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Image sharing using Facebook: Fact or fiction?

Image sharing using Facebook: Fact or fiction? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Healthcare practitioners can share medical images using a number of mechanisms and methods. Some of these applications have been in use for at least 20 years, some are still being developed, and some might not make sense today but could very well change how we share images in the near future.


Some applications might seem far-fetched, particularly regarding image exchange using social media. However, one should remember that the most common critique when Twitter was still in its infancy was that "it did not have a purpose" -- until the Arab Spring occurred, in which social media played a major role.


Therefore, I would not reject image sharing via social media as being far-fetched, but rather take it as a valid option. Before we consider image sharing on Facebook, I want to describe image sharing use-case scenarios and then look at how we can accomplish this with different architectures. I'll also list the communication options and discuss the maturity of these solutions.


Use cases

While radiology studies are the most commonly exchanged images for review and evaluation, practitioners in pathology, ophthalmology, dermatology, and many other specialties also require image sharing. The most popular use cases are described below.

Emergency medicine scenario: Often during off-hours, a study has to be reviewed and reported, causing a preliminary report to be generated and sent back to the requester within a very limited time frame, e.g., 15 to 30 minutes. A more detailed report is often created when a radiologist or other specialty practitioner is available, such as during regular working hours.


Primary radiology coverage: This is when a radiologist is not present onsite, as is often the case in rural areas, or when a radiologist covers clinics in the suburbs or provides coverage for disaster or war zones. In this case, exchanging images with the onsite clinicians is essential. Instead of the "preliminary" read as used in the emergency scenario, the practitioner creates a final report.

Second opinion: When a specialist is looking for an opinion from a peer who might have more experience with a certain imaging modality or particular disease pattern, an image exchange is needed. This is common when new modalities or acquisition techniques are implemented, such as PET/CT or PET/MR. A sick patient may also present after returning to the U.S. following travel to a tropical country, and physicians might need a second opinion for a disease, such as malaria, that's uncommon in their particular region. Social media might also play a role in this scenario.


Comparison or referral: This occurs when the primary reason for the image exchange is not to make a diagnosis from the original study, as that already has taken place, but to have the previous studies available. For example, a patient is treated in another location, and previous exams have to be viewed for either comparison to a new study or, what is more often the case, to assess the patient's condition without having to repeat that procedure again. This scenario "reuses" the studies and reports as input to diagnosis and further treatment.


Implementation

Each image-sharing application does not necessarily have a single implementation. A certain use case can be implemented using different methods, although some of the architectures are more suitable to specific use cases than others. Let's look at the mechanisms to exchange the studies.

Point-to-point modality to viewer: A technologist can push certain studies directly from a modality, such as a CT in an emergency room, to a doctor's home for review at his or her DICOM viewer. There is a direct connection from the CT to the physician.


PACS to viewer: A PACS could be set up to route all stat studies arriving from a modality directly to a physician's workstation. This is similar to the point-to-point modality to viewer push approach, but it offers the advantage of having a copy available at the PACS to be used as an intermediary. If there are multiple modalities that have to share images, the sending can be centralized from a single source, i.e., the PACS router. If a PACS does not support sophisticated routing using rules determined by information in the image header in order to determine what information goes where, one could use an add-on image router that can be provided by several manufacturers.


PACS worklist: Images are sent to the PACS, and the radiologist has access to the PACS worklist using the PACS workstation. The workflow management features of the PACS can be used to indicate which studies are stat, which ones are being read, etc. This works well if a radiologist only reads from one hospital or multiple institutions that all have the same PACS. The same workflow is used whether the radiologist reads the images locally or accesses the PACS from a remote location.


Aggregate PACS: If the radiologists have to read from multiple, different PACS, it makes sense for them to use their own mini-PACS servers and worklist management. This is typically how nighthawk or emergency medicine works, as these radiologists support many different hospitals, each with their own PACS from different vendors. The images are therefore routed from either the modality or the PACS to a teleradiology PACS server, which aggregates the multiple worklists into a new "combined" worklist. The radiologist then retrieves the image from the teleradiology server and does the reporting.


PACS Web server: Several PACS provide a Web server, or one can purchase a Web server from a different vendor. The Web server can be embedded in the PACS core software or implemented as a separate hardware box that will have a copy of the images from the PACS. Images are typically retrieved over the Web and if one uses a true zero-footprint viewer, there is no trace left on the viewer after the user logs off, which satisfies privacy and security regulations. The worklist capabilities are often not present or are less sophisticated than when using the aggregate PACS worklist. However, the advantage of a separate versus an integrated Web server is that images are available even if the PACS might be down, and therefore this access type can also serve as a backup. One could also use a mini-Web server which gets the information directly from the acquisition modality, but this only makes sense for a small clinic with only one or two modalities and no PACS to speak of.


EMR: Instead of using a PACS, one can also use an electronic medical record (EMR) to view the images. The advantage is that there is much more contextual information available, including lab results, previous reports, patient history, etc. Image enabling of an EMR differs from vendor to vendor. One can use a PACS plug-in, which basically launches a viewer inside the EMR window after exchanging the appropriate context information such as an accession number, or do a query and retrieval from the EMR viewer to the PACS database or from an enterprise image manager and archive solution such as a vendor-neutral archive (VNA).


Image sharing using the cloud: Images can be exchanged using an external image-sharing service, which functions as a broker and forwards the images to the recipient. There are two versions: either the cloud service provider uses only a store-and-forward mechanism, or the cloud functions as a repository and keeps the images for a certain time period. Institutions need to subscribe to the cloud service provider for a fee. This solution makes sense for institutions that regularly exchange information but not often enough to warrant a dedicated link to each other. A good example would be an academic or specialty hospital with relationships with several other institutions in a geographic area that refer patients on a regular basis and want to exchange images. Note that the institution is tied into one particular cloud provider that exchanges the information, which is typically in a proprietary method.


Image sharing using a health information exchange (HIE): This implementation method employs the same architecture used by the commercial cloud provider, but it follows open standards. The HIE can be private, such as within a provider network with several hospitals and/or clinics, or it can be public, such as those being established as part of the incentives by the U.S. federal government to improve healthcare.


Image sharing using a personal health record (PHR): The main applications of the many PHRs that are being rolled out include scheduling appointments, reordering prescriptions, accessing physician notes, and maintaining a communication channel between the patient and provider. The ultimate PHR would also allow the maintenance of certain healthcare information, and it could be used for patients to upload their images to have them available whenever needed. A patient would simply authorize the provider access to the information, which can then be exchanged in a standard manner.


CD exchange: For comparison or referral purposes, images are often hand carried by the patient, a method that comes with its own logistics and interoperability challenges. A chronically sick patient might have literally dozens of CDs that need to be exchanged at each appointment with a different specialist. Also, there are still institutions that do not create these CDs in a standards-compliant manner, making them impossible to read and/or import to a workstation for comparison. The American Medical Association has complained about the wide variety of embedded image viewers, but, unfortunately, the resulting Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) profile definition to standardize viewer features and icons does not seem to have gotten much traction. CDs are still the most common method of exchanging images for referral, which one hopes will be replaced in the not-too-distant future with other image-sharing options described here.


Image sharing using social media: It is not uncommon for patients to post their images publicly on the Internet, sometimes just to share them, but also to ask for advice, in particular if it concerns a rare disease or something that is hard to diagnose. It is similar to radiology portals posting their "case of the day" or of the week, but with the difference that the diagnosis is not (yet) known. There are also physicians who use their own Facebook account or other social network to ask for advice. This is still an exception, and it seems to contradict the increasing emphasis on patient privacy. However, I would argue that this might be a valid option if a patient has no interest in keeping his or her information private, but rather would like to get as much exposure as possible for these images to get as many opinions as possible.


Connectivity

Network connectivity between the sending and receiving sides can be implemented in different ways; some are more common for certain applications than others. The most common implementations are as follows.

SNKR -- Sneakernet: In the CD exchange scenario, the information is exchanged in person or by mail, commonly referred to as the "sneakernet."

PPDCM -- Point-to-point DICOM: Images are typically exchanged between modalities or a PACS and pushed to a remote viewing station or to a teleradiology PACS server using the DICOM format and protocol. If one is using the public Internet, a virtual private network (VPN) is set up to guarantee confidentiality of the information to be exchanged. The DICOM protocol relies on the reliable delivery by the underlying TCP/IP communication layers. If the bandwidth of the connection is limited and/or the study sizes are large, standard DICOM compression is used such as JPEG or wavelet (aka JPEG2000).


GTWAY -- DICOM to edge server/gateway: If the connection to the Internet is unreliable or not available, one might need to use alternative communication channels such as the phone network or dedicated satellite links. In that case, an edge server or gateway is used that converts the DICOM protocol in a proprietary protocol, which in most cases uses a high compression ratio and very robust communication protocol. The gateway functions as a store-and-forward box, ensuring delivery. This edge server talks to a server or a destination that has the reverse gateway, i.e., it makes sure the images are received without any corruption and preferably then uses DICOM to pass them on. This solution is common for teleradiology applications in rural areas or disaster and military zones.


PPP -- Point-to-point proprietary: This is commonly used by workstations that access the PACS server of the same vendor. They use the radiology worklist provided by the PACS, and, if they use a public network, a VPN is needed to encrypt the information being exchanged.


WEB -- Web-based protocol: The Web-server clients typically use a secure HTTPS protocol to access the images. Some PACS vendors also use HTTPS for regular in-house image access, but this is uncommon.


EML -- Email: Emailing an image poses quite a few issues because the images are quite large even if they are compressed, and there is no context information. This assumes that one uses secure email to start with and that the receiver can recognize the .dcm file extensions that are created for that purpose. DICOM has addressed this, but the DICOM email has never taken off in the U.S., although it has been implemented in Germany and is somewhat common there.


XPHR -- Personal Health Record Exchange: This is an HL7 version 3 document exchange definition using the Clinical Document Architecture (CDA), which can exchange all relevant information between the PHR and EMR.


XDS-I -- Cross-Enterprise Document Sharing for Imaging: The IHE organization has defined a series of profiles, including how to exchange documents and images. The XDS-I profile uses a series of transactions that allow an image producer and consumer to exchange both registry and repository information with an HIE. The image exchange uses the Web version of the DICOM protocol, aka WADO, or Web Access to DICOM Objects. The XDS-I protocol is widely implemented by PACS vendors, especially those who claim to offer a VNA. However, the number of institutions that actually use this protocol, especially in the U.S., is still relatively sparse. Note that there are also different variants of this mechanism defined by IHE, i.e., the Cross Community Access for Imaging (XCA-I) and the Cross-Enterprise Document Reliable Interchange of Images (XDR-I). These don't use a registry but provide a direct query/retrieve and push mechanism for image exchange. These implementations are also still in their infancy.


RSTF -- Restful Services: A new version of the DICOM protocol is being defined that expands beyond the WADO protocol and has greater functionality. The "traditional" DICOM protocol that includes a negotiation step to set up the association between two devices and uses the DICOM-specific set of commands is not that suitable for accessing information over the Web. This new DICOM extension is still very much in its early phases, but it might become popular as the need for Web-based access, especially from embedded viewers in an EMR, becomes common.


INT -- Internet: Uploading images on a server via a proprietary protocol is typically used by social media, such as Facebook or other image-sharing services. The image would have to be converted to a Web-friendly image type such as JPEG or TIFF, which almost certainly affects the image quality. Therefore, one can typically only see gross anatomy; small findings are almost certainly not visible.


Use cases with typical architectures and communication options Emergency medicinePrimary readingSecond opinionReferralModality to viewerPPDCM, GTWAYPPDCM, GTWAYEMLEMLPACS to viewerPPDCM, GTWAYPPDCM, GTWAYEMLEMLPACS worklistPPPPPP  Multiple PACSPPPPPP  PACS Web serverWEB, GTWAYWEB, GTWAY  EMR accessWEB, GTWAY WEB, GTWAY, RSTFWEB, GTWAY, RSTFCloud sharing  GTWAY, EML, RSTFGTWAY, EML, RSTFHIE sharing  XDS-I, RSTFXDS-I, RSTFPHR sharing  XPHRXPHRCD exchange SNKRSNKRSNKRSocial media  INT 


Some of the architectures and connections as described above are very mature, while others are very young. Teleradiology was implemented widely during the 1990s, but some of these methods such as cloud services, the XDS protocol, and Restful Services are still very much in their infancy.


There are many reasons for image exchange and several different architectures and implementations with different communication mechanisms. Both the industry and provider community are trying to figure out how and what to do, knowing that many of the solutions are still in the early phases of the technology hype cycle. Time will tell which method and protocol will prevail, but, as with any technology, there will always be other technologies pushing the curve. That makes this field so interesting and never boring.


Herman Oosterwijk is president of OTech, a healthcare imaging and IT company specializing in EMR, PACS, DICOM, and HL7 training.

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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 | Scoop.it

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

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What will it take to get consumers to finally use patient portals?

The concept of the patient portal makes sense in theory: Give people a means of accessing their health information electronically, enabling them to stay on top of things like medications and appointments, health history and chart information. 

In practice, however, patient portals can be problematic, with some of the peskier issues revolving around privacy and usability.

WHY IT MATTERS

Patient portals have evolved over time, transitioning from simple logins to a health system's data to mobile apps that provide access to those systems.

Several companies have tried to make a run at creating a portal that establishes an industry standard, a model for all others to follow. But those efforts, from giants like Google and Apple, have met with only varying levels of success.

According to Stephen Dart, senior director of product management at AdvancedMD, one of the issues is that there isn't a universal privacy standard. In some states, the default is that a patient's data is shareable and the patient has to actively opt out; in other states, that dynamic is reversed.

When it comes to certain online activities, like paying bills, there are standard ways of doing things. Not so in healthcare.

"Since there's no standard paradigm people are familiar with, every device, every technology handles this process very differently," said Dart.

One possible way to address this? Look to social media.

"If you think about social media, a Facebook or an Instagram, there are paradigms they use that are ubiquitous in society," said Dart. "Just because there's adoption of these platforms, they have become standards by their very nature. Those paradigms are something people are familiar with.

"So one of the things I think could really help is to almost take a social media platform type of approach to the user experience. You would manage your data in a way similar to those platforms."

That can't truly be achieved, though, without changes to the regulator picture. Due in part to Meaningful Use, vendors often spend inordinate amounts of money chasing and reporting data in the interest of value-based care. 

Because of that, when a firm has fixed budgetary resources, and a significant portion of it goes to something that has specious value, it causes what Dart calls a "brain drain" on the opportunities to improve care.

THE BIGGER TREND

By empowering patients to become involved in their own care, it creates an untapped window into the nation's healthcare system that doesn't exist today. If 10,000 people are using a platform to talk about what works for them and what doesn't work for them, it creates a knowledge base that a family physician would never be able to tap into. And it wouldn't cost the healthcare system a nickel, said Dart.

The promise of the social media approach is that it leverages insight into the psychology of human behavior. Dart offered the following example: Let's say Sally picks up her smartphone in the morning and checks out her weather and news feed. At the bottom of the feed, integrated along with all of the other information, are three journal articles about diabetes in the aging population. Sally reads these items and says to herself, "Oh, if I work out 20 minutes a day I can better deal with these diabetes symptoms."

Because that information is streamlined into the data she tracks daily, that diabetes management strategy becomes a part of her daily routine. The technology has used information in a way that improves health and cuts down on unnecessary utilization, and does so in a way that harnesses the power of community.

That's something that's largely lacking among today's patient portals, said Dart. Portals today are often cumbersome and rife with friction.

"That friction that exists today is part of the problem," said Dart. "Say a patient goes to a portal, but they don't have an account yet. So they have to go through the registration process, log in, look at their lab results, then they don't go back in for six months or a year, or until something happens.

"Then they go in again, and they forgot their password, or the password has expired, so now you've got to answer the security question. They eventually give up and don't even look at their lab results."

It's a scenario that needs to change, he said, and a universal, social media modeled approach to patient portals has the potential to move the needle. What's more, Dart expects it's going to happen within the next 5 to 10 years -- but not within healthcare. He expects a company like Amazon or Apple, or perhaps even a startup, to figure out how to bring all of the pieces together.

"Ultimately it still always boils down to money in healthcare," said Dart, "but the revenue opportunities to engage hundreds of millions of people is going to be too rich to be ignored."

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Healthcare Marketing Disruption in the Modern Age

Healthcare Marketing Disruption in the Modern Age | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

As we all sail in the same boat named healthcare, doctors are the most important audience in our industry. We focus on niche markets and therapeutic areas, which makes us very difficult to connect to the perfect audience.

For more than a decade, the Indian healthcare industry is continually undergoing the transformation phase. There is widespread scepticism about the intent of the industry and concern for the vulnerability of doctors in the relationship. Unfortunately, the debate on how to move this relationship forward has become polarized: industry argues that collaboration with physicians is essential to scientific advancement, but at the same time many doctors are pledging to cut all their ties with the healthcare industry, which brings our business to a crossroad of sorts.

 
Traditionally, the healthcare companies used to connect with doctors through sales representatives. But, now there are so many new laws and regulations that are emerging in many states, and the sales representative needs to be familiar with the laws and regulations in each state. Hence, it is been observed that the traditional way of marketing through sales representatives is fading away and the time has come for the healthcare industry to re-tool their marketing efforts.

Online communication

Although, Social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter allow doctors to organize personal and professional online communities for collaboration. But, there is always a gap between the medical fraternity and these so-called Social networks, as they are not able to deliver on the needs of the doctors at the right time. And time, as you know, is indispensable for every doctor.

So, the hospitals and health care systems are trying to adopt a completely new model of healthcare marketing, so as to emulate other disruptive businesses. These new models are backed by technological advancements and are being professionally customized for doctors by innovative health tech start-ups. The technology is streamlining the healthcare processes and addressing the conventional challenges. From storing patients’ records on the cloud to bringing new applications to widen the reach to challenging communities, the healthcare sector is revolutionizing.

Characterised as ‘The third wave’ by Alvin Toffler, a writer, futurist, and businessman said, the internet technology has the potential to change the way of man and society beyond the wildest of imagination.

Technology and The Indian Healthcare System

Undoubtedly, technology is contributing immensely to transform the Indian healthcare sector. The rise in the rate of technology adoption is creating a huge opportunity in the sector to make health care needs affordable and accessible in Tier – II & III cities.  The new technologies have helped the healthcare industries to look beyond the metros of India and explore the untapped market, breaking the geographical bias.

According to the estimates, the Indian Healthcare market in India is expected to grow from USD 100 billion in 2016 to USD 280 billion by 2020. Today, the healthcare sector is not what it used to be in terms of reach and improved treatments. Additionally, the boost in the Indian startup ecosystem operating in the health-tech space is creating more opportunities and hence redefining how the healthcare industry works.

Simplifying Healthcare

With the surge in serious lifestyle diseases and rising population, the burden of simplifying healthcare processes is increasing on healthcare institutions, hospitals, organizations and government. Therefore, they are looking to adopt innovative ways to manage the Healthcare setting effectively. Technology is streamlining the healthcare processes and addressing conventional challenges. From storing patients’ records on the cloud to bringing new applications to widen the reach to challenging communities, the healthcare sector is slowly but sure facing the winds of change.

An increasing number of start-ups are using technology in different ways to create holistic platforms to the doctors and healthcare professionals which bridges the gap in the healthcare system by providing the medical fraternity with an equal footing. Whether it is about the improved care delivery or expansion of multi-specialities, these new technologies in healthcare are taking the industry higher.

A few stalwarts in the digital space which not only is providing a coordinated care to patients by keeping doctors abreast of the latest medical advancements,  but also provides them access to all the stakeholders in the healthcare industry. With a sudden push towards digital frameworks, the time is certainly right for the healthcare industry to undergo its long overdue digital revolution.

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Marketing for Doctors: How to Create an Effective Strategy

Marketing for Doctors: How to Create an Effective Strategy | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

You’re being watched, doctor. Or at any rate, you’re being Googled, which makes marketing for doctors critical. Especially if you’re providing elective procedures. Don’t you want to rank highly in the results? 

According to Tim Sawyer, president of Crystal Clear Digital Marketing, 80 percent of all patients considering an elective procedure will begin their search on the internet. In a previous post, Sawyer explained which doctors should be marketing their practices. If you’re one of them, here’s a four-step strategy on how to get your marketing up to speed.

Step 1

“Search engine optimization. It all starts with that,” Sawyer says. Begin by creating a blogging strategy on topics that are germane to your practice. All content should be unique and blog posts should be about 750 words, he says.

Start by identifying your top-five treatments and procedures. Once every five weeks, write a 750 word blog post about one of those treatments. After you’ve written 10 posts, you’ll see results, Sawyer says.

“You will absolutely rank for those procedures in your town on the first page of Google.” Caveat: It will take longer if you’re in a more competitive market trying to sell a more competitive procedure. Think, “botox Beverly Hills,” for example.

Step 2

Your plan should also incorporate an email marketing component, Sawyer says. You’ll want to reach out to your entire patient database monthly. Keep them updated about recent events at your practice, as well as specific treatments.

The key to being effective here, Sawyer says, is being consistent with your schedule and frequency because you are training your audience to expect your content. “If you stick with it for three to six months, you will absolutely see your open rates and click-through rates improve. But once you start, you cannot stop.”

Pro tip: Shoot a cute happy birthday video that you can send to patients on their birthdays. You can do the same for holidays.

Step 3

Social media should also feature heavily into your marketing plan. Sawyer delivered many pearls of wisdom on the topic here. In this interview, he underscored that your social media strategy should overlap with your other marketing strategies, covering the same topics and promoting the same services. “It’s not about one component of your plan. It’s about understanding that you need to have a fully integrative solution that incorporates best practices in each of those specific areas.”

Step 4

“You can’t ignore the importance of video,” Sawyer says. And many doctors, he adds, are reluctant to devote time to filming. Set aside 30 minutes monthly to shooting videos to promote the same procedures you’ve identified in your blogging strategies. In 30 minutes, you can develop 10 weeks of three-minute videos.

He adds that many doctors, especially surgeons, are beginning to successfully implement HIPAA-compliant live streaming video of their procedures and are reaping the benefits. Sawyer says this is a great lead generator. Potential patients can get familiar with you, while reducing fear of the unknown, especially for surgeries.

“Patients can visualize the practice. They can visualize the operating room. They can visualize the surgeon themself.”

TL;DR

There are four components of successful practice marketing:

  1. Blog: Write a 750 word blog post on one of your top procedures once every five weeks.
  2. Email marketing: Email your entire practice database monthly about new procedures and staff updates.
  3. Social media: Create a strategy that supports the rest of your marketing efforts. More details here.
  4. Video: Create three-minute videos that discuss your top procedures.
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Pharma Marketers Capitalize on Social Media Buzz 

Pharma Marketers Capitalize on Social Media Buzz  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Pharma companies targeting doctors and other healthcare professionals are opening up now, more than ever before, to the possibilities of social media groups in helping them spread their reach, brand and product among their target professionals including doctors and healthcare personnel.

Media, other than the online one can hardly make a dent in the pharmaceutical industry's earnings. Online marketing has opened new doors for the pharma industry to garner clients, nurture and retain them.

The usage of social media sites or user generated content (UGC), such as blogs, podcasts, tagging, ratings, videos and photos has grown exponentially according to Jupiter Research, a leading authority on the impact of the Internet and emerging consumer technologies on business . Social media like 'digg', 'facebook', Del.icio.us, etc have become 'the' platform for community members to express their concerns, ask questions about drugs, diseases, diagnosis, interact with doctors online, rate the answers received or the efficiency of drugs, and so on.

Research indicates that more and more doctors are 'online with patients' and provide consistent support and advise from remote location of their residences or offices. Physicians and seekers of medical information are increasingly behaving internet-savvy and potentially spreading the company's profile by word-of-mouth and online in equal measure. Over 75% adult consumers surveyed online and 92% youth disclosed that they regularly use at least one kind of UGC information.

Since over 75% online community members regularly share online health information with others, it becomes even more imperative for pharma companies to tap into the huge potential to market and position itself among its demographic. The inherent craving for 'human' interaction drives most people who are online to seek-out others who share their passion, concerns or problems.

Numbers indicate that the spurt in popularity of social media sites and proper leveraging of their potential by the pharma industry can more than meet their business goals, rather create a benchmark for their future marketing approaches.

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A shifting axis – Social media in the healthcare industry –

A shifting axis – Social media in the healthcare industry – | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Anyone would be hard-pressed to find an industry today that has not been impacted by the rise of social media. There have been a great many successful technological advancements and developments that have revolutionized the world in one way or another, but not many of them have impacted practically every aspect and industry of modern life. It takes a truly astounding feat of technology to work that kind of magic. And yet, social media has done it. Its initial use was to provide connectivity across vast oceans and time zones. Now, however, social media has evolved to branch out, maintaining its core value of connectivity and using that value to extend its reaches, becoming at once a network of connectivity platforms as well as being a marketing platform, an advice platform, and a virtual world-renowned system of consumption and travel. Healthcare companies (like Vital Nutrients) as well as healthcare professionals (like physicians, surgeons, and other medical professionals) are realizing the value of social media as a marketing tool for the industry.

For years, social media has steadily built a reputation around being the ultimate gateway for international communication. Gone are the days that individuals used to have to rely on handwritten letters and weeks – sometimes months – of waiting before the response arrived back in their hands. These days, all it takes is a message on a mobile phone, the click of a single button, and the person on the other end of the message stream gets an instantaneous message. It is a miraculous feat of technological advancement, and it is one that has been taking the world by storm ever since.

Every industry in current existence operates using social media in some form: businesses use it as the modern marketing giant to elevate their exposure, artists and musicians use it to connect with their fans and increase their audience on a potentially global scale, education uses it as a support system for students and educators, alike, and so on and so forth. Healthcare is one of the most significantly affected industries of them all. Social media is now largely hailed as the future of healthcare. There are a few reasons for that.

More than anything else, social media is important to the future of the healthcare sector because it is the most globally-renowned way for support and utilization for the youngest generations (and, consequently, future generations as well). Millennials are already proving that they rely on social media to take care of most aspects of their lives. For example, up to 93% of millennials, while decidedly focused on achieving a healthy lifestyle, also admit that they do not go out of their way to schedule appointments with healthcare professionals.

Instead, they take to social media to send private messages to their friends or even to post public status’ asking if any of their connections experience similar (or the exact same) symptoms, and what they did when it occurred. Millennials are just the first of a technologically-efficient batch of future generations, and they are the perfect example of why social media works for healthcare; if young people are going to take to social media platforms to take care of their ailments and symptoms, then the industry itself should embrace the system that is steadily moving into consistent (if not constant) play.

Thankfully, the industry itself is embracing social media. Healthcare providers now use social media as a research tool. As many as 88% of physicians and other healthcare professionals use social media to research medical devices, healthcare information, and biotech data. Medical professionals (not unlike the professionals of other fields) use social media as a mean of exploration not only of the latest in the medical field and patient base, but as a way to connect with their fellow practitioners.

The tides have turned, and the health industry has found itself in a position of transition, teetering awkwardly but certainly between the traditions of the past and the modernization of the future. Along with the rest of the world, the healthcare sector has been forced into a position of gradual realization. This realization means that the industry is openly embracing new concepts and methods of technological advancement – social media included – that can make the healthcare industry more convenient and easy to access for patients, and more wholesome and communicative for healthcare professionals. This is a truly unique time to be involved in healthcare, and it is one that is ripe with good intention and revolutionary ideas. The sole aim of the technology behind social media is to make all it disrupts more capable, more reliable, more efficient.

Since the dawn of its inception, social media has consistently proven its value as a tool for both social connection and industry realization and adaption. The healthcare industry in particular has not only taken note of the potential that social media holds to strengthen and expand the sector, but it has finally begun to embrace it and run with it. The healthcare industry is being revolutionized by social media, allowing it to take hold and bring the industry to new heights. Through social media, both patients and medical professionals can use social connectivity platforms to embolden their positions, to make things infinitely more convenient, and to allow a more solid foundation for the industry’s future.

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Facebook's Head of Health Wants Medical Researchers to Utilize Patient's Social Life Data

Facebook's Head of Health Wants Medical Researchers to Utilize Patient's Social Life Data | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Facebook’s head of health research has argued that doctors need information patient’s social lives. In a conference on Wednesday, Dr. Freddy Abnousi spoke about the lack of data in this regard.

“The primary driver of health outcomes in the United States are social and behavioral variables,” he said at the Manoca Summit in Minneapolis. “Really understanding what these social determinants of health care should be our primary area of focus.”
Abnousi didn’t outright say it, but the implication is that hospitals could share data with it or vice versa. In fact, Abnousi led a secret research project with that exact goal earlier in the year. He sought anonymized patient data from hospitals to match with social media users via hashing.

However, the project was put on hold before any deals were signed. Facebook came under huge scrutiny after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and would have struggled to argue that it could keep such data safe.

An Unnecessary Solution?

Abnousi seems passionate about this despite the recent compromise of up to 50 million Facebook accounts. However, some professionals are skeptical about how much use the social media would be.

Facebook’s previous approach was to work with medical groups to share the data of their most vulnerable patients.

 

“There are more humanistic and reliable ways to acquire this information,” said Dan Gebremedhin, physician and a health investor at Flare Capital Partners, at the time.  “How about asking the patient, their healthcare proxy, or the primary care provider? Given the variability in user activity on Facebook, I’m not sure that this information would be correlated and accurate at the patient level.”

There are some concerns that the company wants to utilize such data to deliver things such as medical ads. However, even without that, it’s unclear how anonymous the data would be.

A previous study of ‘anonymous’ Washing State healthcare data found that it could be correlated with newspaper stories. This netted a correct identification 43% of the time. It’s not hard to imagine why users wouldn’t trust a company that has leaked their data several times.

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Texting Etiquette 101: Messaging Patients Without Ticking Them Off

Texting Etiquette 101: Messaging Patients Without Ticking Them Off | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it
Texting is a wonderful way to communicate with patients, but despite the seemingly informal medium, it's important that you operate with some decorum.

People love texting. It's the most popular communication method in the United States. But that doesn't mean people are open to all kinds of texting.

It's a convenient way to message people, but you still need to be mindful. The goal of texting patients is to make their lives easier, not to frustrate them.

With that, here are a few ways you can message patients without ticking them off.
Get Consent
Tempting as it may be, you can't go texting patients whenever you feel like it. There are laws against this type of behavior.

No, seriously, there's a law to prevent unauthorized texting. You cannot text patients any marketing or billing messages without written consent.

Healthcare information, on the other hand, is quite okay — you do not, legally, need consent to send, say, an appointment reminder.

However, it's best to gain consent for all your messaging. Remember, the goal here is to communicate with patients in a way that won't tick them off. And, even if it's legal, some folks just don't to be texted.
Timing is Everything
Much like every other facet of life, when it comes to texting with patients, timing is everything.

Be mindful of when you send your text messages. Some patients may enjoy receiving a notification at 9 p.m., while others may wonder why on Earth their dentist, of all people, is chirping them after sundown.

A best practice for texting patients is to keep it within working hours. You wouldn't call a person late at night, after your practice was closed, so why text them?

One area where you can waver is day-of appointment reminders. There's often little harm in setting a text reminder for 7 or 8 a.m. on the day a patient needs to come in. They'll appreciate that little reminder before setting out on the busy day ahead.
K.I.S.S.
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MGMA18: What every doctor needs to know about social media, according to ‘KevinMD’ 

MGMA18: What every doctor needs to know about social media, according to ‘KevinMD’  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Kevin Pho, M.D., is an internal medicine physician. But he’s probably best known as “KevinMD,” the doctor who is the founder and editor of the website that bills itself as “social media’s leading physician voice.”

His website, KevinMD.com, provides a forum for thousands of physicians to write about topics that range from how to achieve financial success, to the lessons learned from dying patients to surviving a medical liability lawsuit.

 

“One reason why I became a doctor was to give patients a voice—a voice when they are at their most vulnerable. Clinicians also needed a voice and that’s one of the reasons why I started KevinMD. I wanted to be their voice," said Pho, who advised doctors and practice managers on how to harness social media to help transform healthcare at the Medical Group Management Association annual conference in Boston last week. 

 
 
Social media provides doctors with a way to connect with patients and to be heard, said Pho, who practices in Nashua, New Hampshire, and has over 140,000 people subscribed to his email alerts that direct them to the site’s latest content.
 
 

His social media journey began in 2004 when his brother-in-law commented that he had lots of opinions and told him he should start a blog. “I had no idea what a blog was,” Pho said. “Honestly, I wasn’t sure where this was going to go or how long this was going to share.”

It was when he wrote about the recall of the drug Vioxx over safety concerns and reassured patients there were other options that he said he realized the tremendous potential of social media to connect with patients. Yet lots of doctors are reluctant to jump into the social media pool, he said.

They are skeptical, say they don’t have the time and don’t see how it will make a difference. But today, not having an online presence isn’t an option, he said, citing three ways social media can benefit practices.

Among them:

Social media can strengthen the clinician-patient relationship. Seven out of 10 internet users use the web to look for healthcare information, Pho said. With 72% of people looking online for health information, the problem is “fake news” or unreliable information.

“Fake news is not only a problem in politics; misinformation online is a problem in healthcare,” he says. For instance, parents who look for information about infant sleep will find that fewer than half of the websites are accurate.

 

Doctors can be a filter for all that information for their patients and use social media to educate them, he said. For instance, California pediatrician Robert Hamilton, M.D., has a YouTube video on how to calm a crying baby that’s been viewed over 1.8 million times. An orthopedic surgeon in New York City, Howard Luks, M.D., answers patients’ common questions on his website.

Social media can define an online reputation. Social media is also a powerful way to define your online reputation, Pho said. 

More than 40% of people look online for information about physicians. Clinicians should Google themselves once a week and see what comes up because that is what patients are doing, he said.

RELATED: 5 influential ER docs on Twitter—A scientific approach

On third-party review sites, patients are rating doctors just as they rate books, movies, hotels and restaurants. By creating content online, through social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter, doctors can help control what patients will see. One-third of patients will click on the first result in a search, and fewer than 10% of people will read the second page of results.

Whenever he coaches clinicians, Pho said he advises them to be aware of their privacy settings on social media accounts and use the maximum settings.

Clinicians should create a bio and post a high-resolution photo that will come up in a search. Create a professional presence on a site such as LinkedIn or Doximity, the social media site for physicians. Take a few hours to do that and then stop. You can take an incremental and cautious approach as you start to use social media.

There is a return on investment with social media, he said. “Finding and connecting with new patients is by far the most powerful and direct one.”

RELATED: Hospital Impact—To improve patient engagement, leverage the power of digital content

Social media can make doctors’ voices heard. There are stories doctors and other clinicians need to share, Pho said. Those stories can make people realize that doctors are human, too. For instance, a doctor may write about the challenges of being a physician and raising a family. Clinicians may write about burnout and depression and let other healthcare professionals know they are not alone.

Humanizing healthcare professionals and making their voices heard “has emerged as my primary social media goal. KevinMD is now a prominent, public platform,” he said. “I’ve shared hundreds of these stories.”

“The biggest risk of social media is not using it all in healthcare,” he said. “It’s an opportunity we cannot miss.”

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How Nurses Can Prevent Social Media Mishaps Blog

How Nurses Can Prevent Social Media Mishaps Blog | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

A Houston nurse was fired after allegedly violating HIPAA laws by posting about a patient with measles in an anti-vaccination Facebook group, reports the Dallas News.

While it may seem obvious that nurses should be savvy about patient privacy and social media use, this incident—as well as others—illustrate that more education is needed.

“Nurses need to be aware of the professional reputation they’re creating for themselves and how they’re using online tools,” says Robert Fraser, MN, RN, a primary care nurse, author, and digital health strategist from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. “Social media does provide new opportunities and new ways of approaching how we communicate, but nurses need to reflect on their professional identity and their professional expectations within the workplace.”

 

Reviewing hospital policies with their staff is one step nurse leaders can take to help prevent these types of incidents.

“What I encourage organizations to do is a) make sure they have a policy and b) that it’s something they revisit over time,” Fraser advises.

Some expectations, such as privacy rules including HIPAA, may already exist within other policies.

Fraser says there is a hierarchy of professional practice obligations and social media connects with all of them.

The highest level of the hierarchy pertains to laws, such as HIPAA, or other federal privacy legislation.

Before a nurse decides to post something on a social media channel, he or she should think about how that tool ties into professional practice.

 

Rather than restricting employees’ access to social media while they are in the facility (as some organizations do) nurse leaders can model positive use of these tools.

For example, Fraser knows of a hospital that has used Facebook as an additional way of communicating information posted on the intranet or by email. They have also shared photos of nurses (taken with permission and without sharing identifying patient information) to highlight the work staff is doing.

“They were encouraging nurses to follow so that when they were looking at news updates and seeing what might be going on in their social world, they may also be able to engage around the positive professional behaviors that the organization wanted to endorse,” he says.

 
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Physicians Building a Community Through Social Media

Physicians Building a Community Through Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Doctors can use blogs and other digital outlets to educate patients, build online reputations and, perhaps most importantly, have an outlet for their opinions. 

In 2004, an interaction with a patient changed the way Kevin Pho, MD, thought about social media

Pho’s patient told him how she was comforted by a post on his blog, KevinMD, that outlined alternatives to a medication that recently had been recalled. 

Kevin Pho

“That was really my lightbulb moment, where I can use these media tools to really connect with patients outside of the exam room,” says Pho, an internal medicine physician who has practiced in New Hampshire for the past 15 years.

In the time since that interaction, his website has become a respected social media platform for health care professionals. It has been recognized by major news organizations, including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. 

Pho receives between 20 and 30 unsolicited daily submissions — contributions from physicians, nurses, medical students and patients — and he has published work from more than 2,000 people. Many of contributions focus on seldom-discussed topics that are common in physician experiences but are typically out of public view, such as physician burnout and assisted suicide. 

RELATED: Doctors Need to Stay in Line When Going Online

“I like to share these stories all in one forum and really open up the discussion because, in health care, there are very few issues that everyone agrees on,” Pho says. “I think that using my site as a springboard for both patients and physicians to tell the stories that really open up a discussion and hopefully helps bring everyone together.” 

In Pho’s opinion, there are three major reasons why physicians are motivated to contribute to blogs and other forms of social media: to educate their patients, build their online reputations, and have an outlet for their opinions. 

What: National Health IT Week

When: Oct. 8-12.

About: An awareness week focusing on the value of technology in health care.

Online: healthitweek.org.

The last point, Pho says, is crucial to the representation of physicians overall. 

“A lot of the health care reform topics, the decisions are being made by nonphysicians,” he says. “But I think it’s important for physicians to have their voice and contribute to the health care conversation.” 

While some physicians prefer sharing their voices through well-established sites such as KevinMD, others start by creating their own blogs. One neurologist of 20 years started his blog, Doctor Grumpy in the House, as a way to share the stories he was saving to include in his book. 

“But, as many find out, you don't have time for that,” he says. “So, in 2008, I started this blog to share the stories, and the blog is my book.” 

The physician, who blogs under the pseudonym Ibee Grumpy, MD, says he has maintained his blog because, more than anything else, it is a fun and cathartic hobby.  

RELATED: Five Ways to Promote Your HCO and Reach Potential Patients

“The ad revenue isn't worth the time, maybe $100 a month, so I'm not doing this to get rich,” he says. “I think, like many bloggers, you keep hoping you'll get a big break and become famous and have millions of readers so that you can cut back on the real job hours somewhat, but realistically that really doesn't happen much. After eight years, it's mostly just for the fun of it.” 

He says the biggest challenge of keeping a blog is finding the time to write posts. Second is deciding what to write about. Though his blog is known for its humorous nature, Grumpy says his favorite stories are the ones that are a bit more serious, such as his 2011 post about his first malpractice suit. 

“Getting sued is like cancer — something that happens to other people,” he wrote. “I think all doctors, on a superficial level, know it will likely happen. But you're still blindsided when it happens to you.” 

Jeff Barson, an entrepreneur who has helped establish such medical websites as Uncommon Student MD and Medical Spa MD, believes it is important for physicians to use social media as a way to discuss the issues that matter most to them. 

Barson regularly accepts contributions from physicians and other medical professionals for his websites. In his experience, many physicians are interested in having their voices heard but are unsure of how strongly they can voice their opinions. 

RELATED: Unfavorable Online Reviews a Challenge for Many Physicians

“If you are trying to please everybody, it can be pretty bland,” he says. 

“What generates the most interest is not actually brain surgery — it’s if you are actually interesting,” Barson says. “If you are writing interesting stuff, people will be interested in it. What I tell physicians is, you should be writing the stuff that you want to read.” 

But for some, blogging is less about engaging their audience and more about expressing themselves — a kind of therapy to vent stress and build a community of like-minded followers. For Pho, blogging has always been a way to avoid burnout. 

“I think one way to combat physician burnout is to have a passion outside of clinical medicine,” he says. “Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy seeing patients, of course. I still see patients four days a week. But I think if I saw patients every day, every 15 minutes, dealing with mountains of bureaucratic paperwork, I’d probably get burnt out, too. And let’s face it, patients need more than a frustrated doctor.” 

Pho says many of his contributors use blogging for the same purpose: to connect with others about the challenges of practicing medicine. 

“If you look at some of the recent statistics, about half of doctors are experiencing burnout today,” Pho says. “I’ve shared hundreds of these stories on my site, and they all say how valuable it is to have that platform where they can share stories with each other and let each other know that they are in the same boat. I think it’s tremendously important to let burnt-out doctors know that they are not suffering in silence.” 

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National Health IT Week 2018: Here’s what was said on social media

National Health IT Week 2018 happened around the country and, as usual, plenty of conversation took place in face-to-face events, inside the Beltway, at state capitals and, of course, on social media.

HIMSS Senior Director of Congressional Affairs Samantha Burch explained that 2018 is a transformative year for NHITWeek because the purpose has shifted from proving the value of health technologies to demonstrating the achievements and successes.  

While that may be somewhat different from last year, one aspect did not change: Healthcare is a human story. That plays out each NHITWeek and 2018 was no exception.

Rasu Shrestha MD MBA@RasuShrestha
 
 

It's the real stories behind #HealthIT that make our collective efforts come to life.

Read these here, and stay inspired:

https://www.healthitweek.org/ihearthit?mb=1 #IHeartHIT #NHITweek #Aim2Innovate #HCLDR #HDPalooza

This year's themes hit the mark!

 
Brian Eastwood@Brian_Eastwood
 
 

Why do #IHeartHIT? There's so much potential to change the lives of clinical staff and patients - and so many ppl working to solve the challenges that stand in the way.

Also (in a nod to the Southern accents I've been hearing this week) y'all are awesome.#NHITWeek

 
HIMSS@HIMSS
 
 

Powerful stories humanize health information and technology, inspiring us to innovate. What keeps you motivated to help move health IT forward? #IHeartHIT #NHITweek

 
Pew Health
 
@pewhealth
 
 

Up to 1 in 5 patient records may not be accurately matched within the same health care system – and that’s a problem for patient care. Learn more: https://pew.org/2pP7hWZ  #NHITWeek

 
 
Nordic@nordicwi
 
 

Echoing the sentiments of Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, and Smash Mouth, we could all use a little change. That’s the theme of #NHITWeek. Learn how Lauren is working to change EHR education and support for the better. #IHeartHIT

 
Carla Smith@CarlaMSmith
 
 

When it's your mom, getting the right care at the right time becomes very personal: http://ow.ly/sa0d30lW89C  #NHITWeek #IHeartHIT

How My Mom’s Health Story Gave New Meaning to Interoperability #IHeartHIT | HIMSS

A story of how a health IT professional discoverd the true impact of interoperability while caring for his mother.

himss.org
 
Rasu Shrestha MD MBA@RasuShrestha
 
 

Empathy is the heartbeat of healthcare. When you combine that with curiosity, you get to innovation.@TToddDunn of @Intermountain at @HealthLeaders Innovation Summit. #pinksocks #hcldr #innovation #NHITWeek

 
Lewis Levy, MD, FACP@lewismlevy
 
 

Location, language & luck....no longer factors to seeking quality care when traveling abroad.
We make purchases, bank & connect to each other w/confidence from around the globe.
Now we can access quality healthcare from anywhere.
As it should be. #virtualcare #IheartHIT #NHITWeek

 

That’s really just a taste of all the #IHeartHIT stories told during this National Health Week and year’s past. Read them all here.

The power of technology to improve people’s lives was front-and-center this week and it shared some of the spotlight with social determinants of health.

Bernard J.Tyson, CEO
 
@BernardJTyson
 
 

Everyone can make a difference. More than 1,000 @KPShare IT employees across the country volunteered 4,100 hours planting gardens, cooking/serving meals, sorting food bank produce and more to bring healthy food and nutrition to our communities.#NHITweek

 
Linda Stotsky@EMRAnswers
 
 

I’ve worked in #healthcare for over 25 years, but it was when I entered #HealthIT that I found my passion. The ability to improve outcomes by combining IT systems & services w/ communication processes, still amazes & motivates me EVERY day. #NHITWeek

 
Mercy Technology Services@MercyTechnology
 
 

“Why do I love Health IT? We can use analytics to help doctors make data-driven decisions that improve patient care. With natural language processing, we can pull usable data from doctors’ notes, which make up some 80% of info in patient records.” –Kerry Bommarito, MTS #NHITweek

 

As noted above, NHITWeek is also a time to demonstrate already-won success stories of using information and technology.

 
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The evolving role of social media in health-care delivery: measuring the perception of health-care professionals in Eastern Saudi Arabia

The evolving role of social media in health-care delivery: measuring the perception of health-care professionals in Eastern Saudi Arabia | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Purpose

The objective of this study is to evaluate the perception of health-care professionals in Saudi Arabia toward the usages of social media in health-care delivery.

Methods

In this cross-sectional study, an online-based questionnaire was distributed among the health-care professionals residing in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia. Their perception toward the uses of social media in health-care service delivery was evaluated by analyzing their attitude toward its benefits and risks involved.

Results

The sample size was 120 participants, and 80% of them agreed with the benefits of using social networks in health-care services and considered that the use of these technologies in the provision of health services improves their professional knowledge and is a suitable tool for patient education and public health awareness. However, some respondents (20%) believed that there are several risks associated with the use of social media, such as ethical or legal challenges, the risk to the patient’s health status, or the breaching of the privacy and confidentiality of the patient.

Conclusion

The results of this research indicate that social media can be a useful tool by which physicians may promote their services and publish general health information. However, there are potential problems in the use of social networks that can have negative consequences for patients and HCPs. This implies that precautions must be taken to avoid ruptures of patient privacy and other risks that can result in legal action against health professionals damaging their image and professional status. The study also found that the participants are willing to use social media for professional purposes.

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Top 8 Digital Transformation Trends in Healthcare Industry for 2018

Top 8 Digital Transformation Trends in Healthcare Industry for 2018 | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Just like various other industries, driven by the need for better customer experience, digital healthcare trends are now commonplace. Nations across the world are relentlessly engaged in the process of propagating digital innovation in healthcare services in their respective countries to achieve greater life expectancy. Developing compulsive healthcare digital strategy, needless to say, has become the new mantra of the healthcare sector.

If we talk about digital technology in healthcare industry, we must first understand what it’s all about and how it is disrupting the healthcare scenario. What should primarily be understood is that digital healthcare is not only about adopting newer technologies but also involves revamping the processes for improving the deliverables as well as increasing the efficiency. The salvo of digital innovation in healthcare has triggered a tectonic shift even compelling insurance companies to change their approach from volumes to value of care by initiating out-of-the-box health insurance digital transformation projects.

Digital technology in healthcare industry is fast proving to be a game changer by extensive deployment of automation and AI. A fine example of that would be the introduction of chatbots to replace humans, thus cutting costs and removing the need for visiting a doctor in cases where only self-care is required.

However, having said that, despite the digital technology rapidly spreading its clout, even today healthcare lags far behind other industries like retail and travel in achieving customer-centricity. It may sound surprising to many, but the United States of America, a country which has the costliest healthcare system in the world, touching almost 20 per cent of the country’s GDP, was ranked the worst among industrialized nations in efficiency, equity and outcomes by the Commonwealth Fund Survey. The findings of the survey were based on data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Health Organization and interviews from physicians and patients. While the United Kingdom ranked best, Switzerland finished a close second. So, it can be easily ascertained that while there are limitless opportunities for implementation of digital technology in healthcare there is no dearth of bottlenecks either.

Although the healthcare sector has traditionally been a slow adopter of digital technology, significant changes are expected to take place in the digital healthcare industry over the next few years. It is estimated that the digital healthcare market will touch $206 billion by 2020. A recent study conducted by SAP and Oxford Economics concluded that while 70% healthcare companies are planning to digitalize operations, another 61% feel that digital transformation will increase patient satisfaction.

Let’s take a closer look at 8 Emerging Trends in Digital Healthcare Industry in 2018:

Trend #1: Telemedicine is Fast Becoming a Necessity Especially for Countries Having Large Populations

Perhaps the most apparent digital healthcare trend to have emerged in 2018 is the evolution of telemedicine which has brought about a radical change especially in the US healthcare system. When it comes to large countries like India or the United States where access to providers is limited, telemedicine plays a vital role. If we specifically take the example of the United States of America, according to the 2017 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times and Medicaid Acceptance Rates, even in urban areas, the patient wait times have increased from 18.5 to 24 days since 2014. In such a scenario, telemedicine is turning out to be an all important tool which ensures that even patients from rural areas get access to specialists. Availability of patients’ medical records in digital format for specialists to refer to, as and when required, is a major benefit offered by telemedicine. The opportunities for growth of telemedicine in digital healthcare have now become even more limitless with the introduction of wearable devices which enable real-time monitoring of patients without physically admitting them to the hospital. According to London-based global information provider, IHS Markit Ltd, the projected number of telehealth patients is expected to reach 7 million in 2018, up from 1.16 million in 2015.

Trend #2: Make way for the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

Digital healthcare industry is presently witnessing a new revolution with the arrival of Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) – a confluence of IoT, telemedicine and telehealth technologies. This digital healthcare technology takes a whole new approach by employing the use of wearable devices like ECG and EKG monitors. IoMT plays a critical role in preventing chronic illnesses by tracking vital medical stats through various connected devices and mobile apps. Another significant contribution of IoT to digital healthcare has been the introduction of wearable devices like wristbands that help take common medical measurements like heart rate, blood pressure, calorie count, etc. These IoT enabled wearable devices have now become highly popular both among the younger generation as well as old-timers owing to them being affordably priced. According to a research by business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, almost 60% operations in the healthcare field had already adopted IoT or IoMT systems by 2017. The arrival of this digital innovation in healthcare has enhanced both customer experience and profitability. It is expected that by 2020, the number of deployed IoMT devices would be anywhere between 20 and 30 billion. Another research carried out by Allied Market Research has reported that the market for IoT devices in healthcare will touch $136 billion by 2021.

Trend #3: Chatbots Serving as Digital Assistants to Physicians

Just like any other industry, saving costs is a major concern for the healthcare industry as well. Chatbot technology is helping deal with routine medical queries using AI-backed messaging and voice systems in an affordable manner.  The chatbots of today are designed to learn from patient interactions and assume the role of a general practitioner. In fact, some chatbots like Woebot have now also acquired the capabilities of serving as digital therapists. Smart bots serve as digital assistants to physicians in keeping track of contacts and managing appointments with patients. On the other hand, chatbots also make life easier for patients by providing timely prescriptions, conducting lab tests and making the billing procedure uncomplicated. Although the chatbot technology is still in its early phase of development, market research firm Grand View Research has estimated that the global chatbot market will touch $1.23 billion by 2025, a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.3 per cent. In the current digital healthcare industry landscape, healthcare chatbots can be broadly bifurcated into two categories, the first, patient-only apps that help patients track health data; and second, patient-clinician applications which act as a bridge between the two groups to serve the purpose of diagnosis and treatment.    

Trend #4: Growing role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Healthcare

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another nascent digital technology in healthcare which can replicate humans in processing information and decision making. AI has undoubtedly opened new horizons of digital innovation in healthcare by improving the speed and accuracy of diagnosis. Aided by data analytics, physicians can now explore different approaches of treatment. AI enabled body scans can spot chronic diseases like cancer early, thus saving lives and bringing down the mortality rate. Pharmaceutical companies are deploying machine learning algorithms for exploring chemical and biological interactions to develop new drugs, replacing the earlier process of conducting clinical trials, which used to cost billions of dollars and take more than a decade. During the recent Ebola virus outbreak, AI technology was used to scan existing medicines to explore the possibility of reformulating them to find an effective cure against the deadly virus. It has been projected that by 2020, the average spending on artificial intelligence (AI) projects by healthcare provider organizations and technology vendors to healthcare will touch $54 million.

Trend #5: Rapid Acceleration in Adoption of Cloud Services

The primary reason for the rapid adoption of cloud computing by the healthcare sector is that only cloud-based solutions give healthcare providers and patients the required access in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which sets the standards for sensitive patient data protection. In fact, a recent CIF study established that 98% companies have never experienced a breach of security while using a cloud service. The global public cloud market is expected to touch $178 billion, up from $146 billion in 2017, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22 per cent. Experts have predicted that over 50% businesses of the healthcare industry that are on the road to digital transformation will rely on at least one public cloud platform. More than 83% of healthcare enterprises are currently using some form of cloud platform and the trend will continue throughout 2018 with more focus shifting on cloud optimization and ROI.

Trend #6: Big Data Analytics is Redefining the Dynamics of Digital Healthcare Industry

All thanks to the digital innovation in healthcare which has led to more and more healthcare organizations using data to provide tools for seamlessly delivering healthcare services, the big data industry has received a shot in the arm and is expected to reach $102 billion by 2019. Big data, when applied to healthcare can use health data to help prevent epidemics, reduce costs and cure diseases. A unique example of this is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) pilot big data program called BioMosaic which tracks epidemics by merging population data, health statistics and population migration in real time. Even health insurers aren’t too far behind in harnessing the potential of big data as an innovative digital healthcare technology. United Healthcare is already using big data analytics for detecting identity thefts and medical frauds. As the healthcare system expands with the growing population, the role of big data will assume even more significance in improving patient satisfaction by streamlining the workflow.

Trend #7: Focus on Content Marketing for Consumer Engagement

Adopting digital marketing strategies at voluminous scale is another noticeable trend to have made its presence felt in 2018 in the digital healthcare industry. But what forms the crux of any digital marketing strategy is the content. Without engaging content which is tailored to disseminate vital and relevant information to the consumer, it’s almost impossible for any healthcare provider to sustain in a highly competitive market. Content which provides answers rather than raising fresh questions increases engagement and helps convert visitors into existing patients.   

Trend #8: Healthcare Robotics

Last but not the least; robotics has been making steady inroads into the healthcare industry in recent times. Although robots have been part of the healthcare system for over three decades, ranging from small laboratory models to complex ones capable of either performing surgeries autonomously or assisting a human surgeon, the scope for their deployment in medicine has widened only recently. Robots are now also being used for providing aid to people with sensory, cognitive and motor impairments besides supporting caregivers. With almost 20% of the world’s population suffering from some form of impairment, robots are expected to play an even larger role in the years to come. End of life care is another aspect of healthcare which robots are all set to revolutionize. Increasing life expectancy has meant that we now live longer in comparison to the previous generations. Advancements in AI and adopting humanoid design is enabling modern robots to converse and socially interact with humans to rid them of lonliness at the fag end of their lives and helping them remain independent for longer.

Despite the Challenges, Digital Transformation is Here to Stay

Digital transformation is a complicated process especially if we consider a partially holistic and traditional industry like healthcare. While the future of digital technology in healthcare industry is undoubtedly bright, there are certain challenges which need to be overcome. A few key challenges that threaten to derail the process of digital transformation in healthcare include the industry’s resistance to change, apprehensiveness towards the unforeseeable along with meeting ROI and the cost factor which in most cases puts digital transformation projects on the backburner. However, all inhibitions must be shunned before switching over to new technology. A prerequisite to venturing on the path of digital transformation is to change the mindset. There is dire need to come out of the “Why fix it if it ain’t broken?” approach and embrace change with optimism. The need of the hour for the healthcare industry is to stop living in denial as digital transformation is here to stay, period.

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Practices Should Set Rules for Staff Social Media Use

Practices Should Set Rules for Staff Social Media Use | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Medical practices can take steps to avoid problems related to use of social media by staff members, according to an article published in Medical Economics.

Some practices encourage staff members to keep their phones turned off during work hours. Others allow staff smartphones during breaks, but with some guidelines. For example, personal social media accounts must include no protected patient data or other office-related data. A more challenging issue is social media relationships between staff and patients. When these exist, all practice-related communications should flow through normal channels rather than social media.

 

It is more difficult to control staff members' social media behavior outside the office, but rules should still be established. Staff members should not talk about or post photos of patients, co-workers, or employees on social media. However, if a staff member is a friend or relative of a patient, it is acceptable to post pictures showing the patient in an out-of-office setting.

Patient care "is at the center of any medical practice," and anything that distracts from or interrupts that care, such as inappropriate use of social media, should be avoided, Nitin S. Damle, M.D., of South County Internal Medicine in Wakefield, R.I., said in the article.

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Doctors Look To Data To Increase Patient Engagement

Doctors Look To Data To Increase Patient Engagement | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

For many reasons, several of which we’ll discuss here, a patient’s full understanding of, and engagement with,their health care experiences are vital for a positive outcome. And today, we have more options than ever for achieving higher levels of interest, patient engagement, and “buy-in” from health care customers. These include data-rich wearables, telemedicine for housebound patients and electronic health records that follow us around as we switch providers or seek treatment from specialists.

We’re positively swimming in data. But all that noise stands a good chance of confusing or distracting patients from their ultimate goal of ongoing good health if doctors and patients don’t come to the table together with a plan and a common understanding of which data points are meaningful in context and which are not. 

There’s no doubt anymore: Big data is going to revolutionize the way we administer health care throughout the world and help us achieve financial savings. But as doctors look to leverage modern tools for interacting with and sharing patient health data, there are several factors to remember and several key advantages worth checking out. Here’s a rundown.

Data in Long-Term Treatment for Chronic Diseases

Regrettably, we still lack a cure for many chronic diseases. Therefore, doctors and their patients must instead “manage” these conditions. It’s possible to live a full and active life while undergoing treatment for severe diseases and conditions, but only with the right levels of vigilance and engagement. Patients with chronic illnesses must maintain their motivation, their attention to treatment and medication schedules and their general knowledgeability about their condition.

Chronic diseases are particularly well-suited to data-driven treatment because they come with unique challenges:

  • Maintaining a working knowledge of how the condition and treatments are progressing is vital for patients to keep good morale.
  • Lapses in treatment can add to the overall costs of treatment, which is why vigilant adherence to treatment plans, as laid out by doctors and specialists, is so important.
  • Not every chronic condition requires constant trips to the doctor’s office. In many cases, self-management of these cases is possible, and patients can independently administer medicine and engage with their health outcomes without regular trips to a doctor’s office or exam room.

Working together, doctors and patients can use real-time and historical health data to better understand the individual’s holistic health and draw up bespoke treatment plans for their unique circumstances. One part of the equation involves applying predictive models to anticipate future changes or unexpected turns their health condition might take.

 
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How Big Data Can Play An Essential Role In Fintech Evolution
 

For instance, gathering and organizing data from a large number of insured people lets data-driven health care systems and insurers more accurately take into account social and geographical “determinants” for future patient health. This process can help break down a health care system’s roster of patients by risk type — such as proximity to environmental conditions with known connections to patient health.

Plus, not everybody has a history of responding the same way to known pharmaceutical treatments. And not every patient is equally likely to make the lifestyle changes recommended by their doctors. We’ve entered an era in health care where insurers and doctors will eventually begin requiring patients to wear health and fitness monitors as a matter of course. Doing so ensures everybody remains on the same page and that doctors can draw the most personalized conclusions possible from the reams of data such devices collectively produce.

Natural Language Processing, or “Once More in Plain English”

Health care is a product, like it or not. And whether we’re purchasing that product on some convoluted health care exchange, or we live someplace where health care is an understood right of being a citizen, we all buy into this product one way or another.

But even in countries where a single-payer system spreads out the liabilities and costs among patients and consumers and helps drive down prices for everybody, health “literacy” is still a real problem almost across the board.

We all know the jokes about doctors’ handwriting. But that’s not the kind of literacy we’re talking about. Often, the valued customers of the world’s health care systems lack even basic knowledge about human health or turn to poor sources of information, such as doctors who skate by on name recognition alone.

The situation only becomes worse when you consider the chorus of medical jargon patients must digest as they visit physicians and specialists for what ails them. Here’s why poor health literacy is detrimental to health outcomes:

  • Patients who don’t understand their situations in full are less likely to adhere to medication and treatment schedules consistently.
  • Lab results tend to include medical terms patients don’t necessarily readily understand. And the generally poor doctor-to-patient ratio in the U.S. and elsewhere means doctors don’t always have the time to make sure patients leave their practices feeling confident and informed. Misinterpreted lab results are common as a result.
 
READ
 
How Data Monetization Can Add Value To Your Analytics
 

Natural language processing has had a long road to relevance as the technology has slowly come of age. But in 2017, researchers from Yale, the University of Massachusetts and the Veterans Administration applied natural language processing algorithms to the task of demystifying electronic health records, or EHRs, to make them more easily digestible for laypeople. They wanted to see whether a computer algorithm could promote better communication about health.

It did. Indeed, it worked so well it outperformed the researchers’ expectations, even with unsorted and unlabeled data from patient evaluations. Another 2018 study, now made public by e-health publisher JMIR, confirmed the original findings: When patients and health care providers use natural language algorithms, themselves powered by big data and machine learning, patients have a far and away more complete understanding of their health.

After a few tweaks to the systems, researchers even found patients’ ability to recall complex medical definitions later had improved further.

Lower Costs Are Just the Beginning

It’s true we frequently measure the quality of health care in dollars and cents. It’s also true that when deployed sensibly, emerging technologies can help bring down costs for everybody. But that’s just the start. Here are some of the other advantages of applying data to solving lackluster patient engagement:

 

  • Health care systems can pivot from reactionary to proactive treatment as health databases become richer with relevant patient data.
  • Algorithms are already making it much easier to match patients with relevant clinical trials that might deliver results. Using data encourages hesitant patients and ensures the most compatible matches.
  • Hospital readmissions might drop as a result of doctors and patients having more tools for anticipating setbacks in the recovery process.

When we empower people with knowledge about the condition of their bodies, they make better lifestyle choices. And when that happens, we enjoy a healthier population overall. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the effectiveness of our communication and the quality of our information are two of the keys we need in hand to build a health care system that works the way it’s supposed to.

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The Paradox of Choice & Digital Marketing: 3 Vital Takeaways for Healthcare

The Paradox of Choice & Digital Marketing: 3 Vital Takeaways for Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

There are more choices in healthcare than ever before. Since the introduction of Obamacare, a lot more people have access to a wider range of insurance options than ever before.

From there, there are even more decisions for a patient to make: urgent care or primary care? Direct primary care or concierge medicine? Generic or prescription medicine?

Is this a good thing? In many ways, of course it is. There’s no one-size-fits-all care prescription for any one patient. However, when the average person is left alone to handle these decisions, it can cause a form of decision paralysis.

See also: 3 Simple Ways to Fail at Digital Marketing in Healthcare

The Paradox of Choice in Marketing

The idea of choice overload and the anxiety and paralysis it can produce has sparked conversation since the turn of the century—most notably in Barry Schwartz’s 2004 book The Paradox of Choice.

He cites a study by Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper that presented participants with varying quantities of gourmet jam in a supermarket setting (with a coupon offer). Participants presented with 24 varieties of jam were far less likely to ultimately purchase a jar than those presented with only 6 options.

Overwhelmed with their options and faced with a time-consuming decision, many people were unable or unwilling to make a choice and simply moved on.

But what does this paradox of choice have to do with your practice, your hospital, or your patients? More than you think.

Online information overload

As we all know, more and more patients are coming into their doctors’ offices with a self diagnosis or treatment plan. In some cases, it’s based on experience or family history. But more often than not, the internet is in play—for better or for worse.

There is certainly some useful health information online, but it’s a lot to sort through—especially for a patient anxious about their health concerns. But much worse is the misinformation patients receive.

All of this is enough to cause information paralysis—to stop patients from making the right choices for their health because they simply do not know what to do. They may put off seeing a doctor out of fear, or struggle to decide which doctor can help them through a serious condition (even before receiving a diagnosis).

New models and standards of care

It can be difficult to decide which treatment route to go down when the world of healthcare is difficult to navigate in the first place.

Take primary care for example. The differences between family medicine and internal medicine could be difficult enough to for a healthcare newcomer to understand. But then there are integrative medicine specialists. There are different models of care, too: direct primary care, concierge medicine, retail healthcare options. It can be a lot for a patient to sort through.

If a patient is also balancing conditions that require specialists’ care, all of which may have their own approach to treatment, how can a patient determine what’s right?

So what should healthcare take away from the paradox of choice?

Patients are walking into your office uncertain that they’ve made the right choice. They’re finding information on your website that may conflict with information they’ve seen elsewhere. And they’re struggling to understand the things you deal with every single day.

A large part of what you can do for your patients is simply understand the struggles they face when making choices for their own health. And this can guide your approach to patient care as well as the marketing that brings patients through your doors.

Examine the paradox of choice in your own marketing

Take a look at your website as well as your traditional marketing materials. Are there large blocks of text filled with medical terminology? Do you describe the gory details of several serious conditions?

This is especially confusing for a patient who has not yet received a diagnosis. And regardless, you might be describing complex procedures, or even small procedures a patient did not yet realize she needed. And this can be terrifying to someone without healthcare expertise.

You probably already know that a 20-page brochure detailing all the possible symptoms and diseases a person may have can be confusing and overwhelming. A website with hundreds of pages is difficult to navigate. But even just a few pages of clinical, sometimes scary information may make a patient reconsider.

What patients truly want to know from your marketing materials is the level of care you can provide. Of course, your website should include the basics of your services. For serious information, they turn to you—and the best place for this is in your office.

Related: 10 Healthcare Website Design Tips that Deliver Patients

Use targeted advertising across digital and traditional media

In recent years, I’ve sent out mailers advertising our medical marketing seminar to doctor’s offices and hospitals across the country. This year, I tried a different approach. I included a brochure about our agency marketing partnership as well.

It was a risk, but one I felt I needed to take. Sometimes, it’s okay to draw attention to a list of services you provide in your advertising. However, the details of these services may be better left for in-person conversation.

And when it comes to your website, remember that patients on your site might only be in the market for one particular product or service.

That’s why we recommend both targeted mailers along with highly targeted digital landing pages. A digital ad may link to a landing page that points patients only to the service they were looking for, with no additional distractions. With no information overload interfering, a patient may be more likely to call your team for information (rather than get caught up in all the conflicting information online). 

Help patients deal with the stress of information overload

Once they’re in your office, it’s a lot easier to help your patients to deal with the stress of information overload. Encourage regular patients or those looking for a consultation to bring in information they’ve found online—so you can discuss it together.

Whether they mention it or not, your patients may be very concerned about their symptoms or conditions. Check in on this, and open up the dialogue so you can help them understand options and their recommended paths for treatment.

What’s most important is that you don’t become another source of information overload. Explain things in terms patients can understand, avoiding tough medical jargon. Give patients all the information they need, but don’t provide extra information that may lead to another panicked online search. Quality information from an expert source (you or your team) can take away the paradox of choice and free patients up to make informed decisions.

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Anaesthesiologist and social media: Walking the fine line Kiran S, Sethi N 

Anaesthesiologist and social media: Walking the fine line Kiran S, Sethi N  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

The digital world is now an integral part of medicine, and its presence is only likely to increase exponentially in the future. Social media use is pervasive in society and has been rapidly amalgamated into the lives of anaesthesiologists. Social media is any electronic forum that connects anaesthesiologists with other faculty, other health professionals, residents, patients, and public. Social media is intended to be social and that means engaging with others. Unlike journals or websites, where users are limited to passive viewing of content, social media facilitates knowledge sharing and social interaction on a real-time basis. Today, social media is fast becoming the first point of access of medical information for anaesthesiologists.


   Social Media in Anaesthesiology – From Evolution to Revolution  



Man as a social animal has always relied on communication to strengthen relationships at work and in personal life. With the advent of technology, the internet, and social media, there are a tremendous variety of social networking sites, available for use. Popular forums for social media include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Wikipedia, and LinkedIn.

“Global Anesthesiology Server Network” or the “GasNet” is the precursor for the anaesthesia-related social networking sites and has been functional since 1994. Facebook, a personal social networking site, is used to connect to individual anaesthesiologists with a mutual interest in a particular field. Nowadays, Twitter is one of the most popular social media sites among anaesthesiologists. Twitter allows anaesthesiologists to obtain up-to-the-minute updates on clinical research and news. Medical conferences have conference-specific hashtags like #ANES2014 or #AAGBI14, to allow live “tweeting” to engage attendees, promote scientific discussion, and interact with a broader audience.

“Sermo,” one of the biggest social networks for doctors worldwide, is like a “virtual doctor lounge” and connects doctors who do not know each other. The goal of “Sermo” is medical crowd-sourcing, where real-life medical questions are answered by peers.”Doximity” is aimed at connecting you to doctors you already know, like colleagues and residents. “DailyRounds” is a service for doctors that combines elements of a social networking and a medical journal. “Medscape” and “QuantiaMD” are less of social networks and more of learning platforms for anaesthesiologists. Free Open Access Medical Education, using #FOAMed, is a movement dedicated to increased sharing of medical knowledge. WhatsApp™ application can facilitate communication within members of any surgical team and provides the anaesthesiologist with a constant update of activities performed by other team members.

Other resources for anaesthesiologists include YouTube, where numerous procedural videos and tutorials relating to anaesthesiology are available. SlideShare has diverse anaesthesiology topics uploaded as slideshows. Podcasts from American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) allow offline access to digitally prerecorded audio, video, or e-Pub files.[1] The SCCM has embraced social media and set up a “Social Media Task Force” to organize, moderate, and participate in an online journal club.


   Pros and Cons of Social Media  



Social media is a powerful tool in the hands of the anaesthesiologist. It can benefit many professionals when used appropriately, especially in the field of education. It can serve as a platform to provide an excellent educational resource to many anaesthesiologists across the globe. Forums discuss clinical problems, unusual scenarios, share educational videos, and images encountered in day-to-day practice for the benefit of all and familiarize anaesthesiologists to recent trends. YouTube and podcasts are quickly finding a niche in regional anaesthesiology for just-in-time training.[2]

Traditional paper-based model of scientific publishing has been complemented by online supplements containing content-rich materials such as videos and full data that cannot be published on paper. Since many scientific journals do not allow free access, social media aids “literature sharing.”

In spite of all the advantages social media offers to anaesthesiologists, it has definite shortcomings. The saying “do not believe everything you read” is very appropriate for social media users. Any anaesthesiologist with a social media account can become a publisher, and there are huge lacunae in editorial responsibility, peer review, and accountability on social media networks. Very often, the authenticity of available information is questionable and plagiarism is rampant. Studies that have evaluated health-related YouTube videos for their conformity to textbook information and their sufficiency as a source for patient information have shown that videos prepared by institutes or societies were lacking in completeness of information and should be viewed for informational purposes only. Many videos were even found to be harmful to patient care, if used for educational or skill development purposes.[3]


   Impact of Social Media in Anaesthesiology: Boon or Bane  



According to studies, nearly one-third of all patients scheduled for surgery and anaesthesia consult the internet regarding their upcoming procedure.[4] Social media also affects the choice of surgical team or hospital in a number of patients. Being active on social media, and establishing a good online reputation, has a significant positive influence on patients. Anaesthesiologists, especially pain physicians, benefit from the social networking sites, to showcase their expertise and launch new relationships.

Empowering patients through social media with anaesthesia-related information that they need to know, such as educational videos of anaesthesia techniques, prepares the patient better for the surgery and leads to more optimal outcomes. The ASA offers patients social media content, to stay up-to-date on patient information regarding anaesthesia. These include “Patient Lifeline” on Twitter, “ASA Vital Health” on Facebook, and the website “lifelinetomodernmedicine.com.”

Medical publishers are also using social media aggressively, to promote knowledge, spread ideas, and create platforms among anaesthesiologists.[5] An active Twitter account of a medical journal directly correlated with higher journal impact factor and greater number of article citations, than journals not embracing social media.[6]

Social media use has become a ubiquitous component in the life of anaesthesiologists.[7] What is debatable is whether social media is beneficial in daily professional activities, or whether it is a mere distraction. Anaesthesiologists care for patients when they are most vulnerable, and a high sense of professionalism is expected of them while on social media. In a recent study on smartphone use of anaesthesia providers from Turkey, 35.3% of respondents used social media during the anaesthetized patient care. Though the respondents claimed no negative medical consequences of smartphone use during the anaesthetized patient care, 41% had witnessed their colleagues, at least once, in a situation where use of smartphone during the anaesthetized patient care could have led to negative medical consequences.[8] With the increasing trends of its use, social media has started to emerge as a significant distractor inside the operation theater, leading to monitoring lapses and precipitating critical events.

Use of social media by anaesthesiologists for case discussions or for publicity may compromise patient's confidentiality and privacy. Online contact with patients, which breach doctor–patient relationship, may be professionally inappropriate. A post or comment is linked for an indefinite period of time and professional reputation may suffer.


   Social Media Policy for Anaesthesiologists  



Anaesthesiologists need to decide on their social media goals, like interaction with colleagues, continuing medical education or educating patients, and then register for social media accounts accordingly. It is also important for anaesthesiologists to know their organization's social media policy and follow it. The American Medical Association's Ethics Opinion on “Professionalism in the Use of Social Media” recommends that physicians should manage privacy settings to safeguard personal information. They should routinely monitor their own internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and, to the extent possible, content posted about them by others are accurate and appropriate.

A few key considerations have to be borne in mind by the anaesthesiologist while using social media. It is imperative to maintain a safe professional distance between patients and colleagues online. No medical advice should be offered to any patient online. Anaesthesiologists should not participate in arguments on social media or make derogatory statements. Posting photos of clinical encounters on social media is a breach of confidentiality and photographing a patient, for any purpose, requires clearly documented written consent from the patient. Anaesthesiologists should also not use social media as a tool to air their grievances and instead follow formal process for addressing such matters. In India, there is a strong necessity to have institutional and society guidelines for practitioners on use of social media, so as to ensure safe practice and also reap the maximum benefits.[9]


   Social Media: Time to Introspect  



Anaesthesiologists active on social media must ensure that words and behavior online do not diminish their professional standing or bring the profession as a whole into disrepute. It is important to follow etiquettes and adopt a code of conduct while posting on social media. The answer does not lie in keeping online professional and personal identities separate, but in ensuring that all potential social media content is appropriate for a public space.

Educational resources on social media need to be assessed for their impact and quality before their use. It is challenging for anaesthesiologists to identify appropriate resources on social media. The Social Media Index (SMi) has been developed to help address this issue. Data from social media platforms such as Google Pageranks, Facebook Likes, Twitter Followers, and Google + Followers for blogs and podcasts have been used to derive the SMi. The SMi's stability over time and its correlation with journal impact factors suggest that it may be a stable indicator of the impact of medical education websites.[10]

“Distracted doctoring” is the phenomenon of health-care providers using electronic devices for non medical purposes during procedures. An anaesthesiologist needs to introspect the need for such behavior and ensure that such conduct does not impair patient care.


   Summary  



Social media use is omnipresent in society and is an integral part of the lives of anaesthesiologists. Using social media as an educational resource and ensuring an appropriate online presence is essential for professional growth. However, the anaesthesiologist needs to be aware of its numerous shortcomings and use social media responsibly. The need of the hour is comprehensive social media guidelines for anaesthesiologists, endorsed by professional health-care associations in India.

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JMIR-Using Twitter to Examine Web-Based Patient Experience Sentiments in the United States: Longitudinal Study 

JMIR-Using Twitter to Examine Web-Based Patient Experience Sentiments in the United States: Longitudinal Study  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Background: There are documented differences in access to health care across the United States. Previous research indicates that Web-based data regarding patient experiences and opinions of health care are available from Twitter. Sentiment analyses of Twitter data can be used to examine differences in patient views of health care across the United States.

Objective: The objective of our study was to provide a characterization of patient experience sentiments across the United States on Twitter over a 4-year period.

Methods: Using data from Twitter, we developed a set of 4 software components to automatically label and examine a database of tweets discussing patient experience. The set includes a classifier to determine patient experience tweets, a geolocation inference engine for social data, a modified sentiment classifier, and an engine to determine if the tweet is from a metropolitan or nonmetropolitan area in the United States. Using the information retrieved, we conducted spatial and temporal examinations of tweet sentiments at national and regional levels. We examined trends in the time of the day and that of the week when tweets were posted. Statistical analyses were conducted to determine if any differences existed between the discussions of patient experience in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas.

Results: We collected 27.3 million tweets between February 1, 2013 and February 28, 2017, using a set of patient experience-related keywords; the classifier was able to identify 2,759,257 tweets labeled as patient experience. We identified the approximate location of 31.76% (876,384/2,759,257) patient experience tweets using a geolocation classifier to conduct spatial analyses. At the national level, we observed 27.83% (243,903/876,384) positive patient experience tweets, 36.22% (317,445/876,384) neutral patient experience tweets, and 35.95% (315,036/876,384) negative patient experience tweets. There were slight differences in tweet sentiments across all regions of the United States during the 4-year study period. We found the average sentiment polarity shifted toward less negative over the study period across all the regions of the United States. We observed the sentiment of tweets to have a lower negative fraction during daytime hours, whereas the sentiment of tweets posted between 8 pm and 10 am had a higher negative fraction. Nationally, sentiment scores for tweets in metropolitan areas were found to be more extremely negative and mildly positive compared with tweets in nonmetropolitan areas. This result is statistically significant (P<.001). Tweets with extremely negative sentiments had a medium effect size (d=0.34) at the national level.

Conclusions: This study presents methodologies for a deeper understanding of Web-based discussion related to patient experience across space and time and demonstrates how Twitter can provide a unique and unsolicited perspective from users on the health care they receive in the United States.

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The value of online patient reviews

The value of online patient reviews | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Online patient reviews on social media sites can be an effective tool in helping dermatology practices market and educate patients about minimally-invasive fat reduction procedures, a new study has found.

 

Body contouring is one of the fast growing areas of dermatology. According to the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, body sculpting procedures are among the top four treatments patients request. Consequently, knowing what patients do and don’t like about them and how they rate their experiences can help clinicians influence patient choices, study authors say.

“Minimally-invasive and non-invasive fat reduction procedures are rated extensively online,” says study author Sreya Talasila, M.D., a dermatologist with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Aesthetic providers should use this available information to guide decision-making around minimally-invasive technique selection and price setting within their own practices.”

The study, published in Dermatologic Surgery, analyzed 11,871 patient reviews on fat-reduction procedures from the website RealSelf.com, a well-known aesthetics platform where patients share their experiences. The website’s reviews, extracted by researchers in 2017, divided patient satisfaction ratings into “worth it” (positive), “not worth it” (negative), and “not sure” (neutral).

For more accurate comparisons, Dr. Talasila says, the team grouped reviews of 13 unique minimally-invasive procedures into five body contouring modality categories: laser, cryolipolysis, injectables, radio frequency, and ultrasound. The ratings only included patient satisfaction feedback and did not offer information about patient demographics, including body mass index, age, or treatment goals.

Investigators also compared these reviews to patient responses on invasive body contouring (traditional liposuction).

The overall intent, Dr. Talasila says, was to determine which body contouring procedures are most popular and accepted among patients, especially newer ones that are used less-widely to date.

“With all the different procedures and the different number of treatments that need to be done, dermatologists should discuss treatment length and cost variability with patients upfront,” she says. “This is a growing field right now, and patients are interested. Clinicians need to be aware and be able to discuss it freely.”

Being knowledgable of online satisfaction assessments can help dermatologists manage patient expectations and set benchmarks for procedure length-of-treatment and outcomes, she says.

According to study results, researchers reviewed 7,170 patient reviews that encompassed all five minimally-invasive procedure categories. The overall satisfaction rating was 58 percent. But, despite being more expensive and more invasive, liposuction, which had 4,645 patient reviews, still had a higher satisfaction rating of 66 percent. The average cost for minimally-invasive procedures ranges from $1,350-$6,025. Liposuction’s price tag can be up to $7,000.

Conversations about cost can be important because minimally-invasive procedures are typically paid for out-of-pocket. Clinicians should be prepared to discuss the possibility that costs may vary for patients based on the individual number of treatments they will need to achieve the desired results, Dr. Talasila says.

In addition, researchers also analyzed and compared patient reviews of tumescent liposuction, a intermediately-invasive fat reduction technique. This procedure, which can be performed in one session, can address larger volume patient cases than minimally-invasive procedures, but it doesn’t require the operating room and anesthetist needed for traditional liposuction. In reviews, patients gave tumescent liposuction a 63-percent satisfaction rating.

Despite having a lower umbrella positive rating than more traditional, extensive techniques, the minimally-invasive procedures still had a median global rating of 81 percent satisfaction. Laser procedures received 3,565 reviews and a 61-percent satisfaction score. Patients completed 2,707 cryoplipolysis reviews, giving the technique a 55-percent satisfaction score. A total of 319 patients reviewed injectable treatments, resulting in a 49-percent satisfaction score. And, 314 patients reviewed radio frequency techniques, and 275 patients expressed opinions about ultrasound, giving these options satisfaction scores of 63 percent and 73 percent, respectively.

The researchers highlighted patient responses for some specific procedures, as well. Zerona, a laser procedure, received 43-percent satisfaction, and CoolSculpting, a cyrolipolysis technique scored a 55-percent satisfaction rating. Kybella (injectable), Liposonix (radio frequency), and UltraShape Power (ultrasound) received satisfaction scores of 49 percent, 43 percent, and 91 percent, respectively.

The study did not delve into the reasons why patients gave positive or negative reviews, however, Dr. Talasila says, noting further research would be necessary to pinpoint their reasons, such as procedural pain or disappointment in effectiveness and results.

“Patient choices are different, and we didn’t parse out the demographic data to further stratify their differences,” she says. “This information could be most helpful for clinical cost setting because cost data is available on RealSelf. It may encourage aesthetic and cosmetic providers to be aware of the website for benchmarking and even modality selection. They need to know what patients are aware of.”

This information could also help clinicians better understand how patients view the benefits and pitfalls of these minimally-invasive procedures from a real-world perspective. Based on data from other industries, Dr. Talasila says, online reviews have been shown to directly impact customer decisions, indicating popularity, consumer demand, and product awareness. Consequently, the more aesthetic providers can tell patients about how other individuals have responded to these body contouring techniques, the more informed the patient’s overall decision will be, she says.

Staying abreast of what patients say online about these medical procedures can also give clinicians the tools they need to correct any misperceptions or misinformation patients gather from searching about fat reduction techniques online. While patient reviews can include factual information about one individual’s experience, not all online resources provide accurate assessments of patient satisfaction or of a procedure’s efficacy and safety.

For example, in a recent study, published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, researchers from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School found the majority of YouTube videos on facial plastic surgery procedures were misleading marketing campaigns. Out of 240 videos with 160 million combined views, only 72 videos included a board-certified physician qualified to accurately assess the procedures and offer information to patients.

Consequently, aesthetic providers should familiarize themselves with online reviews, such as those on RealSelf.com, so they will be better prepared to help patients make the right decisions that fall best in line with the patient’s medical history, Dr. Talasila says.

“Social media is one of the easiest ways for people to get reviews of other people’s experiences,” she says. “Clinicians should want to see what information is out there and what their patients are gleaning from it.”

REFERENCE

Evers-Metlzer R, Talasila S, Xu S. Social Media Ratings of Minimally-Invasive Fat Reduction Procedure’s: Bench-marking Against Traditional Liposuction, Dermatologic Surgery (2018); doi:10.1097/DSS.0000000000001509

Alaeddin I, Nicheporuck BS, Paskhover B, Ward B, Ward M. Assessments of YouTube as an Informative Resources on Facial Plastic Surgery, JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery (2018); doi:10.1001/jamafacial.2018.0822

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The talk: Younger brain cancer patients provide a model for patient empowerment

The talk: Younger brain cancer patients provide a model for patient empowerment | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

In a 55-second video that is both playful and profound, patient advocates Liz Salmi and Charlie Blotnerasked Michael Fratkin, MD, a palliative care doctor they know through their advocacy work, to have “the talk” with them.

“We need to have the talk with you about end of life and brain tumors and steroids and swelling, especially related to other cancers and if this looks the same or not,” Blotner says at the beginning of the video, filmed while they were in the car.

Salmi jumped in: “Is dying from brain cancer different from other cancers? We just really want to know what it’s like. We need to have the talk. Like, sometimes ‘the talk’ means how are babies made but we want to know what dying is like... all of our friends are dying, we want to know what’s happening.”

“It was so millennial,” Fratkin told me in a conversation recently. “The way they asked. By text message video. From the car. But I think it is the future of medicine.”

I think he is right. In recent years, medicine has been awash in phrases like “empowering patients” and “patient centric,” intended to demonstrate how the health care system is including and deferring to patients to improve care and design research.

But it is through the day-to-day work of patients like of Salmi, Blotner, and Adam Hayden — and their work with doctors like Fratkin of Resolution Care, who practices palliative care via telemedicine in rural Northern California — that makes a real difference for patients.

Salmi, Blotner, and Hayden all have brain cancers. While Senator John McCain showed us how to live and die gracefully from brain cancer, these much younger patients are showing us that illness does not preclude action that can change the medical system in ways that benefit patients and caregivers.

Salmi, Blotner, and Hayden — using technology and their own initiative — have created networks that provide much needed support to brain cancer patients navigating similar challenges. For example, they organized monthly Twitter chats, Brain Tumor Social Media (#BTSM) for “all things brain tumor & social media.”

They are also contributing to substantive medical research.

Blotner, 23, was diagnosed with a grade II astrocytoma when he was 13. Now working towards a master’s degree in social work, he helps adolescents with chronic illnesses navigate the health care system and works to improve the care of future brain tumor patients as a member of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, and by providing recommendations for the National Brain Tumor Society and Alliance for Childhood Cancer to steer the National Institutes of Health in implementing a new system and standard of care for survivors.

Salmi, a 39-year-old communications specialist diagnosed with a grade II astrocytoma 10 years ago has made — and lost — many friends with brain cancer. She is a communications strategist for OpenNotes, a movement rooted in research advocating for patients to get access to their medical provider’s notes through existing online patient portals.

Hayden, 36, was diagnosed in 2016 with glioblastoma, is a working father of three young children. Along with Salmi, he is a leading member of the Brain Cancer Quality of Life Collaborative, a research collaborative funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Initiative that is exploring better quality of life standards for people living with glioblastoma and other high-grade brain tumors.

After studying the medical literature, Salmi, Hayden and the collaborative recognized there was a gap in palliative care standards for people with brain cancer. They are now building a  team of neuro-oncologists and palliative care clinicians (including Fratkin) to pilot possible best practices.

When Fratkin had “the talk” online with Salmi, Blotner, and Hayden, he told them with humor and kindness — but also truth — that dying from brain cancer can involve weight gain and puffiness due to steroids (a common palliative treatment as reducing brain swelling can help with retention of cognitive function). He also told them about the retreating inward that comes naturally as a person slows down. And he said that the choice about how long to proceed with any form of treatment, cancer focused or palliative, will be entirely theirs.

“Whether it’s Hawaii or the NIH in Bethesda, whatever choice you make will be the right one for you,” Fratkin said.

Patient empowerment is likely the future but it is also the present. Salmi, Blotner, and Hayden give us a model how to do it in a way that truly benefits patients.

Renata Khoshroo Louwers' first husband Ahmad died from bladder cancer in 2014. She is a writer and patient advocate who co-founded of the literary journal Months to Years.

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Social media guidance for physicians taps timeless principles

Social media guidance for physicians taps timeless principles | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Social media has come a long way since Friendster, permeating every facet of American life—and medicine is no exception. If the decade and a half since Facebook was launched seems like an eternity on the social media timeline, it is but a blip for a guide to physician conduct that debuted more than 150 years ago.

Yet that guide, the AMA Code of Medical Ethics, has quite a bit to say about how physicians should navigate Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and more. Learn how to apply the enduring principles of medical ethics to the quickly moving world of social media.

 

The Code recognizes both the attraction of social media and the special need for caution when physicians use it.

 

“Participating in social networking and other similar opportunities can support physicians' personal expression, enable individual physicians to have a professional presence online, foster collegiality and camaraderie within the profession, provide opportunities to widely disseminate public health messages and other health communication,” notes the preamble to Opinion, 2.3.2, “Professionalism in the Use of Social Media.”

 

“Social networks, blogs and other forms of communication online also create new challenges to the patient-physician relationship,” the Code of Medical Ethics says.

 

Physicians widely—and, most often, wisely—use social media. It has also been misused, including shared images and other violations of patient privacy, as well as emails and texts that never should have been sent.

 

CEJA cited three of the nine Principles of Medical Ethics in rendering its opinion on physician use of social media. Those principles include respect for human dignity and rights, honesty and upholding the standards of professionalism, and the duty to safeguard patient confidences and privacy.

 

The opinion states:

 

Physicians should weigh a number of considerations when maintaining a presence online:

 

(a) Physicians should be cognizant of standards of patient privacy and confidentiality that must be maintained in all environments, including online, and must refrain from posting identifiable patient information online.

 

(b) When using social media for educational purposes or to exchange information professionally with other physicians, follow ethics guidance regarding confidentiality, privacy and informed consent.

 

(c) When using the internet for social networking, physicians should use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the extent possible, but should realize that privacy settings are not absolute and that once on the internet, content is likely there permanently.

 

Thus, physicians should routinely monitor their own internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and, to the extent possible, content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate.

 

(d) If they interact with patients on the internet, physicians must maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship in accordance with professional ethics guidance just as they would in any other context.

 

(e) To maintain appropriate professional boundaries physicians should consider separating personal and professional content online.

 

(f) When physicians see content posted by colleagues that appears unprofessional they have a responsibility to bring that content to the attention of the individual, so that he or she can remove it and/or take other appropriate actions.

 

If the behavior significantly violates professional norms and the individual does not take appropriate action to resolve the situation, the physician should report the matter to appropriate authorities.

 

(g) Physicians must recognize that actions online and content posted may negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues, may have consequences for their medical careers (particularly for physicians-in-training and medical students) and can undermine public trust in the medical profession.

 

There’s a CME course for that

A central theme of the guidance in Opinion 2.3.2 has to do with understanding and maintaining boundaries.

 

The AMA offers a credit-eligible CME course, Boundaries for Physicians: The Code of Medical Ethics, “to help physicians identify and understand how to maintain proper boundaries with their patients and to articulate and understand the underlying importance of those boundaries to the practice of medicine.” The module is free to members ($20 for non-embers) and covers a wide range of situations, including social media.

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In the Social Media Age Patient Surveys are More Important Than Ever

In the Social Media Age Patient Surveys are More Important Than Ever | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

The Internet has become as fundamental to daily life as electricity and running water. It’s part of normal routine for more than half the people on the planet, and physicians are starting to take notice. The days of physical recruitment, postcards and published ads, are dwindling and providers are turning to digital platforms to showcases their practices, but can unlimited access be a risk for providers? With platforms like Yelp, Google, and Facebook available at any time to voice your opinion, providers and medical practices can find themselves covered in 5-star reviews and positive praise or sinking under the weight of negative comments. 

“Online reviews can be intimidating to healthcare organizations, but they push providers and organizations to assess their weak spots and make the necessary changes,” said Ann Baker, Patient Satisfaction Surveys and Health Campaigns Product Specialist for Relatient. Patient surveys help providers anticipate the reviews coming their way, and better their service. Using surveys, providers can ask patients questions on everything from office ambiance to quality of care, which allows the provider to improve patient experience.   

“Patient surveys are an important part of any practice. Providers need to be aware of their patients’ experience to provide the best care possible,” said Baker. Social media is just one of the ways patients can express their opinions on a doctor or practice, “it’s important for practices to monitor this activity” and process the information into actionable steps. 

While the use of online reviews is out of providers’ hands, they can impact the feedback contained in those reviews. Patient surveys can help prepare providers for the feedback that may be posted online and respond accordingly. Patient satisfaction is about more than great care, patients want to feel like their opinions are heard. Proactive surveying also helps medical groups anticipate and prepare for the results of their Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS), which are published for consumer review and can dictate a portion of a practice’s reimbursement. 

One of the biggest challenges to surveys is that patients are already overloaded with mass emails, surveys, and ads seeking their opinions. Surveys that are short, well-timed, and focused are more likely to be answered. Relatient suggests that practices and health systems can keep it simple with one short question, delivered via text message: How would you rate your overall experience? 

A great way to build your online presence is to encourage loyal patients to leave a review online after the survey and make it easy for them to do so. This is important because 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation. If a patient’s experience wasn’t stellar, asking the patient to provide more feedback helps uncover opportunities for improvement and gives disappointed customers a voice, offline. Automated surveys allow healthcare organizations to seek feedback at the optimal time and including a way to leave a review online improves online reputation.  

“Reviews affect how potential patients view your organization, which can be unnerving for some providers,” said Baker. But if providers are diligent in their social and survey monitoring, patient reviews can have a positive effect on their practice.

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How Do Patients and Institutions Talk About Breast Cancer on Twitter? 

How Do Patients and Institutions Talk About Breast Cancer on Twitter?  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers analyzed how Twitter users talk about breast cancer on the social media platform. They found that breast cancer awareness and prevention are among the more common topics, and the findings could generally be used to guide advocacy and patient organizations in providing resources and support.

“Many of the patients we see in daily practice use social media to search for information about their disease, so, as care providers, we wanted to know what kind of content they find there,” said Rodrigo Sánchez-Bayona, MD, of Clinica Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, according to a press release. “At the same time, the sheer volume of posts on Twitter represents a rich pool of data we can use to assess attitudes and discourses surrounding cancer.”

Sánchez-Bayona will present results of the new analysis at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2018 Congress, to be held in Munich from October 19–23.

The study involved analyzing all tweets posted with the hashtag #BreastCancer over a 7-day period; they included a total of 6,341 tweets, of which 3,703 were original and 2,638 were retweets.

Of the full set of tweets, 1,144 of them (31%) were considered to have medical content; of those, 90% were deemed to have appropriate content. A total of 2,559 tweets (69%) were deemed non-medical, and 14.8% of those were considered to have a stigmatizing attitude regarding cancer.

A total of 1,137 tweets (30.7%) contained content relating to a patient’s experience, while 96 tweets (2.6%) contained an experience from the perspective of a relative of a patient. Sixty percent of tweets came from private accounts, while 40% came from institutions or public accounts.

The aims of tweets included scientific (17.3%), advertising (15.8%), fundraising (8.3%), and patient advocacy (25.3%). When broken down into subthemes, prevention was most common (44.5%) followed by treatment (25.5%), diagnosis (18.6%), and prognosis (11.4%).

The authors noted that this was part of a larger study on discussion of diseases more generally on social media, in which they found that cancer was the most mentioned pathology on Twitter around the world.

Sánchez-Bayona said the findings may prove useful to various types of organizations. “In particular, advocacy organizations can draw on them to create relevant medical content and counseling about cancer that will be more accessible to users,” he said.

Marina Garassino, MD, of Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori in Milan, who was not involved with the research, noted that there are clearly large numbers of patients using Twitter. “We should take that as corroboration of a new reality: patients now use the web to find information, and social media must be an integral part of our communication with them,” she said. “Academic institutions and key opinion leaders need to be even more active in spreading their findings through these channels to counteract the many ‘fake news’ circulating online.”

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What Does Your Online Presence Say about You as a Physician Candidate?

If you are a physician searching for practice opportunities, you probably have a lot on your mind - is your CV up to date? Have you compiled your professional reference list? Are your license and certifications up to date?

You may or may not have given much thought to your social media profiles, but did you know that your social media presence can also factor into your job search? It may not be the most important factor in the process, but how you present yourself on social media could impact your job search positively, or negatively.

What Physician Recruiters Look For

Many physician recruiters indicate that they research candidates online primarily to verify that what the physician candidate has shared with the recruiter is true, check for any potential unknown background issues or inconsistencies, search for positive things about the physician to share with clients, and also to get a better idea of the physician's interests, personality, and family needs as they relate to and fit in with the client's practice opportunity.

Where Recruiters Search Online

When asked about their use of social media during the recruitment process, most recruiters stated that they search all candidates online - mainly a Google search, and also a search of LinkedIn, Facebook, Vitals, and Doximity. Some recruiters will search other sites such as Instagram and Twitter, but most will primarily focus on LinkedIn and Facebook.

However, recruiters aren't always successful finding candidate information online, which leaves additional questions sometimes. Many physicians are not found on social media sites, so there is one less way for the recruiter to engage with the physician and learn more about the candidate and help him or her find the best fit.

"I am happy when I find a physician I'm working with on LinkedIn," states Nolan Smith, recruiting principal for The Medicus Firm. "I do feel that when I make those [online] connections, that my professional relationship with the candidate becomes stronger and I'm able to better assist him or her."

Jared Vaughn, another recruiting principal for The Medicus Firm, also utilizes social media research frequently during the recruiting process. "I look for information to qualify the physician for a position.. or to confirm information that we have discussed. It's great when there are patient reviews/recommendations that speak to the physician's quality [of practice], personality, and skill set as well." 

Vaughn also noted the absence of many physician candidates on social media. "I’m honestly surprised in 2018 how few physicians are on social media, but that may be for the best for multiple reasons. It may help prevent the physician from having to try and answer medical questions from patients... and to a certain degree help protect the patient/doctor relationship," Vaughn adds.

Red Flags

Some recruiters admitted that sometimes they see things they don't want to see, when they research candidates on social media. Fortunately, this is not a common occurence. Red flags would include any inconsistency between what's presented on social media and what the candidate has represented via phone, email, or their CV. Also, negative patient reviews, or egregious background issues that were concealed or not revealed by the candidate can also pose a problem for candidates and recruiters representing them.

Each recruiter puts his or her reputation on the line with each physician candidate he or she represents and submits to a client employer. Therefore, it's paramount that recruiters have as much information as possible about the candidate so that they can accurately represent the job seeker to each employer.

Ultimately, social media provides an excellent mode of communication and engagement for recruiters to interact with their candidates and learn more about each physician in order to help provide the best professional fit and practice opportunity for the candidate and his or her family.

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