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Responding to online patient reviews: Legal and practical considerations for physicians

Responding to online patient reviews: Legal and practical considerations for physicians | Social Media and Healthcare |

In the age of immediate access to online platforms such as Google, Yelp and Healthgrades, patients are able to share physician reviews, many of which are positive but at times can be negative and potentially false. Negative reviews are damaging to a physician’s professional and personal reputation, but the way a physician responds may have a longer and far worse effect. Before a physician responds to a negative online review, he or she should consider the legal implications.

Physicians and other health care providers should know that online sites with patient reviews are immune from most litigation under Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act (the “Act”).1 The Act was passed by Congress in part to promote the continued development of the internet and encourage free market competition.2 The Act sets forth that “[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”3 In other words, in most instances, the Act holds online sites immune from liability for defamatory statements made by a third party.

Defending oneself has pitfalls

Physicians should also be cautious in responding to online patient reviews, to avoid an allegation of a privacy violation. Even if a patient has shared his or her own personal medical information online, physicians are still barred from disclosing patient information under HIPAA and state privacy laws. As a physician, it can be frustrating to receive a negative or false review. And yet, it is important not to defend treatment decisions online or even acknowledge that a person who shared a review was a patient. Rather than responding directly to patient reviews and becoming the target of a potential lawsuit, physicians may want to consider less-defensive strategies. Health care providers tempted to sue patients for defamation related to online reviews and postings should also be aware of Indiana’s so-called Anti-SLAPP Statute4, which provides for prompt dismissal of litigation aimed at squelching free speech in connection with a public issue and an award of attorney’s fees.

Some alternatives for physicians

One alternative is to contact the patient by phone, or offer to meet with them in person to discuss the situation and reach a mutual understanding. If the patient was upset about a treatment decision, it may be helpful to revisit the conversation and explain best practices or standards used by your practice, hospital or other medical setting. Physicians can also take the approach of encouraging patient reviews from all patients, as increased positive reviews may lessen the impact of a few negative reviews. Finally, physicians should utilize social media and other online platforms to their advantage by keeping online profiles updated.

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

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

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#FluStory: this doctor started a Twitter thread to show the real impact of influenza

#FluStory: this doctor started a Twitter thread to show the real impact of influenza | Social Media and Healthcare |

When Dr Jennifer Gunter took to Twitter to share her stories on the influenza, she had no idea it would go viral’

Dr Gunter, a gynaecologist, is no stranger to social media. A prolific blogger and social media commentator, she has a stunning 148,000 Twitter followers – putting her in the top 0.1% of the Twitter elite.

But even by her own stellar standards, Dr Gunter’s latest viral thread on influenza is a smash hit. Tired of hearing how flu isn’t a big deal, she called on her enormous band of followers to share their real-life #FluStory. The responses were inspiring, shocking and deeply sad.

Jennifer Gunter

I am so tired of hearing how influenza isn’t a “big deal” from anti vaccine forces. Personal stories can sway opinion. If facts did, we wouldn’t have falling vaccination rates. So if you have a #flustory to share please add it. Maybe it will change some minds. I’ll go 1st

2,128 people are talking about this


She kicked things off by describing her own son’s experience.

Jennifer Gunter

I am so tired of hearing how influenza isn’t a “big deal” from anti vaccine forces. Personal stories can sway opinion. If facts did, we wouldn’t have falling vaccination rates. So if you have a #flustory to share please add it. Maybe it will change some minds. I’ll go 1st

Jennifer Gunter

When my son Oliver, who was born at 26 weeks weighing 1 lb 11 oz. who also had serious congenital heart disease, was 2 years old despite being vaccinated he caught the flu and was in the ICU for a week. He is 15 and still has sequelae. #flustory

96 people are talking about this


Dr Gunter also recalled her own bout of H1N1 during the early phases of the pandemic.

Jennifer Gunter

When my son Oliver, who was born at 26 weeks weighing 1 lb 11 oz. who also had serious congenital heart disease, was 2 years old despite being vaccinated he caught the flu and was in the ICU for a week. He is 15 and still has sequelae. #flustory

Jennifer Gunter

I had H1N1 the spring it first hit before a vaccine was available. I thought I was going to die. For 2 days I crawled 10 feet to the bathroom and back. Took a week before I could work. My son had to take Tamiflu and I was TERRIFIED he was going to get it. #flustory

105 people are talking about this


Some parents bravely shared stories of otherwise healthy children who had died from influenza, including a father who lost their three-year-old girl.

Jennifer Gunter

I am so tired of hearing how influenza isn’t a “big deal” from anti vaccine forces. Personal stories can sway opinion. If facts did, we wouldn’t have falling vaccination rates. So if you have a #flustory to share please add it. Maybe it will change some minds. I’ll go 1st


My daughter Emily died from Influenza at age 3. This was in 2004 when vaccination was not recommended for her age group. She was healthy. Her death occurred suddenly on the 5th day of her illness, at home, and changed our lives forever.

23 people are talking about this


A mother described how her young son had developed a minor fever that quickly developed into a fatal illness. She has since become a vocal flu vaccine advocate and set up a website dedicated to Jude.

Jennifer Gunter

I am so tired of hearing how influenza isn’t a “big deal” from anti vaccine forces. Personal stories can sway opinion. If facts did, we wouldn’t have falling vaccination rates. So if you have a #flustory to share please add it. Maybe it will change some minds. I’ll go 1st

Jill Promoli@jillpromoli

My perfectly healthy two-year-old woke up with a low-grade fever and died hours later. Influenza B stopped his heart. I knew the flu was serious. I didn't know it could cause organ failure. I didn't know it killed ~3500 Canadians every year. #flustory #forjudeforeveryone

417 people are talking about this


Others shared stories of adults who had died from flu.

Jennifer Gunter

I am so tired of hearing how influenza isn’t a “big deal” from anti vaccine forces. Personal stories can sway opinion. If facts did, we wouldn’t have falling vaccination rates. So if you have a #flustory to share please add it. Maybe it will change some minds. I’ll go 1st

Dr Steffanie Strathdee, Superbug Slayer @chngin_the_wrld

When I sat with my husband Tom in the #ICU where he fought his deadly #superbug infection I watched a man in Bed fighting the #flu, visited by his wife & two girls. I wished Tom was as healthy as Bed 9 was, a middle aged previously healthy guy. Until he died. #ThePerfectPredator

Voir les autres Tweets de Dr Steffanie Strathdee, Superbug Slayer 


Several posters spoke about influenza during pregnancy. The flu vaccine is recommended by the WHO for pregnant women.

Jennifer Gunter

I am so tired of hearing how influenza isn’t a “big deal” from anti vaccine forces. Personal stories can sway opinion. If facts did, we wouldn’t have falling vaccination rates. So if you have a #flustory to share please add it. Maybe it will change some minds. I’ll go 1st

Mary Beth Miotto MD@MAhealthforkids

Flu shots weren’t recommended during my 1st pregnancy.I’d gotten one annually before that.Caught the flu from a patient,broke 2 ribs from pneumonia 6 months into the pregnancy and the rest was even tougher.Had been on steroids for my chronic disease. Delivered early.#flustory

See Mary Beth Miotto MD's other Tweets
Jennifer Gunter

I am so tired of hearing how influenza isn’t a “big deal” from anti vaccine forces. Personal stories can sway opinion. If facts did, we wouldn’t have falling vaccination rates. So if you have a #flustory to share please add it. Maybe it will change some minds. I’ll go 1st

Kyla Boyse@boysek

Here's my #flustory. I had influenza when I was in my early 30's, about 14 weeks into a pregnancy. I coughed so hard, I fractured a rib. My temp was up to 105. I couldn't breathe. I spent some time in the ED getting stabilized with breathing treatments and IV fluids. 1/

Voir les autres Tweets de Kyla Boyse


This mother spoke of her fear of losing a baby after she was struck down by the virus.

Jennifer Gunter

I am so tired of hearing how influenza isn’t a “big deal” from anti vaccine forces. Personal stories can sway opinion. If facts did, we wouldn’t have falling vaccination rates. So if you have a #flustory to share please add it. Maybe it will change some minds. I’ll go 1st

EJ Willingham

8 weeks pregnant w second child. Fever spiked to intractable 105+, husband on phone w OB, was told (unusually) to give me both acetaminophen& IB. Completely immobile for 3 days seriously ill for 2 weeks, terrified I would lose the pregnancy or that infx/fever had harmed fetus.

See EJ Willingham's other Tweets


Several posts focused from people who had survived the flu spoke of the disruptive effect it had had on their lives. A student in Scotland recalled how they had missed school due to influenza, fallen behind on their studies, and failed a maths exam.

Jennifer Gunter

I am so tired of hearing how influenza isn’t a “big deal” from anti vaccine forces. Personal stories can sway opinion. If facts did, we wouldn’t have falling vaccination rates. So if you have a #flustory to share please add it. Maybe it will change some minds. I’ll go 1st

SomeCallMeLaz (BSc)@SomeCallMeLaz

Got flu March final year HS. Had to sleep upright as choking on phlegm. Missed 7/8 days of school, another wk of half days. Fell behind enough I had to drop a subject & undoubtedly dropped grades in final exams, including failing Higher Maths by just a couple of marks. #flustory

See SomeCallMeLaz (BSc)'s other Tweets


Health professionals were also quick to weigh in with their stories.

Jennifer Gunter

I am so tired of hearing how influenza isn’t a “big deal” from anti vaccine forces. Personal stories can sway opinion. If facts did, we wouldn’t have falling vaccination rates. So if you have a #flustory to share please add it. Maybe it will change some minds. I’ll go 1st

ANE International@aneinternationa

Where should I start - with the mother I spoke with today who lost her dancing 5 year old last week. The teenage triathlete whose death devastated a whole community. The 11 mth old still in a coma at this moment. My own daughter unvaccinated for flu who now has a brain injury.

See ANE International's other Tweets


This intensive care nurse described some of the horrors she has witnessed.

Jennifer Gunter

I am so tired of hearing how influenza isn’t a “big deal” from anti vaccine forces. Personal stories can sway opinion. If facts did, we wouldn’t have falling vaccination rates. So if you have a #flustory to share please add it. Maybe it will change some minds. I’ll go 1st


I work in an ICU, and watching parents of an otherwise healthy, strong 17 year old boy say goodbye because the nitric, proning, and VV ECMO couldn’t get him through the flu is heartbreaking. #flustory

63 people are talking about this


Jennifer Gunter

I am so tired of hearing how influenza isn’t a “big deal” from anti vaccine forces. Personal stories can sway opinion. If facts did, we wouldn’t have falling vaccination rates. So if you have a #flustory to share please add it. Maybe it will change some minds. I’ll go 1st

Gloria K. Aggrey, MD@GAggreyMD

Humbled by #flustory tweets. As an infectious disease doc I see what flu does to perfectly healthy people. As they struggle on life support, pronation, ECMO, dialysis, etc. family/docs look to us to find something else to explain what's going on. But no, it's all INFLUENZA.

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Social Media Marketing Guide for Dentist And How To Get More Customers

Social Media Marketing Guide for Dentist And How To Get More Customers | Social Media and Healthcare |

Do you often think about how to attract clients in your clinic and, particularly at the end of the month?

To attract more patients to your dental office is not enough to be the best dentist and sit down to wait. The medical services market is extremely competitive and sometimes disloyal.

Therefore, if you are a specialist doctor, dentist, or psychologist, you will surely be interested in learning these ways to attract more patients, maintain them and retain them.

You will see that it is not always very easy but that some tips are simple to apply. In fact, some are designed for almost immediate, cheap implementation, using your time more than anything.


There are many ways you can use social media to attract customers, and take advantage of other platforms to make your marketing efforts valuable and effortless at some point.


Digital marketing is in continuous growth every year and there are always new things every month making a lot of thing change, so if you don't take advantage of social media today, there can be a day where there aren't any social media platform to use or it's very different from what we know today, so hop on in the trend and start growing your business with social media marketing.


The following tips are for dentists, but they are not exclusive and any business can take advantage of these tips and customized them accordingly.


Use the Positive Opinion of Your Current Patients.

Request References to Your Clientele.

Although it is small, it surely has a customer base with its complete data. You can make your team call and ask your current clients to give you a reference. In return, you can give them what they think is most appropriate, such as a free diagnosis or dental cleaning.

Make sure that the new referral is valid, you can establish that you will give the prize if the referral passes through the clinic. Thus, you allow a means of the pressure of the referral on your patient future. That way he ensures that he will be giving compensation in exchange for a new client.

Collect Testimonials and Make Success Stories.

Trust is the most important in health services. Above the price of the benefit. Therefore, people want to be served by professionals who know their background. They will feel more secure. And when a person feels secure and trusts a brand is more likely that they will become a customer or return.

A Case of Success.

Even if you are just starting out, you will have several cases of successful patient care at hand. It is of interest to document some of their most relevant clinical cases. In this way, you can publish them in an orderly manner in all the media available to them. This will strengthen the confidence and image in their specialty. Include Before and After Photos. You could also record some videos of your intervention. Of course, make sure to always have the patient's consent.

Reviews and Feedback

Ask your patients to describe how they felt when passing through their hands. Request it in different social networks, Google my Business is a good place to start having reviews in order to have all your yellow stars shine.

If you do not know how to do them, we recommend sending them an email with the links.

Make sure to always engage with them on social media, is a must. It doesn't matter if it’s a bad review, in fact, make sure to engage with all the bad reviews in a polite manner, so that they feel comfortable with your business and feel that they can return with confidence. Sometimes you could offer something for free to compensate the patient depending on the situation (that is for you, as a business owner to decide)


The website of Your Clinic Optimized to Convert.

There is no use of having a website if it is one more in the crowd on the web that nobody visits. Nor is a website that has many visits but does not produce any new client.

Today in days thanks to web metrics we can know what works and what does not. You can see one of my previous blogs here and see how Google Analytics can help you track your website visitors, and you could also use Facebook Pixel (more on that later).

A website has 2 main objectives:

1) Attract visit (a user visits one or several pages of the site). 2) Convert (for example pass a call or fill out a form).

Some key ingredients to convince your patient from the web of a dental clinic:

1) Easy to navigate (clear and effective design). 2) Complete and intuitive (forms and calls to action) 3) Photos and persuasive texts (unique and real). 4) Trackable by search engines (excellent SEO).

Make sure to index your website in every search engine possible. Although Google is the most popular out there and the one you should focus more on, is not the only search engine, there is also Bing by Microsoft, DuckDuckGo, and more. You might never know what your clients use if you only go for one thing.

User Experience

Remember that you want to attract clients to your dental clinic. The image and online facility should be the same as offline. The user experience (or UX) is critical to success and get many conversions. The clinic's website should provide users with quick access to the information they are looking for. If a visitor does not find what they are looking for, they may never visit you again.

That goes through well-designed buttons and links between pages: it will allow a beautiful, intuitive and converting website.

People this day are more online than offline, almost everyone walking and even driving on the streets, is with their phone on their hand, so make sure that your website is fully mobile optimize because 89% of the web searches in 2018 happened on mobiles, otherwise they will get frustrated and never return.


Conversion Forms

A conversion in the website of a dental clinic can be an appointment or information, either via email, telephone or the calendar.

To achieve this goal you will have to place forms with a few precise fields. The old websites used only as a virtual showcase have no interest in maintaining themselves if they do not convert. It only works if you can get more patients and make it clear how to get an appointment when sailing.

Nowadays, people don't have the same patient as before, so is better if you let your customers make an appointment online without the necessity to call and get put on hold.

A Blog: to build a professional brand and attract customers.

The blog of a website has 4 objectives:

1) Show your "know-how" in a subject too long to explain on a page of the website. 2) Loyalty to the patient. 3) Capture customers 4) Earn positions on Google.

The most important thing is to feed the blog and your readers by producing value content each week. It will show its users (and Google) that it deserves to be considered the best specialist in its sector.


Create the brand of your clinic with the following

1) Practical tips to improve mouth hygiene that aren’t difficult or disturbing to do. 2) Real issues of patients and answers: you can use your social media to answer the most common question your patients have to take away the fear for the potential customers. 3) Clinical success cases: This is from a previous point saying to show before and after photos, but you don’t have to stop there you can use their photos with their review to show their satisfaction.

Word of Mouth

Remember how many times you have read the comments of previous buyers before placing your order? Well, from my personal experience when it comes to health customers care more about reviews than in any other place

Positioning SEO with a Location of Your Dental Office


When a user consults Google by typing, for example, "best dentist in Miami" surely you want it to be the first clinic to appear ... if your office is there. And he knows that appearing with the query "dental clinic sacred family" would not be relevant.

Having a dental clinic chain, one or several clinics, optimizing local positioning at the local level is recommended since Google algorithm is always changing.

But the search engine is still an algorithm and not a human person. Which means you have to help Google in providing a lot of information, such as the nearby cities and towns that the clinic covers.

An interesting idea to work on is to create a landing page for each place where your buyer is located.

Search engine optimization in your dental marketing strategy serves to locate your practice in


You can always use a keyword search planner to know which keywords are the one you should be targeting, for example, you can look for dentist in Miami, see the volume of traffic and the difficulty to rank for that keyword. After you get all the keywords is now time to change your website content and keyword targeting to get rank for those specific keywords and being able to be at the top of the page.

Make sure to use Google my business (more about it on this post here), Bing and Yelp are also helpful to let local customers find you easily.

Online Promotion of Services and Products.


Email Marketing

With the database that you have built over time, you must have the email of your patients. If you do not have them yet, find an excuse to call them and ask for them. If patients give their authorization, you can send them an email at a moderate pace. It will be an excellent opportunity to remind you:

1) Periodic reviews. 2) New treatments. 3) Special offers.

A good way to grab customer emails (also called lead) is from your website with a little pop-up asking them to subscribe. Also, when they make an appointment ask for their phone number and email, so you can follow up and remind them about it.

Video marketing

You can create a short video talking about the specialties of the clinic, the professionalism of the team. Talking about the values ​​shared by the doctor's office and why it is different will be key.

Edit it and upload it to your video channels. The idea is then to be able to promote them to

the buyer people of the clinic and in this way attract more clients to their office.

When they know you they trust you, so make a video about you talking about your story and about your team.

To Attract New Patients: Give Something for Free.

The brands are on your side to support you. In many occasions, your distributor gives samples of your supplier so you can give it to your patients. The latter may even come to visit your office for the first time just for the gift.

You can start a campaign by giving something of value with pre-registration online. To expand the database and get customers with just the word "free".

Online marketing consultants know that the promotions and the concept of sample and gift attract attention generates a feeling of reverse debt.

So when promoting your clinic, be sure to give something valuable to the patient. It does not have to represent something costly but symbolic: a basic service, a useful product with its name, etc.


It's time for Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics to show up. Put those plugins on your website (or ask your developer) and with this plugins you can track every visitor of your website and can put an ad on Facebook, Google search, or other blogs that use ads special for your previous visitors, that way they get used to your brand and be more likely to convert in the future.


Partnerships with Complementary Professionals.

The optician or dermatologist surely shares the same clients as those of a dental clinic. The idea is to create alliances with these professionals with the intention, for example, of exchanging references or building a service portal together. If they are in the same branch (medicine) is even better.

Establishes Family Packages and for Employees of Nearby Companies.

Companies such as Spotify, Apple, and Netflix propose this marketing strategy also said of the good, bad and ugly.

You can use this strategy to guide the good to be a family package when someone lands on a landing page that contains the keyword "child". Since a child will not look for a medical solution on the Internet. The parents will assume that it is a "child" consultation and won't have to read anything else.

You can repeat this strategy for the companies that surround your office, proposing directly to the board of directors some of the benefits that they and their employees will receive.

Marketing in Social Networks.


Let social networks act as an amplifier of your messages and actions. Publish all your blog posts on social networks. Social networks are the place where your audience spends a lot of time. They have effectively managed to retain the attention of millions of users daily. That includes your future patients.

With a marketing expert, determine your buyer people and your favorite social networks. Create the target audience in the advertising management of the network. In this sense, Facebook and LinkedIn are very precise and provide great opportunities to contact their patients.

(Note* use the platforms where most of your potential customers are, don't try to go to broad or you will find yourself stuck and not knowing what content you should create)

This will show your messages only to the people you want. It does not help to show an advertisement or a message to someone who will never buy from you. For example, it is unlikely that children under 30 are sensitive to crowns and implantology. So you can decide that they do not see your special implant promotion.

How in each action to attract clients, we will determine KPI and objectives with the goal of improving each result.

If you want professionals to effectively manage your communications through social networks and more, fill out the form and get a free audit. We know that you don't have time to spend on social media or on the internet creating a campaign that will attract good patients to your office.

Questionnaire or Surveys

Create a questionnaire to ask how to improve the overall experience the patient had. From access to the office to dismissal. You can discover elements such as the address in Google maps is wrong, the music in the waiting room is very high or many things that will allow you to improve.

Have a Crisis Plan

In case something does not happen as expected, it is important that you have emergency plans to solve a problem right away.

A bad reputation is created more quickly than forging a good reputation. Both online and offline you should plan what to do in each case.

Also, make sure that your office information is up-to-date on every platform you are using because there is nothing more annoying than finding a restaurant/office on google maps that are supposed to be open and when you get there is close or it’s not even there.


Conclusions to Attract Clients to a Dental Clinic

Medical services like in a dental clinic are very competitive. As you have seen, it is about taking care of many details and building a powerful brand little by little.

Strategies in dental marketing always come from good content marketing that adds value to patients. The patient is multi-channel, and you must be present where he is.

Now you know some ways to get new clients in dental clinics that you can already employ. If you want to trust dental marketing professionals do not hesitate to fill out the form and get a free audit. You can always leave your questions and comments below.

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Patient satisfaction doubles when docs address bad reviews

Patient satisfaction doubles when docs address bad reviews | Social Media and Healthcare |
  • Patients like when their doctors respond directly to the bad reviews they post online, nearly doubling patient satisfaction rates and dropping the rate of dissatisfaction by as much as 59%, according to a survey from a practice management software company.
  • Patientpop surveyed 839 patients on their experiences with online reviews. Most (75%) have gone online to get information for choosing a doctor, and patients age 30-44 (86%) are the most active users in that category. The majority (65%) of that age group checks reviews and 40% said they post their own. 

Dive Insight:

Physicians aren't wild about online reviews, especially when they're made by anonymous accounts. Patient-posted ratings and reviews can have an effect on a practice's bottom line and public perception — enough to deter potential new patients, experts say.

And more Americans are deciding to post their opinions of doctor performance, according to online reputation management firm Binary Fountain. Its recent survey found that 51% of respondents said they share their personal medical experience through social media or online review sites — up 65% from a year earlier.

Online reviews can be a useful tool for doctors who to want to get a gauge on what their patients think of them and how they interpret their advice.

Penn Medicine study published in February found "told" was the most common word associated with negative hospital reviews online. The study's authors said the findings highlight the need for providers to use caring language when delivering care. "Great" and "friendly" topped the list of frequent words used in positive reviews. 

Those are the words providers like Intermountain and Geisinger are hoping their patients see. The health systems have continued their practice of posting experiences with hospital clinicians online — whether good or bad — in an effort to increase transparency, move away from relying on CMS' troubled star rating system and to help physicians know what patients think of them. At Geisinger, those who are unhappy with the care they received can request refunds for as much as $2,000.

Yevgeniy Feyman, coauthor of the Manhattan Institute report Yelp for Health, said at Health Datapalooza last year providers should be more responsive to patients posting about their experiences online. "We're moving to a health system where patient ratings are becoming more important, where top down ratings are really inaccessible to patients and probably not that useful," he said.

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

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

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


Where patients linger

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

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

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

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


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

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

Ways to start a dialogue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Five Ways to Simplify your Social Media Strategy

Five Ways to Simplify your Social Media Strategy | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

Know your platforms.

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

Be active with automation.

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

Content is key.

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

Avoid disasters before they happen.

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

Maximize your efforts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How Social Media Usage Affects Doctor To Patient Relationships

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Social media contributes to increased switching of doctors

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

Social media helps develop more harmonious doctor-patient relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Language on Social Media Reveals Concerns of Patients with Ovarian Cancer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caregiver takeover.

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


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

Patient thank-you’s.

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

Health tips.

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

New staff introductions.

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

Giving back.

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

How-to videos.

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


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

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Digital Marketing Best Practices for Physical Therapy

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

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

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


5 Types of Digital Marketing

1) Website

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

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

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

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


2) Social Media

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

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

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


3) Search Engine Optimization or SEO

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

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

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

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


4) Search Engine Marketing or SEM

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

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

And finally #5! Email marketing…


5) Email Marketing

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

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

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

Digital Marketing Best Practices & Planning

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

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

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

Website Design

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

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


Website Content

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

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


Technical Aspects

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

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


Is Digital Marketing Worthwhile?

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

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What to Keep in Mind for a Successful Instagram Marketing Strategy

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

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

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

Know Your Audience

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

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

Know Your Competitors

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

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

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

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

Plan Your Instagram Content

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

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

Consistency Is Key

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

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

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A new use for chatbots: matching patients and clinical trials

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

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

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

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

An answer to the question

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

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

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

Solving real-world problems

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

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

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

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

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SEO for Doctors - How to get my Medical Practice TOP of Google? (10 SEO Tips)

SEO for Doctors - How to get my Medical Practice TOP of Google? (10 SEO Tips) | Social Media and Healthcare |

Tip 1: Ensure your website is mobile-friendly

Is your website mobile-friendly? This refers to how your website looks on a smart phone or tablet. Is the text easy to read? Does it display well? Over 62% of Internet users now access the Internet via a mobile device (Source: Statista). In other words, if your website is not mobile-friendly, then you are missing out on up to 62% of prospective new patients! That’s a big percentage to miss out on.



How do I know if my website is mobile friendly?

You can check for free with Google’s free mobile-friendly checking tool.



Tip 2: Speed up your website.

In 1992 people were willing to wait 5 minutes for a photo to load. Well, that’s not the case anymore! People are demanding. They want a fast website. And if it’s not fast, they will leave your site. It’s as simple as that. Google has even admitted that it is penalizing sites which load slowly.

How do I know if my website is fast enough?

You can check for free with Google’s free site speed tool.


How can I increase the speed of my site?

There are several ways to do this. The Google tool listed above will identify the issues which are slowing down your site. It often recommends:

  • Increasing the hosting speed;
  • Removing unnecessary coding;
  • Speeding up the processing of larger files, such as videos or large numbers of images;
  • A number of other possibilities.

Tip 3: Content, Content, Content!

In the world of SEO, content is King! This is also true of medical SEO. Why do prospective patients use Google? They are looking for answers. And if your website does not provide the answers to their question, then Google is not going to place it at the top of their search results.



How can I improve the content on my website?

First of all, make sure the content you are providing is useful. If prospective patients do not find the information on your website useful, then they will leave your website. This leads to a higher bounce rate, which pushes you down in the SEO rankings. But how do you know what patients find interesting? There are some useful tools to check the type of questions patients (and the public in general) are asking. Check out Answer The Public. Alternatively, simply type your keyword on Google, then look at Google’s alternative suggestions.


Second, make sure that it’s immediately obvious what your page is about. It’s important to include the keywords in the title or subheadings, so that the patient can immediately see that your page is about the topic they are interested in.


Tip 4: SEO optimize your target pages

There are many small tweaks you can make to your target pages to improve their SEO. We have listed a few of them below:

Make patients want to click on your Page Title and Page Snippet

After a patient conducts a Google Search, they will then see 10 organic search results. These results will show a page title, URL, and snippet (description). Based on this information alone, the patient will decide if your site is what they are looking for. This is why it’s vital that your page title and description scream “click me!” to prospective patients.

Add images and videos

Having a page which is 100% text can scare away prospective patients. If patients leave your page within 30 seconds, this is considered ‘bouncing’. The higher your bounce rate, the less likely Google is to rank your page high on the next search query for the same keyword. Inserting a few images which relate to the keyword helps to reassure the patient that your page is relevant to their search. Furthermore, if the image or video can be interacted with (clicked on), then increased interaction is another indicator to Google that the patient is interested in your page. This will subsequently boost your SEO for future searches using the same keyword.


Use simple and easy-to-read language

As a doctor, you may be used to your handwriting being inaccessible to patients. However, when it comes to seo for medical websites, it’s vital that patients can easily read and understand your page content. This is known as ‘readability’. Readability is believed to be one of the factors included in Google’s search algorithm. In other words, try to avoid long sentences in the passive voice. Instead, use short, active sentences. It also helps to break down text into shorter paragraphs.


Tip 5: Create a Google My Business Profile for your Doctors and Medical Practice

This is one of the best ways get your medical practice (or doctors) top of Google. Google often places a map at the top of search results. In order to appear on this map, you need to have a Google My Business (GMB) profile. Not only is the profile free to create, but it also provides great statistics, such as:

  • The number of calls to your practice via your GMB profile;
  • The number of people who asked for directions to your practice;
  • The number of people who viewed your profile.

How can I create a Google My Business profile for a doctor or a medical practice?

To create a Google My Business Profile, simply click on the following link, then follow the instructions:

How much does it cost to create a Google My Business profile?

Nothing! Creating a Google My Business profile is absolutely free.

I have a Google My Business profile but why is it not appearing on the map?

Google only features 3 GMB profiles on the map at the top of search results. With thousands of other physicians and practices competing with you, you may wonder how you can increase your chances of being selected for one of the 3 positions at the top. There are a few tips for doing this.

  • First, make sure you have updated your profile with as much information as possible. For example, if you are an orthopedic surgeon, be sure to select that as your type of service. If you also office Physical Therapy, then add that label too, plus any other services you offer;
  • Update you Open Hours;
  • Fill in the practice description;
  • Add good quality images to your profile;
  • Learn how to increase your number of 5 star doctor reviews.

Tip 6: Create Social Media Profiles.

I have always been skeptical of the Return On Income of social media, however in terms of SEO for doctors they are very useful. The links from social media platforms (such as Facebook and Twitter) can give your practice’s website a big SEO boost. This is because they have high Domain Authorities. In other words, in the eyes of Google they are reliable backlinks. Creating social media profiles for your practice, and posting on them regularly, will give your SEO campaign a positive boost.


Tip 7: Create other high quality backlinks

Having high quality backlinks from reputable, third party sites will benefit your practice’s SEO campaign. More information coming soon!


Tip 8: Add fresh, new content to your website on a regular basis

Google’s crawler bots constantly check for updates to websites. This will identify if your page has added any fresh content. Sites which do regularly add new content are considered ‘fresher’, which is said to be one of the factors in Google’s algorithm. This is logical. Google wants to put the best and most current sites at the top of search results. For example, if one doctor’s website has not been updated since 1995, then the content is likely to be outdated (especially in an ever-changing industry such as medicine). This subsequently decreases the chances of it ranking high on search results. More info coming soon!

Tip 9: Increase traffic to your site

In the world of medical SEO, success breeds success. In other words, the more traffic you site has, the more this improves SEO. By increasing traffic to your site, it can (but not always) have a positive effect upon your practice’s SEO campaign.

How can I increase traffic to my website?

Besides SEO, there are several ways to do this:

  • Newsletters. Send newsletters to your patients and mailing list. The newsletters should include links to your website, which will increase traffic to your site;
  • Social media. Building up an audience on social media can also help increase traffic to your site.
  • Advertising. Facebook and Google Ads do (of course) cost money, but they can be a quick and effective way of driving new patients to your site. Read more about Google Ads for Doctors or Facebook Ads for Doctors.

Tip 10: Install Google Analytics

How do you know if your SEO campaign is performing well? Google Analytics can help. It can provide vital statistics, such as:

  • # of site visitors;
  • Source of site visitors (Ads vs. Organic vs. Social Media etc);
  • Which pages are most popular;
  • On which pages patients are leaving your site;
  • Many other stats.
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Developing a Clinical Trial PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Budget for Patient Recruitment Campaigns

Developing a Clinical Trial PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Budget for Patient Recruitment Campaigns | Social Media and Healthcare |

The first step in executing an effective Pay-Per-Click (PPC) strategy and campaign for clinical trials is establishing realistic goals. Here’s how CROs and sponsors can use paid search to boost enrollment, while staying within the allotted budget.

PPC describes a type of digital advertising, or patient outreach, that allows marketers to create ads that appear on top of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). For clinical trials, these ads target active and engaged audiences who are already searching for healthcare or medical treatment. What’s more, “pay-per-click” means that CROs and sponsors don’t actually pay until a potential patient clicks on their ad — making PPC an efficient way to boost clinical trial patient recruitment and enrollment.

While the value of paid search is clear, setting up a PPC campaign involves managing many moving parts. One particular area that can be challenging for CROs and sponsors is establishing a monthly budget.

Because budget is dependent on a variety of factors — evolving goals and available funds, for instance — the plan should be flexible and include a range of estimates. This is important when we consider that some clinical trial sites will perform better than others, and, in order to optimize the spend (and ultimately the return on investment (ROI)), PPC activities must be carefully managed, reported, and modified accordingly. To aid with budgeting efforts, here’s how CROs and sponsors can use historical data to develop a cost-effective paid search budget, and reach new potential patients for their clinical trials.

The Value of PPC for Clinical Trials

As a crucial part of any successful patient recruitment campaign using digital marketing, PPC can help speed up the enrollment process. It’s most effective when implemented before a trial begins or immediately at the start (once respective sites are initiated), but can also be rolled out on a shorter timeline to help boost enrollment numbers.

Unlike posting flyers or advertising in a local newspaper, paid search targets audiences who are already looking for medical information or treatment options, the truest form of active, engaged patients. Strategies can be built to narrow audiences further through segmentation strategies like negative keywords (filtering out terms that don’t convert), and dayparting (tweaking bids according to time of day or day of the week).

Studies show that 53% of patients find out about clinical trials online, making digital patient recruitment marketing a primary, cost-effective strategy, not an extra to be tacked on at the end as a “rescue” strategy. When executed properly, PPC can truly make or break a trial’s recruitment success. But first, CROs and sponsors need to establish their goals and set a paid search budget.

How Much Does PPC Cost?

Setting the right budget depends on identifying a clinical trial’s unique goals, such as trial/brand awareness, lead (“patient inquiry”) generation, or patient recruitment and enrollment. Once the goal is clear (i.e. “we need to recruit 20 new patients in the next month, paying no more than X dollars per patient”), CROs and sponsors will need to work with their patient recruitment vendor to determine how much traffic is required to meet that goal.

In order to do this, it’s important to establish an estimated conversion rate. Marketers should look at historical data on Google Analytics to evaluate past performance and get a sense of how traffic will convert in the future. Studies that have never utilized  a PPC campaign before should look at their website’s general conversion data and estimate from there.

If a trial’s average conversion rate is 2%, for example, CROs and sponsors can input that number into a simple formula to build their PPC budget:

traffic required to meet your goal = patients needed / conversion rate

traffic required to meet your goal = 20 patients / 2%

traffic required to meet your goal = 1,000

By inputting the goal of 20 patients and the conversion rate of 2% into the formula, CROs and sponsors can see that they will need to reach 1,000 users in order to convert the right number of patients. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this formula generally provides a low estimate, as targeting active and engaged patients is likely to improve the quality of site traffic. This in turn should raise the ad conversion rate, which means a lower budget may be required.

But traffic is only part of the PPC picture: the next piece is determining how much each of these impressions will cost. Predicting cost-per-click (CPC) generally begins by examining historical data from previous PPC accounts. If a study is in early phase, with no previous campaign data, Keyword Planner on Google Ads can be utilized to gain key information. While this tool provides a useful benchmark, it’s important to remember that actual CPC is influenced by a variety of factors including the specific type of study, geography, ad quality and other, study-specific critical variables.

Once CROs and sponsors have determined a CPC estimate, they can multiply that by the traffic required in order to build their total budget. So, if a trial determines that their average CPC is $5.00, then the formula would read: 

traffic required * estimated CPC = total budget

1,000 visitors * $5.00 CPC = $5,000

While this number provides marketers a good sense of what to spend on PPC advertising, it’s also important to include a range to account for error and other factors that might cause budget changes.

Next comes the bidding process, which is an important factor in determining ad placement on SERPs. Automated bidding has become more popular in the past couple of years, especially as the algorithms are becoming more advanced. However, manually setting a bid is often the best option for marketers who are just getting started with PPC campaigns.

It’s important for CROs and sponsors to keep in mind that the bid doesn’t necessarily determine the amount each advertiser will pay. The actual cost is determined by a variety of factors, including the competition and the quality of the ad. Google can overspend a PPC budget for an individual day, but it won’t go beyond the average daily budget times 30.4 over the course of the month.

Executing a PPC Campaign

Going through the above exercise can help to build the right budget to ensure that enrollment and budgetary needs are met. With a few simple steps, CROs and sponsors can determine how to effectively reach their recruitment goals and avoid overspending.

CROs and sponsors looking for guidance in establishing a PPC campaign, and the tools to effectively manage the entire process, may want to consider working with a patient recruitment firm that specializes in digital marketing. A patient recruitment firm with specialized, digital marketing experience in clinical trials and the medical industry is essential to help sponsors and CROs reach the right patients, and to meet their enrollment goals on-time, and on-budget.

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Helping Patients Navigate Clinical Trials: What Physicians Can Do

Helping Patients Navigate Clinical Trials: What Physicians Can Do | Social Media and Healthcare |

Clinical trials are fundamental to the development of innovative treatments that can cure disease or improve patient quality of life. Yet patient participation rates remain low — and even when patients do volunteer, they often leave the process before it is complete.

Participation is hindered by patients not being aware of trial opportunities, and the drop-out rate is high because patients enter trials that don’t meet their expectations. How can physicians ensure that their patients know which trials are available and, more importantly, that patients make a fully informed decision regarding participation?

Taking a Proactive Approach

Given the importance of clinical trials for advancements in health care, both physicians and patients could benefit from taking a proactive approach to finding clinical trials rather than waiting for clinical trials to find them. Laura Akers, PhD, associate scientist at the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene, Oregon, advises physicians to “learn how to use the search function within the website to find out what studies are out there and currently open to recruitment.” There is also no reason why fully educated patients can’t access this resource as well to investigate trial opportunities that might be of interest to them.

Educating Patients via Questions

When educating patients about clinical trials, a question-based approach can be useful. This ensures that not only are patients learning about trials, but they are also learning about their own needs and expectations of trial participation. This is critical to ensuring they make an informed decision about whether to become a participant.

Questions that physician can explore with patients include the following:

  • What are the medical risks and benefits of participation? Although the US Food and Drug Administration FDA has produced guidelines to help ensure the protection of participants, some risks may be inevitable. For example, if testing a new drug, there will be the risk for side effects. Equally, a benefit could be that the investigational drug has the potential to ease symptoms. Encourage patients to weigh the risks and benefits of taking part in a trial.
  • Is there a placebo? You may need to explain that a placebo, frequently called a sugar pill, will have no medicinal benefit. It is also important to ensure patients understand they are not guaranteed to receive the investigational drug and may receive a placebo. A placebo group is needed to create a comparison or baseline for the effectiveness of the treatment being tested and so is an important component of the trial — however, not all patients will be happy in a placebo group.
  • How will the trial affect a patient’s daily life? Patients should be informed of all commitments necessary to participate. For instance, travel, time, and expenses may be required but not reimbursed. In some instances, patients are required to keep detailed notes to assist with the monitoring process.
  • Is the risk worth the reward? Some trials require patients to stop their medical treatment or to leave their medical provider for the duration of a clinical trial. Patients must consider whether the requirements for participating in a trial are sufficiently justified for them to change their current treatment regimen.
  • What happens to the data? Clinical research is considered intellectual property, which means the company conducting the trial owns the data and is not required to share results or make information open to the public. Patients who are considering trial participation should be advised to enquire how their privacy will be ensured and whether they will receive any results after trial completion.

Being in a position to answer all of these questions equips patients to provide fully informed consent. However, also ensure that patients understand their right to withdraw from a study at any time and for any reason, even after signing a consent form.

Reaching the Uninformed and the Misinformed

Physicians are well placed to reach out to patients who may never have heard about clinical trials and those who may be misinformed as a result of previous negative experiences or media representations. There are several ways to achieve this reach, each with variable levels of effectiveness. Although the most common and arguably the most effective avenue to reach the greatest number of patients is through social media, there are certain factors that may limit the effectiveness of a physician taking this route.

Henning Sievert, PhD, head of sales operations at the patient recruitment firm Clariness GmbH said, “Generally, using social media can be a cost-effective way of spreading the word and sparking discussions on any topic, including increasing trial awareness, but it is important to keep in mind that building and maintaining a community on any medium is not a simple endeavor [and] that [it] takes a lot of time and effort.” Not only does social media reach take a long period of time, but it also requires creating and sharing interesting content related to a physician’s specialty regularly. Physicians must also engage actively and meaningfully with the audience. Coupled with the daily activities of the physician, this may be too much to handle. Even deciding to simplify the process by just advertising on social media may be ineffective without previous experience.

Even better than direct social media engagement, Dr Sievert advises physicians to use a vendor “who already has access to the relevant local community and generates further reach using paid advertising as needed.” He added, “Vendors usually have tools and processes in place to further reduce burden by prescreening interested patients and converting patients into potential subjects, capturing and providing referral data in a way that ensures that investigators can follow up with patients in a timely manner and have a high chance of receiving eligible patients.”

Empowering Patients With Knowledge

While physicians are not responsible for ensuring the success of clinical trials, they do hold responsibility for the welfare of their patients — and part of patient welfare is empowering patients with awareness of clinical trials: what they are, why they are important, how they are carried out, and who is eligible for them. Although patients can ask for such information, the proactive physician will broach the topic first, especially if they are aware of a trial that might benefit their patient.

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4 Ways to Market Your PT Clinic's Culture

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

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

What is culture?

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

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

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

How can you market culture?

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

1. Meet your patients where they are.

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

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

2. Network with other health and wellness professionals.

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

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

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

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

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

4. Highlight it in your marketing materials.

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

Lights, camera, action!

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

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

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

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

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

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How to Boost Your Healthcare SEO Efforts With Content Marketing | 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step #1: Identify Your Target Audience 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step #2: Find the Right Question

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

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

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

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

View the content from the reader’s perspective. 

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

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

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

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

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

Step #3: Turn to Social Media and Stay There  

Social media content marketing can improve your SEO efforts

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

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

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

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

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

Step #4: Add Some Fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step #5: Check Yourself and Your Copywriter 

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

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

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

Step #6: Make It Readable 

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

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

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

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

 Which one of the above would you continue reading?

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

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

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

Don’t avoid readability issues. Start with them.

Outrun Your Competition With Content Marketing 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trial Registration: International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) CRD42018085057; (Archived by WebCite at

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Social Media Content Ideas that Your Patients will Love

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

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

First, Consider about Your Audience 

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

Office Tour Video 

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

Try a Local List! 

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

Dentist Q&A 

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

Toothbrushing Videos 

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

Get Socially Savvy 

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

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Does Social Media Belong in Therapy?

Does Social Media Belong in Therapy? | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Source: Pixabay

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

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

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

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

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

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Healthcare Marketing Data: Budget and Channel Trends

Healthcare Marketing Data: Budget and Channel Trends | Social Media and Healthcare |

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

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

Here are key highlights from the research:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


2. Search Engine Marketing – Google’s Advertising Platform

Successful SEO implementation can take 6-12 months.

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

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

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

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


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

Now we’ll be 100% honest with you.

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

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

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

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

Dentists are growing their practices completely from Google Advertising. 

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


3. Claim local business listings for your local dental business

How patients find their local dentists has massively changed.

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

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

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

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

4. Get more Patient Reviews

Reviews are another great way to attract and convert patients.

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

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

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

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

Bonus Dental Marketing Idea: Best Smile Contest.

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

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

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

5. Manage your organic social media

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

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

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

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

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

It is where your patients spend most of their time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus Dental Marketing Idea: Photo Booth

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

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

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

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

PC: My Social Practice

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Increase appointment bookings with email marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3 Content Marketing Strategies for Healthcare Providers

3 Content Marketing Strategies for Healthcare Providers | Social Media and Healthcare |

2019 Content Marketing Strategies to Increase Website Traffic

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

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

They go online to look for answers.

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

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

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

1. Write high-quality blog posts

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Create infographics

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

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

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

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

Creating an infographic takes time and effort.

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

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

3. Promote your content via email marketing.

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

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

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

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

Wrap up

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

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Healthcare Marketing: How to Drive Results in 2019

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

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

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

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


Prioritize the Customer Experience

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

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

1. Data & Technology

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

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


2. Marketing Automation

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

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

3. Cross-Team Collaboration

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

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

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

Unite Your Marketing Technology

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

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

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

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

Integrate Physicians into Your Strategy

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Embracing Technology in Digital Marketing: Pharma and Healthcare

New year, same story?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing in the Dark: Dark Social

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

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


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