Social Media and Healthcare
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3 ways to get more dental patients

3 ways to get more dental patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

Before we talk about the 3 ways to get more dental patients to your dental practice, I want to give you an awesome marketing tip that you can do tomorrow to start receiving more Facebook traffic and ultimately more dental patients!

Create an 8.5″ X 11” table topper and put it on the check-in desk so everyone who comes in can see it. Look at the example below.

As you can see for everyone that “checks in” on Facebook, your dental practice will donate $1 to a charitable cause. This will broaden your reach to a very local and narrowed audience. This will expand brand recognition, increase Facebook and website activity, and you will be doing something that matters. If you need help with an awesome table topper design like the one above, please reach out to us!

Ok, onto what you came here for! 3 ways to get more dental patients to your practice!

1. High converting website

Most dentists and marketers overlook this aspect. They continue to hope for conversions by relying on an old website that lacks updated design and development qualities to convert online consumers into paying customers. You could be getting 2,000 clicks per month on your site, but if your conversion rate is less than 1%, you’re doing something wrong. Get a free web review from us to see if you could be doing something better. Your conversion rate goal should be at least 3%, which is a realistic number. Now imagine going from a conversion rate of 1% to 3% virtually overnight. You just went from getting only 10 new patients per month to getting 30 new patients per month. A new website might be the factor that is holding you back from jumping from a 1% to a 3% conversion.

2. Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

If someone types in [your city] and [dentists] your goal is to be on top of the organic local results page. We can get you there! Properly optimized websites for search engines is an extremely important factor to whether or not a website will get organic online search traffic. Google displays local results higher on mobile browsers. That’s because when people search for something on their smartphone, they are most likely looking for a regular listing.

3. Social media marketing

Social media marketing is very powerful when done properly. You need to do more than just post on Facebook every day. Be ACTIVE on your accounts! If you aren’t posting on Twitter, delete the account until you can do it right. The last thing you want is a potential customer landing on a tweet from 2 years ago. This depreciates your brand. Make sure you optimize your Google+ account. Google+ can rank in local searches which is where your customers are trying to find you! Write blogs on a consistent level and then post a link to them on your social accounts. This will increase website traffic and give informative information to your patients creating a family-like trust between you and them. Some popular blog articles you can write for your dental practice are:

“How to properly brush your teeth”
“What is a cavity and how can I prevent them?”

Blog articles should typically be questions that online consumers are asking! If you need help writing your blogs and optimizing them for local search, don’t hesitate contacting us!

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

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
Nice post
Formdox's comment, April 20, 5:34 AM
#Formdox integrates perfectly with several #functionalities for the monitoring
cctopbuilders's comment, April 26, 6:01 AM
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6 Social Media Tools Every Healthcare Provider Needs

6 Social Media Tools Every Healthcare Provider Needs | Social Media and Healthcare |

Creating social media accounts for your company can increase awareness and give you an outlet to engage with your audience. You can find everything online: the local boutique you shop at, the nail salon, and even your hair stylist. However, what about your family doctor?

Did you know that 80 percent of internet users are searching online for health information, with almost half of half of these users looking for information about a particular doctor or healthcare provider? It’s true. If you’re a healthcare provider, it’s key that you have an online presence. With more and more individuals searching online for a local healthcare provider that best suits their needs, social media is often the first place you can get noticed.

In fact, a recent study described how information on social media can have a direct influence on patients’ decisions to seek a second opinion or choose a specific provider. Social media allows healthcare providers to stay connected with their existing patients, attract new patients, build an honest brand that people can trust, provide information and updates on what’s new in the industry, support the community, build traffic to their website and market their target audience.

Here are six important tools to consider when building your social presence:


Google Reviews

When a consumer searches a business on Google, the business’s information will appear in a chart within the Google search results. The chart includes data such as the business’s photo, phone number, Google Maps directions, how many stars the business was rated (out of five) and user reviews.

Did a patient mention his or her wonderful experience at your office? Your healthcare business can remind consumers to leave a review on Google. Studies show that 42 percent of users searching online for health information turn to these consumer reviews for their health-related information. Businesses have the opportunity to reply to these reviews in real time, which will show consumers that the business is prompt and cares about consumer opinions/concerns.



Blogging is the best way to get your voice out to the online population, and blogs have a high potential of showing up in online searches. A blog allows you to be seen as an expert in your field and the content you share has endless possibilities–you can write a blog on new industry trends, link to your website or social media accounts, or even add photos and video. Blogging is a creative outlet that gives you an opportunity to educate and build a relationship with your readers. Many blogs are now accompanied by video.



Today’s consumers are constantly switching their focus from website to website, especially on their mobile devices. The best way to capture their attention is with video. This resource offers consumers a visual and audio-driven experience that can easily and quickly relay health information. Facebook, Twitter and Youtube support video, and businesses can post their original video content on these sights, as well as their own websites.



Infographics are quick ways to distribute information to consumers through a visually-enticing image. Check out our example:

See how the information was short, simple, and easily relayed? These visual tools can be created in a variety of different outlines and can match your business’s theme. You can post these on your social media networks as an image, and share it with your followers. What are your business’s important facts? Make them catch the consumer eye with an infographic.



With more than 2.1 billion users, it’s the best place to start your social media marketing campaign and get real results. Offering a casual and inviting culture, Facebook makes it easy to set up your profile and “invite” individuals to like your page. Options like Live Video and video/photo posting encourages brands to connect with consumers on various levels. It also allows you to schedule and boost posts, as well a target specific ads to your target audience.



Twitter is the best place for staying updated on the latest news in 280 characters or less. With more than 336 million users, it’s another outlet for your brand to be noticed. You can build your audience quickly and get right to the point with short and direct posts. Plus, your Facebook posts can automatically go to your Twitter, keeping your voice consistent throughout.

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Top 20 Social Networks for Doctors and Healthcare Professionals

Top 20 Social Networks for Doctors and Healthcare Professionals | Social Media and Healthcare |

Editor’s Note: This blog post originally appeared in July 2013. It has been updated to reflect offering changes, as well as newly available tools and solutions.   

Most doctors and healthcare providers have less free time than others and may not be regulars on social media sites like Facebook, yet in many cases, contact with their peers and colleagues is a critical factor when problem solving and working to find the best solution for patients. In order to facilitate easy communication between medical professionals including the ability to ask each other questions, share information, opinions, observations, and more, a number of social networks and apps have been specifically created for doctors and other care givers in the field of medicine.

Community is important, so we’ve tracked down the best social networking sites for medical professionals to interact, learn and share their knowledge.

Top 20 Social Networking Sites for Medical Professionals

The majority of the following sites and apps are geared specifically to physicians although a few focus on connecting nurses, medical students and more. All have been selected due to their quality formats, user friendly features, and an already established base of membership:


Perhaps the most popular site for healthcare providers on the web today, Sermo is focused on connecting “verified and credentialed” physicians from around the world in 150 countries, with plans to expand even further globally. Doctors can ask their peers anonymous questions regarding patient care in this “virtual doctors lounge”. Currently the site has over 800,000 users.


Another site with over half a million users, Doximity targets U.S. based physicians in all specialty areas. According to the company, it’s the largest community for healthcare professionals in the country with 70% of all U.S. doctors have already signed up for membership. Doximity is also the place to be for pharmacists, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. You can even earn some of your category 1 CME credits by reading medical journal articles through this site.


Available on desktop, Android and iOS, DailyRounds is a community of international physicians that’s around 30,000 strong. The platform allows physicians to engage in chat, share medical expertise, load case files and access a drug database. It’s a one stop network for physicians looking for professional advice and camaraderie.


Created as a platform for learning and collaboration among doctors, more than 200,000 members are using the site to communicate through their phones, tablets, or laptops. Physicians can even earn “Q Points” for asking questions, solving challenges, participating in studies and referring colleagues. Q Points can be redeemed on great rewards like Amazon gift cards.


Members of this global online community will have access to a job board and information on local healthcare related events in addition to being able to discuss cases with other healthcare providers while staying up to date with the latest advancements in medicine.


This resource allows healthcare providers from around the world to share anonymous images of an ailment, such as x-rays, and compare them to other images available on the site. This tool is particularly useful for doctors in remote locations who may be treating a patient with a rare disorder. With millions of healthcare providers participating, it’s become one of the largest digital platforms for medical professionals and an invaluable tool for saving lives.

Digital Healthcare

One of the Google+ communities we have included in this list is Digital Healthcare which provides online tools and a social media network for doctors, patients, and others interested in participating in health care discussions.

Student Doctors Network

Students interested in pursuing a career in medicine will be well supported with the resources provided through this educational and non-profit website. Since 1999, the dedicated medical students and residents who founded the group have committed to providing assistance to younger medical students during all phases of their studies, from high school through the opening of their first practice.

Healthcare and Medical Software

Great information regarding software applications specifically geared towards medical professionals is accessible through this Google+ group.


Medical students and licensed doctors alike will enjoy connecting with their peers around the world on this professional networking site. Different groups and forums are available for every specialty and medical topic, allowing you to choose which professionals you’d most like to interact with.

Medical Doctors Medicos Clinical Medicine

A Google+ group dedicated to helping international physicians connect with one another.


Female physicians will appreciate the job board and discussion forums provided on this site in addition to the ability to compare average salaries and discuss healthcare related issues with other women in the medical community.

Among Doctors

While a bit smaller in membership, Among Doctors is a networking platform similar to Sermo and Doximity. With Among Doctors, physicians can create private groups including trusted professionals for advice and collaboration. The biggest perk of Among Doctors is that it’s exclusive for medical professionals. Physicians must be verified using their real names while pharmaceutical reps and other “salesy” types are forbidden from joining.


People in the nursing profession can find support and advice from peers at this site which also provides a job board and articles covering trending topics related to nurse practitioners.

Medical Apps

Applications designed to assist students during their medical training can be accessed through this Google+ site.


Explore the latest news related to nursing topics, talk to other nurses who are just starting out on their career path or to seasoned veterans, and learn more about the wide variety of career choices available to those in the nursing profession, including travel nursing.

Incision Academy

One of the few platforms specifically for surgeons. Physicians in the surgical field is a learning site that allows surgeons to share their techniques and gain experience from other surgeons around the world.

Physician’s Practice

This LinkedIn group was created to assist physicians with all aspects of business management for their practice. No marketing or sales are permitted to keep the discussions relevant and focused.

Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)

Another LinkedIn group that encourages highly successful management practices within the healthcare world in order to facilitate the highest standard of patient care.

Mayo Clinic Social Media Network

Although presented last in our list, the quality of this comprehensive site makes it a top-notch resource for healthcare professionals. From webinars to discussion forums to a blog and other resources, you’ll find plenty of great information to expand your skills as a professional.

Social Networking Brings Professionals Together

Professionals in the healthcare field are some of the busiest people around and likely find the virtually instantaneous connections provided through various social networks for doctors invaluable. If you are a developer of a healthcare related site, working within a SEO software optimization platform will increase the likelihood of attracting the membership of knowledgeable professionals who will add tremendous value to your website. 

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Why Instagram Is The New Hot Social Media Platform For Healthcare Practices

Why Instagram Is The New Hot Social Media Platform For Healthcare Practices | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is a powerful tool for businesses, especially those in the healthcare sector. In an era of immediacy, it allows providers to reach their audience on a wide platform and offers benefits that traditional radio or television advertising cannot.

Many health care practices now understand the value of social media and in particular, Facebook. They may have their own Facebook pages but what about Instagram? You may not know as much about it but Instagram enables healthcare providers the opportunity to instantly – and at times better – connect with their target audience, as well as attract new patients.

Instagram is a mobile app that is compatible with Android and iOS devices and allows users to share videos and pictures with both private and public followers. Data shared on Instagram can also be shared via apps like Twitter or Facebook. This versatility allows healthcare providers to reach consumers on multiple channels, thereby increasing their visibility. In addition, the marketing firm Healthcare Success, LLC reports that 40% of consumers are more likely to respond to visual stimuli than simple text, as the brain can process images much faster than text and retain them longer.

When it comes to a target audience, Instagram is no longer just for the under 25 crowd. InboundMD reports that 35% of senior citizens utilized social media in 2015, up from only 11% in 2010. In addition, approximately 40% of patients use social media for either crowdsourcing advice or research when selecting a healthcare provider. This means that patients are no longer relying on word of mouth from friends and family; instead, they are using social media to take better charge of their healthcare. Social media platforms also give healthcare providers a tangible way to track how they source new patients or how many times their name appeared in Instagram posts.

Health care providers that incorporate Instagram into their marketing plan will find there are many benefits to doing so. The app can play an important role in community outreach and education as providers can utilize Instagram for topics like frequently asked questions, introducing new employees, patient success stories, and procedural information. Along with these topics, healthcare providers can also use Instagram to show users a slice of life in the office. Such topics will allow healthcare providers to create more personal relationships with current patients and educate potential ones on their practice. Healthcare providers such as dermatologists, chiropractors, and plastic surgeons can especially benefit from Instagram by using photos or video to illustrate their services. Providers can showcase before and after photos of patients, as well as videos or illustrations that educate patients on procedures and treatments. Providers can also ask patients to post their own photos, which can be a way to turn their Instagram followers into actual patients.

Instagram is an excellent way for healthcare providers to strengthen their relationships with current patients and tap into new markets, such as a different age demographic or service area. Providers should ensure that their Instagram platform is aligned with their website and other social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. A streamlined marketing campaign will help establish a consistent identity for healthcare providers.

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5 Inspirational Cystic Fibrosis Patients Worth Following On Social Media

5 Inspirational Cystic Fibrosis Patients Worth Following On Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

I've created a list of young woman and men who make the most of life despite battling Cystic Fibrosis. They share their experiences, the good and the bad, on social media. They inspire, educate, and spread awareness about CF. As a person with CF myself, though I live a full life and experience similar obstacles and triumphs, I haven't gotten the courage to show this kind of vulnerability. Here are five people with CF worth following on social media:


1. Instagram: Fight2breathe

Caleigh is a 27-year-old woman who received a double lung transplant October 20, 2015. She shares posts about her daily struggles and triumphs in dealing with CF and transplant, and now more recently dealing with the rejection of her lung transplant and her rapid health decline. She is incredibly knowledgeable about many procedures and tests her and her doctors discuss and she shares them with her followers in a way everyone can understand. Her genuine personality, charisma, and strength are all palpable through her words through which she relates her true fears, hopes, insecurities, and raw emotions about an unknown future. She finds something beautiful in every hard day, whether that be being able to see her pets, spending time with her loved ones, or just reading the uplifting comments on her posts.

2. Instagram: lung_story_short

Rima shares her experience of fighting CF through humor and keeping lighthearted. Her sister shares her journey as being her caretaker while she waited for a transplant. She spent many days in the hospital exploring the hallways, playing games, crafting, and making friends with nurses. She has recently received a double lung transplant (5.14.17) and is now sharing her amazing recovery process day by day! Her lung function is increasing quickly and is gaining so much endurance and strength since being transplanted. She shares a lot about CF awareness and is becoming more known through the CF community.

“Hi my name is Rima and I have Cystic Fibrosis. I had come to the point in my health where my old lungs could no longer serve me and I was in need of a double lung transplant. Here I am now at 27 years old with brand new air baggies! It was a long journey but I am made it with the help of my trusty sidekick Laima, my sister. She joined me on my quest for new lungs when I decided to move to Colorado. The transplant center there decided that they didn't want to do my transplant because they said that my post-transplant care would be tricky and risky due to how resistant the “bugs” in my lungs were to all antibiotics. So then the search for another center began. Thanks to my sister she discovered the U of M in Minneapolis MN with the help of a friend. Since that discovery, we are now part of the U of M family indefinitely. Throughout this whole thing, we decided we wanted to document and share everything Cystic Fibrosis related as well as transplant and organ donation. We started a blog last spring as well as started sharing on social media via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. We want to help spread awareness because there are so many people out there that are unaware of Cystic Fibrosis. There are also a huge amount of people that aren't organ donors, many of them just don't know how to become one but many just avoid the subject due to either personal or religious reasons. Another thing we want to show people with CF is that you can still have a fun-filled adventurous life, you don't have to live your life cooped up in your house to keep good health. Laughter, sunshine and the outdoors soothes the body and soul! The Cystic Fibrosis community needs a cure, and with the help of spreading awareness, we can help raise funding for research! If you would like to keep up with our story you can follow us on Instagram: @lung_story_stort, Facebook: lung story short and for the blog at” -Rima

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3. Instagram: Tiffrich22

Tiff is a 28-year-old woman who was diagnosed at birth with cystic fibrosis. She resides in sunny California where she got a transplant November 30th, 2016 at Stanford University. A few years ago she started a campaign to meet her idol Taylor Swift at a concert. With the help of family, friends, and strangers, she got her wish. Her campaign led her to start her very own YouTube channel, LUNGS4TIFF, where she helps educate people and raise awareness about CF and the hardships while telling her story through videos. She intends to show others through social Media that having a positive spirit and desire for fun in life helps anyone get through the toughest times. She is thriving and planning for adventures to come.

“Through my Instagram, I have been able to show all of the sides of CF and transplant. I knew I wanted to be real and show the not so "glamorous" side of this disease, as well as the happy, go lucky side. I feel by showing the hardships that I have faced, it has helped others know that it's okay to struggle. I always say that there's always someone going through much worse and that I'm lucky. Now with new Lungs, I am able to start my second chance at life and go check off my bucket list items. I have been able to check off my first NBA game (Go Warriors) and ride in a hot air balloon! I am blessed and can't wait to post more about my adventures and my journey with new Lungs.

Another way I use Instagram to help the CF community and foundation is through mine and my best friend, Lea, @SaltyCysters page. We have joined forces to provide awareness and started making workout clothes to motivate the CF community to get their lungs moving and profits go to the CF Foundation to use for research and development towards a cure.

CF Awareness is very important to me. My passion is to help others and I think that by sharing my story via Instagram and all forms of social media, I am able to show that being positive is key to conquering this horrific disease. I will continue to raise awareness and share my story, hoping that CF will soon stand for Cure Found.” - Tiff

4. Youtube: Staying Salty Youtube Channel

A group of 6 individuals talk, inform, help, and educate about their lives and experiences with CF. They come from all different backgrounds and live all over the country. They each post a video a different day of the week. They make videos on various topics related to living life with CF, including a day in the life, how they tell others about CF, surgeries they’ve had, medication organization, CF clinics and much more. Many videos are informative and interesting to view how others with CF are managing and succeeding in life! They have full-time jobs, they travel, they raise families, and importantly, they raise awareness for the CF community.

5. Youtube: The Frey Life

A young couple, Mary and Peter, along with their pooch Oliver, share their day to day lives in daily vlogs on their YouTube channel. Mary has CF and they share the details of daily breathing treatments, doctor appointments, and the highs and lows of dealing with a chronic illness, both as a patient and a partner. Besides the aspect of Mary’s diagnosis, they share their strong faiths and their beautiful love story as a couple with their 100K subscribers.


I hope this shows both CF and non-CF people alike that we all can do many things we set our minds to despite having seemingly insurmountable obstacles in our way. 

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3 ways medical job seekers can leverage social media

3 ways medical job seekers can leverage social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

These days, it seems like everyone is on one social media platform or another. Medical job seekers can use this vast array of networks to look for work, meet with like-minded professionals and make lasting connections.

Here are three ways to leverage social media as part of your job search:

1. Develop your personal brand

Social media sites offer a great way to develop your personal brand. In other words, you gain the ability to market yourself with consistent messaging. If you haven't given much thought to your personal brand and what it means for your professional advancement, consider writing out a list of the things that are most important to you. For instance, would you rather work for a hospital or a private practice? What kind of management style do you prefer?

The clearer and more detailed you can make your goals and ambitions, the better you will be able to communicate your desires to hiring managers. Try developing social media posts that address your professional ambitions head on.

Social networking sites offer many opportunities to spread the word about your job search.

2. Spread the word

One of the best things about social media is the ability to send a message to thousands of people with the single click of a button. If you're just beginning your medical career, consider tweeting about it. Inform your followers that you're looking for work, then describe what makes you right for the position.

U.S. News & World Report recommended linking to an online version of your resume, so interested parties can learn more about you. Having your resume online means it can work for you, even when you're busy.

3. Network with other medical professionals

Thanks to the internet, it's easy to connect with people who can make your career dreams a reality. Medical students and young professionals often don't have the time to attend networking events. However, industry-specific sites bring together communities of medical professionals to talk about the issues that are most important to them. You can use these venues to learn about potential job openings and connect with recruiters.

When you're looking for a new job in the medical field, use every resource that is available to you. In addition to leveraging social media to spread awareness of your personal brand, utilize medical job boards to see what kind of opportunities are out there. Sign up for job alerts at to receive personalized recommendations.

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Expanding your horizons: communications for health service research s…

An overview of research-related media relations and social media. Presented to the research staff and trainees of several U-M health services research centers …
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There's an epidemic of bogus health claims online, and no easy cure 

There's an epidemic of bogus health claims online, and no easy cure  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Can turmeric really cure cancer? Is the HIV virus actually a conspiracy concocted by the Illuminati? Are vaccines responsible for food allergies in children?

All the scientific evidence points to no, but these ideas are spreading, thanks in part to social media and a growing distrust of medical experts and government.

"There is so much misleading information out there that it's a real challenge for us," said Jay Robinson, president of the B.C. Chiropractic Association.

"We're constantly faced with the battle of getting accurate, verifiable and true information out to our members."

In the last two months, CBC reporting has revealed a number of healthcare workers who've spread some of this misinformation, including chiropractors suggesting vaccines are dangerous or ineffective, and naturopaths claiming to eliminate autism with homeopathy.

And the experts suggest some of those unscientific claims are creeping into the more conventional medical professions.

'You feel like you're being listened to'

But when it comes to human health, there doesn't seem to be an easy answer for preventing the spread of bogus claims, and there's evidence some attempts to counter false information can backfire, as Facebook is learning as it tries to crack down on hoaxes and fake news.

An emergency preparedness pamphlet issued by Sweden's government warns of the increasing risk of misleading information and offers tips for sorting out truth from rumour. (Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency)

Health professionals told CBC they're frustrated by the role of social media. It's not only used to spread false information, but it also allows like-minded people to reinforce each other's unsubstantiated beliefs.

At the same time, people who share phoney health claims on social media often have legitimate reasons for being skeptical of conventional medicine, according to Timothy Caulfield, Canada research chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta.

They're often concerned about the outsized role that pharmaceutical companies play in health research, he said, or disillusioned by doctors who only have time for brief visits with each patient.

Caulfield has tried just about every unscientific therapy out there, and he understands the appeal of the more personal approach.

"You feel like you're being listened to, you feel like they're providing you with an answer that's tailored to your needs. It's just a really pleasant experience," he said.

He wants to see more qualified medical professionals and government officials speaking out on social media and engaging with the public to understand why they're distrustful of proven treatments.

Dr. Bonnie Henry has addressed several dubious health claims in recent CBC stories. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)


But that's a delicate thing to do. A recent editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journalpoints out that when experts talk down to people, that can further alienate folks who already have their doubts about science and conventional medicine.

B.C.'s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, recently watched this phenomenon unfold in her email inbox.

The messages came after she spoke out against the use of a homeopathic remedy made from the saliva of a rabid dog and called for sanctions on the vice-chair of the College of Chiropractors for suggesting fruit smoothies are more effective than the flu vaccine.

 "Some people accused me of being in cahoots with Big Pharma," she said. 

Still, she tries to respond to every email. She says the key is to be respectful of people's beliefs and transparent — both about conflicts of interest and the limitations of what science can tell us.

Calls for stricter regulations

UBC nursing professor Bernie Garrett has studied internet health scams extensively, and he argues what's needed is stronger government legislation and better enforcement from professional colleges to limit the spread of claims that aren't based in scientific evidence.

This approach has its limits, too. As Henry's experience suggests, from the perspective of someone who already distrusts institutions, well-meaning government intervention might look like censorship.

On a professional level, Garrett says unscientific practices aren't just an issue in the alternative and complementary health worlds.

He takes issue with his own regulator, the College of Registered Nurses of B.C., for allowing RNs to provide what he describes as "faith-based" remedies on a private basis.

"As a nurse, I can, for example, sell services such as beer spas … using my RN title to do that," Garrett alleged.

Yes, there are spas that advertise health benefits from bathing in beer. (Shutterstock / Rades)

A few years back, Garrett complained to the college about an RN who was offering "therapeutic touch," which involves someone placing their hands near or lightly on a patient, supposedly healing the body by bringing "energy fields" into harmony.

But the college said it considers therapeutic touch to be acceptable, a decision that was upheld by the Health Professions Review Board.

For its part, the college describes regulating alternative health practices as a "complex issue" and says its regulations are constantly under review. College spokesperson Johanna Ward said nurses are obliged to adhere to the same professional standards when offering alternative therapies as they do when providing mainstream care.

Cracking down isn't simple

There are some who argue it may be necessary to take the fight against misinformation straight to the source — the private tech companies like Facebook and YouTube whose platforms allow myths and scams to proliferate.

In a recent column for the science publication Undark, writer Michael Schulson contends that the commercial interests and algorithms for those websites feed into a cycle of misinformation. Someone who watches one video from an AIDS denialist, for example, will suddenly find YouTube suggesting a bunch more in the same vein — and many of those videos are monetized with ads from major corporations.

But as Facebook has discovered, cracking down on "fake news" can be extremely tricky.

In the fallout from the 2016 U.S. election, the social media giant tried putting little red flags on false stories. But the flags actually fired up some users who desperately wanted to believe, and they became even more likely to share those hoaxes.

In the end, Garrett believes there are some people who just can't be reached. The key, he believes, is to contain the spread of misinformation.

"These are generally people who won't change their mind, whatever the evidence is," he said. "What we do need to do is protect the public from the implications of people who believe those sorts of things."

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Integrating social media in medical education

This presentation was given during the Track 2: Social Media in Medical Education of the 4th Philippine Healthcare and Social Media Summit 2018 in Grand Regal …
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Should Google and Facebook Police Medical Quackery?

Should Google and Facebook Police Medical Quackery? | Social Media and Healthcare |

BISWAROOP Roy Chowdhury is an Indian engineer with, he says, an honorary Ph.D. in diabetes science from Alliance International University, a school in Zambia that bearsmany of the hallmarks of an online scam. He runs a small nutrition clinic near Delhi. Two months ago, Chowdhury posted a brief video on YouTube arguing that HIV is not real, and that anti-retroviral medication actually causes AIDS. He offered to inject himself with the blood of someone who had tested positive. Within weeks, the video had more than 380,000 views on YouTube. Tens of thousands more people watched on Facebook. Most of the viewers appear to be in India, where some 60,000 people die of HIV-related causes each year.

Exploring the culture of science.

Facebook and Youtube are not just hosting medical quackery. Their algorithms are helping people to find it, and to view more of it.

After the March video, Chowdhury kept on posting. Follow-up videos on HIV racked up hundreds of thousands more hits. He also distributed copies of an ebook titled “HIV-AIDS: The Greatest Lie of 21st Century.”

When I spoke with Chowdhury by phone last month, he claimed that 700 people had gotten in touch to say they had gone off their HIV medications. The actual number, he added, might be even higher. “We don’t know what people are doing on their own. I can only tell you about the people who report to us,” he said.

Chowdhury’s figures are impossible to verify, but his skills with digital media are apparent — as are the troubling questions they raise about the role of Silicon Valley platforms in spreading misinformation. Such concerns, of course, aren’t new: Over the past two years, consumers, lawmakers, and media integrity advocates in the United States and Europe have become increasingly alarmed at the speed with which incendiary, inaccurate, and often deliberately false content spreads on sites like Facebook and YouTube — the latter a Google subsidiary.

Much of that concern has focused on hate speech, conspiracy theories, and fake political news. But the same questions apply to public health threats, too. Dubious — and potentially deadly — cures for autism have found sanctuary on social media for years, for example. Desperate cancer patients have been lured online to baseless treatments peddled by shady “experts.” And opponents of childhood vaccination thrive in an expanding and self-reinforcing internet bubble that researchers describe as “more real and more true” for its inhabitants than anything coming from the outside.

The question is, when content on social media and similar platforms nudges people toward dangerous medical decisions, do those websites bear any responsibility? And if so, how should they regulate such reckless speech? These questions grow particularly stark with AIDS denialism. After all, convincing someone that the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and other U.S. sites was an inside job can make them sound a little whacky at parties. Convincing someone that AIDS is a hoax can kill them.

AIDS DENIALISM, in the United States at least, emerged in at least the early 1990s, at a time of genuine uncertainty about human immunodeficiency virus and the causes of AIDS. But even as the scientific evidence became clearer and treatments more effective, the notion that the disease is an elaborate hoax has persisted in some corners. Believers in this theory have launched nonprofits, held conferences, and produced documentaries. In South Africa, where the country’s president in the late 1990s and 2000s came to believe many denialist theories, researchers have estimated that the resulting policies led to more than 330,000 deaths.

“What denialists are doing is basically interfering with the application of some highly effective, science-based treatments.”

“What denialists are doing is basically interfering with the application of some highly effective, science-based treatments that have been developed over the last 30 some-odd years,” said David Gorski, a surgical oncologist and the managing editor of Science-Based Medicine, a site that often challenges quackery. “So obviously there’s a problem.”

To some extent, the AIDS denialist movement had been on the wane in recent years — not least because many of its most prominent figures have died. Advances in modern medicine, too, have helped to blunt the movement’s impact. Seth Kalichman, a psychologist at the University of Connecticut and an expert on AIDS denialism, noted that treatment for HIV has made it possible to live an active life, for decades, with the disease — a testament to efficacy of treatment. “The facts of the common day person are becoming harder and harder to deny,” Kalichman told me.

Still, AIDS denialists have adapted readily to the internet age. “With each expansion of their technological soapbox, they have more reach,” Kalichman said over the phone. In an email to me, he was blunter. “Their visibility is increasing even as they become less and less relevant,” he wrote. “I think they are fizzling out and if not for social media, they’d probably have become a thing of the past.”

On YouTube, an account called Question Everything has racked up nearly 1.8 million views by posting documentaries, interviews with AIDS denialists, and other content. A series of AIDS-skeptical videos produced in 2010 by RT, a Kremlin-funded, English-language news service, are also popular on YouTube. And then there are people like Chowdhury, whose low-budget content can quickly reach hundreds of thousands of viewers.

Peter Meylakhs, a researcher at the National Research University’s Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg, Russia, has studied how AIDS denialists organize on VK, Russia’s equivalent to Facebook. Whether in the U.S. or Russia, he told me, social media offers “a very low transactional cost of getting into the group of people with similar views.”



More worrying, though, is that the digital platforms that host such material and conversations aren’t always passive participants in the recruitment process. Their algorithms, after all, are trained to give visitors more of the kind of content that they like — whatever that might be. While researching this column, for example, I started watching a lot of AIDS denialism videos on YouTube. Immediately, the site began suggesting other denialist videos that I might want to watch, essentially serving up content to keep me on the site longer. Had I been an HIV-positive YouTube user looking for answers about a troubling diagnosis, the effect, perhaps, would have been powerful. (Google did not respond to repeated requests for comment and chose not to answer a list of questions submitted by Undark).

YouTube also uses AIDS denialist videos to sell advertising space. Here’s a screenshot of a commercial for the new Toyota Corolla, appearing before a video that claims that HIV tests are “extremely inaccurate” and medical therapies don’t work:

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3 ways to get more dental patients

3 ways to get more dental patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

Before we talk about the 3 ways to get more dental patients to your dental practice, I want to give you an awesome marketing tip that you can do tomorrow to start receiving more Facebook traffic and ultimately more dental patients!

Create an 8.5″ X 11” table topper and put it on the check-in desk so everyone who comes in can see it. Look at the example below.

As you can see for everyone that “checks in” on Facebook, your dental practice will donate $1 to a charitable cause. This will broaden your reach to a very local and narrowed audience. This will expand brand recognition, increase Facebook and website activity, and you will be doing something that matters. If you need help with an awesome table topper design like the one above, please reach out to us!

Ok, onto what you came here for! 3 ways to get more dental patients to your practice!

1. High converting website

Most dentists and marketers overlook this aspect. They continue to hope for conversions by relying on an old website that lacks updated design and development qualities to convert online consumers into paying customers. You could be getting 2,000 clicks per month on your site, but if your conversion rate is less than 1%, you’re doing something wrong. Get a free web review from us to see if you could be doing something better. Your conversion rate goal should be at least 3%, which is a realistic number. Now imagine going from a conversion rate of 1% to 3% virtually overnight. You just went from getting only 10 new patients per month to getting 30 new patients per month. A new website might be the factor that is holding you back from jumping from a 1% to a 3% conversion.

2. Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

If someone types in [your city] and [dentists] your goal is to be on top of the organic local results page. We can get you there! Properly optimized websites for search engines is an extremely important factor to whether or not a website will get organic online search traffic. Google displays local results higher on mobile browsers. That’s because when people search for something on their smartphone, they are most likely looking for a regular listing.

3. Social media marketing

Social media marketing is very powerful when done properly. You need to do more than just post on Facebook every day. Be ACTIVE on your accounts! If you aren’t posting on Twitter, delete the account until you can do it right. The last thing you want is a potential customer landing on a tweet from 2 years ago. This depreciates your brand. Make sure you optimize your Google+ account. Google+ can rank in local searches which is where your customers are trying to find you! Write blogs on a consistent level and then post a link to them on your social accounts. This will increase website traffic and give informative information to your patients creating a family-like trust between you and them. Some popular blog articles you can write for your dental practice are:

“How to properly brush your teeth”
“What is a cavity and how can I prevent them?”

Blog articles should typically be questions that online consumers are asking! If you need help writing your blogs and optimizing them for local search, don’t hesitate contacting us!

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Social media in critical care: what's all the fuss about?

Social media in critical care: what's all the fuss about? | Social Media and Healthcare |

The way we communicate and learn has been revolutionized by technology. Almost all of us carry a smartphone these days, so we are never more than a phone call, message or text away from family, friends and colleagues. This blog is the first of three from the authors examining how social media (SoMe) transgresses the usual borders and may, in the future, play an important role in communication, learning, teaching and peer review in anesthesia and critical care.Part 2: Free Open Access Medical education (FOAM): the new way to keep up-to-date  

Dr Adrian Wong, Dr Jonathan Wilkinson & Prof Manu Malbrain 6 Jun 2018


The Digital Revolution!

The wealth of knowledge traditionally stored in books, articles or other printed media is increasingly being digitalized. In fact, reading a journal, picking up a textbook, or carrying around paper manuscripts is becoming so rare these days, it could be viewed as rather a, ‘Do you remember when…’, sort of reminiscence. Whether researching for a manuscript, preparing for a lecture, constructing a teaching session or simply keeping yourself up-to-date, you need not leave the comfort of your office chair.

We are never more than a click/tap away from almost everything we require. Shelves of textbooks previously stored in libraries can now be accessed as digital downloads and journals can be accessed within their own websites, whether free open access or subscription based. When faced with a knowledge deficit, whilst the library still exists, most learners would sooner consult the Internet on their mobile device. This may be even before consulting the textbooks sitting on their own book shelves. All of this has vastly improved productivity and may indeed be part of the reason why the flow of new publications seems endless. As sad as it may be, libraries are also becoming the victims of their own definition – quiet places.

SoMe, FOAM & #

SoMe describes the myriad of cloud- and web-based applications that allow people to create and exchange content. The UK’s General Medical Council guidance use the term to include blogs and microblogs (such as Twitter), internet forums (such as, content communities (such as YouTube and Flickr), and social networking sites (such as Facebook and LinkedIn). This term however is very broad and is constantly evolving.

Closely related to SoMe is the concept or principle of Free Open Access Medical education (FOAM), where online resources (articles, videos, podcasts, etc) are shared freely and openly to the wider audience. It forms a collection of resources, a community and an ethos. The FOAM community spontaneously emerged from the collection of constantly evolving, collaborative and interactive open access medical education resources being distributed on the web with one objective — to make the world a better place! It is independent of platform or media and has a personalized, continuously expanding database of resources for medical education: it includes blogs, podcasts, tweets, Google hangouts, online videos, text documents, photographs, Facebook groups, and a whole lot more.

Placing a hashtag (#) symbol before an item being described allows every Twitter user rapid access anything associated with it. It has become a rapid way of filtering the relevant cohorts of information on Twitter, and here is where FOAM comes in. Anything related to Ultrasound (#FOAMus), anything relating to Emergency medicine (#FOAMem), and anything critical care (#FOAMcc) and so on (Table 1). A revolution has also occurred in the area of point of care ultrasound (#POCUS), where live ultrasound clips are posted promoting remote learning and discussion.

Table 1 – Relevant hashtags and their descriptors

Hashtag term Specialty or subject #FOAMed Anything medical #FOAMcc Critical care #FOAMem Emergency medicine #FOAMim Internal medicine #FOAMped Pediatrics #FOAMres Resuscitation #FOAMsim Simulation #FOAMtox Toxicology #FOAMus Ultrasound #FOANed Nursing #MedEdFOAM Medical education #POCUS Point of care ultrasound

How to start in social media

  • Find what you are interested in, activate Twitter

Twitter forms a fabulous platform from which to access a vast amount of information. Set up an account and pick a catchy username. This may or may not relate to what you do from day-to-day, or it may simply be your name.  Be identifiable, don’t be anonymous and be professional. We must mention caution over the use of pseudonyms or false identities, as it has been known for people to hide behind such aliases when *trolling others. (*A troll is someone who sets out to pass deliberate and controversial, often inflammatory comments on other users and their opinions). Using a short number of lines to let people know who you are, with a nice image of yourself, travels miles. One could view it in the same way you would introduce yourself at a meeting; after all, merely stating your name probably will not stimulate much interest. Those without a descriptor paragraph tend to pick up fewer followers. People want to know who you are and what you are about. Register as a FOAM user and promoter.

  • Search the hashtags (#)

This is similar to searching for a generic term in a search engine and forms an excellent filter. As mentioned above, there are many identifiable hashtags out there. Searching for #FOAMed will highlight anything to do with Free Open Access Medicine, #POCUS, point of care ultrasound related posts and so on (see Table 1). You can also have a look at the Symplur Healthcare Hashtag project to see what is trending.

  • Follow people

Look for people within the hashtag searches who seem to be putting information out there that appeals to you (Table 2). In this way, you form a link and others can find you. The person who you follow can then follow you and so on, until a multiplicative effect occurs whereby a network is formed and you are reaching out to many more people than you first started with. Personal learning/social media groups have thus been created, paving the way to extremely useful networking, learning and productivity.

  • Download or subscribe to a podcast

Podcasts are audio recordings that can be downloaded and listened to at a later date. They are very useful when travelling, biking, running or generally passing time. Some find this an excellent medium for learning. They can be found on each user platform, whether Android or Apple on various stores, or by following links on sites that provide the casts themselves.

  • Follow or subscribe to a blog

There are many out there to choose from, over 300 within critical care alone. Look for a RSS feed icon and use this to alert/stream appropriate material to you. Perhaps an easier way is to look for the ‘subscribe’ button on the site itself. Most will have these enabled and you can then receive brand new updates/news/blogs direct to your inbox, rather than checking each day and missing new posts. Apps such as Feedly will help you to filter what you want to look at. If you find you are enjoying this side of FOAM, then perhaps start your own website/blog and accrue followers of your own.

  • Subscribe to video channels

There are many video feed channels readily available, such as YouTube and Vimeo. Simply search for interesting topics and save them into your own playlists. These can be embedded into any website, should you start your own. You can also subscribe to selected users and their content, again, with alerts on release of new material. Videos offer an immersive and intricate learning platform and many come highly recommended.

  • General rules

Be generous with your criticism and with what you share. The more you put in, the more you get out. Use filters to beat information overload, and be a filter yourself. Have fun and don’t take it too seriously


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In the age of social media, should you bother with an email newsletter?

In the age of social media, should you bother with an email newsletter? | Social Media and Healthcare |

With everything moving toward social media posts and other forms of fast content, lots of practices are wondering if email newsletters are still a worthwhile form of marketing.

Is it a waste of time to bother with an email newsletter when it seems like everyone’s obsessed with Facebook and Twitter? The short answer is no it’s not a waste of time.

And if you do it correctly; you’ll have a great way to market your practice both to new patients and to other healthcare professionals.

In this article, you’ll find tips and ideas you can put into practice with your e-newsletters.

Newsletter marketing

Email newsletters actually have an advantage over social media in the sense that they allow you to create more in-depth, targeted content that sticks with your readers. The e-newsletter can be something your audiences look forward to each month (or with each mailing) for more thorough news and expert articles that are relevant to their interests.

Generally, planning upcoming issues is easy to do if you put together a calendar and sketch out a few ideas in advance. As you get closer to publishing, you can always add content that’s specific to recent news and trending topics. You’ll want a mix of evergreen content (content that’s relevant all the time and isn’t specific to recent events) and coverage of trends or news about your practice.

Whatever you do, don’t send the same newsletter to different audiences. If you try to make articles for every possible reader fit into the same newsletter, that’s a recipe for alienating your readership. Instead, you’ll need to target your newsletters.

For patients

Many chiropractic practices target their newsletters for patients with articles that are interesting to laypeople who don’t know much about chiropractic care and are interested in learning more about their health and your practice.

These articles:


  • Feature straightforward topics. For your patients, you’ll probably want to write jargon-free, easy-to-read introductory pieces to health topics and educational articles about chiropractic care and about your practice philosophy. These articles are friendly and informational.
  • Cover practice news. Vacations, new team members, policy and schedule changes, etc., are great topics to cover. Including a calendar also makes sense, to inform readers about any upcoming events at your clinic.
  • Present you as the expert without being overwhelming. Remember, your goal here is to provide useful information and create a marketing piece.



For your colleagues and other healthcare professionals

You may not have thought about having a newsletter for other chiropractic clinics and other healthcare professionals to read, but this can help you build connections to colleagues. Many chiropractors see other professionals as competition, but the healthcare community can serve as a valuable source of referrals that can help you build your practice.

Here are some possible benefits for you:

  • Reaching other chiropractic clinics reminds them of you and educates them about your practice in case they ever want to refer their patients somewhere else during vacation periods, scheduling conflicts, etc. If you have specialties, such as offering prenatal chiropractic care, then that’s important to highlight in case they’d rather send a particular patient to you.
  • Allopathic, osteopathic and naturopathic physicians can be great referral sources. Letting them know about your practice can give them a trusted place to send patients who need chiropractic care.
  • Remember, it’s not uncommon for patients to see many different specialists for different reasons, too. Physical therapists, massage therapists, and others are also potential referral sources.
  • Establish yourself as an expert chiropractor by presenting relevant information for your readers. You can use more jargon and have longer articles, since this is intended for a professional audience.
  • Educate people who aren’t chiropractors about the chiropractic profession.

To promote your newsletter, you can send a brochure in the mail about your practice and include a letter letting them know you’re offering subscriptions to interested professionals or reach out with a personal email. Don’t just add other practices to your email list without inviting them first―you could be seen as a spammer and that can create ill-will even if you have good intentions.


Forbes Agency Council, “In the Age of Social Media, Should You Bother with E-Newsletters?” Forbes Magazine. Published: April 2018. Accessed: May 2018.

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Findings in science, health reporting often overstated on social media –

Findings in science, health reporting often overstated on social media – | Social Media and Healthcare |

Spin. Clickbait. Exaggerated headlines. The rise of social media such as Facebook and Twitter has changed how health-related research and news is presented to audiences around the world, and it is not unheard of for researchers and reporters to overstate the findings of a study.

To better understand this issue, a May 30, 2018 study in PLOS One took a detailed look at the 50 most-shared academic journal articles linking any exposure with a health outcome, and media stories that covered those articles. The multidisciplinary research team was led by Noah Haber, who recently completed his Sc.D. in health economics in the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They assessed the studies’ strength of causal inference, or whether the study could determine that the exposure itself changed the health outcome, using a novel systematic review tool. They then compared them with the strength of causal language used to describe results in both academic journal articles and media articles.

The study found that 34 percent of the academic studies reviewed used language that reviewers considered too strong given their strength of causal inference, and 48 percent of media articles used stronger language than their associated academic articles. Moreover, 58 percent of media articles inaccurately reported the question, results, intervention, or population of the academic study. The team is now researching how academia, media, and social media contribute to this issue, and interventions to help fix it.

In addition to the PLOS paper, the team created a website called MetaCausal that includes a public explainer of its research, the full dataset, full protocol, review tool, analysis code, reviewer profiles, and results from the study.

Read the PLOS One paper: Causal language and strength of inference in academic and media articles shared in social media (CLAIMS): A systematic review

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5 Things Healthcare Professionals Should Never Post on Social Media

5 Things Healthcare Professionals Should Never Post on Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare |

It serves as an emotional outlet and keeps long distance friends connected, but it can also be dangerous.

Of course, there are certain things you should never say to coworkers in the office, but this rule also extends to online communications. Healthcare professionals have been penalized or fired for inappropriate postings on social media. That's why it's important to carefully consider what you share on social media and the possible ramifications.

Protect your reputation online by avoiding these 5 things healthcare professionals should never post on social media.

1. Pictures of Patients - You may have bonded with your patient, but posting pictures or videos of them on social media is a huge no-no. You're not only violating your patient's privacy; you're also putting your job at risk. If you need to share medical images for educational purposes, you should follow the proper procedure of obtaining consent. This means forget tweeting an image of an ongoing surgery. No one needs to see that.

2. Patient's Status - There's a huge difference between telling everyone on Facebook what you had for breakfast and giving a play by play of your patient's medical status. Once again, this is a serious violation of a patient's privacy and also illegal. So, do yourself a favor and stick to sharing baby photos and pictures of cats.

3. Bashing your workplace - Yes, not everyone is going to like where they work, but there is a time and a place for venting. You might need that hospital or facility for a future reference, so keep your negative feelings off of social media. Instead, talk to a friend, invest in a stress reliever or take your feelings out on an unsuspecting punching bag.

4. Party pictures - After a hectic week at the office, you may want to let your hair down and have some fun. There is nothing wrong with living a little, but be mindful of what you post on your social media accounts, especially when you're looking for a new job. Hospitals and healthcare facilities will scan your social media, and those party pictures may hinder your efforts.

5. Trash-talking coworkers - No matter where you work, there will always be one person that will rub you the wrong way. But even if they're extremely annoying, that does not mean you should criticize them on social media. Be careful of what you say on your social media accounts, as it could come back to haunt you in the future.

So remember, never post anything on the internet that you may regret sharing later. Once it's out there, you can't take it back.

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The 7 most important pages of a dentist’s website

The 7 most important pages of a dentist’s website | Social Media and Healthcare |
Just having a website for your dental practice isn’t enough. You need to have a great website for your dental practice.Why? Because that’s what your patients expect. Even more important, it’s what people who are searching for a new dentist expect. If you don’t provide the information people are looking for, they’ll find it somewhere else, probably on one of your competitors’ websites.

Just having a website for your dental practice isn’t enough. You need to have a great website for your dental practice.Why? Because that’s what your patients expect. Even more important, it’s what people who are searching for a new dentist expect.

If you don’t provide the information people are looking for, they’ll find it somewhere else, probably on one of your competitors’ websites.

In this article I’m going to talk about seven of the most important (and often most overlooked) pages every dentist’s website needs. I’ll include examples from practices around the country, as well as offer best practices to make your website stand out.

1. The “About” page

Visit—Blodgett Dental Care, Portland, OR

Based on my research and experience working with dentists across the country, the “About” page is the second-most visited page on a dentist’s website. Why? Because choosing a dentist is a very personal, difficult, confusing, and sometimes nerve wracking process. How do prospective patients tell one dentist from another? What is the deciding factor that pushes a prospective patient to schedule his or her first appointment?

Often, it’s the “About” page that makes the difference. It’s here that prospective patients can make a personal connection with a dentist, learning about his or her education, experience, professional certifications and awards, and even personal background.

Best practices for “About” pages
● Feature photos of yourself and your staff.
● Use bullet points to make important information easy to find.
● Write about your philosophy and approach to dentistry.
● Include fun facts about yourself such hobbies and what makes you unique.

2. Payment Methods

Visit—Boulder Modern Dentistry, Boulder, CO

There’s nothing more frustrating for prospective patients than finding a dentist they think they’ll love, calling to make an appointment, and then finding out that he or she doesn’t accept their insurance. By featuring a “Payment Methods” page prominently on your website, you can stop these frustrations before they start. Plus, you’ll minimize the time your front desk staff spends explaining your payment methods and policies to prospective patients.

Best practice for “Payment Methods” pages
● Be clear about what methods of payment you accept. Avoid ambiguity. Provide clear information to prospective patients.
● List the types of insurance you accept and those you don’t (if applicable).
● Do you accept Medicaid or your state’s low-income health care plan?
● Do you accept credit cards? Which ones? Is there an added fee?
● Do you offer a cash discount? If so, what is it?
● Do you accept CareCredit?
● Do you offer payment plans or sliding scale payments for low income patients?
● Use images like credit card or insurance company logos to make your page more approachable.

3. New Patient Special

Visit—Normandy Dentistry, Jacksonville, FL

Your “New Patient Special” page is your opportunity to make an offer prospective patients can’t refuse. The lifetime value of a new dental patient can be incredibly high (potentially tens of thousands of dollars when you factor in referrals), so be generous with your new patient specials. But not too generous. You don’t want to experience the dreaded “Groupon Effect,” where your practice is flooded with overly cost-conscious patients who are just looking for a deal.

Also, don’t just add your new patient special to the text of your practice’s homepage. Create a dedicated page and use search engine optimization to help this page rank highly in Google searches. You can also use this page as a landing page for Google AdWords, Facebook ads, and other online advertising campaigns.

Best practices for a “New Patient Special” page
● Keep it simple. Your promotion shouldn’t take more than a sentence or two.
● Make it eye-catching. Capture your audience’s attention and keep them reading.
● Create specials that provide value to both you and your new patients. A free cleaning may be attractive to a prospective patient, but may not necessarily lead to a long-term relationship with that patient. Instead, consider offering free X-rays as part of a discounted first exam.
● Experiment with seasonal specials or different new patient specials to see which brings you the most business.

4. Location/Hours

Visit—Caitlin Batchelor Dentistry, Harrisonburg, VA

Where are you located and when are you open? Both current patients and prospective patients will thank you for making it easy to find your practice’s location(s) and business hours.

Best practices for “Your Location” page
● Embed a Google Map so visitors can scroll around, zoom in and out, and see where you’re located.
● Be clear about your hours, especially if they vary from day to day. If you’re open late (or start your day early) on certain days, highlight this.
● Use a tel attribute to make your phone number clickable from mobile devices.
● If you can answer questions by email, say so. Many people prefer email to phone calls.

5. Appointment page   

Visit—Spokane Dental Care, Spokane, WA

If you offer online appointments, you’re doing your patients and staff a big favor. Your staff will spend less time scheduling appointments on the phone. Your patients will be able to request appointments when it’s convenient for them, without the need to make a phone call.

Best practices for your “Appointment” page
● Use a form that asks only for the information your practice needs. Your staff can review the requests, finalize appointments, and confirm with patients.
● Some practices use automated systems that show available appointment times.
● Make sure to provide emergency contact information for patients who have a dental or medical emergency.
● When a patient submits an appointment request, send them to a “Thank You” page and tell them what they can expect next. Can they expect a confirmation email, a phone call within two hours?

6. Testimonials  

Visit—Sue Hollinsworth Dentistry, Kent, WA

Glowing reviews and great testimonials can become your dental practice’s best marketing materials. Create a “Testimonials” page for your website where you can post a curated collection of your favorite reviews and testimonials.

Best practices for a “Testimonials” page
● The biggest mistake most dental practices make is relying solely on text reviews. The best Testimonials pages include pictures and videos, along with short reviews.
● Use a contest to solicit reviews. Ask patients for a review and a picture. In exchange, give away an electric toothbrush or a free cleaning.
● Link to your Yelp and Google Plus pages so prospective patients can see even more great reviews.

7. Services Pages

Visit—Mill District Dental, Minneapolis, MN

What are your specialties? Do you enjoy working with children? Is your focus on cosmetic dentistry? Do you offer pain-free laser periodontal treatments? Create a page for each major service you offer. These pages can rank well in Google search results and can be used as landing pages for your online marketing and advertising campaigns.

Best practices for “Services” pages
● Don’t put all your services on a single page. By creating pages that are focused on a single service, you’ll be able to go into more detail and better connect with your audience.
● Be clear about the services you offer and why you do a better job than other dentists in your area.
● A great page should answer these questions: What’s the service? Who needs it? What unique add-ons and benefits does the practice offer? What’s the next step (call, email, etc.)?

Taking the next step: 3 great resources

Once you have the most important pages on your practice’s website, where do you go next? Here are three resources to help you:
● The Importance of Responsive DesignJust as important as what’s on your website is how your website works. Today that means creating websites that are just as accessible to Android and iPhone users as they are to visitors on desktop or laptop computers.
●  Social Media Strategies for DentistsWhat are the best social media sites for dentists? What should you post? Is a blog social media? Learn the answers to these questions and more.
●  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter GuideYou’ve added valuable information to your website. What now? This free guide from Google will help you understand the basics of optimizing your website and influencing how your practice appears in Google’s search results.

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NHS at 70: How social networking is helping mental health patients at Berkshire NHS Trust

NHS at 70: How social networking is helping mental health patients at Berkshire NHS Trust | Social Media and Healthcare |

Digital Health Age sits down with Jonathon Burton, web and digital services manager, and Sara Wise, GDE SHaRON, senior project manager at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to talk about the Trust’s e-health project for helping people manage with mental health issues.

In the interview, Burton and Wise talk about how the Trust managed to build a social networking solution for people with mental health disorders. A first-of-its-kind solution funded by the NHS, the networking project has been an invaluable resource for patients with mental health problems at the Trust and highlights why services for mental health need to be available 24/7.


Q: Could you tell me a bit about the system that’s been developed for the Trust?

A: In 2009, mental health services for eating disorders weren’t as available as they are today and there was less in the way of support from professionals or peers.  A clinician working with their patients was frustrated that eating disorders services tended to finish at 5pm and nothing was available over the weekend.  They asked me, as the web and digital services manager, what we could do to rectify this. We looked at various social media engines and deemed that whilst we liked the model, we didn’t like the lack of control associated with them.

So, we designed our own Support Hope and Recovery Online Network (SHaRON), a social networking e-health system initially created for people who have eating disorders.  Carelink provided the infrastructure and SHaRON became the first of its kind, providing an always available 24/7 solution, connecting individuals to each other and to their care providers.  The online therapeutic and social networking platform, similar to Facebook, combines very high levels of security and is easy to use for individuals with eating disorders and their clinicians.

Our initial aim was to provide a safe, secure and comfortable environment for service users, relatives and carers alike to talk and support each other. Over the past seven years, we’ve found it to be highly successful and we now have hundreds of users on the system. In recent surveys we carried out, over 80% of SHaRON users agree that it has been helpful in their recovery.

We have now expanded SHaRON out to other services at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, to support individuals with early intervention psychosis and relatives and carers of children in our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).


Q: Do you think there are current barriers to mental health care and what can digital technology do to help?

A: Mental health issues are 24/7, 365 days a year, but unless you are acutely ill in hospital, traditionally mental health services are usually 9 to 5 with crisis services providing out of hours care. An e-health system like SHaRON is invaluable in providing support to its users who might struggle in the evenings, during the night and at weekends, and relieves the pressure on crisis mental healthcare services. Digital technology also helps avoid appointment cancellations and helps patients who live more remotely in rural communities or who are reliant on public transport to stay connected. It alleviates the pressure on mental health staffing; they can now be online and responsive to clients whilst completing other administrative work. We’ve also empowered peer moderators, recovered service users, who are trained and supervised to work for us at no extra cost. This also has huge benefits to their on-going recovery.


Q: How important is networking for people with mental health issues?

A: Mental health can cause both physical and perceived social isolation and many people won’t want to go out and engage with anybody.  By having a system like SHaRON, we are creating a safe networking environment for our users; they can access it when they want to, in addition to attending appointments.  Our service users are anonymous to each other, with their own nicknames, so they don’t feel judged about anything they might say to anyone else. This is so much easier for mental health patients than face to face networking, which involves all the social skills they might really struggle with.  Even if they haven’t been able to get out of bed and wash their hair or have a shower, they can still access the support they need with a digital service


Q: Do you find people are more willing to discuss any problems they have through an online network, as opposed to face-to-face care?

A: We’ve been really surprised at the diversity of the subjects people will talk about online; we could put this down to the fact that the person is anonymous and the platform is non-judgemental – we can’t see their age, ethnicity, social class, physical appearance, sexuality, etc.  We all make judgements even when we try not to and an online network eliminates any judgements straight away. It has a huge impact on people to have a safe space, like SHaRON, where they can share intimate and deeply personal matters that they can’t necessarily to talk to anyone else about. And they are guaranteed an empathetic and compassionate response. SHaRON is not a stand-alone treatment; it is part of a wider care pathway that we provide to our patients that includes one to one and group therapy with our clinical multi-disciplinary teams.


Q: How secure is the infrastructure and what systems are in place to ensure no data is shared without consent?

A: SHaRON is completely anonymous, so within the database all users go by nicknames.  Even though outside the network, professionals within the Trust are entrusted with users’ identities.  The infrastructure is as secure as we can possibly make it. The Carelink infrastructure is penetration tested at least twice a year by third party penetration testers and we ourselves test their infrastructure through programmes with NHS England. We also use our own resources to penetration test the actual SHaRON application. Our SHaRON developers are certified penetration testers following their completion of hacking and penetration training courses. We are GDPR compliant and also have an ISO BSI Information Management of Security certification which requires us to be audited by the BSI and to develop infrastructure in a secure and structured way.


Q: What’s the overall digital infrastructure like for the Trust?

A: We are a global digital exemplar (GDE), one of only seven mental health trusts in the UK, so we take digital very seriously. We have dedicated digital transformation teams who are devoted to looking at digital solutions in healthcare across the world to decide whether to introduce them into the Trust to future-proof for a digital age.  In fact, we are in the top percentile of the NHS England’s digital maturity index. From the executive down, we believe in a digital enabled future and know it’s the way forward in delivering the highest standard and most efficient services.


Q: What was it like building the network and getting it funded by the NHS?

A: It took three business cases to secure funding, but it was relatively straight forward.  Even back in 2009, the Trust was forward thinking and I never had a ‘no’; I just needed to evidence it better in order for it to be accepted. Eventually, I was given the funding and support to design the new e-health system.  We needed a partner to build this mission critical system, so we chose to work with Carelink.  Carelink was already an experienced and established network hosting provider within the healthcare sector. The company supported the NHS intranet with its own N3 connection (now replaced by HSCN) and could provide the best access to data centre infrastructure via a fully managed service.  Today, the continued support that Carelink offers is second to none.


Q: What do you think the NHS needs to have more of in terms of digital adoption?

A: Some NHS organisations are so busy doing their day jobs, they just don’t have the time or capacity to think about digital adoption.  You might not need to build your own system, but it is having the breathing space to innovate and be able to find the right digital solution.  People often think that it will cost thousands to move towards digital, but a lot of digital solutions are low cost yet have the potential to transform trusts, like elearning platforms, which are open source and don’t cost anything. Unless the NHS gives people the ability to take time out from delivering and put time into thinking then innovation will stagnate and it won’t support digital adoption.

SHaRON started with a clinician who noticed limitations to the service he was providing. Clinicians need someone within the NHS that they can approach that is willing to take a risk and give a new idea a go – that is how you will transform services.  The NHS needs transformation and digital is one of those ways that can really make it happen quickly.

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Using social media to understand health risks and deliver health interventions at scale

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HIPAA and Social Media: Are Your Employees Aware of the Rules?

HIPAA and Social Media: Are Your Employees Aware of the Rules? | Social Media and Healthcare |

In April 2018, an EMS worker in Roane County, Tennessee posted a status update on Facebook detailing a somewhat atypical call out. After visiting a property where a man had had a heart attack and died, the EMS worker posted the following message on Facebook – “well, we had a first … We worked a code in a chicken coop! Knee deep in chicken droppings.”

The post did not mention the patient’s name, or any other PHI, although the post could potentially have allowed the individual to be identified. It certainly allowed the woman’s husband to identify her husband from the post.

A complaint was made, the matter was investigated, and the EMS worker was reprimanded, but that was not the end of it. Questions have also been raised about whether HIPAA Rules were violated. In this case, no PHI was mentioned, but the uniqueness of the location allowed her husband to be identified.

While the jury is still out over whether HIPAA Rules were violated in this case, these types of incidents are commonplace, and in many cases, they involve much clearer violations of HIPAA Rules.

If any PHI is added to a post on Facebook or any other social media platform without first having obtained consent from the patient, it is a violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. That applies to the sharing of photos on social media, posting or sharing medical documents, or any information that could allow a patient to be identified. That applies to posts viewable by anyone as well as posts in a private group.

HIPAA Social Media Violations

  • In 2017, a med tech took a photo of a deceased patient who had been killed in a car crash and posted the photo on Facebook with the message – “Should have worn her seatbelt”. The patient could be identified from the image.
  • In 2017, when a patient visited an emergency room to have an object removed from her genitalia, at least one healthcare employee took a photo of the unconscious woman and shared the image.
  • Two employees shared an image of a screenshot on social media about a woman’s STD diagnosis on a Facebook group with 2,300 members. In that case, the workers were fired and sued.
  • A ProPublica investigation published in December 2015 uncovered 47 incidents of nursing home workers who had taken photographs and videos of patients being abused and shared those images and videos via social media – Often private Facebook groups.
These are just a very small selection of some of the HIPAA social media violations that are occurring on a regular basis. All it takes is for one worker to carelessly post a message on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site that reveals protected health information for patient privacy and HIPAA Rules to be violated. Such actions leave the worker and their organization liable for substantial fines.

Healthcare organizations should create a clear policy on social media use and ensure it is communicated to all staff. Healthcare employees should be instructed never to share PHI on social media sites, but also never to discuss any patient matters over social media, even if PHI is not mentioned. It is too easy for posts to be linked to specific patients – from dates and locations for example.

Healthcare workers should be told that it is not acceptable to share gossip about patients on social media channels with co-workers.

Before any photo is posted on social media, healthcare workers should be told to carefully check the images to make sure there is no PHI in the post, such as information on a printed report or a photo of a patient in the background.

Healthcare employees should be encouraged to report any potential social media violations by co-workers. If a HIPAA violation has occurred, it is essential that action is taken. HIPAA requires notifications to be issued and corrective actions must be taken to prevent any further violations of HIPAA Rules.

If healthcare organizations fail to train staff on the potential HIPAA violations that can occur via social media or if too little is done to prevent social media violations, fines for noncompliance can be issued and they can be severe.

A fine of up to $1.5 million is possible per violation category, which can be multiplied by the number of years that the violation has been allowed to persist.

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Stepping up in social media: trust and participation are the new imperatives 

Stepping up in social media: trust and participation are the new imperatives  | Social Media and Healthcare |

or marketers the greatest fascination with digital and social engagement is their ability to be tracked and ‘measured’. But let’s be clear on what digital and social can actually deliver.

The engagement through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest is tangible. Companies and brands can finally work out communication’s ROI: traditionally we have interpreted a click and a ‘like’ as expressions of interest and approval and we have gone as far as considering ‘sharing’ as an endorsement. However, with attention spans plummeting, these actions are often becoming mindless behaviours – the spreading of fake health news is a dangerous sign of this trend. How can we help people go beyond the headline and engage with a message on a more personal level so that it might form part of a behavioural change journey?

There is another dimension where bespoke digital platforms and social media can deliver not simply measurable engagement but the development of a deeper and more productive connection with your target audience. Messaging platforms such as Messenger and WhatsApp – the so-called dark social – allow personal communications that simulate the one-to-one consultation desperately sought by patients; online communities enable knowledge sharing and co-creation. The era of social media as a megaphone is over; true engagement is about participation and the time, data and ideas that your audience is willing to share with you.

So, how do health brands carve a legitimate place and role for themselves in this space? And what are the rules of engagement? Trust is the name of the game: in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and with  GDPR coming into force in May, we can expect – and hope – that people will be much more vigilant about which companies they interact with and what 
kind of data they share. Big health brands will have an advantage, while lesser-known companies will need to build  a network of partners to boost  their reputation. For the same reasons, patients are likely to become more aware of the value of their data, knowledge and ideas. They will seek rewards for participation, and the social media experiences that health brands will launch will need to give more significant value, in  the form of information,  support and long-term benefits, to get meaningful engagement.

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6 Simple Ways to Go the Extra Mile for Patients

6 Simple Ways to Go the Extra Mile for Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

Everyone is guilty of getting caught up in the day-to-day grind, right? We have so much to do and so little time to do it. We know first hand from the medical practices we serve how crazy things can get.

Sometimes, successful marketing is just about going above and beyond and delivering an exceptional customer service experience (especially in today’s age of online reviews that can make or break your practice). Sure, part of marketing is getting the patients in the door, but the other part is converting them into lifelong lovers of your practice.

With that said, we wanted to share 5 simple ways to go the extra mile for patients without creating a ton of work for you. They’ll love the office for it and you’ll look all the better to the guys in white coats that sign your checks. Plus, we’ll bring these tips together with a real-life case study at the end.

1. Answer the Call on Social Media

Someone actively manages your social media accounts, right? When someone checks in on Facebook, respond to them immediately and say you’re glad to see them and ask if there’s anything they need. An overwhelming amount of time they won’t need anything, but they’ll be extremely glad you responded and engaged with them.

That’s a story they’ll tell their friends, as silly as it may sound. If they do need something? Do what you can to get it, or find someone who can help. They’ll be forever grateful and, odds are, their request is small and reasonable.

Another way to go above and beyond the call of duty with your patients is to use social media to send out important updates that may affect your patients such as doctors running very late that day, or announcing practice hours for upcoming holidays. See the case study below for more details.

2. Free Internet: a BIG Bonus

We know that delays are almost inevitable in the day-to-day management of your practice. Whether it’s because a physician was running late from an extensive surgery at the hospital or because a doctor took extra time to explain a diagnosis and treatment options to a worried patient, unavoidable wait times in the lobby seem to have become a fact of medical practice life.

However, one way to mitigate patient frustration around wait times is to offer your patients free internet access while they wait. Have a sign at the reception in your lobby that provides the network name and password so your patients won’t need to ask. They will be impressed by your modern-day initiative!

3. Provide a Snack or Two

A little TLC goes a long way. We suggest randomly having coffee, donuts or other snacks in the waiting area. Nothing gets people excited like free food. It’s a great way to show your patients you care by giving them a little something extra.

Often, it will change someone’s day (and have them raving about your office). If you really want to impress them, hand out the food personally and take a moment to make them smile. Crazy, right? Again, don’t miss our example below for how your waiting room can mean the difference between a disastrous or a glowing review.

4. Thank You Cards For the Win

A great way to make patients feel special is to send them a thank you card after a big surgery, and also a greeting card around the holidays (or, more realistically, have a giant pile of thank you cards and get the doctor to sign them). Then, just drop them in the mail as needed.

Your patients spend thousands of dollars with you; so, paying fifty cents and taking a few seconds to mail them a card is the least you can do…and they’ll love you and the doctor for sending out a personalized card just for them.

5. Create an Event When There Aren’t Any

Host events that allow patients to talk to doctors. There’s a doctor based in California that does a “Walk with a Doc” event every month. He and a few staff members meet up at a park to take a walk. Patients are welcome to join them, just to mingle and chat.

Think about how many doctors do that in your area? Go ahead and name one.

The dividends thinking outside the box like this can pay with both existing and prospective patients and their families are astounding.

6. Holiday Food Drives

There’s that “F” word again. A lot of people host food drives and support causes around holiday time, so why don’t you? Contact a local organization and put up a display so patients can donate as they walk in. At the end of the month, mention how much you raised and share the word on social media and in newsletters.

If you really want to get crazy, host a different drive each month, and at the end of the year you can recap how much you raised and the impact it had in the community. Being more active in your community never hurts, and patients will love your office even more for the amount you give back.

Not only that, but you can boost employee morale at the same time. Consult your staff and choose a cause that is close to their hearts. This will inspire your employees to bond with each other on a deeper level, take pride something they are passionate about, and fill them with pride, joy, and a sense of fulfillment.

REAL WORLD EXAMPLE: Your Waiting Room to the Rescue? Or Not!

Dr. Jones was in surgery all night and is running late for his appointments. However, the practice has not passed this information on to any of their scheduled patients that day.

Scenario 1:

After sitting and twiddling her thumbs for twenty minutes, Jenny is starting to fume. She rushed out early to make her appointment on time and skipped breakfast in the process. The chairs in the lobby are old and uncomfortable (her back is sore already). And there is nothing to read except for a few outdated issues of Star magazine. After thirty minutes, she is downright livid. She grabs her phone, snaps a picture of the furniture and dull magazines and posts them to her Facebook page with the message: “@Dr. Jones’ practice: 30 minutes late, not a word to anyone, and nothing to read but this dribble…can you spell F-R-U-S-T-R-A-T-I-O-N?”


Scenario 2:

On the way to her appointment, Jenny receives a notification on Twitter, Facebook, and text message. It informs her that Dr. Jones was up all night in surgery and is running behind. She sighs but is grateful to have been given a heads up…on social media no less!

Upon arrival, Jenny is astonished to find hot tea, coffee, and breakfast buns laid out in the waiting area. Again, she greatly appreciates the gesture because she skipped  breakfast to be on time and is starving.

A sign has been posted in the waiting room apologizing for the delay and providing the network and password information for free internet service. Jenny is so amazed she takes out her phone and takes a picture of the snacks, the modern and cozy chairs, and the latest issues of Vanity Fair magazine on the side tables. She then posts the lot onto her Facebook page saying “If only all medical practices would treat their patients like this…thank you, Dr. Jones!”

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JMIR-Using Social Media to Target Cancer Prevention in Young Adults: 

JMIR-Using Social Media to Target Cancer Prevention in Young Adults:  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States and a major growing public health burden. Primary prevention is an important strategy of focus as the burgeoning scientific research supports the notion that a large portion of cancer is preventable [1,2]. Although the etiology of cancer is multifactorial and complex and differs across specific types of cancer, it has been well established that approximately 50% to 60% of all cancers can be reduced with behavior change such as vaccination, physical activity, weight control and maintenance, reducing alcohol consumption, and smoking cessation [3,4]. Given this context, it is critical for public health efforts to prioritize the fostering of positive health behaviors to reduce the future burden of cancer.

Many of these health behaviors are considered modifiable risk factors, and to an extent, may be more susceptible to change and influence during critical age periods over one’s life course. Cancer prevention efforts have traditionally focused on older adults aged 40 years and over, who tend to be eligible for most cancer screenings and have more health awareness as they naturally experience more health issues with aging. However, much less attention has been paid to cancer prevention strategies targeted to younger age demographics, such as those aged 18-29 years, and, in particular, to strategies tailored through the use of new media. It is imperative to target young adults to promote cancer prevention behaviors before cancer develops. This younger age group is a critical developmental period that can set the stage for forming mindsets and worldviews that will ultimately shape future health habits and lifestyles [5,6]. Although cancer does not commonly occur in this age group, it is important to focus on prevention earlier in life, as cancer exposures are generally thought to occur earlier in life and contribute to cancers that are more commonly diagnosed among those 40 years and older (eg, lung, breast, colorectal, and prostate). Cancer prevention behaviors include these upstream behaviors, which can be modified earlier in life and directly relevant to young adults, as well as the more proximal action of completing recommended cancer screening, which is generally not relevant to young adults for the most common cancers (breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers).

The generation of young adults born from 1995 onwards are considered digital natives and defined as people “born or brought up during the age of digital technology and therefore familiar with computers and the internet from an early age” [7]. Young adults aged 18-29 years are the most frequent users of social media; in 2016, 86% of them used at least one social media site [8] and 92% engaged with 2 or more devices simultaneously including mobile phones, tablets, PC, and TV [9]. Social media must be considered as a public health strategy in young adults, simply because it is embedded in their everyday lives. To effectively reach them, health communication must occur where they are, engaging in online platforms, and must also be tailored using effective cancer prevention messaging uniquely suited for particular online platforms. For example, Twitter messages are limited to 280 characters and cancer prevention messaging to younger populations must take into design the linguistic and cultural factors in how to effectively communicate and engage young adults through Twitter.

In this viewpoint paper, we focus on social media and past use in primary cancer prevention in the general population and discuss how these studies can be applied to young adults to reduce the burden of cancer in the next generation of older adults. We reflect on the current state of the field and offer discussion on how previous research has implications for considering measurement and theoretical issues in future directions of research. Specifically, we provide an example of theoretical considerations from our current work (Lyson et al. Social media as a tool to promote health awareness: results from an online cervical cancer prevention study. Under review, submitted April 2018), describe various types of studies using social media for health communication with young adult digital natives with supporting examples, highlight methodological considerations in conducting studies in this field, and propose to integrate the life course perspective of cancer prevention with new forms of media, both of which overlap in the focus on young adults and lifestyle behavior change to present a unique opportunity for researchers to test effective cancer prevention strategies using social media.


Theoretical Considerations

Theoretical considerations are an important component in conducting rigorous research in social media and health. Specifically, behavior change interventions are most effectively guided and tested by conceptual frameworks appropriate for the target audience. As an example, in our past and current work, Bandura’s social cognitive theory, an interpersonal-level health behavior theory [10], has been the most relevant theory to apply to research questions focused on social media influences on health behaviors. This theory encompasses social influences on health in a wide variety of settings and can naturally be extended to the social media environment. Social cognitive theory is used to explain how people learn behaviors by observing others and through vicarious reinforcement. It emphasizes reciprocal causation of behaviors between the self and society, in which personal factors in the form of cognitive, affective, and biological events, behavioral patterns, and environmental events all operate as interacting determinants that influence each other bidirectionally, that is, “reciprocal determinism” (Figure 1). As part of the environment, Web-based social media frames and reinforces social norms; social media sites have their own “rules” for reinforcement of messages and content in terms of likes, shares, and comments that are much more explicit than in everyday life.

When applied to social media communication, social cognitive theory suggests that new ideas, values, behavior patterns, and social practices are rapidly diffused worldwide through observational learning, in part through social networks. The concept of reciprocal determinism is critical to behavior change via Web-based social networks. Not only do individuals learn facts and information from social media but they are also actively shaping the social media sites to be broader networks for social change or political movements through their participation. This reciprocity sets the stage for peer-to-peer influence, as in studies in which groups interact via Web-based social media to address health issues. Furthermore, social media enriches the availability of public health data in the environment; in Bandura’s model, social media provides a “socially mediated pathway” to disseminate communication by linking people to social networks and community settings that provide natural incentives and continued personalized guidance for desired change. The social media activities of public health organizations, such as vaccination campaigns from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) delivered via Twitter, allow for dissemination and reinforcement of health behaviors. The concept of “observational learning,” that individuals learn from watching others perform a given behavior, informs how behavior can spread via Web-based social media.

Figure 1. Reciprocal determinism in Bandura’s social cognitive theory for behavior change. View this figure


Current Research in Social Media and Health

Public health research using social media takes place on a spectrum ranging from using social media as a real-time data source to engaging target populations online to influence health behaviors. Automated analysis of passively collected social media data can be used for disease or behavioral surveillance, including for early identification of disease outbreaks [11]. Public health organizations also deliver health information and health promotion messages using social media. In fact, the CDC has a social media toolkit intended to facilitate public health communication efforts via social media by partners and stakeholders [12]. This approach is unidirectional; experts deliver content to lay participants. The assumption in this approach is that populations at risk are willing and able to engage with health-related content and subsequently modify behavior. More recently, public health researchers have used social media to deliver health interventions that harness the immediacy of Web-based communication as well as the influence of Web-based social networks [13]. In social media intervention research, researchers interact with participants online, and participants may interact with each other. To augment our viewpoint discussion, we highlight various study designs that have been employed using social media data sources, provide supporting examples from the literature, and discuss implications for future research in social media and health.

Observational Studies Using Social Media Data Sources

Because individuals, especially young adults, publicly share health information online, social media data can provide a robust data source for behaviors that are difficult to characterize and health data that are unavailable through traditional surveillance methods. This method of “mining” social media data for public health purposes is perhaps the most widely developed type of social media health research [14]. This type of observational research may be less prone to bias as people on social media typically do not act as though they are being observed for the purpose of research, in contrast to traditional research methods that explicitly recruit people to participate in research in academic settings and ask people to report on health-related behaviors. Myriad examples of this type of work exist across disparate public health domains including substance use [15], body weight-associated stigma [16], and infectious disease surveillance [11,17]. For example, Lyles et al performed this observational type of analysis for cervical cancer prevention discussions among young women on Twitter [18]. The analysis demonstrated that women do share publicly their experiences with cervical cancer screening, often with language encouraging peers to undergo screening as well. These user-generated health promotion messages are useful for characterizing public sentiment and informing public health messaging content. More recently, we analyzed Instagram data to characterize misuse of codeine on social media and found that codeine misuse was commonly represented with the ingestion of alcohol, cannabis, and/or benzodiazepines [19]. Our findings suggested that codeine misuse was represented as normalized behavior and found in mainstream commercialization of music and cartoons on social media. Because health behaviors are often difficult to capture in traditional observational research studies that rely on self-reported survey data, social media provides a unique lens through which stigmatized behaviors can be observed through a “fly on the wall” perspective.

This literature demonstrates that public health professionals can learn about community perceptions of cancer prevention-relevant behaviors by examining social media content. There is still much unrealized potential for connecting social media content and sentiment to real-world health behaviors. Thus far, one effective use of social media data has been in the area of “infoveillance” such as in influenza forecasting [20] and real-time outbreak identification [21]. Using geocode tags from social media data content could likewise be used to geographically pinpoint challenges and opportunities in cancer prevention behaviors; this methodology has been previously applied to infectious disease outbreak research. However, as a typical methodological concern for all self-reported data, the information on the user’s location is largely based on what is provided in their user profile, which may not be complete or accurate information. For Twitter data, it is estimated that about 1% to 2% of tweets are shown to be geotagged [22].

Observational studies using social media data have the advantage of accessing vast amounts of public data readily available in real time. This immediacy is a major advantage of using social media data to inform public health surveillance. However, methodological challenges remain in conducting rigorous and unbiased studies using social media data. Social media data are user-driven data and depend on the population who chooses to publicly share information. This is a self-selected group and may not represent the general population. Access to the internet and privacy concerns influence the likelihood of posting information online [23]. Internet access, particularly on mobile devices, is growing rapidly among young adults, and mobile internet is well suited to social media use. Privacy concerns are common, but younger adults compared with older adults are more likely to have shared personal information online [23], potentially enhancing generalizability in this age group. A second limitation of social media content as a public health data source is its unstructured nature, making comparisons across platforms or even individual messages challenging. Moreover, it is often impossible to verify the identity or other relevant details about individuals who post online. In general, social media posts often lack identification, demographic information, and other details. Social media data analysis must be interpreted in light of these inherent limitations.

Unidirectional Mass Communication Health Promotion via Web-Based Social Media

Governmental organizations such as the CDC and the National Cancer Institute have used social media marketing strategies to deliver a wide array of health promotion content through multiple dissemination channels and platforms, such as blogs, Twitter, and Facebook [24]. Researchers have also used an online marketing approach for cancer prevention. As an example, Cidre-Serrano et al used Google AdWords to display skin cancer prevention messages on individuals’ search results page when users searched for tanning beds [25]. These prevention advertisements were displayed over 200,000 times over 2 months with a click-through ratio of 1%, which is generally considered sufficient for commercial purposes. Google for NonProfits and other Web-based platforms provide a limited amount of free advertising for nonprofit organizations, making this a low-cost approach for qualifying organizations. In general, the unidirectional strategy of “pushing” content at individuals has the advantages of being low-cost with a significant reach, as well as the ability to target content to specific high-risk groups (eg, young women who use tanning beds). However, data are lacking about the effect of health promotion messages delivered online. An example of planned work to address this gap would be to learn whether a Facebook advertising-based intervention aimed at reducing indoor tanning would shift knowledge and attitudes about indoor tanning and reduce individual intent to use tanning beds to ultimately prevent melanoma in high-risk groups.

Web-based social media is a powerful advertising and marketing tool as 88% of businesses use social media [26]; however, commercial entities have been shown to use social media to promote unhealthy behaviors. For example, Ricklefs et al documented the indoor tanning industry’s use of social media as a strategy for maintaining relationships with customers and to offer pricing deals that promote high-frequency tanning [27]. Similarly, e-cigarette advertising is prevalent on Twitter, particularly in states that limit other forms of tobacco advertising [28].

Provision of public health information or promotion via social media is subject to many of the same limitations as mass-media public health campaigns [29]. Social media messages are well integrated into the lives of users and can be easily accessible when they need it the most. The potential for health campaigns to go “viral,” increasing the audience size and impact, is a theoretical advantage of social media campaigns compared with traditional approaches, but it cannot be predicted or planned. Insomuch as content is easily accessible, it is, however, also easy to turn off. As with billboards, it remains unclear whether health content is reaching its intended audience. On social media, for example, many public health and medical professionals follow CDC on Twitter, but the extent of dissemination to the lay public is unknown. As with all unidirectional public health messaging, it is challenging to accurately assess the effect of such campaigns on health outcomes amidst the many other health influences in the individual’s environment. To measure the effectiveness of public health messages, innovative sampling and methods and proxy outcomes may be needed.

Web-Based Social Media Interventions for Cancer Prevention Behaviors

Social media can also be used as a delivery platform for conducting intervention studies aimed at promoting health and wellness [13,30]. Web-based interventions have significant advantages: cost, ease of participation, and ability to scale up. These interventions can also harness the interaction dynamics of Web-based social networks and create positive peer-to-peer momentum for behavior change. For instance, in the area of smoking cessation, the Tobacco Status Project (TSP) is a Facebook intervention for young adult smokers combining messaging, peer-to-peer interaction, online counseling sessions, and group cognitive-behavioral sessions. A feasibility trial achieved 72% follow-up rates and an 18% rate of reported 7-day abstinence at 12 months (9% verified) [31]. Importantly, engagement in the intervention was high, with 92% participation in the full 3-month intervention [32]. These results demonstrate that Web-based social media platforms can be used to deliver behavioral interventions; however, the content, mode of delivery, and network structure all require careful planning and evaluation [33,34]. A clinical trial testing the efficacy of TSP on biochemically verified smoking abstinence is underway [35]. We believe that conducting interventions via social media platforms requires further study to understand the specific components that contribute to intervention effectiveness, such as the ideal intensity/timing/duration of the intervention, how/which Web-based social networks to access (general social networking vs disease-specific sites), the mix of peer-to-peer versus expert support for behavior change, how to escalate to “real-life” interventions such as pharmacologic treatment for tobacco (eg, nicotine replacement), and how to address Web-based misinformation and foster trust of information.

One of the major challenges in social media research is the rapid pace at which social media platforms evolve online and gain and lose popularity for certain segments of society. For example, Facebook has gained more users in the older age groups and has lost favor with younger age groups who have migrated to other platforms such as Snapchat. Research involving specific social media platforms can quickly become outdated as it can take several years for research studies to be funded, implemented, and ultimately published. This can be a frustrating challenge for researchers engaged in social media and health studies; although there are no easy solutions to this, there are possibilities to reframe the research questions to be more platform-agnostic and thus more widely applicable to the understanding how social media affects health behaviors. A more conceptual approach, driven by conceptual frameworks, to the research question can shed insights on constructs underlying social interactions that influence health behavior, as opposed to relying on specific platform. In considering the choice of platforms, researchers should prepare to be nimble and course-correct if they realize that the target audience or research question does not match the intended platform. Funded research should consider alternate platforms as part their research strategy and anticipate potential problems and alternative solutions to meet the needs of the research question.

Although social media interventions have the significant advantage of reaching people where they are, more complex health behaviors such as quitting smoking may require more intensive interventions beyond online social interactions. For instance, replacing in-person tobacco cessation counseling with online counseling allows participants to receive content without consuming transportation time, and at their convenience; however, there is a concern that delivering interventions online may dilute their effectiveness, especially because of the lack of personal connection. Moreover, many evidence-based interventions developed to be delivered in-person or via telephone require significant adaptation for Web-based social media [33], and reach, efficacy, and implementation may differ significantly. Future studies should incorporate rigorous methodological approaches in the design and evaluation of social media interventions by drawing on appropriate conceptual frameworks and evaluation methods from implementation sciences [36] regardless of whether they are newly developed or are adopted from existing interventions, because the “rules of engagement” online are so different from traditional health intervention environments.

Measuring outcomes is a methodological challenge in all types of studies. For social media and health research, there are various ways in which outcome measures can be obtained: (1) enrolling participants online and obtaining informed consent to follow participants for behavior change, (2) partnering with platforms to examine online actions (social media analytics such as click-throughs, page-viewing behaviors, purchases, etc), and (3) partnering with health systems for data linkage and online/clinic-hybrid interventions (linkage with electronic health records). These approaches combine traditional research methods of data collection (ie, direct data collection from participants through surveys) with innovative partnerships with social media platforms and health systems to provide a more comprehensive collection of outcome data to ascertain intervention effectiveness.



In this new era of communication, social media has tremendous potential to improve public health as it has permeated society across all socioeconomic strata and races/ethnicities [37]. Young adults comprise a diverse population on social media, which has implications for addressing future disparities in cancer. The range of research described in this viewpoint paper harnesses a variety of disciplines, ranging from data science to social science. There is a need to ensure that multidisciplinary research teams have the appropriate expertise to conduct the research; the team’s composition should be driven by the expertise needed for the proposed research questions (data science, disease-specific/clinical expertise, behavioral science, communication sciences, public health professionals, social marketing experts, and qualitative and quantitative methods). Furthermore, research is needed to understand the effects as well as risks of using social media for cancer prevention in young adults to determine the impact on reducing the future burden of cancer. Use of social media as a health promotion tool seems most relevant to modifiable behavioral risk factors in young adults and warrants further research to prevent cancer in the next generation.

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8 Medical Marketing Ideas for Promoting Continued Medical Education (CME) Events

8 Medical Marketing Ideas for Promoting Continued Medical Education (CME) Events | Social Media and Healthcare |

Continuing medical education (CME) helps medical professionals develop skills and knowledge. Marketing can make or break the success of these events, so it's important to plan a successful promotional campaign that provides you with a return on your investment. Here are eight strategies for promoting your next CME event.


1. Market Segmentation

Market segmentation — a method where marketers divide consumers into groups based on common collective characteristics — helps you tailor your CME products and courses to meet the requirements of prospective learners. Market segmentation variables include the age and location of medical professionals and how long they have worked in their field.

One study suggests that you should tailor CME marketing based on your target audience. You might want to target family physicians if you are marketing a CME course for local doctors, for example. Alternatively, focus on medical specialists if your program takes place over a longer period of time, like a two-day event.

Creating personas of your target audience members is a helpful way to market to the right people. What communication channels do they use the most? What type of messaging are they more likely to respond to? Developing personas can also help you to advertise the right product to the corresponding medical professional.

2. Email Marketing

Chances are you have a treasure trove of marketing potential in your CRM database. Start a few email campaigns and re-target people who have already attended a past event or interacted with one of your courses or products. It's much easier to market to people who are already familiar with your organization than getting brand new registrants.

Go a step further and get specific. For example, pull a list of everyone who attended a specific meeting or purchased a specific CME product and write a campaign just for them. Personalization wins in email marketing. It may sound tedious to create a specific campaign for just a few people, but they are qualified leads, likely to convert. This means the ROI for your efforts will be more favorable because these leads have already shown interest in what you have to offer.

Wondering how to establish a solid email list for marketing CME? Check out these pro tips!

3. Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a marketing tactic that increases the visibility of your CME website on search engines like Google. The higher you rank for a valuable keyword or phrase — "CME courses in Houston," for example — the more chance you have of boosting conversions and selling more tickets to your next event. If you want to increase exposure of your CME course, invest in SEO.


[RELATED: Just getting the hang of SEO? See everything you’ll need to know for your SEO strategy in 2018.]


Still not convinced? Seventy-five percent of search users never click past the second page of search results, making SEO crucial for marketers. Local SEO is arguably the most important base to cover when ramping up an SEO strategy. Potential attendees will be able to search for conferences in specific locations and see your listing pop up in the results. It’s essential to advertise to the areas in which your conferences will be held; however, be wary of keyword stuffing - it will get you penalized by Google.

4. Paid Digital Ads

With paid digital ads, you can reach valuable demographics such as residents and fellows, students, physicians, nurses and people who have attended one of your CME events in the past.

This marketing method lets you advertise CME services in sponsored listings on search engines, so you can boost your event attendance. Although paid digital ads require an initial outlay, it could provide you with long-lasting results. Google Adwords - specifically for the health and medical industries - has a click-through-rate (CTR) of 1.79 and a .37 percent CTR on the Google Display Network (GDN) for paid advertising.

Even though the CTR of the health and medical industry is relatively lower than other industries in Google Search, the Google Display Network CTR of the health and medical industry is higher than other industries. Therefore, it’s wise to use GDN as long as PPC advertising is an advertising avenue you’re considering.

5. Mobile

Mobile is a powerful marketing channel for promoting a CME event. You can optimize your mobile site to attract more prospects from search engines and target medical professionals who use their smartphone or tablet to search for information online.

Recent research demonstrates the power of a good mobile medical marketing strategy. In 2013, CME provider Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Academy created a mobile version of its website — so more people could register for CME events — and launched paid search campaigns that targeted smartphone and tablet users. Visits to the provider's website from mobile devices increased by 1,800 percent after they implemented these changes.

6. Upselling Other CME Events

People who have attended one of your CME events in the past might want to book another one. This is where upselling comes in. You can suggest courses to previous attendees that they might be interested in and boost event sales. Research shows that upselling increases customer happiness, retention, and revenue.

Struggling to upsell your CME events? MedEd Manager does all the hard work for you. This learning management software has a proprietary tagging tool that recommends courses and products to people who visit your website.

These five marketing methods help you plan your next CME event. If you want to increase the number of sign-ups to your course, start segmenting your customers, investing in mobile marketing, experimenting with paid digital ads, checking out search engine optimization and upselling similar products.

7. Launch a Social Media Campaign

Social media allows an inside scoop into the happenings at your organization. If your social media channels are fun, educational, and helpful, visitors will assume your events and products will be the same. In turn, making them more likely to not only interact and engage on social media, but purchase your CME products and attend your events.

A few easy, engaging social media posts to get started with are:

  • Trivia questions
  • CME questions (taken from one of your products perhaps?)
  • Interesting tidbits from your industry
  • Photos of your staff and members at work, home, or even fun personal pictures like how they celebrate vacations or holidays.

The possibilities are endless!

There are some assumptions that “physician-only” social channels (such as Sermo, Doximity and QuantiaMD) are the best way to engage medical professionals, but these are not necessarily true. Studies have actually shown that 53 percent of nursing schools - not including the students themselves - use platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram either on a professional or personal level.

8. Add Helpful Resources to your Website

Your website is also a place to showcase your organization and what you do. Do you have any resources that you can provide for free? OR better yet, resources to provide in exchange for an email address (to boost your email database)?

Even if you don't have a blog, you can still provide handy information, answers to frequently asked questions, resources for your members to connect, and other valuable assets to not only establish yourself as an industry expert, but provide value towards your SEO efforts. Have you tried adding Google reviews to your website? Reviews not only give your services credibility, but help potential customers make a decision.

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Healthcare Marketing, Healthcare Marketing Strategy - Beginners Guide 

Healthcare Marketing, Healthcare Marketing Strategy - Beginners Guide  | Social Media and Healthcare |

If you are running a healthcare facility, you are no longer just a medical provider – you are also a businessperson. And every business needs to be promoted in order to find more customers and improve its brand image in the marketplace. In short, promoting and marketing your healthcare facility is a fundamental part of your healthcare marketing plan.

You may have a great patient base and experienced staff and offer excellent services, but if you want to grow your practice, you need to build an effective marketing strategy. This means putting some serious thought into who your target audience is, how you plan to improve your bottom line and how you can attract more patients and retain existing ones.

A clear focus on your target audience will help you tailor your services and implement marketing strategies accordingly. It is critical to take a step back from day-to-day activities and apply an entrepreneurial mindset. By thinking like a business owner, you can assess what you are good at, what your patients need and what your competitors are offering.




Fundamentals of Healthcare Marketing

Every medical practice owner understands the importance of a marketing strategy, but not every owner has the time or resources to build and implement an effective strategy. So, what are the fundamentals of building a winning healthcare marketing strategy?

Website: Your website is the first impression potential patients are going to have of your practice. Most of your digital marketing efforts will also point toward your website. The most effective way to generate a steady stream of patients is to build a professional website that has relevant content, is optimized for search engine optimization (SEO) and is mobile-friendly. Your website should reflect the personality of your medical practice.

Social networks: Social networks offer a host of advantages for medical practitioners because they allow potential patients to get to know you before seeing you in the exam room. In addition, social networks make great public forums for sharing health-related information and special events. As a healthcare provider, you can use social networks to ask insightful questions about your services, staff and procedures.

Blogging: If done right, blogging can take your healthcare marketing strategy to the next level. If you blog twice or three times a week, not only does Google rank you higher than competitors, but other relevant websites will publish snippets of your content and give you attribution. When you consistently write useful blog posts, it enhances your credibility and builds trust between you and patients.

Referrals: Most practices need a referral base in order to thrive. Getting a new patient referral from another doctor requires relationship building. The first step is to identify which doctors will recommend your practice to their patients. You then have to plan a strategy to build and maintain relationships with those doctors. Attend conferences and meetings to seek networking opportunities. You can also ask your existing patients to refer their friends and family to your practice.

Search engine optimization (SEO): SEO is all about searching specific keywords for your healthcare practice. To choose the most relevant keywords, you will need to get into the minds of your patients. The more relevant keywords you pick, the more patients you will attract. Other than keywords, a factor that can affect SEO is your website’s speed. A website that loads quickly can boost your SEO efforts, whereas a website that takes a longer time will fail to engage visitors. In addition, good-quality content should be at the core of your SEO strategy.

Patient review sites: According to a survey by Software Advice, more than 77 percent of patients use online reviews as the first approach to finding a healthcare practice. The survey also revealed that almost 47 percent of patients would go out-of-network for a doctor who has positive reviews. These review sites can open the door for you to grow your practice and engage with your patients. Your practice will have a better chance of serving your patients well if you can use the power of online reviews for marketing your healthcare practice.

Online local directories: With the majority of patients using search engines to find local healthcare facilities, being listed in local directories is critical for the growth of your practice. These directories can improve the visibility of your practice and take it to the next level. While some of these local directories are specific to the medical community, other directories such as Google+ Local and Yahoo! Local are not industry-specific.

Email marketing: Collecting your patients’ e-mail addresses is critical to a successful marketing campaign. This is one of the best ways to remind patients of their upcoming appointments. You can schedule follow-up emails for three to five months after each appointment to ensure your patients do not miss their annual checkups. Through emails and newsletters, you can also update existing patients with healthcare tips, seasonal offers and discounts and updates about your practice.





Benefits of Healthcare Marketing

Healthcare marketing educates patients.

It has become critical for healthcare facilities to market their services in order to attract more patients, retain existing ones, increase the bottom line and improve their brand image.

Healthcare is an ever-evolving industry and it crucial for healthcare marketers to keep up with the changes. Healthcare marketing is important for a number of reasons, but it must be done correctly for existing as well as potential patients to trust it. How well your services are promoted is a direct reflection of how well you know your job. It is important to know your target audience because healthcare marketing strategies vary depending on the specialty, location and target audience.

Healthcare marketing allows your practice to thrive, but initially your target audience needs to know why your practice is better compared to the hundreds of other practices in their area. For this, you need to have an effective healthcare marketing strategy. Creating a healthcare marketing strategy specific to your needs will not only highlight the effectiveness of your services but will also position you as a provider who is trained to help patients.

Healthcare marketers who engage in blogging and answering online queries posted by searchers provide the valuable insights people are looking for to make informed decisions. When patients are informed, they have realistic expectations, which lead to better outcomes and higher satisfaction rates.

When implemented well, healthcare marketing can strengthen relationships with patients and present your practice in a more positive light. The most effective way to boost your patient base is by building stronger relationships with your existing patients and addressing any issues they may be having.




Key Challenges and Ways to Address Them

There are many challenges to maintaining a warm yet authoritative tone in healthcare marketing. However, with a thoughtful approach, it can be very rewarding. You must aim to be successful, not through selling services but through building trust and becoming a go-to resource for your target audience. A patient faced with a health problem is looking for the best and most cost-effective healthcare facility, and as a healthcare marketer, you have the option to connect with him or her and offer your unique services.

It is important to have an effective marketing strategy in place to grow your practice, attract new patients, retain existing ones, maintain relationships with referrers and retain staff. And all this while running an efficient and profitable practice.

Despite the fact that there are more ways than ever to market your practice and reach your target audience, healthcare marketers face a number of challenges:

Lack of investment: According to a report by Deloitte Consulting, healthcare marketers spent merely $1.4bn on digital marketing, a figure that lags marketers in other industries. The biggest consequence of this underinvestment is that it has created opportunities for third-party sites to become the go-to resources for potential patients looking for healthcare information online.

Lack of metrics to measure performance: While measuring the impact of marketing activities is top-of-mind for most marketers, it has not been as critical in healthcare because of the perceived role of marketing in healthcare facilities. This perception is changing, and many healthcare marketers are implementing growth and brand-related metrics.

Unstructured market: Healthcare is not like a typical, structured market. In the US, not many patients pay directly to healthcare providers for care and drugs; instead, third parties like insurers pay the bills and control the market. For healthcare marketers, this arrangement and market structure are the biggest challenges because even if you persuade a potential patient that your practice provides the best-quality care, the prospect might not be able to access your service.

From strict HIPAA regulations to a lack of marketing budget, healthcare marketers deal with limitations every single day. While the healthcare industry is becoming open to the latest digital marketing strategies and tricks, marketers still have a long way to go before they can gain flexibility for the most effective healthcare marketing.

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20 Incredible Medical Marketing Statistics

20 Incredible Medical Marketing Statistics | Social Media and Healthcare |

Below is a look at 20 medical or overall marketing related statistics that should influence the way you are marketing your practice. Video is exploding, content is king, winning the search battle is critical and so much more.

1. According to a Jackson Healthcare survey of physicians: The number of primary care physicians employed by hospitals increased from 10% in 2012 to 20% in 2014.

What this means:

Primary care doctors are being purchased by hospitals at a rapid pace so you need to adjust your marketing strategy as a private physician to reach them.

2. According to Pew Research: 72% of Internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year.

What this means:

Now more than ever patients are going to the internet to search for health information. Are they finding you when they are searching?

3. 47% of Internet users search for information about doctors or other health professionals

What this means:

Not only are people turning to the internet to research health information but they are looking for specific doctors in their area to treat what they believe ails them. Practices need to have local SEO as a focus of their digital marketing efforts.

4. 77% of potential patients are using search engines prior to ever booking an appointment says Think with Google’s The Digital Journey to Wellness: Hospital Selection..

What this means:

People are researching you and your competitors medical websites, third party sites, social media and reviews to gauge the sentiments of their fellow patients before booking an appointment.

5. Of marketers polled 72% found content creation was the most effective SEO tactic (Ascend2, 2015).

What this means:

If content marketing isn’t one of the main focuses of your medical marketing efforts you are losing the search battle.

6. Of all internet users 66% look online for information about a specific medical problem or disease. (Source)

What this means:

Creating a content marketing strategy toward addressing specific diseases or health problems your practice sees can help you gain additional site traffic because people are searching for this information.

7. 56% of internet users look online for information about a certain medical treatment or procedure. (Source)

What this means:

Similar to the previous statistic, producing content one the major procedures and differentiators your practice has can be very effective with the number of people actively searching for this information.

8. 44% of internet users look online for information about doctors or other health professionals. (Source)

What this means:

Physicians and doctors need to make sure their physician profiles across the internet (ex. Healthgrades, UCompareHealthcare, Vitals, etc.) are claimed, completed and regularly monitored because these play a major role in influencing who a patient books an appointment with.

9. Over 200 million people currently have an ad blocker installed on their browser.  (Source)

What this means:

This should be taken into consideration if you are using certain forms of digital advertisingbecause your Ads could be being blocked all together.

10. Medical Practices that are actively blogging have 97% more inbound links. (Source)

What this means:

QUALITY inbound links are critical to an effective SEO strategy and give a website substantial “juice” in search results.

11. 75% of internet users do not make it past the first page of search results. (Source)

What this means:

Ever heard the joke “The Best Place to Hide a Dead Body is Page Two of Google Search Results”? It’s the truth. The first page is the only real chance you have of getting substantial website traffic in search results.

12. Video content is consumed by 82% of Twitter users.

What this means:

Your medical practice needs to be utilizing Twitter to drive traffic and leads for you practice and the most effective way to engage with those users is through video.

13. 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week.

What this means:

If it’s not, video needs to start becoming part of your medical content marketing strategy. People now prefer to watch a 30 second video than read a 5-7 paragraph blog post.

14. 92 percent of the time viewers watching videos on a mobile device share videos with others.

What this means:

If you can grab the attention of mobile users via video there is an extremely high probability of them sharing your content with others verses on desktop.

15. Video on social media generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined.

What this means:

One more incredible stat on the clear direction people are going in their preference of content delivery. VIDEO.

16. 88% of Digital Media Consumption now takes place on mobile apps.

What this means:

You need to have your social media profiles optimized for viewing on social platform mobile applications because that is where most people will view and interact with your profiles. That includes your cover banners.

17. In 2016, the average ROI for email campaigns was 4,300%. (Source)

What this means:

Email marketing, if done proper, is not only still a very viable marketing strategy for medical practices but can generate high ROI.

18. 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. (Source)

What this means:

A majority of potential patients that arrive on your website are going to do so via a search engine. Therefore, search engine optimization is more important than ever for doctors offices.

19. The top three search results receive 50% of all clicks on Google. (Source)

What this means:

Now, not only do 75% of people never make it past the first page but 50% of all people never make it past the first three results in terms of click through.

20. When consumers conduct a local search on their mobile device 50% visit the store within a day. (Source)

What this means:

People are searching for local physicians and doctors and when they do they visit the practice relatively quickly after they do so.

Wrap Up

When creating a marketing strategy for your practice or making changes you should take these statistics into consideration. Look to bolster your content marketing strategy with video, focus on local and regional SEO, give email marketing a closer look and don’t forget that all this is happening on mobile now. The digital landscape is constantly changing but taking a hard look at these stats will help you make a more informed decision on the next steps for successfully marketing your practice.

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Want to score on social, pharma? Follow Sanofi's lead, experts say | FiercePharma

Want to score on social, pharma? Follow Sanofi's lead, experts say | FiercePharma | Social Media and Healthcare |


Sanofi could have just let it go. When actress Roseanne Barr blamed its sleep aid Ambien for a racist post, the pharma company could have simply ignored it and let the Twitterverse call out the inaccuracy. Instead, Sanofi seized the moment and responded with a pithy, yet relevant and product-accurate tweet response that wryly noted: “While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”

That sort of real-time social media response isn't easy to pull off effectively. Consumer brands like Moon Pie, Wendy's and Oreo do it regularly, but there are also plenty of big brand social media flops to make companies think twice about going for the clever retort.


Which makes Sanofi’s leap even more significant: It's a regulated pharma company that has to send its messaging through compliance reviews. But Sanofi’s U.S. communication team moved fast enough to write, vet and post the response within hours of the original tweet, stepping into the cultural conversation as it happened.


Social media experts applauded and consumers responded—the post has been retweeted 68,800 times and liked by 186,000 accounts. It also garnered more than 6,100 comments with many people replying  “thank you,” “well done” or posting congratulatory memes. The previous top performing post from @SanofiUS garnered 78 retweets and 241 likes.


Pharma marketing insiders, meanwhile, praised Sanofi for its message, timing and boost to pharma social media credibility overall.

Julie Hurvitz Aliaga, vice president of social media at CMI/Compas said via email, “They tackled it before it had an opportunity to be an issue, educated about their drug and what it does not do, and won praise for doing so—as being a company who is not going to sit back and watch—but take action to educate.”

The balance of humor and seriousness was important, noted Klick Health’s senior director of social practice Brad Einarsen in a blog post: “The dry wit that infuses the tweet itself is fantastically balanced. There are many very serious issues surrounding these events, and we cannot lose sight of that, but the understated facts really pull off the corporate message and provide just the right amount of spark for others on Twitter to carry it along.”


RELATED: Pharma's social media strategies are growing up—and working better, too, report finds

Wendy Blackburn, vice president at healthcare and pharma agency Intouch Solutions, added her own kudos and hope for the industry: “Good for Sanofi for standing up and speaking out. I applaud their ability to react with swift action. Done the right way, we’d all like to see more of this from pharma.”

For pharma companies that might be interested in doing that, she offered a few tips. Companies should listen especially for well-known people or celebrity mentions of their brands because whether positive or negative, those get a lot of attention on social media. She also advised setting up an action plan so that the company can act quickly in those moments. And finally, just do it.

“Respond as immediately as possible. Current events move too quickly. Tomorrow is too late,” Blackburn said.

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