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Fake News Woes in Healthcare

Fake News Woes in Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Social media platforms and other modern channels of communication make it easier for people to interact and share information. The problem comes when these communication channels and devices are used to circulate false or misleading information, including "fake" healthcare news.

The number of patients influenced or confused by research or misleading reports is a “pervasive” issue for healthcare providers, according to Roy Buchinsky, MD, director of wellness for University Hospitals in Cleveland.

“The problem today is that there are so many outlets where you can get information, whether it's Dr. Google or any of the TV sites you can get,” Dr. Buchinsky noted.

The more worrisome part is that fake medical news can have patient care consequences. Many patients fail to read beyond a viral headline, and, particularly if stories are linked to highly communicable diseases, it can have significant impact on a patient’s physical and emotional health, FierceHealthcare has reported.

Patient misinformation is compounded by the way the current media landscape operates, said Kelly McBride, vice president of the Poynter Institute, which promotes responsible journalism and offers training for reporters and media outlets.

Part of the problem, she pointed out, is that scientific research doesn’t always necessarily gel with how journalists like to do business. The scientific process is often slow work.

“In science, good information is really boring,” McBride said. “Science doesn’t leap ahead the way journalists like to cover it.”

Groups that deny climate change or spread false information about vaccines often seize upon that slow pace, claiming there are still unanswered questions even if there's a clear scientific consensus, she said.

So what can providers do to help correct the issue of patient misinformation? Doctors can guide patients toward more accurate information during regular visits. Providers can also turn to social media and engage with their patients directly online, where much of the misinformation is spread.

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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 | Scoop.it

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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Social Media and Patient Engagement in Healthcare

Social Media and Patient Engagement in Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

The ability to engage patients is an essential aspect of healthcare. Without it, patient healthcare costs can rise as a result of increased hospitalizations or not adhering to a care plan. With outcome-based reimbursement becoming the norm, this may lead to a reduction in revenue. Harnessing the power and effectiveness of social media is one [...]

The ability to engage patients is an essential aspect of healthcare. Without it, patient healthcare costs can rise as a result of increased hospitalizations or not adhering to a care plan. With outcome-based reimbursement becoming the norm, this may lead to a reduction in revenue. Harnessing the power and effectiveness of social media is one way to increase patient engagement in their own health care and reduce these issues.

Why Social Media?

During a speech at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference, Dr. Kevin Campbell, a cardiologist made a compelling case for the use of social media in patient care using three tools. Facebook Live, Twitter, and blogging all have a visual or video component to them. These increase engagement by 6000% according to Campbell’s estimation.

Live chats can connect patients and physicians in a way that hasn’t been possible before. Likewise, blogs create an interactive patient experience. Patients can learn about disease and conditions and get information from experts that they might not otherwise have access to.

Engagement and Technology

Technology provides access to information and it also influences opinions and decisions. Dr. Geeta Nayyar, the chief healthcare at innovation officer at Femwell Group Health pointed to social media’s influence on people:

‘Every Facebook update, every online community post and every Tweet has the potential to change minds and behaviors.’

Nayyar points to millennials and baby boomers and how they use technology to help them with their healthcare needs. Baby boomers are using it to search for information and to make health care decisions. This is a trend that will only increase over time. While millennials might not need a lot of health care services now, they will. As the first natively digital generation, they tend to be very discerning and value personal relationships with their physicians. If they do not feel that they are not being heard, they’ll switch.

Social Media and Outcomes

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Social media is not just about improving patient loyalty to providers and giving them access to better information. They can also produce better outcomes. Better informed and more engaged patients can lead to empowerment and increase the likelihood of a patient to become more involved in their care plan and follow it.

Social media also leads to better outcomes for physicians. Doctors can also use it to connect with other colleagues and access continuing education and knowledge opportunities more readily too.

Tips for Engagement

To make patient engagement optimal, health care providers should be aware of and follow accepted standards of online engagement such as:

Sharing relevant health content- Patients often turn to the internet for health information. But as providers know, some of this information can be unreliable. By sharing health information that is reliable, providers increase patient engagement and encourage communication.

Initiate conversations- Often times, patients are the ones who initiate conversations with their providers. Sometimes these conversations also fall through the cracks and aren’t responded to. Social media allows providers to take control of communication with patients. By posting thoughtful comments and open-ended questions relevant to the particular practice, patients will feel like their participation is worthwhile and that they are being heard.

Respond to Feedback- Providers who respond to feedback from their patients often enjoy increased loyalty from their patients. By responding to mentions of a practice on social media, patients will feel like they have been heard. Discussing what will be done in response to this feedback also shows that what has been said actually matters.

Don’t Forget to Blog- Blogs establish authority and expertise. By taking the time to write regular blog posts, patients will get to know the practice better. Sharing real-life patient experiences also make patients feel more confident when seeking care.

Social media engagement is becoming increasingly important in healthcare. That is why employing a solid social media strategy will be nothing but helpful to healthcare providers going forward. In the end, social media is an important communication tool for patients and physicians. Using a cohesive and consistent strategy to encourage this function will increase patient engagement and active participation in the healthcare process. It will also establish expertise and knowledge and lessen the unreliability of internet health information that is currently so prevalent.

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How Social Media Is Shaking Up Healthcare

How Social Media Is Shaking Up Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Before the internet became widely used, you likely visited your doctor and blindly took your doctor's advice as to the treatment you should undergo. Sometimes your doctor's advice suited your needs and sometimes it didn't. Without much easily-accessed information about your ailment, you probably did not question him.

If you really wanted to obtain information about your treatment options, you had to do a lot of research over the phone. You may have also obtained sales brochures from individual healthcare facilities. However, it was highly likely that you did not know about breakthrough treatment options in real-time that were available at clinics near you or at clinics abroad.

The Internet

Then the internet was invented and is now widely used. Just as most businesses do, hospitals and clinics create websites and advertise online. If these facilities come up in your online search, you can discover their websites and read about what each facility has to offer.

The internet gives you the ability to learn about your disease in detail. You can also research the latest treatment options, locate the closest healthcare facility that performs the desired procedure, and find out who the doctors are who perform that procedure.

You can even read about the reputation of individual doctors because that information is readily available from patient reviews and from other online places where patients exchange all sorts of information.

Social Media

Social media came along next. The first social media platform was Facebook, of course. Other general social media platforms have continued to be created ever since Facebook became popular. These platforms enable consumers, doctors and others to exchange information in a much more public way. The sharing aspect and the influence that friends have on their friends make social media particularly powerful, and the more progressive businesses have updated their marketing mixes to include social media.

Healthcare-Specific Social Media

Today there are also social media platforms that operate similarly to Facebook's platform which pertain just to the healthcare industry. The beauty of these platforms is that providers compete on the basis of the strength of what they offer rather than on how much money they can afford to pay for marketing.

If you sign up with one of these content-driven platforms, you can easily find out in real-time about cutting-edge and other treatments, where you can obtain treatment, what the prices are, and who the doctors are at the various medical facilities who perform them. One particular platform offers this information about medical centers that are located in over 60 countries.

Those who participate in these platforms must post something often, and it must be interesting content. Unlike Facebook, all of the various posts reach you and other members because you have signed up with the healthcare platform for the purpose of obtaining healthcare information. Because you and other consumers can frequently read what the various healthcare providers have to say, these providers' feet are held to the proverbial fire.

Like Facebook, you as a consumer can interact with people who work at these facilities through a messaging system. It is in the interest of these healthcare providers to quickly respond to your questions because they risk losing your business to another provider. At the same time, healthcare professionals must adhere to the American Medical Association guidelines regarding social media.

Only the providers who can deliver informative, interesting online content, cutting-edge treatments for the kind of facilities they are, and responsive online customer service will survive this kind of public scrutiny.

The Future of Healthcare-Specific Social Media

Providers participating in social media will utilize android and iOS apps for mobile devices.Healthcare facilities will also improve their analytics tools so they will better know who among us views their page, what keywords we used to find them, and how many views each of their posts received. Although all posts will be available to all members, particular posts will be directed to potential customers who search for specific treatments.Additionally, question and answer forums that include specific threads for specific information will also become more widespread.

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5 pieces of social media advice for medical students

5 pieces of social media advice for medical students | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

In this guest commentary, Angela Showell, social media and public affairs manager at Thomas Jefferson University and former associate director of electronic communications at Temple University, discusses some best practice measures for medical students’ social media use.

 

1. Professionally: Familiarize yourself with HIPAA, even before you start seeing patients. Even though HIPAA doesn’t officially cover much on social media, there's definitely still implications there.

2. Personally: You’re not an undergrad anymore. People who go to medical school are serious about their studies – for the most part, I would assume – but, the days of posting your nights out might be over. You might want to think about making your account completely private, if that’s your only purpose. But I would advise not to do that. Use your account for a mix of personal and professional because it will start to allow you to connect with your future colleagues and your classmates and even your medical school.

3. Know your school: Students should use their best judgement and make sure they’re familiar with their university’s code of conduct. Some speak directly to social media and some don’t. Recently, there was a group of 10 students from Harvard who had their admissions revoked for inappropriate use of social media. [The internet] is the Wild West, but we have definitely come a long way in the past 10 to 15 years.
The most important thing – not just for medical students, but for students in general – is getting a good feel for what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate.

4. Twitter: Students should consider researching the hashtags fellow students are using to talk about specific areas that they want to join a conversation so that they can start finding out who is talking about what and maybe look into different Twitter chats.

5. Facebook or LinkedIn: Students can find the appropriate group to join where other people are having conversations that might interest that student. Then, the student might find that they can connect on one particular platform and then find each other on the other social media platforms.

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10 Online Reputation Management Rules for Physicians

10 Online Reputation Management Rules for Physicians | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

With the rise of the Internet, medical practices have to change the way they manage their online reputation. A massive amount of information gets shared on the Internet every day, which makes it very difficult to monitor what is being said about your practice. How can medical practitioners sort through the social noise and identify relevant discussions about their practice, products or services?

It is no wonder that so many practices are looking for innovative ways to establish, improve and protect their online reputation.

Before potential patients call your office to book an appointment, they often go online to gather all the information they can about your practice. According to a study from Digital Assent, 85 percent of patients are not comfortable choosing a healthcare provider with a one-star rating for more than 10 percent of the reviews.
Patients now are conscious, make informed decisions and have more choices now than ever. It is essential, therefore, that practices act in a way that gives them the best possible online reputation.

Managing your practice’s online reputation is an ongoing process. In order to establish and protect your reputation, there are a few rules you should follow to ensure you are not sabotaging your brand image or letting a tainted reputation go unchecked.

While a physician’s primary concern should be the quality of his or her work, it would be a blunder to turn a blind eye to one’s online reputation. As a healthcare provider, it is your responsibility to make sure that online information about you and your practice is accurate and informative.

Follow these ten basic rules to establish, maintain and protect your online reputation:

Rule #1: Everyone has an online reputation. Every healthcare provider has an online reputation to maintain and protect. Your online reputation is an extension of your medical practice. In order to understand what you need to focus on, you must know what is being said online about your practice. Put your name in the major search engines and see what comes up. Is the information that you find about your practice accurate and useful? You can also set up a Google Alert on your name in order to keep track of any new mentions.

Rule #2: Be proactive, not reactive. It is essential to own your reputation, and do not allow it to own you. A spark is far easier to manage than a firestorm. It is much easier and safer to be proactive than reactive when handling matters that concern your online reputation. You must effectively communicate with your team and those involved with your practice’s brand image. Keep all stakeholders on the same page in order to avoid sending out mixed messages.

Rule #3: Listen to what your patients are saying. Social media is one the most popular and effective ways to hear the unedited voice of your patients, especially the unhappy ones. But how can you find all those posts, sift through the relevant ones and address those that need your attention? You can achieve this by using a social listening tool that searches for mentions of your practice, services and related keywords. These tools search the usual social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and use crawlers to discover new sites and online forums. The idea is to listen to the feedback you are collecting about your reputation. Try to listen for trends, opportunities or even complaints. When you actually listen to what your patients are saying about your medical practice, you do more than just fix a problem. You will try to fix the underlying issue that created the problem in the first place.

Rule #4: Always respond to reviews, and be prompt. Nearly 70 percent of patients who post negative feedback tend to feel positive if their concerns get noticed and resolved. Your patients want to hear from you, and they may not wait patiently for days and weeks at a stretch. Almost 42 percent of users who post online reviews expect a reply within an hour, and 57 percent of users expect a response even outside of normal business hours. Even if you do not immediately have information to share or to resolve their concerns, do not ignore the reviews. Acknowledge the complaint, let patients know you are looking into the issue, and assure them that you will get back to them.

Rule #5: Spread the positive word. Negative publicity is bound to happen. The majority of healthcare providers end up with a negative online reputation because they made it that way. They either posted the inappropriate content or they allowed things to get out of control. If you want a positive online reputation, then you have to work hard to build it. You will have to consistently post relevant and positive content. The more wisely you share content online, the more stellar reputation you build.

Rule #6: Apologize genuinely and refrain from arguments. If you or your staff make a mistake, it is critical to own up to it and make a genuine apology. A sincere apology can work wonders in diffusing a delicate situation and can help toward fixing the relationship. Try to make amends unconditionally. Regardless of who is right or who started it, you will be tagged as unprofessional if you engage in mudslinging. Do not allow your emotions to take control as you may end up saying and doing things that damage your reputation. The best approach is to remain calm and polite at all times and to try to take the conversation offline. Staying professional may win more patients than being “right” in an online dispute.

Rule #7: Encourage and train your staff to provide unmatched service. Often, dissatisfied patients will not complain but will stop coming to your practice in the future. Such patients, in addition to not returning to your practice, will tell their family and friends about their bad experience. The ripple effect of one dissatisfied patient can be detrimental to your online reputation. Make sure your employees are trained in providing outstanding patient care. Not only can your employees help improve your online reputation, but their strategic presence on relevant social media platforms will also help position your practice as an active member. This activity can deflect negative feedback and drive more traffic and leads to your website.

Rule #8: Build a strong social media presence. Social media is vital to your reputation management as it gives you a quick and effective way to stay in touch with current as well as potential patients. It is critical to create social media accounts and keep them updated. If you already have social media pages for your practice, be sure to update them with positive content. These profiles are a reflection of your practice and your reputation, and you must make sure they show you in a positive light.

Rule #9: Encourage and monitor online reviews. The best way to protect and enhance your online reputation is to take an aggressive approach. It is important to encourage your patients and employees to write reviews online. The goal is to have more positive reviews than negative ones so that the bad feedback will be diluted by the happy experiences. You can easily monitor online conversations about your practice by using tools like Google Alerts and Social Mention. By monitoring your online reviews, you will be better equipped to turn any negative feedback into a positive comment by responding quickly and professionally. In addition, reading and responding to reviews will help you understand gaps or improvement areas in your service. Online reviews are the most important way to improve your online reputation. It is sad, but happy patients rarely write positive reviews, but a disgruntled patient will smear your brand name any opportunity he or she can get.

Rule #10: Claim your online listings. Managing your online reputation starts by claiming your listings on key online directories and social networks. These directories and networks allow you to share information that presents your practice in the best light. You must control the official voice of your practice on public platforms. One of the best things about online directories is that they occupy a lot of search results and tend to push negative reviews off the first page of search results. You can claim your online business listings by maintaining active, up-to-date profiles on popular websites and interacting with patients who post to those sites. Responding to both negative and positive reviews is an excellent way to stay engaged with patients.

Conclusion

In order to keep your online reputation intact, you must be upfront with your patients. If you happen to make a mistake, admit it, apologize and try to fix it. Never try to cover up your errors, and always be honest about what happened. Being transparent also requires direct communication with patients, which means allowing them to complain about your products, services or even staff. Unless the feedback is offensive, let it stay online. You should respond to negative feedback with an apology and explanation. Deleting online reviews will only add to the damage to your online reputation.

As a healthcare provider, your online reputation can position you as an expert, determine the success of your practice and help you connect with patients, peers and leaders in your field. Take full advantage of various tools and strategies while protecting your online reputation from potentially damaging information online that you cannot control. Online reputation management for physicians is a worthwhile investment that will pay off professionally and personally. This is why most healthcare providers choose to hire professionals to help them build and improve the online reputation of their medical practice.

If you need help creating online reputation management strategies for your medical practice, Practice Builders is an award-winning marketing agency offering SEO, social media marketing and reputation management solutions. Contact us today for a free demo.

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Medical Persona Classification in Social Media

Identifying medical persona from a social media post is of paramount importance for drug marketing and pharma-covigilance. In this work, we propose multiple ap…
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How social media can help early career physicians build their professional reputations

How social media can help early career physicians build their professional reputations | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

If you’re an early career physician, then chances are good that I don’t have to convince you social media is important. But, you might not realize just how important it has become as a tool–actually a toolbox filled with a number of great tools — that will help you fast-track building your professional reputation. In this new series of short articles, I’ll focus on helping you to build or enhance your professional social media toolbox. Along the way, I’d very much appreciate you virtually connecting with me and teaching me a few tricks of the trade! Therein lies the beauty of belonging to virtual communities where you can exchange ideas with a lot of colleagues who you might not physically see on a regular basis or who might not fall into your usual peer group. I’ve learned so much from early career physicians, and I appreciate how many of them are committed to social justice, focused on diversity and inclusion, excited about innovation and new technology and sophisticated in their knowledge of social media.

An interesting article titled “Build a Reputation” in the prestigious journal Nature, explained a bit about how scientists and researchers have changed the way they are developing their reputations, and you probably won’t be surprised that social media is playing a role. Indeed, academicians, including but not limited to physicians, have opportunities to widely disseminate their new research and other work within minutes. Even if you aren’t publishing research, the strategic use of social media may help you to build your professional reputation and become a thought leader much faster.

In future articles, I’ll talk about various social media channels, but the one thing that is constant throughout all channels is that if you want to build your professional reputation then you should ensure that you have a professional looking profile. For examples, on Twitter it’s best to use a professional handle (@JulieSilverMD) and to include institutional affiliations (@SpauldingRehab and @HarvardMed). Your name and credentials are critically important in academic medicine, so be clear who you are and identify your credentials and institutional affiliations. Remember that people make snap decisions about whether to friend, follow or connect with you. Your profile can significantly impact your ability to join or participate in virtual communities and build your online network, so spend the time to make yourself stand out as a professional in the specialty of PM&R.

 
Julie Silver, MD

Julie Silver, MD is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair for the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School and Spaulding Rehabilitation Network. Follow her on Twitter @JulieSilverMDor reach out to her on LinkedIn or Facebook.

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Boost Patient Enrollment by Being Present Online

Clinical research sites are constantly struggling with one of the most important aspects of a study – enrollment of patients. Meeting the target number of part…
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#525 Mitigating Legal Risks: Social Media and the Doctor's Dilemma

Physicians need to know how to promote themselves while also maintaining their professionalism. This presentation discusses social media and specific ways it …
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Patient Feedback Transformed These Three Practices, and It Can Transform Yours

Patient Feedback Transformed These Three Practices, and It Can Transform Yours | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Bill Gates once said that innovation requires the ability “to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs.” Sometimes, though, getting that feedback can feel like pulling teeth—or, depending on the feedback, like having your own teeth pulled. But like Gates said, you need that feedback if you want to get better.

Over the past year, three practices—Texas Orthopedics Sports & Rehabilitation Associates in Austin, Columbia Orthopaedic Group in Missouri, and Desert Orthopaedic Center in Las Vegas—have done just that. They worked with two common goals: (1) increase social media standing in their markets (Transform Outside) and (2) improve the quality of care and service provided to their patients (Transform Inside). They then harvested social media reviews to transform their practices inside and out.

Let’s take a look at their journey: where they began, what they changed, and how they were changed in turn.


The Problem

What your patients say about you online is often the first—and, in many cases, last—impression you’ll make. When 80 percent of consumers report that their purchases are influenced by friends’ social media posts, that’s an impression you want to get right.

All three practices had “social reputations” that did not accurately represent them, but that impeded them from gaining new patients. These reputations needed to be changed. They also wanted to better connect with patient concerns so they could improve the care and service they delivered. To accomplish this, they needed the following:

  • Feedback had to be gathered from a much higher percentage of patients. Their month-end patient-satisfaction surveys—sent via email or physicians handing out cards directing patients to provide feedback—were not getting it done.
  • Feedback loops had to be shortened. By the time a patient completed a survey or left a review and the practice learned of it, the opportunity for service recovery was often gone.
  • Results had to be delivered. The raw results of patient-identified issues had to be delivered to the right people within the practice. “Constructive criticism” rarely made it to physicians and practice teams in a usable and motivating way.


The Solution

Over the past 12 months, all three practices chose to focus on social reviews to accomplish their goals of improved social media standing and increased patient care quality. Each practice decided on three simple actions that any business can imitate:

  • Contact every patient. Send patients text messages or emails to get their feedback, ratings, and reviews. Public feedback at independent social review platforms of Google, Facebook, Healthgrades, etc., is preferred, but all feedback is welcomed.

However, don’t make the mistake of delegating this work to your staff. Remember, your staff’s time is your most precious resource. The entire process of inviting patients to leave reviews should be accomplished each day/week/month with no effort by the staff. Find a third-party vendor to handle the flow of invitations and data. A good vendor will make the invitation process automatic, allowing your staff to dedicate time to patient interactions.

  • Listen and respond. Focus your roll out and training on responding to service recovery opportunities and patient inquiries. “We hear a lot from our patients now!” says Michael Pendleton, CEO of Desert Orthopaedics Center. “At first it was daunting to follow up and respond to the good and the bad. Now our team uses both good and bad feedback to strengthen our relationship with each patient willing to share. The faster we respond to feedback, the better.”
  • Use the feedback to improve quickly. Incorporate the good and bad patient feedback into practice improvement efforts that truly make a difference. Let the underperforming physicians know that every physician/partner in the practice reads what every patient says.

Physician buy-in may come slowly. Understand that most already know that they need to actively manage their practices and social reputations. However, many have been burned by services that promised results but didn’t deliver. The only way to earn their trust is through results. As physicians see the results of implementation—whether in other practices or their own—their commitment will strengthen. Follow the simple model we have defined above, get results for a few of your doctors or at one location, and expand from there.


The Results and Benefits

The social reputations of each of these practices have been dramatically affected by their efforts. Each practice experienced improved ratings, increased social review volume, and much higher search rankings on a consistent basis. Here are a few key indicators of their success:

  • Ratings rose from 3.4 stars to 4.78 stars. This average star rating rose across all the review platforms during this time.
  • Reviews increased from 1 to 12+ per physician per month. Getting 12+ reviews per month per physician means these practices average more than 200 public social reviews per month!
  • Search rankings reached the top 3. The continuous flow of positive patient reviews at trusted third party sites dramatically improved their search rank. “Our practice serves a large geographic region where patients have choices to travel for care in several directions,” explains Beau Baehman of Columbia Orthopedics. “As our social reputation has increased, we have benefited by more potential patients finding us and choosing us over their other options.”
  • Patient feedback increased 10–15x. Further, the feedback loop has shortened by hours or even days. In each practice, the operations team instantly knows of patient frustrations and can respond every day in service recovery efforts. Physicians are getting a level of feedback from patients they have never had. This full set of physician-specific feedback for all doctors is consumed daily, weekly, or monthly by the physician partners in the practice. “It is amazing how responsive the physicians become to improvement when they know a monthly report will be seen by all their partners,” says Michael Pendleton, CEO of Desert Orthopaedics Center.

Embracing the social nature of today’s patients has allowed these practices to find great value from the candid and sometimes painful feedback offered them. Finding ways to listen better and leverage patient-driven social media is just beginning.

Jennifer Kinman, CEO of Texas Orthopedics, has led her team’s efforts to use social media reviews to benefit their practice. “Our efforts to use our social reviews to improve many aspects of our practice has already paid big dividends for us, and we feel like we have just started,” she says. “Having our happy patients help us improve our social media image enables us to set ourselves apart in our competitive market.”

No matter where your practice is today in its ability to listen, learn, and leverage patient-driven social media, keep working to improve. These three practices are proof that improvement on the outside and the inside of every practice is attainable. You can do the same and achieve similar results for your practices and physicians.


About the Author

David Johnson, General Manager of SocialClime

David has a passion for blending marketing technology with patient feedback. As a successful serial entrepreneur, David founded SocialClime in 2014 to help medical practices increase their understanding of patient sentiment. SocialClime enables practices to improve their social media presence as well as patient care.

SocialClime helps improve medical practices via instant patient feedback. Our completely automated system dramatically increases a practice's understanding of patient sentiment. The increased social reviews (Google, Healthgrades, Facebook), patient feedback and direct reporting to the executives and physicians make SocialClime the easy choice for practices seeking to increase patient satisfaction and transform their social media image.

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The best ways to use social media for marketing your medical practice

The best ways to use social media for marketing your medical practice | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

With nearly 2 billion active monthly users, it’s safe to say that Facebook should be a part of your business and marketing strategy. If you’re in the medical industry, it’s even more of a necessity.

By using Facebook to interact with patients, physicians can highlight procedures and products — and, most importantly, they can build trust with their current and potential patients. While likes and reactions are great, the goal is to create posts that engage and inform. That way, you can more easily spread your brand, authority, and expertise to patients that are trying to find it.

Getting your posts shared is easier said than done, right? To help break down just how to craft updates that will keep your patients engaged, here are some helpful practices to integrate into your social media business plan.

Develop a consistent voice

The first step in planning your social media strategy is to make sure you stay consistent with your voice. Having a list of prepared responses ready for commonly asked questions will help your team engage with users to build your brand. This is especially important when dealing with sensitive topics in the medical industry like procedure specifics, insurance, or recovery questions.

Connect with your audience on their time

According to data from Pew Research Center, 76 percent of Facebook users check in and use the platform every day, and 55 percent visit several times per day. With this in mind, you definitely don’t want to go days without updating your practice’s page. You should also be strategic about when you’re posting in order to get the biggest reach. Use scheduling tools (available on most platforms) to post throughout the week at different times of the day, and track which time slots get the most engagement.

Keep posts short and watch the jargon

According to HubSpot, the ideal length of a Facebook post is around 40 characters. Have a sophisticated new procedure that you’re proud of? Go ahead and post about it — just keep it simple and write for your audience. That means steering clear of medical jargon. Colleagues may appreciate an update that has standard medical abbreviations common to your practice, but this could potentially turn off future patients.

Vary your tone now and then

Although the bulk of your posts should focus on how you can help solve customers’ problems, don’t make every post promotional. Your patients don’t need to read about every service or product that you offer; they just want to know that you’re listening to them. Have fun with some of your posts. Discuss topical health issues and connect to the local community. Use Facebook Live to show off your team in action. Just remember to mix it up, giving your patients both fun and educational content to explore.

Always be present

By being present in your social media campaign and responding to patient inquiries, your current and potential patients will trust you as someone who genuinely cares about them. According to a survey conducted by Convince and Convert, 42 percent of users expect a response within an hour on social media. To keep everyone on the same page, set an internal response time goal, and hold team members accountable for maintaining that time.

Highlight community service

Promoting your work in the community is a great way to humanize your online presence. Have a flu shot drive coming up? Are your employees participating in a fundraising campaign? Create an event page to drive users to take action offline, link to informative articles about the campaign, and post images and videos that highlight your team’s participation in the event. It will further align your practice as a contributor to your local community.

Use Facebook promotions and ads

It may seem like Facebook ads are unnecessary — why pay when you can post for free? However, by using Facebook’s Ads Manager and the Audience Insights tool, you can target the users you specifically want to reach, from age to income level. Whether your focus is on brand awareness, lead generation, or website traffic, Facebook promotions and ads can help you reach your target demographic, allowing you to engage with more qualified leads.

Furthermore, the organic reach of Facebook posts has gone down markedly over the last few years.

Analyze your results

Set smart, achievable goals, and make a point to analyze them every month. How do users interact with your posts? What types of posts get the most reactions and comments? Measure key metrics like engagement and reach to determine what works, and throw out what doesn’t.

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Fake News Woes in Healthcare

Fake News Woes in Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Social media platforms and other modern channels of communication make it easier for people to interact and share information. The problem comes when these communication channels and devices are used to circulate false or misleading information, including "fake" healthcare news.

The number of patients influenced or confused by research or misleading reports is a “pervasive” issue for healthcare providers, according to Roy Buchinsky, MD, director of wellness for University Hospitals in Cleveland.

“The problem today is that there are so many outlets where you can get information, whether it's Dr. Google or any of the TV sites you can get,” Dr. Buchinsky noted.

The more worrisome part is that fake medical news can have patient care consequences. Many patients fail to read beyond a viral headline, and, particularly if stories are linked to highly communicable diseases, it can have significant impact on a patient’s physical and emotional health, FierceHealthcare has reported.

Patient misinformation is compounded by the way the current media landscape operates, said Kelly McBride, vice president of the Poynter Institute, which promotes responsible journalism and offers training for reporters and media outlets.

Part of the problem, she pointed out, is that scientific research doesn’t always necessarily gel with how journalists like to do business. The scientific process is often slow work.

“In science, good information is really boring,” McBride said. “Science doesn’t leap ahead the way journalists like to cover it.”

Groups that deny climate change or spread false information about vaccines often seize upon that slow pace, claiming there are still unanswered questions even if there's a clear scientific consensus, she said.

So what can providers do to help correct the issue of patient misinformation? Doctors can guide patients toward more accurate information during regular visits. Providers can also turn to social media and engage with their patients directly online, where much of the misinformation is spread.

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The 'Hear' and Now for Pharma and Social Media

The 'Hear' and Now for Pharma and Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Good news—the pharmaceutical industry is finally catching on to the social side of social media. Just a decade or so after Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter gave everyone the opportunity to share their own stories, pharma businesses are actually starting to listen.

Of course, there is still a broad spectrum of social media capabilities within the industry, from companies that are all in on the social scene to those who still haven’t managed to set up a basic account. Even within businesses, skills and usage can vary greatly between countries, therapeutic areas, or corporate functions such as HR and commercial.

The vast majority of pharma companies also still use social media as just another broadcast channel—a cheap alternative to direct mail. But the green shoots of sociability are starting to show through.

Less is more

One recent shining example is AstraZeneca’s Twitter strategy at June’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2017 meeting in Chicago. Ahead of the meeting, the company released a statement saying that it would be tweeting less and engaging more with retweets and comments.

The business was reacting to concerns expressed at 2016’s ASCO meeting, when some attendees worried that vital social media conversations around the event were getting lost among louder industry voices. The worry was that paid promotions were threatening to crowd out valuable scientific conversations.

AstraZeneca’s response was to publish a set of commitments to be "Being a Better Social Media Citizen." In a five-point pledge (see slide below), the company promised to preserve the social media space around the conference and allow the oncology community to “learn, discuss, and share the science that excites them at ASCO 2017.”

Click to enlargeKey to this was “talking less and listening more,” meaning a significant reduction in tweets sent. The flip side of that was “elevating important voices,” sharing tweets sent by researchers, patient organizations, doctors, and patients.

AstraZeneca also drew back from frivolous content like quizzes or fun facts to “be sensitive” and acknowledge that oncology is a serious business. And the  drugmaker stopped paid promotion of tweets for the duration of the meeting to “respect the organic conversation” taking place on Twitter among ASCO attendees and the broader medical community.

Finally, the company’s social media team committed to focus on explaining its own science in formats that were easy to digest and understand and “make complex science accessible.”

Contributing to the conversation

AstraZeneca’s “less is more” strategy appears to have contributed to a better online experience at ASCO 2017.

More than half of the 200-plus respondents to a Twitter poll by ASCO member Dr. Mike Thompson, with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, thought the 2017 meeting had a better “signal-to-noise ratio” than the previous year’s meeting.

Dr. Paul Tunnah, CEO of healthcare engagement agency Pharmaphorum Connect, was encouraged that AstraZeneca had carried through on its promises. “This is a good example of progressive social media,” he says. “They received positive feedback from the medical audience and stood out as being engaging rather than broadcasting.”

Annie Sullivan, director of corporate social media, AstraZeneca, says that while it approaches every congress or campaign with a fresh lens, being a “good citizen” is now central to the company’s social media strategy.

She explains that the business wants to deliver content that has a value through its social media channels, making its science accessible, highlighting important professional voices and sharing patient perspectives. “We are focused on remaining relevant to the ever-changing social media landscape,” says Sullivan. 

 

Crafting campaigns

The issue of relevancy features in Tunnah’s 2017 formula for the ideal social media campaign: “Integrated, relevant, and long-term.”

Being relevant, according to Tunnah, means that campaigns need to provide information that is useful to the target audience.  He says corporate objectives and messaging can be encapsulated in valuable information, but that marketers must avoid “corporate-speak.”

 

Being integrated requires social media linking to other digital and non-digital content that takes the customer on a clear journey to learn more about the company or a specific therapeutic franchise. And to be long-term, Tunnah says that pharma needs to be ever-present on social media, not just when it wants something.

Long-term commitment and social media marketing don’t always sit well together. Corporate concerns over ROI that is not always easy to prove and the frequent pivots of the social platforms conspire to shorten campaign time frames. But Tunnah advises the long view.

“Short-term campaigns will not deliver results without significant paid promotion, which may not deliver relevant audience,” he explains. “Trust takes time and the authenticity that being there more persistently provides is very powerful in building better customer relationships.”

Making connections

According to Jordan Deatherage, senior director, social media, at Intouch Solutions, the ideal social media campaign also needs to make a connection, regardless of the platforms or the technology being used.

She advocates a consistent and connected customer experience, not a mismatch of information or user experience. “Each messaging point of contact should be intentional and function in an expected way,” says Deatherage.

She believes it is possible for companies to be social without building a branded presence on specific platforms, so long as they understand that social media is an important part of people’s day-to-day Sidebar: Reaching Across Disease Areas (click to enlarge)communication.

“Information on the Internet is social if it’s shareable,” says Deatherage. “By providing valuable content and enabling visitors to cleanly share it, companies can implement a compliant, inherently social experience.”

In this way, companies can take on social media without setting up an owned brand presence like a Facebook page. But that doesn’t mean there is no value in developing an owned social presence.

Deatherage points to the work Intouch has done with Teva to develop its Lift MS Facebook page and blog. The award-winning Facebook page has almost 320,000 followers and hosts patient resources, discussions, and supporting videos and photos. “The Lift MS Facebook page and blog have contributed in a relevant way to this community in a very crowded category,” says Deatherage.

Teva previously had success with the “You Don’t Know Jack About MS” YouTube channel fronted by multiple sclerosis sufferer Jack Osborne. The channel gained 11,000 subscribers and the most popular of the 16 episodes clocked up almost half-a-million views.

“The two campaigns aren’t linked, but they are both a testament to a client that understands the impact of social media, especially in a very crowded disease state,” says Deatherage.

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Use Facebook to Better Connect with Your Patients

Use Facebook to Better Connect with Your Patients | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Social media is a topic at the top of mind of most dental professionals who want to stay relevant in today’s market. However, the endless articles, videos, pro tips, and research are enough to leave any busy dentist’s head spinning. 

Many dentists, overwhelmed by the thought of developing a social media plan, become immobilized and default to a few Facebook posts here and there. Or, they outsource their accounts to a company that really doesn’t know the dentistry market.

Here’s a secret: social media doesn’t need to be hard. It does not need to be seen as a complicated way to get people into the sales funnel. If you want to be successful on social media, view it as another way for you to simply make connections with your current and future patients. That’s it. No hard-selling tactics, no tricky strategy to sell full-mouth reconstructions, but a fun and easy way to talk to and connect with people.

Businesses share information with their customers and potential customers through the digital marketing triangle, which includes website searches, social media, and online reviews (see the Figure). Each point takes time, and it is important to allocate your time and resources wisely. 

Typically, social media requires the most time on the part of the dental office. However, dental offices don’t need to necessarily be active on all social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Focusing on one, like Facebook, often will benefit the office greatly.

But isn’t Facebook dying, you may ask? While it may seem Facebook’s popularity is waning with the younger generation, older adults are steadily increasing their use, and Facebook continues to trump all other social sites in overall usage. 

Need more evidence? A billion people worldwide use Facebook every day! Facebook is also the most trusted source when it comes to reviews. In fact, 80% of consumers say they’re more likely to purchase from a local business if they see positive user reviews on the company’s Facebook page. Why? People trust people they know. The Facebook network is built upon friends and acquaintances, exactly those whom people go to for trusted advice.

Facebook understands this concept. To make it easier for people to make recommendations to their friends, users can now turn on a feature when posting a status update that is designed to allow friends to provide specific recommendations. When turned on, the requester will get the full name, address, map, and contact information of the businesses their friends suggest! 

Patients don’t choose a new dentist based on clinical skill. They make the choice based on the experience of others (especially people they know and trust) and their insurance. The Facebook recommendations feature is perfect for finding a new dentist and getting new patients in your chair!

How to Set Your Office Up for Success

To capitalize on all Facebook has to offer, make sure to complete these four steps: create a great page; put someone in charge; share valuable content; and measure success.

So what makes a great Facebook page? It should be inviting. People should want to follow you on social media. Post fun pictures of your team, and make sure your information is complete and up to date.

As a business page, it does not have “friends” but has followers, fans, and likes to show engagement. It also allows publishing of important items like your business hours, phone number, a map to your location, photos and videos, patient reviews, and special offers and services.

You can also set up a “Book Now” feature that allows people to book appointments right from the page. People are already on social media. Now they can book dentist appointments at the same time.

Once you have a working business page, it is wise to put someone in charge of managing, updating, and posting. This person should be the one in the office who lives and breathes social media, someone who checks Facebook before they even get out of bed in the morning. Chances are good there is someone exactly right for the job already on the team.  

So with the overwhelming amount of information that circulates the internet, how does a dental office rise above the noise? The best strategy to ensure content is seen is to utilize existing patients. When patients engage with content, it is more likely to be seen by their friends and followers. DentalPost.net follows these guidelines when developing shareworthy content: 

  • Content provides value: The content should be worth the patient’s time. Before posting, always ask: “Will this post improve patients’ lives?”
  • Content is personal: Social media provides a sense of community. Focus on the needs and interests of the patient, not the dental office.
  • Content should invite interaction: Fan participation is key. Give followers a good reason to like, share, or comment. Try adding in a contest or tying something charitable to the content.
  • Content is visually appealing: Use solid graphics, videos, and photos in everything that gets posted. Posts that are more attractive are favored by social media algorithms and are therefore seen by more people.
  • Content should be fun: Get creative! If the team is having fun, the patients will too.

Here are several options for shareworthy content you can and should employ in the office:

  • Before and after photos: Be sure not to violate HIPPA, and get consent from the patient prior to posting. Also, only show before and after shots that are patient-friendly. Graphic images of procedures are a huge no-no. Show patients that dentistry involves more than staring into mouths all day.
  • Patient reviews: Patient reviews are one of the best ways to share office success. Services like RevenueWell and DemandForce will survey patients, and their answers can be posted to Facebook in a single click. Third-party endorsements are huge in our field, so make sure you take advantage of them. A lot of patients would be honored to be a part of your dental family. 
  • Contests and promotions: A great way to get patients to help others see content is through contests and promotions. Offer a valuable service and ask people to share with their friends and family. When the office posts, it is seen by 12% of the office’s followers. When a post is shared, it is seen by 26%.
  • Patient photos and videos: People love to see themselves online. Once a release form has been signed, start featuring cavity-free kids or patients who have had a particularly great experience in the office. It is perfectly okay to show off your hard work and theirs too!
  • Team events and activities: Patients want to know about you and your team. They trust people they feel comfortable around. By sharing images of the team having fun, participating in charity events, and doing things outside of the office, the page can help build trust.
  • Dental articles: There is always shareworthy content written and published online. To get an alert each time something noteworthy is published, set up Google alerts. If you have a Gmail account, you can set up to a thousand dental terms. When an article is published online about the topic, the link will come directly to your inbox. So, if you want to educate your patients about oral cancer, you can have everything written and published in real time sent to you. You can read through the options and post the most shareworthy content for your followers.

After all the hard work spent on building an engaging page and promoting shareworthy content, it is important to know if your efforts are successful. Facebook has a built-in system to show how engaged followers have been. The tools on your Facebook business page will give you a breakdown of reach, likes, and all other forms of engagement. It’s important to see how your hard work is paying off, and the time spent engaging on social media is worth it.

Spotlighting Your Values

Being a dental hygienist for 23 years and temping in more than 100 offices gave me the opportunity to see some great offices as well as offices that were not run well. This enabled me to understand what the best practices were doing and how they were successful. I took what I learned through these offices and applied it to my experience in building DentalPost. 

The teams that were the most successful were the ones who placed their core values at the forefront. Utilizing social media is a great way to share your practice’s culture and core values with the public. Spotlight your team’s personalities. Involve everyone on the team, including patients.

Facebook is a great way to begin a social media journey. The interface is easy to use, and most patients and potential patients are already checking in on Facebook daily. Use the platform to befriend, educate, and connect with people instead of a way to simply sell services, and watch the office reputation and schedule expand.

Ms. Lanthier is the founder and CEO of DentalPost, which she started in 2005. Since then, the company has grown into a networking community for more than 750,000 dental professionals and 38,000 dental offices. She is a member of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association and the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a supporter of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s Give Back a Smile program, and a volunteer at several charitable organizations including Georgia Mission of Mercy and the Ben Mansell Clinic. And, she is a board member of the Oral Cancer Cause and Dental Entrepreneur Women. She can be reached at tonyardh@dentalpost.net.

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Patient Recruitment in the Age of Social Media

Patient Recruitment in the Age of Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Henry Kerali ponders how the industry can best leverage social media to recruit patients for clinical trials

 

According to a recent white paper by Inventiv Health, of all the time spent conducting clinical trials, approximately 30 percent is focused on recruiting patients. Crucially, on average 37 percent of study sites don’t meet their recruitment targets, while 10 percent fail to enroll a participant at all. So perhaps is not such a surprise to learn that roughly one-third of Phase III trials are terminated when sites have recruitment problems.

An ineffective enrollment strategy can have huge ramifications on a study, with delays costing sponsors on average over €32K in operational costs and up to €7M in lost opportunity costs. So what can be done to resolve these issues? In order to overcome the challenges posed by patient recruitment, it’s important to understand the root cause of it.

The Challenges of Patient Recruitment

To start with, the rarity of the condition you’re treating could mean there are a limited number of patients available to treat. Additionally, there could be a fundamental problem with the design of the protocol itself – are the inclusion/exclusion criteria too restrictive? How many competitor studies are taking place that are treating the same condition? Are current sufferers of the disease in question even aware your clinical trial is taking place?

The paucity of available information surrounding your trial could be the foremost reason you’re experiencing difficulties in enrolling patients. Much has been said about the merits of using social media to find patients. Having a coherent strategy in place might not be the ultimate cure to solve your patient recruitment issues, but it can help in a massive way.

Why isn't industry leveraging Social Media to identify Potential Patients?

Some might bemoan the futility of using social media platforms to identify patients, citing it’s too expensive. But is that really the case? There are a number of similar myths that need to be debunked, such as the idea that regulations prevent the use of social media in the clinical trial process. Or the target demographic must be aged 50 and under in order for an online strategy to be successful.

However, the reality is it’s not at all expensive to run online campaigns to recruit patients; there are cost-effective ways to implement a strategy that won’t break the bank (but more on that later). Similarly, there are no current restrictions or laws that prohibit the use of certain media to recruit potential participants. And the notion that a social media campaign is only really effective for people under 50 is a fallacy. Studies show that 71 percent of U.S. adults between the ages of 50-64 search online for health-related advice.

To put in place an enrollment strategy that’s effective, design a procedure that’s age and demographically appropriate to the patients you hope to enroll. Below are three factors to consider:

1. Create awareness of your upcoming trial

  • Post short articles about your upcoming trial using conventional media, as well as online publications
  • Engage key opinion leaders in these publications
  • Reference publications on your internet site
  • Make your target patients and caregivers aware of these publications by publicizing it on platforms like Facebook and Twitter

2. Drive the traffic

  • Advertize on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  • Use your recruiting site’s social media portals
  • Engage the clout of patient advocacy groups, using their social media platforms to your advantage to publicize your trial
  • Include a link for the prospective patient to get more information (your own website, a trial landing page, a phone number)

3. Design a Trial landing page as a pre-screening tool

  • Include a short description of the trial, its test product, its target patient population, its goal, its duration and location
  • Give a short list of the main inclusion and exclusion criteria
  • Pre-screen by asking six to eight key questions
  • Make sure they live close enough to an opened site
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Instagram posts can reveal depression better than anything patients tell their doctors

Instagram posts can reveal depression better than anything patients tell their doctors | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Our social media posts say more about us than we realize, including when we need help. In a paper published today (Aug. 8) in the journal EPJ Data Science, a pair of researchers found that an algorithm flagging a few key signs in people’s Instagram posts may be able to diagnose depression more effectively than doctors.

Chris Danforth of the University of Vermont and Andrew Reece of Harvard University looked at nearly 44,000 Instagram photos posted by 166 study participants, 71 of whom had previously been diagnosed with depression. The research team built a tool that analyzed the posts and identified depression through markers determined in previous research, such as the tendency of depressed people to prefer grayer, darker colors, and to show less evidence of social activity (which the researchers thought might be evidenced by the absence of faces in posted images).

They found that posts of depressed people both before and after diagnosis tended to have more blue, dark, or gray tones than those of healthy people. As it turned out, depressed people were actually more likely to post photos with faces in them, but when healthy people did post images with faces, there tended to be more people in the photographs. (The authors didn’t examine who the images were of, so couldn’t say whether this meant depressed people post more selfies.)

Depression also made people less likely to use filters in their posts. And when they did use filters, they were especially likely to chose Inkwell, which turns photos black and white, compared to healthy people. People without depression preferred the Valencia filter, which gives photos a sun-kissed look, far more than depressed people did.

The scientists found that the tool they had designed could accurately identify which participants had depression 70% of the time. A review of studies about doctors’ diagnoses of depression found that doctors accurately identified depressed people only 42% of the time.

It’s one of several promising experiments using artificial intelligence to diagnose mental health conditions. A company called NeuroLex Diagnostics is working on a series of AI tools that can identify telltale patterns and tics in speech to diagnose problems including depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. The app Ginger.io looks for signs of depression and anxiety in smartphone activity, putting users in touch with a therapist when it determines they haven’t left the house or spoken to friends in a long time.

Machine assistance could be a welcome development in mental health, a field where problems are underdiagnosed and undertreated. The US suicide rate is at a 30-year high, and an estimated 55% of US counties have no practicing psychologist, psychiatrists, or social workers at all. Being able to spot mental illnesses more easily is the first step to connecting people with the help they need.

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How Social Media Is Changing The Game For Medical Providers and Healthcare 

How Social Media Is Changing The Game For Medical Providers and Healthcare  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

It’s safe to say that we’ve come a long way from the days of AOL Instant Messaging and MySpace top 8. In less than a decade, the applications of social media have burgeoned as the technology has transformed from just a personal networking platform, to a valuable tool capable of connecting people to new ideas, greater information, and even better health. 

From dispensing health advice to connecting with potential patients, there is no question that the role of social media within the medical field has expanded rapidly in recent years - and it’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Many providers are embracing this valuable new tool, jumping on the opportunity to use social media for networking, medical education, patient interactions, and professional development. And as new social media platforms have popped up over the past few years, most of these providers have found a way to navigate through the concerns of HIPAA violations, privacy breaches, and professional misconduct that plagued early adopters of this technology. 

How can providers maximize the impact of their social media efforts? Most of the research I've conducted indicates that different social platforms target different types of audiences, and each can be effectively used in different ways.

What the research says.

In our latest research, the social media task force at the American College of Chest Physicians analyzed all discussions on sepsis, a hot topic in critical care, to identify which social media platforms can be best used to reach specific groups of people. What we found is that Reddit “ask me anything” threads target laypersons, Facebook live streams target an international physician audience, and Twitter is a mixed bag of healthcare providers, industry and patients.

Why is this useful to know? A recent survey showed that increasing numbers of tech-savvy consumers now use social media to find healthcare information and participate in health related discussions. In fact, 90% of the youth has said they would trust medical information shared by doctors on social media. Knowing which platforms effectively reach which audience is extremely helpful for the medical community to disseminate important healthcare information to these various groups.

How are patients using social media?

Besides medical providers using social media, many patients are also turning to social media to document their healthcare stories online. There are a number of popular YouTube channels dedicated to showcasing the patient experience and highlighting patient struggles with chronic illnesses. For example, a simple search of cystic fibrosis pulls up videos with titles such as “a day in the life of a cystic fibrosis patient” and “living with cystic fibrosis”. Social media has become more than social - it’s generated the birth of a virtual community, a way for people to connect from across the world and create a new kind of support network that has never before existed.

Social media and disease awareness

And lastly, let’s not forget the significant application of medical research groups and charities using social media to raise awareness about little-understood diseases. Who can forget the famous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, one of the most effective disease awareness campaigns to date, in which over 17 million people participated by soaking themselves in ice water for all their Facebook friends to see? In years prior a charity such as ALSA would have received $1 million in donations at most. The summer of the infamous Ice Bucket Challenge brought in over $115 million in donations to fund research for the disease and its cure!

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Is Your Practice Prepared to Market to Millennials?

Is Your Practice Prepared to Market to Millennials? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Did you know that millennials are the fastest growing patient base? Within the past few years, millennials have become the largest population in the United States, and they have surpassed baby boomers in the labor force, according to Pew Research Center.

Millennials, who are between the approximate ages of 18 and 36, are said to make up a trillion-dollar demographic with estimated spending power close to $600 billion, according to the Nov. 9, 2016, article, “Millennials prefer the real deal,” published in The Washington Times. The rise of millennials will bring the need for new perspectives and marketing strategies. Never knowing life without technology has shaped new behaviors, attitudes and preferences that will affect businesses of all types — dental practices included.

Some practices have adopted texting communication, social media marketing strategies or mobile-friendly websites that allow patients to make appointments and ask questions without having to actually talk with another human being. However, many dentists and practice managers may not be aware of a less tangible concept: authenticity and how important that is to millennials.

Understanding that Authenticity Equates to Trust
One suggestion toward achieving authenticity is sharing the human side of your business as much as you can. Who are you and your staff? If you can share a behind-the-scenes peek of your practice or allow your patients and prospective patients to “meet the team” via social media through shared video or photos, these are steps in the direction of authenticity.

The good news is you likely already have a tool to help you in your purse or pocket — your smartphone. You can use the phone to take photos or create video of you and your team (keeping HIPAA compliance in mind), and you can download myriad apps that can help almost any photo fail that may exist; for example, poor lighting, a bad hair day or a less-than-appealing background. Just about any photo can be made to look fantastic with the help of cropping, lighting, filters or text additions.

As the need for authenticity grows, it’s not surprising to hear that stock photography is becoming less appealing, since people are able to take photos easily using their smartphones.

Rebecca Swift, director of creative planning at iStock, was quoted in a March 11, 2015, Adweek article, explaining the trend toward authenticity, reality and imperfection. Swift stated, “Older images traditionally were created by professional photographers skilled in the techniques of producing perfect imagery … In recent years, we have become accustomed to mobile photography that is imperfect and full of technical errors. We even add filters and lens flares to our images to make them less technically perfect.” Adobe Stock has gone as far as creating a campaign mocking what they call “hilarious” clichés, or stock images that have earned their place in the history books, according to the article, “Getty Images Talks Vince Vaughn, and How Stock Photos Have Gotten Better by Getting Worse.” For instance, some of the images are named “Laughing woman eating healthy vegetable salad” and “Firm handshake between business associates.”

If the major producers of stock images are seeing the writing on the wall in the shift toward authenticity, your practice should, too. Now is the time to consider a plan to begin replacing stock dental practice team and patient images you may be using. If the goal is to attract and build trust with millennials, authenticity should be a priority, and using real photos will help you achieve this. 

Becoming Familiar with Instagram
Another major shift is the consumer movement toward discovery on social media vs. searching to seek out new products and services.

Instagram, one of the fastest growing social media sites today, added 100 million new monthly active users in 2017 to reach 700 million monthly active users, according to an April 26, 2017, Fortune article. The use of Instagram is propelling new businesses, such as ColourPop, an online cosmetic company founded in 2014 that has become known as a major player in the makeup business. ColourPop has made Instagram its primary home and marketplace, with more than 4 million Instagram followers, four times as many as Revlon, which was founded in 1932.

If you are not personally familiar with Instagram, you may not know how easy it is to discover new products and services while using the app. With the click of a hashtag, for example #YourCityName or #YourNeighborhood, users can quickly and easily be connected to your dental practice. Sixty percent of Instagrammers say they learn about products and services on the app, and according to a survey conducted by comScore in January 2016, 75 percent say they take actions like visiting sites, searching or telling a friend after being influenced by a post on Instagram.

As use of social media and time spent on social media sites grow, patients are more likely to discover a cool new dental practice rather than actively searching one out. If your practice is pouring all of its resources into Google search rather than social media, now is the time to plan a shift or addition of strategies.

The face of your patient base is changing. Major established businesses, including stock photography companies and brands such as Revlon, are being replaced or affected by different concepts or businesses better aligned to millennials’ behaviors and preferences.

Is your practice prepared to meet millennials need for authenticity? Will your practice leverage the many opportunities to be discovered on social media? Five years from now, you may wish you’d implemented more of these strategies, or perhaps you’ll be thankful that you did. Just as the millennial mindset is proving, it’s all a matter of perspective.

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3 Steps to Optimizing Business Listings for Your Physicians, Clinics and Locations

3 Steps to Optimizing Business Listings for Your Physicians, Clinics and Locations | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Looking for a new doctor? What’s your first step?

If you’re like most people, you go online and do a search — Pew Research reports 77 percent of online health seekers start online with Google or other major search engines. And, once the results come up, several things may factor into your decision:

  • Is the doctor in your network?
  • How close is the clinic or office?
  • Does the doctor have good ratings and reviews?

If the doctor meets these criteria, you’re likely to call to schedule an appointment. But what if you call and the number is wrong, or they tell you the physician you selected is no longer at that location? Bad initial patient experiences such as these will send you scrolling down the results page for another option.

That’s why having accurate business listings are essential. But for large health systems with hundreds or even thousands of affiliate doctors and physicians, this can be an extremely complicated task.

Here are three essential strategies to ensure your doctors and facilities have complete, high-ranking business listings that will set them apart from competing providers.

  1. Claim and audit your listings: First, claim your business listings to verify you’re the owner of a valid business location and authorized to maintain its presence online. Different sites have different claiming processes with unique steps to claiming and verifying listings. An Online Reputation Management platform can help you find and claim all listings associated with your health system or medical group, as well as check all the information on those listings for accuracy and consistency.
  2. Optimize your listings and pages: Once you’ve claimed your listings, you can optimize them by ensuring they’re accurate and complete by adding office hours, photos and other content. It’s important to select the appropriate categories for each doctor and location, to improve the chances of those pages ranking on search results. Moz found proper category association is the third most important factor for being included in Google’s local 3-pack. You can also improve SEO by adding relevant keywords to the title tags, headlines and URLs of your companys’ landing pages.
  3. Focus on the sites that matter most: When optimizing, start with Google. Statista reports over 89 percent of internet searches are completed on this leading site. After Google, move to optimizing listings on healthcare review sites such as Healthgrades and WebMD, as well as Facebook and Yahoo.

Remember, most directories and search engines display ratings and excerpts from online reviews alongside your listings. To ensure your locations and doctors outrank and outshine competitors, it’s essential to have a steady stream of fresh patient reviews that showcase the high level of care they provide.

An online reputation management platform can simplify the process of building review volume with HIPAA-compliant email templates, and by directing patients to the review sites that will give you the most advantage.

Check out our eBook, “Business Listings: The Simple, Low-Cost Way to Acquire New Patients,” to learn more about how online business listings provide a cost-effective, high-impact alternative to spending marketing dollars on media buying and advertising.

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9 Tips to Attract New Dental Patients

9 Tips to Attract New Dental Patients | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Growing your dental practice can be challenging. The American Dental Association notes that, in the last 15 years, the number of adults seeking dental care has dropped. But bringing new patients through the door is essential to increasing production and replacing patients who, for whatever reason, have left your practice. We’ve put together 9 tips to attract new dental patients.

1. Develop a referral system for current clients.

Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the best ways to grow any business, and it’s especially true for a dental practice. When people are looking for a new dentist, they trust a personal recommendation more than advertising. They feel more comfortable knowing someone who has experience and is satisfied with your practice. You can encourage referrals by offering patients an incentive such as a free cleaning or a discount when they refer someone who becomes a patient. Simply handing them a referral card is both easy and effective.

2. Ask for online reviews.

87% of Americans report that they trust online reviews to help them choose a local business for the services they need. The more important the service, the more online reviews they are likely to read. That means that asking for reviews from your patients is a vital part of your dental marketing strategy. A dentist with no reviews is not likely to be the first choice for someone in need of dental care.

3. Participate in community events.

Sponsoring a local event can be an effective part of your marketing strategy and a good way to build brand awareness. It can be something as basic as handing out flyers and coupons at a local event to participating in local health fairs and back-to-school events. Community events are also a good way to grow your contact database.

4. Offer new patient incentives.

One way to encourage prospective patients to take action is to offer them something, such as a free report in exchange for their contact information. You can also offer a discount on service bundles — cleaning, x-rays, and exam — or even a free cleaning. It’s critical to give people a reason to call you.

5. Promote that you are taking new patients.

Ensure that your marketing lets people know your practice is accepting new patients. This can be one of the first questions a prospective patient may have, and it’s a piece of information that can cause them to call you instead of a competitor whose marketing doesn’t make that clear.

6. Educate through your advertising.

Provide prospective patients with relevant, useful information. Offer tips on choosing a dentist and how regular flossing affects their health. For example, consider a radio ad that explains the benefits of using an electric toothbrush or an ad that discusses cavity prevention tips. By offering valuable information, instead of just another annoying ad, you can build brand awareness and help ensure that your practice is top of mind when consumers are looking for a new dentist.

7. Be active on social media platforms.

Social media is an essential part of marketing your dental practice. It humanizes your practice and provides an opportunity to engage with both current and prospective patients. Use social media to promote the local events with which you’re involved and use event hashtags. Build trust by asking satisfied patients to provide video testimonials and post to social media.

8. Focus on Local SEO and an Exceptional Website.

Local SEO targets people in a specific area, which is important for a dental practice. In addition, Google displays local results higher in mobile browsers. Optimize for location-specific keywords, such as city, neighborhood, and zip code.

9. Use digital promotions to interact and engage with potential patients.

Build a community that keeps current customers coming back for more, and they are likely to refer others who may become patients. Have fun with it. For example, post quizzes and photo contests.

While dental advertising has changed, some things remain the same. Providing great service is the best way to attract new customers, by encouraging word-of-mouth advertising and asking for referrals and online reviews. Add useful educational content and other brand awareness campaigns to grow your practice and attract new patients.

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10 Social Media Networking Sites for Doctors

10 Social Media Networking Sites for Doctors | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Social media is constantly broadening and evolving. This makes it imperative for you to have a presence on such sites. If you already have an active account on regular social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, then what about the physician-oriented social networking sites? These sites are specifically designed for doctors, to facilitate healthcare practitioners to communicate and share information, opinions and much more.

Here are 10 social networking sites for doctors and healthcare practitioners:

Sermo

Sermo, the leading social networking site for physicians, connects “verified and credentialed” physicians from the US, Norway, Australia, UK, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa, Colombia, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, Argentina, Finland, Spain, Venezuela, Chile, Israel, Guatemala, Peru and Ecuador. This “virtual doctors lounge” allows doctors from these countries to discuss patients’ issues. The meeting of medical minds and hearts at Sermo offers real-life medical question-and-answer sessions.

Doximity

Another very popular website, Doximity targets US-based doctors. According to the company, over a half-million US healthcare practitioners are active on Doximity. It is more like Facebook and LinkedIn where physicians can stay connected with already known classmates, co-residents and colleagues. It helps establish a network with colleagues and employees at leading hospitals. Also, you can earn Category 1 credits by reading favorite medical journals and do free HIPAA- secure faxing from your mobile device.

QuantiaMD

QuantiaMD is a learning platform where the collaboration of suggestion, observation and information happens over laptops, tablets and smartphones. It has more than 200,000 members interacting with experts and peers. It showcases thousands of concise lectures and Q&A sessions conducted by different experts. Its accessibility on different devices allows doctors to gain or share valuable knowledge during their workout or coffee break.

OrthoMind

Exclusively designed for orthopedic surgeons, OrthoMind provides rapid sharing of information and private collaboration. This learning platform comes with plenty of tools and resources to focus on enhanced patient care. This site can be accessed only by orthopedic surgeons or OrthoMind employees.

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This global site hosts healthcare practitioners and students from more than 100 countries. It allows them to share pictures of ailments or rare illnesses and get opinions on treatment from other physicians. This advanced system removes the face of the patient automatically and the image is reviewed by a human before displaying it over the app. This tool is of great assistance to doctors dealing with patients in remote locations with rare disorders.

Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.

DoctorsHangout

This is a social networking service for medical students, residents and doctors to develop professional and personal relationships. It gives them the option to join the group they want, of professionals they’d like to interact with. Here, doctors can share their medical knowledge and clinical cases. It interlinks major online journals and thus creates a knowledge bank for all.

Incision Academy

The word ‘Academy’ in itself indicates that this site is more of a learning platform than a social networking space. This surgeon site teaches surgical skills and knowledge that will improve the quality of surgical care. It is a very impactful tool that comes with a step-by-step guide for a procedure, supported with high-quality 3D films. It is an anyplace, anywhere academy that can be visited from every device.

Mayo Clinic Social Media Network

This superlative global site for healthcare practitioners has webinars, annual conferences, discussion forums, blogs, etc. for enhancement of knowledge and improvement of health. Its members include hospitals, healthcare practitioners and medical providers, along with patients. The company also provides a ‘Social For Healthcare’ Certificate and ‘Social Media Fellows’ Program. One can even download an eBook, “Bringing the Social Media #Revolution to Health Care” for free.

Digital Healthcare

Digital Healthcare is a Google+ community. It is a social media and online tool for health practitioners, patients and anyone interested in healthcare discussions. It creates awareness related to the latest technologies in the health sector and how innovation and social media can be used within the digital healthcare space.

Student Doctor Network

Student Doctor Network is a knowledge bank for medical students. This nonprofit organization assists and encourages students and practicing doctors from across the US and Canada. Many students had joined the site as undergraduates and are now health practitioners in various fields of healthcare and medicine.

Physicians and healthcare practitioners lead a busy life where they don’t have time to socialize with their colleagues or study and discuss something new. These social networking sites give the option to share information and knowledge with others and socialize within the doctors community. It’s time-saving and interesting thing to go for.

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NYC doctor urges family doctors to use social media to help patients

NYC doctor urges family doctors to use social media to help patients | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

A New York City physician has called for family doctors to build trust with their patients through social media.

Dr. Mikhail Varshavski cited Statista.com when he wrote that more than 2.5 billion people across the globe are on social media, and that number will reach 2.67 billion by next year. The number of Americans using social media has gone up from 24 percent in 2008 to 81 percent this year, Varshavski said.

According to those numbers, only 19 percent of Americans now are not on social media. Because of that, Varshavski recommends that doctors use social media wisely as a way to build trust with their patients.

Family doctors can use social media to help their patients learn more and help themselves and their children to avoid getting sick, he said. Along with that, Varshavski says family doctors can use social media to help patients learn about visiting their family doctor regularly, to help avoid unhealthy conditions and to improve their overall health.

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Avoid the Potential Pitfalls of Social Media 

Avoid the Potential Pitfalls of Social Media  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

I have seen more cases against doctors who likely crossed the line with their social media usage. Consider the following scenarios:

Scenario 1:

A D.C. posted pictures of herself wearing lingerie on a social media website. On the site, she identified herself as a chiropractor, as well as the chiropractic college she attended. An anonymous complaint alleging inappropriate conduct was filed with the state board.

Scenario 2:

A man filed a complaint with the state’s board of chiropractic against his ex-wife’s D.C., alleging improper conduct by the doctor. He alleged that his wife had an affair with the D.C. and the involvement was the reason for their ensuing divorce. The husband attached the phone bill to the complaint, documenting hundreds of texts between the doctor and his wife, many of which were sent during the weekend and as late as 2:00 a.m. Fortunately for the D.C., the board gave him the benefit of the doubt when he submitted an affidavit stating that the female patient was just a friend who he was helping get through a divorce.

Scenario 3:

After a D.C. gave her cell phone number and email address to all patients, one patient began sending her inappropriate texts and posting suggestive comments on the D.C.’s website. The patient had misconstrued the D.C.’s intentions. Ultimately, the D.C. had to seek legal counsel and obtain a restraining order against the patient.

What do these scenarios show? If you’re involved in the social media world, legal issues may affect you. Anything you post, tweet or blog may come back to haunt you and be used against you in the future. There are numerous companies that can retrieve past websites and find information that has been taken down. In other words, once something is put on a social media site, it will be available indefinitely.

That’s why it’s important to look at everything you do as if you were an incoming patient—and ask yourself:

  • Is it appropriate to the patient or does it send the wrong message?
  • Would the state board find it “unprofessional”?

When in doubt, leave it out! (In other words, do not do it.)

Regulatory Considerations

It is important to remember that anything you say or write may be used against you in court or in a board allegation. That’s why you should be careful about:

  • Any guarantees on your website
  • Statements about your method of practice
  • Comments you make/images you show that could be used against you in trial or in a board action:
    • Do you need to have a drink in your hand in photos?
    • What information are you putting out there about yourself?
    • Is it too much information?
    • What is the title of the album or post?

Also be cautious of items you “like,” share or retweet. Though doing so doesn’t necessarily mean you endorse the content, it does make you appear that you approve of it. If you’re uncomfortable with what your online interaction will imply to others, don’t do it. You must be especially careful to protect the confidentiality of patients.

You should never use a patient’s name or likeness unless you have the person’s written authority. If you do not use the patient’s name but you provide information that allows others to determine the patient’s identify, there may still be a breach of confidentiality. For example, if a patient’s unique tattoo is apparent on your website, it would be a breach of confidentiality even if you didn’t identify the person by name or show his face.

Remember, make sure your social media sites are set to private and keep your content and images on a professional level—even for those you host individually. Social media is rarely completely private, and whatever you post may become available for others to see indefinitely.

 

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[Infographic] LinkedIn preferred platform for healthcare companies 

[Infographic] LinkedIn preferred platform for healthcare companies  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Pharmaceutical and Healthcare companies have shown an increased preference towards LinkedIn, which has come out on top followed by Facebook and Twitter for digital engagement as per data revealed by the India Digital Health Report 2017.

The India Digital Health Report 2017 of more than 160 companies from the following verticals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices & equipment, diagnostics and hospitals on 12 key digital and social parameters – websites, apps, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, Blogger, Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram and Tumblr.

LinkedIn enjoys the maximum presence with 91% players having their LinkedIn page, but suffers from low engagement with only 11% companies active on LinkedIn.

After LinkedIn, Facebook is the 2nd most preferred platform with 90% presence rate. Pharma has the maximum number of players amongst the 4 categories on Facebook with a presence rate of 86%. However merely 19% accounts from the companies surveyed, actively engage with their audience.

Among pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer is the leader when it comes to digital and social media activity, and the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital leads the way among Hospitals. Refer to this exclusive Infographic compiled by D Yellow Elephant, a digital agency with a focus towards pharmaceuticals, medical technology, healthcare, and wellness.

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Top 24 Healthcare and Medical Marketing Tips for 2017

Top 24 Healthcare and Medical Marketing Tips for 2017 | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

We reached out to some of the top healthcare marketing and social media experts to learn how you can better market your medical practice in 2017.

Top 24 Healthcare and Medical Marketing Tips

1.  Focus on a Better Patient Experience and Nice Audiences

Two major themes come to mind when thinking about the future of healthcare marketing: prevention and personalization. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to reform or repeal the Affordable Care Act, leaving many organizations in the dark about the future of the healthcare industry. In 2017, however, hospitals and health systems should continue to up their game in customer service and preventative care.

Despite impending changes to the ACA, there will still be a cohort of the population with high-deductible health insurance plans. These consumers are more apt to shop around for healthcare. The way to stand out in a crowded marketplace is to provide a superior patient experience, from the information available on your website to the way the staff treats patients. A better patient experience is still the way to compete in 2017.

Additionally, medical practices should step back from big-picture strategies and focus their marketing efforts on specific groups of people. Niche audiences tend to be passionate about their interests, beliefs, and hobbies. Healthcare practices can plan marketing campaigns that zero in on their passions and engage them on a more personal level. For example, your next maternity campaign can target mothers who are into wellness and fitness. Or, your next orthopedic campaign can target student athletes. Your audience may shrink in size, but your variables of engagement will increase.

Dave Vener, President
Smith & Jones
@smithandjones1

2.  Strong Referral Program

We work with hundreds of audiology clinics around the country. For local businesses without the digital marketing experience, the number one ROI activity is providing excellent service and having a strong referral program built in to every touch point.

Akiva Szental
Ozen Hearing
@ozenaustralia

3.  Valuable Offer That Patients Can’t Resist

Valuable content is still king, but for healthcare practices looking to get new patients immediately, look no further than Facebook and Instagram advertising. I’m not talking about “boosting” a post about your office staff’s Halloween party. I am talking about crafting a valuable offer that your target patients can’t resist.

I recently helped an orthodontics practice run a, “$500 Off Braces” offer for two weeks on Facebook and Instagram. The ads sent people to a custom landing page designed to collect contact information. Once the contact information was submitted, the office staff received an email notification and would call the lead within 5-minutes. It’s not a pushy “sales call,” but simply a follow-up call to schedule a free exam.

We noticed that a call within 5-10 minutes proved to convert leads into appointments 70% of the time. This simple process of offer, Facebook ad, landing page, and phone call proved to bring in 12 new customers during the two-week ad campaign. At approximately $5000 per new braces customer, the ROI on a Facebook campaign was well worth it.

Seth Ollerton
Ollerton Marketing
@sethollerton

4.  Implement Formal Patient Experience Strategy

There is no question that the number one way to grow a medical practice is through developing exquisite Patient Experiences (PX) that result in positive comments on influential social networks. It turns out that patients do not have a clue when it comes to clinical efficacy.

What they do know to the depth of their soul is, rather or not they loved the human experience that they received. Studies show that when a practice goes from a five-star to a four-star rating on health grades, yelp, Google or other rating sites, it can be the difference between bankruptcy and massive practice growth.

The take away here is that most practices do not have a Patient Experience strategy that looks at all of the touch points that patients will experience throughout their practice journey. Gain insights about what your patience love and hate, create a comprehensive and formalized Patient Experience strategy and you will lead your market in growth.

Nicholas Webb
www.nickwebb.com
@nickwebbcom

5.  Don’t Forget About Local Media

Medical practices should consider advertising in various local media as well as online. They can run ads. They can do advertorial. They can also target and retarget by keyword searches related to symptoms, treatments and various conditions and diseases.

For an advertising budget, they might want to consider using a budget of about 3-5% of sales for advertising.

Robert Barrows
R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations

6.  Optimized Website with Fresh, Consistent Content

As we move into 2017, it will become even more critical for medical practices to invest in search engine optimization for their websites. As more and more doctors advance into the digital marketing space, website ranking and visibility will become increasingly competitive.

If you plan on reaching new patients through your newly designed and developed website, make sure you invest the time and money into SEO as well. Do your research and select a company that employs “white hat” strategies and tactics, and your return on investment should be desirable.

Content marketing is also huge in terms of website ranking, as Google looks favorably on websites that push out fresh, relevant content on a consistent basis.

Brandon Welch, PhD
Doxy.me
@doxymeHQ

7.  Don’t Get Distracted By Design – Focus on Great Patient-Focused Content

Create content that truly serves your audience.

It’s easy to get caught up in your website design, SEO, and social media, but the thing that you should always come back to is: Are you creating content (video/blog posts/resources) that actually improves your readers’ health?

I see a lot of healthcare practitioners fail at this by talking about themselves, their credentials, and their work. Talk about your patients, THEIR symptoms, THEIR struggles.

And create the best content on the web to address their health concerns. Focus on that, and everything else will follow.

Dr. Mark Burhenne
AsktheDentist.com
@askthedentist

8.  Cultivate Your Personal Brand

Focus your efforts on building your personal brand online by creating content regularly on industry specific topics, getting published in industry journals.

You can self-publish your content through LinkedIn’s blogging or posts section along with other social platforms.

This will not only build your reputation through Google search results (Google yourself and see what pops up), but also position you as an industry expert, which is invaluable in healthcare where your reputation and credibility are everything.

Claire Faucett
engage5w
@engage5w

9.  Automated Price Estimator for Patient Services

Patients scroll through the different procedures and services, add them to their wishlist and then submit the wishlist along with their contact info. They don’t see any prices until we see their name, email address, phone number and ZIP code.

This is all automated. They submit the wishlist and instantly receive an email with a breakdown of costs for those specific procedures from our cloud database. At the same time, my front office staff gets the same email with the consumer’s contact info for follow up.

We found that over 80% of consumers want to know cost before they even come to the office for a consult. Pricing isn’t the only pain point but it is the ultimate pain point. This weeds out the price shoppers and lets serious patients know what their financial responsibility is before coming in.

In my first year in San Francisco with no marketing budget, I found that 17.8% of consumers came in for a consultation after they submitted their wishlist. 62% of those that came in, booked a procedure. We found that price-aware consumers were 41% more likely to book than non-price aware patients.

In the process of using this Price Estimator, I’ve built my email database from 200 emails to over 5,800 in 3.5 years. With monthly e-newsletters, we have 12 touch points throughout the year to get those patients that submitted a wishlist to finally come in for a consultation.

In essence, we’ve married price transparency with lead generation. To be clear, this isn’t just for plastic surgeons or those only offering cosmetic services. This is for any doctor that offers medically necessary services that are typically paid out of pocket before a deductible is met. Which is pretty much any doctor now.

Jonathan Kaplan MD, MPH
BuildMyBod
@buildmybod

10.  Google My Business Listing

Take advantage of a free Google My Business listing, ideal for a brick and mortar medical practice. Once you have created and claimed your page, you need to make sure that all of your information is consistent across web directories and citations. I highly recommend using tools like MOZ Local and Yext to save the time and hassle of updating the information manually. The tools do come at a price, but in my opinion, it’s well worth it in the long run. It’s also important to make sure that doctors are signed up on review sites like RateMDs, Healthgrades, Vitals, BetterDoctor, ZocDoc, and other niche sites. Being listed and having positive reviews will make them stand out above others.

Another important strategy is to make sure that each doctor is listed on their respective organizational websites. For example, a cosmetic surgeon should be listed on organizational websites like the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and so on. These are highly authoritative links that can really boost the rankings of your website.

Brandon Schroth
seoWorks
@seoWorks

11.  Interactive Content

For 2017, I think health care marketing will shift towards more interactive content where the reader has to make choices that influence the outcome of the content. You’ve already seen this with quizzes and tests which were the most shared pieces of content in 2016. In 2017, however, this will go further and delve into interactive videos and blog posts. When readers have a direct impact on the content they are more engaged and this increases their brand recall.

Imagine healthcare firms with pieces on content that change based on user responses. Content that applies to a person with flu symptoms will be different than content that applies to a person with bronchitis symptoms. While this takes a bit more work, it allows for the brand to be at the forefront of the consumer’s mind. The consumer is getting truly personalized information in an age when everything is generic.

Russab Ali
SMC Digital Marketing
@SMCDigitalJC

12.  Genuinely Follow-up with Your Patients

Medical marketing is tricky territory. Talking about diseases that the practice solves isn’t really fun content for most. Moreover there’s tons of information already available on the net.

The best way then for a medical practice to market itself, in my opinion, is by taking care of its patients. And doing that well. If the patients are happy, you are sure to get a positive word-of-mouth, and that’s the best possible promotion anyone can have.

Create a digital follow-up program. Segment patients according to the disease and treatment they received. Schedule emails for getting monitoring feedback, informing them of health tips they must follow post their last visit, reminding them of upcoming appointments, etc.

Just make sure your patients are taken care of!

Pratik Shah, Director of Marketing
Grin
@grincreatorapp

13.  Preventative Health, Fee Growth, Word of Mouth, Referrals

1. Schedule health care vs crisis care

We need to focus on preventative health. The best marketing you can do is to educate clients on prevention, schedule prevention checks routinely and make booking patients in for at least quarterly visits.. Every patient needs at least a quarterly check-up and these should be scheduled at the beginning of the year. Toxins are impacting health – environmental, emotional, physical and chemical – and averting a health care crisis is about talking to every patient about the toxic pond we each live in. Patients who receive regular check-ups tend to receive a higher quality of health education. In turn, this flows on to the choices they make and these choicesbecome visible to family, friends and community.

2. Increase your fees and lead by example

The best marketing you will ever do is stand in your own light as an esteemed medical professional, sought after by patients and living in honour of your own true self worth. Each year you spend money learning and passing this knowledge to your clients. As such your fees need to grow by 7-10% every year. How you present yourself to your patients and your community matters. This means honouring yourself, your income and your own health as a priority. The non-conscious is responsible for about 97% of our thought processing, so when you post on social media, walk the streets and see your patients everyday be the person they aspire to be always and in all ways. There’s no need to “sell” to anyone when you are a magnet of the truth about what it means to be truly healthy.

3. Let people know that you are a “word of mouth” practice

In my practice we talk about this to our patients all day every day. It is so simple to do. Any patient who says “thank you” needs to be told in that moment, “We love looking after people just like you, and as we are a word of mouth practice please share your positive experience with friends and family.” In 25 years of developing a successful healthcare practice this has always been (and will continue to be)the best marketing we do.

4. Give to receive

Philosophically the outcome for every patient is for them to find the highest level of health possible. Be generous in your care and refer patients to trusted colleagues and specialists when you know that their health is going to be better served by another. When you create a network of professionals who each have the mindset of collaborative healthcare your practice grows. Take an honest look at how you go about connecting with other doctors. Do you look and feel desperate to receive referrals? The energy of interacting in this way may be exhausting. Instead think laterally and be the “specialist” who consults peer-to-peer with others. These interactions from a mindset of generosity, best care and you being the esteemed professional that you are may shift referrals from others up the notch you are seeking. No doctor refers to any doctor who he or she feels (even intuitively) is desperate for patients.

Madelaine Cohen, Clinic Owner, Marketing and Brand Expert
Chirofamily Chirosports
@madelainecohen

14.  Publish relevant, quality content that answers their questions

The thing with healthcare marketing is that it can seem like more of a challenge getting your content found. The best solution I can give you is to create regular, quality content that answers the questions patients are asking, and also to create more customer-focused content on your website, rather than just talking about your own products or services.

These days, consumers are doing their own research, and it’s your job to help them do that – especially with something as sensitive as healthcare, where they want to know the facts before speaking to someone. Try to keep your content as relevant and valuable as possible to help establish trust and a connection with your readers.

Kevin Gallagher, Healthcare Marketer
Stargazer Digital
@wearestargazer

15.  Innovative Patient Experience

More regulated industries like pharma/healthcare are starting to make great strides in innovation and customer experience. I believe we will see virtual reality continue to emerge as a primary tool used to connect with patients and provide education, and as a selling tool for the pharma industry to use with its healthcare provider customers. I also think we will begin to see medical devices redefined. As previously mentioned, there are currently some health applications that can actually be classified as devices if they provide certain services. This will continue to evolve as developers, marketers and the Food and Drug Administration all come together for the good of the patient.

Brooke Fleming, Director of Strategic Engagement
Luckie & Co.
@LuckieAndCo

16.  Be Personal, Go Mobile

This coming year will be an interesting year for healthcare. As a marketing professional working with leading healthcare brands including Blue Shield of California, Delta Dental and others, there are three top tips for the medical industry to be better in 2017.

  1. Make your email communications personal to the patient; Personalized emails are 6X more effective and currently nearly 40% of practitioners use email to stay connected with their patients.
  2. Be mobile accessible (online and with apps); 60%of consumers are willing to have a video-visit with a provider through a mobile device. In addition, drug companies have now launched 700+ consumer apps and 1in 3 patients use mobile health apps.
  3. Go beyond virtual solutions and consider wearable/portable hardware for marketing; It is projected that within four years, there will be 78.5 million connected personal-health devices in the U.S.

* Note: Data included in the tips was pulled from outside resources including Tractica.

Ian Baer, CSO
Rauxa
@ianbaer

17.  Live Streaming and Snapchat

Social media will continue playing a very important factor in how medical practices market their businesses in 2017. Choose your social network wisely and make sure to dedicate time and resources to marketing the RIGHT way on social. If you really want to stand out and build a following quickly, hop on the live streaming craze.

Snapchat is hot right now and practices who are taking advantage of this platform are winning big time. Having an active presence on Snapchat is a great way to stand out from the fierce competition and build a following of brand advocates. In turn, this will drive new patients to your practice.

Mandy McEwen, Founder & CEO
Mod Girl Marketing
@MandyModGirl

18.  Combine Social Media with Outstanding Content

I think a combination of social media and outstanding content is the best way for medical practices to attract new clients and engage and retain the ones they already have.

Social media has become a powerful tool in a company’s marketing arsenal, but it has to be utilized properly to maximize value. For example, a medical consulting firm may find that usingLinkedIn and its publishing platform may be the most effective way of branding the company and attracting professionals. I use that platform to create content that is authoritative and helpful, and I find that it can attract the professionals I’m looking to get into business with.

But that can only happen if you write high-quality pieces that are informative and actionable, because when it comes to medical advice or health advice, end-users want facts and recommendations, not opinions.

But on the other hand, a pediatric practice with a target market of mothers may find that Facebook offers a better branding opportunity through the creation of education content and personalized videos that appeal to mothers who are looking for useful information when it comes to the care of their children.

The truth is, social media and content creation are so interconnected when it comes to marketing that you can’t really implement an effective strategy by separating the two. What I mean is that your goal should be to create valuable content that will appeal to your targeted market, and then publish and disseminate that content on social media sites that conform to that market.

Tabitha Jean Naylor
TabithaNaylor.com
@TabithaNaylor

19.  Deliver on Brand Promises

Unlike just a couple of decades ago, today’s patient is now also a healthcare consumer, more willing to take control of their personal health and responsible for an increasing portion of the finances related to their care. This means that patients are much more deliberate in evaluating potential providers than they once were. They’re also now less likely to remain with a provider if they’re not pleased with the overall treatment they’re receiving.

Before the patient experience can ever be controlled, the provider must effectively identify and set brand expectations internally by communicating to stakeholders the importance of value, while defining the specific roles that physicians and administrators play in establishing a patient centric culture. The patient experience must begin from within in order for the medical practice to deliver on the brand promises and be reinforced at every touch point of the patient-buyer journey.

Failing to deliver on promises set by brand communications will only serve to drive away potential patients in favor of competitors that will better meet the patient’s needs.

If you’re not thinking that the branding of your medical practice in this value-based care era is important, you better think again.

Matt Bowen, CEO
Aloft Group
@MattyBowen

20.  Responsive Medical Website

One thing I strongly suggest for healthcare providers is to make your website adhere to responsive design principles. At CareDash, we find an increasing number of healthcare related searches are mobile. Not only does it make it easier for potential patients to actually use your website, it provides SEO benefits as Google gives well executed responsive websites bumps over those that aren’t.

Ted Chan, CEO
CareDash
@upwardmobility

21.  Blogging is A Great Way to Tell Your Story

Blogging is a great way to tell your story, and if done right, can help take your online marketing to a whole new level.

However, as a busy practitioner, you’ve probably figured out that creating a successful blog also comes with some challenges.

This is especially true if you’re just getting started. Whether it’s coming up with topics to write about or figuring out how to find the time to do it in the midst of running a busy practice…there are some barriers you’ll need to overcome if you want to make your blog a success.

Here are 4 Ways to Make Blogging Easier for You and Your Practice:

  1. Set Up Your Team. As the saying goes, no man is an island…so think about your nurses, receptionists, pharmacy partners, referral specialists, social workers…all of these people can serve on your team. You may want the assistance of freelance healthcare writers or an editorial specialist, too.
  2. Developing a Posting Schedule and Stick to It. Something as simple as Google Calendar is a great tool. You don’t need to write a masterpiece! My motto is Done is Better Than Perfect!
  3. Be Conversational and Keep your Posts Short at First. In fact, many physician bloggers speak their blog post and have a team member or freelance content manager edit for clarity and SEO.
  4. Write with Patients and Caregivers in Mind. You are not writing to the universe. Your patients want to hear your stories and learn about health recommendations from you and their medical team.
    I have found that nothing has helped me organize and clarify my thinking better than blogging. Start Blogging. Keep Blogging. I believe you’ll like it and your patients will thank you.

Carol Bush, Content Strategist, Writing Coach and President
The Social Nurse
@cbushrn

22.  Get Involved in Community Events

At OraBrite, we believe that the four factors of social marketing that lead to success in office marketing are branding, social media, personnel training, and participation in local events. Our research has found that businesses that are engaged in the four social factors experience new patient growth.

Is your office looking to expand your client base and create a positive community image in your community for 2017? Your marketing message should be focused on the presence of the office and doctors in the community while addressing community health issues.

Participating in events in a local level allows your community to get to know you on a social level as well as begin to build a relationship. Giving out promotional giveaways with your office logo and practice information is an excellent opportunity to create brand awareness.

People are emotionally committed to a business they feel they have a relationship with and community events are a great opportunity to start building that relationship.

Lisa Rogers, Dental Office Sales Manager and Social Media Coordinator
Denta+media
@DentaMediaNews

23.  Know Your Competition and Where Your Influence is Most Effective

For medical practices, as for other types of marketers, it’s key to fully understand specifically who they are attempting to influence and, then, to understand as much as they possibly can about their target audience so they can identify the best channels to reach them and the best messages to influence a positive decision.

They need to do this in consideration of their competitors, as well. In healthcare direct competitors are obvious–e.g. other providers offering the same types of services. But considering indirect competitors can help to create more compelling messages. For instance, indirect competition in healthcare can include searching for information online, asking “mom” or “grandma” for advice, or avoiding care altogether. I tend to consider competition as “any available alternative” — or anything that will keep my prospect from choosing me.

Another important point for healthcare service providers relates to who they’re attempting to influence. A cardiologist, for instance, may be more effective in attempting to influence referring primary care providers than in going directly to consumers–the primary care providers are easier to identify/reach than larger pools of consumers and they exert a great deal of influence over the patients they serve.

Linda Pophal, MA, SHRM-SCP, Owner/CEO
Strategic Communications
@StratCommun

24. Start Engaging Digitally With Patients

My tip for marketing health care practices in 2017 is to get your head out of the sand and start engaging digitally with patients. There are four key ways:

  1. Partner with patients. Invite patients to Google their conditions and bring questions to their appointments.
  2. Publish health content online. You can’t complain about bad health information online if you aren’t publishing good information.
  3. Track your online reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp and Health Grades. Listen to the feedback to improve the patient experience rather than being defensive.
  4. Make health care more convenient and less scary. Make it easier for patients to pay their bill online, or to learn about your providers, or where to park. Make it less scary by live-streaming on Periscope or Facebook Live.

Engaging with patients digitally will do more for your practice than any marketing campaign.

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