Social Media and Healthcare
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Social Media Implementation Checklist

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

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

Support our people

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

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


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

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


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Are patients using social media to attack physicians?

Are patients using social media to attack physicians? | Social Media and Healthcare |

I have a colleague who is a pediatrician in private practice in the suburbs. He has a great practice and loves his patients. One day, he walked in 15 minutes late to a 7:00 a.m. meeting we both attend. “Moms are calling early today.” Parents in his practice have learned to bypass their elaborate phone triage system. They have learned that if you press “1” for emergency, an actual doctor will call you back within 15 minutes, regardless of whether an actual emergency exists. When I asked what can be done to curb such behavior, he shrugged and replied, “We’ve tried a few things, but then we just get slammed on Facebook … and that’s bad for the practice.”

Another physician friend provided factual and evidence-based testimony as an expert witness during a legal proceeding. When the proceedings did not go in favor of the plaintiff, they took it upon themselves to post slanderous comments about this physician (not their own personal physician, mind you) on various online forums, including comment sections on advocacy group websites.

Anyone who uses social media knows the vitriol that spills forth should anyone dare make a public statement about topics such as vaccines, essential oils, or GMOs. But this is different. Physicians who are active on social media, which I fully support for many reasons, know going in that they can become a target. It’s part of the job description. In fact, you know you’re actually starting to make a difference once the hateful Tweets start flying.

But what about those physicians or practices that become unwilling targets on social media? What recourse do they have? What can be done? Unfortunately, not much. We are simply playing by a different set of rules. Physicians need to always be mindful of HIPAA laws and patient privacy. If a patient is unhappy with their physician and takes to Twitter or Facebook to post hateful comments, that physician cannot publicly defend themselves. They can’t even acknowledge that they know the patient or that the visit took place as that violates HIPAA. They have to sit back and take their medicine.


This type of patient behavior is inappropriate on many levels. Social media affords anyone a platform and ability to type whatever they wish, regardless of merit or truth. Anonymous accounts are the worst offenders, offering strong opinions with no repercussion aside from a suspension of their social media account should enough people complain. What happened to accountability for one’s words or actions?


It is important to acknowledge that patients are wronged every day. Some physicians offer poor care to their patients. Personalities may not match, and patients may not feel like their concerns are being heard. There absolutely must be a mechanism for patients to voice their complaints, and there are numerous ways this can occur. But this cannot occur through public-facing social media accounts, and needs to go through the proper channels.  Patients can speak with an ombudsman if their physician works at a hospital or file a complaint with the State medical board. Written documentation is necessary to communicate concerns and also formulate a record that protects the patient and affords the physician an opportunity to discuss their interpretation of events. A third party can then remediate, and disciplinary action can take place when warranted.

In the meantime, physicians need to be aware that this behavior is occurring. They also need to be trained on how to handle these situations. Physicians are not allowed to address any public comments, acknowledge that they know any patient, and especially cannot fight back with negative comments of their own. Hospitals and medical practices can start addressing this by clearly posting information about the process involved for patients who have a complaint. They also need to monitor social media outlets and take these interactions offline as soon as possible. It will take time to see where all of this leads but a collective effort will be necessary to help the medical community respond appropriately.

David R. Stukus is a pediatric allergist and can be reached on Twitter @AllergyKidsDoc.


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Engaging the digital healthcare professional

Engaging the digital healthcare professional | Social Media and Healthcare |

How to plan relevant customer strategies in the digital age

Some years ago, I spoke with an emergency medic who had twenty five years’ experience as a practicing doctor. He told me how public social media channels had allowed him to develop an international, collaborative network of peers. Using public social media channels including Twitter was a natural choice for his network of healthcare professionals because, he told me, pharmaceutical companies would never bombard them with messaging in the way he had experienced inside closed doctors’ networks.

This may be a challenging lesson for those who still invest heavily in advertising targeted at doctors inside closed networks. The emergency medic’s prediction was correct, of course - in most markets, pharmaceutical companies cannot simply advertise products to doctors using public channels, and the very public international reach of Twitter makes it a platform that many pharmaceutical compliance professionals feel a little uncomfortable about.

Yet perhaps the very nature of public social media, and the challenging questions it inspires among those tasked with compliance, are precisely where the opportunity lies for the pharmaceutical marketer.

Who is influencing the digital healthcare professional?

Research into healthcare professionals’ online behaviors show that when sharing ideas with each other on public social media channels, they are as likely to reference mainstream news media as academic journals. In fact, in a recent study of UK healthcare professionals discussing the topic of IVF on social media, the most-shared article in all their online conversation was a story published by the BBC about IVF add-on success.

The same study revealed that among 1,500 healthcare professionals discussing IVF in the UK were senior experts who might be considered traditional ‘Key Opinion Leaders’. One such example is Geeta Nargund, Lead Consultant in Reproductive Medicine and a Consultant Gynecologist at St George's hospital NHS Trust, whose accolades include being President of the International Scientific Society for Mild Approaches in Assisted Reproduction (ISMAAR) and Founder and Medical Director of fertility clinic CREATE. Over recent years Ms. Nargund’s social media channels of choice have included Google+, LinkedIn, and her own blog, but these days she is most active on Twitter, where she has more than 900 followers and actively shares advice and engages on policy and education.

The professional who was most mentioned by peers in the fertility conversation, however was Zita West, midwife, acupuncturist, author and founder of her own holistic clinic, who has been described by The Telegraph as “the fairy godmother of fertility”. Ms. West’s Twitter profile, which is followed by more than 4,000, is a stream of nutritional and health advice on fertility, interspersed with promotion of her clinic’s webinars and blog posts.

Other influencers in the study included a wide range of healthcare professionals united by a common interest in fertility: nurses, midwives, gynecologists and public health experts. On social media, it seems, the exchange of ideas among diverse healthcare professional roles at different levels of seniority is the norm. It is not unusual to find junior doctors and even medical students exchanging ideas with senior experts. One senior doctor told me that on social media he feels comfortable learning from nurses and those in junior roles, whereas in the hospital where he practices, this would be highly unlikely to happen.


In another case, a junior doctor who ran a blog collaborated with a specialist who had decades of medical experience but limited social media know-how. The young doctor’s digital reputation gave online reach to the senior expert’s content, while the expert’s content gave credibility to the junior’s blog.

Getting involved

If social media is changing the way our customers are learning, developing and sharing ideas and influencing each other, then it must also change our customer engagement strategies. This lesson has already been learned by other organizations who engage healthcare professionals, including policymakers and patient groups.

When NICE, the UK policymaker for health spending, rejected Pfizer’s breast cancer drug palbociclib for routine funding on the NHS in February, it tweeted the news and invited comments on the draft guidance. NICE has been actively using Twitter to engage healthcare professionals for some time, and its Tweet was shared by medics in the UK and overseas. It was also shared by a student midwife who tweeted to Pfizer and NICE asking them to work together to provide access to the drug.

Two days after the student midwife’s Tweet, UK organization Breast Cancer Now shared its own response to the guidance, also tweeting to Pfizer and NICE and urging them to work together to make the drug available. Breast Cancer Now is followed by almost 40,000, and its Tweet, which it posted twice, was re-tweeted by one hundred people, including healthcare professionals.

Weeks later, following the NICE consultation period, the organization announced that following communication with Pfizer it had decided to postpone its committee meeting to discuss palbociclib, “ allow the company to submit an updated evidence package…”.

Ten insights-led customer engagement strategies for pharma

So how can pharmaceutical brands plan for meaningful engagement with healthcare professionals, and learn from the organizations that connect with them online? Here are ten ways I have seen at work:

1. Use your customers’ language: When marketers in one brand team saw how pharmacists talked about its products, they discovered that whilst the messaging they planned was on track, the particular language they were using was likely to alienate its customers. Instead, they used words that they now knew would resonate well to engage healthcare professionals effectively.

2. Meet customers’ expressed needs: One pharmaceutical brand discovered that a particular group of healthcare professionals was anxious about how to administer their product, so the brand team immediately responded by providing relevant training and resources. This supported better product uptake at a critical time for the brand.

3. Develop digital customer advocates: To prepare the way for future digital collaboration, a pharmaceutical company identified thirty emerging Key Opinion Leaders and taught them how to use social media in their specialist area, using real examples to support the specialists’ professional development.

4. Improve offline marketing: Traditional, offline marketing activities can be improved by hearing doctors share their hopes, concerns or questions about their work in a particular therapy area. One pharmaceutical company, for example, is tracking the online response of healthcare professionals to stories in traditional press, in order to gain an instant view of not only the reach of the story, but its customers’ reactions as they happen.

5. Provide timely patient support: Listening to the first-hand experiences of healthcare professionals can provide an early-warning system for concerns or needs among patients. For example, during the launch of a new drug, one pharmaceutical company found that doctors raised specific concerns about the product several months before the same issues were heard from patients. Based on this pattern, they were able to prepare for patients’ future needs ahead of time.

6. Target digital content: By listening to conversations among healthcare professionals, one pharmaceutical company discovered that doctors were not finding the answers to their questions about the company’s launch product online. This insight led them to refine their digital strategy to target key customer groups more effectively.

7. Integrate social and CRM data:Knowing which healthcare professionals are “Digital Opinion Leaders” - those shaping opinions among their peers - can help when developing key customer relationships. One pharmaceutical company, for example, is integrating insights from its customers’ digital activities into its CRM data, improving its understanding of key customers and identifying new potential advocates.

8. Prepare informed policy response: By listening to healthcare professionals on social media, one pharmaceutical company was able to measure the immediate response to draft policy guidance that would affect the success of its product. The rapid availability of insights put the company in a strong position to respond based on healthcare professionals’ expressed needs.

9. Differentiate from competitors: A new pharmaceutical brand entering a competitive drug class tracked conversations among healthcare professionals about its comparative products in several major global markets. It was then able to develop timely messaging to differentiate its own product as it launched.

10. Leverage congress meetings: Learning from HCP conversations before, during and after meetings is helping pharmaceutical brands to do more with their congress investment. For example, one pharmaceutical company is using insights from healthcare professionals on social media to plan its congress activity and schedule relevant meetings addressing the specific needs of individual specialists.

Every brand team’s response to the changing market is unique; some will continue to rely solely on traditional market research techniques and “the way we do things”. Others, led by innovators who are eager to achieve better outcomes for customers, patients and products, are already transforming the way they plan and manage brand strategies.

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The Gap Between Real World Healthcare & Social Media

The Gap Between Real World Healthcare & Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Part of what I like to think makes my blog unique is that I’ve been a cancer patient as well as a clinician treating cancer patients. So, I have one foot in each camp, as it were.

This blog, and my introduction to social media, germinated almost ten years ago after I had been diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 2008. Desperate for help and information, I found my way, as many have and many will, to and it’s online, peer support community. Dozens, possibly hundreds, of the people I connected with in that community are still my friends online all these years later on other social media. Then and now, these friends help validate my experience and often provide helpful information about breast cancer and treatment and side effects and middle-of-the-night freaking out. Back then, communicating with them spurred me to start reading research studies again, which I hadn’t done much of since physical therapy graduate school. Because of that, I began to connect with clinical and medical and science websites, and with researchers who’d published interesting studies or were seeking study participants. One of the most helpful experiences I had early on was finding an online listing for two doctors within driving distance who were conducting a clinical trial on treating cancer related fatigue. Thus, I am one of the first people to extol the virtues of social media and of those of us who employ it to advocate for better healthcare.


And it’s an important ‘but.’ I may write about healthcare here in cyberspace, but in my daily, real-world job, I work in the concrete world. I do connect with a secure server to upload my patient notes and download my schedule each day on my work laptop. And I email my colleagues and share a few pdf’s.

But my real work has little to do with zeroes and ones. I see patients of all ages, with all kinds of healthcare problems, in their homes, and try to teach them to walk better or not fall or to get out of bed without pain. And I have to tell you that, for most of them, social media has little to no impact on their experience of their own health and healthcare. A few of them might have a Fitbit. A few might have a patient portal account that they use to email their doctors’ offices or confirm upcoming appointments. And that’s about it.

The last thing that most, perhaps nearly all, of my patients would consider doing when they have a health crisis is to get online. You’d be forgiven for thinking this is an age thing, that it’s because most of my patients are elderly. And you’d be wrong. Sometimes, it does occur to a few of them, or to one of their family members or caregivers, to buy things like tub seats and walkers online. Most of the time, however, I have to tell them they can buy that stuff online. I have to tell the folks who have uncommon chronic diseases, or even common ones, that there are online communities that can help them feel less isolated. I have to tell them that there are websites for our state’s department of health, the department of elderly affairs, the local hospital or orthopedic practice, for, for the American Diabetes Association, etcetera, ad infinitum.

Pay No Attention to That Charlatan Behind the Curtain

Why don’t people get online for help with their health issues? Because they have health issues. Which means that they feel like shit, they’re exhausted, confused, overwhelmed, in pain, and generally gobsmacked. And the last thing they feel like doing is anything that does not immediately and concretely help them to feel better. And you know what? Mostly, I’m glad they don’t get online. I want them to listen to me and their doctors and nurses, and to follow our advice, not to read most of the execrable bullshit that passes on the web for healthcare information. I do not want them getting their health advice from the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow or Dr. Google. It’s bad enough that they watch TV. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve had to refute some nonsense a patient heard via Doctor Oz.

It’s hard enough for me to sort through the dross on the web to find the genuine nuggets. And I have an advanced degree in science. And I still get hoodwinked sometimes. But I also have online friends who are scientists, doctors, and intelligent healthcare journalists, and we help each other wade through the swamp.

That is not, however, true for most people. I have some very admirable friends online who have devoted themselves to improving health literacy, who work hard to improve their own, so that they can provide the patient’s perspective to researchers who design studies. But the odds that most of the thousands of people I have ever treated in the past twenty-five years could or would find their way to these web advocates or others like them is a snowball’s chance in hell. For real.

A Breed Apart

The thing to keep in mind is that those of us who are members of the healthcare social media community are not most people. Yet we may think we’re more important than we really are to most people. If there’s one thing that social media is good at, it’s declaring how important and influential social media is. And that’s true, up to a point. But we need a little humility, a little perspective about our role. When you have crushing, unrelenting chest pain, the sensible response is not to Tweet about it. You call a freaking ambulance.

I remember the first time I took a survey — one of several over the years — about how useful social media had been to me as a cancer patient. It was put together by a grad student who was working on her Ph.D. and whose mom had had breast cancer. It was pretty good. But when I got to the questions about who did the most to help me outlast cancer, or who I could most count on in a crisis, none of the answers included social media. The answers included the doctors and other clinicians who treated me, and the friends who drove me to see them. And yet, to hear some tell it, social media is going to save us all and reinvent the healthcare system. Really? Tell that to all my patients and work colleagues. Social media has facilitated awareness, research, and patient support. And it will continue to spur new and worthwhile ideas and projects. But the rest of the fix is not that simple.

In the Trenches

If you want to hear a passionate discussion about how to fix the healthcare system, talk to another clinician. And I don’t mean online. I mean in person, in a clinical setting or at a seminar. Or at the local pub over a beer or three. You’ve never heard intelligent snark like you’ll hear from us. A few of the doctors I’ve known over the years, who have also treated me as a patient, are especially enlightening. When I see them for a checkup, we often spend the first few minutes having a nice, soul-cleansing rant about it all. Do they check out social media for ways to further the cause? Hell, no. They have neither the time nor the energy. Frequently, neither do I. We’re all too busy trying to help our patients get better, or returning their phone calls, or typing notes about them on a computer, or wrangling with insurance companies and their criteria for reimbursement, or going to meetings and continuing ed seminars so we can remain competent enough to keep our licenses. On a daily, practical basis, has social media or digital documentation made our work easier or better? Not really.

I don’t have any immediate answers to this conundrum. And the ideas I have would require another blog post. But I can tell you one thing. When my patients improve, it has everything to do with how much access they feel they have to a real-world clinician who knows them, and how empowered they feel to take responsibility for their health. And then to do what they truly need to do in order to get better. And that’s where fostering the nexus between social media and the real world may be genuinely useful. Any and all ideas welcome. In the meantime, onward, friends.

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The Benefits of Social Media for Healthcare Professionals –

The Benefits of Social Media for Healthcare Professionals – | Social Media and Healthcare |

We have all heard about the rapid growth of social media sites but not many consider the increase of social media usage in the healthcare industry. In fact, a U.S. News & World Report article entitled “Health Care Harnesses Social Media” states that sixty-seven percent of medical professionals report using these social sites for professional purposes rather than simply personal pleasure. Social media websites have proven to be beneficial for both patients and physicians and can even increase the quality of care.

Some of the benefits of social media usage in healthcare are:

  • Spreading news: Hospitals are notified immediately via Twitter or Facebook when a tragic incident occurs. This means that they are prepared to treat any injured individuals before the tragedy has been publicly reported. After the Boston Marathon bombing for example, trauma teams saw the social media posts and were able to prepare for the victims by halting elective surgeries and readying themselves for the influx of patients.
  • Providing mass information: Healthcare providers are able to benefit more people by posting an informational/educational YouTube video rather than trying to explain something to each patient individually. Additionally, watching a video clip before meeting with their physician provides a patient with some context and allows for a more in-depth conversation in the examining room.
  • Ending geographic, mental, and medical isolation: Those who feel that they are alone in their illness or do not have easy access to a physician can go online to connect with healthcare professionals and support groups. Those who are too shy or embarrassed to ask for help can also benefit from an anonymous online interaction. Social media sites provide a wealth of information and make it easier to contact those professionals that can help.

One of the most common online activities is to search for healthcare information, and providers have an opportunity to benefit many by connecting with patients through social media. This is an ideal outlet for sharing healthcare news, providing information, and encouraging communication. We have all heard about the spread of social media, and it is not something that healthcare professionals should ignore.

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Social Media and healthcare companies

Social Media and healthcare companies | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media offers tremendous value to healthcare companies looking to connect with audiences, especially when you consider that one-third of consumers use forums and social media platforms for health-related matters, according to PwC Health Research Institute. Furthermore, social media advertising is expected to hit new highs in 2018. According to eMarketer, 10% of total U.S. ad spend will go to Facebook. Meanwhile, Twitter and Snapchat will reach ad revenue parity in 2018 as Snapchat is expected to pull in $1.18 billion vs. $1.16 billion for Twitter. But social media marketing is much more than just placing ads. It is about engagement.

“The success of social media has traditionally been measured in audience size: How many followers do you have? How many re-tweets or hash tags? How many likes? How many shares?” explains Jim Cimino, VP, Technology at TAG MM, A division of The Access Group. “Get ready for 2018—the year of engagement, the year where the emphasis shifts from quantity to the quality of social media content. Instead of asking ‘how many,’ the questions become how do your messages resonate with your audience? How do your followers interact and react? It is the year where size doesn’t matter.”

That shift could also mean a change in how companies approach social media in 2018.

“The traditional conversation calendar that was developed in the Facebook heyday has already gone by the wayside,” says Nicole Hamlin, Account Supervisor at Butler/Till Health Group. “As more platforms focused on the 1:1 relationship are adopted, brands will have to shift their strategies from maintaining and engaging with a community, to impacting the life of each consumer one at a time.”

Social Becomes More Personal

Chatbots, in particular, are one method that social media marketers can use to deliver more personalized experiences to their customers.

“These programs can deliver a customized experience that can be turned on and off at the discretion of the user,” says Kevin Dunn, VP, Strategy & Client Engagement, Life Sciences at LevLane. “The lifestyle, support, product education, and dosing reminders are all delivered when the consumer wants it, how they want, and so that it meets their needs.”

But chatbots can also lead to an improvement in how the pharma industry handles customer service.

“I call this the ‘airline response effect,’” explains Chris Iafolla, Head of Digital & Social Strategy at Syneos Health Communications. “If you have a late-arriving plane and need to rebook, tweeting the airline tends to yield a quicker result than walking to the ticket counter. This is what our audience wants from pharmaceutical companies and this transition will be enabled by chatbot technology.”

However, chatbots are not the only new opportunity within social that marketers should be looking into in 2018.

What’s New in Social for 2018

“2018 will be the year of Instagram Stories,” predicts Dhara Naik, Social Media Strategy Lead at AbelsonTaylor. “Marketers will tune into the raw, unscripted storytelling nature of Instagram Stories by pushing their own comfort levels and tapping into this transparency to deliver better outcomes. They can use Instagram Stories to share emotion-based content that isn’t masked behind a perfectly coiffed social media page, but is more real-time in sharing authentic moments.”

Another way to connect with audiences in a more authentic way will be through virtual hangouts, which are not entirely new, but there are several new offerings in this area.

“Houseparty is an example of one of these emerging platforms, and is especially popular with Gen Z,” explains Hanna Johansen, Senior Digital Strategist at Sandbox Agency. “The app allows friend groups to hang out via video chat. Facebook will also launch similar functionality this year through Facebook Spaces, which enables users to hang out with friends in a virtual environment that allows them to create, share, and explore together without actually being in the same room.”

But, an increase in meetings should not be expected to be limited to a virtual environment.

“This year, social marketing will progressively incorporate in-person experiences and interactions to maximize the success of its digital initiatives,” adds Kieran Walsh, President at Greater Than One. “As the distinction blurs between online and offline social communities, marketers with established social presences can further augment their capabilities by engaging in experiential opportunities with the groups they serve.”

New emerging technologies are also expected to make an impact in social.

“With the rollout of iOS 11 and Google AR Stickers, expect to see AR taking a more prominent role in patient and physician engagement,” says Sophia Liu, Social Media Coordinator at HCB Health. “For example, skin care brands will be able to project various physical responses to sun exposure or water intake. AR projections could help increase empathy among treating HCPs, prompting them to proactively explore new treatment options.”

What’s Important for Social in 2018

As always in marketing, just because something is new and shiny doesn’t mean it is the best approach. So, instead of focusing on platforms, marketers should make sure they are making an impact with the right people.

“The authenticity of the patient’s voice is contagious,” says Katie O’Neill, VP, Patient Engagement Solutions at Bionical. “In influencer marketing, customers place more trust in individuals they know or can identify with. In fact, 76% of users placed greater trust in content generated by others on similar health journeys.”

However, marketers just don’t need to limit themselves to making connections with top influencers in a disease state.

“Marketers should further explore niche community platforms that can further drive engagement and insights from very specific audiences,” says Dr. Theodore Search, Founder and CEO at Skipta. “As an example, brands can look to these niche community platforms for crowdsourcing of very specific information and insights to explore virtual alternatives to live meetings and advisory board panels, and to deliver specific content to niche audiences.”

Ultimately, this brings us back to where we started. No matter what platform you use or who you are trying to reach, the most important thing to keep in mind is engagement.

“Real social media success can’t always be measured in a monthly or quarterly report,” explains Andrew Lange, VP, Director Analytics at Harrison and Star. “In 2018, success should be something bigger—making a connection with the audience, having a true conversation as opposed to blasting out corporate-approved tweets. Even if they don’t end up using your brand, you’ll leave the customer with a positive experience they will remember.”

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Patients’ Vlogs Can Provide Another Form of Engagement, Support

Patients’ Vlogs Can Provide Another Form of Engagement, Support | Social Media and Healthcare |

Some docs may question social media’s place in patient care, but the number of YouTube users show it might be worthwhile to cultivate allies online.


YouTube Video blogs are popular time-wasters for many people. But the technology also can be a tool to help patients and physicians connect, some medical researchers say. 

"It has a great potential for patient engagement, but we don’t know a lot about it yet,” says Joy L. Lee, PhD, a research scientist at the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research.

Joy Lee

Lee studies how physicians and patients communicate electronically and co-authored a 2017 report, “Seeing Is Engaging: Vlogs as a Tool for Patient Engagement.” Noticing her younger friends watching YouTube videos whenever they have a few free minutes made Lee wonder whether there was a way doctors could tap into that. 

YouTube has given rise to online personalities who share thoughts and observations on any number of subjects — makeup, cooking, pets — and has made information about all sorts of hands-on projects — cooking, exercise, carpentry — accessible worldwide through video. 

“I was really marveling in the power of [YouTube] and wondered how it translated to health care and if health care was aware of it,” Lee says. 

YouTube says it has more than a billion users. On mobile devices alone, it reaches more 18-to-49-year-olds than any cable TV network in the United States.

“It’s a very powerful platform that these YouTube people have,” Lee says. 

She began to search YouTube for patient vloggers —people with certain health conditions who record themselves discussing their maladies, treatment and recovery. Among those with large followings, Lee noticed they revealed a lot about their experiences.

“Patients are people, and that’s what these videos are showing,” Lee says, “I was surprised at the level of detail they were showing.” 

The vlogs can be helpful in different ways. For patients, seeing someone dealing with a similar situation can provide support and understanding. For practitioners, it can provide a window into a patient’s world after he or she leaves a medical office.

“It’s really about educating them about the lives of their patients,” Lee says. 

Patients, especially those with chronic conditions, spend so little of their time with their physicians relative to their everyday lives, Lee says. “It’s helpful in different ways for both groups.”

In “Seeing Is Engaging," she notes: “The unique attributes of vlogs overcome some of the barriers to engagement such as high treatment burden and a lack of the sense of community.”

The Frey Life vlog chronicles Mary and Peter Frey and their experiences in managing her cystic fibrosis. According to YouTube, their vlog has about 190,000 subscribers and draws several thousands  viewers daily. | AAPL 

Lee suggests physicians spend a few minutes on YouTube finding vloggers with lots of followers who may be dealing with similar situations as their patients.

“It requires a bit of legwork, but not a lot because you only need a few good examples.”

She says, “The strength of the videos is that it’s coming from patients,” adding they are a way to raise awareness outside of the science. 

Lee says buy-in on the part of physicians is not easy because of the concern the videos might not contain sound medical advice. Some clinicians may simply distrust social media and question its place in patient care. 

However, she suggests it’s worth the limited investment to find some good vlogs because some people learn better by watching something rather than reading about it. 

That can increase buy-in for patients into their own care. “I think people realize video is a powerful tool,” Lee says. 

She stresses that vlogs should not be a way to diagnose or change treatments, but should only add to a patient’s arsenal of information. They can help a physician understand the patient experience and help the patient understand his or her own experiences, she says.

“This is really for patient engagement, patient support.”

Tiffani Sherman is a freelance writer based in Florida. She originally wrote this story for AAPL in February 2017. 

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12 Ways You Can Use Social Media To Market Your Pharmacies

12 Ways You Can Use Social Media To Market Your Pharmacies | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media can play a major role in marketing for every business and pharmacies are no exceptions. Using social media, a pharmacy can get more customers, spread awareness about its offerings and can even search for a new market. In fact, social media is the best tool to market your pharmacy to generation X, Y and Z (18-50 years), who are more likely to use their smartphones to look for a pharmacy that to open Yellow Pages.

To attract these generations you need to educate them about the benefits your pharmacy can offer. According to, as these generations grew up seeing traditional advertisements they are usually skeptical about them. Therefore, you can get more success by using non-traditional marketing channels such as social media to market your pharmacy.

Here is what you can do –

First of all, please determine who you are trying to market to. Whom you target will determine in which social media platform you should be. Here’s an example:

If you want to target –

  • Medical Offices – LinkedIn is a better social media platform to engage the medical offices.
  • Consumers/Patients – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube are your best options in this case. Additionally, a Google+ page can up your chances at acing the Google search on key phrases like – “Pharmacies near me”.
  • Local Community – Facebook communities or social forums are the best platforms to engage them.

Secondly, you need to determine the amount of money you are looking to spend on your social media marketing. This will help you determine your strategy.  For example – Are you looking to spend money on social advertising, are you looking to run contests?

Once you decide the target audience and work on a strategy, it is time to implement the strategy. Here are a few tips for acing the social media game as a pharmacy.

As you are a pharmacy, people look to you for authority. Your content should, therefore, be educational and easy to consume.

    1. Educate Them

      Being able to help without selling is very impactful. You should, therefore, post educative content at regular intervals. Use infographics, posters, and short videos to promote educational content (e.g. the proper way to wash your face.). Tell them the importance of flu shots. Tell them why it is important to fill your medication on time.

    2. Inform Them

      Also in case of a change in law or medical insurance, educate your audience regarding how the change may impact them. For example – from now on ABC medicine will no longer be available as an over-the-counter medicine due to XYZ reason.

    3. Entertain Them

      For every educational content, you should put at least two light content such as a picture or engaging games. Create small sudden death quiz on medical or other themes.

    4. Be Creative With Content

      Create unique news based content. For example – Use news like Pink performing at SuperBowl despite being down with flu to spread awareness about flu-shots with a post such as “Be in the Pink of health. Take flu-shots.” Be creative.

    1. Be Helpful

      Post health tips.

    2. Add Value

      Post interviews with medical practitioners regarding common ailments. It will add value to your brand as your audience will learn to associate your brand as an authority.

    3. Remind Them

      Post messages reminding your audience to take their flu shots.

    4. Add Convenience

      Generation X, Y, and Z are the tech-savvy convenience loving generation. Offer them a chance to use online ordering and ordering medicine via an app and they will love you for that.

    5. Participate In Group Discussions

      Post in social media groups and online forums. Offer to answer generic questions.

    6. Talk About Your Brand Too

      For every 7 or 8 pieces you put out that are not about your company, put 1 or 2 up that are. Let your audience know what makes your company stand out. It can be that you carry a brand of cloth diapers that no other pharmacy in your area offers. Or it can be free vitamins for kids each month. Just remember not to make your social media all about self-promotion.

  1. Engage The Doctors

    If you are speaking to doctors, educate them why your pharmacy is the best at filling orders quickly, or why they should send their patients to you for flu shots.

  2. Introduce Your Staff

    Let your customers get to know your staff. Introduce your pharmacist, who he/she is and why he is passionate about what he does.

Let us conclude with a note of warning:

Social media can be a very effective way to reach out to patients and provide resources, but it’s crucial to remember that HIPAA rules do still apply. Be cautious about what you post. A patient’s information can never be personally identifiable from the post. Avoid answering patients’ specific questions publicly; rather, use social media as a platform to provide general information from which most people can benefit.

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5 Exemplary Examples of Healthcare Social Media Marketing Success

5 Exemplary Examples of Healthcare Social Media Marketing Success | Social Media and Healthcare |

The most effective marketing programs do more than educate; they resonate with the public, eliciting an emotional response that isn’t easily forgotten. With deeply personal subjects often of life or death significance, healthcare marketing campaigns are often particularly powerful. Hospital groups, pharmaceutical companies and charitable causes are increasingly pushing the boundaries to create creative, compelling campaigns which create a lasting impression. Using the right social media channels to deliver the message directly to their target audience is what makes the best campaigns so successful.


Here are five of our favourites from the past few years:

1. SickKids VS

Better known simply as “SickKids,” Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children took a radical approach when sharing the stories of its young patients in a fundraising campaign for the Sick Kids Foundation. Rather than tugging on the audience’s heartstrings by portraying patients as victims of their medical condition or depicting the hardships having a child with a serious illness poses for the entire family, the kids are presented is a series of videos as heroic fighters readying for battle.

Instead of being portrayed as weak or suffering, they are defiant and strong. They are gladiators, boxers, pro wrestlers and comic book superheroes, supported by an army of doctors, nurses, researchers and family members who gird for battle alongside them. The final result is intense, raw and unforgettable.


It’s a new solution to an old problem. Despite rising awareness of breast cancers and the importance of early detection, officials with the Carilion Clinic in Virginia were concerned that not enough women were scheduling mammograms. The clinic added screening locations through the state which would be accessible to all women, regardless of their ability to pay, and launched the #YESMAMM campaign to encourage women to schedule an appointment. The social based campaign helped drive traffic to the clinic site, grew their online community and provided a way to share valuable information with hosted Twitter chats about breast cancer.

3. Movember

When a healthcare campaign goes global and takes over an entire month, you know it’s been a success. Movember started in 2003 as a conversation between two friends in Australia, who wanted to challenge a few friends to grow a moustache. Inspired by friends who were raising money for breast cancers, they decided to make the challenge meaningful by using it to raise money for men’s health issues. The following year they decided to make the movement formal and registered the Movember Foundation, built a website and launched a social media campaign. Now, 15 years later, more than 5.5 million “Mo Bros” (and “Mo Sisters’) have joined the movement, funding more than 1,200 projects in 20 countries and, raising awareness of men’s health issues such as prostate and testicular cancers.

4. The Eyes Of A Child

The brainchild of a French advocacy group called the Noémie Foundation, the powerful campaign titled The Eyes of a Child aimed to change the public’s perception of people with disabilities. In a compelling video, parents and their kids were shown pictures of people making various funny faces, and were asked to mimic them. In each case the last image depicted a person with a disability. While the adults reacted with surprise or shock, and stopped trying to mimic their facial expressions, the children innocently continued playing the game. The campaign’s simple message lies at the root of its success: when we look at the disabled through the eyes of a child, we see the person, not their disability.

5. Things Everybody Does But Doesn’t Talk About

When the U.S. government wanted to encourage millennials to visit healthcare.govand sign up for healthcare coverage it took a decidedly lighthearted approach to a serious (and some might say boring) subject. With the help of a very famous spokesperson – then President Barack Obama – and BuzzFeed, it launched a promotional video designed to capture the attention of this traditionally hard to reach demographic. And it worked. The humorous clip answered the question: “What does the President do when nobody’s around?” The answer: the same things everybody else does. He checks himself out in new sunglasses, makes funny faces, takes selfies with a selfie stick, blames the President when something goes wrong and practices for a big speech in front of the mirror. The fact that his speech rehearsal includes a plug for the site and reminds viewers of the sign-up deadline is clever and hits just the right tone for the millennial audience. With more than 15 million views in its first 8 hours, the campaign was a viral sensation.

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Do you have hard time planning your social media footprint for your dental practice? The chances are that you either don’t have the time or the knowledge to make this marketing channel work for your business. Say no more, we have drafted this comprehensive tutorial to help you excel at your social media marketing strategy and to never ever wonder how often, what and when to publish on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform you use to communicate with your target audience. The case studies and tips we’ll share with you in the following post aim to inspire you to test and adopt new techniques in order to optimize the social media marketing strategy of your dental practice. The first step towards building an effective social media strategy for your dental practice is to audit the actual social media presence of your business and to find out what are the things you could improve on. You should start by reviewing your social media marketing goals and how they can be achieved through each social media platform. Step 1. Focus on setting measurable objectives: X number of new patients converted online per month; X number of new web referrals per month; X number of people visiting your dental site from a given social media campaign; X number of people calling your practice after seeing your social media ad. Even though Facebook is by far the most preferred social media out there, don’t limit your social media strategy to it only. Keep in mind that your target audience might hang out on other platforms as well. Each social media platform presents you with unique promotional opportunities. Step 2. Select the most relevant social media channel for your dental practice: Define which social media sites are preferred by your target audience; Take into account the specifics of each of those channels and consider what marketing strategies you could successfully implement for each one of those; Make your message consistent on all social media platforms, regardless of the adopted strategy per channel. In the following example, a fictional dental practice takes advantage of 5 social media channels to reach out to their target audience. They use: Facebook: to increase user engagement by organizing contests, posting “before & after” photos; to actively promote their dental services by posting targeted paid ads; to attract new patients by showcasing positive patients’ reviews; Twitter: to educate their target audience via live-streaming, sharing latest dental news and updates, and announcing last-minute changes regarding appointments; Pinterest and Instagram: to increase user engagement by uploading eye-catching images of their dental practice and their team; YouTube: to educate their clients by sharing their expertise; Dental online communities: to build long-term relationships with other experts in the field; When it comes to choosing the right social networks, it’s best to conduct a survey among your existing patients and ask them of their specific social platform preferences. Your current patients are likely to already follow you on social media. Go ahead and study their demographics and needs. Whether they are families with young children, senior citizens, millennials in Denver, or stay-at-home or busy corporate-working moms, always be specific with your targeting. For example, if you are a family or pediatric dentist, your target market is young families who have children. You can post on social media photos of your young patients or information concerning baby or children’s dental health. By offering content that resonates with your audience you’ll motivate your followers to share, like and engage with your practice. It takes much time and resources to manage a number of social media accounts, so instead of spreading thin on several social platforms, concentrate on a few key channels and exploit them to their full potential. Now let’s go through the benefits of using some of the most popular social media channels: Step 3. Invest your time in Facebook Being the most popular social media platform online, Facebook would most likely have attracted the majority of your target audience as its loyal users. Facebook is an important channel for consumer-facing businesses like dental practices because it provides many tools to communicate with current clients as well as to engage with new prospects. For example, you can easily: create an event; promote special offers; create polls; live-stream; create local advertising campaigns; or even get phone calls or direct messages via the platform. If you are looking to nurture a long-term relationship with your patients – Facebook is your thing. For example if you step up on your customer support on Facebook by answering individual questions or by quickly accepting online appointments, you will easily boost the customers’ satisfaction and will create a loyal fanbase. Moreover, you can improve your online reach by connecting and cross-promoting with other local organizations on the network or by creating local awareness ads. Local awareness ads can help you reach locals, who will benefit from your services. With format features like a map listing, “Call Now”, “Book Now”, and “Get Directions” buttons, they can drive more patients to your dental practice. Step 4. Join the conversation on Twitter If you want to have real-time communication with your existing and potential patients, Twitter is the right place to be. Be careful, though, the content on this social platform has a short lifespan, so you have to be more active when sharing the latest news and information on trending dental topics. Remember to include relevant hashtags in your tweets –  they could actually boost the visibility of your tweets for a longer period of time. Twitter lists on the other hand allow you to categorize Twitter users by common feature, like: satisfied customers, or competitors, partners, industry leaders and so on. You can add users to a list you’ve already created, even if those don’t follow your business. By doing so you’d find it easier to navigate between the chaos of streaming tweets and filter out only the important conversations for your business. You can import contacts from your address book to Twitter and draft your lists with ease. Twitter lists can help you monitor target patients, track your competitors without officially following them, or find inspiration from other dentists, industry influencers, and authoritative dental organizations. You can also find and follow already existing dental-specific Twitter Lists by typing in Google, followed by keywords like dentists lists or dental lists: Search Google for relevant Twitter lists. Step 5. Show off your dental practice on Instagram and Pinterest Instagram and Pinterest are not just for foodies, fashionistas, gym enthusiasts, or travelers. If you are creative and have the resources to come up with visually appealing content, don’t skip thеse social platforms. You can: post visuals featuring your modern and good-looking dental office; share successful dental makeover cases; promote special discounts; publish behind-the-scenes snapshots; create Instagram Stories by recording a short video featuring you and your patient; Pinterest is an endless source of content inspiration for a variety of dental tips, dental do’s and don’ts,  infographics about dental health, so if you’re stuck on what to offer your target audience, search the site and gather fresh ideas in no time. While creating your content for Pinterest and Instagram, do not forget about hashtags. Both platforms encourage using as many hashtags as possible, as long as they are relevant. If you focus on cosmetic dentistry, you can utilize Instagram and Pinterest to post visual content to popularize your service and brand image. Be careful when editing your images for the platforms and don’t overuse image filters. Step 6. Improve your Google visibility with YouTube If you can take the time to create videos regularly, managing a YouTube channel for your dental practice will be a great competitive edge to your marketing strategy. YouTube videos will help you increase the online exposure of your website and expand your reach to more local dental patients. You will definitely stand out as many of the local dentists don’t invest time into producing and uploading YouTube videos and that is not due to any lack of desire, but to some serious bad planning issues. Here are some tips on how to pimp up your YouTube videos in order to increase your chances of getting them in Google search results when an online user searches for symptom explanations, an oral problem or a specific treatment, such as dental cosmetic procedure: Add attractive and descriptive video titles containing target keywords; Create custom thumbnails that catch viewer’s attention; Include keywords in the first 120 characters of the video description because Google provides a short snippet of the video description in the search results; Write clear and catchy Call-To-Action links to your website-content; Upload a video transcript. The majority of the search queries that tend to trigger video results are often informational in nature. In order to meet the demand produce how-to videos and videos illustrating dental treatments that you perform in your office. Step 7. Share your expertise and build brand awareness with online dental communities On online forums you can connect with your industry peers, dental service providers and manufactures. You can show your expertise and popularize your practice by adding value to the ongoing discussions. Forums like DentalTown and WebDental gather a community of dentists who share their experience and answer dental-related questions. They’re also a great source of information about every aspect of running a dental practice, including practice management, office design, dental marketing, best practices in the field, new technologies. Another benefit of taking part in online communities and forums is that you are able to directly interact with your customers by answering their questions and sharing information that they care about or are looking for. When participating in Q&A social media sites try to answer the initial question directly or acknowledge what others have already written. Step 8. Connect your official blog with your social media profiles Popularize your blog posts by sharing them on your social media accounts. Add social sharing buttons on your blog to make it easy for readers to share your content with their friends. Try to produce compelling and valuable content on a daily basis and make sure to share it on your social media profiles. When your followers see that you’re active on a regular basis, the memory of your business will remain fresh in their mind. Seems like an impossible task, doesn’t it? The best tip for ensuring long-term user engagement is to mix up your content: educate your followers; engage them; entertain them; remain relevant and useful to your target audience. Step 9. Educate your followers Gain trust and stay on top оf your target audience’s mind by providing professional information in a creative and engaging way on a regular basis. Educating your patients is one of the best ways to position yourself as “the expert” in your niche. It’s simple, just follow some of the ideas we’ve listed for you below: 9.1 Post general dental tips like links to industry news, videos, statistics, or even your own  blog. Thus, you can build credibility and trust among your followers and boost your website’s traffic, which is a great thing! You can share tips like highlighting the benefits of flossing, tongue cleaning, using a mouthwash, keeping one’s toothbrush clean, using clove for toothache pain, and spending enough time brushing teeth. 9.2. Post information and examples of dental care and oral habits that may compromise people’s overall health, appearance, and comfort. Remember – fear is a key emotional trigger to influence a consumer purchasing behavior. Clarify the procedures and services being delivered; A dental clinic in Pasay City, Philippines promotes and educates its Facebooks fans about the benefits of their in-office procedure. Provide preventive oral health care information; You can share preventive care tips like changing the toothbrush after having a cold, flu, a mouth infection or a sore throat. Explain nutrition habits and their effect on dental health or share recipes that are good for oral health and ask people to share photos of their versions of the recipe. It’s a great way to start a conversation with your fans. You can share articles created by industry leaders, partners, and authoritative dental organizations as long as they are useful to your followers. 9.3. Remind your patients to schedule their next dental appointment. Point out the benefits of regular check-ups and cleanings. For instance postponing plaque and tartar removal can lead to some serious progressive conditions. 9.4.Broadcast live videos Share what’s happening in real time at your dental office by live-streaming on Instagram Live Stories, Facebook Live Video, or by posting videos on Twitter, that are powered by Periscope. This is a great way to: start a “behind the scenes at your clinic” series; run a live Q&A or “Ask Me Anything” sessions; cover an event; shed a light on your key manipulations or even more detailed, patient surgeries. A well-thought engagement strategy will help you reach out to your audience without breaking the bank – you just need some creativity and a mobile device. Video content builds up a personal connection between you and your target audience. Moreover, social media platforms that allow video upload automatically notify your followers when you go live. The owners of a dental center in Caloocan, Philippines livestream from their office and give their audience a true taste of what it’s like to be their customer. 9.5.Differentiate your practice Highlight key features that make your practice special. Most people fear going to the dentist. Try helping your patients overcome their fear by offering them comfort, relaxing atmosphere, and positive attitude: the greeting is important – conduct an initial contact and hear out your patient’s complaints and reasons to feel anxious and explain thoroughly the procedures that follow next; think out of the box – provide the comfort of the SPA treatment and offer in-house complimentary hand and arm massage after the dental manipulations; the environment matters – offer a scented towel after the dental visit; A cosmetic dentistry in Kingston, Jamaica offers to their patients a warm, scented towel to refresh their face and hands after a dental treatment. music to distract them from their fear – offer headphones to mute the machine sound during the procedures; comfort to ease the tension – equip your waiting room with comfortable chairs; keep them entertained while waiting – provide various magazines or kids’ coloring books: Colouring removes focus from stressful situations and negative thoughts. Patients will be pleasantly surprised, and this will result in positive online reviews and recommendations. 9.6. Keep your patients up-to-date with your practice growth The dental industry is a dynamic field with new technologies and treatments coming out every day. Keep your patients informed about the changes in the industry and promote new procedures or high-tech dental equipment available at your practice. For instance, you can announce new additions to your dental practice including: Interior make-over: more comfortable and state of the art patient chairs; Installation of new professional equipment: X-ray sensors or a panorex machine. The more modern and up-to-date your dental practice looks like, the more comfortable your patients will feel about having you as their personal dentist. A dentistry in Glasgow, United Kingdom informs their Facebook followers that they are using special chairs that can flip round for left- handed or right-handed dentists in less than two minutes. 9.7. Let your patients know your availability While you might have already set up the general working hours of your practice in your social media accounts, you should also post information about special appointment opportunities like: available hours around the holidays; last minute call-in appointment opportunities; unexpected booking opportunities due to cancelled appointments; special emergency or seasonal working hours. A dental practice in Roy, Utah informs its patients that their working hours are different for the holidays and that the office will be closed on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. A family dental practice in Paris, Texas apologized for the inconvenience caused due to power outage. The post regarding the canceled appointments was shared 28 times. A health center in Washington tweeted that they had to delay their dental appointments due to a fire at the office. A family oriented dentistry in Ely, Minnesota changed their working hours during the summer season. The update was well-received by the patients.   9.8. Launch your own posts series Come up with a catchy title for your post series, something that will motivate social media users to click and skim through your content. The series can be dedicated to: oral health advices; dental jokes; your team behind different projects. The dentistry in Manhasset, New York posts a scheduled series of tips on oral health under the name “Tuesday Teeth Tip”. 9.9. Introduce your team and practice culture Since all your team members, including dental hygienists, dental technicians and receptionists, spend time with your patients, you’d better introduce them to your followers in order to build trust and to create a close-knit community. Bring the focus to individual employees by: introducing new team members; saying farewell to those who are retiring or leaving your practice; acknowledging your staff’s job accomplishments or sharing their spare time activities. Share a photo and a short bio of your employees so that your followers get to know them better. Turn these “personal” posts into regular monthly or weekly series. Showing the human face of your business by sharing a spontaneous photo of a team member can also boost your reach and user engagement. A dental practice in Coffs Harbour, Australia celebrates employee birthdays and anniversaries and often shares photos of the event on their Instagram account. Show that your co-workers enjoy a relaxed working environment. Your followers will feel that your office has a cozy family spirit and will be more inclined to visit or to refer your practice. You can post photos of your staff as a further way of offering appreciation or congratulations on successfully achieving a goal, like for instance running a marathon… …or the arrival of a new baby. 9.10. Launch and promote non-profit local community initiatives you take part in You can raise money to buy materials for building homes for local homeless people or to buy a piece of playground equipment for your local YMCA. You can also cooperate with local societies, clubs and other concerned authorities to organize awareness campaigns for causes like Mouth Cancer Action Month, National Smile Month, and Give Kids A Smile. The involvement and dedication will contribute to the favorable image of your business in your local community. Every year this Manila dental clinic provides free dental services to retired priests. An Australian dental center encourages their followers on Instragram to take part in their cause and donate $1 toothbrushes that are handed out to people in need in Papua New Guinea. To raise awareness on the mouth cancer you can provide free oral cancer screenings or start a campaign on how to improve oral health by sharing informative photos and links. A dental clinic in Glasgow, United Kingdom organizes a Foodbank Drive each year in attempt to collect food for homeless people and families in need. They are collaborating with a local football club and a local community, that is aiming at raising awareness of homelessness in Glasgow. The dental clinic promotes the initiative solely through its Facebook page and encourages their followers to donate any of the already listed items by dropping them into the clinic. The campaign gets lots of engagement. 9.11. Organizing or participating in industry conferences and courses Share posts regarding hands-on courses you have attended or delivered. This is a way to demonstrate your expertise or willingness to improve your skills. Focus on the benefits your patients will enjoy as a result of your team’s new qualifications and gained expertise. A dentistry in Glasgow, United Kingdom shares their engagement at the Scottish Dental Show 2017, where their dental hygienist discussed the maintenance of dental implants and the benefits of the team approach. Step 10. Engage your followers 10.1. Ask questions Encourage people to like and comment your posts by posing questions about relevant topics like sharing their personal oral hygiene habits, for instance. The more your followers engage with your posts, the more visible your content will be to them and to their friends. You can ask questions about oral care habits or related topics like smoking, chewing ice, nail biting, flossing, gum chewing, etc. 10.2. Join the conversation Participating in social media groups and discussions can help you expand your social media footprint and stay abreast of the ever-changing dental world. Take part in Facebook Groups Search for relevant and active groups where you can collaborate with industry peers, and discuss on topics related to dentistry like: clinical cases, personal experiences, ideas for a better clinical practice, academic researches, innovative clinical products, relevant events. Additionally, you can also network with potential customers. Browse local groups or friends’ groups. For example, if you are a pediatric dentist with a practice in Oakdale, California, you can join local moms’ groups, groups for baby and children items, or neighborhood groups. Be mindful of group members’ problems and offer them a solution. However, be careful with self-promotional content and sparingly mention your brand in order not to look too pushy. Also, consider special guidelines that the group may have adopted: for instance, they may require you to join with your personal Facebook profile instead of using your business page. Leverage Twitter Chats Twitter chats are a fine way to build a good followership for your practice. You can participate in already established Twitter chats, for example the #Fallforsmiles Twitter Chat or the #TinyTeethTalk Chat. Oral Health America has organized a Q&A Twitter chat and uses a specific hashtag assigned to the chat in all of their tweets so that their audience could easily follow the conversation. However, if you’re having a hard time finding Twitter chats that are a good fit for your needs, don’t be afraid to create your own: Choose a topic that will be of interest to your Twitter audience, for example children’s oral health or tooth whitening; Think of relevant and unique hashtags for your chat. It’s also good if it includes the name of your dental practice; Set a date and time based on when your target audience is most likely to be online; Invite patients, colleagues and other dental experts to participate in the chat. During the talk they can clarify misconceptions and provide tips directly to patients, for example how parents can keep children’s teeth healthy; Promote the chat on your social media accounts, website and via email; Twitter chats offer visibility and opportunity to connect to a larger customer base. If you decide that you want to start and lead a talk on Twitter, just be aware that moderating requires a lot of work. You’ll have to keep the chat active, keep an eye on possible spammers and make sure participants are getting along. 10.3.Make a clever use of hashtags People use hashtags to search for specific content that they’re interested in. Primarily used on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, they are a great way to increase your message visibility online. Using popular local hashtags will help you reach out to more people that might end up visiting your dental office. You can use tools such as and to find relevant hashtags to your practice, specialty or location. Below is a list of hashtags often used by dental practices: #dentalhealth #oralhealth #dentaltip #oralhygiene #ToothDecay #dentalcare #toptipsforteeth #healthysmiles #cavityfighters #DentalHumour #toptipsforteeth #HealthyTeeth #HappyTeeth #2x2min #Your Location/City #Your Community/Event Depending on your goals, pick already used or create your own hashtags that will fit to your specific needs. Step 11. Entertain your followers Uncover the more lighthearted side of your practice and have some fun with your content. 11.1. Share dental jokes and dental memes Get inspired by searching for dental humor images on Pinterest, videos or YouTube, or anecdotes on Twitter. 11.2. Celebrate with your patients Record short, personal videos to greet your patients for their birthdays; Celebrate the wins of your patients, for example greet a patient for getting his braces off: Post pictures or short videos that reflect your patients’ emotions. This provokes empathy and boosts engagement. Share posts regarding major holidays,g. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, local and national events, or office celebrations, for example, your dental practice birthday, National Fresh Breath Day, National Tooth Ache Day, etc. Curate a list of the most engaging major and relevant holidays for the year. Show the fun side of your practice and publish content that is more playful and enthusiastic. Your followers will join in and this will bring more user engagement and social media exposure of your business. 11.3. Recommend dental apps Share some dental mobile apps that can help your patients take good care of their oral health and have some fun at the same time. Check out the following list of useful apps for patients: Brush DJ – it’s a toothbrush timer app that entertains users with musical background while they brush. It also allows them to set reminders to brush, floss, use a mouth rinse, change their toothbrush every 3 months, and schedule their next appointment at their dentist, hygienist or orthodontist; Teeth Whitener – the application aims at convincing patients to get a teeth whitening treatment by allowing them to see themselves with a brighter smile; Monster Mouth DDS – a fun app that lets users be a dentist for an array of monster patients, each of which has a distinct dental complaint. It’s a kid-friendly app and some of the problems users can solve are rubbing a tooth to clean it, finding hidden tooth cracks with an X-ray, and filling in cavities; Colgate Tooth Fairy – helps families build regular brushing routine with a teeth timer game, while providing valuable tips on dental care. 11.4. Organize contests and giveaways Through social media games, you can both entertain users and subtly promote your dental services. Moreover, getting your fans involved will spread your reach to their family and friends and that can help you grow your followership for good. You can organize contests around: Your dental practice birthday; Oral health tips; Holidays and dental-related special days/months; General topics like the changing of seasons; Appointment scheduling; Referral acquisition; Offer a compelling prize like professional toothbrushes, a smile makeover at your dental clinic, a gift card to a local restaurant, or movie tickets. When people see real benefits, they are more likely to engage with your contest. Don’t forget to spread the word for your giveaway by publishing “before”, “during”, and ”after” posts that feature a photo or a short video. This type of content easily goes viral and generates lots of interest amongst people. Step 12. Advertise your dental practice 12.1. Create “Before & After” photos This type of content is great for catching people’s attention and encouraging them to take an action. Smile makeover images are a good way to showcase the impact of your work. 12.2. Share patient testimonials Record video testimonials to share the success stories of your patients. Patient proof adds an element of trust to your dental practice’s social media accounts and can have a great impact on potential patients who might be looking for a dentist at the moment. Resharing patients’ posts featuring positive reviews on your own feed may encourage others to consider contacting your practice in future. 12.3. Run a last-minute promotion If a patient cancels an appointment, you can run a last-minute promotion on Facebook. For example, if someone has cancelled an appointment in the last minute, you can post on Facebook that you have a free slot and whomever makes an appointment for that hour will get 50% off their treatment. 12.4. Run paid advertising campaigns It’s possible to promote your business without spending money on social media advertising, but only if you are willing to sacrifice your precious time and attention. To save your time and efforts you can always invest in paid ads where you can increase your reach, boost engagement or increase conversions. Moreover, social media advertising is relatively low-cost alternative in comparison to more traditional channels like broadcast, print, and direct mail. Facebook and Twitter have some of the most robust advertising features that allow you to target your current fans, past customers, the visitors of your practice’s website, and lookalike audiences who are similar to the audience of your existing patients. You just need to make an educated guess on how to split your advertising budget between the channels that your targeted audience hangs out. When advertising on Facebook. instead of only targeting people by their location, it’s better to go with more detailed demographic and behavioral targeting. For example, if you are a pediatric dentist, show your ad to parents within 15 miles of your practice, who are between the 25 and 45 years old, and have an estimated household income of between $125K and $250K. You can even narrow down your Facebook audience by excluding groups of people, for example other local dentists or dental hygienists in your area. With Facebook Custom Audience feature you can target people who have interacted with your business offline or with your Facebook page in some way (e.g. have followed it, messaged you, liked or comment some of your posts, watched your videos or responded to your event on Facebook). YouTube also offers a wide variety of advertising opportunities for your business. It gives you an array of targeting options including: demographics – filter your target audience by age, gender, parental status, or household income; topics – show your ads on videos related to specific topics; keywords – show your video ads based on words or phrases related to a video or a channel; placements – target specific YouTube channels and videos; interests – reach people interested in certain topics. You can also prevent your YouTube ads from appearing on videos that are irrelevant or can hurt your brand image by excluding placements, categories, and keywords. Step 13. Blend social media and offline marketing strategies 13.1. Attract new followers outside social media Use offline marketing materials like business cards, flyers, and posters to promote your social media pages. Social signs, like “I love my dentist” are a great way to get your team and patients involved in your social media marketing activities. They can help you increase the visibility of your practice and will trigger followers’ engagement. When you talk to your patients, ask them to follow you on the social networks, to check-in or to share their experience on your social profile. 13.2. Show appreciation to your patients Host patient appreciation parties Hold a patient appreciation party: you can organize a picnic, a movie night, or a special evening at a local venue. Give yourself enough time to plan and publicize both it in your practice and on social media. You can create a Facebook event on your business page. Have a Treat Day Choose a day when your patients can come, chat with you and get a free cupcake. Announce the special day in advance on social media. Invite people to bring a friend or a family member as well. Shoot photos or videos throughout the Treat Day and share them on your social media accounts. Patient of the month program Recognize a patient of the month by giving gift boxes or flowers to patients at your dental office. The special gesture will encourage current patients to spread the word about your practice among their friends both online and offline. 13.3. Popularize community events Show your commitment to improve the well-being of people in the communities you serve by supporting events like free oral health screenings at your location; a demonstration about a new medical procedure; a presentation given by a dental practitioner.


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Researchers use data to look 'upstream' to see what makes patients sick: News at IU: Indiana University

Researchers use data to look 'upstream' to see what makes patients sick: News at IU: Indiana University | Social Media and Healthcare |

Researchers at IUPUI and the Regenstrief Institute have successfully used data to predict primary care patients' needs that stem from  social determinants of health, a finding that may potentially help shift the focus of health care from caring for ill people to preventing patients from getting sick.

Using data from 48 socioeconomic and public health indicators, researchers were able to look "upstream" to determine which conditions or circumstances led to a patient becoming ill and needed to be addressed through referrals to prevent the patient from becoming ill again.

The conditions that most affect health are the physical, economic and social environment in which people are born, live and work, as well as their personal behaviors.

The study, "Assessing the capacity for social determinants of health data to augment predictive models identifying patients in need of wraparound social services," was published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

The ability to predict the need for referrals stems from an unprecedented and ever-increasing availability of diverse data sources and has the potential to improve health services delivery and health system performance, said Paul K. Halverson, founding dean of the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI and one of the project's researchers.

The research comes at a time when financial incentives for health care are moving from payments for services to payments for keeping patients healthy.

"There is a recognition by most medical providers that we just can't keep our approach focused on illness care," Halverson said. "Prevention as a primary strategy helps us address some of the real drivers of poor health and, hopefully, make a difference early on."

"We increasingly recognize that many -- and perhaps most -- factors influencing health outcomes are found outside of the health system and relate to such universal themes as food availability, adequate housing and reliable transportation," said Dr. Shaun Grannis, director of the Regenstrief Institute's Center for Biomedical Informatics and a co-author of the study. "This early and innovative work helps inform the pathway toward more effectively leveraging these types of data."

The study indicates that it is possible to accurately predict a need for various social services using a range of readily available clinical and community data, said Joshua Vest, another researcher who worked on the study and an associate professor and director for the Center for Health Policy in the Fairbanks School of Public Health. Vest is also a Regenstrief Institute investigator.

By addressing social services needs through referrals, the hope is that patients will avoid not only costly hospitalizations in the future but perhaps unnecessary emergency department visits. The researchers not only identified the need for referrals but identified the best skilled professional who could assist the patient, Vest said.

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How Healthcare Professionals Should Be Using Social Media

How Healthcare Professionals Should Be Using Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Thanks to our technologically advanced and digitally connected society, social media has quickly become an increasingly useful tool for healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, with these great social platforms comes great responsibility, especially for medical professionals. While platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogging and LinkedIn are excellent ways to share information, network and stay up to date on latest industry news, presenting and conducting yourself with proper online etiquette as a healthcare professional is critical.  It is imperative that healthcare employees maintain patient confidentiality and privacy at all times while being a positive representation of their workplace, as any inappropriate use of social media can lead to disciplinary and even legal action.

Social Media Best Practice for Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare employees have to be conscious of what they're posting on social media platforms. Your online profiles are a public representative of not only yourself but also your profession and current or potential employer, so you'll want to give the world a positive impression.

Social media is an extremely valuable platform for accessing information quickly and communicating with others. Healthcare professionals can take advantage of social media strengths by using these tools and website to:

  • Share general health information and educate the public
  • Share the latest news regarding outbreaks, hazards or trends.
  • Network with professionals both in their industry as well as other professions
  • Provide updates on new technologies
  • Provide insight into common questions
  • Learn about new opportunities

 Beneficial Ways that Healthcare Professionals Can Use Social Media

Various social media outlets and actions can be beneficial to healthcare professionals in the following ways.


For healthcare professionals who enjoy writing, blogging on industry topics in a positive and thought-provoking manner can establish them as subject matter experts. Maintaining an active industry blog can show the dedication the individual has to their field, help them stay educated and informed, and looks great to potential employers.


Twitter is one of the most popular sources for communication and news, especially in times of crises. From posting healthcare and safety notices to creating awareness about preventative health campaigns and educational tidbits, healthcare employees can effectively generate attention to health-related topics to create awareness and educate the public. In addition, Twitter acts as a newsfeed for trending topics that can help healthcare workers stay on top of the latest news, developments and information.


With the wide variety of demographics of Facebook users, healthcare professionals can use this platform to share resources like new articles, videos and images to help bridge the information gap between healthcare providers and patients.


As the social media platform known for professional networking, LinkedIn is an excellent platform for healthcare professionals to publish insight, connect with other industry professionals, network and stay up to date with their fields latest news, stories and trends.

What Healthcare Professionals Should Not Share On Social Media

When it comes to social media, it’s important to understand that privacy doesn’t truly exist. Regardless of any security features, once something has been posted on the internet, it will be there forever, even deleting it won’t simply get rid of it. Therefore, it’s crucial for healthcare professionals to think twice before making a post.

Healthcare employees must be cautious with the information they share online. In accordance with HIPPA laws, it is illegal and finable for a healthcare professional to purposely or accidentally share information about patients. Breaches of patient privacy and confidentiality can occur in different ways on social media:

  • Photos or videos of patients, even if they cannot be identified
  • Photos or videos of patients’ records
  • Posts including any descriptions of patients, their conditions, and/or their treatments
  • Referring to patients in a demeaning or negative manner

In addition to patient confidentially, there are other aspects that healthcare professionals should be conscious of not sharing on social platforms, including:

  • Don’t share any proprietary business information regarding your employer
  • Don’t share any negative or inappropriate information about your employer
  • Don't post or share anything that you would be embarrassed to say to your boss or a potential employer

The key to successfully maintaining an online presence and identity is finding a happy and responsible middle between utilizing social media for both professional and personal benefits without breaking patient privacy and confidentially codes. In addition, your employer may also have their own policies regarding social media use, so be sure to be mindful and compliant with their standards as well.

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Plastic surgeon: Patients are asking to look like their Snapchat-filtered selfies

Plastic surgeon: Patients are asking to look like their Snapchat-filtered selfies | Social Media and Healthcare |

Photoshopped magazine faces of celebrities have long been the inspiration for patients seeking out plastic surgery, but now one New York surgeon says patients are now asking to look like the Snapchat-filtered version of themselves. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Dr. Matthew Shulman said that while patients have always often brought in images, they are now using Snapchat filters as examples of how they want their skin, eyes or lips to look.

Several Snapchat filters, like that crown of flowers, will smooth out skin while many will also make the eyes look larger and the lips fuller. Those changes are all procedures that were available before Snapchat, the board-certified plastic surgeon says, like lip fillers and eyelid surgeries.

Plastic surgeon Dr. Michelle Yagoda, who also works in New York, says she’s seen an influence from social media as well. This is occurring in a less obvious way, since patients aren’t coming into her office with actual Snapchat filters as their inspiration. Yagoda says that the social inspiration, however, is making those images widely available — not altering the beauty standards themselves. The changes that she believes have been influenced by social media are common requests like smoother skin.

Shulman certainly isn’t against Snapchat — the surgeon himself was in the news last year for sharing his surgeries on Snapchat, where he averaged over a million views per day. Shulman says he actually prefers patients bringing in a Snapchat filtered image. Achieving a look that’s a doctored version of a selfie is often more realistic than trying to look like someone else entirely, especially when using a photo of a celebrity as a starting point.

Shulman isn’t alone in seeing patients bringing in images edited on social media apps — a cosmetic surgeon in the U.K. echoed similar sentiments earlier this month. In some cases, the doctor recognized body dysmorphic disorder and referred the patients instead to a counselor. Last year, a cosmetic surgeon told Cosmo that the 18-24 year age group was most often citing “wanting to look good in pictures” as the reason behind the surgery.

The trend factors into an ongoing discussion on how the selfie culture — and the ability to Photoshop ourselves at the press of a button — affects self-esteem and body image.

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How social media can reach a wider audience for healthcare services

Social media optimization is growing in importance at a rapid rate. One cannot neglect the positive outcomes of SEO factor. Whatever may be the sector you are …
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How Optometrists Can Improve Their Online Reputation

How Optometrists Can Improve Their Online Reputation | Social Media and Healthcare |

It might feel like you have little control over what is posted on the Internet about your optometry practice, and to some extent that may be true. However, that does not mean you must sit idly by while past patients comment on their experiences. Whether they are singing your praises or criticizing every detail about their visit, there are some steps you can take to interject yourself into the conversation and cast your optometry services in the best possible light.

Why It Matters

Your reputation matters – especially your online reputation. When it comes to optometric care, you already know that your patients have several choices in your community alone. There are no referrals necessary, and many probably don’t even have vision insurance. Ultimately, that means that some patients may be more likely to shop around for an optometrist than they are for, say, a cardiologist. Where do you think they will start their search? The Internet. Bad reviews not only damage your image, but they can also damage your search engine rankings. Why let your competitor enjoy a better Google search ranking just because he or she has better average reviews?

Assess the Damage

It goes without saying that a bad experience gets shared more often than a good one. You could be providing over-the-top service and quality care to everyone that darkens your doors, but it only takes one person to cast a shadow over your glowing reputation with an online review. Perhaps you already know about that one review. Maybe you know about several. Perhaps you have no idea what types of things are being said about your practice on the Internet because you’ve never taken the time to check. At the end of the day, you cannot direct the conversation if you aren’t a part of it. Take time to research your own name and practice on top review sites, including Google and Facebook, to find out what is being said about you.

Remove What You Can

Most third-party websites will not allow you to remove bad reviews from their websites. The exception is social media, which allows you to manage what information is prominent on your page. If a customer tags your office in an unflattering way, simply remove the tag. You can also choose to hide negative comments on your posts.

Know When to Respond

Sometimes it may not be necessary to respond to comments about your practice. However, more times than not, it helps to contribute your voice to the conversation, whether just to say thank you or to address a problem with your practice. This shows that you care about the experience your clients have at your office and want to do everything you can to right any wrongs.

If you come across a negative review, keep your cool. It’s easy to get angry about an online review, but it is best to keep your emotions out of it – even if you want to defend yourself. Do you remember the golden rule of customer service? “The customer is always right.” When it comes to public comments, remember that potential patients are paying attention to how you respond. In this case, the patient is always right. Apologize for any negative experience, assure the issue is being addressed, and offer to make it right.

No News Is Not Good News

Keep in mind that if you research your practice and find that there aren’t any good or bad reviews, don’t be quick to celebrate. Reviews are what drive your reputation. You need good reviews to improve your online visibility and drive new patients through your doors.

Be Proactive

No matter where you are in this journey, with effort, it is possible to build a solid online reputation that encourages potential patients to consider your office for their next eye appointment. We recommend:

Asking for Positive Reviews
Loyal, satisfied patients are often happy to leave you glowing reviews; you just need to ask. Try putting a reminder in your waiting area asking patients to ‘check-in’ at your practice and leave you a review. You might even offer a discount on a pair of prescription sunglass frames or accessories for those who do. Even if you have bad reviews, a flood of new positive reviews can quickly overwhelm the bad ones, bringing up your average rating and hopefully your ranking, too.

Establishing an In-House Review System
Sometimes people with bad experiences look for the first place they can to leave negative feedback. A Reputation Management System offers an opportunity to directly to prevent the information from going public. This could be a comment box at the check-out desk or maybe quick follow-up email that includes a link to provide immediate feedback. Ideally, you would be able to rectify the situation before it makes it into the public domain.

If all of this seems like a lot to remember or a time-consuming process you cannot fit into your schedule, we understand. It’s what we do all day, every day, for healthcare providers like you. If you need help managing or improving your practice’s online reputation, contact the team here at Solution21 to find out more about our reputation services. We look forward to serving you soon.

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How Negative Keywords Help Boost Your Medical Practice’s Digital Advertising ROI

How Negative Keywords Help Boost Your Medical Practice’s Digital Advertising ROI | Social Media and Healthcare |

With negative keywords, savvy digital marketers can prevent their ad spend from reaching the wrong audience.

As internet users flock to search engines for medical queries — a Pew report shows that 80% of peopleonline have sought out answers to health-related questions — it’s becoming increasingly important for digital marketers in the healthcare industry to use their ad spend wisely.

With pay per click (PPC) campaigns, medical practices can more effectively target their ideal customers than they can with traditional media. Strategically selected keywords can promote your business to potential patients at key decision-making junctures, but you’ll only have to pay if they click on your content.

While it’s important to structure your keywords so that your online content reaches interested users, it’s just as essential to preserve your ad spend by filtering out customers who don’t fit your buyer personas. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with negative keywords can boost your digital advertising ROI by preserving your PPC investment for people are the most likely to become patients.

What You Need to Know About Negative Keywords

According to Google, negative keywords are “[a] type of keyword that prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase.” With negative keywords in place, Google won’t show your ads to anybody search for those specific phrases. In other words, negative keywords help Google better understand which keywords you don’t want to appear for.

For example, you may use “free” as a negative keyword. While someone may be interested in the skincare treatment that your medical practice specializes in, you don’t want to pay for clicks from users who are primarily looking for free services. There may be other places that can provide them with that kind of care, but your business, in this circumstance, only wants to target customers who will pay. With “free” as a negative keyword, your content won’t appear to these users, preserving your ad spend for potential customers who fit within your target audience.

How to Determine Negative Keywords

In order to select the most effective negative keywords, you’ll have to get creative while relying on whatever data is available to you. Brainstorm the types of business or services that may use similar keywords as yours, and then figure out which negative keywords you can employ in order to prevent your content from being promoted to their customers.

Let’s say that your medical practice specializes in ear, nose, and throat care. Your regular keywords might coincide with at-home products that people can use to avoid a trip to the doctor altogether. In this instance, you could add “home” or “at home” to your negative keywords so that you’re not paying for users who aren’t seeking professional attention. (Whether you want to target these users in order to persuade them that care from a licensed physician is preferable to at-home remedies is up to you.)

Additionally, you can analyze data from previous PPC and SEO campaigns that can drive insights into what keywords you consistently rank for. By understanding how your website appears in organic searches, you can employ evidence-based negative keywords that you may not have predicted.

Entering and Maintaining Your Negative Keywords

The negative keywords tab is easily accessible in Google Adwords, right next to the regular keywords tab. You’ll have the option of entering campaign-level negative keywords or limiting your negative keywords to discrete ad groups depending on your current needs. Also, you can define whether each negative keyword you use is exact, broad, or a phrase match just as you would with regular keywords.

After selecting your negative keywords, it’s vital that you monitor their performance. New data may inspire additional negative keywords, market developments could shift your industry landscape, and competing businesses or services may make unanticipated changes to their own offerings. By continuously checking in on how each negative keyword is preserving your PPC investment, you’ll be able to improve them over time.

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5 Digital Marketing Tips for Doctors

5 Digital Marketing Tips for Doctors | Social Media and Healthcare |

Let’s face it – marketing and advertising have undergone monumental changes in recent years. As a whole, we have become incredibly reliant on technology in all different aspects of our lives. When it comes to marketing a medical practice, it is imperative you stay up-to-date with the latest trends in digital advertising. Gone are the days of putting up a billboard or taking out an ad in your local newspaper. These days people turn to the internet – specifically Google – in order to find a doctor, dentist, or any other healthcare provider. This is a huge shift for the medical community and one they’ve struggled to keep up with. Not only have internal protocols changed, requiring doctors to ensure all medical information is online, but the way in which patients search for and receive care is much different.

Numerous studies have been conducted that show how the medical patient has changed over the years. Many people now have what some call “high health literacy”, which means they are often inclined to seek credible information online. This has resulted in patients becoming more involved in their own healthcare, which is affecting how you, the doctor, provides medical care. Because of these shifts, it is more important than ever for doctors to understand how to promote their medical practice and get in front of patients. There are many different digital marketing strategies out there today that can help you develop a healthy, strong, and relevant online presence. These days, it’s all about building trust and establishing your reputation, which is something Med Critic can help you with.


Every doctor or healthcare provider should take the time to understand just how important digital marketing is for medical professionals. Building trust and providing patients with relevant, rich information is the first step. Sure, it may seem complicated or even overwhelming, but there are a few things you can do to build a stronger online presence:

  • Start with a professional website that is search engine optimized – It may help to Google yourself before you do anything else, and once you do that if you find that your website does not show up on the first page of search engine results, you’ll know where to start. Having a website that is modern, easy to navigate, mobile-friendly, and offers relevant information is an absolute must. Make sure your website is search engine optimized (commonly referred to as SEO) in order to improve your website rankings and increase traffic. Keywords are huge when it comes to SEO, as they will help bring local people to your website.
  • Focus your marketing efforts – Research shows that people respond better to focused, tailored marketing campaigns. Take the time to understand who your audience is and then adjust your marketing efforts to these specific groups of people.
  • Cultivate your personal brand – Today’s medical patient is looking for a doctor they can trust and who they believe truly cares about their patients. This is why it is important to cultivate your personal brand and help people get to know you. Even though we live in a technological age, Millennials and other generations are looking for that personal connection. Write blogs, engage with social media followers, and do everything you can to position yourself as an industry expert.
  • Follow-up with your patients – Email is a wonderful tool that allows doctors to provide patients with more personalized care and attention. We know it can be challenging to try and stay up-to-date with all of your patients, but taking care of your patients is a must.
  • Grow your content marketing efforts – Content marketing includes both blogging and social media, and it is an extremely effective way to reach both new and existing patients. Consider a podcast or YouTube channel, as these are both great platforms to interact, educate, and engage with your patients.
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Xbox for Docs: Pharma backs AR games for use in physician learning 

Xbox for Docs: Pharma backs AR games for use in physician learning  | Social Media and Healthcare |

The polyp, visible under the fleshy tissue of the intestine, needs to be removed. You grasp the clump of cells with a glinting metal forceps and pull. Red liquid gushes from the area, flowing outward and collecting in a shallow pool. A blood vessel has burst. Flustered, you cauterize the wound, but cause unnecessary damage to the surrounding tissue.

Your score dips. The case is real, but the blood is virtual. The above scenario was designed by a company that creates mobile games in which doctors can diagnose conditions and “perform” a variety of surgical procedures on digital patients.

“We're using video game design and psychology to improve physician decision-making and enhance critical thinking,” says Sam Glassenberg, founder and CEO of Level Ex, a medical tech company creating professional video games for doctors.

Before founding Level Ex in 2015, Glassenberg worked at LucasArts and led Microsoft's advanced graphics team. Not surprisingly, he runs Level Ex like a gaming studio. Cases are designed to get harder over time, users unlock new equipment as they progress, and games are A/B tested to achieve the perfect balance of reward and frustration.

See also: Diabetes marketers turn to big data, gaming to improve outcomes

Dr. Jonathan Cohen, a gastroenterologist and a clinical professor of medicine at New York University's Langone School of Medicine, sees the promise of using such gaming to teach clinicians. Cohen took the above simulation, dubbed Gastro Ex, on a test run (Level Ex, he says, isn't well known in the gastrointestinal community). He was impressed by its ability to present complex situations in which users must weigh multiple options and make decisions in real time.

While human interaction remains the core of medical training, there's room to improve its support system, Cohen says. Traditional simulators, which can cost upwards of $100,000, are good tools for practicing mechanical skills. But games, which are cheap, engaging, and easy to disseminate, might do a better job teaching cognitive ones. When well designed, they can better equip doctors to identify abnormalities, respond to unexpected problems, and work more efficiently with team members.

Engaging with Providers

Where doctors see an opportunity to improve training, pharma companies see a potential entrée with providers. Level Ex's Airway Ex app, which features mobile games for anesthesiologists, has more than 35,000 registered users. Both Gastro Ex and Airway Ex are free to download and are built around real medical cases. Drug companies eager to expose physicians to new treatments and medical devices pay Level Ex to insert ads into existing games or to develop custom ones.

For Baxter, Level Ex created a mini game that instructs anesthesiologists how to properly dose the inhaled anesthetic Suprane. For Medtronic, it built an AR simulator that teaches doctors how to use its updated version of the laryngoscope.

“Doctors are avid learners who want to learn about new devices and treatments,” Glassenberg says.

See also: Cigna partners with Microsoft HoloLens on biometric game

He speaks from experience: The son of two physicians, his wife is a pediatrician. “I'm the black sheep of my family that never went to medical school,” he jokes. Level Ex informally started in 2012, when Glassenberg designed a training app for his dad. When the app blew up, he realized how starved physicians were for digital tools.

Level Ex isn't the only company helping pharma engage with providers through games. Klick Health built an interactive experience in VR that teaches physicians about the bonding mechanisms of a neurotransmitter receptor (users must fend off molecules by blocking them). BioLucid, which was recently acquired by Sharecare, creates interactive VR videos that help doctors teach patients about a range of conditions. Pharma companies can pay to sponsor the videos or run ads inside them. Sharecare's series on diabetes and psoriasis were sponsored by Eli Lilly brands Trulicity and Taltz, respectively.

Like Level Ex, both companies are steeped in video game culture, with developers coming from Electronic Arts, Blizzard Entertainment, and Microsoft.

Cohen believes these game-like experiences can be effective in teaching doctors how to perform rare procedures. While most gastrointestinal fellows will perform more supervised colonoscopies than required to meet competency standards, there are many opportunities for dynamic practice for less-routine surgeries.

“A machine can tell a trainee, ‘You didn't see that area very well. Go back again,'” he explains.

See also: How Can Marketers Best Unleash the Potential of Virtual Reality?

Despite the promise of these platforms as learning tools, Cohen says their job is to enhance, not replace. Medical training continues to rest on a foundation of human interaction, such as the back and forth between an experienced doctor and a trainee operating together.

Marketers' Golden Hour

Glassenberg aims for his games to mirror this exchange and provide many of the basic functions as a mentor does — for example, detailed monitoring and real-time feedback. Games are about “driving user behavior,” making them useful tools for learning and marketing.

“When you talk about the psychology of advertising, you think about the anchoring sunk-cost fallacy and using users' known cognitive biases. These principles are employed by video games,” Glassenberg notes.

He has found most Level Ex users play the game at night, when they have time to engage with the content. For marketers, this could be the golden hour, provided they find a way to slip their messages in. 

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Social Media Helps Health Officials Detect Food Poisoning Outbreaks

Social Media Helps Health Officials Detect Food Poisoning Outbreaks | Social Media and Healthcare |

Food poisoning is the last thing you want to read in a review about a restaurant on social media. Though these negative comments are not always reliable, they may help governments detect potential food poisoning outbreaks.

A team of developers at Columbia Engineering designed a computer program that hunts for complaints of food-borne illness on Yelp and Twitter.

“It picks up on keywords and key phrases that you as a person would associate with it, like 'I got sick' or 'I got food poisoning,'" said Thomas Effland, the program’s creator and a Columbia Ph.D. student.

The information goes to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which investigates the claims that may have otherwise gone undetected. According to a study, the program has helped identify 10 outbreaks.


Francisco Seco/AP

Others are using social media to search for new cases of food poisoning, such as Harvard Medical School, and health officials in Chicago and Nevada. 

Even though sharing on social media may seem helpful, Consumer Reports recommends you go through official channels to alert authorities so they can investigate immediately.

“If someone is really concerned about whether there’s an outbreak at a restaurant, they should really be consulting their local public health department,” Consumer Reports Health Editor Julia Calderone said. 


If you experience symptoms of food poisoning, Consumer Reports says you should try to stay hydrated and of course consult your doctor.

Rob Batot's curator insight, March 17, 3:16 PM
You've gotta love the checks and balances that have accompanied social media! Here's another that Sensational Seasonings is excited about.
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How Healthcare Digital Marketing Helps Doctors to Grow Their Practice 

How Healthcare Digital Marketing Helps Doctors to Grow Their Practice  | Social Media and Healthcare |


Marketing isn't just advertising because so many people believe. It is countless has a challenge. Marketing doesn’t relate to just selling of product or even services and need to do much more with techniques and campaigns apart from marketing. When someone describes healthcare marketing agency it is about a specialized marketing agency that's capable with regard to effective marketing of healthcare services. This kind of marketing was unheard expression in the past whenever clinical services were very limited on the specific place. 

Necessity of marketing regarding healthcare

The circumstance has changed over years and doctors also need aid of marketing services today. This doesn’t signify only an unbiased practicing doctor needs to marketplace his clinical services but an established medical center, medical center or hospital or perhaps a big party would also need marketing assistance to grow their business. Not merely medical providers are limited but patients’ approach is fixed. Patients must also know about common and specialised medical services in and around their whereabouts where they can approach for much better treatment and medical care. On the internet technology has developed an ease for patients to search doctors, clinics, healthcare centers, as well as hospitals on the web and book their appointment together with consultants.

Marketing is useful for medical doctors and sufferers
Online lookup has no utilize if healthcare services are not available on the web. That’s why doctors and medical solutions do sustain their internet sites and some other websites consolidate list of specialised medical services and obtainable doctors in the city. A good some medical doctors and healthcare services can be accessed about popular social media networks. All of this is possible as a result of healthcare digital marketing agencies that create a solid link between medical doctors and their individuals. Digital marketing is not only assisting doctors to cultivate their individual network but in addition facilitating sufferers to connect to medical doctors. 

Services which marketing agencies offer

Marketing agencies specializing in healthcare marketing, like healthcare marketing agencies UK play significant function in expanding practices of doctors as well as other medical services by building tweaking their internet sites. The marketing agencies also assist in Search engine optimization, SEM, e-commerce, social networking marketing, and mobile apps. More people search on their cell phones and advance of mobile apps is, therefore, extremely important part of digital marketing. Marketing agencies aid doctors to maintain their online presence and lead in their web reputation. The specialized healthcare digital marketing agencies generates campaigns for doctors as well as suggest ways to market their services. It is sort of comprehensive unique brand marketing to fit specific clinical requirements.

Exactly why to use them

Like a doctor or even clinician, marketing isn't your job and you may not be conversant with fundaments associated with marketing. Digital marketing is highly experienced job that can be performed by technology specialists within digital environment. Lots of people in your field may be making use of marketing services, however, you need to stick out in the crowd. The specific healthcare marketing agency is thus, the right means to fix bring you in standout placement.

All this is possible because of healthcare digital marketing agencies that create a strong link between doctors and their patients. Digital marketing is not only helping doctors to grow their patient network but also facilitating patients to connect to doctors.Marketing agencies specializing in healthcare marketing, like healthcare marketing agencies UK play significant role in growing practices of doctors and other medical services by building and maintaining their websites. For more details please visit healthcare digital marketing agencies.

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Medical practitioners opt for social media platforms & clinical apps to widen their knowledge base: 

Medical practitioners opt for social media platforms & clinical apps to widen their knowledge base:  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Medical practitioners currently use a variety of social media and clinical apps to further their learning and knowledge. These platforms act as enablers to help manage or engage patients effectively, said Jayesh Chauhan, chief development officer, WhiteCoats, a digital platform for doctors.

Popular categories of medical apps for medical news & journal updates, drug databases, disease protocols & guidelines are also gaining traction and user base, he added.

While there are various online solutions for appointments and consultations, WhiteCoats is one of the few platforms that allows them to communicate and collaborate within related speciality groups specialists which could be either a medical association or a hospital.

In the last 18 months, WhiteCoats helps over 50 medical societies’ across specialities to further their digital initiatives. We are continually working on strategies to engage over 1 lakh doctors on the platform to provide significant value on a daily basis, said Chauhan.

By 2020, WhiteCoats is gearing up to be a top digital platform for medical practitioners and medical communities in India, measured not just by number of doctors but in terms of the value derived by engaging with them and using the platform, he said.

The company which is funded 100% by ValueMomentum has received $500,000 with a current recurring investment of around $1 million each year. Currently its team comprises of over 40 members across product, technology, medical practitioners, and market execution teams.

Solution areas being explored for the future include Patient Engagement, and Condition Focused Remote Patient Monitoring/Care. These capabilities will be offered to individual practitioners as well as SMB clinics/hospitals on the WhiteCoats network. In addition, it will enhance the community engagement capabilities offered to medical societies hospitals and clinics.

It is reported that health-tech start-ups globally received over $13 billion of funding in the past year. Indian health-tech firms have raised over $350 million in this period with over 100 deals in this space. Hence, these patient-interface business solutions and platforms that are focused on bringing in efficiencies and effectiveness to a medical practitioner will also find its due share in terms of investments, said Chauhan.

The challenge in terms of adoption and growth for apps and digital platforms for doctors will be to continually add value, and stay relevant to the current developments. 

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How Pediatric Medical Practices Need to Use Social Media

How Pediatric Medical Practices Need to Use Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Valentine’s Day is a holiday of love that extends beyond romantic feelings. If you love your career in the medical field, use the holiday as a chance to promote your business.

Medical practices typically rely on directory listings and word of mouth to earn patients. An informative and appealing website is also a step in the right marketing direction. Social media, however, is the newest trend earning medical practices attention and patients.

A well-managed social media account will help you engage with both new and existing patients as well as keep your patients informed to important news and updates.

This post hones in on two dimensions of social media marketing: Facebook as the medium and families as your target audience. On average, 1.4 billion people log-in to Facebook every day, thus, a fair share of your patients are likely to have an account. More people use Facebook than any other social media medium, so it makes sense to start your marketing campaign there.

Whether you are a pediatrician, a pediatric dentist, orthodontist or any other pediatric medical specialist, your practice should have a business page on Facebook. This allows you to post your location and contact information, provides the opportunity for patients to “like” your page, etc. Once your page is created, the following tips will help you maximize your marketing campaign:

1. Use your Facebook page to list the hours of your practice.

Business hours, holiday schedules, snow delays and cancellations are among the most important pieces of information for your Facebook page. Having your schedule posted on Facebook allows a working parent to quickly check the times you’re available–whether they need an immediate appointment or they are trying to balance their schedule with when they can pencil in a visit. Holiday schedules are particularly difficult to remember, and parents will appreciate this easily accessible resource. Finally, school closings are also a welcome addition to your page as parents and guardians could keep the calendar handy as they schedule their children’s appointments.

2. Have your phone number posted and ready to call.

Though you hope many parents have your number saved to their phones, a readily available contact number helps grandparents, siblings, babysitters and any other caregiver access your contact information in a moment’s notice. Facebook allows you to hyperlink the phone number for mobile devices, thus, a brief click would put worried or frazzled caregivers in immediate contact with you.

3. Post pictures of you and your staff in action.

If you run a medical practice that cares for children, you probably decorate your office and dress in holiday gear for the many occasions that excite children. Make your practice seem more inviting to potential patients by showing off your enthusiasm for the events that make the little ones smile.

Similarly, if your practice participates in community fundraisers or sponsors events, be sure to post images of these occurrences, as well. Here, you can draw attention to noteworthy charity functions as well as emphasize your involvement in the community.

4. Give your patients a chance to shine.

Turn unpleasant doctor visits into bragging rights for your patients. With parental and child permission, take photos of the brave youngsters who had shots, had teeth pulled, broke a bone, etc. By occasionally posting a “superstar” of the month or week, your patients will have a bit more of a rosy attitude in painful endeavors. Chances are, family members will share whatever post their child is in, thus earning your medical practice publicity to whoever sees the image.

5. Highlight important medical news and information.

Facebook is a quick way to send reminders and news alerts to your patients’ families in ways they are likely to see. Remind parents to schedule physicals or teeth cleanings. Alert families if there is a high occurrence of strep throat or other illness. Provide a list of flu symptoms. The possibilities are endless, and your patients will appreciate your medical guidance.

6. Share your blog posts on Facebook.

Digital marketing experts often discuss the benefits of having a blog for SEO purposes and for keeping you website patient-friendly. Whether you or a content writer created the content, use social media to promote the post. If it’s a worthwhile read, patients may share the post and earn you further publicity. Lastly, an informative post will draw attention to your medical expertise.

7. Remember that your Facebook page is an extension of your web page, not a substitute.

Your Facebook page will earn you publicity and engagement with your patients, but it is not a substitute for a well-run medical website. Whatever updates you make to Facebook, you can also make to your site. Thus, you’ll have optimized information sources for organic searches and social media followers.

Proper maintenance of your website and social media accounts is an undeniably time-consuming task. By hiring a digital marketing firm, you can focus on your patients’ well-being while the firm helps maintain and create digital relationships.

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Could a pharma company shun sales reps and be successful?

Could a pharma company shun sales reps and be successful? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Could there be a pharma, healthcare or life sciences company that decides to shun sales representatives?

Matt Lowe, pharma agency veteran and founder (just this week) of healthtech agency, believes that such a company, relying heavily on search and performance marketing, may be a possiblity in the next few years (albeit once somebody has the courage to take the leap).

I spoke to Lowe about what he has seen across pharma and healthcare marketing, and the skills that are currently lacking in the industry. He painted a picture of pharma companies that are "certainly patient centric, they just don’t always behave like it online." 

B2B and B2C are blurring

"The healthcare and life sciences industry needs to understand, I believe, that doctors are consumers like anyone else, and so are patients and carers and nurses and pharmacists," says Lowe.

He adds that though most people's first point of contact when looking for medical advice is a search engine [62% of UK patients], "currently pharma has this decentralised model - a plan gets handed out and it’s very much based on sales force and market access – understandably, because that model has delivered significant returns for many, many years."

Such an approach has to change if pharma is to keep up with agile tech companies. Lowe mentions Amazon and JPMorgan Chase, saying "they have digital woven into the fabric of how they operate - pharma doesn’t, so trying to be agile and define how it engages with audiences is going to be a slow process."

Patient-focused content will impact the bottom line

The process of building website infrastructure and online content is one where Lowe sees a breakdown in patient focus – he describes websites as "built based on the ambition, critical success factors, brand and strategic imperatives of the pharma company," but adding that "patients don't care about any of those things. They care about solutions when they need it most, whether it’s a stubbed toe or multiple myeloma."

"For the companies that have the most data on these solutions, the way they use that data is really bad. I get asked sometimes - ‘Do people want information from a big pharma company?’ - and I genuinely think people don’t care where the information comes from, if it’s well balanced, useful, relieves anxiety, or helps with the next best step."

This sort of content often benefits communities dealing with a particular condition, such as diabetes or cardiovascular problems, but Lowe asserts that the value of this approach for pharma also impacts on harder metrics, not just the softer ones.

"From a financial aspect," he says, "if people are better controlled then concordance is better (compliance, persistence, adherence) people stay on drugs longer, there's more effective up-titrating and it affects the P&L very positively."

Analytics and planning skills are lacking, for now

Pharma is stereotyped as being a laggard in some areas of digital. Though this is perhaps too easy an assumption to make, Lowe characterises the typical campaign or website build involving perhaps "a social listening exercise, maybe a keyword planner" but not truly understanding "insights informed infrastructure".

According to Lowe, marketers need to look at a slew of search and behavioural data and decide "what to avoid, what is useful based on semantic search behaviours, what kind of content is engaged with, on which platforms, with what frequency, and in which formats."

This type of activity will help set "domain strategy, url taxonomy, site structure, and onsite and offsite keywords", but according to Lowe the industry needs to recruit better skills in technology such as "tag management, advanced analytics, Google search console etc." 

Pharma needs to join the dots with performance marketing

Once campaigns and content are live, the next task is optimisation of performance marketing. Again, knowing how to track users and understand the success of content is key.

Lowe gives the example of event tracking, such as how many doctors are watching videos on up-titration of a complex medicine, or tracking consumers downloading a helpful PDF. Combining event tracking with acquistion through social media, and landing page optimisation is the kind of marketing industry standard conversion funnel that pharma needs to properly implement.

In order to do this, says Lowe, "investment in new people, new behaviours and new skills" is needed.

The rest of the world isn’t standing still

Many of these techniques of performance marketing are fairly well established now, but pharma marketers shouldn't be complacent and think that bringing their capability up to standard will be simple. Tech continues to evolve, with innovation such as blockchain creeping into paid media.

As ever, digital transformation is a journey, not an endpoint. Whether pharma needs its sales reps or not, the skillset for pharma marketers is changing.

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Social Media HIPAA Compliance

Social Media HIPAA Compliance | Social Media and Healthcare |

The amount of time people spend on social media is constantly increasing. On average, a person spends more than two hours a day on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and many other social media sites. Our world has become more social, and we value being in touch with friends near and far at the tap of a finger.

Chances are you and your colleagues have an account on at least one social media platform. If used appropriately, social media helps us stay connected, share experiences and important information with our followers, and explore new interests. But we each have our own personal preferences around sharing. Some like to journal their day for all to see, while others may be more private and selective in their posts.

In our professional lives, we often come across well-intentioned posts that have unintended consequences. Consider the recent post by ER nurse Katherine Smith Lockler that went viral. Her intention was to educate people about staying out of the ER if they have minor flu symptoms and to encourage handwashing, but that’s not how it turned out.

With over 9 million views, nurse Lockler became an Internet sensation, albeit with mixed reviews. Some nurses applauded her for her honesty and good intentions, while others felt her post had an unprofessional tone and may even have violated HIPAA privacy regulations. If such allegations are found to be true, nurse Lockler could face disciplinary action by the board of nursing, including a reprimand or sanction, assessment of a monetary fine, or temporary or permanent loss of her nursing license.
This example, along with many others, leads to the questions: "What is okay to post?" and "How can I share important information without violating anybody’s rights?" Sometimes, it is a very thin line between what’s okay and what’s not. So, when in doubt, do not post!

A Quick Overview of HIPAA

HIPAA is an acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Passed in 1996, HIPAA is a federal law that sets a national standard to protect medical records and other personal health information. The rule defines "protected health information" as health information that:

  • Identifies an individual and
  • Is maintained or exchanged electronically or in hard copy

Information with any components that could be used to identify a person is protected. The protection stays with the information as long as the information is in the hands of a covered entity or business associate. HIPAA protections apply to individually identifiable information in any form, electronic or nonelectronic. The paper progeny of electronic information is also covered (i.e., the information does not lose its protections simply because it is printed out of a computer), as are oral communications.

Be Social, and Respect HIPAA!

Infringing on a patient’s privacy on social media can be extremely easy, even if we don’t intend to do so. Improper use of social media by nurses and other healthcare professionals may violate state and federal laws—such as HIPAA—established to protect patient privacy and confidentiality. Such violations may result in both civil and criminal penalties, including fines and possible jail time.

Here are our Do’s and Don’t’s in regard to posting on social media:


  • Know your workplace/facility social media policy
    We can’t stress this enough. Your workplace will have policies to ensure compliance with HIPAA. There may be additional restrictions on social media usage and posting for all employees. Make sure you know your workplace’s rules and follow them strictly.
    In one real-life example, several nurses who work together in a hospital emergency department were fired for discussing patients on a social media site. Even though they did not post any identifying information, they still violated the hospital's policies.
  • Get patient permission in writing.
    Maybe you think that posting something about a patient’s situation or outcome may benefit a broader audience. What better way could there be than to educate your network by sharing that valuable experience on social media? Before you do so, be sure to get the patient’s permission in writing in order to prevent any consequences due to violating the patient’s rights. (And don’t forget to confirm that such a posting complies with your facility’s policies.)
  • Use a designated social media manager.
    If you are posting on behalf of your workplace, make sure you follow all your employer’s rules and policies. It’s also best to know whether your workplace has a designated social media manager whose job it is to make posts on behalf of the facility.


  • Don’t post patient information or case details.
    Although this seems obvious, we sometimes don’t realize that patients may be identified accidentally in social media posts that include information about their cases, even if their names are not posted. Such a breach of confidentiality can lead to serious consequences, including termination for nurses and other healthcare professionals.
    In another real-life example, a nurse who treated an accused killer posted on Facebook that she had come face-to-face with evil and hoped that the alleged “cop-killer” would rot in hell. Although the nurse had not stated any specific details about the patient, the circumstances of the patient's injury and concurrent media coverage made him easily identifiable. A few days later, the nurse was fired for her unprofessional behavior.
  • Don’t believe a post is ever truly private or can be fully deleted.
    Once you post anything online, it will live forever! Even if you delete a post, it may have already been shared, saved, copied, downloaded, etc. There are endless possibilities of what happens once any content is posted publicly. Maybe a screenshot will be forwarded directly to your boss by one of your “friends”!
  • Don’t give blanket medical advice.
    While it is okay to post, for example, about the importance of handwashing, stay away from any blanket medical advice, including medication use, dosages, etc. Instead, refer your readers to a reputable source that provides evidence-based information about your topic, or recommend people make an appointment with their own primary care provider. Remember, addressing healthcare questions on social media may violate HIPAA rules.

Consider these Do’s and Don’t’s before posting on any social media platform. Maintaining one’s professionalism and respecting everyone’s privacy is critical for all nurses and other healthcare practitioners. And when in doubt about your posting, remember the adage “Better safe than sorry!”
Let’s all keep the realm of social media fun—and HIPAA-compliant—for all!

About Wild Iris Medical Education:

Wild Iris Medical Education, Inc., is a privately held, woman-owned company providing online healthcare continuing education since 1998. We offer online ANCC-accredited nursing continuing education courses, including CEUs for nursing case managers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, paramedics, EMTs, and other healthcare professionals.

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Managing your online presence simply, economically

Managing your online presence simply, economically | Social Media and Healthcare |

Blogs and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube may help physicians not only expand the reach of their practice but also influence online conversations with their own perspectives. It helps, though, to have clear goals in mind before you begin, said Kevin Pho, MD, ACP Member, an internist and founder ofKevinMD, an influential health care blog and social media outlet online at He offered physicians a succinct piece of advice: “Don't just go on social media for the sake of using social media.”

Dr. Pho said that social media can empower physicians in three ways. “There's a lot of bad information online. You can go online and direct people to a reputable source, or you can be that source,” he said. “Second, if physicians don't define themselves, they will be defined by a physician ratings site, and they may not like what comes up. The third is to make their voices heard, especially when it comes to the ways in which health care is changing.”

The benefits of building an online presence outweigh the risks, as long as there is a thoughtful approach. Image by iStock

The key to optimizing social media tools, in a nutshell, is determining what to say and how to say it, said Ira Nash, MD, FACP, senior vice president and executive director of Northwell Health Physician Partners in the New York City area and founder of “Auscultation,” a Northwell-hosted blog.

“Start by exploring what you are trying to accomplish, and those goals should drive what tools you use,” he said.

Audience is also an important consideration, Dr. Nash said, with the two primary choices for physicians being patients or other health care professionals.

“I think it could go either way [patient or physician], but it's hard to sustain both,” he said. “I got into online health because I wanted to start a new channel of communication among physicians in our medical group. … There [also] are people who are posting around a clinical area in hopes of burnishing their credentials and expanding their practice, and that's a different activity.”

Drawbacks, solutions

Social media takes time, a scarce and precious resource for physicians. But the number of hours spent is less important than sustaining a given channel or platform—on whatever schedule is feasible—after it launches.

Dr. Pho acknowledged that his part-time clinical practice and the 20 to 40 hours a week he spends on social media—not to mention his 3 million monthly blog pageviews—make him an outlier, but he said a one-time investment of a few hours can be more than enough to create a viable online presence.

“You need a certain amount of consistency,” Dr. Pho said. “A lot of people go gangbusters at first and then peter out after a few months. Create a schedule you can maintain for at least the first eight to 12 months. You do need some time, but it could be every day, every week, or every month.”

Starting a social media channel only to eventually neglect or abandon it can do more harm than never starting one in the first place. A 2016 report from Sprout Social, a social media management and advocacy firm, found that 89% of social messages go unanswered, which in turn can lead users to choose a competitor or even publicly shame the account.

“All of us hate to go to a site and see it's last been updated six months ago or a year ago,” Dr. Nash said. “Why would you go back there?”

Once you start an account or accounts, it's important to actively monitor them to continue to manage your reputation, said Thomas Savides, MD, chief experience officer for UC San Diego Health.

“You can respond to messages with a positive acknowledgement; ‘Thank you for your comment,’” he said. “Or you can say ‘I'm sorry for your experience. Let's find a time to talk offline.’”

Another concern is return on investment. Even as social media spending is expected to reach 20.9% of the average marketing budget by 2021, only 11.5% of businesses can demonstrate the impact of that spending, and only 3.4% of marketing leaders said social media contributes very highly to their firm's overall performance, according to the 2016 CMO Survey, a biannual survey of chief marketing officers across 13 industries cosponsored by the American Marketing Association, Deloitte, and Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

At the same time, more patients now use the internet to “shop” for clinicians who fit their needs. A 2012 PricewaterhouseCoopers report found that 41% of 1,090 U.S. adults who responded to a consumer survey used social media to help them select a doctor, hospital, or medical facility.

As Dr. Nash's blog, Auscultations, gained prominence, the resulting visibility did not cause a noticeable uptick in patients, but he believes it did help establish him as a voice in the health care discourse.

“A number of my posts got picked up by people with a larger reach,” Dr. Nash said. “If your goal is to create some credentials as a thought leader, it's important to be using social media.”

The most widespread deterrent among physicians considering social media may be privacy concerns, particularly those related to potentially violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

“Any kind of demographic information, whether it's age, sex, location, certainly name, should not be used,” said ACP Resident/Fellow Member Ravi Parikh, MD, MPP, a social media expert. “You'd want to stay away from a diagnosis if it was rare. Focus on the condition or the treatment rather than the patients themselves.”

Simply put, Dr. Pho advised, “Don't say anything you wouldn't say in a crowded hospital elevator.”

Hiring a firm vs. DIY

Many marketing firms cater to physicians and can execute full-service online marketing campaigns. Costs of such campaigns vary based on the size of the practice, the vendor selected for the job, and the desired components or objectives of a campaign (for example, some might include online ad buys or the creation of a website, while others might include only social media).

According to marketing data publicly posted online at the websites of online marketing providers, some vendor agreements can range from $1,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars per month. (One-time setup costs for developing new items like websites may also apply.) Social media alone can range from $1,000 to $20,000 per month. Other vendors charge a percentage of a client's annual budget, which generally ranges from about 2% to 12%.

Evan Meyers, a business development representative with Docero, a New York-based physician marketing firm, said his firm not only helps design a campaign but provides metrics on its effectiveness. The campaigns are mainly geared toward physicians looking to bring new patients into a practice, he said.

Mr. Meyers said, “Proper campaign performance reporting tracks how many people have visited the physician's website, what brought the person to the website, and how many of those website visitors filled out an appointment form and became a new patient for the practice.”

At the same time, independently creating an effective online presence can defray the costs of or need for such a campaign. Tools like blogs and social media are free or very inexpensive to develop. “The technical side is pretty simple, unless you're [completely inexperienced],” Dr. Nash said. “It's very easy to go out and set up your own blog or social media account. The hard part is sustainability.”

“If [physicians] are not interested in doing it themselves, and they want to hire someone, that's fine,” Dr. Pho said. “But if you spend the time to figure out what you want to do, if you understand the different channels, that's what [firms] are going to do anyway. Plus, you lose voice and authenticity when you don't do the content yourself, and patients can see that.”

Navigating the space

Another benefit of a strong online presence is that it can help physicians compete with ratings sites in search engine results. Physicians are frequently frustrated by independent websites that allow users to critique or “grade” their doctor-patient experiences. Many reviews tend to fall on the extreme ends of the spectrum, presenting a misleading picture of a practice, experts said.

“The number of physician rating websites is high,” said Dr. Parikh. “When it comes to hospitals there are valid metrics, but with individual physicians there's not a good way to find out who's saying what and trust it. People who review either had a very good experience or a very bad experience. There's not a lot of volume or a good sample size.”

Although it is possible to dispute a rating or review, it can be challenging, experts said, with each site having different rules for amending or retracting user content. But if you cultivate your own online presence and offer details online about yourself and your practice, that information will compete with any negative reviews in search results, said Dr. Savides.

Dr. Pho recommends starting with LinkedIn, the all-purpose network for professionals, and Doximity, a similar network catering to health care professionals. After Dr. Nash writes a blog post, he shares it on Twitter and LinkedIn. And following others on social media is a big part of its value, said Dr. Parikh.

“It probably enables a greater amount of science and practical information being shared online,” he said. “Leading publications publish snippets of articles [on social media], and following them is a good way to stay up to date.”

It is no secret that arguments, sometimes heated, can break out online. Be prepared for the inevitable criticism, and be thoughtful about when and how to weigh in on specific topics, Dr. Pho said.

“Everyone understands the highly politicized nature of health care,” Dr. Pho said. “There are lots of opinions, and you'll get into arguments, especially on Twitter. Go in with your eyes open. Are you able to engage in healthy debate online?”

Ultimately, physicians who have successfully used social media argue, the benefits of building an online presence outweigh the risks, as long as there is a thoughtful approach.

“There's this tremendous power in social media and tremendous interest in using it—enhancing your public profile, branding yourself as a disease- or technique-specific expert,” Dr. Parikh said. “For all its downside, it has much more promise. Think about how social media could help your practice, rather than automatically straying away from it.”

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Building a Facebook Ad for Clinical Trials: A Practical, Step-by-Step Guide

Building a Facebook Ad for Clinical Trials: A Practical, Step-by-Step Guide | Social Media and Healthcare |

It’s no secret that Facebook is a powerful clinical trial recruitment engine — here’s what you need to know to design and launch your first campaign.

In recent years, Facebook has emerged as one of the most effective channels for clinical trial marketing and patient recruitment. Thanks to the social network’s astonishingly large reach and powerful targeting tools, clinical trials can reach an unprecedented number of potential patients in an incredibly time- and cost-efficient manner.

But if you’re new to Facebook’s advertising platform, you might need a little help getting started. While designing, launching, and managing multi-site recruitment campaigns requires a great deal of expertise and technical know-how, having a general sense of how the platform works can be incredibly helpful when discussing campaigns with your digital advertising team or vendor. We’ve put together a basic overview of the first five steps that are involved in setting up a new Facebook recruitment campaign.

1. Identify your goals

Every ad campaign needs a solid list of goals and objectives behind it, and Facebook is no exception. In order to ensure optimal outcomes, it’s best to have a solid definition of what success looks like at the outset.

Facebook lays out three categories for campaign goals: awareness, consideration, and conversion. Each of these goals are designed to help you appropriately target users as they reach different stages of their path to treatment. Depending on the scope and objectives of your trial, they may or may not be applicable.

The majority of active clinical trials will opt for conversion, which will enable you to track your success (and spend your budget) on qualified online referrals, rather than impressions or on-platform social actions.

2. Define your audience

Once you’ve chosen the objective of your campaign, the next step is defining your target audience. Let’s say you’re trying to reach early-stage Alzheimer’s patients and generate qualification appointments for an investigator site in Los Angeles, CA. How will you set your targeting parameters?

In this case, you know that the user location should be limited to Los Angeles. There’s a chance that early-stage Alzheimer’s patients will be looking for treatment information, but it will likely be their children or other members of their family who are ultimately making treatment decisions on their behalf. You’ll want to set the age of your audience to 35 and above in order to avoid paying for unwanted clicks being made by users who are too young, meaning they won’t likely be the one’s making those decisions.

Facebook’s Audience Insights feature can help clinical trials get even more granular, identifying interest areas and demographic data. By using this tool, the example Alzheimer’s trial can target people who have joined specific Alzheimer’s-related interest groups, or even determine the age and gender breakdown of their audience.

3. Decide where to run the ad

After you’ve narrowed your audience down, you need to decide where to run your ads. Clinical trials aren’t necessarily limited to Facebook’s platform — they can also display on Facebook-owned properties like Messenger and Instagram, which are great for reaching younger audiences, and on other properties within the Facebook Audience Network.

Whether trials take advantage of these features depends on the audience they’re trying to target. If you know that potential patients are heavy mobile users, Messenger and Instagram might make sense. If not, you might want to stick with the Facebook platform.

4. Set your budget

At this point, you’re probably wondering about the costs. Fortunately, Facebook makes it easy to control spending, allowing you to choose how much you want to spend overall, or defining how much you’re willing to pay per action. In addition, you can set limits on the daily or total spend, ensuring you don’t exceed your total marketing budget or blow through it in a matter of days.

However, the actual cost of an individual ad will highly depend on how valuable the viewer is, when and where the ad is placed, and a number of other factors. Our philosophy: don’t pay too much attention to each ad on its own, and focus instead on the bigger picture.

5. Design your ad

The last step before you publish is to design the ad for your clinical trial. Facebook allows you to choose from a number of ad formats, including photo, video, and carousel styles. The platform also has a special “lead” format to encourage users to click through, a feature that’s particularly useful in helping drive traffic to localized microsites and online screeners for further qualification.

When crafting your ads messaging and visual layout, you’ll need to take measures to ensure full IRB, FDA, and Facebook compliance. The good news is that once your ads are approved, you can turn them on and off, or scale your budget as needed, making it possible to keep things as cost efficient as possible.

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