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Infectious Disease Research Gets a Boost from Websites, Blogs, and Social Media

Infectious Disease Research Gets a Boost from Websites, Blogs, and Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

While public health officials around the world are on alert about the pandemic potential of new disease threats, a team that includes Penn State University biologist Marcel Salathé is developing innovative new systems and techniques to track the spread of infectious diseases, with the help of news websites, blogs, and social media. An article by Salathé and colleagues from the Harvard Medical School, published in the early online issue of the New England Journal of Medicine on 3 July 2013, describes the advantages and challenges of "digital epidemiology" -- a new field of increasing importance for tracking infectious disease outbreaks and epidemics by leveraging the widespread use of the Internet and mobile phones.


"In the past year, the world has seen an emerging outbreak of two viruses with considerable pandemic potential: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus and Avian Influenza A H7N9," Salathé said. He explained that the former is similar to the virus responsible for the SARS outbreak in 2002 and 2003 and has, since 2012, infected 64 people, 38 of them fatally. Influenza A H7N9 is a virus that normally circulates in birds but has, since the beginning of 2013, infected 137 people, 32 of them fatally.


"Digital epidemiology played a crucial role in the surveillance of both Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus and Avian Influenza A H7N9 by enhancing transparency and helping public health officials to understand outbreaks more fully. It is clear that the importance of digital epidemiology will only increase in the future as more people get mobile access to broadband around the globe," said Salathé, who uses data from social media in his research to study how sentiments about vaccination spread in populations. "With 6.8 billion mobile-phones and 2.9 billion people online, it's getting increasingly hard for any micro-organism to spread undetected for long."


Salathé also said he predicts that digital epidemiology will not be limited to just infectious diseases for long. "Mining these novel, big-data streams is of enormous interest to practically anyone interested in health and disease," he said. "For example, researchers and public health officials could use data-mining techniques to detect adverse drug reactions, assess mental disorders, or track health behaviors much faster than they do with traditional methods."


Salathé added that he is honored to have the opportunity to reach such a wide audience through the New England Journal of Medicine. "We're hoping to put digital epidemiology on the agenda of every public health agency to complement their traditional efforts to track diseases and assess and mitigate the spread of infectious diseases," he said.

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Social Media and Healthcare
Articles and Discussions on the intersection of Social Media and Healthcare.
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Social Media Implementation Checklist

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

MARGARITA's curator insight, December 31, 2015 5:15 PM

Support our people

United Home Healthcare's curator insight, June 12, 2017 12:29 PM
Being active on Social media can really help your company.
rob halkes's curator insight, September 15, 2017 6:04 AM

You might think that after 10+ years, social media for healthcare is a self evident activity,! Nothing is less true, however ;-) But here's a checklist you need if you still need to sign up ;-) 


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Is Pharma Socially Inhibited?

Is Pharma Socially Inhibited? | Social Media and Healthcare |

The Power of Social Media

Social media is one of the quickest and most direct ways of communication currently available. Whether people have questions and queries, or things go wrong, we should be able to have reasonable conversations over social media with any company. Social media has the power to build up and bring down the biggest of companies.

Engagement is Key

Pharma should become adept at communications over social media, so they can manage all requirements. A lack of engagement is an opportunity for misinformation, which can lead to a failure in understanding each other. When things are going well for a company, naturally this should be reflected across all social media, but when they aren’t, this should be addressed appropriately on there too. The way our industry deals with high profile problems is to shut down all engagement over social media, usually to avoid anyone admitting any responsibility and liability, and all communication is performed via their lawyers. Of course, there are times when lawyers are needed, but if brand loyalty has been built over time on social media, then any negativity would be dealt with more effectively. Moreover, communication is key to open and honest dialogue and more transparency.

Huge Opportunity for Pharma

Social media is here in a big way and it is not going anywhere anytime soon. It would be folly to ignore its potential to help shape the next era of communication. We have gone from mass outbound communication to a much more reactive and responsive form of communication because of social media. We now have the biggest opportunity that we have ever had to inform, educate, and engage with stakeholders. Opportunities to connect and engage with the audience should not be missed. Furthermore, there is slow but growing competition within the pharma industry, and if a few early adopters are on-board, it could be the game changer that our industry needs to drive itself forward.

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5 Ways for Doctors to Get More Patients Online –

5 Ways for Doctors to Get More Patients Online – | Social Media and Healthcare |

Some say doctors shouldn’t be offering their services on the Web: that it reeks of the quack for a healthcare professional to peddle himself thus. That seems a prejudiced view, though… especially when just about everyone else is going there. You can look for plumbers, cleaning services, and even lawyers on the Internet. Why not a doctor?

The frank truth is that many patients are already seeking their physicians online. Two decades ago, most doctors still got their business the old way: via direct referrals and recommendations. But now that both accessing the Web and getting on it are so easy, things have changed.

The smart doctor can take advantage of these changes instead of being run over by them. And make no mistake: some will be run over. People will continue to need medical care through the Internet age and beyond, yes. But where they turn to get that care is the question.

Doctors need to adapt to the new ways people look for them. We’re going to be discussing this at greater length in later articles, but for now, we can start simple and limit it to 5 steps.

The goal: to get more patients using the Web

As for the methods:

Establish an authentic, verified online presence.

Obviously, you should start with your own website. Every practice should have an official website that shows its authenticity to online users. It can also be a first point of discovery for people actually looking for clinics matching its traits (location, physician specialties, etc.).

You have to be doing some SEO (search engine optimization) for this to work, though. And it tends to be best to have your own domain name, since it really adds to the impression that you are not only “established” but an “authority”.

The next step is to get on sites like Yelp and Google. The idea is to put your practice in a place where people online typically look for services like yours. People who need you will be more likely to find you that way.

Google still tends to be the first port of call for surfers seeking a service

Being on SeriousMD’s directory also helps. We give you a free online profile page. This is a place where patients can find you and book time with you. We optimize the page ourselves and all you do is add information. So you hardly do a thing, yet get maximum visibility. It becomes public as soon as we verify your identity manually.

Your profile page also shows your clinics and hours at the bottom.

Other doctors are capitalizing on their profile pages already: they give unique URLs to their patients and use it as a business card to promote their business and online interviews.

You should also get on social media. But that deserves its own item.

Get on social media.

This does not mean becoming superglued to your smartphone, by the way. It just means starting to use social media a little more to benefit you. And not just any social media, but the right social media. What does that mean?

If you are like most medical professionals, then you are generally pressed for time as a resource. You will find it hard to manage a lot of social media accounts: say ones that run the gamut of all the current networks.

So the wiser course would be to focus your efforts on the channels likeliest to yield returns. To identify them, you may have to do some market research. Talk to your patients or run a quick survey of them and their families. Find out which social media networks they use most. These may be the ones you should be focusing on first since they are the ones likeliest to give you what you need.

Usually, that means Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These are places where you can show your expertise to others: both colleagues and patients seeking information. Having your own business page on all of these also makes your practice more discoverable online.

Some doctors’ Twitter accounts are very successful.

Some social networks (like Facebook) also give you a channel for patient reviews. That leads us to our next item.

Make use of the marketing potential in patient testimonials.

Patient testimonials are great online resources for any business. They tell others your practice is real and (assuming a good review) worth visiting. Of course, if they are negative, they can have the opposite effect, so some management may be in order.

You might ask who really believes in online reviews anyway. More and more people, actually. BrightLocal’s Consumer Review Survey demonstrated this in the past when the percentage of persons who trust online reviews was shown to grow from 2011 to 2013. By 2013, it was already at 79% of their survey. By 2017, it had reached 85%.

Encouraging patients to drop reviews of their experiences at your clinic can benefit you. If your practice has a Facebook page, you can encourage them to leave testimonials like this. We are actually going to be adding a review feature for SeriousMD users’ profile pages soon, by the way.

Reviews pages like this can be good for your business.

If you do a good job at your practice, there is no reason to believe most reviews should be positive. Do not bank on that, though. To be safe, you should also have a management protocol in place for the negative ones. For instance, you should have someone on staff who replies to them in a polite manner.

Take care not to reply with a lot of detail. You still want to respect patient privacy rights. Try to avoid mentioning the patient’s name, complaint, or other details in the response. Generalities are the best policy here.

If you get a negative review detailing issues with your practice, for example, just say the following:

  1. You are sorry the experience was unpleasant for them.
  2. Your staff have a continued commitment to service quality.
  3. Give contact details for your practice if they need to talk more about it.

Run a blog.

The blog should be distinct from your practice’s official website. The blog can be more personal, obviously, although you should still refrain from making public any personal information about patients on it.

So what should you be publishing? Preferably something both useful and informative… and obviously, related to medicine.

A lot of doctors run blogs where they post knowledge about their specialties. We even made a list of some of the most successful ones in the Philippines. As you can see from those examples, blogging helps them in more than a few ways.

  1. It builds authority as people (both laymen and colleagues) look up their answers to medical questions.
  2. It promotes engagement within the online medical community (which we will cover in the last item in this list).
  3. If done regularly enough, it also makes their blogs and names more discoverable to search engines.

You do not have to restrict yourself to written posts for your blog, by the way. Why not do YouTube videos? Or do image posts? Just look at Dr. Willie Ong’s videos on Facebook, for example. Just look at the stats for one of his videos below:

You can even come up with something interactive like a webinar or live session with people who have questions about your specialty. UP Med does some great webinars, if you want to see what we mean.

Cultivate relationships with other doctors online.

Referrals make up a large part of any practice’s business. Being a reliable diagnostician, returning results promptly to the referring physician, and the like are all crucial in getting more of them. But relationships are important too.

Doctors tend to refer patients to other doctors whom they already know. Building relationships and turning acquaintances into friends online is thus a good way to socially invest in your practice’s future. Read other doctors’ posts, reply to updates on their social media accounts, and so on. Become part of the growing online medical community and you may find yourself reaping its rewards before long.

Even just sharing this article or discussing it with others on the Web can be a good start. Go ahead and tell your colleagues online what you think! Or get on Twitter Facebook and say it to all of us there!

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Young doctor using Facebook to recruit colleagues to rural Cape Breton - Nova Scotia

Young doctor using Facebook to recruit colleagues to rural Cape Breton - Nova Scotia | Social Media and Healthcare |

A young family doctor in northern Cape Breton has turned to Facebook to help her get some time off.

Dr. Nicola Smith, 32, grew up in Dartmouth, N.S., and has worked in rural Neils Harbour for two and a half years.

Just a few days ago, she directed a post to her friends on Facebook, hoping to interest a few doctors in covering some shifts this summer at Buchanan Memorial Hospital.

In four or five days, the post has been shared almost 300 times.

"That wasn't my intention. It wasn't to get all that attention and to get it to go viral," Smith said.

"I figured I went to school with a bunch of people who are now practising across the country, and I went to residency with a bunch more doctors, and I felt like I had enough friends on Facebook that maybe they might be interested, right?"



Smith said the community also picked up the post and started sharing it too.

"They know what a problem we're having here right now, so they kind of went and ran with it."

Summers are busy

Smith is one of three doctors practising full time in Neils Harbour. The other two are veterans who came out of semi-retirement when another doctor left the community because her husband couldn't find work.

Smith said she does occasionally get time off, but she spends part of that time trying to get other physicians to work in the area.

"Going into the summer months in Cape Breton, things are going to get a lot busier and that's when we're probably going to start feeling the crunch a bit more."

Smith's short-term goal is to draw people willing to work a few shifts a week, and maybe eventually fall in love with Cape Breton in the same way she did. (Elizabeth McMillan/CBC)

Smith's short-term goal is to draw people willing to work a few shifts a week, or maybe for the summer, but she's hoping someone — up to three someones, actually — will fall in love with the place the way she did.

"They can stay next to the hospital in the house and just be part of the community. It's not 'Come here, work your hours, get your paycheque and then leave,' because that's not, I think, the type of people that are attracted to this place or that we're looking to attract," she said.

Work-life balance

"Get out kayaking, get out with the dogs, get out in the canoe, go for a hike — and the physicians we've had in the past have taken advantage of that. That's a good reason to come here; it's a big part of why they should come here."

Today's med school grads are much less interested in practising family medicine under the old model, in which a doctor worked long hours with little time off, Smith said.

Dr. Nicola Smith is one of three doctors practising in Neils Harbour, though the other two are looking to soon retire. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

"I think the young physicians coming out are very adamant about their personal time, and having that work-life balance that everybody talks about, and I think that's really important.

"You come to Cape Breton to be able to do those things and get out in nature, and you gotta make sure you actually do them when you accept that position, and not spend the whole time in the hospital."

As of Tuesday, Smith's Facebook post had already drawn interest from two doctors and talks are even underway to nail down some work dates for the summer.

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Twitter shows side effects patients don't tell doctors | Daily

Twitter shows side effects patients don't tell doctors | Daily | Social Media and Healthcare |

Scanning Twitter may help doctors learn more about the drugs they're prescribing. 

According to new research, they are more likely to find out about side effects patients are complaining about by looking online rather than what they say in a doctor's office.

A study looked at more than 20,000 Twitter posts to see what side effects people said they experienced with prednisolone, a commonly used steroid for allergies, blood disorders and even rheumatoid arthritis.

The research team used a computer system to identify tweets containing the drug name and any mention of a likely drug side-effect. For instance, it converted phrases like 'can't sleep', into more medical terms, like 'insomnia'.


Over the course of three years, they harvested 159,297 tweets mentioning prednisolon. 


Lead author for the study, Professor Dixon, said: 'Less serious side-effects are often missed in other research because patients may not mention their symptoms to their doctors, or they are not recorded in medical records. Yet this is despite them being troublesome,'

Straight-talking online 

Around 20,000 of the tweets also mentioned a suspected side-effect. 

Of the tweets analysed, 1,737 mentioned insomnia, 1,656 mentioned weight gain, 1,576 mentioned non-specific reactions such as 'I hate Prednisolone', and 1,515 reported increased appetite. The research was published in the journal Digital Medicine, today.  


Even though they found patients most often expressed concerns over insomnia and weight gain, these are rarely brought up in conversations with physicians.

Both of these are well-known side effects of prednisolone, but the research tends to focus on more serious side-effects, like osteoporosis and fractures.

Share your symptoms 

The lead author for the study, Professor Dixon, added: 'Our view is that social media sources such as Twitter can be useful because they can illustrate which drug side-effects patients discuss most commonly, even if they are not necessarily the most serious.


Even though they found patients most often expressed concerns over insomnia and weight gain, these are rarely brought up in conversations with physicians


People experience both the good and bad effects of a drug more intensely when they think it's expensive, a study showed in October.

Research published in Science demonstrated that the perceived cost of a drug can amplify the 'nocebo effect' which is the experience of side effects from a medication with no actual therapeutic effects.

German researchers at University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf applied a cream to the arms of their subjects and told them that one of the possible side effects was pain in the area.

The subjects that were given the ‘expensive’ cream not only reported higher pain levels, but scans of their brains showed greater activity in areas associated with the experience of pain.


'Less serious side-effects are often missed in other research because patients may not mention their symptoms to their doctors, or they are not recorded in medical records. Yet this is despite them being troublesome.

'This form of research is clearly just one piece of the jigsaw, but it nevertheless is an important one.

'In this example, it helps re-focus our research into steroid-related side effects that are clearly important to patients.

'Social media posts may also give us a future view of how side-effects impact on patients' quality of life.'


Dr Rikesh Patel, a member of the research team, says he believes using computer scanning as they have done is the future of getting more information on the side effects of drugs. 

'We believe social media such as Twitter can be used to broaden knowledge about drugs and potential side-effects that patients themselves find troublesome.

'And this type of automatic extraction is an efficient way of getting this information, because we're dealing with large volumes of data.   


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How to make health apps valuable for physicians and patients

How to make health apps valuable for physicians and patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

Few physicians recommend mobile health apps to patients. The main reasons, observers and doctors say, are lack of time, lack of information about which apps are reliable, concerns about liability and insufficient evidence that apps improve health. 

A 2015 survey by Manhattan Research estimated that one third of doctors recommended wellness apps to their patients, and half of those physicians simply advised patients to shop in app stores. The proportion of doctors who do so hasn’t changed much in the past few years, says Brian Clancy, a spokesman for IMS Health, which rates apps and provides a mechanism for physicians to recommend them.


HOT TOPIC: It's a mistake if you aren't on social media


Medhavi Jogi, MD, a Houston endocrinologist, has cut back on his app suggestions. For patient education, Jogi says, “The handout is way cheaper and uses less of my staff time, and I can put the link on my website.” 

Other physicians say that mobile apps have benefited some of their patients. For example, Jeffrey Livingston, MD, a Dallas-based OB/GYN, praises a fitness app that he says has helped some patients lose weight. Meanwhile, some healthcare systems and academic medical centers continue to push the use of the technology with their own app stores and, in some cases, internally developed apps. 

But even if physicians aren’t convinced that mobile health (mHealth) apps are worthwhile, many of their patients are. Fifty-eight percent of mobile phone users have downloaded at least one mHealth app, and 41% have downloaded more than five apps, according to a 2015 survey by researchers at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. The vast majority of these consumers use the apps to track their exercise and diet, lose weight and/or to learn exercises.


Choosing the right apps

The volume of mHealth apps on the market poses a serious obstacle to any physician who wishes to recommend them, notes Jogi. 

According to IMS Health, in 2015 there were 165,000 mHealth apps available in app stores. Over 50% of these apps have a narrow functionality that limits their use in healthcare, and two-thirds of the apps merely provide information about medical conditions. That still leaves tens of thousands of apps for doctors to comb through.


MORE: Physicians need immediate relief from the data disconnect


Moreover, physicians have little to guide them in their search. There aren’t any good services for rating mHealth apps, says Paul Krebs, Ph.D., an mHealth app researcher, an assistant professor in the division of general internal medicine at NYU School of Medicine and a clinical psychologist at the VA New York Harbor. 

Clancy says IMS Health’s reviews are  more accurate than those in the app stores or those of other app rating services such as SocialWellth and HealthTap. IMS’ reviews are based on the “actual app rating and recommendation behaviors of thousands of physicians that use our product, as well as the app download and retention behaviors of the patients that have been recommended apps by our users,” he said. 

One reason for the lack of mHealth app studies is that developers aren’t required to show that their apps are safe and effective unless they’re applying to the FDA for approval. The FDA requires clearance only for apps that act as a medical device or work with a medical device. Most mHealth apps don’t do either, and the FDA has approved only 219 apps to date, according to a department spokesman.

Krebs, who has studied consumer use of these programs. estimates that fewer than 5% of mHealth apps provide medical advice to consumers, Adam Powell, Ph.D., president of the Payer+Provider Syndicate in Boston and an expert on the adoption of new technology, warns that physicians should be cautious about recommending educational apps, which might be providing information that isn’t evidence-based. 

If doctors do recommend an app, it should be one they have used themselves, Krebs says. That’s what both Jogi and Livingston have done; in fact, Livingston uses the fitness app he recommends to patients to manage his own weight.


Lessons learned

Ashish Atreja, MD, chief innovation and engagement officer and a practicing gastroenterologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, says some of his patients have benefitted from using mHealth apps.

One patient, who had idiopathic GERD, used an app Atreja had suggested to document her quality of life. “Her GI symptoms were controlled, but her anxiety was through the roof,” he recalls. As a result of using the app, she recognized that her symptoms were related to anxiety, and Atreja referred her to a behavioral health specialist.

Atreja and his colleagues also have recommended apps to help patients track their responses to medications. “For the patients whose GI symptoms are not controlled, we are able to see the pattern, and we are able to more proactively step up the medication, instead of waiting for them to come back in three to six months,” he says.

Scher also has had some success. The apps he most frequently prescribes are related to nutrition and blood pressure tracking. He advises physicians to start with wellness apps, because “it’s a simpler way for people to get involved in their own health.” 

Doctors should establish a trust relationship with a patient before asking them to download an app, he adds. “If you don’t establish that relationship and just say ‘use this app,’ it’s like saying, ‘take two aspirins and see me in the morning.’”


FURTHER READING: Physicians leaving the profession over EHRs


Krebs notes that tracking diet or exercise or symptoms with an app “doesn’t necessarily” lead to behavior change. However, as a VA psychologist, he has recommended apps to a few younger patients to help keep track of their thoughts and moods. 

Even if a doctor can get patients to download apps, there’s no guarantee that they will use them or stick with them. Krebs has studied the use of a weight-loss app, for example, and found that when patients set their weight-loss goals too high, they tended to drop out of the program. On average, he says, patients kept using the app for 17 days.

“Patients have to desire to self-manage,” Scher notes. “I’ve had patients monitor their blood pressure using an app for up to two weeks, and I get a 100% response rate. You have to start small and keep patients engaged. Ninety-five percent of apps that are downloaded are never looked at or used only once. So you have to start with something that will keep patients coming back. ”


Lessons learned

Ashish Atreja, MD, chief innovation and engagement officer and a practicing gastroenterologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, says some of his patients have benefitted from using mHealth apps.

One patient, who had idiopathic GERD, used an app Atreja had suggested to document her quality of life. “Her GI symptoms were controlled, but her anxiety was through the roof,” he recalls. As a result of using the app, she recognized that her symptoms were related to anxiety, and Atreja referred her to a behavioral health specialist.

Atreja and his colleagues also have recommended apps to help patients track their responses to medications. “For the patients whose GI symptoms are not controlled, we are able to see the pattern, and we are able to more proactively step up the medication, instead of waiting for them to come back in three to six months,” he says.

Scher also has had some success. The apps he most frequently prescribes are related to nutrition and blood pressure tracking. He advises physicians to start with wellness apps, because “it’s a simpler way for people to get involved in their own health.” 

Doctors should establish a trust relationship with a patient before asking them to download an app, he adds. “If you don’t establish that relationship and just say ‘use this app,’ it’s like saying, ‘take two aspirins and see me in the morning.’”


FURTHER READING: Physicians leaving the profession over EHRs


Krebs notes that tracking diet or exercise or symptoms with an app “doesn’t necessarily” lead to behavior change. However, as a VA psychologist, he has recommended apps to a few younger patients to help keep track of their thoughts and moods. 

Even if a doctor can get patients to download apps, there’s no guarantee that they will use them or stick with them. Krebs has studied the use of a weight-loss app, for example, and found that when patients set their weight-loss goals too high, they tended to drop out of the program. On average, he says, patients kept using the app for 17 days.

“Patients have to desire to self-manage,” Scher notes. “I’ve had patients monitor their blood pressure using an app for up to two weeks, and I get a 100% response rate. You have to start small and keep patients engaged. Ninety-five percent of apps that are downloaded are never looked at or used only once. So you have to start with something that will keep patients coming back. ”

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Flu season 2018: How to use your healthcare website to help combat it - 

Flu season 2018: How to use your healthcare website to help combat it -  | Social Media and Healthcare |

f you’re like most healthcare providers, you’re seeing more and more patients coming down with the flu. Because of the severity of this flu season and the number of widely publicized child deaths, it’s important for healthcare providers to help disseminate reliable information to patients.

4 things to share far and wide

By sharing information and health advice, you can help combat both the spread of the flu and patient anxiety stemming from news reports. Here’s the kind of information you can share with patients and the public on your website and other platforms:

  1. Information about the flu in your area.

  2. Where people can get vaccinated.

  3. The warning signs of flu.

  4. Flu prevention strategies.

Before we dip into the details, let’s put this year’s flu season in perspective.

Is this flu season really worse than others?

This year, the most prevalent type of flu circulating is the H3N2 virus, which tends to be more severe and cause more serious illness and complications than other types of viruses. Already 53 children have died because of it.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that there could be more than 710,000 hospitalizations by the end of this flu season.

This year has had the highest rate of flu hospitalizations since the CDC began tracking this data in 2010. This is also the first year flu is affecting every state in the continental U.S. at the same time, putting a strain on health resources throughout the country. This season is on track to surpass last year’s flu season, and lives literally hang in the balance.

The 2018 flu season has had more flu hospitalizations than any year since 2010.
Photo: National Institutes of Health (NIH) Flickr via Compfight cc

With H3N2 already representing 89 percent of all diagnosed and sub-typed flu cases, helping your community understand the facts about flu prevention and treatment is critical.

What’s the best way to get the word out? Since the vast majority of people look online for information, the web is the obvious place. Sharing information about treatment and prevention strategies as widely as possible is critical for the health of your community. It can also serve as an opportunity to educate your community about your healthcare practice, establishing it as an authoritative source of health information.

1. Information about the flu in your area

On your website, as a blog post or as an article on the front page, you can share updates about the flu in your area.

The CDC publishes weekly updates, including links to the spread of flu in every U.S. state.

Use these updates to keep your community informed. This can help people understand the spread of flu locally and take appropriate measures.

I also recommend that you share links to the information you publish on your social media feeds, including Facebook and Twitter, and encourage staff and patients alike to help spread this information out through their own social networks. In fact, you can make it easy for them by adding share buttons to your posts.

2. Where people can get vaccinated

While the flu vaccine this year is less effective against H3N2 viruses, in part because of how the vaccines are produced, vaccination can still help prevent spread of the other flu virus variants, and help build “herd immunity.”

Make it easy for people to get help by sharing a list of local vaccination sites.
Photo: Flickr via Compfight cc

With the overwhelming number of cases being seen by hospitals, any flu prevention can help. Letting people know where they can get free or low-cost vaccinations helps encourage them to take action to protect themselves. The CDC has a great tool to help locate vaccination sites in your area that you can share. By posting this information prominently on your website, sharing it through email newsletters and through social media, you can help encourage your entire community to take an active role in controlling spread of flu in your area.

3. The warning signs of flu

Because of the harsh winter weather in many parts of the country, people are spending more time inside, which can lead to the spread of both colds and flu. But what most people don’t immediately recognize is the difference between a cold and flu, or know that if flu is diagnosed and treated within 48 hours of onset, complications can be reduced by taking antiviral medication. The three most common antivirals are currently effective against this year’s flu strains, so rapid diagnosis and treatment is important.

Sharing information and checklists to help differentiate the flu from a cold, like the information provided on the Mayo Clinic’s website will help educate your patients and community. Hopefully this will lead to more rapid treatment of flu, and also reduce the spread in turn.

4. Flu prevention strategies

According to the CDC, the incubation period for the flu is between one and four days, and is infectious to other people for a day or so before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. That means it’s easy to spread the flu before a patient feels ill, and there’s a greater chance to others from just being out in public.

Share healthcare tips and checklists from the CDC and websites like Healthline.

You can share this information on your website, through social channels and through email and text alerts. I’ve also seen some providers create a quick downloadable PDF or Word document with flu prevention strategies and reminders they can give to patients they see in their practice. You can create a simple, attractive checklist with free tools like Canva.

Information is the antidote the the worst flu season since 2010.
Photo: Jeremy Wong on Unsplash

Checklists that can be easily posted on a bulletin board or refrigerator help remind people daily of flu prevention tips. I recommend including information about your website and practice (including your phone number) at the bottom to help you remain top-of-mind with your patients while also helping them stay well.

Spread information this flu season

Trustworthy and actionable information shared as widely as possible is the key to preventing further spread of the flu — and can even help save lives. Using your website, social media channels and email to educate others will help alleviate the strain flu is placing on healthcare resources and providers in your community. It will also show your community you are a trusted reliable resource — and that’s a benefit everyone can appreciate.

Image by: the ripped bystander Flickr via Compfight

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Posting with Caution: The DO’s and DON’Ts of Social Media and HIPAA Compliance | Healthcare Compliance Pro

Posting with Caution: The DO’s and DON’Ts of Social Media and HIPAA Compliance | Healthcare Compliance Pro | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is used by 74% of Internet users and 80% of people using social media actually use it to research doctors, hospitals, and medical news and information. Social Media can be an extremely powerful tool for communicating general healthcare information to the public, creating professional connections, and sharing experiences. However, sharing too much information on social media platforms can have devastating effects on both healthcare organizations and employees if patient-specific information is shared. With over 800 million people on social networks and professional blogs, it is not surprising that HIPAA violations are on the rise and are raising major concerns among medical practices.

If healthcare employees were better educated on potentially hazardous mistakes while using social media and medical blogs, HIPAA violations could be avoided all together. In order to better understand how social media, HIPAA violations and compliance in your medical practice should be handled, we have put together a list of the Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media and HIPAA Compliance.

DO: Understand what is considered a HIPAA violation on social networks.

Under HIPAA, a breach or violation is an impermissible use or disclosure under the Privacy Rule that compromises the security or privacy of the protected health information (PHI).

Common examples of social media HIPAA violations include:

  • Posting verbal “gossip” about a patient to unauthorized individuals, even if the name is not disclosed.
  • Sharing of photographs, or any form of PHI without written consent from a patient.
  • A mistaken belief that posts are private or have been deleted when they are still visible to the public.
  • Sharing of seemingly innocent comments or pictures, such as a workplace lunch which happens to have visible patient files underneath.

DON’T: Post anything you wouldn’t say in an elevator or coffee shop.

As a general rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t say your comment in public, then don’t put it on social media. If there is any doubt at all about a certain post, picture or comment then check with your compliance officer or even a colleague before publishing.

DO:  Thoroughly train employees on your organization’s HIPAA Privacy and HIPAA Security policies and procedures at the time of hire and at least annually thereafter.  Your organization’s social media policy should be integrated into these policies and procedures.

  • One of the best ways to avoid legal pitfalls with social media HIPAA violations is to have a clear, widely distributed company policy on the use of social networking sites during working and non-working hours.
  • Consider extending your existing polices on HIPAA compliance relating to social media networks.

Healthcare Compliance Pros has created a sample Social Media policy that can be customized based on your organization’s specific social media guidelines.

In addition, Healthcare Compliance Pros’ HIPAA Security Training includes important policies and procedures regarding Workstation Use, Workstation Security, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, and others.  These policies and procedures are important for ensuring your organization’s employees and the employees of your business associates are properly safeguarding patient information – oral, written or electronic.

DON’T: Overlook the severity of HIPAA Violation Penalties.

According to HHS, the majority of HIPAA violations from recent years have occurred from employees mishandling PHI, many of which stem from inappropriate social sharing. Violations under the HIPAA Privacy Rule include Civil Money Penalties which can result in fines ranging from $100 – $1,500,000 or Criminal Penalties which can result in fines up to $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison.  Other consequences of violating HIPAA include lawsuits, the loss of a medical license or employee termination.

When a HIPAA breach occurs on a social network or professional blog, the following steps should be taken:

  • Report to your compliance officer a brief description of what happened, including the date of the breach, if known, and the date of the discovery of the breach. This will be important when providing notification to the affected individual(s).
  • If it is determined a breach has occurred, covered entities and their business associates are required to provide notification following a breach of unsecured protected health information. Individual notifications must be provided without unreasonable delay and in no case later than 60 days following the discovery of a breach.
  • In addition, your compliance officer will ensure appropriate notification procedures are followed including providing notice to the secretary of HHS and to the media if it is a breach involving greater than 500 individuals.
  • Employees involved in the breach should (at a minimum) be re-trained on HIPAA Privacy, HIPAA Security and any additional social media policies and procedures.

Remember that HIPAA compliance is an on-going, vigilant part of your overall compliance program.   By providing ongoing training to employees regarding potentially hazardous mistakes while using social media and medical blogs, your organization will ensure social media a powerful tool for sharing information, sharing experiences, and potentially expanding your organization’s business.

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[Infographic] Digital Marketing for Healthcare

[Infographic] Digital Marketing for Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

Given the ever-changing landscape of the healthcare market, the healthcare industry is turning to digital marketing in increasing numbers. Building a digital campaign focused on growing awareness and lead generation can make an immense difference to both hospitals and healthcare groups. If you’re wondering how digital can help you, take a look at our infographic for a quick overview.

And if you would like to dive a little deeper and see a healthcare digital marketing campaign in action, be sure to read our post on Digital Marketing for Healthcare: Best Practices and a Case Study, or DOWNLOAD OUR FREE Top Digital Marketing Tactics for Healthcare.

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what does social media success look like for pharma? –

what does social media success look like for pharma? – | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media marketing measurements are not so straightforward and easy to measure. At the same time, social media platform offer so many opportunities for pharma. When asked what does social media success look like for pharma, for me the following 5 elements are key.


Social media success for pharma is reach and/or audience

  • Reaching the broadest audience is the ultimate goal for any social media presence
  • A slow and organic building of an audience will take time (aka no overnight success) but it is the one which pays off in the long run
  • An audience gives a privilege to communicate
  • An audience gives you a competitive edge
  • An audience makes you an authority

Social media success for pharma is engagement

  • Your audience is built of people, not consumers
  • Engagement is a paradigm shift in how pharma companies and brands engage with people
  • It is all about values and interests and this relationship is built across a dialogue
  • A good mix of social media platforms allows for engaging with different audiences on different platforms

Social media success for pharma is being inspiring

  • Make content that is inspiring, not just pushing your brand
  • Always ask yourself how can I take this information and make people care about it
  • Make people enjoy what pharma does (not hate you)
  • Gain inspiration from what your audience is asking or saying online

Social media success for pharma is educating

  • Be the go-to source for information
  • Explain the research you do – break research down and make it relatable and understandable
  • Don’t just push your same old marketing messages or DTC commercials – provide something of value

Social media success for pharma is being relevant

  • Just do not tout your product (which is so evident)
  • Listen to what people are saying or talking about on social media
  • Mine the conversation (large or niche) and try to become a part of the conversation
  • Proactively try to reach your audience and answer their needs, not yours
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5 Ideas for Dentists Using Instagram Live Video to Attract New Patients

5 Ideas for Dentists Using Instagram Live Video to Attract New Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

Instagram Live Videos are a powerful way to boost social media engagement and attract new patients to your dental practice. Here are five fun and effective ways pediatric dentists can use Instagram Live Videos to attract new patients.  

How to Use Instagram Live Videos

To begin an Instagram Live Video session, tap the camera icon in the top left of the screen, or swipe right anywhere inside the app. Then, tap the “Live” button at the bottom of the screen and hit “Start Live Video.” And, voila! You’ve successfully started your first Instagram Live Video.  

For more detailed instructions, check out Instagram’s guide to Live video 

1 – Dentist Q&A

Hosting a dental Q&A is a great way to engage with your patients, and allows you to share valuable insight with your audience. Try to use the Q&A to answer some of the most common questions they have about teeth and share your expert advice about pediatric dentistry. When hosting a Q&A, be sure that you have comments turned on so that you can field questions and answer in real time. Keep your Q&A short (15-30 minutes), and direct your commenters to your dental practice website so that they can get more information afterwards.

 Guided Office Tour

Instagram Live Videos are an excellent tool to show off the inside of your dental practice with a live office tour. Be sure to highlight any special qualities about your dental practice, and have someone from your office guide the tour, and talk about some of the keystones of your dental practice.  

3 – Streaming a Live Event

Does your practice take part in a candy buy-back campaign, or volunteer dental services to the your local community? If your practice does any sort of public-facing event, then use Instagram Live Videos to share the experience. This can help better connect you with patients that are passionate about community service, or those that share your practice’s values.

4  An Oral Care Info Session

Parents are always searching for the right way to care for their children’s teeth, and you can help them by hosting live, oral care info sessions. You can show your audience the proper way to brush teeth, how to floss, or discuss common oral ailments like gingivitis and cavities. These types of oral health info sessions allow you to determine a subject, and dive in at your own discretion.

5 – A Digital First Visit  

A child’s first visit to the dental office can be stressful, but you can help quell anxious feelings with a digital “first-visit.” Host the video as if you were a first time patient or parent, and have your staff walk you through a first visit. This can help parents show their kids that there’s nothing to fear about visiting your dental practice.

Important Tips for Promoting Your Live Video Session 

Instagram Live Videos appear at the top of your follower’s feeds, so each person following your dental practice will see that you’re currently hosting a Live Video session. Despite the prominent placement atop your follower’s feeds, you’ll want to remind people to view your Live Video by promoting it in your dental practice’s Instagram Story. There, you can tease your session by sharing photos and videos with text overlaid. This lets you write out captions that tell your audience exactly when to tune into Instagram to catch your Live Video.

Also, be sure to save your video by hitting “Save” after your Live Video session has concluded. This will save your Live Video for 24 hours, and display it as your dental practices Story on top of your follower’s feeds.

Stay Ahead of the Social Curve

Smile Savvy helps dental practices stay ahead of the social media curve with comprehensive social media management services for dentists. We understand the shifting landscape of social media, and take time to learn about new apps, technologies and tools that can better connect your practice to your community.

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How to become a pharma social media rock star in 2018

It’s undeniable that social media can be a real challenge for Pharma companies.

  • The restrictions imposed in a regulated industry when publishing content
  • The strategic decisions global organisations have in establishing global and regional social presences
  • The need to balance corporate, brand and product content and messaging
  • The challenge of deciding who their social outposts should cater for … patients, payers, policymakers, HCPs?

Therefore, it may not be surprising to learn that many of the pharma companies that have adopted social media marketing are still finding their feet. They may simply be using these channels to promote corporate news or re-publishing marketing campaigns. They may have also started following key influencers including KOLs, HCPs or patient groups. The primary KPI may currently be the number of followers or fans accumulated.

As a team who’ve been helping digital teams in global corporates across many sectors succeed in social media over the past decade, we’ve got 5 hot social media tips to help pharma social media managers push ahead, find their confidence and become social media rock stars in 2018.

1. Nurture your pharma social media community spirit

Have conversations. Don’t just start them, find, join and foster them. Consider retweeting or curating great content which you know your followers and fans will find relevant.

Adopt an always-on and real-time mindset, as the conversation doesn’t revolve around you and the working hours of pharma social media managers.

The number of replies or comments on your posts as well as your average response times would be good KPIs in helping understand if the community is accepting you.

2. Only create content that’s brilliantly relevant, valuable and timely

It’s too easy to fall into the trap of routinely creating content calendars full of mediocre content. It’s time to gain a deeper understanding of your followers and the broader social media community around your key therapeutic areas. Only then can you create brilliantly relevant content whether that’s valuable or timely content for your fans, followers and community. Likes and retweets would be useful KPIs here.

Pharma social media managers need to ensure their content is part of a broader content and inbound marketing plan which is informed by the brand strategy.

3. Fully embrace paid social media or leave the stage

Facebook announced on 11th Jan that they would prioritise family and friends posts over companies and media outlets. This was an inevitable move which further reduces the organic reach of companies posts on Facebook.

Therefore, as social media increasingly becomes another pay-to-play channel, as well as needing relevant content, pharma companies need to budget for promotion to reach their fans and followers as well as the wider community.

4. Get in touch with your inner filmmaker.

As the consumption of video content on social media channels continued to grow during 2017, pharma social media managers need to ensure video is part of their format mix in 2018. If it’s not being used already then it’s time to start experimenting with video and live video content during 2018.

All the main social media platforms are video-ready so it’s important for pharma social media managers to get to grips with how to get the best from each of them.

5. It’s time to ‘really’ listen to what social media is telling you

Use social listening tools to gain insights which can be used to inform and then make improvements across the whole company. ROI should be the ultimate KPI here.

Social listening tools can also help identify influencers which may or may not be on your KOL radar. Some of these may be micro-influencers, which means that even though they have relatively small communities in particular therapeutic areas, they hold incredible influence. KPIs here would be the number of micro-influencers following you and their engagement with your content.

And to find out who are the pharma social media stars take a look at our Social Media Ranking — Global Twitter Edition 2018

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The Art of Patient Loyalty – 4 Tips for Building a Practice Patients Love

The Art of Patient Loyalty – 4 Tips for Building a Practice Patients Love | Social Media and Healthcare |

In a world where your competitors are just a click away, patient loyalty is the new marketing. Today’s patients have access to an endless amount of information about your medical practice and the unique services your offer. Research shows that patients are willing to stop hopping from one doctor to another and stick with practitioners who go the extra mile to create a fantastic patient experience. When patients feel taken care of, they are more inclined to come back to your practice and recommend you to their family and friends.

Here are some of the reasons why patient loyalty is so important:

  • Most patients have a choice. Despite being limited by factors beyond their control, most patients prefer to change their doctors to get a better patient experience.
  • Better patient experience makes everyone’s job a lot easier. Patient satisfaction leads to more accommodating patients, which makes a smoother experience for your practice overall.
  • Higher patient loyalty means more referrals and word-of-mouth business. When patients have a good experience, they are more likely to talk about it to their family. That means more word-of-mouth referrals, which means more patients and an increased bottom line.

The Power of Patient Loyalty

As an individual practitioner or a small-practice owner, you may lack the capital or need more staff members. However, you can remain profitable by serving your existing patients well. According to studies, nearly 67 percent of practice owners do not understand the value of patient loyalty. These practice owners often miss the opportunity to gain lifelong patients and brand ambassadors.

When a patient is loyal to your brand, it means when faced with a decision between you and your competitors, he or she picks you every time. Clearly, all practitioners want patients to prefer their brand over their competitors. However, the key is to learn about your patients’ preferences from the very beginning. A report stated that almost 48 percent of patients think the most critical time to gain their loyalty is when they make their visit to your office. This is the best time to offer a consistent experience that addresses their needs and solves their problems. It is essential to understand how the patient experience affects brand loyalty.

When your patient calls to ask for help, do not be passive. Make sure to familiarize yourself with a patient’s background so you can take charge of the conversation. Brand loyalty is strengthened with every interaction your patient has with your practice. The key to patient loyalty is always to meet or exceed your patients’ expectations. When patients become loyal, they not only come back to your practice, they become emotionally attached to your brand. Loyal patients will recommend your brand to their friends and family, develop an emotional connection and act as brand ambassadors. Brand loyalty is an essential investment for your medical practice and you must offer value in order to become invaluable to your patients.

But Why Do Patients Leave?

According to an insightful report, the number-one reason patients stop visiting a medical practice is poor patient service experience. But what reasons lead a patient to describe a service experience as “poor” or “unacceptable”?

The report stated that incompetency, staff manners and slow service define poor patient service. Almost 73 percent of patients described the incompetent staff as their most prominent reason to “dislike” a practice or practitioner.

This candid feedback from unhappy patients shows that competent and polite staff is more critical than the speed of the service. So how do you build a brand that wins over the hearts and minds of your patients? Let us look at four ways medical practices can move relationships with their patients.

1. Engage with your patients: Patient loyalty is about reaching out and nurturing the patients who help your practice grow. Engaging with your patients will help you create a sense of belonging. You can use social networks to inform patients of special deals and exciting developments. If you can make your patients involved in your practice, they are more likely to have positive associations, and engaged patients are loyal patients. According to the Pareto principle, 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of efforts. But for most medical practice owners, the disparity between your best patients and the rest is stark. The top 5 percent of your patients are worth as much as 1800 percent of the average patient lifetime value. So adding a few more loyal patients might be the smartest thing you can do to grow your practice. Adding and retaining patients often starts with figuring out how and where you are losing patients: Why do so few patients become loyal members of your practice? In most cases, this is due to poor patient service. It is important to make sure your patient service is impeccable, and if you play your cards right, this can be an easy victory for your practice. Provide a positive patient experience, safeguard your online reputation and encourage patients to stick by your brand long enough to develop loyalty. One of the most effective strategies to retain patients is by recognizing and fulfilling their needs. You can use your patient behavior data to assess what your patients are likely to expect from your practice and offer it to them.

2. Use technology to improve patient experience: The latest tools and technology can be used to help improve your relationship with your patients. When patients understand that you are delivering a unique experience and exceeding expectations in order to meet their demands, they will return the favor by giving you their time and information. This symbiotic relationship is valuable as it helps create trust, which should be the goal for every medical practice.

Providing data-driven services can increase revenue for your brand. According to a study, nearly 86 percent of patients said that personalization plays a role in their decision to choose a healthcare provider. In addition, almost 73 percent of patients said they preferred to visit practices that use personal information to make their experience more relevant.

Once your practice has earned the trust of your patients, you can employ patient portals to gain intelligent insights and solutions. Such portals will enable your patients to create, edit and delete their profile and use it whenever they want. Patient portals will help your staff have quick access to valuable insights about the needs and preferences of your patients. By engaging your patients with data aligned with their preferences, your practice can provide a better patient experience.

3. Use social media to show patient appreciation: Social media is an excellent way to build brand loyalty and improve patient engagement. According to a study, when a business – including the healthcare market – uses social networks to communicate with their target audience, people listen. In fact, more than 81 percent of people said they had more confidence in a medical practice when its doctors are using social media.

When you communicate with your patients on social media, it helps build brand loyalty, and those patients can become your brand ambassadors. Replying with a personal message or updating your patients with general healthcare-related news is a great way to humanize your brand and strengthen the relationship.

Your medical practice likely has some brand ambassadors continually engaging on social media. You must surprise them. Go beyond the typical reply with a special discount voucher or complimentary service. The cost will be minimal, and you can rest assured that the recipients will post about it for others to read. This shout-out or acknowledgment on social networks will help attract more patients and increase the positive exposure of your brand. Showing that your practice cares about its patients and their experience will separate your brand from the competition.

4. Deliver value: Patients are looking to identify with your practice’s mission and values. To them, what you offer is who you are. How can you help your patients identify your brand’s values? The answer is: Be definitive. The more specific you can be about your skills and services, the more your patients will understand what value you can offer them. You need to make sure your patients understand what you do and the value you add to their lives. This means you need to zoom in on just one service or unique proposition until it fills the screen. Even the most effective brand loyalty campaigns will be futile if you do not deliver value through your unique services and focus on your patients’ needs. You must promote your unique selling proposition and use it as the foundation to design and deliver your brand loyalty campaigns.

Do Patients Forgive Poor Service?

Despite your best efforts and intentions, mistakes are bound to happen when dealing with patients. A lot of small issues may make their way into your service provision. However, the good news is: Occasional mistakes will not damage your reputation unless such errors become the norm.

But what about serious errors? Will patients forgive a massive error? It is important to understand the thought process and associated actions of dissatisfied patients. As mentioned in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, most patients who suffer an injury due to a practitioner’s negligence do not sue their healthcare provider. A common factor among those patients who pursued legal action felt like they did not get enough time with their doctor. Most of the litigious patients described their interactions with their doctor as poorly diagnosed. However, most of these patients are willing to give their doctor a second chance.

Speed and quality of service are the innocent culprits in most of these situations. Trying to respond to patients as quickly as possible decreases your chances of ignoring critical details, something that is very important to patients.

Wrapping Up

It is believed that by 2020, more than 89 percent of patients will shift to practices providing better patient experience and engagement. Your competitive advantage must focus on building patient relationships and improving experience.

Gone are the days where practices offered basic healthcare services. If you expect brand loyalty, it is time to treat patients like people, not numbers.

Always pay attention to what your patients are telling you. Do not be a transaction-focused practice. It is critical to building a practice to serve people and care about them, and they may return the favor by caring about you. This is the key to nurturing brand loyalty.

Remember, engaging patients and strengthening relationships is a practice-wide endeavor. It is not just for your front-desk staff. Brand loyalty and patient satisfaction are everyone’s responsibility.

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Exploring the uncharted territory of social media: the next frontier of medical education in nephrology 

Exploring the uncharted territory of social media: the next frontier of medical education in nephrology  | Social Media and Healthcare |

ocial media is gaining popularity amongst both medical educators and life-long learners. One of the most popular social media platforms used by the medical community is Twitter, which allows both synchronous and asynchronous learning. Despite being dwarfed by giants such as Facebook and Instagram, Twitter’s momentum in the medical world is fueled by an interface that easily brings people and groups of various backgrounds together to discuss a common topic [1]. After mastering Twitter’s unique nomenclature, one finds that it is both easy and affordable to use and effectively connects professionals at various stages of their careers, across medical specialties and distant geographic locations. These features have not only made Twitter popular amongst physicians, students and patients, but have also caught the interest of medical societies. Such societies commonly capitalize on these features during their annual medical meetings. Major international and regional societies commonly use Twitter to amplify their reach beyond what their live annual meetings can achieve. To do this, the society creates a virtual meeting room (identified by a hashtag in Twitter nomenclature) to share and debate the science that is presented at their live meeting [2]. Once created, the society simply waits until any Twitter user ‘enters’ into the virtual meeting room and starts a new or joins an existing conversation. Conversations can be textual, or centered around a picture or video. Nonetheless, this method is relatively unstructured, but forms the foundation for nearly every medical society’s social media strategy. For some, such as the American Society of Oncology (@ASCO), this approach has yielded record-breaking participation and activity [3]. However, in most cases the virtual meeting room (hashtag) can become difficult to search or follow because conversations, pictures and videos are variably archived or catalogued [4].

There has been a unique and notable effort within Nephrology societies to craft a structured social media strategy. Since the first society-sponsored Twitter hashtag in 2011 (#KidneyWk11 by the American Society of Nephrology; @ASNonline), social media-savvy nephrologists have contemplated how best to structure a society’s social media effort [5]. Six years later, the 75 society-sponsored hashtags are more than just virtual meeting rooms: they are now micro-laboratories [4]. Societies are experimenting with various social media strategies, and measuring the results in these micro-laboratories. These nephrology-led experiments are revealing solutions that will ultimately result in formulating a set of best practice guidelines for a society’s social media strategy. We report on the first three experiments performed by three Nephrology organizations.

In April 2017, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) organically and independently developed two social media strategies for their respective annual meetings. The NKF developed the Social Media Ambassadors Program, in which volunteers were asked to participate in #SCM17 (the virtual meeting room for the 5-day 2017 Spring Clinical Meeting) [6]. Volunteers were chosen based on their ability to satisfy seven criteria [6]. The ISN established the Social Media Task Force, in which recruited individuals were assigned tasks and given organizational support to participate in #WCN2017 (the virtual meeting room for the 5-day 2017 World Congress of Nephrology meeting) [78]. In June 2017, The European Renal Association–European Dialysis and Transplantation Association (ERA-EDTA) and the Spanish Nephrology Society (SENefrologia) developed a third strategy in which a group of social media enthusiasts (nefrotuiteros) were assembled and asked to participate in #ERAEDTA17 (the virtual meeting room for the 4-day 2017 ERA-EDTA Congress) ( or

A nephrology-focused analytics group, NOD Analytics (, evaluated their respective social media strategies in three domains: activity (number of tweets), diversity (number of nations involved in the hashtag conversations) and vibrancy (percentage of tweets with a picture/video). NOD Analytics used #KidneyWk 2016 (the virtual meeting room for the 6-day 2016 Kidney Week meeting) as a comparator because no formal strategy was publicized or known to have been applied in that campaign.

These notable experiments were the first of their kind in any medical specialty and yielded promising results. Using the ISN’s social media strategy, the Social Media Task Force cultivated vibrant conversations from participants in 55 nations in #WCN2017. Nearly half of all messages in this virtual meeting room were vibrant (43% of all tweets with a multimedia resource). More impressive was the social media strategy executed in the #ERAEDTA17 campaign. Despite being 2 days shorter than #KidneyWk 2016, it had the highest percentage of photograph containing tweets (55.2%). Equally promising was the NKF’s Ambassadors Program, which had the largest percentage of video tweets (3%). Neither the ISN, NKF nor ERA-EDTA strategy yielded the greatest tweet activity, but this finding could be attributed to the shorter duration of each conference. #KidneyWk 2016 had a 1-day greater duration than either #SCM17 or #WCN2017 and 2 days more than #ERAEDTA17. As an example, when normalized for duration, the activity from the top 5 days of #KidneyWk 2016 produced a 1% difference from the 5-day activity of #WCN2017 (Figures 1–3).

Fig. 1

Tweet activity. Red line indicates end of the campaign.

Fig. 2

Tweet diversity.

Fig. 3

Tweet vibrancy.

Experimenting with various social media strategies is still in its infancy. Nonetheless, the results from the ERA-EDTA, NKF and ISN are encouraging and have inspired other Nephrology societies to develop their own strategies. Indian nephrology societies have enthusiastically embraced Twitter with both the Association of Vascular Access and Interventional Renal Physicians (@AVATARorg) and the Indian Society of Nephrology customizing a unique social media strategy for their respective meetings ( With 78 micro-laboratories, the field of research is prime for a variety of investigative efforts. While the current analysis is retrospective in design, the current cadre of nephrology-focused hashtags and those to come in 2018 present opportunities for larger retrospective and unique prospective investigations (Figure 4). These opportunities place our discipline in a noteworthy leadership role as both social media-savvy nephrologists and nephrology societies collaboratively develop generalizable and data-driven best practice guidelines for the productive use of social media by any medical organization (Figure 5).

Fig. 4

Upcoming nephrology campaigns in 2018.

Fig. 5

Article infographic.

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Your Hospital's Digital Marketing Strategy Checklist

Your Hospital's Digital Marketing Strategy Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

Use this checklist to craft a winning healthcare marketing plan.

Even if you've outlined your digital marketing strategy for 2018, there's still time to fine-tune and optimize your yearly marketing plan!

  1. Are you making full use of your paid media?
  2. Do you have a strategy to boost your earned media?
  3. Does your owned media need a facelift?

When optimizing a comprehensive marketing plan for your hospital or health system, there are several aspects to consider. The following checklist helps you keep track of the main elements you’ll need to integrate into your strategy.

1. Target Market: Understand who your “best consumers” are and target them with the right content at each stage of their consumer journey. Now is the time to create or update your buyer personas.

2. Gap and Historical Analysis: Hindsight is 20/20 and there are valuable lessons that can be learned by assessing previous performance. What was effective? What wasn’t? Reviewing data detailing your performance will give you a reference point for the goals you want to reach.

3. Competition: Assessing competitors is another great method for discovering new opportunities. It is crucial to have an impartial understanding of their weaknesses and strengths.

4. “Buying Cycle”: As you coordinate your marketing strategy, ensure you take into consideration the various steps in the consumer selection process, the patient journey, and how you hope to push leads and prospective patients further through the funnel.

5. Goals and Objectives: Prior to addressing your digital marketing objectives, you must take into account your hospital’s goals and then figure out how digital marketing can help achieve those goals. Once you have determined that, your digital marketing objectives can be more precise.

6. Put your digital marketing plan into action!

7. Measure: Measuring performance is frequently taken for granted in strategic planning. If you are unable to answer, “How will we measure success?” with a clear reply, you need to go back to the drawing board.

8. Conversion Rate and Landing Page Optimization: Regardless of how strong your performance has been in the past, there’s always something to be learned or gained by seizing opportunities to enhance your conversion rate.

9. Performance across Devices: It’s crucial to know historical performance across multiple devices. Have paid ads performed better on mobile? If so, what mobile devices should you focus on? Once your yearly objectives have been established, you can begin to manage specific tactics at the device level. This will enable you to intentionally develop techniques that cater to the most important mobile devices.

10. Tactics and Channels: Use a combination of tactics and channels to make it easy for the right people to find you! Assessing your performance and doing a competitive analysis are fun phases in your digital marketing planning, but nailing down tactics and channels is the most vital aspect of the plan.

11. Promotions: We typically don’t talk about “promotions” in healthcare marketing, but think of these as opportunities to engage your audience with targeted and relevant content. When promotions are planned and prepared in advance, you will have a better chance of success. Planning minimizes the overwhelming last minute rush to get landing pages and creative approved.

12. Timeline: To execute your plan, it is important to have a timeline in mind. While the timeline will likely need to be flexible, having a schedule lets you visualize the tactical execution and make sure you are on par with projected results.

13. Resources: Determine which resources will be required to get the plan started. Establishing who is responsible for what will create accountability across teams, which is needed for a successful implementation of the plan and measurement of results.

14. Revisit, Adjust, Adapt: At some point, things will not go according to plan. But don’t beat yourself up over it. The digital marketing strategy for your healthcare organization is meant to provide a foundation, upon which you will continually learn and grow.

The important thing is to keep it simple, use research and make it easy for people to act. Develop your marketing strategy with the right expectations. Don’t try to boil the ocean. Start with a prioritized plan and focus on consistency and continual improvement.

Still struggling to optimize your plan for digital marketing

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Why Doctors Need Social Media?

Why Doctors Need Social Media? | Social Media and Healthcare |

"Social media is about the people! Not about your business. Provide for the people and the people will provide for you."​

- Matt Goulart

As time goes by, we are given advanced pieces of technology that almost everyone can use, every time and everywhere, but not many people keep in touch with technology.


As an avid user of social media, Dr. Anju Anand's goal is to expand the medical community in the social networking environment. She specializes in educational technology while working in the fields of respirology and sleep medicine. She believes that a social networking service, like Twitter, can be a highly convenient tool for medical experts and users who are interested in medicine. While Twitter is the biggest supporter of user-generated content, millions of users partake in this application to not only share opinions, photos and videos to each other but to also share news and journals, which is one of the reasons why Dr. Anand is largely fond of Twitter.


On the other hand, the usage of social media (and today's technology) by medical experts, including physicians, may not be frequent. She encourages medical professionals and patients to get in touch with the social networking environment so the can communicate to users and receive updates on medical studies at ease. In addition to this situation, she also trains staff on how to use the social networking applications, including Twitter, as another form of communication and self-education. She has also trained cystic fibrosis patients who are restricted to direct contact.


Dr. Anju Anand has founded the University of Toronto Respirology & Sleep Journal Club for residents to use Twitter as an alternative (yet simpler) method to provide concise details of a peer-reviewed article. Out of multiple social networking services, Dr. Anand finds that Twitter has the largest impact on not only social interaction but also medical research. The usage of social media has influenced some members, including Dr. Anand, to write scholarly articles where social media is involved. Dr. Anand has written articles about the significance between social media use and medical education, and some of her articles include past Twitter discussions from the UofT Respirology & Sleep Journal Club. To learn more about the journal club, please visit the Journal Club page. Discussions can also be found by using #rsjc.

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Engaging Patients, Engaging the Public 

Engaging Patients, Engaging the Public  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Back in September 2012, Jane Griffiths, Ph.D., then company group chairman, Janssen Europe, Middle East and Africa, headed the report, Building Bridges, Building Trust, looking at how the pharma industry could better communicate the science behind its innovations in today’s society.

Soon after, Jane hosted a multi-stakeholder event on how the sector is viewed and to develop practical ideas to help increase trust. The participants agreed that it was the responsibility of all stakeholders to involve citizens more and to improve communication with the public on science and research, to advance the translation of “new knowledge”.


Recently, Pharm Exec caught up with Jane Griffiths, now Global Head of Actelion (the company was acquired by J&J’s Janssen in 2017), to hear her thoughts on where the industry reputation stands now.


PharmExec: Five years after the Building Bridges, Building Trust report, what has changed for pharma in the reputation stakes?

Jane Griffiths, Global Head, Actelion.Jane Griffiths: There has definitely been progress in driving to build reputation within the industry over the last five years.  A number of steps have been taken since we last spoke. We were in the midst then of moving to more transparency in clinical trial data. For example, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has opened up the Yale University Open Data Access (YODA) portal, where data can be accessed for legitimate scientific questions. And the industry is now into its third year of disclosing transfer-of-value payments made to physicians and thought leaders for their services to the industry, such as involvement in advisory boards, speaker panels, etc. These were areas where people thought that the industry needed to be more transparent and that is now happening. There is a greater focus, certainly at J&J and Janssen, on really putting patients at the very center of everything that we do. A few years ago, we asked ourselves, “Are we as patient-focused as we should be?” We looked into some of the things we were doing and we felt there could be some improvements. So, we’ve put a lot more emphasis on patient engagement and advocacy and now have a more cohesive global approach around the involvement of patients in a number of initiatives where the patient voice is important eg clinical trial design and patient reported outcomes. (Last year, J&J ranked #13 on Fortune magazine’s list of Most Admired Companies and took first place in the pharmaceutical category worldwide.)

However, there is still work to do on the reputation front. The industry plays an incredibly important role in people’s lives—for most people, there are few things more important than good health—and the pharmaceutical industry has been a major contributor to the increase in life expectancy since the early 1900s. And yet there is still this big disconnect between the reputation of the industry and those amazing steps forward that have been achieved in health and life expectancy. Having been in the industry a long time, I know the hearts of its workers are in the right place. What we need to work on is making sure other people see that we have the best of intentions for patients.

Do you think social media, in the last five or six years, has become an obstacle in how it can spread negative messages about the industry?

We should always be looking to use social media for the good, but we have been cautious about how we enter into online dialogue. Social media can serve some very important and constructive functions, such as educating people on health in general. We have to hold our heads above the more negative aspects of social media and continue to communicate the benefits that our industry and our company bring. It is about turning up the volume on some of the great work that we do.

(David Keown, Actelion’s global therapeutic area communication leader, pulmonary hypertension, adds: In the last five years, I’ve seen a transformation at J&J and across the industry in the use of social media. Companies have woken up to the fact that engaged employees have the capacity to be great ambassadors for the industry. You can see this illustrated by the retweets and shares on our company Twitter and LinkedIn profiles. To increase the wider impact of this employee advocacy, we should make more conscious efforts to expand our professional social media networks beyond our own industry spheres.)

Has the emphasis on pricing been too prominent in the reputation debate?

The whole pricing debate does detract from what the industry is really about, which is bringing good health and longevity to people through innovation. Healthcare costs are multifactorial; aging populations, infrastructure costs and increasing wage bills all contribute to increasing societal costs.  The industry needs to better articulate to the broader society that drug costs do not form the majority of healthcare costs. What I ask of my team is how we can partner with healthcare services in the future and have more collaborative relationships; we need to figure our way out of the maze of increasing costs, the increasing number of elderly people, and improve access for all to the incredible technologies that are coming through.

A recent challenge in the US has been that one or two outlier companies have raised the price of off-patent medicines by a huge margin, leading to a mistaken perception by some that this is standard industry practice.  At Janssen we have issued a transparency report on how we construct our pricing and what pricing increase levels we implement on an annual basis. By doing that, we and other big companies are being transparent about the way we approach pricing, and it illustrates that we are taking a responsible view of it. We cannot let the industry’s reputation be tainted by a very small minority of outlier companies.

How do you make your vision of a better industry reputation a reality?

Firstly, we must make sure our workforce is well equipped with the facts. In doing so they can enter informed discussions with key healthcare stakeholders and the broader public.

Secondly, we unite as an industry to clearly articulate the benefits we bring to society.

The recent EFPIA campaign "We won’t rest" exemplifies this and provides many examples of how the industry is working to address the huge remaining unmet needs in healthcare today. It has been viewed by millions of people around the world.

Thirdly, it’s clear that to make a real difference in healthcare we need dialogue and partnerships. We at Johnson & Johnson have numerous partnerships with academia, start-ups, other companies, Governments and NGO’s through our Innovation Centres, JLabs, Global Public Health Organisation and our Global Community Impact Group. We recognise the challenges faced by Governments and healthcare providers in the provision of healthcare to ageing populations and we want to be a strong partner in addressing them.

It’s also a question of pride. I’m extremely proud about what my company does and I’m not afraid to share that with people. But, as mentioned before, we can’t just be talking to each other about this. There should be a more vocal and explicit pride in what we do, not defensiveness. We should talk more about the value we bring.

Jane Griffiths’ “Seven goals for 2018 and beyond” can be accessed here.

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Drive Patient Engagement with Health & Wellness Marketing Campaigns

Drive Patient Engagement with Health & Wellness Marketing Campaigns | Social Media and Healthcare |

The prospect of starting a new year is inspiring; the new year often signifies a clean slate, and an opportunity to better oneself. This is no more apparent than in the most common resolution people make: to get healthy in the coming year.

With so many people vowing to improve their health around New Year’s, health systems can capitalize on the opportunity to engage patients and potential patients in a meaningful way. In order to drive patient engagement around New Year’s resolutions, marketing teams should strategically plan, execute, and measure digital health and wellness campaigns.

End-to-end campaign planning helps ensure the success of such “get healthy” marketing efforts— that they will reach the optimal consumers and encourage action effectively. Campaign planning involves defining audiences, selecting campaign types and deployment channels — think organic search, paid search, email, social, display, and more — and determining calls to action.Let’s take a closer look at campaign planning tactics that drive success:

Define Audiences

Having clear campaign audiences is imperative, as success relies on reaching the right targets, at the right time, in the right way. Consider defining campaign audiences using propensity modeling, first-party research, existing market data, and historical campaign insights. Additionally, creating ideal customer personas and evaluating clinical data about existing patients can be helpful.

When defining campaign audiences, put the most focus on influencers and caretakers — as those are the most engaged audiences — by including content that is easily shareable and relatable.

Another important part of defining audiences is considering the influence of peripheral audiences. For example, if the target audience is mothers of young children, possible peripheral audiences are grandparents and spouses, as they have influence over how mothers make healthcare decisions for their children.


Choose Campaign Types

There are two main types of health and wellness campaigns: awareness campaignsand direct response campaigns:


Awareness campaigns focus on educating the audience and tend to contain a soft call-to-action (CTA) like a whitepaper download. For this type, patient engagement is measured through brand lift, landing page engagement, and content efficiency.

Direct Response

Direct response campaigns on the other hand, aim to convince consumers to take action and feature revenue-driving CTAs such as appointment scheduling. Direct response campaign engagement is measured with touchpoints, form submittals, new leads, and numbers of newly scheduled appointments.

It’s important to determine which campaign type and campaign channel will help reach target audiences and contribute to engagement goals.

Determine Campaign Timing

Patient engagement depends greatly on when health and wellness campaigns are deployed; certain service lines have campaign “sweet spots” due to seasonality. Campaigns that are aimed at seasonal service lines’ optimal audiences during peak times have the best chance at driving the most engagement.

For example, campaigns around weight management tend to elicit the most engagement, due to the popularity of New Year’s resolutions. For instance, deploy campaigns with messaging around exercise and healthy eating from November through the end of January to target patients who made weight-loss resolutions.

Nurture Post-Campaign Launch

Not everyone will schedule an appointment, or even reach the threshold of a marketing qualified lead to trigger an outbound call. Once health and wellness campaigns are deployed, it’s essential to nurture target consumers. This involves creating multi-channel campaigns through emails, social media, outbound calls, direct mail (brochures or pamphlets), and more to connect campaign efforts with further engagement opportunities.

For successful lead nurturing that improves patient engagement, ensure that follow-up efforts include content that supports and complements the previously seen content, as well as strategic CTAs. All campaign content, no matter the channel, should have cohesive branding for a unified message and brand presence.

Timing of nurturing is also imperative –  follow-ups sent too soon or too long after campaigns can hinder engagement. Spreading follow-up over a two-week period is a general best practice.

Consider building nurture workflows that lay out engagement journeys. Patient engagement journeys outline ideal pathways, from the point a patient initially sees a campaign to when they become a lifelong member of the healthcare organization’s community. Nurturing is a key component of patient engagement journeys because it helps keep patients involved with health systems over time.

Final Thoughts

Health and wellness marketing campaigns can boost patient engagement by inspiring consumers to visit health systems’ websites, interact on social media, call engagement centers, ask questions, and ultimately come in for clinical appointments in the new year. Patient engagement is a central component of acquiring and retaining patients; effective engagement helps health systems gain new patients and retain existing ones, driving revenue and increasing patient bases.

When it comes to patient engagement, strategic planning, thoughtful implementation, and consistent follow-up on health and wellness campaigns are the keys to success. This is imperative not only for patient experience and satisfaction, but for the financial success of healthcare organizations.

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Radiology is Primed for Social Media | Diagnostic Imaging

Radiology is Primed for Social Media | Diagnostic Imaging | Social Media and Healthcare |

In this day and age where millions use social media on a daily basis, the world of medicine has rapidly jumped onboard. The use of social media in medicine is an interesting and multi-faceted one. Hospitals, medical technology companies, physicians, medical students and patients all have an interesting stake in the world of healthcare social media. On one side of the spectrum, physicians on social media can partake in professional networking and teaching opportunities. On the other, patients find themselves within informal reach of physicians willing to discuss what they do, and why they do it, closing the gap between the physician and patient. Luckily for radiology, where the majority of cases are image and technology based, the field is primed for a significant social media presence.

With social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Figure 1, radiologists have a myriad of options. One of the most common and simpler platforms to manage, Twitter, affords medical professionals an interesting opportunity to interact with others. With a “like” acting as a high five, a “retweet” as a hello, and a “reply” as a method of initiating conversation, radiologists can easily interact with other healthcare professionals, widening their professional network and building a far-reaching reputation. While medical conferences have traditionally been known as a way to bring physicians from all around the world together to interact, social media pages, including Twitter, have found a way to strengthen those relationships year-round. These tools now allow greater and more meaningful collaboration than before.

In addition to improved networking, the use of social media for teaching and learning cannot be understated and the methods are abundant. For example, radiologists can easily post interesting cases to illustrate teaching points useful for practice. Social media also uniquely affords a fantastic opportunity to ask questions about soliciting advice from other radiologists and sharing of ideas and experiences to further improve one’s practice and provide better patient care. Furthermore, social media allows for a quick avenue to learn about the ever-evolving innovations in the field, creating a one stop shop for “what’s new” in radiology and medicine. Another helpful use of social media is sharing grant and scholarship opportunities, announcing national meetings and sending deadline reminders for abstracts and other educational opportunities.

The role of social media in education is particularly relevant for the current generation of medical students. Through sharing of interesting cases and radiological teaching points, students can be introduced to the field before even stepping into a reading room. Moreover, students are frequently in search of physician networks to find opportunities for research, shadowing and meaningful mentoring relationships. Social media provides an effective conduit for students to interact with radiologists nationwide to develop such relationships. Finally, social media affords a fantastic recruitment opportunity for residency programs. Medical students take notice of programs with a strong presence on social media, which aids programs in recruiting strong applicants for their incoming classes and publicizing their institutions.

Lastly, healthcare social media is not just for medical professionals. Social media also allows patients to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into who their doctors really are, professionally and personally. It can be intimidating for patients to interact with their physicians during appointments. When medical professionals walk into a room in their white coats, there is a clear power divide. Social media, on the contrary, is a very informal platform for patients to get to interact with the radiologists who interpret their imaging exams and perform their image-guided procedures. Additionally, it’s a great way to humanize radiologists in the eyes of patients as they get to know them through online interactions and develop improved doctor-patient relationships. Social media further plays a unique role for patient education, raising awareness of disease and clearing misconceptions, and can be even used to connect patients with the appropriate physician specialist for their medical care.

While healthcare social media is a powerful addition to the world of radiology and medicine, it is critical to avoid common pitfalls that may easily affect us and our patients. First and foremost, respecting patient privacy and complying with HIPPA rules should always be considered with every social media interaction. While it is easy to avoid sharing obvious identifiable patient information, special attention should be paid to unique imaging findings and rare cases that can be traced to the patients involved. Second, it’s important to own our social media reputation and shared personal life in the online public sphere to maintain our professional image and that of our field. Lastly, it goes without saying, careful consideration should be paid to social media contributions involving controversial political and religious matters, and personal opinions should be clarified as such and not that of our institutions/employers. If these golden rules are followed, social media holds a seemingly limitless role in the future of radiology. Moral of the story? Get posting!

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Nurses and Social Media: Guard Your Career and Your Reputation

Nurses and Social Media: Guard Your Career and Your Reputation | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social Media Guidelines for Nurses

A tired nurse, just off duty from her shift at a flu-ridden emergency department, posted a video titled "After Work Thoughts" on Facebook, in which she told the public, in bold terms, how to protect themselves from exposure to the influenza virus. She's not the only nurse who is communicating with patients, and the public, through social media. Whether you have a social media site for your business or simply maintain your own personal page or site, here are four guidelines for protecting your career.

Maintain professional boundaries. After you have posted something on social media, it's easy to get drawn into the discussion when a viewer or reader posts a comment. Don't get drawn into arguing back and forth among commenters, patients' family members, or friend/enemy groups in the community. It doesn't matter whether the site is your professional site or your personal site; you're a nurse, and nursing requires nurses to maintain professional boundaries. In one case, a nurse who had counseled a couple later sided publicly with one of them when they were splitting up. That angered the other member of the couple enough to make a report to the Board of Nursing. The nurse was disciplined for failing to maintain boundaries. For more information on the nursing profession's expectations, see the National Council of State Boards of Nursing's A Nurse's Guide to Professional Boundaries.

Protect your professional reputation. It's fine to post a photo of yourself getting an award, giving a presentation, or posing with a professional idol, student, or mentor. But don't post photos of yourself holding a beer, smoking, wearing a T-shirt with a saucy slogan, or screaming with your friends. Yes, nurses are allowed to drink beer when off-duty and they're allowed to wear T-shirts, but it's best for your credibility and your career if you maintain a professional presence online.


Make sure that what you say or write is medically correct. It's fine to use plain language. It's certainly not illegal to use slang, and sometimes slang can be effective, but usually it's more professional not to use slang words.

Don't breach patient privacy and violate HIPAA. If a commenter is also your patient, don't converse through the comments section. If you do, you could be divulging the patient's protected health information. If the patient has posted a question and you want to respond, call the patient and give your answer by phone. If the answer to the question is something that many people would benefit from, you can address the question and answer in a general post without referring to the person who originally posted the question. Here's an example: You are an expert on diabetes and have written a blog on nutrition. One of your patients posts, "Is watermelon OK?" Don't get into an online discussion with that patient. Instead, either call or email the patient with your answer, or write a separate blog, in a week or so, on which fruits are best, in general, for people with diabetes.

Don't establish a "duty of care" through social media. Let's say you posted an article on a health issue, such as how to deal with overwhelming fatigue. Someone posts, "I am tired all the time. What should I do?" You can advise the person to "See your healthcare provider." But if you provide additional medical or nursing advice, the individual relies on your advice, and it turns out that the advice was wrong and the patient suffered an injury, you can be liable if the patient sues you for malpractice, even though the patient wasn't enrolled with your practice and never paid you a penny. You automatically have a "duty of care" to patients who are admitted to your unit at the hospital or who are enrolled with your office practice. But you don't need to, nor do you want to, establish a duty of care with individuals who respond to your social media posts. You can advise commenters to see their own healthcare providers or to go to an urgent/emergency care center. But don't get into taking their history or giving advice through the comment section.

The 'Wash Your Stinking Hands' Viral Video

The nurse who posted the flu-avoidance video complied with each of these guidelines: She gave general, correct advice; her examples of patient behavior weren't identifiable with any individual patient; and she maintained a professional presence overall, even though she used some slang in conveying her frustration with those who come to the emergency department during flu season with non-emergencies.

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What The Hell Is Blockchain And What Does It Mean For Healthcare And Pharma?

What The Hell Is Blockchain And What Does It Mean For Healthcare And Pharma? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Don Tapscott, author of the book entitled Blockchain Revolution said in his superb, no-frills TED Talk that blockchain is the technology that is likely to have the greatest impact on the next few decades. No, it’s not social media. No, it’s not big data, not robotics, not even artificial intelligence. It’s the technology behind the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.

Stop there for a moment. So, blockchain will have more transformative power on our lives than Facebook, Instagram and Donald Trump using Twitter for diplomacy? How? Why? When? Is that true or is it another bubble shaping up in front of our eyes?

When looking at how fast companies in various industries are adopting blockchain, the latter question is certainly worth considering. According to Transparency Market Research, the global blockchain technology market is expected to be worth $20 billion(!!) by the end of 2024 as compared to $315.9 million in 2015. The overall market is anticipated to exhibit a 58.7 percent annual growth between 2016 and 2024. Moving faster than Elon Musk’s red Tesla Roadster in space. And the drivers of this massive expansion are innovators, start-ups, bold companies in finance, retail and manufacturing, government – and healthcare.

Due to blockchain’s ties to cryptocurrencies, most people believe that the financial system will adopt the technology soonest, but healthcare’s speed of leveraging blockchain seems to actually surpass it. A new IBM Institute for Business Value blockchain study, Healthcare Rallies for Blockchain, surveyed 200 healthcare executives in 16 countries. They found that 16 percent aren’t just experimenting; they expect to have a commercial blockchain solution at scale in 2017. Moreover, according to IBM’s estimation, another 56 percent will follow the first adopters until 2020. That means within 2 years!

Thus, it is high time to have a look at how and why the technology behind Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency in a great part powering criminals trading on the darknet could become the cornerstone of future healthcare. More briefly, let’s see what the hell blockchain is!

Blockchain is the new word for trust online

On the Internet, nobody knows that you’re a dog. Although Peter Steiner’s cartoon drawn for The New Yorker in 1993 is mostly associated with the issue of anonymity on the Internet, it highlights deeper problems in relation to trust, credibility, security, and privacy. In the era of fake news and online scam, it does not come as a surprise to anyone that it is difficult to secure information, communication processes or trade online. And it is especially important in case of such sensitive information as money or healthcare data.

In case of money, trust and credibility have long been established by central intermediaries, such as banks, and other types of middlemen. You transfer money via your online bank account knowing its safe and secure because you trust the financial institution behind it. And in the case of online transactions, there has been another problem for which trustworthy intermediaries have meant the solution for years. The problem of duplications. When you send an e-mail with an attached cat photo, the image will automatically be copied. So, how do you make sure that doesn’t happen with your money? That the well-earned dollars that you spend on books will actually disappear from your bank account and appear on Amazon’s. In the case of digital assets like money, stocks or intellectual property, not to speak about electronic health records, authentication and accountability are key elements.

Still, middlemen such as banks are too slow. And too expensive. While an e-mail arrives in seconds in another person’s mailbox, an international transfer could take several days, even weeks. And it is not even that secure, as it could be hacked more easily due to the banks’ centralized nature. As a response to all these issues, Satoshi Nakamoto, a mysterious Japanese programmer or a group, worked out the world’s first digital currency, Bitcoin and its underlying, supporting system, the blockchain. Since then, several types and modified versions of the technology appeared. As The Economist explained, blockchain enables an economy where trust is established not by central intermediaries but through consensus and complex computer code. It lets people who have no particular confidence in each other collaborate without having to go through a neutral central authority. Simply put, it is a machine for creating trust.

Blockchain is like a scarf knitted by your grandmother

The concept and the operation of the technology are rather difficult, but it is perhaps easier to imagine with a nicely-put metaphor by The New Yorker’s Nathan Heller. In his article about Estonia as a digital republic, he said that a blockchain is like the digital version of a scarf knitted by your grandmother. She uses one ball of yarn, and the result is continuous. Each stitch depends on the one just before it. It’s impossible to remove part of the fabric, or to substitute a swatch, without leaving some trace: a few telling knots, or a change in the knit.

When The Medical Futurist asked Ivo Lohmus from Guardtime, an Estonian company developing K.S.I. blockchain technology, he said it to imagine as a shared book of records, or in more technical terms, a distributed database, that’s designed in such a smart way that whatever is added to this database, that’s immutable. As if it’s carved into stone. Any change becomes immediately evident. Another aspect of the system is that there is no central authority to decide what’s right or wrong. The participants need to come to a consensus, to articulate some shared view of the world.

There are several methods for making a decision about a new entry based on the particular consensus, Medium’s Collin Thompson explains the proof of work process used by Bitcoin as the following: when a digital transaction is carried out, it is grouped together in a cryptographically protected block with other transactions that have occurred in the last 10 minutes and sent out to the entire network. Miners (members in the network with high levels of computing power) then compete to validate the transactions by solving complex coded problems. The first miner to solve the problems and validate the block receives a reward. The validated block of transactions is then timestamped and added to a chain in a chronological order.

New blocks of validated transactions are linked to older blocks, making a chain or blocks that show every transaction made in the history of that blockchain. The entire chain is continually updated so that every database in the network is the same, giving each member the ability to prove who owns what at any given time.

The benefits of blockchain

The technology has numerous benefits for online transactions, especially in the field of digital assets, such as health data. Blockchain’s time-sensitive nature allows any data to move around in that particular format only once in the network. The blocks are impossible to change; only new entries can be added to the network. This is critical in case of health data. Just imagine what might happen if someone could change a patient’s blood type in the health record system without anyone noticing it.

Moreover, Ivo Lohmus said that many times, as in the case of the K.S.I blockchain which is used for the Estonian medical records system, the blockchain does not directly deal with the data. Through the cryptographic process, a unique identifier of the data, a hash, is created, which functions similarly to the biological fingerprint. While you can identify anyone based on his or her fingerprint, you cannot “reconstruct” the whole person. And finally, as the blockchain is based on the consensus of network participants, access to data can be linked to permission.

Beyond ensuring authentication and credibility, blockchain also brings unprecedented security benefits. Hacking attacks that commonly impact large, centralized intermediaries like banks would be virtually impossible to pull off on the blockchain. For example — if someone wanted to hack into a particular block in a blockchain, a hacker would not only need to hack into that specific block, but all of the proceeding blocks going back the entire history of that blockchain. And they would need to do it on every ledger in the network, which could be millions, simultaneously.

Blockchain in healthcare – Long instead of big data

Blockchain has immense potential in healthcare. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value blockchain study, new adopters of the technology expect the greatest blockchain benefits across time, cost, and risk in three areas: clinical trial records, regulatory compliance, and medical/health records.

It is capable of transforming the entire system of medical records, just as Estonia already did. In March 2017, the Baltic country’s eHealth Authority has signed a deal with Guardtime to secure the health records of over a million Estonians. Patientory, a start-up helping hospitals to secure their patient data while enabling patients to follow the fate of their own data, has urged the British government “to get behind a blockchain-enabled national IT health system” at the time of the NHS ransomware attack. If there were political will and comprehensive financial support, other countries could also Estonia’s as well as Dubai’s lead. The latter has also started to test blockchain technology for securing its electronic medical records.

Due to its time-sensitive nature, blockchains shift the lens from disparate bits of information held by a single owner, to the lifetime history of an asset. Instead of big data, capturing long-term data becomes more easily possible. And that’s exactly why it is the perfect solution when we need to document a patient’s health record, to set up reliable vaccine registries or to secure the movement of drugs through the supply chain.

Blockchain in pharma

The issue of counterfeit medicines, as the dark side of networked markets and globalization, has become increasingly pressing, both in terms of the economic cost of this global black market and the risk to human lifethat comes from taking counterfeit drugs. In many developing countries in Asia, Africa, and South America, counterfeit drugs comprise between 10 percent and 30 percent of the total medicines on sale.

Cindy Greatrex, Vice President of The National Alliance of Research Associates Programs remarked that for combatting fake pharmaceuticals a solution needs to be employed that stops the counterfeits from contaminating the supply chain. The best solution is to track pharmaceuticals so that digital systems linked to medication moving in the physical world are established. This is important because when you have a unique digital reference to a drug and a physical copy of that drug, it is much harder to erase or duplicate one without the other.

Blockchain offers security through transparency. It might work as follows: barcode-tagged drugs could be scanned and entered into secure digital blocks whenever they change hands. This ongoing real-time record could be viewed anytime by authorized parties and even patients at the far end of the supply chain. This would make it much more difficult for criminal networks to sell their counterfeit drugs on the market.

However, the advantages of blockchain for pharma does not stop there. Drug developers running clinical trials might be able to share clinical data and medical samples more securely. And while blockchain underpins the digital currencies demanded in ransomware attacks, the technology could also play a role in securing sensitive industry data from malicious attack.

It’s clear that blockchain will have a massive impact on dealing with healthcare data. It’s also worth looking at news about blockchain differently than those related to Bitcoin. The blockchain is a technology, Bitcoin is a product of it. As it is going to be more and more widespread in the future, we’ll keep on writing about the many ways blockchain can support healthcare and pharma.

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10 myths about millennials and their healthcare habits - Medical Marketing and Media

10 myths about millennials and their healthcare habits - Medical Marketing and Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Drew Train turned 18 in 1999, which puts him at millennial ground zero. Now 36, the president and cofounder of ad agency Oberland says perspective has had a profound impact on how he sees and creates healthcare marketing — and that it has more to do with favoring hip-hop over grunge or comfort with computers.

“People don't understand how skeptical my generation is, and how we are always going to scratch under the hood,” he says, adding it isn't just about the way millennials view doctors, medicines, or pharma companies. “It means we have a lack of trust in ‘the man,' in general. We demand transparency.”

Train and fellow millennials who work in and around healthcare marketing believe more assumptions are made about their generation than about any other demographic.

Some are true, to some extent: they do expect everything from communications to health data transmission available at the swipe of a screen. But many others, they claim, are distorted.

Here are 10 myths these plugged-in professionals say it's time to bust.

1. Myth: We are fundamentally different than other humans. 
Reality: We're just people. Really.

“The motivators of behavior for a 20-year-old can be the same for someone who's 50-plus,” says Ben Greenberg, 24, strategic planner, social sciences at McCann Health. “It comes down to who you are as a person.”

Greenberg says McCann's Truth About Age study backs that up, but millennials “are still perceived as the lazy generation that is married to our phones. I'm wondering if people will still think about us that way when we're 60.”

His plea? “Throw out the numbers in your segmentation so you can create a new type of connection with your customers.”

2. Myth: We don't think much about our health. 
Reality: We give it high priority.

“Millennials are aging at the same rate as every other generation. Because we prioritize health so much more, we're increasingly active and engaged in healthcare,” says Derek Flanzraich, 30, CEO and founder of Greatist, a millennial favorite that reaches 10 million to 15 million unique visitors each month.

See also: Millennial staffers at agencies seek work-life balance and strong supervisors

More and more, he says, millennials are “interacting with the healthcare system as caretakers as our parents age.” This creates a major opening for healthcare brands — but few have taken advantage.

3. Myth: We're social media lemmings. 
Reality: We're experts in credibility.

Some healthcare marketers think millennials “are so enamored by social media influencers that they'll believe anything they see,” says Dana Cormack, 29, consumer health specialist at Allidura Consumer, part of Syneos Health. “Partnering with social media influencers is a valuable tactic, but the omnipresence of influencer content means millennials are savvier and more discerning about content.”

To that end, Cormack believes health and wellness marketers should strive to work with influencers who aren't oversaturated, and that the content those influencers are sharing “tells a transparent and relatable story in terms of scientific product benefits and how the product fits into the millennial lifestyle.”

Cormack suggests marketers quit tossing around phrases such as “crowdsourced” or “user-generated content.” “Millennials trust our friends, but we also need credible expert advice,” she explains. “Remember — we were the first generation to learn in school which websites to trust and which to ignore.”

4. Myth: We're technology-dependent. 
Reality: Technology, especially social media, makes us more efficient.

“People love to say we are lazy and want to take the easy way out,” says Maureen Healy, 23, art director at FCB Health. “We just use [tech] to do things faster. Social media gives us the chance to see more ideas and come to our own conclusions.”

Healy says this tech should power smarter health marketing. Two campaigns she admires: Plan B, for its clever use of social to educate people about emergency contraception, and blood cancer charity DKMS' Casting for A Hero, which leverages millennial love for Comic Con. “These are relevant and simple.”

5. Myth: We're healthy. 
Reality: Chronic illness is a fact of life for millions of us.

Obesity, depression, diabetes, and autoimmune disease are widespread among millennials. And while many of those ailments emerge in young adulthood, marketers persist in using imagery such as blissful yoga poses or gleeful bike rides.

“I hate when I see an ad for a rheumatoid arthritis drug and it shows someone running through a field of daisies on a sunny day,” says Marlajan Wexler, 36, author of the popular LuckFupus blog. “My friends with lupus can't be in the sun and don't feel like running through daisies. Pharma companies have come a long way, but there's still much to do.”

6. Myth: We mistrust doctors.
Reality: We'd just rather try something else first.

“Most millennials turn to consumer-focused solutions first,” Flanzraich notes. “When it comes to preventive health, we're more likely to try an app, click an online ad, or listen to word-of-mouth suggestions before we'd consider anything from a healthcare provider or insurer.

“The most compelling health brands manage to speak with us, not at us. They're designed to build trust and comfort. And they're built with the consumer and user in mind first.”

But that doesn't mean millennials are prescription- or treatment-resistant, Train cautions. “If we're sick, we want to get better.”

7. Myth: We're happy campers. 
Reality: Kind of. We also have more anxiety and depression, and want to hear more about mental health.

Train, who sits on the board of New York's National Alliance on Mental Illness, says many millennials felt pressure to perform at an early age.

As a result, they aren't just more prone to mental illness — they're more open to hearing about it. “They want to talk about behavioral health, stress, and suicide prevention. They want to talk about peer-support groups,” he says.

8. Myth: We're shallow readers. 
Reality: We're super-searchers.

“There's an ongoing misconception that because millennials are, on the whole, healthy, they're not well-informed about their diagnoses or about health insurance,” says Rebecca Kaplan, 31, public affairs and social media manager of the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. But with a chronic and complicated illness such as inflammatory bowel disease, they quickly become experts, both in filing insurance claims and reading up on the disease.

“Reaching them better means using the right mode of communication, including social media, podcasts, blogs, and more newsy approaches,” Kaplan says.

Wexler agrees, adding, “Google is our best friend. We are beyond taking a pill just because the doctor suggests it. We're going to find lots of information before we make decisions.”

See also: What millennial women expect in the workplace

9. Myth: We love brands with a heart.
Reality: We do. But we also know when you're full of crap.

This generation invented the Pinocchio emoji for good reason. When companies such as Pfizer try to paint themselves as benevolent corporate citizens for “donating” pneumonia vaccines in developing countries, millennials are quick to call BS.

Through social media and their preferred news sources, Train notes, millennials learn “what Doctors Without Borders is saying about [Pfizer's] pricing practices. So don't try to tell us you're the good guys.”

10. Myth: Millennial patient groups are angry, demanding, and unrealistic. 
Reality: We just want to be part of the conversation.

Wexler, with some 10,000 followers across social media, says many marketers believe patient communities are made up of “people who want a cure for their disease yesterday, or expect to get drugs for free.

While that may be true of some, Wexler believes “for the most part, we're realists. We understand Rome wasn't built in a day and that it takes a long time for drugs to be developed, tested, and approved. We just want the patient voice to be heard. We want to be treated as humans — and to feel better.”

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Top 5 Social Media Networking Sites For Doctors And Patients

Top 5 Social Media Networking Sites For Doctors And Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

While most doctors and other healthcare professionals have little time to regularly check and update social media accounts, it’s the digital platform where most of their patients search for a diverse range of health-relation information. Participating in online social conversations with peers and patients is critical to modern medical success, both in terms of educating people and promoting practices. As a healthcare provider, or even a patient, you need to find and share information online, get to know about public opinions and observations, and find solutions for health issues and ailments. Lucky for you, there are a number of websites and app created for the masses to share general or specifically healthcare-related information. Here are some suggestions: 1. Facebook The social networking website is more than just an online application for the public to share everyday posts, images and videos. It has a treasure of information for people in the healthcare industry too. Many healthcare providers use for desktop and mobile Facebook to connect with potential and current patients. RSS.Bitcoin Daily Bitcoin videos twitter However, since the website has limited guidelines about specific healthcare fields, healthcare providers and patients need to proceed with caution when sharing information, so as to not violate HIPAA rules and regulations. 2. LinkedIn Groups One of the leading websites for organizations and employers to find talented candidates, and professionals to seek out a great position in their industry, LinkedIn has social tools to cater to healthcare professionals. Doctors, nurses, physicians and other healthcare providers can become members of niche groups for job searching, joining discussions, networking and marketing. 3. Healthguv A recent innovation venture that that information-sharing and social media tools specifically related to healthcare, Healthguv can be used by people all around the world. The healthcare social networking site enabled its registered users to create profiles, through which they can create and post healthcare articles, blogs, news, images and videos. They can also discover and learn from content shared by other users. The website also enables medical providers and companies to promote their practices and products in a more personalized way, and assist patients with queries through chats and, messages. Users can also control which parts of their profile and shared content to keep public or private. 4. AllNurses Nursing students and nurses looking to discover job listings, articles, forums and more can join AllNurses. The site enables registered members to share information on a password-protected system. 5. MomMD Female physicians and other healthcare providers can join in on the discussion forums and explore the website’s job board to find suitable positions in various healthcare sectors. The users can also compare salaries, and raise and spread information about healthcare related issues faced by the female population. These social platforms consist of user-friendly features, and some have immense databases of information that cannot be found on conventional medical websites. However, it’s important to know that social media can be a tricky domain for first-time healthcare users; you must remain aware of each site’s security and privacy guidelines and regulations.

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The Top Trending Dental Social Media Marketing Ideas

The Top Trending Dental Social Media Marketing Ideas | Social Media and Healthcare |

Building a dental practice and keeping your patients happy can be a huge job. We all know that digital marketing tools can make life easier.

By using digital content like blog posts, or focusing on customer reviews, you can build your brand. Local patients will boost your word-of-mouth business and you can focus on practising dentistry.

Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. The blessing and the curse of digital marketing is that it happens so fast.

Yesterday’s tools are today’s junk.

You need to be focusing on dental Social Media Marketing ideas for your digital campaigns to remain effective.

If not, you may fail to reach the patients you want. We can help.

Here’s why you need Social Media as part of your strategy:

Dental Social Media Marketing Ideas Work

Many dentists know that the way to boost business and establish the foundation for a successful practice is by increasing your word of mouth referrals.

Social Media takes that same concept and allows you to accelerate the process with digital content and targeted advertising.

Since more than 90 percent of all people say referrals (or earned media) are their preferred form of advertising, you can cater to their needs.

Social Media is where you enable endorsements, community presence, and add a boost to your digital content strategies. You’ll increase revenue and have a marketing strategy that is measurable every step of the way.

We know the trends aren’t always easy to follow. After all, you have a dental practice to run.

And when you and your staff finally pin down a digital marketing technique, something new comes along and changes the rules.

But if you master this list you’ll be on top of the trends this year. Here’s how to make the most of dental Social Media marketing ideas:

1. Make It Mobile

Too many dental practices still have it backwards when it comes to mobile. They plan their marketing strategy for desktop users and then reverse engineer the content for mobile platforms.

This is true for every aspect of digital marketing. But especially when it comes to Social Media marketing ideas, it’s time to shift the paradigm.

It’s simple: Your current and potential patients depend on mobile for all of their content.

If you start on the desktop you are working against yourself. Mobile is your patient’s first priority.

Mobile needs to be your first priority too.

Facebook reports that 80 percent of their new ad revenue is from mobile campaigns. This is true because business owners understand that the majority of users get their information from mobile platforms now.

Whether they are using smartphones or iPads, your current and potential patients want access on mobile platforms. You won’t just be designing your dental Social Media marketing ideas around their preferences, though.

What better place to leverage Social Media than on mobile devices? The connection between communication and the personal touch is strongest when it’s made on Social Media.

Mobile technology is hardly a trend. But designing for mobile first and desktop second is.

2. Focus On Social Messaging

It’s not enough to limit your practice to the Social Media side of digital content. Investing in social messaging is one of the most effective trends to follow this year.

Many dental practices aren’t aware of the incredible reach of social messaging. Did you know that WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber and WeChat together have more users than the big networks?

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are second place to the Social Messaging apps.

Social Messaging can be a great component of your digital marketing strategy. Don’t be a latecomer to the party with this mode of connection.

Dental Social Media marketing ideas work hand in hand with social messaging. You can connect users, leverage reviews, and deploy targeted ads as well.

3. Be Social With Video

Mobile video traffic is projected to grow by 50 percent annually between now and 2022. If your digital marketing content creation strategy doesn’t include video yet it’s time to start.

Your patients don’t just want mobile content. They want video, too.

Plus, video is a great way to connect socially. You can post reviews, procedures, case studies, community events, and more.

There is no limit to the ways video content can help you build your brand and connect with new patients. In terms of dental Social Media marketing ideas, video content works because it also encourages engagement with your content.

Engaged patients are likely to be moved to action. Plus, if they like your Social Media content they are more apt to share it.

You can watch your referrals soar. But the content isn’t the only reason to get moving with video.

You’ll have access to other networks.

YouTube is a Social Media community.

Many dentists don’t think of YouTube as a Social Media community. But it’s designed is for users to share personal content, respond, and connect.  It’s actually the original platform for video users in a Social Media setting. Plus, YouTube is the second most visited site in the world.

We see too many dental practices fall short with their dental Social Media marketing ideas. They use one or two but fail to see the impact.

For instance, they focus on SEO away from a Social Media strategy. But YouTube isn’t just a popular site.

It’s also the second largest search engine in the world. YouTube processes over 3 million searches a month.

By using video content as a key dental Social Media marketing idea you will have the benefit of boosting SEO and engagement while reaching more web users with popular content.

4. Get Live

Don’t just focus on video content this year. Focus on Live Video content if you want the best in dental Social Media marketing ideas.

Live content is taking off in popularity. Facebook has made huge investments in the technology which can help you reach new and existing patients.

Their approach allows for targeted ads inside Live Video content.

But Facebook is not alone. Snap, Twitter, and Instagram have all expanded their offerings and are investing in Live Video technology. Much like video content and mobile access, Live Video is what users want. With increasing distrust of mass media, Live Video allows users to connect in real time.

You can use this video in the same way. Promote a new special or connect with your followers in social and friendly ways.

Just like your other content strategies, Live Video stands ready to build your brand.

5. Be Professional

When it comes to dental Social Media marketing ideas, you’ll need to consider your platform as well as your brand. You will find you use Facebook very differently than you use Instagram.

But LinkedIn is a Social Media platform many practices ignore. They don’t remember that the branding of LinkedIn makes it a unique forum to promote expertise and professionalism.

Your dental Social Media marketing ideas can benefit from LinkedIn because you can integrate this platform with your overall strategy.

How is a platform we’ve all heard of a trend for 2017? Simply put, Microsoft’s purchase of the Social Media platform has changed things for the better.

Make sure you are being professional in a way that relates to your patients by using LinkedIn this year.

6. Invest In Targeted Ads

Targeted ads are nothing new for Social Media. But the ability to link to return on investment is becoming more and more effective.

If you think of advertising on Social Media something like placing an ad in a local magazine, it’s time to reassess your strategy.

Targeted ads need to be utilized alongside the dental Social Media marketing ideas you deploy across different platforms.

As mentioned above, this can include Live Video and Social Messaging. But you should also pay attention to return on investment (ROI) and SEO.

If you are investing the right way for your practice you should tie each campaign back to results. New dental Social Media marketing ideas include getting incredibly precise in both your targeting as well as your returns.

Social Media marketing allows for this investment to be measurable and direct.

7. Boost Reviews

Reviews are just becoming a larger trend because of their ability to boost other aspects of your dental Social Media marketing ideas. Reviews aren’t new. But using them as an SEO strategy and a way to promote content and sharing on Social Media is.

Done correctly, you can increase reviews and referrals by leveraging your Social Media strategy.

All of this should be done in an integrated approach.

8. An Integrated Approach

Each of these trends is useful when taken separately. But when combined, the effects are exponential.

Integrating your Social Media strategy with Live Video, reviews, video content, and reviews will propel your website upwards in the search results. Unfortunately, when it comes to Social Media trends, it’s hard to stay on top of things. Plus, unless you combine these ideas you are missing out on the results.

You may even watch your competitors do less work for more returns.

Don’t lose your competitive edge when it comes to the latest dental Social Media marketing ideas.

We can help. Dominate Dental creates and deploys successful digital marketing campaigns that include an integrated Social Media strategy.

Don’t wait. Keep focused on your core business.

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Plastic surgeons sharing procedures on social media raises ethical concerns

Plastic surgeons sharing procedures on social media raises ethical concerns | Social Media and Healthcare |

Plastic surgeons have been advertising their services for years with before and after photos.

Since May 2016, Toronto plastic surgeon Dr. Martin Jugenburg has been using his Instagram account to increase business by showing the steps in-between.

Jugenburg, whose Instagram handle is @realdrsix, shares videos and photos of liposuction, breast augmentations and the increasingly popular Brazilian butt lifts in grisly detail on his Instagram and Snapchat accounts.

Read more: Millennials using Botox to stay young looking, plastic surgeons say

He has almost 74,000 followers on Instagram — and 80,000 on Snapchat. Many of them post comments on his photos and videos and, more importantly, reach out to him with their questions.

Jugenburg says he is providing an educational tool. But critics are concerned that viewers and potential patients may not be getting a full picture of the risks involved with plastic surgery and worry online postings could easily cross ethical lines.

“My goal is to educate the public, and make my patients better understand what they are getting into,” said Jugenburg, who believes seeing real plastic surgeons at work on Instagram is far less dangerous than watching non-qualified people at work.

“I see social media as the new Discovery Channel or TLC,” Jugenburg said. “Millennials don’t watch TV anymore. They are online.”

Jugenburg isn’t the only plastic surgeon to operate on social media, but he was the first Canadian to do so and he has the largest following among Canadian plastic surgeons.

The videos can be jarring and hard to watch at first. On the lower end of the ick spectrum is seeing the fat collected from liposuction. Higher up is seeing kilograms of flesh removed from tummy tucks weighed on a scale. Higher still is seeing the inside of a breast during lift surgery while the nipple is still in place.

If you can get past the ick factor, it’s educational and informative, said Tania Isnor, a 32-year-old mother of two, who watched Jugenburg’s videos of breast lifts before going to him for the same procedure as well as implants in November.

“The first or second time that I saw it I was like, ‘Whoa! That’s a lot,’ but then it kind of grew on me and became more interesting,” said Isnor, adding that one of the main reasons she chose Jugenburg was his social media presence.

“He shows exactly what’s happening, so I knew when I went into surgery what they were doing, so there were no surprises,” she said.

Isnor gave Jugenburg consent to share her procedure on social media to inform others about what the surgery entails.

“I told all my girlfriends I’ll be on Snap and Insta. This is the time. This is the day. So they all watched,” she said. The video was very technical, with Jugenburg explaining everything as he did it. He shared her before and after photos in his Instagram and Snapchat stories.

A recent study in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal found plastic surgeons who are eligible to be members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery created almost 18 per cent of the top posts on Instagram with hashtags related to plastic surgery. The rest were by doctors not trained in plastic surgery and people who aren’t doctors at all, but offering services they’re not necessarily trained to do.

The study also found certified plastic surgeons were much more likely to post educational content under the hashtags than nonplastic surgeons.

Dr. Giancarlo McEvenue, a plastic surgeon at the McLean Clinic in Mississauga who also posts surgeries on his Instagram accounts, wrote a paper about social media activity among Canadian plastic surgeons in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.

He chose the topic because “no one knew what plastic surgeons were actually doing online,” he said.

McEvenue found plastic surgeons typically do not have a strong online presence and thinks that is disconcerting.

“I think it’s important for plastic surgeons to be leaders online in social media because we have the education and the expertise to inform patients correctly,” he said. “If we’re not going to do it, other people will, and it may put people in danger because of misinformation out there.”

Though the social media content is popular amongst patients and prospective patients, it can be an ethical grey area.

Not only do doctors need a patient’s consent to share photos online — even when taking care to cover identifying features such as faces and tattoos — there are concerns that surgeons may misrepresent their results by altering photos and not explain the risks of surgery thoroughly.

When it comes to sharing surgeries, McEvenue asks patients to sign a disclaimer. “Once something has been posted online in any format there’s no guarantee of privacy,” he said.

Regarding representation, Karyn Wagner, the executive director of the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons, said the organization’s code of ethics states that members are not allowed to give deceptive or misleading information, which includes before and after photos or images of patients “with different light, poses or photographic techniques to misrepresent the results achieved by the individual.”

But this can be hard to police.

The society does not have a section specifically addressing conduct on social media, nor does it have any plans to, Wagner said.

Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist at the University of Toronto, said it’s hard to know if all the stipulations plastic surgeons are required to follow are being met.

“Anything with before and after pictures where there’s any alteration of the photographs or the lighting or anything else would be considered unethical,” he said. “I’m not saying there is, but I wouldn’t know either.”

Neither do the doctors’ followers — they just have to hope the doctors are acting ethically.

As does the Society of Plastic Surgeons, which does not monitor its members’ postings on social media to see if they follow the ethics code, Wagner said.

However, Bowman also believes that social media can help to educate patients.

“I do think the strength of it is the amount of detail you get as to exactly what goes on in the procedure, but I wouldn’t say that’s full-informed consent because you don’t see what the risks could possibly be or the range of outcomes.”

In conventional medicine he would see “a whole lot of red flags,” in terms of the self-promotion by doctors and hard-to-find information on risk and benefits, he said. But the defence of that is the culture of plastic surgery — a very visual specialty — is so radically different, he added.

McEvenue agrees.

“We’re not dealing with sick people, we’re dealing with healthy people that are concerned with beauty,” he said. “So, we’re in a grey area of the fashion industry and medicine.”

The phenomena of sharing videos of surgeries on social media began with Dr. Michael Salzhauer, better known as Dr. Miami, an American plastic surgeon who has been sharing videos and pictures of procedures on Instagram since 2014. His two Instagram accounts combined have more than one million followers and his Snapchat account has around two million with an average daily viewership of up to one million, he said in an email.

His popularity on social media even snagged him an unscripted TV show called Dr. Miami.

“I started doing it to show my prospective patients and their families how plastic surgery works,” he said.

“It is the very best way to provide ‘informed consent.’ If a patient is able to see how an actual tummy tuck is performed, they are in a better position to decide if it is right for them. In addition, there are thousands of students that watch and are able to learn more about medicine, surgery and anatomy.”

One of McEvenue’s Instagram accounts, @topsurgery, has become a hub for his transgender patients to discuss their experience with each other.

“They’ve actually created a whole community on that page where they love being posted and talk to each other on the account and make friends and they’re all very supportive of each other,” he said.

Many of the same millennial-age patients ask to have their surgery recorded on their iPhones and shared on his Instagram account dedicated to the procedure, McEvenue added.

“In the future, probably we’ll have somebody full-time filming because it’s what patients want,” he said.

And it isn’t just millennials who’re flocking to social media for their plastic and cosmetic surgery research.

Sonia Totten, a 42-year-old nurse from Mississauga, chose Jugenburg to do her lower blepharoplasty (eyelids) in large part because she’d watched him operate on social media. She consented to broadcasting her surgery live on Snapchat and Instagram so that other people could learn.

During her surgery, her husband, Jason, who is also a nurse, could watch the procedure live on Snapchat.

“I was able to get instant updates on how my wife was doing and how everything was going in the surgery,” he said. “It was amazing.”

Though he was nervous, seeing his wife was comfortable and knowing everything was going fine helped, he said.

When the couple got home, they watched the procedure together.

“It just put my mind at ease,” said Totten of Jugenburg’s technique and professional demeanour. “It actually comforted me after and I was appreciative for that.”

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Responding to online complaints from patients 

Responding to online complaints from patients  | Social Media and Healthcare |

It is always difficult to receive criticism from a patient, but it can be even harder when that criticism is made publicly.

The increasing use of social media and online reviews has made it easier for patients to comment publicly on the care they receive. Often the comments are positive, but sometimes they are inaccurate, unfair, or misleading. This can be very frustrating especially when the feedback is made anonymously, or if patient confidentiality prevents you from putting the record straight.


The issue of confidentiality is an important one. In its guide Confidentiality - responding to criticism in the media the GMC says that you should usually limit your public response to an explanation of your legal and professional duty of confidentiality.

However, the GMC recognises that social media discussions might cause patients to be concerned about your practice. In such cases, it may be appropriate to give general information about your normal practice.

‘You must be careful not to reveal personal information about a patient, or to give an account of their care, without their consent,’ the guidance says. ‘If you deny allegations that appear in public media, you must be careful not to reveal, directly or by omission or inference, any more personal information about the patient than a simple denial demands.’

Responding to online comments

Practices need to be ready to deal with online criticism, and should use it as an opportunity to demonstrate that they take concerns seriously and want to improve the care they provide patients. A good response will reflect well on the practice, and will help counter-balance the negative remarks that have been made.

What you say in your online response is as important, if not more so, than the comments that patients have made about you. The GMC says that disputes between patients and doctors conducted in public can prolong or intensify conflict and may undermine public confidence in the profession, even if they do not involve the disclosure of personal information without consent.

So how should you respond when a patient has made negative comments about you or your practice online? A professional response will come across well to any others who may read the comments, and is the best way to try to resolve the patient’s concerns as swiftly as possible. Here are five steps that will help you to post a good reply:

  1. A quick response is important, although try to make sure that the reply is calm, measured and not written in haste. A knee-jerk reaction may just inflame the situation further.
  2. Thank the patient for their comments, acknowledge the specific concerns they have raised, and apologise if appropriate.
  3. Explain that you take all concerns very seriously, and that you will investigate the matter further.
  4. Invite the patient to contact you, giving them specific contact details to arrange a telephone call or meeting. Consider using your complaints procedure to deal with any expressions of dissatisfaction.
  5. Bear in mind your duty of confidentiality and do not disclose any personal information.

Finally, ask for advice from your medical defence organisation if you consider it may be necessary to have offending posts removed or to seek legal redress.

  • Dr Marika Davies is senior medicolegal adviser at Medical Protection
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