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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. 

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

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

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

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Five Reasons Why Physicians Need to Use Social Media

Five Reasons Why Physicians Need to Use Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Physician participation in social media is a health care imperative according to Dr. Kevin Pho, a practicing internist and the founder, a leading online health portal; however, many physicians remain skeptical about the value of social media.  At an Ethics Forum hosted by the Massachusetts Medical Society on December 2, 2011, Pho suggested several reasons why physicians need to embrace new ways to communicate with their patients.

A social media epiphany

Pho began blogging in May, 2004 as a way to share links to health care resources and talk about health care reform.  In the fall of 2004, when the Merck drug Vioxx was recalled, Pho’s office was flooded with patient phone calls.  In response, Pho decided to write a blog post about the recall.  When one of his patients mentioned that the blog post had reassured and comforted him, Pho recognized the tremendous potential of social media.    He realized that patients want health information but are overwhelmed, frustrated, confused and even frightened by what they find online.  Health care professionals, Pho noted, can play an important role by becoming a reputable source of online information or by directing patients to reliable sources.  

Making the case for social media participation

Pho offered five reasons doctors should participate in social media:

  1. Provide context.  Pho pointed out that every day new health stories are published.  Social media is a powerful way for physicians to provide context and meaning to the news items that patients read and view.
  2. Dispel myths.  Online health information can be medically and factually inaccurate.  To maintain physicians’ standing as health care authorities, Pho emphasized that it is critical for doctors to use social media to counter myths perpetuated by inaccurate health information.
  3. Influence the health care debate.  Pho cited the results of a Gallup survey which concluded that patients trust physicians regarding health care policy. Participation in social media gives physicians a way to express their views and influence the formulation of policies that will shape how medicine is practiced.
  4. Choose social networks carefully. There are many different social media networks today. Facebook has been the most popular for a long time, but others are gaining traction too, such as Instagram. It’s a good idea to buy Instagram likes and invest in other social networks, since they are changing the marketing landscape for the healthcare profession.
  5. Connect with mainstream media.  Experience with social media can provide physicians with the skills they need to connect with mainstream media.  For example, Pho noted that writing his blog gave him the confidence to write op-eds for mainstream news publications.
  6. Hear what patients have to say.  Social media gives patients a place to express their frustrations and concerns about health care.  By listening to patient feedback on his blog, Pho has changed the way he practices medicine.  He now offers same day appointments, doesn’t take his laptop into the exam room and makes sure patients receive their test results.

Rules of engagement

Prior to using social media, Pho suggested that physicians consult guidelines, such as those prepared by the American Medical Association or the Massachusetts Medical Society.    He emphasized that patient privacy always comes first.  He also offered these pointers:

  1. Tiptoe into social media.  Start small by establishing a presence in a single social media community.   Expand your presence as you get more comfortable.
  2. Stay professional.  Pho advised that rules for online and offline professional behavior are identical:  behavior on the web is no different from behavior in the exam room.
  3. Think twice before you hit enter.  Pho reminded attendees that what you post on the web is permanently indexed by search engines so post thoughtfully not impulsively. 
  4. Manage your online reputation.  According to Pho you can’t get delete a negative online review but you can downplay its significance by creating a healthy online presence.  He noted that any page you put in your own name such as websites, blogs or social profiles on Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook, will rank more highly in search results than reviews on third party rating sites.  Additionally, he suggested being proactive by asking patients to submit reviews. He noted that most reviews are positive.  He also encourages doctors to Google their name at least once a week to continually monitor and protect their reputations.

 Pho closed by noting that the true value of social media for physicians may be its ability to strengthen and preserve relationships with patients.

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How Much Is a New Patient Worth to Your Medical Practice?

How Much Is a New Patient Worth to Your Medical Practice? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Determining the lifetime value of a new patient can help your medical practice run a more informed and cost-effective business.

In an increasingly competitive healthcare environment, there’s no way around the fact that in order to get a seat in the table, you have to ante up. That means investing in a variety of digital marketing tactics, such as search engine and social media advertising, content marketing, and website optimization. But how do you determine how much budget you can spend on patient acquisition while still remaining profitable?

By determining the actual lifetime value of a new patient for your medical practice, you’ll be better prepared to set realistic goals, build an impactful strategy, and justify your decisions to administrators. Most importantly, by assigning a hard value to each new patient gained, you’ll gain a practical understanding of what kind of marketing budget is appropriate in order to maximize your practice’s profitability.

How to Determine a Patient’s Value

The real question is, how do you actually go about calculating the lifetime value of your patients? It’s best to begin with the basics. Of course, you want the number to be as accurate as possible — but a bit of estimation is expected and perfectly acceptable. Here are a few of the considerations you should take into account:

  • Average cost of each in-office visit
  • How many times the average patient receives treatment
  • Average number of peer referrals per existing patient
  • Average recurring revenue generated by each patient
  • Revenue from procedures

For example, if you typically charge $120 for an in-office consultation, and the average patient visits the practice about five times per year, each patient is worth a minimum of $600 per year. However, if each of those patients, on average, makes two referrals that result in new appointments, their value effectively doubles. And that’s not even factoring in recurring revenue from follow-up visits, as well as revenue from procedures.

Then you have to consider that value over the course of a lifetime — the longer the patient stays with your practice, the longer you’ll continue earning the same amount of revenue (and sometimes even more) year after year.

Once you’ve identified the average baseline value of each new patient, you can determine all sorts of things, like how much you can afford to spend on various digital tactics while still remaining profitable.

Maximizing the Lifetime Value of Each Patient

Now that you’ve determined the potential lifetime value of each patient, it’s time to focus your efforts on improving that value. The good news is this is a relatively simple thing to do.

You should strive to make your practice as patient-focused as possible, both online and off. By improving the overall patient experience, you bolster loyalty, retention, and referrals. In an increasingly competitive healthcare environment, the value of a solid reputation is immeasurable. Also, remember that it’s much more expensive to find new patients than it is to hold onto existing ones.

At the end of the day, the deeper your understanding of who your patients are and the lifetime value they represent, the better you’re able to build the business side of your operation. By reducing revenue-related stress and uncertainty, you can focus more of your attention on quality of care, treatment, and patient satisfaction — in other words, the building blocks of a successful and sustainable medical practice.

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6 Legal Issues When Healthcare Gets Social 

6 Legal Issues When Healthcare Gets Social  | Social Media and Healthcare |

In the healthcare world, today’s patients demand greater flexibility, convenience and cost transparency when they access health care. This has changed the face of communications for the healthcare industry. Patients are increasingly turning to online sources and social media for information-related health issues. In fact, a recent global survey revealed that 29% of health industry respondents believe that social media for external communication, collaboration, and commerce is currently of the highest strategic importance to their organization.

However, as the healthcare industry seeks to drive down costs, there are 6 legal risks can arise when healthcare providers use social media and other new forms of communications:

  1. Patient Privacy – HIPAA and state privacy laws limit healthcare providers’ ability to interact with patients through social media and other forms of communications. HIPAA and state privacy laws prohibit healthcare providers from disclosing patient information without proper patient authorization. Information protected by HIPAA includes anything that can be used to identify a patient, including pictures. A healthcare provider discloses patient information without patient authorization in violation of HIPAA and/or state privacy laws can be subject in fines and other penalties.
  2. Litigation & eDiscovery – Healthcare providers and insurers are vulnerable to lawsuits from a wide variety of sources, from consumers, regulatory bodies and even employees, all of which translate into high cost and risks. One of the challenges of litigation is the growing complexities of litigation preparedness, especially around information management.
  3. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the parties involved in a lawsuit are required to make good faith efforts to produce all information, written or electronic, requested by the opposing party. Failure to do so would result in expensive fines, the loss of the lawsuit and negative publicity
  4. Fraud and Abuse – Federal and state laws aimed at preventing fraud and abuse in health care prohibit healthcare providers from giving third parties anything of value as an inducement for the third party to generate referrals to the healthcare provider for services which may be reimbursable by Medicare or Medicaid. Paying third parties to use social media to talk up a healthcare provider’s services may present risks under laws aimed at preventing fraud and abuse, such as the federal Medicare and the Medicaid Patient Protection Act of 1987 (“Antikickback Statute”).
  5. Tax-Exempt Status – Healthcare providers that are exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code are prohibited from intervening in political campaigns and from seeking to influence legislation as a substantial part of their activities. This restriction may extend to advertising on or sponsoring social media or other public sites that support a political candidate or particular pieces of legislation.
  6. Physician Licensing – Healthcare professionals need to be careful about providing medical advice to patients using social media. If a patient receiving the medical advice from a doctor through social media is located in a state in which the doctor is not licensed, the doctor giving the advice risks liability under state licensing laws.
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Yelp for drugs? Sermo debuts drug-rating tool for doctors featuring reviews, ratings and comments

Yelp for drugs? Sermo debuts drug-rating tool for doctors featuring reviews, ratings and comments | Social Media and Healthcare |

Like consumers who scroll Amazon reviews, doctors looking for opinions on prescription drugs have a new place to turn. The Drug Ratings online database, launched last week by physician social network Sermo, allows doctors to tap into peer reviews, ratings and discussions about drugs.

The database—open to Sermo’s 650,000 members worldwide—was in beta until recently but already includes more than 1,000 drugs and more than 250,000 ratings. Drugs are rated anonymously across five different factors: efficacy, accessibility, adherence, safety and tolerance.

While pharma companies won’t be allowed to participate in the rating system, of course, Sermo will allow them access to the aggregate data. A Sermo spokeswoman further clarified via email that Sermo “will never share what any specific doctor has said about a drug, or anything else. Sermo exists to offer doctors a place to anonymously and collectively drive medicine forward, and Drug Ratings adheres to the same privacy standards as everything else on the Sermo social network.”

Sermo will not serve banners or any other advertising on the Drug Rating tool, she said.

Neurologist Heidi Moawad, M.D., was one of the beta testers of Sermo’s Drug Rating tool and found it helpful not only to look at other doctors’ ratings but also in providing an outlet for sharing.

“Doctors care a lot about sharing information. I know myself if I’ve had a negative side effects with a drug I want to share it with other doctors. You want people to have the most information possible when prescribing medicine,” she said.  

She likened the Drug Ratings tool to similar exchanges that happen in person in the hallway of a hospital or in a physician’s office corridor, where one doctor asks another for their opinions and experiences with a particular drug.

As for the pharma review of aggregate data, Moawad said she hopes companies might use the information to improve drugs, for instance, when there are many similar complaints about the same side effect.

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Five Ways to use Social Media to boost Private Medical Practice Marketing 

Five Ways to use Social Media to boost Private Medical Practice Marketing  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Expanding the patient base is the aim of every medical practice. However, nowadays traditional marketing practices are expensive and less effective. They are often also not responsive and do not give the desired result. Using social media can help any private medical practice boost patient traffic. Today, Facebook, Linkedin, Googel+, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter are the way! Advocates of social media stress over increasing online presence to improve business. This can also help boost patient base. Using social media to engage patients is the best way to better customer services. Doctors who update on the changing trends of the world and patient experience have the edge over other physicians. Social media provides an easy way to see what patients need. This helps turn obstacles into opportunities.

Five Ways to use Social Media to boost Private Medical Practice Marketing

Social Media, The Marketplace to Search Private Medical Practice Providers

Social media helps patients search private medical practice providers. It also helps physicians in improving different aspects of patient care. Keeping a tab on the latest health trends has become popular. Health trends that go viral online can help better engage patients and visitors. Such patterns reflect the needs of the people. A hospital can use social media to know what people talk about. It can target patients using proper strategies. Sharing content that caters to people’s needs on social media can guide patients to a particular medical service.

Spread The Message and Attract Patients

Proper use of social media helps a doctor to be known as an expert in his field of medicine. It is an excellent vehicle to promote one as a thought leader who focuses on promoting quality patient care. A family doctor can use social media platforms to share health tips. Share articles from medical websites about different diseases like allergies, chronic conditions, or ones that affect children. Such posts could entice patients and leave a good impression on them. This helps when the patient is thinking of switching to a new doctor.

Let Everyone Know How Awesome You Are

Social media is the best place to build a rapport with patients. Share new data or answer patient queries. Aim to respond to all comments, questions, and reviews with accurate and engaging content. The way a hospital, health care center or doctor responds to negative comments carries weight over positive reviews. Unlike customer complaints that take several days, the ones on social media can be quickly resolved. Though certain content is private, a public apology is viewed as an action taken in the right direction. When issues are resolved fast, patients realize that customer services are not taken lightly. Patients prefer such doctors and centers over ones that are not available for their patients.

Guide Patients To Your Clinic

A good way to improve patient volume via social media is to keep your contact information updated. It makes it easier for tech-savvy patients to locate a doctor and book an appointment online. Young people too find it easier to access such details via the internet. Mention all details right from the clinic address, its location using online maps, telephone number, email, office hours. Share links to any related website for ease. Booking appointments online is a new feature offered by many clinics. You can integrate your practice with one of the apps that already has that feature. Patients can schedule a visit from the comfort of their home with just a few clicks. This provides a platform to promote special hours or holiday offers. One can let patients know in real time about available last minute appointment bookings. Thus, booking canceled at the last minute can be filled by other patients. Providing excellent patient feedback on social media profiles can put you in a better position.

Use of social media for boosting one’s practice can seem like a lot of work initially. However, a planned strategy can help market your practice rapidly. RxTap offers all in one private medical practice management solution provider. Contact Us to know more about social media solution and services offered by our awesome team of expert digital marketing experts.

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5 Facebook Advertising Tips for Your Healthcare Marketing

5 Facebook Advertising Tips for Your Healthcare Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

Whether you’re running a doctor’s office, health clinic, med spa, or another healthcare business, marketing on Facebook is a cost-effective way to capture attention and leads from potential patients. Facebook advertising is a great option for healthcare providers because it introduces your services to your target audience when they aren’t actively searching, but are still receptive to engaging with your content on the Facebook website or app.

Here are five tips for creating effective Facebook advertising for your healthcare marketing strategy.

1. Reach Exactly the Right Audience

One of the glorious things about Facebook advertising is that it allows you to reach the exact people in your target market. If you run a med spa in Dallas, your ideal customers might be females in Dallas over the age of 35. With Facebook’s targeting capabilties, you can easily narrow down your target audience based on location, gender, deeper demographic data, interests, and more, ensuring your ads only reach people well within your target. You can even set up your ads to reach more specific users, such as people who have already visited your website or those in your email database.

2. Use Emotionally-Positive Images

When it comes to healthcare marketing, you want to ensure your Facebook ad images convey a positive experience and outcome for your potential patients. For example, you can choose an image that shows a smiling person enjoying their teeth cleaning, a friendly and welcoming staff, or state-of-the-art facilities. And, don’t forget to refresh your images regularly to test which ones work best for your audience.

3. Take Advantage of Video

Many healthcare providers we work with see great results with video ads because video allows them to highlight additional aspects of their business that win over prospects when they’re on Facebook. For example, a video ad could be used to provide a tour of your office, introduce potential patients to your providers, explain a complex procedure, or showcase patient success stories. Keep your videos brief, and if they include a voice over, add a caption overlay to help engage users who prefer to watch on mute.

4. Use Lead Ads to Get Inquiries

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the different Facebook objectives available to your business. Lead Ads is a powerful Facebook advertising option that encourages users to sign up right on Facebook to get news, price quotes, and appointments from your business. The user’s data is pre-populated in your Lead Ads form, making it easier than ever for them to respond, and for you to start collecting contact information of interested prospects.\

5. Keep Patient Privacy in Mind

As a healthcare provider, it’s always important – and often necessary – to keep a potential patient’s information private and secure. In order to keep your business compliant with HIPAA or other regulations, make sure you’re using processes and systems that allow you to protect any new lead information you get from your Facebook advertising, whether it’s through a lead form or phone call. Consider working with a digital marketing partner that can provide you with immediate access to your lead data as well as the level of security you require.

Remember, you don’t have to rely on search engines alone to market your healthcare business online. By incorporating Facebook ads into your healthcare marketing strategy, you can reach highly targeted consumers where they are spending time, take advantage of visual creative elements that grab their attention, and convince potential patients to sign up for information right then and there.

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Compliance is No Longer an Excuse for Healthcare to Ignore Programmatic 

Compliance is No Longer an Excuse for Healthcare to Ignore Programmatic  | Social Media and Healthcare |
Programmatic advertising refers to digital marketing that targets consumer preferences. It works by saving cookies to the web browser when certain pages are visited. This information is then used to create online advertisements that are targeting that specific consumer. This is why people often see advertisements for products they recently viewed.

How Programmatic Benefits Healthcare

Incorporating programmatic advertising can benefit the healthcare industry in a number of ways. The first and most obvious benefit is that patients and potential consumers receive focused ads. Patients won’t be bombarded with advertisements for services and products that are irrelevant to them, and providers can ensure that they are advertising only to the patients who will be interested in what they have to offer. Thus, programmatic can save both parties time and money.

Programmatic data is collected based on how consumers and demographics best receive information. Some are receptive to articles or direct links to a product page while others prefer content such as videos or downloadable educational materials. Targeted advertising can provide relevant content across all of these channels.

Perhaps one of the greatest advantages is the potential for social media to create significant marketing opportunities. Even many who are not technologically savvy have Facebook. This provides opportunities for healthcare products and services to use page advertisements and articles of potential interest.

What is Advertised and Who Benefits?

There are a wide variety of services and products that can be promoted using programmatic. Individual practitioners, medical centers, and hospitals can use it to make customers aware of their services and encourage them to participate in awareness campaigns. For instance, a consumer who previously searched for a pain management practitioner might see a social media advertisement for a local provider.

Health insurance companies can use targeted advertising to promote their services and offer customers coverage. A consumer interested in generalized health might be alerted to free health screenings or events in his current town. Manufacturers of consumer products generally used for preventative or focused care, such as walkers or bathtub lifts, can use it to promote these products with consumers who are most likely to use them. A patient in need of mental health services might receive alerts for practitioners.

Privacy guidelines are more strict in healthcare than in other industries which is a big reason the industry is one of the last to jump on board. Restrictions are placed on what can be advertised. For instance, consumers are not to be targeted for specific medications or known conditions. If a patient searches for information regarding a particular mental health concern, such as PTSD, he cannot be targeted with advertising for that condition.

Healthcare providers can benefit from programmatic to gain information concerning effective medications, treatment plans, and certifications. For instance, if a provider is due for PALS recertification, focused advertising based on automated electronic knowledge of search history and other online activity can alert him about available courses and times.

How Programmatic Can Be Used

It is true that some consumers are not happy with the concept of “smart” digital advertising as they feel it is a breach of privacy. However, the benefits seem to silence the naysayers. The obvious concerns about privacy can be laid to rest with one simple adjustment: allowing the patient to opt-in. For instance, it is difficult for a hospital to provide focused advertising without violating privacy laws. However, if the patient consents and opts into information from that entity, then focused advertising will be permitted. For this reason, it is almost unreasonable for health care centers, providers, and hospitals to not utilize programmatic advertising.

Basically, the concept for programmatic advertising remains the same whether it is being used in healthcare or other industries. In order for it to be effective, the right information has to reach the right people at the right time. Automated research and a basic knowledge of the target audience will ensure that advertising time and space is not wasted.

Programmatic must be utilized as a part of a whole marketing campaign. While it can be especially beneficial, it should not be the only marketing focus. A properly researched and implemented strategy will effectively utilize targeted digital marketing and ensure the highest opportunity for success.

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4 Ways Social Media is Boosting Healthcare Brands 

4 Ways Social Media is Boosting Healthcare Brands  | Social Media and Healthcare |

There are four key ways that social media is proving to be a big success in healthcare.

Figure 1: PwC Health Research Institute social media consumer survey, 2012

1. Reviews

People are seeking out reviews on social media about healthcare providers – and making their decisions based on what they find. This is especially true for people coping with a chronic condition or managing their diet, exercise or stress. 42% use social media for health-related reviews, whether it’s asking their network for health tips, good dentists in the area, or going private for an operation.

2. Information and insight

Around a third of social media users seek out information about health conditions. So companies that embrace social media as part of their marketing strategy can engage with patients in helping them access information.

Novartis is a great example. Very active on Facebook and Twitter, they link to content about particular innovations and health conditions – from Motor Neurone disease to migraines. Using patient stories helps drive shares and comments.

3. Other patient’s experiences

Some of the most active people on social media are individuals coping with health conditions – and hearing from others in the same boat is invaluable. Organisations such as Diabetes New Zealand use social media to encourage and direct participation in their web-based diabetes awareness chats. Other brands tap into Facebook member groups to share expertise and advice specific to a condition or illness.

4. Video

24% of customers view health-related videos on social media. Whether it’s ‘top superfoods for diabetics’ or animations showing how knee surgery works, there’s a wealth of content out there.

Health providers are busy creating that video content and Google’s Think Insights revealed that YouTube traffic to hospital websites has increased 119% in a single year.

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What’s on your Facebook page? Study says many new doctors post unprofessional content 

What’s on your Facebook page? Study says many new doctors post unprofessional content  | Social Media and Healthcare |

What’s posted on your Facebook page? It might be time for some self-editing, as a new study found that many new doctors are posting unprofessional content on the social media site.

In fact, researchers found that 40% of 201 public profiles of young urologists had posts that they described as unprofessional or had potentially objectionable content, including 13% that reflected “explicitly unprofessional behavior.” In those cases, posts included depictions of intoxication, uncensored profanity, unlawful behavior and confidential patient information, according to the study published in BJU International. What’s more, the content was self-authored in 82% of those categories.


Researchers from the urology section at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire searched Facebook for the public accounts of all urologists who graduated from U.S. residency programs in 2015. Many contained self-authored content that was considered unprofessional based on the guidelines of three physicians’ organizations, the American Urological Association, the American Medical Association and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. When it came to unprofessional content, it didn’t make a difference whether the new doctors were men or women or held an M.D. or D.O. degree.

"As a new generation of social media-savvy physicians graduates from residency and enters practice, these findings raise concern about their professional behavior, online and offline," the study’s lead author, Kevin Koo, M.D., said in an announcement.  


Physicians should educate themselves and follow social media guidelines to stay out of trouble, as FiercePracticeManagement previously reported. Not only should physicians be concerned about protecting patient privacy on social media, but they also need to be sure they present a professional image in the online world.

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Do you know what your doctor has shared on social media? 

Do you know what your doctor has shared on social media?  | Social Media and Healthcare |

How much information should doctors and medical professionals share on social media?

The ethical and legal pitfalls facing health professionals in an age of instant‚ global communication are akin to a minefield.

The furore around low-carbohydrate high-fat advocate Tim Noakes is a case in point.

He emerged victorious after a long and bruising disciplinary after giving dietary advice to a breastfeeding mother on Twitter.

Academic dismissal‚ employment termination and deregistration from professional boards are some of the sanctions faced by health professionals abroad.

Brenda Kubheka from the School of Public Health‚ Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand says a whole new generation of medical students have emerged with digital footprints and established social media habits “unimaginable to their seniors”.

Writing in the South African Medical Journal‚ she cited a study that found 52% of undergraduate medical students admitted to having “embarrassing photos on Facebook”.

But‚ she warned‚ the same laws and codes of conduct apply in cyberspace as they do in the real world in a paper titled‚ Ethical and legal perspectives on use of social media by health professionals in South Africa.

“Failure to uphold ethical standards on social media exposes patients to embarrassment and psychological harm‚ thus undermining the principles of beneficence and non-maleficence‚” she wrote.

Social media is a valuable tool for health promotion due to its massive reach. Group-based communication using WhatsApp enables medical professionals to communicate about shift work‚ traffic issues and‚ for example‚ share pictures of patients when requesting second opinions from colleagues.

Kubheka’s paper offers some useful pointers on cyberspace etiquette for medical professionals. They include:

– Think carefully before accepting friend requests from patients or sending friend requests to them‚ because of the risk of blurring professional and personal lives.
– Sharing patients’ photographs‚ even for educational purposes‚ might constitute an invasion of privacy.
– Do not take photographs without obtaining informed consent from patients.
– Share generic information online. Avoid responding with direct medical advice to individuals.
– Making negative comments about colleagues and patients on social media can be viewed as bullying and unprofessional.

“Professionals ought to ask themselves before posting on social media whether sharing certain information is legally and morally defensible‚” said the paper.

It recommended that the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) “develop social media guidelines and train medical trainers in this specific area”.

Medical schools were also encouraged to address social media issues.

more...'s comment, May 24, 1:50 PM
Nowadays, social media is so accessible that anyone who has a smart phone or computer can upload anything they want on the internet. This means that information is easier to be passed on to others. This also means that anyone can pose anything, even those which are confidential. Therefore, we must be careful in uploading anything as it is impossible to remove anything from the internet.
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Doctors can learn something from United's woes

Doctors can learn something from United's woes | Social Media and Healthcare |

By now, we have all seen the cell phone footage of a doctor being dragged off a United Airlines flight. I’ve seen it on Twitter, on Facebook, on cable news and read about it in the printed press. I’ve been texted links to the various videos each from different angles but all showing the same images — a man being dragged away with a bloody face. This has prompted quite a bit of discussion. Why do airlines overbook? Could they have handled it better? Why didn’t he just de-board the plane? Why was airport security so aggressive?

These are all great questions, and we can from this situation. For starters, I am not telling anyone on a United Airlines flight I am a doctor. Secondly, there are some very talented meme creators out there. More importantly, I think in health care we can and should learn from this tragedy.

Here we have an overbooked flight — something that routinely happens every day — that devolved into a social media firestorm that has cost United Airlines hundreds of millions of dollar in stock value alone. Social media justice is swift and exponentially powerful with each passing moment. We would like to think that something like this has nothing to do with our day to day practice of medicine, but I would point out that every day we have countless routine interactions with patients.



I would hope and pray that none of them end up with us having a patient dragged from an exam room forcibly with blood trailing the path out, but some of our interactions are likely to go less ideally than we would have hoped. Some of our patients are going to be upset with how things turned out. We know this since we all get those dreaded Press Ganey comment scores every month.

We don’t like looking at them. We come up with reasons why they aren’t valid. Maybe they aren’t the best judge of how things went, but we live in a day and age where that patient experience can and will end up on Facebook, Yelp, Twitter or countless other forms of social media and explode into something we could never image and forever damage our ability to care for patients.


Many people are looking back at the United Airlines incident and wondering why they did just offer more money to have a passenger voluntarily leave the flight. Some reports even indicated that airline staff scoffed at the idea of offering more compensation to passengers. In retrospect, that small sum of money seems insignificant to the fallout — financial and otherwise — that erupted. In that same thought process, when we see a patient encounter moving in a negative direction that we didn’t anticipate, we have two options.

The first option is to quickly assume we have done all that can be reasonably expected of us and demand change of the patient to scoff at the idea of doing more. The other option is to stop for a moment, step back from the situation and think, “Is there a way to make this a positive experience for the patient even if you feel you have done more than any reasonable doctor would do? This could prevent that negative online review that snowballs into a social media nightmare and help build a relationship with a patient that allows better care going forward.

After the initial reports came out about United Airlines, the airline’s first response seemed to lay blame with the passenger just as our first reaction when we see an online review is to want to post a long explanation indicating how the patient showed up late, didn’t listen to us, wanted narcotics or thought that sea salt could cure cancer. In the case of United Airlines, the first responses didn’t sit well with anyone. In the case of our patient reviews, I would think those responses will have a similar reaction.


Every day, we have routine interactions just as an airline boards passengers countless times a day. Every day one of these interactions can become negative. If we truly want to take care of patients, which is why we all got into this, we have to work harder when things don’t go as expected — just as United Airlines should have worked harder to make it right. In this day of social media, it’s not only how to provide good care and what patients expect of us, but it is also the standard social media justice will hold us accountable to.

The United Airlines incident was a terrible situation that hopefully will never happen again. I learned from it as an airline passenger, doctor and patient. I hope you did too.

Nari Heshmati is an obstetrician-gynecologist and can be reached on Twitter @nariheshmati.

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Build a Social Media Toolkit! Strategies for organisations to engage and optimise their social media platforms

Health Evidence presented an interactive 90 minute workshop at the 2017 Cochrane Canada Symposium. Participants learned about techniques, strategies, and resou…
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How To Get More Patients From Social Media

I walk you through what the top practices are doing to get a consistent flow of new patients instead of waiting around for referrals
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Social Media and Tech for Health Research

A part of the Workshop on Social Media for Health Research at ICWSM 2017, here we go over the recent history of health-related social media and other technolog…
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Social Media and Health: Information Overload?

Social Media and Health: Information Overload? | Social Media and Healthcare |

For plenty of us, focusing on and filtering information can be a challenge. Gutenberg opened the information floodgates first with the invention of the printing press. Similarly, all the devices and channels we now use to access that information, with social media playing a starring role, made information more available—and took away social restrictions on who publishes new content.

So why would having more access to information be a problem? Because of the health effects of social media. As Paul Hemp pointed out in the Harvard Business Review, “Researchers say that the stress of not being able to process information as fast as it arrives—combined with the personal and social expectation that, say, you will answer every email message—can deplete and demoralize you.”

As more and more information is hurled at us more frequently and in new, more invasive ways, our attention span diminishes while we simultaneously feel guilty for not being able to keep up. Then we’re faced with the dilemmas of whether sources and their information are credible. And heaven forbid we receive conflicting messages. The irony of this is, though researchers warn of social media’s potential ill effects on health, it’s also one of the newest vehicles healthcare professionals can use to connect with their patients.

Side Effects of Social Media: Pros and Cons

The average person spends nearly two hours a day on social media. In the course of a human life, that equates to 5 years and 4 months spent staring at the screen. But research suggests that level of use isn’t healthy for everyone.

A 2015 study conducted by Ottawa Public Health found that teenagers who were logged in for 2 hours a day were more at risk for mental health problems, including psychological distress and thoughts of suicide. However, researchers were careful to point out that despite the clear connection between social media and mental health, causality cannot be determined. Heavy social media usage may play a role in poor mental health, but it is also likely that poor mental health drives users to satisfy unmet needs through social media, opening a vicious cycle.

Satisfying those needs through social media is not necessarily a bad thing. Aaron Harvey, who founded Intrusive Thoughts, a resource network for people struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), told one reporter that if users access social media for connection and community, its original purpose, “then the benefits outweigh the costs.” Harvey also said he believes that while it’s easy to blame social media for poor self-esteem, social media isn’t the problem. How we engage with it and allow it to penetrate our daily lives, on the other hand, is.

Social media and mental health: There are some proven benefits.

  1. Fosters community and togetherness, giving even those who live alone more potential connections
  2. Allows users to keep in touch with friends and family members from great distances
  3. Makes it easy to gather lots of information quickly

However, the reverse is also true for some who use social media.

  1. Decreases number and quality of in-person interactions
  2. Encourages dependency on devices, which can cause anxiety for those trying to keep up with notifications and alerts
  3. Causes depression in some heavy users who compare their lives to friends’ online representations

As with anything in life, moderation and balance are key. Social media has become such an ingrained part of our existence that it isn’t realistic (or necessarily beneficial) to cut it out completely. Instead, director of Pitt’s Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health Dr. Brian A. Primack explained, “Because social media has become such an integrated component of human interaction, it is important for clinicians interacting with young adults to recognize the balance to be struck in encouraging potential positive use, while redirecting from problematic use.” One potential positive use would allow patients to connect with their healthcare providers on these platforms.

Self(ie) Help

There are a few steps you can take to help yourself navigate social media in your personal life with less stress.

  1. Turn down the notification noise to a dull roar.
    “Alerts and notifications can increase anxiety,” Harvey pointed out. Try turning off your application notifications, and only check social media during certain times of the day.
  1. Introduce a level of purpose to your social media channels.
    Focus on who and what you follow on social media feeds. Eliminate the things that increase your anxiety. “If you had to go with one primary social channel, what would it be and why?” Harvey asked. “I think there’s a lot of pressure on people to be on every platform.” No, you don’t have to deactivate your Facebook—or your Instagram, your Snapchat, and your Twitter—“but at the end of the day, you have to take a step back and figure out what’s actually meaningful for you and not just on trend,” he said.
  1. Balance social media with real-world interactions.
    Don’t lose sight of your current ways of connecting with friends. If you’ve always met up once a week or had a Friday night phone call, a group text isn’t an appropriate replacement.

The Social Media and Healthcare Connection

Some health professionals are beginning to use social media and other new technologies to meet the general populace where they are and bring healthcare to them.

“We see social networking sites, which may be a problem for some, also being a solution,” Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold of the Interactive Media Institute in San Diego said in a statement reacting to the Ottawa Public Health study’s findings. “Since teens are on the sites, it is the perfect place for public health and service providers to reach out and connect with this vulnerable population and provide health promotion systems and supports.”

Here are just a few of the ways healthcare professionals are using social media and other new technologies to connect with patients.

Using the Internet as the world’s largest medical library. The wealth of information online, and the ease with which it’s updated, means doctors can stay up to date on the latest research, technology, and treatments. (And a smartphone is a lot less unwieldy than those thick medical tomes.)

Encouraging accountability between patients and providers. Reviews are ubiquitous on social media, and doctors work with the knowledge that any patient can publish their experience in a matter of minutes. Sixty percent of doctors feel that social media has improved the care patients receive.

Producing apps so patients can track progress toward health goals. There are 165,000 health-focused apps out there, and half of them are free. These apps can help encourage patients to achieve their goals or track progress between doctor’s appointments. Apps geared toward diet, stress, sleep, exercise, reproductive health, medication reminders, mental health, and diabetes are just a sample of what’s out there.

Creating accurate, credible resources. Because anyone can publish information online, some healthcare providers feel a responsibility to provide their patients with content they can trust—and to share that content on social media. And patients tend to be more receptive to content from doctors than from health brands. Even more striking—60 percent of people said they trust social posts from doctors more than any other group out there.

Maintaining social media accounts for offices or practices. More than half of all physician practices in America have a Facebook page. Medical professionals also have a presence on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and even 4Square. These accounts offer patients a way to leave and read reviews as well as helping doctors reach more potential patients and recruit staff.

Scheduling appointments and following up with patients. When patients can use social media to request appointments and doctors choose this channel for follow-up conversations, agile response time is a big benefit.

Social media may just be a powerfully effective way for providers and patients to communicate, according to cardiologist Dr. Kevin Campbell. “Patients are already in cyberspace, and social media allows physicians to figure out what they are thinking, what they are doing, [and] what we can do better to serve the patients’ needs.”

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Exploring social media as a public education tool to increase awareness of early psychosis intervention

#EPION2017 Session D1. NorthBEAT 2.0: Exploring social media as a public education tool to increase awareness of early psychosis intervention and its services …
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Social Media use within medical education: A systematic review

Background: Since the early 2000s social media has become a major part of our daily lives, and over the past decade it has found its way into the medical profession. Despite its ubiquity, only 5 systematic reviews exist on the subject of social medial use within medical education. The reviews conclude that there are positive correlations linked to social media use however the studies are restricted by the same limitations: a lack of quantitative data and the fact that social media research fast becomes outdated. This review will therefore examine the latest studies in order to identify which questions remain to be answered and what areas need further development in order for social media to become a credible resource within medical education. The information gained from this process will be amalgamated to create a valid questionnaire which will produce quantitative data.

Methods: A systematic review of Pubmed, Cochrane, PsychINFO, ERIC & Scopus was conducted following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. The search was from 1st January 2014 to the 12th January 2017 and included keywords linked with social media and medical education. 27 papers were identified: 12 qualitative and 15 quantitative. From this data a questionnaire was drafted and put to a focus group in order for it to be validated.

Results: Six major themes were identified and analysed: community & interactivity, communication & feedback, learning theories, social media vs traditional didactic lectures, role of faculty and professionalism. Quantitative data was limited but highlighted the efficiency of social media use especially when Facebook and Twitter were used. After the analysis a validated questionnaire was produced.

Conclusion: Social media can be a useful tool within the medical curriculum if implemented correctly. The final questionnaire can be used to generate quantitative data on the following questions: which platforms are most effective and for what purposes? How beneficial is social media to teaching? and What do students understand the benefits/disadvantages of academic social media platforms to be?

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Should You Trust Medical Advice on Social Media? 

Should You Trust Medical Advice on Social Media?  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Be honest: have you ever came across a Facebook post for “How to lose weight”? What about other health-related topics like, “How to treat an infection without going to a doctor” or “The best way to treat cancer without chemotherapy”?

We’re all curious about solving problems ourselves. After all, we all know how much we love going to the doctor and getting a routine check-up. (We hate it!)

It turns out that we tend to believe more ‘medical advice’ on the Internet than we should.

This is not according to us. This is according to doctors in Abu Dhabi.

According to medical experts, more and more people are seeking health advice online and on social media. This, they say, can lead to very ineffective – even dangerous – consequences.

A Few Short Stories about Medical Advice on Social Media

In 2017, there were two patients; let’s call them Sara and Mariam.

Sara was a little self-conscious about her weight and wanted to lose a few kilos. She saw an article on Facebook about “How to lose weight.” It showed how this weight loss medication would help her lose 10 kilos in 2 weeks. After the first week, she noticed swellings all over her body within a few days. After finally going to the hospital a week later, she found out that she had kidney failure due to the pills she took.

Another woman, Mariam, is pregnant and had Type I diabetes and was taking insulin. She came across a video on YouTube from a ‘medical expert’ claiming that insulin is not the right treatment and stopped it on her own accord. She later had to be taken to the emergency room because she developed complications related to low blood sugar.

Some Advice on Medical Advice Online

The stories above speak for themselves. However, doctors are becoming increasingly worried because they’re realizing how much social media has taken over their patients’ lives. Nowadays, people can share false information with a couple clicks of a button… and it’s even worse among youth!

If a source has a large number of followers (or any other social currency), chances are your kids will take advice without questioning the integrity of the website or the sources from which they got the information.

Some Advice on False Medical Advice

After reading these stories, you might be wondering, “How can you tell whether the medical advice you’re reading online is true?”

The truth is, unless you have a lot of experience in the area, you can never be entirely sure whether what you’re reading is completely accurate.

That is why it’s always important to follow these three things whenever you come across an article online:

1. Go to a Doctor

Our first piece of advice is the most obvious one: get an expert’s opinion.

It is important to be informed, but make sure you are informed by the right people. Don’t to confuse experience and anecdotal evidence with expertise. Someone could easily tell a story about how something similar happened to them so you should use the same treatment they did because it worked. Always get a second opinion by someone who is medically licensed to diagnose you.

If you come across something online that you’re not sure about, don’t be afraid to consult with your doctor about it. Most of them are more than happy to answer any questions you may have and provide an explanation for you.

2. Fact Check on Social Media

You may scroll through you social media feed of preference and come across an article or a piece of advice that isn’t accurate.

You may have read a comment online that offered advice about how to lose weight, how to make baby formula at home,

Word of advice: do not believe everything you read on social media. Make sure you read articles (and their comments) critically. You never know whether the person writing an article has a personal agenda or just doesn’t have enough expertise on the subject.

3. Be Selective with Your Sources

It’s very easy to come across something that matches your beliefs online. You can find an article on any health-related topic and you will find an opinion that matches yours.

Try to find a source you can rely on that is affiliated with a medical facility. It could be a medical journal, a hospital’s website, or even an individual doctor who is well-trained in their field.

(Just be sure to understand their credentials very well.)

If you’re ever confused about where you can get more information, have a face-to-face interaction with your doctore. (See Point #1)


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Pharma Must Embrace Its Social Media Role

Pharma Must Embrace Its Social Media Role | Social Media and Healthcare |

The absence of pharma brands on social media creates a significant void of reputable healthcare information to aid patients, writes Dawn Lacallade, LiveWorld.

Social media permeates virtually every aspect of a person’s digital life. Patients are using social media as a major source of information and an integral part of their healthcare research journey. It is therefore imperative that pharma companies be present on social media to provide full and balanced information to consumers.

To understand how social media channels can best benefit patients, it is important to understand the patient journey and the needs that drive people to use social media as a source of information.

When patients begin having symptoms, they will often begin a digital research journey, which includes searching social channels. Their initial discoveries often occur before or in parallel with a healthcare professional (HCP) visit. The subsequent HCP diagnosis then triggers a second wave of research. Newly-diagnosed patients go online to seek more information about their conditions from both credible sources, and from people like themselves — this patient’s emotional story can attest to the healing power of social support.

Over the past 20 years, social media has played a significantly larger role in healthcare research and support. It is especially helpful for patients with chronic, recurrent disorders, such as psoriasis or arthritis. If patients continually vent their frustrations about their disorder to friends and family, they tend to fatigue their personal support system, which is why social media groups become a key source of patient support.

A patient's journey on social media to research and understand the afflictions, as well as connect to other patients.

As patients share their stories, they become a significant source of information to those actively seeking their perspective. But at times this information can be incorrect, unbalanced, and even irrelevant to someone whose condition is even just slightly different. While their symptoms may appear consistent, it’s often difficult for an untrained patient to have a clear understanding of what is on-label and accurate for their particular condition.

With current FDA guidance, pharma companies aren’t able to easily join the conversation to provide accurate, balanced information. Regulations mandate that, within a single social post, brands must provide accurate details on the benefits and risks associated with conditions and products. Given the character limits associated with many social communication channels, most pharma companies stay out of the conversation entirely. This means that when patients take to social media, the information they find may not necessarily be from reputable, accredited sources. It may be marginally inaccurate at best, significantly harmful at worst.

To illustrate the magnitude of unregulated misinformation in social channels, I was part of a recent review of comments on the drug Cialis on Twitter. We found that a full 49% of mentions were from illegal pharmacies that often include only benefit information, or incorrect information in their tweets. An additional 8% of comments were from individuals talking about Cialis and the benefits with no balance. This second group was highly concerning, because of the high instance of off-label or unlabeled secondary benefits they may have incorrectly attributed to Cialis. In addition, 11% of tweets were about negative perceptions that ranged from actual adverse events (2%) to negative effects of long-term use. In all, only 2% of the information about Cialis on Twitter was credible. (Note: 15% of the comments were not applicable.)

It is more important than ever to add to the sources of credible, high-quality information on health conditions, their treatments, and drugs available. It’s crucial for pharma companies to provide balanced and credible information on social media, so they can take part in the patients’ digital research journey.

Dawn Lacallade is LiveWorld’s Chief Social Strategist and Pharma Practice Lead.

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Here’s Why LinkedIn Matters to Your Medical Practice

Here’s Why LinkedIn Matters to Your Medical Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |

The adage is true: don’t go to the party if you’re not going to dance.

In this week’s podcast we sit down with Danielle Owings, Insight Marketing Group’s social media strategy specialist, for an in-depth discussion about LinkedIn. The key takeaway? LinkedIn matters to your medical practice, but not in all the ways you might think.

According to Craig Smith of DMR Stat Reports, LinkedIn has almost 500 million users, including 128 million users in America alone. Of them, 90% make household decisions, and 14% don’t use Facebook. That means for hundreds of potential patients, LinkedIn is one of their main social hubs and what you post may make the difference between an appointment with your office and a competitor down the street. Oh, and don’t forget that by ignoring your LinkedIn page, you are potentially neglecting an incredible human resource talent to fill open positions at your practice.

Used the right way, LinkedIn can be a great tool in your social media marketing strategy and an effective way to brand your practice with a targeted, engaged audience.

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Online Physicians and Health Reform – By the Numbers

Online Physicians and Health Reform – By the Numbers | Social Media and Healthcare |

As you’re likely aware, the US House of Representatives last week narrowly passed House of Representatives Bill 2192 – more commonly known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA) or Trumpcare. There was a time when physicians wouldn’t have been considered terribly “political,” and there still is a strongly pervasive “culture of permission” in medicine (see Dr. Bryan Vartabedian‘s thinking on this evolving phenomenon). However, like many other things we’ve taken for granted in the Trump era, the old rules really just don’t apply.

In order to assess physicians’ reactions to our most recent version of health reform, we consulted the MDigitalLife Online Health Ecosystem database. As a frame of reference, during the 3-year period between 2014 and 2016, .43% of physicians’ posts were related to health reform*. In the “new normal” of 2017, that percentage has risen to 3.1%, an increase of more than 6x.

Because we suspected that the passage of HR2192 in the house was going to cause a firestorm among online physicians, we decided to zoom in on the week that it was passed – Monday the 1st of May through Friday the 5th of May. As suspected, the passage of the house bill caused quite a stir.

NOTE: All statistics below are based on a random sample of 10,000 US Physicians posting between January 1, 2017 and May 5, 2017.



In and of themselves, however, those numbers don’t mean much. What is really interesting, though, is looking at those numbers in the context of TOTAL online physicians’ posts. Remember, we established that in the “old normal,” .43% of US physicians’ posts would be about health reform. And in the new normal, about 3.1% would be about health reform. On Thursday of this past week (5/4/2017), the day that the AHCA passed the house, a staggering 28.7% of US physicians’ posts were about health reform.

One of the things we’ve learned after years of studying online conversations is that going strictly by the number of posts can be misleading because it’s possible for a few very heavy posters to sway the balance for an entire population. For that reason, we also look carefully at the number of unique authors involved in every conversation. In this case, the unique authors were also explosively high – 16.9% of all physicians who posted on the 4th of May, posted something about health reform.

Fig. 2 – Percentage of US Physicians posting on Health Reform from 1 May to 5 May, 2017

Just as the debate around health reform has been a volatile one, so has physicians’ participation. Unsurprisingly, the spikes in the participation have been centered around votes (or anticipated votes) in the house.

Fig. 3 – Percentage of US MDs posting about health reform relative to all physicians posting

It’s also quite telling to examine these conversations in terms of who physicians are engaging as they post about health reform; in other words, who are they talking to and about. Below is a mention map illustrating exactly who these US physicians are talking to and about as the post on health reform during the week of 1 May, 2017. Click on the image (or here) to be taken to an interactive version of this map, in which you can identify each node by name.

Fig. 4 – “Mention Map” – Who are US physicians talking TO and ABOUT in health reform conversations

An upcoming post will focus on identifying some of the attitudes & sentiment of these physicians relative to health reform and its architects. However, I can tell you that anecdotally, the posts have been overwhelmingly oriented to physicians expressing concern about patients ability to receive adequate care should the AHCA pass the Senate. In fact, many physicians have been actively soliciting their peers for opinions; some more formal than others. I wanted to draw your attention to a particularly fascinating (and passionate) online conversation sparked by Esther Choo, MD/MPH, a member of the faculty at the Oregon Health and Science University’s Center for Policy and Research in Emergency Medicine. Dr. Choo made such a request (see below) that has garnered nearly 200 responses along with almost 2,000 retweets (so far). It makes for a fascinating read – I encourage you to read some of those responses, and join in yourself as appropriate.

There’s much more to come on this subject; in the meantime please don’t hesitate to reach out to the MDigitalLife team should you have any questions related to the reporting you’ve seen here, or would like to see how you and your organization could leverage the unique data, analysis and insights that are made possible only through the MDigitalLife Online Health Ecosystem database.

*Based on a random sample of 25,000 US physicians posting between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2016 – a sample size of 21,451,617 posts

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Marketing your practice on social media platforms

Marketing your practice on social media platforms | Social Media and Healthcare |

Put a plan in place now for both your general online and social media presence so you can use them to effectively to communicate with and educate patients, said Kimberly Cockerham, MD, and Usiwoma Abugo, MD, Central Valley Eye Medical Group, Stockton, California. Dr. Cockerham and Dr. Abugo reviewed popular online sites and shared some tips for how to use them effectively Your website Even if you are part of a website for an institutional setting, you still may have your own business website. In Dr. Cockerham’s subspecialty of plastics, physicians are especially more apt to have their own websites. Keep your website communication simple and effective. “Less is always more,” she said. Include a photo of yourself; use a professional photographer who is skilled with photo editing to optimize a natural yet enhanced photo that makes you look professional but also friendly, Dr. Cockerham advised. It has long been thought that keywords are important for websites, but title tags and meta tags are now the key to help people find your website, Dr. Cockerham said. Speak with your webmaster to learn more about the appropriate tags. Two more tips from Dr. Cockerham: 1.  Keep the text on your site simple (for example, use “eye lift” instead of “blepharoplasty” or other medical terms). 2.  If you have multiple locations, focus your website marketing efforts on where you want more referrals, such as a location where you might have more premium IOL or refractive cataract patients. To get a better sense of how Dr. Cockerham approaches website design, visit her site at Check your online presence Check your online presence Do an online search of your name and your practice to see what you find, Dr. Cockerham recommended. Go beyond just the first page to read what information comes up. See where you can add your picture on certain sites (such as sites that aggregate information about doctors), and have a staff member verify that factual information is accurate--this can include your location, website, and phone number. 5/12/2017 2/3 1. Twitter Twitter is a great way to educate patients, but it is underutilized right now within ophthalmology, Dr. Abugo said. Twitter is important because you can influence via education. This is an area where ophthalmology is lacking behind other specialties,” she said. The specialty of plastic surgery shines ahead of other specialties in its usage of Twitter, both on the part of surgeons as well as to report research findings, Dr. Abugo said. “When you have effective communication [on Twitter], you gain followers, which equals more patients, which equals more money,” she said. If you are unsure what to tweet on Twitter, you can set up Google alerts on specific topics, and the alert system can automatically post to your Twitter account, Dr. Abugo explained. 2. Instagram and Snapchat. Both of these social media apps can help mold the landscape for future patients, especially younger ones, Dr. Abugo said. In fact, some younger patients will turn to an app like Instagram for medical information before they use an online search engine, she explained. Both are used to share photos and short recorded stories, and hashtags are used to lead people to view them. Use these apps to post live surgeries and Q & A sessions, Dr. Abugo suggested. Add appropriate search terms with hashtags to lead people to your posts—for example, #eye or #uveitis. Facebook, YouTube 3. Facebook “Facebook is the newsletter of today,” said Dr. Abugo, who emphasized the site is a great tool to connect with your local community. Use it to establish your presence and share information about new procedures and new staff. As patients visit your clinic, ask them to become fans or follow you on Facebook. 4. YouTube The popular video site can be used to post information about procedures. While in medical school and while preparing for cases in residency and fellowship, Dr. Abugo would often search procedures on YouTube and watch the related videos. Create a YouTube library of procedures and related educational information; many patients who come to the practice mention they have seen her videos on YouTube, Dr. Abugo said.  Kimberly Cockerham, MD

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Young Doctors Urged to Be Mindful of Social Media Behaviors

Young Doctors Urged to Be Mindful of Social Media Behaviors | Social Media and Healthcare |

According to a study published in BJU International, young doctors often have unprofessional or offensive content on their Facebook profiles.

Kevin Koo, MD, PhD, a urology resident at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH, and colleagues queried 281 doctors who graduated from US urology residency programs in 2015. 

The investigators found that 72% had a publicly identifiable Facebook profile. Next, the researchers looked for content deemed unprofessional or at least potentially offensive.

The team found such content in 40% of the profiles. Unprofessional content included images or references to drunkenness, drug use, or unlawful behavior. It also included posts that divulged protected patient information. 


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

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


Koo K, Ficko Z and Gormley EA. "Unprofessional Content On Facebook Accounts Of US Urology Residency Graduates." BJU International. 2017. doi: 10.1111/bju.13846 [Epub ahead of print]

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