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Doctors Look To Data To Increase Patient Engagement

Doctors Look To Data To Increase Patient Engagement | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

For many reasons, several of which we’ll discuss here, a patient’s full understanding of, and engagement with,their health care experiences are vital for a positive outcome. And today, we have more options than ever for achieving higher levels of interest, patient engagement, and “buy-in” from health care customers. These include data-rich wearables, telemedicine for housebound patients and electronic health records that follow us around as we switch providers or seek treatment from specialists.

We’re positively swimming in data. But all that noise stands a good chance of confusing or distracting patients from their ultimate goal of ongoing good health if doctors and patients don’t come to the table together with a plan and a common understanding of which data points are meaningful in context and which are not. 

There’s no doubt anymore: Big data is going to revolutionize the way we administer health care throughout the world and help us achieve financial savings. But as doctors look to leverage modern tools for interacting with and sharing patient health data, there are several factors to remember and several key advantages worth checking out. Here’s a rundown.

Data in Long-Term Treatment for Chronic Diseases

Regrettably, we still lack a cure for many chronic diseases. Therefore, doctors and their patients must instead “manage” these conditions. It’s possible to live a full and active life while undergoing treatment for severe diseases and conditions, but only with the right levels of vigilance and engagement. Patients with chronic illnesses must maintain their motivation, their attention to treatment and medication schedules and their general knowledgeability about their condition.

Chronic diseases are particularly well-suited to data-driven treatment because they come with unique challenges:

  • Maintaining a working knowledge of how the condition and treatments are progressing is vital for patients to keep good morale.
  • Lapses in treatment can add to the overall costs of treatment, which is why vigilant adherence to treatment plans, as laid out by doctors and specialists, is so important.
  • Not every chronic condition requires constant trips to the doctor’s office. In many cases, self-management of these cases is possible, and patients can independently administer medicine and engage with their health outcomes without regular trips to a doctor’s office or exam room.

Working together, doctors and patients can use real-time and historical health data to better understand the individual’s holistic health and draw up bespoke treatment plans for their unique circumstances. One part of the equation involves applying predictive models to anticipate future changes or unexpected turns their health condition might take.

 
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For instance, gathering and organizing data from a large number of insured people lets data-driven health care systems and insurers more accurately take into account social and geographical “determinants” for future patient health. This process can help break down a health care system’s roster of patients by risk type — such as proximity to environmental conditions with known connections to patient health.

Plus, not everybody has a history of responding the same way to known pharmaceutical treatments. And not every patient is equally likely to make the lifestyle changes recommended by their doctors. We’ve entered an era in health care where insurers and doctors will eventually begin requiring patients to wear health and fitness monitors as a matter of course. Doing so ensures everybody remains on the same page and that doctors can draw the most personalized conclusions possible from the reams of data such devices collectively produce.

Natural Language Processing, or “Once More in Plain English”

Health care is a product, like it or not. And whether we’re purchasing that product on some convoluted health care exchange, or we live someplace where health care is an understood right of being a citizen, we all buy into this product one way or another.

But even in countries where a single-payer system spreads out the liabilities and costs among patients and consumers and helps drive down prices for everybody, health “literacy” is still a real problem almost across the board.

We all know the jokes about doctors’ handwriting. But that’s not the kind of literacy we’re talking about. Often, the valued customers of the world’s health care systems lack even basic knowledge about human health or turn to poor sources of information, such as doctors who skate by on name recognition alone.

The situation only becomes worse when you consider the chorus of medical jargon patients must digest as they visit physicians and specialists for what ails them. Here’s why poor health literacy is detrimental to health outcomes:

  • Patients who don’t understand their situations in full are less likely to adhere to medication and treatment schedules consistently.
  • Lab results tend to include medical terms patients don’t necessarily readily understand. And the generally poor doctor-to-patient ratio in the U.S. and elsewhere means doctors don’t always have the time to make sure patients leave their practices feeling confident and informed. Misinterpreted lab results are common as a result.
 
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Natural language processing has had a long road to relevance as the technology has slowly come of age. But in 2017, researchers from Yale, the University of Massachusetts and the Veterans Administration applied natural language processing algorithms to the task of demystifying electronic health records, or EHRs, to make them more easily digestible for laypeople. They wanted to see whether a computer algorithm could promote better communication about health.

It did. Indeed, it worked so well it outperformed the researchers’ expectations, even with unsorted and unlabeled data from patient evaluations. Another 2018 study, now made public by e-health publisher JMIR, confirmed the original findings: When patients and health care providers use natural language algorithms, themselves powered by big data and machine learning, patients have a far and away more complete understanding of their health.

After a few tweaks to the systems, researchers even found patients’ ability to recall complex medical definitions later had improved further.

Lower Costs Are Just the Beginning

It’s true we frequently measure the quality of health care in dollars and cents. It’s also true that when deployed sensibly, emerging technologies can help bring down costs for everybody. But that’s just the start. Here are some of the other advantages of applying data to solving lackluster patient engagement:

 

  • Health care systems can pivot from reactionary to proactive treatment as health databases become richer with relevant patient data.
  • Algorithms are already making it much easier to match patients with relevant clinical trials that might deliver results. Using data encourages hesitant patients and ensures the most compatible matches.
  • Hospital readmissions might drop as a result of doctors and patients having more tools for anticipating setbacks in the recovery process.

When we empower people with knowledge about the condition of their bodies, they make better lifestyle choices. And when that happens, we enjoy a healthier population overall. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the effectiveness of our communication and the quality of our information are two of the keys we need in hand to build a health care system that works the way it’s supposed to.

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

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

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

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#Formdox integrates perfectly with several #functionalities for the monitoring
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Massachusetts Medical Society: The Why, How, Pros, and Cons of Online Physician Communities

Massachusetts Medical Society: The Why, How, Pros, and Cons of Online Physician Communities | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

The tools of the modern doctor’s kit: white coat, stethoscope, and Twitter. And if not Twitter, then Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or other online forums. Industry estimates suggest more than 90 percent of physicians in the US are actively using at least one social media platform to interact with colleagues as well as patients.

These electronic forums — and the tools that physicians use to access them — serve the same purposes as traditional medical communities. They have become integral to advancing medical education, as well as facilitating cultural evolution within the profession, says Kathryn Hughes, MD, an acute care surgeon at Falmouth Hospital.

“The reach [of online forums] in the medical community is broad, global, and across the entire arc of the medical experience, from student, to resident, to attendings, to thought leaders and industry leaders,” says Dr. Hughes. “It encompasses the entire spectrum of the hospital experience as well as colleges and universities and medical programs.”

General interest physician-only communities, such as Doximity and Sermo, are one manifestation of physicians’ online networking; Doximity estimates that 70 percent of US physicians have used the platform at least once. These forums are complemented by social media initiatives that bring physicians together, often in special interest communities. Facebook’s Physician Moms Group, for example, has become a dynamic forum for women physicians. “These are very fluid and nimble communities that can lay the groundwork for the next community to be created. Significant and real collaboration grows out of them, and they are a powerful way to form connections,” says Dr. Hughes. She and other physicians spoke to Vital Signs about the value of Twitter.

Enduring Goals, Changing Means

More than a century ago, surgeons came together in person to collaborate, support each other, set standards for the profession, and bond over shared experiences, says Dr. Hughes. “Flash-forward to a new millennium. Problems, benefits, and all of the good and all of the bad are bigger in this new electronic format, but they aren’t different.”

In 2015, the American Association of Medical Society Executives noted, “[T]he mechanisms and ways that [medical] communities come together have changed a great deal. New technologies allow physician communities to be built online as in-person networking opportunities are harder to fit into members’ schedules.” In addition, young physicians are technologically savvy and would likely be active on social media platforms regardless of their career choices.

Some physicians find that online interaction can substitute for, or at least complement, face-to-face connections. Michael S. Sinha, MD, JD, MPH, says, “It’s nice to reconnect with the online colleagues you’ve made on a periodic basis. You often feel like you get to know people, even if you’ve never met in real life.”

Moving Medical Culture Forward

The influence of such networks has grown rapidly. Social media helps explore the ways that issues of broad topical currency play out in the practice of medicine. With women accounting for more than half of incoming US medical students in 2017, for example, online physician communities are dynamic forums for discussing diversity and inclusion.

“Virtual discussions have led to an increase in awareness of issues related to gender parity in medicine,” wrote Julie K. Silver, MD, associate professor and associate chair in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, and co-author of a June 2018 article in the New England Journal of Medicine on the role of social media in advancing women physicians’ careers. “Social media may play a role in supporting these female students, just as it has begun to support women physicians of all career stages, helping them overcome traditional barriers to professional development.”

Dr. Hughes, chair of the MMS Committee on Women’s Health, was a pioneer of the hashtag #Ilooklikeasurgeon, which first appeared in 2015 in an effort to highlight women’s contributions to the heavily male-dominated field of surgery. The hashtag went viral. (The theme was immortalized in popular culture by an April 2017 New Yorker covershowing four masked female faces gazing down at a patient in an operating theatre.)

Facilitating Patient Care

Online networks can facilitate clinical learning. The use of hashtags on some social media platforms enables users to find relevant content and conversations. Dr. Sinha, a research fellow at Harvard Medical School, routinely engages in several e-communities on Twitter, including #WomenInMedicine, #HMIChat (transforming health care delivery and medical education), #PWChat (physician well-being), #JHMChat (care for hospitalized patients), and #MedEd (medical education).

Matthew Katz, MD, a Lowell radiation oncologist, turned to Twitter more than four years ago as a means to keep current efficiently with cutting-edge academic research. Dr. Katz initiated a monthly journal discussion for tweeting oncologists, engaging article authors and introducing them and their research to the e-community. He facilitates chats that often attract 50–100 colleagues, researchers, and patients interested in treatment developments related to breast, lung, and brain tumors. Dr. Katz, who is also a regular user of Doximity, is a past chair of the MMS Committee on Communication, which is developing an updated guide to social media for physicians (available imminently on massmed.org).

Patient-Physician Learning

Online learning communities can include patients, says Dr. Sinha. “When patients join the chats, especially topical chats centered around specific diseases like #lcsm (lung cancer), #obsm (obesity), or #bcsm (breast cancer), those perspectives and contributions are tremendously insightful and important for physicians.”

This multidimensionality of online communities is a major benefit to medicine, he says. “Increasingly, it’ll be a way for physicians and patients to engage with one another, to educate one another, and to establish meaningful relationships. It’s certainly not an appropriate venue for establishing a patient-physician relationship, but if used correctly, e-communities like Twitter can allow physicians to walk in patients’ shoes, and vice versa. That’s critically important in health care today,” said Dr. Sinha.

Challenges and Pitfalls

Online forums are not without hazards. Social media can be a time sink; it is important to be conscious of the return on investment. “You have to do it in a way that adds to your clinical practice of medicine,” says Dr. Katz. In addition, any mistakes made in such forums are public.

Protecting Patient Privacy

Participating physicians have the added responsibility of constant vigilance about patient privacy laws. Many physicians who are active on Twitter make a point not to reply to posts soliciting medical or legal advice, and place such disclaimers on their profiles, says Dr. Sinha. “Above all, it’s important for physicians to avoid disclosing identifiable information about patients — and not just because HIPAA says we should. It’s more about respect for patient dignity and personal privacy.”

Online medical communities are working on these challenges. “Social media are potentially very powerful tools for communication, and I am hopeful we’ll figure out through better research a way to use them both ethically and effectively, but I don’t think we are there yet,” Dr. Katz says.

That said, there’s no going back. “We’ve barely scratched the surface of the potential for how social media can be used to bring us together to disseminate information and improve clinical practice,” says Dr. Hughes. “We are in the early stages of seeing where this can take us. I’m an optimist.”

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Traditional Digital Advertising Rules Don’t Apply To Patient Recruitment

Traditional Digital Advertising Rules Don’t Apply To Patient Recruitment | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Syneos Health has released the results of a study conducted to gather real-world patient insights into the effectiveness of digital advertising to assist with clinical trial recruitment. The study was conducted online and involved 432 patients in the U.S. with epilepsy and migraine, two conditions with active late-phase pipelines. The patients were about equally split between male and female, with 91 percent being white. All were in the U.S.

Social media has taken an increasingly important role in patient recruitment. A research report from Consumer Health Online found 75 percent of Americans are now looking up medical-related information online at least monthly. From the sponsor company perspective, social media offers more granular targeting capabilities, efficient pricing for ad delivery, and increased variability in creative execution than traditional forms of marketing. The Tufts Center has found only 11 percent of clinical trials currently use social media to recruit patients, leaving a lot of room for growth.

With those statistics as a background, the study was conducted to help digital marketers better understand patient perceptions surrounding online clinical trial advertising. It evaluated patient trust levels with specific online channels and platforms as well as what factors contributed to content success.

Patient recruitment for trials has always been difficult. With personalized therapies and precision medicine treatments now making their way into clinical trials, finding the right patients will become even more challenging. As a result, social media advertising will play an increasingly important role in trial recruitment.

Patients Remember Ads

The study, titled Content That Clicks: Effective Social Marketing for Clinical Trial Recruitment, notes four key findings.

First, the recall rate of clinical trial ads is high. In other words, patients who see these ads will later recall having seen them. This is certainly different than most traditional advertising efforts. Sixty-six percent of epilepsy patient respondents and a whopping 79 percent of migraine respondents recalled seeing clinical trial advertising.

When asked where they recall seeing the ads, most respondents cited television ads, followed by Facebook, and their doctor’s office. Other sources garnering over 20 percent of responses by either epilepsy or migraine patients were online patient communities, search engines, newspapers, and radio. LinkedIn was cited by just 8 percent of epilepsy patients and 0.6 percent of migraine patients. Respondents were also asked what social media platforms they use regularly to read or post content. YouTube was number one, followed by Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Clinical trials expose patients to new and unfamiliar treatments. That makes patient trust in sponsors and investigators essential. Advertising decisions should, therefore, be made in a way that maximizes that trust.

The study found that high trial intenders have a significant trust of social media. High trial intenders are defined as individuals who indicated a high intent to enroll in a clinical trial. These individuals showed high levels of trust in every digital information source outlined in the study, including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In terms of the level of trust placed in these sources, most social media channels were clustered closely together. YouTube was the most trusted channel. In fact, trust in YouTube amongst those with high intent to enroll in a trial was 19 percent higher than those with low intent.

Patients Trust Their Doctors

We know that patients have a high level of trust in their physicians, and those professionals were cited as the most trustworthy source of information. In terms of trustworthiness, physicians were followed by patient advocacy groups and medical/health websites.

A third finding notes that the trust level in healthcare professionals also translates into creative imagery. In the study, patients were shown two ads. One ad featured a doctor in a lab coat. The other featured a woman in obvious discomfort. The creative imagery that featured the physician outperformed the other image by nearly 10 percent.

Unfortunately, patients in the survey did not place a lot of trust in pharma companies. Pharma ranked last amongst the survey options, trailing behind sources such as other patients, family members, and friends.

Deliver The Right Emotional Message

Pharma is focused on the promise that their medicines offer patients. Therefore, an ad for a migraine treatment might tend to picture a patient who looks healthy and happy. That aspirational tone might look good in ads but can miss the target by not being relatable to patients. The study found people living with migraines were more likely to click on an image of a person who appeared to be experiencing a headache or other type of pain. The study also found illustrations outperformed stock photography, possibly because photography requires the user to identify with the real person in the photo. If you don’t relate to the person, it can negatively impact the advertising.

Finally, standard social rules may not apply when attempting to recruit patients. On social media, shorter content is typically viewed as the gold standard. However, this study found that with clinical trial social ads, longer content performed better. Eighty-one percent of responders who indicated their condition has a high negative impact on their quality of life preferred an ad with longer and more detailed copy. 

One additional piece of information in the survey is worth discussing. Participation rates in clinical trials are low, and the reasons for not participating are numerous. Respondents were asked what might keep them from opting to participate in a clinical trial. Transportation issues ranked number one, followed by the lack of payment for the time invested. Both issues could be reduced or eliminated with some amount of investment by pharma. Coming in third was concern over receiving a placebo, followed by lack of time and concerns over privacy.

The worlds of patient recruitment and social marketing will continue to become more intertwined. That will make it essential for sponsors and agencies to invest the time necessary to deeply understand the needs of their target audience. As the report notes, targeting the right audience with the right message on the right channels can make a meaningful difference in patient recruitment.

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6 steps for increasing patient enrollment in clinical trials

6 steps for increasing patient enrollment in clinical trials | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Clinical trials are the engine that feeds innovation for the biopharmaceutical industry. At any given time, 6,000 clinical trials are enrolling participants across the globe — patients with cancers, serious conditions, or one of 7,000 rare diseases. Not surprisingly, enrolling trial participants has become a core competency, required of biopharma companies to complete clinical studies and move on to regulatory filing and approvals.

And still patient enrollment is often cited by companies as one of the most significant barriers to conducting clinical trials.

Failure to enroll sufficient numbers of patients can result in costly delays or even cancellation of the entire trial. In fact, roughly 80% of clinical trials fail to meet enrollment timelines and approximately one-third of Phase III study terminations are due to enrollment difficulties. In addition, 15% to 20% of sites never enroll a single patient.

Here’s the basic truth: Without patients, there’s no trial. That’s why the obstacles and inefficiencies that plague clinical trial enrollment must be reduced via an infusion of technology and a big dose of patient-centricity.

For anyone with an entrepreneurial mind and a high tolerance for risk, clinical trial enrollment presents a perfect opportunity. Here are the steps the industry needs to take.

Widen the enrollment funnel.

The enrollment process best resembles a funnel. It is initially wide, but narrows considerably as inclusion and exclusion criteria are applied and as patient location, availability, and willingness to participate come into play. Interested parties must seek out opportunities to use technology to minimize each potential disruption so that more patients are included at the mouth of the funnel and fewer are eliminated due to logistical reasons.

Understand key stakeholders.

When it comes to clinical trial enrollment, patients want to find out about research opportunities as soon as possible, and they want the ability to sign up or prescreen, ideally online, for clinical studies. They want fewer phone calls, no voicemails, and more control over scheduling and rescheduling screening visits. They want to be able to summon transportation without red tape and access their medical records quickly and easily.

How about clinical trial sites? They want more eligible patients to manifest at a steady rate, a system to organize and track these patients, and support from the sponsor to arrange for transportation or in-home testing.

And the biopharmaceutical sponsors of the research? They want steady progress toward complete enrollment, accelerated enrollment, and to know — in real time — the study’s enrollment status.

Together, these three stakeholder groups can help design the future of clinical trials, a future when clinical trials are efficiently enrolling all over the world. And technology, within and outside pharma, is already helping the industry move in that direction.

Harness digital targeted advertising.

Patients often share that they may not ever find out about a clinical trial. If their doctor is not participating in the study, they say, then why would he or she let patients know about the clinical trial? And how long will it take to inform them?

In the future, every clinical trial will be advertised on mass channels such as Facebook, with targeting so sophisticated any likely participant will be offered the opportunity to participate. But trial enrollers are currently falling short: A mere 11% of organizations currently recruit patients through social media.

Conduct online prescreening.

In the future, it will not be enough to simply inform patients about a clinical trial. Instead, we must provide them an actionable way to prescreen, sign up, and opt-in to be contacted.

While clinicaltrials.gov provides a comprehensive listing of trials, it suffers from two key problems.

One, the study descriptions are not easily understood by the average patient. And two, there is no actionable way to prescreen. At some point, each study should have an online prescreening mechanism that allows patients to find out if they are eligible and, if so, continue the enrollment process.

Consolidate and transfer medical records.

Once we’ve gotten the patient to a screening visit, the next major hurdle is the consolidation and transfer of medical records — two activities that do not occur with any degree of predictability or efficiency today.

For patients with complex or severe conditions, the process may take weeks or months, and oftentimes becomes the responsibility of an already overtaxed caregiver. In the future, we must develop a central, secure repository of medical records that can be accessed by patient or caregiver for easy transfer and use by the clinical trial site.

Facilitate in-home testing.

Just as they summon Lyft and Uber drivers with their phones, what if clinical trial participants could summon nurses to help complete diagnostics and forms required during the screening or later visits?

Patients are often overburdened by the number of study visits and the slew of blood tests and other diagnostics required. Bringing the ones that don’t require a clinical environment right to the patient’s living room would significantly increase enrollment.

The in-home tests could be conducted using an app, a wearable, or a diagnostic device specifically designed for the task at hand. But it won’t happen until regulators get on board with the process, expediting the review of these tracking systems and enabling implementation.

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Top 10 U.S. Social Media Influencers in Healthcare

Using our extensive media database, we compiled a list of the top 10 United States social media influencers in the Healthcare space. See how our solutio
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Social Media for Medical Practices: 3 Tips for Launching a Facebook Page

Social media has become a prevalent part of the lives of consumers, and a vital tool for businesses to reach them. With more than 1.8 billion active users, it’s no surprise Facebook is one of the…
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Debe Mack's curator insight, Today, 11:07 AM
Social Media can be used for recruitment, information, and  engagement!
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How Digital Marketing has changed Healthcare Marketing

When I meet new patients at my clinic, I always ask them how they got to know about Tamira. Everyone has a different story to tell.

They either found us through a google search, an online advertisement, an article that we had placed online, patient testimonials or through patient referrals.

Customers these days are well informed. When they meet me, most of them ask pointed questions which means that they are well researched in the topic.

I have heard from several of my hair transplant patients that they started researching about hair transplant and hair loss control options from the time they started losing hair. This only shows that a huge number of people are now active online and are looking for information online for all their health queries. Moreover, they can get the opportunity to weigh the pros and cons regarding choosing between hospitals or clinics rather than being biased by individual opinion.

According to an article in www.digitalvidya.com, the statistics of online consumer behaviour is interesting when it comes to searching about health related information: 

  1. Over 40% consumers say that they look for information online for health related queries and the information they find affects the way they take decisions pertaining to their health. Another research by Demi and Cooper Advertising & DC Interactive group says that 41% of people reported that social media would affect their choice of specific medical facility, hospital and a doctor. Hence, health care professionals should make educational content that prospective customers can review and take a decision. This content should also be made easily accessible on company websites and social platforms.  
  2. People in the age group of 18 to 24 are more than 2 times likely than 45 to 54 year olds to discuss health related issues on social media. That does not mean that hospitals and departments catering to 45 to 54 year age category need not invest in digital marketing. Most probably the younger member in the family would be more informed to take a decision for the elderly. Hence, hospitals, clinics and doctors must maintain social media presence and must post informative content regularly. The content needs to be informative and educative about the recent advances in medical field. Not just that, they must incorporate online conversations to keep the engagement going. 
  3. 90% of those in the 18 to 24 years category would trust medical information shared through social media networks and search engines. Hence good quality educational information is a must with focus on customer testimonials and reviews. Testimonials and reviews can create a positive mindset in the mind of the information seeker. This can reduce time to decision.
  4. 19% of owners of a smart phones have atleast 1 health app on their phone. For those of whom it is relevant, it is important to invest in developing an app, which would make it useful for a customer. The app can be a useful means to stay connected with the patient, feed useful information, fix appointments easily and keep the customer engagement ongoing. 
  5. According to MedTechMedia (a leading UK based healthcare magazine), 31% of healthcare professional use social media for professional networking. Due to this reason, Doctors and health care professionals must be active on social and networking sites. Doctors referrals can be a good source of patients. 
  6. Google’s Think Insights has shown 119% year on year increase in YouTube traffic to hospital sites. Hence, hospitals must creative more video content, be it educational videos or testimonials. 

There are several differences between Plastic and aesthetic treatment discipline and other disciplines of medicine, in terms of how a decision or clinic selection is made.

In plastic surgery and aesthetic treatments

  1. The lead time to decision can be lengthy, upto 2 years.
  2. Our patients are not sick, and hence they can go shopping for treatments. They visit different centers, meet different doctors, check rates and then decide. Therefore cost of a procedure becomes a deciding factor in many cases. Hence, marketing efforts are geared towards creating a differentiation between your services and that of the others. 
  3. Time to decision can vary from patient to patient. From the time a patient takes an appointment with us and meets us for a consultation, we have found that there are patients who have turned up for a surgery within the next two months, and some who have taken over 2 years to make up their mind and come for a surgery.
  4. Customer are not open about their aesthetic treatments and wish to keep it a secret, hence they do not seek information from friends and relatives. Hence, our referral customers are very few. 

Due to these factors, in the Aesthetic healthcare industry, marketing is key. In the last few years, we have found that the digital marketing has over taken all other forms of marketing and mediums. The reasons for this is obvious. They are

  1. Digital marketing costs lesser than other traditional marketing medium.
  2. Easy to start campaigns, stop, control and tweak based on real time data.
  3. ROI is measurable and one can ensure that the most effective creatives and the most effective campaigns get higher budget.
  4. Brands can afford continuous online presence unlike print media.

Due to the consumer behaviour and due to the online browsing patterns, health care service providers in the cosmetic surgery space like ourselves need to 

  1. Be present where the patient is – be it google, social media, quora or health care directories like Whatclinic, RealSelf or Quora.
  2. Make content that is educational and informative and is easily available
  3. Focus on making high quality videos that are informative
  4. Be active on social media and participate in the social conversations
  5. Ensure customer testimonials and reviews that are so vital are made available and are easily accessible. Invest in them.

Regardless of Health care reforms, Health care is a business and is an industry. 

For years, hospitals and physicians relied on personal referrals. Marketing was not considered necessary, and in fact was considered unprofessional. Even today, according to MCI rules, a doctor cannot solicit Patients. The rule was made when GST was imposed on cosmetic treatments. By imposing GST, Government of India has categorized “Cosmetic surgery and Aesthetic Medicine” as a luxury service/procedure, while other health verticals are categorized as life saving procedures. 

As so many people are searching for information online and are looking for treatment options, it is imperative that every medical practitioner has a digital marketing strategy that enables them to differentiate themselves and their services from other local providers. 

Tamira leverages Digital Marketing 

At Tamira, we go the full length to leverage digital marketing for awareness programs, demand generation and customer engagement. We are able to accomplish this through our 

  1. Carefully designed website
  2. Social media presence and campaigns to reach our target audience. We engage with our followers actively
  3. SEO and SEM to enable people interested in our services to find us
  4. Videos that are informative
  5. Great quality content like blogs and infographics that are useful to the prospective patients
  6. Customer newsletters that ensure that we continue to engage with our customers. A happy customer can get us more. Also, once a customer is always a customer.

Digital marketing can be a double edged sword

To industries that depend on digital marketing extensively, like the aesthetic treatments space, digital marketing and online presence can be a double edged sword.

  • Stringent advertising guidelines: There are stringent guidelines for advertising for our services and treatments on social media sites like Facebook and Google. For example, to promote a weight loss treatment, we cannot use text or images that will in any way imply body shaming or leans towards promoting a certain body type.
  • Negative reviews are a bane: Some customers may be fussy and probably they had a one off bad experience, or did not get the result they expected. It may be because they did not follow the post procedure care or protocols as discussed with them. Such customers end up posting testimonials, reviews and comments that are negative. We often deal with unhappy customers who make it a point to leave negative remarks on our social media sites about our service. Once we have a negative remark, it becomes nearly impossible to erase them. These remarks became a threat to companies like us. Many times there are anonymous reviews and complaints. This means that the person is trying to sabotage our credibility. 
  • Our competition tries to sabotage our efforts: There have been instances where our competition has tried to post negative reviews about us, or have tried to post their positive reviews on our social sites. In the west and in some centers in India, I understand that customers are expected to sign form that states that if they post negative comments about the center, they are liable to be sued and charged with defamation. These forms are got along with General consent forms for the procedure. 
  • Negative marketing: Negative Search Marketing is another aspect that is effecting the way we promote our services. For eg, if you searched for Apple iPhones on google, you will find ads for Samsung, OnePlus, Google Pixel etc. This means that Samsung, OnePlus and Google Pixel are ensuring that when you search for Apple iPhone, you will also see ads for their products. They are seeking your mind share and ultimately are trying to influence your decision. This is called negative Marketing. Nothing wrong with it, but, it means you need to spend more money to stay on top in the competition and grab the eyeballs. No matter how much we spend to promote ourselves, our competition could be resort to guerrilla marketing tactics, that are detrimental to us.

What’s next with digital?

As there are advancements in the Aesthetic treatment space, robots enabling hair transplants and 3D printed hair as replacement for lost hair, I am sure there will be advancements in the digital space as well.

Here are some of advancements that I am looking for to:

  • An Online listing of board certified plastic surgeons: This is the need of the day. There are several surgeons operating aesthetic centers without relevant educational background and licenses. I wish there is a portal that lists names of all board certified surgeons with their educational qualifications, licenses and affiliations with the governing bodies relevant to their field of practice. This way, the unqualified doctors and quacks will be out of the list. It will become common practice for general people to look up this list and verify the claims and reviews before setting up an appointment.
  • Artificial intelligence can pave the way for intelligent ad campaign management:Like in all other fields, Artificial intelligence can play a role in digital marketing as well. May be there is a way to target digitally all individuals who are looking at a picture of a beautiful nose…may be they are considering a Rhinoplasty. 

There can be many more possibilities. There are interesting days ahead.  

Last week, Tamira Life was declared winner in 3 Single speciality Center categories for Plastic and Cosmetic surgery, Dermatology and Trichology in the Times of India All India Lifestyle Hospital and Clinic Ranking Survey 2018.

We have been declared:

  • No. 1 in the Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery
  • No. 2 in Dermatology
  • No. 3 in Trichology

We owe our success to our digital marketing efforts and our entire marketing team. Without their dedicated effort the 1, 2 and 3 ranks would not have been possible.

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The Web-Based Physician is Ready to See You: A Nationwide Cross-Sectional Survey of Physicians Using a Mobile Medical App to Evaluate Patients With Sexually Transmitted Diseases in China

The Web-Based Physician is Ready to See You: A Nationwide Cross-Sectional Survey of Physicians Using a Mobile Medical App to Evaluate Patients With Sexually Transmitted Diseases in China | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Background: Web-based medical service provision is increasingly becoming common. However, it remains unclear how physicians are responding to this trend and how Web-based and offline medical services are linked.

Objective: The objectives of this study were to examine physicians’ use of mobile medical apps for sexually transmitted disease (STD) consultations and identify the physicians who frequently use mobile medical apps to evaluate patients with STD.

Methods: In August 2017, we conducted a nationwide cross-sectional survey among physicians registered on a mobile medical app in China. We collected data on physicians’ demographic information, institutional information, and Web-based medical practices. We compared physicians who used mobile medical apps to evaluate patients with STD frequently (at least once a week) with infrequent users. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regressions were used to identify physicians who frequently evaluated patients with STD on mobile medical apps.

Results: A total of 501 physicians participated in the survey. Among them, three-quarters were men and the average age was 37.6 (SD 8.2) years. Nearly all physicians (492/501, 98.2%) recommended their last Web-based patient with STD to subsequently see a physician in the clinic. More than half (275/501, 54.9%) of physicians recommended STD testing to Web-based patients, and 43.9% (220/501) provided treatment advice to patients with STD. Of all physicians, 21.6% (108/501) used mobile medical apps to evaluate patients with STD through Web more than once a week. Overall, 85.2% (427/501) physicians conducted follow-up consultation for patients with STD using mobile medical apps. Physicians working at institutions with STD prevention materials were associated with frequent evaluation of patients with STD on mobile medical apps (adjusted odds ratio=2.10, 95% CI 1.18-3.74).

Conclusions: Physicians use mobile medical apps to provide a range of services, including Web-based pre- and posttreatment consultations and linkage to offline clinical services. The high rates of referral to clinics suggest that mobile medical apps are used to promote clinic-seeking, and not replace it. Physicians’ use of mobile medical apps could benefit sexual minorities and others who avoid formal clinic-based services.

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The importance of managing your practice's online reputation

The importance of managing your practice's online reputation | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

When was the last time you reviewed online ratings and social media sites to find out what people are saying about your practice? 

A recent MGMA Stat poll asked, “Does your practice manage its online reputation (e.g., review sites, social media)?” The majority (67%) of respondents indicated that their practice does, one-quarter said their practice does not, and the remaining 7% were unsure. 

In this age of online information, transparency and an ever-increasing trend of consumerism in healthcare, patients make choices based on information, and the easiest information for them to find is just a Google search away. Managing your practice’s online reputation is a critical component of your business plan.

The statistics bear this out:

  • A recent survey conducted by Binary Fountain, a company providing healthcare-focused online platforms for healthcare facilities, indicated that:
    • 75% of healthcare consumers say online ratings and reviews influence their decision when selecting a physician or provider.
  • A 2016 survey by Software Advice found:
    • 82% of patients surveyed used reviews to evaluate physicians
    • 77% of consumers search for a provider online before making an appointment
    • 48% of respondents would go out of network for a doctor with favorable reviews
  • BrightLocal 2017 US-based consumer review survey found:
    • 85% of consumers trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation
    • 47% would consider going out of network for a doctor with more favorable reviews

Managing your online reputation is an ongoing process. Here are some tips for crafting an online reputation management plan:

  1. Google your practice’s name. Then, try different variations of the name and review and document what you find. On what sites does your practice appear and what information do you see? Is it accurate?
  2. Google your physicians and other providers. Follow the same process outlined above.
  3. Monitor, track and document how your practice ranks on various sites over time. Consider conducting these audits on a quarterly basis.
  4. Search for “doctors near me” in your specialty and see where your practice and providers rank. Track this over time. 
  5. Note “bad” reviews and comments. Do not remove them. Respond in a professional, non-defensive way. Thank the reviewer, offer to speak to him or her personally to gain additional insight and assist in resolving issues.
  6. Use “bad” reviews as a learning opportunity. Step back, think about the underlying intent of the bad review and learn from it. What can you teach the staff to prevent this from happening again?
  7. If your practice is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other platforms, ensure your social media content is updated on a regular basis. Produce content that is relevant, carefully curated and helpful to your patients.

Managing your online presence is an important part of your practice development efforts. After all, you want your online reputation to be as stellar as your practice’s clinical care and customer service. To do so, incorporate the tips mentioned above in your planning, and allocate the necessary resources, whether it’s time, personnel or money.

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Are You Using Social Media To Market Your Dental Practice?

Are You Using Social Media To Market Your Dental Practice? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Social media marketing is a powerful tool to attract patients to your practice. However, it’s not always easy to know how to go about using it. What information should you post? Where should you post it? Should you use hashtags? We’ll help you navigate the social media landscape with the tips below.

Facebook

This is the most popular social media site. Facebook marketing is essential today if you want to market your dental practice. What should you post? Essentially, anything that is helpful or interesting to your patients or leads.

1. Set up a Facebook profile about your business. You can include information in the About Section that tells users who you are and how long you’ve been practicing. Be sure to include your contact information and a link to your website. Also include photos of your office and staff, engaging copy, interesting dental articles.

2. If you work with vendors you’d like to promote, tag them and their products. The more information, the better. But keep it interesting and relevant to your patients and prospects. Engaging content is the key to finding new patients on Facebook.

3. Ask your satisfied patients for testimonials you can post on Facebook. Also, engage with those who like and follow you.

4. Use Facebook to promote any sales on services, events you hold or attend, and any awards or honors you or your staff have received.

5. Include a link to your Facebook Page on your website, in emails, sales letters, newsletters, and other collateral materials. Spread a “wide net” to attract as many followers to your Page as possible.

6. And remember to include a Call To Action so people know how to contact you.

Twitter

Twitter can be very useful for dentists. It provides a fast-paced, real-time engagement for patients and prospects.

7. Unlike with Facebook, your posts must be less than 280 characters. If you want to include an article, you’ll need to provide a website for readers to link to.

8. Include photos, engaging content and a call to action. Use the hashtag symbol (#) before a relevant keyword or phrase to categorize your Tweets and to help them stand out. Use them to promote events or promotions. For example, if you’re holding an online event to educate children about teeth brushing, use a hashtag like #kidsbrush. Then people can follow your hashtag wherever you place it.

Instagram

Instagram is popular because of its visually appealing presence.

9. Set up an Instagram Business Profile for your dental practice. Be sure to include information about your location and contact information. Link your profile to your website. It also provides users with a way to see how others are engaging with you.

10. You can also use hashtags and location tags to organize photos and improve search functions. This is where you want to share Interesting photos that highlight your dental practice. Include engaging captions that share where you are and how to reach you.

11. Add hashtags in the caption or comments of your post. T a photo or video with a hashtag. You can use up to 30 hashtags per caption.

Pinterest

This is another platform that attracts people for its visually appealing content.

12. The target audience for Pinterest is women, so keep this in mind when posting. Include engaging photos and appropriate hashtags just as you would in Instagram.

13. Pinterest should supplement other lead generation efforts. Use it to create boards for patients and followers based on your services. Include your accomplishments with comments, likes and “Repins.”

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great way to attract clients (mostly business people) to your dental practice. When you provide helpful information that appeals to business people on LinkedIn, they will look to you as the expert you are. This builds interest, trust, and allows you to promote, and sell your dental services.

14. Create your own LinkedIn Group. This is a great way to attract followers who want up-to-date information about dental health. Develop a subject as a reason for your group, and position yourself as an expert in the field (perhaps a subject like dental implants).

15. Participate in other LinkedIn Groups. By doing so, you can highlight your profile and attract followers. Once you’ve positioned yourself as a dental expert, and a knowledgeable resource, you’ll have an opportunity to promote your business.

16. Promote your LinkedIn Page via other marketing vehicles. Just like you did with Facebook, including a link to your LinkedIn Page on your website, in emails, sales letters, newsletters, and other collateral materials. Spread a “wide net” to attract as many followers to your Page as possible.

17. Take advantage of LinkedIn Follow Ads. Follow Ads can be promoted to people in your area. They help you reach and attract the right followers — those who are interested in the dental services you provide, and in an area that you cover. Be sure to add a LinkedIn “Follow” button to your website.

18. Ask your employees to be LinkedIn “Ambassadors.” After all, they are some of your best advocates. Ask them to create personal LinkedIn profiles that include your business name, and a link to your website.

Contact the team at NOVA for other social media and IT tips. In the meantime, it’s essential for you to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the world of IT. We make it easy by posting newsworthy articles on our Blog. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find:

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Social Media and Professionalism - Protecting Your Patients, Your Profession, and You

In this video I describe best practices for using social media professionally, with a focus on protecting patient confidentiality and observing HIPA
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Siilo : the Legal Framework for the use of Social Media Messaging within the UK Healthcare sector

Siilo : the Legal Framework for the use of Social Media Messaging within the UK Healthcare sector | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Codes of practice and guidance on confidentiality obligations of Medical Professionals to their patients clearly stipulate that the duty to share information can be as important as the duty to protect patient confidentiality, especially in connection with the provision of safe, complete and effective patient care. 

 

The General Medical Council has expressly stipulated that "the standards expected of doctors do not change because they are communicating through social media rather than face to face or through other traditional media.

 

However, social media does raise new circumstances to which the established principles apply.”  It must therefore be noted and appreciated that in the first instance and as a general rule of thumb, the standards and main principles stipulated by the General Medical Council in respect of confidentiality (‘Confidentiality: Good practice in handling patient information’ – January 2017 – in effect from 25 April 2017) shall apply to all Medical Professionals, including those intending to communicate via Social Media Messaging Server and for that fact any Mobile Messaging Services, including Medical Messaging Services.

 

(i) Any personal information held by or in the Medical Professional's control should be effectively and appropriately protected against improper access, disclosure and loss at all times;

(ii) The Medical Professional should develop and maintain an understanding of information governance that is appropriate to his/her responsibilities;

(iii) The Medical Professional should know what Patient Data handling he/she can and should be undertaking and help within the perimeters of the law;

(iv) The Medical Professional should share relevant information only for direct care except where the patient has expressly objected;

(v) Where appropriate, the Medical Professional should ask for and obtain explicit written consent to disclose patient personal data for purposes other than care or local clinical audits unless the disclosure is required by law or is in the public interest;

(vi) The Medical Professional should inform patients of any and all Patient Data disclosure he/she intends to make that they would not otherwise expect, keeping a record of the discussion to disclose, not to disclose and the information disclosed; and

(vii) The Medical Professional should respect and always provide assistance and help to parties wishing to exercise their legal rights to be informed of how their information is used and how to access copies of such information.

 

The overarching principles detailed above should always be considered and borne in mind by Medical Professionals seeking to maintain an appropriate balance between confidentiality and disclosure of Patient Data, both in the interest of the patient.

 

Click here to download the Free iOS or Android App - https://www.siilo.com/#download

 

 

A Medical Professional may disclose and share Patient Data over and above the rule on confidentiality where the following circumstances are established:

  1. Consent can be implied so as to ensure patient's care is maintained (such as Patient Data disclosure to persons involved in the treatment of the patient) or for a local clinical audit;

  2. Patient consent has been expressly granted;

  3. Disclosure and Patient Data sharing is of overall benefit to patients otherwise lacking capacity consent; or

  4. Disclosure is in the public interest.

The onus of ensuring any disclosure of Patient Data will not breach a patient's right to confidentiality vests with the Medical Professional disclosing such information, as it is this individual who has control over the confidential Patient Data to be transferred or data access to be granted to another Medical Professional.  The receiving Medical Professional will gain control over the confidential information following the sharing and disclosure of the Patient Data, albeit potentially as a Data Processor acting under the instruction of the disclosing Medical Professional. Clearly identifying the Data Controller during the data transfer and sharing process is important in that it further clarifies the responsibilities on the relevant Medical Professionals. 

 

Ultimately, Patient Data can be shared between Medical Professionals, including by way of a Mobile Messaging Service, provided the principles referenced above are followed and one of the permitted purposes for the disclosure and sharing of information taking priority over patient confidentiality applies.  

 

Where Medical Professionals can establish that it is in the relevant patient's interest for their medical information to be disclosed to other Medical Professionals, it is important that the Medical Professional establishes what, if any, express patient consent is required in connection with such disclosure.  In the first instance the Medical Professional must determine whether the receiving Medical Professional has an existing professional treatment relationship with the patient or not.  

 

This will ultimately determine whether patient consent is required for such disclosure and secondly whether the anonymisation of such Patient Data would be an inappropriate and potentially negligent act on the part of the Medical Professionals for not clearly identifying the patient that is being discussed when communicating within the medical team of the patient. This second aspect is emphasised in light of a widespread belief by the Medical Professional community that anonymising Patient Data is always the most appropriate way to utilise Social Media Messaging Services for work related purposes, where they don't want to risk breaching data protection laws and guidance thereto.

 

 

(This White Paper was produced to address the trending topic of the use of social media messaging within the UK healthcare sector, and has been written by Mishcon de Reya in collaboration with ‎Siilo, a leading secure messenger in Europe and UK.)

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HIPAA Compliance for Dental Practices on Social Media

HIPAA Compliance for Dental Practices on Social Media | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it
Being an expert on HIPAA compliance is part of the job as a dental professional. Whether you own your own practice, work part-time as a hygienist, or create dental marketing campaigns, it is your job to advocate for patients and protect their health information.

This has many dentists rightfully wondering how HIPAA fits into social media marketing. After all, posting patient photos and testimonials on social media has become a key strategy in growing dental practices.

Marketers may smile and clap, but most medical professionals shrink back as the HIPAA hairs on their necks start to rise.

The anxiety surrounding HIPAA violations on social media often keeps dentists from taking full advantage of social media marketing, but with around 80 percent of people in the U.S. on social media, this isn’t a sacrifice you want to make.

It all boils down to knowing the rules and constantly keeping them in check.

Though HIPAA compliance always takes time and training, implementing it on social media is actually easier than you might think.
HIPAA and Social Media — Where Are We Now?
HIPAA has been around for over 20 years, long before social media started dictating marketing campaigns.

The act works to prevent healthcare providers from using or sharing a patient’s protected health information (PHI) without consent. This includes a patient’s name, full face images, phone numbers, email addresses, and more.

For dental practices, HIPAA compliance traditionally meant managing paper files, encrypting ePHI data, and getting written consent for file transfers.

It is all about protecting patient information and identity, which can look very different on social media.

Posting a photo to Instagram, sending a Snap, or communicating through “private” messaging services like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp can seem harmless. However, without strict attention to HIPAA, one post can easily damage a career and put a patient at risk.

While there are no explicit rules regarding social media in HIPAA, the laws and protections still apply.

To help with the technological revolution, the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights has been working to provide some guidance to healthcare professionals about the HIPAA policies that relate to social media.

These rules are proving to be more than just preventative, as the number of cases of HIPAA violation on social media are on the rise.

A recent investigation found 35 nurses having committed HIPAA violations on social media, which resulted in disciplinary action, termination, and even some jail time.

Again, these violations are serious but simple to avoid with the right preparation and communication. Here are ways to guarantee your practice is HIPAA compliant on social media.

Ensuring HIPAA Compliance
Know what a HIPAA violation looks like on social media
HIPAA prohibits the sharing of any patient information on any social media platform. Be it private or public, quickly deleted or left up for weeks, any sharing of this info is a violation.

Even talking about patients in a private Facebook page or sending temporary pictures on Snapchat can constitute a HIPAA violation.

When discussing HIPAA compliance, it's important to go over specific violations with your team. Some common missteps on social media include:

Sharing images/videos of patients without written consent
Posting photos inside your practice without realizing a patient file is visible
Sharing images, videos, or information in a private social media group that may identify a particular patient
Posting information or gossip about patients, even if the patients is not named
Assuming posts are private, secure, or deleted when they are not

HIPAA violations cast a much wider net on social media than people might realize.

It's imperative that you go over each social media platform with an eye to potential HIPAA violations. This preventative education will help team members recognize any potential violations before they occur.
Create a written social media policy for your practice
Setting clear rules and expectations for your team is the next step in preventing costly violations.

Policies are important for marketing directors or your social media manager for obvious reasons. However, they should also be in place for team members who may never touch your Facebook page.

Any person who comes into contact with patient records or information should know exactly what they can and cannot do both during and after work hours.

Having a detailed written policy that is easy to reference is the best way to protect your team from HIPAA violations.
Provide social media HIPAA policy compliance training early and often
After creating your policies, get your team up to speed with social media training. If you have not already, include this specific training as part of HIPAA training for new hires.

Social media has become so ingrained in our daily lives that some employees may not even realize they're at risk for violating HIPAA.

Something as innocuous as snapping a photo of a team group with a patient file in the background could put them at risk of HIPAA violation.

Provide follow-up training at least once a year as a refresher. This gives you a chance to discuss new social media platforms, address any questions, and keep your team vigilant against violations.
Understand the severity of HIPAA policy violations
Just because a violation happens on social media does not make it any less consequential.

One famous case made news when a nurse posted an inappropriate photo of a patient that resulted in her termination, 30 days in jail, and a hefty fine.

When it comes to violations, HIPAA has four categories that range in levels of intention and ability to prevent the situation. Depending on severity, they can incur up to $50,000 per violation.

Going over these numbers and fines is not meant to threaten or scare your team away from social media. Instead, it will help bring to light the very real consequences of often unintentional mistakes.
Have a set procedure to get written consent from patients
Always get consent from patients before using their picture, a quote, or any individual identifiers on your social media accounts.

Since the most common violations involve posting photos or videos, it is a good idea to have several consent forms on hand for patients sign should you want to use their photo to promote your practice.

Even if it is a returning patient excited to take a photo, the written consent is always a must! Remember, this is to protect both the patient and the practice.
Tips for posting on social media

Look at every post through a HIPAA lens

Ask yourself whether or not a post could violate a patient’s privacy


Speak with your compliance officer to make sure all of your accounts are HIPAA complaint
Designate specific areas for social media photography in your practice

This will not only prevent unwanted information from sneaking into photos, but it will also likely increase the quality and consistency of the posts


Don’t engage with patients in comments or reviews who have disclosed personal health information
Don’t rely too heavily on patient photos or testimonials

Asking for constant consent to use one person’s photo can be fatiguing and hurt patient retention rates


Engage with patients by using non-promotional content that brings value to their day

Use branded graphics, blog posts, or fun dental-themed holidays to fill your social media calendar



While HIPAA compliance on social media should be taken seriously, it shouldn’t take you out of the social media game.

Social media is an incredible marketing tool that can elevate your practice at absolutely no cost to you.

Whether or not you decide to use patient images or videos in your dental marketing strategy, social media isn’t going anywhere.

As it continues to evolve under the umbrella of HIPAA, so should your practice by using these best practices.





Learn more about how RevenueWell improves case acceptance and creates more close-knit relationships between dentists and their patients.
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What Gen Z and Millennial patients look for in healthcare providers

What Gen Z and Millennial patients look for in healthcare providers | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

It’s no secret that Generation Z and Millennials are highly different from older generations, but you might not realize these differences extend to healthcare. One area this is becoming increasingly notable is young adults’ views on primary care physicians (PCPs).

Nearly half (45 percent) of 18-to 29-year-olds and 28 percent of those in the 30 to 49 age range do not have a PCP, according to research conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation as reported by The Washington Post. In contrast, only 18 percent of 50- to 64-year-old participants and just 12 percent of those age 65 and older do not have a dedicated PCP.

Regardless of specialty, ensuring your practice offers the accommodations younger patients seek out should be high priority. Read on to learn how you can grow your practice with younger patients.

5 things Gen Z and Millennials want from a healthcare practice

Virtual access

They grew up with technology at their fingertips, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Gen Z and Millennials expect it to be incorporated into their healthcare. An overwhelming number (92 percent) want full two-way electronic communication with their providers, and 83 percent look for a doctor who allows them to access all their patient information online, according to a 2017 survey conducted by Jefferson Health.

Features like patient portals and telehealth services are a huge draw for young adults. If you want to attract new patients from this demographic, it’s time to incorporate more technology into your practice.

Online scheduling

When the younger generation makes a healthcare appointment, they don’t want to pick up the phone. The vast majority (71 percent) of those who participated in the Jefferson Health survey expect providers to offer online scheduling.

Not just a convenience for patients, online scheduling benefits your practice, too, because it allows people to make appointments 24/7. If patients can easily book an appointment on their own time, instead of having to race to the phone during your office hours, they’re more likely to choose your practice.

Look: 4 online patient scheduling opportunities your practice is missing

Speed

When young adults are sick, they expect to see a doctor immediately. However, many practices don’t make this easy. The average wait time for new patients to see a doctor is about 24 days, according to a 2017 survey of 15 large metro markets conducted by physician recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins.

Making an appointment is only half the issue; the younger generation also has no interest in wasting time in your waiting room. However, 85 percent of patients reported waiting 10 to 30 minutes past their appointment to see their healthcare provider, according to a survey conducted by digital research and design firm Sequence.

If you want to grow your practice with Gen Z and Millennial patients, offer same-day appointments and strive to keep the wait time as low as possible.

Evening and weekend hours

Gen Z and Millennials are busy. During the day, their schedule is filled with work and school, so it’s hard to make time for a doctor appointment.

Offering evening and weekend hours is a savvy way to attract new patients, because young adults want a provider who fits their schedule. If you make appointments convenient, they are likely to choose you over your peers who close down shop in the afternoon or early evening hours.

Related: What private healthcare practices can learn from urgent care centers

Social media presence

Many young adults grew up with social media, so they rely heavily on popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Therefore, it’s not surprising that 65 percent want to discuss health-related topics and compare providers on social media sites, according to the Jefferson Health survey.

Some 88 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds and 78 percent of people ages 30 to 49 use at least one social media site, according to a 2018 survey conducted by Pew Research Center. If you want to get on their radar, you need a robust social media presence.

Millennials are expected to become America’s largest population in 2019, according to Pew, so it’s important to tailor your practice to meet their needs. If you’re able to provide the kind of service they seek, they’ll join your regular patient roster and recommend you to their friends.

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Facebook says there's a place on Instagram for pharma companies

Facebook says there's a place on Instagram for pharma companies | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Instagram might seem like a challenging environment for pharmaceutical companies but according to Facebook Health’s industry manager, there is ample opportunity for them to connect with patients through the app, which remains incredibly popular with younger consumers who are increasingly deleting the Facebook app.

At the Digital Pharma East conference in Philadelphia last month, Danielle Salowski told attendees:

“Now we feel that we’ve gotten to a point where we mastered Facebook, we want to talk about Instagram. This is now a place you need to pay attention to in order to reach patients at scale. [Instagram] is the intersection of amazing visual communication and the ability to share it with your friends and patients in a snap.”

Of course, Instagram presents numerous challenges for pharma marketers and there are a number of things they should take into consideration when developing Instagram campaigns.

Think visually and less formally

The highly visual nature of Instagram means that pharma marketers need to think creatively about how they can create image and video-based content that is more likely to resonate with Instagram’s younger user base.

As part of this, pharma marketers are wise to think about their tone. As Nancy Nolan, associate director of marketing communications at Merck, who appeared on stage with Facebook’s Salowski, explained, “When you think about pharma, we’re very formal in the way we speak and address patients, and it can be really standoffish. Millennials don’t like to be spoken to with that type of formality and tone.”

Monitor hashtags to identify virtual communities

 

Healthcare marketers should consider that they can tap into pseudo-communities that form around hashtags on Instagram. Facebook’s Salowski pointed to the hashtag, #migraine, pointing out that “there are a ton of posts just using #migraine, and [Instagram] is a place where patients come to connect, talk about their experience visually, and share with friends.”

By monitoring hashtags of interest, pharma marketers can identify opportunities to join the proverbial conversation, engaging patients and also, where appropriate, caretakers.

Consider teaming up with influencers

While influencer marketing on Instagram is most often the domain of fashion houses, beauty brands, and the like, with a little creativity, pharma marketers can also team up with popular Instagrammers to spread their messages.

Of course, choosing which messages to spread is critical. In many cases, pharma marketers are likely to find that unbranded campaigns aimed at driving awareness of conditions they offer treatments for are ideal for influencer campaigns. After all, by partnering with influencers who are in some way connected to those conditions, brands have an opportunity to foster emotional connections.

Don’t forget about healthcare professionals

While social marketing in many industries often focuses on consumers, pharma marketers shouldn’t overlook opportunities to reach healthcare professionals, including physicians, via social media.

As influencer marketing platform InNetwork noted, many healthcare professionals are active on social platforms today, where they have established themselves as trusted sources of healthcare information to both other healthcare professionals as well as consumers. As the company observed, “By partnering with a healthcare professional, you open the doors to both target audiences.”

Remember the rules

The rules that pharma marketers are required to adhere to don’t disappear simply because they might be slightly more inconvenient to comply with on social platforms.

A reminder of this fact came recently as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fired off a warning letter to pharma company Mannkind for failing to disclose the risks associated with Afrezza, its inhaled insulin drug, in content posted on its Facebook Page.

The letter was the result of a complaint made to the FDA Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) Bad Ad program, which allows third parties to report potentially problematic ads.

In its letter, the OPDP demanded that Mannkind remove non-compliant content, which the firm appears to have done. A failure to do so could have led to enforcement action, something no pharma marketer wants to have to deal with.

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Social Media Posts Can Predict Depression

Social Media Posts Can Predict Depression | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

In any given year, depression affects more than six percent of the adult population in the United States—some 16 million people—but fewer than half receive the treatment they need.

What if an algorithm could scan social media and point to linguistic red flags of the disease before a formal medical diagnosis had been made?

New research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,shows this is now more plausible than ever. Analyzing social media data shared by consenting users across the months leading up to a depression diagnosis, researchers from Stony Brook University and the University of Pennsylvania found their algorithm could accurately predict future depression. Indicators of the condition included mentions of hostility and loneliness, words like “tears” and “feelings,” and use of more first-person pronouns like “I” and “me.”

“What people write in social media and online captures an aspect of life that’s very hard in medicine and research to access otherwise. It’s a dimension that’s relatively untapped compared to biophysical markers of disease,” says H. Andrew Schwartz,Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, Stony Brook University and principal investigator of the World Well-Being Project. “Conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD, for example, you find more signals in the way people express themselves digitally.”

For six years, researchers in the World Well-Being Project (WWBP), based in Stony Brook’s Human Language Analysis Lab and UPenn’s Positive Psychology Center, have been studying how the words people use reflect their inner feelings and contentedness. In 2014, Johannes Eichstaedt, WWBP founding research scientist and a postdoctoral fellow at Penn, started to wonder whether it was possible for social media to predict mental health outcomes, particularly for depression.

“Social media data contain markers akin to the genome. With surprisingly similar methods to those used in genomics, we can comb social media data to find these markers,” Eichstaedt explains. “Depression appears to be something quite detectable in this way; it really changes people’s use of social media in a way that something like skin disease or diabetes doesn’t.”

Eichstaedt and Schwartz teamed up with colleagues Robert J. Smith, Raina Merchant,David Asch, and Lyle Ungar from the Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health for this study. Rather than do what previous studies had done—recruit participants who self-report their depression—the researchers identified data from people consenting to share Facebook statuses and electronic medical record information, then analyzed it using machine-learning techniques to distinguish those with a formal depression diagnosis.

Nearly 1,200 people consented to provide both digital archives. Of these, 114 people had a diagnosis of depression in their medical records. The researchers then matched every person with a diagnosis of depression with five who did not, to act as a control, for a total sample of 683 people (excluding one for insufficient words within status updates). The idea was to create as realistic a scenario as possible to train and test the researchers’ algorithm. 

“This is a really hard problem,” Eichstaedt says. “If 683 people present to the hospital and 15 percent of them are depressed, would our algorithm be able to predict which ones? If the algorithm says no one was depressed, it would be 85 percent accurate.”

To build the algorithm, Eichstaedt, Smith, and colleagues looked back at 524,292 Facebook updates from the years leading up to diagnosis for each individual with depression and for the same time span for the control. They determined the most frequently used words and phrases, then modeled 200 topics to suss out what they called “depression-associated language markers.” Finally, they compared in what manner and how frequently depressed versus control participants used such phrasing.

They learned that these markers comprised emotional, cognitive, and interpersonal processes such as hostility and loneliness, sadness and rumination, and could predict future depression as early as three months before first documentation of the illness in a medical record.

“There’s a perception that using social media is not good for one’s mental health, but it may turn out to be an important tool for diagnosing, monitoring, and eventually treating it,” Schwartz says. “Here, we’ve shown that it can be used with clinical records, a step toward improving mental health with social media.”

Eichstaedt sees long-term potential in using these data as a form of unobtrusive screening. “The hope is that one day, these screening systems can be integrated into systems of care,” he says. “This tool raises yellow flags; eventually the hope is that you could directly funnel people it identifies into scalable treatment modalities.”

Despite some limitations to the study, including a distinctive urban sample, and limitations in the field itself—not every depression diagnosis in a medical record meets the gold standard that structured clinical interviews provide, for example—the findings offer a potential new way to uncover and get help for those suffering from depression.

Social Media Posts Can Predict Depression was originally published on the Stony Book University website.

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Looking up patients online: Why it’s a bad idea | 

Looking up patients online: Why it’s a bad idea |  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Searching for someone on the Internet and viewing his or her social media profile is an effective way to obtain information about people, including patients. Following our patients’ “digital footprint” may help us understand the context of their lives, reconcile discrepancies in what they have told us, or allow us to confront denial and address incomplete reporting.1 However, perusing our patients’ online profiles could negatively impact treatment and adherence. Consider these factors before looking up your patients’ online profiles1-3:

Inaccurate information. Information on the Internet, especially what you can find on user-generated forums, is largely unregulated; as a result, the veracity of that information cannot be guaranteed.1 Patients may choose to portray themselves inaccurately on their online profiles, and their identities often cannot be confirmed. Even if some information is accurate, you might discover things that you did not expect to learn about your patients, including important information that they did not share, or even something they lied about. This can create the conundrums of what to do with such information and how to discuss it at the next visit.

Impact on treatment. Despite patients’ online activities being displayed for the world to see, many patients do not expect their clinicians to access their online information. They might perceive such perusal as a breach of trust, which might lead some to view the doctor–patient relationship as adversarial. Accessing this information also could create a more intimate relationship than intended. Even if a clinician acquires consent to perform a search, patients may still feel coerced into allowing it because they might feel that declining to grant permission would make the clinician suspect that they have something to hide, or that the clinician would search without consent.2

In addition, if patients are aware that their psychiatrists are monitoring them, they might change their behavior. For example, they may delete certain data, add additional information that may not be accurate, or censor future social media posts. Knowing that their clinicians could be paying attention to them around the clock also might motivate certain patients to act out more or become withdrawn.

Possible medicolegal repercussions. If clinicians are able to access their patients’ electronic profiles, are they then legally obligated to monitor them? For example, if a patient who posts a picture with a noose around his neck later completes suicide, does the clinician who intermittently monitored this patient’s online profile face legal ramifications for not seeing the post? Do clinicians have to call 911 for vaguely suicidal tweets? What responsibilities does a clinician have at the first sign of an innocuous “sad” emoji? The sheer volume of online content that patients can create over different outlets is staggering. It can be overwhelming and ineffective to attempt to monitor patients’ online activities in addition to attending to one’s usual clinical duties, and the medicolegal repercussions of doing so are largely unknown.

Before searching the Internet to learn more about your patients, first consider the ramifications of doing so. While such searches could be helpful, they may lead to poor adherence, a lack of trust, or legal quagmires.

 
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What is Patient Engagement? | 

What is Patient Engagement? |  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

THE FOUR PRINCIPLES OF PATIENT ENGAGEMENT

According to industry experts, there are four principles of patient engagement:

  • Willingness: Is the patient willing to be engaged in their own healthcare management?
  • Proactiveness: Is the patient willing to be proactive about their health care? Many people, especially older patients, might prefer to leave health care management to the professionals.
  • Adaptability: Is the patient willing and able to use computers or smartphones to interact with the practice during off hours?
  • Support: Is there enough support available to help the patient stay on track and be proactive about their health care?

Whether a patient is willing and able to be proactive about their health will depend on the patient, and will need to be assessed on an individual level. Not all patients are willing to take that responsibility or have the technical aptitude to access the tools provided to them.

IMPROVING PATIENT ENGAGEMENT CLOSE TO HOME

What can offices and staff do to improve patient engagement closer to home? There are quite a few tools that can be utilized, though some might take a substantial investment of time and money.

  • Provide and utilize patient portals: Portals give patients a way to keep track of their medical records and treatment. These portals can also be used to allow patients to pay their bills online, which saves practices time and money. Upwards of 60 percent of adults prefer to pay bills online, and offering online bill-pay can reduce the need for follow-ups.
  • Create and maintain a patient communication platform: Not every patient can afford to take the time to make a phone call or come into the office when they have a question, whether it’s about billing, medication or anything in between. Having an easily accessible and secure communications platform can help patients be more proactive about their health care by giving them the answers they need quickly and correctly.

These are just a few potential examples of ways to improve patient engagement in local offices. The exact implementation will vary from office to office to better cater to the needs of each patient.

Patient engagement is quickly becoming the future of medicine, largely by necessity, because patients are constantly connected via smartphones and the internet and want to be just as connected to their medical practitioners.

It’s up to professionals to choose the best way to engage with their patients.

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11 Things Health Leaders Need To Know About Social Media & Marketing

11 Things Health Leaders Need To Know About Social Media & Marketing | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Of the more than 7 billion people on Earth, the number of mobile phone users is approaching 5 billion devices, while toothbrush ownership is closer to 4 billion. Indicating that both marketing of technology and public health have great disparities, but also that leadership in health care are not executing on their brands, social media or marketing. But in the U.S., hospital identity and health branding are paramount for success in a community. By listening to patients, getting feedback on wants and needs, and creating new incentives to engage individuals, increased revenue, greater trust and improved health might be achieved.

Here are 11 surprising things to keep in mind when health care and hospital leadership plan marketing efforts for 2019:

    1. The brain processes visual data 60,000 times faster than text. Additionally, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Whether it’s growing your brand identity or improving medication adherence through instructions, visuals are a key to interacting with and empowering patients.
    2. Surprisingly, Grandparents love Twitter so much their presence on the platform doubled last year. They are also replacing young people who are choosing to leave Facebook. Not only does this indicate they are here to stay for some time, but they are a great place to target our aging population who consume a majority of our health care services.

 

    1. An estimated 31 billion eCoupons will be redeemed in 2019That means almost 60% of U.S. internet users have redeemed digital coupons or codes at least once. With so many new retail clinic and other hospital services that can use coupon-like strategies for patient cost-savings, this is a must in the new year.
    2. Voice search on devices like Alexa, Siri and Google Search already account for 20% of searches . Depending on the product or service in question, voice search via virtual assistant is certain to play an increasing role in consumer purchasing.

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  1. In 2017, it was estimated that 62% of emails were opened on a mobile device. Checking email is the top mobile activity among smartphone and tablet users. So be sure those emails are appealing and informative, as they’ll be consumed on the go.
  2. The number of devices connected to the Internet now exceeds the number of humans on earth. This means health companies and hospitals need to be intentional about marketing on multiple platforms and for many different devices.
  3. Social media influences 74% of shoppers final purchase decisions. Further, 90% of consumers indicate that they trust peer recommendations. Therefore, previous patients and reviews like those on Amazon are your greatest allies.
  4. Instagram has 500 million viewers every single day. And 71% of those are millennials. While plastic surgeons and fitness experts have driven the health trends on this platform, there is a significant opportunity to appeal to and educate the under 35 crowd as they begin making life-long health decisions.
  5. More than 78% of U.S. Internet users research products and services online, and every month, there are more than 10.3 billion Google searches. What your top hits say about your product, organization, or providers will influence your bottom line.
  6. Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing, and, per dollar spent generates about 3X as many leads. When creating a marketing strategy for particular service lines, services, or physician groups, think about exactly who needs to see that ad.
  7. 70% of people surveyed claim they would rather learn about a hospital or company through articles or reviews rather than direct advertisements. Therefore, not only are advertising campaigns important, but so are the patient experience testimonies, community reviews, and visual or print articles. It will pay to make sure your company is being written and talked about.

Nicole Fisher is the founder and CEO of HHR Strategies, a health care and human rights-focused advising firm. She is also a senior policy advisor on Capitol Hill and expert on health innovation, economics, technology, and reform - specifically as they impact vulnerable popul...

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How pharmacies can use social media to boost community engagement? 

How pharmacies can use social media to boost community engagement?  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Blueclaw marketing director Martin Calvert explains how pharmacies should use social media responsibly to improve their communication with patients

For pharmacies who are looking to increase their visibility and attract more patients, social media is a crucial and cost-effective starting point.

With so much noise from competing businesses on social media, it’s important to have a plan that takes into account patient interests and your promotional goals, focusing on the platform that suits you best.

Picking a platform

The right platform, or platforms, for you will depend on your internal resources. If you operate a medium-sized chain of pharmacies and employ a marketing team, then it’s straightforward to make social media part of their remit.

However, for a single-pharmacy contractor facing the daily demands of the business, it can be easy to fall behind on social media. Building visibility online requires consistency. Sticking with one platform that you know you can contribute to regularly makes more sense than tackling several with half measures.

Focus on the ones that give you the greatest reach with patients in your area – usually that means Facebook and/or Twitter, but it really depends. Where are your patients on social media? How do they like to communicate, and what are the topics they will respond to, even when they do not have an ailment?

Here is one example from an independent pharmacy on Facebook:

Although you may wish to build your social presence to become more visible in the profession or add your voice to debates (where LinkedIn may be the platform of choice), for many the primary goal will be to attract and engage new patients.

Responsible communications

The responsibility of pharmacists in communities extends to social media. Whoever is posting on behalf of your company has to be aware of your company policies, as well as the need to remain professional at all times.

When patients are exploring their symptoms, many will look to social media for answers. Although the instinct to give helpful advice can be strong, it’s important not to give specific medical advice or compromise confidentiality.

This is because encouraging patients to visit a pharmacy or GP surgery, where they can receive face-to-face treatment, is the best response.

However, giving general advice and providing useful, actionable information is a great way to provide insight without getting into personal diagnosis. Being a neutral source of sound information is great practice.

An example from Day Lewis on Twitter:

Social media can help you to be more visible than other pharmacies online. When there is a choice of stores, some independent, some part of larger chains, as well as the online-only options, it’s important to give patients a reason to choose yours.

It’s worth keeping this in mind when you or your staff may be tempted to be less-than-professional – don’t respond to negative comments with negativity or get involved in emotional debates.

When patients have so much choice, it’s the conversational tone and approachable personality evident from local pharmacies that can make a difference when it comes to who they choose to trust with their health.

Don’t overdo the promotions

When it comes to promoting your brand, it’s important to tread a fine line between communicating your plus points and being too ‘salesy’. Ultimately, we want the public to view pharmacists as trusted clinicians. Being overly promotional can jeopardise that.

Plan your social content in line with seasonal trends and topics such as the flu jab, pre-holiday preparations and so on. This keeps it relevant and commercial without overstepping the mark.

A tweet from an independent pharmacy on medical news:

Think about paying to push ads

If you have the budget, social advertising can be extremely effective to reach your ideal audiences. Facebook and Twitter have many options for ad targeting or promotion of your posts.

For example, on Facebook you could target patients with children who are less than five miles from your location in order to promote a visit to the pharmacy – if you abide by its advertising regulations.

Checking your progress

You can check the reach of your posts with insights on a Facebook business page or the analytics section of your Twitter account.

But the greatest success is to be able to attribute new patients to your social media activity. An easy way to find out if this is happening is to ask new patients a friendly question on how they found your pharmacy.

Nevertheless, though measuring the commercial impact of activity and advertising certainly helps focus strategy, for many pharmacists, just being part of the online conversation is rewarding enough.

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The Power of Social Media in Medicine and Medical Education: Opportunities, Risks, and Rewards –

The Power of Social Media in Medicine and Medical Education: Opportunities, Risks, and Rewards – | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Earlier this year I contributed to a paper published in the journal, Clinical Chemistry, which explored the use of social media in medicine and medical education. You can read the full paper here –  it’s Open Access (yay!).

Both personal and professional use of social media by medical professionals is increasing. Some medical specialties have quickly adopted and embraced social media, particularly in the fields of family medicine, pediatrics, and emergency medicine.  Emergency and critical care medicine have embraced social media under the free open-access medical education (#FOAMEd) movement that seeks to share knowledge as widely as possible and for free. (Fun fact! The term FOAM was coined in June 2012 in a pub in Dublin, over a pint of Guinness).

Extracted highlights from the paper

Shannon Haymond, Professor of Pathology, sees social media as “a way to stay up to
date on rapidly changing fields and to connect with a diverse set of people who share your interests. This is particularly true for finding those interested in your area
of expertise but from a completely different perspective.”

I continually use social media to find and save ideas for improving the content and delivery of my lectures and educational sessions – Shannon Haymond

In response to the question of barriers to the adoption of social media among medical professionals, Haymond points to lack of time to tackle a steep learning  curve and notes “people are not sure of the value or level of professionalism (i.e., they assume it is all about pop culture and celebrity feuds) and  may be apprehensive to put their opinions out into the public conversation.”

Emergency medicine consultant, Professor Simon Carley considers that emergency medicine has adopted social media at a much faster pace than most specialties “owing to the ability of social media to engage individuals across the breadth of our specialty, despite the chronological and geographical challenges that typify our practice.”

I am more up to date than my peers who do not engage. I am a better physician as a result, and I truly believe that my patients receive better care because of this. Professionally I find it intellectually satisfying, as I am forced to constantly learn and reflect on my current practice. It has created opportunities to join research and educational groups across the globe with interactions through #FOAMed, leading to journal publications and numerous invitations to speak at national and international conferences. My personal learning network of experts is no longer limited to those in my department or hospital, and I regularly learn from those in other countries and health economies – Simon Carley

Although Carley thinks there still exists “a big gap between awareness and involvement”, clinical educator, Jonathan Sherbino, MD says “the novelty of social media as an emerging phenomenon is being replaced with lines of inquiry that take advantage of the principles of social media: open access, interconnectivity, asynchronous dialog, and crowdsourcing.”

We are now at a tipping point from the early adopters to the early majority, largely a function of a generational shift with early career educators promoting and modeling the professional use of social media – Jonathan Sherbino

Sherbino, an avid user of Twitter,  believes social media “allows an individual to participate in a richer community.”  He uses Twitter “as an aggregator to condense numerous online conversations relevant to health professions education into a single stream. He also says  he pays ” more attention to superusers (individuals or organizations with a personally vetted record of high-quality information) than any member within my network.”

Michael Berkwits, editor at The JAMA and JAMA Network also points to social media’s curatorial capabilities.

“Social media allows publishers to distribute information to readers in the workflow and spaces they are already using. With innumerable options, most people direct-access only a handful of website homepages and instead use social media platforms as a way to curate “tables of contents” of people, interests, and sources they want to keep up with – Michael Berkwits

Carley uses personal learning networks, curation sites, and apps to help him track and collate useful content.

I have developed a personal learning network of individuals who collate and curate special interest areas. You cannot follow everyone, so find and follow the high return, high-quality individuals or sites that filter content for you. I also follow sites that act as clearing houses for social media content, which create a weekly digest and e-mail it to your inbox – Simon Carley

Social media is an important mechanism for communicating about science with the public. As Haymond points out, “Despite the tremendous benefits, including free access and wide distribution of information, the quality of online scientific information
is variable.”

Stephen Smith, Professor of Emergency Medicine, is firm that medical professionals should be more discriminating about what they choose to post online.

Because there is so much information, we should try to limit what we post to only those things that are both important and accurate, to the best of our knowledge. We should not be posting things for our own ego, to be able to say how many followers one has, or how many posts one has put up – Stephen Smith

When it comes to risks, Sherbino points to trolling, Smith to patient identification, and Haymond to the risk of posting misleading or inaccurate information. Carley considers that the “risks are overstated.”

The only difference is that social media shares your views with a wider audience. If you act inappropriately and unprofessional in real life, then more people will know it. Similarly, if you are a diligent clinician, researcher, and academic, then more people will find out – Simon Carley

The future of social media in medicine

Social media is changing the ways that patients interact with healthcare providers and the healthcare system. It is increasingly common for patients to use information technology to gain access to information and control their own healthcare.  Increased access to the Internet and mobile communication will bring public health information to many more people, more quickly and directly than at any time in history. Social media will widen access to those who may not easily access health information via traditional methods, such as younger people, ethnic minorities, and lower socioeconomic groups.

Social media is also changing the face of medical education. Sherbino goes so far as to state, “No longer are the giants of the field identified by their textbooks, citation rates, or leadership roles; rather, my residents and fellows are influenced by the scope of an educator’s social media brand.”

Carley quotes Rob Rogers, “we will change from those who give out knowledge to those who coordinate it. Social media will develop us all into “learning choreographers.”

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Social media for skilled-nursing facilities: Here’s what you need to know

Social media for skilled-nursing facilities: Here’s what you need to know | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

For any business, crafting a social-media strategy can be initimidating. That may be especially true for skilled-nursing facilities (SNFs). Declining censuses and vigilant consumers have raised the stakes for anyone hoping to manage an SNF’s online reputation. A social-media slip-up can easily become a costly mistake.

In light of that, it may be tempting to avoid engaging in social media altogether. Why risk alienating consumers?

Renee Pruzansky, CEO of AristaCare Health Services, pointed out that this avoidance would be a mistake. “If your community’s not on top of social media, your competitors will be, and your organization will fall behind,” she said. Renee understands, though, why some communities might hesitate. “The fear comes from a lack of control,” she said. “If you don’t know what to do with social media, it’s scary. That’s why I tell people to take as much control as they can. Don’t create anxiety—create a strategy. Failing to use social media means missing out on a lot of opportunity.”

All of this is just a small sampling of the social-media secrets that Renee shared in our webinar. Any SNF leader will find a lot more value in her entire presentation.

If you want to watch it, you still have time. Just click here and you can view the whole webinar, including a Q&A session with SNF leaders from around the country.

 

In a recent webinar for NRC Health, Renee taught SNF leaders how to build a social-media strategy that works. Here are some highlights.

New Age Consumerism

First, Renee explained how important it is for SNF leaders to embrace transparency. “It’s New Age Consumerism,” she said. “That means we’re in a direct-to-consumer era. People don’t think that applies to healthcare, but healthcare has become a direct-to-consumer industry.”

Consumers are approaching healthcare in the same way they might approach other purchasing choices. They’re not content to just accept what they hear; they’re proactive about performing research themselves. And what’s the first thing that consumers want to see when they’re conducting that research? Ratings.

“I call it the ‘ratings mindset,’” Renee said. “Ratings are the first thing people see when they look for providers, the place where their eyes naturally go. For example, on Amazon, I’m not going to buy anything under four stars. Similarly, why should I put someone in my family in a low-rated facility? When we’re talking about transparency online, that’s what we mean.”

It’s not just performance

SNFs, then, should focus on getting those online ratings as high as possible. Giving residents a great experience is a crucial and key component, but Renee pointed out that improving service isn’t enough.

“Remember: it’s not just about performance,” she said. “It’s about perception of performance. It’s the perception that’s going to help your online reputation the most.”

She cited one of AristaCare’s communities as an example. “A year ago, one of our facilities had a two-star rating on Google, and that’s not because we were a bad facility!” she explained. “It’s because we didn’t have that control over our online reputation.”

By planning and executing on an effective social-media strategy (including making use of NRC Health’s Transparency Solutions), Renee and her team were able to bolster AristaCare’s numbers from a 2.7 average Google rating to a 4.1 average—in under a few months.

How to get started

But how exactly did AristaCare do it? What should the day-to-day work of social-media management look like? While Renee believes this will vary between communities, she did have some suggestions for where to start.

“First, you have to have a social-media team,” she said. She recommended having a few Millennial-aged employees take on the tasks of publishing updates to social-media profiles, or else bringing on interns from local universities. “Make sure they’re meeting regularly, generating those positive care stories,” she added.

She doesn’t believe, however, that efforts should stop there. For a social-media strategy to take off, the entire workplace has to get behind a new culture of transparency. “Communication is key,” she said. “You have to build this network of messaging to get the word out there. The good news is that this doesn’t have to break the bank. You can make smart use of the resources you already have.”

This means shifting ad spending away from print and toward digital, as well as encouraging staff to talk to residents about the kinds of care experiences they’re having. These can be invaluable fodder for social-media updates and reviews.

Specific platforms

With new stories on hand and a team dedicated to telling them, SNF leaders should then turn their attention to the major social-media spaces. Renee shared her thoughts on each of them.

Google

“Ninety-two percent of people Google a facility before making a decision,” she said. “But getting a positive rating on Google is the most difficult, cumbersome part of social-media management. It takes a monumental amount of effort and time.”

This is where she says NRC Health’s services were the most helpful. “With NRC’s help, we were able to put up ratings from our own website, and have those juxtaposed against Google’s ratings when people search for us,” she said. “That was a game changer for us.”

Facebook

Renee believes that the importance of Facebook can’t be overstated. “Facebook dominates the caregiver and senior sector of social media,” she said. “This is a dated statistic, but last I read, 40% of all Facebook users are 55+. That’s the target market for senior care.”

She recommended that Facebook be the first place SNFs direct their ad spending, as well as the bulk of their social-media management work. “It’s a great place to take control of your identity and give people a flavor for what you’re offering in your community,” she said.

As a bonus, she noted that Facebook also happens to be the easiest place for seniors to place reviews, so it’s a good idea to have engaging Facebook classes as part of your regular activity schedule—and to remind residents to leave a comment if they’ve had an experience they enjoyed.

LinkedIn

In Renee’s opinion, LinkedIn is an underappreciated avenue for reputation management. “Not everyone thinks of it,” she said. “But transparency is 360 degrees! You can’t ignore any angle.”

Aside from what potential residents might see, LinkedIn also proves to be a valuable means of professional association. “It’s crucial for maximizing referral source exposure, building that goodwill with other providers in the community,” she said.

Instagram/Twitter/others

These last social-media services skew toward a younger audience. Renee believes that, for now, that makes them slightly less valuable for SNFs. “For our space, these shouldn’t be the priority,” she said. “That said, be open to what your local community needs. The activity on some of these other networks could surprise you.”

A parting note

Finally, Renee observed that, in the end, all these efforts amount to giving current and future SNF residents what they’re asking for and deserve.

“It’s time to redefine customer service,” she said. “The world has transformed. Transparency has been the catalyst to a sharper focus on customer needs, and this includes family members as well.”

The future, she said, will reward organizations that can “get their heads out of the old culture, stay open, and embrace something new.”

To get to that level of openness, a coherent social-media strategy and focus will carry SNFs a long way.

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Social Medicine: The Effect of Social Media on the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Social Medicine: The Effect of Social Media on the Anti-Vaccine Movement | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Social media—the use of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to communicate and share content—has made our world feel smaller and more connected. However, these technologies also have made it easier create, consume, and share unverified, anecdotal information posing as facts.

The anti-vaccine movement has proliferated over recent years, in part because of its most vocal proponents using social media to churn out often misleading information.

The Rise of the Anti-Vax Movement

Perhaps one of the most successful public health interventions in history, the advent of vaccines has led to the global eradication of smallpox, the nearly global eradication of polio, and a drastic decrease in the morbidity and mortality associated with other infectious diseases.1 As a result, many parents are unaware of the threats that these infectious diseases posed for previous generations, and as such, may believe that vaccinations are no longer necessary for their children.

 

Vaccination refusal has increased in the United States in the last decade, and many other countries have also recorded substantial proportions of parents expressing concerns about the safety of vaccines.2 While health officials maintain that routine childhood vaccines are safe and effective, many parents in developed countries still hesitate to have them administered to their children. Worldwide, 13% of parents decide to forgo vaccinating their children, including 17% of parents in the World Health Organization's European region.3

Although access to health care is an important factor influencing vaccine coverage rates, vaccination refusal also directly affects these rates and is a significant contributor to outbreaks of some infectious diseases—particularly in regions where vaccination refusal is geographically clustered and population immunity is compromised.2 This is exemplified in that outbreaks of pertussis and measles are known to spread through populations where rates of vaccination refusal are high.2

Vaccine hesitancy is a decision-making process that is dependent on trust in healthcare providers and mainstream medicine, among other variables. However, through the combination of homophily—a theory that asserts individuals tend to form connections with others who are similar to them in characteristics such as socioeconomic status, values, beliefs, or attitudes—and the convenience of social media, individuals who have anti-vaccine beliefs can consume information that adheres to their system of beliefs and ignore dissenting information.4

Many members of the medical and scientific communities believe that vaccine hesitancy is a major threat to global health, and since 2013, the World Economic Forum has listed digital misinformation among the main threats to our society.4 Social media platforms have created a direct path for users to produce and consume content, reshaping the way people receive information. Anti-vaccination rhetoric has become part of the mainstream dialogue regarding childhood vaccination, and social media is often employed to foster online spaces that strengthen and popularize anti-vaccination theories.

Despite having been disproved multiple times, perhaps the most popular anti-vaccine theory is that the mumps-measles-rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism. Mandatory vaccination policies only seem to fuel the controversy. A 2014 study5 sought to test the effectiveness of messages designed to reduce vaccine misperceptions and increase MMR vaccination rates. During the study, 1759 parents in the United States age >18 years with children age ­<17 and younger were surveyed. Participants were randomly assigned to a control group or received 1 of 4 interventions:

  • Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explaining the lack of evidence that MMR causes autism,
  • Textual information from the Vaccine Information Statement about the dangers of the diseases prevented by MMR,
  • Images of children who have diseases prevented by the MMR vaccine, or
  • A dramatic narrative from the CDC about an infant who almost died from measles

None of the interventions increased a parent's desire to vaccinate a child. While disproving claims of an MMR-autism link reduced misconceptions that vaccines cause autism, intent to vaccinate their children was decreased in parents who had the least positive attitudes toward vaccination. In addition, images of sick children increased belief in a vaccine-autism link, while the measles narrative increased beliefs in vaccine side effects.

Conspiracy theories have become endemic among anti-vaccination groups. These sentiments have been compounded in recent years by decreased trust in the institutions that manufacture or distribute vaccines.1

The effect of vaccination refusal on public health is particularly challenging when misinformation is disseminated through social media. Thought influencers in the anti-vaccine movement include doctors, celebrities, community organizers, and “mommy bloggers” who collectively speak to an audience of about 7 million Facebook followers.1 The potential for disseminating harmful health-related information through social media seems to be at an all-time high.

Echo Chambers, Structural Oppression, and Conspiracy Theories

Social media echo chambers—where users only hear and see information that echoes their own beliefs—further energize the anti-vaccine movement. Clusters of users with opposing views rarely interact with one another, leaving little room for constructive debate. A 2017 study4 analyzed the interaction of 2.6 million Facebook users over 7 years and 5 months. This study's authors found that the consumption of content about vaccines is dominated by the echo chamber effect, and polarization increased over the years. Online users selected information adhering to their belief systems, tended to ignore dissenting information, and joined polarized groups that reinforced that shared narrative, according to the study. These segregated communities emerged directly from users' consumption habits, which may explain why social media campaigns that provide accurate information have limited reach.

Vaccine refusal has also been promoted on Twitter. A study2 found that Twitter users who were more often exposed to negative opinions about the safety and value of human papillomavirus(HPV) vaccines were more likely to tweet negative opinions than users who were more often exposed to neutral or positive information. These tweets, which included misinformation, anecdotes, and opinions that may result in vaccine hesitancy or refusal, made up the majority of HPV vaccine-related information exposures for nearly 30% of users that tweeted about HPV vaccines during the study period. In addition, users expressing negative opinions about HPV vaccines were more closely connected to other users expressing the same opinions.

Further, anti-vaccine conversations often center around moral outrage and structural oppression by institutional government and the media, suggesting a strong logic of “conspiracy-style” beliefs and thinking.6 Although anti-vaccination networks on Facebook are global in scope, sub-network activity appears to be “small world”.6 This polarization isn't just limited to conspiracy theories, but all issues perceived as critical by users, including geopolitics and health.4

 

 

Overcoming the Anti-Vax Digital Divide

For the pro-vaccine movement, strategies still exist for sharing information effectively. Vaccine hesitancy and refusal are complex social issues that require interventions at the individual, provider, healthcare system, and national levels. There are ways to leverage social media to reinforce positive sentiments about the value of vaccination:

  • Ongoing surveillance of opinions about vaccination on social media can complement surveys and other monitoring methods to improve the reach of and response to public health communication strategies.2
  • To research ways to counter anti-vaccination thinking, public health professionals should understand the content of anti-vaccination echo chambers through passive involvement in those groups.4
  • Delayed vaccination can signal a need for more information, presenting an opportunity to increase education for this group.1

Social media, while fertile ground for activity for anti-vaccine activists, also can provide a platform for understanding the motivations behind vaccine hesitancy and refusal. The casual nature of social media has altered the doctor-patient interaction—and profoundly changed the way information is disseminated. Empowering experts and health officials to participate in discussions on social media about vaccination is critical to bridging the vaccination information gap.

The public's reliance on social media for vital information has and will continue to increase, and its influence on personal decision-making regarding health. The immediacy and informal nature of social media gives thought leaders a marked advantage in communicating with and influencing the public. In an era when more than 2.3 billion people in 232 countries are active on social media,7 the public health community can correct misinformation by establishing its own social media communities and leveraging established channels to provide facts about the safety and value of vaccines.

References

  1. Stein RA. The golden age of anti-vaccine conspiracies [published online December 5, 2017]. Germs. doi: 10.18683/germs.2017.1122
  2. Dunn AG, Leask J, Zhou X, Mandl KD, Coiera E. Associations Between Exposure to and Expression of Negative Opinions About Human Papillomavirus Vaccines on Social Media: An Observational Study [published online  June 10, 2015]. J Med Internet Res. doi: 10.2196/jmir.4343
  3. Orr D, Baram-Tsabari A. Science and Politics in the Polio Vaccination Debate on Facebook: A Mixed-Methods Approach to Public Engagement in a Science-Based Dialogue [published online March 30, 2018] J Microbiol Biol Educ. doi: 10.1128/jmbe.v19i1.1500
  4. Schmidt AL, Zollo F, Scala A, Betsch C, Quattrociocchi W. Polarization of the vaccination debate on Facebook [published online June 14, 2018]. Vaccine. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.05.040
  5. Nyhan B, Reifler J, Richey S, Freed GL. Effective Messages in Vaccine Promotion: A Randomized Trial Pediatrics. 2014;133(4).
  6. Smith N, Graham T. Mapping the anti-vaccination movement on Facebook [published online December 27, 2017]. Information, Communication & Society. doi: 10.1080/1369118X.2017.1418406
  7. Gu Z, Badger P, Su J, Zhang E, Li X, Zhang L. A vaccine crisis in the era of social media[published online August 11, 2017]. Natl Sci Rev. 2017;5(1):8-10 doi: 10.1093/nsr/nwx098
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The Impact and Use of Social Media in Pharmacovigilance

The Impact and Use of Social Media in Pharmacovigilance | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Pharmacovigilance (PV) has evolved and grown more complex over the past 5 to 10 years due to increasing data volumes, evolving regulations, influence of emerging markets and the emerging social media and innovative technological advances. Digital media is now used by biopharmaceutical companies for communication with patients to create awareness about diseases and treatments, clinical trial enrollments and patient support programs. It presents new channels and methods that can enable companies to move away from traditional PV systems and safety reporting methods towards more patient-centric models for reporting, analyzing and monitoring of safety data.

Key Pharmacovigilance Considerations When Using Digital Media

Biopharmaceutical companies operating in the social media space have a responsibility to document and follow-up on any potential adverse event (AE) reports communicated through these forums in compliance with the applicable regulatory guidance. Most of the regulatory guidance and hence PV activities involving social media and internet are primarily focused around screening of social media sites and follow-up of reported safety data. Additional specific guidance is required to confirm validity of safety data obtained via social media (within the norms of data privacy), protocols to guide further retrieval, analysis and integration of such data with other standard safety data (obtained from standard PV sources) along with effective use of social media for risk management and communication.

Companies rely on multiple AE reporting channels such as email correspondences, company websites and physician hotline resources. There are now multiple sites and applications to capture patient and consumer AE reports on computers and smartphones. Companies are now actively engaged to identify and understand the value drivers for adopting a comprehensive PV social media strategy, which encompasses proactively creating social media platforms to solicit/capture AE data, rather than monitoring and reporting what comes in passively on existing company sites, and further examine the successes and challenges of the different types of social media platforms being used. Social media data offers some advantages over traditional AE reporting data or data mined from health and reimbursement records. Social reports are rapid, closer to real-time data (occurring in close proximity to the event) and potentially richer sources than reports filtered through HCPs. Social media is a promising source for new safety data and potential emergent safety signals. Yet, it is important to keep in mind that this data is essentially unstructured and obtained via uncontrolled and ungoverned processes in a non-regulated environment and is neither driven by data quality standards nor by specific business area orientation. At the same time, it is vital to carefully verify safety data obtained via social media for confirmation of the “identifiability” of both reporter and patient, address related data privacy issues and verify accuracy of reported safety data in lieu of potential bias introduced by the “reporter population”.

Pharmacovigilance Challenges and Solutions with Digital Media

Social media monitoring has become a standard practice in PV. Overcoming various social media hurdles for validation and consolidation of incoming data poses a great challenge, requiring the concerted efforts of PV teams. At the same time, careful evaluation and assessment of the use of social media as a PV tool needs to be constantly revisited; both in terms of meaningfulness and impact on outcomes. Understanding regulatory guidelines, current state and future considerations for use of social media in PV, possible areas of influence and expected challenges are critical, along with potential solutions and next steps. To learn more about future impact and potential areas to leverage social media in PV read this whitepaper.

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How Can a Doctor Get Started with Digital Marketing?

How Can a Doctor Get Started with Digital Marketing? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

In the modern age of technology and increased digitization, marketing best practices have made an innovative turn. To keep up with these constant changes, businesses have had to alter their strategic approach to enhance their consumer base and rise above the competition. Medical professionals are no different in depending on cutting-edge online marketing techniques to develop their practices. If you are a doctor interested in using digital marketing to grow your practice, but you have no idea where to start, you are not alone. Here at Crystal Clear Digital Marketing, we aim to multiply your patient base by leaps and bounds by wielding sharp SEO strategies, using effective email marketing practices, and offering blogging, social media, and content creation, among other services. With nearly twenty years in the digital marketing business and a multitude of satisfied clients served, we consider it a privilege to use our expertise to meet your diverse needs.

What is Digital Marketing?

Nowadays, having an online presence is the only way to comprehensively and effectively build your business. With this being the case, the competition is steep. Digital marketing, in its simplest form, is the act of marketing a business, product, or service online. It exists to connect a specific consumer base with individuals or businesses who can meet their needs.

Primary Types and Techniques 
Digital marketing encompasses a host of marketing techniques, including digital advertising, social media management, specials, email marketing, and more. Any online medium that markets and enhances a brand or business falls under this online marketing sphere of influence.

If you are a doctor interested in growing your medical practice, there are key digital marketing methods you should know about. The first is search engine optimization, known as SEO for short. This is the process of using keywords or key phrases on your website, blog, or other digital mediums to increase your ranking when consumers conduct relevant searches online. The higher your page appears in those search results, the more likely it is the searcher will be drawn to your website and services.

Another important type of relevant digital marketing type if you are a doctor trying to grow your practice is content marketing. This involves the creation of content through articles, blog posts, and infographics to enhance your brand, increase website traffic, and grow your patient base.

The social media sphere is more important than ever for achieving optimal marketing results as users constantly flip and click through various pages at an impressive rate per day. An effective social media marketing strategy for a doctor’s practice will include platforms like Facebook and Twitter to increase web traffic and form new patient leads.

The pay-per-click method, known as PPC for short, is the act of increasing your website visits by paying for advertising placement. You can pay to be ranked at a certain spot in search engine results, which will increase your likelihood of getting clicks to your website and growing your patient base.

If you are a doctor, email marketing is a fantastic way to grow your practice with promotional materials, blog posts, newsletters, and patient introductory emails, to name some examples. Our seasoned professionals are adept in using each of these techniques and more to create an effective combination that succeeds and exceeds expectations.

How Can Digital Marketing Help Grow My Practice?

Now that you have an initial understanding of online marketing itself, it is important for you as a doctor to recognize how it can help grow your practice in a concrete, effective way. It cannot be stressed enough how important SEO is to enhance your patient base.

Most people conduct online searches for doctors or practices before choosing one to book an appointment with. There are countless other doctors and practices out there, many of which might offer the same services that you do.

This is where the impressive impact of SEO in digital marketing comes into play. By correctly optimizing the keywords on your website, your page will rank much higher in a potential patient’s relevant search results, increasing the likelihood of you getting an appointment booked. Your website, blog, and other web presences must have a combination of adequate phraseology, programming structure, link usage, and created content to incorporate SEO effectively.

Immediate Results for Long-Term Gains 
The power of digital marketing for a doctor trying to grow his or her practice is found in the results, both short-term and long-term. In the immediate sense, techniques like email marketing and content creation will quickly drive patients to your website. This can lead to long-lasting patient relationships and grow your business considerably.

The fluid nature of digital marketing allows you to plan for the future. Techniques like SEO reap greater results in the long-run but are wholly effective and crucial to growing your practice. Our experts use a combination of these methods, meaning you should see fast results leading to long-terms gains, driving patient relationships for years to come.

Enhance Your Social Media Presence
One of the first digital marketing strategies you need to grow your practice is to enhance your social media presence. Social media is one of the greatest influencers of the digital age, and it is not going anywhere. If you do not have a following, you will need to grow one. If you already have a following, this must be nurtured and developed.

The patients of today mostly use the internet to decide which physician to choose. Social media is a key way to capitalize on this, not only by having relevant posts, but also by sharing articles and interesting medical tips, just to name a few examples.

Manage Your Web Listings
If you are a doctor seeking to grow your practice through digital marketing, you must have solid, verified Google listings regarding the business and practitioner. This is imperative as it ensures patients can contact you with ease and verify your presence online. You must have all relevant listings and directories verified and accurate to avoid having a sporadic web presence.

Reviews are Key 
Never underestimate the power of reviews. As a doctor trying to grow your practice, your ability to do so depends on the outcomes you provide for patients. An efficient digital marketing strategy uses reviews from mediums like Google and Facebook to grow your patient base and increase awareness of your practice. There is nothing like varied, positive reviews from past and current patients to drive a hesitant potential patient to pick up the phone and make an appointment.

The Power of a Professional Website
In order for your practice to grow, you must have a professional website that offers value to online visitors and is aesthetically appealing. It should include everything from testimonials and key questions and answers to photos and information regarding your office. A mediocre website will appear dated and unappealing and do little for you as a doctor to gain new patients.

Optimize Keyword Usage
We have already discussed the importance of SEO, but it is worth noting briefly again. You will not receive website visits and as a result, gain new patients, if your web pages do not use the proper keywords. No one will find your practice if it is ranked low on the search results. Your website needs to be updated consistently with content and keywords to continue to increase consumer traffic and keep those appointments coming.

Influence Through Email Marketing 
Undoubtedly, email marketing is one of the most effective and long-lasting digital marketing techniques if you are trying to grow your practice. It is a great way to stay in touch with past and current patients, send out appointment reminders, and keep patients up-to-date on any new information.

Emails could include regular newsletters, links to blog posts, and medical tips. This keeps your practice on a patient’s mind while providing them with something of interest.

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Social media project results in 13% more breast screenings

Social media project results in 13% more breast screenings | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

An NHS project using social media to improve health by boosting digital inclusion has led to a 13 per cent increase in first time attendances for breast screenings in Stoke-on-Trent over four years. 

The local initiative saw information about screening posted on Facebook community groups, which empowered and enabled women to make appointments by reducing their anxiety around breast examinations. It also allowed them to communicate quickly and easily with health practitioners to ask questions about the screening process.

This project is part of NHS Digital’s Widening Digital Participation Programme, which is commissioned by NHS England and aims to make digital health services and information accessible to everyone – particularly the most excluded people in society.

Twenty digital inclusion pathfinders are being run across the country in partnership with the charity Good Things Foundation to test new ways to help people access digital tools to improve their health.

Nationally, attendances for breast screening are in decline and most recent figures, from 2016-17, show the proportion of eligible women taking up breast screenings in England fell to its lowest rate in 10 years.

In the last financial year, 7,938 women in Stoke-on-Trent either didn’t attend their breast screening appointment or opted out of going – meaning around 65 cases of potential breast cancer were not detected.

Through this project, the North Midlands Breast Screening Service promoted their Facebook page on local community groups which their target group – women aged over 50 – regularly visited.

The screening team posted information such as patients explaining about how the process of breast screenings work and how it has affected them, and videos showing the rooms where it takes place. Posts were designed to encourage women to share them and so spread the message about the benefits and importance of breast screenings.

The service’s Facebook page also answered questions in the group and by direct messaging, enabling women to book appointments more easily.

Data on attendances for first time appointments at the North Midlands Breast Screening Service shows they increased by an average of 12.9 per cent between three-year screening cycles from 2014 to 2018.

 

Gina Newman, Health Improvement Practitioner at the North Midlands Breast Screening Service, said:

“This is a fantastic idea and the community aspect of the group is so powerful that we now have 1,138 followers.

“We have seen an increase in the number of ladies who have booked and attended their appointments, who might not have done otherwise. It’s great to see the members supporting one another through their own journeys and sharing the page further with their family and friends.”

Pete Nuckley, Service Delivery Manager at Good Things Foundation, said: “It’s been fantastic to see the increase in attendance rates across the Stoke pathfinder area.

“It shows that being able to receive quality information about breast screenings and ask questions makes the whole process more human – and that’s key to engaging patients in their own healthcare.”

Juliet Bauer, Chief Digital Officer at NHS England, said: “The Stoke project is an example of how digital channels can be used to communicate with patients, providing local advice and answer key concerns.

“This work is part of the NHS’s wider commitment to digitally transform the way we work with all of our patients, improving the information we provide and empowering the public to take charge of their own health and care.”

A Facebook spokesperson said: “Our mission is to give people the power to build community and we are thrilled that Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group has been able to use Facebook to drive awareness of such a vitally important issue.”

Case study

Pam Lowe was prompted to go for breast screening thanks to the Facebook project.

“I’d had a call for my regular screening and fully intended to go,” said the 58-year-old.

“In the end, for one reason or another I missed the date.”

Then Pam saw a post in a Facebook group about the village where she lives promoting a visit by the mobile breast screening unit.

“I contacted them via Facebook Messenger and Gina Newman replied and told me it had moved on from my area, but she could sort me out with an appointment at the hospital instead. That was how I started the process and I made sure to see it through.”

She underwent the screening, which came back clear, and she has since encouraged her friends to use the service.

“I spend quite a lot of time on my iPad and on Facebook, which made it so convenient for me.

“Because of my positive experience, I share the page on Facebook and friends of mine have shared it too.

“It’s just a brilliant way to do it. I’ve told colleagues and friends alike to just go for it.”

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