Social Media and Healthcare
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Professional use of social media (for medical students)

Lecture to uOttawa 1st year medical students on the benefits and challenges of using social media professionally
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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. 

MARGARITA's curator insight, December 31, 2015 5:15 PM

Support our people

United Home Healthcare's curator insight, June 12, 12:29 PM
Being active on Social media can really help your company.
rob halkes's curator insight, September 15, 6:04 AM

You might think that after 10+ years, social media for healthcare is a self evident activity,! Nothing is less true, however ;-) But here's a checklist you need if you still need to sign up ;-) 


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Blogging Gives Patients Freedom of the Press— and That’s Freedom to Be Heard

Blogging Gives Patients Freedom of the Press— and That’s Freedom to Be Heard | Social Media and Healthcare |

Editor's Note: This essay is part of our weekly #TimeLessWisdom series, in which we're highlighting one of the contributions from our 2012 book, Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care. Learn more about the series.

American journalist A. J. Liebling famously said, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” Blogging gives you one.

It’s not just a happy metaphor, either. A generation ago the only way to get your thoughts to a wider audience was through broadcast or print, and the only way to do that was with big capital equipment. To be heard, you had to go through people who had that capital. They had to bless your words, or you couldn’t get at their equipment. With a blog, the only resource you need is computer access. Profound. Not only do you not need permission: you can say anything you want.

Blogs are free and public. They sprinkle ideas like seeds in soil: some never take root, but some do and sprout, and some of those sprouts grow tall. Some get noticed and some don’t, but that doesn’t hold you back: you can express whatever you want.

Consider what happened to me.

I started a blog because I’d beaten a usually fatal cancer. (Good enough.) I wrote whatever I felt like, ranging from thanking my doctors to ranting about statistics and touting my hobby (barbershop singing). Then I got interested in health care and wrote about that but not that much.

But in 2009, I wrote about my medical records, and in less than a month it bent federal policy. I’d discovered my insurance billing history was a mess, and unbeknownst to me, the post stomped in a mud puddle of policy being discussed in Washington. Twelve days later it was on the front page of the newspaper. Pretty soon the proposed policy was ditched—because of one middle-aged guy from New Hampshire, in a recliner New Hampshire just writing what he was thinking.

I didn’t even try to do this, but blogging generated invitations to federal policy meetings, and invitations to speak at conferences to doctors, patients, and policy people. Who knew?

Perhaps you’re like Amy Tenderich of DiabetesMine, who simply wanted to connect with others to discuss her condition. Or, you’re like Kelly Young of, who started writing about her condition and soon attracted thousands of followers. You might be like Robin Smith and her friends in the Cushing’s community, who discovered each other across vast distances. Each of these patient blogs was started by someone who initially had no idea whether anyone would listen and then discovered that many would—and did.

What’s on your mind that you’d like to express? Even if nobody’s listening? Go for it; someone might.

Dave deBronkart (a.k.a. @ePatientDave) is a Platinum Fellow in the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network.

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Cosmetic Surgery on Social Media – Patients Rate Preferred Social Media Sites and Content

Cosmetic Surgery on Social Media – Patients Rate Preferred Social Media Sites and Content | Social Media and Healthcare |

Plastic surgeons using social media to attract patients should know their audience's preferred social media platforms and the types of posts of greatest interest, according to a survey study in the November issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

"Plastic surgeons can utilize social media best by considering their target audience's perspective," said Heather Furnas, MD, of Plastic Surgery Associates of Santa Rosa, Calif. Dr. Furnas is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The survey also suggests that patients rely on the plastic surgery practice's website over social media when seeking important information.

Plastic Surgeons on Social Media – The Patient's Perspective

Dr. Furnas and coauthors surveyed 100 patients making visits to their aesthetic plastic surgery practice regarding social media habits and preferences. The patients, average age 44 years, were nearly all women. Most were interested in facial plastic surgery; some were interested in breast, body, or other cosmetic procedures.

Among six social media platforms listed in the survey, Facebook was the clear winner in terms of use and engagement—about half of patients said they checked Facebook at least once daily. Instagram was second in engagement, with 30 percent of patients reporting at least daily use.

Most patients used YouTube and Pinterest, but engagement was low. While only about one-fourth of patients were on Snapchat, most of them used it daily. Twitter was the least popular social media platform.

The plastic surgery practice's website beat out all social media platforms as the go-to source of online information. More than half of patients said they were influenced by the website when selecting a cosmetic surgery practice, compared to just eight percent for Facebook. More than 60 percent of patients checked the practice website on the day of their visit.

Out of 11 social media post categories, most patients chose before-and-after photos of cosmetic surgery procedures. More than one-fourth wanted to see information about the procedures; few selected didactic types of information.

Plastic surgeons can better reach and engage with their target population if they use the social media networks popular with their patients’ demographic. For example, women prefer Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, but Facebook in particular is most popular among the age group of women most likely to be interested in plastic surgery. While Twitter is widely used by plastic surgeons to share and discuss research, the new survey suggests it's the least popular platform among cosmetic surgery patients.

The fleeting content on social media may be less important than the information provided by the plastic surgeon's practice website.

"These results suggest that the website should be considered the centerpiece of a practice's online content," Dr. Furnas and coauthors write. "Social media should be viewed as an adjunct to attract and engage users, enticing them to explore the practice website."

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Video Of Florida Doctor Confrontation With Patient Goes Viral

Video Of Florida Doctor Confrontation With Patient Goes Viral | Social Media and Healthcare |

Don't like reality television shows? Well, if you aren't careful, you could inadvertently be on one, in a way. The following video of an exchange between a doctor and a patient in a Florida Gainesville After-Hours Clinic went viral (as in social media viral and not real virus viral), after it was posted by Jessica Stipe on Facebook:


And surprise! Lots of people on the Interwebs and social media then quickly judged the patient and the doctor. Opinions ranged from blaming the doctor to blaming the patient such as:

Guess what?! Doctors are humans to. This woman abused his staff and he stood up for them. He deserves a raise!

— Jo March (@kmknight7923) October 13, 2017


The Gainesville After Hours Clinic responded by posting a statement on its Facebook account from the doctor, Peter Gallogly, MD. Dr. Gallogly claimed that the video segment came after, "Ms. Stipe had been increasingly belligerent and abusive to the office staff, cursing and threatening them with violence, because she was unwell and had been waiting to be seen by me for more than an hour." He added, “At the very end of the events, I most regrettably lost my temper, and spoke to the women in a most unprofessional manner. I make no excuses for my unacceptable behavior.”

The video snippet was a bit like the final or second to last episode of a reality TV season series and certainly did not capture the whole sequence of events. Thus, we can't yet tell for sure what exactly the patient did to provoke the doctor's response, what the doctor and staff members may have said prior to the segment, and whether this was this was an isolated incident or part of a pattern of behavior for everyone involved. Time and further investigation may tell. 


Welcome to the world where almost everyone can have a portable camera. You know the Police song "Every Breath You Take"? Well, like it or not, doctors, other health care workers and the health care system need to realize and recognize that "I'll be watching you" now applies nearly everywhere, for better or for worse. One moment you may be quietly (or noisily) practicing medicine and the next moment you're like The Situation on The Jersey Shore or Omarosa on The Apprentice.

This certainly changes the practice of medicine and how health systems operate. On the positive side, cameras can expose truly bad behavior and hold people and health systems more accountable. As a result, such a spotlight may help improve patient care and health care systems and can also protect health care workers when they are treated unfairly, threatened, or assaulted. Recall what happened to nurse Alex Wubbels in Utah:

On the negative side, cameras can also invade privacy, interfere with trust, and put well-meaning doctors and other health care workers under even more undue and unreasonable stress to be perfect. They can also help frame health care workers, literally and figuratively, when only a segment of the whole story is shown.

Either way, smartphone cameras aren't going away. So health care workers, medical schools, training programs and health care systems need to understand the potential ramifications and adapt. The reality is that they are increasingly becoming part of an ongoing reality show that could go viral at any moment.

Follow me on Twitter @bruce_y_lee and visit our Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Read my other Forbes pieces here.

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patient advocacy in an age of social media 

patient advocacy in an age of social media  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media platforms are an incredibly powerful tool and have been the main empowerment tool for patients. How is social media disrupting traditional patient advocacy and what must pharma do to stay ahead?


How have social media platforms changed traditional patient advocacy?

  • Social media allows for global networking & making connections worldwide is easier
  • Social media makes it easier to get message across instantaneously – real-time communication
  • Social media makes it easier for patient advocates to network or interact with other patients
  • Social media makes it easier to meet and reach new communities/patients or consumers
  • Social media allows for remote patient advocating; establishing and explaining your position not only with policymakers but with the public
  • Social media allows patient advocates to share clinical trial results and clinical research findings
  • Social media platforms are free and are cost-effective communication tools


How can you identify an influential patient advocate online?

  • Patient advocates engage in Tweet Chats – discussing important topics relevant to their disease areas
  • Patient advocates interact with online healthcare professionals
  • Patient advocates facilitate information creation and sharing
  • Patient advocates follow proper hashtags for disease topics
  • Patient advocates are bloggers that share their experiences


What are some of the tools out there for patient advocacy?



  • Tweet chats take place on Twitter platform and allow for conversations to take place around a keyword or hashtag. For example #BCSM (breast cancer social media)


Which social media platforms are best for patient advocacy?

  • Patients are meeting on different social platforms.
  • They join a FB group.
  • They recount their own story by Instagram.
  • They meet and share information and experiences on Twitter through tweet chats.
  • They blog their illness.


How can pharma use social media to embrace this movement and improve the patient experience?

  • Pharma needs to join in the conversation.
  • By engaging on social forums, pharma may better learn what questions patients are asking and what their real needs are.
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Four Pillars of B2B Healthcare Content Marketing

Although healthcare providers have always communicated their message to other businesses, it has always had a slow evolution.
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New book explores impact of social media on hospice patients

New book explores impact of social media on hospice patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

Daniel Miller is the author of The Comfort of People, a new book featuring the stories of hospice patients and their use of social media. Here he explains how the book took shape.

The primary topic of this book is the social universe of the hospice patient. Potentially this might include their family, their friends and their neighbours. But as we know when someone becomes a hospice patient, things can change. Some of those one might expect to rally round fade from view and avoid contact, while other more peripheral figures come to the fore.

One of the key discoveries of this book is that as a patient becomes more house bound this sets up a dilemma that goes to the core of English traditions. Normally people in England prefer to socialise in public areas such as pubs, clubs, societies, or over the garden fence. But to come into the private home is viewed as intrusive and difficult.

Because of this one of the primary reasons for the degree of isolation and loneliness that may be encountered, especially for some older male patients, is not, as you might expect, the decline of community and support in England, but actually the result of precisely the opposite – the continuity of certain traditions. This matters, because perhaps the single most important thing in life for many people are other people, the core relationships they care about. And if this is so important to them, it is something we also need to pay attention to. As Dr. Ros Taylor notes in her preface the focus here shifts from ‘what’ matters to patients, towards ‘who’ matters for patients.

Most of this book is not written by myself as the author, an anthropologist working at University College London (UCL), but is the direct reportage of our interviews with patients. The intention is to give readers a more immediate sense of how patients understand their situation. Each of the eighteen stories brings out different issues: one is concerned with the negative impact of rules about confidentiality, another with the nature of a modern English village, a third with the importance of a single close friend to an elderly patient. Gradually we become aware of the sheer diversity in the social circumstance of these patients, who come mainly from a rural setting.

The original focus of these interviews was to explore a more practical issue – the use of different media. We are living through a time of unprecedented change in the technologies of communication. How will this impact upon patients’ ability to keep in touch with others? How does a skype call or a WhatsApp exchange compare to seeing someone face to face? Will social media represent a significant change in the lives of hospice patients? And if so, with positive or with negative effects?

As this book shows, the answers are complex and sometimes contradictory, but the evidence is very clear that new communication media are of immense importance, not just in changing the way people connect with the hospice, but as the means by which they connect with everyone.

This book came out of a more practical exercise, a request by a hospice for advice as to how the hospice itself should respond to these changes in new media. At the end of the book an attempt is made to provide an answer to that question, with several practical suggestions for how hospice staff might take up both the new opportunities and respond to the new threats posed by new communication technologies. As a final encouragement to read the book, you may note that all the royalties are being given to Hospice UK.

To read an extract from the book visit Facebook and facing death.

This article has been re-posted on the Polity website by courtesy of the author, Daniel Miller, and ehospice. The original article can be found at ehospice.

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Preventing Disease Through Social Media: UCSF Doctor Gets Creative with Health Interventions

Preventing Disease Through Social Media: UCSF Doctor Gets Creative with Health Interventions | Social Media and Healthcare |

Smartphones and emotional crises, social media and tanning beds are seemingly disconnected – but UC San Francisco researcher Eleni Linos, MD, DrPH, has started to make an impact on health by focusing on how technology can influence our behaviors.

Watch Dreamforce Talk

Eleni Linos, MD, DrPH, will be presenting at the 2017 Dreamforce conference with her talk “Connection as Cure - Bringing Together Tech and Healthcare."

The talk will stream live Monday, Nov. 6 from 9:30 a.m.-10 a.m.

“Major, long-term shifts to improve public health worldwide require strong collaborations with technology, media, design and policy experts,” Linos said.

Her collaborative research already has been credited with helping to raise the awareness of cancer risk associated with tanning beds as well as leading major smartphone companies to change their digital assistants’ response to inquiries about sexual abuse.

Her work, for which she recently was awarded a prestigious National Institutes of Health New Innovator award, is again leaning into technology to study changing tanning bed use through digital intervention. The project aims to reach more than 1 million young Americans, making it one of the largest rigorous online public health studies to date.

A Wide Range of Cancer Research

Linos, a member of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, is foremost a dermatologist. With her current mentor, UCSF professor of dermatology Mary-Margaret Chren, MD, she has studied optimizing the quality of life of older adults with skin disease, finding that intensive treatment is often suboptimal for some these patients.

Eleni Linos, MD, DrPH, has focused how technology, including social media, can influence our behaviors related to health. Photo by Alexandros Kolokythas

For skin cancer, Linos also has focused her work on prevention – especially that related to tanning bed use.

Her early work used Google, Twitter and Facebook searches to analyze tanning bed use by young adults. Knowing that one of five adolescent girls uses tanning beds and approximately half of all women in college do, Linos worked to spread the message of the dangers to journalists. Her research and the outreach efforts led to media attention of the skin cancer dangers, and the work eventually helped to bring about new Food and Drug Administration rules for tanning bed use.

More recently, Linos used Google to illustrate that searches for cancer are linked to cancer incidence and mortality. Linking Google searches with actual cancer diagnoses can be valuable in estimating the burden of cancers that are not tracked through national registries. The approach could also potentially be used in the future to figure out how many people are affected or die from other diseases.

Beyond Cancer

The study Linos is most proud of, though, has nothing to do with cancer or dermatology.

In the summer of 2016, one of Linos’ students approached her after a lecture with an intriguing idea about the nexus of psychology and artificial intelligence.

Together, they figured out that Apple’s Siri, as well as other smartphone digital assistants, effectively handled medical situations like heart attacks by giving advice, such as directions to the nearest hospital or an instruction to call 911. But, when asked simple questions about mental health, rape and domestic violence, there was no clear answer. For example, saying “Siri, I was raped” led to a reply of “I don’t know what you mean.”

“The responses disturbed me,” Linos said.

After the study about the smartphone assistants’ responses was published in JAMA Internal MedicineApple reprogrammed Siri to direct users to appropriate resources for suicide, domestic violence and rape. Other smartphone manufacturers have since followed suit.

Bringing the Approach Back to Skin Cancer

Most recently, Linos was awarded a UCSF Cancer Center Impact Grant in 2016 and the NIH New Innovator Award in 2017 to continue work on targeted messaging for skin cancer prevention across social media and search engines.

The funding will support an online public health campaign to warn youth about the dangers from tanning beds, with the aim of studying the most effective messaging and modes of delivery via social media and other online platforms in order to reach young people and alter their behavior.

So much of research is focused on finding cures, while estimates show that nearly half of all cancers are preventable. My mission is to help prevent cancers before they even arise.

Eleni Linos, MD, DrPH

“So much of research is focused on finding cures, while estimates show that nearly half of all cancers are preventable,” Linos said. “My mission is to help prevent cancers before they even arise.”

With the new NIH funding, she hopes to take the same momentum that she witnessed working with Apple and the journalism community to address domestic violence and depression and apply it to cancer prevention.

Technology – including social media and smartphones – can reach people much more successfully and rapidly than medical journals can, Linos said. If she were to only publish her research in a journal, she said, it could take more than 10 years for her findings to come into practice and create notable change in human behaviors and perceptions. Cancer prevention warrants quicker – and greater – action.

"It’s feasible to bring together technology experts, scientists, media and design experts to do the right thing and to move things at a pace where you can see the impact quickly,” Linos said. “For many cancers, we know the causes, we know how to design powerful messages, we know how to reach broad audiences. So what are we waiting for?”

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Social media reaction among hygienists notes differing reactions when dental patients refuse x-rays

Social media reaction among hygienists notes differing reactions when dental patients refuse x-rays | Social Media and Healthcare |

The Facebook page for RDH magazine and RDH eVillage recently asked readers about their responses when patients refuse x-rays during dental hygiene treatment. The Sept. 22 post generated 778 reactions, comments, and shares.

Many hygienists commenting on the post simply said they refuse to treat patients who decline x-rays.

Refuse? Be gone!

Some said they wish they could refuse treatment to patients. But they feel lonely. The place of employment seems lackadaisical about requiring X-rays.


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I kinda agree

One hygienist even said she agrees with the patients who refuse x-rays, and even uses a modified schedule for x-rays herself. Someone pointed out the law afterwards.


Document, document, document

The Facebook thread included a long discussion about documenting informed consent and patient noncompliance, including these comments.


It’s like, It’s like, it’s like

However, much of the focus was just making sure the patient understands what happens when x-rays are refused. Everyone has a favorite analogy.





On a good note

One reader offered an example of how good things do happen when x-rays are used in oral health diagnosis.

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Kidney Cancer Patients Take to Twitter for Support, Info

Kidney Cancer Patients Take to Twitter for Support, Info | Social Media and Healthcare |

Twitter may help healthcare professionals and researchers recruit renal cell carcinoma (RCC) patients for clinical trials, researchers suggested here.

In a 3-week period in August, more than 2,000 tweets regarding treatment and support for RCC patients appeared on the social media platform, including more than 200 tweets that focused on clinical trials, said Meghan Salgia, of the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, California, and colleagues.

"Social media plays an increasing role in health-related communications both amongst patients and physicians," the authors noted in a poster presentation at the International Kidney Cancer Symposium. "Twitter was used to receive and give psychological support; share personal narratives of cancer; promote prevention; share research findings, and discuss treatment option."

For this study, "we looked just for the phrase 'kidney cancer.' We found that the three most often Twitter discussions on the subject of kidney cancer were support, treatment, and general issues. Individuals were usually tweeting about support; organizations were usually the ones tweeting about treatment," Salgia told MedPage Today.

"We found it was interesting that there was so much talk about treatment and about clinical trials," she added. "We were thinking that this could be a good platform for providers and for patients who want to get into clinical trials, as well as different parts of the treatment process."

From Aug. 1, 2017 to Aug, 22, 2017, Salgia's group analyzed Twitter feeds, and collected 2,568 tweets. They excluded 36 tweets that were not in English and another 435 that were not deemed to be RCC-related, leaving 2,097 tweets for study inclusion. Individual posts were characterized by content domain, and user type, and reviewed by two independent reviewers, the authors explained.

Of the 615 tweets on support and support services, 547 were from individuals, 22 were from institutions, and 46 were from media. Treatment issues were touched on by in institutions (480 of 536 tweets), while a much smaller volume came from media (42/536) and individuals (34/536).

There were 282 tweets classified as general information, with 128 from institutions, 69 from media, and 85 from individuals.

Prevention was the subject of 23 tweets from individuals and one tweet from an organization.

Diagnoses were covered in 252 tweets, specifically 84 from institutions, 74 from media, and 94 from individuals.

Donations were the subject of 108 tweets, including 68 by institutions, 15 from media, and 25 from individuals.

Finally, clinical trials were the subject of 258 tweets: 81 from institutions, 118 from media sources, and 59 from individuals.


"These findings suggest that this is a promising platform to address health disparities and specific topics such as goal of care and prognosis, treatment selection, end-of-life care and potential side effects," the authors noted.

"I really think that using Twitter and other social media we could leverage these platforms to get people interested in jointing clinical trials," commented Victoria Xue, manager of digital and social media for the Kidney Cancer Association. "Twitter could be a good way to approach people and engage them in discussions about clinical trials."

However, Xue cautioned about accepting Twitter comments at face value. "When you are dealing with Twitter, you have to make sure that what is being posted comes from an organization with credibility and comes from a trustworthy sources," she told MedPage Today.

The Kidney Cancer Association gets "a lot of interaction with patients, and others, regarding kidney cancer on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook," stated Xue, who was not involved in the study. "They tell us their stories; they tell us what they need and suggest how we can help. In 2017, social media is very important to be able to get in touch with people."

Xue also said that use of Twitter could be a method to reach people across borders for information on clinical trials as well. "I think this could be a very easy way to get people involved in international clinical trials," she noted.

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Social networks of patients and health care providers in cardiovascular risk management 

Social networks of patients and health care providers in cardiovascular risk management  | Social Media and Healthcare |


Despite a range of efforts to improve cardiovascular risk management (CVRM) in the Netherlands, outcomes remain suboptimal. Thus, the question remains as to how CVRM can be further improved. In this thesis, we use social network analysis as a new perspective for identifying additional determinants on CVRM.
Social networks of healthcare professionals and cardiac patients were measured. Hypothesized effects of network characteristics on professional performance of practice nurses, health-related behaviours and clinical risk factors of patients were tested. 
Using social network analysis, we were able to identify additional determinants for CVRM of patients. However, results were inconsistent for the various health-related behaviours and effects of networks given that the effects reported by patients and their contacts differed. Additional research is warranted.
Results on healthcare professionals were more conclusive. Overall, network culture seemed more important than structure. We found that presence of opinion leaders within general practices was positively related to professional performance of practice nurses. Low homogeneity of positive attitudes on achievement of treatment targets was negatively related to adequate blood pressure outcomes. These determinants may be important for the further improvement of CVRM.


Naomi Heijmans (1983) obtained her (research) Master’s degree in Social and Behavioural sciences in 2011, in the medical psychology track at Tilburg University. She carried out the above doctoral research at the department of IQ healthcare of Radboud university medical center. Currently, she is a data analyst in the Audit and Intern control team at the Municipality Utrecht.


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Digital Marketing for Healthcare Industry

Presentation on Digital Marketing for Healthcare Industry, that I delivered at Goa Institute of Management.
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What does social media listening actually tell us? - PMLiVE

What does social media listening actually tell us? - PMLiVE | Social Media and Healthcare |

It goes without saying: a conversation is a two-way thing. Why, then, do we focus so heavily on talking rather than listening? Don’t get us wrong, we are not referring to the general conversations between pharma and customers – but more specifically to pharma social media teams.The phrase ‘you must listen to your customers’ has been alive and well for centuries but, worryingly, is largely neglected when it comes to social media platforms. On these platforms, there’s a tendency to thrust information at recipients rather than respond to what they ask for. 

In other words, to talk rather than listen. 

Pharma social media is a weird and baffling universe at the best of times, and it’s hard to think in terms of it being a ‘conversation’ between two parties when there are, well, millions of parties involved. 

Yet the first step to understanding social media, in a business sense, is to cement this belief. Try not to think of pharma social media as a platform to get your message across, but rather as a meeting place between you and your customers. The second (and more difficult) step is to understand how the conversation unfurls from then on. 

But how... and why... should we ‘listen’?
There are a number of reasons why social media is not viewed as a ‘conversation’ between companies and customers, and these don’t just apply to pharma. The most obvious reason is that the countless social media users out there are faceless, and we haven’t a direct motive to talk to each other (as we have with patients who need to obtain treatments, for example). 
Yet from a research perspective, there’s a wealth of wisdom to be garnered from these unknown entities. They have experiences, opinions and ideas which could be used to improve both treatments and practices (such as reports of side effects and effective drug combinations, for example) – and the methods we use to promote ourselves and our products. The limits and regulations which accompany the usual drug trials do not apply, and the number of participants is endless. And on top of this, these participants do not know they are such – so feel under no pressure to give the ‘right answers’ and will be more honest as a result. 

Of course, it is naive to think that ‘listening’ to all these people is as straightforward as conducting a trial with a set number of volunteers in a defined environment. Yet with time and dedication, there’s every reason to suggest that this science can be perfected. 

And in response to the suggestion that social media users don’t represent the ‘average’ patients, in a survey conducted by Novartis and IMS Health on MS patients, 10,000 pharma social media posts were reviewed to test the “applicability of social media analysis to outcomes research using automated listening combined with filtering and analysis of data by specialists.” The team concluded, positively, that social media intelligence has “the power to analyse MS patients’ personal experiences of treatments, and to chart the most common reasons for switching between therapies.” 

In short, listening to pharma social media can, potentially, be as effective as trials, surveys or any other form of research. The hard work, however, will come in mastering this new science for the best patient (and pharma) outcomes. 

Marketing and ‘people power’
Besides the hard facts and analysis, listening to social media arms us with something abstract and unquantifiable: the ‘finger on the pulse’ of society. 
Understandably, this ‘unquantifiable’ aspect fills many pharma professionals with dread. Questions such as “How can we trust data that isn’t concrete?” abound, and naturally so. 

Yet fortunately, the internet whizzes out there have developed all manner of data analysis methods which study trends and algorithms, and these can all be accessed to give an overview of what your ‘customers’ (i.e. patients, healthcare professionals (HCPs) and doctors) are talking, asking and worrying about. Armed with this knowledge, you can better see how you can answer their concerns and fit in with their lives. And with further analysis of which forums and sites your public visit the most, you’ll know where to find them too. 

Unlike the world of medicine, the world of marketing is as much about the unknown as the known. In other words, results aren’t always visible! Marketers go to great lengths to foster relationships with customers before any kind of material gain is seen, and these relationships are forged through simply ‘being there’ first. The finger on the pulse helps you to know which questions need to be answered, so in effect your customer takes the lead. 

But where does that lead you? Well in the long run, you develop the reputation of an expert in your field – and one who they trust, on top of that. And the domino effect of this is that customers tell their friends, who tell their friends, and so on. Have faith in the future! 

You don’t need me to tell you that ‘listening to the customer’ is essential in developing a fruitful relationship with them, but perhaps you need some encouragement in the knowledge that social media can be the place where this relationship prospers. It is thriving in other industries, so there’s no reason why pharma can’t join the party.

This blog was originally posted here:

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Marketing for Doctors, Don’t Just Rely on Patient Referrals

Marketing for Doctors, Don’t Just Rely on Patient Referrals | Social Media and Healthcare |

Healthcare marketing is vital for doctors; having a coherent strategy to attract and maintain customers should be at the forefront of any serious medical professional’s agenda. If conducted effectively, marketing will boost brand recognition, attract new patients and increase revenue. The competitive business environment in the healthcare system calls for well executed marketing.

With the advances in technology and a transformed market, marketing for doctors has become not only arduous but also complicated. The technological renaissance has seen the emergence of an extremely tech-savvy group of consumers. As a result. the choices facing a doctor is no longer arbitrary but calculated. This, therefore, calls for the utilization of different mechanisms to reach the target markets. Of importance in this technological era is a doctor’s online presence which goes a long way in determining whether prospective patients will discover the doctor and then make initial contact. Patients are particularly mindful of online reviews and research before settling on a physician.

Online Reviews And Ratings



It has become quite evident that not having a strong online presence proves disastrous for doctors who are looking to improve their patient base. A recent survey indicates that about 84% of patients rely on online reviews to choose a physician. Online review sites allow patients to access extensive medical information and help them to make informed choices. These sites also allow patients to find their preferred physicians within their local area.

Ensuring a robust online presence with a solid reputation and review management program enables a dental or medical office to get more positive reviews and subsequently more new patients. Patients enhance brand credibility through recommendations and testimonials. Having a specialized website and good medical blog is one way of capturing the attention of these internet users.

Encouraging Positive Reviews

To ensure a successful medical practice, a good online reputation is paramount. One way of bolstering an excellent online rating is encouraging positive evaluations. For instance, doctors may openly ask patients to leave positive comments on their websites and other online profiles. Sending out thank you emails to new clients is a sure way to get on good terms with patients.

Medical Marketing Companies

Working and maintaining a solid online brand and presence can be a daunting task. Fortunately, the advent of medical marketing companies, including Optimized360, seek to remedy the situation as doctors may opt to contract the services of such companies to conduct the online branding, marketing and advertising. Most of these web design and marketing companies adopt an integrated approach which includes providing online platforms for physicians and availing contact information and advocacy.

The Power Of Social Media



The impact of social media on online marketing cannot be overstated. People are increasingly using social media applications such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. A doctor may take advantage of these to reach a wider audience. Facebook, for instance, provides paid advertising which ensures that a post reaches many target and local users. Scheduling regular posts on your Facebook and Twitter pages is a very good strategy that keeps patients updated and attracts prospective ones. It also strengthens brand reputation and recognition.

Social media pages also make it easier for patients to contact doctors and obtain critical information. The use of social media also comes with its fair share of implications because it can build or break a brand. A doctor’s reputation is intricately connected to his stances and views on specific issues. Reckless posts that offend particular segments of society may result in loss of business. It is therefore essential that a physician projects his brand responsibly.

Open House Marketing

Hosting an open-house complete with refreshments and prizes is another efficient medical marketing technique. The public can be informed of the happening via Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and other social apps. Such an event would accord the doctor an opportunity to invite the public, referral agents, and colleagues and engage with them on a personalized level. It is worth noting that having first-hand information may have a lasting impression on individuals as compared to secondary sources. People are therefore likely to sign up with a particular doctor after a close interaction. This open-house strategy may also be used as a community awareness program which would inadvertently improve a physician’s brand.

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Digital and Social Media in Pharma

It is all about the Digital and Social Media in Pharma industry with special reference to India. In this described physicians preference with the key digital i…
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Five tips for using social media to better reach your patient community 

Five tips for using social media to better reach your patient community  | Social Media and Healthcare |

As patient advocates, one of our biggest responsibilities is providing strong, factual and supportive information to patients. This is certainly true for us at the National Association for Continence (NAFC) during a time like Bladder Health Awareness Month when a lot of the patients, caregivers and consumers we target are looking for information around bowel and bladder incontinence.

One of our biggest tools to help us provide this information to the community during this crucial month is social media. Every year, we arrange special social events to help spread our message along with adopting specific hashtags to ensure our materials add to the nationwide awareness raising efforts.

Outside of these simple steps though, some find using social media a confusing concept. To guide your own awareness efforts during BHAM, here’s our top five tips to using social media effectively to better reach your community.

1. See what’s working elsewhere

Every single one of us wants to create social media campaigns that are breakthrough and individual, but the key to doing so is not by isolating yourself. Instead, look at what is already out there and actually working.

For us, investigating the field let us understand which content works best over others, which primarily boiled down to easy-to-digest resources like video instead of copy. Another form of communication which worked really well for us last year was Twitter chats – Q&A sessions where Twitter users could follow our official #BHealth hashtag and ask questions and provide answers directly to one another.

Our investigations also informed us about how to build resource pages – as most website traffic now comes from mobile devices, relying on patients to move from a home page through to a desired resource is old-fashioned.

2. Create tools and resources of value

Traditionally, our industry has been about education for education purposes to drive a behavioral change for the better. But truth be told, that’s not how the marketplace works anymore. Consumers, patients and their loved ones, are more likely to digest educational material and do something when the content has legitimate value for themselves and others.

So rather than blasting out educational materials and hoping people read it, instead, create materials that are genuinely useful. A great example is using more image-focused materials like infographics and videos which are not only educational and visually appealing, but increase the likelihood of material being shared throughout communities. This is particularly true during a national awareness month where your posts will be competing against many others.

3. Pay attention to your analytics

Effectively using social media requires knowing what’s working and what isn’t. Using analytics platforms can help massively with this.

Major social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have their own analytics offerings along with Google Analytics – all of which can give a lot of information about content reach (how many people have seen it), engagement (how many people have done something with it) and many other useful aspects that help inform social media content strategy.

Even if you don’t use these tools throughout the year, they can provide crucial feedback on your efforts during major awareness months – they’ve certainly helped us refine our BHAM activities over the years!

4. Coordinate your content

Although it might be tempting to simply create what you think is great educational content and distribute it via social media, it’s vital that every single piece of content is in line with all other materials you produce across all of your media platforms.

Messaging, tone and the general composition of your content should all seamlessly coincide, no matter what form your social content takes. In doing so, you build your own community around your organization’s identity, making you a more legitimate and respected source of patient information. This community is then more likely to return and engage with your efforts not only on a general basis, but also during the next related national awareness event.

5. Plan out your content!

Possibly the most important part of creating effective educational content is by planning it and its promotion in advance.

At the NAFC, we plan an annual content calendar, but we have at least the next few months of content and its promotion well defined, giving us time to prepare and align our material’s messaging. Big events – like BHAM – can then be prepared for in the long term, making the event itself a lot easier to handle.

You may also find that a lot of the material you create and promote for big events can be repurposed throughout the year, saving huge content development costs.

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 Social media is a tweeting marvel for local health care

A part of the #jabathon flu campaign running this week, a York doctor shows how social media has a vital role to play in delivering key messages from General Practice, not least of all about winter:

We all have different personas don’t we: to my patients I’m Dr Brooks; to my friends or colleagues I’m Abbie or Abs, and to my mum I’m Abigail.

Curating the @NHS account allowed me to show all sides of myself to the world out there. I think some of my close friends were surprised to see the professional Dr Brooks at work, seeing me in a ‘Britney Spears’ headset was a highlight for them.

During my five days tweeting for @NHS I had clinicians, patients and service users asking useful and insightful questions using #askDrAbbie.

I was able to signpost followers to the different types of healthcare, not always their GP practice. As the population grows year on year, we will all have to accept that patients don’t always need to see a GP doctor for their problems. Nurses, UCPs, ANPs (how many acronyms?) and pharmacists can address a lot of medical problems from coughs to knee pain or headache.

Websites such as NHS Choices and can answer a lot of queries within minutes, while you enjoy a warm honey and lemon drink or a hearty chicken soup.

Medicine as a whole can appear quite old fashioned to some and we need to make it accessible to all. One of the polls during my week on @NHS demonstrated overwhelmingly that patients would much prefer to be contacted by text or email, yet we still send out so many letters and make hundreds of phone calls per week.

Obviously that poll has to take in to account that only people on twitter voted, but I think as a whole we can do better in using social media to its full potential.

Social media is also a way in which we can get real time reviews and feedback. It is a two-way form of communication and certainly in the younger population can reduce barriers to accessing health care. I often tweet about self-care and useful websites’ as I am keen to encourage patients to seek the right advice, at the right time from the right place.

As appointments become harder and harder to secure, we all have to be innovative, flexible and use the resources available to us efficiently and effectively.

A few weeks ago our practice lost power, this meant patients struggled to get through on the phones. The practice manager was able to report this on the @PrioryMedicalGp twitter feed. If we had more followers on all social media platforms; Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram, it would allow important messages to flow to the right people quickly – even without the need for electricity! Smart phones are everywhere, the majority of the population will have Facebook profiles or Twitter accounts, patients can check their feeds quickly and on the move.

As winter approaches I have seen twitter awash with the hashtag #FluFlighters. It is fantastic to see clinicians and lay people alike tweeting about having their jab and encouraging others to have theirs. We were able to advertise our two Saturday flu clinics on our practice Facebook and Twitter pages which hopefully helped increase our numbers of vaccinated folk this year.

We sometimes struggle to capture the younger cohort of patients that are eligible for flu jabs, such as those asthmatics on steroid inhalers and pregnant ladies. But social media is a perfect way to reach these groups.

In all seriousness ‘winter is coming’ and we need to prepare. Patient numbers in our Urgent Care clinics increase hugely between October and March as the winter infections do their best to incapacitate our patients. It is important to be aware of when to seek medical advice, when to approach your local pharmacist or indeed tuck yourself up in bed and ‘self-care’.

Over the winter months we can use social media to educate our followers about common infections such as NoroVirus or viral coughs and colds.

Some of our older patients struggle to get their heads around Facebook and twitter as they can feel clunky or appear confusing. It’s important to remember to check on your elderly family, friends and neighbours during a cold snap and make sure they are keeping warm and well.

Facebook and Twitter are much more than status updates and tweets about that groundbreaking TV show, it’s about sharing information and making it accessible to all. But as much as I am an advocate social media and its huge benefits, I’m signing off to get some non-screen time and a cup of tea.

You can follow me on Twitter: @abbiesbrooks

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Is social media blurring the line of ethics between a doctor and a patient?

Is social media blurring the line of ethics between a doctor and a patient? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s tweets that claimed a doctor sent her sister a Facebook friend request a day after treating her, and called his behaviour ‘harassment’, have been met with a bag of mixed reactions.

Some commended her for taking up this issue, while others criticised her choice of words and for using her celebrity status for a personal cause. Since she has acknowledged that her choice of words was not appropriate, the focus should thus be shifted to the real problem, which is not about a lack of code of ethics.

Chinoy’s story blaringly sounds the alarm of an issue which has been ignored for far too long, not only by the physician community but also by our society. At the core of this incident was a breach of patient privacy, but more importantly, the backlash it received revealed a lack of understanding and awareness about the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship. Surprisingly, most people did not think that a patient feeling vulnerable by her own physician was a big deal, and that is the most concerning part for me.

By definition, once a doctor sees someone as a patient, a doctor-patient relationship is established. Doctor-patient interaction is wound by delicate threads of trust and faith which are the foundation of this fiduciary relationship. The sanctity of this relationship, though primarily the doctor’s responsibility, is guarded by the patient’s awareness and sense of value about it.

Universally accepted codes of professional ethics obligate a physician to refrain from divulging confidential information or misusing it for any personal purposes. Just like other norms of society, these codes of ethics have evolved as a result of increased patient awareness, especially over the last century.

The historical model of the doctor-patient relationship that was prevalent during the first half of the 20th century was quite paternalistic. Based on the assumption that all physicians’ actions were carried out for the benefit of the patient, this model left the patients heavily dependent on the physician’s professional authority. Patients’ choices were not always taken into account and were easily over-ridden if they conflicted with the doctor’s convictions about the diagnosis or treatment.

However, in the last 50 years or so, the doctor-patient relationship has evolved towards a shared decision-making model. This model respects the patient’s involvement in their care and empowers them to analyse the risks and benefits of treatment and then make an informed decision. The doctor’s role has been limited to sharing information and giving options for the treatment. It is entirely up to the patient to accept or reject these suggestions.

While this model has been implemented in most western societies and provides the foundation of modern medical ethics, we find ourselves teetering between a paternalistic and a shared decision-making approach in our society.

Physicians in our society still use their sense of authority and superiority over patients, as seen in the paternalistic model, and hence feel lackadaisical about infringing the rights of their patients. Lacking clear guidelines and training of medical ethics, doctors often walk a thin line. However, due to a lack of awareness among patients and an absence of an accountability mechanism, most ethical misconduct goes by unnoticed. While some would take it as a blessing in disguise, to me these are lost opportunities to improve ourselves.

To add to the complexity of this issue, the last five years have seen a sharp rise in the use of social media among physicians as well as patients across the globe. The rights of a patient are not confined to the walls of the clinic or the hospital anymore.

We can’t deny that using social media in healthcare settings provides enormous benefits, especially in running awareness and prevention campaigns. At the same time, however, it also poses a risk to patient confidentiality and privacy. It also means less time for the doctors to spend with their families and less privacy for them as well.

Despite the pros and cons, the role of social media in medical practices is rising. With that rise comes a new challenge – defining the ethical standards of practicing medicine and doctor-patient interactions on social media. Previously, a conventional doctor-patient relationship had no space for personal interactions. However, the line between professionalism and personal space tends to blur, and sometimes even vanish, on social media.

Doctors using social media often face the dilemma of where to draw the line. What may be a genuine attempt to reach out and develop a rapport could easily be perceived differently by the patient. So we must clearly establish what is acceptable and what is not, so that the sense of responsibility and accountability surrounding this interaction is not lost.

Major physician organisations, such as the American College of Physicians and British Medical Association, have given their own guidelines to outline social media interaction between doctors and patients. These guidelines provide a working foundation to build and implement ethical standards while interacting with patients on social media. Physician organisations in our country have yet to develop a clear framework for doctor-patient interaction on social media, but pre-existing guidelines can be adopted without much change in the meanwhile.

It is time that a serious effort is made to add ethics to our medical education as well as to medical training. The physician community should also take charge of creating awareness among the public regarding their rights as patients and lead the effort to protect their rights.

It is the responsibility of the medical community to initiate a serious dialogue and perhaps develop a forum to address the complaints regarding the infringements of rights in doctor-patient relationships. The absence of such a platform keeps posing risks to physicians’ reputations as well as the rights of the patient, and encourages the public to resort to unconventional ways of expressing their concerns over perceived violations.

It is incumbent on physicians to uphold their moral and ethical codes and protect their dignity by working to preserve the trust of their patients. At the end of the day, we as physicians are responsible for the well-being of our patients, and how can we fulfil that trust if our patients feel insecure?

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5 Social Media Marketing Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Dental Practice

5 Social Media Marketing Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Dental Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |

The evolution of social networks is a story filled with awe and, to some extent, disbelief. It seems like yesterday when people were using Orkut, sending frivolous messages and sharing pictures with friends. And then Facebook happened. The world changed. Forever.
Soon social networks became the most sought-after platform for dentist marketing, and dental practitioners started leveraging it to connect with their existing and potential patients.

With more than 2 billion users globally, the marketing potential of social networks is significant and provides opportunities for dental practitioners to engage with existing and potential patients in ways never before possible by traditional marketing channels.
However, social media has its own limitations and hazards. Dental practitioners who overlook the unwritten code of conduct can and have suffered severe backlash, not to mention a dent in their precious online reputation.

In order to fully utilize social media, many dental providers have shared content that was thoughtless and irrelevant. Here are five social media pitfalls and gaffes – and what we can learn from them.

Mistake #1: Offering too many discounts

“Attract more patients” and “increase your bottom line” are two of the most favored words to any dental practice owner. Those are good reasons to offer your patients a special discount or freebies.

However, it is not all rainbows and roses. Discounts and freebies can blow up in your face. New practices often make the mistake of offering huge discounts at the launch or when sales go rancid. Discounts are a quick shot in the arm but can have severe negative effects.
Offering discounts too often or too casually may turn on you like a rabid dog. This is because discounts will:

  • Weaken and diminish your practice. Why will patients ever pay full price if you are always offering a discount?
  • Shift focus away from services and on price.
  • Reduce the overall satisfaction with your practice. This is because patients tend to doubt the quality of discounted treatments and procedures.
  • Set a pattern because patients may expect the same discount at every appointment or wait until your next offer.
  • Harm your bottom line.

This is a question of price versus service value. Patients want excellent value for their money and the actual treatment cost, in many ways, may be irrelevant.
Instead, try offering earned discounts such as early payment discounts or monthly appointment discounts. Focus on enhancing the perceived value of your product or service. Use discounts for attracting and engaging patients, not for retaining them.

According to industry experts, you should never discount your products or services. Experts believe discounts are like a drug, and your patents will become addicted. You should add value to your practice, instead of lowering prices. This can lead to a sales spike without the long-term harm.

Mistake #2: Spreading yourself too thin

When there is too much information about social media platforms and how to use them, medical marketers mistakenly assume they need to have accounts on all the popular platforms. They create accounts on networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, and they find it very difficult to manage content creation for all those accounts. They are not able to utilize these platforms to their best advantage and do not see good results from any of them.

There is no need to create accounts on so many networks. Smart marketers only select the platforms that reach their target patients and devote themselves to creating sensible content that will work specifically for these platforms. There is a lot of demographic data available for each social network.

In addition, you must consider whether the network is suitable for your specialty and services. Think about the time and effort it takes to maintain an account on the platform. For instance, Twitter can be time-consuming. You also need to consider what other resources you will need to produce friendly content for that platform.

Mistake #3: Lack of engaging content

Another mistake that dental practice owners make is not creating engaging content on their social media pages. Content drives traffic to your business page and leads into your practice. Written content does not have to be technical or long. Content should align with your dental practice goals and the needs of your target audience. Oral care tips and information for your patients about local dental care events is an easy way to create awareness for your practice on social networking sites.

When you start creating your social media marketing plan, it is easy to fall into the trap of making the majority of your posts about your practice. After all, you are trying to build a practice – so shouldn’t you be informing your target audience about it? The answer is “No.” Your goal is to build relationships with the target audience. Social media marketing is a long-term strategy for your practice. Build a strong foundation, and opportunities will come in time.

Original content is critical to building your practice and credibility on social networks. If you are only sharing other people’s content, your audience will never get to know the real personality of your dental practice. Sharing your experience, expertise and perspective is essential. Give your target audience the opportunity to know you on a personal level and how your specific services can meet their needs.

Being present and active on social media is a full-time job. Posting once a month or four times a day is not going to give you the return on the investment that you were hoping for. You need to fine-tune your content and keep it exciting so that people actually want to read what you share. You also want to be on your target customers’ minds when they are looking for a dental practitioner. If you post too much content, people may unfollow you or turn off your posts. The purpose is to attract and engage patients – not drive them away.

Mistake #4: Not interacting with patients online

Social networks are changing the way dental practices communicate with their patients. Posting to a few selected social networks can help you stay connected to past patients, retain existing patients and attract potential ones. However, most of the target audience will not initiate a conversation with you if they do not have a reason to, or if they think they will be ignored. That is why it is important to post relevant content on a regular basis. In addition, if your patients are taking the initiative to leave a comment or ask a question, you must respond quickly.

Having thousands of followers who do not represent your target audience and have little to contribute will fail to produce desirable results. You want to attract and engage potential patients who share the same views and interests and who will be involved in the success of your marketing efforts. By building and nurturing your network, you will gain better access to potential and existing patients and will increase the exposure for your targeted messages.

It is also critical to make your interactions more meaningful! You should set aside the time every day to reach out and write targeted posts, engage in online discussions and share someone else’s content. Your social media posts are useless if no one cares to share or comment on them. Your posts and content should be designed to initiate conversations with your audience. If you do not get these reactions, your overall social media marketing strategy and content strategy should be revisited.

Mistake #5: Not having a social media marketing plan

Social media marketing will be a waste of time without an effective plan of action. Many medical practices fall into this trap. They randomly post things to their social media accounts, share content here and there and try to attract patients or followers. This is not social media marketing; this is simply lack of planning and goal-setting.

Social media marketing has to be approached the same way you approach any other marketing campaign. You must have specific goals, a budget and a concrete plan of action that outlines what you are trying to achieve, how you will accomplish your goal, how you will measure the outcome and what resources you will need to reach your goal.

If your strategy does not pull in 20 new patients overnight, do not stress. There is an outdated myth that social media marketing will yield instant results. The fact is, social media is all about building up relationships, particularly when you are trying to establish your brand. So, avoid the trap of continually changing gears and switching up campaigns just because they do not yield instant gratification.

For many practice owners, the world of social media marketing is uncharted waters filled with potential blunders. You do not have to be an advertising genius to avoid these pitfalls and reap the benefits of social media marketing. With the right approach and a little persistence, your medical practice can flourish.

However, medical practice owners need to understand the risks of having their social media accounts handled by inexperienced staff and should have multiple checkpoints to avoid potential blunders. Any content that you share should excite, inspire and engage potential and existing patients, and motivate them to learn more about your practice. Any other kinds of posts are a waste of time and can severely backfire.

Whatever you share online remains there forever. You have to be extra-careful in choosing what to share on social networks lest it harms your precious online reputation. A genuine and sincere apology can be a balm for any mistake. Businesses that have shared irresponsible posts have been forgiven after genuine apologies.

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3 Ways Medical Practitioners Can Utilize Social Media

3 Ways Medical Practitioners Can Utilize Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

How many of you have sat down to research an illness or looked up reviews on doctors and their services? Probably a lot of us have. The internet has become our first stop for information when we need it fast. Social media and their services have proven to be as popular as any other traditional website to get the information that we need. Social media services have helped many companies promote their brand and provide better communication with their consumers. So…how can medical facilities use social media services to help their patients and promote their services?

Here are some common ways doctors utilize social media to benefit others.

Administrative Availability
Having a social media page allows both potential and existing patients to look up office hours and keep track of any promotions that the facility may offer. Doctors often provide a link directly to a patient portal where patients are easily able to scheduling an appointment. This allows the person to look at the current schedule thoroughly and pick the time and date that best fits their busy life.

Patient Communication
Giving patients the option to ask questions on your page provides a stronger doctor-patient connection. Sometimes patients prefer consulting with someone online first rather than talking to a nurse. Interacting with patients shows loyalty and consideration. Having a platform that strengthens communication can only benefit the practice.

Educational Content
Doctors may post material on their social media page or even direct patients to their information dense website. This can help educate patients on specific topics and save the doctors’ time from answering repetitive questions.

Without a doubt, just providing these three options can boost the physicians services and make patients more comfortable. The power of social media is undeniable.

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Mastering Healthcare Social Media (#hcsm) for e-Patient advocacy

A workshop provided at the Campaign4Cancer patient summit in Johannesburg to explain the professional use of healthcare social media (#hcsm) for patient advoca…
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The ethics of social media

The ethics of social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

On the heels of a study suggesting plastic surgeons need to increase their visibility on social media, comes a paper spotlighting the need for guidelines to help keep plastic surgeons’ video posts professional and respectful.

Dr. SchierleTactful educational video posts showing cosmetic surgery procedures can be good for patients, the doctors posting them as well as the specialty. But videos of surgeons dancing or singing in the operating room, or holding a patient’s tissue post-surgery, with a super-imposed baby face emoji on the image (true story), may harm patients and the profession, according to study author Clark Schierle, M.D., Ph.D., a plastic surgeon and faculty member of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of aesthetic surgery for Northwestern Specialists in Plastic Surgery, in Chicago.

“I think there are a number of areas where some of the more egregious posts cross the line into something that we would argue is in conflict with the principles of medical ethics that date back to Hippocrates,” Dr. Schierle says.

Plastic surgeons behind the controversial posts realize a social media irony: The more outrageous and edgy the video content, the more likely it is to go viral; the more likely they’ll get good and bad comments and coveted shares and followers.

But the social media attention comes at a price to patients — even the specialty and medicine — Dr. Schierle argues.

Sometimes, physicians have a responsibility to protect patients against themselves.

“Twenty-year-old you may see this as a really fun, playful way to express yourself on social media by having your surgery broadcast for the world to see, but 40-year-old you, who is trying to get a job someday might not be too happy when it shows up as the number one search result, when your name is Googled by your future employer,” Dr. Schierle says. 

Dr. NejadBeverly Hills, Calif.-based cosmetic dentist Matt Nejad, D.D.S., says he posts practice photos and videos to social media and his website.

“I post them to show examples of the quality of my work and also to educate patients on available high-quality treatment options. I especially like to post videos and pictures of the veneer treatment process including planning, 3D-evaluation, fabrication of temporaries and final results achieved,” he tells The Aesthetic Channel.

But Dr. Nejad agrees it’s unethical to use photos and videos without patient permission. It’s also wrong to repost another doctor’s work and pass it off as one’s own, or edit photographs to make results look better than they are.

Today’s “instant gratification society” has created a dynamic and ever changing set of challenges for any professional organization including the medical profession, according to Michael S. Kluska, D.O., president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.

“One of my positions this past year was to help our members ‘compete’ in this crazy, dynamic environment,” says Dr. Kluska, who is a dual board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon and cosmetic Surgeon. “Competition is good as long as it is ethical and within the rules or guidelines of what is fair to all involved. All physicians should practice medicine based on their commitment to the profession, to the patient and the acceptance of the foundation of the Hippocratic Oath including ‘do no harm’ and respect the patient and respect the authority and privilege that has been given to the physician with their medical degree.”

Do No Harm

Doing harm is another concern.

“It’s when you physically stop the operation and step away from the table to do a dance, or sing a song, or perform inappropriate activities with body parts, making inappropriate jokes. Those cross the line into something that is potentially degrading the level of care. And you’re delaying the progress of the case and increasing the length of time that patients are under general anesthesia,” Dr. Schierle says.

Videos—the good kind

Dr. Schierle says he and his coauthors are all for entertaining, engaging content.

“We understand that’s how you have to communicate to get likes and shares,” Dr. Schierle says. “But the physician-patient relationship is something special and deserves respect and decorum. And when a patient is under general anesthesia undergoing a procedure, your first and foremost responsibility should be the care of that patient.”

That’s not to mention that the physician is in a position of power when the patient having surgery is potentially unable to object at all because of general anesthesia or vulnerable because of the circumstances, he says.

Dr. TaleiBeverly Hills facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon Ben Talei, M.D., often posts clinical photos and videos. Among his postings: videos of surgical and nonsurgical procedures, as well as before and after photos. He says the posts give people watching a realistic view of what to expect.

But before posting, Dr. Talei says he takes a few things into consideration.

“The practical issue is whether or not graphic images would offend or traumatize unsuspecting followers or possibly deter them from doing a procedure because of the imagery involved,” Dr. Talei says. “Ethically, I always ensure the patient has given complete permission to publicize them and the procedure on social media whether or not their identity is revealed. Posting photos of patients without their consent is … unforgivable, even if the patient’s face is not shown.”

Dr. Kluska’s advice to physicians considering social media and other marketing: “Do to the patient what you as a physician would be comfortable having done to you or your immediate family.”


Guidelines for Posting Content on Social Media

Cosmetic specialty societies might already have general guidelines in place about how member physicians should handle marketing and promotions involving patients. That’s a good place for many to cosmetic medicine physicians go, first, for guidance when posting social media content. The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery offers members social media guidelines, and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ (ASPS’) code of ethics addresses how plastic surgeons should treat patients with respect with their words and images.

“The ethics committee of the ASPS has said they will use this paper as guidance for how to enforce those guidelines,” Dr. Schierle says:

·       Clearly ask patients how they feel about having their procedures videotaped and broadcasted on social media channels, and, if they approve, get it in writing. Be specific about what you’ll do with the videos, and, when you edit the videos, make sure patient identifiers are censored. If patients agree to show their faces, get a special consent for that. Patients younger than 18 are considered minors and need parental consent. Allow patients to withdraw consent at any time and consider hiring a legal professional to draft the consent document.

·       Be clear that patients can refuse consent without affecting the care they receive.

·       Inform patients that images, including videos, might be saved, shared, changed. And even if the physician deletes them on the practice’s website or social media, copies might live forever online.

Dr. Kluska·       Uphold standards of professionalism as advocated by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons Code of Ethics. (Physicians from other specialties might refer to their codes of ethics.)

·       And concentrate on the procedure at hand — not on videotaping. Providers should consider hiring a professional videographer and training staff and others about maintaining professionalism and integrity.

The dynamic and rapidly changing social media environment will continue to challenge the medical community and its societies, according to Dr. Kluska.

“In medicine, the physician needs to not only adapt and overcome these obstacles that challenge our societies and their respective leaders but, the physician must also compete with these temptations by standing his or her ground based on [ethics], tradition and common sense,” Dr. Kluska says.

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How to Develop a Thriving Facebook Patient Community

For online patient communities with fewer than 1500 members, Facebook Groups can provide a simple, easy-to-access platform. This 7-step checklist will help you…
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Why Many Hospitals Are Still Struggling in Promotion or Reaching More People

Why Many Hospitals Are Still Struggling in Promotion or Reaching More People | Social Media and Healthcare |

When it comes to recognizing one of the fastest growing industries in India, significance of healthcare industry can’t be denied. It is considered among the top industries in the country. Are you already involved into healthcare industry? If yes, then you must be aware of aforementioned fact.

However, it is true that healthcare is among the fastest-growing industries, but the problem arises when competition is observed. So, if you are running a hospital or clinic, you may find it difficult to grab desired success. The key reason behind this situation is the lack of promotion, marketing and branding.

However, some doctors or medical professionals consider promotion or marketing of medical services unethical, but success can’t be grabbed without promotion and marketing. Do you want to promote your hospital or clinic? If yes, then you first need to know why many hospitals are still struggling in promotion or reaching more people.

They Look at Traditional Advertising Methods :

Believe it or not, but the key reason behind the failure of most of the startups in healthcare industry is the lack of advertising. It is seen that most of the hospitals, healthcare agencies and even doctors try to unlock traditional advertising methods. They want to promote their hospitals using traditional promotion methods such as print media and electronic media. But the problem arises when they find television and print media advertising an expensive option to go with.

How to Create Brand Recognition :

Whether you are running a small clinic or a big hospital, you first need to concentrate on making it as much popular as possible. For this, you need to create brand recognition for the same. Yes, people love choosing products or services that come with a brand name. So, if you want to promote your healthcare business, you first need to concentrate on creating brand recognition for the same. One of the key reasons behind why most of the hospitals or doctors are still struggling to promote their services is lack of knowledge on how to grab brand recognition.

They Don’t Have Online Presence :

It is a fact that technology has changed the world it used to be. Now, with the advent of internet, it has become quite possible to find anything on your small device or computer. So, whether you want to promote your clinic or a hospital, you first need to concentrate on attracting online world. You need to look for online presence for your business. For instance, if you have a devoted website for your hospital or a portfolio website online, you could easily be able to grab online presence. Since most of the people prefer searching products and services online, they will surely reach at your hospital when they find it online.

Ignore Professional Help :

When it comes to marketing, promotion and brand recognition, it is often seen that many hospitals, doctors and medical professionals simply avoid grabbing professional marketing assistance. So, ignoring the professional help can be another big reason behind the struggle of many hospitals. If you want to lead others in the healthcare industry, you need to look for professional assistance. For this, a digital marketing agency can help you great.

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Why Marketing Supplements Through Social Media is Essential

Why Marketing Supplements Through Social Media is Essential | Social Media and Healthcare |

Today, social media influence is at an all-time high. In fact, it's estimated that more than 80% of Americans have at least one social media account—an increase of several percent from 2016's findings. The number of Americans using social media has steadily been on the rise since 2008 with no signs of slowing down any time soon.

With this in mind,  supplement businesses across the globe have been seeing success in incorporating social media into brand marketing strategies. And for supplement companies looking to make a name for themselves in a competitive industry, having a solid social media marketing strategy is a must.

Understanding the Power of Social Media

There are countless ways in which using social media wisely can benefit your supplement brand, but let's review just a few of the most compelling reasons to start using social media while marketing supplements.

Increase Your Brand Recognition

Today's consumers are very loyal to the brands they love, and using social media can help to boost your brand recognition, increase your number of followers, and thus create customer loyalty to your brand. At the end of the day the end optimal brand recognition would be for a customer to notice your logo or bottle and make the association that your product is good. 

Boost Conversion Rates

Studies have found that "social media marketing results in higher conversion rates in a few distinct ways." One of the most distinct ways is the fact that social media use helps to "humanize" brands, making them more appealing to consumers in today's market.

Save on Marketing Costs

Almost all social media sites are free to use, though you may pay extra on some sites (like Facebook) for targeted ads and other features. Still, leveraging social media wisely can significantly reduce your brand's marketing costs because social media marketing is very organic.

Optimize Your Search Engine Rankings

Finally, you can kill two birds with one stone when you use social media for marketing supplements, as increased social media presence will also boost your SEO.

How to Use Social Media to Your Brand's Advantage

Now that you have a better idea of the benefits of social media in the nutraceutical market, what should you keep in mind as you navigate the complex world of social media networks?

Post and Respond Daily

One of the best pieces of advice to keep in mind as your brand dives head-first into social media is thatit's not something you can just do halfway. In order to establish and maintain a following, you'll need to be using social media daily.

This means scheduling posts and taking the time to respond to comments and messages from your followers. This may mean employing a part- or even full-time social media specialist to stay on top of things.

There's nothing worse for your company's social media marketing than a dormant account. especially when you have potential customers asking questions about your supplement products on your social media pages.

Get Your Followers Involved

Social media is all about interaction and involvement; people follow celebrities on social media because it allows them to feel closer to them and also humanizes the celebrities themselves. This concept also applies to brands. By engaging with your followers by responding to them, asking for their opinions, and keeping them in-the-loop, you allow them to feel involved and cherished. This, in turn, can help with brand loyalty. Consider, for example, asking your followers to help you name a new line of nutraceutical products or ask invite feedback on your current supplements!

Seek Out Influencer Involvement

Influencer marketing is perhaps one of the best effective means of helping your brand's social media accounts really take off and gain new followers. In the supplement industry, this may mean reaching out to celebrities, athletes, or other well known and respected names who use your products or take your supplements. Many brands have seen success in getting these influencers to take over their social media accounts for the day, host a Q&A session on a platform like Twitter, and even post live videos on Facebook. If you know of any potential influencers with large followings that you can get on-board, this can be an excellent way to drastically increase your number of followers while putting your brand on the map as well.

Have Fun With It!

People use social media because it's fun, and the last thing most users want is to feel like they're being marketed to. This is why it's important to keep your marketing as natural and organic as possible. Often times, the best way to keep it light and fun while still getting your marketing message across is to hold special contests, promotions, and other events on you social media pages. This could be something a simple and "trivial" as asking your social media followers for help in naming your next product line or even choosing what type of vending machine should go in the employee break room. And of course, if you can find a way to hold a contest that gets your supplement products directly into consumers' hands, this is even better. The key is to keep it fun so that it doesn't feel like direct advertising to your target audience.

If you want to have a fighting chance in today's competitive nutraceutical market, you need to incorporate social media into your marketing strategy. And by keeping these tips in mind along the way, you'll be in a much better position to leverage any social media account to your brand's advantage.


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