Social Media and Healthcare
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When Doctors and Patients Are Facebook Friends

When Doctors and Patients Are Facebook Friends | Social Media and Healthcare |

When Kenda Ross's husband, Robert, has an excruciating arthritis flare-up or other urgent health issue, she typically calls the office of his doctor, Jen Brull. If she can't get Dr. Brull by phone, she sometimes tries another way—Facebook

Dr. Brull gets the messages on her smartphone and usually calls back quickly with advice. Once, when Mr. Ross's knee was red and swollen after a shot and Dr. Brull was traveling, she urged a visit to an urgent-care clinic to check for infection. "I know she's available, no matter where she is," says Ms. Ross, a 64-year-old retiree in Plainville, Kan.

As social-media tools become ubiquitous, doctors are finding a role for them in their medical practices. But Facebook, Twitter and other social media bring challenges and worries, as well as opportunities. Among the concerns: protecting patient privacy and maintaining appropriate boundaries between professional and social relationships.

Gerry Tolbert, a family physician in Florence, Ky., uses Twitter to communicate health messages, and occasionally some personal interests—like "Star Wars"—will surface. He likes relaying useful information broadly to patients and others, he says. But he never tweets about individual patients, not even anonymously, he says. "It's not my place to decide who gets to hear their personal story."

According to a survey published in 2011 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, 94% of medical students, 79% of residents and 42% of practicing physicians reported some use of online social networks, nearly all for personal reasons. Among the practicing physicians, 35% said they had received a "friend" request from a patient or family member—and 58% of those who had received those "friend" requests said they always rejected them.

A survey of physicians last May by Epocrates inc., which develops medical reference apps for physicians, found that 82% were using social networks to engage with other physicians, while just 8% were doing so with patients.

Saroj Misra, a Warren, Mich., family physician, saw a patient with a fracture last year and used Doximity, an online professional physician network, to send a question to a medical-school classmate who is an orthopedic surgeon. His friend suggested a certain type of splint and urged that the patient follow up with a local orthopedic surgeon. It took just "a few minutes" to get the advice via his smartphone, Dr. Misra says. "That is awesome."

Jake Varghese, a Cumming, Ga., family physician, communicates with patients digitally, using a portal and other tools provided by his employer, the Kaiser Permanente system. But he said he wouldn't feel comfortable "friending" a patient through his personal Facebook page. "It crosses a line" from a professional to a personal relationship, he says. "If I'm talking to them about their blood pressure, and they say, 'You went out to eat at so-and-so last week, should you be doing that, Doc?'—it takes a bit from that objectivity.

Dr. Brull, the Kansas family physician, says in her small-town practice she inevitably has social contact with many patients, and she's comfortable with having those who are her friends offline also becoming Facebook friends and seeing updates about her family and professional life. Plus, it's an easy way for certain patients to reach her, she says. "It fits the way I like to practice," she says. Like other doctors, though, she says she won't send answers to health questions via social media for privacy reasons.

Mark Ryan, a Richmond, Va., family physician, doesn't mind if patients follow his Twitter feed, which sometimes reflects his views on political issues related to health care. He wouldn't spontaneously bring up his policy opinions in the exam room, he says, but if patients choose to seek him out on Twitter, it is their choice. "They may or may not agree with it, but at the end of the day, I don't think they could point to anything and say it was unprofessional," he says. "Physicians need to be actively involved in our communities."

Patients can reach Jen Brull, a Plainville, Kan., physician, by Facebook message.

The American Medical Association's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs published guidelines in 2011 suggesting doctors need to "maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship" online and to consider separating professional and personal content online.

Some doctors say they connect with patients in ways that are completely separate from their own personal lives, and they sometimes see benefits. Pamila Brar, who practices in La Jolla, Calif., focuses on health advice and information in her tweets and on her Facebook page. Sometimes she learns something useful about her patients. One patient mentioned in a Facebook post that he was waking up a lot at night to use the bathroom, which he hadn't shared with Dr. Brar at his physical exam. Dr. Brar followed up by phone and eventually prescribed treatment.

Wanda Filer, a York, Pa., family doctor, connects with some patients via LinkedIn, and she tweets to followers who include many fellow doctors. Her Facebook page is dedicated to health topics, and she doesn't post personal information. Still, she once learned via a LinkedIn update that a patient had been in the hospital. "I gave her a call and said, 'Maybe we should make an appointment,' " Dr. Filer says. "It was fortuitous."

Social-media issues are getting more attention from medical schools, which are starting to teach about social-media standards and regulators. A survey of state medical board officials published last month in the Annals of Internal Medicine highlighted several hypothetical situations they might target. Of most concern were physicians who posted misleading information about clinical outcomes, misrepresented credentials, used patient images without consent or contacted patients inappropriately—the same kinds of behavior that typically draw scrutiny offline, said S. Ryan Greysen, lead author of the study and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco. The article said several scenarios were based at least partly on actual incidents.

The Rhode Island Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline in 2011 reprimanded an emergency-room physician who posted about her clinical experiences on Facebook. Though she didn't identify patients by name, readers were able to identify one of them because of the nature of the injury. "There's no business for protected patient information on Facebook, period, the end," said James McDonald, chief administrative officer for the Rhode Island board. "Social media isn't meant to be the exam room." The physician didn't return a call seeking comment.

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Social Media and Healthcare
Articles and Discussions on the intersection of Social Media and Healthcare.
Relevant to Healthcare Practitioners, Pharma', Insurance, Clinicians, Labs, Health IT Vendors, Health Marketeers, Health Policy Makers, Hospital Administrators.
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Social Media Implementation Checklist

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

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

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How to Successfully Market Your Content Online

How to Successfully Market Your Content Online | Social Media and Healthcare |

Content marketing can be an effective tool to promote your medical practice. Most digital marketers today include content marketing in their annual promotional plans. However, many physicians are not aware of the key elements needed in a content marketing strategy or are not experienced implementing such a strategy to launch or promote their medical practice.

Content marketing aims to create awareness and promote interest around your products or service. It involves the development of content and the online sharing of articles, videos, blogs and social media posts to stimulate interest in your product or service.

It is slightly similar to direct response and brand marketing. The vital difference is that it does not explicitly promote a brand. Instead of direct promotion, content marketing seeks to educate, inform and solve the problems of the target audience.

There are many aspects to content marketing such as social media posts, blogs, article creation, infographics, white papers, videos and case studies.

For a number of reasons, content marketing can be highly effective in promoting a product or service online. Some of these are:

Engagement of Future Patients

The main ingredient to a successful campaign is delivering and making available relevant content to pique interest of a potential patient in your product or service. Your relationship with a patient deepens when they reach out to you via Twitter replies, blog comments or social media sharing.

Reputation Building

As more and more patients get engaged and respond positively, trust placed in your brand grows. This allows you to shape your reputation overtime and show people that you are indeed an expert in your field or specialty.

Gets Your Word Across

Content marketing aims at getting your product and brand’s story out to the world. It lends a personal touch to your marketing efforts. It allows you to make potential patients understand that your brand is an answer to their medical concerns.

There are many ways that you can promote your services online by using content marketing through your website, blog and social media.

Best Content Marketing Approaches

Answer Queries with Content Marketing

Content marketing is not a hard-sell approach and requires a softer touch compared with other marketing options. The best way to encourage a patient to visit your practice is to build and maintain their trust and confidence. You improve your prospects by answering queries online and showing the reader that only you can answer a particular problem.

Build out articles that answer general, commonly asked questions such as what your hours are, services offered at your practice, and patient testimonials. Show a potential visitor why others in the community have chosen your practice for their healthcare needs.

Produce Shareable Content

If you create content that is interesting to many people, you increase the chances of it being shared by individuals among their friends and family. This in turn increases viewership and provides you with more organic marketing exposure.

By creating content that is helpful, informative and insightful, you can ensure more loyal readership.

Unique infographics, easy to understand blog posts and insightful how-to videos are a very good way to encourage viewers to share your content and promote it on social media and other platforms. You can make sharing even easier by requesting a reader to spread your message and adding share buttons that can instantly link to Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Create Value Based Content

If viewers find value in the blogs or posts they are more likely to share it with their friends, family and colleagues. When done well, content marketing has more reach and better visibility than other sales and promotions.

Additionally, if writing is not your strong suit, content marketing offers ways in which you can avoid text-based subjects.

You can get your message across by way of a podcast, a video, webinar, infographics or any other method that excites you and showcases your authority on a given subject.

Visual content gets shared more often than regular written content on social media and other platforms as per experts. Additionally, posting of such dynamic content on a regular basis can ensure that your loyal viewers always come back for more. This can result in more conversions for your practice over time.

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What Pharma can learn from B2B digital trends -

What Pharma can learn from B2B digital trends - | Social Media and Healthcare |

igital transformation has changed B2B sales for good.

The impact of digital has fundamentally changed business models across UK industries over the last 10 years. Emerging technology and slick, digital platforms have empowered companies to interact with their customers in a variety of channels. It’s no longer an option to use digital channels to reach customers – it’s essential. And, pharma is no different.

Customer expectations have driven the change

Reports from Fuze say that Millennials became the largest generation in the workforce in 2016. Today, they represent 35% of all workers. And their expectations of business communication is shaped from their B2C experience.

Andy Hoar, VP and principal analyst of e-business at Forrester stated“What we’ve seen is that all B2B buyers are also B2C consumers. It’s not like someone has a great experience on Amazon or Sephora or or and then goes to a B2B-centric site and dramatically lowers their expectations.”

Whilst B2B has had to play catch up with B2C, Pharma has been lagging even further behind. With some companies nervous to break with tradition, and others bolting digital strategies on to an existing model, there have been varying levels of success.

Following a survey from McKinsey, research has demonstrated that the fastest-growing B2B companies use digital and inside sales channels more effectively than slower-growing companies. The research also states that the drastic changes in buyer preferences, and an increase in more technically savvy customers, has led to “a new breed of sales leaders who bring technical expertise and a strategic mind-set. This is also transforming what sales organizations look like, with a sharp reduction in field sales and marketing, and rapid growth in inside sales and analytics teams.”

McKinsey continues that this modern approach to B2B sales is “data-driven, enabled by digital tools, underpinned by advanced analytics, and focused on really understanding the ‘what, why, and when’ of the customer”.

Companies that have adopted new, digital modes of communication have started to pull away from their competitors in terms of revenue and growth. According to Forrester, the decline of field sales across B2B industries, reflects the robust growth of inside sales and digital channels – which should come as a warning sign to those pharma companies not already convinced.

What can pharma do to keep up with B2B digital trends? 

ATKearney states that “despite being an information-intensive industry, healthcare’s business model has remained strangely unaffected by the digital revolution until recently. Health is delivered in much the same way as it has always been, and the innate conservatism of the industry means it lags in usage of all the main digital technologies.”

It appears that in an industry consumed by stringent regulations, the over-cautious approach to digital has been intensified by a fear of reprisal. Add to this the trepidation of taking a supposed career risk, and it’s clear to see why digital progression has been side lined for traditional, tried and tested, field sales.

However, it’s also important to consider that, despite the decline in field sales across B2B industries, this doesn’t spell the end of road sales representatives. Sales professionals need to be optimised with technology, but critically, they also need to buy-in to the multi-channel concept. It’s not enough to just bolt-on digital platforms to a tired and outdated model. For commercial success, companies need to adapt to change and develop a new strategy with digital at its very core, or risk losing ground to more progressive competitors.

Data-driven decision making

Not only can digital and technology advances impact the expectations of our customers, and the channels we use to sell to them, it also enables pharma companies to work smarter. By harnessing industry data and utilising the latest intelligence, sales teams can be flexibly deployed with real-time project analytics, so all decisions are data-driven.

At OUTiCO we have spent the last 5 years refining our sales model and building our own database of HCP contacts. We are the first Multi-Channel Sales company in the pharma industry, communicating with Health Care Professional’s via their preferred sales channel, providing more HCP access options and opportunities. Our unique accessibility data along with the latest digital tools allows us to flexibly deploy exceptional sales professionals in Market Access, Secondary Care, Primary Care projects. As such we continually deliver excellent case studies that prove this model works and substantiates that ‘Multi-Channel’ selling is the future.

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The Latest Crop of Instagram Influencers? Medical Students.

The Latest Crop of Instagram Influencers? Medical Students. | Social Media and Healthcare |

In 2018 America, chances are high that you’ve come across the work of a celebrity physician in some form: Maybe you’ve passively watched Dr. Oz while waiting at a doctor’s office, or flipped through one of Deepak Chopra’s books on alternative medicine.

Celebrity physicians often catapult to fame via their mastery of traditional media, like television or radio or books or magazines, and we’re used to seeing medical advice and expertise there. What you may have yet to encounter, or haven’t fully noticed yet, is the growing group of current medical students who are perhaps on track to achieve even greater fame, through their prodigious and aggressive use of social media, particularly Instagram. Even before receiving their medical degrees, these future doctors are hard at work growing their audiences (many have well into the thousands of followers), arguably in ways even more savvy than the physicians on social media today.

I fell into a digital rabbit hole that surfaced dozens of fellow med students moonlighting as social media influencers, and the partnerships grew ever more questionable.

I first learned of the medical student Instagram influencer community a few months ago, when a friend shared links to a few of these accounts with me, asking if this is what medical school was really like. Curated and meticulously organized, these accounts posted long reflections after anatomy lab sessions, video stories of students huddled around a defibrillator during a CPR training session, pictures of neat study spaces featuring board-prep textbooks next to cups of artisan coffee, and 5 a.m. selfiestaken in the surgery locker-room before assisting with a C-section. Initially, I cringed. Sure, they looked vaguely familiar—they were (literally) rose-tinted, glamorized snapshots of relatable moments dispersed over the past few years of my life. But interspersed, and even integrated, into those relatable moments were advertisements and discount codes for study materials and scrub clothing brands. Something about that, in particular, felt impulsively antithetical to my (perhaps wide-eyed) interpretation of medicine’s ideals, of service to others over self-promotion.

Sufficiently intrigued, I fell into a digital rabbit hole that surfaced dozens of fellow med students moonlighting as social media influencers, and the partnerships grew ever more questionable. Some accounts featured sponsored posts advertising watches and clothes from Lululemon; another linked back to a personal blog that included a page that allowed followers to “shop my Instagram.” A popular fitness-oriented account, hosted by an aspiring M.D., promoted protein powder and pre-workout supplements. A future dermatologist showcased skin care products. Another future M.D.’s account highlights the mattressescustom mapsfurniture rental services, and food brand that, according to the posts, help her seamlessly live the life of a third-year med student.

In the aggregate, the ethics of these accounts left me conflicted. Many of these influencers are using their accounts and personal brands for objectively good, medically sound causes—a number of them promote important public health messages like getting an annual flu shot or registering as an organ donor. I can even empathize with the impulse to partner with companies to advertise products—med school is expensive, and I can imagine advertising is somewhat lucrative. But the companies are almost certainly targeting them because they know that med students can offer some veneer of medical objectivity to their products. By engaging in these partnerships, med students have, perhaps unsuspectingly, chosen to put their “medical credential”—often prominently displayed in a name or Instagram bio—up for sale.

For now, no one seems to have descended into the Dr. Oz universe of snake oil—there are no products on the level of the rapid fat loss pills or cures for the common cold that he promotes. But the potential to take things too far is certainly there, and American medicine is full of stories of physicians promoting products of questionable or no medical value. In the past, physicians have advertised for Camel cigarettes and, more recently, partnered with Coca-Cola. Just last year, a physician in Oklahoma gained notoriety for offering “Jesus shots”—essentially a pricey placebo consisting of two steroids and vitamin B12—to patients and potential customers for chronic pain. On Instagram, med students already toe the line by advertising for products like protein supplements, which can be high in added sugar and can strain kidney function. It doesn’t take an extraordinary leap of imagination to envision a med student being paid to promote a product on Instagram like Juul—a potentially useful harm reduction tool for smokers but a dangerous recommendation for doctors to make for most people. And for better or worse, the stakes are pretty high—for patients and their health, but also for doctors and their credibility. Many of these influencers, with access already to audiences as large as 60,000 followers and growing, will go on to become the next faces of American medicine.

Many outside interests are ready to take advantage of students’ ability to offer some stamp of medical authority.

Med students aren’t alone here—physicians and residents have also engaged in native advertising for brands on platforms like Instagram in recent years. One example is Dr. Mike Varshavski, a family medicine physician in New York with more than 2.9 million Instagram followers. He’s promoted Quaker oatsOld Spice deodorant, and Fox’s new medical drama, The Resident, just in the past year. Although ethically in the clear by the standards of professional organizations like the American Medical Association, practicing health professionals are likely more aware of both the good and the bad implications of that decision to advertise.

But for less experienced medical students, the story becomes more complicated. We, only beginning our careers in medicine, sit at the bottom of medicine’s totem pole, lacking the volume of clinical experience of practicing physicians. During our education, we remain in a purgatory of sorts, not quite inside medicine’s ivory tower but going through experiences and observing moments in medicine that most people simply don’t get to see. And social media, by its nature, makes it difficult to separate our lives in lecture halls or in the hospital from our lives at home. It practically invites us to share professional opinions alongside personal views, where posts and tweets can easily get misinterpreted. Is a doctor’s personal devotion to a product an endorsement that it’s a good medical choice for everyone? The uncharted ethics of social media are already confusing, and that’s before you add in the influence of outside interests, many of which are ready to take advantage of students’ ability to offer some stamp of medical authority to the general public about a product or idea without asking too many questions.

This is not to say that doctors shouldn’t share opinions: Many physicians already do this responsibly online. On Twitter in particular, physicians have created a virtual community that opens academic debates on evidence-based research to the public, fosters camaraderie and professional support to one another, and enables physicians to speak out about important social causes (the most recent example being the #ThisIsMyLane movement). But there is a difference between using your expertise to inform arguments and using your expertise to make some extra cash selling products to consumers. And how to ethically handle the social capital associated with a medical degree is rarely, if ever, discussed in our training. It is something we instead quietly grapple with ourselves and are expected learn how to handle with time.

The problem is broader than Instagram, too: I’ve personally seen how groups outside of medicine seek the endorsement of med students and the weight behind their future degrees. Since starting med school, political organizations have asked me and my classmates to attend protests in white coats, rather than in plainclothes as private citizens. And as both a freelance writer and med student, companies have approached me to endorse their products or even the visions of their CEOs.

In other words, the issue shows no signs of going away anytime soon. And solutions to address it aren’t clear. Firm regulations by professional societies on what we can and can’t say doesn’t seem to be a great answer—whatever is written will quickly become outdated, given how fast social media can evolve. But on Instagram, at least, a large contingent of health professionals have pushed for transparency and self-regulation through the #VerifyHealthCare movement, which asks influencers to explicitly list out their credentials, conflicts of interests, and clarification that personal endorsements are not always professional ones.

Encouraging and teaching students to carry a greater respect for the significance of the two letters that eventually appear after our names may be the best path forward. Public trust in physicians (and other institutions) has declined over the past half-century, but a majority of Americans still believe that their physician is honest and highly ethical in their practice. As outside interests—particularly corporations and advertisers—vie for our endorsements, we should do our best, for the sake of our patients, not to give it away so cheaply. 

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$2M Grant Expands Social Media Intervention to Reduce Skin Cancer Burden

$2M Grant Expands Social Media Intervention to Reduce Skin Cancer Burden | Social Media and Healthcare |

A five-year, $2,074,932 grant (R01CA221854-01A1) from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) awarded to Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Associate Director for Cancer Prevention, Control and Population Research Sharon L. Manne, PhD, will support the expansion of a behavioral intervention delivered through the social media site Facebook. The aim is to improve skin exams and sun protective behaviors among young melanoma survivors and their families.

“According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the risk of developing melanoma is more than six times higher among young adults than it was 40 years ago. Melanoma is the most common malignancy for young adults aged 25 to 29 and the second most common malignancy among persons 15 to 29. Having a first-degree relative (parent, sibling or child) with melanoma more than doubles the relative’s own melanoma risk. Therefore, the population of family members at elevated risk is also growing at an increasing rate,” notes Dr. Manne, who is also a professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

As a group, young onset melanoma survivors have been identified by the NCI as a unique and growing population. They are at higher relative risk for a second malignancy than adults diagnosed with cancer over age 39. First-degree relatives of young melanoma patients are at increased risk for melanoma (Lee, J. S., et al., Cancer, 2016). It is recommended that melanoma patients and their first-degree relatives engage in regular total skin exams, comprehensive skin self-examinations, and sun protection.

“Research has shown that despite their increased risk, these first-degree relatives pay little attention to sun protection and skin surveillance behaviors. Although the vast majority of young onset melanoma patients engage in regular total skin exams, many do not engage in regular self-exams or sun protection,” adds Manne. With little intervention research targeting the unique and growing population of young onset patients and their family members, Manne’s group hopes to shed additional light on the topic.

The intervention will examine the impact of two types of private Facebook groups. One group will receive education about skin cancer and recommended sun protection, skin self-checks, and physician skin exams, along with working on improving these behaviors by setting goals and providing both group and family support. The other group will receive general health and wellness information. Nearly 600 young melanoma survivors and nearly 600 of their first-degree relatives will be randomly assigned to one of these two groups. Manne and colleagues aim to show that a closed social media platform is an effective tool to increase sun protection, skin self-checks, and physician skin exams among young skin cancer survivors and their family members. 

The award period runs through May 2023.

About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute, along with its partner RWJBarnabas Health, offers the most advanced cancer treatment options including bone marrow transplantation, proton therapy and CAR-T cell therapy.  Along with clinical trials and novel therapeutics such as precision medicine and immunotherapy – many of which are not widely available – patients have access to these cutting-edge therapies at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital in Newark, as well as through RWJBarnabas Health facilities.

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The Inbound Approach to Healthcare Marketing (And Why You Need to Use It Now)

The Inbound Approach to Healthcare Marketing (And Why You Need to Use It Now) | Social Media and Healthcare |

It's no secret that marketing is constantly evolving, and inbound marketing is leading the change in the customer-centric digital age.

The inbound approach has been proven to work in so many industries. HubSpot's State of Inbound 2018 report found that 75% of global organizations primarily conduct inbound marketing, and 75% of organizations using inbound marketing say their strategy is effective. 

To put it simply, inbound marketing works in all industries. And when it comes to the healthcare world, it can be especially beneficial, even though healthcare marketing professionals experience a slew of unique challenges.

The Challenges of Healthcare Marketing


Healthcare is so vast and unique because it consists of a lot of different moving parts. Some healthcare companies target consumers, some sell to other businesses, and some even sell to both.

There are many reasons healthcare is such a tough industry for marketers. 

First of all, there is a lot of old school thinking at the top level. Many companies are stuck because leadership is preventing marketers from being innovative. They want the same old approach despite the fact that buyers are more informed and empowered than ever before.

Another huge challenge is the vast amount of specializations within healthcare. There are so many separate entities in the space of healthcare. For example, there are primary care facilities, hospitals, specialists, urgent care, pharmacies, and much more. 

Organizations often specialize in many areas, so it’s hard to hone messaging and stand out. When it comes to messaging, companies are limited to what they can say. There are plenty of regulations that influence how healthcare marketers can position their brand.

Plus, as with every industry, it's hard for healthcare marketers to see exactly how their efforts are performing. When you can't attribute results, it's hard to adjust your strategies to double down on what's working and to focus on where you can make improvements.

Fortunately, there is some evolution in healthcare marketing. Nearly 70% of healthcare marketing executives say they’re already using content marketing. 

Content marketing is just one piece of the inbound marketing pie. And if it's not being done correctly and not operating within a fully inbound approach, it won't yield enough results.

The Inbound Philosophy in Healthcare


The inherent nature of the inbound methodology – being helpful, human, and holistic – aligns perfectly with the nature of healthcare. No matter your audience, whether you’re patient facing or selling to businesses, being human, helpful, and holistic in your marketing is vital.

As consumer and patient behaviors have changed, inbound has become a necessity.

Research found that the way patients and consumers find healthcare solutions is moving more and more toward the digital landscape:

  • 73% of consumers use search engines to research treatment.
  • 83% of patients visit a hospital website before booking an appointment.
  • 41% of consumers say content found on social media will likely impact their choice of hospital or treatment center.
  • 43% of visits to hospital websites begin at a search engine.

As you can see, inbound marketing elements like search engine optimization (SEO), website design, and social media marketing are essential in the overall user experience.

Thanks to the inbound methodology, you can address the most pressing challenges within healthcare marketing.

The State of Inbound Today for Healthcare Marketing

As mentioned above, there are many challenges you face in healthcare marketing. Learn how inbound can be adopted and used to address these obstacles:

1. Getting Buy-In From Senior Leadership.

Your C-suite will likely need some convincing before they approve your budget for inbound marketing. While they may be stubborn to this change, there's one thing they can't deny – the cold hard facts. 


Outbound is long dead, and inbound is the new way to achieve real results. 

HubSpot's 2018 State of Inbound report found that just 18% of marketers say outbound practices provide the highest quality leads for sales, compared to 60% who say inbound provide the best leads for sales.

What's more, 53% of marketers say inbound marketing delivers higher ROI, compared to just 13% who said that outbound marketing gives higher ROI.

Additionally, their 2016 State of Inbound report found that 33% of inbound marketers and 16% of outbound marketers rank outbound marketing practices, such as paid advertising, as the top waste of time and resources. 

When you highlight these facts to senior leadership, make sure you also come to the table with a written strategy for your future inbound marketing campaigns. This way, they can see exactly how you want to change your entire marketing approach. 

2. Honing in on Messaging and Specialities.

This is especially hard if your company has multiple revenue streams and your marketing and sales teams aren't clear on priorities. 

Fortunately, content marketing, which plays a major part of the inbound marketing approach, helps you narrow down your focus and find what specialities you want to focus on for your target audience.

No matter how you determine your messaging, you want to focus on being helpful at the start. Inbound marketing thrives when you build trust with your audience from the get go. 

And the best way you can earn trust is by delivering helpful, relevant content to your audience consistently. Content marketers see this impact every day. In fact, 96% of the most successful content marketers say their audience views their organization as a credible and trusted resource.

Remember, your role as a marketer in healthcare is to educate first. That's the inbound way. And it's likely what most of your competition is already doing, so the best time to start educating your audience is right now. 

3. Connecting With Relevant Audiences.

Simply put, people love content. Research has proven the impact content can have on potential customers:

  • 82% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content.
  • 70% feel closer to a company as a result of content marketing.
  • 60% enjoy reading relevant content from brands.

As you can see, not only do people enjoy learning from brands, but they also experience positive feelings associated with those companies teaching them.


The best way to connect with the right people at the right time is to adopt the inbound marketing philosophy and to start conducting research and building buyer personas

The more you and your marketing team learn about who your company wants to attract and what those audiences' pain points are, the better off your team is at creating and conducting robust inbound marketing campaigns. 

4. Reducing Marketing Cost and Driving Tangible Business Results.

Marketing is always going to come with a substantial cost. After all, building an internal marketing team usually calls for at least a few new hires who specialize in important skill sets, like copywriting, design, and strategy. 

But your team needs direction, and compared to traditional marketing tactics, inbound marketing will cost your team far less in the long run. 

Content marketing costs a staggering 62% less than traditional marketing, and it generates about three times as many leads. And as you know, leads are what fuel your sales growth. 

Inbound Success Stories in Healthcare


The facts show the undeniable success of inbound in healthcare marketing, but there are also plenty of real life examples of big marketing wins from healthcare companies. For example, HubSpot shares several success stories from the healthcare industry.

Here are a couple of snapshots of the results some organizations have seen:

Earning More Qualified Leads.

An organization specializing in tissue procurement for pharmaceutical research needed to attract qualified prospects. They moved to HubSpot and used hyper targeted inbound marketing campaigns specific to diseases.

This way, researchers who focused primarily on certain diseases can find the exact content they needed in no time. Ultimately, this was a big win, and their website generated a lot more relevant traffic. 

Other big results include the following:

  • 250% month-over-month increase in lead growth
  • 35.6X ROI within six months
  • MQLs increase from 10% to 80% month over month

Attracting Diverse Audiences.

A company specializing in cryotherapy for both consumers and business owners needed a full suite of tools to allow them to conduct integrated inbound marketing campaigns to appeal to every segment of their diverse customer base.

Within HubSpot, this company followed the basics of the inbound methodology: They created personas within the marketing platform.

Then, with personas in mind, they created content, like equipment information for business owners and articles highlighting benefits of cryotherapy for consumers. This content was used in line with landing pages, smart CTAs, and smart forms to create leads and build profiles for each prospect.

They also used workflows to automate their lead nurturing efforts. With all of these HubSpot features working together, this organization delivered a truly unique, awesome experience for their audience. 

The results were amazing:

  • 146% increase in revenue
  • 128% increase in leads
  • 44% increase in website traffic

Other healthcare companies using HubSpot saw equally impressive results, including big boosts in organic traffic, traffic from social media, landing page conversions, and new customer.

Healthcare marketing doesn't have to be a hassle. With the right tools, mindset, and resources at the ready, you can turn your marketing efforts into a lead generating machine. 

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5 Social Media Trends Related to Healthcare

5 Social Media Trends Related to Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social Media is playing an increasing role in healthcare. That’s not surprising since 73% of adults who use the Internet use some of the social media platformsPhysicians also spend twice as much time consulting online resources than traditional print. Statistics also show that between 70 and 75 percent of U.S. citizens look to the internet for healthcare information.

We look at five cases in which social media impact healthcare:

Preparing for Crisis

The best thing one can do about a crisis is to be prepared for it. This is just what happened during the Boston marathon bombings. Doctors were alerted through social media and prepared themselves for the surge of patients.

Patient Education

Online tools, including social media, can help in the dissemination of medical information. For example informative YouTube Videos, they range from videos that show children how to properly put on bike helmets to full dental procedures.

Live Procedures

Presenting medical procedures to the current and potential patients through live stream videos is another way of educating the public. For example, in November 2013, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center live tweeted a full knee replacement surgery. This allowed 3,800 people to follow the surgery through Tweeter.


It is believed that the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society prevented 12 suicide attempts through the use of Facebook. They ask their patients to follow certain professional Facebook pages. The nurses then follow the posts and intervene at any sign of trouble.

Empowering Patients

Nowadays, patients have more information at their disposal than ever before. According to a report from the IMS institute, 42% of people have used social media to search for information on healthcare issues. Patients can now create support groups, make their voices heard and find information about rare conditions. It’s also easier for Doctors to reach a wider audience.

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Social media for doctors: The positives and the pitfalls

Social media for doctors: The positives and the pitfalls | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media can be a useful tool to promote your services and communicate with patients. However, it is very much a double-edged sword, with plenty of pitfalls for the uninitiated. It should be used with caution – as its immediacy, and ability to be rapidly disseminated to a wide audience, can create a potential trap.


The positives


  • Health awareness campaigns can reach a significant global audience through the use of social media hashtags, such as #AntibioticResistance or #MentalHealthAwareness.
  • Breakthroughs in health research or product recall notifications can be rolled out in real time.
  • Patients with no fixed address can sometimes be located through their social media channels when there is no other way to find them for urgent follow-up of results.



The pitfalls


  • Improper use of social media can have an impact on consent, confidentiality, professional behaviour and patient boundaries.
  • “Friending” patients can blur the line between personal and professional.
  • Using an emoji, or making a flippant comment about a stranger’s clinical situation on an open forum, can result in a complaint if you are identifiable as a doctor. When creating personal social media profiles unrelated to medicine, it may be prudent to leave out your profession and/or place of work.
  • It might be tempting to voice your opinion about contentious clinical issues on social media, but things can spiral out of control very quickly. And you may put your professional reputation at risk if the conversation becomes less than respectful.
  • Be mindful of piercings and tattoos evident on ‘de-identified’ photos.


Whether you are a regular user of social media, or you are tempted to dip your toe in the murky waters of cyberspace, it is important to remember that traditional professionalism standards still apply to online conduct. The casual tone of social media can lead doctors into a momentary lapse of judgement, which may negatively impact an otherwise unblemished career

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4 Types of Dental Content that Your Followers Will Like and Share

4 Types of Dental Content that Your Followers Will Like and Share | Social Media and Healthcare |

Creating sharable content is essential to building a social media presence that brings in new patients. Here are 4 types of social content that dental practices can use to get the most engagement on their social media platforms.  

1 – Informative

Your patients follow your dental practice on social media to obtain useful oral health information, and to learn more about dental care from an expert source – which is you. You can post images that help your audience understand more about the importance of oral health, or tips on how to better care for your mouth. 

Before posting, be sure to ask yourself if the content is useful and relevant to your audience, and make sure that your followers can take some tangible value away from your image. If your image makes people react, then they’re more likely to share it – exposing your dental practice to potential new patients in your community. 

2 – Funny

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

3 – Imperatives (Asking your Followers to do Something) 

A Call to Action (CTA) gives your audience clear directions right in the text of your post and implores them to act in a specific way. CTAs can be as simple as “like this post,” or a larger ask like “post your favorite photo with the hashtag #HappyTeeth.”

Whatever your CTA, be sure that it is clear and easy to accomplish. We suggest linking your image posts back to your dental practice website, which is an easy CTA that can inform new patients more about your practice and convince them to schedule an appointment.  

4 – Personal Photos of Staff or Patients 

Photos of real people – your staff and patients – are far more likely to be liked and shared than stock images. Sites like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest are by far the most popular image sharing social media platforms, and each can help brand your dental practice in front of large audiences. Using your own photos can take a bit of work but sharing your images on multiple platforms gives your dental practice more valuable local exposure and can earn you more patients.  

Image Sharing Takes Work 

Posting engaging content on social media takes more time than haphazardly posting content that your followers aren’t going to react to. Smile Savvy provides the most comprehensive approach to social media for pediatric dentists. We post for you, give you weekly ideas for your own original posts and provide unmatched social media consultations. Our unique pediatric dental focus means that we understand our clients and their audience.

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Do Online Health Seekers Trust Social Media? Surprising Results From A New Survey –

Do Online Health Seekers Trust Social Media? Surprising Results From A New Survey – | Social Media and Healthcare |

A new survey profiling how American adults access, use and feel about health-related information finds that most Americans who regularly seek health information are concerned about incorrect or misleading medical information on social media, and few have found health information on social media to be accurate.

These findings are consistent across generations. The survey, The Great American Search for Healthcare Information, was conducted among 1,700 Americans 18 years of age and older. It was commissioned by global communications and marketing services firm Weber Shandwick in partnership with KRC Research.

I find the results of this survey very interesting for a number of reasons. 

Firstly, it’s interesting to learn that the majority of online health seekers are concerned about incorrect or misleading medical information. This reassures me in a way because it means that, contrary to the pervasive belief that the public believes everything they read online, people are actually far more discerning.

It also underscores for me that patients aren’t looking to supplant knowledge from healthcare professionals with the information they find online. They still look to their healthcare providers as the source of credible health information.


Note that nurses, pharmacists, and eye doctors score higher than medical doctors in terms of satisfaction. This finding surprised me. The survey suggests that physicians may have a millennial problem.

The Millennial generation is least likely to be very satisfied with the information provided by medical doctors. In evaluating other attitudes toward physicians, the study suggests that doctors may be contending with a Millennial trust challenge. In addition to their lower satisfaction levels with information from doctors (on a basis relative to other generations), Millennials are the least likely generation to say they always listen to their doctor(s), the most likely to believe that online health-related information is as reliable as that from medical professionals and the most likely to say they trust their peers more than medical professionals.

Secondly, I find it disheartening that survey respondents are not finding accurate health information online. We know for a fact that accurate health information does exist online, so why are people not rating it higher?  Medical information websites fall just below average in terms of satisfaction (39 percent).

Finally, I’m a little surprised to learn that concerns about the accuracy of social health information are consistent across generations, including digital natives.

Gen Z, is just as likely to be concerned about incorrect or misleading information as the much older Boomer generation (91 percent and 87 percent, respectively). This suggests that social media comfort and proficiency do not have a bearing on perceptions of legitimacy, leading to the conclusion that it is the content or channel that is the challenge for health-related information communicators.

All of this adds up to a trust and credibility problem we need to urgently address.

A Wake-up Call for Healthcare Professionals

The healthcare industry is still lagging behind in delivering credible and relevant information to patients when and where they need it most.  Healthcare has much to learn from other industries who are adept at mapping the customer journey and providing relevant and timely information at each stage of the journey.

Earning Trust From Online Health Information Seekers

Within each problem lies its solution. To address the trust gap, the authors suggest the following fixes:

Prove your online credibility from the outset

  • information should be cited by a medical professional
  • it should cite a scientific study
  • it should be associated with a trusted brand
  • it should be cited by a trusted school or research organization

Design your content for discovery

By building content that is discoverable across multiple channels – online and offline – you can intersect your customers across their journey and ensure that they find the credible information they’re looking for.

Use succinct, clear and plain language in your communications.

Recognise that people are swimming in information and overwhelmed by the volume, creating confusion and perceptions of conflicting facts.

I would add to this list that it’s important to talk to patients in your offices about the information they find online. For more on this read What’s the Influence of Patients’ Internet Health Information-Seeking Behaviour on the Patient-Physician Relationship?

A Wake-up Call for Healthcare Professionals

In a post published in Physician’s Weekly, primary care physician Mikhail Varshavski, DO, is unequivocal that healthcare professionals’ failure to influence social media is responsible for the rise of misinformation online.

I used to consider the absence of quality physicians online merely a problem of missed opportunity. Now I’ve realized it is much more than that. If misinformation has the power to call in to question the validity of something as grand as an American presidential election, it certainly has the power to influence our patients’ everyday health decisions. The healthcare industry as a whole needs to advocate for more education and focus on this burgeoning global communication platform.

According to a 2017 survey by PM360 Online, only 9% of physicians engage with patients and other health care providers — this includes physicians who reply to comments, join group discussions or share helpful information and links on social media platforms – and as low as 1% of all health care professionals use social media to be content creators — publishing original content via blogs, forums, and websites.


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Dilemma: Patient shares a recorded consultation on social media 

Dilemma: Patient shares a recorded consultation on social media  | Social Media and Healthcare |

LMC view: Consider removing the patient from your list

My first question is, ‘why would my patient do this?’ Quickly followed by ‘can they do this?’ and ‘what can I do about it?’

For a doctor to be permitted to do this without consequences would surely be unthinkable. So is it right for a patient to post a recording of a consultation with you on Facebook without your approval?

Recording a private conversation without consent for personal use is not illegal,1 but the law is unclear on sharing such information.

As a minimum, arrange to meet the patient to discuss what they have done. Ask why they thought they needed to do this. Did they think you had done something wrong, or is it because they have the habit of sharing everything they do on social media? Personally, I believe it is good for patients to record consultations, as this enables them to review the shared information, so I would remind the patient they can openly record consultations for personal use. Then I would explain that I did not give them permission to share this on social media and if they continue to do so, I will remove them from the registered list, on the basis that this a significant breakdown in the doctor-patient relationship.

If they continue to post consultations on social media I would take steps to de-register the patient, following due process. Depending on what has been posted, I would also consider a formal legal opinion on whether to take further action.


Dr Elliott Singer is a GP partner in east London and a medical director at Londonwide LMCs

Medicolegal view: Ignore it – such posts usually disappear

The widespread availability of digital recording devices means it has never been easier for a patient to record a consultation.

There is little to be done if a patient records a consultation covertly. If the patient then posts the recording on Facebook or elsewhere on social media, irrespective of whether you have consented to the recording, you have two main options. The first is to take no further action – in most circumstances the recording is unlikely to reach a wide audience and taking action may draw attention to it.

Alternatively, you could contact the patient to explain that the Facebook post has come to your attention and invite them in to discuss your concerns. This will give the patient the opportunity to explain why they shared the recording publicly and provide you with an opportunity to ask them politely to remove it.

You should avoid commenting on or reporting the Facebook post – again, this is likely to draw attention to it and may provoke further comments or a backlash.

Depending on the individual circumstances, it is unlikely there will be an absolute legal remedy to compel the patient to remove the recording. However, if the post contains false or discriminatory information that is intended to damage your reputation, you should seek the advice of your medical defence organisation to establish whether there is a legal recourse is available to you.

It is understandable that GPs may feel frustrated that a patient can post a recording of a consultation without seeking their permission to do so. This can only be substantively addressed by legal reform.

Dr Richard Stacey is head of policy and technical at Medical Protection

GP social media expert: Ask Facebook to take the post down

First, contact the patient and ask them to take the post down. You could invite them to meet you at the practice, in case there is any aspect of the consultation that they would like to discuss. Explain politely that this is in respect of your rights to privacy and also out of duty to other patients who need reassurance that videos or audios of their consultations will not be published on social media.

Also explain that confidentiality and trust are of the utmost importance in the GP consultation and assert that both parties should respect these for the doctor-patient relationship to be meaningful and progressive.

If the patient resists, you can file a complaint through Facebook and request that the post be removed on the grounds that it was published without your consent, and recorded in a doctor’s consultation room. Facebook should consider the appropriateness of videos or audio recordings if done in public locations such as hospitals or surgeries, where one would expect privacy. Advise the patient you have taken this step, restating your reasons for doing so, and invite them to attend another meeting to discuss it.

Remember that the central issue here is the understanding of social media etiquette. In alignment with protocols in health and wellness coaching professions, where consultations may be digitally recorded and shared, practices should give patients clear guidance about the recording of consultations and the boundaries for this when they register. This guidance should include the requirement that any patient who wishes to record a consultation asks for consent beforehand, and that they should confirm they have read and understood the practice’s privacy policy.

Dr Aisha Malik is a portfolio GP and social media consultant in Manchester

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Winning The Social Media Game, 99% of Doctors Do It Wrong 

If you have ever wondered how to make social media work for you, you are not alone. 99.9% of doctors do social media wrong! In this webinar, you will lear
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Social Media Tips for Physicians

Social Media Tips for Physicians | Social Media and Healthcare |

hould otolaryngologists use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to expand their professional network, engage with patients, or promote their published research? Four physicians at a panel discussion at the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO–HNS) Annual Meeting in Atlanta on October 6, 2018, “#ENTSurgery: How Otolaryngologists Can Leverage Social Media to Promote Public Health, Disseminate Science and Build Their Professional Network,” said yes.

They offered their tips and potential pitfalls for social media use to fellow surgeons, who are increasingly online-curious. According to a 2018 study, social media was the preferred networking and communication tool for 22% of surveyed surgeons, and 70% of surgeons find social media useful for networking purposes, said moderator Alexander Langerman, MD, SM, a head and neck surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville (J Surg Educ. 2018;75:804–810).

Facebook and Twitter are the most popular platforms for surgeons, said Dr. Langerman, who noted that this session’s panel was arranged over Twitter—in just 24 hours. “All major healthcare professional conferences, organizations, and government and health policy agencies now have a social media presence. It is de rigueur,” said Dr. Langerman. “You can do a lot as a surgeon on Twitter. It is a great way to put yourself out there and get feedback.”

Curate Academic Information

Social media can seem crowded and noisy to a busy physician. Focus on curating academic information to enhance collaboration and stay up to date on surgical research, said Jennifer A. Villwock, MD, a rhinology and skull base surgeon at the University of Kansas Medical Center (@docwock). She also manages the Women in Rhinology account (@Women_Rhinology).

Consider how different readers may view your posts. “As you’re putting content onto the Internet, people don’t know your background, or what was happening with that patient or that research. It’s easy to post something that you think is benign and helpful, but it could be interpreted in different ways,” she said.

Professionals who read your tweets about your research may offer “pseudo-peer review,” said Dr. Villwock. “On Twitter, the peer review process is simplified. There’s a tweet, and then the ‘peer review’ is either retweeting, liking, or nothing. It offers a nice opportunity for potentially high-impact studies that may take a while to gain traction and gain a broader readership,” she added.

Curate information online by searching for hashtags related to research on specific topics, she said. One example: #UTI led her to tweets on post-surgical urinary tract infection management studies. “Social media is a great opportunity for that cross-pollination—how can we apply what’s being done in other fields to our field?”

Visual Abstracts

One rising social media-driven innovation is the visual abstract, or a single-slide, graphic summary of a study’s main findings, said Andrew M. Ibrahim, MD, MSc, resident surgeon at the University of Michigan (@AndrewMIbrahim). He quickly shared four visual abstracts with the audience on a glioblastoma therapy trial, a children’s sleep study, a commentary on patient-centered hospital design, and a survey on barriers to developing surgical scientists.

Figure 1. Visual abstracts, like this one created by Jennifer Villwock, MD, for Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology, are well suited for sharing via social media.

“You are not an expert in any of those topics, but in just one minute, I gave you the movie trailer version of each study,” said Dr. Ibrahim, who also published a study on visual abstracts’ utility for disseminating research for a broader audience (Ann Surg. 2017;266:e46-e48). Visual abstracts are found on the Twitter feeds of major academic journals, and they may be linked to soon (see Figure 1).

Dr. Ibrahim, who previously trained in architecture and design, is on the editorial board of Annals of Surgery. In 2016, he launched the visual abstract concept after he was “totally geeked out” by the journal’s paper on London trauma centers. He designed a bold, illustrated yellow slide encapsulating the study’s data. In one week, the visual abstract had 35,000 Twitter impressions, a 17-fold increase from a regular tweet about the same study. Readership of the full article tripled, so the journal staff created 100 more visual abstracts of its published studies in 2017.

More than 75 academic journals now use visual abstracts, along with national health agencies. Search for #VisualAbstract on Twitter to view examples, or go to for a free, online, open-sourced primer of visual abstracts and a template for creating your own.

Online Professionalism

Use the same professional judgment on social media that you use offline, said Heather Logghe, MD, surgical research fellow at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia (@LoggheMD) and the co-author of a paper on best practices for surgeons using social media (J Am Coll Surg. 2018;226:317–327).

“Know the rules of your institution” for social media use, including whether yours requires your bio to state that your opinions online are your own, she said. Use the elevator test, she said. “If you wouldn’t be comfortable sharing a tweet or a photo in a crowded hospital elevator, it definitely does not belong online.”

Go beyond HIPAA to safeguard patient confidentiality on social media, she said. Patients or their families may recognize that your tweet refers to their particular case even if you don’t reveal their names.

Even when you discuss controversial topics on social media, try to stay positive, said Dr. Logghe.

“One strategy I follow when tweeting about difficult topics is to avoid putting my own judgment on it,” she said. State the facts, but don’t personally attack people or institutions online. “I encourage you to not stray from the difficult topics. Just because something is controversial doesn’t mean you should avoid it.” Run your tweet’s wording by trusted colleagues before you post it, she suggested.

“Also: Don’t feed the trolls. Trolls are those people who tend to be negative, want to detract from your message, or have their own agenda,” she said. Reply once to negative responses to clarify your message or ask them to clarify their comment. If the person continues to argue with you, gracefully allow them to have the last word.

“Know that you can delete your tweets later. Think twice, post once,” she said. “If you’re thinking about deleting or that it wasn’t a good idea to tweet something, delete it. You can always repost it after you’ve thought it through.”

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Survey Weighs Effects of Patient Access to Health Info Online

Survey Weighs Effects of Patient Access to Health Info Online | Social Media and Healthcare |

wenty years ago, obtaining the latest information on health and well-being meant a trip to the library or the family physician's office for most people. But today, finding up-to-date health information can be as easy as tapping on a smartphone or clicking a mouse.


Having greater access to health information online has affected much more than how people take care of themselves. The results of a survey of family physicians conducted during the AAFP Family Medicine Experience in New Orleans in October show that easy access has substantially changed the ways FPs practice and communicate with patients.

"Our survey uncovered an interesting dynamic at play," said Robert Porter, M.D., editor-in-chief of the Merck Manuals, which conducted the survey, in a news release.( "While the ease and availability of online medical information instills confidence in family physicians, they believe 'Dr. Google' has the potential to introduce anxiety among patients."

Survey Details and Highlights

In the survey, family physicians answered seven questions on the increased availability of medical information online and its effects on patient and physician behaviors. A total of 240 family physicians who attended the conference completed the survey.

  • Results of a survey conducted during this year's Family Medicine Experience illustrate the effects of patients' access to online health information on the physician-patient relationship.
  • Of the 240 family physicians who took the survey, 97 percent reported that a patient presented to their office with misinformation from an online source.
  • The AAFP and other organizations have published guides that help patients find and evaluate online health sources for reliability.

Survey results revealed some positive aspects to patients' increased access to information. Sixty-four percent of FPs thought the expanded availability of medical information made patients more fluent in medical topics. Also, 60 percent of FPs thought the frequency of patient visits rose because a patient had read about a symptom or treatment online.

But that enhanced access also produced some unexpected outcomes. Although 82 percent of FPs thought that patients contacted their office or a nurse's line with a medical question more frequently than in previous years, 12 percent of FPs thought that patients contacted their office less frequently, and 29 percent thought that increased access to information had caused a decrease in the frequency of patient visits in recent years.

FPs also stated overwhelmingly that access to more information did not equal access to better information. Ninety-seven percent of FPs who took the survey reported that patients presented to their office with false or inaccurate information at some point.

In another point of concern, 79 percent of FPs thought the increased availability of medical information online made patients more likely to question their diagnosis or recommendation.

"In some ways, it's made appointments more complicated," one physician commented. "Patients search their symptoms online and see the worst-case scenarios, rather than the most common scenarios, so they come into appointments with more anxiety."

As a result, FPs often found themselves having to separate fact from fiction and steer patients in the right direction to get the most reliable information.

"We run into problems when patients go to online sources that aren't evidence-based medicine," explained another physician. "But patients aren't going to stop looking up their symptoms on the internet, so it's up to physicians to direct them to trusted sources."

A high percentage of FPs also reported using online sources in their own practices. Eighty-three percent of the FPs who took the survey said they regularly confirm a treatment or diagnosis using an online medical resource. Another 89 percent said that having regular access to medical information online made them more confident when interacting with patients.

Finding Reliable Sources: The Bottom Line

Anyone who uses the internet knows there's an enormous amount of health information online -- much of it false or misleading. But figuring out which sources are reliable is actually not that difficult. The AAFP,( the National Library of Medicine( and other agencies have all published guides that offer tips for finding and evaluating online health resources for reliability.

When talking about health, it's important that both family physicians and their patients use trustworthy sources. That's key to ensuring that physicians and their patients are on the same page when discussing care options, according to Jen Frost, M.D., medical director for the AAFP Division of Health of the Public and Science.

"The increased access to online health information has the potential to increase a patient's engagement in and understanding of their care," Frost told AAFP News. "But misinformation can make patient care more difficult and has the potential to cause harm.

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Why You Should Live-Tweet Your Next Conference –

Why You Should Live-Tweet Your Next Conference – | Social Media and Healthcare |

What is Live-Tweeting?

Live-tweeters use the hashtag relevant to the event they are tweeting about (which can usually be located on the conference’s website or Twitter profile). Twitter followers who cannot be at the event in person can follow along using the hashtag and this in turn expands the reach of the conference.

Live-tweeting enhances personal learning

Live-tweeting can also enhance your own personal learning as it requires you to listen more carefully and focus more sharply on the key details of a talk in order to better summarize what the speakers are saying. Furthermore, live-tweeting is a means of amplifying the conference experience, generating global reach and stimulating collaborative potential.

This learning is further consolidated with an archive of tweets on which you can reflect further after the event.  Sarah Chapman, whose work at the UK Cochrane Centre focuses on disseminating Cochrane evidence through social media, observes how this in-the-moment tweeting captures the immediacy and energy of the event: “Live tweeting can convey the atmosphere generated by a controversial or entertaining presentation in a way that will be lost by the time you get to look at the slides uploaded on the internet”.

Many times the original tweet will be supplemented by pertinent comments on Twitter from other conference attendees and also from those listening in online.  For example, someone may respond to a tweet by questioning the strength of the clinical outcomes of a study, or a practicing physician might respond with their experiences treating patients.  As a review published in J. Clin. Med. states: “The diversity of expertise and backgrounds that can communicate on Twitter is unique, and this exchange of information can be extremely beneficial.”

Live-tweeting enhances virtual learning

Reporting live from a medical conference or event allows you to provide valuable insights to those who are unable to attend in person.  Due to rising costs, concern about our carbon footprint and increasing time commitments, virtual attendance is becoming more commonplace at healthcare events – hence the rise in live-tweeting.

There are enumerate conferences and symposia to choose from these days, and that choice often becomes impossible due to the sheer diversity. Following attendees using meeting, hashtags permits in real-time remote access to the meeting, viewed through their interest / opinion spectrum. Wong, Wilkinson & Malbrain, Using social media in medicine to your advantage, with care!

Mark Brown, a UK-based mental health advocate, points out that “There have been many recent publications and events imploring us to have a national conversation about mental health.  Why then do so many fascinating discussions happen at conferences, uncaptured and inaccessible to people wanting to join them?”

Brown believes “this democratisation of access is vital if we want to broaden our mental health discussions and raise the level of sophistication in our arguments and debates. For this to happen we need some brave souls who know how to cover an event via live tweeting and who are prepared to do so out of a sense of public service.”

You might also like to read Make Your Mark at Medical Meetings with Social Media

This is the first in a two-part guide to live-tweeting.  In part 2,  I will share my tips for best practice in live-tweeting. Whether you are a conference organizer, a speaker, or an attendee these tips will help you make the most of the opportunity to report live from your next event.   

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New Facebook Group Admin Feature that Pharma Just Might Like

New Facebook Group Admin Feature that Pharma Just Might Like | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social Media Marketing Society posted on its closed Facebook group that Facebook is rolling out a new feature that will allow Facebook Group admins to anonymously remove a member’s post and give a reason why the post was removed.  Pretty cool, huh!

Note that this is for Facebook GROUPS, not Facebook pages.

This could be a handy little tool for pharmaceutical or healthcare marketers who have regulatory guidelines to abide by.  Of course, all Facebook groups should have engagement rules that are prominently visible to their members, but sometimes, people either don’t read them, don’t remember them or simply don’t care for them.

If somebody makes a first offence such as mentioning a product name and disease state in the same post (which is a big no-no in Canada since the post may be seen by consumers), the admin could remove the post and politely inform the member that the post was removed in order to follow regulatory guidelines, with a reminder and link to review the group’s policy.  If the offence is more serious or comes from a repeat offender, depending on the group’s tolerance policy, the admin may decide to give this person a chance and a warning if they wish to remain part of the group.  It goes without saying that this person would also receive the reminder and link to the group’s engagement policy.

I have checked my Facebook groups, but none of them have this feature yet.  Oh Facebook – always slowly rolling out new features and teasing those who don’t have early access!  Here’s a sneak peak at the pics that were posted by the Social Media Marketing Society.

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Social media shouldn’t erode ethics, Mujajati tells health practitioners –

Social media shouldn’t erode ethics, Mujajati tells health practitioners – | Social Media and Healthcare |

Health Professionals Council of Zambia (HPCZ) registrar Dr Aaron Mujajati has appealed to health practitioners across the country to always remember that they are still bound by the professional code of conduct.

Dr Mujajati said the coming of the Internet must not affect medical ethics in any way, and that the Council would not accept the type of behaviour that exposed the vulnerability of patients in health facilities.

Commenting of the rampant distribution of pictures of patients on social media by health workers, Dr Mujajati said, when he featured on Hot FM’s Frank on Hot show, Tuesday, that it was unfair to circulate pictures of a patient who had not given consent to the distribution.

He lamented that people were usually vulnerable when they visited the hospital, and that they need to always be assured of professionalism by practitioners.

“I was born at the border of the advent of the Internet. The advent of social media, I have lived both sides of life. Where there no was Internet, now there is Internet. And because now, we are in this information age and information moves very fast, some practitioners forget that these are just tools. Facebook is a tool for communication; it does not influence or change the practice of medicine. That’s why we constantly remind our practitioners that medical ethics have not changed because of social media; medical ethics have not changed because we live in the information age, no! You are still required to uphold those standards. It’s unfortunate, particularly with social media that people find it [okay] taking pictures of patients and put them on social media indiscriminately. That’s unacceptable and I would like to appeal to and remind practitioners out there that you are still bound by the professional code of conduct, you are still bound by those medical ethics, and as a Council, we will not accept that type of behaviour,” Dr Mujajati cautioned.

“People come to the hospital and they are very vulnerable. You know, when you go to the hospital, you are extremely vulnerable and you are at the mercy of this practitioner and you need to be assured that this practitioner will be very professional with you. You don’t want a woman go to the hospital and then you find they are sexually molested, that’s unacceptable! We want to make sure that when people go to these facilities, they are confident, they feel safe. Of course, human error happens, but people should have that confidence that when we go into these facilities, we will feel safe. And the Health Professionals Council in terms of its professional code of conduct, it’s very clear. For those who are in doubt, it’s even on our website and it’s easily accessible.”

Dr Mujajati, however, said health practitioners were allowed to take pictures of patients where consent was given.

But he insisted that health facilities must always employ licenced health professionals.

“A practitioner is allowed to take a picture of a patient’s medical condition, provided that practitioner can demonstrate or prove that they got a written consent from the patient. Even where written consent is given, the rules require that you hide all the identifiers of the patient. So, if it’s the face, you blur it; if it’s the names, you remove them. But the patient must also be made aware of what you are going to do with that material. Now, where there is no consent, it’s a problem and consent, it’s not just someone signing a piece of paper, it requires that the practitioner has fully explained to the patient and the patient fully understands and has made an informed decision. So, the issue of taking pictures is not new, practitioners have always taken pictures. They are important for training, consultation. But sometimes that privilege can be abused and that’s why management in these facilities need to keep a keen eye and continue constantly reminding the practitioners. That’s why we insist that institutions must employ practitioners who are licensed because their behaviour is regulated,” said Dr Mujajati.

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5 Healthcare Marketing Tactics Worth the Budget Investment

5 Healthcare Marketing Tactics Worth the Budget Investment | Social Media and Healthcare |

For in-house healthcare marketers, striking a balance among your goals, your time and your budget can be a headache. What you do yourself, what you decide to outsource and what you can afford can vary by quarter, and there's no easy answer for where you should place the most emphasis. 

Read on for key marketing tactics that are worth keeping in your budget.



One of the most common mistakes made among healthcare marketing teams is an overemphasis on the services they provide and too little focus on the impacts that those services have on their patients. When patients research who they want to have manage their health, they look for three key pieces of information—where the organization is, whether their treatment will be covered by insurance and how their treatment will impact them. If your website only talks about treatments you offer and fails to speak on the impacts those treatments have, then you've missed an opportunity to connect with patients on the things that are most important to them.



With the ever-rising cost of medical care, people are more cautious than ever about the healthcare provider they choose—especially for planned procedures. Because of this, it is your job as a healthcare marketer to ensure that the digital presences of your organization are full of positive reviews and that your patients feel comfortable referring others to you. To do this, make sure you're taking the time to follow up with your patients about the care they received. Find out their thoughts, gauge how likely they are to refer someone else to you and ask them for a review. Sometimes, caring enough to follow up is all it takes to swing someone's opinion in your favor.

Wondering how to get started? Check out 4 Key Takeaways You Should Get From Your Patient Surveys.


Social media allows healthcare marketers to connect directly with patients in a way that is both casual and conversational. Take advantage of this forum to drive digital testimonials of your physicians and care providers. Post a link to a physician's page on your website, and ask users about the impact that doctor has had on their health. Patients with positive experiences will love to provide glowing, off-hand reviews in the comments section, which will boost your reputation.



The key to generating website traffic rests in content creation. The SEO benefits of steadily generating relevant content on your website cannot be overstated. As if that weren't enough, consumers genuinely appreciate insightful, expert-generated content, and having that content on your website will boost your reputation and keep your organization top of mind. For tips and tricks on content creation, check out 5 Things Your Hospital or Clinic Website Content Should Do.


Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising was practically invented for the healthcare industry. With PPC ads, you can ensure that your hospital or clinic appears at the top of the page on certain searches. It's an incredibly effective way to begin the process of connecting with potential patients. Combined with a content-generation SEO strategy, pay-per-click ads offer peace of mind that your organization is appearing toward the top of Google's search results, which allows you to focus on the day-to-day tasks specific to your hospital or clinic

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Marketing keeps your patient base in the know

Marketing keeps your patient base in the know | Social Media and Healthcare |

Dentistry is going through a major transformation being driven by technology, which makes the dental profession more efficient, fun, and profitable. Practices that embrace this technological revolution see the positive results on a daily basis. Their use has reinvigorated the dynamic between dentist and team and, certainly, between dental office and patients. Technology reduces patient time in the chair, condenses multiple visits for treatment, and frees up your schedule for additional new appointments, while helping dentists deliver higher levels of comfort and convenience to patients.

Why then, does the dental community not give the same time and attention to marketing these innovations as they do adopting them? Thanks to innovative technologies like CAD/CAM single-visit dentistry, clear aligners, dental lasers, noninvasive oral cancer-screening, in-chair teeth whitening, and more, dentists are able to provide patients with a level of care and comfort that was unimaginable just a few years ago.

Unfortunately, the typical dental patient has no idea that these remarkable tools exist, what they do, or where to find them. According to the Futuredontics’ survey, “What Dental Patients Want,” nearly half (45%) of individuals between the ages of 45-54 said their decision to patronize a practice is based on its use of advanced technology. What’s more, many patients between the ages of 25-44 said that they would switch from their current dentist if they did not offer advanced technology treatment options.

Because most dentists don’t feature technology in their practice marketing, few practices are reaping the full benefit of their sizable investments in new technology. Dentists using the latest dental technologies enjoy a distinct marketing advantage that — when properly leveraged — has great patient appeal. The good news from a marketing standpoint is that any dental practice sophisticated enough to have invested in cutting-edge technology will likely already have all the marketing tools needed to successfully promote it to patients. The real challenge of marketing the benefits of dental technology is making sure you’re using all the tools at your disposal to their maximum effectiveness.

The golden rule of successful technology marketing: Think like a patient

Over-explaining the equipment is a frequent mistake. The simple fact is that patients don’t care about technology for technology’s sake. All they really want to know are the benefits (i.e., what’s in it for them), so be sure to keep clinical jargon to a minimum. You need to translate the advantages your technology offers into language the average patient can appreciate.

Generally speaking, the benefits with the broadest patient appeal are those that enhance their lifestyle with a minimum disruption to their day-to-day life. Patients want to hear about technologies that save time and reduce costs, or improve cosmetic appearance and promote peace of mind — but it’s up to you to get them to see it that way. Technology fails as a marketing tool if patients don’t know about it. And it fails if you tell them just what it does, not how it makes their life better.

Spreading the word

Here are the top seven ways to help you grow your patient-base and get the best return from your investment in dental technology.

No. 1: Website

It’s important to prominently feature your technological capabilities on your website for both new and existing patients. Use callouts or headlines to promote the specific benefits your technology offers, (e.g., “same-day restorations” or “safely whiten teeth up to eight shades,” and “state-of-the-art oral cancer screening in 5 minutes”). You should also consider adding separate pages dedicated to popular treatments like CEREC®, Invisalign®, and implants. These pages should include a brief — not overly technical — explanation of what the treatment does and a detailed breakdown of the many ways this amazing technology benefits patients (e.g., comfort, cost, appearance, timesaving). Ideally, your website will have a video that explains why so many patients today are choosing specific, technology-based treatments over more traditional methods or a video testimonial from a satisfied patient.

No. 2: New patient phone calls

It’s important to distinguish your practice as the high-tech, comfort-conscious office when speaking with new patients on the telephone. That’s why it’s crucial that your whole staff is well versed in the benefits of specific technologies like CAD/CAM systems, dental lasers, and digital X-ray imaging equipment, among others. Mentioning your technological capabilities offers the perfect opportunity to assure callers that you provide state-of-the-art care in a manner they’ll appreciate: efficiently, economically, and comfortably.

No. 3: Practice brochures

Be sure to display promotional brochures for the new technologies you offer in your waiting room and operatories. Your product sales representative may be able to supply you with preprinted marketing materials, or you can create your own brochure. If you opt to develop your own custom brochure, make sure it’s professionally written and designed. Depending upon the quantity you need, beautiful 4-color, 8 ½” x 11″ two-fold brochures can be printed for just pennies apiece at your local digital printer.

No. 4: Office tours

Office tours offer a unique opportunity to wow patients with your practice’s technical capabilities. They’re also the ideal time to explain the advantages of specific technologies and treatments. Come up with a simple script you and your staff can use to explain your technology to interested patients on their first visit.

No. 5: Existing patients

Your practice’s existing patients are your best candidates for new treatments. That’s because it is much easier explaining the benefits to a patient whose trust you’ve earned than folding it into the conversation when you’re trying to bring on a new patient. Talk about the benefits of technology during treatment; remind patients that you invested in this technology to make their experience better — and make sure they understand how specific high-tech treatment options are better than other methods.

No. 6: Social media

Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and especially Instagram are ideal for promoting your technology. You can post articles, coupon promotions, video testimonials, and before-and-after photos to generate interest in the benefits of each product. Be sure to always get a signed release before posting any photos or videos of patients.

No. 7: Patient communications

Patient communications (e.g., newsletters, social media, emails, special offers, postcards) are among the most cost-effective ways to let patients know that your practice offers a variety of advanced treatment options.

Smart marketing is a must

It must be reiterated that your practice’s use of advanced technology cannot live in a vacuum. You invested in the technology — now make sure to feature it prominently in your marketing, so both you and your patients enjoy its benefits. It’s important to use every tool at your disposal across all channels — traditional, digital, and social — to educate and motivate patients to seek out your quality of care. Do this, and you are sure to enjoy profitable production for years to come.

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Top 14 Plastic Surgery Marketing Strategies to Attract New Patients

Plastic, cosmetic, reconstructive, and other providers are struggling to gain their hold in their respective market territory. Elective care patients are weighing their decisions against factors like affordability, convenience, and benefits which is making things even more competitive.

A large part of the research to learn about different treatment options, providers, cost, maintenance, etc., is happening on the internet. Providers who are showing up with more authority across different online platforms are catching everyone’s attention and inevitably, obtaining more new patients.

In this post, we’ll share some plastic surgery marketing strategies that will help you stay ahead of the competition and increase your share of new patient acquisitions.

1. Target Higher-Value Potential Clients

Your ideal prospective patients are those who are mature and affluent enough to invest time, money, and efforts to receive your services. The best platform to target them is Facebook. Targeting options on Facebook go beyond just demographics. Annual income level, relationship status, dating interests, shopping behaviors, interests in beauty and related products, activities and purchases are some of the many other options that you can leverage.

Not just Facebook, Google Ads also allows for targeting potential users based on different parameters, including their income level.

2. Stay Connected with Previous Patients

Your previous (happy) patients are a great source of new referrals; and their word-of-mouth advertising is more effective compared to any other option. However, you’ll need to consistently feed them with something new about your practice or service, which they can share with others.

Staying connected with them through email newsletters, social media, and texts is a great way to keep them aware of the latest offerings and achievements of your practice. That way, they’ll always have something on their mind about you to include in their chats and conversations.

3. Improve Relationship with Unhappy Patients

In cases where it’s mostly the wrong expectations resulting in unhappiness, communication with the patient is the key for long-lasting relationships.

Offer a free appointment via text or phone call. Educate them on the used procedure, and show them some previous results to help them understand the reality. An even better option is to let them know about the exact results beforehand, so as to avoid any possibility of the wrong expectations. How? Read the next strategy.

4. Offer a Free ‘Photoshop’ Consultation

Many potential clients, because of their fear of a botched surgery, back off even after taking a consultation. The best way to ease that fear is to show them what exactly they’ll look like after the surgery. This will totally eliminate the possibility of a situation caused by wrong expectations.

With technologies like Adobe Photoshop, it’s as simple as taking a picture of the to-be-altered body part and manipulating it on a computer in front of your patient’s eyes. Visually being able to see the results will put them into a completely different mindset and they would feel confident to take the surgery.

5. Build an Effective Plastic Surgery Website

No matter where potential patients hear about you, they’ll search online and eventually land on your website to learn more. It’s crucial that your website is effective enough to persuade visitors to take actions. It should be visually and layout-wise non-confusing and logical, and it should convey your value proposition.

Before and after images, patient testimonials, and any mentions of individual awards and certifications are the other things that your plastic surgery marketing website should prominently display.

6. Dominate Google Search Results

One of your main goals is to appear on the first page of searches when people in your area look for your services online. Searches like “best plastic surgeon near me,” “top nose job specialist in [your city name],” etc., generally indicate strong purchasing intent and that’s why getting traffic for these is extremely valuable.

You can easily rank for those keywords with local search optimization (SEO) strategies such as local directory listings of your site, maintaining NAP (name, address, and phone number) consistency, adding location pages to your site, creating local content, online reviews, local link building, social media community management, etc.

7. Utilize Paid Searches for Instant Ranking

Local search organic ranking methods, as given above, are an excellent way for long-term benefits; but, you can’t always wait for the organic methods to show the results. That’s where Google’s Pay-Per-Click (PPC) comes into the picture. PPC is where you bid on Google Ads’ auction system to place your ads for relevant and high intent local search terms. Your budget and the placement of your ad will depend on the competition.

With PPC, you get complete control over your site’s local search ranking.

8. Establish Your Authority with Content

If your website is the vehicle, content is the wheels that help it drive it to its target audience. Publishing relevant, educative, and engaging branded content is a great way to improve your site’s chances of ranking for keywords in searches. It also helps in building your brand as an expert in plastic/cosmetic surgery.

Create a blog page on your site and post useful and relevant content such as blog posts, case summaries, infographics, and videos. Always try to target relevant keywords in your blog posts. Try gaining more exposure with content outreach opportunities and distributing your content through various social media platforms.

9. Follow Your Website Visitors with Remarketing

Prospective plastic surgery patients generally do not convert on the first visit on your website. By the time they are ready—after having considered other options—they may have already forgotten you.

With Remarketing, you can keep yourself on top of their mind during their entire research phase. A cookie or pixel (a piece of code) is stored on their system through their browser when they visit your website, which allows you to display ads (including the Facebook ads) on any site they access from the same browser for a defined period.

10. Manage Your Reviews and Reputation

Reviews play a significant role in your prospective patients’ decision-making process. That’s why you need to gather as many reviews as possible. If your service is top notch, you’ll receive mostly positive reviews that will add to your reputation. However, as no one is perfect, you may receive a few negative reviews which can be disastrous for your online reputation.

Employing an online reputation management (ORM) solution can help you efficiently manage every aspect related to online reviews—collecting them, directing them to review sites, responding to them, and even analyzing them to learn different aspects about your service and the overall patient experience.

11. Publicize Your Rave Reviews

Patients trust reviews as equally as personal recommendations, so why not amplify their reach to the maximum number of patients? Select some of the rave reviews and sprinkle them as testimonial quotes throughout your website. You can also use relevant quotes in marketing campaigns for specific procedures.

Moreover, you should also create a testimonial page on your site and regularly update it with positive reviews, especially those which mention specific value points about your practice. Those words will be added up to the weighted pages, and as the testimonial page will be indexed regularly by Google, it will also help in your search rankings.

12. Improve Your Social Media Listening

Having a way to listen to social media conversations is crucial as it lets you keep track of general patient opinion and learn about your areas of improvement. Those learnings can be utilized for different purposes, like creating more value-centric ad campaigns and making needed changes in staff behavior and clinic culture.

One of the best ways to listen to social media conversations is by using social analytics tools like Netbase. These tools use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analyze social conversations. Their intuitive reports and charts help you understand the prevalent public opinion about your brand, and let you compare it (your brand) with your competitors.

13. Leverage Facebook with Theme Engagement

Facebook’s highly-sophisticated advertising engine lets you narrow down your audience by specifying a number of targeting options. Why not use this feature to identify themes that are not directly related to plastic surgery, but are useful (in some way) to its target audience?

For example, mothers of children who play soccer may be interested in learning about sports-injuries related topics like protection from sun exposure, the effect of dehydration on the skin, non-surgical fat-reduction, and early-stage treatments and procedures, etc. By catching their attention with high-interest informative pieces of content, you can establish yourself as a credible source of information and build a fruitful relationship with them.

14. Increase Budget Spend on Videos

Video is the hottest form of content online. By 2021, 80% of internet traffic will be coming from videos. Most of the video content will be consumed through social media platforms and YouTube. This calls for increasing the budget spend on videos in your social media marketing strategy. Patient testimonial videos, short explanatory videos about a procedure, and candid videos of the staff are some of the highest performing forms where you need to invest your time, money, and efforts.


The time to expand your practice is now! Just relying on your superior procedures to get more patients cannot guarantee growth anymore; especially, when there are others in your vicinity who are promising the same or maybe even better service. You’ll need to catch your prospective patients’ attention.

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Reliance on 'YouTube medicine' may be dangerous for those concerned about prostate cancer

Reliance on 'YouTube medicine' may be dangerous for those concerned about prostate cancer | Social Media and Healthcare |

The most popular YouTube videos on prostate cancer often offer misleading or biased medical information that poses potential health risks to patients, an analysis of the social media platform shows.

Led by researchers at NYU School of Medicine and its Perlmutter Cancer Center, the study of the 150 most-viewed YouTube videos on the disease found that 77 percent had factual errors or biased content in either the video or its comments section.

Publishing in the journal European Urology online Nov. 27, the study also found that 75 percent of the videos fully described the benefits of various treatments while only 53 percent sufficiently captured potential harms and side effects. Another 19 percent recommended alternative or complementary therapies that are largely unproven, say the study authors. They cite one potentially harmful example in which a video promoted "injecting herbs" into the prostate to treat cancer, an assertion not backed by medical evidence.

Researchers say the YouTube audience for these videos was large, with average total viewership at 45,000 but as high as 1.3 million. More than 600,000 prostate cancer videos are posted on the social media platform.

"Our study shows that people really need to be wary of many YouTube videos on prostate cancer," says study senior investigator and urologist Stacy Loeb, MD, MSc, who chairs a panel of social media experts for the American Urological Association (AUA). "There is valuable information available in them, but people need to check the source to make sure it's credible and to beware of how quickly videos become outdated as care guidelines constantly evolve with the science."

In addition, only 50 percent of the videos analyzed describe "shared decision-making," the current standard of care in prostate cancer screening and treatment, says Loeb, an assistant professor in the urology and population health departments at NYU School of Medicine.

The latest American guidelines, revised last year, recommend that men between the ages of 55 and 69 should talk to their doctors about the risks and benefits of blood-test screening for prostate cancer. Loeb says many popular videos predate this change and also encourage more aggressive treatment than is now considered medically necessary for low-risk disease.

Loeb says care providers should direct their patients to trusted sources for information on prostate cancer. She also encourages other physicians and providers to participate in social media platforms like YouTube to produce videos that offer evidence-based advice.

Credible sources for online information about prostate cancer, Loeb says, are widely available and include the Prostate Cancer Foundation, which helped fund the current study; the Urology Care Foundation, the AUA's website for patients; and the National Cancer Institute, among others.

Loeb says the volume of videos on YouTube makes it impractical for medical experts to continually review them all as part of any "policing" effort. But, she says, physicians and other viewers should use the YouTube reporting feature for alerting its officials to videos that promote misleading information.

For the latest analysis, Loeb and her team, which included social media experts, evaluated each video's educational value based on more than a dozen features, including accuracy, level of misinformation, and commercial bias. Previous studies on prostate cancer videos, she notes, were smaller and did not use standardized techniques to evaluate their content.

In addition to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, funding for the current study was provided by the Blank Family Foundation. Loeb also reports having received travel, speaking, consulting fees, and/or honorariums from manufacturers of, and service providers related to prostate cancer therapies, including Sanofi and Lilly. Her spouse also has a financial interest in Gilead. All relationships are being managed in accordance with the policies of NYU Langone. Her study co-investigators report relationships with Mundipharma Australia, Janssen Australia, Ipsen Australia, MSD Australia, Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network, Teva, and ISMAR Healthcare.

Besides Loeb, other NYU Langone investigators involved in the study are Rebecca Robbins, PhD; Scott Braithwaite, MD, MS; Lingshan Gao, MS: Nataliya Byrne, BA; Dawn Walter, MPH; and Aisha Langford, PhD, MPH. Additional study investigators include Shomik Sengupta, MD, at Monash University in Victoria, Australia; Mohit Butaney, MD, at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; Joseph Macaluso, MD, at Louisiana State University in New Orleans; and Stefan Czarniecki, MD, at the HIFU Clinic Prostate Cancer Center in Warsaw, Poland.

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How to repurpose your content on social media?

How to repurpose your content on social media? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Have you ever thought about how you could repurpose your content? It takes a lot of effort to create content for social media and when you’re on more than one platform, it can seem like a lot of work to keep up with. That’s why to save yourself some stress and a lot of work, you need to know how to properly repurpose your content and your social media posts into other pieces of content that you can use to market your practice.

Sometimes, you need to spend less time creating content, and spend more time promoting the content you have already created. Why? Because your content should do a lot of the work and heavy lifting for you and make it easier for you to get your message out there and attract the right type of patient that belongs in your office. Plus, I know you’re busy! That’s why I’m suggesting you repurpose your content.

But, if you’re only posting your content in one place and using it one time, then you’re doing your content and your marketing efforts a huge disservice. If the idea of repurposing and using your content more than once seems a bit weird or confusing, I wanted to share with you three creative ways you can get started and repurpose your content.  And yes, you can use your content more than once and for more than one thing.

Before I dive into the three creative ways to repurpose your content on social media, I want to make sure that you know exactly what it means to repurpose your content. Put simply it means to use a single piece of content in more than one way and for more than one thing. This means that you may create the content for one thing and use it to build another piece of content. Makes sense, right?

Okay, now let’s dive into these three creative ways to repurpose your social media posts and content.

1 | Turn Your Post Into An Email

As you get a lot more serious about marketing your practice on social media, email marketing should definitely be added to your overall strategy. You can take your posts, and definitely your best performing post, and send those to your email list in a monthly newsletter. Social media is becoming more and more crowded, and a great way to get in front of your ideal patients in a much less crowded and more focused space, is to send your posts to your email list.

When it comes to using your post for your email list, you want to keep these three things in mind. The first thing is that you should expand on the content for your list as longer content does great, the second thing is that visuals are still important when sending emails, and three it’s okay to repeat things that you think your audience has already heard before.

2 | Turn Your Post Into A Blog Post

If you’re writing a lot of smaller posts for social media then you can take those posts and turn them into more in-depth blog posts. Having a blog, much like having your own email list, is a place that you can share content that is focused on you and your practice. When you take your social media posts and combine them for your blog you’re making the content that you’ve created even more valuable for your ideal patient.

When you put your content on your blog, you are now taking your content and putting it into one place so that your ideal patients can come and digest it all. A great way to start with repurposing your content for your blog is to gather a few of the top tips that you have shared on social media and create an in-depth post for your blog.

3 | Cross-Promote Your Content on Platforms

If you are on multiple different platforms you can take your content and cross promote it. So, this could look like taking your Instagram posts and break them into smaller bite-sized posts and share those on Twitter. Or you can take your Instagram posts and share them on your Facebook page. If one of your topics did well on Instagram, you can turn that piece of content into a video for Instagram TV or youtube. Wherever you hang out on social media, you can easily take your content for one platform and then share it on other platforms.

There you have it, three creative ways to repurpose your social media posts. It doesn’t have to be complicated or add any extra work for you. You can really take it slow and implement different ways to get more mileage out of the content you have already created. The more content that you create the more that you have to work with, and the easier it will be to get your message out there.

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is social media the answer to the support desired by people with rheumatoid arthritis a qualitative exploration

is social media the answer to the support desired by people with rheumatoid arthritis a qualitative exploration | Social Media and Healthcare |

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) typically affects small joints of the hands and feet in a symmetrical pattern [1], causing synovial inflammation and joint destruction, muscle atrophy and loss of function [1,2]. The pain and joint deformity are often associated with disability, depressive symptoms, a negative impact on social relationships and poorer health related quality of life [3-5]. Key to more successful outcomes in chronic disease are effective self-management strategies [6], particularly as long-term conditions such as RA have been associated with poor treatment adherence and less positive outcomes [7]. 

Social media encompasses services including blogs, wikis, virtual worlds and social networking sites that utilise platforms to integrate participation, communication, user-centerdness, collaboration and openness [8]. Social media usage continues to grow worldwide with a projection of 2.77 billion users by 2019, up from 2.46 billion in 2017 [9]. In the UK, almost three quarters of adults use mobile devices for internet access, more than double the number reported in 2011 [10]. Social media is now part of daily life for many, routinely used for entertainment, education, financial management, and increasingly for health information and support [11]. 

Those with chronic disease are more likely to use social media to access health literature and aid self-management [12]. Users create and link networks of people with shared interests/experiences in a user-centric and collaborative manner, which could play an important role in patient-centred care [9,11,13]. Virtual worlds and online discussions have facilitated the creation of a collective forum of knowledge about chronic medical conditions that was seldom previously accessed [12]. Using social media to access information can empower and support those with RA and provide an alternative resource that will reduce the burden of treatment and ease social pressures [12]. In chronic disease management where lifestyle behaviours can have an impact upon people’s wellbeing, this approach is valuable [11,14]. Social media may not only ease the burden of self-management in chronic disease, but also offer opportunities to meet patients’ needs that are not met in traditional face-to-face clinical encounters [15]. Potentially, health professionals could share accurate, real-time health information while maintaining professional boundaries and patients’ privacy rights [11, 14-16], the latter being a particular concern for patients and professionals alike [17]. 

Software applications (apps) are computer programmes designed to run on mobile devices (smartphones, tablets or smartwatches). The use of apps on mobile phones has increased considerably, and varies with the user’s context, location and the time of day [18,19]. In healthcare, many apps can assist practitioners with day-to-day tasks (time management, e-records, consultations, information gathering, patient monitoring, and so on) [19], and in some chronic diseases, such as diabetes, apps currently exist to aid self-management [18,19]. A recent systematic review concluded that mobile devices with enabled apps could perform important roles in patient education, self-management, and remote monitoring [20]. 

In RA, disease activity calculators [20] and forums for symptom reporting [21] do exist, but there is limited evidence of social media usage, or of professionals recognising the potential role of apps in the self-management of inflammatory arthritis. 

This study aimed firstly to explore the use of social media and of apps by people with rheumatoid arthritis. Secondly to determine whether current technologies are used to manage health and wellbeing, as relatively little is known about patients’ perspectives and motives for social media usage in this chronic condition. 

  1. Materials and Methods 

3.1.  Study Design 

A qualitative exploration was implemented using semi-structured, face-to-face and telephone interviews with people with RA. A modified Interpretative Phenomenological Approach (IPA) was adopted, [22,23] allowing for a rigorous exploration of idiographic subjective experiences as applied to practice [24-27]. 

3.2.  Interview Schedule Development 

The draft interview schedule was developed following an Arthritis Research UK (ARUK) Stakeholders’ Education Day in which the researcher [SP] facilitated a group discussion entitled ‘Delivery of patient information in the 21st Century: opportunities and challenges’. In that discussion, expert patients, consultant rheumatologists, podiatrists, specialist nurses, physiotherapists and members of the ARUK directorate covered topics including social media, education and patient experience. Field notes and a transcribed recording of the discussion were utilised to inform the interview schedule. In line with methods adopted by Turner and Coyle [28], findings from our review of the literature surrounding social media and RA were also employed to inform the interview schedule. The key areas for exploration included: perception and experience of rheumatoid arthritis, use of social media, and the role of software applications in disease self-management. 

A draft schedule was distributed amongst the research team and amended prior to the pilot study, then piloted in two telephone interviews to ensure face and content validity. Following these pilot interviews, it was further refined by including additional questions and prompts. These modifications were made in an attempt to capture a complete illustration of the disease and its impact on the lives of the respondents, from diagnosis to the present day. The initial interview schedule formed the basis for conversation, with minimal additional prompts [22]. It was used to facilitate the gathering of verbatim participant accounts; a central premise of IPA [23]. Open-ended questions were posed to allow for the introduction of new topics [29] and to ensure that participants’ observations on the subject were not restricted. 

3.3.  Subjects and setting 

The University of Brighton granted ethical approval. A purposive sample of people with RA, aged over 18, with a positive diagnosis of RA and an existing interest in, or knowledge of, social media were invited to participate via email, tweet and Facebook post from the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) and Arthritis Research UK (ARUK). Those interested opted to participate and information about the study were emailed in order to gain informed consent. Interviews (either face-to-face or telephone) used the same interview schedule by one researcher (SP), throughout (Table 1).

Interview Schedule

3.4.  Data Analysis 

Each interview was audio taped and transcribed verbatim independently, pseudonyms were applied to maintain anonymity [30]. Data were firstly analysed using NVivo (v11) and indexed according to nodes and clusters [31]. Secondly, close reading and re-reading of the transcripts ensured familiarity with the text [22,32]. Preliminary themes were identified, followed by groups of themes and clusters. Themes were selected based on their prevalence within the transcripts. Similarities, differences, articulacy and eloquence of the participants in their explanations were noted in an attempt to reduce bias when selecting themes [33,34]. Collating the data from both analyses (NVivo and close reading) resulted in the final themes [33]. A final re-reading of the original transcripts was made to ensure that interpretations were grounded in the participants’ narratives [35]. Once the themes were formulated, these were checked by one of the research team [SO] to ensure the credibility and trustworthiness of the data [36,37]. The use of verbatim quotes is central to IPA [28] and exemplars have been included (using pseudonyms) to articulate each theme [29].

  1. Results 

Of the 25 people recruited, 14 participated (8 telephone interviews, 6 face-to-face interviews). All participants were female (mean age 38.5 (SD 9.9)), and mean disease duration was 12.2 (SD 15.9) years. The demographic data is detailed in (Table 2).

In total, four major themes were identified, which are described in detail below and illustrated with verbatim interview extracts. 

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Social media as a tool for assessing patient perspectives on quality of life in metastatic melanoma: a feasibility study

Social media as a tool for assessing patient perspectives on quality of life in metastatic melanoma: a feasibility study | Social Media and Healthcare |

Development of innovative drugs for melanoma is occurring rapidly. Incremental gains in overall survival amongst innovative products may be difficult to measure in clinical trials, and their use may be associated with increased toxicity profiles. Therefore, HTA agencies increasingly require information on HRQoL for the assessment of such drugs. This study explored the feasibility of social media to assess patient perspectives on HRQoL in melanoma, and whether current cancer- and melanoma-specific HRQoL questionnaires represent these perspectives.


A survey was distributed on the social media channels of Melanoma Patient Network Europe to assess melanoma patients’ perspectives regarding HRQoL. Two researchers independently conducted content analysis to identify key themes, which were subsequently compared to questions from one current cancer-specific and two melanoma-specific HRQoL questionnaires (i.e. EORTC QLQ-C30, EORTC QLQ-MEL38, FACT-M).


In total, 72 patients and 17 carers completed the survey. Patients indicated that family, having a normal life, and enjoying life were the three most important aspects of HRQoL for them. Carers indicated that being capable, having manageable adverse events, and being pain-free were the three most important aspects of HRQoL for patients. Respondents seem to find some questions from HRQoL questionnaires relevant (e.g. ‘Have you felt able to carry on with things as normal?’) and others less relevant (e.g. ‘Have you had swelling near your melanoma site?’). Additionally, wording may differ between patients and HRQoL questionnaires, whereby patients generally use a more positive tone.


Social media may provide a valuable tool in assessing patient perspectives regarding HRQoL. However, differences seem to emerge between patient and carer perspectives. Additionally, patient perspectives did not seem to fully correlate to questions posed in cancer- (i.e. EORTC QLQ-C30) and melanoma-specific (i.e. EORTC QLQ-MEL38, FACT-M) HRQoL questionnaires examined

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How Social Media Usage Affects Doctor To Patient Relationships

How Social Media Usage Affects Doctor To Patient Relationships | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media has made a significant impact on every aspect of our lives. Healthcare is no exception. The increasing usage of social networks among both practitioners and patients has proven to cast a positive impact on the overall healthcare quality.

Specifically, social media largely contributes to how we choose our healthcare providers. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, 41% of patients said that social media content impacted their choice of hospital or physician.


Another massive study conducted at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, indicates that social media has even a stronger impact on doctor-patient relationships. After analyzing over 1,700 articles, researches identified that the patients' use cases of social media can be grouped into six categories:

  • Emotional
  • Informational
  • Esteem
  • Network Support
  • Social Comparison
  • Emotional Expression

Each of these use cases presents different effects on patients and, at the same time, affect their relationship with the healthcare provider in the following manner.

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Social media usage leads to more equal communication between doctors and patients

Social media has become a popular tool for patients to expand their knowledge about their condition and treatment options. For example, 29% of patients peruse social media to view other patients’ experience with their disease and 42% browse social media platforms to discover health-related consumer reviews according to PwC.

Consequently, by increasing their knowledge, patients come more prepared to the consultations. They can communicate with their doctor better and know what kind of questions to ask. According to Kevin Meuret, CEO of Mantality Health, “Social media usage makes patients more inclined to actively communicate with their doctor during the medical consults in the first place. Growing conversations on social media about  ‘stigmatized’ conditions such as low testosterone levels or psoriasis send a powerful message to other sufferers and encourage their willingness to seek medical attention.”

For instance, the Psoriasis Association has launched a massive awareness campaign on Instagram, encouraging users to share images of their condition using #getyourskinout and #psoriasiscommunity. Dominic Urmston, digital communications officer at the charity, explained that “Users can find people who share similar experiences who they can chat to and support one another. Also, it empowers them so they can share images of their psoriasis and post about their experiences too”. As a result, the condition becomes less stigmatized and more people are encouraged to weigh in on various treatment options and speak about them with their healthcare providers.

Social media contributes to increased switching of doctors

On a less bright note, social media can contribute to the patient’s likelihood to change their provider multiple times. 44% of users look up information about doctors or other health professionals before scheduling a visit. Patients now pay more attention to negative reactions shared by other users. And can choose to switch doctors after participating in an online discussion with another patient. Social media reviews have had the most effect on provider choice for patients who are coping with a chronic disease, try to manage their diet or stress.

Social media helps develop more harmonious doctor-patient relationships

“Social media often empowers patients to follow physician's recommendations and stick with the proposed treatment plan, especially if they become part of a social media support group,” said James Bayliss, CEO of Vaper Empire. “This, in turn, creates less tension between the doctor and the patient during clinical interactions.”

Additionally, social media often provides patients with space to "vent" their negative emotions and frustrations with the condition, instead of doing so in front of the doctor.

However, the research further identified a missed opportunity – patients tend to rarely empower one another to seek alternative treatments if their current one doesn’t bring the results they want.

Social media content can result in suboptimal interactions between doctors and patients

Social media and online publishers have given us accesses to an enormous amount of scattered health information. Millennials, in particular, are more inclined to follow online health advice and rely on information shared by their peers, instead of scheduling necessary appointments with specialists.

“When patients bring social media content to consultation, along with their strong opinions on the matter, healthcare professionals are forced to spend time on sorting and verifying that information,” said Dali Dugan, CEO of HealthworxCBD. “As a result, they feel that their expertise is being challenged and that can impact their behavior with the patient during the session. Negative reactions from the doctor can affect the patient’s subjective well being, making them feel disempowered.”

And those professionals, who are willing to take an extra mile for their patient and look through the information, face an increased risk of making the wrong judgment by being presented incomplete or questionable data from unverified sources.

The bottom line is this: as a patient you should treat information sourced online with extra judgment. While it can be helpful to increase your overall understanding of the condition and guide you towards asking the right questions from your practitioner, it should not be treated as the ultimate source of truth or leveraged to question the doctor's expertise.

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Excerpt: The increasing use of social networks among both practitioners and patients has proven to cast a positive impact on the overall healthcare quality.


Specifically, social media largely contributes to how we choose our healthcare providers. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, 41% of patients said that social media content impacted their choice of hospital or physician.

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How to Check a Doctor's Background and Credentials

How to Check a Doctor's Background and Credentials | Social Media and Healthcare |

One important step in choosing the right doctor is to do a background check on that physician. You can research a doctor's credentials to be sure he or she is competent to take care of you.

It's not always possible to research ahead of time. For example, you may be assigned a doctor in an emergency room or you must see a different doctor because your's is out when you arrive for an appointment. You may not have the time to do research on that doctor before you are examined but you can do so as soon as possible afterward. If you find you don't like that doctors' background, you can try to change doctors later.

Where to Start in Checking a Doctor's Credentials

To research a doctor, you'll need to start with his or her name and location. Go to the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) website to check the basics with their search function. You will find the doctor's board certifications, education, states with active licenses, and any actions against the physician.

  • License: Each state licenses doctors. With no license, the doctor is not allowed to practice medicine. You can further research the doctor with the state physician licensing board in each state where he or she is licensed.
  • Board-Certified: Doctors may claim various board certifications in medical specialties. These credentials are verified by medical facilities who employ them or grant them privileges, but you may check board certification as well. Doctors may be board-certified in one area, but actually practicing in a different area of medicine.
  • Medical School and Residency: For an older doctor, this may be less important than one who is younger and just getting started in practice. You may not know how old a doctor is when all you have is a name, so this information will give you some insight into his or her background and education credentials. The FSMB site shows medical school education and graduation dates. In some states, there will be more information about residency on their licensing site. For others, you'll get the information most quickly at a site like UCompareHealthcare.
  • Actions: These are related to malpractice or other disciplinary actions brought against the physician. There will be only basic information, but this is a prompt to search further with the state licensing board and online searches.

The Age of the Doctor

There are three reasons you want to establish an approximate age.

  1. If a doctor is quite a bit older than you are, and may retire or leave practice before you get older yourself, then you may want to keep searching for one who is younger, or at least closer in age to you. If your medical problem is acute, then this will be less important. However, if your symptoms or diagnosis are chronic, you'll want to establish a relationship with a doctor who can treat you during the rest of your lifetime.
  2. You may be interested in seeing a doctor who has been in practice a long time and is therefore very experienced. Conversely, you may be interested in a younger doctor who has been taught in medical school to use more modern equipment or may be more up-to-date on research in a specialty area.
  3. It will help you establish whether longevity is a deciding factor in seeing this doctor.

Length of Practice

You may be able to assess how long a physician has practiced in one place at your states' medical licensing board site, or it may require one of the online doctor listing sites. For example, if a doctor is 50 years old, but appears to have been practicing in his or her location for fewer than 10 years, that indicates an interruption in his or her practice.

An interruption may be due to a variety of circumstances. For example, a doctor may have decided to move to Florida and will retire in a few years, or he may have lost his license due to negligence in another state before moving to their current location. Longevity may give you a sense of how much more digging you need to do into possible problems.

If the doctor has not been licensed for as long as you think he or she should have been, then do some general digging on the web using that doctor's name and possibly other states' names to see if you can turn up his or her former practice. That may give you a clue as to why the doctor moved.


Hospital Affiliations

Doctors must apply for privileges to admit and treat patients at hospitals. If you have a preferred hospital, it is important that the doctor has privileges to practice there. Some sites will note which hospitals a doctor is affiliated with. These facilities do additional and ongoing checks of the doctor's credentials, which can be an assurance of their validity.


Malpractice, Disciplinary Actions, and Online Ratings

A doctor may have reported problems for anything from a bad attitude to an unclean office to malpractice. Problems for others may become problems for you. The FSMB site will list any actions related to medical malpractice, but you may want to do further web searches for the doctor by name for suits that may be pending.


To find general commentary about a doctor's practice, you might turn to some of the online doctors' ratings sites. However, be aware that these ratings are subjective and may have been influenced in many ways.


Has the Doctor Published Medical Research on Your Diagnosis or Condition?

If the doctor is involved in medical research, then her involvement in that research is important to you. Not all doctors participate in medical research, but if they are affiliated with academic or university medical centers, there is a good chance they are.


On the one hand, it means they are learning more about your problem, ways to diagnose or treat it, and may be considered experts in the field. On the other hand, it may mean they are being paid by drug or other medical manufacturing companies and their recommendations to you might (or might not) be skewed.


Conflicts of interest have become a major problem, revealing themselves in recommendations being made to patients that aren't necessarily in the best interests of the patient. These conflicts may mean you will be prescribed a drug you don't really need, or they may mean you are pushed into a clinical trial that is more for the benefit of the doctor than for you.


To learn about possible involvement in medical research, do a general online search with the doctor's name and the word "publication" or "research." If you find the doctor has been involved in research, then you'll want to look to see whether he or she is being paid by one of those manufacturers.


The Doctor's Personality and Attitudes

You will want to review a doctor's personality and attitudes if you will have a long-term relationship with the doctor as a primary care doctor or in a specialty where you will have ongoing care such as a cardiologist, endocrinologist, or allergist.


Choosing a doctor who you will have to visit on regular occasions over a number of years means it's important you get along with each other. Choosing one of these doctors is similar to choosing a spouse. With some of them, you may even need to be more intimate than you are with your partner.


A doctor with an arrogant or otherwise difficult personality won't help you nearly so much as one with a more pleasant personality. A doctor with a different belief system—cultural or religious—may make it difficult to get the care you need or want. There are two ways to get information about a doctor's personality and attitudes:

  1. Word of mouth: Talking to friends is one way to get a general assessment of a doctor, with two caveats. A "nice" doctor is not necessarily competent. A "competent" doctor isn't always the most pleasant. Draw the line on what you are willing to put up with based on how difficult it is to find another doctor who practices the same specialty or offers the same services.
  2. Social media: With the rise in the numbers of doctors who either use Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking sites, it's easier than ever to use social media to determine the personality and attitudes of a doctor before you ever meet him or her.

A Word From Verywell

Doing good background research on a doctor is a good way to gain confidence in your choice before you ever see that doctor. When coupled with general advice about choosing the right doctor for you, you have a far better chance of being satisfied with the relationship.

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