Social Media and Healthcare
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Optimizing the Design of Online Randomized Controlled Trials (The Sexunzipped Trial)

Optimizing the Design of Online Randomized Controlled Trials (The Sexunzipped Trial) | Social Media and Healthcare |

Sexually transmitted infection (STI), unwanted pregnancy, and abuse within relationships are public health problems that have a high impact on young people . There are high social and economic costs, making it important to identify cost-effective interventions.

Digital media interventions for sexual health have great potential because of the reach and popularity of technology such as the Internet and mobile phones, especially with young people . Such interventions offer advantages over face-to-face interventions since they can be accessed privately and at users’ convenience and programs can be tailored to meet users’ needs.

The “Sexunzipped” website is an interactive, theory-based website that aims to give young people the tools to make informed decisions about their sexual well-being . We conducted a randomized controlled trial to inform the feasibility of a future definitive online randomized controlled trial to evaluate the Sexunzipped website and to contribute to knowledge about the optimal design of online trials including the best ways to measure sexual health outcomes online .

Background: Sexual health problems such as unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection are important public health concerns and there is huge potential for health promotion using digital interventions. Evaluations of digital interventions are increasingly conducted online. Trial administration and data collection online offers many advantages, but concerns remain over fraudulent registration to obtain compensation, the quality of self-reported data, and high attrition.

Objective: This study addresses the feasibility of several dimensions of online trial design—recruitment, online consent, participant identity verification, randomization and concealment of allocation, online data collection, data quality, and retention at 3-month follow-up.

Methods: Young people aged 16 to 20 years and resident in the United Kingdom were recruited to the “Sexunzipped” online trial between November 2010 and March 2011 (n=2036). Participants filled in baseline demographic and sexual health questionnaires online and were randomized to the Sexunzipped interactive intervention website or to an information-only control website. Participants were also randomly allocated to a postal request (or no request) for a urine sample for genital chlamydia testing and receipt of a lower (£10/US$16) or higher (£20/US$32) value shopping voucher compensation for 3-month outcome data.

Results: The majority of the 2006 valid participants (90.98%, 1825/2006) were aged between 18 and 20 years at enrolment, from all four countries in the United Kingdom. Most were white (89.98%, 1805/2006), most were in school or training (77.48%, 1545/1994), and 62.81% (1260/2006) of the sample were female. In total, 3.88% (79/2036) of registrations appeared to be invalid and another 4.00% (81/2006) of participants gave inconsistent responses within the questionnaire. The higher value compensation (£20/US$32) increased response rates by 6-10%, boosting retention at 3 months to 77.2% (166/215) for submission of online self-reported sexual health outcomes and 47.4% (118/249) for return of chlamydia urine samples by post.

Conclusions: It was quick and efficient to recruit young people to this online trial. Our procedures for obtaining online consent, verifying participant identity, automated randomization, and concealment of allocation worked well. The optimal response rate for the online sexual health outcome measurement was comparable to face-to-face trials. Multiple methods of participant contact, requesting online data only, and higher value compensation increased trial retention at 3-month follow-up.


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

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
Nice post
Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
#Formdox integrates perfectly with several #functionalities for the monitoring
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How to Use Social Media for Physician Recruitment

Embracing social and digital media as a core strategy in recruiting physicians and other healthcare professionals has become central to recruitment success. Bu…
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Taking a Slice Out of Social Media

Taking a Slice Out of Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Developing a strong social media presence for your practice isn’t as quick, simple, or easy as you may assume. But then again, neither is baking a three layer cake with vanilla buttercream icing. But both, when done correctly, can be tools to help bring communities together, and build connections.

To bake a cake you wouldn’t just start with whatever you had on hand. No, you would need a recipe. The same can be said for building a social media presence. You wouldn’t start by just posting at random, sharing whatever content you feel like. Instead you strategize, plan, and use a trusted a jump-start the development process of your social media presence. Experts in the culinary world will tell you that every good recipe comes in three parts, each part is an essential segment that leads to a successful end result, a cake, or in this case...the starting point for the social media presence of your practice.  

The first part to our recipe is the "List of Ingredients." While the cake may have things like eggs, milk, or sugar, our social media presence comes with a slightly different list.

Developing a Basic Social Media Presence


Profile Basics

  • Professional profile photo, can be an appropriately sized company logo or image.
  • Correctly sized cover photo for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter
  • Current business information, contact information, address, phone number, open hours, etc. Each platform is going to be different, just check ahead of time and make sure you fill out as much as possible.
  • Individualized web address for each platform. (Example:
  • Link to your website.


Social Media Presence

  • Branded content across network, easily recognizable imagery and color elements.
  • Industry experts and trusted resources to share/connect with.
  • Consistent posting of value added creative.
  • Creative use of video and images.
  • Participation in Industry related conversation through hashtags and trends.


There are, of course, other ingredients available to add to your social media presence. While they may not be a part of this recipe...they may be in the future.

The second step to our baking activity is the core aspect of the process. The "Preparation." We know the recipe for our cake may call for eggs...but without this section, how are we to know that the whites are separated from the yolks during the preparation of the buttercream? These ingredients would be useless without knowing just how to best execute with them.

To continue to develop our basic social media presence we will need to get started first with the profile basics.



Profile Basics

Step 1: Start with the profile picture, making sure that at least 60 percent of it is directly related to your practice. This can be of the staff, the provider, or of a small version of your logo. Once your profile photo is up to date, follow the same process and update your cover photo.

*If updating on Facebook, you can also update the cover photo to a small video.

Step 2: Go through the entire profile of the platform you are setting up and fill in as much information as possible where applicable. The Facebook page will have the most sections, including a section for a company/practice “story." If you have a simple background story of the founding of your practice, then this is a great place to share that and create a connection with your patients. Make sure that the hours, contact info, website, and platform web address are updated before you leave your profile.

Social Media Presence

Step 1: Content is everything. Create content that reaches out and engages your patients, helping to create a community on your social media pages. Build trust through consistent and regular posting, this can be one to three times daily at times you determine via Facebook, or up to eight times on Twitter.

Step 2: Mix it up using various forms of content. Try a poll, a slideshow, an infographic, sharing an article from an industry expert, a blog post, engaging through gifs and memes. Keep your patients involved by coming up with campaigns that feature THEM. Share their photos with their permission and tag them in the image so that the patients not only see the value, but also feel it.

We have the ingredients we need, we followed steps to prep the profile and the presence...and we are ready to share. So share! The last and final step of our social media recipe is the most fulfilling: Give your patients a slice of your social media by telling them about it. Encourage them to follow and engage with you on your social media platforms. Ask for reviews, have contests, post signs in your practice. But don’t give up. Social media is a process, and like baking, it is more of a science than guesswork, use the tools you have and check out this handy guide for more info.

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[Infographic Guide] Physician Trends - Social Media

We live in a connected world where the effort required to communicate with someone has fallen causing the frequency and volume of communication to rise signifi…
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Creative Ways General Practitioners Can Utilize Social Media

Creative Ways General Practitioners Can Utilize Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Gone are the days when patients quietly endured long waiting room times and blindly followed their doctor’s advice. The Internet has turned patients into active consumers who take their healthcare into their own hands. Patients are also turning to social networking and online review sites for information, advice and to vent their frustrations. Patients searching for a general practitioner near them results in scores and scores of pages reveal information, both good and bad, about medical practices and healthcare organizations.

The social media space has become a popular forum for patients to discuss health issues, share healthcare experiences and interact with healthcare professionals. A 2012 consumer survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed as much as one-third of consumers in the United States actively use social media to discuss doctors and health concerns. While this no doubt poses a threat for medical providers, social media can be used as a powerful force in your marketing plan. Providers can use social media to better engage the patients they have and also to attract new patients. In this way, medical practices gain an upper hand when it comes to damage control and building a credible, trustworthy brand.

Creative Ways to Utilize Social Media

Increase Patient Access

It’s not uncommon for patients to have questions in-between appointments with the doctor. These may just be quick questions or situations the patient feels warrant a doctor’s input. Trying to get in touch with doctors on the phone can be difficult considering their busy schedules. In cases like these, social media can help increase patient access to the doctor so patients don’t have to put up with long hold times or wait until their next appointment.

Social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn allow users to create profiles, both personal and professional. You can post helpful information on a profile, such as call-in hours or hours when a staff member is available to answer questions via email or chat. These little conveniences help make it easier for patients to adhere to treatment guidelines and reduce frustration levels.

Marketing Your Practice

According to Pew Research Center, an estimated 44 percent of online users use the Internet to look for information on doctors. Considering the total number of Internet users surpassed the 4 billion mark in 2018, this is a marketing opportunity no practice can afford to miss. The key to a strong marketing strategy lies in joining networks that your patients (and ideal, future patients) are on.

Marketing on social media sites benefits a medical practice in many ways, including:

  • Establishing an online brand
  • Building your reputation
  • Interacting with patients
  • Interacting with prospective patients
  • Video exposure for your practice
  • Obtaining valuable feedback

Establish Yourself as an Expert

While encouraging visitor interactions make up the bulk of what social media sites do, these networks also offer prime opportunities for sharing information with interested parties. Many network users are looking for health-related information, be it on the network itself or on other sites. Posting informative articles about things your patients may be interested in is a good way to establish yourself as an expert and thought leader in your field.

Video Marketing

Video marketing on social media sites offers yet another way to post informative content on subjects patients can use. You can present all types of information, from procedure demonstrations to telling stories about how the practice got started. Unlike articles, video offers a more real-world effect that works well when it comes to engaging visitors who are looking for information.

Things to Keep in Mind

As powerful an impact as social media engagement can have on the success of your medical practice, results don’t happen overnight. More than anything else, persistence, patience and time are key to growing your practice online. However, the more active you are on social media, the faster you’ll likely see results. Over time, patients searching for a new physicians office will help display your practice higher up in the results, which is where most online users look.

It’s also important to have a marketing strategy in place that lines up with the short- and long-term goals you have for your practice. Since staying engaged on network sites does require time and effort, assigning this task to a staff member or even hiring a marketing specialist may be a good idea if your schedule is already full.

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A Reflection on Social Media Usage in Healthcare and Urology: An Opportunity for Research

Social media is a broad term that encompasses many Internet based sites through which online-users communicate and disseminate information. Social media networ…
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Social POV: Instagram for Patient Engagement –

When it comes to brand engagement, Instagram outperforms every other social media platform. And yet, life sciences companies are hesitant to use the image-focused app. It turns out they may be missing an opportunity because Instagram is another way to build trust with consumers and improve brand recognition. Through the proper use of Instagram for patient engagement, pharma can realize many benefits.

 Visual content is the essence of Instagram

Think of Instagram as somewhere between Facebook and Twitter. Images are the core element, but captions can be any desired length. Users can interact with photos through likes and comments. They can also send private messages. A user can follow other users, as well as specific hashtags such as #digitalhealth, #chronicpain and #cardio. There’s also a robust search tool to find content.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is perfect for storytelling. As Internet entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk explains, the platform is less cluttered, which helps to hold users’ attention: “When you’re spending time on Instagram, you’re not paying attention to anything else. 100% engaged and looking at your Instagram screen, each photo of users you follow on Instagram passes one by one. IG is all about that attention.”

A relatively new feature is Instagram Stories which was rolled out to compete with platforms like Snapchat. Stories can be pictures or videos, and users can add text or stickers. It features tools for drawing, augmented reality, and polling. Comments aren’t allowed, but users can send a direct message to the creator.

Instagram Stories can be saved for later viewing, but they disappear by default after 24 hours. Instagram says more than 300 million accounts use the Stories feature daily. This offers companies fertile ground for testing new concepts or engagement strategies. Another option available on Instagram is live video.

Who Uses Instagram?

There are around 95 million photos and videos posted daily on Instagram, and these posts get more than four billion likes. That statistic alone speaks volumes about engagement on the platform. Instagram still has a way to go to catch up to Facebook and YouTube in terms of total users, but it has seen steady growth over the last several years — and there are no signs of it slowing down.

Instagram users are growing steadily. — source

Instagram recently achieved an important milestone: 1 billion monthly active users. But more important is engagement. The majority of Instagram users engage with the app daily — and often several times a day.

Most Instagrammers are quite active on the platform. — source

Demographically, Instagram users skew young, but the landscape continues to change. Nearly three-quarters of all 18–24 year olds use Instagram, and other age groups are starting to catch up as well.

Popularity of Instagram — source

Like Facebook, patient communities are thriving on Instagram. Patients engage with one another for support and advice. To understand the scope of activity, just browse hashtags for any given health condition: #crohns has over 18K results, #asthma over 300K, #ehlersdanlossyndrome nearly 200K, and so on. Even medication-specific hashtags have a lot of activity. #humira, for example, has over 25K results and #advil boasts nearly 60K. Without question, the patient experience is prevalent on Instagram. Patients are there, and they are engaged.

Advertising on Instagram

Something else that makes Instagram valuable to brands is users’ openness to advertising, especially compared to other social-sharing platforms. However, it must be authentic and engaging. Whether educational or entertaining, it should offer something of value. Ads on Instagram are displayed as part of a feed of images that a user chooses to see. Good creative will fit seamlessly into that stream and may inspire the same kind of engagement as the other user-generated images they see.

Ad content options include single images, image carousels, or videos. Companies can also use the story feature for ads. The same targeting options for Facebook advertising can be used on Instagram. This includes targeting by interests and behaviors, location and other demographics, or by creating custom or lookalike audiences. Additionally, Facebook’s Pixel can be used to track and measure Instagram ad engagement.

Instagram isn’t the place for a sales pitch. Rather, it’s a place for community, dialogue, and engagement.

Instagram: Best Practices for Pharma Brands

Life sciences companies working to be patient-centric should extend that focus to Instagram as well. All content, including ads, should be patient-centered. Stories, especially, are a good way to showcase a more “authentic” story. Authentic, engaging, and empathetic content will build patient trust.

Another way to add value on Instagram is to look for unmet patient needs and try to meet them. A few questions that come to mind are:

  • Can you use your Instagram account to educate?
  • Can you use it to highlight opportunities?
  • How can you invite patients to engage with you or with one another?

Some good practices to drive engagement are asking questions, using polls, and always remembering to respond to patients who engage with a company’s brand. To optimize the patient experience, it is vital to do research. Insights that help you to understand the nuances of the patient experience can also help you create the kind of content that encourages patient engagement.

Observing current activities

Start by seeing how patients might already be talking about your brand or company. Use Instagram’s search feature. You might be surprised to learn that in many patient communities, there is a subset of patients who use the same medication or therapy. Patients will often share selfies of them with their medications. Some patients even use the live video feature on Instagram Stories during infusions. Observing the way patients are including your brand or product in their Instagram feeds can offer insight and spark ideas.

Use of hashtags is beneficial

Pay attention to the hashtags that patients use. Consider leveraging existing hashtags or other sharing activities that patients are already using. Or, start a new hashtag and encourage patients to use it. Featuring user-generated content (UGC) like this is often very effective. Of course, if you haven’t already begun to nurture relationships with patients and followers, they might not be receptive to this approach. As you build trust, users will be more willing to share.

Incorporating the human element

Consider featuring your employees to bring the human element to your brand. If you participate in charitable causes or volunteer activities, utilize Instagram to highlight those endeavors. You might want to give a behind-the-scenes look at the drug development process. Or, you can just share something fun and lighthearted.

For many pharma companies, Instagram is a good place to show patients that you recognize their illness presents a myriad of challenges. Try to consider the whole picture of the patient experience, not just your potential role in treating the illness. Let your empathy shine through.

Novartis leverages Instagram

Novartis was an early adopter of Instagram and is a leader when it comes to engagement on the platform. They share varied types of content with their large and growing audience. Notably, Novartis avoids using Instagram to promote any of their medications. Instead, they share content such as:

What to Avoid

Life sciences companies have unique challenges on social media because of FDA regulations. Since most pharmaceutical companies are successfully navigating these challenges on other social media platforms, it should be no different on Instagram. It’s important that all employees involved with Instagram activities be properly trained on what they can and cannot do. This also goes for any patient influencers you work with, as Diclegis once learned the hard way while working with super-influencer Kim Kardashian.

Beyond the obvious concerns about adhering to governmental regulations, here are some things to avoid:

  • Low-quality content. Don’t phone it in. Everything that you post should be high-quality. Patients will welcome you into their feeds if your creative is good, but you will quickly lose standing among patients if your quality is low.
  • Posting too often or not frequently enough. There is a sweet spot on Instagram. It helps to post consistently, but you also don’t want to go overboard.
  • A lack of thoughtfulness. Make sure you are always respectful when interacting with patients. Be especially careful about responding to negative comments or criticisms. Defensive language isn’t likely to win you any new fans. It’s smart to moderate your comments wisely so you don’t get into this situation in the first place.
  • Being tone deaf. Make sure you’re reading the virtual room. Pay attention to what is going on in the culture. Pay attention to politics. There are always divisive issues that people take personally and feel passionately about. Pay attention to current events. There will be times when posting a certain picture just isn’t a very good idea. And, always be extremely cautious about evergreen concerns like race, gender, sexuality, and religion. Just like with Facebook and Twitter, tone deafness is met with swift judgment, and this is something you do not want. A tone-deaf post might make you go viral for all the wrong reasons and could significantly mitigate any gains you’ve made in terms of patient trust and overall brand perception.
  • Using fake spokespeople. Authenticity is a big part of why brands do, or do not, experience success on Instagram. This is perhaps especially true in healthcare. Using fake spokespeople in your campaigns is a big turn-off to patients. This shows a lack of authenticity, and to some patients it may even feel disrespectful. Fake spokespeople won’t earn you trust. Using real patients, on the other hand, will earn you quite a bit of trust. Patients trust other patients and some of this will rub off on you. Those with the “lived” experience of an illness and of being a patient will also likely give you vital insights you might have otherwise missed. This will ultimately lead to creative that is more engaging. Using celebrities as spokespeople can be a good thing, but it’s likely to be more effective when the celebrity has an actual connection to the illness.

Comments can also present a potential challenge for any brand, and certainly for pharma. Trolls and negative comments have the potential to hurt your reputation. Fortunately, Instagram’s Comment Moderation Tool can help companies get ahead of this issue by flagging certain words to filter out offensive or inflammatory comments.

Are You Instagram Ready?

Are you prepared to begin the journey of leveraging Instagram to drive patient engagement? Here are some key questions to consider:

  • Do you know what you want to measure?
  • Do you know the hashtags your patients are using on Instagram?
  • Do you have authentic relationships with patients who will share their real photos with you?
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Digital Marketing Blueprint For Urgent Care

The right digital strategy can help a Urgent Care clinic increase their patient base. Strategic Valynt Digital uses strategic stacking to help Urgent Care acro…
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The Unwritten Rules for Patient Advocacy on Social Media 

The Unwritten Rules for Patient Advocacy on Social Media  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media’s ability to unify populations despite distance has come to be a key element for patients living with rare diseases, as online communities have provided support to patients who may otherwise have never found another human facing the same challenges as themselves. Whether it’s a closed Facebook group or a rare-disease-dedicated platform, like any community, these platforms must follow an unwritten set of rules that guide a productive and positive environment for its particularly vulnerable population.

Share Your Experience

First and foremost, these communities are places for people to find and connect with others facing similar challenging situations. One patient sharing his or her personal journey can cause others to feel less isolated given that they may be experiencing the same symptoms and difficulties they are, or even see patterns they hadn’t noticed in themselves.

Many patients with rare diseases have become consummate experts in what is going on in their disease state, having researched and kept up to date on what treatments are available, or in development, and where advocacy is needed. As the exchange of knowledge, experiences, and perspectives increases, so can advocacy. Ongoing and proactive communication can help galvanize the community to achieve their goals for increased access to resources through new legislation.

Don’t Let Others Learn the Hard Way

Share successes! Patients can help their peers prepare for the challenges of getting into a clinical trial, or on treatment and adhering to their regimen. Suggestions of fun activities and special recipes go a long way for preserving precious family moments despite disease-related limitations.

Sometimes patients share books they’ve read or movies that resonated with them—anything that applies to the patient experience is a valuable contribution to the group, big or small, and often these are not found in mainstream media. For example, the documentary film “Rare in Common” features the journeys of families in the rare disease community. As they go about living life as fully and lovingly as they can, while searching for a diagnosis and then treatment you get a glimpse of them as real-life heroes.

Another example is the illustrated children’s book “Rare is Everywhere,” which opens a door for parents and children to talk about how our differences, rooted in genetics, are to be celebrated. It introduces children to the white tiger, the blue lobster, and other animals whose genetic mutations make them different and beautiful! Proceeds go to the Rare Disease Foundation. A gem like this might go undiscovered without a social media network to spread the word.

Patients can also help each other seek help to pay for needed resources, for example, the National Organization of Rare Diseases (NORD) offers a financial assistance program for medical foods and supplements for patients with Urea Cycle Disorders.

Go Beyond the Social Networks

Allow social media to facilitate the connections, and then take it one step further. While these groups offer a sense of community, many patients and families also benefit from attending live events, such as the Rare Patient Advocacy Summit conducted by the non-profit Global Genes, where they can interact with their peers, advocates, and rare disease experts.

Patients and their families can also stay informed of pending legislation and the activities of the Rare Disease Congressional Caucus through Rare Disease Legislative Advocates, and then inform their peers of updates, or bring a group together for further advocacy through their social media networks.

Social media advocacy groups and similar platforms provide an opportunity to network with others across the globe that are in similar unique positions. Through unified communities, regardless of geographic location, rare disease patients and families can join together to change the landscape of opportunities for similar families to come.

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Snapchat surgery: doctors report rise in patient requests to look 'filtered'

Snapchat surgery: doctors report rise in patient requests to look 'filtered' | Social Media and Healthcare |

Plastic surgeons are reporting that patients are coming to them with selfies of themselves edited using the filters on Snapchat or Instagram and asking to look more like the retouched photo.

Researchers at the Boston medical center have authored an article in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, which labels the trend “Snapchat dysmorphia”, and argues that filters on apps are having a disastrous impact on people’s self-esteem.

Snapchat comes with a range of filters that immediately distort photos using artificial intelligence. They can make skin appear smoother, lashes look longer and bone structure appear more angular.

The report says these filters are sometimes triggering body dysmorphic disorder, a mental illness that leads to compulsive tendencies such as excessive beauty procedures, wasting hours obsessing over non-existent flaws and withdrawing from social activities.

The trend is particularly concerning to doctors because filters on Snapchat provide not just idealistic standards of beauty but entirely unhuman ones, presenting “an unattainable look and are blurring the line of reality and fantasy for these patients”, according to the report.

Separate from patients specifically trying to look like their selfies, over half of plastic surgeons also report patients saying that they are seeking procedures so they can look better in selfies, according to the report.

 A photo of Frida Kahlo that Snapchat created for International Women’s Day in 2017, which was criticised for lightening her skin and making her features appear more symmetrical. Composite: Alamy & Snapchat

Airbrushed, unrealistic representations of women in fashion magazines have been blamed for the increasing incidences of eating disorders and body dysmorphia in women and teenage girls.


But over the past decade, another more pernicious distortion of real bodies has been underway, with people editing their own photos to make themselves appear better looking, yet posting the photos as if they were candid shots. Third-party apps like Line Camera and Facetune gave users easy tools to make their faces appear thinner, more symmetrical and blemish-free, before posting them to Facebook. One 2015 survey found that, despite over two-thirds of female respondents thinking it’s wrong for magazines to airbrush pictures, 57% admitted to regularly editing their own social media pictures to enhance their appearance. But the trend has rapidly increased with the rise of pre-built filters on apps like Instagram and Snapchat that make faces appear almost cartoonishly perfect.

The new report finds that the kinds of facial surgery people are requesting has changed too. Previously, nose jobs were the most common request, but now, the authors say, people specifically seek procedures that will have effects similar to selfie filters, such as nasal and facial symmetry, rhinoplasties, hair transplants and eyelid surgical procedures.

This is the latest in a slew of recent studies that suggest young people are finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish between real life and social media, and that is having a negative impact on their wellbeing. A study last year in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who were regular users of social media were twice as likely to feel lonely than those that were light users. Another study released last year that interviewed 1,500 15-to-24-year-olds found that social media, especially Instagram, deepend their feelings of anxiety and inadequacy.

Earlier today, Snapchat announced that the number of daily users of the app had dropped for the first time, by around 2% to 188 million.

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Appropriate Use of Social Media For Doctors |

Appropriate Use of Social Media For Doctors | | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is here to stay. If you’re a business competing in the social area, it’s getting more and more difficult to stand out from the rest of the crowd. This holds especially true in medical marketing, and sometimes, medical practices find themselves getting online attention for all the wrong reasons.

In our latest video, CEO Ryan Miller discusses some of the bigger implications of social media and how it can positively (or negatively!) affect your online reputation. You’ll learn what has the potential to cross the line, and how to leverage social media best practices to help safeguard you and your medical practice.

Video Transcription

Hi again, it’s Ryan Miller with Etna Interactive and it’s good to be back with you today because we’re going to be talking about a somewhat serious and timely topic. We’re going to talk about the appropriate use of social media in the medical practice environment. By now, I think many of us are familiar with Dr. Windell Davis-Boutte, known as the “dancing doctor” in the popular media. Obviously, she was after her 15 minutes of fame when she began publishing videos of her singing and dancing while patients were anesthetized in her operating room, and has received a tremendous amount of criticism. Not only that, very recently she reached an agreement within her state which agreed to the suspension of her medical license for about 2.5 years.

Now, some of you are saying “Ah, you know, Ryan, that’s not me. I would never make such a huge mistake. I have much better judgment. Does this really apply?” And the answer is yes. Because if you joined us just a couple of months ago for our HIPAA webinar, you recall that there’s actually been a spate of similar disciplinary actions for things that were published on behalf of staff or on behalf of agencies that are working for medical practices. So we’re taking a broad look today at the appropriate use of social media for anyone that might be publishing on behalf of the practice because we have a couple of fairly existential questions that we have to be thinking about.

Where do you draw the line?

As marketing is moving from more traditional media or traditional online media towards social media, what do we have to do today to stand out? And it may be this question that’s driving people to ever more sensational postings. At the same time, we have to recognize that it may be your medical license that’s at risk, but the posts are very often today coming from members of your staff or agencies that you’ve hired. And I think on a much broader level, we have to step back and ask: What do we really feel is appropriate as it relates to social media postings from medical professionals, and do the postings of the few have a negative reflection on our medical specialties as a whole?

RealSelf Study

Now, why is it? What’s the drive that’s pushing us all towards social media? As far back as 2015, I think the data was fairly clear. RealSelf did a study and asked patients directly what were their preferences and their interests as it related to connecting with doctors on social media. Well the Huffington Post came out with this story titled, Nonsocial Doctors Are Terribly Outdated.

Now, where that was coming from really was inspired by these two data points: 95% of patients expected their physician to be at least somewhat active on social media. Although the majority, 66% said: “I’m not likely to actually connect with you”. We call this cyberstalking, right? The patients want to see what you’re doing. They’re interested in what’s happening in the practice and in order to fulfill that wish, to share with them what’s going on, we need to step back and we’re going to be taking a look at three things today.

Today’s presentation at a glance:

1. Common professional offenses on social media

2. Best practices for physicians

3. Steps to protect yourself and your practice

Now, let’s pause for a second here. We’re going to go a little bit longer than our typical newsletter distribution because our hope is that this is going to be a resource. A resource not only for your own edification but for training your existing staff. Perhaps for using this as you onboard new members of your team who will be active in social media on behalf of the practice. Now, let’s dive right in.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the research shows right now that infractions are abound, that we see more and more reports from both state medical licensing boards here in the United States and from the Royal Colleges up in Canada, that there is an increasing number of infractions that involved disciplinary action that relate directly to social media. So the problem is on the rise. The most common offenses that are reported that are resulting in disciplinary action are these:

  • Inappropriate contact with patients (e.g., sexual misconduct)
  • Inappropriate prescribing and inappropriate practice
  • Misrepresentation of credentials or clinical outcomes
  • Violations of patient confidentiality
  • Defamatory language or profanity directed at a patient or coworker
  • Depiction of inappropriate behaviors

Social media best practices for physicians.

Now, let’s pause here for a second again and think about the expansive nature of our advice. We’re not lawyers, so we’re not giving you legal advice, but this is applicable things that you’re doing on email, the content that you publish on your website, the text communications that you may be having today with patients, blogs that you publish, and of course, the broader and specific context that we’re talking about: the social networks.

Now, let’s go through some specific advice here:

1. Put your posts in context.

When we’re posting, we need to put our posts in context. If we have a bias, we need to share that bias inside the posts so that patients can understand how to interpret what they’re going to see as medical advice from you or from your practice. So if you have a financial, professional or personal conflict, be sure that you include it inside the post and be sure that you’re not representing your clinic, misrepresenting your clinical outcomes and overstating what you can realistically achieve.

2. Maintain your integrity.

We all need to be mindful of maintaining our integrity. I think the last thing we want is to be active on social media and have it undermine our own moral values. So, the basics of medical marketing are these: avoiding false, fraudulent and misleading statements are absolutely critical. Now, if you’re drawing upon scientific and clinical knowledge, we want to make sure that our content conforms to the standards of care, that we’re giving good medical advice.

Finally in this particular section, if we’re giving specific advice (which we generally recommend against), we need to be sure to indicate whether it’s based on scientific studies, expert consensus, or just your own personal and professional experience.

3. Protect patient privacy.

Now, a great example here of what can go wrong, especially when you’re sharing things without consent. This particular case, a story from the Tyler Morning Telegraph, about a plastic surgeon who shared some video of a patient without taking steps to protect that patient’s privacy.

Keeping in mind that the photos and videos that you publish on the web, things as subtle as the file names and metadata go out into the public web when you publish those assets. So if you have a picture of a patient that contains their last name and you publish that directly to Facebook, it’s not going to be de-identified. And you need to take the steps to do that yourself.

In addition to that, we always need to get express consent, specifically written consent, before we publish pictures or videos of our patients onto the web. Now, if your forms don’t expressly mention social media as one of the uses, it’s time to update those forms. Drop us a note, we’ll direct you to a great resource that’s provided by Medical Justice.

4. Avoid defamation.

Now, this is an actual post. It’s hard to believe, but this is a real post that appeared on social media and we see what’s happening as we kind of glance through the text here. We see one medical professional lambasting one of their colleagues for some decisions that were made, in this particular case, in the emergency room. Now, clearly bad idea in terms of both the defamatory nature of this post, but also the potential that this has for inciting a medical malpractice lawsuit. So we want to be careful that we’re avoiding defamation.

I think this hopefully goes without saying, but we don’t want to go after any of our colleagues. We don’t want to attack the reputation of a patient on the public web.

5. Be the professional.

Now, it’s not just an attack that might get us in trouble — complaining is a problem that’s fairly rampant as well.

In this example, also taken from the headlines, we see an OB-GYN complaining about a late patient. We see colleagues commiserating, all of them missing the fact that their discussion was visible on the public internet. There’s quite a backlash from the body of patients who had seen this practice. So those kinds of complaints we need to keep to ourselves and the basic advice there is simply to be professional. Act on social networks as you would in person and as if the people that we’re talking about are standing in the room with us.

Be sure that you set clear guidelines for yourself, that you’ve thought it through, and ideally that you’ve written guidelines as well for the members of your staff who will be participating on social media on behalf of the practice.

If you are publishing before and after photos or if you’re publishing videos of procedures, be sure that you’ve got some guidelines for you and for your team on how to de-identify that information so that we’re protecting patient privacy.

We have a specific recommendation for those doctors who have both personal social media profiles and professional profiles and that’s that you get used to politely declining social connections from patients on your personal profiles and that you can guide those people to connect with you on your professional social media accounts.

6. Maintain proper boundaries.

Maintaining boundaries is really just an extension of that same idea. Obviously, you should not be initiating a doctor-patient relationship with someone that you’ve never met. So don’t be practicing on strangers on social media.

Be mindful about the details of your own personal life, details as subtle as what’s contained in the photos that you place on your social media accounts. Be mindful about what you reveal there.

And of course, avoid any online relationships with current or former patients, right? Not a good idea to get too close personally on social media with someone that you’re also treating.

Protect your person and your practice.

Now, let’s talk about protecting, as we wrap up here, both your person and your practice.

Take care with privacy settings.

We’re recognizing that if you’re the Medical Director of a center, you’re responsible for everything that’s published in the name of that practice. So, let’s be sure and be aware that with privacy settings, they’re not as transparent as they should be despite what I think are the best efforts of the major social media players. It can be quite complex to control and clearly understand who’s seeing what you’re publishing. So, understand how you can configure privacy settings to protect your information and assume that everything that you share is going to become publicly available regardless of how you’ve set those privacy considerations.

Consider the destiny of your data.

Recognize as well that once it’s shared, it may be shared forever. Don’t plan on being able to delete anything that you publish online.

Now, for those of you, especially those of you that are either younger inside of a practice, or just getting started on professional careers and you aren’t your own boss: If you ever hope to be hired, it’s a good idea to assume that your future employer is likely to perform a background check of some kind. They’ll be taking a look at your activity online and they’ll be considering the quality of your posts and the style and types of the nature of the connections that you form on social media.

Assess yourself online.

To check yourself, we recommend you simply begin by Googling your full name. Look through all of your old social posts, look through your social connections in the groups to which you belong, and ask yourself, “Are my employers likely to object to anything that’s out there?” You may want to consider making edits or revisions to your public profile.

We do also recommend that practices consider formal policies. It’s important that you check here with human resources lawyers that you work with inside of your practice in your state because from one state and province to the next, the laws about what you can regulate for your employees different.

Consider formal policies.

We definitely recommend that every practice protect their passwords. Unfortunately, we’ve seen far too many cases where a practice separates from an employee only to find that the passwords and the user accounts for social media are attached to that departing employee who then has the control to edit or simply destroy the accounts that are built in the name of the practice. So, password protection is an important part of protecting your assets on social media.

Identify and articulate clearly to each member of your staff who’s actually allowed to participate on social media on behalf of the practice. Establish a clear HR policy that talks about what your expectations are and what the risks are surrounding their participation inside of social space. We also recommend for practices that have either staff or an agency publishing on their behalf that you have some clear protocols about when it’s required for members of your leadership team to approve text and content before it goes out.


Pulling all of those ideas together, we just need to recognize that disciplinary action for medical practice participation on social media — it’s on the rise. And it’s up to you to understand and adopt those best practices that are going to keep you safe.

In addition to just following best practices, some of those prophylactic actions that we recommended there that are intended to protect you and articulate in advance for the people who are participating on social media what they should and should not do, are really some of the best ways that you can protect yourself now and into the future.

And, of course, if you want to learn more, you can be sure that you’re subscribed to our newsletter so you receive our video broadcast each and every month. You can follow us on social media or maybe leave a review for the content on Facebook as well.

My name is Ryan Miller, and I welcome your questions directly at Thanks for tuning in today, we’ll look forward to seeing you next month.

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Instagram for Medical Practices – Guide to Your First 1,000 Followers

Instagram for Medical Practices – Guide to Your First 1,000 Followers | Social Media and Healthcare |

Instagram is king in 2017 when it comes to social media platforms. It has skyrocketed to prominence over the past few years and now it is the place to be when it comes to social media engagement. With an estimated 600 million user accounts and over 400 million of those users active on the platform daily you can see why there is such a big opportunity for medical practices to reach a whole new set of potential patients.

Whether you are reading this post because you are trying to figure out if jumping into the Instagram game is right for you as a doctor or practice or you have had a profile for a while but are struggling with the growth aspect we will cover the 101s and some great strategies to get you those first 1,000 followers.

To get things started off I am going to go over some of the 101s when setting up your medical Instagram and creating a killer brand page/profile for your practice right out of the gate.

Setting Up Your Medical Instagram Business Profile

Sounds simple enough but I still see doctors and practices a like making a similar mistake when setting up their Instagram and that is not using an Instagram Business account and signing up for a personal account. If you are not sure if you are using a business Instagram account it’s pretty easy to find out. Go to your account and next to “Edit Profile” if you see the “Promote” button then you is utilizing Instagram business. If you are realizing now that you may have made this mistake, don’t fret switching over is really simple. Take a look at the screenshots below on how to make the switch.




Once you have made the switch or set up an account make sure to fill out all of your practice information, including: website, bio, category (will help you from an SEO standpoint on the platform), and ALL of the contact options so it is as easy as possible for people to contact the practice.

Why Do You Need to Make the Switch to an Instagram Business Account?

Making the switch gives you a set of really awesome tools to help you grow your medical Instagram account. You will be able to see rolling 7-day insights on impressions, post reach, profile views, website/direction/call clicks and more. You will also be able to view a breakdown of your followers by gender, age range and location, which is really important when targeting local patients. It will help the practice stay up to date on who is following you to make sure you are reaching the right target marketing in the right area.

11 Tips to Gaining Your First 1,000 Instagram Followers

Now that you have made the switch or got the Instagram profile all set up for the business it is time to look at growing those followers, likes and engagements to get more patients. Instagram is an obviously visual social media platform so you want to go in realizing you need to create some visual branding guidelines to keep your wall consistent from a look and feel perspective. Most successful accounts have a specific theme and overall color that they go for on their wall.

1. Create Posting Templates

In order to accomplish the branding consistency I was just referring to the easiest way is to look at your current brand and develop some high quality posting templates for different situations. This will help to streamline the efforts when you are putting something onto the medical practice page that fits a certain template style that you have designed. Many people forgo this when starting out and it creates inconsistent branding. If you want to build patient engagement loyalty over time then create a theme and stick with it for the most part.

Click to read about 14 Mistakes to avoid on social media for medical practice.



2. Using the Right Hashtags

Hashtags are one of the lifeblood of the Instagram platform. They are how people find new content, engage with the things they love and connect with new people. For medical practices it is no different. You need to find the hashtag that are inline with what your potential patients are looking for content wise. Make sure to find a good blend of very popular hashtags, branded hashtags, local hashtags and industry specific hashtags. Using #love #fun #happy in all of your posts may get you some likes because of their overall popularity but it won’t get you where you need to be in terms of customer loyalty and sustained local engagement. You will be drowned out by all of the other noise on those hashtag feeds.

3. Use a Killer Photo Editor

To be truly success and grow your medical practice Instagram following you need to think of everything you post as art. Whether it’s a graphic of a new special the practice is running or a photo of the surgeon in the OR make sure you take the time to edit and add graphics. This again goes back to the importance of developing some posting templates because if it takes you forever to post every time you may eventually be very discouraged to do so so make it easy on yourself.

4. Post High Quality Content Consistently

Point #4 and on is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to having a successful Medical Instagram profile. It starts with consistent, high-quality content. Now that you have a good photo editor and a few posting templates the high quality should not be a tough. It is the consistency that gets most people. Most Instagram experts agree that it is the more the merrier when it comes to posting. The minimum goal should be everyday with a sweet spot of 3X per day. There are tons of studies that show posting 7+ times per week triples likes, engagement and follower growth.

When clients come to us to grow their practice Instagram account or ask me to audit their profile this is consistently the #1 reason for growth problems for medical practice: lack of posting frequency. To keep your audiences engaging you need to provide content, lots of content. You have targeted potential patients now it’s time to show them what makes you the best in the industry. The more consistency you gain in likes the more your Instagram posts will appear on their feed. If your are posting 3 or more times a day you are increasing the possibility to gain more likes and engage with your audience. Posting on Insatgram with high quality posts multiple times a day requires time and monitoring. This is the challenge that most doctors quickly learn when trying to grow their Instagram. Instargam requires a lot of time and attention. Posting multiple times a day is only successful when your Instagram has fresh and captivating visuals. Simply reposting or recycling content just to hit the daily quota of posting will not grow followers and likes.

5. Following People That Fit Your Target Patient

In order to get to that 1,000 follower mark quickly for your medical practice you need to be actively following people on Instagram. However, it is easy to grow fast by following 1,000s of people at random (or buying followers which I strongly discourage) but what does it matter if the people following you have not interest in what you do or are located 5 states away? More than likely someone in Texas is not going to make the trek to Florida to visit your OB/GYN practice. You need to focus on targeting people in specific geographical locations that fit your target market of potential patient.

6. Engage with Your Followers

If you are consistently following people you need to utilize your main news feed and like, comment and engage with the people you are following. Especially the people that show you love on your posts. It can be time intensive but you will be happily surprise at the growth and reciprocated engagement you receive when you show a little love on Instagram. Social media is inherently selfish because your feed is mainly filled with people talking about themselves or taking selfies. Like their photos and many will return the favor. This works to help get your posts out to more people because on of Instagram’s algorithm factors is number of likes so the more you receive the more you will increase your overall impressions and brand exposure.



7. Bring Your Followers Into The Operating Room

Many doctors and medical practices that have developed a large following on Instagram have a common theme. A large portion of their wall features their physicians doing what they do best: surgery. People want to see awesome and unique on Instagram and placing tons of stock photos of pretty models will bore your followers to death. However, show your doctor in action performing a rhinoplasty or liposuction, while grotesque to a point, will draw in a large amount of interest and eyeballs. It also allows people to build a little bit of a relationship with the physician who will handle their patient care if they decide to come into the practice.

8. Run Contests and Promotions

Contests and promotions when done correctly are a great way to grow your following and engage with new people in your community. Plan a promotion for the practice that will be of substantial value to potential clients and get them into the office to see what you do. I have seen some doctors do giveaways and a person on the other side of the country wins their skin care line. How does that help grow the practice? Be creative with you promotion but also ensure that claiming the prize involves being involved in some level with the physical practice.

9. Cross Promote to Your Target Audience

Especially when the practice Instagram is early on it can be difficult trying to get people to follow you back. When you have 100 follows people are more reluctant to see the value in following you verse if you have 10,000 followers. There is psychological and social validation factor that says hey 10,000 other people found something interesting here I am sure I will too. Therefore, it can be of great benefit while the practice is racing toward 1,000 followers to team up with a brand, product or influential person in your market to cross promote to their followers. Make sure this person’s follower base is in line with the practice brand and specialty. If you come up with a creative way to leverage their following that is mutually beneficial for you both it can be a great way to boost engagement and followers quickly.

10. Promote Your Instagram Account Everywhere

Utilize all the other places on and offline that you can to make current and potential patients aware that the medical practice has an Instagram. Make sure the icon is prominent on the practice website at the top and bottom of the site and on your blog. Create graphics for the other practice social media accounts to remind people to follow on Instagram too. Finally your current patient base can be a conduit to reach new patients so put a stand at check out and in the patient rooms letting them know Instagram is where it is at!

11. Show Patient Success Stories or Before & Afters

People want to see other people who have had an awesome experience at the practice. They do not care about a stock photo or a before and after provide by the manufacture of your laser machine. Patients are inundated daily with before and afters and they are smart enough to read between the lines and know what’s real and what is suspect. Reach out and ask patients that are happy with their experience if they are willing to participate in a social media campaign. Tell their story because it is a great way to create an emotional connection with your audience when they can relate to another person.

On the before and after side, if you are a cosmetic or aesthetics practice, be diligent collecting and distributing these. Keep them consistent and focus on a wide range of ages, both sexes and different skin types. People want to relate to someone as close to their type as possible when it comes to procedural results.


Instagram for medical practices can be a powerful tool to connect with your current and potential local patient base. If you follow these steps and focus on posting and brand consistently you will be surprised at how fast a practice can grow a substantial following. Be different, be creative and get that whole practice involved. Medical practices are a dime a dozen on social media do something to separate you from the crowd and engage with patients.

If this all seems a little overwhelming to you or you want to perform an audit or some additional training give us a call. Intrepy Healthcare Marketing offers social media management and expert medical Instagram profile growth and strategy. We can manage your profile monthly or simple help point you down the path of success. We are here to help! Give us a call 678-250-4757 or fill out our contact form.

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Social Media for Optometrists: Finding Content for Your Business Page

Social Media for Optometrists: Finding Content for Your Business Page | Social Media and Healthcare |

By now you understand that a strong presence on social media platforms keeps your optometry practice relevant to your younger patient base. But as an independent eyecare practice you might not have all of the time, or resources, to constantly stay on top of a social media presence for your practice.

Although it can be a time consuming challenge to find information that will be relevant and interesting to your followers, it's definitely one worth investing in. We put together a few resources and ideas below that will help you curate content for your practice's social media pages.

Let's start with a few statistics to show you the power of social media:

  • 95% of millennials expect brands to have a Facebook Page.
    • On top of that, 87% of Gen X (30-44 year olds), and even 70% of those aged 45-60 think brands should have a Facebook Page.
  • 41% of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility.
  • 60% of doctors say social media improves the quality of care delivered to patients.

Consumers want to do business with people and companies that they like and can relate to. Social media is your space to develop a voice that builds relationships by providing information that is valuable, informative, relatable, and funny.

Social Media for Optometrists: 7 Ideas for Finding Content for Your Social Media Pages

All About Vision launched in 2000 to provide consumers with an independent source for trustworthy information on eye health and vision correction. You'll find sharable articles here from topics like contact lenses, LASIK, frames, conditions, children's vision, and everything in between. Sometimes tweeting a link or even retweeting from All About Vision's twitter page will get conversations going. Reading about trends in the eyecare industry can spark your own content or blog ideas that you could add to your website or ask as a poll on your twitter.

The Optical Vision Site and Optical Vision Resources

The Optical Vision Site and Optical Vision Resources have information that is good for both you and your patients. Their posts will help you with marketing your practice, much like our blog here on Uprise. They also include updates and listicles on eyewear brands that your patients will find interesting and entertaining. 

If you post staff recommendations on Facebook or Instagram, you could refer to these websites to find a new brand or new frame to highlight.

Follow Other Practice Pages

Network with your peers that you went to school with and follow their practice's Facebook pages. It's a great way to see what other practice's are doing to interact with their patients on social media, and you'll be able to share information easily with each other. 

Also, when you post on your own Facebook page, you can put put money behind your posts and gain a larger audience for your effective content. Facebook has the option of boosting content to target lookalike audiences, which means you can choose to target the users who have "liked" other optometry practices' pages.

Your Team

Here's a few quick ideas that we have to get the wheels turning during team brainstorm sessions:

  • Weekly OD Q&A with common patient questions about different eye related topics
  • Highlight different employees in your practice
  • Have one of your opticians select a "frame of the week"
  • Show patient before and after photos of new glasses
  • Share a patient success story
  • Share information about local community events
  • Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries
  • Holiday hours, specials, and discounts

Outsource ($)

If you just don't have the time or resources to manage your social media marketing, you can look at paid options for outsourcing. There are many different options out there in a range of prices, so do your research, know your budget, and definitely monitor your engagement throughout the months. You might also hire a social media consultant to get you on the right track before you start managing your accounts yourself.

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The Path to Making Clinical Trials More Patient-Centric

The Path to Making Clinical Trials More Patient-Centric | Social Media and Healthcare |

By incorporating features like wearables, at-home visits, and ride sharing services, trials can increase patient recruitment and retention.

Despite the rising costs of implementing a clinical trial, patient recruitment remains a major obstacle for sponsors and CROs. In fact, the estimated annual expense of clinical trials in the US is $7 billion, with approximately $1.89 billion of that total attributed to patient recruitment.

The move toward patient centricity is an attempt to address this discrepancy. Most sponsors and CROs know that creating a more positive experience for patients will increase enrollment, but how do they go about designing a study that meets patients’ needs while also remaining cost-efficient?

Patient-Centric Trial Design

Clinical trials that are burdensome for patients — requiring them to travel long distances or follow unclear protocol — can deter recruitment, retention, and adherence. In turn, high patient drop-out rates can result in delays, added costs, or invalidated data.

To make studies more convenient and enjoyable for patients, sponsors and CROs should incorporate patient insights on trial procedures. Collecting feedback can take a qualitative approach (do patients seem to be having a positive experience?), or use qualitative measures to evaluate a trial’s impact on patients. One example of a qualitative solution is Medidata’s Patient Burden Index (PBI), which measures the burden placed on patient volunteers on a per procedure basis.

Sponsors and CROs can use this feedback to design trials that cater to patients’ needs. This may include leveraging remote technology, ride share services, or at-home visits, features that prioritize convenience without sacrificing trial accuracy.

mHealth and Wearables

Trials that minimize patient burden and emphasize a positive experience often make use of technology like mHealth and wearables. These devices are cost-effective and user-friendly ways to collect data and ensure that patients are following trial procedures. Sensors in wearable devices can remotely monitor patients’ vitals and important environmental data, while ingestible monitors can track data on drug dosage, timing, and physiological responses. Once they collect key patient information, mHealth technology and wearable devices can transit the data to a patient’s physician or mobile phone.

Clinical Homecare

Many low-income or elderly patients have difficulty traveling to investigator sites, hindering their ability to participate in studies. One way to overcome this obstacle is to incorporate at-home visits into clinical trials. Clinical homecare, the practice of bringing trials directly to patients, is becoming more common, and in many cases has resulted in an increase in patient recruitment and retention. At-home visits can also reduce congestion at investigator sites, which can also have a positive effect on a patient’s overall experience.

Ride Sharing Services

Recent surveys indicate that more than 50% of patients who were considering participating in a clinical trial opted out because of transportation concerns. To address this issue, many trials have decided to partner with ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft to provide eligible patients with free transportation to investigator sites. Continuum and Lyft, for example, offer patients the ability to schedule and pre-schedule rides to and from their trial appointment. This feature not only reduces the burden placed on patients, but also helps ensure that they show up for scheduled visits.

As finding, recruiting, and retaining patients becomes increasingly challenging, sponsors and CROs should focus on incorporating new technology and patient-centric practices into their studies. Trials that have the potential to improve patients’ medical prognoses, as well as meet their day-to-day needs, are more likely to stand out from their competitors.

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Social Media Compliance and Your Orthodontic Practice 

Social Media Compliance and Your Orthodontic Practice  | Social Media and Healthcare |

One of the biggest excuses dental and orthodontic practices have for being active on social media is restrictions set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – more commonly known as HIPAA. While there are a number of rules in place for the protection of patients and practices alike, they do not make social media marketing impossible.

Contrary to popular belief, there are ways your practice can meet HIPAA’s social media compliance guidelines. To help you understand how to keep your office fun while following the law, let’s review four simple ways to comply with HIPAA using social media.

Create a Social Media Policy

While the idea of creating a social media policy for your orthodontic or dental office may seem complicated, it doesn’t have to be. Most social media policies are separated into two areas: business and personal accounts. Within those areas, topics for social media policies include:

  • Rules and Regulations
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Potential Legal Risks
  • Security Risks
  • Accountability

Once you have set guidelines for how you would like employees to manage both their personal accounts and those of the business, it’s time to train them. Not everyone who uses social media does it well. Train your staff on social media marketing best practices for orthodontists and dentists while staying true to your brand. For example, using appropriate hashtags related to your practice or industry when posting to Instagram.

Practice Medicine at your Practice, Not Online

The purpose of social media is to engage with audiences and grow your online presence. While you may often receive questions or comments relating to braces or other orthodontic treatment issues, always advise followers to contact your office directly or to schedule an appointment. Doing so will keep those conversations confidential and more patients coming through your door.

Designate Areas in the Office for Photos

Look for areas in your office that have little to nothing in the background for taking photos with or of your patients. Having very little in the background reduces chances of violating someone’s privacy and creating legal trouble. It also encourages consistency for branding.

Get Consent

Having a clearly written consent form for patients to sign prior to uploading to social media covers all parties involved. Not only will your patients know and understand their rights, but your practice will have legal authorization to use the photos.

To create your own consent form, be sure to include:

  • What the patient is specifically authorizing
  • The purpose of the authorization
  • The ability to revoke the authorization
  • An expiration date
  • The opportunity to receive a copy (if desired)
  • To whom, specifically, the patient is giving authorization

HIPAA compliance does not have to be as complicated as it seems. With a little planning and teamwork, you can keep your practice fun while helping it grow. For help with resources for social media best practices, contact our office today.

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Social Media for Doctors - Does It Really Work?

Social Media for Doctors - Does It Really Work? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Over recent years, we have become increasingly reliant on modern technology both in our personal and our business lives. Our move into the digital era has heralded a dramatic change in the way in which we conduct business. This includes the way we engage with customers, market our services, and run the business as a whole. As a doctor running a medical facility, you may have already implemented many of these changes. However, are you really making the most out of digital opportunities such as social media for doctors when it comes to promoting your medical facility and services?

Businesses of all sizes and in a wide range of industries now use social media on a regular basis. This is because social media can be so invaluable in terms of promoting the business. When it comes to social media for doctors, the correct use of this technology can help you to keep your current clients and patients informed, as well as helping you to gain new ones. If you want to enjoy a fast, efficient, and affordable means of promoting your facility and services, social media for doctors could be the way forward for you.

How Does Social Media for Doctors Help?

So, how can social media for doctors actually help you and your business? Well, there are many ways in which you can benefit when you use social media for doctors. It is not just about marketing but also about customer engagement, customer service, and providing timely information. More and more doctors are now using social media as part of their marketing and overall business strategies, and many have been able to reap the benefits. You can get help from experts such as those at Crystal Clear Digital Marketing to get you up and running with the use of social media.

One of the things you should remember when it comes to social media for doctors is that it is one of the most cost-effective and simple methods of marketing and engagement that you can use. There are plenty of great ways in which you can make social media work for you and your medical facility, and you won’t need to invest a huge amount of time or money to enjoy the benefits. Our move into the digital age means that methods such as digital marketing and engagement have become increasingly important. This is why you need to ensure you make the most of social media for doctors

What are Some of the Main Benefits?

There are a number of key benefits that come from using social media for doctors. Some of the top benefits that you may want to consider include:

Ease and Convenience

In years gone by, doctors often spent a small fortune trying to attract new patients, keep existing patients informed, and market their medical facilities. This included the use of flyers, posters, and brochures, all of which could be costly and took up a lot of time. With social media for doctors, you can save time, boost convenience, and enjoy greater ease when it comes to your business and your patients. This is a solution that provides a high level of ease and convenience, which is ideal for busy doctors who have little spare time as it is. As a doctor, your focus is on administering treatment and running your facility rather than on marketing your services and engaging customers. By using social media for doctors, you don’t have to dedicate huge amounts of time to your marketing efforts.

An Effective Means of Engagement

Many patients feel intimidated about speaking openly with their doctor, which naturally has an effect on the doctor-patient relationship and rapport. Social media has helped to ease this problem as patients are far more likely to engage in conversations or ask questions via social media because it is a more relaxed platform that makes them feel at ease. Additionally, when you engage with your patients and clients via social media, it makes you come across as far more approachable, which can help to boost customer loyalty and attract new patients. For businesses in all industries, customer engagement has become a crucial part of the overall running of the business. The same is true for medical facilities and doctors as you still have to keep your current patients happy and informed while working to attract new ones.

Keeping Your Existing Patients Informed

Whether you want to let your patients know about a revolutionary new treatment you are offering, or whether you need to issue a warning about an epidemic, you need to be able to keep your patients informed with ease. Of course, you can add information to your website or put up notices at your medical facility, but your message will not be as far-reaching as it could be if you make use of social media. Huge numbers of people now use social media on a daily basis, which means you can let your patients know about changes, new products and services, and important information with speed and ease. In addition, your patients can share your posts with their own circles of friends, which could also benefit you. For instance, you may use social media to let your patients know about a new treatment you are offering. They may then share this post with their friends, and this could boost interest in your services.

Offering Improved Customer Service

No matter what type of industry you are in, providing an excellent level of customer service is of paramount importance. As a busy doctor running a medical facility, this is not always easy, and time constraints can cause big issues in terms of providing customer service. However, when you use social media as a means of providing this service, you should find things are far easier. This is because you can make contact with people who message you in an instant, which means there is no need to go in and out of emails and type up lengthy correspondences. You can simply use instant messaging on social media sites such as Facebook to reply to your patients and clients or to respond to new inquiries. This not only provides you with greater ease and convenience, but it also benefits the many people who use social media on a regular basis.

A Variety of Social Media Sites to Use

Another thing to bear in mind when it comes to using social media is that there are several social media sites that you can choose from. If you are not using any social media platforms at the moment, it is best not to rely solely on one site. Instead, use several different social media sites to boost your online presence and engage with customers. By doing this, you can work out how well each one works for you over a period of time.

Promoting Your Blog Posts on Social Media Platforms

When you use social media for doctors, you can benefit in a wide range of ways. One of the key benefits is that you can promote your blog posts and drive more traffic to your website. Many medical facilities put up blogs on a regular basis. However, there is no point in having blogs on your site if nobody is going to see them. Whenever you add a blog post to your website, make sure you promote the post via social media platforms. This will then encourage people to follow the link to your blog, which will take them to your site. This, in turn, means that you not only increase the number of people accessing your blog, but you also boost website traffic in general. Moreover, the people who you post to on social media may share your link, which can lead to even more people being driven to your blog and website.

Making the Most Out of Social Media

There is no doubt that more and more people are now using social media platforms on a daily basis. It is important for all doctors with medical practices to take this on board and act accordingly. By making the most of social media platforms, you can be up to date when it comes to marketing your services and engaging with your patients. At Crystal Clear Digital Marketing, we can provide you with expert assistance and advice so you can make the most of the different social media platforms out there. If you would like to learn more about using social media for doctors to benefit your practice and help you to achieve your goals, our experts are always on hand to help. Contact us today to get started!

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Social Media For Physicians: What's To Gain, What's To Lose?

Social Media For Physicians: What's To Gain, What's To Lose? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is not overrated. Some professionals may think that the power of social media is overvalued or that their industries will not benefit from online platforms, but I think that is far from the truth. Social media is free for all, and its advantages are available to everyone, but only if they know how to use them efficiently.

Health Care And The Internet

The internet has given birth to the proliferation and continuous growth of health care in society. Today, there are over 100,000 health and fitness mobiles apps with millions of daily downloads. According to Greatcall, as of 2017, weight loss mobile health apps account for 50 million downloads, while exercise apps have 26.5 million downloads. 85% of those who’ve downloaded these apps also use social media for health.

In the same way, physicians have also been using the internet to learn more about their field as well as share information with patients and clients. As the same source reveals, 80% of physicians use smartphones and medical apps. 30% of mobile health users are caregivers and 93% of physicians also believe that health apps improve health, while 40% say mobile health services — be it via apps or social media — may reduce the number of visits to doctors.


Physicians have also been using social media for professional research, to share their knowledge and to engage with patients. According to PM360 Online, the use of social media by physicians is divided into three levels: content production, content commenting and curating, and passive content consumption.

Sadly, of all levels, the one that will benefit the industry the most has the least number of participants. Only 1% of all health care professionals use social media to be content creators — publishing original content via blogs, forums and websites.


What's more, only 9% of physicians engage with patients and other health care providers -- this includes physicians who reply to comments, join group discussions or share helpful information and links on social media platforms.

The biggest chunk of online users is passive content consumers. Ninety percent of doctors on social media just read relevant information about their patients and their practice without engaging or sharing their knowledge. These statistics are what health care professionals can take advantage of today.

If you’re a physician, you can start building an online presence by using social media platforms. Moreover, you can join the 1% of physicians who have used the internet as thought leaders. Here are some of the benefits of social media for physicians:

What To Gain

Build online presence: Marketing yourself is a lot like marketing a product — you highlight your best asset so that people will prefer your service over others. Today, people turn to the internet for almost everything, including looking for health care information. Social media is one of the best platforms to help you establish your brand.

Having a presence online will help people learn more about you and your service and what makes you stand out from the rest. When patients want to search for the physician nearest them, your profile should pop up on their searches. If your profile has the right content and positive reviews, clients will choose you over other physicians.

Establish yourself as a thought leader: Patients have spent more time researching health information online than visiting doctors. In a year, the average American visits a doctor three times while spending 52 hours on the internet searching for health information.

Moreover, Health Union (registration required) reports that by 2016, Facebook was the second most used online resource for health information at 65% — a jump from 2009’s 39%. A study by Wego Health also reveals that the site is the top platform used by people who are sharing health information. Eighty-seven percent say they share health information on Facebook via posts.

With social media’s importance in health information dissemination, it would be wise to join the 1% of physicians who provide medical content to users. By publishing in-depth, original content on important and pressing health matters, patients will see you as a source of valuable information. Eventually, they will see as a thought leader and will value the information you publish.

What To Lose

Hard to monitor return on investment: Monitoring the returns of social media campaigns is not as easy. Over the years, there have been new studies and formulas established to monitor the return on investment of social media campaigns. While tools are available on platforms to monitor post reach and likes, its correlation to sales is complicated. Things get even more complex if you will try to record patient referrals.

However, while concrete figures are hard to produce, seeing yourself as a thought leader that people use as a resource is often enough of a return. As more and more people visit your profiles, they’ll see you as an expert in your medical field, which may lead to more clients for you.

Time: Obviously, handling social media isn’t a walk in the park. It requires a lot of time for planning strategies, writing content and analyzing data. Social media marketing isn’t just about posting articles or photos. Each piece of content should be well thought out and will work around your strategy.

To reach the most prospect clients, your social media should be carefully calibrated. This will require much of your time. Sadly, for physicians flushed with patients and meetings, this is something you may not have. However, I think when it comes to social media, the good outweighs the bad.

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Social Media in Healthcare: What to Know Before You Plan

Social Media in Healthcare: What to Know Before You Plan | Social Media and Healthcare |

Planning a smart marketing strategy means basing your decisions on data. And today, the data shows that 70% of people use social media. It may not be where prospective patients are actively searching for a doctor, but a solid social media strategy can still build trust with your demographic. And, as you’ll see in this article, paid social media in healthcare is one of the best ways to target an audience.

A solid social media strategy requires planning and scheduling to send the right message to people at the right time. Check out our tips for planning your healthcare social media strategy, and remember—this is only part of a complete marketing plan.

Related: Social Media for Doctors: 5 Things Most Get Wrong

1. Get to know the differences between social media platforms

Unfortunately, all images don’t appear the same across all platforms. A Facebook cover photo is a different size than an Instagram post is a different size than a Twitter ad. In fact, a photo on the same platform on a desktop may look a lot different than on the mobile app. Often, a Facebook image may appear fine upon posting, but you soon discover parts are missing when you load the mobile Facebook app.

This is something to double-check with everything you post. Before you create your social media strategy, establish templates so that staff members know what image size to use for Facebook, Instagram, and others. There are plenty of guides out there, like this one from Hubspot.

Getting to know various social media platforms isn’t just about sizing images. You should know what users are expecting from various platforms. If your Facebook video is more than 20 seconds long, for example, there’s a slim chance that many people will watch it. If you don’t use hashtags on Instagram, there’s no way for someone to find your post. Familiarize yourself with these types of details before you start posting.

2. Consider HIPAA—better safe than sorry!

In every post you make, your staff should consider the risk of disclosing patient information. Easy violations for social media in healthcare include office photos with patients in the background (even just a body part!), patient admission dates, and staff comments that address a patient’s health concerns—even when replying to a commenter.

If you feel unsure that something is appropriate to post, and you don’t have legal patient consent, don’t do it! You may believe you are disguising patient information, but the smallest gleam of biographical info can give someone away. HIPAA violations are easy to avoid. Certain healthcare organizations (like cosmetic surgery practies that feature before and after photos) can contact an attorney to come up with a standard consent form.

3. Align your brand with your social media strategy

Any marketing strategy should focus on consistent branding across all campaigns. Your social media strategy is no exception. Often, people visit social media platforms just to get a feel for who you are—your doctors, your branding, your front desk staff, etc. A variety of posts can address different motivations people have for finding your social media accounts—like the smiling faces of your front desk staff to assuage fears of rudeness.

Sometimes, a social media account is run by multiple members of your team. One way to ensure consistent branding is by setting up a social media style guide. That way, everyone on your team knows what kind of phrasing to avoid, what tone to set with each post (informative, caring, etc.), and what format the posts should take.

4. Provide a strong variety of content

Some people use social media in healthcare primarily as an advertisement for their brand. As such, they make each and every post a promotional ad. Social media strategists know that this is a mistake.

A good mix of posts helps to build trust and maybe even lead some people in the community to follow you. Informative blog posts are a great way to do this, as people trust the doctor’s office as a credible source for health information and will remember that you helped them get the information they needed. You can also post about community events, especially any your staff participates in, and humanize your brand with pictures of the doctors and nurses.

5. Don’t concentrate your budget on organic social media in healthcare

Organic posting on social media can help you get your name out there. It can even improve staff morale. What it probably won’t do is drive patients to your organization. Truthfully, few of your prospective patients are likely to follow you on social media before they schedule an appointment.

A following on social media in healthcare typically includes the staff, friends, family members, and a few grateful former patients. Sometimes, practices use a service that will help grow their social media followers, but these “likes” mean nothing when the people following you are not actually in your targeted demographic!

Paid social media is the only way to truly target patients when they’re ready for your services. Facebook and Instagram ads can retarget those who have already visited your website. This is important—Google does not allow health organizations to retarget people through paid search ads, so social media opens up that opportunity. It also allows you to target people by gender, age range, interests, area of work, and more—making it one of the best ways to target an audience tailored to your specialty. As long as you know what you’re doing.

In short, using social media requires planning and strategy. After developing a brand and style guide for your staff and educating everyone on HIPAA compliance, let one or two people in the office have fun crafting your professional posts. When you want to effectively target an audience, however, paid social media in combination with a paid search strategy (along with a team of strategists) is a better place to spend your time and money.

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When to police staff social media use

When to police staff social media use | Social Media and Healthcare |

Smartphones are ubiquitous. Beyond phone calls and texting, rarely does a moment go by without an urge to peek at the latest Facebook message or newest Instagram picture. While this may be fine at home, it can cause some problems in a medical practice setting if staff members use their smartphones to access social media.


Nitin S. Damle, MD, MS, MACP, board member and physician at South County Internal Medicine in Wakefield, R.I., says his staff are instructed to leave their phones in their lockers and turned off during work hours.

“There is no reason anyone should be getting onto any website other than one that is related to work during working hours,” he says.

What about break time?

Some practices allow use of staff smartphones during breaks, but within specific guidelines. For example, personal social media accounts must be clearly personal and not representative of the office, practice, or health system and no protected patient or other office-related data can appear anywhere on those personal accounts.

Damle adds that the same rules that apply to use of social media at work apply to personal phone calls as well. “There are certainly exceptions in more acute circumstances—for example, when an employee has an ill family member—but an employee who has to be constantly accessible to an elderly parent, for example, taking multiple phone calls from the parent or caregivers during patient care hours wouldn’t bode well for work performance,” he says.

Facebook friends with patients?

A more challenging issue is personal social media relationships between staff and patients. Sometimes office staff may refer friends or relatives to the practice, which can also be tricky where social media is concerned.

In situations like these, the staff member already has a relationship with the patient, so physicians should emphasize that they should not use social media to give medical advice, information, scheduling, test results, or any other practice-related communications via their personal account.

Instead, practice-related communications should flow through normal channels, such as the secure patient portal.

Outside the office

Although it is more difficult to control staff members’ social media behavior outside the office, ground rules can still be established.

“Clearly, staff members shouldn’t talk about patients, even if they de-identify them, or about co-employees, or employers,” he says. Patients also should not post photographs of the work site, patients, physicians, or medical personnel. 

He emphasizes that if this type of activity comes to his attention, “it is immediate grounds for dismissal.” However, if the staff member is a friend or relative of a patient, it is acceptable to post pictures that might include the patient in an out-of-office setting.

Photographs taken within the office might seem innocuous, but can also potentially compromise the privacy of other staff members. For example, perhaps one of the physicians has pictures of his family on his desk—or of patients, even after hours. These posted pictures can also give the misimpression that the photographer is speaking on behalf of the practice.

Damle concludes by stressing that patient care “is at the center of any medical practice” and anything that causes a distraction or interruption of that care, such as inappropriate use of social media, should be avoided.

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10 Examples of Brilliant Healthcare Marketing

10 Examples of Brilliant Healthcare Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

Every now and then, a healthcare organization creates a stellar piece of content, launches a particularly clever social media campaign, or proves that they just get their target audience in a way that makes us fans of healthcare marketing just want to stand up and clap.

Sure, the medical industry may have once been considered a slow adopterto the world of inbound marketing, but it's safe to say that these 10 examples of healthcare marketing are making up for lost time.


10 Examples of Brilliant Healthcare Marketing

1. Carilion Clinic

Campaign: #YESMAMM

Several years ago, in order to raise awareness about breast cancer and the need for early detection, Carilion Clinic of Virginia's Roanoke Valley started the "Yes, Mamm" campaign.

This campaign used the #YESMAMM hashtag to answer common breast cancer questions in a Twitterchat. It also drove traffic to the Carilion Clinic website to encourage women to make an appointment at one of its screening locations. The #YESMAMM campaign is a perfect example of the power of hashtags to start a movement.

2. New York Presbyterian Hospital

Campaign: Patient Stories

For most businesses today, storytelling is a boon for their branding. Healthcare, in particular, is a perfect candidate for telling uplifting success stories of patients who were saved by the care of a medical center. New York Presbyterian Hospital has built an entire video marketing strategy around this concept.

The story of patient Michael Kiernan is one example of how New York Presbyterian connects with its audience, publishing raw accounts of its employees who were on the scene and at the public's service. Watch Kiernan's story below, and try not to cry a little.

3. UnitedHealthcare

Campaign: We Dare You

The multi-award winning "We Dare You" campaign from UnitedHealthcare stands out as the gold standard for what can happen when healthcare organizations engage with their following.

With monthly "dares," quizzes, and prizes on its website, United Healthcare encouraged followers to make one small healthy change per month and document it on social media. This interactive campaign not only led to healthier habits, but it also fostered an interactive online community of brand loyalists.

#WeDareYou to snap a photo of fresh produce & tag it #FreshVeggiesWDY for your chance to #win

— Source4Women (@Source4Women) June 7, 2015

4. Anne Arundel's Medical Center

Campaign: Stachie Facebook Contest

This contest, organized by Anne Arundel's Medical Center, asked participants to post their best "stachie" -- otherwise known as a selfie with either a real or fake mustache. The purpose was to raise awareness for men's health during November (or, "Movember" or "No Shave November," as it has popularly come to be known).

This clever contest not only took advantage of social media hilarity, but it also drove traffic to the medical center's webpage for Men's Health -- which has other attractions for awareness, like their blog, podcast, and calendar of events.


5. Dana-Farber Brigham & Women's Cancer Center

Campaign: You Have Us

It's an incredibly powerful slogan: "Right now you may have cancer. But what your cancer doesn't know is -- You Have Us." Through confidence-inspiring web videos, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute shows its personal approach to cancer treatment and state-of-the-art facilities.

By sharing these videos on social media (as well as using more traditional marketing techniques, like television and radio) the cancer center embodies what it means to build trust with your target audience.

6. Medical Realities

Campaign: Surgical Training in 360 Degrees

Medical Realities is a medical training service that uses virtual reality (VR) to teach complex healthcare topics to an audience of healthcare professionals. And some of its VR content is quite inventive.

The marketing campaign below teaches the video viewer a surgical procedure from the point of view of a patient. Using Oculus Rift, a VR product owned by Facebook, Medical Realities allows you to drag the video 360 degrees around with your cursor. It's an excellent way to show current and future surgeons how surgeries should be experienced according to the patient. Try it out below:

7. Floating Hospital for Children -- Tufts Medical Center


One of the main covenants of effective marketing is catering to your target audience -- and the online community/blog does exactly that. The content and community of support that Our Circle of Moms offers for mothers whose children are patients at the Floating Hospital for Children lives up to their slogan: "Just What Moms Ordered."

By creating this space for mothers to find the support they need, the Floating Hospital for Children is positioning its medical center as a trusted resource for parents.

8. The Mayo Clinic

Campaign: Sharing Mayo Clinic Blog

The Mayo Clinic sees patients from literally all around the world and the goal of the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog is to unite these diverse patients into a global online community. The blog showcases stories from patients, family members, and Mayo Clinic staff.

These inspiring stories and the sense of community that comes from sharing them in one place plays directly into Mayo Clinic's well-known reputation as a trusted healthcare resource. Of course, Mayo Clinic is no stranger to having multiple blogs and general healthcare marketing awesomeness, so its inclusion on this list shouldn't come as any surprise.

9. Arkansas Children's Hospital

Campaign: #100DeadliestDays

In order for a hashtag-driven marketing campaign to be successful, it has to be memorable and worth sharing.

The shock factor of the #100DeadliestDays social media campaign from the Arkansas Children's Hospital (in partnership with the Injury Prevention Center) aimed to raise awareness of the dangerous time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the risk of death for children and teens is increased.

Arkansas Children's Hospital shared safety facts and tips on its social media channels, as well as an interactive pediatric care center, which can be found here.

10. Banner Health

Campaign: Infographics

Speaking of infographics, visual content is widely popular with digital marketing audiences, as exemplified by these wellness, parenting, nutrition, and mental health infographics by Banner Health. Infographics are best used to simplify a potentially complicated or controversial topic, like children's sugar consumption.

Infographics tend to resonate with audiences who may not be interested in sitting down to read a full blog post on an important topic. Plus, infographics are highly shareable across all social media channels, making them a great attention-grabber to attract new patients.

Of course, this list is far from a complete collection of all the great healthcare digital marketing happening on blogs and social media. With so many ways to connect with patients and prospective patients online, healthcare organizations are finding more and more ways to market brilliantly every single day.

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Using Social Media to Enhance Sports Medicine Research Connectivity and Patient Care

Using Social Media to Enhance Sports Medicine Research Connectivity and Patient Care | Social Media and Healthcare |

Seeing high-quality research articles alongside pictures of smiling children and funny cat videos may seem unusual at first, but when you look across the social media landscape this is fairly normal. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and the other available platforms, web sites, and applications can be daunting for the novice user. As the use of social media is now intertwined in society, it is important for the clinician and researcher to understand how best to use the information to improve patient outcomes and the impact of clinical research.

According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of American adults receive their news from social media.1 In a similar regard, members of the public, including your patients, may only be getting their scientific information from these platforms and from their “followers” and/or friends. Perhaps the best way to get correct information to the lay population is through engagement. This will assist in reducing the impact of “echo-chambers” where misinformed beliefs regarding health care and the larger scientific community may be propagated.2 Although engaging the public in an open, unmoderated forum may seem scary, this conversation can lead to new innovations in research and clinical outcomes.

How can social media inform everyday patient care? Remember the three-legged stool of evidence-based practice includes the best research available, clinical expertise and patient values. What better way to learn about what patients value than when they are openly offering their opinion on the latest and greatest health care trends? Therefore, engaging patients can not only have an important impact on their misconceptions, but also inform you, the expert, on what those patients value.3

From a tangible perspective, understanding who is reading your work and what your relative impact is may also help improve your connectivity to the patients whose health care you are attempting to improve. For example, as of May 15, 2018, according to compiled openly available Altmetric statistics, which track research and social media impact, the Athletic Training & Sports Health CareJanuary/February 2018 issue's social media Twitter engagement was approximately 85% members of the public versus 15% identified as a practitioner or scientist. I certainly found this surprising because I hypothesized it would skew in the opposite direction, with a majority of retweets coming from scientists! Clearly it is not just other researchers reading your work in the journal!

The one issue with social media is its impulsivity and fleeting nature, which certainly has an impact on research dissemination. As you can imagine, the influence of social media for research circulation is primarily limited to the initial date of online publication, with the highest social media impact occurring within the first 30 days of online release.4 However, a recent investigation has found that the amount of social media impact (retweets and online engagement) an article has in the first 3 days is highly correlated to citation counts!4

Although it is difficult to condense all you want to say to the world about your study into 140 to 280 characters, make sure it is attention grabbing, include a link to the article, and tweet early and often. The lesson learned is the more reach you can have with your article, the more influence your scientific information can have on both the lay population and the scientific and clinical communities!


    1. Shearer E, Gottfried J. News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017. Accessed May 15, 2018.
    1. Del Vicario M, Bessi A, Zollo F, et al. The spreading of misinformation online. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016;113:554–559. doi:10.1073/pnas.1517441113 [CrossRef]
    1. MacNamara A, Collins D. Twitterati and Paperati: evidence versus popular opinion in science communication. Br J Sports Med. 2015;49:1227–1228. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-094884 [CrossRef]
  1. Eysenbach G. Can tweets predict citations? Metrics of social impact based on Twitter and correlation with traditional metrics of scientific impact. J Medical Internet Res. 2011;13:e123. doi:10.2196/jmir.2012 [CrossRef]

From the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska.

The author has no financial or proprietary interest in the materials presented herein.

Correspondence: Adam B. Rosen, PhD, ATC, University of Nebraska at Omaha, 6001 Dodge Street, 207Y H&K Builiding, Omaha, NE 68182. E-mail:
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Physicians Must Meet Patients Where They Are, on Social Media 

Physicians Must Meet Patients Where They Are, on Social Media  | Social Media and Healthcare |

It is rare to see evidence-based physicians with significant followings across social media, and that kind of doctor shortage is posing a serious risk to patients’ health.

A new survey from the American Osteopathic Association found that expanding physician voices into social media is not only desired by patients, but should also be encouraged by the industry. Not surprisingly, the absence of qualified healthcare voices online has led to misinformation that confuses, and at times even harms, patients.

Generally, the discussion on the relationship between social media and health concentrates on the negative consequences of using social networks. A simple web search of “social media and health” brings up a barrage of articles tying social media use to everything from anxiety to addiction to suicide. While the examination of these topics is critical and overuse is a concern, this is not where the conversation should end.



As a practicing family medicine physician with a social media reach of over 5 million followers, I can attest to the missed benefits and true harms that come from a scarcity of physicians publishing on social media. To understand the magnitude of the issue, we have to look at some research.

People naturally seek information via the internet. In fact, eight out of 10 Internet users seek health information online, among whom 74% use social media. With almost one-half of the world’s population logged on, that is an incredible demand for health information.

Not only do a sizable majority of people search the web to learn more about their health, it appears that they are using that information to make tangible changes. Nearly one-third of Americans (32%) have taken an action related to their health as a result of social media. That’s a dangerous reality considering the number of unqualified sources with loud voices.

Too often, I find my patients obsessing over “miracle” weight-loss supplements or following the latest celebrity crash diet. These are dangerous ploys that can derail a patient from healthier—more substantiated—plans of action.



Social media has given us the relatively untapped potential to positively influence billions of people by battling this misinformation. While it might seem like a nebulous and onerous task, there are two aspects to the fight.

First, on the battlefield itself, physicians can proactively combat the spread of false science by publishing evidence-based information on social media. Second, in our offices, we must talk with patients about information they’ve uncovered online. Exerting influence is an integral part of being a competent physician, so it is only right that we expand this influence into the social media realm.

While I advocate for physicians to embrace social media and connect with patients and non-patients alike, I do not believe social media is a medium for direct medical care. Advising on a patient’s individual condition is very different from discussing that condition in general. This is a thin line that must be continually readdressed, but it is certainly not one that should discourage dedicated physicians from disseminating valuable information. Without qualified physicians, the gap is instead filled by anxiety-inducing, often un-validated sources of information.



I used to consider the absence of quality physicians online merely a problem of missed opportunity. Now I’ve realized it is much more than that.

If misinformation has the power to call in to question the validity of something as grand as an American presidential election, it certainly has the power to influence our patients’ everyday health decisions. The healthcare industry as a whole needs to advocate for more education and focus on this burgeoning global communication platform.


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How Hospitals Can Manage Patient Surges Using Social Media -

How Hospitals Can Manage Patient Surges Using Social Media - | Social Media and Healthcare |

Before hospitals triage patients, they triage information to ensure they have the right resources in place to provide the highest standard of care. All hospitals, especially hospital networks, rely heavily on their information-gathering teams to equip staff with the most accurate information to best do their jobs. This is essential in any operation, but when it comes to the hospital and healthcare industry, responding quickly and effectively can be the difference between life and death.

Hospitals must do this to stay ahead of breaking incidents so they aren’t caught flat-footed when ambulances deliver patients to their door. Hospital dispatch teams need to know about every variable of an incident, both large and small. They need to know about the water main break down the road affecting traffic to and from their facility. They need to know about a car accident sending three patients to the ER. And they need to know about mass casualty incidents bringing a large number of critically injured victims to their facilities. To stay informed, dispatch teams process various information streams, including those from police and fire departments, scanner traffic and news organizations.

The volume of information, however, can be staggering, especially in times of unforeseen events, which can produce an influx of fragmented and sometimes contradictory information. Making matters worse, traditional information streams often are delayed, even more so when incidents are unfolding. Such delays routinely impede patient care as hospital staff rush to have the proper facilities and manpower ready after they assess an individual on site.

The solution is real-time information, which gives dispatch teams an understanding of incidents as they happen, instead of after they happen.

Social Media Streams Real-Time Information

Modern life is punctuated by social media. People report their lives online every moment, including events that impact hospitals. Today, when people see something, they post about it on public platforms, sometimes before even calling 911. Given this immediacy, social media can serve as a crucial dataset for hospital dispatch teams. It can provide indications of unforeseen events so they can begin information gathering sooner.

However, an early warning is only the first step. Getting the full picture is just as important. Images and video posted online, alongside social media users’ descriptions, provide dispatch teams with eyewitness accounts and enables them to have a more detailed understanding of a situation. This helps hospitals be proactive instead of reactive while preparing for the arrival of those injured.

Likewise, emergency management teams must use real-time information. While the hospital dispatch team keeps them informed of breaking events, inevitably, there are gaps in communication. By utilizing publicly available social media data, emergency management professionals can ensure they are never caught off guard by questions from key stakeholders or new developments that impact resource allocation. They need the most up-to-date knowledge in order to decide what information is needed by the various departments to keep the healthcare facility operating smoothly.

How Hospitals Can Use Real-Time Social Media Data

To understand how real-time social media data can lead to better patient care, consider how hospitals respond to mass shootings. A recent example is the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting where, on Oct. 2, a gunman opened fire from his hotel room at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip, killing 59 people and injuring more than 500 others. The scene was chaotic and the information that local hospitals were receiving was wildly disparate. For the staff at the University Medical Center Southern Nevada, the true scale of the event was initially unknown.

Deborah Kuhls, medical director for UMC’s trauma intensive care unit, told Healthcare Finance News that their first reports said five to 10 patients were en route to their trauma center. However, later reports stated that 50 to 100 patients were coming.

When mass shootings and other mass casualty events happen, local hospitals must make space in their trauma centers for a surge in patients. Getting real-time data on these incidents helps healthcare facilities prepare for these surges.

The information changed drastically, and it impacted how the hospital needed to prepare. Responding to mass shootings like this one requires that hospitals make space in their trauma centers for patient surges. It requires them to page doctors and prepare operating rooms. Information derived from social media gave a clearer grasp of the Las Vegas shooting during the initial response.

Immediately following the first gunshots, people took to social media reporting their experience. They posted images and video, all of which offered grim insight into the scale of the attack. For healthcare emergency management professionals, this real-time social media information would have immediately told them to expect more than 10 patients. This context is critical for emergency management teams, but it should also be noted that information posted publicly on social media is frequently the first indication that an incident is in progress.

For example, Dataminr, a company that delivers real-time alerts about breaking events derived from publicly available data, sent their first notification about the Las Vegas shooting 22 minutes ahead of major news outlets. Such a significant advantage has the potential to reduce response times, which leads to better patient care.

Identify Small Issues Before They Become Big

Social media not only aids hospital preparedness in these large-scale events, it also helps them learn of minor incidents that can impede hospital operations in a major way. For example, any issue impacting mass transit can have cascading effects throughout a hospital. Such transportation delays can affect staff’s ability to get to work or cause a mass casualty incident if not resolved quickly.

For example, in June 2017, a subway train in New York City was stalled without power for 45 minutes. It was a hot summer day and the cars quickly became overheated without air conditioning. Some riders panicked when they were unable to pry open doors or windows to circulate air. What started as a minor event became dire as the temperature rose inside the train cars. This event had the potential to send a significant amount of passengers to hospitals due to the psychological and physical strains it caused, but learning of the situation early or understanding the conditions riders were enduring would be a challenge for hospitals using only traditional information streams.

Public social media posts from stranded riders, many of them accompanied by photos and videos, documented the severity of the situation. Had this event escalated further, hospitals could have used this ground-level knowledge to ready their staff and facilities so they would be prepared to treat patients suffering from heat-related maladies or emotional distress. Traditional information streams were unlikely to notify hospitals of this transit malfunction in a timely manner or offer a sense of the potentially serious health effects for riders.

Similarly, this past March, a Nor’easter dumped two feet of snow on northern New Jersey. The storm caused serious backups on highways, including on Route 280 where 500 cars were stuck for hours. Authorities used snowmobiles to check on those trapped who were susceptible to the cold and at risk of dehydration. Fortunately, roadways were cleared before anyone suffered serious health consequences, but the storm also contributed to 506 vehicle accidents. Once more, real-time social media posts reported everything from car crashes to the plights of those stuck in cars, giving hospitals added visibility into the effects of the storm.

In addition to aiding response, incorporating social media into a healthcare organization’s emergency plans can help with CMS compliance. Last November, new CMS guidelines for hospitals were issued. The updates require more explicit planning for natural disasters and other emergencies, and increased coordination with local, state, and federal authorities. The changes aim to help hospitals “better anticipate and plan for needs, rapidly respond as a facility, as well as integrate with local public health and emergency management agencies.” By incorporating social media data into emergency preparedness plans, healthcare facilities can work towards meeting these new CMS guidelines and improve their monitoring of ongoing emergencies.

Real-Time Information Can Improve General Hospital Operations

Beyond the needs of emergency management teams, real-time social media information can similarly aid in the operations for both hospital security and administration. Security, for example, must maintain awareness of everything from a gas leak in the vicinity to crime nearby that requires security guards to be on high alert. Hospital administration can use social media to help ensure patient privacy, especially when VIPs are being treated and they need to protect against information leaks online. More generally, hospital administrators and C-suites can use social media to maintain a high level of awareness of events impacting their facilities, staff and operations. Such awareness can allow administration professionals to stay on top of any personnel issues, public grievances or lapses in service that may adversely affect the hospital’s reputation.

Even communications teams can benefit from real-time data by helping them protect their organization’s brand. They need to stay abreast of how their hospitals are discussed online so they can mitigate potential PR problems. If inaccurate information is circulating, they need to correct the record immediately. If there are patient or staff complaints online, they need to address these issues before they gain traction or press attention. Conversely, positive social media posts should be shared and commented on quickly to build brand awareness for the facility.

Lastly, communications teams need real-time information to inform their messaging to journalists. Reporters are known for their savvy use of social media to get a jump on stories. Communications teams do not want to find out about an issue when they’re being asked to comment on it by a journalist. They need to operate like the media so they can stay ahead of the story.

How Can We Find a Needle in the Haystack?

Clearly, real-time public social media data can be extremely valuable, but social media is a vast dataset full of extraneous and irrelevant information as well. In order to make use of social media information, hospitals need a platform that combines artificial intelligence and machine-learning to separate the signals from the noise so they can extract the right information instantly. Social media alerts should not require keyword searches or be time-consuming to use. They should be proactive and customizable based on location, topic and priority level, making them valuable across hospital functions. Furthermore, integrating social media data should fit seamlessly into current hospital operations. No changes to staffing or physical infrastructure should be necessary, thus allowing requisite team members access to this information through the existing technological frameworks.

Considered together, what emerges is a portrait of how essential real-time information is to hospital efficiency. Gone are the days when social media was viewed merely as an avenue for selfies, likes and shares. Instead, it has become a singular and immediate dataset, one that, when properly utilized, can allow for the clearest understanding and the fastest response times. As the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Stated differently, it is better to be proactive than reactive. To achieve this, it is essential that hospitals operate with real-time information. It is the only way to stay apprised of breaking events, provide the best patient care and, ultimately, save lives.

Ed Monan is Dataminr’s Director of Corporate Security Sales

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Countering fake medical news on social media a challenge

Countering fake medical news on social media a challenge | Social Media and Healthcare |

Wide reach of messaging platforms a problem

Media reports over the last couple of years indicate that fake news on WhatsApp has claimed about 25 lives in the country, Jinesh P.S., a health activist, has said. But he is unsure of the number of lives lost or are under threat due to completely baseless information on health issues that get passed on as authentic news on the personalised messaging platform.

Co-founder and administrator of the Facebook group, Info Clinic, Dr. Jinesh said there was no accounting for how forwarded ‘health’ messages made people discontinue their regular medication and take unauthenticated health tips masquerading as alternative or traditional medicine.

While his group tried to give answers to a number of queries that landed directly on their page, the reach of the WhatsApp messaging platform was far greater, he said.

The main aim of fake news creators is to attack modern medicine. Diseases such as cancer, psoriasis, cardiac ailments, diabetes and hypertension are among some of targeted diseases, for which modern medicine has evolved management techniques rather than sure-cure treatment methods.

Unvalidated and fake health messages had far-reaching consequences, said Hemant Radhakrishnan, the managing director of Anvita Tours2Health, an internet platform that tries to bridge the gap between patients and doctors. Most people are not inclined to even consider validating the authenticity of the information. The nuisance of fake messaging was that it kept circulating over the years, he added.

On the part of the government, an Arogya Jagrata programme has been launched to provide information through house visits. The State government had faced a tough time while implementing the measles-rubella (MR) vaccination programme last year.

District Collector K. Mohammed Y. Safirulla told The Hindu that the challenges of contradictory news against the vaccination drive on social media were taken up at various levels. While the government had to register cases against some people for spreading news against vaccination, the hard part was to convince people about the good effects of vaccination.

“We cannot stifle opposition in a democratic set-up, so we had to approach the opposition with data and evidence,” said Mr. Safirulla.

Neurosurgeon B. Ekbal, former Vice Chancellor of Kerala University and noted health activist, said he considered social media a good platform to run health campaigns. There were several young doctors utilising the platforms to run rational health campaigns, he said.

Tashanna T's curator insight, August 13, 1:56 PM
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What would happen if medical and social data benefited from the same protection?

What would happen if medical and social data benefited from the same protection? | Social Media and Healthcare |

When we think of any activity related to transhumanism, we can rely on the idea that it’s because we want to enhance the functioning performance of our bodies. Bodies is written in plural, here, because there are many possibilities to “wear a body” (from physical disabilities to transexualism; from accidental events to personal choices). We can even see our personal decisions as if they were merely the result of a condensed amount of information that circulate through our organs: spatial recognition through the sense of vision, data transmission though speech, data storage and accurate data recall using a memory system, and many other things that should help our living being to thrive in this world. But this version of our human condition has also a lot to do with our possibility to stay healthy. Which means that our ability to maintain the good functioning of our organism is to help it survive or succeed in life. In summary, our medical condition can improve our social activity.

However, our actual world is not made of a fantastic humanoid species that wouldn’t even need to sleep nor eat to maintain its level of energy balanced. Actual humans have vulnerabilities and especially moral tendencies. When we are part of a community, we tend to appreciate the sense of dignity that circulates among our peers. We tend to learn to respect each other in order to maintain our sense of self and integrity. So, what would happen if there wouldn’t be any more border between our social activity and our medical condition? How would it be if our social activity could predict our medical situation?

Actually, what is our situation about social and medical data? Apparently there’s a gap between the two. The difference is that medical records is under the protection of the law and confidentiality. Personal information such as data shared on social media doesn’t have that much secrecy. While their common enemy remains the same: public exposure. Some persons are comfortable sharing their medical condition to others, but the status of their medical records doesn’t change, it is still legally protected. On the other side, some people don’t necessarily feel as easy even with their personal information they share online through social medias. What is the purpose of keeping data protected or private, then?

In fact, the purpose of keeping medical data classified and private is because of their vulnerabilities to abuse. Medical data is one of the highest vulnerable information. The amount of sensitivity of a medical record is kept under protection because of the amount of harm it could cause if it were divulged easily. The public announcement of a medical problem can cause other persons to see the ill one with a different eye or to take advantage of the illness. The consequences of this knowledge could be more or less lethal and could cause some intolerant treatment within the workplace. This protection supposes that someone shouldn’t be discriminated by their medical condition.

But what about social data, the information that we consensually share to each other about our own moral features sometimes? What’s the difference and should there be any? One of the difference between the two sets of personal data is that medical data are mostly pieces of information collected and registered by healthcare professionals. However, both social and medical data are pieces of personal information that can be as much jeopardizing for one single person. Let’s think of moral harassment and especially blackmailing, for example, where someone can have his or her reputation threatened just because of some digital profiling realized online! Since the case with Cambridge Analytica, it now seems acceptable to realize some psychological profiling, apparently.

So, what would happen if one person’s medical record could be attached to his or her social data shared online? Well, let’s see. First, when some piece of medical data is registered in a data base, it is supposed to be done under the control of certified professionals from the healthcare system. However, when it comes to mental illness, the diagnosis can be a bit obscure. In this case, when it comes to mental illness, it can happen that some professionals can disagree on the diagnosis. So, it is possible, in the mental health care system just as much as the other healthcare centers, to have different outcomes. We may have three possible outcomes: an agreed diagnosis that can be then treated alongside the DMS-V suggestions, or a diagnosis that doesn’t fit the experience of the professionals who got charge of the illness (in this case this means the patient got to meet different practitioners), or there’s the case where some professionals completely disagree on the definition of a mental health issue yet found by some other colleagues (which also implies the consultation of several doctors). The problem of these uncertainties is the potential of false positiveBecause these disagreements can happen among humans, why it wouldn’t happen with a machine?

Why was this precision needed about our topic regarding social data versus medical data? Because if we get to live in a world that combines the two of them, there will be circumstances that would potentially add mental health issues along the analysis of the social data, and there might be catastrophic consequences. In a few years it will definitively be easy to find any recorded human on at least one social network. Imagine, in fact, if we could relate the medical records of one single person to his personal information shared online though social media? The idea is not new, and social surveillance is already in place by the government in order to prevent terrorist acts, so the globalization of the practice might be on its way. What can we do about it now?

Let’s think about it, then. And that’s what I want to do here, because the potential of analysis that we have today have attained such amount of performance that it would only be a question of ethics not to automatically combine the two. The algorithms we create today are able to optimize themselves, which means that they would be able to decide their own standards and set their own limits by themselves as well. Which also means that it’s just a question of time before our mental health care system will exclusively rely on some automated decisions.


Google efforts to create a machine learning and augmented reality-powered microscope for real-time detection of cancer, helping to make pathologists more efficient and ultimately to save patient lives.

The amount of data collected today is too enormous to be denied or taken aside. We have overstepped our possibilities to regain our privacy entirely, for instance. Our sense of privacy might no longer belong to us after a few years, if we let it be. Our analyzed patterns of behavior will set a persona that is supposed to resemble the shadow that follows us everyday (and the potential of data analysts with a psychology background for working on virtual profiling will hold a certain place in that kind of practice!). The difference with the real world is that our actual shadow only follows us until we are dead, while a ghost that holds our data will probably live forever, for the sake of keeping the future of automated decisions much more accurate over time. Because more data an artificial intelligence owns, better it will be for them to create patterns of recognition, and we are not just born from pollen spread in the nature, we are born with a history. Which means that our history has a history! The first history that follows us is our family. Our family have their own ghosts, each member of the family has their personal shadow that will follow them until they die. And as said previously, more the machine is fed with data, more accurate its decisions will be…

What’s the problem about medical data combined with social data here? What should it matter that they share the same legal status? As we know, the amount of performance of our actual algorithms is able to predict unhealthy patterns with faster precisions than any human could do accurately. The percentage of validity of those predictions are getting higher and higher over time. This means that the algorithms of the future will find unhealthy patterns within a body with a disarming facility. Will it get as accurate when it comes to mental diagnosis though? Will this facility allows these algorithms to open a new market? Will our medical data gain a new capitalistic value? If no, why not? If yes, for what purpose? What would be the purpose of capitalizing on such accurate predictions?

Facebook once tried to find patterns of depression among its users in order to provide them some help, especially when it comes to suicide. What if there were paid advertisements that were related to those activities of prediction (especially when the health care system is private)? What if the social network earned some of its money from these predictive algorithms concerning suicide? Any social media that claims to care for their user the way Facebook did can be very interested in optimizing this type of algorithms. Which means that working on the optimization of predictive analytics is the beginning of a new era: the one that can capitalize on vulnerabilities. Where would we go if our virtual behaviors were scanned to the point that it would benefit some services which would be able to provide parents some moral comfort about their kids: the fact that some engineers and designers would work on building the predictive algorithms just so some parents would feel less worried about their children having a depressive crisis, because the machine would be able to warn them before their own kids would realize how suicidal or depressive they are? It doesn’t sound as alarming, stated that way, but it’s one of the example that can state that medical records can be capitalized, as no physical diagnosis can be realized through social media.

So here’s my question, after all: what would happen if medical & social data shared the same legal status, finally? Who would benefit from a locked system that protects personal information? Maybe not a system that want to capitalize on medical issues. Why? Because if we dig into the dystopia, what if the argument that goes along with this monetization was claiming that some mental health issues could be potentially harmful for the society and that it would then become necessary to have some kind of “legitimate” control? Who will decide what is harmful? What could be the consequences of analyzing personal information shared voluntary on social networks as if they were potential prediction related to mental health issues? Who will set the diagnosis? How will the machine recognize what is actually a mental illness? From which experience? So, how to add the ethics that can or should regulate that kind of artificial diagnosis?

In my article here, the main question is why social data couldn’t benefit from the same protection than medical data if our future tendencies are to realize some profiling that might overstep on issues related to mental illness? Because there might be problems related to confidentiality and especially on accuracy. Let’s dig into it, because transhumanism is probably the movement who would be the most interested about the combination!

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Pharma is Ready to be ‘Human’ in Social Media – and how I got blocked by Twitter!

Pharma is Ready to be ‘Human’ in Social Media – and how I got blocked by Twitter! | Social Media and Healthcare |

It would be an exaggeration to say we are already surrounded by brilliant examples of pharma using social media to meet patients’ needs. But at the international Pharma Social Media Conference last week in London, I could see that on the horizon.

This year’s conference had a hungry buzz about it, with our colleagues in pharma really wanting to grapple with the question of ‘how’ to engage with patients, rather than just, ‘Should we?’. Much like at eyeforpharma, the mix was filled with crucial ‘newer’ partners such as biotech and medical device firms. Collaboration, the key to pharma’s future, is now a given.

Co-creation with patients is the norm at Kanga. When I shared some examples in my talk (such as the MyFeelPlus app for prostate cancer patients), it sparked some great discussions – rather than merely the fear of regulatory constraints.

Leo Innovation Lab was created to put patients first and deliver digital solutions for patients, independent of Leo pharma and their products. Morten Remmer described how they built a community for Psoriasis patients to allow them to have a private discussion, as they often don’t want to share problems in front of loved ones in social media. Later, Maria de Freitas from the same organisation showcased an app that helps psoriasis patients track their condition:

Pharma delegates told us that they want to meet patients and doctors on their own terms. They are ready to get down to the ‘nitty gritty’ of governance issues. As Serli Çubukçu of Sanofi pointed out, we are all ‘prosumers’ now. We understand from our own experience the irrelevance of firms absent from social media. ‘No-one has 30 seconds for interruption, but we all have 30 minutes for stuff we like!’

Real, Relevant, Respect, Respond: the four Rs of social media that I outlined in my talk. Speakers gave solid presentations that touched on all of these. In a helpful case study, Sarah Holiday of Pfizer shared their strategy for congress tweeting for HCPs. Each team runs their own congress through the central @pfizercongress account. This makes the account a hub for SM-active doctors, while the posting is still done by teams with the most relevant knowledge.

Alex Saunders provided insight into GSK’s social media approach, noting that ‘the content has to be brilliant or we’re wasting our time’. He explained their aim of combining journalistic editorial leadership with a culture of creativity and an ‘outside-in’ mentality.

His presentation recognised that the most crucial information must be gleaned from those we are trying to engage with.  It’s refreshing to hear a presentation like this. It signals the sea-change in big pharma that can help patients the most – and, in turn, ensure the industry’s successful evolution.

There was discussion of the potential of LinkedIn, with an insightful talk from Cyril Mandry from MSD. He outlined the business opportunities of the channel for pharma:

Of course, LinkedIn does not allow drug promotion, including to HCPs. Engagement must take a different form and signpost to other assets. LinkedIn is an increasingly versatile channel. Its scope for connecting pharma with HCPs is considerable.

Facebook is a vital tool for engaging patients.  Maria outlined her top tips for getting the most out of it, in particular using FB’s Business Manager to run projects, which offers insights and functionality not available to an ordinary FB user.

I noted in my presentation that when Ipsen’s LivingwithNETs (developed by Kanga, co-created with patients) won the eyeforpharma award this year, Ipsen’s share price saw a notable increase. Delegates told me afterwards that this fact had helped to confirm what they already knew: that the winners in our industry are winning because of their close attention to patients’ needs.

I also learned the hard way how many times you can tweet in a day before Twitter thinks you are a bot and blocks you! – It’s around 100. My tweet behaviour probably also pushed the ‘regularity’ button – I was tweeting at a consistent rate as I do at all conferences. I had to ask for an ‘unlock’:

The conference chair commented I was ‘tweeting like a millennial’ (must tell my millennial children � ) But on a more serious note, we were surprised that only a few delegates were tweeting or using any SM to share conference content. Cyril pointed out that companies with socially-engaged employees perform better in SM, and Jannick Larsen of Teva encouraged everyone to ‘become a thought leader’ on SM and share great content.

We must all become participants in order to learn how to implement the key theme that emerged from the conference: Being human, treating people right in social media, is where patient, healthcare professional and business value are delivered.

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