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How Facebook & DNA Technology Solved Outbreak Of Strep Throat In a Minnesota Dance Team

How Facebook & DNA Technology Solved Outbreak Of Strep Throat In a Minnesota Dance Team | Social Media and Healthcare |

With Facebook, you can track down buddies from high schools, ex-girlfriends/boyfriends (for better or worse), long lost cousins... and infectious diseases. Last year, public health officials in Minnesota capitalized on a tip from the social media platform to hunt down the source of a strep throat outbreak in a high school.

The tip came from a parent whose daughter was a member of the high school's female dance team. After noticing that an alarming number of the dancers had posted to the team's Facebook page with complaints of strep throat, or Group A streptococcus (GAS) pharyngitis, the observant guardian contacted the Minnesota Department of Health.

The health officials realized that posts to the Facebook page began to appear 24-48 hours after the team had thrown a banquet and about three days after a potluck with some male classmates.

Although strep throat is normally passed via people coughing up infected respiratory droplets, food contamination does occur in rare cases. This route was more common before modern refrigeration and the advent of pasteurization, especially through the consumption of raw milk.

The investigators started with classic detective work: 100 telephone interviews and nasal swabs from the attendees, associated family members, and male classmates. Leftover food was bagged, and all of the biological specimens were transported to the state's public health laboratory in St Paul.

All of the boys who attended the potluck were negative for strep, so this event was eliminated.

Individual leftover items from the banquet that were tested by 'DNA typing,' a form of genetic analysis that can decipher bacterial heritage. The health team found that only a pot of pasta contained GAS bacteria that matched the cultures collected from the dancers.

A couple of false leads — people who had GAS but did not attend the banquet — could have thrown the investigators, but DNA typing allowed them to precisely track the gene fingerprints of the bacteria in the pasta to the infections in the dancers.

Another set of interviews revealed that the parent who had made the pasta, along with their child, had caught the same variant of GAS over two weeks before the banquet. Furthermore one girl who hadn't attended the banquet, but eaten the leftover pasta, came down with this strain of strep. In other words, the food culprit was caught.

"We suspect cooked food was contaminated by respiratory droplets from a person who carried the strep bacteria in the throat when the food was cooling or reheating," said lead investigator and epidemic specialist Dr. Sarah Kemble of the Minnesota Department of Health. "The food probably was not kept hot or cold enough to stop bacterial growth."

To reduce the spread of foodborne illness, the authors recommended that large batches of prepared food be kept either hot or cold, as disease-causing bacteria love to roost at temperatures between 41°F to 140°F. People should also avoid cooking for groups if they have symptoms of a respiratory disease like strep and should always ask a doctor how long they should wait before prepping meals for others.

This isn't the first mysterious outbreak to be cracked by Facebook. Flu flare-ups have been identified using the popular social media tool.

Google Flu Trends and other websites like HealthMap have tried to harness the power of people conducting influenza-related searches when they are sick, but some have questioned whether these tactics are truly representative of an afflicted population, given not everyone is online. In addition flaws appeared in Google's system during America's severe bout of seasonal influenza this past spring, with search engine app dramatically overestimating the prevalence of the disease.

Odds are these computer bugs will be worked out by intrepid software programmers, and disease surveillance, like so many aspects of public life, will be added to the list of items that social media has revolutionized.


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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. 

Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
#Formdox integrates perfectly with several #functionalities for the monitoring
cctopbuilders's comment, April 26, 6:01 AM
Shala Wedikom's curator insight, September 27, 5:05 PM

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When Digital Devices Distract Doctors, Mistakes Can Happen

When Digital Devices Distract Doctors, Mistakes Can Happen | Social Media and Healthcare |

Digital distraction in healthcare is emerging as a great threat to patient safety and physician well-being.[1] This phenomenon involves the habitual use of personal electronic devices by healthcare providers for nonclinical purposes during appointments and procedures.[2] Some call it “distracted doctoring.” Matt Richtel, a journalist for the New York Times who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on distracted driving, coined the term “distracted doctoring” in 2011. [3] Like driving, attending to a patient’s complex care needs is a high-risk activity that requires undivided attention and presence in the moment to ensure the safety and protection of others.

But the threat might more aptly be called “distracted practice,” as it impacts all healthcare workers and staff. While distraction is particularly concerning in the operating room, emergency room, and critical care areas, it can impact all healthcare settings—including the office practice. Personal electronic devices can create a digital distraction so engaging that it consumes awareness, potentially preventing healthcare providers from focusing on the primary task at hand—caring for and interacting with patients. And the consequences can be devastating.

Our Devices Are Addictive

In today’s electronic culture, it has become unthinkable to be without personal electronic devices. Growing evidence shows that our personal electronic devices and social media are addictive.[4] The reason is dopamine. Our dopamine systems are stimulated by the unpredictable, small, incomplete bursts of information with visual or auditory cues. For example, we are never quite sure when we will receive a text message and from whom. We may keep checking to see who liked our recent Facebook post. And when our devices ding or vibrate, we know our reward is coming. Yet as when gambling or playing the lottery, the anticipation of the reward is (usually) better than the reward itself. This results in more and more of what some call “seeking” and “wanting” behaviors. Then instant gratification encourages dopamine looping, and it becomes harder and harder to stop the cycle.

Distraction can also be both a symptom of and a contributor to healthcare provider stress and burnout. As a symptom of burnout, digital distraction is a way to escape a stressful environment. As a contributor to burnout, digital distraction impedes human interaction because of the sheer volume of data-demanding our attention.

Medical Malpractice Implications

For most healthcare providers, distractions and interruptions are considered part of the job; it is the nature of their work. If we consider healthcare distraction on a continuum, on one end are distractions related to clinical care (e.g., answering team member questions or responding to surgical equipment alarms). On the other end of the continuum are distractions unrelated to clinical care (e.g., making personal phone calls, sending personal text messages, checking social media sites, playing games, or searching airline flights).

From a litigation perspective, the distinction between distractions related to clinical care and those unrelated to clinical care is important. In a medical malpractice claim where there is an allegation that an adverse event was caused by distracted practice, a distraction caused by a clinical-care-related activity may be found to be within the standard of care and is, therefore, often defensible. But where it can be shown that the distraction was caused by non-patient matters, the plaintiff’s attorney will certainly use that against the defendant. In these situations, the defendant’s medical care may not even enter the equation, because during eDiscovery the metadata (i.e., cell phone records, scouring findings from hard drives) serves as the “expert witness.” Even if the defendant’s clinical care was within the standard, the fact that there are cell phone records indicating that the healthcare provider was surfing the Internet or checking personal e-mail may imply distraction and could potentially supersede all other evidence.

Preventing Distractions

Complex problems require a multifaceted approach. Organizations, teams, and individuals all should take responsibility and ownership for reducing the risks associated with digital distraction. The following are risk management strategies to prevent distractions and enhance patient safety.


  • Create awareness

    • Recognize the extent of the problem and risks.
    • Model appropriate personal electronic device use behaviors.
    • Tier communication to batch non-emergent messages.
    • Refrain from sending texts on non-urgent matters.
    • Do not expect immediate responses for non-urgent matters.
  • Educate system-wide

    • Train all healthcare providers and staff at orientation and conduct annual refreshers on safety concerns, legal risks of using personal electronic devices when providing care, device-user etiquette, and the addictive potential of technology.
    • Use simulation-based learning where distractions and interruptions are introduced during high-risk procedures.
    • Use case studies of real-life examples where distraction was alleged to play a role in an adverse event.
  • Deploy technology solutions

    • Manage facility-issued devices.
    • Create technology-free zones.
    • Limit Internet access to work-related sites only—EMR, labs, images, pharmacy formulary, state Rx databases, and decision support/cognitive aids.
  • Enforce

    • Monitor compliance with system-wide protocols and guidelines.
    • Clearly define how personal electronic devices are used in patient care areas.


  • Reinforce situational awareness and mindful practices with your team or department through:
    • Unit-specific protocols: “Sterile Cockpit” and “Below 10,000 Feet” protocols limiting or eliminating non-essential activities during critical phases of procedures and high-risk activities.
    • Empowering every team member to speak up when they have a safety concern. For example, encourage team members to speak up when they notice another member is so focused on a personal electronic device that he or she has lost situational awareness about the patient’s clinical condition.
    • Applying TeamSTEPPS® principles: leadership, situational awareness, mutual support, and communication.
  • Create a process where employees can be reached via a call to a central location, with messages relayed to the employee by a staff member. This alleviates employees’ desire to have their personal electronic devices nearby in case of a family emergency.
  • Monitor compliance as part of the team’s quality measures.


  • Take personal responsibility—ignore distractions, especially during high-risk procedures, and make sure to speak up, set an example, and remain vigilant.
  • Practice situational awareness:
    • Pay attention to what is happening in the present moment.
    • Increase attention, focus, and concentration.
    • Leave your device behind.

New CME Courses Address Distracted Practice Concerns

Two new CME courses from The Doctors Company, How Healthcare Leaders Can Reduce Risks of Distracted Practice in Their Organization and The Risks of Distracted Practice in the Perioperative Area, address addiction to personal electronic devices and provide strategies that individuals and organizations can use to minimize the patient safety risks associated with distractions from these devices.

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Consider All the Variables When Evaluating Your Marketing ROI 

Consider All the Variables When Evaluating Your Marketing ROI  | Social Media and Healthcare |

When you claim an impressive-sounding healthcare marketing ROI for a marketing initiative, are you undermining your credibility by not considering all the variables in your calculation?

“With case volumes slipping and persistent competitive threats to operating margins, many healthcare marketers look to purchase multiple solutions — CRMsdigital marketing services/tools, targeting lists, among others — to gain a strategic advantage in acquiring new patients or retaining market share. While these services or technologies can be helpful, healthcare marketers need to be clear on the true returns they may expect for what they are buying,” says industry veteran and thought leader Jessica Walker.

“This sounds like it should be a straight apples-to-apples comparison, but the truth is that we use the term healthcare marketing ROI across a range of investments and strategies, and how it is calculated is frequently based on inconsistent or subjective data points.

“Healthcare is complicated and there are many variables, making it challenging to build an apples-to-apples ROI. Additionally, it would be inappropriate to claim success using one variable in isolation, as many marketing initiatives operate in tandem with others that support and enhance the outcomes (e.g., a social media campaign running concurrently with a paid search campaign).

“It is critical that healthcare marketers know how to normalize measures of success when deciding which solution will be most likely to support their ultimate goals,” says Walker.

In our new story, Walker takes us through some detailed examples of how marketers could misinterpret information and misstate their true healthcare marketing ROI by not digging deep enough. She warns of the dangers of comparing apples to bananas using the entertaining example of her two banana-loving “monkeys” (8-year-old and 5-year-old sons).

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Increase Your Visibility On LinkedIn By Publishing Articles

Increase Your Visibility On LinkedIn By Publishing Articles | Social Media and Healthcare |

There’s no better or faster way to highlight your expertise, build your personal brand and grow your LinkedIn followers than through creating and sharing high-value content with a strong focus on your topic(s) of expertise. One of the best ways to do this to publish long-form articles directly on your LinkedIn profile.


Why You Should Publish Articles on LinkedIn

To get your content in front of the 467+ million strong member base of LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful marketing opportunity.

When you publish an article on LinkedIn:


  • Your original content becomes part of your professional profile. It is displayed on the Articles section of your LinkedIn profile.
  • Having your blog accessible to ALL the members of the most professional, affluent and well educated social network is great for promoting brand awareness and generating new leads. LinkedIn Publishing is even searchable through Google. 
  • It's shared with your connections and followers in their news feeds, and sometimes through notifications.
  • Members that aren't in your network can follow you from your article, so that your next article will be surfaced in their feeds.


So how can you leverage this opportunity to promote your thought leadership, increase brand awareness and generate more leads? In this article  Marie will show you how to start publishing on LinkedIn right away.


more at


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Medical Marketing: What Every Doctor Needs to Know About Personal Bra…

Presented at the Osaka Endocrinology Conference: October 2018 Medical Marketing: What Every Doctor Needs to Know About Personal Branding — 2019 and beyond Med…
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Unfavorable Online Reviews a Challenge for Many Physicians

Unfavorable Online Reviews a Challenge for Many Physicians | Social Media and Healthcare |

There is value in review websites, but they can lead to problems when literally anyone posts negative comments or false information.

With the proliferation of websites that solicit reviews from patients, it’s no wonder some physicians worry about their online reputation. It’s yet another reason to be cognizant of patient satisfaction.

“In addition to making the right diagnosis and prescribing the right therapy, you have to do the things that make people happy,” says Steven R. Feldman, MD, PhD, a professor of dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Feldman isn’t fretting over the possibility of one or two disgruntled patients venting in cyberspace, maintaining that a few unflattering reviews won’t “make a lick of a difference.” While taking them in stride, he offered a prudent countermeasure: “If you’re confident in what you do, go ahead and encourage all your patients to do the ratings.”

Nonetheless, some physicians contend that review sites can create conundrums when patients, family members or literally anyone posts negative comments and false information.

The comments aren’t even reflective of the care patients received, according to a study published in September 2017. Researchers concluded that “online consumer ratings should not be used in isolation to select physicians, given their poor association with clinical performance.” The report, appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, looked at 78 physicians representing eight medical and surgical specialties.

Unable to appease everyone, “it can often be counter-therapeutic to give in to the demands of patients,” according to the article Internet Sabotage: Negative Reviews of Psychiatrists, published in the December 2016 issue of Psychiatric Annals.

The authors, psychiatrists Laura Kendall, MD, and Timothy Botello, MD, MPH, who work in the involuntary psychiatric unit of a Los Angeles County-operated hospital, highlighted the dilemmas posed by online reviews. “Sometimes, it is a psychiatrist’s duty to set limits,” they wrote, especially in treating patients with borderline personality disorder, who are prone to explosive reactions. “For these patients, such limit-setting could be fuel for the fire that leads them to write negative reviews online.”

To illustrate, they presented the case of a 70-year-old woman with schizophrenia who was admitted on a 72-hour hold after neighbors had notified the police due to her bizarre behavior and weight loss. During the hospitalization, it became known that “her daughter had been taking advantage of the patient financially and was emotionally abusive” to the mother, as well.

As required by law, the physician filed an adult protective services report. The daughter then lodged a complaint with the hospital, claiming that the physician had falsified information. She also personally attacked the physician in email and phone messages and posted derogatory reviews online.

According to Kendall, the physician prevailed in requesting that the websites remove the comments because the postings — written by a family member, not a patient — violated terms of service. After one of the sites had expunged the daughter’s review, it reappeared. This time, the physician reported the reviewer for harassment, and again, the site deleted the posting.

“It took a lot of … time and energy to take this down,” says Kendall, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences in the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. However, this approach “probably wouldn’t work in a lot of cases” because some websites will “leave up all those reviews no matter what you do,” she says, citing feedback from other physicians.

The case helped Kendall and Botello better understand the value of what’s posted about themselves on the Internet.

“We started Googling ourselves a lot,” Kendall says.

“I didn’t know I had an ‘F’ rating,” added Botello, a clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at USC and director of its forensic psychiatry fellowship program. “We were not savvy enough at the time. It’s just like checking your credit score.”

In forensic cases, which tend to be adversarial in nature, Botello explained that any decision leaves one side or the other unhappy. He and Kendall have become accustomed to this scenario in their positions.

“If we were working solely in private practice, these negative online reviews would be even more worrisome,” he says.

Steven Mandell, a First Amendment lawyer at the firm Mandell Menkes LLC in Chicago, recommended that physicians try to tactfully prevent conflicts from escalating into difficult situations. Taking a “hard line” with a disgruntled patient could result in a negative review.

When a patient posts a negative review, he suggested writing a response along these lines: “Our goal is to make our patients happy. I’m sorry if you had a negative experience. Please call me to discuss how we can make this right.”

This gives the physician an opportunity to resolve the issue while minimizing potential damage from bad publicity. In the response, Mandell advised, it’s important to avoid disclosing confidential information protected under the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Online reviews seldom warrant legal action. Physicians should “seek advice to determine whether or not what has been says really rises to the level of defamation; or rather, is this someone voicing their disappointment, anger or frustration, which usually is characterized as opinion,” Mandell explained.

Unfavorable comments from patients often reflect their perception that a physician was rude and uncaring. The criticism may serve as a wakeup call to improve communication skills, says Feldman, the Wake Forest University professor.

In the February 2016 issue of JAMA Dermatology, he wrote that with unhappy patients feeling more inclined to air their discontent online, some practitioners may perceive these reviews as an adverse trend. But not Feldman.

“Negative feedback is a gift,” he says. “It’s more helpful than all the positive ratings.”

Susan Kreimer is a freelance health care journalist based in New York. 

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Social Media in Healthcare

Social media are basically web-based tools used for computer-mediated communication. It is a powerful tool that healthcare professionals can use to communicate…
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Patient Experience: The Biggest Transformation in Medicine Since the Stone Age

During National Health IT Week, champions from across the industry are uniting to share their voices on how health IT is catalyzing change in U.S. healthcare. The following post from a National Health IT Week Partner is one of the many perspectives of how information and technology is transforming health in America.


The digital transformation of healthcare is going mainstream, promising a higher quality of care at a lower cost for all. And its right on time, as only a couple of years ago the World Health Organization calculated the cost of not taking action to address the spread of noncommunicable diseases as 7 trillion dollars in 20 years.

Telemedicine allows for a cheaper infrastructure of medical consultations, connected hardware means remote monitoring 24/7 and big data helps researchers find patterns in the spread of diseases and better target preventive activities.

But the biggest change happened to the model of patient relations. It has changed irreversibly as the digital transformation of healthcare turned patients from passive beneficiaries into active decision makers. For the first time since the Stone Age.

The Internet brought with it the emancipation of patients who gained a much wider access to information, which led to the rise in decisiveness. Companies in healthcare are no longer primarily in business to business communication with other medical entities and public administration but in business to consumer – having to work hard to gain patients' trust for the first time.

With noncommunicable diseases epidemics, the more engaged patients are, the better for early prevention. But there’s also the dark side to this transformation when extreme emotions come into play and patients don’t know who to trust, the internet has the answer. On a public policy level, it is crucial to regain control over the quality of communication in the outside environment. Building patient experience is no longer just an option, it’s an essential element of healthcare strategy.

What is Patient Experience?

Like in the case of customer experience, it’s best described by the Cambridge dictionary definition: “the way someone feels at all stages of doing business with a company or organization.”

What differentiates patient experience from customer experience are the emotions that come into play and the legal restrictions in communication. In no other industry, does one have to deal with such a wide spectrum of emotions, from indifference to preventive activities to the most extreme when fear kicks in. On the other hand, the restrictions in advertising and marketing make it harder to combat medical lies (like anti-vaccination movement) as it’s health professionals and companies who face charges.

The necessity of including patient experience into your strategy will mean that you need to change how your organization functions. As Adam Richardson wrote for Harvard Business Review: “Crafting a great customer experience requires enormous amounts of collaboration across groups in a company that often work independently and at different stages of product development. In many cases marketing, product design, customer services, sales, advertising agency, retail partners must all be working in concert to create even a single touchpoint.”

Patient Experience in Digital Transformation

Patient experience before digital transformation happened mostly only in two channels: medical facilities or pharmacies. So the patient journey was linear, fully controlled and top-down.

Patient experience after digital transformation became multichannel, nonlinear, happening 24/7, interdependent and collaborative.

Healthcare not only has to deal with multiplication of available channels – from doctors’ offices and pharmacies to retail, online and mobile platforms, as well as social media. They also need to address different trust levels as well as emotional levels – when in doubt we tend to trust more those who are valued members of our social circles.

With the abundance of channels, companies need to accept that each stage of the journey may take place in every channel – customers may base their decision on the quality of post-sale service or turn to social media platforms for customer support. Shopping trends apply also to health tech – when customers go to stores to test devices and then look for the cheaper offer for the same product online.

Emergencies can happen late at night or on weekends. With social media, we’re now used to easily accessible and immediate forms of communication, meaning those responsible need to address problems quickly and, most important, emphatically.

Patients are often looking for a second opinion, not only by visiting another professional but also in various health-related sources. This means that businesses and professionals need to concentrate as much on the channels of communication that they control as on those where they’re only guests.

Patients are active decision makers so companies and professionals need to win their trust. They’re no longer beneficiaries coming for top-down recommendations. They’re equal partners looking for explanation and conversation. After all, it’s their health and life that’s at stake here.

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10 Ways to Make Texting Work for Your Practice

10 Ways to Make Texting Work for Your Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |

Solutionreach recently hosted a series of webinars where we presented top ten lists to help make your life easier—everything from how to use the Solutionreach Community, to navigating office turnover and the best features you should be using in your PRM software. Don’t worry if you missed them, you can check them out here.

We believe you can never have too much of a good thing, so we decided to put together one more top ten list. This one is all about how to make a two-way texting solution work for your practice. The majority of your patients would prefer to hear from you and connect with you through text, so if you aren’t offering this option, you could be missing out on some potential patients and revenue. Count down with us as we cover the ten tips to make texting work for your practice.

  1. Customize Your Hold Message

Most practices have a prerecorded message that plays when patients call before a staff member picks up or when they are placed on hold. This is a great place to let your patients know they can text your practice. Most patients would rather text you than talk on the phone, so if they hear this option in the prerecorded message, they might just hang up and text your practice instead. But even if they wait through your hold message, they’ll at least know for next time and will be more likely to choose the texting option.

  1. Update Your Website

Most of your new patients are coming from an online search. In fact, 66 percent of patients are searching online before they choose a new provider. So make it obvious on your home page that any patient, new or current, can text your practice instead of calling. Sometimes that phone call to schedule an appointment or ask about insurance is just one more hassle for patients looking for a new provider. Let them know right from the start how easy it is to connect with you through text.

  1. Make an Announcement

If a texting option is new for your practice, you might need to remind your patients a few times before it sticks. The best way to do that is to include a short sentence or two in all the communication you’re already sending—like newsletters and emails. It’s also a good idea to post an occasional announcement on your social media channels. It can be as simple as a quick sentence reminding them of how easy it is to reach your practice with questions or concerns.

  1. Develop a Process

Once your patients are aware they can text your practice, you’ll need to have a process in place for your staff to ensure that incoming texts aren’t overlooked. Depending on the size of your practice, it might be easiest if a specific person is responsible for reading all incoming texts and responding or flagging them for follow-up by a coworker. Another procedure that has worked for practices is archiving messages after they have been taken care of. This not only insures all messages receive a response, but also that patients only receive one reply, and not a reply from every member of your staff. Making sure your team members know who is responsible for responding to incoming texts will keep things running smoothly in your office.

  1. Text Your Patients First

Don’t wait for your patients to reach out to you, start the conversation and text them first. It can be a simple text, such as, “Have a question but don’t have time for a phone call? No problem, just text us!” This lets your patients know they can text you about anything, not just to confirm appointments after they’ve received a reminder.

  1. Talk About It

Just like you want to make sure you let patients know about the texting option on social media and through your written communication, you should also let patients know when they are in the office. When patients are checking in, completing paperwork, or speaking with a staff member, your team can let them know they can text your practice instead of calling you. If you have time, you can even give patients a short demonstration to show them how easy it is.

  1. Send a Thank You

Texting isn’t just a great way for your patients to connect with you, it’s also a way you can connect with your patients. Sending a text after a new patient’s first appointment to thank them for choosing you can go a long way in building their loyalty and ensuring they keep coming back.


  1. Follow Up After an Appointment

Sometimes appointments are rough—a patient needed a painful procedure, or you had to deliver an unexpected diagnosis. Texting patients the next day to check on them and let them know your staff is available to answer questions can make a difficult appointment a little better for your patients and show them how much you care.

  1. Text About Payments

Nobody likes to talk about payments, but it’s a topic that often needs to be discussed. Sending a text to a patient letting them know they have a balance due, or that your billing department needs to speak with them tends to get better results than a phone call your patients likely won’t answer. It’s quicker for both your patients and your staff.

  1. Make Changes

The last tip to implementing texting into your practice is to make it work for you. Texting is supposed to make your life easier, not create more work for your team. So give it a try for a few weeks, then schedule a meeting to discuss the processes and results with your staff. If something isn’t working, change it. You can also connect with your peers on discussion boards and get tips about how they get the most out of their texting solution.

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Social Media and the NHS 

Social Media and the NHS  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Efficient and innovative communication within the healthcare sector is a valuable resource and healthcare professionals are becoming increasingly reliant on the use of social media and messaging apps to communicate and share patient information with one another. However, messages composed and sent within seconds can have serious and lasting professional, legal and regulatory repercussions.

Over the past 5 years, over 1,200 NHS staff received disciplinary action due to their use of social media (or messaging apps). The instances of improper use of social media were seen from support staff to GPs. Predominantly, the cases involved the disclosure confidential patient information, complaints about colleagues or inappropriate contact with patients, with the consequences ranging from suspensions to dismissals and resignations.

We usually come into contact with medical staff at the most vulnerable period in our lives and the relationship we have with healthcare professionals has an implicit level of trust. The trust we place in staff in healthcare sector should be given due respect by both frontline and support staff. The disclosure of confidential patient information through any means is a clear breach of trust within this relationship.

Undoubtedly, releasing confidential information, or making inappropriate comments on social media will have significant repercussions for the professional breaching their duty, both personally and professionally.

As social media evolves and further embeds itself in daily life, all users of social media and messaging apps should be aware of the professional and personal consequences of this method of communication and as pointed out in our previous blog on the subject, it is essential for all professionals to think before they press send. Anyone handling personal information should be alive to the risks of sending information on a public and accessible platform, such as social media, where information could be easily intercepted, and evidence can rarely be permanently deleted. However, professionals should also be aware of the consequences of making inappropriate or unprofessional comments on social media.

There are numerous advantages of the healthcare sector embracing social media, including the advent of mobile GP apps, and sharing information to provide effective patient care in an often time-sensitive environment.

The perils

However, the dangers of the use (or misuse) of social media for healthcare professionals can be serious . For example:

  1. Professional and personal boundaries can become distorted
  2. Anonymous users, or users operating under a pseudonym are not guaranteed anonymity and comments can often be traced to identify the user
  3. Information sent is far-reaching and instantaneous
  4. Permanence – even after an ill-thought comment or message it deleted, if saved/circulated by another user, or a screenshot has been taken the evidence of the comment still exists. The implications of this level of permanence were shown in that some of the NHS investigations took place a number of years after the original comment had been sent.

Training is key

NHS Trusts (and other employers engaging with the individual’s personal information) should ensure staff receive adequate training to raise awareness of the pitfalls of social media.

All staff within the organisation could learn personal facts about patients/colleagues and should be given training on the importance of upholding the duty of confidentiality, with a specific focus on social media. In light of GDPR, all staff should be made aware of the fact that personal information should never be released without the individual’s consent. Staff should be informed of the consequences for the organisation and themselves, both personally and professionally.

Additionally robust systems to safeguard patient information should be applied across all staff within these organisations, however the responsibility ultimately lies with the staff to be aware of their professional obligations and act with professionalism. As a society we are increasingly sharing our lives online, but all professionals should be mindful to draw a line between their professional and personal lives and be aware that their conduct in their personal life can have a bearing on their professional life.

Prevention is better than cure

Protecting yourself when using social media does not need to be a difficult task, if you remember the following:

1. Think before pressing send

Messages and tweets often take mere seconds to draft and send. Pausing to read over the content before hitting send will often make you re-think what you would say and often can highlight any inappropriate information.

2. Consider your professional obligations

Working in the healthcare sector, it is unlikely to ever be appropriate for you to share information about a patient on a social media platform. Also, as a professional, any of your thoughts on colleagues should not be communicated on a public platform but within a work based environment with the appropriate personnel present.

3. Think about the context

When typing, consider how your comment may be taken out of context. Tone, humour and meaning can often be lost in a tweet, therefore consider if your comment may be interpreted differently by your followers.

4. Ensure your privacy protections are what you think they are

Several social media sites allow users to dictate who can see what content they send, however it often happens that people believe their profile to be “private” and visible to only their connections within the platform, when in fact their profile has much greater visibility than imagined.

And finally, if you haven’t got anything nice to say…don’t say anything at all.

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Become a Social Media Ninja With These 25 Smart Twitter Hacks via @jbbc

Learning Twitter is like anything else in life. The more you use it, the more you learn, and the better you get at using it.


But you don’t have to spend years learning how to become a Twitter Ninja. Here are some of the best hacks to shortcut your journey to Twitter success.


1. Use Keywords In Your Bio

2. Optimize Your Profile Picture

3. Borrow Headline Hacks

4. Create Twitter Threads

5. Add Power Words To Your Tweets

6. Use Hashtags Strategically

7. Make It Personal

8. Shorten Your URL Links With

9. Add Images To Tweets

10. Maintain A Consistent Posting Schedule

11. Build A Tweet Bank

12. Retweet Your Own Tweets

13. Use Twitter’s Advanced Search Function

14. Create Twitter Lists

15. Share Valuable Content

16. Pin Your Best Content

17. Take Part In Twitter Chats

18. Analyse Your Twitter Followers With Followerwonk

19. Post When Your Followers Are Online

20. A/B Test Your Tweets

21. Reshare Your Best Content

22. Create Twitter Moments

23. Save Searches

24. Automate Twitter Activity With IFFTT

25. Analyze Your Competitors on Twitter


The key to success with social media, as with life, is to work smarter not harder. These tips will help you increase your follower count, reach a wider audience, and boost your engagement on Twitter. Implement these tactics the next time you post on Twitter and watch your engagement rate rocket.


read the original unedited article at



nrip's insight:

These excellent tips can help you increase you use Twitter effectively.  If you have any questions please ask in the comments section below, or DM us on twitter at @plus91



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Social Media Dos and Don'ts for Nurses

Social Media Dos and Don'ts for Nurses | Social Media and Healthcare |

Hi there, Nurse Lauren here and today I want to talk to all the nurses out there who love social media. In today’s fast paced world where everything can be done with a click of a button and people share every aspect of their lives both professionally and personally, nurses need to be mindful at all times when engaging on social media platforms. It’s understandable that you may want to build your own brand by creating on online presence surrounding your career, but you must be careful when doing this.

My top tips include:

Know and understand in their entirety the social media policies at your place of work.
Blog about the nursing industry as a whole without specific details naming people or places.
Become a content contributor for a healthcare website (hey – that’s me!)
Use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to promote healthy lifestyles and create conversations about health related issues. #nurselife

Share a photo of a patient. Never, ever! It violates the patient’s privacy and confidentiality.
Make negative or demeaning remarks about a patient.
Discuss patients’ records, health information, or situations – even without their names.
Complain about a boss, employer, or coworker.

Some great articles that can help you navigate what you should and should not be tweeting, posting and gramming:

  • How Nurses Should Be Using Social Media from click here.
  • Social Media Guidelines for Nurses from National Council of State Boards of Nursing (@NCSBN) click here.
  • How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Social Media from American Nurse Today (@AmerNurse2Day) click here.
  • Principles for Social Networking and the Nurse from the American Nurses Association (@ANANursingWorld) click here.

Patients must be able to trust their nurses. The whole foundation of the patient-nurse relationship is built upon this loyalty. Patients are at their most vulnerable when seeking treatment at a clinic or hospital. You never want to violate a patient’s trust by misusing a social media platform. In addition, it is quite possible that it is breaking state and/or federal laws. Remember once you post something – it is out there for the universe to see. Screenshots make even deleted posts live on forever. This is Nurse Lauren signing off with some Social Media Do’s and Don’ts for all nurses.

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5 Content Marketing Trends To Watch In 2019

5 Content Marketing Trends To Watch In 2019 | Social Media and Healthcare |

The marketing world is changing every day. New tools and technologies emerge, fresh thinkers put new spins on old tactics, and the bar for quality continues to rise as audiences everywhere are exposed to more content in a day than they could possibly process.


For all the changes that have taken place over the years, one thing is certain: Content marketing is here to stay. In fact, this time last year, it was estimated that the content marketing industry would be worth more than $400 billion by 2021.


And as content marketing continues to grow and our approaches to it become more mature, these five trends will shape the way companies (and their audiences) create and consume content in 2019.


1. Content marketing is becoming marketing.


2. Strategy will become more essential.


3. Customer success will emerge as the new frontier.


4. The marketing funnel will change shape.


5. Distribution will remain a driver of success.





nrip's insight:

At @plus91 we have been big believers in marketing being digital and content driven. When in 2011-12 we decided to shift to Digital to create our own go-to-market strategy, a number of people were not convinced it made sense to use it. But we saw the possibilities and decided it would be the right choice for us years down and the years proved that call was spot on. Today, with our direct connection with over 210000 medical professionals and over 16 million care customers,  we are in ourselves a community. 

Which is what prompted us to also setup out Digital outreach consulting hub to offer our insights and services to other healthcare providers and medical device firms who were either curious to learn about or were wanting to adopt digital media as a market outreach possibility. 


Since 2012 we have been experimenting with new digital content marketing ideas and then bringing those tried and tested strategies to reap benefits for our customers. We have experimented with new strategies in all aspects of digital marketing, from Social Media, SEO to Curation and Drip feed newsletters.  If there are areas of special interest you wish to learn more about,  just drop us a note via the form on the right, leave a comment, or DM us on twitter at @plus91




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Social Media Sites: The New Wild West for Illegal Online Pharmacies

Social Media Sites: The New Wild West for Illegal Online Pharmacies | Social Media and Healthcare |

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) published the September 2018 Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators. This report shows how social media sites can lead consumers to dangerous rogue pharmacy sites through simple keyword searches.

During a four-week study, the Association performed keyword searches on multiple social media platforms and easily found posts leading to rogue pharmacy websites selling commonly counterfeited and/or abused prescription medications. On the social media platform Pinterest, for example, NABP found 66 posts promoting the sale of medications, and 38% of these posts provided links to websites selling prescription medicines illegally. Characteristics of these illegal sites include selling medicine that was not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, not requiring a prescription, and selling controlled substances.

Keyword searches performed on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and eBay garnered similar results. Keywords and terms used to perform the searches included “Viagra,” “Ciprofloxacin” (brand name Cipro®), and “Xanax for sale online.” This review of social media sites was a subset of NABP’s ongoing study of online drug sellers, which has found that 95% of websites selling prescription drugs online are doing so illegally.

NABP has been working with social media companies and other stakeholders to protect consumers from fake pharmacies. One example is Twitter’s and Snapchat’s requirement that advertisers of pharmacies and pharmacy products must be verified by NABP. In addition, NABP shared the results of the study with representatives from Pinterest, who said they are aware of the problem and are taking steps to further reduce the number of illicit Pins that slip through their filters. As Americans’ reliance on social media platforms for news and information has grown in recent years, it is expected that the prevalence of rogue online pharmacies in these spaces will also increase. The goal is for social media companies to take steps and use available resources to screen and monitor their platforms for harmful content linking to illegally operating websites.

Consumers who buy medicines from NABP-verified websites can be confident they are buying medicine from trustworthy, legitimate pharmacies. An easy way to know that a website has been verified by NABP is to look for the .pharmacy domain at the end of the web address. A list of safe online pharmacies and related resources can be found on the Find a Safe Site page of

Read the full report and learn more about social media sites and rogue online pharmacies by visiting the Program and Committee Reports page in the Publications and Reports section of

NABP is the independent, international, and impartial Association that assists its state member boards and jurisdictions for the purpose of protecting the public health.

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Why crowdsourced hospital reviews often don't reflect actual quality—and how hospitals should respond

Why crowdsourced hospital reviews often don't reflect actual quality—and how hospitals should respond | Social Media and Healthcare |

A study published in the Health Services Research journal found that crowdsourced ratings websites—such as Yelp, Google Reviews, and Facebook—are good indicators of individual patient experience, but they don't reliably reflect patient quality and patient safety, Christopher Cheney reports for HealthLeaders Media.

Cheat sheet: Your guide to responding to online reviews 

The problem with crowdsourced reviews

For the study, researchers compared ratings from nearly 3,000 acute care hospitals posted on Yelp, Google Reviews, and Facebook to scores from Hospital Compare—a CMS website that uses Medicare claims data and 57 metrics to rate hospitals on patient experience, patient safety, and clinical quality.



The researchers found about half of the top-rated hospitals on social media sites were also among the best-rated by Hospital Compare's overall rating. On the other hand, about 20% of the top-rated hospitals on social media were among the worst-rated by Hospital Compare's overall rating.

Victoria Perez, a co-author of the study and assistant professor at Indiana University, said, "For the most part, what we found is that the social media scores tell us about patient experience, but they don't tell us about the best and worst hospitals on the basis of clinical quality or patient safety."

How hospitals can use the study's findings

While research suggests that crowdsourced ratings don't always accurately represent a hospital's clinical quality, Cheney writes that reviews in venues such as Yelp are very accessible for patients, which means they often can color patients' views of a hospital's quality of care.

Perez said, "We wish that people would understand that even if hospitals are not scoring well on Facebook in user reviews, they could have excellent clinical scores."

According to Perez, hospitals can neutralize the negative crowdsource ratings by refocusing patients' attention to measures of clinical quality and patient safety. "Hospitals can advertise that they score well on Hospital Compare and establish marketing strategies to respond to social media scores," Perez explained.

She recommended hospitals post their Hospital Compare clinical quality and patient safety scores on their websites and social media pages (Cheney, Health Leaders Media, 9/10).

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Healthcare Digital Marketing Trends to Expect in 2019

Healthcare Digital Marketing Trends to Expect in 2019 | Social Media and Healthcare |

Things like Artificial Intelligence, virtual reality, and improved wireless network capabilities are allowing people all across the globe to connect and share information like never before. We live in an exciting time…and it pays to expand your knowledge and prepare for the newest healthcare marketing trends if you want to grow your business. Over here at Cardinal, this is what we think is worth taking a special look at in healthcare digital marketing going into 2019:

1. Healthcare SEO Trends (and a rise in voice-activated searches)

As businesses vie for the top spot in search engine rankings, healthcare providers and professionals will start to really hone in on the value of organically-generated content to improve search engine optimization.

Plus, going into 2019 it’s likely we’ll see an increase in voice-based search queries. How many people do you know use Siri on their iPhones, Amazon Alexa, Cortana, Google Voice, et cetera, to find directions or instructions or communicate with people while trying to be hands-free?


Even at the end of 2015, voice command software systems were on the rise. MindMeld released a study that showed a significant increase in people who started using digital voice search in the last six months since being introduced.

Even though voice-activated search software systems don’t typically release the numbers on how often their devices are used, digital marketing experts suggest that voice-based searches will be on the rise. ComScoreeven went so far to say that by the year 2020, all internet searches will be voice-driven.

With more people going to their mobile hands-free devices for answers, it’s important to create content so that they find your business- especially if you work in healthcare. There are several ways to organically generate content and distribute it through the web that in turn raise your SEO ranking and are more likely to get picked up over voice commands, such as through social media and blog posts.

• Social Media
Regularly posting updates to Facebook and LinkedIn can help healthcare businesses climb the ranks in SEO, but the ones who will continue to stand out in 2019 are those that come up with creative social media campaigns that really drive engagement.

For example, to urge people into practicing healthier ways of living, UnitedHealthcare released a “We Dare You” campaign in 2015 that gained widespread healthcare marketing notoriety. In it, United Healthcare encouraged its social media followers to make one small change/implement a healthier habit per month and share it with the rest of the group. United Healthcare posted prompts, like “We dare you to watch our ‘Choosing a Health Insurance Plan’ video and share your opinion” to “Play the herbs and spices matching game” with everything leading back to sharing the results on social media for a chance to win prizes.

United Healthcare is no stranger to using hashtags in their Facebook posts (recently bringing awareness to #NationalAcornSquashDay and #ChildhoodCancerAwarenessMonth), but every time they do they gain a couple thousand more likes. And with more than 185,000 followers, United Healthcare is doing something right in digital healthcare marketing.

The “100 Deadliest Days” may sound like a zombie apocalypse horror movie, but it’s also a time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when children and teen deaths increase tenfold due to critical injuries. When the Arkansas Children’s Hospital recognized this, they created a campaign to raise awareness of what kids can do to stay safe during the summer. Even though it doesn’t paint a pretty picture when you search #100deadliestdays on Twitter and come upon a teenage car accident, it does send a powerful message to be alert during this time so that your loved ones stay out of the hospital.

• Blogging
Regularly creating content for your website that is helpful and answers peoples’ questions is a great way to gain recognition as a trusted expert in your field, or you can at least facilitate the conversation by creating a forum or being the absolute go-to source for anyone who has a medical question.

I think that two of the two most prevalent sources for medical information is WebMD and the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic in particular, is a well-recognized source for treating patients from all over the world with a variety of information and a top-notch staff. In a medical marketing sense, the Mayo clinic successfully created an inclusive, worldwide digital community through its Sharing Mayo Clinic blog. In it, the blog is consistently sharing success stories, experiences, and helpful information about dealing with big life changes for its family members, patients, and staff.

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How Facebook can improve critical care ultrasound education

How Facebook can improve critical care ultrasound education | Social Media and Healthcare |

With no standard way to teach critical care ultrasound (CCUS) to physicians, researchers from the University of Southern California have found that social media may be the answer, the American College of Chest Physicians reported on Oct. 3.  

Utilizing a social media platform such as Facebook to teach CCUS is comparable to that of a typical learning environment, according to researchers who found that half of study participants reported that being in a CCUS Facebook group enhanced their education and motivated them to learn more about the skill.  

Volunteers participants—fellows from the University of Southern California pulmonary and critical care department—were included in the study and provided with a typical CCUS curriculum and a pre-knowledge and skills assessment. The fellows completed the assessment, participated in a two-day hands-on bootcamp and were invited to join a private CCUS Facebook group.  

The Facebook group provided the participants with 41 skills divided into five systems and delivered over a 20-week period. Facebook posts included quizzes, cases, images, movies, questions and weblinks to articles. The researchers measured the platform analytics including the traffic, number of views and overall time usage. 


Almost half of the fellows participated in the Facebook group, with three first-year, four second-year and to third-year fellows. The average number of posts viewed was 24 out of 41 posts, almost all fellows responded to the post intervention survey, 44 percent shared that they would participate in a Facebook education group again, 56 percent said that the Facebook group enhanced their CCUS education and 44 percent stated that it motivated them to learn more about CCUS.  

“We believe that Facebook is a viable method for implementing a CCUS curriculum,” said lead author Shiqian Li, PhD in a prepared statement. “The fact that most of the fellows stated that the content was useful and had enhanced their education and some of the fellows stated that it motivated them to learn more further shows that Facebook and social media may be a beneficial adjunct for different types of learners." 

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How to Choose the Right Video Format to Export Healthcare Videos

How to Choose the Right Video Format to Export Healthcare Videos | Social Media and Healthcare |

Many healthcare professionals nowadays have started to create videos as a way to advertise their services, provide useful advice, or build up a social media following. One of the aspects of video creation that you may have difficulty with however is choosing a format when you export your videos.

Video Formats: Containers and Codecs

Many people aren’t aware that the ‘format’ of a video actually has two parts: A container and a codec.

The container is the wrapping that holds together the video data and is easily recognized by the extension of the video, i.e. MKV, MP4, AVI, and so on. It also determines the additional features that may be in the video, such as subtitles, menus, and so on.

The codec, however, is the part that arranges the data and determines the compression that is used. Some of the more popular codecs nowadays include H.264, H.265 (HEVC), and MPEG-4.

When you choose a format you need to select both a container and codec – as they work as a pair.

“How Will The Video Be Used?”

If there’s one question that you should ask yourself when you want to choose a format for a healthcare video, it is the one above: How will it be used?

To break it down, depending on how the video will be used you will approach your choice differently:

  • Upload to social media or other online platforms

If you want to upload your video to social media or any other online platforms, you should try to look up the recommended format and settings for that platform. For example YouTube’s recommended format is MP4 with H.264.

By exporting your healthcare video using the recommended format, you can ensure that there are no issues involving the format when you upload it.

  • Distribute manually or store for personal use

In other cases where you intend to distribute the video manually or store it for personal use there are two factors you need to consider: Compatibility and compression. Newer video formats have better compression, but are not as widely supported.

If you’re going to be distributing the video to a large group of people, compatibility is key and opting for MP4 with H.264 is a good option. However if you’re not and your devices support newer formats, you could try MKV with H.265 to conserve space.

It is worth noting that all the above applies to videos in other formats that you may want to upload online or distribute through other means. In fact if you have videos of any kind in obscure formats you should definitely consider transcoding them. For example you could use Movavi Video Converter to convert videos between formats – including as a MXF converter.

As you can see choosing the ‘right’ format for healthcare videos isn’t that difficult when you approach it from this angle. Just remember to be aware of both the container and codec that you’re using when you export your videos and save them.

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95% of Americans find online doctor reviews reliable, survey suggests

American consumers are more often using online review sites to choose doctors, and they’re increasingly trusting of those reviews, especially millennials, according to a new survey of 1,000 US adults.

The survey, conducted by One Poll and sponsored by digital-focused healthcare marketing company Binary Fountain, found that 95 percent of respondents — and 97 percent of millennials — found online ratings and reviews somewhat to very reliable. And 70 percent said that online ratings and review sites had influenced their choice of physician. Forty-one percent said they still check a doctor out online, even if they were referred to them by another physician.

“The survey results underscore the significance of online ratings and reviews as online reputation management for physicians becomes ever-more important in today’s healthcare consumer environment,” Aaron Clifford, senior vice president of marketing at Binary Fountain, said in a statement. “As patients are becoming more vocal about their healthcare experiences, healthcare organizations need to play a more active role in compiling, reviewing and responding to patient feedback, if they want to compete in today’s marketplace.”

Where do patients go for these doctor reviews? Well, 34 percent went to the hospital’s own website first, which is good news for providers looking to control their message. Twenty-nine percent went to Google, 18 percent started at WebMD and 15 percent headed for Healthgrades.

Interestingly, 12 percent said Facebook is where they started for reviews, and the survey showed that generally people are willing to share their healthcare experiences on social media platforms. Fifty-one percent of all respondents and 70 percent of millennials said they have shared experiences with a physician online, either via social media or on an online review site.

These findings could be troubling for healthcare professionals, who tend to have a different view of online reviews. A survey in May found that nine in 10 doctors were worried about online reviews, and a Mayo Clinic research project from April showed that reviews often reflected non-physician care experience factors.

Respondents also shared what they were looking for in a physician and what turned them off. Bedside manner was paramount. Forty-eight percent of respondents marked “a friendly and caring attitude” as a highly important factor and 47 percent indicated “an ability to answer all my questions” was important. Additionally, 45 percent ranked the thoroughness of the examination among important factors.

The most frustrating part of a hospital experience? Wait times, according to 43 percent of respondents. Ten percent said cost and payment, 10 percent said waiting for exam results and 9 percent listed scheduling.

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How are doctors using tech for patient engagement?

How are doctors using tech for patient engagement? | Social Media and Healthcare |


The healthcare industry relies on technology for numerous purposes — billing, scheduling, and documentation, to name a few. And a new survey found providers are increasingly relying on tech to engage patients.

The poll from patient engagement business PatientPoint and nonprofit think tank Digital Health Coalition included responses from more than 200 doctors. The survey was powered by physician social network SERMO.


EHRs alone are insufficient to succeed in value-based care. That’s why hospitals and health systems are integrating an analytics platform.


Ninety-five percent of physician respondents said they sometimes or nearly always use technology to better educate or engage with patients.


“I think a big reason why we’re seeing such high utilization of patient engagement tools is because physicians truly believe in the power of technology to provide better care,” PatientPoint founder and CEO Mike Collette said via email.

Indeed, 77 percent of surveyed doctors agreed technology helps improve patients’ overall experience.



Digging deeper, the survey asked what types of tech physicians are currently using to engage or educate patients. The top answers included digital waiting room screens (58 percent), mobile apps (46 percent) and exam room tablets (44 percent).

Collette noted these tools all allow providers to have more meaningful conversations with patients. He explained:

The waiting room screens empower patients to ask about treatment options, enroll in patient portals and adhere to preventive screenings and immunizations. In the exam room, patients can take a deep dive into their condition alongside their doctor via rich media like anatomical models and videos. Then patients can continue their education and conversation with their doctor on mobile apps before and after their visit, bringing things full circle.

Other solutions currently in use by doctors included check-in tablets (34 percent), digital screens in the back office (33 percent) and interactive touchscreens in the exam room (28 percent).

When asked about which types of technology they’re interested in utilizing in the future, 52 percent of doctors pointed to check-in tablets. Additionally, two key locations stood out as important touchpoints: the waiting room and the exam room. Thirty-six percent of physicians are interested in digital waiting room screens, while 45 percent want exam room tablets and 44 percent want interactive touchscreens in the exam room.

Collette said these two spaces — the exam room and the waiting room — are pivotal, and that doctors see the benefits of engaging individuals there.

But patient engagement doesn’t only happen in the office. That’s perhaps why 54 percent of physicians said they want help connecting to patients before and after their visits. Those surveyed said they’re interested in using a variety of technologies to connect with patients outside the office, including email (59 percent), mobile apps (48 percent) and SMS texting (39 percent).

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Facebook status: Sick—how people use the internet to cope with illness

Facebook status: Sick—how people use the internet to cope with illness | Social Media and Healthcare |

When a person is diagnosed with a serious illness, he or she may seek support from a variety of sources: friends, family, support groups, medical and mental health professionals. Today's toolkit for coping with disease also includes something it didn't in the past: digital resources. 

In his new book, Coping with Illness Digitally, University of Arizona communication professor Stephen Rains explores how people use digital toolslike social media, online health forums, medical information websites and even email correspondence with physicians to cope with illness.

As these tools have become more widely available, they have changed the ways in which patients understand and come to terms with disease diagnoses, and even how friends and family members grieve when a loved one dies, says Rains.

"Because technology has become so central to our lives, it makes sense that it would also be used as a coping resource," said Rains, who studies technology and health. "I saw this book as an opportunity to do two things: One, to better understand the world in which we live, in which we're inundated with these technologies that play such a central role in our everyday lives. And two, to learn about how people cope and how resourceful people are in making sense of and dealing with illness."

Rains' book pulls together research from a variety of fields, including communications, medicine, public health, psychology and sociology. In it, he proposes a model for understanding how and why patients engage in digital coping activities, based on seven benefits afforded by technology: anonymity, availability, control, diversity, documentation, reach and visibility.

For example, after a patient is diagnosed with a serious or life-threatening illness, one of the first things he or she might do is seek more information about the condition online, where massive amounts of diverse material are available at one's fingertips and the user has control over the extent of the search.  

Patients might also post on their social media accounts or blogs as a way to share their disease journey, giving them visibility, reach and a way to document their experiences, for themselves or loved ones. In addition, they might visit or post comments in online health forums for others with similar diagnoses—something they can do publicly or anonymously.

"Online communities have been around since the '80s and '90s in different forms, but now they're a lot more prominent, and 1 in 5 people has gone online at some point in their life for peer support," Rains said. "The reason people go online is because the experience of illness, in many ways, sets them apart and makes them different from their family and friends, who want to help but don't know exactly what that person's going through. Sometimes, going online and talking with others who are experiencing similar things allows people to realize they're part of a broader community who's all in this together, and just knowing there are others online feeling the same way is very comforting."

Rains' book also includes a chapter on end of life and bereavement, which explores how friends and family members use digital tools in grieving.

"One finding in a couple studies that really struck me was evidence that people use Facebook pages to talk with the bereaved," he said. "They use these technologies to maintain a relationship with someone who passed away."

While it's easy to focus on the potential social pitfalls of life online, the research in Rains' book suggests the digital space is largely beneficial for those diagnosed with serious illness.

"When we talk about online, we often talk about it in negative terms—cyberbullying, negativity online—but in the context of health, I see almost the polar opposite," Rains said. "If you go into these online support communities, by and large they tend to be very warm, inviting, positive and supportive places."

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Anatomy of the Perfect Dental Recall Campaign

Anatomy of the Perfect Dental Recall Campaign | Social Media and Healthcare |
This guide to the perfect dental recall campaign will help you keep loyal, and the less-than-reliable, patients on track, all while reclaiming more revenue for your practice.

Of all the systems that keep a dental practice running, patient recall is the one that separates the successful from the struggling.

Recall is the thread that runs through the entire patient experience. From making appointments to preventing no-shows, the ideal dental recall campaign will prevent and address problems that, when left untreated, normally result in emergency appointments.

The key with recall is that it's all about about working better with the patients you already have. And studies continue to show this is an investment worth making.

According to the CDA, keeping current patients is nearly 10 times less expensive than attracting new ones. It makes sense — half of the marketing work is already done for you! Because you have patients’ information and know the services they need, it is far easier to effectively market to existing patients.

Not only is it cheap to implement, but creating and following a strategic recall campaign can translate to thousands of added dollars for your practice.

Still, many dental practices get stuck in a recall rut, leaving lapsed patients and lots of potential revenue on the table.
Three Ways to Win Patients Over
Within patient recall marketing, there are two types of patients.

There is the pre-appointed patient — the chronically responsible patient who schedules their follow-up appointments at the end of every cleaning or procedure.

Then there is the unscheduled patient. That one who has fallen off your calendar or forgot to plan for their next appointment.

These two types require very different recall marketing strategies.

Before getting into the details of each, there are a few important basics to go over that apply to any dental recall campaign. Every successful dental recall campaign has three key elements: message, medium, and timing.
The Message
The call-to-action for recall campaigns might seem straightforward — either make an appointment or don’t miss an appointment. However, getting people to respond and take action requires more nuance than that.

Particularly for unscheduled patients, clearly communicate why they would benefit from making and keeping an appointment.

People only do things if they know what they are getting — a bright smile, friendly staff, 10% off cosmetic work, cavity prevention.

Think personal, not prescriptive. Recall communication should always balance a sense of urgency with a feeling of community.

If a patient feels valued, they are far more likely to keep coming back.
The Medium
Effective recall campaigns use multiple methods of communication (phone, email, text, snail mail). What works for one patient might not work for the next, so switch it up!

People typically require between six and eight touches before they take action. In other words, they must be contacted (touched) at least half a dozen times before they'll schedule an appointment.

By scattering your messaging over different channels, you are more likely to get patients to remember to schedule an appointment. Different mediums also lessens the risk of patients getting any sort of recall fatigue.
The Timing
Like your own patient schedule, timing is everything when it comes to patient recall.

You have to play the long game by sending out reminders well in advance. However, you also need to balance a strategic short game with texts and email blasts.

Learn the right days, as well as the best times of day, to send a reminder. This very well can be the deciding factor between a kept appointment and an annoyed patient.

As you start to strategize, remember that patients are human. They have good intentions, but are also battling busy schedules.

Patients need a set of reminders that bring value without adding stress. Similarly, you need a system that minimizes effort and maximizes conversions.

Create a set timeline with customized messaging for both scheduled and unscheduled patients. Doing this ahead of time takes all the pressure off deciding what to say and when to say it.

A good rule of thumb is that the more effort you have to put into the message, the further out it should be in the recall campaign. So anything going out in the mail should have a runway of at least a month.


Dental Recall Campaign for Scheduled Patients
Reminder No. 1
Medium: Mailed postcard

Messaging: Include an engaging photo of your office or team. This is also a great branding opportunity!

Timing: 6 weeks before the appointment
Reminder No. 2
Medium: Email

Message: Include a personalized PSA about the importance of cleanings.

Timing: 3 weeks before the scheduled appointment
Reminder No. 3
Medium: Email or phone call

Message: Let patients know their appointment is right around the corner (ex.
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The Doctor Will @ You Now: Social Media MD Shares Strategies

The Doctor Will @ You Now: Social Media MD Shares Strategies | Social Media and Healthcare |

Faris K. Timimi, MD, is no stranger to social media. As medical director for the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN) and a practicing cardiologist in Rochester, Minnesota, Dr Timimi maintains an active social media presence, most recently sharing his thoughts about the Heart Failure Society of American's annual meeting on the #HFSA2018 hashtag.

Dr Timimi and Lee Aase, communications director of the MCSMN, sat down with Medical Bag to discuss the goals of the MCSMN and role of social media in physician practice.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Medical Bag: Can you talk a little bit about the history of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network? What was the impetus behind forming the organization?

Lee Aase: The Mayo Clinic...has a physician-administrator partnership. I am the administrative part of that, Dr. Timimi is the physician part. [He] helps us make sure we are aligning with the practice needs and what works in the real world for physicians.


We saw that social media was used as word-of-mouth in the 21st century, so we felt that as professional communicators, we should embrace that as well.

We were one of the early organizations to get into social media. Our leadership saw that we were having trouble with that, and they said we should look in public relations and marketing, and apply those [principles] to teach our physicians and staff what is appropriate and what is not. So we created this Mayo Clinic Social Media Network.

Our goal first is to help our Mayo Clinic staff use these tools, and apply them in their work. Second, we recognize that part of the culture of healthcare is sharing and learning together, and that is what all these scientific academic meetings are about. We wanted to be that for social media in healthcare. As we are developing resources and training materials for best practices, we said, "Let's create a place where our colleagues around the world can also use this as a resource and can get up to speed more quickly if they are considering engaging." We can also learn from them. This connects to the Mayo Clinic's history. Our founders were big believers of face-to-face networking; we just made it digital.

What is the biggest pitfall of physicians who are active on social media? What's the number 1 thing you recommend physicians not do?

Dr Timimi: I will begin by saying that the most common mistake physicians make is that they do not participate [in social media]. The perceived fear of potential violations online precludes their use of social media as a tool.

The second pitfall is that they do not treat it as the tool that it is. They treat it as a 1-size-fits-all channel. The real value of social media is, first, a way to reach an audience or a particular goal you are trying to achieve, and second, to increase engagement by being social and not seeing this as just another broadcast channel.

For example, tweeting about what my practice can do over and over again, without engaging in real conversation, or picking the wrong tool for the wrong opportunity — [physicians] who don't understand the right demographic with Facebook vs Pinterest vs Instagram vs Twitter try to make a tool fit for an audience that doesn't make sense.


Is there on social media network that you recommend above all else?


Dr Timimi: Part of it is looking at your audience and looking for what's there. For example, Snapchat wouldn't really make any sense for senior citizens. I'm not sure if it makes sense in healthcare for anyone, but at any rate, you have to look at the demographics and the nature of the platform, the content of what you are putting out there, and what are the characteristics and how does it fit.

I think that Instagram is great, but 1 of the pitfalls is that you are not allowed to link. You cannot put a link within the post, so because of that, if 1 of your goals it to get people the opportunity to go visit your professional bio and some other landing page, you do not have the ability to direct people there. In terms of engagement, I can see a dermatology practice working really well, although you typically see beautiful pictures on Instagram vs the kinds of things you see in dermatology practice.

What are some of the HIPAA concerns that physicians need to be aware of when using social media?

Dr Timimi: A lot of providers are worried about being contacted by patients through social platforms and [having to] engage in conversation with them and inadvertently sharing privacy information.

I think it gets back to the fundamental rules...we encourage all providers to have guidelines [for all employees], and to train them. As long as these guidelines are put in place, these tools are much less complex than tools that are used on a daily basis in medicine. I think a mistake we see is when providers do not see [social media] as tools, but see them as toys and are not rigorous when approaching them. When a provider has a new technology in practice, they are very rigorous in how they use and incorporate it so that they can train the staff on how to use [the technology] correctly. You need to have the same mindset for social platforms.

Another reason why physicians do not get involved is time. Physicians need to understand that this is not time demanding, and often physicians can automate what they share. You can schedule tweets in 10-minute periods at the beginning of the week and go through medical journals to pick out which articles are the most relevant, then schedule 1 a day for the next 6 days. By doing this, you will have a presence every day and not wake up every morning needing to send out constant tweets, which will make people unfollow you.

Do you find that physicians who are active on social media are experiencing increased burnout linked to the constant engagement?

Dr Timimi: No, for many of our providers, it is something new and out of the ordinary for them. It is something that is artistic and creative to be able to use language in that way. A lot of providers are incredibly busy, but really enjoy the social media space.

If you were guiding a physician who was a social media novice, what would be your top tip for a successful social media strategy?

Dr Timimi: First, [clarify] what the social media guidelines are for their organization. Second, getting trained through a training course and focusing on social platform tools is really critical to reinforce the resources you need to allocate, the listening strategies that are important, and the fact that professionalism is really important for a provider online.

Mr Aase: I want to emphasize that you need to strategically think about what you are trying to accomplish with your involvement. What is your goal? If you do not have that "why" out there, then it's going to be easy to not be motivated enough to stay with it.

What type of return on investment do you see, financially or socially or through another metric, for physicians who use social media?

Dr Timimi: I think any time you allocate time or resources, there has to be some return on investment. For example, there are services out there that may see a negative physician rating. Those sites will send out emails to the physicians saying "Look at this, look at what people are saying about you online. If you give us $50 a month, we can help manage that."

If there is a way we can save $600 per year on that service, spending a little time creating a Twitter or LinkedIn account or completing a profile in Doximity can help. The tools that we recommend for physicians are Twitter and LinkedIn, because they are going to allow for reputation management. Twitter is the best for networking, as it allows you to connect with anyone in the world through hashtags.

What is the biggest limitation of social media right now for physicians, and how do you see that being overcome in the next 5 years?

Mr Aase: [A social media presence] is becoming much more expected by patients. It helps humanize the physicians. For example, what you will see on Dr Timimi's Twitter is a picture of his kids, which makes him more approachable, which is very important for patients.

Dr Timimi: Five years ago, I had to convince providers to use social media. Now, providers come to me asking for ways to be more strategic on social media. I only see this increasing. I see a strategic shift in how providers can use social media for education. It will just be another tool that medical providers will grab from their bag.

Follow Dr Timimi on Twitter @FarrisTimimi. Follow Mr Aase on Twitter @LeeAase. For more information on the MCSMN, including how to become a member or participate in a social media residency, visit or follow the organization on Twitter @MayoClinicSMN.

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‘Twitter doesn’t require peer review’: The benefits, risks of cardiology chatter on social media

‘Twitter doesn’t require peer review’: The benefits, risks of cardiology chatter on social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

he immediacy and accessibility of social media provides a fertile ground for cardiology practitioners to quickly share feedback, insight or criticism of the latest medical research, case studies and practical techniques.

But those same characteristics can lead to the spread of misinformation or uninformed opinions from users who haven’t bothered to read past headlines or the maximum 280 characters from another #CardioTwitter poster—common problems in the “Fake News” era that take on whole new implications when important clinical matters are being discussed.

“Things have changed and we all need to get used to it,” said David J. Maron, MD, with Stanford University School of Medicine. “The trials are being reviewed before they’re published and there are bits of information that may or may not be accurate that are floating around. Twitter does not require peer review.”

Maron is a co-chair of the ISCHEMIA trial, whose investigators touched off a back-and-forth of journal editorials and social media posts when they changed their primary endpoint late in the trial recruitment period.

Another example of a cardiology “Twitterstorm” that may have gotten out of hand was the reaction to the ORBITA trial that was released during the 2017 Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics conference. Some applauded the bold, sham-controlled trial of percutaneous coronary intervention while others dismissed it, rebuked it or even personally attacked the researchers.


“In medical discussion … it’s partly the platform and the channel and it’s partly the environment you create,” Asif Qasim, PhD, said during a presentation at TCT 2018. “If you create a professional environment people will behave in a professional way. On Twitter, people unfortunately—even though you know who they are—they feel like they might be in the bar having a chat and sometimes that spills as their professional conversations and that can introduce risks.”

Qasim has a vested interest in moving medical conversations away from public arenas. He’s the founder and CEO of MedShr, a platform clinicians can visit to discuss challenging cases, learn from colleagues and keep these conversations restricted to the medical community.

But that doesn’t invalidate Qasim’s point, and other cardiologists considered the question of whether negative trial backlash on social media could affect patient enrollment and recruitment—especially because a patient can withdraw consent to participate at any time.

“Let’s say you’re a patient who is considering going into a trial and you’re aware of this buzz going on in the Twittersphere, you might have second thoughts about participating,” Maron said. “Or, if you’re a referring physician, you might have second thoughts about allowing your patients to participate. Twitter needs to be responsible; it can affect the integrity of a trial.”

Chuck Simonton, MD, the chief medical officer of Abbott Vascular, said he isn’t aware of trial enrollment being affected in this way so far, but added it’s a “valid concern.”


“Someone might say, ‘Well I would never volunteer to be in a sham-controlled, randomized trial,’ and start a whole bad run of commentary on that when there’s an active trial like ORBITA 2 about to start soon,” he said. “I think … it’s a real risk and I don’t know how to control that. I think it’s more the community controlling itself and realizing that the opinions you post can be read by the lay public and people who may even be approached for a clinical trial.”

Robert W. Yeh, MD, MBA—one of the more active cardiologists on Twitter with upwards of 7,000 followers—agreed with that self-policing approach within the medical community.

“I think you’d be playing a game of whack-a-mole by trying to censor information from one medium as opposed to the other,” said Yeh, director of the center for outcomes research in cardiology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “As a society we’re getting misinformation in more spaces than just trial data, but I do think where those misinformation are published, I think the rapid correction via the wisdom of the crowd can help things. That’s why I actually think we need greater participation (on social media).”

The authors of an editorial published in Circulation last month highlighted additional benefits of sharing cardiology-related information on Twitter.

“Medical Twitter gives access to the some of the world’s best clinicians and academics who can be potential virtual mentors for aspiring clinicians and surgeons or provide medical knowledge to those patients who feel that they are underinformed on their own medical condition and treatment,” noted Damian Gimpel, MBBS, and Max Ray.

With multiple social media-themed sessions at TCT 2018 and medical journals now devoting space to the topic, it’s clear #CardioTwitter is here to stay. As Gimpel and Ray suggested in their editorial: “For those who are concerned that the next generation of patients are being misled, join the conversation.”

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How Social Media Assists Orphan Disease Research

How Social Media Assists Orphan Disease Research | Social Media and Healthcare |

Orphan diseases account for a large subset of diseases in the United States. An orphan disease is defined as a condition that affects fewer than 200,000 people in a given population. According to the Kakkis EveryLife Foundation, over 7000 orphan diseases in the United States affect 1 in 10 (approximately 25 million) people. Half of the people suffering from these diseases are children. People with these rare diseases depend on researchers to develop new drugs (“orphan drugs”) that may improve quality-of-life. In this blog, we discuss how pharmaceutical companies’ orphan disease research differs from research into more prominent diseases, and how social media is helping shift that paradigm and bring more attention to these rare conditions.

Challenges With Orphan Disease Treatment Development

Considering the thousands of drugs developed for more common diseases, we see that researchers are just scratching the surface in the world of orphan disease. Up until the last 5-10 years, pharmaceutical companies have first defined the need for a drug based on a condition’s prevalence, and then developed a drug treatment program around that need. Historically, given the nature and lack of understanding of some orphan diseases, pharmaceutical companies were reluctant to develop drugs for these diseases. In 1983, the Orphan Drug Act created government incentives for pharmaceutical companies to pursue treatment developments within the scope of orphan disease. Since then, around 600 new orphan disease drugs have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and brought to market. Still, almost 95 percent of orphan diseases have no FDA-approved treatment, and the need for new treatments is often defined on a patient-by-patient basis.

One of the biggest challenges with studying orphan disease is finding the patients to participate in a study. Reaching these patients hasn’t always been straightforward. Patients who have an orphan disease often have feelings of alienation, loneliness, lost hope or defeat from failed diagnoses or treatments, and disempowerment. These feelings can sometimes be attributed to misdiagnosis, being ignored  by healthcare providers, or being geographically isolated from resources and information about potential treatments.

Breakthroughs in the popularity of social media have helped overcome some of these challenges. Previously, orphan drug development depended on advocacy groups and associations to give patients a platform for voicing their concerns. The rise of social media in recent years has broadened and amplified the voice of orphan disease patients.

How Can Social Media Help with Orphan Drug Development?

The intersection between clinical trials and social media use has been a heavily discussed topic due to the meteoric rise in use of social media in clinical research. Social media communities provide a unique opportunity to address some of the concerns with recruitment and access to information. Here, we highlight three key ways that social media can specifically help patients with orphan diseases:

  • Information: Given the communal nature of social media, delivery of information can be almost instantaneous. People who suffer from orphan diseases may feel alone because they know something is wrong but don’t know anything about the symptoms of their disease or where to find out more about it. Social media can serve as a useful tool for sharing new advancements in understanding and continuing education for a disease.
  • Connection: Providing orphan disease patients with a platform where they can interact with others who have had similar experiences can create a sense of community. This can happen on one or more social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) through support groups, patient advocacy campaigns, or directed advertising. In addition, using social media to connect an orphan disease population with others can allow earlier disease awareness, improve patient experiences when interacting with health care providers, reveal potential recruitment opportunities for clinical studies, and enhance collaboration in the quest for accurate diagnoses.
  • Empowerment: While social media involves some risks, one valuable aspect is that it can empower orphan disease patients. That empowerment may come through testimonials geared toward physicians, fundraising for awareness, a feeling of self-worth by participating in research, or knowing there are others out there looking for information.
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