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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Physicians can use Social Media to Connect with Patients - Why should they?

Physicians can use Social Media to Connect with Patients - Why should they? | Social Media and Healthcare |


According to Pew Internet, 72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year.  While this shows a positive trend in consumers taking an interest in their health, this percentage can also bring issues as those seeking information online begin to “self-diagnose” while viewing incorrect or fictitious medical advice. Social media gives physicians and practices the ability to provide relative, factual information to their patients and guide them to correct advice.  By establishing a reputation for disseminating relevant educational information, patients will tend to refer to your advice before searching randomly for outside information


Often times, patients are looking to connect with others that may be experiencing similar circumstances.  Numerous examples of patients undergoing treatment for serious diseases such as cancer have been referenced when it comes to emotional support garnered from social media.  Allowing patients to discuss and confide with one another can bring additional inspiration and well-being to those in a difficult position.


Social media provides a space for practices and physicians to welcome new and current patients to the organization.  Posting pictures of staff members and in office events let patients know those working in the office are much more than healthcare providers, but rather people just like them!  Be sure to get your physicians involved and share information about what they like to do outside of the office and give patients the chance to see further into their provider’s personality.

Many organizations report much higher engagement in non-medical postings than information relating directly to healthcare.  The more you create a brand personality, the more your patients will feel like they are a part of the group!


Those that have taken the time to like your page or follow you on Twitter rarely want to simply sit back and take in information; they want to get involved!  Feature contests with fun giveaways, trivia, or ask questions about their opinions.  Again, the more you involve and form relationships with those engaged in your social media presence the more they will feel included.


Social media is a great way to get the word out about accomplishments, awards or upcoming events.  Use these outlets as a way to share information about your practice with customers.  When you are promoting specials, contests or events, it would be impossible to pick up the phone and call all your patients to alert them; however, social media allows you to do just that… spread the word!

Be creative, post a picture or video to promote an event or interview a physician about a recent accomplishment.  Use these platforms to promote your business by sharing what you do best and getting others involved in your practice!Social media offers many valuable attributes. 

As more patients continue to include themselves in the conversation and enter the social media space, be sure your practice is available to them.  Go it alone, or invest in some assistance; either way, now is the time to get involved!

shelbylaneMD's curator insight, September 28, 2013 3:54 PM

And Beware of HIPAA

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How Social Media Is Changing Organ Donation

How Social Media Is Changing Organ Donation | Social Media and Healthcare |

In the age of social media, doctors, patients, and ethicists face new dilemmas over organ transplants.

Many of us have seen the pictures of Sarah Murnaghan, a little girl with brown hair named sitting in a hospital bed with a machine strapped to her nose, forcing oxygen in and out of her lungs. She needed a lung transplant, but medical rules typically prevent children under twelve from receiving adult lungs—and pediatric lungs are rarely available.

In May, 2013, Murnaghan’s family started a petition on the Web site, asking the organ-allocation rule makers to reverse their policy. It led to a lawsuit in which a federal judge ruled in early June that Murnaghan should be eligible to join the adult transplant list. She received a pair of adult lungs a week later. The lungs failed, and she received another pair three days after that. Today, she’s alive and recovering.

Patient stories have always driven change in medicine.

But in the realm of organ-transplant allocation and social media, which suddenly makes it possible to find donors, promote exceptions to organ-allocation rules, and even force a hospital to reverse its medical judgment, the implications have some bioethicists and physicians squirming.

How do we keep organ distribution from morphing into a popularity contest, where those with the most sympathetic stories win, or are allowed to change the rules?

“The obvious potential problem is that someone who’s smart or connected can make the system work for them in ways that other people without those advantages can’t,” Dan O’Connor, a Johns Hopkins researcher who studies the ethics of the exchange of medical information in online social networks, told me. “Whenever you’re using platforms like Facebook, the question is, what kind of person, what demographic profile has the time and energy and communication skills to make this work?”

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Useful Social Media Suggestions for Hospitals to Market Themselves

Useful Social Media Suggestions for Hospitals to Market Themselves | Social Media and Healthcare |

Here are 5 excellent suggestions offered by Marianne Aiello in an article for HealthcareLeaders Media.  It’s republished in its entirety.

In 2013 the new millennium officially became a teenager. And like all teenagers, it is seriously addicted to social media. Really, mom and dad should consider limiting its data plan.

Hospitals, however, are still playing catch up in the social media space. There are plenty of excuses, from staffing problems to technical ditziness.  But none is acceptable anymore. MySpace, the granddaddy of social media, was created ten years ago. It’s time the healthcare industry got with it.

 An infographic by Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group highlights just where hospitals stand in the social space. Only 26% use social media. No, that is not a typo—just one-quarter of hospitals in the US use any type of social media. Of those,

  • 84% are on Facebook
  • 64% are on Twitter
  • 46% are on YouTube
  • 12% blog

So that’s where we stand. Now let’s look at healthcare consumers.

About one-third of consumers use social sites for health-related matters. And these patients are sharing their experiences, with 44% of respondents saying they were likely or very likely to share a positive experience they had with a hospital.

More notably, 40% said they were likely or very likely to share a negative experience they had with a hospital.

So like it or not, patients are talking about your organization on social media sites. It’s a hospital marketer’s duty to be there to listen, share successes, and respond to complaints. Let’s take a tip from the newly pimple-faced millennium and get social.

Here are five resolutions all hospital marketers should make for the coming year.

1.    Tell powerful patient stories.

Perhaps the greatest value of social media is the ability to quickly and easily connect with patients. From there, it’s up to the marketer to make this connection meaningful.

Often, the best way to accomplish this is by telling meaningful, powerful patient stories. Luckily for us, these stories already exist out there. We just have to find them. 

To do this, track any keyword or hashtag that relates to your organization. A third party platform such as HootSuite can facilitate this. If you don’t find much, start soliciting  patient stories.

From there, you can share them on Facebook, re-tweet them on Twitter, or write up a blog post, which you can then link to on Facebook and Twitter. In some cases, YouTube may be the best storytelling medium. 

There are countless ways to share positive patient experiences through social media. And the more often you do it, the easier the process will become.

2.    Do something innovative.

Another benefit of social media campaigns versus traditional marketing campaigns is that you can afford to take more risks. 

If a marketing campaign bombs, you’ve wasted money on print materials and advertising space. But, in most cases, if a social media campaign misses the mark you’re only real cost is the time it took to execute it. 

Besides, in social media taking a risk can pay off big.

Here are some ideas to get your gears turning:

  • Live-tweet a surgery to highlight a service line
  • Experiment with fundraising through Facebook
  • Set up a weekly doc Q&A time on Twitter
  • Use social media to attract new physicians and staff
  • Ask a patient to live-tweet a “day in the life” at your organization

Get creative and see what sticks. As a bonus, local press love to cover innovative hospital social marketing efforts.

3.    Take a hard look at risk management. 

Of course, using social media to promote your organization has its risks. As much as people enjoy sharing positive feedback online, they seem to enjoy sharing negative feedback even more. It’s the nature of the beast. But this is absolutely not a reason to avoid social media altogether.

Like I said before, social media is about 10 years old. Most people using social media aren’t new. Therefore, most people using social media know that the anonymity users have on some sites turn people into hate-filled harping conspiracy theorists. 

You can just tell when a commenter has taken a couple crazy pills. Most internet users put everything they read online through a filter and, for marketers, this acts as a barrier of sorts. 

That said, there are some steps you should take to mitigate your social media risk. Make sure that you have a comprehensive social media policy for employees and that the policy is up to date.

Employees should sign a document stating that they understand they are not to post any patient information or any negative comments about the organization. 

I’m amazed at how often I see a high school classmate post on Facebook about how much they hate their nursing job and mentioning the hospital by name. 

It’s also important to make sure all providers understand where the boundary lies when communicating with patients on social media. While you’re at it, ask physicians if they have a public Twitter account or blog where they postulate about anything healthcare related. 

Doctors  represent your organization, so it’s critical to know what they’re putting out there. Social media savvy docs can also be great allies when formulating a new campaign

4.    Keep an eye on your peers.

The healthcare industry as a whole is behind the curve, but many hospitals are true social media standouts. Keep an eye on these organizations to see how they launch campaigns, respond to criticism, and deal with employees. 

The Mayo Clinic tops the list of social media trailblazers and provides helpful information to other organizations through its Center for Social Media.

 UPMC is also a top organization to go to for social media tips, especially it’s well maintained Facebook page.

And if you’re looking for Twitter inspiration, check out Brigham and Women’s account. They tweet a variety of posts on anything from health topics to hospital rankings to volunteer opportunities.

5.    Track everything.

None of this counts if you can’t view the statistics that tell you which efforts are working, which fell flat, which are tapering off, and which have found a second life. Keep count of your followers and likes, of how many people clicked your links, of how long visitors stayed on that blog post. 

This information will help you better tailor future social campaigns and give you solid numbers to report to your superiors.

With these five resolutions, hospital marketers should be able to commit to having a strong presence in the social media world now and for years to come—or at least until the millennium gets its braces off.

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Healthcare Marketing Innovation: What's missing?

Healthcare Marketing Innovation: What's missing? | Social Media and Healthcare |
When was the last time you got a tweet from your doctor? Does your specialist have a Facebook page? Can you find out what is going on at your physician's practice from her blog? The answer to these questions is probably “no.” The healthcare industry has been lagging behind in their marketing efforts. This is unfortunate because many potential patients are looking for health information online. Institutions and practices that can provide valuable online content about health issues will have an advantage for attracting and retaining patients.

The healthcare industry has struggled with this for a wide variety of reasons. First, there are many concerns about privacy. The personal nature of social media and blogs makes healthcare professionals reluctant to share information on these platforms. They do not want to compromise privacy. Second, healthcare professionals are not used to relating in a peer-to-peer setting with their clients. Doctors are often protected by a wide array of gatekeepers and are used to relating as authority figures. The open connectivity of social media is not the way that healthcare professionals are accustomed to relating to patients, even if they have recently completed a health care degree. Finally, staffing shortages and increased demand for services make it difficult to devote the necessary time to this form of marketing.

Despite the challenges, healthcare professionals should look more seriously at their marketing process. This includes content and social media marketing. More or less, this would mean that healthcare institutions and practices would have to maintain active blogs and social media accounts in order to engage with potential and current patients. They would have to create valuable content, answer questions, reply to complaints and be proactive in creating an online brand. There are many ways that healthcare institutions might do this. Here are just a few that can be effective.

One option is for doc tors to create introductory videos for their websites. These videos will allow a potential patient to get a sense of who that doctor is before the first appointment. If they also contain information about what patients will experience at their first office visit and what information they will need to bring, videos like these can also create positive experiences at the office that will help with patient retention.

Blogs need to share accurate and timely information. There is often a lot of misinformation on the internet. If a physician's office can provide accurate information, patients will pay attention. For example, if the doctor can provide information about the flu season and when flu shots are available, people will start to follow the doctor on their social media accounts. They will then be able to receive other information from the doctor and they may even share this information with their friends. By sharing timely and accurate information, the practice can attract new patients and help their regular patients stay connected.

Another strategy is to use blogs and social media to attract the attention of more traditional mainstream media. Journalists are always looking for human interest stories. If the practice has a real success story that is posted on their blog (with permission of the patient), they can inform the mainstream media about this. If journalists pick up the story, it is free public relations for the practice.

There are many other ways that healthcare professionals can benefit from the use of new online marketing methods. Effectively using these techniques can provide valuable information for patients as well as attracting and retaining patients for the practice. It is import for the healthcare industry to start adopting these methods so they can analyze and track their progress more efficiently.

About the Author: Blake completed his undergraduate degree in Justice Studies from Arizona State University. Blake has also recently worked in higher education and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Business.
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Google+ for Physicians: A Free Tool for Reputation Management

Google+ for Physicians: A Free Tool for Reputation Management | Social Media and Healthcare |

With the expansion of rich information found on social media and review websites, the modern patient is empowered like never before. Researching physicians is as simple as browsing for a car or laptop: search engines and rating websites provide current or former patients a platform for sharing their experiences.

Reputation management is a global process that begins and ends with networking sites like Google+. Social media is changing the healthcare game into something much more interactive. That is an exciting concept for professionals looking to amp up their referral systems.

Why Online Reputation Matters in Healthcare

People are increasingly referring to mobile devices to perform research online. A study by the Pew Research Center suggests that one in five people who use the internet to find a doctor rely on physician ratings.

The flip side of an internet presence is the potential for damaging feedback – that is the basis of reputation management. Any brand or physician should habitually search its name on Google to look for negative reviews or comments. In the medical world, this is how doctors keep up on what their patients are saying about them and what future patients see.

How does Social Media Fit into Healthcare?

A social media page on Google+ adds a way for doctors to better connect with the public. It’s an upbeat way to manage professional reputation and improve patient care. Patients see the bond with their physician as a very personal one. They appreciate the opportunity to vocalize their satisfaction or frustration with a specific physician or experience.

Social media creates an e-patient scenario that allows the physician to promote healthy living, generate trust, and market the healthcare brand. For a doctor, time is in short supply, but fostering a positive reputation online allows you to stay ahead of the curve.

Building a Social Media Voice

The process of developing a “voice” will differ among physicians and service lines. A doctor with a full practice might spend only one hour a week on Google managing his online reputation, while a new cosmetic surgeon will need to commit much more time to creating a brand. Other doctors use their online voice to educate and promote wellness as a way to further their patient’s quality of care. Most businesses, medical or otherwise, realize the power of a professional website. Social media is just another tool to amplify that voice.

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Social Media Marketing for Doctors Offices in 3 Easy Steps

Social Media Marketing for Doctors Offices in 3 Easy Steps | Social Media and Healthcare |

Many physicians not only understand but use social media to improve relationships with patients and find new ones. Social media marketing for your medical practice is an efficient way to enhance marketing and bring in new patients.

It can be a little challenging to connect with patients outside your clinic or hospital. Many doctors use Medical blogs, Facebook and Twitter accounts to make this connection. Below are a few tips on using social media marketing for doctors offices.

1. Build Relationships 

You can develop loyalty and trust with both your prospective and current patients through social media. Add patient staff interviews and patient testimonials on YouTube and upload these to social media sites for more coverage. Creating a professional profile for networking on LinkedIn can better your practice as well and help you to network and build relationships with potential patients.

2. Read & Respond to Reviews

People tend to leave reviews on social media sites about other businesses and practitioners. Make sure you are not just reading reviews of your practice but also leaving feedback and making positive responses to them. You can really influence your reputation by staying active on these sites and interacting rather than having reactions or doing nothing at all.

3. Test the waters

You will want to dive into many different social media sites, however, be careful not to spread yourself out too thin. Facebook is a popular place to be, and so is Tumblr and Twitter. To effectively develop an online reputation, you will need to embrace diversity and get involved in a few social sites, just start off slowly. This will enable you to test out your audience.

Other things you can do include:

  • Offer in-depth knowledge and healthcare tips
  • Make suggestions on new healthcare services and products
  • Interact and engage with your followers and community

By staying active on social media sites and offering things like healthcare tips, products and more, you can stay active and avoid conduct that is unprofessional. You can stay social by making new product recommendations to help your social following stay healthy. Community interaction will encourage more people to participate and keep them around. If you receive feedback from a patient, make sure you go back and respond or share feedback as well. Being active online through social media will really benefit your medical practice and let people know you are available more than just in the office.

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Healthcare Marketing to Caregivers - A new Focus for Practices online

Healthcare Marketing to Caregivers - A new Focus for Practices online | Social Media and Healthcare |

According to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center, almost 40% of adults in the U.S. are currently caring for an adult or child with significant health issues. These unpaid “caregivers” may come from a wide range of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, but they face similar challenges when it comes to making decisions that can significantly affect the health and wellbeing of their patients as well as their own lives. 

While traditional healthcare marketing efforts have been focused primarily on educating and influencing patients, new research shows that family caregivers are often just as influential (if not more so) than patients when it comes to making choices about health providers, products and services. With a rapidly aging population contributing to an increase in caregivers, it’s vitally important for healthcare marketers to understand the behaviors, needs and interests of this audience.

Understanding how caregivers research, evaluate and make decisions for both their patients and themselves can lead to more effective ways of getting our messages out and improving brand recognition within this influential but underserved audience.

Caregivers Search for Health Information Online

One of the most interesting findings of the Pew study is that caregivers are more likely than the general population to search for health information online. Eighty-four percent of caregivers with internet access say they went online within the past year to research health topics such as medical procedures, health insurance and drug safety. And of those caregivers, 80% used a search engine.

Although the importance of maintaining a robust web presence is not new for marketers, regardless of industry, the Pew data underscores the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) when it comes to increasing exposure and driving qualified traffic. Organizations that rank highly in organic search have a greater chance of attracting information seeking users and then converting them into prospects, leads and then customers.

Juggernauts like WebMD and Wikipedia may get the lion’s share of these health-related queries, but there are many opportunities for smart organizations to improve their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) that relate directly to the products and services they offer. Through proper keyword research, active link-building, and the creation of useful, useable, authoritative content using their subject matter expertise, healthcare organizations can improve brand exposure and increase qualified upper-funnel traffic to their websites.

Caregivers Use Social Media

Caregivers often look to search engines to help them find medical information, but they’re also relying on social media, online groups and discussion forums to connect with other caregivers, get and give support, and exchange recommendations and tips on common challenges. In fact, social media use among adults ages 50-64 (the prime caregiving years) increased more than 400% from 2008 to 2012 (source).

And while Twitter and Facebook may be appropriate for sharing and getting support and recommendations from friends and family, caregivers may not always feel comfortable sharing personal health information on these semi-public platforms. A number of sites such as CareZone have recently launched that merge the community aspects of social media with tools for helping caregivers communicate in private groups and manage the care of a loved one.

Healthcare organizations have multiple opportunities to connect with caregivers through these social channels. Whether it’s advertising on social media or communities geared towards caregivers, creating and distributing relevant, engaging content through these same channels, or even building their own in-house tools and support networks for caregivers, the power of social sharing and engagement to build trust and generate interest can’t be ignored.

Caregivers Perform Complicated Medical/Nursing Tasks

In addition to normal day-to-day care, a 2012 study by the AARP Public Policy Institute found that almost half of all caregivers are also in charge of performing complex medical or nursing tasks, such as managing multiple medications, providing wound care, dealing with special diets, and even operating specialized medical equipment. Unfortunately, those caregivers also reported that they’ve received little support or training from health professionals on how to perform these tasks, causing them added stress and worry about making a mistake.

Because of this unmet need, healthcare organizations have a great opportunity to target caregivers with additional training resources and content to help them learn how to manage these tasks effectively and reduce their stress. Whether it’s an application to help caregivers manage multiple medications, a detailed how-to guide for operating a complex piece of medical equipment, or sponsored real-world training classes aimed specifically at in-home caregivers, any way that you as an organization can make life easier for them and help them provide better care is an opportunity to create a positive association with your brand and products.

Caregivers Need Help Caring for Themselves

One of the biggest challenges facing caregivers is that they often spend so much time taking care of their patients that they have little time to take care of themselves. In addition to the stress associated with caring for (and worrying about) a loved one, they also often end up neglecting their own health and wellbeing due to the demands of caregiving. Things like getting enough exercise and sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, and giving themselves time to re-charge end up taking a back seat to the day-to-day care of their patient. Add onto that the financial worries and time constraints of caregivers who also need to work full- or-part time jobs and you have a recipe for severe stress and burnout.

While caregivers may be reluctant to actively seek out personal help and respite, that doesn’t mean that health organizations can’t offer these types of services and information in order to address their needs. This might take the form of counseling programs aimed at helping caregivers navigate their own care, respite services that run in parallel with patient care or even pamphlets and online resources that show caregivers how to provide better care for their patients by proactively taking care of their own health and wellbeing. The idea that a healthcare organization cares about their health as well as their patient’s health is a powerful message and one that can help build trust and credibility.


When it comes to marketing to the growing caregiver population, the most important thing is to have empathy for their situation and to understand the significant role they play in their patient’s ongoing care and success. By understanding the daily challenges and decisions that affect the lives of caregivers (and their patients), you’ll start to identify how your organization can address those needs in ways that strengthen your brand and increase your exposure among this influential audience.

And since there’s a good chance that you might be called on to provide caregiving services to a friend or loved one at some point in your life, keep in mind how you would want to be treated and marketed to if you were in a similar situation. Ditch the pushy sales pitches. Forget the self-promotional marketing fluff. Be authentic. Be helpful. Because making life easier for caregivers is just good business. 

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Create a good infographic: Slash the words

Create a good infographic: Slash the words | Social Media and Healthcare |

Here are some rules I think communicators should follow to create a good infographic:

  • KISS: Yep, that old “Keep it simple, silly” mantra is just as important in infographics as it is in anything else you write, perhaps even more so. As we’ve become an increasingly digital society, we have retrained our brains to skip, scan and retrieve. It’s what your infographics readers are used to—and it’s what is going to grab their attention and hold it.
  • Use sentences sparingly, paragraphs never. Short phrases are best.
  • Keep bulleted lists short. Five to seven bullets are good for web copy. Even fewer are best for an infographic.
  • Watch the color contrast, please. Don’t strain your readers’ eyes.
  • Don’t go nuts with fonts. Large enough and legible are good rules to follow.
  • Restrain from doing too much. You don’t need to put a whole white paper’s worth of content into an image 600 pixels wide. If you have that much information to share, break in into several graphics and use them as a series spread out over time.


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10 Ways Doctors Can Make the Most of Social Media

10 Ways Doctors Can Make the Most of Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

With the right strategy in place, doctors have the most to gain by properly using social media to market their practice, share their years of experience and chime in on discussions with colleagues in the industry.

Many doctors are afraid of the unknown and choose to remain silent across social media due to liability and privacy concerns. It is possible to strike a good balance of transparent communication, while conforming to the necessary limitations of the industry.

Today, 24% of doctors use social media at least once a day to post or seek medical information according to Allied Health World.

The use of social media by doctors is still in its infancy, which presents a huge opportunity to take advantage of these digital platforms and build scalable credibility for your career as a doctor. The medical industry is far less saturated online as other industries, due to the many legal restrictions and fears most health care professionals and organizations have since they wish to avoid liability issues associated with social media and other digital platforms.

As a doctor it is entirely possible to create an effective, scalable and profitable social media strategy to market your career and practice. It will take time, effort and a lot of hustle, but the results could have far reaching effects for your long-term success online.

If you’re a doctor, here are ten ways to stand out amongst the chatter and effectively reach the right people in your extended network on social media:

1. Setup a Personal Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook Account

This seems like a no brainer, but it is an important first step for building a presence online. Fill out each section of your profile on these three networks to optimize them to the fullest.

Start with these three platforms in the beginning and then expand to use others in the future. Focusing your efforts at first is an important way to ensure you’re gaining momentum from the time spent using social media.

Begin with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn today to start filling out your profiles and sharing content with your network.

2. Use Visuals When Sharing Content

Visuals resonate more with people than just text, therefore incorporate more images with your social updates on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. This is the most important to implement on Facebook, followed by Twitter and then LinkedIn.

When sharing content, use original content, free stock footage or non-copyrighted photography to boost how engaging your posts are. Another option is to use the photos used in the blog post, article or video you’re posting about on these networks.

3. Teach Others, Share the Knowledge

No matter what platform you’re sharing content on, be sure that what you’re saying to connections, friends and followers is educational and actionable. Pull from your unique expertise and share timely and relevant information about what you know best.

In addition to joining existing Twitter chats, LinkedIn groups and other relevant discussions online about your expertise and industry, start your own knowledge-sharing hub on social media to bring a new perspective and depth of knowledge to your professional interests.

Whether this “knowledge hub” is a Facebook Group, LinkedIn group, Twitter chat or some other form of niche community, it is an important method of sharing what you know and building your credibility as you educate others.

As a doctor it is important to follow this rule of thumb to ensure that you’re providing the most value to others and making use of your time spent using social networks. A doctor’s job is to share their expertise and help execute their advice. Social media merely helps to scale the spread of knowledge between physicians, their patients and the larger medical community.

4. Post Frequently on LinkedIn

As the largest network of professionals online, LinkedIn’s profiles allow a doctor to highlight each aspect of their career path with text and visuals. LinkedIn has the most benefits to offer doctors due to its professional nature and vast network of like-minded experts interested in connecting with others. Begin by making the most of your profile by sharing content from your account that reflects your expertise and interests as a healthcare professional.

Content shared on LinkedIn should be of a professional nature and a little more reserved than content typically shared on Twitter or Facebook. Share links to articles and other relevant information that could be of value to your connections, while making sure to add your own perspective to each piece of content by adding a comment to the post.

5. Follow Other Doctors on Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook

Start by reaching out to your existing network of contacts that you already know by searching for colleagues, friends and peers in the medical field on all three networks. Follow, connect and friend these individuals to foster a following that you can continue to build from.

Now start searching using each network’s search feature for individuals in a similar role, industry or expertise. By building a large network on each platform you’ll have other like-minded people to interact with, rely on for support and an active feed on engaging information to read, share and discuss.

6. Participate in Existing Conversations on Twitter

Twitter is the best social platform for public one-to-one conversations at scale. Start discussions with other doctors and medical professionals to address current trends, recent industry news or interesting findings or studies.

Find these conversations from other’s you’ve followed in your field or by searching Twitter hashtags or keywords related to your interests or focus as a physician. Twitter users often communicate in a more conversational tone when speaking with others, which allows a doctor to better incorporate their personality and build the trust of others in their extended network.

7. Join Relevant Twitter Chats

Twitter chats are weekly, monthly or quarterly conversations centered on a particular topic and hashtag. Discover what Twitter chats are available for doctors and medical professionals, then join in on theses conversations with other chat participants, to learn something new and share your expertise.

Some health care related Twitter chats are #FOAMed, #abcDrBchat, #hcsm, #MDChat and #SocPharm.

When participating in a Twitter chat, answer some of the questions posed by the moderator by adding your opinion and insights to the larger discussions. Follow the moderator and other participants in the chat, while making sure to consistently include the appropriate hashtag in all of your tweets about the chat.

8. Join LinkedIn Groups That Match Your Expertise

Search for groups using LinkedIn’s search feature or browse what groups your connections are a part of to find communities that match your expertise and interests as a professional.

Groups on LinkedIn offer a unique opportunity for similar professionals to discuss, post and share content about a particular subject. Some of the most popular LinkedIn groups for physicians on LinkedIn are: American Medical Association, Medical Doctor (MD) Network, Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), Physicians Practice and the America’s Leading Practice Management Resource.

Once you have become a member of a few relevant groups on LinkedIn, search through the existing discussions, learn what other group members are talking about, post engaging content for the group to discuss and connect with other group members. LinkedIn groups are only as valuable as the time and effort you put in to them.

9. Strive For Accuracy

There is a high amount of misinformation online when it comes to the medical field, confusing consumers and diluting the effectiveness of accurate medical insights found online.

As a doctor, it is important to act as a voice of reason when sharing information about health care online. Strive for accurate coverage and discussion when it comes to the information you decide to share on social media. Avoid interacting with illegitimate accounts and connections on social media that could affect your credibility for the long-term.

Limit the time spent on social media to a certain part of the day or a few times a week to help focus your efforts to be more accurate. Again, it should always be quality over quantity when it comes to the content being shared and the discussions you are having online.

10. Ask Questions

One of the most beneficial aspects of social media is the ability to have actual conversations online with peers, friends, family and other connections in your network. As a doctor it is also important to ask questions of your audience to get their feedback on a decision or perspective on industry news.

By asking questions you’re able to learn from the collective insights of your network and help share your human side. No one person knows everything, but everyone has something to share with others. Poll your network on social media to gain new insights and further establish your credibility as a well-respected doctor.

Billingparadise-medical-billing-services's curator insight, September 17, 2014 2:00 PM

With social media becoming more popular, most of the medical practices have used it as a marketing practice. Check out the 10 ways doctors can make most out of social media to revamp their practice.

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Healthcare Marketing: Humanizing Hospitals and Physicians Through Social Media

Healthcare Marketing: Humanizing Hospitals and Physicians Through Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Compared to other areas of business, healthcare marketers tend to fall behind in the realm of social media. Part of this problem is figuring out how to walk the fine line between the casual nature of social media, the seriousness of healthcare and the well-being of patients.

It is important for hospitals to be reputable, but not all content shared through a social media account needs to be formal. Think of social media as a place to promote a lifestyle and attract people with similar interests, rather than as a daily newsletter for your hospital or physician group.

It’s important to mix up content with interesting articles you find on other blogs, infographics, recipes and funny pictures. It’s okay to make people laugh; you need to come across as human, rather than a robot churning out posts that were preloaded months in advance.

Showing your human side is especially relevant in healthcare to make patients more comfortable and feel like they have a deeper connection with their doctors and nurses. It will also encourage patients to take more responsibility in managing their health.

If you need help convincing your CEO that social marketing is worth the time and money, check out the new Health Care Social Media List from The Mayo Clinic. It is a compilation of hospitals, physician practices and other health-related organizations in the United States that are actively using social media. You can use this list to see how you stack up against the competition.

However, it’s important to note that the marketing department isn’t the only staff group at a hospital that needs an online presence. Physicians are now using social media to connect with patients professionally, although some have reservations about this new medium.

Many physicians shy away from using social media to communicate with patients because they are afraid of violating HIPAA. Although this is a valid concern, the truth is that the odds of a physician violating HIPAA on social media are the same as in any other environment, including within the hospital and at a social event.

Nicola Ziady explains that HIPAA (in relation to marketing) simply restricts hospitals or physician groups from using private patient information to promote products or services without written permission, and that a patient may “revoke a written authorization at any time.”

Keeping that in mind, Leigh McMillan advises physicians not to talk about patients, even without stating their names, on social networks. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get inspiration for a post from one of your patients, but make the illness or condition the subject rather than featuring the patient.

Once a post or tweet is complete, McMillan recommends applying the “elevator test” before submitting. This means that you should read the post out loud, and if there is any part that you would not be comfortable saying in public, you should not publish it online.

There are two main reasons physicians should take the time to develop an online presence through social media, websites and blogs. The first is to build relationships with patients, and the second is for reputation management.

According to a survey conducted by Avvo, 73 percent of patients research physicians online, and a survey conducted by the National Research Corporation showed that 41 percent of patients search for medical information on social media sites. \

These e-patients search for and read patient reviews, disciplinary history, physicians’ resumes and published articles in order to make an informed decision rather than relying on referrals or word-of-mouth.

Dr. Howard Luks, a member of the External Advisory Board for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, said: “The most meaningful reason to establish a presence is that patients can find you and perhaps learn a bit more about your perspective, approach and rapport with your patient base.”

Another advantage to establishing an online presence is reputation management. Creating content on a blog, Facebook page or Twitter account won’t prevent patients from making negative comments, but it will “drown out or dilute content or comments that exist on many of these physician grading platforms when a patient performs a Google search of your name,” Dr. Luks said. If you have a website that generates content, you can control your messages and ensure that a lot of quality information will pop up in the first page of your Google search.

While healthcare marketers still have some catching up to do, a lot of progress has been made. In the Mayo Clinic’s Health Care Social Media List there are 1,500 hospitals alone that actively use social media accounts to improve brand reputation and retain patients. As an industry, we are on our way to developing best practices through exploration of new platforms and shared successes (and failures).

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6 Tips for Healthcare Marketers: Using Social Media Conversations in Content Marketing

Over the summer, Wendy’s turned customer tweets into lyrics for burger-inspired love songs. As tempting as it is (ha, ha) for healthcare marketers to drape bear rugs over white pianos and serenade their audiences, there are far less, uh, cheesy ways to utilize social media conversations in your content marketing.

People use social media to talk about healthcare not only on a large, national scale as states and businesses implement changes related to the Affordable Care Act, but also on a small, personal scale as they share with friends experiences of their doctors and local hospitals. As a healthcare marketer, you should carefully monitor these conversations as they relate both to your own services, providers and facilities and to your competitors.

Undoubtedly, you’ll hear comments your organization will want to address from the perspectives of customer service (and patient experience), employee training and policy/procedure reviews. However, you can also mine information for use in marketing – specifically in the creation of content.

Here are six ideas to get you started:

  1. In the moment, your replies to comments and tweets amount to “real time” content marketing. Your words do more than show that you’re responsive in the literal sense: they demonstrate you’re engaged with (concerned about, interested in, etc.) your audiences… an important element in the branding of every hospital, insurer and provider.
  2. If you’re seeing similar confusions repeated or seeing misconceptions perpetuated, be proactive and write about those topics for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s), blogs and newsletters.
  3. When you hear serious criticism of your competitors, you’ll want to take steps internally (of course) to avoid the same pitfalls. There may also be opportunities to create content (television and radio spots, online ads or videos) showcasing your organization as the answer to these specific pain points.
  4. If you’re hearing praise, be sure to say thank you… and share the testimonial as a piece of content wherever you think appropriate. In addition, take a closer look. It’s possible that the positive patient/consumer experience referenced in the social conversation could make a more in-depth story. And if you’re noticing specific aspects of your business or individual employees that social media users seem especially happy and excited about? Follow their lead and create related content about that service/provider. (Bonus tip: Be agile enough that you can do this quickly… while the energy and momentum are strongest.)
  5. And what about complaints and criticisms – can those lead to content beyond the customer service-type response? Absolutely! There’s this relatively quick fix: “We heard from our patients/customers, and we’ve made the following changes as a result.” And this slightly more introspective approach: “What we learned from an issue with x” or “How we’re meeting the challenge of y.”
  6. In addition to monitoring for mentions of your organization and your competitors, listen in on conversations on other topics related to your industry and your consumers. These may include specific keywords around health, wellness, disease, injury, treatment, cost, etc. It’s also a good idea to pay attention to community events and business and political developments in your region. Once you know what people are talking about and what interests them about it, you have a list of ideas for new material that’s interesting… not just to you, but to the social audience.
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Social Media Best Practices for Your Healthcare Business

Social Media Best Practices for Your Healthcare Business | Social Media and Healthcare |

Healthcare providers have a lot of competition, so standing out is critical. A recent article on Media Post discussed social media best practices for organizations looking to optimize their social media presence.

Here are the key points to building, and maintaining, a successful social media presence:

  • Go where your audience is. Facebook and LinkedIn are great places to start due to their large base of users.
  • Focus your purpose. Knowing what objectives you are working toward through your social media presence helps keep your social media presence relevant.
  • Choose your measurements. Your objectives will determine how you measure success.
  • Understand social media tools. Make sure you know what tools are available to you and how to use them to your advantage.
  • Data, data, data. Use the data you gather to integrate social media with your other efforts.
  • Quantity vs. quality. Keep track of what is being said about you on social media and how many people are saying it. Remember to follow up on your findings and handle any issues quickly.
  • Mutual followers. Following your associates, partners, vendors, patients and other important people and having them follow you will help spread the word about your healthcare brand.
  • Employee participation. Your employees can often be valuable resources for providing relevant and timely content to keep your social media interesting.
  • Lessen your risks. Social media comes with a risk, but beginning with a comprehensive policy and training for your employees can help minimize your risk.

Using social media to your fullest advantage can launch your healthcare business to top of mind for your consumers. How do you keep your social media relevant and focused? Let us know in the comments.

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Surgery Videos as an Online Medical Marketing Technique

Surgery Videos as an Online Medical Marketing Technique | Social Media and Healthcare |

Medical marketing services have been undergoing some major changes lately. As social media claims an increasingly larger percentage of marketing spend, healthcare providers are seeking ways to expand their presence in this important new sector. Social media marketing is based on providing content that is appealing enough to attract the attention of website visitors, and valuable enough that these users will want to share it with others.

Taking that goal as the basis for their new ventures into medical internet advertising, healthcare providers are beginning to post videos of medical procedures online.

Surgery Videos as an Online Medical Marketing Technique

A video heart-surgery tutorial

Memorial Health Care System in Chattanooga, Tennessee has posted a free webcast on their site, which allows visitors virtual access to the operating room. This webcast contained two compelling elements: An edited, narrated video of a patient’s open-heart surgery, and an opportunity for live chat with the lead surgeon who performed the operation. The practice of medicine has traditionally held a certain mystique, where no one but the service providers themselves really have the full story on what’s happening. Opening the doors and giving a full view and discussion of such a major procedure results in physician practice marketing content that’s terrifically appealing. The thousands of viewers who signed up for this webcast and told all their friends about it are a great demonstration of this appeal.

Live streaming surgery and the hospital tweeting team

In Orlando, Florida, Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children took virtual access to their operating room one step further as they provided 46 live updates (via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook) of a dramatic surgical procedure in which a 3-year-old received a Goretex graft on her heart. The hospital’s social media team included commentary on these images, which were released about once every 10 minutes.

Future possibilities

According to the Chattanooga Times, Memorial Health Care plans to live stream a surgical procedure in the near future. While live footage of surgeries is commonly used for physician training, it’s a new idea to use this video material to engage interested website visitors. Furthermore, surgeons are beginning to use Google Glass as a non-intrusive method of capturing and sharing live video of procedures, and it is only a matter of time before these videos make the leap from physician training material to hospital marketing content.

Multi-target marketing

When a hospital posts video of surgical procedures, they are creating marketing material with an eye to more than just the pool of prospective patients. They are also demonstrating to physicians that the institution has a high level of professional confidence and technological know-how. This can affect the choice that these physicians make when deciding where to refer patients.

Sharing surgery videos as a form of online medical marketing is probably still in its earliest days. It’s likely that, in the future, hospitals and doctors will use such transparency to build credibility and establish a reputation for doing excellent work. Prospective patients and their families are likely to share video of similar operations with each other before undergoing those procedures themselves, and the possibilities for marketing are almost unlimited.

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11 Ways to Use Multimedia to Engage New Patients

11 Ways to Use Multimedia to Engage New Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

Acquiring new patients is vital for every medical practice to survive and prosper. With the current trend in inbound marketing, multimedia has shown itself to be remarkably successful. The range of options available makes it possible to reach almost every conceivable type of prospective patient, and physicians are discovering easy to produce, cost-effective ways to use multimedia in their medical practice marketing activities.

#1: Video Clips

A single minute of video has the same impact as 1.8 million words, according to a report by Forrester Research’s Dr. James McQuivey, and it’s been predicted that by 2014, 90% of all internet traffic will be video. As a physician, you can use video in your medical practice marketing in several ways. Use it to educate your patients on everything from the signs and symptoms of various medical conditions through providing advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

#2: Pictures

Humans process visual information more easily from pictures than from words. Research shows that people remember up to 65% of information that includes images, compared with 10% from text only. Add images to your digital content that are meaningful and use SEO best practices such as naming conventions and alt tags to increase their searchability.

#3: Podcasts

Audio is almost as powerful as video, and there’s little as reassuring to the prospective patient than the doctor’s voice providing information in a confident, authoritative tone. Publish podcasts of discussions between the physician and a patient (with permission, of course!), or of the doctor delivering a public address. Short podcasts of satisfied patients giving anonymous testimonials also help the physician to create online reviews to encourage new patients.

#4: Slide Presentations

Good, old-fashioned slide presentations have gained a new lease on life since the invention of SlideShare and Prezi. Create a slide deck showing the progression of a disease, treatment stages for a medical condition or the steps to follow to achieve health and wellness. Post the deck online using one of these tools and share it on your social media.

#5: Infographics

Infographics are currently riding a wave of popularity in the medical practice marketing world. Aninfographic is a simple, visual way of learning about a complex topic without having to do lots of heavy reading. Use this method to pass on statistical information, or to educate patients about topics such as following a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

#6: Instagram

Instagram is a social networking platform that enables users to take photographs, edit and share them. Aetna Health Insurance uses Instagram very effectively in Passage, a mobile fitness app that enables users to turn every activity into a journey to a new destination, complete with photos and distances. Develop your own app using Instagram to encourage patients to share tips and experiences.

#7: Vine / Instagram Video

Vine is Twitter’s mobile app that allows users to create 6-second videos that can be shared by tweeting. Instagram’s videos are longer, allowing for 15 seconds of airtime. Both are great ways to post video clips of anything of interest to your prospective patients.

#8: Downloadable Documents

White papers and eBooks are perfect for sharing lengthier information. Create a resources section on your medical practice marketing website and encourage patients to download the material they need in exchange for their email address. Then sign them up to your email database for future communications.

#9: Webinars

Webinars combine video, audio, slide decks, images, downloadable materials and other media in a unique way to engage your patients in real-time, informative healthcare sessions. Deliver public seminars virtually and expand your target market by offering regular webinars.

#10 Instant Chat

This medium offers an immediacy that’s previously only been available using telephone calls or personal consultations, but it’s more convenient than a visit and more private than a call. Use options such as Skype and Facebook chat with video, audio or text to answer questions about your services, accounts and billing and other administrative issues.

#11 Discussion Forums

Forums typically make use of secure logins for users, who can remain anonymous if they choose to do so. This offers an option for people to ask real health-related questions that they may be embarrassed to raise during a consultation. Set up a support forum where patients can discuss symptoms and challenges with one another or ask questions of the physician that others can also view.

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The Growing Importance of Social Media for Cosmetic Surgeons

The Growing Importance of Social Media for Cosmetic Surgeons | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn can provide cosmetic surgery practices with an extraordinary opportunity to reach out to a greater number of potential patients. As the social media revolution sweeps across all demographics, age has ceased to be a criterion, and cosmetic surgeons are uniquely placed to leverage the robust marketing options that social media platforms offer. Forward-thinking cosmetic surgeons need to keep abreast of ongoing changes if they are to stay on top of things.

The Numbers Say It All

According to A.C. Nielsen, more than 80 percent of all American adults use an online social network. In fact, a large majority of potential patients are active on social media sites. Given the fluid exchange of information over these sites, cosmetic surgery practices simply cannot afford to ignore their growing importance.

According to the latest statistics in social media trends:

  • Facebook continues to be the most widely used social media platform across the globe and Americans spend more time on Facebook than on any other website.
  • As of March 31, the number of people using the site was 1.11 billion while the number of active users each day sits at a staggering 665 million.
  • Additionally, each month the number of active users using Facebook from a mobile device is 751 million.
  • 1 million websites across the globe have integrated with Facebook.
  • 34 percent of marketers have generated leads using Twitter and till date 163 billion tweets have been generated.
  • Instagram has more than 40 million users worldwide and 40 percent of brands use Instagram for marketing their business
  • Each month Pinterest gets 10 million US unique visitors and 80 percent of the visitors are women
  • 40 percent of marketers use Google+ and websites using the +1 button generate 3.5x the Google+ visits than sites without the button

One look at these numbers is more than enough to establish the extensive reach and the immense power that social media commands when it comes to reaching out to potential patients.

Advantage for Cosmetic surgeons

Independent cosmetic practitioners stand to gain distinctive marketing advantages if they include social media within marketing strategies. In a study of 1,180 small and medium businesses (SMBs) and 500 customers conducted by Zoomerang, a leading online survey firm, key reasons were identified as the main drivers behind the increasing adoption of social media among SMBs and independently practicing professionals.1 These include:

  • High visibility to a large number of people
  • Personalized connectivity with potential patients
  • Personal image enhancement, self-promotion, and building credibility
  • Faster results with very little spending
Building Relationships with Potential Patients and Fans

Cosmetic practitioners need to understand that social media, in addition to being a powerful marketing tool for expanding the scope of operations for their practice, is also a great and cost-effective way of building relationships with potential patients. Because it offers easy and instant interactions, social media is an active medium for building trust with new patients.

Based on survey results of a recent study published in the May 2013 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the following trends were observed:2

  • Half of the plastic surgeons currently use social media regularly to connect with their patients.
  • Surgeons who responded to the survey said Facebook was their primary social media tool followed by LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.
  • A majority of responding surgeons said that social media use was a professional necessity and was important for marketing to new patients.
  • Top reasons cited for use of social media included patient education about various plastic surgery procedures, followed by patient referrals and feedback.
  • One-third of responding surgeons were convinced that social media positively impacted their practice.

Social media marketing is a veritable goldmine and is quickly becoming the most effective way to build relationships with potential patients. The changing marketing landscape is bound to affect cosmetic surgery practices as much as it affects other businesses and professional establishments. By investing requisite time and resources in creating a top-notch social presence, cosmetic surgery practices can reach out to a greater number of potential patients and establish their credibility within their area of expertise.

malek's comment, October 22, 2013 4:59 PM
Eye opening: plastic surgeons must jump the wagon of social media
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Social media release increases dissemination of original articles in the clinical pain sciences

Social media release increases dissemination of original articles in the clinical pain sciences | Social Media and Healthcare |

A barrier to dissemination of research is that it depends on the end-user searching for or 'pulling' relevant knowledge from the literature base.

Social media instead 'pushes' relevant knowledge straight to the end-user, via blogs and sites such as Facebook and Twitter. That social media is very effective at improving dissemination seems well accepted, but, remarkably, there is no evidence to support this claim. We aimed to quantify the impact of social media release on views and downloads of articles in the clinical pain sciences.

Sixteen PLOS ONE articles were blogged and released via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and on one of two randomly selected dates. The other date served as a control. The primary outcomes were the rate of HTML views and PDF downloads of the article, over a seven-day period. The critical result was an increase in both outcome variables in the week after the blog post and social media release. The mean ± SD rate of HTML views in the week after the social media release was 18±18 per day, whereas the rate during the other three weeks was no more than 6±3 per day. The mean ± SD rate of PDF downloads in the week after the social media release was 4±4 per day, whereas the rate during the other three weeks was less than 1±1 per day (p<0.05 for all comparisons).

However, none of the recognized measures of social media reach, engagement or virality related to either outcome variable, nor to citation count one year later (p>0.3 for all).

We conclude that social media release of a research article in the clinical pain sciences increases the number of people who view or download that article, but conventional social media metrics are unrelated to the effect.

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Rules of social media: Let your patients tell their stories

Rules of social media: Let your patients tell their stories | Social Media and Healthcare |

One of the most compelling reasons for hospitals to use social media is because it allows organizations—of all sizes—to establish a personal relationship with patients. One of the best ways to do this is by telling meaningful, powerful patient stories.

And hospitals don't have to look too far when seeking patients to celebrate. Social media and marketing experts tell the Daily Briefing that at the average organization, there's no shortage of inspiring stories to draw from.

Case study: Mount Sinai Hospital

For example, Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City recently highlighted the story of patient Ron Gardner on Facebook as Gardner underwent Deep Brain Simulation surgery for Parkinson's disease. The hospital shared pictures from of Gardner before, during, and after his surgery.

The photos evoked a huge outpouring of support. Gardner continued to interact with the site throughout his treatment, posting updates on his surgery and thanking all those involved in his care—surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, radiologists, and even the receptionist—for their "compassion and professionalism.

During the campaign, Mt. Sinai also continued to interact with Gardner, "liking" and responding to his posts—an engagement strategy that the hospital emulates across each of its media channels, according to social media director John Ambrose. "Using patient stories, we try and connect with as many people as we can," Ambrose says, adding, "We put a human face on health care in this way."

Case study: MD Anderson

Similarly, one of MD Anderson Cancer Center's most successful media campaigns was a music video called "Hold On," a song written by Greg Lizee, an associate professor of oncology. The video received "hundreds of comments, shares, likes, views—you name it," says MD Anderson's Laura Nathan-Garner, adding that the video was "unlike anything we've done before."

"What we often hear is that when patients receive a diagnosis, they go online to find people with stories similar to theirs," Nathan-Garner says, adding that "a lot of times if they see that person has received treatment at MD Anderson, then, they will want to follow through and do the same thing."

Dr Martin Wale's curator insight, September 27, 2013 11:37 AM

If anyone is interested  in doing this on Vancouver Island, please get in touch.

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The 2 Touchpoints That Will Make or Break Your Online Marketing - Cosmetic Medicine

The 2 Touchpoints That Will Make or Break Your Online Marketing - Cosmetic Medicine | Social Media and Healthcare |

A funny thing happened on the way to the grocery story yesterday. I was sitting at a traffic light and looked up at a billboard promising a good deal on a new smartphone. The ad had occupied the sign for several months and I’d probably driven by it without a thought a hundred times or more.

And yet, yesterday, it seemed brand new and it grabbed my eye for one simple reason. My old phone contract was expiring soon and I realized it was time to start thinking about making a change. Just like that, I was a potential buyer of that maker’s phone.

Aesthetic consumers approach their medibeauty decisions in much the same way (although generally without the billboard): One day, they’re immune to marketing messages because they’re not seriously considering a procedure; the next, they’ve decided to go for it and are suddenly attuned to everything that might help them make sure they’re making the right decision.

Marketers call that moment POME, or Point of Market Entry, and it represents the first step in the continuing transformation of any aesthetic consumer’s purchase journey.

At POME, customers will suddenly express interest in your market, ask questions, look for information, says Nicolas Chabot of They might have been aware of your brand, but now they are interested! It’s the #1 most critical moment to establish a positive relationship and influence future behavior.

Obviously, deciding to have cosmetic surgery is a bit more complex than buying a new phone. The POME trigger can be almost anything — a job hunt, a life-changing event, reaching a financial goal that makes it possible — but you can tell aesthetic consumers have entered the market in exactly the same way.

They go online, they read reviews and they ask questions, hoping to glean insights both from other consumers and from professionals who provide the services they’re considering. Doctors who are there to share their expertise have already accomplished the goal of creating brand awareness for their practice.

In the old days, those consumers would be said to have entered the sales funnel, which, in turn, would steer them toward the so-called “moment of truth” when they feel ready to make a decision. For aesthetic consumers that would likely be during or after a consult when they decide to book their procedure.

But social media has changed all that, leading to what the folks at Google refer to as ZMOT, or the Zero Moment of Truth.

[ZMOT] occurs after the consumer sees an ad for a product, but before a purchase is made. More precisely, it’s the moment when a shopper goes online to research a product and decides whether to make a purchase.

In other words, if you wait to engage with consumers only when they’ve made the decision to move forward, you may be already be too late. Smart doctors, on the other hand, recognize the points at which consumers enter the aesthetic market (hint: it’s not on Facebook) and design their marketing plans accordingly.

Doctor Takeaway

If you want to see aesthetic consumers in person, engage with them online

According to Google, the average shopper uses 10.7 sources of information before buying. It’s highly unlikely that your practice website will be the first one they go to but if you maintain a presence on the sites they do visit and give them the information they’re looking for without selling yourself, you can increase the odds that your website will be the one they end up on.

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Healthcare Marketing to Generation Y is challenging: Try Social Media

Healthcare Marketing to Generation Y is challenging: Try Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Known by many other names including the Nintendo Generation, Generation Next, Echo Boomers and most notably Generation Y, the newest group to the healthcare consumer market includes over 75 million adults born since 1982. These millennial members constitute one of the most challenging groups to market to.  

Why? In a nutshell, these younger patients grew up with computers, smart phones, Wii's and Playstations.   These “digital natives,” are multi-taskers who skim and scan so much information on a daily basis making it challenging for healthcare marketers to attract and engage this elusive group.  They are much less accepting of traditional marketing methods, proving more skeptical and difficult to reach than their predecessors.

On the bright side, these members show similar characteristics to their Generation X predecessors when they begin to shop for healthcare services leaving marketers not completely in the dark. For example, we know that they use several sources of information including online search, reviews and ratings sites and social sites for initial research.

Unique to this generation is their independence from physician referrals and reliance on self-directed care decisions when ultimately choosing a service or provider, which makes it tricky for marketers to target and track.

In response to this, healthcare marketers need to find creative ways to communicate and connect with constant personalized content, most notably through social and online platforms, to effectively reach this digital generation.  Additionally, physicians need to provide a total care experience to keep this group from switching doctors or hospitals if they have a negative experience, which is a common trait of this generation.

According to The Advisory Board Company “Millennials show a greater interest in wellness and preventative treatment, but prefer to access health information through the Internet or a fitness center rather than through hospital services.”  They still believe Doctor’s are the most reliable source of information; however, this generation will consult everyone from their friends, family, to the networks they have built around social media.  

So what works with healthcare marketing to Generation Y?

  • Marketing Campaigns free of a lot of jargon - they like it clean and simple,
  • Interactive campaigns that allows them to engage someone in conversation,
  • Blogs that educate them on new medical technologies, or medical breakthroughs, or healthy ways to improve their lives,
  • Medical Social Media Marketing to peak their interest and draw them in, particularly, You Tube Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Thus, even though these millennials at first appearance can be a tough sell, there’s a huge opportunity to connect with these consumers more deeply and help win their trust. For they value patient-centered relationships and quality connections through various channels making them a loyal bunch of healthcare consumers for years to come.

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The True Definition of ROI: Metrics for Profitable Hospital Marketing

The True Definition of ROI: Metrics for Profitable Hospital Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

David Marlowe is the founder of Strategic Marketing Concepts and a past president and board member of SHSMD, the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development of the American Hospital Association. And in our podcast conversation with Lonnie Hirsch, David provides expert insight about tracking and metrics for effective and profitable hospital marketing.

Return-on-Investment is often a primary method of measurement in applying conference ideas, strategies and tactics in marketing.

It’s important to understand what metrics are most important, and that the true definition of Return-on-Investment is a financial return.

“The problem with a lot of the ROI terminology that’s thrown around is that it doesn’t quite get to the point of measuring financial return,” David told us. “So, if you measure how many people attended…that’s great, but that’s not ROI. If you count how many phone calls came in…that’s great, but that’s not ROI. Unless you can show a logical connection in that “x” effort generated “y” revenue, it’s not ROI.

“A better term for ROI, might be Return-on-Marketing-Investment…it is ‘what did you get for a specific marketing activity?’ But by any label, the hallmark of ROI is that there is a measurable revenue and net margin return.”

In today’s interview, David Marlow listed three categories of metrics for Lonnie Hirsch. “The lines blur a little bit between them,” he explained. But in ascending order of importance and complexity, the three categories are:

Production Outcomes: This is measuring the physical production of a marketing and communications function. It might be how many events did you hold, how many brochures did you produce…literally, how much work was done? This is a basic category.

Marketing Outcomes Metrics: Then you move up to [determining] what was the direct result of a particular marketing activity. So if you did ten events during the year (a production outcome), how many people attended? That would be a marketing outcome. This would be the next step up in the metrics process.

And then you get to the third category…

Strategic Outcomes Metrics: These are the metrics that are tied to the strategic direction of the organization, and by the name, you can tell these are the most important. These are things that would range from awareness, preference, image ratings, market share, volume, and Return-on-Investment is probably the “holy grail” of strategic outcomes metrics. Others are enrollment, re-enrollment, number of referrals, number of active referral sources…it’s a long list.

“A healthy marketing function has all three metrics. But it’s important to understand that the leadership of the organization probably cares a lot more about the strategic than the production. So if you’ve only got metrics in the first two categories, then you’re going to have a problem. They are going to want to see the third.

“And to make this work, you need to plan ahead to know what you want to measure and to have the tracking systems in place to capture the data. If you wait until after the fact, you’re going to have to try to recreate the process and that’s very hard to do.”

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Can social media help prevent the spread of HIV?

Can social media help prevent the spread of HIV? | Social Media and Healthcare |

HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including syphilis and gonorrhea, continue to spread in high-income countries such as Canada, Australia, the U.S. and in Western Europe, particularly among men who have sex with men (MSM).

A key part of prevention efforts is to offer HIV testing so that people can know their status and take steps to protect themselves and others. If they are negative, they can be counselled about safer sex and the need for regular screening for HIV and other STIs. If positive, they can receive counselling and swift referral for medical monitoring and discussion about the benefits of starting treatment for their personal health. Another benefit of treatment is that it reduces the amount of HIV in a person’s blood and genital fluids, thus reducing their sexual infectiousness.

Social networking

The popularity of electronic social networking sites and so-called smartphones has resulted in the growth of virtual communities that are ripe for communicating messages about healthier living, including HIV prevention. Such sites and technologies are used by some people to find sexual partners, therefore they are of growing importance for the encouragement of healthy behaviours.

Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) conducted a study called HOPE—harnessing online peer education. They trained participants to deliver HIV prevention messages and related issues via the social networking site Facebook. The researchers found that participants who received such messages were more likely to request home-based HIV testing kits and get tested. Also, reductions in unsafe sexual behaviour occurred among some participants.

These results, which need to be confirmed in a larger, longer study, suggest that more researchers need to consider and evaluate engagement with electronic social networks and associated technologies (such as smartphones) to help people lead healthier lives.


Engagement was generally good in all groups throughout the 12 weeks of the study.

More participants who received messages about HIV prevention and testing (44%) requested an HIV home-testing kit than participants who received general health messages (20%).

Researchers found that participants who received HIV prevention messages had fewer sexual partners over time than other participants.

Points to consider

  • The HOPE study shows that it is possible to engage relatively young MSM about HIV prevention via social networking.
  • Some participants were willing to accept the offer of HIV testing.
  • 93% of participants remained in the study until its end.
  • Changes in unsafe sexual behaviour were seen among one ethno-racial group.

New social networking technologies could also be used to help create healthier communities and reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Jeliber Klk's curator insight, September 25, 2013 5:18 PM

i think social media can help by spreading the word to people that dont like to watch news or read news paper.

Kristen Schaffer's curator insight, October 22, 2013 6:43 PM

The treatment of this disease needs to stay up to date with the chaning times.

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Hospitals Finding New Ways to Use Social Media in Marketing

Hospitals Finding New Ways to Use Social Media in Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |
We’re becoming accustomed to social media campaigns. Clothing stores posting pictures of their newest, chicest clothing; promoting sales and events on Facebook and Twitter; offering digital coupons and contests online. But promotions and contests are calls to action. But this isn’t the only way to employ social media in a marketing plan.

Hospitals, in particular, have been utilizing social media in new, interesting ways to promote their good works. Why shouldn’t they? With 61 percent of adults using the web to find health information, according to Pew’s Internet and American Life Project, there’s a lot of opportunity for hospitals to engage.

r>61/100 Adults use the Internet- Case in Point

A fifteen-year-old boy listens to the beat of his mechanical Berlin heart in Montreal, Canada. Vincent is at the top of the heart transplant list and is simply waiting. Wouldn’t it be great to share Vincent’s story? Talk about the courage his courage? If you’re part of the hospital’s PR team, don’t you want to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation? Don’t you want to tell people about your hospital and the important work you do?

Well, Pamela Toman, a public relations officer at Montreal Children’s Hospital, thought the same thing. Pamela took to Twitter, creating the #AHeart4Vincent/#UncoeurpourVincent hash tags. Within days, people were talking about Vincent—hockey stars from the Montreal Canadiens paid Vincent a visit just a few days after the Twitter campaign was launched, national news broadcasts followed.

“We are so excited to see that our message is reaching people across Canada,” said Pamela. But it didn’t only reach audiences in Canada. Ronnie Magro of MTV’s Jersey Shore even showed up to support Vincent. Vincent’s successful heart transplant generated good publicity for the hospital and allowed them to highlight their talented surgeons and life-saving programs.

Montreal Children’s Hospital is not the only medical facility getting involved in social media. The Health Care Social Media List counts 967 hospitals across the U.S. using Twitter to create conversations and raise awareness about what they do.

967+ Hospitals in US using TwitterAccording to MHA’s Top 50 Most Social Media Hospitals for 2013, the Mayo Clinic won top honors based on their presence across social media platforms, their followers and amount of activity. Mayo won top rankings in Twitter, with 567,998 followers and 11,392 tweets.

11k Mayo’s tweets, 568k Mayo’s Twitter followers

Part of their success with Twitter comes from its brand of Tweets—short news clips that encourage conversation and promote education and awareness. Not only do they retweet health related news, but they also invite followers to post questions for a doc to answer on Mayo Clinic’s weekly radio show, Medical Edge Radio.

Though news and education is not as emotionally gripping as Vincent’s story, it is safer. There is a danger with emotionally charged stories—especially in medicine, where stories can take hard turns. This YouTube clip from New York Presbyterian Hospital is a good example.Though the story certainly highlights the work of New York Presbyterian Hospital and its dedication to this young child with a brain tumor, it also has a sad ending. The child ultimately loses the battle. Incorporating this case into a marketing campaign invited criticism from marketing expert Harvey Chimoff, who said: “My view is that the story is inappropriate for this usage. It feels wrong and perhaps even somewhat exploitative of the family.”

This highlights the sensitive subject matter involved in hospital marketing. But then, there are few industries that have such powerful and universal stories to share. Hospitals could feasibly share dozens of stories across social media, raising their profile and promoting their good work, but how to track it? How to control it?

Pamela Toman of Montreal Children’s used SalesForce’s Marketing Cloud—a powerful tool that allows PR officers to track social media online activity and respond to it immediately.

With Marketing Cloud, she could immediately respond to tweets about Vincent and keep the campaign on track and—more importantly—foster an online community through interaction. She could not only see who was responding to her, but who—out of the millions on there using the world wide web—were talking about Vincent and the work of Montreal Children’s.

Hospitals aren’t just promoting their services. Their methods are aimed at creating communities by consistently engaging patients and colleagues over social media. They’re creating new ways for patients to get answers, which is much more powerful than a coupon.
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Defining Buyer Personas in Healthcare Marketing

Defining Buyer Personas in Healthcare Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

s we have just concluded a series on healthcare marketing to the different generations, I thought it may be important to touch on the need to understand your buyer personas before putting any time and effort into your marketing.

What are Buyer Personas?

Though I went to school some 20 something years ago, I don't remember the terminology of "buyer personas."  More often in our marketing classes, we referred to a "target market".  Buyer Personas, as I have learned, are much more than target markets. 

According to Tony Zambito, "Buyer personas are research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who buyers are, whatthey are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions.  (Today, I now include where they buy as well as when buyers decide to buy.)"

As far as healthcare marketing goes, it is more than defining a target market of "Prospective Patients ages 23- 35."  It means truly understanding what drives them to make healthcare decisions, where they shop, how they shop and how they make decisions. It involves understanding their frustrations, their pain points and their hot buttons.

Example of Buyer Personas 

We work with a Urology Group who are trying to recruit new patients to their practice.  One of their buyer personas we have named Manly Matt.  Manly Matt is a man ages 55-65 who is suffering from prostate cancer. He is well educated and though he did not grow up with computers, is very familiar in how to use them. He has a smart phone.  He searches the internet for answers to his healthcare questions, and trusts the recommendations of friends, especially his wife.  Manly Matt is not actively engaged in social media, himself, though his wife is on facebook daily.  He will read blog posts and loves to see what others before him have gone through and learn about their actual experiences. 

This Urology Group is very interested in starting a facebook page.  Is that a good idea considering this buyer persona?  Well, my first thought was no, - they are targeting men ages 55-65, the baby boomers,  and most of these men are not on social media.  Women are on facebook.  But when we really took a step back and analyzed this persona, we understood that if we created targeted content to the wives of these men, then, we could use facebook as social media outlet.  We will have to stay focused on "taking care of your spouse through prostate cancer."  We will have to focus on the women as caregivers for their husbands within this social media channel. 

Buyer Personas help us focus the content and the medical digital strategy we implement at all of our practices.  While defining them may be one of the most difficult things to do, by far, it is one of the most important things to do to kick off a well organized healthcare marketing plan. 

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3 Pinterest musts for hospital communicators

3 Pinterest musts for hospital communicators | Social Media and Healthcare |

Pinterest isn’t a passing fad. It’s here to stay—especially when it comes to hospital marketing.

At our fifth annual Health Care Social Media Summit at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., you’ll find out why during our session, “Pinterest: A powerful tool to share wellness content.”

Alexandra Tursi, social media strategist for Fletcher Allen Health Care, says Pinterest can help educate the community about relevant and important health topics.

“Pinterest is a natural fit for us,” Tursi says. “It’s a place share our expertise in nutrition, fitness, and workplace wellness. We can also reach out to niche audiences, like people with diabetes who are looking for healthy and delicious recipe ideas.”

Tursi shares her thoughts about Pinterest:

If a health care communicator asks you, “Why Pinterest?” what is your quick answer?

Two reasons: the audience and the virality factor.

The primary users of Pinterest are women between the ages of 25 and 45. For most health care organizations, this is a primary target audience. Here’s your opportunity to talk and share with them.

The primary user behavior on Pinterest is “repinning”: 80 percent of pins are repins. That means most of the content shared on Pinterest is curated versus created content—it is simply the individual browsing through their Pinterest feed and “repinning” or “liking” the content they want to collect for themselves.

There is huge potential for your health content to go viral in this kind of setting. Who doesn’t want their positive health message to spread through a social network?

How do you use Pinterest to change patient behavior—with videos, fitness tips, healthy recipes or other boards?

We use Pinterest to share health and wellness information, specifically in children’s health, diabetes, nutrition, and fitness, as well as expert commentary in areas that range from cardiology to orthopedics to cancer. 

We share videos with our chief of pediatrics, Dr. Lewis First, as well as video interviews with our providers, health infographics, and beautiful imagery from the state where we are so fortunate to live and work—Vermont.

What are the three most important things health care communicators should know about using Pinterest for their organizations?

1. Make your website pinnable. Pinterest has made it simple for Internet users to “pin” content from their favorite websites. Ensure that your website is set up for this by Verifying Your Website. You can check to see what has been pinned from your website by going here.

2. Strategically link to brand content. Think about how you can host branded photo or video content online. Pinterest is built on linking to source pages: When a user clicks on a photo or video, it brings them to the website where the content is originally hosted. You want that to be your brand website, blog, or microsite. Make sure you have images there. For example, we now ensure that we have at least one image with each blog post.

3. Follow copyright rules. Because so much of Pinterest activity is driven by “repinning,” we see users repurposing other user content. You want to be careful that you do not use content without permission. For example, you may “repin” a beautiful photograph, only to learn that the photographer requires that you have a license to share that photo. At Fletcher Allen Health Care, we ensure that we have the rights to the content that we use, and because we do “repin” we also ensure that what we repin is in the public domain. Learn more about copyright on Pinterest.

How much time should a communicator spend on Pinterest each day?

The average Pinterest user logs in for about 14 minutes per session; however, some Pinterest users may spend as much as 90 minutes in one session. As busy health care communicators, we do not have that luxury. I spend between 15 and 30 minutes per day on Pinterest. I typically log on between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., because that’s when use is highest. I’m also known to log on after 8 p.m. because that’s another high-traffic time.

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5 tips to create a strong social media presence

5 tips to create a strong social media presence | Social Media and Healthcare |

1. Focus your content. Find your niche.

We live in a world where purpose matters.

2. Create consistent themes.

If people like what they see, they'll come back for more.

3. Give your content a branded look.

If people share your image by uploading it to Facebook or another social media site, make sure you own it.

4. Have a flexible content calendar.

Follow the two-stream content method:

- One stream of content is planned.

- The second stream of content is based on listening in real-time to what's going on in your niche and around the Web.

5. Post what the audience likes-and wants to share.

Read more at:

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