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Canada will use AI to monitor suicidal social media posts

Canada will use AI to monitor suicidal social media posts | Social Media and Healthcare |

This year the Canadian government will start using artificial intelligence to help track social media posts that could indicate someone is at risk of suicide, according to a contract

The Canadian government recently signed a contract with Ottawa-based AI firm Advanced Symbolics to monitor social media posts for suicidal behavior. 

In the first phase of the partnership, Advanced Symbolics will work with the government to define “suicide-related behavior,” according to the contract. This is typically defined through thoughts, behaviors, and communications. The company will then identify patterns that are associated with these behaviors based on online data. All of the data will come from the public domain, and will be anonymized. 

By June, Advanced Symbolics will give the government a final report that summarizes the findings. It will also be required to produce a mock-up of what a monthly report might look like — including at-risk demographics by age and gender, how changes in patterns impact risk, and protective factors, according to the contract. The government will then use this document to decide if there is potential use in continuing the national surveillence program. 

As part of the agreement Canada has the option to extend the term of the contract by up to five additional one-year periods under the same conditions. The first contract, which will start this month and go until June 30, 2018, costs $24,860. But if the Canadian government decides to extend for all five years, it will cost the country a total of $399,860. 

Advanced Symbolics developed its AI product, called Polly, in 2012. The company offers public opinion research, market potential analysis, real-time living surveys, and market research. 

In November Facebook announced a new initiative that uses AI to identify posts that are suicide threats or are associated with the risk of suicide. In this model Facebook AI prioritizes high-risk posts so that the Community Relations team (which includes dedicated self-harm specialists) addresses the most immediate danger first. AI can also alert first responders if needed. 

"Over the last month, we’ve worked with first responders on over 100 wellness checks based on reports we received via our proactive detection efforts," VP of Product Management Guy Rosen wrote in a blog post in November. "This is in addition to reports we received from people in the Facebook community. We also use pattern recognition to help accelerate the most concerning reports. We’ve found these accelerated reports — that we have signaled require immediate attention — are escalated to local authorities twice as quickly as other reports. We are committed to continuing to invest in pattern recognition technology to better serve our community.”

Canada continues to monitor suicide trends and risks the traditional way as well. The government collects data from the Health Behavior in School Aged Children Survey and the Canadian Community Health Survey, according to the Canada Public Health Services. The government also looks at specific populations such as the Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans people living in the First Nations, and Inuit communities and incarcerated people. 

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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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5 Ways Healthcare Communicators Can Build Stronger Patient Communities –

5 Ways Healthcare Communicators Can Build Stronger Patient Communities – | Social Media and Healthcare |

It seems to make so much sense: an online community of patients tapping into others with similar conditions and concerns, and sharing what they know to help others. But, no doubt, easier said than done.

John Novack oversees communications for the million-member healthcare social network Inspire, and will be shedding light on the topic, “Building Online Patient Communities With Social,” in a session at the upcoming Healthcare Social Media Summit Oct. 23 in Baltimore. In a recent interview, he touched upon key issues in building those communities.

Obstacles organizations face setting up an online patient community on social media: Trust, privacy, and value to the member are three crucial components to online communities for patients and caregivers, according to Novack. “It’s not easy to grow a disease-specific community to an appreciable size, and it’s even tougher to create and foster an online environment in which members share what can be emotionally wrenching, embarrassing or stigmatizing information,” Novack says.

He adds, “It sounds simple, but you’ve got to constantly ask yourself, ‘What’s in it for the person joining this community?’ from very early on. When members thank us for creating the Inspire community, we know they’re doing so because they find real value in it. If it’s perceived that the value of your community is flowing only to you, it likely won’t grow.”

Novack advises to involve the types of patients and caregivers you want in the community as you plan your launch. If you can’t find and involve them, he says that may be an indicator that you’re not ready.

The PR advantages of online patient communities: “I’m fortunate to have established relationships with many Inspire members who are open to talking to the media, or speaking at conferences,” Novack says. “Many patients and caregivers want to share their stories primarily because they feel those stories are going untold. We’ve had media placements that involve Inspire members who I have invited to participate in an interview, or speak at a conference alongside one of my colleagues—our head of research, for example.”

Novack cites one example from an article in STAT ( that occurred because he learned of the death of a longtime member of his lung cancer online support group. “The late member’s widow agreed to talk to a STAT journalist whom I knew had a specific interest in end-of-life issues,” Novack explains. “The article demonstrated the deep value of healthcare social networks, particularly those for people affected by life-threatening diseases. Moreover, the widow thanked me afterward for what she saw not as just an article, but as a tribute to her husband.”

Some media placements, Novack says, involve just the Inspire member, without a direct mention of Inspire, as the story didn’t warrant it. “And that’s OK, as helping get patients’ stories told is important to do for many reasons,” he notes. “In those cases, the journalists know that my interests are not solely to get my company into their stories every time.”

Managing and maintaining online communities for continuing success: It is key, according to Novack, to have clear community guidelines, and have the people and the commitment to managing the community. As a company with a healthcare social network, Inspire has invested in having full-time, trained moderators who staff the online community on around the clock, 365 days a year.

“Peer health networks allow members to make informed decisions with help from fellow members,” Novack says. “But one size does not fit all, and for us, we focus on ensuring that the members feel in control in how they want to navigate”

He adds that organizations need to identify what the goals of the new community are in advance, and have everyone in leadership in agreement. “Creating and managing an online community can be a time-consuming process, so communities can quickly become a drain on resources, for little benefit,” he points out. “Ask yourself: Do you have the coverage in place from the start to ensure that your community will protect members from spammers and trolls?”

How much control the organization has in managing the discussions, and how much control is given to the patients and group participants: “At Inspire, we look to ensure there is respectful sharing of opinions among members,” Novack says. “We have more than 200 groups and our members represent some 3,600 conditions, so it’s not feasible to be an arbiter of medical information.”

Novack says Inspire partners with more than 100 nonprofit patient advocacy organizations, and  involves them as subject member experts to help provide authoritative information to members. “It’s a delicate balance—we want to encourage members to be able to freely talk about their lived experience. We encourage members to not make radical decisions about their approaches to managing their conditions without consulting their physicians.”

Personal successes through an online patient community on social media: “As one of the public faces of Inspire, I have had the privilege of members telling me how important the online community has been to them,” says Novack. “Several times members have said, ‘You’ve saved my life,’ and what they mean is that they found a pathway to a lifesaving treatment through an online community. That’s humbling, and those examples demonstrate the power of healthcare social networks.”

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7 Proven Social Media Tips for Pharmacies

Just like running a profitable pharmacy, we didn’t learn how to schedule a Facebook post in pharmacy school- right? If you’re like me, you had to bootstrap and…
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How to reach new patients using social media

How to reach new patients using social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Some 2.8 billion people use social media to share their thoughts and life updates, connect with family and friends, and uncover news and information that’s relevant to them. Though sites like Facebook and Twitter were created to cultivate personal relationships, healthcare practices can also use social media to reach new patients and help drive business goals.

Read on to learn how social media can be beneficial for independent doctors, as well as a few best practices for using social media.

Reasons doctors should use social media

Doctors can realize a number of business benefits from social media. Primarily, social media helps doctors reach new patients by increasing their online footprint and by providing them a platform to share their expertise and insight.

Social media increases online footprint

The more places a healthcare practice appears online, the larger its online footprint. The larger the footprint, the more likely the practice is to be found by new patients.

Creating social media profiles and sharing information related to your specialty and practice on those profiles can help increase your ranking on Google, Bing, and other search engines. And social media profiles help new patients find your practice when they use Facebook and other social sites to search for information related to your specialty and practice.

Look: 3 ways healthcare providers can build online presence

Social media allows doctors to share expertise with new patients

The doctor-patient relationship is intimate. As such, many people will gather as much information as they can about a doctor before becoming new patients.

Social media can help you calm reservations people might have about putting their health in your hands. On social media, you can give glimpses inside of your practice, so new patients know what to expect before they walk through your doors. You can also share your expertise regarding your specialty, so new patients feel confident you are the real deal.

Don’t be afraid to show a little bit of your personality in your posts, so new patients can begin to feel comfortable with you as a person even before meeting.

You might like: How adjusting your bedside manner can boost patient retention

Social media helps doctors build celebrity

Though doctors don’t get into the business of healthcare in search of fame, a little celebrity can help attract new patients and build thought leadership in their specialties.

When you consistently share helpful information related to your specialty on social media, you become a go-to source for media and other audiences on related topics. As you are cited as an expert more and more often in online articles, you can expect more new patients to find you using search engines and social media.

Social media best practices for doctors

Doctors need to follow a few best practices in order to get the most from their social media use. Below are a few tips to help you get started.

Read: 4 steps healthcare providers should take before using social media for business

Choose the social media sites that are right for you

Each social media site is different. Rather than jumping on all sites, think carefully about what you want to get out of using social media so you can select the site that will work best for you.

Do you want to showcase results from your services? Instagram could be your best bet. Do you primarily want to share news and advice? Twitter might be the right site. Do you want to increase organic traffic to your website? Consider Google+.

Think about your overall goals, and then determine which sites will help you reach those goals.

Instagram 101: Practice marketing tips for healthcare providers

Consistently share relevant, authoritative, and actionable content

Inactive social media profiles won’t help you attract new patients. When you commit to using social media for business, you’re committing to sharing relevant and authoritative content on a regular basis.

Develop a schedule to help you post on social media consistently. In general, about 80 percent of your content should be information new patients will find helpful or interesting and 20 percent should be promotional. Only share information that is relevant to your practice and specialty and that comes from credible sources.

Be sure to make your content actionable by including links where new patients can find more information, whether it’s on your website or another site. Also include actionable phrases like, “Visit our website for more information,” that clearly tell new patients what to do next.

Engage with new patients

Engagement is key to social media success, because social media sites like Facebook are more likely to surface engaged users than non-engaged users in searches.

To spark engagement, you can follow relevant pages or users and like or comment on their posts. You can also share content that’s proven to get more views and engagement. According to the book “A Field Guide to Using Visual Tools,” 90 percent of information that goes to the brain is visual, which means visuals could better engage new patients.

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To Tweet or Not to Tweet…. Considerations For Using Twitter | 

To Tweet or Not to Tweet…. Considerations For Using Twitter |  | Social Media and Healthcare |

To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question! Knowing whether it be nobler in your mind to utilize social media such as Twitter or not to, is up to your organization to decide. With Twitter growing in popularity it is no wonder why so many organizations are deciding to utilize it’s benefits to promote their agendas.

For those unaware of what Twitter is, it is an online social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to interact with posts, called “tweets”. Tweets can be posted with using text, with a 280-character limit, with or without an accompanying image and/or a short video included. Twitter continues to maintain its popularity – in the second quarter of 2018 Twitter averaged 335 million monthly active users!   When used correctly, Twitter is a powerful communication and marketing mechanism that has the capability of reaching others quickly.

The Benefits of Twitter

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), addresses the benefits of Twitter as part of their HHS Twitter Guidance. According to HHS, Twitter has several benefits, including:

  • Information can be disseminated very quickly.
  • Broad reach potential – a vast “network or networks.”
  • Targeted reach potential – a growing number of groups on Twitter, including social marketing, health disparities, and health IT.
  • Collaboration – professionals are using Twitter to network, build relationships, etc.
  • Continued growth as a conversation mechanism.

Do’s and Don’ts when using Twitter

Do use Twitter if the stakeholders you are trying to reach utilize Twitter.

Don’t use Twitter if you lack the resources to manage the Twitter account, such as reading monitoring, posting, or re-posting of tweets.

Do use Twitter to connect with others by answering and asking questions.

Don’t use Twitter to discuss treatment with patients. For example, if patient asks about a condition he or she is experiencing.

Do use Twitter to share information about services you provide in your practice and information relevant to those services.

Don’t include protected health information (PHI) on Twitter unless you have been authorized to do so.

Do use Twitter if you would like to share time-sensitive updates about your practices that you would like to announce.

Don’t use Twitter as a static website. As HHS puts it, “Nobody likes spam or self-promotion.”

Now more than ever before, social medial in commonplace in the healthcare industry. Twitter allows us the ability to instantaneously connect with others at the use of the button. As long as Twitter is used correctly, in a HIPAA compliant manner, it is a powerful tool for healthcare organizations to have a strong social media presence.

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A Technical Framework for Rigorous Health Communication Research in the social media era…

Presented on September 12th, 2018 at the 2018 National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media in Atlanta, GA.
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How Can Content Marketing Help Your Healthcare Company?

How Can Content Marketing Help Your Healthcare Company? | Social Media and Healthcare |

Recently google found that one in every 20 searches were for health-related information. So how come your healthcare business hasn’t been using the power of content marketing?

If you are already using content marketing as part of your strategy, I will help you with some additional tips and tactics that can take your strategy to the next level. The healthcare space is much different than most industries when it comes to content marketing due to the laws associated with HIPAA.

A lot of the same tactics that you will be using in either the real estate industry, the banking industry, the construction industry and someone doesn’t apply to the healthcare industry due to the strict restrictions. However, there are still many ways that we can use the power of content to educate searchers and also grow our brand.

Why Content Marketing is Important for Healthcare Companies

Over 77% of patients use search engines before booking their appointments at the hospital. With this stat, we really need to optimize our site for the search engines, I’ll providing the best user experience and information to our users.

There are a lot of search engine optimization tactics that we need to be aware of to make our site more visible to the public. The first thing we want to do is understand how our searchers are using the search engine. Are they looking up Certain procedures? Are they trying to find what is wrong with them and what medicine is usually prescribed? Are they looking for which doctors in their area specialize in a certain field?

There are a bunch of great ways to understand how our users are using the search engines, and with a better understanding of this we can optimize our content to help these people.

How to Provide Your Audience With What They Are Looking For

1. Do Keyword Research

Do keyword research to determine what the best way to help answer these questions are. You should have a lot of frequently asked questions from former patients or customers that are a great starting point in helping you develop content that will bring more people onto your website.

It is really important to be answering these type of questions to show potential patients are customers that you are really in authority of the medical space, and a place that they can go for answers.

If 77% of these patients are using the search engines why would we not be putting all of our efforts into optimizing our reach on Google?

2. Answer Questions Your Audience is Asking

It’s also important that we really focus on helping a wide variety of questions, but we want to be spending the majority of our time being the absolute leader in whatever our specialty is.

Say a dermatology department puts out two pieces of content every week. There’s going to be a lot of times where you want to talk about best practices for keeping your skin healthy or possibly doing recommendations between certain products that keep you pimple free.

However, if your department mainly focuses on say skin rashes, then you really want to be the number one result at least locally on your specific skin rash treatment or care.

This means that you want to have every single question covered Regarding skin rashes that your patient could possibly think of. This shows that yes you can help them in a wide array of areas for dermatology but you are the absolute only person they should go to when it comes to skin rashes because you are the industry leader.

3. Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader

With all of the companies jockeying for position in the healthcare industry, we really need to find those one or two places to be able to stand above the pack. Using our specialty is a great way to do this.

Another way to stand out is by being extremely transparent. And a recent study that I was reading it showed that millennials care more than anything about the company they work with being transparent.

This can mean a lot of different things but really you just want to be upfront with who you are and what you do and who you can help. Some tactics you can use are the following.

You should go back to the beginning of your company and tell a little bit about how and why you guys got started. Let people know who you were trying to help when you set out on this mission in the healthcare industry.

Maybe you had a family member with a certain illness when you were a child and all your life you just wanted to help other people with the same illness. Something like this will really connect you to potential readers and show you as a much more compassionate brand.

4. Tell Your Story

Not only this but it’s much easier to go to a company or work with someone when you feel they are doing it for a common good, then if they were just out to try to make some money. A lot of folks have misconceptions about the healthcare industry so really just tell your story to be honest and try to connect with them.

Another option you have is to show off some of your team members. If you are a hospital do a little background on all of your staff, your doctors, nurses, those women at the front desk. It’s all for the same reason. We want to stand out, be transparent, and have patients feel like they already know us before they even step into our place of work.

I recently walked into a doctors office and in the waiting room, the hallways, and even inside the patient room, there were posters telling you to like the hospital on Facebook. I love seeing companies engage in this way and really embrace social media‘s impact on today’s society.

5. Leverage the Power of Social Media 

It’s actually been shown that 41% of patients say social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor hospital or medical facility. Knowing that you really can’t afford to not be aggressively pursuing social media as a means to connecting with your customers and patients.

If people are trusting in connecting with brands through social media you really need to take a step back and see what you need to do as a business owner or marketer to really have a presence on social and engage with patients.

There are many ways that we can use content marketing in the healthcare industry to still get our brand out there, and help people. I know that there are a lot of restrictions in this industry that not everyone has to deal with, but they are easy to get around and we can still move forward with a great marketing strategy that helps build your brand.

Important Factors for Effective Healthcare Content Marketing

When it comes to implementing and leveraging the power of content marketing in your healthcare company, you need to remember some key elements of any successful content marketing strategy.

1. Maintain Consistency With Your Content

We’ve all been to those websites that have a blog, with one to five posts on them that are scattered throughout the years, and ultimately have random subjects that they discuss.

A content marketing strategy needs to be consistent, both in terms of the content that you are producing, and how often you are producing it.

If you cannot commit to a multi-weekly, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly posting of content to your site, you will likely never gain the traction necessary to boost your online presence.  There is no substitute for consistency in this game. Over time this consistency really builds up, like a snowball rolling down a hill.

It can be easy to get discouraged at first when your efforts do not seem to make that much of a difference in terms of traffic, but over time, it is one of the main factors contributing to generating traffic.  A one week break can cause months of progress to be lost overnight, and equally, take months to gain back.

2. Produce High-Quality Content 

It sounds obvious, but I cannot tell you how many clients I speak to who stress the fact that they “already have a content marketing strategy in place”.  Sure, posting a  few blogs a week is great, but if they are low-quality content that brings no value to your customer, they will not succeed.

You want to answer real questions that your customers have, and do your best to truly understand what it is that they are looking for. Just throwing up a 600-word blog post each week that glazes over a few topics and offer a clickbait title is not going to build your brand.

High-quality content is usually anywhere from 1,200+ words and covers a comprehensive list of commonly asked questions regarding the topic at hand. Professional insights are given, and unique statistics and viewpoints are offered.

3. Develop a Unique Voice in Your Space

If you are just echoing what other influencers in your space are saying, while you may be bringing forth good points and still educating people, you will likely not set yourself apart from the competition.

You want to find your brands voice, and really try to imbue it into all of your content marketing efforts moving forward.  It is okay to be somewhat polarizing.  If you are trying to please everyone, not only will you never accomplish this, you will also likely lose the fans that you do have along the way because you have no backbone.

4. Find the Channels That Your Audience Hangs Out On

So many business owners try to appeal to their audience on every single social media platform known to man.

It makes me cringe when I go to a website and they have links to about 30 social media platforms, 12 of which even I have never heard of as an internet marketer.

Yeah, it’s great to give your audience a lot of options to follow you, but ultimately, if you are a fitness guru or someone promoting homeopathic medicine, there are a few super relevant channels to you and your audience, and the rest just fall short.

Ultimately, try to stick to about 2 or 3 channels where your audience hangs out the most, and strengthen these before even considering hopping into another one. Usually, for B2C companies in the healthcare space, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are the top 3.  This can be said for most industries. For B2B, LinkedIn is the obvious choice.

Master these, and then if you feel the need to move on, do so with caution and without forgetting about the channels that have the core of your audience on them.

Content Marketing for Healthcare Companies – Wrapping Things Up 

Ultimately, content marketing is not as easy as just combining all of these elements and rolling the dice.  You need to have a pinpoint understanding of what your audience is looking for, what your competitors are providing them with, what you are providing them with, the difference between the two, and why customers should choose you over them.

From here, you want to spend as much time as possible obsessing over what your audience is asking. Find the places they hang out online and spend some time getting to know them and their common problems.

Then, craft a strategy that works towards establishing yourself as a thought leader on how to go about solving these problems. Maintain consistency and quality, and eventually, with enough hard work, you will get where you want to be through the implementation of an effective content marketing strategy.

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Using social media in medicine to your advantage, with care! - 

Using social media in medicine to your advantage, with care! -  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is beginning to change the way that medicine is practiced. It has the power to engage people in public health and policy discussions, establish professional networks and facilitate patients’ access to information about health and services. In this third and final blog post on social media in anesthesiology and critical care, the authors explain why social media is now such a key resource for physicians and offer advice on how to use it as safely and effectively as possible. 

Part 1: Social media in critical care: what’s all the fuss about? 
Part 2: Free Open Access Medical education (FOAM): the new way to keep up-to-date

Personal learning networks, remote learning and early access

Free Open Access Medical education (FOAM) has the power to facilitate global conversations about the latest medical practice and literature. It allows anyone to follow conferences remotely (but in real time), helps users develop professional networks and friendships and can consolidate information with colleagues at home and abroad. There are enumerate conferences and symposia to choose from these days, and that choice often becomes impossible due to the sheer diversity. Following attendees using meeting hashtags permits in real-time remote access to the meeting, viewed through their interest / opinion spectrum.

Such networks can permit parallel learning and discussion, for example with the running of remote journal clubs. Many major journals open up 1-2 hour long windows for free and unimpaired discussion of soon to be released papers, in order to scope responses from like minds prior to final peer review and release.

New and un-published innovations, upcoming trial ideas and recruitment to studies are often showcased. Innovative safety ideas and discussions thereon can often open doors to new and exciting practices, many promoting patient safety.

Appraisals, records and continuing medical education (CME)

With many of us now increasingly learning from blogs and podcasts, it is important to reference these resources for the purpose of appraisals. The problem is how best to record this activity. Some methods include the use of IFTTT or “If This Then That”. This is a web service that aggregates many other web apps into one place and can perform actions given a certain set of criteria. All you need to do is create your recipe and let it store all of your SoMe activity on Twitter and Facebook for you. Other more specific resources include an online zone for Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI) members that host a wealth of educational, learning and CPD resources. Here you can learn in your own time and keep a record of your completed CPD for use in appraisals and revalidation.

Policing, etiquette & caution

The Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCOA) in the UK encourages the use of SoMe and in its guidance states that SoMe use by doctors can benefit patient care, enhance learning and strengthen professional relationships. SoMe facilitates networking by linking like-minded people through tweets at conferences and meetings, and has enhanced communication between and within trainee research groups. As an educational resource, it encourages the use of open access journals (#FOAMed) and time-limited free access to articles in subscribed journals (Anesthesia journal free for a day articles, #FFAD) to further distribute new information.

Like any tool, there are risks and consequences of using SoMe. Communication and rapid dissemination of new information allows almost instantaneous access to the results of new trials, and allows for critical discussion when the information is fresh and without any traditional peer review process. Clearly, we need to be mindful that any information can be misinterpreted or distorted, especially when subjected to multiple layers of filtering through the SoMe channels (a broken telephone effect) and the unchecked dissemination of distorted information (grey evidence). Often, it can take some time to sift the so called, ‘wheat from the chaff’ and learn the patterns of ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’.

The General Medical Council (GMC) has issued specific guidance relating to the use of social media by doctors, stating that “the standards expected of doctors do not change because they are communicating through social media rather than face to face or through other traditional media”. It must be considered that if one is to place a message out into the vapor of SoMe, it should be done with exactly the same degree of caution, candor and humility one would exercise when orating it in person from a conference stage to friends, patients and strangers in the crowd. Disappearing behind a username should not be an excuse to abuse the privileged of freedom of speech, or indeed the privileged position of a medical professional.

More detailed guidance has been written as a collaborative publication of Australasian groups of doctors in training, illustrating the application of professional standards with examples both fictional and based on previous cases. Other guidance has been issued by the Medical Defence/Indemnity organisations and professional organisations.


The sheer volume of new medical knowledge and publications makes it nearly impossible to keep up to date with everything. Just 60 years ago, the answer would have been simple:

“All that is required is the current issue of The Journal, an easy chair, pencils, a pad of paper and postal cards, along with a genuine, sustaining interest in all fields of medicine”, N Flaxman, 1954

“If physicians would read two articles per day out of the six million medical articles published annually they would fall 82 centuries behind with their reading” – WF Miser, 1999

There are an estimated 6000 papers published every day at present, thus keeping up with recent and relevant advances in medicine is an enormous challenge. SoMe, when used correctly, can be an effective way of optimizing opportunities for self-directed learning, holding discussions with other health care professionals (commonly including the principal authors of landmark studies) and reflecting on newly-acquired knowledge. It is possible to document these learning experiences for your personal record and as evidence for appraisals and revalidation. There is a certain addictive appeal in having the power to consult such resources so readily and in such a structured fashion.

The growth of SoMe as a tool for improving access to medical education resources has been astronomical over recent years. Increasingly, health care professionals are using platforms such as Twitter to share and discuss papers and resources. The beauty lies within the fact that whatever is placed onto the SoMe platform for debate will reach thousands, if not millions of other like minds. Within minutes, people are able to pass comments, pontificate and offer their opinions on topics.


There is no doubt about the reach and immense power that social media and free open access medicine have over what we learn. It influences how we access information and how we spread important messages to millions of like-minded clinicians. It may indeed be one of the most effective and efficient platforms for publishers, researchers and clinicians alike. It allows us to rapidly disseminate ground-breaking results, new therapies and trial methodologies. Of course, the information must be used with due care, as peer review processes are not the same as those involved in major journals. One can become influenced by grey information, as well as by the biases of others. In our opinion, with due care and attention, it is one of the most exciting and promising areas to become involved in within critical care.

Written by Jonny Wilkinson, Adrian Wong and Prof Manu Malbrain

This blog is also published on BMC

Join us in Amsterdam for the 7th IFAD International Fluid Academy Days, Nov 23-24 to meet the SoMe team!

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How Digital Marketing Can Help Clinical Trials Publish Faster

How Digital Marketing Can Help Clinical Trials Publish Faster | Social Media and Healthcare |

When clinical trials don’t publish, patients don’t get better. Here’s how digital technology, including digital marketing, can help.

The clinical trial process is notoriously riddled with delays, most frequently due to missed patient enrollment quotas. But a study published earlier this month in JAMA Network revealed a surprising source of additional delay – the lag time between data collection and publishing trial results.

The JAMA study found that, across 341 studies in six medical journals, the overall median data age was 33.9 months at the time of publication, and the median time from final data collection to publication was 14.8 months. 18.5% of trials required two or more years of publication time; 19.9% required more than four years just to complete enrollment.

These numbers are made more concerning by the fact that all of these studies eventually appeared in high-profile medical journals. This indicates that their findings were significant developments, so their delayed publication can have major, negative effects on the lives of many patients waiting for treatment or a new breakthrough.

Prioritizing the Patient

Of course, not all factors in a clinical trial can be altered for timeliness. Responsible, accurate reporting indisputably requires careful study and follow-up. If a trial has a follow-up period of a year, that’s unchangeable. However, the time it takes to get the paper published after final data collection are well within the control of researchers, and expediting these processes should be a top priority for clinical trials.

For clinical trials, delaying publishing by 14 months may not seem like a huge issue. After all, the temptation to pursue a perfect paper is strong. But for patients seeking treatment, 14 months can make all the difference. Often, time moves differently for these patients; suffering from a chronic, debilitating, or life-threatening disease can make every month or year feel much longer.

Apart from the compelling argument to consider the patient, expedited publishing gets valuable knowledge into the open as soon as it’s available. The sooner that new options are introduced to the market, the closer the medical community gets to finding cures or effective management plans for these conditions. Therefore, the onus is on trials to shorten time to publishing by any means possible.

Using Digital Resources to Expedite Publishing

Though the need for a streamlined study review process post-data collection seems apparent, trials have the most control over what happens before they even start collecting data. By implementing electronic health records, or EHRs, to pre-register patients before a trial even begins, trials can minimize paperwork and ensure that they’re ready to go when the trial begins.

Another area where technology can help is patient recruitment before and during a trial. Digital ads on search engines and social media not only open the recruitment pool to a wider audience, but can also help sponsors and CROs target potential patients by location, age, gender, and a wealth of other qualifiers. By using these tools, investigator sites can pinpoint patients or caregivers actively seeking treatment options and quickly lead them to an initial screening – hosted on a dedicated landing page.

Trials may be able to bear delays in publishing, but patients often cannot. By implementing digital tools, sponsors and CROs can give patients the best chance of getting the treatments they need to live happy, healthy lives.


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Trying to Reach Healthcare Professionals and Consumers? Social Media Is the Answer.

Trying to Reach Healthcare Professionals and Consumers? Social Media Is the Answer. | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is a powerful platform for reaching HCPs and consumers alike. There are nearly 200 million active social media users in the United States alone, so it’s almost guaranteed that your target audience is using social channels, consuming content about anything and everything. So why not target them on social for your brand?

Targeting on social media allows brands to specify and target certain demographic properties of their desired audience. Additionally, brands can create lookalike audiences based off of demographic and behavioral data, finding users who “look” like their already engaged audience. But in addition to targeting these users with ads, social media can help you bring your brand to life, personalizing and humanizing it to your audience, and give your brand a voice, while allowing for interaction and engagement with your customers while they create peer-to-peer relationships and form communities.

Still don’t believe social is right for pharma? Read on to see how we leveraged the power of social to drive brand awareness and engage and acquire HCPs for an OTC brand on Facebook and developed a vibrant, active consumer and veterinary social community and Instagram presence for a prescription veterinary brand. From customer insights through creating the strategy, we used a social model that set our pharma brands up for success.

Driving Brand Awareness and Acquisition of HCPs

Doctors don’t stop being doctors when they log on to Facebook. Using that insight, we used Facebook to target specialty HCPs when one Rx-to-OTC switch brand soft relaunched. The brand had taken on a modern creative campaign, and driving awareness around the rebranding was still a key factor.

Our goal was to garner excitement and provide education about the switch, energize the campaign, and rally HCPs to sign up for a CRM program. Facebook proved to be the perfect medium, as the ads were non-intrusive and were served up to the HCPs during their normal use within the social network. Results were positive, yielding registrations for the CRM program that exceeded initial projections.

Building a Social Community

Veterinary products need to engage pet owners and veterinarians alike, and for the relaunch of a medication for dogs we used social media to address the consumer audience. Research showed that our target dog owners were socially active, looking for other pet owners, and desirous of sharing their own experiences. Although the brand didn’t have an official social presence, dog owners were having conversations about the brand in its absence. Demographic data analysis proved that our target audience was on Facebook and Instagram, and we moved forward to cultivate a community of like-minded dog owners, pulsing out a cadence of branded and unbranded content that would answer the audience’s needs. The results of our social strategy produced vibrant, engaged communities and helped define and shape an authoritative voice for our brand.

A Roadmap to Success

Success in social starts with research. Understanding your audience is crucial to any social campaign. What are their needs and pain points? How do they talk to each other? What are their behaviors? Who are their influencers? What are they saying about your brand? This information will help you build a framework for your content strategy and for the assets that you create to be disseminated in social channels.

Research where your target audience spends its time, and pursue only those social channels to start your campaign. Reassess periodically because social engagement, like everything else, can change over time.

Do a competitive audit to understand what, where, and how your competitors are pursuing social channels for their marketing efforts. Do a content audit to see what assets you can repurpose for social so you don’t have to start from scratch. Brush up on best practices. Review corporate social guidelines. Meet with med legal early to get their buy in. Develop a response plan in the event things don’t go exactly as planned.
Create a content calendar that spans across a period of time and keep it updated, understanding that it may need to be flexible. Listen to your audience and use those insights to develop more content.

Social media marketing can be a great way to help build positive customer engagement for brands with both HCPs and consumers. It’s an important channel in the overall marketing mix to boost business growth and gain engaged and loyal customers, which are the most import assets of any brand.(PV)

Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide — a WPP Health & Wellness company — is committed to creativity and effectiveness in healthcare communications, everywhere.

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7 Ways to Connect with Millennial Patients

7 Ways to Connect with Millennial Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

Appealing to Millennials, many of whom are making their own decisions about eyecare for the first time, requires targeted marketing. But another factor can be equally powerful in appealing to this age segment: having cutting-edge technology online and in your office.

According to the most recent U.S. Census, there are 80 million Millennials in the U.S. compared to only 65 million Gen Xers and 74 million Baby Boomers. By the year 2020, Millennials will make up over 50 percent of our patient base. Therefore, optometrists should consider incorporating technology throughout the office, from the reception area to the exam room to the optical, to suit Millennials’ expectations.

Offer Easy Online Appointment Booking
From what I’ve observed on the teaching staff at Nova Southeastern University, in addition to working part-time at We Are Eyes in Boca Raton, Fla., Millennials are more likely to put off seeing doctors. They often wait to see if the problem will subside on its own. In addition to that, they feel that they don’t have the time to go to the doctor. When they are sick, Millennials are more likely to turn to Google, WebMD or urgent care centers for healthcare information before visiting a doctor. If they finally decide to go to a doctor’s office, Millennials are frequently intimidated by making an appointment over the phone. They prefer buying products and tickets online, making restaurant reservations online, so, therefore, would prefer to make doctors’ appointments online.

Enable Communication Via Cell Phone & Texting
When collecting contact information, get a cell phone number first, then an e-mail. Skip the home phone number and the daytime or work phone number. If you want a Millennial to schedule an appointment, allow them to do so from their mobile device. There are plenty of services that connect to your practice management software to send text or e-mail reminders of an upcoming appointment.

And the practice management software that is already being used in many offices may have mobile and online scheduling incorporated directly. A third-party service may not be needed anymore. For example, Eyefinity has online scheduling called Eyefinity Patient Engagement. This allows patients to schedule from mobile devices, and also to confirm or change appointments, access or update their medical history from the patient portal, and ask questions within the secure software. Whatever platform you use to communicate with patients, be sure it is HIPAA-compliant.

Update Web Site & Social Media Pages
Your web site should be optimized for mobile viewing, and you should have Facebook and Yelp pages that are updated on a daily basis. If a patient has a good experience in your office, take the time to ask them to post a positive review immediately. If the doctor does not want to have this conversation personally with the patient, designate an employee to do so. It’s best to ask before they leave the office. Give patients an extra incentive to like your Facebook page, or post a review, by offering them an optical cleaning cloth or an extra starter kit of contact lens solution or water bottle, or another token of appreciation.


Dr. Nguyen using an iPad to image a patient in the exam room. Dr. Nguyen says using mobile technology in the exam room can make it easier to educate the patient, which appeals to many Millennials.

Share Digital Images of Eyes in Exam Room
In the examination room, ODs should consider digital imaging techniques that can be viewed immediately by the patient. Millennials are more likely to understand the results of their examination if they can see it on an iPad or computer monitor. For example, a patient is more likely to be compliant to their prescribed contact lens wearing and replacement schedule if they can see the giant papillary conjunctivitis under their eyelids or the deposits stuck to their over-worn contact lenses.

I recommend large touch-screen monitors, or tablets, to view test results and ocular photos. When a patient has a question about their diagnosis, the doctor should have a face-to-face discussion with them. But once the question is answered, optometrists should consider taking a moment to send the patient an e-mail with more information. Don’t hand a Millennial a paper brochure. Send them an e-mail with a link to your web site or another credible web site.

Use Modern Measuring Technology in Optical
The optical area should also have modern technology available. I know many experienced opticians who are spot-on with their PD sticks. But measuring a pupillary distance manually with a PD stick is considered too basic and inaccurate by Millennials. iPad programs are available to measure PDs and simulate the optics and clarity of digital lenses. This adds perceived value to the optical purchase, which can help practices differentiate themselves from online glasses retailers.

Evaluate State of Technology Annually
The challenge with incorporating technology into a practice is that technology is ever-changing. Millennials are used to change, they expect it. So, never get too comfortable with the technology you have. An updated version will be available soon. To keep up with the most tech-savvy generation, practices may have to change the patient experience constantly.

Market New Technology
Once you have created your high-tech, mobile-friendly practice, market the technology to Millennials as an experience. Make a video creating a digital tour of your practice showing the technology you use. Post the video to your web site and Facebook page. Millennials live in a world of instant gratification, so marketing and communicating should be done in a timely manner. When you get new diagnostic technology, or new technology in your optical, it should be posted immediately.


Thuy-Lan Nguyen, OD
, practices in South Florida, teaches at Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry, and works part-time as an associate at We Are Eyes in Boca Raton, Fla. To contact her:

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Social Media Tips for Pharma and Healthcare Marketers –

Social Media Tips for Pharma and Healthcare Marketers – | Social Media and Healthcare |

The average consumer spends nearly two hours on social media daily and, especially for healthcare and pharma, social networks have become the connective tissue between brands and health system stakeholders. These platforms are where patients, caregivers, and even HCPs engage with health-related information and seek the counsel of their peers.

Each and every day millions “like,” comment, and share disease state education, treatment solutions, support programs, and more. They also expect healthcare brands to provide the same level of immediacy and engagement already experienced with consumer package goods, entertainment, and other less-regulated verticals.

The obvious challenge for pharma marketers is that user generated content exposes companies to concerns ranging from reputation management to privacy concerns to adverse event reporting. Making matters even more complicated, the platforms themselves change often, from seemingly weekly channel enhancements to security changes to tweaked algorithms. That makes keeping abreast of new FDA guidance and technological features a true balancing act, demanding non-stop attentiveness, and proven compliance expertise.

The combination of unprecedented audience reach with complex tech, regulatory, and reputations concerns makes implementing social best practices more vital than ever before. So I’ve compiled 50 tips for pharma paid and organic campaigns to help you not only avoid problems, but get the most out of social media for your brands. Let’s start with the market leader, Facebook…

Part 1: 17 Super Ideas for Facebook

1. Ensure your Facebook Page appears in search results by avoiding age or country restrictions, and including a profile picture, cover photo, and call-to-action button. Make sure to add basic info and, lastly, ensure your Page is published.

2. Facebook allows advertising to three core audiences: your Facebook followers, all of Facebook (according to your target criteria), and to a Custom Audience, i.e. existing customers, like website visitors or email lists. Build success from the ground up by selecting the audience best in line with your goals.

3. If an organic page post has received high engagement in the form of likes, shares and comments, that tells you about its popularity; boost such a proven post with paid promotion to reach an even greater audience.

4. Track your Facebook Page performance alongside similar Pages or competitors by adding Pages to watch under the Insights tab:

5. Uncertain of which ad version to launch? Leverage the split test function in Facebook Ads Manager to gather insights based on a specific variable – target audience, delivery, placements, or creative. You can opt for the test to finish early based on the winning ad, enabling your brand to move forward with confidence.

6. Facebook favors ads light on copy. But don’t forget to use the custom link description, which allows you to share an additional sentence for detail.

7. New to advertising on Facebook? Facebook Blueprint offers free online training on all aspects of marketing through the platform. You can also take online exams to earn Blueprint Certification, the only certification officially recognized by Facebook.

8. Your Facebook followers can see how long it takes your brand to respond to a message – so be prompt to maintain good ratings. A solid benchmark can be found with Johnson & Johnson: despite having close to 800,000 page followers, they typically reply within a day.

9. Not seeing the results expected from your Facebook ad? Optimize the ad in real-time by editing your audience, budget & schedule, placements, creative, or delivery choices within Ads Manager.

10. Finding the right hire can be challenging and expensive. Consider posting openings on your Facebook business page – a free and easy feature introduced in February of 2017. Potential applicants can search for relevant openings by location and industry, among other criteria, and easily apply through the platform.

11. Take advantage of Facebook Audience Network (FAN) to extend your ad campaigns to your target audience off of Facebook. Campaigns delivered through FAN typically see larger reach at a lower cost per result.

12. Unbranded Facebook pages that put people – not treatments – at the center can be a game-changer for pharma. They also help you avoid the complications of branded content, often difficult or impossible to control within a social network. When done right, such unbranded content can nonetheless lead to important behavioral change, driving patients to prescribers, improving their adherence to treatment and motivating them to join awareness programs.

A great example is “Quitter’s Circle,” the unbranded page managed by Pfizer and the American Lung Association, which provides informative and motivational content to more than 150,000 followers.

13. Attending a conference? Unveiling a new treatment center? Welcoming a new physician? Let your Facebook followers in on the action with FacebookLive. These videos now stay on your page, so followers can engage with your content even if they missed it live.

14. Stand out in a sea of sameness, like the American Cancer Society did, by using a video in place of a cover or profile image. Facebook supports videos of up to 7 seconds for profile videos and reels of 20 to 90 seconds for cover videos. For best results, Facebook recommends uploading a pixel size no less than 820 x 462.

15. User-generated content, be it a positive Facebook review or Instagram post, is one of the best ways to increase trust in your organization. Consider featuring testimonials as a paid ad to reach your target audience in a more relatable, peer-to-peer way.

16. If increasing site traffic is the key objective of your Facebook ad campaign, conduct a preliminary split test to measure the cost per click of unique link clicks compared to landing page views. In my experience, link clicks are almost always more cost efficient.

17. Based on the size of your audience and key objectives, advertising on Facebook can be extremely cost effective. In fact, the minimum daily budget for impressions is as low as $1/day. The below ad sets, for example, achieved 2,182 impressions and reached 273 unique people within our target audience for a spend of only $37.75:

Looking for more of my top social media tips? Check out 5 Tips on Unbranded Facebook Pages for Pharma Marketers and 4 Key Advantages of Instagram Stories for Pharma Marketers.

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10 Healthcare Website Design Tips that Deliver Patients

10 Healthcare Website Design Tips that Deliver Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

Today, most patients in need of a healthcare provider will begin their search online. Even if your organization is primarily physician referred, people are searching for your website before following through with an appointment. A poor web presence could be a deal breaker. Recently, we’ve written a lot about what kind of websites deliver patients. That’s why we’re breaking down our top 10 healthcare website design tips.

#1. HIPAA Compliance in Healthcare Website Design

First and foremost, your website must be HIPPA compliant. Before you can focus on which healthcare website design elements get patients through your doors, you have to ensure the safety of all patients, new and existing. Make sure your web designer specializes in healthcare in order to ensure HIPAA compliant form fills and more, and learn more in the link below.

Full article: Is Your Medical Website HIPAA Compliant?

#2. Choosing the Right Photos and Imagery

There’s an art to choosing the right photos and images for various sections and pages of your healthcare website. At Healthcare Success, we employ both web designers and art directors to select and fine-tune imagery patients can identify with. Often, an onsite photoshoot at the client’s office is required in order to make the most impact. Read the full article below to learn about the top problems we see on healthcare websites (as well as how to correct them).

Full article: 6 Glaring Photography Mistakes We See on Hospital and Practice Websites

#3. Looks Aren’t Everything

Your website might look exactly as you’d hoped—but that doesn’t mean it’s ready to go live. Too often, a good-looking website is missing some of the key marketing aspects that convince patients to call your office. Read more about why the best-looking healthcare web designs can still fail in the blog below.

Full article: Why the Best-Looking Medical Website Designs Still Fail

#4. What REALLY Makes Your Website Marketing Friendly

Need to know which elements do help a website convert patients? As mentioned above, a website is about more than design. In the next blog, we go over 8 of the key elements (though there are many more) that help prospective patients to find your website, see your services, call your team, and schedule an appointment.

Full article: What Makes for a Marketing-Based Website?

#5. One Design Trick that Really Works

Here it is: in this blog, we give away one of our biggest design secrets. In 2018, most of your prospective patients are searching for healthcare options on their smartphones. With the rise of mobile devices, web design has changed to adapt to the way people use their phones. And the “long-scroll” secret is one of the best adaptations we’ve seen. Get the scoop in the blog below.

Full article: The Long-Scroll Secret for Website Design

#6. Your Copywriting Can Cost You Patients (and More)

Healthcare website design is about a lot more than imagery. An eye-catching headline can keep a prospective patient on your website for longer. But a headline that falls flat can cost you patients. Even worse, poor copywriting choices or misleading copy could get you into some legal trouble, which you want to avoid at all costs.

Full article: Don’t Let Your Copywriting Cost You

#7. Include Doctor Reviews

Patients can leave doctor reviews on multiple off-site locations. You have little or no control over the types of reviews displayed on these sites, but you can have a system for leaving qualified reviews on your own website. Automated systems are available (through agencies like Healthcare Success) to manage your online reviews without much extra effort for your staff. See why doctor reviews are so important to your practice or hospital website in the guide below.

Full article: 5 Ways Online Doctor Reviews Can Help Your Practice

#8. Keep On-Page SEO in Mind

A good website design incorporates elements that help your healthcare website rank higher in the search engines. This is called search engine optimization, or SEO, and there’s an art and science to it that requires a lot more effort than you may realize. It’s about more than using the right keywords—get all the info in the link below.

Full article: SEO Tips For Organizations That Want to Get Bigger and Better

#9. Keep Your Website Patient-Centric

When it comes to your healthcare website design, patient behavior and expectations should always come first. Sometimes, doctors write or design websites with their own preferences in mind. But always remember: you are not the patient. We compiled some best practices to design your website for your patients in a recent blog.

Full article: 10 Best Practices to Create a Patient-Centric Website

#10. Don’t Skip the “Small” Stuff

Finally, the details matter when it comes to delivering patients from your healthcare website design. Don’t skip the “small” stuff. Something as seemingly small as a phone number on a single page, a missing form, or a misworded page can send patients to your competitors. If any of these things are missing from your website, it’s time to reevaluate your design.

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How to Stay On Top of Digital Marketing for Dentists

How to Stay On Top of Digital Marketing for Dentists | Social Media and Healthcare |

In recent years, dental practices have become more like businesses than ever before. While in the past, many dentists did not think there was a need for them to market their services, these days, stiff competition has changed all of this. Just like any other business in a competitive industry, it is important to stay on top of your game when it comes to marketing your dental practice. The solution is digital marketing for dentists, which is a simple, convenient, and cost-effective method of marketing your practice and your services both in the local area and beyond.

Digital marketing for dentists has become vital in today’s digital age. Many people who are looking for dental services now go online to find a suitable practice or dentist for their treatment. By making sure you make the most of digital marketing for dentists, you can ensure people within your area come across your details. This means you can compete more effectively with other dental practices in the area and, if you do a good job in marketing, you can attract new patients to your practice rather than them going elsewhere.

What is Digital Marketing for Dentists?

Digital marketing for dentists involves marketing the practice and the services you offer via online channels. Some channels commonly used in the process of digital marketing for dentists including social media platforms, email marketing, and blogs.

Is There a Need for Digital Marketing for Dentists?

In today’s digital era, there is definitely a need for digital marketing for dentists. In fact, digital marketing for many businesses has become essential these days as otherwise, you will be left behind in what has become an increasingly digital world. This is why it is important for all dental practices to consider the various digital channels available to them to advertise and market the practice and the services offered.

How to Benefit from Digital Marketing

So, how can you enjoy the benefits of digital marketing for dentists if you want to run a successful and popular practice? Well, there are many ways to do digital dental marketing, but to realize the benefits of digital marketing for dentists, you need to ensure you stay on top of the process.

Fortunately, digital marketing methods are not as complicated or time-consuming as many other types of marketing methods, which makes it easier for you to stay on top of things. You can also get expert help for marketing specifically for dentists, which makes it even easier to create an effective digital marketing campaign.

Using Experts for Your Marketing Services

Staying on top of your digital marketing can be difficult when you have limited time or are struggling with resources. However, by making sure you have experts on hand, it is much easier to get started with digital marketing for dentists. By finding a provider that has plenty of experience in digital marketing for medical practices, such as Crystal Clear Digital Marketing, things will be even more straightforward and smooth-running as you will have skilled experts on hand with experience within your specific industry.

So, how can experts help you stay on top of digital marketing for dentists? Well, digital marketing is a specialist skill, and those that have the experience and knowledge to implement it properly can make a big difference to your practice. We all know digital marketing is far more cost-effective and convenient than many other forms of marketing. However, you still need to ensure you develop the right digital marketing strategy if you want to see real results. For those with little or no experience in implementing digital marketing methods, developing the right strategy can be difficult.

Also, if you run your own dental practice, chances are that you are very busy with patients, so finding the time to develop and implement a digital marketing strategy can be a challenge. Your priority has to be your patients, but you need to operate as a business and raise awareness about your practice and services. The best way in which you can do this is to focus on your patients and dental work while the experts deal with the digital marketing side of things on your behalf.

Staying On Top of Your Digital Marketing

Once the right digital marketing strategy is developed and implemented, it should be simple and straightforward to stay on top of your digital marketing. Simple tasks such as regular blog posts added to your website and using social media platforms to share information or links to posts can prove hugely helpful.

One thing you have to remember no matter what industry you are in is the importance of keeping up with your digital marketing. It is not enough to just go through the initial stages and implement your digital marketing campaign. You must stay on top of things, and the easiest way to do this is to check in on it regularly.

For instance, if you are using social media as part of your digital marketing for dentists, don’t just go on every few weeks and hope that this will be enough. You need to be going onto the platforms frequently as your regular presence will help to instill trust amongst your followers and audiences. In addition, people will lose interest in your posts if you only appear every so often.

Fortunately, you have the benefit of using a method that is not hugely time-consuming when you opt for digital marketing, so you don’t have to put aside huge amounts of time to deal with your marketing. In fact, depending on the team you have at your practice, you could allocate the duty of staying on top of digital marketing and updates to a specific member of your team. This will save any confusion or duplication in your marketing campaign and means that a specific person will have the time and resources to keep up with this vital area of marketing.

What are the Main Benefits?

By making sure you stay on top of your digital marketing campaign, you can enjoy several key benefits, such as:

Building a Rapport with Your Audience

Using digital marketing methods such as social media platforms in the right way means you can more easily build rapport with your audience. By doing this, you instill trust and confidence, so people are more likely to turn to you for dental services and treatments because they are already familiar with you.

Raising Awareness

One of the key points of any digital marketing campaign is to raise the awareness of your business and the services you offer. Digital marketing for dentists makes this process far easier, faster, and more affordable than most other methods, and it means you can let people know how you can help them with their dental health and oral care without having to worry about using other time-consuming, costly methods.

A Cost-Effective Solution

This method of marketing provides a cost-effective solution for dental practices and all other businesses. It means you need fewer resources. You also invest less of your time, which also equates to a greater cost savings for your business.

Extending Your Reach

For dental practices, the aim of digital marketing campaigns can vary. For instance, some dental practices may want to focus on attracting only residents that live in the area, while others may want to attract people on a national level because they offer innovative treatments that are not widely available at most dental practices. When you use digital marketing, you can more easily extend your reach beyond your local area, making it easier to reach out to people from all over the country.

Promoting Special Deals

Dental practices often have special offers and deals on various treatments, such as cosmetic procedures, but there is little point in running these promotions if people are not aware of them. With the right digital marketing strategies, you can be confident that the public knows about the promotions and special deals you are offering.

Driving Traffic to Your Site

Digital marketing is great for driving traffic to your website. For example, if you post a new blog on your site, you can add a link to the blog on social media with a message that will encourage your followers to click on the link to your site to access the post. From there, your followers may even decide to share or forward your links to their own social media circles and drive even more traffic to your site!

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Digital patients: myth and reality | 

Digital patients: myth and reality |  | Social Media and Healthcare |

With the NHS set to further embrace digital technology to improve the delivery of health care, engaging patients in using technology will be critical. An NHS app is going to be launched later this year, but will anyone use it? And equally importantly, could rolling out new digital health services improve access and care for younger and healthier patients, but leave vulnerable, less healthy and older patients behind?

In this blog, we draw on a number of recent national surveys (see the ‘About the data’ section) and look at common claims about access and use of technology – and who might be excluded if there is a wholesale move to digital health services. 

“Older people don’t use technology”

Younger people use more of the internet, but the variation between age groups is reducing, except for people aged over 75 (see chart). In the first quarter of this year, only 38% of women and 51% of men aged 75 and over had used the internet in the previous three months – and the gap relative to young people is growing. 


But the relationship between age and digital experience is not straightforward when it comes to health. The youngest age group are not the highest users of online health information, or the most likely to book an online appointment.

In primary care, awareness of online services, such as the ability to book an appointment or order repeat prescriptions, is highest in the 65-74 age group, with nearly half of people aware of these services. And over a fifth of people in this group order repeat prescriptions online – the group most likely to do so. So those in this age group are catching up.

“Digital services are less accessible to people with complex health needs”

Overall internet use is lower among people who are disabled – defined as a “long-standing illness, disability or impairment which causes substantial difficulty with day-to-day activities” – and is particularly the case among older people. However, the gap is greater for some activities than others (see next chart).  

For activities where use has plateaued or declined, such as emails, internet banking and social networking, the gap between disabled and non-disabled people is reducing. The gap has grown for finding information about goods and services, and for using official websites. For both groups there has been a decline in booking online appointments. 

The gap has also narrowed for social networking, which perhaps reflects the value of social networks and peer support for people with long-term conditions.

Awareness and use of online primary care services by people with long-term conditions are generally similar or higher, depending on the condition, than for people without long-term conditions. There is good evidence that technology can be empowering for patients with some long-term conditions.

But there are important exceptions, such as people with learning disabilities, dementia or sight impairment, for whom both awareness and use of online services are lower.


“Socially excluded people are also digitally excluded”

Health literacy – the ability to use and navigate health and social care information and services – is known to be linked to social circumstances, and impacts on use of health services and patient outcomes. There has also been concern raised about the impact of social circumstances on digital engagement.

Differences in internet use between social grades – a classification system based on occupation – shows that internet use among younger people is similar across different grades, but the gap widens with age.

91% of men and 85% of women over 65 in managerial and professional occupations use the internet. But for semi-skilled and unskilled workers, and households relying on benefits, only 51% of men and 50% of women over 65 do so. People in higher social grades are also much more willing to use a video consultation with their GP (see chart).

Willingness to have a video consultation relative to social grade05/09/2018


% willing to have a video consultationABC1C2DEMinor ailmentOngoing problem orconditionImmediate or emergencymedical needNone of these020406080© Nuffield Trust


Grades defined as: AB - high managerial, administrative or professional; intermediate managerial, administrative or professional; C1 - supervisory, clerical and junior managerial, administrative or professional; C2 - skilled manual workers; DE - semi and unskilled manual workers; state pensioners, casual or lowest grade workers, unemployed with state benefits only


IPSOS poll for the Nuffield Trust, King’s Fund, Health Foundation and Institute for Fiscal Studies (2018)

People who are economically inactive, such as carers, are less likely to be internet users, but rates of internet use are similar between people who are employed (98%) and those who are not (97%).

“Ethnic groups are digitally excluded”

The gap between ethnic groups in internet use has narrowed over time (see chart). Among younger age groups, internet use is similar between different ethnic groups, but non-white groups have lower rates of use for people over 65. However, the overall use of the internet is now lowest among white people, which reflects the older average age of this group.  


“Internet access is worse in rural areas”

While there are undoubtedly variations in the infrastructure for internet access between urban and rural areas, this is not the whole story (see the next image). Portsmouth has the lowest estimated level of internet use in England, with areas in Nottingham, south Yorkshire and Manchester also having low rates of internet access.   

Lower rates of internet use reflect disparate factors – poor infrastructure and higher proportions of older people in rural areas, but higher deprivation in urban areas.


Myth and reality?

Internet use overall has plateaued, and many previously less active users of the internet are catching up quickly.

However, those likely to continue to have low digital access are people over 75, carers, those over 55 in lower social grades, and people with dementia, stroke and learning disabilities.  

As health and care services increasingly look to digital routes to provide information and services, it is likely that a combination of strategies will be needed to ensure these groups are not further disadvantaged. While initiatives to improve digital skills have been effective, there are significant difficulties in getting and keeping patients engaged in digital services. Non-digital methods of access are likely to be needed for the foreseeable future, otherwise those at greatest risk will be excluded. 

Local variations in internet use are striking – the proportion of people who have either stopped using it or never use it is twice as high in Northern Ireland as in London, and there is a six-fold variation between local areas in England. Given the increasing dependence on digital means for delivering services, it is perhaps time to regard low internet use as a measure of inequality. 

In future blogs we will consider the implications for patients and services, and look at opportunities for the NHS to engage patients and service users in digital services.

About the data

This blog uses data from the ONS internet users survey, and the ONS internet access (households and individuals) survey, including more detailed analysis of ethnic group and age. Awareness and use of online services in primary care was obtained from the 2018 GP Patient Survey, using the analysis toolto create cross-tabulations by age group and long-term conditions of questions on awareness of online services (Q4) and use of online services in the last 12 months (Q5). 

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Functional Medicine Practices: Rock Your Online Reputation with Social Media! 

Functional Medicine Practices: Rock Your Online Reputation with Social Media!  | Social Media and Healthcare |

nce upon a time, reputation management was the sole responsibility of corporate PR departments. We sat back and watched as news outlets reported on scandals and company representatives spoke before press conferences. But before we knew it, the digital age hit and leveled the playing field for everyone. Today, anyone can “report” on what a large company or small practice is doing through social media. The digital age has made it more imperative than ever for industries of all kinds to become involved in “online” reputation management.

Online reputation management is proactively influencing how your patients perceive your practice by influencing the information they find online. Whether you realize it or not, people are talking about your practice, and not becoming involved is almost worse than doing so and not being perfect at it right away. That in mind, it is important that you have a plan. You must be ready to face the feedback you are receiving. Today we are going to talk about what a functional medicine practice can do to rock their online reputation using social media!

Stats to Consider

In case you are not already convinced that online reputation management is important, here are a few stats to consider. According to BrightLocal,

97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day

85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations

49% of consumers need at least a four-star online rating before they choose to use a business

Stats like these make it evident that people are creating perceptions of what they believe about businesses (and practices) by the information they find online, first! So what can you do to influence this information?

You Can Do This!

By creating your own content for your functional medicine practice, encouraging positive feedback from your patients, and effectively managing negative feedback, you can outshine information that is creating a negative or neutral reputation for your practice! There are four online platforms through which you can do this, following the PESO model:

  1. Paid Media – Pay-per-click advertising such as Facebook or Google advertising
  2. Earned Media – Free advertising you receive as other practices and industry affiliates talk about you online
  3. Social Media – Where we will be focusing our attention in this blog
  4. Owned Properties – Your practice website, blog, etc. (any online space that you own and from which you can publish content)

On any one of these platforms, you can use an online reputation management strategy to push negative or neutral information down the page. We will be focusing on how to develop an online reputation management strategy for social media!

Have a Plan

1. Find Your Reputation

What is your practice’s current reputation, offline? This is a good place to start. Ask around and see what perceptions your fellow professionals, patients, and industry affiliates have about your practice. Does this match what you want your reputation to be? Now take a look online. If you already have social media, peruse your accounts and see what people are saying about your practice. Take a look at your competitors while you are at it and see what reputations they have created for themselves. Next, plan a meeting with your staff and discuss these things as well as what you as a team would like your unique reputation to be. Maybe you want to be seen as high-tech, genuinely caring, or scientifically-grounded. One company that has succeeded at creating a strong online reputation is Wendy’s, most famous for its snarkiness on Twitter. We do not recommend this tactic for most people, but it is an excellent example of the power of a reputation.

2. Draft a Policy

Now that you have your reputation nailed-down, create a policy for your staff to protect it. In your policy document, outline appropriate and inappropriate topics and/or a post-approval process if you are not comfortable with giving your staff free reign to post and comment on your social media accounts. Establish important ground rules like “never publish sensitive patient or practice information.” Unfortunately, HIPAA was enacted before social media existed, so there are no specific guidelines. However, many have written helpful articles on HIPAA and social media. Use your policy document to set the tone of social media professionalism for your staff. Be sure to include that your practice reserves the right to edit or delete any content that could be harmful to your reputation.

3. Create Your Strategy

At Beacon, we often start our work on an account by developing a digital marketing strategy and editorial calendar for our clients. This includes the topics or services we are going to focus on, important themes, keywords, and elements of voice, as well as the platforms and media types we will be using. Our goal is to have a foundational document that we can always go back to for direction to keep our mind on the reputation we are establishing. The document also includes a schedule of what types of posts we will publish at what times and should include the person responsible for responding to comments. It is important to publish content regularly, as in, 3-4 times per week if you want to maintain your reputation. If you are at a loss for what kind of content to publish, take a look at your competitors and what is working for them (only do not copy their tactics, learn from them). Facebook Insights has a great tool called “Pages to Watch” that will help you discover which competitors you should be watching:

In your strategy, include the types of posts that encourage your followers to engage positively, such as questions, quizzes, and calls-to-action, like, “Have you recently had an appointment with us? We’d love to know what you think about our care. Review us now at the link below!” Also, include posts that highlight the positive things about your practice. The reason you are publishing content is to proactively create a positive perception about your practice that pushes any negative perceptions that your patients may have out the door!

Finally, you may want to include some important reminders for online reputation management in your strategy, especially if you will be having your staff do the publishing. For example, remind staff to “pause before they post” and check for grammatical errors as well as topics to avoid. The last thing you want is for your reputation to be tainted by something as simple and easy to fix as a grammatical error. Read and re-read our posts. We use Grammarly at Beacon and it is an especially helpful tool for catching these errors. As for topics to avoid, not only should your staff be thinking about no-no topics for your practice, but current trends, news, and cultural perceptions that could cause something they say to be misconstrued. For example, we were writing a post about visiting a particular national park last week until we saw the news that there had just been an accident at that location. Run your post by your fellow professionals, especially if you are unsure. In fact, if you are unsure, it is probably best that you do not publish the post at all and come up with something different. We know that it is a hassle, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

4. Engage with Followers

A significant part of online reputation management on social media is responding to the people who engage with your content! This shows that you are active, listening, and credible. Social media is not unlike any other sphere for social communication. Imagine if you never answered emails, phone calls, were never in office when people came to visit, or only talked about yourself in conversation. What would that do to your reputation? On social media, 32% of followers expect a response within 30 minutes and 42% within 60 minutes. Have a plan to check your practice’s social media platforms throughout the day and respond to comments and messages as they come. In your response, be as friendly, transparent, and as human as possible. Avoid canned, robotic responses, even to negative comments.

5. Optimize Your Profiles

Have you ever visited a social media account and felt like, “Wow, this practice really has their act together.” It is actually surprisingly easy to achieve this reputation for your practice! Take a look at your social media profiles and make sure you have all of the important pieces in place, the profile picture, cover photo, about, bio, description–Fill in all of the gaps. Make sure all of these pieces are consistent, using your colors, logo, fonts, imagery, and voice. Practices look credible and trustworthy when “everything is in its place.” As an example, take a look at the profile picture and cover photo of one of the social media accounts we manage below. Although we are currently running a particular campaign for this client, everything is consistently branded:

We recently wrote a blog on how to optimize your Instagram profile. Take a look if you would like to learn more about this topic.

6. Monitor and Adapt

After everything is in place and your strategy is up and running, it is important that you track the effectiveness of your plan. It is now standard practice for just about every social media platform to provide some form of data analytics. Monitor these analytics and adapt where necessary. See what your audience likes and does not like and continue to refine your ideas about how to effectively manage your online reputation on social media. Although there is a lot of science to social media, it is also an art. Be flexible and willing to change your tactics for your audience if you need to.

Tools for Monitoring

There are a couple tools you can be using to monitor your online reputation in addition to the tools available on your social media platforms. You can setup Google Alerts to tell you when anyone is publishing content about your business, your competitors, or your industry. This is important for finding social media platforms where people are talking about you and you should establish a presence. Social media management tools like Hootsuite allow you to view posts, comments, and messages that mention you or use keywords or hashtags pertaining to your practice on all of your platforms, all in one dashboard. These tools can help you never miss a message.

A lot of groups have done great things for their online reputation by responding to posts in which their followers mention the name of their group, but do not tag them. When followers do not tag you, they do not necessarily anticipate your response. You can look really on top of the ball by responding to these, making your followers feel like, “Wow, they were listening!” Responding to mentions turns around negative feedback and rewards positive feedback, reinforcing this behavior.

A Note on the Negative (Reviews, Posts, Comments, etc.)

Negative feedback is something no one wants to deal with, but how you handle the negative speaks volumes for the reputation of your functional medicine practice! After years of working in the social media space, we have learned a few things about how to respond to negative reviews, posts, and comments. Here are some pieces of advice:

  • Don’t take it personally. This can be particularly difficult for people who genuinely care about what they are doing. We get it. That said, a lot of people don’t realize that they are talking to people behind-the-scenes when they talk to social media accounts. They are angry with their situation and your practice is the face they have chosen to blast with their woes.
  • Use the 20-minute rule. If you are becoming angry or upset, pause and take a breather so that you can respond instead of reacting. Be the bigger person and keep your practice’s reputation intact!
  • It’s okay to hide, delete, and report. In some cases, especially where vulgarities and disparaging language is being used or the commenter is being irrelevant and ridiculous, you should absolutely hide that comment from your wall and possibly report it. Use your best judgment.
  • Be willing to improve. If the negative feedback being given touches on the truth and is a real service issue that you need to take care of, be willing to make changes to your practice and demonstrate that you are taking feedback to heart on social media! This will do powerful things for your reputation and possibly win the commenter over as a follower for life!
  • Focus on the positive. Be kind and friendly and look for opportunities to turn negative feedback into a positive interaction. We recently had the opportunity to do this with one of our clients in the example below.

Due to the advent of the digital age and social media, reputation management has moved online and is open to everyone. It is now more important than ever for all industries, including functional medicine, to participate in online reputation management! By having a plan that is firmly rooted in policy and strategy documents and backed by a firm understanding of social media, functional medicine practices can rise to the occasion and rock their online reputation. If you are a functional medicine practice and would like to work with an expert partner on your social media, give us a call! We have years of experience working in the field of health and wellness that we would love to share with you and your practice.

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How Hospitals can Counteract Inaccurate Crowdsourced Ratings | 

How Hospitals can Counteract Inaccurate Crowdsourced Ratings |  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Crowdsourced ratings of the "best overall" hospitals produce scores similar to Hospital Compare's ratings, but crowdsourced ratings are less reliable as indicators of clinical quality and patient safety, recent research shows.


The research, which was published in the journal Health Services Research, examined hospital ratings on Facebook, Google Reviews, and Yelp. The findings show crowdsourced ratings reflect patient experience rather than other factors.


"For the most part, what we found is that the social media scores tell us about patient experience, but they don't tell us about the best and worst hospitals on the basis of clinical quality or patient safety," the lead author of the research, Victoria Perez, PhD, told HealthLeaders last week.





The study has significant implications for how patients should view crowdsource ratings, said Perez, who is an assistant professor at Indiana University in Bloomington. "We wish that people would understand that even if hospitals are not scoring well on Facebook in user reviews, they could have excellent clinical scores."



If a hospital has generated negative reviews on a crowdsourcing site, there are ways to counteract the negative publicity, Perez said. "Hospitals can advertise that they score well on Hospital Compare and establish marketing strategies to respond to social media scores."


Hospital leaders also need to be aware that crowdsourcing scores are based largely on patient experience, she said.


"If hospitals are worried that patients are just looking at social media scores, they need to realize the scores reflect patient experience rather than clinical quality and patient safety. Other than advertising they don't have a lot of control over this. The options are marketing and engaging on the social media platform."



There are ways to shift the online focus of patients toward clinical quality and patient safety, Perez said.


"Hospitals can share Hospital Compare clinical quality and patient safety scores on their homepage, on their Facebook page, and on Twitter. Many hospitals have a social media presence, so they can definitely share clinical quality and patient safety information, and they can encourage patients to look at Hospital Compare."



The research, which examined data from nearly 3,000 acute care hospitals, has several key findings:

  • For best-ranked hospitals on the crowdsourcing sites, 50% to 60% were ranked best in Hospital Compare's overall rating.
  • For best-ranked hospitals on the crowdsourcing sites, 20% ranked worst in Hospital Compares overall rating.
  • For clinical quality and patient safety, hospitals ranked best on crowdsourced sites were only ranked best on Hospital Compare about 30% of the time.


Perez said Hospital Compare, which combines as many as 57 metrics for patient experience and clinical quality, was used to gauge the accuracy of the crowdsourcing sites for several reasons.


"The clinical quality and patient safety measures are based on Medicare claims data, which means there is a lot of information about patients and they can do risk adjustment," she said of Hospital Compare.


Risk adjustment is crucial when comparing hospitals, Perez said. "Rather than being concerned that some hospitals are treating a sicker pool of patients and have worse outcomes as a result, the Hospital Compare data can be adjusted for the health of the patient mix."


The crowdsourcing sites are more prone to bias, she said. "A concern when you look at social media is that people only write reviews when they have really good or really bad patient outcomes."

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Are You on the Right Platform? A Conjoint Analysis of Social Media Preferences in Aesthetic Surgery Patients |

Are You on the Right Platform? A Conjoint Analysis of Social Media Preferences in Aesthetic Surgery Patients | | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media has become an indispensable tool for patients to learn about aesthetic surgery. Currently, procedure-specific patient preferences for social media platforms and content are unknown.


To evaluate social media preferences of patients seeking aesthetic surgery.


We utilized a choice-based conjoint analysis survey to analyze the preferences of patients seeking three common aesthetic procedures - breast augmentation (BA), facial rejuvenation (FR) and combined breast/abdominal surgery (BAB). Participants were asked to choose among social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube), information extent (basic, moderate, comprehensive), delivery mechanism (pre-recorded video, live-video, photographs, text description), messenger (surgeon, nurse/clinic staff, patient) and option for interactivity (Yes/No). The survey was administered using an Internet crowdsourcing service (Amazon Mechanical Turk©).


A total of 647 participants were recruited: 201 in BA, 255 in FR and 191 in BAB. Amongst attributes surveyed, participants in all three groups (BA, FR, BAB) valued social media platform as the most important (30.9%, 33.1%, 31.4%), followed by information extent (23.1%, 22.9%, 21.6%), delivery mechanism (18.9%, 17.4%, 18%), messenger (16%, 17%, 17.2%) and interactivity (11.1%, 9.8%, 11.8%). Within these attributes, Facebook ranked as the preferred platform, with comprehensive information extent, live-video as the delivery mechanism and surgeon as the messenger as most preferred.


The choice of social media platform is the most important factor for patients, with a preference for comprehensive information delivered by the surgeon via live-video on Facebook. Our study elucidates social media usage in common aesthetic populations, which can help improve aesthetic patient outreach.

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Integrated print/digital campaigns could be what the doctor ordered for pharma marketers


Pharma marketers, like marketers in just about every industry, are pouring more and more of their dollars into digital channels.

A small but growing number are even eyeing new technologies like AR and VR to engage consumers, but according to a new report by CMI/Compas, marketers might not want to ditch traditional channels when it comes to physician engagement.

“While there are always new opportunities in the digital space, there are still plenty of people out there who are still highly valuing print, still highly valuing direct mail,” Kyle Cooper, the associate director of media at CMI/Compas, told Fierce Pharma.

How much do physicians value print? One study incorporated into CMI/Compas’ report found that 66% of healthcare professionals said print journals were important for staying abreast of new medical developments, making them the third-most important medium.

CMI/Compas believes that print’s staying power might ironically be a result of the sea of digital resources physicians and other healthcare professionals have access to. Because print publications, including journals, have traditionally been seen as reputable, trusted sources of information, members of the medical community still seek them out, meaning they can, if used correctly, offer pharma marketers the ability to cut through the digital clutter.

That’s an especially big deal for pharma marketers given that physicians are increasingly elusive.

Interestingly, CMI/Compas found that the appeal of print exists across generations. According to CMI/Compas’ Cooper, millennial physicians, for instance, peruse print just as much as Gen X physicians.

Millennial physicians peruse print as much as Gen X

How pharma marketers can maximize the print opportunity


To make the most of print campaigns, pharma marketers need to do a number of things.

Target the right publications and deliver the right messages

The need to target the right channels – in this case print publications – and deliver messaging relevant to the target audience is just as critical in the print realm as it is in the digital realm.

This said, while bigger is often better online, that apparently isn’t the case in print. Specifically, CMI/Compas found that when larger ads were used across journal ads with eight different target audiences, prices shot up but gains didn’t. As a result, it suggests that pharma marketers consider running smaller ads at higher frequencies.

Integrate digital

There’s no reason pharma marketers should treat print campaigns as being separate from their digital campaigns. In fact, in many if not most cases, they’ll want to do the opposite by using print campaigns to support broader campaigns in other channels, including digital.

For example, print ads can drive traffic to digital properties on which pharma marketers can make calls to action, such as submitting a form to access additional content. To track the performance of print ads and ensure accurate attribution, pharma marketers should ensure that their print ads use custom campaign-specific URLs.

Focus on what physicians want

In trying to leverage print ads to drive physicians to digital channels in which they can be further engaged, pharma marketers need to ensure that they have a good understanding of what physicians want.

While pharma’s reputation, even among physicians, has taken a hit in recent years, physicians have expressed an interest in content produced and distributed by pharma. Specifically, physicians have indicated that they are interested in efficacy and outcome data, as well as clinical guidelines. Unfortunately, according to Deloitte, many pharma companies are failing to take advantage of this.

Integrated print-digital campaigns give pharma marketers the perfect opportunity to change that.

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FDA Taps Social Media to Identify and Assess Emerging Drug Abuse Threats

FDA Taps Social Media to Identify and Assess Emerging Drug Abuse Threats | Social Media and Healthcare |

As the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tackles the opioid crisis head on, one of the organization's goals is to identify emerging trends of drug abuse and intervene more quickly. A perspective piece published in the New England Journal of Medicine highlighted the tools the agency will use to evaluate these shifting patterns of substance abuse and reduce public risk. 

The agency continues to battle the nation's opioid problem even as it looks to detect and prevent the next threat. Douglas C. Throckmorton, MD; Scott Gottlieb, MD; and Janet Woodcock, MD, all of the FDA, noted that the agency is committed to using a multifaceted approach of pharmacovigilance that allows it to intercede proactively and effectively to anticipate changes in drug abuse.



For instance, use of gabapentinoids tripled between 2002 and 2015, raising concerns about possible abuse. To determine why usage patterns are shifting, the FDA turned to social media, tracking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, and forums to monitor for conversations about opioids and other substances. Sources include online forums that deal with drug abuse, such as and This surveillance revealed a shift between 2013 and 2017, from discussions about the legitimate use of gabapentinoids to discussions on the misuse and abuse of these drugs.

The agency is also investigating healthcare databases to determine the adverse consequences of using gabapentinoids in combination with opioids or benzodiazepines, which include respiratory depression. Data indicate that more than half of patients receive a gabapentinoid along with an opioid analgesic.




Another example of change in drug use is the emergence of kratom, which is available online and in stores specializing in tobacco and marijuana paraphernalia. Calls to poison control centers regarding kratom exposure have increased 10-fold since 2010. As a result, the FDA investigated kratom and found that it contains compounds that have opioid properties. Injuries and deaths have been associated with kratom use.

Changes have also been identified in the use of loperamide, a common over-the-counter opioid product. Loperamide is an effective treatment for diarrhea, but social network data indicate that some individuals have begun using loperamide at very high doses to manage opioid withdrawal or achieve a high. The FDA announced in 2016 that serious heart problems and death can occur in those taking high doses of this drug. The agency has begun working with manufacturers and distributors to limit the amount of drug packaged per sales unit.

The FDA has invested in developing new resources to combat drug misuse and continues to access and mine social media for epidemiologic data that may help it to identify the next wave of drug abuse.


Throckmorton DC, Gottlieb S, Woodcock J. The FDA and the next wave of drug abuse—proactive pharmacovigilanceN Engl J Med. 2018;379:205-207.

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How to Use Video Marketing for Your Medical Device

How to Use Video Marketing for Your Medical Device | Social Media and Healthcare |

It’s no surprise that it’s easier to sell someone on a product or service when you are able to directly communicate with them, face to face. In-person appointments or meetings allow individuals to connect one-on-one with patients and customers to establish trust, build familiarity and establish a sense of comfort and ease. However, in-person sessions are not always an option when time, budget and location are considered.

Video is the next best thing.

Video marketing allows companies to showcase what makes their medical devices special, tell stories of life-changing transformation and show the benefits of the device, not in clinical terms, but in the bright eyes and big smiles of the patients and customers who have been positively impacted most.

Here Are Three Ways To Use Video To Market Your Medical Device:

  1. Testimonial reel: Gather together 3-5 raving fans of the company to speak about why they love this particular device and how it makes a difference for themselves or their patients. When asked how the device has impacted themselves or their patients, they will light up and tell animated stories that will emotionally connect with other prospective customers and patients.
  2. Technical instructions: Create a series of videos that show how to use the device to keep customers and patients engaged, educated and satisfied. Knowing how to use the device and being able to train others or easily reference instructions will increase ease-of-use, reduce frustration and allow for more scalable growth for the company.
  3. Storytelling: The most important aspect of marketing nowadays is the story being told. Healthcare companies have an enormous opportunity to capture the life-changing devices being utilized each day to improve the lives of customers and patients. Use those stories to fuel marketing messages via interviews and before and after cases.
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How much health information on social media is safe to consume? »

How much health information on social media is safe to consume? » | Social Media and Healthcare |

Because social media is free and accessible, everyone’s putting out tips and knowledge on virtually everything. Including your grandma (WhatsApp, duhh). In the same way, information in specialised fields like medicine and healthcare have now been made available, and medical practitioners have tapped into the social media health tips grapevine.

People are actively discussing health issues on social media, whether it’s endometriosis or a migraine, and Nigerian Twitter especially has valorised  healthcare professionals into the internet’s hall of fame. Last year, I listened to a radio show wherein Dr. Ola Brown (@NaijaFlyingDr on Twitter) enlightened listeners on breast cancer. “All the information you need is on my pinned tweet,” she said.

Dr. Brown is the founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria, a social enterprise providing air ambulance services to health institutions in West Africa. Her Twitter feed can be a seemingly innocuous tableau of medical information; yesterday, it was about kidney stones. She has inadvertently spawned a whole sub-genre of influencer, the ‘Healthertainer’, a social media influencer who uses humour and their medical knowledge as a way to grow social media audiences. “I shake health tables for a living,” reads the Twitter bio of Dr. Nonso aka Aproko Doctor, who was recently asked about his medical opinion on anal sex by a woman.

Stop anal sex if it becomes painful

— Dr Nonso (Aproko Doctor) (@aproko_doctor) August 28, 2018

But methodology in disseminating health information differs. Dr. Harvey Olufunmilayo, for example, is known for debunking myths and creating meme-inserted Twitter threads. His latest myth-busting attempt was on blue balls, which got a humour-tinged disapproval from men in the context of flouting the “bro code.”

To boys who tell ladies they are having very severe stomach pains from not having sex:
Your day of reckoning has come 

That line is an ABSOLUTE lie 

No man ever gets severe acute stomach ache from not having sex.
And NO, not having sex has NO LONG TERM DAMAGES to a man.

— YourFavOnlineDoctor (@DrOlufunmilayo) August 27, 2018

Medical Twitter, as some call it, has given rise to friendly online relationships between doctors and a hermetically flourishing community. As someone who reads these health tips every day, or come across them in my social media feed, it amazes me how it’s all so beguilingly consumed. It bothers me that anyone can claim they are a trained doctor and propagate dangerous falsehoods. It bothers me, also, that a trained doctor can still propagate or reinforce old-fashioned or out-of-date health practices.

READ MORE: This weekend’s refereeing decision shows its time for the Premiership to embrace VAR

There are three reasons why this new trend of ‘Healthertainers’ is worrying. First, Nigeria is already a country where very few people would go see a doctor at the first sign of illness or distress, public hospitals in Nigeria are horrifying places, many of them have gained the unfair reputation of being death traps. As such social media health influencers circumvent the very important physical examination that is necessary to properly diagnose illness and give diagnoses based on hearsay, which can be dangerous for patients with real illnesses. Second, the ultimate objective of the ‘healthertainer’ is endorsements, either from Non-profit organizations or pharmaceutical companies. There are no ethics or rules that forces these social media doctors to disclose when they are praising a drug or giving a diagnosis that is sponsored by a brand, they could very easily mislead gullible followers who trust their motives are altruistic. Finally, a good number of these ‘Healthertainers’ routinely break doctor-patient confidentiality by telling real stories about patient consultations in their bid to come across as relatable. This is unfair to the patient and in more civilized countries would cost the doctor in question their license.


Social media is bursting with information, and sometimes a little Google consultation can help in separating facts from inaccuracies. WhatsApp, notoriously, is the conduit for all kinds of health-related fake news. Facebook, too. We can’t stop the expanding morass of health information dumped on social media platforms, but we can at least apply a dose of harmless skepticism.

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How pharma is embracing digital - An ex-agency, now pharma side perspective - 

How pharma is embracing digital - An ex-agency, now pharma side perspective -  | Social Media and Healthcare |

I started my career nearly a quarter of a century ago at Boehringer Ingelheim. A 4-year stint in marketing and market research taught me so much and gave me an invaluable start, but left me frustrated, and wondering if the scale of these big pharma organisations, their structure, their history and their regulations would ever allow true innovative thinking to flourish.

Fast forward 20 years, and having spent most of the intervening period working pharma agency side with a focus on digital and technology innovation, pockets of progress along the way did little to fuel the fire of my expectations!

So, when I joined GSK 9 months ago I asked myself 2 big questions;

  1. What really makes pharma so slow to adopt innovative ways of thinking?

  2. Is pharma aware of the changing world around them and doing something about it?


Why so slow? The Big Bus

I’m in a global role at one of the bigger pharma companies, and only now do I appreciate the sheer scale of these operations. People who work in pharma companies are busy. They’re busy because they are working on multiple projects at once, and each project has multiple stakeholders involved in it from multiple parts of the business. Some of these projects can feel trivial especially to observers from outside, but of course they’re important to the people involved and are all building blocks of organisations that continue to be successful and highly profitable despite our challenging and changing times.

History, structure and regulations (especially) still weigh heavily and in many cases rightly so, but I almost sense the biggest factor behind the ‘slow’ façade is the word project itself. Without necessarily labelling it, big pharma has always employed a Waterfall approach to how it does business and how it runs projects. This works for pharma and fits with their DNA, but its rigid structure can enable a slow pace of progress.


Addressing the changing world. The Big (Bendy) Bus

Pharma has embraced digital and innovation, I don’t think anyone would disagree, but it is also fair to say that to date they have done so at a somewhat slow and steady pace compared with many other business sectors.

Looking out from the inside now, I must say that awareness of the changing world is high and that this is married with a commitment to change and innovate along with it.

New partnerships are being formed, expertise is being brought in from outside pharma and innovation hubs are everywhere to be seen. The biggest change for me though goes back to that word project.

‘Agile’ is a term that has been around for a long time now, but one I really see taking roots now….and the right roots at that! No longer just seen as a ‘techy’ way of running projects, but seen as the ethos it should be running through a business. A way of working that allows flexible thinking to flourish and a test & learn approach to be applauded.

This is leading to a real change in the pace that digital and innovation is being embraced by pharma, and I think everyone involved in the industry should be excited about this. From the very top, pharma is beginning to embrace this new way of thinking. It will take time. The front of the bus is already bendy, but I believe the rest will catch on sooner than you might think!

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UK pharma Code of Practice to change with digital times - 

UK pharma Code of Practice to change with digital times -  | Social Media and Healthcare |

K pharma industry organisation the ABPI has unveiled proposed changes to its Code of Practice, aimed at reflecting changes industry practices and relations with healthcare professionals.

There are 45 proposed amendments to the Code in total in the consultation, covering a wide range of industry practices. These include the growth of conditional marketing licences, discussions with the NHS about 'service redesign', the certification of digital materials, the provision of services and genetic tests to the NHS, as well as updates to how healthcare professionals are asked to disclosure payments from pharma.

Mike Thompson, chief executive of the ABPI, said: “In the 60th anniversary year of the ABPI Code, the 70th anniversary of the ABPI and the 25th anniversary year of the PMCPA, we are proud to launch this open-to-all consultation.

The ABPI's Mike Thompson

“The views of those we work with are very important to us - including the NHS, health professionals, patient organisations, regulators and government as well as the pharmaceutical industry.

“We look forward to receiving contributions and comments on this important consultation.”

One notable amendment aims to clarify the marketing of medicines granted a conditional licence, an increasingly common occurrence, especially in cancer therapies. The proposed changes clarify that a conditionally approved treatment can be promoted, but that it must be clearly communicated that it is approved on a conditional licence.

Another amendments is looking to free-up the compliance process within pharmaceutical companies.

The current code of practice states that printed promotional material based off an already-certified digital version still requires a subsequent signatory.

However, the new amendment proposes removing this rule, to allow the printed material to be checked by an appropriately qualified person, rather than a signatory.

Speeding up the compliance process was also tried and tested following the Code’s 2016 amendment, which only required one suitably qualified person to sign off on promotional materials, abolishing the previous two-signatories rule.

Despite the close attention paid to complying with Code, some major transgressions still regularly occur. Earlier this year, Martindale Pharma, Pierre Fabre, Janssen and Pharmasure were all named in adverts following serious breaches the Code. These cases included instances of promoting an unapproved medicine and providing healthcare professionals with a hamper of chocolates.

Heather Simmonds, director of the PMCPA, said: “The ABPI Code of Practice is a living document, which is regularly updated. It reflects UK law and other requirements, such as international and European Codes to support high quality patient care. We always welcome views on its content and operation to ensure high standards and that confidence in self-regulation is maintained."

Once the consultation closes, the ABPI Board will agree on final proposals, which will be voted on by the ABPI and member companies. The code is also expected to see further changes next year to remain in line with changes from the IFPMA and EFPIA codes.

The updated code is expected to come into operation at the beginning of January 2019, with a proposed transition period until the end of April 2019.

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Sharing Health Information on Social Media

Sharing Health Information on Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is widely used for exchanging news, photos and opinions. But today, it’s also being used by patients to share health information with their physicians.

Some 65 percent of millennials and 43 percent of all adults think it’s okay to contact doctors about health concerns by posting on their social media pages or through direct messaging, according to a 2018 American Osteopathic Association survey. And 54 percent of millennials and 42 percent of all adults would like to friend or follow their providers on social media. But is that wise?

Aside from privacy issues, social media “can lack the subtle emotions that help give context to information being shared, which can cause the meaning of messages to be misinterpreted,” says Jay Bhatt, DO, the American Hospital Association’s senior vice president and chief medical officer.

But while patients should not send their physician a photo of their rash over Facebook or post private health information, there is some value to connecting with providers online.

A medical practice’s social media presence may provide a window into what the physician or practice values, which allows patients to determine whether those values are consistent with their own, says Vineet Arora, MD, an academic hospitalist at UChicago Medicine.


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