Building any brand can be difficult, but in the US, hospital identity and branding are paramount to success within a community. By listening to patients, getting feedback on wants and needs, engaging individuals and creating new incentives, a better reputation, greater trust and improved health outcomes can all be achieved. Below [...]
Like most web-savvy Canadians, she has a website and a Facebook page promoting her cause. But Christine Kristen’s social media footprint is all about saving her life.
The 43-year-old mother of two has kidney disease and the wait list for a deceased donor is up to eight years. She’s taking her fate into her own hands to appeal to the rest of the world online.
Kristen is part of a growing trend of patients waiting for organs who are turning to social media in a novel way of finding a donor.
“These are the dark days of my life. I don’t think words can quite describe how wonderful and life-changing it would be if someone came forward and [donated a kidney] to somebody else,” Kristen told Global News.
“Nowadays it’s complete strangers who put their hands up to help other people. It completely blows my mind that some people are so unselfish and willing to do that,” she said.
Peggy Lane, a spokeswoman for B.C. Transplant, has seen it happen a handful of times.
“It’s not really overtly prevalent but it is starting to prove to be another way in which people can reach out,” Lane said.
“While it may not be someone in your immediate circle [who donates], it spreads like a ripple effect. It may be someone in your friend’s circle who may be impacted by your story and decides to come forward.”
B.C. Transplant is the provincial agency that oversees and funds transplant donation in three different transplant centres.
In the organization’s brochure doled out to those waiting for a transplant, officials even advise them to consider using the web to reach a larger audience.
“The reality is donating a kidney is not insignificant…it’s hard face-to-face to say, but you can tell your story that can reach a lot of people more so than the traditional methods,” Lane said.
Right now, the national living donor average is about 17 donors per one million people. British Columbia has the highest rates at 28 living donors per million.
READ MORE: Organ donation shortfalls in Ontario hospitals without transplant programs
Kristen, who is adopted, first learned she had the kidney disease in 1992 when her birth mother contacted her. But the illness only presented itself in 2011.
The mom often took to hiking, biking and martial arts, but she grew lethargic and she had trouble breathing.
Her dress size also kept creeping up. Multiple cysts were growing on her kidneys — her organs are now the size of footballs because of the cysts. Soon, she may go into renal failure.
“If you’ve ever been pregnant, it’s sort of like being pregnant a lot,” according to Dr. Jean Shapiro, a UBC professor and Kristen’s kidney specialist.
“Some people get into trouble more quickly with kidney failure than others, regardless of the size of cysts or whether the kidneys are very big. It’s variable,” Shapiro explained. Other organs, such as the liver and stomach, are affected as Kristen’s cysts grow.
Shapiro said that Kristen can’t go on dialysis until she hits about eight per cent kidney function. At that point, she could be on an eight-year wait list for a deceased donor.
About five per cent of all people requiring dialysis or kidney transplantation have polycystic kidney disease, according to Canada’s Kidney Foundation.
"You're talking a lot. But you're not saying anything." –David Byrne My parents were both doctors. They also were from Ireland, which means of course that they had a way with words. My dad could explain his day and what happened at the hospital with vivid imagery and a great sense of humor. But when he finally had to explain an actual medical condition, he switched from clear, entertaining, idiomatic English to what sounded like Greek-Latin gumbo. He'd have me, and then he'd lose me. What exactly is an MI? It's a myocardial infarction. What's a myocardial infarction? A cardiac arrest. What's…
Are you on Twitter? Twitter has been around for nearly a decade, but the medical community has begun adopting its use only fairly recently, so if you’ve been on the social networking site longer than a year or two, you’re certainly ahead of the curve. However, while it’s easy to think 140 characters isn’t enough to share, learn, or discuss, learning how to use Twitter’s features effectively can help you connect and engage with medical professionals from across the globe. Here are our tips for residents and physicians to make the most out of Twitter:
START WITH THE BASICS
If you’re starting an account with no prior knowledge of the social network and its conventions, Twitter has a great short article to help you get started and learn what you can do on the service. Once you know about conventions like @-mentions and hashtags, you can proceed to personalize your profile and start using Twitter effectively.
Start your personal setup by personalizing your profile. Pick a username that’s short and easy to remember. Fill in a short description of yourself and what you do in your bio. Link to your website, your practice/hospital’s website or another website where people can learn more about you or what you do. Finally, add a profile picture and header image to your profile. Personalizing your profile makes it more appealing to people who visit your account and help you communicate who you are and what you care about.
Next, search for people and organizations you care to hear from and follow them. This could include colleagues, news organizations, thought leaders and more who will help you stay informed about the latest information and conversations surrounding the topics you care about. Following people is also a great way to connect with other professionals and build your network.
ENGAGE TWITTER COMMUNITIES
Twitter has no official “groups” you could form and join, but you can still become a part of communities on Twitter through the hashtags they use. Typically, these “hashtag communities” will take the form of a Twitter chat. For example, #HCLDR—an acronym for “Healthcare Leaders”—is a Twitter chat that takes place every Tuesday at 8:30 PM Eastern Time. The way it works is that people come together at that time every week to discuss topics decided by the #HCLDR moderators by posting tweets that include the hashtag. Including the hashtags makes the tweet discoverable by other participants.
While you can’t follow a hashtag in the same way that you can follow a person or organization, you can use tools such as tchat to focus only on tweets that include a particular hashtag. You could also use Twitter’s search function to find tweets with certain hashtags, though it isn’t a particularly good way to participate in Twitter chats (especially fast-moving chats like #HCLDR).
An easy way to discover Twitter communities is to look at the hashtags people you follow use in their tweets. Exploring the hashtag can help you discover Twitter chats and communities like #MedEd (Medical Education) or#FOAMed (Free Open Access Medical Education). If you’re looking for a good list of healthcare-related Twitter chats and hashtags, check out Symplur’sHealthcare Hashtag Project. Regardless of what your interests are, personal or professional, you are bound to find a community of active Twitter users engaging in conversations relevant to you.
For many medical professionals, Twitter has provided a great avenue to quickly post thoughts, keep up with the latest news and connect with other professionals who share their interests. With a little effort setting up your profile and learning how to use the service effectively, you too can experience the difference Twitter is making to the medical profession. Do you want to learn more ways to succeed in social media as a resident or physician? Check out our blog and resource center. You can also follow us onFacebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
There’s a good chance that you’re only using social media because you feel like you should.
You know everyone else is using it and you’ve been told that it works. So you’re just going through the motions. You’re sending out a few updates per day and expecting that to be enough to accelerate your practice.
But… nothing’s happening.
Here’s why, and what you should do about it.
Why You Need to Manage Your Social Media Expectations
Television, billboards, and radio ads don’t directly drive increased sales (correlation doesn’t equal causation). It’s tough to measure. And you’re primarily goal is usually to improve brand awareness, not maximize your Return on Investment (ROI).
Social media is no different. Research giant Forrester recently analyzed 77,000 consumer orders to figure out which online marketing channels were responsible for the most buyers (not just traffic).
Their findings? Social tactics were not meaningful sales drivers, accounting for less than 1% of sales.
So if you’re not supposed to use social media to drive sales. How are you supposed to use it? Two ways:
1. Raises Awareness to Get Patients: Capturing your audience’s attention is huge. If you’re able to get noticed, you’re doing something right. When people care about what you have to say, they’ll listen. They’ll also be more likely to trust you with their health. And they might even start referring you to friends and family.
2. Build Trust to Retain Patients: Continued communication with your audience (when you aren’t face to face with them) over the course of months or years will foster trust (a lot of it). By consistently providing helpful and useful information to your audience, they will develop a need awareness – and come to you to fulfill it.
Growing fans, followers, patients, and potential patients through social media takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight (so don’t expect it to).
But if you are doing things right, social media will work for you.
You’ll raise awareness, build a solid reputation, get more people to like you, and increase the lifetime value of your patients.
You will constantly be in their ear and the chances of them referring you, or coming to you with questions or concerns rises dramatically. The connection between these things and social media is difficult to track directly, but it does exist.
Why Social Media Marketing for Doctors is Different
Having good social engagement will build trust with your audience over time. This translates into accruing new patients and increasing the lifetime retention rate of old and new patients.
However “engagement” doesn’t just mean sending out 20 tweets/updates/posts per day. It’s about committing to quality, consistent, and unique communication with your desired audience.
The problem is that there are more advertisements and people out there doing the same things as you than ever before – more people competing for the attention of the same audience. Capturing your audience’s attention (instead of fading into the background) has never been more challenging.
The key to social media success is to define your goals and objectives ahead of time, with the big picture in mind. That way the small tactical decisions (like WHAT and WHEN to tweet) take care of themselves.
Here are 3 ways to use social media to build your practice.
Strategy #1. Increase Local Awareness: In a world where patients can “shop around”, increasing awareness in your local market becomes vital. The best, most profitable patients (i.e. the ones who are loyal to you for generations) aren’t stuck with networks or practices they don’t like. They have the ability, and the willingness, to proactively research their options and look for the best “fit” (no matter how it’s defined).
Strategy #2. Increase Credibility & Trust: The “missing link” between strangers and loyal patients is typically trust. And the catch-22 is that you can’t build it a day or a week. But you can undermine your credibility by having a poorly designed user experience online or little-to-no online reviews.
Strategy #3. Increase the Lifetime Value of Each Patient: One of the basics of marketing says that it’s easier and more profitable to hang on to your existing customers (or patients) than to try and acquire new ones. If that’s the case… then why don’t more companies (and practices) do everything they can to make customers (or patients) happier? That means providing better communication before, during and after. That means providing a better waiting room experience. And that means going the “extra mile” when long-term patients need your support.
If you want people to notice and trust you, then you need to figure out how to make yourself valuable to them. Many times that starts with the information you put out, and the small online interactions you have through social media.
Hopefully the takeaway is that your current strategies are working (even if you aren’t feeling the immediate effects). Don’t give up – your efforts will pay off in time.
But if your approach (or lack thereof) is truly suffering, try thinking strategically about how your day-to-day efforts are (a) increasing awareness, (b) building trust, or (c) solidifying relationships.
It might take a little longer to get up-and-running. It might take a little more effort and patience to see the returns. But over the long haul, it’s the best, easiest method you have to build your practice (and avoid falling through the cracks).
Running a private practice is a business, just like any other, and marketing is a key part of creating a connection not only with potential patients, but also with networking partners and collaborates.
Medical Marketing and Media Sifting social media for the "why" behind Rx switching Medical Marketing and Media These industry metrics provide an accurate snapshot, but don't reveal the “why” behind the behavior.
When we looked at the social media landscape of healthcare CIOs, it could only be described as a ghost town. We found a grand total of six healthcare representatives among the 50 Most Social CIOs on Twitter.
Welcome to the new business of healthcare! Those who will be most successful in leading in this environment will be prepared to leverage the available tools, including social technologies and branded social media channels.
There’s a widespread irony surrounding the phenomenon known as “social media.”
It’s hard to imagine someone who doesn’t know, in general terms, what it is, but it’s safe to say that many, perhaps most, people still don’t know all that social media consists of, or how best to use it for their business.
Perhaps nowhere is this more true than in the healthcare sector. Blogs abound, movers and shakers chat on Twitter, and providers are increasingly opening lines of communication with their patients via Facebook or their own, dedicated patient portals.
And yet most observers would agree that healthcare still has a ways to go before it can be considered social media-savvy.
As Christina Thielst, a social media consultant and the editor of a new HIMSS book, Applying Social Media Technologies in Healthcare Environments, recently described it, healthcare administrators have known about social media for quite some time. The problem, she said, is that in the early days they learned about it primarily through general media reports, and many of those focused on events such as security breaches or other inadvertent releases of personal health information. Consequently, they got scared off.
The good news, however, is that things are turning around.
“There’s certainly been a lot of progress,” she said, “but more needs to be done if healthcare stakeholders are going to truly leverage social media tools.”
In her view, there are three main reasons for the growth in social media in healthcare. First, older people, who are the largest and most regular group of users of healthcare systems, are getting used to social media tools. They learned to use them as a way to keep up with family, and now they’re connecting with their friends.
“Society, in general, has recognized that social media is more than just a young person’s toy,” Thielst said.
Next, hospital administrators have realized that there are marketing advantages to social media, as marketing through newspapers has gotten significantly more expensive at the same time as audiences have shrunk.
Finally, the media stories, once predominantly negative, are finally getting better. Moreover, groups like the American College of Healthcare Executives and HIMSS are working hard to instruct healthcare executives both in the value of social media and how best to use it.
Those educational goals lie at the root of the new HIMSS book. A compilation of numerous perspectives, the book includes chapters written by a range of healthcare stakeholders, including caregivers, administrators, marketers, patients, lawyers, clinicians and healthcare information specialists.
One of the contributors, who writes from the patient perspective, is Clarissa Schilstra. Now a student at Duke University, Schilstra spent many of her childhood and teen years battling two bouts leukemia, and according to her “the experience would have been completely different” had she and her family not been able to use social media tools.
One key tool, she said, was the care page her parents were able to set up and use to keep friends and family apprised of their daughter’s progress.
Now a pre-med student, Schilstra uses her own web site (www.teen-cancer.com) to provide accounts of her experience and resources for other teens who may be struggling with similar conditions.
Another chapter in the book looks at social media in healthcare from the other end of the patient-provider relationship. Written by Craig Kartchner, senior director of marketing for Intermountain Healthcare, the chapter recounts a number of social media programs the Utah-based provider has launched in recent years.
As Intermountain sees it, Kartchner said, “the more meaningful, actionable information members of our community have, the better equipped they are to make intelligent decisions about their care. Social media are effective for getting this kind of information to patients and interacting with them on a personal level – in fact, social media were made for exactly that.”
Among the social media uses Kartchner described were “a blog network rich with content,” the use of Facebook and YouTube channels to answer questions from the public, and “regular live chats with experts from throughout our organization.”
According to Christina Thielst, some of the other case studies in the book include a discussion of clinics in Oregon and northern California that are combining social platforms with new Patient Centered Medical Homes to facilitate access to care for patients in hard-to-reach places, and a program launched by Boston-based Partners Healthcare that has used Facebook to facilitate care for teenage patients.
Thielst pointed out that it’s important for healthcare stakeholders to distinguish between social media brands and the underlying technology. Twitter, for example, is a micro-blog, while Facebook is a social network.
The distinction is important, she said, because while the brands may come and go, the underlying technology is here to stay and can be used in a number of different ways.
“The key,” she said, “is for healthcare organizations to figure out the right tool for the right purpose for the right audience.”
As we’ve noted before, Social Media marketing is changing the game for physicians in cosmetic practice. Whether you’re a plastic surgeon, cosmetic dermatologist or Medspa owner, these stats from theInternational Association of Physicians in Aesthetic Medicine say it all:
“42 percent of patients received most of their information about cosmetic procedures from social media [in 2012].”
But it’s not all wine and roses when it comes to social media marketing and physicians. It’s true that, done well, social media can be incredibly effective for sharing information, building engagement, identifying new patients, and keeping current patients engaged. Done poorly, however, social media can hurt your reputation, alienate patients and hinder practice growth.
Here are five tips to help prevent your social media practices from turning your aesthetic or wellness practice into a digital version of What not to Wear.
Five biggest turnoffs in social media:
Irrelevant content: The first rule of social media marketing is to provide interesting and relevant content. So think before you post. Is this something that will inform and interest my patients, specifically? Increase their engagement with the practice? Get them thinking about that next service or new product? If none of the above applies, perhaps it’s not the right forum for that post. Fortunately, those who work in aesthetic, cosmetic and health and wellness practices typically have lots of great content to share.
A hard sell: Have an offer or promotion? That’s great. Patients who are interested in your services will be thrilled. But make sure you don’t sell too hard. Offer relevant content about a common patient problem or concern. Skip the sales pitch until the end. Let the products or services stand for themselves as solutions to issues you raise – and that your patients care about already.
Poor spelling and grammar: Want somebody to tune out your message? Then don’t bother to check your spelling and / or grammar. Those who follow you or read your posts will make assumptions about your overall professionalism and question the value of your brand. Of course, mistakes inevitably happen; just make sure they happen infrequently. When you do see an error, fix it. Immediately.
Repetition, repetition, repetition: Don’t keep repeating the same message over and over again. According to one survey, more than half of people on Facebook and Twitter report that repetition turns them off. Most aesthetic, cosmetic and health and wellness practices offer multiple services, much of them quite cutting edge and interesting to large numbers of people. Draw on that variety to showcase the broader message: Have x problem?Here’s how you can look and / or feel your absolute best.
Controversy and / or poor taste: We like to think that this is an obvious one, but sadly it’s not. Do not post anything that could potentially alienate the very people you want to attract. Our advice? Avoid any post involving politics, local or otherwise. The views you have and believe to be self-evident may not be shared by your patients, current or future. Never use inappropriate language. Watch out for questionable humor. Finally, if you’re not sure, don’t share.
We hope this helps you as you begin working on your social media strategy. For more ideas on how to manage your digital image, see this blog about digital marketing platforms. For another perspective on what not to wear on social media, see this slide presentation from Forbes.
Lately I've been thinking about the fact that I'm not blogging as much. In the old days (2005 to 2011ish), my blog was my primary social media outlet, and my other social media channels were supplementary and supportive.
I have been asked to write up some of the core takeaways from the health care social media presentations I give, so I authored a chapter of a book published by HIMSS: Applying Social Media (#HealthCare #SocialMedia – How to Engage Online Without...