Social Media and Healthcare
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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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Social Media and Healthcare
Articles and Discussions on the intersection of Social Media and Healthcare.
Relevant to Healthcare Practitioners, Pharma', Insurance, Clinicians, Labs, Health IT Vendors, Health Marketeers, Health Policy Makers, Hospital Administrators.
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Social Media Implementation Checklist

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fear of the known

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

Trust issues

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

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

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

HCP engagement

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

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

Where the journey begins

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

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

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Moving Forward with Interoperability: How Patients Will Drive Change

Moving Forward with Interoperability: How Patients Will Drive Change | Social Media and Healthcare |
HIMSS15 is just around the corner, and like every year, interoperability will be an important focus area for most healthcare organizations. Much of the recent interoperability conversation has been from the clinician’s perspective – how ubiquitous access to data across devices and systems has the potential to help provide continuous monitoring, earlier and more accurate intervention, and overall better patient outcomes. But as patients become more engaged in their own care and demand access to their information, the industry will feel the pressure to move faster on interoperability.

The ability for devices and systems to seamlessly connect with each other and share data has the potential to enable a 360-degree view of the patient’s health, allowing clinicians to make faster, more responsive decisions. True interoperability also means that data should travel across vendors and health systems to facilitate access to high-quality care, regardless of the patient’s physical geography.


Achieving interoperability in practice has been a gradual process, but patients, payer and governments around the globe are driving change. With the access patients now have to consumer devices and technologies, it won’t be long before demand for more health information will drive a new level of connectivity of healthcare technology. While patient portals and wearables have improved patients’ engagement in their care, they have not created a shift in overall patient behavior, as fitness data without context is not always perfectly actionable. We will only see a sustainable shift in healthy behaviors when interoperability enables patients to have ready and simple access to their entire health history, allowing them to track the benefits of making healthier decisions.


For example, a patient with a heart condition might have a wearable sensor patch that continuously tracks and reports vital signs. Subtle changes in physiology that might signal an escalation in his condition could be preemptively reported to the patient’s care physician, triggering a phone call with medication advice or asking the patient visit his doctor. Before the patient arrives, clinicians have access to up to the minute information enabling faster and more responsive treatment and advice, perhaps preventing an unnecessary hospitalization. Once hospitalization is prevented, the patient may begin to monitor his exercise and activities, which can also feed into the EMR, allowing clinicians to monitor progress, and provide timely intervention. This will especially improve the quality of life for fragile patients, who are so often just a missed dose of medication away from a trip to the emergency room. Access to this kind of data can empower them to take more control of their day to day lives through consumer friendly views of their clinical information.


While all of these ideas may sound futuristic today, interoperability is the first step to making them a reality. Over the past ten years, we have taken individual silos of small data within health care organizations and consolidated them into enterprise information systems. This has been a great first step in the journey. However, in the process we have created even larger silos of inaccessible data in many instances. We already have many of the technical capabilities to absorb patient data and federate it across large organizations and geographies, thanks to organizations like HIMSS and IHE.  With the proper incentives in place, interoperability will enable large-scale improvements in health care.


I’m seeing some positive changes – such as the ONC’s recent interoperability roadmap, which is moving us in the right direction. I’m hoping that all of us can collectively continue the conversation at HIMSS15, and find a way to move needle on interoperability this year.

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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 |

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 |

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. 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

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Patient Recruitment in the Age of Social Media

Patient Recruitment in the Age of Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

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 |

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 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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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.

Bilal Mehanna's curator insight, August 16, 5:59 PM

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10 Social Media Networking Sites for Doctors

10 Social Media Networking Sites for Doctors | Social Media and Healthcare |

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, 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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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 |

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

Dr. Mikhail Varshavski cited 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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Evolving use of social media among Chinese urologists: Opportunity or challenge?

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


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


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


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


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

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3 Digital Marketing Strategies That Work for Any Healthcare-Based Company 

3 Digital Marketing Strategies That Work for Any Healthcare-Based Company  | Social Media and Healthcare |

The healthcare marketing world is ever-changing. It is essential now more than ever to be in the know of what digital marketing strategies work for healthcare-based companies and put into practice how potential patients prefer to view your message. Take a look at the top digital marketing strategies your healthcare-based company needs this year.

Media Outlets That Work for Your Brand

Marketing for your healthcare-based company works best when you figure out which media outlets are right for your brand. A standard still today, email marketing can help your healthcare company effectively reach patients and capture data for the future. By segmenting your emails, your target audience can be reached accordingly by factors such as age.

Videos and podcasts are other effective outlets that can communicate your company’s message. Educate potential patients on your company or on the services that your company provides through a video that shows patients what they need to know, or create a digital audio series that patients can listen to by podcast.

To increase the likelihood that your website will be in the Google search results of a patient, write keyword-worthy blogs that are a main feature on your website. Adding images to your blog posts and ensuring that your blogs can be shared on social media outlets are key factors to consider as well.

Regardless of what media outlets you choose to market your message, your healthcare company should have a social media presence. Give potential patients the opportunity to see that your brand has people working behind the scenes by responding to concerns, questions, or feedback in real time. You must use your social media platforms to your company’s advantage by not only posting on company pages, but utilizing ad and tracking tools to reach more potential patients.

Content That Tells a Story

Creating content that best represents your brand is essential to marketing your healthcare company. Whether it be through a blog or a video, make sure your message is consistent. Know what your healthcare company stands for and stick by it.

With that being said, content should tell the story of what is going on currently in your healthcare company or how your company is adapting to the current healthcare and/or marketing world. You want your company to gain awareness through such content and hopefully earn new patients as a result.

You can better understand what content patients are searching for through search engine optimization (SEO) tools. For example, Google can help you determine how relevant your content is to your healthcare company by measuring keywords, back-end tags, and meta descriptions, and can even show how your content relates to the intent of a person searching the Internet. Google can also measure the authority of your content by ranking it based on how many times it is shared or how often other sources link back to it.

Mobile Gives Your Brand a Voice

Research and social media use by mobile device is continuously growing in popularity, so creating content that is available via mobile is a must. Since you are a healthcare-based company, you need to count on mobile to help connect patients to your brand because other healthcare competitors are already taking advantage of this tool. Make sure all outlets and content performs correctly on mobile and continue to look for new trends such as creating an app that patients can use to reach your healthcare company.

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How to help your doctors realize the power of social media 

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

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

Here’s how a typical conversation starts:

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

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

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

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

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


Do patients trust you over ‘Dr. Google’?

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

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

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

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

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

Have you heard of @SeattleMamaDoc?

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

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

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Social Media and Patient Engagement in Healthcare

Social Media and Patient Engagement in Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

Pregame before Massillon at Avon scrimmage.

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 |

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 |

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 |

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.


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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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 |

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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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 |

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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