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The Social Side of Medicine: Using Instagram to Build the Physician-Patient Relationship 

The Social Side of Medicine: Using Instagram to Build the Physician-Patient Relationship  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Do you remember the last time you met a new doctor? Chances are, they were little more than a stranger whose job you knew was to help you feel better. If you found yourself feeling this way, you are not alone. Studies have found that the majority of primary care physicians spend 16 minutes or less with their patients during an appointment. In this time, a doctor has to communicate with the patient, determine a diagnosis, a course of treatment, and whether next steps such as additional testing are necessary. This leaves little time for trust and rapport building.

In a 2000 study published by the National Institutes of Health, researchers wrote, “trust is a defining element in any interpersonal relationship, but is particularly central to the patient-physician relationship.” The same study posited that the more trust patients have in their health care providers, the more willing they may be to follow their doctor’s orders. Even so, clinicians aren’t in a position to create more time in a day, and this is where new methods for trust-building, or at least a look behind the proverbial medical curtain may prove useful. Enter Instagram.

In June of 2018, it was estimated that approximately 105 million people in the United States used Instagram. Unsurprisingly, this number includes countless medical professionals. As social media has become a more active part of peoples’ lives, health care systems have embraced it. At Penn, FacebookTwitterInstagramand LinkedIn are leveraged to communicate FDA approvals, strategies for tackling common issues like a lack of sleep, and communicating new ways to deliver care.

“When I joined Penn in September of 2018, I started working with communications and marketing teams within the health system to think about ways to educate the public about what I do every day, particularly outside of seeing patients,” recalls Sonal Mayekar, MD, a radiation oncologist at Penn Radiation Oncology Doylestown. It was out of this conversation that the idea of hosting a day-long Instagram “takeover” – in which Mayekar would post directly to Penn Medicine’s Instagram account – began to take root.

 

For Mayekar, who was studying at Carnegie Mellon University when Facebook first opened up to college students nationwide, an Instagram takeover felt like a natural way to shed light on a typical day for her, while representing her generation of clinicians. “I grew up with dial-up internet, when email and instant messaging were new and everyone was trying to figure it all out. Social media wasn’t there. After instant messaging came Facebook, and that was exciting. I feel like this was the first generation to take hold of social media in college, and I continued to grow with it. I’ve been keeping up with it.”

An important component of the Instagram takeover was the blending of the various personal and professional parts of Mayekar’s day. Mayekar’s first posts told the story of her morning, which involve waking up a 5:30 a.m., making coffee, and grabbing a pair of her favorite shoes (or winter boots) before heading to Doylestown. From there, Mayekar used Instagram to tell the story of her day as radiation oncologist, including an explanation of how her day is divided between meeting with patients, reviewing notes, simulations, and more coffee. This unique perspective is something patients rarely get the chance to witness, but Mayekar believes even small glimpses of the personal side of medicine can make a big difference in how patients relate to their physicians.

“When I’m walking up to the consult room to see my patients, I’m the only female physician in our department, so there’s always a smile when they see my shoes, and they usually make a comment like, ‘I heard you coming down the hall, I knew it was going to be you,’ and I get a positive reaction from them.”

Beyond using the Instagram takeover to share the personal side of her medicine, Mayekar took the opportunity to educate users on the variety of tools she uses in patient care. One such tool, a linear accelerator – commonly used for external radiation therapy – presented a great opportunity for a video explanation.

“I think one of the most important things is showing people the tools I work with. It wasn’t until I took an elective in radiation oncology that I even knew what a linear accelerator looks like or what it does. Understanding that it’s not a tube, that it’s open around you, I think is important for a lot of patients and families to know.”

 

Indeed, presenting this information to the public means greater awareness of what treatment for a cancer diagnosis might look like. And that awareness can alleviate uncertainty and build more trust among patients and the physicians treating them. It’s for this reason that, while time-consuming, Mayekar believes programs like the Instagram takeover hold real value for medical professionals.

“I would encourage others to do this. It was very time consuming, but I wanted to keep it a mix of clinical and behind the scenes type of stuff. I think in the fields of radiation and of surgery, a physician is kind of in a black hole, where a patient doesn’t really know what we’re doing until we come out of the operating room, or we tell them what the treatment plan looks like.”

Beyond the benefits for patients, Mayekar received a very warm reception from her peers.

“What I found surprising was that I had a lot of people reach out to me who were either in medical school or in premed who really appreciated what it looks like to be an attending.”

Ultimately, when patients can see clinicians as partners in their health, they can feel more at ease and realize a greater level of familiarity in some of life’s most trying times. Mayekar believes that these are the types of results an Instagram takeover can cultivate.

“It’s about communicating mindfulness. Showing that I’m eating healthy, taking time to go to the gym. Part of being a good doctor is taking care of yourself. For me it’s about more than a cure, it’s about healing patients, both physically and emotionally.” And that’s the type of healing that takes trust.

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

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

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

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How To Use Twitter To Find A Treasure Trove Of Real Patient Voices

How To Use Twitter To Find A Treasure Trove Of Real Patient Voices | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Thousands of patients spend time on Twitter talking about their cancer, or diabetes, or psoriasis, or almost any diagnosis you can imagine. As a reporter, you can find patients to interview while absorbing valuable background here. You can find an individual to be the face of your story, or sharpen your perspective on a chronic disease by reading about the experiences of dozens of patients living with it. These insights can change the questions you ask and the direction of your reporting.

 

Where patients linger

Think of a middle school cafeteria at lunch. Students clump together by interest. One table is people who play Fortnite, another is theater folks, and another is football players. The same thing happens on Twitter. Dozens of weekly live chats happen around health. Many are organized by a diagnosis, such as breast cancer. If you know the right hashtag, you can find knowledgeable patient leaders and followers talking about newsworthy topics. To extend the metaphor, you can sit down at the table with a crowd of people talking about your story topic. One of the most well-known of these tags is #bcsm, which stands for breast cancer social media.

Begin your search at the Healthcare Hashtag Project at a website called Symplur. Symplur is a for-profit company that sells information about social media analytics, but maintains some free data, including the hashtag project.

Search for a disease to see the tags related to it. Once you settle on one, you will see individual “names” or Twitter handles, sorted mathematically to show the most influential first. 

In many cases, live chats have leaders who set the agenda and moderate as people comment. These leaders are often people who have been dedicated to advocacy in a specific disease for a decade or more. One of the leaders of the #bcsm chat is patient Alicia Staley, for example.

 

On Symplur, you can also download a free transcript of chats from a designated time period. 

Because Twitter posts are public, a reporter may “quote” someone’s tweets. Publications handle this in different ways. Sometimes the tweet is embedded into your story and appears just as it does on the platform. Other times you can excerpt a quote just as if you had overheard it. Your editors or publication will have a style guideline for this. 

Ways to start a dialogue

Social media platforms inspire people to be strangely intimate with details of illness. I’ve read things exchanged by patients that I would hesitate to quote. For example, comments might cover sexual health, or the response of partners and children to grief. As a check, you can repeat something back to that person and ask: “Can I use this in a story I’m writing?”

Here are a few ways to contact people on Twitter if you don’t have their emails: 1) Write a direct message or DM to them. Some people have their account configured so DM is open. Others don’t accept DMs unless they come from someone they follow. 2) Reply to their post by posting, “I’m Nancy Smith from X Magazine, and could I talk to you about this comment? Write me at info[at]magazine.com, please.” 3) Post openly that you’re reporting about a topic and invite anyone to write you at a specific email, or by DMs directly on Twitter. Be sure to include the relevant hashtags in your tweet to reach your target audiences. 4) Patients might have contact information in their bio on Twitter, so their email might be discoverable.

If you fear that patients talking with each other are always whining and possibly sharing less-than-credible medical advice, know that #bcsm chats frequently include very astute patients and physicians and researchers too. One #bcsm moderator is Dr. Deanna Attai, a UCLA surgeon and past president of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. I’ve seen chats where detailed clinical research protocols are discussed, digested, and risks and benefits debated.

Keep in mind that patients can have conflicts of interest, just like physicians and institutions can. Ask a patient if they receive any financial support from pharmaceutical companies, for example. Some might accept travel grant money to attend research conferences, and this might not make them less credible in your interview, but it is important to know and report. A 2018 report by Kaiser Health News detailed how patient advocacy groups, not individual patients, received millions from the drug industry.

Reporters should treat patient sources just as they do others — trying to verify that the person knows their territory. You can investigate the expertise of patient sources in several ways. Find examples of what the patient says about him or herself at any blog or bio that is posted. Find evidence that a patient has spoken in public before for credible organizations. If you are quoting the patient to tell you how it feels to have rheumatoid arthritis, of course, they are credible on their own experience. But if you are quoting them criticizing diagnosis or financial issues, you may want to hold them to a different standard.

Patient conversations open a window to the everyday lives of people with chronic conditions, and can improve your reporting by grounding your stories in the struggles of real people. For myself, this window opened most dramatically in 2015. I was online watching while thousands of patients and doctors commented live during the broadcast of the PBS series “Cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies.” Some cried, some posted that they had to stop watching because of painful memories, and others found this historical look at cancer research inspiring. I used those tweets to write 

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Five Ways to Simplify your Social Media Strategy

Five Ways to Simplify your Social Media Strategy | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Utilizing Social media in your healthcare business is an opportune way to reach new, potential clients and engage with the patients you already have. But when you run a busy medical practice, sidetracking staff from their daily responsibilities to focus on social media can be overwhelming. Here are five ways to simplify your social media strategy to help relieve your team and keep your patients happy.

Know your platforms.

Not all platforms are created equal and before you dive in, it is important that you recognize this. Do your research ahead of time to save yourself time during the process. It’s important to understand the audience and overall purpose of each platform. Each unique audience has its own expectations for what it wants to see. Videos tend to work better on Facebook, while LinkedIn is a place to find industry-related content. When planning out your healthcare social media strategy, keep in mind that you don’t have to manage a profile on every platform. Use the data you gather about each audience and pick the ones that benefit your practice the most.

Be active with automation.

Setting up a profile on a social network is the first step, but it is only a small one in the grand scheme of things. Make sure you are consistently active in your social media strategy. Plan to post between five and seven days a week on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. If you find that one of these platforms isn’t working for you, there is no need to keep wasting time. Eliminate that network and focus more time on one that works. Once you have your schedule planned, save yourself some time and use social media automation. Plan your social media posts well in advance and schedule them to publish at a later date and time. There are online tools available that let you schedule, track and manage each of your social platforms all in one space. You can monitor what patients are saying and respond almost instantly. Automation helps save time, maintain consistent content and target your audience.

Content is key.

Healthcare content has now evolved to include blogs, articles, videos, podcasts, photos, interactive pieces and more. There’s so much good content at your fingertips so keep this in mind as you put together your strategy. Remember to consider each network’s audience when posting certain types of content, and mix it up periodically. Don’t get stuck posting the same generic content on Facebook every day, your content and your business will quickly become stale with your followers. Post an engaging video with one of the doctors, share a trending link, followed by an in-house written piece. Sharing exciting content will not only keep your audience engaged, but it will help develop a positive online reputation for your organization. Knowing what will work for your practice ahead of time will save a lot of time and energy during the process.

Avoid disasters before they happen.

In a bustling medical practice, the last thing you want to do is waste time dealing with a social media disaster. When building out social media profiles, best practices apply across the board. Your social media marketing strategy should center on your practice’s business profiles, not your personal profiles. You may also consider adding a privacy notice in the about section of your social profiles explaining that patient healthcare is confidential and that your practice respects your patients’ right to privacy. No matter where you are publishing online content, you must always adhere to HIPAA. This includes getting releases before posting patient names, stories, images or videos.

Maximize your efforts.

Getting your healthcare social media strategy into motion is a great first step, but paid advertising helps you get more bang for your buck. Combining paid with organic social media posts allows you to specifically target your ideal demographic. Approach every paid post similarly to any paid marketing campaign; with a strict budget and a strong strategy.

The best medical practices on social media are dedicated to educating their audience, providing engaging content and building a reputation as a credible source. To succeed and maximize your time and efforts, it’s essential that the process is simple and you plan ahead. Be sure to share any of your social media tips on our Facebook page!

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Recruitment in online research for COPD: leveraging social media and research registries

Recruitment in online research for COPD: leveraging social media and research registries | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

An international priority is to engage patients at-risk of or living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in online research and self-management programmes to establish evidence for their efficacy and obtain patient perspectives about healthcare [1]. Participatory social media and electronic research registries pose opportunities for stakeholders to readily access this patient population [24]. Despite increased access, patients with COPD continue to report limited willingness to participate in online disease-specific programmes and studies [5]. Recruitment is a science; it is a systematic and strategic process that is dependent on the values and needs of an intended audience. Identifying recruitment strategies, including message design, modality and timing, that are salient to an audience is critical to this process [6]. Social media and research registries are networks to reach patients with COPD for research and practice [7]; however, strategies to optimise their use for recruitment are less well known.

Combined use of online and offline methods alongside reminder notifications is recommended to optimise enrolment [8]. Pre-notifications inform individuals about an upcoming study, cognitively preparing them for the formal invitation and the opportunity make an informed decision about participation [9]. Pre-notification messages enhance enrolment rates in health survey research among adults over the age of 45 years [10]; however, inconsistent evidence exists for the efficacy of survey pre-notifications delivered by mail or email [1112]. Despite widespread adoption of the Internet, patients with COPD are older and experience sporadic negative health events that influence their frequency of using online media to access recruitment messages [13]. Examining the efficacy of online and offline pre-notification messages that are salient to the priority audience is crucial to identify effective recruitment procedures.

In this report, we provide evidence for the efficacy of social media and research registry recruitment procedures for online COPD survey research. We examined if enrolment rates to an online survey differ across these two networks. We also examined how personalised pre-notifications co-created by patients and delivered to research registry members, by email or mail, can influence enrolment rates. Special attention was paid to examining enrolment differences by socio-geo-demographics and the degree of respiratory symptom severity. Ethical approval for all study procedures were approved by the lead researchers' Institutional Review Board at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, USA.

Upon completing an informed consent form, 10 patients with COPD belonging to a community-engaged research programme co-created the recruitment message with the lead researcher. Informants were mean±sd 64.40±16.35 years old, Caucasian (60%) or African American (40%), and college educated (60%) but earning USD 20 000 per year or less (80%). The message was initially drafted by the lead researcher and independently revised and edited by these informants through an iterative process. The procedure was guided by principles of message design in health research recruitment [14], which include elements of completeness (i.e. is the study purpose and participation process clear?), relevance (i.e. does the message draw your attention?) and credibility (i.e. is the message source perceived as trustworthy and of high quality?).

Participants were recruited for 1 week in April 2018. The 20-min survey included an electronic informed consent, followed by sociodemographics, including age and self-reported rurality (1=urban; 5=rural), and measures to assess COPD-related information seeking experiences, attitudes and beliefs. The presence of four respiratory symptoms (dyspnoea, cough, chest congestion and fatigue) was also measured (1=strongly disagree; 5=strongly agree) [15].

A National Institutes of Health-funded university-based research registry was used to identify 2100 eligible patients who were assigned a J40–J47 (minus J45) ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision) code in their electronic health record, were at least 40 years old and had an email address on file. An equal number of participants were randomly assigned to one of three pre-notification groups: 1) an email message (n=700); 2) a United States Postal Service (USPS) mail letter with survey link (n=700); and 3) control (n=700). Email “bounce-backs” were reassigned to a pre-notification group using random simple sample procedures. Pre-notifications were delivered 3 days before the official email invitation. Reminder emails were delivered 3 days and 1 week after the official invitation. Among those invited, 436 (20.76%) attempted the survey. Of those who attempted, 283 (64.91%) completed at least half the survey.

The recruitment message and survey link were posted on a research listing webpage hosted by a university medical research centre. Language from the co-created pre-notification message was echoed in the social media content. Unsolicited public users shared the webpage on Facebook COPD groups. Of the 332 who attempted the survey, 292 (88.25%) completed half of the survey items in consideration for subsequent analyses.

Table 1 presents the sociodemographic characteristics of 575 participants recruited through social media and the research registry. Chi-squared analyses were computed to detect statistically significant (p<0.05) differences between social media and registry respondents. Compared with the social media group, research registry participants were more likely to be older females with less severe respiratory symptoms who identified with rural culture and reside in a rural region. Research registry participants were also retired, earning USD 0–24 999 per year, with health insurance and a history of marriage. Sociodemographics were nearly balanced across research registry pre-notification groups. Participants who received a pre-notification message were more likely to complete the survey than participants who did not receive a pre-notification (77.7% and 22.3%, respectively), χ2 (1, n=283)=283, p<0.001. In regard to the type of pre-notification, USPS mail pre-notifications were superior to email pre-notifications (65.6% and 61.3%, respectively), χ2 (1, n=283)=113.85, p<0.001.

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How Social Media Usage Affects Doctor To Patient Relationships

How Social Media Usage Affects Doctor To Patient Relationships | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Social media has made a significant impact on every aspect of our lives. Healthcare is no exception. The increasing usage of social networks among both practitioners and patients has proven to cast a positive impact on the overall healthcare quality.

Specifically, social media largely contributes to how we choose our healthcare providers. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, 41% of patients said that social media content impacted their choice of hospital or physician.

 

Another massive study conducted at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, indicates that social media has even a stronger impact on doctor-patient relationships. After analyzing over 1,700 articles, researches identified that the patients' use cases of social media can be grouped into six categories:

  • Emotional
  • Informational
  • Esteem
  • Network Support
  • Social Comparison
  • Emotional Expression

Each of these use cases presents different effects on patients and, at the same time, affect their relationship with the healthcare provider in the following manner.

 

Social media usage leads to more equal communication between doctors and patients

Social media has become a popular tool for patients to expand their knowledge about their condition and treatment options. For example, 29% of patients peruse social media to view other patients’ experience with their disease and 42% browse social media platforms to discover health-related consumer reviews according to PwC.

By increasing their knowledge, patients come more prepared to the consultations, according to Nu Image Medical. They can communicate with their doctor better and know what kind of questions to ask. According to Kevin Meuret, CEO of Mantality Health, “Social media usage makes patients more inclined to actively communicate with their doctor during the medical consults in the first place. Growing conversations on social media about  ‘stigmatized’ conditions such as low testosterone levels or psoriasis send a powerful message to other sufferers and encourage their willingness to seek medical attention.”

For instance, the Psoriasis Association has launched a massive awareness campaign on Instagram, encouraging users to share images of their condition using #getyourskinout and #psoriasiscommunity. Dominic Urmston, digital communications officer at the charity, explained that “Users can find people who share similar experiences who they can chat to and support one another. Also, it empowers them so they can share images of their psoriasis and post about their experiences too”. As a result, the condition becomes less stigmatized and more people are encouraged to weigh in on various treatment options and speak about them with their healthcare providers.

 

Social media contributes to increased switching of doctors

On a less bright note, social media can contribute to the patient’s likelihood to change their provider multiple times; 44% of users look up information about doctors or other health professionals before scheduling a visit. Patients now pay more attention to negative reactions shared by other users. And can choose to switch doctors after participating in an online discussion with another patient. Social media reviews have had the most effect on provider choice for patients who are coping with a chronic disease, try to manage their diet or stress.

Social media helps develop more harmonious doctor-patient relationships

“Social media often empowers patients to follow physician's recommendations and stick with the proposed treatment plan, especially if they become part of a social media support group,” said James Bayliss, CEO of Vaper Empire. “This, in turn, creates less tension between the doctor and the patient during clinical interactions.”

Additionally, social media often provides patients with space to "vent" their negative emotions and frustrations with the condition, instead of doing so in front of the doctor.

However, the research further identified a missed opportunity – patients tend to rarely empower one another to seek alternative treatments if their current one doesn’t bring the results they want.

Social media content can result in suboptimal interactions between doctors and patients

Social media and online publishers have given us accesses to an enormous amount of scattered health information. Millennials, in particular, are more inclined to follow online health advice and rely on information shared by their peers, instead of scheduling necessary appointments with specialists.

“When patients bring social media content to consultation, along with their strong opinions on the matter, healthcare professionals are forced to spend time on sorting and verifying that information,” said Dali Dugan, CEO of HealthworxCBD. “As a result, they feel that their expertise is being challenged and that can impact their behavior with the patient during the session. Negative reactions from the doctor can affect the patient’s subjective well being, making them feel disempowered.”

And those professionals, who are willing to take an extra mile for their patient and look through the information, face an increased risk of making the wrong judgment by being presented incomplete or questionable data from unverified sources.

The bottom line is this: as a patient you should treat information sourced online with extra judgment. While it can be helpful to increase your overall understanding of the condition and guide you towards asking the right questions from your practitioner, it should not be treated as the ultimate source of truth or leveraged to question the doctor's expertise.

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Language on Social Media Reveals Concerns of Patients with Ovarian Cancer

Language on Social Media Reveals Concerns of Patients with Ovarian Cancer | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

The language used on social media can reveal important clues about the perspectives, values, and needs of patients and caregivers affected by ovarian cancer, and a recent study of this data should be the first of many, according to a research team whose results were presented at the ONS 44th Annual Congress.

In the first study of its kind, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of British Columbia used a machine learning approach to analyze the language on social media as a means of understanding the concerns of this population so that better interventions can be developed for them and research can be focused on their greatest needs. The approach aims to supplement survey questionnaires and interviews as ways to gather this information, said lead author Young Ji Lee, PhD, MS, RN, assistant professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She called the method especially relevant at a time when patient-generated health information is increasingly informing care.

The researchers analyzed the initial postings of nearly 855 patients and caregivers who commented in the Cancer Survivors Network online peer-support forum between 2006 and 2016. They applied machine learning, using simple natural language-processing techniques, to build a computational model that decided whether each posting fell into 1 or more of 12 categories. The categories, identified through a review of existing studies in the literature, included physical, psychological/emotional, family-related, social, interpersonal/intimacy, practical, daily living, spiritual/existential, health information, patient-clinician communication, cognitive needs, and miscellaneous.

The model used bag-of-words (BOW) features, considering each word in a posting for its potential in classifying needs. The researchers identified important features for each need category using mathematical analysis and performance metrics.

They found that the most frequently occurring needs across postings were health information (n = 456), social (n = 307), psychological/emotional (n = 141), and physical (n = 109). Of all the postings, 39% described both information and social needs. Physical, psychological, health, and social needs were identified most accurately by the model.

Less frequently occurring categories were miscellaneous (n = 74), family-related (n = 53), practical (n = 35), patient-clinician communication (n = 19), interpersonal/intimacy (n = 14), spiritual/existential (n = 10), daily living (n = 5), and cognitive (n = 4). In particular, “we need to develop strategies that accurately predict spiritual needs,” Lee said.

Of all the postings, 38% described multiple needs, and of those, 40% described social and informational needs together.

Words describing psychological states, such as “anger” and “anxiety,” were important features for the classification of psychological/emotional and social needs, and medical terms, such as “endoscopy” and “colonoscopy,” were predictive that a post would focus on physical and informational needs.

The authors concluded that even simple programs for word analysis can detect patient and caregiver needs with a high degree of accuracy, and that the same exercises can predict multiple needs at once. That makes this kind of query a valuable way for clinicians to understand patients, they found.

“Our results suggest the potential of using multiple language features and classification methods to develop a more sophisticated model,” they stated. “Our future work involves exploring other language features (e.g., groups of words clustered by using topic modeling techniques, taxonomies, etc.).”

Reference:
Lee YJ, Jang H, Campbell G, et al. Identifying language features associated with needs of ovarian cancer patients and caregivers using social media. Presented at: Oncology Nursing Society 44thAnnual Conference; Anaheim, California; April 11-14, 2019. Abstract 5674.
 

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7 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR HOSPITAL A SOCIAL MEDIA STAR

7 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR HOSPITAL A SOCIAL MEDIA STAR | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Featuring your state-of-the-art technology in your healthcare marketing is essential to educating your potential patients, but featuring your staff in your hospital social media campaign is a sure bet to making your hospital a social media star.

Let’s face it, healthcare consumers are interested in technology and evidence-based techniques, but it’s the stellar care they receive from your staff that they’ll remember the most from their hospital stay. A caring nurse, a jovial custodian—that’s what will get them recommending you to family and friends, and what will make them choose you again and again. People connect with people, whether in person or online. So it’s unsurprising that hospital staff stories make for some of the most popular medical social posts. Here are seven ways to feature your staff on social media.

Caregiver takeover.

For people who have never worked in the medical field, what goes on inside a hospital day to day is fascinating. Enlist staff from various departments to participate in day-in-the-life social takeover. Follow an ER doctor, maternity nurse, or radiologist around for a day and post a mix of text, photos, and live video of their tasks. Just be sure to obtain consents if you include any patients or visitors, or shoot around them (and be sure to not use last names in the audio).

Q&As.

The more you can position your staff as experts, the better. Q&As are an easy way to do that, and you have options when it comes to execution. You could have staff weigh in on health-related questions that you come up with, solicit questions from your social media followers or, if you’re feeling daring, schedule and promote a live Q&A session with a provider. Just make sure you select an appropriate expert who will offer useful yet measured responses and understands how to take a patient-specific question and answer in a general manner. And always be sure that you are in control of the session and social media channels.

Patient thank-you’s.

There’s no better endorsement of your staff than positive feedback from your patients. Post excerpts from online reviews, discharge surveys, and letters from patients calling out the special care they received during their stay. Don’t forget to include a photo of the staff member being praised. (And be sure to obtain permission to post.)

Health tips.

People love health tips. Get your staff to submit their best snippets of advice to you for posting. Remind them to be specific: Readers know they need to “exercise regularly,” but they may not have thought to do a squat each time they unload a plate from the dishwasher.

New staff introductions.

This is a super simple way to highlight your staff’s expertise and brag about your hospital’s top talent. Wait until you have a photo and a couple of personal details to share. (It’s not imperative you post this on day one or even during the staff member’s first week, although your administration may make it seem that way.)

Giving back.

Healthcare workers are philanthropists at heart and many of them volunteer their time outside of work. Highlight what good people you employ with photos and descriptions of their volunteer efforts. Hint: This is especially effective for community hospitals when they show staff volunteering in the community.

How-to videos.

Capitalize on the DIY craze by creating videos featuring staff showing how to do something health-related. It could be anything from how to wrap an injured ankle or perform the Heimlich maneuver to how to make banana pancakes or do a proper push-up. Use your imagination, or ask staff for input on what they’d like to share with your followers. If staff create their own posts or videos, just make sure they submit them to you for posting.

 

TotalCom is a full-service hospital marketing and advertising agency that believes in getting great results from telling great stories. Contact us for more information and see what stories we can tell for you.

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Digital Marketing Best Practices for Physical Therapy

Digital Marketing Best Practices for Physical Therapy | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Websites, social media, Google AdWords, SEO…the list of online marketing buzzwords seems to keep growing. How can a practice owner stay on top of it all and manage a busy physical therapy clinic? Let’s tackle digital marketing for PT practices one step at a time and soon you will have a standout online presence that generates additional revenue for your business.

First, you need an accurate understanding of digital marketing and its many components.

 

5 Types of Digital Marketing

1) Website

website is a grouping of web pages containing text, images, and data. These pages share the same primary URL (www.ABCphysicaltherapy.com).

A website is the most important digital marketing asset as it helps to promote your practice, provides contact information, and gives online credibility. But, there’s more to a website than just having one. A typical website can give patients basic information about your practice, but that’s only 50% of a website’s job.

With the right features, your website could be performing marketing tasks automatically including:

  • Sending data to Google to improve SEO
  • Building lists of potential patients by gathering emails
  • Gathering appointment requests for your front desk 24/7
  • Answering basic questions automatically with a ChatBots (then gathering the lead’s information for human follow-up)
  • And more!

 

2) Social Media

Social media is any online platform that supports the sharing of text, images, and media.

Popular social media platforms are FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn. By creating an account or profile on these platforms, you can engage with potential clients and drive traffic (visitors, page views etc.) to your website.

“Organic” social media refers to posting, liking, commenting, and interacting with your business’s page. “Paid Social” is utilizing Facebook’s Advertising tools to get your content to more people whether they follow you or not.

 

3) Search Engine Optimization or SEO

Search Engine Optimization increases traffic to a website through a search engine or organic searching.

For example, web pages and websites contain page titles, keywords, and meta descriptions that help to increase searchability for that content – how well your site gets found.

When someone types “physical therapy in Richmond, VA,” the search results are populated based on the websites’ SEO rank which is assigned by Google.

Pro Tip: Don’t just focus on where you appear for “physical therapy.” Try typing “back pain” or “knee pain help” and see what comes up – if you rank here, people will find you who didn’t know they needed therapy.

 

4) Search Engine Marketing or SEM

While SEO can take time to get results, search engine marketing can be started instantly. SEMincreases traffic to a website through paid campaigns that increase the site’s visibility to search engines.

For example, when searching in Google, you typically see the first 2-3 results with an “Ad” icon. These are paid campaigns that promote specific websites before those in the organic search listings.

And finally #5! Email marketing…

 

5) Email Marketing

Email marketing is sending promotional, engagement-based emails to a list of active subscribers who have granted permission to receive promotional contact from you. (For this purpose, we aren’t talking about “transactional emails” which discuss your patients’ bills or appointment times.)

The goal of email marketing in a PT practice is to encourage people on your list to schedule an appointment. Most practices have some experience with this, in fact, it is where many first start with digital marketing. That’s because despite having decreased over the last decade, it still works and still keeps you at the top of your past patients’ minds.

Email lists naturally reduce over time as people unsubscribe or change their address – so it is important to focus on growing your list by offering ebooks and workshop signups on your website.

Digital Marketing Best Practices & Planning

First, does your practice have a website? Many will answer, “Yes!” Next, is your website current? An updated website ensures that all the information is correct. Additionally, it should have a professional, modern design. Can the site be easily updated or does it take days or weeks for a simple change?

Also, are you utilizing SEO best practices? Lastly, how does your website look on a mobile device or smartphone? You might not know all the answers to these questions. But, that is OK!

Let’s learn about digital marketing best practices for these areas:

Website Design

website design is critical. The site needs to be visual cohesive and be the best possible representation of your practice to online audiences.

    • Logo: is your logo prominently placed throughout the site? Are your brand’s colors utilized throughout the pages?
    • Images: are the photos high-quality? A picture is worth 1,000 words. Your images should be either professionally photographed and/or purchased stock photography. Properly size your images to avoid pixelation and should scale appropriately on mobile devices.
    • Layout: are your page’s easy to scan? Most viewers will scan a page to find the content that appeals to them. By carefully laying out the page and its content, you can control what marketing messages viewers see.
    • Digital Marketing Tools: Does your site include tools to grow your email list, SEO, and even gather appointment requests automatically? Think of your website as an employee – if it’s not getting results, give it more tools or get a new one.
    • Analytics: Does your website have tracking so you know what works and what doesn’t? These are the top 5 metrics your practice should be tracking to help you grow.

 

Website Content

Your website needs to be informative, accurate, and compelling. If the design is the lettuce, tomato, and onion, the content is the burger—full of “meat” that gives the viewer something to “chew on”. Here are the features we always include for PT websites

  • Contact Us: is your practice’s contact information immediately visible on every page? Your site should have your phone number in the header to allow clients to call you for questions or to book appointments. Your physical address, map, and email should also be readily available.
  • Services: patients are often looking for a specific service to treat their pain. Your website should include a listing of all the services you offer and detailed descriptions about the diagnoses you treat and how PT can help. Think of your site as a patient education resource as it will guide them to seek your care and treatment.
  • Referrals / Administrative Forms: can doctors’ offices refer patients to your clinic online? Can patients access forms prior to their visit? Are online appointment requests available? More patients are coming into a clinic from online sources. Your website needs to act as an online front desk for your patients.
  • Blog: A health/PT blog is the best way for Search Engines (Google) to know what you do and who needs to see your articles. Getting found on SEO starts with giving people valuable, free information to prove your expertise.

 

Technical Aspects

If the design and content are the fillings, the technical aspects and function are the burger bun. By ensuring that your site has a solid foundation, you will continue to generate even more results for your practice.

  • Content Management System (CMS): a reliable and adaptive content management system can save you from lots of stress and troubleshooting when it comes to your website. A CMS, such as WordPress, is your one-stop-shop for updating your website. You are able to change page copy, swap out images, and update contact info easily throughout your site.
  • SEO: informative content will engage patients and coupled with effective SEO, you will get even more new patients through natural search. Most CMS have a plugin to help you create page titles, keywords, and meta descriptions for your web pages. This will help your website rise to the top of the search engine listings.
  • Social Media: does your website link to your Facebook, Twitter, or other profiles? By incorporating links to your site in your social media posts and sharing content directly from your site to your followers, you can increase your digital marketing. And, it’s FREE!

 

Is Digital Marketing Worthwhile?

2019 is projected to be the first year that global digital marketing spending beats out traditional advertising.  If you don’t start now, you will risk being overshadowed by local competition.

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What to Keep in Mind for a Successful Instagram Marketing Strategy

What to Keep in Mind for a Successful Instagram Marketing Strategy | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

You know you need to be on Instagram, and you want to use it successfully for your practice. But how should you do it? If this is your dilemma at present, you’re not alone. Many businesses are present on social media simply because they feel pressured to be present on every social platform. They create a profile without thinking through their marketing strategy.

Instagram is a powerful visual social platform and with a well thought-out strategy, it can help you grow your online presence. Here are some of the marketing touch points that you need to keep in mind while creating your brand’s Instagram promotion strategy:

Know Your Audience

This is the most crucial aspect of any marketing strategy. Who do you want to showcase your services and products to? Determine who your audience could be, their age, gender, location, profession, etc. This research will form the backbone of your Instagram marketing efforts.

Try to assess the demographic profile of the people at your practice or your competitor’s. What are the kinds of posts your patients like and share on Instagram? What do they comment on? You can also start by monitoring popular events and interest hashtags relevant to your practice. Check out people using and engaging with these hashtags. This will give you an insight into their needs, and over time you will gain deeper marketing insights towards your audience.

Know Your Competitors

Now that you know who your target customers are on Instagram, next important thing you would want to consider is who your competitors are and how you can outperform them. Remember, a thorough competitor analysis is paramount if you want to dominate your local market.

If you already know your top competitors, start by searching for their Instagram profiles. Or simply, search for terms related to your business or niche to find similar accounts. Conduct a quick audit of related accounts to seek the following answers:
 

  • What kinds of posts are getting maximum engagement?
  • What popular hashtags are they using?
  • Captions used?
  • Frequency of posting?


Do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of your key competitors to identify any opportunities they might have missed, which you can then capitalize on. These insights are essential for your brand’s success.

Plan Your Instagram Content

Once you have determined what you want to post and how frequently you want to post on Instagram, the next thing is to plan a schedule for the content to go out. Brands on an average post 1.5 times a day, a schedule you should mimic then make you own. This can be time consuming and it can be difficult to keep a track of all content you want to post.

The best way to do this would be to create a social calendar so you know what to post and when on your Instagram account. There are a number of automated tools available which help you schedule your posts. This saves both time and effort for you to manage your presence effectively.

Consistency Is Key

Lastly, you should be consistent in your postings on Instagram. Whatever you post, the broad message and vision should remain the same. Random or disjointed content will only confuse your audience and will be detrimental to your practice.

Introduce variety into your Instagram content, but keep it relevant to your professional practice. The idea is that the audience should be able to visualize your brand through your posts and feel connected with it. This will invite them to not only try out your services, but keep coming back because they feel a connection to your practice.

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A new use for chatbots: matching patients and clinical trials

A new use for chatbots: matching patients and clinical trials | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

At any one time, there are around 50,000 clinical trials taking place worldwide. Clinical trials are vitally important for pharma companies, accounting for up to 40% of research budgets in many cases. However, large numbers of trials that are proposed fail to recruit patients, and some estimates suggest that up to half of those proposed fail to recruit any participants at all. Of trials that start, up to 85% fail to retain enough participants for the results to be meaningful.

This does not, however, mean that patients are not keen to find clinical trials. For many critically ill patients, especially those for whom current treatments are either unsuitable or simply not working, clinical trials represent a lifeline. Many are desperate to find a suitable trial. Recruiters have been using social media as a way to find trial participants for some time, but it is a bit ‘hit and miss’. 

There is, therefore, huge appetite on both sides of clinical trial recruitment to find a better way to match patients with suitable trials. But how?

An answer to the question

Microsoft thinks it may have the answer, or at least part of the answer. Its research lab in Israel has recently developed a Clinical Trials Bot. Starting as a hackathon project, the bot now allows patients and doctors to search for studies about a particular disease. By asking a series of text questions, the bot can assess the patients’ match with the criteria for each trial, and suggest links to the trials that best match the patient’s need. Pharma companies can also use it to find potential trial participants.

Like other uses of bots in healthcare, the bot uses a form of artificial intelligence, machine reading. It assesses the criteria for each clinical trial, and then uses that to ‘decide’ which questions to ask patients, and how to match them to possible trials. For example, a patient might search for ‘trials for woman in California with breast cancer’. The bot would ask questions about the level of cancer—for example, is it metastatic?—and how far the patient is prepared to travel. In each case, the patient is offered five possible choices of answer. As they select answers, the bot chooses the next question. Each question and answer allows the bot to refine the list of possible clinical trials.

At this stage, the bot is still more or less experimental. It is certainly not going into production immediately. However, Microsoft is already clear that it does not see it having a future as a stand-alone Microsoft product. Instead, it is talking to pharma companies about how they could use the bot as a way to find trial participants, and to other partners about its use as a tool for patients. The future of the bot is therefore not very clear, but there is no question that it has potential. 

Solving real-world problems

There are a number of other examples of technology having potential in healthcare, however. Not all of them have delivered. Telehealth and telemedicine have been touted as the ‘next best thing’, the option that will allow us to deliver ‘more for less’ in healthcare, and improve patients’ health without needing more doctors or nurses. However, many of these advances remain confined to small areas or local projects. They are certainly not in widespread use. Even apps like Babylon, promising ‘a doctor on your phone’, are not nearly as ubiquitous as the developers had hoped. 

Some commentators have suggested that where technology fails to take off, it is because it is not really solving a problem. This is not strictly true, however. Telehealth and apps are definitely solving a problem, but not necessarily for patients.

Telehealth helps healthcare providers. It allows them to look after more patients, with fewer healthcare practitioners. The benefits for patients, however, are less clear. Babylon and similar apps tend to focus on younger people, who are not the main users of health services. Over 70% of healthcare resources are used by around 20% of the population, usually older people with chronic problems. This group are unlikely to be suitable for healthcare delivery via an app. 

For technology to take off in healthcare, it must be acceptable and beneficial to patients as well as clinicians and providers. It is early days yet, but the Clinical Trials Bot might just tick that box. Let us hope that it delivers on its potential, and that Microsoft finds suitable partners for its ongoing development.

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Vaccine wars: Social media battle outbreak of bogus claims

Vaccine wars: Social media battle outbreak of bogus claims | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Like health officials facing outbreaks of disease, internet companies are trying to contain vaccine-related misinformation they have long helped spread. So far, their efforts at quarantine are falling short.

 
Searches of Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram turn up all sorts of bogus warnings about vaccines, including the soundly debunked notions that they cause autism or that mercury preservatives and other substances in them can poison and even kill people.

Some experts fear that the online spread of bad information about vaccines is planting or reinforcing fears in parents, and they suspect it is contributing to the comeback in recent years of certain dangerous childhood diseases, including measles, whooping cough and mumps.

"The online world has been one that has been very much taken over by misinformation spread by concerned parents," said Richard Carpiano, a professor of public policy and sociology at the University of California, Riverside, who studies vaccine trends. "Medical doctors don't command the sort of authority they did decades ago. There is a lack of confidence in institutions people had faith in."

The effort to screen out bogus vaccine information online is one more front in the battle by social media to deal with fake news of all sorts, including political propaganda. (Researchers have even found Russia-linked bots trying to sow discord by amplifying both sides of the vaccine debate.)

Pinterest, the digital scrapbooking and search site that has been a leading online repository of vaccine misinformation, took the seemingly drastic step in 2017 of blocking all searches for the term "vaccines."

But it's been a leaky quarantine. Recently, a search for "measles vaccine" still brought up, among other things, a post titled "Why We Said NO to the Measles Vaccine," along with a sinister-looking illustration of a hand holding an enormous needle titled "Vaccine-nation: poisoning the population one shot at a time."

Facebook, meanwhile, said in March that it would no longer recommend groups and pages that spread hoaxes about vaccines, and that it would reject ads that do this. This appears to have filtered out some of the most blatant sources of vaccine misinformation, such as the website Naturalnews.com.

But even after the changes, anti-vax groups were among the first results to come up on a search of "vaccine safety." A search of "vaccine," meanwhile, turns up the verified profile of Dr. Christiane Northrup, a physician who is outspoken in her misgivings about—and at times opposition to—vaccines.

On Facebook's Instagram, hashtags such as "vaccineskill" and accounts against vaccinating children are easily found with a simple search for "vaccines."

The discredited ideas circulating online include the belief that the recommended number of shots for babies is too much for their bodies to handle, that vaccines infect people with the same viruses they are trying to prevent, or that the natural immunity conferred by catching a disease is better than vaccines.

In truth, fear and suspicion of vaccines have been around as long as vaccines have existed. Smallpox inoculations caused a furor in colonial New England in the 1700s. And anti-vaccine agitation existed online long before Facebook and Twitter.

Still, experts in online misinformation say social networking and the way its algorithms disseminate the most "engaging" posts—whether true or not—have fueled the spread of anti-vaccination propaganda and pushed parents into the anti-vax camp.

Jeanine Guidry, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who studies social media and vaccines, said social media amplifies these conversations and creates echo chambers that can reinforce bad information.

Carpiano said it is difficult to document the actual effect social media has had on vaccination rates, but "we do see decrease in coverage and rise in gaps of coverage," as well as clusters of vaccine-hesitant people.

Despite high-profile outbreaks , overall vaccination rates remain high in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the percentage of children under 2 who haven't received any vaccines is growing.

Some of the fake news online about health and medicine appears to be spread by people who may genuinely believe it. Some seems intended to wreak havoc in public discourse. And some appears to be for financial gain.

InfoWars, the conspiracy site run by right-wing provocateur Alex Jones, routinely pushes anti-vax information and stories of "forced inoculations" while selling what are billed as immune supplements. Naturalnews.com sells such products, too.

"It is a misinformation campaign," Carpiano said. "Often couched in 'Oh, we are for choice, understanding, education,'" he said. "But fundamentally it is not open to scientific debate."

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Do Patients Love Your Medical Practice?

Do Patients Love Your Medical Practice? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

The world of healthcare marketing is growing increasingly competitive with each passing day. It has become more important than ever to have a foolproof plan in place to grab the attention of new patients, give them reasons to stick around and turn them into loyal repeat patients.

Have you ever wondered why patients choose one healthcare practice over the others? Do they have any logical reasons for preferring a particular brand? Brand loyalty is more of an emotional act, not a logical one, and patients loyal to a medical practice have a strong emotional relationship with it. Every medical practice wants to increase its brand loyalty, which means it is important to do more than just introduce their patients to their products. It is critical to spark your patients’ emotional connection, make them fall in love with your products and keep it going.

Usually, the people love brands that reflect their personal values, make their life easier, provide exceptional patient experience and continue to surpass their expectations. So if a patient is loyal to your brand, it means he or she was faced with a choice between you and your competition, and your patient chose you every time. Your goal must be to create a positive experience every time a patient interacts with your brand, drop by drop making them fall in love with your brand.

But wait! How do you know if patients are happy with your services?
You may believe that you deliver the best patient service experience, and that is what the majority of medical practices think. However, reports reveal that only a small percentage of patients agree with what the majority of practices claim. It is evident that what healthcare marketers claim about their product and services does not matter. It is your patients’ opinions that will actually make or break your brand. You can read more about Brand Perception here.

 

The Internet is bursting with questionnaires and quizzes you can use to assess your patients’ satisfaction with your brand. Apart from these online quizzes, here are some obvious signs that may tell you if your patient service strategies are successful or not.

 

1. They keep coming back to your practice

When patients build a trustworthy relationship with a healthcare provider, they are inclined to come back for more. Repeat patients indicate that they trust your service quality, your staff is friendly and they know that you are capable of handling their health problems. Therefore, seeing repeat patients at your practice implies that you are doing a good job to ensure patient satisfaction.

2. Your new patients are referred by your existing patients

One of the sure signs of happy and satisfied patients is that they refer your practice to others. They bring their friends and relatives and turn them into your referrals. The more your patients are happy with your service, the more likely they are to spread the good word.

3. They look for ways to connect with you

If your existing patients are asking for and engaging with you on social media handles, it shows that your patient satisfaction strategies are reaping benefits.

 

4. They post positive online reviews

Receiving good feedback is a great sign of satisfied patients. When your patients are happy, they do not shy away from posting reviews of their satisfactory experiences at various sites across the web. If patients’ applause fill your feed, then it is a win.

5. They hardly ever complain

Another quick giveaway of a satisfied patient base is that you receive few or no complaints. And if any issues come up, your patients express their concern to you.

6. They appreciate your efforts

When patients experience unmatched service, they want to let others know. Most people are diligent in praising staff and facilities and do not hesitate making their appreciation public by sharing online testimonials.

 

However, if you find none of these signs in your surveys, or if your surveys contain more unpleasant reviews than positive feedback, then it is high time to buckle down and make immediate changes to up your patient service game.

Tips to Make Patients Fall in Love With Your Practice

When it comes to tips and tricks that encourage brand love, most medical practices are limited to what they can do. Here are five ways healthcare marketers can move relationships with their patients from casual to committed:

1. Make your services unique

2. Focus on your key strengths

3. Provide outstanding service

4. Establish loyalty programs

 

5. Be present on social networks

Offer Something Unique

Successful healthcare brands attract and retain patients by offering unique services or experiences.

How is your medical practice unique?

Whatever makes you unique, tell people about it. If even local people have not experienced it yet, encourage them to try your services. Brand loyalty does not happen automatically. It is earned when you repeatedly deliver an unforgettable experience to your patients unmatched by your competitors.

Focus On Your Strengths

Once you have identified your unique attribute, you need to tell your target audience about it and build something special on your strengths that you want your practice to be known for.

You may offer an organic product, or something that is locally sourced, or something that caters to the specific healthcare needs of your local community. You might need to work on unique ideas to attract and retain patients. Your unique brand attribute is going to drive your communications, your brand story and your healthcare marketing campaigns.

From the beginning of your brand story to every touchpoint with patients, you will want to reflect what makes your medical practice unique and better than the competition.

 

Redefine Patient Service

If you want to build and increase brand loyalty, improve the patient experience. Just one satisfactory encounter can make a patient’s anxiety over contacting your staff slip away. In place of stress, your patient will have a willingness to invest more time and money in your brand.

However, before you can start redefining your patient experience, you first need to meet their basic requirements by giving them what to expect – your knowledge, expertise and help in effectively resolving their health issues. Once you have started to engage with patients to solve their specific problems, you can educate and help them use your products as effectively as possible. Before you know it, new patients will be walking through your doors. If you treat them nicely, they will recommend your brand to family and friends.

 

Assessing Your Patients’ Satisfaction Does Pay Off

Knowing how well your patients are satisfied with your services is critical for your practice’s success. Gauging their opinions will help you understand the challenges and generate suitable strategies to make the necessary improvements. In addition to checking on the signs discussed in this blog, you may analyze your patient volume or use online tools to measure patient satisfaction.

Once you have a happy patient base, your medical practice will be on its way to experiencing advantages like improved bottom line, better conversion and retention rates, and low churn. Eventually, it is your patients who run your practice. Therefore, it is essential that you keep assessing your patients’ experiences and develop appropriate strategies for keeping them happy and satisfied.

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How to Sell on Social Media (storytelling on social media) - Center for Restorative & Cosmetic Dentistry

How to Sell on Social Media (storytelling on social media) - Center for Restorative & Cosmetic Dentistry | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

If your struggling with how to turn your followers into actual paying customers in your business, then continue reading this blog, or watch the video above because I’m going to give you 1 simple strategy that you can do right now that will help you turn your followers into customers.

For those of you that don’t know me my name is Dr. Yazdan and I’m a cosmetic dentist in Newport beach, CA. I’ve built a following on instagram and facebook that continuously drives a steady flow of patients into my practice each month, and because of the success I have had, I now teach other healthcare professionals how to do the same with their business.  

That Know, Like, & Trust Factor:

In order for your followers to become active customers in your business, you need to get your followers to know you, like you, and trust you. It’s that know, like, and trust factor that ultimately gets people to become an active patient in your office. One of the best ways to do this is by telling stories with your captions! A story can make you relatable, it gets your audience engaged.  Our brains become more active when we tell stories. Remember all of that professional school you went through? How boring was it sitting in a lecture hall and being lectured with a power point presentation? It was hard to be engaged. But, if those professors took the time to tell a story, then you would have immediately become more engaged. Stories are effective on social media. Think about it, when you post, you’ve got a lot of barriers between you and the person reading that screen! You’ve got to get your reader to feel connected to you.

The best way to do this IS by stories.  It’s not enough for you to sit on your social media platform and post things like, “discount on botox this week, call our office to schedule… $100 on teeth whitening this week, call us to schedule…. $200 off your next laser treatment for all new patients… call us to schedule.” That may be easy…but it’s not effective.

If you take a step back, and instead, connect with your audience, they will be calling your office without you even asking them to!

Since social media is a place to be social, people are always wanting to have authentic connections with other people. The goal of your stories should be to get your audience to feel something. Emotion is the thing that will drive them into your office. When you can get them to feel something, you have got them hooked.  And one of the best ways to get your audience to feel something, is by way of storytelling. Storytelling on social media can be one of the most effective selling strategies you ever use to market your business. 

Storytelling on social media helps to create engagement on your posts, it helps your posts get seen–your followers will be more likely to read your captions, and it helps people feel more connected to you. Storytelling on social media is a strategy you must use. Not for every post, but at least every few posts!

FREE DOWNLOAD: captions that get attention

Effective Storytelling on Social Media:

So let’s get into some elements of effective storytelling on social media.  An effective story is personal and relatable, and it has a clear goal that is tailored to your ideal patient.

Imagine you’re a dermatologist and you just completed a laser treatment for a patient who is in for her post op. you take a photo of your patient in the chair looking at the mirror. Now it’s time to craft the caption: let’s take a simple caption and turn it into a story for an example.

Caption: completing today’s post op for my newest laser

Now… that’s not that exciting is it? If I saw that on my feed, I’d probably scroll right past it.

But, if instead, the caption read something like this (if you were basically storytelling on social media) it would be much more enticing. “My beautiful patient came to me complaining of acne and acne scars. For the past 3 months she’s been hiding in her home, afraid to leave because she is uncomfortable with the way her skin looks. Before coming here she said she tried every cream and product on the market, but as each day passed she felt more and more hopeless, and more and more depressed.  She finally decided to come into my office and I did a series of laser treatments for her that stopped the occurrence of new acne, and helped heal her scars. Now, as she sits in my chair with tears of happiness in her eyes, I’m reminded of why I chose this career. Making a difference like this in someone’s life is extremely fulfilling to me. She’s so happy with her treatment, and although she things I changed her life, the truth is… she has changed mine.”

Now THAT is a story that will get a potential patient to notice your work.

Storytelling on Social Media doesn’t have to be hard:

So here’s what you should think of when you’re creating your stories for your storytelling on social media strategy. Imagine yourself at a campfire.  And create your content as if you were actually sitting at a campfire. If you were to talk strictly about your business, what you offer, and what you do and who you are, you would get kicked out. But if you are able to connect with people emotionally, through a story, that’s when you start grabbing people’s attention!

So to make this actionable for you, I want you to pick out your next 3 post topics, and create stories around them. Do the work, and make it real (my grow with the gram insiders really know about that line!) if you’re not one of my insiders, what I mean by that is you need to carve out some time to do the work, so that you can reap the benefits of it!

Now my free gift for you… I’ve worked hard to create a worksheet that will help you map out your captions that will get you attention.  It will help you map out what you are promoting and how you want your audience to feel. You can download this worksheet by clicking on the link below. Make sure to download it, do the work, and make it real! Your business will thank you for it!

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4 Ways to Market Your PT Clinic's Culture

4 Ways to Market Your PT Clinic's Culture | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Why do patients drop out of therapy? As we explain in this WebPT Blog post, it can be for a number of reasons ranging from slow results to time constraints. But while the reasons may vary, most of them boil down to one thing: the patient just wasn’t right for physical therapy—at least not at your clinic. So, what’s a PT practitioner to do? After all, if you’re relying on referrals from physicians, there’s no guarantee that every patient they send you will be a good fit for your services. That’s where marketing comes into play—specifically, marketing to the right audience. And one way to ensure you’re attracting your ideal patients (i.e., the ones who would have the best chance of achieving success in your clinic) is to market your clinic’s culture.

What is culture?

Before we dive into leveraging your culture to better market your clinic, let’s first discuss what company culture means.

Defining company culture can be a bit, well, abstract. According to Andrew Hartley, owner and operator of The Alternative Board, company culture is “not just your personal values and the values of those around you at work. It’s how those values interact with the challenges and experiences of your market, the values and pressures added by your customers and suppliers and other stakeholders.”

You can measure your culture in the attitudes and actions of your staff. In a nutshell, having a great company culture is the difference between a team who comes to work to earn a paycheck and a team who comes to work because they love it. And that difference is visible from the patient perspective. If your staff buys into your mission, your patients will, too. After all, as author Simon Sinek mentions in his book Start with Why, “Customers don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

How can you market culture?

So, how can you project your culture—and your message—to the right people? Here are a few tips for weaving culture into your current marketing strategies:

1. Meet your patients where they are.

Start by getting involved in your community. Think about your ideal patients, what’s important to them, and where to find them. Some good examples are events like:

Whether you’re an organizer, participant, or sponsor, getting out in the community gives you a chance to talk with like-minded people. Perhaps more importantly, it shows them you’re passionate about the same things they are.

2. Network with other health and wellness professionals.

Along with speaking directly to prospective patients, don’t hesitate to be a friendly neighbor to potential referral sources. Specifically, seek out other health-centric businesses that cater to similar clientele (e.g., physician offices, gyms, chiro clinics, and health food stores) and have missions and cultures that jibe with your own. Consider developing cross-promotions to not only drive word-of-mouth business, but also build loyalty with those referrers.

By working with businesses that serve the same population as you (and have a similar culture), you know that any patients they send your way are likely to believe in your mission, too.

3. Blog about what’s happening in your clinic.

Blogging is an excellent way to not only share your culture, but also boost your clinic’s search engine optimization (SEO) power. As WebPT’s Brooke Andrus says in this post, blogging “not only builds trust with potential patients who might still be a bit hesitant about trying therapy, but also it allows you to woo prospective hires with your A-plus culture.” For example, you can blog about things like:

  • Company parties,
  • Community get-togethers,
  • Learning events, and
  • Employee spotlights.

4. Highlight it in your marketing materials.

Go on—it’s okay to brag a little. If you’ve got an amazing team, brilliant culture, and wonderful patients, there’s no shame in flaunting it on social media. (Just make sure you have permission before sharing pictures or names of patients!) In fact, showing off your company culture is an excellent online marketing strategy. That’s because doing so helps your patients get to know you before they even set foot in your practice. Better yet, seeing how gung-ho your staff and patients are about being there will get those potential patients excited about you, too.

Lights, camera, action!

In addition to posting pictures, consider harnessing your inner Copolla and putting together short videos for your practice. Videos are actually super-effective at attracting interest on social media. People are more likely to remember you, and according to the Content Marketing Institute, 43% of B2C marketers say “video is the most successful type of content for marketing purposes.” (WebPT’s own videographer explains how to make gorgeous videos for your practice without a Hollywood-sized budget in this post.)

Furthermore, as this article from Hearst Marketing Agency reveals, video:

  • Helps you tell your clinic’s stories in a medium people are more likely to engage with.
  • Allows your audience to connect with you and your clinic on a more personal, authentic level and thus, instills trust.
  • Makes your practice a destination (so, instead of being just another PT clinic, your clinic is the one that made that cute “Safety Dance” video).
Testimonials are perfect for social sharing.

If you’re tracking your patients’ experience in your practice—which you absolutely should be doing—you can leverage this information by asking your happiest patients to provide you reviews and testimonials. (The Net Promoter Score® [NPS®] is the best way to track this, and we explain the how and why here.) Once you have your testimonials, be sure to obtain written permission to share them for marketing purposes; then, feature them on social media, your website, or other marketing materials. Having real-life recommendations from actual patients is a great way to build trust and establish credibility in your community, and prospective patients will respond to that.

For example, by infusing its fun staff culture into patient interactions, East Coast-based Pivot Physical Therapy makes true believers out of its patients (evidenced by this patient testimonial): “Possibly the most important thing, everyone at Pivot Physical Therapy is fun and great to be around. I look forward to getting away from work and ‘playing’ at your facilities.” Not only does this speak to Pivot’s amazing culture, but it also helps ease patient anxieties about how grueling physical therapy can be—making it an ideal testimonial to post online.

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How to Boost Your Healthcare SEO Efforts With Content Marketing | 

How to Boost Your Healthcare SEO Efforts With Content Marketing |  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Content marketing and SEO for the healthcare sector are different from other industries. Learn how to use the right content to acquire top spots in the search results. 

What does an average patient do when he or she experiences adverse symptoms? Twenty years ago, they would have called the doctor. Today, they open up their browser.

According to research by Pew Internet & American Life Project, 55% of adult internet users search for health-related information online. 

Companies from the medical sector can take advantage of the client’s desire to search for extensive information. If you have the right content, your SEO efforts can improve trifold. 

This step-by-step guide can help you take a smart approach to content marketing in your field.

As an SEO expert with over 15 years of experience, I’ve come up with a few smart, sly, and important tips that will help you achieve your SEO goals. 

Step #1: Identify Your Target Audience 

Who are your patients? Of course, you know the answer to this question. Or do you? Make a list of the patients who are likely to visit your office according to the following parameters. 

  • Location - Identify where your patients live. Ideally, they should be within a short driving distance from your facility or office. Your content marketing efforts should have location-related keywords, such as “best physician in Chicago” or “nearest dentist in Lowell.” 
  • Demographics – age, gender, family size (composition), occupation, income, and education. 
  • Psychographics – behavior, lifestyle, personality. This is especially important for older patients, who may not accept innovative technologies while being highly receptive to word-of-mouth marketing. 
  • Needs – what does a patient need? What is their likely level of knowledge about the conditions are you are treating? Where do they usually find their information?

You may find that your audience is between 30 and 40, married with one or two children, educated, income over $50,000, busy and in search of quick solutions, likely to use internet for information, mostly on their mobile gadgets.

Or you may find out that your audience is between 65 and 75, married, educated, retired, not highly active, looking for extensive information to make a decision, need time to decide, not too internet-savvy. 

Two completely different pictures, right? Can you see how the content you employ will be different or these two audiences? 

In the first case, when marketing your services, you are likely to focus on the latest technological solutions in your sector, fast access to services, and top-notch options at extra cost (if any). This audience is also likely to download your company’s app.

In the second case, you may want to focus on giving extensive information about your solutions as well as offering full information about your credentials and sources. 

Calls to action should focus on calling a representative to get more information. The content can share solutions with a lower price tag than for the first audience. 

Step #2: Find the Right Question

What are the questions your target audience is asking about their health? Your business should anticipate what exactly potential patients will search for online. 

  • My foot hurts when I sneeze
  • Which doctor deals with eyes?
  • My hearing gets worse when I chew
  • Ear hurts when I swallow

These types of requests are highly common. When you are writing your content, you should be keeping the patient in mind. 

For example, an average patient is unlikely to search for “otitis,” which is a specific type of ear pain. They will, instead, simply type “ear pain” into the search engine.

View the content from the reader’s perspective. 

If you must use medical terms, make sure these terms are placed next to common words for the same condition in your article (ex. “otitis, a type of ear pain”)

Your goal is to give a solution, not to shower a person with information and jargon they don’t understand. 

Smart tip: Be careful about giving direct advice in the articles you post on your website.  While telemedicine is on the rise, it comes with its own set of rules.

Sly tip: “Consult a doctor for more information” should become your favorite phrase (that doctor is obviously you, so contact info must be readily available.)

Important tip: Don’t jump in over your head. If you aren’t competent or don’t have the resources to answer a question, don’t do it. You should always value the patient’s health over your own content marketing. 

Step #3: Turn to Social Media and Stay There  

Social media content marketing can improve your SEO efforts

According to Pew Research, 80% of internet users, who engage on social media, are specifically looking for health information, and nearly half are searching for information about a specific doctor. 

Content marketing on social media is somewhat different than on-site. You need to be concise while engaging the audience.

On social media, you should follow all the latest trends in your sector. Try to be one of the first people to discuss any new findings in a way for the average patient to understand it.

Anything new and important to your audience will be reposted in the blink of an eye, bringing more subscribers to your account and more viewers to your website. 


 
In fact, doctor’s social media accounts tend to show up in the search engine results quicker than websites.
Take advantage of this information to market your office through particular specialists. 

Step #4: Add Some Fun

While there isn’t anything funny about being sick, reading long and boring medical texts is, well, long and boring.

According to SEO experts from a digital service agency, Miromind, adding a human element to the content you are writing is a must-have. Help the patients relax when they are reading your content.

The more you identify with your target audience and make your content visually appealing, the likelier they are to convert. 

One of the simplest ways to make content more engaging is to diversify it with images and videos. These days, videos are gaining immense popularity.

Smart tip: Your medicine-related videos shouldn’t swallow large portions of your budget. They can boil down to a specialist speaking about a certain subject in front of a camera. 

Sly tip: Tell a funny story. Humor always sells. Even when it’s in the middle of something terribly serious. 

Step #5: Check Yourself and Your Copywriter 

When the content is nice and ready, run it by the following checklist:

  • Did you answer at least two questions important to your audience?
  • Did you add the entertainment factor to the content?
  • Are you speaking in the voice of a leader?
  • Is your information useful and relevant?
  • Did you share original thoughts or an alternative point of view?
  • Did you give a call to action, which directs the patient to make an appointment?
  • Did you make the information easy to share?
  • Did you write a concise and catchy summary for social media?

Don’t miss any of the above. Even if it seems that the text looks better without one of the points, find a way to include it. 

Step #6: Make It Readable 

Don’t make the mistake of saving money on a website designer and SEO consultant and lose quality content. 

No matter how amazing your marketing efforts are, they’ll fail if the content isn’t readable. 

What I mean by readable is the content’s physical appearance. You should always write digital content in short paragraphs that are filled with bullet points and images. 

Creating a less overwhelming block of text makes it easier for your reader to stay engaged. 


 Which one of the above would you continue reading?

When it comes to mobile gadgets, a huge number of nuances exist as well, such as:

  • Shorter passages, summaries, and titles 
  • Not more than 3 font sizes per text
  • Image and video size optimization for better loading speed
  • Fewer colors 
  • Simpler and shorter words (i.e., “use” instead of “utilization”)
  • More whitespace

Making your content easy to read will encourage people to stay on your article instead of clicking away. You never want to overwhelm potential readers with information and huge blocks of text can deter people. 

Don’t avoid readability issues. Start with them.

Outrun Your Competition With Content Marketing 

The medical sector is an excellent field for building out your content marketing efforts. An overwhelming number of people are turning to the internet for medical advice. 

By creating the right content, it’s easier to end up on the first pages of the search results than in any other industry. When someone searches for a medical professional, your website should show up first. 

Don’t miss out on potential opportunities because people can’t find your website. Create valuable and readable content that people find when looking for answers to their medical issues. Hire an SEO agency if you are unsure of how to best support your site. 

Strive to share information your target audience is looking for and watch your clients increase.  

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JMIR - What Do Patients Say About Doctors Online? A Systematic Review of Studies on Patient Online Reviews 

JMIR - What Do Patients Say About Doctors Online? A Systematic Review of Studies on Patient Online Reviews  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Background: The number of patient online reviews (PORs) has grown significantly, and PORs have played an increasingly important role in patients’ choice of health care providers.

Objective: The objective of our study was to systematically review studies on PORs, summarize the major findings and study characteristics, identify literature gaps, and make recommendations for future research.

Methods: A major database search was completed in January 2019. Studies were included if they (1) focused on PORs of physicians and hospitals, (2) reported qualitative or quantitative results from analysis of PORs, and (3) peer-reviewed empirical studies. Study characteristics and major findings were synthesized using predesigned tables.

Results: A total of 63 studies (69 articles) that met the above criteria were included in the review. Most studies (n=48) were conducted in the United States, including Puerto Rico, and the remaining were from Europe, Australia, and China. Earlier studies (published before 2010) used content analysis with small sample sizes; more recent studies retrieved and analyzed larger datasets using machine learning technologies. The number of PORs ranged from fewer than 200 to over 700,000. About 90% of the studies were focused on clinicians, typically specialists such as surgeons; 27% covered health care organizations, typically hospitals; and some studied both. A majority of PORs were positive and patients’ comments on their providers were favorable. Although most studies were descriptive, some compared PORs with traditional surveys of patient experience and found a high degree of correlation and some compared PORs with clinical outcomes but found a low level of correlation.

Conclusions: PORs contain valuable information that can generate insights into quality of care and patient-provider relationship, but it has not been systematically used for studies of health care quality. With the advancement of machine learning and data analysis tools, we anticipate more research on PORs based on testable hypotheses and rigorous analytic methods.

Trial Registration: International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) CRD42018085057; https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/PROSPERO/display_record.php?RecordID=85057 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/76ddvTZ1C)

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Social Media Content Ideas that Your Patients will Love

Social Media Content Ideas that Your Patients will Love | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Sharing the right kind of content on your social media accounts can help your practice earn more new patients and keep them engaged when they’re outside of your office.

First, Consider about Your Audience 

If you know your audience, then you know what they are looking for in content. You are also aware of their expectations and have a good handle on the type of content they will want to read. Use your familiarity with your patients as a compass to guide you when planning your content creation strategy.

Office Tour Video 

An informal office tour video is a great way to share the personality of your office with new, potential patients and entice them to schedule an appointment. You’ll want to record your waiting area and highlight any of the fun activities that children can enjoy while in your office. You can make a series of short (less than 30 seconds) videos highlighting individual areas or shoot a long shot walkthrough of your dental office. Your goal is to make your dental office feel like a fun and comfortable place for patients to visit. 

Try a Local List! 

Lists are some of the most popular items on social and represent 12% of all posts shared.  Your lists don’t need to be just about dentistry. A list is a great way to share your personal thoughts about the cities you serve. Consider making a list about your favorite places to grab sushi near your practice. Be sure to use local keywords in the introduction and conclusion of your post. 

Dentist Q&A 

Dental patients are full of questions – and you can provide the answers! Use your social media accounts, or time in office to listen to your patients and track the most common questions. Then, use your blog to write out the most popular questions, and answer them in the body of the post. If you ask for questions on social media, be sure to tag the person that asked the original question in your answer.

Toothbrushing Videos 

Believe it or not, toothbrushing videos are some of the most viewed content on YouTube! You can help your young brushers continue to build healthy habits at home by sharing your favorite toothbrushing kids. be sure that the video is at least two minutes long and is up to your professional standards. You can go the extra mile by creating your own toothbrushing video, but there are a lot to choose form online. 

Get Socially Savvy 

Smile Savvy’s Social Media services offer comprehensive social media management and informative blog posts that drive more traffic to your dental practiceClick here for more information about how our Social Media services can help your dental practice.

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Does Social Media Belong in Therapy?

Does Social Media Belong in Therapy? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

“Look at this, just look! Look what they said! And what I said back! Read it, please!” My patient thrust their phone towards me, having spent several minutes scrolling through it in frustration, to find the offending interaction. I felt like a lawyer, rejecting a process server with a summons, as I held my hands up to avoid touching the phone.

I want to help my patients. I truly do. But when it comes to social mediainteractions, explored in therapy, I find myself struggling with many conflicts.

Most therapists who didn’t grow up with the digital world at their fingertips, simply don’t understand what a vital, real part of the world those online interactions are, for many of our patients. We often view internet friends, social media interactions, Facebook spats, online bullying, and Twitter mobs as less substantial than the real world. If you don’t spend much time online and haven’t made social media a real part of your life, then it’s deceptively easy to look at those interactions as being less intense, less impactful, and less important than “the real world.”

Many therapists bemoan the ways in which electronics, smartphones, and social media have changed human interactions. They encourage couples to set rules around smartphones at dinner, or in bed. It’s a funny, modern version of the old mind-body split, where our spiritual existence was viewed as purer and more valuable than our physical existence. As a result, things such as masturbationsex, even spicy foods, were decried as distractions from our spiritual development.

Today, the coin is flipped. Now, we are told to deny ourselves the reality of the online world and to focus on the physical world around us, and the physical people around us. People who live online too much are painted as deficient, deprived, and even damaged.

So when my patient wants me to look at their phone, wants to recount and explore an online interaction that they are struggling with, it’s tempting to resist, because “those interactions aren’t really real” anyway. But they are, and in many ways, they may hold significant emotional triggers and hooks, that don’t come up in other aspects of life.

The online world of social media allows people to expand their village, to find friends and intimate emotional connections with people they couldn’t maintain a connection with otherwise. They can share their lives with chosen friends and communities who share their interests and values, despite where they physically live. Those online interactions are as real, perhaps even more real than our physical interactions. In the physical world, the influence of our choice, our self-determination, is somewhat muted by environmental limitations. But online, we go where we will, by choice. We hold greater ability to exert control over our surroundings and interactions, than we may be able to in the physical world. I suggest that our online existence may actually be a greater reflection of our "true selves," than is "IRL" (In Real Life). 

So, I’m not a therapist who is scornful of the online world, or who shames (even inadvertently) my patients for making those online interactions an important, impactful and vital part of their life.

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Source: Pixabay

But, I will admit that taking my patient’s phone from their hand, and reading stuff on it, feels concerning to me, for a variety of reasons:

  • First, my job in therapy is to engage with my patient. When the phone is between us, I’m engaging with the device, and the words on it. Not the person on my couch.
  • Secondly, my patient is the person, not their phone. The words on the screen matter less, than my patient’s reaction, interpretation, and emotional responses. I find that the actual words on a screen are less therapeutically valuable, than unpacking and exploring how my patient internalized them and interpreted them. What the words (or their perception of the online interaction, because we all easily misunderstand things) actually triggered within them is what I find therapeutically valuable. That’s the “grist for the mill,” to quote a very old therapeutic concept.
  • Finally, I know that there’s a lot of private material on my patient’s phones. Financial information, passwords, photos, etc. I’ve known therapists who opened computer files from a patient, given via email or flash drive, and found the patient had inadvertently given them illegal images. If I’m holding my patient’s phone, and a text pops up, or my clumsy fingers accidentally delete something or click a wrong button, we suddenly have new problems and issues to deal with, taking us away from therapy.

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The worlds of social media and behavioral health treatments are increasingly intertwining. Facebook tracks, reports and intervenes in posts indicative of suicidedepression, and bullying. Crisis hotlines now offer chat and text support, because so many young people prefer to engage in that way. Online therapy applications are a button-push away. Social media interactions and texting conversations are making their way into modern journalism, into legal cases involving threats, defamation, and plagiarism. Family and divorce courts are seeing more and more electronic conversations being presented as evidence.

(And I'm not even talking about all the complex ethical and privacy issues involved in therapists who are on social media, and may interact with patients, or patients' relatives online, about therapists and patients who may "google stalk" each other, about encountering patients and therapists on dating or hookup apps, and on and on...)

Like it or not, therapists need to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the world (including the digital ones) our patients inhabit. I think we all have a lot to learn, developing best practices and guidelines for how to effectively support our patients. If you’re a patient or a therapist, how has social media entered the therapy relationship for you? I’d like to hear.

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Healthcare Marketing Data: Budget and Channel Trends

Healthcare Marketing Data: Budget and Channel Trends | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Most healthcare firms expanded their marketing budgets last year and continued to use traditional channels to complement digital channels, according to recent research published by MM&M and Deloitte.

The annual report was based on data from a survey conducted in January 2019 with 233 healthcare marketing professionals who work for companies in a range of areas, including diagnostics, pharma, biotech, and devices. Respondents were asked about their 2018 budget and spend behaviors, as well as about their plans and concerns for 2019.

Here are key highlights from the research:

Healthcare Marketing Budget Trends
The survey found that healthcare firms were very bullish on marketing last year: the overwhelming majority of respondents (92%) say they increased their annual marketing budget in 2018.

The bulk of firms across all of the areas surveyed boosted their budgets, with pharma seeing the largest share (94%) of companies that increased spend.

Moreover, just 4% of respondents across all healthcare fields say they decreased their annual marketing budget in 2018, down from 16% in 2017.

Healthcare Marketing Channel Trends
The researchers found that digital has by no means killed traditional approaches in the healthcare field: some 86% of respondents who market directly to consumers report using common digital marketing tactics (digital ads, websites, social media, etc.) last year and 77% report using non-digital marketing tactics (print, outdoors, TV, radio, etc.).

In other words, most healthcare marketers are using a mix of digital and traditional tactics, not purely one type or the other.

There are significant differences in the popularity of different marketing channels among different types of healthcare firms, the researchers found.

For example, device manufacturers spend nearly three times as much as biotech companies to market at professional meetings/conferences, whereas biotech companies spend more than three times as much as device manufacturer on point-of-care marketing.

Healthcare Marketing Technology and Data
The researchers found that the healthcare industry still has some quirks when it comes to martech: for example, 22% of firms say the budget for marketing technology remains with their IT department and that control has not yet been transferred to the marketing department.

However, the martech budget issue is relatively trivial compared to the biggest challenge facing healthcare marketers: data.

The survey found that firms are clearly struggling to utilize data effectively and are worried about upcoming constraints on data collection and use.

As the researchers put it: “Asked to identify their biggest challenges, big data came out on top. Forty-three percent of respondents ranked it as ‘extremely challenging’ and an additional 33% characterized it as ‘challenging,’ most likely due to the perennial difficulty of extracting insights, but also possibly due to marketers’ fear that incidents like the Cambridge Analytica fiasco could make people more skittish about sharing the information needed to power campaigns.”

Looking Ahead
So, what’s the outlook for 2019 and beyond?

It appears that healthcare marketers are continuing to boost budgets this year but are wary about the future.

The report states, “As for the months and years ahead, most marketers appear to be bracing themselves for the lethargic low that often follows a sugar high. They’re happily apportioning their enhanced 2019 budgets across a range of programs and channels, but they also harbor no illusions that they’ll have the same sums to play with in 2020.”

What’s making marketers skittish about 2020 and the following years?

Mainly politics. Specifically, healthcare firms are uncertain about whether moves made during and after the US presidential election—such as fresh compliance burdens and/or changes to marketing tax deductions—may impact their operations.

As the researchers put it, “In-house [sic] marketers who were surveyed for the 2019 MM&M/Deloitte Consulting Healthcare Marketers Trend Report foresee change as inevitable. And they say its impact could be significant on healthcare marketing budgets.”

Stay informed about the latest trends in healthcare marketing. Contact MDG Advertising today at 561-338-7797 or visit mdgadvertising.com.

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8 Dental Marketing Ideas That Will Bring You An ROI To Smile About

8 Dental Marketing Ideas That Will Bring You An ROI To Smile About | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

If you are a dentist, you may have found yourself searching for dental marketing ideas on Google.

A search that brings up millions of results, but each tell a different story.

There are many informative e-books, blog posts, and guides that provide information that you will need to market your dental practice.

But very few backed by actual experience. This is why we rolled up our sleeves and decided to share 8 dental marketing ideas that actually work.

Ones that we have effectively used to grow our client’s business.

 

If you want to help your dental practice grow, keep reading. This blog post is dedicated just to adding value to your practice. To empower you to feel confident enough to take your business to the next level.

Here are 8 practical dental marketing ideas that you can implement today.

 

1. Improve Your SEO to Help People Find Your Dental Practice on Google

Most individuals that are looking for a dentist will start with a simple Google search.

The higher you rank on this search, the higher your chances are of a user visiting your business website, and making an appointment.

There are both front end and back end ways to optimize your website for ranking higher on Google.

You must first help Google read and understand your website through on-page SEO

This may involve updating your website copy, headings, titles, speed, and much more.

Once you implement on-page SEO, you will need to start monthly SEO maintenance

Monthly SEO maintenance involves off-page tactics, such as increasing backlinks to your website and posting relevant content on social media that links to your website.

You should also keep a pulse on your website’s security, speed, and user-friendliness on a continuous basis. Google looks at these factors when ranking dental marketing websites, so make sure you pay close attention to this. 

In the dental marketing industry, where patients are regularly using search engines to research remedies, search engine optimization is extremely important.

If you can get your dental practice to rank higher on search engines through well planned SEO, you can count on ample free traffic to your website that will lead to appointments.

Talk to our SEO experts today to see how you can use this marketing tactic to increase your ROI.

 

2. Search Engine Marketing – Google’s Advertising Platform

Successful SEO implementation can take 6-12 months.

And if you’re like most dental practices, you need leads right now.

One way to start getting traffic immediately from Google is by using Google Ads.

It lets you identify what your potential patients are searching for online and then lets you target them with your ads.

As soon as they search a dentist, your ads can appear to target them. 

 

These ads can be targeted to specific cities, zip codes, or areas in which your dental practice(s) is located.

Now we’ll be 100% honest with you.

Google Advertising is one the most popular dental marketing ideas for dentists.

With that being stated, competition is very high in Google Ads for dentists.

And as competition rises, the costs to advertise generally matches it.

But do not let this discourage you. The reason why there is so much competition for dentists on Google Ads is because it is working for the dentists that are using it. 

Dentists are growing their practices completely from Google Advertising. 

To utilize your advertising dollars, we recommend using a trusted dental advertising service.

 

3. Claim local business listings for your local dental business

How patients find their local dentists has massively changed.

It’s true that word of mouth is still as important to get new patients to your dental practice. But one other equally important aspect is having online visibility.

Where your consumers literally live. This makes it important to list your business on various online business listings.

By listings we mean to make an account on these platforms and update your profiles with the correct information. There are more than a dozen free business listings that you can take advantage of. Some of them include Google My Business, Bing, Yelp, Yellow Pages Manta, Citysearch and so on.

Sure there are going to be some business listings that are going to be more important for a dental service but this is one of the most effective dental marketing ideas that to start off with. 

4. Get more Patient Reviews

Reviews are another great way to attract and convert patients.

New patients are very skeptical of dentists. And your better believe that they are looking at your reviews to make a decision on using your practice to operate in their mouth.

So its best that you make a great first impression, which will influence their decision to book an appointment with you.

Studies have consistently stated that 90% of users rely on reviews of other customers before making their online purchase.

But let’s face it. Review management is difficult to do consistently and that’s why busy dental practitioners don’t even bother to understand the power of it. There are reputation management experts who can help. Other than making sure your business keeps getting reviews from customers, our team can highlight those positive reviews in ways that can bring more patients to your practice. 

Bonus Dental Marketing Idea: Best Smile Contest.

A little birdie told us about a dentist in Denver who rolled out a contest for all his patients called “Best Smiles.”

They picked five lucky winners from a drawing to get free cleaning for a year. To enter the contest, you simply have to leave a review online about the dental practice.

What a smart way to encourage patients to share a review after their experience. This tactic ruffled the social media feathers for the practice too. A point we will cover in our point below.

5. Manage your organic social media

Not only are patients looking at reviews, they are also looking at your social media channels.

They may take a look at your dental practice’s Facebook and Instagram page to learn more about the experience they may encounter there.

But impressing prospective patients isn’t the only benefit of social media, it also helps you build awareness, engagement, and trust amongst a brand new audience.

Market studies indicate that an average user spends close to two hours on Facebook, before telling their friends in person about something they would tweet about it on Twitter.

This is the power of social media. Can you imagine what you are missing if you aren’t making the right effort to connect with your audience on social media?

It is where your patients spend most of their time.

And managing your social media profiles does not have to be hard.

It is a sum of the little things you do on your social channels to make a connection with your users.

Right from posting meaningful content to discussing issues on online forums that adds value to potential and current patients.

Meaningful content may consist of providing tips on how to keep a bright smile, the importance of flossing regularly, and advice on choosing a dentist. 

Once you publish this content, focus on connecting it with the right people.

Build your followers, boost your posts, and maximize all outlets to build exposure for your dental practice.

Bonus Dental Marketing Idea: Photo Booth

Another birdie told us about a dentist in Florida who set up a photo booth for patients in his clinic.

After their dental appointment, patients were encouraged to take a photo with their brand new, whiter smile. 

Following this, they can then share these clicks on social media and with all their friends.

This was a smart way to get additional eyeballs through social media channels. Needless to say, this innovative tactic of using social media for marketing a dental practice was worth of a bonus mention.

PC: My Social Practice

6. Increase traffic by targeting new patients with paid social media advertising campaigns

 

Outside of building your social media presence, you can also run advertising campaigns to drive traffic to your website.

Social media advertising allows you to target your potential patients with different ad formats on their favorite social channels.

To get started, you must first develop a compelling offer, such as a free guide or special promotion.

For example, your dental practice may solicit a 25% discount to check out the your dental clinic. Or a free eBook on the most effective ways to maintain a bright smile.

Then you need to develop compelling advertisements, and target them to your audience.

The targeting features within social media advertising is perhaps one of the most advantageous benefits of advertising on social media.

For example, you can target audiences based on the content they like, pages they follow, or certain online behaviors.

You can segment all different types of audiences and craft communication to them in a fun, engaging way. 

You can also build custom audiences with your current patients, and solicit to them to encourage them to book their next appointment.

With low cost per impressions and clicks that you can enjoy, for dentists, social media advertising continues to be one of the most effective advertising channels in terms of dental ROI.

7. Increase appointment bookings with email marketing

Email marketing for dentists is one the most important facets of dental marketing.

It invites new patients, engages current ones, and delights former patients to come back.

Email marketing is a great idea for dental practices wanting to increase their conversion rates.

For example, let’s say that 100 people downloaded your dental eBook about how to maintain a bright smile.

Because these individuals downloaded this eBook, they are likely interested in teeth whitening, which your practice offers.

Therefore, you can create a series of email newsletters to send to this specific audience to encourage them to book an appointment with your practice.

If your dental practice is not sending weekly emails to current, prior, and prospective customers, you’re missing out on revenue.

8. Use Blogging to create value for your potential patients.

Last but not least on this list of dental marketing ideas, is blogging.

Blogging serves one primary purpose for your dental practice – to increase website traffic and engagement. 

You can educate your audience on the benefits of routine dental maintenance, as well as the consequences that follow if they fail to maintain their dental hygiene.

For example, you might right a blog on the common causes or symptoms ofgingivitis or other popular gum diseases. Anyone searching the Internet for content like this, and reading blogs like this, are likely in need of a dentist.

Covering topics like these can surely help get some extra visibility and traffic to your website. And eventually, lead to more appointments.

Start by identifying topics that relates to specific pain paints, challenges, and goals of your audience. And then write valuable blogs about those topics.

Blogs and opinions online about dental practices are an important part of the buyer journey. And it is important enough not to be missed out on. Showcasing patient reviews, highlighting services that can cure their common pains or even new promotions can lead to them booking an appointment with you.

Now you tell us, what do you think would happen if your practice started to implement some of these dental marketing ideas?

How much different would your practice be? How many more customers would you have? How many more locations could you open?

Every dental practice is unique with unique customers. And these ideas can help you run in the marketing world but a brief chat with us about your business can help you implement a concrete dental marketing plan. A tactical plan that can set your business apart from competitors in a way that you will no longer need to search the web for blogs, eBooks, or webinars to tell you how to grow your dental business.

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3 Content Marketing Strategies for Healthcare Providers

3 Content Marketing Strategies for Healthcare Providers | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

2019 Content Marketing Strategies to Increase Website Traffic

Over the last few years, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes have become a major problem in the US. Coupled with the rising costs of healthcare, more and more Americans are starting to think about their health.

In today’s digital age, if someone is beginning to realize the importance of health and wellness, what do you think they do first?

They go online to look for answers.

According to research by Pew, approximately 8 out of 10 Americans use search engines as their primary source of health-related information. More often than not, though, they don’t find information that will actually help them.

This is where content marketing comes in. By developing superior content marketing strategies, you’ll be able to provide helpful information to your audience and drive traffic to your website—boosting your revenue in the process.

Don’t know where to start? Here are three content marketing strategies that will help you get a headstart.

1. Write high-quality blog posts

Blogging is the cornerstone of content marketing. No content strategy would be complete without a blog, and your facility is no exception. In order to reach your intended audience, you should have a blog page on your website.

However, blogging is more than just posting articles on your website on a regular basis for the sake of publicity. All healthcare providers do that, so it’s nothing new. If you want to stay ahead of the competition, you need to offer your audience something else.

Instead of generating new content just so you can promote your brand of healthcare, use your blog page as an opportunity to both educate and help your audience.

For example, you can write something like: how to find the best healthcare provider for your needs.

You can even write on a topic like: how to stay healthy and avoid frequent visits to the doctor. This type of content might not make more patients flock to your facility, but it does something much more valuable to you in the long run—it builds trust.

When you publish a blog post that provides your audience with helpful advice, you let them know that you care about them and that you have their health in mind. As a result, they’re more inclined to choose you as their healthcare provider when the need does arise.

2. Create infographics

Regardless of the quality of your blog posts, your audience will soon get bored of reading plain old text again and again. Change it up once in a while by creating infographics.

In terms of what your infographics are going to be about, you have no shortage of options. You can do an infographic on healthcare trends to watch out for in 2019 or new medical technologies that will benefit patients around the world.

You can even create infographics based on data you already have. To communicate the quality of healthcare that you provide, you can do an infographic that shows data such as the number of patients you’ve treated in a certain period of time, the number of successful operations performed in your facility, or how many doctors or nurses have tenured at your facility.

The possibilities to create infographics that your audience will find helpful and enjoy reading are literally endless. If you need some inspiration, take a look at this infographic.

Creating an infographic takes time and effort.

You’ll have to collect all the necessary data, create meaningful content around that data, and work with your design team (whether in-house or outsourced) in order to produce an informative and well-designed infographic.

Despite the challenge, the time and effort you spend will definitely be worth it. If you did your infographic right, you’ll drive more traffic to your website, increase awareness for your brand, and more easily engage with your audience.

3. Promote your content via email marketing.

Here’s a scenario: you’ve just released a wide array of brand new content. So how do you get people to read them and drive more traffic to your site?

You can maximize the reach of your content by promoting it with email marketing. Send newsletters to your subscribers and let them know that you’ve just published new content. A good number of your subscribers most likely don’t visit your website and check your blog every single day, so informing them of new content is always a good idea.

You can also segment your lists to determine which of your subscribers will be interested in a specific blog post or infographic. Sending relevant content to your subscribers increases the likelihood of them opening the email and consuming your content.

To get rid of the hassle of creating the emails you’ll need to send out, take advantage of email templates. The great thing about email templates is that they’re not just for creating emails to promote your content. You can use them to create other types of emails such as event announcements or company updates.

Wrap up

Revamp your content marketing today. By keeping these simple yet effective strategies in mind, you’ll gain the trust of not just your existing patients, but also other people who might be looking for a new healthcare provider. When you create meaningful content, you’ll encourage your audience to keep coming back to your website and therefore get more traffic.

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Healthcare Marketing: How to Drive Results in 2019

Healthcare Marketing: How to Drive Results in 2019 | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Healthcare marketing has come a long way in the last few years, especially when it comes to integrating technology and adopting a digital-first mindset. This evolution is due in part to sweeping changes in the industry, like value-based care, an influx of new players, like retail health, and the continual growth consumer power (ie consumerism).

As a result, hospitals and health systems need to adjust their strategy and focus on superior, personalized experiences to acquire, engage, and (most importantly) retain patients. If you can’t pivot quickly, you’ll lose to the competition—or worse, your marketing investments will simply create demand for them.

The key to success in 2019 pushing the foundation marketers have built in the last couple of years further. In other words, it’s time to take advantage of technology and digital tactics to move the needle on personalization efforts at scale and bring revenue into the organization. Let’s review what it’s going to take to drive results this year:

 

Prioritize the Customer Experience

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that providing superior customer experiences is paramount to long-term success for healthcare organizations. With the sheer amount of care options now available, the reality is: if you aren’t giving consumers the experience they want, they’ll find a new provider. And many are. 47% of respondents in a recent study said they used a walk-in or retail clinic last year. Consumers want convenient and quality experiences.

With today’s market being so competitive and the cost of acquiring new customers five times that of retaining one, marketers’ focus should be on creating care experiences that result in patients for life. Here are three key elements for success:

1. Data & Technology

The first step on the road to better customer experiences is having the right data and the right technology. For today’s marketers, having an HCRM in place should be the baseline. Not only is it a repository for consumer information not available in clinical systems (like communication preferences and social media profiles) but it also weaves together data from other sources to create comprehensive patient profiles. This may include behavioral, financial, call center, provider credentialing information, and more.

Most importantly, a CRM analyzes this data to provide best next action insights. Leveraging these insights, marketers execute precision marketing plans that reach highly-targeted audiences with relevant and valuable campaign messaging deployed through consumers’ preferred communication channels. The end result is a personalized and engaging outreach strategy that furthers both acquisition andretention efforts, because it feels tailor-made for each consumer.

 

2. Marketing Automation

One of the significant challenges marketers face when it comes to personalizing the patient journey is how to scale it. A marketing automation solution, like Salesforce Marketing Cloud®, is a critical tool for doing just that, by automating tasks and communication workflows. This tool should be used for both acquisition efforts (as in, nurturing consumers until a point of conversion), population health programs, and retention initiatives.

Automated workflows allow the team to nurture existing patients who have already taken multiple actions, say, had surgery and a follow-up appointment, without the risk of human error. Valuable and consistent communication (like an email reminder for flu shot providers in their area) establishes a partnership between the individual and provider—thereby creating loyalty and trust that leads to long-term retention.

3. Cross-Team Collaboration

There’s no shortage of moving pieces when it comes to healthcare organizations, from the physician team to operations to marketing. The problem is, many departments operate in silos despite working toward the same goal: creating a better care experience.

To create an experience that truly feels personalized across all channels and all touchpoints, cross-team collaboration is critical. In some cases, marketers need to spearhead this effort by opening up a line of communication, sharing key data, and aligning workflows across departments.

Take marketing and the call center as an example. These are two departments that traditionally don’t communicate at all, and yet the call center is the first touchpoint for 75 percent of consumers. If that first touchpoint isn’t aligned with consumer expectations, you’ve missed an opportunity to create a memorable and personalized first impression. Fortunately, through cross-team collaboration—backed by technology, integrations, and data—creating a unified experience through the “digital” front door is completely within reach. It’s becoming the new foundation.

Unite Your Marketing Technology

In 2018, we saw a surge in hospital marketing teams integrating key technology systems—like the CRM, CMS, marketing automation, and more—into their workflow and strategy. Moving into 2019, marketers must link these systems in order to fully deliver on their core promise, providing a reliable and consistent experience for consumers.

That requires harmonization of these technologies, which means integrating workflows, data, and personalization efforts. Some marketers may already be getting a glimpse of why this is critical, with the implementation of an HCRM and marketing automation tool. Without a reliable architecture like a content management system to tie these pieces together, the result is fragmented content delivery and an inconsistent experience for consumers.

Another key piece to the technology puzzle is the EMR, something with which marketing previously had little to no contact. In an effort to further personalize efforts and ensure seamless engagement with consumers and patients, we need integrate our efforts with the clinical data available in the EMR and allow EMR data to inform propensity models for better ongoing segmentation and identification of at-risk populations. Much of it is intrinsically related to marketing efforts, especially things like doctor names and appointment times. These were data points previously excluded from marketing communication, but certainly play a role in creating a much more personalized customer experience.

Integrating your marketing stack with other enterprise systems will require IT support. This can be uncharted waters for marketing teams.

Integrate Physicians into Your Strategy

When we talk about consumer marketing in healthcare, physicians are often missing from the conversation. But, in our efforts to personalize the customer experience, physicians—the one with the most personal relationship with patients of all—need to be involved.

For example, marketers should integrate physician liaison outreach teams into the campaign strategy, before the campaigns even launch. This means that the first communication should be going to physicians, highlighting what the campaign messaging will be, what communication channels will be used, and what the target audience is. That way, practice groups are prepped to reinforce and answer questions that come up when the campaign goes live.

The goal with this is two-fold: 1) physicians are operationally ready to service those consumers, and 2) patients’ in-person experience is consistent with the marketing messages they received.

Final Thoughts

An alarming 81 percent of consumers today are unsatisfied with their healthcare experience, and the ones who are happy have the least interaction with their health system. This is a clear sign that its time to change. With the right strategy and technology in place, marketing plays a significant part in helping health systems achieve business and experiences goals throughout the care journey, from a consumer’s first touchpoint to ongoing care management. And possibly most important, when executed effectively, marketing is seen in a new light within the organization. They move from being seen as a cost center to a strategic revenue driver, helping the entire organization understand where there are new opportunities in the market and presenting plans to drive the right kind of engagement.

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Can Snapchat position itself as a superior social platform for pharma marketers? –

Can Snapchat position itself as a superior social platform for pharma marketers? – | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

As reported by CNBC, which reviewed a pitch deck from the Los Angeles-based social media company, Snapchat is making the case that it offers “a more comfortable place for users to talk about their sensitive health conditions, ranging from excessive sweating to sexually transmitted infections.”

While Snapchat is far more robust and public a platform than it was when it launched as an app for sharing disappearing photos with friends, it still makes it easier for users to share with each other privately and the company doesn’t have the reputational problems Facebook does around privacy.

The company’s pitch deck says that Snapchat users are “more likely to treat and diagnose” a number of conditions, including arthritis, asthma, diabetes and migraines. It also points out the fact that Snapchat can offer access to younger consumers.

According to Snapchat’s data, 34% of the 81 million North American users who use Snapchat daily are between the ages of 18 and 24, and 26% are between the ages of 25 to 34.

The not-so-subtle message to pharma marketers: Snapchat isn’t Facebook and its unique characteristics could make it a more effective platform for direct-to-consumer engagement.

Embracing Technology in Digital Marketing: Pharma and Healthcare

New year, same story?

 

Of course, while Snapchat appears to be making a concerted effort to appeal to pharma marketers, its 2019 pitch to pharma is not exactly a new one. Many of its key differentiators, such as the more private nature of its platform and younger audience, have been talked about in the context of pharma marketing for years.

Yet while pharma giants such as Merck have run campaigns on Snapchat, Facebook has continued to capture the bulk of pharma marketers’ social ad spend for a simple reason: it offers the largest audience.

But should pharma marketers start thinking a little less about reach?

Even if Snapchat’s efforts to lure more pharma marketing dollars prove less effective than the company hopes, there are aspects of the pitch that pharma marketers have good reason to pay attention to.

Perhaps the most important one is that relating to private communications.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently unveiled a new vision for a “privacy-focused” company. While there is significant skepticism about whether Zuckerberg’s new vision marks a meaningful shift the company’s strategy or is posturing for PR and regulatory purposes, his missive clearly reflects the fact that there does appear to be an undeniable consumer trend away from public to private.

While it’s not clear that Snapchat has or will be able to establish a long-term advantage over Facebook in helping marketers work their way into social interactions that are more private in nature, there’s no denying that Facebook, in part because of the hit its reputation has taken in recent times, will likely face some unique challenges in developing ad offerings for platforms like Messenger and WhatsApp.

The latter in particular, which has more than 1.5 billion daily active users, could be challenging for Facebook to monetize through ads because WhatsApp chats are encrypted end-to-end by default, meaning the company has far more limited data about the context of WhatsApp interactions. Data, of course, is a big part of Facebook’s ad offerings.

While marketers wait to see how Facebook, Snapchat and others play the privacy trends that are emerging, it already appears likely that dark(er) social is going to be a critical part of social, if not the dominant part, and marketers will need to adapt their approaches to social if they don’t want to wake up one morning and discover that they are missing out in a big way.

Marketing in the Dark: Dark Social

The effects of the shift to greater private social engagement could be especially significant for pharma companies, which are required to monitor and report adverse events to regulators. This includes content posted online by patients.

As social gets “darker”, firms might find that while this alleviates the amount of reporting they have to do, they might also see a reduced ability to gather consumer feedback.

 
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Desperate families turn to social media for medical funds appeal

Desperate families turn to social media for medical funds appeal | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

It started with a persistent tooth ache that would keep Geoffrey Ng’etich, 53, reeling in pain the whole day. His wife Irene Ng’etich says they decided to visit a dispensary in Kericho for treatment.

 

They were given strong pain killers and a referral to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret as the dispensary lacked equipment to diagnose the root cause of Ng’etich’s tooth ache and the growth on his jaw. It is in Eldoret that they got a cancer diagnosis. He had low grade sarcoma and was advised to start treatment immediately.

 

“We had the NHIF card but it only catered for a small fraction of the bill. He could not start chemotherapy, so we brought him home,” says Irene.

 

Through the help of friends, the small scale farmer made a medical funds appeal on social media. A poster of his ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture was posted to show social media users the extent of the illness and what it means to lack money for treatment.

 

SEE ALSO :Oparanya to spend close to Sh3billion on projects

“The pain is driving him crazy. He shivers when the tooth aches. The tumour has spread to his nose. He struggles to breath. His ears are blocking. He does not sleep; he wails and there is nothing we can do. We hope people on social mediawill see it and help us raise the money,” says Irene.

 

She says with each passing day, she shudders at what could be happening in her husband’s body, as the cancerous cells grow.

 

Their family is among Kenyans who resort to social media to seek funds for treatment.

 

Faith Nkirote, a single mother of two boys, has a heart-wrenching story on what happens when healthcare becomes inaccessible.

 

Her baby Jeremy was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was seven weeks. The painful grunts and mild convulsions he had since he was born was found to be a result of cancer that was ravishing his tiny body. He was put on medicationand went into remission after several months of treatment.

 

SEE ALSO :Tricks used by hospitals to milk billions from NHIF

Last year, just before Jeremy’s fifth birthday, doctors noticed swollen lymph nodes under his skin. The cancer was recurring and they needed to act fast to destroy the cells.

 

“I need Sh3.5 million for a bone marrow transplant. NHIF only caters for Sh500,000 so I have to look for the rest,” says Nkirote.

 

She has put up a medical funds appeal on social media. Every day she hopes she will raise the money that will enable her travel with her son to India. “All I have left is hope,” she says.The cases highlight the struggles families go through when they get a diagnosis that requires several hospital visits or surgery. Diana Njeri, a social worker in Mathare North says in slums, they have come up with networks that save money for medical emergencies. “We realised we can no longer rely on government to provide healthcare. So the ‘chamas’ here are for emergencies such as sickness. When the disease is chronic, there are people who just give up,” she says.

 

A search on Facebook and Twitter reveals the reality of how thousands of Kenyans turn to social media to raise money for treatment.

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Picture Perfect: Social Media and Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Picture Perfect: Social Media and Body Dysmorphic Disorder | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a disorder where one is preoccupied with an imagined defect in their physical appearance or when one has a distorted perception of their body image (Alavi et al., 2011; Franca et al., 2017; Ribeiro, 2017) which causes distress and hinders daily life functionality (APA, 2000). It stems from the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder spectrum and individuals must show the following signs in order to be diagnosed and treated:

  • Fixation with one or more perceived defects in appearance which are not visible to others
  • Repetitive behaviors and/or mental acts regarding appearance – mirror checking, excessive grooming, reassurance seeking
  • Significant distress and impairment in social, occupational and other functioning areas
  • Obsession with the appearance isn’t better explained by an eating disorder

Categories of BDD:

Mild/Moderate Symptoms:

  • Non-significant impairment in global functioning.
  • Appearance concerns are localized.
  • Concerns are realistic to psychosocial norms

Severe Symptoms:

  • Patients show impairment in global functioning and display avoidant behavior
  • May have depressive or anxious symptoms
  • Extremely preoccupied with defect and have delusional beliefs about appearance – may indulge in constant mirror checking or even self mutilation
  • Cosmetic procedures seem like a safety net

Both Severe and Mild Symptoms:

  • Frequent anxiety regarding appearance
  • Constantly checking mirrors and comparing self to others
  • Display referential thinking, feeling that others feel the same way about the defects
  • Resorting to unnecessary cosmetic/dermatological procedures and making abnormal demands to surgeons

Social Interaction or Social Altercation?

Social interactions have long been the primary way of human survival. Programmed by genetics to survive in packs, human interaction is one of the most important evolutionary behaviors. However, as time passed, the world changed.

So did people.

Interacting with people doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy survival. With negative behaviors of the likes of derogatation, racism and stereotyping being displayed, those with sensitivities to physical appearances might not fare too well.

Cognitive-Behavioral and Learning models have claimed that negative experience of body image (bullying, teasing) at an impressionable age condition values and beliefs about attractiveness and body image. Usually, these are accompanied with anxiety, shame or disgust at one’s appearance. (Neziroglu et al., 2008).

A study also found out that children who suffered from emotional, sexual and physical abuse may show tendencies towards developing BDD, stemming from the results of a study that showed 38% of 50 BDD patients reported abuse (Neziroglu et al., 2006).

Lifestyle

Nearly 93% of adolescents have access to the internet and 89% of the 18-29 year age group is active on social networking pages. With internet becoming a very staunch source of learning, there’s no escaping what it has got in store. (Madden et al., 2013; Neziroglu, 2004)

Adolescents consider the perfect selfie picture on their social media feed as a measurement to achieving popularity amongst their peers. While these kids upload their selfies to win the beauty race, they’re also internalizing the dark message of beauty media, peers and others are enforcing on them.

The Dark Side of Social Media

With the advent of social media, where mainstream channels like YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Tinder, Bumble and various other channels of online social interaction exist, so does the problem of realistic beauty standards.

With brilliant photo shopping programs available for free downloads on smart phones, the world is now putting their most glamorous face forward. With options to edit your physical features like eyes, nose, ears and lips, and even change skin tone, hair and eye color, our social media feed is full of picture perfect people.

With BDD developing in adolescence, and the legal age of social media memberships being lowered to early teenage years, the presence of such perfect pictures has reinforced unrealistic beauty standards on adolescents worldwide, conditioning them to appreciate computer generation perfection. Never-before-seen freckles, a slight turn of the nose, a small scar behind the ear – all these things begin to look unappealing.

Preying on the Weak: Social Media and Self Esteem

Creating and online identity has become a very common phenomenon. Those with body image concerns can take it too far and let it impose body image concerns on them, especially females. In fact, a psychiatrist remarked that 2/3 of his BDD patients felt the compulsion to repeatedly take selfies and upload them on social media

The Selfie Fiasco

Females with BDD have rigid and perfectionist views about how they should look, indulging in negative self evaluation and low self esteem (Wilhelm, 2006). Such individuals try to indulge their narcissistic tendencies by uploading selfie photos on social media to gain validation, and according to the self verification theory, this is a means to receive self verification through positive feedback; for those with serious body issues, the constant need to seek appreciation and comparisons with others causes depression (Sawnn, 1983).

Research has also shown that since 2013, there’s been a 10% rise in rhinoplasty procedures, 7% increase in hair transplants, and a 6% increase in eyelid surgeries (Vats, 2015).

Snapchat Dysmorphia

In early 2018, the negative effects of filters on applications like Snapchat and Instagram were highlighted. Patients had begun to visit plastic surgeons and demanded to look like their filtered pictures, leading one doctor to politely counsel his patient to look towards psychotherapy to correct her body image.

A professor at Northwestern University has remarked how the unrealistic manipulation of features, skin tone and looks had led individuals to lose perspective on how they really look, and doctors are now being warned to look out for BDD tendencies in their patients.

Follow this link so see more about the Snapchat Dysmorphia.

Instagram and Orthorexi

Social media not contributes to distorted self image in the BDD disposed individuals, but also makes them turn to certain acts to achieve that picture perfect look; in some ways, BDD feeds Eating Disorders, and vice versa.

A study was conducted on Instagram influencing an eating disorder: Orthorexia Nervosa. This disorder is characterized with an obsession to eat healthy and eschew certain impure or unhealthy food groups. In this case, the echo-chamber effect of social media comes into play, where individuals perceive their own values to be common even though they may be far from the norm. The #fitspiration tag on Instagram, which follows the healthy eating movement, revealed super toned bodies alluding to healthy eating and exercise, but with dangerously objectifying elements that could harm the BDD prone (Tiggemann & Zaccardo, 2016)

Interventions for Body Image Problems Arising Due to Social Media

Mental health organizations have said that social media does not necessarily bring the onset of BDD but definitely serves as a trigger for those who are predisposed towards BDD, currently are suffering from it, or those who have low self esteem and negative self image.

Either way, real life does not come with a filter, and neither is social media going to stop introducing newer ones. Various organizations and researchers are now working together to use social media to promote positive body image.

Self Care

Practicing safe use of social media can be practiced by oneself and impose don younger children. Not interacting with social media pages that trigger body image issues and being wary of real and modified material on the internet is a must.

Parents and adults can limit their time spent on various social media applications, and monitor use of their children by observing their behavioral responses to what they are exposed to. Positive psychology has started advocating for positive self talk; practicing self esteem and self affirming self talks is one way to internalize positive feelings about oneself.

The Hashtag Control

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) has been reportedly working with social media platforms to remove certain hashtags and ban provocative feed material.

They also launched their own website in 2011, Proud2BMe, which encourages adolescents to embrace their natural bodies and have a healthy relationship with food and self image. They also promote positive hashtags.

My Journey

Various people have realized the detrimental cost to body image with photo shopping and filtering applications. Many of those recovering from Eating Disorders or trying to fight the demons of BDD are now sharing their recovery stories to encourage others with their real life examples.

Check out how this top runway model made her vitiligo her biggest strength.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT modifies distorted thought processes through intensive talk therapy. Therapists try to understand and excavate the root cause of the problem and try to help their patient modify destructive thought patterns and equip them with coping skills to fight off their triggers.

For example, in CBT for BDD, a practitioner may focus on armoring their patient’s self esteem and modifying their self body image to make them braver and more self assured.

Psychiatric Medication

Some studies have found decreased serotonin transporter density, a depletion of tryptophan, greater white matter volume, small orbitofrontal cortex and a small anterior cingulated in certain BDD patients.

To counteract the behavior which these brain differences elicit in individuals, psychiatric evaluation and medication is also a route to recovery. Serotonin agonists, fluoxetine, and various other psychotrophics are utilized in the medical treatment of the disorder.

Social Media is Here to Stay

Social media is here to stay. With millions of people having access to all sorts of people, information and interactions online, this medium of communication is now a culture of its own. Of course, with every culture, there are those who do not benefit from the majority discourse.

It’s perfectly fine to care about one’s personal grooming and putting the best face forward; however, when the desire to be the best begins to cause distress and interrupt daily life responsibilities, that is the time to seek help. With psychiatric disorders, there’s only a thin line which distinguishes acceptable from the maladaptive.

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What to do when social media goes bad | Blog

What to do when social media goes bad | Blog | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Pharmacy students often use social media channels, such as Twitter, for networking and to interact with and follow pharmacy views and opinions online. 

Although there are many positive reasons to utilise social media, it is important to remember that such interactions between individuals are often public and can be viewed by anyone online. A discussion between two pharmacy professionals could be easily observed and interpreted as unprofessional by anyone in the general public. If these interactions become heated, it is easy for those involved to forget the possible consequences.

Unprofessional behaviour on social media may be viewed by pharmacy students as normal or acceptable because they have been posted by someone they respect and admire. It therefore bears repeating that even online, individuals are representing the entire profession and are setting an example not just for those registered, but for pharmacy students too. 

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has expectations with regards to online behaviour of pharmacy professionals to ensure that social media is used to benefit the profession. The GPhC Standards for Pharmacy Professionals (2017) apply to both students and pharmacists.  This includes Standard 6: “Pharmacy professionals must behave in a professional manner” and Standard 9: “Pharmacy professionals must demonstrate leadership and take responsibility for their actions”.

As pharmacy professionals, we have a responsibility to reflect the GPhC standards at all times, even outside of working hours, to reflect the values and attitudes of the profession. Interactions on social media are not private and some comments could be viewed and seen as a form of bullying. It is also very easy for others to respond impulsively during discussions without considering potential consequences.

Individuals should consider their online audience. This not only includes friends and colleagues but also patients, who may regard the pharmacy profession differently after viewing unprofessional comments online. They may also be concerned that a pharmacist’s actions online reflect how they work in practice. Although online comments can be deleted, they can also be saved and shared beyond an individual’s control and are accessible by the public.

It is important that patients’ high regard for pharmacy is maintained, especially with the increasing number of clinical services being offered in community pharmacy. Patients need to believe that their issues and queries will be dealt with appropriately, which requires a high level of trust in their pharmacist. Comments which may be easily misinterpreted online can deter patients from using a pharmacy as their first point of contact. As mentioned in Medicines, Ethics and Practice, “pharmacists and aspiring pharmacists who use social media should do so with the same high standards which they would apply in real world situations” (RPS 2017).

If students are concerned by behaviour observed online, seek advice from university staff. Many pharmacy schools have support networks in place for issues that arise, with some academics being advocates for online safety. The first step would be to contact a trusted lecturer or personal tutor as they would be able to provide assistance. Use professional judgement to identify comments which are inappropriate and know not to act in a similar way. Although the GPhC standards are directed at pharmacy professionals, students should remember that these also apply to them throughout their studies.

Overall, the PLE Group encourages pharmacy professionals and students to use social media to network and promote themselves online, but to be aware of the GPhC standards while doing so. It is also important to be mindful that you could be associated with other individuals’ online activity. Social media is such a large part of our lives today and most people are online, whether you use Twitter for networking, Facebook for keeping up-to-date with colleagues or even your email. The profession as a whole has taken a step forward in using technology and the internet to enhance services. This offers a lot of exciting opportunities, but it comes with its own challenges.

As students, if we come across unprofessional behaviour, we should take it as a bad example of how to conduct ourselves online and remember to contact a trusted lecturer if we have any concerns. If we keep the GPhC standards in mind, we can use our social media platform to set a positive example for all pharmacy professionals to follow.

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