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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Allowing Social Media in Hospitals.. A review

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

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

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

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

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

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

They answered:

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

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

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

They answered: 

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

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

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

They replied:

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


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

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

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

This is for social. 

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

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

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

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Infographic: Healthcare in the Digital Era

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

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

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8 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Gain Mileage for Your Practice

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

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

1. Create a Detailed LinkedIn Profile

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

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

2. Optimize your Profile for LinkedIn Search

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

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

3. Size Matters: Multiply Your Network

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

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

4. Enhance Reputation with LinkedIn Endorsements

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

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

5. Participate Actively in Specialized LinkedIn Groups

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

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

6. Analyze the LinkedIn Insights

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

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

7. Be Resourceful to Others on LinkedIn

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

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

8. Encourage your Staff to Us e LinkedIn

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

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

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Pharma At The Social Media Tipping Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Healthcare Marketing 2014: 10 Reasons to Demand Digital

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: Pew Internet)

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

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

(Source: Google Think)

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

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

(Source: Google Think)

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

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

(Source: Pew Internet)

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

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

(Source: Pew Internet)

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

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

(Source: Google Think)

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

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

(Source: Google Think)

8. Brand is important to prospective patients.

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

(Source: Google Think)

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

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

(Source: Google Think)

10. Online video is important.

1 in 8 patients watched an online video on:

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

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

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11 health care social media stats to turn heads

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

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

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

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

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

interesting facts

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

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

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Social Media and Patient Self-Care

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

Self care definition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

who owns your health?

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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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Doctors now using social media as a means of continuing education

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patients, not ‘friends’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s so  early 2000s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Social Media Professionalism in the Medical Community

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

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

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

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

Key takeaways for visual content marketing on Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nrip's insight:

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

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

Do pictures of people increase Facebook engagement? 

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Infographic: Social Media explained with healthcare

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

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

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

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

How to make social media efforts pay off

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

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

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

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Social media and health information - trends to data

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

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

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

What are the benefits?

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

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

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

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

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

What do we need to watch out for?

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

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

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

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

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

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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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