Social Media and Healthcare
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Exploring the use of a facebook page in anatomy education

Exploring the use of a facebook page in anatomy education | Social Media and Healthcare |

Facebook is the most popular social media site visited by university students on a daily basis. Consequently, Facebook is the logical place to start with for integrating social media technologies into education. This study explores how a faculty-administered Facebook Page can be used to supplement anatomy education beyond the traditional classroom. Observations were made on students perceptions and effectiveness of using the Page, potential benefits and challenges of such use, and which Insights metrics best reflect users engagement.


The Human Anatomy Education Page was launched on Facebook and incorporated into anatomy resources for 157 medical students during two academic years. Students use of Facebook and their perceptions of the Page were surveyed. Facebooks “Insights” tool was also used to evaluate Page performance during a period of 600 days. The majority of in-class students had a Facebook account which they adopted in education. Most students perceived Human Anatomy Education Page as effective in contributing to learning and favored “self-assessment” posts. The majority of students agreed that Facebook could be a suitable learning environment.


The “Insights” tool revealed globally distributed fans with considerable Page interactions. The use of a faculty-administered Facebook Page provided a venue to enhance classroom teaching without intruding into students social life. A wider educational use of Facebook should be adopted not only because students are embracing its use, but for its inherent potentials in boosting learning. The “Insights” metrics analyzed in this study might be helpful when establishing and evaluating the performance of education-oriented Facebook Pages.

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

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

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

Support our people

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

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


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A Doctor Warns of Preserving Boundaries in Social Media

A Doctor Warns of Preserving Boundaries in Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

At least one medical school dean has welcomed new students with a slideshow of the students’ publicly-available social media posts and photos. The message to future classes: better clean up, and fast. Even in medicine, the line between public and private has blurred.

The medical profession is likely the last bastion of professional boundaries and decorum, but thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the rest, the walls have fallen. White coats are now stained with a few too many selfies. Once upon a time, the small town GP had to carefully tend his (and more rarely, her) interactions and image with the public. Gossip traveled fast, and could quickly ruin a reputation, a livelihood, and potentially a patient’s health. The doctor’s ability to treat his patients depended on their respect for him. The doctor’s standing in the eyes of parish and community was everything.

Now, the town square includes everyone with internet access and a search engine. Those drunken photos from college or last night, or one’s political opinions, can be quickly dredged up from the deepest abyss of the internet with a simple click of the mouse. Twenty-five percent of young doctors in one survey made their Facebook profiles totally public. Thirty-seven percent of these revealed their sexual orientation, 16% revealed religious views, 43% indicated their relationship status, 46% showed themselves drinking alcohol, and 10% actually showed themselves intoxicated. Eighty percent or more of one sample of medical students and first-year physicians felt their colleagues displayed themselves unprofessionally on Facebook. Relatively few were aware of their institutions’ guidelines about online behavior.

Veterinary student disclosure of personal information was positively correlated with their need for popularity and negatively correlated with their awareness of consequences. (We can all probably relate.) Another large sample of veterinary students showed that a third of them had “high exposure” of personal information, with significant disclosures of unprofessional content such as “substance use, obscene comments, and breaches of client confidentiality.” The earlier the students were in their training, the more likely they were to have high exposure in their online profiles.

We become distorted, like we were the information being passed around in a game of telephone.

Vaguely knowing that some doctors drink to excess is one thing; knowing that yours did so last night is another. Perhaps the notion that every professional has a duty to the image of their chosen profession is quaint — but it is, in fact, true. Our collective trust in the healing professions depends on our respect for their practitioners. Trainees may chafe at this kind of all-encompassing responsibility, but it is still a strong and necessary consideration.

But institutional guidelines can make students feel that their social lives are being hamstrung. Professionals-in-training can feel resentment at being observed and being accountable to third parties, or even feeling “controlled” by their institution. “Students perceived society to be struggling with the distinction between doctors as individuals and professionals,” wrote one group of researchers. Students sometimes feel that being watched is a burden and sacrifice, and intrusive to boot. But someone is always watching, especially online, a point that some choose to ignore.

Mark Zuckerberg’s stated vision for social media is total transparency. He has said, “the days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly. Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” But his vision falls flat for medical professionals, and should indeed fall flat for us all.

Medical professionals (especially psychiatrists like myself) typically do not disclose all their personal information to their patients, and most people don’t disclose everything to everyone at all times, which is precisely what can happen on social media. We all share different aspects of our identities with different people. What is understood in the context of one relationship may be misunderstood or misused by others. We become distorted, like we were the information being passed around in a game of telephone.

Privacy and confidentiality allow medical professionals to feel safe, and also allows them to provide care untainted by the misunderstandings and mistrust liable to occur when patients and institutions depend on online information to assess their physicians. A clear professional boundary allows the space between professional and patient to remain as pure, uncluttered and focused on the patient’s needs as possible. Social media posts can be akin to contaminants in an otherwise sterile OR.

But boundaries do more than ensure privacy, respect, and trust. I would argue that without a boundary, we can’t even form a self. When we are under the lamp of others’ scrutiny, we lose our autonomy. We are overly subject to the judgments — and thus control — of strangers. Our selfhood depends on our inner life, from which we observe ourselves, engage in inner dialogue, and cultivate our intentions. When we lose our personal boundaries, our inner life can be derailed or even erased. Where’s the room for contemplation when you’re posting and performing for an audience? Zuckerberg has even voiced a desire for a future technology to broadcast and receive thoughts.

Perhaps he needs to learn that there are some thoughts he should keep to himself.

Ravi Chandra, M.D., D.F.A.P.A., is a psychiatrist and writer in San Francisco. This essay is adapted from his newly published book Facebuddha: Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks.

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Kantar - Consumers turn to Facebook, Twitter for healthcare information

Kantar - Consumers turn to Facebook, Twitter for healthcare information | Social Media and Healthcare |

Those with health conditions turn to social media for emotional support.

Social media’s influence on patient groups is growing as more individuals turn to online sources for health information and advice.

According to the 2017 MARS Consumer Health study, 73% of all U.S. adults use the internet for health and wellness. Of those, more than one in three are looking up information about health conditions or symptoms.

Consumers are Getting Social

84% of adults indicate they have visited a social media site such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter in the last 6 months, and nearly 70% say they have caught up or posted on a social network in the last 30 days (an increase of 5% since 2015). This trend is also apparent among older adults: 51% of adults aged 50+ say they have participated in social media in the past month (an increase of 4% since 2015).

Social Media's Value

Nearly half of all adults indicate they value social media related sources for healthcare information. Social and online sources of information help consumer groups connect with others and share information: 

Do Patient Groups "Like" Healthcare Info on Social Media Sites?

Patient groups that are more likely to value social media content as a source of healthcare information are:

Many condition sufferers are turning to social media for additional emotional support in managing their condition. This is especially the case for those suffering from debilitating or chronic conditions. For example, multiple sclerosis sufferers are 138% more likely than all doctor diagnosed condition sufferers to agree their ailment makes it difficult to do day-to-day tasks. They are 67% more likely to indicate their health is worse compared to a year ago.

While social sources of health information are a valuable resource for many, only 12% of all condition sufferers indicate they trust the medical information people share on social media. Advertisers and marketers should consider strategies to build trust and establish credibility when utilizing social media channels to reach patients.

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Anatomy Of A Viral Headline in Helathcare: How To

Anatomy Of A Viral Headline in Helathcare: How To | Social Media and Healthcare |

As digital marketers, we need to be continually monitoring performance and adjusting our strategies to match. So when BuzzSumo studied more than 100 million headlines to find those that performed best on Facebook, you can be sure we were paying attention.

The results will likely be surprising to some. So let’s unpack the findings and the implications for your healthcare content marketing together.

The study analyzed the headlines of 100 million articles that gained the most social shares from March 1, 2017 to May 10, 2017. It’s important to note that this study was related to organic posts, not Facebook ads. Facebook has very strict policies for how to address their users in paid posts. Check out Facebook policies for ads in the personal health space.

Organic posts do not have to meet the same guidelines, but do have best practices to minimize the risk of negative commentary. It is beneficial, where possible, to partner with an experienced content provider to help you navigate Facebook ad restrictions – especially since their policies and restrictions change often. 

The BPD Social Team pulled out seven key takeaways from the study that you can adjust for healthcare marketing and put into practice as part of your overall content strategy. 

1. Make The Headline A Priority

Ask most writers about their process for content creation and they will talk about the time and energy they put into crafting a compelling, concise and creative article. They will speak to their process or the amount of research they put into it. All too often, the emphasis is on the body copy and the headline is considered last. 

This study proves what many content strategist already know – the headline truly makes a difference and should be a critical part of your overall content strategy. So, make sure you take as much time and effort to hone your headline as you do your content piece.

2. Focus On The Proper Headline Length

Over the years, there have been various schools of thought about the ideal length for article headlines. Many favor brevity – much like the seven-word limit for billboards. Others feel, especially in the digital space, the more words the better for search engine optimization (SEO).

After analyzing 100 million headlines and comparing the number of words to the average number of Facebook engagements, there is now a clear winner (at least for organic posts). The results show that headlines with 12 to 18 words receive the highest average engagement on Facebook. If headlines are longer or shorter, the engagement begins to decline. 

Source: BuzzSumo 2017 Review of 100M Articles

3. Pay Attention To The Characters Within Your Headline 

The study also looked at the number of characters in the ideal headline based on average Facebook engagements. As shown below, the optimal character length for headlines ranges from 80 to 95 characters.   

Source: BuzzSumo 2017 Review of 100M Articles

4. Start And End Your Headline Strong

Capturing your audience’s attention is critical to the success of your branded content. We know that most important words in a headline are the first three words and the last three words.  This headline study wanted to dissect and determine which three word phrases (trigrams) were the most effective to begin and end a headline. 

The following charts represent the top most popular phrases that start and end headlines based on the number of Facebook interactions. 


Source: BuzzSumo 2017 Review of 100M Articles

5. Be Strategic With The Number You Use In Your Headline

It’s no surprise that the top 2 phrases begin with numbers. Having a number as part of your headline was a proven tactic long before the BuzzSumo study. This study dove deeper – identifying which numbers were most effective in generating social shares. The top 5 numbers to use to generate Facebook engagement are: 10, 5, 15, 7 and 20

Source: BuzzSumo 2017 Review of 100M Articles

6. Sparking Emotions Attracts Engagement, But Don’t Over Do It

The research proves that emotionally-driven headlines remain at the top of the list for driving engagement—especially when complimented by an equally emotional image or video. Emotionally-driven phrases include “Make you cry” or “Shocked to see.” 

Headlines that inspire curiosity and voyeurism are also impactful. These phrases speak to what others are “talking about” or “reacting to” or that begin with “This is why.” They work because they draw the reader in. 

Quizzes encourage intrigue and the desire to take action. In healthcare though, make sure you stay clear of tying a quiz into anything that could be perceived as diagnosing the participant. This is completely achievable with the right content. But if there is any doubt, consider running the content through your legal department. 

7. Don’t Overdo It -- Make Sure The Headline Fits The Content

When you’re trying to write a headline between 12 and 18 words with high emotional impact, strong trigrams and the “right” number – it can be easy to start straying away from what your article is actually about. Be mindful not to sensationalize the emotions you are aspiring to generate with your reader. And, above all, your headline needs to be true to the content you are delivering. Overdo it and your headline can be seen as clickbait.

This is where having an experienced content creation partner can assure that your headlines are staying within the guidelines.


So what do you do with all these insights? Start by sharing the findings your content creators and design teams. Challenge them to implement some of the approaches that generated the most shares in the study:

  • Longer, more engaging headlines
  • Restructuring content as a list with a number in the headline
  • Positioning a product or service line to that the headline can begin with “best” or end in a definitive declaration such as …“right now” or “X minutes?”

Most importantly, make it a part of your content strategy to test out your own variations – develop mini A/B tests to clarify what works best for your market and, in particular, for your different audiences. 

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How to Use Digital and Social Media to Recruit Participants into Research Studies

This slide deck was presented at the 2017 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting. It provided a general overview of the topic and addresses the following learning objectives …
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Social media’s influence is growing—but some radiologists remain unimpressed

Social media’s influence is growing—but some radiologists remain unimpressed | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media has displayed “an increased reach into the medical community,” but it is still underutilized by certain groups in radiology, according to a new study published in Academic Radiology.

The authors sent out an anonymous survey about social media to both trainees and faculty at a large academic radiology practice. Out of more than 100 respondents, 83 percent answered that they use social media in at least some capacity. Breaking it down to specific sites, 67 percent of respondents answered that they use Facebook, 57 percent said they use YouTube, 26 percent said they use Instagram and 21 percent said they use Twitter.

Social media’s potential as a learning tool was also explored.

“[Social media] offers radiology educators the ability to engage with other teachers and learners within and across institutions, as well as within and across medical specialties,” wrote Nicholas A. Koontz, MD, department of radiology and imaging sciences at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, and colleagues. “In this regard, the potential for multidisciplinary educational collaboration is tremendous.”

While 35 percent of respondents said they had previously used social media for their own education, 66 percent said they would be willing to join social media for “educational activities.”

The study also showed a few ways the perspective of trainees differ from faculty members. For instance, while 30 percent of faculty members said they avoid using social media, that number was just 9 percent when looking at responses from trainees.

In addition, established specialists see less value in using social media-based “case of the day” activities. “Trainees reported being more likely to find an electronic case-based curriculum valuable for training or education than attending radiologists,” the authors wrote. “Faculty were willing to spend less time daily engaging in a case-based curriculum.”

Similar differences also exist between different generations within radiology. Seventy-four percent of gen X/millennial respondents said they utilized Facebook, for example, compared to 29 percent of baby boomers.

Koontz et al. added that there are “potential pitfalls” to social media that must be avoided. Users need to make sure they never put protected health information at risk, for instance, and unmoderated discussion threads can lead to an atmosphere of bullying or harassment.

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Blogging Gives Patients Freedom of the Press— and That’s Freedom to Be Heard

Blogging Gives Patients Freedom of the Press— and That’s Freedom to Be Heard | Social Media and Healthcare |

Editor's Note: This essay is part of our weekly #TimeLessWisdom series, in which we're highlighting one of the contributions from our 2012 book, Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care. Learn more about the series.

American journalist A. J. Liebling famously said, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” Blogging gives you one.

It’s not just a happy metaphor, either. A generation ago the only way to get your thoughts to a wider audience was through broadcast or print, and the only way to do that was with big capital equipment. To be heard, you had to go through people who had that capital. They had to bless your words, or you couldn’t get at their equipment. With a blog, the only resource you need is computer access. Profound. Not only do you not need permission: you can say anything you want.

Blogs are free and public. They sprinkle ideas like seeds in soil: some never take root, but some do and sprout, and some of those sprouts grow tall. Some get noticed and some don’t, but that doesn’t hold you back: you can express whatever you want.

Consider what happened to me.

I started a blog because I’d beaten a usually fatal cancer. (Good enough.) I wrote whatever I felt like, ranging from thanking my doctors to ranting about statistics and touting my hobby (barbershop singing). Then I got interested in health care and wrote about that but not that much.

But in 2009, I wrote about my medical records, and in less than a month it bent federal policy. I’d discovered my insurance billing history was a mess, and unbeknownst to me, the post stomped in a mud puddle of policy being discussed in Washington. Twelve days later it was on the front page of the newspaper. Pretty soon the proposed policy was ditched—because of one middle-aged guy from New Hampshire, in a recliner New Hampshire just writing what he was thinking.

I didn’t even try to do this, but blogging generated invitations to federal policy meetings, and invitations to speak at conferences to doctors, patients, and policy people. Who knew?

Perhaps you’re like Amy Tenderich of DiabetesMine, who simply wanted to connect with others to discuss her condition. Or, you’re like Kelly Young of, who started writing about her condition and soon attracted thousands of followers. You might be like Robin Smith and her friends in the Cushing’s community, who discovered each other across vast distances. Each of these patient blogs was started by someone who initially had no idea whether anyone would listen and then discovered that many would—and did.

What’s on your mind that you’d like to express? Even if nobody’s listening? Go for it; someone might.

Dave deBronkart (a.k.a. @ePatientDave) is a Platinum Fellow in the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network.

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Cosmetic Surgery on Social Media – Patients Rate Preferred Social Media Sites and Content

Cosmetic Surgery on Social Media – Patients Rate Preferred Social Media Sites and Content | Social Media and Healthcare |

Plastic surgeons using social media to attract patients should know their audience's preferred social media platforms and the types of posts of greatest interest, according to a survey study in the November issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

"Plastic surgeons can utilize social media best by considering their target audience's perspective," said Heather Furnas, MD, of Plastic Surgery Associates of Santa Rosa, Calif. Dr. Furnas is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The survey also suggests that patients rely on the plastic surgery practice's website over social media when seeking important information.

Plastic Surgeons on Social Media – The Patient's Perspective

Dr. Furnas and coauthors surveyed 100 patients making visits to their aesthetic plastic surgery practice regarding social media habits and preferences. The patients, average age 44 years, were nearly all women. Most were interested in facial plastic surgery; some were interested in breast, body, or other cosmetic procedures.

Among six social media platforms listed in the survey, Facebook was the clear winner in terms of use and engagement—about half of patients said they checked Facebook at least once daily. Instagram was second in engagement, with 30 percent of patients reporting at least daily use.

Most patients used YouTube and Pinterest, but engagement was low. While only about one-fourth of patients were on Snapchat, most of them used it daily. Twitter was the least popular social media platform.

The plastic surgery practice's website beat out all social media platforms as the go-to source of online information. More than half of patients said they were influenced by the website when selecting a cosmetic surgery practice, compared to just eight percent for Facebook. More than 60 percent of patients checked the practice website on the day of their visit.

Out of 11 social media post categories, most patients chose before-and-after photos of cosmetic surgery procedures. More than one-fourth wanted to see information about the procedures; few selected didactic types of information.

Plastic surgeons can better reach and engage with their target population if they use the social media networks popular with their patients’ demographic. For example, women prefer Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, but Facebook in particular is most popular among the age group of women most likely to be interested in plastic surgery. While Twitter is widely used by plastic surgeons to share and discuss research, the new survey suggests it's the least popular platform among cosmetic surgery patients.

The fleeting content on social media may be less important than the information provided by the plastic surgeon's practice website.

"These results suggest that the website should be considered the centerpiece of a practice's online content," Dr. Furnas and coauthors write. "Social media should be viewed as an adjunct to attract and engage users, enticing them to explore the practice website."

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Video Of Florida Doctor Confrontation With Patient Goes Viral

Video Of Florida Doctor Confrontation With Patient Goes Viral | Social Media and Healthcare |

Don't like reality television shows? Well, if you aren't careful, you could inadvertently be on one, in a way. The following video of an exchange between a doctor and a patient in a Florida Gainesville After-Hours Clinic went viral (as in social media viral and not real virus viral), after it was posted by Jessica Stipe on Facebook:


And surprise! Lots of people on the Interwebs and social media then quickly judged the patient and the doctor. Opinions ranged from blaming the doctor to blaming the patient such as:

Guess what?! Doctors are humans to. This woman abused his staff and he stood up for them. He deserves a raise!

— Jo March (@kmknight7923) October 13, 2017


The Gainesville After Hours Clinic responded by posting a statement on its Facebook account from the doctor, Peter Gallogly, MD. Dr. Gallogly claimed that the video segment came after, "Ms. Stipe had been increasingly belligerent and abusive to the office staff, cursing and threatening them with violence, because she was unwell and had been waiting to be seen by me for more than an hour." He added, “At the very end of the events, I most regrettably lost my temper, and spoke to the women in a most unprofessional manner. I make no excuses for my unacceptable behavior.”

The video snippet was a bit like the final or second to last episode of a reality TV season series and certainly did not capture the whole sequence of events. Thus, we can't yet tell for sure what exactly the patient did to provoke the doctor's response, what the doctor and staff members may have said prior to the segment, and whether this was this was an isolated incident or part of a pattern of behavior for everyone involved. Time and further investigation may tell. 


Welcome to the world where almost everyone can have a portable camera. You know the Police song "Every Breath You Take"? Well, like it or not, doctors, other health care workers and the health care system need to realize and recognize that "I'll be watching you" now applies nearly everywhere, for better or for worse. One moment you may be quietly (or noisily) practicing medicine and the next moment you're like The Situation on The Jersey Shore or Omarosa on The Apprentice.

This certainly changes the practice of medicine and how health systems operate. On the positive side, cameras can expose truly bad behavior and hold people and health systems more accountable. As a result, such a spotlight may help improve patient care and health care systems and can also protect health care workers when they are treated unfairly, threatened, or assaulted. Recall what happened to nurse Alex Wubbels in Utah:

On the negative side, cameras can also invade privacy, interfere with trust, and put well-meaning doctors and other health care workers under even more undue and unreasonable stress to be perfect. They can also help frame health care workers, literally and figuratively, when only a segment of the whole story is shown.

Either way, smartphone cameras aren't going away. So health care workers, medical schools, training programs and health care systems need to understand the potential ramifications and adapt. The reality is that they are increasingly becoming part of an ongoing reality show that could go viral at any moment.

Follow me on Twitter @bruce_y_lee and visit our Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Read my other Forbes pieces here.

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patient advocacy in an age of social media 

patient advocacy in an age of social media  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media platforms are an incredibly powerful tool and have been the main empowerment tool for patients. How is social media disrupting traditional patient advocacy and what must pharma do to stay ahead?


How have social media platforms changed traditional patient advocacy?

  • Social media allows for global networking & making connections worldwide is easier
  • Social media makes it easier to get message across instantaneously – real-time communication
  • Social media makes it easier for patient advocates to network or interact with other patients
  • Social media makes it easier to meet and reach new communities/patients or consumers
  • Social media allows for remote patient advocating; establishing and explaining your position not only with policymakers but with the public
  • Social media allows patient advocates to share clinical trial results and clinical research findings
  • Social media platforms are free and are cost-effective communication tools


How can you identify an influential patient advocate online?

  • Patient advocates engage in Tweet Chats – discussing important topics relevant to their disease areas
  • Patient advocates interact with online healthcare professionals
  • Patient advocates facilitate information creation and sharing
  • Patient advocates follow proper hashtags for disease topics
  • Patient advocates are bloggers that share their experiences


What are some of the tools out there for patient advocacy?



  • Tweet chats take place on Twitter platform and allow for conversations to take place around a keyword or hashtag. For example #BCSM (breast cancer social media)


Which social media platforms are best for patient advocacy?

  • Patients are meeting on different social platforms.
  • They join a FB group.
  • They recount their own story by Instagram.
  • They meet and share information and experiences on Twitter through tweet chats.
  • They blog their illness.


How can pharma use social media to embrace this movement and improve the patient experience?

  • Pharma needs to join in the conversation.
  • By engaging on social forums, pharma may better learn what questions patients are asking and what their real needs are.
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Four Pillars of B2B Healthcare Content Marketing

Although healthcare providers have always communicated their message to other businesses, it has always had a slow evolution.
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3 Ways Social Media Revolutionized Medical Care

3 Ways Social Media Revolutionized Medical Care | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media has inarguably taken the world by storm. From Twitter to Facebook, users worldwide are more connected now more than ever, and the healthcare industry has not been left out.

People are actively discussing health issues on social media, sharing experiences and engaging with healthcare professionals.

In 2012, Pricewaterhouse Cooper carried out a consumer survey of 1,060 U.S. adults, and the results—which were published in its aptly titled publication, Social Media “Likes” Healthcare—showed that one-third of U.S. consumers “are using the social space as a natural habitat for health discussions.”

Social media use is particularly high among patients with chronic diseases. A 2010 report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that more than one-half of e-patients living with chronic diseases consume user-generated health information.

But what are the specific ways social media has impacted medical care, especially for patients? We’ll take a look at the three major ways below.


Social media sites are insanely popular. Sites like Facebook house nearly one-fifth of the world’s population, and seven in 10 Americans use social media.

These numbers present infinite opportunities for patients to connect not only with professionals, but also with people going through similar experiences. Patients can reach out to medical professionals and maintain relationships with them outside of the consulting room.

Online communities for patients, such as Facebook groups, are so popular that they have become the subject of scholarly research. A 2011 study found 620 breast cancer groups on Facebook containing a total of 1,090,397 members. These groups are used to raise awareness and funds and provide support.

Natt Garun, technology editor for The Verge, shared her story of how a Facebook support group helped in her cancer struggle.

What’s more, 88 percent of doctors use social media to research pharmaceutical, biotech and medical devices, and 60 percent of doctors say social media improves the quality of care delivered to patients. Clearly, it’s a win-win for both doctors and patients.

Less widely known sites such as Doximity work like Facebook, allowing medical practitioners to connect and interact with each other.


This is by far one of the most important ways social media has impacted health care. 80 percent of internet users are specifically searching for health information, and 40 percent of those are looking for a specific doctor or healthcare professional. This is interesting because 72 percent of all internet users are active social media users.

Of course, seeking health information on the internet presents its own problems: People are much more likely to wrongly self-diagnose or to access wrong information.

“The Internet is full of nonsense, hype, clickbait and ridiculous information about all kinds of health and medical elixirs and remedies that have no basis in fact,” says Art Caplan from the division of medical ethics at the School of Medicine at New York University. And he rightly poses the question: “If you think about it, how often do you actually see a doctor, an established scientist out there, trying to correct or engage the public with scientific, verified, evidence-based information?”

The bright side is that 60 percent of social media users are also more likely to trust social media posts by doctors over any other group. Leading healthcare organizations and companies have obviously gotten the message and are actively building their social presences, effectively reaching consumers where they hang out. More hospitals, professionals, and clinics are getting online and putting the right information where their patients can access them.

Take the approach of the New York Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy (NYDNRehab) clinic, an 18-year old private establishment specializing in rehabilitation and physical therapy. The clinic understands that a lot of misinformation exists online in the physical therapy niche, and traditionally, it would be difficult for patients to access quality information. This is why it has completely embraced social.

The clinic regularly shares actionable tips with thousands of its followers on Twitter and Facebook. For more difficult concepts, such as virtual reality using Computer-Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN), it turns to YouTube, recording detailed videos of typical sessions at the clinic. The clinic director, Lev Kalika, also actively engages on Yelp, addressing even the most negative reviews about the clinic.

“Communication is a big part of our responsibility in talking with the public,” says Caplan. “I think doctors and scientists, to be regarded as professionals, really should take on the duty of trying to be an antidote to what is often nonsense, or worse than nonsense, in the social media world.”


On social media, power has changed hands. Social media has given patients the space to vent their frustrations and anger and to collectively follow up on causes they feel most compelled to join. This keeps healthcare providers and policymakers on their toes. A patient who has a bad experience at a particular healthcare facility is only one tweet or Facebook post away from sharing the experience with the world.

But accountability is not a one-sided affair. For patients, sharing experiences of their own health struggles, such as weight-loss efforts, also makes them accountable. A study conducted at the Georgia Institute of Technology found that people who expressed positive sentiments on Twitter were more likely to reach their diet goals. Social media, for all of its ills, still present great ways for people to improve their health.


Although social media presents a lot of benefits in terms of information access and improving public relations with healthcare professionals, many medical practitioners are still reluctant about joining the bandwagon, with the top reason being the blurred lines between what is appropriate to share on social media and what is not.

One thing is clear, though: Healthcare organizations that are serious about reaching more audiences or interacting better with existing audiences should be on social media. As the internet evolves, the right balance between information sharing and relationship building on social media for the healthcare industry will gradually emerge.

Pius Boachie is a freelance writer and inbound marketing consultant who works closely with business-to-consumer and business-to-business brands on providing content that gains social media attention and increases search-engine visibility. He shares actionable marketing ideas for businesses on his blog, Digimatic.

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Gareth Thomas - #EngageWell 7 November

Social media in the hands of a patient experience team presentation from #EngageWell: Patient and public engagement on social media
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Is It A Good Idea To Share Patient Info On Social Media?

Is It A Good Idea To Share Patient Info On Social Media? | Social Media and Healthcare |

In August, a doctor in Spain posted x-ray and microscopic pictures from a man's thigh on Twitter, asking for help.

The physician was concerned that he had cancer.

But the images that pathologist Jerad Gardner saw on his screen in Little Rock, Ark., reminded him of something else he had come across a few times — a benign tumor that looked like a rare form of cancer. He suggested the Spanish doctor perform a molecular DNA test. It ultimately revealed that the tumor wasn't cancerous.

No one thinks that doctors should make a diagnosis via Twitter. But there is a growing movement to use social media to share information. And Gardner, an associate professor pathology and dermatology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, is one of the pioneers, building a community of followers and colleagues on Twitter and Facebook.

"Dr. Gardner is a leader in approaching diagnoses in new ways, embracing the latest technologies and innovations medicine has at its fingertips, " says Dr. R. Bruce Williams, president of the College of American Pathologists, an organization that advances the practice of pathology and laboratory science.


As with almost every use of social media, this practice has its critics as well as its supporters.

Telepathology — sending images to diagnose, educate and research diseases — began decades ago, says Dr. Ronald Weinstein, director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program at the University of Arizona.

Weinstein is sometimes described as the "father of telepathology." In fact, he is reported to have coined the term. He wrote the first paper on the topic and organized the first international exchange between the U.S. and China in 1993 — using the fiber-optic cables of an international phone to transmit microscopic photos.

But when it comes to asking for opinions on social media, "there are legal, regulatory and 'quality of service' issues," Weinstein says. Is the remote physician licensed in the country where the patient lives? Are patients giving informed consent for their doctor to share when their photos are published online? And is medical information being transferred securely for the patient's privacy and confidentiality?

The 35-year-old Gardner started out by Facebook-friending peers he met at annual medical meetings. In 2013, he created two discussion groups on the social media site. One focused on skin conditions and the other focused on tumors found in bones and soft tissue. He thought he would post a few interesting medical cases for fellow pathologists, who study diseases.

"Before I knew it, people from all over the world were posting cases and asking not for official advice but for an approach on how to handle cases."

Thousands of people entered the groups within the first few months and more than 47,000 people have joined so far. They are doctors and nurses, medical students and, sometimes, patients. Members come from all corners of the world, from Nepal to Syria to Colombia.

One time, a doctor in Afghanistan emailed Gardner pathology images from a young man who had nodules on his neck, chest and other body parts. He had been seeing doctors for years and receiving treatment for tuberculosis. Gardner recognized his condition as a fungal infection and suggested the doctors test for HIV because of the fungus' spread across his body.

The HIV hunch was not correct. The patient tested negative.

But Gardner also sent the doctor a chapter of a book he was co-authoring that described how farmers are often infected by the fungus through a pre-existing wound, since the fungus naturally exists in soil and plant matter. The Afghan doctor learned that the patient had been in a car accident that sent him flying into a vegetable field. "Perhaps he had multiple, small penetrating injuries when he crashed into the farm field," Gardner wondered in an email. The patient started a treatment for the fungus and his condition improved in follow-up visits.


Gardner's YouTube and Snapchat channels, launched in Nov. 2012 and Feb. 2017 respectively, feature instructive videos and photos. And on Instagram, which he joined in May 2015, he posts images of cells that are meant to show practitioners new diseases but that could pass for abstract art.

"Awesome rainbow polarization of urate crystals from gouty tophus. Pretty but painful," he writes to his 29,000 followers.

Gardner also uses social media to communicate directly with people who have been diagnosed with rare cancers. They mainly want to know more about their own diseases.

Once, Gardner says that a woman who had a rare type of cancer caused by a defect in her DNA asked, "If it's in my genes, then my kid will get this, won't they?" Gardner explained that with her kind of cancer, only the tumor cells mutate. There wasn't an increased risk for her child because the mutation isn't inherited.

"That mom probably lay in bed at night worrying that her kid had this bad risk of getting cancer, and it just took me 30 seconds of time to explain," Gardner says.

Weinstein says there may also be cultural barriers and ethical questions when working with people from afar. In developing or war-torn countries, patients might find out that they need treatment that doctors nearby don't have the resources to provide.

Gardner, a fellow at the College of American Pathologists, acknowledges this and other challenges.

"I'm no stranger to criticisms about social media. It's been a long uphill fight to convince my colleagues that this is something we should do and I know there are still naysayers. Most of those are people who don't actually use social media so they don't really understand how it works."

In terms of privacy, he says that images where identifying information is left out "do not require patient permission to post on social media, either ethically or legally." An article he co-authored, published in the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, states that images omitting a patient's identifying details on social media, just like in medical journals, don't violate privacy law.

In Gardner's view, it's a good thing if "everything on social media is public. If I do something wrong other people can call me out on it immediately." He adds that the immediacy and wide reach of social media offer benefits not found in medical journals — but with caveats.

"These are great places for people to think through different possibilities, but they certainly don't take the place of a real consult," he says. He stresses that doctors and patients use caution. "Anyone can say anything in a Facebook group or anywhere on social media. Just like you can't trust things that you read on the Internet, you have to take them with a grain of salt and do your own research."

On any given day, Gardner interacts with 10-20 people online. Sometimes he looks at pictures and tells health care workers that he just doesn't know. Sometimes he argues with doctors, as in a case where he disagreed with a pathologist's analysis of a mass on a child's face in India. Gardner didn't think the images showed cancer and worried that invasive surgery would leave the young patient scarred for life. As with some online interactions, he never found out what happened to the child.

The virtual exchanges occasionally blur with real life. Gardner has published papers with fellow pathologists whom he has only met online. Some have become actual friends, like a Turkish pathologist who flew 400 miles within Turkey to meet Gardner when he was attending a conference in Istanbul.

Anurag Sharma, now a research fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, has been following Gardner on social media since 2013, when he was a pathology resident in India. He says his program lacked resources but that Gardner's posts gave him more chances to learn:

"Jerad was my Facebook mentor and his updates taught me much more than I would have learned just in my residency training. Thanks to his amazing Facebook pages, I was able to access [images of] the rarest of the rare [cancer] cases and the approach that world famous pathologists follow to diagnose them."

Jaime Mejia, a Colombian pathologist, adds that through the discussion groups, Gardner "has given us the opportunity to get involved with other pathologists around the globe."

Gardner doles out digital insights in his spare time, during gaps in his day. He might be checking his Twitter or Facebook feeds from his iPhone early in the morning, while getting haircuts, at weddings or waiting in line at Disney World on family vacations.

It's a far cry from the first cell phone he got at 19. The main purpose of his "Nokia brick" was to keep in touch with his future wife — now a child psychiatrist but at the time a young woman he met at a punk rock concert.

Sasha Ingber is a multimedia journalist who has covered science, culture and foreign affairs for such publications as National Geographic, The Washington Post Magazine and Smithsonian. Contact her @SashaIngber

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Build Medical Practice Brand Through Social Media Marketing

Build Medical Practice Brand Through Social Media Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

Connecting with patients on social media allows you to engage, educate and forge a lasting connection with them, sometimes long before they need your help at all. When you connect on channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you become a regular, trusted presence in your prospective patients’ lives; when they have a need, they know where to turn.

Knowing you need a presence is just the beginning. What you post and how you engage with prospective patients will have a big impact on your success. Provide the right content at the right time and you should see steady growth over time, making it easy for you to reach people right in your own community. Regular attention to your social media campaigns also makes it easier than ever to connect with your local community and take a place as a trusted authority brand. When you post to your own local prospects, they see you as someone close at hand, not some anonymous brand on the Internet. Here are 3 ways social media can establish your brand and help you grow your medical practice.

Educate Current and Future Patients

Providing a steady stream of educational and informative content allows you to easily position yourself and your practice as the experts you are. You do not have to create everything yourself. Sharing authoritative content from other sites that are not your competitors still informs your patients and helps position you as somewhere to turn for help when they need it.

Share information that is easily understood and that helps explain the type of work you do, procedures you offer and that answers the most commonly asked patient questions. Your own content from your blog, posts and consumer friendly information from national organizations and groups and other interesting content can be shared regularly to help inform your patients and keep them in the know.

You’ll end up with more savvy patients who know where to go when they have a question or need—right to you.

Promote your Initiatives and Practice

In addition to offering a steady stream of relevant and useful content about the conditions, populations and areas you treat, social media is an ideal place to promote your own initiatives and practice.

Related Article: Use Digital Marketing to Increase Visibility with Potential Patients

Create ads or images sharing that you are looking for new patients, share the news about your latest achievements or even promote community sponsored events you take part in. If you help raise awareness about proper brushing habits for school kids, then a photo of your visit to the local 3rd grade classroom can be used across all your social channels. Hosting or participating in a blood drive, awareness campaign or safety/wellness screening? These details can be promoted on your social pages as well.

Sharing the news about your actions, initiatives and work lets prospective patients know you are actively at work to make their lives better and that you are looking out for them. These posts can help trigger a phone call or prompt an online appointment when a patient is in need.

Join the Conversation

Your group or posts should not be all about you. Share community news and images of events you participate in and join local groups to participate in the conversation. You’ll be more accessible and reachable to those right in your target audience.

You don’t need to take on an overwhelming schedule or hire a social media specialist unless you want to. Free programs like Moz and Hootsuite make it easy to schedule all your posts in advance in a relatively short period of time. Once you are posting consistently, you’ll begin to see a steady flow of followers and patients who connect with you online and eventually, make it into the office.

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Why surgeons should get on social media, according to the Harvard Business Review

Why surgeons should get on social media, according to the Harvard Business Review | Social Media and Healthcare |

In an age when the surgical community is increasingly dispersed, social media sites can serve as platforms where surgeons can interact with one another to acquire new knowledge and skills, according to experts writing for the Harvard Business Review.

Social media use in health care and IT implications 

The piece is written by Christopher Myers, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School and Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety & Quality; Yusef Kudsi, an assistant professor of surgery at the Tufts University School of Medicineand a practicing surgeon; and Amir Ghaferi, an associate professor of surgery and business at the University of Michigan and a practicing surgeon.

The importance of interacting

According to the authors, peer-to-peer interaction is a critical method of professional development among surgeons. For instance, academic surgical departments hold weekly Morbidity and Mortality meetings to review cases and improve care, and research suggests that surgeons in solo practice, who may have less peer interaction, score lower on the American Board of Surgeons Maintenance of Certification exams than do their group practice counterparts—except when the solo practitioners reported higher levels of social engagement with colleagues.



But as the field of surgery has increasingly specialized in practice, grown in number, and become more geographically diverse, "surgeons are less able to rely on casual hallway conversations, conferences, or other informal knowledge sharing strategies to learn from each other and stay sufficiently up to date with new techniques or practices," the authors contend.

What social media offers                                  

In turn, the authors write, social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, "have emerged as powerful tools for keeping surgeons connected."

For instance, Facebook groups like the International Hernia Collaboration (IHC) and the Robotic Surgery Collaboration (RSC), which Kudsi founded, let surgeons worldwide share de-identified cases, ask questions, and share their experiences about certain practices and techniques, the authors explain. They cite research that indicates surgeons are actively and intentionally engaging in at least one of the groups, RSC, with surgeons checking in with the group during workdays and text-only posts generating back-and-forth commentary (which at least one study indicates helps foster vicarious learning).

One RSC user described the group as "a safe space to challenge ideas, post videos to get tips on how to do things better, and generally advance medicine collectively." But the social media groups' benefits can go beyond an exchange of ideas and actually help surgeons learn new techniques. For instance, Ghaferi was able to use the IHC Facebook group to learn a new surgical technique which had positive clinical outcomes among his patients.

The authors also discuss the value of Twitter, citing instances when stakeholders have had "TweetChat[s]" to discuss surgical treatment and disease management or used hashtags such as #NYerORCoverChallenge and #ILookLikeASurgeon to bring attention to the underrepresentation of women and minority groups in the surgical field.

According to the authors, online forums such as Facebook and Twitter also offer the opportunity for diverse input that might be absent in a clinical setting. The settings allow non-surgeons to participate and garner benefits—for instance, according to the authors, a surgical assistant member of the RSC said participation in the group "has made [the user] a better assistant."



Challenges and how to address them

Despite these benefits, the authors acknowledge that "significant managerial and legal barriers" can impede "the broad adoption of these platforms."

For instance, the authors note that while leading social media groups call for "dedicated effort and oversight," such a role "does not fit neatly into existing paradigms or leadership structures in the field of surgery." Those in the health care industry "will have to determine how to recognize, validate, and reward these learning-oriented efforts," the authors write, suggesting a new provider role that would manage social media similar to the chair of a Morbidity and Mortality conference.

At the same time, however, the authors note that the benefits these groups afford—such as their size, reach, and cross-institutional composition—make them "inherently more difficult to govern and manage." On this front, the authors call for "dedicated guidelines from major professional organizations or support from hospital leadership."

The authors acknowledge that some physicians may be hesitant to "engage professionally on social media," for several reasons, with perhaps "the most pressing and anxiety-producing" reason being "how a surgeon's social media activity would be treated in a malpractice lawsuit." The authors point out that while conventional peer review and quality improvement efforts are traditionally protected from being subject to legal discovery—which they say suggests that social media discussions might be similarly shielded—"there are no state or federal statutes that specifically protect social media groups."

Ultimately, the authors acknowledge that "social media will never completely replace in-depth, face-to-face interactions as a forum for vicarious learning in the surgical community." Nonetheless, "in an era where the practice of surgery is evolving faster, spreading farther, and involving greater numbers of people, social media provides a scalable tool that can augment in-person learning opportunities," the authors write. They conclude by calling for health care leaders and professional organizations to "embrace [social media's] potential and work to combat its current limitations" (Myers et al., Harvard Business Review, 10/30; MacDonald, FierceHealthcare, 10/31).

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Connecting moms-to-be and doctors online can boost vaccination rates, study says

Connecting moms-to-be and doctors online can boost vaccination rates, study says | Social Media and Healthcare |

Being able to connect with doctors online during pregnancy about vaccine concerns may encourage new mothers to make sure their babies get all the recommended shots, according to a new study in Colorado.

Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Colorado Institute for Health Research found that, when moms-to-be were able to ask questions of doctors and other experts through a specially made website, their children were significantly more likely to be fully vaccinated after six months than if the moms weren’t given the option of online interaction.

The study could change how and when doctors start talking to expectant parents about vaccination because it appears that families are already searching for information about vaccines before their babies are born.

“It suggests that maybe at those well-baby visits (after birth) it is a little too late,” said Jason Glanz, a senior investigator at the institute and the study’s lead author. “They’ve already made their decision.”

The study is published this week in the journal Pediatrics.

Colorado once had one of the lower childhood vaccination rates in the country but has recently seen its ranking rise. One of Glanz’s research interests is how to increase vaccination rates among kids.For this study, he and his colleagues recruited 888 pregnant women in Colorado and assigned them to three equal groups. One group received the care and information that is currently standard practice. But women in the two other groups had access to a new website with vaccine information that the institute built for the study. Half of those women had access to an enhanced feature on the website: the ability to interact with doctors, other experts and each other as they might on social media.

Glanz said researchers found that the moms-to-be who had access to the social media component rarely asked questions of each other. But they did frequently ask questions of the doctors and other experts.

When the study was done — six months after the birth of the women’s children — those families receiving the usual care and those with access to just the informational website showed no significant difference in vaccination rates. But kids whose mothers had access to the social media component of the website were twice as likely to be fully vaccinated as those whose mothers just received the standard care.

Glanz said the result convinced researchers that providing earlier and more varied opportunities for expectant parents to talk with doctors about vaccines will boost vaccination rates.

“The follow-up,” he said, “is to figure out how to implement this into care.”

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What does social media listening actually tell us? - PMLiVE

What does social media listening actually tell us? - PMLiVE | Social Media and Healthcare |

It goes without saying: a conversation is a two-way thing. Why, then, do we focus so heavily on talking rather than listening? Don’t get us wrong, we are not referring to the general conversations between pharma and customers – but more specifically to pharma social media teams.The phrase ‘you must listen to your customers’ has been alive and well for centuries but, worryingly, is largely neglected when it comes to social media platforms. On these platforms, there’s a tendency to thrust information at recipients rather than respond to what they ask for. 

In other words, to talk rather than listen. 

Pharma social media is a weird and baffling universe at the best of times, and it’s hard to think in terms of it being a ‘conversation’ between two parties when there are, well, millions of parties involved. 

Yet the first step to understanding social media, in a business sense, is to cement this belief. Try not to think of pharma social media as a platform to get your message across, but rather as a meeting place between you and your customers. The second (and more difficult) step is to understand how the conversation unfurls from then on. 

But how... and why... should we ‘listen’?
There are a number of reasons why social media is not viewed as a ‘conversation’ between companies and customers, and these don’t just apply to pharma. The most obvious reason is that the countless social media users out there are faceless, and we haven’t a direct motive to talk to each other (as we have with patients who need to obtain treatments, for example). 
Yet from a research perspective, there’s a wealth of wisdom to be garnered from these unknown entities. They have experiences, opinions and ideas which could be used to improve both treatments and practices (such as reports of side effects and effective drug combinations, for example) – and the methods we use to promote ourselves and our products. The limits and regulations which accompany the usual drug trials do not apply, and the number of participants is endless. And on top of this, these participants do not know they are such – so feel under no pressure to give the ‘right answers’ and will be more honest as a result. 

Of course, it is naive to think that ‘listening’ to all these people is as straightforward as conducting a trial with a set number of volunteers in a defined environment. Yet with time and dedication, there’s every reason to suggest that this science can be perfected. 

And in response to the suggestion that social media users don’t represent the ‘average’ patients, in a survey conducted by Novartis and IMS Health on MS patients, 10,000 pharma social media posts were reviewed to test the “applicability of social media analysis to outcomes research using automated listening combined with filtering and analysis of data by specialists.” The team concluded, positively, that social media intelligence has “the power to analyse MS patients’ personal experiences of treatments, and to chart the most common reasons for switching between therapies.” 

In short, listening to pharma social media can, potentially, be as effective as trials, surveys or any other form of research. The hard work, however, will come in mastering this new science for the best patient (and pharma) outcomes. 

Marketing and ‘people power’
Besides the hard facts and analysis, listening to social media arms us with something abstract and unquantifiable: the ‘finger on the pulse’ of society. 
Understandably, this ‘unquantifiable’ aspect fills many pharma professionals with dread. Questions such as “How can we trust data that isn’t concrete?” abound, and naturally so. 

Yet fortunately, the internet whizzes out there have developed all manner of data analysis methods which study trends and algorithms, and these can all be accessed to give an overview of what your ‘customers’ (i.e. patients, healthcare professionals (HCPs) and doctors) are talking, asking and worrying about. Armed with this knowledge, you can better see how you can answer their concerns and fit in with their lives. And with further analysis of which forums and sites your public visit the most, you’ll know where to find them too. 

Unlike the world of medicine, the world of marketing is as much about the unknown as the known. In other words, results aren’t always visible! Marketers go to great lengths to foster relationships with customers before any kind of material gain is seen, and these relationships are forged through simply ‘being there’ first. The finger on the pulse helps you to know which questions need to be answered, so in effect your customer takes the lead. 

But where does that lead you? Well in the long run, you develop the reputation of an expert in your field – and one who they trust, on top of that. And the domino effect of this is that customers tell their friends, who tell their friends, and so on. Have faith in the future! 

You don’t need me to tell you that ‘listening to the customer’ is essential in developing a fruitful relationship with them, but perhaps you need some encouragement in the knowledge that social media can be the place where this relationship prospers. It is thriving in other industries, so there’s no reason why pharma can’t join the party.

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Marketing for Doctors, Don’t Just Rely on Patient Referrals

Marketing for Doctors, Don’t Just Rely on Patient Referrals | Social Media and Healthcare |

Healthcare marketing is vital for doctors; having a coherent strategy to attract and maintain customers should be at the forefront of any serious medical professional’s agenda. If conducted effectively, marketing will boost brand recognition, attract new patients and increase revenue. The competitive business environment in the healthcare system calls for well executed marketing.

With the advances in technology and a transformed market, marketing for doctors has become not only arduous but also complicated. The technological renaissance has seen the emergence of an extremely tech-savvy group of consumers. As a result. the choices facing a doctor is no longer arbitrary but calculated. This, therefore, calls for the utilization of different mechanisms to reach the target markets. Of importance in this technological era is a doctor’s online presence which goes a long way in determining whether prospective patients will discover the doctor and then make initial contact. Patients are particularly mindful of online reviews and research before settling on a physician.

Online Reviews And Ratings



It has become quite evident that not having a strong online presence proves disastrous for doctors who are looking to improve their patient base. A recent survey indicates that about 84% of patients rely on online reviews to choose a physician. Online review sites allow patients to access extensive medical information and help them to make informed choices. These sites also allow patients to find their preferred physicians within their local area.

Ensuring a robust online presence with a solid reputation and review management program enables a dental or medical office to get more positive reviews and subsequently more new patients. Patients enhance brand credibility through recommendations and testimonials. Having a specialized website and good medical blog is one way of capturing the attention of these internet users.

Encouraging Positive Reviews

To ensure a successful medical practice, a good online reputation is paramount. One way of bolstering an excellent online rating is encouraging positive evaluations. For instance, doctors may openly ask patients to leave positive comments on their websites and other online profiles. Sending out thank you emails to new clients is a sure way to get on good terms with patients.

Medical Marketing Companies

Working and maintaining a solid online brand and presence can be a daunting task. Fortunately, the advent of medical marketing companies, including Optimized360, seek to remedy the situation as doctors may opt to contract the services of such companies to conduct the online branding, marketing and advertising. Most of these web design and marketing companies adopt an integrated approach which includes providing online platforms for physicians and availing contact information and advocacy.

The Power Of Social Media



The impact of social media on online marketing cannot be overstated. People are increasingly using social media applications such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. A doctor may take advantage of these to reach a wider audience. Facebook, for instance, provides paid advertising which ensures that a post reaches many target and local users. Scheduling regular posts on your Facebook and Twitter pages is a very good strategy that keeps patients updated and attracts prospective ones. It also strengthens brand reputation and recognition.

Social media pages also make it easier for patients to contact doctors and obtain critical information. The use of social media also comes with its fair share of implications because it can build or break a brand. A doctor’s reputation is intricately connected to his stances and views on specific issues. Reckless posts that offend particular segments of society may result in loss of business. It is therefore essential that a physician projects his brand responsibly.

Open House Marketing

Hosting an open-house complete with refreshments and prizes is another efficient medical marketing technique. The public can be informed of the happening via Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and other social apps. Such an event would accord the doctor an opportunity to invite the public, referral agents, and colleagues and engage with them on a personalized level. It is worth noting that having first-hand information may have a lasting impression on individuals as compared to secondary sources. People are therefore likely to sign up with a particular doctor after a close interaction. This open-house strategy may also be used as a community awareness program which would inadvertently improve a physician’s brand.

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Digital and Social Media in Pharma

It is all about the Digital and Social Media in Pharma industry with special reference to India. In this described physicians preference with the key digital i…
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Five tips for using social media to better reach your patient community 

Five tips for using social media to better reach your patient community  | Social Media and Healthcare |

As patient advocates, one of our biggest responsibilities is providing strong, factual and supportive information to patients. This is certainly true for us at the National Association for Continence (NAFC) during a time like Bladder Health Awareness Month when a lot of the patients, caregivers and consumers we target are looking for information around bowel and bladder incontinence.

One of our biggest tools to help us provide this information to the community during this crucial month is social media. Every year, we arrange special social events to help spread our message along with adopting specific hashtags to ensure our materials add to the nationwide awareness raising efforts.

Outside of these simple steps though, some find using social media a confusing concept. To guide your own awareness efforts during BHAM, here’s our top five tips to using social media effectively to better reach your community.

1. See what’s working elsewhere

Every single one of us wants to create social media campaigns that are breakthrough and individual, but the key to doing so is not by isolating yourself. Instead, look at what is already out there and actually working.

For us, investigating the field let us understand which content works best over others, which primarily boiled down to easy-to-digest resources like video instead of copy. Another form of communication which worked really well for us last year was Twitter chats – Q&A sessions where Twitter users could follow our official #BHealth hashtag and ask questions and provide answers directly to one another.

Our investigations also informed us about how to build resource pages – as most website traffic now comes from mobile devices, relying on patients to move from a home page through to a desired resource is old-fashioned.

2. Create tools and resources of value

Traditionally, our industry has been about education for education purposes to drive a behavioral change for the better. But truth be told, that’s not how the marketplace works anymore. Consumers, patients and their loved ones, are more likely to digest educational material and do something when the content has legitimate value for themselves and others.

So rather than blasting out educational materials and hoping people read it, instead, create materials that are genuinely useful. A great example is using more image-focused materials like infographics and videos which are not only educational and visually appealing, but increase the likelihood of material being shared throughout communities. This is particularly true during a national awareness month where your posts will be competing against many others.

3. Pay attention to your analytics

Effectively using social media requires knowing what’s working and what isn’t. Using analytics platforms can help massively with this.

Major social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have their own analytics offerings along with Google Analytics – all of which can give a lot of information about content reach (how many people have seen it), engagement (how many people have done something with it) and many other useful aspects that help inform social media content strategy.

Even if you don’t use these tools throughout the year, they can provide crucial feedback on your efforts during major awareness months – they’ve certainly helped us refine our BHAM activities over the years!

4. Coordinate your content

Although it might be tempting to simply create what you think is great educational content and distribute it via social media, it’s vital that every single piece of content is in line with all other materials you produce across all of your media platforms.

Messaging, tone and the general composition of your content should all seamlessly coincide, no matter what form your social content takes. In doing so, you build your own community around your organization’s identity, making you a more legitimate and respected source of patient information. This community is then more likely to return and engage with your efforts not only on a general basis, but also during the next related national awareness event.

5. Plan out your content!

Possibly the most important part of creating effective educational content is by planning it and its promotion in advance.

At the NAFC, we plan an annual content calendar, but we have at least the next few months of content and its promotion well defined, giving us time to prepare and align our material’s messaging. Big events – like BHAM – can then be prepared for in the long term, making the event itself a lot easier to handle.

You may also find that a lot of the material you create and promote for big events can be repurposed throughout the year, saving huge content development costs.

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 Social media is a tweeting marvel for local health care

A part of the #jabathon flu campaign running this week, a York doctor shows how social media has a vital role to play in delivering key messages from General Practice, not least of all about winter:

We all have different personas don’t we: to my patients I’m Dr Brooks; to my friends or colleagues I’m Abbie or Abs, and to my mum I’m Abigail.

Curating the @NHS account allowed me to show all sides of myself to the world out there. I think some of my close friends were surprised to see the professional Dr Brooks at work, seeing me in a ‘Britney Spears’ headset was a highlight for them.

During my five days tweeting for @NHS I had clinicians, patients and service users asking useful and insightful questions using #askDrAbbie.

I was able to signpost followers to the different types of healthcare, not always their GP practice. As the population grows year on year, we will all have to accept that patients don’t always need to see a GP doctor for their problems. Nurses, UCPs, ANPs (how many acronyms?) and pharmacists can address a lot of medical problems from coughs to knee pain or headache.

Websites such as NHS Choices and can answer a lot of queries within minutes, while you enjoy a warm honey and lemon drink or a hearty chicken soup.

Medicine as a whole can appear quite old fashioned to some and we need to make it accessible to all. One of the polls during my week on @NHS demonstrated overwhelmingly that patients would much prefer to be contacted by text or email, yet we still send out so many letters and make hundreds of phone calls per week.

Obviously that poll has to take in to account that only people on twitter voted, but I think as a whole we can do better in using social media to its full potential.

Social media is also a way in which we can get real time reviews and feedback. It is a two-way form of communication and certainly in the younger population can reduce barriers to accessing health care. I often tweet about self-care and useful websites’ as I am keen to encourage patients to seek the right advice, at the right time from the right place.

As appointments become harder and harder to secure, we all have to be innovative, flexible and use the resources available to us efficiently and effectively.

A few weeks ago our practice lost power, this meant patients struggled to get through on the phones. The practice manager was able to report this on the @PrioryMedicalGp twitter feed. If we had more followers on all social media platforms; Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram, it would allow important messages to flow to the right people quickly – even without the need for electricity! Smart phones are everywhere, the majority of the population will have Facebook profiles or Twitter accounts, patients can check their feeds quickly and on the move.

As winter approaches I have seen twitter awash with the hashtag #FluFlighters. It is fantastic to see clinicians and lay people alike tweeting about having their jab and encouraging others to have theirs. We were able to advertise our two Saturday flu clinics on our practice Facebook and Twitter pages which hopefully helped increase our numbers of vaccinated folk this year.

We sometimes struggle to capture the younger cohort of patients that are eligible for flu jabs, such as those asthmatics on steroid inhalers and pregnant ladies. But social media is a perfect way to reach these groups.

In all seriousness ‘winter is coming’ and we need to prepare. Patient numbers in our Urgent Care clinics increase hugely between October and March as the winter infections do their best to incapacitate our patients. It is important to be aware of when to seek medical advice, when to approach your local pharmacist or indeed tuck yourself up in bed and ‘self-care’.

Over the winter months we can use social media to educate our followers about common infections such as NoroVirus or viral coughs and colds.

Some of our older patients struggle to get their heads around Facebook and twitter as they can feel clunky or appear confusing. It’s important to remember to check on your elderly family, friends and neighbours during a cold snap and make sure they are keeping warm and well.

Facebook and Twitter are much more than status updates and tweets about that groundbreaking TV show, it’s about sharing information and making it accessible to all. But as much as I am an advocate social media and its huge benefits, I’m signing off to get some non-screen time and a cup of tea.

You can follow me on Twitter: @abbiesbrooks

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Is social media blurring the line of ethics between a doctor and a patient?

Is social media blurring the line of ethics between a doctor and a patient? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s tweets that claimed a doctor sent her sister a Facebook friend request a day after treating her, and called his behaviour ‘harassment’, have been met with a bag of mixed reactions.

Some commended her for taking up this issue, while others criticised her choice of words and for using her celebrity status for a personal cause. Since she has acknowledged that her choice of words was not appropriate, the focus should thus be shifted to the real problem, which is not about a lack of code of ethics.

Chinoy’s story blaringly sounds the alarm of an issue which has been ignored for far too long, not only by the physician community but also by our society. At the core of this incident was a breach of patient privacy, but more importantly, the backlash it received revealed a lack of understanding and awareness about the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship. Surprisingly, most people did not think that a patient feeling vulnerable by her own physician was a big deal, and that is the most concerning part for me.

By definition, once a doctor sees someone as a patient, a doctor-patient relationship is established. Doctor-patient interaction is wound by delicate threads of trust and faith which are the foundation of this fiduciary relationship. The sanctity of this relationship, though primarily the doctor’s responsibility, is guarded by the patient’s awareness and sense of value about it.

Universally accepted codes of professional ethics obligate a physician to refrain from divulging confidential information or misusing it for any personal purposes. Just like other norms of society, these codes of ethics have evolved as a result of increased patient awareness, especially over the last century.

The historical model of the doctor-patient relationship that was prevalent during the first half of the 20th century was quite paternalistic. Based on the assumption that all physicians’ actions were carried out for the benefit of the patient, this model left the patients heavily dependent on the physician’s professional authority. Patients’ choices were not always taken into account and were easily over-ridden if they conflicted with the doctor’s convictions about the diagnosis or treatment.

However, in the last 50 years or so, the doctor-patient relationship has evolved towards a shared decision-making model. This model respects the patient’s involvement in their care and empowers them to analyse the risks and benefits of treatment and then make an informed decision. The doctor’s role has been limited to sharing information and giving options for the treatment. It is entirely up to the patient to accept or reject these suggestions.

While this model has been implemented in most western societies and provides the foundation of modern medical ethics, we find ourselves teetering between a paternalistic and a shared decision-making approach in our society.

Physicians in our society still use their sense of authority and superiority over patients, as seen in the paternalistic model, and hence feel lackadaisical about infringing the rights of their patients. Lacking clear guidelines and training of medical ethics, doctors often walk a thin line. However, due to a lack of awareness among patients and an absence of an accountability mechanism, most ethical misconduct goes by unnoticed. While some would take it as a blessing in disguise, to me these are lost opportunities to improve ourselves.

To add to the complexity of this issue, the last five years have seen a sharp rise in the use of social media among physicians as well as patients across the globe. The rights of a patient are not confined to the walls of the clinic or the hospital anymore.

We can’t deny that using social media in healthcare settings provides enormous benefits, especially in running awareness and prevention campaigns. At the same time, however, it also poses a risk to patient confidentiality and privacy. It also means less time for the doctors to spend with their families and less privacy for them as well.

Despite the pros and cons, the role of social media in medical practices is rising. With that rise comes a new challenge – defining the ethical standards of practicing medicine and doctor-patient interactions on social media. Previously, a conventional doctor-patient relationship had no space for personal interactions. However, the line between professionalism and personal space tends to blur, and sometimes even vanish, on social media.

Doctors using social media often face the dilemma of where to draw the line. What may be a genuine attempt to reach out and develop a rapport could easily be perceived differently by the patient. So we must clearly establish what is acceptable and what is not, so that the sense of responsibility and accountability surrounding this interaction is not lost.

Major physician organisations, such as the American College of Physicians and British Medical Association, have given their own guidelines to outline social media interaction between doctors and patients. These guidelines provide a working foundation to build and implement ethical standards while interacting with patients on social media. Physician organisations in our country have yet to develop a clear framework for doctor-patient interaction on social media, but pre-existing guidelines can be adopted without much change in the meanwhile.

It is time that a serious effort is made to add ethics to our medical education as well as to medical training. The physician community should also take charge of creating awareness among the public regarding their rights as patients and lead the effort to protect their rights.

It is the responsibility of the medical community to initiate a serious dialogue and perhaps develop a forum to address the complaints regarding the infringements of rights in doctor-patient relationships. The absence of such a platform keeps posing risks to physicians’ reputations as well as the rights of the patient, and encourages the public to resort to unconventional ways of expressing their concerns over perceived violations.

It is incumbent on physicians to uphold their moral and ethical codes and protect their dignity by working to preserve the trust of their patients. At the end of the day, we as physicians are responsible for the well-being of our patients, and how can we fulfil that trust if our patients feel insecure?

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5 Social Media Marketing Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Dental Practice

5 Social Media Marketing Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Dental Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |

The evolution of social networks is a story filled with awe and, to some extent, disbelief. It seems like yesterday when people were using Orkut, sending frivolous messages and sharing pictures with friends. And then Facebook happened. The world changed. Forever.
Soon social networks became the most sought-after platform for dentist marketing, and dental practitioners started leveraging it to connect with their existing and potential patients.

With more than 2 billion users globally, the marketing potential of social networks is significant and provides opportunities for dental practitioners to engage with existing and potential patients in ways never before possible by traditional marketing channels.
However, social media has its own limitations and hazards. Dental practitioners who overlook the unwritten code of conduct can and have suffered severe backlash, not to mention a dent in their precious online reputation.

In order to fully utilize social media, many dental providers have shared content that was thoughtless and irrelevant. Here are five social media pitfalls and gaffes – and what we can learn from them.

Mistake #1: Offering too many discounts

“Attract more patients” and “increase your bottom line” are two of the most favored words to any dental practice owner. Those are good reasons to offer your patients a special discount or freebies.

However, it is not all rainbows and roses. Discounts and freebies can blow up in your face. New practices often make the mistake of offering huge discounts at the launch or when sales go rancid. Discounts are a quick shot in the arm but can have severe negative effects.
Offering discounts too often or too casually may turn on you like a rabid dog. This is because discounts will:

  • Weaken and diminish your practice. Why will patients ever pay full price if you are always offering a discount?
  • Shift focus away from services and on price.
  • Reduce the overall satisfaction with your practice. This is because patients tend to doubt the quality of discounted treatments and procedures.
  • Set a pattern because patients may expect the same discount at every appointment or wait until your next offer.
  • Harm your bottom line.

This is a question of price versus service value. Patients want excellent value for their money and the actual treatment cost, in many ways, may be irrelevant.
Instead, try offering earned discounts such as early payment discounts or monthly appointment discounts. Focus on enhancing the perceived value of your product or service. Use discounts for attracting and engaging patients, not for retaining them.

According to industry experts, you should never discount your products or services. Experts believe discounts are like a drug, and your patents will become addicted. You should add value to your practice, instead of lowering prices. This can lead to a sales spike without the long-term harm.

Mistake #2: Spreading yourself too thin

When there is too much information about social media platforms and how to use them, medical marketers mistakenly assume they need to have accounts on all the popular platforms. They create accounts on networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, and they find it very difficult to manage content creation for all those accounts. They are not able to utilize these platforms to their best advantage and do not see good results from any of them.

There is no need to create accounts on so many networks. Smart marketers only select the platforms that reach their target patients and devote themselves to creating sensible content that will work specifically for these platforms. There is a lot of demographic data available for each social network.

In addition, you must consider whether the network is suitable for your specialty and services. Think about the time and effort it takes to maintain an account on the platform. For instance, Twitter can be time-consuming. You also need to consider what other resources you will need to produce friendly content for that platform.

Mistake #3: Lack of engaging content

Another mistake that dental practice owners make is not creating engaging content on their social media pages. Content drives traffic to your business page and leads into your practice. Written content does not have to be technical or long. Content should align with your dental practice goals and the needs of your target audience. Oral care tips and information for your patients about local dental care events is an easy way to create awareness for your practice on social networking sites.

When you start creating your social media marketing plan, it is easy to fall into the trap of making the majority of your posts about your practice. After all, you are trying to build a practice – so shouldn’t you be informing your target audience about it? The answer is “No.” Your goal is to build relationships with the target audience. Social media marketing is a long-term strategy for your practice. Build a strong foundation, and opportunities will come in time.

Original content is critical to building your practice and credibility on social networks. If you are only sharing other people’s content, your audience will never get to know the real personality of your dental practice. Sharing your experience, expertise and perspective is essential. Give your target audience the opportunity to know you on a personal level and how your specific services can meet their needs.

Being present and active on social media is a full-time job. Posting once a month or four times a day is not going to give you the return on the investment that you were hoping for. You need to fine-tune your content and keep it exciting so that people actually want to read what you share. You also want to be on your target customers’ minds when they are looking for a dental practitioner. If you post too much content, people may unfollow you or turn off your posts. The purpose is to attract and engage patients – not drive them away.

Mistake #4: Not interacting with patients online

Social networks are changing the way dental practices communicate with their patients. Posting to a few selected social networks can help you stay connected to past patients, retain existing patients and attract potential ones. However, most of the target audience will not initiate a conversation with you if they do not have a reason to, or if they think they will be ignored. That is why it is important to post relevant content on a regular basis. In addition, if your patients are taking the initiative to leave a comment or ask a question, you must respond quickly.

Having thousands of followers who do not represent your target audience and have little to contribute will fail to produce desirable results. You want to attract and engage potential patients who share the same views and interests and who will be involved in the success of your marketing efforts. By building and nurturing your network, you will gain better access to potential and existing patients and will increase the exposure for your targeted messages.

It is also critical to make your interactions more meaningful! You should set aside the time every day to reach out and write targeted posts, engage in online discussions and share someone else’s content. Your social media posts are useless if no one cares to share or comment on them. Your posts and content should be designed to initiate conversations with your audience. If you do not get these reactions, your overall social media marketing strategy and content strategy should be revisited.

Mistake #5: Not having a social media marketing plan

Social media marketing will be a waste of time without an effective plan of action. Many medical practices fall into this trap. They randomly post things to their social media accounts, share content here and there and try to attract patients or followers. This is not social media marketing; this is simply lack of planning and goal-setting.

Social media marketing has to be approached the same way you approach any other marketing campaign. You must have specific goals, a budget and a concrete plan of action that outlines what you are trying to achieve, how you will accomplish your goal, how you will measure the outcome and what resources you will need to reach your goal.

If your strategy does not pull in 20 new patients overnight, do not stress. There is an outdated myth that social media marketing will yield instant results. The fact is, social media is all about building up relationships, particularly when you are trying to establish your brand. So, avoid the trap of continually changing gears and switching up campaigns just because they do not yield instant gratification.

For many practice owners, the world of social media marketing is uncharted waters filled with potential blunders. You do not have to be an advertising genius to avoid these pitfalls and reap the benefits of social media marketing. With the right approach and a little persistence, your medical practice can flourish.

However, medical practice owners need to understand the risks of having their social media accounts handled by inexperienced staff and should have multiple checkpoints to avoid potential blunders. Any content that you share should excite, inspire and engage potential and existing patients, and motivate them to learn more about your practice. Any other kinds of posts are a waste of time and can severely backfire.

Whatever you share online remains there forever. You have to be extra-careful in choosing what to share on social networks lest it harms your precious online reputation. A genuine and sincere apology can be a balm for any mistake. Businesses that have shared irresponsible posts have been forgiven after genuine apologies.

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