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Facebook, a legitimate source of data for medical research?

Facebook, a legitimate source of data for medical research? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

A recent study highlights the opportunities which online social networks may provide to analyze the impact of social behavior on health outcomes such as the prevalence of obesity.

 

For several years researchers have been trying to find the causes of obesity, aside from any genetic predisposition. Our social environment is regarded as one of the decisive factors overall. For example, families living in deprived circumstances are often prone to obesity because, it is argued, cheaper food is often more fatty and sugary –although this supposed causal link still remains controversial. Such studies have their limitations, since there is relatively little reliable information available on people’s physical activities and dietary habits. However, there is today one source, though rather unconventional as regards public health studies, which can provide a wealth of data: Facebook. Recently four researchers from Harvard Medical School, working together with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance– an ongoing telephone health survey system – and NYC EpiQuery systems, a web-based system designed to provide health data from a variety of sources, set out to examine the relationship between Facebook users’ ‘likes’ and their weight*.

 

Studying populations through the lens of social networks

This is one of the first attempts to study the health of a population by extracting data from online social networks. Recently, another online study, carried out via social networks among 61 million people, which looked at the influence of messages on voting patterns, has already demonstrated the potential of social networks for this type of study. Such networks provide a new source of usable data and Facebook is one of the most useful tools since users tend to volunteer information on their surroundings, origins, background and personal interests.  Moreover, the sheer size of the network in terms of its user base is an argument in itself for using this data source. In the United States, half the population is active on Facebook, as is one person in eight worldwide. The study on obesity analyzed Facebook users’ ‘likes’, broadly categorizing them under "health and fitness" and "outdoor physical activities" as an indication of being physically active, and "television" as a marker for a sedentary lifestyle. The study reveals that in the US as a whole there is one clear link between Facebook users’ ‘likes’ and obesity: in any given area of the country, a greater proportion of people with activity-related Facebook interests and a smaller proportion who like television appears to be correlated with a lower prevalence of obesity.

 

Gathering data on public health

The major increase in obesity on a global scale suggests that a person’s social environment says a lot about his/her health. Many studies have already examined the relationship between people being overweight and their immediate environment. For example, in places where there is less opportunity for people to walk, we find higher rates of obesity. Beyond the physical environment, this study now shows that people’s social environment may also be linked to obesity. There are many variables – among them common interests, whether active or sedentary – which make it easier to pinpoint populations at risk. Up to now, obtaining data relating to the social environment of these populations has been costly and slow, and the process difficult to carry out across a large population. The availability of online social network data for this type of study therefore seems to have come at the right moment.  Further research is now needed to better understand how the online social environment actually relates to health outcomes and how it can be used to identify when action is needed or target specific interventions.

 

*‘Assessing the Online Social Environment for Surveillance of Obesity Prevalence’ by Rumi Chunara, Lindsay Bouton, John W. Ayers and John S. Brownstein

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

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

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

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Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
Nice post
Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
#Formdox integrates perfectly with several #functionalities for the monitoring
https://goo.gl/HDwSzm
cctopbuilders's comment, April 26, 6:01 AM
good
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Invest in Adverse Event Reporting - It’s Key to the Modern Pharma Marketer’s Success

Invest in Adverse Event Reporting - It’s Key to the Modern Pharma Marketer’s Success | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

As patients continue to discuss their health on a growing number of platforms, including social media, chatbots, messages apps, and various Internet of Things devices like Amazon Echo, it becomes increasingly difficult for life sciences companies to report adverse events in a timely matter.  Companies can combine automated solutions with human agents to ease the burden of event reporting on marketing teams and open them up to focus on other things.

There’s no question that the digital world provides pharmaceutical marketers with a wide variety of vehicles for 1-to-1 patient communications. Between social media, chatbots, and messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, Kik, WhatsApp, and Telegram, there are no shortage of options to connect with personalized conversations.

The universe expands even more for pharma marketers considering using next-generation conversational channels such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, telemedicine, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices. IoT device adoption is growing at astronomical rates. According to CNBC, Amazon could have 500 million active customers globally by 2020. Pharmaceutical companies will want to take part in these voice-activated channels for the 1-on-1 connections they offer. In a recent article, USA Today speculated, “Could U.S. consumers one day find themselves logging in to Amazon Healthcare Prime, or asking Dr. Alexa—Amazon’s popular Echo home assistance device uses a digital voice answering to the name Alexa—what they should do about their cough?”

New Tech’s Impact on Adverse Events Reporting

These channels are opportunities for medicine brands to strengthen patient relationships, but how do pharmaceutical companies report adverse events in a timely manner across so many diverse channels? How many people would it take worldwide and around the clock? So, how does a pharma marketer scale adverse events management of these marketing channels? Oftentimes, an adverse event monitoring program can cost as much as the digital program itself, and it can be difficult to justify the resources needed to monitor for adverse events across a large array of social media platforms and multiple chatbot and messaging app channels.

To overcome these challenges, and monitor these channels, marketers need scaled solutions made up of adverse events reporting software and a team of human agents. We found recently, with one of our healthcare clients, that through a combination of human agents and automated software, overall response rates for the client increased by 66% across all the healthcare provider’s major social channels. Day-to-day workload for their marketing team was reduced by 43%. Ultimately, the program also enabled higher quality engagement, with customized responses addressing the needs of patients.

Human agents can especially assist pharma marketers with the subtleties and nuance of language and conversations that automated software alone typically cannot detect and address. For example, a team of trained and skilled moderators can tag and capture social media comments that may simply state “me too,” in response to an adverse event in a flow of comments and responses, something that may be missed by programmed software solutions.

Making Social Media Adverse Event Reporting Easier

Pharma marketers shouldn’t have to exclude using social channels due to onerous brand response and adverse events management, and the fear of non-compliance. Over time we’ve found that our clients see resounding results through the automation of lower level tasks in social media, like automated tagging, acceptance, and rejection of social media comments. This can even include the automated tagging of adverse events in social media according to business rules and workflows. By automating lower level social media tasks, it frees up the marketing team for custom response and insight gathering. Social media and direct insights from patients on these channels not only has the potential to provide inspiration and direction for new product development, but they can also improve marketing, maintain product loyalty, and much more.

Using these platforms for pharma marketing makes even more sense when marketing to millennials, a sought-after audience who use these channels to make healthcare decisions. In fact, more than 75% of Americans use social media to research their symptoms. While, 90% of people ages 18 to 24 say they trust medical information shared on their social feeds, according to PwC Health Research Institute. This suggests that medical and health information isn’t simply being shared to spur conversation. Millennials, or the always-connected generation, sees social media as a trustworthy source for medical information.

Utilizing these conversational channels and maintaining FDA adverse events reporting compliance may be easier than brands ever thought possible. There are scalable social media pharma software solutions that can detect and triage adverse events in social media comments, or in chatbots and messaging app conversations, and with the addition of human agents, provide the compassion required in the healthcare space.

Combining Humans and Automation

The combination of FDA adverse event reporting software to scale detection and response, and human agents to decode language nuances and add humanity is very powerful for medicine brands. Software alone can never overcome the subtleties of language, sarcasm, slang, graphical content, use of emoji, and more. Humans in coordination with software are required. Ultimately, software solutions and human agents can free up a brand’s marketing team for more strategic decisions and pressing marketing campaigns.

Pharma marketers should supplement the standard off-the-shelf SaaS solutions used by other industries for social media publishing, and seek specialized enterprise software used in pharmacovigilance and AE reporting that are specifically engineered and targeted with FDA compliance and adverse events management in mind. Going that route not only enables brands to manage social media and messaging, but also handle adverse events and the reporting and archiving required by the FDA.

Social media represents a huge opportunity for pharmaceutical marketers to improve patient engagement, whether it be through healthcare communities, or 1-on-1 conversations in messaging apps. Pharma marketers should be nurturing those direct conversations between customers, patients, and their brand. With new enterprise-level pharma industry specialized adverse events services and software, pharma brands can ensure their FDA compliance and start creating relationships that have a positive impact in the lives of patients.

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Social Media Lessons from the Best American Hospitals | 

Social Media Lessons from the Best American Hospitals |  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

The best social media marketing blends storytelling and PR. It seamlessly integrates advertising and relationship building, fighting its way through the social noise while never losing sight of the human stories driving brand successes. Social media for the nation’s top hospitals is no different, with an extra bit of responsibility: As community cornerstones, hospitals have a unique platform for educating and inspiring the public. Hospitals with top-notch social media aren’t just using their channels as marketing machines—they’re creating healthier communities.

The team at Convince & Convert investigated what successful social media looks like for the best hospitals in the U.S. We collected our research in a detailed report, The Best of Social Media from America’s Top Hospitals, and rounded up the highlights below.

How We Identified the Best Hospital Social Media Posts

Using Rival IQ, we gathered all public Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posts from the top 53 U.S. hospitals, as determined by bed size and the U.S. News 2017–2018 Best Hospitals Honor Roll. We then looked exclusively at posts from February 2018, giving us a data set of approximately 10,000 social posts. Engagement metrics from Rival IQ helped use narrow that group of 10,000 to the best 50 posts. We also limited each hospital to a maximum of five posts and chose to include posts boosted by paid support.

Download the Report Now

What Makes a Great Hospital Twitter Post

Twitter is a high-priority channel for the nation’s top hospitals. Most tweet an average of three times per day, and the best-performing hospital Twitter accounts often post much more. The health and medical communities are also active on Twitter chats and seasonal hashtags like #HeartMonth, and hospitals who participated saw notable boosts in engagement.

The type of content posted affected engagement, as well: photos attracted the most, followed by videos and posts containing links.

What Makes a Great Hospital Facebook Post

The most “loved” Facebook posts were (perhaps unsurprisingly) videos showcasing patient stories, moving recoveries, and other successful outcomes.

Uplifting stories weren’t the only kind of content driving engagement, however: Audiences also engaged using Facebook’s “sad” and “angry” reactions on posts commemorating patients who had passed, research on preventable disease, etc. Also of note is the content that didn’t perform well on Facebook: Posts linking to other content were the most common post type published by top hospitals yet attracted the least engagement.

Download the Report Now

What Makes a Good Hospital Instagram Post

Faces appear to be the key to engaging Instagram posts for hospitals. Half of the best posts included two or more faces. Carousel posts also attracted high engagement, contradicting most other data on carousels’ effect on social engagement. Posts with a strong storytelling angle—behind the scenes photos of doctors on the job or moments from the hospital’s history—attracted the most comments on any other post type. Hospitals also used hashtags to draw eyes to their posts, averaging about three per post (but no more than eight).

The Hospitals Leading Social Media

From our group of 53, we narrowed our list of hospitals to the top 20 on social media according to the size of their audience, post volume, engagement rate per post, and total engagement during the month of February. A few trends emerged among this elite group, including an obvious preference for Twitter and Facebook over Instagram. The top five hospitals showed an even more serious commitment to Twitter and Facebook and published twice as frequently as the group average. The top three were especially committed to strategy and included:

  1. NewYork-Presbyterian
  2. Cleveland Clinic
  3. Mayo Clinic

Every hospital on this cream-of-the-crop list exhibited smart social media strategy, but NewYork-Presbyterian stood out for a few reasons. One was its larger-than-average publishing window (9 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and its commitment to publishing content on weekends, not just weekdays. NYP posts to Facebook and Instagram a minimum of once per day, averages more than seven tweets per day, and participates in real-time Twitter chats like #HealthyHeartTalk. NYP’s social also prioritizes storytelling and visual content like none other. Their strategy is photo- and video-driven, and the payoff is evident.

Hospitals that prioritize storytelling and visual content see higher engagement on social media.CLICK TO TWEET

Learn from the Nation’s Best Hospitals

The best hospitals on social media are masters of bringing a human face to the services they provide. They show a rigorous commitment to storytelling, original visual content, being a reliable presence in their audience’s social feeds. Our full report includes even more examples of the top social posts, more data on publishing habits and engagement, and an even deeper analysis of our findings.

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Study finds social media interaction can improve attitudes toward vaccines

Study finds social media interaction can improve attitudes toward vaccines | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Vaccinating children has become a hot topic in the last decade, as arguments often play out on social media, leaving some parents unsure and doctors scrambling to get them the right information. 

Not too long ago, all mother Megan Whelan was thinking about was how to vaccinate her children.

"With all the information that's out there all the celebrities who are you know spreading their stories And of course all the blog posts and things you see on Facebook and all of that," Whelan said. "It can be really overwhelming."

She decided to take her doctor's advice, but said it would have been nice to have other options for trusted information.

"I think to be able to go to one place where you can hear both sides of the story would be really interesting," Whelan said. "And you know, where you could hear from of course doctors other professionals but even just a panel of moms."

Researchers wanted to know if providing parents with accurate clinical information about vaccines through a website with access to vaccine experts would impact their attitudes about them. They found out it did.

Dr. Matthew Daley, a senior researcher at Kaiser Permanente, paneled a group of soon-to-be parents. His team gave some parents vaccine information from a website, others information from a website, social media, blogs, podcasts and chats, and others standard care. Daley's team found that website and social interaction improved attitudes toward vaccines in parents who were hesitant about them.

"Specifically their confidence in the benefits of vaccines improved," Dr. Daley said. "And then there are concerns about the risks of vaccines decreased."

Dr. Daley hopes this can be a model used nationwide to address parents vaccine concerns.

"Parents need more information than they're able to get in a brief visit with their child's physician," Dr. Daley said.

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Thought Leadership In Digital Health 

Thought Leadership In Digital Health  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Social networking behemoth Facebook has taken a lot of flack for its role in the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath. In response to this controversy, Mark Zuckerberg announced in January that the Facebook news feed would be getting a bit of a makeover.

 

Specifically, the new layout makes sure users mostly see status updates and photos from family and friends while limiting things like news articles and anything shared by brands. While this change certainly has its merit, it could also have a different impact on both patients and healthcare companies.

 

The epidemic of “fake news” so rampant on Facebook has affected health information just as much as politics. Without question, limiting the amount of this potentially damaging content that patients see is a good thing.

 

That said, there is plenty of resourceful, valid and good health information shared on Facebook.

 

WEGO Health study of patient influencers found that 87% of study participants say they share health information via Facebook posts. As one patient influencer put it, “Any kind of information is helpful so we definitely look into every aspect of everything and Facebook is a big help.”

 

The recent news feed changes may potentially eliminate a genuinely positive source of health information for patients.

 

For many patients, Facebook’s biggest value is found in groups. In both public and private groups, patients are finding thriving communities where they can engage with other patients around specific health conditions. The changes won’t affect the groups themselves but they could limit how often new group content is seen on users’ news feeds.

 

Patient Leaders may actually see a boost to their engagement thanks to the news feed changes. In a WEGO Health Alzheimer’s Patient Influencer case study, we found that engagement was both higher overall and more consistent after Facebook’s changes. Patient Leaders can capitalize on this by being authentic and creating truly valuable content.

 

For the healthcare company, the impact may be even more dramatic. Engagement has been on a decline for the majority of brands already but this change may well lead to a drastic drop. While Patient Leaders are treated much like “friends and family” on users’ news feeds, brands are categorically not.

 

The option to pay to boost posts and run ads on the platform will likely become even more important in order to engage with patients. Brands can also encourage users to mark them as a “see first” page to ensure their content is seen.

 

Perhaps the best option for healthcare companies is to create content that encourages even more engagement. This could include live videos and campaigns that feature user-generated content. Zuckerberg has said that “Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.” Finding ways to start conversation is key.

 

Healthcare companies should recognize that Patient Leaders can be a huge asset in this regard. By engaging with trusted Patient Influencers to help them make their content valuable and interactive, healthcare companies may see a significant boost rather than a decline. As a bonus, this kind of content is good for patients as well.

 

Zuckerberg suggests that the news feed changes will be good for the mental health of users. This is almost certainly true and that is a very good thing. The news feed changes will benefit Patient Leaders, as long as they continue to provide valuable and engaging content. If the healthcare company is strategic in thinking about how to offer value and inspire engagement, however, the Facebook changes could actually end up being enormously beneficial to all parties.

 

 

About the Author

 

Laurel Netolicky has been in the digital and social media space for over 15 years, and she specializes in forming sincere and productive relationships. Every day at WEGO Health, she works to create collaborative connections between patient community leaders and healthcare businesses while continuing WEGO Health’s growth as a caring and informative company. Laurel spends her free time as an avid runner, boater, cook and mom to her twins.

 

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Millennials: From Social Media in Healthcare to Rich Patient Relationships with Cutting-Edge Communications 

Millennials: From Social Media in Healthcare to Rich Patient Relationships with Cutting-Edge Communications  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

For business leaders, millennials are a source of intrigue, opportunity, and sometimes even apprehension. When it comes to the healthcare industry and its trends, this is no small consideration — and it's not just about social media in healthcare. As Steve Bullock at MediaPostpoints out, millennials are plugging into "online forums, social media, health apps, wearables … and want multi-channel access to all their healthcare-related business."

Reaching digital natives goes beyond social media in healthcare — it's about providing more robust and integrated ways to engage with and care for the millennial population.

Millennials' love for dynamic, real-time, interactive digital experiences is changing how healthcare organizations reach them, take care of them, and earn their business and loyalty. This demographic, aged 20 to 35, wields spending power on the scale of $1.3 trillion — the biggest spend out there, according to Agency Ascend — and they are also the fastest-growing segment of the workforce, according to Inc.

In an age of immediate, personalized interactions, building communications channels that reflect millennials' wants and needs will shape how the healthcare industry builds its own future, influencing how offerings and opportunities evolve over time. Here are some pathways to earning millennials' attention and loyalty, while also keeping digital-first healthcare solutions on the cutting edge of quality and compliance.

Millennials Put in the Healthcare Homework

One of the healthcare trends that's shaping the future of the industry is how millennials use their digital resources to educate themselves as patients before they talk to their doctors. As Bullock reports in his article, 54 percent of millennials have consulted as many as seven information sources for purposes of self-diagnosis.

That's social media in healthcare at work, but the conversation grows even louder when healthcare organizations enter the picture.

Digital natives are already creating a profound impact on healthcare, and millennials are on the leading edge of this change.

Digital Natives Expect Speedy Solutions and DIY Options

Digital solutions are increasingly cloud based, and with the cloud comes the agility of unified communications. This is important in healthcare, an industry in which dynamic, flexible, and speedy person-to-person contact is critical to patient outcomes.

Unified communications solutions are capable of extending far beyond the more familiar elements such as automated routing that cuts down on patient wait time. For example, the patient may benefit from an impromptu telehealth session. In this case, a voice call can evolve into a video conference from whatever device is in play. Healthcare professionals can take the session a further step if necessary, instantly bringing in a second opinion or a companion consultation with the ease of a click, tap, or swipe.

Patient engagement strategies are changing: The digital world is increasingly a self-serve ecosystem, and healthcare is no exception. Take appointment scheduling and records management, for example. Millennials want self-service options that let them skip phone queues — they don't expect to spend time on hold — and they don't want to repeatedly fill out paper forms. Unified communications can satisfy these patients, creating on-screen billing access, pre-visit and symptom-input tools, and do-it-yourself scheduling.

Personalization: Rich Relationships Run on Data

Data in the digital space is on everybody's mind, and when it's put to nuanced, permissions-based uses, patient data helps physicians build insight-rich relationships.

Millennials expect conversational commerce. This means a lot more than relying upon data to simply prompt appointment reminder texts. It's about deeper lines of two-way communication that bring a patient's history and a physician's records together in private, selective, compassionate ways that link every visit — in-person or not — to the spectrum of care the patient has experienced.

Millennials and Beyond: Healthcare Depends on QoS

With the well-being of every patient in play, business communications downtime during physician–patient appointments is simply unacceptable. The good news is that newer solutions in the unified communications space include SD-WAN systems that can ensure backup communications reliability should a healthcare organization's MPLS or other in-house system experience an interruption.

And since solutions like SD-WAN are cloud based and never need a physical upgrade, they're also economical ways to meet healthcare's critical QoS standards.

Social Media in Healthcare: Embracing the Digital Future

Digital natives are already creating a profound impact on healthcare, and millennials are on the leading edge of this change. But the industry must also keep its eye on the next up-and-coming generation. As Generation Z begins to drive business in the years to come, they will bring billions in their own spending power to the table.

For the healthcare organizations that successfully engage these younger patients, the steps considered here are pathways to the industry's future. Embracing the future of healthcare means the start of a vibrant and healthy digital conversation for every physician and patient.

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Beware of pseudoscience: The desperate need for physicians on social media

The power of social media is clearly evident in cases such as the Russian influence on our election and Mark Zuckerberg‘s realization of the need for transparency on his powerful platform of Facebook. However, maybe not so evident, is the transformative power of social media on health care trends and misinformation.

A popular new term for the misinformation regarding medical topics has arisen: pseudoscience. It has run rampant on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Why does this matter? Like it or not, social media and the internet is the way Americans are receiving information regarding important medical choices in their lives. They can find an answer to a question regarding a health concern in less than five seconds by searching Facebook or google about the HPV vaccine.  If physicians aren’t writing about these topics, someone else will.

 

 

As a board-certified OB/GYN, I was curious to see what patients actually find out when they are searching for the HPV vaccine. I did a search to see what I (and they) might find. I was disgusted, angry and even saddened by what I found. There was story after story about the HPV vaccine that was neither medically correct, verified, or quoted from a reputable source. Sensationalized stories floated to the top of search engines results, and the boring, true, evidenced-based information was buried under the hyperbole.

Tucked away and surrounded by like-minded individuals during my medical training and residency, I was blissfully unaware of the public’s perception of the HPV vaccine or frankly any medical treatment recommendations regardless of specialty. I ignorantly assumed most people go to their physician first for medical information. I’ll be honest: I didn’t often check Facebook or Twitter as I was consumed by medical practice.

 

In addition, there are very strict rules placed upon physicians by their employers and hospitals where they work. Most physicians stay away from any social media outlets out of fear of lawsuit or concern for their employer seeking retribution for voicing opinions that they do not endorse. This dated outlook must change so that we can connect with patients in a more modern way.

Unfortunately, right now we are left with massive amounts of misinformation on the Internet about medical issues without a physician perspective.  The barriers have been 1) lack of time for physicians encompassed by patient care and clinical duties having little time for other endeavors 2) the above mentioned legal or employment constraints.

How do we rectify this? Academic institutions need to be vocal on places like Facebook and Twitter where patients are looking for information. We need to allow doctors to speak their minds (perhaps also with a legal clause that their views are their own and not linked to their employers/hospital), but they need a voice nonetheless.

 

One on one patient counseling is, of course, important and necessary in some cases. However, imagine how many people you could reach by writing an article about the HPV vaccine from the physician’s point of view. We as physicians need to be better about distilling this information to our patients. This is our responsibility. Of course, the public is going to be drawn more to stories of human interest regarding vaccines and latest trends instead of dry, data-heavy medical journals. Articles with only complicated statistics, and unnecessarily ostentatious medical jargon are boring for even those of us who love science and statistics.

We need to tell our stories, of course in a HIPAA compliant way, but tell them in a way people will want to listen or read them.

So, Mark Zuckerberg and wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, I’m reaching out to you. Please lead the way again with social media. Help our patients to understand the lack of veracity behind the viral post they are reading that correlates the HPV vaccine to the death of a young girl without any established causative factors. Please stop the propagation of incorrect medical facts and pseudoscience that make it so hard to gain patient’s trust. To the hospital CEOs, let your physicians have a voice. Stop threatening with retaliation for their presence on social media outlets. This is an under-utilized and impactful way for your physicians to make a difference and be heard.

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Social media: A new tool in the doctor’s bag?

Social media: A new tool in the doctor’s bag? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

When you Google your doctor’s name, have you ever considered that your doctor could be Googling yours too? A survey at a major urban medical center found that, although most doctors do not regularly Google their patients, 93 percent of the psychiatrists surveyed had Googled at least one patient. The most commonly reported reasons were “patient care” and “curiosity.”

As this study suggests, information on the internet could possibly provide useful information about patients. There are already publications about social media searches positively affecting medical care. One casedescribed a 13-year-old girl who was brought to the emergency department after her parents found posts discussing suicide on her Facebook page. The physician then diagnosed the girl as a suicide risk based on her statements and the Facebook posts.

Another paper discussed an emergency response training exercise that compared a team with access to Twitter and Facebook versus a conventional no-media team. The team with social media access responded to mock casualties significantly quicker than the conventional response team.

The use of social media postings for healthcare is already occurring in isolated scenarios, and it will likely grow faster for populations that use social media heavily.

As a medical student going into pediatrics, these reports made me think of my future patient population. I’ve seen teenagers at their pediatrician’s office for well visits, in the emergency room for accidents, and in hospital beds for serious treatment; the one thing they all had in common was a smartphone in their face. Frequently, they were scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or some other social media website, posting updates on their every move and emotion.

Two colleagues and I recently wrote an article encouraging primary care doctors to discuss social media habits with their adolescent patients. This is important as adolescents may become addicted to social media or find themselves involved in high-risk activities such as cyberbullying or communication with sexual predators. Moreover, we believe a physician cannot thoroughly assess a teenager’s social health without inquiring about their internet habits.

At first, many of us might consider a physician viewing their social media page as a privacy violation. However, 70 percent of employers look up social media pages to screen applicants, 35 percent of college admission officers have looked up applicants’ social media pages, and it’s hard to argue that anything posted on a global interface can ever be considered “private.” The question at hand should not be privacy per se, but clinical appropriateness.

Not every tool in the physician’s toolbox is appropriate for use all the time. I anticipate viewing patients’ social media pages to work the same way. Not every patient will warrant it, but it may be a useful tool in certain situations. As with all diagnostic tools, the decision to use will require balancing the positives and negatives.

For example, the possible inaccuracy and exaggeration of online posts may distort the physician’s assessment; therefore, the potential benefit of viewing their online presence would need to outweigh the consequences of finding inaccurate information.

There are too many unresolved concerns to recommend that physicians routinely incorporate viewing patients’ social media pages in their history and physical. There is still too little research on its effects, there are no guidelines on which sites are best to search, and there are no standards regarding physician liability or consent for minors.

However, we should support future research of this practice to answer these questions and establish regulations that encourage innovative and holistic care. 

-By Danielle Clark, fourth-year medical student at Baylor College of Medicine

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Which Social Media Platform Is Best-Suited For Your Dental Practice?

Which Social Media Platform Is Best-Suited For Your Dental Practice? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Chances are, your dental practice is on social media. Chances also are that you are not using it appropriately. Maybe you have a dull account with whatever social network was popular at the time you signed up, and you post whatever and whenever you find the time. Or maybe you have joined almost every social network and are now spending way too much time and energy trying to keep up.

As with any form of marketing and advertising, it pays to be strategic on social media, as well. You are better off choosing a few social media platforms and using them to their full potential.

Some practices have not yet begun to harness the potential of social media marketing. By spending as little as five hours a week, more than 66 percent of healthcare marketers enjoy enhanced lead generation with social media. A well-executed social media strategy can improve your search rankings, drive more traffic and increase conversion rates.

However, how can you develop an effective social media strategy when you do not even know which platforms to choose? With a plethora of options, it can get overwhelming to determine whether your practice needs to build an online presence using Facebook or Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest.

When it comes to choosing the right social networks, there are some factors to consider, from target audience to how your content and business goals will fit within its framework. Here is the complete guide to choosing the right social media platforms for your dental practice:

Facebook

With more than 1.7 billion active users, Facebook is the go-to social media platform for most businesses. Using Facebook, you can share visually appealing and informative content with your target audience. Facebook also help you to gather feedback from your existing patients. However, you have to be sure to monitor patient comments and respond promptly.

Audience: Usually between 15 and 49 years old. According to recent research, nearly 91 percent of millennials have Facebook accounts.

Best suited for: Practices looking to nurture long-term patient relationships.

The catch: Facebook operates primarily on a pay-for-play model, which means that your content share and posts may not reach a wider audience unless you are paying to boost your posts or advertisements. Per Facebook, for as little as $3, your posts could reach up to 500 people.

Should you be on Facebook?

Definitely yes, but only if you do not mind the intense competition. According to a report, more than 70 percent of online users use Facebook. It is by far the most popular social media platform. If your target audience uses the Internet, they are highly likely to be on Facebook. However, Facebook News Feed is a crowded place for your dental practice updates.

Instagram

Instagram has more than 800 million monthly active users and claims to have one of the highest engagement rates of any social media platform. Instagram claims to be the best platform for reaching millennials and other users who appreciate a good picture or video. This platform prefers visually appealing content, which sees more engagement here. However, avoid using stock photography on Instagram.

While considering Instagram, do not forget about hashtags. While other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter use one or two hashtags per post, Instagram encourages as many hashtags as possible, as long as they are relevant.

Audience: Nearly 90 percent of Instagram users are under the age of 35.

Best suited for: Practices that are looking for brand promotion by posting and sharing visually appealing content.

The catch: It may get difficult to measure direct ROI. In addition, it is difficult to link your Instagram account to a webpage except in your bio, which makes this platform better for brand promotion or assisting other social media efforts.

Should you be on Instagram?

Yes, especially if visually appealing content is your forte. Instagram works excellently in combination with Facebook or Twitter and may help your practice grow and thrive.

Twitter

With more than 7,000 tweets every minute, Twitter can secure a place in your social media strategy if you want to have real-time communication with your target audience. Twitter perfectly blends all types of creative communication, including videos, graphics and text. You can use features like polls and hashtags to catch the attention of its more than 350 million users.

According to a survey, 42 percent of Twitter users expect to receive a response within an hour of posting their query or concern. The USP of Twitter is that it can make your posts go viral within hours. You will attract more followers when your existing followers Like or Share your content. You can post news, dentistry updates and general articles on Twitter. Hashtags can help you increase momentum for your posts, so try to include as many relevant hashtags as you can.

However, your tweets can get buried in a users feed. Therefore, in order to maintain excellent visibility, it is essential to tweet at least a few times a day. While Twitter also allows prescheduled tweets, you should combine them with regular posts in order to increase patient engagement.

Audience: Twitter users are the most diverse in terms of age groups, but the majority of users are between 18 and 50 years old.

Best suited for: Practices with plenty of content to share and a goal to connect directly with existing and potential patients.

The catch: If your tweets are not live or trending, they may have a short lifespan. For high levels of patient engagement and a high follower count, you will have to be very active and share useful content regularly.

Should you be on Twitter?

Yes, especially if you are targeting a younger, tech-savvy crowd. Current and diverse content works great on Twitter. However, do keep in mind that a tweet reaches its peak after 18 minutes, so it is important to get your next tweet ready fast.

Pinterest

Contrary to popular belief, Pinterest is not just for travelers, foodies or fashionistas. With more than 100 million active users, it is one of the few platforms where older content can also do well.

Pinterest is essentially a visual platform on which people can “pin” content to their boards, which makes it one of the most effective platforms for website traffic referrals. This platform can work well if you have a “cool-looking” office or special offers or discounts that can be communicated visually. For instance, if you focus on cosmetic dentistry, you can utilize Pinterest to post visual content that establishes that side of your brand image and reputation. Remember not to overuse image filters, and get trained on ways to display visually appealing graphics and marketing images. When pinning content, do not forget to optimize your images.

Audience: Nearly 85 percent of users are females, and 67 percent are millennials.

Best suited for: Practices that can share visually appealing content or can experiment with behind-the-scenes images or before-and-after images of patients, but with patients’ consent.

The catch: This platform is generally slow-moving and can be challenging to attract a large following. However, if you can manage to generate fresh content that is visually appealing, it can prove to be an ideal platform.

Should you be on Pinterest?

Yes, but only if you can frequently create content that is a treat to the eyes.

LinkedIn

Initially created as a social networking platform, LinkedIn has grown to become a powerhouse for small and Fortune 500 businesses alike, with more than 100 million users. If you want to network with your colleagues, peers and community, you must have an active presence on this platform.

Maintaining an active presence on LinkedIn will increase the visibility of your practice among other professionals. You can increase your professional credibility by staying active in LinkedIn groups and commenting on other posts.

While there are different opinions about what should and should not be posted on LinkedIn, a good rule of thumb is to stick to content that looks professional and is relevant to your dental practice.

Audience: More than 50 percent of users are between the ages of 30 and 64.

Best suited for: Practices that work with other professionals and want to increase quality and quantity of their professional referrals.

The catch: Unless you are a recruiter, you should not be selling anything directly to LinkedIn users. The only reason for your LinkedIn presence is to promote your brand, not any specific products.

Should you be on LinkedIn?

Yes, but only if you can play the business game. LinkedIn’s niche audience is full of great insights on productivity, ethics, networking and recruitment.

Which platforms can bring you the most business?

Although we believe any dental practice needs just three social media platforms, this may not apply to every dentist. Eventually, it all comes down to your specific needs and business goals. Experts recommend Facebook and Instagram (followed by a few more) to build your dental brand and bring in more patients. However, it is advised to focus on one social platform first and gradually span out from there.

Facebook is one of the best social networking sites for maintaining close contact with your existing and potential patients. Not only will this platform help you build and sustain the loyalty of existing patients, but it will also help attract new patients. The secret to successful dental social media marketing lies in the value your services can offer to your patients.

Social media for dentists is getting more critical as time passes, and you should not fall behind your competitors. At Practice Builders, we provide targeted social media marketing services to help dentists increase their brand awareness and bring in new patients. Now is the time to start! The Practice Builders team would love to help you.

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Survey Finds Patients Want to be Friends with their Physicians on Social Media

Survey Finds Patients Want to be Friends with their Physicians on Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

A new survey from the American Osteopathic Association finds more than half of millennials (54%) and more than four out of 10 (42%) adults are or would like to be friends with or follow their healthcare providers on social media. The online survey was conducted by The Harris Poll in April 2018 on behalf of the AOA.1

 

The survey also found nearly two thirds of millennials (65%) and 43 percent of all adults feel it is appropriate to contact their physician(s) about a health issue through social media either by posting on their page or direct messaging them. Doctors, however, are still navigating how to manage the patient relationship on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms that are traditionally designed for sharing content that is not private or sensitive.

"Please don't send me a picture of your rash on Facebook Messenger," says Jennifer Caudle, DO, an osteopathic family physician and associate professor at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. "I want to be an active part of my patient's care, but social media does open up opportunities for over-sharing or providing information that would be best managed in the office setting or through designated telemedical technology," says Dr. Caudle, who has built a vast social media following and is a regular television guest on health matters.

Health professionals are broadly prohibited from communication over social media if any information shared could be used to identify a patient. Over the past few years, the Department of Health and Human Services has instituted numerous policies and standards to guide practitioners who use social media.2

Still, some physicians find social media to be an effective tool for sharing important medical information.

"People—and young people in particular—don't go to the doctor as often as they should but they are interested in improving their health and wellness," says Mikhail Varshavski, DO, an osteopathic family physician in New York City who is the most "followed" doctor on social media. "If I can inspire a positive lifestyle change in someone through YouTube, then I've been an effective physician."

Better known as 'Doctor Mike,' Dr. Varshavski reaches millions weekly through his popular YouTube channel, as well as a Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts. He believes that social media is breaking down communication barriers that previously existed in health care, and driving the wellness conversation around important topics including burnout, addiction, nutrition and mental health.

Meeting patients where they are

Dr. Varshavski's approach aligns with the third survey finding: Nearly one-third of Americans (32%) have taken an action related to their health (e.g., changed diet, exercise or medication, taken supplements or tried an alternative treatment such as acupuncture), as a result of information they read on social media. Moreover, 15 percent of parents of kids under 18 have self-diagnosed a health concern as a result of information they read on social media.

"As an osteopathic physician, I went into this field to make differences in lives by not only treating disease but also through education and prevention," says Dr. Varshavski. "Social media is a tool doctors can use to continue this mission, one that can influence the health decisions of millions," he continued.

While health information sourced from social media has been shown to help patients make better informed decisions, people must be certain they are seeking out credible sources and limiting consumption if it's causing anxiety, cautions Dr. Caudle. Research has found "health anxious" individuals may not benefit from increased access to online health information, forums and 'Dr. Google,' which can generate anxiety and may even influence a patient's perceptions of their symptoms.3

"Social media and other digital platforms hold great promise for improving health outcomes," says Dr. Caudle, "but the conversation should start in the doctor's office—and in some cases remain there."

According to Pew Research, 69 percent of the U.S. public uses some type of social media. Among 18-29 year-olds, that number is 88 percent.  Forty percent of people ages 18-24 do not see a medical professional annually.4

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Have You Googled Yourself?

Slides from my May 16, 2018 presentation as a webinar for the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
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5 Reasons Your Medical Practice Needs a Visual Marketing Plan

5 Reasons Your Medical Practice Needs a Visual Marketing Plan | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

To start with, here are the key stats you must know about the importance of including visual content in your healthcare marketing plan in 2018:

  • Nearly 37 percent of marketers said visual marketing was important for their business, second only to blogging (38%). (Source: Social Media Examiner)
  • Four times as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than reading about it. (Source: Animoto)
  • Eye-tracking studies show that Internet users pay more attention to information-carrying images. When the visual graphics are relevant, readers spend more time on the web page looking at the images than reading plain text. (Source: Nielsen Norman Group)
  • Studies show our brain not only processes visual content faster, but it also retains and transmits information faster when it is delivered visually.
  • Tweets with graphics and visuals receive 18 percent more clicks, 89 percent more favorites and 150 percent more retweets than plain text tweets. (Source: Buffer)

One healthcare marketing trend that is impossible to ignore is the growing influence and power of visual content. Just look at the fastest-growing social media networks: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat.

The way Internet users — especially millennials — are consuming online content is radically changing. If what an average human consumes in just one minute online tells a fact, people are engaging with, connecting to, searching for, watching and downloading visual content more than ever. As a healthcare marketer, it is critical to adapt your marketing plan to maintain a competitive edge.

Visual content increases brand recognition, awareness and engagement. It also enhances the overall impact of your healthcare marketing plan by effectively communicate your message to your target audience. Visual content such as pictures, infographics, illustrations and videos are some of the most effective forms of content that are having a huge impact on the way patients consume healthcare information. Most of your visual assets will continue to grow in importance over the next few years.

Another reason that makes visual content more appealing is that most people have an innate psychological resonance with visual content. According to a report, nearly 54 percent of people prefer to receive useful information in the form of videos instead of email newsletters or social media posts. In addition, information that is presented using effective visuals and graphics is more memorable than plain text-based content. With visuals, you can convey emotions that are not possible with plain text. Human emotions usually lead to action, and action usually leads to conversions. This is why landing pages with attractive visuals convert 80 percent better than those without visual content.

Visual content is gaining an important place in the healthcare marketing plans of most medical practices, regardless of their size, specialty and location. Most healthcare marketers use innovative forms of visual content to connect with their existing and potential patients, engage with them and convert prospects into loyal patients. According to a study, using the word “video” in the subject line of your email can increase click-through rates by 65 percent, increase open rates by 19 percent and reduce un-subscribers by more than 26 percent.

Brand building and visual content go hand in hand. If you are looking to improve your brand image and want to be recognized as a thought leader in your niche, you need to create persuasive content that resonates with your target audience. Your content should tell your story and maximize your online outreach. However, with hundreds and thousands of medical practices spawning every single day, it gets harder to cut through the noise and convey your message to the target audience. According to healthcare marketing experts, 2018 is the year when individual medical practices and larger healthcare facilities should explore newer content types to acquire new patients and improve their online reputation.

How Does Visual Marketing Work?

Digital healthcare marketing relies on strategies. Many healthcare marketers are turning toward visual marketing as a means to convey messages to their target audience. Whether you are writing blog posts to attract more patients to your practice or you are optimizing your website to improve conversion rates, it is important to sit down and think about how to move forward. Industry experts recommend including visual elements as part of your new healthcare marketing campaigns.

The idea of visual marketing is that it stops readers from skipping past you on social media or a blog post that you have shared. The beauty of visual marketing is that it allows you to break down complex information and help readers digest more information through your visual elements.

One of the most effective forms of visual content is video. According to a study, video reaches three times as many people and gets 20 percent more attention than standard text blog posts. Video engages your target audience and guides them through the patient journey like no other medium can. Your video content can help nurture relationships and help you stay top-of-mind with potential patients.

Visual marketing is an effective way to build brand awareness because the majority of people are turning to online content for entertainment and education. Visual content provides opportunities for creativity and versatility, and if done right, it does not eat into your marketing budget. With effective visual content, your can improve conversion rates, increase patient outreach and improve patient engagement levels.

Benefits of Visual Marketing

Are you launching a new product or service? Are you looking to launch an effective digital marketing campaign that gives your medical practice the attention it deserves? If yes, then turn to visual marketing. Nearly 71 percent of marketers agree that visuals outperform any other form of marketing content. This is why 45 percent of businesses have an explainer video on their landing page, and 83 percent of those businesses feel their explainer videos are effective.

Emotionally charged and creative visual content can spread on the Internet like wildfire, getting millions of views within a few days. A well-made and effective visual or graphic can become your best patient acquisition and marketing tool.

Undoubtedly, visual marketing is one of the newest additions to your healthcare marketing toolbox. Here are some of the key reasons why you should consider visual marketing to market your practice:

1. Attracts your audience’s attention:Visuals can speak a thousand words and engage your audience more effectively. The current fast-paced, digitally powered world leaves us with shorter attention spans. By integrating visuals with plain content, you can help your target audience absorb more information and keep their attention longer. Studies prove that people retain 65 percent of information after three days when the plain text is combined with visuals. Stimulating your target audience’s imaginations will heighten their creative thinking, allowing for a more profound understanding and retention of your marketing message.

2. Gets more followers: Sharing effective visuals generates more traffic and responses and reaches a greater audience. By sharing more visuals, your target audience can easily share, like and respond to them for greater impact. In addition, visual content on social networks is 40 times more likely to be shared than any other form of content. According to the Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 60 percent of social marketers used video content in 2015. The latest features on social networks encourage sharing of video content. However, on social networks, people are more interested in sharing emotions, not facts. Though emotions cannot directly increase your ROI, social shares can drive more targeted traffic to your website.

3. Increases ROI and conversions: In order to get you more excited, 83 percent of businesses say visual content provides a good return on investment. Creating good-quality visuals is not a simple task, but the gains are significant. For instance, adding a video on your website can increase conversion rates by almost 80 percent. Video can also lead directly to appointments. According to a study, 74 percent of viewers who watched a product video subsequently bought it.

4. Builds trust: Trust is the foundation any medical practice. Visual content is likely to engage users and ignite emotions. For instance, some people are skeptical about trying a new healthcare provider. But effective visual marketing can present your practice and services in a conversational form. This is why 57 percent of users feel videos about a business or services make them more confident.

5. Google prefers visual content: Videos increase the time spent by visitors on your website, which signals search engines that your website has relevant content. According to Moovly, a company is 53 times more likely show up on the first two pages of Google if it has a video embedded on its website. However, be sure to optimize your videos for SEO.

Types of Visual Content

Here are four types of visuals that will take your healthcare marketing to the next level:

1. Product demonstrations: Product videos allow your existing and potential patients to see your products and services at their own convenience, without relying on your staff members to walk them through the process. Including videos on your product page will increase visitors’ time on that page, which may increase the likelihood that they might convert. Product videos will highlight your products’ features and benefits while effectively engaging your target audience. These videos are particularly beneficial for prospects who are in the awareness stages of the buyer’s journey and looking for a comprehensive explanation of your services. You can also consider including product update videos on your practice website. These videos can keep your patients updated about the latest changes to your service offerings. In addition, product update videos can educate your target audience and help increase product adoption.

2. Patient testimonials: This is one of the quickest and easiest forms of visuals to produce. It is also one of the most powerful because there is no better salesperson for your practice than a satisfied patient. Most potential patients do not trust testimonials written on a third-party website because there is no way of ensuring if the comments are genuine. However, a video is quite convincing. Video testimonials will not only tell a success story but will also empower happy patients to share their stories in their own words. This will create a much more powerful message for both marketing and conversion purposes. Patient testimonial videos can play an integral role in attracting new patients.

3. Educational video: Explainer or educational videos are an excellent way of introducing your practice to potential patients and explaining your services. These videos are simple and easy to follow, pointing out how you address your patients’ health issues. Explainer videos can increase your conversions by almost 20 percent, so consider adding one to your landing pages. By the end of your explainer video, your viewers should be ready to take the desired action based on the information they have learned in your video. While product videos will ultimately be replaced by updated videos, educational videos will provide value for a long time.

4. Behind-the-scenes pictures or video: These pictures or videos can give you the opportunity to interact with your target audience by telling them your story. Behind-the-scenes images allow your target audience to become familiar with your practice and the unique value it offers. Sharing these visuals is particularly important for individual practices because they have the potential to increase patient awareness and highlight the unique services that set your brand apart from competitors. One of the best ways to make your practice seem more trustworthy is to share visuals that provide a glimpse of your values and culture.

Final Word

With online visual content becoming a key means for people to satisfy their information needs, medical practices that fail to include visuals in their marketing campaigns will do so at their peril. Visuals are the future of healthcare marketing. According to Nielsen, almost 64 percent of marketers are expecting visuals, especially video content, to dominate their online strategies shortly.

When it comes to potential reach, visual content is incomparable. For instance, YouTube attracts more than 1 billion unique visitors every month, which is more than any other social network, except Facebook. Video can give you access to a vast community of online video viewers. Engage your viewers and they will not only share your visuals with others but also spend more quality time on your website. For social media marketing, SEO campaigns and online marketing strategies, visuals are the best tools in your arsenal. Now think this: If your target audience is reacting favorably to your plain text, imagine how they will react if you combine text with attractive visuals. The conversions will be as good as their reaction.

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Pros and cons of using social media in healthcare marketing

Pros and cons of using social media in healthcare marketing | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it
Pros :
 
1. Doctors can connect with patients and establish relationships online, allowing them to build credibility and trust with the growing social media community.
 
2. Most cost-effective way to reach patients and influence them .
 
3. Targeted marketing helps directly reach the exact person who is conscious about the treatment needed.
 
4. It extends the reach of medicine to rural areas without access to high quality care, and it also enables patients to consult with specialists.
 
5. Brands can facilitate groups with similar diseases that might want to get together to talk about their treatments, their symptoms, things they’ve tried.
 
This leads to improved brand image, increased reach and create a smart point of contact.
 
Cons:
 
1. Privacy- Social Media team needs to secure the SOP, making sure that confidential patient information doesn’t leak out of the organization.
 
2. Compliance: There can be regulatory and legal issues through content as healthcare needs to follow that strictly.
 
3. Control – You can’t control what’s said about you on social media and so users may complaint freely. But this can be solved by strategically responding.
 
Time – Social media does not give instant results.It takes commitment and continued efforts to create or curate content, manage your page, respond and analyse.
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Social Media & Chronic Health Conditions: Patients and Caregivers

Social Media & Chronic Health Conditions: Patients and Caregivers | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Is using Social Media important to you? Which platform do you use to find support from others with the same chronic health condition? If you’re a caregiver, do you access an online group to connect with other caregivers? Maybe you use social media to help educate or advocate for a particular health condition? This podcast episode explores how a variety of patients, and caregivers, use Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms to do what they need to do.

You’ll hear from people with chronic health conditions: Toni Bernhard, best-selling author, and in 2001, initially diagnosed with an acute viral infection—but has yet to recover; Chris Schlecty, a Microsoft software engineer in Seattle, living with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy and Dean Sage, an attorney in San Diego, diagnosed with myotonic dystrophy.

Also included are caregivers — Loraine Dressler, retired nurse and caregiver for family members and Marla Murasko, Down Syndrome Mom Advocate & Inclusion Influencer.

In a post on the WEGO Health website, these links provide instructions on how to protect your private information on Facebook:

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Fitbit and Google Team Up on Digital Health Initiative

Fitbit and Google Team Up on Digital Health Initiative | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

The partnership between Fitbit and Google has the potential to revolutionize digital healthcare by enabling patients to link personal data with medical records.

Fitbit and Google are joining forces to change the way healthcare providers receive and process patient data. For Google, this is one of many initiatives that aims to make an impact in a growing industry that represents over $3 trillion in annual spending.

For Fitbit, this partnership is a natural extension of its device capabilities. The company is transitioning from counting steps and calories to offering professional medical insights based on users’ biometric data.

Now, Fitbit and Google will connect user data from wearable devices to the healthcare system. Using Google’s new Cloud Healthcare API, Fitbit wearers can link their personal data with their electronic medical records (EMR). This will allow doctors to access long-term, up-to-date information and focus on patients’ individual needs.

New Opportunities for Digital Healthcare

Fitbit plans to use its own expanding resources and Google’s artificial intelligence, machine learning capabilities, and predictive algorithms to provide more services to its users.

“Working with Google gives us an opportunity to transform how we scale our business, allowing us to reach more people around the world faster, while also enhancing the experience we offer to our users and the healthcare system,” said Fitbit CEO James Park in a statement. “This collaboration will accelerate the pace of innovation to define the next generation of healthcare and wearables.”

Fitbit already collects data to evaluate users’ sleep patterns and heart rates. It recently launched an initiative to help women monitor their periods and analyze menstrual data. In February, Fitbit acquired Twine Health, a HIPAA-compliant cloud-based health management platform that has the potential to help wearable users manage chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension.

The partnership with Google has the potential to offer a more comprehensive patient profile, which will likely help doctors provide more personalized medical care.

“At Google, our vision is to transform the way health information is organized and made useful,” Gregory Moore MD, PhD, Vice President, Healthcare, Google Cloud, said in the official statement. “By enabling Fitbit to connect and manage key health and fitness data using our Google Cloud Healthcare API, we are getting one step closer to this goal. Together, we have the opportunity to deliver up-to-date information to providers, enhancing their ability to follow and manage the health of their patients and guide their treatment.”

What This Partnership Means for Patients and Providers

With U.S. healthcare costs rising rapidly, big tech is more interested than ever in capturing a piece of the market. Fitbit and Google’s partnership arises among efforts from AmazonApple, and Walmart, who are working to turn their core business strengths into effective healthcare solutions. As these major companies collaborate with each other or with smaller, specialized startups, patients are likely to benefit from their rapid innovations.

Merging data reporting and healthcare is a natural partnership that promises to help doctors better understand their patients, as well as identify links between lifestyle and chronic health conditions like insomnia and hypertension. Partnerships like the one between Google and Fitbit not only provide patients and doctors with more resources, but they are also poised to have a substantial impact on patient-centric care. That said, we can’t wait to see where these developments lead.

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How Social Networks Can Help Your Psychology Practice Thrive

How Social Networks Can Help Your Psychology Practice Thrive | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Social networks have grown at an exponential rate over the last decade or so. According to a report by Statista, there were around 207 million social network users in the U.S. in 2016. This figure places the U.S. as the country with the third-largest social network user base in the world, only behind China and India. Projections are optimistic, showing a constant increase in the number of social network users in the coming years. By 2021, the number of social network users in the U.S. is expected to be approximately 217 million.

In addition, the average person spends more than five years of their life on social media. You have the potential to advertise to more than 70 percent of American adults if you use social media. Social media gives your psychology practice access to a population you may have been unable to reach otherwise.

Not only does social media marketing have far-reaching potential to get your name out there, but it is also a strategy that you can start implementing today. Though it may be hard to figure out where to start, Practice Builders is here to help. At Practice Builders, we help psychologists and therapists leverage social media marketing to build their practice and to gain new patients.

Social networks provide a way to leverage what is unique about your psychology practice – strong relationships with patients, team culture and sharing informative content. Not only are social networks an easier and cheaper way to market your practice, but they also help attract new patients and turn existing patients into brand advocates. The key is to create and share informative content on your social media pages. It is not mandatory that everything you share be educational or a special offer, but it should add value to your patients’ lives and encourage them to be a part of your practice.

Social media conversions reveal how modern patients are making their decisions based on other patients’ experiences and opinions. Instead of calling your office, most patients will direct their questions and concerns via social networks. According to Google research, more than 50 percent of Internet activity is driven by social networks. Social media is one of the top Internet activities, and Americans spend more time on social networks than any other Internet activity, including emails.

Regardless of the size of your psychology practice, you are missing out on vital opportunities for growth if your practice is not tapping into the power of social media marketing. According to experts, the impact of social media on healthcare-related decisions is startling. Simply put, social networks have transformed the way patients choose their medical providers.

Social Media Marketing for Psychologists: Your Brand Image Depends on What You Share

Every time you share information on social networks or respond to a comment, you are engaging with your existing and potential patients. If done correctly, social media marketing can help you attract new patients to your psychology practice.

When you post content on your practice website, and when you share that content on social networks, your brand image will become what you post. Your activity on social profiles will shape perceptions of your practice.
It is important to create and share content that will get you noticed and help you build your practice. Think about what you want your practice to be known for, and post about those relevant topics. Share your experiences and thoughts. Create content that summarizes research publications about the various therapy methods. You can also describe your success stories, but keep HIPAA regulations in mind. Posting regular updates on social networks builds recognition of your practice, your skillset and your experienced staff. Social media marketing has the potential to bring more patients to your practice, increase your bottom line and improve your online reputation.

Social Networks Can Help Build a Credible Brand

Simply because your brand image is your online reputation. All businesses benefit from branding, but it is more important in healthcare. The reason is that the decisions we make concerning our health are the most significant. You will buy a couple of tacos from a vendor you hardly know, but your child’s behavior issues? No. You must trust your therapist, whether you know him or her or not.

In this always-plugged-in era, if you need a reputation for your psychology practice, then you need branding, too. Why? Because like other businesses, therapists are providing a service. When a new patient hears your practice name, what do you hope he or she says about your practice? Branding will not only differentiate your therapy practice from local competitors but will also instill trust and confidence in your existing and potential patients. Active branding is necessary to ensure your practice is perceived well by your patients. Social media can help you build a credible brand.

If your practice does not have a robust social media presence in today’s digital world, it might as well not exist for many potential patients. You would not want your office location to be difficult to find or to be far away from the places frequented by potential patients. Similarly, you should not have your practice’s social media presence be compromised, or separate from the online sites frequented by potential patients. You must be sure to establish links between your website and social media networks. More traffic to and from your social media profiles means new patient opportunities. The more people see your practice online, the quicker they will be to contact your office.

For instance, if you are known as “the best couples counselor” or an “expert in handling behavioral issues in teens,” you will be more likely to build a sustainable practice versus those who attempt to be everything to everyone. There is a reason the best therapists make more money than your general doctors. Patients tend to search for experts to handle their specific problems. Keep this in mind as you implement social media marketing ideas into your psychology marketing plan.

Social Media Marketing Ideas for Psychology Practices

The key to communicating with your patients through social networks is understanding which social network can be used for what purpose. For instance, your practice’s Facebook page can be used for posting updates, office holidays or events and sharing informative links. On the other hand, your LinkedIn profile can be used for blogging and marketing efforts. This segregation will also help keep your accounts organized and easy to update.

However, it is advised to check the quality and accuracy of the information you are sharing with your audience. This will ensure that your patients get only what is useful for them.

There are a variety of ways psychologist and therapists are utilizing social networks to promote their services and enhance patients’ experience. Here are the top ways they are using social media networks:

Facebook

Facebook is the most popular social media platform and the best choice for promoting your practice socially. If you plan to focus on just one platform, make it Facebook. Start by creating a business page, and get it verified. In addition to regular Facebook posts, you can use specific Facebook Ads to target potential patients. Facebook is a great place to solicit patient reviews, as well.

Psychology Practice Marketing Ideas for Facebook

  • Photos of your staff, office and events, particularly for engaging your patients.
  • Links to blogs and news updates.
  • Important updates about your practice.
  • Contests and other promotional activities.
  • Business hours and holiday calendar.
  • Mental health tips.
  • Helpful resources for patients.

Twitter

If you have time for frequent updates, Twitter will be an effective channel for your practice. Due to its fast-paced nature, Twitter may demand more time commitment and, therefore, can be more work than it’s worth. However, if you still want to get started, follow your patients, industry leaders and local communities. Learning the art of hashtagging can prove to be helpful.

Psychology Practice Marketing Ideas for Twitter

  • Participate in online conversations and chats.
  • Post links to blogs and latest news.
  • Share relevant content from those you follow.
  • Post live-tweets from conferences and other industry events.
  • Respond to questions about dental care.

Google+

Set up a Google+ Business Page even if you do not plan to be active there. This is because Google+ gives you the ability to keep separate circles of followers so you can engage with multiple groups on the same platform. Soliciting Google reviews from existing patents is highly recommended and helpful.

Psychology Practice Marketing Ideas for Google+

  • Updates about latest technology and methods.
  • Industry-related blogs and news articles.
  • Promotional posts and periodic updates.
  • Host hangouts for contests, if relevant to your business goals.

Instagram

Instagram is primarily a visual channel, so it can work better if you have a cool-looking office or unique benefits that can be shared visually. If you focus mainly on counseling, you can utilize Instagram to post graphics and creatives that build a positive side of your brand and services. You can start by creating a business page for your practice and learning to use local hashtags and tags. Do not overuse image filters, and educate yourself on ways to present beautiful images.

Psychology Practice Marketing Ideas for Instagram

  • “Behind the scenes” images of your office.
  • Post photos of patients taken in your office. However, you have to be extremely careful of HIPAA regulations while posting information or images related to your patients.
  • Video testimonials of patients, but only with patients’ permission.
  • Event promotion.

YouTube

You can leverage YouTube to post videos that are embedded on your website, or you can augment this platform with a steady stream of video content. However, you have to be realistic about what you can produce and what your existing and potential patients would be interested in watching.

Psychology Practice Marketing Ideas for YouTube

  • Virtual office tour.
  • Staff interviews.
  • Patient reviews.
  • Compilation of photos and video clips from your team’s experiences.

Conclusion

Now that you are aware of social media marketing for psychologists and therapists, make sure you follow these tips to create a successful brand online. In addition, it is essential to keep up with the latest trends and continuously improve your engagement with your followers. Moreover, keep track of your social media performance through analytics, which will help you enhance your reach and attract more patients to your practice.
For more information on how to develop a social media strategy for your psychology practice, please contact us at Practice Builders. Our marketing specialists have the skills and experience in social media marketing that your practice needs.

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What’s The State of Healthcare Content Marketing in 2018? –

What’s The State of Healthcare Content Marketing in 2018? – | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

I just love reports, don’t you? 

Firstly, Social Media Examiner’s annual marketing industry report, published last week, threw up these findings:

  • A very significant 94% of marketers use Facebook (followed by Instagram at 66%). Two in three marketers claim Facebook is their most important social platform. However, only 49% of marketers feel their Facebook marketing is effective and 52% said they’ve seen declines in their organic Facebook reach in the last year.
  • Facebook ads reign supreme: Facebook ads are used by 72% of marketers
    (followed by Instagram at 31%). Nearly half of all marketers increased their
    Facebook ad activities in the last year and 67% plan on increasing their use of
    Facebook ads over the next 12 months.
  • Facebook Messenger bots pique marketers’ interest: While only 15% of
    marketers are using Messenger bots, 51% plan on using Messenger bots in the
    next year.
  • For the first time in years, generating leads has become more of a focus for marketers than cultivating a loyal fan base. This could be a sign that metrics and automation are becoming more important than engagement.

You can download the report here.

Secondly, a content marketing report from True North Custom and Healthcare Insight based on data from a survey conducted in 4Q17 among 53 healthcare marketing professionals who work for hospitals, urgent care centers, physician practices, and other healthcare organizations, found that the rise of content marketing in the healthcare industry continues, with steady growth in usage. 

However, measuring content marketing effectiveness is (still) slightly behind the adoption curve. Some 36% of respondents say their organization’s content marketing efforts are very effective, and 58% say they are somewhat effective.

Only one-third of respondents say their healthcare organization has a documented content marketing strategy.

Measuring ROI

Increasing the ability to demonstrate return on content marketing investment remains a challenge. The majority of respondents (65%) consider themselves successful at tracking ROI, compared to 44% who responded the same way last year. However, only 10% consider themselves very successful at tracking ROI.

When it comes to measuring impact, website traffic is the most popular way to do this.

Content Marketing Goals

Content marketing goals remain consistent with top-of-the-funnel priorities like Brand Awareness, Engagement and Patient Loyalty holding the top three spots for the third consecutive year. 

Marketing Tactics

Social media reigns supreme, followed by eNewseltters and video taking the top three places in marketing tactics.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review in an article on healthcare marketing trends for 2018, “Health-related video content is in demand. There is a whole market for qualified physicians to provide health information through videos without offering clinical advice.” 

Social Media Distribution

No surprise that Facebook tops the poll when it comes to organizations promoting their content on social media. YouTube is also extremely popular testifying to video’s growing influence, and I am happy to see Twitter is still hanging on in there. 

Recommendations

The report concludes with three recommendations.

Create a documented strategy

A well-documented strategy will help your brand message rise above the noise. Mapping out your plan avoids what Convince & Convert Founder Jay Baer calls random acts of content and involves the use of personas, journey maps, editorial calendars, and other tools that set your brand and content apart from the pack.

Leverage Email Marketing

The large majority of people who visit your website or subscribe to your e-newsletter aren’t ready to make a healthcare decision. This is where content can play a crucial role in keeping them engaged while building affinity for your brand as a trusted resource. And while email is a leading channel for delivering content, many healthcare organizations never tap into that potential. A well-designed email nurturing program has proven to be an effective tool for building an audience and advancing them through the buyer’s journey.

Make Sure Everyone Is On Message

Rather than losing your prospect at the most critical point in the campaign, coordinate with your call center or intake team to integrate tracking mechanisms and create scripts that facilitate the lead intake process.

You can read the report in full here.

What do you think of these two reports? I don’t think there are any real surprises – we’ve been hearing for years that many healthcare organizations don’t have a documented strategy in place and struggle to measure ROI.

  • Facebook still reigns supreme, but I wonder how effective it truly is considering the lack of metrics employed to measure its effectiveness?
  • LinkedIn and Instagram are in joint place in terms of social media marketing, but should this be the case? They are two very different platforms and I wonder if marketers are using each of them effectively?
  • I am pleased to see YouTube high up the rankings – this is a good strategy for healthcare marketing.
  • And while people either fall into two camps of loving or hating Twitter, I personally see many robust healthcare conversations take place on this platform.
  • Finally, Pinterest and Snapchat are under-utilized and there’s a real opportunity here for us to own this space.
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How to leverage social media to grow your medical practice

How to leverage social media to grow your medical practice | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

The future of digital media has already arrived. The 24-hour news cycle has quickly become the 24-minute news cycle. The sheer abundance of “breaking” news and new information floating around makes it hard for professionals, pundits and everyday people, to keep up.

With this increased access to new information, also comes new opportunity for professionals with voices of authority to grow in their industry. This is because people simply browsing the web for answers may not even know what they’re looking for until they find it…

Professionals who have expertise in a particular field can easily cut through the noise of information overload. And believe it or not, people are craving a voice they can trust when they need new information on issues that matter to them.

We know that excess information, often inaccurately and hastily posted online, can be harmful to patients. Just look at the increasing rates of cyberchondria and you’ll see how misinformation can manifest in everyday life.

This is exactly why there’s an avenue for doctors to express your voice online. Patients won’t turn to “Dr. Google” quite as often if you’ve already established your voice on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or your very own blog.

The data shows something remarkable…

In fact, an incredible study from UCLA psychologists examined the neurological responses that occur when people share information they find useful. The study found that people naturally want to spread information that they think can be informative or helpful to others:

 

 

“Good ideas turn on the mentalizing system. They make us want to tell other people. […] Such knowledge could also benefit public health campaigns aimed at everything from reducing risky behaviors among teenagers to combating cancer, smoking and obesity.”

 

 

This, in essence, means that by posting (or bloggingvlogging, etc.) you’re actually tapping into aspects of human psychology and our desire to be both relevant and useful in our helping of others. Whether you’re looking to drum up new business or further establish yourself in the field, the new age of digital media, however ubiquitous and sometimes distracting, provides the ultimate landscape for you to market yourself like never before.

6 tools you can take advantage of today

The best part is that you can get started right away. Creating a Business Page via Facebook is easier than ever and totally free. LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and other social media outlets are also free and easier than ever to use. While promoted posts (those that reach users outside of your established networks) will require a budget, you may be amazed at how far your content can go without spending a single penny.

So, without further ado…here are 6 easy suggestions you can use to begin building your presence online and growing your medical practice as a result:

  1. Using your Facebook page, LinkedIn or other business account, share stories and pictures of satisfied patients. Whether this is a “feel good” story, a new testimonial or information about somebody that’s been coming to you for years, the power of compelling patient stories are truly unparalleled online.
  2. Write a thoughtful or informative post that positions yourself as a thought leader and industry expert. As we explored above, people are searching for voices they can trust when they need it most. Share your expertise, industry takeaways and proven suggestions to begin building your following and earning new referrals outside of your existing network.
  3. Advertise and update your availability in real-time. You can make your business hours public, make an announcement of an updated holiday schedule or provide details of parking near your practice. When patients can check online to access your availability as-needed, they’ll begin checking more frequently leading up to an appointment or exam.
  4. Respond to comments or reviews, thoughtfully and positively. By engaging with patients, you’ll show that you’re listening and dedicated to their satisfaction. This is an easy way to win patient loyalty and show others a compassionate perspective.
  5. Post new promotions, service updates or other pertinent information as it becomes available. If business is slow, you can create a quick marketing effort to bring new patients in. If business is booming, thank your existing patients!
  6. Tap into your patient network. Whether it’s to build a patient following, or strengthen the relationships you have with your patients, engaging with them on social media enables you to tap into their network just as much as you’re inviting them to tap into yours.

Whether you’ve already started using these tips or are just now beginning, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish with the right approach.

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How Social Media Can Support #Biosimilars

How Social Media Can Support #Biosimilars | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

As many of you are likely aware by now, at the CBI Annual Biosimilars Summit this past January, I joined forces with Eric Sjogren, formerly of Merck, to present on a series of predictions made at the end of the 2017 conference. Though a handful of the predictions we addressed were straight-and-narrow, there were a few we couldn’t easily tackle given our innate lack of omniscience. (Sigh.) One of these harder-to-answer predictions was that patients would turn to their doctors and social media more frequently to learn about biosimilars. Though Sjogren and I couldn’t say whether this was true or false, we did remark that it’s an interesting age for social media in the pharma space — and this certainly extends into biosimilars as well.   

When I first entered the pharma world as an editor a few years ago, there were a number of ongoing conversations about how pharma companies could use social media to help with patient engagement, trial recruitment, education, and even post-marketing surveillance. As patients become more engaged in their treatments — and in many cases seek out a community on social media — it makes sense this would be a valuable way to reach them. And, according to a recent research report, pharma’s attempts to refine its social media efforts are having a positive effect.

In March 2018, Ogilvy published “The Social Check-up 2018: Pharma in the Social Space,” revealing that a company doesn’t need a huge number of posts on a social platform to see greater engagement or social community growth. In fact, it turns out the companies with the highest overall social engagement — Novo Nordisk, J&J, and Novartis — did not necessarily have the highest number of posts throughout 2017. Instead, they created certain types of posts that helped improve their reception. For instance, the most engaging posts targeted a specific therapeutic area, highlighted the human aspect of the company, or joined in larger conversations around awareness campaigns (e.g., World Cancer Day or Earth Day).

Biosimilar Goings-On In The Social Media Sphere

Although I’m a member of the millennial generation which is supposed to be quite fluent in social media, my skills rarely extend beyond posting or retweeting poems, biosimilar news/articles, and cat videos. (My Twitter profile is a strange place for all involved.) But in the countless moments I’ve spent scrolling through social media platforms, a few ways they’re being used by pharma companies, organizations, and patients have caught my eye. Though they aren’t all posts about biosimilars, I think they’re worth calling attention to as potential strategies for biosimilar companies and other stakeholders.

Facebook: According to Ogilvy’s research, Facebook was actually where pharma companies saw the greatest engagement. (Facebook posts earned an average of 524 engagements. YouTube came in the lowest with three.) I can’t specifically pinpoint a biosimilar-related effort on Facebook. But an article in FiercePharma a few weeks ago caught my eye because of how one company chose to use the Facebook Live function. Boehringer Ingelheim is currently working to expand the label of its idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) treatment Ofev to treat some patients with scleroderma. To bolster education on the condition, the company launched a campaign called “More than Scleroderma — The Inside Story”  on its website, featuring stories and photos of patients impacted by the disease. But to bolster education about the disease, the company also Facebook Live-streamed a patient-based panel discussion (related to their campaign) that took place at a European conference. I’ve often wondered about the value of Facebook Live in disseminating information — especially if it was used to stream portions of a patient access panel (or a specific “for the patients” educational panel) at a biosimilar conference to increase access and spread knowledge about biosimilars or their therapeutic areas.

Twitter: I could, of course, discuss the fact that many pharma companies, industry organizations, and patient groups have Twitter handles. Biosimilar conferences have hashtags for their events so people tweeting at the conference (or following from afar) are able to keep up. I equip a majority of the articles I post with a biosimilar hashtag (#biosimilars) in case someone is searching Twitter for biosimilar articles. In the past, Twitter has also been the place where companies have taken a stance on a key issue — for instance, Merck’s CEO announced his resignation from the president’s manufacturing council last year, and Allergan’s Brett Saunders tweeted his “social contract” to keep annual price increases below 10 percent. But I would argue the true winner of the pharma Twitter universe has been the FDA’s efforts. Since taking the helm, Scott Gottlieb has been a regular addition to my news feed, whether he’s announcing new guidances, new initiatives, drug approvals, or issues the FDA plans to take a stance on or solve. Overall, I’d argue the FDA has never been more “present” than it is today, and I think a large part of that has to do with its presence on Twitter. Though Ogilvy’s social media study found Twitter was on the lower end of the engagement spectrum for pharma (average of 61 engagements per post), these efforts to amplify the FDA’s voice are a benefit for the biosimilar industry in particular. As we continue to face safety and efficacy questions in this space, I’ve wondered if those fears aren’t driven by an inherent distrust of the regulatory bodies making those decisions. To see the agency sharing (albeit bite-sized) pieces of information on Twitter about the work being done ensures the FDA doesn’t remain a large, anonymous, siloed body.

Reddit: Since I don’t use this platform, I know very little about it except that it enables members of the Internet community to strike up dialogue on pretty much any topic — regardless of how obscure it may be. (To many people, a thread about biosimilars is a great example of one of those obscure conversations.) I wouldn’t have even thought about it as an educational tool for biosimilars. But in keeping with their ongoing social media blaze, the FDA turned to Reddit (specifically the pharmacy subreddit) a few weeks ago to host a biosimilar Q&A. (And it turns out the FDA wasn’t the first to bring biosimilars into the wacky world of Reddit — I also found a biosimilar-related Q&A thread published by a chemist working in the field of biosimilars.) If you read through the FDA’s lengthy thread, there are a wide variety of questions posed about what biosimilars are, how they’re regulated, ongoing legal issues, interchangeability, and pricing schemes — to name a few. I applaud the FDA for venturing into this communication channel. In fact, I’d be interested to learn more about what led them to this platform. Was it simply to support the agency’s ongoing efforts to bolster its transparency and approachability, or were there other factors?

Instagram: I’d argue this is one of the most interesting platforms for biosimilar makers to check out. According to Ogilvy, this social channel poses great opportunities for companies looking to boost their social engagement moving forward (but only if they have a “visually compelling story to tell.”) But if we step away from the use of social media as a tool for a company to educate or engage stakeholders, I’d argue Instagram is a great tool for showing how biosimilars are being used and experienced in the real world. Simply by searching the terms “Inflectra” or “Benepali,” you will find pictures of people from all over the world sitting at IVs or injecting themselves with auto injectors filled with biosimilars they’ve termed “life elixirs” or “magical liquid.” (One of my favorite biosimilar posts was a photo of a Benepali auto-injector sitting next to a plate of a triple-chocolate cookie dough bake topped with custard. A winning combination, if I do say so myself.) What I found most interesting was the amount of engagement amongst patients in the comments on some of these posts. There are followers offering well-wishes and encouragement, asking questions about the treatment, or sharing their own experiences with the condition or treatment at hand. Of course, there are a few harder posts to see — ones that describe an ineffective switch to a biosimilar or a lack of efficacy. But most notable is that the majority of posts mentioning the biosimilar are depictions of patients living with and confronting their conditions. Right now, those of us in the industry are fighting to get through certain industry politics and fear-mongering to enable greater access. But what these images tell me is that, at the end of the day, patients (at least on the surface level) are putting their faith in and integrating biosimilars into their treatment regimens — just as they would an innovator biologic. There’s no drama or politics in these photos, but there is hope. One post I cannot get out of my mind was of a young woman smiling after receiving her first treatment, accompanied by one unforgettable phrase: “I am normal!”

These are just a few of the many ways I’m sure social media has been used in the pharma space. Those of you who are social media aficionados in companies, no doubt, will continue to creatively engage patients on a number of different platforms. But I was also drawn to this topic given the conversation I had recently with Erin Federman, an expert from Mylan. As we discussed, there is a need to ensure that biosimilar policies and the discussions about biosimilars remain informed by the human aspect. Social media can provide a more human element to the work pharma companies and regulatory agencies do all day, as well as provide all of you working in the pharma industry with insights into what your patients care about most.

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Patient Experience Made Easy

Patient Experience Made Easy | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

You’ve just been nominated as the “social media person” at your practice. How do you feel?

You may have a few great ideas for Facebook posts. You can’t wait to post a few selfies with favorite patients. Maybe you’ve even brainstormed a few video topics with the team.

Still, sometimes social media success can seem as unpredictable as a shell game.

When done right, social media can be a valuable tool for connecting with patients and marketing your practice. However, when done wrong, it might damage your brand reputation. Quite the conundrum!

No worries. Here are 10 common social media mistakes–and how you can avoid them. 

Mistake 1: Not knowing your audience

A dancing toothbrush may catch the attention of kids and moms, but if the majority of your patients are baby boomers, you’ve missed your target. How about some tips about Medicare, instead?

The point is, profile your ideal patient segment so you can catch and keep your target audience’s attention.

Mistake 2: Right content, wrong platform

Are you posting on the social channels where your patients spend the most time? For instance, if only a handful of your patients really use Twitter, you probably won’t want to spend a huge amount of time on that platform.

Also, consider content that will best showcase your business. Check out different social platforms to see if your content is a good match. For example, Instagram won’t let you upload your latest blog post; however, blog posts are easy to re-post on Facebook and Twitter.

Social media is continually evolving, so your strategy should also. If you start out on one platform and find you aren’t getting any traction, don’t be afraid to try another.

Just remember: like Rome, most social success wasn’t built in a day.

Mistake 3: Too many posts

Just because you post every day doesn’t mean the content you’re providing is valuable. The length of your post and amount of sharing depends on both your platform and your audience.

Don’t get us wrong: it’s still important to post often if your posts are engaging and authentic. Quality content will always be welcome, especially when it’s a timely topic that’s relevant to your audience. 

At the end of the day, just remember that quality is as important as quantity.

Mistake 4: No written plan

Your social media strategy is the framework you use to plan, prioritize, execute, measure, and optimize your marketing and engagement efforts. Ideally, your plan will help you plot your course weekly and monthly instead of just day by day.

Without a plan, you may end up with inconsistent activity and lackluster content that leaves your patients wondering about your service. Even the most rudimentary plan will point you in the right direction. Just get started!

Mistake 5: Delayed interactions

If a patient called your office and was met with silence on the other end of the line, they’d hang up.

Social media is no different. When you respond quickly to questions, compliments, and complaints on social media, you show prospects and current patients that you value them and genuinely want to offer fantastic customer service.

Mistake 6: Ignoring analytics

Why bother with social analytics? In a nutshell, these numbers tell you what’s working and what’s not. Every major social media platform lets you view reports, identify trends, and give your audience more of what it wants.

Use social metrics to identify your most engaging content so you can re-share it later. Those numbers will also help you refine your strategy and improve future posts.

Over time, analytics can help you increase your social media marketing ROI. And that’s good news for your practice.

Mistake 7: Zero personality

You can be informative and boring, or informative and entertaining.

And guess what? Your patients want the latter. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. Use stories and images of real people that showcase your unique culture and build stronger relationships with patients.

Mistake 8: Straying off topic

People are looking to you as an expert in your field–and your practice and content should reflect that. While it may be tempting to post the latest viral video or political commentary, it won’t build patients’ respect or grow your practice.

By the way: it’s not that a viral video is innately bad. But before you post, make sure the content really suits your culture, staff, and services.

Mistake 9: The hard sell

It’s no surprise that most social media users want helpful information, not a sales pitch. After all, social media platforms are designed around the individual experience of sharing with friends and family.

That’s why you’ll always respect your patients by sharing content that is useful, engaging, or entertaining.

It’s okay to announce the occasional promotion or announce 15 percent off a procedure for the most referrals by the end of the month. Just don’t get in the habit of posting promotional content 24/7. 

Mistake 10: Insensitive Posts

Many businesses have learned the hard way that posts may be perceived differently by those of various races, religions, sexual orientations, or economic backgrounds.

Unfortunately, it only takes one insensitive post to damage your brand reputation. That’s why it’s best to implement a review policy before posts go live. Even one more pair of eyes can help you spot potential problems before it’s too late

Of course, you can always delete posts after the fact. All the same, it’s better to avoid hassles by vetting your content before you publish.

To sum up:

Social media is a low-cost way to increase your practice’s visibility and help others connect with you in a more personal way. Even if you make some mistakes, you can recover from them and move forward successfully!

As you work to avoid the pitfalls described above, you can expect even more community loyalty to your practice. Sounds like a recipe for future growth to us.

What social media wisdom have you learned by trial and error? We’d love to hear your stories.

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Social media: A double-edged sword?

Social media: A double-edged sword? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

#JawSurgery: Analysis of social media use in orthognathic surgery patients

Br Dent J 2018; 224: 635–638 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/sj.bdj.2018.266

The increasing prevalence of social media in the last decade combined with the fact that 5% of all Google searches were health related, means it may be more likely that individuals consult 'Dr Google' for their symptoms before picking up their phone to ring their GMP or GDP.

Image: ©Miami Herald, Contributor/Tribune News Service/Getty

To investigate this phenomenon, authors Olivia Coleman and colleagues studied a group of 51 orthognathic surgery patients at Bristol Dental Hospital to find out how they used social media to obtain health-related information related to their treatment. A questionnaire was given to each patient to evaluate if there should be more invested in social media to support this patient group. They were mainly teenagers and young adults – an age group where use of social network sites (SNS) is comparably higher than others.

An analysis of 47 valid responses showed that 94% of patients were always or very likely to use the internet for health information, which was the highest compared to other options. While internet usage as a source of information was the most popular option, nearly half (49%) of responders have also browsed SNS in relation to their orthognathic treatment.

The survey also revealed that 87% of responders reported that using social media reduced anxiety with treatment. Multiple studies reflect agreement with this, as patients can reach out and interact with those having similar experiences, thoughts and feelings.

Eighty-nine percent of patients reported trusting information from medical professionals online, while 56% trusted those of general users. Information online is mostly unverified, making it possibly inaccurate and misleading. It is essential that patients are discerning while reading non-professional websites and advice from unqualified individuals online.

Ultimately, it is evident that younger patients prefer interactive sites over static sites where information is shared in a one-way manner. Ideally, health boards could produce administered social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with an element of interactivity that these patients seek in order to allow them to share experiences with each other.

Social media can indeed be a double-edged sword for the healthcare industry but it is a trend that is unlikely to die down. From this study, it can be seen that patients are shying away from leaflets, preferring social media instead to obtain information. Nevertheless, it is important that more studies are conducted into this matter, such as on the use of blogs or the quality of social media postings online.

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6 Healthcare Marketing Ideas to Cure Your Social Media Woes

6 Healthcare Marketing Ideas to Cure Your Social Media Woes | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

 

Around half of the world’s population (3.3 billion people) are now active on social media.

Today, social media isn’t just a place for friends and family to stay in touch. It’s where people go to catch up on the latest news. This is where your clients search for recommendations and even for healthcare providers. Social has turned into a place where you connect with loyal and long-term patients.

For the healthcare industry, social media helps to engage patients, promote new partner relationships and improve the credibility of doctors. One study found that 57% of patients decide where to get treatment based on a provider’s social media presence. Another report shows that 60% of doctors feel that social media improves the quality of care they give their patients.

When social media increases patient satisfaction and boosts brand reputation, it’s no surprise that countless doctors jump on the digital bandwagon.

Healthcare & Social Media: The Benefits of Marketing

Before we start exploring healthcare marketing ideas for your new strategy, let’s drill into the benefits a great campaign can offer.

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of social media healthcare marketing is that it allows doctors and medical experts to connect with patients in real-time. The more you communicate with your clients, the more you build a relationship with them.

 

When someone is in pain, they want support from someone they know and trust. Social media establishes crucial connections with your target market, so you become the obvious choice for anyone in search of medical care.

Healthcare marketing can also:

  • Educate your patients: Social media and content marketing allows physicians to share useful information with patients. This helps support preventative care initiatives and also makes it easier for clients to determine what kind of medical care they need.
  • Facilitate collaboration: Through social media sites like LinkedIn, healthcare experts collaborate with their industry peers to expand their skills and improve knowledge. Networking also improves your chances of referrals from other doctors and surgeons.
  • Expand brand awareness: Today, almost every brand knows that if they want to get the best possible share of clients, they need to be active online. The right healthcare marketing ideas help you reach the targeted audience that’s right for you–whether that’s cosmetic surgery patients or families in search of general care.

So how can you combine healthcare and social media to master marketing for a modern audience? Follow these six healthcare marketing tips to get started:

 
 
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1. Make Wellness a Lot More Fun

Health is a serious topic, but that doesn’t mean your brand has to be all doom and gloom. By having a little fun with your healthcare marketing campaigns, you convince your clients they don’t have to dread a visit to your practice.

Look at the “We Dare You” Campaign from United Healthcare, for instance. This marketing strategy is a fantastic example of how healthcare brands engage with their following and raise awareness for important concepts. The website hosts monthly quizzes, dares and competitions that convince people to take an active part in their healthcare plan.

The campaign was a success because it was fun, interesting and an all around different approach to healthcare. It encouraged people to make one healthy change to their lifestyle each month and document it on social media. Encouraging patients to take part in wellness not only improves their quality of life, but it draws attention back to your brand too. A branded hashtag like #MyHospital could encourage your engaged patients to send more people to your practice.

Firelands Hospital@FRMC_Hospital
 
 

#MyHospital stands with the more than 5,000 other U.S. hospitals in providing quality patient care to Americans #HospitalWeek

 

 

2. Go Viral by Appealing to Community Values

Social media is all about building active relationships. Every minute there are more than 120 new LinkedIn accounts created, 452,000 tweets sent, and 900,000 Facebook logins. The key to successful healthcare marketing is figuring out how to activate this engaged community in a way that’s positive for your brand.

Viral marketing has been something of a buzzword over the last few years–used to refer to campaigns that rocket quickly into fame and capture the attention of a wide audience. Healthcare companies are perfectly suited to take advantage of viral marketing because their focus is on a topic that everyone cares about. Everyone wants to fight back against cancer, cure disease and live a healthy life.

All you need to do is find a way to reach out to a community who’s already willing to act for an important cause. Partnering with a charity on a campaign could be the perfect way to show your patients how much you care about them. For instance, an oncology clinic could partner with a campaign like MacMillan’s Brave the Shave to simultaneously raise awareness for an important cause and their own brand.

Brave The Shave@Brave_The_Shave
 
 

We’re looking for people for our 2018 Brave the Shave photoshoot! They will take place from next week through to April. We’ll make it a really special day, with a professional photographer, make up and expenses paid. Email us at bravetheshave@macmillan.org.uk for more info.

 

 

3. Be a Source of Helpful Information

One of the things that make illness and disease so scary is the fact that we don’t really understand them. When people search for a doctor, they’re looking for someone to help them to fight against problems they may know very little about. One of the best things you can do for your healthcare marketing strategy is to show your clients that you’re a reliable source of in-depth clinical knowledge.

In a world where today’s patients are constantly searching for the diagnosis to their aches and pains online, it’s important that you’re there to answer your follower’s questions. Use your social media page to share links to blogs and case studies that might help your patients to answer complicated questions about disease prevention and healthcare.

As video grows increasingly popular on social media, Facebook Live could be a fantastic way to connect with your followers. For instance, the Mayo Clinic hosts a regular #AskTheMayoMom video stream. These live Q&A sessions allow moms-to-be to ask a professional any pressing questions they might have about pregnancy, labor or aftercare.

4. Embrace the Infographic

While it’s important to share valuable information as part of your healthcare marketing campaigns, it’s also worth it to share that info in an easily digestible way for your followers. While doctors and nurses often use medical jargon and percentages to explain their points, hard facts get dry pretty fast on social media.

Remember, your marketing campaigns need to be emotional, interesting and relatable. Create content for an audience that doesn’t know much about the medical industry. The easiest way to do this is to assume you’re writing for someone who has absolutely no prior knowledge of your niche.

When it comes to creating easy-to-absorb content, visuals are often the easiest way to connect with your followers. An infographic on myths about the flu is much easier to absorb and share than a 10-page case study. Look for ways to make complicated information easier to understand for your audience. For instance, Health Digest recently posted an image gallery on Facebook with quick tips on how people can eliminate pain without medication.

The list is fun, helpful and it gets straight to the point. Remember, simple and useful content encourages your audience to share your posts with their friends and that helps to boost your brand reach.

5. Use Employee Advocates to Build Relationships

Perhaps more than any other industry, the healthcare sector relies on relationships. Illness is a scary thing and your patients want to feel comfortable with the doctor they choose. That’s why it’s important to go beyond your branded pages when you’re investing in healthcare marketing ideas.

Your nurses, doctors and even administrative staff are the people who interact with your patients every day. They know which problems your clients face, and they understand how to immerse themselves in these communities. Activating your staff with the help of an employee advocacy campaign can be a great way to bring more humanity to your healthcare practice.

For instance, you could ask your advocates to link back to your page or even post videos with tips and tricks from people inside your team. Even posting pictures of your team in their element and encouraging them to retweet your shares can be enough to boost your healthcare marketing strategy.

 

6. Empower Your Patients to Market for You

Finally, why spend all your time stressing about healthcare marketing, when you can get your patients to do it for you? Patient reviews can be a fantastic way to improve the credibility of your medical practice and boost visibility. In fact, 80% of people say they look for health information online before going to a hospital or doctor.

While you’re curating content for your employee advocates or encouraging them to share your tweets online, make sure you don’t overlook your customer ambassadors. Sending surveys to your patients after they’ve visited your practice or even asking them for feedback online is a great way to build your social proof.

Video testimonials of patient stories are incredibly moving–particularly if you have before-and-after shots to include. Just make sure that you stick to the HIPAA guidelines and get permission for any information you want to share.

Abrams Eye Institute@abramseyeLV
 
 

We strive to give our patients the very best experience, treatment, and care. We are blessed to have such great patients. #Friday #review #doctor

 

 

Combining Healthcare & Social Media

Relationships have always been an important part of healthcare marketing strategies. Today, the rise of social media and online marketing means it’s easier to make a connection with your patients than ever before.

Using the tips and strategies above, medical professionals can find new ways to reach out to their audience, demonstrate their expertise and help their practice thrive. Remember to keep track of your marketing campaigns as you implement them. The more you learn about which content your audience responds to best, the easier it will be to create an online strategy that really resonates with your patients.

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Containing health myths in the age of viral misinformation

Containing health myths in the age of viral misinformation | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

t has never been easier in human history to find and share information about health and medicine. But much of the information found on the Internet and shared on social media is inaccurate and potentially dangerous. As more people seek health content online, it will become increasingly important for medical researchers and practitioners to find effective ways of steering the public toward evidence-based content and away from myths and pseudoscience.

Viral misinformation has become a threat to public health. Unfounded fears about vaccines have resulted in the re-emergence of preventable diseases. Purveyors of naturopathy and homeopathy have huge audiences on social media, and often discourage their followers from seeking medical care for serious illnesses. Fad diets with unhealthy adverse effects, unproven wellness products hawked by celebrities, appeals to opinion and emotion over facts and reason — all of these proliferate online like bacteria on agar.

What can science and medicine do to contain the threat of health misinformation? Throwing more facts at the problem, unfortunately, is not the answer. People who study the growing disregard for evidence in society suggest this is more a matter of human psychology than scientific literacy. No matter how much contrary evidence they encounter, people tend to cling to long-held health myths. Many social media users avoid sources of information that challenge their views, sticking to communities in which their beliefs are confirmed.1

Nor is it constructive for medical experts to talk down to people whose beliefs fall outside the consensus within the scientific community. Well-known physicians and scientists with large numbers of followers on social media frequently dismiss views they deem unworthy of respect, with disparaging remarks and putdowns. As a result, people who already have misgivings about modern medicine become further alienated. Humility, compassion and friendly persuasion would perhaps make for a more productive approach to changing minds than combative superiority.

It is beyond the scope of medicine to fix the Internet, but tech-savvy medical experts can assist in the fight against misinformation. They can lend their expertise to technology companies and help develop better methods of weeding out low-quality health content and promoting medical knowledge based on scientific data. The medical community can also experiment with unconventional ways of disseminating accurate health information.

One new approach that has shown promise is contacting social media influencers and asking them to share useful medical content with their followers.2 This can be a more productive means of reaching a skeptical audience than having medical experts use traditional channels of communication, which usually go no further than likeminded peers. The goal of generating medical knowledge, after all, is to improve human health, not receive kudos from colleagues.

Likewise, public health organizations need to improve their social media presence to help Internet users find accurate health information. A study of digital pandemics of public health misinformation found that in online discussions about a sample scientific publication, half of social media users encountered negative and nonempirical content unrelated to the original paper.3 The authors refer to this problem as “social diffusion,” and concluded that public health organizations must employ new social media strategies to improve their communication of public health information.

At the clinical level, doctors attempting to change the minds of patients who cling to potentially harmful health myths and misconceptions will need patience. People are unlikely to abandon long-held beliefs overnight, especially if it means abandoning online communities that have become an important part of their lives. A meta-analysis of the factors underlying effective messages to counter attitudes based on misinformation found that these beliefs are persistent in the face of debunking.4 Success rates improve, however, if people are encouraged to scrutinize their information sources, and if the debunking message includes new information that provides additional context rather than merely labelling a patient’s belief as incorrect.

The Internet and social media aren’t going anywhere, and patients will continue to seek and share health information online. Misinformation will persist as well. Helping patients live healthier lives includes helping them find better health information.

Footnotes

References

    1. Del Vicario M
    2. Bessi A
    3. Zollo F
    4. et al
    The spreading of misinformation online. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A2016;113:5549.
    1. Vogel L
    Viral misinformation threatens public health. CMAJ 2017;189:E1567.
    FREE Full TextGoogle Scholar
    1. Seymour B
    2. Getman R
    3. Saraf A
    4. et al
    When advocacy obscures accuracy online: digital pandemics of public health misinformation through an antifluoride case study. Am J Public Health 2015;105:51723.
    PubMedGoogle Scholar
    1. Chan MS
    2. Jones CR
    3. Hall Jamieson K
    4. et al
    Debunking: a meta-analysis of the psychological efficacy of messages countering misinformation. Psychol Sci 201728:153146.
    Google Scholar
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Telemedicine and social media intersect to advance population health

Telemedicine and social media intersect to advance population health | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Telehealth and social media appear to be on a collision course that could ultimately help physicians drive population health efforts to better manage chronic disease, and reduce readmissions and ER visits for patients who need help managing a health issue.

And as telehealth continues to gain traction and people look for new ways to engage with physicians and their own healthcare, social media seems an obvious channel to enhance these goals. 

Quite often patients have questions following an episode of care that they'd rather not re-enter the in-office patient queue to answer. A quick query made via social media falls in line with the type of consumer-centric approach patients, especially millennials, are seeking. With the consumer power and share of the patient population millennials will occupy in years to come, it is likely social media will occupy at least an ancillary role in healthcare communications considering its popularity among that generation.

 
The evidence is emerging that social media could play an increasingly important role in the doctor-patient relationship. A new survey, conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association, found that more than half of millennials, 54 percent as well as 42 percent of adults, would like to be friends with or follow their healthcare providers on social media. 

The research also found 65 percent and 43 percent of all adults felt it appropriate to contact their physician regarding a health issue via social media, either by posting on their page or direct messaging them. 

Doctors, however, are still fine tuning how to navigate such correspondence and set appropriate guidelines and barriers. 

"Please don't send me a picture of your rash on Facebook Messenger. I want to be an active part of my patient's care, but social media does open up opportunities for over-sharing or providing information that would be best managed in the office setting or through designated telemedical technology," Jennifer Caudle, an osteopathic family physician and associate professor at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine told the AOA. 

While health professionals are barred from sharing information over social media that could identify a patient, violating their privacy rights, the AOA said some physicians find social media to be an effective tool for sharing important medical information, especially since young people often don't see a doctor enough.  

But with nearly one-third of Americans, 32 percent, having acted on health information obtained on social media, such as diet changes, exercise, medication or alternative treatments, according to the AOA survey, social media and telehealth could also prove valuable in reducing readmissions. 

By acting as another medium through which patients can access physicians for follow-up advice or care questions stemming from procedures and visits, the technologies could curb potential secondary issues by giving patients the information needed to adjust their own behavior in a timely fashion. The same could be said for the management of chronic disease.

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 5 Top Tips for Marketing Your Medical Practice

 5 Top Tips for Marketing Your Medical Practice | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

If you’re looking for better ways to promote your medical practice, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed: search engine marketing, social media, blogs, direct mail…the options can seem endless. To help make it easier, here are five of our top tips for marketing your medical practice:

 

Build a Website for Your Practice

If you want to attract new patients, you’ll need to market yourself online – and to do this, you need a professional-looking website. More than 70% of adults in the U.S. search for health information online. This means you need a responsive site that looks good on any type of device, from computer to tablet to mobile phone. It also means that your site content needs to be written in a way that helps build trust in your healthcare practice.

 

Engage Your Patients with Email Marketing

Email isn’t just a way to send routine information like appointment reminders. You can – and should – be using it to communicate with patients, even when they don’t need to visit your office regularly. Your email messages can be about anything, from a monthly Health Tip, to a quarterly eNewsletter, to an announcement about an upcoming event. And with a low-cost email marketing platform like Constant Contact or MailChimp, you can easily automate your email campaigns, so it won’t take up much of your time. The key to email marketing success is to ensure your content educates and engages with both current and future patients.

 

Don’t Forget About Direct Mail!

While email is an incredibly efficient way to communicate with your patients, it’s still easy for people to ignore an email. So, why not try sending out “Welcome to the Practice” letters to all new patients, or sending birthday cards to all your patients. Personal touches like this will help you keep your patients happy—and happy patients are much more likely to refer you to their friends and family. 

 

Market Your Practice on Facebook

With more than 2 billion monthly active users, Facebook is a powerful marketing tool you can use to promote your practice – for free. However, a lot of healthcare providers don’t give their Facebook business page much thought after the initial set-up. Many people don’t realize it’s a great way to engage with patients – for example, you can post a “Fitness Challenge” and ask people to post a picture to show they’ve completed it. Facebook helps you hear what your current (and future) patients have to say and helps them feel more connected to you. And it’s the ultimate way to get word-of-mouth referrals.

 

Build Your Online Reputation

 

Today, people often use online reviews as a first step to find a new doctor. Unfortunately, they typically focus on the bad reviews more than the good. So, tobuild (and manage) your online reputation, you need to embrace online ratings and reviews. Ask your patients to rate you: add a clickable link to your website, send an email request, or keep a tablet at the front desk where patients can review you before they leave your office. Ideally, you want new reviews every week to build up your total volume of positive reviews. In time, and with enough positive reviews, your ratings will rise to the top in any online search despite a few (inevitable) critical reviews.

 

Medical professionals work with iHealthSpot because they know they need a full-service digital marketing partner that can support the unique needs of their healthcare practice. From award winning medical website design and proprietary patient education content, to online marketing including social media and reputation management, we enable medical practices to market themselves using proven online and offline marketing strategies.

 

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Digital RD 4 Ways To Maximize Patient Engagement In Clinical Trials

The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions recently interviewed 43 biopharmaceutical industry stakeholders to explore where the industry sees value and opportunities for using digital technologies in the clinical development process; understand reasons behind the relatively slow pace of digital adoption; and uncover strategies to overcome barriers and accelerate the use of digital in clinical trials. This is the first of two articles that shares interview findings and insights published in the new Deloitte Center for Health Solutions report Digital R&D: Transforming the future of clinical development.

During the last decade, biopharmaceutical companies have successfully brought many breakthrough treatments to market. Still, industry stakeholders often say the current high-risk, high-cost R&D model is unsustainable. A Deloitte analysis of return on pharmaceutical R&D investments for a cohort of 12 large biopharma companies shows a sustained decline from 10.1 percent in 2010 to 3.2 percent in 2017.1

Many clinical trials still rely on 1990s-era processes, and many R&D functions are yet to fully leverage real-world evidence (RWE), genomics information, and emerging data sources such as the Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, mobile apps, and more. Digital technologies may have the potential to transform the way biopharma companies engage, execute, and innovate during the clinical trial process by addressing many of the pain points faced by sponsors, investigators, and trial staff, including those impacting patient identification, recruitment, and retention throughout the life of the trial.

As patients’ (e.g., trial “consumers”) expectations evolve, they will likely demand a more inclusive and personalized trial experience. Digital technologies can radically improve the patient experience and support other patient-centric objectives by making trial participation less burdensome and redefining how patient care is delivered during clinical trials.

1. Fewer empty seats: Digital technologies can expedite patient recruitment and increase population diversity.

Recruiting patients to fill clinical trials has become increasingly difficult. Almost 15 to 20 percent of trials never manage to enroll a single patient, and more than two-thirds of trial sites fail to reach their original enrollment goals for a trial.2 In addition, traditional recruitment approaches have largely failed to garner study participants who reflect real-world patient cohorts — in the United States, for instance, only 10 percent of clinical trial participants are non-white, although increasing evidence suggests that factors such as ethnicity and gender can impact drug performance and healthcare outcomes.2 Digital technologies can reduce the effort and cost involved in patient identification and help recruit a more diverse and representative study population. Technology-aided approaches can include advertising on websites and online patient communities, targeting patient opinion leaders through social media, and mining unstructured patient data (e.g., social media, electronic health records, lab results). Some solutions help patients find trials, while others help investigators find patients. 

Antidote, through its platform, Antidote Match, culls data from clinicaltrials.gov and uses machine learning along with minor human intervention to create structured eligibility criteria for single or multiple studies. The platform automatically generates a pre-feasibility questionnaire that translates complicated medical terms into easy-to-understand language for patients. Completing the questionnaire can enable patients to easily sift through hundreds of studies and find the ones they are eligible for. As of September 2017, Antidote had allowed patients in the United States to search close to 14,000 trials and plans to extend coverage to all U.S. trials in the coming year.3

2. From subjects to collaborators: Digital tech can increase patient engagement in the research process.

Biopharma companies could gain greater insight from trial participants by treating them as collaborators instead of subjects and by seeking their input on issues such as overcoming research mistrust and addressing patient-specific concerns related to study design.4 Many forward-looking clinical teams are using digital technologies to measure patient-centric endpoints — such as quality of life or the ability to perform specific daily activities — and incorporate patient feedback into the trial process through, for example, online surveys and focus groups, study pilots, and crowdsourcing. In addition, many of these teams are using patient feedback on their trial experience to shape the final treatment.

3. Less travel time: Digital technologies can make trial participation more convenient.

Traveling to clinical sites for assessments, sometimes several times a month, is a major burden for some trial participants. In fact, 70 percent of potential participants in the United States live more than 2 hours away from the nearest study center, which often impacts their willingness and ability to participate. Virtual trials can make it possible for patients to participate in certain studies from the comfort of their homes, reducing or even eliminating the need to travel to sites. Such trials leverage social media, e-consent, telemedicine, apps, and biosensors to communicate with patients and support both passive and active data collection. The individuals we interviewed for this research estimate about half of all clinical trials can be conducted either partially or completely on a virtual basis.

Roche used an app connected to smartphone sensors to remotely monitor participants in a multiple sclerosis (MS) study and compare readings with in-clinic assessments. The app directed patients to perform tasks such as hand and wrist turning, gait and balance exercises, and cognitive tests to assess their neurological activity. The data from the sensors created a continuous picture of a patient’s disease progression. Analysts found that results from remote patient monitoring were comparable to in-clinic assessments and, in some instances, were even more sensitive.5

4. More consistent treatment: Digital tools can improve clinical trial patient care and treatment adherence.

Today, patient adherence is measured primarily through self-reporting: researchers ask patients whether they are taking the prescribed drugs and review their diaries (if there are diaries as part of a protocol). Blood tests to validate self-reported data are another way to measure adherence, but they’re not always practical or affordable, and may require additional site visits. Digital technologies can improve patient care and increase treatment adherence throughout the length of a trial. For instance, text messaging and smartphone apps can remind patients to take their medication, record health data, answer patients’ questions in real time, and schedule their visits. Digital adherence tools that use facial recognition can confirm that medicine has been taken and generate non-adherence alerts to investigators.6

Transforming the future of clinical trials

While digitalizing clinical development can be a complex, resource-intensive, and lengthy undertaking, the rewards can be significant. Digital technologies can radically improve the patient experience, create efficiencies, and lower costs throughout the entire clinical development process and can increase the amount and quality of data collected in trials. In addition, digital technologies can facilitate participation by clinical research staff, investigators, and study nurses and help enable faster cycle times for products in development.

The first big shift has already taken place – many in the biopharma industry realize the importance of patient engagement and the need to design trials that put the patient front and center. Now, it’s a matter of using digital technologies to make that happen — and quickly. Given the complexity of operationalizing a digital strategy and the industry’s relatively slow pace of digital adoption, this should be the time to be a leader, not a fast follower, as undue delay could put biopharma organizations at a competitive disadvantage.

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