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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Experts say current social media guidelines are misframing issue of physician professionalism

Experts say current social media guidelines are misframing issue of physician professionalism | Social Media and Healthcare |

From the small-town doctor to the Freud—Ferenczi debate over sharing personal anecdotes, controversy over physicians' professional identity is nothing new. The question of physician conduct on social media is simply a new context for an old debate, but ethics and psychiatry experts at Johns Hopkins say current guidelines are misframing the issue of physician professionalism online, missing the opportunity to shed new light on the evergreen issue of physicians' role in society.

In a JAMA Viewpoint opinion published August 14, the experts say that current guidelines, including the recently released by American College of Physicians and Federation of State Medical Boards, are asking the wrong question about medical professionalism online; it's not a question of whether content is professional or personal, but whether it is appropriate of a physician in public.

"Resolving the online identity crisis requires recognizing that social media exist in primarily public or potentially public spaces, not exclusively professional or exclusively personal ones," write authors Matthew DeCamp, MD, PhD, Thomas Koenig, MD, and Margaret Chisolm, MD.

The authors assert that it is "operationally impossible" and therefore "nonsensical" to separate personal and professional identities, as many guidelines suggest. They will underscore their point by participating in a live Twitter chat scheduled for 2:00 PM on Friday, August 16, with the hashtag #IDcrisis, hosted by the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics (@bermaninstitute).

"Professional identity is a component of personal identity, much as a person can identify both as a colleague and parent in different contexts," says Chisolm, a professor in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

"The internet is a reimagined small-town square for the digital age, where a comment made casually to a friend can suddenly spread like wildfire," says DeCamp, a practicing general internist at Hopkins and faculty member at the Berman Institute. "Social media presents an opportunity for physicians to connect with their community, and they can maintain an appropriate professional identity while doing so by keeping in mind they are speaking in a public forum. So rather than something completely novel, social media is simply a new forum for professional conduct in public, which physicians negotiate all the time," DeCamp says.

The authors warn that attempts to adhere to existing guidelines and "depersonalize" their identity online may backfire, reducing trust of physicians who are attempting to hide something, and increasing patient stress in response to a physician perceived to be impersonal and unsympathetic.

Source: Johns Hopkins

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How Social Media Improves Chronic Disease Care

How Social Media Improves Chronic Disease Care | Social Media and Healthcare |

A new approach to using social media in healthcare is being pioneered in the Netherlands, according to a study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. Focused on chronic disease care, this strategy breaks down the boundaries between online communities for doctors and patients to promote better care and empower patients to take better care of themselves.

The Dutch study examines three different types of online health communities (OHCs) in which patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) participate. All are used in association with ParkinsonNet, a professional network that includes physicians and allied health professionals who treat these patients.

In general, the authors define an OHC as "an Internet-based platform that unites groups of individuals with a shared goal or similar interest regardless of their whereabouts." That could include patients with a particular condition, a group of healthcare professionals with a shared medical interest, or both. Through an OHC, these people can interact via blogs, chats, forums and/or wikis.

The best-known example of such a community in the U.S. is PatientsLikeMe, which encompasses multiple forums for patients with various conditions. Physicians here have their own online communities, such as Sermo and KevinMD.

In Holland, "closed" OHCs -- which include groups for PD, dermatology, stroke, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, fertility, and cancer care -- are accessible either to healthcare professionals only, or to professionals and patients if they're connected to a particular clinic. All participants may contribute to forums, but care teams don't answer individual patient questions because of privacy concerns.

"Open" OHCs, also known as community forums, may include patients, their caregivers, and healthcare professionals. In the open OHC for Parkinson's disease, patients use the community forum for online peer support and discussions with health professionals, according to the study. Often, it points out, fellow patients provide useful answers, which may alleviate the pressure on health professionals.

Another type of online community, known as the personal health community (PHC), is governed by an individual patient who can invite providers and caregivers to participate. In a PHC, the patient can communicate online with his or her care team about particular health problems. The PHC includes a personal health record that can be accessed by the patient's care team.

The chief advantages of OHCs, according to the report's authors, include facilitation for the exchange of medical experience and knowledge; enhancing interdisciplinary collaboration across institutions and traditional echelons; providing a platform to support self- management; and the ability to improve patient-centered care.

"OHCs offer a platform for supporting medical decision-making and interdisciplinary collaboration across professionals caring for complex patients," the authors said. "OHCs enable communication between community members who are not able to have face-to-face interaction at any point in time. Moreover, OHCs bridge geographical distances and enable interaction across institutions and traditional echelons."

While this sounds like the kind of professional collaboration that an accountable care organization -- rather than a social network -- is designed to promote, the authors also point out that OHCs are structured to engage patients. "Chronic patients using online communication tools become more knowledgeable, feel better socially supported and empowered, and have improved behavioral and clinical outcomes compared to nonusers," they explained.

People who join these communities seem to be highly motivated. Over a 12-month period, the study said, 54% of the Parkinson and ParkinsonNet community members generated new content or posted a comment.

But the authors acknowledged that in Holland, as in this country, financial incentives and cultural norms will need to change in order for this social networking approach to have widespread success. "The implementation of OHCs into clinical practice demands a paradigm shift in control and power, out of the hands of those who deliver care, into the hands of those who receive it," they wrote.

In the U.S., patients are more likely to share information about their own or others' health experiences on a social media site such as Facebook or Twitter than participate in online health communities. But about a fifth of respondents in a PWC survey said they'd joined a health forum or community. About 140,000 of them belong to PatientsLikeMe.

The PWC researchers said, "PatientsLikeMe demonstrates that despite privacy concerns, many consumers are open to sharing information via social media."

U.S. physicians, however, are less interested in sharing with their patients online. Most physicians who have been invited to "friend" a patient on Facebook, for example, have declined. Doctors' top social media sites include physician online communities and LinkedIn.

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Social Media Policies for Physicians: Good or Bad!

Social Media Policies for Physicians: Good or Bad! | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media guidelines for physicians frequently focus on the need for doctors to separate their personal from their professional identities, but those types of policies get social media all wrong, according to a viewpoint recently published in JAMA.

Instead, the viewpoint's authors suggest a simpler, more straightforward means for physicians to assess potential social media activity: Is what you're about to say appropriate for a doctor to talk about in public?

"When a physician asks, 'Should I post this on social media?' the answer does not depend on whether the content is professional or personal but instead depends on whether it is appropriate for a physician in a public space," write the authors - Matthew DeCamp, MD, PhD; Thomas Koenig, MD; and Margaret Chisolm, MD - from Johns Hopkins University.

But for those who remain unconvinced, the authors offer these four reasons why, for physicians, it simply isn't feasible to separate personal and professional identities:It's operationally impossible: With minimal effort and information, anyone can do a web search that quickly connects a physician's personal content to her professional content - assuming both types of content exist. And if both types of content do exist, there's no way to keep them separated, when a connection between the two is just a Google search away.

Lack of user consensus: Despite recommendations from groups such as the American College of Physicians and the Federation of State Medical Boards, some physicians remain unconvinced of the need to maintain separation between personal and professional content. For some, blurring the lines between the two is part of the reason to use social media in the first place, as doing so can level hierarchies and increase transparency, the authors say.

They're often the same thing: Separating personal and professional identities is inconsistent with the concept of professional identity. In other words, professional identify is determined to at least some extent by personal identity. For example, medical students undergo identity changes from student to professional and from consumer of medical services to provider.

Those personal identity transitions help shape who they are as professionals. "When recommendations fail to acknowledge the complex, mutable nature of professional identity and its connection to personal identity, the recommendations fail to offer the unambiguous, practical guidance that is needed," the authors write.It could be harmful: Doctors aren't required to avoid personal contact with patients offline, so why should they be required to do so when they're using social media?

In small or rural communities in particular, such encounters can be unavoidable, and they can even be beneficial to both doctor and patient. The unrealistic expectation that physicians need to maintain two separate identities can carry with it a "psychological or physical burden," the authors write.The authors stress that they aren't proposing that doctors should "eliminate boundaries," or that "anything goes" on social media.

Rather, the key to resolving physicians' "online identity crisis" lies in recognizing that social media exist in primarily public spaces, not in exclusively professional or exclusively personal ones

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Sharing Experiences Online Makes It Easier To Deal With Cancer

Sharing Experiences Online Makes It Easier To Deal With Cancer | Social Media and Healthcare |

Personal cancer blogs abound online. They can be heart-wrenching. They can be inspiring. Many offer comfort and hope to others with a diagnosis. Just look at Healthline’s list of the 24 Best Breast Cancer Health Blogs of 2013: Nancy Stordahl explores the theme of loss on Nancy’s Point, ChemoBabe is “edgy and ever-ready for battle,” and Shari Linders shares her problem-solving outlook on “The Best Breast Cancer Ever.”

The instinct to be public about coping with a serious illness will become more common as the generation that grew up with blogging and social media ages, but for most cancer patients, starting a blog is still the exception, not the rule.

Is it generally a good idea for a cancer patient to chronicle their experiences online? Thefirst study to examine this question in a controlled experiment suggests that yes, it is, and that maybe doctors should actually suggest it.

Annette Stanton, a researcher at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, got the idea for the study when she heard the story of a tech-savvy woman who helped her two sisters--both diagnosed with breast cancer a few years apart--learn to set up a website so they could share their experiences.

Stanton essentially did the same with a group of 44 breast cancer patients. She ran a short workshop teaching them how to use Project Connect Online, a web platform she set up for the purposes of the study, that allowed the women to customize similar sites and control privacy setting to make their updates only as public as they chose (for example, their sites wouldn’t show up in Google search).

After six months, she compared their mental health to a control group of patients who hadn't created websites. Statistically, the women who wrote had fewer depressive symptoms, better moods, and a higher appreciation for life than those who didn’t, she found--a result that was especially pronounced for women who were undergoing active treatment at the time, she reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology this month.

Though more nuanced studies are needed, especially on men and for other chronic diseases, Statton imagines that doctors might at least suggest the idea of setting up an online diary, whether on Facebook, Wordpress, or any number of existing blogging platforms dedicated to the cancer community.

“It’s really easy to offer it as option,” says Stanton. “Some women, we knew, really didn’t want to share all that on Facebook.” In fact, other research Stanton has done shows that simply writing in a diary also helps cancer patients.

Social media is the elephant in the room when it comes to sharing thoughts on any personal tragedy. On Facebook, many people restrict sharing to happy life events--marriage, birth--so that when a person posts about their depression or illness, it can be awkward for observers. Especially loosely connected ones. Personally, I felt a little voyeuristic reading the detailed Facebook updates from an acquaintance of mine, neither a stranger nor a good friend, who was diagnosed with cancer in her early 30s. There could be other downsides of being totally or even partially public, like being penalized at work for your illness.

But aside from potential catharsis, the experience of the women in Stanton’s study also suggests that a patient experiences other benefits from going public. Maybe she saves the emotional effort of having to explain the details of a latest setback or triumph over and over again, or maybe she gets unexpected help from a neighbor.

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Hashtag your health: Building a health record with likes, shares and checkins

Hashtag your health: Building a health record with likes, shares and checkins | Social Media and Healthcare |
Project Medyear aims to create health records on a social network, where patients share data in the name of empathy.

Set your status. Check in with your symptoms. Share photos. Tag parts of the body. Hashtag to join conversations. Personiform‘s Project Medyear combines Twitter and Google Plus with a political campaign-style health record sharing patient movement.

It aspires to be NoMoreClipboard on a Friday night–less official, more social. And Personiform’s kicked off a campaign on Indiegogo to raise $80,000 by Sept. 19 to mobilize field operations and volunteers for the movement its website supports.

The site–the “first-ever consumer health information exchange”–would launch Feb. 14, 2014.(The technology itself is already fully funded.)

The idea for the site stemmed from the growing trend of patients taking to social media for healthcare advice, in part due to physicians’ time crunch. But because the social networks don’t really connect physicians and patients, they miss out on the opportunity to learn about and help their patients. (Not to mention the questionable advice they could be getting.) CareRings (a la Google Plus’s Circles) allow users to choose who they share what information with.

And that information can be as wide as general statuses to full-fledged clinical records. If your physician joins, you can even share medical history, data and so on with him there. In theory, clinicians, caregivers, patients and physicians could unite using this tool to develop more holistic (if unofficial) records.

(According to the company website, the data is secure.)

According to the site, here are Project Medyear’s everyday uses:

  • Compare health records with a stranger that has the same disease

  • Let your doctor know the symptoms have been flaring up a lot recently
  • Remind your brother to take a parent to the doctor today
  • Invite a new doctor into the family health conversation
  • Gain insight about an upcoming procedure from those who’ve had it before
  • Show your support to a good friend going through a hard time
  • Get your latest medical records and test results all in one place
  • Share the kind of images you don’t want all over Facebook


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3 ways Google is making it easier to get health information

3 ways Google is making it easier to get health information | Social Media and Healthcare |

Obesity—now officials recognized by the American Medical Association as a disease—can lead to increased risk for other diseases: hypertension, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, just to name a few. As a result, many Americans are looking for ways to get healthier and make smarter health decisions through diet and exercise. Those are good starting points, but changing habits can be easier said than done.

Google wants to motivate people to get and stay healthy by providing easier ways to access health information. Here are just a few ways they are doing it:

  • Nutritional information is now easily available for over 1,000 foods in search. By helping people get quick information about what they eat, it will help them make smarter and healthier diet decisions.
  • Using voice search on the Google app, you can now quickly find out how many calories are in all types of foods, from simple ones without nutrition labels like fruits to complex ones like a burrito.
  • Android devices now provide detailed biking routes for those looking for alternative ways to exercise instead of going to the gym. The maps feature colored lines showing trails and paths without cars and streets that have dedicated bike lanes.

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    Hospitals turn to social media for 'virtual' patient advice

    Hospitals turn to social media for 'virtual' patient advice | Social Media and Healthcare |

    Hospitals may have been slow to use social media platforms but many are finally taking advantage of all they have to offer and seeking input from patients on how they can improve care and services, reported the Wall Street Journal.

    The article cites examples of hospitals across the country turning to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest to recruit patients and their families to serve as advisors, asking for their opinions via questionnaires and surveys on planned improvements in care, new services and even facility names.

    Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., for example, has set up a "virtual advisory council" on a private social network, so it can ask parents to voice opinions and advice regarding appointment scheduling, doctors' bedside manners and other hospital concerns, according to WSJ.

    Similarly, the University of Michigan Health System, which encompasses three hospitals, 40 outpatient locations and more than 120 clinics throughout Michigan and northern Ohio, relies on "e-advisors" to answer approximately 35 online surveys a year, and a teen council communicates by responding to questions via its own Facebook page.

    Concord (N.H.) Hospital, which includes 295 licensed beds and 238 staffed beds, is using social media to develop meaningful, two-way conversations and, in turn, build brand awareness and customer loyalty, according to the Concord Monitor. And Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, an academic medical center also located in New Hampshire, has hired a full-time social media coordinator to reach out to patients and their families.

    These endeavors, while helpful on a local level, are part of a larger movement from the federal Medicare program to use patient satisfaction surveys, including questions on the hospital's responsiveness to concerns, to determine hospital payments.

    According to a guide recently released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), patient engagement, including the incorporation of the patient's perspective into the planning, delivery and evaluation of healthcare services, is essential to eliminate communication gaps. Furthermore, AHRQ instructs hospitals to form patient-family advisory councils. The idea behind this recommendation is that getting to know patients facilitates focusing on the aspects of the hospital experience that mean the most to the patients.

    Instead of having to recruit patients and family members to advise on services and facilities at the institutions, through social media, hospitals can obtain input from patients and families more efficiently. "The avenues through which patient voices can be captured and heard are expanding in rapid and creative ways," said Jason Wolf, president of the Beryl Institute, a membership organization providing grants and resources to help hospitals improve patient satisfaction, to the WSJ.

    But Roddy Young, Dartmouth-Hitchcock's vice president for communications and marketing, said not all social media interactions are positive, reported Concord Monitor. Patients sometimes change their opinions from one day to the next, and often use the platform to voice complaints.

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    5 simple social media practices to start with

    5 simple social media practices to start with | Social Media and Healthcare |

    Implementing social media into your practice can look like a hard job; you might not even know where to start. Your patients are turning to the Internet for answers when it comes to their health care. Social media can be the best place for them to go. In the past, word-of-mouth has been considered the best form of patient referrals. Now, social media serves as the modern-day word-of-mouth.

    So, what tricks can your marketing department do to jumpstart your social media activity? Here are five easy steps to take:

    • Create a Facebook Business page and share daily highlights, tagging other practices and community members on your page. Shedding light on other valuable care providers in your area will be beneficial to your patients and will build trust between your practice, or hospital, and your referring community.
    • If you have a Twitter account, follow other providers in your community, health care reporters or members of the media and organizations that share valuable information with your patients about local events. On Fridays, you can participate in Follow Fridays by using #FF and tagging influential members on Twitter to connect with them and gain recognition in the community.
    • You can also participate in Tweet chats, which occur weekly. Check out Symlur’s Health Care Hash Tag Project for a list of top health care influencers and a schedule for when each chat will be occurring.
    • Creating a YouTube channel can be a great way to share information with your patients. Video content is great for SEO (search engine optimization) and it allows you to show patients what you’re all about as opposed to just telling them. Some ideas for video content are virtual tours, patient testimonials or what to expect at our center. These videos do not have to be Spielberg masterpieces, it is only important to start creating content.
    • Pinterest does not have to just be for recipes and wedding planning. Have someone creative on your team put together a few images with inspirational quotes, advice or facts to share on your blog then share on Pinterest.

    Remember to share the links to your social media accounts on your website, blog and in emails and keep in mind ways to drive patients, staff and community members to your pages through creative campaigns.

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    Social media helps locate source of epidemic

    Social media helps locate source of epidemic | Social Media and Healthcare |

    In the past, epidemiology experts took a lot of hours to determine how and where health epidemics would come from.

    Now, with the help of new communication technology—specifically social media—epidemiologists can quickly identify and solve health outbreaks. In one example, Facebook users in Minnesota were able to identify tainted food as the source of a strep throat outbreak.

    According to a recent report published by the Clinical Infectious Diseases, 18 out of 63 people who attended a high school dance banquet started to develop strep throat within three days of the banquet.

    After seeing a large number of posts on Facebook related to strep throat, one parent alerted the Minnesota health department that this wasn’t just a coincidence. The department then conducted phone interviews with attendees and their family members and analyzed DNA from strep bacteria samples.

    They eventually determined the strep came from a pasta dish eaten by many of the party-goers at the banquet. The health department also learned that this particular pasta dish was prepared by a parent who reported having strep throat three weeks earlier.

    Social media may have not cured the disease, but it did help establish that the disease was caused by an infectious agent that affected many and was not a random incident.

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    More Hospitals Use Social Media to Gather Feedback from Patients' Families

    More Hospitals Use Social Media to Gather Feedback from Patients' Families | Social Media and Healthcare |

    Hospitals are turning to Facebook,  Twitter and other forms of social media to recruit patients and their families as advisers. They are asking parents for input, via questionnaires and surveys, on improvements in care, new services and even new facility names. At the University of Michigan Health System, these "e-advisors" answer about 35 online surveys a year, and a teen council responds to questions via its own Facebook page. In Boston, advisers at Brigham and Women's Hospital help edit patient brochures to make sure they don't use too much medical jargon.

    The efforts are part of a larger movement to engage patients and families in care and enhance the hospital experience. The federal Medicare program is basing some hospital payments on patient satisfaction surveys, including questions about how responsive a hospital is to concerns. Similar surveys are being developed for pediatric hospitals.

    With social media, a hospital can cast a wider net for more feedback than it can expect from a traditional patient and family council composed of a small group of appointees who meet once a month or so.

    "The avenues through which patient voices can be captured and heard are expanding in rapid and creative ways," says Jason Wolf, president of the Beryl Institute, a membership organization providing grants and resources to help hospitals improve patient satisfaction. Virtual advisers, electronic surveys and social media "provide great reach, more rapid feedback and a process for engagement that can have significant impact on efforts to improve the patient experience," he says.

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    Social Media for Healthcare Professionals

    Social Media for Healthcare Professionals | Social Media and Healthcare |

    When we think about the boundaries of communication technology and social media, we tend to put students, residents, and faculty into the same bucket. Policies for one are the policies for the others. But these are all very different people with respect to their ability to understand and handle their public presence.

    The latitude given a publicly seasoned attending should be different than that of third-year medical student. For example, I encourage students to avoid online discussion about the hospitals they are rotating in. This is because:

    • They don’t yet know what represents the normal workings of a hospital. There are things that seem strange or unjust to a trained eye but happen for a good reason. Perhaps more important, the viewing public doesn’t understand what students don’t know.
    • Students are sorting out what represents the thoughts and ideas for their close personal network versus those for global publication. They’re learning which conversations belong where.
    • They’re figuring out their public presence.

    Students come to medicine with a relatively self-focused view of their networked world, and don’t yet understand how they fit into the broader networked world. As they mature professionally, they recognize that they are part of a broader community, which brings accountability. This progression has real importance when we expose ourselves to the great wide open.

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    Healthcare Get Started With Twitter

    Healthcare Get Started With Twitter | Social Media and Healthcare |
    Twitter is a Social Network where users send and read short messages of upto 140 characters.
    Twitter is a Cross between Text messaging, Blogging and Instant Messaging and is called the ‘SMS’ of the Internet.
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    Study: Twitter useful for food tracking

    Study: Twitter useful for food tracking | Social Media and Healthcare |

    A study published earlier this summer in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that Twitter can help people capture dietary intake and behavior.

    The data from the study was integrated into Eat It Tweet It, an app in the Apple App store created to integrate with Twitter and offer users a portal to tweet exclusively about their diet. The app, created at New Mexico State University, includes preset hashtags categorized as behavior or food and a camera feature to take a picture of the meal.

    The study acknowledges many software applications exist for tracking food data, but lack the “empirical evidence supporting their efficacy as health promotion tools”. Researcher Melanie Hingle’s objective was to test the feasibility of Twitter to capture young adults’ dietary behavior and visualize this data using Twitter’s analytic tool. Upon finishing the study, the participants completed a survey to determine if they found this method viable for regularly recording food data.

    After the study, users made various comments about the feasibility of the program. Overall, 38 of the 50 participants found Twitter easy to use while five thought the character limit presented a challenge to accurately reporting data. Participants also suggested creating their own hashtags to better describe food choice and reasons for eating. Eighteen participants wanted feedback on their diet habits and suggestions for how to improve their diet.

    The study’s other objective was to create data visualizations of the tweets, which Hingle’s team was able to do with the information from hashtags and time of day of tweets. The study authors believe that future iterations of data visualizations could include heat maps that integrate phenotype of sociodemographic  data.

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    Why Health Care Needs a Dose of Social Media?

    Why Health Care Needs a Dose of Social Media? | Social Media and Healthcare |

    Health care isn't inherently social. It doesn't typically evoke positive emotions—you're calling the doctor because you're sick, not because it's #ThrowbackThursday. Other experiences, such as shopping, dining and travel, are inherently social. As a result, these industries have leveraged social media to improve the consumer experience. 

    According to the Journal of Internet Medical Research, 60 percent of adults surveyed used the Internet to find health information. Meanwhile, less than 15 percent actually engaged in social media to discuss health with their peers. This is largely because the health-care industry has failed to enable social opportunities for consumers, because it has not had an incentive to truly focus on the consumer. However, this will soon change with the Affordable Care Act's mandates on patient outcomes.

    Currently, a staggering 75 percent of health-care costs are related to preventable illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and asthma. Financial incentives for providers to improve patient outcomes will create a greater focus on prevention and a shift toward patient responsibility. This means the industry should start to view the patients as "consumers" and find ways to improve their overall satisfaction and increase engagement. One clear way is going the same route that retail, dining, travel and other consumer industries have gone: social. 

    It's important to recognize that some of the recent patient engagement advancements in health care are steps in the right direction. Take employee wellness programs, for example. It's a great approach—creating a healthier working environment, offering incentives and using colleagues as inspiration. But adding a social layer to this—one that combines your coworker's voice with your spouse's, children's, best friend's and even a stranger who is experiencing the same challenges—can lead to long-term systemic changes. 

    Some health issues are a result of individual behaviors, but using the people around us can help change those. As Nielson reported, 92 percent of the major influences in our lives come from those we know, and because so much of our interaction now occurs online, it's time to use social media in health in a bigger way.

    At Audax Health, we believe that going social leads to better health and a better health system, and the industry is poised to be reinvented by social media. As this change gets underway, here are three lessons learned on what's proved successful in social media to increase engagement and improve consumer outcomes:

    1. Consumption

    People need to be able to visualize their health.

    This trend is evident with the popularity of platforms like Instagram and Pinterest: We like seeing information through graphics. These social sites have given us a more effective way of browsing through content with a constant stream of free-flowing material at the tips of our fingers. We find ourselves scrolling through endless pages of "stackable" content, being drawn to the visuals. There is infinite data in health care to draw from to develop these engaging graphics for users— presenting it in a way that's not only easy to consume but to understand. Technical health jargon makes it difficult for consumers to connect with their health. There's great information on medical charts, but consumers can't read them, so why not create a visual health report? A 20-page whitepaper about hypertension is useless, but a personalized infographic that's intuitive and simple can help them visualize a story about their individual health.

    2. Connection

    People need to be able to freely share their health status with those who most influence their environment.

    Social media is about making it easy for large populations to connect with one another. People enjoy talking to and hearing from their online networks. A peer's review of a product or service can be the deciding factor of whether or not we choose to use it. A recent study of social media trends found that 78 percent of shoppers first refer to their Facebook friends' opinions before making a decision to visit stores. The health-care industry should leverage this behavior of peer-sharing and observed behavior. We can influence people to take the first step to better health by changing the conversation from "guidelines suggest …" to "people like you. ..."

    3. Integration

    Social media is at its best when everything works together

    Any good social platform plays nice in the sandbox. But social media in health care right now is a series of walled gardens. There are several great digital health tools available, but they have notoriously low adoption rates because they lack immediate value for the end user. None of them are working together, and they are sending users in too many different directions. By integrating core services such as provider directories and health savings accounts, and using social media to reimagine them, we can improve the user experience and give them functions they actually want and need in one connected place. Think health-care provider directory meets Yelp, and health savings account meets Groupon.

    Managing our health has always been fundamentally important, but with skyrocketing costs and the high prevalence of preventable diseases, we need to take more proactive steps to encouraging people to better handle their health and wellness. Technology and social media have come to play an incredibly meaningful role in our society, and using the existing mediums and creating social tools specifically for the industry, we can begin to arm consumers to be more involved in their managing their health. Sectors including retail, fashion, dining and entertainment are already using social well, and at Audax, we're helping the health-care industry take a page from their book to improve health and lower costs.

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    How the Internet and social media are changing healthcare

    How the Internet and social media are changing healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

    You wake up feeling a slight tickle in your throat. You try and shake it off and drink lots of water. After a few hours, it’s still there. Instead of calling your mom or making a doctor appointment, you head to the Internet.  Today, anyone with a computer and a connection can get online and find a variety of results, ranging from simple sore throat to the more serious, like bronchitis and asthma.

    But just because we can doesn’t mean we should. In a world where almost everyone is online and can easily find and provide medical solace, is it really, truly a good idea to consider social media and the Web a reliable source of healthcare?

    Doctors and hospitals are on the social media bandwagon

    Today, more and more members of the medical profession are embracing social media for sharing helpful medical information and providing patient care. A Pricewaterhouse Cooper conducted survey asked over a thousand patients and over a hundred healthcare executives what they thought of the way many healthcare companies are utilizing social media and the Web, and results show the most trusted resources online are those posted by doctors (60 percent), followed by nurses (56 percent), and hospitals (55 percent).

    Social media is becoming more and more utilized by hospitals and medical professionals as a means to convey general health information, sometimes even personalized help. Amanda Mauck, Interactive Marketing Specialist for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, thinks engaging with patients via social media is a great way to empathize with those who need comfort, not just provide relevant health news. Aside from the latest news about the hospital, Le Bonheur’s Facebook page mostly contains relatable family stories and parenting advice. “Our users love photos and [success] stories, [especially those] that showcase our team’s compassion and ability to go above and beyond for a family,” says Mauck. The hospital does receive private messages inquiring about specific medical conditions, but they never address them publicly on their Facebook page, usually recommending patients to direct their questions to the hospital’s general contact form or contact them by phone. “When a family posts a comment about a medical issue, we like to encourage the family to email our general account. We do this for a couple of reasons: One, to protect that patient’s privacy, and two, it is easier to put the family in touch with the right person on our team for help,” Mauck explains.

    Kevin Pho, M.D., an internal medicine physician and founder of, however, notes the potential for misinformation on the Internet is high. “The problem is, you can’t trust everything you read online,” Pho says. “For instance, consider that fewer than half of websites offered accurate facts on sleep safety for infants, or that pro-anorexia websites were shared more frequently on YouTube.”  According to Pho, health professionals need a strong social media presence to establish themselves as reputable sources as well as to properly point patients toward legitimate sites to be used as secondary sources.

    While Pho uses Facebook more for personal reasons, he uses Twitter professionally on a daily basis to retweet provocative healthcare opinions and news stories, as well as curate information that’s relevant to his profession. “Health reform tends to drive many of the health opinions on the web.  To truly fix healthcare, I believe that we need solutions from both ends of the political spectrum, so I avoid sharing opinion pieces that are overly partisan or dogmatic,” Pho says. His “essential list” includes a variety of healthcare stakeholders, including physicians, social media experts, and policy analysts. 

    The likes of Facebook and Twitter not only give medical professionals a platform to connect with patients, but with fellow doctors as well. Doximity is like Facebook for physicians, where general M.D.s can easily consult specialists for cases they need assistance with. 

    The challenges to Internet healthcare

    Of course there’s a downside to doctors becoming too available online. The Internet is almost always the opposite of private – sensitive subjects like physical and mental ailments can easily be revealed by the person suffering from them or the doctor treating them through a tweet or a comment. Social relationships between doctor and patient can also be easily muddled; many health institutions discourage staff from “friending” patients on Facebook and other social media platforms at the risk of jeopardizing treatment as well as reputations.

    The Wall Street Journal mentions a survey published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine back in 2011 that revealed 35 percent of respondents who are practicing physicians have received friend requests from patients on their personal social network accounts, and 58 percent of them always reject them.

    “I see Twitter as a higher-risk environment, as it’s basically an open forum.”

    Thomas Lee, M.D. of the Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center in Westerville, Ohio raises a valid point: Social media is a difficult media for a physician because of HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. “It is very difficult to talk about medical care without personalizing the content, and you can’t personalize content without violating HIPAA,” Lee explains. “In addition, the practice of medicine requires a thorough history of the patient’s current condition and a thorough physical exam before we can render a diagnosis and treatment plan. A person with a severe headache for several months can range from a simple headache to migraines to an allergic reaction to a life threatening brain tumor. How would a doctor – or a computer program – differentiate between these diagnoses without physically talking and touching the patient? Without the opportunity to directly talk to a patient and examine them, our ability to be accurate is significantly mitigated.”

    Lee avoids dishing out professional and medical advice on his Twitter and Facebook accounts, but admits that both help in making himself appear more accessible to his patients and staff. Although he posts frequently, it is unusual for him to engage in a dynamic conversation online.

    “I see Twitter as a higher-risk environment, as it’s basically an open forum,” Dr. Rob Lamberts says of his minimal use of the micro-blogging site for his own practice; he only utilizes it occasionally to float a medical question to his colleagues. He has used Facebook in the past to advise people regarding a study on Zithromax, but other than that, Lamberts believes social networking sites are more for marketing and general communication than for medical application.

    Scott Linabarger, Senior Director of Multichannel Content Marketing for the Cleveland Clinic, believes that nothing should take the place of having a conversation with your physician. “We cannot provide specific advice, nor can we diagnose users via social media. Our information is general and is intended to provide guidance. Our posts are about the users, not about Cleveland Clinic,” Linabarger explains. According to Cleveland Clinic’s over 450 thousand Facebook followers, they want health and wellness tips, information about diseases and conditions, and news about the latest in medical innovation from the hospital’s Facebook page. The general information is usually presented by Cleveland Clinic through images, a manner they have proven to garner a higher response rate compared to purely text content.

    What about online therapy and similar practices that conduct virtual sessions? A study conducted by University of Sydney researchers on the effectiveness of Internet-delivered Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (iCBT) examined e-couch, a free online program that offers various modules that provide anxiety and depression assistance. The results reveal the program to be more effective in alleviating mild to moderate depression and cardiovascular ailments as well as physical health issues than other methods of searching for health advice online.

    “Essentially, online therapy will help serve the nearly 3 out of 4 people who have mental health problems but do not currently get any kind of help,” says Lawrence Shapiro, Ph.D., President of Talk to An Expert, Inc., a HIPAA-compliant e-therapy company that launched quite recently. “It is particularly important for people who cannot get to an office for conventional help because they are housebound, in remote areas, physically disabled, and so on.  Online therapy lowers the bar for people who need help.”

    “There are a few studies that have been done suggesting that online therapy is just as effective as in-office therapy,” Shapiro continues. “According to the American Psychological Association, almost 25 percent of people with mental health problems don’t get the help they need with the current mental health delivery system. Online therapy extends the reach and reduces the cost of therapeutic services.” With the emergence and acceptance of e-therapy as a legitimate form of healthcare, any patient who cannot afford to schedule appointments during office hours or is undergoing a problem in a public place (think of someone with an intense fear of flying freaking out at the airport, or someone injured and traumatized at a disaster site) can receive instant psychological services.

    Dr. Internet, at your service

    According to a report compiled by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, one in three American adults have used the Web to figure out a medical issue. Of all those users hoping to find solutions online, 46 percent thought they needed to seek professional medical assistance to be certain, 38 percent believed they could handle their ailments in the privacy and comfort of their own homes, and 11 percent ended up doing both or something in between. The accuracy of accessed information online is a different matter all together – 41 percent of those who sought medical advice got diagnostic confirmation from actual physicians and an extra two percent only got partial confirmation. 18 percent were met with disagreement or a different diagnosis, while one percent got an uncertain reaction.

    As an Internet savvy patient, it’s always good to be prepared – or to first look for alternative, quick, and easy (and risk-free) methods to address a less serious medical issue before committing money and time to a medical consultation and medication. Facebook is a rich source for fitness-focused pages that inspire users to adopt healthier lifestyles. In one click you can become a member of a community that will help you with any fitness-or-health-related questions through their personal experiences.

    “I do my best to not complain a lot at home. Instead, I use social media sites like Twitter and Tumblr to express how I’m feeling without having to burden my loved ones.

    A lot of patients suffering from serious ailments also turn to Facebook for support. Dana Baker – a thyroid cancer survivor – has been a long-time sufferer of a long list of ailments, including chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, anxiety, and depression. She is a member of various support groups on Facebook and uses them to sympathize with other people suffering from similar conditions. “When you are chronically ill, it is emotionally draining not on just yourself but also on your friends and family. It becomes very difficult for your loved ones, because they have to see you suffer, and the majority of the time there is nothing they can do to help you,” Baker says. “I do my best to not complain a lot at home. Instead, I use social media sites like Twitter and Tumblr to express how I’m feeling without having to burden my loved ones. I use support groups on Facebook to talk with other people, share our experiences with doctors, medications, and alternative treatments. We also share coping strategies.”

    Aside from using social networking sites to keep in touch with fellow patients, Baker also uses Google to look up prospective doctors, sites like WebMD to look up any prescription medication, as well as condition-specific sites like and (for thyroid cancer). She also uses an iPhone app that allows her to keep in touch with her doctors via direct message and they usually respond within the day.

    The Internet can also bring the world’s home remedies to your desktop. Trusting the Web to prescribe a homemade concoction might sound sketchy, but by using the right keywords and employing responsible Internet navigation, you can find legitimate “all natural” solutions for common mild ailments. Sites like Home Remedies Web encourage healthcare at home – their list of natural cures address a wide range of common problems, from acid reflux to yeast infections. It also features comments from people who’ve tried the remedies so you have an idea what you’re getting yourself into.

    Based on Pew Research Center’s findings, a large percentage of people online prefer taking matters into their own hands, thinking it’s enough to be armed with enough Web search prowess to beat any disease. The trouble is, the wealth of information leaves too much room for guessing – patients can easily underestimate a medical condition, and too often they lean toward inaccurate and scary data. This isconfirmed by research conducted by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, which reveals that the less familiar you are with the patient and the condition (meaning being diagnosed by someone besides a search engine and your own queries), the better the chance you have at finding out what’s really wrong.

    “I encourage patients to go online and inform themselves about their medical conditions.  Patients deserve to be well-informed, and the transparency of the Internet allows them access to information that used to be gated by a provider,” according to Pho. “The problem, as previously mentioned, is the quality of the information on the Web. There’s too much information available. Physicians need to act as curators of that information, and help patients sort out what’s helpful and what’s not.”  

    The middle ground and the bottom line: social media and healthcare can go hand in hand

    “Social media isn’t always a secure forum; there’s no way to confirm whether the person on the other end is a legitimate patient or physician,” Pho says. Most hospitals and medical institutions provide healthcare social media policies for their physicians and staff, and as long as these guidelines are respected, social media is a great tool to bring patients and doctors together. 

    The problem arises when patients tend to believe that they have the worst diagnosis out of the many possibilities and create unnecessary anxiety within themselves.”

    Patients should use this same compromising policy as well. “I don’t mind informed and well educated patients at all,” says Dr. Amit Malhotra, M.D. of Smart Health Technology. “The problem arises [when] patients tend to believe that they have the worst diagnosis out of the many possibilities and create unnecessary anxiety within themselves. It is important to educate yourself and then have a good conversation regarding your problem with your doctor [so he can] guide you through your problem and address your concerns.” Instead of looking up diagnoses, patients can use the Internet as a positive resource for ways to stay healthy and to research sites that provide credible health content. “Patients should ask, ‘who funds it?  Who’s writing that information?  Are there any commercial relationships?  Is there an agenda?’ As a rule of thumb, I recommend health information from ‘.gov’ websites, such as Medline Plus, or ‘.org’ websites that belong to hospitals or medical centers, like the Mayo Clinic,” Pho suggests.

    According to Lee Aase, Mayo Clinic’s Director for Social Media, aside from posting general health information, it is also important to offer content that invites patient involvement. “We do a ‘Myth or Matter of Fact’ feature each week in connection with our Saturday radio program in which we post a frequently heard saying about a disease or condition, and then invite users to say whether they think the statement is true or whether it is a myth. We reveal the answer on the page after radio program airs,” Aase mentions.

    The world today is technologically driven, and it’s in our best interest – whether you’re a physician catering to your patients’ queries or an individual seeking proper medical treatment – to keep up with these advancements, especially when it comes to accessing healthcare. But even the Internet needs to be taken with a grain of salt, and in the case of healthcare, it’s in everyone’s interest to proceed with caution and skepticism. 

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    Introduction To Social Media For Healthcare Professionals

    Social MediaFor HealthcareProfessionals

    Social Media Is Not A Passing Fad. The specific platforms may come and go but the act of connecting in the digital world will only grow, become more pervasive in our lives.You cannot afford to take a “wait-and-see approach.”The sooner your organization develops an activepresence, the less distance you will have to make uplater.

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    Patients’ and health professionals’ use of social media in healthcare: Motives, barriers and expectations.

    Patients’ and health professionals’ use of social media in healthcare: Motives, barriers and expectations. | Social Media and Healthcare |

    To investigate patients' and health professionals' (a) motives and use of social media for health-related reasons, and (b) barriers and expectations for health-related social media use.

    METHODS: We conducted a descriptive online survey among 139 patients and 153 health care professionals in obstetrics and gynecology. In this survey, we asked the respondents about their motives and use of social network sites (SNS: Facebook and Hyves), Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.RESULTS: Results showed that patients primarily used Twitter (59.9%), especially for increasing knowledge and exchanging advice and Facebook (52.3%), particularly for social support and exchanging advice. Professionals primarily used LinkedIn (70.7%) and Twitter (51.2%), for communication with their colleagues and marketing reasons. Patients' main barriers for social media use were privacy concerns and unreliability of the information. Professionals' main barriers were inefficiency and lack of skills. Both patients and professionals expected future social media use, provided that they can choose their time of social media usage.CONCLUSION: The results indicate disconcordance in patients' and professionals' motives and use of social media in health care.PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Future studies on social media use in health care should not disregard participants' underlying motives, barriers and expectations regarding the (non)use of social media.
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    Social Media is Serious Business

    Social Media is Serious Business | Social Media and Healthcare |

    One of the reasons that social media is still such a hurdle for health systems and hospitals lies in the fact that the technology supporting it changes quickly, therefore changing the way the audience views carefully crafted content.

    Take Apple's new operating system for the iPhone, iOS7. A new camera, web browsing capabilities, and file sharing features will impact the way content is viewed, meaning that marketing messages may have to be reconfigured to maintain a positive user experience and audience metrics.

    Facebook and LinkedIn are two other platforms that are continuously evolving, even when organizations aren't ready. The rapidly changing pace of technology and quantity of ways to communicate is enough to induce not only head-spinning, but head-burying (in the sand). Healthcare organizations are aware of the industry's reputation for being latecomers to social media, and most are at least acknowledging the need to join the conversation because patients expect it.

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    How The Mayo Clinic Became the Gold Standard for Social Media in Healthcare

    How The Mayo Clinic Became the Gold Standard for Social Media in Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

    The Mayo Clinic is the gold standard for the use of social media by healthcare organizations. The Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media [MCCSM]--yes, they have a whole center dedicated to social media--facilitates the use of social media throughout the Mayo Clinic and also works to help other hospitals, professionals and patients use social media to promote health education, health literacy and healthcare delivery worldwide.

    The Mayo Clinic has the most popular medical provider channel on YouTube and more than 450,000 “followers” on Twitter. They also an active Facebook page with over 300,000 connections. A pioneer in blogging, Mayo has a News BlogPodcast Blog and Sharing Mayo Clinic, a blog that enables patients and employees to tell stories about their Mayo Clinic experience.

    Lee Aase is the Director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. Lee has a background in politics and media relations and has led the Mayo Clinic into the forefront in healthcare social media. 

    When asked what his approach to social media marketing was, Lee answered that healthcare consumers want and need in-depth information and it is his job and the Mayo Clinic’s job to offer them that information. “The main idea is to understand that there is a thirst for information out there," said Lee. “When people get sick, they want information and they want it right away." 

    I then asked Lee what novel or interesting ideas he had tried out at Mayo Clinic. Lee started by telling me about the Social Media Network that Mayo created of 140 organizations and their employees to whom it provides social media tools, resources and guidance in the use of social media in healthcare. Individuals can join also – it’s free and easy to do – and you can obtain access to resources, webinars and all sorts of information about social media and its uses. 

    The MCCSM also offers a Social Media Residency – an extensive training program in the use of social media.  Participants can either sign up for an in-person course or an online option. And there is a Social Media Week at the Clinic with activities starting with Social Media Residency and ending with the member meeting for the Social Media Health Network. 

    They also offer a book, Bringing the Social Revolution to HealthCare, offer numerous webinars and have a Social Media Week every year, starting with a Social Media Residency course, continuing with a summit conference of lectures and discussion groups and ending with a Network meeting for members. They have an outside advisory board of key members who are active in healthcare social media and Lee lectures nationally and internationally on the use of social media in healthcare.

    One of Mayo Clinic’s key physicians and the Chair of Dental Specialties is Dr. Sreenivas Koka. Dr. Koka wanted to improve the quality of experience of patients coming to him for consultation. He had found that many patients were coming to him without clear understanding of questions they would be asked and several were also apprehensive about Dr. Koka’s understanding of English, as his name indicated foreign ethnicity. 

    Dr. Koka decided to make a video, introducing himself, putting his patients at ease, explaining what would be expected of them and the kinds of questions they could expect during the visit. He asks patients to think about their symptoms and any questions they have before they come to see him. As Dr. Koka grew up in London and has a British accent, any questions about his speaking and understanding English are allayed. 

    Lee explained that the Mayo Clinic is now conducting a study on how this video really helps patients. Some patients are being sent the video ahead of time, and some are not. “Dr. Koka knows right away who has seen the video and who has not,” Lee said. “The hypothesis is that this video will greatly reduce anxiety, increase visit efficiency and help overall patient satisfaction.”

    When asked what was the biggest lesson learned at Mayo, Lee answered, “The biggest lesson is that there is really no substitute for valuable content. Patients want in-depth great content. Interaction is important, but really, you need great content.”

    Lee’s takeaway advice to other healthcare social media managers out is to the point. “Just do it! You have to get hands-on experience and do a great job. Think big, start small and act fast. Do all that you can to prove yourself. Do a great job and then show what you have done. Prove yourself and you will get the support you need.”

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    10 Things Every Health Care Professional Should Know About Social Media

    10 Things Every Health Care Professional Should Know About Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

    Perhaps no term captures the 21st-century zeitgeist quite like “social media.” Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, LinkedIn, Instagram—the ability to share across broad networks instantly, unfettered by geographic distance, has changed how we do business and transformed our interpersonal relationships. Now, online reviews and ubiquitous mobile communications change the way people connect with their doctors. Rating sites such as Healthgrades, ZocDoc, and Vitals increasingly affect the reputation of health care professionals and the success of their work.

    Last week, ColumbiaDoctors and the CUMC Office of Communications presented “Social Media for Health Care Professionals.” The event featured presentations and panel discussions with social media experts: Columbia University Chief Digital Officer Sree Sreenivasan; the editorial director of MedPage Today, Ivan Oransky, MD; the former surgeon and anonymous writer who blogs under the name Skeptical Scalpel; P&S professor, oncologist, and popular blogger Azra Raza, MD; Tamar Schiller, DDS, MBA, of the College of Dental Medicine; Gina Czark, director of social media for NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital; and, from the CUMC Office of Communications, Chief Communications Officer Doug Levy and digital strategist Michele Hoos.

    Presentations focused on the basics of social media, how the modern medical professional can and should be involved in social media, and how to avoid embarrassing social media interactions that can affect the reputation of both the professional and the institution.

    Top 10 tips offered at the event:
    1. Consider social media a dialogue, not a monologue. Many mistakenly think of social media as a broadcasting platform, yet it is most useful for promoting conversation. For example, responding to Tweets and mentioning people in your posts via their Twitter handle draws them—as well as their followers—into the conversation.

    2. Understand that the impact of social media is not in who follows you but who follows who follows you. Though you may have only a few followers, the reach of your posts increases exponentially with each person who shares your material. Focus also on the quality of followers, not just numbers.

    3. Share useful information. Our primary goal in social media is to educate, which means you should share information that people beyond CUMC may find useful. This could be a new scientific finding, health advice, commentary on a medical or science story in the news—and much more.

    4. Accept that the line between professional and private is eroding. Even if your social media bio does not identify you as a Columbia University affiliate, anything you say or post online can damage both your reputation and Columbia’s. Do not rely on disclaimers to protect you or Columbia. Remember that patients and research subjects count on us to keep their information private.

    5. Be an early tester of technology but not an early adopter. It’s nearly impossible to stay abreast of the ever-changing world of apps and websites. Find a medium that suits your needs—be it a blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.—and develop it. Each platform does different work; find what works for you.

    7. Get noticed by standing out. We are bombarded with things to read and watch and listen to; the average person gives a blog post or Tweet only a glance. Make your material engaging and brief, with a dash of humor if appropriate.

    8. Follow people you know who are already experienced in social media. Facebook and Twitter have an etiquette and lexicon that could easily confuse the neophyte. By following someone who is more experienced, you can familiarize yourself with the terrain and processes.
    8. Work collectively. One of the benefits of being part of CUMC is that we are a large community with many people already active and successful on social media. Interested in blogging or setting up a Facebook page? Start with the CUMC Office of Communications. Trying to promote your clinical practice? ColumbiaDoctors has a marketing/communications expert who can help.

    9. Doctors should expect online reviews. Not yet as universal as restaurant or hotel reviews, physician and dentist reviews are a fast-growing part of online media. Generally, patient experience influences online reviews more than the quality of the patient care. The best way to prevent negative online posts is to make sure that patients feel good about their experience. The last person to interact with patients has a disproportionate influence on their overall satisfaction. If a negative review is posted, consult the CUMC Office of Communications before responding publicly.

    10. Use common sense online just as you do offline. There is no way to predict how your message will be read, or by whom. Be careful about posting content that might be offensive, just as you would use caution when speaking in person. Let your intuition be your guide; if it seems like a bad idea, it probably is.

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    Why Content Curation Matters To Healthcare Professionals

    Why Content Curation Matters To Healthcare Professionals | Social Media and Healthcare |

    As the world becomes more connected, healthcare professionals are using content curation as a gateway to reach potential patients and interested readers.

    What is content curation?

    Content curation is the art and business of collecting relevant content and displaying it in one convenient place, allowing easy and timely access for readers and patients. This content can include new research, studies, fresh findings, updates on healthcare technology, opinion pieces on the state of healthcare, examples of new procedures, treatment options, interesting notes on diagnosing patients, and so much more. All of this content is then gathered into a format that is easy to read and engaging to those who seek out the information.

    Content curation can be done in many different ways. There are several platforms that offer the service, such as and These curation programs offer suggestions for relevant content, then help you display it on a blog, social media platform or your personal or company website. Some platforms offer free services, but “pay to play” services are also taking hold, with promises of expert content that can’t be found anywhere else.

    Why it matters to healthcare professionals

    A 2013 report by Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 59 percent of U.S. adults had turned to the Internet to find health information in the past year. Thirty-five percent of those specifically searched for conditions that they or a loved one might have. The most common topics? Diseases and conditions made the top of the list, followed by treatment options or procedures.

    Healthcare professionals were also a common topic of Internet interest.

    By offering a website filled with useful, informative content, you can tap into that vast number of health-conscious readers. Content curation allows you to gather the information your patients want in order to give them a sense of community, peace of mind and the answers they seek.

    This in turn boosts your own brand and business, attaching your name to the things that matter most to readers. By having your name associated with high-quality, relevant and desirable content, social media can help drive your business and reputation to an even higher plane. 

    In the digital world, content is king. In the healthcare world, accurate and timely information is king. Blend them together with content curation, and you will provide a service that benefits everyone — you, your company, and the many readers and potential patients who need informative, reassuring answers.

    Anna Demeter's curator insight, December 11, 2018 7:55 PM
    Interesting information for the Dental Hygienist and Dental Hygiene Educator
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    3 reasons to create ‘social physicians’ at your community hospital

    3 reasons to create ‘social physicians’ at your community hospital | Social Media and Healthcare |

    With the increasing popularity of social media, your physicians, too, can start using social media to engage with patients and to offer themselves as a resource to the community.

    "Physicians have limited time and sometimes lack the knowledge, but even simple interactions on the Web can have a multitude of benefits for both your physicians and your community hospital."

    Why Physicians Use Social Media

    Bunny Ellerin, founder of Ellerin Health Media, n cites a few reasons why physicians use social media:

    • To improve patient care: Physicians recognize that patients have access to a multitude of irrelevant and inaccurate information on the Web, so some use social media to provide patients with trusted and valid content from medical professionals.
    • To make themselves easy to relate to: There is a long-standing stigma that physicians should maintain personal distance from patients. By interacting with patients on such a personal, informal level through social media, physicians "invite patients into their world" and make themselves more approachable.
    • To participate: The ability to give opinions and views used to be available only to medical journalists, but now every physician is capable of expressing his ideas on healthcare practices, procedures and other medical issues through social media.

    Easy ways to get started

    Looking for ways to get your physicians started on social media? Encourage them to:

    • Create a Facebook page: Facebook allows the physician to establish a personal identity on the web and connect on a human level, with the capability to share health and event offerings.
    • Open a Twitter account: Twitter enables easy status updates-even throughout the workday, the physician can easily post comments and links and share bits of information with patients without losing much time.
    • Start blogging: Although blogging can be a bigger time investment, center on your physicians' strengths-if some of them enjoy writing and offering opinions and advice, suggest they start a blog. It would be helpful to have a few reliable physicians' blogs to which you could refer patients for updated medical insights and opinions. Two great, free blogging sites and Google's official blog,

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    Hospitals increasing their presence on social media

    Hospitals increasing their presence on social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

    Caesar hadn’t even started work at Concord Hospital before he had almost 60 people saying they liked him.

    A life-size patient simulator, Caesar made his debut on Facebook on Aug. 6, in a post from Concord Hospital after a fundraising golf tournament.

    Fifty-nine people “liked” the post – featuring a photo of Caesar being treated on a gurney – and four people posted comments under his photo. He’s a high-tech training tool, and just one example of the increasing presence of social media in the health care world.

    Health care organizations are late adopters of social media; as recently as 2009, a Brooklyn-based physician told the magazine Health Affairs that the medical profession “is fundamentally flawed relative to how today’s world communicates and functions. . . . It needs to be Facebook-ed (and) wiki-ed.”

    Two years later, providers have joined the hospitality, entertainment and retail industries in using Facebook, along with Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and more to connect with their customers.

    The goal of their social media efforts is “to engage our community members in meaningful, two-way conversations and in doing so build brand awareness and customer loyalty,” said web manager Jenn Dearborn. Her position is fulltime, and since 2009, the web manager has been responsible for managing the hospital’s social media content and strategy and the hospital’s internal and external websites.

    Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center has had a full-time social media coordinator for the past year. The current employee is leaving to write a novel, and the hospital recently advertised the job, looking for her replacement.

    “It’s hard work. This person is supposed to gauge the landscape, taking in, monitoring, listening to the conversation and looking beyond what people are saying on our pages to what people are saying about other providers, and what are they saying in the wellness space about how they can stay out of the hospital,” said Roddy Young, Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s vice president for communications and marketing.

    His department is committed to maintaining its presence on social media, because that’s where people are and it’s what they expect, he said.

    “The way people consume music, media and movies, how they shop, how they access higher learning, it’s all changed in unbelievable ways . . .

    Someone who is 28 and lives life in the digital space, they want their health care experience to conform to the way they interact with other companies. We’re trying to do the right thing to serve the wants and needs of the consumer and the demands of the consumer to have it served up at home, in real time, on their time.”

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    Social Media Proves Best for Recruitment in Hospitals

    Social Media Proves Best for Recruitment in Hospitals | Social Media and Healthcare |

    Using Social Media to Recruit the Top Talent

    According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the gap between the demand for medical services and the supply of qualified physicians is expected to widen in the coming years. This means that it will be increasingly difficult for hospitals to recruit top medical talent.

    In order to overcome the unfavorable recruiting situation, many hospitals are using the latest media tools to enhance their recruiting efforts, one of which is social media.

    If used correctly, social media can be a powerful recruiting tool that can help hospitals convey their employment needs to a large number of qualified medical professionals and seek out the best possible candidates.

    Here are a number of ways you can use social media to recruit top talent for your hospital:

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