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3 Ways Dentists Can Use Facebook Advertising for New Patient Acquisition

3 Ways Dentists Can Use Facebook Advertising for New Patient Acquisition | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media for the dental practice has come a long way in just a few short years.

We hear reports every now and again that more traditional new patient acquisition efforts, like Yellow Pages & Direct Mail, are still useful in certain areas (targeting certain demographics), but without a complementary social media identity, dentists are not maximizing their new patient recruitment efforts.

The emphasis has shifted from over-bloated underperforming dental marketing, to content creation and digital word-of-mouth amplification, which social networks such as Facebook, Google+, and Twitter facilitate.

For the sake of this article we will concentrate on Facebook advertising for dentists.

Dentists Advertising for New Patients on Facebook?

Dentists advertising on Facebook can use these three forms of media in their new patient acquisition efforts — “owned,” “paid,” and “earned” — to increase potential and existing patient engagement, extend the reach of their offers, contests, or promotions, and turnLikes (just like in grade school, you can’t buy friends) into new patients happy to spread the social dental currency around to their friends.

Let’s define what we mean by each term as it relates to dental practices advertising on Facebook, but first we’ll give credit where credit is most due – the inspiration of this post belongs to this Facebook Advertising article via Practical eCommerce.

Owned media. Content created by dentists for use on Facebook Pages.
Paid media. Ads such as Facebook Promoted Posts and Sponsored Stories.
Earned media. Conversations about dental health brands and products shared among Facebook users.

Dentists maximizing Facebook’s advertising options effectively enable each of these advertising formats to integrate with the others to increase their overall new patient acquisition impact.

Owned Media: Create Engaging Content

The first step is to create content that your dental Facebook connections want and will likely engage with. What types of content qualify as engaging to a potential or existing dental patient?

Promotional: This includes practice product announcements, in addition to promotions only targeting your Facebook fans.

Syncapse reported back in June of 2013 that the top three reasons why people decide to like a Facebook page are:

  • 49 percent: To support a brand I like
  • 42 percent: To get a coupon or discount
  • 41 percent: To receive regular updates from brands I like

Informational: It makes sense that prospective & existing patients will respond to content focused on their needs and interests. Give your followers the beneficial information to empower their health care decisions and enlist them in their own dental health!

A generally accepted rule of thumb for dental Facebook posts is to keep the promotional content at a ratio of 1:4 as compared to educational, local, or entertainment driven information.

Here are some tips dentists can use to increase engagement with the content you create:

  • Use images. According to KissMetrics, an analytics and tracking firm, images and photos receive 39 percent higher interactions than average posts, and receive 53 percent more likes, 104 percent more comments, and 84 percent more clicks. Include an image in most, if not all, of your posts.
  • Keep posts short. Posts with less than 80 characters get 23 percent higher engagement.
  • Post often…but not TOO often. Among retail brands, posting 1 to 2 times per day gets 40 percent more engagement than posting 3 or more times per day. Don’t be that dentist that posts 6 useless pieces of content before 10am!
  • Schedule posts for optimal days and times. Facebook activity peaks around 3 p.m. Eastern Time each day. There are also spikes around 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday seems to be most active day during the week. Schedule posts to take advantage of these peaks.
  • Pin and highlight posts. Pin important posts to the top of your page to increase exposure, as well as highlight such posts so they span the width of both columns in the Timeline.
  • Use Facebook Insights. Use Facebook Insights to analyze the types of content fans most respond to, as well as the effect post format, frequency and time of day has on engagement.


Paid Media: Dentists Can Amplify Social Media Content with Facebook Ads

Use Facebook Promoted Posts to extend reach and increase longevity of posts that receive higher engagement. In our experience, the most sharable posts for our member dentists happen to be contest results – even more so than the contest itself. Dentists using Facebook advertising in the form of Promoted Posts have the targeting capability to reach fans, friends of fans, and even a group of users based on age, gender, location and language.

Your dental practice Promoted Posts will show up in the newsfeed of your fans – people connected to your page – if you post often enough, have an engaged following, a fully optimized Edgerank @$$ kicking presence, and maybe experiment with some hashtags…etc.

When your most dental-centric fans engage with your posts, their friends may see the story in their news feed too, enabling you to extend your reach.

That is Facebook Advertising for Dentists Force Multiplication!

Another way for dentists to advertise beneficial content on Facebook is through aSponsored Story to further amplify the post. Sponsored Stories do not require any additional budget, but will share the cost with your current ad campaign.

Earned Media: Dental Practices NEED to Interact with their Fans

We know it sounds silly, but it’s really a make or break point. It’s unquestionably important to interact with fans…and friends of fans…who engage with your posts.

  • Respond to comments. This lets people know you’re interested in what they have to say and may increase the likelihood they will continue to pay attention to your posts over time.
  • Get fans involved. Ask people to create their own content and share it on your dental practice Facebook Page. Be sure to ask fans to take action on your posts. This could include asking them to like a post, vote in a contest, or share the post with their friends.
  • Asking questions helps, too. Posts that include questions garner 100 percent more comments than “non-question” posts.
    Feature fans. Feature a “fan of the week” and include testimonials from patients that are also fans of your dental practice Facebook Page.


Dentists Can Actually Force Multiply New Patient Acquisition Efforts with Facebook Advertising

Facebook makes it easy for any dental practice to integrate owned, paid and earned media to increase the effectiveness of your digital dental marketing. But dentists need to take advantage of this capability by creating engaging content, promoting content that receives the most engagement using ads, and interacting with fans and others to stimulate the digital dental health conversation centered around your practice.

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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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Social Media Implementation Checklist

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

Set goals first. If traffic, leads and sales are part of the goal, then gotta have the next focus be on content creation. Then, using social to share. Can't get much value out of social unless you're actively creating, publishing and sharing content. 

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Marketing Ethics In Healthcare – What You Should Know!

Marketing Ethics In Healthcare – What You Should Know! | Social Media and Healthcare |

Marketing ethics in healthcare have been a topic of hot debate for years. Should healthcare organizations, hospitals and practices spend large amounts of advertising dollars to attract patients? Shouldn’t they rely on patients naturally drifting towards quality health care organizations?

Today’s rapidly changing world of healthcare has made marketing a requirement and not a choice. It’s not a debate if you wish to succeed in building your practice.  Patients no longer simply choose the closest hospital or practice as a matter of course. Gone are the days when a physician referral guaranteed appointments.

Today is the age of marketing ethics in healthcare.

Still, we struggle — should we be trying to convince patients to come to us? Isn’t it unethical to use marketing methods to lure them in? Let’s take a look at marketing ethics in healthcare, and how marketing can actually benefit patients.

Advertising & Marketing Ethics In Healthcare

Firstly, where does this idea that marketing healthcare is unethical come from?

For that, we have to go all the way back to 1847. The American Medical Association unveiled its first code of marketing ethics. It included the following:

“It is derogatory to the dignity of the profession, to resort to public advertisements or private cards or handbills, inviting the attention of individuals affected with particular diseases; publicly offering advice and medicine to the poor gratis, or promising radical cures or to publish cases and operations in the daily prints or suffer such publications to be made; to invite laymen to be present at operations; to boast of cures and remedies; to adduce certificates of skill and success; or to perform any other similar acts.

These are the ordinary practices of empirics, and are highly reprehensible in a regular physician.”

We have to realize that this was a time when snake oil salesmen were touting their “miracle cures”. The AMA was trying to disassociate true physicians from these uneducated and often fraudulent quacks as much as possible.

It was a hundred years before an actual ban was put in place, in 1947. The AMA faced many issues with physicians promoting certain pharmaceutical and everyday products—one example being cigarettes. These restrictions were lifted by the AMA in 1957 to allow for “softer” tactics such as networking and physician referral building.

The Shift In Ethical Business Standards In Healthcare

The business of healthcare shifted in the 1970s, presenting major obstacles for medical ethics in healthcare. Patients stopped being primarily physician referred, and instead began to choose healthcare based on preferences.

The 1970s saw the rise of public relations departments amongst large provider organizations and hospitals. Informal promotions, such as sponsored seminars and community events, also saw a drastic increase. Even with these tactics, few organizations found ways to utilize marketing to gain recognition amongst their local communities.

Then in 1980 the Federal Trade Commission ruled that the AMA’s ban was effectively restricting trade in the medical field. Today, pharmaceuticals are still tightly controlled when it comes to marketing, while physician boards continue to provide ethical standards for marketing hospitals and practices.

It is much easier for healthcare organizations to leverage traditional and digital marketing and advertising platforms available today than ever before. In other words, they practice marketing ethics in healthcare.

Medicine Is a Profession – Healthcare Is a Business

This might seem controversial to some, but a fear of marketing ethics in healthcare actually stands in the way of helping patients get the care they need.

Online searches are the dominant tool for most people looking for healthcare. It’s just a fact that if prospective patients can’t find you online, they’ll just move on. You can also rule out referrals altogether if you’re not actively campaigning to build brand recognition online.  That takes a high degree of marketing ethics in healthcare.

Not only will patients move on to different organizations, they might not get the proper care if you are not presented in the appropriate manner. If you offer great care — and of course you do — don’t you owe it to your patients to help them stay educated and confident that your organization is the right choice?

We say again:

Medicine is a profession!

Healthcare is a business!

You and your team deserve to be known in your community, while prospective patients deserve to know there’s quality healthcare out there for them. Even if you are physician referred, patients will likely search for your organization online first to feel confident that you are the right choice for their healthcare needs.

You owe it to yourself and your patients to provide accurate information and marketing that guides them to the best choice. In other words take the time to show marketing ethics in healthcare.

Marketing Ethics In Healthcare

After all this, are you still worried about ethics in marketing your organization? Here are some specific guidelines recommended and/or enforced among most physician groups worldwide.

  • Adhere to all marketing and advertising guidelines set forth by your medical boards.
  • Ensure you remain HIPAA compliant and cover all legal bases when using actual patient information.
  • If you can’t prove it, don’t say it.
  • If you can’t deliver it, don’t promise it.
  • Don’t build yourself up by tearing others down. Prove your value through your own expertise and skill.

These are just a few of the common guidelines we see and follow as our own marketing ethics in healthcare.

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5 Important Reasons To Use Social Media In Health Marketing

5 Important Reasons To Use Social Media In Health Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

We know that the objective of private healthcare is to improve the functioning of health and to increase the benefits within the sector. Thedigital marketing in the health sector  can be a good complement to the work done by health professionals, centers, clinics, offices and hospitals.

In today’s post we will talk about how digital marketing is growing  in the health sector  and what motives are driving the health sector to invest.

For this reason, it is necessary that professionals in the sector are interested in  digital health strategies.  Clinics that are committed to digital marketing are on the rise and there are many centers and mutuals, which have carried out online actions to improve their economic results.

It is perfectly compatible to offer a good quality of medical assistance with applying digital health marketing techniques. In many sectors such as  Orthopedics  or  Parapharmacy  the results obtained are very beneficial.


So far we know that the technique of “word of mouth” works, but the perfect complement to  amplify our product  will be the  digital marketing actions  that allow us to reach more customers. Pharmacies, clinics or health centers must differentiate themselves because their product, equipment and even price proposals have great similarities.

The health sector must understand that  the patient has changed  and that people seek health information on the Internet. People conduct more Google searches than visits to the pharmacy, clinic or medical center in question.  Google is asked more than health professionals, according to statistical data 48% of users use the Internet to acquire health information.

Health professionals must understand changes in the mentality and  behavior of the patient when consuming products and services. The digital field allows offering, among many other options, health care services and booking appointments 24 hours a day, applications that clarify treatments, personalized information … This provides an added value to the patient and a  competitive advantage within the sector.

The Internet talks about health and the  opinions generated in a blog  or social networks can decide the choice on the part of the patient. Therefore, the health sector is entering the field of digital marketing. Do not stop getting on the train!

Now more than ever, it is almost essential that clinics, medical centers and health providers align their strategies and communication towards online marketing, working on their health content and social media actions aimed at their patients and clients. The numbers show that 34% of consumers use social networks to search for health information, both to prevent and to know that they have possible symptoms.

The demand exists since hundreds of thousands of users are looking for an answer on the internet and end up accepting the response of another unidentified user, and in most cases, not professional. Faced with this reality, there is a clear opportunity for the different health service companies that want to achieve their business objectives. From Medics Marketing we want to give 5 examples of how to take advantage of social media for clinics and medical centers to increase their benefits and improve their value chain:

1.  Procedures in real time via Twitter

The Henry Ford Hospital became one of the first hospitals that from an operating room communicated in real time the different procedures that were applied in a kidney operation. Physicians, medical students and curious nonmedical personnel were able to continue as surgeons updated with tweets the surgery of the kidney to eliminate a cancerous tumor.

This health marketing tactic aimed to create excitement and increase public awareness of a healthcare organization. The action of the Hospital, made Twitter a hotbed with users re-tweeting the messages of Henry Ford and reviewing and asking about aspects related to the operation. The echo generated by these social media actions helps health companies both attract new patients and locate potential medical personnel to incorporate into their staff, all thanks to the qualitative traffic achieved with online action.

2.  Give more tools to medical personnel

Some health clinics are beginning to see the potential of social media in their processes. Lee Aase of the prestigious Mayo Clinic incorporated different social media in a presentation before the American Heart Association. During the presentation, Aase took advantage of Twitter to encourage participants to participate and contribute to the discussion through the hashtag.

Implementing social networks in health care training initiatives can provide multiple benefits, including:

  • Give participants a forum to ask questions and receive answers in real time.
  • Provide a posteriori and personalized marketing material to all attendees who are interested in receiving more information.
  • It allows complementing the health marketing efforts through the exchange of slides, video or images of the training sessions in different social channels such as YouTube or Flickr.
  • Communicate what happens in these training sessions on social networks such as Facebook or Twitter, as well as in the clinic’s own blog, medical center or hospital helps patients and future clients to perceive a brand value and a determining service to contract their services.

3.  Optimize the relationship with the media

Currently more than 70% of journalists use social networks to disseminate their content. These significant data should be taken advantage of by the online marketing strategies of health companies, using social media to cover the media and sector publications on their services and advances in health.

Companies in the clinical sector should use online channels – including blogs, forums and microblogs – to share success stories of operations or treatments, medical research or other significant achievements out of the ordinary. For example, when Aurora Health Care Twitter had a knee operation in April, it received media attention from both the media and industry publications, including Good Morning America, the local public radio station Milwaukee, and the journal Hospitable Management.

4.  Communicate in times of crisis

When a disaster occurs – be it a flood, an earthquake or a terrorist attack – hospitals and health providers are at the center of everything. Health providers can take advantage of social networks to provide updates in real time, both for people directly affected by the crisis and those who observe from afar.

During the Fort Hood massacre, Steven Widman of Scott & White Healthcare – one of the hospitals that treated the victims of the shooting, used Twitter to provide news in real time. Through Twitter, Widman offered updated information on access to the emergency room and the operating status of the hospital, news of the Red Cross and communicated with journalists.

Some of the results in cache of this case of online social media crisis communication:

  • Twitter followers increased 78% in just three days
  • Scott & White Healthcare appeared on the first page of Twitter as “trending topic”
  • The hospital’s YouTube channel was ranked as the most-watched non-profit channel throughout the week surrounding the crisis.

5.  Provide accurate information to patients

73% of patients seek medical information on the internet before or after visits to the doctor. With the magnitude of health information available on the web, sometimes professional sometimes not, it is likely that these patients can easily be misinformed.

By integrating social networks into the marketing mix of health companies, you can share timely and accurate information about symptoms, diseases, medications, treatments and much more. There are forums for patients to share their health problems and questions about treatment with other patients, as well as qualified medical personnel. Even some of these forums are associated with trusted nonprofit health organizations to ensure that the information is accurate and their community is safe.

The benefits of integrating social media into the health marketing strategies of clinics or medical centers, not only has no price in terms of attracting traffic and positioning, but it is beginning to be the reason for the success of many companies in this sector.

If you are a healthcare professional or medical center, and you need to include digital marketing within your business strategy, at Medics Marketing we offer you social media solutions for health companies to get new patients and retain them.

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3 Keys to Digital Marketing for Healthcare Professionals

3 Keys to Digital Marketing for Healthcare Professionals | Social Media and Healthcare |

The first place people turn these days when they want information is the internet. When it comes to healthcare, unfortunately, this usually means a deep-dive into the confusing world of WebMD. Hopefully once a person is sufficiently nervous about their healthcare after reading through long lists of symptoms, they will then look up a doctor near them.



This is where it’s crucial for healthcare professionals to have an online presence. Since the internet is where most people go to find information, you want to be there for them when they type in “doctor near me.” However, you can’t simply make a website and call it a day.



You will need concrete and well-thought plan for various parts of your online presence, as well as a blog with an SEO strategy to ensure you rank when potential patients search for key phrases associated with your practice. Additionally, if you don’t already have a business social media profile, it may be time to get one.





You must also be actively marketing yourself to your local populations. The good news is you can do this without spending thousands of dollars on a billboard or a local cable-channel ad. A few simple tenets will keep your online presence well-marketed, well maintained, and continuing to grow over the years.



Be Ethical and Honest



Before digging into a social media plan or marketing strategy, it’s important to recognize that as a healthcare professional, you have certain responsibilities in your marketing techniques. Nurses, clinics, and physicians are held to different advertising standards than brands selling a product. For one thing, false marketing won’t just cost you business — it could cost you your license.   



For example, some states are suing major pharmaceutical companies for false advertising. It’s not illegal for doctors to prescribe a drug to treat a symptom outside its intended use, but it is illegal for a pharmaceutical manufacturer to advertise for that treatment use when it hasn’t been proven. Consumers are becoming more critical of the advertisements they consume and putting any kind of spin on your own marketing as a healthcare professional could be construed as false advertising.  



It may be best to think of any marketing or advertising you do as an extension of the work you do within your office. The Hippocratic oath requires that you be honest and ethical in all engagements with patients under your care. When making marketing decisions, consider that you are engaging with future patients, and as such, you should still be as ethical and honest as you would with someone currently in your patient roster.



Patients will appreciate that you and your clinic come exactly as advertised. This may make them more likely to trust you as their healthcare provider from the very beginning. You’ll bring in more patients with marketing efforts and the relationships will be stronger because you are always straightforward.



Know Your Target Demographic



Once you begin laying out your marketing strategy, you’ll need to identify who you want to bring into the office. Your target demographic will change based on what your specialties are or what kind of patients you’re looking to attract that maybe you haven’t in the past. For example, if you’re an ear, nose, and throat specialist, you would want to target people who have issues with those areas of the body.   



Likewise, if you specialize in elder care, you would want to target seniors who are online. This isn’t as counterintuitive as it sounds since many seniors are now getting online daily at increasing rates. Targeting this population would come with some considerations for ease of use and imagery choices.  



However, if you want to target a younger generation like Generation Z or millennials, then your marketing approach would be completely different from targeting seniors. Those generations look to Instagram and Snapchat as a way to engage with new products or brands, so you would want to build those presences into your plan. You would also need to use a much more casual tone and informal language.



Essentially, whatever demographic you decide to pursue, you need to be sure your marketing materials are specific to them. You wouldn’t advertise pregnancy care to men between the ages of 18-24, for example. They would see your services and think, “Well, that’s not for me!”



Use Social Media To Your Advantage



Sometimes your marketing plan isn’t about bringing in new patients, but rather about helping you excel professionally. Maybe you’re trying to get a better job, or maybe you’re trying to speak at a conference for a topic you’re passionate about. In either case, it can be a good idea to use social media to your best professional advantage.



For example, using a professional networking platform like LinkedIn can help your career evolve over the years. It enables you to network with other professionals in your field while also demonstrating the work you do. Then, once you’re ready to reach out about a new career opportunity, all of your experience and connections are in one easy-to-access digital place.  



However, this strategy doesn’t only have to relegated to LinkedIn. Many institutions will make announcements about career fairs, or new hiring opportunities via social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. By following places you aspire to work at, you may find an opening that’s just the right fit for you at just the right time.



Of course, you can always use social media platforms for more traditional marketing efforts as well, like for your business or your services. Using sponsored posts like those available through Facebook and Instagram allow you to advertise for your practice in a natural way to the demographic you want to reach. This will put you in front of the people you want to reach where they already are without too much extra effort.  



It goes without saying as well to make sure you post wisely on social media. Although social media is an essential component of any marketing plan, it can also ruin your reputation. So make sure to keep things professional, both on your business and personal social media accounts.



Regardless of the course you choose for marketing your healthcare services, by crafting a focused plan and staying ethical in every move you make, you will grow your business and your client base over time. You will demonstrate a community savvy that helps patients trust you and engage with you easier. It’s hard to believe this can all come from a few hundred words on the internet, but technology is a powerful tool.  

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Social media: Should you stop lurking and log on?

Social media: Should you stop lurking and log on? | Social Media and Healthcare |

AS A YOUNG HOSPITALIST trying to develop his academic career, Charlie M. Wray, DO, MS, (@WrayCharles) opened a Twitter account in 2014. After a year of taking note of what was being discussed and who else was engaged, he upped his game, posting articles he found interesting and conversing with people who responded. As Dr. Wray became more active, he discovered his voice and, in so doing, found not only a following but a community.

“I saw this as a way to spread my own and others’ work and to engage other hospitalists,” says Dr. Wray, assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). “Now, I’m trying to spread the word: Because of social media, I’ve become a better doctor.”

He and other experienced users are convinced that engaging in interactive-heavy social media like Twitter—which can work synergistically with blogs and podcasts—can be an asset rather than a distraction for already busy hospitalists.

“Because of social media, I’ve become a better doctor.”~ Charlie M. Wray, DO, MS
University of California, San Francisco

Vineet Arora, MD, MAPP, (@FutureDocs) whose Twitter goals are to “learn, engage and inspire,” has found that focusing on education has resonated with physicians: She now has 29,600 followers. In addition to sharing links to articles, she and Dr. Wray lead #JHMChat, the Journal of Hospital Medicine’s monthly Twitter-based journal club that focuses on recent articles and topics important to hospitalists.

Not everyone has to go from lurker to leader to benefit from being on social media. Because social media engages users by topic, traditional medical specialty divisions blur for social as well as clinical issues. Last November, for example, when the National Rifle Association responded to the American College of Physicians’ gun violence policy paper by tweeting that doctors should stay in their lane, doctors across specialties pushed back using the hashtag #ThisIsOurLane. That account now has 28,600 followers.

And as users share interests and information, they forge connections not only across specialties but age groups and locations—a particular boon for those working in small or rural locations. Dr. Arora, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and associate chief medical officer-clinical learning environment, says it’s no less than a seismic shift in finding new and better ways to learn and communicate.

“We’re in the middle,” she says, “of a revolution.”

What works for hospitalists
While Twitter is not the only social media game in town, it’s a good fit for hospitalists because tweets are limited to 280 characters. With Twitter, you can also include links, photos and other graphics to further engage and inform your audience, says Dr. Wray.

“Its brevity fits into hospitalists’ lives,” he says. “It forces individuals to think and be precise, and that’s what busy clinicians need.”

Twitter also meets the needs of physicians looking to find an audience. Bryan S. Vartabedian, MD, (@Doctor_V) originally created “33 charts,” a blog to promote a book he’d written. But he quickly found that he liked having a platform to discuss his passion: physicians and technology. He joined Twitter a decade ago and now has more than 32,000 followers.

“Everyone has a passion, something they want to achieve, whether it’s to promote a practice or vaccine advocacy.”

~ Bryan S. Vartabedian, MD
Texas Children’s Hospital

“Everyone has a passion, something they want to achieve, whether it’s to promote a practice or vaccine advocacy,” says Dr. Vartabedian, a pediatric gastroenterologist and director of community medicine at Texas Children’s Hospital in The Woodlands, Texas. “Twitter creates visibility and the opportunity to connect with people, which in turn creates opportunities.”

For Shreya P. Trivedi, MD, (@ShreyaTrivediMD) a hospitalist at New York’s NYU Langone Health, such opportunities include mentorship and collaborations that she says came as a direct result of her Twitter connections. While she joined Twitter as a resident two years ago for clinical pearls, she got more involved when she saw the potential to boost her personal and professional growth.

“I have so many connections outside of my institution because of it,” says Dr. Trivedi, a general internal medicine fellow.

She taps into Twitter when she wants quick feedback. For example, after a difficult day when patients who had been fasting pre-surgery were upset that their surgeries were cancelled, she posted on #medtwitter asking for advice. Dr. Trivedi heard from anesthesiologists and surgeons from other institutions who offered clarity and options.

“It blew me away,” she says, “and social media has made me feel this is where real change can come from. It facilitates the interprofessional dialogue that can be so difficult to achieve between busy departments that don’t work in the same physical space.”

Feedback and evidence
Another reason Twitter is so popular, says Dr. Vartabedian: It combats information overload without replacing medical literature. “If you follow 25 or 50 really smart hospitalists, all you have to do is go to your Twitter feed,” he points out. “If something is important, it will find you.”

“Social media has made me feel this is where real change can come from.”

~ Shreya P. Trivedi, MD
NYU Langone Health

For those who want to dig deeper into topics, Twitter threads can include 10 or 15 tweets as well as links to literature and pictures. Anthony C. Breu, MD, (@ tony_breu) hospitalist and director of resident education at the VA Boston Healthcare System, has garnered 15,000 followers by finding a niche in creating Twitter threads to answer pathophysiology questions that pique his interest.

Dr. Breu says he lurked on Twitter for a few years before launching his first string last summer. He had finally found the answer to a question that had gnawed at him—Why do patients with acute blood loss become anemic?—and wanted to share the answer without creating a blog.

“I thought it would be one and done,” he notes. “But the positive response was so overwhelming, I haven’t been able to stop.” For him, his tweet strings complement rather than replace traditional published literature by offering the advantage of more and faster feedback.

“It’s added a layer to the conversation that 20 years ago we wouldn’t have had, and in real time,” Dr. Breu says. “Within an hour, you immediately have the opinions of dozens of people you respect.”

Twitter also allows for easy conversation, which in turn promotes building a community that can live outside of cyberspace. Dr. Wray, for example, says he has made close friends and acquaintances with people who started as media interactions but who he has since gone on to meet at conferences. Veteran blogger and podcaster Robert Centor, MD, (@medrants) says Twitter fills a unique need.

“Sometimes all you want to do is point out an article to someone or browse other people’s accounts to find articles you wouldn’t have seen otherwise,” says Dr. Centor, professor emeritus of internal medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

While he used to blog every day, he’s cut back to three or four times a month and now uses Twitter to refer to his blog post. He also notes that being on Twitter has resulted in something pretty remarkable, given his long career: “I’m more up-to-date now than ever.”

Lurk and follow
To get a feel for what’s on Twitter and where you might comfortably fit in, a good way to start is to open an account and lurk for a few months. Follow people who are posting content that interests you and use them as social media mentors, Dr. Wray suggests.

As for joining in, be authentic and you’ll find something to say, advises Dr. Trivedi. She says her best tweets arise when something thought-provoking happens at work.

“You don’t have to be in charge of an organization or have a podcast,” she points out. “You have your story as a physician. You’re doing the frontline work.”

Dr. Wray transitioned from listening to posting when he realized what he was thinking would be interesting to others. How did he know? Because his comments were retweeted and his following grew.

“Once you overcome that initial fear, you realize that everybody has something to say and the intimidation factor falls off,” he says. “At this point, I’ve created a community of individuals on Twitter that I can go to for clinical, medical education or research questions. That’s validated my presence in this medium.”

And all those social media leaders? Now, says Dr. Wray, they follow him.

Sources also say that even as hospitalists get up to speed on what’s cutting edge in social media, they should be ready for change.

Dr. Vartabedian anticipates that hospitals and medical schools will develop policies addressing the ethics of digital activity for physicians within five years. And Dr. Breu says having a tweet viewed by thousands of people might at some point hold sway with a promotion committee and may also factor into tenure decisions. Mayo Clinic already recognizes digital scholarship when considering academic promotion.

According to Dr. Wray, he never would have anticipated he’d be modeling social media for students or writing articles on physicians and social media strategy. So now he’s keeping an open mind to whatever comes next. “I’m not sure where social media use for doctors is going,” he admits. “But I’m confident it will open doors for me in a capacity I can’t comprehend at this time.”

Paula S. Katz is a freelance health care writer based in Vernon Hills, Ill.

Getting started
WANT TO BREAK out on Twitter? Here are some tips:

• Your biography. Sources point out that on Twitter, you will get more followers and retweets if you include a picture of yourself as well as a description of your academic or research interests and connections. This is limited to 160 characters. It’s also important to use a phrase like “all views are my own.” Here, for example, is the bio of Vineet Arora, MD, MAPP, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago: Doc improving care & #MedEd in teaching hospitals. @costofcare team. @JHospMedicine SoMe editor. Tweets my own. @UChicagoMed @UChiPritzker.

• Following others. Find people with similar interests and follow them; they will often follow you back. Consider following specialists in other areas. For example, Bryan S. Vartabedian, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Texas Children’s, follows five cardiologists who he says save him time by providing valuable links. Robert Centor, MD, professor emeritus of internal medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, follows Joel Topf, MD, who he calls “king of the renal twitterverse” and researcher and pediatrician Aaron Carroll, MD, “who always has interesting things to say.”

• Say something. When someone posts, consider replying. Even just retweeting will increase your visibility. Use one or two hashtags (like #MedTwitter) and tag specific people who might be interested in your tweet and likely to respond or share.

• Join a chat. Twitter chats are typically held at a set time. For example, the Journal of Hospital Medicine holds an hour-long monthly chat (#JHMChat) about articles that offers CME credit, @mededchat is on Thursday nights and #WomeninMedicine chat takes place every week on Sunday night. Participate by posting questions or by using the hashtag in other posts and build your following.

• Etiquette. Don’t discuss work situations or specific patients or hot button topics like politics or religion, and assume that everyone—from patients to hospital administrators—can follow you, says Dr. Vartabedian. To avoid miscommunication, hospitalist Charlie M. Wray, DO, MS, assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, says he reads his posts two or three times before posting. “If you can’t say something out loud in a crowded elevator, you shouldn’t yell it out to 5,000 followers,” he says. And always be polite— even when you disagree, Dr. Centor notes.

• Frequency. You don’t need to post every day. Dr. Wray posts only when he finds something interesting rather than posting filler he says would dilute his voice. Dr. Vartabedian uses the social media management app Buffer to schedule postings. He finds a few links in the morning, then schedules them to go out between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. He reshares material from his blog three times a day.

• Timing. Know when your audience is tuning in because tweets have a half-life of 25 minutes, according to Shreya P. Trivedi, MD, a hospitalist at New York’s NYU Langone Health. After that, they’re likely pushed down in someone’s feed. Dr. Trivedi gets the most response from hospitalists at 6 a.m., 9 a.m., 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.

• Finding time. You don’t need an hour to catch up on social media, Dr. Wray says. Instead, find ways to efficiently work browsing into your day. He looks at Twitter in the five minutes he has between meetings or while his computer is turning on. “In that time I can scroll through a couple hundred tweets or take the pulse of what hot papers there are this week,” he says. To further save time and avoid interruptions, consider turning off notifications about likes and retweets. And if you feel overwhelmed by a long Twitter feed, Dr. Vartabedian advises paring it down. “Be ruthless about where you give your attention.”

Social media: Which ones are right for you?
SOCIAL MEDIA devotees have gravitated to Twitter, but other social media options meet other needs.

• Because Facebook may be the most familiar to many, it could be an easy way to get more involved with private groups on topics such as physician moms.

• Instagram, which is more photo-oriented, has groups such as #thisiswhatasurgeonlookslike and #shecanbeboth. The application may be particularly familiar to residents because residency programs are on it.

• Blogs and podcasts are geared to those who want to explore topics in more depth with or without interaction, and they can be linked to Twitter feeds. For example, Shreya P. Trivedi, MD, a hospitalist at New York’s NYU Langone Health who is executive producer of Core IM Podcast, provides a link to that site in her Twitter bio.

Robert Centor, MD, created “medrants,” a blog, because of his desire to write, as well as to voice his opinions. “I consider myself primarily a medical educator,” he says. He has also created a dozen Annals On Call podcasts for Annals of Internal Medicine. And Anthony C. Breu, MD, hospitalist and director of resident education at the VA Boston Healthcare System, recommends the curbsiders for physicians looking for internal medicine podcasts.

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Social Media Pros and Cons

Social Media Pros and Cons | Social Media and Healthcare |

Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms allow people with cancer to connect with one another immediately. That has both pros and cons, according to a recent article in the Journal of Oncology Practice.


Pros: Social media provides psychological and social support, facilitating conversations about the emotional, spiritual and physical challenges of living with cancer and empowering patients to “mentally process their cancer experience,” the authors write. It can also provide useful information. Searching your specific diag­nosis via a Twitter hashtag can connect you to online communities of people with the same type of cancer and help you find clinical trials.


Cons: Social media can be both factually unreliable and unsupportive, so it shouldn’t become a substitute for in-person support or expert advice. It can even lead to financial exploitation—beware of unproven cure claims! Privacy is also at risk: Social media sites are public, so be careful about posting personal medical information.


Physicians can help by becoming familiar with social media, using it for education and outreach—and being a resource for their patients.


If you learn something that may affect your care, bring it to your doctor’s attention for an expert opinion.

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Five ways Social Media has revolutionized medical care

Five ways Social Media has revolutionized medical care | Social Media and Healthcare |

Medical care services prevalent today are not quite the same as previous eras would ever have encountered. Apart from improvements in clinical protocols and infrastructure available to healthcare providers today, one of the fundamental technologies that have emerged to assist modern healthcare services is social media.

Today hospitals and doctors are all on the social media bandwagon. The boost of online media as of late has given medical care service providers more adaptability than ever in making sense of strategies and to elongate their reach and to support the patients.

Medical care services, especially hospitals, are utilising online networking channels to build up a rapport, establish contact with their patients, answer inquiries regarding practices, perform community outreach, and launching public awareness campaigns.
Let’s discuss five innovative ways in which social media is revolutionising the healthcare industry.

Leverage Research

Majority of healthcare providers and doctors are utilising social media platforms to research on medical gadgets, biotech information, and pharmaceutical data. They can browse social media pages of device manufacturers and pharmaceutical organisations for the same.

Physicians can even utilise online networking channels as an instrument to connect with other professionals within their fields. They can also track online journals of different specialties to get familiar with their practices. Due to the footprint of social networking being found in every domain, this enormous data can be utilised throughout the world for the good of humanity.

Accordingly, doctors, pharmaceutical organisations, emergency clinics are employing these platforms for the given reasons:-

1. For distributing the latest research
2. To post case data, pictures, and results (after permission)
3. To educate medical services consumers
4. Marketing of new medical devices
5. Give patients any updates that identify with the practice itself
6. Share patient testimonials and surveys

As progressively more individuals use social media for their medicinal purposes, online giants like Facebook, LinkedIn and others will indeed have plenty of data to utilise for scientific research.

Source of Medical Awareness
Further with such a massive amount of accessible data about different maladies and other general well-being problems, there is an excellent opportunity to utilise online networking platforms as a source of information as well.

For instance, in case that medical care service providers know about a looming epidemic, they can make provisions for precautionary measures and make practitioners available. They can furthermore suggest appropriate educational information to stall the effect of inaccurate information and guidance. Sharing news concerning health hazards or outbreaks is an efficient method for the healthcare organisation to utilise the data in a matter of minutes.

One such awareness program is the ice bucket challenge campaign for crowdfunding and spreading knowledge about the rare disease – Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). In the year 2014, the charity campaign went viral which even marked the participation of more than 17 million people comprising of well-known people from Bill Gates to George W. Bush.

Millions of individuals used the social media platform to posted video to accomplish the challenge and give a donation to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association. As per the ALS Association, the campaign gathered a huge amount of more than $115 million from which 67%, of the funds, were entitled to research and another 20%, were granted to patient and community services.

Medical care industry additionally acknowledges these platforms as tools to spread knowledge among via diverse methods like sharing a general message about flu shots and tips to avoid a cold.

Direct Online Meetings
Twitter has been held onto for online medical meetings. The meeting coordinators would create KOLs tweet and hashtags in which even patients are locked in. The rarer the ailment, the more the patient gets awareness through this medium.
Development in the space of KOL social networks is foreseen around healthcare meetings and staff-driven learning in general. Such systems will spread knowledge in their networks and examine symptoms that are at present discussed face to face but in a secure and docile way.

It is going to revolutionise the way KOL management and data presentations are produced and maintained.

Quicker Communication and Support
Everybody knows how critical regular checkups are for our wellbeing. However, people also neglect appointments.

However, by these social media platforms, medical care organisations would now be able to utilise these channels to send notifications and allow straightforward scheduling for people, along with delivering personalised reports catered to the requirements of the person.

With this data on the web, it decreases the number of calls that patients would make to the practitioner’s office, which in return assists them to commit more time towards the essential work of treatment. Online networking platforms are designed to grant patients the facility to obtain information real- time and interact with others.

Instant Patient Feedback
To accumulate feedback and improve quality, feedbacks on social media can offer physicians and medical care service providers prompt responses from patients to help comprehend common consequences of meds, and a general accord from patients on new procedures in this sector.

Utilising this real-time and swift feedback accessible via online portals enables healthcare service providers to study patient responses thoroughly and adapt and change. Besides, by using the reviews on these platforms, healthcare organisations have the chance to assess the likelihood of additional administrations in the industry.

Besides, by using the reviews on these platforms, healthcare organisations have the chance to assess the likelihood of additional administrations in the industry. One such model is – Artificial Intelligence helping physicians to triage patient care.

For instance, an AI-powered solution can facilitate operations at scale by allowing reading of radiology images from rural regions, wherein the images uploaded by the radiographer at the remote area.

Doctors who utilise AI to anticipate if a patient has a high close term risk for encountering any disease would then be able to organize resources and attention on the patient covering diagnosis and treatment plan. AI will eventually improve care as well as upgrade the patient-doctor relationships.

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4 Ways Your Dental Practice can Generate more Social Media Engagement

4 Ways Your Dental Practice can Generate more Social Media Engagement | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is a key area for your dental practice to earn more local patients, and spread your brand awareness. Here’s a few ideas that will help your dental practice earn more engagement with your audience.

Make Your Audience Laugh

Nearly 40% of Facebook users shared a funny post in the past 30 days. This large number of people sharing funny posts makes humor important when posting the perfect shareable content. So, aim for people’s funny bone, and watch your social media engagement soar.

Incentive Engagement


Approximately 36% of people engage with social media content because a brand promises a discount or reward for doing so. Your dental practice can take advantage of this by occasionally offering small rewards for people who share, like or engage with your post. Incentivize your audience with small, affordable rewards to boost your engagement, and spread your local brand awareness. Prizes like $25 gift cards, gas cards, movie tickets – are an easy way to drive more social media traffic and excitement.

Promote New Services and Promotions 

Did you know that 6 in 10 people follow brands online to learn about sales and to keep up with new product announcements? Your dental practice’s social media accounts can capture additional traffic by letting your patients and community about any new promotions or procedures that your practice offers. This isn’t to say that you should post a stream of all of your services in one day or a single post. Instead, take time to look at some of your popular services or procedures and select a few to share about over time. 

Be Consistent

Consistency is key for engaging your followers, and helps set their expectations about your social media content. Post at least once per week or even once per day. Try to post during optimal times to maximize the reach of your social posts. This tends to be in the early afternoon during the week, or around 8:00pm at night, but you’ll want to look at your own statistics to see what works best for you. Make sure to stick to a schedule, so that you can sustain your audience’s expectations, and cultivate more engagement. 

Let Smile Savvy Handle Your Social Media 

Social media is tantamount to obtaining larger, local brand visibility and obtaining new patients. Smile Savvy provides social media management that can help your dental practice cut through the noisy social space and reach more local patients.

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Google Ranking of Plastic Surgeons Values Social Media Presence Over Academic Pedigree and Experience.

Google Ranking of Plastic Surgeons Values Social Media Presence Over Academic Pedigree and Experience. | Social Media and Healthcare |


Patients increasingly rely on online resources to make healthcare decisions. Google dominates the search engine market; first-page results receive most of the web traffic and therefore serve as an important indicator of consumer reach.


Our objective was to analyze the respective importance of physician academic pedigree, experience, and social media presence on plastic surgeon Google first-page search result placement.


A search was conducted in the top 25 United States metropolitan areas to identify the top 20 websites of board-certified plastic surgeons. Social media presence was quantified by tracking the number of followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for every surgeon as well as medical school and year of graduation. The primary outcome was website ranking in the first page of Google search results. To identify the independent predictors of presence on the front page, we performed a multivariate logistic regression.


Total number of social medial followers was associated with Google front-page placement (P < 0.001), whereas medical school ranking and years in practice were not (P = 0.17 and 0.39, respectively). A total 19.6% of plastic surgeon practices in our study cohort still had no social media accounts whatsoever.


For the past few decades, plastic surgery practices relied on referrals, word of mouth, and the surgeon's reputation and academic pedigree to attract new patients. It is now clear that this practice-building model is being rapidly supplanted by a new paradigm based on social media presence to reach potential patients.

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What Type of Visual Content Attracts Patients?

What Type of Visual Content Attracts Patients? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Did you know, nearly 74 percent of marketers are creating and sharing visual content, and this figure is going to increase? The fact is, if you want to make a real impact with your practice’s content, you cannot just treat visual content as an afterthought. It is essential to give as much time and consideration to your visual content strategy as you would for your social media strategy.

If done well, visual content has the potential to not only attract traffic but also to improve your conversion rate. According to experts, visual content marketing strategy is three times more effective than search engine optimization or paid search in terms of lead generation and return on investment.

However, merely having a visual content marketing game plan may not be sufficient to give your team direction on what to create and where to share it. It is equally important to give every visual asset a purpose, which may help you develop a consistent and visual brand that your target audience will relate to.

Why Visual Content Matters

Some healthcare marketing experts are of the view that the popularity in visual content is just a temporary trend. However, studies are proving these doubters wrong. But don’t take our word for it; these statistics will highlight the importance of visual content:



  • Almost 65 percent of humans are visual learners.
  • The colors in visuals increase readers’ curiosity to read content by 80 percent.
  • Potential customers are 85 percent more likely to try a product or service after watching a video about it.
  • Social media posts with images have 180 percent more engagement.
  • Brands that create and share custom visual content have a seven times higher conversion rate.

There are many more studies by marketers and psychologists which prove that visual content matters.

Visual content is critical from the search engine optimization (SEO) perspective. However, not just any type of visuals will do. It is important to create high-quality visuals that are useful and informative to your target audience. According to Google:

“Creating compelling content will influence your website more than any other factors…”

Regardless of the type of visual content you decide to use, creating a high-quality piece must be your priority. If you are sharing engaging and relevant content with your target audience, search engines will take notice. A great piece of visual content not only attracts more eyes to your content, but it also skyrockets patient engagement.

How to Use Visuals During Patient Journey

Let us restrict our focus to three main areas: attracting potential patients, converting prospects into leads and converting leads into loyal patients.


Using visuals to attract potential patients

The best way to attract potential patients is by making it easier for them to find your practice, instead of your marketing team hunting them down. This might seem counterintuitive to some, but people are becoming immune to email outreach, so you just need to be available at the right time and in the right place whenever your target audience decides to look for you.

So, where do most potential customers usually look for services? Either on social networking sites, or search engines, or third-party review sites.

Lately, there has been a constant emphasis on visual content due to the changes occurring across almost every social networking site, such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter. According to a 2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, nearly 80 percent of marketers use visual content in their social media marketing. Video has already surpassed blogging in usage on social networking sites.


This is a significant statistic because just a couple of years ago, blogging was the holy grail of healthcare marketing. Now marketers are focusing less on developing loyal patients and more on leveraging these platforms to attract new eyes to their products and services. A significant percentage of marketers think their social media efforts generated considerable exposure for their brand and services.


Increasing traffic and attracting potential patients is becoming the key reason why medical practices rely on social networking sites. Consistently sharing appealing visuals on social media is one of the best ways to draw new eyes to your brand and to be there when your target audience is looking for healthcare services.

Potential patients also use search engines when trying to find answers to specific health challenges they are having – challenges that your practice could potentially help address. Improving your website’s search ranking will allow you to be found when a potential patient is looking for solutions to health problems. Visual content impacts all three SEO elements: time-on-page, visitor engagement and backlinks, which could help your website rank higher and cause more visitors to stay longer on your website.

Using visuals to convert visitors into leads

For most healthcare marketers, lead generation is the most important goal. Still, the majority of them ignore visual content when working on improving lead generation. As we all know, lead generation requires a strong lead magnet, which is an incentive that you offer to your target audience in exchange for their contact details. Your choice of visuals in your lead magnet campaign depends on your goal and target audience, but some types of visual content have the highest conversion rates. eBooks are at the top of this list. eBooks are a great way to present complex data in an easy-to-digest form. They are an amazing way to generate qualified leads as they offer specific product information that caters to your target audience. eBooks are usually gated by a lead-generation form, requiring visitors to submit their contact information before downloading or accessing the content.

We have already mentioned why ignoring video is a bad idea for your medical practice. However, videos could contribute significantly to an increase in lead generation. Adding videos to your landing page can increase your conversion rate by as much as 80 percent.

If you plan on using a blog or social media sites to generate leads, then using picture icons can be a powerful way to increase your lead-generation or conversion rates. These icons can draw the eye of your readers and guide them along the journey.


Using visuals to convert leads into loyal patients

Generating qualified leads is half the battle. Unfortunately, nothing you have done so far will be meaningful if you do not execute on the other half: converting leads into patients.

This part of the battle is called the lead nurturing phase. This stage refers to the process of developing relationships with qualified leads until they reach the end stage of the marketing funnel – which is to visit your practice.

In this stage, the key goal of a marketer is to educate the potential patient, gaining his or her trust by educating him or her on how your product or service could solve their health issues. However, this does not mean sending them one hundred emails or making a dozen calls until they either visit your practice or unsubscribe.

Instead, it is advised to keep adding value to qualified leads until they decide to open their wallets and visit your practice. So how can you use visuals to increase your conversion rates and win more patients?


According to experts, recipients are more likely to read your email if it includes an image or a video. As mentioned earlier, conversion rates for brands using visuals are seven times higher than those that do not. Additionally, another type of content that stands out at this stage is webinars. Webinars are a secret weapon when trying to educate your potential patients and show them the benefits of your offerings.

Adding a webinar in your lead-nurturing campaigns significantly increases your chances of converting leads into paying patients.
The right visuals could skyrocket your conversion rates, but the wrong one could contribute to a lost sale. The right visual content, targeting the right people at the right time, will set you apart from the oversupply of healthcare content available online.



Do not make the mistake of ignoring visual content in your overall healthcare marketing strategy. Potential patients have built resistance to the traditional marketing tricks used by healthcare marketers, and what worked in the past no longer improves ROI today.

Therefore, to set your brand apart, you need to learn from the mistakes of other healthcare marketers and adapt to emerging healthcare marketing trends.

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Here’s How Social Media is Playing a Key Role in Providing Health Care as Never Before

Here’s How Social Media is Playing a Key Role in Providing Health Care as Never Before | Social Media and Healthcare |

Medical care services prevalent today are not quite the same as previous eras would ever have encountered. Apart from improvements in clinical protocols and infrastructure available to healthcare providers today, one of the fundamental technologies that have emerged to assist modern healthcare services is social media.

Today hospitals and doctors are all on the social media bandwagon. The boost of online media as of late has given medical care service providers more adaptability than ever in making sense of strategies and to elongate their reach and to support the patients. Medical care services, especially hospitals, are utilising online networking channels to build up a rapport, establish contact with their patients, answer inquiries regarding practices, perform community outreach, and launching public awareness campaigns.

Let’s discuss five innovative ways in which social media is revolutionising the healthcare industry.

Leverage Research

Majority of healthcare providers and doctors are utilising social media platforms to research on medical gadgets, biotech information, and pharmaceutical data. They can browse social media pages of device manufacturers and pharmaceutical organisations for the same.

Physicians can even utilise online networking channels as an instrument to connect with other professionals within their fields. They can also track online journals of different specialities to get familiar with their practices. Due to the footprint of social networking being found in every domain, this enormous data can be utilised throughout the world for the good of humanity. Accordingly, doctors, pharmaceutical organisations, emergency clinics are employing these platforms for the given reasons:-

  1. For distributing the latest research.

  2. To post case data, pictures, and results (after permission).

  3. To educate medical services consumers.

  4. Marketing of new medical devices.

  5. Give patients any updates that identify with the practice itself.

  6. Share patient testimonials and surveys.

As progressively more individuals use social media for their medicinal purposes, online giants like Facebook, LinkedIn and others will indeed have plenty of data to utilise for scientific research.

Source of Medical Awareness

Further with such a massive amount of accessible data about different maladies and other general wellbeing problems, there is an excellent opportunity to utilise online networking platforms as a source of information as well.

For instance, in case that medical care service providers know about a looming epidemic, they can make provisions for precautionary measures and make practitioners available.

They can furthermore suggest appropriate educational information to stall the effect of inaccurate information and guidance. Sharing news concerning health hazards or outbreaks is an efficient method for the healthcare organisation to utilise the data in a matter of minutes.

One such awareness program is the ice bucket challenge campaign for crowdfunding and spreading knowledge about the rare disease – Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). In the year 2014, the charity campaign went viral which even marked the participation of more than 17 million people comprising of well-known people from Bill Gates to George W. Bush.

Millions of individuals used the social media platform to posted video to accomplish the challenge and give a donation to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association.

As per the ALS Association, the campaign gathered a huge amount of more than $115 million from which 67per cent, of the funds, were entitled to research and another 20per cent, were granted to patient and community services.

Medical care industry additionally acknowledges these platforms as tools to spread knowledge among via diverse methods like sharing a general message about flu shots and tips to avoid a cold.

Direct Online Meetings

Twitter has been held onto for online medical meetings. The meeting coordinators would create KOLs tweet and hashtags in which even patients are locked in. The rarer the ailment, the more the patient gets awareness through this medium.

Development in the space of KOL social networks is foreseen around healthcare meetings and staff-driven learning in general. Such systems will spread knowledge in their networks and examine symptoms that are at present discussed face to face but in a secure and docile way. It is going to revolutionise the way KOL management and data presentations are produced and maintained.

Quicker Communication and Support

Everybody knows how critical regular checkups are for our wellbeing. However, people also neglect appointments.

However, by these social media platforms, medical care organisations would now be able to utilise these channels to send notifications and allow straightforward scheduling for people, along with delivering personalised reports catered to the requirements of the person. With this data on the web, it decreases the number of calls that patients would make to the practitioner's office, which in return assists them to commit more time towards the essential work of treatment.

Online networking platforms are designed to grant patients the facility to obtain information real-time and interact with others.

Instant Patient Feedback

To accumulate feedback and improve quality, feedbacks on social media can offer physicians and medical care service providers prompt responses from patients to help comprehend common consequences of meds, and a general accord from patients on new procedures in this sector.


Utilising this real-time and swift feedback accessible via online portals enables healthcare service providers to study patient responses thoroughly and adapt and change. Besides, by using the reviews on these platforms, healthcare organisations have the chance to assess the likelihood of additional administrations in the industry.

Besides, by using the reviews on these platforms, healthcare organisations have the chance to assess the likelihood of additional administrations in the industry. One such model is - Artificial Intelligence helping physicians to triage patient care.

For instance, an AI-powered solution can facilitate operations at scale by allowing reading of radiology images from rural regions, wherein the images uploaded by the radiographer at the remote area.

Doctors who utilise AI to anticipate if a patient has a high close term risk for encountering any disease would then be able to organize resources and attention on the patient covering diagnosis and treatment plan. AI will eventually improve care as well as upgrade the patient-doctor relationships.

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Responding to online patient reviews: Legal and practical considerations for physicians

Responding to online patient reviews: Legal and practical considerations for physicians | Social Media and Healthcare |

In the age of immediate access to online platforms such as Google, Yelp and Healthgrades, patients are able to share physician reviews, many of which are positive but at times can be negative and potentially false. Negative reviews are damaging to a physician’s professional and personal reputation, but the way a physician responds may have a longer and far worse effect. Before a physician responds to a negative online review, he or she should consider the legal implications.

Physicians and other health care providers should know that online sites with patient reviews are immune from most litigation under Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act (the “Act”).1 The Act was passed by Congress in part to promote the continued development of the internet and encourage free market competition.2 The Act sets forth that “[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”3 In other words, in most instances, the Act holds online sites immune from liability for defamatory statements made by a third party.

Defending oneself has pitfalls

Physicians should also be cautious in responding to online patient reviews, to avoid an allegation of a privacy violation. Even if a patient has shared his or her own personal medical information online, physicians are still barred from disclosing patient information under HIPAA and state privacy laws. As a physician, it can be frustrating to receive a negative or false review. And yet, it is important not to defend treatment decisions online or even acknowledge that a person who shared a review was a patient. Rather than responding directly to patient reviews and becoming the target of a potential lawsuit, physicians may want to consider less-defensive strategies. Health care providers tempted to sue patients for defamation related to online reviews and postings should also be aware of Indiana’s so-called Anti-SLAPP Statute4, which provides for prompt dismissal of litigation aimed at squelching free speech in connection with a public issue and an award of attorney’s fees.

Some alternatives for physicians

One alternative is to contact the patient by phone, or offer to meet with them in person to discuss the situation and reach a mutual understanding. If the patient was upset about a treatment decision, it may be helpful to revisit the conversation and explain best practices or standards used by your practice, hospital or other medical setting. Physicians can also take the approach of encouraging patient reviews from all patients, as increased positive reviews may lessen the impact of a few negative reviews. Finally, physicians should utilize social media and other online platforms to their advantage by keeping online profiles updated.

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Study: U.S. doctors lag Asian counterparts in comfort with digital platforms 

Study: U.S. doctors lag Asian counterparts in comfort with digital platforms  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Doctors are steadily becoming more comfortable with digital channels, with more than eight in 10 preferring them for product information, according to a survey from Indegene. 

Although digital is rising in prominence overall, face-to-face tablet-based detailing is still the most preferred channel for product information for 73% of U.S. doctors. After that, U.S. doctors want to get their product information from journals (66%), direct mail (57%), websites (56%), and marketing emails (54%).

Over the past three years, doctors’ overall preference for digital has risen. In 2015, 72% of doctors globally preferred digital channels, and that number reached 82% last year. Digital has also overtaken doctors’ preference to work with medical representatives.

“This is the first time that the digital channel [score]  is going beyond the medical rep score,” said Gaurav Kapoor, cofounder and EVP of Indegene. “In the five years [we’ve done this survey], this is the first time the doctors in U.S. and globally are ready for an omnichannel world.”

Doctors in the U.S. and their counterparts in India and China have different preferences for obtaining product information and communicating with their patients, with doctors in India and China more likely to use emerging digital channels for both. Doctors in India and China mostly prefer face-to-face detailing for product information (69%), but they are also more comfortable using social and digital methods for this information. Nearly 60% use social apps for product information, compared to 34% of U.S. doctors, and half use text messaging, compared to 29% in the U.S.

More than half of Indian and Chinese doctors use text messaging to communicate with patients, 64% use social messaging, and 49% use health apps. Only about 30% of U.S. doctors prefer each of these channels.

Kapoor attributed this digital and social comfort to the popularity of WeChat in these regions, where the app is widely used by patients, doctors, and pharma companies. 

“Apps like WeChat are exploding, and I think that’s a huge influence on our report,” Kapoor said. “Every brand in pharma has a WeChat channel for every brand that connects patients and doctors, and it becomes a central point of communication. That kind of revolution has not happened in the U.S. yet.”

Real-world evidence began to play a bigger role in drug development and approval in 2016 due to the U.S. 21st Century Cures Act. Just a couple years later, it has become the sixth-most-sought-after data set by doctors.

Safety and efficacy information are the most-sought after data, but 72% of U.S. doctors are looking for real-world evidence, along with 80% of doctors in the rest of the world.

About 60% of U.S. doctors also consider real-world evidence when prescribing a drug, and price is also a large consideration, said 63% of U.S. doctors. Both real-world evidence and price are closing in on the top two considerations for prescribing, efficacy (76%) and safety information (67%).

The move to digital channels could mean changes in launch strategies in the coming years, Kapoor said, predicting that some pharma or biotech companies may experiment with digital-only product launches as the preference for digital continues to rise.

“We deal with some of the most intellectual minds, and they’re moving fast,” Kapoor said. “Today, doctors are expecting pharma to also move quickly. It’s so expensive to do a traditional launch, so these new generation, smaller oncology biotech companies may be encouraged to use digital channels for knowledge sharing.”

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Healthcare Marketing: 22 Proven Strategies to Win Patients

Healthcare Marketing: 22 Proven Strategies to Win Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

Make Your Website Easy on Buyers

Millennials are changing the game when it comes to healthcare. As this group starts to represent the dominant market share of health consumers, providers must understand their expectations.

Many patients see going to the doctor as a chore and as such, healthcare providers need to make it easy to book appointments and check in. If possible, allow patients to fill out medical histories online before their visit.

Some ways to add more convenience to your site:

  • Fast page load times
  • Online booking
  • Online bill pay
  • Messaging capabilities
  • Virtual visits
  • Online prescription renewal
  • Ability to look up doctors

Use Content Marketing to Your Advantage

Blog content provides another avenue for making connections with your audience. While medical professionals might not think that blogging is a natural fit, it’s actually one of the best ways to increase your reach. Key benefits include positioning yourself as a thought leader, generating leads, and improving your performance in Google’s search results.

Develop a Content Strategy

Wondering how to start your healthcare blogging effort? Having a content strategy is a lifesaver. First, establish a set of goals.

What do you hope to accomplish with the content? Possible content goals might include the following:

  • Lead generation
  • Demonstrating expertise
  • Ranking higher in Google results
  • Educating patients

Once you’ve got a sense of what you want the content to do, start coming up with some ideas that play into your healthcare marketing strategy. Think about the questions patients ask you most often or the latest developments in your field. Content should educate your audience and feel fresh and relevant to your readers.

Cedars-Sinai blog does a great job of segmenting out subjects and providing a range of topics that cater to their audience.

An educational blog is part of a good healthcare marketing strategy. Image courtesy of Cedars-Sinai

Aim to have several blog posts in the pipeline so that it’s easy to stick to a regular schedule.

Your blog content should feature a range of posts, some with an educational bent, others that are lighter and more fun. Still, all should center around a unified theme—health-focused content related to your practice.

Types of Content:

  • Listicles—think top ten fitness trends, easy recipes for heart health. Listicles tend to be on the “lighter” end of the content spectrum
  • How-To Guides–How-tos are both easy to write and highly clickable, as they tend to answer questions people search for on Google.
  • Articles—Traditional articles are the best way to show expertise. Talk about new research breakthroughs and what they mean. Or, look at the science behind a fad diet or describe what it’s like to get a nose job.
  • Infographics—use infographics to present statistics or “dry” data sets in an approachable, visually exciting way.

Additionally, opinion posts can help you demonstrate thought leadership in your field, while anecdotal stories from inside the clinic can give readers new insight. Of course, if you do plan on sharing stories, keep privacy laws top of mind.

For the Best Healthcare Marketing, Hire the Right People

Some physicians take care of the blogging process themselves, while others rely on help from marketers and writers.

One of the biggest challenges in content marketing is regularly generating content. When you have a blog that you update on an irregular schedule, you lose out on some of the critical benefits of content marketing.

Identify and hire writers, editors, and designers that can transform medical expertise (from doctors and nurses) into content people connect with.

You’ll want to channel that “friendly expert” tone, which builds trust with patients and helps them understand complex terms. Sometimes experienced medical professionals forget that the average patient isn’t as invested in technical details or sorting through datasets.

Write for Your Audience

Carefully consider your audience as you develop a content plan. If your practice primarily serves children, speak to parents’ concerns about things like common illnesses, vaccines, or nutrition. If it’s a hospital, take a zoomed-out view—covering everything from preventative care to what you should expect while recovering from knee surgery.

Patients want to hear stories about your experience and receive recommendations from you and your team.

Make Connections with Video for Healthcare Marketing

Video content is a great way to build connections with any audience, but it’s particularly useful in the medical space. When patients look for a new physician, video content can help put them at ease before they book that first appointment.

YouTube videos can be used to explain procedures, share information about preventative medicine, and go over what to expect after surgery. Video marketing allows you to build brand awareness while educating the public. It’s also a great way to boost credibility by showcasing testimonials or offering a peek behind the curtain.

Video is good for SEO, too. When website visitors watch a video, it increases the average amount of time spent on your site. As such, you’re more likely to show up on the front page of Google than you would if you relied exclusively on text-based content.

Invest in a Patient Experience Strategy

People trust online reviews almost as much as they believe a personal recommendation from a friend. Healthcare companies that want to compete in the online landscape know that reputation matters—a lot.

Today’s health consumer is more empowered than ever to take to the keyboard and find the hospital or practice that best meets their needs. They’re no longer stuck with the option dictated by their zip code.

But a successful healthcare marketing strategy takes more than digital into account.

A winning patient experience strategy lays the foundation for the great reviews that attract more business. But that experience is about more than the doctor visit alone.

Instead, it’s the sum of multiple interactions spanning website functionality to wait times. Did the patient feel like the doctor listened to their concerns? Was the facility clean and comfortable?

While patient experience is an expansive category that demands a strategic approach, here are some areas that make a big difference for patients.

Be an Active Listener

The relationship between patients and providers is changing. People want to take an active role in their own healthcare and may wish to discuss what they’ve learned online or ask several questions.

Taking the time to converse with patients and explain procedures or how a medication is supposed to work makes patients feel like they have some control. While this effort might add a few minutes to the visit, taking the time to answer questions puts patients at ease and makes them feel like you care.

Encourage Participation in Care

Patients should be given the tools needed to stay on top of their health. If patients have a condition, doctors should point them toward several ways to manage their symptoms and stay healthy long-term. Approach decision making like the team-effort it is, and you’re bound to see better patient outcomes and satisfaction.

Embrace Technology

Technology and patient satisfaction go hand in hand and in healthcare, function as a way to improve communication between providers and patients.

The right technology takes communication outside of the facility walls and facilitates patient engagement.

The ability to view test results or book an appointment online is a big deal. It’s these little things like SMS appointment reminders or the ability to go paperless that add up to a better experience.

Make processes as easy as possible for the best healthcare marketing. Image courtesy of Kaiser Permanente

Create a Comfortable Office Space

Though this one may seem a bit outside the bounds of healthcare marketing, the physical elements of your office play a role in how your patient views the overall experience, and should be taken into account in your strategy.

If your waiting room is cold, drab, and uncomfortable, patients will focus on how miserable they are. Which, in turn, colors how they view the quality of care.

It’s the same principle you would use when selecting a logo or website design. You want it to be memorable, easily recognizable, and a place that people want to spend time.

Medical facilities are known for long wait times. Make the experience better by keeping customers informed of delays and adding a few amenities to the space. Comfortable chairs and access to drinking water or coffee and tea can make a difference.

Additionally, free WiFi, work tables, and charging stations can make the waiting room an active experience—allowing patients to make the most out of their time and walk away with a positive impression.

Take Feedback Seriously

Continuous feedback is central to improving the healthcare experience. Are patients happy with the care they receive? Do they feel like they’re spending too much time in the waiting room or feel that the facilities could improve?

Find out what patients think by asking them to complete a survey. In this instance, you can use paper surveys to collect feedback, but people often throw these out or fail to return them. Instead, it may be worth investing in an automated survey delivery service that connects with customers via email or SMS.

Finally, make a point of asking happy patients for reviews. When patients are satisfied with your service, they won’t mind spreading the word. Gain insights into what patients like—or don’t like—about your practice.

Focus on Facebook

Social media and healthcare marketing are a match made in heaven, particularly Facebook, due to its massive user base and targeted ads, and groups. Healthcare marketing content tends to have a personal, positive tone, making it a perfect fit for the platform.

A few areas where Facebook can boost your healthcare marketing efforts:

Promote Content on Facebook

Fill up your feed with blog posts, video content, and testimonials. Facebook is a great way to drive more traffic to your website and generate leads. Take advantage of targeting tools to segment organic posts and make sure they reach the right people.

User-Generated Content

According to a recent survey, consumers are three times more likely to say content created by a consumer is more authentic than content created by a brand. Why not get your patients to do some of the marketing for you?

User-generated is more popular than ever and should be used in your healthcare marketing strategy. Image courtesy of Stackla

Patient reviews are a great way to improve the credibility of your practice, as we’ve mentioned above. Share positive comments or patient testimonials on your Facebook account to encourage engagement.   

Patients want to see that there are other people that understand their health challenges. It’s isolating to deal with a chronic illness or a sick family member. Encourage your audience to share positive stories on your platform.

Facebook Advertising

Facebook advertising is a great way to reach potential patients. Ads provide more context than what you’d see in the average Google ad, with photo displays and fewer limitations. But keep in mind, Facebook ads depend on more than boosting posts.

You’ll need to put together a well-thought-out strategy with a specific approach toward targeting.

Consider your patient base and whether you’d like to expand that audience. For example, if you’re a cosmetic dentist, you might generally advertise to women in their late 20s through late 40s who are higher earners. In this case, you might run one ad for this group, but also a slightly different one for professional men in this age group.

Local Search is Huge for Healthcare Marketing

What do people look for when trying to find a new healthcare provider? They want the best quality care closest to home. Most patients start their search on Google but also look at healthcare directories like RateMD or ZocDoc, as well as general sites like Yelp.

If someone can’t find you online, they probably won’t find you at all. And if by some miracle they do hear about you, they might see your lack of online presence as suspect.

As such, it’s important to take some time to make sure your information is correct and easy to find.

 Register with Google My Business

Google My Business is a free listing service, perfect for all types of brick and mortar businesses. Most healthcare searches are local, and people are looking for a practice that’s convenient for them.

How it works is, Google My Business uses data provided by verified Google My Business Accounts. So, if a patient types in “doctors office near me” or “Los Angeles pediatrician” your facility has an opportunity to appear as a top listing, based on proximity to the user’s location.

Your Google My Business account shows up on Google maps and lists Google reviews alongside your name and address. As you earn positive reviews, you’ll start to perform better in local search results, thus driving traffic to your site.

A few tips to improve your listing move closer to the top:

  • Add hours—This helps patients see what times they can call to book an appointment or call your office
  • Include clear, recent photos of your practice — Patients want to see what the doctors and the facility look like before they schedule an appointment.
  • Choose categories — what types of services do you provide?

If you don’t have a ton of reviews yet, consider running local search ads to boost your visibility and get more calls. Before you launch a campaign, make sure you complete your profile and upload photos so that you nail that first impression.

Register with Directories and Review Sites

Make sure all of your information is consistent across web directories and citations. Your business name, address, and phone number (NAP), as well as your URL, should be the same across every channel that features your information.

This process can be tedious and time-consuming if you update all entries manually, so you might want to invest in a tool that automates the updates. Yext and Moz Local offer paid local search tools that can save you some serious time here.

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that all doctors are listed on sites like BetterDoctor, ZocDoc, Vitals, and Healthgrades. Being registered and collecting positive reviews will make your practice easier to find.

Incorporate an Employee Advocacy Program in Your Healthcare Marketing

Lean on your doctors, nurses, and administrative staff to promote your practice. Even something as simple as liking the company Facebook page, re-sharing a post on Twitter can send a positive message about company culture.

Get Support from the Top

Make sure you have support from senior leadership. Employee advocacy works better when leadership takes an active role in internal social media culture and sets an example by sharing content, anecdotes, and relevant content.

Establish Clear Posting Guidelines

Healthcare presents some challenges where social media activity is concerned due to patient confidentiality regulations. As such, some staff might not have a clear picture of what kind of content is appropriate to post.

Successful employee advocacy programs rely on guidelines that give employees a sense of what to promote, without concern that they are posting something they didn’t realize was confidential.

Wrapping Up Healthcare Marketing

Healthcare marketing doesn’t have to be hard. The strategies above work together to ensure that patients receive a positive experience that empowers them to make healthy choices.

Consider your target market and how you can best connect with that audience. Your goal is to show that you’re there to help, so focus on building trust over trying to pressure patients into booking an appointment.

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3 Ways Dentists Can Use Social Media to Build Their Practice

3 Ways Dentists Can Use Social Media to Build Their Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |

Rather you like it or not, social media is a big part of the general populations lives. An average, a person spends over 10 hours a week interacting with social platforms. With so much time being spent on FB, Twitter, and Instagram, it only make sense to market through these channels.


While connecting with friends and family on social media is very cut and try, effectively using these sites for businesses is much more difficult. To make matters more confusing, the tactics used for B2B companies can be vastly different from what will work for local. With so many different ways to engage an audience, how is a dentist supposed to know what will work for his/her practice.

Implementing a robust social strategy can take a lot of time and money, so we thought we would start small. Below are the 3 easiest things you can do to start implementing a social media campaign for your dental practice.

1. Have a Great Business Profile

Having social media profiles that look great is extremely important. People are going to judge the quality of your dental services by what they see online. We strongly recommend hiring a professional outfit to come in a design a custom FB & Twitter profile. This will ensure when people visit your page, at the very least, they won’t get a negative impression of your professional ability. Below are the 3 things that must be done right with your business profile.

  • Great Looking Profile & Background Images – Within FB and Twitter, you have the ability to add a custom profile & background image. It is absolutely critical that these look professional and represent your practice in a positive way. Make sure you avoid using an outdated, ugly logo or background pictures that don’t make sense.
  • Robust Catalogue of  Pictures – Current and potential customers that engage with your social profiles are looking to get to know your dental practice. Having nice looking pictures of you and your staff make it much easier to form an emotional connection.
  • Accurate Practice Details – I can’t tell you how many dental profiles I seen on FB that don’t have the right business information. This could be anything from the correct address & phone number to accurate operating hours. To take full advantage of social media, it’s critical to provide the right business details.

2. Give Users a Reason to Follow Your Profile

You have a few different options with how you can give users a reason to follow your business on FB & twitter. However, the two easiest ways is with exclusive promotions and/or interesting updates.

  • Exclusive Promotions – This is the easiest way to start generating social engagement. If you offer some kind of promotion users can only get from your FB or Twitter profile, you will definitely start getting some followers. If you are just starting to leverage social, you may have to promote these special offers offline. Having a small print ad customers can pick up when they come in your office is an easy way to start getting some traction.
  • Interesting Updates – Offering interesting updates can vary from practice to practice. This seems to work better for the dentists that offer a more technical service; however, the general idea is the same. You want to start providing answers to people’s questions. This could be about the latest dental practices or about new medical research. The idea is to be the expert in your space and offer a perspective that the general population finds interesting.

3. Contribute to the Dental Community

There’s no question Google is rewarding dental practice that are effectively leveraging social media. When they see your business profile is getting likes and shares, it’s a social signal of engagement. One of the easiest ways to start driving some new, qualified likes is within the dental community.

FB Groups are a great way to contribute to the industry. We encourage you to spend 30 to 60 min a week interacting with the different communities. This will give you a chance to network with others in your space and drive some additional engagement.

There’s no question social media affects how your website performs in Google and the other search engines. If you create a nice looking profile, offer promotions/interesting content, and interact within the dental community, you can start to see the benefits from FB, Twitter, and Instagram.

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How do you find a credible healthcare digital marketing company?

How do you find a credible healthcare digital marketing company? | Social Media and Healthcare |

One percent of all Google searches are related to medical symptoms. Every day there are approximately 3.5 billion Google searches online related to medical information only.

Currently, with over 460 million Internet users, India is the second largest online market. By 2021, there is expected to be about 635.8 million Internet users in India thereby reiterating the need for a stronger medical and healthcare representation in line with the Digital India Initiative.

In today’s competitive marketplace, hospitals, private practitioners, diagnostic centres and healthcare centres need a strong online presence to attract new patients to remain profitable. The doctors and medical specialists need to be visible on the search engines, on social media platforms, and in local directories since the growing Indian population especially in urban areas is increasingly relying on online searches for healthcare matters.

Medical practices have specialized marketing requirements. While they emphasize on local marketing, global new developments/ research/ latest techniques in the field of medicine are shared online. Similarly, while the search-engine-friendly website focuses on more conversions and patient retention, there is an underlying need for compliance with medical authorities.

It may be overwhelming for a Doctor to create a trustworthy brand and to quickly rise in the medical profession with a limited audience/patient list. This is where a digital agency with the know-how of the medical profession backed by market research, can intervene to prepare the right marketing strategy to achieve growth in the digital health care marketing sector.

The services offered by a digital agency encompasses:-
a.) Search engine optimization (SEO): Search engine optimization services and strategies help to get your website on Google ranked on page 1 in organic and local search results.

b.) Social media marketing (SMM): Social media marketing is becoming useful for both practitioners and researchers. Social media advertising also has built-in data analytics tools, which enable one to track the progress, success, and engagement of ad campaigns. Audiences increasingly are leaning more toward visual content. SMM offers options of videos where you can either get your physicians on camera speaking about their area of expertise or have videos of your latest medical advancements.

Now that you are aware of the importance of online healthcare services, it’s time to identify a credible healthcare digital marketing agency, which can handle your SEO and SMM.

Before you select the healthcare digital marketing agency with the right fit of services for your business, here’s what you need to ask: -

1.) What is the aim to go digital?
Is it for more patients to identify specialty health services offered by the hospital/clinic? Is it to increase the number of appointments to the hospital/clinic? Is it to maintain records of all patients? List every aim you have in mind to target the best media mix. However, with the constant state of flux in digital marketing, it is no secret that your aims will need to be re-evaluated at regular intervals to stay on top of the marketing game.

2.) Which digital agency should I work with?
Do a web search and you will be confused about which digital agency you should pick? A local service provider usually is the best bet since it understands the market and may also offer vernacular content online amongst its various SEO, SMM services offered. So look for various digital marketing companies who are located in your city and have also preferably previously worked with other medical clients.

3.) How do I know if the agency is credible?
Testimonials, agency awards, brand creation all point towards the credibility of the digital agency. The website of the agency itself is a window to its work, its services, its accolades. If an agency promises you an immediate No.1 ranking in Google search results or any other big numbers overnight, please take a step back to reconsider. This is so similar to selecting a perfect health insurance plan! After your meetings with the agency and shortlisting it, do read the terms and conditions and understand the contract before finalizing with the agency.

4.) Is the agency accountable and transparent?
The digital marketing agency should be able to send regular reports once your easy-to-navigate website is constructed. With Google Analytics, an agency can track your website traffic to transactions that were made through either your paid search or website. Also, traffic generated on social media marketing should be constantly monitored in line with the initial healthcare marketing plan. Reports should be made available to you, which will help you understand how effective your overall marketing strategy has been towards the numbers you had set out to achieve in the very beginning.

5.) Does the agency understand my needs and budget?
The agency you hire has to understand your passion and need for online marketing. They should be able to handle your campaign and make the decisions they think are right. In the end, it’s their expertise and your objective coming together towards achieving the set goals at the right price.

6.) Will the agency be able to provide long-term support?
In the world of digital marketing, it is good to work with a financially stable agency that has been in the business for some time handling varied clientele. Since digital marketing campaigns like SEO and email marketing do require a prolonged effort, partnering with a stable agency is important. If you keep changing agencies, starting over may not only cause a decline in short-term results but also may involve a great deal of additional cost and time.

7.) How do I check results?
How to use a limited marketing budget for the best results is always a daunting task. But with tools to measure efficacy, it has become possible to track and attribute results of individual campaigns. Ensure your digital marketing strategy has a plan in place for managing your data that reflects your ROI metrics in terms of cost per lead (CPL), patient acquisition, admission rates, patient retention rate, patient engagement, referrals etc. Build your digital marketing campaigns using this data and keep altering campaigns in real-time if they are not producing the best results.

Having followed the above, you are now set to conclude on the selection of a credible healthcare digital marketing company. The company with the best fit will offer a strategy that includes a mix of a user-friendly responsive website, search advertising, display advertising, blogs, search engine optimization, social media, social media marketing, offline email marketing, video content as required to achieve your objective. All online strategies must work together synergistically to drive response. It’s about Tying It All Together.

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How to Do Healthcare Social Media Right

James LaCorte, Social Media Manager at Blue Cross NC, joins the Social Pros Podcast to discuss the ins and outs of being a healthcare social media manager
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Woman sues medical group after her medical information was posted on Twitter

Woman sues medical group after her medical information was posted on Twitter | Social Media and Healthcare |

A woman at the center of a lawsuit said Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group did not inform her of a privacy breach of her medical records until she called after seeing the records posted on social media.

Gina Graziano called it a breach of trust, and said Northwestern should have better policies in place.

“I was humiliated,” she said. “Embarrassed.”

Graziano filed a lawsuit against Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group, her ex-boyfriend David Wirth and his girlfriend, Jessica Wagner.

“I did not know her,” Graziano said of Wagner. She said she also did not know Wirth and Wagner were dating.

The suit alleges Wagner, a hospital employee, used her credentials to log in and access Graziano’s medical records, charts and files. Then, Wirth posted about procedures and treatments Graziano received at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital on social media.

“That point I know, that curiosity intrigued them enough to know more about me, and my name was searched in a database on two separate dates — March 5 and March 6,” Graziano said.

In a letter from Northwestern Medicine to Graziano, the hospital acknowledges after “a thorough investigation” there was “inappropriate access” to her medical record by an employee on March 5 and 6 of last year. The lawsuit said Wagner looked at the records for about 37 minutes and provided them to Wirth.

On March 5 the lawsuit says Wirth put Graziano’s private information on Twitter. A police report said Wagner was fired from Northwestern Medicine because of the incident.

In a video of Wagner being questioned by Bloomingdale Police, she told the officer someone must have used her computer to access the records after she logged in.

“Can you think of any scenario under which somebody else would search for your boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend’s medical history on your computer?” the officer can be heard asking.

“No, and that’s where I am coming to the point that I search a thousand charts a day,” Wagner said in the video.

“It’s a complete invasion of my client’s privacy,” said attorney Ted Diamantopoulos. “When a patient goes to a hospital, they expect to have their medical records private.”

“They were treating me for something I didn’t want anybody to know about,” Graziano said. “Northwestern needs better policies in place for their staff to understand what HIPAA really means.”

A lawyer for Wagner and Wirth did not respond to requests comment.

Neither has been charged with any crime in this case.

Wirth did receive six months’ probation and paid a fine for harassing Graziano in a separate case.

Northwestern issued the the following statement regarding the lawsuit:

“Protecting the confidentiality of patient information is essential to our mission. Employees are trained to comply with privacy laws and face disciplinary action in accordance with our privacy policy for any violation. Regarding this specific incident, we do not comment on pending litigation.”

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Is pharma missing its social media moment?

Is pharma missing its social media moment? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Here’s a snippet of a conversation I had about seven years ago with a particularly nervous promotional review team that was considering the value of developing a presence on Twitter: “If we create a profile and all these people follow us, and all these people post adverse events, how will we ever keep up?”

“Oh, please, who do you think you are?” I replied, “Ashton Kutcher? Trust me, you are not that popular. You are a pharma company, albeit one under intense scrutiny, but don’t you have a pharmacovigilance group? Is it not its job to process AEs? We’ll just gather whatever information we can or triage them to your 1-800 number, just as we do with every other AE.”

I thought that rational perspective would ease the group’s worries and encourage it to become active in the social space. Well, it didn’t.

Adverse event reporting has always been the red herring of social media, in that it provides an easy excuse to say “we can’t do social media because we can’t manage the amount of commentary that needs to be managed.” But let’s be honest, how many AEs are really posted on social media?

I was having this very discussion recently with my friend Mary Ann Belliveau, Twitter’s national director, health and wellness. She recognizes that pharma is particularly nervous about assuming a formidable role on this powerful media platform.

Even though the widely held belief is that around 10% of AEs are reported across all media, Visible Technologies conducted a study that suggested otherwise. In a study of almost 150,000 posts around prescription statins and antihypertensives, it found only 3.27% discussed AEs. More recently, several Hale Advisors clients have shown me their own statistics, which are more in the 3% to 5% range.

Belliveau noted pharma marketers are currently able to advertise on Twitter without the use of a managed “handle” (@company). However, due to its current focus on transparency, Twitter will be transitioning all pharma advertisers to branded or corporate handles as of April 1. It’s a move Twitter believes will help patients, caregivers, and physicians better understand who is advertising to them.

We all know most brands — and promotional review teams — are uncomfortable managing online interactions, but Belliveau pointed to advertisers that use full-fledged branded profiles quite successfully. These brands are able to provide “social care,” which is helping them not only with adherence, but also with issues such as co-pay and availability of medicine.

For pharma companies that haven’t set up the infrastructure to respond to tweets, Twitter is recommending what it calls “blank profiles.” An example is @Apple. Because @Apple never organically tweets, its profile is empty except for responses to Twitter outreach.

Zoe Dunn, Hale Advisors

Brands such as Novartis’ @CosentyxUSOnly and @GilenyaGoUSOnly have had success with branded handles. They triage engagement by steering patients toward their 1-800 numbers. Alternately, some are activating online properties by driving patients to their websites to find specific answers to questions about reimbursement or co-pay assistance. Eli Lilly’s @Taltz and @Verzenio handles use best practices such as “rules of the road,” through which they share information about response times, hours of operation, and other information that helps manage patient expectations.

“The move into social care has been incredible for pharma,” Belliveau said. “It’s ironic that what pharma has been most afraid of — people talking to them — is actually an incredible strength when it comes to customer service and adherence. We’re even starting to see three-way dialogues between pharma companies, patients, and physicians, like at Abbott’s @FreeStyleDiabet. The reality is that people don’t care if you’re Delta Air Lines, Spotify, or Novartis. If they tweet at you, they expect a response. Not responding is akin to having an empty call center.”

For pharma companies that haven’t set up the infrastructure to respond to tweets, Twitter is recommending what it calls “blank profiles.” An example is @Apple. Because @Apple never organically tweets, its profile is empty except for responses to Twitter outreach.

Social media offers a significant opportunity to connect with the people who prescribe and use your products every day. We can use these platforms to share research, mine for insights, and even solve problems (by driving users to other customer-service channels) or spur better outcomes (by providing tips around treatment plans). Let’s not let the fear of AEs stop us when a solid response plan and triage to internal resources can make all the difference.

This may not be the best strategy for all brands, but most could benefit from getting closer to their customers. May you all one day be as popular as Ashton Kutcher is — or was in 2003, anyway.

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How to Engage Millennials on Social Media

How to Engage Millennials on Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media can be a bit tough to navigate. And specifically, connecting with millennials can be quite intimidating. Millennials have grown up as digital natives, and instead of seeing social media as a gathering of information, as someone slightly older might, they view social media as an opportunity to experience what other users have to offer and to create experiences themselves. The community is very important to them.

Millennials play a huge role in social media marketing in healthcare – they’re the generation that is tech-savvy, ‘in-touch’ and have grown up in a social media world. Therefore, they are a key target audience for digital marketing campaigns of medical practices. That is the reason why engaging with millennials is super important for brand awareness, patient acquisition, and patient retention.

Play Up The Visuals

Visuals do better on social media than content without visuals. And this is definitely true with the Millennial audience – videos, photos, gifs, and infographics constantly flood their social streams.

Therefore, you should create short videos on platforms like Instagram or Twitter to pique their interest. And produce longer videos for platforms like YouTube to explain something like pre or post-procedural preparations and share information through storytelling. Also, make sure your posts on Facebook and your tweets on Twitter include visuals whenever possible.

Given the benefits of social media in healthcare, you should be posting plenty of visual content anyway. People retain information better when visual content is present and engagement also goes up. So, get creative and try to pair as much content as you can with eye-catching visual content!

Encourage User-Generated Content

Millennials, for the most part, love user-generated content, and it can have a tremendous impact on your social media pages. Not only does it encourage active participation from your patients and followers, but it gives you content to share, thus lessening the burden for content creation on your part. And user-generated content tends to promote engagement, not only from millennials but from your entire follower base.


But what exactly is User-Generated Content?

User-Generated Content is defined as any type of content that has been created and put out there by unpaid contributors or, using a better term, patients. It can refer to pictures, videos, testimonials, tweets, blog posts, and everything in between. And it is the act of users promoting a brand/service.

User-generated content can have a significant impact on choosing a medical provider, given the tendency that people trust what other people have to say versus what the provider has to say.

But, how exactly do you encourage it?

You can have a testimonial section on your website and your social media pages. Be sure to share the positive reviews, as this also helps build loyalty. Or, you could run a contest, such as submitting a photo or sharing your content, along with the supplied hashtag for a chance to win an item, free consultation or visit discount.

Using Ephemeral Content

Ephemeral content is rich media, primarily images and videos, that are only accessible for a brief period. These types of disappearing stories have become an incredibly popular social media phenomenon. And considering that the best practices for social media in healthcare are to “be where your potential patient is”, it’s no surprise that the stories feature has become an essential social media strategy in the healthcare world.

Having a limited lifespan, temporary content creates a sense of urgency. Usually, there’s a 24-hour window to not only view the content, but to also react and share it with others. Therefore, you better act while there’s time. Essentially, temporary content will help raise your voice above permanent posts, grab your patient’s attention, and elicit a quick response.

In addition, your disappearing content needs to fit your overall practice image and be fresh, snappy, funny, and shareable. For example, try posting a sneak peek of the latest activities at your facility or a behind the scenes look at your facility.

Leverage Ambassadors and Influencers

Influencer marketing is one of the best ways to quickly build your brand online. This allows your practice to connect with your existing and potential patients in a more organic way than compared to traditional forms of digital advertising.

The beauty about influencer marketing is that the audience is already there, all you need to do is establish a win-win partnership where both parties are offering amazing value.

Here are four big benefits of using influencer marketing to bolster your social media strategy.

  • Quickly builds trust. Influencers have built relationships, trust, and credibility with their fans. People respect their content and recommendations.
  • It improves brand awareness. As noted, influencer marketing can greatly expand your reach and positioning online. Social users will begin to learn more about your brand, your story, who you are, and the services you offer.
  • Enriches your content strategy. Sharing influencer content can help fill in the gaps in your own content schedule.
  • Effectively reaches your target audience. Through relevant influencers, your content is placed in front of social users who are already interested in your niche. You don’t have to spend additional funds on testing and finding your potential patients.

To Sum Up

Marketing to the millennial generation requires a new and more strategic approach to audience attraction and engagement. You need to keep in mind what the world is like for this generational group and respond to the way that they like to interact with the world. Meet them where they are at, on platforms that they care about, and deliver the right message to the group. Make it as personal as possible and show off your values.

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Special Report: Online activists are silencing us, scientists say 

Special Report: Online activists are silencing us, scientists say  | Social Media and Healthcare |

The emails, tweets and blog posts in the “abuse” folder that Michael Sharpe keeps on his computer continue to pile up. Eight years after he published results of a clinical trial that found some patients with chronic fatigue syndrome can get a little better with the right talking and exercise therapies, the Oxford University professor is subjected to almost daily, often anonymous, intimidation.

A Twitter user who identifies himself as a patient called Paul Watton (@thegodofpleasur) wrote: “I really am looking forward to his professional demise and his much-deserved public humiliation.” Another, Anton Mayer (@MECFSNews), likened Sharpe’s behavior to “that of an abuser.”

Watton and Mayer have never been treated by Sharpe for their chronic fatigue syndrome, a little-understood condition that can bring crushing tiredness and pain. Nor have they met him, they told Reuters. They object to his work, they said, because they think it suggests their illness is psychological. Sharpe, a professor of psychological medicine, says that isn’t the case. He believes that chronic fatigue syndrome is a biological condition that can be perpetuated by social and psychological factors.

Sharpe is one of around a dozen researchers in this field worldwide who are on the receiving end of a campaign to discredit their work. For many scientists, it’s a new normal: From climate change to vaccines, activism and science are fighting it out online. Social media platforms are supercharging the battle.

Reuters contacted a dozen professors, doctors and researchers with experience of analyzing or testing potential treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome. All said they had been the target of online harassment because activists objected to their findings. Only two had definite plans to continue researching treatments. With as many as 17 million people worldwide suffering this disabling illness, scientific research into possible therapies should be growing, these experts said, not dwindling. What concerns them most, they said, is that patients could lose out if treatment research stalls.

A spokesperson for Twitter said the platform “exists to serve the public conversation. Its strength lies in providing people with a diversity of perspectives into critical issues – all in real-time.” Where someone used anonymity for bad purposes, Twitter would take immediate action, the spokesperson added.

Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, or CFS/ME, is described by specialists as a “complex, multisystem, and often devastating disorder.” Symptoms include overwhelming fatigue, joint pain, headaches, sleep problems and isolation. It can render patients bed- or house-bound for years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, estimates the illness costs the U.S. economy $17 billion to $24 billion annually in medical bills and lost incomes. It is thought to affect as many as 2.5 million people in the United States.

No cause has been identified, no formal diagnosis established and no cure developed. Many researchers cite evidence that talking therapies and behavioral approaches can help in some cases. Yet some patients and their advocates say this amounts to a suggestion that the syndrome might be a mental illness or psychosomatic, a notion that enrages them. They would prefer that research efforts focus on identifying a biological cause or diagnosis.


One of those leading the campaign against research into psychological therapies for CFS/ME is David Tuller, a former journalist with a doctor of public health degree from University of California, Berkeley. Tuller, who describes himself as an investigator, not a campaigner, told Reuters he wants to help CFS/ME patients.

Crowdfunded by a global band of CFS/ME sufferers, their families and patient activists, Tuller has since October 2015 published more than 140 blog posts amounting to tens of thousands of words attacking studies of psychological treatments and conferences that have showcased them. He’s recently complained to the CDC, New York’s Columbia University and Netflix. In 2018, Netflix ran a docu-series about CFS/ME patients. It said it wanted to show the difficulties of patients “suffering from elusive and misunderstood illnesses.”

Tuller refers to researchers who explore and test treatments for CFS/ME that feature a psychological element as “insane” and a “cabal” suffering from “mass delusion.” They are bent on pursuing “bogus and really terrible research,” he told Reuters.

Sharpe no longer conducts research into CFS/ME treatments, focusing instead on helping severely ill cancer patients. “It’s just too toxic,” he explained. Of more than 20 leading research groups who were publishing treatment studies in high-quality journals 10 years ago, Sharpe said, only one or two continue to do so.

The world’s largest trials registry,, indicates that over the past decade there has been a decline in the number of new CFS/ME treatment trials being launched. From 2010 to 2014, 33 such trials started. From 2015 until the present, the figure dropped to around 20. This decline comes at a time when research into ways to help patients should be growing, not falling, because the condition is more widely recognized, scientists interviewed by Reuters said.

Reuters spoke to three specialists in CFS/ME in Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands who have reported receiving online abuse but continue to work in the field. The specialist in the Netherlands, a psychologist who works at a chronic fatigue treatment center, said that a few years ago, research teams there had five treatment studies looking at cognitive behavioral therapies for CFS/ME patients. Now, they have no treatment studies at all. Junior researchers are wary of entering the field because of the abuse they’ve seen others suffer, said the specialist in Britain, a doctor who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Per Fink, a professor at the Research Clinic for Functional Disorders at Denmark’s Aarhus University Hospital, said he kept going because he didn’t want to let down patients, some severely ill, who are “open to any treatment that may help them.”


The term myalgic encephalomyelitis was first used in 1956 to describe a condition associated with post-illness fatigue among patients at London’s Royal Free Hospital. Thirty years later, the name chronic fatigue syndrome was coined. Now, the combination term CFS/ME is used by most people – patients, doctors and researchers – and by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The trigger for the condition is not known, although it can follow a bout of severe illness or extreme physical endurance, or a viral infection such as glandular fever. There is no biomarker or blood test to establish diagnosis, and patients often face misunderstanding from family, friends and doctors. Patient advocates say the condition has a history of being dismissed as “yuppie flu” or plain indolence.

With no pharmacological or physiological treatments on the horizon, scientists and doctors explored psychiatry and psychology for ways to ease the symptoms. Some patients and campaigners say that diverted attention and funding away from scientific efforts to define what causes CFS/ME and how it can be properly diagnosed.

Simon Wessely, a professor of psychological medicine at King’s College London and former president of Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists, said he decided to stop conducting research into treatment approaches for CFS/ME several years ago because he felt the online abuse was detracting from his work with patients.

But he is still the subject of what he calls “relentless internet stalking.” Recent tweets directed at Wessely include one accusing him of playing “pathetic ego driven games” with the lives of people with CFS/ME, another saying “Wessely is a dangerous and evil individual” and another saying “We die, b/c of u.”

Wessely’s employers at King’s College London have taken advice on the potential risk and have instituted X-ray scans of his mail, he says. “Everything I say and do in public, and sometimes even in private, is pored over and scrutinized,” he said.

Wessely’s experiences are echoed by Aarhus University Hospital’s Per Fink, who runs a clinic that offers patients exercise and talking therapies.

Fink said he and the organizers of a conference he addressed at Columbia University in New York in October 2018 were hounded by complaints and protests from CFS/ME activists. A petition calling for Fink to be disinvited was signed by 10,000 people. Tuller – who in his blog wrote that the person who invited Per Fink to speak at the conference must be “uninformed or stupid or both” – called Fink a “scary guy” whose methods had “destroyed families.” Tuller urged readers of his blog to go to the Columbia conference and demonstrate.

Describing himself as a doctor and researcher “who just does my job in an attempt to help people,” Fink told Reuters his trip to New York was worse than anything he’s experienced before. “They are scaring people away,” he said. “Doctors don’t want to speak about it – they try to keep a low profile. And many researchers and clinicians say they won’t go into this area of therapy because it’s so difficult.”


The idea of critics or activists challenging researchers and seeking to hold science to account isn’t new. Most researchers say they are happy to engage in discussion. But with social media, email and internet now accessible from almost every home, mass communication gives online activists a voice with unprecedented power. In the field of CFS/ME research, it’s often personal. Those at the center of it say it’s gotten out of control.

“The toxicity of it permeates everything,” Sharpe told Reuters.

The campaign to have evidence-backed treatments discredited was “doing a terrible disservice to sufferers from this condition,” said Wessely. “Patients are the losers here.”


At the heart of the attacks on Sharpe, Wessely and other chronic fatigue treatment researchers is a study known as the PACE trial, which sought to evaluate the effectiveness of different types of therapy in CFS/ME patients.

Published in The Lancet medical journal in 2011, the results found that cognitive behavioral therapy – designed to help patients change their thinking and behavior – and graded exercise therapy – in which patients are encouraged to start from very low levels of daily activity and then incrementally raise them – are safe and moderately effective treatments for some people.

Richard Horton, the editor of The Lancet, said his journal had received emails and letters about PACE but has no plans to retract it. He said what is needed to allow for progress in any field of medical research is “an open and respectful approach by all parties to one another.”

In April last year, Tuller secured $87,500 in online crowdfunding to “debunk” the PACE trial findings. He refers to the study as “a piece of crap” and “garbage” and says he is determined to see it discredited. At speaking events filmed and shown on YouTube, he has ripped up copies of the study to show his feelings about it. Tuller has also posted a 15,000 word review of it.

Tuller cut his teeth as an AIDS activist in the 1980s. Now 62, he blogs, sends hundreds of letters and emails, and travels the world giving speeches and holding meetings as supporters send him donations and praise for his CFS/ME campaign. Tuller himself hasn’t conducted or published any peer-reviewed clinical trials on CFS/ME. He has co-authored a critique of PACE.

His argument is that the therapies evaluated in the PACE trial are based on a misguided hypothesis that CFS/ME patients suffer from “unhelpful” beliefs that they have a biological disease, and that their symptoms of fatigue are made worse by deconditioning due to inactivity. He also says he thinks the trial’s methodology was flawed. The scientists involved reject those arguments.

“My goal is to completely discredit the PACE trial,” Tuller told Reuters. “And if they have moved out of the research field, then that’s great,” he said of the CFS/ME researchers he’s targeting. “They shouldn’t be in the field. They shouldn’t be doing research at all.”

Tuller disputes that his campaigning amounts to harassment. In comments to Reuters in an interview and in emails, he said his criticisms are valid. And he added: “I refuse to act in the normal bounds of academia.” Asked about his motivation, he said he does not have the condition. He said he had a long-time friend who was diagnosed with CFS/ME in the early 1990s but has “no other personal stake.” He said his work is helping patients by “clearing out the bad science to make way for some good science,” such as research into the condition’s biological basis.

Another campaign, which goes by the acronym MAIMES, or Medical Abuse in ME Sufferers, operates from Britain. It has a standard letter for people to send to their local member of parliament demanding a public inquiry into the PACE trial. There’s also a Facebook page called “Abuse of ME Patients by Health Care Professionals” which has some 680 followers. The page runs stories from unnamed patients who accuse Sharpe and others of harming sufferers by calling them “lazy” and forcing them to exercise when they can’t.

The campaigner and doctor behind MAIMES, Sarah Myhill, has posted YouTube videos setting out her views: “I liken it to child abuse,” she says in one that has been viewed more than 8,000 times. “This amounts to a form of abuse, because these people” – CFS/ME patients – “do not have the energy to defend themselves.” Myhill has published several books advocating what she calls a “naturopath’s” approach to treating symptoms of CFS/ME – one using a tailored combination of nutrition, rest and medicines. She hasn’t published peer-reviewed research on the efficacy of her approach.

Myhill told Reuters that she had complained to the General Medical Council – the body that maintains the official register of medical practitioners in the UK – about Sharpe and other scientists involved in the PACE trial, but her complaint was rejected. Myhill showed Reuters the letter she received from the General Medical Council. It said it was “not able to identify any issues which would require us to open an investigation” into the researchers. Contacted by Reuters, the Council did not elaborate.

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As well as dissuading researchers from working in the CFS/ME field, scientists fear that pressure from campaigners has also begun to show in the wording of guidance for patients and doctors from national health authorities. In the United States, the CDC has removed references to cognitive behavioral therapy and graded exercise therapy from its website.

The head of the CDC’s chronic viral diseases branch, Elizabeth Unger, told Reuters this was done to remove jargon and medical terms that are not widely understood by the public. “We received feedback that the terms were confusing and too frequently misinterpreted,” she said in an email response to questions.

Unger said the CDC’s advice stresses that each CFS/ME patient’s needs are different. “For some, carefully managing exercise and activities can be helpful,” she said. “Likewise, some patients may find that talking with a therapist helps them.”

In Britain, government guidelines on treating CFS/ME published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), currently recommend cognitive behavioral therapy and graded exercise. But these too are under review, due to be revised and republished by 2020. A source close to NICE told Reuters the agency had been subjected to “a lot of lobbying” aimed at getting it to review the guidelines “and in particular to change recommendations around graded exercise therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.” The source declined to go into detail about who was behind the lobbying.

Publishers, too, are feeling the heat. In a move described as “disproportionate and poorly justified” by the researchers involved, editors of the Cochrane Reviews science journals said in October that they would be temporarily withdrawing a review that analyzed evidence from eight studies on exercise therapy for CFS/ME patients.

Cochrane Reviews evaluate the best science on a given subject and are considered a gold standard in scientific literature. The review in question, led by a Norwegian research team and published by Cochrane in April 2017, had concluded there was moderate quality evidence to show that “exercise therapy had a positive effect on people’s daily physical functioning, sleep and self-ratings of overall health.”

Tuller told Reuters in emails in October that he considered the Cochrane Review to be “fraught with bias” and said its authors have bought into “delusions that these studies (the ones they reviewed) represent good science.” After hearing news of the review’s temporary withdrawal, Tuller said he’d had a “long meeting” with Cochrane editors in Britain last summer, and had “pressed them hard.” “So did others,” he said.

Cochrane’s editor in chief, David Tovey, confirmed that he had met with Tuller, but said the meeting had nothing to do with his decision to temporarily withdraw the review. He said complaints about the review from patients and campaigners had raised “important questions” about how the review was conducted and reported which he and his fellow editors felt needed to be addressed.

Lillebeth Larun, a scientist at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health who led the Cochrane Review, is one of several scientists who vociferously disagreed with Tovey’s decision to withdraw it. For her, the move is a sign that the activists who have plagued her for years have now got to her editors. In the decade or so that she’s been conducting research in this area, she told Reuters, she’s endured online attacks and abusive emails, and at various points had to take a break from working due to the pressure. Returning to a CFS/ME project would make her feel physically sick with anxiety.

“Attempts to limit, undermine or manipulate evidence based results, pressure or intimidate researchers into or away from any given conclusions, will ultimately have a negative effect,” she told Reuters. “It will only lead to those researchers choosing to work in other areas and reduce the resources dedicated to providing the help patients so desperately need.”

Some CFS/ME patients disagree. Reuters contacted the Twitter user who identifies himself as Paul Watton to ask him about his online attacks. Speaking by phone, Watton said he has been ill with CFS/ME and unable to work in his former job as a builder for 15 years, and feels let down by the medical establishment. Reuters was unable to independently verify his account.


“I agree entirely with what David Tuller says,” Watton told Reuters. “This is a chronic illness for which there is – currently – no curative treatment.”

In Britain there are at least 50 specialist chronic fatigue syndrome services that treat around 8,000 adults each year under government guidelines, offering behavioral and psychological therapies. Research published in July 2017 showed around a third of adults affected by the illness who attended these specialist clinics reported substantial improvement in their health. In the survey, more than 1,000 patients were asked about fatigue, physical function, general function, mood, pain and sleep problems before and after getting the services.

Colin Barton, chairman of the Sussex and Kent CFS/ME Society – a patient group in southern England – said talking therapies and graded exercise helped him recover to the point that he can lead an almost normal life. He told Reuters that in his experience, patients who talk about having been helped by psychological or graded exercise therapies come in for abuse just like the researchers. They face accusations that they were never ill in the first place; that their condition was misdiagnosed; and that their recovery is therefore fake, he said. As a result, he said, many recovering or recovered CFS/ME patients feel forced to withdraw from the debate.

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Stopping the scourge of social media misinformation on vaccines

Stopping the scourge of social media misinformation on vaccines | Social Media and Healthcare |

It is common that patient searches for information and products related to the word “vaccine” yield top results pointing to harmfully inaccurate information about immunization safety. This place of prominence given to medical disinformation is deeply troubling to America’s physicians, especially amid alarming new reports regarding measles, tetanus and other vaccine-preventable conditions.  

The AMA sent a letter to top executives at Amazon, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube urging them to do even more to stem the “proliferation” of “health-related misinformation” that has helped vaccine-preventable diseases to reemerge. 

“We applaud companies that have already taken action but encourage you to continue evaluating the impact of these policies and take further steps to address the issue as needed,” AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara, MD, wrote in the letter to the social media and digital technology executives. “The overwhelming scientific evidence shows that vaccines are among the most effective and safest interventions to both prevent individual illness and protect public health.” 

Dr. Madara noted that, when immunization rates are high, children who are too young to be vaccinated and others whose health conditions prevent them from being vaccinated, are protected from disease because exposure is so limited. These conditions include allergies to vaccine components, HIV infection and having a compromised immune system as a result of receiving chemotherapy cancer treatment. 

The impact of lower vaccination rates has been clear. The World Health Organization named vaccine hesitancy among the top 10 threats to global health in 2019. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that there have been at least 228 individual measles cases confirmed in 12 states between Jan. 1 and March 7, 2019, with 71 of those traced to Clark County in Washington. Four confirmed cases in Oregon were linked to the Clark County outbreak. 

In another report out of Oregon, the CDC told of an unvaccinated 6-year-old boy who contracted tetanus and required 57 days in the hospital and almost $1 million in care before being released. Upon release, his parents still declined giving him recommended vaccinations, according to the CDC. 

“The reductions we have seen in vaccination coverage threaten to erase many years of progress as nearly-eliminated and preventable diseases return, resulting in illness, disability and death,” Dr. Madara wrote. “In order to protect our communities’ health, it is important that people be aware not just that these diseases still exist and can still debilitate and kill, but that vaccines are a safe, proven way to protect against them.” 

Spreading vaccine safety message

To help spread this message and to counter misinformation campaigns, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine created a website displaying the overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe. This message was repeated again in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which published a Danish study, “Measles, Mumps, Rubella Vaccination and Autism: A Nationwide Cohort Study,” that followed almost 660,000 children and found no connection between the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. 

“The study strongly supports that MMR vaccination does not increase the risk for autism, does not trigger autism in susceptible children, and is not associated with clustering of autism cases after vaccination,” the researchers wrote. “It adds to previous studies through significant additional statistical power and by addressing hypotheses of susceptible subgroups and clustering of cases.” 

Ending nonmedical vaccine exemptions 

In addition to engaging digital and social media executives, the AMA has been active in state legislaturessupporting bills seeking to eliminate non-medical exemptions for required childhood vaccines in Maine, Oregon and Washington. The AMA is also opposing an Arizona bill that would discourage adherence to recommended vaccine schedules.

California, Mississippi and West Virginia are the only states that do not allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their children for personal, philosophical or religious reasons.

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Physicians and Social Media

Physicians and Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

How many likes does it take to get to the center of a self-esteem?” — Comedian Aparna Nancherla, Twitter, February 2, 2019

I was one of the first millennials to join Facebook, in the summer of 2004. At that time, the social network had just left the Harvard campus and had been released only to students in “elite” colleges. In the ensuing 15 years, I have been witness to the tremendous, unprecedented growth of social media nearly from its inception. Social media is like the mythical hydra; as you lose one “head” (e.g., Myspace), many others grow in its place (e.g., Instagram, Snapchat). Social media has completely upended how we lead our daily lives, at work, at home—even in love.

In my own profession of medicine, we are starting to recognize that the boundaries between physicians and patients can be blurred in this new world. Online professionalism is increasingly being taught in medical schools. This was a subject I myself was tasked to teach my peers, as I ran afoul of it as a medical intern when I posted something in frustration that could be construed as negative about my hospital, after the inevitable difficult week at work as a resident.


A physician’s career can be made, or broken, online, as was the case with Gary Tigges. Tigges, a Texas internal-medicine physician, wrote a brief, newspaper editorial declaring “female physicians do not work as hard.” In the world as it used to be, the piece would have been read by very few people; In the age of social media, though, this went viral and had serious effects on his career and reputation.

There have been numerous scientific studies in recent years on social media, and they have shown some surprising effects on the human brain. In one, the number of “friends” subjects had on Facebook significantly predicted gray matter volume in the left middle temporal gyrus, the right superior temporal sulcus (which is involved in speech and facial processing, and interestingly, the ability to attribute false beliefs to others), and the right entorhinal cortex (involved in memory formation). Unsurprisingly, photos and posts with many “likes” also activate the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), the reward center in the brain that is also activated by drugs and alcohol (confirming social media is truly an addiction).

The most dangerous aspect of social media is its “contagion effect.” This is when, like a deadly new influenza virus, someone who wants to spread false information, for example, takes advantage of peoples’ connections to propagate the lie. In a study on this contagion effect, individuals relied on the number of online “friends” or the photo of the perpetrator as a heuristic about that person’s trustworthiness.

This effect has been utilized to full effect by a new generation of con artists. William “Billy” McFarland, the mastermind behind the disastrous “Fyre Festival,” made one ingenious move that led him to successfully steal money from tens of thousands of millennials before he ended up in federal prison: he came up with the idea of Instagram “influencers” posting a simple orange square.

When you are rapidly scrolling through a feed filled with beautiful people, sumptuous cuisine and exotic travels, what could stop you dead in your tracks and make you pay attention? An orange square. Especially when that orange square is presented by an attractive Instagram celebrity with millions of followers. The contagion had taken hold.


The herd mentality is not limited to millennials who have grown up glued to our smartphones. Another young entrepreneur took advantage of this herd mentality at the highest levels of Silicon Valley. Elizabeth Holmes, now 35, leveraged her powerful personal connections to get funding from one of the biggest names in Silicon Valley, Tim Draper, the father of her neighbor and childhood friend (and a name my brother, whose career has been in the tech industry, instantly recognized).

Draper, at 60 years old, is not part of the social media generation. But he used his more old-fashioned social networks to bring in other titans of the industry (Don Lucas, Larry Ellison). Holmes then used her bubbly millennial charisma and her number of “friends” to promote trust, and released a dangerously flawed health care device before her fraud was discovered in late 2015.

Our society will never return to the way it was before the advent of social media. How do you protect yourself from its most virulent aspects? As a scientist, I’ve learned to question everything I see. Guarding yourself from the herd mentality by doing your own research and investigation is critical. Always find the source for the unbelievable headline you may read. If there is no source, eliminate that information from your consideration. It is also important to recognize that the social media profiles of most people are a façade.


Comparing yourself to someone else’s “photoshopped” life is terrible for your mental health. Recognize that your real friends who may not have thousands of “friends” and “likes” on social media (or, wisely, may not be on social media at all) are no less trustworthy. Go to the coffee shop around the corner and strike up a conversation. You may find someone interested in you: the real person, with all your real flaws, standing in front of them.

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The Cost of Free Social Media Marketing | Facebook Marketing

The Cost of Free Social Media Marketing | Facebook Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

Everyone likes FREE stuff, admit it, this includes you too. But did you know that FREE, can in many cases be extremely costly to your practice and potentially bankrupt you?

How can that be? How can FREE cost you your practice?

Here’s what we see happening to people who are extremely optimistic. They have a solid marketing plan, are regularly investing in their practice to attract new patients. And, yes their marketing costs money, $1,600-$2,600 or more per month to generate $60-100,000 a month in revenue.

Then… someone whispers the word FREE in their ear. A manufacturer or a buying group woos the practice with a FREE offer. They tell the practice they’ll give them a FREE website, or FREE Facebook advertising, or FREE social media marketing. And what do even some of the smartest medical practice owners do?

I mean, everybody likes FREE, so many people do the obvious thing. They cancel the marketing services they are paying for, the marketing that has been generating 20-40 new patient leads a month. After all, that way they can save thousands of dollars a month. Wouldn’t you want to do that, save thousands of dollars a month too?

So what could possibly be wrong with that? You be the judge.

Five months ago, Bob in Texas signed up with MedPB for Facebook Advertising and started getting 40 new patient leads a month. By the end of month two, he had 80 new patient leads and was very happy indeed. But then he quit the program!

One of the manufacturers he worked with offered to do his Facebook advertising for FREE! How could he turn that down?

Last week, we got a call from Bob, asking about our Facebook Advertising program again. Turns out in the last 3 months, his “FREE” Facebook Advertising generated a total of 2 new patient leads. Sure he’d saved roughly $3-4,000 dollars but he’d lost out on 118 new patient leads.

By signing up for FREE Facebook Advertising, Bob had lost 118 potential new patients to his competition and around $165,00 in one-time revenue and over $2,200,000 in lifetime revenue. Does that make sense, to save a few thousand dollars in marketing that’s working and lose over two million dollars in revenue?

Sue in Illinois, made the same mistake with her Google PPC, and it cost her her practice. She’d been struggling to get new patients in the door and to grow her practice, when she finally decided to spend some money on Google PPC, to see if it could get her phone ringing.

A few months later, the Google PPC campaign was working, generating 20 new patient leads a month. Which for her one-woman practice was keeping her busy in helping her make a profit each month. Then, given she had a steady stream of patients, she decided she could cancel her Google PPC ads and save some money. Or in other words, rely on FREE marketing and watch her bank account grow.

What happened when she pulled the plug on her Google Ad campaign? Her phone stopped ringing right away. In her case, almost all her new patients were coming from her Google Ads and when she turned them off, she stopped attracting new patients. Which meant that while she was saving some money, again a few thousand dollars, she’d lost her source of income. Her bank account went from growing to shrinking.

Two months later Sue called us to ask for help, but by now she was broke. She had no money for marketing and ended up declaring bankruptcy. Not a pretty tale.

Then there is the free website offer!

We hear about this one all the time, whether it’s an online marketing firm, a manufacturer or a buying group. They call the practice owner and offer them a brand new FREE website. It just sounds so tempting.

If you have a website that was built a few years back, looks a bit dated or just isn’t generating new patient leads, which would you rather do?

  1. Pay 2 to 6 thousand for a new website?
  2. Get one for FREE?

A FREE website sounds almost as good as being given a free car, right?

There is just one problem. Imagine you went into the car dealer, looking to spend $20-30,000 on a new car. Then the salesperson says, hey can I interest you in a free car? Is the auto dealer going to give you an actual working top-of-the-line free car? Or are they going to give you one that needs constant work so they can make money off repairs? Chances are the free car wouldn’t even come with an engine or tires.

The same is true with FREE websites. Every client we’ve seen opt for a free website has seen their online leads plummet, along with their revenue. Sure, the price was right, but the hidden cost is they aren’t designed to convert traffic into appointments. The result is potential patients go to your competitors and your FREE website costs a fortune in lost revenue.

The bottom line?

When you hear someone mention FREE, it’s should be a big red flag. It’s a way to distract you from the fact that what they’re selling lacks real value. Just ask yourself the question, “If I want top-of-the-line (marketing or whatever) is it realistic to think I can get if for free? Would I give away my medical services for free?”

The 2 Biggest Problems with FREE online marketing

  • HUGE drop in website traffic
  • New patient calls disappear

Realize that when you opt for free, you invest nothing and typically get less than nothing. Yes, it takes money to make money. Look for the marketing services that provide the greatest return on investment (ROI).

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#SocialMedia Tips for Physicians

#SocialMedia Tips for Physicians | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is a great medium today to boost one’s business, presence, and relevance. Knowing how to use it will certainly put you in the ranks of the most successful people in your field.

How can a physician use social media advantageously? Here, we will tackle tips that can help you in the online world. But first, let’s take a look at the most used social media platforms today.

Facebook – The granddaddy of social media platforms. Facebook was once known as a replacement for MySpace and Friendster. Now, Facebook serves as an all-in-one place to cater to your personal and professional needs. Facebook can help you sell goods via the marketplace, have groups, and even organize your meetings and events.

Twitter – Just a couple years ago, Twitter only had room for 140 characters per tweet. It has doubled but still encourages pithy commentary. Twitter’s popularity stems from the ability to easily scan through hundreds of users, reading their tweets rapidly. In today’s world, this is especially important since our attention span has depleted tremendously in the last decade.

Instagram – Instagram is widely known as a photo-sharing app. Today, creatives use it to showcase their work and act as a mini portfolio. It’s best known for its 9-12 square grid type format and stories, which share a similar function as that of Snapchat’s.

LinkedIn – This platform is geared toward professionals. It’s like Facebook but instead of meeting random people, you meet co-professionals and other physicians who are looking to further their career or network.

Now that we’ve gone over the different social media platforms, let’s look at some tips that will help you in social media as a doctor:

  • Use Facebook groups to announce news and other matters for convenience.
  • Set appointments using the event function in Facebook.
  • Tweet to disseminate information and utilize its thread function.
  • Create informative Instagram stories.
  • Make infographics for sharing.
  • Post relevant articles on LinkedIn.
  • Make your availability known.
  • Keep contact information up to date.
  • Give concise and relevant updates.
  • Be present consistently.
  • Be able to use images that are connected to your posts.
  • Post original fun content.
  • Respond to your audience in a timely manner.
  • Engage your audience and build relationships.
  • Know where your audience is hanging out online.
  • Follow other doctors on social media.
  • Be aware of trends and current events.
  • Include emojis and know when and how to use them.
  • Track and analyze your activity on social media platforms.



The key to being successful in social media is to know who your audience is and what niche you will be specializing in. It is also important to feed your audience quality content instead of drowning them in senseless posts. Branding yourself is also important as it will determine who you are in the online world. Also, remember that you do not need to please everyone since not everyone will be interested in your niche. Once you create a stable following, you only need to nurture and provide what your patients or audience need.

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Social Media Influencers May Sway Kids to Eat More Calories

Social Media Influencers May Sway Kids to Eat More Calories | Social Media and Healthcare |

Any child with a smartphone can access thousands of social media influencers who constantly post about what they do and products they like. It's a powerful form of communication and advertising in the digital age, and parents may have little idea what kind of impact it's having on their kids.
That's where Anna Coates comes in. She's a Ph.D. student at the University of Liverpool's Appetite and Obesity research group who decided to look at one aspect of the influencer effect: whether such messages sway children's food choices and how much they eat.
Coates and her team studied 176 children aged 9 to 11 who were randomly split into three groups and were shown artificially created (though realistic looking) Instagram profiles featuring two of the most popular YouTube video bloggers, or vloggers. One group of kids was shown a profile featuring the YouTube influencer with unhealthy snacks, another group was shown the influencer with healthy foods, and the final group was shown the influencer with no food products.
The kids were then offered an array of snacks to choose from — unhealthy snacks like candy as well as healthier choices like grapes and carrots. Children in the group that saw the influencer with unhealthy foods consumed 32 percent more calories from unhealthy snacks and 26 percent more total calories than kids in the group who viewed the vlogger with non-food products.
But when it came to marketing healthy foods, the influencer effect wasn't the same. Kids who viewed the influencer with healthy snacks ate no more carrots or grapes than those who saw non-food images. The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.
Debbie Petitpain, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, wasn't surprised by the results.
"This is the modern-day version of using popular cartoon characters to sell sugary breakfast cereals or juice boxes," she told CBS News. "Whether video bloggers are intentionally including unhealthy snacks in their video or not, children miss nothing and are easily influenced by what they see."
She recommends talking to children about what they are watching online and wrapping the diet and lifestyle choices they see into that conversation.
Parents should also lead by example. "The biggest influencer on your child's eating habits is you, especially when your kids are younger and more dependent on you to provide healthy meals and snacks," Petitpain said. "Role model good eating and positive talk about your food choices and tell your kids why you make them."
She also advises limiting your own cellphone use when spending time with your children and during meal times.
Nancy Z. Farrell, a registered dietitian nutritionist, notes that it's also important to talk to your kids about where information is coming from. "Many people claim to be nutritionists and have little to no credentials," she said. "Teach your kids how to distinguish between sources."
The researchers who conducted the study recommend that food marketing regulations should be applied to new forms of digital marketing. 
"Tighter restrictions are needed around the digital marketing of unhealthy foods that children are exposed to, and vloggers should not be permitted to promote unhealthy foods to vulnerable young people on social media," Coates said in a statement.

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