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2017 Facebook & Instagram Changes Your Medical Practice Should Know About

2017 Facebook & Instagram Changes Your Medical Practice Should Know About | Social Media and Healthcare |

It’s no secret that Facebook and Instagram are constantly updating, tweaking, and reworking their platforms. While we aren’t always sure if it is for the betterment of the user or not, we can’t seem to stop the changes. Thankfully, the changes that have been rolling out recently seem to add to the functionality for organizations. 

As your medical or plastic surgery practice grows, you need to stay on top of the latest Facebook and Instagram trends so you can better serve your patients. These two social media platforms reign supreme in terms of engagement and ROI for practices like yours, so don't miss out.  

In today’s post, we are breaking down the most relevant updates that Facebook and Instagram released in the first quarter of 2017.

What’s New on Facebook


Just when you got used to keeping your videos under 60 seconds, Facebook went and changed the game.

According to Social Media Week, a news feed algorithm change puts more emphasis on longer videos - as long as they are relevant. Apparently, Facebook is paying more attention to how your audience is interacting with videos - are they watching the full video, are they making it full screen, etc. While a shorter video is easier to watch, that doesn’t mean that it is better.

Social Media Week reports, “until now, Facebook evenly weighed the percentage of completion, so 60 percent of a 3-minute video was the same as 60 percent of a 12-minute video. With this update, it will score the latter higher.” Keep in mind that this applies to organic videos, not paid videos.

Finally, Facebook is realizing that it is more important to produce high-quality videos rather than videos that hit a specific time limit. Facebook states “the best length for a video is whatever length is required to tell a compelling story that engages people, which is likely to vary depending on the story you’re telling.”

Another video update Facebook released is automatically playing videos in your news feed with the sound on. Instead of the default being that video sound is off, it will now be turned on. This means you won’t have to work quite as hard to capture the attention of your audience with silent videos. Keep in mind, however, how your audio message will come across when it automatically starts playing as someone is scrolling through their news feed.


Consumers begged to have something more than the standard “Like” button, and Facebook delivered with the Reactions. Now, Facebook is going one step further. According to Flash Stock article, Facebook announced that they are tweaking the news feed algorithm “to prioritize content and related content that earns 'Reactions’ from users over ‘Likes.’” So, if you can get more people to click a Reaction other than a Like, your content will show up more consistently in your followers’ news feeds.  

Mashable reports that a Facebook spokesperson explained, “over the past year we've found that if people leave a Reaction on a post, it is an even stronger signal that they'd want to see that type of post than if they left a Like on the post. So we are updating news feed to weigh Reactions a little more than Likes when taking into account how relevant the story is to each person."

So, what kind of content can your practice post that will garner a more intense emotion? This should help you focus more on the human side of your practice instead of just growing your number of patients.


Have you noticed the cheerful greetings at the top of your Facebook news feed lately? According to Flash Stock, this is Facebook’s way of reminding marketers to keep their content timely and relevant. In the big scheme of things, Facebook is concerned that practices are getting away from sharing personal posts. This is their way to help remind people to notice the little things like the seasons and be more personable.

When you are thinking about the content you are publishing on Facebook, are you aware of what is going on in the world? By keeping your content fresh, you are more likely to earn reactions from your patients. Check out our post, "10 Summer Marketing Ideas + 5 Summer Email Campaigns for your Medical Practice" to keep your content seasonally fresh.


The question these days is what social media platform DOESN’T have a Stories feature? Not many. While Snapchat may have been the first social media platform to have a Stories feature, Instagram was soon to follow, and at the end of March, Facebook launched their version on their mobile app as well - called Messenger Day. Just like the other two platforms, this photo and video content are only available for 24 hours.

Much like the other updates, Facebook has recently released, the hope behind this move is that users will be more personal and share more of their real life on Facebook. According to a Business Insider article, Facebook product manager Connor Hayes stated, “we’ve seen this do well in other apps. This is something that Snapchat has really pioneered, and our take on this is that Stories has become a format that people use to share and consume photo and video across all social apps.”

If you want to jump on the bandwagon, your best bet is to use Messenger Day as a way to share a behind the scenes look at your practice, featuring before and afters, and simply letting your patients get to know your team. Keep these posts short, sweet, and friendly.

What’s New on Instagram


Here is one update that everyone seems excited about. Sometimes you have more than one photo you want to feature but don’t want to be that annoying practice that bombards your followers’ feed. The new carousel post allows you to do just that! According to AdEspresso, this kind of post, “lets you create a single Instagram post with a slideshow of up to 10 images and/or videos. Users can scroll them. You can tag users on individual slides within the post.”

This means you can do a complete tour of your facility in one post, or better yet, you can show a series of stunning before and after pictures that really make an impact compared to individual posts. Another benefit of using the carousel post is to show multiple photos from one event without overtaking your entire profile with similar photos.


If your practice is looking to get more bang for your buck when it comes to social media advertising, you will want to pay attention to Instagram’s release of ads on Instagram Stories. According to Instagram, “ads in Stories let your business use targeting and reach capabilities that make your ads personally relevant to the people you want to reach. That, paired with measurement tools giving you the confidence to know it works, is unmatched in a Stories experience.”

The cool thing about these ads is that you can optimize them for reach - meaning “you can show your ads to the maximum number of people in your audience and control how often they see your ads.” Again, this is pushing practices to focus on the experience they are creating and the value they are providing instead of following traditional marketing methods of simply showcasing your offerings. Instagram Stories ads help push practices to think about the visual experience they are creating.


According to AdEspresso, lead ads were first developed by Facebook to encourage users to “make filling out lead forms as simple as approving information Facebook automatically pulled from your profile.” As usual, because of its success on Facebook, they have recently been released on Instagram.

While the fields are more limited on Instagram, it still allows you to access the most important contact information. If you’re looking to use Instagram as a lead capturing tool, this could be a game-changer for your practice. 


If Instagram Stories isn’t instantaneous enough for you, don’t worry, Instagram released their Live Stories feature earlier in Q1. As with any live broadcasting feature, this update pushes users to be more authentic and to share the most relevant content possible. Live Stories is another way to attract new followers and to simply provide quality-rich content to your current followers. Practices are using Live Stories to answer questions, host discussions, and share behind the scenes information.

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Social Media and Healthcare
Articles and Discussions on the intersection of Social Media and Healthcare.
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Social Media Implementation Checklist

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

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These Practices Are Using Social Media to Help Potential Patients Overcome Dental Anxiety 

These Practices Are Using Social Media to Help Potential Patients Overcome Dental Anxiety  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Fear of the dentist is still a significant roadblock that keeps millions of people from getting the care they need. Through social media, these practices are showing potential patients that dentistry isn’t as scary as they think.

For most people, while going to the dentist isn’t first on their list of favorite activities, they know it’s important enough to deal with the slight amount of stress involved. Modern technology has made dental checkups, cleanings and procedures easier and more pain-free than ever. However, for people with high dental anxiety and phobias, the prospect of a dental visit may be so unbearable that they avoid vital checkups that could prevent decades of pain and poor oral health.

According to a study by Colgate, it’s estimated that 9 to 15 percent of Americans cite anxiety and fear as the primary reason they don’t see the dentist. That’s around 35 million people!

As a dental professional, you’re probably all too familiar with the fears people have about checkups and treatment. You know that most of the reasons people have for avoiding the dentist aren’t logical, they’re rooted in emotion. You can recite facts about oral hygiene habits and the importance of dental care for years and still not change their minds. For an emotion-based obstacle, you need to create an emotion-based solution — and social media provides a way for you to do it.

Building Trust Through Social Media

Getting potential patients to overcome their fears and call or visit your practice is a matter of trust, and trust begins with familiarity. Social media gives you the opportunity to give people an in-depth look at your office and practice culture, your team’s personality, and how much you care about patient comfort and building relationships. Over time, as potential patients are exposed to more of your posts through your page and your current patients sharing them, you won’t be strangers to them anymore.

Check out what some of our clients had to say about building trust and helping people overcome dental anxiety through social media:

Payson Premier Dental

“Team members are frequently stopped in public places by patients and non-patients to tell us how much they love our posts and funny videos! We’ve become quite renowned in our small town and beyond. Social media has helped us establish our brand as a fun, caring family.
—Sarah Hubbard, Media Coordinator

Tulsa Braces

“We just wrapped up our first ‘Snap a Selfie’ campaign and it was a HUGE hit! When our patients check in to our practice and take a photo with our staff, it lets their Facebook friends know where they are, who they trust, and who we are. They can easily get our practice information so they can call and schedule a consultation themselves!”
—Carly Morrisett, Marketing Manager

Simpson Orthodontics

“We get the most connections with patients and parents through Facebook, and it’s generated a lot of positive buzz in the community. The more our name is out there, the more familiar and comfortable people have been with coming into our office.”
—Dr. Richard Simpson, Orthodontist

MT West Dentist
(formerly Ordelheide Dental)

“My most successful efforts come from posting pictures of staff and patients. These attracted more attention, interaction, comments and Likes. Our practice is located in a rural, small town so people like seeing familiar faces in our posts. It creates a huge boost in trust and communications.
—Kristi Scott, Marketing Coordinator

Not Just a Dentist, A Friend Too

Try to remember the last time you had to do something that caused you some anxiety. Did you have someone you knew and trusted, someone with experience, helping you along? Sometimes all it takes to turn something terrifying into something doable is knowing that you’ll have a friend supporting you.

You can be that friend to the people in your community that are avoiding the treatment they need because of dental fears. Reach out to them on social media, through your own pages and through your current patients, and show them that you’re the type of practice that puts relationships and the patient experience first.

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How Twitter is a vital tool in medicine

How Twitter is a vital tool in medicine | Social Media and Healthcare |

Recently, Twitter exploded with angry commentary directed at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) after the organization actively attempted to censor what was posted on Twitter during their annual sessions in San Diego. The fiasco began when an attendee posted a picture of slides on Twitter — in an attempt to “live Tweet” during a session on the recommended #ADA2017 hashtag. The @AmDiabetesAssn Twitter feed then began to post tweets instructing individual attendees to take down specific tweets that involved photography. In fact, the ADA Twitter feed at one point was dominated by their repeated requests for attendees to delete tweets. Quickly, the censorship became the focus of the hashtag — not the science. Comparisons to George Orwell’s “thought police” from his novel “1984” were made on social media platforms including Twitter.


What followed was nothing short of “Twitter outrage.” Twitter has become one of the most important tools in scientific information sharing in modern medicine. For many, meeting attendance is not always possible — some physicians have to stay back at their respective institutions and care for patients. Others who are based in another country may not be able to afford the time and cost associated with travel to the United States. There has been a huge push by most academic societies within my specialty of cardiovascular medicine to actively participate in the meetings from a virtual platform and guidelines for virtual participation have been published in Forbes. Many of us in cardiology are very active on Twitter, and we began to debate the merits of such an outdated and restrictive policy. After a matter of hours, numerous leaders in the cross section of Social media and medicine, such as Dr. Michael Gibson (@CMichaelGibson) became the most influential members of the #ADA2017 hashtag.


(Screenshot image via Healthcare Hashtag Project)

Most societies have worked diligently to engage members online and have promoted “live Tweeting” at their respective Annual Scientific Sessions. In fact, at the Heart Rhythm Society (@HRSonline), we actually provided attendees with a special “Social Media Guru” ribbon to add to their name badges to recognize active engagement. Next year, we plan to add Twitter handles to the registration process so that they appear on badges along with the attendee’s’ name and institution. The American Heart Association, the Society for Angiography and Intervention (@SCAI ) as well as the American College of Cardiology (@ACCinTouch) all actively promote live tweeting from their annual scientific sessions and have seen increased engagement online as a result of these policies.


(HRS 2017 Analytics via Screenshot from Symplur)


What are the benefits of live Tweeting?

1. Immediate and widespread dissemination of information. The average Twitter user expects a response in less than 15 minutes. When new findings and ideas are tweeted live from a meeting, a wider swath of clinicians will have access to new and potentially impactful information right away. Rather than only having 300 attendees hearing the late-breaking clinical trials presentations, hundreds of thousands more can benefit from new treatment insights in real time when live tweeting is promoted.

2. Collaboration and engagement. When we actively discuss newly presented data and treatment applications, we often begin to debate the merits and validity of new research. This process can sometimes take years. In the digital age, the debate can occur in “real time,” and clinicians from all around the world can participate in the discussion. These discussions often become mini “think tanks” and can lead to new applications and treatments for patients. At the very least, these collaborations and new online engagements lead to new (and in some cases) lifelong friendships.


3. Spur discussion that may lead to new research questions. When we discuss new data with a larger group of physicians, many perspectives and opinions can be considered. In many cases, there are differing opinions as to how best to apply research findings in the clinical arena. When there is disagreement and debate, new research questions and ideas are created. By engaging online around a particular subject, experts from around the world can build new studies and work together to solve clinical problems.

4. Sharing data may lead to faster advancement of therapies. One of the biggest problems with medicine today is that we all seem to live in our own silos — many scientists remain resistant to data sharing. Now that we are in an age of digital innovation and real-time data generation and dissemination, there is no reason we should not be sharing data. Rather than duplicating success and failures, if we foster cooperation, we will certainly significantly decrease the time it takes to produce new and potentially life-saving treatments for our patients. Social media and digital can play a huge role in data sharing and should be encouraged rather than censored. There is no longer a role for data hoarding in modern medicine.

What can we learn from the #ADA2017 fiasco?


1. Medicine is now digital, and any effort to change that will be poorly received.After years of gaining momentum, the digital world is now intertwined with medicine. As Dr. Eric Topol (@EricTopol ) has said in his book The Creative Destruction of Medicine: “The digital world has been in a separate orbit from our medical cocoon, and it’s time the boundaries be taken down … The problem is that it takes physicians so long to accept a radical change. And the lag is unacceptable.” No longer can we work and live in separate academic silos — the digital world is a part of medicine, and this will not change — our patients’ lives depend on it.

2. Societies and their leadership must be flexible and respond to changes in membership needs and priorities.  In short, listen to your members. The way societies are functioning is changing. Physicians and researchers have a choice when it comes to where and how to present their findings and novel research. Societies that are restrictive and put forward Draconian policies will see their numbers dwindle. No longer can an academic society survive solely on their previous reputation. Physician members are increasingly digitally engaged and expect innovation and forward thinking from their societies. It is vital that the “old guard” who has led our societies for decades makes way for the new digital physician — in short, “adapt or get out of our way.”

The American Diabetes Association has had a difficult weekend. Due to the lack of preparedness for a digital audience and a lack of connection with their members who are engaged in social media, the society’s academic sessions and all of the presented science has been overshadowed by a Twitter controversy. This has been a disservice to physicians, attendees and most importantly, the patients the society and its members tirelessly serve.

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How Providers Can Address Online Physician Reviews, Social Media

How Providers Can Address Online Physician Reviews, Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Online physician reviews are growing in popularity, with more patients leveraging different social media platforms to express their healthcare experience and learn more about their provider options. Based upon their social media management strategies, providers can make or break their online reputations by way of an increased online presence.

Patients are flocking to Yelp, the website famous for leaving restaurant reviews, to rate their doctors, and may use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites to discuss their experiences with friends. Medical-specific websites, such as Healthgrades, Vitals, and ZocDoc, have also emerged to offer more targeted and relevant views of patient satisfaction.

Some organizations have also developed their own online review services hosted on their individual websites. Separate from CAHPS surveys, these websites serve as a platform for patients to comment just as they would on Yelp or Healthgrades. Practice-managed review sites appeal to practices and hospitals because they keep patient comments within the organization’s control.

However, as the adage goes, everything on the internet is permanent. With healthcare consumerism on the rise, clinicians and hospital leaders are becoming concerned about tarnished reputations posted to online provider review websites.

To prevent and manage potential negative reviews – and use positive reviews advantageously – healthcare organizations must first understand the power these tools have. Organizational leaders can then develop their own management plans by understanding the typical protocol surrounding online reviews and assessing the way patients value reviews.


More patients than ever are using online provider review websites. In 2015, nearly one-third of patients were leaving online provider review comments, up from one-quarter of patients in 2012, according to a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

A separate survey from Software Advice in 2016 found that 59 percent of patients look at these reviews at least sometimes. Seventy-seven percent of patients use these reviews prior to making a treatment decision.

Patients place a lot of value on online provider reviews, especially reviews that are independent of provider organizations and hospitals. The Journal of General Internal Medicine study found that patients perceive reviews on Yelp or Healthgrades as more credible than those posted on a provider website.

Conversely, providers find more value in reviews collected and vetted by their parent organizations. The study also found that nearly 75 percent of providers find online reviews stressful and think they put a strain on the patient-provider relationship.

Although patients certainly value the insights offered in online reviews, there is little conclusive evidence that these reviews accurately measure quality care.

A 2017 analysis of Yelp reviews and clinical quality measures (preventable readmissions and mortality) showed that Yelp is an indicator of hospital quality. The analysis revealed a strong positive relationship between high Yelp ratings and low preventable readmissions.

In contrast, a separate study showed that online provider reviews are not always reliable. The investigation looked at reviews on different platforms – Healthgrades, Vitals, and Ratemds – and found the reviews are not always consistent. A positive review on Ratemds does not necessarily mean there will be positive reviews on Vitals. This suggests that online provider review websites cannot always be trusted to indicate clinical quality.

Although both studies yielded different findings, they both acknowledged that more research is required to assess the credibility of online provider reviews. Online review websites are in their infancy, and therefore claims about their credibility are not yet conclusive.

That is not to say that healthcare organizations should not take these reviews seriously. First, reviews – whether left on Yelp or a provider website – do give insight into at least one patient’s experience and may help shape improvement efforts.

Second, online reviews contribute to the online presence most healthcare organizations are cultivating. Providers must respect these reviews to manage their online reputations.

Source: Thinkstock


Regardless of whether doctors value or enjoy these public forums, online provider reviews are likely not going away.

Developing an online reputation management strategy can help organizational leaders deliver actionable advice for clinicians who may need to ramp up their patient experience efforts. These strategies often help providers maintain a more positive digital presence.

At Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, the number one rule for engaging with online reviews is that providers should not respond to comments on their own, according to the system’s Senior Physician Development Consultant Mary Reid, RN, BSN.

“We don’t want the doctor going onto the social media sites and responding right there,” Reid said to “We handle that in marketing, which is why we have someone looking at the sites at all times. We want that marketing staffer to catch those before anyone else would.”

Instead, Reid and her team are the first to triage negative comments. They then pass those comments down the appropriate chain of command.

From there, department leaders and marketing staff frame the criticism in a positive light, stating that it is an opportunity for improvement.

“We’re positive when we show them that negative comment,” she explained. “We don’t just say, ‘you are bad and don’t do this.’ We show it all in a positive way and say, ‘let’s make sure this doesn’t happen again.’”

It can be difficult to capture all reviews, especially as patients express their opinions on multiple forums. Patients may be using Facebook, Twitter, and Google to leave comments in addition to voicing their opinions on targeted healthcare websites, which can leave consumer relations experts with too many sites to browse each day.  

Miami Children’s Health System’s Web Marketing Director Robert Prieto employed aggregation software to help him keep up with the influx of comments.

“We could get control on Yelp and get notifications whenever that happens, but we were finding it was happening on Yelp, on Vitals, on Google,” Prieto said.

“It was all over the place,” he continued. “It was a little out of control trying to aggregate all of this feedback we were getting that was important to read and categorize and send off to administrative stakeholders.”

Prieto and his team were able to triage certain patient comments because they received all of their online reviews on a single platform. If a patient had a specific actionable problem, Prieto and other hospital staff could address it immediately.

The team was also able to determine if a comment was credible using the software, overcoming one significant challenge many hospitals are facing with online reviews. Viewing the comment source and redirecting the commenter toward the proper channels helped Prieto weed out unviable comments and tackle the more actionable ones.


Healthcare consumers are increasingly expecting their providers to maintain an accessible, effective online presence.

At the very least, healthcare organizations of all sizes should maintain a practice websitewhere patients can learn about treatment offerings, obtain directions to facilities, find staff biographies and credentials, and seek other pertinent information. These websites also often include a link to the online patient portal.

Healthcare organizations are also dipping their toes in the waters of social media in order to reach patients during their everyday activities. Between Facebook and Twitter profiles, entities are using new methods for connecting with their patients.

“Physicians and their respective organizations are moving in droves to reach their patients through phone, computer, tweeting, texting, and posting,” HIMSS explained on its website.

These digital platforms can help drive health literacy for patients, the organization contended.

“[Physicians] can discuss the importance of vaccinations,” HIMSS suggested. “They can raise consumer awareness about healthy habits. Physicians are called to serve their community through their insights delivered in a blog post, video, or other mediums.”

Wake Forest Baptist recently tapped into social media as a part of its patient education and marketing efforts, according to Vice President of Marketing Jeff House.

“Our main goals in the marketing department and in our communications are really to educate consumers,” he explained.

“There’s a real mission at this organization to improve the healthcare of our market and of our patients and a big part of that comes from simply educating them about the diseases, the disorders, the conditions, the symptoms, the signs, as well as the options they have available to them.”

While social media and a strong digital presence can improve patient outreach, healthcare professionals must remain mindful of patient privacy. HIPAA regulations still apply to these new media, so protected health information (PHI) and other individual health cases should never be discussed on unauthorized channels.

Instead, all online platforms should be treated as completely public, even if clinicians and hospital leaders are communicating via a direct message. There is a credible risk with social media sites because healthcare organizations may be unaware of the level of encryption and technical safeguards being utilized.

Social media is far better suited for public health campaigns and general wellness messages. Encouragement to receive a flu shot or alerting patients about a new MRI machine, for example, are positive and effective uses for social media.

Social media and online review websites are becoming formative players in healthcare. Not only do they have the power to drive organizational marketing, but they can also illuminate important opportunities for provider improvement.

The healthcare industry is still determining how to best manage social media in healthcare, especially online provider reviews. However, that does not mean these channels should not be ignored.

Practice and hospital leaders must understand that social media and review websites are important tools for patients and use that knowledge to develop a plan for creating a positive online presence across the organization.

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Scleroderma and the Good, Bad, and Ugly of Coping Via Social Media

Scleroderma and the Good, Bad, and Ugly of Coping Via Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Facebook recently announced it has reached 2 billion monthly users worldwide. This means that a quarter of the world is using Facebook. Social media has become one of the main platforms of communication for many in this day and age. It is one of the most powerful tools used to reach a large number of people and receive instant feedback. It allows a diverse range of people to come together based on things they have in common.

Scleroderma groups are growing day by day, and they offer different forums of advice for patients. But, like everything else in life, this is both positive and negative.

For many, as soon as they open their eyes in the morning, their phone is the first thing they check. If what we see on our news feeds is something negative, it can affect how the rest of our day goes. For chronically ill patients, it’s very important to start the day with a clear head, since we face many obstacles and frustrations. Our mind is one of the single-most powerful muscles in our body, and we have to be careful what we expose it to.

Social media’s common ground

Some patients use Facebook as a way to vent about a variety of topics pertaining to their disease. It can be an easy way to keep others aware and connect with those who understand exactly what we’re going through. But sometimes it can make one seem very negative if they share only the bad things that happen. A whirlwind of different things happen to our bodies, and social media can be an appealing outlet when those in real life don’t understand. It’s a quick way to garner instant sympathy. But the attention can be addicting and can mislead the patient to use social media as a main coping mechanism.

When I was first diagnosed with scleroderma, I joined many groups. But soon after, I left them because I couldn’t handle seeing all of the different things that possibly could go wrong. I also grew tired of all the complaining, and other patients encourage complaining because they are also feeling like crap. This creates a vicious cycle of misery, and when you zone in on all of the horrible things scleroderma has done to you, it can be hard to enjoy small moments of happiness right before your eyes.

That’s why I decided to create my own Facebook page so I could share my trials AND tribulations, while educating the masses. Sometimes I do lay out my frustrations, but I try not to make that the main focus of the mission. It can really affect my friends, family, and followers if I’m in pain or sad, because they may feel helpless while viewing my struggle through a screen.

We have to find a way to cope besides spilling our hearts out online. Yes, it is nice to vent to other people, but there are other ways to clear our heads. Having a conversation with someone about what’s going on is a good way to talk out what you’re going through; it may be with someone you met online. Writing down all of your emotions and complaints can help cleanse your thoughts. Seeing a psychologist also is a great way to get a medical professional’s perspective and advice on how to handle the variety of emotions we go through. Inspire is a great online forum for searching questions and topics specifically pertaining to scleroderma.

My favorite way to clear my head is by going on a walk or writing. I understand that not everyone wants to constantly hear about my ever-failing body, so I’ve found ways to release these emotions without social media.

Find something you can focus your energy on and try to release some of those negative emotions. The life we live is far from easy, devastating at times, but we are being recreated through all of this, and it’s too late for “what ifs.” Scleroderma is teaching us something new every day; we just have to pay attention and gain what we need to strengthen our situation.


Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.

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Social Media, Value and the Future of Healthcare Communications

Social Media, Value and the Future of Healthcare Communications | Social Media and Healthcare |

While nobody can predict what changes the American Health Care Act will bring, two healthcare trends seem certain to continue under any environment: the move toward more value and outcomes-based care, and health consumers’ growing adoption of digital and social media tools. Though motivated by different forces, I see these trends as deeply intertwined, and predict their continued convergence will have major implications for healthcare communications.

In a fee-for-service environment, everybody is incentivized based on the volume of care they provide. When a previously treated patient returns to the hospital, the hospital gets to perform more services and send a new bill. But increasingly now, doctors and hospitals’ incentives are becoming aligned with the quality of the care and overall population health outcomes. In Medicare ACO arrangements, for example, health systems that cut costs while meeting health benchmarks for their patients get to share in the savings. A patient’s re-admission eats away at profits.

We’re seeing a similar trend in pharma too, where drug companies are experimenting with value-based contracts  with insurers that require them to return money if patients fail to achieve expected results. Pressure on pricing is also shifting attention to outcomes.

For providers and drug makers alike, this new environment means it’s no longer enough to simply market and sell treatments. Our industry must also think holistically about patients. If you sell a drug that a patient forgets to take, or if a patient’s poor health habits erode the benefits of his treatment, outcomes will suffer. Factors like adherence and lifestyle become as central to the equation as sales volume and efficacy.

It’s well established that communication skills and regular contact between provider and patient help improve these outcomes. And that’s where the second trend comes in: the rise of mobile health (mHealth) and healthcare social media. Patients are adopting a stunning new range of interactive tools like medication reminder apps, activity trackers, social media channels and online forums to help themselves manage daily health needs. Much has been written about how these tools are empowering patients to become more active participants in their care. But less appreciated is how these digital and social tools can also bring efficiency and scale to healthcare communications. Patient-doctor relationships were once confined to exam room visits and Sunday newspaper columns. Today’s digital world offers hundreds—if not thousands—of additional touch points.

These tools offer tremendous opportunities to deepen relationships and communication, but also add to the skills clinicians, insurers and pharma companies must master.  

Let’s take a closer look at the new communication priorities required to thrive in the new value landscape.

Understand patient needs

Drug companies convene patient focus groups to test ad campaigns, but this level of examination can be applied to all parts of the patient experience. Social listening is one powerful tool to accomplish this. You’d be surprised at how much detail people share about their conditions in online forums. Through these messages, we can construct intimate portraits of a condition, including what information people seek at different stages of their journeys and the common pitfalls where their adherence gets disrupted.

Engage directly with consumers

Although more and more healthcare industry companies are becoming active on social media channels, few are truly exploring the possibilities of two-way communications. We can improve by asking open-ended questions on Facebook and then listen to the responses. We can look for people seeking help online, then leverage company expertise to provide answers. We can produce live streaming events that use social media to facilitate dialogue that builds relationships and trust.

We can also help by training doctors—the most trusted figures in the health ecosystem—to be more involved with patient communities on social media. The primary care visit offers doctors a face-to-face opportunity to explain the importance of diet and exercise to patients. But imagine how much more adherent patients might be if the doctor could reinforce this message continually throughout the year? Or how we could improve population health if reminders about routine screenings came from intimately trusted authorities. With strategic use of Twitter, Facebook or Snapchat for educational messaging, this becomes easy—and efficient.

Create content that resonates

The Internet is full of factual information that nobody actually reads because they’re too busy devouring misinformation that’s fun to share and click on. But when health outcomes matter, we must compel patients to tune in to health messaging they might otherwise ignore. We can compete in this battle for mindshare by weaving health issues into evocative narratives of real people, or by expressing complicated scientific concepts in relatable everyday terms. Selecting the right spokesperson is another way to capture attention.

Meet people where they are

We already know that well-run patient service programs help people navigate the obstacles of starting a new treatment. The next step is to make sure these programs integrate seamlessly into patients’ lives. For most demographics, this means optimizing for smartphone use. As mobile messaging continues to grow, we should explore chat extensions for nurse navigator hotlines.

Similarly, it’s important to make sure information and programs are available on the platforms our audiences use most. More pharma companies are establishing branded presences on Facebook, the world’s most popular social media platform. And now that scrolling ISI is available in Facebook ads, it is getting easier for pharma to participate.

Don’t shy away from difficult topics

Increasingly, social media is becoming the place where patients go to sound off about concerns with pricing and access. My colleague Meg Alexander, head of Risk & Reputation Management at inVentiv Health Communications, recommends companies be prepared to communicate about the value their medicines deliver to stakeholders who use Twitter or Facebook to raise concerns about affordability.  They must also make out-of-pocket cost assistance information easier to find and simpler to understand. In terms of building relationships, there’s a world of difference between demonstrating you are listening and appearing to dodge difficult questions. Furthermore, patients cite drugs costs as a major factor in nonadherence, so raising the visibility of assistance programs has the potential to affect outcomes.

Don’t Lose Sight of the Human Element

While it’s easy to get excited about new gadgets, remember that the overall goal of mHealth and social media must be to deepen relationships and communication. For example, telemedicine can connect elderly and disabled patients with specialists who would be hard to visit in person. Step counters come with apps that create social communities that encourage participation. Be wary of advances that aim to displace human interaction. The power of these new technologies is realized when there’s a caring, concerned person on each end. A recent study found that simple medication reminder apps did not improve adherence. In contrast, Medisafe, a medication reminder app that alerts family or friends about missed doses, claims 71 percent of users improved adherence after adding its “Medfriend” feature.

As the healthcare system continues its shift towards value-based models, genuine, personal communication will only increase in importance. Where writing a prescription used to be the end of interaction, we should now see it as the beginning of a relationship. Digital and social media tools must be recognized as a standard part of quality care. 

Julian Suchman is a digital strategist at inVentiv Health Communications.

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The delicate practice of social media for doctors

The delicate practice of social media for doctors | Social Media and Healthcare |

A study by researchers at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, US found that 72% of fresh urology graduates had public Facebook profiles of which 40% contained “potentially objectionable” content.

This included pictures of the doctors’ drunk and medical ethics violations such as revealing their patient’s health information. The study brought to light the concern that a physician’s social media use has the potential to break patient trust.

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

Many have examined the implications of HCPs utilising social media

The issue has been a concern for the medical profession for some time now with many GPs surgeries, hospitals, universities and medical societies creating guidelines on what they deem as inappropriate online behaviour.

For example, the American Medical Association issued guidelines in 2010encouraging doctors to "consider separating personal and professional content online" and reiterated the importance of patient privacy. Despite this, Koo is uncertain how many doctors "even know that guidelines exist."

The study found one case in which a patient’s x-ray and name were included in a social media post. Another study conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden found that of 13,000 tweets by 237 doctors, 6% were a potential breach of patient confidentiality.

Interestingly, in a study by researchers at the University of California San Francisco, in which 48 medical boards were asked which of ten social media scenarios would prompt an investigation, most said misleading claims about treatment outcomes would. In a separate case in January, a Canadian nurse, who posted about her grandfather’s inadequate care in another clinic, was penalised.

Maintaining a healthy work-personal life balance

It can be difficult not to cross the line into prohibiting a doctor’s right to share their lives or their opinions however as under “potentially objectionable” content, posts expressing views on religion and politics were also included in the New Hampshire study.

“No one expects doctors to never post an opinion,” Koo said. "We realise they don't live in a vacuum.”

Dr Matthew DeCamp, from the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics in Baltimore suggests doctors "ask yourself if this is something you really want in a public space.” Some doctors have mastered this balance well and created stellar social media presences.

Most guidelines seem to contain the same key behavioral rules and recommendations. Firstly all doctors must be accountable for all content posted on any of their social medical accounts. Secondly it is advised that doctors do not accept friend or follow requests from current or previous patients and in general avoid interacting with them online.

Additionally, patient photos or patient-specific information should not be posted online under any circumstances. Doctors should also be mindful that others may look up to them for general medical advice and so if they do post any, it should be up to date and as accurate as possible.

However social media can also help the medical profession in general as a means to market services and promote good health practices and there are a number of techniques that can help create the best website for a medical centre. MIMS

Art Jones's curator insight, July 24, 2:42 PM

Doctors, Social Media and Patient Trust

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The New 'Social Media' Surgery Patient Is Not Who You Would Expect

The New 'Social Media' Surgery Patient Is Not Who You Would Expect | Social Media and Healthcare |

There’s a new type of patient coming into the offices of Dover, OH, facial plastic surgeon David Hartman, MD—one that he describes as a “more informed client.” The source of their newfound education? A rather unlikely medium.

“Social media’s impact on our first-time visitors is giving way to the arrival of a more educated client,” he says. “The light of understanding in the eyes of first-timers is much more evident today, because nearly all of them have already seen videos, studied before-and-after photos, and read reviews before I ever meet them. I love this.”

While Dr. Hartman says he believes it is still important to cover the basics in the discussions of procedure options, he thinks the "pre-informed" clients are far more capable of asking personalized and relevant questions—mainly because they have already been contemplating details of a prospective procedure and been imagining themselves trying it out. Plus, there’s a pretty solid personal connection.

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“The other great advantage is that clients coming to our practice already know us before they actually meet us from what they have been able to learn online. They have already identified with us and that is why they have chosen to come in and visit. They are able to get a very balanced view of what to expect—the risks, the benefits, the alternatives and the limitations—from their online research efforts, which, in my opinion, makes them a better client.”

Regardless of what plastic surgeons are using social media for, Livingston, NJ, plastic surgeon John Paul Tutela, MD, says there’s no denying that the conversation is changing. “People, in general, are getting more open about plastic surgery—it’s a much more liberal conversation. The stigmas have dissipated and social media has a lot to do with it. People are witnessing and experiencing a lot of other people’s lives and they are more comfortable thinking about plastic surgery and discussing it. It’s not just limited to plastic surgery either; you see it in so many areas of beauty, including hair, makeup, injectables. It is in so many aspects of life.”

It's a move that Dr. Tutela says helps the aesthetic industry as a whole—as long as it’s done well. “In general, you shouldn’t be able to see good plastic surgery, but you can see bad plastic surgery from across the room. On social media, if it’s a disaster, which unfortunately pops up more, that obviously doesn’t help the industry. However, I really think that, the more that people know about what’s available, the better off we are. Social media is fueling things—there’s no denying that.”

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It’s also a trend that’s hitting all angles of aesthetics, and not just the surgical ones. As New York dermatologist Sejal K. Shah, MD, says, the social media-meets-medicine-trend is “extremely” common. “Social media is a big part of many people's lives and it strongly influences what people are aware of and want. Just as people purchase things—clothing, accessories, makeup, etc.— because they saw or heard about them on social media, they also request cosmetic treatments that they learned about on social media.”

Not convinced? Just do a quick search on social media. “Another way we know social media plays a role is that more and more cosmetic dermatologists and surgeons are utilizing it by posting treatment videos and before-and-after images,” Dr. Shah says.

And no area is the “comfort” level greater than when it comes to the more noninvasive anti-aging treatments.

“The stigma of having Botox, or wanting to have Botox, is fading,” says Greenwich, CT, dermatologist Kim Nichols, MD. “Women are more comfortable in having Botox treatments to treat unique solutions, such as having Botox to prevent signs of premature aging, treat migraines, and a solution to excessive sweating in their underarms, hands and feet. The stigma of being a person who ‘has had Botox’ is outdated because my clients realize how subtle and natural their look appears when they are treated with Botox. I’ve also seen more men talking about Bro-Tox, and feeling more comfortable in having it done, especially in their “eleven-lines” [the space in between the two eyebrows, directly above their nose]. This creates a more rested appearance without appearing like you’ve had work done.”

While open conversation is almost never a bad thing, not all doctors are convinced it’s a slam-dunk. “In my opinion, this [an open conversation on social media] is both good and bad,” Dr. Shah says. “The good part is that it informs the consumer about treatments available and their own comfort level with specific treatments. Also, when they come into the office they may at least have some baseline knowledge. The bad part is that patients often request treatments that are not appropriate for them and it can be difficult to change their opinion. Additionally, because anyone can post to social media patients often don't know the difference between a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon and a non-certified provider. They may seek out a non-certified provider whose posts they saw on social media, but who may not be entirely capable of addressing and treating their concerns appropriately resulting in adverse effects."

Richmond, VA, facial plastic surgeon Michael Godin, MD, sums it up pretty simply: “My impression is that social media is most important for building the FUTURE of a plastic surgery practice and, in that way, it is a very good thing. It is a conduit for younger patients to come into the practice. How well does it work? Check back with me in a year and I’ll let you know.”

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Guest Post: 5 Best Practices for Your Facebook Account

Guest Post: 5 Best Practices for Your Facebook Account | Social Media and Healthcare |

With just under 4 billion daily users on the internet, it feels overwhelming enough managing a website, let alone jumping into the high-speed stream of social media. It may seem easier to put a wall up in front of your practice and shut the crowds out...but with ninety-two percent of patients reading reviews online, and eighty percent of consumers trusting online reviews for recommendations, shutting out social media is costing you time and money.

For the modern day provider, a strong online presence is essential to the management of your patients and practice. But with so many platforms to choose from, where do you even start?

Since 2004, the largest platform in the social media universe is Facebook. Facebook is everywhere—with almost 2 billion daily users. Having a Facebook Business page should be considered an essential element of any social media plan. It’s a no-brainer.

From your Facebook page, you can post a large variety of content, link directly to your site, send and receive messages, have online reviews, network with others in your industry, and so much more.

If you already have a Facebook page for your practice, good for you! Simply review each of the steps below and make sure your Facebook page is following best practices. 

But if you still have that wall up in front of your practice, grab a sledge hammer, and get ready for some demo.

Let’s start with the basics:

  1. Page Username: After you first sign up for Facebook, you will need to put in the name of your practice and pick a username. Your username should be three things: simple, easy, and searchable. Keep your username as similar to the practice name as possible so that your current patients, and those searching for you, can locate you or tag you on Facebook easily.
  2. Profile/Cover Photo: You can ask anyone - the first thing that most people see when they go to a Facebook page is the profile/cover photo. If you go with a graphic image, quality is always more important that quantity. Make sure it is a high enough resolution to look good. If you do go with a photo of your practice or staff, then 60% of the photo should be of your subject. Be aware of the message your graphic or photo might send and stay professional, but have some fun too!
  3. Content is King: Sound familiar? This phrase, first coined by Bill Gates in 1996, is the law by which the the social media world is ruled. Your content carries messaging, your brand, the ability to connect with an audience, and should be a large priority of your page. Don’t be afraid to try different forms of content (variation is exciting!) and try out the tools Facebook offers to help schedule and create content right inside your page. One popular new form of communication on Facebook is Facebook Live. Check out the Solutionreach Facebook page for our most recent Facebook Live video to see this new form of content creation. 
  4. Network: Let your current patients know your page is up, invite them to follow and like your page, and to share your page with others. Find others in your industry to network with. By creating partnerships and connecting to the pages of other practices, they will do the same for you. Together you can help each other grow your audience and exposure.
  5. Engage: Humanize your page by responding to reviews with a friendly, professional voice. Always respond to comments, ask questions in your posts, run contests, post trivia, video, and get creative. Reach out past the barrier of the screen and connect with the person on the other side.

We know it can seem a bit daunting. But you can do this! Start with these five basic steps and work your way from there. Every hiker will tell you that the trail always seems more difficult until you get started, the trick is to get started.

Want to break down that wall? 1, 2, 3...GO!

Ready to take your Facebook usage to the next level? Read our checklist "11 Tips to Create the Perfect Social Media Post."

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Healthcare Marketing Part 1 of 5

A look how healthcare marketing has changed in recent years. Also a review at how traditional media can still be a viable lead generation source for healthcare…
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Why Your Practice Needs Social Media |

Why Your Practice Needs Social Media | | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media has become a primary method of marketing today, which means there is no escaping the need for this tool in your plastic surgery practice. Social media is used by practices and businesses of all sizes because it is one of the most effective methods of patient engagement and referrals. With millions of people using social media channels today, there is almost no better way of getting your practice name into the public eye. Here are four good reasons to make social media part of your marketing strategy.

More Exposure

Your presence on the major social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram puts your practice name in front of the more potential patients than nearly any other medium. In fact, patients in search of a plastic surgeon today are likely to check those hotspots almost as quickly as Googling physician directory and review sites. By making it as easy as possible for patients to find you wherever they might search, you can grow your practice without paying exorbitant amounts of money for the exposure.

More Engagement

Social media is designed for interaction between physicians and patients, which allows you to build trust and confidence with current and prospective patients that may find you. This is a perfect opportunity to highlight your facility, your staff and your procedures in a casual way that your patients will easily be able to relate to and understand. Patients can also comment and like your postings to feel like they are a part of your inner circle of connections.

More Education

Social media is also another opportunity for you to educate your patients about the procedures and treatments that are currently available. Facebook and other channels provide you the chance to whet a patient’s appetite for a procedure you offer and then encourage them to click on your website to learn more. The social media channels are also an effective place to draw attention to the procedures you are offering as a special promotion for the month or to introduce new treatments when they arrive at your office.

More Website Links

While your Facebook or Instagram page can offer plenty of pertinent information about your practice, converting potential patients into real leads involves getting them to click on your website. With the right enticements on your social media pages, you can increase clicks on your website as prospective patients seek out the blogs and other information you hint at on your social networks. Once they have arrived at your website and see all you have to offer, those prospects can be transformed into current patients.

More Analytics

With any type of marketing, analytics are essential to know whether you are getting the biggest bang for your advertising buck. This makes social media especially attractive from a marketing standpoint because tracking is already built right in. The numbers gathered from your social media activity can be invaluable to discover how your website is performing, where weaknesses in your marketing efforts might be and where you need to go to market your practice more efficiently.

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Best Practices for Physicians When Posting on Social Media

Best Practices for Physicians When Posting on Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

While having a social media presence is a relatively new idea for physicians, advantages to building an online presence as a practitioner include making professional connections and taking control of your own reputation. If you have decided that you want to be on social media, the immediate consideration is how to do it well. It’s worthwhile spending a little energy deciding what your social media strategy will be.

Start simple. There is no need to join Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms all at once. Each platform has its own personality and culture, and each takes time to understand and use to your advantage. The medical profession inherently carries risk of burnout, so don’t let tending to social media keep you away from practicing.

Keep it positive and helpful. If you are representing yourself as a professional, you need to establish a positive and informative presence. Steer away from controversial topics and focus on helping people. This is especially important to consider if you are interested in locum tenens and other professional opportunities.

Connect with readers. Decide whom you are speaking to and use language that educates without alienating your audience. Are you talking to moms? Other medical professionals? Prospective employers? Consider your readers carefully with every post you make.

Include images. This is a social media rule that applies across the board, whether personal or professional. Pictures attract readers. A 2014 study on eMarketer confirms that 87 percent of shared Facebook posts include photos. For potential professional employers or locum tenens recruiters, be sure to include a picture of yourself.

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Social Media For Physicians

Social Media For Physicians | Social Media and Healthcare |

With studies showing that a majority of workers opt to use social media in the workplace, it’s no surprise that many physicians are beginning to integrate social media into his or her practice. While social media for physicians is a niche market, it’s still a rapidly growing niche market, and many physicians are using it to better their practice. While we don’t recommend that you live-tweet during a difficult prognosis, or Snapchat during a strenuous surgery, there are certainly a variety of ways that you can use social media to your advantage. Below are just a few social media for physicians that you might want to incorporate into the workplace.

Social Media For Physicians

Using social media is a great way to market your practice.


Probably one of the fastest growing social media tools for physicians, Doximity is quickly becoming the hub for medical professionals. This networking site is a great way to connect with former classmates, future coworkers, and potential employers. Similar to LinkedIn, with Doximity you’ll be able to interact with those in the same profession as well as get tips and tricks from your peers. If a new medication or procedure hits the market, you’ll be able to use social media to stay in the loop.


Speaking of LinkedIn, if you want to connect with other healthcare professionals, the 2003 social media outlet should be at the top of your list. When you think of social media for physicians, you should think of LinkedIn. This polished, user-friendly social media site allows you to connect with peers and employers, as well as join groups that feature like-minded professionals who will post a variety of articles related to the health profession.


DailyRounds is a great way for your practice to interact with one another practice, share knowledge and research findings, and access an extensive drug database. Similar to Slack, which is used in professional settings, DailyRounds is catered towards medical facilities that are looking to remain connected. Doctors can use DailyRounds to exchange wisdom, upload and view medical case files, and access a drug database. You can also chitchat and network on the desktop or through iOS and Android apps. This is a great social media tool for physicians so you can keep up-to-date on information and keep the lines of communication open with other practices and physicians in the industry.


Really? Youtube? Yes, in fact, many physicians are using Youtube as a way to teach new physicians as well as promote themselves in the social media realm. In addition to educating and reassuring existing patients, a YouTube channel can also bring new clients to your door. Using video clips, you can explain illnesses, perform exercises, or demonstrate early detection techniques. You’re a professional, so make sure you’re investing in professional-grade equipment so you can make videos that look clean and crisp. Social media for physicians is a great way to show off your skills while growing your online presence.


Similar to Doximity, Sermo is another social media for physicians designed to connect healthcare professionals all across the globe. The goal is medical crowdsourcing, like a Quora for doctors. You can ask real-life medical questions and get real-life answers from hundreds of your peers. However, one way that Sermo is better than Quora is that it only for physicians and you can ask questions anonymously. This is a great way to help other physicians as well as get advice and input from literally thousands of other healthcare professionals around the world. With Sermo, your current staff grows exponentially and will help you provide the best possible care.


Having trouble keeping track of all these new social media platforms? Luckily, with Hootsuite, you can keep track of all your social media on one site. With Hootsuite you can keep track of various social media profile and even see the growth and engagement rate of your accounts.

Note: While we still don’t recommend that you spend a large portion of time on social media, there are still many ways to use it to your advantage. As always, the patient comes first, so make sure you’re giving them your full and undivided attention at all times.

So, there you have it our list of social media for physicians. What social media platforms are you using? Which do you find the most helpful? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Content Marketing in Medicine - A Step-by-Step Guide

How physicians can use content marketing to attract referrals and improve patient satisfaction
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Socialized Medicine: Using Social Media for Healthcare 

Socialized Medicine: Using Social Media for Healthcare  | Social Media and Healthcare |

A recent survey found that more than 40 percent of consumers took information gathered from social media into consideration when making decisions about their healthcare—with twice as many people under the age of 30 using social media for health-related discussions.

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others provide instant, universal access to a megaphone that can reach as many as two billion people in an instant.

There are few things more personal than someone’s healthcare experience or that of their child, so healthcare providers need to leverage social media to make connections with patients and parents before they are in need of medical attention.

A prime example of a healthcare practice fostering positive social media relationships is PM Pediatrics, a specialized urgent care for children and young adults. Senior Medical Advisor Dr. Christina Johns, one of the group’s pediatric emergency specialists, is the growing network’s public voice on social media. Through her focus on messaging to parents (like herself), she has created an extension of the PM Pediatrics brand on which she shares a combination of original content and published articles on everything from packing a school lunch to how to talk about “the birds and the bees.”

The Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts are all managed by Dr. Christina, with creative input from a variety of sources. The posts personalize the PM Pediatrics brand, adding a human touch to the practices that span four states and serve a variety of local communities.

“I see a lot of patients in my practice, and social media is an extension of my work helping children, just in a different format,” says Dr. Christina. “When you’re on TV or in the newspapers, you can reach a ton of people in a very short period of time, and potentially have a large impact on child health. Social media is similar, but without the barriers to accessing a TV show or a daily newspaper. You can turn it on whenever you want. It’s a fun extension of bedside clinical medicine.”

While the posts focus mainly on tips and information sharing, the content also promotes the unique benefits of choosing PM Pediatrics: The offices are built with child patients in mind, from the size of the examination tables and fun themes—including medieval castles, jungle safari, western and more—to the medical staff’s specialized pediatric emergency training. These posts successfully convey the approachable and friendly atmosphere of every PM Pediatrics office, which helps parents feel comfortable before they even arrive—and that can make all the difference when they choose medical care for their child.

Social media has built-in benefits for any brand—except for the time invested in creating the content, social media is free, always on and accessible, and easy to update. The most successful brands are those that pay close attention to posts and questions, and respond in a timely manner when necessary.

Most likely, the majority of people—and children in particular—will need access to emergency healthcare at some point. Social media is proving to be an effective way for healthcare providers to connect with future patients and build the foundation of long-lasting relationships.

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Differentiating Your Eye Care Practice Through Localized Marketing

There are many ways independent practitioners can market and differentiate themselves from large chains. One way is to provide patients with “Wow” moments. Ano…
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Healthcare & Social Media: What’s the Word?

Healthcare & Social Media: What’s the Word? | Social Media and Healthcare |

The days of taking a friend or family member aside to discreetly discuss medical concerns and assorted healthcare issues has seemingly been replaced by public crowd-sourcing, thanks in large part to the convenience of social media. The goal, presumably, for people posing healthcare questions on social media, is to gather responses and advice from those that have been in similar situations, or possibly a free opinion from medical professionals, both of which seem to offset the apparently antiquated concept of privacy.

However, as anyone with a social media account can attest, knowledgeable responses are often mixed with, or lost among, endless anecdotes, hyperbole and humor. Obviously, relying on non-scientific medical advice from laypersons on the internet can have dangerous results, yet healthcare questions on social media are as prevalent as food pictures and cat videos.

It isn’t all bad news, there are also positive ways that social media and healthcare are able to work together. For instance, with the wide reach of social media, healthcare professionals are able to connect with numbers far larger than their real-life patients to better promote healthy lifestyles. Additionally, should major outbreaks of disease occur, healthcare professionals are able to provide potentially lifesaving information in real time to large sections of society.

Social media is also gaining popularity with those looking for recommendations on healthcare professionals, everything from initial visits to second opinions. According to the Huffington Post:  . . . “a recent survey of 1,060 U.S. adults by PricewaterhouseCoopers on healthcare and social media showed that 42% of consumers have used social media to access health-related consumer reviews (e.g. of treatments or physicians). Nearly 25% have posted about their health experience, and 20% have joined a health forum or community. The survey also showed that more than 70% claimed to appreciate receiving assistance from healthcare providers via social media with referrals and appointment scheduling. What is most impressive is the fact that information found via social media could affect their decisions to seek a second opinion among 45% of consumers.

“From the perspective of the healthcare provider, the Internet and social media provide the professional with a platform to share information, discuss healthcare policies and practice issues with colleagues, engage with the general public in promoting health behavior, and educate and interact with patients and caregivers. Such activities can potentially improve health outcomes, maintain a functional professional network, provided updated knowledge and awareness of developments and discoveries, and bring the healthcare professional into closer contact with the community.”

The site referralMD offers a curated list of 30 statistics (click link for entire list) on social media use by patients and healthcare providers:

  • 32% of U.S. users post about their friends and family’s health experiences on social media.
  • 29% of patients viewing health information through social media are viewing other patients’ experiences with their disease.
  • 24% are viewing health-related videos/images posted by patients.
  • 74% of internet users engage on social media. 80% of those internet users are specifically looking for health information, and nearly half are searching for information about a specific doctor or health professional.
  • 27% of patients comment or post status updates based on health-related experiences.
  • 30% of adults are likely to share information about their health on social media sites with other patients, 47% with doctors, 43% with hospitals, 38% with a health insurance company and 32% with a drug company.
  • 88% of physicians use the Internet and social media to research pharmaceutical, biotech and medical devices.
  • 53% of physician practices in the United States have a Facebook page.
  • 50% of healthcare apps available to consumers can be downloaded for free and are produced by a variety of developers

Healthcare has changed with social media due to easier and faster connectivity, the formation of specific communities with regard to shared experience, and an increase in marketing visibility—by both healthcare providers and patients. While basing an individual’s healthcare path upon crowd-sourced results may not be the ideal way to utilize social media, the potential for positive sharing of information between patients and providers (and the demand for it) is quickly gaining in momentum, and the possibilities for the future appear full of promise.

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Tension points and clinical trials recruitment

At TensionPoints we have developed a novel social media methodology for clinical trials recruitment based on established consumer engagement principles. We bel…
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Web-savvy patients shape physicians’ digital do’s and don’ts

Web-savvy patients shape physicians’ digital do’s and don’ts | Social Media and Healthcare |

It seems as though everything is online, or will be someday. And in a technologically advanced society, physicians need to embrace the internet to reach patients and make sure the information that patients find is accurate.

That was the take-home message delivered to physicians at a recent education session. Deanna Attai, MD, (@DrAttai) and Ravi Goel, MD (@RaviDGoel) shed light on the need for physicians to be visible online. From search results and reviews to social media, physicians had the chance to learn about building their online reputations at the session, “Cultivating and protecting your digital presence: Do’s and don’ts of social media.”

Use online information

Physicians have long counted on their patients to tell friends what good doctors they are, with the hope that “over time it will build a robust practice,” Dr. Attai said during the session, held at 2017 AMA Annual Meeting. While physicians have been advised to build word of mouth this way, it is a very slow process.

And now word of mouth is no longer person-to-person—it’s done with mouse clicks and keyboards. Patients are doing their research before scheduling an appointment with physicians. Through social media and online reviews, patients may now believe they have ready access to all the information they need to evaluate a physician.


“In this day and age, your reputation is whatever Google says it is,” Dr. Attai said. This means it’s important for physicians to take charge of their brands by improving information available online. If a physician doesn’t have a robust social media profile, information will still show up on HealthGrades, Yelp, ProPublica and other websites. And while Yelp has long been regarded as the go-to site for restaurant reviews, it is now becoming a powerful voice for the medical field.


With 102 million customer reviews on Yelp, 6 percent (6.12 million) are in the health care field. Information from the ProPublica database will appear on provider pages, while Yelp users have access to objective data about medical practice patterns compared to their peers. The increased availability of information means physicians need to make sure their information is accurate and up-to-date.


Dr. Attai shared three important pieces of information for physicians to remember when updating their profiles:


  • Inaccurate information reflects on the physician as a provider.
  • Physicians don’t have control over comments.
  • A professional profile that looks great doesn’t give control over what patients say.


Proceed with caution

Many people seem to lack common sense when online, which can pose a great risk toward a physician’s reputation.


“There’s this perception of anonymity, especially if you don’t have a lot of followers,” Dr. Attai said. “If you only have a handful of followers or it’s only your friends and family on your Facebook page, you may not realize all it takes is one share to go to a much wider audience.”


The problem with sharing everything online is that patients and the public might see a physician’s “online behavior as a proxy for in-person behavior,” said Dr. Attai. This means, if a physician exhibits poor judgment online, patients will often question their judgment in person too. Physicians should watch what they share online and how they respond to patient comments.


To help physicians manage their online reputation, Dr. Attai stated the best policy can be found from the Mayo Clinic. Among other things, Mayo’s policy offers five important points to remember as a physician using social media:


  • Don’t misrepresent yourself.
  • Be transparent about who you are and what you’re about.
  • Don’t violate patient privacy.
  • Don’t reveal too much of yourself.
  • Once it’s out there, it’s out there.


The question for physicians should not be, “Is it OK to say something?” Dr. Attai said. Rather, the question should be, “As a physician, is it OK to have this conversation in a public space?”


Shaping physician reputations

To demonstrate how firmly entrenched the age of Dr. Yelp is, Dr. Goel pointed to a Feb. 19, 2014 JAMA article, “Public Awareness, Perception, and Use of Online Physician Rating Sites,” which states that patients previously only looked for three requirements for a physician. These were:


  • Do they accept my insurance?
  • Is the office location convenient?
  • How many years have they been practicing?


While these three criteria were once predominant in patient decision-making, the article found that physician-rating sites are increasingly important. About 35 percent of patients selected physicians with good ratings or reviews, while 37 percent said they would avoid physicians with bad ratings or reviews, explained Dr. Goel.


“Many of the complaints I found have nothing to do with clinical care,” he said. “It often has to do with billing, scheduling and office attitude.”


Dr. Goel used to Google his name every Thanksgiving, but recently stopped. In doing so, he found that HealthGrades was coming in as a top result, but there were no reviews. Whether he was engaging with patients on social media or in the office, Dr. Goel began asking his patients to share online their experiences with him to further improve his ranking and visibility. This helps patients encounter more accurate information, which means enhanced trust in him as a physician.  


Online reputation management begins with a Google search. Once a physician has searched her name, she should check for inaccurate information, claim her individual or practice profile, and add photos. In his travels across the country speaking on this topic, Dr. Goel noticed disparities among physicians in almost every city. These physicians had no photos or reviews when he Googled their names, which can have a negative impact on online presence.


“I recommend one professional photo. You should never land on a site and not see a photo of you,” Dr. Goel added.


To protect a physician’s online reputation while increasing visibility, Dr. Goel offered five pearls:


  • Choose one professional photo to use across all websites.
  • Update profiles with clear, consistent and factual information.
  • Provide educational resources for patients.
  • Never engage online with a patient who leaves a negative review. Respond offline.
  • Strategic networking, such as through the website LinkedIn, helps physicians stay relevant in practice and profession.


The key to online reputation success is updating and claiming profiles because patients are looking for ratings and content, the physician speakers said. But physicians should keep in mind that there is no filter on the internet and poor reviews will be available to prospective patients for many long years to come.

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Establishing a Professional Social Media Presence

Grand Rounds at Philippine General Hospital Department of Medicine, 11 July 2017.
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Establish your brand: 5 social media tools for physicians

Establish your brand: 5 social media tools for physicians | Social Media and Healthcare |

Here are five social media tools Medical News Today recommends for physicians to help strengthen their brand.

1. LinkedIn. Put a wealth of information on your profile to ensure it ranks highly. Include your practice's address and phone number in addition to other personal information regarding your educational background and areas of interest.

2. Doximity. This platform is primarily geared toward physicians. The site updates your resume with your latest achieves and lists various career opportunities and ways to obtain continuing medical education credits.

3. YouTube. You can upload a video introducing yourself to potential patients and educate the public about what you offer.

4. Twitter. Twitter has 328 active users, allowing physicians to reach many patients and extend their network. You can interact with colleagues about areas such as advocacy or medical advancements

5. Hootsuite. This app is well-suited for those who use several social media platforms. Hootsuite tracks follower growth.

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What is Patient Engagement?

What is Patient Engagement? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Providers and patients working together to improve health. A patient’s greater engagement in healthcare contributes to improved health outcomes, and information technologies can support engagement. Patients want to be engaged in their healthcare decision-making process, and those who are engaged as decision-makers in their care tend to be healthier and have better outcomes.

HIMSS equips healthcare providers to e-connect with patients and families through engagement with patient portal adoption, secure messaging, social media, and other emerging health related technologies.

Connected Patient Forum at HIMSS17

Engaging patients in their own care has multiple benefits, enhancing satisfaction, productivity, and improving population health. Learn more >>


Get Started in Patient Engagement Strategies

The Patient Engagement section of the HIMSS Health IT Value Suite provide information around how to get started, how to implement your patient engagement strategies, how to optimize them, as well as testimonials from organizations that have realized value through Patient Engagement initiatives.

The State of Patient Engagement & Health IT
Your patients and their families and caregivers are ready to engage with you. Learn about the current patient engagement health IT environment and how you and your organization can become partners with them on the journey to patient empowerment and better health

Social Media and Online Patient Communities

Wearables and Mobile

Health and HIT Literacy

Leveraging Digital Strategies to Address Health Disparities

Patient-Generated Health Data

Patient Engagement Books

Engage! Transforming Healthcare Through Digital Patient Engagement HIMSS Book of the Year for 2014

Edited by Jan Oldenburg, Dave Chase, Kate T. Christensen, MD, and Brad Tritle, CIPP

This book explores the benefits of digital patient engagement, from the perspectives of physicians, providers, and others in the healthcare system, and discusses what is working well in this new, digitally-empowered collaborative environment. Chapters present the changing landscape of patient engagement, starting with the impact of new payment models and Meaningful Use requirements, and the effects of patient engagement on patient safety, quality and outcomes, effective communications, and self-service transactions. The book explores social media and mobile as tools, presents guidance on privacy and security challenges, and provides helpful advice on how providers can get started. Vignettes and 23 case studies showcase the impact of patient engagement from a wide variety of settings, from large providers to small practices, and traditional medical clinics to eTherapy practices.

Applying Social Media Technologies in Healthcare Environments

Edited by Christina Beach Thielst

Applying Social Media Technologies in Healthcare Environments provides an indispensable overview of successful use of the latest innovations in the healthcare provider-patient relationship. As professionals realize that success in the business of healthcare requires incorporation of the tools of social media into all aspects of their worlds and recognize the value offered by the numerous media channels, this compendium of case studies from various voices in the field-caregivers, administrators, marketers, patients, lawyers, clinicians, and healthcare information specialists-will serve as a valuable resource for novices as well as experienced communicators.

Paticipatory Healthcare: A Person-Centered Approach to Healthcare Transformation

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Advantages and Challenges of Using Social Media for Pharma R&D

Advantages and Challenges of Using Social Media for Pharma R&D | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is a force to be reckoned with in modern society. Over the last decade, it has changed the way we interact with friends and family, consume news and entertainment, and do business.

While companies across sectors have largely embraced the use of social media for everything from marketing to data gathering, the pharmaceutical industry has been shy about its involvement in this key aspect of the digital revolution. But could avoiding social media be a major competitive disadvantage?

In an interview with Forbes, Dr. Kevin Campbell shared 6 Ways Pharma May Use Social Media, one of which he described simply as listening. “Social listening can be very powerful. Pharma can identify unmet needs to innovate and figure out where R&D dollars should go,” he explained. “By listening, an individual company can get an idea for what types of programming is already present in the social space—and how to better innovate and do something new. In addition, social listening can allow a company to learn from the mistakes of competitors.”

Essentially what this means is that social media provides pharmaceutical companies with another method of gathering useful knowledge. But unlike other vital information sources, such as scientific literature or databases, social media is more personal and less filtered. There is the opportunity to see what patients and physicians alike are saying that their needs are. And obviously there is also the opportunity to follow other companies to discover what products they are making and approaches they are taking—and how the public is responding to those choices. For an R&D-focused player in the pharma industry not to explore this landscape is almost like intentionally staying isolated in the dark.

Insights gathered from social media have not only the potential to provide inspiration and direction for new product development, but also drug repurposing. “Social media could be a new frontier for drug development. If pharma companies could gather real-world data from prescribers, they might find new uses for existing drugs,” wrote Tracy Staton in FiercePharma, adding that “Through physician postings online, drug makers might identify other unintended benefits of their meds.”

But she also noted Big Pharma’s reticence to attempt this, suggesting that their biggest fear might be unintended consequences: “Set up a networking site to find unanticipated benefits, and you might come up with unexpected safety problems instead. Very public safety problems, given that the reports would be online and out in the open. And such unverified safety problems could spook patients. Such is the double-edged sword of social media–it’s a means of spreading both good and bad news. And like everything else online, it can’t be tightly controlled.”

Concerns about staying compliant with evolving FDA regulations have also contributed to pharma industry wariness of social media. But in an Eye on FDA blog post last year, Mark Senak tried to ease those fears by demonstrating how few social media-related violations have been committed in recent years. Looking specifically at warning letters issued by the FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion, he found only a small number involving social media communications.

While it is easy to see the benefits that using social media can offer innovation-hungry pharma companies, greater online engagement also stands to help customers. In a article, Dawn Lacallade argued that, in a time when patients increasingly turn to social media for healthcare research, and when a significant amount of that information is incorrect or comes from disreputable sources, companies actually have an obligation to fill the “void” with accurate, high-quality information. And in doing so, they are likely to create greater trust between themselves and the patients they want to serve.

Pharmaceutical firms interested in boosting their R&D by adopting or beefing up their social media presence should still operate with care, developing clear policies and strategies in advance that take FDA regulations into account. But with social media platforms being utilized by literally billions of people around the world, pharma can’t afford to be anti-social.

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Doctors send patient scans via social media; some condemned for “unethically” broadcasting surgeries

Doctors send patient scans via social media; some condemned for “unethically” broadcasting surgeries | Social Media and Healthcare |

A new report has surfaced revealing NHS doctors are using the Snapchat application to send patient scans over to one another. The report also dubs this as an “insecure, risky” way of working. However, this is not the first time – or the last – that doctors use social media to send and post patient’s medical details.

The rising trend of using various social media platforms like Snapchat or Instagram to broadcast patient surgeries have garnered public interest over the years. Nonetheless, doctors are now breaking their silence on this matter – deeming it “unethical” and are moving to ban these videos.

Report documents use of ‘Snapchat’ among NHS doctors to send scans

The report was ordered to scrutinise the dealings that DeepMind Health – owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet – has with the NHS. In 2016, DeepMind recruited a panel of independent experts to evaluate its work with the NHS. DeepMind was found to have a “high level of data security” but the same could not be said about the NHS.

The panel wrote, “The digital revolution has largely bypassed the NHS; which, in 2017, still retains the dubious title of being the world's largest purchaser of fax machines.” They said that many records are insecure paper-based systems that are difficult to use.

The report stated, “Seeing the difference that technology makes in their own lives, clinicians are already manufacturing their own technical fixes. They may use SnapChat to send scans from one clinician to another or camera apps to record particular details of patient information in a convenient format.”

The independent review panel explained that it is difficult to criticise the individuals responsible because it enables them to do their job. “However, this is clearly an insecure, risky, and non-auditable way of operating, and cannot continue,” they asserted.

Private hospital in Australia bans Snapchat live videos during surgery

Doctors in Australia are calling for a nationwide ban on videos of live surgery, which appears to be gaining popularity. A major private hospital, Westmead Private Hospital, has confirmed its Medical Advisory Committee banned ‘snapchatting’ of live surgery in May 2017. Even Facebook has taken down at least one live surgery video on that basis of it being too graphic.

Plastic surgeon Dr Laith Barnouti expressed that the ban should be nationwide because the filming of surgery could carry a risk of infection; besides distracting doctors and nurses from patient care. He said, “This is not only unethical, but also interfering with the progress of the surgery.”

Dr Barnouti elaborated, “Doctors are using it as an advertisement saying this is happening live. Even though the patient has consented to live surgery broadcast, they have no control over what is shown. If you are doing a tummy-tuck you could put genitalia up or breasts could be published.”

Professor Mark Ashton, President of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), expressed his worry that social media is often used as a marketing device these days when it used to serve as an educational tool. He added, “I have spoken with those members whose Snapchat activity has come to my attention and have counselled them to modify their behaviour to ensure it is consistent with ASPS strong ethical code of conduct, and does not breach the Medical Board guidelines.”

As current regulatory guidelines have left Snapchat out, Professor Ashton intends to request that authorities update the guidelines. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (AHPRA) emphasises its strict policies on privacy and using social media for advertising. A spokeswoman for AHPRA remarked, “If practitioners don’t meet these standards, we want to know about it.” She also said that they could not confirm details of the recent controversy to protect the integrity of their possible future action.

Popular surgeons use social media to educate and advertise

Numerous surgeons have built quite a reputation for themselves by using social media to publicise their surgical works. These clinicians claim that patients and their families are keen on looking back at these videos to observe the surgical process and what was done.

They also do so to educate the general public and any medical students interested in taking up this field. Plastic surgeons – such as Dr Michael Salzhauer, nicknamed “Dr Miami” and Dr Cat Begovic in California – highly publicise their surgeries and show-off the final outcomes on their social media pages. Popular dermatologist, Dr Sandra Lee, or better known as “Dr Pimple Popper”, also frequently takes to social media to graphically post her daily patient encounters. MIMS

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UK doctors share patient data on social media, flout health authority's ban

UK doctors share patient data on social media, flout health authority's ban | Social Media and Healthcare |

Doctors in the UK are increasingly using Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat to discuss information about their patients, despite a ban on the use of internet- based messaging apps, experts say.

Due to the lack of digital sharing systems, UK's National Health Service (NHS) doctor use groups on Facebook and Whatsapp to share details about patients, according to Alisdair Macnair, an NHS doctor based at Cambridge.

Use of internet-based messaging apps to send patient information is banned by the NHS.

"I have also seen chat on Facebook groups that sails pretty close to the wind in terms of discussing medical information," Macnair told the 'BBC'.

"I've definitely seen stuff which is one step away from being patient identifying," Macnair said.

"I am empathetic with doctors because there is a need and desire among healthcare professionals to share this information and the fact that nothing exists for them to do so is a huge problem," said Kate McCarthy, healthcare analyst at UK-based Forrester Research.

"The reality is that doctors are responding to the inadequacy of what the NHS is providing," McCarthy said.

The way UK's health service looks after data has come under spotlight after an Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) investigation found that 1.6 million patient records were shared with Google's DeepMind.

The artificial intelligence company said it was developing an app to alert doctors and nurses about patients at risk of kidney injury.

The ICO found that the NHS had breached data laws by allowing DeepMind to access the records.

A subsequent report from an independent panel set up by DeepMind to assess its work suggested that the NHS's use of technology was in a dire state.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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How to help your doctors realize the power of social media

How to help your doctors realize the power of social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Whenever I have an appointment with a new doctor, I like telling him or her what I do for a living.

Here’s how a typical conversation starts:

“I’m a health care social media writer,” I say. “I help hospitals figure out the best ways to reach their audience through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, you know—whatever all the kids are on these days.”

If the doctor says, “Oh, that sounds interesting,” here’s what I say next:

“My favorite part is when I teach doctors how to set up their own social media accounts. At first, they seem worried about it, but once they get the hang of it, they really start to like it.”

If the doctor replies, “Oh, that sounds interesting” again, I keep going. They start asking me questions, they share their concerns about social media, and soon we both forget why I came to their office in the first place.

If your hospital sees a doctor with social media potential, here’s how to start the conversation:

[RELATED: Refresh your social media strategy so you can react on the fly.]

Do patients trust you over ‘Dr. Google’?

Patients come to doctors with crackpot ideas about ailments and treatments because there’s so much bad medical information online. They don’t know where to turn. That’s when blogging comes in handy.

“Imagine if you told me after this appointment that I have stomachtradistisorious,” I say. “The first thing I’m going to do after this appointment is Google it. But let’s say you specialize in treating that disease and you have written several blog posts about it—symptoms, causes and treatment options. If your blog posts show up on my search, I’d see you as the authority on it. I’d trust you.”

Do you want to be on TV, get quoted in a magazine or speak at a conference?

Most doctors like being in the spotlight—sharing ideas, connecting with other doctors and seeing their name in print. Social media helps feed their ego.

“The best way to get journalists and other news organizations to notice you is to go where they are—online,” I say. “Your hospital marketing department is always looking for doctors to go on TV or get quoted in a blog when something happens at your hospital or if there’s something they need an expert opinion on. If you’re on social media, you can be the voice for your hospital and your community.”

Have you heard of @SeattleMamaDoc?

Doctors are competitive. They want to know what their peers are up to. That’s when I tell them aboutDr. Wendy Sue Swanson and her partnership with Seattle Children’s Hospital.

“Do you remember when Jenny McCarthy said on ‘Oprah’ that vaccines were linked to autism?” I ask. “After the episode aired, Dr. Swanson, a pediatrician, said her patients were really scared and asked her a lot of questions. She decided to start a blog to help alleviate their fears. Since then, the blog has become so successful that she’s had speaking gigs in Australia, she advises the CDC on improving pediatric/parenting messaging and has more than 30,000 followers on Twitter. And it all started because she wanted to help make sure kids got vaccinated.”

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