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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I believe so...

Jim Doyle's curator insight, December 6, 2013 1:13 AM
3 Compelling Reasons Why You Can No Longer Afford to Ignore Google+
Social Media and Healthcare
Articles and Discussions on the intersection of Social Media and Healthcare.
Relevant to Healthcare Practitioners, Pharma', Insurance, Clinicians, Labs, Health IT Vendors, Health Marketeers, Health Policy Makers, Hospital Administrators.
Curated by nrip
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Social Media Implementation Checklist

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

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

Support our people

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

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


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Doctors Who Take Pharmaceutical Money Use Twitter To Hype Drugs

Doctors Who Take Pharmaceutical Money Use Twitter To Hype Drugs | Social Media and Healthcare |

Some cancer doctors use Twitter to promote drugs manufactured by companies that pay them, but they almost never disclose their conflicts of interest on the social media platform, a new study shows.

“This is a big problem,” said senior author Dr. Vinay Prasad, a professor at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. “Doctors are directly telling patients about their views on drugs, and financial conflict plays a role. But they’re not telling patients they have a conflict.”

Prasad and his colleagues analyzed the tweets and income of blood cancer specialists who posted regularly on Twitter and received at least $1,000 from drug manufacturers in 2014.

Of the 156 hematologist-oncologists in the study, 81 percent mentioned at least one drug from a company that gave them money, and 52 percent of their tweets mentioned the conflicted drugs, according to a study reported in a letter in The Lancet.

Only two of the doctors disclosed that they received payments from the drug companies whose products they mentioned on Twitter.

Cancer drugs tend to be toxic, produce debilitating side effects and are frequently only marginally effective, Prasad said in a phone interview.

Pharmaceutical companies routinely pay doctors to assess their products and to speak at conferences and seminars.

Bioethicist Susannah Rose, who was not involved with the study, said it “yet again shows the complex issues related to physicians’ financial relationships with industry.”

She urged disclosure, possibly in physicians’ Twitter profiles, about conflicts of interests.

Rose, who is scientific director of research for the Cleveland Clinic’s office of patient experience in Ohio and was not involved in the study, suggested in email to Reuters Health that doctors should use a common abbreviation in their tweets to indicate conflicts of interest.


Celebrities use the hashtag #sponsored when they tweet about products from companies that pay them, Prasad said.

“Maybe we can learn something from the celebrities here,” he said.

Genevieve P. Kanter, a professor of research at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, said she was surprised that hardly any of the studied doctors disclosed their payments from drug companies.

“If a doctor is promoting a drug - whether it’s at a presentation, at a conference, through an op-ed or via a tweet - the audience should be informed of possible biases that might come from being financially supported by the company producing that drug,” she said in an email.

Doctors, consciously or unconsciously, may be “shading their speech or their actions because of their dependence on certain income sources,” said Kanter, who was not involved in the study.

Rose advises patients to ask their doctors about possible conflicts of interest. In the U.S., patients can look up physicians’ relationships with drug manufacturers on a government website:

Kanter suggested that patients who learn their doctors have conflicts of interest consider getting a second opinion.

Prasad began thinking about conflicts of interest in tweets a few years ago, when he got into a Twitter dispute about whether physicians should engage in a debate over drug costs.

As the argument heated up, Prasad divided the dueling doctors into two camps - those in favor of discussing the price of drugs and those opposed. Then he looked up which ones took money from drug companies.

Of five physicians who argued that doctors should advocate for lower drug costs, only one had taken money from a drug company, and it was a single $400 payment. The five who argued that doctors should stay out of the discussion of drug prices had taken payments of between $20,000 and $30,000, Prasad said.

Earlier this year, Prasad published his first study on tweeting doctors. Nearly 80 percent of more than 600 U.S. hematologist-oncologists who tweeted had a conflict, his report in JAMA Internal Medicine found.

Doctors should disclose possible conflicts in their Twitter profile biographies, possibly with a link to more complete disclosure, Prasad and his colleagues wrote in the earlier study. When doctors tweet about products from companies with which they have conflicts, the researchers advised using the hashtag abbreviation for financial conflict of interest – #FCOI.

SOURCE: The Lancet Haematology, online August 29, 2017.

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Healthcare Marketing: Impacting Lives And Building Engagement

Healthcare Marketing: Impacting Lives And Building Engagement | Social Media and Healthcare |

Unlike many marketing disciplines, professional healthcare marketers have a unique opportunity that extends beyond traditional marketing strategies and tactics. Healthcare marketing communications campaigns may very well change – or even save – a life.

With this opportunity comes an important and profound responsibility. Healthcare marketers must embrace this responsibility and align their efforts with the mission of their healthcare organization. Creativity, innovation and metrics all matter to healthcare marketers, but they must be motivated by the values of the institutions they represent.

If you’re a healthcare marketer, here are some things you must consider:

Know your mission. It's critical to understand your healthcare organization’s mission and how it translates to your marketing communications strategy. Every message you curate and every campaign you lead should be driven by purpose and a true sense of responsibility for the people who are cared for or work at the healthcare organization you represent. It is critical to understand how your mission impacts lives and builds a connection to your audience.


Establish responsible thought leadership. Thought leadership in healthcare marketing goes far, wide and deep. Whether you're promoting a subject matter expert or a C-suite leader within the healthcare space, you must be accountable for the persuasive message, creative intent and information presented. Content must then be disseminated through a cross section of channels that best align best with your publics. Whether it's a blog, social media post or a comprehensive whitepaper, consider which medium will best drive optimal engagement with your targeted audience.

Empower creativity. Creativity is the cornerstone of any marketing communications effort, but in healthcare marketing, it comes with a unique and inherent responsibility. Before launching any marketing communications initiative, professional healthcare marketers must transcend the creative process to understand the breadth and scope of their message. Creativity is a useful tool, but one that should be employed only after measurable objectives and strategy are determined.


Demonstrate value. As organizations downsize and make challenging financial decisions, healthcare marketing is still core to the success of that organization’s mission. Whether it's pharmaceuticals or publishing, when healthcare marketing budgets get cut there is a risk that it will impact the greater mission. Healthcare marketing leaders must work hard to sustain their budgets at all times, continuously communicate their purpose and demonstrate their value to better serve their market. It is important to manage healthcare marketing initiatives using metrics that clearly communicate the value of the project including projected ROI and other metrics.


Exercise your social voice with purpose. Social media is an invaluable tool in healthcare marketing. Your social voice must be accurate, current and reflect the mission of your organization. Your social conversation can bolster your market position and create new levels of engagement by providing the best information at the right time to your targeted audience.

Understand patient engagement. This is core to what you do. Take time to step away from your desk and interact with the patients and families you’re targeting with your messaging. A true, deep understanding of your audience will help you craft campaigns that successfully inform, educate and motivate patients to take action.

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?


Understand your leadership role. Whether you are part of a large signature health system or a small practice, you must assume a leadership role. Your publics are not only looking for you to lead but to inspire them to take action.

In my more than 25 years of experience in all aspects of healthcare marketing communications, I have learned that healthcare marketing extends far beyond a job description. It’s a profound responsibility, anchored in purpose and accountability. Remaining true to your organization’s mission and connecting with your audience can help create lasting, potentially life-changing campaigns.

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Using Bots In Healthcare – Health

Using Bots In Healthcare – Health | Social Media and Healthcare |

Did you know one of the first prototype chatbots, ELIZA, was a psychotherapist?

Yup. She was a computer program made in 1966 that simulated real therapy conversations. So real, in fact, people thought she was a human on the other end.

Here’s a conversation with an ELIZA-like chatbot I found online:

ELIZA-like bot consoles me after my confession.

It comes as no surprise, then, that chatbots are a pretty common feature in healthcare now.

In our first article, we went over what a chatbot was and what they could and couldn’t do.

This second article in this three-part series will answer the questions:

“How are chatbots normally used in healthcare? How are chatbots used to boost patient workflows and patient experience?”

Usual Way: For Appointment Reminders

Most chatbots in medical practices are appointment reminders.

They’re pretty simple.

The chatbot sends a message (text, email, or voice) reminding a patient about their next appointment. Then, the patient responds. If the chatbot “understands” the response, it’ll usually say “thank you.”

Chatbot enthusiasts would cringe calling this rudimentary reminder program a chatbot. But that’s pretty much what appointment reminders are.

But not all reminder services are created equal. Here’s where some of them go wrong:

  • They don’t “understand” responses
  • They don’t respond when they should
  • They don’t engage patients conversationally

New Way #1: So Patients Can Be More Effective

Chatbots are awesome for helping patients be more efficient in a couple ways:

  • Request an appointment
  • Identify the care they need

The chatbot for Your.MD, for example, connects patients to the care they need. It’s also a user-friendly knowledge base patients can use for quick reference.

Your.MD chatbot messaging

Patients access the You.rMD chatbot with their app and other messaging platforms. If the patient requests it, the chatbot delivers helpful content relevant to the patient’s condition. It can even connect the patient with a provider via another platform like Doctor Push.

Luma Health released a chatbot not too long ago that engages with patients the same way. Using secure text messaging, the Luma chatbot gives patients access to pharmacies, doctors, and imaging centers.

The convenience factor aside, the chatbot lifts barriers to care to help patients get the care they need.

New Way #2: For Patient Experience

Chatbots can also engage patients and improve patient experience — without the need for a customer support team or a physician on the other end.

One of the best (and simplest) things a business can do with chatbots is help clients learn about their practice. Businesses can use chatbots on their social networks and even on their websites to boost user engagement, and even acquire new patients through bots.

Since customers and patients often look online first, providers have taken an active approach in response. How? They’ve turned their websites, social media, and online review pages into customer and patient acquisition tools.

Some use companies like Chatfuel, for example, to help create chatbots for their Facebook page. Facebook Messenger bots work pretty well because approximately 1.2 billion users are on it every month.

Luma Health released a chatbot that goes the extra mile with patient engagement. It makes it easier than ever to book an appointment and ask questions. Companies can use the chatbot on their Facebook pages and website.

Luma Health’s chatbot on Facebook in action

Is That it for Chatbots in Healthcare?

We’ve now learned how chatbots are used in healthcare. But can chatbots play a role in healing? Can providers prescribe a chatbot that has actual therapeutic value?

Be on the lookout for our next post, and let’s chat.

But before that, ♡ this post if you’ve ever told a bot, “I love you.”

Written by Tashfeen Ekram, MD.
Tashfeen is a radiologist, self-taught coder, healthcare innovator and Co-Founder of
Luma Health. Contact him on Twitter at @tashfeenekramMD.

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Medical Marketing Ideas: Online Marketing to Improve Your Practice

Medical Marketing Ideas: Online Marketing to Improve Your Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |

Marketing your medical practice can be overwhelming. The opportunities to engage your potential clients/patients are broad and the decision on your strategy has perhaps never been so confusing.

To help shed some light on your dilemma, I want to first highlight some findings from a Google Report titled ‘Micro-Moments Guide: How Australians Find and Choose Health Services‘. Then I’ll go into detail about some of the online strategies and tactics you should be using to promote your practice.


Here’s a few findings you ought to know:

  1. Among smartphone owners, 77% have used their smartphones to find local health services in the past six months.
  2. On average, Australians conduct 3.1 searches when finding a new health service provider.
  3. Almost half (43%) of health service customers wish more businesses had mobile-optimised sites.
  4. After recommendations from friends and family, online search is the preferred method for Australians researching new health service providers.

You’re probably wanting more useful and medical-specific advice on what tactics you should be using to improve your online performance, as well as how to use them to promote your practice.

For the complete guide, please continue reading. Or if you’d like to skip through, simply use the quick links below.



Improve Your Website Experience

Despite Google trying to provide users with all the key information they need directly from their search results pages, your website is still the cornerstone of your online presence.

But unfortunately, so many clinic websites are outdated and don’t do much more than provide an online brochure.

So, it’s time to think about some of the ways your website can provide your users with a better experience.

I’d recommend you begin with improving your online booking process and start producing content.


Your online booking process is a prime opportunity to leave a positive impression with your patients.

But many clinics have websites that aren’t optimised for mobile, have clunky forms or send users to third party websites to complete their booking.

You need to make your patient’s booking as smooth as possible.

So, what should you do?
Integrate Your Software with Your Online Booking Facility
There’s still medical clinics asking patients to complete a form to book online. Then calling them back to confirm a time.

That’s a burden on your staff and it’s also not the best experience for your patient.

They simply want to be able to book online and that’s it. Confirmed.
Integrate APIs and Keep Them on Your Site
The problem is that many clinics use third-party software to manage the scheduling and booking process. Doing that requires your patients to leave your clinic’s site to make their booking.

That’s confusing and you miss an opportunity to further engage with them.

The third-party software providers can provide you with widgets to embed on your website. But these then stick out like a sore thumb because you don’t have any control over the styling.

The best solution is to hire a developer to implement your own booking process using the third party’s API (an API is an IT term that simply means your patients will be able to book using the third-party software without leaving your website). This will also allow you to use what you want from their booking process and style it in a manner that’s consistent with the rest of your site.
Provide A Phone Number
Google found that when Australians are ready to book a health service, 66% say it’s either extremely or very important to have the ability to call a provider directly from their smartphone.’

So, you should start there. Make sure that prospective patients can find your contact number easily and make sure it’s linked so all they have to do is click their mobile to call.


According to Healthdirect Australia, Each week in Australia, more than 12 million people search the internet for health and medical information, yet 78% of these visits land on overseas websites where there is no guarantee that the information is clinically sound or appropriate to the Australian health system.’

So there’s a huge opportunity to provide valuable Australian health-related information.

Will a large percentage of the site visitors reading your content be potential patients?
No, they won’t. You need to think of yourself as a local business providing content to a national audience. Don’t ignore that opportunity. The quality of your content will boost your ranking with search engines, help you get exposure on social media, and provide your potential clients with the proof that they should be seeing you and not your competitors.

Not to mention, there’s a trend for businesses of all types and sizes to turn their own marketing into revenue-producing opportunities. This may be an opportunity for you as well. More on that later.

But many content questions remain…

What should you write? Who should write it? Should your blog posts be short or long? Where do you promote them?

The first thing you really need to do is identify what you want to achieve and how you’ll measure the success of your content.

Want to simply drive more traffic to your website? I’d imagine you want to generate more online bookings.

In that case, you need to think about the questions your patients have when they come into your clinic. Are there any consistent questions topics? Search for those questions on Google to see what content your patients could find when they search. Could you write an article that would be the most valuable local/Australian piece of information on the web? That should be your aim. If you can, then start planning your article. Make sure it’s going to be 2,000 words plus and that there’s a range of sub-headings, because we all love to scan web content. Compile supporting images, graphs and resources that your article can link to. Anything that will make your article more valuable.

Include links to your clinic’s service pages in your article. That will help to give them more authority.

Share your article on social media. Advertise it on Facebook. Browse sites like Quora and Reddit for questions or threads where your article would help people, and provide a link to it. You could also try spending some money with content recommendation engines like Outbrain to get more exposure.

Further to writing blog posts, there’s an opportunity to create a hub of content. The sort of hub that will encourage people to keep coming back to your site.

Also think about publishing other resources including:
– a glossary of specific health terms
– videos
– quizzes. These can go viral on social media.
– the latest health figures, especially local info when you can get it.
– guest posts from other health practitioners that your audience might value. Look for that practitioner to reciprocate.
– products reviews. For example, air purifiers are popular lately. Salt lamps as well. Give your opinion firstly on the technology and then on the products themselves. These might lead to alternative revenue sources.

Local SEO

The search for a medical clinic, dentist or natural therapist will often start with Google and what is considered a local search. For example, ‘medical practice Geelong’. The person searching will receive what’s called a ‘local pack’ result being a map, three listings and often gold stars for each indicating client/patient reviews.

This was the local pack results I received when searching ‘Medical Centre Geelong’.

Getting listed in this local pack and being the more dominant player within the three results can have a significant impact on traffic to your website and subsequently to your number of business leads.

So how do you get into the local pack?

This line comes directly from Google:

“Providing and updating business information in Google My Business can help your business’s local ranking on Google and enhance your presence in Search and Maps.”

It’s also worth noting that Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors Study identified that ‘Google My Business’ was the #1 contributor to Google’s local pack and finder feature.

So let’s start there.


Enter complete data
The more information you provide, the more valuable your GMB listing is to people searching for a medical practice. So, go ahead and fill in as much as you can, including category, address, phone, email, payment types and more. Category is considered to be influential and you’ll be looking to use either ‘Medical Practice’ or ‘General Practitioner’.

But make sure the business details are accurate and consistent with your website and other prominent online listings!
Verify your location(s)
Of course, Google doesn’t want to be serving search results with location information that’s incorrect. So verify your location. Some businesses can do this by phone and email. Otherwise, the process involves having a physical postcard sent to your business via mail.
Keep your hours accurate
When people search for your business, Google will display if you’re open or closed. If you don’t have accurate hours listed, then you risk annoying clients who get to your business only to find out you’re closed. Or maybe even worse, missing business because people think you’re closed when you’re not. Make sure to utilise the ‘special hours’ feature too, so you can add public holiday hours, etc.
Manage and respond to reviews
We all value online reviews and that’s why Google places great importance on them. So make sure you’re encouraging reviews (but definitely not paying for them). Be sure to respond to both positive and negative reviews. But keep in mind your response is going to be just as likely to have an influence on others as the review itself is.
Add photos
Google knows that users find value in seeing images of your practice, so of course photos will help. Add as many as you can, but make sure they’re great photos that leave positive impressions of your business. I would go one step further and hire a Google Trusted Photographer to create a virtual tour of your practice.

Now if you’ve already set up your Google My Business profile you know that it can get tricky for medical practices. Let’s discuss a couple of points.
Multiple locations
If you have multiple locations for your clinic then you need to have multiple GMB profiles. But there’s a couple of things to keep in mind:
– Each listing should have all the relevant contact details. Therefore, phone numbers should definitely be different.
– Ideally your website will be set up to have a different page for each location. If you have this set up then the respective GMB profile should link to its location page, not your home page.
Multiple practitioners
This is the most confusing aspect of Google My Business for medical clinics and practitioners. Who should have a profile and who shouldn’t. You should familiarise yourself with Google’s Guidelines.

What you need to know is this.

– If there is only one practitioner at your clinic, you can share your profile. Google recommends using this format [Clinic Name] : [Practitioner Name].

– If there are multiple practitioners, then you want to create one listing for the clinic and a separate listing for each of the practitioners. But note that when you create a separate listing for the practitioners, they should each have a separate phone number. The title of the practitioner profile should not include the name of the clinic.


Aside from optimising your GMB profile, being able to display authority in your local community is crucial to improving your local search performance.

There’s a few ways you can do this:

– Get local citations and links. If there’s local business directories, then create listings for your clinic. If you can become a member of your local business association or Chamber of Commerce, then do it. You might go one step further and donate to local charity groups.

– Local content. When you’re publishing content on your website, make sure some of it is locally relevant.

– Reviews. Reviews are super-important for the user and Google knows it. That’s why you want to be actively encouraging them to boost your SEO efforts.

Online Reviews

Sensis reports that “over two in five (42%) Australians regularly read reviews (1-3 times per week).”

We have an insatiable appetite for reviews. They play a key role in our decision-making.

In fact, SearchEngineWatch, a leading SEO blog, highlights that “90% of consumers read reviews before visiting a business.”

So getting online reviews is more than just a tactic to improve your SEO. They influence online decisions and drive clients/patients to your business.

If you need a more definitive example of how reviews can help your business, consider a study done by BrightLocal that found ‘going from a 3-star to a 5-star rating’ in Google’s local pack can earn a business 25% more clicks.


Asking for reviews on your Google My Business listing is a no-brainer. Enough quality reviews will encourage people searching for a clinic to contact you directly from Google ahead of your competitors.

Facebook is one of the most dominant players on the web. The 2016 Sensis Social Media Report highlighted that the average Australian is on Facebook a whopping 32 times a week. So, if you have a Facebook Business page, ask for reviews there too.

Aside from those, do a search of your own for something you expect your potential clients/patients might search. For example, ‘medical centre Melbourne’. You’re looking for third-party sites that rank well. I expect you’ll see and even Yellow Pages. So aim for reviews on them too.

Note: Ideally you would be displaying reviews on each of your key web pages. They would have a positive impact on your site’s ability to convert a lead. But of course, unfortunately there are restrictions placed on the health industry.


The most important thing is to simply make reviews part of your client communications. Are you already sending some form of email as a follow-up? Add another line to that email asking them if they had a good experience to leave you a review.


Create an easy link to send your clients directly to the Google Rate & Review widget – Use our Google Review Link Generator

You should also be mindful of a couple of things:
– Don’t go sending a flood of emails asking for reviews. If you get a big chunk of reviews at once, it’s going to look unnatural to Google and they may penalise you.

– Don’t try and cheat full stop. If you’re a staff member, the chances are Google knows. Maybe you set up the GMB page in the first place. Or maybe someone else set it up but from the same IP address. Just don’t do it.

– Some sites don’t like you asking for reviews. Yelp is one of them.


The first thing I want to say is this…your response is going to be viewed by a lot of people. It’s crucial to understand this because all too often I’ve seen emotions get out of control and a business owner respond poorly. Unfortunately for them, not only do you get the reviewer offside but it looks bad to everyone that is checking out your reviews. And your response is not going anywhere!

So step away. Take the emotion out of it. Be polite to the negative reviewer. Even if they’re a nightmare! Because we all know there’s those people out there that just like being a pain. So, when we read a polite and measured response from the business, we’ll expect that this is one of those cases and we won’t let it influence our decisions. But if you go and abuse them, then it just gives more power to the negative review.

Client/Patient Experience

I’ve spoken about the website experience but there’s many more ways to improve your client/patient experience.

Here’s a few ideas:
– Use push notifications to communicate last minute appointment opportunities. PushCrew is one provider that you might want to explore. Users can subscribe to receive notifications. Once you write the message and hit send, the next time the user browses the web (they don’t have to be on your site) they’ll get a notification to say you have a last-minute opening. They can then click through to book.

Image Source:

– Facebook Messenger. Your clients are most likely already on Facebook and many of them are using Messenger with friends and family. Perhaps they’d prefer to communicate with you via Messenger than email or phone. I guess the important thing is to understand that your patients will have different preferences, so identify what they are and communicate with them where they want you to.
– Organise a Fitbit group? Or maybe a walking meetup? Why not show your audience that your preference is to see them remain healthy. You’re in a position where you could facilitate or coordinate local walking groups or implement contests utilising Fitbits, etc.

Social Media

Therapists are more commonly using social media than medical clinics or dentists are. But there are specific social media opportunities depending on your local involvement in the community and the number of therapists/physicians you have at your location.

So what social media platform?

Facebook is where everyone is, so that’s the obvious choice. But you have to make a decision based on your audience and where they spend their time. If you’re in the middle of a central business district, you could perhaps make a case for LinkedIn. But ultimately Facebook is where you should be.

But you must know your objectives. Are you trying to engage with other local pages? Are you trying to get traffic back to your site? Maybe you’re doing both. I just hate hearing that people don’t know their objectives because if you don’t, how do you know if you’re wasting your time or not?

Just remember to be human. The two most shared areas on social media are humour and health. Utilise the latter, no matter how funny you think you are. Share your content (or other people’s) if you think your community will find value.

You could profile the therapists and physicians on Facebook to help give your community a more in-depth, personal understanding of their physician instead of them having to rely on the brief 15-minute appointments they have with them occasionally.

For example, after our family had been seeing a new GP for over 2 years, we found out he used to be the Head of Emergency Medicine at a local private hospital. We never knew. This is compelling info as it may provide the social proof you need to acquire new clients.

You could also think outside the square and invite other health professionals to take over your FB page for an hour once a week for a Q&A.

Marketing Automation

This is something that few medical practices or health services businesses are doing yet. And this has them behind the eight ball.

It is how it sounds. Automating your marketing. But more specifically and in practice, marketing automation will look like this for a medical practice:

A user books an appointment on your site. Your automation software knows their name and email and begins tracking everything they do on your site. You can check their history at any time and see when and what they have browsed. More importantly, you can start to tailor the experience they have on your site.

You can now do all sorts of cool stuff, like…

Maybe you’ve realised that your patients typically come in every 6 months. Well your automation software can email them after 5 months to prompt them for an appointment or simply to remind them you’re there.

Maybe you schedule a range of emails to be sent at specific times to your entire list. For example, when winter is upon us an email goes out to remind them of flu injections. It might also include a direct link to your online booking form.

If they’ve visited a specific page on your site but have not yet made a booking, you could send them an email seeing if they had any queries regarding that specific topic. Of course, your email would also provide a direct link to book an appointment.

Your blogging can play a huge role in this process too. While your site visitors are reading a specific post, you can arrange for a popup message to appear asking them if they would like to make a booking.

There are many possibilities when it comes to your marketing automation. At the end of the day, the aim is to start achieving some of the objectives you have with your site without it requiring more and more time from your staff. Write a blog post and start prompting your readers to book an appointment relevant to your topic. Once that process is set up, you don’t have to do a thing but see them when they come in.


Experience is crucial. But understand that each and every interaction with your practice is contributing to your audience’s experience and that many of them are happening on a mobile device. So even though you might have the most-friendly receptionist and even friendlier practitioners, a poor mobile site is likely to be enough to discourage people.

I strongly recommend that you spend some more time reading the Google report ‘Micro-Moments Guide: How Australians Find and Choose Health Services‘.

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Health insurers on social media: How five payers stack up

Health insurers on social media: How five payers stack up | Social Media and Healthcare |

With the rise of technology, many organizations and companies across the country have begun utilizing social media as a means to connect with individuals and spread news.

Healthcare organizations are no exception. A recent study from Talkwalker, a social media analytics platform, looked at Twitter data from the nation’s big five health insurers to uncover trends in their social media activities.

Talkwalker analyzed information from Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare, all of which have both a general Twitter handle and a customer support handle.

From August 24 to August 30, there were 26,700,000 mentions of these insurers.

Hartford, Connecticut-based Aetna took the cake for the top number of mentions, dominating 63.1 percent of the conversation. More than 48 percent of these mentions were negative in nature, and 41.9 percent of them were neutral. Only 9.9 percent were positive.

These statistics are unsurprising, given that Aetna was mixed up in a controversy that week. On August 24, news broke that the insurer had accidentally disclosed the HIV statuses of up to 12,000 members. That explains the surge in social media mentions between August 25 and 26.

During the same week, the remaining four insurers came nowhere close to Aetna in terms of mentions on social media. UnitedHealthcare took up 16.7 percent of the conversation, and Humana dominated 11.2 percent of it. Anthem and Cigna lagged behind.

For these insurers, the majority of social media mentions were neutral. Notably, however, 35.4 percent of Anthem’s mentions were negative in nature, and 21.4 percent of Cigna’s were positive.

But it’s not all about mentions. It’s also useful to take a macro look at the overall impact each insurer is having on its audience.

According to Talkwalker, although Humana is the smallest of the insurers, its followers are the most engaged. From August 24 to 30, Humana saw 1,671 audience retweets, while the other insurers had numbers in the hundreds.

And while UnitedHealthcare is the nation’s largest private healthcare provider, Talkwalker found it lags behind in social media interactions.

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Patients Trust Social Media, so Be Their Trusted Source

Patients Trust Social Media, so Be Their Trusted Source | Social Media and Healthcare |

"Instagram is for narcissists."

"Individuals who spend time on social media don't have real jobs."  


My social media presence has led to even more opportunities to reach patients through partnerships with traditional media, such as this appearance on Good Morning America.

"No one takes social media seriously."

"Facebook is a place for cyberbullying."

"Selfies are not for professionals."

You may have heard such comments. I don't agree with any of them.

Some people still don't grasp the utility of social media in the medical landscape. However, more than 2.5 billion people are using social platforms worldwide(, and the percentage of Americans using social media has increased from 24 percent to 81 percent( in the past 10 years. Social media influences everything from politics to commerce to cultural movements, and it's time family physicians took notice.

By its nature, social media encourages users to publicize the private, so it's understandable that the medical community has reservations. There certainly are risks in using social media as a health care professional -- breaches of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, overexposure, and erosion of credibility, to name a few. But as clinicians, we know we must weigh the risks and benefits before making any decision. From my perspective, the benefits of using social media for medical purposes strongly outweigh the risks. It truly is an overlooked symbiotic relationship.

Our specialty has always been at the forefront of creating new lines of communication with our patients. The beauty of family medicine, and why I went into this field, is that we are able to make drastic differences in lives by not only treating disease but also through education and prevention. Social media is a tool we can use to continue this mission, one that can influence the health decisions of millions. This can range from encouraging preventive health visits to inspiring lifestyle changes.

There is no single way to make use of this global trend. Family physicians are a diverse group of people with equally diverse interests. Our social media styles should reflect that. Being an early adopter of Instagram, I have been able to amass a following of more than 3 million people. I will admit that initial interest in my page was not purely medical in nature -- see People Magazine( --  but it is my responsibility to redirect this interest into a discussion about public health.

From posting selfies on Instagram of my everyday practice to creating unique YouTube videos on a variety of medical and nonmedical topics, I can reach millions of people and potentially influence how they take care of their health.

More than 40 percent of patients say social media presence influences their choice when selecting a new physician( When a patient comes to my practice solely because of my social media presence, and we are able to detect early-stage cancer or administer a vaccine that may not have been given otherwise, I consider that a great success.

I am a passionate advocate for preventive care, but I see one glaring obstacle ahead. Young people don't go to the doctor as often as they should. Forty percent of people ages 18-24 do not see a medical professional yearly( compared to just 8 percent of those older than 65. Making a lifestyle change in someone who is 20 can have a greater impact than in someone who is 60.

This is the heart of preventive medicine, yet no one has figured out how to engage in an ongoing conversation with the younger demographic. Other industries are already seeing the importance of utilizing social media, restructuring their workforce and shifting internal budgets. According to the Duke University School of Business, in 2016, the average business spent 11 percent of its advertising budget on social media(, and that number is expected to increase to 21 percent during the next five years. We need to think like marketers and sell our message of health through prevention and education.

I am aware the medical community likes to see studies showing tangible benefits. However, in this case, it may not be that simple. What I can do, in speaking from my own experience, is attest to the fact that my following is growing, patient's medical questions are improving, and new doctor-patient relationships are developing.

A public conversation about health is the first step in motivating this younger generation to begin to care about prevention and staying healthy. Ninety percent of young adults say they trust medical information shared on their social feeds(, so it's important that they receive information from a source worthy of that trust.

Another point that is often not discussed is that we simply do not see family medicine represented enough in traditional or social media. Time and time again I see subspecialists talking about primary care issues because their specialties are glorified in scripted television. I know of no specialists more capable of answering a wide range of medical questions from the average viewer than family physicians. We have a finger on the pulse of what questions people have, we know what their worries are, and most importantly, we know the language to use so they can clearly understand our responses.

During my time in the media spotlight, I have been able to share with the general public the incredible abilities of family physicians. During appearances on The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America and The Doctors, I consistently try to instill the idea in the producers' and audiences' minds that family medicine, as a health resource, should receive more consideration. Using social media to garner positive attention for our specialty is one step we can take to change the way our work is perceived by the media and the masses.

Social media certainly has its risks. It can increase anxiety and depression in our youth. However, the answer is not to vilify its existence but instead to figure out how to best leverage it to serve the needs of our patients. The millennial generation wants more access with less work. They will ask questions on social media but may not visit you in the office unless directed to. We should not passively wait for the younger demographic to come to us but should instead reach out to them where they are. I prefer to give general answers to their questions online rather than have them simply rely on Dr. Google or spend several anxious hours navigating WebMD.

I admit there's a thin line between practicing "cocktail" medicine and just giving general advice, but this challenge is one we must grow comfortable with in our ever-changing technological landscape. The mission statement of the AAFP calls on family physicians "to improve the health of patients, families and communities by serving the needs of members with professionalism and creativity," and we can use social media to help us achieve those goals.

Mikhail Varshavski, D.O., is a family physician in New York City and a leading voice in the social media health space. You can follow him on YouTube(, on Twitter @RealDoctorMike,( on Instagram @Doctor.Mike(

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How Social Media is Helping Healthcare 

How Social Media is Helping Healthcare  | Social Media and Healthcare |

The development of social networks altered the methods by which customers and companies interact online. In the early days of the web, interaction embraced top-down, direct instructions; details were offered on fixed web pages or for by means of e-mail.

Social networks have actually redefined the standard function and decreased the degree of separation in between knowledge providers and knowledge consumers.

The usage of social networks continues to increase, and most notably, the fastest growing group of social networks users are people aged 45-54. While the patterns are indisputable, there is still a lot we don’t know about the way social networks can be helpful to health care companies’ interaction and treatment functions.

While there are restrictions provided for the different guidelines and policies surrounding the medical market, I personally feel the risks are far higher if companies do not embrace a social networks technique for their clients.

I have actually recognized 6 advantages for utilizing social networks for health care interaction, medical education, and treatments.

Boosts interactions with others

Peer-To-Peer health care has actually ended up being a source for client details and assistance. 25% of clients diagnosed with persistent medical conditions have actually utilized the web to discover and engage with others with the exact same medical conditions. Health care specialists need to tap these health sub cultures to supply a liable and informed tip.

Social network’s one-to-many abilities also allow you to offer public medical guidance without jeopardizing privacy. Think about patient adherence. As you might understand, patient adherence is a concern that health care companies face throughout disciplines.

A well-crafted short article on self-directed workouts, medical gadget usage, and self-care offers your patients near real-time guidance to properly follow medical guidance.

Available shared and customized details

Patients are using Google as a method to diagnose themselves. Today Google health associated searches include over 900 medical conditions. While the information exists, people often find unconventional ways to discover it.

As a healthcare company, you can not just limit yourself on education about your patient’s medical conditions, but the best way to find out more about it. If you discover a post on social networks, you can rapidly remedy medical diagnosis misalignment by directing the user to a more befitting piece of info.

Even providing suggestions on ways to utilize Google Scholar to look for conditions can go a long way. For instance, attempt browsing “sleeping disorders treatment” in Google, and after that look for “sleeping disorders treatment” in Google Scholar. The dependability and quality of details on the latter search are far remarkable to the previous.

Boost your access and availability

For several years, a regional medical professional has had complete control of all medical details available in a neighborhood. The web and progressively social networks have actually altered that providing the public not just access to medical education, but end up being active agents in direct communication efforts.

There are also advantages for health care specialists. Medical practitioners have embraced new technology into their brands, logos, and the overall way of showcasing their expertise to the public.

If you’re a regional physician in a little neighborhood that comes across a patient with an uncommon set of symptoms, you can use Social Media to get in touch with other Physicians. It’s actually a fantastic method to broaden your knowledge by widening your expert medical network beyond the borders of your library and regional health network.

Peer/social/emotional assistance

Social assistance has actually been connected to favorable health results, with some research studies concluding that patient’s adherence and overall health increases when getting assistance from peers, proving that motivation is key to any aspect of life.

Helene Campbell, a girl from Ottawa who utilized social networks to record her condition and her own need for brand-new lungs, affects my individual ideas on this. Her online project #BeAnOrganDonor on Twitter resulted in over 2,000 individuals becoming authorized organ donors in Ontario.

In addition, open discussions about health problems will just lower preconception from members of the public struggling with a medical condition. I personally think education eliminates any worries and seclusion.

Lastly, doctors can offer continuous assistance and support to patients as they aim to accomplish their objectives. Think about quitting cigarette smoking– giving up cigarettes is potentially among the hardest things to achieve. Believe me, I have actually given up smoking 7 times. Favorable support from a doctor can assist their patients to satisfy their objectives.

Public health surveillance

I do not anticipate social networks to ever replace standard information sources for public health and disease monitoring, however, social networks do hold prospective for complimentary details.

Provided this set of interactions, information is not mainly created for public health functions but is a set of online communications promoting a healthy way of living, illness dangers, and interventions.

Aside from being another resource to distribute data, social networks can be utilized to supply prompt projections of illness occurrence. Think about influenza. Twitter information relating to common cold occurrence was found to correlate with seasonal influenza information gathered by sources that are more conventional.

These social networks patterns can assist scientists, epidemiologists and health care specialists measure modifications in illness awareness along with beliefs to treatment and preventative care. In addition, social network’s information can determine response to public health messages and projects.

Analyses of metrics relating to particular health promotions or disease-specific awareness projects supply beneficial insights to health care experts throughout assessing their projects.

Affecting health policy

Social media is without a doubt the most spoken disturbance in marketing in years, but how can social networks affect health policies? Research studies reveal that 31% of health care companies have actually developed social networks guidelines in writing.

This tells us that nongovernment organizations are actively carrying out policies to protect patient privacy but still supply a concrete and organized policy throughout all personnel within a health care company as how they interact, react to and evaluate info published to or gathered from social networks channels.

But a fascinating fact gathered is that two-thirds of Physicians choose an open online forum instead of an expert, physician only online forum for expert communication purposes.

This is interesting because it reveals that health care specialists are welcoming social network’s openness and suggests that the open source of info is, in fact, enhancing the quality of care they have the ability to supply to their patients and the public.


Social network usage is growing and not likely to disappear. Currently, the general public and health care companies are taking part in social networks for health care interaction and treatment. Although there are some difficulties keeping personal privacy and the trustworthiness of the content shared on the internet, the advantages to the public and health care companies surpass its limitations.

Whether you are presently utilizing social networks or not, it’s crucial you develop an appropriate social networks policy, and share it with all personnel. Think about translating existing guidelines, such as PHIPA and PIPEDA and use these guidelines to your social networks policies as they refer to client details collection and upkeep.

When gathering information, use technology that protects the format of social networks interactions, consisting of edits and removals. Control and screen social networks interactions in real-time and act on any messages including keywords or expressions appropriate to your practice.

Educate the personnel who will be utilizing social networks– use real examples showing ways to utilize social networks and how not to.

Lastly, make sure to craft a compliance content technique by producing a library of content that your personnel can quickly publish to social networks, decreasing the possibility of medical malpractice.

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1 in 6 doctors admit to searching patients online

1 in 6 doctors admit to searching patients online | Social Media and Healthcare |

If you share information about your life online, there is a chance your doctor already knows about it.

An Australian study found one in six medical practitioners said they go online to look for information about a patient — around the same rate as doctors in the US and Canada.


The same number of doctors believe it’s acceptable to look up publicly available online information about a patient as part of regular clinical practice.

In an emergency such as a suicide attempt, 37.8 per cent of doctors said it would appropriate to search patient information online. 35.6 per cent were neutral and 26.7 per cent disagreed.

The rise of social media is bringing new ethical and legal dilemmas to healthcare which doctors learning to naviagte.

For example if a doctor finds evidence of patient waiting for a liver transplant drinking alcohol, they could intervene to stop the operation.

Emergency doctors may find searching online useful if there patients are not able to provide information due to being psychotic, intoxicated, or suicidal.

However, researcher James Brown, who conducted the Australian research in 2014, said conducting online searches has limitations as posts may not be accurate and could also be viewed as a breach of trust.

“We found poor literacy from the Australian Medical Association and very informal guidelines, which makes it easy for the doctor to make the wrong call,” he told

Mr Brown said that more needed to be done to develop guidelines around social media and healthcare.

 “Younger doctors have grown up with online communication, and frequent personal use may have instilled confidence in their ability to navigate any potentially hazardous ethical dilemmas,” he said.

“In comparison, older doctors have not been as involved in the progressive integration of social media into daily life, nor the increasing volume of its use.”

Professor at Columbia University Paul Appelbaum said building a profile from the online profile of patients could have wide-ranging repercussions.

“The standard of care is developed by the clinical community itself,” he told Nautilus.

“What most people do, or at least what a substantial number of people do, becomes a standard of care.”

“[That future] will depend on us, on the clinical professions and how we choose to use the ability that the internet is giving us,” he said.

“By going online and putting what we find in the chart — whether that’s a summary or a cut-and-paste excerpt or a screenshot — we are creating a new kind of medical record information that didn’t exist previously.”

“Unlike some of those sources — which may be hard to find, or ephemeral, and may ultimately disappear — medical records are forever.”

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Healthcare Brands Can (and Should) Go Live on Social Media 

Healthcare Brands Can (and Should) Go Live on Social Media  | Social Media and Healthcare |

If you’re a hypochondriac like me, surfing the internet for medical advice soon goes from helpful to horrific in about 0.3 seconds. A quick Google search for a mild stomach cramp turns into liver failure (true story) and before you know it, you’re saying your goodbyes and wondering where it all went wrong. If only there was a doctor in your back pocket you could contact to avert this crisis. If only…

If you have ever come under a wave panic thanks to a medical website, you’ve come to the right place. If you immediately turn a sneeze into a death sentence, this one’s for you. And for the people in the back who are too embarrassed to ask questions, we have a solution for you:

Live streaming. Yes you heard correctly. All of the cool healthcare brands are doing it. And if they’re not, here’s why they should.

Give your brand a human face




When social audiences are looking for answers about health conditions or medical advice, they don’t want to be faced with a block of text that unquestionably jumps to alarming conclusions (raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by WebMD). They want to speak with a real-life person. It’s comforting to put a face to a name and know that someone out there is listening and is willing to help. Face-to-face interaction is reassuring when speaking about heavy topics, even if it is done through a screen. Social media’s live functionality only further strengthens that bond.

Audience interaction with real doctors/experts



As humans, we are often scared of the unknown. We want answers. We want them now. We want you to give them to us. Tweet chats and Facebook live Q&As are perfect for interacting with patients who have burning questions that need answering ASAP. Medical terminology can get confusing, especially for those not in the field, so having someone to simplify and explain complicated details is sure to put people’s mind at ease. Social media also brings a sense anonymity for those who may be too embarrassed to ask their doctors these questions in person or who may just be curious about different health conditions and medications in general. Online discussions are a great way for doctors and experts to build a relationship with their community by sharing their knowledge and putting misconceptions to rest.

A glance inside the company



When people think about healthcare brands, their minds cut straight to images of hospitals and needles. They forget that actual hard working employees come together to make up an organization and that there’s way more than meets the eye. It’s never a bad idea to use live features on Facebook and Instagram to remind followers what goes into to making your company what it is today. Utilizing live streaming to give tours, conduct employee interviews and talk about company values is a great way to give people on the outside looking in a glimpse of the amazing culture that surrounds your organization.

Event coverage



Our friends at Einstein Health know a thing or two about covering live events on social. Not too long ago, Einstein celebrated their 150th anniversary. To honor the occasion, they held a ceremony to bury a time capsule which would be opened in 100 years. Healthcare brands are doing amazing things every day and they deserve to be acknowledged. Live streaming is the perfect way to give followers, patients and even potential employers a sneak peek and behind-the-scenes look at all of the great events you’re attending, hosting or speaking at.

Well, there you have it, folks. If you’re a healthcare brand and thinking about going live, believe me when I say that the benefits can be enormous from a content marketing perspective. Live streaming is an all around great idea to build an online presence and relationship with patients, put uneasy followers’ minds to rest, and share the wealth of knowledge I know you’re just itching to talk about. Consider it Gianna approved.

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 Professional social media instrument to meet researcher and healthcare instruments 

Research Article Open Access Luisetto et al., Int J Econ Manag Sci 2016, 5:3 Research Article Open Access Internati…
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How Digital Marketing Helps Dental Clinics to Reach New Patients

How Digital Marketing Helps Dental Clinics to Reach New Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

The best way to learn about dental online marketing and your target market is hiring an experienced team that has worked with several dentists. Traditionally, the most effective way for dental offices to attract new patients has been from referrals. Today, the same concept exists online in the form of reviews and social media engagement. Here are ways dentists can attract new patients with digital marketing.


Social Media Conversations

Dentists need to embrace social media because it’s becoming a modern form of customer service and market research. If you can attract a steady stream of followers on social media, it can generate interaction that helps you learn about patients and they can spread the word to friends. Since it’s unlikely a dentist can spend hours answering questions on social media, it helps to outsource to a marketing team that is familiar with the dental industry.

One of the most important reasons that dentists need an interactive online presence is that women tend to be the decision makers when it comes to choosing a family dentist. Women are huge fabs of social media. A majority of both Facebook and Twitter users are more likely to make a purchase from a small business after seeing its content on social media.

What makes social media particularly powerful for dentists is that it can help maintain existing relationships and build new ones. LinkedIn provides opportunities to get endorsements for your business, which may influence new prospects. Since visiting a dentist is a personal experience, social media is an effective platform for building personalized relationships.


Promote Your Web Content

Ideally, your dental office has both a content-rich website and a social media page. You don’t need to be on several social media sites, but it helps to be on one or two. It also helps to have plenty of original web content that demonstrates your authority as a dental business. By building up a wealth of content about dental information, you will be able to easily answer people’s questions with links to deeper knowledge.

The reason that social media and a website work well together is that you can network with people on social media to promote various web pages. If people like what they read, they may share it on social media, which increases exposure for your business.

You can maximize your reach with your online following by creating a regular blog series. The blogs should be interactive and present fresh content that cannot be found anywhere else online. Here are some ideas for crafting original content:

  • dentist interviews
  • industry statistics
  • professional perspectives on the dental industry
  • video tour of your complex
  • demonstration video


Reviews and Reputation Management

The more you can get repeat business from your existing clients, the better your chances are at attracting positive reviews online. Reviews are posted on social media, message boards and review sites such as Yelp. You may want to encourage your most loyal patients to post reviews on your site, since reviews have become an important filter for consumers, especially those looking for personalized services.

It’s possible to attract new patients with your blog and website. The blog, which can be managed by a digital marketing team, needs to be updated continuously to keep followers coming back often. If the blog answers people’s questions or gives them insight, visitors may view your blog as a source of valuable information. If Google views your blog as authoritative for your niche, it can get high search rankings for your geographic location.

SEO techniques are important, but they do not guarantee high search rankings. You can still gain widespread search engine and social media visibility by using pay-per-click (PPC) ads. This type of advertising is ideal for reaching your target market at a more affordable cost than what traditional media offers. PPC advertising can generate leads immediately, but at first you usually need to experiment to find out what type of campaign strategies work the best.


Stand Out in Your Community

Many dental offices compete on a local level. So how does one dentist stand out from another if they offer the same services for about the same prices? That’s a question each dentist must answer for themselves. Just be aware that the best way to get high search rankings in Google is if your business corners a certain niche market.

Think of stories in your community that you can associate with and create content about. Perhaps there are annual events in your neighborhood that you can promote as a public service. Be sure to connect your actual patients with your online community by publishing your domain, email address and social media page on your physical marketing materials. Ultimately, the more your content stands out online, the better chances you’ll be remembered.



The secrets to achieving successful digital marketing for dentists revolve around working with knowledgeable digital marketing professionals. You can attract new clients by building a compelling website and integrating it with social media profiles. Consider saving time and money by hiring a seasoned team to attract new patients to your business through dental online marketing.

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How Social Media Is Changing the Game for Medical Providers and Healthcare

How Social Media Is Changing the Game for Medical Providers and Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

It’s safe to say that we’ve come a long way from the days of AOL Instant Messaging and MySpace top 8. In less than a decade, the applications of social media have burgeoned as the technology has transformed from just a personal networking platform, to a valuable tool capable of connecting people to new ideas, greater information, and even better health.

From dispensing health advice to connecting with potential patients, there is no question that the role of social media  in recent years — and it’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Many providers are embracing this valuable new tool, jumping on the opportunity to use social media for networking, medical education, patient interactions, and professional development. And as new social media platforms have popped up over the past few years, most of these providers have found a way to navigate through the concerns of HIPAA violations, privacy breaches, and professional misconduct that plagued early adopters of this technology.

How can providers maximize the impact of their social media efforts? Most of the research I’ve conducted indicates that different social platforms target different types of audiences, and each can be effectively used in different ways.



What the Research Says

In our latest research, the social media task force at the American College of Chest Physicians analyzed all discussions on sepsis, a hot topic in critical care, to identify which social media platforms can be best used to reach specific groups of people. What we found is that Reddit “ask me anything” threads target laypersons, Facebook live streams target an international physician audience, and Twitter is a mixed bag of healthcare providers, industry and patients.

Why is this useful to know? A recent survey showed that increasing numbers of tech-savvy consumers now use social media to find healthcare information and participate in health related discussions. In fact, 90 percent of the youth has said they would trust medical information shared by doctors on social media. Knowing which platforms effectively reach which audience is extremely helpful for the medical community to disseminate important healthcare information to these various groups.

How Are Patients Using Social Media?

Besides medical providers using social media, many patients are also turning to social media to document their healthcare stories online. There are a number of popular YouTube channels dedicated to showcasing the patient experience and highlighting patient struggles with chronic illnesses. For example, a simple search of cystic fibrosis pulls up videos with titles such as “a day in the life of a cystic fibrosis patient” and “living with cystic fibrosis”. Social media has become more than social — it’s generated the birth of a virtual community, a way for people to connect from across the world and create a new kind of support network that has never before existed.

Social Media and Disease Awareness

And lastly, let’s not forget the significant application of medical research groups and charities using social media to raise awareness about little-understood diseases. Who can forget the famous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, one of the most effective disease awareness campaigns to date, in which over 17 million people participated by soaking themselves in ice water for all their Facebook friends to see? In years prior a charity such as ALSA would have received $1 million in donations at most. The summer of the infamous Ice Bucket Challenge brought in over $115 million in donations to fund research for the disease and its cure!

It’s indisputable that social media technology has now emerged as a reliable and powerful presence within medicine, and I hope to see it continue to grow as innovators and providers join forces to make the technology even more effective. I strongly encourage all healthcare providers to get involved and take advantage of all the benefits that social media can provide!

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How to Effectively Create Healthcare Facebook Ads 

How to Effectively Create Healthcare Facebook Ads  | Social Media and Healthcare |

In 2017, it is necessary for healthcare organizations to be active on social media platforms such as Facebook. Facebook allows organizations to create content that reaches consumers where they are spending the most time consuming content – online through social media.

Use Engaging Content

According to a study by Wordstream, the average click-through rate (CTR) for healthcare ads on Facebook is 0.83%, lower than the 0.9% average for ads across all industries. In order to achieve better returns on ad campaigns, hospitals and health care providers can use creative imagery that tells a story through a friendly face or provides a testimonial about the services they offer.

Healthcare marketing that connects and engages with the target audience features content that is relevant and builds trust in the brand. One way for organizations to share experiences which relate to their audience is to test different media types in their promotions. Carousel ads with multiple photos, customer and employee testimonials, virtual tours, and 360 degree photos and video are all ways to get more engagement on the social network. 

Be Aware of Ad Policies

Before launching an ad campaign on Facebook, make sure that your ad content is compliant with Facebook regulations. Your ads must keep all patient information secure from others obtaining their private information.

Additionally, Facebook requires that ads do not discriminate against individuals with disabilities or medical conditions, as well as other prohibited content. Be sure to review such guidelines before creating your ads. Otherwise, Facebook will reject the ads and you will need to adjust accordingly if you want your ads to run on the social platform.

Reach Your Audience

Though you cannot target Facebook users by characteristics such as condition or disability, you can reach your audience based on gender, location, age, income, demographics, and psychographics. Narrow your targeted ads further by targeting Facebook users that have visited your organization’s website and will recognize your organization when he/she sees your ads.

You can also nurture your organization’s brand by getting your ads in front of already loyal customers by using Facebook Custom Audiences. However, you need to make sure that such ads are relevant to this audience. If you plan on doing so, create one ad set that reaches existing customers and one ad set that reaches potential customers.

A/B Test the Ad Sets

Use A/B testing to better compare the results of your Facebook ads. Test variables such as content, target audience, ad type, or images. For example, a hospital has created two Facebook ad sets with the same type of ads and ad copy; one single ad with an image of the hospital doctors and a carousel ad with photos of the facility’s technology.  The only difference between the two ad sets is the content that is written in each set.

The hospital will be able to determine the most cost-effective ads by examining the performance of the two sets based on the results of the data. If ad copy A generated more engagement through clicks, likes, and shares than ad copy B, then the hospital will be able to hypothesize that the content in ad copy A spoke more to the target audience than ad copy B. Remember, you can test different variables to determine what works best for your organization’s Facebook ads.

In need of Facebook ads for your healthcare organization? Contact BlaineTurner Advertising for effective strategies such as Facebook as well as other marketing and public relations services.



Marketing Profs, 2017: Facebook Advertising Benchmarks for 18 Industries

Media Post, 2017: The ABCs of A/B Testing in Healthcare Marketing 

Reach Local, 2017: 5 Facebook Advertising Tips for Your Healthcare Marketing

Word Stream, 2017: 5 Ridiculously Powerful Facebook Ad Targeting Strategies

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Experts say pharma's move to Snapchat is in the making

Experts say pharma's move to Snapchat is in the making | Social Media and Healthcare |

If the most adventurous marketers had their way, pharma would have made its presence felt on social media years before it did. Alas, their more skeptical MLR peers preached caution, and it wasn't until a year or two ago that most brand teams were comfortable promoting products and running unbranded awareness campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like.

However, Snapchat has largely been excluded from pharma's social media charge, for reasons rational and otherwise. As we head into the final quarter of 2017, there's reason to believe this is about to change.


For the uninitiated — and judging by anecdotal evidence, more pharma execs match that description than you'd expect — Snapchat's appeal owes everything to the ephemeral nature of its content. Like other platforms, Snapchat lets users share photos or short videos, dubbed “snaps,” with friends — or, in the case of pharma brands, patients, caregivers, physicians, conference attendees, and any number of others. But what distinguishes it from other social media channels could be behind the reluctance of pharma brands to push forward more aggressively with Snapchat-centric initiatives.

Perhaps the most perplexing aspect to marketers and target audiences unfamiliar with Snapchat is that users don't create traditional profiles or pages. Similarly, there is no stream for friends or followers to scroll through. When users post a snap, they can choose how long it will be visible — anywhere between one and 10 seconds; it will disappear entirely after 24 hours. In other words, Snapchat content is temporary by design, unlike the great majority of content created by pharma and healthcare marketers.

See also: Drugmakers test out Tumblr, to tap specific audiences

Another difference between more well-known platforms and Snapchat is the absence of hashtags. Users can scroll through top stories in categories including music, sports, and fashion, but they can't search for a specific hashtag. This, according to pharma and healthcare Snapchat skeptics, has something of a disorienting effect.


In January, healthcare-centric digital marketing firm Omnicore reported there are more than 300 million monthly active users on Snapchat, with 100 million checking in on a daily basis. But the main reason pharma marketers have largely ignored Snapchat might be related to the demographics of its user base. While the platform is growing, it remains unclear if patients, physicians, and others that pharma seeks to reach are sold on the platform.

The Snapchat user base is quite young: Per parent company Snap's IPO filing in February, 71% of users are younger than 34, and 45% are between the ages of 18 and 24. However, according to research firm MoffettNathanson, the fastest-growing group of users is the over-35 set. In Q4 2016, 33 million people older than 35 used Snapchat, versus a mere 10 million in the same period in 2015.


This growth among slightly older audiences, especially women older than 35, could prompt pharma and healthcare marketers to take a closer look at Snapchat. It's also worth noting the continued embrace from millennials — who, despite stereotypes, aren't children anymore.

As Klick Health's senior director of social media Brad Einarsen points out, many millennials are becoming parents themselves. “After you have a child, health becomes very important. And as you get older, health takes on a bigger profile,” he notes. He adds that as millennials age, their wants and needs will increasingly overlap with pharma's marketing priorities.

Much of the movement to date has been seen in and around industry events. For instance, at a recent meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the winners of an undergraduate poster contest were interviewed and the videos were posted as snaps. “The winners were already using Snapchat and knew what to do,” says Rick Buck, senior director of communications and PR for AACR. He notes the format forced the students to tell their stories succinctly, but in a way that was low-pressure.

See also: How can drugmakers tell better stories? Try Instagram

Right now, very few pharma or healthcare brands are active on Snapchat. But Julie Aliaga, director of social media at CMI/Compas, says that doesn't mean there is no interest. “It is being leveraged from a conference standpoint,” she explains, offering the example of Snapchat use at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in June.

One of Snapchat's unique features is the ease of setting up geofilters, which are special filters that coordinate with the user's location. At ASCO, Aliaga says, vendors created geofilters at their booths, allowing visitors to snap themselves and “really get folks excited and engaged to attend the conference.”

However, outside of the industry-klatch environment, evidence of brands using Snapchat is scant. Among the few acknowledged adopters is Gilead Sciences, which has promoted Truvada (for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis) on the platform.


Of course, given that Snapchat users are not required to create a profile or page, there could be more stealth campaigns, Einarsen notes. “If a marketer is using it, you won't know unless you are part of the targeted market,” he explains. “If I put up a post, my friends and followers can see that, then it goes away. It's different from other platforms that have more permanence.”

Einarsen believes pharma and healthcare brands may be in the midst of developing Snapchat campaigns, a process that can take three to six months. Aliaga agrees, noting “people are excited to get out there. I think the next year is only going to continue to show it more.”


There are several compelling reasons for the industry to consider Snapchat, from the aforementioned shifting demographics to the directness and intimacy of the platform itself — and that's before one takes into account the possible prestige and credibility boost that comes with being one of the first in the pool, so to speak. And while there are potential pitfalls, none seem insurmountable.

The internal ones may prove the trickiest. For a marketing team considering a Snapchat campaign, Einarsen suggests involving the regulatory department as early as possible. Doing so will allow those tasked with protecting the brand to do their jobs effectively and drastically increase the chances the campaign will be approved.

See also: Using humor: Why pharma doesn't need to fear social media

It goes without saying that brands hoping to up their Snapchat presence should be motivated by impulses more profound than “well, lots of people are using it.” Which is to say: strategy shouldn't be an afterthought. “We like to partner with clients to figure out why they are using a platform,” Aliaga notes. “We ask, ‘What are your goals? What are you trying to accomplish?' We think about the strategy.”

Another potential benefit for healthcare and pharma teams is the available screen real estate on Snapchat — quite useful for marketers that have a lot of information to convey. As opposed to Twitter, there are no character limits. Because Snapchat is designed for and only accessible on mobile platforms, it is critical all content be optimized for mobile devices.

See also: 8 ways for pharma to improve the way it uses Twitter

Finally, there's the Snapchat voice and tone, which Einarsen likens to “hanging out with your friends and chatting.” Twitter, on the other hand, is “more about learning things.” If they hope to craft messages that will resonate, brands must master the platform's default tone. “Humor and very, very quick hits” are the key, explains Einarsen.

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How Medical Providers Benefit From Social Media Platforms

How Medical Providers Benefit From Social Media Platforms | Social Media and Healthcare |

Many medical providers and patients both can rip great benefits from it. In case you are wondering how can medical providers benefit from social media platforms, then following are few key points that can explain it for you.

Better reach to targeted audience:  If you are a medical provider and people don’t know about you, then you will not have more patient as well. With the help of social media platforms, you can broadcast your qualities, your skills or other things to the world and you can get more benefits as well.

Easy to promote your brand:  If a medical provider wants to promote its brand, then also social media can be a life saver for him or her. In fact, there are some good medical providers that are taking the help of this medium to promote their brand and they are getting a positive result as well.

Better connection with patient:  With the help of social media, medical providers can have better communicate with their patients. They can use this line of communication to keep an eye on medical followups and updates. Dr. Davis Nguyen, a renown Beverly Hills plastic surgeon understands the importance this direct line of communication and the benefits that it has when used appropriately.

Better information sharing:  Sometimes medical providers need to share some information with their fellow experts or with patients. In either of the case, social media could be a great platform. Experts can share or write their opinion or things on their social network and then their message can reach to the targeted audience in easy ways.

Update for the new advancements:  Innovation and new research never stops in the medical field. “Being informed of the latest developments and tools available benefits the client immensely as it provides the medical provider with the best resources to treat the client’s condition,” shared the experts at Platinum Care LA Thanks to social media, medical providers can remain updated and informed with the latest advancement without spending much time for same. Needless to say, this is another important benefit that medical providers can get with this option.

All in all, social media platforms can be a powerful marketing tool when used appropriately. The key lies in not only using the platforms for gain but also providing some sort of value to the targeted market.

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Will mental health clinicians become liable for missing your latest Facebook post?

Will mental health clinicians become liable for missing your latest Facebook post? | Social Media and Healthcare |

ne day not long ago, police forcibly brought a man to the hospital after he updated his profile picture on Facebook. He was in his late 20s and had a long history of suicide attempts, a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and a close relationship with his mental-healthcare team, which typically consists of physicians, nurses, and social workers. On the day of the incident, the team leader—the doctor who makes medical treatment decisions—reportedly stumbled on his Facebook page by accident. Since she had visited it several months earlier to keep tabs on him, his name autofilled the search box when she typed the first name of her friend, the same as the client’s. It brought up his profile picture, and it was concerning: He was holding what looked like a gun pressed to his head. The team leader thought he’d already gone through with it—other photos showed suicide letters to a friend and his parents.

When he got to the hospital, he let his doctors know how angry he was at their intrusion and his involuntary hospitalization. He denied wanting to end his life, but remained there for several days, during which time police searched his house for weapons, finding only a pellet gun.

The case of this man, who went unnamed to protect his identity, appeared in a 2012 journal article by University of Washington clinical psychologist Keren Lehavot and her colleagues. The incident is extreme, but isn’t necessarily an outlier; the Internet has propelled mental health clinicians into new ethical and legal territory. It raises questions about the accuracy of online information, patients’ right to privacy, and doctors’ liability when it comes to their patients’ online behavior. If the doctor-patient relationship was a meticulously crafted house of cards, held together by historically entrenched relations of power and professionalism, then the Internet is the toddler that toppled the house and bent the cards. It’s becoming a common, if not an uneasy, practice for mental health clinicians to Google their patients and make decisions based on online information.

“Anecdotally, I know we do it all the time,” says Liliya Gershengoren, a psychiatrist and professor at Cornell University. She recently concluded from a survey she conducted that an overwhelming majority of psychiatrists and residents at one United States academic hospital had Googled a patient at some point in their careers. “I wanted to get some data to back up my anecdotal data,” she says.

Practitioners might wonder whether the patient is telling the whole story—might an online search add more perspective?

In May, she presented these survey results at a panel at the American Psychiatric Association’s 2017 annual meeting. Out of 48 staff doctors and 34 residents who responded anonymously, 93 percent of staff and 94 percent of residents reported Googling a patient at least once. She found that 17 percent of staff and 40 percent of residents Googled their patients on a frequent or semi-regular basis in the ER (compared to 5 percent of staff and 15 percent of residents in inpatient settings).

Searching for patients’ information online gives physicians a way to gather collateral data about a patient who either cannot or will not communicate important clinical information, says Paul Appelbaum, a psychiatrist, professor at Columbia University, and  world expert in medical ethics and the law. He also presented at the panel on patient-targeted Googling, and recently co-authored an article in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry on the ethics of using patients’ digital footprints in mental healthcare.

Appelbaum wasn’t surprised to hear that staff and residents frequently find themselves Googling patients in the ER. That online collateral information is especially useful there, he says, where patients may be psychotic, intoxicated, or suicidal. In these acute settings, social media can provide clinicians with valuable context to make decisions—whether the patient uses drugs or alcohol, has self-harmed, or has family support is
often evident online.


The Future of the Web Is 100 Years Old

By Alex Wright

The Earth may not be flat, but the web certainly is. “There is no ‘top’ to the World-Wide Web,” declared a 1992 foundational document from the World Wide Web Consortium—meaning that there is no central server or organizational authority...READ MORE


Clinicians may also Google their patients during ongoing treatment, whether in a clinic or private office. Here, practitioners might wonder whether the patient is telling the whole story—might an online search add more perspective? In some cases, patients themselves might request that their healthcare providers check their online profiles, a scenario that 12 percent of physicians encountered in the outpatient setting in Gershengoren’s study. Videos, for example, can reveal important information to clinicians about patients’ mental status, including their mood, rate of speech, or the extent to which their thoughts are organized. “I’ve had patients say that they don’t want to talk to me because, ‘It’s already online, so go on and check my YouTube page,’ ” says John Luo, a psychiatrist and University of California professor of psychiatry and medical informatics, who also presented on the panel.

There are risks inherent in learning about patients from their online footprints: Clinicians don’t always know if their patients’ online information is accurate or timely, and by accessing it without consent, they risk breaching the patient’s privacy and trust. “When treating clinicians know more about their patient than patients think they know, using that information can be extraordinarily awkward,” says Appelbaum—you’ll eventually need to disclose where you learned it. Luo explains, “When you disclose it, you also have to consider: What does that do to your relationship with that patient, especially if somebody is paranoid?”

In searching for their patients online, clinicians may be unwittingly setting legal precedents for mental healthcare. As more and more providers Google to guide their decisions, they may be shifting the clinical standards to which all practitioners are held. “The standard of care is developed by the clinical community itself,” says Appelbaum. “What most people do, or at least what a substantial number of people do, becomes a standard of care.”

If practitioners neglect that standard, and something preventable goes wrong, they risk accusations of malpractice. In other words, if patient-targeted online searches become the new standard of care, then clinicians could become liable for information patients post online. If a patient leaves a suicidal message on Facebook, and the clinician misses it, there’s a future—seemingly more plausible by the day—in which that clinician could be sued for malpractice if the patient then attempts suicide.

How likely that future is “will depend on us,” Appelbaum suggests, “on the clinical professions and how we choose to use the ability that the Internet is giving us.”

Records get routinely accessed by third parties, occasionally without the patient’s consent.

The social and legal ramifications of patient-targeted Googling also extend to patients themselves. “By going online and putting what we find in the chart—whether that’s a summary or a cut-and-paste excerpt or a screenshot—we are creating a new kind of medical record information that didn’t exist previously,” says Appelbaum. “Unlike some of those sources—which may be hard to find, or ephemeral, and may ultimately disappear—medical records are forever.”

Those records get routinely accessed by third parties, occasionally without the patient’s consent. The most obvious culprits are insurance companies, which regularly review medical records. But medical charts also play a role in legal proceedings, in cases of accidental injury, child custody disputes, or criminal cases. The data they contain can also be a target of criminal profiteering. “We have hackers looking for that information,” Luo explains, “because they can sell it.”

The growing openness of our lives, which we increasingly spend online, has given rise to a new kind of understanding between patients and practitioners—and it goes both ways. “Everything about our online lives is available to all of our patients, just as their information is available to us,” says Appelbaum. “So that’s an equalizing change in terms of power and knowledge. But it’s something that clinicians have to learn to deal with.”


While doctors may feel more exposed than ever, there are certainly benefits to this shift. In cancer care settings, for example, where mental health clinicians can offer psychotherapy to medically ill patients, online platforms provide new spaces for building community. A guideline on using social media, published recently in the Journal of Oncology Practice, explains that, while clinicians should maintain professional boundaries and privacy, there are many positive ways to connect with patients online. Some doctors have created Facebook communities to help patients connect with fellow patients and families, creating a platform to share coping strategies and provide reliable medical information vetted by the clinician.

Gershengoren, who works as a medical psychiatrist, echoes these guidelines. “If we can use social media for any kind of needs of our patients—like emotional needs, or psychosocial issues—I’m very much in favor of that. Especially because I think for a lot of patients, social media is much more familiar to them than anything else.”

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These Two Sisters Are Using Social Media To Share Their Journey Through Medical School And Residency

These Two Sisters Are Using Social Media To Share Their Journey Through Medical School And Residency | Social Media and Healthcare |

Meet the two sisters who are using social media to share their love of medicine: Patricia and Stephanie Egwuatu. 

Raised in Auburn, Washington, Patricia and Stephanie shared the same dream of becoming a doctor. For Patricia, who is currently a second year family medicine resident at the University of Washington, she became inspired to pursue a career in medicine after hearing her parents' conversations about family members in Nigeria and Uganda passing away due to lack of healthcare access. 

 "This shaped and molded me to have the desire to provide health care in third world countries and to open access to undeserved communities here in Washington state," Patricia explained.  

For her sister Stephanie, currently a second year medical student at the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, it was her Pediatrician, who she went to go see at the age of 8 for her chronic migraines, that sparked her interest in medicine.

"He showed me how it feels to touch lives as he touched mine. Now I'm following my dreams of becoming a physician," Stephanie wrote in an Instagram post. 

Stephanie played D1 basketball in college, and although most thought she was only there for sports, she remained focused on her real goal: to get into medical school. 

Now the two are living out their dreams and hoping to inspire others that they  too can achieve their goals. 

To keep up with their journey through medical school and residency, you can follow their Instagram page: @twosisterstwodoctors 

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What's your fav pharma company on Snapchat?

What's your fav pharma company on Snapchat? | Social Media and Healthcare |

It’s only a matter of time before a pharmaceutical company breaks through with audiences through an award-winning Instagram story or an ephemeral Snap.

Despite being makers, innovators and even at times magicians (e.g. enabling patients to use the immune system – the “Force” within – in order to conquer an ailment or illness), beyond a few exceptions, pharmaceutical companies have largely been laggards when it comes to adopting social and digital communications. Certainly, there’s a robust pipeline of reasons for why pharmaceutical companies have been slow to evolve: from hurdles in digital transformation (e.g. cultural issues, archaic IT systems, limited digital skills, or a lack of clear leadership vision) to the perceived risks associated with breaking from traditional tactics in favor of digital-first approaches. That said, a survey from earlier this year found that 18 percent of healthcare companies planned on increasing their traditional consumer advertising spend, whereas 50% reported planning to increase their digital spend.

What does it take for a pharmaceutical company to expand its digital ecosystem and engage audiences and influencers more effectively online?

The secret to amazing content begins with listening.
The same survey of healthcare marketing and communications professionals found that only 33 percent were using research, data and analytics to inform their consumer marketing tactics. To no surprise, 54 percent planned on increasing its use and application. Here at Ketchum, research and analytics is a common thread throughout our planning, strategy, execution, and optimization processes. Research, data and analytics that are often derived from listening are critical components that inform how to increase social and digital activities. Collaborating with clients to fine tune their social listening is essential in order to tease out actionable insights that support greater agility, drive new initiatives and inform marketing and communications strategies. In the pharmaceutical industry, here are a few of the queries where social listening can be invaluable:

  • What are audiences saying about your company or brands?
  • Who are the influencers within your key therapeutic areas and what are they talking about?
  • What are your competitors doing and where is the white space opportunity?
  • Are there wider health and wellness or pop culture trends that your brand can authentically contribute to?
  • Is your content meeting its goals and objectives, driving engagement, or reaching the right audience?
  • Does your content’s performance inform your content creation and publishing on a regular basis?

Don’t be everywhere. Be where it matters.
A pharmaceutical company’s UK commercial team wants to launch a corporate oncology Facebook page. Sound familiar? I often work with clients to address the challenges this can create by introducing governance, guidelines, processes, and procedures that empower channel expansion and enable experimentation. As part of any expansion effort, it is crucial to examine the local team’s goals and objectives, leverage social listening insights, adapt global content strategies locally, map audience priorities and channel preferences, develop personas, or perform journey mapping. During the process we also often help to:

  • Navigate regulatory concerns, such as those related to branded/product content appearing adjacent to disease awareness and education content in user feeds.
  • Enable commercial teams to balance publishing better content with promotional content and advertisements.
  • Ensure approved content reaches its intended audience (e.g. global versus local).

Content – even in healthcare – must be provocative.
Audiences are inundated by health and wellness content all the time. Pharmaceutical companies can stand out from the sea of sameness by maintaining standards for what quality content looks like, as well as by enabling their internal stakeholders to easily identify, process and share the stories that matter most. Additionally, being provocative can include getting greater value from the stories that have performed well. This might be accomplished through telling patients via new mediums (e.g. creating a GIF series from an infographic), being on additional channels, or even by amplifying them further with paid promotion.

Pharmaceutical companies would be well advised to spend more focused attention and resources on their social and digital presences, which will inevitably bear fruit both near term and long term.

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Social media in today's medical practice: the mismatch between current physician usage and consumer preferences

Social media in today's medical practice: the mismatch between current physician usage and consumer preferences | Social Media and Healthcare |



To determine if current use of social media by physicians is meeting consumer preferences.



Physician users of social media, recruited via private physician Facebook groups, were asked to complete an electronic survey evaluating the use of social media in medical practice. Social media consumers, recruited via various platforms (blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), were asked to complete an electronic survey evaluating desired use of social media by the medical community.



A total of 200 physicians and 3,081 social media consumers participated in the surveys. A majority were Caucasian (81.9%, 81%), women (100%, 98.9%) of reproductive age (18-44 years) (80.4%, 92.8%) for physician and consumer respondents, respectively. Many physicians were OBGYNs (48.5%) with 43.2% in private practice, and 24.1% in academics. The majority of consumers desired to learn medical information via social media (85%). Similarly, most physicians believed that consumers would enjoy posts about medical information (83%) and would schedule appointments with physicians they follow on social media (92%). However, only 49.2% of physicians reported having a professional social media account, and many indicated they would not post medically related information (50.8%).The majority who indicated they would not post cited a desire to keep their personal life private (52.2%) and felt that professional and personal lives should remain separate (83.5%). Of physicians who do currently post on social media, most enjoyed posting medical information on Facebook (88.4% versus 2.1% for Instagram), whereas consumers indicated a desire to receive medical information via Instagram (44% versus 18.1% for Facebook). While topics of highest interest to consumers were medical facts and “behind the scenes” as physicians, most physicians agreed that they would post information about medical facts (71.2%) but would not post “behind the scenes” topics (59.6%).



Opportunities for recruiting patients and educating target populations via social media are likely underutilized by current physicians. Of those who are using social media, there is a mismatch between platforms and information preferred by consumers and those currently used and distributed by physicians. Efforts to recruit patients and spread medical information could be improved by targeting platforms and topics preferred by current consumers.

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Facebook wants pharma money

Facebook wants pharma money | Social Media and Healthcare |

Facebook wants pharma money and they want it for everything from advertising new drugs to clinical trials but obstacles still remain. 

CNBC recently said “some drug companies have been reluctant to use Facebook due to concerns that patients will share sensitive information like medical side effects and adverse events”.  However, patients will tell you, if you listen, that they are afraid to post or follow health conditions on social media due to retargeting.

Two months ago I was doing some research for a client on MS and social media.  For more than two days I received “suggested posts/groups’ to follow/read.  When I had my client do the same thing she became incensed telling me “this is last things MS patients want”.

Can it be done?

However Facebook can become a valuable tool for pharma marketers. Social media is about being informed, not being sold, when it comes to health care .   Pharma can leverage social media, but it’s going to require some belt loosening with regulatory and legal people as well as dedicated social media marketing people who understand what their audience wants and needs in information.

The key challenge is being able to have a conversation without having to have every word cleared by your M L R team. When it comes to adverse events pharma can monitor social media and give patients who report an adverse event an eMail address or URL to report their event.  The idea that pharma would ask someone on social media for their name and address is beyond comprehension.

The Facebook problem…

In an editorial in today’s Times called “Facebook wins, Democracy Loses” the Times brutally tore into Facebook over the latest scandal involving fake accounts buying political ads.  They went on to say..

Anyone can deploy Facebook ads. They are affordable and easy. That’s one reason that Facebook has grown so quickly, taking in $27.6 billion in revenue in 2016, virtually all of it from advertisers, by serving up the attention of two billion Facebook users across the globe.  A core principle in political advertising is transparency.  None of that transparency matters to Facebook. Ads on the site meant for, say, 20- to 30-year-old home-owning Latino men in Northern Virginia would not be viewed by anyone else, and would run only briefly before vanishing. The potential for abuse is vast.

Can a disreputable supplement company, for example, post an ad that looks like a pharma ad?You betcha and who do you think will take the fall?

We tested a facebook post targeted at depression suffers that had good information about getting help for depression and it did very well.  The key was that the post was informational, not a sales pitch.  If someone wanted more information it took them to an unbranded site that was rich in content.  When we rad the post traffic spiked with a majority of users going to the unbranded site and onto the branded site.  However, when we changed the post to “a sales pitch” it did very poorly.

The lessons are there if pharma wants to really learn.

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Instagram Can Diagnose Depression "Better Than Doctors"

Instagram Can Diagnose Depression "Better Than Doctors" | Social Media and Healthcare |

Instagram can be used to diagnose depression more accurately than doctors, according to researchers from the University of Vermont and Harvard University.

In a paper published this month in EPJ Data Science, Dr Christopher Danforth and Dr Andrew Reece discovered that an algorithm used to flag key signs in participants’ Instagram posts could diagnose depression 28% more effectively than doctors.

The study looked at nearly 44,000 photos posted by 166 participants, 71 of whom had been diagnosed with clinical depression.

Researchers found that while depressed participants posted more images with faces in them, healthy individuals’ photographs tended to have more people in them. Depressed individuals were also less likely to use filters on their posts.

The algorithm used by scientists accurately identified depression 70% of the time, compared to just 42% by US doctors. This isn’t the first time that research suggests social media can be used as a predictor for mental health.

A 2013 study by Microsoft Research analysed how Twitter could be used to measure and predict major depression. Another study by researchers at the University of Michigan and University of Leuven found that Facebook usage could be used to predict a decline in wellbeing in young adults.


The study authors have said that they have not created a diagnostic tool, but a “proof-of-concept for a new way to help people”. In a recent blog post, Dr Reece said: “These and other recent findings indicate that social media data may be a valuable resource for developing efficient, low-cost, and accurate predictive mental health screening methods.”

Fellow researcher Dr Danforth spoke of the potential applications for such research. “Imagine an app you can install on your phone that pings your doctor for a check-up when your behaviour changes for the worse, potentially before you even realise there is a problem.”

Happiful magazine will revisit the connection between mental health and social media in greater detail in 2018.

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A pediatrician was bullied by his fellow physicians on Twitter

A pediatrician was bullied by his fellow physicians on Twitter | Social Media and Healthcare |

#Tweetiatrician is a common hashtag used by pediatricians as a way I assumed to find advocates for children’s issues.

Recently, I used this hashtag to start a new Twitter account. I sought educated dialogue on Medicaid, health care reform, vaccination, and other pediatric topics.

I am a pediatric emergency medicine physician and consider myself a strong advocate for children and seldom agree with any political party. My advocacy work in many forms is not dissimilar to thousands of pediatricians. Clinically, I see the lack of access due to social issues, poor insurance reimbursement, ED overuse, and the challenge as we try to influence populations to care for themselves by simply brushing teeth, taking asthma medicine and stopping smoking.



My middle age does lend me to seek more perspective and not just prove myself right like my younger self.  I am frustrated by having to switch channels or read two articles to gain balance perspectives.  I look at politics like medicine and try to find evidence support with a focus on solutions.  Frankly, I thought all tweetiatricians would act the same.

I was wrong. I began to follow about 100 tweetiatricians.  I saw many posts rightfully suggesting Medicaid is under attack.  My tweet suggested that Medicaid, though needed, is woefully inadequate. Hospitals and pediatricians can’t make ends meet without a balanced ratio of commercial to Medicaid patients.  I worry more insurance has contributed to the rising health expenditures.  I thought good points for discussion.


Not so fast: my tweets were rebuked with political posts about rising insurance coverage and suggestions of me being anti-kids by not advocating for Medicaid.  My replies intended to foster dialogue went unanswered.

Next, I examined the amazing number of polarized political tweets and re-tweets of tweetiatricians based on opinion and skewed facts.  I really stepped in the Twitter pothole when one of these tweetiatricians mentioned giving a lecture on media advocacy at an upcoming meeting.   I asked if the presentation would offer more balance?  You know, perhaps recognize that there are two sides to every opinion, a need to focus on issues and solutions based on evidence instead of politics.

BOOM. My Twitter account exploded as tweetiatricians came on attack with vitriol. I was asked to argue a side rather than suggesting two sides and seeking truth.  Dialogue suggestions were met with highly liked and re-tweeted fire such as being a “MGMA hat wearing fool.” Troll, gadfly and being trite were insults lobbed at me. I suggested hate knows no political party. Ridicule followed and I was being told my opinion didn’t matter based on having so few followers.   My account was blocked, replies ignored and my LinkedIn profile examined.  I removed my name from my account, changed my Twitter handle, and backed away.


As the AAP defines it:  Bullying includes threats, spreading rumors, physical or verbal attacks, and intentional exclusion or marginalization.

My sadness is great for these tweetiatricians I randomly followed.   I am hopeful they don’t represent all. Social media is clearly dangerous and fosters single mindedness.  Pediatricians should be above this behavior and partisan polarization.  I am no longer a #tweetiatrician and perhaps let the bullies win.  I hope that others will recognize the need to see any and all sides.   Kids have issues, and partisan politics and bullying is not the way to solve them.   It’s time for a new mindset and a new hashtag that unites and not divides.

Mick Connors is a pediatric emergency physician.

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Why Your Potential Patients Are Like Hansel & Gretel—And How To Leave A Trail That Leads Them To Your Waiting Room

Why Your Potential Patients Are Like Hansel & Gretel—And How To Leave A Trail That Leads Them To Your Waiting Room | Social Media and Healthcare |

Whether they’re seeking a doctor to correct sight or hearing loss, or for consultations to address cosmetic or weight loss concerns, patients today have more control than ever when it comes to deciding who they will entrust to solve their health conditions. And the tool that’s driving their individual care choices is no longer the family practice doctor or even the insurance companies. It’s the internet—namely search engines like Google and social media outlets like Facebook.

Consider this: According to the Pew Research Center 74% of internet users engage on social media and 80% of those internet users are specifically looking for health information. Nearly half of those are searching for information about a specific doctor or health professional.  

In other words, millions of people globally are using online searches and wading through vast amounts of information in their quest for treatment options and doctor recommendations.

For many practitioners who are used to previous generations who relied on family doctor referrals or flipping through the yellow pages, this can be bewildering. But think of it this way: your patients are like Hansel and Gretel, lost in the woods. The trail makers they’re looking for are, “What’s my condition?” “How is it fixed?” “Who can help me?” “Where can I find the best treatment?”

Your job is to help them find their way out of the woods, which you do by targeting your medical practice marketing like a trail of strategically placed breadcrumbs. Just blanketing the woods with breadcrumbs—or the internet with a flood of information about your practice—won’t show them the clear path. You have to know which turns they’re be making, and how to point them toward your practice at those junctures so they don’t get off track and head in another direction.

Crumb 1: Awareness

Who is lost and what’s motivating them to look for your help? Marketing to a specific patient will help you attract patients who are an excellent fit for your practice. Be aware of who Hansel and Gretel as patients are by evaluating your current patients. Why have they chosen you? Is it your reputation for successful lasik surgeries, or cosmetic laser procedures, or your patient referral rate?

If Google is the proverbial woods, when these patients conduct their searches they should be able to find your practice easily. Write about your top practices and procedures and promote them on your website and on social media. Not just once, but over and over, with examples of how it’s worked for others, along with titles and keywords that target the subjects. Incorporate popular words and phrases your patients might use to find you and/or your specialty. Need help getting started on blog post titles? We’ve written two months of free medical blog post titles that work, like “10 Myths About (Insert Illness) & Our Treatment Advice.” or “4 Keys To Choosing An Expert (Insert Specialty) Doctor.” Download the two months of medical blog post titles here.

By creating content that addresses what your patients are wondering about, you’re essentially dropping the crumbs that say, “We see you and we’re over here! Come this way!” In short, the results that appear on the first page of a Google search are the options prospective patients will most likely consider when determining their next step. A good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy will also help your practice jump to the top of search results.

Crumb 2: Consideration Options

Once your patients have found your first crumbs and are aware of who you are, you need to show them how your practice is a fit to solve their problem. At this stage they’ve gathered enough information to be aware of several medical practices that might help them and are considering which is the best fit, so you need to keep showing them how you’re better or different than the other healthcare contenders.

By providing your patients with free information to answer their medical questions, you not only position yourself as an expert in your field but you also become a resource that potential patients feel they can trust. Create digital content like checklists of symptoms, downloadable brochures or eBooks, or simple infographics about what happens before, during and after a procedure.

You don’t need to use patient’s names, just verifiably true examples of people who have had conditions like these potential patients, and how you’ve solved their condition. Use blog posts and checklists, etc., to show them what you’ve done for others like them, and how they too can be free from the pain or worry their malady is causing.

Crumb 3. Action Steps

When your prospective patient is at this stage of their journey to your waiting room, they’re almost clear of the woods. They see what you have to offer, have considered their options with other medical providers, and are ready to head your way.

This is the stage that medical practices too often abandon that trail of crumbs and consider the journey done, but this is a big mistake. At every stage of the journey—with each blog post or content created—you need to provide a way for potential patients to submit their contact information, or book a free consultation or appointment online.  

This can be as simple as a link at the end of each blog post that takes them to your “contact us” or “request a consultation” page which invites them to enter their name, email, and phone number. Until they’re ready to take action, they may not enter this info unless it’s required to download a resource you’re offering such as a checklist or symptoms quiz, but make it available on every post and page of your website—including prominently on your homepage.

Once you have their name and email address, they become new contacts and you can nurture them with automated, yet personal, emails to gently remind them that you are there to help and encourage them to take the next step into your office.

These nurturing emails help you become a familiar face as well as an expert your patients can trust. Monthly email newsletters to your contacts also work well because they provide readers with a glance into what your practice has been achieving that month and what is going on in your world of health care.

Some people prefer a more personal touch, so if the situation warrants, you can even call them directly (with the phone number they provided when downloading one of your resources or filling out the “contact us” info) to inquire about a treatment they referenced or to answer any questions they may have.

Remember that people who don’t want to request a free consultation or book an appointment now may become patients later, so don’t become discouraged if your new patient list is shorter than your email list. Each patient is at a different stage in the consideration and action-taking journey and some just need extra crumbs to find their way. Occasional, nurturing and non-pushy contact will maintain the relationship and serve as a reminder that you’re there for them when they’re ready to receive care.

Then, when they do emerge from the woods and enter your office, you can reassure them that the hardest part of the journey is over and that they’re in good hands, ready for the next step.

These are the strategies Baker Labs uses in marketing for medical practices, such as a vein clinic and vascular surgery group practice that was not having success with their traditional marketing methods. To see how we increased their website traffic 300% and generated hundreds of new appointment requests online, view this case study.

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One in six doctors searches patients online

One in six doctors searches patients online | Social Media and Healthcare |

TELLING your doctor you have only four drinks a week when you actually love a bender might not be as clever as you think.

If you openly share information about your life online, there is a good chance your doctor already knows all about it.

The booze, the sun, the cigarettes, the unhealthy burgers ... everything.

But why would your doctor want to search for you online?

Some suggest it’s to discover the “truth” about their patients to help provide more accurate care, while others admit it’s simply curiosity, voyeurism or habit.

This doesn’t necessarily mean your doctor is stalking your Instagram page, although an Australian study found one in six medical practitioners admitted to going online to look for information about a patient — on par with doctors in the US and Canada.

The same amount of doctors also believe it’s OK to look up publicly available online information about a patient as part of regular clinical practice.

In an emergency such as a suicide attempt, 37.8 per cent of doctors said it would appropriate to search patient information online — 35.6 per cent were neutral and 26.7 per cent disagreed.

The internet brings new ethical and legal dilemmas to health care, each with vastly different outcomes.


If a doctor finds a picture of a patient waiting for a liver transplant drinking alcohol, they could intervene to stop the operation.

Searching online could be especially useful for ER doctors, where patients are unable to provide information due to being psychotic, intoxicated, or suicidal.

Learning about patients from their digital footprints is not without limitations, given posts may not always be accurate or timely and accessing without consent could be viewed as a breach of trust.

Researcher James Brown, who conducted the Australian research in 2014, said more needs to be done to develop stricter guidelines to avoid any trouble that may arise.

“We found poor literacy from the Australian Medical Association and very informal guidelines, which makes it easy for the doctor to make the wrong call,” he told

Mr Brown said as a younger generation of doctors who grew up with the internet start climbing the ranks, there will likely be more integration of social media and healthcare.

“Younger doctors have grown up with online communication, and frequent personal use may have instilled confidence in their ability to navigate any potentially hazardous ethical dilemmas,” he said.

“In comparison, older doctors have not been as involved in the progressive integration of social media into daily life, nor the increasing volume of its use.”

Googling patients might be helpful in the ER, but maybe not in all cases.Source:AAP

A journal article by University of Washington clinical psychologist Keren Lehavot explored a case of a man in his late 20s being forcibly brought to hospital by police after updating his profile picture on Facebook with what looked like a gun pressed to his head.

As the man was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had a long history of suicide attempts, his doctor made the decision to hospitalise her patient after seeing the picture on his page.

The man denied wanting to end his life and voiced his disgust at the intrusion of his privacy and involuntary hospitalisation, which lasted for several days.

And when police performed a search on his apartment, they only found a single pellet gun.

Professor at Columbia University Paul Appelbaum said cases such as this inadvertently set new legal precedents for mental healthcare.

“The standard of care is developed by the clinical community itself,” he told Nautilus.

“What most people do, or at least what a substantial number of people do, becomes a standard of care.”

This means if examining a patient digital footprint becomes the norm, doctors could become liable for information their client posts online — if the doctor misses a suicide post from a patient that kills themselves, the clinician could potentially be sued for malpractice.

“[That future] will depend on us, on the clinical professions and how we choose to use the ability that the internet is giving us,” he said.

Mr Appelbaum said building a profile from the digital footprint of patients could also have long-lasting repercussions.

“By going online and putting what we find in the chart — whether that’s a summary or a cut-and-paste excerpt or a screenshot — we are creating a new kind of medical record information that didn’t exist previously,” he said.

“Unlike some of those sources — which may be hard to find, or ephemeral, and may ultimately disappear — medical records are forever.”

The psychiatrist said as third parties routinely access medical records, the data collected could

play a role in legal proceedings regarding accidental injury, child custody disputes or criminal cases. This isn’t even to mention criminal profiteering.

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Social media gets the word out during Irma emergency

Social media gets the word out during Irma emergency | Social Media and Healthcare |

Worried relatives, generous volunteers, frantic neighbors, even medical providers are turning to social media now that Hurricane Irma wiped out electricity and cell service to communities across Florida, cutting off most contact with remote islands in the Keys.

"We all sort of scattered around the country when we evacuated, so we're trying to stay in touch, by phone, by Facebook, however we can," said Suzanne Trottier, who left her Key West, Florida home for Virginia almost a week ago as the hurricane approached. "Unfortunately we've been really, really looking on Facebook a lot because I have people down there I haven't heard from," she said.

One of those posts Monday morning brought a bit of good cheer: a photo of a friend who had stayed behind, smiling, healthy and dry.

"Such great news" posted Trottier's husband Neil Renouf, adding a thumbs up.

But many questions remain about the situation on the Florida Keys. Irma's eye slammed into the island chain with potentially catastrophic 130 mph winds early Sunday morning, and more than 24 hours later, friends and family still couldn't contact people who were riding out the storm. Search and rescue teams were going door-to-door.

Facebook groups were still forming Monday to help from afar. Evacuees Of The Keys members shared school closure notices, videos of destruction, and many posts from friends and relatives searching for loved ones.

Leah McNally of Fort Lauderdale, whose mother stayed behind at her home in Tavernier, on Key Largo, was relaying information onto Facebook that she heard through a walkie talkie app, Zello, which has been widely used during both Harvey and Irma.

"Everything is like a black hole right now but there are people in the keys who are relaying information," she said.

Zello was relaying calls for help, and a team of unofficial dispatchers ran rescue operations to hundreds of locations, warning boaters to stay out of the water due to alligators and snakes.

Facebook activated its Safety Check feature for people to let friends and family know they're safe. Facebook spokesman Eric Porterfield said that by Monday morning, there were already more than 600 posts asking for help, mostly fuel, shelter or a ride, although one woman with broken ribs sought medical advice.

There were also more than 2,000 postings offering help, including free housing, clothes and people with chain saws volunteering for cleanup. Facebook community fundraisers had already been launched; a woman in France had already collected $12,000 for recovery supplies in St. Barts.

Social media has been a game-changer for Americans coping with natural disasters, Fordham University communications professor Paul Levinson said.

"In the past, when power went out, the best anyone could do when a hurricane hit was turn on the battery-operated transistor radio," he said. This helped, but didn't provide detailed information about loved ones that pops up on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

"As long as the phones are charged, you can find out almost instantly that people in the danger zone are doing OK," he said.

Thus phone charging has become an act of near desperation in some shelters as evacuees tried to plug in to generator power.

Some of the online contacts have been truly critical. DaVita Kidney Care, whose patients receive life-saving dialysis three times a week, for four hours a day, was using Twitter and Facebook, along with a blog to inform patients about open centers and hospitals.

"We hope that through our social media outreach patients know they can go to any dialysis center to get care," said spokeswoman Kate Stabrawa for the Denver-based company.

People engaging with Irma from well beyond the danger zone use social media "like huddling together during bad times," said public relations expert Richard Laermer, author of "Trendspotting."

"Social media makes people feel like they are doing something, as opposed to nothing," he said.


Martha Mendoza can be reached at .

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