Social Media and Healthcare
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Changing the Healthcare Landscape – Social Media Success Stories

Changing the Healthcare Landscape – Social Media Success Stories | Social Media and Healthcare |

According to the Arab Social Media Report, “There are more than 135 million individuals using the Internet in the 22 Arab countries. This is coupled with a mobile penetration rate of around 110% on a regional level; and more than 71 million active users of social networking technologies.”

In the United States alone, 26% of all hospitals are on social media. 31% of healthcare professionals use social media mainly for networking. These are the healthcare entities – clinics, health centres, etc., which began marketing their services to gain advantage against their competitors and provide customer service online.

Social media has become an effective means of reaching people mainly because consumers trust and recognise the brand and the information they provide. A survey recently conducted by Nielsen Media Research indicates “90% of respondents from 18 to 24 years of age said they would trust medical information shared by others on their social media networks. While 60% of social media users said they would trust social media posts and activities by doctors over any other group”.

Creating opportunities for easier interaction, people are inclined to pay attention to health care entities’ activities in social media. According to the survey, the information they find on social media greatly affects how 40% of consumers deal with their health. By far, video content from these heath entities is performing better, as YouTube traffic to hospital sites have showed tremendous increase. Plenty of video hosting channels have doctors and medical practitioners showcasing health tips and helpful information about a particular ailment or disease, and getting real time feedback from interested consumers. An inquiry to the nearest hospital or clinic to their place is just a Facebook comment or a tweet away.


In the Arab region, there have been immense efforts from the healthcare industry to engage consumers and inspire other influencers to reach out on social media. Accounting a large percentage of Internet penetration in the region, a number of healthcare providers, hospitals, and also the government’s health sector in the United Arab Emirates are also actively maintaining their presence online.

Non-profit organization and Nobel Peace Prize winner Doctors Without Borders Middle East have established good following on social media with a total 1,012,652 followers on Facebook, 27.5K followers on Twitter and almost 200 followers on YouTube. Doctors Without Borders channels are a mix of practical health tips, industry-related news and useful information on certain diseases. It makes use of gripping stories, info-graphics and photos depicting the state of healthcare in the Arab region. The organisation aims to increase awareness on key health issues and raise funds for its volunteer works and projects.

Another example of social media put to good use is the Ministry of Health (MOH), the public and private sector health regulatory organization in UAE which has 16,000 followers on Facebook. MOH UAE is more active on Twitter with 97,000 followers. It successfully strings all its e-services, community events, health news and tips on its Facebook page. Government e-services are also further promoted on other channels such as Twitter and YouTube. This move was also followed by a large number of government health regulators in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar to establish their social media presence.

Acknowledging the importance of an ICT driven economy, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has launched the Arab Social Media Award on 15th June 2014. Focusing on its positive employment, the summit provides a platform for innovative ideas to establish a new phase in the evolution of social media by tapping into the capabilities of young people in the development of Arab society.

“The significance of these channels lies in their ability to reach out easily to all members of society through personal devices. It is our duty to help our young people and future generations by building a knowledge platform to protect them from any destructive and negative thoughts that affect their full potential and create constructive paths for Arab societies,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

The Health category of the Arab Social Media Awards “honours the best use of social media in campaigns conducted by individuals, institutions, and healthcare companies to promote health awareness in the Arab community, regarding the most important risks and health issues faced by the region”.

This year’s awardee for Health Category is Jordan-based healthcare directory and e-commerce site, WebTeb. The website aims to provide comprehensive medical information to the Arab community through the Internet. You can find a doctor by specialisation, calculate your calories, body mass index and get some useful information on different kinds of medicinal drugs. Webteb has over three million followers on Facebook, 61,767 Twitter followers and almost 500 followers on YouTube channel. It integrates a Facebook application, the TebChecker. The new symptom checker tool includes extensive information created by and licensed from Harvard Health Publications (Harvard Medical School). The tool helps users understand what their medical symptoms could mean and provides them with the possible causes, diagnoses, and treatments of common conditions through an interactive, step by step guide.


While the Arab region is a diverse market of different cultures, social media channels are mostly written in two languages – Arabic and English.

According to Arab Social Media Report, the limited availability of relevant Arabic content online is one of the key barriers facing Arab Internet users. Findings suggest that “accessibility and connectivity”, “cost” and “lack of content in my language” were the top three challenges facing internet users in the region.

As for online marketers, healthcare marketing isn’t easy as easy as it seems. Healthcare marketers are up against privacy regulations, nursing and support staff shortages, and increasing demand for services. Compared to other industries, healthcare may not be as quick to adopt social media. A valuable tip would be to leverage good examples like Mayo Clinic and PatientMe, who try to cater to all areas of health and provide services and quick responses to inquiries on social media.

Mayo Clinic executed its social media strategy in 2005, utilising social media channels to promote and increase downloads of its podcasts. The clinic posts informative podcasts (along with video and text) on its blogs, which garnered positive response from people. Aside from this, Mayo Clinic has a Facebook fan page, a Twitter account and a YouTube channel with noteworthy number of followers and more than 8,000% increase in downloads of podcast have been recorded since then.

Moreover, patients as well as potential future patients—are all involved in social networks. Studies suggest that time spent on social media sites now accounts for almost 10% of all time people spend browsing the internet. Hospitals can utilise social channels to answer healthcare- or illness-related questions or simply provide medical information. In the same way, physicians and other health practitioners are also spending time online. Social media can be a good mechanism for hospitals and other organisations to share information and best practices between their staff.

Healthcare is continually changing and is always at the top priority for most people. Thus, social media is just one marketing tool for hospitals and healthcare organisations to stay top of mind and relevant for the people.

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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. 

Hupertan's curator insight, September 23, 2015 4:32 PM

The implementation of a communications strategy in social media in healthcare need not stick with the drafting of a check list. There she is!

venisabella's comment, November 4, 2015 10:36 AM
MARGARITA's curator insight, December 31, 2015 5:15 PM

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Social Media is Beneficial to the Healthcare Industry 

Social Media is Beneficial to the Healthcare Industry  | Social Media and Healthcare |

When it comes to being active on social media, all hospitals need to have some sort of social media platform. According to Fierce Healthcare,  57% of consumers said that a hospital’s social media connections would strongly affect his/her decision to receive treatment at that facility.

With the use of social media platforms, such as Facebook, hospitals can connect with patients, families, and communities. Facebook is beneficial to both the consumer and the hospital. For one, the more “likes” that a hospital receives on its Facebook page by running ads that target individuals in the service area can increase the amount healthcare consumers. A hospital’s Facebook page allows for its doctors and healthcare workers to engage with the community at a more personable level, which in turn builds brand loyalty.

To run a successful Facebook page, a hospital should create shareable content that provides general health information. This allows followers to share the hospital’s articles with their friends and potentially lead to more “likes” on the hospital’s page.

Another useful tactic is to share hospital news. Highlight important milestones, like opening a new health center. Use photos to let followers take a look inside the center before visiting. Additionally, share hospital awards, certifications, and videos from local media outlets or information regarding sponsorships or drives. These efforts will help your hospital build a local reputation.

Inform followers of upcoming event dates, such as health screenings, and allow them to register online for these events. This not only reduces operating costs, but also allows the hospital to create a database of email and phone numbers to send out personalized notifications based on consumer interests.

Remember, social media allows consumers to communicate with your hospital, forming a two-way relationship. Social media gives you control by creating targeted ads and using keywords that are specific to your target audience. To limit spending, it is best to preset your budget in order to only pay for online ads when a user clicks on an ad. Learn about your targeted audience through the hospital’s page comments and visitor analytics, and you will be on your way to creating an invaluable healthcare marketing campaign.

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Study Gauges Doctor Judgment On Personal Social Media Accounts

A new study suggests that even doctors are not immune from inappropriate social media posts. The study gauged newly graduated urologists and found tha
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Health And Social Media: Perfect Storm Of Information 

Health And Social Media: Perfect Storm Of Information  | Social Media and Healthcare |

My friend Dr. Adlin Nerissa Bacon Bolaños has tried to review an academic paper to tell us about the correlation between the current use of social media and how (and if) it can be used for sharing useful information about health and healthcare.

This paper is a review article and it provides an overview of the major research challenges with the area of health on social media, I personally call it the power of information and misinformation in social media and the web.

As the authors state, there are almost as many mobile-cellular subscriptions as people on Earth (7 billion), more than three quarters of them are in the developing world. Millions of citizens are searching online health information by the minute and also publishing content about their health. Patients are engaging with other patients in online communities using different types of social media.

Social media use continues to rise, Facebook is the most used social network in the world, followed by YouTube. Curiously, the same social networks are used in extremely different countries. For example, the leading social network in South Korea is YouTube, followed by Facebook. In Nigeria (Africa), Facebook, followed by YouTube and Twitter are the most popular.

The article refers to a new term called Health 2.0, the study “Definition of Health 2.0 and Medicine 2.0: a systematic review” Van De Belt et al. (2010) shows that this is a developing area, and there is not a consensus on its definition. One of the concepts that include Health 2.0 is Apomediation, a term coined by Dr. Gunther Eysenbach, a Health Policy and eHealth professor at the University of Toronto, describes the fact that when a user accesses information on the Internet, he/she cuts out the gatekeepers (like the primary care doctor) and goes directly to the relevant source of information. Cutting the traditional gatekeepers has been a trend that’s rising exponentially around the globe, patients are exposed to an overwhelming wave of information and misinformation that presents a challenge for all practicing physicians, I like to call it Dr. Google.

On the positive side, in the last years, patients have become the main actors of Health 2.0, leading a true revolution in healthcare management. These e-Patients (#ePatients) achieve better health outcomes thanks to being connected and sharing experiences in social networks; previously, their health depended solely on their doctors’ capacity. On the negative side there are many fake articles, webpages and online communities that instead lead patients to a dark road on their health encouraging them to stop taking their medications because theres a hidden cure, for example people living with HIV on antiretrovirals are told to stop their meds because HIV has a cure and doctors are just hiding it to support the pharmaceutical industry, the same applies to cancer.

The paper also mentions anorexia, there are webpages and thousands of videos on YouTube supporting this eating disorder as a lifestyle, girls and specially teenagers follow these in order to have the perfect body that we often see on social media, news, magazines, etc. the article points out that videos promoting this “lifestyle” have more views and followers than videos with real and accurate information.

The same situation applies to vaccines, research has shown the power of these to prevent diseases and save lives but there are still anti-vaccination movements online. Who doesn’t remember the panic that was caused by a fake article linking Autism to the MMR (Mumps, Measles and Rubella) vaccine, they are some mothers that are still reluctant to vaccinate their child. Another example on vaccines is Gardasil, this is a vaccine for use in the prevention of certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), that can cause an estimated 70% of cervical cancers, and are responsible for most HPV-induced anal, vulvar, vaginal and penile cancer cases. The vaccine has to be administered during early teenage years to both females and males but conservative groups in the US have expressed their fears that vaccination with Gardasil might give girls a false sense of security regarding sex and lead to promiscuity.

On the recent Ebola outbreak in western Africa, the paper mentions that panic was spread through social media around the globe because of rumors and misinformation, they mentioned an article that evaluated tweets in the affected African countries and concluded that those with false information were retweeted and liked the most compared to those with real and accurate information. I can add that the media on social media also plays an important role, during this epidemic they decided what went “viral”, for example, the few cases that crossed the African continent and made it into Europe and the US made more headlines than the hundreds of cases in western Africa procuring panic to the entire population around the globe.

Nowadays diseases travel almost as fast as information around the web, caution should be used by both physicians and patients, although traditional gatekeepers are now being cut, there will never be a complete online substitute to your doctor, always consult he or she first or secondly if the web was your first choice. Another piece of advice is getting a 2nd and 3rd or more opinions since the experience of your physician can never be replaced by an online database.


Paper by. Luis Fernández-Luque, PhD1, Teresa Bau, BJ2
1Northern Research Institute, Tromso, Norway; 2Mobile Health Global, Barcelona, Spain

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10 Surprising Social Media Statistics That Will Make You Rethink Your Social Strategy

10 Surprising Social Media Statistics That Will Make You Rethink Your Social Strategy | Social Media and Healthcare |

If you’re managing social media for your business, it might be useful to know about some of the most surprising social media statistics this year. Here are 10 that might make you rethink the way you’re approaching social media.


  • This demographic has grown 79% since 2012.
  • The 45–54 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic on both Facebook and Google+.
  • For Facebook, this group has jumped 46%.
  • For Google+, 56%.

Those are impressive numbers against the prevailing idea that social media is “just for teenagers.” It certainly points to the importance of having a solid social media strategy if these age brackets fit into your target demographic.

Rethink it: Keep older users in mind when using social media, particularly on these three platforms. Our age makes a difference to our taste and interests, so if you’re focusing on younger users with the content you post, you could be missing an important demographic.


Not only does Facebook have millions of users who don’t access it from a desktop or laptop, but mobile use generates 30% of Facebook’s ad revenue as well. This is a 7% increase from the end of 2012 already.

Rethink it: There are probably more users accessing Facebook from mobile devices than you thought. It’s worth considering how your content displays on mobile devices and smaller screens before posting it, particularly if your target market is full of mobile users. Of course, make sure to make sharing to social media from mobile more straightforward.


Did you think TV was the best way to reach the masses? Well if you’re after 18–34 year olds in the U.S., you’ll have more luck reaching them through YouTube. Of course, one video won’t necessarily reach more viewers than a cable network could, but utilizing a platform with such a wide user base makes a lot of sense.

Rethink it: If you’ve been putting off adding video to your strategy, now’s the time to give it a go. You could start small with simple five-minute videos explaining what your company does or introducing your team.



LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, continues to grow every second. From groups to blogs to job listings, this platform is a rich source of information and conversation for professionals who want to connect to others in their industry.

Rethink it: LinkedIn is definitely worth paying attention to. In particular, this is a place where you may want to focus more on new users. Making your group or community a great source of information and a newbie-friendly space can help you to make the most out of the growing userbase.

Make sure you share consistently to your LinkedIn company page and profile by, for example, scheduling your posts.


We all knew social media was popular, but this popular? Apparently it’s the most common thing we do online. So next time you find yourself watching Kitten vs. Watermelon videos on Facebook, you can at least console yourself with the fact that the majority of people online right now are doing something similar.

Social media carries more weight than ever. It’s clearly not a fad, or a phase. It continues to grow as a habit, and new platforms continue to appear and develop.

Rethink it: Putting time and effort into your social media strategy clearly makes sense in light of these stats. If you weren’t already serious about social media, you might want to give it a bit more of your time now.


Although LinkedIn is gathering new users at a fast rate, the number of active users is lower than most of the biggest social networks around. So more people are signing up, but they’re not participating. This means you’re probably not going to have as good a response with participatory content on LinkedIn, like contests or polls, as you might on Facebook or Twitter.

Rethink it: If you’re hoping to get people involved, think about which platforms are best for that. Looking at the latest Twitter statistics and Facebook statistics, these platforms might be a better place for your contest or survey, while passive content like blog posts or slide decks might be just right for your LinkedIn audience.


Only 7% of marketers say they don’t use social media for their business. That means there are lots of people out there getting involved and managing a social media strategy. It’s becoming more common to include social media as part of an overall marketing budget or strategy, as opposed to when it was the outlier that no one wanted to spend time or money on.

Rethink it: If you’re struggling to make your strategy work, or you just want some advice, you don’t have to go it alone. If 93% of marketers are using social media for business, you can probably find someone to give you a hand. Plus, there are lots of blogs, videos and slide decks around to help you out. Be sure to find the right social media management tool for you to stay on top of everything.


It’s pretty clear that mobile is a growing space that we need to pay attention to. And we’ve all heard the cliché of smartphone owners who don’t want to let go of their phones, even for five minutes. Well, apparently that’s not too far from the truth. If 25% of people aged 18–44 can’t remember not having their phone with them, there are probably very few times when they’re not connected to the web in some way.

Rethink it: While you can reach people almost anytime, since they have their smartphones with them almost always, this also means you can interrupt pretty much any part of their lives. Don’t forget that having a phone in your pocket all the time isn’t the same as being available all the time.


Blogging is clearly a big focus for marketers who want to take advantage of social media and content marketing. This is great, because blogging for your business has lots of advantages: you can control your company blog, you can set the tone and use it to market your product, share company news or provide interesting information for your customers. With only 9% of marketing companies hiring bloggers full-time, however, the pressure to produce high-quality content consistently will be a lot higher.

What a lot of people struggle here is how to write the best headlines for your articles, when the best time is to publish posts and lots of other blogging questions that arise when people are starting out.

The other common problem people have is which blogging platform to choose and where to host it. If you decide to go with self hosted solution like WordPress (one of the most popular choices today), you can check this list of top 10 web hosting companies. The list is constantly updated with new hosters and there are very convenient options to quickly find fastest web hosting sites that will serve any website needs.

(Of course, not all marketers work at marketing companies, but the stats are still interesting–how many companies in any industry can afford to hire–or already have–a full-time blogger?)

Rethink it: If you don’t have (or can’t afford) a full-time blogger for your business, be aware that having a content strategy that requires consistently posting on your blog will mean a lot of work for your marketing team and/or other team members in your company to keep up that volume. This can work, it’s just important to realize how big a task it is to run with a full-time content strategy without a full-time content creator.


We’ve seen a lot of news about social media companies and privacy. Facebook itself has been in the news several times over privacy issues, Instagram users recently got in a kerfuffle over changing their terms of service, and the recent NSA news has seen people become more conscious of their privacy online.

But despite these high-profile cases of security-conscious users pushing back against social networks and web services, Velocity Digital reports that 25% of Facebook users don’t even look at their privacy settings.

Rethink it: Assuming that all of your customers are thinking along the same lines could be a big mistake. Especially if you’re basing that on what you’ve heard or read in the tech news. Remember that your customers might have very different priorities than what you expect.

Your social media strategy really comes down to what your goals are, and who your target customers are, but it doesn’t hurt to pay attention to the trends happening across the web. Hopefully these stats will help you to identify trends that will affect your strategy and adjust accordingly.

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Is social media right for pharma?

Is social media right for pharma? | Social Media and Healthcare |

KEY TAKEAWAY: GWI Social examined the very latest figures for social media engagement, social behaviors and trends within the social space.  Among the key findings…filling up spare time is the main reason for using social media among 16-24s, while older groups see these platforms as a way to keep up with friends and the news.  But is social media right for pharma?

Almost every internet user can now be reached via social media – 94% of digital consumers aged 16-64 say they have an account on at least one social platform and 98% have visited/used one within the last month.  So then, is social media a channel for pharma to reach patients?

Pfizer is using Facebook as an ad platform, but are men really going to click on the ad because Viagra now comes in individual dosage envelopes?

Facebook has become a media rich RSS feed with users following interests and participating in social media activism via the share button.  We can easily express outrage by simply sharing content we agree with but as facebook seems to know where we have been on the web and what we have done will “suggested post” health content become too intrusive?

In research, earlier this year, a lot of older facebook users were surprised to have suggested content appear in their facebook feed.  A number of older women said they were offended and shocked that facebook seemed to know what health content they were researching online.

So is social media right for pharma?  In some cases, yes.  At a minimum pharma should be listening to what patients are saying about their product as well as competitors’ products and using the input for content that addresses questions/concerns.

As for advertising on social media there are opportunities, but rather than advertise “single packs” perhaps Pfizer would do better to talk about men’s health as a way to engage the social media audience.

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What are the best ways for physicians to use social media? Tips from Dr. David Geier 

What are the best ways for physicians to use social media? Tips from Dr. David Geier  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Physicians have no shortage of outlets and mediums through which to interact with patients in the age of social media. Harnessing the opportunity and effectively connecting with patients may improve patients' health and more.

David Geier, MD, of Mt. Pleasant, S.C.-based Sports Medicine Specialists of Charleston has become a tremendous resource for patients worldwide seeking medical advice and education.


Dr. Geier is speaking on a panel titled "Social media in high end practices" at the Becker's 15th Annual Spine, Orthopedic and Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference + The Future of Spine, June 22 to 24, 2017 in Chicago. Click here to learn more and register.


Q: What are your tips to other physicians or ASCs looking to make the most of social media?


Dr. David Geier: Try to use social media in ways to help people. Don't use social media as a way solely to promote your practice and convince everybody that they should come see you. Offer value first. Explain a surgery or common injuries of a body part in a certain sport. People will eventually become comfortable with the way you explain information and may choose to come see you if they should need a doctor at some point.


Q: How did your practice initially incorporate the use of social media?


DG: I never really intended to use social media specifically to promote my practice. I started by sharing articles, podcasts and videos to help educate active people about sports and exercise injuries, injury treatments and prevention. I think there is a huge number of people looking for information, even if they've already seen a doctor. I've always believed that there is an important role that physicians can play by explaining medical information online in easy-to-understand language.


Q: What does your practice seek to gain out of social media use?


DG: I try to be a trusted resource for people, not just in my area but all over the world, looking for information on injuries and treatments. Even if they do not choose to see me specifically as a patient, I hope that I can help them in some way get a better understanding of what problem they're dealing with and what they could potentially do about it.



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5 Facebook Live Ideas for Dentists - 

5 Facebook Live Ideas for Dentists -  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Facebook is continually improving its live broadcast feature, making it a simpler, more effective way for anyone to create video content. Try one of these ideas this week — all you need is a phone!

Digital marketing thrives on video content. Studies estimate that video makes up nearly 80 percent of all internet traffic, and 90 percent of consumers say that a company’s video content affects their purchasing decisions.

On social media, video communicates personality, emotion and energy in ways that plain text and photos just can’t match. And as a dentist, that’s valuable for you — the better patients and fans know you, the more likely they are to become new patients, remain patients, or refer their family and friends.

Now, with smartphones and Facebook Live, breaking into video content creation is easier than ever for dental teams. You don’t need expensive equipment, a script or a set. Live video is all about being open and spontaneous, having fun, and interacting with the people who will become advocates for your practice.

Start by opening the Facebook app on your iPhone or Android, and tap the “Live” button on the left side of the status update box:

Then, write a short description of what your broadcast is about, tap “Go Live,” and that’s it! All your fans will be notified that you’ve started a broadcast, and your stream will appear at the top of their feeds. It’s a great way to get top-of-mind awareness for your practice.

So what should your Facebook Live broadcast actually be about? Here are 5 ideas you can use this week:

1. Have a Dental Care Technique Review

We could all use a little refresher from time to time on dental care skills. Have a five-minute live broadcast reviewing the correct way to perform a dental hygiene task, such as flossing or brushing with braces. This is a great way to not only promote good habits but also show your fans how much you care about patient education.

Dr. Nuveen of Smiles Inc. shares some tips on retainer care.


2. Do a Dental Q&A

A week or so before your live broadcast, ask your patients and fans online and in-practice what questions they have about dentistry, oral care, or even about you personally. Then, answer the questions on a live “Ask the Doc” broadcast!

3. Announce an Exclusive Special Offer

Reward your fans for keeping in touch with you by offering a discount or a chance to win a prize if they mention this live broadcast.

4. Take a Practice Tour

Some of our clients’ most successful live videos have been simple tours of their practices. Take the opportunity to quickly introduce some of your team members in the office that day. Show off the unique features of your practice that allow you to provide a patient experience like no other!


5. Demonstrate a Featured Product

While the focus of your social media shouldn’t be sales, occasionally it’s good to introduce your fans to products that you think will improve their lives. Also, demonstrating the latest whitening product or piece of equipment will show how much you value staying on the cutting edge of dentistry!

Of course, any holiday, birthday celebration or conference you go to as a team is a prime candidate for a quick live broadcast. Plus, any live broadcast you do will appear as a video on your practice’s Facebook page afterwards, letting anyone see it who may not have been able to tune in.

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Social media for your dental or medical practice | Web Design for Dentists & Physicians 

Social media for your dental or medical practice | Web Design for Dentists & Physicians  | Social Media and Healthcare |

We recommend that you open and maintain at least three social media accounts for your practice: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. At every opportunity, actively ask your patients to “Like” or “Follow” your social media accounts. With social media, your practice gains visibility not only to those who are connected directly to your social media account, but also to everyone connected to them as well.

Why Do I Need Social Media for My Practice?

There are three main benefits of social media:

Improved Search Engine Rank and Position

Imagine your Facebook account, your Twitter feed, and your YouTube channel are all active and populated, say, once a month with new content. Now, instead of having just your website link show up once in a Google search, your practice may have three or four positions in the search results! In addition, YouTube is not just a social media outlet but also a search engine, so having a YouTube presence will automatically grant you visibility in the video search.

Advertising on Social Media

You can build ads on most social media sites. Facebook advertising in particular is a popular and affordable way to promote dental services to the other Facebook users in and around your dental or medical practice.

Communicating with Your Patients

Imagine your office just gets a last-minute appointment cancellation from a patient. If you have Facebook or Twitter followers, you can give them a quick note to call if they would like to take that opening! Social media is an incredibly efficient way to reach out to your audience, share your blog posts and educate them on health topics, and to announce your last-minute openings, office news and events, and special deals.

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Making Patient Engagement Work: Strategic Insights

Making Patient Engagement Work: Strategic Insights | Social Media and Healthcare |

Last week’s post Patient Experience Data and the Role of Social Media Part 1 discussed the wealth of information about the patient experience that can be found in social media.  Social media interactions are becoming more and more important as patients get involved in the decision making process around their health.

Information exchange is essential to these interactions.  Patient engagement–bringing the patient voice into research, development and through the entire product life cycle–requires transparency.

Pharmaceutical companies are behind the curve on this.  While a 2015 survey of 75 pharmaceutical companies found that 76% have, or are thinking about starting, a patient advocacy program, less than 20% of those that have such programs have staff for it and 39% have a budget of less than $50,000.1

There has to be significant movement from “thinking about” patient engagement programs to establishing and integrating patient engagement in order to obtain and use patient experience data.  The product or brand culture is deeply entrenched in pharma but the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act might speed the change from a product-driven to a patient-driven approach.


And a successful patient engagement strategy can have far-reaching benefits.  Patient experience data can positively influence the development pipeline, clinical success and the way the patients perceive the product.

During the development stage, patients and caregivers can provide an all-encompassing grasp of the patient journey – what it is like to live with and through the disease.  Finding out the unmet needs of the people affected by illness provides inspiration and ideas to scientists, researchers and others across the organization.

During launch, feedback from patients can provide information on the challenges in using the medication and in side effects.  Involving patients’ perspective can help in development of patient outcome measures.

Relationships with patients can help in establishing eligibility criteria for clinical trials and have the potential to improve recruitment into clinical trials.  And administrators and Board members can learn where investment will benefit patients’ experience.

These benefits are significant.  Moreover, learning from patients’ experiences can provide insights for improving those experiences.

True Interaction

But the relationship needs to go both ways and pharma companies should offer patients transparency in costs and pricing – a major concern for patients that can negatively impact benefits from treatment, outcome measures and patient experience data.

If patients are not taking their medications consistently because they are too expensive to buy, the losses for the industry are far beyond financial.  Those medications lose their potency and the work and energy that it took to generate them is lost.

Discussing an array of topics with patients, including successes and failures in drug development can increase goodwill.  Building trust can mean better patient experience data.  Yet these relationships should not be considered a function of public relations or marketing.  The relationships should be about information exchange.  Learning to “speak patient” will help companies communicate better.  To learn more about speaking “patient,” download our new e-book “How Does Pharma Learn to Speak “Patient”?

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The need for pharmacists to draw boundaries on social media

The need for pharmacists to draw boundaries on social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is omnipresent today. Be it in private life or at work, every action and decision can be instantly projected to millions of people worldwide. As with all technological advancements, the omnipresence of social media is potentially a double-edged sword.

In the age where social media is powerful enough to influence the presidency candidature of a country, how should pharmacists draw the line that separates professionalism with the freedom to express their thoughts?

How well connected are Malaysians?

According to the 2016 report by the Malaysian Digital Association, close to 70% of Malaysians have access to the internet. Within the "online" population, almost all of them use social media as one of their communication tools. On average, Malaysians spend 5.1 hours a day on the internet, where 2.8 hours of the time is spent on social networks.

To put this into perspective, collectively Malaysians spend a staggering 21 billion hours on social media annually. Unsurprisingly, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals are increasing their reliance on digital platforms to communicate and interact with their patients and peers.

Social media and pharmacy

The utilisation of social media to exchange information is a contemporary method that presents unique challenges, especially to pharmacists in upholding professional conducts that are deemed appropriate.

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia looked at how pharmacists use social media in their daily practice. The team reported that the respondents, mostly community pharmacists, limited their online interactions on social media.

Although most of the pharmacies own a Facebook page, the pharmacist owners did not “friend” consumers on their page in order to maintain a clear “boundary between professional and personal relationship”. Nonetheless, the respondents also saw the need to correct misleading information that was widely circulated on social media. Some innovative pharmacists used short YouTube videos to augment patient counselling in the pharmacy.

The grey areas

Concerns over patients’ privacy and confidentiality should take precedence when exploring social media as an alternative communication channel. There is still yet a suitable protection mechanism that can ensure information shared on these platforms will not be exploited by a third party, where the data could be used against either the patient or the pharmacist.

Secondly, there is a lack of evidence to support the notion that communication through social media is both effective and accurate. Text messages and written paragraphs or essays are the most commonly used media to convey health questions and relevant answers.

Without sufficient contact with patients, pharmacists will have a tough time to correctly assess their conditions, let alone provide accurate clinical advice to them.

Malaysian MOH guidelines

In order to address the increasing use of social media among healthcare professionals for clinical consultations, the Malaysian Ministry of Health issued a guideline to the healthcare professionals (HCP) working in public health facilities. The guideline particularly focuses on consultation between HCPs.

From the 8-page long guideline, the MOH stressed the importance of maintaining patients' confidentiality. HCPs are urged not to share images or videos that contain any patient identifiers, such as names, hospital registration number or their home address. Written consent should be sought from the patients before HCPs are allowed to upload any material relating to them.

The MOH also outlined the criteria of a "good social media platform that can be approved and used for group consultation". Features such as traceable member profiles, the presence of a moderator and sufficient security to exclude public access to the data are suggested. The guideline goes further to prohibit the use of several popular social media for consultation purposes. The banned platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. MIMS

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Social Media Use in the United States: Implications for Health Communication

Social Media Use in the United States: Implications for Health Communication | Social Media and Healthcare |

Background: 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. The first step in this effort is to identify the characteristics of current social media users. Up-to-date reporting of current social media use will help monitor the growth of social media and inform health promotion/communication efforts aiming to effectively utilize social media.

Objective: The purpose of the study is to identify the sociodemographic and health-related factors associated with current adult social media users in the United States.

Methods: Data came from the 2007 iteration of the Health Information National Trends Study (HINTS, N = 7674). HINTS is a nationally representative cross-sectional survey on health-related communication trends and practices. Survey respondents who reported having accessed the Internet (N = 5078) were asked whether, over the past year, they had (1) participated in an online support group, (2) written in a blog, (3) visited a social networking site. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify predictors of each type of social media use.

Results: Approximately 69% of US adults reported having access to the Internet in 2007. Among Internet users, 5% participated in an online support group, 7% reported blogging, and 23% used a social networking site. Multivariate analysis found that younger age was the only significant predictor of blogging and social networking site participation; a statistically significant linear relationship was observed, with younger categories reporting more frequent use. Younger age, poorer subjective health, and a personal cancer experience predicted support group participation. In general, social media are penetrating the US population independent of education, race/ethnicity, or health care access.

Conclusions: Recent growth of social media is not uniformly distributed across age groups; therefore, health communication programs utilizing social media must first consider the age of the targeted population to help ensure that messages reach the intended audience. While racial/ethnic and health status–related disparities exist in Internet access, among those with Internet access, these characteristics do not affect social media use. This finding suggests that the new technologies, represented by social media, may be changing the communication pattern throughout the United States.

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What NOT to do...: Avoiding HIPAA risks on Social Media

What NOT to do...: Avoiding HIPAA risks on Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

What NOT to do…

A Texas physician who performs aesthetic treatments recently agreed to disciplinary action by the Board of Medicine. In 2015, a patient underwent a series of non-invasive laser treatments with Dr. Tinuade Olugesugun-Gbadeham. Around May 27, 2015, the patient made a video testimonial on the results of these procedures. The patient gave consent to have photos and videos taken – though authorization was limited to “anonymous use for the purposes of medical audit, education, and promotion.”

The patient’s video was posted to the doctor’s Facebook page with full face shots. No attempt to mask the patient’s identity.

The video suggested the patient was happy with the procedures.

But, soon after, all was different.

Two months later, the patient replied to the Facebook post saying “OK, I’ll make my Comment! Beware! Send me a personal message, and I’ll share my experience with this crap!”

Not a happy camper.

The patient disputed some of the charges for the procedure with her credit card company – and this may have fueled the deteriorating doctor-patient relationship.

Dr. Tinuade Olugesugun-Gbadeham and the patient exchanged a number of emails.

Around August 19, 2015, the doctor allegedly responded to the patient via email, “‘The contrast between your printed words and your video-taped testimonial are completely contradictory. …This video result, when posted as a response to your next slanderous comment about the Dr. O Lift on social media, will be just as damaging to YOUR professional reputation. Let this communication serve as our formal legal notice to you regarding these matters.” Just so we’re clear here. The doctor is writing this to the patient.

The patient then explicitly directed the doctor to remove the online video testimonial.

The saga continued.

Around August 29, 2015 and September 14, 2015, the patient filed police reports alleging that the doctor was harassing her in retaliation for a billing dispute by posting a videotape taken of her in her undergarments on Facebook and YouTube and by sending a copy of the videotape to her credit card company (challenging the chargeback).

On September 14, 2015, the doctor emailed the patient indicating that she would continue to post and distribute the patient’s videotape and that the patient would regret reporting anything against the doctor. The doctor allegedly wrote ], “I will damage your professional reputation, and you will be humiliated!” In addition, “[P]eople will see your glowing testimonial and your body, enjoy your Hi-Def video! Enjoy as others will do the same.” Just so we’re clear here again. The doctor is writing this to the patient.

The patient filed a complaint with the Texas Medical Board arguing she suffered burns during the first procedure. She also claimed she was overbilled and was disputing some of the charges with her credit card company.

The Texas Medical Board concuded the posting of the video was a HIPAA violation and was unprofessional. The Board also ruled that an email containing the link to a posting of the video sent to the patient in an “unsecured format” was ALSO a confidentiality breach and was unprofessional.

The Texas Medical Board continued with its laundry list. They also concluded Dr. Olusegun-Gbadehan sent the video to the merchant processing company in response to the billing dispute as evidence that the patient initially appeared to be happy with the treatment, but this too was a violation of the patient’s privacy. Piling on indeed.

Although patients cannot sue directly based on HIPAA, the case still lingers on.

The patient sued Dr. Tinuade Olugesugun-Gbadeham for mental anguish, physical pain, and suffering. This is being packaged as a health care liability claim claiming the publication of the video and subsequent correspondence via email were intended to damage the patient’s personal and professional reputation.

A handful of comments…

  • Get the appropriate consent for photographs/videos. We have generic consents for photographs/videos. Just ask.
  • Honor those consents. If the consent asks that pictures/videos be de-identified, make sure the pictures cannot be tied back to the individual patient. This often is more than just putting a stripe over the patient’s eyes. For example, if the if the photo includes an unusual shoulder tattoo, that is a potentially identifying mark.
  • HIPAA does actually allow you to send limited protected health information without the patient’s authorization to address a financial dispute. HIPAA is a federal law. And a given state may have more stringent requirements than the federal baseline. But, in addressing a financial dispute, little needs to be sent. For example, that the patient signed a credit card receipt authorizing for a specific procedure to be done on a specific date; and indeed that procedure was done. There’s no need to send a videotape of the patient in undergarments waxing eloquently (no pun intended) about how great the procedure was. The credit card company is not adjudicating whether the patient has buyer’s remorse. Merely whether the payment was authorized.
  • If a patient asks you to remove an online photo/video and it is within your reasonable control to make it happen, just do it. HIPAA allows patients to withdraw their authorization to disclose protected health information. Obviously if the patient’s photo is published in a national magazine, you cannot reasonably recall each copy. But, if it is on your Facebook page, you can honor the request.

Like many things, disputes over money can escalate into World War Three. Such disputes can often be pre-empted with targeted diplomacy.

What do you think?

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Doctors Need to Be Mindful of What They Post on Social Media

Doctors Need to Be Mindful of What They Post on Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Young doctors often have unprofessional or offensive content on their Facebook profiles, according to a study published online April 9 in BJU International.

Kevin Koo, M.D., Ph.D., a urology resident at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues queried 281 doctors who graduated from U.S. urology residency programs in 2015. The investigators found that 72 percent had a publicly identifiable Facebook profile. Next, the researchers looked for content deemed unprofessional or at least potentially offensive.

The team found such content in 40 percent of the profiles. Unprofessional content included images or references to drunkenness, drug use, or unlawful behavior. It also included posts that divulged protected patient information. One post showed X-rays where a patient’s name was visible; others gave enough details that the patient could be identified — like describing complications that happened during surgery on a specific date.

“The majority of recent residency graduates had publicly accessible Facebook profiles, and a substantial proportion contained self-authored unprofessional content,” the authors write. “Greater awareness of trainees’ online identities is needed.”

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Why your doctor might Google you - 

Why your doctor might Google you -  | Social Media and Healthcare |

When we think about Google and health, we usually think about patients searching online for health information. But you may be surprised that some doctors Google you.


An Australian survey of how doctors use social media found about 16% (about one in six) had searched for online information about a patient, with roughly similar results from studies in the US and Canada.



This raises several ethical concerns. For instance, what if your doctor's search through your Facebook, blog or Twitter feeds revealed aspects about your lifestyle, like drug or alcohol use, you didn't tell your doctor directly? What if that information influenced your access to surgery?

Why doctors Google patients



Some doctors say they Google their patients to gather more information about them or to discover the "truth". Armed with that information, they say they can better care for their patients and improve their health.



For instance, a doctor may see a patient with depression's online account of wanting to end his life; the doctor might see that as an opportunity to take action and prevent a bad outcome. Or a doctor may find out about adolescent high-risk behaviour they are not likely to talk about, like drug abuse or risky sexual behaviour, and see that as an opportunity to protect them from harm.



Alternatively, some doctors Google their patients out of curiosity, voyeurism or simply habit.




This raises the issue of when a legitimate professional concern tips over into behaviour that's unnecessary and "creepy".



To Google or not is an issue doctors admit to grappling with. In an Australian survey, when doctors were asked if it was appropriate for doctors to look up publicly available information about a patient, almost 43% said no and around 40% were unsure.



Breaching trust



When a doctor searches online for information about a patient without consent, their role changes from someone who works with the patient to someone who observes and spies on them. From a patient's viewpoint, this is likely to destroy trust between the two, as it shows a lack of respect.



Patients can also be directly harmed when doctors act on information they find online. If a doctor sees an online photo of a patient waiting for a liver transplant drinking alcohol when they shouldn't be, patients risk missing out on receiving a new liver.



Then there's the issue of whether the information is recent or relevant. In the case of the liver transplant dilemma, we might not know when the photo of the liver transplant patient was taken; it is not proof the patient is drinking now.



Doctors, like the rest of us, also cannot be sure online information is accurate. For instance, more than 50% of adolescents admit posting false information on social media.



To act or not to act?



Deciding to search for information about their patients online is not the end of the matter. Doctors also need to decide whether to admit Googling and whether to act on the information they find.



Doctors are legally required under mandatory reporting laws to report information they have viewed relating to child abuse and neglect. But if they act on inaccurate information, that can harm the patient and others. If they don't act on the information they find, they could be liable for not trying to protect the patient.



In the end, doctors need to satisfy themselves that they have good reason to take action (or not take action) based on weighing up the likely benefits and harms.



While there may be some justification for looking at patient information online when it relates to child safety, for adult patients, it's a different matter. For adults, it would be easier and more respectful to just ask them.



What can we do?



Regardless of any ethical concerns, how realistic is it for doctors to stop Googling their patients? Using Google is so common (globally, we use it to make 3.5 billion searches a day) that it has become the default way we find out information online. Many doctors also don't think Googling a patient is an invasion of privacy.



Patients should be aware that their doctor can see and use the information they put online. To safeguard their privacy, patients can adjust their privacy settings and be careful of what they post.



Perhaps there should be policy on the need for doctors to be open about Googling their patients. And, before they act on any information, patients should have an opportunity to refute or explain that information.



If this doesn't happen, we will see an continual erosion of trust between doctor and patient.

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Professional social media instrument to meet researcher and healthcare instruments 

Research Article Open Access Luisetto et al., Int J Econ Manag Sci 2016, 5:3 Research Article Open Access Internati…
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Is Yelp an Effective Patient Resource for Treatment Decisions?

Is Yelp an Effective Patient Resource for Treatment Decisions? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Positive Yelp reviews are correlated with key clinical quality metrics, suggesting that the platform is an effective and accessible resource for patients making treatment decisions, according to a new report conducted by the Manhattan Institute and funded by the New York State Health Foundation.

Questions about online patient reviews have arisen as more patients are assuming more healthcare financial responsibility.

“Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in both employer-based and public-exchange health plans are being asked not only to make greater financial contributions to the cost of their care but to wisely choose when and where they access doctors and hospital-based care,” said report authors Paul Howard and Yevgeniy Feyman, both research fellows at the Manhattan Institute.

With their own dollars on the line, more patients are consulting online review sites such as Yelp, Healthgrades, and ZocDoc to make treatment decisions.

And while considerable preliminary research has been done on the subject, the question remains whether online patient reviews on Yelp truly reflect clinician and hospital quality.

Yelp has been making some attempts to create an authentic image of clinician quality, Howard and Feyman wrote. Yelp allows patients to rate providers using a five-star system and allows for qualitative comments. The platform gains some more credibility by leveraging algorithms to prevent duplicate, fraudulent, or provider-generated reviews.

These efforts have had a positive effect, some research indicates. Studies have shown that positive Yelp reviews correlate with positive HCAHPS scores.

However, healthcare professionals still grapple with the same question: do Yelp and other patient review websites serve as good indicators of clinician and hospital quality?

“Healthcare providers have expressed serious reservations about hospital quality ratings as inconsistent across the platforms that provide the ratings, and as not properly accounting for the sickness or frailty of patient populations,” Howard and Feyman explained.

“Providers also express concerns that customer satisfaction surveys don’t capture dimensions of care that reflect clinical or objective quality metrics, especially for hospitals that serve vulnerable populations,” they continued.

Howard and Feyman conducted an analysis of Yelp reviews for practices across New York State and compared them with two key clinical quality measures: potentially preventable readmissions and post-discharge mortality.

The results show that higher Yelp ratings are correlated with lower preventable hospital readmissions.

The relationship between Yelp ratings and post-discharge mortality was less clear, Howard and Feyman reported. Surprisingly, year-to-year post-discharge mortality rates tended to be slightly higher at facilities with high Yelp ratings, the pair said.

“It isn’t clear why this is the case, though the smaller variation in mortality for conditions and procedures, compared with [potentially preventable readmissions], may be one explanation,” Howard and Feyman said.

Ultimately, these results show that Yelp ratings have the potential to empower patients with clinical quality information, allowing them to make their own decisions about where to access care. This can also help redirect market share to quality facilities.

Howard and Feyman said that while Yelp serves as an aid for patients making treatment decisions, it is not the only useful aid.

“We do not argue that Yelp alone is, or can be, the only guide to quality hospitals,” the duo noted. “However, when people can choose where they will obtain care—as do patients with traditional Medicare coverage for elective or planned surgeries, or when consumers can choose among insurance options—Yelp ratings can provide a helpful guide.”

Other quality measures – such as the CMS hospital star ratings or HCAHPS scores – naturally paint a more accurate picture of hospital and physician quality, Howard and Feyman acknowledged. However, these quality metrics are not accessible for the typical patient, making Yelp a more promising source.

Howard and Feyman offered the following advice to improve the Yelp experience and make it an even more credible source for patients seeking healthcare quality information:

  • Help make Yelp scores more visible when consumers are making important decisions about health-care coverage—for instance, when choosing among competing insurers’ hospital networks on New York State’s health-insurance exchange.
  • Link objective, simple quality metrics onto the Yelp review page for hospitals to allow patients with specific concerns to access more detailed information that would complement and better inform Yelp quality ratings.
  • Fund targeted “hackathons” that find ways to make Yelp and other social media reviews more accessible to high-needs, vulnerable populations—including caregivers for the frail, elderly, non-English-speaking, or low-income minority populations.

Additionally, the researchers suggested continuing investigations into the reliability of Yelp ratings as time goes on. Healthcare Yelp reviews are a relatively new phenomenon, and therefore there is only a small sample size from which research may be conducted.

“The number of hospitals with Yelp ratings and the number of Yelp ratings at each hospital are likely to increase in the coming years, and social media tools will likely continue to evolve among patients as well as providers,” Howard and Feyman concluded. “These developments suggest that future research would be useful to understand whether Yelp ratings become even more useful predictors of hospital quality over time.”

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Why Digital Marketing Is Essential In Health Care Industry

Here are some of the reasons- why Digital Marketing is essential in health care industry.
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Maintaining professionalism on Facebook — 5 key notes on physicians' personal social media accounts

Maintaining professionalism on Facebook — 5 key notes on physicians' personal social media accounts | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media can benefit physicians and medical professionals who use it to accrue new patients or maintain relationships with current patients. However, a recent study found some physicians exhibit "unprofessional" social media practices, according to UPI.

The study polled recently graduated urologists. Approximately 75 percent of participants had publicly identifiable Facebook profiles.

Here are five key notes:

1. Forty percent had unprofessional or "potentially objectionable" content on their profiles.

2. Some profiles featured profanity while others violated medical ethics and contained information about a patient's health.

3. Kevin Koo, MD, lead researcher, said physicians play an important role in ensuring the patient-provider relationship remains intact and in upholding patient confidentiality standards.

4. American Medical Association 2010 guidelines recommend physicians set "appropriate professional boundaries" with patients over social media.

5. A different study found 92 percent of U.S. state medical boards conducted online professionalism violation investigations. Patients or their family members reported most of the violations, according to UPI.

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Social Media: A New Dimension In Health Research

Keynote Address #HealthXPh Philippine Healthcare Social Media Summit, Cebu City, Philippines.
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Results: Majority of People Think You Should Not Respond to Comments on Social Media

Results: Majority of People Think You Should Not Respond to Comments on Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

The world of social media – good or bad – has given everyone with a computer or smartphone a platform and a voice.

In the healthcare world, the ability for patients to post reviews and comments in real time can have a detrimental effect on physicians. Negative assessments (and positive ones, too) have the capability to reach thousands of people in a matter of seconds. So when it comes to reacting to some of the negative comments about a doctor or a specific interaction during a consultation, what is the best course of action?

In a recent poll conducted by Physician’s Weekly, we asked our readers how they would handle such an instance. Is responding to a negative/unsatisfied patient the right thing to do? The results were:

More than 3/4 of the respondents felt it was unnecessary to respond to negative comments from dissatisfied patients. With social media becoming more and more of a sounding board for anyone and everyone, it’s vital that medical professionals remain … professional.

Related: Tips Provided for Leveraging Social Media

Two experts from Allied World – Anne Huben-Kearney, RN, BSN, MPA, CPHQ, CPHRM; Pauline Barry, BSN, MPS, CPHRM, CPPS, DFASHRM – recently gave their opinions on this topic based on their own experience.

According to the article, “The issue is not only how, but whether the healthcare entity or an individual physician should respond at all. This creates a quandary: responding to the patient/family could be a violation of patient privacy, even though the patient or family posted their own protected health information, but ignoring the issue could be perceived as a tacit agreement with the complaints or lack of concern with the feedback.”

Related: Maximizing Potential with Social Media

“The desire to ‘correct the record’ or give the other side of the story when faced with the negative online posting is natural. However, doing so may lead to an allegation of breach of confidentiality or other legal consequences.”

The authors also gave four alternative responses to a negative online posting, which included:

1. Ignore the post if the comments are generally benign.

2. Respond to significantly negative or blatantly untruthful comments with a generic statement that explains your privacy rules and your process for receiving complaints. The statement should never identify that the individual is or was a patient but only confirm that your organization was named in the posting.

3. Contact local law enforcement immediately if the posting is a threat against a specific healthcare provider, staff member or other individual. These comments should be taken seriously and require immediate action. Make a hard copy of the postings to provide to law enforcement as the posting could be deleted by the individual making the threats.

4.Notify your insurance company’s Claims Department through a Notice of Potential Loss if any comments indicate that a medical malpractice or other claim against the healthcare organization is likely.

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Study questions doctor judgement on personal social media accounts

Study questions doctor judgement on personal social media accounts | Social Media and Healthcare |

Not even doctors are immune from inappropriate social media posts. Young doctors often have "unprofessional" or offensive content on their Facebook profiles, a new study suggests.

The study, of newly graduated urologists, found that nearly three-quarters had publicly identifiable Facebook profiles. And 40 percent of them contained unprofessional or "potentially objectionable" content.

That ranged from profanity and images of drunkenness, to clear violations of medical ethics -- such as divulging a patient's health information.

The researchers said the findings add to concerns over how doctors' social media use -- if not thought out -- could potentially erode patients' trust.

"I think we all have a role to play in making sure the high standards of patient confidentiality and the doctor-patient relationship are upheld," said lead researcher Dr. Kevin Koo.

Koo is a urology resident at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, in Lebanon, N.H.

The study is not the first to bring attention to doctors' social media use.

The issue has been on the medical profession's radar for a while, said Dr. Matthew DeCamp, of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics in Baltimore.

Several professional societies, and some university medical centers, already have guidelines that call on doctors to use social media with care.

The American Medical Association, for instance, issued guidelines in 2010. They encourage doctors to "consider separating personal and professional content online." They also stress the importance of "appropriate professional boundaries" with patients, and never violating patients' privacy.

But it's not clear how often those messages get through to doctors, said DeCamp, who was not involved in the study.

"It's concerning that professional guidelines may not be having the intended effect," he said.

Koo agreed it's not clear how many doctors "even know that guidelines exist."

For the study, Koo's team queried Facebook with the names of 281 doctors who graduated from U.S. urology residency programs in 2015.

The investigators found that 72 percent had a publicly identifiable Facebook profile.

Next, the researchers looked for content deemed unprofessional or at least potentially offensive. They found such content in 40 percent of the profiles.

Unprofessional content included images or references to drunkenness, drug use or "unlawful behavior." It also included posts that divulged protected patient information.

There were several cases of that, the study found. One post showed X-rays where a patient's name was visible; others gave enough details that the patient could be identified -- like describing complications that happened during surgery on a specific date.

Using social media that way is clearly wrong, DeCamp said. "Sharing patient information is egregious," he added.

In other cases, he noted, it's not so black-and-white.

The category of "potentially objectionable" content included images of doctors holding an alcoholic drink, for instance -- or posts expressing opinions on politics, religion or controversial social issues.

So should doctors not be allowed to offend anyone online?

No one expects doctors to never post an opinion, Koo said. "We realize they don't live in a vacuum," he added.

Still, according to DeCamp, there is reason for doctors to consider how posting their views will influence people.

It could be argued, he said, that doctors shouldn't lend their "trusted position" to a political cause that is unrelated to medicine, for instance.

Can doctors solve the problem by simply never "friending" a patient, and keeping all personal posts out of public view? And should they, as guidelines suggest, have a separate "professional" online identity?

DeCamp said he believes it's impossible to have two separate "identities." Instead, he suggested that doctors take the time to consider their posts carefully: "Ask yourself if this is something you really want in a public space," he said.

Some doctors' online personas have already affected them in the real world, Koo and colleagues noted.

One study found that 92 percent of U.S. state medical boards had investigated online professionalism violations. Most were reported by patients or their family members.

The study was published online recently in the journal BJU International.

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Yes, These Plastic Surgeons Seriously Snapchat Butt Lifts and Breast Implants

Yes, These Plastic Surgeons Seriously Snapchat Butt Lifts and Breast Implants | Social Media and Healthcare |

There's no way to say this nicely. The first thing you notice is the smell of burning flesh. You see the little white ribbons of smoke hovering over the patient, but it doesn't hit you until a circulation nurse swings open the operating-room door, wafting that apocalyptic smell around the room where it sucker punches your gag reflex. I had watched hundreds of tummy tuck videos on Snapchat leading up to this moment, but I wasn't ready for the stench. When you watch this procedure on your iPhone, with little pink hearts decorating the corners of the shot, it's not nearly as brutal. Emojis soften the blow.

If you follow Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Cat Begovic on Snapchat (beautybydrcat), you saw this surgery in early January. It's a tummy tuck plus hernia repair for an already slender woman. She's had a few kids, and the skin on her stomach had stretched and sagged. If you're having trouble placing it, it's the surgery Begovic snapped the same day as a video of her cat chasing a soccer ball. There was also a selfie, a weekly Snapchat surgery schedule written on a whiteboard like a TV Guide, a couple of before-and-afters — tap, tap, tap your screen — and now you're caught up. You didn't see me in any videos (it was offered; I declined), but I was there, hunched over in the corner of the room, wrapped in a blue medical gown, trying to breathe deeply through a surgical mask, and, despite having gotten permission from the patient to be there, feeling pretty creepy about the whole thing.

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"Creepy" seems to be the standard response when I tell people about the plastic surgeons who broadcast their surgeries in real time via Snapchat to an audience of…who knows, really. Children? Perverts? Plastic surgery hopefuls? "Is that even legal?" asks the bartender at my Los Angeles hotel. The answer is yes, so long as the patient signs a release with any personal caveats (like: "My butterfly tattoo was custom. Friends will know those are my innards"), and the doctors are free to use your unconscious body (minus the butterfly) for marketing purposes.

Begovic is in the company of a growing number of surgeons taking to social media to show off their work. Given the success of plastic surgery on television (Nip/Tuck, Dr. 90210, Extreme Makeover), it should come as no surprise that their snaps have viewers, and a lot of them. Dr. Miami, the Florida-based plastic surgeon widely credited as the creator of the operating-room Snapchat, is a veritable celebrity with an upcoming We TV series. There is capital in cutting people up on camera.

I first meet Begovic in her Beverly Hills office early on the morning of the tummy tuck. She's running a bit behind, filming the intro to her Snapchat story in the back because the lighting is better (she has a ring light set up for selfies). It's Barbie's Dream Waiting Room — everything is white or pink or damask or glittering. And there's a framed advertisement for her Snapchat handle on the front desk.

When she crosses the room, her loose curls are blown back by some divine wind machine. She's 40 but doesn't look it, maybe because of the Botox injections she performs on herself for her Snapchat followers. She speaks deliberately but with the slightly rising inflection of a Valley Girl — a board-certified Valley Girl with a Harvard degree. She's wearing pink eye shadow and pink lipstick and a lab coat with her name embroidered in pink thread.

She walks me through the tummy tuck and the labiaplasty I'll be observing. "There might be kids watching, so I don't show the vagina," she says. "I feel like it's my responsibility to censor things like that." Then she has me sign a consent form from the surgery center, "in case you pass out or have any emotional or psychological…you know." I start to ask whether it's OK that I have my phone in the operating room before I remember who I'm talking to.

The psychological "you know"s are part of the mystery. Who is watching this and why? It strikes me as kind of macabre. I guess there's the train-wreck theory: You can't look away. But that seems a little too simplistic. I'll glance over when I see a flaming car on the side of the road, but I sure as hell don't cruise around on the freeway hunting for one. Similarly, my social media feed is not specifically curated for seeing unwelcome flesh cut from a human body. I'm more of a baby animals person. I like to know what Selena Gomez is doing in her free time.

Granted, all I have on Selena is a two-dimensional shrunken-down version of her life. As far as I know, she lives in the 4.7-square-inch rectangle that is my phone screen and only in the 30-minute intervals before and after work while I'm sitting on the train. Maybe that's how these surgeries exist — fans are tuning in, tapping through, and moving on. But the real story is so much larger than 6.2 GB of app space. When you're actually in the operating room, it's not just a window of flesh framed by gauzy blue medical cloth. There's a person under there. I met her! She was pretty and sweet and quiet. And then I watched her drift off under anesthesia, giving sleepy half-answers to the medical staff. I watched them arrange her body in an unnatural pas de chat. I watched as a surgeon cauterized the muscle away from the fat for hours, making an oozy living cave between her body and her flesh. I watched her abdomen get tucked and sewn and a triangle-shaped portion of her belly get sliced off. I heard the sound it made as it flopped onto the table — like meat being weighed at a butcher's shop. I tried my best to forget the face of the pretty and sweet and quiet girl so that I wouldn't burst into tears. And of course, there was that burning flesh smell. That smell that's piped right into the devil's personal sauna, where he can bask in its smoky, musky, suffocating stench.

The people watching these graphic snaps, Begovic tells me, are young women. They want surgery, but they're scared. They're unhappy with the length of their labia, but they didn't know they could do something about it. For them, she provides step-by-step explanations and a Q&A session at the end of the day. Or, she says, they're looking for a role model: "They're just looking for motivation and inspiration. It's challenging being a woman in a male-dominated field."

She regales me with tales of her training, when some male doctors would tell her that the operating room was no place for a woman or that her breasts would be too distracting for them. She does an excellent job of convincing me that she's a Snapchat champion of feminism. The platform is simple: She wants to show young women that if they work hard, they can play with the boys ("and be better") and have a fabulous lifestyle to show for it.

The fascinating thing about Begovic is how deliberate she is in a celebrity-self-awareness kind of way. Every Snapchat that I watch is quickly rehearsed and thoughtfully framed before her assistant counts down to the recording ("Ready…set…go"). It hardly ever requires more than one take, although if she's not feeling it after three or so words, she'll ask to start over. Then Begovic will give a final glance of approval before the video or photo goes into editing on the sidelines. There are captions to add, emojis, and filters. She has a knack for rattling off hashtag suggestions in the OR.

Photo by Grant Cornett

The five-hour tummy tuck will be condensed into 20 or so ten-second snapshots and videos. That's a tummy tuck in 200 seconds — about three minutes of Snapchat content — edited and filtered for optimal glamour. Rest assured that the snapshots in which you can see the glistening flecks of human fat on her gloves were deleted and reshot. And up to 80,000 people will watch.

Begovic is a diligent doctor. The nurses are perfectly capable of mixing lidocaine, but Begovic likes to do it herself "just to be sure" it's done correctly. She can detect a change in blood pressure from the soft beeps of the heart monitor at the same time as the anesthesiologist. It just so happens that she can do all of this while her staff selects the best moments, lighting, and angles for Snapchat. It's become second nature. "I basically speak in ten-second bursts," she says.

If you're looking for something feistier to add to your feed, Sejal Patel (mydrsej), a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, has an office across the parking lot from Begovic. He has his own hashtag: #ShapedExtraJuicy, built off of the first three letters of his name and a callout to his drastic Brazilian butt lifts. Patel's snaps are more playful; there's music in the operating room, the occasional video of him rapping, and an "after" butt-lift video that frequently involves him zooming in on the newly plumped derrière and shouting "KABOOOOM!" at the reveal.

"As long as you're showing respect for your patients, it seems a little onerous for [us] to maintain this burden of having to behave in a certain way," he says. "I feel like I'm conservative with my Snapchat, but other people may think that I'm insane."

Patel is so animated, it's surprising. The way he sees it, Snapchat is the ultimate marketing tool. You see his before, you see his after, and then you'll book an appointment. "If you're bored with that, then go watch someone else's Snapchat. I'm not here to entertain you. I'm here to show you that I do really good work."

But not everyone sees it that way. "You've gotta look at the before and the after. If I take a girl who's — not to put girls as numbers, but — let's say we take a 9. And I do something on her. The likelihood is now she's going to look more than a 9." I recoil a little from his rhetoric; he doesn't notice. "If I take a woman that's got an obesity problem…no matter how hard I work on her, the likelihood is that she probably won't look as good as [the 9], who was already hot — I made a small incremental change, and now she looks like an unreal goddess. Everyone is looking at the after and saying, 'You are the most amazing doctor in the world.' No, I'm amazing for the one that weighed 200 pounds and can now go on a date and feel better about herself." A humanitarian ignored.

Patel says that an overwhelming majority of his patients agree to be on his Snapchat, which is, I tell him, surprising to me. Aren't they concerned that you'll be more focused on your phone than the procedure? "That's a hilarious concern because you're literally showing thousands of people what you're doing. It's the opposite. Once you start the Snapchat, you gotta finish it, and it better look good — or you're gonna look like a jackass. It takes balls to show what your results are."

Most of the patients who agree to speak with me have a similar attitude. They see Snapchat as accountability. And it is about passing on the good will — they were nervous about a procedure, but when they saw the snaps, they knew they weren't alone. The other response: Who cares? It's anonymous. One man who had a full-body lift — which is exactly what it sounds like — was in it for the novelty: "Of course I would agree! I was filleted! Once you're awake, it's over. You want to see what happened." But the one thing they all said was that they had found their surgeon through Snapchat — wouldn't it be hypocritical not to sign the forms?

Not all plastic surgeons are as forthcoming about their social media endeavors as Patel. Tarick Smaili, or Dr. Smiley — having forgone his given name for his Snapchat handle — is another Snapchat aficionado based in Beverly Hills. He doesn't answer repeated requests for an interview. His Snapchat is one of the more over-the-top depictions of plastic surgery I've seen. Smaili's feed is like a three-ring circus, but the segments of him in wacky costumes providing personalized shout-outs to his fans suggest that people love the show. His snaps range from speculation on whether or not Gisele has had any work done to him handling a silicone breast implant. People don't believe me when I tell them about the "bubble-butt dance," a brief artless shuffle that he films his scrubbed-in staff performing over the newly plumped-up ass of a still-unconscious patient. I'm sure the patient had to have given permission for this terrifying ritual. It's loud and frenetic and, to Smaili's credit, I can't stop watching.

It isn't until Patel sheds a little light on his own personal motives that I start to understand: "I don't need [the media] anymore. If you're good on social media, you're gonna be successful." Smaili has crafted himself into a kind of celebrity (or so he'd have you believe), and he's doing just fine on his own, thank you very much. Whether he doesn't want me to see beyond his social media image or he just doesn't give a shit about me doesn't really matter. It's important to remember that these snaps are not indicative of what surgery is. They give a glimpse of a procedure, sure, but it sounds different. It smells very different. It takes much longer. There is a recovery period that is not documented. You never actually see the patients slowly fade off under anesthesia. When these surgeons aren't "on" and ready to film, they're quietly suturing or chatting with their staff or, in some cases, getting a little testy with a Snap-ographer.

After a week on the set of the Beverly Hills operating rooms, here's how I reconciled this showbiz-y version of medicine: On my flight to L.A., I sat next to the Bachelor himself. He spent the flight crafting tweets and discussing with a person I assumed was his handler what he might say on Jimmy Kimmel. Now, the Bachelor is not certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and his selfies are far from, say, a graphic breast implant, but what you're getting as a consumer of social media — of any media — is packaged in a similar way. He is creating the narrative, and all you're seeing is the final, filtered product, exactly the way he wants you to see it. If all goes well, you will lap it up without question.

The surgeons of Snapchat are no different. Do I think Begovic actually "chills" on Friday by putting on a cocktail dress and playing Chopin on a white baby-grand piano? No. But that's the "Dr. Cat" brand that she's selling. "You still have to do your own research," says Begovic. "You still have to get information from a credible source. It doesn't matter how many followers your doctor has."

They're all in it for different reasons, maybe some more noble than others, but we should know what those reasons are and hold on to that. By selecting the people whose content you choose to follow, you're filling your feed with their manufactured images. The best we can do is try to suss out the facts. The same goes for actors, that girl from college you stalk on Instagram, news outlets, and presidents. In this case, if you can look past the heart emojis and the rap music, you'll see the truth in the operating room: A person wanted to feel better about her body, and she signed on the dotted line.

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Use of Facebook as part of a social media strategy for patient engagement

Use of Facebook as part of a social media strategy for patient engagement | Social Media and Healthcare |

Using social media is part of many people’s daily routines. However, social media can also be a part of a patient engagement strategy by supporting information dissemination, raising awareness, and encouraging the public to ask their primary care providers about innovations in care delivery such as electronic consultation. The Champlain BASE (Building Access to Specialists through eConsultation) eConsult service is a secure, Web-based tool that allows primary care providers quick access to specialty care for their patients. In an effort to increase awareness of the service and invite patient feedback on the use of this new model of care delivery, we developed a Facebook page.

Why Facebook?

Facebook provides an accessible method of obtaining information in lay format about health services that would otherwise only be found in scientific or academic journals and other sources that are less accessible to the general public.1 Our choice of Facebook rather than other social media platforms was based on its rapid, interactive, free-form method of communication with the ability to strategically target groups and drive discussion by allowing users to rate the service, write a review, share the page, post about their experiences with eConsult, access the eConsult website, and stay updated on the service.

Implementing a successful Facebook page

Content development and management.

First, we created a mind map of patient engagement tools to demonstrate where social media fit within our strategic approach, incorporating promotional, engagement, and stakeholder objectives. Second, we held several meetings with the eConsult research team’s partners to review institutional policies and explore the potential risks and benefits of using a Facebook page as a patient engagement tool for eConsult. Extensive planning was required before launching the page. In response to suggestions made at these meetings, we created a “Facebook Moderator’s Handbook” outlining our implementation plan, which focused on 3 main objectives: raising page awareness among the target audience, privacy, and continuous evaluation. The handbook included a calendar indicating the date and type of pre-planned content, engagement, video, and photo posts (eg, “It’s Fun Fact Friday! Did you know that the average response time for an eConsult case is only 2 days?”); a plan for responding to feedback (both positive and negative); and methods of page moderation.

Reaching our target audience.

Our target audience included patients and the general Canadian public older than 18 years of age. To raise awareness, we reached out to our stakeholders with requests to disseminate information about the launch of the eConsult Facebook page on their respective social media platforms. Further, we “liked” health-related and patient-focused pages with similar target audiences (eg, Canada Health Infoway, The Ottawa Hospital), thereby linking our page to similar groups. Facebook demographic settings were used to set a “preferred page audience,” targeting age, location, interests, and language, increasing the chances of our target audience encountering our page. We expect people to join the page as they see their friends and family members doing so, and as they note that it has a following and is patient-focused, relatable, relevant, and free of medical jargon.


While the free-form nature of Facebook is optimal for interactivity, it holds the potential for privacy and liability issues. We adjusted settings to disable private messaging and ensure no posts would be published before being approved by the page moderator, a designated member of the eConsult team (Z.H.) who is responsible for page maintenance. Terms of use dictate no personal health questions, photos, or profanity are published, and responses can be expected during business hours Monday through Friday. In addition, a disclaimer stated that any personal health concerns should be voiced to a primary care provider.

Continuous evaluation.

Successes, setbacks, and obstacles encountered were tracked daily in a Microsoft Word document entitled “Facebook Journal.” Maintaining a record of problems and their solutions proved useful in providing day-to-day tracking of methods used and their success or lack thereof. Facebook’s insights and analytics provided detailed analysis including number of page and post likes, reach, sources of likes, and audience demographic characteristics.


Four weeks after the page went live, it received 198 likes from Canada, the United States, Ghana, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Ecuador. Engagement (post clicks, likes, comments, and shares) was obtained from the above-mentioned countries, as well as Israel, Australia, Iran, and the United Kingdom. The page had a total organic reach (ie, number of viewers who saw a post without paid advertisements) of 5601 people living in Canada, and had reached 44 other countries. Of the 198 likes, 78% were from people between the ages of 18 and 34 years. Posts that obtained the most reach were those including photos, followed by posts containing links.


The ultimate goal of the Facebook page was to engage patients and raise awareness surrounding the Champlain BASE eConsult service. Within 4 weeks of launching the site, we obtained extensive reach worldwide but limited uptake in terms of discussion flow. It might take more time for the page to gain the popularity and trust necessary to develop a large enough audience for consistent engagement. The eConsult Facebook page remains a key resource for patients, enabling them to conveniently acquire information about and comment on the service. We expect increased traffic as the service becomes more mainstream. With technology evolving and shaping our means of communication, Facebook can be an effective, simple tool for patient engagement

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