Social Media and Healthcare
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Social Media Connections: The Rise of Virtual Courses for CMEs

Social Media Connections: The Rise of Virtual Courses for CMEs | Social Media and Healthcare |

In this column, I’d like to explore what our world might look like in the near future and answer the question, “What impact will new social learning technologies have on the future of medical meetings and medical education?”  


So here are my predictions for the next three to five years:

1. The number of medical meetings will decrease by up to 50 percent.

2. The amount of online medical education will increase by up to 300 percent.

3. The vast majority of emerging online medical education will be received through “virtual course” models.


Here is why I think these things will happen:

For the past few years I have been looking for trends in how learners access medical education, and one is that live meetings are falling out of favor with learners due to the high costs and inconveniences they entail. This trend has been confirmed in data we have recently gathered across hundreds of clinicians—the future will include fewer live meetings and more online learning.


Online learning has evolved, and now the integration of new social learning technologies is accelerating this evolution. There is an clear opportunity to use online channels to offer more convenient, more interactive, and less expensive education.


Clinicians are increasingly comfortable engaging in online learning communities. And, perhaps even more critical, we are learning (through published research) how to structure these learning communities to increase their “perceived usefulness” for clinicians. We can apply this research in practice by designing competency-based curricula delivered within smaller, safer, closed virtual classrooms. When you leverage social learning technologies in the design of virtual courses, you enable learners to sustainably engage with faculty, interact with “classmates,” and absorb content efficiently.


As for the timeframe—three to five years—the reality is that this evolution is unlikely to be linear. The evidence we have already gathered, coupled with trends we can see in other disciplines, suggest that changes will more likely be exponential. As more learners experience these new models, and as they see the benefits of learning and sharing together, then we may very well see changes happening even more quickly. The question is whether the expectations of learners will soon outpace the capacity of the medical education community. So my question for you is: Will you be ready to lead this change?


Brian S. McGowan, PhD, has dedicated the past 12 years to medical education as a faculty member, mentor, accredited provider, and commercial supporter. The opinions expressed are McGowan’s and do not represent the views of past, current, or future employers. Contact him via Twitter: @BrianSMcGowan.

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

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
Nice post
Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
#Formdox integrates perfectly with several #functionalities for the monitoring
cctopbuilders's comment, April 26, 6:01 AM
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Using Social Media to Enhance Sports Medicine Research Connectivity and Patient Care

Using Social Media to Enhance Sports Medicine Research Connectivity and Patient Care | Social Media and Healthcare |

Seeing high-quality research articles alongside pictures of smiling children and funny cat videos may seem unusual at first, but when you look across the social media landscape this is fairly normal. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and the other available platforms, web sites, and applications can be daunting for the novice user. As the use of social media is now intertwined in society, it is important for the clinician and researcher to understand how best to use the information to improve patient outcomes and the impact of clinical research.

According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of American adults receive their news from social media.1 In a similar regard, members of the public, including your patients, may only be getting their scientific information from these platforms and from their “followers” and/or friends. Perhaps the best way to get correct information to the lay population is through engagement. This will assist in reducing the impact of “echo-chambers” where misinformed beliefs regarding health care and the larger scientific community may be propagated.2 Although engaging the public in an open, unmoderated forum may seem scary, this conversation can lead to new innovations in research and clinical outcomes.

How can social media inform everyday patient care? Remember the three-legged stool of evidence-based practice includes the best research available, clinical expertise and patient values. What better way to learn about what patients value than when they are openly offering their opinion on the latest and greatest health care trends? Therefore, engaging patients can not only have an important impact on their misconceptions, but also inform you, the expert, on what those patients value.3

From a tangible perspective, understanding who is reading your work and what your relative impact is may also help improve your connectivity to the patients whose health care you are attempting to improve. For example, as of May 15, 2018, according to compiled openly available Altmetric statistics, which track research and social media impact, the Athletic Training & Sports Health CareJanuary/February 2018 issue's social media Twitter engagement was approximately 85% members of the public versus 15% identified as a practitioner or scientist. I certainly found this surprising because I hypothesized it would skew in the opposite direction, with a majority of retweets coming from scientists! Clearly it is not just other researchers reading your work in the journal!

The one issue with social media is its impulsivity and fleeting nature, which certainly has an impact on research dissemination. As you can imagine, the influence of social media for research circulation is primarily limited to the initial date of online publication, with the highest social media impact occurring within the first 30 days of online release.4 However, a recent investigation has found that the amount of social media impact (retweets and online engagement) an article has in the first 3 days is highly correlated to citation counts!4

Although it is difficult to condense all you want to say to the world about your study into 140 to 280 characters, make sure it is attention grabbing, include a link to the article, and tweet early and often. The lesson learned is the more reach you can have with your article, the more influence your scientific information can have on both the lay population and the scientific and clinical communities!


    1. Shearer E, Gottfried J. News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017. Accessed May 15, 2018.
    1. Del Vicario M, Bessi A, Zollo F, et al. The spreading of misinformation online. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016;113:554–559. doi:10.1073/pnas.1517441113 [CrossRef]
    1. MacNamara A, Collins D. Twitterati and Paperati: evidence versus popular opinion in science communication. Br J Sports Med. 2015;49:1227–1228. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-094884 [CrossRef]
  1. Eysenbach G. Can tweets predict citations? Metrics of social impact based on Twitter and correlation with traditional metrics of scientific impact. J Medical Internet Res. 2011;13:e123. doi:10.2196/jmir.2012 [CrossRef]

From the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska.

The author has no financial or proprietary interest in the materials presented herein.

Correspondence: Adam B. Rosen, PhD, ATC, University of Nebraska at Omaha, 6001 Dodge Street, 207Y H&K Builiding, Omaha, NE 68182. E-mail:
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Physicians Must Meet Patients Where They Are, on Social Media 

Physicians Must Meet Patients Where They Are, on Social Media  | Social Media and Healthcare |

It is rare to see evidence-based physicians with significant followings across social media, and that kind of doctor shortage is posing a serious risk to patients’ health.

A new survey from the American Osteopathic Association found that expanding physician voices into social media is not only desired by patients, but should also be encouraged by the industry. Not surprisingly, the absence of qualified healthcare voices online has led to misinformation that confuses, and at times even harms, patients.

Generally, the discussion on the relationship between social media and health concentrates on the negative consequences of using social networks. A simple web search of “social media and health” brings up a barrage of articles tying social media use to everything from anxiety to addiction to suicide. While the examination of these topics is critical and overuse is a concern, this is not where the conversation should end.



As a practicing family medicine physician with a social media reach of over 5 million followers, I can attest to the missed benefits and true harms that come from a scarcity of physicians publishing on social media. To understand the magnitude of the issue, we have to look at some research.

People naturally seek information via the internet. In fact, eight out of 10 Internet users seek health information online, among whom 74% use social media. With almost one-half of the world’s population logged on, that is an incredible demand for health information.

Not only do a sizable majority of people search the web to learn more about their health, it appears that they are using that information to make tangible changes. Nearly one-third of Americans (32%) have taken an action related to their health as a result of social media. That’s a dangerous reality considering the number of unqualified sources with loud voices.

Too often, I find my patients obsessing over “miracle” weight-loss supplements or following the latest celebrity crash diet. These are dangerous ploys that can derail a patient from healthier—more substantiated—plans of action.



Social media has given us the relatively untapped potential to positively influence billions of people by battling this misinformation. While it might seem like a nebulous and onerous task, there are two aspects to the fight.

First, on the battlefield itself, physicians can proactively combat the spread of false science by publishing evidence-based information on social media. Second, in our offices, we must talk with patients about information they’ve uncovered online. Exerting influence is an integral part of being a competent physician, so it is only right that we expand this influence into the social media realm.

While I advocate for physicians to embrace social media and connect with patients and non-patients alike, I do not believe social media is a medium for direct medical care. Advising on a patient’s individual condition is very different from discussing that condition in general. This is a thin line that must be continually readdressed, but it is certainly not one that should discourage dedicated physicians from disseminating valuable information. Without qualified physicians, the gap is instead filled by anxiety-inducing, often un-validated sources of information.



I used to consider the absence of quality physicians online merely a problem of missed opportunity. Now I’ve realized it is much more than that.

If misinformation has the power to call in to question the validity of something as grand as an American presidential election, it certainly has the power to influence our patients’ everyday health decisions. The healthcare industry as a whole needs to advocate for more education and focus on this burgeoning global communication platform.


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How Hospitals Can Manage Patient Surges Using Social Media -

How Hospitals Can Manage Patient Surges Using Social Media - | Social Media and Healthcare |

Before hospitals triage patients, they triage information to ensure they have the right resources in place to provide the highest standard of care. All hospitals, especially hospital networks, rely heavily on their information-gathering teams to equip staff with the most accurate information to best do their jobs. This is essential in any operation, but when it comes to the hospital and healthcare industry, responding quickly and effectively can be the difference between life and death.

Hospitals must do this to stay ahead of breaking incidents so they aren’t caught flat-footed when ambulances deliver patients to their door. Hospital dispatch teams need to know about every variable of an incident, both large and small. They need to know about the water main break down the road affecting traffic to and from their facility. They need to know about a car accident sending three patients to the ER. And they need to know about mass casualty incidents bringing a large number of critically injured victims to their facilities. To stay informed, dispatch teams process various information streams, including those from police and fire departments, scanner traffic and news organizations.

The volume of information, however, can be staggering, especially in times of unforeseen events, which can produce an influx of fragmented and sometimes contradictory information. Making matters worse, traditional information streams often are delayed, even more so when incidents are unfolding. Such delays routinely impede patient care as hospital staff rush to have the proper facilities and manpower ready after they assess an individual on site.

The solution is real-time information, which gives dispatch teams an understanding of incidents as they happen, instead of after they happen.

Social Media Streams Real-Time Information

Modern life is punctuated by social media. People report their lives online every moment, including events that impact hospitals. Today, when people see something, they post about it on public platforms, sometimes before even calling 911. Given this immediacy, social media can serve as a crucial dataset for hospital dispatch teams. It can provide indications of unforeseen events so they can begin information gathering sooner.

However, an early warning is only the first step. Getting the full picture is just as important. Images and video posted online, alongside social media users’ descriptions, provide dispatch teams with eyewitness accounts and enables them to have a more detailed understanding of a situation. This helps hospitals be proactive instead of reactive while preparing for the arrival of those injured.

Likewise, emergency management teams must use real-time information. While the hospital dispatch team keeps them informed of breaking events, inevitably, there are gaps in communication. By utilizing publicly available social media data, emergency management professionals can ensure they are never caught off guard by questions from key stakeholders or new developments that impact resource allocation. They need the most up-to-date knowledge in order to decide what information is needed by the various departments to keep the healthcare facility operating smoothly.

How Hospitals Can Use Real-Time Social Media Data

To understand how real-time social media data can lead to better patient care, consider how hospitals respond to mass shootings. A recent example is the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting where, on Oct. 2, a gunman opened fire from his hotel room at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip, killing 59 people and injuring more than 500 others. The scene was chaotic and the information that local hospitals were receiving was wildly disparate. For the staff at the University Medical Center Southern Nevada, the true scale of the event was initially unknown.

Deborah Kuhls, medical director for UMC’s trauma intensive care unit, told Healthcare Finance News that their first reports said five to 10 patients were en route to their trauma center. However, later reports stated that 50 to 100 patients were coming.

When mass shootings and other mass casualty events happen, local hospitals must make space in their trauma centers for a surge in patients. Getting real-time data on these incidents helps healthcare facilities prepare for these surges.

The information changed drastically, and it impacted how the hospital needed to prepare. Responding to mass shootings like this one requires that hospitals make space in their trauma centers for patient surges. It requires them to page doctors and prepare operating rooms. Information derived from social media gave a clearer grasp of the Las Vegas shooting during the initial response.

Immediately following the first gunshots, people took to social media reporting their experience. They posted images and video, all of which offered grim insight into the scale of the attack. For healthcare emergency management professionals, this real-time social media information would have immediately told them to expect more than 10 patients. This context is critical for emergency management teams, but it should also be noted that information posted publicly on social media is frequently the first indication that an incident is in progress.

For example, Dataminr, a company that delivers real-time alerts about breaking events derived from publicly available data, sent their first notification about the Las Vegas shooting 22 minutes ahead of major news outlets. Such a significant advantage has the potential to reduce response times, which leads to better patient care.

Identify Small Issues Before They Become Big

Social media not only aids hospital preparedness in these large-scale events, it also helps them learn of minor incidents that can impede hospital operations in a major way. For example, any issue impacting mass transit can have cascading effects throughout a hospital. Such transportation delays can affect staff’s ability to get to work or cause a mass casualty incident if not resolved quickly.

For example, in June 2017, a subway train in New York City was stalled without power for 45 minutes. It was a hot summer day and the cars quickly became overheated without air conditioning. Some riders panicked when they were unable to pry open doors or windows to circulate air. What started as a minor event became dire as the temperature rose inside the train cars. This event had the potential to send a significant amount of passengers to hospitals due to the psychological and physical strains it caused, but learning of the situation early or understanding the conditions riders were enduring would be a challenge for hospitals using only traditional information streams.

Public social media posts from stranded riders, many of them accompanied by photos and videos, documented the severity of the situation. Had this event escalated further, hospitals could have used this ground-level knowledge to ready their staff and facilities so they would be prepared to treat patients suffering from heat-related maladies or emotional distress. Traditional information streams were unlikely to notify hospitals of this transit malfunction in a timely manner or offer a sense of the potentially serious health effects for riders.

Similarly, this past March, a Nor’easter dumped two feet of snow on northern New Jersey. The storm caused serious backups on highways, including on Route 280 where 500 cars were stuck for hours. Authorities used snowmobiles to check on those trapped who were susceptible to the cold and at risk of dehydration. Fortunately, roadways were cleared before anyone suffered serious health consequences, but the storm also contributed to 506 vehicle accidents. Once more, real-time social media posts reported everything from car crashes to the plights of those stuck in cars, giving hospitals added visibility into the effects of the storm.

In addition to aiding response, incorporating social media into a healthcare organization’s emergency plans can help with CMS compliance. Last November, new CMS guidelines for hospitals were issued. The updates require more explicit planning for natural disasters and other emergencies, and increased coordination with local, state, and federal authorities. The changes aim to help hospitals “better anticipate and plan for needs, rapidly respond as a facility, as well as integrate with local public health and emergency management agencies.” By incorporating social media data into emergency preparedness plans, healthcare facilities can work towards meeting these new CMS guidelines and improve their monitoring of ongoing emergencies.

Real-Time Information Can Improve General Hospital Operations

Beyond the needs of emergency management teams, real-time social media information can similarly aid in the operations for both hospital security and administration. Security, for example, must maintain awareness of everything from a gas leak in the vicinity to crime nearby that requires security guards to be on high alert. Hospital administration can use social media to help ensure patient privacy, especially when VIPs are being treated and they need to protect against information leaks online. More generally, hospital administrators and C-suites can use social media to maintain a high level of awareness of events impacting their facilities, staff and operations. Such awareness can allow administration professionals to stay on top of any personnel issues, public grievances or lapses in service that may adversely affect the hospital’s reputation.

Even communications teams can benefit from real-time data by helping them protect their organization’s brand. They need to stay abreast of how their hospitals are discussed online so they can mitigate potential PR problems. If inaccurate information is circulating, they need to correct the record immediately. If there are patient or staff complaints online, they need to address these issues before they gain traction or press attention. Conversely, positive social media posts should be shared and commented on quickly to build brand awareness for the facility.

Lastly, communications teams need real-time information to inform their messaging to journalists. Reporters are known for their savvy use of social media to get a jump on stories. Communications teams do not want to find out about an issue when they’re being asked to comment on it by a journalist. They need to operate like the media so they can stay ahead of the story.

How Can We Find a Needle in the Haystack?

Clearly, real-time public social media data can be extremely valuable, but social media is a vast dataset full of extraneous and irrelevant information as well. In order to make use of social media information, hospitals need a platform that combines artificial intelligence and machine-learning to separate the signals from the noise so they can extract the right information instantly. Social media alerts should not require keyword searches or be time-consuming to use. They should be proactive and customizable based on location, topic and priority level, making them valuable across hospital functions. Furthermore, integrating social media data should fit seamlessly into current hospital operations. No changes to staffing or physical infrastructure should be necessary, thus allowing requisite team members access to this information through the existing technological frameworks.

Considered together, what emerges is a portrait of how essential real-time information is to hospital efficiency. Gone are the days when social media was viewed merely as an avenue for selfies, likes and shares. Instead, it has become a singular and immediate dataset, one that, when properly utilized, can allow for the clearest understanding and the fastest response times. As the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Stated differently, it is better to be proactive than reactive. To achieve this, it is essential that hospitals operate with real-time information. It is the only way to stay apprised of breaking events, provide the best patient care and, ultimately, save lives.

Ed Monan is Dataminr’s Director of Corporate Security Sales

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Countering fake medical news on social media a challenge

Countering fake medical news on social media a challenge | Social Media and Healthcare |

Wide reach of messaging platforms a problem

Media reports over the last couple of years indicate that fake news on WhatsApp has claimed about 25 lives in the country, Jinesh P.S., a health activist, has said. But he is unsure of the number of lives lost or are under threat due to completely baseless information on health issues that get passed on as authentic news on the personalised messaging platform.

Co-founder and administrator of the Facebook group, Info Clinic, Dr. Jinesh said there was no accounting for how forwarded ‘health’ messages made people discontinue their regular medication and take unauthenticated health tips masquerading as alternative or traditional medicine.

While his group tried to give answers to a number of queries that landed directly on their page, the reach of the WhatsApp messaging platform was far greater, he said.

The main aim of fake news creators is to attack modern medicine. Diseases such as cancer, psoriasis, cardiac ailments, diabetes and hypertension are among some of targeted diseases, for which modern medicine has evolved management techniques rather than sure-cure treatment methods.

Unvalidated and fake health messages had far-reaching consequences, said Hemant Radhakrishnan, the managing director of Anvita Tours2Health, an internet platform that tries to bridge the gap between patients and doctors. Most people are not inclined to even consider validating the authenticity of the information. The nuisance of fake messaging was that it kept circulating over the years, he added.

On the part of the government, an Arogya Jagrata programme has been launched to provide information through house visits. The State government had faced a tough time while implementing the measles-rubella (MR) vaccination programme last year.

District Collector K. Mohammed Y. Safirulla told The Hindu that the challenges of contradictory news against the vaccination drive on social media were taken up at various levels. While the government had to register cases against some people for spreading news against vaccination, the hard part was to convince people about the good effects of vaccination.

“We cannot stifle opposition in a democratic set-up, so we had to approach the opposition with data and evidence,” said Mr. Safirulla.

Neurosurgeon B. Ekbal, former Vice Chancellor of Kerala University and noted health activist, said he considered social media a good platform to run health campaigns. There were several young doctors utilising the platforms to run rational health campaigns, he said.

Tashanna T's curator insight, August 13, 1:56 PM
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What would happen if medical and social data benefited from the same protection?

What would happen if medical and social data benefited from the same protection? | Social Media and Healthcare |

When we think of any activity related to transhumanism, we can rely on the idea that it’s because we want to enhance the functioning performance of our bodies. Bodies is written in plural, here, because there are many possibilities to “wear a body” (from physical disabilities to transexualism; from accidental events to personal choices). We can even see our personal decisions as if they were merely the result of a condensed amount of information that circulate through our organs: spatial recognition through the sense of vision, data transmission though speech, data storage and accurate data recall using a memory system, and many other things that should help our living being to thrive in this world. But this version of our human condition has also a lot to do with our possibility to stay healthy. Which means that our ability to maintain the good functioning of our organism is to help it survive or succeed in life. In summary, our medical condition can improve our social activity.

However, our actual world is not made of a fantastic humanoid species that wouldn’t even need to sleep nor eat to maintain its level of energy balanced. Actual humans have vulnerabilities and especially moral tendencies. When we are part of a community, we tend to appreciate the sense of dignity that circulates among our peers. We tend to learn to respect each other in order to maintain our sense of self and integrity. So, what would happen if there wouldn’t be any more border between our social activity and our medical condition? How would it be if our social activity could predict our medical situation?

Actually, what is our situation about social and medical data? Apparently there’s a gap between the two. The difference is that medical records is under the protection of the law and confidentiality. Personal information such as data shared on social media doesn’t have that much secrecy. While their common enemy remains the same: public exposure. Some persons are comfortable sharing their medical condition to others, but the status of their medical records doesn’t change, it is still legally protected. On the other side, some people don’t necessarily feel as easy even with their personal information they share online through social medias. What is the purpose of keeping data protected or private, then?

In fact, the purpose of keeping medical data classified and private is because of their vulnerabilities to abuse. Medical data is one of the highest vulnerable information. The amount of sensitivity of a medical record is kept under protection because of the amount of harm it could cause if it were divulged easily. The public announcement of a medical problem can cause other persons to see the ill one with a different eye or to take advantage of the illness. The consequences of this knowledge could be more or less lethal and could cause some intolerant treatment within the workplace. This protection supposes that someone shouldn’t be discriminated by their medical condition.

But what about social data, the information that we consensually share to each other about our own moral features sometimes? What’s the difference and should there be any? One of the difference between the two sets of personal data is that medical data are mostly pieces of information collected and registered by healthcare professionals. However, both social and medical data are pieces of personal information that can be as much jeopardizing for one single person. Let’s think of moral harassment and especially blackmailing, for example, where someone can have his or her reputation threatened just because of some digital profiling realized online! Since the case with Cambridge Analytica, it now seems acceptable to realize some psychological profiling, apparently.

So, what would happen if one person’s medical record could be attached to his or her social data shared online? Well, let’s see. First, when some piece of medical data is registered in a data base, it is supposed to be done under the control of certified professionals from the healthcare system. However, when it comes to mental illness, the diagnosis can be a bit obscure. In this case, when it comes to mental illness, it can happen that some professionals can disagree on the diagnosis. So, it is possible, in the mental health care system just as much as the other healthcare centers, to have different outcomes. We may have three possible outcomes: an agreed diagnosis that can be then treated alongside the DMS-V suggestions, or a diagnosis that doesn’t fit the experience of the professionals who got charge of the illness (in this case this means the patient got to meet different practitioners), or there’s the case where some professionals completely disagree on the definition of a mental health issue yet found by some other colleagues (which also implies the consultation of several doctors). The problem of these uncertainties is the potential of false positiveBecause these disagreements can happen among humans, why it wouldn’t happen with a machine?

Why was this precision needed about our topic regarding social data versus medical data? Because if we get to live in a world that combines the two of them, there will be circumstances that would potentially add mental health issues along the analysis of the social data, and there might be catastrophic consequences. In a few years it will definitively be easy to find any recorded human on at least one social network. Imagine, in fact, if we could relate the medical records of one single person to his personal information shared online though social media? The idea is not new, and social surveillance is already in place by the government in order to prevent terrorist acts, so the globalization of the practice might be on its way. What can we do about it now?

Let’s think about it, then. And that’s what I want to do here, because the potential of analysis that we have today have attained such amount of performance that it would only be a question of ethics not to automatically combine the two. The algorithms we create today are able to optimize themselves, which means that they would be able to decide their own standards and set their own limits by themselves as well. Which also means that it’s just a question of time before our mental health care system will exclusively rely on some automated decisions.


Google efforts to create a machine learning and augmented reality-powered microscope for real-time detection of cancer, helping to make pathologists more efficient and ultimately to save patient lives.

The amount of data collected today is too enormous to be denied or taken aside. We have overstepped our possibilities to regain our privacy entirely, for instance. Our sense of privacy might no longer belong to us after a few years, if we let it be. Our analyzed patterns of behavior will set a persona that is supposed to resemble the shadow that follows us everyday (and the potential of data analysts with a psychology background for working on virtual profiling will hold a certain place in that kind of practice!). The difference with the real world is that our actual shadow only follows us until we are dead, while a ghost that holds our data will probably live forever, for the sake of keeping the future of automated decisions much more accurate over time. Because more data an artificial intelligence owns, better it will be for them to create patterns of recognition, and we are not just born from pollen spread in the nature, we are born with a history. Which means that our history has a history! The first history that follows us is our family. Our family have their own ghosts, each member of the family has their personal shadow that will follow them until they die. And as said previously, more the machine is fed with data, more accurate its decisions will be…

What’s the problem about medical data combined with social data here? What should it matter that they share the same legal status? As we know, the amount of performance of our actual algorithms is able to predict unhealthy patterns with faster precisions than any human could do accurately. The percentage of validity of those predictions are getting higher and higher over time. This means that the algorithms of the future will find unhealthy patterns within a body with a disarming facility. Will it get as accurate when it comes to mental diagnosis though? Will this facility allows these algorithms to open a new market? Will our medical data gain a new capitalistic value? If no, why not? If yes, for what purpose? What would be the purpose of capitalizing on such accurate predictions?

Facebook once tried to find patterns of depression among its users in order to provide them some help, especially when it comes to suicide. What if there were paid advertisements that were related to those activities of prediction (especially when the health care system is private)? What if the social network earned some of its money from these predictive algorithms concerning suicide? Any social media that claims to care for their user the way Facebook did can be very interested in optimizing this type of algorithms. Which means that working on the optimization of predictive analytics is the beginning of a new era: the one that can capitalize on vulnerabilities. Where would we go if our virtual behaviors were scanned to the point that it would benefit some services which would be able to provide parents some moral comfort about their kids: the fact that some engineers and designers would work on building the predictive algorithms just so some parents would feel less worried about their children having a depressive crisis, because the machine would be able to warn them before their own kids would realize how suicidal or depressive they are? It doesn’t sound as alarming, stated that way, but it’s one of the example that can state that medical records can be capitalized, as no physical diagnosis can be realized through social media.

So here’s my question, after all: what would happen if medical & social data shared the same legal status, finally? Who would benefit from a locked system that protects personal information? Maybe not a system that want to capitalize on medical issues. Why? Because if we dig into the dystopia, what if the argument that goes along with this monetization was claiming that some mental health issues could be potentially harmful for the society and that it would then become necessary to have some kind of “legitimate” control? Who will decide what is harmful? What could be the consequences of analyzing personal information shared voluntary on social networks as if they were potential prediction related to mental health issues? Who will set the diagnosis? How will the machine recognize what is actually a mental illness? From which experience? So, how to add the ethics that can or should regulate that kind of artificial diagnosis?

In my article here, the main question is why social data couldn’t benefit from the same protection than medical data if our future tendencies are to realize some profiling that might overstep on issues related to mental illness? Because there might be problems related to confidentiality and especially on accuracy. Let’s dig into it, because transhumanism is probably the movement who would be the most interested about the combination!

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Pharma is Ready to be ‘Human’ in Social Media – and how I got blocked by Twitter!

Pharma is Ready to be ‘Human’ in Social Media – and how I got blocked by Twitter! | Social Media and Healthcare |

It would be an exaggeration to say we are already surrounded by brilliant examples of pharma using social media to meet patients’ needs. But at the international Pharma Social Media Conference last week in London, I could see that on the horizon.

This year’s conference had a hungry buzz about it, with our colleagues in pharma really wanting to grapple with the question of ‘how’ to engage with patients, rather than just, ‘Should we?’. Much like at eyeforpharma, the mix was filled with crucial ‘newer’ partners such as biotech and medical device firms. Collaboration, the key to pharma’s future, is now a given.

Co-creation with patients is the norm at Kanga. When I shared some examples in my talk (such as the MyFeelPlus app for prostate cancer patients), it sparked some great discussions – rather than merely the fear of regulatory constraints.

Leo Innovation Lab was created to put patients first and deliver digital solutions for patients, independent of Leo pharma and their products. Morten Remmer described how they built a community for Psoriasis patients to allow them to have a private discussion, as they often don’t want to share problems in front of loved ones in social media. Later, Maria de Freitas from the same organisation showcased an app that helps psoriasis patients track their condition:

Pharma delegates told us that they want to meet patients and doctors on their own terms. They are ready to get down to the ‘nitty gritty’ of governance issues. As Serli Çubukçu of Sanofi pointed out, we are all ‘prosumers’ now. We understand from our own experience the irrelevance of firms absent from social media. ‘No-one has 30 seconds for interruption, but we all have 30 minutes for stuff we like!’

Real, Relevant, Respect, Respond: the four Rs of social media that I outlined in my talk. Speakers gave solid presentations that touched on all of these. In a helpful case study, Sarah Holiday of Pfizer shared their strategy for congress tweeting for HCPs. Each team runs their own congress through the central @pfizercongress account. This makes the account a hub for SM-active doctors, while the posting is still done by teams with the most relevant knowledge.

Alex Saunders provided insight into GSK’s social media approach, noting that ‘the content has to be brilliant or we’re wasting our time’. He explained their aim of combining journalistic editorial leadership with a culture of creativity and an ‘outside-in’ mentality.

His presentation recognised that the most crucial information must be gleaned from those we are trying to engage with.  It’s refreshing to hear a presentation like this. It signals the sea-change in big pharma that can help patients the most – and, in turn, ensure the industry’s successful evolution.

There was discussion of the potential of LinkedIn, with an insightful talk from Cyril Mandry from MSD. He outlined the business opportunities of the channel for pharma:

Of course, LinkedIn does not allow drug promotion, including to HCPs. Engagement must take a different form and signpost to other assets. LinkedIn is an increasingly versatile channel. Its scope for connecting pharma with HCPs is considerable.

Facebook is a vital tool for engaging patients.  Maria outlined her top tips for getting the most out of it, in particular using FB’s Business Manager to run projects, which offers insights and functionality not available to an ordinary FB user.

I noted in my presentation that when Ipsen’s LivingwithNETs (developed by Kanga, co-created with patients) won the eyeforpharma award this year, Ipsen’s share price saw a notable increase. Delegates told me afterwards that this fact had helped to confirm what they already knew: that the winners in our industry are winning because of their close attention to patients’ needs.

I also learned the hard way how many times you can tweet in a day before Twitter thinks you are a bot and blocks you! – It’s around 100. My tweet behaviour probably also pushed the ‘regularity’ button – I was tweeting at a consistent rate as I do at all conferences. I had to ask for an ‘unlock’:

The conference chair commented I was ‘tweeting like a millennial’ (must tell my millennial children � ) But on a more serious note, we were surprised that only a few delegates were tweeting or using any SM to share conference content. Cyril pointed out that companies with socially-engaged employees perform better in SM, and Jannick Larsen of Teva encouraged everyone to ‘become a thought leader’ on SM and share great content.

We must all become participants in order to learn how to implement the key theme that emerged from the conference: Being human, treating people right in social media, is where patient, healthcare professional and business value are delivered.

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How to Promote Your Medical Practice Online

How to Promote Your Medical Practice Online | Social Media and Healthcare |

You’ve built an amazing medical practice. Now, you just need patients. You know you can increase your patient totals with online marketing, but how do you accomplish that? Get the details on how to build and monitor your online presence. Then, you’ll be able to increase your patient base.

How to Promote Your Medical Practice on Social Media

Promoting your medical practice on social media isn’t difficult if you follow a formula. The first ingredient is a consistent voice. The same person might not run your social mediacampaigns on a daily basis, but the voice needs to remain consistent.

Next, use scheduling tools to send your posts out around the same time every day. People will come to expect your posts.

You should keep those posts short, and don’t include any jargon. Remember, most of your audience doesn’t have a medical degree, so don’t use advanced medical terminology.

You also need to have some variety with your posts. Use most posts to promote what you have to offer, but mix in some other posts, as well. Talk about the local community and post about your community service. You can even highlight different members of your team to increase engagement.

How to Convert Your Medical Website Visitors into Patients

Social media will help you get people to your website, but how do you convert them to patients? First, make sure you’re marketing to the right people. Use location-specific keywords to attract people in your niche.

Then, make sure you have an organized website that includes all the important information, such as the name and location of your practice, your specialty, and your hours.

You also need to include patient testimonials on your website. Have a system in place to ask patients for reviews and display them prominently on your site.

In addition, an online appointment request form is a must. People are more likely to turn into patients if they can request an appointment right there on the website. You should place the practice phone number at the top of the website, highly visible, and make it “click to call” since almost half of visitors to your website will be on a mobile device.

You also need an active blog to convert people. Blogs allow you to highlight your expertise, and you can include a call to action at the end of each one to boost your conversion rates.

Length of Content and Website Rank

Simply having a blog isn’t enough. You need to write long-form posts to improve your site’s ranking in the search engines. As much as you might want to post 300-word articles, longer posts will help your site move up in the rankings.

Backlinko analyzed 1 million Google search results and noticed that, on average, first-page results have 1,890 words.

The reason for this is pretty simple. Google prefers content that is helpful, and it’s hard to get too detailed in a 300-word blog post. If you get close to 2,000 words, though, it’s likely that you’re providing some valuable information. Thus, Google moves your site up in the results.

That doesn’t mean you have to write 2,000 words on a daily basis. Make sure you upload at least one long-form piece of content a month, though. That’ll keep your site in good graces with the search engines.

The Impact of Google Reviews on Reputation and Ranking

Reviews play a key role in your practice’s reputation and search engine ranking. In regards to reputation, 84 percent of online consumers trust reviews as much as they trust recommendations from their friends. If your practice has bad reviews, people will automatically form a negative opinion of you. Your reputation will take a huge hit, and you won’t get many new appointments.

It’s not just about your reputation, either. It’s about people’s ability to find you in the search results. According to Moz, “Review Signals” make up 13 percent of your site’s local Google ranking. That’s great news if you have good reviews, but if you don’t, you will be in trouble.

Your website isn’t the only virtual real estate at risk. Your local listing can also get buried in Google if you have bad reviews.

Steps to Auditing a Doctor’s Reputation Online

There is a good chance that you are not aware of what type of reputation you have online. It might be spectacular, or it could leave something to be desired. You need to do a reputation audit to find out what people are saying about you on the internet.

Open a web browser and set it to private browsing mode. That way, the search listings will be unbiased. Type in your name and go through the first few pages.

You should also conduct a search on social media and online review sites. You need to go everywhere your patients go to fully understand what your online reputation is.

After you conduct your initial audit, consider using software that provides real-time monitoring. That way, you will get an alert every time you’re mentioned online.

Build Your Reputation and Reach More Patients

Online marketing and reputation management go hand in hand. If you’re going to succeed at one, you must succeed at the other. Build a strong online marketing campaign, and then audit your reputation. Keep a positive reputation online, so you can convert your traffic into patients.

JENNIFER's comment, August 6, 2:33 AM
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Online Physician Directory Best Practices

Online Physician Directory Best Practices | Social Media and Healthcare |

As a healthcare marketer, you've just logged into a local or healthcare directory site, where consumers browse for physicians who practice nearby. On your desk sits a great pile of research about your doctor's career and capabilities. On your screen, a collection of “new entry" text boxes stares back at you, waiting for inspiration to strike.

Now what? Just inserting a name, specialty, and phone number won't differentiate your provider from dozens of competing entries on the same site. How do you prioritize the details of an entire medical career into a few compelling paragraphs — or even sentences — that attract the interest of consumers looking for a new doctor?

Because healthcare consumers are looking, and they are looking online. One out of three consumers are “in the market" for a new doctor or healthcare center and 25% of them find one via online research, according to a survey by Valassis Communications.

So what, exactly, do prospective patients want to see when they study those listings? For insight into their thinking, we analyzed data from several recent consumer surveys, plus the “how to choose a doctor" web pages of top influencers.

For most people, the provider's level of expertise is top priority. 84% cited “a physician's knowledge and abilities" as “extremely" or “very" influential in deciding whether to keep their current doctor or switch to another one, according to a survey of 488 “everyday healthcare consumers" by the staffing agency Weatherby Healthcare.

This may prove even more important when seeking out a specialist, who often works with complex or difficult cases. In fact, board certifications for specialist pop up frequently as a desired criteria. Consumer Reports recommends that its readers visit the American Board of Medical Specialties' website Certification Matters to see if a particular doctor has the right credentials.

Listing Tip: Save your potential customers a trip to another website — and keep them focused on your message — by including any relevant certifications right on the directory page.

No matter how strong the reputation, customers need to know if they can afford to see the doctor in the first place. More than half — 51% — cited in-network availability as “critical" and 27% as “very important" in the Weatherby survey. A closely related factor, out-of-pocket costs, came in at 34% critical and 41% important.

Listing Tip: Don't just list the doctor's insurance affiliations. Also promote any available discount programs, payment options, or other financial tools for budget-conscious consumers.

Soft Factors
Intangible qualities as age, gender, and bedside manner can also move the needle for some consumers.

For instance, 23% of women “strongly prefer" a female doctor, according to Weatherby. For men, however, only 9% felt the same about male doctors.

The data on attitudes toward age are inconclusive and appear to vary by specialty. Midwest Orthopedics reports that 63% preferred a surgeon who is no older than 65, possibly due to concerns about the deteriorating surgical skills of elderly doctors. On the other hand, Aesthetic Surgery Journal lists surgeon age as one of the least important criteria. Consumers closely link age with experience, according to Weatherby.

Midwest Orthopedics prioritized “friendliness and bedside manner" just below insurance, with “appearance/atmosphere of clinic facilities" not far behind. One out of four are likely to switch primary care physicians if they find a new one with “a more positive attitude," according to Weatherby.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield goes so far as to suggest that customers hold a “face-to-face meeting" to see if they feel comfortable with the doctor and staff. You can help build a personal connection before that first visit by creating more engaging physician bios.

Aside from promoting individual providers, also highlight the setting. Of Weatherby respondents, 18% cited the office's, practice's, or healthcare facility's capabilities as critical, with 43% calling it important.

Most people don't want to drive more than 30 minutes to visit a provider. Weatherby respondents noted “convenient location" at 23% critical and 48% important. WebMD even recommends checking the availability of parking or public transportation.

Listing Tip: Does your doctor have lab, imaging, or other equipment assets on-site or within a short distance of the office? Note the most important ones, including any state-of-the-art equipment.

Bottom Line
No two doctors, directory sites, or healthcare consumers are exactly alike. Middle-aged stockbrokers seeking a highly trained specialist will browse differently from young parents in the market for a family practice physician. Use your patient data to prioritize the specific criteria and develop the individualized content that will turn your listings into a goldmine of new customers.

And after you've done the hard work of making your offsite listings as compelling and engaging as possible, make sure your efforts aren't going to waste by enlisting a directory listings management solution to help you manage updates, address changes, and more. And be sure to include all this valued information on your own website and provider directories, along with consumer-generated content like provider reviews, which can help you earn more credibility and visibility online.

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Why An Upgraded Hippocratic Oath Is Needed In The Digital Era

Why An Upgraded Hippocratic Oath Is Needed In The Digital Era | Social Media and Healthcare |

The Hippocratic Oath is the most famous text in Western medicine and constitutes the ethical basis of the medical profession. For centuries, it has provided an overview of the principles of this noble mission and doctors’ professional behavior. At the dawn of a new era in medicine, it is high time to rewrite the Oath so that it would reflect the state of technological development, changes in social structures and in general, the requirements of the 21st century.

The Hippocratic Oath in historical perspective

The medical profession adopted the Oath of Hippocrates as its ethical code of conduct centuries ago, but it’s still being used today by many medical schools at graduation ceremonies. That’s not mere chance. The text articulates perfectly what the noble profession of being a doctor entails and in a compact overview takes a side in every major ethical issue a physician might encounter during their career.

Only a few know that although the oath bears the name of Hippocrates, the well-known Greek physician, there is no evidence that he wrote it. It is claimed that the document was created 100 years after his death. Some 2500 years ago.

Rachel Hajar in her study on the historical perspectives of medical oaths says that in 1500, a German medical school (University of Wittenberg) incorporated taking the oath for its graduating medical students. However, it was not until the 1700s, when the document was translated into English that Western medical schools began regularly incorporating it in convocations. In 1948, it was adopted by the World Medical Association (WMA) based in Geneva, and in 1964, what’s called the Declaration of Geneva. Numerous medical schools use this version of the Oath every since. Later, the text was rewritten by Louis Lasagna (the then Dean of the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts, USA) and this version was adopted by many medical schools in the USA.

Source: Does the Oath have any significance today?

It seems it still does. Although not every medical student is required to take the Hippocratic Oath or any kind of oath for that matter, and no one is legally bound by the text, the majority of physicians believe the Oath still has relevance today – although it cannot reflect on many contemporary issues and possesses ambiguous, troubling passages.

In 2016, Medscape created a poll to measure opinions about the relevance of Hippocrates’ famous pledge. Total responses to the survey numbered 2674 physicians plus 134 medical students. Reactions were deeply polarized, and age was a decisive factor. Those under age 34, 39% said it was significant, compared with 70% of those 65 and older.

Still, statistics show that the majority of medical schools incorporate some kind of oath, in numerous cases the Hippocratic Oath into a ceremonial event. Thus it is essential for schools to give ethical guidance to medical students. But the Hippocratic Oath is in many cases changed to something else as it cannot offer young people the pieces of advice they need in the modern world.


Here, we suggest some changes to the original Hippocratic Oath to better reflect the 21st century.

The principles of the Hippocratic Oath -renewed 1) Patient inclusion

A passage of the Oath reads as follows, I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

However, where are the medical researchers, the nurses or the patients? The scientific community does not only consist of physicians. Thus it would be great to include more players in the field, also symbolically. By now, doctors are not the sole repositories of medical knowledge, and the ivory tower of medicine is crumbling under the weight of the digital sphere, social media, empowered patients or the DIY movement. The Hippocratic Oath should reflect that.

Source: 2) Healthcare must shift from treatment to prevention

Another section says that I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

However, with the recent advances in precision medicine as well as the appearance of preventive health, physicians should not only tend to those who already have symptoms and need treatment but advise the healthy how to stay fit and well. The appearance of health sensors, wearables, and health apps result in a massive chunk of data, which will help analyze as well as predict trends in the health of individuals and populations. This should be included in the Oath, too so medical professionals could act for the benefit of the healthy and the sick.

Source: 3) Acknowledgment for technologies

The Hippocratic Oath should not get by without the inclusion of technologies anymore. It has to acknowledge the transformative impact that medical technologies have on healthcare – traditional as well as digital solutions. However, like artificial intelligence, robotics, AR/VR, health apps, wearables, sensors, portable diagnostic devices transform healthcare, that will be even more essential.

So, what if the oath said, I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife, the programmer’s algorithm or the chemist’s drug? What if we include “available technologies” into the following passage, so it will read this way: I will help prevent disease whenever I can with my knowledge and available technologies, for prevention is preferable to cure.

Physicians need to acknowledge the raison d’etre of technologies in healing, and one of the means to assume its rightful place in medicine starts with its inclusion into the Hippocratic Oath.




4) Recognition of life-long learning

Not only is it necessary to mention technologies in the Hippocratic Oath, but it’s also critical to be able to use the latest innovations. That also requires openness towards new concepts, ideas or medical devices, which seems to be evident for many physicians, but is not practiced in the medical community as often as it should be. Maybe a kind reminder in the oath could give at least a symbolic boost to life-long learning.

Thus, The Medical Futurist would add the following passage to the oath: I will embrace life-long learning to continually improve my knowledge and skills to be able to use any technologies with scientific evidence for the benefit of my patients.

Source: 5) The inclusion of equal-level partnership

Access to information and technologies is not a privilege of physicians sitting in the ivory tower anymore. Patients also have access to information about drugs, cures, methods online, and with a pinch of digital literacy, anyone can find curated and credible medical data online. It started to shift the hierarchical patient-doctor relationship into a collaborative partnership in the future. The oath has to address the changing social relations within the structure of the medical system, and The Medical Futurist suggests the inclusion of the following:

I will treat my patients in an equal-level partnership, and I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

Source: 6) Addressing privacy concerns

Respecting patients’ privacy is a primary passage in the Oath. However, there is no indication of data privacy anywhere. Sure, there was no need for it 2,000 years ago as Odysseus did not check in to Facebook day after day when heading home to Ithaka, but that’s not the case today.

According to a Stanford Medicine White Paper, 153 exabytes (one exabyte = one billion gigabytes) of healthcare data were produced in 2013, and an estimated 2,314 exabytes will be generated in 2020, translating to an overall rate of increase at least 48 percent annually. The need for safeguarding that amount of information is paramount, so we need to include it in the Oath. How about the following solution?

I will respect the privacy of my patients and their data, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know.


The Medical Futurist strongly believes that it is high time to adjust the Hippocratic Oath to the winds of change, so younger physicians could better relate to its overall principles, and older physicians could take more inspiration to work from it.

The revision of the Hippocratic Oath is part of our From Chance To Choice campaign, which gives information, provide context and design solutions on how to bring down the role of luck in healthcare. We aim to bring it the revised oath to as many medical schools around the world as possible, so reach out to The Medical Futurist on any of our social media channels or at for more details. We can’t wait to hear from you!

JENNIFER's comment, August 6, 2:33 AM
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7 Applications of Machine Learning in Pharma and Medicine

7 Applications of Machine Learning in Pharma and Medicine | Social Media and Healthcare |

When it comes to effectiveness of machine learning, more data almost always yields better results—and the healthcare sector is sitting on a data goldmine. McKinseyestimates that big data and machine learning  in pharma and medicine could generate a value of up to $100B annually, based on better decision-making, optimized innovation, improved efficiency of research/clinical trials, and new tool creation for physicians, consumers, insurers, and regulators.

Where does all this data come from? If we could look at labeled data streams, we might see research and development (R&D); physicians and clinics; patients; caregivers; etc. The array of (at present) disparate origins is part of the issue in synchronizing this information and using it to improve healthcare infrastructure and treatments. Hence, the present-day core issue at the intersection of machine learning and healthcare: finding ways to effectively collect and use lots of different types of data for better analysis, prevention, and treatment of individuals.

Burgeoning applications of ML in pharma and medicine are glimmers of a potential future in which synchronicity of data, analysis, and innovation are an everyday reality. We provide a breakdown of several of these pioneering applications, and provide insight into areas for continued innovation.

Applications of Machine Learning in Pharma and Medicine

1 – Disease Identification/Diagnosis

Disease identification and diagnosis of ailments is at the forefront of ML research in medicine. According to a 2015 report issued by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, more than 800 medicines and vaccines to treat cancer were in trial. In an interview with Bloomberg Technology, Knight Institute Researcher Jeff Tyner stated that while this is exciting, it also presents the challenge of finding ways to work with all the resulting data. “That is where the idea of a biologist working with information scientists and computationalists is so important,” said Tyner.

 It’s no surprise that large players were some of the first to jump on the bandwagon, particularly in high-need areas like cancer identification and treatment. In October 2016, IBM Watson Health announced IBM Watson Genomics, a partnership initiative with Quest Diagnostics, which aims to make strides in precision medicine by integrating cognitive computing and genomic tumor sequencing.

Boston-based biopharma company Berg is using AI to research and develop diagnostics and therapeutic treatments in multiple areas, including oncology. Current research projects underway include dosage trials for intravenous tumor treatment and detection and management of prostate cancer.

Other major examples include Google’s DeepMind Health, which last year announced multiple UK-based partnerships, including with Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, in which they’re developing technology to address macular degeneration in aging eyes.

Image credit: Google DeepMind Health – An OCT scan of one of the DeepMind Health team’s eyes

In the area of brain-based diseases like depression, Oxford’s P1vital® Predicting Response to Depression Treatment (PReDicT) project is using predictive analytics to help diagnose and provide treatment, with the overall goal of producing a commercially-available emotional test battery for use in clinical settings.

2 – Personalized Treatment/Behavioral Modification

Personalized medicine, or more effective treatment based on individual health data paired with predictive analytics, is also a hot research area and closely related to better disease assessment. The domain is presently ruled by supervised learning, which allows physicians to select from more limited sets of diagnoses, for example, or estimate patient risk based on symptoms and genetic information.

IBM Watson Oncology is a leading institution at the forefront of driving change in treatment decisions, using patient medical information and history to optimize the selection of treatment options:

IBM Watson and Memorial Sloan Kettering

Over the next decade, increased use of micro biosensors and devices, as well as mobile apps with more sophisticated health-measurement and remote monitoring capabilities, will provide another deluge of data that can be used to help facilitate R&D and treatment efficacy. This type of personalized treatment has important implications for the individual in terms of health optimization, but also for reducing overall healthcare costs. If more patients adhere to following prescribed medicine or treatment plans, for example, the decrease in health-care costs will trickle up and (hopefully) back down.

Behavioral modification is also an imperative cog in the prevention machine, a notion that Catalia Health’s Cory Kidd talked about in a December interview with TechEmergence. And there are plenty of start-ups popping up in the cancer identification, prevention, and treatment space (for example), with varying degrees of success. A select two from a round-up in Entrepeneur include:

  • Somatix – a data-analytics B2B2C software platform company whose ML-based app uses “recognition of hand-to-mouth gestures in order to help people better understand their behavior and make life-affirming changes”, specifically in smoking cessation.
  • SkinVision – the self-described “skin cancer risk app” makes its claim as “the first and only CE certified online assessment.” Interestingly, we couldn’t find SkinVision in the app store. The first that app that came up under a “SkinVision” Search was DermCheck, in which images are submitted to dermatologists (people, not machines) by phone in exchange for a personalized treatment plan—perhaps a testament to some of the kinks in machine learning-based accuracy at scale that still need to be ironed out.

3 – Drug Discovery/Manufacturing

The use of machine learning in preliminary (early-stage) drug discovery has the potential for various uses, from initial screening of drug compounds to predicted success rate based on biological factors. This includes R&D discovery technologies like next-generation sequencing.

Precision medicine, which involves identifying mechanisms for “multifactorial” diseases and in turn alternative paths for therapy, seems to be the frontier in this space. Much of this research involves unsupervised learning, which is in large part still confined to identifying patterns in data without predictions (the latter is still in the realm of supervised learning).


Image credit: Circulation – A: Matrix representation of the supervised and unsupervised learning problem B: Decision trees map features to outcome. C: Neural networks predict outcome based on transformed representations of features D: The k-nearest neighbor algorithm assigns class based on the values of the most similar training examples

Key players in this domain include the MIT Clinical Machine Learning Group, whose precision medicine research is focused on the development of algorithms to better understand disease processes and design for effective treatment of diseases like Type 2 diabetes. Microsoft’s Project Hanover is using ML technologies in multiple initiatives, including a collaboration with the Knight Cancer Institute to develop AI technology for cancer precision treatment, with a current focus on developing an approach to personalize drug combinations for Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).

Microsoft’s Project Hanover

The UK’s Royal Society also notes that ML in bio-manufacturing for pharmaceuticals is ripe for optimization. Data from experimentation or manufacturing processes have the potential to help pharmaceutical manufacturers reduce the time needed to produce drugs, resulting in lowered costs and improved replication.

4 – Clinical Trial Research

Machine learning has several useful potential applications in helping shape and direct clinical trial research. Applying advanced predictive analytics in identifying candidates for clinical trials could draw on a much wider range of data than at present, including social media and doctor visits, for example, as well as genetic information when looking to target specific populations; this would result in smaller, quicker, and less expensive trials overall.

ML can also be used for remote monitoring and real-time data access for increased safety; for example, monitoring biological and other signals for any sign of harm or death to participants. According to McKinsey, there are many other ML applications for helping increase clinical trial efficiency, including finding best sample sizes for increased efficiency; addressing and adapting to differences in sites for patient recruitment; and using electronic medical records to reduce data errors (duplicate entry, for example).

5 – Radiology and Radiotherapy 

In an October 2016 interview with Stat News, Dr. Ziad Obermeyer, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, stated: “In 20 years, radiologists won’t exist in anywhere near their current form. They might look more like cyborgs: supervising algorithms reading thousands of studies per minute.” Until that day comes, Google’s DeepMind Health is working with University College London Hospital (UCLH) to develop machine learning algorithms capable of detecting differences in healthy and cancerous tissues to help improve radiation treatments.

Image credit: Google DeepMind Health – radiotherapy planning

DeepMind and UCLH are working on applying ML to help speed up the segmentation process (ensuring that no healthy structures are damaged) and increase accuracy in radiotherapy planning.

6 – Smart Electronic Health Records

Document classification (sorting patient queries via email, for example) using support vector machines, and optical character recognition (transforming cursive or other sketched handwriting into digitized characters), are both essential ML-based technologies in helping advance the collection and digitization of electronic health information. MATLAB’s ML handwriting recognition technologies and Google’s Cloud Vision API for optical character recognition are just two examples of innovations in this area:

Artificial Neural Network using MATLAB – Handwritten Character Recognition

The MIT Clinical Machine Learning Group is spearheading the development of next-generation intelligent electronic health records, which will incorporate built-in ML/AI to help with things like diagnostics, clinical decisions, and personalized treatment suggestions. MIT notes on its research site the “need for robust machine learning algorithms that are safe, interpretable, can learn from little labeled training data, understand natural language, and generalize well across medical settings and institutions.”

7 – Epidemic Outbreak Prediction

ML and AI technologies are also being applied to monitoring and predicting epidemic outbreaks around the world, based on data collected from satellites, historical information on the web, real-time social media updates, and other sources. Support vector machines and artificial neural networks have been used, for example, to predict malaria outbreaks, taking into account data such as temperature, average monthly rainfall, total number of positive cases, and other data points.

Predicting outbreak severity is particularly pressing in third-world countries, which often lack medical infrastructure, educational avenues, and access to treatments. ProMED-mail is an internet-based reporting program for monitoring emerging diseases and providing outbreak reports in real-time:

Image credit: Going International

Leveraging ProMED reports and other mined media data, the organization HealthMap uses automated classification and visualization to help monitor and provides alerts for disease outbreaks in any country.

Image credit: CDC — HealthMap report used to track and predict dengue virus outbreaks

Overcoming Obstacles

In the race to apply ML technologies to pharma and medicine, there are major challenges still to be addressed:

  • Data governance is one of the most pressing issues to address at present. Medical data is still personal and not easy to access, and it seems logical to assume that most of the public is wary of releasing data in lieu of data privacy concerns. Interestingly, a March 2016 Wellcome Foundation survey on public attitude in the UK of commercial access to health data found that only 17% of respondents would never consent to their anonymized data being shared with third parties, including for research.
  • The need for more transparent algorithms is necessary to meet the stringent regulations on drug development; people need to be able to see through the “black box”, so to speak, and understand the causal reasoning behind machine conclusions.
  • Recruiting data science talent in the pharmaceutical industry and building a robust skills pipeline is a major necessity.
  • Breaking down “data silos” and encouraging a “data-centric view” (i.e. seeing the value in sharing and integrating data) across sectors is of paramount importance in helping shift the industry’s mind-set toward embracing and seeing value in incremental changes over the long-term. Pharmaceutical companies have historically been hesitant to make changes or support research initiatives, unless there is an immediate and significant monetary value.
  • Streamlining electronic records, which at present are still messy and fragmented across databases, will be an essential initial step in ramping up personalized treatment solutions.
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10 Dental Marketing Ideas Proven to Attract New Patients

10 Dental Marketing Ideas Proven to Attract New Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

The average solo dental practice needs more than 20 new patients per month (at a minimum) in order to grow and succeed.

Here’s the problem: traditional dental marketing practices aren’t going to cut it anymore. As of 2018, 97 percent of consumers go online to find local services, 73 percent use online search engines to research dental treatments, and the first step 72 percent of patients take when searching for a new doctor or dentist is looking up online reviews.

Welcome to the age of digital dental marketing. 

The Top 10 Dental Marketing Ideas Proven to Grow Your Business

Since most traditional dental marketing strategies won’t work anymore, you need new dental marketing ideas. The good news? We cracked the code on what it takes to get more patients online.

Below you’ll find the best dental marketing ideas that have been proven to snag you more new patients. You should walk away with a clear understanding of how the modern online patient behaves and what they want when seeking a new dentist, as well as concrete ideas you can implement right away. 

Need more help executing your dental marketing strategy? We got you. Contact us here» 



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1. Update and Optimize Your Google My Business Page

We have tons of creative dental marketing ideas coming up, so let’s get the easiest, least time-consuming one out of the way. Optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) page is a small dental marketing idea that packs a HUGE punch—by optimizing your GMB page you can almost immediately attract more patients (not enough to grow your business by itself, but a few).

You know that map of local listings that pops up when someone makes a location-based search? That’s called Google’s Local Pack, and the information in it is pulled from various local Google My Business pages.


The Local Pack listing alone accounts for approximately 44 percent of clicks by users of Google, primarily with traffic to the business name and the website link.

First, if you haven’t already, claim your Google My Business page.


To optimize it, completely fill out the following:

  • Your business’s categories (above, you can see it says either “dentist” or “dental clinic” right under the average review rating. That’s a feature inside GMB, and it helps searchers find specific needs)
  • Your main phone number
  • Your business’s description
  • Your hours of operation
  • Your address or service area
  • Your review section (more on reviews a bit further down)

Learn more about getting to the top of local listings here »

2. Doctor Up Your Website

If your operations manager tried to rent a new dentist’s office in a back alley somewhere—complete with a sketchy front entrance, dim lighting, and decade-old equipment—what would you do?

You’d probably suspect they’ve been abusing your stock of laughing gas. Why? Because first impressions matter and patients don’t want to be treated in a place that looks like it doubles as a black market surgical center for stolen organs.

Here’s the thing: Your website is frequently the first interaction a patient has with your practice and patients WILL judge you based on how it looks and functions. In fact, 48 percent of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business, and once your page loads, users form an opinion in .05 seconds.

Need some ideas to make your website not so back-alley-ish? These are the key features your website needs in order to attract more patients:

  • Online scheduling
  • Online bill pay
  • Online prescription renewal
  • Messaging capabilities so patients can communicate quickly with dental providers
  • Profiles for each dentist
  • A healthy supply of videos (see more about that further down)
  • Content that helps patients keep their mouths—and lives—healthy

But having these features and capabilities on your website isn’t your only task. In order for your website to attract more new patients:

  • You need to make it fast – Patients need to see something happen on your website within three seconds of landing there. If it takes longer, almost 50 percent will hit the “back” button.
  • You need to secure it – This is a no-brainer for dental care (and healthcare in general), but if for some reason your website isn’t secure, you’ve got a problem. Learn more about website security here »
  • You need to make it mobile-friendly – 62 percent of smartphone owners use their device to look up health information, and 82 percent of smartphone users use a search engine when looking for a local treatment center or health facility. Not only that, but according to Google, 77 percent of smartphone owners have used their smartphones to find local health services in the past six months, and 79 percent of them say they’re more likely to revisit and/or share a mobile site if it is easy to use.
  • You need to code it for SEO – The best dental websites are coded in a way that makes it easy for the search engines’ software to find, crawl, and index them (see more about SEO below).

3. Start a Dental Blog

“Does activated charcoal work to whiten teeth?”

“What’s the best toothbrush for sensitive teeth?”

“How often do I REALLY need to go to the dentist?”

Do you have articles about these types of topics on your website? If you don’t, you’re missing out on a whole lot of website traffic that could turn into new patients. Patients are searching for the answers to everything, from how often they need to brush to what kind of toothbrush they should use—searches for “best toothbrush” have grown more than 100 percent in the past two years, and more and more patients are turning to search engines to solve their health queries.

You need to have content on your website that catches these curious patients. Starving for dental blog topics? Here are a few ideas:

  • Correct a wrong assumption – When asked about the biggest barriers to going to the dentist, 40 percent of Cigna survey participants said that because they weren’t in pain, they didn’t need to go see a dentist. This is one statistic you could turn into a host of blog posts.
  • Take on a trend – I have a number of events coming up, which means my smile is on my mind. In the interest of “natural” whitening, I’ve been Googling activated charcoal as a whitener. Apparently, activated charcoal is a HUGE topic of debate—I must have read six different blog posts about it on various dental websites. I am not alone in how much research I do into beauty trends, so take them on and share your expertise (and no, I did not go the activated charcoal route).
  • Help to create healthy habits – Healthy living is in, so take advantage of it. People are always looking for easy ways to be healthy, and brushing and flossing are about as easy as it gets. Create blog posts around creating not just a healthy mouth, but a healthy body.

4. Optimize Your Blog Posts and Dental Website Pages for SEO

SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s process of editing your website content and code so the search engines can understand it better and rank your web pages higher in the search results for related queries.

Google’s search result rankings are determined by a complex algorithm, which is carried out by “spiders.” These “spiders” crawl your web pages and look for indicators, keywords, and other factors in order to decide what it’s about and what search queries it best answers.

Here’s where SEO comes in: these spiders speak a different language that humans do—HTML. It’s like someone who speaks Russian trying to determine what a web page in English is about. The technical bits and indicators we add with SEO are like adding subtitles for the robots to help them better understand—and better categorize and rank—your web pages.

For best success, you need:

5. Create Shareable Images and Post on Social Media

What do I mean by sharable? People share things for a few key reasons, as highlighted by CoSchedule:

  1. To bring valuable and entertaining content to others – 49 percent say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action.
  2. To define ourselves to others – 68 percent share to give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about (or, rather, who they want to be seen as).
  3. To grow and nourish our relationships – 78 percent share to stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with.
  4. Self-fulfillment – 69 percent share information because it allows them to feel more involved in the world.
  5. To get the word out about causes or brands – 84 percent share because it is a way to support causes or issues they care about (or to publicly state what side they’re on).

Here are a few ideas for social media dental posts:

  • Remind them about the dental benefits they’re paying for but not using – More than 25 percent of people with dental insurance don’t take full advantage of their benefits. Tie it back to being money-savvy and taking advantage of the things consumers have already purchased.
  • Create simple infographics – Infographics are great because they’re easy to read, enjoyable, and can sway potential patients. You can create simple, easy ones for free with Canva.
  • Create videos highlighting patients and the work you do – People want a dentist they can trust, and testimonials and reviews from other people will put their mind at ease.
  • Show before and afters – People always want to look like an “after,” and seeing someone with a “before” smile that looked like theirs does now could be the swift kick in the rear they need to go after that “after” for themselves.

Want more ideas? Take a look at these great dental social media pages:

  • Dental Arts Studio – They make dental work into veritable art.
  • ProGrin Dental – ProGrin creates the content people want to see. It’s bright, it shows the staff’s personality, and it makes the practice seem approachable and trustworthy.
  • Aspen Dental – Aspen Dental does a great job of not only creating engaging, relevant posts but also responding to people in the comments. People expect you to respond to them on social media just like they would in any conversation, so don’t stonewall them.
  • SugarFix Dental Loft – SugarFix Dental Loft’s Instagram account is Insta-gorgeous, and definitely brings a youthful, modern vibe to the dental world. If you venture onto the Instagram, this is a great account to take notes from.

6. Create Dental Videos and Invest in Video Marketing

If you look at those top dental social media profiles I shared above, you’ll notice they all incorporate one extremely valuable type of media: videos.

Consumers like videos. They like them so much that a video is 50 times more likely to rank organically in the search results than text pages, and by 2019, videos will account for 85 percent of online traffic in the US.

You are in a prime industry to use video because practically everything you do has a visual element to it. Creating one-hour crowns with state of the art 3-D technology? Take a time-lapse of it. Do you have patients that love your work? Get them on camera for a testimonial.

Here are a few videos your dental office should leverage:

  • Website welcome videos: Nobody wants to go to a shady dentist’s office, so create a video to welcome them and introduce your facility beforehand. Dental office Coastal Dental Arts has a great welcome video that speaks to the human side and creates empathy, two incredibly important aspects.
  • Physician profile videos: Having profile videos is a great way to increase confidence and trust in your dentists and dental hygienists.
  • Patient review videos: In the past two years, videos with the word “review” in the title had more than 50,000 years’ worth of watch time on mobile alone. By having testimonials and reviews from previous patients, you not only build confidence in your abilities, but you also build a patient’s trust in your staff.
  • Procedure and treatment overviews: If you perform dental surgeries, create videos of the procedure overview and the after-effects.
  • Educational videos on commonly asked questions or dental conditions: “Should I use activated charcoal to whiten my teeth?” “How long does Invisalign take?” “How do I know if I have a cavity?” These types of questions are ones that can be easily answered in the form of videos. Building out your YouTube page with these types of videos will not only make you the go-to authority but also clear up any confusion about your services.

7. Get Yourself Listed in Relevant Dental Directories

There’s one thing EVERYBODY wants to remove from their daily lives: bad decisions. Well, thanks to search engines and a consumer-powered internet, they can. Research from Google found that today’s consumer is researched-obsessed, largely so they can feel more confident in their decisions. For 90 percent of consumers, that includes looking up ratings and reviews online—88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Aside from the traditional directories like Yelp and your Google My Business page, you should update or claim your listing on the following websites:

8. Take Out Pay Per Click Ads for Your Highest-Converting Dental Keywords

Approximately 44 percent of people say they don’t go to the dentist because it’s too expensive. A way around this is to take out pay per click search ads and advertise specials and prices.

Here’s an extremely simplified description of how pay per click ads work:

  1. You pick keywords you want your ads to show up for
  2. Someone searches for your keywords
  3. Your ad pops up at the top of the search engine results page
  4. When someone clicks on your ad, you pay a certain amount of money

Here’s what they look like in action:

By advertising your price upfront and labeling it a special, you’re addressing one of the biggest pain points consumers have.

If you choose to take out PPC ads, get the advice of a professional. Google makes it seem easy. It’s not. That’s why we pay our experienced PPC team the big bucks to manage our clients’ campaigns.

9. Ask Dental Patients for Reviews. Then Ask for More.

You need reviews, and you need them consistently. As of 2018, the first step 72 percent of patients take when searching for a new doctor is looking up reviews. Not only that, but 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends or relatives. As if that’s not evidence enough, 48 percent of patients would go out of their insurance network for a doctor with great reviews. 

Here are the places you need reviews:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • Relevant dentist directories mentioned above

There are a few ways you can get reviews from patients:

  • Have them give a quick video testimonial after an appointment
  • Ask them
  • Ask them while they’re on laughing gas (I jest, you probably shouldn’t do this)
  • Ask them on Facebook
  • Ask them via email
  • In short, ask for them all the time
  • Sign up for a review aggregation software like Review Us Now

10. Use Email Marketing to Stay Top-of-Mind with Patients

Chances are you use dental marketing postcards. While you shouldn’t nix these, you should consider adding a corresponding email element. Checking email is the very first thing 66 percent of people do after they wake up. Greet them by reminding them of upcoming appointments, tips to keep their teeth white and healthy, and motivation to keep up with their dental health. Over 90 percent of adults want better email communication from their doctor, and a dentist is no different.

There are a few types of emails your dental practice should definitely be taking advantage of:

  • Appointment reminders
  • “It’s Time For…” reminders that inform patients when they are due for a cleaning or x-rays
  • Request a friend referral
  • Latest dental news and expert commentary
  • Announcements about the latest technology in your office and how it helps
  • Seasonal beverage tip sheets on how to avoid teeth stains
  • Dental health product reviews
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Do You Know the Easiest Way To Get New Patients Online?

Do You Know the Easiest Way To Get New Patients Online? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Marketing for medical practices can seem overwhelming in today’s world, and healthcare professionals are often unsure of how they should divvy up their marketing budget. They know the old methods of marketing through yellow pages, direct mail, and billboards are no longer working, but they’re not sure how to navigate the digital marketing world. They wonder if they should be investing in Facebook ads, or Google ads, or maybe a new website.

While they may not be sure about which direction to pursue, they’re right about one thing: digital is the place to be.

According to a report compiled by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 72% of internet users say they looked online for health-related information of one kind or another within the past year. These searches include patients who say they were looking for a doctor or healthcare professional near them who could best treat their symptoms.

Taking The Next Step

Once those prospective patients land on the website of a practice that looks like it may be a fit, they want to have a quick way to take the next step to request or schedule an appointment, right then, on the website. If they don’t see a prominent “schedule an appointment” button, they may move on to another practice that does make it easy for them to take that next step. It may seem like such a small convenience, but website visitors don’t want to have to pick up the phone and most likely be put on hold or sent to voicemail.

Even if they feel that practice is the one they want to pursue, they are more likely to put off picking up the phone and calling the practice’s number to schedule an appointment. And the longer they put off that call, the more likely they are to decide not to pursue an appointment.

Simply put, not having a way for patients to request an appointment online is an invitation to resistance and procrastination. Medical practices simply must make it very easy for people to schedule or request appointments with just the click of a button. The button should then link to a page where they’re asked to fill out a brief form with their name, phone number, email address, and add any comments or questions. And those “request an appointment” buttons should be placed clearly on each page of the website, not just the homepage.

Case In Point

Here’s an example: A local ophthalmology and eye surgery practice had been consistently investing a majority of their marketing budget in traditional methods, but they weren’t seeing returns on their efforts in patient growth. They had a website but hadn’t updated it for many months and weren’t utilizing it as a tool to share relevant information that their prospective patients may be searching for online.

As a result, they weren’t showing up in Google when someone searched for “eye doctor near me” or other popular search terms related to eye conditions. However, other ophthalmology practices in their region were showing up as top Google search results, and they noticed that those practices were maintaining active websites and publishing blog posts on those sites. They knew it was time to step up their digital presence by updating their website, and they came to us looking for help doing just that.

The first thing we noticed when reviewing their website was that there was no way for visitors to request an appointment online. Sure, they had their phone number listed on the homepage, but had no “request an appointment” buttons that made it quick and easy for people to take action while visiting their website.

We added this simple button that invited website visitors to request an appointment:

Once clicked, the button links to a page where website visitors can select whether they want to make an appointment or would like to submit a question. They fill out their name, email, phone, any messages, and submit. The office staff receives the requests immediately, and can then call or email them to schedule the appointment.

By making that one change alone, the practice received 36 new patient appointment requests online in just the first 90 days. That means a new appointment request was made roughly every 3 days.

So, while it may seem like a small change, adding a “request an appointment” button that takes a visitor to a link where they can input their information can make a big difference when it comes to the growth of your practice.

As for the local ophthalmology and eye surgery practice, we continued to update their website to be more appealing and mobile responsive and began a digital marketing campaign to promote their services.

The result over two years was that their website traffic more than doubled and they had an 80% growth in Facebook followers. They also now rank on the first page of Google search results for local eye surgeons.

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Digital Marketing Blueprint For Urgent Care

The right digital strategy can help a Urgent Care clinic increase their patient base. Strategic Valynt Digital uses strategic stacking to help Urgent Care acro…
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The Unwritten Rules for Patient Advocacy on Social Media 

The Unwritten Rules for Patient Advocacy on Social Media  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media’s ability to unify populations despite distance has come to be a key element for patients living with rare diseases, as online communities have provided support to patients who may otherwise have never found another human facing the same challenges as themselves. Whether it’s a closed Facebook group or a rare-disease-dedicated platform, like any community, these platforms must follow an unwritten set of rules that guide a productive and positive environment for its particularly vulnerable population.

Share Your Experience

First and foremost, these communities are places for people to find and connect with others facing similar challenging situations. One patient sharing his or her personal journey can cause others to feel less isolated given that they may be experiencing the same symptoms and difficulties they are, or even see patterns they hadn’t noticed in themselves.

Many patients with rare diseases have become consummate experts in what is going on in their disease state, having researched and kept up to date on what treatments are available, or in development, and where advocacy is needed. As the exchange of knowledge, experiences, and perspectives increases, so can advocacy. Ongoing and proactive communication can help galvanize the community to achieve their goals for increased access to resources through new legislation.

Don’t Let Others Learn the Hard Way

Share successes! Patients can help their peers prepare for the challenges of getting into a clinical trial, or on treatment and adhering to their regimen. Suggestions of fun activities and special recipes go a long way for preserving precious family moments despite disease-related limitations.

Sometimes patients share books they’ve read or movies that resonated with them—anything that applies to the patient experience is a valuable contribution to the group, big or small, and often these are not found in mainstream media. For example, the documentary film “Rare in Common” features the journeys of families in the rare disease community. As they go about living life as fully and lovingly as they can, while searching for a diagnosis and then treatment you get a glimpse of them as real-life heroes.

Another example is the illustrated children’s book “Rare is Everywhere,” which opens a door for parents and children to talk about how our differences, rooted in genetics, are to be celebrated. It introduces children to the white tiger, the blue lobster, and other animals whose genetic mutations make them different and beautiful! Proceeds go to the Rare Disease Foundation. A gem like this might go undiscovered without a social media network to spread the word.

Patients can also help each other seek help to pay for needed resources, for example, the National Organization of Rare Diseases (NORD) offers a financial assistance program for medical foods and supplements for patients with Urea Cycle Disorders.

Go Beyond the Social Networks

Allow social media to facilitate the connections, and then take it one step further. While these groups offer a sense of community, many patients and families also benefit from attending live events, such as the Rare Patient Advocacy Summit conducted by the non-profit Global Genes, where they can interact with their peers, advocates, and rare disease experts.

Patients and their families can also stay informed of pending legislation and the activities of the Rare Disease Congressional Caucus through Rare Disease Legislative Advocates, and then inform their peers of updates, or bring a group together for further advocacy through their social media networks.

Social media advocacy groups and similar platforms provide an opportunity to network with others across the globe that are in similar unique positions. Through unified communities, regardless of geographic location, rare disease patients and families can join together to change the landscape of opportunities for similar families to come.

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Snapchat surgery: doctors report rise in patient requests to look 'filtered'

Snapchat surgery: doctors report rise in patient requests to look 'filtered' | Social Media and Healthcare |

Plastic surgeons are reporting that patients are coming to them with selfies of themselves edited using the filters on Snapchat or Instagram and asking to look more like the retouched photo.

Researchers at the Boston medical center have authored an article in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, which labels the trend “Snapchat dysmorphia”, and argues that filters on apps are having a disastrous impact on people’s self-esteem.

Snapchat comes with a range of filters that immediately distort photos using artificial intelligence. They can make skin appear smoother, lashes look longer and bone structure appear more angular.

The report says these filters are sometimes triggering body dysmorphic disorder, a mental illness that leads to compulsive tendencies such as excessive beauty procedures, wasting hours obsessing over non-existent flaws and withdrawing from social activities.

The trend is particularly concerning to doctors because filters on Snapchat provide not just idealistic standards of beauty but entirely unhuman ones, presenting “an unattainable look and are blurring the line of reality and fantasy for these patients”, according to the report.

Separate from patients specifically trying to look like their selfies, over half of plastic surgeons also report patients saying that they are seeking procedures so they can look better in selfies, according to the report.

 A photo of Frida Kahlo that Snapchat created for International Women’s Day in 2017, which was criticised for lightening her skin and making her features appear more symmetrical. Composite: Alamy & Snapchat

Airbrushed, unrealistic representations of women in fashion magazines have been blamed for the increasing incidences of eating disorders and body dysmorphia in women and teenage girls.


But over the past decade, another more pernicious distortion of real bodies has been underway, with people editing their own photos to make themselves appear better looking, yet posting the photos as if they were candid shots. Third-party apps like Line Camera and Facetune gave users easy tools to make their faces appear thinner, more symmetrical and blemish-free, before posting them to Facebook. One 2015 survey found that, despite over two-thirds of female respondents thinking it’s wrong for magazines to airbrush pictures, 57% admitted to regularly editing their own social media pictures to enhance their appearance. But the trend has rapidly increased with the rise of pre-built filters on apps like Instagram and Snapchat that make faces appear almost cartoonishly perfect.

The new report finds that the kinds of facial surgery people are requesting has changed too. Previously, nose jobs were the most common request, but now, the authors say, people specifically seek procedures that will have effects similar to selfie filters, such as nasal and facial symmetry, rhinoplasties, hair transplants and eyelid surgical procedures.

This is the latest in a slew of recent studies that suggest young people are finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish between real life and social media, and that is having a negative impact on their wellbeing. A study last year in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who were regular users of social media were twice as likely to feel lonely than those that were light users. Another study released last year that interviewed 1,500 15-to-24-year-olds found that social media, especially Instagram, deepend their feelings of anxiety and inadequacy.

Earlier today, Snapchat announced that the number of daily users of the app had dropped for the first time, by around 2% to 188 million.

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Appropriate Use of Social Media For Doctors |

Appropriate Use of Social Media For Doctors | | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is here to stay. If you’re a business competing in the social area, it’s getting more and more difficult to stand out from the rest of the crowd. This holds especially true in medical marketing, and sometimes, medical practices find themselves getting online attention for all the wrong reasons.

In our latest video, CEO Ryan Miller discusses some of the bigger implications of social media and how it can positively (or negatively!) affect your online reputation. You’ll learn what has the potential to cross the line, and how to leverage social media best practices to help safeguard you and your medical practice.

Video Transcription

Hi again, it’s Ryan Miller with Etna Interactive and it’s good to be back with you today because we’re going to be talking about a somewhat serious and timely topic. We’re going to talk about the appropriate use of social media in the medical practice environment. By now, I think many of us are familiar with Dr. Windell Davis-Boutte, known as the “dancing doctor” in the popular media. Obviously, she was after her 15 minutes of fame when she began publishing videos of her singing and dancing while patients were anesthetized in her operating room, and has received a tremendous amount of criticism. Not only that, very recently she reached an agreement within her state which agreed to the suspension of her medical license for about 2.5 years.

Now, some of you are saying “Ah, you know, Ryan, that’s not me. I would never make such a huge mistake. I have much better judgment. Does this really apply?” And the answer is yes. Because if you joined us just a couple of months ago for our HIPAA webinar, you recall that there’s actually been a spate of similar disciplinary actions for things that were published on behalf of staff or on behalf of agencies that are working for medical practices. So we’re taking a broad look today at the appropriate use of social media for anyone that might be publishing on behalf of the practice because we have a couple of fairly existential questions that we have to be thinking about.

Where do you draw the line?

As marketing is moving from more traditional media or traditional online media towards social media, what do we have to do today to stand out? And it may be this question that’s driving people to ever more sensational postings. At the same time, we have to recognize that it may be your medical license that’s at risk, but the posts are very often today coming from members of your staff or agencies that you’ve hired. And I think on a much broader level, we have to step back and ask: What do we really feel is appropriate as it relates to social media postings from medical professionals, and do the postings of the few have a negative reflection on our medical specialties as a whole?

RealSelf Study

Now, why is it? What’s the drive that’s pushing us all towards social media? As far back as 2015, I think the data was fairly clear. RealSelf did a study and asked patients directly what were their preferences and their interests as it related to connecting with doctors on social media. Well the Huffington Post came out with this story titled, Nonsocial Doctors Are Terribly Outdated.

Now, where that was coming from really was inspired by these two data points: 95% of patients expected their physician to be at least somewhat active on social media. Although the majority, 66% said: “I’m not likely to actually connect with you”. We call this cyberstalking, right? The patients want to see what you’re doing. They’re interested in what’s happening in the practice and in order to fulfill that wish, to share with them what’s going on, we need to step back and we’re going to be taking a look at three things today.

Today’s presentation at a glance:

1. Common professional offenses on social media

2. Best practices for physicians

3. Steps to protect yourself and your practice

Now, let’s pause for a second here. We’re going to go a little bit longer than our typical newsletter distribution because our hope is that this is going to be a resource. A resource not only for your own edification but for training your existing staff. Perhaps for using this as you onboard new members of your team who will be active in social media on behalf of the practice. Now, let’s dive right in.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the research shows right now that infractions are abound, that we see more and more reports from both state medical licensing boards here in the United States and from the Royal Colleges up in Canada, that there is an increasing number of infractions that involved disciplinary action that relate directly to social media. So the problem is on the rise. The most common offenses that are reported that are resulting in disciplinary action are these:

  • Inappropriate contact with patients (e.g., sexual misconduct)
  • Inappropriate prescribing and inappropriate practice
  • Misrepresentation of credentials or clinical outcomes
  • Violations of patient confidentiality
  • Defamatory language or profanity directed at a patient or coworker
  • Depiction of inappropriate behaviors

Social media best practices for physicians.

Now, let’s pause here for a second again and think about the expansive nature of our advice. We’re not lawyers, so we’re not giving you legal advice, but this is applicable things that you’re doing on email, the content that you publish on your website, the text communications that you may be having today with patients, blogs that you publish, and of course, the broader and specific context that we’re talking about: the social networks.

Now, let’s go through some specific advice here:

1. Put your posts in context.

When we’re posting, we need to put our posts in context. If we have a bias, we need to share that bias inside the posts so that patients can understand how to interpret what they’re going to see as medical advice from you or from your practice. So if you have a financial, professional or personal conflict, be sure that you include it inside the post and be sure that you’re not representing your clinic, misrepresenting your clinical outcomes and overstating what you can realistically achieve.

2. Maintain your integrity.

We all need to be mindful of maintaining our integrity. I think the last thing we want is to be active on social media and have it undermine our own moral values. So, the basics of medical marketing are these: avoiding false, fraudulent and misleading statements are absolutely critical. Now, if you’re drawing upon scientific and clinical knowledge, we want to make sure that our content conforms to the standards of care, that we’re giving good medical advice.

Finally in this particular section, if we’re giving specific advice (which we generally recommend against), we need to be sure to indicate whether it’s based on scientific studies, expert consensus, or just your own personal and professional experience.

3. Protect patient privacy.

Now, a great example here of what can go wrong, especially when you’re sharing things without consent. This particular case, a story from the Tyler Morning Telegraph, about a plastic surgeon who shared some video of a patient without taking steps to protect that patient’s privacy.

Keeping in mind that the photos and videos that you publish on the web, things as subtle as the file names and metadata go out into the public web when you publish those assets. So if you have a picture of a patient that contains their last name and you publish that directly to Facebook, it’s not going to be de-identified. And you need to take the steps to do that yourself.

In addition to that, we always need to get express consent, specifically written consent, before we publish pictures or videos of our patients onto the web. Now, if your forms don’t expressly mention social media as one of the uses, it’s time to update those forms. Drop us a note, we’ll direct you to a great resource that’s provided by Medical Justice.

4. Avoid defamation.

Now, this is an actual post. It’s hard to believe, but this is a real post that appeared on social media and we see what’s happening as we kind of glance through the text here. We see one medical professional lambasting one of their colleagues for some decisions that were made, in this particular case, in the emergency room. Now, clearly bad idea in terms of both the defamatory nature of this post, but also the potential that this has for inciting a medical malpractice lawsuit. So we want to be careful that we’re avoiding defamation.

I think this hopefully goes without saying, but we don’t want to go after any of our colleagues. We don’t want to attack the reputation of a patient on the public web.

5. Be the professional.

Now, it’s not just an attack that might get us in trouble — complaining is a problem that’s fairly rampant as well.

In this example, also taken from the headlines, we see an OB-GYN complaining about a late patient. We see colleagues commiserating, all of them missing the fact that their discussion was visible on the public internet. There’s quite a backlash from the body of patients who had seen this practice. So those kinds of complaints we need to keep to ourselves and the basic advice there is simply to be professional. Act on social networks as you would in person and as if the people that we’re talking about are standing in the room with us.

Be sure that you set clear guidelines for yourself, that you’ve thought it through, and ideally that you’ve written guidelines as well for the members of your staff who will be participating on social media on behalf of the practice.

If you are publishing before and after photos or if you’re publishing videos of procedures, be sure that you’ve got some guidelines for you and for your team on how to de-identify that information so that we’re protecting patient privacy.

We have a specific recommendation for those doctors who have both personal social media profiles and professional profiles and that’s that you get used to politely declining social connections from patients on your personal profiles and that you can guide those people to connect with you on your professional social media accounts.

6. Maintain proper boundaries.

Maintaining boundaries is really just an extension of that same idea. Obviously, you should not be initiating a doctor-patient relationship with someone that you’ve never met. So don’t be practicing on strangers on social media.

Be mindful about the details of your own personal life, details as subtle as what’s contained in the photos that you place on your social media accounts. Be mindful about what you reveal there.

And of course, avoid any online relationships with current or former patients, right? Not a good idea to get too close personally on social media with someone that you’re also treating.

Protect your person and your practice.

Now, let’s talk about protecting, as we wrap up here, both your person and your practice.

Take care with privacy settings.

We’re recognizing that if you’re the Medical Director of a center, you’re responsible for everything that’s published in the name of that practice. So, let’s be sure and be aware that with privacy settings, they’re not as transparent as they should be despite what I think are the best efforts of the major social media players. It can be quite complex to control and clearly understand who’s seeing what you’re publishing. So, understand how you can configure privacy settings to protect your information and assume that everything that you share is going to become publicly available regardless of how you’ve set those privacy considerations.

Consider the destiny of your data.

Recognize as well that once it’s shared, it may be shared forever. Don’t plan on being able to delete anything that you publish online.

Now, for those of you, especially those of you that are either younger inside of a practice, or just getting started on professional careers and you aren’t your own boss: If you ever hope to be hired, it’s a good idea to assume that your future employer is likely to perform a background check of some kind. They’ll be taking a look at your activity online and they’ll be considering the quality of your posts and the style and types of the nature of the connections that you form on social media.

Assess yourself online.

To check yourself, we recommend you simply begin by Googling your full name. Look through all of your old social posts, look through your social connections in the groups to which you belong, and ask yourself, “Are my employers likely to object to anything that’s out there?” You may want to consider making edits or revisions to your public profile.

We do also recommend that practices consider formal policies. It’s important that you check here with human resources lawyers that you work with inside of your practice in your state because from one state and province to the next, the laws about what you can regulate for your employees different.

Consider formal policies.

We definitely recommend that every practice protect their passwords. Unfortunately, we’ve seen far too many cases where a practice separates from an employee only to find that the passwords and the user accounts for social media are attached to that departing employee who then has the control to edit or simply destroy the accounts that are built in the name of the practice. So, password protection is an important part of protecting your assets on social media.

Identify and articulate clearly to each member of your staff who’s actually allowed to participate on social media on behalf of the practice. Establish a clear HR policy that talks about what your expectations are and what the risks are surrounding their participation inside of social space. We also recommend for practices that have either staff or an agency publishing on their behalf that you have some clear protocols about when it’s required for members of your leadership team to approve text and content before it goes out.


Pulling all of those ideas together, we just need to recognize that disciplinary action for medical practice participation on social media — it’s on the rise. And it’s up to you to understand and adopt those best practices that are going to keep you safe.

In addition to just following best practices, some of those prophylactic actions that we recommended there that are intended to protect you and articulate in advance for the people who are participating on social media what they should and should not do, are really some of the best ways that you can protect yourself now and into the future.

And, of course, if you want to learn more, you can be sure that you’re subscribed to our newsletter so you receive our video broadcast each and every month. You can follow us on social media or maybe leave a review for the content on Facebook as well.

My name is Ryan Miller, and I welcome your questions directly at Thanks for tuning in today, we’ll look forward to seeing you next month.

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Instagram for Medical Practices – Guide to Your First 1,000 Followers

Instagram for Medical Practices – Guide to Your First 1,000 Followers | Social Media and Healthcare |

Instagram is king in 2017 when it comes to social media platforms. It has skyrocketed to prominence over the past few years and now it is the place to be when it comes to social media engagement. With an estimated 600 million user accounts and over 400 million of those users active on the platform daily you can see why there is such a big opportunity for medical practices to reach a whole new set of potential patients.

Whether you are reading this post because you are trying to figure out if jumping into the Instagram game is right for you as a doctor or practice or you have had a profile for a while but are struggling with the growth aspect we will cover the 101s and some great strategies to get you those first 1,000 followers.

To get things started off I am going to go over some of the 101s when setting up your medical Instagram and creating a killer brand page/profile for your practice right out of the gate.

Setting Up Your Medical Instagram Business Profile

Sounds simple enough but I still see doctors and practices a like making a similar mistake when setting up their Instagram and that is not using an Instagram Business account and signing up for a personal account. If you are not sure if you are using a business Instagram account it’s pretty easy to find out. Go to your account and next to “Edit Profile” if you see the “Promote” button then you is utilizing Instagram business. If you are realizing now that you may have made this mistake, don’t fret switching over is really simple. Take a look at the screenshots below on how to make the switch.




Once you have made the switch or set up an account make sure to fill out all of your practice information, including: website, bio, category (will help you from an SEO standpoint on the platform), and ALL of the contact options so it is as easy as possible for people to contact the practice.

Why Do You Need to Make the Switch to an Instagram Business Account?

Making the switch gives you a set of really awesome tools to help you grow your medical Instagram account. You will be able to see rolling 7-day insights on impressions, post reach, profile views, website/direction/call clicks and more. You will also be able to view a breakdown of your followers by gender, age range and location, which is really important when targeting local patients. It will help the practice stay up to date on who is following you to make sure you are reaching the right target marketing in the right area.

11 Tips to Gaining Your First 1,000 Instagram Followers

Now that you have made the switch or got the Instagram profile all set up for the business it is time to look at growing those followers, likes and engagements to get more patients. Instagram is an obviously visual social media platform so you want to go in realizing you need to create some visual branding guidelines to keep your wall consistent from a look and feel perspective. Most successful accounts have a specific theme and overall color that they go for on their wall.

1. Create Posting Templates

In order to accomplish the branding consistency I was just referring to the easiest way is to look at your current brand and develop some high quality posting templates for different situations. This will help to streamline the efforts when you are putting something onto the medical practice page that fits a certain template style that you have designed. Many people forgo this when starting out and it creates inconsistent branding. If you want to build patient engagement loyalty over time then create a theme and stick with it for the most part.

Click to read about 14 Mistakes to avoid on social media for medical practice.



2. Using the Right Hashtags

Hashtags are one of the lifeblood of the Instagram platform. They are how people find new content, engage with the things they love and connect with new people. For medical practices it is no different. You need to find the hashtag that are inline with what your potential patients are looking for content wise. Make sure to find a good blend of very popular hashtags, branded hashtags, local hashtags and industry specific hashtags. Using #love #fun #happy in all of your posts may get you some likes because of their overall popularity but it won’t get you where you need to be in terms of customer loyalty and sustained local engagement. You will be drowned out by all of the other noise on those hashtag feeds.

3. Use a Killer Photo Editor

To be truly success and grow your medical practice Instagram following you need to think of everything you post as art. Whether it’s a graphic of a new special the practice is running or a photo of the surgeon in the OR make sure you take the time to edit and add graphics. This again goes back to the importance of developing some posting templates because if it takes you forever to post every time you may eventually be very discouraged to do so so make it easy on yourself.

4. Post High Quality Content Consistently

Point #4 and on is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to having a successful Medical Instagram profile. It starts with consistent, high-quality content. Now that you have a good photo editor and a few posting templates the high quality should not be a tough. It is the consistency that gets most people. Most Instagram experts agree that it is the more the merrier when it comes to posting. The minimum goal should be everyday with a sweet spot of 3X per day. There are tons of studies that show posting 7+ times per week triples likes, engagement and follower growth.

When clients come to us to grow their practice Instagram account or ask me to audit their profile this is consistently the #1 reason for growth problems for medical practice: lack of posting frequency. To keep your audiences engaging you need to provide content, lots of content. You have targeted potential patients now it’s time to show them what makes you the best in the industry. The more consistency you gain in likes the more your Instagram posts will appear on their feed. If your are posting 3 or more times a day you are increasing the possibility to gain more likes and engage with your audience. Posting on Insatgram with high quality posts multiple times a day requires time and monitoring. This is the challenge that most doctors quickly learn when trying to grow their Instagram. Instargam requires a lot of time and attention. Posting multiple times a day is only successful when your Instagram has fresh and captivating visuals. Simply reposting or recycling content just to hit the daily quota of posting will not grow followers and likes.

5. Following People That Fit Your Target Patient

In order to get to that 1,000 follower mark quickly for your medical practice you need to be actively following people on Instagram. However, it is easy to grow fast by following 1,000s of people at random (or buying followers which I strongly discourage) but what does it matter if the people following you have not interest in what you do or are located 5 states away? More than likely someone in Texas is not going to make the trek to Florida to visit your OB/GYN practice. You need to focus on targeting people in specific geographical locations that fit your target market of potential patient.

6. Engage with Your Followers

If you are consistently following people you need to utilize your main news feed and like, comment and engage with the people you are following. Especially the people that show you love on your posts. It can be time intensive but you will be happily surprise at the growth and reciprocated engagement you receive when you show a little love on Instagram. Social media is inherently selfish because your feed is mainly filled with people talking about themselves or taking selfies. Like their photos and many will return the favor. This works to help get your posts out to more people because on of Instagram’s algorithm factors is number of likes so the more you receive the more you will increase your overall impressions and brand exposure.



7. Bring Your Followers Into The Operating Room

Many doctors and medical practices that have developed a large following on Instagram have a common theme. A large portion of their wall features their physicians doing what they do best: surgery. People want to see awesome and unique on Instagram and placing tons of stock photos of pretty models will bore your followers to death. However, show your doctor in action performing a rhinoplasty or liposuction, while grotesque to a point, will draw in a large amount of interest and eyeballs. It also allows people to build a little bit of a relationship with the physician who will handle their patient care if they decide to come into the practice.

8. Run Contests and Promotions

Contests and promotions when done correctly are a great way to grow your following and engage with new people in your community. Plan a promotion for the practice that will be of substantial value to potential clients and get them into the office to see what you do. I have seen some doctors do giveaways and a person on the other side of the country wins their skin care line. How does that help grow the practice? Be creative with you promotion but also ensure that claiming the prize involves being involved in some level with the physical practice.

9. Cross Promote to Your Target Audience

Especially when the practice Instagram is early on it can be difficult trying to get people to follow you back. When you have 100 follows people are more reluctant to see the value in following you verse if you have 10,000 followers. There is psychological and social validation factor that says hey 10,000 other people found something interesting here I am sure I will too. Therefore, it can be of great benefit while the practice is racing toward 1,000 followers to team up with a brand, product or influential person in your market to cross promote to their followers. Make sure this person’s follower base is in line with the practice brand and specialty. If you come up with a creative way to leverage their following that is mutually beneficial for you both it can be a great way to boost engagement and followers quickly.

10. Promote Your Instagram Account Everywhere

Utilize all the other places on and offline that you can to make current and potential patients aware that the medical practice has an Instagram. Make sure the icon is prominent on the practice website at the top and bottom of the site and on your blog. Create graphics for the other practice social media accounts to remind people to follow on Instagram too. Finally your current patient base can be a conduit to reach new patients so put a stand at check out and in the patient rooms letting them know Instagram is where it is at!

11. Show Patient Success Stories or Before & Afters

People want to see other people who have had an awesome experience at the practice. They do not care about a stock photo or a before and after provide by the manufacture of your laser machine. Patients are inundated daily with before and afters and they are smart enough to read between the lines and know what’s real and what is suspect. Reach out and ask patients that are happy with their experience if they are willing to participate in a social media campaign. Tell their story because it is a great way to create an emotional connection with your audience when they can relate to another person.

On the before and after side, if you are a cosmetic or aesthetics practice, be diligent collecting and distributing these. Keep them consistent and focus on a wide range of ages, both sexes and different skin types. People want to relate to someone as close to their type as possible when it comes to procedural results.


Instagram for medical practices can be a powerful tool to connect with your current and potential local patient base. If you follow these steps and focus on posting and brand consistently you will be surprised at how fast a practice can grow a substantial following. Be different, be creative and get that whole practice involved. Medical practices are a dime a dozen on social media do something to separate you from the crowd and engage with patients.

If this all seems a little overwhelming to you or you want to perform an audit or some additional training give us a call. Intrepy Healthcare Marketing offers social media management and expert medical Instagram profile growth and strategy. We can manage your profile monthly or simple help point you down the path of success. We are here to help! Give us a call 678-250-4757 or fill out our contact form.

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Social Media for Optometrists: Finding Content for Your Business Page

Social Media for Optometrists: Finding Content for Your Business Page | Social Media and Healthcare |

By now you understand that a strong presence on social media platforms keeps your optometry practice relevant to your younger patient base. But as an independent eyecare practice you might not have all of the time, or resources, to constantly stay on top of a social media presence for your practice.

Although it can be a time consuming challenge to find information that will be relevant and interesting to your followers, it's definitely one worth investing in. We put together a few resources and ideas below that will help you curate content for your practice's social media pages.

Let's start with a few statistics to show you the power of social media:

  • 95% of millennials expect brands to have a Facebook Page.
    • On top of that, 87% of Gen X (30-44 year olds), and even 70% of those aged 45-60 think brands should have a Facebook Page.
  • 41% of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility.
  • 60% of doctors say social media improves the quality of care delivered to patients.

Consumers want to do business with people and companies that they like and can relate to. Social media is your space to develop a voice that builds relationships by providing information that is valuable, informative, relatable, and funny.

Social Media for Optometrists: 7 Ideas for Finding Content for Your Social Media Pages

All About Vision launched in 2000 to provide consumers with an independent source for trustworthy information on eye health and vision correction. You'll find sharable articles here from topics like contact lenses, LASIK, frames, conditions, children's vision, and everything in between. Sometimes tweeting a link or even retweeting from All About Vision's twitter page will get conversations going. Reading about trends in the eyecare industry can spark your own content or blog ideas that you could add to your website or ask as a poll on your twitter.

The Optical Vision Site and Optical Vision Resources

The Optical Vision Site and Optical Vision Resources have information that is good for both you and your patients. Their posts will help you with marketing your practice, much like our blog here on Uprise. They also include updates and listicles on eyewear brands that your patients will find interesting and entertaining. 

If you post staff recommendations on Facebook or Instagram, you could refer to these websites to find a new brand or new frame to highlight.

Follow Other Practice Pages

Network with your peers that you went to school with and follow their practice's Facebook pages. It's a great way to see what other practice's are doing to interact with their patients on social media, and you'll be able to share information easily with each other. 

Also, when you post on your own Facebook page, you can put put money behind your posts and gain a larger audience for your effective content. Facebook has the option of boosting content to target lookalike audiences, which means you can choose to target the users who have "liked" other optometry practices' pages.

Your Team

Here's a few quick ideas that we have to get the wheels turning during team brainstorm sessions:

  • Weekly OD Q&A with common patient questions about different eye related topics
  • Highlight different employees in your practice
  • Have one of your opticians select a "frame of the week"
  • Show patient before and after photos of new glasses
  • Share a patient success story
  • Share information about local community events
  • Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries
  • Holiday hours, specials, and discounts

Outsource ($)

If you just don't have the time or resources to manage your social media marketing, you can look at paid options for outsourcing. There are many different options out there in a range of prices, so do your research, know your budget, and definitely monitor your engagement throughout the months. You might also hire a social media consultant to get you on the right track before you start managing your accounts yourself.

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11 Digital Marketing Tips For Doctors & Physicians

11 Digital Marketing Tips For Doctors & Physicians | Social Media and Healthcare |

Today, digital marketing channels are widely used by consumers (doctors and patients) in everyday of life at home and at work, using computers, tablets and smartphones. To be more successful, pharmaceutical companies has able to deliver the brand’s message across different marketing channels, including digital channels (websites, social networks, mobile apps, email, electronic publishing, and online advertising) on different groups of consumers with different preferences, from the point of view of which channels prefer information. This principle is based on multichannel marketing (multichannel marketing). Its motto is fair, which is contained in the right moment for a good consumer in the most appropriate way.

Nowadays, marketers are confronted with old communication marketing channels, which are losing their effectiveness, and digital marketing is becoming more and more popular. One of the benefits of digital communication channels is the ability to receive customer feedback that helps improve the characteristics of products and services by monitoring and analyzing relevant information.

According to a study companies that successfully use all available digital channels, on average, more profitable on 28% compared to their less advanced counterparts. The same report analyses the intensity of the use of digital technologies in marketing for different sectors of the economy. According to the results of the study, the pharmaceutical industry is among the newcomers in the development of digital marketing opportunities. There are also no clear rules for the interaction of pharmaceutical companies with consumers through the Internet and the social networks of the Food and Drug Administration.

The lack of clear rules for online advertising of pharmaceuticals for medical assistance is not the only reason why many pharmaceutical companies are slow to rely on digital communication channels. One reason may be that the introduction of innovative technologies in the short term has a low economic impact (in terms of return on investment). In the context of the loss of patent protection for many best sellers, which has resulted in lower profits, leaders in the pharmaceutical industry do not tend to make high-risk decisions.

Even though many pharmaceutical companies are beginning to communicate with consumers via digital channels, some major players are already successfully using a wide range of interactive digital technologies in their advertising strategies. In addition to the dialogue with the target group, pharmaceutical companies for doctors can also take advantage of the opportunities offered by digital marketing technology in these areas:

  • conduct clinical trials (creation of a free information flow);
  • Digital services as aspect of the product
  • Promote health applications using tactics borrowed from gaming (games).

Digital Marketing Tools for Doctors

Digital marketing services are a way to increase customer loyalty to the company, to stand out from the competition. In this context, some companies create wellbeing mobile applications. They offer a wide range of wellbeing applications that provide information about drugs for applications that turn a smartphone into a mobile device for medical diagnosis working as an imperative tool for doctors.

However, by adding special sensors to the smartphone turns it into a diagnostic device. Then, the collected data is analyzed by a special application. The use of a smartphone as a device for collecting and processing clinical data makes this procedure more accessible and less complex. Here is a list of capable gadgets that turn a smartphone into digital marketing consulting for doctors, as explained below:

  • An accessory for a smart phone perform the ability to make an electrocardiogram (ECG) (a device does not replace the standard 12-pin ECG, but shows a high quality single-channel of ECG)
  • mobile ultrasound system, an ultrasound system that is connected to a mobile phone via the USB cable, and transmits the ultrasound image over a hospital network, Wi-Fi or directly to a work computer
  • Overlay on the phone so you can control your ears through the smartphone’s camera, it is thus transformed into a small high-resolution microscope with the app, and you can independently explore the outer and middle ear areas and transfer the data to the remote doctor as well.
  • A mobile glucometer device can monitor diabetic blood sugar levels. Consequently, the device is connected to a phone or tablet, a test strip with a drop of blood is introduced. Therefore, patients can monitor carbohydrate intake, inject insulin and glucose levels.
  • Device to determine visual acuity;
  • Mobile sphygmomanometer;
  • Weighing from Wi-Fi to communication with a smartphone or tablet
  • A mobile application that allows you to monitor blood pressure, save data and send it as a graph.

The concept of digital marketing

Digital marketing is the promotion of services, products or brands of the company through one or more digital multimedia resources. Your main task is to guarantee the maximum presence of your company in the network. Digital marketing is a new step in the development of medical product advertising for doctors. Of course, information technology has become an integral part of the modern world. In the healthcare sector, the use of digital technologies covers many areas such as clinical research, communication with social networks, and promotion of mobile medical applications. Most representatives of the pharmaceutical market are still wary of these innovations.

However, the fact that consumer demand already accustomed to the use of technological innovations is quite high, hopes to promote growing pharmaceutical products, the integration of digital technologies into the strategy. The growing participation of doctors and patients in social networks forces pharmaceutical companies to keep pace with the times and develops, among other things, this sense, which leads to excellent results.

According to a survey, the use of all digital marketing channels to interact with customers for corporate profits of companies that only use traditional methods of influence on the public has increase by 26% per year. These data only confirm the opinion of how important it is to make your company to represent on the Internet, because without it many potential customers have little chance of knowing the existence of your organization.

Advantages of effective digital marketing for doctors:

  • Interaction with a wider audience.
  • Possibility of more perspective to send a marketing message in less time.
  • Bidirectional communication with clients with the ability to determine their needs and receive quick responses.
  • Involve users and influence them more.
  • The trust and loyalty of the client can be increased for the brand and service by providing free useful content.
  • Improve the company’s position in the network compared to the competition, using only standard methods of impact on customers.
  • Transparency and measurability of the results of the marketing campaign in real time and the possibility of making the necessary changes.
  • Reduce costs compared to traditional campaigns.
  • Join in new medicine buyers and promote sales.

Essential Advices of Digital Marketing for Doctors

The utmost vital thing in the current situation is the dynamics of change. The more changes in the clinic are adapted to the trends, the more opportunities will be differentiated from the competition. It is better to control over development because the rest will just go with the flow. However, the rapid development of technology meant that interaction is no longer with potential customers, even in one or two directions, but with the use of a wider range of digital marketing communication channels. Let’s find out what digital marketing is, and we will try to explicate the 11 reasons of its importance for the promotion of medicines for the doctors:

  1. For successful medical business advancement it is important to use modern marketing technologies for clients, public sanatoriums, private clinics, diagnostic Centre’s, medical preventions and rehabilitation foundations of patients to fight for life. However, without promotions, no business can exist and develop successfully. Increasing public awareness of the activities of your Centre or clinic through digital marketing will attract new patients.
  2. One of the key criteria for a doctor is the selecting of a clinic for a patient by the price of services. And this cannot be ignored. In the mind of most people the private treatment is associated with a high expenditure of money, so ordinary people prefer to go to local hospitals, hoping to save money. When you create a price list for medical services through digital marketing, you know the prices offered by the market today. However, so consider the wage levels of the population in this or that region while posting on the social media. It is very important to justify the cost of services. Therefore, when creating the price list, you need to provide a detailed interpretation of your clinic’s service package through digital marketing.
  3. Usually, marketing development in the healthcare sector is slow because most of the clinics use same advertising channels, suggesting that this is sufficient. However, the rapid development of competition between clinics has significantly increased the cost of traditional marketing channels. Despite the effectiveness of tools such as contextual marketing, advertising on search engines (SEO) and social networks each year become more expensive. In a new reality, it is necessary to use less competitive channels.
  4. Company website is the company’s face. This should be simple, informative and understandable for every visitor. Do not fill it with graphic elements. Keep in mind that most people use the Internet through tablets and phones. As a general rule, the data transfer rate in such devices is rather low. Therefore, you should not display any additional graphic load on your company’s website, otherwise it will not open. Do not forget to provide the address and phone numbers of the clinic, the program on the website. It is also very useful to present a team of professionals working in your clinic. The website should be as informative and understandable to users as possible.
  5. Brochures and booklets plays and imperative role for marketing. These printed materials simply need to be in every medical facility. They can provide complete and at the same time necessary information on the list of services provided. Furthermore, the brochure should contain a brief description of the Centre’s activities and its competitive pluses.
  6. External advertising, television and radio advertising. Ideally, you should use all three types of advertising on the whole, which guarantees a quick result. However, this can be quite expensive from a financial point of view. So when you choose an ad, make sure that advertising outside the home is the cheapest, has a large audience, but usually is badly remembered. The most effective, however, is the most expensive television advertising. Therefore, select an appropriate kind of advertisement for display on electronic media for clinic.
  7. Printed advertising is a fairly common and effective way to make a statement to a large audience. Choose a thematic medium. The effect of this advertising is much greater. In addition, you can be sure that your ad reaches the public. According to statistics, this is advertising in a newspaper or thematic newspaper that becomes the strongest reason for a patient to communicate with a particular medical institution.
  8. There is the estimation that the internet is a salvation for pharmaceuticals, especially in the conditions of an economic crisis. And medical representatives can boldly deny new, cheaper and more effective advertising channels of marketing.
  9. For clinical decisions, 72% of doctors prefer digital sources. But communication with a medical professional is not considered a very valuable source. Especially when more than two years have passed since the beginning of medicine. But in the first two years, 53% of doctors visiting with employees of the pharmaceutical companies concerned (immediately after the launch, in the first days and months of communication with the medicines are much higher around 72%). Two years after the departure only 28%.
  10. Approximately 80% of the directors of pharmaceutical companies believe they fully understand their customers. Among the customers, only 6% agree with this statement. Although the tools that allow an almost accurate portrayal of a potential buyer are more than sufficient for digital marketing. In addition, the perspective of doctors regarding this situation is foremost vital because they are acknowledged of the utmost superior medium in the interest for their patients. However, the apparent simplicity of their application means that the promotion of electronic channels often leads to higher costs for pharmaceutical companies and reduces interest for the buyer.
  11. Personal contact is always more effective for the doctors. Digital tools can be a supplement that must be used competently. But the myth that in a crisis it is necessary to reduce medical representatives and completely switch to the Internet, where everything will come out immediately, can lead to positive results for doctors.

Author Bio:

Ellie Singh is a medical professional and a fitness mentor working in the health care sector of the United Kingdom. Moreover, she is well-organize and possessed a vast knowledge of marketing tactic and social media blogging skills as well. In addition, she offers academic essay writing services for to all pupils across the globe.

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E.Gombocz: Changing the Model in Pharma and Healthcare (DILS Keynote…

Innovations in healthcare delivery and Pharma require re-examination of process models at the foundation of our knowledge discovery and clinical practice. Desp…
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Digital R&D: Four ways to maximize patient engagement in clinical trials

Digital R&D: Four ways to maximize patient engagement in clinical trials | Social Media and Healthcare |

The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions recently interviewed 43 biopharmaceutical industry stakeholders to explore where the industry sees value and opportunities for using digital technologies in the clinical development process; understand reasons behind the relatively slow pace of digital adoption; and uncover strategies to overcome barriers and accelerate the use of digital in clinical trials.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PS, if your at DIA this week, I’m speaking on this topic later this morning. Check out our conference website for information on my session, or stop by our booth #2130!

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YouTube Millionaires: Doctor Mike Finds "Unique Way" To Share Medical Information

YouTube Millionaires: Doctor Mike Finds "Unique Way" To Share Medical Information | Social Media and Healthcare |

If you need some quick tips to help cure what ails you, you can always turn to Doctor Mike.

After being named the Sexiest Doctor Alive by People Magazine in 2015, Mikhail Varshavski has turned part of his attention to YouTube, where he shares the medical opinions, health advice, and wellness tips of a board-certified physician. Though he works part time as a practicing doctor, Varshavski finds time to devote to his channel, where he also reacts to TV’s most notable medical dramas. As he surged past one million subscribers, we took a few minutes out of his busy day to ask him about his career.

Tubefilter: How does it feel to have more than one million subscribers on YouTube?

Doctor Mike: Every time when I open my account, it blows my mind to see how many people are watching my content. I started this channel hoping to make a difference in the world, and now I am getting to the point where I can make a significant impact outside of just my medical practice.

TF: Your audience has grown rapidly over the past year. Why do you think that is?

DM: I think it is because I have taken a risk in an area where many doctors before me have been unwilling to do so. Social media can be a scary place for professionals and at times is even mocked by some as superficial or useless. I think without professionals making their presence known online it can indeed become that place. I have taken the medical information I’ve learned over the last decade and figured a unique way to deliver that information that is both fun and relatable.

TF: What led you to launch your channel, and did any other YouTube creators inspire you?

DM: I was itching to start a YT channel as soon a graduated from medical school, but I held off because I wanted to get some more experience in the field and secure some resources so that my channel would have significant production value. Watching creators like Casey Neistat, I knew I needed to partner up with like-minded folks who had talents that I just did not have (video editing, filming, etc.) The most successful CEOs know their weaknesses and look to surround themselves with talented folks to create the best possible product. Our product is this channel.

TF: How do you manage to keep up with your channel while still working a doctor’s hours?

DM: Well, I started filming for the channel while I was in my final year of residency, which was incredibly hard because I could easily find myself working 80-90 hours a week in the hospital; during this time, it was incredibly demanding. Actually, the two weeks I had saved for vacation I used to travel to El Salvador on a medical mission with AmeriCares, a trip which we documented on my channel.

Currently, I am working part-time for Atlantic Health System’s Overlook Medical Center’s Family Medicine department where I am seeing patients and fulfilling my dream of being a practicing physician. The rest of my time I split between social media and television work.

TF: What do other doctors think when they learn about your channel?

DM: Initially, when I started, they weren’t sold on the concept of such a young doctor giving medical advice. However, after the success, I have been able to achieve and the quality of medical information I’ve put online they have become huge supporters. In fact, many of them suggest topics for me to cover on the channel.

TF: Out of all the medical dramas you’ve watched on your channel, which is your favorite?

DM: It would probably be The Good Doctor mostly because I wish I could be that smart and solve many complex medical situations. I think the casting on the show is spot on and highlighting a character with autism brings awareness to a much-needed topic.

TF: What’s the single best tip you can give someone who is looking to live a more healthy lifestyle?

DM: It would really depend on that persons’ lifestyle and what they are doing well and where they could improve. I can say that as a society we are not putting enough emphasis on sleep. We skimp on it and not think about the many health consequences of doing so. Everything from reaction time to weight to mood is dictated by getting the proper quantity and quality of sleep.

TF: Have you found other doctors on YouTube? Do you think more of them will start their own channels in the coming years?

DM: I have seen other doctors on YouTube, and there are some who are doing amazing things for the healthcare industry (i.e., ZdoggMD), but there are also some who are using their degrees to peddle low quality or extremist information to further their own careers, which does upset me some. One of my primary goals in my channel is giving the most up to date, honest, and evidence-based information to help guide my audience to make better health decisions for themselves and their families.

TF: What’s next for your channel? Any fun plans?

DM: Moving forward I want to jump more into the familiar YouTube formats and transform them to be more health-related. In the coming weeks, I am planning to shoot an ASMR themed medical office visit video. Also, I am looking to collaborate with those who are not in healthcare to create some fun videos bringing unique perspectives/backgrounds together. I think it would be fun to see a doctor step outside of their comfort zone and try some novel ventures.

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Digital Advertising Generates High-Quality Patient Leads for Clinical Trial Recruitment

Digital Advertising Generates High-Quality Patient Leads for Clinical Trial Recruitment | Social Media and Healthcare |

Patients are going online to search for treatment options — here’s how clinical trials can use digital marketing to reach them.

Many investigator sites are hesitant to use digital recruitment methods because they aren’t sure if the patients they bring in will meet clinical trial criteria. While the large volume of leads generated through online marketing may include some unqualified prospects, the right strategy can make digital advertising a valuable resource for patient recruitment.

Through tools like Facebook advertising and Google AdWords, clinical trials can bypass irrelevant audiences to reach patients who are actively looking for treatment. Here’s how sponsors and CROs can take advantage of digital marketing opportunities to connect with a diverse group of potential patients and boost trial enrollment.

Opportunities in Digital Marketing

Digital marketing helps clinical trials efficiently reach patients who can benefit most from treatment. It also encourages the recruitment of a diverse group of participants who are more likely to form a representative research sample.

Advertising on social media platforms like Facebook allows studies to target users based on demographics, such as location and age. As of March 2018, Facebook’s audience is made up of 1.45 billion daily active usersand 2.20 billion monthly active users. It also has a dynamic community of people who discuss their medical conditions and belong to online support groups. Sponsors and CROs can identify these users through their Facebook activity and target them for appropriate clinical trials.

Recruiters can also use paid search tools like Google AdWords to target potential patients who are actively seeking treatment. Their online searches indicate that they are already at the bottom of the funnel, and thus more likely to enroll in a trial. Studies show that 73% of consumers use search engines to narrow down their treatment options, and clinical trials have the opportunity to connect with these users by leveraging the right keywords.

To further narrow down a pool of potential patients, trials may want to localize their advertising. Trials can specify that an ad campaign show only in a particular geographic area where there is a nearby investigator site. Since 75% of people who find local information in search results are more likely to visit the physical business, highlighting a particular trial site is one of the most effective ways to attract eligible patients.

Boosting Patient Enrollment

Once a user clicks on a relevant ad, their subsequent experience will likely determine whether or not they enroll in a study. An important aspect of this experience is the landing page, which should align with the content that originally captured the visitor’s interest. An effective landing page for a clinical trial contains a user-friendly and mobile-optimized rundown of a particular condition or treatment plan. This individualized content speaks to patients’ concerns and encourages them to continue with the enrollment process.

To help ensure that patients who clicked on the ad are eligible for a particular study, visitors may be prompted to complete an online questionnaire. This will help screen interested users for important inclusion and exclusion criteria and save trials the time and expense of weeding through a poll of unqualified candidates.

Through careful and strategic digital marketing, clinical trials can recruit a diverse group of qualified patients. MD Connect has the resources to meet the unique needs of local sites, CROs, and sponsors, through social media, paid search, and region-specific advertising. By leveraging our broad range of digital tools, trials can reach wider audiences and increase patient enrollment without breaking the bank.

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