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Increase Your Visibility On LinkedIn By Publishing Articles

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

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


Why You Should Publish Articles on LinkedIn

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

When you publish an article on LinkedIn:


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


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


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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. 

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Your Future Doctor Could Monitor Your Facebook Posts for Disease 

Your Future Doctor Could Monitor Your Facebook Posts for Disease  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Healthcare providers may soon seek help diagnosing and treating patients from an unlikely source: Facebook posts.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have developed a system to mine social media posts for evidence of disease. In a new study published in PLOS ONE on Monday, social media data outperformed demographic data in predicting diseases such as diabetes, anxiety, depression, and psychosis. With access to social media data, researchers hope that doctors could better diagnose and treat many common diseases.


Facebook posts provide information about behavior, lifestyle, and mental state—information that your doctor might not have access to. Researchers treated words used in Facebook posts like symptoms, linking certain words to diseases.

“Before social media, there hasn’t been a really easy way to see how health affects our daily lives and how our daily lives affect our health,” co-author Andrew Schwartz said in a phone call. “This is another type of data that you can add to healthcare strategies.”

The researchers analyzed the entire Facebook post history of nearly 1,000 patients, with their consent. To build the predictive model based on Facebook posts, they correlated groups of words with diseases. They tested three models to predict diseases —one relying solely on language in Facebook posts, one using demographic data such as age and sex, and one relying on a mix of the two. Then, researchers used patient medical records to check predictions.

For some terms the researchers looked at, the connection with a particular health issue was obvious. Repeatedly saying “drink” reliably predicted alcohol abuse, for example. Others links were less direct. For example, patients who used more religious language like “God” and “pray” were 15 times more likely to have diabetes.

The team evaluated the 21 different conditions most often diagnosed in the study population, located in Philadelphia, ranging from lung disease to anxiety. All 21 were predictable using just Facebook data, the team found. When combined with demographic data, Facebook posts improved predictions for 18 of the 21 diseases. Facebook data alone outperformed demographic data in 10 cases, and was particularly effective at predicting diabetes and mental health conditions.


The study was performed on patients from one medical center, in which 76 percent of participants were female and 71 percent were Black. “This is just the first step towards this type of work,” Schwartz said. “We would expect the same type of analysis to be similarly powerful in other populations.”

Though social media language doesn’t pinpoint the cause of the disease, it can inform treatment and prevention. Schwartz emphasized that this type of research is still in the basic stages, but that social media intervention could be particularly helpful for mental health patients. Already, Facebook flags posts with suicidal language and provides the user resources.

Despite promising results, some are worried about the privacy risks of allowing doctors access to social media.

“Linking people’s social media posts to private, sensitive information, including their address and health records, creates an inherent privacy risk,” Amy Shepherd, legal officer at the digital rights non-profit Open Rights Group, said in an email.

Shepherd noted that this study protected data privacy well by obtaining explicit consent and making sure individuals can’t be identified within the results. Because the study had such success, however, there is a risk of an uncontrollable snowball effect.

“If health records and social media data start to become more routinely linked, the privacy risks could be far more significant,” Shepherd said.


Doctors still need to follow strict health data guidelines, meaning they would need to obtain informed consent from each patient before accessing and sharing their social media record. Even then, it may be difficult to export this kind of automated healthcare to other jurisdictions with stricter privacy laws, such as countries in the European Union.

If your social media posts suddenly become part of your health records, that means insurance companies might have access to it too. With that, your insurance could set premiums based on your lifestyle, determining how much you pay depending on what you post. In New York, insurance companies can use your social media to set premiums, as long as they show they aren’t unfairly discriminating against certain groups.

A question people may need to ask themselves in the future is: Do I want my doctor to read my Facebook posts? It’s unclear how many people would take healthcare providers up on this offer, especially considering growing concerns over data privacy.

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Can social media threaten medical experiments? |

Can social media threaten medical experiments? | | Social Media and Healthcare |

Testing new pharmaceutical treatments is a complicated process. Very often, participants have preferences or hopes, either about what the test should measure or about what the outcome should be. Patients often enrol in the trial seeking access to experimental drugs while physicians usually have guesses about which treatment will work better. The sponsor will only recover millions of investment in the drug development if the trial is successful.

Making sure that all these preferences do not shape the outcome of the test is crucial for its credibility. For that reason, treatments are often masked –“blinded” – so that neither physicians nor patients in the trial know who is receiving what treatments. In the age of the internet and social media, however, trial participants can easily find each other – through patient groups for example – to discuss and compare treatments and outcomes, potentially unblinding the trial. But how common is that and what impact could it have on medical research?

Since the 1960s, the randomised clinical trial (RCT) has been the standardised experimental template for assessing the safety and efficacy of new drugs. The experiment compares the outcomes of a group of patients who receive the new drug, with those of a group of like patients who do not. It is designed to neutralise or even out effects or forces that could shape outcomes through a number of features called “controls”. Blinding is one of the default controls for the preferences of participants in such trials.

If the trial compares a new drug and a placebo, for instance, both treatments should ideally look, taste and smell the same. This way, the participants can only guess what they are getting: some of those guesses will be correct, most will be not.

Clinical trials are getting increasingly complicated. Minerva Studio/Shutterstcck

If blinding fails and there is systematic correlation between patient or doctor preferences and the trial outcome, the test is regarded as biased. While there typically is no proof, it is then very likely that the allocation of treatments hasn’t been neutral: patients may have swapped treatments, or doctors may have assigned their favourite drug to one group of patients. And a biased outcome is not useful for making decisions about drugs. In order to authorise its use, pharmaceutical regulators require a faithful estimate of the treatment effects, and as neutral as possible regarding the conflicting interests of the stakeholders.

The warrants of isolation

The success of blinding so far has depended to great extent on the participants making their guesses alone. If patients could compare their own experiences and health data it would be a lot easier for them to guess one own’s treatment: if they are receiving different treatments, the effects could likely differ as well.

In the 1980s, the test of AZT, the first successful retroviral against AIDS, gave a hint of what could happen when patients coordinate. Many US-based AIDS patients had taken part in the gay rights campaigns of the 1970s. They entered the fight with AIDS as a community and when the AZT trial came up they acted together. Nobody wanted to take the placebo, so patients swapped pills, had them analysed by chemists and dropped out of the experiment if they could not access AZT. They broke the trial protocol in a way that made the US Food and Drug Administration reconsider its testing standards. The trial was also terminated early.

This degree of coordination between patients was until recently the exception. Digital networks might now transform the exception into the rule. Patient communities have grown greatly on the internet, ranging from simple mailing lists or Facebook groups to dedicated websites. PatientsLikeMe is one such digital platform: in 2011-2012 a group of ALS patients taking part in an early clinical trial used its message boards to share their experiences in the test, unblinding the treatment they were receiving and breaking the protocol.

Some also took a homebrew solution designed to mimic the experimental drug during the experiment. Despite that, the original trial and the parallel experiment were completed. Researchers from the platform PatientsLikeMe, however, warned about the risks of taking homebrew compounds and called for a debate on how patients and researchers could work together.

There have been similar cases with treatments for muscular dystrophy and common diseases like Hepatitis C on social media sites including Facebook. This goes to show that people can quickly come together for disparate causes – they don’t even need specific patient groups to do it.

Tech platforms might become key players in the reform of a standard. That said, as in the case of the AZT trial, some might actually welcome the end of blinding as a victory of patients over pharmaceutical interests. But the problem with physicians or patients having preferences about treatments – which was the reason behind the development of blinding in the first place – will still be there.

Unless statisticians find new ways to deal with unblinded data, decisions of patients and prescribing doctors who rely on evidence from clinical trials will be consequently affected.

Niccolò Tempini, Research Fellow in Data Studies, University of Exeter and David Teira, Associate Professor of the Philosophy of Science, UNED - Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article

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Making Gmail Ads Part of Your Medical Practice’s Digital Marketing Strategy

Making Gmail Ads Part of Your Medical Practice’s Digital Marketing Strategy | Social Media and Healthcare |

Highly targeted and customizable, Gmail ads are an effective way to reach the inboxes of potential patients.

On average, consumers spend 2.5 hours checking their email each day. Factor in Gmail’s 1.5 billion monthly active users, and Gmail advertising has the potential to reach vast numbers of potential patients as they browse through the day’s messages.

Gmail ads are popular among retail companies offering promotions, but they can also provide unique value for healthcare providers. As part of the Google Ads platform, Gmail ads offer advanced targeting capabilities that can help medical marketers drive clicks and conversions. Further, even though they help build valuable brand awareness, bidding for these ads tends to be less competitive than for typical search ads.

Here’s what you need to know about advertising your medical practice on Gmail — and how to create content that keeps users engaged.

How Gmail Ads Work

Gmail ads appear at the top of the Promotions tab in a user’s inbox. They look like a regular email, but are marked by a small box reading, “Ad.” Most include an image and a call to action, as well as a sidebar describing the ad content. Gmail ads are highly customizable, but most marketers decide to use an image combined with a compelling call to action.

To build a Gmail ad, first open the Google Ads platform, then follow these simple steps:

  1. Open Campaigns.
  2. Click the “+” button to add a new campaign.
  3. Choose your goal: sales, leads, or website traffic (or, select a campaign goal after you create your campaign).
  4. Select “Display” for “Campaign Type.”
  5. Choose “Gmail Campaign.”
  6. Build your ad.

Once you’ve created your ad, you’ll want to make sure it’s displayed to the right users. Google offers a few different strategies for effective audience targeting. They include:

Keyword Targeting

Keyword targeting allows you to show ads to users who express interest in relevant keywords or phrases. These might range from “orthopedic surgery” to “Phoenix, AZ.” Medical marketers may even want to target keywords related to their competitors, and then serve ads offering their services as an alternative.

Audience Targeting

You can target specific audiences by uploading lists of patients, subscribers, and more. Medical practices can also leverage this feature to target users who have engaged with their website or previous ad content. To expand your reach even further, Google Ads can create similar audiences based on existing email lists.

Demographic Targeting

As a medical practice, your ideal audience is anyone who is likely to visit your website and make an appointment. While you’re probably very familiar with your patient demographics, you might be surprised by who is actually visiting your website. For instance, while your practice may work primarily with elderly patients, their younger children may be the ones who tend to visit your site and book appointments.

To target these users, you can use Google Analytics to determine who is converting on your website. After identifying your key demographics, update your demographic targeting settings in Google Ads to serve ads to potential patients that meet these parameters.

Gmail Ads Best Practices for Medical Marketers

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll want to follow a few best practices to create the most effective ads for your medical practice. First, keep in mind that the headline/subject line of your ad can only be 25 characters, so it’s important to convey your message in as few words as possible. In addition to being concise, the copy should read like a compelling email subject line and not a search ad headline.

To determine how well your Gmail ads are performing, there are a few key metrics to pay attention to: Gmail Forwards, Gmail Saves, and Gmail Clicks to Website. Gmail Clicks to Website is particularly useful because it only counts users who click on your ad and then visit your website — as opposed to those who open the ad and bounce.

As a strategic component of a comprehensive digital marketing plan, Gmail ads can help medical practices connect with — and ultimately convert — new patients. They reach users who are already in the Promotions tab, meaning they are likely looking to make a purchase or book a service. Plus, by utilizing the channel’s advanced targeting capabilities, you can attract audiences that are relevant, engaged, and more likely to schedule an appointment at your practice.


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Social Media Strategy for Clinical Trial Patient Recruitment 

Social Media Strategy for Clinical Trial Patient Recruitment  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, modes of communication today. In 2019, it is estimated that roughly 2.77 billion people worldwide have active accounts across several social media platforms. This means that clinical trials need to have a presence in the social media spaces in order to have a competitive chance with patient recruitment. Let’s take a look at the different components that go into planning out a solid social media strategy for clinical trial patient recruitment:




There would be no clinical trials without the patients. They are the wheels that keep a trial moving. Unfortunately, patient recruitment can often be the most difficult part of the clinical trial process. When it comes down to it, successful patient recruitment heavily relies on strong marketing and outreach. Furthermore, the bedrock of good marketing is knowing the audience you want to reach. 


What is the demographic of the audience?

Defining the demographic details of your target audience establishes eligibility requirements and helps make it easier to find participants. Data points to consider include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Household income
  • Marital status

To avoid redundancy, you can develop a general “site persona” that defines the common demographics, pain points and information about your site’s ideal patient population. This persona can then be tailored to each individual study by including additions and deviations from the initial site persona.


Where does the audience spend time online?

If you want to reach someone, you need to know where to find them. Demographic information comes into play here because it helps give insight into where your audience is most like to spend their time online and get their information – and where you need to meet them.

Methods of promotion might include:

  • Social Media (ads and/or posts)
  • Newspapers/Magazines (ads and/or sponsored articles)
  • Medical Clinics/Hospitals
  • Clinical Research Websites (, etc.)
  • Google search ads






A great way to pique more interest in your clinical trial is to provide plenty of information about the condition you are studying. Give a little background of the condition, list the possible symptoms, and then a brief bit about the trial itself. This will be done on the website and on social media posts. If you want to take it to the next level, write a blog post centered around the particular condition and finish it by directing people to your study.



Why is it important that this study is happening now? Clinical studies that feel current or cutting edge will have more success in attracting potential participants. Find a way to tie a current aspect of life into your call for participants. It can be a connection such as a holiday, change of season, or recent news story. People who may be interested in the study will see how it directly relates to their lives and will be more likely to step forward.



Social media strategy doesn’t stop at planning. Don’t forget two of the most important steps: tracking and analyzing. Without proper tracking and analyzing, you essentially have no strategy or objective for your campaign. Careful tracking and analysis will show you what content is working, what is not, the channels in which you could improve, and those in which you are thriving. Take this information to heart and use it to make better-educated decisions with your patient-focused social media strategy.

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5 Examples of Successful Health Care Companies on Instagram

5 Examples of Successful Health Care Companies on Instagram | Social Media and Healthcare |

The healthcare industry has gone digital and it’s not going back. So it makes sense that healthcare marketing has gone digital as well, with hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and individual healthcare providers turning to social media to boost their brands. According to a Pew Research study, 80% of social media users are looking for health information, and nearly half are searching for information about a specific doctor or health professional.


To be successful, a social media marketing campaign must be personal, memorable, and relevant to the specific audience, so choosing your channel is important as choosing your campaign. If your social strategy doesn’t include Instagram, then you may be missing out.

Why IG is the place to be

  • Instagram is visual — a key component in reaching users who are scrolling through multiple posts and pages of content.
  • Instagram is engaging — with typically higher rates of audience engagement than Facebook or Twitter.
  • Instagram is personal — it’s the ideal platform to humanize your brand and to develop more personal relationships with your followers.
  • Instagram is young — if you want to reach the millennial market, then IG is definitely the place to be, with a much younger user demographic than Facebook or Twitter.

Insta inspiration

Not sure where to start? Get inspired by these five Instagram healthcare campaigns which set the standard for social media marketing success:

1. #MelanomaLikesMe

Melanoma is a serious risk in a sun-drenched, beach-loving country like Australia. In effort to raise awareness of the risks of sun exposure, the Australian Melanoma Patients’ Association developed a unique Instagram strategy. Rather than filling their feed with statistics, gruesome pics of tumours, or personal stories from patients, they created an IG user called @_melanoma, an account which interacted with other accounts just like a real person would, by liking, commenting and sharing. An algorithm helped them identify photos of fun in the sun, and they tracked hashtags like #sunshine, #beach, #pool, #etc. The @melanoma account liked and followed accounts identified this way, and posted personal comments from the deadly disease on their photos, such as “I love knowing you haven’t put on any sunscreen,” with the hashtag #melanomalikesme. A bio link led users to a page full of helpful information and tips on preventing skin cancers, including melanoma.

2. #ActuallySheCan

Created by pharma giant Allergan, the #ActuallySheCan campaign was designed to empower young women and encourage them to share information with one another about women’s healthcare issues. Powerful visual posts on their dedicated Instagram account are hashtagged #ActuallySheCan and paired with short, pithy messages that direct users to a bio link for detailed wellness tips and health information. This campaign succeeds precisely because it isn’t trying to sell a product; rather it’s promoting a sense of belonging to a community.

3. #HeroinesofHealth

When GE developed its 30-minute documentary Heroines of Health – the stories of three women in India, Africa, and Southeast Asia working to improve healthcare in their communities – it created a ground-breaking social strategy to promote the film’s release. Rather than hosting a traditional movie premiere, GE turned to Instagram, creating a dedicated account @heroinesofhealthfilm and releasing the video there in 1-minute segments over the course of 30 days.

4. #WeDareYou

United Healthcare came up with a daring social media campaign to promote its brand and encourage its audience to live more active, healthier lives. The campaigned dared people to make a specific small change to improve their health, such as committing to 30 minutes of daily activity or eating more fruits and vegetables. Participants were encouraged to post photos of themselves on IG completing the challenges, tag United Healthcare and hashtag their posts #WeDareYou to enter monthly contests — a great tactic to encourage return visits and boost engagement.

5. #BreatheBoldly

In honour of the iconic Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy, who died of COPD, the COPD Foundation and Philips Healthcare wanted to boldly go where no company had gone before, launching its #BreatheBoldly influencer marketing campaign in 2016. COPD makes even everyday activities difficult; sufferers often feel like they are breathing through a straw. The campaign challenged followers to post a selfie or a short video of themselves on social media performing one of their favorite activities while breathing through a straw to show their support for those living with COPD. Celebrity influencers including Whoopi Goldberg , Will Wheaton and Vince Vaughn took on the challenge, helping to promote the campaign and increase its reach.

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Medical ethics in the age of the social media influencers –

Medical ethics in the age of the social media influencers – | Social Media and Healthcare |

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Sonica Minhas, a second-year medical student in London interested in maternal and infant health, nutrition, climate change, human rights and healthcare policymaking. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

This millennium has witnessed the exponential growth of social media and over the last few years, increasing numbers of doctors and medical students are using it, both personally and professionally. In fact, we are now entering an era where the doctors qualifying are those that have grown up with the epoch of the digital age.

Debate is rife on the ethical standards to which doctors and medical students should be held to on social media but in general there is consensus that professional boundaries and patient confidentiality must be maintained. Organisations also state that personalised healthcare mustn’t be delivered over social media. However, there is far less guidance on the use of social media for public health promotion by medical professionals.

Indeed, social media is a powerful platform for spreading public health messages to the wider masses and a purpose that many doctors/students use it for. However, it is absolutely imperative that in such cases professionals are held to the same standards as they would be at say a conference, for example. I’m talking about ensuring that evidence-base standards are maintained.

This is becoming increasingly pertinent with the rise of so-called “influencers” who often blog about health (in particular nutrition) but end up spreading erroneous information. Under this umbrella unfortunately are also some doctors but we absolutely do not need them contributing to the noise, since that qualifier of doctor means that their message is perceived to be of greater credibility.

Earlier this year, a study by the University of Glasgow revealed that the majority of influencers are giving inaccurate dietary advice. Of the nine influencer’s blogs that were analysed against 12 criterions (based on national dietary guidelines etc.), only one- a registered nutritionist- passed. Amongst those that failed was a medical doctor, exemplifying that doctors must be held to the same scientifically and medically justified principles that they are in practice when handing out health-related advice.

A doctor is most certainly not limited by their level of education; if they have qualified, they have the competency to critically analyse scientific literature thus any information they present should be backed up with references where appropriate. This is something that must be instilled within medical students; the concept of adhering to science when posting about health.

One way to do this may be to scour platforms for examples of doctors who blog about health and get students to discuss in small groups who they would say is providing the most accurate, objective and scientifically-sound information and how those that aren’t could improve their content. In this way, students are exposed to examples of good and poor social media usage for health promotion.

As Aristotle put it, humans do not care for facts; they care for ethos, logos and pathos. Thus, how information is presented, i.e. the language that is used, is absolutely critical. This is why I believe medical schools must pave way to include development of scientific writing skills within their curricula.

To some this may seem entirely unnecessary but I would argue given that more and more of us are creating and sharing content online, it is needed. Medical professionals when spreading health messages online must adopt a sombre, professional tone that is as unbiased and objective as possible.

By learning how to write scientifically in medical school, students will learn the importance of avoiding emotive language and hyperboles because this introduces personal bias in the form of opinion which may be cloaked as fact, that ultimately can be misleading or flawed.

“Primum non nocere” (“first do no harm”)-the Hippocratic maxim matters as much in digital life as it does in real life and that is something we must not forget.

One of the core principles of the medical profession is integrity. Medical students must be taught that integrity is to be practiced on social media, the same way it is elsewhere. Often there is a fear to speak out against a point made by a fellow medical professional/student made on social media but this shouldn’t be the case.

If we think something said by a fellow student or doctor on social media to be incorrect (be it the actual information or the way in which it is fashioned), we shouldn’t shy away from perhaps contacting them directly to say so or by creating a space for discussion and debate; this is how science progresses after all.

Simply because they say or do something on social media out of good intentions does not mean we can let slip the fact that their content may be inaccurate; for that there is no defence, especially for a medically qualified doctor. Being in a position of public responsibility, doctors are, and rightfully so, subject to scrutiny which mustn’t change in the digital age.

When used responsibly, social media is an impeccably powerful tool for public health promotion. With many doctors using it for this purpose, medical institutions and governing bodies for the medical profession must convene to develop guidelines on the ethical usage of social media for public health purposes. It may seem impossible but we must continue to push for standards to which health professionals should conform to when they use their expertise on social media.

About the author

Sonica Minhas is a second-year medical student in London interested in maternal and infant health, nutrition, climate change, human rights and healthcare policymaking. Her interests in global health stem from doing a project on the extortionately high caesarean section rates in countries like China and Brazil. It was then that she realised that as well as practicing medicine, she wants to provide a voice to the vulnerable members of our population by advocating for changes to education and healthcare policies. She’s currently expanding her horizons and exploring her interests by being on the committee of her medical school’s Students for Global Health branch and the nutrition society. She believes that as doctors we have a responsibility to share our opinions on matters that concern health and that we must be leaders for the changes needed in our healthcare systems to tackle threats to public health and the issues establishing health inequities.

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Here’s How Social Media Helps the IBD Community

Here’s How Social Media Helps the IBD Community | Social Media and Healthcare |

When Laura Scaviola was 25 years old, she found herself unable to eat or drink without running to the bathroom and experiencing severe, bloody diarrhea. Dehydration landed her in the emergency room, which led to a colonoscopy that confirmed she had ulcerative colitis (UC).

After taking six different medications and enduring a roller coaster of remissions and flares, Scaviola is currently in remission for the longest span of time since her diagnosis in 2013.

To help her cope with the disease, she found support in online communities.

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"Social media allowed me to find a community of fighters with the same chronic illness I have," says Scaviola. "The diagnosis and symptoms can be very isolating and embarrassing. But seeing the number of fighters share their experiences made me feel like I could have a better life too."


Megan H. Koehler can relate. When she was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 2017, she says social media allowed her to feel less alone.


"Before I was diagnosed, I'd heard of Crohn's disease and UC, and I knew a few girls in college who were diagnosed, but other than that, I really didn't know much. Once I had a diagnosis and started sharing more on Instagram, I was flooded with amazing comments and words of hope from others," Koehler says.


Natalie Suppes appreciates social media because she knows how living with UC was before online communities became mainstream.


"When I was diagnosed in 2007, the only thing available at the time was a forum with people who have IBD that I found on Google. Ever since I have found the IBD community online, I have felt very empowered and so much less alone," says Suppes. "We literally spend the majority of our day alone in the bathroom or alone in pain. Having a community of people online who are dealing with the exact same thing as you are is really life changing."

Apps bring comfort and hope

Technology that is geared towards those with a chronic illness, this includes apps, can offer a number of benefits, from connecting folks to individuals with shared experiences to shedding light on new clinical trials.

In fact, a 2018 reviewTrusted Source of 12 randomized controlled trials on mobile health applications (including apps) showed that, in 10 of the trials, the use of mobile health applications demonstrated significant improvements in some health outcomes.

Yet with so many apps to choose from, finding the right one for you can be challenging.

For Scaviola, finding an app like IBD Healthline helped narrow down her online resources.

"IBD Healthline is different than other online support communities because it's an all-in-one resource. You can connect with other patients, share information in group conversations, and there are helpful articles on IBD all in one app," she says. "The best part is you are matched with fellow members on the app, so you can connect with them and share your journey."


Designed for people living with Crohn’s or UC, the free IBD Healthline app includes features such as daily group discussions led by an IBD guide. The guide leads topics around treatment, lifestyle, career, relationships, new diagnoses, and emotional health.

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Koehler says IBD Healthline is different than other online resources because everyone using the app has IBD.

"There is more understanding and compassion. In the past, I've used Instagram to reach out and it's hard because people will share advice because it worked for their mom or best friend… not because they've been through it personally," says Koehler.

Keeping the IBD experience in one private place is what Suppes like most about IBD Healthline.

"It is a place where you can go when you are seeking advice, but you don't need to constantly see it on your newsfeed along with the other things you follow on social media, such as pictures of your niece and best friend," Suppes says. "It is a place where you don't have to worry [about] anyone ever seeing what you post, or that you belong to the group, because only others who have IBD are in the community."

Plus, the app's live chats personalize the experience, Suppes adds.

"It's awesome to connect with people in live time and chat about various IBD subjects," she notes.

Koehler agrees, and says her favorite feature of the app is private messaging.



Get Answers from a Doctor in Minutes, Anytime

Have medical questions? Connect with a board-certified, experienced doctor online or by phone. Pediatricians and other specialists available 24/7.


"I've really enjoyed chatting with other IBD sufferers in a more private setting. It allows us to chat a bit more about stuff we might not be open to sharing with everyone just yet," she says.

Access to trusted sources of information

In addition to connecting with others living with IBD, IBD Healthline offers handpicked wellness and news stories reviewed by Healthline’s team of medical professionals delivered to app users each week. Users can stay informed about new treatments, what’s trending, and the latest in clinical trials.

With that information and the app's ability to connect her to others living with IBD, Suppes says she feels empowered to take ownership of her own health.

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“[Social media] is a tool that helps us realize that we are in control of our own health," she says. "It is not possible for doctors to have touch points with hundreds of thousands of people who have IBD, but by using social media we are. Sometimes with new medications or new symptoms, just asking other people with IBD and getting feedback from people experiencing the same things is so helpful."

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Engage Your Patients to Improve Physician Online Reputation Management

Engage Your Patients to Improve Physician Online Reputation Management | Social Media and Healthcare |

When choosing a physician, word of mouth can play an important part for many people, and now it’s all available online. Physician reviews matter heavily to people deciding on what physician to see for their care. Managing your online reputation may seem like a daunting task since information can be found through so many outlets on the internet. To start, you can begin monitoring your reputation in three key areas that will make a big difference: review sites, social media and in the office.

Why Your Online Reputation Matters

People are talking about you and your practice online, whether you’re out there engaging or not. They share their experiences on social media, they search and submit their own reviews. As younger generations continue to rely more on online reviews than older patients, managing your online reputation will remain an important aspect of maintaining your business. 

The limitations of physician review sites are well-known to most of us, but not always to patients. Reviews often focus on inconveniences beyond your control - in some cases, patients leave a negative review when they come in expecting to receive a medication even when advised that it's not the best course. Negative reviews don’t equate to poorer outcomes or quality of care. 

Despite these limitations, your patients are online, so it is essential to be vigilant and monitor your online reputation. Start simple by managing your online reputation in these three key areas. If it becomes overwhelming, outsource some of the work to office staff or freelancers.

Key Area 1: Physician Review Sites 

What to do: Regularly check these sites for new reviews and respond accordingly.

Keep an eye on the major platforms, including HealthGrades, Yelp, RateMDs, Google and Vitals. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) finds that 60 percent of patients think online reviews are important for finding a physician. Take a few steps to make these sites work for you:

  • Ensure your information is accurate on your online listings. Check your specialties, address, phone number and hours. Check any links to your website or social media feeds to make sure everything points in the right direction.

  • Respond to positive reviews. Thank them for their feedback. Tell them you’re happy to have them as a patient.

  • Respond to negative reviews. For negative reviews about issues beyond your control like rude staff or long wait times, assure them that you’re looking into what happened and always striving to improve the office environment. Avoid making excuses; stay positive and reassuring. For negative reviews about care, offer to contact them offline. Even if the patient shares protected health information, HIPAA laws do not permit you to continue the conversation with specifics. Ask them to call the office, so you can discuss their situation further, or, if you know the patient, ask if you can schedule a call.

  • If you manage to resolve an issue, ask the person to consider revising their rating online.

Zocdoc found that physicians who increased their overall rating by half a star saw an average increase of 37 percent in monthly appointments.

Key Area 2: Social Media

What to do: Share and engage.

Social media allows you to be proactive in putting out messages about you, your staff and your office. You have a way to share reputable health information, new technology in your office or exciting changes happening in your practice. 

Social media can be overwhelming for many of us, so it’s important to keep this limited to just one or two platforms. Facebook is still the most popular social network, with about 68 percent of U.S. adults with accounts. Other top social media choices to reach the younger generation are Twitter and Instagram.

Pro tip: Follow others practitioners who are using social media well, such as KevinMDDoctor Mike and Wendy Sue Swanson.

Key Area 3: The Office

What to do: Ask for reviews. (And provide a great office experience.)

A good review starts with a good experience. A patient's experience starts with the first time office staff picks up the phone. Many times, the actual care you provide isn’t part of the review. Bedside manner and wait times are two of the most common complaints patients have about seeing the doctor.

The first step to getting better reviews is to listen. Are there recurring issues that pop up in reviews of three stars or less that can be addressed through workflow or training? Do you understand what your patients want in terms of care and convenience?

When you’ve done what you can on the office side, begin asking patients if they’re satisfied with their care and if they’d be willing to leave a review. You can provide a tablet with Yelp or other review site and allow them to post a review before they leave, or ask if you could email them with a link to a ratings site or two that they can complete at home. 

By being aware of reviews and proactively managing your online reputation, you’ll be poised to attract new patients.

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6 Keys to a Strong Healthcare Digital Marketing Strategy

6 Keys to a Strong Healthcare Digital Marketing Strategy | Social Media and Healthcare |

The healthcare industry is continually pursuing the next technological advancement. Whether it’s a new, improved treatment, a groundbreaking facility or the expansion of physician specialties, healthcare organizations are always working to provide a higher level of care for patients. Unlike any other industry, healthcare serves a broad audience. And today’s consumers are becoming more dependent on apps and websites. In fact, patients are relying on websites at an increasing rate to make healthcare decisions.

This is why it’s important to stay on top of digital marketing and keep your organization at the forefront of change—even online. Use these six keys to a strong healthcare digital marketing strategy that will reach patients and generate leads in today’s patient-centered market.

An Easy-to-Navigate Website

Your website serves as the welcome mat to your organization. It typically is the first impression your company will make and plays a strong role in a patient’s decision to choose your facility or go elsewhere, so you want the user experience to be as easy as possible. Chances are if someone is on your website, they are looking for answers for themselves or a loved one and want to find what they’re looking for quickly so they can take action.

An Informational Blog

Your blog goes hand-in-hand with a strong, user-friendly website. With 1 percent of all Google searches related to medical symptoms and 3.5 billion Google searches, that’s 35 million online medical searches every day. Take advantage of all those searches with rich blog content that provides information on health conditions, answers to questions, quick tips and advice they can get without going to the doctor. Be sure to plan your editorial calendar around health months or other timely topics relevant to your organization.

And don’t forget, people take comfort in reading about other patients who have experienced a treatment, condition or surgery they are facing, so this can help boost your blog’s readership numbers. While you can feature testimonials in various places around your website, your blog is a great place for reading in-depth about another patient’s success. Rather than short clips, blogs are trending toward featuring in-depth patient stories on their journey from diagnosis to recovery.

Resourceful Emails

It’s true that patients go searching for information, but email is a way to be a step ahead. What if the information was in their inbox before they had to even look for it? By sending out an email newsletter at least once a month, you’ll continue to educate patients by providing them with fresh content they can apply to their own health.

The key is to provide your email database with a variety of information to best capture your audience’s interest. Use email personalization and segmentation based on a recipient’s interests and needs so they’re receiving information relevant to them. Send out a video, a current blog post or provide industry news that will give readers information on various topics. Be sure to plan these ahead of time so they are timely according to what’s going on at your organization or in the health industry.

Videos That Educate and Inspire

Audiences increasingly are leaning more toward visual content. According to Wordstream, one-third of online activity is spent watching video. If you can get your physicians on camera speaking about their area of expertise, it inevitably will add to their credibility and capture an audience that is out there looking for the expertise your physicians have.

Like the blog, another appropriate place for testimonials is in your video resources. The only thing better than reading about another patient’s experience is getting to see it in action through video, and hear the doctor, patient and family members describing the experience from beginning to end. Video is a powerful tool; the lighting, music and story structure work together to draw out emotion when telling the story in ways a blog post can’t. These elements can evoke feelings of passion, hope, courage, fear and many others that the written word alone can’t capture.

Strong SEO Attributes

You can have the best-looking, most informative website, blog posts, emails and videos, but what good are they if they’re not being found? Through the process of search engine optimization (SEO), you can increase the quality and quantity of organic traffic by centering your content on specific keywords your patients actually would use in their searches. If you’re a hospital with several service lines, you’ll want to do some keyword research with a tool like SEMrush or the HubSpot keyword tool to determine the best-ranking keywords to use on each page. You’ll want to look for what keywords are currently driving traffic to your website, as well as your competitors’.

When searching in SEMrush for healthcare, you’ll see the top keywords, their search volume, keyword difficulty score and cost per click (CPC). Using these results, choose a keyword that has a lower difficulty score (so it’s not as difficult to rank for) with a high search volume. Develop your content based on this keyword, and work it into your copy. To optimize a page around a particular service line, you need to include it in the page title, H1, meta description, URL, alt image tags and within the body copy of the page. You can create content around that same keyword and related subtopics and link back to that page. Say your keyword is “Cleveland urologist,” some subtopics might be when to see a urologist, incontinence symptoms or overactive bladder treatment.

Keywords are important, but they must sound natural within the rest of the copy. Avoid overuse of the keyword phrase on the page; Google will penalize you for “keyword stuffing” if your phrase appears too many times. While you want the words within the copy, quality content is still king.

Engaging Social Media Strategy

If your healthcare organization isn’t on social media, you’re missing a huge opportunity to connect with your audience. Social media is an excellent promotional tool when used right.

In fact, 60 percent of social media users are most likely to trust social media posts and activity by doctors over any other group, according to Infographics Archive. So plan your posts wisely—make sure they are written ahead of time and offer a variety of content on your page. A social media presence expands your reach to patients.

The hospital shares videos, blog posts highlighting its staff caring for patients, upcoming events and dozens of positive patient reviews. A great feature is a “Book Now” button that takes patients to the hospital’s physician page, so patients can easily locate a doctor for their needs.

Tying It All Together

A strong healthcare digital marketing strategy is most effective when it is managed in a streamlined way, where each component is in sync with one another, rather than siloed. In addition to regularly meeting with your team about your marketing strategy to discuss changes or updates, connect these elements through a content management platform. This enables you to track the performance of your efforts as a whole and identify areas for improvement. In fact, many healthcare organizations already are managing their digital marketing efforts on HubSpot or other similar platforms. Doing so helps them review previous efforts, and makes planning their future strategies easier. Platforms like HubSpot can support your marketing endeavors through their continual updates to help you better serve the healthcare industry and the users you are working to attract.

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 Adolescent Perspectives on the Use of Social Media to Support Type 1 Diabetes Management: Focus Group Study 

 Adolescent Perspectives on the Use of Social Media to Support Type 1 Diabetes Management: Focus Group Study  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Background: A majority of adolescents report the use of some form of social media, and many prefer to communicate via social networking sites. Social media may offer new opportunities in diabetes management, particularly in terms of how health care teams provide tailored support and treatment to adolescents with diabetes.

Objective: The aim of this study was to explore the experiences and perspectives of adolescents with type 1 diabetes on the feasibility of social media use as a tool to collaboratively manage their diabetes with their diabetes care team.

Methods: Focus groups of adolescents with type 1 diabetes were conducted in the Seattle metropolitan area in Washington State. Semistructured questions were used to elicit views around the preferred means of communication with the adolescents’ diabetes care team, how to best support diabetes self-management, and how social media could be used outside of the clinic setting by the diabetes care team to engage with adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Qualitative content analysis was carried out, and emergent themes were subsequently mapped onto 4 domains of feasibility, which included acceptability, demand, implementation, and practicality.

Results: Participants included 45 adolescents with type 1 diabetes (mean age 15.9, SD 1.7 years; 58% male; diabetes duration mean 6.2, SD 3.6 years; 76% on insulin pumps; 49% wore continuous glucose monitors; 93% reported use of social media; 84% used smartphones as the primary means for social media access). A total of 7 major topics were identified and mapped onto areas consistent with our focus on feasibility. For acceptability and demand, participants expressed how communication over social media could help facilitate (1) improved communication outside of clinic visits to optimize diabetes management, (2) independence in diabetes self-management, (3) connection to other youth with diabetes for additional diabetes support, and (4) delivery of more timely and personalized care. Addressing implementation and practicality, participants shared the need to (1) ensure patient privacy, (2) maintain professional nature of provider-patient relationship, and (3) recognize that social media is not currently used for medical care by youth with diabetes.

Conclusions: Adolescents with type 1 diabetes expressed interest in the use of social media as a tool to support diabetes management and increase engagement with their diabetes care team. Specific implementation measures around privacy and professionalism should be considered when developing a social media intervention to facilitate communication between adolescents and care teams.

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ASCO’s top tips for social media patient advocacy

ASCO’s top tips for social media patient advocacy | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media offers a wealth of opportunities for patient advocacy groups to engage with the people they serve – especially at conference time – but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.

“Social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others provide advocates with an abundance of useful resources and networking opportunities,” says the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)’s patient information site, Cancer.Net, in its infographic Social Media 101 for Advocates. 

For those just getting started, the infographic shares some simple tips for online communication and highlights the importance of setting goals and having a clear profile.

“Define your motivation for using social media as an advocate. Keep these goals top-of-mind and stay consistent with what you discuss socially,” it notes.

“Tell people about yourself by filling out a profile description and adding your photo. Let people know who you represent, yourself or an organization, and that a retweet/follow is not an endorsement.”

Find your crowd

Once profiles have been established, it’s time to “find your crowd” and make connections, the graphic explains. Top tips include following established not-for-profit organizations and people who share relevant trusted information.

Searching for relevant hashtags and terms can help advocates find like-minded individuals to follow.

When it comes to rules of engagement, Cancer.Net offers four pieces of advice: less is more, start conversations, give credit and love #hashtags – though never use more than two.

Use your own voice

“When you are ready to start posting, use your own voice and share information that you feel comfortable with,” it adds, pointing out it’s wise to avoid over-posting, which can come across as “spamming”.

If relevant, spark discussions with people who share common interests by tagging them in your post, and if re-sharing information from another account, always give credit and ensure sources are credible.

To download the printable infographic, click here.

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How Social Media for Healthcare Marketing Can Engage, Educate Consumers

How Social Media for Healthcare Marketing Can Engage, Educate Consumers | Social Media and Healthcare |

If you’re dealing with healthcare industry clients, you may be understandably hesitant to employ a social media marketing strategy due to privacy and regulatory concerns. But social media for healthcare marketing offers these organizations a unique opportunity to build relationships and inspire trust with their audiences.

Because consumers, on the whole, are aware that they can’t really trust the medical information easily found on crowd-sourced sites or third-party platforms. But because these results are dominating SERPs, this often unreputable information tends to carry more weight than it should—especially as it gets shared on social and passed off as fact.

Healthcare marketers can, and absolutely should, leverage social for battling this misinformation, making sure their audiences are truly educated on the health issues they care about most. Hanging out in the background is no longer an option. By not utilizing this platform, hospitals and clinics may be missing out on terrific opportunities to boost brand awareness and, perhaps more importantly, solidify themselves as the true authorities in what should be their realm.

Here’s how social media marketing can benefit healthcare organizations, along with some smart strategies for social success.


How a Social Media Marketing Strategy Can Benefit Your Organization

Social media marketing offers healthcare organizations several compelling advantages. It’s excellent for raising brand awareness and developing the kind of trust with patients that’s necessary for forming meaningful relationships and long-term loyalty. Patients that engage with a healthcare organization online, and find value in these interactions, are more likely to turn to that same organization when they need medical services.

People are already actively searching for health information on social media channels, and healthcare organizations can proactively respond to this need by consistently delivering value to patients in this space. Hospitals and providers can through sharing high-quality content and posts intended to educate consumers—providing knowledge on subjects like how to pick the right treatment option, why preventative care is essential, or what to do before a major surgery, for example.

Healthcare organizations can also use this space to ensure that patients are equipped with the right information when they need to make important decisions about their own healthcare, from getting immunizations to scheduling a screening.

Social listening also allows healthcare organizations to receive timely feedback on products and services, sometimes even generating ideas on how to improve them or identifying timely opportunities to create new products and services that fill an urgent need in the market. Healthcare organizations can also use social monitoring tools to keep a finger on the pulse of trends in the field, while keeping up to date on how the competition is faring. All of these insights can help inform an organization’s content strategy on a continual basis.

A strong social media presence can also raise a healthcare organization’s profile within the industry. Healthcare experts and organizations can demonstrate their thought leadership and expertise through the posts they create and the conversations in which they engage, making valuable connections with industry peers. The relationships forged through these social interactions among industry colleagues can lead to promising business partnerships and open the door to exciting new opportunities.

Tips for an Effective Healthcare Social Media Marketing Strategy

So what is the best way to get started with social media for healthcare marketing? Here are a few strategies for engaging audiences online, along with some examples of how leading healthcare brands have set up their social media presences for success.

1. Position Yourself as a Trusted Source of Healthcare Information

Your audience has healthcare questions they may be afraid to ask, but are probably looking for answers using social media. In fact, eighty percent of adults in the U.S. look for health information online, according to the Pew Research Center. In some cases, they may be truly worried about what they’re experiencing and what it may mean for their lives. Through social media, you can give them the answers they need, providing a service while also establishing your credibility in a public setting. One way to do this is by sharing links to blog posts, video clips, and other helpful forms of content that inform and educate your audience, just as pharmaceutical firm Merck does here:


#HeadAndNeckCancer is a term to describe tumors that develop in or around the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses and mouth. Learn more about the disease and areas where symptoms most commonly occur: #OHANCAW


This tweet is notable because it incorporates several forms of information presentation at once: a brief text description of head and neck cancer, a video clip that visually illustrates areas within the head and neck that may be affected alongside concise bullet points about the condition, and then a link to a fuller story on Merck’s website that combines visually appealing statistics with key information about this form of cancer.


Social posts like these connect with audiences where they are, meeting their need for healthcare information in a variety of creative ways while also establishing the organization’s credibility. After encountering an accessible and engaging introduction to a healthcare issue in bite-size form, consumers may not only feel better informed about it but also motivated to seek further information. And, should they need healthcare services in the future, they are likely to have positive associations with this brand given their prior experience with it on social media.

2. Share Meaningful Patient Stories

Another powerful way to connect with your audience is by sharing patient stories. For example, in honor of LGBTQ Health Week, the NYU Langone hospital shared the story of Wendy Cole who underwent gender affirmation surgery at age 70 after decades spent battling feelings of isolation and attempting to “fix” what she thought was “wrong” with her. It was an incredibly consequential decision requiring a great deal of trust in her healthcare provider, but Cole successfully took this leap of faith and found that she was able to inspire others as a result.

Stories like Cole’s are meaningful because they evoke a sense of possibility and demonstrate that people do not have to suffer through their healthcare challenges alone. In sharing this story of patient success, NYU Langone was also able to communicate its values of inclusivity and community. By showing its commitment to LGBTQ healthcare equality, NYU Langone is making a strong statement that patients can bring their whole selves in for care and expect to be treated with dignity and humanity, whoever they are and whatever their experience might be.

3. Use a Light Touch and Have Some Fun

Particularly in light of the wellness boom, healthcare organizations don’t have to restrict themselves to delivering dry statistics about serious health conditions which people may find alarming. Healthcare marketers have a great opportunity to make their social media content marketing more human and approachable. This makes the experience of engaging with your brand more like a lighthearted conversation with a trusted friend, rather than an impersonal interaction with a faceless entity. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to have fun from time to time, as Anne Arundel Medical Center did with its #AAMCStachie contest on Facebook:

Each November, many organizations raise awareness about men’s health issues on social media using the hashtag #Movember. Anne Arundel took the opportunity to strike a playful tone, inviting people to take a stachie—a selfie of themselves with a real or fake mustache—and post it to the Anne Arundel Medical Center Facebook page along with the hashtag #AAMCStachie. Every week, keeping in line with the mustache theme, one lucky participant won a fifty dollar gift card to the Dollar Shave Club. Not only did the contest perfectly sync with the Movember movement, but it also drove increased traffic to the medical center’s website for men’s health content—further educating the public on common health issues like prostate cancer, testicular cancer, as well as mental health and suicide prevention.

4. Share Timely Information About Events Impacting Public Health

When an urgent event impacts the community you serve, social media can provide your organization with a great way to get the word out about how it’s responding. For example, when severe storms and flooding recently impacted local communities in Tennessee, United Healthcare shared timely information on how its members could make alternate arrangements to access the care that they needed and launched an emotional support line in the wake of the emergency.

UnitedHealth Group

To support those impacted by the recent flooding in Missouri, UHG, @UHC and @Optum are using the Health4Me app to assist members who may need to make alternate arrangements to access care. 

UnitedHealthcare and Optum Take Action to Support People Affected by Flooding in Missouri

UnitedHealthcare and Optum, the health benefits and services companies of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), are taking action to help people affected by recent flooding across parts of Missouri.
See UnitedHealth Group's other Tweets

Social media posts such as this one make it clear that the healthcare insurance company is actively responding to events affecting the community and that it takes measures when urgent situations may prevent people from obtaining services in the way that they normally would. This type of information sharing can position your organization as a trusted resource in which people can turn in moments of crisis as well as for their everyday preventive and ongoing care.

Navigating Social Media Privacy and Regulatory Issues

Even though social media marketing for healthcare offers many benefits, there are a few important things to keep in mind when it comes to privacy and compliance. As healthcare marketers know well, patient privacy is an issue of utmost concern—both from an ethical standpoint as a regulatory one—and healthcare organizations keeping an active presence on social channels should be careful about what they disclose in this very public setting.

For starters, when featuring a patient story on social channels, it’s wise to be absolutely sure that you adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines and that you have the patient’s written consent to reveal the specific personal health information (PHI) that you anticipate sharing. Additionally, you’ll need their documented consent before using any images or videos that someone could use to identify them. Even posts that could be construed as verbal gossip about a patient could run afoul of HIPAA guidelines. As HIPAA Journal points out, your employees must be fully trained on HIPAA social media rules to avoid the possibility of accidental violations.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines may also govern the way you are required to describe risk information and limitations of use about certain drugs. Kim Kardashian found this out the hard way by catching the FDA’s ire for promoting drugs on Instagram not once, but twice. Brands need to be more proactive in

Gartner’s report, How Social Marketers Can Stay Ahead of Emergent Privacy and Trust Conversations (Nov 2018), notes that, “regulatory bodies including the FTC and the ASA are launching investigations into influencer marketing practices. They are updating their endorsement guidelines to ensure that influencer posts funded by brands are clearly cited as such.”

With these new standards in mind, it’s wise to stay on top of any regulatory frameworks such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which may affect your social media marketing activities.


Rose de Fremery is a writer living at the intersection of digital culture and creativity. Originally a technologist by trade, she’s captivated by technology innovation and the promise it offers to spark our unique human capacity for creativity and imagination. Prior to becoming a freelance writer, Rose was the IT Director for an international human rights organization. She also served as Managing Editor for The Social Media Monthly, the world’s first print magazine devoted to the social media revolution. A native of Western Massachusetts, Rose works and lives in Astoria, Queens. Learn more about her at

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The Value of Social Listening for Healthcare Organizations |

The Value of Social Listening for Healthcare Organizations | | Social Media and Healthcare |

Healthcare organizations, like many organizations, should take advantage of the insight at their disposal that customers are offering up on social media. Social listening can lead to better informed social media and content strategies, with the needs of the customer at the center.

Utilize social listening for your content strategy

With the advancement of technology and social media, the obstacles that patients have historically faced to receive healthcare guidance are being diminished. Today, patients are able to ubiquitously access physicians’ opinions and advice via social media more easily than ever before. What once required an appointment and pointed conversation can now be found in Twitter feeds, on Facebook pages, and in blogs and forums, where doctors and patients are willingly volunteering their thoughts.

Healthcare organizations contributing to these conversations have the opportunity to gain impressions, drive traffic to their site, and ultimately win new customers. In order to produce relevant content that captures the attention of physicians or patients, social listening is a crucial first step in the creation of a well-informed social media and content strategy.

Reach new customers

With the growth of healthcare related education on social media, large numbers of patients are turning to it with certainty when faced with medical questions. More than 40% of consumers say that information found on social media affects the way they deal with their health.

Given this large population influenced by social media when it comes to their health, engaging in social conversation is a beneficial way for healthcare professionals and organizations to reach new customers and influence their decisions. Social media is shifting from an outlet for meaningless chatter to a valuable platform that can provide credible perspectives on today’s challenges and issues, including those that are insightful for doctors.

From a recent study, 54% of patients are very comfortable with their providers seeking advice from online communities to better treat their conditions. Doctors can feel comfortable perusing social media for insight and opinions from other professionals, knowing patients are comfortable with them doing so.

Understand what topics are trending

Before brands craft posts and content to reach these patients and physicians, significant research on the front end is needed to understand what topics are trending and worth exploring. Social listening allows brands to get a pulse on the current conversation, where customers are freely offering their thoughts and opinions. It’s a valuable tool useful for any organization wondering what consumers are saying about their brand, their product, or the industry, in general. But healthcare organizations, specifically, have a unique opportunity to be on the forefront of the growing community of trusted authorities sharing accurate, relevant content that helps educate the public and grow the relationship between the brand and the consumer.

By understanding the topics that are leading the most patients and doctors to post their thoughts, questions or concerns on social media, content can be tailored to fill these gaps in information and brands can position themselves to receive maximum engagement. Blindly creating content without taking the time to conduct social listening can lead to wasted time and money and failure to take advantage of the large volume of patients and doctors looking to online communities to better treat their conditions.

If you are interested in taking your organization’s social listening and content strategy efforts to the next level, contact the experts here at Engage!


Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

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Your social media posts can be reveal your health condition. Here's how

Your social media posts can be reveal your health condition. Here's how | Social Media and Healthcare |

study has found that Facebook posts can help detect mental and physical health conditions like depression, anxiety, and diabetes. Researchers say that they can predict whether or not a Facebook user will have at least one of 21 medical conditions, simply by analysing their profiles and posts.

The study was “particularly effective at predicting diabetes and mental health conditions including anxiety, depression and psychoses”. 

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Stony Brook University said that they studied 999 patients’ social media presence on Facebook and could deduce whether or not that patient is likely to present with a medical condition.

Lead Author Dr Raina Merchant said, “… insights gleaned from these posts could be used to better inform patients and providers about their health” as what someone posts online is reflective of their state of mind, personality, and lifestyle.

Patients who volunteered for the study allowed automated data collection tools to scrub their profile for information and for their medical records to be linked to Facebook, as well. The researchers then studied the data in three verticals— only Facebook data, only demographics data, and a combination of the two.

How does this study work?

The researchers explain that they obtained Facebook statuses going back five years and restricted themselves to only those subjects who used a total of 500 words in all status updates combined as it is the threshold word count for language analysis. They also obtained demographics such as age, race, sex, and prior diagnoses. 

Instead of analysing words that were most commonly used, the study analysed words that were most significantly related to a certain medical condition. For example, “drunk” or “bottle” were linked to alcoholism. These phrases were then grouped together and viewed as word clouds to visually ascertain which ones stood out.

Also readSecond person to be HIV-free spells hope for the global AIDS fight: All you need to know

The study found that more expletive language was linked to substance abuse, while religious language was linked to diabetes.

Dr. Merchant said that healthcare professionals can use information from a patient’s social media profile to better understand their lifestyles and state of mind and more efficiently advise them medically.

However, the study does not directly address the performative aspect of social media. Scores of public figures and social media influencers may not necessarily be honest and transparent in their thoughts and feelings.

People also use social media for a variety of reasons–– while some use it as an outlet or medium of expression, others use it as business platforms or a source of creative discovery. Those who sell wellness products, for instance, might be more likely to use certain terminology related to physical or mental conditions. The study does not clarify whether or not such profiles will be a hinderance to prediction.

Additionally, social media platforms are often used facetiously and people make comments in jest, sarcasm or irony–– the study does not explicitly mention that it takes literary devices or tonality into account.

The study is also limited to Americans and not intersectional.

This is problematic because other cultures may have different norms of social media usage. Although other countries may also use Facebook in English, non-American phrasing carries different, deep-rooted cultural and socio-economic context that must be taken into consideration especially because the study is so heavily based on linguistic analysis.

Moreover, the study also brings up crucial questions about privacy and the dangers of sharing too much identifiable information online.

Google’s AI can accurately predict lung cancer

In May, Google announced that it was developing a new artificial intelligence (AI) tool that can help diagnosis lung cancer more accurately than currently available methods.

“Using advances in 3D volumetric modeling alongside datasets from our partners (including Northwestern University), we’ve made progress in modeling lung cancer prediction as well as laying the groundwork for future clinical testing,” said Google.

Using 3D modelling, researchers are Google use a patient’s current and previous CT scans to form a malignancy prediction. After testing 45,856 chest scans and corroborating its findings with six different US board-certified radiologists, Google says that its AI tool reduces false positives by more than 11% and already is 5% more accurate than radiologists.

The value of technology in all sectors—especially in healthcare—is swiftly increasing. Technological innovation is redefining the speed of healthcare development and vastly improving its quality. The one hurdle now is to make these state-of-the art technological tools affordable and accessible to the masses. 

Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius

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Pharmaceutical Marketing: 3 Ways to Manage Patient Relations |

Pharmaceutical Marketing: 3 Ways to Manage Patient Relations | | Social Media and Healthcare |

As digital marketers, we look at a website and think about how it interacts with its stakeholders. For pharmaceutical companies, the stakeholders we most often think of include healthcare professionals, specialists/consultants, and physicians.

However, the patients—the consumers—of pharmaceutical products require equal attention and communication. In an industry that is especially business-to-business (B2B) oriented, pharmaceutical marketers can struggle to understand where the individual patients exist within a company’s digital space, so we often overlook their needs.

Our businesses’ success depends on addressing our patients’ needs within our website and effectively communicating with them. According to Physicians Practice, effective pharmaceutical marketing and communication with patients can reduce patient bills, mitigate risks of litigation, and increase referral rates.

In this post, we’ll discuss how managing your patients' expectations, providing them with educational information, and building relationships with them are ways you can improve your digital strategy and develop patient preference and trust.


The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) says that creating reasonable expectations with your patients results in trust and confidence. Think about all the ways you make a promise to your patients and double check that you’re delivering. Managing expectations is about helping patients know when to be satisfied.

The same holds true in the digital world. So if you promise them that you will respond to their email in one business day, make sure that’s what you’re doing. Otherwise, patients are right not to be satisfied.

Rational and Emotional Value

Managing expectations is about overseeing patients’ rational and emotional value. The following definitions come from AAOS:

Rational value: Created when actionable expectations are met. You can manage the rational value of your patients via appointments, phone calls, consultations, or even responding to an email as pointed out in the example above.

Emotional value: Created when you explain what you’re about to do before you do it. You can manage the emotional value of your patients by developing content that shows patients what to expect before they buy your drug or what to expect before they come in for a consultation.

Boston Digital Client Focuses on Patient Expectations


Many times companies want to manage expectations, but don’t know where to start. Setting up surveys or checking in with patients through emails is a great way to uncover expectation gaps.

Listen to your patients and get their feedback. Make sure that once you get this feedback that it doesn’t hit a dead end. Set up a course of action to rectify the situation.


According to Pew Research Center, 72% of patients get their health information online. To be an effective communicator, you need to convert your website’s information from an electronic brochure to an educational resource. Every patient goes through a buyer’s decision journey.

In the early stages of their buyer's journey, your site must have the resources necessary to inform patients about your product or service provides life-saving solutions to them. Once you offer the solution, you can then convince them why your approach is superior.

Some great ways to turn your information into easily digestible content for patients are:

1. Use clear illustrations and simple words to show users what life would be like with your product or service.

Boston Digital Client Genzyme Puts Its People Front and Center with Beautiful Photography

2. Create visual comparisons so patients can assess your product.

Boston Digital Client Kynamro Compares Its Syringe Size to a Penny

3. Simplify complex situations to lists to help guide patients through intricate procedures step-by-step.

 Boston Digital Client Kynamro Creates Simple-to-use Guides for Patients


The process of improving patient health is as much the pharmacist’s responsibility as it is the patient’s. Jeffrey Brenner, renowned physician and founder of Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, boasts that he loves getting to know his patients and talking with them because he believes the trick to healing and wellness is relationship building.

In fact, evidence supports that positive doctor-patient relationships are therapeutic for the patients and promote healing. You can emulate these relationships through your website strategy. In order for any good partnership to work, both parties need to have a role. You can give patients a role in their health decisions by:

  • Developing an intuitive navigation 
  • Creating prominent calls to action
  • Providing informational resources
  • Never leading patients to a dead-end

In the end, the tools and information you provide your patients show your care and consideration. When you manage expectations, develop the right educational resources, and build solid partnerships with your patients, you give your patients control over what ails them, and you build a trust that can never be broken.

Do you have advice about how to communicate with patients through a website? Share your experiences with us. Message us on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn

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7 Digital Marketing Strategies for Healthcare

7 Digital Marketing Strategies for Healthcare | Social Media and Healthcare |

Digital transformation has accelerated the game for healthcare. Patients now have more options and methods to monitor their health online or seek care. For healthcare brands, the clear path to success today is in establishing a solid online presence and effectively implementing mobile-first digital marketing strategies that get you front and centre to patients who are online.

Insight:  For many healthcare customers, the search for a health provider often begins online and on mobile.

Data: 90% of all healthcare journeys start online, and 60% of health-related searches start on a mobile device. In fact, consumers are now spending over 15 hours per week researching service providers from their smartphones. (Google Think Insights)

Key Action Point:  Mobile first is a different way of thinking. UX and channel choices are vastly different and should be considered independently in implementing the right digital marketing strategy that drives the best results for healthcare brands.

According to Consumer Barometer, 61% of people in Australia use local online and offline research to find local businesses and service providers. This means if you want your business to be found, you need to be online.

Today’s service directories are found on mobile; if your business is not getting traction on online channels yet, you may be only setting yourself to fail.

But it’s not too late to reverse this. Below are some of the best mobile-first digital marketing strategies that can make all the difference for healthcare brands today.

  1. Create Seamless Patient Portals
  2. Make Patient Booking and Scheduling Easy Online
  3. Build Mobile-First and Responsive Websites
  4. Develop Faster Site Speeds for a Better User Experience
  5. Use PPC and Display Ads Targeting Mobile
  6. Leverage Patient Feedback, Reviews, and Testimonials
  7. Win Your Patient’s Micro-Moments


1. Create Seamless Patient Portals

No one likes having to visit the doctor’s clinic or going to the hospital for a check-up, to renew old prescriptions, or to access important health records every single time. Giving your patients access to an online patient portal not only empowers your doctors and medical team, but you also give your patients exactly what they need — their time back.

In a survey by CDW Healthcare, 89% of patients want easy and seamless access to their personal health records, and a survey by Accenture shows as much as 78% of consumers are interested in receiving virtual healthcare.

According to Accenture’s 2018 Consumer Health Survey, 56% of consumers are already using websites to manage their health, 46% use their mobile phones and tablets to book doctor appointments, and 38% access their health records electronically.

As shown in the graph below, patient portals and virtual healthcare are preferable in offering patients timely care, reducing medical costs, and accommodating both patient and physician schedules.

Image credits: Accenture

For online patient portals to be effective, it needs to have access to the following:

  • Doctor or specialist look-up features
  • Online booking or self-scheduling features
  • Easy access to patient health data or records
  • Online bill payment options
  • Online prescription renewal
  • Patient-provider messaging and chat features
  • A knowledge-based portal containing patient health information and explainer videos
  • Patient access to virtual check-ups

Image credit: Petal MD

Patient portals serve both patients and doctors alike; they save time and promote efficiency. If you want to stand out to your patient-customer base, you need to strongly consider online portals and virtual health tools and apps to level up your online offering.


2. Make Patient Booking and Scheduling Online

Though the majority of the patients prefer to call for appointments, majority of the Millennials (71%) think taking time off to see a doctor is inconvenient and would rather book appointments online or through mobile apps; they would rather consult a doctor virtually rather than making a trip to the clinic.

Data from Accenture also points out that by the end of 2019, 66% of health systems will offer self-scheduling and 64% of all patients will use this feature.

Making online booking and self-scheduling available to your patients helps you save time, provides easy tracking and booking management, and minimises costs.


3. Build Mobile-First and Responsive Websites

Your practice will be judged by your website’s design and user experience. If your website’s performance is not up to par, it hurts your credibility and potential patients turn somewhere else.

According to research by Klein & Partners, 11% of visitors to a hospital or health system say poor website experience led to negative feelings about that brand.

Keep in mind that Google puts a prime on the user experience when ranking websites.  Mobility is fast becoming the new standard. In Australia, 60% of consumers use their smartphones and tablets to find local information, according to Consumer Barometer.

Website responsiveness and mobile optimisation are only some of Google’s key ranking factors. If your website is not responsive and fails to adapt to different devices, you lose out on visitor retention and user traffic, and time on site comes crashing down.


4. Develop Faster Site Speeds for a Better User Experience

Did you know that it only takes 5 seconds to lose a website visitor or a potential patient because of a slow website? Today’s online consumers hate slow loading times and can only wait so long before moving on to something else.

As of July 2018, Google has announced that page speed will be a ranking factor for Google searches.

To check that your website speed is up to par with today’s standards, head on over to Google’s Page Speed insights tool to check how well your page performs on the Chrome UX Report and get suggestions as to how you can optimise site performance.

Other useful tools that you can check out are the Chrome User Experience Report and Lighthouse, another chrome developer tool, which audits the performance and accessibility of web pages.


5. Use Pay Per Click and Display Ads Targeting Mobile

SEO may get you to the top of Google’s first page results, but notice the top recommendations belong to pay-per-click (PPC) and display ads. With PPC or paid search, you can create a budget for your PPC spend so your practice is listed on top of search engine results for specific keywords and terms.

Not only does this dramatically increase visibility, but you also have a better chance to track your return on investment for PPC and display ads that can be set to appear on the sidebar or triggered to “follow users around” on other websites based on their search behaviour and intent.

With 9 out of 10 searchers ending up buying after a mobile query, mobile search has a great impact on consumer’s purchasing decisions. Smartphone and tablets now account for 32% of paid search clicks and 25% of all PPC ad spend.

This means that setting up your ads and landing pages to match consumer intent can lead to a more successful mobile PPC campaign.


6. Leverage Patient Feedback, Reviews, and Testimonials

When looking for a health provider we can trust, we all turn to positive feedback from their former patients or check reviews online. Patient recommendations and feedback are frequently the driving force to new patient visits. In fact, 97% of people read reviews for local businesses, which drives the purchase decisions of 93% of consumers.

They are effective at creating social proof, increasing credibility and trust, and giving you a direct line to engage with your patients. Whether on your website or your social pages, these patient reviews and feedback should be highlighted front and centre.

Using video testimonials from your patients are a great way to share your brand story, build trust, and increase conversion.  

So ask for reviews from your patients as much as possible. Always follow-up on feedback, and use it as an opportunity to evaluate their healthcare experience and identify ways to improve your services. It goes a long way to build trust and credibility for your practice as well.

7. Win Your Patient’s Micro-Moments

Have you ever had those “I need to know” moments where you have a sudden need to learn about skin cancer or stem cell therapy? These micro-moments happen more frequently than we realise, and we turn to our smartphones or any device at hand to search for something, and we demand quick answers at a moment’s notice.

Your patient’s micro-moments are an opportunity to position your brand exactly where your patients are looking. Being able to answer these questions and showing up when these micro-moments happen drives conversion.

Google points out that consumers and patients are drawn to brands that can deliver their needs during these micro-moments. In healthcare, these are the four micro-moments you need to pay attention to so you can leverage your marketing strategy when they do happen:

  • What’s wrong with me? Be ready to answer random patient queries by optimising your web pages and creating content that addresses these questions such as explainer videos, blog posts, and infographics.
  • Where can I get treatment? This is why getting your business listed online and in Google is critical because “near me” searches matter, especially in health-related services. You need to make sure you’re visible in Google Maps where your practice is located so search engines can make online recommendations according to patient proximity.
  • Whom can I trust? After healthcare providers are determined according to proximity, online patient reviews, feedback, and trust-building content are what gets potential patients to call you.
  • How can I book an appointment? This final step is crucial to getting the first call and driving conversion. Make sure your booking and contact information is easy to find. Offer seamless options, and make the booking process as convenient as possible.

Explore further: 10 Healthcare Marketing Case Studies to Inspire Your Next Move


Tying It Together

With the increasing need to be mobile-first, healthcare practices today need to take the next step and embrace digital transformation. To stay relevant, adapt to mobile-first digital marketing methods that answer the changing needs of health consumers today.

Today’s digital marketing solutions hold the promise of timely and excellent care for patients, lower costs, and empower your brand and your patients throughout their customer journey.

Healthcare brands that turn a blind eye to these digital marketing strategies will not only limit themselves and what they can offer, but they also run the risk of alienating the huge percentage of healthcare seekers who turn to practices that are already mobile and online.

Get in touch with us today to explore how you can connect digital transformation to your customer strategy.

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A guide to multichannel marketing in the pharma industry: From email to content marketing

A guide to multichannel marketing in the pharma industry: From email to content marketing | Social Media and Healthcare |

When a concept such as “multichannel marketing” becomes an increasingly distinct part of a company’s everyday life, and affects many different departments, an increased digital awareness will be required of the employees. From email marketing to website content to social media, using the latest digital marketing tools is an essential part of every life science and pharma marketer's strategy. What does it take to optimize your multichannel marketing toolkit?

Email marketing remains an essential channel in the pharmaceutical and life science marketer's toolkit.

Essential digital marketing strategies

For decades, it has been obvious that in order to grow their businesses, companies need to offer their products or services in the forums where customers interact and search for information:  today that means online.  In the last decade, we have, as customers, been given the opportunity to access increasingly personalized services from internet companies such as Netflix, Amazon, and Google. As a result, customers expect, and even demand, more and better personalized services. These demands are also imposed on the pharmaceutical industry and life science businesses.

The first step that we, as an industry need to take, is to expand our range of information through more channels and integrate a multichannel perspective into the organization’s everyday work. 

The key to success here is general digital education with a clear answer to the question “Why do we do this?” 

The most important step after that is to follow up and analyze the initiatives. In this article, we will focus on the channel of email — considering all the different kinds of emails that make up this channel, and the key factors for a successful email strategy.

Email as a growth channel

Email marketing is alive and well as an essential element of multichannel and inbound marketing. There are three types of email used in marketing today: e-newsletters, campaign-related emails, and event-triggered emails. In most cases, the emails are sent from a centralized platform that manages subscriber status for email addresses as well as tracking metrics.

Today, it is more common to store consent for mailing outside of the platform, which will likely change in the future, as more email systems are integrating GDPR compliance and other consent tracking tools. How well does your email marketing and CRM system manage this?

E-newsletters consist of either an individual message or a mix of messages to a group of recipients (with either the company or the product as the sender).  They are typically sent out several times a year to update the recipient about product news, illnesses, treatments, or relevant trends.

Campaign-related mailings are often automated emails that follow some form of campaign or activity. It can be anything from a confirmation of registration, a series of predefined emails that support the campaign or lead nurturing, a thank you for participation, or a satisfaction survey after an event. Email campaigns are an essential element of lead nurturing to move prospects down the funnel.

Event-triggered mailings usually contain personal material that is sent out after some kind of interaction with the customer, either in person or remotely. The material is connected to a discussion that has taken place and is often based on templates, graphics, and texts that have been approved in advance, with the addition of free text written by the company’s employees.

Measuring success

After sending out a mailing, it’s important to measure the results to determine what works or doesn’t. One of the most indicative key factors behind successful email marketing is cost per interaction (CPI). CPI is primarily measured by counting the number of clicks on links in each mailing but is also measured by tracking several other key performance indicators (KPIs) such as: Exposure, Interaction, and Engagement.


Tracking the size of your email list is one metric that helps measure success. This includes looking at several metrics:

  • Number of new subscribers
  • Number of emails sent
  • Current size of list (new subscribers minus unsubscribes)

Number of subscribers shows how many new subscribers you gained over a selected period of time. A trend curve can give an indication of whether, for example, the size of your list is increasing or decreasing, or if the forms for signing up for emails on a website are not achieving the desired conversion rate. If you can see that your list growth isn’t meeting your goals, you can take appropriate measures to fix it.

Number of emails sent shows whether the target number of emails over a year has been reached. An appropriate target can be approximately 10-12 mailings of e-newsletters per year. It’s important, however, to keep in mind that everything you send out should be of value to the reader, otherwise, you risk causing the reader to unsubscribe. The type of offers, news or information you have to share, as well as the resources available to create compelling new content, will affect how often you should plan to distribute a newsletter.

Current list size complements the first and provides a second trend curve that indicates the “health” of the email list, and the possible market impact (the more emails sent to relevant recipients the greater the impact). It is one of the factors behind the CPI.

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Counting new and total current subscribers provides a good metric for measuring the overall health of your list. Are your CRM and email system connected?


Interaction tracks how well your email list is performing.

  • Number of opened emails
  • Number of emails that “bounced”

Number of opened emails shows mainly two things – the customer’s trust in you as a sender and your ability to write an interesting subject line, which is one of the factors for calculating CPI.

Number of email bounces provides relevant information about the “health” of the mailing list. The goal is to have as few bounces as possible, that is, when the email does not end up in the recipient’s inbox. Here you differentiate between a “soft bounce”, for example an “Out of Office” reply, and a “hard bounce”, when the email recipient does not exist and you get an error message.

Tallying email sends, bounces and unsubscribes helps understand how engaged your audience is and whether your subscribers trust you.


Engagement provides information about the quality of your content or the appropriateness of what you’re sending to your lists.

  • Call to action (CTA)
  • Click through rate (CTR)
  • Number of opt-outs
  • Number of referrals

We should distinguish between the first and second metrics.

Call to action (CTA) refers to links, often in the form of a highly visible graphic button to click on, that takes readers to a specific offer or landing page. This button can be directly linked to the registration for an event, or download of content. 

Click through rate (CTR) refers to links of a more general type, for example a link to a website with in-depth information on the subject. These two points are often gathered under the concept of click frequency, which is the most important factor in the calculation of CPI.

Number of opt-outs is a clear indicator of whether what you send out is relevant and meets the expectations of the target group. A high opt-out is an important warning signal and actions must be taken, since it is difficult to regain trust for future mailings once it has been lost. In general, this figure increases somewhat with the total number of recipients on a list. In addition, people’s interest tends to decrease over time.

Number of referrals is very interesting and is an obvious success factor for the overall email strategy, since a forwarded message shows that what has been sent out is interesting enough for the recipient to support (advocacy). You may want to facilitate sharing but make the possibility to share relatively discreet in order not to breach the pharmaceutical industry’s ethical regulations and guidelines. And remember – it is the company that is responsible for the information at all levels and all the way to the final reader. One tip is to formulate this function as “Share with a colleague”.

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Metrics on opens, views and clicks can help determine which content is working.


Key factors for success with email marketing

Email marketing is one of the must-have success factors for multichannel and inbound marketing

• E-newsletters and campaign-related mailings represent the brand or the company and should have one of these as the sender. Event-triggered mailings should be sent out with the employee as the sender, since the material is personal.  The opening frequency is often two to three times higher with employees as senders than the company name. However, be careful not to abuse this by using it as a strategy for all communication.

• Put a high focus on collecting consent for mailings with subscription collection forms on your website or other offers. A higher number of consents leads to an overall lower cost per interaction (CPI) and a more efficient means for increasing total Share of Voice.

• Emails are inherently a “push” tactic and should be used as such. Make sure that everything that is sent out is of value to the reader – quality before quantity. An email should not be sent out to everyone who has given their consent but should be sent to the relevant segments of the total list that have shown interest in the content. In addition, material should not be sent out solely because it is available, or based on internal, regional, or global directives, but only when it has been identified as valuable to the recipient.

Think about the customer experience. How does an individual recipient perceive your email?

• Emails provide a two-way communication. Use this opportunity to ask the reader about his or her interests (for segmentation) or what they want to read more of (contributing to the publication plan). You can set up a form on your website to collect answers or use a service such as SurveyMonkey to take polls.

• Generally, a short subject line results in a higher opening frequency, and a long subject line results in a higher click through rate among those who open the email. The content of the email should preferably be brief with a mix of images and text and one or more visible calls to action (CTA), depending on the purpose of the email.

• Create an effective approval process. To be relevant to the customer, material with news or educational value must be part of the mix. With a long approval process, which is typical for the pharmaceutical industry, a detailed publishing plan or content calendar is the foundation for success.

• Standardized templates are a must to create a unified customer experience in all communications from your company – in all channels, not just the digital ones. These templates should also include the opportunity to unsubscribe from mailings and possibly include links to legal texts.

Email is an essential element of marketing

With a large part of the customer base on the mailing list, a well thought-out strategy that involves several departments and employees with the right perspective, together with a long term publication plan, email marketing is the marketing method that gives the best result in both the short and long term. This goes for emails sent internally as well as externally.

The statistics from the mailings provide insights into what attracts the audience and can form the basis for other sales and marketing efforts. 

The internal cross-functional work in creating a the publication plan or content calendar provides synchronization between different departments in determining what is important now and in the future. 

When a sufficient mass of recipients has been accumulated, each mailing becomes extremely cost-effective and the CPI decreases.

Last but not least, emails fill to some extent the void that arises between personal visits by the sales force, with increased competitiveness as a result.

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How to Build a Community in the Healthcare Industry

How to Build a Community in the Healthcare Industry | Social Media and Healthcare |

When you think about how to build a community in the healthcare industry, and reduce the divide between medical and social circles, healthcare is the obvious connector.

Social engagement happens in medical circles of health care providers, researchers, and patients just as medical talks also happen in social circles.

This interplay happens because healthcare affects everyone.

Doctors don’t just talk among themselves in medical abstracts: they tweet, tag, and like or comment on each other’s posts.

Additionally, medical opinions and health perspectives are not confined to journals – they, too, are built around hashtag campaigns. Patient or public partnerships are now the way forward for medical research and cohort studies.

A study on “The Emerging World of Online Health Communities,” showed that:

…social outcomes sit alongside and sometimes above clinical ones. Where health care has a low tolerance of failure due to the consequences that can follow, online health communities thrive on stories of what went wrong and how people battled the system.

So how do you begin those conversations online, let alone build communities to converge in those conversations?

Here are 5 ways:

Listen and Engage with Your Audience

Health talk is everywhere, and the vast majority is online where they seek solutions and community support for health-related concerns:

  • online forums
  • health blogs
  • educational platforms
  • social media

To stay relevant and reach these audiences, the healthcare industry needs to meet consumers where they are: social media.

Use the communicative power on social networks to raise awareness and counter misinformation, provide patient support, for public health monitoring.

As you listen in, engage to understand your audience, what they are talking about, so you can use the insights in developing your strategy.

A good example of an online health community that made health-related feedback and shared stories the core of its existence is Care Opinion. Formerly Patient Opinion, it’s a UK-based online platform to share experiences of health and care services in the UK, good or bad.

It also bridges those shared experiences to the right people who can help. Health and care providers have used this channel to connect with patients, address their concerns and improve their services for a better patient experience.

Use Healthcare Influencers

Healthcare Influencers offer unique insights, led by their own experience, and lend credibility with their name.

They have the ability to reach your target audience, engage them for you, and spread your message.

Influencers have a community of followers to help you build your community from within. There is the macro-influencer with a huge social following. But there are also micro-influencers with a niche audience, not a fan base. Therefore, they are closest to the prospective customers and impact their decision-making process.

But there is a caveat – endorsements should adhere to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules on advertising and comply to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA).

Influencers are not exempt from rules even when they operate in the free-wheeling space of social media, especially on health information, and should pay particularly close attention to messaging for any drug advertising via social media.

This is a lesson Diclegis (Diclectin in Canada), an anti-nausea pregnancy (NVP) drug, learned when they used a celebrity macro-influencer to promote the medicine without communicating any risk information associated.

This resulted in an FDA warning to the maker of the drug, Duchesnay USA.

Celebrity and reality-star Kim Kardashian had to delete her original Instagram post endorsing the anti-morning sickness pill. The paid endorsement received 464,000 likes.

Kardashian had to post an updated message, including the side effects and links to the FDA website.

Source: Daily Mail

Building a Community Through Thought Leadership

One of the problems of the open-source web is the abundance of misleading and dangerous content.

Healthcare companies can rise above this noise by being a thought leader providing insights, sharing medical information, and answering patient questions.

By building trust with your target audience, you can raise awareness, counter misinformation, and clarify misconceptions.

Claiming to be the “Authentic Voice of Healthcare” is the founder of a primary care clinic in Downtown Las Vegas, Internist Dr. Zubin Damania, or ZDoggMD. He has a bolder take on thought leadership, but in a lighter way.

He takes strong positions on relevant medical and health-related issues in video commentaries, using medical humour, healthcare satire, parody music videos, and witty and amusing social media posts.

He has 1.4M followers on Facebook, 44.8K on Twitter, 147,981 YouTube subscribers, and 234K Instagram followers.

His music videos are always a hit. Taking on the opioid crisis issue, for example, he made a parody music video of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself”, with his version, “Treat Yourself”, an ode to those who are suffering due to the opioid epidemic.

Create Useful Content

To patients, clinicians, researchers, academicians,  the internet is one of the first go-to information resource. Build your community around valuable, digestible content that educates your audience.

Well-timed informational posts, and patient stories through video or other creative formats, are easy magnets for followers. Multimedia content helps reach a wider audience.

Infographics, “how-tos,” interactive quizzes, health tips, and “did you know?”-type trivia are content styles that can attract a large audience.

Inspirational content also motivates and sparks much-needed hope, especially content related to malignant diseases. Success stories that inspire usually get shared most, increasing awareness of your brand and your name.

Cleveland Clinic knows how to attract followers, by pulling at heartstrings with inspiring stories about real patients on Instagram.

They also features posts with shocking facts about health, fat-freezing tips, motivation to exercise, posture, weight loss, and more.

Bridge and Connect Them to Resources

Referrals are very much part of the dynamics in the healthcare and medical industry. When you bridge your audience to resources of information or service, this will build your reputation as a go-to source of information.

But the work doesn’t end with a helpful recommendation – you need to engage your audience, make suggestions, initiate productive conversations between patients, doctors, industry leaders, health technologists, innovators, or policymakers.

Sensei client LifeWIRE, a health technology platform for patient engagement, shares curated content related to anesthesiology, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and the opioid crisis.

It uses and cites multiple scholarly articles, medical journals, and has quoted and featured doctors in its blog posts and white paper

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) thanked @LifeWIREGroup for sharing their infographic on the government’s efforts in combating the opioid crisis.

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Only one in five doctors aware of patient feedback about their care online, survey reveals

Only one in five doctors aware of patient feedback about their care online, survey reveals | Social Media and Healthcare |

Around one in five doctors are aware of patient feedback about themselves on review and ratings websites, according to a new survey of health professionals.

Their answers also reveal that GPs felt strongly that online feedback is negative, particularly on social media.

The new study led by the University of Warwick, published on  3 June in the Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, demonstrates that health service staff are cautious about using online feedback due to assumptions that it will be overwhelmingly negative, potentially missing opportunities to improve care.

Healthcare services use a number of methods to collect information on patient experiences, including surveys and Patient Participation Groups, and policymakers have pushed for greater use of online feedback in addition to traditional sources.

The research is based on a survey of 1001 registered doctors in primary and secondary care and 749 nurses and midwives in the UK. It examined their experience and attitude towards online sources of patient feedback, on sites such as I Want Great Care, NHS Choices (now the NHS website) and Care Opinion.

It found that just 27.7 per cent of doctors and 21 per cent of nurses were aware of feedback online about an episode of care that they had been involved in, while only 20.5 per cent of doctors and 11.1 per cent of nurses were aware of feedback about them as an individual specifically.

Dr Helen Atherton, from Warwick Medical School, said: “We saw a lack of awareness from healthcare professionals of when feedback had been left about the care they delivered, whether as an individual or team. Overall, awareness and use by doctors is low. But we are seeing that doctors are much more negative about online feedback than nurses, and more so with GPs.

“There’s a real need that if NHS organisations are collecting this data that they need to be communicating it to frontline staff, because it’s pointless for the patients if their message isn’t getting through.”

The majority of doctors did not encourage patients to leave feedback and only 38 per cent felt that it was useful in improving services. This is despite previous research showing that online feedback tends to be generally positive towards the health service. The survey also highlighted that healthcare staff were more wary of feedback on social media, with 65.4 per cent of doctors feeling that feedback on social media is generally negative.

Dr Atherton adds: “Previous research in this area by our team shows that it tends to be more positive than people think. Healthcare organisations should be putting protocols in place for this feedback and developing plans for what to do with it. If healthcare professionals are aware of it and take control of the process a little more by actively soliciting it then it’s more likely to be useful to them. There are positive examples of how commentary left by NHS patients on review sites have led to changes in the health service.

“Professionals were more wary of social media than they were of ratings and review websites so these are probably the easiest ways to source feedback in practice. You know where your patient is going and you can pick up comments and act on them, something that is more difficult with social media.”

The National Institute for Health Research-funded study forms part of the Improving NHS quality using internet ratings and experiences (INQUIRE) projects, led by the University of Oxford, which is investigating how the NHS should best interpret and act on online patient feedback to improve the quality of NHS services.

Reference: University of Warwick

Source: ‘Online patient feedback: a cross sectional survey of the attitudes and experiences of United Kingdom health care professionals’ published in Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, DOI: 10.1177/1355819619844540

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5 Modern Rules for Effective Hospital Marketing - 

5 Modern Rules for Effective Hospital Marketing -  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Hospital marketing is tricky, to say the least. You just cannot inspire patients to visit a hospital. However, it is important for you to increase your patient base in order to do justice to all the investments you have made in your hospital. The solution: marketing your hospital in a subtle but effective manner.

Today’s customers research and purchase medical services does not correspond with the marketing strategies designed to reach them. From the way they reach the target audience, to how they brand their products and services and which networks they utilize to connect with potential patients, hospital marketers need a fresh approach.

Considering the above facts, Hospaccx team participates in research to make hospital marketing effective. This is macroficial study of ‘5 Modern Rules for Effective Hospital Marketing’ you want to get into more detail you can contact

Hospital marketing should not be restricted to brand-building or sales support. It is about making a positive connection with patients, on their terms. If your hospital’s marketing program is focusing on any of the following areas, it is time to reconsider your branding strategies and how you want to portray yourself to patients:

Non-care focus: Hospitals that focus on luxuries misinterpret why patients choose medical facilities. Patients choose hospitals on the basis of specific treatment expertise and online error-free or minimum-error medical histories.

Overusing outbound strategies: While many hospitals still use electronic media such as TV and radio ads and direct emails to capture patients’ attention, the marketing world has shifted away from outbound strategies. Instead, according to HubSpot, almost 92 percent of companies using inbound techniques such as blogs, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media witnessed an increase in site traffic and lead generation.

Short-range focus: Medical marketing requires patience. Since most patients do not need care immediately, hospital marketing must focus on the long-term nature of the industry. One of your potential patients may view an advertisement for your hospital but not need medical service for months or even years. Persistence and patience are must-haves for hospital marketers trying to attract more patients.

New rules for hospital marketing

Hospital marketing has taken an unforeseen turn. Some medical facilities are using hotel-like comforts to attract and pamper potential patients. However, these luxuries do not lessen concerns about high healthcare costs. Here are some of the newfound marketing rules you should adhere to for attracting more patients while building a strong, health-first brand.

  1. Know your product

As a medical marketer, you spend most of your time thinking about your product. How to improve it, sell it, talk about it, whom to sell it to – this is what you are paid to dwell on. But here’s what you need to know: Customers rarely evaluate your product solely against other products in the same category. They have limited money to spend but have a lot of options. And if your products are deemed less important than others in the same category, beating out your competitors may not help you win the sale.

The solution

You must understand how your product category is perceived by your target audience in order to fully understand the environment in which you are operating. One of the easiest ways to start is by making some calls to current patients. Just ask them about the product options they have today and those they were considering when finalizing your product. Of course, a formal survey would be better. In addition, a survey would give you a reason to reach out to current and potential patients about things other than your product or service, which is a good thought.

  1. Listen

What part of your marketing budget do you spend on listening versus telling your story? Most marketers spend most of their budget on telling. However, recent research has uncovered some surprising insights about what customers value most while purchasing a product. So, if you understand what customers demand and the challenges they face, your chances of success can go way up. Listen to your patients and hear what they have to say.

The solution

It is about time you introduced some fresh elements into the marketing mix. To begin with, you can design a questionnaire. If you have tried almost every “telling” strategy under the sun, why not borrow a page from the political playbook and go on a listening tour? You can consider visiting current and potential patients, without any “promotional” agenda, and try to gather intelligence and build interpersonal relationships. However, if in-person visits do not sound like a good idea with your customer list or budget, you can plan a similar survey in a virtual environment.

  1. Focus on after-sales

Skilled marketers focus on making the sale, but great ones know that what happens after the sale is just as critical. This is an important lesson for marketers. In most organizations, marketers focus most of their energy on the lead-up to the sale. This is because, essentially, salespeople and marketers are judged on sales numbers and their sales pipeline. Identifying potential clients, contacting them with the right message through the right channel, closing the deal. That is a typical sales routine. However, what happens after the sale is just as important.

Imagine replicating this scenario on hospital marketing teams and patients. Why? Because most potential patients depend heavily on word-of-mouth. They call their family and friends and look up online reviews in order to learn more about your hospital. And in those environments, what you did before attracting the patient to your hospital is not important at all. They want to know what happened after a patient visits your hospital. The real story is about the patient’s experience and his or her overall journey. If you are unable to shape that story, you are likely to miss the boat.

The solution

It is critical to map your marketing strategies against each touch point in the patient’s journey. If you are not spending a significant part of your total effort on what happens after patients visit your hospital, you have a lot of work to do. Surveys are certainly an effective way to keep in touch with patients after the consultation, and they can provide valuable feedback. Regardless of what strategy you choose, your goal should be to equip current patients with the information they need to help sell your services to their family and friends. Convert your patients into brand ambassadors.

  1. Prioritize social media

As compared to other industries, hospitals have been slow to adopt social media. Most medical facilities have only a vague idea of what they would like to accomplish, but no defined goals, objectives or methods. They just “want to be on Facebook.” Many healthcare facilities understand the value of social media but are unsure of how to get the ball rolling or get their feet wet. Having a robust social media presence that supports all facets of your marketing strategies and engages your patients cannot be implemented overnight.

The solution

Consider the success of Mayo Clinic when crafting your social media strategy. The clinic’s Center for Social Media is the first of its kind. Mayo Clinic also has a YouTube channel that shows doctor interviews, treatment videos and stories about patients receiving outstanding care. New patients get eyewitness reports of the experience, right from check-in to follow-up care.

For healthcare marketers, social media is an opportunity to connect with potential and existing patients, discover partnership opportunities and seek professional advice. However, as medical professionals, you must keep in mind HIPAA guidelines when promoting your hospital and services on social media. Also, some social networks indulge in data-mining practices, which may turn off some of your patients. Having said that, most social media platforms provide benefits along with the much-needed security demanded by medical marketers. Design a social media strategy and start engaging with your patients. You can provide general healthcare advice and customer support and create brand awareness. Do not discount the power of hashtags and relevant images. With the right social media strategy, your marketing reach can get an incredible boost.

  1. Strengthen the content marketing

The biggest mistake in content marketing is to create content that your target audience may not connect to or that does not portray your hospital as planned. Most content writers focus on creating sales-related and promotional content. Such content offers only a little or no value to your patients. Do not forget, your target audience is smart enough to identify and classify promotional content from informative content. Consequently, it is an attempt to sell your services and glorify your hospital brand that may make the potential patient abandon your website.
How to overcome this problem?

The solution

Whether a hospital wants to increase its email marketing conversion rate or improve the click-through on its website, content is the key. All you need to do is to create unique, useful and engaging content for your target audience. When a valuable piece of content is created, your readership will grow. This will gradually increase your viewership. Effective content marketing programs take time to stabilize. Do not expect a new blog to drive 100 new patients the first day. However, rest assured, if you consistently create useful and informative content, you will notice an increase in your marketing ROI.

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Doctor-Patient Relationship Building: 4 New Technologies

Doctor-Patient Relationship Building: 4 New Technologies | Social Media and Healthcare |

Relationship building has always been an essential part of the doctor-patient dynamic. Today, however, patients hope the doctor-patient relationship will become increasingly digital.

Of course, it’s just as important to meet in person as it always was. But for patients (and potential patients) with busy lives, it’s a good idea to have multiple touchpoints. And what better way to do so than with the devices we use every day?

These 4 technologies will help patients feel more connected to your practice. You’ll stay top of mind with patients who haven’t yet picked your team as their healthcare providers—and remind current patients you’re here when they need you.

Technology’s Shifting Role in Doctor-Patient Relationship Building

Just a decade ago, most patients didn’t expect to hear from their doctors very often. And the experience could often be frustrating. Caring providers have always done all they can to see patients in need, but the doctor-patient relationship is strained when contact is limited to regular business hours through confusing phone trees and unclear scheduling policies.

Today, patients prefer—and often expect—to receive communications like appointment reminders digitally. Many would much rather schedule an appointment online than over the phone, and many more would love additional options for online communication and health information.

Changing the technology you use to communicate with patients—both current and prospective—can be a game-changer for your organization. Competing healthcare providers are already using these 4 methods to reach people outside of the office. Can you keep up?

#1: Text Messaging

Here’s an easy question: what do most patients do to fill time the moment they’re alone in an exam room? Check their phones! The modern healthcare consumer is an avid texter, and may be more likely to respond to a text than answer the phone. In fact, 97% of people in the U.S. use text messaging weekly, and most use it every day (Pew Research Center).

Here’s the challenge: standard SMS messaging may not be HIPAA compliant due to the lack of encryption (HIPAA Journal). However, SMS messaging is not the only way to “text” a patient.

To ensure all text communication is HIPAA compliant, you should look into options other doctor’s offices are already using, like Spruce. If a patient has a concern with a medication, needs a refill, or just has a quick question, they can contact their doctor via the app.

#2: A Healthcare CRM

Another way to reach patients on the devices they use every day is via email. We often recommend email marketing to touch base with those who have called or filled out a form on your website, but haven’t yet taken the next step to sign up for an appointment.

One of the best ways to do this is with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that allows you to streamline your marketing processes and keep in touch with those who aren’t quite ready for an appointment—but may be very soon.

As with texting, be careful with how you handle any PHI. In addition, always check that emails are mobile-friendly. More people now read email on their phones than on a desktop computer!

#3: Social Media

Granted, not many people find their healthcare provider through social media. But it’s worth allowing those that go above and beyond to research your facility and see what you’re all about.

Besides, taking ownership over your social media accounts has SEO value, helping you take control over what patients see when they search your name. It’s a great place to show off the relaxing (or energetic) atmosphere in your office and showcase your staff.

You can also use social media to advertise your services with highly targeted ads that find people in your desired demographic. For more information about paid social media strategies, see a previous article here: The Biggest Misconception about Social Media for Healthcare

#4: Voice Search “Skills”

Businesses have long been welcome to develop and submit “skills” to the Alexa platform—Amazon’s virtual assistant and voice search platform. However, only a select group of healthcare providers and companies were recently selected to develop skills as Amazon unveiled its HIPAA enablement.

This option may not be available to all organizations—yet. But it’s only a matter of time before your competitors have voice apps that help people find the closest location, schedule an appointment, or even access medical records. 

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How Has the Nature of Patient Support Changed?

How Has the Nature of Patient Support Changed? | Social Media and Healthcare |

From in-person support groups to online support groups to social media "groups" - vestibular patients are connecting with their peers in many ways.

Before the internet the only way for vestibular patients to connect with others was through in-person support groups. Support groups provide a unique and critical service: acceptance. This forum allows individuals to ask questions and to learn in a non-judgmental and safe environment. Participants know that everyone attending the support group meeting understands and has compassion for the functional difficulties of getting through each day. As a result, less frustration and energy are spent on proving or defining limitations. More energy is available for appreciating the character and companionship offered by others, and recognizing personal self-worth.

Unfortunately, there aren’t enough brick-and-mortar support groups to meet the needs of all vestibular patients. In addition, some patients cannot attend an in-person support group, either because they can’t leave their house due to the nature of their symptoms, or due to transportation limitations.

Recognizing this need, VeDA’s volunteer Patient Support Committee started organizing online support groups, which meet “live” via video conference or phone.

Social media has spurred other ways for vestibular patients to connect. There are several “closed groups” on Facebook facilitated by vestibular patients looking to give people a place to share their experiences and get feedback and support from their peers. The beauty of these groups is that people can access them whenever it is convenient for them. One such group called “Vestibular Disorders Support Group” has grown to over 8,700 members; with so many participants, there is a great deal of shared knowledge and experience.

Karen shared her experience of participating in this group:

"Last August I hit bottom on this vestibular journey. I had seen 7 doctors, all of whom looked at me like they wished I was in anyone else’s office besides theirs.  I had just quit my job teaching, which was the center of my world. Being divorced and having grown children living out of state, I was alone with this challenge. There was no one that really understood or even quite believed what I was going through. As I continued to search for answers and a diagnosis (vestibular migraine with cervicogenic features) I turned to the Internet for information. Luckily I found VeDA and the Vestibular Disorders Support Group on Facebook. I can remember the joy I felt discovering that other people had similar experiences. And best of all, they were sharing ideas, successes, frustrations and most of all, compassion. I was stunned that I was not alone with this disorder. The time I have spent talking with people on the Facebook support group has been a complete lifesaver. Many days they were the only conversations I had. As I’ve continued on this journey, finally finding a diagnosis, good physical therapy and making lifestyle changes, VeDA has been at the center of my support. The information VeDA provides is invaluable in learning about and coping with this disorder. Just knowing that anytime I check in with the Facebook support group there are people who understand makes me feel once again connected to the world. Thank you for the help, the information, the connections and the hope."

There are also ways to connect with other vestibular patients one-on-one. VeDA donors can join “V-Pals” – a pen pal network. Members of V-Pals receive a monthly email with a list of the names and email addresses of other patients that they can reach out to.

Whatever type of support network that works best for you, remember, you are not alone.

You can search for a support group in your area, or sign up for V-News, VeDA’s free monthly e-blast to receive a listing of upcoming support group meetings.

Online support groups are also available

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The role of the chief medical social media officer

The role of the chief medical social media officer | Social Media and Healthcare |

The antidote to fake health news? According to Austin Chiang, the first chief medical social media officer at a top hospital, it’s to drown out untrustworthy content with tweets, pics and posts from medical experts that the average American can relate to.

Chiang is a Harvard-trained gastroenterologist with a side passion for social media. On Instagram, where he refers to himself as a “GI Doctor,” he has 20,000 followers, making him one of the most influential docs aside from TV personalities, plastic surgeons and New York’s so-called “most eligible bachelor,” Dr. Mike.


Every few days, he’ll share a selfie or a photo of himself in scrubs along with captions about the latest research or insights from conferences he attends, or advice to patients trying to sort our real information from rumors. He’s also active on TwitterMicrosoft’s LinkedIn and Facebook (which owns Instagram).

One of Chiang’s social media campaigns
Austin Chiang

But Chiang recognizes that his following pales in comparison to accounts like “Medical Medium,” where two million people tune in to the musings of a psychic, who raves about vegetables that will cure diseases ranging from depression to diabetes. (Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop has written about the account’s creator glowingly.) Or on Pinterest and Facebook, where anti-vaccination content has been far more prominent than legitimate public health information. Meanwhile, on e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay, vendors have hawked unproven and dangerous health “cures, ” including an industrial-strength bleach that is billed as eliminating autism in children.

“This is the biggest crisis we have right now in health care,” said Chiang. “Everyone should be out there, but I realize I’m one of the few.”

According to Chiang, doctors have historically been reluctant to build a following on social media for a variety of reasons. They view it as a waste of time, they don’t know how, or they fear they might say the wrong thing and get in trouble with an employer. Others prefer to spend their time communicating with their peers via academic journals.

But as Chiang points out, most consumers do not pore over the latest scientific literature. So health professionals need to take the time to start connecting with them where they do spend their time — and that’s on Facebook and Instagram.


So he’s working to recruit an army of physicians, nurses, patient advocates, and other health professionals to get online. He’s primarily starting on his home turf at Jefferson Health, and with other doctors in his specialty. He was appointed to his “new and unique role” in the summer of 2018, which he got after a series of conversations with the health system’s CEO Stephen Klasko.

Klasko is a physician and avid social media user himself, with both professional and personal accounts. He’s also a notorious straight-talker in the industry who openly discusses some of the more broken aspects of the heath-care system online and at conferences, including things like the inflated costs and the flaws of medical education.

Jefferson Health’s Steve Klasko walking through campus.
Jefferson Health

In his new role, Chiang has been thinking about guidelines for health professionals on how to use the new digital tools, including things like disclosing any conflicts of interest. He thinks that more transparency about ties to industry will help doctors garner trust with the public. To spread these ideas, he’s set up a new group for health professionals dubbed the Association for Healthcare Social Media.

He’s also attempted a few hashtag-driven public awareness campaigns, including one called #verifyhealthcare to promote these ideas about disclosures, and another called #dontgoviral to counter anti-vaxxer content.

Klasko, Chiang’s CEO, sees a direct business benefit to having Jefferson’s approximately 3,000 doctors participating on social media.

“Everyone under the age of 35 uses Facebook and Instagram as a vehicle, and I want them to see Jefferson as a partner in their health so they’ll think of us” he said.

More broadly, he shares Chiang’s concerns about the proliferation of health misinformation. Measles cases are climbing, with outbreaks across the country, which many health professionals chalk up to parents refusing to vaccinate their children. That’s one of the reasons that Klasko chooses to be so active online and with the media, so that people who want to access accurate information can find it.

“Imagine if it would be easier to access The National Enquirer than The Washington Post,” he said. “I fear that that’s what is happening in health care right now.”

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Viewpoint: Physicians' frustrated social media posts may lower patient confidence

Viewpoint: Physicians' frustrated social media posts may lower patient confidence | Social Media and Healthcare |

Though venting about colleagues, stress levels and lack of sleep on social media can serve to humanize physicians, that humanization can also undermine patients' "noble" perception of the medical profession, according to medical ethicist Daniel Sokol, PhD.

In a new article for STAT, Dr. Sokol discussed the recent trend of physicians openly sharing online their experiences crying at work, losing their temper with coworkers and even making clinical errors. Tweets and Facebook posts like this contribute to a drop in patient confidence in the entire profession.

"A loss of confidence in doctors brings a greater inclination for patients to challenge, complain, and sue," he wrote. "Moreover, it risks the loss of the placebo effect borne from seeing doctors, whose very presence can be reassuring."

Therefore, Dr. Sokol concluded, "Those tempted to share insights into the working life of doctors on social media must ask themselves whether the benefits of this candor outweigh the possible harms to their own reputation and to the image of the medical profession as a whole. This restraint forms part of medical professionalism."

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Doctors should use social media with restraint

Doctors should use social media with restraint | Social Media and Healthcare |

More than a century ago, Sir William Osler — probably the most celebrated doctor in modern history — gave a lecture to medical students in which he referred to doctors as belonging to “the great army of quiet workers”whose voices are not heard in the streets but who offer “consolation in sorrow, need, and sickness.” The best doctor, Osler noted, is often the one of whom the public hears the least.

Nowadays, doctors are heard loud and clear by all and sundry. Social media is brimming with doctors and medical students opening their hearts, sharing their frustrations, and venting their anger.

We can read tweets from doctors who describe how they cried at work, struggled with lack of sleep, lost their temper with incompetent colleagues, and even made mistakes. Are airplane pilots equally open, I wonder?


In a different address, this one to newly minted doctors at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Osler said that “in the physician or surgeon no quality takes rank with imperturbability.” He described imperturbability as a physical quality — a steadiness of hand and coolness of nerve under pressure which reassures patients and colleagues.


For Osler, the mental equivalent of imperturbability was equanimity: serenity of mind. This mental composure could be ruffled by patients, overwork, and the uncertainty of medicine. Yet attaining equanimity would enable a doctor “to rise superior to the trials of life.”

Osler observed that these two qualities should be used judiciously and not harden the human heart by which we live.

Since Osler’s time, the public perception of doctors has changed. Their descent onto the bustling crowds of social media is likely to have played a part. With greater openness about physicians’ vulnerabilities and fallibilities, the mystique of the medical profession is fading. The Oslerian emphasis on imperturbability, equanimity, and quiet dignity has given way to the doctor as Everyman, prone to the same weaknesses as all of us.

Doctors, who hitherto got things off their chests in private, now bellow their discontent to the world. This may be therapeutic and may humanize doctors, but it risks undermining public confidence and damaging the nobility of the medical profession. A loss of confidence in doctors brings a greater inclination for patients to challenge, complain, and sue. Moreover, it risks the loss of the placebo effect borne from seeing doctors, whose very presence can be reassuring.



Younger doctors have grown up with social media. They tweeted as students and now do so as doctors. Some of their older colleagues have also embraced this newfound freedom to instantly share their views to the world, contributing to lifting the veil on the inner life of doctors.

Those tempted to share insights into the working life of doctors on social media must ask themselves whether the benefits of this candor outweigh the possible harms to their own reputation and to the image of the medical profession as a whole. This restraint forms part of medical professionalism.

I am surprised, for example, by how common it is for doctors to criticize colleagues on Twitter. The American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics states that physicians who identify unprofessional content on social media “have a responsibility to bring that content to the attention of the individual” and may need to report the matter to “appropriate authorities.”

Doctors must assume that their patients, relatives, and colleagues — past, present and future — will read their posts. This knowledge should help triage appropriate posts from inappropriate ones.

Daniel Sokol, Ph.D., is a London-based bioethicist and lawyer specializing in medical law. He is the author of “Tough Choices: Stories from the Front Line of Medical Ethics” (Book Guild, 2018). An earlier version of this article was published by the Hippocratic Post.

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