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.
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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. 

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 Adolescent Perspectives on the Use of Social Media to Support Type 1 Diabetes Management: Focus Group Study 

 Adolescent Perspectives on the Use of Social Media to Support Type 1 Diabetes Management: Focus Group Study  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Background: A majority of adolescents report the use of some form of social media, and many prefer to communicate via social networking sites. Social media may offer new opportunities in diabetes management, particularly in terms of how health care teams provide tailored support and treatment to adolescents with diabetes.

Objective: The aim of this study was to explore the experiences and perspectives of adolescents with type 1 diabetes on the feasibility of social media use as a tool to collaboratively manage their diabetes with their diabetes care team.

Methods: Focus groups of adolescents with type 1 diabetes were conducted in the Seattle metropolitan area in Washington State. Semistructured questions were used to elicit views around the preferred means of communication with the adolescents’ diabetes care team, how to best support diabetes self-management, and how social media could be used outside of the clinic setting by the diabetes care team to engage with adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Qualitative content analysis was carried out, and emergent themes were subsequently mapped onto 4 domains of feasibility, which included acceptability, demand, implementation, and practicality.

Results: Participants included 45 adolescents with type 1 diabetes (mean age 15.9, SD 1.7 years; 58% male; diabetes duration mean 6.2, SD 3.6 years; 76% on insulin pumps; 49% wore continuous glucose monitors; 93% reported use of social media; 84% used smartphones as the primary means for social media access). A total of 7 major topics were identified and mapped onto areas consistent with our focus on feasibility. For acceptability and demand, participants expressed how communication over social media could help facilitate (1) improved communication outside of clinic visits to optimize diabetes management, (2) independence in diabetes self-management, (3) connection to other youth with diabetes for additional diabetes support, and (4) delivery of more timely and personalized care. Addressing implementation and practicality, participants shared the need to (1) ensure patient privacy, (2) maintain professional nature of provider-patient relationship, and (3) recognize that social media is not currently used for medical care by youth with diabetes.

Conclusions: Adolescents with type 1 diabetes expressed interest in the use of social media as a tool to support diabetes management and increase engagement with their diabetes care team. Specific implementation measures around privacy and professionalism should be considered when developing a social media intervention to facilitate communication between adolescents and care teams.

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ASCO’s top tips for social media patient advocacy

ASCO’s top tips for social media patient advocacy | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media offers a wealth of opportunities for patient advocacy groups to engage with the people they serve – especially at conference time – but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.

“Social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others provide advocates with an abundance of useful resources and networking opportunities,” says the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)’s patient information site, Cancer.Net, in its infographic Social Media 101 for Advocates. 

For those just getting started, the infographic shares some simple tips for online communication and highlights the importance of setting goals and having a clear profile.

“Define your motivation for using social media as an advocate. Keep these goals top-of-mind and stay consistent with what you discuss socially,” it notes.

“Tell people about yourself by filling out a profile description and adding your photo. Let people know who you represent, yourself or an organization, and that a retweet/follow is not an endorsement.”

Find your crowd

Once profiles have been established, it’s time to “find your crowd” and make connections, the graphic explains. Top tips include following established not-for-profit organizations and people who share relevant trusted information.

Searching for relevant hashtags and terms can help advocates find like-minded individuals to follow.

When it comes to rules of engagement, Cancer.Net offers four pieces of advice: less is more, start conversations, give credit and love #hashtags – though never use more than two.

Use your own voice

“When you are ready to start posting, use your own voice and share information that you feel comfortable with,” it adds, pointing out it’s wise to avoid over-posting, which can come across as “spamming”.

If relevant, spark discussions with people who share common interests by tagging them in your post, and if re-sharing information from another account, always give credit and ensure sources are credible.

To download the printable infographic, click here.

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How Social Media for Healthcare Marketing Can Engage, Educate Consumers

How Social Media for Healthcare Marketing Can Engage, Educate Consumers | Social Media and Healthcare |

If you’re dealing with healthcare industry clients, you may be understandably hesitant to employ a social media marketing strategy due to privacy and regulatory concerns. But social media for healthcare marketing offers these organizations a unique opportunity to build relationships and inspire trust with their audiences.

Because consumers, on the whole, are aware that they can’t really trust the medical information easily found on crowd-sourced sites or third-party platforms. But because these results are dominating SERPs, this often unreputable information tends to carry more weight than it should—especially as it gets shared on social and passed off as fact.

Healthcare marketers can, and absolutely should, leverage social for battling this misinformation, making sure their audiences are truly educated on the health issues they care about most. Hanging out in the background is no longer an option. By not utilizing this platform, hospitals and clinics may be missing out on terrific opportunities to boost brand awareness and, perhaps more importantly, solidify themselves as the true authorities in what should be their realm.

Here’s how social media marketing can benefit healthcare organizations, along with some smart strategies for social success.


How a Social Media Marketing Strategy Can Benefit Your Organization

Social media marketing offers healthcare organizations several compelling advantages. It’s excellent for raising brand awareness and developing the kind of trust with patients that’s necessary for forming meaningful relationships and long-term loyalty. Patients that engage with a healthcare organization online, and find value in these interactions, are more likely to turn to that same organization when they need medical services.

People are already actively searching for health information on social media channels, and healthcare organizations can proactively respond to this need by consistently delivering value to patients in this space. Hospitals and providers can through sharing high-quality content and posts intended to educate consumers—providing knowledge on subjects like how to pick the right treatment option, why preventative care is essential, or what to do before a major surgery, for example.

Healthcare organizations can also use this space to ensure that patients are equipped with the right information when they need to make important decisions about their own healthcare, from getting immunizations to scheduling a screening.

Social listening also allows healthcare organizations to receive timely feedback on products and services, sometimes even generating ideas on how to improve them or identifying timely opportunities to create new products and services that fill an urgent need in the market. Healthcare organizations can also use social monitoring tools to keep a finger on the pulse of trends in the field, while keeping up to date on how the competition is faring. All of these insights can help inform an organization’s content strategy on a continual basis.

A strong social media presence can also raise a healthcare organization’s profile within the industry. Healthcare experts and organizations can demonstrate their thought leadership and expertise through the posts they create and the conversations in which they engage, making valuable connections with industry peers. The relationships forged through these social interactions among industry colleagues can lead to promising business partnerships and open the door to exciting new opportunities.

Tips for an Effective Healthcare Social Media Marketing Strategy

So what is the best way to get started with social media for healthcare marketing? Here are a few strategies for engaging audiences online, along with some examples of how leading healthcare brands have set up their social media presences for success.

1. Position Yourself as a Trusted Source of Healthcare Information

Your audience has healthcare questions they may be afraid to ask, but are probably looking for answers using social media. In fact, eighty percent of adults in the U.S. look for health information online, according to the Pew Research Center. In some cases, they may be truly worried about what they’re experiencing and what it may mean for their lives. Through social media, you can give them the answers they need, providing a service while also establishing your credibility in a public setting. One way to do this is by sharing links to blog posts, video clips, and other helpful forms of content that inform and educate your audience, just as pharmaceutical firm Merck does here:


#HeadAndNeckCancer is a term to describe tumors that develop in or around the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses and mouth. Learn more about the disease and areas where symptoms most commonly occur: #OHANCAW


This tweet is notable because it incorporates several forms of information presentation at once: a brief text description of head and neck cancer, a video clip that visually illustrates areas within the head and neck that may be affected alongside concise bullet points about the condition, and then a link to a fuller story on Merck’s website that combines visually appealing statistics with key information about this form of cancer.


Social posts like these connect with audiences where they are, meeting their need for healthcare information in a variety of creative ways while also establishing the organization’s credibility. After encountering an accessible and engaging introduction to a healthcare issue in bite-size form, consumers may not only feel better informed about it but also motivated to seek further information. And, should they need healthcare services in the future, they are likely to have positive associations with this brand given their prior experience with it on social media.

2. Share Meaningful Patient Stories

Another powerful way to connect with your audience is by sharing patient stories. For example, in honor of LGBTQ Health Week, the NYU Langone hospital shared the story of Wendy Cole who underwent gender affirmation surgery at age 70 after decades spent battling feelings of isolation and attempting to “fix” what she thought was “wrong” with her. It was an incredibly consequential decision requiring a great deal of trust in her healthcare provider, but Cole successfully took this leap of faith and found that she was able to inspire others as a result.

Stories like Cole’s are meaningful because they evoke a sense of possibility and demonstrate that people do not have to suffer through their healthcare challenges alone. In sharing this story of patient success, NYU Langone was also able to communicate its values of inclusivity and community. By showing its commitment to LGBTQ healthcare equality, NYU Langone is making a strong statement that patients can bring their whole selves in for care and expect to be treated with dignity and humanity, whoever they are and whatever their experience might be.

3. Use a Light Touch and Have Some Fun

Particularly in light of the wellness boom, healthcare organizations don’t have to restrict themselves to delivering dry statistics about serious health conditions which people may find alarming. Healthcare marketers have a great opportunity to make their social media content marketing more human and approachable. This makes the experience of engaging with your brand more like a lighthearted conversation with a trusted friend, rather than an impersonal interaction with a faceless entity. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to have fun from time to time, as Anne Arundel Medical Center did with its #AAMCStachie contest on Facebook:

Each November, many organizations raise awareness about men’s health issues on social media using the hashtag #Movember. Anne Arundel took the opportunity to strike a playful tone, inviting people to take a stachie—a selfie of themselves with a real or fake mustache—and post it to the Anne Arundel Medical Center Facebook page along with the hashtag #AAMCStachie. Every week, keeping in line with the mustache theme, one lucky participant won a fifty dollar gift card to the Dollar Shave Club. Not only did the contest perfectly sync with the Movember movement, but it also drove increased traffic to the medical center’s website for men’s health content—further educating the public on common health issues like prostate cancer, testicular cancer, as well as mental health and suicide prevention.

4. Share Timely Information About Events Impacting Public Health

When an urgent event impacts the community you serve, social media can provide your organization with a great way to get the word out about how it’s responding. For example, when severe storms and flooding recently impacted local communities in Tennessee, United Healthcare shared timely information on how its members could make alternate arrangements to access the care that they needed and launched an emotional support line in the wake of the emergency.

UnitedHealth Group

To support those impacted by the recent flooding in Missouri, UHG, @UHC and @Optum are using the Health4Me app to assist members who may need to make alternate arrangements to access care. 

UnitedHealthcare and Optum Take Action to Support People Affected by Flooding in Missouri

UnitedHealthcare and Optum, the health benefits and services companies of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), are taking action to help people affected by recent flooding across parts of Missouri.
See UnitedHealth Group's other Tweets

Social media posts such as this one make it clear that the healthcare insurance company is actively responding to events affecting the community and that it takes measures when urgent situations may prevent people from obtaining services in the way that they normally would. This type of information sharing can position your organization as a trusted resource in which people can turn in moments of crisis as well as for their everyday preventive and ongoing care.

Navigating Social Media Privacy and Regulatory Issues

Even though social media marketing for healthcare offers many benefits, there are a few important things to keep in mind when it comes to privacy and compliance. As healthcare marketers know well, patient privacy is an issue of utmost concern—both from an ethical standpoint as a regulatory one—and healthcare organizations keeping an active presence on social channels should be careful about what they disclose in this very public setting.

For starters, when featuring a patient story on social channels, it’s wise to be absolutely sure that you adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines and that you have the patient’s written consent to reveal the specific personal health information (PHI) that you anticipate sharing. Additionally, you’ll need their documented consent before using any images or videos that someone could use to identify them. Even posts that could be construed as verbal gossip about a patient could run afoul of HIPAA guidelines. As HIPAA Journal points out, your employees must be fully trained on HIPAA social media rules to avoid the possibility of accidental violations.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines may also govern the way you are required to describe risk information and limitations of use about certain drugs. Kim Kardashian found this out the hard way by catching the FDA’s ire for promoting drugs on Instagram not once, but twice. Brands need to be more proactive in

Gartner’s report, How Social Marketers Can Stay Ahead of Emergent Privacy and Trust Conversations (Nov 2018), notes that, “regulatory bodies including the FTC and the ASA are launching investigations into influencer marketing practices. They are updating their endorsement guidelines to ensure that influencer posts funded by brands are clearly cited as such.”

With these new standards in mind, it’s wise to stay on top of any regulatory frameworks such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which may affect your social media marketing activities.


Rose de Fremery is a writer living at the intersection of digital culture and creativity. Originally a technologist by trade, she’s captivated by technology innovation and the promise it offers to spark our unique human capacity for creativity and imagination. Prior to becoming a freelance writer, Rose was the IT Director for an international human rights organization. She also served as Managing Editor for The Social Media Monthly, the world’s first print magazine devoted to the social media revolution. A native of Western Massachusetts, Rose works and lives in Astoria, Queens. Learn more about her at

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How to Use Bariatric Social Media Content

How to Use Bariatric Social Media Content | Social Media and Healthcare |

Looking for weight-loss surgery patients? Post bariatric content to social media!

St. Luke’s Des Peres Hospital in St. Louis, MO engages weight loss surgery patients by posting delicious and nutritious bariatric recipes on their website and social media channels. The hospital also shares articles about the emotional, physical and surgical aspects of bariatric surgery. Bariatric content is developed by Baldwin Publishing to support the MyNewSelf surgical weight loss program.

Each month, the bariatric marketing team at St. Luke’s Des Peres receives a Social Media Guide from Baldwin Publishing filled with bariatric content that aligns with health awareness events and food holidays. The content guide makes it easy for hospital marketers to keep their social media channels filled with content that generates “likes” and clicks. The monthly social media guide includes ready-to-post bariatric content – and a calendar showing just when to post it for the most engagement.

Using social media as a way to drive traffic to the St. Luke’s Des Peres website has really paid off!

Nearly 25% of traffic to the Weight Loss Toolbox – a section of the hospital’s website dedicated to weight loss surgery patient education – comes from Facebook and Pinterest.

The majority of content posted on social media makes good use of the bariatric recipe content licensed from Baldwin Publishing. Pinterest boards show recipes that appeal to weight loss surgery patients.  The MyNewSelf Facebook page also features bariatric recipes, as well as information about upcoming weight loss seminars.

Each recipe posted has been approved by registered dietitians for bariatric diets. Recipes include large mouth-watering photos, step-by-step instructions and nutrition information.  In addition to delicious recipes, site visitors can find information about weight loss surgery procedures, as well as fitness and nutrition information. So far, the most popular bariatric recipe this year is Buffalo Chicken Pizza.

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Only one in five doctors aware of patient feedback about their care online, survey reveals

Only one in five doctors aware of patient feedback about their care online, survey reveals | Social Media and Healthcare |

Around one in five doctors are aware of patient feedback about themselves on review and ratings websites, according to a new survey of health professionals.

Their answers also reveal that GPs felt strongly that online feedback is negative, particularly on social media.

The new study led by the University of Warwick, published today (3 June) in the Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, demonstrates that health service staff are cautious about using online feedback due to assumptions that it will be overwhelmingly negative, potentially missing opportunities to improve care.

Healthcare services use a number of methods to collect information on patient experiences, including surveys and Patient Participation Groups, and policymakers have pushed for greater use of online feedback in addition to traditional sources.

The research is based on a survey of 1001 registered doctors in primary and secondary care and 749 nurses and midwives in the UK. It examined their experience and attitude towards online sources of patient feedback, on sites such as I Want Great Care, NHS Choices (now the NHS website) and Care Opinion.

It found that just 27.7% of doctors and 21% of nurses were aware of feedback online about an episode of care that they had been involved in, while only 20.5% of doctors and 11.1% of nurses were aware of feedback about them as an individual specifically.

Dr. Helen Atherton, from Warwick Medical School, said: "We saw a lack of awareness from healthcare professionals of when feedback had been left about the care they delivered, whether as an individual or team. Overall, awareness and use by doctors is low. But we are seeing that doctors are much more negative about online feedback than nurses, and more so with GPs.

"There's a real need that if NHS organisations are collecting this data that they need to be communicating it to frontline staff, because it's pointless for the patients if their message isn't getting through."

The majority of doctors did not encourage patients to leave feedback and only 38% felt that it was useful in improving services. This is despite previous research showing that online feedback tends to be generally positive towards the health service. The survey also highlighted that healthcare staff were more wary of feedback on social media, with 65.4% of doctors feeling that feedback on social media is generally negative.

Dr. Atherton adds: "Previous research in this area by our team shows that it tends to be more positive than people think. Healthcare organisations should be putting protocols in place for this feedback and developing plans for what to do with it. If healthcare professionals are aware of it and take control of the process a little more by actively soliciting it then it's more likely to be useful to them. There are positive examples of how commentary left by NHS patients on review sites have led to changes in the health service.

"Professionals were more wary of social media than they were of ratings and review websites so these are probably the easiest ways to source feedback in practice. You know where your patient is going and you can pick up comments and act on them, something that is more difficult with social media."

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Social Media Etiquette for Nursing Professionals |

Social Media Etiquette for Nursing Professionals | | Social Media and Healthcare |

While the world of social media is sometimes viewed as the wild west of the internet, the social media posts you make can negatively affect you.

An ER nurse has a rough day at work. When she gets home she vents on Facebook about her exhausting shift, about the drug addict that staggered in, about the drunk that urinated on himself in the waiting area, and how irritable each of her patients were that day. 

Harmless, right? She didn’t mention any names. Didn’t post any pictures. And yet, a ‘friend’ of the nurse who was angry at her, decided to file a complaint with her state board of nursing alleging “unprofessional conduct.” 

Though this is a hypothetical situation, the end result is fairly common. If the nurse does not have her own professional liability insurance, she may not be able to afford a lawyer. And though she probably does not feel she did anything wrong, she could end up plea bargaining with the board and taking a year of probation. Probation appears on your record and can have adverse effects when you apply for a job.

What to Avoid When Posting
Many of us use social media daily to share our lives with friends, colleagues and family. Unfortunately, there are associated risks, particularly for nurses, who are held to a high standard by their state boards. Two areas of risk include: 

  • Unprofessional behavior. Examples include posting photos or comments about alcohol or drug use; profane, sexually explicit, or racially derogatory comments; negative comments about co-workers, and employers; or threatening or harassing comments.
  • Patient privacy and/or confidentiality. Breaches of patient privacy/confidentially can be intentional or inadvertent, with inappropriate postings including patient photos, negative comments about patients, or details that might identify patients.

A Simple Tweet or Text can Result in a Licensing Complaint
Violations of the above risks can result in a complaint being filed against your license with your state board of nursing. Complaints can be filed by virtually anyone, including friends, family, patients, patients’ family members, your employer, even your own spouse.

Licensing complaints are more common than you think. There are almost 30 times more licensing complaints filed against nurses than malpractice lawsuits. Between 2010 and 2014, there were 3,357 malpractice suits filed against nurses and 96,659 licensing complaints.*

Disciplinary actions by your state board can involve; no action, a simple reprimand, fine, continuing education, probation, suspension or permanent loss of licensure.

10 Simple Do’s and Don’ts When Posting, Tweeting, Texting or Blogging
By using caution, nurses can enjoy the benefits of social media without risking the loss of their license and their livelihood. The following tips can help keep your social media content in the clear: 

  • Always maintain patient privacy and confidentiality.
  • Do not post patient photos or videos of patients or identify patients by name.
  • Do not refer to patients in a disparaging manner, even if patients are not identified.
  • Use caution when connecting with patients or former patients via social media.
  • Do not post inappropriate photos, negative comments about colleagues or employers.
  • Never discuss drug and alcohol use.
  • Use social media to post positive comments about your workplace and its staff.
  • Share educational information that may benefit others, such as safety notices and medical news.
  • It is permissible to refer doctors, specialists and healthcare practices.
  • Use social media to enhance the role of nursing in the community, among friends and the public.
  • Remember posting, tweeting, texting and blogging are not private communications and can be used against you in an investigation by your Board of Nursing

Protect Yourself 
Social media is great way to connect with family and friends, but you need to be cautious. If a complaint is filed against your license for whatever reason, your state board of nursing will conduct its own investigation. That could include looking to see if you have a presence on social media. You might be investigated for one reason, and have your situation made worse by comments you made on Facebook, Twitter or in text message.

Nursing professionals need to be aware that online postings are permanent and can negatively affect their license and ability to practice. Think twice before you post content that could be judged as “unprofessional.” 
*National Practitioner Data Bank, Department of Health & Human Services,, October 2016.

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How Smart Dental Professionals Handle HIPAA on Social Media

How Smart Dental Professionals Handle HIPAA on Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Sharing authentic, engaging social media content that features patients while staying 100% HIPAA-compliant isn’t as complicated as you may think.

HIPAA. Even just reading the word may cause dental professionals to feel a little stressed, and understandably so. Its guidelines are strict, but HIPAA is one of the most important protections patients have in place today.

However, in the age of the connected, savvy consumer brought about by the internet and social media, potential patients want a transparent look into what really goes on inside your practice before they make a decision about whether or not to give you a call. They want to see the experiences that real patients are having with you, and how you treat them.

Because of HIPAA, many dental professionals are scared away from sharing anything at all that involves patients, and they miss valuable opportunities to build reach and relationships with patients and ideal potential patients.

HIPAA doesn’t have to be a stumbling block for your dental practice on social media. Remember that the rules are there to protect patients, not create barriers. By adhering to a few common-sense safeguards and making sure your entire team is trained, you can confidently and comfortably share photos, videos, and other posts involving patients as part of your social media efforts.


HIPAA Guidelines for Dental Professionals on Social Media

1. Don’t post protected patient information or circumstantial details. This may seem obvious, but it can happen if team members aren’t thinking about it. Even if you don’t include a patient’s name, assume that a patient’s information can still be traced if you post about the circumstances.

2. Don’t assume information is private. If something is online, chances are that it will stay online in one form or another. Deleting a tweet or removing a Facebook post doesn’t guarantee that information is gone, so it’s essential that dental professionals catch HIPAA violations before they ever make it to social media.

3. Create a practice social media policy. Having a written policy and training your team on it ensures that everyone in the practice is on the same page and familiar with your approach to social media.

4. Make your practice’s “social media champion” someone that understands HIPAA. The fewer people that post to social media on behalf of your office, the better. It’s generally a good idea to only have one or two people in charge of social media for your dental practice. Choose team members that understand HIPAA’s rules and have dedicated time to check social media activity on your pages.

5. Get signed consent from patients first. There may be times where you want to share a
patient testimonial or answer a question sent to you on social media. It’s important to have the patient’s signed consent before posting, and even after receiving consent, keep as much personal information private as possible.

Download our Printable HIPAA Authorization Form

Every time your practice shares any post that includes or refers to a patient, it’s necessary to obtain their signed consent. A good HIPAA release form will cover a few simple items:

1. What the patient is authorizing: permission for your practice to share a photo or video on your social media accounts.
2. The purpose of the authorization: social media and/or advertising.
3. The patient’s power to revoke the authorization and the expiration date of this power.
4. The option for the patient to receive a copy of the form.
5. Who the patient is authorizing: your practice name.
6. Space for the patient, or parent/guardian of a minor, to sign and date.

If you have questions regarding how to create a HIPAA release form for your specific circumstances, consult with your practice attorney.

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Social media and orthodontic treatment from the patient's perspective: a systematic review. 

Social media and orthodontic treatment from the patient's perspective: a systematic review.  | Social Media and Healthcare |


Social media are one of the most common and easily accessible ways of gaining information about orthodontic treatment.


The main objective of this study was to systematically search the literature and determine the various aspects of the interrelationship between social media and orthodontics from the patient's perspective.


Electronic database searches of published and unpublished literature were performed. The reference lists of all eligible articles were hand-searched for additional studies.


Randomized clinical trials (RCTs), prospective, retrospective, and cross-sectional studies were included.


Study selection, data extraction, and risk of bias assessment were performed individually and in duplicate by the first two authors.


One RCT, three retrospective, and four cross-sectional studies were deemed as eligible for inclusion in this review. The studies included patient's statements in social media or results from questionnaires given to patients. The social media reported were with order of frequency: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram. The feelings the patients expressed seemed to be more positive than negative: enthusiasm, self-esteem and pleasure, excitement about the aesthetic result, excitement after braces removal but also antipathy, annoyances, reduced self-esteem, and impatience for removing mechanisms. In addition, one study referred to bullying through Twitter.


The high amount of heterogeneity precluded a valid interpretation of the results through pooled estimates.


This systematic review demonstrated that information about orthodontics, how the patient feels, and other psychosocial facets are spread through social media. It is intuitive that research relating to the effects and impact of orthodontic interventions should account not only for the physical impacts of treatment but also to encompass patient-centered outcomes.

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Infographic: Patient Influencer Perspectives on Social Media

Infographic: Patient Influencer Perspectives on Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

The 100,000+ patients who make up the WEGO Health Patient Leader Network are at the core of everything we do. We believe they are transforming healthcare for the better and it’s gratifying to see more and more life sciences companies recognizing the extraordinary value patients bring to the table. Working with highly engaged advocates and influencers allows us to glean insights that will ultimately help life sciences companies better connect with patient communities. 

Social media is one way to do so. It offers companies a direct and ongoing means to communicate and share information with consumers.  So earlier this year we asked patient influencers to share more about how and why they are using social media. After surveying 412 influencers across hundreds of conditions, we both confirmed some data points we gathered in a previous Behavioral Intent Study and uncovered some new trends.

Some key findings:

  • Facebook is still on top. While nearly  4 in 10 patients (37%)  have changed their privacy settings in light of concerns over their personal data, only 3 in 100 have stopped using Facebook or deleted their account due to privacy concerns. Of those sticking with the platform, the data is unequivocal. Despite Facebook’s business practices, virtually all (98%) patient influencers continue to use Facebook and 9 in 10 say they use it daily. Other social media platforms are gaining ground, but Facebook remains the leader among patient influencers. This is likely due in part to the platform’s group functionality. A whopping 94% of influencers are members of a health-related Facebook group. Facebook is still where patients spend their time, making it essential for companies to engage patients on the platform.
  • Pharma is missing the mark. The primary value of social media is the ability to connect with other patients, but that’s not the only thing influencers are there for. They also access health information and find support by engaging with advocacy organizations and healthcare providers. In fact, 9 in 10 patient influencers follow an advocacy organization and nearly half follow a health care provider. While many pharma companies have a social media presence, only 1 in 5 influencers follow a pharma company, with slightly more following a brand if they are on that specific therapy. They might not be engaging directly, but patients are certainly using social to talk about pharma. Nearly 7 in 10 patient influencers have shared both positive and negative medication experiences. Social media remains a huge opportunity for pharma to engage their audiences and ultimately meet their marketing KPIs.

  • Social absolutely informs patient choices. Our 2016 Behavioral Intent Study found that 87% of patients will ask their physician about a medication if they learned about it from a trusted patient influencer. This year’s landscape survey confirmed that social media still plays a big role in real-world patient behavior. Nine in ten patient influencers say that online communities play at least a “somewhat important” role in their health decisions, with nearly half (48%) saying that online communities play a “very important” or “extremely important” role.
CherryNetwork's curator insight, June 14, 12:47 PM

Patient Influencer using Social Media in healthcare... #esante #hcsmeufr

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Social Monitoring: How the FDA Mined Social Media to Gain Diabetes Insights

Social Monitoring: How the FDA Mined Social Media to Gain Diabetes Insights | Social Media and Healthcare |

When Christine Lee, PharmD, PhD, a health scientist with the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, wanted information about caring for her newborn baby beyond what was captured in parenting books, she turned to social media. She joined a forum for new mothers on Facebook to ask the crowd for advice.

Soon after, she wondered how social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit can be mined for data that could help the FDA’s pharmacovigilance efforts. “I thought, ‘Could I apply the same qualitative research methods traditionally used for focus groups and cognitive interview data to research involving unstructured narrative data in social media?’ ” explained Dr Lee during her grand rounds presentation, “Structuring Unstructured Data: Using New Data Sources to Understand the Needs of Underserved Populations,” presented May 9, 2019, in Washington, DC.

How the FDA Uses Patient Experience Data

The agency’s regulatory mission relies on sourcing new data and methodologies to increase its understanding of patients’ perspectives. The FDA uses patient experience data to inform:

• Clinical trial design

•  Trial end point development and selection

• Regulatory issues, including benefit-risk assessments

To meet patients’ needs, the FDA strives to engage patient stakeholders throughout the life cycle of a medical product. Social media platforms provide a method for capturing meaningful, unfiltered patient insights, according to Dr Lee. It can give the FDA a more comprehensive picture of how medical products function beyond controlled, randomized clinical trials.

The FDA has 2 objectives for engaging patients:

  1. Support the FDA’s and the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research’s goals of understanding the patient’s voice, including their perspectives on conditions and treatments.
  2. Refine qualitative research methods to explore tapping unstructured data with high repeatability.

Social Media Monitoring: Gaining Insight Into Diabetes Therapies

The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health funded a pilot study to analyze social media posts for useful data about minority patients with diabetes and their treatment.

During the last 2 years, the agency used data-mining software to collect, monitor, and analyze more than 100,000 conversations on Twitter. The effort targeted a variety of keywords, including diabetes, glucose, diabetic, and blood sugar. Demographic filters were added to narrow the query. To separate signal from noise, tweets that were classified as cheeky, advertisements, or spam were removed, leaving about 73,000 tweets for analysis. The remaining tweets were scrubbed and formatted, and then natural language processing and machine-based learning were used to help researchers identify trends. This process was also used to uncover trends in FDA Advisory Committee data, and then the 2 data sets were examined.

Improving Diabetes Education Among Minorities

Researchers sought to discern what government organizations, patient advocacy organizations, and pharmaceutical companies share on social media, and whether this information is specific to racial or ethnic minorities. The data revealed several content themes:

• Awareness: 39.9% of tweets analyzed

• Diabetes management: 22.4%

• Risks associated with diabetes: 13.3%

• Diabetes prevention: 7.3%

• Other: 9.1%

“We found that little to no discussions on Twitter were specific to minority groups,” Dr Lee said. “Our research suggests that there is an opportunity to improve outreach to minority groups that is specific to their unique health needs.”

Researchers also concluded that there are gaps in their understanding of minority groups’ perceptions of the risks associated with FDA-regulated prescription drugs, their unique health needs, and level of health literacy.

To gain further insight, researchers mined a sample of Facebook posts from January 2017 to June 2017 that mentioned diabetes. After compiling a list of the top 50 most-liked posts for each month, the content was analyzed to elicit meaning from the collected posts. An extensive codebook was developed to guide this process. The data highlighted the importance of providing a patient-centered approach to care and individualizing care, according to researchers. More specifically, the data demonstrated the importance of:

• Educating patients on how diet and exercise can help them manage their diabetes.

• Improving patients’ awareness about comorbid conditions and teasing out related symptoms.

• Improving awareness about how the link between diabetes and the household environment can increase the risk of developing diabetes.

• Providing patient support and encouraging community engagement to promote healthier environments.

Although Dr Lee was encouraged by the enhanced patient insight she and her team were able to gain from social media posts, she cautions that social media data must be combined with other sources of data, including FDA archives, patient-focused drug development data, public docket comments, advisory council transcripts, focus groups, and listening sessions. According to Dr Lee, the findings of this study suggest that new data sources can increase the understanding of the patient perspective, particularly of vulnerable populations, and can increase confidence in the data that the FDA traditionally collects.

“Social media is a useful data source to gather relevant patient perspectives on barriers and may provide information from populations who may not utilize FDA sources,” Dr Lee concluded.

The FDA also conducted a social media listening pilot project on Reddit to gather data regarding opioid use. The results of this study are under manuscript review and cannot yet be shared publicly.


Lee C. Gaining insight into the patient’s experience by harnessing the power of social listening and FDA archival data. Presented at: FDA Grand Rounds; May 9, 2019; Washington, DC.

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New association ‘overdue’ to support health care providers on social media

New association ‘overdue’ to support health care providers on social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

A call to action

Today, we have come to a time where there is an increased focus on health misinformation along with the potential for social media to truly impact public health. A couple months ago, we started a hashtag campaign on Instagram called, #VerifyHealthcare, sparked by the rise of misinformation and influencers even within health care.

With the influencer phenomenon, there are a lot of other concerns, not just misrepresentation, but other pitfalls whether it’s professionalism issues weighing (or not weighing) what is appropriate to post, HIPAA concerns or even sponsored content issues, which is definitely a new phenomenon in health care social media. There’s a need for guidance on how to disclose conflicts of interest, industry relationships and how to cite medical literature so that patients and the general public can easily digest it.

#VerifyHealthcare focused on encouraging those with decent followings to disclose their training and experience. Additionally, it encouraged their followers to be mindful of who they are trusting. To double- and triple-check the credentials of those they trusted online.

We saw how this hashtag resonated with a lot of people – health professionals and patients alike – and we felt the need to take this a step further. That’s when the idea of creating the Association for Healthcare Social Media (AHSM) arose.

First steps

We are the first professional society for health care social media use. There are other organizations focused on health communications professionals or media professionals, but not for those of us who are practicing medicine, dentistry or nursing and are now using social media to educate others or to build our practices. While Facebook groups or online groups do exist, they’re less formal. AHSM holds 501(c)(3) designation as a formal non-profit group and offers more transparency. This was overdue. There needs to be a more organized effort and the designation is the first step to move from informal conversations on an individual level to a concerted force in public health to engage more effectively with other organizations and institutions.

All of us felt that no matter our purpose for using social media, it has a public health impact and to have the positive impact we want to see, we need to come together.

The 15 of us who started this were already heavy social media users, often on Instagram, but also Twitter, YouTube and other platforms. We started with #VerifyHhealthcare and became the founding members for AHSM.

Specialties represented on our board of directors include ophthalmology, OB/GYN, facial plastic surgery, dermatology, pediatrics, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, GI, pulmonary medicine, critical care and more. Our advisory council has MD doctors, DO representation, nurse practitioners, a psychologist and also the New Jersey health commissioner. We want to continue to diversify and aim to represent the breadth of medicine.

It’s important for everyone to be involved because if you are online talking about health in any way, shape or form, then you should really be aware of how to safely and properly do so.

Changing landscape

It’s interesting how the landscape of social media has changed. In the past, it was a casual forum or creative outlet. Increasingly, many have used it in other productive ways, whether it’s education, discussion or business. We wanted to highlight all of that, but ensure that there’s no danger to health professionals’ careers or patient health.

There’s been a lot of media attention on various aspects of health and social media, whether it be health misinformation or this influencer phenomenon where even physicians have been accused of hiding paid vacations or rewards for promoting certain products in their social media.

Conflicts of interest and industry relationships are not new to medicine, but the way it’s intersecting with social media is new. In this day and age, with the rise of fashion influencers, fitness influencers, etc., health influencers have also arisen. At the end of the day, what impact does this have on the general public and public health? We want to investigate and address this.

Additionally, we observed students, health professionals or medicine-adjacent individuals who said that they were physicians or other health professionals but did not have the training to support that. This was concerning given some of their large social media followings.


Social media has far more benefits than most people, especially health professionals, often perceive but with that, also many pitfalls than previously imagined. Because our reputations and our identities are so digital and vulnerable to missteps, it’s important to inform ourselves on how we navigate all of this but we also want to help people understand its benefits. We need more health professional champions to serve as an examples of how social media can elevate one’s career, serve as a networking device, and create a niche in one’s field.

There are so many different ways that social media can be used and the diversity of our board of directors demonstrates the full spectrum – whether it’s using one platform to promote another, to create businesses or to create an organization.

Those of us that founded AHSM met on social media. I couldn’t think of a better example or a better way for a group of 15 individuals spread across specialties and all over the country to come together and within 3 months, incorporate a new organization, get 501(c)(3) designation and do all of this. It’s a testament to the power of social media.

Social media is pervasive now for every field and every specialty.

At this point, the AHSM has more than 400 paying members. This is not just for gastroenterology where I practice. This is not just for doctors. This society and this movement are for everyone in the health care field. There may be unique considerations for nurses, optometrists, physician assistants or other health care roles, so we want to encourage those folks to join and contribute.

How to join

If you look into us now, we have a few best practices for social media laid out, but we’re going to keep developing, editing and evolving them. All of this can be found on our website,

It’s still a work in progress, we recognize that, but we can’t build a professional society overnight. We have early adopter rates until mid-June.

There has been a lot of interest from patients as well as people not working directly in health care, but adjacent to it such as care managers or care navigators for insurance companies. I think it’s important for them as well as patients and patient advocates to be involved, but we are concentrating on physicians and other health care providers for now. There is an open access section for patients on the site.

Right now, there is a disconnect. There isn’t much incentive for health professionals to get online and share health knowledge about what they do. The currency today is still academic journal publications, which is usually not where the general public receives their health knowledge. We aim to shift that, ever so slightly.

What AHSM needs is people who are medically trained, to talk about what they do on social media platforms, but it’s hard to get people to do something when there’s no obvious reward.

Looking ahead

We want other physicians to understand this is not just a social group. We are good at doing this and we want to share and train others on a professional level.

At this time, we’re solidifying our structure and curating content. We are planning a symposium scheduled for the first weekend in November. It will be our first event bringing everyone together, as a precursor to a bigger conference down the road. We want to host annual events just like any other medical organization and bring in key speakers to discuss various aspects of what they do on social media.

AHSM will stay abreast of the latest in health care social media. There are going to be new platforms for social media in the future and what we are doing now will evolve and change with the ebb and flow of social media. The goal is to capture all existing platforms because we don’t know which ones will stick around or change. We’re not talking about social media in terms of only Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but also YouTube and podcasting as growing forums. We also invite med students and people in training, nursing students, etc., because they’re likely to be at the front lines when it comes to what’s newest in the social media world.

At the end of the day it’s not for everyone. But especially for the younger generation, it has an impact and it has the potential to really help your business or practice.

We envision AHSM as a medical organization, like the American College of Cardiology or American Gastroenterological Association. We want to really legitimize what we’re doing and help academic institutions, other professional societies and industry partners to understand the value of social media contributions and see it as a valuable public health tool that deserves more recognition.

Disclosure: Chiang is the chief medical social media officer for Jefferson Health in Philadelphia.

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Social media sponsored content for healthcare practices

Social media sponsored content for healthcare practices | Social Media and Healthcare |

Once upon a time, organic social media content was enough to reach your patient base, but that is no longer the case. Algorithm changes at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have caused a sharp decline in the visibility of businesses’ social media content. Therefore, it’s not surprising that more than half (53 percent) of companies use social advertising — i.e., paid advertising on social networks — according to Hootsuite.

If you’re not quite sure what sponsored content is — let alone how to take advantage of it — you’re not the only one. Read on for an overview of sponsored content and why your healthcare practice needs to start using it to succeed on social media.

What is sponsored content?

When reviewing medical social media strategies, the term sponsored content has probably come across your radar. This consists of paid social media content purchased and shared by a business. These posts appear in your newsfeed, along with content shared by accounts you follow.

This technique is also commonly referred to as native advertising — i.e., matching ads to the platform they’re posted on. A creative marketing tool, these ads look like other content shared on the site and engage users by allowing them to like and comment on the posts.

Check out: How to engage on social media with HIPAA in mind

Impact of sponsored content

Sponsored content spreads brand awareness and builds trust. Not just a way to reach more people on social media, this form of advertising allows you to specifically target your ideal patient base.

When you’re able to get in front of an audience interested in the services you’re offering, you get results. For example, one-third (33 percent) of people are most engaged by social media content that teaches them something, according to a survey conducted by Sprout Social. Additionally, 65 percent of people who engage with a social media advertisement will click through to learn more about the topic at hand and 23 percent will follow the brand.

Data from the Pew Research Center revealed that more than two-thirds (69 percent) of U.S. adults have a Facebook account and 37 percent use Instagram. Considering these statistics, it’s not surprising that social media ad spending in the U.S. is expected to exceed $99 billion in 2019, according to Statista. Other businesses are clearly catching on to its importance, so you can’t afford to ignore it.

Look: The 10 best doctor accounts on Instagram

The issue with organic content

If your healthcare social media strategy is working well enough, you might be hesitant to start including sponsored content. This is understandable, but as noted above, organic content is losing its edge.

For example, in January 2018, Facebook announced an algorithm shift designed to make newsfeeds more about meaningful interactions with people users care about. Consequently, traditional marketing content now appears less frequently in newsfeeds.

According to HubSpot, organic reach on Facebook will eventually plummet to zero. If your practice is going to have a presence on the site, using sponsored content is the only route that makes sense.

Since changing algorithms are causing a major decline in organic reach on several social media platforms, there’s never been a better time to explore sponsored content. In fact, Hootsuite referred to this approach as one of the best ways to reach your audience.

More than 3 billion people across the world use social media on a monthly basis, according to researchconducted by Hootsuite and We Are Social. Therefore, it’s easy to conclude that most of your patient base has a presence on these sites. Don’t miss your chance to connect with them.

The importance of social media in healthcare cannot be emphasized enough. PatientPop realizes this and is proud to offer our customers a social media service. Consisting of a combination of organic posts and sponsored content, our service is designed to get results. If you need help reaching your target patient base on social media, PatientPop can help.

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How Has the Nature of Patient Support Changed?

How Has the Nature of Patient Support Changed? | Social Media and Healthcare |

From in-person support groups to online support groups to social media "groups" - vestibular patients are connecting with their peers in many ways.

Before the internet the only way for vestibular patients to connect with others was through in-person support groups. Support groups provide a unique and critical service: acceptance. This forum allows individuals to ask questions and to learn in a non-judgmental and safe environment. Participants know that everyone attending the support group meeting understands and has compassion for the functional difficulties of getting through each day. As a result, less frustration and energy are spent on proving or defining limitations. More energy is available for appreciating the character and companionship offered by others, and recognizing personal self-worth.

Unfortunately, there aren’t enough brick-and-mortar support groups to meet the needs of all vestibular patients. In addition, some patients cannot attend an in-person support group, either because they can’t leave their house due to the nature of their symptoms, or due to transportation limitations.

Recognizing this need, VeDA’s volunteer Patient Support Committee started organizing online support groups, which meet “live” via video conference or phone.

Social media has spurred other ways for vestibular patients to connect. There are several “closed groups” on Facebook facilitated by vestibular patients looking to give people a place to share their experiences and get feedback and support from their peers. The beauty of these groups is that people can access them whenever it is convenient for them. One such group called “Vestibular Disorders Support Group” has grown to over 8,700 members; with so many participants, there is a great deal of shared knowledge and experience.

Karen shared her experience of participating in this group:

"Last August I hit bottom on this vestibular journey. I had seen 7 doctors, all of whom looked at me like they wished I was in anyone else’s office besides theirs.  I had just quit my job teaching, which was the center of my world. Being divorced and having grown children living out of state, I was alone with this challenge. There was no one that really understood or even quite believed what I was going through. As I continued to search for answers and a diagnosis (vestibular migraine with cervicogenic features) I turned to the Internet for information. Luckily I found VeDA and the Vestibular Disorders Support Group on Facebook. I can remember the joy I felt discovering that other people had similar experiences. And best of all, they were sharing ideas, successes, frustrations and most of all, compassion. I was stunned that I was not alone with this disorder. The time I have spent talking with people on the Facebook support group has been a complete lifesaver. Many days they were the only conversations I had. As I’ve continued on this journey, finally finding a diagnosis, good physical therapy and making lifestyle changes, VeDA has been at the center of my support. The information VeDA provides is invaluable in learning about and coping with this disorder. Just knowing that anytime I check in with the Facebook support group there are people who understand makes me feel once again connected to the world. Thank you for the help, the information, the connections and the hope."

There are also ways to connect with other vestibular patients one-on-one. VeDA donors can join “V-Pals” – a pen pal network. Members of V-Pals receive a monthly email with a list of the names and email addresses of other patients that they can reach out to.

Whatever type of support network that works best for you, remember, you are not alone.

You can search for a support group in your area, or sign up for V-News, VeDA’s free monthly e-blast to receive a listing of upcoming support group meetings.

Online support groups are also available

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The role of the chief medical social media officer

The role of the chief medical social media officer | Social Media and Healthcare |

The antidote to fake health news? According to Austin Chiang, the first chief medical social media officer at a top hospital, it’s to drown out untrustworthy content with tweets, pics and posts from medical experts that the average American can relate to.

Chiang is a Harvard-trained gastroenterologist with a side passion for social media. On Instagram, where he refers to himself as a “GI Doctor,” he has 20,000 followers, making him one of the most influential docs aside from TV personalities, plastic surgeons and New York’s so-called “most eligible bachelor,” Dr. Mike.


Every few days, he’ll share a selfie or a photo of himself in scrubs along with captions about the latest research or insights from conferences he attends, or advice to patients trying to sort our real information from rumors. He’s also active on TwitterMicrosoft’s LinkedIn and Facebook (which owns Instagram).

One of Chiang’s social media campaigns
Austin Chiang

But Chiang recognizes that his following pales in comparison to accounts like “Medical Medium,” where two million people tune in to the musings of a psychic, who raves about vegetables that will cure diseases ranging from depression to diabetes. (Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop has written about the account’s creator glowingly.) Or on Pinterest and Facebook, where anti-vaccination content has been far more prominent than legitimate public health information. Meanwhile, on e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay, vendors have hawked unproven and dangerous health “cures, ” including an industrial-strength bleach that is billed as eliminating autism in children.

“This is the biggest crisis we have right now in health care,” said Chiang. “Everyone should be out there, but I realize I’m one of the few.”

According to Chiang, doctors have historically been reluctant to build a following on social media for a variety of reasons. They view it as a waste of time, they don’t know how, or they fear they might say the wrong thing and get in trouble with an employer. Others prefer to spend their time communicating with their peers via academic journals.

But as Chiang points out, most consumers do not pore over the latest scientific literature. So health professionals need to take the time to start connecting with them where they do spend their time — and that’s on Facebook and Instagram.


So he’s working to recruit an army of physicians, nurses, patient advocates, and other health professionals to get online. He’s primarily starting on his home turf at Jefferson Health, and with other doctors in his specialty. He was appointed to his “new and unique role” in the summer of 2018, which he got after a series of conversations with the health system’s CEO Stephen Klasko.

Klasko is a physician and avid social media user himself, with both professional and personal accounts. He’s also a notorious straight-talker in the industry who openly discusses some of the more broken aspects of the heath-care system online and at conferences, including things like the inflated costs and the flaws of medical education.

Jefferson Health’s Steve Klasko walking through campus.
Jefferson Health

In his new role, Chiang has been thinking about guidelines for health professionals on how to use the new digital tools, including things like disclosing any conflicts of interest. He thinks that more transparency about ties to industry will help doctors garner trust with the public. To spread these ideas, he’s set up a new group for health professionals dubbed the Association for Healthcare Social Media.

He’s also attempted a few hashtag-driven public awareness campaigns, including one called #verifyhealthcare to promote these ideas about disclosures, and another called #dontgoviral to counter anti-vaxxer content.

Klasko, Chiang’s CEO, sees a direct business benefit to having Jefferson’s approximately 3,000 doctors participating on social media.

“Everyone under the age of 35 uses Facebook and Instagram as a vehicle, and I want them to see Jefferson as a partner in their health so they’ll think of us” he said.

More broadly, he shares Chiang’s concerns about the proliferation of health misinformation. Measles cases are climbing, with outbreaks across the country, which many health professionals chalk up to parents refusing to vaccinate their children. That’s one of the reasons that Klasko chooses to be so active online and with the media, so that people who want to access accurate information can find it.

“Imagine if it would be easier to access The National Enquirer than The Washington Post,” he said. “I fear that that’s what is happening in health care right now.”

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Viewpoint: Physicians' frustrated social media posts may lower patient confidence

Viewpoint: Physicians' frustrated social media posts may lower patient confidence | Social Media and Healthcare |

Though venting about colleagues, stress levels and lack of sleep on social media can serve to humanize physicians, that humanization can also undermine patients' "noble" perception of the medical profession, according to medical ethicist Daniel Sokol, PhD.

In a new article for STAT, Dr. Sokol discussed the recent trend of physicians openly sharing online their experiences crying at work, losing their temper with coworkers and even making clinical errors. Tweets and Facebook posts like this contribute to a drop in patient confidence in the entire profession.

"A loss of confidence in doctors brings a greater inclination for patients to challenge, complain, and sue," he wrote. "Moreover, it risks the loss of the placebo effect borne from seeing doctors, whose very presence can be reassuring."

Therefore, Dr. Sokol concluded, "Those tempted to share insights into the working life of doctors on social media must ask themselves whether the benefits of this candor outweigh the possible harms to their own reputation and to the image of the medical profession as a whole. This restraint forms part of medical professionalism."

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Doctors should use social media with restraint

Doctors should use social media with restraint | Social Media and Healthcare |

More than a century ago, Sir William Osler — probably the most celebrated doctor in modern history — gave a lecture to medical students in which he referred to doctors as belonging to “the great army of quiet workers”whose voices are not heard in the streets but who offer “consolation in sorrow, need, and sickness.” The best doctor, Osler noted, is often the one of whom the public hears the least.

Nowadays, doctors are heard loud and clear by all and sundry. Social media is brimming with doctors and medical students opening their hearts, sharing their frustrations, and venting their anger.

We can read tweets from doctors who describe how they cried at work, struggled with lack of sleep, lost their temper with incompetent colleagues, and even made mistakes. Are airplane pilots equally open, I wonder?


In a different address, this one to newly minted doctors at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Osler said that “in the physician or surgeon no quality takes rank with imperturbability.” He described imperturbability as a physical quality — a steadiness of hand and coolness of nerve under pressure which reassures patients and colleagues.


For Osler, the mental equivalent of imperturbability was equanimity: serenity of mind. This mental composure could be ruffled by patients, overwork, and the uncertainty of medicine. Yet attaining equanimity would enable a doctor “to rise superior to the trials of life.”

Osler observed that these two qualities should be used judiciously and not harden the human heart by which we live.

Since Osler’s time, the public perception of doctors has changed. Their descent onto the bustling crowds of social media is likely to have played a part. With greater openness about physicians’ vulnerabilities and fallibilities, the mystique of the medical profession is fading. The Oslerian emphasis on imperturbability, equanimity, and quiet dignity has given way to the doctor as Everyman, prone to the same weaknesses as all of us.

Doctors, who hitherto got things off their chests in private, now bellow their discontent to the world. This may be therapeutic and may humanize doctors, but it risks undermining public confidence and damaging the nobility of the medical profession. A loss of confidence in doctors brings a greater inclination for patients to challenge, complain, and sue. Moreover, it risks the loss of the placebo effect borne from seeing doctors, whose very presence can be reassuring.



Younger doctors have grown up with social media. They tweeted as students and now do so as doctors. Some of their older colleagues have also embraced this newfound freedom to instantly share their views to the world, contributing to lifting the veil on the inner life of doctors.

Those tempted to share insights into the working life of doctors on social media must ask themselves whether the benefits of this candor outweigh the possible harms to their own reputation and to the image of the medical profession as a whole. This restraint forms part of medical professionalism.

I am surprised, for example, by how common it is for doctors to criticize colleagues on Twitter. The American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics states that physicians who identify unprofessional content on social media “have a responsibility to bring that content to the attention of the individual” and may need to report the matter to “appropriate authorities.”

Doctors must assume that their patients, relatives, and colleagues — past, present and future — will read their posts. This knowledge should help triage appropriate posts from inappropriate ones.

Daniel Sokol, Ph.D., is a London-based bioethicist and lawyer specializing in medical law. He is the author of “Tough Choices: Stories from the Front Line of Medical Ethics” (Book Guild, 2018). An earlier version of this article was published by the Hippocratic Post.

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8 ways to generate great blog posts from doctors

8 ways to generate great blog posts from doctors | Social Media and Healthcare |

A couple of years back, I was asked to help my hometown, big city newspaper build a health and science section on its website—an ambitious project that included recruiting numerous health experts to blog. Researchers. Scientists. Professors. Lawyers. Patients. Doctors. Lots of doctors.

We were pretty excited when we managed to bring on board the team doctors from every major sports team in the city. But the excitement eased a bit when we slammed into a painful reality: Recruiting experts to blog is one challenge. Teaching them to produce readable—even compelling—blog entries is a whole different ballgame.

In the hope of saving you similar pain, here are some tips learned the hard way on how to coax strong content from doctors and other health providers:

Add patient stories.

I remember talking with an adolescent health specialist early on who wanted to write an entry about teen pregnancy. Her draft made good points, but it was only when she added a story about a confused 14-year-old patient that it came to life. Stories are how humans learn and connect. Doctors and nurses spend their days on the front lines and have great stories to share. They often shy away from them, though, to protect privacy. Yes, there are privacy concerns in naming names and providing recognizable details, and you need to take them seriously. But that shouldn’t prevent you from finding a way to use patient stories either by asking for permission or disguising specifics to protect identities.

Take the reader behind the scenes.

There’s a reason why there are so many medical shows on TV. Medicine is a fascinating world, and doctors perform miracles every day. It is routine to them. It isn’t to us. Let us in on it. Share the drama. Take us into the E.R., the surgical suite, the examining room. Talk about emotions. The patient’s family was crying. The nurse was smiling. Offer those little details that bring the scene to life. Give the reader some insight, a glimpse into that world.


Don’t limit the blog to words.

Blogs are wonderfully flexible tools for communicating. Video, audio, photos—especially photos—can all work in a blog. Use them all, when appropriate. Teach your experts to think about the various assets at their disposal. We spent several hours following a therapy dog on his rounds through a local rehabilitation facility. The resulting photo essay —complete with smiling faces and wagging tails—pulled in a huge audience and told the story much more effectively than text ever could.

Add personality, even humor.

Encourage your writers to provide personal details. One emergency department nurse would send dry entries about the administrative issues she dealt with. Over and over. You work in the ER, I would plead. Share that experience with me. Give me a window into that life as a way of explaining the administrative issues, which are certainly important. Tell me the kind of stories that start with “You would not believe what happened today.” Encourage your expert bloggers to use first person, to talk about themselves, their background, their family. It will strengthen the connection with the reader, which is a major part of the power of social media.

Teach them all the blogging tricks you know.

We wrote a brief email for each new recruit listing all of those lessons that most PR pros already know: Use lists and bullet points because people tend to scan, illustrate your points with examples, write in first person, actively invite comments, don’t lecture—invite conversation, etc. Those tips and more like them helped nudge our fledgling blog writers toward the sort of entries we were hoping to publish.

Share the numbers.

If a blog entry garners impressive traffic, make sure you let the expert bloggers know. It will energize them for next time and will keep them focused on topics that patients want to hear about. Gently let them know when an entry is a dud, as well, all in the interest of building a readership. No one wants to launch their blog entry into the silence of deep space.

Respond to comments.

Let your bloggers know upfront you expect them to respond to comments, when appropriate. Readers will be more engaged if they see the doctor is paying attention to thoughtful comments. Don’t expect the experts to track the comments. That is your job. But alert them when there is something they should respond to. Thoughtful comments are the holy grail of blogging and provide a great way to keep the conversation going. One blog entry we ran on breastfeeding ended by asking readers about the most unusual place they had nursed their child. That led to more blog entries and lots of energetic discussion. A whole series prompted by reader comments.

Know when to quit.

Some experts—a lot of doctors fall into this category—are either not strong writers or don’t have the time it takes to craft engaging blog copy. That’s OK. Their skill is medicine. That’s where we as patients want them focused. Make it easy for them. The best solution is often to interview them, especially if you have a tight deadline. Run it as a Q&A with an expert, a format that is often more readable and interesting than an entry written by an expert. One morning when a local baseball player was sidelined with a knee injury we tracked down our knee expert, interviewed him and had a blog entry up within an hour or two of the news, much quicker than had we waited for him to write a blog entry.

A couple of years into blogging, a patient safety expert took a chance and wrote an entry for us on a young patient who died after swallowing medication patches. It was a harrowing story and well out of the range of items he typically wrote, but it garnered the most traffic he ever received and a featured spot on the main newspaper homepage. Doctors, nurses, researchers can all provide great expert content like that. They just might need some gentle handholding to get there.

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Social media can help doctors stay up to date

Want to have influence on social media? Dr. Amber Yates advises physicians to be authentic. “People want to see that you’re a person and not strictly
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Dispelling Medical Myths with Social Media

Dispelling Medical Myths with Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

As a pediatric allergist, I meet families from all types of backgrounds who share concerns about common childhood conditions such as asthma, environmental allergies, food allergies and eczema. These topics generate quite a few questions from primary care colleagues and other specialists. One of the best parts of my job is explaining complicated matters of the immune system to people with various levels of medical knowledge.

After just a few years in practice, I recognized common questions and areas of misconception from both parents and medical providers. With my understanding of the evidence and research surrounding allergic conditions, I was initially dumbfounded at some of this incorrect information and was amazed at how often the same myths kept coming up repeatedly.

In 2013, I joined social media as a medical professional with the purpose of circulating evidence based information. This gave me even more insight into the pervasiveness of common myths. I learned that it was not just the folks in my own backyard holding onto false beliefs, but apparently, “fake news” was bombarding the whole world!

My online and personal interactions have taught me so much about communication, the importance of evidence-based information and the way in which people search for things. We all use common search engines to look for information online and the majority of people search online for health related information as well.

After repeatedly hearing the same myths and misconceptions, I did something that changed my approach forever. I started searching online from the perspective of a patient. In addition to using PubMed to look for peer-reviewed publications and research surrounding a topic, I entered the same topic in Google. You will not be shocked to learn that the results were drastically different.

Online searches for common allergic conditions returned sites filled with pseudoscience, promises of false cures and miracle treatments and a host of people deliberately peddling misinformation to profit from their products or services. I now have a deep appreciation for the deluge of inaccurate content that anyone faces when searching online for medical information. There are many reputable sites, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell those apart from the imposters.

My favorite allergy myths are:

  1. I have a ‘hypoallergenic’ cat or dog. These magical creatures don’t exist. All cats and dogs release dander, which causes allergy symptoms.
  2. My allergy test says I’m deathly allergic to ____. Allergy tests can only be used to indicate the likelihood of an allergy being present, not the severity of future reactions.
  3. People with shellfish allergy cannot receive contrast media. This is completely made up and there is zero reason to ask or avoid.
  4. Eating local honey can treat pollen allergies. I love honey as much as the next person, but it will not treat allergy symptoms. The pollen bees collect comes from different plants than what causes seasonal allergy symptoms. In addition, if someone with allergies ate what they were allergic towards, they would have an allergic reaction, not feel better.
  5. I want to be tested for hidden food allergies. Food allergy tests are not screening tests. They should only be used when there is a history of immediate onset and reproducible reactions after eating a food. The best ‘test’ is what happens with ingestion. If you are eating a food without problems, you are not allergic.

I  use my understanding to address myths during patient encounters, through my social media channels and to educate and inform medical providers as well. We could all benefit from thinking like our patients and be open to discussing misinformation found online. This has led us to develop a new conference at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, to be held on June 14, 2019. This conference is targeted towards any medical professionals, administrators or anyone who wishes to better understand how to improve our communication of health information through social media.

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Patterns of internet and social media use in colorectal surgery 

Patterns of internet and social media use in colorectal surgery  | Social Media and Healthcare |


Surgeons use the Internet and social media to provide health information, promote their clinical practice, network with clinicians and researchers, and engage with journal clubs and online campaigns. While surgical patients are increasingly Internet-literate, the prevalence and purpose of searching for online health information vary among patient populations. We aimed to characterise patient and colorectal surgeon (CRS) use of the Internet and social media to seek health information.


Members of the Colorectal Society of Australia and New Zealand and patients under the care of CRS at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, were surveyed. Questions pertained to the types of information sought from the Internet, the platforms used to seek it, and the perceived utility of this information.


Most CRS spent 2–6 h per week using the Internet for clinical purposes and an additional 2–6 h per week for research. 79% preferred literature databases as an information source. CRS most commonly directed patients to professional healthcare body websites. 59% of CRS use social media, mainly for socialising or networking. Nine percent of surgeons spent > 1 h per week on social media for clinical or research purposes. 72% of surgeons have a surgical practice website.

43% of patients searched the Internet for information on their doctor, and 75% of patients sought information on their symptoms or condition. However, 25% used health-specific websites, and 14% used professional healthcare body websites. Around 84% of patients found the information helpful, and 8% found it difficult to find information on the Internet. 12% of patients used social media to seek health information.


Colorectal surgery patients commonly find health information on the Internet but social media is not a prominent source of health information for patients or CRS.

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5 Ways to Uplevel Your Digital Marketing Strategy for Healthcare Providers

5 Ways to Uplevel Your Digital Marketing Strategy for Healthcare Providers | Social Media and Healthcare |

So you’ve gotten your five HIPAA rules under control and your marketing budget is at least 10% of your company’s overall budget. Now you are ready to embark into the healthcare digital marketing world, but don’t know which digital strategy to implement.



Let’s look at the five ways you can uplevel your digital marketing strategy for healthcare to help you generate more traffic and stay competitive in the healthcare industry.



Have an Easy-to-Navigate Website While Staying Mobile Conscience

Although many people still use desktops, the majority of consumers access initial information via their mobile devices. Mobile devices provide fast and convenient access to a full range of healthcare information, which is why having a mobile-friendly website as a part of your digital marketing strategy is a must.


A website that is hard to navigate will hinder your reputation and brand trustworthiness. Mobile-friendly websites are also more helpful for search engine optimization purposes and can help you convert new patients or prospects at a higher rate.


44 percent of patients who research hospitals on a mobile device end up scheduling an appointment. – GMR Web Team



Location-Based SEO


89% of people immediately turn to a search engine when trying to answer a healthcare question. In addition, 82% of those people use a search engine to find healthcare treatment.


To ensure your business listing populates when potential patients begin to search for you on Google, put an emphasis on local SEO to help drive you in the right direction. Consider these steps:


Step 1: Google My Business and Bing Places for Business

With using Google My Business (GMB) and Bing Places for Business, you can create new or claim existing business listings. While you’re at it, remove duplicate entries and update any information that may be wrong or outdated.


To get started, you’ll need to ensure:

  • Login and contact emails are on the company’s domain
  • The page has accurate, relevant category associations
  • The correct business name, address, phone number, and business hours are listed
  • The description is unique and well written
  • The page is verified
  • The page includes images of your building, both inside and out


If you have too many listings or too many locations to easily manage the unique details, consider acquiring a purpose-built knowledge engine like Yext to help make your business more discoverable in search and ultimately attract new patients.


Not sure how your locations show up in local search? Scan your business for free here to preview your current results.


With Yext you can engage your patients through reviews, eliminate duplicate content, showcase important and enticing information, and consolidate internal data resources into one.


Step 2: Website Optimization

Now that your GMB listings are in order with the appropriate information that drives the user to your website, you must have well-structured site that is SEO optimized. Why? Because search engines drive three times as many visitors to hospital websites than any other source.


To get started, you’ll need to ensure:

  • The most important content is included in the primary navigation
  • Every service has a dedicated landing page with relevant content that includes keywords currently driving traffic to your and your competitors’ websites
  • Every page has an easily accessible contact information
  • URL structure is consistent throughout the site, creating strategic HTML titles, among other techniques
  • The blog is on the same domain as the rest of the site
  • The site is mobile-friendly


Step 3: Reviews


More than 80% of patients are now consulting review websites with some frequency to gauge provider reputation and/or to leave ratings and reviews. – Software Advice


A constant flow of positive reviews is a must for the success of any medical office or hospital. In fact, review quantity, velocity, and diversity play roles in Google’s overall ranking factors. Review diversity is good for both patients and search engines, so be sure to offer a variety of places online where patients can review.


To get started, you’ll need to ensure:

  • You’ve implemented satisfaction surveys with ratings
  • You’ve created testimonial fields to use to highlight review content in marketing materials
  • You’re consistently and proactively asking for feedback on social channels and in email



Native Advertising


Said to be one of the latest and greatest healthcare marketing trends and spreading throughout social media platforms, native advertising is the use of paid ads that mimic the look, feel and function of the media channel in which they appear as contemporary formats. Unlike display ads, native ads don’t look like regular ads.


Top reasons marketers are using native advertising:

  • Provide more relevant messaging
  • Increase consumer engagement
  • Improve purchase intent
  • Build brand loyalty
  • Generate awareness
  • Create word of mouth traffic



“70 percent of individuals want to learn about products through content rather than traditional advertising”. – Inc.



People don’t want to be interrupted by advertising. They’re more interested in conversation, which native advertising helps to create with seamless transition between social posts and the advertisement itself, opening the window to increased engagement.


So why implement native advertising? With displays of natural-like advertising, native ads create an environment where you and your patients can build relationships with higher engagement and increased content.


41% say that that social media content influenced their choice of which hospital to go to.


How to measure success with native advertising:

  • Ad impressions – number of times the ad has been viewed online
  • Reads – number of people who have read the piece
  • Engagement – Time spent on the story
  • Display ad impressions



Content Marketing


Many studies have shown that healthcare content is the second-most searched for service online.


Take advantage of all these searches by incorporating a blog and include an additional content touch point, like a resourceful email strategy campaign. Use these tools to capitalize on building brand loyalty and trust, generate awareness, provide relevant messaging, and increase consumer engagement. Be sure to plan your content calendar around timely topics relevant to your organization.


Getting you started with a few content ideas:

  • Service, doctor, and product introductions
  • Stories and testimonials
  • Event promotion
  • Health education and tips


Educate, Inspire and Promote Through Video Marketing

With being one of the less attention-grabbing industries, healthcare has started to rely heavily on sparkling interest with the use of evergreen videos, which in return is a big ranking factor in SEO.


A video is 50 times more likely to rank organically in search. And by 2019 videos will make up 85% of online traffic in the U.S.


Video marketing offers organizations an opportunity to connect on a deeper level by establishing a relationship and visually educating them in an effort to help cultivate the buying journey.


80% of Hootsuite users said that they would rather watch videos of content instead of reading it. –LYFE Marketing


Whether you have a small budget or your own videographer on staff, here are some ideas to help guide you along as you start making videos to help meet your marketing goals:


  • Educate
  • Show empathy
  • Tell your story
  • Build Trust
  • Solve a problem



Final Thoughts

Earning buy in from leadership for enough budget is one of the biggest challenges for marketing teams in healthcare. Along with implementing the strategies I have presented, ensure your health system has a plan in place for managing your marketing data (think a CRM or patient-relationship software).


Implementing tools like Google Analytics to prove ROI is essential to show proof your healthcare marketing department is driving results and deserves their additional budget and support.

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Using Social Media to Engage with Patients

Using Social Media to Engage with Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is taking over the world. Corporations, schools, and even hospitals use these platforms to engage with their target audience. Doctors in Dubai have also embraced the culture of social media and use these platforms to stay in touch with their patients.


Social Media Rules in Dubai

Before creating a social media account to engage with your patients, you should be aware that there are specific guidelines that all social media users in Dubai need to follow. Below are some of the regulations you need to follow:


As a doctor, you need to respect the privacy of your patients and refrain from posting their information. It is not only disrespectful, it is also illegal. Violation of other people’s privacy can attract a hefty fine or jail time.


Refrain from posting content that might offend the Islamic culture. Use decent language, photos, and content. Offensive language and indecent photos could land you in jail, or you could get fined up to AED 500,000.

Ask for Permission

Just like you should not post patients’ private details, you need to ask for permission before including your patients in your page’s photo collection. Posting photos without consent could cost you six months in jail.

Using the internet to interact with your social media patients is an excellent way to show them that you care and you are willing to follow up on their progress as well as provide advice outside the hospital.

The following ways show you how you can engage with your patients via social media:

1. Be Easily Accessible

To engage with your patients on social media, ensure that all your accounts are visible on your websites. For instance, if you run a blog, indicate the Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms you use, and provide your username.

Promote your pages by including links on your brochures, in your office, and on the website. Also, make sure the link is accessible and fix it issues quickly as they arise.

2. Lead the Conversation

To start interacting with your patients, engage them in a conversation by asking reasonable questions. These questions should enable the audience to think of how you can help them and enlighten them at the same time.

Use this opportunity to collect feedback regarding new techniques in your practice, such as treatment procedures or the introduction of advanced technology in the hospital. You can ask questions like “how have our new dialysis machines saved you time.” Patients will answer the questions and also provide further information about other services.

3. Promote Participation

One of the reasons for creating a social media page should be to help your followers, and you cannot do this if you are not aware of their wellbeing. Encourage your social media patients to participate in your pages. For instance, if you are a cardiologist, you could create a weekly challenge where you ask your patients to post about their weekly health regime, such as exercise habits.

Encourage them to like or comment if they want more details about a subject and ask them to share on different platforms. Also, share this information on your blog and provide links.

4. Consistency

The only way you will retain and attract more following is if you post regularly. Social media patients follow your sites to keep updated and to get crucial information concerning their health. If you are not active, the audience will follow another page where they can access new information daily or weekly. If you are too busy to post, you can hire a social media person to manage your accounts.

5. Create Trust

When you decide to open an account or website, patients will always have questions for you. Ensure that you respond to all, even if they are simple or obvious, this way the patients will trust you more. Provide credible information – some patients try to test doctors so they can decide which ones to follow. If you don’t have the answers, you can provide suggestions to show the audience your concern on the matter.

Social media enables people to connect from different parts of the world, regardless of time and distance. It is also an excellent way for doctors to engage with their patients and help to solve health issues and provide useful information. Just don’t forget, to engage with patients effectively on social media, your pages need to be easily accessible, and you need to respond to questions and comments.

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The Role of Social Media in Private Practice

The Role of Social Media in Private Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |

More than half of the world’s population now uses the Internet.1 Many of these users access social media sites on a regular basis. Social media can be classified in a plethora of ways to reflect the diverse range of social media platforms, such as collaborative projects (eg, Wikipedia), content communities (eg, YouTube), and social networking sites (eg, Facebook).2 A recent Pew Research Center survey of US adults reports that social media use in early 2018 was characterized by a combination of “long-standing trends and newly emerging narratives”3; 73% of US adults reported using YouTube and 68% reported using Facebook. At the same time, younger Americans (especially those aged 18 to 24 years) are embracing a variety of platforms (eg, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter) and using them frequently.3

Psychiatrists are increasingly using social media to educate the general public, existing patients, and potential patients about various conditions. With their many applications, social media platforms are useful for professional networking, patient and provider education, research collaboration, personal and professional support, and academic dialogues. Social media adds a new dimension to health care because it offers a medium for physicians and patients to communicate about medical issues with the potential to improve health outcomes.

Benefits of using social media in private practice

Using social media in private practice has many benefits. It provides avenues for us to market ourselves and our services. The most popular social media sites for physicians are those where we can participate in online communities, listen to experts in their fields, read news articles, network, and communicate with colleagues regarding patient issues. These sites allow us to acquire and read relevant information related to our patients and practice. Social media allows us to engage with other psychiatrists and mental health professionals by commenting on posts and participating in group discussions or online chats. By identifying and sharing useful information or links with followers or other members of an online community, these interactions can increase the acquisition of salient information.

We can create blogs, forums, videos, and information-sharing websites that provide information to the general public, patients, and other mental health professionals on mental illness, treatments available, and wellness; these efforts can help reduce stigma associated with mental illness and promote psychiatry. Our use of social media can expand access to individuals who may not easily access health information via traditional methods. Social media can provide peer, social, and emotional support for patients, the general public, and other mental health providers. It can allow the general public to discuss sensitive topics and complex information with us and provide opportunities for us to provide online consultations.

Social media provides communication in real time and is inexpensive, although potentially time consuming. We can quickly monitor public response to mental health issues, identify misinformation of mental health information, and disseminate pertinent mental health information to targeted communities. We can compile data about patient experiences from blogs, collect data from patients, and gather opinions regarding our performance (eg, via customer satisfaction surveys). We can use social media to disseminate personalized messages immediately.


Challenges of using social media in private practice


The challenges of using social media can be as numerous as the benefits. Information on the Internet, especially in user-generated forums, is largely unregulated and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.4 Authors of medical information found on social media sites are often unknown or are identified by limited information, and the medical information may be unreferenced, incomplete, or informal.5 Social media tends to emphasize anecdotal reports while evidence-based medicine tends to de-emphasize it. Using social media may make us susceptible to both known and unknown conflicts of interest that we may be unable to decipher.

Social media conveys information about a person’s personality and values, and the first impression generated by this content (eg, photos, posts) can be lasting. Posting inappropriate content or unfavorable comments can reflect negatively upon us and can be viewed as unprofessional.

We can view our patients’ social media profile to obtain information about them. Their “digital footprint” may help us understand the context of their lives, reconcile discrepancies with what they have told us, or allow us to confront denial and address incomplete reporting. However, perusing our patients’ online profiles could negatively impact treatment and adherence. Patients may choose to portray themselves differently on their online profiles, and their identities often cannot be confirmed.6Even if some information is accurate, we might discover things that we did not expect to learn about our patients, including important information that they did not share, significant problems they are currently experiencing, or even something they lied about. This can create ethical dilemmas of what to do with the information and whether it should be addressed immediately or at a future session.

Despite their online activities being displayed for the world to see, our patients may not expect us to access their online information. They might perceive such perusal as a breach of trust, which can lead patients to view the doctor-patient relationship as adversarial. Accessing this information could also create a more intimate relationship than intended. Even if we acquire their consent to perform a search, our patients may still feel coerced into allowing it because they might feel that declining to grant permission would make us suspect that they have something to hide, or that we would search without their consent. In addition, if our patients are aware that we are monitoring them, they might change their behavior. For example, they may delete certain data, add additional information that may not be accurate, or censor future social media posts. Knowing that we could be paying attention to them online might motivate patients to act out or become withdrawn.

Breaches of patient privacy can occur when posting information, photos, videos, or comments concerning our patients to a social media platform. These breaches can lead to legal action against us as well as adversely affect our credentials and licensure.5 There is a vast amount of information that is available for us to peruse; however, perusing that information might require excessive time and effort, or divert attention from more productive therapeutic interventions.

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3 Ways Healthcare Professionals Can Use Social Media To Improve Population Health

3 Ways Healthcare Professionals Can Use Social Media To Improve Population Health | Social Media and Healthcare |

With as often as we hear about the negative side of social media, it can be easy to forget that Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms are also improving people’s lives in concrete, measurable ways.

One particularly promising area? Healthcare.

From helping chronically ill people feel less isolated, to correcting the spread of diagnostic misinformation, to helping patients get the care they need faster, social media can offer a host of benefits to patients and the healthcare professionals treating them.

So how can doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, public health advocates, and others in this space harness the potential of social media? Here are just a few ways to do so.


Sharing public health information and correcting misinformation

Any healthcare professional who’s been active on social media has doubtless seen some of the totally unfounded medical claims that circulate online.

In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, eight out of 10 internet users search for health information online. Of those, 74% use social media to search for health information.


While some of this misinformation is harmless, much of it actually does real harm.

The backlash against vaccinations, which has been fueled in huge part by misinformation shared online, is the most obvious example, but there are plenty of others. Cardiologists, for example, are hearing from many patients that they do not want to take statins, a cholesterol-lowering drug that has been decried as dangerous by celebrities and politicians—but not by doctors.

And just like social media can be a quick and effective way to spread bad health information, it can also be a quick and effective way to spread scientifically-proven, correct health information. Some doctors create short videos in which they debunk popular health myths. Some summarize the latest scientific findings in plain language, linking to the journal in which the study or research appeared.

Major organizations like the World Health Organization post health facts regularly, especially when there’s a relevant world event. While most healthcare professionals won’t have nearly the reach of the WHO, they can still be active leaders in helping fight the spread of health misinformation online.

Helping chronically ill patients develop social supports

Aside from the countless medical difficulties that chronically ill people must go through, the isolation that these illnesses can cause can be deeply debilitating—especially for young people.

For many of these patients, social media platforms can be a truly life-changing technology. Similar to the way chronically ill people have congregated online on message boards and forums, today, many of these patients are finding Facebook groups for people with their same disease, or connecting with friends that they aren’t able to get together with on Instagram.

Healthcare professionals who care for these individuals have a great opportunity to help them develop those social supports by staying aware of active social media groups, sharing research on the power of social media for social support, and generally promoting responsible social media use for patients who express interest.

Spreading awareness about new and/or innovative healthcare solutions

From the operating room to the operations department, the healthcare space has been changing drastically over the past 15 years thanks to technology.

Robotic surgeries. Incredibly accurate diagnostic tests. New cancer therapies.

But there are also developments like telehealth, for example, which connects patients with specialists through a secure video conference, which has made it easier for rural communities to access specialized healthcare. Organizations like Better Help connect people with licensed counselors for online mental health counseling services.

These innovations aren’t worth much if the people who need them aren’t aware they exist. And in healthcare, where the patient-provider model hasn’t changed greatly in decades—in general, if you’re sick, you go to a doctor’s office—it’s crucial that patients be made aware of new options like video therapy sessions, or telehealth sessions with an out-of-state specialist.

If your office or hospital offers these things, social media can be a highly effective way to let patients and potential patients know about them.

Social media’s ill effects are well-documented and important to stay aware of. However, it’s just as important to realize that when used responsibly, social media can have highly beneficial applications for healthcare providers and the people they’re trying to help.

Shama Hyder is CEO of Zen Media, a leading marketing and new media consultancy, a best-selling author, and an internationally renowned keynote speaker.

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Deaf Nursing Student Uses Social Media To Empower Aspiring Healthcare Professionals | 

Deaf Nursing Student Uses Social Media To Empower Aspiring Healthcare Professionals |  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Nurses can be a lot of things — men, women, transgender, non-binary, mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, you get the picture. But can a nurse be deaf?  

The short answer to that is, of course, nurses can be deaf.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing nurses have — and continue — to work in the healthcare field, making a difference caring for and treating patients. Nurses who have hearing challenges may use accommodations at work they are legally entitled to, or they may have varying tools that can assist them to do their jobs, but working as a deaf nurse is very possible. Read on for more information about what it takes to be a deaf nurse, along with resources for deaf and hard-of-hearing nurses. 

One deaf nursing student’s story

Britny Bensman, 27, from Cleveland, Tennessee is a certified clinical medical assistant working in family medicine who is currently pursuing her LPN. She attends Hondros College of Nursing in Westerville, Ohio, the school’s first-ever deaf student, and expects to graduate in early 2020. 

Although she was born with full hearing, Bensman explains that her parents first noticed that something “was off” with her hearing around the time she was three years old. It was discovered that she lost her hearing from unknown causes and is now profoundly deaf, with a complete loss of hearing in her right ear. She is able to hear about 85% in her left ear with the assistance of a hearing aid and notes that thanks to her parents starting speech therapy with her as soon as they discovered her condition, she is able to speak well. 

Bensman also learned ASL from attending Gallaudet University, a move she says she is “extremely grateful” to have made. After getting her LPN, Bensman plans to get her RN, then her MSN/NP. “I want to become a provider for the Deaf community for them to visit someone they can trust and knowing that I know ASL, there will be no communication barriers,” she explains. “Patient education and preventive care are extremely important to me. Many deaf patients do not get all the resources because of lack of communication, interpreters, and closed captioning.”  

Challenges of working as a deaf nurse

Image courtesy of DeafMed Instagram

Bensman’s challenges began with getting into nursing school. She applied to many different schools before finally gaining acceptance at Hondros, who she says immediately got her the accommodations she needed to succeed, with two interpreters, two captionists, and a borrowed hard-of-hearing stethoscope that she can use through graduation. “Hondros gave me hope,” she says. “Hondros opened my door. Hondros will allow me to be the nurse I am meant to be.”  

Over the course of her now five years working as a medical assistant, Bensman has also faced some challenges on the job. From fears that hiring managers would dismiss her application if she revealed she was hard-of-hearing to having trouble relying on her go-to method of lip reading in patients with accents or who had facial hair, the nurse-to-be has had to do a lot of problem-solving over the years. 

For instance, when she noticed patients getting frustrated when she couldn’t pronounce medications with the letter “s” in them, she came up with the solution to having the patient read along with her from the computer. “I noticed that it makes the patient feel like they have the attention they needed knowing that I got them involved with patient care,” Bensman comments. 

Resources for deaf nurses and hard of hearing nurses

Image courtesy of DeafMed Instagram

Unfortunately, there was a time, not even in our distant past, when the world of healthcare was not so welcoming to deaf nurses. In 2002, John Hopkins Hospital withdrew a job offer for a nurse named Lauren Searls after they found out she would need ASL interpreters. Fortunately, however, Searls did not accept that her treatment was acceptable and fought back, eventually winning her court case, getting a new job offer at a different hospital, and paving the way for other nurses like her. 

Today, there are resources that exist to help nurses who are deaf continue to work in healthcare or pursue employment in the healthcare field. For instance, the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Loss (AMPHL) works to advocate for and assist deaf and hard-of-hearing medical professionals with a conference, job opportunities, and mentorship programs. 

On the job, Bensman uses tools to help her in her role of caring for patients. 

  • She has a Video Relay Service called Purple via ASL for her to call out and receive messages to and from providers, pharmacies, patients, or insurance companies. 
  • To obtain vital signs, she uses an automatic blood pressure machine as well as a special stethoscope made specifically for deaf and hard of hearing people. 
  • Her facility also has an interpreter who comes to staff meetings and some of her coworkers have learned ASL as well, although she notes that they are often too busy for her to be able to call on them. 

Using Social Media To Empower Current and Future Deaf Healthcare Professionals

Bensman also started her own social media account, DeafMed, in 2016. Her Instagram account features stories of other deaf and hard-of-hearing nurses, along with tips, inspiration, and education. The social media trailblazer notes that simply sharing stories from other hard-of-hearing and deaf medical professionals have opened eyes and allowed others to turn negative experiences into positive ones. 

“The biggest surprise is how many Deaf and Hard of Hearing there are already in the medical field,” she adds. “It’s like we’ve been hiding in our shells. I feel like DeafMed got us out of our shells…we all immediately became a role model to each other and to others.”

Through her own work in becoming one of the nation’s estimated up to half of a million RN’s with some sort of hearing loss and through her social media advocacy, Bensman hopes to inspire other aspiring deaf nurses to know that they are not alone — and show them that it is possible to enter into the medical field. 

“No more barriers,” she states. “My goal is to let them believe in themselves and knowing that they can become whatever they want to become.” 

It Takes A Village!

By sharing her story Britny hopes to shine a spotlight on the deaf and hard of hearing community. Don't be afraid to share your story, you never know who it could inspire! But, Britny didn't do all this alone, she had many loved ones who have helped her along the way.

Britny was fortunate to have two mentors, who are deaf nurses, to look up to - Tiffany Hanna and Sarah Heins hold a special place in her heart. She's also like to thank her husband, family, closest friends as well as all her teachers, professors, coaches and mentors who had a big impact on her life. 

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