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.
Curated by nrip
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How to Attend a Medical Conference Without Actually Being There

How to Attend a Medical Conference Without Actually Being There | Social Media and Healthcare |

Well, I’ve done it again. It seems that every time I try to make the early registration deadline for a conference, something seems to come up. One of the kids gets sick, a transmission breaks, I have a crazy week at work, you know, life.

Unlike the past few years however, I’m very excited to say that I will be making it to the American College of Chest Physician’s annual scientific meeting (Chest 2013) in Chicago at the end of October.

While I wasn’t able to make it to the conference last year, it turns out that I didn’t have to miss everything because I had a new and unique tool at my disposal. A tool that allowed me to catch a surprising amount of the action and actually obtain some of the benefits of the conference without actually being there: social media.

Because of the explosion in the use of social media at conferences, every attendee is potentially their own reporter. Attendees broadcast their thoughts on twitter with a hash tag followed by the name of the conference and the year. Thus, last year I was able to follow Chest 2012 by simply following “#Chest2012” on twitter. Attendees use social media to discuss presentations in real time giving you clinical pearls, findings of the latest research in pulmonary, critical care, sleep, and thoracic medicine, and even post pictures of slides demonstrating important findings.

By simply following the twitter feed of a particular scientific conference, you can easily learn about the latest research, clinical pearls, even check out pictures of key slides during a presentation.

I have taken this approach to several meetings, even ones that may not necessarily be within my particular field.  For example, while it hasn’t been worthwhile for me to take the time and expense to attend Kidney Week or ASCO, or ACEP, I am interested to know what comes out of these conferences. Following the tweets from those conferences gives me practical information diluted from a week of scientific sessions.

While these benefits are useful, there’s another significantly more tangible benefit that comes from using social media, particularly while at the conference itself: networking.

Over the past year I have been excited to have made connections through social media with many colleagues around the country. But making those connections through social media is only the first step. Human beings are after all social creatures. Face to face connections are ultimately more productive and satisfying than anything that we can accomplish online. So at this year’s conference I will be looking to use twitter as a tool help me connect with my colleagues at Chest 2013. By being active at the meeting and sharing my experiences through social media I’ll surely add to the community of professionals with which I interact.

How often do you strike up a conversation and get to know the person sitting next to you at a scientific conference? Not often. But on twitter I’ll be asking my twitter peeps, (mostly people I’ve never met before) to join me for a beer after the session. Maybe two.  It’s like networking on steroids, call it Networking 2.0. These connections lead to discussions about patient care, business opportunities, and research. The serious work and business of medicine.

So if you’re at Chest 2013 this year, hit me up on twitter, and let’s talk about practicing science on the cutting edge. If you’re not there, listen and join in on the conversation. Maybe we can meet in person at a future conference.

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5 Popular Social Networking Choices for Healthcare Professionals

5 Popular Social Networking Choices for Healthcare Professionals | Social Media and Healthcare |

No matter what profession you are in you must face the facts that social media has forever changed the world. Connections with your colleagues now can be connections around the world instead of people in your own town. When it comes to the medical profession, there are many social networks you can join that can help you with your career. You can make connections in different cities, with people in your field and learn from those who have been in the field longer than you have.

Social media has also drastically changed advertising departments and how you network with your clients. Here are five popular social networking choices for those in the medical profession.

 Medical Mingle

This site is great for those who are in the field already or who are pursuing a career in the healthcare profession. You can get advice from others who have already traveled a similar path to yours. You can also hear about the latest developments in the medical profession and share your thoughts on them. This one is a great place to start connecting when you are just starting out.



As physicians it is important to connect with other physicians. This can help you to gain referrals to your practice and gain trusted colleagues to refer your patients to. This site is for physicians to gain networking with others and to share with physicians in your field. Staying connected is important in your line of work.


This social site is a great place to look when you need a healthcare professional social site. You can read articles here about the new developments in the medical field. You will meet others working in your field and be able to network with a wide range of medical professionals. You can also buy supplies through this site and learn great places to get what your office needs. Search for your new career in the healthcare field by joining up. You can also post jobs or see job postings available if you are ready for a chance.

 Doctors Hangout

Here you will discover a site that is for physicians and medical students. Connect with others going on the same journey you are and network for when you are out of college. Learn from others while you are still in school. Networking is important no matter what field you may be in. You want to have connections for when your patients present with something that you need to refer. Building those connections now will help you in the future.


This site is for different businesses of all types. Those in the healthcare field can connect socially with others in the same field and read about the new updates in the field. It is not just for doctors but you will find a lot of great connections there.

These are a few great social sites that you can keep in mind while you are in the healthcare field. You need to be on social media and connect with others in your field. It will make your job easier as you have the connections you need to help your patients.

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Social Media Access in Hospitals

Social media is a daily part of our lives, but many people are not allowed to access social media in their workplace. To understand more about Social Media Access in Hospitals, we asked healthcare professionals a few questions regarding their access. Here's what they said...

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6 Ways Social Media Empowers All Nurses

6 Ways Social Media Empowers All Nurses | Social Media and Healthcare |

We've seen many cases of nurses falling out of grace because of social media mistakes, however social media isn't just about the bad and the ugly. It can also empower all nurses! In fact, many health care professionals would agree that Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and many other digital platforms did a great deal in helping them grow professionally. Social media has changed the health care landscape for all of us.

So why exactly do nurses need social media?

  1. It strengthens nurse-patient relationship.

    Communication between patient and health care team has evolved for the better, thanks to social media sites. In sites such as, patients are able to share their medical condition to other patients and health professionals around the world, thus allowing them to compare treatment procedures, discuss test results, and learn from each other. Instead of reading medical articles and reference blogs, patients can directly ask their nurses and get answers to their queries real-time. This procedure keeps medical information transparent, true and fast.
  2. It shares industry breakthroughs.

    Nowadays, nurses no longer rely solely on nursing magazines and journals for learning. Instead, they turn to social media sites to gain insight on their industry’s new and upcoming trends. Following professional sites such as Centers for Disease Control tells nurses what’s new in the medical sector and offers them reliable information. Following their favorite nurse writers on sites such as can also give them an insight on what’s happening in the profession.
  3. It spreads awareness about public health issues.

    Social media becomes an important tool especially during emergencies such as the Sandy hurricane. By re-tweeting posts on Twitter or posting links on Facebook, nurses are able to inform and promote the safety and well-being of individuals in the community. All nurses can raise awareness for a certain cause through tweets, blogs and posts.

  4. It makes communication easier, especially for travel nurses.

    Before social media, travel nurses would have to send out or receive tons of letters for their assignments. Some instructions could not reach them while they were on the road. Now with social media, travel nurses only need to follow a Twitter feed, read a blog post, or check Flickr photos for instructions. Moreover, communicating to friends and family back home has become easier, thanks to social networking sites. Photo and video sharing to loved ones is also possible through Facebook and Flickr.

  5. It shares knowledge, expertise, and support towards fellow health care professionals. and other social media sites are meant to empower nurses; they are avenues for nurses to share knowledge and expertise with other nurses. All one needs to do is to register an account and he/she is free to participate in forums and 
    discussion boards, ask and answer questions, read nursing-related articles, and even review job opportunities.
  6. It helps nurses de-stress.

    YouTube, Metacafe, and 
    other video sites can relieve nursing stress. Numerous videos are light and funny - the perfect medicine after a tiring 12-hour shift. Social networking sites can also serve as the temporary escape from the daily grind.

- See more at:

Haley Finley's curator insight, January 4, 2014 8:38 PM

I learned that there has been some problems with nurses posting or sharing something they were not supposed to on a social media. Despite these mistakes made on social media it can be something that is benificial to nurses. There are social media websites specifically made to strengthen relationships between nurses and patients which I had never heard of before. I learned that using social medias such as You Tube or Twitter are also a good way to destress as a nurse. 

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Social media recommendations for hospitals in 3 short sentences

Social media recommendations for hospitals in 3 short sentences | Social Media and Healthcare |

Think big. Start small. Move fast.

In his opening keynote at the Mayo Clinic’s Health Care Social Media Summit, Lee Aaseshared these wise words. They are part of a philosophy that has propelled the Mayo Clinic—traditionally a conservative institution—forward to become one of the most trusted healthcare brands online.

For the healthcare communicators in the room, the words certainly struck a chord. They describe the challenge—and the opportunity—of engaging in a time when it seems like everything changes on a daily basis. Consider: Three years ago, Pinterest, the third most popular social media site, didn’t exist.

Faced with this rapid evolution, how can healthcare communicators advance their goals? It starts with those three short sentences.


If your institution is not already active online, the idea of jumping into social media is daunting. But consider: New York Presbyterian Hospital had only been using social media for a few months when Hurricane Sandy struck the city. During the crisis, Twitter became one of the only viable forms of communicating with employees and patients. Now, social media is an essential part of the hospital’s strategy.

Don’t wait until there is a crisis to think about social media channels. Think big. What could you accomplish with digital tools?


It doesn’t take a social media army to have an impact. Start with small steps, such as creating a single, heartfelt video that tells the story of one of your patients. As Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children discovered with The Tin Man, when your institution sees the impact of one video (or one Twitter feed, or one Facebook page) the door to doing more will open wider.


Finally, remember that social media engagement takes place in real time. As the Mayo Clinic discovered when it first ventured into social media, you can’t form a committee to answer every question. Instead, establish a social media policy and then empower your employees to move fast. Doing so can avert a crisis – or allow you to seize an opportunity online.

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A healthy dose of social media - Ohio hospitals and their latest trends

A healthy dose of social media - Ohio hospitals and their latest trends | Social Media and Healthcare |

Ohio hospitals are increasingly using social media to connect with patients, families and their communities, and this exclusive survey shows why. Hospitals have made it a priority to build relationships, and they are using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other channels to engage.  The evidence suggest these efforts are paying off: Many Ohio hospitals are devoting more staff time and/or money to their social channels this year. This study by Mindset Digital and the Ohio Hospital Association demonstrates that the role of social media in healthcare care will continue to grow.

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Dr Kendall Ho - the Transformative Power of Social Media in Healthcare Education

Dr Kendall Ho, University of British Columbia, speaks to Universitas 21 Health Sciences delegates about how medical educators can embrace social media.
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Where is Healthcare and mobile technology going?

Where is Healthcare and mobile technology going? | Social Media and Healthcare |
Check out ICF new infographic based on our research at the intersection of healthcare and mobile technology. Well… it’s more than an infographic. It’s also a set of guiding principles for healthcar...
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Transforming healthcare through social media - A Risk managers perspective

Transforming healthcare through social media - A Risk managers perspective | Social Media and Healthcare |

I joined twitter about a year ago, never having used social media before. I didn’t know what to expect, but was quickly struck by how supportive an environment it can be.

And that is surprising.

So often, I read in the mainstream media, about cyber bullying. And it does exist. But social media is social; it’s full of people. You get nice people, and not so nice. The trick on Twitter is knowing who to follow, because you only really see the “tweets” for those you follow and there are some great supportive accounts.

One of the first accounts I followed was @WeNurses – because I’m a nurse by background. @WeNurses run weekly chats and has formed the foundation of an environment which is both supportive and encourages improvement and high quality care. The professionalism which comes through on the chats is often breath-taking. There is some real determination out there to ensure excellent quality care. There are accounts to support patients too, particularly chronic conditions.

Twitter opened my eyes to the world of blogging. I follow a number of staff, and patient blogs. I particularly relish reading some of those by patients, because it really opens my eyes to how the care provided is perceived by the person in the bed. It’s amazing how much you can learn looking at events from the other person’s perspective, and I really think such blogs could lead to a quiet revolution in care. I often think how difficult the role of a Patient Experience Manager must be because of the challenge of getting genuine views of patients. Not just those who put themselves forward for groups but also trying to elicit the actual feelings and views of those in the beds, who still feel unwell and vulnerable. Blogs and Twitter are an amazing opportunity to understand some of those views.

In short, what I’m trying to say is that I have come to believe that social media will transform healthcare because it’s opening up the views and perceptions of all those who engage with the service, from staff, to patients, to visitors. It won’t always be a smooth journey. There are bound to be issues and risks involved but with a professional and supportive approach, I think we have an opportunity to be at the forefront of change. Especially if we work together, as a city, to pool expertise to ensure a good skill set to help our staff and patients.

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Tech-Savvy Physicians Adopting HIT Faster Than Social Media

Tech-Savvy Physicians Adopting HIT Faster Than Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Tech-savvy family physicians are largely embracing health information technology (HIT), though the same can’t be said for social media, according to a new trend report from ZocDoc, a Web-based service that optimizes physicians’ schedules.   For the first annual Digital Doctor Survey, 360 primary care providers (PCPs) and other healthcare professionals within ZocDoc’s network responded to questions concerning their use of health information technology (HIT), social media, and online reviews.  

According to the survey results, 74% of physicians have already implemented HIT in their practices, which is a significantly higher percentage compared to the approximate 50% electronic health records (EHR) adoption reported by the US Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year. However, ZocDoc Founder and Chief Operating Officer Oliver Kharraz, MD, noted in a press release that physicians within his company’s network “tend to quickly adapt to the changing healthcare landscape in this digital world, which likely accounts for the disparity.”  

In terms of physicians’ actual use of EHR systems, 63% of respondents indicated that they allow patients to fill out and submit medical forms online ahead of office visits, and roughly the same proportion of healthcare providers said they have sent prescriptions to a patient electronically.

In addition to HIT, 53% of physicians have a Facebook account for their practice, 28% are connected on LinkedIn, 34% have a Google+ profile, and 21% use Twitter. However, 30% of practitioners surveyed reported that they still don’t have a presence on any social media platforms, despite the fact that nearly one-third of their patients access those platforms for health-related matters, Kharraz said.   But physicians’ insufficient social media usage doesn’t mean they aren’t on the Web.

In fact, 83% of respondents indicated that they have a website dedicated to their practice, and a similar majority of physicians are also actively managing their reputations — as well as monitoring the reputations of their colleagues and competitors — on anonymous doctor review websites such as, according to the survey data.   “While reviews are a powerful factor in online patient behavior, doctors who fear that a few pieces of negative feedback could poison their reputations are mistaken, (as) patients are no less likely to book appointments with doctors who have received a few negative reviews than with their counterparts,” the ZocData data analysis team wrote in a white paper corresponding with the survey results.

“Only when a provider’s overall rating falls to 2.5 stars or less do patients book precipitously fewer appointments with that provider.”   Despite those concerns about negative ratings, 85% of the physicians surveyed ranked their online reviews as fair or very fair

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Researchers Propose Social Network Modeling to Fight Hospital Infections

Researchers Propose Social Network Modeling to Fight Hospital Infections | Social Media and Healthcare |

Two researchers at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business have teamed up with a researcher at American University to develop a framework to help prevent costly and deadly infections acquired by hospitalized patients. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), these transmissions strike one out of every 20 inpatients, drain billions of dollars from the national health care system and cause tens of thousands of deaths annually.

The research of Sean Barnes, Smith School assistant professor of operations management; Bruce Golden, the Smith School's France-Merrick Chair in Management Science; and Edward Wasil of American's Kogod School of Business, utilized computer models that simulate the interactions between patients and health care workers to determine if these interactions are a source for spreading multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs). Their study shows a correlation of a “sparse, social network structure” with low infection transmission rates.

In these illustrations of dense (left) and sparse (right) patient ICU social networks, patients that share a nurse are connected by a link, while patients that share a physician have the same color (black/grey). Above

This study comes in advance of HHS’ 2015 launch and enforcement of a new initiative that penalizes hospitals at an estimated average rate of $208,642 for violating specific requirements for infection control. In response, the study’s authors have introduced a conceptual framework for hospitals to model their social networks to predict and minimize the spread of bacterial infections that often are resistant to antibiotic treatments.

The authors manipulated and tracked the dynamics of the social network in a mid-Atlantic hospital’s intensive care unit. They focused on interactions between patients and health care workers – primarily nurses – and the multiple competing factors that can affect transmission.

“The basic reality is that healthcare workers frequently cover for one another due to meetings, breaks and sick leave,” said Barnes. “These factors, along with the operating health care-worker-to-patient ratios and patient lengths of stay, can significantly affect transmission in an ICU… But they also can be better controlled.”

The next step is to enable hospitals to adapt this framework, which is based on maximizing staff-to-patient ratio to ensure fewer nurses and physicians come in contact with each patient, especially high-risk patients.

"The health care industry's electronic records movement could soon generate data that captures the structure of patient-healthcare worker interaction in addition to multiple competing, related factors that can affect MDRO transmission,” said Barnes.

The study, “Exploring the Effects of Network Structure and Healthcare Worker Behavior on the Transmission of Hospital-Acquired Infections,” appears in a recent issue of the peer-reviewed IIE Transactions on Healthcare Systems Engineering. The study was partially funded by the Robert H. Smith School of Business Center for Health Information and Decision Systems.

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Professional use of Twitter and Healthcare Social Media

Presentation for the SMART Care Conference (SMART = Social Media Application for Research and Teaching) hosted by the University of Notre Dame, School of Nursin
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Social Media Channels for Healthcare - A summary

Social Media Channels for Healthcare - A summary | Social Media and Healthcare |

So many social media channels; so little time!  It can be overwhelming. And we have to respect privacy considerations, not make mistakes (that become public!), and not offend anyone.  What to do?  Where to go? Which channel is safer, better, easier, faster?

Following is a discussion of the social media channels I use and why I use them. To Note: this is my own, personal opinion and in no way an absolute fact.  To really see what works for YOU, you must take the plunge and try out the site yourself.

The channels I use pretty regularly  are: Twitter, Hootsuite, Storify, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+,, Skype, and YouTube.

Twitter, Hootsuite, and Storify

Twitter is great for short “tweets” - they only allow 140 characters, so you should shorten your URLs if you have more to say than just tweeting a link.  I usually use Hootsuite as I can shorten the URLs right on Hootsuite and organize my tweets better on that channel.  If I am in a rush, on a mobile, and just want to tweet something short, then I will use Twitter.  Or if I am on a page like the New York Times and just want to tweet the page, then I will use the twitter icon and leave it at that.  Otherwise, I use Hootsuite.  

Using hashtags for Twitter and Hootsuite really helps your tweets get the attention you want.  You can see some great health hashtags here on symplur

Hootsuite also lets you have several twitter accounts right on the same page, which is great, but a word of CAUTION: use the correct account for the appropriate tweet.  Remember the incident of the sales rep who used the corporate account to tweet out a rather personal message?  That could happen to anyone; don’t let it be you!

I use Hootsuite to tweet out great healthcare posts or articles that I find online.  I also use it to follow healthcare tweetchats and live tweet at conventions and meetings.  Hootsuite lets you see the stream and follow along, search hashtags and twitter handles.  I would call Twitter and Hootsuite great for alerting folks to news.  It’s short and fast and pretty easy.  You can also send photos and videos (with Vine) if you want.  Note: a great post about a hospital using Vine in the OR for educational purposes.

Storify is a great way of stringing tweets together to tell a story and can be used for tweetchats or a discussion or lecture at a health conference where a lot of people are live tweeting.  You use the hashtag stream and insert text, photos, links and whatever else you want to create a story from the tweets.  Then you can post the story and all the people whose tweets you used to tell the story will be notified.  Here’s an example of a Storify post taking from the #HIMSS12 twitter stream: HIMSS12 Storified


Facebook is the most social of the social channels.  It allows you to post to “friends” with photos, videos, text.  You can tag people, engage them and all sorts of very “social” stuff.  I find Facebook great for more casual posts.  I post wellness articles on Facebook and try to engage people to take care of themselves, be fit, be aware of this health app or that health event or conference.  It is a gathering place for casual conversation and engagement.  I think the Cleveland Clinic uses Facebook really well for theirHealth Hub page.  

Be careful of photos you post on Facebook though.  When I am at a convention or an event, I love to post on Facebook, especially if it is a group gathering.  But make sure you have everyone’s OK with being on Facebook.  Many people don’t want to have their photos posted on the internet at all.  Ask before you take a photo that you want to post.  You CAN delete photos and take down text, but by then the damage is often done.

I won’t go into the privacy concerns about healthcare professionals posting on Facebook.  There are a lot of articles written on that topic.  I think the best thing to do for anyone (and that includes me) is to keep your personal FB page personal and your business FB page business.  


Pinterest is mainly a scrapbook.  I post infographics or photos and posts of cool gadgets.  Nutrition and fitness posts do well here.  It is visited mainly by a female audience and the interest is mainly visual, so be aware of that.  It is very easy to use.  You just “pin” an article or post to your Pinterest page.  There must be a photo on the page though, for the post to look like anything.  You can browse through Pinterest and see exactly what I mean.  It’s a visual journey.


If Facebook is the casual healthcare venue, LinkedIn is the office.  I think it is the most “serious” of the social sites.  It is also a job search site.  Create a profile on LinkedIn and that is your resume.  You can network with any number of people and connect with them through the site.  You can join groups with special interests and participate in discussions with group members.  You need to be approved by the group manager and your posts and comments are moderated.  It’s mainly about the discussion here and you should take a bit of time thinking about what you are going to post.  It’s a great networking site and wonderful for researching people, reaching out and “getting to know people” virtually.  Our site, HealthWorks Collective, just started a LinkedIn HealthWorks Collective Group - check it out and please join if you are interested.


Google+ has good features for posting articles and photos.  It also has the G+ “Hangout” which is a live video streaming feature where a group of participants can get together to discuss a topic, brainstorm, have a meeting or whatever.  It’s a pretty cool feature and you can upload a hangout to YouTube and post it and share it.  Here’s a hangout on Google Glass that was uploaded to YouTube and then put in a post: Google Glass in Surgery

There are many many communities on G+ that you can join easily to browse or post.  G+ started out as very tech-related but it is more mainstream now and very easy to use.  It is not as in-depth as LinkedIn and you can easily join communities without moderation or approval.   I post a lot on G+ on various health communities depending on the topic of the post.

Skype and YouTube

Video is a great way to vary the delivery of your message.  A video embedded in a post gives your audience the option of watching or reading or both.  I use Skype a lot for video interviews of health start-up CEOs, doctors, and other healthcare thought leaders.  You can record directly from Skype with the Skype recorder and then edit in iMovie and upload to YouTube.  The quality is not the best, but it is easy and only costs the price of downloading the Skype recorder, which is nominal.  

Any YouTube video, if made “public” can be embedded in a post really easily.  You can go to YouTube and browse subjects and find a video about almost anything.  It’s fun to do and really simple. Many of the videos are not of the best quality, but they are accessible and easily embedded.  Here is a sample of a Skype interview edited in iMovie, uploaded to YouTube and then embedded in a post: Acquapura is a news board of posts and articles written on a variety of topics.  You search for a specific topic and it will give you any number of articles written on that topic.  You can make your own topics up and “publish” the posts that you want to save on your board. I use to see what’s happening in healthcare around the web.  I search for a topic and can quickly find articles on it and save the articles in my curated topic until I have a chance to read them.  Always check the dates on the news articles; I have come across some rather dated posts on

There are many other social channels, certainly, but I have found the above to be the most useful for me.  Try them out and see how you like them!

mgmtinstr09's curator insight, October 28, 2013 1:47 AM

Good discussion of a variety of useful sources business students should be aware of.

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US Government ‘Mining’ Social Media for Information on Health Behavior

US Government ‘Mining’ Social Media for Information on Health Behavior | Social Media and Healthcare |

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is “mining” Facebook and Twitter to improve its social media footprint and to assess how Tweets can be used as “change-agents” for health behaviors.

The NLM, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will have software installed on government computers that will store data from social media as part of a $30,000 project announced last week.

“The National Library of Medicine is the world’s largest biomedical library and makes its stored information available online at no charge to consumers, health professionals, and biomedical scientists through a diverse suite of resources,” the agency said in a contract posted on Oct. 23. “Evaluating how its databases and other resources are utilized is an important component of continuing quality improvement and has long been an on-going program of NLM management through a potpourri of monitoring tools.”

“The world-wide explosion in the use of social media provides a unique opportunity for sampling sentiment and use patterns of NLM’s ‘customers’ and for comparing NLM to other sources of health-related information,” the agency said.

“By examining relevant tweets and other comments,” the contract said, “NLM will gain insights to extent of use, context for which information was sought, and effects of various health-related announcements and events on usage patterns.”

Specifically, NLM will look at the “value of tweets and other messages as teaching tools and change-agents for health-relevant behavior.”

“The overarching objective of these studies is to obtain a richer understanding of how consumers, clinicians, researchers actually look for the health-related information they seek, and what they do with what they find,” NLM said in a response to frequently asked questions about the project.

OhMyGov Inc., a media company that specializes in the promotion of government agencies, will be paid $30,660 to monitor social media for NLM for one year.

The company will install software on computers at NLM headquarters in Bethesda, Md. to “maintain a comprehensive ‘universe’ of social media data.” Government bureaucrats will be trained on the software so they can search the database for health-related content.

“Content from Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news sites, discussion boards, video and image sharing sites will be maintained by the Contractor and kept up-to-date in a timely manner and made available for query by Government,” the contract said.

When asked by a vendor if they are interested in storing the data for “historical analysis,” NLM said “Yes.”

The project will also track NLM’s impact on social media in comparison to its “competitors,” which they define as Google, Mayo Clinic, and WebMD.

“Demographic characteristics” of Facebook and Twitter posts will be noted “to the extent permitted by privacy regulations.” NLM said they are interested in the location, number of followers, and academic degrees held by users.

The contractor OhMyGov Inc. is partially funded by the National Science Foundation, and a member of President Obama’s “Startup America Initiative,” a public-private partnership designed to spur entrepreneurship.

“The OhMyGov Media Monitoring and Policy Analysis system is the first and only business intelligence software completely politically focused,” according to the company’s website. “It provides real-time data mining, analysis, and visual analytics to uncover patterns in message uptake and critical insights into how issues are being characterized by Congress as well as the media, public, and key stakeholders.”

Requests for comment from NLM were not returned.

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How a Major Hospital Uses Social Media!

How a Major Hospital Uses Social Media! | Social Media and Healthcare |

Hospitals have a unique opportunity when it comes to social media marketing – they have so many inspiring stories to tell, but they must also make sure they receive the necessary patient approval.

John Ambrose, social media director for Mount Sinai Health System in New York who also happens to be a lawyer, explained that concerns over legal risks should not stop hospitals from being active on social media.

Hospitals are required to maintain the privacy of their patients as required by the privacy rule in HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which was passed by Congress in the 1990s.

“First and foremost, these concerns should not completely deter hospitals from developing a social media presence. Throughout the United States, millions of patients regularly use social media to find health information and share their stories and opinions. We have the opportunity to provide them with the content they’re looking for, and in some cases, improve their health and even save lives. Social media also allows us to directly engage with these patients and provide them with a vehicle to voice their praises and concerns,” said Ambrose, who elaborated that it’s a good idea to be prepared, check facts, work closely with the legal team, and constantly monitor hospital social media platforms.

In fact, Mount Sinai Health System (previously The Mount Sinai Medical Center), which first launched on Facebook and has four employees dedicated to social media, is extremely active on multiple social media platforms.

For example, Mount Sinai promoted on Facebook that it was conducting a free skin cancer screening, and the message reached thousands of people.

“The result: we had lines out the door at our Department of Dermatology, but more importantly, we provided essential services to many that would not normally be able to afford them, and even detected potential life-threatening melanomas in some of these individuals,” explained Ambrose.

It also uses social media to:

• Tell patients’ inspiring stories;
• Share information about physicians;
• Provide health tips; and
• Increase awareness around specific health issues such as skin cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, children’s health, and ovarian cancer.

Mount Sinai uses many visuals, such as infographics and videos, to get information across on social media channels.

Ambrose said that a Facebook campaign in 2012 saw very high levels of engagement and reach. “Cancer-Proof Your Home,” which provided graphics focusing on how to lower chemical and carcinogen exposure in homes, was shared more than 1,200 times and reached upwards of 260,000 people.

“This was one of our most successful posts because people are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of chemicals, and this graphic provided simple tips that practically anyone can live by,” he said, adding that Mount Sinai also shares content from patients, students, researchers, and employees, on social media.

For example, Ron Gardner, who received deep brain stimulation surgery to treat Parkinson’s Disease, often posts updates on social media, and Mount Sinai shares and responds to those updates through its social media channels weekly.

Mount Sinai has also participated in more than 30 Twitter chats.

In addition, the health system uses social media tools to listen to what staff, students, visitors, family members, and patients are saying about Mount Sinai, and it immediately responds to any negative comments.

It also actively measures return on investment (ROI). On a monthly basis, the marketing team looks at its “subscriber base, reach, audience engagement, interactions with influential users and organizations, and effectiveness of campaigns and individual posts on all of our social media channels.” They use Hootsuite, Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Twitalyzer to track and measure ROI.

According to Ambrose, social media is critical during crises, such as Hurricane Sandy, for communication purposes. Mount Sinai created a storm hub online that included health and safety tips, live updates, emergency contact information, and other resources on 12 social media channels.

“During the storm, we continued to update the public and staff on the storm’s progress, any closures and mass transit issues, and provided relevant tips based on the actual health emergencies caused by the storm. After the storm, we promoted inspirational patient stories and feats of heroism, commended our volunteers, physicians, students, nurses and staff for their tremendous efforts, and provided important lessons for future health emergencies,” he explained.

Besides Facebook, the Mount Sinai Health System is also on Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, Flickr, Foursquare and WordPress (three blogs), and it has more than 50 social media handles across all of its departments and facilities.

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Social Media: Does It Really Change Patient Behavior?

Social Media: Does It Really Change Patient Behavior? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Thanks to the technologic allure of iPhones replacing stethoscopes,apps substituting for doctors and electronic information substituting for having to actually talk to patients, the thoroughly modern Disease Management Care Blog is all about medical-social media. 

Think Facebook for the flu.  Twitter for tinnitus. Egads, listen to the typical consultant, pundit or futurist and it's easy to believe that we're on the verge of a silicon-based health care revolution

But then reality intrudes and some skeptic somewhere always asks about the bang for the buck, the juice for the squeeze, the return for the investment. It's a good question.

For something of an answer, consider the results appearing in a recently published randomized clinical trial.  The actual condition in question is going unmentioned for now, so that the DMCB can better focus on the issue of patient engagement

Over a 4 month period, “at risk persons” were recruited for a clinical research trial with on-line ads (Facebook banners, Craigslist, for example) as well as announcements in community settings and venues.  Once persons met the usual inclusion criteria and had a unique Facebook account, they were randomly assigned to one of two treatment arms.

One treatment arm used a closed Facebook group to coach persons about their at risk condition.  The other treatment arm similarly used Facebook to coach persons about general health improvement.  Lay “Peer Leaders,” who were given a three hour training session on “epidemiology of the condition or general health subjects and ways of using Facebook to discuss health and stigmatizing topics,” were assigned to lead the groups.

Peer Leaders attempted to reach out to their assigned group persons with messaging, chats and wall posts.  Once the link was established, the relationship in the intervention group included communication about prevention and treatment of the condition. At the end of 1, 2 and three months of the study, participants completed a variety of surveys.


57 individuals were in the control general health group and 55 were in the condition coaching group.  According to the surveys, intervention patients were ultimately statistically significantly more likely to agree to condition testing (44%) than the control patients (20%).  Because there were few participants, the modest decrease in actual tests or risk behaviors were not statistically meaningful.

The DMCB's take:

While this was a small study, this is the first time that the DMCB has seen reasonable proof that social media by itself can move the behavior needle.  On the other hand, this did not result in a patient engagement stampede toward better care or hard clinical outcomes.  A majority of participants (56%) did not appear to benefit.  Nonetheless, the results do support the inclusion of Facebook-style closed group social media in the suite of population health management services.

That being said, the condition at risk was HIV and study population was men who have sex with men (“MSMs”).  It doesn't necessarily follow that what would work in this community of persons would necessarily be transferrable to other conditions, such as diabetes.  The DMCB doesn't think that's really true and finds it credible that 112 persons with diabetes or hypertension would probably achieve the same kind of results (A1c testing or home blood pressure monitoring) in a similarly tailored Facebook closed group.

Here's the study.

Let the research continue!

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Twitter Impact On Healthcare Conferences

Twitter Impact On Healthcare Conferences | Social Media and Healthcare |

Some of the key Findings from the Symplur Healthcare Conference Study.

•    There were more virtual participants (592) than participants that were physically present at the location (400). This illustrates both the power of social media, and the powerful impact the thought-leaders at the Doctors 2.0 & You conference created as their ideas went viral across the globe.
•    The 4,999 total tweets created significant awareness of the ideas shared by the presenters at the conference with a total of 11,969,612 potential impressions in Twitter users’ tweet streams.
•    There was great diversity in languages used by the social participants with English, French and Spanish being the top three, followed by Dutch, Italian, and German.
•    The second day of the conference created the highest volume of social conversations with a total of 2,858 tweets.
•    The social peak of the conference took place at noon the second day when Jen Dyer MD, MPH (@endogoddess) presented on how mobile apps and social media can be a powerful way to improve health literacy. This hour alone generated over 500 tweets.
•    Patients were strongly represented at the conference being one of the main segments or social influencers.
•    Looking at the top 50 influencers, they found that Doctors made up the largest group (12). They were followed by Consultants (8), and Patients (7).
•    From analyzing the hashtags used during the conference, they identified some of the main topics discussed including “Healthcare Social Media”, “Mobile Health”, “Pharma”, “ePatients” and “eHealth”.
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How can pharma participate in social media conversations?

How can pharma participate in social media conversations? | Social Media and Healthcare |

The complexities of pharmaceutical companies inserting themselves into a conversation with patients, and caregivers are numerous, particularly on social media. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines the parameters to some extent, there’s the issue of privacy and trust, too. It’s front of mind for most people using the Internet for healthcare queries. Healthcare marketer Richard Meyer offers some useful insights on how these groups could understand each other better from his blog, World of DTC Marketing.

What do consumers want? People searching for healthcare information online tend to be looking for data that helps them better understand their condition and treatment options or those of a loved one. How far advanced is the person’s condition? It will make a difference in the quality of any potential interactions with a pharmaceutical company. But they may also be looking to connect with other people who share their condition and can provide helpful insights or advice. Plenty of social networks such as PatientsLikeMe have developed communities to make that easier. Still, Meyer points out that questions on social media often don’t get answered.

Respect privacy concerns When it comes to tapping social media channels, it’s not surprising that people tend to be concerned about who else is tuning in. Healthcare marketers need to be as transparent as possible. As Meyer cautions, it’s a fine line between intrusion and marketing.

People not companies If a pharmaceutical company wants to have a dialogue it’s important to have a real person do that, not just some avatar. He points out:

“Patients want to know who they are talking to on social media so it’s essential to have a real person as the voice of your brand. For example, a diabetes social media program could feature a diabetes educator.”

Where do pharma companies offer value? A PWC report last year asked consumers this question. Among the top responses from the survey: people place moderate to great value in drug companies using social media to offer discounts or coupons, customer service, and information to find the cheapest medications.

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The social media scene: Helping the uninsured log on so they can sign up

The social media scene: Helping the uninsured log on so they can sign up | Social Media and Healthcare |
If you log onto the Facebook page for Covered California, that state's health insurance exchange, you'll be greeted by a glut of status updates encouraging uninsured Californians to sign up for coverage. Exchange officials hope their Facebook page and other social media tools will help ease the confusion caused by early glitches in the state's online enrollment process.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ have acted as Covered California's virtual classrooms, as exchange staffers post online content to quickly answer confused consumers' questions about buying health coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California also has used interactive question-and-answer sessions. It has hosted live chats on Facebook, Reddit and CoverItLive, a live-blogging online portal. It also has posted YouTube video interviews with Californians who have successfully enrolled through the exchange.

Social media campaigns such as one just launched in Colorado help reach a targeted audience that includes both younger and older residents.

Social media campaigns such as one just launched in Colorado help reach a targeted audience that includes both younger and older residents.

To counter reports that consumers struggled to enroll online early in October, a Covered California Facebook update from Oct. 17 suggests signing up by phone as an alternative, noting that the process would take less than an hour. The Facebook page boasts nearly 100,000 “likes.”

“We're educating people online, we get comments from the public every single day, and we'll respond to a specific topic that consumers might suggest,” said Roy Kennedy, a spokesman for Covered California. “The goal is to educate each person that comes on and make them feel comfortable that they've received answers.” Nearly 18% of the state's non-elderly population is uninsured, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data.

Social media also enable virtual town-hall style meetings, popular forums for Covered California and other organizations across the country seeking to educate consumers about signing up for insurance through the state and federal insurance exchanges. They provide an easy way for organizers to quickly blast out information about costs, eligibility and other information required to sign up. They also can address qualifications for premium subsidies. Social media increasingly have become a vital component for exchanges and other enrollment-oriented groups to target younger consumers. Signing up a large share of younger and healthier people is considered crucial in holding down premiums for exchange health plans.

Even more established healthcare organizations such as the Kaiser Family Foundation are using social media to get the word out about the healthcare reform law. The foundation drew readers to link to a Q&A section on its website via this tweet: “Can I buy insurance in the marketplace without a green card? Find this & other FAQs on the ACA here.”

For exchanges and other groups trying to sign people up for ACA coverage, social media have the advantage of being accessible to lower-income people who may lack a personal computer at home but often have Internet-enabled smartphones. But they are still no substitute for old-fashioned, face-to-face contact in encouraging people to disclose personal information and pay a premium to get health insurance they may not feel they need—especially Latinos and other minorities who may not trust impersonal online appeals, officials say.

“In terms of the connection, when you're talking to someone in person, on their couch, about their struggles to get access to healthcare, nothing comes close to that,” said Tiffany Hogue, statewide healthcare campaign coordinator for the Texas Organizing Project, a not-for-profit group that seeks to increase healthcare access in Texas, where nearly 25% of the under-65 adult population is uninsured, the highest percentage in the nation according to Census data.

Covered California hosted interactive Q&A sessions to engage consumers, and so far, more than 100,000 people have completed prescreenings to sign up for coverage on the California exchange.The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative created ads featuring diverse consumers with various health issues to encourage uninsured Coloradans to enroll in a health plan through the state exchange.

Enroll America is banking heavily on Internet advertising, including social media, to reach the organization's target audience—the young and low-income families—and has spent $5 million on digital ads for the next three months.While social media can reach a larger audience faster than volunteers knocking on doors or through community events, officials from the Texas Organizing Project note that it's just one tool that should be used to augment broader outreach efforts.But in a state the size of Texas, reaching rural populations person by person is a daunting task. So Hogue and her staff have turned to social media to deliver their message and help prepare people to sign up through the federally run exchange. Texas is one of 36 states that decided not to offer their own exchanges, so it's relying on the federal online marketplace. They hope to reach both younger and older Texans via social media.

Exchanges and other groups are using social media to inform consumers that they can apply for insurance through the online exchanges, as well as to educate them about the range of health plan options available. Consumers who use social media are already more comfortable with technology, and that comfort level is a boon for organizers. The time consumers spend online getting information about exchange enrollment can make them more comfortable when the time comes to log onto an exchange website or portal and actually sign up, Hogue says. Without that preparation, the exchange sites can be intimidating, especially for older people who aren't computer-savvy.

Hogue and her colleagues steer uninsured Texans to TOP's website, which includes an income eligibility table so visitors can better understand the plans available and the costs involved. The website then points them toward the federal site. Unfortunately for thousands of Texans and residents of other states relying on the federal exchange for information and enrollment, the first several weeks have been frustrating as technological glitches and malfunctions have impeded their attempts to enroll.

TOP reported good turnout for two online town halls this year that provided information about the healthcare reform law and guidance on what information will be needed for enrollment.

Similarly, the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative just announced a new exchange plan enrollment campaign in that state utilizing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest. They've borrowed from the famous “Got Milk?” campaign and will be posting photos of diverse consumers—a mother with her toddler, a mountain climber, a teen sports fanatic and a set of college fraternity brothers. Each photo carries the Twitter hashtag #GotInsurance.

The Colorado initiative's goals are to raise awareness about the state-run exchange and make sure people are prepared to enroll, said Adam Fox, the organization's director of strategic engagement. They're focusing on reaching women, young adults and families. Nearly 14% of the state's population is uninsured, a total of more than 700,000 residents, based on Census data.

Officials at Enroll America, a not-for-profit that is conducting a national awareness campaign around enrollment, has spent $5 million on three months of online advertising and also uses social media. One concept Enroll America is considering is based on Reddit, the website that features users hosting virtual question-and-answer sessions. Users express their opinions and rate submissions by voting them up or down. The votes can help filter out false information being spread on the Internet, while giving credibility to responses provided by experts. Pro-ACA groups see a big need for this type of Internet fact-checking.
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Healthcare and social media -what’s holding us back?

Healthcare and social media -what’s holding us back? | Social Media and Healthcare |

The international healthcare industry is experiencing a global shift in how patients are choosing to connect with healthcare topics and organisations. From researching a particular illness through to broadcasting their opinions on hospitals, drugs, physicians and health plans, today’s patients are transforming the internet into the largest, and most frequently accessed source of healthcare information ever known.

Yet, among the thousands of insightful/ disgruntled/ confused/ and sometimes frightened voices that participate in health-based social media conversations each day, the very organisations capable of providing clear and accurate forms of healthcare commentary are not participating. In fact, with the exception of a few healthcare social media ‘champions’ such as the US-based Mayo Clinic, many of the world’s hospitals, health clinics and research centers continue to shy away from social media platforms.

It’s a situation that has led some commentators to suggest that healthcare organisations simply ‘don’t get’ social media. Yet, I’d argue that a more thoughtful analysis of the situation reveals quite a different situation; one based on a series of concerns around resourcing, privacy, staff productivity and risk aversion.

Indeed, far from ‘not getting’ social media, it would seem that many healthcare organisations are actively thinking about social media, but feel that they are simply too ill-equipped to deal with the fallout should a social media interaction go awry.

A recent study by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) reveals that although one third of healthcare consumers use social media as a ‘natural habitat’ for health based discussions, most healthcare organisations continue to prioritise their worries over social media ahead of its potential opportunities.

In their 2012 Social Media Likes Healthcare report, PWC identified the following concerns as being directly related to a general avoidance of social media within the healthcare space:

• Integrating social media data

• Measuring social media effectiveness and ROI

• Educating staff on correct use of social media

• Responding to posts

• Maintaining patient confidentiality

• Decreased staff productivity

With these worries in mind, it’s little wonder that health organisations have been slow on the social media uptake. Yet, given that social media isn’t going to go away, the conversation must now focus on how healthcare organisations are going to overcome these concerns and move towards a fruitful and rewarding social media presence.

For today’s healthcare organisations, it seems that there is little choice but to join the conversation, implement social media safety nets and get on with talking to real people in real time.

Over the following months we’ll be working through a number of issues facing today’s healthcare organisations as they contemplate their forays into in the social media sphere. Along the way we’ll share tips, case studies and practical insights into making the most of social media. In the meantime, we’re keen to open up the conversation to include your experiences of social media and healthcare on our twitter account.

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Online support for parents of preterm infants: a qualitative and content analysis of Facebook 'preemie' groups.

Online support for parents of preterm infants: a qualitative and content analysis of Facebook 'preemie' groups. | Social Media and Healthcare |

To qualitatively evaluate the content of communication in Facebook communities dedicated to preterm infants.


The 25 largest public English-language Facebook groups focusing on preterm infants were identified. For each group, the 20 most recent wallposts and a maximum of the 15 first comments to these wallposts, and the 15 most recent discussion topics were analysed according to a thematic coding scheme. The purpose of each group was determined and personal characteristics of administrators and active posters were analysed.


1497 individual Facebook groups focusing on preterm infants were found, wherein the 25 largest had between 391 and 14 986 members. Non-profit fundraising groups comprised 48% of analysed groups and had the greatest number of members (median 1450, IQR 548-5435), followed by general awareness (24% of all groups, members: median 1183, IQR 658-2116) and interpersonal support groups (28% of all groups, members: median 823, IQR 484-1022). 85.0% of administrators and 91.5% of posters were women, and two-thirds of posts had been written by mothers of preterm infants. The analysis of posts, comments and discussion topics (n=1054) showed that 'information sharing' (31%) and 'interpersonal support' (53%) were the most common purposes.


Facebook groups related to preterm birth have become a popular tool for fundraising and awareness-raising. However, most group members use these forums for information sharing and interpersonal support. Given their popularity and reach, further research is warranted to understand the motivations, implications and risks of dynamic online communication among parents of preterm infants.

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Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson: Reflections on Social Media for the Mayo Clinic Center

Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson's address to the Mayo Clinic.
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Study shows how social media engages people with chronic diseases

Study shows how social media engages people with chronic diseases | Social Media and Healthcare |

Using Facebook chats to convey health information is becoming more common. A study has set out to find the best way to boost participation in the chats to raise awareness of lupus, an autoimmune disease.

Specifically, investigators at HSS wanted to see if collaboration with a community-based lupus organization would increase patient awareness and participation. They found that the number of people participating in the chat tripled when the hospital joined forces with the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation to publicize the chat.

The study, titled, "Utilizing Facebook Chats to Convey Health Information to Lupus Patients at the Lupus-Antiphospholipid Syndrome Center of Excellence at Hospital for Special Surgery," will be presented at the American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals Annual Meeting on October 28 in San Diego.

The Lupus Center of Excellence at Special Surgery uses Facebook chats to raise awareness, reach a wider audience, allow for interaction between patients and health care providers, and answer patients' questions about lupus. The chats help to educate patients about their disease and the importance of maintaining relationships with their rheumatologists.

"The Facebook chats provide a new venue to get information from rheumatologists and other health professionals who understand this complex disease. Lupus patients are hungry for information, and with social media, we can address their specific concerns in real time," said Jane Salmon, M.D., director of the Lupus Center of Excellence and senior author of the study.

"The findings suggest that collaboration between health care providers and disease-specific community organizations can enhance patient participation and increase our ability to educate patients about staying healthy," said Dr. Salmon.

Kwang Hyun's curator insight, October 29, 2013 11:13 PM

Defects of Social Networking

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BHF launch online videos to ease patient fears about heart tests and treatments

BHF launch online videos to ease patient fears about heart tests and treatments | Social Media and Healthcare |

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has launched a series of online videos and DVDs to help healthcare professionals ease their patients' fears about common heart tests and treatments including ECGs, echocardiograms and stent surgery.

The launch comes as the heart charity release new online research that shows half the nation (48%) has turned to the internet for information about tests or treatments they've been referred for by their doctor.

Of those who have searched on the internet for this medical information:

  • Over half (52%) said they wanted to find out more about the side effects for their test or treatment
  • Over two in five (42%) said they were concerned about what the test or treatment involved
  • Over one in five (22%) said they didn't feel their doctor gave them enough information
  • Nearly a quarter (23%) said they wanted to get information to reassure their family

The online survey of over 2,000 UK adults also reveals that around one in five patients (19%) feel uncomfortable asking their doctor all of their questions at an appointment. A similar number (20%) who have been for an appointment with their doctor say they feel unsure if their condition or concern is being correctly diagnosed.

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Students at City of Hope participate in social media campaign for HIV/AIDS awareness

Students at City of Hope participate in social media campaign for HIV/AIDS awareness | Social Media and Healthcare |

About 400 area high school students participated in a social media awareness campaign for HIV/AIDS at the seventh annual HIV/AIDS Action Summit on Tuesday morning at the City of Hope.

Students from health academies in Pasadena, Duarte and Montebello took part in a HIV/AIDS awareness video for Planned Parenthood on mobile video sharing app Vine.


“Know your status get tested” is the message the students delivered through the six-second video.


Former Assemblyman Anthony J. Portantino, who has hosted the summit with the City of Hope for the past seven years, said he hopes to educate younger people about the AIDS epidemic, although it has been out of the headlines in recent years. Portantino has been personally affected by the disease with the death of his cousin when Portantino was a child.


“This is a movement that is 30 years old, but is still as important today as it was 30 years ago because it’s a disease that’s completely preventable and people don’t focus on that piece because now they see people living longer and so they don’t understand the consequences are just as dire,” said Portantino. “Although the advancements and drug treatments have gotten better, we still need to be on our A game with this.”


City of Hope Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alexandra Levine explained the cause, effects, prevention and treatments for the HIV/AIDS, or human immunodeficiency virus infection /acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, to the students.


Levine showed graphic photographs depicting some of the infections that can become deadly to people with AIDS, who have a weakened immune system. The students gasped at some of the images.

“I want to show you these pictures because they are the truth. This is what AIDS is,” she said. “I want you to see what AIDS is because I need you to know that you don’t want it.”

She encouraged the students to think of the consequences of having sex with a partner who they don’t know whether or not is infected with HIV.

“We respect you. I’m saying to you to think of yourself,” she said. “Respect the fact that you’ve got a life to live and perhaps want to live that life. When you make decisions it’s always with the concept that I respect myself. I respect who I am.”


Levine explained that groups at high-risk for HIV/AIDS are blacks, Hispanics, people below the poverty line and young people age 13 to 29. She also spoke about the disparity in availability of drugs to treat the disease.


Worldwide in 2010, for every two patients who begin treatment for HIV, five people are newly infected, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.


Planned Parenthood representatives spoke about how several organizations used social media for public awareness campaigns around World Aids Day on Dec. 1 last year, including condom manufacturer Durex, which donated a condom for every “share” it got on social media.

“I hope they go home and talk to their peers and say I learned something about HIV. I learned how this can be prevented,” said Portantino.

One student said although she had taken health classes before, she learned a lot during the summit.


“With the pictures, it kind of scared me because I had never seen that before,” said Symphony Brown, 15, a student in the Health Careers Academy at Blair High School in Pasadena.

“I didn’t even know that existed,” she said.

She said she was eager to participate in the social media campaigns.

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