, Bing, Vitals, and Healthline. However, it also features listings on its own site.

Signing up for gives you visibility on the sites across its network, as well as access to review generation tools, your practice’s own Showcase Page, and experienced practice consultants. Each profile can include a provider’s information on training, certification, hours, accepted insurance plans, and payment options.

10. RealPatientRatings

RealPatientRatings owns one of the largest databases of verified plastic surgery patient reviews. The reviews generated by the site all come from a survey completed by real patients who have completed a qualified visit to a doctor’s office. Currently, the site features over 189,000 verified reviews. Site visitors can filter reviews by provider or a specific treatment.

Surgeons can sign up for RealPatientRatings by visiting Vizium360, which created the RealPatientRatings platform.

11. RealSelf

Another site specializing in cosmetic treatments is RealSelf, which has over 20,000 physician listings and 9.9 million consumers that visit the site every month. Patients can find a provider through the site’s “Treatment Finder” tool.

Providers can include multiple elements on their listing such as deals, links to third-party sites, and a Q&A section. Those interested in a listing can go to the site’s claiming page and enter information about their board certification, name, email address, and website.

12. UCompareHealthCare

UCompareHealthCare allows users to search for doctors, medical professionals, hospitals, and nursing homes by location, specialty, or doctor name. The site offers highly comprehensive comparisons of healthcare providers based on data available from federal and state government agencies and multiple third-party sources. Chances are that your practice is already listed on the site, but if you would like to add your listing, contact the UCompareHealthCare team.       

Best Practices for Maintaining a Healthy Listing

Once you’ve created or claimed your listing, you can follow these best practices in managing your online reputation.

  • Update your information. Always ensure that the information in your listing is up-to-date, accurate, and complete. Incorrect listings set up a bad first impression to patients, and it might convince them to look for another provider.
  • Respond to reviews. On sites where you can, respond to what patients are saying about your practice. This allows you to minimize the impact of a negative review or reinforce the great user experience detailed in a positive review. More importantly, this helps build patient engagement. However, make sure that responses are HIPAA-compliant to avoid financial penalties.
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#Success? 7 ways Twitter can help you thrive in medical school

#Success? 7 ways Twitter can help you thrive in medical school | Social Media and Healthcare |

Many medical students have grown up on social media, but the hazards of using it unprofessionally are numerous and can be grave, including expulsion. Still, a recent study shows the use of Twitter in particular can produce positive educational and career development results. The authors identify the practices of medical school “superusers,” which demonstrate benefits in two main domains: access and voice. 

The study, “A Digital Ethnography of Medical Students who Use Twitter for Professional Development,” was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Researchers examined 31 U.S. medical student “superusers” of Twitter—split nearly evenly among men and women and representing all regions of the U.S. and all years of medical school—over eight months. Each was selected for having posted professional content, interacted with other medical students and faculty or participated in professional tweet chats. 

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“Medical students who regularly used Twitter as a professional tool were doing so with thoughtfulness and purpose,” wrote the authors, who include Katherine C. Chretien, MD, assistant dean for student affairs at the Washington, D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center. “Twitter allowed them access and voice that supplemented their medical school experience.” 

The AMA Code of Medical Ethics provides additional guidance on social media use, such as Opinion 2.3.2, “Professionalism in the Use of Social Media,” to help physicians weigh a number of considerations when maintaining a presence online. 

Researchers found that Twitter can provide these benefits to medical students. 

Information. Students have access to content experts with whom they otherwise would not connect. This could be by asking questions of, or following, the experts or by participating in tweet chats with them. 

Collaborations. They can connect with medical students with similar interests. 

Different perspectives. Twitter also exposes medical students to varying opinions about health policy, medical education and the medical profession. For many, gaining the patient perspective is invaluable. It also enables them to understand medicine outside of the patient-physician dynamic. 

Communities. Students may find support in the medical school experience on Twitter. This could include support from fellow students, encouragement from faculty and connections with likeminded people. 

Twitter also can give medical student users a platform to pursue these ends. 

Advocacy. Some students use Twitter as a platform for expressing political views and policy positions. It can help them develop their voices and engage with people with differing opinions. 

Control of one’s digital footprint. It enables medical students to craft their online identities in consistent and positive ways. 

Equalization. Twitter can serve as leveling force in the medical hierarchy, giving equal voices to faculty, residents and students. 

Five key practices 

Besides identifying potential benefits of Twitter use, the study also cites the core practices of medical student superusers that give rise to those benefits. As a rule, these users: 

  • Are purposeful in their use of Twitter. 
  • Maintain professional demeanor. 
  • Show personality by posting more than just medical content. 
  • Practice good Twitter citizenship by contributing to conversations and observing other etiquette. 
  • Identify faculty role models. 
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Parkinson's Disease Patients Turn to Internet to Manage Their Condition

Parkinson's Disease Patients Turn to Internet to Manage Their Condition | Social Media and Healthcare |

“By owning our disease we can then become an asset to others who come after us, as I have attempted to do over the past few years. Not only can we educate each other but our physicians as well by sharing our experiences.”
– Maria De León,

Parkinson’s disease (PD) can have an enormous impact on the lives of patients and their loved ones. As a chronic condition that slowly worsens over time and affects the nervous system, a person’s ability to do everyday tasks is compromised. This makes the condition increasingly difficult for patients and their care partners to manage. PD is unique to each individual and the exact cause is not known, adding to the frustration.

Online communities, like, are designed to illuminate the voices and experiences of people living with PD. They welcome people to connect with each other based on shared experiences, interests or frustrations. These connections and the access they provide to condition-specific content make online resources, as a recent Health Union survey discovered, the perfect complement to receiving vital information from a healthcare provider.

“Parkinson’s Disease In America 2018,” an annual survey conducted by Health Union, recently revealed the experiences and perspectives of more than 1,600 patients and care partners who are impacted by PD. The survey shows patients turned to PD-specific websites nearly as much as their doctor (62% vs. 65%, respectively) to learn about or manage their condition. Care partners are leveraging the web as well, with 63% saying they use both internet search and PD-specific websites for information.

PD patients want to better understand their condition, as three in five patient respondents said they play an active role in their PD treatment decisions. Additionally, 42% said they actively seek out information about the latest PD medications. Although there is much about PD that is uncontrollable, taking an active role in treatment can provide a sense of control and help people with PD live their lives to the fullest.

By providing opportunities for support and connection, PD-specific websites can help to make a PD diagnosis seem less frightening and overwhelming. Dedicated websites, like, offer an avenue for patients and care partners to connect with each other and share personal experiences, perspectives, expertise, frustrations and day-to-day challenges.

Online communities and support groups via PD-specific websites or social media are a wonderful way to find others who can relate to what a patient or care partner is going through. One “Parkinson’s Disease In America 2018” respondent even commented, “I feel a support group is essential for information and socialization.” offers a safe place for learning, connection and validation. And, as patients and care partners are nearly as likely to seek out information from PD-specific websites as from their doctor, the power and benefit of online resources for both education and support are clear.

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Google searches could be used to predict emergency room visits

Google searches could be used to predict emergency room visits | Social Media and Healthcare |

There's a lot you can learn about a person by monitoring their Google searches, especially when it comes to their health.

That's according to a new study published in the journal BMJ Openfrom researchers at Penn Medicine, which found that in the week before an emergency room visit, patients conduct nearly three times as many health-related searches, or 16 percent of their total. Google has previously disclosed that about 1 in 20 searches, or 5 percent, are for health information.

Penn Medicine was able to access this data by asking about 300 patients with a Google account to share their search histories and health records with researchers. About half of the people who were approached to participate in the study between 2016 and 2017 consented, and 103 of them met the criteria. Each of the participants presented tens of thousands of searches to the researchers around the medical event.


The research is still early, but the team behind it sees a lot of potential in using data like this to figure out who's likely to get sick, so hospitals can better prepare for them.

"This might help us anticipate the demand of patients entering the hospital," said Penn Medicine's Jeremy Asch, one of the researchers involved with the study. Asch said that about 15 percent of people searched for the nearest emergency department or the hours and location, and people often searched for health-related terms on several occasions before going to the hospital.

The researchers also noticed some communication gaps by comparing the Google searches to the notes in the patient's medical record.

For instance, one patient who searched, "how big is a walnut?" and "what is a fibrous tumor?" The researchers said that the patient had been informed by a doctor that she had a fibrous tumor the size of a walnut. She apparently didn't understand her condition, and she had to turn to Google to look it up.

The researchers said studies like these involve extremely sensitive and private information, so it's important that patients fully understand what they're consenting to. For that reason, a company like Google might not have success with this kind of study, as it requires patients to trust that the information won't be accessed by third parties, including advertisers.

So far, Google has focused instead on population health trends rather than in analyzing the behavior of individuals. For instance, it has a partnership with hospitals such as Stanford and University of California San Francisco to aggregate millions of patient records and figure out who's likely to get sick.

"When we do this kind of work, we make sure that we do it in a patient-centered way" said Raina Merchant, who's involved with the research and is an associate professor of Emergency Medicine. "We really took into account that this was very personal and private, so we had to communicate this clearly with patients."

Merchant was also involved in another study of social media data, which found that the content people share on Facebook can predict a future occurrence of depression.

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| Patients Are Eager for Trials But Aren’t Getting the Word, Survey Finds

| Patients Are Eager for Trials But Aren’t Getting the Word, Survey Finds | Social Media and Healthcare |

Patients are eager to participate in clinical trials, but they’re having trouble finding the information they need — not just on social media, but from their own doctors, a new survey suggests.

Many respondents said they’d be interested in joining trials — nearly three-fifths said they would be willing to share genetic information or their health records as part of a trial — and one in five said they had proactively asked their doctors about trials, but only 15 percent had ever enrolled in one. Fewer than one in five said their doctor had suggested trials for them.

The survey was conducted by Inspire, a healthcare-focused social media platform, which surveyed nearly 9,500 of its more than 1 million patient and caregiver members about a range of issues, including awareness of clinical trials.

There also seems to be something of a gender gap in patient readiness for trials. Nearly one-quarter of men said their doctor had suggested a trial for their diseases, but fewer than one-fifth of women received similar advice.

This is the fourth year Inspire has surveyed patients and caregivers about their treatment. The ongoing lesson, Inspire Research Manger Hannah Watson Eccard says, is that people “are more than recipients of medical care. They are active partners who work with healthcare professionals to make medical decisions and find the best option for them.”

For some patient advocates, the Inspire survey is wake-up call to the trials industry.

“We need to do a better job of initiating conversations about new treatment options — especially clinical trials,” says Dana Dornsife, founder of the Lazarex Cancer Foundation, a California nonprofit that helps patients overcome obstacles to trial enrollment.

Dornsife says she and her colleagues “receive calls daily from cancer patients for whom standard care isn’t working and can’t find the information they need as they investigate clinical trial options.” The group is in the midst of a project it calls IMPACT, a three-year pilot program aimed at improving enrollment in trials.

“The system is fragmented and flawed and leaves many patients out,” she says. “And if a patient does find a clinical trial for which they’re eligible, they’re often blindsided, in many cases, by insurmountable travel costs just to get to the clinical trial. “

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3 Patient-Engagement Technologies to Implement into your Practice

3 Patient-Engagement Technologies to Implement into your Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |

A key to patient engagement is keeping your clients as informed as possible about their options for treatment, medications, recovery, and all other aspects of the healthcare system. A practice that is fully engaged with their patients works more efficiently, from setting up follow-up visits to receiving electronic reminders about appointments, and this personalized engagement is now expected. Digital communication is not something you can disregard—patients want personalization and the ability to speak to their health practitioner on the platforms they use. Here are three technologies we recommend implementing into your practice that will boost the patient experience.

  1. Online Patient Portal: Allow patients to enter their own data into your patient portal, taking staff’s responsibility away from having to manually enter handwritten forms. Providers can even answer patient questions and efficiently prescribe medications via online refills. Make sure it’s optimized for a mobile-device experience.
  2. Social Media Engagement: Social media is a great way to keep patients up to date with happenings in your practice, share helpful best practices, and even generate referrals. Remember, you don’t have to use every social media platform out there, just the ones that make sense.
  3. Email and Text Messaging Communication: Reminding patients about their need to schedule follow-up appointments based on the information in your digital records will make them more likely to continue using your services. Send out emails and text messages to your patients who are due for a check-up.

This two-way communication gives patients convenient access to their own health information and empowers them to be more proactive in their health management. A personal touch combats no-shows, lost revenue, and can help make your office run smoothly.

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Consumerism Comes to Healthcare: Listening to Yelp

Consumerism Comes to Healthcare: Listening to Yelp | Social Media and Healthcare |

In the era of online reputation and health consumerism, online reviews can be boon or doom, whether they’re on Facebook, Yelp, Google, or anywhere. Yelp is my favorite for health businesses, because believe it or not, this popular app for rating consumer services has been studied in formal research about healthcare-and it correlates with quality! Amazing? Perhaps not, because good quality and good service both require attention, care, and focus.

Founded in 2004 “to help people find great local businesses like dentists, hair stylists and mechanics,” today Yelp hosts 171 million reviews on everything from locksmiths to landscapers, pizza to plumbers. They claim to have 100 million users per month!

But how can you methodically please raters who have no professional qualifications?? What do you aim for?? There’s good news and bad news.

The bad news is, there’s no objective standard. The good news is, all the five-star-rated businesses show that it can be done.

It turns out that happy consumers correlate with clinical measures, and it’s not that complicated: it’s common sense. Consider these professional publications:

  • A 2013 paper in BMJ Quality and Safety found, “rater experiences for Yelp and HCAHPS [Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems surveys] may be similar, and that consumers posting ratings on Yelp may observe aspects of care related to important patient outcomes.”
  • A remarkable paper was published for the New York State Health Foundation by consultant Manhattan Institute in 2017, going significantly deeper and wider than the 2013 study. It noted two important weaknesses in HCAHPS: “significant lag times” [between surveys and low rates of utilization. Yelp reviews were written “in real time and often written by patients for patients” and perceptions of what matters most to them can change over time.” Yelp reviews also capture the opinions of caregivers, which may be particularly salient in cases where patients are frail, elderly, or unable to complete a survey or adequately advocate for themselves.

This is not to say that everything’s rosy, though—a 2018 study (also in BMJ Quality & Safety) found poor correlation between Yelp ratings and objective quality measures from the Nursing Home Compare website. Delicious opportunity for more study!

Three things you can do to put happy numbers on Yelp

  1. Ask people to rate you! Patients are surprisingly happy to leave you a rating...IF you ask. Because itfeels awkward and intrusive, we are often hesitant to ask patients to leave reviews or ratings. Don't fall into this trap! By the simple task of asking, you are much more likely to build up that online reputation. 
  2. During the visit ask basic customer service questions: How was your wait time? Did we answer everything, and are you clear on the answers?  If you did your job well then these questions won’t take any more time or money from your practice. But if you didn’t then you’ll know right then and there that you have an unsatisfied customer and this small gesture of communication can lead to a lifetime consumer, and possibly more referrals.
  3. A simple follow up text or email inviting more feedback: How was your visit?  How was your wait time?  How are we doing? Just be sure to do something with the responses—don’t stuff them away in a black hole of papers to review another day. Your consumer was kind enough to say something to you—that’s gold (and generous). Listen and really hear them.  

If the complaints or compliments are consistent, figure out a way to fix them or build on them, before they hit the internet for all to see.  

Of course reviews aren’t perfection—but undeniably they represent consumers’ opinions. And as with all surveys, the more ratings you can see, the more dependable the rating is.

As the Manhattan Institute paper says, “We do not argue that Yelp alone is, or can be, the only guide to quality hospitals. However, when people can choose where they will obtain care—as do patients with traditional Medicare coverage for elective or planned surgeries, or when consumers can choose among insurance options—Yelp ratings can provide a helpful guide. This tool will get even better at helping patients identify quality institutions and physicians as the number of Yelp’s hospital and provider reviews increases.”

So dive in! There’s more to business success than dollars and cents—do everything you can to make life easy for clients.

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Complaint to FTC accuses Facebook of exposing sensitive health data in groups | FierceHealthcare

Complaint to FTC accuses Facebook of exposing sensitive health data in groups | FierceHealthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

A complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission accuses Facebook of misleading its users regarding the private nature of closed Facebook groups and exposing users’ sensitive health data.

The complaint, which was filed last month and made public this week, claims that the company “deceptively solicited patients to use its 'Groups' product to share personal health information about their health issues.”

They claim Facebook then failed to protect the sensitive health information users uploaded and also exposed that information to the public. The complaint argues that Facebook's privacy policies are not clear, and users are not informed about how their data will be used.


By soliciting patients to use the closed groups to share health information, such as to discuss specific health conditions, Facebook is essentially offering a personal health record (PHR), the complaint argues, which means the platform should be regulated by the FTC.

The complaint was filed by health IT and cybersecurity researcher Fred Trotter, healthcare lawyer David Harlow, J.D., and patient advocates who have used closed Facebook groups. They urge the FTC to examine Facebook's "unfair, deceptive and misleading" privacy policies and its failure to notify the FTC of health data breaches, violating the FTC's PHR breach reporting rule. 

The researchers and patient advocates also argue that Facebook allowed targeting of users’ identifiable health information for its own commercial purposes—specifically allowing advertisers to connect with users with an interest in specific clinical conditions.

“Sharing of privately posted personal health information violates the law, but this serious problem with Facebook’s privacy implementation also presents an ongoing risk of death or serious injury to Facebook users,” the complaint argues. The health data privacy issues open up the possibility for group users to be targeted for fraudulent treatment programs or to be discriminated against or harassed, according to the complaint.


In response to the FTC complaint, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is now demanding a briefing with Facebook executives to review the company’s privacy policies and practices and to explain how it gathers users’ data.

Facebook is pushing back on the argument that its private groups are a PHR platform.

“Facebook is not an anonymous platform; real-name identity is at the center of the experience and always has been," a Facebook spokesman said in an email. "It's intentionally clear to people that when they join any group on Facebook, other members of that group can see that they are a part of that community and can see the posts they choose to share with that community. There is value in being able to know who you’re having a conversation within a group, and we look forward to briefing the committee on this.”

The issues raised in the complaint also have potential implications for healthcare providers who create or manage support groups on any social media platform.

“When you’re using any type of social media platform, or a public platform, you need to carefully review the terms and conditions as those generally will have a statement about what data might be stored, how it will be stored, and how it can be utilized,” Matt Fisher, a partner with Boston-based law firm Mirick O’Connell and chair of the firm’s health law group, told FierceHealthcare. “If use of the platform is free, there has to be some way the company is making money, and that’s most generally off of the fact that it’s going to claim the right to be able to take and utilize the data.”

Medical researchers often use Facebook groups as a recruitment tool for clinical trials as well, which raises privacy concerns, according to privacy advocates.

RELATED: HIMSS 2017: Social media posts trigger cyber concerns

This issue came to light last July when the leader of a private Facebook group for women with the BRCA gene, a gene mutation associated with a higher risk for breast cancer, became alarmed after learning that third parties could discover the names of people in the closed group as well as other information, according to CNBC. That group user contacted Trotter, who confirmed the security loophole. Facebook then publicly responded to say it had closed that loophole.

Facebook faces ongoing criticism and scrutiny about its privacy policies. The Washington Post reports that the company and the FTC are negotiating over a multibillion-dollar fine to settle the agency’s investigation into the social media giant’s privacy practices.

According to CNBC, the company is also dealing with fierce regulatory scrutiny, particularly in the European Union, where the new General Data Protection Regulation has expanded the definition of "personal data" far beyond social security numbers, to include the kind of data, like locations, names and genetic markers, that had been available publicly on members of Facebook's closed groups.

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More millennials are getting plastic surgery, driven by social media and jobs 

More millennials are getting plastic surgery, driven by social media and jobs  | Social Media and Healthcare |

More millennials are getting plastic surgery, driven by the pressures of social media and the desire to stand out in the job market. 

Jamie Mysel, 23, always disliked her nose, but said that if it hadn't been for a photograph of herself that surfaced on Facebook, she might just have continued to put up with it. 

"My boss posted a candid picture of me and all I saw was a giant triangle, like this beak sticking out of my face and that was it, I was done," she told CBS MoneyWatch. "For years I had joked about getting a nose job, and after that I finally bit the bullet."

She said social media amplified her insecurities about her appearance because photos that captured her at unflattering angles were available for her -- and everyone else -- to stare at. "I was always critical of how I looked and if it was just taken at the wrong angle the picture was awful to me, and everyone could see it," she said. 

Jamie Mysel, 23, left, in the photo she says led her to finally get a nose job.PROVIDED BY JAMIE MYSEL

Mysel's experience isn't unusual, according to plastic surgeons.Dr. Patrick Byrne, director of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at John Hopkins Medicine, described a troubling pattern of patients referring to photographs of themselves, rather than their actual faces, when asked what they'd like to change about their appearances. 

"Very often, they can't actually show you with a mirror in hand. They have to pull out their phones and show you in a picture. That's a little insane," he said. It's also indicative of the degree to which digital photography dictates millennials' perceptions of themselves, thanks to social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. 

"When you start dealing with young people referencing digital images of their face rather than the image that presents in the mirror in the office, that can be highly concerning that they are seeking surgery for the wrong reasons," Byrne said. 

Edge in the job market

Aside from vanity, some patients may have financial reasons for getting plastic surgery. Some younger workers believe an improvement in their appearance will provide a leg up in the job market.

"Frequently people are looking to be more competitive in an already competitive job market. They want to be able to compete with their own generation and also older people, so they are getting either minor or major procedures to give them an advantage in the workforce," Long Island-based cosmetic surgeon Dr. Stephen Greenberg, who treated Mysel, said.

Remaining youthful

Seven of 10 facial plastic surgeons said they saw an uptick last year in cosmetic surgery procedures and injectable products, which can smooth wrinkles and plump lips, in patients under the age of 30, according to an American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) survey. Just five years earlier, only 5 of 10 plastic surgeons had noticed the trend, the survey said.

"This points to the larger 'pre-juvenation' trend with more and more patients wanting to remain youthful rather than turn back the clock on signs of aging later," said AAFPRS President Phillip R. Langsdon. "Our younger patients are controlling the aging process and taking prevention seriously."

Preventative care

Langsdon said he doesn't treat patients who don't yet show signs of wrinkles. He also contends that the best preventative care happens outside his office. 

"Limiting sun exposure, not smoking cigarettes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and not abusing your body -- those sorts of things are going to keep you looking younger than anything else," he said. 

Millennials increasingly communicate via social media apps such as Instagram and Snapchat, where physical appearance reigns supreme. Some 88 percent of 18- to 29-year olds in 2018 said they were active social media users, according to the Pew Research Center

Greenberg, the Long Island-based plastic surgeon, said he's seen an uptick in selfie-obsessed patients in their twenties and thirties seeking Botox, chemical peels, injectables and laser skin treatments. Millennials tend to shy away from more invasive procedures like face-lifts and breast enhancements, and he said millennial women are more likely to undergo plastic surgery than men, he said. 

"Most millennials are seeking to maintain and extend their youthful appearance rather than shave years and often decades off their looks," Greenberg said. 

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Targeted Social Media Use Could Expand Mesothelioma Knowledge Base

Targeted Social Media Use Could Expand Mesothelioma Knowledge Base | Social Media and Healthcare |

Technological advances in medicine have provided many victims of malignant mesothelioma with significantly longer survival times. Though the disease remains extremely challenging to treat, improved techniques and earlier detection have combined to the point where some of those diagnosed with the rare and fatal form of cancer are able to live several years beyond the median survival rate of less than two years after diagnosis. As advocates and health care practitioners alike join forces to try to continue this trend, they have identified social media use as an additional tool with tremendous potential. They believe that targeted use of social media can not only enhance awareness of the disease and lead to earlier diagnosis, but also provide those diagnosed with the disease with greater access to the many clinical trials being conducted around the United States and the world.

Greater Awareness of Clinical Trials Can Lead to Improved Treatment

Though malignant mesothelioma is an extremely rare disease diagnosed in less than 3,500 people a year, social media use and advertising on television and radio have brought the disease out of the shadows, making a far greater percentage of the population aware of its causes, as well as its symptoms. This means that more of those who have been exposed to asbestos are aware that they are at risk, and more are seeking earlier diagnosis when symptoms arise. Combining this earlier diagnosis with the strides that oncology researchers have made has meant improved prognosis and quality of life. Clinical trials help contribute to these successes, but the larger trials study for mesothelioma are frequently done using collected data rather than live patients because the patient pool is so small to begin with.  Combining that with the fact that fewer than 5% of cancer patients in the U.S. participate in clinical trials means that the pool is likely to remain small, but social media use could change that.

Patients Seeking Answers Can Be Alerted to Clinical Trials

Mesothelioma researchers are beginning to harness the power of social media to reach out to the mesothelioma community and encourage greater participation in clinical trials. Patients who live outside of the major metropolitan areas where these trials are conducted might not hear about these trials through their physicians, but can be alerted to them via social media platforms, as well as digital notifications on the websites where they are seeking answers to questions about their diseases.

The more information about mesothelioma and its treatment is shared and communicated, the greater the chances of finding a cure. If you need information about clinical trial availability or any other resources that might be available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at today at 1-800-692-8608.








Dr. Thomas George, an oncologist at the University of Florida who headed this mission, said “NRG Oncology recognizes the need to engage patients where they are – which today, often includes social media.  To that end, the NRG Communications Committee, with valuable input from patient advocates, is developing a comprehensive pilot program of social media-based patient engagement for clinical trial awareness and participation.” NRG also prioritizes a patient-centered approach when designing their trials, and works with patient advocates and representatives for all their programs.

This movement to expand direct patient-advertising is encouraging, but more needs to be done. Social media can offer more than just information about trials because of its ability to bring researchers and patients together remotely. Currently, many clinical trials are available only at large cancer hospitals because they have the resources to run, open, and maintain trials. FDA regulations require tremendous oversight at every aspect of trial implementation, which means that small hospitals often can’t afford to enroll patients on trials. If a patient wants to enroll onto a trial, they may be required to discontinue their care at their local hospital. This is a major deterrent for patients to enroll on trials. What if a patient in rural Idaho could be enrolled onto a trial at a major cancer center in NJ? Social media should be used to recreate the framework of trial design, starting with making it easier for patients to enroll remotely. Doing so would ease the burden for physicians and patients to recommend participation in clinical trials, especially at community hospitals and in underserved areas, who don’t have the resources to maintain their own trials.

Enrolling patients onto trials more quickly would free up research dollars to run more trials, such as patient-centered trials uniquely designed by a social media community. This untapped source of volunteers from across the U.S. would be able to participate in trials in unprecedented numbers. Researchers would have open channels of communication with large numbers of patients, who they could pose questions directly to, such as “what kind of trials are you willing to participate in?”

There are real barriers to this proposed social-media driven model. Patient privacy must be protected, which means implementing strict protocols for sharing confidential patient information.  Moreover, the language used to advertise clinical trials is strictly regulated:  the future of social media driven clinical trials cannot include pitches like “Come join our trial to save your life!” Researchers need to obtain informed consent from each trial participant, which is more difficult when done remotely. And, monitoring the day-to-day running of the trial may be cumbersome, due to different physicians’ treatment style, monitoring of side effects, and determination of treatment success or failure. While the above obstacles will necessitate careful attention, the time has some to utilize social media for improving cancer care. Let’s investigate new ways to engage patients, not simply funnel them into our current inadequate paradigm.

The sooner we embrace it, the more lives we can potentially save.

Top Doctors USA's comment, March 8, 4:37 AM
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When It Comes to Social Media, Doctors Are Held to a Higher Standard 

When It Comes to Social Media, Doctors Are Held to a Higher Standard  | Social Media and Healthcare |

A physician receives a Facebook friend request from a patient they just treated. Unusual? Not really.

Bernadette Riley, D.O., associate professor of family medicine in NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) and director of the Ehlers-Danlos Treatment Center, explains that this is something medical students will face as future physicians.

“Social media platforms increase patients’ access to physicians and often blur the boundary between a physician’s professional and private life,” says Riley, who recently published an article on the professional impact of social media in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Ninety percent of medical students use social media, and a growing number of health care organizations now encourage professionals to have a social media presence. However, as Riley notes, physicians are held to a higher standard. Content posted to social media platforms, as well as dating apps like Tinder, could possibly jeopardize a physician’s professional credibility.

A study of U.S. urology residency graduates found that most of the graduates’ Facebook settings were not private and more than half had posted unprofessional content. This behaviorwas seen equally among osteopathic and allopathic urologists, both male and female.

“Movements like #MeToo are making us more aware of the way we interact with others. A post, text, or comment you shared years ago could potentially impact your ability to secure a residency,” Riley says.

In fact, more than half of U.S. medical school deans report complaints of inappropriate online postings by their medical students. This rise in professionalism complaints has also been observed in the field where many medical organizations have established physician guidelines for social media and social networking sites.

However, there is not yet a mandated standardized curriculum to help medical students fully grasp the consequences of social media usage. Medical students at risk for future professionalism complaints often exhibit red flags early in their medical career, and Riley believes a required online professionalism curriculum could help them to avoid future complaints and potential medical board investigations.

She also reminds medical students that they can still be proactive without a formal lesson, noting that medical students should be aware of privacy settings and set them accordingly, as well as establish boundaries with fellow users.

“If you’ve been tagged in a post that may be deemed inappropriate, don’t be afraid to remove yourself. When in doubt, act as you would in the office.”

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How social media can advance humanism in medicine

How social media can advance humanism in medicine | Social Media and Healthcare |

“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or step back into safety.”
– Abraham Maslow.

The New York Times recently published the op-ed “Dr. Google is a Liar,” written by cardiologist Haider Warraich, MD. Dr. Warraich describes the rise of fake medical news and the adverse consequences of a population who gets their medical information from social media. He shares that when countering these cultural memes of medical misinformation, which stir up strong emotions in our patients, stating dry medical jargon is not effective. He found that his patient was more open to his advice when he also shared about his own father’s heart attack. Dr. Warraich wisely argues for physicians to take back control of medical news by harnessing the power of humanism and narrative medicine to become effective storytellers.

I wholeheartedly agree with him. Let’s stop burying our heads in the sand and pretending we can convince our patients to resist Dr. Google. Let’s put ourselves back in the driver’s seat. I believe that the next generation of great doctors will be those who communicate on the Internet effectively and in a compelling enough way to sustain an audience and engender trust. In a time when trust in doctors is eroding, our patients want to see that we are human too and to do that we need to overcome our fears of showing our humanity. We know that when doctors and nurses are burnt out, patient outcomes decline. Literature also supports that when doctors display more empathy for their patients, outcomes improve. Humanism in medicine works best when it is a two-way street, wherein our health care system treats both patients and health care workers as human beings.

I believe there’s a natural link between humanism in medicine and social media. While there has been a core group of physicians on social media for the past decade, we are now seeing it become mainstream. Through this increased visibility, physicians are using social media mobilization to organize and to advocate for better patient care and better work conditions. Last November, as a criticism to the American College of Physicians’ position paper describing a public health approach to tackling gun-related deaths, the National Rifle Association tweeted that “self-important anti-gun doctors” should stay in their lane. The medical community swiftly responded with the #ThisIsMyLane campaign, rallying around their first-person, often harrowing accounts, of caring for the gunshot victims in ERs and operating rooms. Dr. Dave Morris, MD, a trauma surgeon in Utah posted a photo of his blood-soaked scrubs and said “Can’t post a patient photo, so this is a selfie. This is what it looks like to #stayinmylane.” The tweets and hashtags went viral, garnering national media attention, and physicians effectively steered the conversation.


Leo Eisenstein, a Harvard Medical Student, wrote about this in a New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst piece. He reminds us that the term burnout was coined by a psychologist who was caring for marginalized patients. In today’s broken health care system, clinicians are burdened by the reality that their patients are fighting socioeconomic and structural barriers that “no medicines can touch.” If both physicians and patients feel powerless against these forces, it’s not a big leap to envision physician advocacy as part of the antidote.


Part of makes what makes social media appealing is that it allows unheard voices to become public. This is crucial particularly for physicians, with many of us working long hours providing direct face to face patient care, and thus not having the time for community engagement. Social media platforms have become a watering hole of sorts, where it’s okay to share your perspective as a physician. Every Sunday night, @womeninmedchat (run by Dr. Petra Dolman, MD) hosts an hour-long Twitter chat, with guest moderators facilitating conversations ranging from how to negotiate pay, navigating residency interviews, and countering burn out, all searchable under the hashtag #womeninmedicine. The Facebook group SoMeDocs (Social Media Docs), founded by Dr. Dana Corriel, MD, has provided an engaging forum for physicians to discuss a variety of issues related to social media. #SoMeDocs is branching out to in-person live meetups aimed at building community, and advancing shared goals. For example, when Dr. Monique Tello, MD, MPH spoke out in support of vaccinations, she was targeted by anti-vaxxers online. Through the support of #SoMeDocs, Dr. Tello wrote a widely circulated blog post about online harassment and intimidation against doctors and successfully had the fake one-star online reviews removed.

With all of this momentum, it is important to remember that social media is a public space, and it should not be used to share protected health information or sensitive personal material. Some physicians argue that these risks mean we physicians should stay away from social media. However, with the next generation of doctors spending at least a decade of their life on Instagram and Snapchat before medical school, we cannot simply ignore the fact the social media has its own place in health care. Universities have been taking notice and creating positions to legitimize social media. My alma mater, Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia has named Dr. Austin Chiang MD, MPH as their Chief Social Media Officer. Likewise, the newly established Association for Healthcare Social Media aims to create best practices by which all health care professionals can be guided and protected in this emerging field.

I’ve met quite a few physicians who are even just one generation older than I am that are suspicious of social media. To them, it’s extra, and it’s dangerous. I can’t help but wonder if there is an underlying fear that the next generation is going about things differently? It seems there is denial and wishful thinking; as if we can turn back the clock in time and go back to the good old days when physicians could practice medicine without the burdens of out of control billing and EMR demands. My generation has inherited the reigns, and in my opinion, we got into this mess by physicians keeping themselves separate from other industries. Insurance companies took over medicine, and meanwhile, physicians were seeing patients, writing notes and faxing orders. We assumed that if we were providing excellent patient care, the rest would fall in line, and the work would speak for itself. Fast forward, and here we are. Part of what’s gotten us off track in medicine is the dehumanization of patients and doctors. By sharing our stories, we remind the public that we are human too. We have successes and failures, tragedies and triumphs. We are human. I believe that doctors can serve patients, be professional, and make our opinions known. In fact, it’s our duty, and our profession depends on it.

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Pharma comms should forget its social media FOMO and realize that they're the gold standard

Pharma comms should forget its social media FOMO and realize that they're the gold standard | Social Media and Healthcare |

You’re not missing out in your use of social media in pharma comms, argues Duncan Arbour.

In fact, for the past 10 years, since Gordon Brown was in Downing Street and George W Bush in the White House, if you looked at the agendas for events like this, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the eternal question keeping us up at night is still: “How can we do social with the freedom of our unregulated peers?”

Pharma marketing seems to have its own sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) that’s even seen a trope emerge at other ‘pharma digital’ conferences of rolling out keynote speakers from other sectors – presented to us as if they’re inspirational relationship coaches for a lovelorn pharma sector desperately trying to match with its audiences. 

But right now there’s never been a better time to re-evaluate who you look to for this coaching. 

Because let’s face it, it’s not Bush in the White House any more is it? 

And the romantic ideal of social media as a sunny utopia seems increasingly out of step in a post-Cambridge Analytica world. 

Look at the bigger picture of consumer marketing trends and you’ll see that right now some of the world’s largest marketing organisations, including Unilever and Procter & Gamble, are demanding higher standards and greater accountability from platforms such as Facebook and Google. 

They’re fed up with ad fraud, fake profiles and the apparent absence of ethics. 

Consumers themselves are also disillusioned. 

For the past few years, reading the annual Edelman Trust Barometer has been like slowing down to look at a car crash, only to realise that the cars are society and we’re all in the back without a seatbelt. 

Trust in social platforms, and even in ‘people like us’, continues to decline; while trust in traditional media is at an historic high. 

In fact, I’d say there’s every chance that in the next few years increased checks and balances, including self-regulation, will become common in other sectors – the brands we may look at enviously now may soon be looking enviously at us instead. 

So, remember that however dizzyingly and distractingly fast the world might be moving right now, it will never move this slowly again. 

There’s never been a better time to slow down and rethink exactly what you want from your social activities, and how to achieve this. 

Importantly, as demonstrated by speakers from companies including Pfizer and Novartis at this month’s PharmaComms, 10 years of resilience and commitment has given our sector some stand-out examples to look to for inspiration. 

These are examples that place a premium not just on technology, but on humanity – on society, culture and values. 

So put aside any feelings of FOMO, put aside the questions of “can we do this?” and celebrate the attention to detail that makes your own sector’s engagements with its audiences so valuable, rather than looking longingly at those in other industries. 

Yours is a sector that now shows clear leadership, and here’s to the next 10 years when it’s those leaders who show the rest of them how relationships should really be done. 

Duncan Arbour is senior vice president of innovation at Syneos Health Communications Europe

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The Positive Side of Negative Patient Reviews

The Positive Side of Negative Patient Reviews | Social Media and Healthcare |

an negative patient reviews help you attract more patients?

Why are negative patient reviews considered less harmful?

When and how should you respond to negative reviews?

Most potential patients consider a lot of factors when choosing their healthcare provider, and online reviews rank high on the list. Online patient reviews are more critical than recommendations by friends and family. However, is positive feedback the only beneficial aspect for your medical practice? What if we turn the tables and see negative patient reviews as a blessing in disguise?

According to healthcare marketing experts, even negative publicity can benefit your bottom line. It all depends on whether potential patients are already aware of your products and services. Online reviews make potential patients aware of your offerings that they would otherwise not know about. Considering this, it would be safe to conclude that every online review has a positive impact. The increased attention will help improve product recognition and boost sales volume.
So, what is the real deal with negative patient reviews?


Why Are Negative Patient Reviews Considered Good?

Obviously, having only negative reviews of your medical practice or staff is not good for your brand image. You will probably end up out of business sooner or later. However, sometimes positive reviews can also reduce sales. For instance, a review such as “Best doctor!” can reduce your patient volume. “What do you mean?” you might ask.

We all love to hear experiences and stories. And a two-word story does not provide any context. Why is he or she the best doctor? Is it because of availability, or depth of knowledge, or patient-friendly attitude? Maybe the services offered are superb? The review does not tell potential patients anything. How would it encourage a new patient to visit your practice?

Moreover, reviews like “convenient location” make it seem like there was nothing else positive about the entire experience. One-sentence reviews can result in loss of brand reputation, a drop in patient volume and can seriously impact your bottom line.

On the other hand, a detailed and well-written negative review can help increase sales. This is because such reviews provide a specific description of what is wrong with the product or service. In addition, if it is not a key consideration for the potential patient, he or she might end up visiting your practice anyway.

What is your first thought when you see a brand or a product with 100 percent positive reviews or the highest score? Most people get suspicious. According to a study, 95 percent of potential customers are wary of fake reviews if there are no bad reviews. The point is, uniformly posted positive reviews can reduce trust. No one is perfect. Receiving bad feedback, responding to it professionally and not trying to delete or counter it create an impression of frankness and honesty. Most potential patients look for negative online reviews to establish the credibility of a practice and its services. All of this is proven.

According to research by Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center, the likelihood of purchasing a product with five online reviews is 270 percent greater than a product with no online reviews. Here, the nature of online reviews does not matter. Both positive and negative reviews will help increase sales.

If you are wondering if there is a perfect rating or number of online reviews that you should strive for, then the answer is: Yes. The possibility of a potential patient considering your practice or service will peak at star ratings between 4.0 and 4.7 and may decrease in the 4.7 to 5.0 range. Most online searchers consider the highest ratings as too good to be true. In addition, while potential patients interact with negative reviews, they tend to spend more time on your website reading about your services. This gives them more time to get to know your practice. As a result, those potential patients are more likely to convert.

Identifying and Responding to Negative Reviews

You cannot simply leave a negative review on a third-party website and do nothing about it. If you want to benefit from a review, negative or positive, you have to handle it accordingly. Negative online reviews may stay negative forever if you do not respond to them and try to turn them around.

First of all, it is important to be aware of all the reviews. This may sound obvious, but with so many third-party websites and social media platforms, it might be a challenge to keep track. You can consider a social media monitoring tool to help you keep track of online reviews.

So, it has happened: You have received a fresh negative review. In order to make it the secret weapon to attract the attention of potential patients, react to it. According to a study by Review Trackers, 53 percent of people expect businesses to reply to their online reviews within seven days. Timing is extremely important here. The faster you react, the greater the chance you will contain the crisis.

According to findings by Yelp, responding to a negative online review within 24 hours will make that reviewer 33 percent more likely to upgrade his or her review. And if you respond with a personalized message, you may even hit the customer-service jackpot. Responding quickly and professionally to unfavorable reviews will also help you retain your existing patients. It is important to act fast, but that is just the beginning. What should you do next?

Dealing With Negative Reviews

Speed is not the only crucial factor when dealing with negative online reviews. It is also important to:

    • Understand the issues and find the underlying cause.
    • Create a personal connection between yourself and the reviewer. It is a good practice to add the name of the employee responding to all the reviews on social media and third-party sites. This will help your patients know who is handling their concern.
    • Be empathetic. Responding to negative reviews can improve patient advocacy. Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful forms of healthcare marketing.
    • Investigate the problem. If it is your patient’s fault, be polite and do not lose your patience. Explain your point of view and find the middle ground.

Remember this: Most of the time, two types of patients will write negative opinions about your practice or service. The first type are the patients who actually had a problem with your service. You can resolve their problems and turn them into loyal patients. The second types of reviewers are the ones seeking attention or benefits and monetary gain. In such cases, try to fight the trolls by taking the dispute offline. If they are really interested in resolving the issue, they will be happy to take the chat offline.

Appreciate the Reviews – Even Negative Ones

Negative reviews can also play an integral role in your product development and service improvement. Have you ever tried to collect surveys from your existing patients? No doubt surveys are time-consuming and difficult to implement, and even if some of your patients would like to answer all the questions, they just forget about it in their everyday lives.

If you look at it from a different perspective, negative feedback is a goldmine of knowledge – it is your patients’ perception of your service. And the best part is, you don’t even have to ask for it or chase your patients for it. Patients know better than anyone what aspects are missing from your services. It is essential to listen to what your patients really need.

You are always listening to your patients, even if it is through harsh and rude negative remarks, and that should give you enough time to fix all the problems before they escalate. And while you are busy responding to negative reviews, take time to post a short and personalized comment to good reviews, as well. This will show your patients that you do care about them all the time, and not just when you have to put out a fire.


Time is crucial, so react quickly and empathize with your patients. Most likely, you will get a second chance if you ask for it. In addition, maybe your outstanding patient service will go viral on social networks, and you will get bonus points in the form of new patients. Negative reviews can influence conversion rates. It would be a shame not to leverage this opportunity.

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Can Social Media Cure Cancer?

Can Social Media Cure Cancer? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Cancer kills more people in the United States than accidents, stroke, . In 2017, despite spending 147 billion U.S. healthcare dollars on cancer care, 600,000 people died from cancer and 1.7 million new people  with cancer. But the news is not all grim: in all, from cancer over the past 25 years, due to a consistent yearly decrease in cancer deaths.

The improvement in cancer mortality- i.e. how likely are you to die from your newly diagnosed cancer- is the direct result of advances in cancer detection and cancer care. Clinical trials fuel this progress. At their core, clinical trials seek to improve on the current accepted treatment for a given cancer.   By enrolling patients into a clinical trial, researchers can offer investigational or unproven treatment and , or failure, in an unbiased way.

Patients with cancer are often motivated and engaged with their physicians and treatment decisions. The majority of patients seek .  Unfortunately,  of patients with cancer in the United States participate in clinical trials. Why so few? Part of the reason is fear of the unknown. In a survey conducted by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York only 35% of patients responded they were “likely” to participate in a clinical trial, due to concerns about side effects, costs, location, and or unproven treatment. Yet, the actual percentage of patients who are enrolled in the U.S. is even lower, at only 5%.  The solution in increasing that rate may lie in harnessing the inherent power of social media.

Social media should be used to educate the public about the goal of clinical trials and to encourage more participation. Physicians need to create a visible presence online to dispel the common misbelief that clinical trials are only appropriate for patients who are dying, or for those left without any other treatments options.

A major deterrent to clinical trial enrollment is finding a trial you are eligible for. Social media can help recruit patients by raising awareness of open trials. Awareness is vital because the more quickly a trial is filled with patients, the sooner we can obtain its results. Trials that don’t accrue enough patients ultimately close, which means both wasted research dollars, and unanswered clinical trial questions. If we can spread awareness of open clinical trials on social media, more patients can enroll, which not only saves money, but aids the progress against cancer. As soon as we have an answer to one trial, researchers can move onto the next.

This trend has been slow to start. Researchers at the University of Southern California are investigating the utility of using Twitter to their institution’s clinical trials. Some patients contact physicians directly via social media, including an oncologist at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, who routinely receives messages via Twitter from patients interested in enrolling in a trial. She has also recently joined the , which is an online community for patients with colorectal cancer. In this patient forum, Dr. Eng highlights clinical trials for patients with colorectal cancer and directly answers questions posed to her about the trials. , an oncologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has had patients who initially searched the  of open clinical trials, who then contacted her study coordinator to enroll.

Online communities such as the Twitter group and the  Twitter group both host weekly Twitter-based chats to educate patients about lung cancer. These online communities were started by and are maintained by a cooperative of patients and physicians, and have had a strong impact facilitating patient advocacy and education, including information about clinical trials.

is an adult cancer clinical trials organization sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. It represents the combined efforts and members of the 3 founding cancer clinical trials organizations in the U.S.: the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), and the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG). I recently participated in their Social Media Working Group to help design their pilot program utilizing social media to share information about open clinical trials with patients.

, an oncologist at the University of Florida who headed this mission, said "NRG Oncology recognizes the need to engage patients where they are - which today, often includes social media.  To that end, the NRG Communications Committee, with valuable input from patient advocates, is developing a comprehensive pilot program of social media-based patient engagement for clinical trial awareness and participation." NRG also prioritizes a patient-centered approach when designing their trials, and works with patient advocates and representatives for all their programs.

This movement to expand direct patient-advertising is encouraging, but more needs to be done. Social media can offer more than just information about trials because of its ability to bring researchers and patients together remotely. Currently, many clinical trials are available only at large cancer hospitals because they have the resources to run, open, and maintain trials. FDA regulations require tremendous oversight at every aspect of trial implementation, which means that small hospitals often can’t afford to enroll patients on trials. If a patient wants to enroll onto a trial, they may be required to discontinue their care at their local hospital. This is a major deterrent for patients to enroll on trials. What if a patient in rural Idaho could be enrolled onto a trial at a major cancer center in NJ? Social media should be used to recreate the framework of trial design, starting with making it easier for patients to enroll remotely. Doing so would ease the burden for physicians and patients to recommend participation in clinical trials, especially at community hospitals and in underserved areas, who don’t have the resources to maintain their own trials.

Enrolling patients onto trials more quickly would free up research dollars to run more trials, such as patient-centered trials uniquely designed by a social media community. This untapped source of volunteers from across the U.S. would be able to participate in trials in unprecedented numbers. Researchers would have open channels of communication with large numbers of patients, who they could pose questions directly to, such as “what kind of trials are you willing to participate in?”

There are real barriers to this proposed social-media driven model. Patient privacy must be protected, which means implementing strict protocols for sharing confidential patient information.  Moreover, the language used to advertise clinical trials is strictly regulated:  the future of social media driven clinical trials cannot include pitches like “Come join our trial to save your life!” Researchers need to obtain informed consent from each trial participant, which is more difficult when done remotely. And, monitoring the day-to-day running of the trial may be cumbersome, due to different physicians’ treatment style, monitoring of side effects, and determination of treatment success or failure. While the above obstacles will necessitate careful attention, the time has some to utilize social media for improving cancer care. Let’s investigate new ways to engage patients, not simply funnel them into our current inadequate paradigm.

The sooner we embrace it, the more lives we can potentially save.

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Causal Relationships Among Pollen Counts, Tweet Numbers, and Patient Numbers for Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis Surveillance

Causal Relationships Among Pollen Counts, Tweet Numbers, and Patient Numbers for Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis Surveillance | Social Media and Healthcare |

Background: Health-related social media data are increasingly used in disease-surveillance studies, which have demonstrated moderately high correlations between the number of social media posts and the number of patients. However, there is a need to understand the causal relationship between the behavior of social media users and the actual number of patients in order to increase the credibility of disease surveillance based on social media data.

Objective: This study aimed to clarify the causal relationships among pollen count, the posting behavior of social media users, and the number of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis in the real world.

Methods: This analysis was conducted using datasets of pollen counts, tweet numbers, and numbers of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis from Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. We examined daily pollen counts for Japanese cedar (the major cause of seasonal allergic rhinitis in Japan) and hinoki cypress (which commonly complicates seasonal allergic rhinitis) from February 1 to May 31, 2017. The daily numbers of tweets that included the keyword “kafunshō” (or seasonal allergic rhinitis) were calculated between January 1 and May 31, 2017. Daily numbers of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis from January 1 to May 31, 2017, were obtained from three healthcare institutes that participated in the study. The Granger causality test was used to examine the causal relationships among pollen count, tweet numbers, and the number of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis from February to May 2017. To determine if time-variant factors affect these causal relationships, we analyzed the main seasonal allergic rhinitis phase (February to April) when Japanese cedar trees actively produce and release pollen.

Results: Increases in pollen count were found to increase the number of tweets during the overall study period (P=.04), but not the main seasonal allergic rhinitis phase (P=.05). In contrast, increases in pollen count were found to increase patient numbers in both the study period (P=.04) and the main seasonal allergic rhinitis phase (P=.01). Increases in the number of tweets increased the patient numbers during the main seasonal allergic rhinitis phase (P=.02), but not the overall study period (P=.89). Patient numbers did not affect the number of tweets in both the overall study period (P=.24) and the main seasonal allergic rhinitis phase (P=.47).

Conclusions: Understanding the causal relationships among pollen counts, tweet numbers, and numbers of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis is an important step to increasing the credibility of surveillance systems that use social media data. Further in-depth studies are needed to identify the determinants of social media posts described in this exploratory analysis.

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How Providers Can Help Patients Become Better Healthcare Consumers

How Providers Can Help Patients Become Better Healthcare Consumers | Social Media and Healthcare |

The line between patient and payer has blurred. Patients find themselves acting more and more like general consumers when shopping for their healthcare. They research health topics and healthcare providers online, then base their care decisions on what they learn. Additionally, as patients bear more healthcare costs directly, they comparison shop for healthcare services, choosing what best fits their needs and their pocketbooks.

For healthcare providers, these new consumer behaviors present an opportunity to speak directly to patients through their online platforms.

Finding Healthcare Info Online is Now the Norm

More and more people look to the internet and social media for health and healthcare information.

In a series of reports called “The Social Life of Health Information,” Pew tracks and reports on how people seek and use the health information they find online. In 2014 Pew found that 72% of adult internet users had looked online for health information.

Health Union, in its own survey, found that 98% of respondents say they used resources they found online or in social media when experiencing a serious health condition. In this group, 73% say that the information they found online had some impact on their health decisions.

Patient Out-of-pocket Healthcare Spending is Massive

Patients have become directly responsible for more and more of the costs associated with healthcare.

McKinsey estimates that patients “now directly control $330 billion annually in out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, and the choices they make have the potential to affect 61% of all healthcare spending.”

In its 2017 Consumer Health Insights Survey McKinsey found that many people would like to be better healthcare consumers—able to make better decisions that meet their healthcare needs, including affordability—but they also doubted they could do that today.

Patients Seek Help to Become Better Healthcare Consumers

Through their online presence providers are well-positioned to help patients improve their ability to make better healthcare decisions. Here are three key strategies you can use to do this.


Patients look online for healthcare information. Engage with them by being online and being easy to find. Having a website and a social media presence are the most effective ways to reach patients searching for healthcare info.


Patients are concerned about the condition of their health and their cost of treatment. Inform them about both. While there may be a wealth of health information available online, information about costs and insurance coverage is harder to come by. Publishing information about how you help your patients understand and anticipate their out-of-pocket costs will differentiate you and your practice.


Patients want to understand the differences among both their treatment options and the providers available to them. Educate patients about the approach you take through your online presence and your practice will stand out.

You Can Help Patients Become Better Healthcare Consumers

You may feel hesitant to take on building and maintaining an active, informative online presence for your practice. After all, writing copy for a website or effectively using social media requires specialized skills that you or your staff may not have.

If this is the case, consider hiring an agency like Healthcare Marketing Network.

At Healthcare Marketing Network we offer customized healthcare-related content creation. Our team of subject matter experts is made up of professionals with clinical and health industry experience. We’re ready to produce the healthcare content you and your patients are looking for.

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We need to embrace digital education and adapt it to improve patient care

We need to embrace digital education and adapt it to improve patient care | Social Media and Healthcare |

Recent years have seen many advances in education for cardiologists, but little attention has been paid to the impact of new technologies, particularly digital platforms and social networking. Digital education is evolving so rapidly that most patients, clinicians, and institutions have had little time to digest the changes. The 5th European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Education Conference, held at the European Heart House in Sophia Antipolis (France) in 2018, addressed the challenges and opportunities in training digital cardiologists. In this commentary, Xavier Rosselló and Dipak Kotecha look at the what the ESC is doing to embrace digital education.

The ESC is a not-for-profit professional organisation representing 57 countries, and the annual education conference brings together national directors of training with youth and patient representatives. The main outcomes of the conference have been summarised at, reflecting on six domains: social media, apps, online resources, remote assessment, educating patients and defining reliable information.

Major challenges identified in social media were the digital divide between younger and older professionals, and the inability to control some social media content. However, the highly interactive nature of these resources can facilitate scientific exchange of knowledge, and provide a broad dissemination of educational material.


Mobile applications are frequently used at a patient’s bedside (for example, to calculate risk scores) and for “on-the-job” education, though finding reliable content that is up-to-date can be tricky, and privacy and confidentiality present further difficulties. But, there is potential to develop multitasking apps for real-time collaboration to enhance professional discussions, and to produce patient-tailored content to enhance self-care and adherence to therapy.

The use of online resources, web-based education, and clinical case galleries is limited by time constraints, and by the difficulty of finding high quality content. This provides an opportunity for an agency such as the ESC to provide unbiased educational content (in contrast to industry supported learning), assist in continued e-learning, and promote “micro-learning” to improve basic skills.

Remote assessment is still developing in many countries across the ESC, and is hampered by a lack of homogeneous structured learning programmes across countries. However, there is now evidence of a greater acceptance of the need for curricula that can transcend national borders (

Educating patients through digital means has many potential advantages—it can improve shared care approaches and make clinical practice more patient-centred. There is still much to be done in this field, and the ESC is moving swiftly forward with patient forums and committee representation, as well as specific projects in cardiovascular diseases, such as atrial fibrillation (

Defining reliable information online can be problematic, and publication and industry biases add an extra layer of complexity specific to medical education. Better approaches are also needed to protect users, and to provide solutions to prevent or deal with online harassment.

The way we deliver and receive education is undergoing intense transformation. Though digital technologies have massive potential, they come at a price—there is a direct impact on patient care, and many challenges have to be faced for these tools to further improve medical education. A modern day cardiologist needs to be able to use digital tools for clinical practice, teaching and training, and interacting with patients. To promote digital cardiologists of the future, curricula and methods for training need to be adapted to reflect the expectations of the new digital era.

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How to Get More New Patients Looking at Your Website

How to Get More New Patients Looking at Your Website | Social Media and Healthcare |

The primary goal of your dental marketing strategy is to get more traffic to your practice website and to drive new patients. But that can be a daunting task, so how can you get more eyes on your website?

1 – Incorporate New Patient Forms Online

Online forms are a great way to drive patient traffic to your website and simplify first visits. Online forms can also help streamline front office tasks and cut out unnecessary paper that is used in the new patient on-boarding process. If you have online forms, make sure that your front office staff is sending new patients to your website to fill them out.

Learn more about how Smile Savvy’s secure online forms can improve your dental practice.

2 – Promote Your Practice on Social Media

Your dental practice’s social media platforms are the best way to stay in front of patients, and funnel more traffic back to your website. You can do this by regularly posting useful dental content, and linking back to your website. Post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, and be sure to use a call to action (CTA) that asks your audience to go back to your website.

Find out how Smile Savvy can help manage your dental practice’s social media.

3 – Create Community-Centric Blog Content

You can use your dental practice blog to write about important issues is dentistry, share about new technologies or procedures, and ultimately become the go-to dental resource for your community. But you can also use your blog to write about popular things in your community. Think outside the box by writing blog posts such as  “The top 5 parks in Your City,” or, “Our 4 Favorite Burgers in Our Hometown,” whatever it is, be sure that it’s related to your community, and touches on areas of interest in your service area.

Need help blogging?  Smile Savvy provides AAPD-centered original blog writing for your dental practice.  You can get a new blog post for your website every other week.

4 – Activate Your Advocates! 

Ask your biggest fans to post about their experience not just on review sites, but on community groups and moms’ groups on Facebook. This can be a great way to earn more new patients because personal recommendations play a big role in swaying someone to make a healthcare decision. Vocal brand advocates can take your dental practice to new heights by sharing your brand with their audiences, so do your best to earn brand advocates, and recognize and reward their work.

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Ideas for Live Social Media Interactions to Market Your Practice

Ideas for Live Social Media Interactions to Market Your Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media at its best is about interaction. Here are ways you can use social media to engage with current, and prospective, patients, to help build your practice.

In the last few years, social media has morphed from conversation and content to now being an established channel for patient acquisition, re-marketing, and engaging existing fans to support retention programs. Many practices are beginning to see large increases in patient traffic to their offices’ digital media and physical locations due to effective social media interactions.

Here are three ways to make your social media more effective:
One key to making social media effective is to make it interactive. Quizzes and polls are a great way to create interactive content. It’s better if the quizzes are fun.


Barbara Walters once asked Katherine Hepburn in an interview, “What kind of tree are you?” Are you an oak, an evergreen, or a pine? Yes, that is a silly question, but you thought about it for a second, didn’t you? You’re engaged, and that’s the point.

Quizzes and polls can help your audience determine where they stand and, at the same time, give you an opportunity to explain how you can help. “What is your favorite color of tinted sunglasses? Results to be posted tomorrow with an explanation of the pros and cons of each color.”

Quizzes and polls also give you the ability to create double content – once when you post the quiz, and another when you post the results of the quiz.

You do not have to re-create the wheel. There are built-in polls for you to use on Twitter, Facebook Pages, Facebook groups and Instagram Stories.

Multiple-Choice Posts
With a signed HIPAA marketing release form and pictures of the same patient wearing several pairs of different sunglasses, you can create a fun activity. “Which pair of sunglasses should Karen purchase?” The patient will send this out to their friends and fans with the result being that the circle of people you touch widens and widens as it goes viral.

Interactive Videos
Interactive videos have the most reach and engagement of any content type. YouTube allows for simple video interaction cards. These can lead your viewer to subscribe to your channel or watch a related video or playlist. Interactive videos have tools to help you set it up so there are click-throughs to landing pages, quizzes, or you can even set it up so that the videos play certain sections based on the viewer’s choices.

These are just some of the ways in which you can use interactive content. The more that you utilize engagement the better your social media reach will be. The goal of social media is not to market specific products to patients, the goal is to touch their heart strings with interactive content that contains incredible stories or funny experiences.

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