Social Media and Healthcare
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3 Compelling Reasons Why You Can No Longer Afford to Ignore Google+

3 Compelling Reasons Why You Can No Longer Afford to Ignore Google+ | Social Media and Healthcare |

Why should you use Google+?There are lots of good reasons to pay attention to Google+, but for me it comes down to these three:

Search is becoming socialGoogle+ Authorship is becoming a filter for quality contentGoogle+ has the best user experience of any social network
Visit the link to find additional insights, resource links, and useful Google+ information.

Via Lauren Moss, malek
Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, November 14, 2013 5:00 PM

Protecting content and getting benefits of authorship become more important. Here's some good information.

Hanin Abu Al Rub's curator insight, November 18, 2013 2:56 AM

I believe so...

Jim Doyle's curator insight, December 6, 2013 1:13 AM
3 Compelling Reasons Why You Can No Longer Afford to Ignore Google+
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.
Curated by nrip
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Social Media Implementation Checklist

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
Nice post
Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
#Formdox integrates perfectly with several #functionalities for the monitoring
cctopbuilders's comment, April 26, 6:01 AM
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To Tweet or Not to Tweet…. Considerations For Using Twitter | 

To Tweet or Not to Tweet…. Considerations For Using Twitter |  | Social Media and Healthcare |

To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question! Knowing whether it be nobler in your mind to utilize social media such as Twitter or not to, is up to your organization to decide. With Twitter growing in popularity it is no wonder why so many organizations are deciding to utilize it’s benefits to promote their agendas.

For those unaware of what Twitter is, it is an online social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to interact with posts, called “tweets”. Tweets can be posted with using text, with a 280-character limit, with or without an accompanying image and/or a short video included. Twitter continues to maintain its popularity – in the second quarter of 2018 Twitter averaged 335 million monthly active users!   When used correctly, Twitter is a powerful communication and marketing mechanism that has the capability of reaching others quickly.

The Benefits of Twitter

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), addresses the benefits of Twitter as part of their HHS Twitter Guidance. According to HHS, Twitter has several benefits, including:

  • Information can be disseminated very quickly.
  • Broad reach potential – a vast “network or networks.”
  • Targeted reach potential – a growing number of groups on Twitter, including social marketing, health disparities, and health IT.
  • Collaboration – professionals are using Twitter to network, build relationships, etc.
  • Continued growth as a conversation mechanism.

Do’s and Don’ts when using Twitter

Do use Twitter if the stakeholders you are trying to reach utilize Twitter.

Don’t use Twitter if you lack the resources to manage the Twitter account, such as reading monitoring, posting, or re-posting of tweets.

Do use Twitter to connect with others by answering and asking questions.

Don’t use Twitter to discuss treatment with patients. For example, if patient asks about a condition he or she is experiencing.

Do use Twitter to share information about services you provide in your practice and information relevant to those services.

Don’t include protected health information (PHI) on Twitter unless you have been authorized to do so.

Do use Twitter if you would like to share time-sensitive updates about your practices that you would like to announce.

Don’t use Twitter as a static website. As HHS puts it, “Nobody likes spam or self-promotion.”

Now more than ever before, social medial in commonplace in the healthcare industry. Twitter allows us the ability to instantaneously connect with others at the use of the button. As long as Twitter is used correctly, in a HIPAA compliant manner, it is a powerful tool for healthcare organizations to have a strong social media presence.

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A Technical Framework for Rigorous Health Communication Research in the social media era…

Presented on September 12th, 2018 at the 2018 National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media in Atlanta, GA.
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How Can Content Marketing Help Your Healthcare Company?

How Can Content Marketing Help Your Healthcare Company? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Recently google found that one in every 20 searches were for health-related information. So how come your healthcare business hasn’t been using the power of content marketing?

If you are already using content marketing as part of your strategy, I will help you with some additional tips and tactics that can take your strategy to the next level. The healthcare space is much different than most industries when it comes to content marketing due to the laws associated with HIPAA.

A lot of the same tactics that you will be using in either the real estate industry, the banking industry, the construction industry and someone doesn’t apply to the healthcare industry due to the strict restrictions. However, there are still many ways that we can use the power of content to educate searchers and also grow our brand.

Why Content Marketing is Important for Healthcare Companies

Over 77% of patients use search engines before booking their appointments at the hospital. With this stat, we really need to optimize our site for the search engines, I’ll providing the best user experience and information to our users.

There are a lot of search engine optimization tactics that we need to be aware of to make our site more visible to the public. The first thing we want to do is understand how our searchers are using the search engine. Are they looking up Certain procedures? Are they trying to find what is wrong with them and what medicine is usually prescribed? Are they looking for which doctors in their area specialize in a certain field?

There are a bunch of great ways to understand how our users are using the search engines, and with a better understanding of this we can optimize our content to help these people.

How to Provide Your Audience With What They Are Looking For

1. Do Keyword Research

Do keyword research to determine what the best way to help answer these questions are. You should have a lot of frequently asked questions from former patients or customers that are a great starting point in helping you develop content that will bring more people onto your website.

It is really important to be answering these type of questions to show potential patients are customers that you are really in authority of the medical space, and a place that they can go for answers.

If 77% of these patients are using the search engines why would we not be putting all of our efforts into optimizing our reach on Google?

2. Answer Questions Your Audience is Asking

It’s also important that we really focus on helping a wide variety of questions, but we want to be spending the majority of our time being the absolute leader in whatever our specialty is.

Say a dermatology department puts out two pieces of content every week. There’s going to be a lot of times where you want to talk about best practices for keeping your skin healthy or possibly doing recommendations between certain products that keep you pimple free.

However, if your department mainly focuses on say skin rashes, then you really want to be the number one result at least locally on your specific skin rash treatment or care.

This means that you want to have every single question covered Regarding skin rashes that your patient could possibly think of. This shows that yes you can help them in a wide array of areas for dermatology but you are the absolute only person they should go to when it comes to skin rashes because you are the industry leader.

3. Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader

With all of the companies jockeying for position in the healthcare industry, we really need to find those one or two places to be able to stand above the pack. Using our specialty is a great way to do this.

Another way to stand out is by being extremely transparent. And a recent study that I was reading it showed that millennials care more than anything about the company they work with being transparent.

This can mean a lot of different things but really you just want to be upfront with who you are and what you do and who you can help. Some tactics you can use are the following.

You should go back to the beginning of your company and tell a little bit about how and why you guys got started. Let people know who you were trying to help when you set out on this mission in the healthcare industry.

Maybe you had a family member with a certain illness when you were a child and all your life you just wanted to help other people with the same illness. Something like this will really connect you to potential readers and show you as a much more compassionate brand.

4. Tell Your Story

Not only this but it’s much easier to go to a company or work with someone when you feel they are doing it for a common good, then if they were just out to try to make some money. A lot of folks have misconceptions about the healthcare industry so really just tell your story to be honest and try to connect with them.

Another option you have is to show off some of your team members. If you are a hospital do a little background on all of your staff, your doctors, nurses, those women at the front desk. It’s all for the same reason. We want to stand out, be transparent, and have patients feel like they already know us before they even step into our place of work.

I recently walked into a doctors office and in the waiting room, the hallways, and even inside the patient room, there were posters telling you to like the hospital on Facebook. I love seeing companies engage in this way and really embrace social media‘s impact on today’s society.

5. Leverage the Power of Social Media 

It’s actually been shown that 41% of patients say social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor hospital or medical facility. Knowing that you really can’t afford to not be aggressively pursuing social media as a means to connecting with your customers and patients.

If people are trusting in connecting with brands through social media you really need to take a step back and see what you need to do as a business owner or marketer to really have a presence on social and engage with patients.

There are many ways that we can use content marketing in the healthcare industry to still get our brand out there, and help people. I know that there are a lot of restrictions in this industry that not everyone has to deal with, but they are easy to get around and we can still move forward with a great marketing strategy that helps build your brand.

Important Factors for Effective Healthcare Content Marketing

When it comes to implementing and leveraging the power of content marketing in your healthcare company, you need to remember some key elements of any successful content marketing strategy.

1. Maintain Consistency With Your Content

We’ve all been to those websites that have a blog, with one to five posts on them that are scattered throughout the years, and ultimately have random subjects that they discuss.

A content marketing strategy needs to be consistent, both in terms of the content that you are producing, and how often you are producing it.

If you cannot commit to a multi-weekly, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly posting of content to your site, you will likely never gain the traction necessary to boost your online presence.  There is no substitute for consistency in this game. Over time this consistency really builds up, like a snowball rolling down a hill.

It can be easy to get discouraged at first when your efforts do not seem to make that much of a difference in terms of traffic, but over time, it is one of the main factors contributing to generating traffic.  A one week break can cause months of progress to be lost overnight, and equally, take months to gain back.

2. Produce High-Quality Content 

It sounds obvious, but I cannot tell you how many clients I speak to who stress the fact that they “already have a content marketing strategy in place”.  Sure, posting a  few blogs a week is great, but if they are low-quality content that brings no value to your customer, they will not succeed.

You want to answer real questions that your customers have, and do your best to truly understand what it is that they are looking for. Just throwing up a 600-word blog post each week that glazes over a few topics and offer a clickbait title is not going to build your brand.

High-quality content is usually anywhere from 1,200+ words and covers a comprehensive list of commonly asked questions regarding the topic at hand. Professional insights are given, and unique statistics and viewpoints are offered.

3. Develop a Unique Voice in Your Space

If you are just echoing what other influencers in your space are saying, while you may be bringing forth good points and still educating people, you will likely not set yourself apart from the competition.

You want to find your brands voice, and really try to imbue it into all of your content marketing efforts moving forward.  It is okay to be somewhat polarizing.  If you are trying to please everyone, not only will you never accomplish this, you will also likely lose the fans that you do have along the way because you have no backbone.

4. Find the Channels That Your Audience Hangs Out On

So many business owners try to appeal to their audience on every single social media platform known to man.

It makes me cringe when I go to a website and they have links to about 30 social media platforms, 12 of which even I have never heard of as an internet marketer.

Yeah, it’s great to give your audience a lot of options to follow you, but ultimately, if you are a fitness guru or someone promoting homeopathic medicine, there are a few super relevant channels to you and your audience, and the rest just fall short.

Ultimately, try to stick to about 2 or 3 channels where your audience hangs out the most, and strengthen these before even considering hopping into another one. Usually, for B2C companies in the healthcare space, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are the top 3.  This can be said for most industries. For B2B, LinkedIn is the obvious choice.

Master these, and then if you feel the need to move on, do so with caution and without forgetting about the channels that have the core of your audience on them.

Content Marketing for Healthcare Companies – Wrapping Things Up 

Ultimately, content marketing is not as easy as just combining all of these elements and rolling the dice.  You need to have a pinpoint understanding of what your audience is looking for, what your competitors are providing them with, what you are providing them with, the difference between the two, and why customers should choose you over them.

From here, you want to spend as much time as possible obsessing over what your audience is asking. Find the places they hang out online and spend some time getting to know them and their common problems.

Then, craft a strategy that works towards establishing yourself as a thought leader on how to go about solving these problems. Maintain consistency and quality, and eventually, with enough hard work, you will get where you want to be through the implementation of an effective content marketing strategy.

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Using social media in medicine to your advantage, with care! - 

Using social media in medicine to your advantage, with care! -  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is beginning to change the way that medicine is practiced. It has the power to engage people in public health and policy discussions, establish professional networks and facilitate patients’ access to information about health and services. In this third and final blog post on social media in anesthesiology and critical care, the authors explain why social media is now such a key resource for physicians and offer advice on how to use it as safely and effectively as possible. 

Part 1: Social media in critical care: what’s all the fuss about? 
Part 2: Free Open Access Medical education (FOAM): the new way to keep up-to-date

Personal learning networks, remote learning and early access

Free Open Access Medical education (FOAM) has the power to facilitate global conversations about the latest medical practice and literature. It allows anyone to follow conferences remotely (but in real time), helps users develop professional networks and friendships and can consolidate information with colleagues at home and abroad. There are enumerate conferences and symposia to choose from these days, and that choice often becomes impossible due to the sheer diversity. Following attendees using meeting hashtags permits in real-time remote access to the meeting, viewed through their interest / opinion spectrum.

Such networks can permit parallel learning and discussion, for example with the running of remote journal clubs. Many major journals open up 1-2 hour long windows for free and unimpaired discussion of soon to be released papers, in order to scope responses from like minds prior to final peer review and release.

New and un-published innovations, upcoming trial ideas and recruitment to studies are often showcased. Innovative safety ideas and discussions thereon can often open doors to new and exciting practices, many promoting patient safety.

Appraisals, records and continuing medical education (CME)

With many of us now increasingly learning from blogs and podcasts, it is important to reference these resources for the purpose of appraisals. The problem is how best to record this activity. Some methods include the use of IFTTT or “If This Then That”. This is a web service that aggregates many other web apps into one place and can perform actions given a certain set of criteria. All you need to do is create your recipe and let it store all of your SoMe activity on Twitter and Facebook for you. Other more specific resources include an online zone for Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI) members that host a wealth of educational, learning and CPD resources. Here you can learn in your own time and keep a record of your completed CPD for use in appraisals and revalidation.

Policing, etiquette & caution

The Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCOA) in the UK encourages the use of SoMe and in its guidance states that SoMe use by doctors can benefit patient care, enhance learning and strengthen professional relationships. SoMe facilitates networking by linking like-minded people through tweets at conferences and meetings, and has enhanced communication between and within trainee research groups. As an educational resource, it encourages the use of open access journals (#FOAMed) and time-limited free access to articles in subscribed journals (Anesthesia journal free for a day articles, #FFAD) to further distribute new information.

Like any tool, there are risks and consequences of using SoMe. Communication and rapid dissemination of new information allows almost instantaneous access to the results of new trials, and allows for critical discussion when the information is fresh and without any traditional peer review process. Clearly, we need to be mindful that any information can be misinterpreted or distorted, especially when subjected to multiple layers of filtering through the SoMe channels (a broken telephone effect) and the unchecked dissemination of distorted information (grey evidence). Often, it can take some time to sift the so called, ‘wheat from the chaff’ and learn the patterns of ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’.

The General Medical Council (GMC) has issued specific guidance relating to the use of social media by doctors, stating that “the standards expected of doctors do not change because they are communicating through social media rather than face to face or through other traditional media”. It must be considered that if one is to place a message out into the vapor of SoMe, it should be done with exactly the same degree of caution, candor and humility one would exercise when orating it in person from a conference stage to friends, patients and strangers in the crowd. Disappearing behind a username should not be an excuse to abuse the privileged of freedom of speech, or indeed the privileged position of a medical professional.

More detailed guidance has been written as a collaborative publication of Australasian groups of doctors in training, illustrating the application of professional standards with examples both fictional and based on previous cases. Other guidance has been issued by the Medical Defence/Indemnity organisations and professional organisations.


The sheer volume of new medical knowledge and publications makes it nearly impossible to keep up to date with everything. Just 60 years ago, the answer would have been simple:

“All that is required is the current issue of The Journal, an easy chair, pencils, a pad of paper and postal cards, along with a genuine, sustaining interest in all fields of medicine”, N Flaxman, 1954

“If physicians would read two articles per day out of the six million medical articles published annually they would fall 82 centuries behind with their reading” – WF Miser, 1999

There are an estimated 6000 papers published every day at present, thus keeping up with recent and relevant advances in medicine is an enormous challenge. SoMe, when used correctly, can be an effective way of optimizing opportunities for self-directed learning, holding discussions with other health care professionals (commonly including the principal authors of landmark studies) and reflecting on newly-acquired knowledge. It is possible to document these learning experiences for your personal record and as evidence for appraisals and revalidation. There is a certain addictive appeal in having the power to consult such resources so readily and in such a structured fashion.

The growth of SoMe as a tool for improving access to medical education resources has been astronomical over recent years. Increasingly, health care professionals are using platforms such as Twitter to share and discuss papers and resources. The beauty lies within the fact that whatever is placed onto the SoMe platform for debate will reach thousands, if not millions of other like minds. Within minutes, people are able to pass comments, pontificate and offer their opinions on topics.


There is no doubt about the reach and immense power that social media and free open access medicine have over what we learn. It influences how we access information and how we spread important messages to millions of like-minded clinicians. It may indeed be one of the most effective and efficient platforms for publishers, researchers and clinicians alike. It allows us to rapidly disseminate ground-breaking results, new therapies and trial methodologies. Of course, the information must be used with due care, as peer review processes are not the same as those involved in major journals. One can become influenced by grey information, as well as by the biases of others. In our opinion, with due care and attention, it is one of the most exciting and promising areas to become involved in within critical care.

Written by Jonny Wilkinson, Adrian Wong and Prof Manu Malbrain

This blog is also published on BMC

Join us in Amsterdam for the 7th IFAD International Fluid Academy Days, Nov 23-24 to meet the SoMe team!

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How Digital Marketing Can Help Clinical Trials Publish Faster

How Digital Marketing Can Help Clinical Trials Publish Faster | Social Media and Healthcare |

When clinical trials don’t publish, patients don’t get better. Here’s how digital technology, including digital marketing, can help.

The clinical trial process is notoriously riddled with delays, most frequently due to missed patient enrollment quotas. But a study published earlier this month in JAMA Network revealed a surprising source of additional delay – the lag time between data collection and publishing trial results.

The JAMA study found that, across 341 studies in six medical journals, the overall median data age was 33.9 months at the time of publication, and the median time from final data collection to publication was 14.8 months. 18.5% of trials required two or more years of publication time; 19.9% required more than four years just to complete enrollment.

These numbers are made more concerning by the fact that all of these studies eventually appeared in high-profile medical journals. This indicates that their findings were significant developments, so their delayed publication can have major, negative effects on the lives of many patients waiting for treatment or a new breakthrough.

Prioritizing the Patient

Of course, not all factors in a clinical trial can be altered for timeliness. Responsible, accurate reporting indisputably requires careful study and follow-up. If a trial has a follow-up period of a year, that’s unchangeable. However, the time it takes to get the paper published after final data collection are well within the control of researchers, and expediting these processes should be a top priority for clinical trials.

For clinical trials, delaying publishing by 14 months may not seem like a huge issue. After all, the temptation to pursue a perfect paper is strong. But for patients seeking treatment, 14 months can make all the difference. Often, time moves differently for these patients; suffering from a chronic, debilitating, or life-threatening disease can make every month or year feel much longer.

Apart from the compelling argument to consider the patient, expedited publishing gets valuable knowledge into the open as soon as it’s available. The sooner that new options are introduced to the market, the closer the medical community gets to finding cures or effective management plans for these conditions. Therefore, the onus is on trials to shorten time to publishing by any means possible.

Using Digital Resources to Expedite Publishing

Though the need for a streamlined study review process post-data collection seems apparent, trials have the most control over what happens before they even start collecting data. By implementing electronic health records, or EHRs, to pre-register patients before a trial even begins, trials can minimize paperwork and ensure that they’re ready to go when the trial begins.

Another area where technology can help is patient recruitment before and during a trial. Digital ads on search engines and social media not only open the recruitment pool to a wider audience, but can also help sponsors and CROs target potential patients by location, age, gender, and a wealth of other qualifiers. By using these tools, investigator sites can pinpoint patients or caregivers actively seeking treatment options and quickly lead them to an initial screening – hosted on a dedicated landing page.

Trials may be able to bear delays in publishing, but patients often cannot. By implementing digital tools, sponsors and CROs can give patients the best chance of getting the treatments they need to live happy, healthy lives.


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Trying to Reach Healthcare Professionals and Consumers? Social Media Is the Answer.

Trying to Reach Healthcare Professionals and Consumers? Social Media Is the Answer. | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is a powerful platform for reaching HCPs and consumers alike. There are nearly 200 million active social media users in the United States alone, so it’s almost guaranteed that your target audience is using social channels, consuming content about anything and everything. So why not target them on social for your brand?

Targeting on social media allows brands to specify and target certain demographic properties of their desired audience. Additionally, brands can create lookalike audiences based off of demographic and behavioral data, finding users who “look” like their already engaged audience. But in addition to targeting these users with ads, social media can help you bring your brand to life, personalizing and humanizing it to your audience, and give your brand a voice, while allowing for interaction and engagement with your customers while they create peer-to-peer relationships and form communities.

Still don’t believe social is right for pharma? Read on to see how we leveraged the power of social to drive brand awareness and engage and acquire HCPs for an OTC brand on Facebook and developed a vibrant, active consumer and veterinary social community and Instagram presence for a prescription veterinary brand. From customer insights through creating the strategy, we used a social model that set our pharma brands up for success.

Driving Brand Awareness and Acquisition of HCPs

Doctors don’t stop being doctors when they log on to Facebook. Using that insight, we used Facebook to target specialty HCPs when one Rx-to-OTC switch brand soft relaunched. The brand had taken on a modern creative campaign, and driving awareness around the rebranding was still a key factor.

Our goal was to garner excitement and provide education about the switch, energize the campaign, and rally HCPs to sign up for a CRM program. Facebook proved to be the perfect medium, as the ads were non-intrusive and were served up to the HCPs during their normal use within the social network. Results were positive, yielding registrations for the CRM program that exceeded initial projections.

Building a Social Community

Veterinary products need to engage pet owners and veterinarians alike, and for the relaunch of a medication for dogs we used social media to address the consumer audience. Research showed that our target dog owners were socially active, looking for other pet owners, and desirous of sharing their own experiences. Although the brand didn’t have an official social presence, dog owners were having conversations about the brand in its absence. Demographic data analysis proved that our target audience was on Facebook and Instagram, and we moved forward to cultivate a community of like-minded dog owners, pulsing out a cadence of branded and unbranded content that would answer the audience’s needs. The results of our social strategy produced vibrant, engaged communities and helped define and shape an authoritative voice for our brand.

A Roadmap to Success

Success in social starts with research. Understanding your audience is crucial to any social campaign. What are their needs and pain points? How do they talk to each other? What are their behaviors? Who are their influencers? What are they saying about your brand? This information will help you build a framework for your content strategy and for the assets that you create to be disseminated in social channels.

Research where your target audience spends its time, and pursue only those social channels to start your campaign. Reassess periodically because social engagement, like everything else, can change over time.

Do a competitive audit to understand what, where, and how your competitors are pursuing social channels for their marketing efforts. Do a content audit to see what assets you can repurpose for social so you don’t have to start from scratch. Brush up on best practices. Review corporate social guidelines. Meet with med legal early to get their buy in. Develop a response plan in the event things don’t go exactly as planned.
Create a content calendar that spans across a period of time and keep it updated, understanding that it may need to be flexible. Listen to your audience and use those insights to develop more content.

Social media marketing can be a great way to help build positive customer engagement for brands with both HCPs and consumers. It’s an important channel in the overall marketing mix to boost business growth and gain engaged and loyal customers, which are the most import assets of any brand.(PV)

Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide — a WPP Health & Wellness company — is committed to creativity and effectiveness in healthcare communications, everywhere.

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7 Ways to Connect with Millennial Patients

7 Ways to Connect with Millennial Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

Appealing to Millennials, many of whom are making their own decisions about eyecare for the first time, requires targeted marketing. But another factor can be equally powerful in appealing to this age segment: having cutting-edge technology online and in your office.

According to the most recent U.S. Census, there are 80 million Millennials in the U.S. compared to only 65 million Gen Xers and 74 million Baby Boomers. By the year 2020, Millennials will make up over 50 percent of our patient base. Therefore, optometrists should consider incorporating technology throughout the office, from the reception area to the exam room to the optical, to suit Millennials’ expectations.

Offer Easy Online Appointment Booking
From what I’ve observed on the teaching staff at Nova Southeastern University, in addition to working part-time at We Are Eyes in Boca Raton, Fla., Millennials are more likely to put off seeing doctors. They often wait to see if the problem will subside on its own. In addition to that, they feel that they don’t have the time to go to the doctor. When they are sick, Millennials are more likely to turn to Google, WebMD or urgent care centers for healthcare information before visiting a doctor. If they finally decide to go to a doctor’s office, Millennials are frequently intimidated by making an appointment over the phone. They prefer buying products and tickets online, making restaurant reservations online, so, therefore, would prefer to make doctors’ appointments online.

Enable Communication Via Cell Phone & Texting
When collecting contact information, get a cell phone number first, then an e-mail. Skip the home phone number and the daytime or work phone number. If you want a Millennial to schedule an appointment, allow them to do so from their mobile device. There are plenty of services that connect to your practice management software to send text or e-mail reminders of an upcoming appointment.

And the practice management software that is already being used in many offices may have mobile and online scheduling incorporated directly. A third-party service may not be needed anymore. For example, Eyefinity has online scheduling called Eyefinity Patient Engagement. This allows patients to schedule from mobile devices, and also to confirm or change appointments, access or update their medical history from the patient portal, and ask questions within the secure software. Whatever platform you use to communicate with patients, be sure it is HIPAA-compliant.

Update Web Site & Social Media Pages
Your web site should be optimized for mobile viewing, and you should have Facebook and Yelp pages that are updated on a daily basis. If a patient has a good experience in your office, take the time to ask them to post a positive review immediately. If the doctor does not want to have this conversation personally with the patient, designate an employee to do so. It’s best to ask before they leave the office. Give patients an extra incentive to like your Facebook page, or post a review, by offering them an optical cleaning cloth or an extra starter kit of contact lens solution or water bottle, or another token of appreciation.


Dr. Nguyen using an iPad to image a patient in the exam room. Dr. Nguyen says using mobile technology in the exam room can make it easier to educate the patient, which appeals to many Millennials.

Share Digital Images of Eyes in Exam Room
In the examination room, ODs should consider digital imaging techniques that can be viewed immediately by the patient. Millennials are more likely to understand the results of their examination if they can see it on an iPad or computer monitor. For example, a patient is more likely to be compliant to their prescribed contact lens wearing and replacement schedule if they can see the giant papillary conjunctivitis under their eyelids or the deposits stuck to their over-worn contact lenses.

I recommend large touch-screen monitors, or tablets, to view test results and ocular photos. When a patient has a question about their diagnosis, the doctor should have a face-to-face discussion with them. But once the question is answered, optometrists should consider taking a moment to send the patient an e-mail with more information. Don’t hand a Millennial a paper brochure. Send them an e-mail with a link to your web site or another credible web site.

Use Modern Measuring Technology in Optical
The optical area should also have modern technology available. I know many experienced opticians who are spot-on with their PD sticks. But measuring a pupillary distance manually with a PD stick is considered too basic and inaccurate by Millennials. iPad programs are available to measure PDs and simulate the optics and clarity of digital lenses. This adds perceived value to the optical purchase, which can help practices differentiate themselves from online glasses retailers.

Evaluate State of Technology Annually
The challenge with incorporating technology into a practice is that technology is ever-changing. Millennials are used to change, they expect it. So, never get too comfortable with the technology you have. An updated version will be available soon. To keep up with the most tech-savvy generation, practices may have to change the patient experience constantly.

Market New Technology
Once you have created your high-tech, mobile-friendly practice, market the technology to Millennials as an experience. Make a video creating a digital tour of your practice showing the technology you use. Post the video to your web site and Facebook page. Millennials live in a world of instant gratification, so marketing and communicating should be done in a timely manner. When you get new diagnostic technology, or new technology in your optical, it should be posted immediately.


Thuy-Lan Nguyen, OD
, practices in South Florida, teaches at Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry, and works part-time as an associate at We Are Eyes in Boca Raton, Fla. To contact her:

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Social Media Tips for Pharma and Healthcare Marketers –

Social Media Tips for Pharma and Healthcare Marketers – | Social Media and Healthcare |

The average consumer spends nearly two hours on social media daily and, especially for healthcare and pharma, social networks have become the connective tissue between brands and health system stakeholders. These platforms are where patients, caregivers, and even HCPs engage with health-related information and seek the counsel of their peers.

Each and every day millions “like,” comment, and share disease state education, treatment solutions, support programs, and more. They also expect healthcare brands to provide the same level of immediacy and engagement already experienced with consumer package goods, entertainment, and other less-regulated verticals.

The obvious challenge for pharma marketers is that user generated content exposes companies to concerns ranging from reputation management to privacy concerns to adverse event reporting. Making matters even more complicated, the platforms themselves change often, from seemingly weekly channel enhancements to security changes to tweaked algorithms. That makes keeping abreast of new FDA guidance and technological features a true balancing act, demanding non-stop attentiveness, and proven compliance expertise.

The combination of unprecedented audience reach with complex tech, regulatory, and reputations concerns makes implementing social best practices more vital than ever before. So I’ve compiled 50 tips for pharma paid and organic campaigns to help you not only avoid problems, but get the most out of social media for your brands. Let’s start with the market leader, Facebook…

Part 1: 17 Super Ideas for Facebook

1. Ensure your Facebook Page appears in search results by avoiding age or country restrictions, and including a profile picture, cover photo, and call-to-action button. Make sure to add basic info and, lastly, ensure your Page is published.

2. Facebook allows advertising to three core audiences: your Facebook followers, all of Facebook (according to your target criteria), and to a Custom Audience, i.e. existing customers, like website visitors or email lists. Build success from the ground up by selecting the audience best in line with your goals.

3. If an organic page post has received high engagement in the form of likes, shares and comments, that tells you about its popularity; boost such a proven post with paid promotion to reach an even greater audience.

4. Track your Facebook Page performance alongside similar Pages or competitors by adding Pages to watch under the Insights tab:

5. Uncertain of which ad version to launch? Leverage the split test function in Facebook Ads Manager to gather insights based on a specific variable – target audience, delivery, placements, or creative. You can opt for the test to finish early based on the winning ad, enabling your brand to move forward with confidence.

6. Facebook favors ads light on copy. But don’t forget to use the custom link description, which allows you to share an additional sentence for detail.

7. New to advertising on Facebook? Facebook Blueprint offers free online training on all aspects of marketing through the platform. You can also take online exams to earn Blueprint Certification, the only certification officially recognized by Facebook.

8. Your Facebook followers can see how long it takes your brand to respond to a message – so be prompt to maintain good ratings. A solid benchmark can be found with Johnson & Johnson: despite having close to 800,000 page followers, they typically reply within a day.

9. Not seeing the results expected from your Facebook ad? Optimize the ad in real-time by editing your audience, budget & schedule, placements, creative, or delivery choices within Ads Manager.

10. Finding the right hire can be challenging and expensive. Consider posting openings on your Facebook business page – a free and easy feature introduced in February of 2017. Potential applicants can search for relevant openings by location and industry, among other criteria, and easily apply through the platform.

11. Take advantage of Facebook Audience Network (FAN) to extend your ad campaigns to your target audience off of Facebook. Campaigns delivered through FAN typically see larger reach at a lower cost per result.

12. Unbranded Facebook pages that put people – not treatments – at the center can be a game-changer for pharma. They also help you avoid the complications of branded content, often difficult or impossible to control within a social network. When done right, such unbranded content can nonetheless lead to important behavioral change, driving patients to prescribers, improving their adherence to treatment and motivating them to join awareness programs.

A great example is “Quitter’s Circle,” the unbranded page managed by Pfizer and the American Lung Association, which provides informative and motivational content to more than 150,000 followers.

13. Attending a conference? Unveiling a new treatment center? Welcoming a new physician? Let your Facebook followers in on the action with FacebookLive. These videos now stay on your page, so followers can engage with your content even if they missed it live.

14. Stand out in a sea of sameness, like the American Cancer Society did, by using a video in place of a cover or profile image. Facebook supports videos of up to 7 seconds for profile videos and reels of 20 to 90 seconds for cover videos. For best results, Facebook recommends uploading a pixel size no less than 820 x 462.

15. User-generated content, be it a positive Facebook review or Instagram post, is one of the best ways to increase trust in your organization. Consider featuring testimonials as a paid ad to reach your target audience in a more relatable, peer-to-peer way.

16. If increasing site traffic is the key objective of your Facebook ad campaign, conduct a preliminary split test to measure the cost per click of unique link clicks compared to landing page views. In my experience, link clicks are almost always more cost efficient.

17. Based on the size of your audience and key objectives, advertising on Facebook can be extremely cost effective. In fact, the minimum daily budget for impressions is as low as $1/day. The below ad sets, for example, achieved 2,182 impressions and reached 273 unique people within our target audience for a spend of only $37.75:

Looking for more of my top social media tips? Check out 5 Tips on Unbranded Facebook Pages for Pharma Marketers and 4 Key Advantages of Instagram Stories for Pharma Marketers.

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Technology is changing the way you see a doctor, but is that good?

Technology is changing the way you see a doctor, but is that good? | Social Media and Healthcare |

One morning, Charlie Latuske woke up feverish and somewhat delirious in his home in Surrey in the UK, leaving him unable to function and in need of a doctor.

He'd endured a sore throat and general malaise for a few days, believing it would get better, but that morning in August 2017, he knew that he had to do something about it.

"I was quite out of it," said 27-year old Latuske, who was also due to go on vacation with his wife in just three days.

Short on time, he dreaded the idea of calling his local general practitioner only to wait days or even a week for an appointment, or to wait in a queue for an emergency appointment.

"I just needed to be seen without messing around with queues," he said. "When you're that ill, that's the last thing you want to do."

These days, this solution is somewhat easier, thanks to the internet.

Latuske's wife showed him a private medical app with which he could see a doctor within the hour -- virtually. For a fee of £30 ($38), he could sign up, share his symptoms and video-call a doctor in the UK using the digital health provider Push Doctor

"I was highly skeptical," he said, adding that his instincts were to not trust such a service and question the credentials of doctors available through it. "But I was desperate."

Within 20 minutes, he was speaking with a doctor, who soon diagnosed him with tonsillitis.

Within the hour, he was his nearest pharmacy, collecting prescriptions for antibiotics and pain relievers. And three days later, he was on vacation, as planned.

"I was impressed by the efficiency of the whole thing," he said.

The service treated more than 1,000 different conditions last year, it says, with the majority of people getting the help they needed first time. "Patients have come to expect the same level of responsiveness from their health care services that they receive from online shops, TV providers and social network," said Wais Shaifta, CEO of Push Doctor.

The app is one of many now available in the UK and worldwide to help people in need of medical attention who are unable to get to a doctor for various reasons, such as an overburdened practice, being too ill to move or being too remote to access one.

Some programs are even exploring the use of artificial intelligence to speed the process, quickly analyzing your symptoms to send you to the right expert. Experts in the field hope AI will also enhance the accuracy of diagnoses -- more so than a real-life doctor.

The true test of AI

A recent study led by another online health service provider, Babylon Health, found that when answering diagnostic questions typically found on a doctor's exam in the UK, its AI technology diagnosed patients better than the doctors taking the test, with 81 percent accuracy compared with an average of 72 percent over the past five years among real-life doctors.

A subsequent test of the technology on clinical scenarios provided by the Royal College of Physicians in the UK looked at 100 independent symptom sets in need of diagnosis. Again, the AI achieved 80 percent accuracy, with the seven experts tested scoring between 64 percent and 94 percent.

The point of it all is efficiency, says Dr. Mobasher Butt, medical director at Babylon Health. The private app provides health care consultations for a small initial fee, but the company also powers the online service GP at hand, which is provided for free in London through the country's National Health Service.

"We have to find ways of helping our NHS service to be more efficient," Butt said, adding that this use of AI can help patients get to the right services and help them manage long-term conditions, improve compliance with medication, give reminders and help with follow-ups and repeat prescriptions.

"When we start working smarter and using technology, you can see the great advantages that offers and frees up the time of doctors and nurses to do what they do best: to provide that human care to patients."

A team at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London partnered with the Google company DeepMind came to a similar conclusion in a recent study in Nature Medicine. Their AI technology, designed to read eye scans and identify signs of disease, correctly identified over 50 eye diseases with 94 percent accuracy -- matching the abilities of the world's leading eye experts.

"The number of eye scans we're performing is growing at a pace much faster than human experts are able to interpret them," Dr. Pearse Keane, a consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust who led the research, said in a statement. "The AI technology we're developing is designed to prioritize patients who need to be seen and treated urgently by a doctor or eye care professional. If we can diagnose and treat eye conditions early, it gives us the best chance of saving people's sight."

Next, this research will undergo clinical trials to see how the technology might improve patient care in practice.

But professional organizations like the Royal College of Physicians want to ensure that the value of a real-life physician is not lost as technology continues to evolve.

"AI to support patient care is being developed in a variety of ways and has huge potential to support doctors and enable them to spend more time with patients," Jane Dacre, the group's president and a professor of medical education at University College London, said in a statement. "Although this technology is exciting, the physician still holds the crucial role of the oversight of the vital human and caring side of medicine -- an aspect of care that cannot be underestimated."

She stressed that despite the positive results of recent studies, AI cannot yet replace a fully trained doctor.

"We need much more robust trials and evidence to work out how it can best be used. We need studies in real patients, in real time, in the real NHS," she said.

The value of relationships

Among all these changes and improvements in time, accuracy and efficiency, experts are concerned that another crucial aspect of health care is being forgotten: continuity of care, an ongoing relationship with a particular doctor or health care provider who knows your history and knows you.

On that front, "the trend is going in the wrong way," said Dr. Denis Pereira Gray, a former family physician and professor emeritus at the University of Exeter in the UK.

This is down to the fact that the UK, compared with other European countries, is seriously short on doctors, and continuity is not valued by policymakers, he said.

But in a recent study, Pereira Gray found that seeing the same doctor can in fact save lives, with those seeing the same physician over time having lower death rates based on a review of 22 studies across nine countries. Eighteen of the studies, 82 percent, found that repeated contact with the same doctor meant fewer deaths.

In some studies, the effect doubled, he added.

The review also found that this benefit applies beyond family physicians, extending to specialists in general medicine, surgery and psychiatry, according to Pereira Gray, who noted this outcome across countries, cultures, languages and health systems. "This is much more likely to indicate a serious human effect," he said.

"Patients have long known that it matters which doctor they see and how well they can communicate with them," Pereira Gray said. "Until now, arranging for patients to see the doctor of their choice has been considered a matter of convenience or courtesy; now, it is clear it is about the quality of medical practice and is literally 'a matter of life and death.' "

Research has also shown that continuity of care results in patients being more satisfied, significantly more likely to follow medical advice and much more likely to take up personal protective care, like immunizations or cancer screening, Pereira Gray said. They also show more efficient use of hospitals and a reduced likelihood of using emergency departments.

"All of those are advantages, as well as [avoiding] death," he said.

And it's not just long-term relationships. Short-term ones are just as beneficial, according to Pereira Gray. For example, in one study in the United States, mortality was greater among people who were readmitted to the same hospital after colorectal surgery but saw a different medical team, he said.

"Sheer familiarity with a doctor reduces anxiety," he added. "And patients are more likely to disclose important information that can sometimes be sensitive and embarrassing."

Alongside that, the more doctors get to know patients, they become more responsive to them as individuals. "Trust goes up in the patient, and the doctors become more sensitive to the patient," Pereira Gray said.

"People talk more freely to people they trust and know."

Is seeing the same doctor 'outdated'?

Is familiarity or technological efficiency better for our health in the long run? Butt believes that the idea of seeing the same general practitioner for life "is now outdated" but argues that good care needn't be an either-or situation.

"We're not trying to replace doctors," Butt said. It's not "man vs. machine."

Instead, he says the future is about humans working with machines, adding that with his health care app, users can request to speak to the same doctor they have previously.

"Continuity of care is important, and where it's needed, we offer that," Butt said, giving the example of mental health care. But he also highlighted that many practices today do not enable patients to see the same doctor, due to limited staff and the use of temporary or substitute doctors. "It's just not the reality in most cases."

More than 200 doctors provide their services to Babylon Health, Butt said, and he hopes to make the technology more sophisticated and interactive, for example by using a phone's microphone to help doctors listen to a patient's chest remotely. A physical health check service is also now available, with people inputting information about their current health and diet to see how they're doing in general and what lifestyle factors they could improve to "prevent some diseases from happening," he said.

Eighty-five percent of issues can be dealt with via a video call, Butt added, with more serious issues or blood tests needing an in-person appointment, which is then obtained through the patient's NHS practice or a private physician.

"What's important is continuity of the medical record, so any clinician involved in that person's care can pick it up," Butt said.

Pereira Gray agrees that it needn't be a tradeoff. "I don't think technology and personal care are in opposition. They should complement each other," he said, but he feels that with remote consultations, social determinants of health are less accounted for, such as a person's environment, poverty level, family or work.

"All of that feeds into the sort of illnesses that people get," he said. "If you're talking about a doctor doing a quick-fix consultation, it's very much less likely that will be unraveled or understood."

But he admits that certain conditions are quick and simple and that any doctor anywhere can handle those quickly and simply, to Butt's point.

The current selling point for the use of technology is access, Butt believes, either where in-person appointments are limited or where mobility is an issue -- both among the frail and elderly or in low-income countries where communities can be miles from the nearest health care center with no means of transport.

The Babylon team is providing mobile health services in Rwanda as well as the UK, with plans to extend to other countries on the African continent, as well as North America and the Middle East.

According to Push Doctor, the need for remote access is in high demand among middle-age and older people in countries like the UK. "It's not just millennials who are embracing [these] platforms," Shaifta said. "Research shows that digital health has universal appeal, with high demand from over-45s citing an increased need for remote services and the convenience they bring."

For now, which option is ultimately better for your health? The results just aren't in yet.

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Health agency to mine social media for study on suicide trends, risk factors

Health agency to mine social media for study on suicide trends, risk factors | Social Media and Healthcare |

ederal health researchers are looking to mine social media to more quickly identify suicide-related behaviours, instead of relying on woefully outdated data.

What the Public Health Agency of Canada wants is an artificial intelligence program that combs social media platforms for keywords to give its researchers a better view of trends and risk factors linked to suicide-related behaviours.

The proposed pilot project, outlined in federal bidding documents, would also give a window into suicide risks based on sex, age, ethnicity, and geographic location.

The agency says it is not, however, looking to make the pilot project a tool to predict suicides or identify specific people at risk of attempting to die by suicide.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Canadian teens.

The health agency produces regular reports on suicide trends using death and hospital data, but the information can be up to five years old when the agency gets it.

The agency says to better prevent suicide, it needs more up-to-date information of “suicide-related behaviours, which occur further upstream,” to figure out how to craft earlier interventions for those who need the help.

The bid documents say social media sweeps would start in June 2019. By the end of next year, the agency expects to produce monthly social media monitoring reports.

The cost to create a program to sweep sites like Facebook and Twitter for information is expected to be up to $150,000, excluding taxes, according to the request for proposals.

The contract runs until March 2020.

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Social media may provide opportunities for cancer research, but caution urged

Social media may provide opportunities for cancer research, but caution urged | Social Media and Healthcare |

Adoption of social media has increased dramatically over time, with the number of worldwide users projected to increase from 1 billion in 2010 to 3 billion by 2021.

Mining this new form of derived data could be a novel frontier for personalized and precision cancer medicine, according to Mina S. Sedrak, MD, MS.

 Sedrak — assistant professor in the department of medical oncology and therapeutics research at City of Hope — presented research on the mechanisms by which social media and mobile technology may enhance individual and population health behaviors and outcomes in cancer care during this year’s ASCO Annual Meeting.

“We know from prior literature that social influences play key roles in shaping health behavior,” Sedrak, a HemOnc Today Next Gen Innovator, said during an interview. “Multiple studies have shown that certain health traits — such as smoking and weight gain — correlate with social ties within a network.

“Peer-to-peer interaction has been demonstrated to influence individual behavior in many health-related settings,” Sedrak added. “However, there are a number of important challenges that we have to take into consideration. Social media is an incomplete, new and evolving area of research, and there remain many unanswered questions about how best to study these new modes of communication.”

HemOnc Today spoke with Sedrak about how social media may be used to study social influences on health behaviors, advance cancer research and enhance outcomes for patients with cancer, as well as the challenges that must be overcome before this novel approach toward personalized medicine becomes a reality.


Question: Can you describe the potential for using social media to study social influences on health behaviors?

Answer: Social media may be a new method for studying social influences on health behavior. Traditional forms of studying health influences and health behavior include the use of observational data. We often use large forms of data, such as a large cohort data set, and conduct secondary analysis to understand how peer-to-peer influences impact an individual or population’s behavior. Another way we can study this is by performing health behavior intervention experiments, through which we evaluate specific strategies that influence individual behaviors. Social media gives us new and powerful methods to look at larger cohorts of the population beyond what traditional data sets or smaller health behavior experiments may provide. Information from our daily interactions and exposures are now measured and recorded as digital footprints. This tapestry of information that includes data from social media, wearables, mobile apps and other digital health tools may enable us to learn about the role of social influences on health behaviors in ways previously unimaginable.


Q: How can social media be used to advance cancer research and enhance outcomes for individuals with cancer?

A: The use of social media platforms for cancer research is in an early, proof-of-concept stage. There are several potential opportunities for us to examine the value of this new mode of communication in oncology. One is the potential to use social media platforms to listen to the public discourse on cancer to better inform our understanding of population needs. Key questions include: Can social media be used to examine the opinions, attitudes, sentiments and reported norms of social behavior among individuals and communities? What are patients saying when they talk about their cancer experience online? What are physicians saying? And how are these dialogues different or similar? Can we identify communication patterns and gaps, such as access, speaking, processing and using information? And can we examine how all of this relates to cancer health disparities?

Another potential benefit is to link social media data with numerous data that we collect about patients, including genetic information, demographic and clinical data, wearables and mobile health. Does integrating all of these big data together help us better understand the cancer continuum? Can it help us learn more about our patients outside of a 20-minute visit that we have with them in the clinic? Can it help us better understand their disease and cancer experience, and how does this affect their community and the people around them?

Finally, social media may potentially be used as an intervention or strategy to influence health behavior and outcomes. Can we tap into the power of social networking online to improve patient and physician behavior? It remains unclear whether this is something we can or even want to do, but there is no denying that social media is a powerful tool, and we have many questions to answer about its value and utility in oncology.

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Functional Medicine Practices: Rock Your Online Reputation with Social Media! 

Functional Medicine Practices: Rock Your Online Reputation with Social Media!  | Social Media and Healthcare |

nce upon a time, reputation management was the sole responsibility of corporate PR departments. We sat back and watched as news outlets reported on scandals and company representatives spoke before press conferences. But before we knew it, the digital age hit and leveled the playing field for everyone. Today, anyone can “report” on what a large company or small practice is doing through social media. The digital age has made it more imperative than ever for industries of all kinds to become involved in “online” reputation management.

Online reputation management is proactively influencing how your patients perceive your practice by influencing the information they find online. Whether you realize it or not, people are talking about your practice, and not becoming involved is almost worse than doing so and not being perfect at it right away. That in mind, it is important that you have a plan. You must be ready to face the feedback you are receiving. Today we are going to talk about what a functional medicine practice can do to rock their online reputation using social media!

Stats to Consider

In case you are not already convinced that online reputation management is important, here are a few stats to consider. According to BrightLocal,

97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day

85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations

49% of consumers need at least a four-star online rating before they choose to use a business

Stats like these make it evident that people are creating perceptions of what they believe about businesses (and practices) by the information they find online, first! So what can you do to influence this information?

You Can Do This!

By creating your own content for your functional medicine practice, encouraging positive feedback from your patients, and effectively managing negative feedback, you can outshine information that is creating a negative or neutral reputation for your practice! There are four online platforms through which you can do this, following the PESO model:

  1. Paid Media – Pay-per-click advertising such as Facebook or Google advertising
  2. Earned Media – Free advertising you receive as other practices and industry affiliates talk about you online
  3. Social Media – Where we will be focusing our attention in this blog
  4. Owned Properties – Your practice website, blog, etc. (any online space that you own and from which you can publish content)

On any one of these platforms, you can use an online reputation management strategy to push negative or neutral information down the page. We will be focusing on how to develop an online reputation management strategy for social media!

Have a Plan

1. Find Your Reputation

What is your practice’s current reputation, offline? This is a good place to start. Ask around and see what perceptions your fellow professionals, patients, and industry affiliates have about your practice. Does this match what you want your reputation to be? Now take a look online. If you already have social media, peruse your accounts and see what people are saying about your practice. Take a look at your competitors while you are at it and see what reputations they have created for themselves. Next, plan a meeting with your staff and discuss these things as well as what you as a team would like your unique reputation to be. Maybe you want to be seen as high-tech, genuinely caring, or scientifically-grounded. One company that has succeeded at creating a strong online reputation is Wendy’s, most famous for its snarkiness on Twitter. We do not recommend this tactic for most people, but it is an excellent example of the power of a reputation.

2. Draft a Policy

Now that you have your reputation nailed-down, create a policy for your staff to protect it. In your policy document, outline appropriate and inappropriate topics and/or a post-approval process if you are not comfortable with giving your staff free reign to post and comment on your social media accounts. Establish important ground rules like “never publish sensitive patient or practice information.” Unfortunately, HIPAA was enacted before social media existed, so there are no specific guidelines. However, many have written helpful articles on HIPAA and social media. Use your policy document to set the tone of social media professionalism for your staff. Be sure to include that your practice reserves the right to edit or delete any content that could be harmful to your reputation.

3. Create Your Strategy

At Beacon, we often start our work on an account by developing a digital marketing strategy and editorial calendar for our clients. This includes the topics or services we are going to focus on, important themes, keywords, and elements of voice, as well as the platforms and media types we will be using. Our goal is to have a foundational document that we can always go back to for direction to keep our mind on the reputation we are establishing. The document also includes a schedule of what types of posts we will publish at what times and should include the person responsible for responding to comments. It is important to publish content regularly, as in, 3-4 times per week if you want to maintain your reputation. If you are at a loss for what kind of content to publish, take a look at your competitors and what is working for them (only do not copy their tactics, learn from them). Facebook Insights has a great tool called “Pages to Watch” that will help you discover which competitors you should be watching:

In your strategy, include the types of posts that encourage your followers to engage positively, such as questions, quizzes, and calls-to-action, like, “Have you recently had an appointment with us? We’d love to know what you think about our care. Review us now at the link below!” Also, include posts that highlight the positive things about your practice. The reason you are publishing content is to proactively create a positive perception about your practice that pushes any negative perceptions that your patients may have out the door!

Finally, you may want to include some important reminders for online reputation management in your strategy, especially if you will be having your staff do the publishing. For example, remind staff to “pause before they post” and check for grammatical errors as well as topics to avoid. The last thing you want is for your reputation to be tainted by something as simple and easy to fix as a grammatical error. Read and re-read our posts. We use Grammarly at Beacon and it is an especially helpful tool for catching these errors. As for topics to avoid, not only should your staff be thinking about no-no topics for your practice, but current trends, news, and cultural perceptions that could cause something they say to be misconstrued. For example, we were writing a post about visiting a particular national park last week until we saw the news that there had just been an accident at that location. Run your post by your fellow professionals, especially if you are unsure. In fact, if you are unsure, it is probably best that you do not publish the post at all and come up with something different. We know that it is a hassle, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

4. Engage with Followers

A significant part of online reputation management on social media is responding to the people who engage with your content! This shows that you are active, listening, and credible. Social media is not unlike any other sphere for social communication. Imagine if you never answered emails, phone calls, were never in office when people came to visit, or only talked about yourself in conversation. What would that do to your reputation? On social media, 32% of followers expect a response within 30 minutes and 42% within 60 minutes. Have a plan to check your practice’s social media platforms throughout the day and respond to comments and messages as they come. In your response, be as friendly, transparent, and as human as possible. Avoid canned, robotic responses, even to negative comments.

5. Optimize Your Profiles

Have you ever visited a social media account and felt like, “Wow, this practice really has their act together.” It is actually surprisingly easy to achieve this reputation for your practice! Take a look at your social media profiles and make sure you have all of the important pieces in place, the profile picture, cover photo, about, bio, description–Fill in all of the gaps. Make sure all of these pieces are consistent, using your colors, logo, fonts, imagery, and voice. Practices look credible and trustworthy when “everything is in its place.” As an example, take a look at the profile picture and cover photo of one of the social media accounts we manage below. Although we are currently running a particular campaign for this client, everything is consistently branded:

We recently wrote a blog on how to optimize your Instagram profile. Take a look if you would like to learn more about this topic.

6. Monitor and Adapt

After everything is in place and your strategy is up and running, it is important that you track the effectiveness of your plan. It is now standard practice for just about every social media platform to provide some form of data analytics. Monitor these analytics and adapt where necessary. See what your audience likes and does not like and continue to refine your ideas about how to effectively manage your online reputation on social media. Although there is a lot of science to social media, it is also an art. Be flexible and willing to change your tactics for your audience if you need to.

Tools for Monitoring

There are a couple tools you can be using to monitor your online reputation in addition to the tools available on your social media platforms. You can setup Google Alerts to tell you when anyone is publishing content about your business, your competitors, or your industry. This is important for finding social media platforms where people are talking about you and you should establish a presence. Social media management tools like Hootsuite allow you to view posts, comments, and messages that mention you or use keywords or hashtags pertaining to your practice on all of your platforms, all in one dashboard. These tools can help you never miss a message.

A lot of groups have done great things for their online reputation by responding to posts in which their followers mention the name of their group, but do not tag them. When followers do not tag you, they do not necessarily anticipate your response. You can look really on top of the ball by responding to these, making your followers feel like, “Wow, they were listening!” Responding to mentions turns around negative feedback and rewards positive feedback, reinforcing this behavior.

A Note on the Negative (Reviews, Posts, Comments, etc.)

Negative feedback is something no one wants to deal with, but how you handle the negative speaks volumes for the reputation of your functional medicine practice! After years of working in the social media space, we have learned a few things about how to respond to negative reviews, posts, and comments. Here are some pieces of advice:

  • Don’t take it personally. This can be particularly difficult for people who genuinely care about what they are doing. We get it. That said, a lot of people don’t realize that they are talking to people behind-the-scenes when they talk to social media accounts. They are angry with their situation and your practice is the face they have chosen to blast with their woes.
  • Use the 20-minute rule. If you are becoming angry or upset, pause and take a breather so that you can respond instead of reacting. Be the bigger person and keep your practice’s reputation intact!
  • It’s okay to hide, delete, and report. In some cases, especially where vulgarities and disparaging language is being used or the commenter is being irrelevant and ridiculous, you should absolutely hide that comment from your wall and possibly report it. Use your best judgment.
  • Be willing to improve. If the negative feedback being given touches on the truth and is a real service issue that you need to take care of, be willing to make changes to your practice and demonstrate that you are taking feedback to heart on social media! This will do powerful things for your reputation and possibly win the commenter over as a follower for life!
  • Focus on the positive. Be kind and friendly and look for opportunities to turn negative feedback into a positive interaction. We recently had the opportunity to do this with one of our clients in the example below.

Due to the advent of the digital age and social media, reputation management has moved online and is open to everyone. It is now more important than ever for all industries, including functional medicine, to participate in online reputation management! By having a plan that is firmly rooted in policy and strategy documents and backed by a firm understanding of social media, functional medicine practices can rise to the occasion and rock their online reputation. If you are a functional medicine practice and would like to work with an expert partner on your social media, give us a call! We have years of experience working in the field of health and wellness that we would love to share with you and your practice.

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How Hospitals can Counteract Inaccurate Crowdsourced Ratings | 

How Hospitals can Counteract Inaccurate Crowdsourced Ratings |  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Crowdsourced ratings of the "best overall" hospitals produce scores similar to Hospital Compare's ratings, but crowdsourced ratings are less reliable as indicators of clinical quality and patient safety, recent research shows.


The research, which was published in the journal Health Services Research, examined hospital ratings on Facebook, Google Reviews, and Yelp. The findings show crowdsourced ratings reflect patient experience rather than other factors.


"For the most part, what we found is that the social media scores tell us about patient experience, but they don't tell us about the best and worst hospitals on the basis of clinical quality or patient safety," the lead author of the research, Victoria Perez, PhD, told HealthLeaders last week.





The study has significant implications for how patients should view crowdsource ratings, said Perez, who is an assistant professor at Indiana University in Bloomington. "We wish that people would understand that even if hospitals are not scoring well on Facebook in user reviews, they could have excellent clinical scores."



If a hospital has generated negative reviews on a crowdsourcing site, there are ways to counteract the negative publicity, Perez said. "Hospitals can advertise that they score well on Hospital Compare and establish marketing strategies to respond to social media scores."


Hospital leaders also need to be aware that crowdsourcing scores are based largely on patient experience, she said.


"If hospitals are worried that patients are just looking at social media scores, they need to realize the scores reflect patient experience rather than clinical quality and patient safety. Other than advertising they don't have a lot of control over this. The options are marketing and engaging on the social media platform."



There are ways to shift the online focus of patients toward clinical quality and patient safety, Perez said.


"Hospitals can share Hospital Compare clinical quality and patient safety scores on their homepage, on their Facebook page, and on Twitter. Many hospitals have a social media presence, so they can definitely share clinical quality and patient safety information, and they can encourage patients to look at Hospital Compare."



The research, which examined data from nearly 3,000 acute care hospitals, has several key findings:

  • For best-ranked hospitals on the crowdsourcing sites, 50% to 60% were ranked best in Hospital Compare's overall rating.
  • For best-ranked hospitals on the crowdsourcing sites, 20% ranked worst in Hospital Compares overall rating.
  • For clinical quality and patient safety, hospitals ranked best on crowdsourced sites were only ranked best on Hospital Compare about 30% of the time.


Perez said Hospital Compare, which combines as many as 57 metrics for patient experience and clinical quality, was used to gauge the accuracy of the crowdsourcing sites for several reasons.


"The clinical quality and patient safety measures are based on Medicare claims data, which means there is a lot of information about patients and they can do risk adjustment," she said of Hospital Compare.


Risk adjustment is crucial when comparing hospitals, Perez said. "Rather than being concerned that some hospitals are treating a sicker pool of patients and have worse outcomes as a result, the Hospital Compare data can be adjusted for the health of the patient mix."


The crowdsourcing sites are more prone to bias, she said. "A concern when you look at social media is that people only write reviews when they have really good or really bad patient outcomes."

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Are You on the Right Platform? A Conjoint Analysis of Social Media Preferences in Aesthetic Surgery Patients |

Are You on the Right Platform? A Conjoint Analysis of Social Media Preferences in Aesthetic Surgery Patients | | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media has become an indispensable tool for patients to learn about aesthetic surgery. Currently, procedure-specific patient preferences for social media platforms and content are unknown.


To evaluate social media preferences of patients seeking aesthetic surgery.


We utilized a choice-based conjoint analysis survey to analyze the preferences of patients seeking three common aesthetic procedures - breast augmentation (BA), facial rejuvenation (FR) and combined breast/abdominal surgery (BAB). Participants were asked to choose among social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube), information extent (basic, moderate, comprehensive), delivery mechanism (pre-recorded video, live-video, photographs, text description), messenger (surgeon, nurse/clinic staff, patient) and option for interactivity (Yes/No). The survey was administered using an Internet crowdsourcing service (Amazon Mechanical Turk©).


A total of 647 participants were recruited: 201 in BA, 255 in FR and 191 in BAB. Amongst attributes surveyed, participants in all three groups (BA, FR, BAB) valued social media platform as the most important (30.9%, 33.1%, 31.4%), followed by information extent (23.1%, 22.9%, 21.6%), delivery mechanism (18.9%, 17.4%, 18%), messenger (16%, 17%, 17.2%) and interactivity (11.1%, 9.8%, 11.8%). Within these attributes, Facebook ranked as the preferred platform, with comprehensive information extent, live-video as the delivery mechanism and surgeon as the messenger as most preferred.


The choice of social media platform is the most important factor for patients, with a preference for comprehensive information delivered by the surgeon via live-video on Facebook. Our study elucidates social media usage in common aesthetic populations, which can help improve aesthetic patient outreach.

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Integrated print/digital campaigns could be what the doctor ordered for pharma marketers


Pharma marketers, like marketers in just about every industry, are pouring more and more of their dollars into digital channels.

A small but growing number are even eyeing new technologies like AR and VR to engage consumers, but according to a new report by CMI/Compas, marketers might not want to ditch traditional channels when it comes to physician engagement.

“While there are always new opportunities in the digital space, there are still plenty of people out there who are still highly valuing print, still highly valuing direct mail,” Kyle Cooper, the associate director of media at CMI/Compas, told Fierce Pharma.

How much do physicians value print? One study incorporated into CMI/Compas’ report found that 66% of healthcare professionals said print journals were important for staying abreast of new medical developments, making them the third-most important medium.

CMI/Compas believes that print’s staying power might ironically be a result of the sea of digital resources physicians and other healthcare professionals have access to. Because print publications, including journals, have traditionally been seen as reputable, trusted sources of information, members of the medical community still seek them out, meaning they can, if used correctly, offer pharma marketers the ability to cut through the digital clutter.

That’s an especially big deal for pharma marketers given that physicians are increasingly elusive.

Interestingly, CMI/Compas found that the appeal of print exists across generations. According to CMI/Compas’ Cooper, millennial physicians, for instance, peruse print just as much as Gen X physicians.

Millennial physicians peruse print as much as Gen X

How pharma marketers can maximize the print opportunity


To make the most of print campaigns, pharma marketers need to do a number of things.

Target the right publications and deliver the right messages

The need to target the right channels – in this case print publications – and deliver messaging relevant to the target audience is just as critical in the print realm as it is in the digital realm.

This said, while bigger is often better online, that apparently isn’t the case in print. Specifically, CMI/Compas found that when larger ads were used across journal ads with eight different target audiences, prices shot up but gains didn’t. As a result, it suggests that pharma marketers consider running smaller ads at higher frequencies.

Integrate digital

There’s no reason pharma marketers should treat print campaigns as being separate from their digital campaigns. In fact, in many if not most cases, they’ll want to do the opposite by using print campaigns to support broader campaigns in other channels, including digital.

For example, print ads can drive traffic to digital properties on which pharma marketers can make calls to action, such as submitting a form to access additional content. To track the performance of print ads and ensure accurate attribution, pharma marketers should ensure that their print ads use custom campaign-specific URLs.

Focus on what physicians want

In trying to leverage print ads to drive physicians to digital channels in which they can be further engaged, pharma marketers need to ensure that they have a good understanding of what physicians want.

While pharma’s reputation, even among physicians, has taken a hit in recent years, physicians have expressed an interest in content produced and distributed by pharma. Specifically, physicians have indicated that they are interested in efficacy and outcome data, as well as clinical guidelines. Unfortunately, according to Deloitte, many pharma companies are failing to take advantage of this.

Integrated print-digital campaigns give pharma marketers the perfect opportunity to change that.

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FDA Taps Social Media to Identify and Assess Emerging Drug Abuse Threats

FDA Taps Social Media to Identify and Assess Emerging Drug Abuse Threats | Social Media and Healthcare |

As the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tackles the opioid crisis head on, one of the organization's goals is to identify emerging trends of drug abuse and intervene more quickly. A perspective piece published in the New England Journal of Medicine highlighted the tools the agency will use to evaluate these shifting patterns of substance abuse and reduce public risk. 

The agency continues to battle the nation's opioid problem even as it looks to detect and prevent the next threat. Douglas C. Throckmorton, MD; Scott Gottlieb, MD; and Janet Woodcock, MD, all of the FDA, noted that the agency is committed to using a multifaceted approach of pharmacovigilance that allows it to intercede proactively and effectively to anticipate changes in drug abuse.



For instance, use of gabapentinoids tripled between 2002 and 2015, raising concerns about possible abuse. To determine why usage patterns are shifting, the FDA turned to social media, tracking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, and forums to monitor for conversations about opioids and other substances. Sources include online forums that deal with drug abuse, such as and This surveillance revealed a shift between 2013 and 2017, from discussions about the legitimate use of gabapentinoids to discussions on the misuse and abuse of these drugs.

The agency is also investigating healthcare databases to determine the adverse consequences of using gabapentinoids in combination with opioids or benzodiazepines, which include respiratory depression. Data indicate that more than half of patients receive a gabapentinoid along with an opioid analgesic.




Another example of change in drug use is the emergence of kratom, which is available online and in stores specializing in tobacco and marijuana paraphernalia. Calls to poison control centers regarding kratom exposure have increased 10-fold since 2010. As a result, the FDA investigated kratom and found that it contains compounds that have opioid properties. Injuries and deaths have been associated with kratom use.

Changes have also been identified in the use of loperamide, a common over-the-counter opioid product. Loperamide is an effective treatment for diarrhea, but social network data indicate that some individuals have begun using loperamide at very high doses to manage opioid withdrawal or achieve a high. The FDA announced in 2016 that serious heart problems and death can occur in those taking high doses of this drug. The agency has begun working with manufacturers and distributors to limit the amount of drug packaged per sales unit.

The FDA has invested in developing new resources to combat drug misuse and continues to access and mine social media for epidemiologic data that may help it to identify the next wave of drug abuse.


Throckmorton DC, Gottlieb S, Woodcock J. The FDA and the next wave of drug abuse—proactive pharmacovigilanceN Engl J Med. 2018;379:205-207.

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How to Use Video Marketing for Your Medical Device

How to Use Video Marketing for Your Medical Device | Social Media and Healthcare |

It’s no surprise that it’s easier to sell someone on a product or service when you are able to directly communicate with them, face to face. In-person appointments or meetings allow individuals to connect one-on-one with patients and customers to establish trust, build familiarity and establish a sense of comfort and ease. However, in-person sessions are not always an option when time, budget and location are considered.

Video is the next best thing.

Video marketing allows companies to showcase what makes their medical devices special, tell stories of life-changing transformation and show the benefits of the device, not in clinical terms, but in the bright eyes and big smiles of the patients and customers who have been positively impacted most.

Here Are Three Ways To Use Video To Market Your Medical Device:

  1. Testimonial reel: Gather together 3-5 raving fans of the company to speak about why they love this particular device and how it makes a difference for themselves or their patients. When asked how the device has impacted themselves or their patients, they will light up and tell animated stories that will emotionally connect with other prospective customers and patients.
  2. Technical instructions: Create a series of videos that show how to use the device to keep customers and patients engaged, educated and satisfied. Knowing how to use the device and being able to train others or easily reference instructions will increase ease-of-use, reduce frustration and allow for more scalable growth for the company.
  3. Storytelling: The most important aspect of marketing nowadays is the story being told. Healthcare companies have an enormous opportunity to capture the life-changing devices being utilized each day to improve the lives of customers and patients. Use those stories to fuel marketing messages via interviews and before and after cases.
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How much health information on social media is safe to consume? »

How much health information on social media is safe to consume? » | Social Media and Healthcare |

Because social media is free and accessible, everyone’s putting out tips and knowledge on virtually everything. Including your grandma (WhatsApp, duhh). In the same way, information in specialised fields like medicine and healthcare have now been made available, and medical practitioners have tapped into the social media health tips grapevine.

People are actively discussing health issues on social media, whether it’s endometriosis or a migraine, and Nigerian Twitter especially has valorised  healthcare professionals into the internet’s hall of fame. Last year, I listened to a radio show wherein Dr. Ola Brown (@NaijaFlyingDr on Twitter) enlightened listeners on breast cancer. “All the information you need is on my pinned tweet,” she said.

Dr. Brown is the founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria, a social enterprise providing air ambulance services to health institutions in West Africa. Her Twitter feed can be a seemingly innocuous tableau of medical information; yesterday, it was about kidney stones. She has inadvertently spawned a whole sub-genre of influencer, the ‘Healthertainer’, a social media influencer who uses humour and their medical knowledge as a way to grow social media audiences. “I shake health tables for a living,” reads the Twitter bio of Dr. Nonso aka Aproko Doctor, who was recently asked about his medical opinion on anal sex by a woman.

Stop anal sex if it becomes painful

— Dr Nonso (Aproko Doctor) (@aproko_doctor) August 28, 2018

But methodology in disseminating health information differs. Dr. Harvey Olufunmilayo, for example, is known for debunking myths and creating meme-inserted Twitter threads. His latest myth-busting attempt was on blue balls, which got a humour-tinged disapproval from men in the context of flouting the “bro code.”

To boys who tell ladies they are having very severe stomach pains from not having sex:
Your day of reckoning has come 

That line is an ABSOLUTE lie 

No man ever gets severe acute stomach ache from not having sex.
And NO, not having sex has NO LONG TERM DAMAGES to a man.

— YourFavOnlineDoctor (@DrOlufunmilayo) August 27, 2018

Medical Twitter, as some call it, has given rise to friendly online relationships between doctors and a hermetically flourishing community. As someone who reads these health tips every day, or come across them in my social media feed, it amazes me how it’s all so beguilingly consumed. It bothers me that anyone can claim they are a trained doctor and propagate dangerous falsehoods. It bothers me, also, that a trained doctor can still propagate or reinforce old-fashioned or out-of-date health practices.

READ MORE: This weekend’s refereeing decision shows its time for the Premiership to embrace VAR

There are three reasons why this new trend of ‘Healthertainers’ is worrying. First, Nigeria is already a country where very few people would go see a doctor at the first sign of illness or distress, public hospitals in Nigeria are horrifying places, many of them have gained the unfair reputation of being death traps. As such social media health influencers circumvent the very important physical examination that is necessary to properly diagnose illness and give diagnoses based on hearsay, which can be dangerous for patients with real illnesses. Second, the ultimate objective of the ‘healthertainer’ is endorsements, either from Non-profit organizations or pharmaceutical companies. There are no ethics or rules that forces these social media doctors to disclose when they are praising a drug or giving a diagnosis that is sponsored by a brand, they could very easily mislead gullible followers who trust their motives are altruistic. Finally, a good number of these ‘Healthertainers’ routinely break doctor-patient confidentiality by telling real stories about patient consultations in their bid to come across as relatable. This is unfair to the patient and in more civilized countries would cost the doctor in question their license.


Social media is bursting with information, and sometimes a little Google consultation can help in separating facts from inaccuracies. WhatsApp, notoriously, is the conduit for all kinds of health-related fake news. Facebook, too. We can’t stop the expanding morass of health information dumped on social media platforms, but we can at least apply a dose of harmless skepticism.

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How pharma is embracing digital - An ex-agency, now pharma side perspective - 

How pharma is embracing digital - An ex-agency, now pharma side perspective -  | Social Media and Healthcare |

I started my career nearly a quarter of a century ago at Boehringer Ingelheim. A 4-year stint in marketing and market research taught me so much and gave me an invaluable start, but left me frustrated, and wondering if the scale of these big pharma organisations, their structure, their history and their regulations would ever allow true innovative thinking to flourish.

Fast forward 20 years, and having spent most of the intervening period working pharma agency side with a focus on digital and technology innovation, pockets of progress along the way did little to fuel the fire of my expectations!

So, when I joined GSK 9 months ago I asked myself 2 big questions;

  1. What really makes pharma so slow to adopt innovative ways of thinking?

  2. Is pharma aware of the changing world around them and doing something about it?


Why so slow? The Big Bus

I’m in a global role at one of the bigger pharma companies, and only now do I appreciate the sheer scale of these operations. People who work in pharma companies are busy. They’re busy because they are working on multiple projects at once, and each project has multiple stakeholders involved in it from multiple parts of the business. Some of these projects can feel trivial especially to observers from outside, but of course they’re important to the people involved and are all building blocks of organisations that continue to be successful and highly profitable despite our challenging and changing times.

History, structure and regulations (especially) still weigh heavily and in many cases rightly so, but I almost sense the biggest factor behind the ‘slow’ façade is the word project itself. Without necessarily labelling it, big pharma has always employed a Waterfall approach to how it does business and how it runs projects. This works for pharma and fits with their DNA, but its rigid structure can enable a slow pace of progress.


Addressing the changing world. The Big (Bendy) Bus

Pharma has embraced digital and innovation, I don’t think anyone would disagree, but it is also fair to say that to date they have done so at a somewhat slow and steady pace compared with many other business sectors.

Looking out from the inside now, I must say that awareness of the changing world is high and that this is married with a commitment to change and innovate along with it.

New partnerships are being formed, expertise is being brought in from outside pharma and innovation hubs are everywhere to be seen. The biggest change for me though goes back to that word project.

‘Agile’ is a term that has been around for a long time now, but one I really see taking roots now….and the right roots at that! No longer just seen as a ‘techy’ way of running projects, but seen as the ethos it should be running through a business. A way of working that allows flexible thinking to flourish and a test & learn approach to be applauded.

This is leading to a real change in the pace that digital and innovation is being embraced by pharma, and I think everyone involved in the industry should be excited about this. From the very top, pharma is beginning to embrace this new way of thinking. It will take time. The front of the bus is already bendy, but I believe the rest will catch on sooner than you might think!

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UK pharma Code of Practice to change with digital times - 

UK pharma Code of Practice to change with digital times -  | Social Media and Healthcare |

K pharma industry organisation the ABPI has unveiled proposed changes to its Code of Practice, aimed at reflecting changes industry practices and relations with healthcare professionals.

There are 45 proposed amendments to the Code in total in the consultation, covering a wide range of industry practices. These include the growth of conditional marketing licences, discussions with the NHS about 'service redesign', the certification of digital materials, the provision of services and genetic tests to the NHS, as well as updates to how healthcare professionals are asked to disclosure payments from pharma.

Mike Thompson, chief executive of the ABPI, said: “In the 60th anniversary year of the ABPI Code, the 70th anniversary of the ABPI and the 25th anniversary year of the PMCPA, we are proud to launch this open-to-all consultation.

The ABPI's Mike Thompson

“The views of those we work with are very important to us - including the NHS, health professionals, patient organisations, regulators and government as well as the pharmaceutical industry.

“We look forward to receiving contributions and comments on this important consultation.”

One notable amendment aims to clarify the marketing of medicines granted a conditional licence, an increasingly common occurrence, especially in cancer therapies. The proposed changes clarify that a conditionally approved treatment can be promoted, but that it must be clearly communicated that it is approved on a conditional licence.

Another amendments is looking to free-up the compliance process within pharmaceutical companies.

The current code of practice states that printed promotional material based off an already-certified digital version still requires a subsequent signatory.

However, the new amendment proposes removing this rule, to allow the printed material to be checked by an appropriately qualified person, rather than a signatory.

Speeding up the compliance process was also tried and tested following the Code’s 2016 amendment, which only required one suitably qualified person to sign off on promotional materials, abolishing the previous two-signatories rule.

Despite the close attention paid to complying with Code, some major transgressions still regularly occur. Earlier this year, Martindale Pharma, Pierre Fabre, Janssen and Pharmasure were all named in adverts following serious breaches the Code. These cases included instances of promoting an unapproved medicine and providing healthcare professionals with a hamper of chocolates.

Heather Simmonds, director of the PMCPA, said: “The ABPI Code of Practice is a living document, which is regularly updated. It reflects UK law and other requirements, such as international and European Codes to support high quality patient care. We always welcome views on its content and operation to ensure high standards and that confidence in self-regulation is maintained."

Once the consultation closes, the ABPI Board will agree on final proposals, which will be voted on by the ABPI and member companies. The code is also expected to see further changes next year to remain in line with changes from the IFPMA and EFPIA codes.

The updated code is expected to come into operation at the beginning of January 2019, with a proposed transition period until the end of April 2019.

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Sharing Health Information on Social Media

Sharing Health Information on Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is widely used for exchanging news, photos and opinions. But today, it’s also being used by patients to share health information with their physicians.

Some 65 percent of millennials and 43 percent of all adults think it’s okay to contact doctors about health concerns by posting on their social media pages or through direct messaging, according to a 2018 American Osteopathic Association survey. And 54 percent of millennials and 42 percent of all adults would like to friend or follow their providers on social media. But is that wise?

Aside from privacy issues, social media “can lack the subtle emotions that help give context to information being shared, which can cause the meaning of messages to be misinterpreted,” says Jay Bhatt, DO, the American Hospital Association’s senior vice president and chief medical officer.

But while patients should not send their physician a photo of their rash over Facebook or post private health information, there is some value to connecting with providers online.

A medical practice’s social media presence may provide a window into what the physician or practice values, which allows patients to determine whether those values are consistent with their own, says Vineet Arora, MD, an academic hospitalist at UChicago Medicine.

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What's Next: Engaging HCPs in a Digital World

Ten years ago, fewer than half of physicians owned a smartphone. Tablets were even rarer and finding credible medical information on social media was next to i…
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Facebook, NYU School of Medicine Collaborate to Improve MRIs - 

Facebook, NYU School of Medicine Collaborate to Improve MRIs -  | Social Media and Healthcare |

In an effort to improve healthcare technology, two very different organizations are teaming up—social media giant Facebook and the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine’s Department of Radiology. The two institutions have announced a collaborative research project to improve the speed of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning through the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

MRI scans currently take about 15–60 minutes to complete, compared to seconds-to- minutes for other imaging methods, such as computed tomography or X-ray. NYU and Facebook’s project, called fastMRI, allows for MRI scans that can be completed up to 10 times faster than current MRI methods. While the images produced don’t look like any image a human radiologist could read, the project aims to use AI methods to reconstruct a high-quality radiological image from the partial data that is obtained from a rapid scan.

“Using AI, it may be possible to capture less data and therefore scan faster, while preserving or even enhancing the rich information content of magnetic resonance images. The key is to train artificial neural networks to recognize the underlying structure of the images in order to fill in views omitted from the accelerated scan,” the researchers wrote in a press release. “In practice, reconstructing images from partial information poses an exceedingly hard problem.”

To study the method, a team of engineers, mathematicians, clinicians, and scientists at NYU’s Center for Advanced Imaging Innovation and Research, along with members of the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research group will examine deidentified information from 10,000 clinical cases, including approximately three million MRIs of the knee, brain, and liver from the NYU School of Medicine.

By reducing scan time, the researchers said they hope to reduce scheduling backlogs in rural areas as well as improve comfort for claustrophobic patients, who find MRI scans difficult to endure. In addition, if MRI scans become faster and more accessible, then they may be able to replace imaging methods that expose patients to radiation, the researchers wrote.

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Teens Getting More Plastic Surgery Because Of Social Media

Teens Getting More Plastic Surgery Because Of Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media has been a tool in many aspects of life including how people receive news, inspiration and entertainment. The age gap has also allowed many psychological lanes to build include the increase of anxiety and self-esteem issues in the youth. This week, a study suggests social media has also increased the number of teenagers going under the knife.

On Tuesday (Aug. 28) Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of American Society of Plastic Surgeons, released a breakdown of guidelines surgeons should consider when it comes to the increase in procedures for those under 19-years-old.

Penned by doctors Rod J. Rohrich and Min-Jeong Cho, numbers collected from 2016 show over 229,551 cosmetic procedures were performed in patients under the age of 19. Surgeries increased in 2017 by 11 percent with potential patients showing filtered photos from Instagram and Snapchat as a reference for their dream look.

“The average millennial takes over 25,000 selfies in his or her lifetime, which is astronomical and one of the major reasons for the self-esteem issues in this age group,” the report reads. “The studies show that selfies can lead to overvaluation of shape and weight, dietary restraint, body dissatisfaction, and internalization of the thin ideal in adolescent girls. Moreover, the standard selfies have exaggerated lower facial features such as nasal or lip or chin problems, leading to increased interest in this age group for cosmetic medicine and cosmetic surgery.”

Platforms with filter features like Instagram and Snapchat have indirectly played into how the youth see themselves and how they want others to see them.

Market Watch points out more than 40 percent of surgeons in a recent American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery survey said filters were an incentive for considering surgery.

As a means of guidance, procedures like rhinoplasty, cleft lips, breast reductions for young women with uncomfortably large breasts, and otoplasty (surgery to minimize the appearance of big ears) has been suggested as a standard for teens. It’s also been suggested that female teens should not get breast augmentation until the age of 18 and nose jobs should be considered for boys between 16 and 18 while girls should wait until their between the ages of 15 to 17.

“As the saying goes, ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,’ — this reflects the current dilemma presented to plastic surgeons,” Rohrich and Cho said. “The demand for plastic surgery in adolescents has increased dramatically, despite the controversy over performing plastic surgery procedures in this population.”

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