Social Media and Healthcare
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Professional use of social media in medical education

Lecture to first year uOttawa medical students by Pat Rich and Ann Fuller
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Social Media and Healthcare
Articles and Discussions on the intersection of Social Media and Healthcare.
Relevant to Healthcare Practitioners, Pharma', Insurance, Clinicians, Labs, Health IT Vendors, Health Marketeers, Health Policy Makers, Hospital Administrators.
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Social Media Implementation Checklist

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

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

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Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
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#Formdox integrates perfectly with several #functionalities for the monitoring
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Getting Your Dermatology Website Under Potential Patients’ Skin

Getting Your Dermatology Website Under Potential Patients’ Skin | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

We get it. You can instantly distinguish between an actinic keratosis and a basil cell carcinoma. You understand “The Mask of Pregnancy” isn’t an Edgar Allan Poe story. You know when a mole merits your attention or when it’s the harmless Cindy Crawford variety.

And you’re surely not going to confuse contact dermatitis with contact your dermatologist.

But it’s that last part where your dermatology practice runs into difficulty. You know the human body’s largest organ, the skin, but digital marketing can be as much a mystery as to why people believe 100 SPF sunscreen should cost five times as much as 30 SPF (it shouldn’t!).

You left a group practice and set out on your own. But now you can’t rely on the group’s other doctors to refer you for skin problems. Now you have to make this work on your own. To do that, you need an online presence where people looking for their friendly neighborhood dermatologist find you.

Your website and digital presence has taken over much of the job formerly done by yellow pages listings, newspaper ads, even radio commercials. Today’s successful dermatology website must act as practice tour guide, educational reference, and salesman. Your dermatology practice marketing plan has to include a social media component. It has to work hard in local rankings. It has to have consistent information across directories and listings. And, like it or not, your dermatology practice marketing needs to manage your online reputation.

Optimizing Your Site

In the old days, many dermatologists could build a practice based on a few successful acne treatments. Teens can really spread the word about the doc who cleared up their moonscape complexions! While word of mouth is still unbeatable, there’s more competition today and your website has to tell potential patients you are on the cutting edge of the best practices in dermatology.

If a person puts in a long tail search, “What if my mole is asymmetrical?” Google takes it very personally to return search results that deliver answers to that question. A salon that offers skin care products isn’t what the searcher is looking for, even though they backloaded a bunch of dermatology keywords into the back end of their site. Google wants happy searchers that can actually find an answer to their question.

Words Are Like Smooth Skin Without Age Spots

Today, Google values content for search. The days of keywords boosting your site in search are over. Sure, keywords still are important to help the massive Google algorithm understand what your site is all about, but content is even more important. Detailed pages on each service you offer give the algorithm plenty to chew on when your website is crawled. That way, if you want to be known for skin cancer detection, treatment, and excision, the more those terms show up on your site the more likely Google will rank you higher in search. Google will be very happy if a person searches for “Will skin cancer kill me?” and then it searches your site and finds a blog on that very topic.

Google now rewards sites with extensive information. Don’t bunch your injectables all on one page. Have one page for Botox, maybe another for the Juvederm line, maybe another for the Restylane line. And Google wants to see your site is continually updated and provides fresh content, such as new blogs.

For most dermatologists, writing new web pages and monthly blogs isn’t something they feel comfortable with. That’s where our stable of Advice Media writers come to the rescue, not unlike you freezing a patient’s pre-cancerous actinic keratosis before it becomes a basil cell carcinoma!

Social Media Is Not Like A Blemish

Whether you personally use or like social media isn’t the point. Your current and prospective patients are using it. Imagine a blemish-prone 15-year-old high school girl trying to get help with her blossoming acne. Her Mom brushed her off, muttering something that sounded like Clearasil. But when she’s online, she can easily find some of your happy patients bragging about their clear skin on your practice Facebook page.

Social media has become a tool for potential patients to find medical practices, especially for specialties like dermatology. Current patients also use it to get to know more about the practice. For instance, an Accutane treatment isn’t a one-appointment deal; the whole process takes months. Patients like to see when the person who checked them in got a new dog. Or when another patient who actually went through the Accutane process posts about how well it worked on your page.

We understand this may not be your forte. That’s why at Advice Media we offer our Social Power service that includes three posts per week on Facebook and/or Google+. Or, if you want to handle this stuff, we show you what to do and how to do it.

Everyone’s A Critic…Or Maybe A Fan

Today everyone’s a reviewer. Did you see “Black Panther?” Write a review and post it on Rotten Tomatoes. Were you checking out cars at the local dealership and the salesman gave you an obnoxious hard sell? Tell the world about it on Yelp!

The same is true for the medical world. There are plenty of review sites, from Yelp! to Healthgrades to RateMDs, and everything in between. Your dermatology practice reputation matters out there because potential patients use ratings to narrow down potential practices they may investigate further.

It’s important for your practice (and in search) to have lots of ratings and for your practice to respond to any negative ratings. If you receive a less than stellar review, but you address the problem and the original reviewer amends the review telling how you listened and responded to his or her concerns, this goes a long way with a potential patient.

At Advice Media, we’ll show you how to (and not to) respond to reviews on the various sites. We’ll help you keep track of reviews. And we’ll show you various ways to get your patients to submit reviews, which tells Google your practice is vibrant and popular.

Name, Address, And Phone

When Google uses an algorithm that has some two billion lines of code, you wouldn’t think it could get tripped up by a hyphen versus a dot or “Drive” versus “Dr.” There you’d be wrong. Google is like an obsessive decorator who needs every knick-knack in exactly the right spot. If the NAP (name, address, and phone) for your dermatology practice is different in different locations across various directories, Google gets confused. If in one listing you’re on 321 Elm DR, but it’s 321 Elm Drive on another that’s inconsistent. If your phone is (321) 321-3211 in one listing, but 321.321.3211 in another that’s inconsistent.

Making sure your contact information is the same across all directories can get pretty tedious, but we can help you with that. At Advice, we have a tool we call Local Power that provides a dashboard ensuring all of your information is the same across the web. Plus, it allows you to post changes to holiday or summertime office hours and other issues that can otherwise create inconsistent listings.

Dermatology practice marketing is definitely a brave new world in some regards. The digital aspects such optimizing your website for organic search can seem bewildering. That’s as it should be — you know skin, not keywords or site directories.

At Advice Media we have a stellar reputation for building beautiful dermatology practice websites, and then staying on the cutting edge of how to optimize those sites so they are seen by patients and potential patients. From providing the content that Google craves to corralling your online reputation, we’re the industry leader for a reason. Let us put our expertise to work for your dermatology practice marketing.

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Researchers Turn to Facebook to Survey Rare Disease Patients for Study

Researchers Turn to Facebook to Survey Rare Disease Patients for Study | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

As Facebook is going through the biggest crisis in the company’s history related to the protection of its users' privacy, the platform continues to be a useful tool for researchers looking to connect with rare disease patients for their studies.

At the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics annual meeting here yesterday, Nara Sobreira, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, described how she used the social media platform to contact patients with two rare diseases she has been studying — Ollier disease and Maffucci syndrome — to survey them for a study that also involved data from a review of the clinical literature.

 
Both diseases are characterized by enchondromas — benign bone tumors originating from cartilage — that start in early childhood. Surgery is the only treatment, and the genetic basis of the disorders is not completely understood. In addition to enchondromas, patients may develop a variety of malignant tumor types, such as gliomas, leukemia, and sarcomas, but the prevalence of these cancers in the two conditions has not been studied yet.

To change that, Sobreira and her team took a two-pronged approach: surveying patients that are members of Facebook groups and reviewing patient data from hundreds of published papers.

After obtaining IRB approval from their institution and being admitted to six private Facebook groups that count a total of about 300 patient families as their members, the researchers posted an announcement that described their study and contained a link to a survey with 90 questions. So far, families of 126 Ollier disease patients and 36 Maffucci syndrome patients located in 21 countries on five continents have answered the survey. Sobreira said the response rate increases each time she reposts the survey, about every other month.

In parallel, the researchers have been analyzing data from 460 publications describing a total of 162 Ollier disease patients and 199 Maffucci syndrome patients. Because they made it into the clinical literature, these cases likely represent extremes, Sobreira cautioned, so they may overestimate the actual prevalence of cancer.

Indeed, about 53 percent of the Ollier disease patients described in the literature had malignant tumors compared to only 25 percent of the Ollier disease patients surveyed. Also, 16 percent of the literature cases but only 2 percent of those surveyed had brain cancer, but this could also mean that families of patients with brain cancer just did not answer the survey, Sobreira said. For Maffucci syndrome, the comparison was more difficult because the number of survey respondents was small compared to the literature cases.

Besides data on cancer types and age at diagnosis, the survey also revealed some other interesting findings. For example, five patients said they had a family history of enchondromas, which is unusual for the diseases.

Further analysis of the survey results will provide a better picture of the two disorders, she said, and will guide her team's genome studies. So far, they have performed whole-exome sequencing for 30 patients, and the plan is to do whole-genome sequencing and other analyses in 100 patients.

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Is social media the way to empower patients to share their experiences of dental care?

Is social media the way to empower patients to share their experiences of dental care? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Background

Social media present opportunities to understand patient experience and information needs. In this study, the authors use hypodontia as an example to explore social media use by dental patients and how this provides for understanding patient experience.

Methods

The cross-sectional survey design involved systematic search of 6 social media online environments with hypodontia-related terms. The authors categorized records by using a coding system for user, type and theme of post, and target audience. The authors used a thematic framework approach to analyze qualitatively the word content of posts from people affected by hypodontia (nondentists).

Results

The authors searched and identified 571 records and included 467 of them in their study. The authors analyzed the content of records from people affected by hypodontia (n = 176). Themes emerged about the experience of untreated hypodontia, treatment experience and outcomes, and decision making. Content analysis provided evidence about peer-to-peer communication, areas of information need, and desire for peer support.

Conclusions

Social media communities have responded to the need for information exchange and peer support by the public. Analysis of communications helped identify a need for dissemination of understandable information to patients and improved dentist awareness of patient needs.

Practical Implications

Clinicians should reassess understanding and information needs actively throughout treatment and identify support needs. Clinicians should refer patients to quality information sources and peer support groups.

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Online Education Improves Adherence in Young Patients With Lupus 

Online Education Improves Adherence in Young Patients With Lupus  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Key points
• It is feasible to create educational online content that may help young people manage their lupus.

• Online lupus education improved hydroxychloroquine adherence in adolescents and young adults.

• The addition of social media support further increased adherence in this population.

Background
Difficulties that adult patients have in coping with and managing systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are compounded in young adults and adolescents, who are less prepared for the burden. Self-management is crucial to medication adherence, which in turn is crucial to disease control in lupus.

Scalzi and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University in Hershey point out that where SLE education is concerned, little is known about how to target adolescents, an age group with a complex set of emotional and developmental needs.1

Widespread use of social media and technology in general by young adults and adolescents may represent an effective means of empowering those with SLE to take self-management seriously—in addition to providing them with a resource to learn about their disease.

The authors examined the feasibility of recruitment for a trial that looked at the effect of participation in an online educational website for adolescents and young adults with SLE. They compared participation levels in subjects with and without social media inclusion. Recently, they presented their findings in Pediatric Rheumatology.

The study
The authors created a publicly available website (www.facinglupustogether.com), which contains educational content about lupus. Twenty-seven subjects with SLE between the ages of 13 and 23 years completed the study. The subjects visited the website and completed educational modules.

Feasibility outcomes included recruitment, compliance, and dropout proportions. The secondary outcome was adherence to prescribed hydroxychloroquine.

The results
• 26% of the controls and 28% of the social media subjects were lost to follow-up because they did not complete all of the online questionnaires at T0 and/or T1.

• No statistical difference was found between the control and social media groups with regard to dropout (P = .8).

• 86% of subjects completed the first set of surveys, and 73% completed both sets.

• The percentage of all subjects “adherent” to prescribed hydroxychloroquine (those with a medication possession ratio of ≥ 0.8, or 80%) improved from 54% to 79% (P = .07).

• Sense of agency and sense of community improved significantly in subjects in the social media group.

 

Implications for clinicians
• Make use of every tool you can to reach patients with SLE—particularly young people, who have not yet developed good self-management skills.

• For better or worse, social media and the Internet are a large part of young people’s lives and as such are a way to reach them.

• Following your young SLE patients through social media and supplying them with an online community where they can receive knowledge and support may improve treatment adherence and ultimately quality of life.

Disclosures: 

The Lupus Foundation of America and the Children’s Miracle Network provided funding for the project.

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When does physicians’ online branding, advertising go too far?

When does physicians’ online branding, advertising go too far? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

The April issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® (@JournalofEthics) considers plastic and reconstructive surgeons’ potential conflicts of interests in commercial self-promotion and advertising, the roles of some plastic surgeons in endorsing aesthetic norms that can be harmful to patients, and standards according to which plastic and reconstructive surgeons should be trained.

Take a moment to consider this question: Is it ethical for plastic surgeons to post photos and videos of procedures on social media?

  • Yes, if the surgeon receives consent to post the photos and videos from the patient before the surgery takes place.
  • Yes, if the surgeon provides the photos and videos to the patient and receives permission to post them after the surgery.
  • Yes, even if the patient has not consented, if the photos are deidentified.
  • No, this is never acceptable.

Give your answer and find responses to this question in the April issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics, which also explores ethical questions in plastic and reconstructive surgery involving informed consent, risk disclosure, and the roles of values such as cosmesis and functioning in clinical decision-making.

Articles include:

When is Advertising a Plastic Surgeon’s Individual ‘Brand’ Unethical?” Advertising a plastic surgery practice on social media is fraught with practical and ethical challenges. In this article, the authors explore the range of potential harms to patient well-being and the pitfalls of social media activity, especially marketing. They also consider the relative benefits that such online patient-clinician relationships can provide.

When is Posting About Patients on Social Media Unethical ‘Medutainment’?” In plastic surgery, platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are especially attractive for practice promotion and instantaneous connection with potential patients. However, considerable risks and ethical dilemmas lie in wait for plastic surgeons who use patients’ photographs and videos for advertising. It is critical for plastic surgeons who use patients’ images for this purpose to facilitate fully informed consent, consider both context of use and the patient-physician power differential, and put patients’ interests ahead of their own.

Can Plastic Surgeons Maintain Professionalism within Social Media?” Social media allows patients to compare themselves to a much wider, if not global, set of peers that might further exacerbate their anxieties about their appearance. Plastic surgeons should ensure that using patients’ images does not violate their privacy or create unreasonable expectations about possible post-surgica results; nor should plastic surgeons’ marketing objectify women or reduce women’s humanity to their body parts.

Facial Disfigurement and Identity: A Review of the Literature and Implications for Facial Transplantation.” Facial disfigurement can significantly affect personal identity and access to social roles. Although conventional reconstruction can have positive effects with respect to identity, these procedures are often inadequate for more severe facial defects. In these cases, facial transplantation (FT) can offer patients viable reconstructive options.

However, FT’s effect on personal identity has been less well examined, and ethical questions remain regarding the procedure’s psychosocial ramifications. This article reviews the literature on the different roles of a person’s face as well as psychological and social effects of facial disfigurement. This article is associated with an enduring continuing medical education activity that the AMA has designated for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

Listen and discuss

In the journal’s April podcast, plastic and reconstructive surgery resident Shane Morrison, MD, and medical student Cedar Neary discuss the meaning of surgical justice and how plastic surgeons can use this concept to deliver better care to their patients in the field of gender-affirming surgery. Listen to previous episodes of the podcast, “Ethics Talk,” or subscribe in iTunes or other podcast distribution platforms.

Meanwhile, the AMA Journal of Ethics Discussion Forum will explore ethical risks and benefits of using social media for marketing and education. The discussionruns from April 11–18. Join the discussion forum to learn from experts on the topic and ask questions.

Submit manuscripts and artwork

The journal’s editorial focus is on commentaries and articles that offer practical advice and insights for medical students and physicians. Submit a manuscript for publication. The journal also invites original photographs, graphics, cartoons, drawings and paintings that explore ethical dimensions of health or health care.

A look ahead

Upcoming issues of the AMA Journal of Ethics will focus on trauma surgery ethics, ethics in burn care, and religion and spirituality in health care practice. Sign up to receive email alerts when new issues are published.

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Using Social Media for Public Health, Patient Behavior Change

Using Social Media for Public Health, Patient Behavior Change | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Social media can be an effective tool for disseminating public health messages and support better patient access to mental healthcare, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

“Given the broad reach of social media, it has been leveraged as a communication mechanism for a range of different health interventions, including smoking cessation, alcohol awareness, HIV prevention, childhood obesity, sexual health practices, and mental health awareness,” the researchers said. “However, it is not certain whether these types of social media campaigns actually influence the behaviors of intended audiences or the health care system in measurable ways.”

The researchers looked at the impact of social media in facilitating more widespread access of mental health services among adolescents and young adults. The 2011 Bell Let’s Talk campaign hosted by a Canadian telecommunications company used the Twitter platform to efficiently spread mental health awareness and reduce mental health stigma.

The campaign also donated $.05 to mental health awareness for each interaction the @Bell_LetsTalk account received.

More awareness about mental health treatment and reducing the stigma often associated with mental health treatment access may help encourage some patients to utilize treatments when they otherwise would not have done so, the researchers hypothesized.

READ MORE: Public Health Pros Use Twitter for Patient Education Messages

 

The researchers analyzed mental health treatment access patterns for patients between ages 10 and 24 before and after the Bell Let’s Talk campaign on Twitter.

The analysis of over 2 million mental health care visits annually between 2002 and 2015 showed temporal increases in care access during the Twitter campaigns. This means that each year during which the campaign ran, mental healthcare access saw a spike amongst adolescent and young adult patients.

Following the month-long campaigns, visit rates either decreased or plateaued, the researchers found.

Additionally, the researchers found an overall increase in mental health visits during the study period. Mental health visits in primary care settings increased for adolescent females (ages 10 to 17) from 10.2 per 1,000 patients in 2006 to 14.1 per 1,000 patients in 2015. That rate increased for males from 9.7 per 1,000 patients to 9.8 per 1,000 patients.

Adults accessing mental healthcare in the primary care setting also saw increases. Adult females saw care access increases from 26.5 per 1,000 patients in 2006 to 29.2 per 1,000 patients in 2015. Males saw increases from 16.6 per 1,000 patients to 20.3 per 1,000 patients.

 

 

The researchers also noted treatment access increases in outpatient psychiatric care settings for both adolescent and young adult males and females.

There were larger increases in mental health treatment utilization for females than there were for males, the researchers noted.

“Previous research exploring gender differences related to youth accessing mental health have identified females as possessing greater willingness to seek help,” the team stated. “This alone does not provide sufficient explanation related to the further increased mental health visit rate trend observed in females compared with males.”

For example, there are certain social media trends that impact females more than males, the team posited. The societal pressure for narrow body image and lifestyle ideals on individual platforms may have an impact on the rate at which females both need and access mental health treatment.

On the whole, the year-over-year increase the researchers observed in light of the campaign was not groundbreaking, the team conceded. However, the design of the Twitter campaign may have been the reason for that.

 

 

“As the Bell Let’s Talk campaign was primarily designed to generate awareness surrounding mental health and stigma, the lack of a substantive step change in health care utilization from normal levels is not surprising,” the researchers said.

The campaign did not have proactive elements that are usually associated with more dramatic spikes in health behavior change, the researchers explained.

“The 2012 Bell Let’s Talk campaign generated awareness related to a gradual change in behavior, rather than immediately triggering individuals with latent mental health concerns to seek formal mental health services,” the team pointed out. “Therefore, although we hypothesized that the campaign would encourage individuals to seek mental health services, the real outcomes of this campaign were likely more related to societal awareness, rather than discrete outpatient mental health system utilization.”

Previous research has also found that social media, and Twitter specifically, can support broad dissemination of certain public health initiatives. Specifically, public health professionalsreportedly find Twitter useful for sharing patient education messages.

Bearing in mind the efficacy for Twitter to spread public health information, it would be useful for organizations to understand the best practices for doing so. A more targeted campaign with specific calls to action may help lead to more health behavior change.

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Social Media and HIPAA: What Are You Doing to Mitigate Your Risks?

Social Media and HIPAA: What Are You Doing to Mitigate Your Risks? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Employees’ social media use can cause significant liability for healthcare providers who are subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”). When posting to social media, the lines between what is personal and professional are often blurred, especially when employees develop close relationships with their patients. The Office for Civil Rights’ (“OCR”)1increased enforcement of HIPAA during the past few years makes it even more critical that health care organizations ensure they are addressing the risks associated with their employees’ social media use because such disclosures would likely constitute breaches requiring notification to both the patient and OCR. This article focuses on health care providers’ liability under HIPAA, but providers must also consider various state laws and employment issues when addressing employees’ social media use.

What is PHI?

As a starting point, health care organizations should ensure employees have a clear understanding of what constitutes protected health information (“PHI”) under HIPAA. A common misconception is that PHI only includes an individual’s name and health information, such as a diagnosis or other treatment information. The definition of PHI, however, is very broad and includes any individually identifiable health information held by a covered entity, in any form or medium, that relates to an individual’s physical or mental health or condition, or the provision of or payment for the provision of healthcare to the individual, and for which there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be used to identify the individual.2 For example, a nurse’s Facebook post describing a patient’s condition may violate HIPAA even if it does not contain the patient’s name or other identifiers. If the patient is a celebrity or is being treated as a result of an incident that received significant media attention, it could take very little information to be able to identify the individual. In addition, employees may not realize that posting photographs of a patient without first obtaining a signed authorization from the patient may also violate HIPAA.

Responding to Patient Reviews

Health care organizations must take HIPAA into consideration when addressing patients’ online posts and reviews on websites such as Yelp and Google. Because confirming that an individual is a patient constitutes PHI, providers should only respond to reviews generally and should not disclose any information specific to the patient. For example, if a patient writes a Yelp review stating that a dentist at XYZ Dental was rude to him, XYZ Dental may respond to the review by including a statement such as, “XYZ Dental values all of our patients and treats every patient with respect.” But, XYZ Dental may not include any specific references to the patient’s condition and/or treatment in the response because doing so would likely violate HIPAA.

Policies and Training

In order to help minimize HIPAA violations resulting from employees’ social media use, health care organizations should implement policies that specifically address the issues associated with social media use. An organization’s social media policy should prohibit the use of personal devices to photograph or film patients and should include examples of posts that would violate HIPAA. Specifically, organizations should include sample posts that do not mention a patient’s name but contain enough information to create a reasonable basis that the individual could be identified based on the post, to ensure employees have a clear understanding of the types of posts that are prohibited and how broadly the regulations can be interpreted. An organization should also address the proper protocol for responding to online reviews and include examples of permitted responses. Once an organization has developed its social media policy, the next step is ensuring employees know what the policy says. Training on social media use should also include examples of posts that employees may not realize violate HIPAA.

Incident Response

If an organization experiences an incident involving an impermissible disclosure of PHI via social media, despite implementing policies and training, the organization should investigate the incident immediately and take steps to mitigate any harm caused by the disclosure. Such steps should include ensuring the post has been removed and that the responsible employee has been sanctioned, as well as providing the employee with additional training on the proper use of social media. If the organization determines that the disclosure constitutes a breach under HIPAA, then it should also provide the required notifications pursuant to the Breach Notification Rule. As with any internal investigation, an organization will want to maintain thorough documentation of its investigation and any subsequent mitigation steps, in case OCR opens an investigation into the incident. Consultation with legal counsel is also advised.

Conclusion

Because it is unlikely that social media use will decline anytime soon, it is increasingly important for health care organizations to take immediate preventative steps to minimize the risks associated with such use. By implementing policies and procedures that specifically address employees’ use of social media and training employees on those policies and procedures, organizations can greatly reduce the risk of experiencing a HIPAA breach and any subsequent OCR review.

1 OCR is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for enforcing the HIPAA Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Rules.
2 45 C.F.R. § 160.103.

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6 Ways You Can Stay HIPAA Compliant with Digital Marketing

6 Ways You Can Stay HIPAA Compliant with Digital Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Successful medical practice managers and physicians have embraced digital marketing and social media as a sustainable, cost-effective and measureable tool to attract and retain patients. Last year alone, 77% of patients searched their physician online before booking an appointment. The challenge for healthcare providers has been to stay HIPAA compliant with digital marketing efforts.

You obviously want to make use of your digital footprint and social networks to grow your patient base, right? But it’s important to balance the benefits and risks of being online and to maximize the use of digital channels within your overall marketing strategy while still ensuring proper HIPAA compliance.

Providing training and conducting compliance checks to practice managers and admin staff is pivotal to effectively mitigate the risks associated with today’s marketing landscape. When ineffectively managed, online breaches of HIPAA standards can harm patient privacy, lead to legal sanctions, and cause irreversible reputational damage for you and your practice.

In this article, we’ll break down what you need to do to remain HIPAA compliant online so you can reap the many rewards the digital world has to offer.

1. Actively Inform and Manage Privacy Concerns

When it comes to health information, you must respect the privacy and act in accordance with the preferences of your patients. In other words, you can only communicate directly with patients regarding their health information over social media channels if you’ve received their express permission to do so and you have made them aware of the risks associated with such communication through disclaimers on your website and in your practice brochures.

You may even want to be proactive and create a patient information leaflet geared entirely to the use of social media and outlining your practice’s social media and digital policy. Establishing your practice’s own online and social media code of conduct and ensuring it is understood and implemented by your employees will go a long way toward your practice steering clear of HIPAA disclosure violations.

Last year alone, 77% of patients searched their physician online before booking an appointment.

If you’re new to social media and Facebook, you’ll need to become well-versed in how the platform works and intimately understand its privacy settings and functioning. In this way, you can control the privacy settings your practice enables on its Facebook page and ensure that private patient messages and information stay private. By familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs of social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and understanding how information is transmitted within a given social media site, you can design your practice’s social media policy to address any HIPAA disclosure risks.

As a general rule of thumb, we recommend the elevator rule to the practice managers we serve every day. The elevator rule states that if you wouldn’t say your comment in public, or in an elevator full of people, then don’t say it on social media. And in the event that an improper disclosure does occur, you’ll also need to have a policy in place that guides how you’ll proceed to alleviate any potential damage.

In other words, if someone is asking a specific PHI-related question, politely ask them to give the office a call to protect their patient privacy rather than communicate the information on the web.

In today’s digital marketing world, we know exactly what works and how much it takes to attract and retain that coveted new patient. 

2. Keep Your Networks Secure

Research evidence shows that electronic communication with patients enhances patient care, boosts adherence for chronic disease patients, and can promote improved health outcomes. Also, patients may feel more satisfied by the increased communication with their doctors and having their questions or concerns addressed in real-time online.

Medical clinics and hospitals are starting to move in-person seminars (say for bariatrics) to live streams on Facebook to reach a larger audience with reduced costs. Moreover, these institutions are using the live feed to develop support groups by inviting current, former, and prospective clients to join and ask questions, gain insight, and garner support.

Therefore, with increased online connections, your practice needs to work closely with your IT department or internet service provider to establish strict security, access, and information sharing pathways.

Of utmost importance is reducing your exposure to a HIPAA violation via a 3rd party vendor. You need to have your business agreements in place with any 3rd party vendor to cover yourself in the event of an infraction. Without a signed business associate agreement, your practice will be the first in line for potential litigation; with the agreement, the 3rd party vendor is on the hook.

3. Be Mindful Before Posting

You must consider individual patient confidentiality before using their likeness in any way (that goes for images, testimonials, and letters). Have blank copies of standard photo and video release forms when filming patient testimonial videos or using patient photos or candids for marketing purposes.

As an example, an employee may post a photo of their lunch which might be lying inadvertently on top of a patient file, visible in the background of the post. Another thing to be mindful of is filming physicians in their office. It will be on your shoulders to make sure nothing is visible on the computer screen, and if it is, to blot it out (this can be done during editing or post-production). Such posts would be in clear violation of HIPAA disclosure rules. Moreover, you cannot share private details of past cases without prior written consent from the patient.

Remember, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, so even the slightest mishap on a photo or video can have serious repercussions.

4. Establish Roles in the Office

Everyone in your practice should know their role when it comes to your social media presence. This will help ensure compliance and save you headaches later on. When you first begin your efforts, decide which staff members will be able to coordinate, monitor, post and respond to social media messages or reviews left about the practice in general.

Establishing a chain of command will also help you quickly address issues should they arise down the road (pro tip: they will). Decide who will post photos, status updates, etc. and who will be their backup. Then choose if those same individuals will also respond to patient inquiries, health information requests, positive and negative reviews, and online complaints.

Having a few handcrafted responses ready to go will save you from scrambling around when you need to post a delicate and tactful reply. Here are a couple of response examples to both positive and negative online feedback:

Negative responses

  1. “We are sorry you were not satisfied with your visit to our office. In the medical field there can be unforeseen emergencies or patient needs that can set our calendar back. I can assure you the delay in your appointment was not intentional. If you are having an issue with our billing department, we invite you to contact our office so we can correct or clarify any misunderstanding about our policies. Thank you.”
  2. “We take feedback from our patients very seriously and are grateful you took the time to share your experience. We are sorry there seemed to have been a miscommunication with our office staff. Your concerns will be addressed. If we can be of further assistance please contact our office.”

Positive response

  1. “Thanks so much for those words of encouragement! It makes the work that much more rewarding. I feel blessed to have such wonderful patients and appreciate you sharing your thoughts with others.”

As the current scandal concerning Facebook and Cambridge Analytica suggests, potential violations of data usage can often be innocent and happen when not enough questions are asked.

We always tell our medical practice clients that today they need to be IN social media, not just ON it, to reach the right patient at the right time with the right message. However, that kind of public familiarity comes with its own risks where a HIPAA violation can happen without even realizing it.

5. Know the Difference Between HIPAA and FERPA

Many patients are under the assumption that athletic trainers (ATs) and educators are required by law to follow HIPAA. That is not technically the case. “Covered entities” under HIPAA must meet two requirements – those who: a) bill for services and b) file those bills electronically.  

ATs employed by educational institutions are usually required to follow FERPA (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), not HIPAA (because they do not bill).  However, FERPA does restrict access to the student’s records (which includes the student-athlete file).

ATs employed by hospitals and clinics are usually considered “covered entities” under HIPAA, however, there is some confusion and potential loopholes if the ATs are not part of the bill. ATs employed at universities may need to adhere to both because there is often significant confusion (for example, many sports medicine departments do not bill, but are a part of student health which is clearly HIPAA).

The bottom line is that most ATs follow HIPAA because it is good practice and because they are required by their Code of Ethics to protect patient privacy.

6. Hire a Professional to Take Care of the Headaches

If you don’t have the time or the resources to handle effective online HIPAA-compliant management, you can always invest in training your employees or turn the work over to someone who does it for a living and has a tried and true record with digital medical marketing.

The HIPAA stakes online being so high, hiring a partner can save you time, money, stress, and headaches down the road.

Being online provides medical practices with digital marketing tools to connect with patients and improve their care and health outcomes like never before. With proper management and organization, your office can have a strong online and social media presence while remaining HIPAA compliant.

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Gabriel David's curator insight, April 23, 10:34 AM
Successful medical practice managers and physicians have embraced digital marketing and social media as a sustainable, cost-effective and measureable tool to attract and retain patients. Last year alone, 77% of patients searched their physician online before booking an appointment.
Gabriel David's curator insight, April 23, 10:37 AM
Successful medical practice managers and physicians have embraced digital marketing and social media as a sustainable, cost-effective and measureable tool to attract and retain patients. Last year alone, 77% of patients searched their physician online before booking an appointment.
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The Digitally Empowered Patient: Towards Self Health Management

The Digitally Empowered Patient: Towards Self Health Management | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Recently, a close acquaintance of mine was diagnosed with amblyopia, commonly known as ‘lazy eye’. Doctors recommended wearing an eye patch and some routine exercises. As a curious caregiver, I decided to dig deeper and understand more about this condition. I found many people with the same condition discussing their experiences across online channels. I was also able to note down some of the treatment options and consult with our doctor before we could start on the same.

This episode made me realize that both patients and caregivers are increasingly relying on digital touch points, such as web, mobile, social media, and video, for finding information on disease conditions, patient assistance programs, and so on. DRG report on Digital Patient Journey states 69% patients look for online information while managing their condition, and 72% patients are interested in using digital patient support tools from pharma.

Emerging Digital Trends in Patient Engagement

Life sciences companies are focusing on keeping patients digitally informed with accurate medical information on diseases, related drugs, and devices through microsites, mobile apps, and informative videos. Rather than replacing healthcare providers (HCPs), the digital medium will complement the quality of healthcare available for patients. Platforms or patient healthcare portals such as ChARM PHR help users manage not just their personal health records and medication history but also care plans, immunization records, health and wellness tips, and so on. patientslikeme and other such patient networking portals connect people with similar medical conditions and help them better understand medication regime, side effects, and cost impact, among others.

In such patient networks, some members are key influencers or ‘digital opinion leaders’. Life sciences companies can collaborate with these community leaders to share their opinions and information related to new therapies, trials, and care methods with others. Social networking sites can also provide information on specific campaigns to access drug vouchers, coupons, health-tips, and so on. Companies are leveraging social media channels by creating community pages for disease condition information well within the required compliance and regulation. Unimetric’s report on pharma-social-media-trends states that most of the pharmaceutical companies are active on five out of six social networks with the majority preferring Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube. MerckEngage is one such communication channel available across social media.

Digital technologies are now being leveraged to reduce medication non-adherence too with mobile-based trackers and schedulers, sensor-based devices such as inhalerssmart pillbox, and smart pills. Sensor-enabled medical devices such as oximeter and blood glucose monitor are capturing vital health stats for patients using their smartphones. These are transmitted to physicians and care teams, who provide patient-specific recommendations.

Enhanced Self Care by Digitally Empowered Patients

Combined, these trends are directing patients towards self-health management. Immersive solutions too are playing a vital part in helping patients manage their health conditions. Many are using virtual reality (VR) devices for understanding disease conditions, playing virtual games for stress and pain management, and so on. Artificial intelligence (AI) based virtual medical assistants (such as Melody) are guiding patients based on indicated symptoms or related questions. These bots are trained on medical terms, texts, and content to support patients and caregivers.

Pharma companies now must focus more on personalized content and targeted messaging – on the patient’s preferred channel, anytime, anywhere— for effective self-care. For this, patient data can be collected from various platforms, solutions, and channels available to gain actionable insights. In turn, this will help pharma companies improve their medical products. GSK and Merck are already making headway in that direction.

Empowering patients should also involve innovations in the form of drones delivering medicine supplies to remote places, brochures and leaflets to health camps, and so on; or GPS and sensor technologies transferring health vitals from remote location via drones. Care teams including HCPs can recommend digital services (which may include games) to patients for stress management, relaxation, additional medical information and so on.

How else do you think digital technologies will make self-health management easier and more effective? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Simple Ways to Engage Patients and Build Your Practice

Simple Ways to Engage Patients and Build Your Practice | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

With technology and social media invading every corner of our lives, an increasing number of channels are becoming available for you to engage your patients. Utilizing these new ways to engage your patients can lead to stable relationships, more referrals, and potentially increased profit. And implementing an all-around effective patient engagement system can help position your practice more prominently in the minds of your patients, and in the long run, build your practice.

If you think you could engage your patients more than you do right now, follow our tips on how to fully engage and connect with your patients.

Email Marketing – Emailing is becoming the standard mode of communication for businesses. And who knows how many of your patients are using their smartphones daily to keep updated on their email. Send out newsletters, confirmation messages, and group messages to your patients’ email to keep them posted on their appointments, office updates, and promotions.

Read about how to get started with email marketing in this article

Social Media – You may not realize it, but most of your patients are probably on Facebook and Twitter. It’s as easy as 20 minutes a day to post updates, news, promotions, and more onto your social pages. And it’s even easier for your patients to follow, like, respond or comment.

Tips for running an effective social media campaign can be found in this post

Online Marketing – Your online presence allows your patients and prospects to feel more connected toyour practice since you are more accessible through the Internet. Search engine optimization (SEO) or search engine marketing (SEM) can help increase your visibility in search engine result pages, such as Google, and allow your patients to easily connect with you.

Learn more about SEO in this article

Blog – A blog plays such a large role in your social media marketing that we are putting it in its own category. A blog allows your practice to create a second website where your patients go to find reliable and useful information. By writing interesting posts or exclusive promos, you are introducing your patients to a more personal level of your practice. Take full advantage of your blog and reach out to patients and even prospects.

Download a year's worth of blog topics here.

Text Messages – Some people prefer to talk via text on their cell phones rather than deal with a phone call. Connect with your patients by texting them appointment reminders and messages. They are sure to be impressed by the tech-savvy move, while also being grateful for the convenient mode of communication and engagement.

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3 Ways Social Media Has Changed Patient Care |

3 Ways Social Media Has Changed Patient Care | | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Just a few years ago, no one would have imagined that the same media that hosts millions of selfies, silly emojis, made-up hashtags and virtual friends would have much impact on the life-and-death world of healthcare.

 

But it has.

 

In fact, social media in healthcare seems to have exploded. And it is transforming patient care as it spreads through many facets of healthcare delivery.

 

Whether you tweet, post pictures and videos on Instagram or keep it original with Facebook, there’s a strong possibility that social media has impacted the way that you practice medicine or interact with patients.

 

How many patients are using social media?

 

Physicians are discovering that they need to be on social media because patients are—in droves. The statistics are eye-opening.

 

PewResearch, a non-partisan think tank, found that 74 percent of internet users engage on social media. Among those internet users, 80 percent are specifically looking for health information, and nearly half are searching for information about a specific doctor or health professional.

 

That means that millions of patients are seeking out health information online every single day!

 

Physicians using social media can tap into this trend and enjoy increased engagement with current patients, while they promote their services more effectively to potential patients.

 

But it’s about more than just marketing. Research conducted a by Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group found that nearly 60 percent of doctors admit social media improves the quality of care provided to patients.

 

Social Media in Healthcare: 3 Key Changes

 

Here’s a look at the top three ways that social media has changed patient care:

1. Increased communication and connection

At its very core, social media was created to connect and unify communities and make it easier for people to interact with one another. Despite some risks for misuse, social media in healthcare can be a powerful tool to increase communication between clinical providers, patients and their healthcare networks.

 

Most hospitals, physicians and even insurance companies now have an active presence on social media outlets, and are leveraged to communicate important topics to patients.

 

From disease outbreak notices to tips on staying healthy during cold and flu season, physicians using social media can help bridge the gap between the provider and the patient--which makes for a more connected and unified healthcare experience.

 

FOLLOW Merritt Hawkins on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn or Google+ for the latest healthcare news and career opportunities.

2. Unfiltered feedback and access to reviews

 

Like it or not, patients can express their experiences about an interaction with a healthcare provider and then share that information online for everyone to see. News spreads quickly and reputations can be affected.

 

While most social media users understand that people are more likely to share bad experiences than positive ones, research shows that patients have come to trust the reviews they read online.

 

According to the website Mediabistro, more than 40 percent of customers say that the information found on social media impacts the way they handle their healthcare.

 

Not surprisingly, millennials are the most likely to rely on others’ opinions. Search Engine Watch reports that nearly 90 percent of them trust healthcare information shared by others on social media.

 

What does this mean for your practice? It’s critical for physicians using social media to build a community of trust and rapport with their patients.

 

In addition to the mainstream social media sites, there are various healthcare-specific social media networks, including PatientsLikeMe and HealthGrades. These popular sites let patients post feedback about their clinical experiences and connect with others who may have similar conditions and diseases.

 

HealthGrades also rates hospitals, which physicians and other practitioners could use to do some of their own comparisons when they are searching for employment or specific information.

3. Patient education and real-time information

 

This use of social media in healthcare can help educate patients and provide instant access to physicians. This is made possible by social media features that allow users to relay media, information, images and video in real time.

 

One notable example was a live-tweeting event that involved St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2013, the hospital conducted a unique project where they live-tweeted a total knee replacement surgery. The surgery garnered almost 400 participants following along on Twitter and 3,000 over live-stream video.

 

Their hashtag #stvknee was a trending tag throughout the entire process, and the positive response caused many other facilities to copy this approach.

 

Other hospitals have used live-social media usage to share emergency information or fundraise for special causes.

 

Patient education is also a crucial part of the “information now” era where people can google a symptom and connect with a doctor or other clinician virtually via phone or web. A lot of what patients find online can be helpful, but they can also find a lot of half-truths and misleading information.

 

Healthcare practitioners who create and share useful content and are responsive to patients have the opportunity to become a trusted source of information.

 

Navigating the world of online interactions isn’t easy, but it has become part of the job for most medical practitioners. Physicians who embrace social media in healthcare can find a lot of positive outcomes.

 

MERRITT HAWKINS leads the nation in recruiting and placing physicians and advanced practitioners in top jobs across the country. We are committed to the healthcare industry and enabling clinicians and facility clients to consistently execute on their mission of patient care.

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Facebook's Medical Research Project Shows It Just Doesn't Understand Consent

Facebook's Medical Research Project Shows It Just Doesn't Understand Consent | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Stanford University initially responded that the CNBC reporting was "inaccurate." When pressed on the specific inaccuracies, the university issued a second statement this morning confirming the CNBC article in its entirety, stating that there had indeed been conversations with Facebook and as CNBC reported, the project is still in the planning stages on a temporary pause. The university did not respond to any of the questions posed to it regarding its view of the ethics of the proposed project or how the university saw the proposed project complying with its data ethics rules.

Just as it seemed Facebook couldn’t outdo itself after weeks of ever more frightening disclosures and leaks about its perspective on privacy, CNBC broke the story this afternoon of a secret Facebook research project involving harvesting our private medical information from a group of major hospitals, with the hospitals’ full permission, but without ever informing patients their anonymized medical information was being handed to Facebook and without ever asking their consent. It seems Facebook simply doesn’t understand the very concept of informed consent.

The secret proposed Facebook project apparently never got beyond the planning stages and no data was actually exchanged. The company did not respond to a request for more details, but at its gist it appears the idea was for both Facebook and the hospitals to hash identifying information and merge Facebook’s social understanding of a user with their hospital’s medical understanding of them. Hashing would ensure that directly identifiable information was removed from the records and ensure only anonymized records were exchanged.

 

Of course, past history with deanonymized datasets offers little reassurance that simple hashing would fully preserve privacy, especially given past reidentification from similar attempts at anonymized medical research datasets.

It is also unclear precisely what provisions or exemptions under HIPAA the project was expected to operate under, though such research-oriented efforts have a number of avenues under HIPAA to avoid requesting user consent.

 

On the surface, Facebook’s proposed collaboration could certainly offer a number of beneficial new capabilities in improving the quality of care medical facilities can offer their patients, especially in identifying patients struggling with their care regimes, those lacking a support network to assist them in home recovery and those with lifestyles that might impact their recovery process.

The problem lies in how Facebook approached the project – in secret and allegedly with no intent of notifying patients or receiving any form of consent for their information to be shared with the social media giant. Speaking with two individuals familiar with the project, CNBC noted that “the issue of patient consent did not come up in the early discussions.”

Had Facebook structured the project from the very beginning as one that would be strictly opt-in, with the idea that patients would be given detailed information about it by their healthcare providers, informed of the risks and rewards and allowed to make an informed decision, there would likely have been little outcry. Indeed, some patients may have welcomed the ability to offer their caregivers greater insight into their lives in the hopes it would improve their medical outcomes.

Instead, Facebook’s intent to operate the program strictly in secret mirrors the way our medical information is commercialized everyday without our knowledge or informed consent and the company's broader view that its users have no digital rights. While the company and its hospital partners likely would have legal authority to repurpose and exchange patient data, public reaction really comes down to consent. Unfortunately, Silicon Valley and the international academic community have largely taken the stance that legal authority is all that is needed to harvest or repurpose user data – informed consent is entirely unnecessary.

The even greater problem here is the idea that Facebook itself would have access to all of this data. The Verge reports that while the intent was that data would never be deanonymized, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed that access to the anonymized records would have been provided to a select set of Facebook employees.

In my own career I’ve been involved in countless very similar projects involving merging highly sensitive datasets from multiple companies, including in regulated industries in which none of the companies were permitted by law to see the others’ data. In each case we would act as a “disinterested third party” in which all sides would hash the identifying information for each record and we would merge all of their datasets together and run all of the desired analyses, returning only aggregate statistics, such as the percent of users that had characteristic X or how highly correlated X and Y characteristics were. Each company would send their fully encrypted dataset via special courier to us, where we would decrypt it and store on a standalone system in a special secured room in a high security facility.

The idea that hospitals would transmit even hashed medical data to Facebook is simply beyond belief. It strains credibility that such a project even made it to the planning stage with active conversations with major hospitals.

On the other hand, at least some of the Facebook-related privacy concerns could have been avoided by using a similar third party approach to the analysis in which an accredited independent research organization would have received both the hashed hospital and Facebook data, merged them, performed all of the analyses and then destroyed the data. This would at the very least have shown Facebook to understand the unique privacy concerns around medical data, even if it did not understand the basics of informed consent.

CNBC reported that one of the hospitals in conversations with Facebook was Stanford Medical School. When reached for comment, the university pushed back on CNBC’s report, saying the article was “inaccurate” and that “Stanford has no such data sharing program.” When asked whether it was saying the university had never had any conversations with Facebook, or whether it was simply confirming that the project had never left the planning stage and thus there were no signed data sharing agreements in place, the university did not immediately respond.

In the past, however, the university has asserted that the public has absolutely no right of any kind to see the ethical justification for any of its data-driven research, even those projects that may involve their own data harvested from websites they use. In fact, Stanford’s stance has been that the public does not even have the right to know whether a given project was even subjected to ethical review of any kind, nor would it even confirm in the past whether its own rules and guidelines were adhered to in a given project.

It is also noteworthy that Facebook announced that it was merely “pausing” the project temporarily, rather than ending it, suggesting the company is merely waiting to ride out the current privacy storm before beginning again.

It is worth contrasting Facebook’s project with Estonia’s focus on data-driven medicine, including its new initiative launched last month to offer genetic testing to 100,000 of its residents as a first step towards eventually offering the service to its entire population – something its president touted this week in a visit to DC. The country views such data as making it possible to entirely reimagine personalized data-driven medical care.

Unlike Facebook’s proposed effort, Estonia’s initiative is based on a cornerstone of absolute control over one’s medical information. The 1999 Estonian Human Genes Research Act literally codified into law that a person who contributes their genetic information has absolute ownership and control over it and has the sole authority to decide who can see it and what can be done with it. The donor decides what studies they wish to make their information available to (if any) and can log into a secure system to see which of the studies they granted permission to actually ended up using their data. From the initial informed decision to contribute their genetic material to each individual access and use of that data, the individual remains in total control of their genetic information.

Putting this all together, Facebook’s proposed foray into medical research is as frightening as it is predictable: users are data points to be secretly exploited, rather than human individuals whose informed consent must be gained. In turn, its hospital partners would happily hand over their patients' most sensitive medical information to Facebook – again without any notification or consent. In Facebook’s world, as in the academic world from which it draws, informed consent is unnecessary when it comes to data – as long as the law says it is probably legal, there is no need to tell users about it or get their permission in any way. Contrast this with Estonia’s approach to data-driven medicine, in which the individual maintains absolute ownership and control over their data, deciding who can see it and why and with absolute visibility into every access they approve. Let’s hope that the future of data-driven medicine follows the Estonian way, not the Facebook way.

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Excessive Online Support Can Be Harmful to HIV Patients

Excessive Online Support Can Be Harmful to HIV Patients | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

From the beginning of the internet era, both HIV-positive people and heath care providers alike have sought medical information online. Over the course of the HIV epidemic, web-based platforms have grown in numbers and sophistication. However, because anyone can post virtually anything on the internet, it is necessary to employ both caution and critical thinking when attempting to self-diagnose a medical condition or to evaluate health care information, including implausible cures.

The internet has also provided a platform for online support groups, not just for HIV but for a variety of conditions, which have become prominent patient resources. Such web-based connections are valuable both for those individuals in remote or rural locations and for persons with highly stigmatized conditions such as HIV, who may be reluctant to reveal their status in person to others. It is often the very patients who are most stigmatized who have limited resources, live in isolation, and seek support from online health communities. There is no doubt that such online support groups have provided much-needed assistance, but is there a point at which the benefit of such groups peaks or even begins to diminish? A new study from the University of Buffalo School of Management indicates that too much online support can actually be deleterious to self-care behavior.

 

Study Concept

Despite the fact that participating individuals may not have met in person, online support groups benefit greatly from the willingness of their members to share their personal experiences of managing their illness. Such intimate stories add an emotional depth, a positive mood, and even inspiration to these interactions. Nevertheless, until this study, the impact of online support on actually improving HIV patient self-care behavior had not been specifically evaluated.


Related: The Company You Keep: Do Social Networks Influence HIV Status?

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The investigators began this evaluation with several specific approaches, the first of which postulated that a good mood and happiness expressed in online support groups may not necessarily translate into improved self-care (defined as the range of activities individuals undertake to enhance health, prevent disease, evaluate symptoms, and restore health).

They also identified sub-dimensions of "social support" to better capture subtle variations, by defining two major types of support: 1) informational support (including both objective information such as facts and statistics) along with experiential information (such as the actual experiences, insights, and strategies of other patients) and 2) emotional support consisting of an emotional tone (the intent to cheer or provide comfort) and community involvement (the extent to which online community members participate in conversation threads).

The authors predicted that with low levels of objective information (facts about HIV), patients would have limited understanding of their disease but that with increasing support they would become better informed and engage in greater levels of self-care behavior. However, beyond a certain threshold, the result could be information overload, resulting in stress for the patient and an actual decline in self-care. Additionally, the authors speculated that emotional support could inspire patients who see that others are successfully coping with HIV, thereby providing assurance and reinforcement. Yet, beyond a certain threshold of emotional input and feedback, those seeking support would begin to perceive an excessive emotional tone as "forced optimism," which might lead them to use negative coping strategies, such as denial and disengagement from self-care.

 

Methodology

The investigators analyzed over 30,000 conversational threads from five POZ forums with dates ranging from May 2006 to March 2017. These threads represented nearly 16,000 unique users and 330,000 posts. Text mining and linguistic analysis were utilized to develop libraries and self-generated dictionaries to measure both the emotional support and information the posts provided, including those resulting from objective sources and personal experience, as well as the level of self-care patients expressed in response. Sample threads were manually reviewed and coded by three different HIV experts to validate the measure of the dependent variable (self-care behavior). These results were further analyzed using regression models to identify relationships among the variables.

 

Findings

The authors did indeed find that, beyond a threshold, both informational and emotional online social support had an adverse impact on the self-care behavior of HIV patients. The results suggest that caution should be exercised in the use of online health community interventions for HIV patients, and perhaps for patients with other stigmatized chronic diseases, as well. The authors found an inverse-U relationship between both objective information and emotional tone impacting self-care behavior. That is, beyond a certain threshold, there are diminishing returns for such online support groups. Caution must therefore be exercised when using social media to provide objective information for HIV patients (and patients with other stigmatized conditions), as too much can be overwhelming, causing patients to give up on reading material that is essential for understanding and implementing appropriate health behaviors.

The authors also found that, to a point, higher levels of experiential information and community involvement were positively related to self-care behavior. The higher the level of experiential information provided by online community members who respond to an individual member, the more likely that member would engage in self-care behavior. Additionally, the higher the involvement of online community members who respond to an individual member, the more likely they would engage in self-care behavior. Yet, despite these positive influences on self-care behavior, there is a point beyond which excessive emotional and informational support can not only reduce levels of self-care behavior but actually reinforce negative coping mechanisms, such as denial and disengagement from self-care.

The authors plan to replicate this research for other highly stigmatized conditions. For those living with HIV, this study illuminates an important note of caution with online support groups. As noted, such virtual communities create life-saving connections for a broad array of individuals, but beyond a certain threshold, excessive emotional support or objective information can actually be deleterious to a person's level of self-care. This is important both for persons living with HIV and medical providers as we continue to develop self-care strategies that utilize technology but that also recognize the limits of patients' abilities to optimally integrate this support into their own management of HIV.

David Fawcett, Ph.D., LCSW, is a substance abuse expert, certified sex therapist and clinical hypnotherapist in private practice in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He is the author of Lust, Men and Meth: A Gay Man's Guide to Sex and Recovery.

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Facebook Knows a Ton About Your Health. Now It Wants to Profit From That.

Facebook Knows a Ton About Your Health. Now It Wants to Profit From That. | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Let's say you have had discussions about your breast cancer diagnosis on Facebook, a useful forum for comparing treatment options with others. There's only one problem: Facebook has now categorised you as a patient, and you constantly receive targeted ads about local cancer services that show up on your computer screen at work for all your co-workers to see, right when you're up for a big promotion.

Many users experience a version of this scenario when they receive creepily personalised ads while browsing on Facebook. When those ads follow users onto sites outside Facebook, it feels like an invasion of privacy. But how do you regulate data privacy in an age of big-data black boxes?

Mark Zuckerberg's testimony about the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal alerted users about what personal data Facebook routinely collects and shares with third-party apps. But many questions were left unanswered. How many apps are collecting this data, and what are they doing with it? Are there more Cambridge Analyticas out there? It took a political scandal to get the attention of Congress this time. Where will it happen next, and how long will it be before the public finds out?

While Zuckerberg claimed that even he is not fully aware of everything that happens in the Facebook digital economy, the evidence suggests that health-care information may lead to the next major data-related crisis.

In early April, MSNBC reported that Facebook recently launched a project based in its secretive "Building 8" group to get hospitals to share anonymised patient data with them. The project was reportedly put on hold in the wake of the current scandal, but the stated plan was to match hospitals' patient data on diagnoses and prescription information with Facebook so the company could combine that data with its own to construct digital profiles of patients.

Even setting aside the voluminous evidence showing that true anonymisation of data is virtually impossible, Facebook's stated intent was never to leave the data anonymised. But requesting the hospitals' data in that form would allow Facebook to sidestep the issue of obtaining patients' consent, as required by federal law.

The company has reason to believe that, if asked, patients would not consent to this practice. In 2016, Facebook was sued by a metastatic cancer patient who accused the company of violating his privacy by collecting data about his participation on cancer websites outside of Facebook. The case was dismissed and is under appeal, but this clearly has not stopped the company from pursuing data initiatives in health care.

Indeed, Zuckerberg admitted in his congressional testimony last week that Facebook does collect some medical data from users. Considering the large number of patient support groups on Facebook that use the site for peer-to-peer health care and social support, there is plenty of medically-relevant data to be mined. Membership in some patient groups numbers in the tens of thousands, with average daily posts of several hundred or more. A sampling of the types of data users post includes "tests, treatments, surgeries, sex drive, and relationships" on a breast cancer support site. Other data include location, personal profile information such as age, race, sex, educational background, employment, even cellphone numbers. In addition, many posts include photos that can be subjected to facial recognition software.

It is not surprising that Facebook wants to move into the digital health market: So does Amazon.com, Google, Apple, Uber and all of the other big tech companies. These businesses see an opportunity to profit from user's personal health data because, unlike narrowly defined medical data, health and wellness data is not considered protected health information and therefore is not protected by privacy laws.

In contrast to the personal data users might post on Facebook, patient records at hospitals and other covered entities are protected by privacy laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Yet, for years, patient data has been sold to medical data miners and brokers in a multibillion-dollar global trade. The pharmaceutical industry is a major player in this marketplace, spending billions of dollars annually on direct-to-consumer advertising aimed at influencing physicians' prescribing practices and patients' requests for brand-name drugs. But social media companies such as Facebook struggled to attract this lucrative advertising market.

In June 2017, Facebook addressed this challenge by convening drug marketers at the inaugural Facebook Health Summit, an event where the company wooed the pharmaceutical industry with new features designed to address their specific needs. Danielle Salowski, Facebook's industry manager for health, said the company re-engineered their advertising features so pharmaceutical advertisers could turn off comments on their Facebook brand pages and on their ads, to help them avoid the negative publicity associated with the legal requirement of reporting adverse reactions to drugs.

This activity could simply be understood as advertising in the age of big data, a practice our society has so far agreed to accept. But the unique risks from health- and medical-data mining and digital profiling of patients suggests greater stakes worthy of regulatory attention. Congress accused Facebook of illegal marketing of opioids and noted that many other types of drugs are also sold on the platform. Patients with life-threatening conditions or limited means to pay for healthcare are at greater risk of harm from targeted advertising of products or services by unscrupulous vendors.

In addition, the lack of transparency, increasing interconnection of health and technology, and growing reliance on risk modeling in health care means that combining health- and medical-data sources to target patients could harm anyone who has a serious illness or the risk of developing one. The insurance industry uses social media intelligence and profiling to inform algorithms that automate pricing, claims handling and fraud detection. When health risks are understood as financial risks, contextual information from users' digital profiles can be used against them to raise premiums or deny claims. That means everyone is at risk.

Members of Congress were criticised for displaying through misguided questions their lack of understanding about how Facebook works. But in the current data economy, Facebook and other big tech companies operate as black boxes that are impossible for outside users to fully understand. We really don't know most of the time what is being done with the data we post online, except when housing discrimination, exploitative advertising practices or foreign interference in elections is exposed. The Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed that at least 87 million of us are at risk of being exploited or discriminated against.

And really, why should we trust Facebook and third-party app developers to respect users' privacy when their business model depends on doing the opposite? Facebook clearly recognises the enhanced value of its user data when combined with medical data. That should tell lawmakers that the definition of "protected health information" needs an update. If we can still think of big data as something that could be harnessed for social benefit, we need to create regulations that allow users to consent to participate, like they do in clinical trials. We don't need to lock down all the data; we just need to distribute the power to access and share it so patients and future patients receive benefits, rather than harms, from sharing their experiences online.

© The Washington Post 2018

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What's the Chatter About Medical Marketing?

What's the Chatter About Medical Marketing? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

So, most people do not like going to the dentist or doctor’s office. In fact, most people would avoid it for the rest of their lives if they could.

On top of iatrophobia and the bad pokes and prods you get at the office, the healthcare industry is one of the least customer-friendly and liked industries due to high costs of services, horrible wait times and bad bedside manners.

The American peoples’ expectations for medical visits are pretty dang low but this is where successful medical marketing can give hope to the masses and therefore helps your business stand out.

You can be the exception to the medical negativity! The best thing you can do is truly make the medical marketing experience painless for your potential patients, even if their actual office visit isn’t something they look forward to.

As we embark into 2018, let’s talk about some trends that will help your practice succeed at medical marketing! People are the lifeblood of your business so let’s learn how to make your practice the “chatter.”

Social Media

Ever heard of Dr. Pimple Popper? If not, you should as she is a medical marketing gold mine!

Although her videos are not for the weak in stomach, she popularized popping zits on Instagram and created a name for herself as an expert in dermatology (I mean, the woman has 76.4K followers on Twitter and 3,586,831 subscribers on YouTube).

Like Doctor Sandra Lee, you too can promote your practice through clever use of social media! 

Social media is a great tool for building relationships, promoting your practice and managing your practice’s reputation. When used correctly, it gives you a great opportunity to reach potential patients and offer special promotions.

Here are some of the top ways you can promote your practice through social media and social media apps:

Keep Mobile in Mind

People want a painless experience, so finding their doctors online is a great way to start. People demand fast and convenient answers that are instantly available on their smartphone so it’s important for your website and social media channels are up to date and mobile friendly!

Consumers have become so accustomed to having internet access at their fingertips that you need your platforms to be fast, professional and efficient with scheduling and general information.

According to the U.S. Mobile App Report from comScore, mobile devices are the preferred tool for work and communication so why miss out on that medical marketing audience?

So, when creating a website or landing page, make sure they are mobile friendly!

Scheduling

Whether it is a phone call, email or text message, appointment reminders are important so let’s make them easy to navigate and user friendly. Some of the best scheduling apps to use which will also have reminders are:

As each have their pros and cons, it’s up to you to see which will work best for your medical practice. You can also easily use these apps to remind your patients to make a follow up appointments or annual cleanings.

Chatbots

Siri and other automated systems are not just for your random inquiries at home…they can be used for medical marketing!

A dental or doctor’s office is always busy. Whether it’s scheduling, seeing patients, lab interactions and overall customer service there is a lot to balance with your practice.

Chatbots can be a medical marketing trick to ease and personalize interactions with patients.

There are more than 100,000 active bots on Facebook Messenger every month and almost 2 billion messages are exchanged between businesses and their target audiences each month.

With a lot of messages coming in to inquire about your practice and services, chatbots are an interactive, quick and efficient way to respond. A combination of chatbots and messaging apps can significantly enhance the quality of patient service if done correctly.

Some helpful chatbots to look into for your medical marketing are:

  • Florence — this chatbot nurse tells you to take your medicine, gives you instructions if you forgot to take a pill, monitors your health (and periods for women) and can help you find specialists and book appointments in your area.
  • Babylon Health — another conversational healthcare assistant with the feature of booking a doctor.

If you are new to chatbots, stay simple with your messaging and setup and from there you can creatively engage them in your medical marketing plan.

Video

Simply put, video rocks! Video is growing and will only get bigger in 2018 because we are becoming more of a visual society. According to Cisco, video traffic will be 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2021, up from 73% in 2016!

Going back to Dr. Pimple Popper, she is an example of how powerful video can be for your practice. Whether viewers love popping zits or they wanted to understand extraction, Doctor Lee helped potential patients peek into her world as a board-certified dermatologist. By using video, she sets herself up as a leader.

So, if you don’t have zits or cysts to pop there are other powerful ways you can create “chatter” around your practice.

For example, Rethink Breast Cancer launched a hilarious and steamy YouTube video featuring shirtless male models talking to women about self-breast checks. This video educated and entertained patients about breast cancer but also resulted in 7.5m views and more than 30,000 likes!

Similar to ReThink Breast Cancer and Dr. Pimple Popper, you can create videos that promote your services, expertise and give your clients resources for their health.

Other types of productive videos include:

  • Instagram Stories: Stories give practices a way to add a more personal touch to their standard posts, which may sometimes feel too professional. Instagram stories can help create a personal experience by giving people behind the scenes looks into your practice, which will help you build stronger relationships with your current followers while also attracting new patients to your practice. Heck, you might even dabble with bringing your phone into the operating room!
  • YouTube Tutorials: YouTube can be a great way to post a collection of videos your practice can create. Tutorials are some of the highest trafficked video types and can be an easy way to show your expertise. Create tutorials on steps people can follow to avoid medical problems, What to expect step-by-step videos for procedures your patients will undergo etc.
  • Patient Testimonial Videos: When I search the internet, I’m surprised that so few healthcare businesses are using patient testimonial videos. The marketing power of testimonials is incredible and undeniable. Video takes the testimonial to a whole new level. When done right, a video testimonial can provide social proof for you and your practice.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) improves your medical practice website’s rankings on search engines. Why is this important to your medical marketing? According to a Pew Research study:

  • 72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year.
  • 47% of internet users search for information about doctors or other health professionals.
  • 38% of internet users search for information about hospitals and other medical facilities.
  • 8 in 10 online health inquiries start with a search engine.

So, where you rank on Google, Bing and other search engines will help your practice compete for the searches from potential clients.

Local SEO and specific keywords are necessities for healthcare marketing in 2018. Your practice should absolutely be trying to rank well for local searches.

To help with this, make sure you’re optimizing for location-based keywords, like “Salt Lake Cosmetic Surgeon” or “Carlsbad podiatrist.” The reality is, most clients will not travel to kingdom come to see a doctor they can see in a more relevant location. This is why you need to target your SEO medical marketing strategies heavily on location.

Keywords on the other hand will help Google know what your practice does. Picking specific keywords for your medical practice will be important as it helps your ranking and online traffic.

To successfully create keywords, compile a list of words or phrases that patients often use related to your specialty. A good way to do this is to think of all the questions they might ask.

For instance, if you are a radiologist in Manhattan, what might your potential patients ask Google? They might search for “best radiologist in Manhattan”.

As you can see, the top results are most likely targeted and SEO optimized for the search results.

Why not come out on top of the searches your clients are typing? SEO and keywords can be the answers to your medical marketing concerns!

Targeted Email Marketing Campaigns

Calls and social media aren’t the only way that doctors communicate with their patients. Actually, 62% of physicians and other healthcare providers prefer communication via email in comparison to direct mail, phone calls, and in-person visits, said a MedData Medical Technology Marketing Industry Trends Report.

So, email marketing can be a direct and efficient way to share information, lab results and other information with your patients.

Email marketing is the cheapest form of internet advertising and communication as it is essentially free. All you usually have to pay for is some sort of email marketing service like MailChimp, Hubspot or Autopilot HQ.

Email is easy peasy and it can be a fun way to share news, tips, results and reminders for your clients.

For example, Denwin Dental created an email campaign that reminds patients about their upcoming annual checkups. It also has a clear call to action button patients can use to set up an appointment!

Even after your patient comes in for a cleaning, keep using email marketing—you never know when a patient will refer business your way. Whether it’s a potential patient or a former one, email keeps your practice top-of-mind.

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Twitter-Based Medicine: How Social Media is Changing the Public’s View of Medicine

Twitter-Based Medicine: How Social Media is Changing the Public’s View of Medicine | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Doctors can be two-faced. This isn’t necessarily a negative attribute. Doctors have distinct personas for our patients and our colleagues. With patients, doctors strive for a compassionate but authoritative role. However, with each other, doctors often reveal a different demeanor: thoughtful and collaborative, but also opinionated and even sometimes petty. These conflicts are often the result of our struggle with evidence-based medicine. The modern practice of evidence-based medicine is more than the scientific studies we read in journals. Medicine doesn’t just change in rational, data-driven increments. Evidence-based medicine is a dialectic, a conversation. Doctors are being continually challenged to reconcile personal experience, professional judgment, and scientific data. Conflict can naturally result.

This struggle has been ongoing since the rise of evidence-based medicine decades ago. There are factions in medicine who are skeptical of clinical trials as the answer to all of medicine’s important questions, while other factions are wary of authority and consensus-driven medicine. These battles have traditionally been confined to the doctor’s lounge, both literal and in the figurative “safe spaces” of academic journals and conferences. But now the doctor’s lounge is going public. Social media is enabling doctors to rapidly communicate with each other. The heated public arguments that often result are in turn raising new questions about the effect of public discourse on the medical profession and the patients we serve.

 

I think the social media platform that’s doing the most to influence public debate about medicine is Twitter. Twitter, with its character limits, bandwagons, and trolls may seem inhospitable to nuanced medical debate, but the power of Twitter to broadcast physicians’ instinctive and abbreviated thoughts is underappreciated. “What does my doctor really think?” For too long, patients have asked this question in vain. Despite an ever-expanding evidence base, physicians have always relied on rapid, slippery judgments. Carefully edited debates in journals reveal the logical side of physician thinking, but they mute this more common aspect.

As a trainee, I remain awestruck by the intellect and erudition of my colleagues. However, like Twitter, disorganization and abuse are also native to the medical training process. While this chaos often breeds burnout, it also selects for passion and dedication. It shouldn’t surprise us that this nerdy, boisterous culture has translated so easily to Twitter.

For example, a clinical trial called ORBITA was recently published in the The Lancet. It pitted percutaneous coronary intervention against a surgical placebo to see if this invasive procedure could truly reduce anginal chest pain. In the study, PCI did not outperform placebo, with an accompanying editorial asking whether this was “the last nail in the coffin” for this expensive, widely-used medical procedure.

The study was heavily covered in the mainstream press, but the most heated debates have taken place on Twitter. Dr. Vinay Prasad, an oncologist who often stokes controversy on the platform, had suggested in his 2015 book “Ending Medical Reversal” that a placebo-controlled PCI study could show just these results. He took to Twitter to defend the trial with biting bromides, tweeting, for example, that “Criticizing ORBITA is akin to cavemen sitting in the dark for millennia suddenly complaining about the brightness of the first torch.” One of the study’s authors, Dr. Darrel Francis, also created an account and proceeded to call out misguided criticism of the study with signature irony. At one point, he even asked, “Which type(s) of cognitive bias has been nicely displayed by those seeking to undermine ORBITA? Please reply with the name of the bias and a quote exemplifying it.” These conversations are providing insight into the tentative way new research findings are integrated into physician thinking.

Medical debates on Twitter can also turn personal. Last December, Dr. Lisa Rosenbaum published an essay in the New England Journal of Medicine pushing back against the “less is more” movement in medicine, claiming that evidence doesn’t support the more heavy-handed elements of this campaign. In response, Dr. Prasad tweeted a chart showing America’s unprecedented healthcare costs accompanied by the ironic tagline “Damn you, less is more.” Dr. Jerome Kassirer, a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, tweeted “It’s not her first dumb analysis of health care; probably not the last.” Some doctors felt that this harsh rebuke of Dr. Rosenbaum’s essay had taken on a gendered tone. One radiologist suggested many criticisms were “ad feminam” attacks rather than substantive counterpoint. While the debate generated by this essay was often enlightening, it was nevertheless infused with some of our more partisan urges.

What mix of trust and honesty does the doctor-patient relationship require? When does public bickering help patients, and when does it merely stoke animus? In an environment that pays heavy lip service to shared decision-making, how muddied should doctors let their public messaging get? On one hand, we can imagine a fully informed patient would want to hear about the heady conversations taking place in the profession. Yet if doctors are unsure, how is a patient – naïve and ill – supposed to sort through these arguments? Perhaps people will just tune out, as they often do with politics.

And what of the effect on doctors? To some extent, the idea that medicine’s most obstinate quarrels can be sorted out in public is a pretentious fantasy much like thinking a debate between William Buckley and James Baldwin sorted out racism. In contrast to the egoism most associate with public displays, I think there is something vulnerable about presenting an argument in public. On social media I have had my arguments made easily threadbare by a physician with a different perspective.

This isn’t to say it’s easy being a public firebrand. Prestigious academics, largely male, dominate medicine’s public conversation. A sociologist named Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom recently drew attention to what results when people of color, women, and second-tier academics attempt to enter public debate. Speaking out doesn’t always generate thoughtful responses. It can lead to “orchestrated outrage,” where intolerant internet-dwellers hound employers to penalize or silence outspoken scholars. Marginalized academics remain far more vulnerable to this assault than white or male Ivy league doctors.

A nineteenth century German pathologist named Rudolf Virchow wryly observed that “Medicine is a social science, and politics nothing but medicine at a larger scale.” I envision a new role for the “public intellectual” in medicine in response to the rise of social media. I want to see heated debates contextualized, not sanitized, for the public. In our discussion of medical truth, we often lose the “truthiness” that drives so much physician behavior, to borrow a phrase from comedian Stephen Colbert. The public conversation has long accepted this dichotomy in politics – we discuss high-minded policy goals alongside the skullduggery and pettiness. In the age of free-wheeling social media debates, medicine will have to catch up.

Dr. Benjamin Mazer is a resident in pathology at Yale-New Haven Hospital. His opinions are his own and do not represent tho

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Blockchain in life sciences for patient engagement

This document presents an overview of the Blockchain for Patient Engagement Solutions. The presentation highlights various data streams generated along the pat…
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Impact of social media in healthcare discussed

Impact of social media in healthcare discussed | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

The possible impact of social media on the professional identity of medical professionals was examined at the latest Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) Grand Rounds. 

Dr Dora Stadler, clinical assistant professor of medicine at WCM-Q, gave a presentation that explained how physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals can use social media to benefit their patients, enhance their own professional development, foster collegiality and improve public health. She also examined some of the possible pitfalls of careless use of social media. 

Dr Stadler said, “Social media can be a very powerful and very positive tool for medical professionals if used correctly. We can utilize social media platforms to build collaborative networks to share knowledge across continents, educate the public about important health issues, build public confidence and make healthcare resources more accessible. But we have to be respectful of the power of social media and use it in a deliberate, thoughtful manner.”

Dr Stadler explained that a carelessly managed social media presence can compromise the professional identity of healthcare workers, adversely affect patient trust, damage the professional’s career and possibly bring their institution into disrepute. Perhaps most seriously, improper social media use can jeopardise patient confidentiality. 

“Patients have an absolute right and an expectation that any information they share with a healthcare professional will be in the strictest possible confidence. Healthcare professionals must be aware of the risk that social media presents to patient confidentiality and make sure they understand the technology so that no patient information is ever shared, either purposefully or by accident.” 

Dr Stadler explained the importance of recognizing the inability to completely separate one’s personal and professional identities online. She then offered detailed advice on how to formulate an effective, deliberate approach to social media to present a positive professional identity online and protect and enhance patient welfare. 

The lecture, titled Medical Professionalism in the Age of Social Media, was accredited locally by the Qatar Council for Healthcare Practitioners-Accreditation Department (QCHP-AD) and internationally by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).
 

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We Can't Take Direct Access Patients—and Other Lies That are Killing Your PT Practice

We Can't Take Direct Access Patients—and Other Lies That are Killing Your PT Practice | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Running a successful practice can be challenging—especially given the current payment climate. Add in the potential pitfalls of making a bad hire and the staggeringly high percentage of patients who drop out of therapy before completing their course of care, and you have a veritable minefield to traverse. So, don’t make it harder than it has to be by convincing yourself (or your staff) that you can’t take direct access patients in your state. As it stands, there aren’t even any states without direct access to physical therapy—because every state allows patients to receive at least an initial evaluation from a qualified PT before they must obtain a physician referral to continue treatment.

And that’s all you need to step into your role as a primary care coordinator. So, up your marketing game to include prospective patients; then, use your clinical expertise to help direct those patients to the type of treatment that is the most likely to benefit their condition or injury. If it’s physical therapy, great! You can send patients to a PT-friendly physician for a referral that allows you to move forward with treatment (if you’re not in a state that allows unrestricted direct access to physical therapy). And if it’s not physical therapy, then you can refer the patient to a provider who would be a better fit (with the added bonus of strengthening your network). Either way, you get to the be the one ensuring that the patient receives the very best treatment—and maybe (just maybe) that patient will explore a solution other than surgery, injections, or pain meds.

Misguided notions around direct access aren’t the only misconceptions preventing PT practices from realizing their full business potential. Here are five more:

 

1. “We can't use patient names in testimonials.”

You can—as long as you obtain prior written permission from the patient. Otherwise, you’re committing a HIPAA breach—and that could land you in hot water. If you’re wondering whether including names is worth the extra effort of obtaining permission, then consider how an unattributed testimonial may appear to a prospective patient: perhaps a little fishy. On the other hand, including names can aid in garnering trust and lending some legitimacy to your testimonials. In this article, Strive Labs co-founder Ryan Klepps uses Champion Physical Therapy and Performance as a great example of a practice that uses its website wisely by keeping its “messaging simple—and back[ing] it up with social proof via testimonials.” You’ll notice that Champion’s website features plenty of testimonials paired with the source’s name—and picture, which is a nice touch. And you can bet the clinic has a signed permission slip for each and every one of them.

2. “When patients stop coming to therapy, it’s because they’ve gotten better.”

If only this were actually true. Unfortunately, according to research conducted by the Strive Labs team, 30% of patients drop out of physical therapy during the first three visits, and 70% won't complete their entire course of care. While a small percentage of these patients may have experienced a miraculously speedy recovery, most bail before meeting their functional goals—and that’s not good for patients or providers. (In fact, according to WebPT president Heidi Jannenga, early patient dropout is a $6 billion dollar problem for the industry at large.) While this is clearly a systemic issue, there are things that you can do to improve patient retention in your clinic—the first of which is admitting that you have role to play in keeping patients engaged in their care. From there, be sure you’re:

  • Prioritizing the patient experience;
  • Collecting and acting on patient feedback;
  • Connecting with patients between appointments by sending them relevant content;
  • Providing access to a secure communication channel that patients can use to reach you;
  • Using a multimedia HEP program that enables patients to track their progress; and
  • Reaching out to patients who fall off the calendar to get them scheduled for their next appointment.

While small practices may be able to do all of the above manually without the risk of having patients fall through the cracks, mid- to large-sized practices—and ones that are growing—may benefit from adopting patient relationship management (PRM) software to help automate the process and improve engagement.

3. “We can’t post anything on social media.”

Sure you can. There are plenty of super-successful healthcare practices that use social media to share relevant content and market to patients. And considering that many people are now researching potential providers and treatment options online before ever setting foot in a provider’s office, social media is a great platform for connecting with prospective patients at the beginning of their care journey. Just like any communication tool, though, you best use it thoughtfully—and remember that everything you share, post, comment, and like will exist in the Interwebs permanently. That’s why any business that uses social media should have clearly written policies and procedures for interacting with patients online, emphasizing the importance of never posting anything that could even remotely be construed as personal health information (PHI) without obtaining written permission from the patient.

4. “Our patients are satisfied—just look at our satisfaction scores.”

Satisfaction scores can be misleading—especially if you’re:

  • using a survey method that isn’t sensitive enough to capture meaningful differences between patient responses, or
  • only administering surveys at discharge (hello, sampling bias) and in the clinic (hello, environmental bias).

All of this can leave you with an artificially inflated score that doesn’t actually represent your patients’ experience with your clinic. Instead, opt for a standardized, valid, and reliable measurement tool that truly captures your patients’ feelings about your clinic. And while you’re at it, we recommend measuring loyalty instead of satisfaction. As Strive Labs co-founder Scott Hebert explained during this webinar, “Satisfaction is easy to achieve: you simply meet a customer’s expectations. Loyalty, on the other hand, is a little harder won, because you have to exceed those expectations. And in today’s competitive and increasingly value-based, patient-centric healthcare marketplace, exceeding expectations is crucial.”

In our opinion, Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) is the best metric available for measuring patient loyalty. According to this NPS resource, it’s a “proven metric [that has] transformed the business world and now provides the core measurement for customer experience management programs the world round.” And the very best PRM software on the market has NPS tracking built-in, so you can automate the entire process, including asking your loyal patients to write you online reviews and testimonials.

5. “We can’t see Medicare patients past the therapy cap—or threshold.”

While the therapy cap has officially been repealed, there’s still a targeted review threshold in place. But, you can—and should—provide medically necessary services above that threshold. Failing to do so could hinder your patients’ progress. Simply affix the KX modifier and ensure that your documentation supports the continuation of care. As WebPT’s Kylie McKee explained here, on February 9, 2018, the Senate voted to repeal the Medicare therapy cap effective on January 1, 2018. However, providers are still required to “track total claim amounts for Medicare beneficiaries and apply the KX modifier to claims exceeding the $2,010 threshold [for 2018],” said Mckee. “...the targeted review process will now apply to therapy claims exceeding $3,000 for each individual patient.” In the comments of the same post, WebPT’s Brooke Andrus further clarified that “claims above $3,000 may be targeted for special review by Medicare to ensure they meet the requirements for reimbursement.” But, a little extra Medicare scrutiny shouldn’t deter you from doing what’s best for your patients. Just be sure your documentation is defensible.

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Patients’ Online Discussions Reveal Little-Known Side Effects 

Patients’ Online Discussions Reveal Little-Known Side Effects  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

CANCER PATIENTS AROUND THE WORLDuse social networks to share their experiences. A study published in JAMA Oncology​ on March 1 suggests that patient forums could be a new source of information on cancer treatment side effects, as adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are being discussed months before they are officially reported in the medical literature.

The study authors used a technique called deep learning—a form of artificial intelligence—to analyze conversations that took place on Inspire, an online social network that hosts support groups for people diagnosed with medical conditions, including cancer. The researchers found 8 million references to ADRs affecting the skin in posts about the cancer treatment medications Tarceva (erlotinib), Opdivo (nivolumab) and Keytruda (pembrolizumab).

The study used a computer program called DeepHealthMiner that had been developed previously to scan social media for conversations about side effects by study co-author Azadeh Nikfarjam, a postdoctoral research fellow in biomedical informatics at Stanford University School of Medicine in California. To teach the program to identify relevant information, human helpers manually annotated more than 10,000 tweets to flag details like the drug being used, the condition it was intended to treat and the ADR in question, under the supervision of a pharmacologist. Nikfarjam fed this human-generated data into the program before using a technique called unsupervised learning to expand the program’s ability to recognize pertinent comments beyond the specific examples it was given.

For the new study, DeepHealthMiner scanned the Inspire posts for both formal terminology and more casual phrasing describing side effects. For instance, a post might not refer to psoriasis by name, but instead talk about a pink, scaly rash on the elbows. The program would be able to make the connection between those terms and the medical condition.

The team calculated the strength of the associations between drugs and ADRs, finding that the conversations in the forum faithfully reflected the number and frequency of ADRs already reported in the scientific literature. What’s more, their methods seemed to uncover relationships that previously flew under the radar.

“Common ADRs are seen in doctors’ offices around the world,” says co-author Julia D. Ransohoff, a medical student at Stanford. “Rarer ones, however, are often seen once or a handful of times at a single center, and a single provider seeing a drug reaction once does not enable us to determine if the drug reaction is related to a specific drug—especially when treating cancer patients, who are often on multiple medications.”

Analyzing online discussions can help clarify the connection between a side effect and a drug. Ransohoff gave the example of a patient using Tarceva who mentioned an inability to sweat while talking with co-author Bernice Y. Kwong, a Stanford dermatologic oncologist, during an appointment. Inability to sweat, or hypohidrosis, had not been documented as a side effect of Tarceva in the medical literature, but when the researchers analyzed the online discussion posts, they found a further 23 patients reporting the symptom in association with the drug.

Discussion forums can give researchers a valuable new perspective on patients’ experiences. “The unfiltered nature [of online communication] does mean that there will be a lot of posts that may not be relevant to researchers,” says Jeff Terkowitz, the vice president of product for Inspire, who was an adviser for the study. “However, it also means that people are more open and honest than they are at times with their physicians.”

Deep learning allows researchers to strip away the information that isn’t useful. The method—sometimes called “social listening”—provides another source of data to practitioners and researchers.

As patients’ conversations were being monitored, both the researchers and the Inspire team recognized the important of maintaining users’ privacy. The study only included posts that members made visible to the public, but even so, Terkowitz confirms that no personally identifiable information was transmitted or used in the study.

“As long as they used only public posts, I would not have a problem,” says Dee Sparacio, an ovarian cancer survivor and Inspire member who runs the Women of Teal​ blog, when asked if she would mind if her posts were used in the study. She says that participants in the #gyncsm​chats that she co-moderates on Twitter often voice a reluctance to “bother” their doctors with their experiences, but they are happy to share them among their peers.

For the study, the researchers looked at posts submitted to Inspire between 2007 and 2016. Going forward, Ransohoff hopes that these data could be used to create “live” online monitoring platforms offering a real-time digest of patient reports. This would help practitioners adjust treatments in response to ADRs in a more timely manner—the study found that posts on Inspire identified ADRs an average of seven months in advance of clinical reports—which could help make treatment more tolerable and improve patients’ quality of life.

“There is a wealth of information buried here that could greatly increase our understanding of the experience of cancer treatment for patients,” says Ransohoff.​ 

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Examining patient profiles for the right ad prescription

Patient profiles are essential for effective marketing: they help determine the best media channels and aid in targeting the right group with the right message at the right time. This blog post from the MARS Consumer Health Study outlines a few examples of Psoriasis patient profiles and how they can be applied to healthcare marketing and messaging strategies.

The adult Psoriasis patient is more likely to be female, middle-aged, college-educated, and a heavy user of traditional media channels:

 

Among the 5.8 million diagnosed with Psoriasis, there are many different profiles. Let’s take a look at how the average patient compares by gender:

 

While both patient groups are professionally diagnosed, females spend twice as much time online and value in-person support groups. A digital campaign focusing on patient-to-patient connectivity may be effective. An advertiser or healthcare marketer trying to reach the male Psoriasis patient might consider a prescription medication ad on television due to the value this group places on TV programs and their preference for Rx medications.

How about the social Psoriasis patient?

Compared to the average Psoriasis patient, Female Psoriasis sufferers that have posted on social media in the past month are 52% more likely to have used health-related apps on a mobile device (smartphone or tablet). Additionally, they are 16% more likely to agree they’d rather download an app than look for health-related information on a website:

 

To learn more about the MARS Consumer Health study, patient groups, treatment, media usage, health attitudes, behaviors and much more please stay tuned for our next blog post or contact us directly for additional information.

About the study

Kantar Media’s MARS Consumer Health Study is a trusted information source for reaching different patient groups and uncovering deep consumer insights. It provides stable and reliable media and healthcare data that is projectable to the U.S. population to better meet the needs of agencies, marketers, healthcare facilities, insurers and media companies. The study contains detailed information among U.S. adults including online and offline media usage for 100+ consumer magazines, newspapers and health-related publications as well as TV, radio, and internet usage.

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Social media: the power of people talking to each other – Patient Empowerment Foundation

Social media: the power of people talking to each other – Patient Empowerment Foundation | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

At the European Breast Cancer Conference (#EBCC11) held in Barcelona in March our board member and advocate Marie Ennis O’Connor (@JBBC) spoke about the power of social media for connecting patients and helping them to achieve better outcomes. Marie, a breast cancer survivor, experienced how the lack of information can have harmful consequences. At the moment of her diagnosis, she was not informed about fertility preservation with the consequence that she lost the opportunity to become a mother. Today she advocates for breast cancer patients and she has become a renowned social media specialist and speaker.

Marie Ennis O’Connor

Peer to peer communication is vital for patient empowerment. “Before the Internet connected people from every corner of the globe”, says Marie, “many patients experienced their illness in isolation. Humans have an innate desire to feel connected with others who live life through similar lenses. The Internet, and social media, in particular, has lessened this sense of isolation.”

Well-known patient advocates like Dave deBronkart (e-Patient Dave) and Andrew Schorr have shared how the internet helped them to connect with peers and saved their lives. Breast cancer patients have built a powerful online community where they share knowledge, experience and they help each other. There are numerous breast cancer Facebook groups and Twitter accounts that put patients in touch and facilitate the conversation. One of them is Breast Cancer Chat, a Twitter account that organises a chat every Tuesday (9-10pm GMT) around the hashtag #bccww

Another strong breast cancer advocate in social media is Joanne Taylor (@abcdiagnosis), a secondary breast cancer patient from Manchester. Joanne has over 12,000 followers on Twitter and she has managed to put metastatic breast cancer on the map. This community uses hashtags like #metastaticBC #stageivneedsmore and #breastcancerrealitycheck to reveal the reality of metastatic breast cancer and to advocate for more research.

Joanne Taylor

As we can see, “patients have moved from being a passive recipient of care to being an active participant in their health,” in Marie’s words. This empowerment facilitated by the internet is even more important in the field of rare diseases, where patients feel completely alone. Having a disease that affects one in 40,000 or one in 100,000 people makes it very difficult to find someone like you. Rare disease patients from all over the world have started Facebook groups to communicate and help each other. These communities share information about symptoms, treatments and they offer support. So valuable is this information that is being used for researchers to gain more knowledge in the difficult field of rare diseases.

“In the case of rare diseases, where doctors simply don’t have the answers to patients’ questions due to low patient numbers and, consequently, insufficient research into the disease, it is the patients themselves who are banding together to find the answers they need,” says Marie.

It is clear that patients have in social media patients a priceless resource. To quote Susannah Fox (@Susannah Fox), Former Chief Technology Officer at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “the most exciting innovation of the connected health era is people talking with each other.”

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UCLA researchers use search engines, social media to predict syphilis trends

UCLA researchers use search engines, social media to predict syphilis trends | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

UCLA-led research finds that internet search terms and tweets related to sexual risk behaviors can predict when and where syphilis trends will occur.

Two studies from the UCLA-based University of California Institute for Prediction Technology, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, found an association between certain risk-related terms that Google and Twitter users researched or tweeted about and subsequent syphilis trends that were reported to the CDC. The researchers were able to pinpoint these cases at state or county levels, depending on the platform used.

“Many of the most significant public health problems in our society today — HIV and sexually transmitted infections, opioid abuse and cancer — could be prevented if we had better data on when and where these issues were occurring,” said Sean Young, founder and director of the UCLA Center for Digital Behavior and the UC Institute for Prediction Technology. “These two studies suggest that social media and internet search data might help to fix this problem by predicting when and where future syphilis cases may occur. This could be a tool that government agencies such as the CDC might use,” added Young, who is also an associate professor of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

One study, to be published in the peer-reviewed journal Epidemiology, investigated the association between state-level search queries on Google with primary and secondary syphilis cases — the earliest and most transmissible stages in the sexually transmitted infection — that were subsequently reported in these states.

For this study, the researchers compiled data for 25 keywords and phrases (such as “find sex” and “STD”) collected on Google Trends from Jan. 1, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2014. They also obtained weekly county-level syphilis data from the CDC covering the same time period for all 50 states, merged that data by state and collated them with the weekly Google Trends data they had collected.

The research incorporated a type of statistical computer science model called machine learning, which can look through large amounts of data to find patterns and predict those patterns. This artificial intelligence-based machine looked at the relationship between people’s syphilis-related searches on Google and actual rates of syphilis over a period of time. After learning that pattern, it tested whether it could accurately predict future syphilis cases by using just the syphilis-related Google search terms.

Researchers found that the model predicted 144 weeks of syphilis counts for each state with 90 percent accuracy, allowing them to predict state-level trends in syphilis before they would have occurred.

Researchers from the institute found the same held true with Twitter. In a study published in Preventive Medicine, they took county-level Twitter data from May 26 to Dec. 9, 2012, amounting to 8,538 geo-located tweets. As with the Google Trends analysis, the researchers compiled a list of words associated with sexual risk behaviors.

They reviewed weekly county-level cases of primary and secondary syphilis and early latent syphilis (infection within the previous 12 months, with no symptoms evident) that likely occurred over the previous 12 months. The cases were from the 50 states and Washington, D.C., and were reported to the CDC from 2012 to 2013. The 2012 data were included because a county’s previous syphilis rates are likely to predict future rates, and they wanted to determine how the Twitter-based method would perform matched with the previous year’s data.

They found that counties having higher risk-related tweets in 2012 were associated with a 2.7 percent jump in primary and secondary and a 3.6 percent boost in early latent syphilis cases in 2013. By comparison, counties that reported higher numbers of syphilis cases in 2012 were associated with increases of 0.6 percent and 0.4 percent of primary/secondary and early latent syphilis cases, respectively, in 2013, suggesting that the Twitter-based model performed as well as simply using previous year’s syphilis data. This is important because Twitter data are extremely inexpensive and suggest that social media data are low-cost alternatives for predicting syphilis.

Both studies have certain limitations. For the Google paper, they include the likelihood that many primary and secondary syphilis cases are not reported; the findings were biased toward Google users, who account for about 64 percent of search engine users; and the Google Trends data are a random sampling of all data and not the full dataset, which might have affected how the model worked. In the Twitter study’s case, data were based on Twitter users, which is a select sample of people; the researchers reviewed data only for 2012 and 2013, when data from a longer time span would be needed to develop appropriate public health responses; and some areas with high numbers of syphilis cases may have had public health messaging via social media that contained relevant keywords that were captured in the data the researchers examined.

The National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases funded the Google paper. The National Institute of Mental Health; the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; the Center for HIV Identification, Prevention and Treatment; and the UCLA Center for AIDS Research funded the Twitter research.

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Avoid these 5 social media no-nos to grow your dental patient base faster and safer -

Avoid these 5 social media no-nos to grow your dental patient base faster and safer - | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Eighty percent of people search for health-related information online.(1) And 81% of people have social medial profiles.(2) Given these statistics, a strong social media presence for your dental practice is critical to winning over new patients.

In order to take full advantage of the customer engagement and lead generation that social media has to offer, make sure your dental practice uses it properly by avoiding these five big no-nos.

No-no #1: Giving medical advice or providing protected health information (PHI)

Social media followers ask all kinds of questions, and some of your responses can cause regulatory nightmares. First, don’t give medical advice. It’s hard to tell where followers are from, and you don’t want to give advice to someone who isn’t located in a state where you’re licensed. If an existing patient asks for medical advice, ask them to take the conversation offline by thanking them for their concern and then providing your contact information. It’s very easy to give out PHI while dealing with clients online, whether they’re requesting help or you’re responding to a negative review about a less-than-satisfactory experience. To do so would violate HIPPA, so don’t do it!

No-no #2: Using your personal profile for your practice

On each social media platform, you should have a business profile or page separate from your personal page. Why are separate profiles important?

• They separate your personal and professional lives. There may be posts on your personal profile that you don’t want patients to see.
• Your business page serves as the hub for your followers, patients, and teammates. It’s a place for all things dentistry, your main vehicle for building your brand, sharing engaging information, and showcasing your staff and office vibe. It’s nearly impossible to keep your personal profile that focused.
• Many social platforms limit the number of connections a personal profile can have. Most business profiles don’t have that limitation. For example, Facebook allows only 5,000 friends on a personal page. Business pages, on the other hand, can have unlimited fans.

• You may eventually want your social media handled by a staff member trained in social media or even by an outside firm. Business profiles make giving and revoking access much easier than personal pages do, which keeps your brand and personal profiles safe if social media responsibilities change hands.

No-No #3: Self-promoting constantly

The ultimate goals of social media are simple: engage existing customers, promote referrals, and recruit new prospects. One sure way not to achieve these goals is by constantly promoting your practice. Imagine your social media profile is a TV channel. Do subscribers want to see constant commercials?

Spend a majority of your social efforts making your practice more personable and educational. Give your prospects real value, and two things will happen: (1) you’ll endear your social fans to you, or (2) they will be more receptive when you do put a great offer in front of them. A good rule of thumb is one promotional post per 10 engaging posts.

No-No #4: Content that doesn’t match your audience

Other dentists might appreciate learning about recent findings on Th17 cells at the gingival oral mucosal barrier, but they’re not your audience. Stay away from industry jargon and clinical speak in your posts. Be personable with your followers, and help them make informed decisions with educational content. Speak with them, not at them. Most importantly, involve them. Encourage followers to interact with your content by asking them to leave comments and share and like your posts. Promote a culture of engagement, and your follower-base will grow organically.

No-No #5: Buying followers and likes

It’s tempting. Who doesn’t want an instant boost of a few thousand followers for only $39? Buying followers and likes puts you and your company’s reputation at serious risk.

You can read about more specific reasons why not here, but put simply, when you buy fake followers or likes, you’re left with an impressive number of empty accounts that have zero interest in your practice and will never become patients. Most social media platforms regulate the visibility of your posts based on the engagement of your audience. The more engaged they are, the more they see of you. So fake followers drag down your metrics in the long-term

Social media is one of the most effective marketing tools available to you. Don’t ruin your chances of an engaged and loyal following by falling into one of the traps.

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Pharma's use of social has matured: report

Pharma's use of social has matured: report | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Pharma use of social media is maturing as companies get more savvy about how they use social channels.

For its fourth-annual Social Check-up, Ogilvy Healthworld partnered with social data firm Pulsar and looked at the social activity of 20 leading pharma companies in the 11 months between January and December 2017.

Its conclusion: pharma use of social media has matured and companies are getting more and more mileage out of their efforts.

Specifically, except for YouTube, pharma companies have decreased the frequency at which they post content to social channels. Posts to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were down 3%, 16% and 41%, respectively, during the observation period.

But decreasing how much they posted didn't stop pharma companies from growing their audiences on these platforms. On average, audiences increased 15% on Twitter, 47% on Facebook, 50% on YouTube and 67% on Instagram.

The bad news: half of the 20 companies tracked saw decreases in engagement, with some, including Boehringer Ingelheim, Eli Lilly, Amgen and Teva, seeing significant double-digit drops of between 33% and 77%.

But four of Ogilvy Healthworld's five top-ranked pharma companies increased engagement. The top-ranked firm, Novo Nordisk, grew its engagement by 13%, while Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and Merck/MSD grew theirs by an even more impressive 111%, 77% and 122%.

Quality over quantity

How did these top performers do it? Not surprisingly, Ogilvy Healthworld attributed their success to the posting of high-value content possibly aided by paid promotion of that content "at the right time to the right audience." Indeed, the pharma companies with the highest engagement scores did not post the most frequently.

Trends and strategies

When it comes to producing high-value content and encouraging engagement, Ogilvy Healthworld offered a number of observations.

Being human helps

Pointing to Novo Nordisk's all diabetes pro cycling team, Ogilvy stated "Highlighting the human side of the business was the most regular theme across 2017's high-performing posts, such as spotlighting employees and internal initiatives."

This makes sense. Given that the pharma industry has been widely panned in recent years, it's smart for companies to remind the public that their employees are real people who are working to help treat and cure illness.

Get active

Unbranded advertising has been a big trend for pharma marketers and one of the ways that pharma marketers can get closer to consumers without advertising to them is by getting involved in causes around health conditions. It points to World Aids Day, World Cancer Day and Movember as examples of initiatives that offer opportunities for pharma company participation.

But activism doesn't have to be limited to the health realm, Ogilvy points out. It says other initiatives, such as Earth Day and Global Day of Service, can also be opportunities to engage. 

Partner with celebrities

While it's not as easy for pharma companies to team up with celebrity influencers as it is for, say, shoe companies, celebrity partnerships do hold promise.

In 2016, Novartis partnered with actress/singer Queen Latifah as part of a Rise Above Heart Failure initiative designed to call attention to heart failure, a condition her mother suffers from. With that blueprint, other pharma companies have formed relationships with celebrities. For example, last year, Novo Nordisk and Pakistani cricketer Wasim Akram worked together to promote #ChangingDiabetes.

Embrace new techniques and technology to create compelling content

Ogilvy observed that on Instagram, aerial drone content posted by Bayer and Eli Lilly of their headquarters was a hit, reminding pharma companies that new techniques and technology can help create content that will resonate with consumers.

Be prepared to pay to play

Noting that organic reach has declined significantly and rapidly, Ogilvy reminds pharma companies that paid social, employed strategically, is increasingly required to ensure that content cuts through the clutter.

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