Social Media and Healthcare
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Beware of social media messages on diseases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
#Formdox integrates perfectly with several #functionalities for the monitoring
cctopbuilders's comment, April 26, 6:01 AM
Shala Wedikom's curator insight, September 27, 5:05 PM

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Facebook's Head of Health Wants Medical Researchers to Utilize Patient's Social Life Data

Facebook's Head of Health Wants Medical Researchers to Utilize Patient's Social Life Data | Social Media and Healthcare |

Facebook’s head of health research has argued that doctors need information patient’s social lives. In a conference on Wednesday, Dr. Freddy Abnousi spoke about the lack of data in this regard.

“The primary driver of health outcomes in the United States are social and behavioral variables,” he said at the Manoca Summit in Minneapolis. “Really understanding what these social determinants of health care should be our primary area of focus.”
Abnousi didn’t outright say it, but the implication is that hospitals could share data with it or vice versa. In fact, Abnousi led a secret research project with that exact goal earlier in the year. He sought anonymized patient data from hospitals to match with social media users via hashing.

However, the project was put on hold before any deals were signed. Facebook came under huge scrutiny after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and would have struggled to argue that it could keep such data safe.

An Unnecessary Solution?

Abnousi seems passionate about this despite the recent compromise of up to 50 million Facebook accounts. However, some professionals are skeptical about how much use the social media would be.

Facebook’s previous approach was to work with medical groups to share the data of their most vulnerable patients.


“There are more humanistic and reliable ways to acquire this information,” said Dan Gebremedhin, physician and a health investor at Flare Capital Partners, at the time.  “How about asking the patient, their healthcare proxy, or the primary care provider? Given the variability in user activity on Facebook, I’m not sure that this information would be correlated and accurate at the patient level.”

There are some concerns that the company wants to utilize such data to deliver things such as medical ads. However, even without that, it’s unclear how anonymous the data would be.

A previous study of ‘anonymous’ Washing State healthcare data found that it could be correlated with newspaper stories. This netted a correct identification 43% of the time. It’s not hard to imagine why users wouldn’t trust a company that has leaked their data several times.

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Texting Etiquette 101: Messaging Patients Without Ticking Them Off

Texting Etiquette 101: Messaging Patients Without Ticking Them Off | Social Media and Healthcare |
Texting is a wonderful way to communicate with patients, but despite the seemingly informal medium, it's important that you operate with some decorum.

People love texting. It's the most popular communication method in the United States. But that doesn't mean people are open to all kinds of texting.

It's a convenient way to message people, but you still need to be mindful. The goal of texting patients is to make their lives easier, not to frustrate them.

With that, here are a few ways you can message patients without ticking them off.
Get Consent
Tempting as it may be, you can't go texting patients whenever you feel like it. There are laws against this type of behavior.

No, seriously, there's a law to prevent unauthorized texting. You cannot text patients any marketing or billing messages without written consent.

Healthcare information, on the other hand, is quite okay — you do not, legally, need consent to send, say, an appointment reminder.

However, it's best to gain consent for all your messaging. Remember, the goal here is to communicate with patients in a way that won't tick them off. And, even if it's legal, some folks just don't to be texted.
Timing is Everything
Much like every other facet of life, when it comes to texting with patients, timing is everything.

Be mindful of when you send your text messages. Some patients may enjoy receiving a notification at 9 p.m., while others may wonder why on Earth their dentist, of all people, is chirping them after sundown.

A best practice for texting patients is to keep it within working hours. You wouldn't call a person late at night, after your practice was closed, so why text them?

One area where you can waver is day-of appointment reminders. There's often little harm in setting a text reminder for 7 or 8 a.m. on the day a patient needs to come in. They'll appreciate that little reminder before setting out on the busy day ahead.
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MGMA18: What every doctor needs to know about social media, according to ‘KevinMD’ 

MGMA18: What every doctor needs to know about social media, according to ‘KevinMD’  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Kevin Pho, M.D., is an internal medicine physician. But he’s probably best known as “KevinMD,” the doctor who is the founder and editor of the website that bills itself as “social media’s leading physician voice.”

His website,, provides a forum for thousands of physicians to write about topics that range from how to achieve financial success, to the lessons learned from dying patients to surviving a medical liability lawsuit.


“One reason why I became a doctor was to give patients a voice—a voice when they are at their most vulnerable. Clinicians also needed a voice and that’s one of the reasons why I started KevinMD. I wanted to be their voice," said Pho, who advised doctors and practice managers on how to harness social media to help transform healthcare at the Medical Group Management Association annual conference in Boston last week. 

Social media provides doctors with a way to connect with patients and to be heard, said Pho, who practices in Nashua, New Hampshire, and has over 140,000 people subscribed to his email alerts that direct them to the site’s latest content.

His social media journey began in 2004 when his brother-in-law commented that he had lots of opinions and told him he should start a blog. “I had no idea what a blog was,” Pho said. “Honestly, I wasn’t sure where this was going to go or how long this was going to share.”

It was when he wrote about the recall of the drug Vioxx over safety concerns and reassured patients there were other options that he said he realized the tremendous potential of social media to connect with patients. Yet lots of doctors are reluctant to jump into the social media pool, he said.

They are skeptical, say they don’t have the time and don’t see how it will make a difference. But today, not having an online presence isn’t an option, he said, citing three ways social media can benefit practices.

Among them:

Social media can strengthen the clinician-patient relationship. Seven out of 10 internet users use the web to look for healthcare information, Pho said. With 72% of people looking online for health information, the problem is “fake news” or unreliable information.

“Fake news is not only a problem in politics; misinformation online is a problem in healthcare,” he says. For instance, parents who look for information about infant sleep will find that fewer than half of the websites are accurate.


Doctors can be a filter for all that information for their patients and use social media to educate them, he said. For instance, California pediatrician Robert Hamilton, M.D., has a YouTube video on how to calm a crying baby that’s been viewed over 1.8 million times. An orthopedic surgeon in New York City, Howard Luks, M.D., answers patients’ common questions on his website.

Social media can define an online reputation. Social media is also a powerful way to define your online reputation, Pho said. 

More than 40% of people look online for information about physicians. Clinicians should Google themselves once a week and see what comes up because that is what patients are doing, he said.

RELATED: 5 influential ER docs on Twitter—A scientific approach

On third-party review sites, patients are rating doctors just as they rate books, movies, hotels and restaurants. By creating content online, through social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter, doctors can help control what patients will see. One-third of patients will click on the first result in a search, and fewer than 10% of people will read the second page of results.

Whenever he coaches clinicians, Pho said he advises them to be aware of their privacy settings on social media accounts and use the maximum settings.

Clinicians should create a bio and post a high-resolution photo that will come up in a search. Create a professional presence on a site such as LinkedIn or Doximity, the social media site for physicians. Take a few hours to do that and then stop. You can take an incremental and cautious approach as you start to use social media.

There is a return on investment with social media, he said. “Finding and connecting with new patients is by far the most powerful and direct one.”

RELATED: Hospital Impact—To improve patient engagement, leverage the power of digital content

Social media can make doctors’ voices heard. There are stories doctors and other clinicians need to share, Pho said. Those stories can make people realize that doctors are human, too. For instance, a doctor may write about the challenges of being a physician and raising a family. Clinicians may write about burnout and depression and let other healthcare professionals know they are not alone.

Humanizing healthcare professionals and making their voices heard “has emerged as my primary social media goal. KevinMD is now a prominent, public platform,” he said. “I’ve shared hundreds of these stories.”

“The biggest risk of social media is not using it all in healthcare,” he said. “It’s an opportunity we cannot miss.”

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How Nurses Can Prevent Social Media Mishaps Blog

How Nurses Can Prevent Social Media Mishaps Blog | Social Media and Healthcare |

A Houston nurse was fired after allegedly violating HIPAA laws by posting about a patient with measles in an anti-vaccination Facebook group, reports the Dallas News.

While it may seem obvious that nurses should be savvy about patient privacy and social media use, this incident—as well as others—illustrate that more education is needed.

“Nurses need to be aware of the professional reputation they’re creating for themselves and how they’re using online tools,” says Robert Fraser, MN, RN, a primary care nurse, author, and digital health strategist from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. “Social media does provide new opportunities and new ways of approaching how we communicate, but nurses need to reflect on their professional identity and their professional expectations within the workplace.”


Reviewing hospital policies with their staff is one step nurse leaders can take to help prevent these types of incidents.

“What I encourage organizations to do is a) make sure they have a policy and b) that it’s something they revisit over time,” Fraser advises.

Some expectations, such as privacy rules including HIPAA, may already exist within other policies.

Fraser says there is a hierarchy of professional practice obligations and social media connects with all of them.

The highest level of the hierarchy pertains to laws, such as HIPAA, or other federal privacy legislation.

Before a nurse decides to post something on a social media channel, he or she should think about how that tool ties into professional practice.


Rather than restricting employees’ access to social media while they are in the facility (as some organizations do) nurse leaders can model positive use of these tools.

For example, Fraser knows of a hospital that has used Facebook as an additional way of communicating information posted on the intranet or by email. They have also shared photos of nurses (taken with permission and without sharing identifying patient information) to highlight the work staff is doing.

“They were encouraging nurses to follow so that when they were looking at news updates and seeing what might be going on in their social world, they may also be able to engage around the positive professional behaviors that the organization wanted to endorse,” he says.

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Physicians Building a Community Through Social Media

Physicians Building a Community Through Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Doctors can use blogs and other digital outlets to educate patients, build online reputations and, perhaps most importantly, have an outlet for their opinions. 

In 2004, an interaction with a patient changed the way Kevin Pho, MD, thought about social media

Pho’s patient told him how she was comforted by a post on his blog, KevinMD, that outlined alternatives to a medication that recently had been recalled. 

Kevin Pho

“That was really my lightbulb moment, where I can use these media tools to really connect with patients outside of the exam room,” says Pho, an internal medicine physician who has practiced in New Hampshire for the past 15 years.

In the time since that interaction, his website has become a respected social media platform for health care professionals. It has been recognized by major news organizations, including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. 

Pho receives between 20 and 30 unsolicited daily submissions — contributions from physicians, nurses, medical students and patients — and he has published work from more than 2,000 people. Many of contributions focus on seldom-discussed topics that are common in physician experiences but are typically out of public view, such as physician burnout and assisted suicide. 

RELATED: Doctors Need to Stay in Line When Going Online

“I like to share these stories all in one forum and really open up the discussion because, in health care, there are very few issues that everyone agrees on,” Pho says. “I think that using my site as a springboard for both patients and physicians to tell the stories that really open up a discussion and hopefully helps bring everyone together.” 

In Pho’s opinion, there are three major reasons why physicians are motivated to contribute to blogs and other forms of social media: to educate their patients, build their online reputations, and have an outlet for their opinions. 

What: National Health IT Week

When: Oct. 8-12.

About: An awareness week focusing on the value of technology in health care.


The last point, Pho says, is crucial to the representation of physicians overall. 

“A lot of the health care reform topics, the decisions are being made by nonphysicians,” he says. “But I think it’s important for physicians to have their voice and contribute to the health care conversation.” 

While some physicians prefer sharing their voices through well-established sites such as KevinMD, others start by creating their own blogs. One neurologist of 20 years started his blog, Doctor Grumpy in the House, as a way to share the stories he was saving to include in his book. 

“But, as many find out, you don't have time for that,” he says. “So, in 2008, I started this blog to share the stories, and the blog is my book.” 

The physician, who blogs under the pseudonym Ibee Grumpy, MD, says he has maintained his blog because, more than anything else, it is a fun and cathartic hobby.  

RELATED: Five Ways to Promote Your HCO and Reach Potential Patients

“The ad revenue isn't worth the time, maybe $100 a month, so I'm not doing this to get rich,” he says. “I think, like many bloggers, you keep hoping you'll get a big break and become famous and have millions of readers so that you can cut back on the real job hours somewhat, but realistically that really doesn't happen much. After eight years, it's mostly just for the fun of it.” 

He says the biggest challenge of keeping a blog is finding the time to write posts. Second is deciding what to write about. Though his blog is known for its humorous nature, Grumpy says his favorite stories are the ones that are a bit more serious, such as his 2011 post about his first malpractice suit. 

“Getting sued is like cancer — something that happens to other people,” he wrote. “I think all doctors, on a superficial level, know it will likely happen. But you're still blindsided when it happens to you.” 

Jeff Barson, an entrepreneur who has helped establish such medical websites as Uncommon Student MD and Medical Spa MD, believes it is important for physicians to use social media as a way to discuss the issues that matter most to them. 

Barson regularly accepts contributions from physicians and other medical professionals for his websites. In his experience, many physicians are interested in having their voices heard but are unsure of how strongly they can voice their opinions. 

RELATED: Unfavorable Online Reviews a Challenge for Many Physicians

“If you are trying to please everybody, it can be pretty bland,” he says. 

“What generates the most interest is not actually brain surgery — it’s if you are actually interesting,” Barson says. “If you are writing interesting stuff, people will be interested in it. What I tell physicians is, you should be writing the stuff that you want to read.” 

But for some, blogging is less about engaging their audience and more about expressing themselves — a kind of therapy to vent stress and build a community of like-minded followers. For Pho, blogging has always been a way to avoid burnout. 

“I think one way to combat physician burnout is to have a passion outside of clinical medicine,” he says. “Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy seeing patients, of course. I still see patients four days a week. But I think if I saw patients every day, every 15 minutes, dealing with mountains of bureaucratic paperwork, I’d probably get burnt out, too. And let’s face it, patients need more than a frustrated doctor.” 

Pho says many of his contributors use blogging for the same purpose: to connect with others about the challenges of practicing medicine. 

“If you look at some of the recent statistics, about half of doctors are experiencing burnout today,” Pho says. “I’ve shared hundreds of these stories on my site, and they all say how valuable it is to have that platform where they can share stories with each other and let each other know that they are in the same boat. I think it’s tremendously important to let burnt-out doctors know that they are not suffering in silence.” 

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National Health IT Week 2018: Here’s what was said on social media

National Health IT Week 2018 happened around the country and, as usual, plenty of conversation took place in face-to-face events, inside the Beltway, at state capitals and, of course, on social media.

HIMSS Senior Director of Congressional Affairs Samantha Burch explained that 2018 is a transformative year for NHITWeek because the purpose has shifted from proving the value of health technologies to demonstrating the achievements and successes.  

While that may be somewhat different from last year, one aspect did not change: Healthcare is a human story. That plays out each NHITWeek and 2018 was no exception.

Rasu Shrestha MD MBA@RasuShrestha

It's the real stories behind #HealthIT that make our collective efforts come to life.

Read these here, and stay inspired: #IHeartHIT #NHITweek #Aim2Innovate #HCLDR #HDPalooza

This year's themes hit the mark!

Brian Eastwood@Brian_Eastwood

Why do #IHeartHIT? There's so much potential to change the lives of clinical staff and patients - and so many ppl working to solve the challenges that stand in the way.

Also (in a nod to the Southern accents I've been hearing this week) y'all are awesome.#NHITWeek


Powerful stories humanize health information and technology, inspiring us to innovate. What keeps you motivated to help move health IT forward? #IHeartHIT #NHITweek

Pew Health

Up to 1 in 5 patient records may not be accurately matched within the same health care system – and that’s a problem for patient care. Learn more:  #NHITWeek


Echoing the sentiments of Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, and Smash Mouth, we could all use a little change. That’s the theme of #NHITWeek. Learn how Lauren is working to change EHR education and support for the better. #IHeartHIT

Carla Smith@CarlaMSmith

When it's your mom, getting the right care at the right time becomes very personal:  #NHITWeek #IHeartHIT

How My Mom’s Health Story Gave New Meaning to Interoperability #IHeartHIT | HIMSS

A story of how a health IT professional discoverd the true impact of interoperability while caring for his mother.
Rasu Shrestha MD MBA@RasuShrestha

Empathy is the heartbeat of healthcare. When you combine that with curiosity, you get to innovation.@TToddDunn of @Intermountain at @HealthLeaders Innovation Summit. #pinksocks #hcldr #innovation #NHITWeek

Lewis Levy, MD, FACP@lewismlevy

Location, language & longer factors to seeking quality care when traveling abroad.
We make purchases, bank & connect to each other w/confidence from around the globe.
Now we can access quality healthcare from anywhere.
As it should be. #virtualcare #IheartHIT #NHITWeek


That’s really just a taste of all the #IHeartHIT stories told during this National Health Week and year’s past. Read them all here.

The power of technology to improve people’s lives was front-and-center this week and it shared some of the spotlight with social determinants of health.

Bernard J.Tyson, CEO

Everyone can make a difference. More than 1,000 @KPShare IT employees across the country volunteered 4,100 hours planting gardens, cooking/serving meals, sorting food bank produce and more to bring healthy food and nutrition to our communities.#NHITweek

Linda Stotsky@EMRAnswers

I’ve worked in #healthcare for over 25 years, but it was when I entered #HealthIT that I found my passion. The ability to improve outcomes by combining IT systems & services w/ communication processes, still amazes & motivates me EVERY day. #NHITWeek

Mercy Technology Services@MercyTechnology

“Why do I love Health IT? We can use analytics to help doctors make data-driven decisions that improve patient care. With natural language processing, we can pull usable data from doctors’ notes, which make up some 80% of info in patient records.” –Kerry Bommarito, MTS #NHITweek


As noted above, NHITWeek is also a time to demonstrate already-won success stories of using information and technology.

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The evolving role of social media in health-care delivery: measuring the perception of health-care professionals in Eastern Saudi Arabia

The evolving role of social media in health-care delivery: measuring the perception of health-care professionals in Eastern Saudi Arabia | Social Media and Healthcare |


The objective of this study is to evaluate the perception of health-care professionals in Saudi Arabia toward the usages of social media in health-care delivery.


In this cross-sectional study, an online-based questionnaire was distributed among the health-care professionals residing in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia. Their perception toward the uses of social media in health-care service delivery was evaluated by analyzing their attitude toward its benefits and risks involved.


The sample size was 120 participants, and 80% of them agreed with the benefits of using social networks in health-care services and considered that the use of these technologies in the provision of health services improves their professional knowledge and is a suitable tool for patient education and public health awareness. However, some respondents (20%) believed that there are several risks associated with the use of social media, such as ethical or legal challenges, the risk to the patient’s health status, or the breaching of the privacy and confidentiality of the patient.


The results of this research indicate that social media can be a useful tool by which physicians may promote their services and publish general health information. However, there are potential problems in the use of social networks that can have negative consequences for patients and HCPs. This implies that precautions must be taken to avoid ruptures of patient privacy and other risks that can result in legal action against health professionals damaging their image and professional status. The study also found that the participants are willing to use social media for professional purposes.

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Five Ways to Promote Your HCO and Reach Potential Patients

Five Ways to Promote Your HCO and Reach Potential Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

To build a thriving organization, physicians leaders can’t overlook the importance of a cohesive marketing strategy. An industry expert offers advice.

For empowered health care consumers, physicians remain a well-regarded source of information and guidance. Yet when it comes to seeking out that information, the patient journey to find physicians and treatments can be nonlinear and sporadic.

In fact, a 2016 McKinsey and Co. health insurance study found that while patients ranked selecting a provider as their most important health care-related journey, it was also the one where they expressed the least satisfaction, potentially because of the difficulty involved in finding the right doctor.

By connecting prospective patients with the right information through the right channels, physicians can better serve key markets, while driving sustainable success.

While savvy physician leaders understand the importance of promoting their work, many don’t know where to start or simply don’t have the bandwidth to devote to it. As a result, they take a reactive approach to marketing, and much of their remarkable work goes unnoticed. Not only is this detrimental to business, but it is also a disservice to potential patients looking to learn about the latest and greatest in patient care. 

By connecting patients with their valuable work, physicians can establish patient relationships that support better clinical outcomes as well as business performance. Here are five easy steps physicians and their leaders can work proactively with their marketing teams.

Align business and marketing goals with clinical priorities. Before physicians meet with their marketing teams or even engage with a marketer, they need a clear understanding of their clinical strengths. Think about any underused subspecialties or areas for growth in your system, as well as related content that will interest patients. For example, if a gastrointestinal practice wants to boost the number of colonoscopies booked, educational materials on exam prep and patient testimonials can help build trust with potential consumers.

After identifying clinical priorities, clearly defining marketing goals and what marketing success looks like is key. If your goal is to attract new patients, for example, consider your total patient capacity and the expected billing value of each one. Crunching those numbers before rolling out a campaign can help organizations better assess if they’re spending marketing dollars wisely.


Make your content understandable and accessible. Few things turn patients off faster than complicated medical jargon they can’t understand. When prospective patients are seeking advice or information, they need easily digestible answers. While it can be tempting to turn to terminology-laden explanations, using complex language can interfere with a physician’s ability to connect with patients effectively.

Humanizing content with patient testimonials, approachable language and a friendly tone goes a long way toward engaging prospective patients. If your budget allows, video can be a particularly effective way to explain procedures, treatment differentiators and patient results clearly and leave a lasting impression.

Help patients find you with a multichannel marketing strategy. Your patients are everywhere, so you should be, too. Today’s health care consumers often engage with multiple platforms as they seek health care information, with health-related search traffic growing on the web and social media.

As patients go digital for their health care information, diversifying your marketing strategy can help you meet your goals by meeting consumers where they are. When exploring digital marketing avenues, first make sure your website is optimized for mobile. This not only will improve the online experience for potential patients while they are on the go, but also will help the performance of your marketing efforts. With health-related lookups growing on search engines and social media, a multimedium strategy is more critical than ever.


Reputation is a huge part of the patient’s journey. When looking for a new medical provider, referrals can often help turn a prospective consumer into a paying patient. That’s especially true for younger patients; a 2015 survey of 3,000 people by the health care technology firm Nuance found 70 percent of patients ages 18-24 chose a primary care doctor based on recommendations from family and friends, compared with 41 percent of patients 65 and older. On the flip side, a negative reputation can cost you credibility and patients. According to a Digital Assent study in 2013, 85 percent of patients wouldn’t feel comfortable choosing a clinician if more than 10 percent of their reviews were one-star ratings.

As a health care provider, making sure that word of mouth works in your favor is a key part of an effective marketing strategy. With review sites like HealthGradesZocDoc and even Google giving people a window into your practice, encourage your own patients to share their experiences online. If patients are willing, sharing written or video testimonials is also a powerful way to showcase your capabilities. In addition, work with your marketing team to monitor your online presence and address any negative feedback from patients promptly and honestly.

Keep communication ongoing and content fresh. The more patients know about your practice, the more effectively they can use your services and refer others. Keep them updated by email, social media and other channels about new physicians, services, technology advancements, office specials and other practice updates.


In addition to regular patient communications, review your marketing content regularly to ensure you’re still working toward the right goals. Updating pay-per-click ads, social ads, SEO keywords and other assets as subspecialties or services change will help ensure you’re drawing the right kind of traffic. For example, if your orthopedics practice is now focusing on total knee replacements rather than general orthopedics visits, modify your content and keywords accordingly. If your practice reaches capacity, consider refocusing your marketing strategy on building your brand and promoting content as opposed to driving new leads.

Vanessa Vollman O’Donnell is director of the national health care division for California-based ReachLocal, where she manages strategies and campaigns for multilocation health care systems.

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When Digital Devices Distract Doctors, Mistakes Can Happen

When Digital Devices Distract Doctors, Mistakes Can Happen | Social Media and Healthcare |

Digital distraction in healthcare is emerging as a great threat to patient safety and physician well-being.[1] This phenomenon involves the habitual use of personal electronic devices by healthcare providers for nonclinical purposes during appointments and procedures.[2] Some call it “distracted doctoring.” Matt Richtel, a journalist for the New York Times who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on distracted driving, coined the term “distracted doctoring” in 2011. [3] Like driving, attending to a patient’s complex care needs is a high-risk activity that requires undivided attention and presence in the moment to ensure the safety and protection of others.

But the threat might more aptly be called “distracted practice,” as it impacts all healthcare workers and staff. While distraction is particularly concerning in the operating room, emergency room, and critical care areas, it can impact all healthcare settings—including the office practice. Personal electronic devices can create a digital distraction so engaging that it consumes awareness, potentially preventing healthcare providers from focusing on the primary task at hand—caring for and interacting with patients. And the consequences can be devastating.

Our Devices Are Addictive

In today’s electronic culture, it has become unthinkable to be without personal electronic devices. Growing evidence shows that our personal electronic devices and social media are addictive.[4] The reason is dopamine. Our dopamine systems are stimulated by the unpredictable, small, incomplete bursts of information with visual or auditory cues. For example, we are never quite sure when we will receive a text message and from whom. We may keep checking to see who liked our recent Facebook post. And when our devices ding or vibrate, we know our reward is coming. Yet as when gambling or playing the lottery, the anticipation of the reward is (usually) better than the reward itself. This results in more and more of what some call “seeking” and “wanting” behaviors. Then instant gratification encourages dopamine looping, and it becomes harder and harder to stop the cycle.

Distraction can also be both a symptom of and a contributor to healthcare provider stress and burnout. As a symptom of burnout, digital distraction is a way to escape a stressful environment. As a contributor to burnout, digital distraction impedes human interaction because of the sheer volume of data-demanding our attention.

Medical Malpractice Implications

For most healthcare providers, distractions and interruptions are considered part of the job; it is the nature of their work. If we consider healthcare distraction on a continuum, on one end are distractions related to clinical care (e.g., answering team member questions or responding to surgical equipment alarms). On the other end of the continuum are distractions unrelated to clinical care (e.g., making personal phone calls, sending personal text messages, checking social media sites, playing games, or searching airline flights).

From a litigation perspective, the distinction between distractions related to clinical care and those unrelated to clinical care is important. In a medical malpractice claim where there is an allegation that an adverse event was caused by distracted practice, a distraction caused by a clinical-care-related activity may be found to be within the standard of care and is, therefore, often defensible. But where it can be shown that the distraction was caused by non-patient matters, the plaintiff’s attorney will certainly use that against the defendant. In these situations, the defendant’s medical care may not even enter the equation, because during eDiscovery the metadata (i.e., cell phone records, scouring findings from hard drives) serves as the “expert witness.” Even if the defendant’s clinical care was within the standard, the fact that there are cell phone records indicating that the healthcare provider was surfing the Internet or checking personal e-mail may imply distraction and could potentially supersede all other evidence.

Preventing Distractions

Complex problems require a multifaceted approach. Organizations, teams, and individuals all should take responsibility and ownership for reducing the risks associated with digital distraction. The following are risk management strategies to prevent distractions and enhance patient safety.


  • Create awareness

    • Recognize the extent of the problem and risks.
    • Model appropriate personal electronic device use behaviors.
    • Tier communication to batch non-emergent messages.
    • Refrain from sending texts on non-urgent matters.
    • Do not expect immediate responses for non-urgent matters.
  • Educate system-wide

    • Train all healthcare providers and staff at orientation and conduct annual refreshers on safety concerns, legal risks of using personal electronic devices when providing care, device-user etiquette, and the addictive potential of technology.
    • Use simulation-based learning where distractions and interruptions are introduced during high-risk procedures.
    • Use case studies of real-life examples where distraction was alleged to play a role in an adverse event.
  • Deploy technology solutions

    • Manage facility-issued devices.
    • Create technology-free zones.
    • Limit Internet access to work-related sites only—EMR, labs, images, pharmacy formulary, state Rx databases, and decision support/cognitive aids.
  • Enforce

    • Monitor compliance with system-wide protocols and guidelines.
    • Clearly define how personal electronic devices are used in patient care areas.


  • Reinforce situational awareness and mindful practices with your team or department through:
    • Unit-specific protocols: “Sterile Cockpit” and “Below 10,000 Feet” protocols limiting or eliminating non-essential activities during critical phases of procedures and high-risk activities.
    • Empowering every team member to speak up when they have a safety concern. For example, encourage team members to speak up when they notice another member is so focused on a personal electronic device that he or she has lost situational awareness about the patient’s clinical condition.
    • Applying TeamSTEPPS® principles: leadership, situational awareness, mutual support, and communication.
  • Create a process where employees can be reached via a call to a central location, with messages relayed to the employee by a staff member. This alleviates employees’ desire to have their personal electronic devices nearby in case of a family emergency.
  • Monitor compliance as part of the team’s quality measures.


  • Take personal responsibility—ignore distractions, especially during high-risk procedures, and make sure to speak up, set an example, and remain vigilant.
  • Practice situational awareness:
    • Pay attention to what is happening in the present moment.
    • Increase attention, focus, and concentration.
    • Leave your device behind.

New CME Courses Address Distracted Practice Concerns

Two new CME courses from The Doctors Company, How Healthcare Leaders Can Reduce Risks of Distracted Practice in Their Organization and The Risks of Distracted Practice in the Perioperative Area, address addiction to personal electronic devices and provide strategies that individuals and organizations can use to minimize the patient safety risks associated with distractions from these devices.

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Consider All the Variables When Evaluating Your Marketing ROI 

Consider All the Variables When Evaluating Your Marketing ROI  | Social Media and Healthcare |

When you claim an impressive-sounding healthcare marketing ROI for a marketing initiative, are you undermining your credibility by not considering all the variables in your calculation?

“With case volumes slipping and persistent competitive threats to operating margins, many healthcare marketers look to purchase multiple solutions — CRMsdigital marketing services/tools, targeting lists, among others — to gain a strategic advantage in acquiring new patients or retaining market share. While these services or technologies can be helpful, healthcare marketers need to be clear on the true returns they may expect for what they are buying,” says industry veteran and thought leader Jessica Walker.

“This sounds like it should be a straight apples-to-apples comparison, but the truth is that we use the term healthcare marketing ROI across a range of investments and strategies, and how it is calculated is frequently based on inconsistent or subjective data points.

“Healthcare is complicated and there are many variables, making it challenging to build an apples-to-apples ROI. Additionally, it would be inappropriate to claim success using one variable in isolation, as many marketing initiatives operate in tandem with others that support and enhance the outcomes (e.g., a social media campaign running concurrently with a paid search campaign).

“It is critical that healthcare marketers know how to normalize measures of success when deciding which solution will be most likely to support their ultimate goals,” says Walker.

In our new story, Walker takes us through some detailed examples of how marketers could misinterpret information and misstate their true healthcare marketing ROI by not digging deep enough. She warns of the dangers of comparing apples to bananas using the entertaining example of her two banana-loving “monkeys” (8-year-old and 5-year-old sons).

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Increase Your Visibility On LinkedIn By Publishing Articles

Increase Your Visibility On LinkedIn By Publishing Articles | Social Media and Healthcare |

There’s no better or faster way to highlight your expertise, build your personal brand and grow your LinkedIn followers than through creating and sharing high-value content with a strong focus on your topic(s) of expertise. One of the best ways to do this to publish long-form articles directly on your LinkedIn profile.


Why You Should Publish Articles on LinkedIn

To get your content in front of the 467+ million strong member base of LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful marketing opportunity.

When you publish an article on LinkedIn:


  • Your original content becomes part of your professional profile. It is displayed on the Articles section of your LinkedIn profile.
  • Having your blog accessible to ALL the members of the most professional, affluent and well educated social network is great for promoting brand awareness and generating new leads. LinkedIn Publishing is even searchable through Google. 
  • It's shared with your connections and followers in their news feeds, and sometimes through notifications.
  • Members that aren't in your network can follow you from your article, so that your next article will be surfaced in their feeds.


So how can you leverage this opportunity to promote your thought leadership, increase brand awareness and generate more leads? In this article  Marie will show you how to start publishing on LinkedIn right away.


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JMIR-Using Twitter to Examine Web-Based Patient Experience Sentiments in the United States: Longitudinal Study 

JMIR-Using Twitter to Examine Web-Based Patient Experience Sentiments in the United States: Longitudinal Study  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Background: There are documented differences in access to health care across the United States. Previous research indicates that Web-based data regarding patient experiences and opinions of health care are available from Twitter. Sentiment analyses of Twitter data can be used to examine differences in patient views of health care across the United States.

Objective: The objective of our study was to provide a characterization of patient experience sentiments across the United States on Twitter over a 4-year period.

Methods: Using data from Twitter, we developed a set of 4 software components to automatically label and examine a database of tweets discussing patient experience. The set includes a classifier to determine patient experience tweets, a geolocation inference engine for social data, a modified sentiment classifier, and an engine to determine if the tweet is from a metropolitan or nonmetropolitan area in the United States. Using the information retrieved, we conducted spatial and temporal examinations of tweet sentiments at national and regional levels. We examined trends in the time of the day and that of the week when tweets were posted. Statistical analyses were conducted to determine if any differences existed between the discussions of patient experience in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas.

Results: We collected 27.3 million tweets between February 1, 2013 and February 28, 2017, using a set of patient experience-related keywords; the classifier was able to identify 2,759,257 tweets labeled as patient experience. We identified the approximate location of 31.76% (876,384/2,759,257) patient experience tweets using a geolocation classifier to conduct spatial analyses. At the national level, we observed 27.83% (243,903/876,384) positive patient experience tweets, 36.22% (317,445/876,384) neutral patient experience tweets, and 35.95% (315,036/876,384) negative patient experience tweets. There were slight differences in tweet sentiments across all regions of the United States during the 4-year study period. We found the average sentiment polarity shifted toward less negative over the study period across all the regions of the United States. We observed the sentiment of tweets to have a lower negative fraction during daytime hours, whereas the sentiment of tweets posted between 8 pm and 10 am had a higher negative fraction. Nationally, sentiment scores for tweets in metropolitan areas were found to be more extremely negative and mildly positive compared with tweets in nonmetropolitan areas. This result is statistically significant (P<.001). Tweets with extremely negative sentiments had a medium effect size (d=0.34) at the national level.

Conclusions: This study presents methodologies for a deeper understanding of Web-based discussion related to patient experience across space and time and demonstrates how Twitter can provide a unique and unsolicited perspective from users on the health care they receive in the United States.

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The value of online patient reviews

The value of online patient reviews | Social Media and Healthcare |

Online patient reviews on social media sites can be an effective tool in helping dermatology practices market and educate patients about minimally-invasive fat reduction procedures, a new study has found.


Body contouring is one of the fast growing areas of dermatology. According to the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, body sculpting procedures are among the top four treatments patients request. Consequently, knowing what patients do and don’t like about them and how they rate their experiences can help clinicians influence patient choices, study authors say.

“Minimally-invasive and non-invasive fat reduction procedures are rated extensively online,” says study author Sreya Talasila, M.D., a dermatologist with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Aesthetic providers should use this available information to guide decision-making around minimally-invasive technique selection and price setting within their own practices.”

The study, published in Dermatologic Surgery, analyzed 11,871 patient reviews on fat-reduction procedures from the website, a well-known aesthetics platform where patients share their experiences. The website’s reviews, extracted by researchers in 2017, divided patient satisfaction ratings into “worth it” (positive), “not worth it” (negative), and “not sure” (neutral).

For more accurate comparisons, Dr. Talasila says, the team grouped reviews of 13 unique minimally-invasive procedures into five body contouring modality categories: laser, cryolipolysis, injectables, radio frequency, and ultrasound. The ratings only included patient satisfaction feedback and did not offer information about patient demographics, including body mass index, age, or treatment goals.

Investigators also compared these reviews to patient responses on invasive body contouring (traditional liposuction).

The overall intent, Dr. Talasila says, was to determine which body contouring procedures are most popular and accepted among patients, especially newer ones that are used less-widely to date.

“With all the different procedures and the different number of treatments that need to be done, dermatologists should discuss treatment length and cost variability with patients upfront,” she says. “This is a growing field right now, and patients are interested. Clinicians need to be aware and be able to discuss it freely.”

Being knowledgable of online satisfaction assessments can help dermatologists manage patient expectations and set benchmarks for procedure length-of-treatment and outcomes, she says.

According to study results, researchers reviewed 7,170 patient reviews that encompassed all five minimally-invasive procedure categories. The overall satisfaction rating was 58 percent. But, despite being more expensive and more invasive, liposuction, which had 4,645 patient reviews, still had a higher satisfaction rating of 66 percent. The average cost for minimally-invasive procedures ranges from $1,350-$6,025. Liposuction’s price tag can be up to $7,000.

Conversations about cost can be important because minimally-invasive procedures are typically paid for out-of-pocket. Clinicians should be prepared to discuss the possibility that costs may vary for patients based on the individual number of treatments they will need to achieve the desired results, Dr. Talasila says.

In addition, researchers also analyzed and compared patient reviews of tumescent liposuction, a intermediately-invasive fat reduction technique. This procedure, which can be performed in one session, can address larger volume patient cases than minimally-invasive procedures, but it doesn’t require the operating room and anesthetist needed for traditional liposuction. In reviews, patients gave tumescent liposuction a 63-percent satisfaction rating.

Despite having a lower umbrella positive rating than more traditional, extensive techniques, the minimally-invasive procedures still had a median global rating of 81 percent satisfaction. Laser procedures received 3,565 reviews and a 61-percent satisfaction score. Patients completed 2,707 cryoplipolysis reviews, giving the technique a 55-percent satisfaction score. A total of 319 patients reviewed injectable treatments, resulting in a 49-percent satisfaction score. And, 314 patients reviewed radio frequency techniques, and 275 patients expressed opinions about ultrasound, giving these options satisfaction scores of 63 percent and 73 percent, respectively.

The researchers highlighted patient responses for some specific procedures, as well. Zerona, a laser procedure, received 43-percent satisfaction, and CoolSculpting, a cyrolipolysis technique scored a 55-percent satisfaction rating. Kybella (injectable), Liposonix (radio frequency), and UltraShape Power (ultrasound) received satisfaction scores of 49 percent, 43 percent, and 91 percent, respectively.

The study did not delve into the reasons why patients gave positive or negative reviews, however, Dr. Talasila says, noting further research would be necessary to pinpoint their reasons, such as procedural pain or disappointment in effectiveness and results.

“Patient choices are different, and we didn’t parse out the demographic data to further stratify their differences,” she says. “This information could be most helpful for clinical cost setting because cost data is available on RealSelf. It may encourage aesthetic and cosmetic providers to be aware of the website for benchmarking and even modality selection. They need to know what patients are aware of.”

This information could also help clinicians better understand how patients view the benefits and pitfalls of these minimally-invasive procedures from a real-world perspective. Based on data from other industries, Dr. Talasila says, online reviews have been shown to directly impact customer decisions, indicating popularity, consumer demand, and product awareness. Consequently, the more aesthetic providers can tell patients about how other individuals have responded to these body contouring techniques, the more informed the patient’s overall decision will be, she says.

Staying abreast of what patients say online about these medical procedures can also give clinicians the tools they need to correct any misperceptions or misinformation patients gather from searching about fat reduction techniques online. While patient reviews can include factual information about one individual’s experience, not all online resources provide accurate assessments of patient satisfaction or of a procedure’s efficacy and safety.

For example, in a recent study, published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, researchers from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School found the majority of YouTube videos on facial plastic surgery procedures were misleading marketing campaigns. Out of 240 videos with 160 million combined views, only 72 videos included a board-certified physician qualified to accurately assess the procedures and offer information to patients.

Consequently, aesthetic providers should familiarize themselves with online reviews, such as those on, so they will be better prepared to help patients make the right decisions that fall best in line with the patient’s medical history, Dr. Talasila says.

“Social media is one of the easiest ways for people to get reviews of other people’s experiences,” she says. “Clinicians should want to see what information is out there and what their patients are gleaning from it.”


Evers-Metlzer R, Talasila S, Xu S. Social Media Ratings of Minimally-Invasive Fat Reduction Procedure’s: Bench-marking Against Traditional Liposuction, Dermatologic Surgery (2018); doi:10.1097/DSS.0000000000001509

Alaeddin I, Nicheporuck BS, Paskhover B, Ward B, Ward M. Assessments of YouTube as an Informative Resources on Facial Plastic Surgery, JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery (2018); doi:10.1001/jamafacial.2018.0822

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The talk: Younger brain cancer patients provide a model for patient empowerment

The talk: Younger brain cancer patients provide a model for patient empowerment | Social Media and Healthcare |

In a 55-second video that is both playful and profound, patient advocates Liz Salmi and Charlie Blotnerasked Michael Fratkin, MD, a palliative care doctor they know through their advocacy work, to have “the talk” with them.

“We need to have the talk with you about end of life and brain tumors and steroids and swelling, especially related to other cancers and if this looks the same or not,” Blotner says at the beginning of the video, filmed while they were in the car.

Salmi jumped in: “Is dying from brain cancer different from other cancers? We just really want to know what it’s like. We need to have the talk. Like, sometimes ‘the talk’ means how are babies made but we want to know what dying is like... all of our friends are dying, we want to know what’s happening.”

“It was so millennial,” Fratkin told me in a conversation recently. “The way they asked. By text message video. From the car. But I think it is the future of medicine.”

I think he is right. In recent years, medicine has been awash in phrases like “empowering patients” and “patient centric,” intended to demonstrate how the health care system is including and deferring to patients to improve care and design research.

But it is through the day-to-day work of patients like of Salmi, Blotner, and Adam Hayden — and their work with doctors like Fratkin of Resolution Care, who practices palliative care via telemedicine in rural Northern California — that makes a real difference for patients.

Salmi, Blotner, and Hayden all have brain cancers. While Senator John McCain showed us how to live and die gracefully from brain cancer, these much younger patients are showing us that illness does not preclude action that can change the medical system in ways that benefit patients and caregivers.

Salmi, Blotner, and Hayden — using technology and their own initiative — have created networks that provide much needed support to brain cancer patients navigating similar challenges. For example, they organized monthly Twitter chats, Brain Tumor Social Media (#BTSM) for “all things brain tumor & social media.”

They are also contributing to substantive medical research.

Blotner, 23, was diagnosed with a grade II astrocytoma when he was 13. Now working towards a master’s degree in social work, he helps adolescents with chronic illnesses navigate the health care system and works to improve the care of future brain tumor patients as a member of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, and by providing recommendations for the National Brain Tumor Society and Alliance for Childhood Cancer to steer the National Institutes of Health in implementing a new system and standard of care for survivors.

Salmi, a 39-year-old communications specialist diagnosed with a grade II astrocytoma 10 years ago has made — and lost — many friends with brain cancer. She is a communications strategist for OpenNotes, a movement rooted in research advocating for patients to get access to their medical provider’s notes through existing online patient portals.

Hayden, 36, was diagnosed in 2016 with glioblastoma, is a working father of three young children. Along with Salmi, he is a leading member of the Brain Cancer Quality of Life Collaborative, a research collaborative funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Initiative that is exploring better quality of life standards for people living with glioblastoma and other high-grade brain tumors.

After studying the medical literature, Salmi, Hayden and the collaborative recognized there was a gap in palliative care standards for people with brain cancer. They are now building a  team of neuro-oncologists and palliative care clinicians (including Fratkin) to pilot possible best practices.

When Fratkin had “the talk” online with Salmi, Blotner, and Hayden, he told them with humor and kindness — but also truth — that dying from brain cancer can involve weight gain and puffiness due to steroids (a common palliative treatment as reducing brain swelling can help with retention of cognitive function). He also told them about the retreating inward that comes naturally as a person slows down. And he said that the choice about how long to proceed with any form of treatment, cancer focused or palliative, will be entirely theirs.

“Whether it’s Hawaii or the NIH in Bethesda, whatever choice you make will be the right one for you,” Fratkin said.

Patient empowerment is likely the future but it is also the present. Salmi, Blotner, and Hayden give us a model how to do it in a way that truly benefits patients.

Renata Khoshroo Louwers' first husband Ahmad died from bladder cancer in 2014. She is a writer and patient advocate who co-founded of the literary journal Months to Years.

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Social media guidance for physicians taps timeless principles

Social media guidance for physicians taps timeless principles | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media has come a long way since Friendster, permeating every facet of American life—and medicine is no exception. If the decade and a half since Facebook was launched seems like an eternity on the social media timeline, it is but a blip for a guide to physician conduct that debuted more than 150 years ago.

Yet that guide, the AMA Code of Medical Ethics, has quite a bit to say about how physicians should navigate Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and more. Learn how to apply the enduring principles of medical ethics to the quickly moving world of social media.


The Code recognizes both the attraction of social media and the special need for caution when physicians use it.


“Participating in social networking and other similar opportunities can support physicians' personal expression, enable individual physicians to have a professional presence online, foster collegiality and camaraderie within the profession, provide opportunities to widely disseminate public health messages and other health communication,” notes the preamble to Opinion, 2.3.2, “Professionalism in the Use of Social Media.”


“Social networks, blogs and other forms of communication online also create new challenges to the patient-physician relationship,” the Code of Medical Ethics says.


Physicians widely—and, most often, wisely—use social media. It has also been misused, including shared images and other violations of patient privacy, as well as emails and texts that never should have been sent.


CEJA cited three of the nine Principles of Medical Ethics in rendering its opinion on physician use of social media. Those principles include respect for human dignity and rights, honesty and upholding the standards of professionalism, and the duty to safeguard patient confidences and privacy.


The opinion states:


Physicians should weigh a number of considerations when maintaining a presence online:


(a) Physicians should be cognizant of standards of patient privacy and confidentiality that must be maintained in all environments, including online, and must refrain from posting identifiable patient information online.


(b) When using social media for educational purposes or to exchange information professionally with other physicians, follow ethics guidance regarding confidentiality, privacy and informed consent.


(c) When using the internet for social networking, physicians should use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the extent possible, but should realize that privacy settings are not absolute and that once on the internet, content is likely there permanently.


Thus, physicians should routinely monitor their own internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and, to the extent possible, content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate.


(d) If they interact with patients on the internet, physicians must maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship in accordance with professional ethics guidance just as they would in any other context.


(e) To maintain appropriate professional boundaries physicians should consider separating personal and professional content online.


(f) When physicians see content posted by colleagues that appears unprofessional they have a responsibility to bring that content to the attention of the individual, so that he or she can remove it and/or take other appropriate actions.


If the behavior significantly violates professional norms and the individual does not take appropriate action to resolve the situation, the physician should report the matter to appropriate authorities.


(g) Physicians must recognize that actions online and content posted may negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues, may have consequences for their medical careers (particularly for physicians-in-training and medical students) and can undermine public trust in the medical profession.


There’s a CME course for that

A central theme of the guidance in Opinion 2.3.2 has to do with understanding and maintaining boundaries.


The AMA offers a credit-eligible CME course, Boundaries for Physicians: The Code of Medical Ethics, “to help physicians identify and understand how to maintain proper boundaries with their patients and to articulate and understand the underlying importance of those boundaries to the practice of medicine.” The module is free to members ($20 for non-embers) and covers a wide range of situations, including social media.

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In the Social Media Age Patient Surveys are More Important Than Ever

In the Social Media Age Patient Surveys are More Important Than Ever | Social Media and Healthcare |

The Internet has become as fundamental to daily life as electricity and running water. It’s part of normal routine for more than half the people on the planet, and physicians are starting to take notice. The days of physical recruitment, postcards and published ads, are dwindling and providers are turning to digital platforms to showcases their practices, but can unlimited access be a risk for providers? With platforms like Yelp, Google, and Facebook available at any time to voice your opinion, providers and medical practices can find themselves covered in 5-star reviews and positive praise or sinking under the weight of negative comments. 

“Online reviews can be intimidating to healthcare organizations, but they push providers and organizations to assess their weak spots and make the necessary changes,” said Ann Baker, Patient Satisfaction Surveys and Health Campaigns Product Specialist for Relatient. Patient surveys help providers anticipate the reviews coming their way, and better their service. Using surveys, providers can ask patients questions on everything from office ambiance to quality of care, which allows the provider to improve patient experience.   

“Patient surveys are an important part of any practice. Providers need to be aware of their patients’ experience to provide the best care possible,” said Baker. Social media is just one of the ways patients can express their opinions on a doctor or practice, “it’s important for practices to monitor this activity” and process the information into actionable steps. 

While the use of online reviews is out of providers’ hands, they can impact the feedback contained in those reviews. Patient surveys can help prepare providers for the feedback that may be posted online and respond accordingly. Patient satisfaction is about more than great care, patients want to feel like their opinions are heard. Proactive surveying also helps medical groups anticipate and prepare for the results of their Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS), which are published for consumer review and can dictate a portion of a practice’s reimbursement. 

One of the biggest challenges to surveys is that patients are already overloaded with mass emails, surveys, and ads seeking their opinions. Surveys that are short, well-timed, and focused are more likely to be answered. Relatient suggests that practices and health systems can keep it simple with one short question, delivered via text message: How would you rate your overall experience? 

A great way to build your online presence is to encourage loyal patients to leave a review online after the survey and make it easy for them to do so. This is important because 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation. If a patient’s experience wasn’t stellar, asking the patient to provide more feedback helps uncover opportunities for improvement and gives disappointed customers a voice, offline. Automated surveys allow healthcare organizations to seek feedback at the optimal time and including a way to leave a review online improves online reputation.  

“Reviews affect how potential patients view your organization, which can be unnerving for some providers,” said Baker. But if providers are diligent in their social and survey monitoring, patient reviews can have a positive effect on their practice.

The Romero Team's comment, October 16, 7:43 AM
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How Do Patients and Institutions Talk About Breast Cancer on Twitter? 

How Do Patients and Institutions Talk About Breast Cancer on Twitter?  | Social Media and Healthcare |

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers analyzed how Twitter users talk about breast cancer on the social media platform. They found that breast cancer awareness and prevention are among the more common topics, and the findings could generally be used to guide advocacy and patient organizations in providing resources and support.

“Many of the patients we see in daily practice use social media to search for information about their disease, so, as care providers, we wanted to know what kind of content they find there,” said Rodrigo Sánchez-Bayona, MD, of Clinica Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, according to a press release. “At the same time, the sheer volume of posts on Twitter represents a rich pool of data we can use to assess attitudes and discourses surrounding cancer.”

Sánchez-Bayona will present results of the new analysis at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2018 Congress, to be held in Munich from October 19–23.

The study involved analyzing all tweets posted with the hashtag #BreastCancer over a 7-day period; they included a total of 6,341 tweets, of which 3,703 were original and 2,638 were retweets.

Of the full set of tweets, 1,144 of them (31%) were considered to have medical content; of those, 90% were deemed to have appropriate content. A total of 2,559 tweets (69%) were deemed non-medical, and 14.8% of those were considered to have a stigmatizing attitude regarding cancer.

A total of 1,137 tweets (30.7%) contained content relating to a patient’s experience, while 96 tweets (2.6%) contained an experience from the perspective of a relative of a patient. Sixty percent of tweets came from private accounts, while 40% came from institutions or public accounts.

The aims of tweets included scientific (17.3%), advertising (15.8%), fundraising (8.3%), and patient advocacy (25.3%). When broken down into subthemes, prevention was most common (44.5%) followed by treatment (25.5%), diagnosis (18.6%), and prognosis (11.4%).

The authors noted that this was part of a larger study on discussion of diseases more generally on social media, in which they found that cancer was the most mentioned pathology on Twitter around the world.

Sánchez-Bayona said the findings may prove useful to various types of organizations. “In particular, advocacy organizations can draw on them to create relevant medical content and counseling about cancer that will be more accessible to users,” he said.

Marina Garassino, MD, of Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori in Milan, who was not involved with the research, noted that there are clearly large numbers of patients using Twitter. “We should take that as corroboration of a new reality: patients now use the web to find information, and social media must be an integral part of our communication with them,” she said. “Academic institutions and key opinion leaders need to be even more active in spreading their findings through these channels to counteract the many ‘fake news’ circulating online.”

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What Does Your Online Presence Say about You as a Physician Candidate?

If you are a physician searching for practice opportunities, you probably have a lot on your mind - is your CV up to date? Have you compiled your professional reference list? Are your license and certifications up to date?

You may or may not have given much thought to your social media profiles, but did you know that your social media presence can also factor into your job search? It may not be the most important factor in the process, but how you present yourself on social media could impact your job search positively, or negatively.

What Physician Recruiters Look For

Many physician recruiters indicate that they research candidates online primarily to verify that what the physician candidate has shared with the recruiter is true, check for any potential unknown background issues or inconsistencies, search for positive things about the physician to share with clients, and also to get a better idea of the physician's interests, personality, and family needs as they relate to and fit in with the client's practice opportunity.

Where Recruiters Search Online

When asked about their use of social media during the recruitment process, most recruiters stated that they search all candidates online - mainly a Google search, and also a search of LinkedIn, Facebook, Vitals, and Doximity. Some recruiters will search other sites such as Instagram and Twitter, but most will primarily focus on LinkedIn and Facebook.

However, recruiters aren't always successful finding candidate information online, which leaves additional questions sometimes. Many physicians are not found on social media sites, so there is one less way for the recruiter to engage with the physician and learn more about the candidate and help him or her find the best fit.

"I am happy when I find a physician I'm working with on LinkedIn," states Nolan Smith, recruiting principal for The Medicus Firm. "I do feel that when I make those [online] connections, that my professional relationship with the candidate becomes stronger and I'm able to better assist him or her."

Jared Vaughn, another recruiting principal for The Medicus Firm, also utilizes social media research frequently during the recruiting process. "I look for information to qualify the physician for a position.. or to confirm information that we have discussed. It's great when there are patient reviews/recommendations that speak to the physician's quality [of practice], personality, and skill set as well." 

Vaughn also noted the absence of many physician candidates on social media. "I’m honestly surprised in 2018 how few physicians are on social media, but that may be for the best for multiple reasons. It may help prevent the physician from having to try and answer medical questions from patients... and to a certain degree help protect the patient/doctor relationship," Vaughn adds.

Red Flags

Some recruiters admitted that sometimes they see things they don't want to see, when they research candidates on social media. Fortunately, this is not a common occurence. Red flags would include any inconsistency between what's presented on social media and what the candidate has represented via phone, email, or their CV. Also, negative patient reviews, or egregious background issues that were concealed or not revealed by the candidate can also pose a problem for candidates and recruiters representing them.

Each recruiter puts his or her reputation on the line with each physician candidate he or she represents and submits to a client employer. Therefore, it's paramount that recruiters have as much information as possible about the candidate so that they can accurately represent the job seeker to each employer.

Ultimately, social media provides an excellent mode of communication and engagement for recruiters to interact with their candidates and learn more about each physician in order to help provide the best professional fit and practice opportunity for the candidate and his or her family.

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5 Content Marketing Trends To Watch In 2019

5 Content Marketing Trends To Watch In 2019 | Social Media and Healthcare |

The marketing world is changing every day. New tools and technologies emerge, fresh thinkers put new spins on old tactics, and the bar for quality continues to rise as audiences everywhere are exposed to more content in a day than they could possibly process.


For all the changes that have taken place over the years, one thing is certain: Content marketing is here to stay. In fact, this time last year, it was estimated that the content marketing industry would be worth more than $400 billion by 2021.


And as content marketing continues to grow and our approaches to it become more mature, these five trends will shape the way companies (and their audiences) create and consume content in 2019.


1. Content marketing is becoming marketing.


2. Strategy will become more essential.


3. Customer success will emerge as the new frontier.


4. The marketing funnel will change shape.


5. Distribution will remain a driver of success.





nrip's insight:

At @plus91 we have been big believers in marketing being digital and content driven. When in 2011-12 we decided to shift to Digital to create our own go-to-market strategy, a number of people were not convinced it made sense to use it. But we saw the possibilities and decided it would be the right choice for us years down and the years proved that call was spot on. Today, with our direct connection with over 210000 medical professionals and over 16 million care customers,  we are in ourselves a community. 

Which is what prompted us to also setup out Digital outreach consulting hub to offer our insights and services to other healthcare providers and medical device firms who were either curious to learn about or were wanting to adopt digital media as a market outreach possibility. 


Since 2012 we have been experimenting with new digital content marketing ideas and then bringing those tried and tested strategies to reap benefits for our customers. We have experimented with new strategies in all aspects of digital marketing, from Social Media, SEO to Curation and Drip feed newsletters.  If there are areas of special interest you wish to learn more about,  just drop us a note via the form on the right, leave a comment, or DM us on twitter at @plus91




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Social Media Sites: The New Wild West for Illegal Online Pharmacies

Social Media Sites: The New Wild West for Illegal Online Pharmacies | Social Media and Healthcare |

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) published the September 2018 Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators. This report shows how social media sites can lead consumers to dangerous rogue pharmacy sites through simple keyword searches.

During a four-week study, the Association performed keyword searches on multiple social media platforms and easily found posts leading to rogue pharmacy websites selling commonly counterfeited and/or abused prescription medications. On the social media platform Pinterest, for example, NABP found 66 posts promoting the sale of medications, and 38% of these posts provided links to websites selling prescription medicines illegally. Characteristics of these illegal sites include selling medicine that was not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, not requiring a prescription, and selling controlled substances.

Keyword searches performed on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and eBay garnered similar results. Keywords and terms used to perform the searches included “Viagra,” “Ciprofloxacin” (brand name Cipro®), and “Xanax for sale online.” This review of social media sites was a subset of NABP’s ongoing study of online drug sellers, which has found that 95% of websites selling prescription drugs online are doing so illegally.

NABP has been working with social media companies and other stakeholders to protect consumers from fake pharmacies. One example is Twitter’s and Snapchat’s requirement that advertisers of pharmacies and pharmacy products must be verified by NABP. In addition, NABP shared the results of the study with representatives from Pinterest, who said they are aware of the problem and are taking steps to further reduce the number of illicit Pins that slip through their filters. As Americans’ reliance on social media platforms for news and information has grown in recent years, it is expected that the prevalence of rogue online pharmacies in these spaces will also increase. The goal is for social media companies to take steps and use available resources to screen and monitor their platforms for harmful content linking to illegally operating websites.

Consumers who buy medicines from NABP-verified websites can be confident they are buying medicine from trustworthy, legitimate pharmacies. An easy way to know that a website has been verified by NABP is to look for the .pharmacy domain at the end of the web address. A list of safe online pharmacies and related resources can be found on the Find a Safe Site page of

Read the full report and learn more about social media sites and rogue online pharmacies by visiting the Program and Committee Reports page in the Publications and Reports section of

NABP is the independent, international, and impartial Association that assists its state member boards and jurisdictions for the purpose of protecting the public health.

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Why crowdsourced hospital reviews often don't reflect actual quality—and how hospitals should respond

Why crowdsourced hospital reviews often don't reflect actual quality—and how hospitals should respond | Social Media and Healthcare |

A study published in the Health Services Research journal found that crowdsourced ratings websites—such as Yelp, Google Reviews, and Facebook—are good indicators of individual patient experience, but they don't reliably reflect patient quality and patient safety, Christopher Cheney reports for HealthLeaders Media.

Cheat sheet: Your guide to responding to online reviews 

The problem with crowdsourced reviews

For the study, researchers compared ratings from nearly 3,000 acute care hospitals posted on Yelp, Google Reviews, and Facebook to scores from Hospital Compare—a CMS website that uses Medicare claims data and 57 metrics to rate hospitals on patient experience, patient safety, and clinical quality.



The researchers found about half of the top-rated hospitals on social media sites were also among the best-rated by Hospital Compare's overall rating. On the other hand, about 20% of the top-rated hospitals on social media were among the worst-rated by Hospital Compare's overall rating.

Victoria Perez, a co-author of the study and assistant professor at Indiana University, said, "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."

How hospitals can use the study's findings

While research suggests that crowdsourced ratings don't always accurately represent a hospital's clinical quality, Cheney writes that reviews in venues such as Yelp are very accessible for patients, which means they often can color patients' views of a hospital's quality of care.

Perez said, "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."

According to Perez, hospitals can neutralize the negative crowdsource ratings by refocusing patients' attention to measures of clinical quality and patient safety. "Hospitals can advertise that they score well on Hospital Compare and establish marketing strategies to respond to social media scores," Perez explained.

She recommended hospitals post their Hospital Compare clinical quality and patient safety scores on their websites and social media pages (Cheney, Health Leaders Media, 9/10).

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Healthcare Digital Marketing Trends to Expect in 2019

Healthcare Digital Marketing Trends to Expect in 2019 | Social Media and Healthcare |

Things like Artificial Intelligence, virtual reality, and improved wireless network capabilities are allowing people all across the globe to connect and share information like never before. We live in an exciting time…and it pays to expand your knowledge and prepare for the newest healthcare marketing trends if you want to grow your business. Over here at Cardinal, this is what we think is worth taking a special look at in healthcare digital marketing going into 2019:

1. Healthcare SEO Trends (and a rise in voice-activated searches)

As businesses vie for the top spot in search engine rankings, healthcare providers and professionals will start to really hone in on the value of organically-generated content to improve search engine optimization.

Plus, going into 2019 it’s likely we’ll see an increase in voice-based search queries. How many people do you know use Siri on their iPhones, Amazon Alexa, Cortana, Google Voice, et cetera, to find directions or instructions or communicate with people while trying to be hands-free?


Even at the end of 2015, voice command software systems were on the rise. MindMeld released a study that showed a significant increase in people who started using digital voice search in the last six months since being introduced.

Even though voice-activated search software systems don’t typically release the numbers on how often their devices are used, digital marketing experts suggest that voice-based searches will be on the rise. ComScoreeven went so far to say that by the year 2020, all internet searches will be voice-driven.

With more people going to their mobile hands-free devices for answers, it’s important to create content so that they find your business- especially if you work in healthcare. There are several ways to organically generate content and distribute it through the web that in turn raise your SEO ranking and are more likely to get picked up over voice commands, such as through social media and blog posts.

• Social Media
Regularly posting updates to Facebook and LinkedIn can help healthcare businesses climb the ranks in SEO, but the ones who will continue to stand out in 2019 are those that come up with creative social media campaigns that really drive engagement.

For example, to urge people into practicing healthier ways of living, UnitedHealthcare released a “We Dare You” campaign in 2015 that gained widespread healthcare marketing notoriety. In it, United Healthcare encouraged its social media followers to make one small change/implement a healthier habit per month and share it with the rest of the group. United Healthcare posted prompts, like “We dare you to watch our ‘Choosing a Health Insurance Plan’ video and share your opinion” to “Play the herbs and spices matching game” with everything leading back to sharing the results on social media for a chance to win prizes.

United Healthcare is no stranger to using hashtags in their Facebook posts (recently bringing awareness to #NationalAcornSquashDay and #ChildhoodCancerAwarenessMonth), but every time they do they gain a couple thousand more likes. And with more than 185,000 followers, United Healthcare is doing something right in digital healthcare marketing.

The “100 Deadliest Days” may sound like a zombie apocalypse horror movie, but it’s also a time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when children and teen deaths increase tenfold due to critical injuries. When the Arkansas Children’s Hospital recognized this, they created a campaign to raise awareness of what kids can do to stay safe during the summer. Even though it doesn’t paint a pretty picture when you search #100deadliestdays on Twitter and come upon a teenage car accident, it does send a powerful message to be alert during this time so that your loved ones stay out of the hospital.

• Blogging
Regularly creating content for your website that is helpful and answers peoples’ questions is a great way to gain recognition as a trusted expert in your field, or you can at least facilitate the conversation by creating a forum or being the absolute go-to source for anyone who has a medical question.

I think that two of the two most prevalent sources for medical information is WebMD and the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic in particular, is a well-recognized source for treating patients from all over the world with a variety of information and a top-notch staff. In a medical marketing sense, the Mayo clinic successfully created an inclusive, worldwide digital community through its Sharing Mayo Clinic blog. In it, the blog is consistently sharing success stories, experiences, and helpful information about dealing with big life changes for its family members, patients, and staff.

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How Facebook can improve critical care ultrasound education

How Facebook can improve critical care ultrasound education | Social Media and Healthcare |

With no standard way to teach critical care ultrasound (CCUS) to physicians, researchers from the University of Southern California have found that social media may be the answer, the American College of Chest Physicians reported on Oct. 3.  

Utilizing a social media platform such as Facebook to teach CCUS is comparable to that of a typical learning environment, according to researchers who found that half of study participants reported that being in a CCUS Facebook group enhanced their education and motivated them to learn more about the skill.  

Volunteers participants—fellows from the University of Southern California pulmonary and critical care department—were included in the study and provided with a typical CCUS curriculum and a pre-knowledge and skills assessment. The fellows completed the assessment, participated in a two-day hands-on bootcamp and were invited to join a private CCUS Facebook group.  

The Facebook group provided the participants with 41 skills divided into five systems and delivered over a 20-week period. Facebook posts included quizzes, cases, images, movies, questions and weblinks to articles. The researchers measured the platform analytics including the traffic, number of views and overall time usage. 


Almost half of the fellows participated in the Facebook group, with three first-year, four second-year and to third-year fellows. The average number of posts viewed was 24 out of 41 posts, almost all fellows responded to the post intervention survey, 44 percent shared that they would participate in a Facebook education group again, 56 percent said that the Facebook group enhanced their CCUS education and 44 percent stated that it motivated them to learn more about CCUS.  

“We believe that Facebook is a viable method for implementing a CCUS curriculum,” said lead author Shiqian Li, PhD in a prepared statement. “The fact that most of the fellows stated that the content was useful and had enhanced their education and some of the fellows stated that it motivated them to learn more further shows that Facebook and social media may be a beneficial adjunct for different types of learners." 

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