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

Slide deck from the breakfast session that Leigh Kendall and Helen Bevan ran at the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare, 4th May 2018
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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 | Scoop.it

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

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Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
Nice post
Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
#Formdox integrates perfectly with several #functionalities for the monitoring
https://goo.gl/HDwSzm
cctopbuilders's comment, April 26, 6:01 AM
good
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New Google Feature: How "Q&A" Can Influence New Patient Growth

New Google Feature: How "Q&A" Can Influence New Patient Growth | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Google is working to connect local businesses with consumers and facilitate communication for more informed purchase decisions. One new way they accomplish this is through Google My Business’s Q&A section. Dental practices can use this section to better connect with local patients and grow their new patient numbers.

What are Google My Business Q&A’s? 

Google My Business Q&A’s give users the chance to ask – and answer – questions about a business directly on that business’ Google listing. Q&A’s appear on Google local listings from a search query and in the knowledge panel of local search results. Popular and common questions are “up-voted” with a thumbs-up icon that makes them appear higher in the Q&A section, and unpopular / irrelevant questions can be sent downward with a thumbs-down icon.

Q&A’s give potential new patients valuable insight into your dental practice before committing to an appointment, and can help persuade them to visit your practice over another. Dental practices and dentists also receive some of the highest amount of questions on GMB listings, so expect to have questions asked about your dental practice.

How to Use Google My Business Q&A’s 

Assign a Google My Business Listing Monitor 

Currently, Google isn’t notifying all GMB page owners that they have received a new question on their listing page. So, we suggest assigning someone to check your dental practice’s listing for new questions every day. To quickly check, do a google search with your practice name and city like this “Melody Dentistry for Kids in Los Angeles.” This will pull up your practice’s Google knowledge panel. If you are logged into a Gmail account, you will be able to answer questions before other commenters. Make sure to use a Gmail account that has one of the doctors associated with it. Making efforts like this may seem small, but it can go a long way in building trust with new patients considering your practice.

Answer Relevant Questions

Answering questions helps your dental practice control the public narrative, and prevents the spreading of false or misleading information about your practice. Luckily, answering a question is super easy. You just need to be logged into any Gmail address, visit your dental practice’s Google knowledge panel, and hit reply below the question. Then, write a diplomatic response that best answers the question.

It’s important to respond to relevant questions about your practice before someone else adds in false information that would prevent a patient from visiting your practice. Conversely, you can give irrelevant questions a thumbs-down so that they do not show up at the top of your Q&A section.   

Seed Your Own Questions into the GMB FAQ Page

Dental practices can (and should) take control of their Google My Business Q&A section by turning it into a helpful FAQ section. Questions about insurance, Medicare, stress-free first visits, and the types of treatment available are all incredibly helpful for new patients evaluating your dental practice. You should add in questions that are popular among parents, so listen up and try to find out more about what parents want to know about your dental practice. 

Here are some example questions you could ask, and then answer on your practice GMB page: 

  • Does your practice accept Aetna insurance?
  • Does your practice accept Medicare?
  • Can we schedule a stress-free tour of your office for our children? 

Report Abusive or Negative Comments

Unfortunately, the GMB Q&A section is not impervious to negative reviewers or online trolls. These can hurt your practice’s online reputation, and cost you new patients, but you can take action by reporting restricted and spam content that appears on your dental practice Q&A page. To request that Google removes spam content or abusive language, simply flag the comment and then explain why you think it should be removed.

While this question is perfectly reasonable for a steakhouse, the flagging function allows Google to review any potential irrelevant or abusive comments before removing them.

Read Google’s guide about prohibited content, and how you can get it removed from your Google My Business page. 

Manage Your Online Reputation with Smile Savvy

Google My Business Q&A’s are a great way to connect with local patients, and provide helpful information that can fuel new patient growth. But, they are only one small facet of online reputation management, which can be overwhelming for busy dental practices – which is where we come in.

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What Are the Top Patient Engagement Measures in Value-Based Care?

What Are the Top Patient Engagement Measures in Value-Based Care? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

With more providers turning to patient engagement to drive success in their value-based care models, they are working to tie those initiatives to actionable results. To meet that need, providers are tapping a variety of patient engagement measures.

Some regulatory requirements, such as MACRA or the MyHealthEData initiative, measure patient engagement by rewarding reimbursement to successful providers. However, those measure are not effective for or revered by all providers.

Many experts say those regulatory burdens are too prescriptive and do not portray their actual patient engagement efforts and results. As such, several healthcare organizations are using their own patient engagement measures in addition to those regulatory requirements.

In theory, a measure that has been adopted for and adapted by an individual healthcare organization will assess the unique, niche needs of a certain patient population.

Below, PatientEngagementHIT.com discusses some of the common patient engagement measures and how organizations use them to drive organizational improvement.

USING CAHPS TO ASSESS PATIENT SATISFACTION

 

 

Patient satisfaction has emerged as one of the most important indicators of a positive healthcare experience. As patients begin to assume greater financial responsibility for their own healthcare, patient satisfaction becomes essential. If a patient has a negative interaction with a certain facility, they can choose to bring their dollars elsewhere.

The CAHPS – Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Processes and Services – surveys are industry standard for looking at patient satisfaction and experience. These surveys assess patient-provider communication, patient education, the discharge process, and elements of the hospital environment. CAHPS surveys are tied to certain aspects of value-based reimbursement and many organizations value the insights they glean.

However, organizations are beginning to tap other sources to understand the patient experience. CAHPS surveys are retrospective, meaning an organization cannot fix its issues to improve the patient experience in real time.

Real-time patient experience surveys can sit at the patient bedside or at different kiosks or sites within a healthcare organization. By gathering patient sentiment while the patient is still in the hospital or clinic, organization leaders can create real-time change.

Point-of-care patient experience surveys are not yet the leading source of patient satisfaction measurement (that title still goes to traditional surveys such as CAHPS), but recent researchsuggests it may become more popular as organizations work to improve satisfaction.

 

Healthcare organizations are also turning to social media to receive real-time updates about patient satisfaction. While the practice of leaving Yelp or Google reviews still provides a retroactive look at the patient experience, monitoring of other sites such as Twitter or Facebook could help provide insights about a patient experience.

A patient may send a message about a noisy hospital room or a rude staff member, for example. A hospital social media team could pick up on that message and work to mitigate the issue immediately, ideally bringing more satisfaction to the patient encounter.

UNDERSTANDING THE PATIENT ACTIVATION MEASURE

Healthcare professionals are also concerned with the likelihood that a patient will engage in a certain healthy behavior. It is helpful for providers to know how activated a patient will be in her treatment plan, or her motivation for improving her medication adherence.

The patient activation measure (PAM) is a 100-point, quantifiable scale used to assess patient engagement in healthcare. Researchers previously developed the measure as they sought to define patient activation.

The measure looks at four assessment categories, including:

  • Believing the patient role in activation is important
  • Having the confidence and knowledge necessary to take action
  • Proactively taking action to maintain and improve one’s health
  • Staying the course even under stress

READ MORE: Exploring Patient Reported Outcomes Measures in Healthcare

 

PAM also looks at patient ability to self-manage problems, ability to collaborate with providers, and ability to navigate the healthcare system.

The PAM has proven effective at assessing both individual patient activation as well as large-scale patient activation initiatives.

Since the development of the official PAM, some researchers have shortened the assessment to yield nearly equal results. Shorter assessments make the PAM more feasible to deploy during all too short patient interactions.

USING PATIENT-REPORTED OUTCOMES MEASURES

Patient-reported outcomes measures (PROMs) are important care quality and quality of life measures. These measures look not at the clinical impacts of a procedure, but the impacts the procedure had on a patient’s lifestyle.

PROMs are “any report of the status of a patient’s health condition that comes directly from the patient, without interpretation of the patient’s response by a clinician or anyone else,” according to the National Quality Forum (NQF). “In other words, PRO tools measure what patients are able to do and how they feel by asking questions.”

In using PROMs, healthcare providers can measure a patient’s quality of life, an essential, patient-centric measure of care quality. While providers must be concerned about the clinical aspects of a procedure, it is also important to make sure that procedure made a patient’s life better.

Currently, very few medical professionals are actually using PROMs, according to a 2016 Health Catalyst survey. Only about one-fifth of hospitals routinely use PROMs to understand patient care outcomes.

Seventy-three percent of survey respondents said they planned on integrating PROMs into their data collection strategies within the coming two to three years, however, as industry leaders increasingly recognize the value PROMs can bring to healthcare.

As healthcare professionals continue to revere patient engagement as an essential part of value-based care success, they must understand the level at which their patients are engaged. Assessing patient satisfaction, patient activation, and patient reports about care outcomes will be essential for organizations working to drive more patient-centered care.

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The State of Healthcare Advertising: 4 Key Digital Spend Trends

The State of Healthcare Advertising: 4 Key Digital Spend Trends | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

What are the major digital advertising trends in the US healthcare and pharmaceutical space? Which channels and tactics are brands increasingly devoting budget toward?

A recent report from eMarketer—US Healthcare and Pharma Industry StatPack 2018—tackles these questions in depth. The researchers conducted interviews with major industry advertisers and analyzed 160 metrics from 16 third-party sources to determine the current state of the healthcare digital ad market and to understand how it’s expected to change in the coming years. The analysis included both desktop and mobile spend, as well as ads across display, video, and search (social media was not included).

So, what did the researchers find? According to the team from MDG Advertising, there are four key insights from the report that are important to be aware of:

1. Digital Ad Spend Is Growing Slowly but Steadily
According to data cited by eMarketer, the US healthcare industry will spend $2.84 billion on digital advertising this year and is expected to spend $3.14 billion next year.

Although the 13% year-over-year growth rate in 2018 and 11% growth rate in 2019 are strong, they’re not as dramatic as the rates seen over the past decade.

Part of this is simply due to the market maturing: healthcare firms are already investing significantly in digital advertising and so additional spend doesn’t move the needle as much.

Another possible explanation is that many US healthcare and pharma brands—especially very large ones—remain committed to television. According to Kantar Media data cited by eMarketer, industry spend on national TV ads was $3.45 billion in 2017, up from $3.11 billion in 2016. This commitment to television means that there’s only so much wiggle room in budgets for additional digital spend.

2. Display Receives the Majority of Digital Ad Spend
According to data cited by eMarketer, some 56% of digital ad spend by healthcare brands goes toward display ads, 37% goes toward search, and the remaining 7% is split between other channels (social was not broken out).

This year eMarketer projects that search ad spend by healthcare marketers will increase by 6% and display spend will increase by 17%. However, in 2019 the researchers forecast that search spend will increase by 11% as the cost of ads jumps due to competition for certain terms within the pharma sector.

3. Share of Spend on Digital Video Ads Lags that of Other Industries
According to data cited by eMarketer, spend by US healthcare firms on digital video ads is expected to increase from $407 million in 2017 to $463 million in 2018.

This additional spend represents a 14% year-over-year increase, and will result in digital video accounting for 29% of all digital ad spend by US healthcare firms in 2018.

While these numbers are impressive, they actually lag other industries. An eMarketer analysis found that the average year-over-year increase across 11 verticals in digital video ad spend will be 22% this year and that digital video ads will account for 32% of spend, on average.

 4. Healthcare Marketers Have Gotten the Message on Mobile
For a while, mobile was struggling to receive its fair share of ad dollars from brands.

That disconnect between behavior and spend now appears to be fully bridged. According to data cited by eMarketer, some 68% of digital spend by healthcare brands will go toward mobile ads this year and 32% will go toward desktop ads.

The shift is by no means done. According to data cited by eMarketer, US healthcare brands will increase their mobile ad spend by more than $300 million this year alone.

What should marketers make of all this data? Fundamentally, it appears that investment in digital advertising by healthcare brands has matured, with spend now set to grow slowly but steadily. That said, the space is still evolving rapidly and while brands in the industry are keeping up with some changes—such as the ever-increasing dominance of mobile— they may be lagging in areas such as digital video advertising.

Stay up to date on the latest digital trends in healthcare advertising. ContactMDG Advertising today at 561-338-7797 or visit mdgadvertising.com.

MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton and New York, NY, is one of Florida’s top healthcare marketing companies and branding firms, whose healthcare clients include Dental Care Alliance, FastMed Urgent Care, Max Planck Florida Institute, HCA East Florida, and MDVIP. MDG’s core capabilities include branding, logo design, print advertising, digital marketing, mobile marketing, email marketing, media planning and buying, radio and TV advertising, outdoor, newspaper, video marketing, infographic development, website design and development, content marketing, social media marketing, and SEO. To learn more about the latest trends in healthcare marketing, contact MDG Advertising today at 561-338-7797 or visit mdgadvertising.com.

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Acne Treatment: Analysis of Acne-Related Social Media Posts and the Impact on Patient Care |

Acne Treatment: Analysis of Acne-Related Social Media Posts and the Impact on Patient Care | | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Many patients use social media as a source of medical information on dermatologic diseases. Social media offers accessible methods of communicating with physicians, other patients, and pharmacies. The information gathered through social media posts has the potential to influence patients’ views of their conditions and treatment options, though the source often is unknown. This systematic review examined the content and source of social media posts identified using the search terms acne and treatment across all social media platforms available through a commercial social media data aggregating software (Crimson Hexagon) from May 2008 to May 2016. The goal of this study was to identify sources of acne-related social media posts to determine communication trends to gain a better understanding of the potential impact social media may have on patient care.

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Practice Points

  • Social media content can influence patients’ perceptions of their disease and serve as a modality to acquire medical treatments, though the source often is unknown.
  • This study aimed to identify sources of acne-related social media posts to determine communication trends to gain a better understanding of the potential impact social media may have on patient care.
  • Due to the potential for illicit marketing of prescription acne medications across multiple social media platforms, it is important to ask your patients what resources they use to learn about acne and offer to answer any questions regarding acne and its treatment.

 

 
 
 
 

Social media has become a prominent source of medical information for patients, including those with dermatologic conditions.1,2 Physicians, patients, and pharmaceutical companies can use social media platforms to communicate with each other and share knowledge and advertisements related to conditions. Social media can influence patients’ perceptions of their disease and serve as a modality to acquire medical treatments.3 Furthermore, social media posts from illicit pharmacies can result in patients buying harmful medications without physician oversight.4,5 Examination of the content and sources of social media posts related to acnemay be useful in determining those who are primarily utilizing social media and for what purpose. The goal of this systematic review was to identify sources of acne-related social media posts to determine communication trends to gain a better understanding of the potential impact social media may have on patient care.

 

RELATED
Best of Acne: 2017

 

Methods

Social media posts were identified (May 2008 to May 2016) using the search terms acne and treatment across all social media platforms available through a commercial social media data aggregating software (Crimson Hexagon). Information from relevant posts was extracted and compiled into a spreadsheet that included the content, post date, social media platform, and hyperlink. To further analyze the data, the first 100 posts on acne treatment from May 2008 to May 2016 were selected and manually classified by the following types of communication: (1) patient-to-patient (eg, testimonies of patients’ medical experiences); (2) professional-to-patient (eg, clinical knowledge or experience provided by a medical provider and/or cited article in reference to relevant treatments); (3) pharmaceutical company–to-patient (eg, information from reputable drug manufacturers regarding drug activity and adverse effects); (4) illicit pharmacy–to-patient (eg, pharmacies with advertisements calling patients to buy a drug online or offering discrete shipping without a prescription)4,5; or (5) other-to-patient (eg, posts that did not contain enough detail to be classified).

 

 

Results

Hundreds of thousands of social media posts discussing acne treatment were identified over the 8-year study period (Figure 1). The social media data aggregator extracted posts from various blogs, website comment sections, and online forums, as well as major social media platforms (ie, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr). The first 100 posts selected for further analysis included 0 from 2008, 6 from 2009, 36 from 2010, 15 from 2011, 7 from 2012, 8 from 2013, 12 from 2014, 11 from 2015, and 5 from 2016. From this sample, 65 posts were considered to have an illicit source; conversely, 18 posts were from patients and 7 posts were from pharmaceutical companies (Figure 2).

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The Path to Making Clinical Trials More Patient-Centric

The Path to Making Clinical Trials More Patient-Centric | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

By incorporating features like wearables, at-home visits, and ride sharing services, trials can increase patient recruitment and retention.

Despite the rising costs of implementing a clinical trial, patient recruitment remains a major obstacle for sponsors and CROs. In fact, the estimated annual expense of clinical trials in the US is $7 billion, with approximately $1.89 billion of that total attributed to patient recruitment.

The move toward patient centricity is an attempt to address this discrepancy. Most sponsors and CROs know that creating a more positive experience for patients will increase enrollment, but how do they go about designing a study that meets patients’ needs while also remaining cost-efficient?

Patient-Centric Trial Design

Clinical trials that are burdensome for patients — requiring them to travel long distances or follow unclear protocol — can deter recruitment, retention, and adherence. In turn, high patient drop-out rates can result in delays, added costs, or invalidated data.

To make studies more convenient and enjoyable for patients, sponsors and CROs should incorporate patient insights on trial procedures. Collecting feedback can take a qualitative approach (do patients seem to be having a positive experience?), or use qualitative measures to evaluate a trial’s impact on patients. One example of a qualitative solution is Medidata’s Patient Burden Index (PBI), which measures the burden placed on patient volunteers on a per procedure basis.

Sponsors and CROs can use this feedback to design trials that cater to patients’ needs. This may include leveraging remote technology, ride share services, or at-home visits, features that prioritize convenience without sacrificing trial accuracy.

mHealth and Wearables

Trials that minimize patient burden and emphasize a positive experience often make use of technology like mHealth and wearables. These devices are cost-effective and user-friendly ways to collect data and ensure that patients are following trial procedures. Sensors in wearable devices can remotely monitor patients’ vitals and important environmental data, while ingestible monitors can track data on drug dosage, timing, and physiological responses. Once they collect key patient information, mHealth technology and wearable devices can transit the data to a patient’s physician or mobile phone.

Clinical Homecare

Many low-income or elderly patients have difficulty traveling to investigator sites, hindering their ability to participate in studies. One way to overcome this obstacle is to incorporate at-home visits into clinical trials. Clinical homecare, the practice of bringing trials directly to patients, is becoming more common, and in many cases has resulted in an increase in patient recruitment and retention. At-home visits can also reduce congestion at investigator sites, which can also have a positive effect on a patient’s overall experience.

Ride Sharing Services

Recent surveys indicate that more than 50% of patients who were considering participating in a clinical trial opted out because of transportation concerns. To address this issue, many trials have decided to partner with ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft to provide eligible patients with free transportation to investigator sites. Continuum and Lyft, for example, offer patients the ability to schedule and pre-schedule rides to and from their trial appointment. This feature not only reduces the burden placed on patients, but also helps ensure that they show up for scheduled visits.

As finding, recruiting, and retaining patients becomes increasingly challenging, sponsors and CROs should focus on incorporating new technology and patient-centric practices into their studies. Trials that have the potential to improve patients’ medical prognoses, as well as meet their day-to-day needs, are more likely to stand out from their competitors.

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Social Media Compliance and Your Orthodontic Practice 

Social Media Compliance and Your Orthodontic Practice  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

One of the biggest excuses dental and orthodontic practices have for being active on social media is restrictions set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – more commonly known as HIPAA. While there are a number of rules in place for the protection of patients and practices alike, they do not make social media marketing impossible.

Contrary to popular belief, there are ways your practice can meet HIPAA’s social media compliance guidelines. To help you understand how to keep your office fun while following the law, let’s review four simple ways to comply with HIPAA using social media.

Create a Social Media Policy

While the idea of creating a social media policy for your orthodontic or dental office may seem complicated, it doesn’t have to be. Most social media policies are separated into two areas: business and personal accounts. Within those areas, topics for social media policies include:

  • Rules and Regulations
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Potential Legal Risks
  • Security Risks
  • Accountability

Once you have set guidelines for how you would like employees to manage both their personal accounts and those of the business, it’s time to train them. Not everyone who uses social media does it well. Train your staff on social media marketing best practices for orthodontists and dentists while staying true to your brand. For example, using appropriate hashtags related to your practice or industry when posting to Instagram.

Practice Medicine at your Practice, Not Online

The purpose of social media is to engage with audiences and grow your online presence. While you may often receive questions or comments relating to braces or other orthodontic treatment issues, always advise followers to contact your office directly or to schedule an appointment. Doing so will keep those conversations confidential and more patients coming through your door.

Designate Areas in the Office for Photos

Look for areas in your office that have little to nothing in the background for taking photos with or of your patients. Having very little in the background reduces chances of violating someone’s privacy and creating legal trouble. It also encourages consistency for branding.

Get Consent

Having a clearly written consent form for patients to sign prior to uploading to social media covers all parties involved. Not only will your patients know and understand their rights, but your practice will have legal authorization to use the photos.

To create your own consent form, be sure to include:

  • What the patient is specifically authorizing
  • The purpose of the authorization
  • The ability to revoke the authorization
  • An expiration date
  • The opportunity to receive a copy (if desired)
  • To whom, specifically, the patient is giving authorization

HIPAA compliance does not have to be as complicated as it seems. With a little planning and teamwork, you can keep your practice fun while helping it grow. For help with resources for social media best practices, contact our office today.

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Social Media for Doctors - Does It Really Work?

Social Media for Doctors - Does It Really Work? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Over recent years, we have become increasingly reliant on modern technology both in our personal and our business lives. Our move into the digital era has heralded a dramatic change in the way in which we conduct business. This includes the way we engage with customers, market our services, and run the business as a whole. As a doctor running a medical facility, you may have already implemented many of these changes. However, are you really making the most out of digital opportunities such as social media for doctors when it comes to promoting your medical facility and services?

Businesses of all sizes and in a wide range of industries now use social media on a regular basis. This is because social media can be so invaluable in terms of promoting the business. When it comes to social media for doctors, the correct use of this technology can help you to keep your current clients and patients informed, as well as helping you to gain new ones. If you want to enjoy a fast, efficient, and affordable means of promoting your facility and services, social media for doctors could be the way forward for you.

How Does Social Media for Doctors Help?

So, how can social media for doctors actually help you and your business? Well, there are many ways in which you can benefit when you use social media for doctors. It is not just about marketing but also about customer engagement, customer service, and providing timely information. More and more doctors are now using social media as part of their marketing and overall business strategies, and many have been able to reap the benefits. You can get help from experts such as those at Crystal Clear Digital Marketing to get you up and running with the use of social media.

One of the things you should remember when it comes to social media for doctors is that it is one of the most cost-effective and simple methods of marketing and engagement that you can use. There are plenty of great ways in which you can make social media work for you and your medical facility, and you won’t need to invest a huge amount of time or money to enjoy the benefits. Our move into the digital age means that methods such as digital marketing and engagement have become increasingly important. This is why you need to ensure you make the most of social media for doctors

What are Some of the Main Benefits?

There are a number of key benefits that come from using social media for doctors. Some of the top benefits that you may want to consider include:

Ease and Convenience

In years gone by, doctors often spent a small fortune trying to attract new patients, keep existing patients informed, and market their medical facilities. This included the use of flyers, posters, and brochures, all of which could be costly and took up a lot of time. With social media for doctors, you can save time, boost convenience, and enjoy greater ease when it comes to your business and your patients. This is a solution that provides a high level of ease and convenience, which is ideal for busy doctors who have little spare time as it is. As a doctor, your focus is on administering treatment and running your facility rather than on marketing your services and engaging customers. By using social media for doctors, you don’t have to dedicate huge amounts of time to your marketing efforts.

An Effective Means of Engagement

Many patients feel intimidated about speaking openly with their doctor, which naturally has an effect on the doctor-patient relationship and rapport. Social media has helped to ease this problem as patients are far more likely to engage in conversations or ask questions via social media because it is a more relaxed platform that makes them feel at ease. Additionally, when you engage with your patients and clients via social media, it makes you come across as far more approachable, which can help to boost customer loyalty and attract new patients. For businesses in all industries, customer engagement has become a crucial part of the overall running of the business. The same is true for medical facilities and doctors as you still have to keep your current patients happy and informed while working to attract new ones.

Keeping Your Existing Patients Informed

Whether you want to let your patients know about a revolutionary new treatment you are offering, or whether you need to issue a warning about an epidemic, you need to be able to keep your patients informed with ease. Of course, you can add information to your website or put up notices at your medical facility, but your message will not be as far-reaching as it could be if you make use of social media. Huge numbers of people now use social media on a daily basis, which means you can let your patients know about changes, new products and services, and important information with speed and ease. In addition, your patients can share your posts with their own circles of friends, which could also benefit you. For instance, you may use social media to let your patients know about a new treatment you are offering. They may then share this post with their friends, and this could boost interest in your services.

Offering Improved Customer Service

No matter what type of industry you are in, providing an excellent level of customer service is of paramount importance. As a busy doctor running a medical facility, this is not always easy, and time constraints can cause big issues in terms of providing customer service. However, when you use social media as a means of providing this service, you should find things are far easier. This is because you can make contact with people who message you in an instant, which means there is no need to go in and out of emails and type up lengthy correspondences. You can simply use instant messaging on social media sites such as Facebook to reply to your patients and clients or to respond to new inquiries. This not only provides you with greater ease and convenience, but it also benefits the many people who use social media on a regular basis.

A Variety of Social Media Sites to Use

Another thing to bear in mind when it comes to using social media is that there are several social media sites that you can choose from. If you are not using any social media platforms at the moment, it is best not to rely solely on one site. Instead, use several different social media sites to boost your online presence and engage with customers. By doing this, you can work out how well each one works for you over a period of time.

Promoting Your Blog Posts on Social Media Platforms

When you use social media for doctors, you can benefit in a wide range of ways. One of the key benefits is that you can promote your blog posts and drive more traffic to your website. Many medical facilities put up blogs on a regular basis. However, there is no point in having blogs on your site if nobody is going to see them. Whenever you add a blog post to your website, make sure you promote the post via social media platforms. This will then encourage people to follow the link to your blog, which will take them to your site. This, in turn, means that you not only increase the number of people accessing your blog, but you also boost website traffic in general. Moreover, the people who you post to on social media may share your link, which can lead to even more people being driven to your blog and website.

Making the Most Out of Social Media

There is no doubt that more and more people are now using social media platforms on a daily basis. It is important for all doctors with medical practices to take this on board and act accordingly. By making the most of social media platforms, you can be up to date when it comes to marketing your services and engaging with your patients. At Crystal Clear Digital Marketing, we can provide you with expert assistance and advice so you can make the most of the different social media platforms out there. If you would like to learn more about using social media for doctors to benefit your practice and help you to achieve your goals, our experts are always on hand to help. Contact us today to get started!

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Social Media For Physicians: What's To Gain, What's To Lose?

Social Media For Physicians: What's To Gain, What's To Lose? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Social media is not overrated. Some professionals may think that the power of social media is overvalued or that their industries will not benefit from online platforms, but I think that is far from the truth. Social media is free for all, and its advantages are available to everyone, but only if they know how to use them efficiently.

Health Care And The Internet

The internet has given birth to the proliferation and continuous growth of health care in society. Today, there are over 100,000 health and fitness mobiles apps with millions of daily downloads. According to Greatcall, as of 2017, weight loss mobile health apps account for 50 million downloads, while exercise apps have 26.5 million downloads. 85% of those who’ve downloaded these apps also use social media for health.

In the same way, physicians have also been using the internet to learn more about their field as well as share information with patients and clients. As the same source reveals, 80% of physicians use smartphones and medical apps. 30% of mobile health users are caregivers and 93% of physicians also believe that health apps improve health, while 40% say mobile health services — be it via apps or social media — may reduce the number of visits to doctors.

 

Physicians have also been using social media for professional research, to share their knowledge and to engage with patients. According to PM360 Online, the use of social media by physicians is divided into three levels: content production, content commenting and curating, and passive content consumption.

Sadly, of all levels, the one that will benefit the industry the most has the least number of participants. Only 1% of all health care professionals use social media to be content creators — publishing original content via blogs, forums and websites.

 

What's more, only 9% of physicians engage with patients and other health care providers -- this includes physicians who reply to comments, join group discussions or share helpful information and links on social media platforms.

The biggest chunk of online users is passive content consumers. Ninety percent of doctors on social media just read relevant information about their patients and their practice without engaging or sharing their knowledge. These statistics are what health care professionals can take advantage of today.

If you’re a physician, you can start building an online presence by using social media platforms. Moreover, you can join the 1% of physicians who have used the internet as thought leaders. Here are some of the benefits of social media for physicians:

What To Gain

Build online presence: Marketing yourself is a lot like marketing a product — you highlight your best asset so that people will prefer your service over others. Today, people turn to the internet for almost everything, including looking for health care information. Social media is one of the best platforms to help you establish your brand.

Having a presence online will help people learn more about you and your service and what makes you stand out from the rest. When patients want to search for the physician nearest them, your profile should pop up on their searches. If your profile has the right content and positive reviews, clients will choose you over other physicians.

Establish yourself as a thought leader: Patients have spent more time researching health information online than visiting doctors. In a year, the average American visits a doctor three times while spending 52 hours on the internet searching for health information.

Moreover, Health Union (registration required) reports that by 2016, Facebook was the second most used online resource for health information at 65% — a jump from 2009’s 39%. A study by Wego Health also reveals that the site is the top platform used by people who are sharing health information. Eighty-seven percent say they share health information on Facebook via posts.

With social media’s importance in health information dissemination, it would be wise to join the 1% of physicians who provide medical content to users. By publishing in-depth, original content on important and pressing health matters, patients will see you as a source of valuable information. Eventually, they will see as a thought leader and will value the information you publish.

What To Lose

Hard to monitor return on investment: Monitoring the returns of social media campaigns is not as easy. Over the years, there have been new studies and formulas established to monitor the return on investment of social media campaigns. While tools are available on platforms to monitor post reach and likes, its correlation to sales is complicated. Things get even more complex if you will try to record patient referrals.

However, while concrete figures are hard to produce, seeing yourself as a thought leader that people use as a resource is often enough of a return. As more and more people visit your profiles, they’ll see you as an expert in your medical field, which may lead to more clients for you.

Time: Obviously, handling social media isn’t a walk in the park. It requires a lot of time for planning strategies, writing content and analyzing data. Social media marketing isn’t just about posting articles or photos. Each piece of content should be well thought out and will work around your strategy.

To reach the most prospect clients, your social media should be carefully calibrated. This will require much of your time. Sadly, for physicians flushed with patients and meetings, this is something you may not have. However, I think when it comes to social media, the good outweighs the bad.

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Social Media in Healthcare: What to Know Before You Plan

Social Media in Healthcare: What to Know Before You Plan | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Planning a smart marketing strategy means basing your decisions on data. And today, the data shows that 70% of people use social media. It may not be where prospective patients are actively searching for a doctor, but a solid social media strategy can still build trust with your demographic. And, as you’ll see in this article, paid social media in healthcare is one of the best ways to target an audience.

A solid social media strategy requires planning and scheduling to send the right message to people at the right time. Check out our tips for planning your healthcare social media strategy, and remember—this is only part of a complete marketing plan.

Related: Social Media for Doctors: 5 Things Most Get Wrong

1. Get to know the differences between social media platforms

Unfortunately, all images don’t appear the same across all platforms. A Facebook cover photo is a different size than an Instagram post is a different size than a Twitter ad. In fact, a photo on the same platform on a desktop may look a lot different than on the mobile app. Often, a Facebook image may appear fine upon posting, but you soon discover parts are missing when you load the mobile Facebook app.

This is something to double-check with everything you post. Before you create your social media strategy, establish templates so that staff members know what image size to use for Facebook, Instagram, and others. There are plenty of guides out there, like this one from Hubspot.

Getting to know various social media platforms isn’t just about sizing images. You should know what users are expecting from various platforms. If your Facebook video is more than 20 seconds long, for example, there’s a slim chance that many people will watch it. If you don’t use hashtags on Instagram, there’s no way for someone to find your post. Familiarize yourself with these types of details before you start posting.

2. Consider HIPAA—better safe than sorry!

In every post you make, your staff should consider the risk of disclosing patient information. Easy violations for social media in healthcare include office photos with patients in the background (even just a body part!), patient admission dates, and staff comments that address a patient’s health concerns—even when replying to a commenter.

If you feel unsure that something is appropriate to post, and you don’t have legal patient consent, don’t do it! You may believe you are disguising patient information, but the smallest gleam of biographical info can give someone away. HIPAA violations are easy to avoid. Certain healthcare organizations (like cosmetic surgery practies that feature before and after photos) can contact an attorney to come up with a standard consent form.

3. Align your brand with your social media strategy

Any marketing strategy should focus on consistent branding across all campaigns. Your social media strategy is no exception. Often, people visit social media platforms just to get a feel for who you are—your doctors, your branding, your front desk staff, etc. A variety of posts can address different motivations people have for finding your social media accounts—like the smiling faces of your front desk staff to assuage fears of rudeness.

Sometimes, a social media account is run by multiple members of your team. One way to ensure consistent branding is by setting up a social media style guide. That way, everyone on your team knows what kind of phrasing to avoid, what tone to set with each post (informative, caring, etc.), and what format the posts should take.

4. Provide a strong variety of content

Some people use social media in healthcare primarily as an advertisement for their brand. As such, they make each and every post a promotional ad. Social media strategists know that this is a mistake.

A good mix of posts helps to build trust and maybe even lead some people in the community to follow you. Informative blog posts are a great way to do this, as people trust the doctor’s office as a credible source for health information and will remember that you helped them get the information they needed. You can also post about community events, especially any your staff participates in, and humanize your brand with pictures of the doctors and nurses.

5. Don’t concentrate your budget on organic social media in healthcare

Organic posting on social media can help you get your name out there. It can even improve staff morale. What it probably won’t do is drive patients to your organization. Truthfully, few of your prospective patients are likely to follow you on social media before they schedule an appointment.

A following on social media in healthcare typically includes the staff, friends, family members, and a few grateful former patients. Sometimes, practices use a service that will help grow their social media followers, but these “likes” mean nothing when the people following you are not actually in your targeted demographic!

Paid social media is the only way to truly target patients when they’re ready for your services. Facebook and Instagram ads can retarget those who have already visited your website. This is important—Google does not allow health organizations to retarget people through paid search ads, so social media opens up that opportunity. It also allows you to target people by gender, age range, interests, area of work, and more—making it one of the best ways to target an audience tailored to your specialty. As long as you know what you’re doing.

In short, using social media requires planning and strategy. After developing a brand and style guide for your staff and educating everyone on HIPAA compliance, let one or two people in the office have fun crafting your professional posts. When you want to effectively target an audience, however, paid social media in combination with a paid search strategy (along with a team of strategists) is a better place to spend your time and money.

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When to police staff social media use

When to police staff social media use | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Smartphones are ubiquitous. Beyond phone calls and texting, rarely does a moment go by without an urge to peek at the latest Facebook message or newest Instagram picture. While this may be fine at home, it can cause some problems in a medical practice setting if staff members use their smartphones to access social media.

 

Nitin S. Damle, MD, MS, MACP, board member and physician at South County Internal Medicine in Wakefield, R.I., says his staff are instructed to leave their phones in their lockers and turned off during work hours.

“There is no reason anyone should be getting onto any website other than one that is related to work during working hours,” he says.

What about break time?

Some practices allow use of staff smartphones during breaks, but within specific guidelines. For example, personal social media accounts must be clearly personal and not representative of the office, practice, or health system and no protected patient or other office-related data can appear anywhere on those personal accounts.

Damle adds that the same rules that apply to use of social media at work apply to personal phone calls as well. “There are certainly exceptions in more acute circumstances—for example, when an employee has an ill family member—but an employee who has to be constantly accessible to an elderly parent, for example, taking multiple phone calls from the parent or caregivers during patient care hours wouldn’t bode well for work performance,” he says.

Facebook friends with patients?

A more challenging issue is personal social media relationships between staff and patients. Sometimes office staff may refer friends or relatives to the practice, which can also be tricky where social media is concerned.

In situations like these, the staff member already has a relationship with the patient, so physicians should emphasize that they should not use social media to give medical advice, information, scheduling, test results, or any other practice-related communications via their personal account.

Instead, practice-related communications should flow through normal channels, such as the secure patient portal.

Outside the office

Although it is more difficult to control staff members’ social media behavior outside the office, ground rules can still be established.

“Clearly, staff members shouldn’t talk about patients, even if they de-identify them, or about co-employees, or employers,” he says. Patients also should not post photographs of the work site, patients, physicians, or medical personnel. 

He emphasizes that if this type of activity comes to his attention, “it is immediate grounds for dismissal.” However, if the staff member is a friend or relative of a patient, it is acceptable to post pictures that might include the patient in an out-of-office setting.

Photographs taken within the office might seem innocuous, but can also potentially compromise the privacy of other staff members. For example, perhaps one of the physicians has pictures of his family on his desk—or of patients, even after hours. These posted pictures can also give the misimpression that the photographer is speaking on behalf of the practice.

Damle concludes by stressing that patient care “is at the center of any medical practice” and anything that causes a distraction or interruption of that care, such as inappropriate use of social media, should be avoided.

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10 Examples of Brilliant Healthcare Marketing

10 Examples of Brilliant Healthcare Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Every now and then, a healthcare organization creates a stellar piece of content, launches a particularly clever social media campaign, or proves that they just get their target audience in a way that makes us fans of healthcare marketing just want to stand up and clap.

Sure, the medical industry may have once been considered a slow adopterto the world of inbound marketing, but it's safe to say that these 10 examples of healthcare marketing are making up for lost time.

 

10 Examples of Brilliant Healthcare Marketing

1. Carilion Clinic

Campaign: #YESMAMM

Several years ago, in order to raise awareness about breast cancer and the need for early detection, Carilion Clinic of Virginia's Roanoke Valley started the "Yes, Mamm" campaign.

This campaign used the #YESMAMM hashtag to answer common breast cancer questions in a Twitterchat. It also drove traffic to the Carilion Clinic website to encourage women to make an appointment at one of its screening locations. The #YESMAMM campaign is a perfect example of the power of hashtags to start a movement.

2. New York Presbyterian Hospital

Campaign: Patient Stories

For most businesses today, storytelling is a boon for their branding. Healthcare, in particular, is a perfect candidate for telling uplifting success stories of patients who were saved by the care of a medical center. New York Presbyterian Hospital has built an entire video marketing strategy around this concept.

The story of patient Michael Kiernan is one example of how New York Presbyterian connects with its audience, publishing raw accounts of its employees who were on the scene and at the public's service. Watch Kiernan's story below, and try not to cry a little.

3. UnitedHealthcare

Campaign: We Dare You

The multi-award winning "We Dare You" campaign from UnitedHealthcare stands out as the gold standard for what can happen when healthcare organizations engage with their following.

With monthly "dares," quizzes, and prizes on its website, United Healthcare encouraged followers to make one small healthy change per month and document it on social media. This interactive campaign not only led to healthier habits, but it also fostered an interactive online community of brand loyalists.

#WeDareYou to snap a photo of fresh produce & tag it #FreshVeggiesWDY for your chance to #winhttp://t.co/FbxtpbU91Bpic.twitter.com/5KtZyxfpzJ

— Source4Women (@Source4Women) June 7, 2015

4. Anne Arundel's Medical Center

Campaign: Stachie Facebook Contest

This contest, organized by Anne Arundel's Medical Center, asked participants to post their best "stachie" -- otherwise known as a selfie with either a real or fake mustache. The purpose was to raise awareness for men's health during November (or, "Movember" or "No Shave November," as it has popularly come to be known).

This clever contest not only took advantage of social media hilarity, but it also drove traffic to the medical center's webpage for Men's Health -- which has other attractions for awareness, like their blog, podcast, and calendar of events.

 

5. Dana-Farber Brigham & Women's Cancer Center

Campaign: You Have Us

It's an incredibly powerful slogan: "Right now you may have cancer. But what your cancer doesn't know is -- You Have Us." Through confidence-inspiring web videos, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute shows its personal approach to cancer treatment and state-of-the-art facilities.

By sharing these videos on social media (as well as using more traditional marketing techniques, like television and radio) the cancer center embodies what it means to build trust with your target audience.

6. Medical Realities

Campaign: Surgical Training in 360 Degrees

Medical Realities is a medical training service that uses virtual reality (VR) to teach complex healthcare topics to an audience of healthcare professionals. And some of its VR content is quite inventive.

The marketing campaign below teaches the video viewer a surgical procedure from the point of view of a patient. Using Oculus Rift, a VR product owned by Facebook, Medical Realities allows you to drag the video 360 degrees around with your cursor. It's an excellent way to show current and future surgeons how surgeries should be experienced according to the patient. Try it out below:

7. Floating Hospital for Children -- Tufts Medical Center

Campaign: OurCircleofMoms.com

One of the main covenants of effective marketing is catering to your target audience -- and the online community/blog OurCircleofMoms.com does exactly that. The content and community of support that Our Circle of Moms offers for mothers whose children are patients at the Floating Hospital for Children lives up to their slogan: "Just What Moms Ordered."

By creating this space for mothers to find the support they need, the Floating Hospital for Children is positioning its medical center as a trusted resource for parents.

8. The Mayo Clinic

Campaign: Sharing Mayo Clinic Blog

The Mayo Clinic sees patients from literally all around the world and the goal of the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog is to unite these diverse patients into a global online community. The blog showcases stories from patients, family members, and Mayo Clinic staff.

These inspiring stories and the sense of community that comes from sharing them in one place plays directly into Mayo Clinic's well-known reputation as a trusted healthcare resource. Of course, Mayo Clinic is no stranger to having multiple blogs and general healthcare marketing awesomeness, so its inclusion on this list shouldn't come as any surprise.

9. Arkansas Children's Hospital

Campaign: #100DeadliestDays

In order for a hashtag-driven marketing campaign to be successful, it has to be memorable and worth sharing.

The shock factor of the #100DeadliestDays social media campaign from the Arkansas Children's Hospital (in partnership with the Injury Prevention Center) aimed to raise awareness of the dangerous time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the risk of death for children and teens is increased.

Arkansas Children's Hospital shared safety facts and tips on its social media channels, as well as an interactive pediatric care center, which can be found here.

10. Banner Health

Campaign: Infographics

Speaking of infographics, visual content is widely popular with digital marketing audiences, as exemplified by these wellness, parenting, nutrition, and mental health infographics by Banner Health. Infographics are best used to simplify a potentially complicated or controversial topic, like children's sugar consumption.

Infographics tend to resonate with audiences who may not be interested in sitting down to read a full blog post on an important topic. Plus, infographics are highly shareable across all social media channels, making them a great attention-grabber to attract new patients.

Of course, this list is far from a complete collection of all the great healthcare digital marketing happening on blogs and social media. With so many ways to connect with patients and prospective patients online, healthcare organizations are finding more and more ways to market brilliantly every single day.

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Using Social Media to Enhance Sports Medicine Research Connectivity and Patient Care

Using Social Media to Enhance Sports Medicine Research Connectivity and Patient Care | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Seeing high-quality research articles alongside pictures of smiling children and funny cat videos may seem unusual at first, but when you look across the social media landscape this is fairly normal. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and the other available platforms, web sites, and applications can be daunting for the novice user. As the use of social media is now intertwined in society, it is important for the clinician and researcher to understand how best to use the information to improve patient outcomes and the impact of clinical research.

According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of American adults receive their news from social media.1 In a similar regard, members of the public, including your patients, may only be getting their scientific information from these platforms and from their “followers” and/or friends. Perhaps the best way to get correct information to the lay population is through engagement. This will assist in reducing the impact of “echo-chambers” where misinformed beliefs regarding health care and the larger scientific community may be propagated.2 Although engaging the public in an open, unmoderated forum may seem scary, this conversation can lead to new innovations in research and clinical outcomes.

How can social media inform everyday patient care? Remember the three-legged stool of evidence-based practice includes the best research available, clinical expertise and patient values. What better way to learn about what patients value than when they are openly offering their opinion on the latest and greatest health care trends? Therefore, engaging patients can not only have an important impact on their misconceptions, but also inform you, the expert, on what those patients value.3

From a tangible perspective, understanding who is reading your work and what your relative impact is may also help improve your connectivity to the patients whose health care you are attempting to improve. For example, as of May 15, 2018, according to compiled openly available Altmetric statistics, which track research and social media impact, the Athletic Training & Sports Health CareJanuary/February 2018 issue's social media Twitter engagement was approximately 85% members of the public versus 15% identified as a practitioner or scientist. I certainly found this surprising because I hypothesized it would skew in the opposite direction, with a majority of retweets coming from scientists! Clearly it is not just other researchers reading your work in the journal!

The one issue with social media is its impulsivity and fleeting nature, which certainly has an impact on research dissemination. As you can imagine, the influence of social media for research circulation is primarily limited to the initial date of online publication, with the highest social media impact occurring within the first 30 days of online release.4 However, a recent investigation has found that the amount of social media impact (retweets and online engagement) an article has in the first 3 days is highly correlated to citation counts!4

Although it is difficult to condense all you want to say to the world about your study into 140 to 280 characters, make sure it is attention grabbing, include a link to the article, and tweet early and often. The lesson learned is the more reach you can have with your article, the more influence your scientific information can have on both the lay population and the scientific and clinical communities!

References

    1. Shearer E, Gottfried J. News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017.http://www.journalism.org/2017/09/07/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2017/. Accessed May 15, 2018.
    1. Del Vicario M, Bessi A, Zollo F, et al. The spreading of misinformation online. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016;113:554–559. doi:10.1073/pnas.1517441113 [CrossRef]
    1. MacNamara A, Collins D. Twitterati and Paperati: evidence versus popular opinion in science communication. Br J Sports Med. 2015;49:1227–1228. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-094884 [CrossRef]
  1. Eysenbach G. Can tweets predict citations? Metrics of social impact based on Twitter and correlation with traditional metrics of scientific impact. J Medical Internet Res. 2011;13:e123. doi:10.2196/jmir.2012 [CrossRef]
 
Authors

From the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska.

The author has no financial or proprietary interest in the materials presented herein.

Correspondence: Adam B. Rosen, PhD, ATC, University of Nebraska at Omaha, 6001 Dodge Street, 207Y H&K Builiding, Omaha, NE 68182. E-mail: arosen@unomaha.edu
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4 Social Media Trends in Healthcare This Year

4 Social Media Trends in Healthcare This Year | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Social media has touched every industry. Healthcare is no different. These four social media trends are shaping the way the healthcare industry handles patient care and service.

1. Video is King

Video is quickly becoming the main source of content for many brands. Cisco projects that 80% of online traffic will be driven by video content by next year. About 80% of social media users say they’d rather watch a video than read text.

When it comes to healthcare content, mobile video will likely be the best bet for marketers. Video content and live streaming has a unique way of engaging viewers.

Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health posts live broadcasts on their Facebook page regularly. Medical supplies company Avacare Medical routinely posts videos on their Facebook page that features educational or uplifting content.

Video will continue to drive traffic and engagement in the health care industry for the foreseeable future.

2. More Focus on Patient Communities and Groups

Caregivers and patients are creating and engaging with content at high rates. Patient groups and communities have 24 times more social media activity than health industry companies, according to PwC.

 
 

Health industry companies should focus on engaging with these communities and groups.

Patients routinely use social media to read reviews, gather information, share reviews and post about their own personal experiences. Social media can provide value to patients and health industry companies.

A study published in Surgery found that in a Facebook support group created by surgeons for liver transplant patients, 95% of members reported the group having a positive impact on their care.

3. Influencer Marketing Will Continue to Surge

Influencer marketing continues to surge in the healthcare industry. When Patient Leaders are featured in educational campaigns, health industry companies can ensure that accurate, valuable information is being provided to patients.

Over 90% of healthcare marketers who use an influencer strategy say that this is a successful way to connect with new patients or improve engagement with existing patients.

Influencer marketing, according to a Nielson survey, offers 11 times the ROI. More than 40% of consumers say that the information they find on social media affects the way they take care of thier health.

4. Messaging Apps and Chatbots Continue to Improve Patient Service

Chatbots and messaging apps will continue to improve patient service. These services allow health industry companies to engage and interact with their target audience quickly and in a more personal way.

There are more than 100,000 active bots on Facebook’s Messenger platform every month. Businesses exchange nearly 2 billion messages with their target audiences each month. There are more than 150 health chatbots on Facebook alone. Some answer general health questions, while others provide mental health support. Other bots are designed to help users reach their fitness and nutrition goals.

Using a combination of messaging apps and chatbots can greatly improve the quality of patient service.

Consumers prefer to interact with businesses via social media, according to SproutSocial, which found that 34.5% of consumers prefer social media. Just 16.1% preferred to interact via telephone, and 5.3% preferred in-person contact.

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4 Ways Social Media in Healthcare is Boosting Service Quality

4 Ways Social Media in Healthcare is Boosting Service Quality | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

The wave of social media is transforming how healthcare professionals communicate with their patients or colleagues. They can use the tools to:

  • Share information.
  • Debate on health care policy.
  • Promote health behaviors.
  • Engage with the public.
  • Educate and interact with patients, caregivers, students, and colleagues.

The cumulative effect of all these practices is that you can expect an improved care and increased health awareness among the general people.

The number of physicians using social media has increased significantly in the recent years. In most cases, the physicians prefer to join online communities where they can get the latest healthcare news, discuss a case with experts and consult colleagues about the cases they are handling. Moreover, social media can be an effective tool for a real-time communication between the doctor and a patient.

According to a survey by QuantiaMD, 65% of physicians use social media sites for professional activities.

How Health Professionals Can Use Social Media to Drive Better Health Care

Professional Networking

This is by far the biggest advantage you can get. Using different platforms, professionals from a wide variety of practice can discuss a health issue in real time. For example, if a patient’s diagnosis is not clear, the physician-in-charge can take help from an expert using tools like instant messaging or online community. Notably, these tools limit the access only to health professionals, which further adds value to the information shared. Apart from patients issues, professionals can also discuss work ethics, policies, career strategies, and various aspects of practice management. One key example of professional networking is “crowdsourcing”. In crowdsourcing, the participants not only share their specific knowledge but also make is usable to another professional who needs it. Luckily, all these can be done in real time.

Professional Education

By adopting new trends in health education, universities can cater high-quality education to the future health professionals. Universities can use social networking to enhance a medical student’s communication skills, professionalism, and professional ethics. Moreover, virtual classrooms and office hours provide a unique learning experience to the budding professionals.

Patient Care

Unlike the other two ways mentioned above, patient care using social networking tools is a bit complicated. This is because many health professionals and facilities are not willing to fully embrace social media tools for a direct patient care. For this reason, the number of hospitals using social media is a bit low. Nonetheless, this trend is changing gradually and we can expect to see more professionals becoming a part of the amalgamation between health care and internet technology.

According to recent studies, more and more physicians have started to interact with patients using online tools. The major activities involved in patient care through social media are patient education and health monitoring. Both of these are expected to enhance behavioral changes and drug adherence among the patients.

Proper use of social media can enhance patient satisfaction, a key measure of health service quality, as patients can spend more time talking to their physicians.

Patient Education

Patient education is an indispensable part of a quality healthcare system. Considering the sharp rise of chronic illnesses, it is critically important that patients are well educated about the preventive actions. Where do the patients go whenever they need a health information? Of course, they google it. Because health is a sensitive issue, an information in Google may not be sufficient or even harmful.

For this reason, a professionally operated social media platform can act as a reliable source of health information. In the US, nearly 75% of internet users use social media searching for health-related information. By using social media, patients can get reliable information from the virtual communities they have joined.

Moreover, physicians can tweet, post health blogs, record videos and make these resources available to patients by using social media.

The Bottom Line

It is a welcome sign that US healthcare is using social media like never before. However, like with every power comes a responsibility, the use of social media also has some inherent risks. For example, damage to professional image, privacy breaches, violation of HIPAA law and other legal issues.

Thus, every member of the healthcare system should be aware of the guidelines provided by their respective organizations about the safe use of social media in healthcare. 

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Technology in healthcare is moving from mainframes to iPhones –

Technology in healthcare is moving from mainframes to iPhones – | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it
Justin ButlerContributor
 
Justin Butler is a partner at Eclipse Venture Capital.

New technologies are often first manifested in behemoth machines that may take up entire rooms, only to be miniaturized as the technology matures. We have witnessed this shift over the last 70 years in computers, and an analogous trend is now underway in healthcare.

Startups across the world are transforming capabilities that were once relegated to specialty labs with large, expensive capital equipment and highly trained technicians. For example, in the early 2000s, Celera Genomics used nearly 300 DNA sequencers and 7,000 processors, and cost nearly $100 million to complete the sequence of one human genome. Today, an entire human genome can be run on a desktop machine for less than $1,000. Beyond DNA sequencing, new companies focusing on everything from flu to strokes are moving the technology, revenue and data from a few centralized companies to the doctors and patients that need it the most.

The benefits of these technologies are numerous. Disaggregating testing from large centralized labs to the clinic or the home will broadly lower costs, enhance patient outcomes and provide better overall access to care. Historically, the capital and operational costs of this large equipment have required centralized facilities to be amortized over many samples.

This industry can now benefit from the cost reductions enabled by the mass manufacturing of consumer electronics. Optics, microfluidics and electronics are nearly an order of magnitude less expensive than just a decade ago. Combined with novel chemistry and smarter software, these tests are at cost parity or better than their centralized counterparts.

PreDxion Bio believes that it has a blood test that could cut down on deaths in emergency rooms. The team says that previous blood tests often took over three days to get back and that about half a million people die per year because of the delays. They’ve built a test that can help doctors gain insight into inflammatory biomarkers, making it easier to treat things like trauma and burns. The startup is starting clinical trials this fall at UCSF, Mayo Clinic and Mount Sinai hospitals.

Beyond the costs of the tests themselves, the fees associated with hospital-based diagnostics have grown exponentially, and many labs are overloaded with patient samples. Additional costs due to factors such as hospital administration and insurance can quickly overtake the cost of a test itself.  In-clinic and in-home tests remove the overhead attributed to hospital operation, significantly reducing the overall cost of diagnostics.  These tests also improve the availability, as they remove the time waiting for equipment or staff.

It is well documented that a fast and accurate diagnosis are critical for ensuring patient outcomes across a wide variety of diseases. Quicker diagnosis enables the correct rapid treatment, minimizes hospitalization rates and reduces the over-prescription of antibiotics. By bringing these tools to the bedside and reducing time to diagnosis from days to minutes, the quality of patient outcomes will increase.

In-clinic and at home tests deliver a large amount of data for both providers and patients. Traditional diagnostics produce a single data point, while distributed tests enable time series data that can help to monitor trends. This type of data is necessary to catch conditions at their earliest stages, when they are most likely to be treated and cured properly. Leveraging this data to track behaviors, treatments and outcomes can have significant impact on how healthcare is delivered. There are also additional startup opportunities to collect, analyze and act upon this data.

These tests, however, are not without their challenges. They can be expensive to develop and certify, they may require changes to clinical workflows and there is strong competition from market incumbents. Also, although these tests may be smaller and less expensive, they are still held to same rigorous standards by the FDA and other regulatory agencies. The  510(k) pathway provides a less cumbersome  to pass regulatory scrutiny than a new therapeutic, but still require significant resources.

The fundamental driver of the adoption of these technologies, however, will be an optimization of economics for providers. By offering an in-clinic diagnostic test, the provider can bill the full cost of that test, rather than having to outsource it to a centralized lab. Telemedicine has been impaired by the lack of definitive tests available to patients at home. However, an over the counter flu test can enable a telemedicine company to charge for a diagnostic and therapeutic visit while the provider is still 1,000s of miles away. Each of these attributes provide increase economic benefit to both the patient and the provider.

The shift from large, centralized testing facilities, to in-clinic and at-home tests has begun. These tests provide an increased quality of care, while decreasing the costs incurred across the value-chain. Their adoption is inevitable. Significant investment is still required to develop these tests to a cost and performance acceptable to the healthcare system, and there are many sources of funding currently supporting these innovations. Many entrepreneurs have identified opportunities to make meaningful impacts across society, and entire generations to come will live longer, healthier lives because of it.

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A Communication Conundrum: The Benefits and Risks of Social Media and Texting in Healthcare

A Communication Conundrum: The Benefits and Risks of Social Media and Texting in Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

The emergence of technologies such as social media and texting in healthcare has created a quandary in many organizations. On one hand, these technologies can provide practitioners with a tool through which they can communicate with other healthcare professionals in a faster and more concise manner. On the other, these platforms lack the necessary security measures to ensure the confidentiality of patient information and compliance with HIPAA regulations.

Despite both the widespread use of text messaging and social media in the daily processes of many practitioners, and security and compliance concerns surrounding these technologies, many organizations have not yet created new media policies pertaining to texting, social media, blogging and other platforms. With direction and guidelines lacking, a significant gray area exists in the world of healthcare technology; leaving many providers wondering how they can utilize these tools while still ensuring the privacy of patients and remaining HIPAA compliant?

In this article, we will explore both the benefits and risks associated with social media and related technologies in healthcare, as well as practical strategies for utilizing these tools within the boundaries of HIPAA.

Assessing the Situation

It can be difficult to categorize the more informal technology utilized by today’s healthcare providers – simply referring to “technology” is far too broad, as there are a number of technology solutions utilized in healthcare – from EKGs to EMRs. However, lumping the tools under the term “social media” is much too narrow, as it does not typically capture uses such as text messaging or blogging. For the purposes of this article, we will use a more all-encompassing term – “new media.” Often defined as a, “means of mass communication using digital technologies such as the Internet,” new media captures tools commonly used in the healthcare setting, such as blogs, social media and text messaging.

The Benefits of New Media in Healthcare

Outlined below are a few key benefits of new media across various technology offerings.

Social Media

It should come as no surprise that social media helps drive engagement, as most networks are designed to do just that. Research consistently shows that patients who are engaged and involved in their care experience better outcomes. Social media provides practitioners with a tool to connect and engage with patients beyond the walls of the care facility. Through regular updates and messaging capabilities, physicians and other providers can be kept abreast of a patient’s progress, choices and concerns post-intervention.

Social media networks can also serve as effective tools for networking and professional development. Many providers share insights, information, opinions and experiences with their extended networks of peers and colleagues via social media. Some providers even establish and build their referral networks online.

Blogging

Blogs, much like this one, can prove to be useful tools in reaching both broad and specific audiences with useful information and insights. Blogs can also build communities around ideas and content that can be easily accessed and shared.

In healthcare, blogs can provide patients with valuable information about a healthcare organization, or insights and advice on their specific condition.

Text Messaging

Text messaging has become one of the most convenient and trusted means of communication in today’s digital world. The healthcare community has certainly taken notice and was quick to adopt texting as an effective method of conveying critical information quickly and concisely.

For example, it is not uncommon for physicians to be notified to contact a patient or receive updates on a case via text message. These text messages are often detailed – including information such as the patient’s room number and name, allowing the physician to access the patient’s chart prior to contacting him or her.

The Risks

Security

The issues in the example of physician communication via text provided above may seem fairly obvious. If the physician is communicating with other medical staff from his or her personal cell phone, the device is likely not encrypted, representing a significant security risk. The vulnerability in this exchange is further compounded if both parties transmitting patient information by text are doing so via their own personal devices.

Protected Health Information (PHI)

The chief concern providers face in regard to technology is maintaining compliance while exchanging PHI. Disclosing PHI constitutes a HIPAA violation and can result in hefty fines, even if the information is shared inadvertently. For example, photos or videos containing enough information to identify a patient can land practitioners in hot water.

Medical Advice

The Internet is a great tool for providing and accessing information, but physicians and other caregivers should exercise extreme caution when providing medical advice via social media or other channels. Licensing laws are one area in particular where physicians may be at risk when providing medical advice online. For example, if a physician offers medical advice to a patient via social media, but he or she is not licensed in the patient’s state, the physician may be in violation of that state’s laws.

So, what’s a Tech-Savvy Provider to do?

Despite the risks and concerns related to new media in healthcare, these tools can be invaluable for providers in both communicating with patients and colleagues, and managing their organization’s online offerings and reputation.

Below are a few tips to help you ensure your technology use continues to benefit your practice, while remaining compliant and ensuring the security of patient information.

  • Create a comprehensive social media policy and ensure staff understand what it entails and requires.

  • Offer HIPAA training to staff, specifically within the context of new media. This training should present practical examples of the right and wrong ways to use technology and what scenarios would be considered HIPAA violations.

  • Consider working with legal counsel and the compliance department to create a system through which content is reviewed and approved prior to posting.

  • Conduct regular compliance audits to ensure that team members are using technology tools properly and appropriately.

  • Develop a content strategy, which defines the frequency and focus of social media posts to help guide the organization’s efforts.

  • Actively monitor social media activity and create alerts to identify words or patterns that could represent non-compliance with HIPAA rules.

  • ‍Determine how the success and effectiveness of new media usage will be measured and create a tracking system.

  • ‍Be prepared - in the worst-case scenario of an audit or lawsuit, it is important to have all electronic communications and devices ready for review.

Conclusion

Technology such as text messaging and social media are invaluable tools for today’s healthcare provider. However, it is important to remain cognizant of the inherent risks these technologies represent. By referencing the tips outlined above and implementing the practical strategies discussed in this article, you can enjoy the benefits of new media, while ensuring compliance and adhering to HIPAA regulations.

The Right Tool for the Job

Fortunately, mobile technologies also exist that are designed specifically around HIPAA compliance. The ImageMover Mobile appprovides a fast, simple, HIPAA-compliant method of moving medical images. Contact ImageMoverMD today to learn how this innovative technology can integrate into your communications practices and bring added efficiency to your patient rounds.

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7 Key Elements Involved in Healthcare Digital Marketing- Part 1

7 Key Elements Involved in Healthcare Digital Marketing- Part 1 | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Connecting with buyers in the healthcare sector has become a delicate balance between traditional and cutting-edge methods. Innovative and high-impact marketing is necessary to activate both consumer and professional audiences in the digital ecosystem. No one strategy is sufficient. Laser-focused search engine marketing and optimization across social media and professional specialty channels are key in building an effective, results-driven campaign.   

With the evolving healthcare economy and cyber marketplace in mind, let’s look at the 7 key elements of a healthcare digital marketing plan that will resonate with your audience.

Element #1: An Exceptional Website

The cornerstone of any healthcare digital marketing plan is a great - not just good, but great - website. There is no inbound digital strategy without an effective website.

Fully 75% of potential customers say they judge a company’s credibility based solely on its main web page, typically the very first thing they encounter about the business. As with most things, first impressions play a huge role in marketing effectively, and they’re made, on average, in less than 0.2 seconds. That’s 0.2 seconds to establish credibility with three out of four customers who admit they judge a business’ solidness based upon its website design. When the site is confusing, frustrating, or slow to load, 79% of them move on to another site within seconds.

Obviously, credibility is huge for the healthcare industry. While it might not seem fair to judge a company solely based upon its web design, people do - and bad sites erode trust. Consumers conclude, if a company hasn’t bothered to invest in a top-notch website, its product can’t be that good either, and may even be faulty or dangerous.

 

Element #2: An Engaging Social Media Presence

Healthcare has been curiously slow to embrace social media for professional purposes.  Some experts attribute this to the industry’s heavy regulation and strict policies regarding patient rights like HIPAA. Additionally, healthcare’s emphasis on privacy and confidentiality is counterintuitive to the nature of social media, which offers users the ability to share openly.

Still, healthcare companies shouldn’t assume social media is too risky to tackle. Social media campaigns help people view businesses as more human, friendly, and worthy of long-term loyalty.

Social media marketing guru Chris Brogan conducted an experiment in which he evaluated four different groups affiliated with health and wellness to see how they interacted with their Twitter followers. These groups were the media, celebrities. businesses, and the public at large.

Overall, the public at large did the best job of sharing in a way that seemed authentic and human. Healthcare discussions were two-way experiences, with lively questions and comments.

Which group did the worst? Unfortunately, it was the healthcare companies. Brogan described them as acting cold and distant, using social media solely for one-way communication “like a bullhorn, whether or not anyone was paying attention.”

If social media isn’t your forte, recruit the help of a digital marketing company that specializes in social media marketing for healthcare organizations.

 

Element #3: Effective Buyer Personas

Healthcare marketers sometimes stay too focused on mass appeal, missing out on niche audiences. If your target audience is still defined as “healthcare and device-related buyers,” that’s way too broad - and it means you’re not seizing the power of buyer personas.

Persona development is a crucial part of digital marketing. Using research, anecdotal stories, and purchaser feedback, healthcare companies can develop personas that embody segments of their customer base.

You might have a persona called Bob Buyer, a logistics and purchasing specialist for A1 Surgical Center, Inc., a company with multi-specialty surgery centers, whose medical device reprocessing operations are disorganized and expensive. If your current campaign isn’t specifically targeted to find, engage and activate this persona, you’ve got a big problem.

The best way to solve that problem is to launch a digital marketing campaign that clearly identifies, and offers to resolve, a challenge or need particular to that audience. If you don’t know who your audience is - specifically - you can’t effectively market to them. A good digital marketing company will help you develop a highly impactful and compelling persona.    

Personas like these can help you hone your marketing messages for specific audiences. They also help with improving the customer journey, setting the stage for more individualized, personalized customer service..

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How to Use Social Media for Physician Recruitment

Embracing social and digital media as a core strategy in recruiting physicians and other healthcare professionals has become central to recruitment success. Bu…
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Taking a Slice Out of Social Media

Taking a Slice Out of Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Developing a strong social media presence for your practice isn’t as quick, simple, or easy as you may assume. But then again, neither is baking a three layer cake with vanilla buttercream icing. But both, when done correctly, can be tools to help bring communities together, and build connections.

To bake a cake you wouldn’t just start with whatever you had on hand. No, you would need a recipe. The same can be said for building a social media presence. You wouldn’t start by just posting at random, sharing whatever content you feel like. Instead you strategize, plan, and use a trusted guide...ie a recipe...to jump-start the development process of your social media presence. Experts in the culinary world will tell you that every good recipe comes in three parts, each part is an essential segment that leads to a successful end result, a cake, or in this case...the starting point for the social media presence of your practice.  

The first part to our recipe is the "List of Ingredients." While the cake may have things like eggs, milk, or sugar, our social media presence comes with a slightly different list.

Developing a Basic Social Media Presence

INGREDIENTS:

Profile Basics

  • Professional profile photo, can be an appropriately sized company logo or image.
  • Correctly sized cover photo for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter
  • Current business information, contact information, address, phone number, open hours, etc. Each platform is going to be different, just check ahead of time and make sure you fill out as much as possible.
  • Individualized web address for each platform. (Example: facebook.com/solutionreach).
  • Link to your website.

 

Social Media Presence

  • Branded content across network, easily recognizable imagery and color elements.
  • Industry experts and trusted resources to share/connect with.
  • Consistent posting of value added creative.
  • Creative use of video and images.
  • Participation in Industry related conversation through hashtags and trends.

 

There are, of course, other ingredients available to add to your social media presence. While they may not be a part of this recipe...they may be in the future.

The second step to our baking activity is the core aspect of the process. The "Preparation." We know the recipe for our cake may call for eggs...but without this section, how are we to know that the whites are separated from the yolks during the preparation of the buttercream? These ingredients would be useless without knowing just how to best execute with them.

To continue to develop our basic social media presence we will need to get started first with the profile basics.

 

THE PREPARATION

Profile Basics

Step 1: Start with the profile picture, making sure that at least 60 percent of it is directly related to your practice. This can be of the staff, the provider, or of a small version of your logo. Once your profile photo is up to date, follow the same process and update your cover photo.

*If updating on Facebook, you can also update the cover photo to a small video.

Step 2: Go through the entire profile of the platform you are setting up and fill in as much information as possible where applicable. The Facebook page will have the most sections, including a section for a company/practice “story." If you have a simple background story of the founding of your practice, then this is a great place to share that and create a connection with your patients. Make sure that the hours, contact info, website, and platform web address are updated before you leave your profile.

Social Media Presence

Step 1: Content is everything. Create content that reaches out and engages your patients, helping to create a community on your social media pages. Build trust through consistent and regular posting, this can be one to three times daily at times you determine via Facebook, or up to eight times on Twitter.

Step 2: Mix it up using various forms of content. Try a poll, a slideshow, an infographic, sharing an article from an industry expert, a blog post, engaging through gifs and memes. Keep your patients involved by coming up with campaigns that feature THEM. Share their photos with their permission and tag them in the image so that the patients not only see the value, but also feel it.

We have the ingredients we need, we followed steps to prep the profile and the presence...and we are ready to share. So share! The last and final step of our social media recipe is the most fulfilling: Give your patients a slice of your social media by telling them about it. Encourage them to follow and engage with you on your social media platforms. Ask for reviews, have contests, post signs in your practice. But don’t give up. Social media is a process, and like baking, it is more of a science than guesswork, use the tools you have and check out this handy guide for more info.

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[Infographic Guide] Physician Trends - Social Media

We live in a connected world where the effort required to communicate with someone has fallen causing the frequency and volume of communication to rise signifi…
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Creative Ways General Practitioners Can Utilize Social Media

Creative Ways General Practitioners Can Utilize Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Gone are the days when patients quietly endured long waiting room times and blindly followed their doctor’s advice. The Internet has turned patients into active consumers who take their healthcare into their own hands. Patients are also turning to social networking and online review sites for information, advice and to vent their frustrations. Patients searching for a general practitioner near them results in scores and scores of pages reveal information, both good and bad, about medical practices and healthcare organizations.

The social media space has become a popular forum for patients to discuss health issues, share healthcare experiences and interact with healthcare professionals. A 2012 consumer survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed as much as one-third of consumers in the United States actively use social media to discuss doctors and health concerns. While this no doubt poses a threat for medical providers, social media can be used as a powerful force in your marketing plan. Providers can use social media to better engage the patients they have and also to attract new patients. In this way, medical practices gain an upper hand when it comes to damage control and building a credible, trustworthy brand.

Creative Ways to Utilize Social Media

Increase Patient Access

It’s not uncommon for patients to have questions in-between appointments with the doctor. These may just be quick questions or situations the patient feels warrant a doctor’s input. Trying to get in touch with doctors on the phone can be difficult considering their busy schedules. In cases like these, social media can help increase patient access to the doctor so patients don’t have to put up with long hold times or wait until their next appointment.

Social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn allow users to create profiles, both personal and professional. You can post helpful information on a profile, such as call-in hours or hours when a staff member is available to answer questions via email or chat. These little conveniences help make it easier for patients to adhere to treatment guidelines and reduce frustration levels.

Marketing Your Practice

According to Pew Research Center, an estimated 44 percent of online users use the Internet to look for information on doctors. Considering the total number of Internet users surpassed the 4 billion mark in 2018, this is a marketing opportunity no practice can afford to miss. The key to a strong marketing strategy lies in joining networks that your patients (and ideal, future patients) are on.

Marketing on social media sites benefits a medical practice in many ways, including:

  • Establishing an online brand
  • Building your reputation
  • Interacting with patients
  • Interacting with prospective patients
  • Video exposure for your practice
  • Obtaining valuable feedback

Establish Yourself as an Expert

While encouraging visitor interactions make up the bulk of what social media sites do, these networks also offer prime opportunities for sharing information with interested parties. Many network users are looking for health-related information, be it on the network itself or on other sites. Posting informative articles about things your patients may be interested in is a good way to establish yourself as an expert and thought leader in your field.

Video Marketing

Video marketing on social media sites offers yet another way to post informative content on subjects patients can use. You can present all types of information, from procedure demonstrations to telling stories about how the practice got started. Unlike articles, video offers a more real-world effect that works well when it comes to engaging visitors who are looking for information.

Things to Keep in Mind

As powerful an impact as social media engagement can have on the success of your medical practice, results don’t happen overnight. More than anything else, persistence, patience and time are key to growing your practice online. However, the more active you are on social media, the faster you’ll likely see results. Over time, patients searching for a new physicians office will help display your practice higher up in the results, which is where most online users look.

It’s also important to have a marketing strategy in place that lines up with the short- and long-term goals you have for your practice. Since staying engaged on network sites does require time and effort, assigning this task to a staff member or even hiring a marketing specialist may be a good idea if your schedule is already full.

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A Reflection on Social Media Usage in Healthcare and Urology: An Opportunity for Research

Social media is a broad term that encompasses many Internet based sites through which online-users communicate and disseminate information. Social media networ…
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Social POV: Instagram for Patient Engagement –

When it comes to brand engagement, Instagram outperforms every other social media platform. And yet, life sciences companies are hesitant to use the image-focused app. It turns out they may be missing an opportunity because Instagram is another way to build trust with consumers and improve brand recognition. Through the proper use of Instagram for patient engagement, pharma can realize many benefits.

 Visual content is the essence of Instagram

Think of Instagram as somewhere between Facebook and Twitter. Images are the core element, but captions can be any desired length. Users can interact with photos through likes and comments. They can also send private messages. A user can follow other users, as well as specific hashtags such as #digitalhealth, #chronicpain and #cardio. There’s also a robust search tool to find content.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is perfect for storytelling. As Internet entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk explains, the platform is less cluttered, which helps to hold users’ attention: “When you’re spending time on Instagram, you’re not paying attention to anything else. 100% engaged and looking at your Instagram screen, each photo of users you follow on Instagram passes one by one. IG is all about that attention.”

A relatively new feature is Instagram Stories which was rolled out to compete with platforms like Snapchat. Stories can be pictures or videos, and users can add text or stickers. It features tools for drawing, augmented reality, and polling. Comments aren’t allowed, but users can send a direct message to the creator.

Instagram Stories can be saved for later viewing, but they disappear by default after 24 hours. Instagram says more than 300 million accounts use the Stories feature daily. This offers companies fertile ground for testing new concepts or engagement strategies. Another option available on Instagram is live video.

Who Uses Instagram?

There are around 95 million photos and videos posted daily on Instagram, and these posts get more than four billion likes. That statistic alone speaks volumes about engagement on the platform. Instagram still has a way to go to catch up to Facebook and YouTube in terms of total users, but it has seen steady growth over the last several years — and there are no signs of it slowing down.

 
Instagram users are growing steadily. — source

Instagram recently achieved an important milestone: 1 billion monthly active users. But more important is engagement. The majority of Instagram users engage with the app daily — and often several times a day.

 
Most Instagrammers are quite active on the platform. — source

Demographically, Instagram users skew young, but the landscape continues to change. Nearly three-quarters of all 18–24 year olds use Instagram, and other age groups are starting to catch up as well.

 
Popularity of Instagram — source

Like Facebook, patient communities are thriving on Instagram. Patients engage with one another for support and advice. To understand the scope of activity, just browse hashtags for any given health condition: #crohns has over 18K results, #asthma over 300K, #ehlersdanlossyndrome nearly 200K, and so on. Even medication-specific hashtags have a lot of activity. #humira, for example, has over 25K results and #advil boasts nearly 60K. Without question, the patient experience is prevalent on Instagram. Patients are there, and they are engaged.

Advertising on Instagram

Something else that makes Instagram valuable to brands is users’ openness to advertising, especially compared to other social-sharing platforms. However, it must be authentic and engaging. Whether educational or entertaining, it should offer something of value. Ads on Instagram are displayed as part of a feed of images that a user chooses to see. Good creative will fit seamlessly into that stream and may inspire the same kind of engagement as the other user-generated images they see.

Ad content options include single images, image carousels, or videos. Companies can also use the story feature for ads. The same targeting options for Facebook advertising can be used on Instagram. This includes targeting by interests and behaviors, location and other demographics, or by creating custom or lookalike audiences. Additionally, Facebook’s Pixel can be used to track and measure Instagram ad engagement.

Instagram isn’t the place for a sales pitch. Rather, it’s a place for community, dialogue, and engagement.

Instagram: Best Practices for Pharma Brands

Life sciences companies working to be patient-centric should extend that focus to Instagram as well. All content, including ads, should be patient-centered. Stories, especially, are a good way to showcase a more “authentic” story. Authentic, engaging, and empathetic content will build patient trust.

Another way to add value on Instagram is to look for unmet patient needs and try to meet them. A few questions that come to mind are:

  • Can you use your Instagram account to educate?
  • Can you use it to highlight opportunities?
  • How can you invite patients to engage with you or with one another?

Some good practices to drive engagement are asking questions, using polls, and always remembering to respond to patients who engage with a company’s brand. To optimize the patient experience, it is vital to do research. Insights that help you to understand the nuances of the patient experience can also help you create the kind of content that encourages patient engagement.

Observing current activities

Start by seeing how patients might already be talking about your brand or company. Use Instagram’s search feature. You might be surprised to learn that in many patient communities, there is a subset of patients who use the same medication or therapy. Patients will often share selfies of them with their medications. Some patients even use the live video feature on Instagram Stories during infusions. Observing the way patients are including your brand or product in their Instagram feeds can offer insight and spark ideas.

Use of hashtags is beneficial

Pay attention to the hashtags that patients use. Consider leveraging existing hashtags or other sharing activities that patients are already using. Or, start a new hashtag and encourage patients to use it. Featuring user-generated content (UGC) like this is often very effective. Of course, if you haven’t already begun to nurture relationships with patients and followers, they might not be receptive to this approach. As you build trust, users will be more willing to share.

Incorporating the human element

Consider featuring your employees to bring the human element to your brand. If you participate in charitable causes or volunteer activities, utilize Instagram to highlight those endeavors. You might want to give a behind-the-scenes look at the drug development process. Or, you can just share something fun and lighthearted.

For many pharma companies, Instagram is a good place to show patients that you recognize their illness presents a myriad of challenges. Try to consider the whole picture of the patient experience, not just your potential role in treating the illness. Let your empathy shine through.

Novartis leverages Instagram

Novartis was an early adopter of Instagram and is a leader when it comes to engagement on the platform. They share varied types of content with their large and growing audience. Notably, Novartis avoids using Instagram to promote any of their medications. Instead, they share content such as:

What to Avoid

Life sciences companies have unique challenges on social media because of FDA regulations. Since most pharmaceutical companies are successfully navigating these challenges on other social media platforms, it should be no different on Instagram. It’s important that all employees involved with Instagram activities be properly trained on what they can and cannot do. This also goes for any patient influencers you work with, as Diclegis once learned the hard way while working with super-influencer Kim Kardashian.

Beyond the obvious concerns about adhering to governmental regulations, here are some things to avoid:

  • Low-quality content. Don’t phone it in. Everything that you post should be high-quality. Patients will welcome you into their feeds if your creative is good, but you will quickly lose standing among patients if your quality is low.
  • Posting too often or not frequently enough. There is a sweet spot on Instagram. It helps to post consistently, but you also don’t want to go overboard.
  • A lack of thoughtfulness. Make sure you are always respectful when interacting with patients. Be especially careful about responding to negative comments or criticisms. Defensive language isn’t likely to win you any new fans. It’s smart to moderate your comments wisely so you don’t get into this situation in the first place.
  • Being tone deaf. Make sure you’re reading the virtual room. Pay attention to what is going on in the culture. Pay attention to politics. There are always divisive issues that people take personally and feel passionately about. Pay attention to current events. There will be times when posting a certain picture just isn’t a very good idea. And, always be extremely cautious about evergreen concerns like race, gender, sexuality, and religion. Just like with Facebook and Twitter, tone deafness is met with swift judgment, and this is something you do not want. A tone-deaf post might make you go viral for all the wrong reasons and could significantly mitigate any gains you’ve made in terms of patient trust and overall brand perception.
  • Using fake spokespeople. Authenticity is a big part of why brands do, or do not, experience success on Instagram. This is perhaps especially true in healthcare. Using fake spokespeople in your campaigns is a big turn-off to patients. This shows a lack of authenticity, and to some patients it may even feel disrespectful. Fake spokespeople won’t earn you trust. Using real patients, on the other hand, will earn you quite a bit of trust. Patients trust other patients and some of this will rub off on you. Those with the “lived” experience of an illness and of being a patient will also likely give you vital insights you might have otherwise missed. This will ultimately lead to creative that is more engaging. Using celebrities as spokespeople can be a good thing, but it’s likely to be more effective when the celebrity has an actual connection to the illness.

Comments can also present a potential challenge for any brand, and certainly for pharma. Trolls and negative comments have the potential to hurt your reputation. Fortunately, Instagram’s Comment Moderation Tool can help companies get ahead of this issue by flagging certain words to filter out offensive or inflammatory comments.

Are You Instagram Ready?

Are you prepared to begin the journey of leveraging Instagram to drive patient engagement? Here are some key questions to consider:

  • Do you know what you want to measure?
  • Do you know the hashtags your patients are using on Instagram?
  • Do you have authentic relationships with patients who will share their real photos with you?
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Digital Marketing Blueprint For Urgent Care

The right digital strategy can help a Urgent Care clinic increase their patient base. Strategic Valynt Digital uses strategic stacking to help Urgent Care acro…
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The Unwritten Rules for Patient Advocacy on Social Media 

The Unwritten Rules for Patient Advocacy on Social Media  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Social media’s ability to unify populations despite distance has come to be a key element for patients living with rare diseases, as online communities have provided support to patients who may otherwise have never found another human facing the same challenges as themselves. Whether it’s a closed Facebook group or a rare-disease-dedicated platform, like any community, these platforms must follow an unwritten set of rules that guide a productive and positive environment for its particularly vulnerable population.

Share Your Experience

First and foremost, these communities are places for people to find and connect with others facing similar challenging situations. One patient sharing his or her personal journey can cause others to feel less isolated given that they may be experiencing the same symptoms and difficulties they are, or even see patterns they hadn’t noticed in themselves.

Many patients with rare diseases have become consummate experts in what is going on in their disease state, having researched and kept up to date on what treatments are available, or in development, and where advocacy is needed. As the exchange of knowledge, experiences, and perspectives increases, so can advocacy. Ongoing and proactive communication can help galvanize the community to achieve their goals for increased access to resources through new legislation.

Don’t Let Others Learn the Hard Way

Share successes! Patients can help their peers prepare for the challenges of getting into a clinical trial, or on treatment and adhering to their regimen. Suggestions of fun activities and special recipes go a long way for preserving precious family moments despite disease-related limitations.

Sometimes patients share books they’ve read or movies that resonated with them—anything that applies to the patient experience is a valuable contribution to the group, big or small, and often these are not found in mainstream media. For example, the documentary film “Rare in Common” features the journeys of families in the rare disease community. As they go about living life as fully and lovingly as they can, while searching for a diagnosis and then treatment you get a glimpse of them as real-life heroes.

Another example is the illustrated children’s book “Rare is Everywhere,” which opens a door for parents and children to talk about how our differences, rooted in genetics, are to be celebrated. It introduces children to the white tiger, the blue lobster, and other animals whose genetic mutations make them different and beautiful! Proceeds go to the Rare Disease Foundation. A gem like this might go undiscovered without a social media network to spread the word.

Patients can also help each other seek help to pay for needed resources, for example, the National Organization of Rare Diseases (NORD) offers a financial assistance program for medical foods and supplements for patients with Urea Cycle Disorders.

Go Beyond the Social Networks

Allow social media to facilitate the connections, and then take it one step further. While these groups offer a sense of community, many patients and families also benefit from attending live events, such as the Rare Patient Advocacy Summit conducted by the non-profit Global Genes, where they can interact with their peers, advocates, and rare disease experts.

Patients and their families can also stay informed of pending legislation and the activities of the Rare Disease Congressional Caucus through Rare Disease Legislative Advocates, and then inform their peers of updates, or bring a group together for further advocacy through their social media networks.

Social media advocacy groups and similar platforms provide an opportunity to network with others across the globe that are in similar unique positions. Through unified communities, regardless of geographic location, rare disease patients and families can join together to change the landscape of opportunities for similar families to come.

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