Social Media and Healthcare
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To post or not to post? That is the question for DOs on social media

To post or not to post? That is the question for DOs on social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Using social media to reach potential patients and connect with current patients can be an important step in growing your practice and establishing a brand. DOs who’ve learned to do so effectively have developed an awareness of what works for their practice and their goals.

Whether to tweet, share, like, follow or otherwise engage is part of the growing conversation on social media in the medical profession. More than half of millennials and more than four out of 10 adults are or would like to be friends with or follow their health care providers on social media, an AOA survey found last year.

To help DOs maneuver within the social media landscape, the AOA has developed suggestions for professional conduct on social media, which are shared below. The DO also spoke with two DOs who successfully use social media for different purposes.

‘Social media can benefit any physician’

Jonathan Bruner, DO, runs a private practice specializing in musculoskeletal medicine for women and children in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Dr. Bruner shares links to helpful health-related articles with his followers via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. “Social media can benefit any physician. You don’t have to be out there every day,” he said.

Jonathan Bruner, DO

To attract new patients, Dr. Bruner uses patient testimonials on his website. “Because of HIPAA, we cannot use patient photos, but patient reviews are highly effective,” he said.

Social media can also help physicians who aren’t currently in practice develop a brand and connect with an audience. Ron Holt, DO, a retired San Francisco-based psychiatrist, is the author of six books and creator of a video series that promotes LGBTQ advocacy and awareness. Dr. Holt has found success in sharing his advocacy efforts on social media.

“Interact with those who have a genuine interest in the same topics you do,” Dr. Holt said. “It’s not about the number of followers you have, but the quality of followers you have. It’s a slow and organic process.”

Setting limits

While using social media, setting limits is key to maintaining a professional presence, Dr. Bruner said, noting that he stays away from religion and personal details.

Jonathan Bruner, DO, shares health-related articles on social media and uses testimonials shared on social media to attract new patients.

“I try to keep it very professional. I don’t promote too much engagement,” Dr. Bruner said. “It generates discussion but it gets tricky. I actually avoid it. When you get engagement, you lose your control and now you’ve got things on your page you can’t control.”

Dr. Holt steers clear of responding in-kind to anything negative. “I do not get into politics or religion on social media. I do not engage with comments that are negative or unfavorable,” he said. “We are all entitled to our opinions, and no one wins when you engage with negativity.”

Ron Holt, DO

As physicians, DOs also need to be mindful of the power of their words, especially on the internet, Dr. Holt noted.

“As a physician, I never give professional advice on social media or post anything that would resemble forming a physician-patient relationship,” he said.

AOA suggests doctors can stay professional on social media by:

Ensuring patient confidentiality

Patient privacy is of the utmost concern under ethical requirements and state and federal privacy laws, such as HIPAA. Never post identifiable patient information on social media platforms, even if you are posting anonymously.

Maintaining professional relationships

Consider creating separate accounts/pages/handles for professional and personal interactions. It’s okay to ignore personal requests from patients on accounts that are not used for professional purposes.

Citing your sources

Just as you would cite sources if writing a letter to a medical journal, be sure to note whether information you’re posting online is based upon scientific studies, expert consensus, professional experience or personal opinion, when possible. Clearly state if opinions are your own on forums that may include patients.

Thinking before you post

Strive for accuracy, and when in doubt, pause and think carefully before posting in a public forum. Each post shared on social media platforms has the potential to negatively impact not only one’s own reputation, but also the public’s perception of the osteopathic medical profession.

Checking account privacy settings

Use strict privacy settings to limit who can access your content and/or photos wherever possible. Privacy settings on social media sites often change, so be sure to confirm settings regularly.

Disclosing conflicts of interest

Any information or advice offered on a website or social media site should clearly state financial, professional or personal information that could impact any statements made. This includes discussions, reviews, retweets or other comments on products or services.

Providing advice with caution

Be cautious when providing medical advice online. You could be liable for advice given to patients with whom you haven’t conducted an appropriate in-person exam. It’s advisable to recommend that patients seek in-person patient care for any medical concerns.

Responding appropriately

If you disagree with others’ opinions, keep your response appropriate and polite by avoiding any negative statements about other medical professionals that could be construed as libelous. Also, use caution about statements made when responding to negative comments about you or your place of employment on social media.

Renters insurance 's comment, February 13, 3:40 AM
Very true
Social Media and Healthcare
Articles and Discussions on the intersection of Social Media and Healthcare.
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Social Media Implementation Checklist

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

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How Patients Use Online Reviews

How Patients Use Online Reviews | Social Media and Healthcare |

Internet reviews sites, such as Yelp and HealthGrades, have a growing influence on medical providers’ reputations and ability to attract new patients. We’ve conducted surveys in the past showing how, why and when patients use reviews sites, and now we’re revisiting the topic with fresh data on how patients use online reviews.

One of the most interesting trends we’ve found over the years of conducting this survey is that the number of people who use online review sites to help select a new physician is growing, and that means practices that have a small online presence—or worse, a negative one—could be missing out on hundreds of new patients each year.

In this report, we’ll talk about reputation management software made just for medical providers that help you manage your online presence, as well as some tips for addressing negative reviews.

We’ve found that spending as little as 10 minutes a week cultivating your online presence and addressing feedback publicly reduce the impact of negative reviews by up to 70 percent.


Key Findings

  1. A healthy online presence is crucial for your medical practice, as this year’s findings showed that 94 percent of patients who responded to our survey use online reviews to evaluate physicians.
  2. Almost three quarters (72 percent) of patients use online reviews as the very first step to finding a new doctor, so your online reputation is often the first impression you make on many potential patients.
  3. A positive review history could bring out-of-network patients to your practice, as nearly half (48 percent) of respondents would go out of their insurance network for a provider with favorable reviews.
  4. Only 2 percent of patients leave “very negative” feedback on reviews sites, and just 10 percent leave “somewhat negative” reviews, so the majority of reviews should be either neutral or positive and therefore easier to engage with.
  5. Seventy percent of respondents feel it’s “very” or “moderately important” for providers to respond publicly to online reviews, so addressing complaints head-on (without violating HIPAA laws) is a smart strategy.


Most Patients Use Online Reviews

To collect the data for this report, we surveyed over 500 U.S. patients to ask them about their use of online reviews sites. We found that the trend of patients using online reviews sites to research medical providers continues growing.

Last year, 82 percent of respondents said they consulted reviews websites with some frequency to view or post comments and ratings for healthcare providers. This year, that number jumped to 94 percent.



If you compare that to our research back in 2013, when only 25 percent of patients used online reviews to evaluate doctors, it becomes obvious that online reviews have become a trusted and essential tool for the vast majority of patients.

The frequency with which patients use reviews sites varies, but a combined majority do so regularly: 72 percent report using them “often” or “sometimes,” while nearly a quarter of respondents use them “rarely.”

This isn’t surprising to Todd William, founder and CEO of Reputation Rhino in New York City.


Todd William

Founder and CEO of Reputation Rhino

“I think it’s clear that the internet wields a tremendous influence over people’s choices in all areas of their lives. From where to eat, what to wear, where to travel, and who to choose as their doctor. I believe health care professionals must carefully curate their online image with the same thoughtfulness and intentionality as their bedside manner or office decor.”

This data suggests patients are finding a great deal of value in online reviews of medical practices. What’s more, this dynamic can make or break a medical practice’s online reputation. It’s not just that so many patients are using reviews—it’s that those reviews are often the first thing patients see.

Search engine optimization (SEO) experts agree that user-generated content, such as reviews, is heavily weighted by search engines. This means reviews are often the first impression a patient will get of a medical provider when they search for a practice’s name.

This is especially true in the age of Google, and we found that carried out in our survey results when we asked patients which reviews sites they used the most. The majority, 37 percent, said they used Google reviews.



Fortunately, there are marketing tools specifically designed for healthcare providers that make acquiring reviews easier. Some of these systems are set up with event-based communication features that will automatically send out emails asking patients to leave reviews on popular reviews sites after they come in for an appointment.

These automated invitations help increase the number of reviews you’ll receive, making your page more visible on search engine results pages.

Of course, you want those reviews to be positive in order to ensure review readers are seeing the best of your practice, so your priority will be taking great care of your patients in order to garner positive reviews. More on that later.

Most Patients Use Online Reviews To Find New Providers

A good online reputation is important for more than just visibility.

Seventy-two percent of patients in our survey use online reviews as a way to evaluate and select a new doctor.



These results show that online reviews do play a role in patient retention, but it’s clear that most patients are consulting reviews to decide whether they should make a first appointment with a provider at all.

The good news for providers is you can leverage reviews sites as marketing channels and use them to grow your patient base thanks to healthcare CRM software. Many of these systems are equipped with dashboards that let you keep track of metrics and evaluate the success of your online marketing strategies.


Performance dashboard in Kareo‘s medical marketing software



Having this data at your fingertips allows medical professionals to identify patient engagement trends, offering greater insight on which channels new patients are using to find providers. It also reflects how current patients are interacting with the practice (e.g., via phone, email or patient portal).

Positive Reviews Could Attract Out-of-Network Patients

Almost half of respondents in our survey (48 percent) said they’d be willing to go out of their insurance network to see a provider if their reviews were better than those of an in-network provider.



When compared to the same data point back in 2013, the number of patients who are willing to pay more for an out-of-network provider has nearly doubled.

This means a significant percentage of patients are willing to overlook important factors like cost and convenience in favor of positive online reviews when selecting a new healthcare provider.

Most Patients Post Positive Reviews Online

Again, you’ll only be able to take full advantage of online reviews to attract new patients if your reviews are positive. That’s something that scares many doctors off of asking for online feedback from patients, as satisfaction is such an inconsistent thing to gauge.

The good news here is that most patients leave positive reviews for healthcare providers.

Of the patients in our survey who said they leave online reviews, a combined 72 percent of patients said they leave “very” or “somewhat positive” feedback when reviewing healthcare providers.



Physician concerns about negative reviews are incredibly common, so the fact that so many patients are sharing positive experiences online (rather than focusing on negative ones) is probably surprising to a lot of readers—and encouraging!

The data suggests that bad reviews don’t actually happen all that often, and I suspect the fear of patient feedback stems more from the perceived severity of negative reviews rather than the number of them.

We’ll talk more about how to handle these negative reviews later, but for now, let’s focus on the positive: With patient engagement and feedback software, you can easily capture these positive reviews and promote them on your own website.

Most Patients Want Providers to Respond to Negative Reviews

Unfortunately, negative reviews do happen sometimes, and based on the number of hits that come up from a Google search of “how to deal with negative patient reviews,” a lot of physicians struggle to deal with them. That’s why we asked patients whether or not they believe it’s important for providers to respond to negative reviews publicly on reviews websites.

Seventy percent said it’s either “very” or “moderately important” to them that providers answer negative reviews in a reasonable way that presents their side of the encounter.



Rick Ostopowicz is a Senior Account Executive at Nevins & Associates who has been working as a marketing and public relations specialist for twenty years. He coaches his clients on the value of responding to even the harshest reviews.


Rick Ostopowicz

Senior Account Executive at Nevins & Associates

“One thing that providers need to remember is that the responses given are not just for the patients leaving the feedback; in fact, many patients will simply rant online and then move on to rant about something or someone else. Rather, the responses should show other potential patients who are researching a practice or facility that the provider listens, empathizes, takes all feedback seriously, and addresses matters promptly (if possible).”

William agrees, and adds advice about the competitive edge responding to reviews can give providers.

“I generally advocate for responding publicly to all reviews, public or private,” he says. “It shows a responsiveness and level of engagement that distinguish ‘good’ from ‘great’ and in any competitive business, that is a huge advantage. It is also a relatively easy edge to obtain, with a minimal investment or time or resources.”

As we’ll talk more about later, a lot of patients are willing to overlook negative reviews for a number of reasons, so the key here is not to feel overwhelmed or too threatened by negative reviews and instead address them head-on.

That’s easier said than done when you consider how many individual reviews sites there are for medical professionals these days. But thanks to CRM software, you can easily monitor these reviews sites and quickly respond to serious reviews without taking too much time out of your day.

Some of these systems are even equipped to send email or text alerts directly to you when a negative review comes in so that you can provide your measured response as quickly as possible.

A few things to keep in mind when responding to negative reviews are:

  • Don’t take it personally. Things can get nasty online, but it’s imperative that you respond in a professional, courteous tone.
  • Acknowledge the reviewers’ concerns. Unless the review is entirely unreasonable or untrue, don’t spend the whole response refuting or debunking their complaints; instead, pay attention to what caused the patient to have a negative experience, acknowledge it and offer a solution if possible. (Though you should NOT offer discounts or anything like that, as doing so in a public response could encourage other reviewers to leave negative reviews in an effort to get similar compensation.)
  • Do not violate HIPAA laws. This is one of the main reasons responding to negative reviews in the healthcare industry is so difficult, because you can’t actually confirm whether or not the reviewer visited your practice or was treated by you or your team. Do your research and establish your guidelines before responding to any reviews in order to avoid costly HIPAA violations.

Here are a few more “do’s” and “don’ts” for responding to negative reviews of your medical practice:



Most Patients Disregard Implausibly Negative Reviews

Here’s some more good news: In many cases, patients reading extremely negative reviews will automatically disregard them, so the potential damage these bad reviews can have on your reputation is limited.

A combines 65 percent of patients tend to ignore negative reviews that seem unreasonable or exaggerated, and nearly two-fifths of patients overlook negative reviews if the provider responded to them thoughtfully.



Ostopowicz recognizes the validity of this data point, and gives a great example:

“Online reviews have their good points and bad points based upon the type of feedback given,” he says. “For example, someone who leaves a 1-star rating for a hospital with the comment, ‘This place should go out of business or be burned to the ground,’ is not giving any feedback that would be useful to me as a consumer. But a 1-star rating that talks in specifics—wait times, appointment issues, horrible staff attitudes—will give me pause and make me read more reviews from others.”

On the flipside, a majority of patients are at least moderately likely to select a provider based on positive reviews, with 13 percent being “extremely likely” and 34 percent being “very likely” to select a provider with positive reviews.



Clearly, patients are weighing positive reviews more heavily than negative reviews when selecting a provider.

These results show that patients are looking at reviews with a critical eye, and they won’t automatically believe everything they read. This is great news for providers who have dealt with those exaggerated and/or fake reviews, especially since many reviews sites don’t require verification before reviews can be posted.

Now, if you suspect a review is fake, you should still gather credible evidence (e.g., show your office was closed on the day the reviewer claimed they received care), then contact the website administrator to see if it can be removed.

This knowledge, combined with the number of patients who leave positive reviews, should encourage you to start asking for and promoting online reviews more than ever.

Most Patients Look for Quality of Care in Reviews

So now that you’ve embraced the power of the online review, let’s talk a bit about what kind of information patients are looking for when they’re evaluating your review history.

We asked our survey respondents to rank the most important information in three categories:

  1. General
  2. Delivery of Care
  3. Administrative
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

For our “General” category, we found that most patients are interested in reading about other patients’ experiences and ratings as well as the quality of care provided.

It’s both encouraging and unsurprising to see “quality of care” among the most important information on reviews sites. This is not only a priority for patients, but for government healthcare officials, as well. Take, for example, the transition to value-based care, a model in which provider pay is tied to the value and quality of care delivered, rather than the volume and frequency of services rendered.

For our “Delivery of Care” category, patients were most interested in the accuracy of diagnoses and then how well the provider listens to patients.

In fact, a quarter of patients selected “accuracy of diagnosis” as one of the most important elements of care delivery. That’s not surprising when you realize that about 20 percent of patients have dealt with a misdiagnosis in their lives, and the consequences for an inaccurate diagnosis can be severe. It stands to reason, then, that so many patients seek information related to diagnosis records when researching providers.

For our “Administrative” category, most patients want to know how easily they can schedule appointments and how friendly the medical staff is.

This goes to show that online reviews aren’t solely focused on the delivery of care. Thus, it’s important for providers to consider a patient’s perspective beyond the exam room. The entire office must have a good bedside manner, lest doctors risk negative ratings from patients due to issues with staff outside their control.

Next Steps: What Does All This Mean for You?

Our survey shows that medical practices must keep an eye on their existing online reviews, but providers should also be proactive about recruiting more, lest they miss opportunities to attract or retain patients.

When it comes to how patients use online reviews, most focus on writing and reading the positive stuff—so the reward eclipses the risk of occasional negative feedback.

Negative or fake reviews are still a concern. However, our data shows they are not as common as doctors may think, and can be mitigated by responding directly to the reviewer or contacting the reviews site.

Physicians interested in improving their online presence should consider taking the following steps:

  • Designate or hire a staff member to monitor and manage the online reviews presence of the practice at large as well as for individual physicians.
  • Keep the patient experience in mind from intake to diagnosis, making all communications courteous and clear along the way. In some fields, software such as PACS systems and radiology information systems can help maintain open communication with the patient through diagnosis and beyond.
  • Consider investing in a healthcare CRM system with functionality designed to support medical professionals in marketing their practices.

Methodology and Demographics

To find the data in this report, we surveyed a total sample of 854 patients in the United States. Using screening questions, we narrowed the number of respondents down to 498 with relevant experience. We worded the questions to ensure that each respondent fully understood their meaning and the topic at hand.

The gender of our survey respondents was nearly even, with 51 percent being female and 49 percent being male.



Nearly half of our respondents were between the ages of 26 and 35, with the second largest group being between 36 and 45 years old.



If you have comments or would like to obtain access to any of the charts above, please contact For more information, see our methodologies page.

Note: The information contained in this article has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. The applications selected are examples to show a feature in context, and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations.

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What it Takes to Implement a ‘Rockstar' SEO Strategy in Your Medical Practice Today

What it Takes to Implement a ‘Rockstar' SEO Strategy in Your Medical Practice Today | Social Media and Healthcare |

Search Engine Optimization could sound scary when you hear it. It sounds like the type of feature you need to specialize in to truly take advantage of. It’s a phrase used in the marketing world to make it seem as though they are the only ones who can help you understand and succeed with it. It’s something you may hear all the time and feel as though you might have a scratch-and-sniff understanding of, but not something you feel like you can make a difference in yourself. Well, guess what, my friend – you can! This process is going to give you a game plan that you can implement strong SEO inside of your practice today to help your organic rankings, not take up an immense amount of time, and make your business more profitable.

What is Search Engine Optimization (or SEO)?

First, you need to gain an understanding of what SEO is. In a literal explanation of Search Engine Optimization, the dictionary defines it as “the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.” To put it in simpler terms, it’s the way potential or existing patients are going to find your offerings online through a search engine such as Google, Bing, etc. The higher your rankings are, the easier it is for someone to find out about your products and services. Which in return will drive traffic to your website and have prospective patients filling out consultation request forms. So, greater rankings equals higher revenue opportunities.

How Do I Know What My Current SEO Rankings Are?

This is a lot simpler than you think. Take out your phone, go to a search engine, type in your highest revenue generating procedure, followed by the town your practice is in. If your practice does not show up on the first page for that phrase, then there is some work to be done. Do this task for your entire suite of services to see where the practice falls and where your efforts need to be put first. Once pinpointed where the practice is at with organic SEO, put together a strategy to bump those rankings up and stay there. Some examples of strategies are below.

What Can I Do to Help My Organic SEO Rankings?

This is the million-dollar question. One quick and easy way to grow your organic SEO within your practice is by utilizing your staff to research, structure, and write blogs that will be posted to your website. A blog is crucial to organic SEO because that is how search engines rank your website based upon unique and original content that contains crucial key words. For example, here at Crystal Clear, the staff in our sales department once a month writes a blog on a service or subject that is common here. This allows the staff to have a deeper understanding of what is offered and create a stronger and more effective organic SEO presence. Have your team each write a short blog (at least 750 words) like this that details out what your practices offer. For example, if you are a med spa, ‘What are the benefits to Botox?’ could be a great topic for someone in the practice to write about. By doing this, it puts your practice in a great position to win the battle of SEO in your local area. When it comes to organically ranking pages on your website the number one thing to remember is content is king. The more original content you and your team can produce the better your rankings will be.

Organic SEO vs. Paid Search

This is a topic that could be discussed for multiple blogs. The difference between the two is really a philosophical belief. Putting together an organic SEO strategy that is going to get you ranked for your top keywords and phrases and keep you ranked is more of a long-term solution. Whereas paid search such as “Google Ads” is more of a short-term solution. Sometimes to see the results you are looking for it takes a blend of both, but do not put yourself in a position where you are a slave to paid search. Think about this, you could be doing great through some paid ads and consistently receive traffic through this method, but if for some reason Google decides that your phrase and keyword is worth more in your area, you are then subject to paying that price because you didn’t do the dirty work of getting yourself on page one for those keywords or phrases in the interim.

Make More Money. Have More Fun!

Has there ever been a better headline than that? Obviously, if we are in an industry like aesthetic medicine, we’re not trying to run a nonprofit. Some practice owners employee ten, twenty, and some as many as fifty employees. This means you have a fiduciary responsibility to do exactly that. Make more money. In order to do this, you must wire your brain and align your goals for growth. Putting yourself in a position where the practice is consistently working on your organic SEO is inherently going to help with growth. This strategy for organic SEO is not going to change your practice over night, but it will help you win the long-term battle. Organic SEO is just one spoke on the wheel of your digital marketing ecosystem. In order to maximize your practice’s fullest potential, it takes a fully comprehensive solution that runs in the background of your practice and funnels the right type of patients to the door. The best part about that is that Crystal Clear Digital Marketing was created to do just that. We are here to help practices find, serve and keep more patients profitably. If you are ready to take on the digital marketing battle, Crystal Clear is ready to fight by your side. Contact us today to set up a free online demonstration to see just exactly what we can bring to your practice.

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A shockingly large majority of health news shared on Facebook is fake

A shockingly large majority of health news shared on Facebook is fake | Social Media and Healthcare |

Just how factually accurate are most health articles you come across? You might be savvy enough to sort Goop from the Mayo Clinic, but when it comes to traditional news outlets, you might also be surprised to learn how much false information is really out there.


Health Feedback, a bipartisan network of scientists who collectively assess the credibility of health media coverage, worked together with the Credibility Coalition to examine the 100 most popular health articles of 2018–specifically, those with the highest number of social media engagements. They studied stories from numerous well-known websites, such as Time, NPR, the Huffington PostDaily MailNew Scientist, CNN, and more.

Of the top 10 shared articles, scientists found that three quarters were either misleading or included some false information. Only three were considered “highly credible.” Some lacked context of the issue, exaggerated the harms of a potential threat, or overstated research findings. Many writers either twisted data or simply couldn’t properly interpret it. Others, it seems, had an agenda.

Consider a Guardian story titled “Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?” (shared 469,000 times), which was found to be “not credible and potentially harmful.” The author suggested that most cases of depression are not due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, but from a lack of fulfillment in one’s life.


Health Feedback scientists noted that The Guardian article never backs up its claims with links to original sources or research studies to support its findings.

“This article is an excerpt from a provocative book written by a lay person who is clearly anti-psychiatry, so there is no pretense of providing evidence (except cherry-picking evidence which supports his views) or a balanced viewpoint,” writes Raymond Lam, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Psychiatry. “It is full of wild exaggerations, oversimplifications and inaccuracies.”

The top 10 list featured some real head-scratchers, like one piece declaring bacon as harmful as cigarettes (shared 587,000 times). Timemagazine, however, published two credible health articles that made that top 10 list, including “Stem Cell Treatment Could Be A Game-Changer for MS Patients” ( shared 561,000 times).

Health Feedback approximates that of these 10 articles, 2.1 million shares (33%) had very low scientific rating, while 2.6 million shares (41%) ranked neutral. The smallest category belonged to those deemed highly scientific at 1.7 million shares (26%).

Researchers then went on to examine the top 100 articles, many of which were also shared in the hundreds of thousands. The top three topics were:

  • disease/disease treatment
  • food and nutrition
  • vaccinations (of course)

In terms of overall credibility, slightly less than half achieved a high credibility rating. However, highly rated articles received 11 million shares, while poorly rated articles had roughly 8.5 million shares. Of the latter category, there was a piece that linked ramen noodles to Alzheimer’s, and another that claimed onions can be used to treat ear infections.

The Health Feedback team believes the high share of misleading reporting is partially due to sensationalized headlines that grab readers’ attention. More balanced pieces lack clickbait framing. “This means that the general public is more likely to come into contact with misleading information than accurate ones on social media,” says the research team.

Given the way social media algorithms incentivize engagement, this is not terribly surprising: Fake news has been shown to spread faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information, according to a recent report in Science. False stories often prey on emotions like fear, disgust, or surprise, and people are more likely to share what moves them. That it’s novel makes it all the more appealing.

The rampant spread of inaccurate health claims across the internet prompted the AMA Journal of Ethics to call for clinicians to clear up fake information with their patients. Ultimately, this troubling trend poses public health risks, as evidenced by the recent rise of anti-vaccination content.

Health Feedback found that fake health news predominantly spreads on Facebook. The social media platform accounts for 96% of shares of the top 100 articles, followed by Reddit accounts (2%) and Twitter (1%).

Facebook is aware of the issue: As we reported earlier this year, the social media giant deleted dozens of pages dedicated to fringe or holistic medicine in an apparent crackdown on pseudoscience.

The purge reportedly began in June, several months after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly vowed to crack down on fake news.While that term is typically associated with politics, misinformation is not limited to partisan topics. Alternative health pages have been known to spread misleading or false information about medicinal remedies that are not backed by traditional science.

Facebook’s efforts may have been well intentioned, but its health news purge attracted criticism by those who viewed it as an attack on holistic or Eastern health practices. The Global Freedom Movement, an alternative media site, reported that Facebook purged over 80 accounts and that “no reason was provided.”

This included rather large accounts focused on health, natural remedies, and organic living, such as Just Natural Medicine (1 million followers), Natural Cures Not Medicine (2.3 million followers), and People’s Awakening (3.6 million followers). Small accounts with under 15,000 followers were also hit.

Susan Krenn, executive director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, told Fast Company she’s seen a noticeable increase in inaccurate and downright false stories on social media platforms. Often, such postings possess far more sway than content outlets.

“It’s a challenge, because when you see something posted on your social media site that comes from one of your peers, colleagues, or family members, you are more likely to believe it,” said Krenn.

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The Building Blocks of Successful Digital Marketing for Pediatric Practices

The Building Blocks of Successful Digital Marketing for Pediatric Practices | Social Media and Healthcare |

Pediatricians often face the challenge of trying to distinguish their practice from generalist primary care physicians and family practices. In the constantly changing healthcare environment, pediatric practices must beat out the competition with savvy digital marketing in order to be successful. Parents selecting medical care for their children want to make the best possible choice, and it’s your practice’s job to make sure that you’re connecting with these families and showing how your practice stands out. We’ve put together a more detailed look at the building blocks to using digital marketing successfully to ensure you connect with families and turn them into loyal patients. 

Understanding Your Target Market – New Parents 

The first thing you must do to market your pediatric practice successfully is to understand your target market – parents. While your patients are children and adolescents, it’s their parents that you must target with your digital marketing efforts. Parents are your target audience, but how can you reach them? You also need to understand how parents today are connecting with medical practices. Primarily, people head to the internet whether they’re searching for a restaurant or a doctor. In fact, Americans are searching online more than ever, with statistics showing that Google processes more than 40,000 search queries each second. That’s more than 3.5 billion searches each day.

Your practice also needs to keep in mind that a large section of your target audience is now made up of Millennials. Research shows that 40% of millennials are now parents, which translates to over 32 million people. According to Forbes, millennial parents behave differently in the way they consume services, and most of them do turn to the web when deciding on buying choices of any kind. In short – what worked in the past may not work when you’re trying to attract today’s parents to your practice. 

Ranking Your Pediatric Website on Page One of the Google Search 

You know that today’s parents are searching online for pediatricians, and more than 300,000 Google searches are done every month in the U.S. for pediatricians. The key to harnessing people looking for a local pediatric practice is ensuring that your practice’s website shows up on page one of the Google search. Most people won’t move on to page two.

How do you accomplish this? Good SEO is critical. You need to optimize your website with the right keywords to increase your rankings for specific markets and keywords. One of the best ways to do so is to make sure you’re ranking well in local searches so your website is at the top when parents start looking for a local pediatrician on Google. 

Designing a Pay-Per-Click Campaign for Your Pediatric Practice

Many pediatric practices find that a well-designed pay-per-click campaign comes with big payoffs. With paid search, you can target your ads to the specific consumers you’re trying to bring into your office. Geo-modifiers can be used to ensure you’re eliminating casual browsers so you’re only paying for the right leads. 

Harnessing the Power of Social Advertising 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, social media and social advertising offer some unique opportunities for marketing your business. It’s critical to have an effective social media presence so you’re able to connect with people across various social platforms. With the use of social advertising, it’s possible to enhance your branding efforts. If you’re not already harnessing the power of social sites like Facebook and Instagram, it’s time to learn how if you’re going to connect with millennial parents. 

Improved Website Design for a Better First Impression 

It’s not just important to ensure your website is ranked on the first page of Google – you also have to make sure your website makes an excellent first impression. The first impression parents get of your pediatric practice is often based upon your website. Your website should be user-friendly, engaging, and informative. It’s not enough to get people to your site – you have to make a good impression and engage them once they’re there. Some tips for better website design include: 

  • Optimization for mobile devices (since many parents are searching from a smartphone or tablet)
  • Patient portals
  • Chatbots that answer patient questions 24-hours a day
  • Online appointment booking
  • Social integration 

Reputation Management for Pediatric Practices 

Since many parents are now searching for pediatricians online, your practice’s online reputation really matters. Millennial parents often make their decisions based upon the reviews they read of practices online. Negative reviews have the potential to cause serious harm to your business. You work hard to build a great reputation – it’s an essential asset. Maintaining it is critical. Reputation management includes practices like monitoring online reviews, setting up profiles and monitoring reviews at online healthcare marketplaces like ZocDoc or Healthgrades. Asking happy patients to leave reviews of your practice can also help you build an excellent online reputation.

In today’s competitive healthcare marketplace, it’s important for your pediatric practice to have a good digital marketing strategy in place. From knowing your target audience to ensuring your website makes a great first impression, these strategies can help you acquire new patients and generate referrals, growing your business in 2019. To learn more about how M-Scribe can help your business grow and boost revenue, contact us today for more information.

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Tips on how to Use Social Media in Healthcare: A Information for Well being Professionals >

Tips on how to Use Social Media in Healthcare: A Information for Well being Professionals > | Social Media and Healthcare |

Trendy lives are going digital, and healthcare is not any exception. Social networks have turn out to be an necessary well being useful resource, and never only for millenials. Practically 90 p.c of older adults have used social media to hunt and share well being data.

It may be onerous to know easy methods to navigate the healthcare social media guidelines. Suppliers, businesses, and types have to create informative, participating social content material. On the identical time, that you must comply with trade guidelines and rules.

On this put up, we have a look at the various advantages of utilizing social media in healthcare. We additionally present some tips about easy methods to hold your social channels compliant and safe.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media technique information with professional tips about easy methods to develop your social media presence.

Advantages of social media in healthcare

Elevate consciousness and counter misinformation

“Well being care methods should present trusted data on immunization, flu virus, remedy, ebola, you identify it.” So says Michael Yoder, the social media guide for Spectrum Well being. Social media is a key approach to get that data to the general public.

On the identical time, in a world of “faux information,” there’s plenty of well being misinformation on social networks.

Dr. Zubin Damania is healthier identified on social as ZDoggMD. His enjoyable social movies counter unfaithful and irresponsible well being claims. He has constructed a neighborhood of greater than one million followers on his Fb web page.


On Twitter, Dr. David Juurlink shares necessary details about the continued opioid disaster. He’s additionally devoted to taking down well being non-science.

I’ve reviewed 
the detox
you discovered on
the Web

and which
you had been in all probability
for New Yr’s

Consider me
it’s irrational 
so unscientific
and so dumb

— David Juurlink (@DavidJuurlink) December 29, 2018

Disaster communication

Extra folks now get their information from social media than from newspapers. That makes social a key place to share breaking data. It’s an ideal platform for essential directions throughout a well being disaster.

Hurricane Mangkhut hit the Philippines in September 2018. Because it approached, the World Well being Group turned to its social channels. The group posted infographics about staying protected throughout and after the hurricane.

Listed here are issues that you are able to do earlier than Hurricane #RositaPH (worldwide identify: #Yutu) hits. Keep protected!

— World Well being Group Philippines (@WHOPhilippines) October 29, 2018

The American Well being Attorneys Affiliation, the American Society for Healthcare Danger Administration, and the Society for Healthcare Technique and Market Growth labored collectively to create a fast, free information to disaster communications in healthcare. Listed here are a few of their key factors that can assist you put together for a disaster upfront.

Establish key stakeholders, a main contact, and a spokesperson
Know what to do within the first 5 minutes of a disaster
Construct belief together with your viewers–together with your inside viewers

Wish to be sure to’re prepared to make use of social media in a healthcare disaster state of affairs? Take a look at our put up on social media disaster administration.

Public well being monitoring

Individuals put up about every little thing on-line, together with their well being. Hashtags like #flu can reveal when illnesses are popping up in new areas. Public well being organizations may even get a way of the severity of signs.

“Social media affords benefits over conventional information sources, together with real-time information availability, ease of entry, and diminished price. Social media permits us to ask, and reply, questions we by no means thought potential.” So wrote professors Michael Paul and Mark Dredze of their e book, Social Monitoring for Public Well being.

Official healthcare social media channels also can present real-time well being data.

For instance, have a look at the Facilities for Illness Management’s tweets throughout flu season. They share updates on flu exercise throughout america to encourage folks to get a flu shot.

Newest #FluView report says #flu exercise continues to extend nationally. With weeks of #fluseason but to come back, it isn’t too late to get a flu vaccine:

— CDC Flu (@CDCFlu) January 2, 2019

Citizen engagement

Healthcare points will be tough to speak about, even with docs, particularly for topics seen as non-public or embarrassing. That may get in the way in which of efficient healthcare.

For instance, based on the American Sexual Well being Affiliation (ASHA), solely 12 p.c of younger folks mentioned that they had been examined for sexually transmitted illnesses within the final yr. However greater than half of STDs have an effect on these between the ages of 15 and 24.

ASHA needed to encourage this age group to view STD testing as a standard a part of taking good care of their very own well being. So, they created a healthcare social media marketing campaign. The principle part was a social video. In it, comic Whitney Cummings speaking to school college students about sexual well being.

The video acquired greater than three.6 million views in 10 weeks. Fb adverts drove 77 p.c of the 107,000zero visits to the marketing campaign touchdown web page. These adverts had been chargeable for 43 p.c of clicks on the marketing campaign’s clinic locator. That reveals viewers deliberate to take actual motion.

Affected person assist

Practically 40 p.c of younger folks (ages 14 to 22) have used on-line instruments, to attempt to join with different individuals who have comparable well being challenges. That features social media teams.

That connection can have actual advantages for sufferers. Researchers revealed within the journal Surgical procedure created a Fb group for 350 liver transplant sufferers, caregivers, and healthcare suppliers. A full 95 p.c of survey respondents mentioned that becoming a member of the group had been constructive for his or her care.

Fb teams are additionally a fantastic place for healthcare professionals and sufferers to work together. These interactions can embrace affected person assist and training. One research is evaluating if a Fb group for coronary coronary heart illness sufferers can improve participation in cardiac rehabilitation .

In fact, listed here are privateness issues when discussing well being on-line. it is a nice use of Fb secret teams, which don’t present up in search outcomes. Customers must be invited to hitch.

Analysis recruitment

Social networks provide a possibility to attach with potential research and survey individuals. Like manufacturers, researchers want to grasp social media demographics. It’s additionally necessary to know easy methods to use key phrases, and easy methods to goal social media adverts.

Linked & Open Analysis Ethics is a mission of the College of California San Diego. The group assist researchers set up tips for moral analysis utilizing new digital instruments. Social networks are amongst these instruments.


Status administration

A latest survey discovered that just about three-quarters of sufferers use on-line critiques as step one when discovering a brand new physician.

The survey discovered that almost all sufferers have a tendency to go away constructive critiques. Generally, in fact, a physician or apply does obtain a detrimental overview. When that occurs, 65 p.c of respondents mentioned it was necessary for the physician to reply.

Advertising and marketing

Practically two-thirds of U.S. healthcare entrepreneurs used social media to achieve healthcare professionals in 2017. On the patron facet, 2017 marked the primary time greater than half of companies (56.eight%) used social advertising.

In Germany, Merck Shopper Well being used a Fb advert marketing campaign for its Femibion BabyPlanung product. The aim was to boost product consciousness by product sampling. The marketing campaign introduced in 10,000 leads.


“Solely 50% of ladies are consulting their gynecologist when making the choice to get pregnant. However they’re trying to find data on the web and for experiences inside social media.” So mentioned Beate Rosenthal, world model director digital & media, Merck Shopper Well being.

Social media suggestions for healthcare organizations

Educate and share precious content material

Individuals want a motive to comply with and interact with you on-line. Invaluable content material that educates and informs is a superb motive.

For instance, the Mayo Clinic creates common social movies. The “Mayo Clinic Minutes” cowl well-liked well being and wellness topics. Latest examples embrace snowboarding security, allergy symptoms, and making more healthy pancakes. The movies usually rack up greater than 10,000 views. This one, on the rise of e-cigarettes, has been watched greater than 20,000 occasions.


The data must be credible, in fact. And true. However you may get artistic and entertaining if that is smart to your model. For instance, right here’s one other ZDoggMD video:


Be sure that the tone you employ is suitable to your model character. The Mayo Clinic movies and the ZDoggMD movies are each participating in their very own approach. However it might be very jarring in the event that they exchanged kinds.

Efficient use of social media in healthcare requires a powerful voice. Suppose your healthcare product or group is just too boring? Suppose once more. For inspiration, try our put up on methods to advertise a “boring” product on social media.

Pay attention for related conversations

You learn earlier on this put up that individuals say it’s necessary for a physician to answer detrimental on-line critiques. That’s a great motive to make use of social listening successfully. In any other case, chances are you’ll not know when folks depart detrimental posts about you on social networks. And for those who don’t know concerning the detrimental posts, you possibly can’t reply.

In fact, social listening is about far more than addressing detrimental posts. It additionally lets you monitor conversations related to your discipline.

These conversations might help you perceive how folks really feel about you. You may as well find out how they really feel concerning the competitors. You may even determine new concepts that assist information your advertising communication technique.

Listed here are some key phrases to pay attention for on social channels:

Your group or apply identify and handles
Your product identify(s), together with frequent misspellings
Your opponents’ model names, product names, and handles
Trade buzzwords: The Healthcare Hashtag Venture is a superb place to begin.
Your slogan and people of your opponents
Names of key folks in your group (your CEO, spokesperson, and so on.)
Names of key folks in your opponents’ organizations
Marketing campaign names or key phrases
Your branded hashtags and people of your opponents

Right here’s easy methods to get began:


Stay compliant

Healthcare social media accounts are topic to some fairly strict guidelines and rules. HIPAA compliance is an enormous one, however you additionally have to be sure to comply with FDA guidelines about promoting.

Probably the greatest-known examples of social media and healthcare clashing within the eye of authorities includes Kim Kardashian. She endorsed the morning illness drug Diclegis in an Instagram put up. Her put up contained a hyperlink to danger data and limitations of use. However, the FDA decided this data wanted to be inside the put up itself.

After a stern FDA warning, she needed to change he put up. Right here’s the up to date model after the FDA warning:

View this put up on Instagram

#CorrectiveAd I assume you noticed the eye my final #morningsickness put up obtained. The FDA has informed Duchesnay, Inc., that my final put up about Diclegis (doxylamine succinate and pyridoxine HCl) was incomplete as a result of it didn’t embrace any danger data or necessary limitations of use for Diclegis. A hyperlink to this data accompanied the put up, however this didn’t meet FDA necessities. So, I’m re-posting and sharing this necessary details about Diclegis. For US Residents Solely. Diclegis is a prescription medication used to deal with nausea and vomiting of being pregnant in ladies who haven’t improved with change in weight-reduction plan or different non-medicine therapies. Limitation of Use: Diclegis has not been studied in ladies with hyperemesis gravidarum. Essential Security Data Don’t take Diclegis in case you are allergic to doxylamine succinate, different ethanolamine spinoff antihistamines, pyridoxine hydrochloride or any of the components in Diclegis. You must also not take Diclegis together with medicines referred to as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), as these medicines can intensify and delay the adversarial CNS results of Diclegis. The most typical facet impact of Diclegis is drowsiness. Don’t drive, function heavy equipment, or different actions that want your full consideration except your healthcare supplier says that you could be achieve this. Don’t drink alcohol, or take different central nervous system depressants similar to cough and chilly medicines, sure ache medicines, and medicines that assist you sleep when you take Diclegis. Extreme drowsiness can occur or turn out to be worse inflicting falls or accidents. Inform your healthcare supplier about your whole medical situations, together with in case you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Diclegis can cross into your breast milk and should hurt your child. You shouldn’t breastfeed whereas utilizing Diclegis. Extra security data will be discovered at or Duchesnay USA encourages you to report detrimental negative effects of prescribed drugs to the FDA. Go to or name 1-800-FDA-1088.

A put up shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on Aug 30, 2015 at 6:01pm PDT

In fact, you don’t need attorneys writing all of your social media posts. However you may want attorneys (or different compliance specialists) to overview posts earlier than they go reside. That is very true for main bulletins or posts which are significantly delicate,

Hootsuite can get extra of your workforce concerned with out growing compliance danger. Individuals from throughout your group can contribute social media content material. Then, solely those that perceive the compliance guidelines could make a put up reside.

Your group wants a social media technique, a social media fashion information, and social media tips. These might help ensure that everybody understands the social technique. Additionally they make it clear how the technique aligns with the related guidelines and rules. Embrace clear, HIPAA-compliant tips for dealing with affected person data in social posts.

Don’t overlook to regulate the feedback customers depart in your social media posts and profiles, too. These also can create compliance issues.

It’s all the time good apply to answer and interact with social feedback. In any case, nobody likes speaking right into a void. Your followers will probably be extra prone to interact together with your content material in the event that they get a response from somebody in your workforce.

When compliance is concerned, chances are you’ll have to take additional steps. For instance, you must take away feedback that increase privateness issues. Additionally be careful for inappropriate claims.

Keep safe

It’s necessary to place safety tips in place to your social media channels. You want to have the ability to revoke entry for anybody who leaves the group.

With Hootsuite, you possibly can handle permissions from one centralized dashboard. Which means you possibly can all the time management entry to social channels.


Integrations might help additional safe your healthcare social media channels. For example, AETracker might help you discover and report points like product complaints and off-label utilization. You’ll discover out as they occur, so you possibly can take motion immediately.

Social Safeguard might help display screen your social posts in opposition to your social media insurance policies. This prevents non-compliant posts from going reside.

The easy fact is that sufferers now use social media. They use it to search for data, discover assist, and make healthcare selections. Combining social media and healthcare will be difficult, it’s true.

However the usage of social media in healthcare additionally presents unimaginable new alternatives. Social media is a superb platform to share necessary well being data. It’s additionally a key place to assemble real-time analysis and insights. Most necessary, social media is away to assist sufferers.

Successfully talk with the general public, enhance affected person expertise, and guarantee compliance with well being care trade rules by managing your social media presence with Hootsuite. From one dashboard, you possibly can create, schedule, and publish to all the key social networks.

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How Medical Schools Can Leverage Social Media Influencers

How Medical Schools Can Leverage Social Media Influencers | Social Media and Healthcare |

Medical schools can join forces with active social media leaders from within their organizations to grow the school’s brand and encourage more active, relevant engagement across multiple audiences. Jared Johnson, a top 100 digital health influencer, podcaster and keynote speaker who spent his entire 16-year career in healthcare and education joins us to discuss the benefits, when to centralize the brand message, and managing expectations.



I’m Mariah Obiedzinski, director of content services at Stamats. Joining me today is Jared Johnson, a Top 100 Digital Health Influencer, podcaster, and keynote speaker who spent his entire 16-year career in healthcare and education. Welcome, Jared.

Jared: Thank you, Mariah.

Mariah: Today we’re discussing how medical schools can join forces with active social media leaders from within their organizations to grow the school’s brand and encourage more active, relevant engagement across multiple audiences.

Jared, in higher education, many administrators, residents, and students are active in social media and blogging, some even to influencer-level, which means they have a following of individuals that actively engage with their personal brand.

What are some of the benefits of leveraging those efforts of these individual influencers to affect the organizational brand?

Jared: Well, Mariah, I think there are several benefits. Some of them are direct and some are a little more indirect. But they all have a positive outcome on the brand. And the first one of those is simply building and increasing the digital footprint of the organization, of the institution.

And the way that happens is, at the end of the day, there’s only so much that the institution itself can do to build its own footprint online. And we all understand what that means, I feel like. There’s only so much posting on social media and blogging and putting web content out there, that the organization itself can do.

Read this: Student Safety in Subzero Temperatures

What we’re all faced with these days is a general trust gap between an organization, their brand, and people out there who are consuming that content online. And so, to help overcome that trust gap, the more that somebody who’s part of the institution themselves is producing content, that kind of has a voice and a presence out there online and is creating conversations and content themselves, whether it be on a social media channel specifically or blog, I guess we can kind of use those things interchangeably, but the more individuals together that do that, that lifts the brand itself, because it’s kind of the long-tail of search, right?

You’re going to get a lot more people searching for the institution and somebody who says, “These tweets are my own,” that they’re still a member of the institution or attending it. Those individuals are going to overall combine for a much greater impact online. So, I guess the first thing is increasing that digital footprint.

The second one has in my mind is just as important and just as powerful, it’s the impact on the individuals themselves. In higher ed especially (we’re talking medical schools, for instance) there’s a lot going on for the students, for those attending themselves. And so, a lot of times, a way for them to kind of help themselves get through it is to put some thoughts out there, and just tell how they’re feeling, and sharing what they’re doing on social media.

For the institution to support that indirectly shows the students who are attending that the organization supports them as people and not just as students. And it sends a signal to them that, “We’re interested in you,” and indirectly that helps them succeed and feel like the institution really does care.

It’s the same as a teacher in class going outside of class, in my mind, to get to know their students a little bit. And not just talk shop, not just talk about assignments or whatever, but to get to know them a little bit, or what they’re interested in.

We all have experienced that ourselves, or with our families and our children. You know what a difference that makes to the child when a teacher goes out of their way to build a relationship in a slightly different way, to go above and beyond.

To me, this is the institutional version of that. And so, what that does is that empowers the students themselves to feel like they are a part of something special, because the organization supports them.

What all that does, Mariah, together, when that combines together, is that strengthens the brand of the organization because you don’t have to go out and create a word-of-mouth strategy – because people are already doing that for you. So, there are a lot of different benefits. I guess those are the couple that I’d focus on first and foremost.

Mariah: Yeah. That’s really interesting that you bring up the kind of burnout sort of topic. We hear about that a lot in healthcare, in the physician burnout world. But sometimes we forget that medical students are under just as much pressure, if not more, than physicians out there in the field.

So, really, like you mentioned, giving that impression and giving that warm feeling that they care and that they want to vocalize these issues and pay attention provides that empathetic vibe that you can’t necessarily get in an ad or a digital placement somewhere. A little bit more personal.

How can medical schools really connect their organizational brand and content marketing efforts in a relevant way with the digital engagement of these influencers and vice versa?

Jared: That’s a great question. And there’s a lot to it. I would say just some first steps are to be, first and foremost, be aware of those who are attending your institution and out there blogging or posting on any social media channel. And there are a lot of different platforms. We don’t have to go into them too much. But find a platform, if you don’t have one already, that helps you monitor and go out and search for those who are attending.

Because a lot of times, they’re not going to be mentioning the institution by name in their posts. So, you want to find a platform that helps you be able to find it essentially in their bios. A lot of times they will say on their Instagram, for instance, that, “I’m a third-year at such-and-such university med school.” You know, “I’m a resident at such-and-such institution.” And a lot of times that’s in the bios. A lot of times that might be in a post itself.

That can take a while, but that’s a really important step is to go out and see how many you can find. You might not find all of them, but going out, doing some basic searches with the right software will help you find who they are. And then you start just spending some time looking at what they’re talking about.

I’m telling you, it can be overwhelming because especially for a large institution where there are thousands or even tens-of-thousands attending potentially. It’ll be a little easier to scale for a smaller organization. But commit some time to identify and engage with those who are attending and are posting and already trying to establish themselves on social media.

That’s the best thing you can do to start off with. Because then it’s natural to, as you’re monitoring them, to start following them, to share, to like, to engage with their posts. And then you’re extending what we just talked about with the first question in terms of showing your support for them.

So, really, I think that’s the first step is just recognizing that they’re out there. We usually talk a lot about online reputation with anything that we’re doing. Well, we usually say things like, “People are talking about us and our brands anyway, whether we’re monitoring them or not. Whether we’re engaging with them or not.” Well, the same thing holds true for those who are part of our institution, so our staff and our students.

So, what we really want to keep an eye on is, like I said, first and foremost, just finding them. But secondly, being aware of the types of things that they’re saying. Best case is that you have a handful, not a lot; best case is there are a few out there that are just naturally, organically waving the flag, holding up their testimonial of the institution, and praising the institution itself and saying how great it is to be a student here.

I don’t think a lot of people do that from what I see, not naturally. But it’s indirect. So, that’s a good first step, just to figure out who they are. Keep track, follow them, and engage with them and show them some support.

Mariah: I couldn’t agree more. That leg work—let’s not kid ourselves, it’s a lot of work, especially like you mentioned when there’s thousands and thousands of students across all the departments. But it is so important because you’re forging those relationships right away as a student, as a resident, and so forth. And then that can potentially carry over long past when they’re done, and they can continue to be an influencer for you, sharing your content because they remember that great experience.

How do these departments that share some dependencies when it comes to marketing and strategy really collaborate? What are your thoughts on centralizing content versus decentralizing it?

Jared: Well, I’m going to say “yes” to both. I think this isn’t an all-inclusive answer one way or the other. There are some elements of both I feel like are necessary to succeed here. The closest to this, we’re talking about lots of different departments.

So, in my time at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, there were 125 subspecialties there. And our team was charged with monitoring all of those and centralizing our content strategy, which included all of our social. And that was a task because the centralized portion, what you quickly find is that if you try to go completely centralized, most of the time you’re not actually meeting the content needs of those individual departments. So, what you want to talk about isn’t what a lot of them want to talk about.

It’s dangerous to try to go fully centralized because then you’re going to dilute the brand voice itself in what you’re saying. And any individual department might say, “Yeah. We don’t really care about that at all.” And so, you have to have an element of a decentralization in your strategy to really still keep those individual voices in it.

And what I’ve found successful is, at least to start off with as part of your editorial calendar, have a rotation through some of those departments that are kind of the more low-hanging fruit, or the louder voices that are out there trying to post already. A lot of times, they may have their own account somewhere. They may be posting. They may have a Facebook group. They may have an Instagram or whatever else. They may have their own blog that they’re up and running themselves.

♦ Article continues below ♦

So, while you’re deciding how centralized to be with those voices, start off by rotating through them on that centralized channel that you’ve got. And that at least gives you a better idea of what they’re posting about, what they care about.

Because, at the end of the day, everything is about what they care about. It’s not about what you as your brand care about. I mean, that’s part of it. But there’s still enough of an individual voice out there that you have to think of both.

I’ll give you an example. There’s at one point, there were, like I said, there were 125 subspecialties at Phoenix Children’s. And one of them, you know, the radiology department, came once and asked if they could start their own Instagram. And initially—this is a great example of how centralization/decentralization kind of both were at odds at first—because we thought well, we have a separate physician-facing, provider-facing content strategy.

And Instagram to that point hadn’t been part of it. We had a main account for Phoenix Children’s for the hospital that, in this case, it turned out it was a bit of a diluted voice out there. It was pretty generic content. It was focused on patient stories. So, for that it was good. We had a lot of nurses and staff engaging with the main account.

But when it came time for the radiology team to come, they had a resident who was insistent that they were going to be posting all the time. Because that was usually the concern—just about every department-specific account up to that point had a short shelf life. The pipeline just dried up really quickly within 1 to 3 months, I would say. And we wanted to make sure that we felt that out with them, and they said, “No, really. We can prove it to you.” And we said, “OK. We’ll do a pilot period with you guys.”

And my initial thoughts were very, very wrong it turned out. I wondered how much of a shelf life a radiology account can have on Instagram. They grew that thing so quickly—they hit 12,000 followers on there. Before we knew it, they were surpassing the hospital’s following on the radiology account. And it’s to this day, it’s still growing insanely. And they are posting every day, and they are getting tons of engagement, which first and foremost, told me that, wow. I better open my eyes because, even when I think I know what I’m talking about, I better open my eyes to how quickly things change and how many healthcare professionals in their case, and providers specifically—clinicians of all types were on Instagram engaging with case films and they had been properly deidentified. Everything on there was just—it was unbelievable.

Just an example of when we wanted to be more centralized with it and our team had taken pride actually in being able to kind of shut down some of those other accounts that had been created by other departments but had kind of dried up. Here we had one that was doing the exact opposite and was just putting the main hospital Instagram to shame.

So, if you have somebody like that who knows what they’re doing and they’re going to do it one way or the other, find a way to work with them and recognize—what we would do is on the main Instagram account, we’d start sharing a lot of those radiology posts, even though that wasn’t part of the initial content strategy, because we wanted to cross-pollinate a little bit and just see how much of the audience was looking at both.

Turns out it was a pretty different audience. And so, after a little bit, we didn’t do that anymore on the main hospital account. Just goes to show you, it’s a complicated question.

Mariah: Yeah. Absolutely. And you bring up kind of a finer point that a lot of our audience probably can relate to, as sometimes marketing gets that big bad, “Oh, here comes marketing. They’re going to come and shut us down.”

But I think as we approach more of the digital initiatives and really try to, like you said, cross-pollinate, go across and get that cohesive strategy in higher ed and especially in medical schools, we really need to be a collaborative resource for one another and support and cheerlead more than just say, “No, no, no,” every time.

How can those medical schools really determine and implement what content can be cohesively strategized and shared across the board?

Jared: That is a really good question because that’s kind of the next step. So, as you’ve taken the first couple of steps, as you’ve gotten familiar with who’s out there already and sharing their voices and gotten a better idea of what content can be centralized and what really needs to stay in those individual voices, then really that next step is to keep all of those elements in your content strategy.

And that’s another one that’s really easy to talk about, I feel like, and really difficult to implement. Especially the larger the institution is. The more departments, the more different teams are involved, especially with more diversity of age groups within the team, everyone’s going to have a different preference on which medium or channel they’re gonna gravitate towards anyway.

So, that’s a good example of some, where you can almost tell, I don’t want to stereotype it either, but the fact is there’s a lot of times you can tell just what our go-to social media channel is. A lot of times you can link that to a general generation or age group that you apply to.

And so, just knowing that, knowing what those kinds of conflicts are going to be or at least those kinds of different questions and approaches are going to pop up, those are important considerations. Because a lot of times what we do want to do—I love what you just highlighted there and pointed out, the part of just how we can kind of get a bad rep in the marketing or branding teams. And there’s a legitimate reason why, because ultimately those teams are responsible for protecting and maintaining and growing a brand.

Well, I like to follow what my friend, Aaron Watkins, who leads digital for Johns Hopkins Medicine, what he has said on numerous occasions. From his experience, he has highlighted how it’s very difficult to be seen internally with your stakeholders as a governor and an innovator at the same time.

So, how that applies to this is if the reputation internally is, “Here comes marketing. They’re going to shut us down because that’s what they always do,” the last thing they’re going to do is work with us when they do have an innovative idea or they do want to launch a new account, when they do want to try something different, and that type of experimentation is important. It’s essential, actually, to keeping up with how we’re all consuming information online.

So, we don’t want to discourage that. The more internal stakeholders and a lot of cases, this is going to be staff and students, as they see us as that governor, the ones that are gonna shut them down, we’re the last ones they’re going to come to for support. They’re actually just going to go launch the account on their own and they’re going kinda basically do it as a rogue account.

And so, honestly, one of the main ways to answer your question of just how to implement this strategy, how to lead it and centralize it from the school of medicine, from the institution, is to be aware that those types of things may happen. And so, half of it is just how they approach it with those who they want to be part of their strategy. If that makes sense.

You know, there’s going to be a certain amount of students who are out there and very active already, and we want to, I’ve always wanted to encourage that because, at the end of the day, it’s a lot easier to encourage that content from others and guide it a little bit if needed, then try to get people who aren’t already used to sharing content and creating their own voice to do so.

It’s almost impossible to get somebody who’s just not used to putting stuff out there to start doing that. So, I’d much rather guide it and encourage it. And to me, that has been the main challenge in creating a strategy.

Because otherwise you’re going to be there with the institution’s marketing team itself coming up with a strategy, and if you’re not involving those who are going to be part of it in the planning process, then they’re not going to care what your process is. It’s kind of like trying to plan a digital health platform without asking patients what they want. Do they actually care about what that innovation is?

So, we just have to be careful. I think you can kind of sum all that up by saying the collaboration internally is essential there. And how we approach it with those who we want to be involved is as important as anything.

Mariah: Exactly. And you highlighted a really great example with the radiology program there at Phoenix Children’s of really managing those expectations. How often are you going to post? What are your growth metrics that you’re looking at and so forth? And that really brings us to kind of the next step of once you decide on a strategy.

How can both the medical school marketers and the individuals that are responsible for posting and for creating that content or curating, really manage the expectations internally and with leadership and stakeholders?

Because, both of us know and everybody listening knows, that most marketing efforts, those big wins are not going to happen overnight.

Jared: They most definitely aren’t. And I think making the timeline a main aspect of any expectations is key. So, conveying that right off the bat that, I have a friend, Dr. Justin Smith who leads digital health at Cook Children’s hospital in Fort Worth, TX, and Dr. Smith, he is @thedocsmitty. A lot of people know him that way.

He’s a genuine thought leader for clinical leadership, especially pediatric leadership. And he really got institutional buy-in to lead that himself. He’s prolific on Twitter. He’s a prolific blogger. He’s always out there asking and answering questions. And he told me, he and I walked through a lot about the expectations that were for his team. Basically, he started a podcast about pediatric leadership for clinicians.

They wanted to establish Children’s as a leader. And I’m sure part of that had to do with recruitment from institutions. And so, the expectation was…it was really funny because he had a really good podcast. And I believe it was once a week. And within like a month, he was saying, “You know what? Leadership is asking what’s the result of it.” And I’m like, “It’s only been a month.” He’s like, “I can count on one hand how many episodes I’ve put out there, and they’re already asking me, ‘What are the results? What’s going to happen? Are we getting more patients? Are we recruiting better physicians? Or what?’” And he’s like, “Man.” He had tried to set the expectations and it was still a challenge.

I think a lot of times we just have to think, at the end of the day, do our stakeholders, do our leaders, see it as us just kind of playing around out there? And I think we always have to constantly communicate the business value of thought leadership, of being on social media and blogs and other online content.

We have to constantly beat that drum and remind everyone of the business content and the business value of that. Because if we don’t, we may have set technically, and as I recall, I’m pretty sure Dr. Smith even said this, “We set all these expectations up from the beginning. And I’m still having to answer these same questions and a month into it, they’re still asking me, ‘Hey, so, how has this moved the needle?’” And he was like, “We’ve been talking about this all the time. I’ll remind you. This isn’t going to move the needle in that short amount of time. Here are our specific goals, here are our objectives,” and so forth.

It’s just another indicator, really, of even though technically we may have set those expectations once, I think a key to making sure they’re understood is continually bringing them up at the right, opportune moments to remind everyone. “Just so you know, remember what we said when we got started. This will hopefully move the needle in these ways. But look, we have to get six months into this, we have to get 12 months into this. And you guys gave us the leeway to do that, and we are running with it. And we are succeeding here and here and here.” It’s just a lot more intentional sharing of that information with our leaders and stakeholders than we might think initially.

Mariah: It’s really going to be interesting over the next 5 to 10 years as more millennials and then the digital native groups come in and start assuming these position roles from medical school, and start assuming these administrative roles, to see how that will change. Because I think, as we highlighted, the different age groups use different platforms and have, sometimes, different understandings of how long things take or different expectations of what viral is and all of those other fun things that we encounter day-to-day in the higher ed marketing space. But yes. I’m really looking forward to seeing how that changes and how that collaboration will flex as well.

How can these organizations and individual influencers really measure their success? What metrics do you typically recommend that people look at, short-term and long-term?

Jared: So, there are a couple different schools of thought here. One is that take someone who’s attending, so a student at a medical school. So, that student might be buried in the actual course work itself, but it’s crazy. It shouldn’t be so crazy, but it feels crazy still. Just recently, I’ve been looking at just how many medical students are on Instagram with fashion—all they’re posting about is basically fashion. And maybe it’s just one group that I found that are all kind of connected to each other. But they’re not—they’ll be one every now and then wearing a white coat. But almost everything else with them, on their off time, this is who they are when they’re not having their nose in a book studying and cramming for exams and attending their clinicals and so forth. They’re showing who they are.

How they measure that success is one of two ways. They’re either going to be happy with the fact that they can share who they are online and share ideas with people. And for a lot of them, that’s all they want to do it for. When we start talking about influencers, they are dead set on growing their follower base, their followers or fans, those who “like” them. And they’re dead set on being an influencer in the space in addition to everything else.

So, they’re going to measure their success primarily by their follower base and their engagement. I know people who will post and, if they don’t get a certain number of “likes,” they’ll actually delete the post off Instagram because they don’t want to be seen as not having a lot of engagement.

To me, that’s a little extreme, but I think that’s the mind of an influencer. They see people are seeing them and saying, “Oh, well if they were any good, they’d have more followers or they’d have more likes, they’d have more comments.” And that’s literally just the world they live in.

And so, you have to put that mindset on to realize, no matter what we say, that’s how they’re going to measure themselves because that’s how they see themselves—literally as influencers.

On the organizational side, it is a combination of that. I tend to think impressions and followers are good. They’re still a primary metric, but they’re not the first one I’d look at. The first one I always look at with anything to do with social media is engagement rate over total engagement. Or engagement rate per post, because that tells me on an individual basis how much people engage with what I’m putting out there.

Now, total engagement is a good way to measure that, too, because if you just look at one of these metrics over the other, then there’s easy ways to do it. If you only want total engagement, then you just post more. Ultimately, you’re just going to do that. But you can’t—it’s really hard to measure how many people you annoyed by flooding their stream all day long with just you.

So, that’s a lot harder to measure. But with the total engagement, it might look like it’s a great metric. So, I’m always cautious about only using total engagement or total followers because those things do help. They help you gauge where you are compared to others. But on their own, it’s easy to use those figures.

So, if you have engagement rate per post as one of your metrics, at the very least, you’re going to recognize the trends that are based on what type of content you’re putting out there, what types of posts, how often, what time of day, all those kinds of things that we like to kind of fret about. It’s a lot easier to see that by the engagement rate per post.

We probably haven’t covered that, but that’s just simply the engagements for that particular post over the number of impressions or reach for that post. It’s a percentage, it’s usually—it varies by channel, but it can be anywhere from 1 to 3 to 5 to 10 percent depending on the channel. Anywhere in that can actually be considered a really strong engagement rate. Anything higher than that, almost any channel, is going to be significant.

So, those are at least base figures. So, I would come back to that. Engagement rate and then total engagement and number of followers just as reference, but not typically the key thing I would focus on.

Mariah: And I’m with you. I am a huge proponent of watching trends. So, it’s good to get down to that granular level once and a while. And I see agencies—and it gives me hives, to be honest with you—I see agencies go all the way down with their clients or even organizations, “We got X number of smiley faces versus hearts on this post.” Or “We got this versus that.”

And sometimes that’s okay to look at. Sometimes it’s entertaining to look at. But what does the number of hearts or smiley faces or angry faces on a post, one post looking at it singularly, really tell you? It doesn’t tell you much. And so, you really have to look, like you said, in a global way. Look at all these metrics across and how they relate to each other and not parse it down to, “We’re going to look at just this one thing and judge our success by that.”

Jared: I was just going to agree with you, Mariah. Because I feel like, especially in an academic institution, a lot of times, a single—it would be extremely rare for a single post anywhere, whether it’s a paid or boosted or organic post, to influence somebody on its own to attend that institution. It might be one of 20 or 30 touch points that all together influenced somebody and gave them something else to think about and come into play.

So, in my mind, a lot of social media engagement is a branding play, not necessarily a direct marketing play. If it is, then the metrics are a little different. And you are going to focus more directly on clicks and conversions and so forth. That tends not to be the case as much with academic institutions.

Although there has been an increase on say, like, Instagram swipe up ads for that to become an increasing way to get people at least contacting the institution or clicking through. It is on the rise. It’s just there’s a lot of confusion that way when explaining what the value ultimately is of the effort put into these channels.

Mariah: And that’s definitely one of those intersections where the things that the stakeholders care about and the things that the marketing teams care about. Because you’re looking at all of this data—everything in a medical school is data driven, everything in a healthcare organization is data driven, and it should be the same in marketing. And I think, as a unit, as an industry, we’re really getting there and really expecting that to be a best practice.

Keeping that in mind, along with that total broad look at metrics and not just becoming extremely granular, what are some of those key components of successful content marketing, in any platform, the measurement of it and how can schools set up a model to govern that process and keep that constant publication and review ongoing?

Jared: That’s a really good question. I think the biggest thing for me is just constantly having enough in the pipeline and knowing who you’re pleasing with the content. So, especially in an academic institution, especially in a medical school, you’re dealing with a lot—healthcare professionals a lot of times, especially tenured ones, are very strongly opinionated. This is not news to anyone. I’m not breaking news here.

But that comes into play with how we explain to them the value of the time that we’re working on. And how we say, “You want me to post that here. This isn’t the best place for that, because here’s our goal for that channel.” So, really, it sounds simple, but it’s one of those things that Content Marketing Institute and other institutions just keep driving into people is that the majority of organizations do not have a documented content strategy.

I love Cleveland Clinic’s content strategy. It’s one sentence and it has been one sentence for their Health Essentials blog, ever since Amanda Todorovich has been there for six years now. It hasn’t changed. And it’s one sentence. And it’s something along the lines of just providing useful, relevant, unique healthcare content to make healthcare and wellness better for people. You know, it’s something generic like that.

But that’s their north star. They can always point to it and say, “Here’s the reason why what you’re asking me to do, to post, doesn’t quite fit that. We do have an alternative for that. We’ve got this Twitter account. We’ve got this other place where we will put it. But, just so you know, that’s why that doesn’t fit into this stream.” So, you have to think about how it helps you kind of defend against the rogue requests. And, like I said, in a medical institution, you’re going to get a lot of them.

So, that’s one of the keys to success in how to set up your model, is to be aware of that and to have your documented strategy. It’s typically a lot more useful—like I said, that was for Cleveland Clinic, just for their Health Essentials blog. For their social media channels, they have different strategies. Now, if I’ve heard correctly, they’re pretty simple as well. They’re not detailed, long strategies, but they’re different for each channel.

If you can’t provide that for somebody and say in one to two sentences for each of your social channels and other areas where you’re creating content, what the purpose is and who you are trying to affect some kind of change in, if you can’t provide that, then you’re going to have a really hard time defending against people who insist, “No, you have to post this somewhere.” And you know what that does.

That’s just like a block in the road, like all the traffic has to stop. All the traffic you’ve been trying to get lined up in your pipeline and maintain that, it all just goes out the window. Then people insist on putting other stuff in there. And you know it’s going to clutter up your feed, and you know that’s not what the audience that you’ve cultivated so hard wants to read about or watch or whatever.

Mariah: So, it’s really the antithesis of what they’ve been talking about at that Content Marketing Institute for the last couple of years. You don’t want to be disruptive. You want to go in, and you want to be very relevant and very natural with your audience.

Jared: Yes. Exactly. And so, it’s always a shame when it happens, but it happens a lot, more than we probably hear about. And maybe it’s just because it seems like such a simple thing to document your strategy. But that also helps a lot of times in the day-to-day decisions. It’s a lot easier to plan out three months, six months out of posts or content when you know what your cadence is and what your goal is, and what the topics are that far in advance. If you just say, “Look. This is what we’re going to stick with. We’re not gonna keep changing it based on who’s asking us to do things.”

So, really, I see that as just, like I said, a simple, easy thing to do. But take the time to do it now rather than later. It saves you now and it saves you down the road. Besides that, in terms of how to just set up that model and process going forward, just being clear, putting yourselves in your stakeholders’ shoes.

So, if you’re on the organizational team and you have connected with some of the thought leaders who are attending your institution and they want to know, like, “Okay, hey. We’re on board with your content strategy. We want to help. We want to amplify some of your content.” They probably won’t say it that way. That’s just how marketers say it. “Amplify some of your stuff.” They’ll be like, “Hey that’s cool. We’ll share some of that.”

If they’re on board, then put yourselves in their shoes. They want things to be really easy for them. They’re not going to go out of their way to share something about the institution, even if it is cool and they agree with it. If you make that easy for them and you are regularly tagging them with your content, those are ways to build bridges with the thought leaders within your institution. So, they can keep on doing their own thing, but then you make it easier for them to, every now and then, just drop in something that you would like them to share about the institution.

Anyway, you just make it easy for them. Just knowing that social media these days for somebody who’s not on the organizational team—they’re spending a lot more time consuming it than they are trying to figure out on a day-to-day basis what to post.

So, put yourself in their shoes. Know what they would like and what makes it easy for them to share things that have to do with our strategy. The more we do that, the easier it will be, and each thought leader that you have out there on your behalf is part of that long-tail of content, kind of coming back to the one of the first things we were talking about. It’s the more touch points you have out there that really does build your brand and just makes it easier and more valuable at the end of the day for everything that you’re doing.

Mariah: Oh, absolutely. And something that I’d like to highlight that you just mentioned, too, is when you really know your audience, and you really know what they want, when they want it, and in what format, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with—and it’s actually encouraged—to plan that content out a few months in advance. You said up to 6 months or so. That’s a really good way to make sure you have something that’s always in the queue.

And if you have that basic understanding, and you have that format you’re going for in the right platform, you can make it very much more manageable. And you can go in and do those daily or weekly checks. Okay, is everything still aligned with what we want to be saying today and what’s going on in the climate of the school, and politically and so forth, to make your message consistent without having to rush in every morning and get everything lined up, because it’s already there?

So, what would a couple of closing remarks from you be?

What would you like to leave for key words of advice for individuals at medical schools who are responsible for content marketing and engagement with that staff and student influencer body?

Jared: I think I would just look at again, putting ourselves in our students’ shoes. What’s on their minds? It’s probably not, “How can I increase the institution’s brand?” They’re just concerned with making it day-to-day. They are studying 14 to 16 to 18 hours a day, maybe more. And they’re intent on what their goal is. They’re likely very goal-oriented people to be where they are. But at the same time, they’ve heard that the medicine that they’re going into is different than the medicine that, if their parents went into it, it’s different than the medical field that their parents went into. And they’re trying to make sense of it all.

In most cases, it’s a young adult trying to find out and make sense of everything. At the same time, they’re being thrust into interesting financial situations. They’re taking on six figures worth of debt. So, anything you can do that showcases who they are and humanizes your strategy for them and including them, that shows that you do support them as people, will go so much farther to strengthen your brand with those individuals.

It doesn’t have to be a push-pull, an adversarial relationship, with them. Don’t come in saying that you’re the brand police and that it’s your job to shut them down and tell them what they can and can’t say. Provide some guidelines that still, at the end of the day, show, “Hey, we encourage you. We want your voice out there. We like the ideas you have out there. We’re glad you’re connecting those with other people’s ideas.” And encourage them, help them see the value of creating a network.

My goodness, I don’t know where I’d be today in my career without the network connections that I have and what I’ve learned from other people. And those relationships that have developed from, with other people and a lot of times, especially the last three to five years, that has really come a lot through social media engagement. And then when I do meet somebody in person at a conference or something, it’s like, “Oh my gosh.” We can’t even remember if we have met in person before because we engage so much in between.

Mariah: Absolutely. That’s where you and I met. We met in the land of Twitter of LinkedIn.

Jared: Right. Right. That’s true. And it was just one of those—you know each other when you do see each other in real life, and it’s like, “Man. This is really cool.” This is just kind of how it is these days.

So, just being aware of a lot of these things that are going to drive a lot of growth and development in our content strategies. It doesn’t have to be us versus them. We really can encourage those ideas. Just think how far that goes for us as employees anywhere we work, where we are shown by our boss (or anyone) that they get where we’re coming from and they support our ideas. It’s the same thing. See them that way and see them as assets to your organization. And then you don’t have to give them all these rules and regulations of how to act online. They’ll just do it naturally.

Mariah: I think that is especially applicable in the medical school setting because, chances are, these individuals are going to “grow up” and maybe come and work for your system. Maybe come and work for your medical school or the associated hospital. So, really, including them in all of the successes, sharing that data with them, giving them that impetus to continue to do so, is extremely important and valuable.

Thank you so much, Jared, for sharing your expertise with us today. And again, it’s just so wonderful to have thoughtful and insightful individuals like you really advocating for the medical students out there, and the faculty and staff that work so hard to drum up that great networking opportunities for them and these great relationships.

Jared: Thanks again for the opportunity. Yeah. I really enjoy—you can probably tell—I really do believe in just the value of the types of relationships and the value that comes from just putting ourselves out there online and sharing who we are. It’s more valuable than a lot of times we realize.

Mariah: Absolutely. And thank you so much for listening today.

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7 Local Search Tips for Health Providers to Take Care of Patients

7 Local Search Tips for Health Providers to Take Care of Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

Consumers rely on local search to find the products and services they need, in a convenient location. Healthcare is no exception – 77 percent of online health seekers start at search engines.

While general local search best practices hold true across industries, it is important for health providers to understand the key differentiators within their local space and create a strategy designed to help patients easily access the care they are looking for.

Search in the Health Industry

So, what makes healthcare so unique?

It’s Personal

Healthcare is closely tied to well-being, happiness, and quality of life. For this reason, websites that provide medical information fall into a category Google calls “YMYL” or “Your Money Your Life.”

It’s Held to a Higher Standard

Because YMYL pages can negatively impact a user’s happiness, health, financial stability, or safety, Google requires these websites to follow more stringent quality standards.

This became especially apparent during the so-called Medic update of August 2018, which seemed to target health and wellness pages based on their expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.

It’s Complex

Medical organizations are complicated, offering a wide array of treatment services varying across locations, departments, and specialties.

Our job as marketers is to leverage digital assets to improve patient understanding and increase accessibility of care.

How to Create a Patient-First Local Strategy

An effective local search strategy will play a key role in helping patients evaluate alternatives and make an informed decision on where to receive the best care.

1. Choosing a Service Line to Optimize

The first step in improving local search strategy is identifying where to start.

Who’s more likely to rely on local search to inform decision making:

  • A patient with a long-term heart condition in need of a transplant?
  • Or a local college student experiencing flu-like symptoms?

To identify low-hanging fruit for local search, select service lines to optimize based on organic performance and business goals:

Business Goals

  • What service lines are important to our business goals?
  • What are the organic conversion rates for these service lines?
  • How would improving conversion rates impact our business?

Organic Performance Metrics

  • How much organic traffic is this service line receiving?
  • How many clicks?
  • What keywords is the service line ranking highly for?
  • What keywords are in striking distance?
  • What is the search volume of our striking distance keywords?
  • Can we improve these metrics?

Compile a list of services lines that will be good candidates for optimization. Next, use the following two considerations to determine which service lines have the highest local intent.

  • Immediacy of care: Google Barometer data shows that health consumers searching for local information are more likely to have an urgent, immediate, or upcoming need for local information (see screenshot below). Prioritize services lines that are associated with a higher level of urgency (e.g., emergency rooms, urgent care).


  • Decision factors: Consider the likelihood that patients will conduct their own research and make a self-informed decision on where to receive care (self-reliant), as opposed to relying on doctor referrals (seeks expert).

The screenshot below is an illustrative example of service lines, mapped by perceived local intent. Service lines that pull toward self-reliant and high immediacy of care, will likely be associated with higher local intent.


2. Finding Primary & Secondary Keywords

The next step is to identify how patients are searching for health services. Look for keywords that are relevant to the service line and resonate with your audience.

  • Check Google Search Console (GSC) and Google My Business (GMB) Insights to see which keywords patients are already using to find your location.
  • Use Google Keyword Planner or another keyword research tool to get suggestions on new keywords to target. Tip: In the left-side bar on keyword planner, select “All Locations” and filter by your location. This will allow you to see how people are searching at a hyper-local level by narrowing average monthly search volume to a specific location.

Organize non-brand keywords into three buckets:

High-Funnel Keywords

Non-localized keywords that focus on what your audience would search before deciding to seek out care (e.g., symptoms and conditions). Typically, these keywords will have higher search volume and higher competition.

Related Questions

Additional keywords help identify the types of questions patients may have before visiting your location.

Note: AnswerThePublic is a great free resource for this.

Localized Keywords

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Low-funnel keywords that will help determine how patients search for locations (by city, by neighborhood, near [landmark]).

These keywords will typically have lower search volume, but also less competition. These will serve as the primary keywords to target for local search.


3. Analyzing Competitive Strategies

While you may have a predetermined list of top competitors, the competitive landscape for health providers often varies greatly based on health service, search intent, and location.

Use the following considerations to identify and analyze your local competition:

  • Perform a search for high-funnel, non-localized keywords (note: depending on the query and its perceived intent, you may get localized, non-localized, or a mix of organic results).
  • Analyze search results looking for best-in-class competitors. Look for common trends among top competitors and identify potential strategies to leverage.
  • Next, search for low-funnel, localized keywords. Analyze the local 3-pack results to determine who your top local competitors are.
    • If you are searching from the location of your practice, you can simply analyze search results.
    • If you are searching from another location, Local Falcon’s Map Scan tool is great for identifying local competitors (and checking your own local 3-pack rankings).
  • Identify 5-10 local competitors, aiming to answer the questions:
    • How am I ranking compared to my competitors?
    • What keywords are my competitors ranking for that my site isn’t?
    • What are my competitors doing well?
    • What are my competitors not doing well?
    • Are there any common trends I can leverage on my own site?
    • How can my site be better?
  • Use your findings to develop a game plan for gaining competitive advantage.


4. Understanding Your Audience

Using site analytics, insights from other digital channels, and first-party knowledge, aim to understand your audience and how audiences vary by service line and type of care being sought out.

Top-of-mind considerations include:

  • Are patients typically proactive, or reactive?
    • Proactive patients are motivated by maintaining their health status quo (routine testing, yearly physicals, consulting with a nutritionist, etc.).
    • Reactive patients experience a trigger or a change in health status before seeking out care.


  • If they are a reactive, what are their triggers?
  • Are they new or returning?
  • How are they interacting with your brand/practice (website, GMB, social media, Yelp, etc.)?
  • What technology/media do they use (device type, browser)?
  • How do they engage with content (landing page, exit page, pages/session, session duration, bounce rate, etc.)?

5. Identifying Touchpoints

Touchpoints are the steps within the user journey where customers interact our brand.

These interactions are opportunities for health providers to increase brand awareness, change brand perceptions, bring new patients to their practice, and improve loyalty among current patients.

Aim to understand the patient’s behavior and identify all points where a patient seeking care may interact with your brand. For local search, the two most important touchpoints to optimize are:

  • Google My Business: eligible to rank in map pack results.
  • Local Landing Pages: eligible to rank in local search results.

Additional touchpoints to monitor include:

  • Other areas of the site: Physician finders, location finders, about pages, and contact us pages all provide important information about your practice.
  • Additional review sources: Representations of your brand that are out of your direct control may influence patients’ perceptions.
  • Other GMB profiles: Any outdated GMB profiles may contain inaccurate information about your practice.
  • Social media profiles: Often, location pages are created on Facebook when users tag themselves at your location.

Analyze your digital touchpoints and performance metrics for each to gain an understanding of what digital assets are converting well and which are in need of optimization.

For local landing pages, make sure to look at mobile performance numbers and ensure there are no discrepancies (may be a sign of a poor mobile experience).

6. Mapping the Patient Journey

Using the insights discovered so far, map out what the typical patient’s journey would look like.

  • Navigate through the process yourself (searching for target keywords, navigating to local landing pages, etc.), marking each click as a step in the journey.
  • Repeat on both desktop and mobile (again, note any discrepancies that might indicate a poor mobile experience).
  • Look for any areas of inefficiency, especially where one user action requires multiple clicks.
  • Compare to the experiences provided by competitive websites, looking for strategies to leverage.

Match digital touchpoints to specific steps in the patient’s journey.

Image modified from @AlexisKSanders

Analyze each step in the patient journey, as well as each digital touchpoint. Use the following questions to begin prioritizing optimizations:

  • Where are you performing well?
  • Where can you improve?
  • What about mobile?
  • Which digital touchpoints need the most attention?
  • Are patients dropping off at any point in the journey?
  • How can we make each step more efficient?

7. Outlining Content Goals

At this point, we can start curating our local strategy using insight gathered from keyword research, competitive insights, audience personas, and patient journey mapping.

Ask yourself the following questions and use the answers to frame your content goals:

  • What are the goal(s) of the patients who are landing on this page?
  • What actions do we want users on this page to take?
  • Are the identified patient goals aligned with intended actions?
  • Are we making it as easy as possible to achieve those goals?
  • Are we providing additional, relevant information to help patients through their journey?
  • How can we offer patients a better experience than our competitors?

Prioritize content goals based on anticipated effort and level of impact, balancing tradeoffs between high-impact, high-effort items and medium/low-impact, low-effort items (low-hanging fruit).


Creating a successful local search strategy for healthcare providers requires:

  • Understanding the key differentiators of local search in healthcare.
  • Prioritizing service lines based on performance, business needs, and local intent.
  • Targeting localized keywords and anticipating user questions.
  • Analyzing best-in-class and local competitors to find new opportunities and strategies to leverage.
  • Gaining a deep understanding of your audience and how audiences may vary by service line.
  • Mapping the patient journey, looking for areas of inefficiency or opportunities for improvement.
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How Europe’s clinicians and patients are using data & AI to fight cancer

How Europe’s clinicians and patients are using data & AI to fight cancer | Social Media and Healthcare |

Fabian Bolin was just 28 years old when he found out he had leukemia. A promising actor, the diagnosis of cancer made him feel as if he suddenly lost control of his future and that nothing could help him regain it.

His experience is all too common.

Each year, there are an estimated 3.7 million new cases of cancer and 1.9 million deaths from the disease in Europe. According to the World Health Organization, despite making up only one eighth of the total global population, Europe bears a quarter of the world’s cancer cases. In fact, cancer is the second leading cause of death across the region behind cardiovascular disease.

While Europe is home to some of the best and most established healthcare systems in the world, cancer remains a formidable opponent. Today, leading healthcare providers and organizations are using technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) to engage and support patients, empower doctors and accelerate research. Moving us one-step closer to help manage and conquer the disease.

Giving power back to the patient
When Fabian was first diagnosed, he felt powerless and began sharing his experiences on social media. The response was so great that he helped launch WarOnCancer, a social network for cancer patients and relatives.

From left to right: Fabian Bolin (WarOnCancer), Mathias Ekman (Microsoft), Nora Bavey (UNITECH), and Sebastian Hermelin (WarOnCancer)

The original platform, which comprised of a 150-member strong blogging community who represented 40 types of cancer, highlighted the fact that most cancer patients suffer from low self-esteem and depression. With this insight, WarOnCancer is working with six partners in the pharmaceutical and broader life science industry to develop and test a new mobile app, which aims to become a global social network for cancer patients.

Scheduled to launch during 2019, the app will allow members to share their data and track how the industry uses this data in research. Through the power of Microsoft Azure, WarOnCancer can analyze this data to detect flaws and benefits experienced by different groups of patients depending on where, and how, they are treated.

“During my treatment and interactions with specialists, I was astounded to learn that almost half of clinical trials in oncology are delayed because it’s hard to find patients who meet the right criteria for that particular trial,” said Fabian. “Despite the vast majority of patients willing to share their data for clinical trials, many don’t know these are even taking place or aren’t properly informed how their data will be used. This disconnect can literally be the difference between finding a life-saving treatment or not.”

“The long-term goal is to build a ‘matchmaking’ type service for clinical trials and patients. This will increase the number of successful clinical trials, spearhead the pharmaceutical R&D-process, tailor treatment schedules and medication around a cancer patient’s needs, and ultimately save lives,” says Sebastian Hermelin, co-founder and head of WarOnCancer’s industry partnerships.

Helping doctors deliver early-detection, and increase precision and accuracy

The benefits of early cancer detection are clear. Not only does it result in a higher survival rate, but it helps minimize treatment side effects. While the process varies in every country, standard breast cancer screening typically occurs every two years and involves the mammography of women within a certain age bracket.

However, the effectiveness of mammography dramatically decreases when examining ‘dense’ breasts with a higher percentage of fibroglandular tissue. To address this challenge, the Veneto Institute of Oncology (IOV) is using a new breast density assessment tool from Volpara that has the potential to help millions of people. Leaping beyond the limits of a traditional mammogram, the cloud-based solution assesses images of a patient’s breast tissue, honing in on its density.

Volpara’s new cloud-based tool assesses images of a patient’s breast tissue to calculate its density

“Since dense breast tissue and lesions both appear white on X-rays, it is difficult to detect cancer in women with dense breasts. Moreover, it has been proven that women with dense breasts have higher risk of developing breast cancer compared to women with low breast density,” says Gisella Gennaro, Medical Physicist at the Venetian Institute of Oncology. “But now, through advanced image analysis, we can automatically and objectively assess women’s breast density, use it to estimate their risk of developing breast cancer, and provide them with personalized imaging protocols such as using ultrasound in the event that breast density hinders cancer detection.”

“Without advanced image computing, it would be impossible to get such fast and accurate analysis. Over the next five years, we plan to examine more than 10,000 women; see an increase in cancer detection rates; a decrease in interval cancers; and sustainable screening costs. It’s truly a step forward towards precision medicine,” says Francesca Caumo, Director of Breast Radiology Department at the Venetian Institute of Oncology.

Back in Stockholm, Fabian and his team are tireless in their mission to improve the lives for everyone affected by cancer. It has been almost four years since his initial diagnosis and the journey to date has been nothing short of courageous. Alongside first-rate treatment and family support, data has also proved a somewhat hidden helping hand.

Whether its researchers, clinicians or patients – together with cloud computing and AI – humanity’s war on cancer has never been as fierce.

For more information on how Data and AI are helping clinicians, researchers and patients to make healthcare more efficient, click here.

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Prescribing social media is the answer to GP workload woes |

Prescribing social media is the answer to GP workload woes | | Social Media and Healthcare |

One of the aspects of the new GP contract recently announced by BMA’s GP committee and NHS England is set to save us all from rising workload.

You might have missed it, because up until this point it’s been kept under wraps by those closest to this latest innovation: social media prescribing.

I’m told it’s a new process that has been extensively piloted in digital vanguard sites around the country.


These exemplars can be contacted by fax, of course, should you require further details of the technical specifications.

I’ve heard it is felt that GPs are ideally placed to offer prescriptions to patients for social media content, as well as training.

How often have you thought, ‘All that is really needed to cheer this patient up is a few cat videos on YouTube?’

Well now a toolkit of social media content will be available through a bespoke, integrated app for participating practices, as well as through ‘social media prescribing LinkedIn workers’.


One GP who took part in the pilot commented that she found the availability of social media content for her patients to be transformative

‘We can now spend half the consultation looking at their Facebook feed and finding things to be positive about,’ she said, adding: ‘Once patients watch one video, they just keep on watching and watching and simply don’t come back.’

How often have you thought, ‘All that is really needed to cheer this patient up is a few cat videos on YouTube?’

Social media can also be used as a treatment modality in itself for anxiety, depression, low mood, hyperactivity, social isolation and diverticulitis.

If a social media need is identified within the consultation, then the toolkit allows the GP to meet that need rather than be frustrated that such an important determinant of health be neglected.

Another GP pioneer involved in the cascade of this high-impact action said: ‘We really feel that Maslow’s Hierarchy needs to be revisited, with social media perhaps being the most basic need of patients today.’

He added: ‘We are working towards changing the model of human needs to a BioPsychcoSoMe model. Several medical schools and GP vocational training schemes have expressed an interest.

‘In the future I envisage a time when we no longer use an electronic records system, but we simply enter the consultation directly onto their timeline.’

Social media prescribing at Lily Road Surgery

Lily Road Surgery in London was one the early adopters and disruptive accelerators of this concept.

In the waiting room their patient information screen was switched to Vimeo and they migrated their practice website to Facebook.

Patients are able to contact a GP or nurse through Twitter - as long as they don’t mind the whole world knowing their issues.

Instead of Skype, they use SnapChat and both clinicians and patients are encouraged to add lens effects to their faces (dogs and bunnies are popular) to create a positive atmosphere.

After each consultation, patients are sent a WhatsApp message with an amusing viral video or motivational meme.


Dr Samir Dawlatly is a GP in Birmingham

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Easy-to-Execute Social Media Contests for Your Dental Practice

Easy-to-Execute Social Media Contests for Your Dental Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |
Everybody loves a winner—and when it comes to dental marketing, there’s no easier way to win over your patients and grow your dental practice than with easy and effective social media contests.

Giveaways, contests, and sweepstakes on social media have become a key tool in dental marketing, and for good reason. According to a 2016 study, 81% of content marketers agreed that interactive content is more effective at grabbing a reader’s attention than static content.

Contests provide the perfect opportunity to catch someone’s eye, which is half the battle in social media marketing.

The other half of the battle? Engagement.

Engagement is everything on social media.

Even if your practice has thousands of followers, if you post something on Facebook and it doesn't earn any likes, shares, or hearts — that reflects the value you are providing.

Social media contests add value by providing a tangible incentive for engagement.

Like all social media posts, contests should reflect your practice’s brand. They should always feel highly relevant.

Contests around holidays, trends in the dental industry, and repeatable giveaways that people can dependably look for are low-effort ways to fill your social media calendar and generate buzz around your practice.

Contests are also great because they accomplish several marketing goals at once. If done well, social media contests with your patients can:
Make your practice’s Facebook page more visible
Many people discredit the importance of likes and shares, specifically on Facebook, thinking that if you post something your followers will automatically see it.

This isn’t the case.

Most of the content and contests you post will only go to a small percentage of your following. However, with the way Facebook's algorithm is set up, increasing the traffic on a post will cause it to reach more people.
Increase number of page likes and followers
While focusing on engagement is important, increasing the number of page likes is a huge benefit of contests.

A bigger following makes your practice more credible on social media. It also increases potential reach for every post.
Create relationships with other brands or companies
Hosting contests with affiliated companies, like Crest, Oral-B, or Waterpik, is a great way to associate your dental practice with trusted brands.
Boost awareness and loyalty for your practice
This is the ultimate goal of social media contests. By engaging your patients in fun contests, you can create an invaluable sense of community, provide real value, and stay relevant in their feeds.

Note: For most dental practices, Facebook will likely be the most effective social media channel for running contests.

Facebook makes it easy to schedule, track, and run ads. It's also the social media platform that will reach the largest portion of your patients.

That said, many of our contest ideas are easily adaptable to other platforms.

So, whether this is your first social media contest or you're just in need of some fresh ideas, these simple and fun contests will help liven up your feed.


Contests to Add to Your Social Media Calendar
“Caption this”
Time for your followers to get a little creative. Caption contests make for successful campaigns because they allow both you and your patients to showcase your personalities.

Find a funny picture, and either choose the winner yourself or choose the one with the most likes (or do both!).

However you go about choosing a winner, make sure you clearly state the parameters at the start of the contest.
Ask a question
Asking a question or taking a poll to generate comments is a great place to start.

This is a spin on the classic “comment to win” contest, but because it uses natural, less spammy wording, it is more likely to be seen by your followers — this is even more important with the new Facebook algorithm that downranks posts having any engagement bait.

Post a photo or video with a question to prompt a comment for a chance to win a small prize, like a gift card or discounted treatment.

This contest works well on both Facebook and Instagram, which rely on compelling photos.
(Super) Short essay contest
Increase engagement by giving followers a prompt they can respond to is a creative way. It's also nice way to collect testimonials that can be used in future marketing, should your patients be okay with you doing so.

Keep each essay short, around 15-20 words maximum. (Given the brevity of the essays, this is a great contest to promote on Twitter. Just ask that participants tweet their answers with a specific hashtag for the contest.)

Example: “What does 'healthy' mean to you? Give your best answer in 20 words or less for a chance to win a year’s worth of free toothpaste!”
“Show us your smile” photo contest
People love sharing pictures of their smiling kids on social media. And when a kid loses a tooth, parents grab the camera.

Have you followers submit their best “I lost a tooth!” or another #smilestone picture for a chance to win a prize.

This is also great for a #throwbackthursday where patients can submit funny throwback photos of themselves as kids with missing teeth.

Either have participants submit the photos directly through Facebook Messenger or post them on your wall.

As with the caption contests, winners can be chosen internally or voted on with likes.


Send your “before” picture for a free whitening
Before-and-after pictures can be highly effective marketing tools for your practice.

Set the rules carefully for this one — make sure participants submit their photos privately through Facebook Messenger to prevent a flood of potentially unflattering “before” smiles on your feed.

Select the winner randomly and do a follow-up post after the whitening, but only if permitted by the winner.
Ultimate smile makeover giveaway
Giving away a full smile makeover is a wonderful way to increase your following and create lifelong advocates.

This can include orthodontics, periodontics, crowns, implants, whitenings, and any other treatments you might offer.

Because the prize is more costly to your practice than, say, a $10 gift card, ask for more effort from the participants.

For example, create a unique link for social media, and have it take people to a page where they can fill out their name, address, birthday, email, etc.

Gathering emails through contests is a great strategy because it gives you future marketing opportunities geared toward people who have interacted with your practice.
Post a pic of your pup’s best smile
Because oral hygiene isn’t just for humans!

This is a fun photo contest that is easy for your followers with dogs who are likely already posting pictures of their best friends all over Facebook (for posting rules, refer to contest idea No. 4).

Even better, you can give away something to your patient and their pup! Maybe a Sonicare for the human and some Dentastix for the pooch.
Seasonal and Holiday Contests
Back-to-school smile photo contest
Back-to-school season means plenty of pictures!

Have participants submit their kids’ back-to-school smiles for a free prize at their next cleaning.

Example: “Submit your best back-to-school smiles for a chance to win a bonus prize from our Treasure Box at their next cleaning!”
Refer a friend, win stocking stuffers!
For the holidays, giving away small gift boxes with toothbrushes, gift cards, and sugar-free gum is a warm way to collect emails before the new year.

Think of this social media contest as a new spin on getting referrals.

This strategy can be applied to any holiday with fun-themed gift baskets, gift cards, or services that your practice can provide at a discount or for free.

Example: “Tag a friend in the comments below or refer on our website for a chance to fill your stockings for the holidays!”
New Year’s free-cleaning giveaway
Everyone has self-improvement on their minds at the start of the year. Use this mindset as an opportunity to get people in your office with a giveaway as an incentive.

Example: “New year, new you! Come in for a cleaning in January and get entered for a chance to win a free Waterpik!”

Social media contests are an effective, cost-efficient, and, if done properly, invaluable marketing tool for your dental practice.

While they should never be the foundation of your dental marketing strategy, occasional contests are the added fuel that drives engagement—and with these tips, you will be well on your way to winning over your followers.


Learn more about how RevenueWell improves case acceptance and creates more close-knit relationships between dentists and their patients.
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Tweeting about quality: How social media can help improve care

Tweeting about quality: How social media can help improve care | Social Media and Healthcare |

Informing and connecting: If social media is supporting the development of quality care in Ontario and elsewhere, it is through effectively performing these two key tasks.

While social media may still only be used by a portion of health care providers, policy-makers and patients in the province, the platforms we have come to associate with social media – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. – can be influential in supporting quality care initiatives.

In developing a system that we wish to be patient-centred, social media has emerged as an important platform for allowing patients and members of the public to engage with health care providers and policy-makers to make their views clear. The degree of interaction between those with lived experience with a disease or illness with those providing their care is unprecedented thanks to online communities and social media like Twitter.

The Twitter hashtag #metoomedicine, galvanized women physicians and their supporters through Twitter to demand more equity and gender equality within the medical profession and has helped bring a much higher profile to this issue. It is an example of how social media has emerged as a powerful tool for helping health care providers share their experiences and insights. It can also help providers deal with their challenges to support the fourth pillar of the Quadruple Aim in quality care – that of enhancing provider wellbeing (although to be fair, social media can also impede this by adding more time pressures to already stressed providers or exposing practitioners to frankly hostile or upsetting views or individuals).

Social media has enhanced the development of a quality care network too, connecting people provincially, nationally and globally. Leaders in the development and promotion of quality care initiatives exist in every jurisdiction, and platforms such as Twitter allow them to share their experiences and knowledge with each other and those who follow them. Examples in Ontario include Health Quality Ontario’s own Dr. Irfan Dhalla (@IrfanDhalla), Lee Fairclough (@LFairclo) and Dr. David Kaplan (@DavidKaplanMD) and family physicians such as Dr. Sarah Newbery (@snewbery1) and Dr. Cathy Faulds (@fauldsca). Elsewhere in Canada there are others too numerous to list although some such as Dr. Dennis Kendel (@DennisKendel) in Saskatchewan merit mention because of the outstanding job they do in sharing information about quality care initiatives. Globally, health quality leaders such as Helen Bevan (@helenbevan) in the UK are highly active on social media and have shared ideas that appear in health quality presentations in Canada and elsewhere.

Conferences such as Health Quality Transformation hosted by Health Quality Ontario and the upcoming BC Quality Forum (#QF19) hosted by the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council significantly expand their reach and generate much broader conversations about quality through use of Twitter and other social media channels.

For health quality organizations such as Health Quality Ontario, social media are invaluable for sharing information and engaging about initiatives and programs. Any organization or individual choosing to use social media needs to first consider how and why they are going to use certain platforms or tools.

For instance, Health Quality Ontario (@HQOntario) uses Twitter extensively to engage with its followers and others because it has found Twitter to be the most strategically useful platform to connect with work in or use the province’s health care system. We also use Facebook because many patients and members of the public rely on Facebook to keep informed and we have much that we would like to share with them and seek their opinion. Health Quality Ontario also hosts a vibrant online community about health care quality called Quorum.

It is important to remember that social media can promote and amplify bad ideas and opinions just as easily as good. “Fake news” flourishes on social media, but that is no reason to dismiss the platforms themselves.

For those choosing to embrace social media to support quality care, it is also important not to forget that your social media contacts and online communities do not mirror the real world. As we can choose who to follow on Twitter or which Facebook or LinkedIn groups to join, we often create social media worlds that are amicable to our own worldview and, unless we are careful, can forget other voices and opinions that can be just as influential. To combat this tendency, it is good to follow people or organizations on social media who have views with which you may not agree, so as to gain a broader perspective.

Writing in this space recently, the former CEO of Health Quality Ontario Dr. Joshua Tepper (@DrJoshuaTepper) said one of the seven core competencies of leadership should be familiarity with social media and an understanding of how the growth of social media platforms “is transforming traditional communications hierarchies, means of information sharing and participation.”

I would extend this argument beyond leaders to everyone who has an interest in supporting the principles of quality care and promoting agendas that see these principles more fully enshrined on our own health care system.

Pat Rich is Senior Digital Writer at Health Quality Ontario

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Leveraging Social Media in Medicine

Social media is one of the most prevalent forms of communication and engagement, and physicians and researchers are becoming increasingly more active o
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How Social Media Can Advance Cancer Research

How Social Media Can Advance Cancer Research | Social Media and Healthcare |

Cancer kills more people in the United States than accidents, stroke, Alzheimer’s and diabetes combined. In 2017, despite spending 147 billion U.S. healthcare dollars on cancer care, 600,000 people died from cancer and 1.7 million new people were diagnosed with cancer. But the news is not all grim: in all, 2.6 million lives were saved from cancer over the past 25 years, due to a consistent yearly decrease in cancer deaths.

The improvement in cancer mortality- i.e. how likely are you to die from your newly diagnosed cancer- is the direct result of advances in cancer detection and cancer care. Clinical trials fuel this progress. At their core, clinical trials seek to improve on the current accepted treatment for a given cancer.   By enrolling patients into a clinical trial, researchers can offer investigational or unproven treatment and measure its success, or failure, in an unbiased way.

Patients with cancer are often motivated and engaged with their physicians and treatment decisions. The majority of patients seek support and resources online.  Unfortunately, fewer than 5% of patients with cancer in the United States participate in clinical trials. Why so few? Part of the reason is fear of the unknown. In a survey conducted by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York only 35% of patients responded they were “likely” to participate in a clinical trial, due to concerns about side effects, costs, location, and skepticism about receiving a placebo or unproven treatment. Yet, the actual percentage of patients who are enrolled in the U.S. is even lower, at only 5%.  The solution in increasing that rate may lie in harnessing the inherent power of social media.


Social media should be used to educate the public about the goal of clinical trials and to encourage more participation. Physicians need to create a visible presence online to dispel the common misbelief that clinical trials are only appropriate for patients who are dying, or for those left without any other treatments options.

A major deterrent to clinical trial enrollment is finding a trial you are eligible for. Social media can help recruit patients by raising awareness of open trials. Awareness is vital because the more quickly a trial is filled with patients, the sooner we can obtain its results. Trials that don’t accrue enough patients ultimately close, which means both wasted research dollars, and unanswered clinical trial questions. If we can spread awareness of open clinical trials on social media, more patients can enroll, which not only saves money, but aids the progress against cancer. As soon as we have an answer to one trial, researchers can move onto the next.


This trend has been slow to start. Researchers at the University of Southern California are investigating the utility of using Twitter to recruit patients to their institution’s clinical trials. Some patients contact physicians directly via social media, including Dr. Cathy Eng, an oncologist at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, who routinely receives messages via Twitter from patients interested in enrolling in a trial. She has also recently joined the Colontown Facebook group, which is an online community for patients with colorectal cancer. In this patient forum, Dr. Eng highlights clinical trials for patients with colorectal cancer and directly answers questions posed to her about the trials. Dr. Suzanne Cole, an oncologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has had patients who initially searched the National Cancer Institute's database of open clinical trials, who then contacted her study coordinator to enroll.

Online communities such as the #LCSM (Lung Cancer Social Media)Twitter group and the #BCSM (Breast Cancer Social Media) Twitter group both host weekly Twitter-based chats to educate patients about lung cancer. These online communities were started by and are maintained by a cooperative of patients and physicians, and have had a strong impact facilitating patient advocacy and education, including information about clinical trials.

NRG Oncology is an adult cancer clinical trials organization sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. It represents the combined efforts and members of the 3 founding cancer clinical trials organizations in the U.S.: the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), and the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG). I recently participated in their Social Media Working Group to help design their pilot program utilizing social media to share information about open clinical trials with patients.


Dr. Thomas George, an oncologist at the University of Florida who headed this mission, said "NRG Oncology recognizes the need to engage patients where they are - which today, often includes social media.  To that end, the NRG Communications Committee, with valuable input from patient advocates, is developing a comprehensive pilot program of social media-based patient engagement for clinical trial awareness and participation." NRG also prioritizes a patient-centered approach when designing their trials, and works with patient advocates and representatives for all their programs.

This movement to expand direct patient-advertising is encouraging, but more needs to be done. Social media can offer more than just information about trials because of its ability to bring researchers and patients together remotely. Currently, many clinical trials are available only at large cancer hospitals because they have the resources to run, open, and maintain trials. FDA regulations require tremendous oversight at every aspect of trial implementation, which means that small hospitals often can’t afford to enroll patients on trials. If a patient wants to enroll onto a trial, they may be required to discontinue their care at their local hospital. This is a major deterrent for patients to enroll on trials. What if a patient in rural Idaho could be enrolled onto a trial at a major cancer center in NJ? Social media should be used to recreate the framework of trial design, starting with making it easier for patients to enroll remotely. Doing so would ease the burden for physicians and patients to recommend participation in clinical trials, especially at community hospitals and in underserved areas, who don’t have the resources to maintain their own trials.

Enrolling patients onto trials more quickly would free up research dollars to run more trials, such as patient-centered trials uniquely designed by a social media community. This untapped source of volunteers from across the U.S. would be able to participate in trials in unprecedented numbers. Researchers would have open channels of communication with large numbers of patients, who they could pose questions directly to, such as “what kind of trials are you willing to participate in?”

There are real barriers to this proposed social-media driven model. Patient privacy must be protected, which means implementing strict protocols for sharing confidential patient information.  Moreover, the language used to advertise clinical trials is strictly regulated:  the future of social media driven clinical trials cannot include pitches like “Come join our trial to save your life!” Researchers need to obtain informed consent from each trial participant, which is more difficult when done remotely. And, monitoring the day-to-day running of the trial may be cumbersome, due to different physicians’ treatment style, monitoring of side effects, and determination of treatment success or failure. While the above obstacles will necessitate careful attention, the time has some to utilize social media for improving cancer care. Let’s investigate new ways to engage patients, not simply funnel them into our current inadequate paradigm.

The sooner we embrace it, the more lives we can potentially save.


Dr. Knoll can be contacted on Twitter @MKnoll_MD, on instagram @Dr.Mimi.K or via email

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Why does my medical practice need to go digital?

Why does my medical practice need to go digital? | Social Media and Healthcare |

If you are a medical practice, network of doctors, hospital or any other medical professional you need to have a digital presence. Digital can range from a simple website to a complex, custom-developed web application and everything in between. There are two main reasons your medical practice needs to go digital as soon as possible. The first reason is that online is where your patients are looking for you and the second is that your competitors are digital already. Your patients are looking online for a medical professional and they will find one. The question is how do you make sure that they are finding you?

Digital has a range of exciting opportunities which can make your life easier, attract new patients and keep your existing ones informed. Take your medical practice digital with some of these ideas.

Create a simple website to give a digital audience the what, why and where of your medical practice

If you are a local medical practice, an online listing of your name and contact information is no longer enough to keep up with a new digital generation.

The very first step to a solid digital presence is a website. It doesn’t need to have pages and pages of text (in fact it shouldn’t). But it should give at least the details of who you are, what you do and how to find and contact you. Your website will become the digital brain of your practice. Anything and everything you do and market will point to your website. Your social media, signage, business cards… everything should direct clients back to your website. Once you have your website set up, there are many digital solutions you can start to explore.

Your medical practice needs a local Google My Business listing so your patients can quickly and easily get the information they need in a hurry

Google My Business allows you to create a local listing to market to people looking for medical practices close to them. Having a local dentist or GP is hugely beneficial and these listings include vital contact information, operating hours, website links and even allow reviews. A patient might choose to drive for a specialist or even a GP who has great reviews.

Be a part of the ‘Dr Google’ trend

Since your patient will be Googling their symptoms and will already have decided their treatment plan by the time they are sitting in your consulting room, why not make sure they have the right information before they get there? Us patients know that medical professionals hate it when we do this, but we can’t help it. There is just so much information available to us digitally. What you can do is help your patients with this process by creating content around some common questions and symptoms. Once your patients trust you and are reading your content rather than the wide variety of digital information that is out there, you may not have us come to you with such crazy diagnoses. If you specialise in dermatology and are often asked the same questions in treating a certain skin ailment, make some of the information available online.

There are many applications to this idea of content creation. If you are a GP, for example, you could write up a blog article mentioning viruses doing the rounds in your area, giving lists of symptoms and basic treatment options. You can partner with schools to send notifications to parents informing them of any outbreaks they should be aware of.

Your content doesn’t all need to be freely available. You can create password protected content to remind patients of the treatment routine you have prescribed. This creates a community for your current patients and keeps them coming back.

Creating constant relevant content and becoming a thought leader in a local area or specialisation is an excellent tool for digital marketing. It will increase your organic search traffic (people who find your website by searching for a specific topic you have talked about) and improve your SEO score (the ranking Google gives your website).

Here are some other ideas around using content marketing to get more website visits.

Make your medical practice digital to save you, your staff and your patient’s time

Not everyone has the time to make an appointment during office hours. Nor does everyone want to pick up the phone and call for an appointment. Online appointment booking calendars solve all of these problems by giving patients a way to easily see which doctors are available and at which times, so they can choose a time that suits them best. This digital booking can be done at 3:27am when they are wide awake thinking of the doctor’s appointment they mustn’t forget to book. You can send them reminders, add the appointment to their calendar and set an alarm an hour before so they don’t forget or run late. Digital appointments cannot be double booked. You also now have an email address, one of the most vital bits of information for a digital marketer or for a digitally savvy medical practice. Your patient can fill in, or simply update, their personal details. No paper, no handwritten scrawl to decipher, no need to arrive 20 minutes early to do the paperwork. The best part? Your secretary didn’t need to do a thing.

What about after the appointment? You can send them the invoice digitally, thereby making it easy for them to submit to their medical aid. You can send them an automated follow-up email a week or two later to remind them to book a checkup or a questionnaire on their progress since their last appointment. If you are sending a treatment plan, a suggested diet or perhaps some side effects to watch out for then you can do that on a digital platform.

If you deal with patients diagnosed with MS, for example, why not have a set of automated emails guiding, encouraging and coaching them through living with the disease.

Even test results and patient information can be shared and stored digitally and securely where appropriate.

Integrate with health and fitness technology to take your medical practice digital

Phones and watches are constantly tracking your patient’s exercise and lifestyle. You no longer need to rely on your patient to truthfully tell you how much sleep they are getting or how much exercise they do, you can get the data to tell you the real story. Looking at lifestyle and general health as a part of a treatment plan can revolutionise the way your practice looks at digital. Integrating client health data into their medical profiles allows you to partner with your patients on a very personal level. A custom web application for dieticians can allow you to take a holistic view of your patients.

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Dating app taps genetics and social media

Dating app taps genetics and social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Years before she became a genetic scientist, Brittany Barreto dreamed of creating a way for people to find love through DNA.

“I just thought it would be so cool to connect people on a romantic level using their DNA,” said Barreto, co-founder and CEO of Pheramor, a dating app that aims to measure compatibility using physical chemistry and social rapport. “It’s nothing like designer babies or anything like that. It is, essentially, how do your genes affect who you are attracted to and who you jive with the best? How is that inscribed in your genome?”

Nearly a decade and a Ph.D. from Baylor College of Medicine later, Barreto set her plan into action. While attending a workshop hosted by Enventure—a grassroots life science startup community in Houston—she met Bin Huang, Ph.D., who became the co-founder and chief technological officer of Pheramor.

“I pitched the idea at their accelerator program and Bin, who was a doctoral candidate at Rice University at the time, also pitched an idea, but then at the end, when we had to make teams, he came up to me and said, ‘Forget my idea, I want to do your idea,’” Barreto recalled.

“I know the genetics behind attraction and Bin knows the techy side and he is on the back end writing the algorithm that is literally matching people.”

Pheramor brings couples together after analyzing a segment of each candidate’s human leukocyte antigen (HLA) gene complex—proteins that regulate the immune system—and social media history. It is one of a handful of companies launched over the past decade that uses genetics to determine romantic compatibility.

The HLA complex helps the immune system distinguish the body’s own proteins from proteins made by foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria.

“We are seeking a partner that has a different immune system compared to our own because that means that we are not related, so we will have a decreased risk of genetic disease in our progeny and our progeny will have a more diverse set of immune system genes and therefore be immune to more pathogens,” Barreto explained.

Animals also prefer mates with complementary immune systems and communicate this information through olfactory cues. The genes associated with their immune systems are tethered to pheromones, chemicals animals produce and emit that influence all sort of behavior among others in their species—including sexual attraction.

But there is no hard science on humans releasing or picking up on pheromones, in part because animals use the vomeronasal organ (VNO)—a gathering of sensory cells in the nasal cavity above the roof of the mouth—to detect pheromones, and humans do not have a functioning VNO. That’s why Pheramor takes a cheek swab from clients for DNA sequencing, rather than try to link human attraction to smell. (Confusingly, though, the company’s name merges “pheromone” with “amor,” the Spanish word for love.) As the company notes on its website, “Pheramor fully appreciates that the science of pheromones requires more research.”

Pheramor also recognizes that humans are highly social. To account for this in the matchmaking process, the team at Pheramor analyzes candidates’ social media histories before they are matched with potential suitors.

“Humans are a more complicated animal,” Huang explains. “Fifty percent is genetics, but the other 50 percent is what do you like to do? What are your common interests? We try to extract this information from your social media data because we don’t want people to answer everything themselves.”

Some research supports Pheramor’s DNA matchmaking. A 2016 study published in Scientific Reports found that the HLA complex mediates mate behavior in humans and that subjects were generally most satisfied with their relationship if their partner exhibited a dissimilar HLA type. Researchers found that HLA dissimilarity correlates with partnership, sexuality and enhances the desire to procreate.

But among scientists, the idea of human pheromones remains a hard sell. In 2018, Richard Doty, a professor of otorhinolaryngology and director of The Smell and Taste Center at the University of Pennsylvania, told Wired magazine: “The notion that there are these magical genes that are somehow associated with smells that permeate the environment and dictate our attraction to people is total nonsense. If human pheromones actually elicited the kinds of behaviors we see in other mammals, the subways of New York City would be in a constant state of mayhem with people hopping all over each other.”

Barreto and Huang launched the Pheramor app officially in September 2018.

“We have thousands of active users and have grown 50 percent month over month,” Barreto said, but declined to disclose the company’s revenue.

Once users download the app, they receive a DNA kit, do a cheek swab, return the kit and wait for their sequencing to be done.

“The app is free, but we charge $30 for the DNA testing,” Huang explained. “The processing time for the kits takes 21 business days, but the processing for us can take around one month.”

The DNA kits are processed at a lab and then returned to Pheramor. Once the data has been collected, users gain access to six profiles per day on the app. The profiles are weighted based on physical proximity of clients first, then on the gender and age each client specified. If two people like each other’s profiles, they can begin messaging one another.

In the four months the Pheramor app has been live, more than 5,000 messages have been shared between users and 20 couples have deactivated their accounts because they have met a solid match, Barreto and Huang said.

Barreto even found her own romantic partner with a cheek swab.

“As the CEO of a dating app, it would be unethical for me to meet someone on the app, but occasionally I do market research on other dating apps so I have 20 of them on my phone,” she said. “I opened one of the dating apps and I had a message from a lovely man, but the message was about a month old and it was actually a really sweet message, but he was a redhead. … I’ve never dated a redhead. I like dark features, or so I thought.”

The two ended up going on a date and hitting it off, at which point, Barreto asked the redhead if she could swab his cheek to see if they were a match. It turns out they were in the top 10 percentile of compatibility.

“This is why we are changing dating by using data,” Barreto said. “I never thought I wanted a redhead because I thought I didn’t like them, but I do. I had all of these social constructs in my mind of what I thought I should be looking for in a person, but it’s in your DNA. I thought I needed someone with an MBA who owned their own company, as well, and James is an elementary music school teacher and we jive so well.”

Barreto and Huang are working on another website for existing couples to test their compatibility through DNA. They hope to launch it this summer.

And to those think Barreto’s work sounds superficial, she has this to say: “Instead of working on something for a patient who is already in the hospital and super sick, let’s make people’s lives better from the get-go by decreasing the number of bad first dates they have to go on so they can find companionship and be happy. … We are humanizing dating using data. We are making people give humans a second chance.”

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Healthcare types: Contrary to what you’ve been taught, use social media

Healthcare types: Contrary to what you’ve been taught, use social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Joshua Mansour, M.D., a board-certified hematologist and oncologist in Stanford, California doing work in the field of  hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and cellular immunotherapy (left, exactly as shown), writes in this contributed piece, from the beginning of medical school, one of the first things instructional videos that we had to watch during orientation was about social media and what not to do.  There began this stigma and it was frowned upon to use social media if you were a healthcare provider. 

There are the obvious things that physicians should not do, such as post private information about patients, show a patient’s face without their permission, or exploit medically sensitive information.  But no one tells you what you can do and possibly what you actually should do. 

There is a new wave that has now taken over that we as a healthcare community and a community as a whole should support, especially if it is meant to help others. Most recently I have approached social media in a different way and gone out to explore what is available as a tool to help others.  What I’m finding has been mind-blowing and I am very excited to see where it continues to progress in the future. 

People are sharing their journeys, inspiring others, raising awareness.  There is a whole community of individuals working as a team to help others.  It is incredibly inspiring. 

Before recently I had thought of social media as being full of people only posting pictures of fun trips or nights out, throwing out their opinions out into the open for people to see.  We now have social impact movements, live videos with question and answers for students, people showing their tough times and how they are overcoming them.  People are reaching out to others for encouragement, collaborations, and progress. Using it to spread the message.  With the busy days of many healthcare professionals, it is difficult for them to find the time to engage with social media and with others.  There are many healthcare providers that are making an impact and finding the time to do it.  

What we need to start teaching in medical school and in other schools in not only what not to do on social media, but how to use social media in a positive light.  This is something that is happening and only continuing to grow.  It is time to get on board but shine the light in a positive manner.  Teach students from early what to do instead of only what not to do.  You never know they may be able to influence people in a way like never before. 

Recently I have recently been able to connect with others across the world and learn new things about medicine and how it is practiced in those locations.  This will help me evolve as a physician as well and has helped my patients. 

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ER doctor shares why social media is a powerful tool in helping him cope with death.

ER doctor shares why social media is a powerful tool in helping him cope with death. | Social Media and Healthcare |

Telling someone their child has just died has to be one of the most difficult things a human can do. For an emergency room physician, it’s part of their day-to-day lives. Every day there’s a chance they’ll deliver horrifying news that will forever change someone’s life.

It’s not a responsibility to be taken lightly. But it’s understandable that an emergency room physician would become calloused after years of delivering tragic news.

The physician may also be enraged after seeing another lifeless body of a young person who died due to drugs or carelessness.

That’s why a LInkedIn blog post by Dr. Louis M. Profeta, an emergency room physician practicing in Indianapolis, is so powerful.

In the post, he reveals how he comes to understand the individual importance of every life he loses on the operating table. A life of someone he never knew that was most likely delivered to him bloody, unconscious, and on a stretcher.

He looks at their Facebook profile.

You see, I’m about to change their lives — your mom and dad, that is. In about five minutes, they will never be the same, they will never be happy again. Right now, to be honest, you’re just a nameless dead body that feels like a wet bag of newspapers that we have been pounding on, sticking IV lines and tubes and needles in, trying desperately to save you. There’s no motion, no life, nothing to tell me you once had dreams or aspirations. I owe it to them to learn just a bit about you before I go in.

His post also serves as a warning to young people who think they’re invincible to the dangers posed by drugs or texting while driving.

Maybe you were texting instead of watching the road, or you were drunk when you should have Ubered. Perhaps you snorted heroin or Xanax for the first time or a line of coke, tried meth or popped a Vicodin at the campus party and did a couple shots. Maybe you just rode your bike without a helmet or didn’t heed your parents’ warning when they asked you not to hang out with that “friend,” or to be more cautious when coming to a four-way stop. Maybe you just gave up.

He then paints a disturbing picture he’s seen far too many times.

You’re kind of lucky that you don’t have to see it. Dad screaming your name over and over, mom pulling her hair out, curled up on the floor with her hand over her head as if she’s trying to protect herself from unseen blows.

By checking their Facebook page, it also helps quell his anger over a life lost far too early.

I check your Facebook page before I tell them you’re dead because it reminds me that I am talking about a person, someone they love—it quiets the voice in my head that is screaming at you right now shouting: “You mother fucker, how could you do this to them, to people you are supposed to love!”

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Scientists turn to social media to track diseases

Scientists turn to social media to track diseases | Social Media and Healthcare |

Scientists seek to predict pending pandemic

Studying human behavior on a large scale has long been used to try to predict how diseases move through a population.

In the latest twist on this principle, an online footprint may offer valuable insight to researchers who are trying to thwart deadly disease outbreaks before they become widespread.

Scientists, frustrated with insufficient prediction models, are more frequently turning to Twitter posts and Google searches to monitor in real time how viruses like seasonal influenza and other communicable diseases may spread.

But it’s complicated. As experts look at everything from local health reports to search engine statistics and complex algorithms, there remains only cautious optimism about progress.

“We think there’s some work still left to do in this space,” said Matthew Biggerstaff, an epidemiologist at the CDC in Atlanta.

Even the newest prediction models remain “way too simple” to forecast transmission, said Jorge A. Alfaro-Murillo, an associate research scientist in the Center for Infectious Disease Modeling and Analysis at the Yale School of Public Health.

CDC scientists are trying to predict flu activity accurately weeks or months before an outbreak.

Since 2013, the agency has organized a seasonal influenza prediction challenge known as FluSight, with external researchers, in an attempt to enhance the predictability potential of flu season.

Each team of flu scientists uses a different method. Some track people’s Google searches, while some evaluate flu-related hospitalizations. Others devise complex mathematical algorithms.

“We’re doing all of this to not only improve our seasonal response, but then understand how we might go about forecasting a pandemic if it occurred,” said Biggerstaff.

A pandemic is a worldwide disease outbreak that affects a large number of people.

The goal is to eventually provide a more timely, forward-looking tool that predicts flu activity instead of simply tracking it. Such a tool could improve public health decision-making and allow health officials to be more proactive.

Devising an accurate model will depend on a multifaceted approach, Biggerstaff said. But while the teams have gained new insight from the annual challenge, there’s not a clear signal yet about which model’s predictions consistently deliver the most accurate data.

Following inspiration from the FluSight challenge, a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looked at 22 different flu forecast models and compared them with each other based on their individual performances across seven influenza seasons.

The study found that more than half of the models performed better as compared to a ‘’historical baseline,’’ a model that makes predictions based on past trends.

Despite the findings, the authors of the study say they believe that their sample size of 22 models is small and not ideal to make strong conclusions about comparative model performance. They conclude that flu forecasting is a continual work in progress, limited by several factors such as data quality, geographical scale of forecasts, weather patterns and population density of the areas under surveillance.

Nevertheless, scientists at the University of Georgia hope an early warning system that they described earlier this year will be able to overcome some of the hurdles.

In a study published online in June in the Journal of Royal Society Interface, UGA researchers looked at the “contagion process,” or the way in which infectious diseases are transmitted.

“Some of the ways in which you get new infectious diseases are evolutionary, but there can also be changes in the way that people are responding to being infected,” said John Drake, an author on the study and a research professor at UGA.

The team wanted to understand the tipping point or threshold that indicates if an ecosystem is prone to an outbreak based on factors such as the number of infections caused by a pathogen and how easy it is for the pathogen to be transmitted.

“What we’re interested in is if you can measure how far you are from that threshold based on how many infections you see in a population,” Drake explained.

Based on mathematical calculations, the team came up with a formula to measure the approximate distance to the time when the tipping point is likely to turn into an outbreak. They were able to predict changes in the distance to thresholds that are generally known to change over time, and were also able to demonstrate how those changes could be tracked.

The researchers say they believe their approach may apply to a range of diseases, including pathogens such as Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus and vaccine-preventable diseases like measles.

The study is part of a larger project called Project AERO — which stands for Anticipating Emerging and Reemerging Outbreaks — and is funded by the National Institutes of Health to help develop early warning signals for infectious diseases.

It’s important to note that several mathematical models have been established in the past. So far none offers a perfect solution to the problem of predicting pandemics.

Modeling can be useful, but they are not yet ready for prime time, said Yale’s Alfaro-Murillo, whose research is also dedicated to the mathematical modeling of infectious diseases.

He said he agrees that the UGA research is interesting and of theoretical value, but he also says we’re still far from being able to predict an outbreak. A good model should be sensitive enough to differentiate between different diseases occurring in different geographical locations.

The only viable test to prove the appropriateness of a mathematical model is existing data and applying the model to disease cases in real time.

While a usable concept is still distant, researchers are not backing down.

“The truth is we’re not very good at making those predictions,” Drake said. “But sometimes poor predictions are better than no predictions at all.”

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5 Best Practices for Marketing to Physicians

5 Best Practices for Marketing to Physicians | Social Media and Healthcare |

Whether your goals involve recruiting, marketing to physicians for referrals or strengthening physician relationships, follow these best practices for connecting with one of the most sought-after—and fiercely hard to reach—healthcare audiences.

Email is the preferred means of initial communication.

According to a 2018 HealthLink Dimensions survey of more than 700 physicians, email is the preferred channel for receiving industry news, product updates, announcements or research, and educational opportunities. This is followed by interactions via in-person visits and direct mail. Only 3 percent of surveyed physicians have used social media for business communications. 

Pro Tip: When engaging physicians (or any audience) via email, it's important to measure the performance of each deployment and identify elements that can be optimized. We recommend A/B testing subject lines for the impact on open rate and article topics and calls to action for the impact on click rate. To illustrate the advantages of testing, True North Custom was able to help a children's hospital achieve an email open rate that blew industry averages out of the water by leveraging this data-driven approach.

Content should be educational.

According to the HealthLink Dimensions survey, “medical professionals prefer marketers to act as information partners.” This can include content about innovative techniques and technology, continuing medical education opportunities, and other topics that offer value and help them manage and grow their practices and careers.

Pro Tip: Physicians trust credible news sources (think JAMA, New York Times), so find ways to align your content with timely, relevant topics featured within those information sources where they're already consuming content (aka newsjacking).

Content must be mobile-friendly. 

It's simple: Physicians are constantly on their smartphones — with more than 75 percent reporting the use of mobile health in their practices on a weekly basis.

Pro Tip: Consider using video as one of the most engaging and mobile-friendly formats, and feature peers rather than patients as physicians prefer a more clinical perspective when reading about new treatments and technology.

Speak their language.

When marketing to physicians, it is critically important to understand their clinical or academic focus and target them using the terminology that matches their specific discipline. "Context is king," according to MediaPost.

Pro Tip: When working to engage physicians, segment the audience by specific practice areas like electrophysiology or interventional cardiology and plan content accordingly. 

Always think, “What’s in it for them?”

Make sure your outreach includes a compelling offer or call to action, which could include downloading a free white paper, signing up for a relevant e-newsletter or another incentive that align with their professional interests.

Pro Tip: Subscribing to your physician-focused newsletter is an excellent call to action, as it allows doctors to stay current on relevant medical topics while keeping your organization top of mind to drive referral and reputation development. For example, a nationally ranked children's hospital leveraged targeted physician emails to increase reputation scores that helped boost U.S. News & World Report rankings.

NOTE: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been updated for freshness.

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5 Ways to Capture The Patient’s Journey With Digital Healthcare Marketing 

5 Ways to Capture The Patient’s Journey With Digital Healthcare Marketing  | Social Media and Healthcare |

With information available at our fingertips, it should come as no surprise that our phones have evolved into a symptom-checker and the place to evaluate a doctor’s reputation or schedule an appointment. One in every 20 Google searches is health related, 57% of consumers go online first to research a specific health condition, and 72% of patients check provider reviews before booking appointments.

This behavior is an extension of what Google’s content marketing team, Think with Google, describes as micro-moments, which “have been accelerating consumer expectations for right here, right now experiences.”

Our mobile-dependent culture has led healthcare patients to demand the same convenience, availability, and instant access they receive from retail providers. Are healthcare marketers ready to take advantage of these micro-moments? Here are five ways to move the patient’s journey forward with digital healthcare marketing.

1. SEO-Optimize For Local
Patients search locally for healthcare providers, so it’s important to land on the first page of search results. This first position of Google search results brings a 33% clickthrough rate. To move up, or stay, on the first page of search, your site must include regularly updated content that is driven by your patient’s needs. Search engines rank content by how well it matches their questions, so you must build a robust content arsenal around specific symptoms people search for within your specialty, with a strong base of appropriate keywords. Use the same keywords used by your patients and explore new keywords with search tools, such as Google Trends, to target the most popular healthcare words used in your region.

While providing location-specific health-related content on your website and on social platforms is essential, the most pivotal spot for ensuring you are optimized for local is through your Google My Business page listing. If you haven’t claimed your business, do so now. Ensure your category, description, phone number and website are accurate. Boost your presence by answering, in advance, the questions searchers want to know. For example, do you provide free parking? Where? What insurance plans do you accept? Are you taking new patients?

2. Build Credibility with Video
While it’s important to give prospective patients a variety of content paths to reach you with blog posts, email, newsletters infographics, and E-books, video’s power to educate is unparalleled. YouTube is on its way of becoming the most visited internet site, giving you one more opportunity to meet prospective patients where they already are. Healthcare facilities and physicians can use video to create:

● Physician profile videos: Build trust and a welcoming bedside manner with a physician or practice video that highlights specialties and accomplishments. Give prospective patients a reason to choose you by highlighting your experience, credentials, and commitment to quality care.
● Patient review videos: Testimonials and reviews, covered more below, help build credibility and provide additional search-optimized content.
● Procedure and treatment overviews: Health-related concerns can often be high-anxiety moments. Break down complex procedures, and patient pre and out-patient instructions, into informative short video demonstrations.
● FAQ: Give patients answers to the questions they want to know.

3. Optimize For Voice 
Consumer’s growing comfort with personal assistants and voice-assisted search should be reflected in your content. Match your content around natural language searches to increase the likelihood of bots finding and reading your content back to the patient.

4. Proactively Respond to Negative Reviews 
In 2018, nearly 72 percent of patients used online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor, and 42% of patients viewing health information on social media are exploring health-related consumer reviews. Google believes reviews are so important that stars are placed alongside each physician in search results. While the validity of many of these online review sites may not always accurately reflect your competency, online reviews give patients the social proof they’re looking for to make decisions faster. Check your own reviews on Google, Yelp, HealthGrades, Vitals, and ZocDoc social media.

More importantly, develop a strategy to consistently cultivate positive reviews on your website and social media channels by asking for them from patients. Consistently updating your website with customer reviews ensures a steady flow of new, unique content, which boosts your chances of landing on page one of search. Leveraging your patient experiences through testimonials provides valuable information for patients looking for similar issues while giving search engines the same natural language keywords patients are using to search.

5. Tap To Schedule
An Accenture survey shows 77 percent of patients place a high priority on the ability to book, change or cancel appointments online. Ensure your patient portal not only includes the ability to book an appointment, but also the ability for patients to access their own private health information and to pay bills electronically. With society’s priority for mobile, consider giving patients access to your practice with a progressive web app, optimized for mobile and tablets. To help patients remember appointment times and reduce no-shows, offer a text messaging app for appointment reminders.

Digital access to healthcare research, provider reviews, and treatment options have created a new generation of empowered consumers. They are much more selective about their choice of providers, treatment options, and more likely to take a proactive role in their care. As a provider, your overriding goal has always been to improve the continuum of care for your patients. The key today is recognizing that the patient journey no longer begins with that first office visit, but rather with a search on a mobile device. Do you have the digital resources in place that consumers are searching for so that they will book that first appointment with you?

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Social Media Marketing Strategies & Ideas for Orthodontists 

Social Media Marketing Strategies & Ideas for Orthodontists  | Social Media and Healthcare |

Is your orthodontics practice using social media to its full potential? You could be missing out on attracting potential patients and engaging with your current ones. Check out these social media marketing strategies that we recommend to orthodontists that will help you increase your online engagement and reach your community. 

1. Facebook

As an orthodontics practice, you should be targeting parents to get their kids in for a consultation. Eighty-four percent of Facebook users are adults ages 30-49, so you should be using Facebook to reach them. 

2. Instagram 

Bring your practice to life with Instagram! It’s a great way to give patients an insight into your practice and your team. An inviting and exciting practice is appealing for potential patients (especially kids and teens).

3. Facebook Ads

Creating targeted ads to attract patients is a great way to invest your marketing budget. 

4. Social Media Handouts

Handing out social media cards at your office is a great way for people to know which social media platforms they can follow you on.

5. Ask for Engagement

People like to do what they’re told, so tell them what to do. Examples of this include asking for a comment, a like, a share, or a follow. This actually works more often than you think, so try it out!

6. Don’t Forget Pinterest

Although it may not be beneficial for your practice to have a Pinterest in terms of gaining new patients, it is beneficial because Pinterest is a great way to find interesting facts, blog posts, and infographics. These pieces of content work great to repurpose on your more active social media profiles. 

7. Branded Images 

A social media marketing plan with good branding is essential. When possible, use the same approach for Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. A simple tool is Canva if you don’t have a great designer on staff.

8. Have Fun!

People are sometimes just on social media to get a good smile or laugh, so give it to them. You’ll be surprised by the awesome results!

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How to Use Social Media Stories to Attract Millennial Patients

How to Use Social Media Stories to Attract Millennial Patients | Social Media and Healthcare |

As companies look to generate the largest marketing ROI possible, focusing on attracting the Millennial market can pay off big. Ranging in age from 22-38 years old, this generation has the most purchasing power at approximately $600 billion dollars,1 according to the most recent estimates. With such a large purchasing power, healthcare marketers must find the most effective ways to connect and engage with the Millennial audience.

Unlike their older Baby Boomer counterparts, Millennials are more likely to explore alternative healthcare options and leverage social media as a way to stay informed of healthcare trends and lifestyle movements.2 In fact, 88% of Millennials use some form of social media every day,3 with many spending at least 6 hours a day on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Leading companies are taking advantage of these social habits and finding creative ways to get their brand in front of Millennials on the very platforms that they already frequent. And, the use of social media stories is an emerging strategy that is serving to help healthcare providers quickly engage with prospective patients and grow their social media following. Here are the top three ways that social media stories can enhance your company’s social media marketing to attract Millennials.




Give your followers a varied experience

The world of social media is always changing to give users and businesses new ways to interact with one another. The story feature does just that and enables you to give new and current followers more ways to see your product or service in action. Stories can also be a great way to highlight a specific product, a new product launch, or even a customer testimonial. In this sense, your company’s story can be a supplement to what is already posted on your social media feeds, but can also act as “exclusive” content that is changed daily.


Get in front of more prospective Millennial patients

The story space is relatively untapped (as of now), allowing you to get premium placement for paid ads. Unlike a traditional social media advertisement that can be bypassed in someone’s social media feed, paid story advertisements have been able to generate higher interaction and ROI. With some platforms such as Snapchat reporting up to 60% ad engagement. This means you can get in front of a larger audience, for less, and have better patient acquisition results.


Bring your brand to life

Millennials have grown up being immersed in technology – and being constantly bombarded with thousands of marketing messages every day. Being able to connect with them and build brand loyalty is key. And, leveraging stories to share the human elements of your brand can be an amazing opportunity to build that brand awareness. In fact, 62% of Millennial’s report that they are more likely to purchase from companies that interact with them on social media.4 By using the story feature to advertise promotions, announce follower contests, or share an impactful quote, it’s easy to begin connecting with the Millennial audience.

With 300 million and 400 million users actively interacting with social media stories on Facebook and Instagram, respectively, leveraging this fast-growing feature can serve to be an effective way to attract prospective patients.5 The key is to post regularly and choose content that is appealing to the Millennial market.

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To post or not to post? That is the question for DOs on social media

To post or not to post? That is the question for DOs on social media | Social Media and Healthcare |

Using social media to reach potential patients and connect with current patients can be an important step in growing your practice and establishing a brand. DOs who’ve learned to do so effectively have developed an awareness of what works for their practice and their goals.

Whether to tweet, share, like, follow or otherwise engage is part of the growing conversation on social media in the medical profession. More than half of millennials and more than four out of 10 adults are or would like to be friends with or follow their health care providers on social media, an AOA survey found last year.

To help DOs maneuver within the social media landscape, the AOA has developed suggestions for professional conduct on social media, which are shared below. The DO also spoke with two DOs who successfully use social media for different purposes.

‘Social media can benefit any physician’

Jonathan Bruner, DO, runs a private practice specializing in musculoskeletal medicine for women and children in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Dr. Bruner shares links to helpful health-related articles with his followers via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. “Social media can benefit any physician. You don’t have to be out there every day,” he said.

Jonathan Bruner, DO

To attract new patients, Dr. Bruner uses patient testimonials on his website. “Because of HIPAA, we cannot use patient photos, but patient reviews are highly effective,” he said.

Social media can also help physicians who aren’t currently in practice develop a brand and connect with an audience. Ron Holt, DO, a retired San Francisco-based psychiatrist, is the author of six books and creator of a video series that promotes LGBTQ advocacy and awareness. Dr. Holt has found success in sharing his advocacy efforts on social media.

“Interact with those who have a genuine interest in the same topics you do,” Dr. Holt said. “It’s not about the number of followers you have, but the quality of followers you have. It’s a slow and organic process.”

Setting limits

While using social media, setting limits is key to maintaining a professional presence, Dr. Bruner said, noting that he stays away from religion and personal details.

Jonathan Bruner, DO, shares health-related articles on social media and uses testimonials shared on social media to attract new patients.

“I try to keep it very professional. I don’t promote too much engagement,” Dr. Bruner said. “It generates discussion but it gets tricky. I actually avoid it. When you get engagement, you lose your control and now you’ve got things on your page you can’t control.”

Dr. Holt steers clear of responding in-kind to anything negative. “I do not get into politics or religion on social media. I do not engage with comments that are negative or unfavorable,” he said. “We are all entitled to our opinions, and no one wins when you engage with negativity.”

Ron Holt, DO

As physicians, DOs also need to be mindful of the power of their words, especially on the internet, Dr. Holt noted.

“As a physician, I never give professional advice on social media or post anything that would resemble forming a physician-patient relationship,” he said.

AOA suggests doctors can stay professional on social media by:

Ensuring patient confidentiality

Patient privacy is of the utmost concern under ethical requirements and state and federal privacy laws, such as HIPAA. Never post identifiable patient information on social media platforms, even if you are posting anonymously.

Maintaining professional relationships

Consider creating separate accounts/pages/handles for professional and personal interactions. It’s okay to ignore personal requests from patients on accounts that are not used for professional purposes.

Citing your sources

Just as you would cite sources if writing a letter to a medical journal, be sure to note whether information you’re posting online is based upon scientific studies, expert consensus, professional experience or personal opinion, when possible. Clearly state if opinions are your own on forums that may include patients.

Thinking before you post

Strive for accuracy, and when in doubt, pause and think carefully before posting in a public forum. Each post shared on social media platforms has the potential to negatively impact not only one’s own reputation, but also the public’s perception of the osteopathic medical profession.

Checking account privacy settings

Use strict privacy settings to limit who can access your content and/or photos wherever possible. Privacy settings on social media sites often change, so be sure to confirm settings regularly.

Disclosing conflicts of interest

Any information or advice offered on a website or social media site should clearly state financial, professional or personal information that could impact any statements made. This includes discussions, reviews, retweets or other comments on products or services.

Providing advice with caution

Be cautious when providing medical advice online. You could be liable for advice given to patients with whom you haven’t conducted an appropriate in-person exam. It’s advisable to recommend that patients seek in-person patient care for any medical concerns.

Responding appropriately

If you disagree with others’ opinions, keep your response appropriate and polite by avoiding any negative statements about other medical professionals that could be construed as libelous. Also, use caution about statements made when responding to negative comments about you or your place of employment on social media.

Renters insurance 's comment, February 13, 3:40 AM
Very true
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Top Social Media Marketing Trends For Your Marketing Strategy

Top Social Media Marketing Trends For Your Marketing Strategy | Social Media and Healthcare |

Social media plays a key factor in your digital marketing strategy for your medical practice. It helps you connect with patients, improve patient retentions, and even get better SEO results. You are making things significantly harder for your practice if you are not already on social media.

That said, it is important to understand that social media is ever-changing. It is constantly evolving and adapting to new trends which can become difficult to keep up with. These are the top social media marketing trends that are completely changing how patients perceive and interact with a medical practice.

Effective Live Streaming

Live streaming is known to get better responses than pre-recorded videos. These take the level of commitment and patient-dentist relationship to a completely new level.

Social media gives you the option to live stream what you are doing without having to pre-record a video, develop it, edit it, and worry that you should start over because it was not exactly what you were looking for.

You can give your patients an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at how a clinic functions. This is helpful in easing a patient’s mind and getting rid of pre-appointment anxieties. Personalized patient experiences matter in today’s digital healthcare world.

You can offer your patients a natural call-to-action with this tool, as well. For instance, you can offer a promotion online for particular procedures during the holiday season while live streaming and interacting directly with patients who may have questions and comments that you can answer in real time.

A Prescence on All Platfroms with Video

One of the dominant tools of social media marketing continues to be videos. If you are not already on social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube, then you are missing a huge opportunity of digital marketing. You can get in touch with numerous potential patients and referrals by being active through Instagram Stories and YouTube videos.

Your best efforts should be focused on all niche video social media platforms where you can offer personalized patient experiences, which is something patients of all generations expect from their medical professionals. Video goes beyond what regular content and text cannot do. People are visual learners by habit and are much more easily impressed by what they see, rather than what they read.

You can also connect with a far larger share of patient audience by recognizing the versatility and popularity of video channels. For instance, you can upload videos on YouTube regarding common medical questions that patients have. This will help you on two fronts – marketing, as well as, establishing you as an authority in your field.

Utilizing Augmented Reality

There are already many small ways by which augmented reality and virtual reality are making themselves known. The impact is small, but significant, and demonstrates that these markets are here to last well into the future. The more obvious markets such as Snapchat’s facial filters, among others, are likely to grow rapidly in the foreseeable future.

You should take advantage of these filters to help attract more patients. Social media, like everything else on the internet, gives you a small window period to retain a patient’s attention.

Augmented reality features can be a powerful tool if used in the right manner. You can personalize interaction more effectively and better adjust your social media marketing strategies when the feature becomes more prevalent across all platforms.

Communications with Patients on Chatbots and Messenger Apps

Messenger apps are an effective tool to help patients reach out to doctors and other healthcare professionals. This can be better recognized by the ease of interaction and connection made possible by Facebook Messenger. It is important to understand that users on Facebook are not always customers looking for goods and services.

However, if a potential patient lands on your clinic or practice’s page and finds something interesting they are curious about, then you can reach out to them via chatbots to answer their query or otherwise initiate a conversation. This could ultimately lead to a user becoming a recurring patient. Currently, WhatsApp, Messenger and Kik are some of the more popular messenger apps as well.

Connecting with young adults

Generation Z is fast entering the workforce and have the maturity to make their own medical decisions. It is best to include this audience in your target patient profile. Many medical practices have already begun offering discounts and ready information on social media websites, which are more frequented by this age group.

You should create videos and develop social media content targeted especially at this age group. This is more important if your practice is in the area of preventative healthcare and cosmetic enhancements.

Connecting with other influencers

Social media is all about connections and networking. This does not just refer to your patients, but, also peers and other influencers in the medical industry.

YouTube is one of the major areas where you connect with influencers. You can identify an influencer if the video is a sponsored video with thousands of subscribers. You can promote your medical services by reaching out to these influencers because they have huge fan followings.

However, this boils down to offering personalized patient experience. YouTubers become popular by developing content that relates to tons of people. These people are hesitant to trust medical care facilities which are not authentic.

Hence, you need to take advantage of social engineering and encourage an influencer to promote your medical services as honest, trustworthy and something that can relate to a patient’s experience.

Involving patients

As mentioned earlier, social media is about networking. It is also a two way communication street. You need to engage your patients and involve them any way you can to become more active on your account. This will increase your user-generated content by way of photos, videos and reviews. This is an excellent way of improving the overall patient experience.

User-generated content can give a big boost to your SEO strategy as well because search engines prefer content created by unpaid followers of a healthcare business. In this technology driven market, word of mouth referrals are still considered significant. Patients do not fall for marketing tactics by sub-standard healthcare professionals anymore.

This kind of content humanizes your practice and you. People do not just see your side of the story, but, recognize that what you are saying is actually true when they read other people’s review. This could be anything from your commitment to patient care, empathy or a great patient experience.

Final Thoughts

Social media marketing for doctors is about improving engagement with patients, navigating them towards your medical practice, and then leaving them with the freedom to choose. You can use social media to promote your online reputation and win new patients without directly or aggressively marketing your medical services or products.

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3 Effective Levers To Grow Your Practice

3 Effective Levers To Grow Your Practice | Social Media and Healthcare |

As the first quarter of the year continues to accelerate, we find that many business owners, executives, and practice managers begin to refocus their efforts on business development and marketing. And, when refocusing, savvy management tends to identifies low hanging fruits from which to gain early wins and a strong start. Here are three of these low hanging fruits which can act as levers of effective growth for your company.

1. Citations

Citations are perhaps one of the most overlooked marketing opportunities out there.  As a local business, your Google rank is based off of only 3 things:

  1. Proximity: How close is your business to the person searching.
  2. Reviews: How many do you have and what’s the average rating (more on this below).
  3. Authority: How many places is your business listed (or cited) across the internet.

Now, 90% of companies cover the basics; listing their businesses on Facebook, Google, Yelp, etc. However, that’s not enough if you want to be consistently bringing in new business from local Google searches.

In the Physical Therapy industry specifically, there are 44 top sites your business should be listed on and over 100 more that are not as important but do help to boost your rank.

Listing your business on these sites is as simple as creating an account and filling out your business profile. Citation errors can be a big problem too.  If your business has an address of 123 main street on Facebook, but has 456 main street listed on Yelp — Google will get confused and doc points from your authority score.

To find out what sites your business is listed on and what sites it isn’t as well as any citation errors you may have, you can CLICK HERE to get all of our best citation resources.

2. Reviews

Consumer studies have been diving deep into the behaviors of patients as they’ve become less “accepting buyers” of clinical services and products — but, rather… they are now sophisticated healthcare consumers.


  1. 77% of patients use online reviews as their first step in choosing a new provider.
  2. 84% of consumers trust online reviews as being reliable and genuine.
  3. 91% will read them, regardless of their feelings about online reviews.
  4. 50% of general online users searching a medical condition are also searching for a specific provider.

Beyond that, payers are also asking about internal reviews — a truly unexpected data set; a metric they are beginning to take interest in.

The fact is this: There are many combinations and permutations of purchasing behaviors that healthcare consumers are using to make their shopping decisions. However, one consistent thing is — they WILL check your reviews and they WILL be looking at your website as well as…. your social media channels.

3. Social Media

For so long, healthcare companies proudly relied on word of mouth to achieve practice growth. For quite some time, this was effective and good. Historically, advertising dollars were seen as a cost to the system, rather than fuel to grow a business. As such, many organizations approached marketing with a posture of “losing less” rather than “winning more.”

If we continue to follow the evidence where it leads versus where we hope it leads — we find the corollary facts in healthcare consumer behavior in regards to social media, not unlike that highlighted in terms of reviews:

  1. Nearly 80% of healthcare consumers state that a health provider’s trustworthiness is the most important & desired trait.
  2. For which, 68% of consumers state they would be willing to travel further for a better healthcare experience.
  3. 41% of consumers admit that social media would affect their choice.
  4. 43% of baby boomers are using social media for health information.

As much as healthcare consumers trust online reviews to get a sense of the overall experience, they are also using social media to check up on healthcare companies before they truly buy in.

Being that Social Media is literally Word of Mouth 2.0 — it is the ideal ecosphere for practices to authentically connect with pre-purchasing customers in channels that can lead to direct communication and conversation.

And, despite some recent times of concern with platforms such as Facebook, the statistics are overwhelming — “With the exception of people over the age of 65, more than half of Americans in every age group say they are on Facebook.” AND, that’s just Facebook… not to mention all the numbers behind Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, NextDoor, YouTube, etc. etc. etc.

If practices wish to grow, they must connect with the audience where they already are; healthcare companies can quickly and easily do so through strategic use of social media.

Some Closing Thoughts

The beauty of online marketing is that it is quickly and easily scalable. Thanks to technology and the ultimate playing field leveler in “the digital footprint” (websites, reviews, citations, and social media) — these become a crucial part in creating the strongest reach in scaling your brand’s message to the right audience, for the right action, at the right time.

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