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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Social Media in Long-Term Care

Social Media in Long-Term Care | Social Media and Healthcare |

Everyone is abuzz about the social media. Yet its application for healthcare is not entirely clear. When you consider that 64 percent of word of mouth conversations happen face-to-face and not online, well the luster dims a bit. And when you consider that, unlike other industries that use coupons and other devices to drive immediate sales, healthcare services are something that people, by and large, do not want. We can’t issue a Groupon that says “Buy one nursing home day, get the second free. Act now.” So let’s simplify the social media equation for healthcare organizations.

Here is my take on how healthcare should use the social media.

Facebook - most people are looking for deals, coupons, etc from services and products that they use on an ongoing basis – think restaurants, retail. So it is not a perfect fit for healthcare. However, to the extent that you can build communities of people based on their affinity – caregiver community, Alzheimer’s community, weight loss community, diabetes community – that would help. And for everyone else, it is not about what you do as an organization but about what you share that can help him or her live a healthier life.

You Tube - picking up from the last line above, people will care less about viewing a procedure or process as they will care if your activity professional produces a video on activities elders can do at home to promote quality of life. Provide information people can use. Over time they will remember who provided it and think of you when they need what you offer. That also ties to your CRM efforts in which you collect data about prospects and clients so that you can give them what they want in both marketing and customer experience.

Twitter – the best use is to use one of the many Twitter tools out there and monitor mentions of your company. That is what Comcast does for their company and they identify customer service issues immediately. So using it in service recovery is becoming essential. A family caregiver leaves your facility and tweets about something that went wrong. You can deal with it immediately.

But you can also use these for breaking news that really has an impact and to create flash mobs at events or even in advocacy efforts. Take a cue from the following event.

A flash mob of dancers dressed as grey-haired senior citizens recently hit New York City’s Times Square to draw attention to long-term care insurance. Members danced a choreographed waltz in pairs, while a string quartet accompanied them. After the waltz, the dancers tore off their costumes and began a swing dance number. Following the dancers, an eldercare expert addressed a small crowd of spectators and spoke about the increased need for seniors to purchase long-term care insurance.

The mob was sponsored by non-profit group 3in4 Need More, which focuses on long-term care advocacy and the need for LTC insurance.

The Power of Four

Erik Qualman in a blog post “Social Media Made Simple: The 4 Steps” outlines four steps for success.

  1. Listen
  2. Interact: Join the conversation
  3. React: Adjust your product or service based on [2]
  4. Sell

Notice what is last? Companies often jump straight to step four, selling. Start with listening. Without listening the other three steps will not happen.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Pink ribbons go virtual

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Pink ribbons go virtual | Social Media and Healthcare |

He stares at you seductively, flaunts his hot body — and reminds you to keep breast health a priority.

No, it’s not a cheesy pickup line. In fact, the object of your affection likely wants to keep things platonic.

That’s because he inhabits your smartphone.

Hot guys are a central feature of the Your Man Reminder App, available on iTunes and for Android devices.

The folks behind the app promise “you’ll love the attention our hot guys give you as they remind you to show your breasts some TLC.”

Still not sold on the tool? Don’t forget its potential to send “Man-O-Grams,” a personalized message in which a hot guy reminds one of your friends to stay on top of her breast health.

The app marks the collision of breast cancer and social technology.

An abundance of online breast cancer information isn’t new. But the popularity of smartphones, paired with the growing prominence of the social media world, has given breast cancer awareness efforts a digital presence that extends beyond medical terminology.

Consider smartphone apps that promote breast health. Facebook statuses devoted to awareness efforts. Twitter hashtags promoting digital unity among patients and survivors.

The digital world can potentially ease the uncertainty of a breast cancer diagnosis. Yet for activists, it has added new questions to a push for awareness.

Sources for online support

Your Man Reminder App comes from Rethink Breast Cancer, a group that aims “to continuously pioneer cutting-edge breast cancer education, support and research that speak fearlessly to the unique needs of young (or youngish) women,” according to its website.

You’ll likely find many other breast cancer-related resources available for your smartphone.

In addition to pre-diagnosis apps, other tools provide smartphone-accessible resources for patients.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc. offers Beyond The Shock — a smartphone app featuring “a comprehensive online guide to understanding breast cancer.”

Also, there’s now a social media niche for those affected by breast cancer.

Occupying that niche? The BCSM Community, which fills “the intersection of breast cancer and social media,” according to its website. At the center of its efforts: a Twitter chat anchored by the group’s signature hashtag, “#BCSM.”

“Every Monday night we talk about breast cancer issues for an hour,” the community’s website explains.

Another online forum, MyBCTeam, has a similar appeal. Billed as “the social network for women facing breast cancer,” it provides “a social network to make it easier for women to connect with each other and exchange insights about providers,” according to its website.

There’s also P.INK, a portal on Pinterest that features photos of post-mastectomy tattoos, in addition to other images. “Please use these boards to investigate breast tattoos as a healing option,” the P.INK founders say.

For patients, relying on the forums might literally be therapeutic.

An August 2013 Reuters article cites study results suggesting “women with breast cancer who created a personal website about their health reported feeling less depressed, more positive and having a greater appreciation for life.”

The study was small, and focused on blogs rather than social media sites. But it reinforces the digital world’s possible benefits for breast cancer patients. Arguably, social media has also paved the way for a heightened openness toward discussing certain aspects of breast cancer.

Journalist Xeni Jardin live-tweeted her first mammogram and cancer diagnosis in 2011. Jardin, a founding partner and co-editor of Boing Boing, now tweets about breast cancer beside observations on topics ranging from a government shutdown to “Breaking Bad.”

Social media’s challenges

Discussions of medicine and social media inevitably raise questions about the credibility of information gained through personal technology.

Even the aforementioned BCSM Community cautions, “#BCSM is not a forum for medical advice. We strive to present evidence-based information about breast cancer. The experience of those participating on the chat are not endorsements.”

But on a deeper level, social media’s role in the breast cancer awareness movement has spurred some fears that activism might one day be confined to sitting in front of a computer.

Consider the rise of “slacktivism,” which describes “virtual activism with no real results,” according to an NPR reporter. The term entered conversations a few years ago when women posted their bra colors on Facebook in a supposed attempt to raise awareness for breast cancer.

“Despite apparent good intentions, the lighthearted tone of the message and the resulting ambiguity of the viral campaign rubbed some the wrong way,” according to an AOL News article.

It touches on a major issue surrounding social technology’s approach to breast cancer.

The virtual world might unite and comfort patients. But for the rest of us, it has potential to dangerously simplify complex health conversations. Are breast health lessons from a hot guy better than none at all? Is a pink ribbon profile photo on Facebook better than dismissing awareness efforts entirely?

The answer likely requires analysis deeper than an Internet message board.

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Facebook And Twitter May Yield Clues To Preventing The Spread Of Disease

Facebook And Twitter May Yield Clues To Preventing The Spread Of Disease | Social Media and Healthcare |

Facebook and Twitter could provide vital clues to control infectious diseases by using mathematical models to understand how we respond socially to biological contagions.

Cold and flu season prompts society to find ways to prevent the spread of disease though measures like vaccination all the way through to covering our mouths when we cough and staying in bed. These social responses are much more difficult to predict than the way biological contagion will evolve, but new methods are being developed to do just that.

Published this week in Science (Title: Contagion, Contagion, Manuscript Number: science.1244492), Chris Bauch, a Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Waterloo, and co-author Alison Galvani from Yale University, review social factors in epidemiology. They suggest that the biological spread of diseases is intertwined with how society responds to those contagions.

Social media and other data sources can be tapped for insights into how people will react when faced with a new disease control measure or the threat of infectious disease, said Professor Bauch. We can create models from this data that allows researchers to observe how social contagion networks interact with better-known biological contagion networks.

Researchers found that -- like disease -- ideas, sentiments and information can also be contagious. They looked at examples such as pediatric vaccine coverage, public health communications aimed at reducing the spread of infection and acceptance of quarantine during the SARS outbreak.

Predictive modelling isnt perfect, but it can help gauge how people will respond to disease control measures, said Professor Bauch, who works with epidemiologists and population health researchers. All sorts of variables can effect something as complex as the spread of disease. This is why its important to bring a variety of perspectives into play, not just the biological considerations.

Bauch will continue to study the intersection of theory and data in order to build better predictive models. Understanding how social contagion networks and biological contagion networks interact with one another can help public health officials prepare to save lives in the case of future disease outbreaks.

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Examples of Using Social Media for Medical Marketing

Examples of Using Social Media for Medical Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

Most practices understand that in today’s world incorporating medical social media into their healthcare marketing plan is a must. The challenging part is not identifying this demand, it’s figuring out how practices can tap into medical social media to reach business goals.

Take a look at the list of possible applications below to determine how best the social media world can work for your practice.

1.      Twitter as a play by play for procedures

It may sound a little risky but social media channels are now being used to broadcast operating rooms and live procedures as a way to create excitement and raise public awareness. The buzz can work to attract new patients as well as recruit medical personnel.

2.      Enhanced training for medical personnel

Using medical social media channels to complement training efforts has proven extremely effective. It gives trainees a forum to ask questions, quickly receive answers and request additional training if needed. Beyond that, it provides a unique medical marketing opportunity if practices share training sessions on sites such as YouTube or Slide Share.

3.      Garner more mainstream media attention

Recent reports suggest 70% of journalists use social networks to assist their reporting. As part of a medical marketing strategy, practices can use their blogs, forums etc. to spread the word on success stories or unique operations and treatments.

 4.      Keep the public up-to-date in times of crisis

When emergencies happen, healthcare providers play an integral role. Providers can use social media to give real-time updates and communicate with the masses.

5.      Steer patients away from misinformation

The amount of medical information available on the web while incredible, can in some cases lead patients to inaccurate material regarding their health. However, by providing accurate and timely information concerning symptoms, diseases, medications and procedures, physician websites can ensure their patients aren’t misinformed.

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Allowing Social Media in Hospitals.. A review

Allowing Social Media in Hospitals.. A review | Social Media and Healthcare |

Did you know that only 41% of health care professionals working in hospitals across the United States are allowed access to social media on work computers connected to the corporate network?

After we found that out, we knew that we had to delve deeper.

We followed up with those health care professionals (HCPs) who are allowed access to social media and asked them a few more questions.

The first question we asked was: “what do you consider to be the greatest benefits of allowing access to social media in your hospital?”

This group, comprised of 269 total HCPs spread across the country, includes: 19 Hospital Administrators, 194 physicians, 37 nurses and 21 nurse practitioners.

They answered:

  • 21% None / no benefit
  • 13% Staying up to date with information
  • 28% Better general communication and connectivity
  • 10% Better connection with patients
  • 7% Hospital marketing
  • 2% Wastes employee time / distracts from work (negative)
  • 13% Personal benefit / employee morale / respect for employees
  • 5% Unspecified / other professional benefit

These answers make it clear that HCPs view social media as a benefit for communication, connectivity, staying up to date with information and being connected with patients.

When asking this same group of HCPs, “what changes, if any, would you like to see made to your hospital’s social media policy, and why?”

They answered: 

59% None
14% Limit time and access areas
13% Block completely
8% More access
4% Block / allow certain sites
1% More specific rules on what can/cannot be posted

The resounding answer to this question was that the majority of HCPs polled (59%) would not like social media access changed in their hospital, 19% would like more policies in place with time limits and only select sites allowed, while only 13% support blocking Social Media completely, and 8% would like more access to social media.

We went on to ask, “if social media access were to be blocked at your hospital, how would that impact patient care?”

They replied:

  • 56% None
  • 3% Loss of important colleague communication
  • 8% Improved care
  • 2% Loss of hospital promotion
  • 8% Negative impact (unspecified)
  • 3% Negative impact on staff morale
  • 7% Limits access to information
  • 3% Improved care (less wasted time)
  • 1% Limits hospital marketability
  • 4% Patients annoyance / dissatisfaction
  • 4% Other


Although 56% of HCPs believe that blocking social media access would not impact patient care, a combined 32% believe that blocking access would negatively impact patient care and only 11% believe that blocking access would improve patient care.

These responses made us wonder what HCPs in hospitals that block social media access think, so naturally we followed up with them and asked similar questions. Stay tuned as we share their answers next week on the blog.

Julia & Eva's curator insight, November 29, 2013 6:25 PM

This is for social. 

Many hospitals in the united states are allowing people to use social media in hospitals.  Some people say that it's a problem. Others say it doesn't affect anything at all. Some people say that when they aren't allowed to  use social media they miss things. A lot of people have mixed feelings about it. 

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Healthcare Social Media: using word of mouse to build your practice

Healthcare Social Media: using word of mouse to build a practice by educating, engaging, and empowering patients. 

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Infographic: Healthcare in the Digital Era

Infographic: Healthcare in the Digital Era | Social Media and Healthcare |
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The Social Media Highway Code for Physicians from the Royal College of General Practitioners

The Social Media Highway Code is a practical and encouraging guide for doctors and other healthcare professionals who use social media and want to ensure they get the most out of their online communications, while ensuring they meet their professional obligations and protect their patients.

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8 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Gain Mileage for Your Practice

8 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Gain Mileage for Your Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |

LinkedIn is the social network for professionals, including healthcare professionals such as dermatologists. If you are keen to foster valuable professional relationships and connections through social media, LinkedIn is one of the best options available to you. The network has emerged as a formidable social media force, with more than 250 million members across the world. LinkedIn is forging ahead with a vision to create economic opportunity for the largest number of professionals in the world, and there is no reason for a dermatologist not to be a part of this vision. Here are a few important ways to leverage the power of LinkedIn to the advantage of your dermatology practice.

1. Create a Detailed LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn Profile is akin to the bio page that you may already have on your website. The difference here is that on LinkedIn your profile receives very high visibility, shows up more prominently in search results, and gets shared with a relevant and targeted audience. Spend dedicated time to build your LinkedIn profile in a detailed manner.

This is a professional network, unlike other social networks, where the profile will reflect on your professionalism. Include your academic qualifications, certifications, experience, areas of specialization, honors and recognitions, professional affiliations, and community work. As far as possible, each section of the profile must be completed in detail. Include all medical and cosmetic services and procedures that you offer.

2. Optimize your Profile for LinkedIn Search

LinkedIn has an internal search mechanism that lets your profile be known to others who may be searching for a dermatologist. An enriched and comprehensive profile is likely to rank higher in the search results. Include relevant keywords that people from the medical community, associates and influencers, and potential patients are likely to search for in the LinkedIn search bar.

On LinkedIn it may not be necessary to include many long-tail keywords such as ‘medical and cosmetic dermatology practice in New York City, NY.’ Such keywords are more suited for a website search, but on LinkedIn search, an individual is more likely to search for ‘NYC dermatologist.’ Therefore, optimize your LinkedIn profile keywords carefully.

3. Size Matters: Multiply Your Network

Engage actively on LinkedIn to multiply the size and reach of your network. Search for relevant peers, associates, influencers, and potential clients on LinkedIn and send them invites to join your network. Do not hesitate from promoting your network and sending out invitations to others who share common interests to join in.

The larger the size of your network, the greater its visibility in LinkedIn search results. This will effectively help expand the network further. Apart from first tier direct relationships, even second and third tier connections matter on LinkedIn in the long run.

4. Enhance Reputation with LinkedIn Endorsements

LinkedIn has a unique system of allowing network members to ‘endorse’ other members within the network for special skills, experience or achievements. It is a great way for a dermatologist to build referrals and consolidate his or her online reputation and credibility.

A high number of endorsements for a professional immediately improves the perception about his or her status and credibility in the eyes of others. A strong online reputation can go a long way to help a dermatologist establish thought leadership in their area of expertise. Endorsements of other deserving members should also be made out liberally.

5. Participate Actively in Specialized LinkedIn Groups

Joining and actively engaging in relevant LinkedIn groups can be an excellent way to boost overall network activity. It can help expand the size of the dermatologist’s network, and also improve chances of higher rankings in LinkedIn search results. It is easy to find the right kind of groups to join using relevant keywords to search through the network.

Apart from groups related to dermatology, it is a good idea to involve with groups that are likely to include potential patients from the local area. However, group engagements should not be used for blatant self-promotion, but to build relationships and reputation. Meaningful contribution to the group and dissemination of unique and useful information in the dermatologist’s area of expertise can go a long way to promote credibility and reputation.

6. Analyze the LinkedIn Insights

LinkedIn provides valuable insights about your profile by keeping a track of the network members who may have shown interest in it. LinkedIn knows the moment someone views your profile, and unlike Facebook, it shares that useful information with you.

Paid LinkedIn services allow for more detailed analytics to let you have the power of information about your potential clients, peers, and competitors. Even as a non-paid member, you will be able to use LinkedIn’s “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature. You can continually fine-tune your profile on the basis of your target viewership vis-à-vis actual viewership.

7. Be Resourceful to Others on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a place for relationship building, and not a place for hard selling your services. Therefore, do not let yourself be perceived as someone whose only goal is to seek customers or receive favors from others. On the contrary, your image on LinkedIn should come across as that of a helpful, useful, and resourceful professional who is willing to reach out to others, help them with sound advice, and empathize and connect with them at a personalized level.

If you have valuable information or specialized knowledge in an area of concern, share it with others within the network. If people perceive you as a resourceful person, the subtle long-term gains for your practice can be significant. Using LinkedIn for blatant self-promoting or advertising can be seriously counter-productive. Avoid that temptation and focus on leveraging the network to create an excellent PR for your practice.

8. Encourage your Staff to Us e LinkedIn

You can multiply your networking efforts on LinkedIn with the help of your staff who can also engage actively on the network. This can be a very simple but highly effective way to proliferate the networking base of your dermatology practice. Each staff member can create his or her own LinkedIn profile and develop direct and indirect connections and join relevant groups.

When you and the employees connect with each other, it creates an opportunity to leverage a much larger number of first-, second-, and third-tier connections who would include potential clients from your local area. Staff networking on LinkedIn also becomes an interesting way to stay in touch, stay motivated, and appreciate and recognize each other’s skills and achievements on the network.

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Pharma At The Social Media Tipping Point

Pharma At The Social Media Tipping Point | Social Media and Healthcare |

The Pharma industry has been engaging with social media for several years now, but we’ve become far too accustomed to seeing Facebook pages that have been closed down, You Tube channels with comments disabled, and twitter feeds with only 20 followers and a ‘last post’ made over a month ago.

Social media is all about open, transparent, fast-moving debate and information sharing. The reason Pharma has struggled to engage in a meaningful way is because, next to financial services, it is one of the most regulated industries and this, to some extent, has stifled innovation to date within its use of the social space.

However, change is in the air.  To quote Steve Jobs the biggest innovation of the 21stCentury will be the intersection of healthcare and technology. Health has become the number 1 reason people go online to conduct a Google Search and 23% of patients seek out similar people living with similar conditions to support and share information with each other. Even consumer brands are converging into the health space, just look at Nike who now sell wearable technology that plots your running fitness levels through Nike+ and allows you to share that data with your friends. Nike is no longer just a sports brand, it’s selling health.

So healthcare finds itself at an exciting tipping point and the very regulations that have made the Pharma industry slow to adopt social media in the first place have forced us to innovate and find new ways of using Social Media. For example, crowdsourcing initiatives are revolutionising drug development and drug discovery by involving communities to solve problems, such as Merck’s Molecular Activity Challenge and Sanofi’s Diabetes Innovation Challenge. In fact, Sanofi reported that, “offering a $100,000 prize has yielded ideas in six months that would have taken four to five years to develop at ten times the cost.” Pharma is also becoming increasingly adept to Big Data initiatives, and for good reason.

The possibility of capturing and making use of information about each customer, communication and business function is both overwhelming and exciting. This has already been put to use in social spaces through mapping twitter conversations around specific health topics to understand more about the most influential tweeters, not just those with the most number of followers but those who take an active and passionate interest in a topic. Identifying genuine digital thought leaders, not just Stephen Fry.

In summary, our call to action from our healthcare Social Media Week event is that we have been talking about Pharma ‘doing social badly’ for too long and in fact this is a hugely exciting time for the healthcare industry. We are at a tipping point of seeing some really ground-breaking work in social spaces and we need to continue to drive this innovation so that it becomes much more commonplace. The social revolution has well and truly begun.

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Healthcare Marketing 2014: 10 Reasons to Demand Digital

Healthcare Marketing 2014: 10 Reasons to Demand Digital | Social Media and Healthcare |

If you are responsible for leading the development and execution of a healthcare marketing strategy for 2014, you should know how to allocate resources to the channels that will provide the most ROI.

Sure, you could just focus your resources on the same channels as last year, but looking backwards can be a trap. Your boss isn’t looking for you to make an exact copy of last year’s strategy, even if it worked. As the leader of your company’s marketing initiatives, you’re expected to do more than keep the status quo; you’re expected to implement strategies so the company can do better. You need to understand current market dynamics and see around the corner so that the strategies you implement will be effective for the entirety of the next year.

In the past year we have seen an increasing dependence on digital platforms for health information, decision-making, and collaboration. Digital is the way we connect and learn today.  If you want to have an influence on the consumer’s decision-making process, you have to be where decisions are being made. If digital is big now, it’s only going to become a more important channel throughout the next year. This means you need to plan to have even more of a focus on digital for your healthcare marketing strategy if you want to keep up. You need to be forward thinking. You simply can’t afford to miss out on the opportunity digital provides when time and money are scarce.

With big changes to the healthcare ecosystem coming up, companies will be pressed to find the most economical ways to connect with patients. The industry is changing fast, so don’t get stuck being complacent. If you don’t have a strong digital strategy, where do you think you will be in six months when your boss asks why marketing isn’t driving more sales?

1. Americans are using the internet when they have health concerns.

  • 1 in 3 American adults have gone online to figure out a medical condition
  • 72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year

(Source: Pew Internet)

2. Healthcare marketing today needs both offline and online strategies.

  • 84% of patients use both online and offline sources for research
  • 77% of patients use search engines
  • 76% of patients use hospital sites
  • 52% of patients health information sites

(Source: Google Think)

3. Offline shouldn’t be ignored, but it’s far less important than digital mediums. This should be factored in when budgeting and planning healthcare marketing strategies. Resist the temptation to rely on old, traditional tactics that are less effective just because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

  • 32% of patients use TV for research
  • 20% of patients use magazines for research
  • 18% of patients use newspapers for research

(Source: Google Think)

4. Search will continue to play an important role in the decision-making process. Healthcare marketing execs need to develop a strategy so the company and its products and services can be found using search. This means you need a strong website, a social and content strategy, and SEO.

  • 77% of online health seekers say they began their last session at a search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo
  • Another 13% say they began at a site that specializes in health information, like WebMD
  • The most commonly-researched topics are specific diseases or conditions; treatments or procedures; and doctors or other health professionals

(Source: Pew Internet)

5. Consumers are becoming more involved in managing their own health, especially using health tracking. Healthcare marketing needs to address proactive patients who are engaged in actively monitoring and promoting their health.

  • 7 in 10 U.S. adults have tracked a health indicator for themselves or for someone else
  • Of those, 34% share their health tracking records or notes with another person or group

(Source: Pew Internet)

6. Consumers are increasingly using mobile to access information. Websites absolutely must be mobile friendly and able to be viewed well in multiple kinds of devices.

  • Of patients who found hospitals on their mobile devices, 44% scheduled an appointment
  • Roughly 1/3 of patients used tablets or mobile devices on a daily basis for research and/or to book appointments

(Source: Google Think)

7. Mobile is used everywhere. Healthcare marketers need to take this into consideration when creating websites and digital content. Pay careful attention to where the patient is in the decision-making process, and serve the appropriate content that serves that need.

  • 61% while at home
  • 27% at work
  • 23% while visiting friends or family at home
  • 20% while out of town
  • 16% while in a doctor’s office

(Source: Google Think)

8. Brand is important to prospective patients.

  • Reputation of facility 94%
  • Accepts healthcare plan 90%
  • Recommended by physician 86%
  • Uses latest technology 85%
  • Recommended by friends and family 51%

(Source: Google Think)

9. For patients who booked appointments, digital content is key to decision-making.

  • 77% of patients used search prior to booking an appointment
  • 83% used hospital sites
  • 54% used health insurance company sites
  • 50% used health information sites
  • 26% used consumer generated reviews

(Source: Google Think)

10. Online video is important.

1 in 8 patients watched an online video on:

  • Hospital sites 42%
  • Health insurance information sites 31%
  • Health information sites 30%
  • YouTube 29%
  • Health insurance company sites 20%

53% of patients who didn’t watch hospital videos were unaware they existed.

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11 health care social media stats to turn heads

11 health care social media stats to turn heads | Social Media and Healthcare |

Nowadays, social media is usually included in our hospital, clinic and/or physician marketing and public relations campaigns. I compiled a list of recent statistics that still validates why we all need to embrace social media technology and seek out opportunities to use it effectively.

  1. Twenty-eight percent of people who use social media for personal reasons support a health-related cause using social media.
  2. Mayo Clinic’s podcast listeners jumped to 76,000 in one month after the clinic started using social media.
  3. Sixty percent of people who use social media trust posts by their doctors. 55% trust hospital posts.
  4. Eighty-seven percent of doctors use social media for personal reasons. 67% of those doctors use social media for professional use.
  5. Only 15% of hospitals hire a full time social media manager. 6% assign an intern.
  6. Patients are most likely to share information about their health using social media with doctors and hospitals more than other groups or people.
  7. Of more than 1,500 hospitals nationwide who have an online presence, Facebook is most popular.
  8. Eighty-eight percent of physicians use the Internet to research pharmaceutical, biotech and medical devices.
  9. California, Texas and New York hospitals use social media the most of any other state.
  10. Massachusetts General Hospital’s emergency department researchers worked to create iPhone app EMNet finder, directing users to the closest ER anywhere in the U.S.
  11. During the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Scott & White Healthcareemployees offered constant updates on ER access, hospital status, Red Cross news and more. S&W’s rank of Twitter followers increased by 78%.

New statistics fly across our desks and smartphones every day, what statistics catch your attention? Please share in the comments section below.

eMedToday's curator insight, October 2, 2013 8:00 PM

interesting facts

Allison Emma Schizkoske's curator insight, October 9, 2013 8:00 PM

this is interesting to see the stats and see what precent of people do trust thier doctors post online. This is some really interesting numbers. 

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Social Media and Patient Self-Care

Social Media and Patient Self-Care | Social Media and Healthcare |
As more and more people use social media, ways to connect with others increase as well. One such use in recent years has been an increase in patients looking to social media for help in self-care. To see what role social media plays in this, we first have to look at what self-care means. A quick search for the term brings over 500,000 results.

Self care definition

While traditionally, this means taking time to relax and regroup (with my personal favorite way being to get a massage), joining an in-person support group, or even just going to regular doctor visits. Patients have now discovered social media as a very useful tool for them and their families.

What are some ways social media is being used for self-care?

Online Forums – Online forums have been around since the early 1970s in the form of online bulletin boards and electronic mailing lists. These have evolved over the years to very theme/topic specific forums. This gives groups of various sizes a chance to connect and exchange tips and tricks on how to deal with symptoms, find the best doctors for specific illnesses, and to simply connect with people who have the same diagnosis.

Facebook groups and pages – Facebook has also proven itself as a great way to connect. WEGO Health is one such place that connects people with various diagnoses with peer and professional support, as well as providing them with a large source of information gathered from across the Internet.Tweet Chats – Thanks to the use of hashtags, Twitter has become popular for various groups to connect for weekly Tweet Chats. Based on a pre-arranged hashtag, patients and health activists can chat about various issues. One such longstanding chat is the weekly #PPDChat, which connects moms and dads dealing with PPD (Post Partum Depression) and PPMD (Post Partum Mood Disorder).

Personal Blogs – The list of people sharing their own personal stories continues to grow as people reach out to help others dealing with similar situations. These bloggers often build a strong support system for each other to lean on and to help people new to whatever they are going through. The topics covered range from parents with children diagnosed with various illnesses, to patients blogging about their own struggle with diabetes, cancer or eating disorders.

How does this translate to self-care? Thanks to the often-strong connections, forged due to shared experiences, these patients and caretakers have turned into health activists by reaching out to a larger community. This allows them and others to continue to improve their own health by having access to a larger pool of information than they normally would without the use of social media. It helps patients find new ways to take care of themselves and discover additional methods of tracking and maintaining their health.

All of these are valuable tools in a large self-care arsenal needed to combat often-difficult situations and illnesses. For patients and caregivers located in remote locations and removed from more traditional methods, it is at times one of the few ways, sometimes the only way, to improve personal health maintenance.
Helene Wild's curator insight, October 2, 2013 4:06 AM

who owns your health?

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Social Media in mHealth Means More than Just Marketing

Social Media in mHealth Means More than Just Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

Ask the tough questions

You’ll need to take a hard look at your company’s interactions with its customers and clients, says Philip, and determine if it’s inviting customers to share and engage in feedback. If not, you are merely playing at being a part of the social media conversation and not an active participant. Philip is on target when he says companies need to listen to the online community in order to understand what the customers are saying.

Focus on content
Content is another term that we’re seeing everywhere. And there is a reason for this saying; “Content is King.” These days, according to Philip, compelling and valuable content enables consumers to be spokespeople and promoters of your company’s brand in a way that traditional advertising cannot accomplish. He stresses the point that social media provides an immediate way to engage your audience, and they, in turn, can promote your content to even more potential customers.

Listen to, follow, and integrate feedback
This advice reiterates Philip’s first tip, which is to really listen to your customers’ feedback and use it to guide your company’s future plans. Using social media correctly can make your company’s brand stand out and help foster great customer relations in the process.

Today, every business should be using social media to listen to its customers, get feedback and re-evaluate traditional marketing campaigns. Your challenge, especially in the mHealth industry, is to shift your focus from an old school philosophy to a proactive, engaged, online corporate mentality … so you can stay on top of the wave, not behind it.

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Listening and Learning: 5 Best Twitter Practices for Hospital Executives

Listening and Learning: 5 Best Twitter Practices for Hospital Executives | Social Media and Healthcare |

When Paul Levy first heard about Twitter, he dismissed it as "silly."

"I ignored it," recalls Mr. Levy, former CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "Why would anyone want to do this, and who would read it?"

His skepticism about the social media site didn't last long, however. Scott Hensley — a current NPR writer and editor who was then working for The Wall Street Journal  — persuaded Mr. Levy to give tweeting a try. Today, the former hospital executive has more than 9,000 followers and sends out healthcare-related tweets several times a day.

During and after his days as a hospital executive, he says Twitter has not only proved to be a fun and informative mode of communication but also a platform for improving Beth Israel's public image as an institution invested in transparency.

Mr. Levy isn't the only one who's used Twitter to revolutionize community connection and the healthcare conversation as a hospital executive. Industry leaders from all corners of the country have joined the social network to share healthcare news, trends and tips. 

"It's an opportunity to educate and offer thought leadership in a typically overwhelming space," says Stephanie Hollingsworth, one of Twitter's senior digital strategists specializing in healthcare. "It's a wide range of audience that allows for that open channel of influence."

Mr. Levy, Ms. Hollingsworth and other social media strategists seem to agree hospital leaders have a lot to gain by opening a Twitter account. Of course, it helps to have some guidance before diving into the network’s fast-paced exchange of bite-sized information. Strategists and executives already on the site have some advice to offer concerning best practices for healthcare leader tweeters.

1.       Consult with your public relations department — but not too much.

As high-profile people with access to plenty of sensitive information, it's important for hospital executives to watch what they say, especially on Twitter, says former hospital COO Christina Thielst, currently vice president at patient experience consulting group Tower and author of "Social Media in Healthcare: Connect, Communicate, and Collaborate."

"Think about what you're saying before you tweet it," Ms. Thielst says. "Really give some thought to what you say and how you're saying it."

Never use profanity or ad hominem attacks, and never break patient privacy rules, Mr. Levy says. On top of that, Twitter users must understand attempting humor is a risky business online. "It's like telling a joke in a foreign language," he says. "You really have to understand that it's a culturally different forum."

Generally, hospital executives already have a good feel for what to say and what not to say in a public forum like Twitter, says Barbara O'Connell, president of Enovasis, an Internet marketing, social media marketing and PR company. "Rely on your own common sense and trust that you are already trained to speak intelligently and carefully," she says.

However, if executives have concerns about privacy or sensitive information and want to double check their own common sense, Ms. O'Connell says they should run the potential tweet by the hospital's public relations or legal department.

Ms. Hollingsworth says consulting internally with the hospital's PR team is important. Executives need to make sure they know what their institution is comfortable sharing.

Still, Ms. Hollingsworth and Ms. O'Connell agree every tweet shouldn't get sent to the PR people. It will cause a lag in the process of sending tweets, a disadvantage when using a platform as instantaneous as Twitter. "You don't want to do that every day," Ms. O'Connell says. "Twitter is real time."

Mr. Levy advises against letting the PR or legal department ghostwrite Tweets. "Never let your PR department write it for you," he says. "It has to be in your own voice."

2.       Use Twitter as a learning and teaching tool.

By selectively following thought leaders in his field, Mr. Levy found a wealth of relevant, up-to-date information through Twitter. A considerable number of healthcare researchers and industry experts maintain feeds, and hospital executives can seek them out and turn Twitter into a channel for keeping up on the latest developments in the field. "Twitter actually made my day more efficient by acting, in essence, as a professional filter," Mr. Levy says about using the network to monitor healthcare news.

Executives can use the network to tune in to a variety of perspectives, Ms. O'Connell says. "They're learning from patients. They’re learning from peers," she says. "There are a lot of healthcare executives and policymakers on Twitter. To hear people's opinions as they're changing is a valuable learning tool."

In turn, executives should take advantage of Twitter's wide reach to share their hospital's discoveries and research, Ms. Hollingsworth says. "Hospitals can share the info they're discovering internally and continue to spread awareness and spread cures and research," she says. "It's something that's really important for institutions and executives to take part in."

Executives can also use Twitter to follow the discussion at conferences they aren't able to attend and to share tidbits of learning with others who aren't when they're attending. "Twitter has shortened the difference between those conferences by allowing that discovery in real time, anywhere across the country," Ms. Hollingsworth says. "Follow along to engage, to share your opinion, to share with your colleagues, to really influence and inform your community."

Mr. Levy regularly live-tweets conferences and says it helps him better absorb what he's hearing as well as inform his followers. "All the people who are following me can in essence participate in what's going on," he says. "People have told me they really appreciate that if they can't get to a conference."

3.       Be personable, but not too personal.

When calibrating the tone of tweets, executives should remember not to come off as too stiff or formal. The mandatory brevity of communication on Twitter means people have to loosen up a little, Mr. Levy reasons, saying, "I think it's really impossible to write 140 characters in anything other than an informal way."

Ms. O'Connell also advocates for lightening up a bit, with the audience in mind. "You're not talking to your board," she says. "You're talking to your neighbor. You're talking to your friends and your family."

Ms. Hollingsworth recommends being professional but relatable. "If you're talking to patients and caregivers and people in your community, speak in language that's simplified and understandable," she says.

While maintaining a casual tone, however, executives should avoid getting too casual with content, Ms. Thielst says. "I would definitely avoid mixing your personal and professional lives," she says. "You don't want to sort of gather this following of people from your community and then start tweeting out every time your son's basketball team wins a game. That's not why people are following you as the administrator of the hospital."

4.       Set your own goals and strategy.

Rather than venturing aimlessly out into the Twitterverse, healthcare leaders need to approach the communication channel with a concrete plan. "Create your own strategy," Ms. Thielst says. "What are you hoping to accomplish with Twitter? What are your expectations?"

Executives looking to set goals can use their hospital's annual objectives, Ms. O'Connell says. Goals pertaining to transparency, community outreach and PR could easily apply to Twitter. Executives could aim to increase traffic to their hospital's websites or to inspire more people to inquire online about appointments.

Achieving those objectives hinges on determining the target audience for tweets, Ms. Hollingsworth says. Depending on whether they target patients, peers or others, the language and content of their tweets could vary significantly. For example, an executive targeting patients might tweet tips for staying well during flu season, while someone talking to other industry leaders might send out links to whitepapers produced by hospital researchers.

5.       Listen carefully and respond to the conversation surrounding your hospital.

Consumers turn to Twitter more to share their experiences, Ms. Thielst says. "More and more people are turning to Twitter while they're sitting in your waiting room," she says. "They're sending out a tweet about what they like and don't like. Whether you like it or not, people are tweeting."

Hospital administrators and executives can improve the patient experience and the public perception of their hospital by engaging with that conversation and responding to tweets about their organizations, she says.

Executives who respond to concerns, complaints and praise on Twitter build up patients' trust and give the impression of transparency, openness and honesty, Ms. O'Connell says. "If you're not addressing questions or comments online, you're basically nonexistent to people," she says.

Conclusion: Twitter helps executives and hospital image 

By following these tips, hospital executives and the organizations they represent can benefit from being active on Twitter.  Mr. Levy feels his presence on Twitter — along with his blog — helped improve people's perception of Beth Israel when he was CEO. "Our hospital was known for being open, candid, transparent," he says. "The social media aspect was part of that."

Ms. Hollingsworth agrees paying attention to feedback from patients and community members is crucial for healthcare leaders. She points to the Cleveland Clinic as an example, saying that the institution's sharing healthcare tips and insight through social media helped change consumers' views of hospitals as "potentially an intimidating space."

"The most important part is just listening, being able to listen to the sentiment of what the conversation is surrounding your company," Ms. Hollingsworth says. "It's really important to care about what they say."

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Does Pharma get Social media?

Does Pharma get Social media? | Social Media and Healthcare |

It is the perennial question that bounces around those of us who work in the pharmaceutical industry. Can an industry as heavily regulated as pharma, and therefore inherently conservative in its external communication, ever really ‘get’ social media in the way that other sectors, like FMCG, do?

If you conduct a straw poll of those in pharma, you will get as many different answers as there are social media channels, ranging from the staunch opponents who cannot fathom how the industry can possibly engage in meaningful two-way conversation without significant risk of regulatory breach, through to the social media cheerleaders who see it as pivotal to its future.

But whilst the industry has certainly been slow to embrace social media, don’t write it off just yet – there are signs of progress. Recently, for example, German pharma giant Boehringer Ingelheim released a YouTube video to recognise and thank the 50,000 people who had liked its Facebook page.

Healthcare social business development expert, Andrew Spong, was dismissive in his analysis of the piece, seeing the presentation as clunky, the messaging overtly promotional and suggesting that recognising ‘likes’ fundamentally missed the point of social media, where success should  be measured on engagement.

US industry observer, John Mack, was a little warmer in his review, suggesting the volume of likes epitomised how far pharma has come with social media, even if the level of comment interaction is far lower, perhaps due to highly restrictive moderation rules.

The criticisms raised by both pieces cannot be dismissed. For sure, the video could have been a little slicker – it comes across as quite ‘corporate’ in its messaging, especially during the intro which is an advert for the Facebook page, and Allan Hillgrove, from Boehringer’s Board of Managing Directors, could be more settled in front of the camera.

However, for me there is a lot that is right about this piece too, in terms of what it says about Boehringer’s commitment to, and understanding of, social media:

  • Achieving 50,000 likes on Boehringer’s facebook page is noteworthy, particularly when you consider how it has been achieved. The company has been keen to step beyond corporate messaging and disease area communication, with initiatives such as photo competitions, which have seen considerable external engagement.
  • By commissioning this video, Boehringer is showing that it recognises that the success of social media depends on delivering value to these external users, not just pumping out corporate information. How many other pharma companies have taken the time to thank their followers in this way?
  • Involving senior management suggests that social media at Boehringer is not just the realm of the young innovators, but recognised as important at every level of the organisation.

There is also a much deeper aspect to this too; the notion that social media is still very much an experimental channel for many companies (even beyond pharma), where the only way to understand how to use it properly is by trying, failing, learning and trying again. Again, Boehringer seems unusually willing amongst its pharma counterparts to try more risky innovative digital approaches that may not deliver tangible results in the short-term, but will help develop its understanding of these channels. Take a look at its recent Facebook game, Syrum, for example.

For those of us with an interest in social media who sit outside big pharma corporations, it can be all too easy to criticise the industry for not being innovative enough, or moving with insufficient speed, in this space. But we must also remember the meaning of #failbetter – that imperfect initiatives still deliver valuable lessons and the only real failure is to try nothing new.

So Boehringer’s video may not have been perfect, but it shows the right intent and, more importantly, that at least some elements of the pharma industry do get the value of social media. Hopefully it will inspire other companies to focus more on recognising the value of those engaging with their channels.

After that, refining the presentation is the easy bit.

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Doctors now using social media as a means of continuing education

Doctors now using social media as a means of continuing education | Social Media and Healthcare |

The landscape of healthcare marketing has changed dramatically over the past decade, with a multitude of doctors and medical professionals turning to social media for myriad purposes. This is no surprise, as 72 percent of American adults use one form of social media, according to the Pew Internet & American Life project, but some doctors are leaning on platforms like Twitter as a means of providing continuing education to medical professionals all over the world.

According to InformationWeek, Mike Cadogan, Ph.D., an emergency medicine physician and digital media enthusiast from Australia, found himself frustrated by the lack of interest in social media by many professionals in his field, especially as a means of spreading knowledge. As a result, a new hashtag, #FOAMed, which stands for Free Open Access Meducation (medical education), was first proposed by Cadogan in a lecture at the 2012 International Conference on Emergency Medicine and has already taken Twitter by storm.

"I'd always seen blogging and podcasting as an amazing medium for medical education," Cadogan told the news source. "It's a way to get peopled on board with something they felt was very beneath them. We've actively managed to engage a large group of researches and significant academics who are moving away from writing textbooks and journal articles to doing more in the online arena."

With the immense importance of academic journals and other studies still playing an active role in the healthcare field, the open source and open content trends of the internet provided a great opening for medical professionals to access the newest information and apply it going forward. Cadogan's hope is that Twitter can not only be a great place for doctors to communicate, but it can also become a great research tool to improve communication and collaboration throughout the field.

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Professionalism in the time of social media: Do’s and don’ts for DOs

Professionalism in the time of social media: Do’s and don’ts for DOs | Social Media and Healthcare |

In a fit of frustration earlier this year, an obstetrician-gynecologist from St. Louis ranted about a patient on her Facebook page.

Before posting, physicians should ask themselves how their patients would feel if they saw the post, suggests Almari Ginory, DO.

“So I have a patient who has chosen to either no-show or be late (sometimes hours) for all of her prenatal visits, ultrasounds, and NSTs,” the post read. “She is now 3 hours late for her induction. May I show up late to her delivery?”

Several news organizations wrote about the posts, spurring an outcry and calls for the physician to lose her job.

“Is this what you want people to see when they’re googling you?” asked Almari Ginory, DO, during an OMED session Tuesday on professionalism and social networking. During her presentation, Dr. Ginory, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Florida in Gainesville, detailed both the appropriate and inappropriate ways physicians can use social media.

The ob-gyn’s angry Facebook post is an example of a common error physicians make when using personal social media sites—venting about patients. These diatribes can damage a physician’s reputation even if no specifics are mentioned, Dr. Ginory said. Before posting, physicians should ask themselves how their patients would feel if they saw the post, she suggested.

“You’re a doctor, first and foremost,” Dr. Ginory said. “Even on your personal page, you’re a doctor. Venting is self-serving. It’s not in the best interest of patients. It serves no educational value and it serves no real benefit except to get it off of your chest.”

Patients, not ‘friends’

Physicians may wonder how to respond when their patients send them friend requests. Dr. Ginory led a survey of 182 psychiatry residents last year that found that more than 95% of them had Facebook profiles and nearly 10% had received a friend request from a patient. Residents expressed concerns about the effects of rejecting such requests.

Dr. Ginory was clear that befriending patients over social media crosses a professional boundary and is discouraged. A patient ‘friend’ may begin asking questions about the physician’s private life based on information gleaned from Facebook.

Dr. Ginory suggested physicians hold off on acting on the request until they meet with the patient again. Then they can explain why they can’t accept it. Former patients are off-limits too, she noted.

“When I left Miami to go to Gainesville, one of the most common statements I heard was, ‘Oh, I’m not your patient anymore—we can be Facebook friends now,’ ” she said. “I told them, ‘Once a patient, always a patient.’ ”

While Dr. Ginory’s advice may sound like common sense, boundaries and appropriate conduct may not be so obvious to physicians who are new to social media. Dr. Ginory recommended that physicians read the social media guidelines published by the American Medical Association and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB). The AOA is currently developing social media guidelines for osteopathic physicians and students.

While physicians must exercise great care, social media can be a way for them to promote their practice and connect with patients, Dr. Ginory noted.

“If you want to use [social networking] for your practice, it’s free advertising,” she said. “You don’t have to pay for a Web page. You can open up a Facebook page and include your office information, office hours and address. And it’s free.”

But physicians must be careful not to give advice on social networking sites. For instance, a patient may post on a physician’s wall, “I might be suffering from ADHD. Does this problem have a treatment or cure?” If the physician responds, “Yes, it can be treated,” the exchange may be interpreted as the beginning of a clinical relationship.

To protect themselves, Dr. Ginory suggested physicians post a disclaimer on their professional social media pages to clarify that information posted is not necessarily the physician’s viewpoint and that no medical advice will be given on the page.

“Another thing experts always say is, put in the disclaimer that you don’t check the page regularly—so the site isn’t a place to be posting about suicidal ideations … or anything of the sort,” she said. “This will help protect you a little bit.”

Attendee Linda F. Delo, DO, already had a disclaimer on the Facebook page for her Port St. Lucie, Fla., practice. But Dr. Ginory’s presentation inspired her to to take another precaution.

“I just sent an email to my office manager to make sure that we have a policy in our employee manual regarding our staff and Facebook and other social media,” she said. “We need to protect ourselves so that we are not liable for something the staff says or does and to be sure that they know they have to continue to protect our patients’ privacy.”

Michael Brown, DO, said he hoped the presentation didn’t scare anyone away from using social media.

“My clinic and my health system have used [social media] very successfully and it has become a great tool,” Dr. Brown, a family physician from Kansas City, Mo., told the audience. “This was excellent information on how to behave appropriately on Facebook. But please don’t walk away scared of using this. Your patients are growing up in this environment and this is how they communicate. This is the future. So learn how to use [social media] appropriately because there are great opportunities for you to connect with patients in very appropriate ways.”

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Medical Revolution: “Social media is just New Age word of mouth.”

Medical Revolution: “Social media is just New Age word of mouth.” | Social Media and Healthcare |

It used to be that when you got sick, you made an appointment with your doctor, waited a few days – sometimes six weeks or longer, depending on your complaint – and after a 10-minute consultation during which the doctor did most of the talking, you obediently complied with whatever orders had been directed your way. 

That’s so  early 2000s.

Now doctors and patients are collaborating to create the best healthcare experience possible, as explained by a host of speakers presenting at Stanford’s MedicineX Conference this past weekend. Panelists agreed that today’s so-called “e-patient” – which can be translated as empowered patient, engaged patient or electronic patient – can provide the passion, day-to-day communication, community and love needed to make the difference between surviving with a chronic illness and thriving with one.

“My life is now a before and after, and social media is the dividing line in that life,” said Emily Bradley, who at 17 was diagnosed with a rare form of juvenile-onset rheumatoid arthritis called Still’s Disease. Now 21, she is the founder of Chronic Curve, an online discussion group for young adults suffering chronic illness and pain. Through chat groups, Twitter, Facebook and additional social media Bradley has discovered promising new data about her illness and has found others who can empathize with her experiences.

Fellow panelist Jody Schoger, a breast cancer survivor and moderator of #BCSM (breast cancer social media), likened the support of patient networks to that of dolphins and whales working together. “If one of them is wounded or suffering, the others come up and carry him or her along,” she said. “We think of ourselves as the message bearers to the next person diagnosed with the disease.”

Erin Moore, mother of a young boy with cystic fibrosis, said the collaboration within a disease community can save lives. Too often, she said, she has discovered vital information outside the medical clinic. “Social media,” she said, “is just New Age word of mouth.”

The medical community is taking note of the efforts of this new, connected patient. Cardiac surgeon Marc Katz of Richmond, Virginia, has begun to ask every patient prior to ending a visit: “Did I get it?” It’s a question that can be mined deeply for empathy, he said. “I’ve learned about the bravery and courage it takes to a be a patient facing a serious illness,” he said. “It is the patient who suffers the consequences of whatever decision the physician makes.”

Getting patients and doctors to collaborate in healthcare is not a new topic for the annual Medicine X conference, but there’s a growing interest in “the quantified self”. Michael Seid, founder of C3N, the Collaborative Chronic Care Network, told the story of his adult daughter diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. To identify which parts of her diet caused a flare up of the disease, Seid’s daughter began photographing everything she ate, recording how she felt before and after eating it. The family ultimately figured out which foods she should enjoy, and life improved tremendously.

Seid posed the question of whether it’d be better than instead of doing the sleuthing themselves, his family could have integrated her data into a form that could be presented easily to her doctor for his advice? As self-monitoring devices such as the FitBit and iPhone applications for measuring activity become more prevalent, that data will become increasingly critical. In fact, he said, it will become irresponsible not to distill and analyze the data to guide healthcare decisions.

Enter MediApp, the brainchild of Sara Riggare, a Swedish engineer living with Parkinson’s Disease. Riggare calls her software a “self-care system,” designed to allow her to enter data as she moves through her day. Before she takes a dose of medication, she does a 30-second finger-tapping exercise on her smartphone’s screen to provide a baseline measurement. Then a few minutes after taking the medication she taps again, measuring the drug’s effectiveness. Because Parkinson’s is so complex, Riggare said, she wears heart rate variability and activity trackers. “I become more active when I wear them because I remember that I need to move more every day,” she said.

Such self-analysis, referred to as a “clinical study of one,” is often is dismissed by the medical establishment. Yet there are valuable insights that could be used to advance medical treatments.

That’s where PCORI, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, has been stepping in. Created under a provision of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the institute grants funding to research projects that place the patient as an individual at the center of the healthcare network. Since its inception, the organization has approved 197 research projects and committed $273.5 million to them. And by the end of 2013 more than $400 million will have been distributed.

One of the groups benefiting from these grants is the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, which has put together a team of four doctors, four patients and four members of the support staff to determine what data will work best to improve the healthcare experience.

Samuel Gordon, who has inoperable pancreatic cancer, is on that team. “Being a patient, what do I know?” he asked the hushed audience. “For starters, I know everything.” Pain, he said, is the biggest problem with pancreatic cancer, yet the oncologist heading up his care team has no idea how to manage his pain.

Emily Kramer-Golinkoff, 28, has cystic fibrosis. Recently, when she had a particularly acute round of symptoms, most of her medical care team was out of town at, ironically, a cystic fibrosis conference. Even though they were 3,000 miles away, they stayed on top of every change in her symptoms. “I’m the living, breathing example of participatory medicine,” she told the audience. “Not all stories in medicine can have happy endings. But it’s not the ending that makes a story a success. Why don’t we change the goal from ‘happily ever after’ to ‘we’re a force when we work together.’”

Rawwad's curator insight, October 2, 2014 5:29 AM

This is just true when word-of-mouth melt into social media to give the maximum benefits.

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Social Media Professionalism in the Medical Community

ACOG's Junior Fellows present a fun, yet informative take on using social media platforms professionally, respectfully, and appropriately. For more info on s...
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Do pictures of people increase Facebook engagement?

Do pictures of people increase Facebook engagement? | Social Media and Healthcare |
A research project examined images featuring people, no people, and portions of people. The results will probably surprise you.

Marketers often spend hours selecting and producing visual content to post on Facebook brand pages.

Creatives, strategists, and managers can go around and around debating which images work for a brand and which don't. Sometimes they debate over whether the brand should show people in brand images, and everyone has an opinion.

Key takeaways for visual content marketing on Facebook

Here are some of the key findings that will help marketers in creating a solid visual content marketing strategy for Facebook:

1. Across all brands we saw that images without people outperformed images with people by about 17 percent.

In retail, we see some even larger differences in engagement between images with and without people, ranging from +41 percent for Old Navy to +113 percent at Kohl's. These findings suggest that users prefer to see pictures of retail products without people, making it easier for them to visualize wearing or having an advertised product.

2. Causal images that show partial body like hands and feet are associated with higher Facebook likes. 

However, images without people or body parts entirely earned more shares. If you're social strategy prioritizes earning shares, keeping people out of the images may improve your likelihood of earning shares on Facebook.

3. This takeaway may seem contradictory to one and two. 

However, if your retail brand has a unique brand asset comprised of people, such as the notable models at Victoria's Secret and A&F, then the images of people may indeed help boost engagement.

The overarching takeaway is that brands need visual content strategies that take into account unique brand identity, objectives, and audience.

nrip's insight:

As per my observation, Pictures in general tend to increase engagement in postings on social networks. 

Linda Evans's curator insight, October 4, 2013 3:17 AM

Do pictures of people increase Facebook engagement? 

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Infographic: Social Media explained with healthcare

Infographic: Social Media explained with healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |
It’s Friday, we’re all winding down for the weekend, so I thought I’d share this fun infographic with you - ‘Social media explained with healthcare’
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How healthcare marketers can get more from social media

How healthcare marketers can get more from social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Research indicates that social media plays an important role in the healthcare industry, with nearly 58% of patients/consumers engaging in “health-related discussions” on social networks at least once per year.

And yet, for many healthcare brands, social media is often a last-minute addition to a marketing plan – not an integral part of the marketing mix. For these brands, success in social media often means merely getting more Facebook likes or Twitter followers. And some only consider setting up a social-media page because the competition has one. What these brands fail to realize is that this approach won’t help you build a loyal following. In fact, when your social media is without a strategy, your audience becomes a group of people who don’t actually care about your brand.

How to make social media efforts pay off

Here are four simple approaches that can help you achieve stronger results from your social media efforts:

  1. Set measurable objectives: (Hint: “I need a Facebook page” is not an objective.) Start by taking a step back and asking why you need social media. Why do you want a Facebook page in the first place? If your objective is simply to out-do the competition then something is wrong. Strong, measurable objectives – such as building awareness, loyalty and advocacy – are what you need to support an effective social media strategy.
  2. Be relevant: The easiest way to lose followers and interest is by posting messages that do not connect with your audience. Many brands also run the risk of overselling and not bringing any value or information to their audience. Among ePharma consumers, the use of social media along the patient journey is highest when they are considering switching or stopping treatment. Consumers tend to triangulate their data – finding information on social media that spurs further conversations with more trusted people, such as doctors and family members.
  3. Stay connected: Show customers you care by responding frequently and considerately, and by the rewards you offer for loyalty and advocacy.  Many times social media acknowledgement and positive feedback goes a long way toward increasing advocacy and brand loyalty.
  4. Be professional: We have heard stories of healthcare professionals being disciplined for ill-advised social media posts containing private patient information. One instance involved a hospital employee in the U.S. who shared her opinion that a State governor had received preferential treatment during a checkup. The employee was suspended for violating patient confidentiality. Perhaps the biggest quandary for many healthcare providers is whether to accept Facebook friend requests from patients. It becomes a challenge here to use social media to strengthen the provider-patient relationship while maintaining appropriate professional boundaries.

Social media is a powerful tool. Having a well-thought out strategy in place will help your brand make the most of it.

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Social media and health information - trends to data

Social media and health information - trends to data | Social Media and Healthcare |

Wake up in the morning, brush your teeth, get dressed, eat your breakfast, update Facebook and Twitter and start your day. Sound familiar?

With more and more people using social media to interact with friends, families and on a professional basis, it’s creating a mass platform for health communication. But is this a positive thing or should we be wary of its limitations?

What are the benefits?

One of the major benefits of social media, compared to traditional communication methods, is the ability to deliver information to people, regardless of age, education and locality. All you need is a smartphone or access to a computer. This can really help you to become more aware of your health and access the information that’s right for you.

Have you ever created a status update or tweet to let your followers and friends know that you have a headache or sore throat? Social media allows you to generate instant peer-to-peer discussions. You can receive tips and advice from individuals and health professionals who may have experience of what you’re going through. Personal stories can be a valuable source of peer, social and emotional support.

While you’re having these conversations, it also gives healthcare organisations an opportunity to personalise and present their health messages at a time when you really need it. And the versatility of different social media platforms means that health information can be presented in a way that suits the person that needs it. For example, a video on YouTube may help someone if their reading ability is low.

And if you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes, the power of social media platforms can be very liberating. You may be able to receive ongoing support and reminders about taking medication, as well as share information about your treatments and medicines. This can inform, educate and empower you to be more confident if and when you need to make decisions about your health.

As well as helping you to share information, social media can potentially be used to collect data to help doctors understand how infectious diseases start and spread. For example, lots of people in your neighbourhood may post about feeling ill. That information can be quickly gathered to tell health professionals an outbreak is occurring and how quickly it’s spreading. This means that effective interventions can be put in place as soon as possible.

What do we need to watch out for?

So far, this all sounds great but before you reach for your smartphone, let’s balance things up and consider some of the issues that are currently limiting the use of social media for delivering health information.

Have you ever looked up symptoms for yourself, a friend or family member? How do you know that the information you’re looking at is accurate and up to date? When talking about health information, it’s vital that the messages you’re receiving are of the highest quality. Social media is informal, unregulated and allows anyone to upload information, regardless of its quality. This means that you could find yourself being overloaded with information, some of which may be conflicting and confusing, or quite simply wrong.

Some people will feel perfectly comfortable sharing information about their health online. However, not everyone will realise the potential for how many people will see their information. They may not realise that what they are posting is a permanent record that lots of people can see. If you don’t like sharing personal information, social media may not be the right place to seek out and share information about yourself.

Disclosing personal information online comes with a whole host of issues. Privacy, confidentiality and the potential for security breaches are concerns for many people. It can be difficult for your doctor to communicate with you through social media. This is because conversations between you and your doctor that happen on social media channels will have is no official medical record.

So, where do you stand? The world we live in today is technology driven and it looks like social media is here to stay. Should we embrace it when it comes to accessing health information or is it better to be sceptical and proceed with caution? Whatever you do, be sure not to replace seeing your doctor with social media or self diagnosis using online platforms if you suspect something isn’t quite right. Online health information has its place, but direct doctor to patient interaction should never be underestimated.

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