Social Media and Healthcare
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Here's The Simple Secret To Apple's Marketing Success

Here's The Simple Secret To Apple's Marketing Success | Social Media and Healthcare |

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1939

When did marketers start assuming that the way to stand out amidst loud and flashy advertising methods was to be even louder and flashier? We’re faced with increasing evidence, statistics, and research findings indicating that consumers are tired of being bombarded with extraneous information, which distracts rather than assists them in their buying decisions.

According to research done by CEB, the most effective way to reach consumers isn’t through elaborate and complex websites, ads or sales copy, but rather through simplifying the decision making process: in other words, presenting exactly what consumers need to know, while leaving out the rest. In fact, they found that companies who simplified and streamlined the decision making process for their customers were 86% more likely to make a sale.

The key to modern marketing? Simplicity.

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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
cctopbuilders's comment, April 26, 6:01 AM
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Social Media’s Having a Crisis. Here’s Why Your Organization Still Needs It.

Social Media’s Having a Crisis. Here’s Why Your Organization Still Needs It. | Social Media and Healthcare |

It’s been just about 15 years since Facebook brought social networking to the mainstream, and like a lot of teenagers, it’s having an identity crisis. Data breaches, electioneering scandals, and privacy concerns are buffeting the platform, along with its offshoots and competitors.

With all this going on, hospital leaders may be wondering: is using social media still a sustainable strategy for connecting with patients?

The answer is an unequivocal yes. But as social media comes of age, so should health systems’ relationship with it. Lee Aase, Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network, recently shared some advice on the subject in an issue of BoardRoom Press.

Here are three of his tips to help your organization find a mature social-media strategy.

  1. Get Involved—But Have a Plan

94% of healthcare organizations have some social-media presence. Nowhere near as many have a social-media strategy. Instead, many health-system marketing teams improvise, eking out likes and shares as they go.

Lee points out that this is usually not the best approach. The stakes are high for hospitals’ online interactions—so hospitals should make them count. “Your patients are already talking about your hospital online,” he says. “You will be affected by what they say.”

To keep that social-media conversation meaningful, hospitals should approach social engagement strategically. Tips on how to accomplish that could fill an entire book. But at the very minimum, hospitals should establish clear lines of thought for two issues:

– Employee social-media presence. Your hospital probably doesn’t need a stand-alone social-media policy. But guidelines will help employees understand how to apply existing hospital policy when they’re online. This is critical to help healthcare systems protect their online brands. The Mayo Clinic shares their guidelines here.

– Responses to customer complaints. No matter how excellent the hospital, there will always be a vocal minority of unhappy patients. Sometimes they bring their complaints to highly visible social-media platforms. A consistent policy on how to field these concerns will serve hospitals well. If hospital staff can address complaints with respect and tact, they’ll often be able to defuse the situation, and earn a lot of credibility in the process.

  1. Watch out for Risks

“A chainsaw can do work much more quickly than an axe, but also can do much more damage if used improperly,” Lee says. Likewise, social media can be an extraordinarily valuable marketing tool, but it comes with substantial risks.

The most obvious of these is HIPAA violations. Each one could cost hospitals up to $1.5 million in civil fines alone—not even counting additional criminal penalties or legal settlements for victims.

And with social media, it’s distressingly easy for employees to break the law. Some of the more common social-media HIPAA fouls are:

– Posting images of a patient without written consent

– Posting gossipy information (often gripes and complaints) about patients online

– Posting identifying details about patients

– Posting photos where Protected Health Information (PHI) is at all visible

This last one is particularly troubling. Medical identity theft is on the rise, and thieves can potentially use images from social media to compromise patients’ records. That’s why even something as innocuous as a selfie with a patient chart in the distant background can result in civil and criminal penalties for a healthcare facility.

The guidelines mentioned above can help employees protect their patients’ privacy. But safe social-media training must be a persistent, ongoing effort. It’s the only way to avoid running afoul of HIPAA laws.

  1. Capture Opportunities

But health-system leaders shouldn’t let these risks scare them away from social media’s promising innovations. The evidence is clear that social networks empower healthcare professionals to accomplish some remarkable things:

– A study from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found social media to be the single most effective way to reach an extremely vulnerable patient population: homeless youth.

– Researchers in Canada discovered that social-media engagement improved patient compliance with dietary recommendations.

– A meta-analysis from Hong Kong Polytechnic University confirmed how much clinicians rely on social media to educate each other, make referrals, and support care delivery.

– And finally, Cochrane Child Health carefully reviewed their social-media activity for more than a year, and found empirical evidence supporting social media’s unique efficiency in disseminating evidence to healthcare professionals—and in enhancing the prestige of a healthcare brand.

Don’t Miss Social Media’s Promise

Among marketing experts, much is made of social media’s ROI. The techniques listed above illustrate how powerful those returns can be. There’s obvious value for investment in social.

But there’s a further ROI that healthcare organizations should consider. Lee (paraphrasing media consultant Danny Brown) calls it not Return on Investment, but the Risk of Ignoring. He means that social media gives healthcare organizations an unprecedented opportunity to connect with their patients. There’s no doubt that savvy organizations will continue to capitalize on it—and those that don’t will find themselves further behind the curve.

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Take two and Tweet me in the Morning: How Social Media is Reshaping Health Care

Take two and Tweet me in the Morning: How Social Media is Reshaping Health Care | Social Media and Healthcare |

Given the rapid changes in the communication landscape brought about by participative Internet use and social media, it is important to develop a better understanding of these technologies and their impact on health communication. From 2005 to 2017 participation in social networking sites more than quadrupled. In the health communication community, there is a widespread assumption that recent advances in Internet technologies, particularly social media, have transformed the pattern of communication, including health-related communications.

In today’s changing healthcare landscape, the use of social media has a direct implication for health communication programs, prompting efforts to identify new opportunities of using social media to impact patient care. Social media has played an integral role in improving lives of patient’s and healthcare companies are on the forefront of this technological breakthrough through several important ways. First, the Internet-based social networks increase social support and interconnectivity among individuals. Second, with the increase of user-generated content, information sharing is seen as more democratic and patient controlled, enabling users to exchange health-related information that they need and therefore making the information more patient/consumer-centered Third, in recent times, public health programs have demonstrated success in adapting social media as a communication platform for health promotion efforts such as smoking cessation, kidney disease education, and dietary interventions, increasing their reach through cyberspace. Social media, a great information equalizer, is radically transforming the way people communicate around the world. Until recently the predominant communication model was "one" authority to "many". Social media has changed the monologue to a dialogue, where anyone with internet access can be a content creator and communicator.


Protecting Patient Information:

With the rise of health-related information being shared over social media on a daily basis, it is vital that healthcare workers educate themselves on how to keep patient information confidential.
The Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted by Congress in 1996 with the intent of providing patients more control over their healthcare records. HIPPA encompasses a variety of key points including:

  •   Reducing healthcare fraud

  •   Implementing industry-wide standards for information provided on electronic billing

  •   Providing health insurance to individuals that are changing or have lost their jobs

In terms of protecting healthcare information, HIPPA sets guidelines that pertain to the protection and confidential handling of an individual’s health records. These guidelines have become somewhat of an issue in terms of social media. Healthcare professionals cannot directly address patients through these outlets as it violates the privacy and confidentiality regulations outlined by HIPPA. Other healthcare facilities are encouraged to implement strict policies and guidelines for what employees are allowed to post on social networking websites. Some ways to avoid HIPPA violations include:

  •  Distribute clear social networking policies to employees
  •   Avoid any discussion of patients, even in general terms

  •   Speak generally about conditions and treatments

  •   Prominently post your policies and procedures on all social media platforms

  •   Do not practice medicine online by responding to patients offline

Utilizing Social Media

There is a variety of ways that healthcare managers are utilizing social media to enhance their services and provide patients with accurate medical information. Here are the top ways professionals in the field are using social media:

#1: Share Information

Social media is intended to provide individuals the ability to access information quickly and communicate with others. Healthcare organizations utilize these tools and websites to share information with consumers in a variety of ways such as sharing general information about flu shots and tips to avoid a cold. Sharing news regarding outbreaks or health hazards is an effective way for healthcare facilities to provide accurate information to patients. It is important to note that all patient specific information requires permission along with a signed release. Other forms of sharing information through social media include:

  •   Provide updates on new technologies

  •   Introduce new doctors in a practice on social networks

  •   Answer questions on various topics (e.g. how to reach doctors or hours of operation)

  •   Offer patients any updates that relate to the practice itself

#2: Compare and Improve Quality

Another effective way that healthcare managers utilize social media is by spending time evaluating their competitors to get an insight into the services they offer and overall patient satisfaction. By taking a look into different practices and their social media involvement, professionals have the ability to mimic these methods to enhance their own. Some organizations will do better through social media; providers can determine whether or not they need to take more appropriate action to quickly respond to patient requests and improve customer service.

To gather feedback and improve quality, social media interaction can provide doctors and physicians with immediate responses from individuals to help understand common reactions to medications, as well as overall consensus from patients on new techniques in the industry. Using this information that is readily available on social media allows for healthcare organizations to learn from patient reactions and adjust accordingly. By following feedback on these sites, healthcare professionals also have the opportunity to evaluate the possibility of additional services in the industry.

#3: Train Medical Personnel

Some healthcare organizations have begun to utilize social media channels as part of their training process. During presentations, trainees are encouraged to use certain hash tags on Twitter or join other groups to engage one another to make training processes more enjoyable and interactive.

These training techniques provide trainees a central location to ask questions and quickly receive answers. Social media gives participants the power to provide presenters with immediate feedback on training sessions.

Trainees are not the only people who benefit from this social media technique. Organizations can use training videos and pictures from training sessions to engage audiences and enhance their social media channels by marketing their facilities and exemplifying their innovating training processes.

#4: Live Updates during Procedures

Although somewhat controversial, there has been an increase of doctors and surgeons providing updates from the operating room. Through Twitter and other social media outlets, healthcare professionals have the ability to deliver up–to-date information during procedures to fellow doctors, medical students or simply curious individuals. Some say these updates are a distraction in the operating room, while others argue that it is an innovation and provides educational value that should be embraced.

** Keep that “Dancing Doctor” in mind when discussing the possibility of sharing any medical procedure via social media!

As a marketing approach, organizations create a buzz on social media with these updates, creating excitement and enhancing public awareness of an individual organization to attract patients and medical personnel.

#5: Communicate in Times of Crisis

In times of crisis, the use of social media has increased to provide minute-by-minute information to consumers. Through social media, hospitals and other organizations are able to deliver real-time updates on hospital capacity, operation status, and emergency room access. Having an active social media presence allows healthcare professionals to pass along information shared by organizations such as the Red Cross, and the Centers for Disease Control or communicate with news outlets.

As social media continues to become a valuable asset to healthcare organizations and new methods of use are implemented, the industry requires administrators to set guidelines and procedures for effectively managing these channels. To provide the best customer service and accurate information while adhering to HIPAA regulations, organizations need individuals versed in the healthcare administration.

According to the Pew Institute, the growing popularity of social media in health care can be attributed to two key factors:

1. The wide spread use of social media tools
2. The growing desire for patients, particularly those afflicted by chronic illness, to connect with each other

Coupled with other online resources, social media now largely impacts the way people interact with information—including health-related content. And while most patients continue to prefer face-to-face interaction with their health care providers, online health resources, including social, are now an extremely important supplementary tool in their health journey.

There is a wealth of healthcare information and communication technologies that transform how providers and patients think about access, and act upon, digitally supplied healthcare information. The transformation has an impact upon the clinical encounters, rendering the traditional face-to-face patient encounters as one of many options, and often not the preferred one. Social media facilitates instantaneous information sharing and patients seem to be way ahead of healthcare professionals when using digital technology to access health information. With the easily accessible Internet and the Internet of Things (IoT) now increasing connectivity in the USA and abroad, patients and Healthcare Providers (HCP) are more able than ever before to communicate in ways that will change how patients receive care now and in the future.

It’s no longer a matter of’s all about the HOW...Physicians and hospitals are personally well acquainted with social media and the Internet as a professional resource. The rise of social media in the world has affected many different aspects of our lives. From the way we communicate with others to how we shop, dine, and travel, social media has impacted how efficient and informed we are. Its impact on the health care industry is evident as well. The internet allows people to research symptoms, nearby doctors, and medications and their effects. More and more people are sharing information about health care, including reviews about doctors, their experiences with illness and opinions on different therapies. People can also use social media to ask for advice and search for information on the go, which is an important benefit to many people in the workforce who may not have time to consult a physician face to face.



  1. Rimal RN, Lapinski MK. Why health communication is important in public health. Bull World Health Organ 2009; 87: 247- doi: 10.2471/BLT.08.056713 pmid: 19551226.

  2. WallI, Robinson L. Leftinthedark:theunmetneedforinformationinhumanitarianresponses[policy briefing no.2]. London: BBC World Service Trust; 2008.

  3. Internet world statistics: usage and population statistics [Internet site]. Available from: [accessed on 13 July 2009].

  4. Leithner, A.; Maurer-Ertl, W.; Glehr, M.; Friesenbichler, J.; Leithner, K.; Windhager, R. Wikipedia and osteosarcoma: A trustworthy patients’ information? J. Am. Med. Inform. Assoc. 2010, 17, 373–374.

  5. “Rising Use of Social and Mobile in Healthcare,” The Spark, Dec. 17 2012,

  6. Pictures Provided by Pexels 

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Video: 5 Things Your Specialty Clinic Needs to Know Now

Video: 5 Things Your Specialty Clinic Needs to Know Now | Social Media and Healthcare |

You’ve heard the Latin phrase, “Carpe diem” – or “Seize the day!”

Those three words summarize what I’m advising all specialty clinics to do when it comes to leveraging video to create an effective digital marketing strategy! Here are a few facts that back up my proclamation:

  • Video attracts 2 to 3 times as many monthly visitors to a website and has a 157% increase in organic traffic.
    • Translation: If your specialty clinic used video, it could translate into about 10 or 12 new patients a month vs. one or two (without video marketing).
  • Video equates to higher viewer retention. The information retained in one minute of online video is equal to about 1.8 million written words. (Source: Brainshark)
  • Online video is a powerful marketing tool:
    • 74% of internet users engage on social media.
    • 80% of those internet users are specifically looking for health information, and ...
    • Nearly half are searching for information about a specific doctor or health professional. (Source PewResearch)

I’d like to add one other fact that I’ve personally procured while working with specialty clinics over the last decade:

  • Video is underutilized as a medical marketing tool by a majority of these clients.

The upside? Specialty clinics have a tremendous opportunity to build brand and revenue by leveraging digital marketing and the power of video – today.


  1. Educational videos. Don’t just educate, “explain.” This holds true whether you’re providing a general introduction to your clinic’s services or specialist or talking about a specific service. 
  • Information delivered via video vs. print equates to a much higher retention rate with the majority of consumers.
  • Answering questions up front can help build transparency, which can build credibility and translate into a higher level of comfort with new patients.
  • This type of video can establish your clinic and staff as a trusted authority on the services you offer.

Legato Healthcare Marketing developed the following educational videos with our client, Urology Associates, and posted them on their website and on social media:

While the right-brain side of me gives a nod to the Gold Aster award and Silver Healthcare Advertising Award the videos received, the numbers (i.e., results) are all that matter when it comes to a client’s ROI. And as you can see, the number of people reached was pretty significant:

  • Dewire video: 2,450 people reached; 1.8K views (473 minutes viewed).
  • Butler video: 1,514 people reached; 2.9K views (450 minutes viewed).
  • Womack Video: 307 people reached; (170 minutes viewed). 
  1. Patient testimonial videos. Testimonials of patients’ experiences can help build trust as well as provide information to consumers who are going through the decision-making process. They can:
    • Convey the impact that your clinic, staff or a specific specialist had on their lives and their healthcare journey.
    • Add realism and credibility. Consumers trust their peers more than your marketing department.
    • Showcase others on your staff who played a role in their car

Sheila’s Perspective” shows how a video testimonial can be a powerful and credible way for your specialty clinic to connect with prospective patients. Legato Healthcare Marketing developed the video in partnership with our client Black River Memorial Hospital.

  1. Patient prep videos: Using video to share details about a specific procedure can help reduce patients’ anxiety by answering frequently asked questions. We developed these prep videos for our client, GI Associates. The videos can be played at home (from GI Associates’ website) as well as in the clinic’s exam room, to replace much of the verbal instructions:
  1. Virtual tours: Knowing where to go and what to expect when they get there can help calm new patients’ nerves, which can equate to a better patient experience. Here’s an example of a video we produced for a small rural hospital.
  1. TV ads: Don’t forget that TV ads fall under the category of “video” – and they can be powerful promoters of your specialty clinic. Here’s an example of a TV spot we created for Bone and Joint:

Another famous saying ... “Seeing is believing”

Video is key to incorporate into an effective digital marketing strategy – but it’s just one component. See how Legato Healthcare Marketing worked with Urology Associates to develop a strategy to grow online visibility, create engaging content for patients and build reputation with positive patient reviews.

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iHealthSpot Blog | How the Face of Healthcare Marketing is Changi

iHealthSpot Blog | How the Face of Healthcare Marketing is Changi | Social Media and Healthcare |

Patients today do extensive research online, which means they are more particular about the healthcare services they receive. As they gain more knowledge about these services, they are also increasingly expecting personal engagement – e.g., more transparency and two-way communication – with their healthcare providers. In response, healthcare marketing is becoming more digital.

Here are three digital marketing strategies you should use to improve patient engagement for your healthcare practice:

Search Engine Optimization

Online search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! drive visitors to websites. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website so that it shows up on the first page of an online search for the keywords specific to your specialty. When it comes to online search: if you are on the second page, you don’t exist. And if you don’t exist, patients can’t find you. 

You can leverage hundreds of strategies to help search engines recognize and rank your digital content, including tagging a page with relevant keywords, writing informative page descriptions, and creating strategic HTML titles. The process can be complex and incredibly frustrating if you aren’t familiar with the various ways to make your website rank better for your target audience. However, it’s worth it if you want to grow your healthcare practice, as you want your online content front and center when someone searches for a relevant health topic. Still not sure? Here are The 8 Reasons Why You Need SEO.

Social Media Engagement

Increased patient engagement has been linked to better adherence to medical plans, reduced hospitalization, and higher revenues. However, to effectively engage with your patients, you need to meet them where they spend their time – which is increasingly on social media. Patients trust healthcare providers that engage online. In fact, recent studies have found that more than half of consumers’ decisions to receive treatment at a healthcare facility are strongly influenced by that provider’s social media connections.

A healthy social media presence helps attract patients. In addition, it enables healthcare practitioners to network with their peers, share knowledge, and work together (with the potential of improving patient outcomes). Social media strategies can go beyond simple posts and include participating in discussions, networking, and promoting information about relevant health topics. Learn more about The Role of Social Media in Patient Engagement.

Mobile Responsiveness

Every day, the number of devices and browsers that need to work with your website grows, with millions of users turning to their mobile phones and tablets to interact online. In the U.S., four out of every five Americans own and use a smartphone, and this trend will continue as sales of mobile devices continue to rise. That’s why it’s critical to provide patients with easy access to your information, from any device they want to use, with a responsive website. 

Responsive websites deliver an optimized experience on any type of device, regardless of screen size or resolution. This means your online content will be perfectly displayed for every smartphone, tablet and desktop computer, ensuring your patients have an optimal viewing experience. In addition, responsive sites generate a higher search engine ranking which, as mentioned above, is key to ensuring your website shows up on the first page of an online search. For more details, check out our previous post: What Is Responsive Web Design Anyway?

While these three digital marketing strategies help drive patient engagement, they also offer a big benefit for healthcare providers: marketing measurability. When running any type of digital marketing program – from search engine optimization (SEO) to social media – you always know how many people saw your campaign, visited your website, and contacted you to book an appointment. This provides valuable insight into your marketing Return on Investment (ROI), which helps guide your future business plans and marketing budgets. 


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AI ambulances and robot doctors: China seeks digital salve to ease hospital strain

AI ambulances and robot doctors: China seeks digital salve to ease hospital strain | Social Media and Healthcare |

In the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, an ambulance speeds through traffic on a wave of green lights, helped along by an artificial intelligence (AI) system and big data.

A woman touches a screen on a robot developed by iFlytek at the outpatient hall of People's Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing, China March 16, 2017. Zhao Naiming/ via REUTERS

The system, which involves sending information to a centralized computer linked to the city’s transport networks, is part of a trial by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The Chinese tech giant is hoping to use its cloud and data systems to tackle issues hobbling China’s healthcare system like snarled city traffic, long patient queues and a lack of doctors.

Alibaba’s push into healthcare reflects a wider trend in China, where technology firms are racing to shake up a creaking state-run health sector and take a slice of spending that McKinsey & Co estimates will hit $1 trillion by 2020.

Tencent-backed WeDoctor, which offers online consultations and doctor appointments, raised $500 million in May at a valuation of $5.5 billion. Ping An Good Doctor, a similar platform backed by Ping An Insurance, raised $1.1 billion in an IPO this year.

“The opportunity is growing very fast,” said Min Wanli, the Hangzhou-based chief machine intelligence scientist at Alibaba’s cloud division.

Alibaba is working with a hospital in Shanghai using data to predict patient demand and allocate doctors. In Zhejiang province, the company is working on AI-assisted diagnosis tools to help analyze medical images such as CT scans and MRIs.



“You need to go through very specialized training in order to read these images, but we know that experts are a very scarce resource,” said Min.

Chinese hospitals are increasingly using technology to bridge the gap between urban centers and remote parts of the country where doctors are in short supply. Using document-sharing systems and livestreaming video, specialists can direct more junior medical staff on-site doing patient diagnoses.

DXY, one of China’s biggest online networks of doctors, offers consultations on the WeChat social media platform for patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, with a team of nurses and doctors providing medical advice.

China is pressing to reduce healthcare costs that are soaring as the population ages, putting huge strains on the state insurance system.

At the same time, Beijing has been promising better access to healthcare and improved grass-roots care - despite a lack of family doctors - which has brought technology into the spotlight as a way of maximizing stretched resources.

“Educating doctors is going to take too long,” said Rogier Janssens, Beijing-based general manager of Germany’s Merck KGaA’s biopharma business in China. He added that smartphones could help deliver primary care faster and cheaper.

“There are hundreds of millions of people who still go without care for relatively simple diseases.”

FILE PHOTO: Screens showing traffic data of Hangzhou city are seen during a media tour of City Brain, an AI-powered traffic-management system by Alibaba Cloud, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

China’s healthcare system has long grappled with a shortage of doctors, exacerbated by low wages and a dearth of local clinics and general practitioners. That means patients often crowd into large, specialist hospitals for even minor ailments.

Beijing has been trying to fix the problem, setting targets to increase the number of family doctors across the country.

However, the government has been slow to embrace technology within the healthcare system, held back by the challenge of digitalizing a sprawling, fragmented hospital system still dominated by public hospitals and state-run firms.


The policy winds may be starting to change. Beijing has enacted legislation over the last two years that has included strong support for internet-based basic healthcare services.

Premier Li Keqiang said this year that healthcare tech could “help alleviate the problem of inaccessible and expensive public health services that have long been a big concern”.

Now, Beijing may be about approve the sale of some prescription drugs online, creating a major opportunity for local and global firms, according to companies in the sector.

Janssens of Merck KGaA said the company had “good indications” that policymakers were addressing the issue of pharmaceutical e-commerce “as we speak”.

Li Tiantian, the founder and chairman of DXY, said the health ministry had met with healthcare companies like his own and planned to soon release a policy on “internet hospitals”, which would open up some online sales.

“I think the new policy will be released very soon, potentially in July,” he said.

The policy would allow approved hospitals to consult, prescribe and sell drugs to chronic disease patients online. However, regulatory concerns over safety and pushback from state-run distributors sank a similar plan several years ago.

Li added that Ningxia autonomous region, in north-central China, had already been approving some internet hospital providers on a test basis.

Global drugmakers are taking notice. A move to open up online sales - if approved nationwide - would help shake up a drug market dominated by state-owned distributors and public hospitals, where most medicines are still prescribed and sold.

Merck KGaA, for example, recently announced a tie-up with Alibaba Health focused on systems to help track medicines to avoid counterfeiting, but also on online drug sales and potential direct-to-patient sales online.

FILE PHOTO - A screen displaying Tencent Miying, an AI-powered medical imaging service, is seen next to visitors at the fourth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, December 3, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo


In the United States, technology firms like Amazon, Google and Apple have made pushes into healthcare, with mixed results, often finding sprawling medical markets tougher to crack than entertainment or media.

Technology firms in China also face major obstacles.

One is convincing patients to see doctors online or getting hospitals to spend extra money on high-tech tools that promise efficiency boosts or improvements for patients. And regulators still have concerns about drug sales online.

Doctors and industry insiders also said that technology alone could not solve the issues facing the sector.

“Technology is important but is not enough on its own,” said DXY’s Li, a former doctor. He said the most immediate benefit was creating new channels for simple primary care.

Wang Aihu, a cardiologist at Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, said medical centers were increasingly using online appointment and payment systems, and that he conducted internet consultations for patients in remote regions.


He added that his hospital may eventually have “AI-powered medical imaging systems or robot doctors”, but these could not replace medical staff.

“These promising technologies will help accelerate and improve diagnoses, but will not replace good doctors, who are still needed to verify and correct diagnostic results,” he said.

That hasn’t stopped one hospital in Beijing doing a “man vs machine” standoff this month to detect neurological disorders including brain tumors. A robot developed by the prestigious Tsinghua University and iFlytek, a local firm, has also taken and passed China’s medical exam for doctors.

For most people in China, however, AI ambulances and robot doctors may need to wait a bit longer.

Tony Li, 55, a cancer patient in Shanghai, said he had seen little cutting-edge tech in Chinese hospitals in regular visits over the past few years.

“From what I heard, some of the newest technologies can help doctors identify tumors at earlier stages, and that’s great,” he said. “But the internet has a tendency of exaggerating things, giving us enormous false hope.”

Alibaba Cloud’s Min acknowledged the company was still working to prove the value of its technology, and that many hospital administrators were still suspicious of things like cloud computing.


But, he said, “In China, once a new technology is proven useful then everybody is crazy about it.”

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#Hookahlife: Social media posts spread misleading information on hookah use

#Hookahlife: Social media posts spread misleading information on hookah use | Social Media and Healthcare |

A new study finds that Instagram users using #hookah or #shisha portray hookah use in an overwhelmingly positive manner, despite its serious health risks. Published in Health Education & Behavior, the study authors examined nearly 300 Instagram posts and found that the portrayal and promotion of hookah smoking on social media can normalize its use and pose public health challenges.

Given the recent rise in hookah smoking among youth and college students, a team of researchers from Florida International University, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Miami, the Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies, and the University of Pittsburgh randomly selected 279 posts from 11,517 posts tagged #hookah or #shisha within a four-day period. Out of the reviewed hookah-related posts:

  • 99.6% indicated positive sentiments towards hookah use
  • Only one post (0.4%) mentioned negative health effects associated with hookah use
  • 63.8% were promotional in nature
  • Most posts were associated with nightlife, community, and hookah identity

The authors wrote, "A growing body of evidence suggests that hookah smoking can lead to nicotine dependence and many other known smoking-related illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease."

The researchers also noted that 10% of all posts used the hashtag #HookahAddiction, signaling that nicotine addiction is not perceived as a health risk that would discourage potential users, but instead referred to ironically or as a "badge of honor." The researchers commented that policymakers and others should explore approaches for reducing the number of promotional posts, for example, by creating campaigns to counter-market positive themes presented on social media.

"This study represents an important step in identifying hookah-related themes on Instagram and demonstrates the value in using data from this social platform to complement and extend our understanding of health behaviors," wrote authors Ben Taleb et al. "These findings can inform the design of future tobacco control media campaigns aimed at countering the normalization of hookah use on social media."

The research also suggests that this is a global phenomenon, with a majority of the posts coming from Russia (38.5%), the United States (18.6%), and Germany (10.7%).

Story Source:

Materials provided by SAGENote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Ziyad Ben Taleb, Linnea I. Laestadius, Taghrid Asfar, Brian A. Primack, Wasim Maziak. #Hookahlife: The Rise of Waterpipe Promotion on InstagramHealth Education & Behavior, 2018; 109019811877913 DOI: 10.1177/1090198118779131
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How Google Medical Brain AI Can Improve Healthcare 

Welcome to the #SocialRecap -- a rundown of all the latest highlights in social media & digital marketing news. — In this episode we cover: 1. 00:27
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How Hospitals Can Optimize Digital Marketing Strategy for Mobile

In today’s market, it’s vital that hospitals and healthcare organizations optimize their mobile marketing strategy to reach desired audiences effectively.

Recent studies show that 52% of smartphone users gather health-related information on their smartphones, ranging from information around a specific medical procedure to diet and nutrition best practices.

The question is: How do hospital marketers create a mobile strategy that drives success?

Before diving in, make sure you’ve outlined specifically what you hope to achieve with mobile marketing. Perhaps your goal is to optimize your website for mobile searches, or perhaps it’s to create a mobile app that allows customers to schedule appointments.

Define goals that fit your budget, existing technology and employee skill sets. Once you clearly understand and communicate this goal across your organization, you can start creating and implementing a strategy that appeals to mobile customers.

Here are a few ways to optimize your marketing strategy for mobile.

Evaluate Your Website

A hospital’s website is the center of its digital marketing strategy; the goal of most outreach is to drive customers back to the website. With mobile overtaking desktop as customers’ primary website-viewing platform, it’s more important than ever to optimize your site for mobile design and function.

To engage mobile customers, your website should be mobile-friendly, which means the navigation should be large and easy to use, CTA buttons should be interactive and designed for touch-screen use, and content should work in fluid layouts, since mobile screens vary in size.

Below is an example of a health care website that has properly optimized its layout for mobile. Note how the image, text and buttons are fit to the mobile screen size, and navigation is located in the top right corner.


Additionally, you need to be aware of Google’s mobile-first index, announced in 2016. This index will create and rank search listings based on the mobile version of content, even for desktop searches. If a hospital website has a responsive web design and follows mobile best practices, Google has saidthere generally aren’t specific actions to take. However, a hospital’s digital strategy should reflect this changing search landscape and prioritize the mobile experience.

Another trend to consider is voice search. Twenty percent of mobile Google queries are now voice searches. To optimize for voice search, include strategic keywords into your website content so that voice searches will trigger search engine recognition. You can also create web pages specifically designed to pull up in response to mobile searches, such as FAQ pages or pages including local information.

Utilize Mobile-friendly Outreach

Digital outreach is best when integrated across multiple channels for a consistent customer engagement experience. For mobile users, there are outreach platforms and strategies that will lead to greater engagement and conversion percentages:


E-mail marketing should be mobile-responsive since the majority of customers will open e-mails on mobile devices. Adapt your traditional e-mail marketing strategy to include easily clickable links that drive back to your website, maximize design quality and are succinct with a strong call to action. Additionally, any linked forms and landing pages should be optimized for mobile users.

SMS and MMS Messages

Text messages can be a great addition to your mobile marketing strategy. Once patients opt-in, texts are an efficient way to deliver information and can be made more effective with personalization. For example, text messages are an excellent way to remind patients about upcoming clinical appointments — address them by name, state the physician they will be seeing and when, and include a link to the website.

When sending marketing texts, be clear about the purpose of your text and be concise. Customers are more likely to read short text messages.


Cisco predicts that mobile video traffic will account for 75% of total mobile data traffic by 2020. Video advertisements attract and maintain customers’ attention by effectively sharing critical information about your health care organization, as well as telling engaging stories. Embed videos into e-mails, social media posts and web pages to drive mobile traffic and boost engagement.

Social Media

Social media should be an integral component of your mobile-focused hospital marketing strategy because it’s widely used and customers trust social information. Social media allows hospitals to engage in conversations with customers, share content and boost customers’ awareness of your organization in real time.

Ensure your social media posts contain calls to action to make it easy for customers to engage with your health system.

Leverage Apps

Mobile applications present a major market opportunity in healthcare; 19% of smartphone owners report having at least one health app on their phone, and 26% of consumers start mobile research with a branded app.

In particular, health care apps are a great way to connect with millennial patients, since they prioritize convenience and offer a streamlined way to book appointments, share health data and manage preventive care. Consider partnering with and supporting certain health-related mobile apps. For instance, you can create accounts and engage with customers on popular health care apps like Microsoft HealthVault and PingMD, or develop a proprietary app.

If you choose to create your own mobile health care app, make sure you’ve done your research about target users and have carefully planned out your budget. Prioritize speed, user experience, promotional support and regular updates.

An important piece of mobile optimization is keeping tabs on your KPIs, analytics and conversions to understand what mobile marketing efforts are resonating with your target audiences. Since mobile technology evolves over time, especially pay attention to how key metrics change in response to external factors. Keeping up with changing market factors that affect customer preferences will help ensure your strategy remains successful over time.

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11 SEO Tips for Healthcare Businesses to Increase Leads and Conversio…

Healthcare SEO is a great online marketing method. All medical sites from private practices and hospital sites to medical manufacturers and distributors’ sites…
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What to Look For in an Aesthetic Digital Marketing Agency

What to Look For in an Aesthetic Digital Marketing Agency | Social Media and Healthcare |

arketing is tough! There are so many different tools and solutions out there that it’s easy to get paralysis of analysis. You can try to keep all your marketing “in-house,” but there are many reasons why that approach is not practical.

The best digital marketing agency for your aesthetic practice, whether you’re a plastic surgeon, medical spa, or dermatology clinic, will help your practice navigate through exactly what you need to be successful with generating more visibility, website traffic, and ultimately, leads. If you’re considering partnering with an agency we’ve outlined some tips for finding the right partner, as well as what you should steer clear of.


1) Industry Specialization

Agencies that serve many different industries can never master any.

2) Credentials

Partner with an agency that can overcome Google AdWords' red tape.

3) “Tech Stack”

Work with agencies that have cutting-edge technology.

4) Ownership

Never pay for a website or content that you don't own.

5) Clarity

Avoid agreements with agencies that have vague or undefined deliverables.

6) Measurable Results

Avoid agreements with no tangible goals or KPIs (key performance indicators).

7) Reputation

Seek out agencies that have partnerships with established medical and aesthetic companies.

8) Value

Never overpay by tens of thousands of dollars for a website!

9) Customer Experience

Avoid agencies who take weeks to reply to you and whose customer service consists of a support email address.

10) Company Roadmap

Avoid agencies that are stagnant and never evolve.

As you can see, choosing the right marketing partner is much more than checking boxes and looking for a fancy video ad. Strategically screening your next agency is invaluable if your goal is to generate more leads and improve ROI, all while saving a ton of money and heartache.

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Patient Communications: Why Pharma Leaders Should Think Like Social Marketers 

Patient Communications: Why Pharma Leaders Should Think Like Social Marketers  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Pharma is well-versed in communicating with patients. From simple patient leaflets to full blown patient support programs and nationwide disease awareness campaigns, the industry has been directly serving up health messages to patients since the first days of aspirin marketing.

But there’s a parallel world that’s been going further than serving up health messages to patients. A world that pharma seldom dabbles in – despite there being huge cross over in aims when it comes to making people healthier – the world of social marketing.


By exploring how social marketers think, and why this is different to commercial marketing, pharma can unlock tried-and-tested ways to bring measurable value to their patients. In this article on outcomes-based patient engagement, we give you a short overview of the social marketing basics.

A new approach (for pharma at least)

First up, what is social marketing?

Social marketing is one of those disciplines you may have heard of but don’t quite know what it is. You’re not alone: social marketers often have to grapple with people thinking we ‘do Facebook’ and other social media marketing, for instance.

Social marketing combines marketing theory with social sciences like behavioral economics to systematically plan and develop programs that focus on achieving clearly defined behavioral goals for a social purpose. (Note a social marketing campaign can involve social media, it’s just that we don’t start our thinking with a particular channel in mind.)

The methodology has been successfully delivering regional, national and international public health behavior change campaigns for years, and has built up strong evidence on what works when it comes to influencing target audiences in improving their health and wellbeing.

Think smoking cessation (19% of 18-24 year olds smoke now compared to 26% in 2010[1]); cancer screening rates (an increase from 54.4% to 63.9% of men over 60 participating in a bowel cancer screening programme[2]); and breastfeeding (an increase in the number of women breastfeeding at 6 to 8 weeks in areas of deprivation and historically low breastfeeding rates from 31.7% to 37.9%[3]). All of these successes have involved the use of social marketing methods and campaigns.

Information and awareness aren’t enough

Social marketing understands that information provision alone doesn’t change behavior. People know that they shouldn’t smoke, should drink less, exercise more, complete their prescribed set of drugs and manage their long term medical condition better, but that knowledge doesn’t translate into behavior change.

Social marketing combines learning from marketing theory and social sciences to move beyond information provision to really understand what drives and influences patients behavior and what value or exchange patients require in order to be persuaded to change their behavior.

Often the exchange has nothing to do with the health benefits derived from changing a particular behavior and more to do with another more personal benefit valued by the target audience.

For example, research carried out by the NSMC with Pakistani mothers in Buckinghamshire in the UK highlighted that their motivation for taking exercise wasn’t about being healthier but more to do with being a better role model for their daughters. This insight was used on campaign materials and with local service providers to provide culturally sensitive activity opportunities for groups of Pakistani women.  

Yet how often is this type of approach considered for patient-facing communications in pharma? Taking a leaf out of the social marketing playbook, pharma could be doing a lot more to explore and leverage the behavioral influences behind medication adherence to better target specific behaviors and audiences, for instance.

Evaluation is key

This focus on behavior change also requires a different evaluation model, with campaign metrics, such as website views, downloads and opportunities to see being only part of the evaluation framework.

Social marketing uses these metrics, but goes further to evaluate the actual behavior change achieved by the targeted audience and the impact the behaviour change has had on the health challenge being addressed.

The Buckinghamshire project not only measured how many Pakistani women were reached by the campaign but also how often they participated in one of the promoted activities; whether they maintained their level of activity after 6 months; and the impact it had after 6 months on their physical and mental wellbeing.

This type of thinking is vital if pharma is to truly deliver on the outcomes-driven model of healthcare. No longer will ‘awareness’ – measured through clicks and message recall – be enough for a public-facing information campaign, for example. Measuring the effect on specific behaviors and the impact of that change is the route to truly demonstrating value, whether that’s increasing uptake of a specific ‘healthy’ behavior or something more subtle such as completing a course of medication.

Bringing outcome to the fore

In the age of patient centricity, there’s an opportunity for the pharmacuetical industry to look to the social marketing approach taken by their public health counterparts to create effective patient value and behavior change.

Yes, the message will always be important. But even more important, what’s the outcome you’re hoping to achieve with your campaign and how can you make it as easy as possible for your audience?

Once you develop an outcomes-first mindset, you are already halfway to thinking like a social marketer.

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Don’t Let HIPAA Scare You Away From Social Media

Don’t Let HIPAA Scare You Away From Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Getting your patients involved in your practice’s social media efforts can do incredible things for your business’s growth and culture. Train your team on a few simple guidelines, and you can be sharing photos and videos from your practice worry-free and in total compliance with HIPAA.

It’s not as complicated as you think.

As more and more practices in all areas of healthcare become interested in social media marketing, concerns about HIPAA inevitably come up. Of course, in all social media marketing efforts that involve patients, patient comfort and privacy come first.

But as you work to make your social media activities fun and engaging, you’ll find that patients WANT to participate and share their experience at your practice!

Here’s an important point from prominent healthcare attorney, HIPAA expert and blogger David Harlow on the topic:

“People say, ‘I can’t do this, or I can’t do that because of HIPAA…’ and those who just don’t want to do things blame the law. We forget that the rules are there to protect patients, not to create barriers... It’s possible to work within the guidelines... If a patient consents, that’s up to the patient.”


Five HIPAA and Social Media General Compliance Action Items

Here are five general HIPAA and social media compliance action items that may help your practice.

  1. HIPAA regulations are nothing new — they’ve been in effect for over 20 years now — long before the rise of social media. If your practice has existing HIPAA compliance problems, start by fixing them! A social media strategy is much easier to implement when your practice already has a strong foundation in HIPAA compliance.
  2. Put a simple social media policy in place for your team, then train them. Consult with your practice attorney to create a policy that fits your practice’s needs.
  3. Never use social media to practice medicine online. You don’t need to, and that isn’t social media’spurpose. Always take those kinds of conversations offline.
  4. Consider designating specific places in your practice for taking photos with your patients.For example, find places where the lighting is good and where there’s nothing in the background of photos that may violate someone’s privacy.
  5. Use a consent form. In general, a consent form explains these items: 1) what the patient is specifically authorizing, 2) the purpose of the authorization, 3) the ability to revoke the authorization, 4) an expiration date, 5) the opportunity to receive a copy, if desired, and 6) who, specifically, the patient is giving authorization to. Consult with your practice attorney to create a consent form that fits your practice’s needs.

When it comes to using social media to better serve your patients and to help grow your practice, HIPAA compliance doesn’t need to be difficult. With a tiny bit of team training, it only takes a few seconds to get consent to share a photo or video that includes a patient.

You’ll find that you can be regularly sharing posts that include patients to build your brand, strengthen relationships and help new patients find you.

To learn more about creating a great online presence, download our free checklist, "11 Tips to Create the Perfect Social Media Post."

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The Fight for Patient Privacy Under Big Data Analytics

The Fight for Patient Privacy Under Big Data Analytics | Social Media and Healthcare |

A viewpoint review published in JAMAexamined the adequacy of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the “big data” era of MyHealthEData and similar electronic record systems.   


Introduced by the Trump administration in March 2018, the MyHealthEData initiative seeks to broaden patient access to electronic health records and insurance claims information. MyHealthEData and similar electronic systems allow patients to share health information at their discretion, an approach which may enable individuals to identify optimal treatment plans and network with health services. However, the digital sharing of health-related information raises new privacy concerns, not the least of which is the prospect of “invasive marketing” and “discriminatory practices that evade…law.” In the present day, the authors assert, HIPAA-protected data owns a “diminishing share” of health information stored electronically, and privacy regulations should be amended accordingly.


The HIPAA Privacy Rule generally requires written patient authorization for the disclosure of protected health information. Researchers may obtain de-identified data without patient consent only with the approval of a privacy board or institutional review board. This privacy rule has curtained inappropriate access in the past, but modern advances in computation and the growing volume of sensitive data generated outside healthcare settings pose new challenges, the authors say. HIPAA does not cover data produced by noncovered entities or information shared by patients (eg, through social media), and the expanding scope of these influences represents a threat to confidentiality.

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Best Practices When Implementing Social Media Marketing for Your Medical practice

Today just like any other industry, the healthcare sector is also using social media as a healthcare digital marketing platform to engage with potential patien…
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Healthcare Providers, Patients & Social Media

Healthcare Providers, Patients & Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social Media, Healthcare Providers, 

Social media networks are an important method of mass digital communication. Celebrities, politicians and companies have been forced to learn how to use these new channels of communication. Social media provides a direct way to message patients as well as have them engage with their healthcare providers. Medical practitioners have seen this trend developing and are starting to use social media networks as another way to engage with both current and potential patients. The growing importance of social media in the doctor-patient relationship displays the communication challenges facing physicians and other healthcare providers as they meet the needs and expectations of their patients.

To put these new forms of online communication in perspective, people who directly use social media to communicate with their healthcare provider is only a small percentage of the total number of Americans who use social media. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults finds that the use of social media networks is defined by a mix of long-standing as well as newly emerging trends. According to the survey, 88 percent of U.S. adults (ages 18 to 29) use some form of social media network. The amount of usage drops as the age of adults increases, falling to 78 percent among adults who are 30 to 49 years old. This trend continues with age, with 64 percent of adults between the ages of 50 to 64 and 37 percent among those 65 years and older using social media platforms.

Facebook and YouTube (Google/Alphabet) are still the most popular social media platforms, with a majority of U.S. adults routinely using each of these sites. Simultaneously, younger Americans stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. Some 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and a sizeable majority of these users (71%) visit the platform multiple times per day. Similarly, 71% of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and close to half (45%) are Twitter users. In many instances, people are accessing social media throughout the day. Seventy-four percent of Facebook users, 63 percent of Snapchat users and 60 percent of Instagram users visit those sites one or more times per day. These groups are not exclusive, with many people using multiple social media platforms which creates a sizable overlap between the users of different online services. For example, the survey results showed that 87 percent of people who use Facebook also use YouTube, and 90 percent of people with a LinkedIn account also use Facebook. As with overall use, the average number of social media platforms used was highest among adults 18 to 29 (four), decreasing to three platforms among adults 30 to 49, two among those 50 to 64, and one among those 65 and older.

The increasing use of social media and other online channels is not only occurring among patients. According to the Southern Medical Association, roughly 88 percent of physicians and other healthcare providers use social media as well as the internet to research medical devices, pharmaceutical information, and biotech data. Much like professionals in other fields, doctors are using social media networks as a tool to reach out to other specialists. For example, they can explore the social media pages of pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers. Healthcare professionals may even follow the blogs and news update of other practitioners to learn more about their experiences. More professional online networking and social media channels like ZocDocor LinkedIn provide access to online communities and enable users to create CV-like profiles that showcase qualifications, skills and achievements. These specific social media channels allow users to search for members with expertise in many occupational fields, as well as create networks and groups that encourage discussion and collaboration among fellow professionals.

Two popular social media networks that are increasingly used as a messaging/email service are Facebook and Twitter. Here is a brief summary of these social media networks:

Facebook has the largest user base of any social media platform, with roughly 2 billion active monthly users worldwide. The popular social media network was launched on February 4, 2004. Since this time, it has grown in size and dominance. Facebook is centered predominantly on text-based interactions, with the ability to embed photos, links, and videos. This social media network also has a dedicated platform for many industries and fields that use custom analytical tools that make it easier to create paid advertisements. Facebook has the largest user base of any social media platform, so it is used by a diverse group of people. Typically, for medical practices and healthcare providers, Facebook’s content is directed toward patient advocacy and patient engagement.

Twitter is centered on text-based interactions between users called tweets. As of April 2017, Twitter had 328 million active monthly users, with more than 1 billion unique visits to websites embedded within tweets (messages). Originally, tweets were composed of no more than 140 characters, but on November 7, 2017, the limit was doubled to 280 characters. Tweeting on this platform provides a brief but direct communication to all followers of a user. Other users can stumble upon tweets when they search for specific hashtags. With its large user base and text-centered format, discussions on Twitter can include comments and responses to individual tweets on a specific topic. Apart from text-based capabilities, users are also able to embed media such as links, pictures, and videos within tweets. The use of media has become more prevalent, and many users now add images or videos to supplement text-based tweets.

The various social media platforms have inherent advantages and disadvantages. However, the ways in which patients and healthcare providers interact has forever changed. Communication channels that patients now use include phone, e-mail, a social media platform and/or a healthcare-specific web portal. Patients who are under 30 are more comfortable using text or e-mail to contact their healthcare providers. Similarly, this age cohort of patients is more comfortable researching personal health information through online resources. Older patients are willing to use newer communication channels like online portals for communication purposes, but still prefer to use more traditional methods of communication like the telephone. Over time, older patients will likely adopt the style of communication that younger patients use, emailing, social media and texting. Naturally, measures should be taken to ensure the protection of patient privacy when using social media to communicate with patients.

For additional questions or comments please contact us. We will explore this topic in future articles as social media technology increasingly becomes embedded in people’s everyday activities. Advanced Billing & Consulting Services is a full-service medical billing company. Our services range from credentialing and digital marketing to HCBS Waiver billing and workforce management tools.

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Using Social Media to Market Your Medical Products 

Using Social Media to Market Your Medical Products  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is a powerful marketing tool that every type of business can benefit from using. Whether you’re using Instagram to sell or just using it as a way to advertise, getting your business on social media seems to be a necessity these days. While every business can benefit from it, not all advertising and marketing methods will be as effective for one type as they will for another. For example, marketing medical products on social media is a lot different than marketing clothing and may require a unique approach.

Rather than publishing your favorite clothing-related memes among posts about your latest arrivals, when you use social media to market your medical products, you have to do things differently. Your tone will generally need to be more serious, and your approach will need to be more formal in some cases; however, you can use it to build trust, help your products stand out, and educate your followers, making it an important tool to use.

If you’re just getting started or are ready to revamp your social media pages, here are a few tips to help you use social media to market your medical products right:

Get On The Right Platform

Different platforms are designed for and used by different demographics. LinkedIn, for example, is not the place to post personal photos and information about your vacation. Facebook and Instagram, on the other hand, are full of people who love seeing those types of things. So, which social media platforms are best for medical products?

Facebook, being a general platform that covers everything from musicians to food manufacturers, is a platform that your business needs to be on. It’s free to use, it helps you easily connect with your followers, and it enables you to target new customers through ads with niche demographic options.

In some cases, Pinterest is also a social media platform that your business should be on. If your product is both beauty and medicine related, then it’s a great place to advertise and educate. Posting on Pinterest can help you pick up new customers and educate those who may not know the truth about your product and the specific conditions that it helps.

There are also several niche social media sites that are designed specifically for healthcare providers; however, they may be a great option for you and your business as well. Whether you advertise or maintain a profile to interact with providers who offer your products to their patients, it’s important to be on the networks that your target audience is on too.

Let It Help You With Market Research

When you run a business, it’s important to conduct market research. Not only when you’re first launching, but throughout the life of your business as well. The more information you can gather about what your target audience wants and what feedback they’re giving about your product, the better. Social media is a great way to gather that info and use it in your market research, helping you improve your product and make it better for your clients.

Even if they aren’t following your brand’s page(s), people will say stuff about your business that you can monitor and watch, then use to help you make the changes you need to or to know what you’re doing right so that you can continue to focus on that area.

Use It To Educate

One of the biggest challenges today is properly educating clients on your products. Not only do you have to educate them about the benefits and proper use of your product, but sometimes you may have to educate them on the dangers and misinformation out there about other products that are similar to yours. Luckily, social media is a quick and easy way to start getting the word out about your products and educating your clients and potential clients properly. In doing so, you will build up trust and authority in the space and establish yourself as a resource for those looking into your product and products like yours.

It’s important to remember, though, that not all of your clients are familiar with the jargon used in your industry or the technical terms and explanations. On top of that, people reading online don’t typically want to read long, detailed explanations, so keeping it short, understandable, but informational is important. If you want some examples of brands using education to engage their audience, check this out.

Final Thoughts

Social media is a powerful tool that can be used by businesses in many ways. From connecting with clients to educating them, or using it as a way to offer customer service, every business should be on the social media platforms where their target audiences are and take full advantage of the benefits social media has to offer.

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Strategic and Altruistic Reasons for Physician Social Media Engagement 

Strategic and Altruistic Reasons for Physician Social Media Engagement  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Our Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN) medical director, Dr. Farris Timimi, has succinctly described what is perhaps the most tangible and practical reason for physicians to become involved in social media: protecting their online reputation.

In remarks recorded for our recent Social Media Residency in Rochester, Minn., he also highlighted the broad opportunities for physicians to apply these tools productively and strategically in clinical practice, education, and research:

Residency participants also heard a testimonial from Daniel Cabrera, M.D., an Emergency Medicine physician at Mayo Clinic, describing both the moral imperative for physician involvement and his journey of exploration that enabled him to see the benefits, including disseminating knowledge and personal learning. Here's the full version:

Social Media Residency is our in-depth, full-day course for those interested in strategic social media application in health care. We host it once a year on each of our Mayo Clinic campuses and occasionally collaborate with MCSMN member organizations to hold it at their facilities, such as this one we held in March at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis.

The next scheduled Residency is Nov. 13, 2018 at our Mayo Clinic campus in Jacksonville, Fla., the day before our 2018 MCSMN Annual Conference. We're also offering Residency Dec. 11 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

What benefits of physician involvement in social media have you seen?

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Healthcare Marketing in India: A growing Industry

Healthcare Marketing in India: A growing Industry | Social Media and Healthcare |

India is a witness to a change. There is an accelerated growth of healthcare industry with sprouting of hospitals, at a pace which, is, entirely difficult to fathom. The healthcare market is seeing both private as well as foreign investments as the Indian health care market is expected to grow by a rate of 15 percent in the coming 5 years. However the challenges faced by both the new or old hospital sectors are Healthcare marketing.


More stress is laid out on the preference of service receiver as the ultimate goal is the satisfaction of the receiver who will in turn vouch for marketing by individual’s experience. Earlier, instead of value treatment the receivers were provided with volume treatment where stress was  on quantity of patients being treated irrespective of the quality of care and treatment being provided to them. Thus, health care marketing incorporates various parameters that are specifically designed to acquire the right patients and form a long lasting relationship throughout the individual’s patient phase. As a healthcare professional it’s important to generate high revenue keeping business objective in mind but not at the cost of devaluing the integrity of healthcare industry. Thus in today’s time it is primarily consumer driven approach like most other industries. It is important for a healthcare organization to build a unique identity to solidify their position in the market so as to have a distinctive identity compared to the competition. The challenging landscape of healthcare is in need of innovative strategies to create solutions that offer personalized value based healthcare experiences for patients and care providers. At the same time when the world lies on technology and social media it is imperative that such avenues be  explored for increasing the visibility in the market by not only having a personalized website and domain but also by being engaged in health related social media activities.

Qualities of a good healthcare marketing professional

It is important for a healthcare marketing professional to be able to motivate the team, build business relationships and conduct marketing activities and maintain high product knowledge of company and competitors along with strong leadership skills to achieve the targets.

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Top 3 Social Media Mistakes Healthcare Businesses Make - Angela Hemans Interview (3 Of 3)

Top 3 Social Media Mistakes Healthcare Businesses Make - Angela Hemans Interview (3 Of 3) | Social Media and Healthcare |
Find out why a short-term social media strategy will always fail. Learn how even a 1-person marketing team can build a strong network. Angela Hemans joins me for a 3-part interview on using social media to promote businesses in the healthcare space, including healthcare IT companies, as well as healthcare organizations. Angela is CEO of Hemans Marketing Media and founder of Women United In Business Mastermind Facebook Group. She helps healthcare, Tech, and Nonprofits build influence, make an impact, and increase leads leveraging social media and digital technology. Presented by lead generation marketing expert Jennifer Michelle. For more information, visit Follow the #HCLeadGen hashtag for new interviews and tips!
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5 Forecasts of Healthcare Marketing —

5 Forecasts of Healthcare Marketing — | Social Media and Healthcare |

The healthcare market is innovating like crazy. We are in a time where consumers are getting more and more critical of their healthcare providers. Your digital presence relies on seamless design, customer-centric experience with your brand, and integrating the needs of your customers today with the demands of tomorrow. The following predictions will help you rise to these demands.

1. Consumerism will become the Central Pillar of Governance.

Businesses are integrating marketing strategy with consumer experience to create a unified brand experience. These systems are vital for growing system revenue and strengthening internal CRM.

2. Digital Engagement Spending will Double.

Healthcare Businesses are getting hip to technology. Consumers are online and on mobile devices. Healthcare Businesses need to marshal every available resource to reach them. 

Millennials may be phone-obsessed, but those born after 1995 — so-called Generation Z — spend twice as much time on their phones as millennials, and they are twice as likely to make purchases online. Healthcare marketers and strategists need to capture these future consumers of healthcare.

3. A Big Uptick in Natural Language Processing

For many health systems, much of this digital investment will move toward natural language processing (NLP).

NLP enables organizations to instantly understand and aggregate the voices of their consumers. It algorithmically analyzes patient comments, parsing out commonalities and organizing them by sentiment, demographic or any other factors a marketing team might find useful.

4. Service Recovery Will Speed Up Dramatically

The combination of real-time customer feedback and NLP makes instant intervention much easier. Patient complaints no longer have to wait for human analysis. Instead, algorithms automatically identify opportunities for essential clinical and experiential follow-up.

5. The True Age of Wellness

The brutal truth is that most consumers would rather not become patients at all. For this reason, the $3 trillion–strong (and growing) wellness industry will continue to thrive in 2018.

Given the encroachment of nontraditional providers, health system leaders will be more motivated than ever. They’ll conceive new ways to participate in wellness,” and execution will fall to those in marketing and consumer experience.

At first, these may seem like intimidating issues to manage. But it’s important to remember that they’re all facets of the same issue: a transformational shift in consumer preferences.

This shift means that solid marketing strategy and execution have never been so important. The formula for success remains the same: the right engagement, with the right consumers, at the right time. Marketers that achieve this formula will have healthier communities, healthier bottom lines and a more defensible position in tomorrow’s healthcare market.

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How Digital Marketing Can Improve the Results of Healthcare Ad Campaigns

How Digital Marketing Can Improve the Results of Healthcare Ad Campaigns | Social Media and Healthcare |

While digital marketing has become a mainstay in many different industries, healthcare has been hesitant to adopt digital strategies. But now that more and more medical professionals are seeing the advantages of digital healthcare marketing, many see that it’s high time to embrace a more digital direction. To show healthcare marketers the value of diving into digital marketing, treated them to these nine key reasons.

1. Reduces Cost per Patient Acquisition (CPA)
Did you know that digital outreach can slash overall costs by as much as 50%, down to $149 per patient? Compare this to the cost of TV media, which averages $348 per patient. In addition, digital marketing consistently reduces total marketing spend and increases ROI in practically every industry.

2. Targets Patients with Certain Conditions
Digital marketing lets physicians target patients in a variety of ways, including by their condition, gender, age, and zip code. And BIA Kelsey research shows that 97% of consumers use the Internet for local shopping. By optimizing search terms in real time, physicians can yield better results and ROI.

3. It’s Modern Medicine
According to McKinsey research, 75% of people want to use digital healthcare services. With patients spending more time online and using mobile resources on a daily basis, digital is the modern way for physicians to practice medicine.

4. Brings Better Decisions with Better Data
While traditional marketing methods tend to be hard to track, digital strategies are rather easy to monitor and measure, thanks to a wealth of data-driven technologies. This data allows physicians to make more effective and efficient marketing decisions.

5. Helps Brands Stand Out in Search Engines
Marketing Land reports that around 20% of Google searches are health related and more than 70% of these searches result in a first-page click. But ensuring that your brand appears on the first page demands savvy SEO strategies and well-placed paid advertising campaigns targeted to your audience.

6. Allows for Personalized Marketing Messages
Digital marketing allows for personally targeting people, rather than sending a general message to the mass media audience. This lets physicians target prospective patients with just the right message, in the right context, at the right time.

7. Improves Patient Retention
Having a digital presence makes it faster and easier for patients to locate and reach a physician’s website, digital patient portals, and important information. Patients appreciate this convenience when taking control of their healthcare. In addition, patients also value a physician’s social media presence. In fact, PwC research showed that 41% of patients said that social media engagement will determine their choice of physician and medical treatment facility.

8. Increases Patient Referrals
More and more physicians are finding that digital marketing strategies help increase their number of prospective patients, as well as lower the cost of connecting and engaging with them. Plus, digital options make it easy for patients to access and engage physicians, which increases their satisfaction and frequency of referral.

9. Enhances the Patient Experience
Along with easing and expediting patient access, digital marketing improves the patient experience at every step and stage of their journey. Digital tracking systems make it simple to send regular appointment reminders, as well as respond to patient needs with relevant blog articles, and enhance their overall experience with patient satisfaction surveys.

By using digital healthcare marketing strategies, physicians can treat both their patients and their practice to a superior level of care.

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How Social Media Is Providing A Holistic Approach To The Wellness And Health Industry

How Social Media Is Providing A Holistic Approach To The Wellness And Health Industry | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media technology isn’t just a frivolous, personal part of life as it has become an important component of health and wellness. Providing a powerful resource for doctors, patients, and people of all kinds to get healthy and stay informed about medicines, social media has changed the approach towards health.

Social media is an opportunity to have a fun, informal, useful conversation with your ideal client.  It’s not about pitching your products and services.  Social media is about building community and sharing useful information, tips, resources, links as well as answering questions and letting your readers get to know your business. 

Role in health and wellness

The role of social media in health and wellness sector is no more just high-tech. At its core, social media is all about sharing information. The word-of-mouth element of social media is making people start sharing articles and reports on health topics to which others may be unaware of. What’s more… these articles can be used as springboards for discussions in comments sections, engaging them in conversations about a healthy lifestyle.

Exercise and a healthy diet has become essential for keeping the body in good shape and less prone to ailments. Therefore, social media and games are collaborating to get people to engage in healthy living in various innovative ways. For example, a system called GymPact uses mobile technology to let users “check in” at the gym to fulfill accountability measures. Failure to meet these expectations costs the user money, which is then used to reward those who meet their goals. The application takes the concept of an accountability community, using social media to automate and expand.

Patient Interaction

Doctors are using social media tools to stay in touch with their patients, tracking their health, it can be something as sending Facebook calendar reminders for the next appointment to something more high-tech. Healthcare professionals are looking into career paths in healthcare informatics, which deals with the collection, transmission, and storage of medical data to improve the way clinics operate and the speed of accurate, thorough care.

Professional network

Doctors used to value their good referral networks until social media put that practice into overdrive. Social media has provided them with an opportunity to expand their networks from local to a global system, sharing and getting expert consultations from anywhere in the world. The speed of information sharing by digital technologies is helping healthcare professionals to have a better communication.

Negative Impact

Social media makes it tempting to be unproductive. It can lead to distraction which further leads to missing out on other important things, such as exercise. Our brains need to relax and recover, and social media doesn’t help with that.

Positive Impact

Social media could be used to spread happiness. Posting happy, encouraging, and inspirational posts may lead others to do the same. Another positive impact could be the ability to help identify certain mental illness like anhedonia which is the inability to enjoy normally enjoyable activities.

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Crawl Before You Walk, Walk Before You Run: Get Your SEO Fundamentals in Order

Crawl Before You Walk, Walk Before You Run: Get Your SEO Fundamentals in Order | Social Media and Healthcare |

Ranking high on search engine results pages (SERP) is probably the most important endeavor for any healthcare marketing department. After all, 60 to 70 percent of your potential customers (patients) search Google for providers. It is imperative that the bulk of your resources — infrastructure and marketing spend — are devoted to capturing that potential market.

While every healthcare marketer and website publisher has best intentions for improving their search engine optimization (SEO), in reality, we’ve seen a different picture of SEO readiness. We work with dozens of healthcare clients — hospitals, health systems, practices, and payers — and only the smallest fraction of them understand what it takes to excel at SEO. In all fairness, SEO seems seductively simple: You want to maximize the ranking of your content to the broadest level of search. While the concept is simple, the execution is where site publishers consistently fail.

To improve your ranking, you need to become a master at the fundamentals of SEO. As a result, your site will appeal to humans (relevant content that matches query intent) and bots (flawless technical implementation), and Google will reward your proficiency with higher rankings. Repeated over time, this continuous optimization process becomes a virtuous circle and your hard effort pays off in top positions and high domain authority and trust.

Ideally, you want the circles in the diagram below to converge so that all of your web content ranks high in user queries. But how do you do that? In this article, we’ll begin with the fundamentals of good SEO. Then we’ll look at ways to align content with structure and strategy, and how to establish online reputation and authority. Last, we’ll discuss what’s coming – mobile indexing and voice search – and what you need to know to prepare for these trends.

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Complete Guide to Patient Retention at Your Medical Practice

Complete Guide to Patient Retention at Your Medical Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |

There is a lot of information available about how to attract new patients to your medical practice, but not much thought is given to patient retention. What most medical professionals do not seem to realize is that retaining a patient requires less time and money than acquiring a new one.

Whether you have recently set up your practice or have a successful 20-year career, patient retention will always be critical to your success. As a medical professional, have you ever wondered why patients do not return to some practices? What do patients expect? When some of the patients were asked reasons for their dissatisfaction, this is what they reported:

1. Feeling of being neglected or left out

2. Poor communication or misinformation

3. Feeling rushed

4. Lack of description for tests and procedures

The real issue is: Medical practitioners do not have enough time to ensure patients’ needs are met. As a result, medical practices are always facing situations where patients drop out of treatments before their completion. Here are four main components of patient retention, which if implemented correctly, will help your practice:


1. Educate: Make sure you educate your patients on all the treatments you offer. Create a brochure to leave with your patients and tell them the URL to your website. Always keep your website and printed literature updated. You can play informational videos about your practice and services in your waiting area for your patients to watch.

2. Ask: You can ask your patients about their experience with your practice, and to return to your practice for any further needs. Your patients must know that you value them and the trust they have in you. You can request your loyal patients to recommend your practice to their friends and families.

3. Measure: In case the patient leaves your practice despite all efforts, you must learn the reasons behind this decision. Do not let such incidents go unnoticed or it will hurt your reputation and business. It is critical for you to measure patient satisfaction. However, measuring satisfaction is one thing, but implementing changes based on patient feedback is what will eventually matter.

4. Communicate: Always look for innovative and efficient ways to communicate with your patients while they are at your office. Keep communication lines open at all times. You can use patients’ email ids for sending out satisfaction surveys, monthly newsletters, discount coupons, etc. For a more personalized touch, you can call your patient after a procedure to check if they are recovering well. These gestures will make a pleasing impact on the way a patient perceives your practice. According to published reports, email marketing is the most effective tactic for patient retention, yet most medical practices lack an automated platform for providing the right information to the right patient at the right time.

So, do you have any strategies in place for retaining patients? Not every suggestion or plan that you read online will be tailored for your medical practice. Standard methods such as an active referral system, online visibility, SEO tactics, supportive staff and your commitment will ensure your success at retaining patients. Here are some of the basic, but effective, patient retention strategies to consider:


1. Inform patients about their next appointment: Make sure your patients are told the date and time of their next appointment and encouraged to return. While this may not seem vital, it is one of the most common causes of patients not coming back for further treatment. When your patients come for their first appointment, show them a personalized calendar with a treatment schedule that is tailored just for them. A customized calendar will convince your patients of your commitment and the importance of their next visit. Before they leave your office, your staff should give them a schedule that shows their next appointment date. You must train your employees to emphasize the next appointment when the patients are leaving your office.


2. Make the appointment process easy: Never play hard to get, especially for your patients. If your patients are having a difficult time scheduling an appointment, they will be upset before they even come to your office, or they may choose a competitor over you. Ideally, it should not take more than a couple of minutes for your patients to schedule their appointment on your calendar.

3. Send appointment reminders: Your patients may forget or miss their scheduled appointments. It is important to ensure that they are regularly informed of upcoming appointments to make sure they do not compromise their health. You can consider automating your appointment reminders via emails and texts. In some practices, automated appointment reminders have reduced ‘no-shows’ by more than half.

4. Follow up after the appointment: After the patient leaves your office, make sure to send an email or call them to ensure they are following all the instructions. It is a good idea to show them you are interested in their well-being and recovery. You can also consider keeping patients up-to-date on the progress of their treatment.

5. Gather patient information: Be sure to collect key data points, such as patient’s name, birthday, contact number and email, from every patient. There still are some practices that don’t collect and save this information. This data helps in locking necessary patient retention tools. Using patient contact numbers and email, you can easily automate appointment reminders, important updates, birthday wishes and more.


6. Keep the patients updated: You can send out newsletters carrying practice updates to your patients. In the newsletters, you can also include a call to action to refer someone or schedule an appointment. Newsletters can also be used to remind patients of all of your service lines and treatments. Be sure to include website and social media links.

7. Strong referral system: Your first step should be to look at the people in your practice, as they are your cheerleaders. You can get referrals from patients, staff members and other professionals. To build a strong referral system, consider setting up a team of professionals and loyal patients who will act as your brand ambassadors.


8. Focus on each patient: Be respectful and tolerant while listening to patients’ concerns and myths about their illness. Your patients will only feel connected to you if you are listening to their worries. During an appointment, ask about their lifestyle, habits, sleep patterns, etc. Sometimes patients do not realize what may be affecting their health and how to fix it. As you guide them through the rough spots, they become more confident and encouraged.

9. Send out satisfaction surveys: Sending satisfaction surveys to your patients will help you to see whether or not your treatment is having a positive impact on their well-being. Through these surveys, you patients may express their positive and negative experiences. Such surveys give you the opportunity to re-examine your strategy and change the aspects that aren’t yielding positive results. According to the Medical Group Management Association, nearly 80 percent of “better-performing” practices are using patient satisfaction surveys.

10. Simplify billing process: Simplifying the payment process is another way to increase patient retention. This is because patients will be more likely to come back to your practice if the billing process is transparent and straightforward. You do not have to overhaul the entire process. To begin with, you can ensure bills are written in clear and easy-to-understand language, minimize medical jargon, outline multiple payment options, have easy-to-locate contact information and provide maximum transparency in itemized statements.

11. Gift card promotions: You can increase patient retention by introducing gift card promotions. These initiatives will act as an incentive for your patients to make appointments at your practice. Each month, you should randomly give away a few gift cards to patients who booked appointments with you.

12. Build personal relationships: You should try to develop and maintain positive relationships with your patients. Simple gestures, such as ensuring that your staff is courteous, patients were offered water when they arrived at your practice, go a long way in building a lifelong bond. You should train your employees to walk each patient through their appointment with helpful instructions, preparing for a lab test or checking out.

13. Develop a marketing campaign: Satisfying and retaining patients is a crucial part of a successful marketing program. You can start by contributing to a blog, posting on social media and sending emails to your patients informing them about appointments, general health tips, surveys, industry news, testing results and much more. If the patient is not a regular one at your practice, your social media posts will play a critical role in maintaining a connection.

14. Get your systems up-to-date: It is advisable to invest in the right tools and to run your practice. With the increasing popularity of electronic medical record software, you should have a fully automated system for maintaining customer data, scheduling appointments, sending reminders, improving billing processes and other information management.


15. Promote patient engagement:Patients are important stakeholders in their healthcare and can provide valuable input for improving the quality of your service. Therefore, you must encourage them to make choices about their treatment plans and keep them informed of the latest healthcare options.

16. Be polite: Your staff should be trained to interact politely and professionally with patients. You must take some time to listen to how they answer patients’ questions and if they are courteous enough to help patients. The behavior of your staff will significantly impact your patient retention rate.

17. Educate patients: Educated and informed patients are usually the most satisfied ones. If your patients are happy with the quality of your service, they will return to complete their treatment. Many patients derive satisfaction from learning about their illness. They want you to tell them all you know about their illness and the further course of action.

18. Adopt flexible working hours: To attract more patients to your practice, you may have to make a few adjustments to your work schedule. If you listen to the reasons why your patients miss their follow-up appointments, you will know that the biggest reason is their inability to arrive at your office at the set time for their treatment.


19. Manage your reputation: Reputation marketing produces steady results, whether online or offline. The majority of patients who search online for local physicians are more likely to see a directory review rather than your practice website. Also, most patients who want to come to your office will trust online reviews about your practice more than a referral from a satisfied patient. Therefore, promoting your reputation will make the community see you as a trusted medical practitioner.

20. Be empathetic: This is a very effective way to improve patient retention. Try to put yourself in your patient’s shoes and think like one, from the first contact on the phone until the patient leaves your office after treatment. During this role-playing exercise, be as critical and as observant as possible. Your role playing should cover welcome greetings from your front desk, experiences in the waiting room, interactions in the exam room and billing department.

21. Motivate your staff: The secret behind a winning team is a mix of people working hard toward one common goal. Patient retention has a lot to do with your staff and their attitude. When hiring, pay attention to the best combination of polite, efficient, professional, pleasant and optimistic staff.

22. Provide unmatched customer care: You must strive to go above and beyond to enhance the patient experience. Always use patient’s first name in all communications, take steps to lessen boredom in the waiting room, and train your staff to be warm and friendly – these are small gestures that will boost your patient retention efforts.

23. Tactfully handle upset patients: When you notice an angry patient at your office, try to be calm, polite and empathetic. It might be a good idea to ask how their day is going and if there is you can do to make them feel better. A little sympathy can make someone’s day.

24. Handle negative reviews calmly: Even the best medical practices receive negative feedback. If your practice receives negative feedback, it is best to handle it promptly and professionally. Thank the reviewer for the feedback and address their concerns. Even if you cannot resolve the issue, make them feel heard and apologize for their unpleasant experience at your office.

25. Don’t lose heart: Even if a long-time patient leaves your practice, don’t despair. The first step is to contact the patient and find out the reasons they left. Try to address and resolve their concerns, if possible. However, if the issues are not fixable, thank them for the input, make the suggested changes, and let them know. By maintaining a constant touch, they may eventually come back to you.

Comfort leads to satisfaction, and patient satisfaction leads to retention. Learn how Practice Builders can help your practice improve patient satisfaction and retention. We have the knowledge and expertise you need to take patient retention to the next level. Contact us to learn more about our patient retention strategies.

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Enlisting social media to support those living with terminal breast cancer

Enlisting social media to support those living with terminal breast cancer | Social Media and Healthcare |

“There is a strong public understanding of early breast cancer (EBC) diagnosis and there are lots of resources available," according to Tara Byrne, patient advocate at breast cancer charity Europa Donna Ireland.

"Survival rates have greatly improved for EBC but there is a much slower pace of innovation in metastatic breast cancer (MBC), so the same improvements in survival rates have not been seen,” Byrne says. “The five-year survival rate for MBC is just 25%. which is a devastating prognosis for those diagnosed.  This strengthens the need to urgently close the gaps in both clinical and support services”

“While an MBC diagnosis is terminal, more women are living for longer with MBC and a real challenge for these women is to achieve the best quality of life while managing the disease,” Byrne explains. “MBC still carries a stigma and many women are afraid to talk about it.”

Social media, messaging systems and specialist apps provide unrivalled opportunities to extend support to those living with MBC and help close the gap with the services provided for EBC, Byrne says. “We need to build support networks to help women with MBC cope with the treatment and side effects of their illness while continuing to fulfil their daily role as partner, parent, colleague, friend, and family/community member. “Without the proper support structures in place for both patients and their supporters, MBC can put enormous strain on all close relationships.”


Mutual support online


Digital services have many advantages over conventional support groups. They are available 24/7 and give access to women at a national and international level who will have experienced the same challenges and can share advice and give practical support and encouragement. Byrne points out that 64% of women diagnosed with MBC are under the age of 65, so the digital world is familiar to them.

MBC patients can join a social media page, (originated in Ireland) which has a public face, behind which exists a secret group that is accessible only by invitation. In this private space, all women living with MBC can chat confidentially, share experiences, learn from each other and get the support they need. This protected environment allows the women to gain confidence in an enclosed internet community.

The need for social support when living with MBC is also assisted by a messaging network. Byrne says. “It gives a real sense of inclusion. Messages can be sent at any time on any topic – from the serious to the frivolous. This can be a great help in reducing feelings of low self-worth and loneliness. One woman posted that it was her birthday and got more than fifty messages congratulating her, which gave her a great boost. Knowing that such a volume of support is nearby genuinely helps manage the pain and fear of living with a terminal illness.


Emotional? There’s an app for that


In collaboration with Europa Donna, Pfizer’s app ‘Emotionspace’, can be used to help MBC patients cope with tools that enable them to track their emotional state, set goals and establish routines to help them get through the day and combat tiredness. “Smartphone technology can help manage daily living and also provide valuable data for the patient, their supporters and healthcare professionals,” says Byrne.

Byrne, a marketing professional and patient advocate, was diagnosed with early breast cancer at the age of 35 and made a complete recovery. In search of initial support, she joined a breast cancer support dragon boat racing club, an activity that combines fitness and socialising in more or less equal proportions. But there was a dark side: “Of the core active membership of 50 paddlers, 11 were lost to MBC within four years, the majority of those dying within a really tough 18-month period,” Byrne recalls. “It was then I realised that the MBC group of ladies had a different set of needs.”

This led to involvement with breast cancer charity Europa Donna Ireland, which is an advocacy and support organisation. As a volunteer, Byrne promotes awareness of this terminal disease and is a moderator of the social media platform. “I believe that women with MBC can have an improved quality of life if they get the right support. The accessibility to 24/7 digital tools is proving a crucial support to some of the c. 3,000 women currently living with MBC across Ireland.”

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