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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.
Relevant to Healthcare Practitioners, Pharma', Insurance, Clinicians, Labs, Health IT Vendors, Health Marketeers, Health Policy Makers, Hospital Administrators.
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Social Media Implementation Checklist

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

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Why Multichannel Marketing is a Must for Healthcare

Why Multichannel Marketing is a Must for Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

In general, marketing isn't a "life or death" career. But for healthcare marketing professionals, that's not necessarily the case. Knowing how to successfully connect doctors with patients isn't only important for physicians trying to build their practice — it could save someone's life.

One of the most recent trends in the healthcare industry is multichannel marketing, which is the practice of reaching patients using a combination of indirect and direct communication methods. An example of this type of campaign might be a combination of social media posts, TV commercials and email campaigns that all share similar imagery and messaging. And though this type of marketing is effective across many industries, adoption of multichannel strategies has been slow, according to eMarketer.

Though adoption may be sluggish in other industries, it's one marketing trend those in the healthcare industry should pay particular attention to, as providers trying to build their practices have much to gain from adopting a multichannel strategy.

Putting Potential Patients' Minds at Ease

One of the most important things potential patients consider when choosing a physician is whether they can build a relationship with the doctor. While there's no way for a patient considering a practice to know what'll happen at a doctor's appointment before they walk through the door, with the power of social media, online communities and online video sites, it's easier than ever for practices to show potential patients what a visit to their office looks and feels like.

This is where multichannel marketing comes in. Marketers can create a consistent message about personable care that uses videos and text on social media to connect with potential patients, and they can create ads for the web and TV that encourage potential patients to visit their social media pages for a look at what makes their practice different. Emphasizing words across all channels like "gentle," "friendly" and "patient-focused" will help your practice paint a more comfortable picture for potential patients who are nervous about visiting your office.

Reinforcing What Customers Find Online

According to a study from Frost and Sullivan, the use of a multichannel marketing strategy can also contribute to increased trust, as customers who do their own research on doctors and procedures will look to individual practices to back up what they read online.

For instance, if you have a patient in search of a dermatologist who read information online about skin cancer, having a multichannel marketing plan that provides similar information featured on reputable sites can help build trust, as customers will recognize the information more readily from their own research, and may be more likely to call and make an appointment.

Though multichannel marketing strategies can take a long time to develop and implement for healthcare providers looking to attract more patients, the time and capital invested in creating such a strategy is well worth the investment. It will help patients feel more at ease with your practice, which will hopefully lead to more appointments.

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How to Effectively Create Healthcare Facebook Ads=

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

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

Use Engaging Content

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

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

Be Aware of Ad Policies

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

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

Reach Your Audience

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

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

A/B Test the Ad Sets

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

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

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

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Welcome to the Age of Mobile Medical Marketing

Welcome to the Age of Mobile Medical Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

Healthcare has officially entered the mobile age — it’s time for medical organizations to adjust their marketing strategies accordingly.

According to Flurry Insights, Americans now spend more than five hours per day consuming digital content on their smartphones and tablets. That’s more than 150 hours per month!

How are they filling all of that time? In addition to texting, calling, social media perusing, and basic internet browsing, more and more people are turning to their smartphones to conduct in-depth research on serious issues. Healthcare has become an increasingly mobile industry, with more than 62% of smartphone owners using their devices to look up information about a medical condition and/or treatment. As mobile’s role continues to grow in the patient path to treatment, medical marketers need to adjust their strategies if they want to remain visible in an increasingly competitive market. Here are three key areas to be aware of as we move into the second half of 2017 and beyond.

1. Click-to-Call Advertising

Patients are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to conduct searches for local healthcare providers — in order to secure their business, medical practices and hospitals need to make it as easy as possible for them to get in touch for more information or to book a new appointment. Click-to-call (CTC) advertising enables seamless, one-touch dialing for patients the moment they stumble upon your medical brand when conducting an online search. In other words, a prospective patient will see your ad, tap the number on the screen, and be automatically connected with your staff.

From a consumer perspective, that’s a whole lot easier than navigating your website and hunting down a phone number — especially when they’re on-the-go. Unsurprisingly, 70% of consumers make use of CTC ads, which account for 60% of all product and services-related phone calls.

2. Social Advertising

Today, the average U.S. consumer spends more than two hours per day on social media platforms (that number skyrockets to a mind-boggling nine hours for teens!) It therefore follows that if you want to get someone’s attention online, social networks are a good place to start.

Importantly, consumers are increasingly relying on social media platforms like Facebook when making important life decisions — in fact, 90% of individuals between the ages of 19 and 24 say they would trust health information that they find through social channels, and 40% rely on information they find on social when making decisions about treatment.

Social ads are a great way to boost the visibility of your practice or hospital among your target demographic. Facebook’s powerful targeting capabilities and massive audience make it particularly well-suited for healthcare marketing, enabling providers to hone in on niche audiences with personalized messaging in order to attract new patients at minimal cost.

3. Accelerated Mobile Pages

Back in 2015, the Google and Twitter-backed Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) project was born out of a desire to help web publishers build pages and ads that are “consistently fast, beautiful and high-performing across devices and distribution platforms.” In short, they recognized that mobile was on the rise, and developed AMPs to improve the mobile browsing experience. e engaging experience on mobile and desktop.

While Google has stated that AMP content isn’t factoring into page rankings (yet!), it provides value in other areas — in addition to improving the user experience with faster load times and easier navigation, a recent Search Engine Journal survey found that 50% of internet users are much more likely to click on an AMP link than a regular one.

These three strategies are all cost-effective, simple to implement, and will likely make a big difference when it comes to boosting your practice or hospital’s marketing ROI. At the end of the day, there’s no shortage of patients out there who are in need of your services — you just need to make sure your marketing efforts are being made in the right areas.

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Building Better Doctor-Patient Relationships With Virtual Reality

Building Better Doctor-Patient Relationships With Virtual Reality | Social Media and Healthcare |

Can virtual reality help doctors become more empathetic?

In recent years, digital-driven consumer empowerment has spawned an increasingly patient-centric healthcare environment; however, there’s still a significant empathy gap that exists between patients and their providers. Though doctors are, of course, adept at prescribing medication and other therapies for chronic conditions, they have fewer tools to handle the fear, anxiety, and frustration that tend to go along with them.

Many doctors try to encourage their high-functioning patients by downplaying the severity of their symptoms compared to other cases, but patients may be suffering more than they realize. Then again, how would doctors know? They’ve likely never experienced their patients’ pain themselves.

Fortunately, empathy can be taught. Doctors often maintain a level of emotional detachment from their patients — both for professional and personal reasons. This detachment can lead to desensitization, but empathy researcher Helen Riess discovered that, with adequate training, doctors can improve their ability to perceive a patient’s emotional state, and thus increase patient satisfaction and ultimately, treatment outcomes.

To aid in this effort, companies are building virtual reality (VR) experiences that actually allow doctors to feel (or at least gain of better sense of) what their patients are going through.

An Immersive Experience

Mental illness is among the most complex and misunderstood of medical conditions, but VR may help demystify the experience for doctors. For example, as many as 50% of patients with Parkinson’s disease experience some form of psychosis — often in the form of hallucinations or delusions — as a result of dopamine therapy.

Acadia Pharmaceuticals is using the Oculus Rift headset to simulate common visual hallucinations, like shadows moving in the corner of the eye or objects morphing into animals. Schizophrenia simulators combine virtual reality with “3D” binaural audio recordings, creating a frighteningly realistic representation of auditory hallucinations. These VR experiences can inspire empathy by giving doctors and other caregivers a much-needed reference point for the kind of mental trauma their patients may be experiencing.

With the addition of wearables and other wireless devices, VR can also convey the frustration and anxiety caused by physical symptoms. Doctors no longer have to imagine what it’s like to have Parkinson’s or early-stage multiple sclerosis; they can experience it for themselves through devices that mimic tremors or blur vision and impair typing ability. Though these symptoms can often be invisible to doctors and caregivers, the emotional toll they take can be profound. Once doctors feel the frustration that comes with impaired vision or mobility, they’re more likely to empathize with patients reporting the same issues.

The Limitations of Technology

Although VR’s applications for inspiring empathy are promising, it can’t be the only solution. Social psychologist Leaf Van Boven found that VR users experiencing debilitating symptoms for the first time experience greater sympathy, but also come away assuming that patients’ conditions are more severe than they really are. Short VR simulations can’t convey the experience of navigating daily life with a chronic condition, or the variation between “good days” and “bad days.” VR is also incapable of addressing a very real source of frustration for patients with chronic conditions: medical bureaucracy.

But VR’s biggest shortcoming is effectively communicating pain. In the case of migraines, developers may be able to simulate light sensitivity and disorientation, but conveying the blinding pain of the headaches is much more difficult. Since roughly a third of Americans suffer from some form of chronic pain, companies developing VR technology should invest some time and energy into figuring out how to add pain simulation into the experience.

Though VR can allow doctors to experience some of their patients’ symptoms, it’s only an approximation of real illness. Nevertheless, VR is quickly becoming an essential tool in healthcare, allowing doctors to better treat their patients and putting the patient experience front and center during conversations about care.

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Three Reasons Social Media Should Be a Strategic Priority for Clinical Trials

Three Reasons Social Media Should Be a Strategic Priority for Clinical Trials | Social Media and Healthcare |

Patient recruitment is still major pain point for clinical trials — here’s how social media can help.

The rise of digital media has revolutionized healthcare, empowering patients to conduct their own medical research and make their own decisions about treatment. Increasingly, clinical trial sponsors and CROs are recognizing this trend and adjusting their recruitment strategies in order to remain in-step with shifting consumer preferences. That “adjustment” has primarily entailed moving away from traditional advertising outlets (TV, radio, print) towards digital marketing channels in order to reach more prospective participants, and to do so in a more targeted, ROI-positive manner.

As social platforms like Facebook have matured and proliferated over the past five to seven years, it’s emerged as a powerful clinical recruitment engine. Here are a few of the key reasons sponsors and CROs should seriously consider adding social media marketing into their digital recruitment strategies.

1. Reaching a Wider Audience

In the past, one of the biggest roadblocks to patient recruitment success has been connecting a large enough number of patients with relevant clinical research opportunities in a cost-effective manner. Traditional media casts a wide net, but in addition to being expensive, there’s no real way of guaranteeing the message will actually reach your desired audience.

Data indicates that the industry’s approach to raising awareness has been largely ineffective. For example, NIH research suggests that some 85% of cancer patients remain unaware of active clinical research opportunities, even though 75% of them say they would be willing to participate if they did. What’s more, the efficacy of traditional tactics for patient education and referrals seems to be diminishing quickly — for example, a recent Tufts CSDD report indicates that only 0.2% doctors and nurses actively refer their patients to clinical trials.

Social media presents an opportunity for sponsors and CROs to reach an absolutely massive audience with the resources and information they need to enroll. For example, Facebook’s user base is now more than two-billion strong, which includes 100% representation for many chronic and/or rare conditions, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

2. Communities and Support

One of the biggest developments associated with the rise of social media is the mass proliferation of online patient communities. A recent Health Union survey of more than 2,200 chronic care patients found that 26% use the platform once or more every day for health, and more than 50% on a monthly basis. Many are looking to condition-specific Facebook pages for guidance and other information from others suffering from the same affliction, in large part because social media users are so vocal about their experiences — even personal ones.

The Health Union study found that approximately 49% of respondents had “posted or shared a personal story or content online and 48% have shared a health-related post, photo or video that was not their own.”

The study explains, “The desire to explain their condition drives most of those who posted or shared content online, along with managing or coping with the symptoms...content that promotes understanding and support for these conditions receive the highest levels of engagement in social media.”

What’s clear is that patients are receptive to the information they come across on social media — as such, clinical trials should make social media engagement a priority in order to increase patient awareness and connect with more potentially qualified participants.

3. Social Media Advertising Works

In any marketing campaign, one of the main factors determining the ROI will be whether or not you can get the right materials in front of the right audience. Unlike traditional print, radio, and television ads, social media advertising platforms like Facebook offer powerful targeting tools that allow clinical trials to reach niche patient segments.

Sponsors and CROs can design campaigns around specific inclusion/exclusion criteria, such as age, sex, ethnicity, geographic location, and demonstrated interests, ensuring that the ads are being shown to only the most qualified candidates and increasing the likelihood of conversion.

At the end of the day, clinical trial sponsors and other stakeholders involved in patient recruitment need to recognize that social media is no longer a novelty. Rather, it’s become an established, trusted resource for consumers looking for health-related information and support. Utilizing it isn’t just about keeping R&D costs under control — it’s about making it easier for patients suffering from serious illnesses to get the information and ultimately, the care they need.

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How to Approach Disease Awareness Days

How to Approach Disease Awareness Days | Social Media and Healthcare |

A new report by One15 Healthcare called “Awareness Campaigns That Resonate: Learnings from World Asthma Day” offers pharma key insights into how to tap into disease awareness days to build long-term engagement and influence.

At one end of the scale, corporate disease awareness activities work to establish unmet needs in the minds of stakeholders; at the other end, they strive to improve treatment outcomes through education and best practice sharing. Successfully executed, a disease awareness campaign should be able to demonstrate a value-based outcome – improved disease management or adherence, increased access, a change in prescribing behaviour, improved organisational trust, improved health literacy or enhanced patient connectivity.

Their potential is vast, offering a way for pharma to participate in  patient conversation, to learn what their brand’s actual and potential end-users are thinking and feeling and get a sense of the patient journey that might otherwise remain hidden. Yet few pharma companies have capitalised fully on the increased engagement potential of disease awareness days.

Untapped potential

According to Emma Sutcliffe, Patient Engagement Consultant, NextGenHC, formerly Consultant Director, Patient Engagement at Grünenthal, the focus should be on life awareness as opposed to disease awareness. “Having worked with hundreds of patient groups in my professional capacity, I’ve learned that patients want you to understand their daily challenges and I often think that pharma vastly underestimates the enormous potential of social media. It’s not just a tool to connect and be heard or to listen for insights. It’s a barometer for population health – social health meterology, if you like. If you consider the power of machine learning algorithms to analyse tweet streams, you could predict disease outbreaks and even potentially pick up on signals that allow for early disease identification and intervention. Having that kind of rich data is enormously powerful and it’s a veritable goldmine of information that we’ve yet to tailor interventions for”.

Research continues to present tenuous suggestions that social media is well suited to enhance management of chronic disease and improve health outcomes. “The technical term is therapeutic affordance. Particular areas that merit attention include social media’s ability to filter and guide people to useful information, connect individuals, and share experiences. There is an absence of published studies examining and unpacking the underlying therapeutic mechanisms driving social media’s effects but research has demonstrated the therapeutic effect of vocalising pain – it increases our tolerance to endure pain. Vocalising is analgesic”.

Ongoing engagement versus campaigns

When it comes to disease awareness participation, Sutcliffe’s advice is clear: “You need to add value to the patient’s life, you need to be in it for the long haul – not sporadic campaigning and you need to do your research, through social listening – that way you get your messaging right and you can make a definite impact”.

An example of adding value and providing practical tools is Pfizer’s Public Restrooms iPhone app and the disease awareness campaign that surrounded it to highlight the challenge of identifying the nearest toilet for overactive bladder patients and women in particular. “To me, it offered a solution to a practical problem and encouraged people to seek help – that’s real value for a patient”.


Sutcliffe has developed an acronymn – BREATHE, to highlight how pharma should approach patient-centered care and build engagement.

“The core components provide guidance as to how pharma should approach disease awareness campaigns – it’s about helping people get on with their lives. A well-crafted disease awareness campaign can have enduring impact but you need to do your homework first. What are the pain points, the niggling frustrations, the problems to be solved and don’t forget to entertain – humour is therapy – it releases endorphins, relaxes, boosts the immune system, it brings communities together and it relieves stress. If you want patients to associate good emotional reactions to your company brand, make them laugh”.

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Engaging the digital healthcare professional

Engaging the digital healthcare professional | Social Media and Healthcare |

Some years ago I spoke with an emergency medic who had twenty-five years’ experience as a practising doctor. He told me how public social media channels had allowed him to develop an international, collaborative network of peers. Using public social media channels including Twitter was a natural choice for his network of healthcare professionals because, he told me, pharmaceutical companies would never bombard them with messaging in the way he had experienced inside closed doctors’ networks.

This may be a challenging lesson for those who still invest heavily in advertising targeted at doctors inside closed networks. The emergency medic’s prediction was correct, of course - in most markets, pharmaceutical companies cannot simply advertise products to doctors using public channels, and the very public international reach of Twitter makes it a platform that many pharmaceutical compliance professionals feel a little uncomfortable about.

Yet perhaps the very nature of public social media, and the challenging questions it inspires among those tasked with compliance, are precisely where the opportunity lies for the pharmaceutical marketer.

Who is influencing the digital healthcare professional?

Research into healthcare professionals’ online behaviours shows that when sharing ideas with each other on public social media channels, they are as likely to reference mainstream news media as academic journals.

On social media, it seems, the exchange of ideas among diverse healthcare professional roles at different levels of seniority is the norm. It is not unusual to find junior doctors and even medical students exchanging ideas with senior experts. One senior doctor told me that on social media he feels comfortable learning from nurses and those in junior roles, whereas in the hospital where he practices, this would be highly unlikely to happen.

In another case, a junior doctor who ran a blog collaborated with a specialist who had decades of medical experience but limited social media know-how. The young doctor’s digital reputation gave online reach to the senior expert’s content, while the expert’s content gave credibility to the junior’s blog.

Getting involved

If social media is changing the way our customers are learning, developing and sharing ideas, and influencing each other, then it must also change our customer engagement strategies. This lesson has already been learned by other organisations that engage healthcare professionals, including policymakers and patient groups.

When NICE, the UK policymaker for health spending, rejected Pfizer’s breast cancer drug palbociclib for routine funding on the NHS in February, it tweeted the news and invited comments on the draft guidance. NICE has been actively using Twitter to engage healthcare professionals for some time, and its tweet was shared by medics in the UK and overseas. It was also shared by a student midwife who tweeted to Pfizer and NICE asking them to work together to provide access to the drug.

Two days after the student midwife’s tweet, UK organisation Breast Cancer Now shared its own response to the guidance, also tweeting to Pfizer and NICE and urging them to work together to make the drug available. Breast Cancer Now is followed by almost 40,000, and its tweet, which it posted twice, was re-tweeted by one hundred people, including healthcare professionals.

Weeks later, following the NICE consultation period, the organisation announced that following communication with Pfizer it had decided to postpone its committee meeting to discuss palbociclib, “ allow the company to submit an updated evidence package…”.

Ten insight-led customer engagement strategies for pharma

So how can pharmaceutical brands plan for meaningful engagement with healthcare professionals, and learn from the organisations that connect with them online?

  1. Use your customers’ language: When marketers in one brand team saw how pharmacists talked about its products, they discovered that while the messaging they planned was on track, the particular language they were using was likely to alienate its customers. Instead, they used words that they now knew would resonate well to engage healthcare professionals effectively.
  2. Meet customers’ expressed needs: One pharmaceutical brand discovered that a particular group of healthcare professionals was anxious about how to administer its product, so the brand team immediately responded by providing relevant training and resources. This supported improved product uptake at a critical time for the brand.
  3. Develop digital customer advocates: To prepare the way for future digital collaboration, a pharmaceutical company identified 30 emerging Key Opinion Leaders and taught them how to use social media in their specialist area, using real examples to support the specialists’ professional development.
  4. Improve offline marketing: Traditional, offline marketing activities can be improved by listening to doctors as they share their hopes, concerns or questions about their work in a particular therapy area. One pharmaceutical company, for example, is tracking the online response of healthcare professionals to stories in traditional press, in order to gain an instant view of not only the reach of the story, but its customers’ reactions as they happen.
  5. Provide timely patient support: Listening to the first-hand experiences of healthcare professionals can provide an early-warning system for concerns or needs among patients. For example, during the launch of a new drug, one pharmaceutical company found that doctors raised specific concerns about the product several months before the same issues were heard from patients. Based on this pattern, they were able to prepare for patients’ future needs ahead of time.
  6. Target digital content: By listening to conversations among healthcare professionals, one pharmaceutical company discovered that doctors were not finding the answers to their questions about the company’s launch product online. This insight led them to refine their digital strategy to target key customer groups more effectively.
  7. Integrate social and CRM data: Knowing which healthcare professionals are ‘Digital Opinion Leaders’ - those shaping opinions among their peers - can help when developing key customer relationships. One pharmaceutical company, for example, is integrating insights from its customers’ digital activities into its CRM data, improving its understanding of key customers and identifying new potential advocates.
  8. Prepare informed policy response: By listening to healthcare professionals on social media, one pharmaceutical company was able to measure the immediate response to draft policy guidance that would affect the success of its product. The rapid availability of insights put the company in a strong position to respond based on healthcare professionals’ expressed needs.
  9. Differentiate from competitors: A new pharmaceutical brand entering a competitive drug class tracked conversations among healthcare professionals about its comparative products in several major global markets. It was then able to develop timely messaging to differentiate its own product as it launched.
  10. Leverage congress meetings: Learning from the conversations that HCPs have before, during and after meetings is helping pharmaceutical brands to do more with their congress investment. For example, one pharmaceutical company is using insights from healthcare professionals on social media to plan its congress activity and schedule relevant meetings addressing the specific needs of individual specialists.

Every brand team’s response to the changing market is unique; some will continue to rely solely on traditional market research techniques and ‘the way we do things’. Others, led by innovators who are eager to achieve better outcomes for customers, patients and products, are already transforming the way they plan and manage brand strategies.

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The evolving role of pharma on social media

The evolving role of pharma on social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Pharma companies are increasingly active on Twitter around medical meetings, but risk crowding out other conversations from independent medical experts with the ‘noise’ of industry tweets. In an Expert View piece, Annie Sullivan, director of corporate social media at Anglo-Swedish pharma major AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN), discusses the company’s novel approach of being 'a better social media citizen' and how its adoption of this strategy at the ASCO Annual Meeting in 2017 may help evolve the role of pharma on social media.

Social media, particularly Twitter, comes alive at medical meetings. Discussions online mirror the huddled conversations in the hallways of exhibition centers between researchers, patients, doctors and pharmaceutical companies. It’s a valuable resource for followers around the world who can't attend, or for those in the conference center to make connections that may not otherwise happen.

Responding to feedback

In 2016, we heard feedback from ASCO attendees that the 'signal' to 'noise' ratio was off. Interesting information and insights were being lost in the 'noise' of extraneous information shared on social media, particularly content put out by the pharmaceutical industry. Those following the conference online feared that if leading physicians were struggling to find useful viewpoints on social media, they would start to go elsewhere and the whole community would lose out.

As a company with a large online following, AstraZeneca decided that we had a responsibility to respond to this feedback. We realized we had to change the way we socialized with others online.

So, we set out social media commitments for ourselves at the ASCO 2017 Annual Meeting to ensure we were being 'better social media citizens.'

That means recognizing that we are part of the wider social media ecosystem and ensuring that we contribute value to the conversation rather than just 'make noise' via conference hashtags. That also means our content must reflect our commitment to follow the science and our responsibility to the scientific community and cancer patients around the world.

We decided to tweet less and listen more. We focused on quality content and significantly reduced the number of tweets we put out over the ASCO meeting. We participated in the online conversation organically, by retweeting and highlighting valuable contributions to help elevate some of the ‘quieter’ voices at the conference, that we wanted a broader audience to hear.

Just 13 original tweets 

We did not engage in any paid promotion, a major cause of criticism in previous years. When we did post original content, we focused on what we do best - making our science accessible to others.

We knew from the start that this approach could reduce our digital footprint overall, but our focus was on value over volume. We sent out just 13 original tweets from @AstraZeneca and yet we still had a significant presence on social media. We ranked as one of only two companies in the top 10 #ASCO2017 influencer list on Symplur. By engaging with tweets from influencers and attendees, we expanded their potential audience by an average of 800%.

The community took notice and was very supportive of our new approach, encouraging us to continue. A Twitter poll from an ASCO Featured Voice showed that the majority of survey participants felt that there was less noise on Twitter during ASCO 2017 versus 2016 and several individuals attributed part of this shift to AstraZeneca’s efforts.

The whole pharmaceutical industry needs to reflect on how its activity on Twitter affects the broader community online, and evaluate whether its approach is actually serving the intended audience. This means considering what the pharmaceutical industry's role online can be – not only at conferences, but throughout the year.

The bottom line

It’s no longer enough to simply push out corporate content and share #DYKs (did you knows). The oncology ‘Twitterati’ have become very sophisticated and are expecting – in fact, they demand – considered scientific thought, insight and analysis.

Understanding how the communities we serve use social media – whether it’s to discuss science or share stories – is critical to ensuring industry contributions on social media remain valuable. A one-size-fits-all approach will not advance the industry beyond where it is now. It is only by listening that we can remain relevant within the social media ecosystem and become better social media citizens.

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How to Grow Your Healthcare Business with Facebook Ad Campaigns

How to Grow Your Healthcare Business with Facebook Ad Campaigns | Social Media and Healthcare |

sing Facebook for Healthcare Practice: Are You Doing It Right?

You may be new to the social media platform, or you may be accustomed to its nuances in a personal sense. But how in the world can you use Facebook for your business? Even though Facebook is primarily a free platform, the social media site can be capitalized upon in multiple ways, including socializing with customers through business pages, garnering support for new services you offer by sharing them on your page. But you can also advertise on Facebook. We can help you set up a stellar ad campaign that will draw the results you desire. Grow your healthcare business by using Facebook Ad Campaigns.

Correct Targeting

In its early days, marketing had a generic blanket technique. Sell an ad in the newspaper and hope the neighborhood sees your information. Or purchase a bit of radio space and hope your target audience is listening in and not ignoring the commercial. The only true way to track the effectiveness of the campaign was to measure it against the foot traffic in the practice, or the number of appointment bookings or sales.

Today, there is a more concise way to market. Choose a demographic, as specific as a caregiver of a homebound adult in the suburbs of Philadelphia, to a physically active young adult and stay at home mother in the city. With Facebook Ads, you can select key target areas.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, first, figure out who your audience is. What is the age range? What are their interests? Define your audience. Are you catering to a younger population for health purposes or an aging population that is more likely to come frequently for visits? Using Facebook Ads, you can narrow your audience by factors like demographic, gender, location, interests, and even by annual household income.

“Identify and document your customer profiles, where they are likely to be located, and in what circumstances they are most likely to engage with Facebook,” suggests Once you’ve chosen these, you will be able to track the success of your ads better and be able to adjust what isn’t working or reaching the correct audience.

Don’t be afraid to run several test groups either. Facebook has a tool, “Audience Insights,” which provides you in-depth information regarding who is interacting with your add. The breakdown comes not only to age, location, and gender but also if they liked photos or links more. “Invest the time in understanding your audience, and they will be more receptive to your content and advertising messaging,” suggests Social Media Examiner.

Define Your Objective

On Facebook, you have the ability to set your objective. Do you want to increase awareness, or drive traffic to your website? Or would you like to get people to sign up for an offer, or ask patients to complete a form to schedule an appointment?

Create Your Message and Add a Strong Call to Action

The message you portray through your ad should connect to your audience on a personal level. If your audience is an average caregiver, you should put yourself in the mind of your caregiver – what will call their attention?

Once you have fashioned your message, add a call to action. You can customize the button to choose from different messages provided by Facebook. While the objectives mentioned above will garner support, the attention grabbing call will lead them to action. “Call Now” or “Learn More” are good examples of calls to action. If you want to be a bit more daring and bold, use the example from Marketo, where the call to action specifically lead consumers to “Download” rather than a generic “sign-up” option. Deliberate and precise calls to action can improve your click through rates significantly.

Select Graphics

Pulling a stock photo from websites like Adobe and 1234rf is a very good idea if you’re starting out on your first Ad campaign online. But out of thousands and millions of photos, how do you know which to choose? Keep the following points in mind:

  • Select the correct size image. If the image you choose is too small for the area, the quality will become degraded and pixelated. In a High Definition world, clarity is essential.
  • Choose an image that is relevant to your ad. When you search for your image in a database, be as specific as you can with the key words and phrases as possible. For example, “patient” will have far more results to sift through, than “happy patient with doctor.” 

  • Choose an image with vibrant colors. While a physician’s office may be white, that doesn’t mean your ads have to be white too. Find a picture bursting with color so you can pop off the page in any News Feed.

  • Match positive with positive. Selecting emotionally positive images with smiling people can increase your chances of the image being clicked by the user.

If you’re still having trouble picking out the images you feel would work best, stick to Get Referral MD’s “goldfish” rule: “if your image doesn’t catch your audience’s attention within the first 3 seconds, they’ve already forgotten it.”


An interesting part of Facebook is its partnerships with other social media channels such as Instagram. Automatically, your Facebook Ad campaign can be shown on Instagram to audiences with your demographic or interests. However, you may not want this. Instagram, while ideal for photographs, is geared much more for interests and hobby related network of users.

Through Facebook Ad Manager, go into the “Placements” menu option, and select “Edit Placements.” Then click on Instagram and remove the checkmark. Learn more about the importance of placements on Facebook and Instagram by contacting TopWhale directly.

Add Facebook Pixel

With Facebook, you can track and measure who exactly is interacting with your ads on the social media platform. But it does also provide an additional level of analytics and data collection. Facebook Pixel is “an analytics tool that allows you to measure the effectiveness of your advertising by understanding the actions people take on your website,” as it states on Facebook’s Business Help Pages. You can use Facebook Pixel to track visitors to your page, as well as remarketing content.

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Social Media Applications for Mayo Clinic…and You

I am presenting at Grand Rounds for the Mayo Clinic Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology on Wednesday, Aug. 2.
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Top 7 Current Healthcare Marketing Techniques and Trends

Top 7 Current Healthcare Marketing Techniques and Trends | Social Media and Healthcare |

Healthcare marketing is an industry that is constantly growing and changing.  Staying on top of what’s effective will help your hospital or healthcare organization successfully market itself with the highest earning potential.

1. Build a Brand.

Creating a unique identity for your healthcare organization can set you apart from the competition, helping to grow your patient base and encouraging existing patients to seek care in-network.  Building a brand helps solidify your position in the market and communicates clearly to your potential patients what you’re capable of doing for them.

Work logo design, color scheme, characteristic images, and taglines into your online and offline advertising campaigns helps solidify your brand. Done right, branding results in your audience remembering you as a respected healthcare organization.

2. Construct a Real Website.

According to a Pew Research Center study, 80% of internet users reported having looked for health information online, whether it was to look for information about a diagnosis or to choose a healthcare provider. It’s absolutely essential for medical practices and healthcare organizations to build an authoritative, respectable website and maintain it regularly in order to be taken seriously in today’s market. A custom healthcare website design offers a high return on investment when combined with search engine marketing.

3. Search Engine Optimization.



Social Media Marketing

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is an online marketing technique centered on moving your website up to the front page of search engine results.  The recommended goal is to have your website appear in the top five search results when users enter keywords related to your specialty and location.


Ranking on top engines like Google and Bing requires a dedicated SEO strategy focused on optimizing content and meta data across your site. However, once a certain amount of work has been done to improve your rankings, the results will be strong enough to keep your practice high in the rankings with minimal maintenance.

4. Grow Your Social Media Presence.

According to a PwC Health Research Institute study, 42 percent of internet users have looked to social media for healthcare provider reviews to make decisions about which doctor to choose, while 90 percent of millenials would engage in health-related social media activities. An active social media presence is an important marketing platform for reaching internet users.  Look for a healthcare internet marketing company that offers full social media setup and profile management to make sure that your healthcare organization is taking full advantage of its social media profiles.

5. Pay-Per-Click Ads.



Social Media Marketing

Pay-per-click advertising – often abbreviated as PPC – offers an instant presence in search engines like Google and lets you pay only for the number of site visits the ad brings in (hence the name).  PPC generates leads and traffic to your site almost instantly, makes it easy to target users within a specific geographic area, and allows the flexibility to turn the campaign on or off at any time. PPC ads can be an excellent way to market your healthcare organization – though your results and site traffic will probably never be as good as with a long-term SEO campaign. Healthcare marketing services that offer both PPC and SEO provide the best of both worlds.


6. Run Promotions Online.

Running online deals and promotions is a smart way to get people in the door and make them truly excited about your services.  Thinking of a cost-effective offer – like a high-demand service that you can offer at discount on certain days or a two-for-one deal – and then promoting it on your website helps to bring in new patients who might have been on the fence about their choice of provider or about scheduling an appointment at all. Bonus tip: If you’re running a PPC campaign, advertising your special offer locally in search engine results will increase your visibility.

7. Participate in Conferences.

Participating in regional and national conferences can help to increase awareness for your healthcare organization and its star departments or services.  Putting your name out and building personal relationships with colleagues keeps your brand presence strong.  Check online for conference opportunities in your area.

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Evolving use of social media among Chinese urologists: Opportunity or challenge?

Evolving use of social media among Chinese urologists: Opportunity or challenge? | Social Media and Healthcare |


Social media has revolutionized the way people communicate, and it has been widely incorporated into medical practice. However, limited data are available regarding the use of social media by Chinese urologists in their practice.


From 2014 to 2016, during the China Urological Association’s (CUA) Annual National Minimally Invasive Urology Academic Conference, an anonymous survey on social media usage was distributed to participant urologists.


The results of the survey, which was completed by 665 participants, indicate a conspicuous increase in social media use during the last three years. Regression analysis showed that year (2014 compared to 2016 and 2015), institute location (in the eastern region of China) and age (<35 y) were independent predictors of social media use. Rather than for personal use, an increasing number of respondents said they used social media for professional purposes, and for most respondents, social media has had a positive impact on their practice. However, when posting information on social media, few respondents were aware of the issue of protecting patients’ privacy.


Our study demonstrates a dramatic increase in social media use among Chinese urologists, which provides great opportunities for online academic communication and medical education. However, unprofessional use of social media in the medical practice may bring about potential risks and challenges for the further development of social media in medical practice.

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News: All patients are engaged, to a point

News: All patients are engaged, to a point | Social Media and Healthcare |

All patients, who are dealing with health issues, are engaged patients.  It’s a mistake, however, to believe that they want to be engaged every day and through reminders. As with the Internet patients chose when and how they want to be engaged.

An MS patient recently contacted me to complain about a biotech company that was “reminding her” she had MS.  “The last thing I need, when I’m having a good day, is to get an email about a seminar of MS” she said.

We keep hearing about patient engagement, but the definition of patient engagement is pretty much defined by the patient, not the drug company .  Patients often don’t want text reminders for compliance or “tips” on how to manage their health because it reminds them that they have health problems. So what is patient engagement?

First, it’s important to understand that, to a certain extent, all patients are engaged. Second, the level of that engagement very much depends on the health condition they have to manage.  For example, MS patients, according to past research I was part of, want to better understand how MS and quality of life go together.  They want to know about new treatments in development, but they don’t want reminders that they have MS.  Diabetes patients don’t want reminders that they have to constantly watch what they eat.

So where does this leave DTC marketers?

1ne: If you’re implementing a CRM program, ensure that your audience has the option to determine how often they are contacted.

2wo: Patient engagement by life cycle is essential .  Newly diagnosed patients have different needs than caregivers.

3hree: Text messages are often seen as intrusive, so beware.

4our: Listen to your audience via social media and respond with content that’s on their mind. A great example is the increased costs of co-pays.  I just finished an analysis of social media to get  top of mind discussions and learned that the increase in co-pays is troubling to a lot of people yet I have yet to see one pharma site with tips on how to better manage higher health insurance  costs.

5ive: Finally, THINK like a patient.  If you just found you had MS what would you want to know and where would you turn for resources?

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Educational networking for growth in medical education satya

This is an interesting ppt on social media and networking, their role in medical education with 12 tips to use them effectively for medical education...
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Pediatrician Discusses Ethics of Parents’ Online Posts

Many parents are quick to post photos of their kids on social media or blog about their child’s health. Parents have learned a thing or two from this practice—from foods to entice picky toddlers to favorite remedies for rashes and other common ailments—and often turn to online communities to share their experiences and network with other families.

On one hand, blogging and posting on such sites as Facebook and Twitter raise questions of privacy and other concerns unique to the pediatric population. But posting such information often provides social and emotional support; this is particularly salient for parents of children with complex or critical illness.

“Since we know social support for parents with generally healthy children is important, it actually may be critical for parents of children with complex or life-limiting illness, particularly when a diagnosis requires daily care and monitoring,” said Dr. Silvana Barone, a pediatrician recently transplanted from Montreal who is currently a clinical fellow in pediatric hospice and palliative medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. She spoke at a recent NIH bioethics group discussion in Bldg. 50.

Barone specializes in caring for children with medical complexity. These chronically critically ill children face an uncertain prognosis and typically have prolonged, recurrent stays in intensive care.

During her residency, while caring for children in the neonatal and pediatric ICUs, Barone noticed parents documenting their children’s health care journey online. That raised a multitude of questions including whether providers should engage online with families of patients.

“How can we, as providers, and should we, facilitate communication with these families for help with longitudinal decision-making, particularly for cases where outcomes are not so clear cut and there’s a lot of uncertainty?” Barone asked.

As technology evolves, so do guidelines for social media interactions in the medical community. “[The internet] changes the way we interact with our patients, for better or worse,” said Barone, and parents happen to be large consumers of social media.

But what happens when social media posts have the potential to compromise care?

Take the case of baby K, whose parents started blogging daily about her progress in the NICU. One of the nurses read the blog and was disheartened to see her competency questioned in such a public forum, especially since the parents never raised any concerns privately about her care. While the parents never named the nurse, the blog contained enough information to deduce her identity. The nurse, denied a transfer, nervously continued caring for the baby.

Barone chats with Karen Rothenberg, Marjorie Cook professor of law at the University of Maryland and a visiting scholar in bioethics at the Clinical Center.


This is a clear case of a provider’s moral distress, said Barone, in which a professional cannot perform optimally due to institutional or other constraints.

“There’s good data to suggest that moral distress among providers can lead to burnout, can impact quality of care and has been found to be a contributing factor to nurses and other providers leaving their profession.”

Should medical staff even read patient blogs? Some say they can learn about patients and provide better care, said Barone. Others suggest maybe it’s wise to notify families before following them online. Some professional organizations encourage providers to use social media as an advocacy tool, but the Federation of State Medical Boards issued guidelines discouraging professionals from interacting with current or past patients on social media sites.

Baby K’s case also raises questions of privacy. “As providers, we have an obligation to maintain patient privacy and confidentiality,” said Barone. “But there’s no reciprocal obligation for members of the public.”

Parents who post about their kids on social media are free to praise or criticize medical staff and know they’re foregoing their privacy in the process.

“In pediatric cases, there’s an additional complexity to this issue of privacy,” said Barone, “because parents who choose to go public are no longer only foregoing their own privacy, but that of their child as well.” And these children, particularly those with chronic illness and not old enough to consent as subjects, now unwittingly have a very personal online footprint.

In another case, the parents of a young cancer patient launched an online petition requesting access to an experimental drug. The petition had 60,000 signatures in 2 days along with a media buzz that sent the hospital’s staff, PR and ethics departments into a frenzy. The oncologists were already willing to treat the child with this drug before the petition circulated.

The ethical issues raised by social media aren’t new. “Professionals work to maintain patient privacy, to maintain appropriate therapeutic boundaries, to help patients and families make difficult decisions and to treat all patients fairly,” said Barone. “What’s changed is the speed with which complex issues can be publicized.”

The fact that social media posts can easily go viral means it’s just as easy for misinformation and hoaxes to spread quickly. Barone said physicians might have a responsibility to have a voice in this and set the record straight.

“I think there is a role for social media in modern health care delivery,” said Barone. “I think we need to remain relevant to those we seek to serve.”

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Navigating the social media waters in healthcare 

Navigating the social media waters in healthcare  | Social Media and Healthcare |

The social media landscape for pharma has evolved considerably since its social media boom of 2013 - pharmaceutical Twitter followers, for example, have since risen by nearly 300%.

Meanwhile, healthcare practitioners and businesses remain understandably nervous about breaching codes and guidelines from authorities are still vague.  However, now it’s not so much a question of whether pharma should be online – but rather how these companies should get started or improve their digital footprint, in line with the rest of the world.

Social media allows pharma to interact with groups that were previously impossible to reach: allowing for open expression, education and dialogue between HCPs, physicians and patient groups.  These groups also have a responsibility to ensure that truth wins out on social. With so many people researching their symptoms and self-diagnosing online, and too many unqualified pseudoscientists presenting themselves as experts, it’s up to the genuine experts to cut through this era of widespread misinformation.

In spite of the undeniably tough regulatory environment, there are still opportunities to produce creative, engaging and best practice social media content.

It’s time for pharma to get noticed by being bold. Here are some golden rules to keep in mind with any activation:

Assemble your team

Running a digital and social presence needs expert resource. The days you could put out a couple of tweets or Facebook posts, hoping for the best and getting decent results, are firmly in the past. Social and digital has become more sophisticated: projects are long, often intricate and of course require a sound understanding of what is and is not acceptable in the world of pharma. This is why it is imperative, when hiring an external resource, that you work with those who have exemplary experience of the industry. Your social experts should work very closely with the in-house team to ensure that social is an integral piece of the marketing mix.

Unlike other social media activations, pharma needs a solid ‘social playbook’ that will communicate clearly and effectively the functionality of all communications to every stakeholder, at every level and experience. This requires an expert knowledge of the regulatory code you operate under, expert knowledge of functionality and an experienced social strategist that understands the nuances of healthcare.


‘We are at booth ABC at XZY’ are posts or tweets you’d want to steer clear of. Create interesting, thought-provoking content, if you wish people to engage. This means investment; investment into every activation (that is appropriate), not a ‘social media campaign’ in isolation. The focus should be on a holistic, multichannel presence.

You don’t get much for free

Social media has evolved into a paid-for platform, especially when launching a new presence. Make sure your stakeholders are aware of this. On Facebook, it’s essential to pay to reach out to your audiences. With Twitter you will also need to implement a paid strategy to build followers and target the right groups with your messaging. The same is true with every other platform. That isn’t saying organic content isn’t important; once you have amassed a community, organic content becomes your testing ground. But until that point, make sure you understand the fundamentals of the advertising mechanism behind the platform you are placing spend on.

Soft launch and never stop evaluating your strategy

Soft launches are critical. This is where you secure buy in from internal stakeholders, the process is cemented and content is tested. With social and digital you can take a staggered approach and maximise your chances of success – not impede it. Testing is not expensive in social (compared with traditional media, such as television and outdoor). You haven’t failed if one post doesn’t perform well. Pause the spend, take the learning and next month put out some fresh content.  Measurement is absolutely key in your social strategy – and thankfully, it’s easy to measure – with a range of social listening tools available. Knowing what works allows you to change tack quickly and easily.  Measurement also demonstrates to key stakeholders the value of your social presence.

The social media landscape in pharma is changing shape – and for the better. Companies are becoming bolder, more creative and less risk-averse.  If you follow the golden rules, with the right team in place, there’s potential for excellent return on investment and you will be able to reach out to your key audiences in new and exciting ways.

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4 Ways Dentists Are Using Social Content to Educate Patients

4 Ways Dentists Are Using Social Content to Educate Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

In a world where one out of four people uses the internet to self-diagnose and treat health symptoms, the need for reliable information cannot be overstated. There is a growing concern for doctors from different fields to build an online presence and reach out to their patients.

And while this concern is prevalent among medical doctors, others have gotten the digital presence memo and are excelling at it.

Many dentists, for instance, have realized the importance of online patient education and adjusted accordingly. They are creating websites, participating in online communities and using social media to connect with patients. By doing so, they are sharing reliable information with patients, reducing the anxiety involved with seeing dentists and promoting their practices.

And since 62 percent of smartphone owners in the U.S. use their phones to look up information on health conditions, this social approach has experienced great results.

If you have yet to use social media to educate patients and promote your medical practice, this post is for you. I’m going to highlight how dentists are successfully using social content to educate their patients in spite of the anxiety, fear and “boredom” that surround dentistry.


Image courtesy of Inbound Systems.

You may be wondering what exactly you need to blog about because, let’s be honest, dentistry isn’t such an interesting topic that people would be excited to read about it on a daily basis.

Yet blogging is one of the best ways to provide reliable information on different oral health problems. It is also a great digital marketing technique for your dental practice. You can use it to advertise your services and increase sales.

Through a blog post, you can detail the causes, symptoms and treatment options for specific dental problems. People who visit your blog can learn more about their symptoms and make informed decisions about their dental health.

And since you will brand yourself as a qualified dentist, patients are more likely to trust the information you offer on a regular blog.

When this happens, you will have provided educational material, established yourself as an expert in the industry and given people a reason to seek your services.

So, what are you waiting for? If you are worried that you might not be able to blog for lack of writing know-how or the time to write, you can always hire a freelancer to assist you with your blogging needs.

Partnering with other specialists in online communities

Image courtesy of Jennings Healthcare Marketing.

As a general dentist, you may not have the expertise required to perform dental surgery on a patient. In such a case, you may need to refer a patient to an oral surgeon, orthodontist or another specialist. But you don’t need to wait for a patient to come to you in order to refer them.

Partnering with other dentists and specialists to form an association that is available to patients online can increase your visibility. This is especially so when you choose to partner with only highly qualified people like yourself and those who already have a following.

Such an association acts as a hub where patients can access a wide array of highly qualified dentists and specialists, all in one place.

If you’re still wondering what we are going on about, take a moment to check out Mexico Dental Network, an online community of 25 dentists and specialists from different clinics in Tijuana, Mexico. These dentists have come together to provide affordable services to American and Canadian patients.

So, when the local dentist is too expensive, the community provides a better alternative.

Use of fun videos

While blogging and online communities offer an interactive platform for passing information and answering questions, videos are working magic, too. Since dentists understand that their craft can get boring, they are now using fun videos to educate patients on dental care.

And because videos are expected to represent 74 percent of all internet traffic in 2017, fun videos seem to be winning. One such example is Milad Shadrooh, otherwise known as The Singing Dentist. He has reported overwhelming success as a result of his viral videos.

Source: The Singing Dentist, Dr. Milad Shadrooh.

Shadrooh records videos of himself singing parodies to popular songs, replacing actual lyrics with dental health information. He does so to encourage children on the importance of dental hygiene and raise oral health awareness.

In an interview with The Sun, Shadrooh says he is currently overbooked as a result of the videos. While his intention of posting the videos was to raise awareness on dental care, it turned out to be a successful marketing technique.

Fun videos act as an interactive patient education tool, as well as a great promotional technique. By incorporating videos into your educational material, a lot can change for better. And no, you don’t have to hone singing skills like Shadrooh. All you need is a reliable creative team.

Social media engagement

Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest are where most people hang out. And while business owners use websites to sell products and services, they also understand that social media plays an important factor in making sales.

Dentists, too, need to capitalize on this aspect and join the rest of their colleagues who are currently experiencing results.

To excel in educating patients through social media, dentists share before-and-after photos from their clinics, links to informative articles and various dental tips.

They also post their patients’ stories to encourage others with similar symptoms, provide testimonial videos and answer dental questions.

Source: My Social Practice.


Using social content to educate patients is an art that not only shares reliable health information but also promotes business. You can incorporate these four methods in your practice to reach a wider audience and improve dental care, promoting your business in the process.

James Jorner is a content strategist and marketer at Effective Inbound Marketing. His company specializes in online branding and digital marketing for businesses.

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HealthTap Uncovers The Secret Knowledge Network Of Doctors, Online

HealthTap Uncovers The Secret Knowledge Network Of Doctors, Online | Social Media and Healthcare |

Though the Internet has opened up access to much of world’s information, finding a specialist for medical advice still requires the age-old process of personally asking a doctor to suggest a trusted colleague. “There’s just no way in the world to do it right now, short of going to a primary care physician,” says HealthTap founder Ron Gutman, who wants to expose the hidden knowledge that exists among practicing doctors about who the best physicians are for specific treatments.

HealthTap, a medical social network for users seeking personalized, public advice from registered doctors, tells Fast Company that it is releasing an eBay-like rating system for its more than 10,000 participating doctors and their relevant expertise. We spoke with Gutman about how his system has incentivized doctors to go against the taboo of cricitizing their peers, how transparency brings credibility to online medical advice, and how HealthTap translates conversational descriptions of symptoms into medical language their doctors can respond to.


Incentivize Against Taboos

“Physicians are very loath to criticize each other, for fear that they will be criticized themselves,” says Dr. Geoff Rutledge, HealthTap’s Chief Medical Information Officer, who was a Harvard medical researcher before being executive at Healtheon, which eventually became WebMD. The taboo against public naysaying, argues Rutledge, has kept the Internet at bay, while other industries are transformed by more openness.

HealthTap’s solution to encourage doctors to evalute their colleagues was to keep everything positive: Doctors can either agree with a solution proposed by a colleague or offer their own. As with Facebook, on HealthTap, there is no “dislike” button.

“By defining everything that’s good, you can then choose among all the best answers, without having this aura or fear that individuals are being criticized.”

Racking up kudos like gold coins in Mario Brothers feeds the ever-present desire for repute in the medical community and a steady supply of patients. As HealthTap grows in size, and reels in more prestigious doctors (Harvard Medical School is the most popular school in the network), HealthTap has the aim of being the most comprehensive national ranking system for doctors.

The user interface itself is decked out in referral buttons and awards galore. Answers are accompanied by a giant “thank” button in the top right hand corner, and a doctor’s avatar is decorated like a military uniform, with their HealhTap score and expertise placed directly under their name. The doctor profile pages themselves prominently display the total number of patients they’ve reached, how many lifetime “thanks” and “agrees” they received. Like a wall of plaques in their office, the profile page prominently displays HealthTap’s own version of awards, some as silly as the “Healthcliff Huxtable award” for receiving 50 total “thanks.”  

The new “Docscore” will tally all of this into a number, and include “a physician’s network (i.e. what other physicians the doctor in question follows and vice versa, as well as the number and nature of interactions within the network). The number of physicians who refer patients or content to a particular doctor is also taken into account, along with a variety of trust-related data points collected about the physician from other online resources,” according to Gutman.

In other words, HealthTap aspires to create the national rating sytem for doctors and their expertise, using their own proprietary measures, making them the default rating for medical advice.

Yet, the cacophony of awards and ratings begs the question of whether HealthTap’s ratings reflect a doctor’s actual quality.


Community Truth

“At the end of the day, what you are getting as a patient is the physician’s community opinion on a certain question,” says Gutman. HealthTap, he says, can’t objectively verify whether the answers being given or the doctors given them on their network is better than just going straight to a nearby specialist. But, he argues, neither can a doctor’s visit: HealthTap simply mimics the process of getting a recommended solution in person, exposes it to a broader network, and lets the patient decide from (ideally) a wider buffet of possible choices.

Indeed, it may even incentivize doctors to discuss a point of disagreement more, since they have a vested interest in gaining a network of support. “What HealthTap allows them to do is to go and grow a coalition.”

HealthTap does not require board certification, only that they are licensed to practice medicine. In an email expressing concern about HealthTap to the New York Times, American Medical Association President Peter Carmel wrote that he hopes online medical advice can “complement, not replace, the communication between a patient and their physician.”

For Dr. Rutledge, HealthTap is about exposing more information than was previously available, which allows users to seek out the best specialist who can help them on and offline. “The user can see who has agreed with the answer, so they can evaluate the evaluator, if you will, through the system,” he says.

In other words, HealthTap is betting that radical transparency and authentic identities can be as meaningful as the otherwise opaque knowledge network that exists among doctors.

A Translator For Colloquialism


Searching Google for medical answers can often turn up irrelevant or spam-y results. For example, when this question was searched in Google, “Cellulitis from a spider bite, and hepatitis C. Is this serious?,” it wasn’t easy to find the fact that Hepititus C could be a serious complication. On HealthTap, their new algorithm alerts specialists and returns a potentially more relevant answer: “Hep C which includes interferon are generally immunesupressed. This is serious and need to be started on antibiotics, and may need intravenous antibiotics as soon as possible depending on the severity of infection,” wrote one doctor.

In a personal conversation, an experienced physician could quickly translate symptoms and colloquial names into the precise medical language a patient needs to seek more information and the right specialist.

To replicate this in-person experience, HealthTap is launching a comprehensive mapping database, to connect all the conventional search terms to their precise medical code.

“For example,” writes Gutman, “if someone hears that they’re at risk for Marfan’s disease, do they know that they should see a rheumatologist?”

If their mapping database can better match patients to treatments and doctors than Google, then HealthTap may be on its (ambitious) way to being the default national rating and search destination.

Regardless of how successful their system might be, HealthTap has given us a glimpse of how radical transparency and gaming can change the profession of medicine.

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SAME CONDITION: A Health Initiative to Build a Patient-to-Patient Network Worldwide 

SAME CONDITION: A Health Initiative to Build a Patient-to-Patient Network Worldwide  | Social Media and Healthcare |

SAME CONDITION ( is a global health initiative with the motto of “Collective Good: Collective Healing”. It is an online social networking for patients. It can be of immense value to people who are suffering from a particular disease and wish to share their disease experiences, treatment options, knowledge and, give support to other people suffering from similar health problems.

Newsgram’s Naina Mishra spoke to Dr. Bharti Raizada, CEO of Same Condition. Raizada is a Chicago-based anesthesiologist and pain physician. 



Dr Bharti Raizada


Naina Mishra: What precisely is Same Condition (#SameCondition) all about? 

Dr. Bharti Raizada: Same condition is an online sharing platform (healthcare social network) for people who have one or more medical condition. It is to make a network with people who have the similar medical condition(s) and are sharing symptoms and experiences along with their medical data. Our belief is that people suffering from a medical condition know the real challenges and also know what treatment works in their favor, hence by sharing their experiences they can bring a change in others’ lives as well. This will help people to get a better insight and perspective of a medical problem.

NM: What impelled you to start with the social health network?

BR: In the USA, most people have an electronic record of the medical condition(s) enabled through their doctor or hospital. But still, if someone wants to shift to another hospital, it takes times for the data to be transported whereas, in developing World, where the electronic medium of keeping records is not prevalent, it becomes difficult for the patients to maintain a record of their treatments. We thought to build a platform where the patients will always have the access to the medical data irrespective of the place they live in. Also, one can keep a track on their medical history. People over here can discuss side effects of any prescription or knowledge about a medical condition before starting the treatment. Another point behind introducing Same Condition is that there is no central agency which collects data on a large scale, but with this portal, researchers can make use of the globally collected data which may or may not be area specific. Our aim is to build the strongest patient-to-patient network on a global level.


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NM: Is the communication At Same Condition supervised by doctors? What if someone falls for a wrong advice?

BR: Same Condition website does not provide any medical advice. If some patients are sharing their experiences, the platform is just limited to that. In no way, can it supplant medical consultation or give an emergency treatment. In our communities, we also share and discuss things, but the communication is verbal. The difference, however, is that here at Same Condition,  communication will be in written form so that one can go back for any references.

NM: There are certain problems that people fear talking about. Will there be any measures on protecting the identity of the person at Same Condition?

BR: As per the US standards, our site will also be Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) compliant, which watches on safeguarding the patient’s information. We will do all the efforts to ensure that the patient’s information is not leaked elsewhere. The users can also choose to use a profile name that is not his/her real name.

NM: How far can Same Condition help people overcome their ailments?

BR: Well, first of all, people will get an understanding of their disease. Secondly, they will be able to keep a check on its inception, causes, and stage of the disease. One can make a network with people who have the same or similar condition(s) and someone will always be there to support you. During the interaction, you will also be able to build the energy to fight against the illness. It will also act as a moral support to those people. The research conducted on the data uploaded on the website will be provided to the patients as well.

NM: What is the timeline for your project?

BR: At this point, the landing page of our website Same Condition has just been launched. The website is being engineered. We hope to roll out an initial version by the festival of lights, i.e., Deepawali this year, which is in October.


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Feeling Blue? Social Media Colors Diagnose Depression More Accurately Than Doctors

Feeling Blue? Social Media Colors Diagnose Depression More Accurately Than Doctors | Social Media and Healthcare |

A computer model can diagnose depression based on an image in a social media user's post with an accuracy of 70 percent. While imperfect, this easily exceeds the 42 percent success rate achieved by general practitioners when assessing someone in person. The finding could lead to frightening privacy intrusions, but could also increase the chance of people getting the help they need.

Professor Chris Danforth of the University of Vermont had 166 volunteers provide access to their Instagram accounts, with a total of 43,950 photographs. They also provided records of their mental health, with 71 participants having been diagnosed with depression in the previous three years. Images were analyzed for features, such as whether they included faces, the filters applied, and responses received.

Danforth tried several algorithms, drawing on research showing people’s preferences regarding color and brightness change when depressed. In EPJ Data Science he reported that the most successful algorithm proves there is a reason we talk about “feeling blue”.

"Pixel analysis of the photos in our dataset revealed that depressed individuals in our sample tended to post photos that were, on average, bluer, darker, and grayer than those posted by healthy individuals," Danforth and his co-author, Harvard graduate student Andrew Reece, write in a blog post discussing their work. Those who were depressed steered clear of Instagram filters that make images look warmer or lighter, preferring Inkwell, which turns color shots to black and white. "In other words, people suffering from depression were more likely to favor a filter that literally drained all the color out the images they wanted to share," the authors write.

Color was not the only distinguishing feature. People with depression posted more often, but used photographs with fewer people in them, which the authors speculate may reflect the reduced amounts of socializing. However, the authors also note that since the computer did not distinguish between selfies and photos of others, there may be a tendency for people who are suffering to not post pictures of themselves.


All these may seem like easy patterns to learn, but when the authors had volunteers look at the same photographs, their capacity to identify who had depression, while better than chance, was not as good as the computer. Indeed, to the extent other people could recognize depression from the photographs, it seems they may be using different cues from the machine.

One aspect of the study that runs against intuition is that there were more comments on posts made by people with depression than those without. Danforth told IFLScience this made only a small contribution to the capacity to identify depression compared to other factors; “So I wouldn’t put much weight behind that finding.” Nevertheless, it raises interesting questions if verified, possibly suggesting friends and family who are aware of someone's depression use increased commentary as a way of showing support.

Danforth imagines a time when “You can go to doctor and push a button to let an algorithm read your social media history as part of the exam." Alternatively, “Imagine an app you can install on your phone that pings your doctor for a checkup when your behavior changes for the worse, potentially before you even realize there is a problem."

Such a process seems desirable, compared to the low reliability of general practitioners, possibly because their assessments are based on narrow windows of time. On the other hand, it’s not hard to imagine such assessments being done without people’s permission, particularly if the test was extended to other forms of mental illness – big brother really could be watching you.

Neither scenario is imminent. “This study is not yet a diagnostic test, not by a long shot,” Danforth said. “We acknowledge that depression describes a general clinical status, and is frequently combined with other conditions,” the paper notes. Moreover, the algorithm did a substantially better job of recognizing depression when it looked at photographs taken both before and after a diagnosis had been made than when restricted to those taken beforehand, suggesting some behavior may be reinforced by diagnosis.

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Make the patient feel like the absolute center of your world

Make the patient feel like the absolute center of your world | Social Media and Healthcare |

Several years ago, when I was working as a hospital physician in Florida, a patient’s wife said something that has always stuck with me. The service was very busy on that day, and I was doing my best to get through everybody in a timely manner. I was with a patient whose wife was at the bedside, beside herself with worry. I was focused on the main presenting complaint, but it was clear that the wife had a couple of questions that needed answering.

I stood up after spending a few minutes with them, and my body language clearly signaled that I needed to move on, despite the fact that I was still intending to answer her questions before I left. Sensing my hurriedness, the patient’s wife said to me (quite respectfully), “Doctor, I know my husband is just another name on your list, and you have lots more patients and are very busy, but his life is my world.”


I was a bit taken aback when she said this, partly because I’ve always considered myself very big on making sure I spend enough time with my patients. Nonetheless, I am glad that she said that to me, because it made me reflect upon the importance of what we do on a daily basis. I don’t think there’s any doctor out there who deliberately plans to seem in a hurry and cut their patients off, but at the same time, the realities of frontline medicine are such that physicians are currently overwhelmed with bureaucracy and computer tasks for every patient encounter. For their own sanity too, they can’t finish work at 11 p.m. every day! This has to be balanced with the need to always be available to answer questions and communicate well with our patients.



How hard-hitting but true those lady’s words were though. Just another name on the list. It’s something for every doctor to think about, because it’s so easy to get stuck in a routine, churn through the patient list, and forget that the person in front of you is a uniquely individual human being who is loved by so many people. They have stories to tell and their time in the hospital is a very low point in their life. They could have been waiting several hours for those precious few minutes they have with you, and when you’re in the room, they will frequently hang onto your every word.

I remember hearing a story once about the advice the current Queen of England, Elizabeth II, received very early on. It went something like this: Over the course of your life, you will meet hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of people. To you, it may feel like just a shake of another hand for a few brief seconds, but never forget that for the other person it could well be the highlight of their life, something they’ll always remember.


Now I’m not equating being a physician to being a King or Queen (although that would be nice!), but the same general principle applies. Those few minutes you meet the patient and their family when they are sick and unwell, will be their most important interaction of the day and they will acutely remember everything you say and how you act.

Do not take this responsibility lightly; it’s a privilege and honor to be in a position of such trust and authority (no matter how much it may feel like “just a job”). No matter how jaded or disillusioned any doctor is out there, they should still have an appreciation of this.

Therefore doctor, be fully present and treasure that patient interaction. It’s far more important than any box-ticking or paperwork exercise. Those moments will probably also be the most meaningful for you as well. Before you enter the patient’s room, take a couple of deep breaths and reflect on this unique responsibility and how you have the ability to really make a good impression. For those few minutes, make the patient feel like the absolute center of your world and very special.


Because as Maya Angelou said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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4 Marketing Metrics You NEED To Measure

4 Marketing Metrics You NEED To Measure | Social Media and Healthcare |

A few weeks back we shared our perspectives on where you should be spending your marketing dollars. This post is all about what you should be now tracking, to ensure you’re getting solid ROI on your marketing budget.

1. SEO Ranking

Prospective customers can’t buy you if they can’t find you. The fact is, 77% of patient use online search & reviews to choose their next healthcare provider with 84% of healthcare consumers relying on this channel, alone, to evaluate providers.

Given all the discussion we’ve been having about content clutter (here: The Future of Digital Media… and, here: 5 Steps To A Captivating Story), it’s no surprise that people are viewing content and social proof as minimal qualifiers to their conversion journey prior to purchase. Therefore, what has started has come full circle with websites and SEO being of pivotal importance in the current climate of online marketing… even as it serves to be word of mouth 2.0 — being that > 80% of patients trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations!

2. E-tail to Retail Conversion Rate

Everything you’re doing online is essentially e-tail. While you may not have an e-commerce store on your website or social media outlets, what you ARE doing is positioning your company’s brand for purchasing behaviors aligned with a buyer psychology.

This is one of the reasons why having a patient facing website is so important. Clinician facing content tends to drive prospective patients away and doesn’t serve to capture that much more talent acquisition as much as social media would. In any case, the key element here is the aggregate of all your digital leads per time period (monthly, quarterly, and year-to-year comparisons are appropriate — after all, you want to compare like seasons versus short term fluctuations).

And, so… what you want to do is sum all the: click-to-calls, website driven calls, email and online scheduling appointments, free screening requests, DMs, SMSs, etc etc etc.  — of all these digital requests, how many walked through the front door? AND… of all those who walked through the front door, how many stayed to initiate a course of care or engage with a service/product line?


  1. You’re getting a poor ratio of online visitors to online leads, you need to up your digital marketing game.
  2. If you’re getting a poor ratio of online leads (e-tail) to front door (retail) prospects, you need to up your team’s nurturing game — likely with set scripts and brand standards.
  3. If your retail conversion itself is poor, then you likely need to work your retail marketing savvy which includes your sales strategies and tactics.

As an example: RECHARGE NUMBERS… how many sign up for a free session then convert?

3. Profit Per Lead Source

One of my favorite lessons in business strategy and operational finances is the Profit Pool Analysis. While this thorough; yet, sometimes terribly exhausting exercise, reveals incredible insights into the true opportunities in current and potential revenue activities… the shortened version of measuring profit per lead source can be similarly effective while saving on time/effort required to implement.

Essentially, breaking down profit per lead source bypasses the myopic temptations of focusing only on channel specific metrics such as open rates, click rates, cost per clicks, cost per lead, costs per impressions, cost per reach, etc. etc. etc. After all, all these cost based and single moment user behavior metrics are just that… they are ONE DIMENSIONAL and yield very little insight as to HOW a marketing channel is truly performing.

With a savvy office manager and/or a solid EMR reporting system, a practice can easily break down its first round of analysis by three major types of lead sources: (1) referral sources; (2) word-of-mouth by customers, both past and present; and, (3) looping the remainder into the category of digital marketing.

These three major categories can be broken down into sub-segments, such as:

  • Referral Sources
    • Primary Care vs. Specialty (ie. surgery, pain management)
    • Payer (ie. case manager, insurance adjuster)
    • Strategic Partnerships (ie. yoga studio, CrossFit gym)
  • Word-Of-Mouth
    • Past patient vs Current patient
    • Family/friend of past patient vs. of current patient
  • Digital Marketing
    • SEO
    • Adwords
    • Facebook organic
    • Facebook ads
    • Instagram
    • Instagram ads
    • Snapchat
    • Twitter
    • Yelp
    • YouTube
    • Email Marketing
    • DM Marketing
    • Etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

PLEASE NOTE: It is severely important to recognize that the entire cluster of referral sources count as ONE typology of lead source; just as with energy companies, technology companies, real estate companies — should you invest in their stock — while there are many companies, each belong to ONE typology because they all belong to the same economic circumstances. I can’t express how important this is in running an agile and accurate marketing strategy, particularly when so very many referral sources have gone dry for even the largest of organizations in our space — everyone is flocking toward direct-to-consumer channels.

All together, Profit Per Lead Source tells you where you should be focusing your dollars, and, where you should be easing off the gas. When combined with other management metrics, you can even determine the internal marketing contributions of clinician as well! #BrandEquityAddedFTW

4. Analyzing Abnormal Returns (Quarterly Campaign ROIs)

Comparing apples to apples is at the core of what makes metrics meaningful.

In all my formal MBA education, there’s nothing better in this space than analyzing market returns when trended against current and projected company growth. After all,  you shouldn’t be comparing week to week or month to month. That’s basically like watching the stock marketing and having an anxiety attack.

However, gauging your company’s Q1 this year versus last year is a great way of accounting for seasonality while comparing apple vintages. It also gives you precise insight as to what your quarterly campaigns are actually drawing in and what is otherwise noise; after all, the beauty of digital marketing is that everything can be data driven vs. guess and check — just as you would with a pre-intervention assessment and post-intervention re-assessment, the very same approach can be utilized here… quarter by quarter, campaign by campaign, year by year, channel by channel.

Ultimately, keeping up with metrics is a question of how meaningful and how actionable these metrics are going to be. It may very well be the case that you’d benefit from hiring an in house marketing for $70k a year. Or, it may be that you’re better outsourcing for someone else’s core competencies — whether by partitions or finding an all-in-one solution.

Whether you’re an owner, an officer, a corporate director, or a manager: the definitive answer to this has much to do with what type of company you wish to be running.

Are you company that wishes to grow through the assimilation of knowledge capital and core competencies? Can you reasonably scale in this direction?

If Yes, it’s time to grow a marketing department. If No, then it’s time to consider bringing on strategic solutions as to not waste time reinventing the wheel or waiting until the right time to build an entire vehicle all at once.

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[CASE STUDY] How One Physical Therapy Clinic Increased Their Social Media Following By 1,100%

[CASE STUDY] How One Physical Therapy Clinic Increased Their Social Media Following By 1,100% | Social Media and Healthcare |

An independently owned physical therapy and rehabilitation clinic in Central Florida knew it was time to do something about their limited social media fan base. Recent regulatory changes eliminating the necessity for a physician referral increased the need for direct to consumer marketing efforts.  They knew their potential patients were on social media and that it was now or never for them to establish a presence online.

The practice wanted to reach and engage with existing and potential patients but weren’t sure how to go about getting the results they wanted. To complicate matters more, the staff was stretched incredibly thin because they were opening new offices every few months, leaving nobody with the necessary time or marketing expertise to develop a social media strategy, engage with followers and manage their accounts.


About the Client

The independent physical therapy and rehabilitation clinic has more than 20 office locations spanning more than 100 miles. They pride themselves on providing one-on-one, compassionate physical therapy, occupational therapy, certified hand therapy, sports performance and athletic training. Because the clinic is in Florida, they can provide these services without a physician referral.

The Challenges

The practice was overwhelmed with the everyday task of running a growing business. Regulatory changes created a shift in their target audience and demanded they pivot their marketing focus from providers to consumers. In other words, it was a whole new ballgame, with entirely new players on the field.

The practice knew they wanted to pay more attention to social media and what patients were saying online, but did not know how to grow their audience or increase their presence on social channels (one of the first places a patient will research before scheduling an appointment).

Key staff simply did not have time for marketing strategies and did not know where to start when it came to targeting potential patients (who can now self refer) on social media. They needed to build an online fanbase of people who already knew and loved them while simultaneously reaching potential patients in their surrounding clinic service areas. With zero engagement amongst a near non-existent social media presence, this was going to be an uphill climb.


Check Out the Full Podcast Episode About this Case Study


The Solution

The physical therapy and rehabilitation clinic knew that growing their social media presence was necessary for growing their business and engaging potential patients at a low, measurable cost moving forward. They decided to partner with Insight Marketing Group to outline goals, create content, implement a digital advertising strategy and develop key metrics to help the clinic reach and engage current and potential patients throughout the Central Florida region.

Ultimately the overall strategy for the practice was to implement a Patient-First Strategy; leading with the patient, their experience, and the results. Insight Marketing Group knows that patients sharing their outcomes is more powerful and effective than any other messaging and it works to create an immediate connection with potential patients while serving as a key differentiator when compared to other area competitors.

Insight Marketing Group worked with the client to identify successful patient outcomes and tell their story. Video, long-form articles, testimonials, and even photo boards (that Insight Marketing Group trained the staff how to use) were all employed to tell their story.

The social strategy, specifically, included:

  • Targeted digital ads on Facebook
  • Original digital and physical content (custom posts, blogs, graphics, etc.)
  • In-office signage to engage current patients
  • Social listening
  • Online reputation management
  • Ongoing monitoring and adjustment
  • Staff training and coaching

The Results

Managers at the physical therapy clinic love the numbers. Insight Marketing Group effectively took the headache and daily social management responsibilities off of their hands while delivering monthly progress updates on growth and engagement.

With only a $200 dedicated monthly social budget, the practice has seen up to a 100% year over year increase in social growth.  Their story has been shared to more than 100,000 potential patients including 10% engagement. Traffic to their website has increased 77% since implementing their new social media strategy.

Best of all, social growth has affected their bottom line – contributing to nearly 500 additional appointment requests filled through the website alone.

“Once we told the team at Insight Marketing Group what we wanted to accomplish, they were off and running,” says John, owner of the physical therapy and rehabilitation clinic. “They really took the time to get to know our practice and dig into what we wanted to do; then they presented us with a strategy, graphics, content, a sample budget and key metrics to measure success. Getting started was simpler than we could’ve hoped for and the end results continue to exceed our expectations.”

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Hospital Impact—To improve patient engagement, leverage the power of digital content

Hospital Impact—To improve patient engagement, leverage the power of digital content | Social Media and Healthcare |

Most medical offices have adopted the use of technology, online marketing and social media. They’ve also embraced content in the form of blog posts, videos, social shares and more.

But while it’s not a new concept in the medical field, the challenge has become how to use this material to increase patient engagement. When patients are engaged in their medical care, they may be more proactive and able to receive a greater benefit from available health services. This can also lead to improved health and, ultimately, a better experience with a physician or facility.

To use content as a method for boosting patient engagement, it’s important to create and test different types of online media, creating a mix of materials that your patients can interact with, use and share. This content could include infographics, photos, quizzes, online calculators, educational blog posts and videos.

Use the following tips, ideas and expert advice to improve your patient engagement with content.

Create content that will be found

Before a new patient walks in the door, he or she has likely learned a great deal about your facility and your staff. As with any other business, individuals Google your practice, check online reviews and look for recommendations. This is especially true for millennials, according to a recent survey, which found that 54% of people ages 18 to 24 say they search online for health information and rely on online physician ratings before seeing a doctor.

If patients are searching, you need to be creating. The more content you have to be indexed by Google, the more likely it is to come up in a search. If your article is the one that current patients click on, all the better; they’ll be impressed that their physician’s office has such great information online.

Here are a few ways to take advantage of this and create engaging content that patients, both current and new, will want to come back to:

  • Design and write content based on keywords with a high search volume. Check search volume with Google’s Keyword Tool to ensure you’re writing about something people are looking for online.
  • Encourage readers to comment with questions or concerns. This is the best form of engagement because you can be impactful with your responses, building trust with current patients and driving new ones.
  • Of course, when patients comment, this feature should always be monitored for responsive feedback.
  • Make “share” buttons visible so readers are more likely to share content on social media. If your patients’ friends see the blog post, they may be more likely to seek out your practice for care as well.

Pro tip: Create content based on patient questions. When the blog post or content is live, send it via email to the patient who asked, saying, “Thanks for your great question. We decided to answer it in a blog post!” They’ll feel special and your office will look even more valuable.

Create content that will educate

A 2013 study conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that 72% of U.S. internet users had gone online in the past year specifically for health-related information. This is a potentially dangerous rabbit hole for patients, with so much information available, much of which is incorrect. But what if patients and prospective clients knew they could come to your site for factual content that they can trust?

Become the No. 1 source for legitimate and trustworthy health information, related to your specific area of health, to impress and build further trust with your current patients. Then, let word-of-mouth marketing do its job: An endorsement from someone the potential patient knows is more impactful in terms of trusting the recommendation than online ads, according to a 2015 Nielsen report.

Pro tip: Make sure your content is both educational and interactive to boost engagement. At least once a month, go beyond blog posts to create interactive content like quizzes and symptom checkers. Infographics are also a good way to communicate important and confusing information, and in our fast-paced world, you’re more likely to get readers to scan an infographic than read an entire blog post.

Connect with email

While phone calls are still necessary for one-on-one patient communication, such as follow-ups and appointment reminders, email gives you a chance to reach more patients at once. A study from Catalyst Healthcare Research found that 93% of adults want to use email communication with their doctor.

The key is to consistently send high-value content to your patients. For example, you may create a “Flu Guide” for the winter season, with tips and tricks for staying healthy during that time of year. Perhaps during allergy season, you could publish an infographic on your blog about reducing symptoms and then send it in an email blast to your patients about getting through the “Spring Sneezing Season.”

Pro tip: End each email with a call to action. In the flu example, your CTA may be, “Call us to schedule your flu shot today!” with a link to your online scheduling software. This makes the content emails valuable to you and your patients and encourages engagement.

Create an app for your patients

Your patients already do everything on their smartphones, so why not make it easier for them to monitor their health and interact with your practice on their mobile device? You can create an app for patients to make and check appointments or get creative and add fun, interactive features like calculators, calorie counters and activity trackers. Your patients are much more likely to follow doctors’ orders when you incentivize or gamify treatment plans or give them a way to track their behavior.

Nine in 10 patients said they would use an app “prescribed” by a physician, and 30% of patients already use apps to monitor their health conditions, according to an infographic from eVisit.

Pro tip: Building an app can be costly and will take time. Start with the most valuable features and ideas first, perhaps based on what your patients have requested, and add more as you learn what’s most engaging.

Patient engagement is one strategy to achieve the Triple Aim of improved health outcomes, better patient care and lower costs—and content can help you get there. You may not be able to implement all of these strategies right away, so pick a few that make sense for your practice, and track the results. Check in with patients about what they like and don’t like, using their feedback to improve content and ultimately, engagement.

Gilbert C FAURE's comment, August 19, 5:00 AM
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The rise of digital marketing: pharma and social media. earthware's thoughts, opinions and geeky tech blog

The rise of digital marketing: pharma and social media. earthware's thoughts, opinions and geeky tech blog | Social Media and Healthcare |

Most pharma companies use social media channels to broadcast content rather than converse with their audience. Typically, this follows two themes; broadcasting corporate news including regulatory approvals, appointments and disease awareness, and releasing other notable items, such as the latest data from congresses or stats on epidemiology.

Unlike many other industries, there is little attempt to use social media as a platform for conversation. This is primarily a result of the regulatory challenges faced by the industry.

There is still little in the way of true innovation in digital marketing across pharma. For most companies, having an e-detail, brand website and corporate twitter account ticks the digital boxes. Digital remains an afterthought of the marketing plan after the exhibition stands, symposia and patient leaflets have been ordered.

Fear of the known

The risk of not adhering to industry codes of practice means there is an inherent fear of digital channels and, in particular, social media. With most companies requiring approval of all external communications it is very difficult for pharma to converse over social media and certainly not with the immediacy that users demand.

Trust issues

There are a couple of key issues that reduce the impact pharma can have over digital channels. Firstly, social media users are used to engaging in conversation and debate. Pharma’s inability to engage in this way means their social media presence is far less engaging for patients and doctors than other content providers.

Secondly, there remains a distrust of industry. Deloittes’s report on pharma's adoption of social media* highlights the challenge, with 75% of doctors surveyed indicating a lack of trust in pharma.

Pharma companies should consider partnering with third parties who are trusted by their target audience. Partnering with professional bodies or third party networks offers great opportunities for industry to provide access to clinical data and insights which their partners are not able to deliver on their own.

HCP engagement

The rise in popularity of platforms such as, Medscape, Epocrates and Sermo indicate that like any consumer, HCPs are using digital platforms to engage with the content they want. In addition, HCPs are increasingly using digital platforms as a way of receiving medical education, whether via webinars, or new platforms like twitter’s Periscope. Tools like Skype are also being used increasingly by HCPs in their day-to-day working, including conducting MDT meetings with remote colleagues or even patient consultations.

As the traditional access to HCPs continues to increase in difficulty, perhaps a mix of online and face-to-face conversations will enable pharma reps to be more efficient.

Where the journey begins

Listening is key to developing digital solutions that meet the needs of HCPs and patients. Social listening, for example, by searching the web to see what’s being said about your company or products is a great way to gather insight and there are many free tools out there to get you started, such as Google Alerts.

Speaking to HCPs and patients and asking them to describe the patient journey and mapping out the challenges and gains at each point helps identify where solutions are needed. Co-create solutions with HCPs and patients rather than stopping at co-design. Co-creation means involvement at each step of the process as you design, prototype, test and refine solutions. Start small, get something out there and learn as you go.

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