Social Media and Healthcare
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Overcoming Social Media Anxiety in Healthcare Marketing

Overcoming Social Media Anxiety in Healthcare Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is an anxiety producing endeavor for drug manufactures and healthcare providers, which is why so few even bother to enter this space. However, recent studies indicate that social media is on the move as the industry learns to adapt to vague FDA regulations and discovers the true nature of social behavior.

It’s not even close

Social media is not an ideal platform for drug manufacturers and healthcare providers – it’s not even close. To begin with, the character count on Twitter – at 140 characters – is too slim to fully disclose a drugs benefits and side-effects in a way that will satisfy FDA regulations. While the FDA is somewhat behind the times on issuing policy on pharmaceutical brand ads, it’s 2014 decree indicated that the same basic rules of marketing should apply to social media, too – meaning drug benefits and risks must be clearly disclosed despite the micro-blogging constructs of social media.

Additionally, the social medium creates unregulated discussion that can be unpredictable, negative, misleading or reflect non-scientific conclusions by patients under care. Plus, you’re not wanting to be drawn into two-way conversations online that puts you in a doctor’s advisory role or at risk of violating patient privacy. This could tarnish or mischaracterize your brand. This is all simply to say that your social anxiety is justified.

Despite this, there is a growing number of healthcare providers are turning to social media. In fact, there are currently 334 brands on Twitter, 223 on Facebook, 149 on YouTube and 37 on LinkedIn. (Klick Health, 2017)

So why is social media usage among pharmaceutical and healthcare providers growing?

A recent study claims that 40% of consumers say information found on social media effects the way they deal with their health (Mediabistro). Furthermore, formulary decision-makers at hospitals, IDNs, PBMs, MCOs and ACOs spend as much as 3-hours per day using digital resources to inform their committee work. As for doctors, 60% say social media improves the quality of care delivered to patients. There is more impressive data here, but in terms of reaching an audience, social media’s growing power is undisputed.

They call it a social network for a reason

The feel the motives around social strategy have changed in recent years. There was an inclination to treat Twitter and Facebook as just another advertising publisher or platform, but that’s not the true spirit of social. Social is about sharing and reacting to information. It’s a place where we can participate in discussion. An effective solution is for a brand to associate their treatment with a cause through which a community can be built. For example, when Key Opinion Leader’s become advocates for a treatment instead of simply selling their drug benefits, the dialogue on social media evolves in a more meaningful and human way.

Brands need to build a community through published content and use social platforms to promote the content in paid and non-paid ways. If a social follower encounters a sponsored post about declining health in Alzheimer’s’ patients, they may move to take action in the cause. They may click the ad or post and join the community that the brand is building around a new efficacy or treatment. This may inspire online participation as a family member of someone stricken with Alzheimer’s, as a medical advocate, as a new customer or patient, or simply a recipient of research and thought leadership provided by the brand. This is particularly the case for doctors and formulary decision-makers wanting to educate themselves on prescribed treatments. In growing a community over time with published content and steady social promotion, drug benefits from the brand awareness and avoids the negative trappings that made social so prone to anxiety in the past.

Similarly, the FDA made its 2014 recommendation that social posts include a link taking the reader to additional information that can better advise on a drugs risk and benefits. The natural behavior here is to begin engagement on social, but move the conversation to a website or online journal via a link where long-format information can be shared.

Join the movement or get left behind

There are plenty reasons not to participate in social media, however the upside of cause-based marketing is far more compelling to not be involved. Here are some things you can do today to join the movement:

  • Create a cause around the cure, the disease, or the problem you are solving.
  • View social as a means to directing traffic to your website, online journal or community forum.
  • Integrate paid and non-paid posts in spreading your message. Your authentic brand voice matters and your customers want to hear from you.
  • Work with legal counsel to develop a social policy at your company. Be mindful of FDA regulations at all times.
  • Be a social listener on Twitter, Facebook, and on patient forums such as Learn about the things they care about and let them influence your cause.

Lori Goldberg is CEO of Silverlight Digital. 

Silverlight Digital is a New York-based digital media agency that adopts a consultative approach to helping healthcare and pharmaceutical brands reach their desired audience online. Working directly with brands and their agency counterparts, Silverlight leverages its programmatic and aggregate campaign data to make smart multi-channel buying decisions, while partnering with brand managers to successfully navigate FDA and legal review processes. As a Premiere Google and Bing Partner, Silverlight Digital receives tier one support from publishers and through direct site partnerships and hosts a popular healthcare client round table at Google’s New York offices each year. In 2017, Silverlight Digital was added to the exclusive Medical Marketing & Media list of top digital agencies.

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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. 

Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
Nice post
Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
#Formdox integrates perfectly with several #functionalities for the monitoring
cctopbuilders's comment, April 26, 6:01 AM
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Closing Pharma’s Digital Divide 

Closing Pharma’s Digital Divide  | Social Media and Healthcare |

By 2020, the US healthcare and pharma industries will spend upwards of $3 billion on digital advertising annually, according to projections by digital market researchers eMarketer. Their forecast represents a compound annual growth rate of more than 13% in pharma’s digital marketing spend since 2014. Steadily increasing spending doesn’t mean that digital marketing is getting any easier, however.

Even the most tech-connected pharma brand managers can still find it a challenge to navigate the complexities of regulation, patient privacy, and cross-channel promotions in the digital marketing space. And this year more than any other has provided proof positive that digital media’s upward trajectory is as vulnerable to real-world pressures as any marketing medium.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional mea culpa to the many failings of scandal-hit Facebook is only the best-reported reminder that it’s not all smooth running on the information superhighway.

New media darlings Buzzfeed and Vice Media both missed their 2017 revenue targets and laid people off. Mashable went from a $250 million valuation to a $50 million fire sale in less than six months. YouTube has had to bring back humans to manage content on its Kids video channel to protect children from obscene content that the algorithm thought was okay.

Never as heavily invested in digital as other industries, pharma marketers can perhaps breathe a little sigh of relief that they’re not all-in on digital. Enjoy the moment, then get back to figuring out how to make digital work for pharma brands.

Still need to catch up

If there wasn’t before, there’s clear evidence now that digital media and marketing is not perfect. But perfect or not, it continues to deliver unprecedented reach, growing engagement, and real potential for building long-term brand awareness.

eMarketer’s projections show that healthcare and pharma spend the least on digital advertising among the 10 industries measured. Retail is the biggest and will outspend healthcare and pharma by $20 billion in 2020 if eMarketer’s projections hold up.

Research by eConsultancy, in association with Adobe, similarly sees a sector playing catch-up on the digital transformation journey. But their “2017 Digital Trends in Healthcare and Pharma” report goes on to describe prospects for “exponential change,” as consumers show increasing interest and participation in their own healthcare. The report says drug companies will be forced to overcome the challenges posed by complex regulation and siloed organizational structures.

While eConsultancy’s research shows just 6% of companies ready to describe themselves as “digital first,” compared with 11% in other sectors, healthcare and pharma companies are increasingly aware of the opportunities. They are also getting ready to spend more: 71% said they were planning to increase their digital marketing spend last year compared to 60% in other industries.

Pharma futurists see a sector transformed by technology where pills alone are not enough. The US head of Takeda Digital Accelerator, Daniel J. Gandor, told eConsultancy, “It’s pills with companion apps, and coaching, diagnostics, and personalized medicine all wrapped into one.”

Research from global consulting firm Accenture estimates that digital health funding in the US will grow to $6.5 billion by 2017, with investment sustained by funding for digital health startups.

But French consulting rival CapGemini describes the pharma industry as a “digital beginner” in its “Digital Advantage” report. The reality is, the vast majority of pharma marketers will need to prioritize practical decisions about how to invest their digital budgets today rather than re-imagining the digital healthcare ecosystem for tomorrow.

Multichannel campaign management

A strengthening focus on the customer means that pharma marketers are increasingly having to work across multiple touchpoints. In eConsultancy’s 2017 digital trends report, multichannel campaign management was rated several points higher by pharma marketers than those in other industries—21% versus 16%.

Cross-device targeting driven by data analytics and programmatic advertising is not yet pharma’s strong point. 

Programmatic advertising—automated media buying that relies on algorithmic bidding—has grown exponentially over the last few years. Forecasts show programmatic buying in the US accounting for more than four of every five ad dollars spent by next year. 

Growth has come from the targeting possibilities programmatic ad buys allow marketers to specify, from geographies to detailed audience segments. Done right, it’s a dream come true for marketers in a highly regulated market like the life sciences. The problem is, it’s not easy for non-technical people to understand rapidly developing technology options or properly control ad placement. This explains estimates showing programmatic advertising accounts for less than 5% of digital ad spend in pharma.

Conversely, longer experience and direct control mean social media was noted as a budget priority for 63% of pharma respondents to eConsultancy’s digital trends survey. That compares with an average across other industries of 55%.

Social media maturity

Health communications agency Ogilvy Healthworld recently partnered with social data firm Pulsar to produce its fourth-annual “Social Check-up.” The report’s conclusion was that pharma’s use of social media has “matured” and companies are getting “more and more mileage” out of their efforts on social platforms. 

Findings are based on analysis of 11-month’s activity on global corporate social channels for 20 leading pharma companies. The data shows that the average number of weekly posts across most of the social channels monitored—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram—has decreased. The one exception is YouTube, which was up but on very limited activity.

This drop in post frequency is in direct contrast with significant increases in both community size and engagement across platforms at half of the top 20 companies. Top brand Novo Nordisk grew its engagement by 13%; Novartis by 77%; Johnson & Johnson by 111%; and Merck & Co./MSD by 122%. None of these brands posted the greatest amount of content.

The social team at Ogilvy Healthworld came to the conclusion that high-value content, possibly with paid amplification, was key to driving engagement.The definition of high-value content is varied, stretching from the drone footage of Bayer and Eli Lilly’s headquarters posted on their respective Instagram accounts, to associations with celebrity influencers.

Celebrities and pharma are not always an easy fit, but Ogilvy Healthworld highlights the spikes in engagement that came from partnerships with Novo Nordisk and Pakistani cricketer Wasim Akram for #ChangingDiabetes and Oprah Winfrey supporting J&J’s HIV vaccine announcement.

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Social Media and Professional Impact - Academic Physicians

I discuss the ways that Academic physicians can get value from Social Media to advance their professional career. My personal experience in developing a socia…
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Leveraging Social Media to Boost Online Reputation in Health Tourism

Leveraging Social Media to Boost Online Reputation in Health Tourism | Social Media and Healthcare |

In 2015, a London couple – Cillian Nemas, 60, and Robert Nemas, 67 were in search of centers of excellence for eye surgery in India. One challenge they met was the dearth of direct channels through which Indian hospitals could be assessed and evaluated for their quality and success rates of medical procedures.

The couple turned to the internet, tracking down several hospitals in Hyderabad until they found Maxivision Super-specialty Eye Hospitals as the perfect center to undergo an optiwave refractive analysis laser cataract surgery. Not only was the procedure successful, the couple saved an extra £4000 by having it done in India. Robert noted that the poor social media presence of many Indian hospitals reduced their visibility and in turn the number of international patients from the UK, for instance.

This emphasizes the value of social media to healthcare tourist destinations. Social media plays an integral role in brand marketing and online reputation building which, in turn, is critical to maintaining international clientele and patient volume.

Technology has begun to sweep through healthcare revolutionizing it as we know it. Patients are beginning to seek answers to their health questions on their mobile devices. Pew National survey of 2014 revealed that no fewer than 72 percent of Americans search online for health information and one of every four of them read about someone else’s experience with a similar condition they have.

In the past, online reputation never mattered to physicians and healthcare providers but given the recent paradigm shift created by digitalized healthcare, online reputation of these providers have become a priority.

Stakeholders in medical tourism are starting to employ the social media market to its full potential. Traditional means of brand marketing are giving way for tech-enhanced methods, using social media platforms to build strong online reputations to expand international patient reach.

Recent findings have revealed that international patient departments and healthcare providers are starting to see the benefits of building a strong online reputation by harnessing the opportunities on social media. This trend is expected to experience a huge rise as health tourism market becomes more competitive.

As individuals become more social media-friendly, they share their personal opinions about certain organizations, including healthcare providers, and medical travelers tend to rely on these anecdotes than details obtained from the social media pages of the provider or by contacting the provider.

Role of Social Media in Promoting Online Reputation

Social media can make or break the online reputation of a health tourist site. A poor review by a user would only leave a negative impression and a drop in interest for such a healthcare provider. Therefore, providers are required to maintain high standards of quality and professionalism if they must reap the benefits of the social media factor.

Dr. Kevin Pho, a leading social media voice and past speaker at the Medical Tourism Congress noted a few ways in which social media promotes healthcare providers and their online reputation, as well as healthcare delivery in general.

Improve Accessibility

This remains a crucial marketing element for stakeholders in the health tourism industry. Health tourist destinations are only as successful as their brand visibility and how accessible they are to patients.

Patients get to read tweets or Facebook posts, for instance, and get engaged by the health information posted. These platforms are strong influencers in the decision-making process of medical tourists. In the case of Robert and Cillian Nemas, visibility made the difference, setting Maxivision Eye Hospitals apart from the rest.

Proactive Online Brand and Reputation

Social media creates an avenue for external brand ambassadors – the customers – to communicate, in their words, what a provider’s brand stands for. Healthcare providers could engage patients for whom they have provided healthcare treatment in the past. Furthermore, social media provides an avenue for providers to display their areas of competences, innovations, contributions to health care, cutting-edge technological advances, and success stories.

Dr. Pho, in his speech, described the features of a proactive social media platform as one in which patient reviews and provider ranking are expressed and appropriate feedback is given to negative reviews to keep the provider’s online reputation intact.

Interaction with Patients

It isn’t unusual for patients to search online for information regarding symptoms, the kind of treatment required, as well as prevention for a number of common conditions. Healthcare providers can use social media platforms as an avenue to educate patients through articles, blog posts, and podcasts, thereby connecting with the patients on a personal and emotional level.

Additionally, providers can, via social media, provide patients with information regarding treatment best practices, updates on treatment protocols, and preventive measures against certain diseases. Some providers post live procedures on their social media pages to give viewers firsthand knowledge of the steps required in performing a surgical procedure.

This also serves as a learning model for medical students and other healthcare professionals who may improve their skills by watching such videos

Connecting with patients on this level creates a bond which not only serves a benefit of high patient volume to the provider but ensures that patients maintain a high quality of health in and out of the hospital.

Offer Perspectives on Breaking News

Healthcare reform, for instance, is a trending topic in the health sector and it affects employers, employees, and even retirees. Part of building a strong online reputation is providing useful perspectives to such news articles as it concerns the patient. Social media should serve as an avenue for dialogue and interactions on topical issues concerning health with these discussions centered on helping patients make informed choices concerning their health.

Another vital role of social media in health tourism is creating a bridge between medical tourists and the healthcare providers. International patient departments can create social media contacts through which prospective medical travelers can access details regarding treatment in the tourist destination. In addition, a well-trained customer service team, as the internal brand ambassadors, should be in place to respond to inquiries and give patients a good impression up front.

Social media is indeed one tool that, if tapped, would lead to an immense growth of the medical tourism industry. With the platform bringing patients and providers across different geographical locations in one place, it serves as a strong channel for creating a solid online reputation and expressing one’s brand to a largeaudience.

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Significant social media trends for 2018 for Pharma

Social Media is the most dynamic digital marketing channel that keeps evolving on macro and micro levels. Be it the advent of AR/VR or data security on Faceboo…
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Evaluation of Self-reported Patient Experiences: Insights from Digital Patient Communities in Psoriatic Arthritis

Evaluation of Self-reported Patient Experiences: Insights from Digital Patient Communities in Psoriatic Arthritis | Social Media and Healthcare |

Objective. To evaluate the types of experiences and treatment access challenges of patients with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) using self-reported online narratives.

Methods. English-language patient narratives reported between January 2010 and May 2016 were collected from 31 online sources (general health social networking sites, disease-focused patient forums, treatment reviews, general health forums, mainstream social media sites) for analysis of functional impairment and 40 online sources for assessment of barriers to treatment. Using natural language processing and manual curation, patient-reported experiences were categorized into 6 high-level concepts of functional impairment [social, physical, emotional, cognitive, role activity (SPEC-R), and general] and 6 categories to determine barriers to treatment access (coverage ineligibility, out-of-pocket cost, issues with assistance programs, clinical ineligibility, formulary placement/sequence, doctor guidance). The SPEC-R categorization was also applied to 3 validated PsA patient-reported outcome (PRO) instruments to evaluate their capacity to collect lower-level subconcepts extracted from patient narratives.

Results. Of 15,390 narratives collected from 3139 patients with PsA for exploratory analysis, physical concepts were the most common (81.5%), followed by emotional (50.7%), cognitive (20.0%), role activity (8.1%), and social (5.6%) concepts. Cognitive impairments and disease burden on family and parenting were not recorded by PsA PRO instruments. The most commonly cited barriers to treatment were coverage ineligibility (51.6%) and high out-of-pocket expenses (31.7%).

Conclusion. Patients often discussed physical and emotional implications of PsA in online platforms; some commonly used PRO instruments in PsA may not identify cognitive issues or parenting/family burden. Nearly one-third of patients with PsA reported access barriers to treatment.

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What is the real value of digital pharma marketing?

This position paper focuses on the evolution of pharma marketing in the context of the expansion of digital channels
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Online Marketing Tips to Help Your Orthopedic Practice Thrive

Online Marketing Tips to Help Your Orthopedic Practice Thrive | Social Media and Healthcare |

When you are running an orthopedic practice, you are no longer just a doctor – you are also a business owner. And every thriving business needs to market its services in the marketplace. In short, promoting and marketing your orthopedic practice is an integral part of your healthcare marketing plan.

Like all other businesses, orthopedic practices must implement digital marketing strategies for accomplishing their long-term and short-term goals. Most practices implement a mix of different marketing strategies with an aim to increase their bottom line, get an edge over local competitors, increase market share, promote products and services and build an online reputation.

While there are hundreds of strategies to market your practice, nothing can compete with a long-term approach to increasing your reputation. Successful practices have confirmed that their most effective source of new patients is word-of-mouth referrals. This means if your existing patients are happy with your service, they are very likely to the spread the good word and refer other people to your practice. However, when potential patients do not have a recommendation from family or friends, they usually turn to online reviews to find the best orthopedic practice in their area. Ensuring your practice is listed on all popular online directories and third-party review sites is the key to driving more foot traffic to your orthopedic practice.

However, merely a directory listing and a referral are not enough to establish your practice. Instead, you must take an entrepreneurial approach to marketing by actively looking for effective and innovative ways to attract new patients and increase your bottom line.

So in order to increase patient volume and improve the conversion rate, online orthopedic marketing should be your go-to strategy. Never before has marketing to potential patients been more effective than it is today. Potential patients are searching for healthcare information online, and you must invest in a strong online presence in order to attract new patients to your practice.

Online marketing is important for your orthopedic practice as it aligns with the way patients choose healthcare providers. According to a study by Gartner, increasing numbers of customers research on the Internet before making a final decision. Online marketing strategies help you nurture strong relationships with patients through personalized and consistent communication, reflecting the move away from traditional forms of marketing.

The Internet and social networks are reshaping the way potential patients search for their healthcare provider. As an orthopedic practitioner, it would not be wise to let go of the ever-increasing opportunities that digital marketing can bring to your practice. Regardless of the size or location of your practice, it is important to build an online image that appeals to your patients. At the end of the day, your aim is to attract and retain more patients.

Here are some of the many reasons why your orthopedic practice needs to invest in online marketing:

1. Targeted Marketing: Digital marketing helps your practice succeed by allowing you to target the patients who are most likely to consider your services. While traditional marketing strategies cast a wider net, online marketing campaigns will enable you to narrow your focus to patients who are searching for your services. With plenty of online platforms and social networks, you can target users anywhere across the globe. Social networks allow you to search for specific groups based on demographics. This means you can market your services to the right people and improve the number and quality of leads.

2. Consistent Branding: Online marketing presents the unique opportunity for practices to create a reliable brand, just like larger healthcare practices. From building a professional website to posting on social networks, the Internet bridges the gap between small practices and large groups. Branding is essential to the long-term success of your practice. One small mistake online can give your practice a wrong impression in the minds of your potential patients. Through effective orthopedic marketing, you can advertise your practice and create great patient experiences that will add to the brand image. Remember, branding is not just promoting your products or services; it is about creating a fine balance of patient engagement and providing a value-for-money experience.

3. Improved Search Rankings: In the current digital age, most people find the services they are looking for, including healthcare, through search engines. Without a prominent search engine ranking, your practice is likely to miss out on new leads and potential patients. Internet marketing allows you to boost your brand image and patient volume by making your practice website more visible and accessible to a wider range of potential patients who are searching for services similar to what you are offering.

4. Better Patient Engagement: Patients’ preferences are continuously evolving, and to stay at the top, you must meet the expectations and demands of your patients. This means you must be updated and aware of what your patients prefer and what they dislike. This information is vital for the growth of your practice and paves the way for future offerings. Internet marketing offers plenty of engagement opportunities. Through social networks and other online channels, you can interact with your patients, gain insight into their needs and build a stronger orthopedic marketing plan.

5. Higher ROI: Increasing your digital outreach can help you increase your bottom line. The more data you can extract from your digital campaigns, the better your analysis and ROI will be. According to a study by IPSOS, online marketing can generate 2.8 times more revenue than traditional marketing. Most of the digital marketing techniques are easy to track and measure so that you can monitor the results for your targeted audience. The key to a successful Internet marketing strategy is to produce a constant flow of web traffic that converts into leads. The higher the traffic, the quicker you can recognize your ROI.

6. Builds Trust: Digital marketing grows from reviews from patients who have already availed themselves of your services. Most new patients would trust a practice when existing patients give positive feedback about it. So good feedback from your patients on popular online platforms could help your practice thrive. The presence of your brand on a number of online platforms will help your patients rate your practice and services in light of their experience. A positive and favorable online review will cause the potential patients to convert instantly.

Growing your orthopedic practice is essential because if your practice is not thriving, you will not be able to sustain it for long. And in order to grow your practice, you must promote it, introduce new services and widen your patient base. You cannot rely on outdated marketing strategies to give you a global reach. Internet marketing strategies can give your orthopedic practice a head start and help you attract more patients. Especially for small or medium-sized orthopedic practices, Internet marketing offers tremendous opportunities.

Online Marketing Tips

Taking time out of your hectic schedule to think about digital marketing strategy is critical for the growth of your orthopedic practice. The strategic analysis will help you understand your business goals, look for growth opportunities, explore potential partnerships and understand how you can make the most of your current situation.

The first step to creating an effective online marketing strategy for your orthopedic practice is to identify the needs of your target audience. It is important to understand the needs and demands of your potential patients before reaching out to them. Using a patient-centric approach, you will be able to convert website visitors into loyal patients. Your online marketing strategy should include proven search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, a well thought-out social media marketing plan, a responsive website as well as an active blog.

In order to help you identify and implement the right digital marketing strategy for your orthopedic practice, here some tips:

1. Upgrade to a responsive website: According to a Google survey, more than 61 percent of people will leave a website if it is not mobile-friendly. It is critical to make your website adhere to responsive design principles. Not only will that make it easy for potential patients to use your website, it will also provide SEO benefits as Google prefers responsive websites over standard websites.

2. Invest in SEO: It is important for medical practices to invest in search engine optimization for their websites because ranking has become very competitive. This is because when the potential patient looks up orthopedic practices online, you want to be one of the first names that pop up. So if you plan on expanding your reach through your practice website, be sure to invest effort and money into effective SEO strategies. In addition, content plays a significant role in website ranking as Google promotes websites that publish fresh and relevant content on a regular basis.

3. Create relevant citations: Citations are an important factor in deciding your ranking for local keywords in search engines. The most popular medical-specific citations where you can add your practice are Healthgrades and Zocdoc. The more citations you create, the better you will rank in search engines and the more patients you will attract.

4. Utilize video content to market your practice: Since healthcare content can be time-consuming to read, many practices are trying to make their messages short and exciting by posting them as videos. Many orthopedic practices are condensing their messages into videos that patients can easily watch on their smartphones.

5. Send email reminders to patients:Email marketing is one of the best ways to remind your patients about their upcoming appointments. You can schedule follow-up emails after each appointment to ensure they drop by your practice for their routine checkups. You can also send helpful updates throughout the year with general health tips and news about your practice.

6. Be listed on Google My Business: You must take advantage of the free Google My Business listing, which is ideal for a brick-and-mortar orthopedic practice. Once you have created and claimed your business page, you must make sure that all of your information is consistent across online directories and citations. It is also important that you be signed up on review sites like Healthgrades, RateMDs, Vitals and Zocdoc as having positive reviews will give you an edge over competitors.

7. Share outstanding content on social networks: A combination of carefully selected social media platforms and excellent content can tremendously help you attract new patients and engage existing ones. However, that can only happen if you share content that is informative and relevant to your patients, who will expect facts and recommendations, not opinions.

8. Expand your reach by blogging: Blogging is an excellent way to connect with your patients, and if done right, it can take your marketing strategy to a new level. However, as a busy practitioner, you will need to overcome some barriers if you want to make your blog a success. You must develop a posting schedule and adhere to it. Keep the tone of your blog conversational, and it should not be too lengthy.

9. Use YouTube to advertise your services: Content marketing is an excellent way to attract more patients to your practice website. Make sure that your videos are shared on your website, Facebook and all other social media accounts set up by your orthopedic practice. To begin with, you can keep the content in your videos basic and encourage your audience to book an appointment with your office.

10. Track your online reviews: The majority of potential patients will be willing to consult an out-of-network orthopedic practitioner just because of positive online reviews. In addition to enhancing your credibility and reputation, online reviews increase the visibility of your practice in search engine results. To earn more positive online reviews, you should encourage patients to post their reviews on your practice website, social media profile and popular review sites.


Instead of stressing over the number of visitors your orthopedic website is receiving every day, try to focus on the number of patients who are resulting from your online marketing efforts. Do not let temporary factors such as your search engine ranking represent how well or badly you are doing. As long as you continue to move forward, these details should not matter much in the overall scheme of things.

If you are looking to expand your orthopedic practice to the next level, your long-term strategy should be to spread your traffic sources and invest in a great website design, SEO, social media platforms and excellent patient service. A well-planned online marketing strategy will include most of the points listed above, and you should aim to implement all of these tips to promote your orthopedic practice to a wider audience.

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Social media: a catalyst for spread, influence and practice for healthcare

Slide deck from the breakfast session that Leigh Kendall and Helen Bevan ran at the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare, 4th May 2018
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How Snapchat and Instagram Stories Transformed My Practice

I had the pleasure of discussing how social media has transformed my practice during a 2-hour instructional course at the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery’s (ASAPS) annual Aesthetic Meeting in New York. Even better, I co-presented with Rosy Zion, the social media expert behind the success ofDr. Miami (Michael Salzhauer).

My practice began experimenting with Snapchat a year and a half ago, followed by Instagram Stories. While I wasn’t sure if it was a passing fad or not, I teamed up with Dr. Miami as an “influencer” within the Plastic Surgery space. Fast forward a year and a half, and I’ve teamed up again with Dr. Miami’s crew for a course that details five ways that Snapchat and Instagram Stories transformed my practice for the better.

Quick Primer on Snapchat and Instagram Stories

For those of you not familiar, here’s some background. Snapchat was originally a messaging app. One person could message a selfie, photo or video to a friend and after 10 seconds, that message would disappear. It caught on because your shenanigans weren’t kept online in perpetuity like Facebook. Those 10-second disappearing clips evolved into folks piecing together multiple 10-second clips into a story. Snapchat stories, a compilation of as many 10-second clips as you want, expire and therefore delete after a period of 24 hours. Facebook came along and duplicated this platform for its subsidiary, Instagram (IG), and branded it as Instagram Stories.

These videos are different than YouTube because they’re posted to the network right after you “film” the video, not days later. It’s not technically live video, but definitely more real-time than YouTube. You record the video and then choose whether to post that clip or maybe re-record it. Once posted, you can still delete it but otherwise, it’s there for 24 hours along with the rest of your story.

Your followers and viewers can watch your story and even message you questions based on specific clips within the story. This allows for interaction with the story, not just passive viewership. Additionally, you can manipulate the video by making it go faster, slower or posting emojis on it. You can also include filters that highlight the time, temperature, and location of where you are plus humorous “lenses” that mask your face.

At this point, if you don’t understand, that’s ok. If you think this sounds contrived, I actually agree with you. However, there’s no mistaking that hundreds of millions of people enjoy the app. To better understand what this is all about, consider downloading the app and trying it out for yourself. Now, onto why this app transformed my practice, and maybe yours too.

Patient Rapport

Many of our patients have already watched us on Snapchat before they come in for a consultation (@realdrbae on Snap and IG). By watching us in our “natural habitat,” the prospective patients feel like they know us. We seem more approachable. By the time they show up, there’s more rapport between us vs patients unengaged with us on social media. They’ve already seen our office staff interact in humorous situations. They know we don’t take ourselves too seriously. But at the same time, they see our professionalism when watching video of surgery.

Patient Education and Transparency

We record 10-second clips of our surgical procedures and create a “surgery story.” We explain what tumescent solution is, how we perform liposuction and our technique for breast augmentation. We answer questions they submit through the app during the operation. By showing the operation, they know we have nothing to hide.

Even more fascinating than the ability to provide education to viewers, we’re educating the patient and the patient’s family! Let me explain: Normally the family leaves after we take their loved one back to surgery. Several hours later, we call them to return when the procedure is complete. Because the family is able to watch the operation while the operation is occurring on Snapchat, they’re fully informed by the time they return post-op.

In the past, I would go out and speak to the family and explain everything we did. Now, when I go out to speak to the family, they’re ecstatic, telling me which parts of the operation was their favorite and complimenting the team on the work we’ve done. Since we show intraoperative before and after photos, they see the early results of the procedure before the dressings and garments are placed on the patient. And when I call the patient that evening to check on them, they’ve watched the operation themselves! That level of transparency and patient education was unheard of, until now.

Generating Leads

One of the most common questions we get through Snapchat while the viewer is watching the operation, is how much does that particular operation costs. We could reply with a figure, but then we’ve lost an opportunity to generate a lead and capture the consumer’s contact info. Because Snapchat, like Instagram, only shows the patient’s handle — the screen name they’ve chosen — the viewer’s contact information is not readily accessible. You don’t know their real name and certainly not their email address.

Therefore, we direct them to that specific procedure-of-interest on our website’s Price Estimator. Once there, they add that procedure to a virtual wishlist and submit their wishlist along with their name, email address, phone number and ZIP code. Immediately and automatically they receive a cost estimate for that procedure in their inbox and we receive their contact info for follow up — a lead.

Between their phone number and email address, we can call to see if they have further questions or follow up via a monthly email newsletter. Without this method for converting consumers to leads, we’re simply interacting with a bunch of anonymous viewers.

“Pay it forward” Mentality

One of the first questions I get from other doctors is, do patients balk at having their surgery filmed? While there are those that may not be comfortable with being filmed, they’re the exception, not the rule. A majority of patients have watched videos of surgical and non-surgical procedures before the consult and certainly before their own procedure. Just as they learned from someone else’s willingness to showcase their procedure for the purposes of education, many of these patients are willing to do the same. For that reason, they sign a photography/video consent to pay it forward for others watching at home or work.


This next part may be a little hard to explain but Snapchat has geofilters. These are images or words or even ads that are accessible to the user to showcase where the user is located. For example, you can only use the “San Francisco” filter when geographically located within San Francisco. Hence the term geofilter. Similarly, a business can design their own geofilter so that consumers can include the filter on their snapchat when in that business’ vicinity.

Snapchat geofilter for his practice. Image courtesy of Jonathan Kaplan.

As seen in the photo, my practice designed this geofilter so that when someone is near the office, they can use our filter. They don’t even need to be a patient. If they simply like our graphic and it represents an area they’re in, our filter is available to them. Ultimately, all of their friends and followers see where they were and see our filter.

One day, a woman saw me on the street and told me that she goes to a clinic in my building. Because she noticed our filter, she included it in her story last time she went to see her doctor. Subsequently, a friend saw her story, noticed our filter and came in for a consult! So while word of mouth referrals are a known entity, self-referral after seeing a Snapchat geofilter is something altogether new.

So what does it all mean?

I recognize that many physicians out there are against social media in the operating room. That’s fine. They don’t have to do it. But they need to realize their competitors are using social media to educate their patients with Snapchat and Instagram Stories. This level of communication, information sharing and improved rapport with the patient is unattainable otherwise and has transformed my practice in an undoubtedly positive way.

Dr. Jonathan Kaplan is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in San Francisco, CA and founder/CEO of BuildMyBod Health, an online marketplace for healthcare services that allows consumers to determine cost on out-of-pocket procedures, purchase non-surgical services, and in exchange, the healthcare providers receive consumer contact info — a lead, for follow up.

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Using social media to reach out

My presentation and workshop at the General Practitioner Academic Clinical Fellow Conference 2018 in Oxford.
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Live streaming on social media another tool to reach patients, families

Live streaming on social media another tool to reach patients, families | Social Media and Healthcare |

Ever-increasing numbers of parents and children are getting pediatric health information via social media. As a result, their medical information is coming from friends, acquaintances and celebrities. Why not have it come from you?

As a board-certified pediatric provider, you are uniquely positioned to leverage social media to educate others about important pediatric health issues such as evidence-based treatment, vaccination, child safety or other areas you are passionate about.

Live video streaming platforms on social media allow pediatric providers to reach beyond the clinic and engage with patients and caregivers wherever they take a mobile phone. Facebook Live is one such platform that affords great opportunity to share your voice and hopefully improve both individual and community health.

Launched in 2016, Facebook Live allows you to schedule and promote broadcasts, then livestream them to a wide-ranging and engaged audience. Facebook Live is more than just a one way flow of information. Rather, viewers can pose questions and provide feedback in real time.

With Facebook Live, pediatricians can meet with patients and families where they are and when they are able. Using your social media follower base or your medical institution’s, if available, will allow you to target your distribution. Additionally, Facebook Live videos are archived on Facebook and can be viewed and shared after the live broadcast.

If the real-time aspect of Facebook Live is daunting, you could record common and generalizable discussions held with patients such as anticipatory guidance, flu season information or safety tips. Once recorded, videos could be archived on a personal or institutional Facebook page and shared with patients as appropriate.

Before embarking on a Facebook Live show, consider the following to increase the likelihood of success:

  • Create a regular time and schedule for your show.
  • Tell viewers ahead of time. Create Facebook Events and write a compelling description about your topic and show.
  • Promote your live video on multiple social media platforms to increase engagement.
  • Choose topics that will engage your audience and provide valuable education. Consider following a monthly theme advocating for pediatric health.
  • Be prepared. Create an outline of key points and questions.
  • Stay on the subject and stay positive. Some viewer questions may be off topic, controversial or even intended to troll you, especially on topics such as immunizations or public health initiatives.
  • Ask your viewers to follow you and receive notifications when you go live.
  • Consider bringing a guest expert to help you review the topic.
  • Greet your viewers and respond to their questions and comments by name.
  • Make sure you have a strong internet connection and no institutional firewall blocking your broadcast.

Medical research has shown that strong, consistent recommendations by a trusted health care provider can increase the likelihood of compliance with the recommendations. By amplifying your voice through live broadcasts on social media, you not only increase the likelihood of reaching your own patients, but you also may positively impact people you will never meet.

Dr. Mattke is a member of the AAP Council on Communications and Media. For over two years, she has hosted a biweekly show called #AsktheMayoMom on Mayo Clinic’s Facebook page,

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“Medutainment” — are doctors using patients to gain social media celebrity?

“Medutainment” — are doctors using patients to gain social media celebrity? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Four years ago, Toronto plastic surgeon Dr. Jamil Ahmad joined the social media platform Instagram to share pictures of a trip to the Middle East. More than 10 000 followers later, the account has become a powerful professional tool. He regularly posts before-and-after photos of patients, alongside family snapshots and gym selfies.


Ahmad said patients are “dramatically more informed” about surgery because of accounts like his. Many plastic surgeons and dermatologists have amassed large social media followings in recent years. South of the border, cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Simon Ourian has more than two million followers on Instagram, rivaling some of his celebrity clients, while plastic surgeon Dr. Sheila Nazarian has experimented with live-streaming procedures.

But as more doctors are showcasing their work on social media, others are questioning the ethics of posting about patients in such a public and informal space. At minimum, the rules for publishing patients’ information in journals, textbooks and educational presentations should also apply to social media, said Dr. Alireza Jalali, head of anatomy at the University of Ottawa’s Department of Innovation in Medical Education. “There are clear guidelines that people need to follow, and that’s, unfortunately, sometimes not done very well.”

“I always tell people, Twitter is new, but publication is not,” he explained. “If I want to submit a photo of a patient, or imagery of patient to a journal, I need consent.”

Being respectful to patients is just as important online as it is offline, Jalali added. “You’re a doctor 24/7. It doesn’t matter that you were on Twitter. You said something wrong; it’s going to affect your career.”

Ahmad said he uses the same consent process for social media that he does for conferences or journal articles. He said many of his patients are “very happy” to allow him to share their photos to help others. “A lot of patients know that I have Instagram and they’ve actually been on there and looked at everything.”

For people thinking about surgery, seeing before-and-after photos or videos of surgeons interacting with patients gives them a sense “not only about what the potential results can be, but what the process is,” Ahmad said.

However, some experts worry that the usual consent processes don’t address the new ethical challenges posed by social media. By design, social media blurs the lines between personal, professional, educational and promotional content. Many posts cross the line into unethical self-promotion and “medutainment,” but it’s hard to tell where that line is drawn, said Dr. Christian Vercler, a plastic surgeon and assistant professor at the University of Michigan.

Even when a patient gives consent, “it is critical to recognize that using the patient–physician relationship as a source of entertainment by which to increase notoriety or attract patients utterly demeans the surgeon’s protective duty toward the patient,” Vercler argued in a recent commentary.

Doctors should be careful to understand patients’ motivations for giving consent, he told CMAJ. “If you’re already saying yes to an operation, it seems like a much smaller thing by comparison to say yes to the use of your images on social media,” he said. “People may not know what they’re getting themselves into.”

In his commentary, Vercler cited the case of a patient who consented to her surgeon sharing images of her breast reduction on social media. After the operation, she was shocked to see a Snapchat video of the surgeon holding up her excess tissue to show viewers “how much extra breast tissue you might be carrying around.” Fighting back tears during a postoperative visit, she told the surgeon, “I assumed you’d treat my experience with respect.” In such situations, the original post can be taken down, but countless copies may continue to circulate online.

It’s important to consider who might see a post, especially on platforms that are popular with young people, Vercler said. Some surgeons are “placing naked patient images into a context where your audience is underage.”

Context matters, he explained. Images that may be appropriate to publish in a medical journal for an audience of professionals may not be appropriate to publish on Snapchat “where there are lot of sensational images being posted by the majority of users.” Posting about patients in that context is questionable “because the observer is expecting something that’s mostly going to be entertainment.”

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The Benefits of Social Media for Doctors

The Benefits of Social Media for Doctors | Social Media and Healthcare |

Doctors have a lot to gain by making use of social media. For example, it helps them to market their practice, share their experience and network with their colleagues in the industry.

Doctors may sometimes shy away from social media due to liability or privacy concerns. However, it is possible to strike a good balance of transparent communication, while still abiding by the necessary limitations of the healthcare industry.

Social media for doctors is still evolving, which is why leaders in the healthcare industry should take advantage of this opportunity to build their brand name. If you’re neglecting social media, you’re potentially leaving out a good number of patients in your marketing strategy.

Interaction with Patients

The greatest benefit of using social media for doctors is that by doing so, you can take advantage of the opportunity to connect with your patients. With social media, you can keep patients informed about your latest offerings and any changes in your service, hours, or even policies. You can also keep your patients up to date on information about flu season, any new drugs, or simply share healthy tidbits.

Social media for doctors can help you retain your existing patients and acquire new ones. Your patients will realize through your social media updates that you’re a helpful doctor who cares about their health. As a result, they are less likely to switch providers.

Network with Other Professionals

Professional relationships are as important for doctors as for any other professional. Using social media, doctors can build a professional network and use it if they need to consult on any unusual medical problems. Having professional connections with other doctors also gives you a pool of fellow doctors to whom you can refer your patients in need. Similarly, those doctors may also refer their patients to you.

Connecting with other doctors on social media is easy. Search for your local doctors in the popular social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to see if those doctors have profiles. LinkedIn also provides the capability of creating and joining professional groups categorized by interest and expertise. Doctors can find useful connections through these LinkedIn groups.

Share Your Knowledge

As a doctor, it is important to ensure that you’re providing the most value to your patients. Using social media, you can share your unique expertise and share timely and relevant information about what you know best. Social media helps to scale and spread knowledge between doctors, their patients, and the healthcare community.

Using common social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, doctors can share more about their practices and hence reach out to more patients. iHealthSpot is a healthcare industry leader that helps create strategies for doctors to ensure that their social media strategy is both beneficial and within the confines of the healthcare industry.

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Don’t Let Your Healthcare Practice Get Left Behind: Why Social Media Is a Powerful Marketing Tool

Don’t Let Your Healthcare Practice Get Left Behind: Why Social Media Is a Powerful Marketing Tool | Social Media and Healthcare |

Your product is healthcare. It’s consumed and administered by humans.

Are you still using the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) as a reason to stay away from social media? Do you refrain from using this powerful marketing tool because it’s “casual,” and healthcare is a professional undertaking where the well being of patients must be presented formally?

Healthcare is a business and compared to other areas of business, it’s woefully behind in using social media to find new patients and deepen relationships with existing ones. Numerous healthcare companies have demonstrated it’s possible – and beneficial – to be reputable while using social media to humanize their companies.

Consumed by humans

Your product is healthcare. It’s consumed and administered by humans. When medical professionals are treating people, they interact socially. They laugh, display genuine interest and concern, and share common interests. Why does all of this get jettisoned when the relationship moves online to social media?

Ah, that’s right. HIPAA. Many medical professionals – as well as entire healthcare organizations – avoid social media as a way to maintain their relationship with patients because of a fear of violating HIPAA regulations.

Distilled to a commandment, HIPAA would be, “Thou shalt not use private patient information to promote services or products without written permission.” The same precautions you take as a medical professional to protect patient privacy in real life easily translate to the digital realm of social media.

All about people

As a medical professional, you interact with people, and you treat their health issues. The people are private. Their health issues are things shared by millions or even hundreds of millions of others.

If it’s your goal to increase your patient load, helping people find information about these health issues and then showing that you are the best health professional to help them with a solution is the benefit – and the reason – to use social media.

Nobody’s faulting you for being cautious, but you’re crippling your marketing efforts by continuing to think that using social media to interact with prospects – and with patients – is a HIPAA privacy violation. If you wouldn’t say in any circumstance other than face to face in the privacy of an examination room, it isn’t going to be appropriate for social media.

Meanwhile, an exponentially growing list of healthcare professionals and organizations are using social media to make human connections with prospects and deepen existing relationships with patients. None other than the Mayo Clinic has undertaken the effort to compile a list of hospitals, physician practices, and other health-related organizations in the United States that actively use social media.

It's how people want to find you

Several years ago, Avvo surveyed over 1,000 people about their usage of the Internet to find medical information and choose a doctor. The results were surprising, with 73% of the respondents saying they research physicians online. Another survey by the National Research Corporation shows that over 40% of us search for medical information on social media sites. What are they looking for?

  • Patient reviews
  • Physician resumes and certifications
  • Published articles

Social media is quickly growing and is the preferred source to learn about a health professional based on their perspective and their approach ability. It’s also important to understand the psychology behind the search. We recently wrote about this in an article here where we observed that people want to feel like they make these choices themselves. They’ll choose you if the story of your organization and why you do what you do resonates with them. Self-promotional content will likely turn them off.

Reputation management

Just because you, as a healthcare professional, choose not to use social media, it doesn’t mean that you’re not all over it – and not in a way that’s good for you. Social media has become the preferred way to share word-of-mouth recommendations. Regardless of how you feel about it, social media has also emboldened people to be far more forthcoming with criticism.

HIPAA regulations do not restrain the public, and unfortunately, discretion. They can choose to disclose whatever they like about their interaction with health professionals. Thankfully, most patients use social media to make negative comments without divulging detailed personal information. Either way, they’ve telegraphed a negative comment out to their network, which can continue to spread.

How will you respond? How will you even know? Reputation management is by itself sufficient as the crucial reason you need to have a social media presence.

Wading into the world of social media is something that does require careful thought. You need a strategy, and it must be tied to your marketing objectives. We look to healthcare professionals as heroes, and we do expect them to adhere to the highest standards of professionalism and discretion. We also expect them to be approachable human beings.

That expectation isn’t met when we discover they have no social media presence. It’s a serious disconnect – especially when it’s not uncommon to actually engage with a celebrity.

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The Challenges of Sharing My Disease on Social Media 

The Challenges of Sharing My Disease on Social Media  | Social Media and Healthcare |

The other day, I opened my favorite social media app, Instagram, and started clicking through people's Instagram “stories.” I came across one girl who was posting pictures from the hospital complaining about how sick she was. As a reflex, I found myself rolling my eyes and thinking to myself, “Wow, this chick is thirsty for attention.”


Then, I stopped and thought about the time I was in the hospital two years ago and posted a picture of the flowers my boyfriend at the time had sent to me in my hospital room.

Why did I post that? Sure, I had wanted people to see I had a great, supportive boyfriend. But, deep down, I definitely wanted people to know I was sick and being hospitalized. I don't think I necessarily wanted them to feel bad for me, but I certainly wanted people to be aware of what was happening and -- maybe -- reach out to me.

Being hospitalized is extremely isolating, especially for people with CF, who are quarantined to their rooms to minimize the spread of bacterial infections between patients.


Balancing this isolation and sickness with trying to have a normal, everyday life is extremely challenging.

On the one hand, having an invisible disease has its perks because people don't necessarily have to know you're sick unless you tell them. But on the other hand, it also means that you have to figure out how to actually tell them at some point, which can be tricky. Is there an elegant way to tell people, “Hi, I know I was at happy hour the other day and seemed totally fine and normal, but I've slowly been getting sicker and sicker and today I woke up running a fever and couldn't breathe so now I'm in the hospital and lonely and need you to reach out to me and understand?”

If there is, I certainly haven't mastered it yet.

So yes, when I'm sick I want attention -- but the good kind of attention, not the bad -- and there is a very fine line between the two. I want people to ask me how I'm feeling, but I don't want them to feel like they can't invite me out anymore because I have this disease.

I want people to care and be concerned, but not to comment on every cough attack I have or feel like my CF is the only thing I want to talk about. I want my co-workers to understand why I might be struggling to meet some deadlines this week, but not to think I'm less capable or my skills are compromised because I have this disease. I want them to see that I work harder because I have this disease, not the other way around.

So, next time you see someone posting on social media about being sick or sharing pictures of IV lines from inside the hospital, I hope that instead of rolling your eyes (like I'm guilty of doing), you try and put yourself in their shoes. Try and think about what they're really saying with their posts and what they really want out of it. Maybe they do want attention; is that so bad?

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New Facebook app provides much-needed support to unpaid caregivers of Alzheimer's patients

New Facebook app provides much-needed support to unpaid caregivers of Alzheimer's patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

Researchers at IUPUI have developed a Facebook app that, a study shows, offers a way to provide much-needed support to unpaid caregivers of people with Alzheimer's disease.

The study, "Friendsourcing Peer Support for Alzheimer's Caregivers Using Facebook Social Media," states that there is a significant opportunity to help improve caregiver stress, burden and support through online peer support interventions.

The app was developed as part of an investigation of a peer support group intervention in which emotional and informational issues that arose in the support group were pushed to the caregiver's Facebook friends as questions.

The Facebook friends then had the opportunity to enlist as a member of a support network by answering the support group questions. Researchers said that when those emotional and informational questions were answered, the caregivers experienced a feeling of increased support.

The study is believed to be the first to examine the use of friendsourcing -- a variant of crowdsourcing -- for the delivery of online support to Alzheimer's caregivers.

"Given the recent problems of social media, our study provides evidence of the social good that can be obtained with social media using telehealth innovations like friendsourcing, which we developed for supporting Alzheimer's caregiving," said David Wilkerson, an assistant professor in the IU School of Social Work and a member of the Facebook app research team.

In the U.S., more than 15 million informal caregivers provide unpaid care to people with Alzheimer's disease. Providing such care comes with its own risks: Studies have shown that caregivers have higher rates of depression, anxiety, insomnia and cardiovascular disease.

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The Blurry Line of "Friending" Your Doctor - UnityPoint Health

The Blurry Line of "Friending" Your Doctor - UnityPoint Health | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media gives us the opportunity to connect with just about anyone — distant relatives, neighbors, childhood friends and people we may not even know but share similar interests or experiences with. 

But what’s the protocol when sending a friend request or message to your doctor or nurse over social media?

Should I Friend My Doctor or Nurse?

For most people, a friend request is simply a gesture of wanting to know more about a member of their care team outside of the exam room. Some may also view it as an opportunity to keep their doctor or nurse posted on any health issues they might be having between visits. Because of the number of UnityPoint Health locations in small to mid-size communities, many patients are already connected to members of their care team online and through social activities.  

Whether you see your doctor or nurse outside the office, on the sidelines of the soccer field or just on social media, it can be tricky to know when it’s appropriate to engage in conversations about you or your family member’s health. Most organizations, including The American Medical Association and American Colleges of Physicians, recommend medical professionals don’t engage with patients on social platforms.

Why Doesn’t My Doctor Approve My Friend Request?

It’s a UnityPoint Health policy, too, that doctors and nurses don’t discuss health issues with patients on social media or outside of work — and for good reason. If your provider were to engage in a discussion with you about your personal health information on social media, he or she would be violating the law. It’s also risky for doctors to provide medical advice on social media because of state licensing laws based on where a person resides.

Pediatrician Andrea White, MD, UnityPoint Health, says most medical professionals do want to be more accessible to their patients, but it all comes down to safety.

“If I see a parent at the food stands during our kids’ game, and they ask me a health question about their child who is a patient of mine, it makes what seems like a simple conversation hard to navigate,” Dr. White says. “I could forget to note the issue in the child’s chart, or not be able to recall which medications the child is on, etc. I want to have those important details in front of me before giving medical advice.”

How Can I Safely Connect With My Doctor?

Luckily, there’s a way to take those questions offline and off the field, without having to make an appointment or phone call. UnityPoint Health offers MyUnityPoint, a patient portal, which allows you to securely and privately message your care team for non-emergent issues and manage your health information.

You can also use MyUnityPoint to:

  • Check test results
  • Schedule appointments online
  • Pay your bills
  • Use eCheck-in to reduce the time it takes to register in the office
  • Use Fast Pass to be notified if an earlier appointment becomes available

UnityPoint Health Insiders give advice on improving our patient portal. Join today to voice your opinions.

The portal is HIPAA compliant as well, meaning your patient health information is secure and protected. Conversations outside the clinic, on Facebook and other popular social media platforms are not.

If it’s a question that can wait, it’s always best to use the patient portal or call during regular business hours. Dr. White says she and her staff respond to patients within 24 hours, and it can replace playing phone tag while you’re busy at work or home.

If you’re experiencing a health issue that needs immediate attention, depending on the severity, you can always call the UnityPoint Health after hours line, see a provider in the comfort of your home through Virtual Care, get checked out at a UnityPoint Health emergency room or at any of our urgent care locations. 

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10 Eye-Opening Dental Marketing Insights From the 2018 Dental Digital Marketing Conference

10 Eye-Opening Dental Marketing Insights From the 2018 Dental Digital Marketing Conference | Social Media and Healthcare |

This year’s Dental Digital Marketing Conference in Las Vegas was packed with world-class marketing training specifically for dental practices! The conference featured over 20 speakers — renowned social media and SEO experts, marketing gurus, practice consultants and dental practitioners — all bringing their very best material to help practices grow.

We gave speakers the challenge of distilling their strategies down to the most useful, actionable messages they could — and the results were truly enlightening. Check out these 10 excerpts from DDMC speakers and think about how to apply them in your practice!

Jack Hadley: “Turning Patients Into Advocates”

Mark W. Schaefer: “The End of Mass Advertising”

Korbin Wake: “Tell Patients What You Do”

Tracy Driver: “Your Practice Can Go Viral”

Brian Harris, DDS: “Personal Brand Drives Revenue”

Steven Anderson: “Train Your Team to Ask”

Alex Nozdrin: “Be Persistent in Patient Recall”

Mike Buckner: “Show Patients How Much You Care”

Minal Sampat, RDH: “Reach Out in Your Community”

Colin Kartchner: “Your Practice Needs Video Content. Period.”

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How the Distracted Patient Can Create Practice Buzz

How the Distracted Patient Can Create Practice Buzz | Social Media and Healthcare |

How often are you confronted in your clinic with a patient holding a cellphone in front of their face, oblivious to everything around them, as you approach to continue their treatment? Their attention is completely diverted from not only their orthodontic care, but also from any notice of their caregivers.

One strategy to avert your patients’ attention from their devices is to directly address and distract their focus.

You ask, “Hey, are you doing selfies?”

No matter their response, position yourself behind their head in anticipation of “bombing” their next selfie.

Now, channeling your best impression of Norma Desmond—from the 1950s classic movie, Sunset Boulevard—say, “I’m ready for my selfie close-up.” Then simply wait.

A nearby staff member will often further prompt the patient (who is often trying to stash their phone now that they’ve been called out) with the statement, “Doctor likes selfies, and he’s waiting.”

You now have their attention and more than likely they will actually take a selfie with you that they may (or may not) post or “tag” on Instagram, SnapChat, or Facebook, etc.

In this less than real “Cecil B. DeMille moment,” you will have likely redirected the patient’s attention back to the task-at-hand: improving their smile and, if so inclined, it might stimulate a touch of social media attention for the practice, too.

S. Jay Bowman, DMD, MSD, is on the editorial advisory board of Orthodontic Products and is in private practice at Kalamazoo Orthodontics in Michigan.

*Special thanks to our patient, Madi Lovell, for being a good sport and our model.

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Beware of social media messages on diseases

Beware of social media messages on diseases | Social Media and Healthcare |

I happen to be on several WhatsApp groups. I have many times read terrifying materials and I am sure others have read them too. 
Recently, I viewed two videos - one from a doctor at the University of Copenhagen and another from a professor in Japan - advising peopled not take drugs because drugs are dangerous!
They advised people to eat fruits and vegetables and that all diseases and ailments would disappear! This is quite ridiculous because most diseases are caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi.

How can eating fruits and vegetables cure diseases like malaria, pneumonia, diabetes, hypertension, HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis? Whereas fruits and vegetables have great importance in providing vitamins that protect our bodies from diseases, they can’t replace anti-microbial drugs in treating diseases mentioned above.

I have also read circulating materials quoting doctors from Harvard University, Cuba, and Germany, among others, advising cancer patients not take chemotherapy, but instead take half lemon, mixed with beat root and a quarter apple. 
That if this juice is taken every morning and evening, it will cure all types of cancers! I am told some cancer patients have abandoned chemotherapy and opted for the treatments they read on WhatsApp. This is very dangerous and must be discouraged.

First, nobody should take medication because a professor at Harvard or from anywhere else has said so. All medications are documented in peer-reviewed medical journals; and have been tested through well designed studies. 
Patients have been followed over time and cure/survival rates recorded in journals and text books. Therefore, before patients make decisions on treatment choices, they should contact the health workers caring for them. 
For example, treatment of cancer depends on which stage it is diagnosed, the site where the cancer is and the type of cancer. For some cancers, surgery is the treatment of choice, others chemotherapy or radiotherapy or a combination of any of these.

The most important aspect for cancer is early diagnosis where treatment and cure have better chances. As earlier recommended, fruits like lemon, beet root and apples are good sources of vitamins that help body metabolism and protecting us from diseases but can’t be a replacement for conventional treatment of cancers.
Cancers and non-communicable diseases are on the increase in Uganda and elsewhere in the world. Diseases like diabetes, gout, arthritis and hypertension are sometimes called life-style diseases. They occur because of what we eat, drink and how much exercise we do on a daily basis.

Recently, a survey on non-communicable diseases in Uganda showed that hypertension (high blood pressure) was high at 24 per cent and 75 per cent of people who had it did not know about it. 
I, therefore, advise men and women to go for regularly health check-ups and screen for hypertension, diabetes; and cancers of the cervix, breast, pancreas, liver, Kaposi, prostate, colo-rectal and oesophagus, all of which are common in Uganda. As the old adage goes: “Prevention is better than cure.”

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Having A Primary Care Doctor on Call Even Between Appointments

Having A Primary Care Doctor on Call Even Between Appointments | Social Media and Healthcare |

As a chronic pain patient, I see my primary medical provider at least once a month, but my specialists every 4-6 months. There are two providers I stay in touch with in-between appointments to give them updates on how I am doing and what is going on in my life health-wise. These two special doctors are my primary care provider and my kidney doctor.


As someone who creates kidney stones regularly after a complication of a medication, I need to keep an eye on my kidney function as well as take precautions once a kidney stone starts its journey from my kidney out of my body. So, I have to keep my doctor in the know as to how I am doing, if the pain gets unbearable, if I am spiking a fever or nauseous from the pain, and so on. There can be a lot of complications with kidney stones and therefore it takes in-between appointment updates.

I have always been very close with my primary care provider. This past year, my primary care provider decided that he wanted to change his practice and become a concierge doctor. The cost to the patients is an additional $125 a month whether you see him or not. In exchange, he went from seeing a few thousand patients down to 600 so that he could work on our cases more closely and also be there for us day and night. He had been providing concierge services to me since starting to see me back in May 2005, but with the growth in his practice he wanted to be able to take better care of all of his patients and decided to move into a more hands-on type of practice.

Having the 24/7 access to him through text messaging, phone (cell and office), email and patient portal I have been very lucky to get a level of care coordination as a chronic care patient that most don’t receive. I am able to share with him research studies and other educational materials that I gain access to. He does the same. He sends emails with blog articles, reminders, practice updates. I get phone calls letting me know about open houses that he is hosting, or if he is going to be out of the office and who will be monitoring us while he is off.

One of the most important times having such amazing access to him was helpful was when I was having a gastrointestinal bleed. I was able to call him, share what was going on and he called the hospital to let them know I was on my way in. They were ready for me when I arrived at the emergency room with my husband. This saved me money not having to take an ambulance and helped the ER staff and hospital staff take into consideration the other health challenges I live with including central pain syndrome, hypothyroid, seizures and gastroparesis.

Most of my providers work more than an hour each direction from my house, because I live in a rural area of the state, yet I want to know that I am getting the best patient-centered care I can. Having access to a patient portal and text messaging has improved my health, my engagement as a patient between appointments, and helps keep my providers up to date on what is happening with my health.

Neither of these two providers engage with me on social media but they do refer other patients to me who need help getting organized with their care. Sometimes hearing from another patient is just the support we need and also helps the providers focus on care coordination, care, and future outcomes. My oncologist doesn’t have the same connection to me as a provider but has connected to me on social media. She is able to share information picked up at Med Ed conferences, and also can check in on me through social media. At my last appointment, she ended up giving me her cell phone number so that I could reach her if I had an emergency situation where the ER staff was giving me a hard time and they could not get ahold of my primary care provider. I had shared socially that I was having trouble with getting an ER to access my Portacath, they thought that it was because I was afraid of needles and it was going to be a small blood draw. That small blood draw can cause major damage to me and set me back in my physical abilities. My oncologist didn’t understand until she saw first hand during and after care for a surgery she performed on me. I shared some of my story on social media and at the next appointment she was more than happy to be my advocate and step up and help me communicate to other providers who are treating me.

Patients need to be just as accountable for their health, life and care between appointments and having resources available is one great step to making sure that we are all better able to function on a day to day basis with backup available as needed for acute situations and follow ups. The way that we access care and medical needs has changed and is improving. It is always great as a patient to hear that a provider is upgrading their systems to become more secure in the patient-provider relationship. As an engaged patient, I know that what affects our health the most is what happens between appointments, for better or worse.

For ideas on connecting with your patients the way Barby's do with her, check out "4 Tips for Staying Connected with your Patients between Visits."

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4 Strategies for Physicians to Address Patient Self-Diagnosis

4 Strategies for Physicians to Address Patient Self-Diagnosis | Social Media and Healthcare |

The Catch-22 of value-based care is that it requires patients to take a more active role in their health outcomes, which sometimes means patients resorting to looking up their symptoms on Google or WebMD.

Patient self-diagnosis is something all healthcare providers must have strategies to deal with. In an often-cited 2013 Pew Research Center report, 35% of U.S. adults say they have gone online specifically to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have. Today, one in 20 Google searches are related to healthcare, according to the tech giant.

Read: 5 Strategies for Dealing With ‘Problem’ Patients

Yet, according to a 2015 study from Harvard Medical School, online resources supporting patient self-diagnosis often contain inaccurate information. Researchers entered various symptoms into multiple online symptom checkers, which ended up yielding an accurate diagnosis only 34% of the time.

Many providers’ gut reaction is to dismiss patient self-diagnosis outright, but research published in the Journal of Participatory Medicine suggests that patients who self-diagnose are also more likely to comply with provider care plans. For providers, this is an opportunity to further engage patients and achieve better health outcomes.

Here are four strategies providers can leverage to address patients who self-diagnose on the internet.

Tell Patients to Keep Searching Online

This might seem a little counter-intuitive, but providers can actually mitigate many of the problems from patients who self-diagnose by simply leaning into the issue. By encouraging them to continue searching online, you are acknowledging and validating their approach to how they manage their health outcomes. Instead of closing that window for them, leverage their desire for information by throwing it wide open.

Starting with this little bit of mental jiu-jitsu creates the ability for providers to have better success with patient self-diagnosis — allowing for better exam conversations and deeper levels of trust.

Also See: 5 Easy Ways to Boost Patient Satisfaction at Your Healthcare Practice

Provide Patients Reliable Resources

If patients are going to self-diagnose, the best thing providers can do is direct them to websites they know give credible medical information. Sites to suggest might include The Mayo Clinicthe Centers for Disease Control and Preventionthe National Institutes of Health, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. All of these sources tend to offer a nice combination of accurate medical information that is easy to read and understand. The National Library of Medicine has a full page of links on finding and evaluating health information online.

Most of these resources can be collected and linked on a medical practice’s website. Share the list with patients via email or link to specific content on social media during flu season or other times throughout the year when self-diagnosis runs high.

Create Your Own Expert Content

Research published in 2017 shows that patients trust information more when content is easy-to-read, well-organized, and comes from authors with medical credentials or other signifiers of authority.

Because of this, it stands to reason that providers should be publishing their own expert content for patients on a website where they control the design and presentation of it. Websites for doctors are notorious for being a missed opportunity for patient engagement and patient marketing strategies. But by producing your own content on a channel you own it will establish yourself as a medical thought-leader.

Publishing your own content is also effective patient marketing because it helps drive better positioning in search results, social media activity, and a better online presence and expanded network. It is the fuel that gives you and your practice the authority and credentials patients are looking for.

Check Out: Blogging 101 for Healthcare Providers

Encourage Patients to Discuss Their Research

The final thing you can do as a provider to address self-diagnosis is to encourage patients to discuss their research with you during the exam. This is your opportunity to provide compassionate care for what a patient thinks they are going through and educate them through their uncertainty and anxiety. Doing so gives you the opportunity to politely counter any research a patient has done that might be misleading, inaccurate, or comes from a questionable source.

Long-term, having these sorts of open and honest conversations will only foster more trust from self-diagnosing patients allowing them to rely more on your medical expertise and advice.

Dealing with patients who self-diagnose requires a shift in mindset. By embracing patients taking an active role in their care and creating strategies around communication, education, and patient marketing, practices can set themselves up for success regardless of what information a patient brings inside the exam room.

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 Mining patients' narratives in social media for pharmacovigilance: adverse effectsof methylphenidate 

 Mining patients' narratives in social media for pharmacovigilance: adverse effectsof methylphenidate  | Social Media and Healthcare |

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have recognized social media as a new data source to strengthen their activities regarding drug safety. 
Objective: Our objective in the ADR-PRISM project was to provide text mining and visualization tools to explore a corpus of posts extracted from social media. We evaluated this approach on a corpus of 21 million posts from five patient forums, and conducted a qualitative analysis of the data available on methylphenidate in this corpus.
Methods: We applied text mining methods based on named entity recognition and relation extraction in the corpus, followed by signal detection using proportional reporting ratio (PRR). We also used topic modelling based on the Correlated Topic Model to obtain the list of thematics in the corpus and classify the messages based on their topics.
Results: We automatically identified 3443 posts about methylphenidate published between 2007 and 2016, among which 61 adverse drug reactions (ADR) were automatically detected. Two pharmacovigilance experts evaluated manually the quality of automatic identification, and a f-measure of 0.57 was reached. Patient’s reports were mainly neuro-psychiatric effects. Applying PRR, 67% of the ADRs were signals, including most of the neuro-psychiatric symptoms but also palpitations. Topic modelling showed that the most represented topics were related to Childhood and Treatment initiation, but also Side effects. Cases of misuse were also identified in this corpus, including recreational use and abuse.
Conclusion: Named entity recognition combined with signal detection and topic modelling have demonstrated their complementarity in mining social media data. An in-depth analysis focused on methylphenidate showed that this approach was able to detect potential signals and to provide better understanding of patients’ behaviors regarding drugs, including misuse.

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How HIPAA Impacts Social Media Usage

How HIPAA Impacts Social Media Usage | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social Media can be an effective tool for sharing experiences, building professional connections, and broadcasting conventional healthcare announcements to the public. However, careless posts that have client or patient-specific information could ruin the reputation of any healthcare organization.

On April 14, 2003, the “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act” (HIPAA) became law with the goal of protecting the privacy of patient medical records, hospitals, doctors, and health plans. The regulations set forth by this legislation allowed patients to freely access their medical records and gave them more control over the disclosure and use of their private health information.

Billions of people consume Social Media content every day, and over 30% of healthcare professionals use the same platforms to build and expand their professional network. There are advantages to utilizing Social Media in the medical field, such as notifications about new services, and interacting with patients. However, there is a possibility that using this platform the wrong way will lead to violations in patient privacy and HIPAA regulations.

What actions on Social Media violate HIPAA rules?
According to HIPAA regulations, a violation or breach is unauthorized use or disclosure under the Privacy Rule which exposes the privacy or security of Protected Health Information (PHI).

Examples of common violations include:

  • Sharing pictures (like a team lunch in the workplace) with patient information visible in the background.
  • Sharing any form of PHI (such as images) without the patient’s written consent.
  • Posting “gossip” about a patient to those who are not concerned, even if the name is not mentioned.

How much do HIPAA violations cost?
People in the healthcare industry cannot treat HIPAA lightly. If an employee were found guilty of violating a HIPAA rule, that person could face a fine between $100 and $1,500,000. Depending on the severity of the violation, the employee might face a 10-year jail sentence, lawsuits, termination from the job, and the loss of medical license.

How can healthcare organizations prevent violations?
It is a good idea to have employees undergo training on HIPAA Security and HIPAA Privacy procedures and policies when they are hired. Topics that should be discussed include workstation use, workstation security, and bringing personal devices into the workplace. These procedures are crucial to making sure that employees comply with HIPAA rules and are protecting patient information, whether it be electronic, written or oral.

Do you work in the healthcare industry and need help managing IT and privacy issues? Feel free to give us a call today!

Published with permission from Source.


The post How HIPAA Impacts Social Media Usage appeared first on Health Security Solutions.

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Physicians: Use social media to make your voice heard

Physicians: Use social media to make your voice heard | Social Media and Healthcare |

Recently, I attended a conference on social media. The conference was geared towards health care professionals who had a product they wanted to perfect and promote. In speaking with some of these participants, many of whom were physicians, I realized they had no clear marketing plan.  Although a clear and concise marketing plan would help sell their product, I understood that they were working full time and their product was more of a “side gig.”

A marketing plan is essential to promoting yourself as well as your product. Social media is an easy way to connect with others. I inquired about the social media platforms that these physicians were using, and I was amazed to find that these physicians were not on social media.  I asked, “What do you mean by you are not on social media”? I was perplexed. I thought everyone was on social media!  I heard various responses to my question. Some of these physicians were concerned about HIPAA violations and patient privacy; there were also concerns about being targeted with slanderous comments. These are all reasonable concerns but here is my is my concern. While we sit back others push forward!


One of the participants of this conference who I will refer to as  Dr. Bob wanted to start a weight loss program outside of his full-time employed position. Dr. Bob mentioned his credentials; he had additional training in weight loss management. I have no doubt that he is well versed in weight loss management and can offer sound, safe advice on this topic. Unfortunately, Dr. Bob had no social media presence. I know I will cause some controversy here, but I am OK with it. While many successful “health coaches” with no medical training offer weight loss programs, Dr. Bob, who has expertise in this subject, is struggling to get his voice heard. Dr. Bob has the knowledge to safely assist a patient who is interested in weight loss, but he has no way of reaching out to offer his services.



Don’t get me wrong. I understand there are other traditional ways such as print advertisements to promote yourself and your product, but without a social media presence, it is really hard. Have you wondered why printed newspapers throughout the country are losing readership? Potential new patients and your current patients are on social media.

Think of social media as a way to engage others. You are not treating a patient; you are educating.  I would suggest providing quality content that adds value. People do not like spam. Sell 10 percent of the time and provide valuable information 90 percent of the time. People will spend more time on your site if there is something in it for them. Video, polls and colorful images get the most engagement. Consider a pinned post that sits at the top of all your other posts that describes how you can help someone. This can be a video made with your phone. I believe that social media posts should be made in good taste and I recommend staying away from controversial topics.


A large following will not happen overnight, this may take some time but at least get started and try it. If you do not know how to get started look at what others are doing. Notice what type of posts get engagement. My advice would be to start with one or two platforms and see what is working. You may have to modify your technique or move on to another platform. Take a few minutes every day, every other day or a couple of times a week but do something! There are plenty of physician groups that can help get you started. Comment below if you would like some suggestions. By the way, “Comment below if you would like some suggestions” is a call to action and you should be using them in your posts.

Physicians, you are the expert! Show others what you know. Social media allows you to display your authority; if you are not on social media, you are missing out. As you sit back and wonder why no one listening, “health coaches” will continue to push forward.

Sharon McLaughlin is a surgeon who blogs at her self-titled site, Sharon McLaughlin, MD.

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