Social Media and Healthcare
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Social Media and Healthcare
Articles and Discussions on the intersection of Social Media and Healthcare.
Relevant to Healthcare Practitioners, Pharma', Insurance, Clinicians, Labs, Health IT Vendors, Health Marketeers, Health Policy Makers, Hospital Administrators.
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Physicians and Social Media - Pointers for a better start!

Physicians and Social Media - Pointers for a better start! | Social Media and Healthcare |

Is social media a time suck or a useful way to attract new patients?  Physicians regularly debate this and in lieu of the HIPAA guidelines that went into full effect this week people are unsure about what’s safe to post and how to use social media effectively for business.

But a study conducted by the American Medical Association said that nearly 25% of patients report using social media to manage their health care.  That number seems to be growing as more patients use technology to discuss and manage their health care.

Here are some guidelines that require minimal time with maximal benefit.

Pick no more than two platforms.  Pick one or two social networks that appeal to you the most.  Generally, the ones that offer the best return are Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Spend a few minutes sprucing up your presence.  Upload an avatar picture, add a background image, make sure they reflect the image you project to your patients.  A headshot is always more appealing to the consumer than a logo.

Use social media for listening.  By following certain accounts you can keep a tab on things such as …

  • Community goings-on: stay in touch with what’s happening in your geographic area.
  • Research entities: tracking JAMA or NIH will keep you up to date with the latest news and research.
  • Local medical and business news: follow prominent doctors in your area and/or hospitals and medical practice to see what your peers are doing.
  • Track your reputation online:  More patients have access to rate-your-doctor sites and you should know what they’re saying about your practice.

Become a thought leader.  Share information with your audience that is useful to them.  One physician said, “I’ve had many new patients tell me they selected my practice because they saw our Facebook page and thought we seemed very “progressive.”’

Give your patients practice updates.  Letting them know the flu vaccines are in, who is on call for the weekend, or that office hours have changed.  It’s a way for you to share information with your patients that’s easy for them to check.

Develop a network of physicians. Discover colleagues inside and outside of your regional circles.  You could develop a referral network, share research and even connect socially “in real life” both in your community and at conferences.

Staying on the right side of HIPAA

If you do decide to bring your practice onto social media you’ll have to follow HIPAA guidelines.  Have an office policy about what is and isn’t ok to discuss online with all your employees.  This should include private messaging of patient care for any social networks. This will keep your employees educated and give you some legal cover in case an incident ever crops up.

As one doctor put it, “All of my employees are on Facebook.  As am I.  Not once ever do they or we discuss patients on Facebook.  Trust me, when they’re out of the office, the last thing they want to do is discuss patients … They all know that office stuff and patient information on social media is completely off limits.  It is definitely a HIPAA violation, and inappropriate sharing of that information is grounds for dismissal.”

Energize Physician Advocacy

We can change policies if we advocate as a group.  From controversial issues such as the ACA to supporting non-profit organizations like Floating Doctors, physicians as a group accomplish amazing feats when we band together in the social web to amplify our voices.  Participating privately on Sermo and in public social media isn’t just about connecting; together, we affect healthcare for millions of people and get back to the basics of global healthcare delivery.

The Industry Agrees

A research article published last August in the Journal of the American Medical Association acknowledges that many physicians are discouraged from being on social media because of potential HIPAA issues and also to avoid having patients contact them through a public venue.

The researchers suggested incorporating social media training into medical education and professionalism curricula, otherwise “the potential benefits of social media will remain unrealized.”

Perhaps we’ll see CES curricula developed over the next few years that will assist physicians to appropriately and effectively be online.

How Much Time Does It Take

As with everything, the more you put in, the more you get back.  At a minimum, try to get online weekly for 10 to 20 minutes.  Here are some guidelines:

  • Minimum:  Ten minutes once per week to check your streams and post something useful to your patients.
  • Even Better:  Ten minutes once a day to read through your streams, interact with colleagues, read the latest research and interact appropriately with patients.
  • Optimal:  As above but ten minutes twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon/evening.

Give it a solid 30 days before you start to see good results, it will be within two weeks if you try the optimal level.  Have you tried using social media for your practice?  What were some of the pitfalls?  Did you have any successes?

TheSocialPhysio's curator insight, October 1, 2013 8:50 PM

25% of patients use #social media to manage their #healthcare?!!!

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Rules of social media: Master the metrics!

Rules of social media: Master the metrics! | Social Media and Healthcare |

Why do you use social media? According to most hospitals, the motivation is simple: Brand awareness and patient engagement, according to a survey conducted by the Advisory Board's Marketing and Planning Leadership Council.

However, as health systems face greater pressure regarding utilization appropriateness, readmissions penalties, and value-based payment incentives, their goals regarding social media are likely to expand to helping patients manage their health and control their costs through online connections.

As a result, hospitals must develop a methodology for measuring the effectiveness of their social media strategy. That's an ongoing task, according to Mayo Clinic's Lee Aase; his hospital measures patient engagement with qualitative "soft" metrics—YouTube video views, Facebook likes and followers, and Twitter posts and retweets—and hard metrics, including online traffic, page views, and unique visitors.

Case study: Mayo Clinic patient Jayson Werth

In some cases, Mayo has been able to track the progression from these process metrics to bottom-line outcomes, such as unique patient visits and even registration or new appointments. "I like to call them biopsies," Aase says. Mayo will measure "track-throughs" of patients who viewed a video or page, clicked through to the hospital website, and requested an appointment. And with campaigns targeting certain conditions, Mayo will track the number of patients who come in for related treatments.

Jayson Werth, a professional baseball player, first came to Mayo Clinic to treat a wrist injury after he was struck by a pitch during a spring training game in 2005. Physicians determined that Werth suffered a split tear of his ulnotriquetal ligament (UT), an injury that often goes undiagnosed. Werth was treated by Richard Berger, an orthopedic surgeon, and after a successful recovery, was later signed by the Philadelphia Phillies.

Werth campaign by the numbers

2008: Mayo performs 22 UT split repairs
2009: Werth campaign launches, Mayo performs 20 UT split repairs 
2010: Mayo performs 39 UT split repairs 

Mayo Clinic saw an opportunity in November 2009, after the Phillies won the World Series, to tell Werth's story. They rolled out a social media campaign focused on wrist injuries, which included blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, and even hosted a @MayoClinic Twitter chat with Dr. Berger himself.

The procedure to do UT repairs was "relatively unknown" before that point, Aase says.

In 2009, Dr. Berger conducted 20 UT split repairs, followed by 39 procedures in 2010—almost a doubling of patient volume in the year following the Werth campaign, Aase told the Daily Briefing. It was "incredible to see this jump in procedures as a result, which translated into bottom-line financial benefits," he added.

Aase stressed that the campaign was an integrated communications strategy that involved both social media and traditional media relations. However, the "social media part was essential…from YouTube to our blogs to Twitter," he said.

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Leveraging Social media to transform healthcare

Leveraging Social media to transform healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

Healthcare by its very nature is social in many aspects. One of the recent developments of medical professionals is to enter the social media platform. We are all aware of the shift from volume based models to a more socially acceptable value based system in healthcare. The relationship between doctors and patients is getting more similar to other industries, i.e. the relation between a service provider and a consumer. The medical industry is seeking out new ways to implicate customer satisfaction and playing with the tools that proved to increase engagement and reach.

To reach out to customers, one of the savviest ways in this modern market is the use of social media. In fact, according to the Journal of Internet Medical Research, more than 60% of adults use the internet to come across health related information and treatment procedures. This isn’t surprising as the culture of this world is seeking more of an instant solution. When an individual is sick, he wants to know what has really happened and wants it at that very instance. There is really no waiting. Social media in this case is perfectly positioned for healthcare professionals to reach out to patients and provide solutions in an effective and valuable way.

An example for the extensive use of social media in healthcare practiced could be well understood by the stand of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. It is one of the most popular healthcare channels on YouTube with more than 450,000 followers on Facebook and 600,000 on Twitter. Further, they have come up with different Facebook pages especially concerning different departments including gynecology, breast cancer, cochlear implants and many more.

Also the Mayo Clinic has three different blogs targeting different audiences. The main idea is to share expertise with the masses that would very well be your main customer base. Services provided in social media networks for medical professionals would also include webinars, training programs and access to resources. It is quite relevant to assume here that social media plays an increasingly important part in the healthcare industry as more and more professionals and institutions seek the path taken by the Mayo Clinic.

Digital communications and especially social media are laying deep roots in day-to-day healthcare operations. This network includes doctors, patients, nurses, therapists, clinics, hospitals and other professionals who use social platform as a tool for a more effective and far reaching means of communications. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc are used to share symptoms, research medical information, offering opinions, seeking similar communities, and provide health plans and even prescribe drugs. People use the social medium to keep in touch with other in similar communities having the same symptoms and seeking out references for a proper treatment. If something has worked out for one, it surely will work out for others.

Another report by the Pew Internet Research titled “State of Social Media in 2013” suggests that 60% of U.S. patients use social tools like Titter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest to stay connected and interact with others having the same interests. 35 % of American adults have tried to figure out medical conditions from others who might have gone through a similar condition. The e-patient idea is a powerful growing force challenging to break the traditional barrier that had existed between healthcare providers and patients. The new system is more enables, empowered, equipped and engaged and could be further used to educate and enhance health by offering DIY techniques in some instances.

Drawing inspiration from their social habits, the majority of internet users today are demanding access to online information and seeking out alternative ways of treatment that improve care and contain costs. Social media is acting as a catalyst to drastically impact patient motivation and the interaction with service provider. The collaborative technologies of today and the resulting innovations also allows for quicker dispersal of information and help patients who seek out immediate and cost effective medical services.

Since now, the traditional methods of interaction between patients and healthcare professionals allowed little opportunity for the patients to have a say on the logistics, alternative and the methods of care delivery. Now, with the connected setup, the idea has thoroughly changed and patients are empowered to have a greater say and play a role in their wellness and treatment.

The medical service provider is nothing less than any other consumer market. There is competition between service providers (both institutions and individuals) and patients have a wide opportunity to choose someone they would be comfortable with. This could be intimidating for physicians who still want to stick to old school methods, but it certainly benefits everyone.

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Expansion of Medical Practices using Social Media Services

Expansion of Medical Practices using Social Media Services | Social Media and Healthcare |

Without proper marketing it is very difficult to establish any sort of business and healthcare practices are no exception. The competition has increased in every profession, even in medical field, forcing doctors to take their own hard earned stand. Though compared to other area of practice, e-marketing is new in medical field but keeping in mind the increased demand and competition, it is definitely a great idea. The way crowd approaches a doctor nowadays shows potential in online marketing procedures. Thus, many practitioners and doctors are actively using internet to give a boost to their business.

In the ancient times there was a single doctor who would take care of the whole community and thus the need for medical marketing did not exist. With the passage of time and development the scenario has changed drastically. Nowadays even a small village has more than one doctor treating the people. Just by verbal advertisement the competition can be defeated easily. Once an advertisement is done properly then getting patients won’t be a problem.

In the technical era there are several ways of advertising. Just verbal advertisement is not enough and rather seems a story now. Technological advancement has taken people much ahead. Internet is today’s first choice. In case of finding a suitable doctor too, people have started surfing the internet. A doctor obviously doesn’t want to lose any patient and thus, they have to follow the latest trend of internet marketing.

Social networking is the only word which crosses our mind when we pronounce internet in today’s date.  Thee are various tools of social media marketing and with the ever increasing popularity of facebook, twitter, mySpace etc; these media sites has become one of the most prosperous tools for doctors to showcase their talents via advertisements. These are used extensively by both doctors and patients to keep up communication. Let us now consider various benefits that the doctors or medical field has gained due to social media marketing.

It is a relevant fact that facebook is immensely popular amongst today’s generation and is used very widely to keep up with near and dear ones. In other words, facebook has simply created a massive impact upon World Wide Web. The business return value is quite huge and even the healthcare industry accepted the fact. The whole medical world has made facebook a strong tool to deal with their patients and clients using different techniques. It is the new way. Having a facebook profile gives you enormous advantages. It not only helps you to stay connected with your patients but also plays an important role in contact building and networking. It becomes easier to find similar communities, fellowship and various research based partners. Moreover, this profile acts as a part of your professional resume maintaining your image and voicing your expertise.

In order to manage your brand and give it a special fan following, twitter is the most appropriate place. Twitter is a place which gives you access to a world of similar minded people, thus giving you a chance to expand your horizon of knowledge. A single tweet means another step to increasing creditability. Moreover, tweets work much faster then facebook posts and thus, allows a user to see your content in various ways, in a short span on time.

However, the offerings of Google+ are much more when it comes to promotion of medical practice. You can link your profile to your promotional site and request your followers, friends and relatives to “+1” with your profile. This helps in increasing the recognition of a brand and also aware people about your practices. The number of “+1” you gain, the ranks improves allowing your webpage to be showcased on the top of list. This automatically attracts more clients.

Peter Wilkinson's curator insight, September 30, 2013 7:10 AM

Social media business - social media marketing, HR, recruitment, sales, customer service | culture and Internet / social media addiction and trolls - Call Peter on 07930330125 or email

Allison Emma Schizkoske's curator insight, October 7, 2013 10:44 PM

This article is very true, the fact that social media today is everything when it comes to getting the word out about something. If a doctor is loooking for new patients they can be posting on facebook, twitter or google+ like mentioned in the atrical. They can even post/tweet a link to thier linked inacocunt so that the public can view thier profile and get to know the doctor before joining the practice. This is a great way to get your public to know you, so they feel comfortable before signing up. 

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How To Create a Pinteresting Healthcare Social Media Strategy

How To Create a Pinteresting Healthcare Social Media Strategy | Social Media and Healthcare |

A recent study revealed that Pinterest, the latest social networking site to take the social media world by storm, is now driving more traffic to websites and blogs than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a social networking site with a visually-pleasing “virtual pinboard” interface. Users collect photos and link to products they love, creating their own pinboards and following the pinboards of other people whom they find interesting. The site is currently invite-only, and it has experienced rapid growth in recent months (CrunchBase)

Launched in March 2010, Pinterest’s dramatic rise to become one of the top 10 social networking sites has been driven by an exponential growth in users, (a recent Techcrunch report cites 10 million U.S. monthly uniques – faster than any standalone site ever), seamless integration into existing social networking sites  (Facebook and Twitter) and an elegant and attractive user interface.

When images are uploaded to Pinterest, links are embedded that users can click to drive traffic directly to a website’s page. Furthermore, by sharing these images via Twitter or Facebook or embedding them on their own website or blog, images can be shared with a wider audience. What started out as an online scrapbooking site for a demographic – most users are female between the ages of 25 and 44 - to collect and share recipe, fashion and home decor ideas, has now evolved into a prime marketing tool for businesses.

So far, so pinteresting, but the question is how can you leverage the potential of this rapidly growing site for health care social media – particularly given that success on the site is predicated on pinning visually interesting content and blatant marketing is discouraged?  The answer lies in creating a strategy to promote your healthcare brand creatively so that it fits with the network’s user base and vision. Here are 9 ways to leverage the potential of Pinterest for healthcare social media.  

1. Think Visually

Pinterest fits most naturally when a brand has a visually interesting story to tell. Users may stumble upon your images and share them with friends, giving your image (or video) the opportunity to go viral. So, your first strategy is to collect the best images which represent your healthcare brand. If your budget allows, you may like to consider hiring a professional photographer or graphic designer to help you.

#Pinterest Tip: For healthcare, images related to exercise, nutrition and other health care promotion resources work well, as you can see in this example from the Facing Cancer Together pinboard, which highlights healthy living tips for wellness and cancer prevention.

2. Create Infographics
With so many online messages competing for our attention, interesting graphics can help cut through the social media clutter. Infographics – graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge – present complex information quickly and have grown in popularity on the web. (Check out this recent article on Social Media Today to learn how infographic design can get more readers to click on your content). See how ecaring uses this infographic on the anatomy of walking to good effect.

 3. Optimise your website 

Populate your website with visual content that people will want to share. Make it easy for visitors to share your images on Pinterest by adding a Pin-It button to your site. You can also incorporate aPinterest follow button on your website to encourage users to connect with you on Pinterest.

4. Optimize your Pinterest profile 
You can optimise your Pinterest Profile in the “settings” option of your account.  Insert your company name as username, fill out your profile information, add your logo and include links to your website. Check that the option to ‘Hide your Pinterest profile from search engines’ is checked to ‘Off’ so your profile can get indexed in search. Lastly, check the boxes that link to your Twitter and Facebook accounts are highlighted so that your pins will be automatically linked to these accounts.

5. Optimise your boards for SEO 
Default Pinterest boards are already categorised for you, but you can easily edit those names to best describe your pinboard. Categorising will help others find you and increase your chances of having your images repinned. Unfortunately there is no healthcare or health and wellness category (but this will hopefully change as more health related accounts are formed). What you can do is give your boards titles with SEO in mind. This is just the same as choosing key words for optimising your website or blog, so think about what words people will use to search for your brand. Pinterest is an effective SEO strategy because pins work as a link back to your site, and Google recognising the link, rewards your website with more SEO juice.

#Pinterest Tip: Add #hashtags to tag your pins and make your content more search-friendly (also useful for an integrated campaign across multiple social networking sites).

6. Showcase your brand’s personality
Study after study reveals that people prefer to buy from and engage with people rather than businesses. Pinterest gives you the opportunity to humanize your brand – so why not introduce your team and give your followers a behind the scenes look at the lives of those who work or volunteer for you. Pinboard ideas can range from images of daily life around the office, volunteering, award ceremonies, awareness raising activities to boards featuring “food we love” or “books we are reading”.

7. Build up followers
Start by following influencers and early adopters in your industry – there’s a good chance they will follow you back. Repin relevant content from other users and interact with them by commenting on their boards. Above all, you need to provide your followers with regularly updated content of interest and value to keep them engaged. The key to building a strong following on Pinterest, as with other social media sites, is to become a leading expert on a subject related to your industry. Become the go-to authority on Pinterest and you followers will flock to you.

8. Involve your supporters

The best marketing on any social media platform happens when your followers share their passion and enthusiasm for what you do. On Pinterest, you can invite other users to contribute their own images to your account by creating a user-generated pinboard. Don’t worry – this isn’t a free-for-all for everyone. You create a specific board for this purpose, then go to edit and choose “Me + Contributors” under who can pin, thereby allowing you to choose who can contribute.  This is a great opportunity to foster community, engage with your followers, and inspire, encourage and acknowledge volunteers.

9. Have Fun!

The images most likely to be repined are aesthetically pleasing, with humorous images coming a close second. So remember not to take the site too seriously and pin with positivity.

 Pinterest is growing and changes are being incorporated as it evolves. Marketers are still finding their way around the site and while it has already proven its marketing worth to businesses, the potential to leverage the site for health care marketing is clearly evident.  If you haven’t yet dipped your toe into Pinterest waters, take some time to explore the creative ways it is currently used by NGOs,  hospitals, healthcare professionals and pharma. Determine if it fits with your marketing plan, then incorporating the tips outlined in this article, devise a Pinterest marketing strategy that will best leverage its potential for your purposes.

Happy Pinning!

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How Social Media Is Guiding Pharma's Market Intelligence

How Social Media Is Guiding Pharma's Market Intelligence | Social Media and Healthcare |

With the rise of social media and mobile technology worldwide, it was only a matter of time until industries turned to social intelligence for market insight.  Big Pharma is typically a latecomer to the social arena, lagging behind other industries that face less-restrictive requirements.  However, the promise of Big Data and the prospect of reality mining and social analytics have more and more companies looking to the web.

It’s no secret that social analytics and patient engagement strategies are great for sales.  But without regulations in place, companies are wary about outbound social media programs.  Since Pharma is still waiting for the FDA’s social media guidances, which are set to release in July 2014, only a few leading pharmaceutical companies have jumped into the social arena with both feet.  Johnson & Johnson, one of the pharmas to pioneer the social spaces, has used social networks for crisis management, apologizing to consumers after the FDA discovered irregularities in one manufacturing plant.  Also, Novartis has begun using YouTube and Facebook to bolster sales for several of its OTC drugs.  While some companies are wary of outbound efforts, pharmas are leveraging inbound social media software and analytics to improve market intelligence efforts.

While they might not be actively engaging patients (yet), pharmas are able to employ listening techniques to gain a clearer picture of their target markets.  Forward listening allows analysts to gather information from social conversations in real-time, keeping the company up-to-date on the latest issues or accolades.  Backward listening allows analysts to create a historical baseline of social sentiment toward a brand.  These conversations further a company’s understanding of its targeted physicians’ and patients’ feelings about a particular brand and help to identify unmet needs.  Going a step further, as companies better understand patient questions, the information gathered from social listening can also help to create brand packaging and patient education materials and to guide physician-sales rep interactions.

Of course, social intelligence doesn’t stop at understanding a single company’s products.  Pharmas can also leverage social listening techniques to gain competitive intelligence.  With the large amounts of conversations available via social networks and patient and physician communities, pharmas can also understand their consumers’ experiences with – and sentiments toward – competing products.  In fact, with enough data, comparative analysis can reveal the decisions that lead patients to switch from one brand to another.

With the rise of Big Data, social listening is just one of many intelligence-gathering methods opening up to the pharma industry.  As pharmaceutical companies are able to implement more outbound social initiatives, the amount of available analytics and social intelligence will only grow.

- See more at:

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Incorporating HIPAA into Your Practice’s Social Media Marketing

Incorporating HIPAA into Your Practice’s Social Media Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

It’s clear that social media is here to stay and that ALL businesses, including healthcare organizations, are currently using and will continue to increase their use of social media to connect with their targeted audience—patients, peers, influencers—all with the goal of creating a wonderful community where you impart your knowledge, support your peers, and increase your status within that community as an expert—thereby driving business to your door.

However, the issue of patient privacy, HIPAA, and offering advice is still of concern. Many have said; “My business did fine before social media…I don’t need it!” However, our client base and the Baby Boomers (incidentally the fastest growing segment of social media users) are turning to the web and social media to get answers, research providers, and give their opinions. Their fingers are still “doing the walking,” but on their keyboards instead of in a phonebook.

Physicians are being asked to deal with more and more lately. With the increase in the cost of doing business, insurance, managed care, reimbursement issues, litigation, the advent and transition to EMR’s, HIPAA concerns, and now social media integration, it’s understandable that physicians are slower to adopt this means of communication. However, physicians are such a wealth of information, those that do get involved in social media and blogging reap huge benefits and quickly develop a reputation as an expert in their field, often leading to an increase in new patients, requests to speak at events, invitations to write for industry journals, and more!

Often, clients expect that if you are on the cutting edge of your medical specialty, that the other aspects of your practice—your office, your staff, advertising pieces, personal appearance, and even your business cards, website, and social media presence—should reflect that level of professionalism and technological savvy. How can you be a part of this 24/7 online networking event while keeping current and ahead of the curve with the ever powerful and beneficial results of a successful social media campaign?

In a previous Doctor’s Life Magazine column ( I discussed how social media is an extension of your practice specialty, personality, current marketing plan, office atmosphere, and website – all rolled into one.

Here are 10 suggestions on ways to have a successful social media campaign, and continue to communicate online with patients (current and future) and market your services, while adhering to HIPAA guidelines. Note that these tips can apply to texting, emailing, voicemails, and other forms of communication as well!

1. How you act on social media is transparent, and you should act no differently online than you do in person, or how your sales and marketing staff would at a networking event, or how any of us would in an elevator. SO as social media is truly a “conversation,” just like face-to-face interactions, you need to maintain your own personality and tone, you also need to refrain from posting anything that might identify a patient, even if you don’t mention their name. You wouldn’t want to post any combination of things such as locations, times or events that may allow someone to draw a conclusion or disclose personal information. Although a picture is worth a thousand words, be sure to get authorization before posting pictures of employees, vendors, or patients.

2. Maintain professional boundaries and don’t combine your personal and professional online accounts. Have a separate account for your friends and family and a business page for your practice. Refrain from “friending” your patients on your personal account. Occasionally a patient may find your personal account and send you a friend request. If that happens, be sure to private message them to let them know that your practice’s social media policy prohibits you from connecting with them on your personal page, but offer the links so they can follow your business page.

3. Social media is a transparent platform for sharing information, not hiding it. With that in mind, be sure that whatever you post, whether it’s an original post or one that you share, re-tweet, or mention is one that you’d be proud of, and wouldn’t mind if it were printed in a newspaper. Many times, once things are out there in cyberspace, they’re out there, which brings us to our next tip…

4. Before you push send, count to three and ask yourself if the post is true, helpful, respectful, does it apply to a mixed audience, and could it be misconstrued as offensive by anyone. Remember, once you push send it becomes immediate, and although you can sometimes delete a post, people can print it or save it before you do. This applies to responses to comments, especially when you might not agree. Again, be sure to act the same way you would in person.

5. Review your privacy settings at least monthly, as they can change. Be sure that you have control over the comments posted and that you can approve or deny what you want. Don’t be afraid to block anyone that posts anything that is inappropriate.

6. Google yourself frequently. Or better yet, set up Google Alerts, ( so that you will get an email whenever a search term (your name, the name of your practice, or any subject you want an alert on) comes up in Google. Another great idea is to have a separate account for your social media accounts only. You can set your contact emails to your business account, but all of your notifications should be sent to this private Gmail account, so that you will see EVERYTHING that’s going on on your social media channels. This email address would be different from your contact email, and is kept private on the sites, just be sure to adjust your notification settings in each channel appropriately.

7. Know the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) and its amendments, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH ACT), along with state laws, all of which provide privacy and security protections of personal healthcare information (PHI), along with the repercussions if the law is violated. Be sure to take reasonable and appropriate measures to protect your patients privacy. The Mayo Clinic has a wonderful 12-word social media policy: “Don’t Lie, Don’t Pry, Don’t Cheat, Can’t Delete, Don’t Steal, Don’t Reveal.” Obviously, each of these rules can be expanded upon. Read more at

8. Set up a social media policy within your office and provide education on it as well as regular HIPAA education and how social media is included in this. Review it frequently with those that have access to and/or manage your social media channels, and update it as rules and regulations change. Some guidelines you might want to consider including in your social media policy should touch on; respect of time and property, use of confidential and PHI information, respectful communications, right to monitor, and enforcement measures, and that each employee utilizing your social media is responsible for knowing, understanding, and upholding HIPAA regulations, as well as your social media policy. Remember even if you don’t have social media channels for your practice, your employees most likely have personal accounts. Be sure that they understand the implications of revealing PHI on those accounts.

9. What if a patient comments on your social media channel, if their name shows up, is the physician breaching patient privacy and opening themselves up for trouble? The answer is: Probably not. However, you should take any precautions you can such as, setting up a disclaimer on your ‘about page’ stating that opinions and views are your own, and reminding them that by commenting on your site, they are revealing their identity. However, since they are doing it by their own volition, it would be no different from them having a conversation with someone in your waiting room. However, with monitoring you can stay on top of the conversation.

10. “What if I get on social media, and someone complains or says something negative?” We hear this one quite a bit, and the truth is; if you didn’t have your own outlet for them to write these things, they would simply do it on their own channels. Having your own social media presence allows you to monitor what’s going on, react to comments and ideas, and if and when something negative does come your way, don’t immediately delete it—show the rest of your followers that you are truly concerned and document an apology, correction, or whatever it takes to recognize that client’s issue, and your willingness to make it right. Bear in mind, use caution in what you say, perhaps requesting the client call you directly. Oftentimes, it’s the fact that you respond, and the speed of doing so that shows you are a cut above!

In conclusion, there is no doubt that social media is here to stay. The benefits of this online version of communication far outweigh the potential risks, with just a few common sense tips. Remember too, when outsourcing your social media to a online marketing firm such as The Go! Agency, they are bound by the same rules and regulations as you are. Be sure to ask them very pointed questions about how they will maintain your patient’s privacy, and ensure that your social media campaign is one that truly creates a wonderful community for your practice, educates your current and future clients, and pushes you to the top as an expert in your field!

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3 Audiences on Social Media You Are Marketing To as a Health Research Co.

3 Audiences on Social Media You Are Marketing To as a Health Research Co. | Social Media and Healthcare |

What audiences on social media are you targeting with your marketing? We are all familiar with demographics when it comes to social media. We might be looking to target middle-aged women, or college-aged men, but these criteria are pretty superficial. We need to ask ourselves what audiences on social media we are really looking to target when it comes to social marketing.

There are three very specific types of audiences that we aim to engage with on social networks. Each of these groups engage with brands in very different ways, and our marketing efforts need to reflect that. In order to simplify the explanation of these audiences, we’ll stick to one, easy example: a health research institute.

Direct Affect

When it comes to health, wellness and research, there is a small group that consistently has one aspect of the field or another on their mind.
These are people who have been directly affected by the illness or condition that the research is looking to cure. For the health research institute, the goal in using social media is to keep this highly and inherently engaged audience up-to-date with the work that is being done and breakthroughs in the field. While sharing content every second of every day is not necessarily going to be the best course of action for most brands, there should be an attempt to keep this audience active on social channels by sharing content relatively consistently.

First-Degree Separation

Now a much larger population when it comes to this health research institute is going to be the one made up primarily of people who have not experienced the condition that the research is hoping to cure, but who can relate personally to it due to the fact that someone they know or are related to someone who has.

This is a group that does not consistently think of this ailment, but when it is brought to their attention, it certainly resonates. For the health research institute, there needs to be an effort every so often to remind this second audience on social media as to why they exist. This audience does not follow the activity of the health research brand as closely as the first group, but calls to action will certainly resonate, often profoundly.

Societal Connection

The third and final audience on social networks is the one least aware or affected by the brand. This group is not thinking about the activity of a brand consistently, if ever, and will likely not pay attention to the content unless it is relevant within society. One example of this is the month of October for breast cancer awareness. During this month, the cause is seen almost everywhere, from community fundraisers to the NFL.

It is during this period that research institutes can generate new awareness within this third audience. From there, during the rest of the year, the content shared to the first degree audience may seem a little more relevant to this somewhat removed group, and calls to action may generate more success. Of course, there are other audiences we may find on social networks. But these three categories need to be front of mind when creating content. Understand what types of audiences will be looking at your content, and diversify your content strategy in order to appeal to every one of those audiences.

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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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

shelbylaneMD's curator insight, September 28, 2013 10:54 AM

And Beware of HIPAA

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How Social Media Is Changing Organ Donation

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

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

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

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

Patient stories have always driven change in medicine.

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

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

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

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Useful Social Media Suggestions for Hospitals to Market Themselves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.    Tell powerful patient stories.

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

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

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

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

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

2.    Do something innovative.

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

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

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

Here are some ideas to get your gears turning:

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

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

3.    Take a hard look at risk management. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.    Keep an eye on your peers.

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

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

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

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

5.    Track everything.

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

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

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

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Healthcare Marketing Innovation: What's missing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Online Reputation Matters in Healthcare

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

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

How does Social Media Fit into Healthcare?

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

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

Building a Social Media Voice

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

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Cancer Support Communities Infographic

Cancer Support Communities Infographic | Social Media and Healthcare |
I've been on a rant about the importance of online communities for at least the last year. My friends at get it. They build and maintain online patient communities that are incredibly r...
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How Are Hospitals Using Social Media? [INFOGRAPHIC] - AllTwitter

How Are Hospitals Using Social Media? [INFOGRAPHIC] - AllTwitter | Social Media and Healthcare |
How Are Hospitals Using Social Media? [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Who Uses Social Media to Search for Health Care Information?

Who Uses Social Media to Search for Health Care Information? | Social Media and Healthcare |

It seems that the average consumer uses social media for everything today. One can track an entire family history through online records, speak to clients all over the world through video conferencing services, and even access one’s bank account and bills with the click of a button. Given that people are turning to the Internet and social media sites more than ever, it only makes sense that health care companies have a presence on these services so that they, too, can better connect with their clients.

Before crafting your digital marketing plans for your health care site, it is first important to examine who exactly is using them to search for health care information. An in-depth survey by Kantar Media did just that.1 This survey, including data on over 165 million adults, looked at the reasons why people might search for health-related information on the Internet. Here are some of the more interesting findings:

  • Of those surveyed, 53% in the Kantar Media study said that social networking was their main reason for accessing the Internet in the last 30 days; 4% used Facebook or Twitter to obtain/research the health care information they accessed.
  • In the United States in 2012, 55% of Internet users employed social media with a focus on health and wellness. Among them, 26% visited sites with usergenerated content like Wikipedia, 23% watched informational videos, and 23% viewed blogs about a given health topic.
  • Nearly 25% of survey respondents reported that they use social networking sites frequently or occasionally as online health resources (a percentage that has grown every year since 2010).

As for who the people using social media sites to research medical and health information are, Kantar’s Media study found the following:

  • The age group that is most likely to use the Internet for health research is 35- to 44-year-olds, followed by those aged 25 to 34, and then 18- to 24-year-olds. The use of social media sites for health care purposes dropped off dramatically at age 45 and continued to decrease with age.
  • Consumers with chronic conditions are much more likely to use social networking sites as online sources of health information. Some of the most common conditions include depression, diabetes, migraines, bipolar disorder, and anxiety.

Knowing these important social demographics when creating the digital marketing plan for your health care business can greatly improve the success of your overall social media strategy as well as ensure that you are targeting the right audience in your posts. The sites where users sought health care information were spread pretty evenly across the board, so it is important not to focus all of your content on just one social media channel.

Were you surprised by any of these numbers or statistics? Be sure to let us know your thoughts about the survey and social media for health care!

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Pinterest and its Role in Medical Device Marketing

Pinterest and its Role in Medical Device Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Pinterest is a relatively new social media platform that enables users to upload and pin images or video to customizable online theme-based bulletin boards.  Pinterest launched in 2010 and now has over 70 million users and is continuing to grow rapidly, especially overseas.   Pinterest owes its quick growth and success to grassroots marketing. 

Pinterest started out by targeting bloggers and inviting them to share and promote their content related to the different categories Pinterest featured.  In the beginning Pinterest was primarily used by women for sharing ideas for DIY projects, arts and crafts, and cooking or baking.  It now has over 35 different theme-based categories and is used by millions of men, women, bloggers, and businesses.

So what is Pinterest’s role in medical device marketing? Pinterest can be used to build your brand and connect you to your target audience.  Many companies use Pinterest to upload targeted, theme-based images and video that create brand awareness, drive traffic to their websites, increases sales, and expands their customer engagement. 

Here are some tips and best practices for how to use Pinterest as part of your regular social media medical device marketing campaign:

Connect with your community - Craft your company page into a space your customers will want to spend time in.  The key is to connect your brand’s message to topics that your audience is already talking about.  Give them a place to learn about your brands and products and encourage them to share your featured pins with others.  Create engagement and interaction by offering your customers sneak-peaks or exclusive deals. 

Use boards to segment your audience – Create targeted bulletin boards specific to the various brands and products you offer or for the different markets you cover.  This will enable you to segment your content and serve the wants and needs of multiple customer-types. 

Quality over Quantity – Pin strategically and think about what your objectives are with each pin.  Choose your pins wisely to optimize your performance and to build repertoire with your target audience.   

Be Creative & Visual – Do your best to select images and videos that are creative and visually appealing.  This will increase your chances of catching your customer’s eye and getting re-pinned or liked. 

Pin and Promote your Followers – Do this by re-pinning or liking other pins, following your customer’s boards, and by tagging “@” another pinner you may be following in one of your pin descriptions.

Source Your Pins – If you are re-pinning something from another user within your community, be sure to give them the credit they deserve.  Always cite the original source of your pins.  You don’t want to be seen as an idea-stealer. 

Monitor Referral Traffic & SEO – Track the performance of your pins and bulletin boards by measuring referral traffic back to your company’s website.  Sites like Reachli can help you track your campaign’s CTRs.  You’ll also want to leverage SEO opportunities by using long tail keywords, hashtags, backlinks, and the ‘pin-it button’ on your pins and boards.  This will help you boost your Google ranking. 

Pinterest isn’t for every company but if used correctly, it can be a very effective means of marketing.  The best way to see if it will work for you is to setup an account, use the tips above, and get pinning. Good luck!   

Suzy Willmott's curator insight, September 30, 2013 10:19 AM

An interesting article that shows that pinterest can be used even to inspire and educate - even in the unglamorous world of medical device marketing. 

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How social media impacts health information technology and EHR software

How social media impacts health information technology and EHR software | Social Media and Healthcare |

What role does Facebook play – if any – in health information technology? Currently, the healthcare community is working toward greater platform interoperability, which in turn can lead to health information exchange on a larger scale. This kind of data sharing has precedents already in the world, partly in the form of social networks.

As EHRIntelligence reported, physicians, lawmakers, vendors and EHR software developers are all looking for ways to improve software while keeping patients engaged. And a lot of the discussion happens to be taking place in social media environments. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and especially blogs all facilitate the most important conversations going on today about health IT. In fact, a recent study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research indicated that 24 percent of physicians use some form of social media to share or research medical information each day. Just over 14 percent of responding doctors contribute actively, while 61 percent keep up-to-date via news feeds and discussion groups on a weekly basis.

That being said, it is unlikely that doctors will start tweeting the results of blood tests or Facebook messaging prescription information any time soon. And social media sites specially designed for healthcare industry workers do exist – tibbr being one example, according to the news source – but even with their familiar interfaces, these sites have yet to really take off.

HIPAA and social media
As EHRIntelligence observed, the primary issue is patient privacy. What does the Health Information Privacy and Accountability Act (HIPAA) have to say about social media?

OpenSesame, an elearning center, spelled out that HIPAA violations on social media breach both Privacy and Security rules. However, because of the nature of social media, some employees might not realize their actions have violated HIPAA. To provide clarity, an OpenSesame blog highlighted three common mistakes regarding HIPAA and social media.

The first reminded healthcare providers that discussing patients in any context on social media is a violation, even if personal or identifying information is not a part of the discussion. The second warned against workers taking photos at work. Even if the picture is not of a patient, unintended information could potentially be revealed in the photograph. Third, the blog reminded providers that public figures are protected under HIPAA as well – an easy mistake for some workers to make. The blog provided stories for each example in which ignoring each basic HIPAA rule led to violation.

In health IT, social media remains untapped for the most part. But utilizing this tool for healthcare platforms will take time and careful experimentation, as well as a likely addendum to HIPAA in the coming years.

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Social media marketing: Effective strategies to accelerate dental practice growth

Social media marketing: Effective strategies to accelerate dental practice growth | Social Media and Healthcare |
Your essential social media platforms

Think of social media platforms as your online marketing toolbox. The questions are which tools in that toolbox are necessary, and what is the best way to use them?

In order to determine which social media outlets and content will reach and resonate with patients, you must first understand the delivery mediums.

  • Possible marketing objectives include:
  • Search engine optimization so new patients can find my practice
  • Provide educational materials to help facilitate treatment plan adherence
  • Provide helpful advice to improve patient retention
  • Drive more cosmetic treatment opportunities from existing patients
  • Improve potential referral business from existing clients

Setting a clear marketing objective will act as a guide to ensure you derive value from your social media marketing efforts. Patients have different expectations for each social platform and it's imperative that your objectives align with those expectations.

Vital networking tools

The blog -- Adding a blog to your website gives your practice a simple way to share information, whether it's office news, photos, videos, or other information. A regularly updated blog educates patients, promotes your dental brand, differentiates your practice from the one down the street, and keeps your patients up-to-date on exciting developments in dentistry and your dental practice. A blog can be used as an extremely effective channel to promote new dental technology and cutting-edge products and services sold in your office, share in-depth information about specific treatments performed, or promote community events.

Fifty-seven percent of companies have acquired a customer from their company blog. A blog has the ability to provide expansive information in each posting, giving readers a more thorough understanding of the featured topic as well as an inside look at who you are as a person, who your team is, and what your practice philosophy is. Who will manage the blog? A blog needs to be updated regularly if it is to be successful. Designate a staff member to update the blog at least once a week or make time on your schedule to do so, even if it's just to remind patients about a contest. Alternatively, hire a company with dental-specific social media expertise to manage the postings on your behalf.

Facebook -- Facebook has become an integral platform for all individuals to connect, and an effective platform for businesses to reach new and existing clients. Sharing photos, events, and information through specially designed Facebook Business Pages is easy and enormously productive. The additional benefit is that this channel introduces your practice to prospective new patients through information delivered to them from a member of their own trusted network.

Twitter -- Twitter is widely regarded as a powerful marketing tool, used to share quick and focused updates, connect with patients, learn from customers' past experiences, and connect with professional peers. Maintaining a Twitter presence is fairly easy. It is much more convenient to tweet a message in seconds than to use a time-consuming media platform. Your dental office can reach out to millions of potential patients in a matter of a few clicks. How it works: Twitter is an interactive stream of messages that are limited to a maximum of 140 characters each.

In order to optimize the benefits of Twitter, it is important to:

  • Post often with relevant information to patients.
  • Monitor your newsfeeds for interesting stories that relate to the field of dentistry.
  • Even if it is not related to your dental practice, if it's interesting and relevant to patients, tweet it!
  • Don't forget to link back to your own website and/or Facebook page often.
  • Remember, keywords, site links, and intriguing content are the key ingredients of a great tweet.
  • Follow as many dentistry-related accounts as you can find. That includes other dentist offices, dental associations, dental bloggers, dental specialty fields, and dental product manufacturers.

Google+ -- Google+ is Google's answer to Facebook. Their services are a powerful social media resource that dentists cannot ignore. Its primary benefit is the way it positively influences Google search results. Google's social sharing feature is proven to drive traffic to your website, increasing your visibility in the networks' integrated search results. One of the key features of Google+ is "Circles," which are simply groups that contain your contacts. Set up a profile for your dental practice and then start adding your patients (if they agree to it), local businesses, and other dental-related professionals to your public circles.

YouTube -- Despite being known as a video network first, YouTube is also the second largest search engine in the world, with 100 hours of video uploaded every minute and 4 billion videos viewed on a daily basis. There are many different ways you can utilize the power of video. Whether filming patient testimonials, a demonstration of a treatment, or just a simple office tour, dental practices are harnessing the marketing power of YouTube. When patients enjoy your content, they share it with their friends and families on their own personal social networks.

Pinterest -- Pinterest is a pin-board, or bookmark style, photo-sharing site. Users create theme-based image collections that include favorite events, hobbies, interests, and more. It is interactive; users can browse other boards, repin images to their board, or "like" images. For example, your dental practice may pin items such as "Top 5 Ways To Keep Teeth Healthy," "Teeth Whitening Techniques," or "Foods You Can Eat While in Braces." If they agree, using your patients' before-and-after dental photos can create valuable content on Pinterest. Pinterest drives more referral traffic on the web than Google+, YouTube, Reddit, and LinkedIn -- combined.

Sweepstakes and contests -- No matter which form of social media you use, contests and sweepstakes are an excellent and quick way to expand your social media footprint, while serving as a proven way to market your dental office, increase your contacts, and energize your patient base. Contest platforms that integrate with social networks, particularly Facebook, allow your practice to run anything from a simple enter-to-win sweepstakes to a more involved "Share Your Smile" photo contest, while offering appealing prizes to patients like electronics, gift cards, and more.

While sweepstakes and contests can be a powerful addition to your social marketing efforts, it is important to pay attention to the finer details and rules surrounding online contests. Work with a provider who monitors and keeps your promotions within Facebook guidelines and government regulations, while assisting in driving activity through promotional email blasts and newsletters to patients. Furthermore, ensure the contest platform you choose allows you to capture entrant contact details for later marketing efforts.

The benefits of online contests and sweepstakes for a dental practice are documented in a 2012 study by Sesame Communications looking at 48 dental and orthodontic practices and 64 distinct contests and sweepstake campaigns. The results showed that, on average, these patient engagement campaigns drove 194 new "Likes" per practice, per campaign, as well as four appointment requests that originated with filling out an entry form. Just as significant, for each sweepstakes and contest, participating practices received an average of 17 recommendations on Facebook -- testimonials that will exist on their page and benefit them indefinitely.

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5 Ways to Engage Women in Social Media & Public Health

5 Ways to Engage Women in Social Media & Public Health | Social Media and Healthcare |

#1. Women want credible online health information

When women look for health information online, they do so as caregivers to their children, spouses and other family members. This is a very personal thing. It’s important to them that the information they find is credible and accurate.

Blogs written by non-medical professionals won’t do. In fact even writers who are paid by health organizations are not necessarily believable either. What women want is trustworthy information that is backed up by credible sources and professional medical perspectives.

#2.  Health campaigns using social media must approach women and men differently

Women and men use social media differently. Women like to talk and share things that are more personal in nature. Men don’t. Women also don’t mind being vulnerable and leaning on each other for support, as long as privacy and trust are emphasized.

What this means for healthcare communicators is that while women are open to having discussions that promote healthy lifestyles, they will only do so in a group of friends and trusted peers. Your challenge is to figure out how to enter those conversations or facilitate new conversations that include women and their trusted networks.

#3. Healthcare communicators stand out by helping not selling

With so much content competing for our attention online, healthcare communicators who want to stand out above the noise must offer simple, relevant, interesting and useful information that helps to solve the problems that women face.

The idea of pushing marketing messages must be resisted at all costs – those types of messages will only be ignored.  Websites such as WebMD and MayoClinic understand that to attract huge female audiences, their content must help not sell.

#4. Vanity metrics are less important than engagement metrics for health campaigns

This was an interesting point of discussion. Generally we agreed that it’s more important to have 100 Facebook fans or Twitter followers who are genuinely interested and engaged with your content, than 10,000 fans who never interact with your social media posts.

The goal of most healthcare campaigns is to influence healthy decision-making and positive life-style choices, so it’s important that audiences respond and give feedback about their own experiences. When looking at Facebook or Twitter metrics for your healthcare campaign, it’s extremely important to look at Likes, comments, re-tweets, mentions and shares, as a measure of a successful campaign.

#5. Women use mobile differently from men…even for health information!

Did you know that 33% of female cell-phone owners use their phones to search for health information compared to 29% of male cell-phone owners? Did you also know that even though men text more than women, women are more likely to sign up for health text alerts? (Pew Research).


Women are primary care givers in the family. They’re also more likely to seek online support when they become pregnant, try to quit smoking, struggle with their weight or go through a significant life change. In the U.S. healthcare communicators should leverage mobile apps to reach these women, while keeping in mind that women will check to verify the credibility of the company behind those apps. However, text messages being more globally ubiquitous than smart-phone apps are likely to have wider reach especially in countries where smart-phone penetration is not far-reaching due to economic or financial reasons.

For the full-length panel discussion, check out the YouTube video here.

kleenbottom's comment, September 28, 2013 6:45 AM
Over 90% of the people in North America clean with toilet paper after a stool session. The problem with toilet paper is that leaves behind fecal film and debris. Fecal matter is full of pathogens such as bacteria, virus, yeast, and fungus. In combination with natural warmth and moisture of the area, the pathogens explode in quantities which cause infections around anal area. With just a push of a button The WaterKlean™ directs a stream of water to clean you and leave you refreshed. It is the best cleaning experience on earth! "
Tambre Leighn's curator insight, October 19, 2013 3:14 PM

What's being spread within your organization with regard to wellness & wellbeing?

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State of Healthcare Searches Online - Infographic

State of Healthcare Searches Online - Infographic | Social Media and Healthcare |

48% of the searches are happening on Social Websites.

Low social engagement by Pharma companies, more still being spent on conventional mechanisms.

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11 Ways to Use Multimedia to Engage New Patients

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

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

#1: Video Clips

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

#2: Pictures

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

#3: Podcasts

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

#4: Slide Presentations

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

#5: Infographics

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

#6: Instagram

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

#7: Vine / Instagram Video

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

#8: Downloadable Documents

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

#9: Webinars

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

#10 Instant Chat

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

#11 Discussion Forums

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

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The Growing Importance of Social Media for Cosmetic Surgeons

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

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

The Numbers Say It All

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

According to the latest statistics in social media trends:

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

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

Advantage for Cosmetic surgeons

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

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

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

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

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

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

malek's comment, October 22, 2013 11:59 AM
Eye opening: plastic surgeons must jump the wagon of social media
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Social media release increases dissemination of original articles in the clinical pain sciences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rules of social media: Let your patients tell their stories

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

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

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

Case study: Mount Sinai Hospital

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

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

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

Case study: MD Anderson

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

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

Dr Martin Wale's curator insight, September 27, 2013 6:37 AM

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