439.2K views | +92 today

Use Facebook to Better Connect with Your Patients


Social media is a topic at the top of mind of most dental professionals who want to stay relevant in today’s market. However, the endless articles, videos, pro tips, and research are enough to leave any busy dentist’s head spinning. 

Many dentists, overwhelmed by the thought of developing a social media plan, become immobilized and default to a few Facebook posts here and there. Or, they outsource their accounts to a company that really doesn’t know the dentistry market.

Here’s a secret: social media doesn’t need to be hard. It does not need to be seen as a complicated way to get people into the sales funnel. If you want to be successful on social media, view it as another way for you to simply make connections with your current and future patients. That’s it. No hard-selling tactics, no tricky strategy to sell full-mouth reconstructions, but a fun and easy way to talk to and connect with people.

Businesses share information with their customers and potential customers through the digital marketing triangle, which includes website searches, social media, and online reviews (see the Figure). Each point takes time, and it is important to allocate your time and resources wisely. 

Typically, social media requires the most time on the part of the dental office. However, dental offices don’t need to necessarily be active on all social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Focusing on one, like Facebook, often will benefit the office greatly.

But isn’t Facebook dying, you may ask? While it may seem Facebook’s popularity is waning with the younger generation, older adults are steadily increasing their use, and Facebook continues to trump all other social sites in overall usage. 

Need more evidence? A billion people worldwide use Facebook every day! Facebook is also the most trusted source when it comes to reviews. In fact, 80% of consumers say they’re more likely to purchase from a local business if they see positive user reviews on the company’s Facebook page. Why? People trust people they know. The Facebook network is built upon friends and acquaintances, exactly those whom people go to for trusted advice.

Facebook understands this concept. To make it easier for people to make recommendations to their friends, users can now turn on a feature when posting a status update that is designed to allow friends to provide specific recommendations. When turned on, the requester will get the full name, address, map, and contact information of the businesses their friends suggest! 

Patients don’t choose a new dentist based on clinical skill. They make the choice based on the experience of others (especially people they know and trust) and their insurance. The Facebook recommendations feature is perfect for finding a new dentist and getting new patients in your chair!

How to Set Your Office Up for Success

To capitalize on all Facebook has to offer, make sure to complete these four steps: create a great page; put someone in charge; share valuable content; and measure success.

So what makes a great Facebook page? It should be inviting. People should want to follow you on social media. Post fun pictures of your team, and make sure your information is complete and up to date.

As a business page, it does not have “friends” but has followers, fans, and likes to show engagement. It also allows publishing of important items like your business hours, phone number, a map to your location, photos and videos, patient reviews, and special offers and services.

You can also set up a “Book Now” feature that allows people to book appointments right from the page. People are already on social media. Now they can book dentist appointments at the same time.

Once you have a working business page, it is wise to put someone in charge of managing, updating, and posting. This person should be the one in the office who lives and breathes social media, someone who checks Facebook before they even get out of bed in the morning. Chances are good there is someone exactly right for the job already on the team.  

So with the overwhelming amount of information that circulates the internet, how does a dental office rise above the noise? The best strategy to ensure content is seen is to utilize existing patients. When patients engage with content, it is more likely to be seen by their friends and followers. follows these guidelines when developing shareworthy content: 

  • Content provides value: The content should be worth the patient’s time. Before posting, always ask: “Will this post improve patients’ lives?”
  • Content is personal: Social media provides a sense of community. Focus on the needs and interests of the patient, not the dental office.
  • Content should invite interaction: Fan participation is key. Give followers a good reason to like, share, or comment. Try adding in a contest or tying something charitable to the content.
  • Content is visually appealing: Use solid graphics, videos, and photos in everything that gets posted. Posts that are more attractive are favored by social media algorithms and are therefore seen by more people.
  • Content should be fun: Get creative! If the team is having fun, the patients will too.

Here are several options for shareworthy content you can and should employ in the office:

  • Before and after photos: Be sure not to violate HIPPA, and get consent from the patient prior to posting. Also, only show before and after shots that are patient-friendly. Graphic images of procedures are a huge no-no. Show patients that dentistry involves more than staring into mouths all day.
  • Patient reviews: Patient reviews are one of the best ways to share office success. Services like RevenueWell and DemandForce will survey patients, and their answers can be posted to Facebook in a single click. Third-party endorsements are huge in our field, so make sure you take advantage of them. A lot of patients would be honored to be a part of your dental family. 
  • Contests and promotions: A great way to get patients to help others see content is through contests and promotions. Offer a valuable service and ask people to share with their friends and family. When the office posts, it is seen by 12% of the office’s followers. When a post is shared, it is seen by 26%.
  • Patient photos and videos: People love to see themselves online. Once a release form has been signed, start featuring cavity-free kids or patients who have had a particularly great experience in the office. It is perfectly okay to show off your hard work and theirs too!
  • Team events and activities: Patients want to know about you and your team. They trust people they feel comfortable around. By sharing images of the team having fun, participating in charity events, and doing things outside of the office, the page can help build trust.
  • Dental articles: There is always shareworthy content written and published online. To get an alert each time something noteworthy is published, set up Google alerts. If you have a Gmail account, you can set up to a thousand dental terms. When an article is published online about the topic, the link will come directly to your inbox. So, if you want to educate your patients about oral cancer, you can have everything written and published in real time sent to you. You can read through the options and post the most shareworthy content for your followers.

After all the hard work spent on building an engaging page and promoting shareworthy content, it is important to know if your efforts are successful. Facebook has a built-in system to show how engaged followers have been. The tools on your Facebook business page will give you a breakdown of reach, likes, and all other forms of engagement. It’s important to see how your hard work is paying off, and the time spent engaging on social media is worth it.

Spotlighting Your Values

Being a dental hygienist for 23 years and temping in more than 100 offices gave me the opportunity to see some great offices as well as offices that were not run well. This enabled me to understand what the best practices were doing and how they were successful. I took what I learned through these offices and applied it to my experience in building DentalPost. 

The teams that were the most successful were the ones who placed their core values at the forefront. Utilizing social media is a great way to share your practice’s culture and core values with the public. Spotlight your team’s personalities. Involve everyone on the team, including patients.

Facebook is a great way to begin a social media journey. The interface is easy to use, and most patients and potential patients are already checking in on Facebook daily. Use the platform to befriend, educate, and connect with people instead of a way to simply sell services, and watch the office reputation and schedule expand.

Ms. Lanthier is the founder and CEO of DentalPost, which she started in 2005. Since then, the company has grown into a networking community for more than 750,000 dental professionals and 38,000 dental offices. She is a member of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association and the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a supporter of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s Give Back a Smile program, and a volunteer at several charitable organizations including Georgia Mission of Mercy and the Ben Mansell Clinic. And, she is a board member of the Oral Cancer Cause and Dental Entrepreneur Women. She can be reached at

No comment yet.

Social Media and Patient Engagement in Healthcare


The ability to engage patients is an essential aspect of healthcare. Without it, patient healthcare costs can rise as a result of increased hospitalizations or not adhering to a care plan. With outcome-based reimbursement becoming the norm, this may lead to a reduction in revenue. Harnessing the power and effectiveness of social media is one [...]

The ability to engage patients is an essential aspect of healthcare. Without it, patient healthcare costs can rise as a result of increased hospitalizations or not adhering to a care plan. With outcome-based reimbursement becoming the norm, this may lead to a reduction in revenue. Harnessing the power and effectiveness of social media is one way to increase patient engagement in their own health care and reduce these issues.

Why Social Media?

During a speech at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference, Dr. Kevin Campbell, a cardiologist made a compelling case for the use of social media in patient care using three tools. Facebook Live, Twitter, and blogging all have a visual or video component to them. These increase engagement by 6000% according to Campbell’s estimation.

Live chats can connect patients and physicians in a way that hasn’t been possible before. Likewise, blogs create an interactive patient experience. Patients can learn about disease and conditions and get information from experts that they might not otherwise have access to.

Engagement and Technology

Technology provides access to information and it also influences opinions and decisions. Dr. Geeta Nayyar, the chief healthcare at innovation officer at Femwell Group Health pointed to social media’s influence on people:

‘Every Facebook update, every online community post and every Tweet has the potential to change minds and behaviors.’

Nayyar points to millennials and baby boomers and how they use technology to help them with their healthcare needs. Baby boomers are using it to search for information and to make health care decisions. This is a trend that will only increase over time. While millennials might not need a lot of health care services now, they will. As the first natively digital generation, they tend to be very discerning and value personal relationships with their physicians. If they do not feel that they are not being heard, they’ll switch.

Social Media and Outcomes

Pregame before Massillon at Avon scrimmage.

Social media is not just about improving patient loyalty to providers and giving them access to better information. They can also produce better outcomes. Better informed and more engaged patients can lead to empowerment and increase the likelihood of a patient to become more involved in their care plan and follow it.

Social media also leads to better outcomes for physicians. Doctors can also use it to connect with other colleagues and access continuing education and knowledge opportunities more readily too.

Tips for Engagement

To make patient engagement optimal, health care providers should be aware of and follow accepted standards of online engagement such as:

Sharing relevant health content- Patients often turn to the internet for health information. But as providers know, some of this information can be unreliable. By sharing health information that is reliable, providers increase patient engagement and encourage communication.

Initiate conversations- Often times, patients are the ones who initiate conversations with their providers. Sometimes these conversations also fall through the cracks and aren’t responded to. Social media allows providers to take control of communication with patients. By posting thoughtful comments and open-ended questions relevant to the particular practice, patients will feel like their participation is worthwhile and that they are being heard.

Respond to Feedback- Providers who respond to feedback from their patients often enjoy increased loyalty from their patients. By responding to mentions of a practice on social media, patients will feel like they have been heard. Discussing what will be done in response to this feedback also shows that what has been said actually matters.

Don’t Forget to Blog- Blogs establish authority and expertise. By taking the time to write regular blog posts, patients will get to know the practice better. Sharing real-life patient experiences also make patients feel more confident when seeking care.

Social media engagement is becoming increasingly important in healthcare. That is why employing a solid social media strategy will be nothing but helpful to healthcare providers going forward. In the end, social media is an important communication tool for patients and physicians. Using a cohesive and consistent strategy to encourage this function will increase patient engagement and active participation in the healthcare process. It will also establish expertise and knowledge and lessen the unreliability of internet health information that is currently so prevalent.

No comment yet.

How to help your doctors realize the power of social media 


Whenever I have an appointment with a new doctor, I like telling him or her what I do for a living.

Here’s how a typical conversation starts:

“I’m a health care social media writer,” I say. “I help hospitals figure out the best ways to reach their audience through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, you know—whatever all the kids are on these days.”

If the doctor says, “Oh, that sounds interesting,” here’s what I say next:

“My favorite part is when I teach doctors how to set up their own social media accounts. At first, they seem worried about it, but once they get the hang of it, they really start to like it.”

If the doctor replies, “Oh, that sounds interesting” again, I keep going. They start asking me questions, they share their concerns about social media, and soon we both forget why I came to their office in the first place.

If your hospital sees a doctor with social media potential, here’s how to start the conversation:


Do patients trust you over ‘Dr. Google’?

Patients come to doctors with crackpot ideas about ailments and treatments because there’s so much bad medical information online. They don’t know where to turn. That’s when blogging comes in handy.

“Imagine if you told me after this appointment that I have stomachtradistisorious,” I say. “The first thing I’m going to do after this appointment is Google it. But let’s say you specialize in treating that disease and you have written several blog posts about it—symptoms, causes and treatment options. If your blog posts show up on my search, I’d see you as the authority on it. I’d trust you.”

Do you want to be on TV, get quoted in a magazine or speak at a conference?

Most doctors like being in the spotlight—sharing ideas, connecting with other doctors and seeing their name in print. Social media helps feed their ego.

“The best way to get journalists and other news organizations to notice you is to go where they are—online,” I say. “Your hospital marketing department is always looking for doctors to go on TV or get quoted in a blog when something happens at your hospital or if there’s something they need an expert opinion on. If you’re on social media, you can be the voice for your hospital and your community.”

Have you heard of @SeattleMamaDoc?

Doctors are competitive. They want to know what their peers are up to. That’s when I tell them about Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson and her partnership with Seattle Children’s Hospital.

“Do you remember when Jenny McCarthy said on ‘Oprah’ that vaccines were linked to autism?” I ask. “After the episode aired, Dr. Swanson, a pediatrician, said her patients were really scared and asked her a lot of questions. She decided to start a blog to help alleviate their fears. Since then, the blog has become so successful that she’s had speaking gigs in Australia, she advises the CDC on improving pediatric/parenting messaging and has more than 30,000 followers on Twitter. And it all started because she wanted to help make sure kids got vaccinated.”

No comment yet.

Les réseaux sociaux sont utilisés par plus de 3 milliards de personnes


Selon les statistiques compilées par Hootsuite et We Are Social, il y aurait aujourd’hui plus de 3 milliards de personnes sur les réseaux sociaux. Cela représente 40 % de la population mondiale et une large majorité des utilisateurs d’internet. Facebook et YouTube seraient les deux plateformes dominantes.

No comment yet.

Patients Love Social Media. But Will They See Your Clinical Trial?


Americans check social media 17 times a day -- that's nearly once every hour. They check their messages on Facebook, read news on Twitter, share photos on Instagram. Social networks let you advertise your medical research opportunities to a potential audience of millions. Here's how to promote clinical trials on social media in a compliant and effective way.

Why Is Social Media Marketing So Important?

Patients are on social media every day, multiple times per day. Sometimes patients come to social media sites like Facebook to seek community and support for their disease in one of the thousands of Facebook pages and groups dedicated to this effort. And sometimes patients are checking up on family and friends. Regardless, we can use the power of social media advertising to present them with information about your clinical study.

 Recruitment for clinical trials via social media is already on the rise. In one study, nine out 14 medical research companies planned to use social media to boost patient enrollment. Among organizations that already used social media for recruitment, Facebook was the most popular platform, followed by online patient communities, YouTube and Twitter.

The demographic is social media networks like Facebook is usually in the sweetspot of what researchers are looking for in trial participants. While you might think that social media skews to a young audience, 84 percent of people who check Facebook are aged between 30 and 49, and 72 percent are between 50 and 64. For a clinical trial for breast cancer, we found the highest degree of engagement on Facebook in women aged 50 and higher.

How to Use Social Media for Clinical Trials

Like any worthwhile effort, an effective campaign requires a solid strategy and great execution. Message and creative development are important as is having multiple options to test for optimization of the campaign.

It's important to stay compliant when promoting clinical trials. Facebook, for example, stipulates that all marketing must clearly represent the company and service being advertised. Twitter has a similar policy. In addition, all content shown to a potential subject must first be approved by IRB. Companies like Seeker Health offer customized compliance tools to suppress the comments on Facebook ads, which has become the gold-standard practice for clinical trials.

Accelerate Your Clinical Trial Enrollment Today

Research suggests that 80 percent of clinical trials in the United States are delayed by at least one month because of low enrollment. Social media marketing solves this problem by letting you advertise medical research opportunities to a huge audience.

If you want to accelerate patient recruitment through social media, we can help. Click here to contact us. 

Sandra Shpilberg is Founder and CEO of Seeker Health, a digital health company innovating the way that patients learn about and enroll in clinical trials. More information at

No comment yet.

Would You Trust a Plastic Surgeon Who Snapchats His Procedures?


We live in a media-fueled world and no one industry is exempt any more than another from sharing the ins and outs of that sector on social media—beauty and plastic surgery included. In fact, more and more plastic surgeons are setting up Instagram and Snapchat accounts as a way to give potential patients an up close and personal explanation of the procedure itself and the results expected.

As New York plastic surgeon Matthew Schulman, MD, explains, the number of plastic surgeons using social media has been increasing, with the vast majority utilizing Instagram. “Regarding Snapchat, the number of plastic surgeons is growing but remains much lower. Plastic surgeons are realizing that social media is the 'new media,'” he says. “Social media use spans all socio-economic groups, all ages, and all geographic regions. By using social media, surgeons are able to bring attention to their practice, and do so in a positive way since they control the message.”

You May Also Like: Plastic Surgery Patient Journals Are The Latest Phenomena to Blow Up on Social Media

Las Vegas plastic surgeon Christopher Khorasandi, MD, says that because the aesthetics industry is generally more involved in professional marketing, it is natural that providers take part in the conversation. “Snapchat is one of many mediums that surgeons are turning to. It speaks to a new generation of patients and allows patients to not only learn about procedures, but also learn about the surgeons themselves,” he adds. Cutting down on the amount of research and homework that needs to be done on the patients part (although it’s still necessary and can’t be glossed over), getting an inside view for how a surgeon operates, the results garnered and their overall demeanor are all pluses for surgeons being active on social media.

While some doctors see this as a marketing tool, others find it unnecessary to post live surgeries and images of their work on these forums. In fact, at the recent annual ASAPS Aesthetic Meeting, one doctor took to the stage to share her findings on how patients responded to doctors sharing one picture in particular of a surgeon performing a procedure and documenting it on social media (mind you, the post showed a patient straddled on a chair, which made for great fodder. But nonetheless, the panel quickly turned into a sounding board about doctors using social media).

You May Also Like: Goldie Hawn Goes Social With Her Anti-Aging Routine

Just like your favorite beauty brand or celebrity, it’s now almost expected for plastic surgeons to be regularly active on Instagram and Snapchat—and this is especially important for prospective patients and those that have pending procedures. “We have become a digital, constantly connected society.  It follows that plastic surgery would end up largely embracing social media,” says Dr. Khorasandi. “While the medium cannot be criticized, the message contained within is where many surgeons differ. Some feel that posts should remain strictly informational while there are those that feel entertainment can, and should, be part of the message—it’s this latter notion that causes so much fuss.”

Find Injectables And Fillers Doctors near you:

While it’s still important for surgeons to maintain an educational website with answers to the most frequently asked questions, information about popular procedures and a photo gallery, patients now want to see their prospective doctor on social media, too. “If the surgeon is absent from social media it is viewed that they are hiding something. Or, that his or her results are not worth showing off to the public,” explains Dr. Schulman. “While we all know that there are may excellent surgeons who don't have a social media presence, the reality is that it is perceived negatively and perception becomes reality.”

You May Also Like: This Unusual Plastic Surgery Procedure Is Suddenly Trending on Instagram

Another reason why doctors are jumping on the Instagram bandwagon: it helps to grow their practice tremendously. “With my practice, social media has helped grow it to a level that many can't achieve. My consults are booked four to six months out in advance and there is a nine month wait for surgery,” says Dr. Schulman. “My prices are among the highest in the nation and patients continue to book at a high rate and I know that this is due to my social media presence.” With more than 100,000 followers on Instagram, Dr. Schulman’s social media accounts (he has a Snapchat account, too, that garners more than 4.5 million views per day) give the world an inside look at before and after results and an idea of what really happens before, during and after surgery. He goes on to say that when he analyzed his surgical consultation date for a 12-month period (over 1,000 consecutive consultations), the surgical booking rate for those patients who were actively following him on Snapchat before the consultation was 73 percent compared to 43 percent for those not following him on Snapchat. “This just shows that I was already preselected by prospective patients before the consultation and they were coming to book surgery.”

But this still begs to answer the question of what the consumer feels about seeing these doctors put everything out there for the world to view. Sure, some may see it as unprofessional but for the large majority of patients and potential patients who want to make sure that they are selecting the right surgeon and the right procedure—and want to actually see what they themselves will experience—this is by far the best way to do it.  “The vast majority of patients I have encountered have a positive impression of social media when it comes to plastic surgery,” says Dr. Khorasandi. “While there are those who shy away from watching live procedures, I am constantly amazed by how many people actually enjoy watching the process. In terms of my social media posts, it’s the before-and-after photos that garner the most impressions, the most likes, and the most interaction.”

You May Also Like: This Video of a Doctor Squeezing Excess Lip Filler From a Cyst Is Beyond Horrifying

“All of my patients are given the opportunity to have their surgery shown on Snapchat. Everyone who agrees, signs an extensive consent form,” says Dr. Schulman. “The entire point of my account is to give a realistic experience so if my patient wants something shown, I will show it.” Besides featuring surgical procedures, he also features consultations, follow-ups and nonsurgical procedures like toxins, fillers, lasersand aesthetician services. Chicago plastic surgeon Otto Placik, MD, adds that featuring actual patients on Snapchat reveals a willingness to show results in real time (and not necessarily long-term results) and the efforts the surgeon makes to achieve those outcomes. “Potential patients of my practice comment on the educational approach. They seem to have a better appreciation for the sincere efforts taken to achieve the final outcomes and they understand why they “hurt” after surgery as opposed to conventional plastic surgery TV shows that show the patient going in and out of surgery, but not the actual incisions or surgical trauma required to accomplish the procedure,” he says.

And, for those who use Snapchat and other social media platforms to their advantage, it’s definitely worth the investment and walking on the fine line. Dr. Khorasandi says he had one patient fly halfway across the world to have lip filler that required just a single syringe. “She liked my work on social media,” he says. “After I injected her with filler, she got on the plane and headed back home. I don't think anything like that would have happened in the days before social media.”

No comment yet.

7 Trends On How Big Pharma Uses Social Media


Although their communications are highly regulated, pharmaceutical firms are steadily adopting social media to reach and interact with consumers, potential new hires, and health care professionals. But how exactly are firms navigating these waters compliantly? To find out, I spoke with Lakshaman (Lux) Narayan, CEO and a co-founder of Unmetric, Inc. and a TED Talk speaker. Unmetric is a branded content analytics company that recently released a report that outlined social media trends for big pharma.

Joanna Belbey: Tell us a bit about the methodology behind your recent report, "The 7 Social Media Trends in the Pharmaceutical Industry”.

Lux Narayan:  We used data that we already had from our platform that monitors over 100,000 brands across 13 different verticals, pharma being one of them. People sliced and analyzed the data, and looked at it from different perspectives to analyze the industry. Pharma is particularly interesting because of all the regulations and compliance that surround it. It's interesting to see what pharma brands do, given the amount of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compliance to which they adhere.


Belbey: Due to restrictions from the FDA, your report showed how pharmaceutical firms split their social presence into four independent silos. Can you tell us more about that?

Narayan: Social media is a constrained medium for pharma due to the regulatory environment . Firms are a little hamstrung on what they can and cannot say about their products. We looked at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram to see how firms are using social media. We saw that there are four major silos of effort that allow firms to use social media and still comply with regulatory requirements. To start, the firms we evaluated have a Corporate Social Profile which may include an overview and history of the company and a bit about the people working there. Another popular area is Careers in Pharma, which was not surprising, considering that many of these companies have tens of thousands of employees and need the best talent. We also saw many pharmaceutical firms set up separate Over the Counter (OTC) Branded pages to discuss their specific products there. Many also create Community Pages where they talk about diseases, rather than the product or drug itself, trying to become a place for people to gather who are concerned about one of these conditions.

Belbey: In other words, pharma makes a concerted effort not to discuss specific drugs to avoid scrutiny and regulatory requirements of the FDA. What other trends did your analysis reveal?


Narayan: Overall, we found that there were several trends in how pharmaceutical firms use social media. First of all, firms have been publishing less social media content. There could be various reasons for that. Companies may have already spent too much on content and not necessarily reaching as wide an audience as before. Brands could also be reallocating money from content creation to content promotion and giving a longer shelf life to content. Or perhaps the content did not show up on public walls (“dark posts”), which is what platforms like ours monitor. We also learned that brands are careful what they publish as organic reach is not as great as it was. Overall, we were pleasantly surprised to see some brands using Facebook Live and videos, which you don't expect to see as much for a more regulated industry like pharma. However, the nature of video (requiring more production costs, effort, and time) could explain the reduction in the amount of content that's coming out now as opposed to a year ago.

Belbey: In addition to the 1) decrease in content and the 2) rise on video, your report also showed that 3) Facebook engagement in on the rise, 4) more content is being promoted on Facebook, 5) OTC Brand Profiles are declining, 6) companies reply to fewer tweets than ever, and 7) firms were active across social networks, with firms preferring Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube. What’s next?

Narayan:   Brands need to adapt, evolve and use data to understand what's working  and what's not. Since we’re seeing good engagement for video, they probably will continue to double down on that. Social media presence is a large dataset. With the right sort of analysis, such as artificial intelligence, more brands will learn to harness the signals that social throws up and use it to separate the needles from the haystack. It’s going to help them build better data points to design the kind of content will be more engaging. The trend of figuring out what can drive engagement and putting more effort behind it, which might be a single video that might give you more engagement than multiple posts that you put out, will continue.

Belbey: As firms have more ability to do the analytics, do you think the content is going to become more tailored and more effective?

Narayan: Absolutely. There are so many signals that they can harness and help drive narrative flow in terms of what content will engage better with an audience. That sophistication is becoming higher in pharma companies. You're going to see them use these analytics to create better and more responsive content and campaigns in the future.

Contributor’s notes: Here is the actual guidance from the FDA pertaining to advertising and social media for your convenience:

Medical Product Communications That Are Consistent With the FDA-Required Labeling — Questions and Answers (Draft Jan 2017)

Drug and Device Manufacturer Communications With Payors, Formulary Committees, and Similar Entities – Questions and Answers (Draft 2017)

FDA Draft Guidance for Industry Internet/Social Media Platforms with Character Space Limitations – Presenting Risk and Benefit Information for Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices (June 2014)

FDA Draft Guidance for Internet/Social Media Platforms: Correcting Independent Third-Party Misinformation About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices (June 2014)

Fulfilling Regulatory Requirements for Postmarking Submissions of Interactive Promotional Media for Prescription Human and Animal Drugs and Biologics (Draft Jan 2014)

No comment yet.

Why physicians should become active on social media


Understandably, some physicians are resistant to the idea of professionally embracing social media. I truly believe that everyone, can find a way to make these digital platforms work for them. With a unique voice, good content, patience and consistency, your practice’s social media accounts can become valuable assets. Here are a few ways it can pay off:

 Build a Sense of Community

Interacting with patients to the degree we’d like and fostering great doctor-patient relationships that build loyalty simply isn’t possible all the time. A 2016 study that looked at doctors across 26 specialties found that patients spent an average of 13 to 16 minutes with their doctor, per visit. This is not a lot of time to address a patient’s immediate concerns, much less build a relationship. This is where social media comes in. 

Creating a comfortable, safe and educational atmosphere online that showcases your clinical expertise and creates conversations that are relevant to your patients is something that can deliver more face time with the people you serve. Welcoming feedback and supporting peer engagement is a differentiator for your practice and will help you become more relatable. It allows patients to see another side of you. 

The more interesting questions your practice posts, and the more interactive the content it shares, the more likely your social pages will build a following. An active forum with patients who relate to one another (and you) will draw attention to your practice and can boost word-of-mouth referrals.


No comment yet.

5 health care organizations that make the most of social media


Health care marketers can’t afford to ignore social media.

With the right strategy, organizations can increase campaign awareness, gain community support, and garner insight from a like-minded community of professionals and individuals.

For health care organizations, social media marketing must revolve around the brand while still engaging audiences and holding their attention. offered the following examples of five health care organizations that have developed and maintained compelling social media marketing strategies.

Cleveland Clinic


The nonprofit academic medical center has a strong presence on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. It has created a welcoming, knowledgeable and community-centric personality by featuring people-centered and approachable photography, along with posts about local interests and friendly stories from its blog that answer common questions.

By focusing on the needs of its audience, Cleveland Clinic has developed an engaged social community on mulitple platforms.

Quest Diagnostics

The home page of this Fortune 500 organization’s website addresses both B2C and B2B audiences and includes a special social media section that enables visitors to connect directly with brand managers on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

All of Quest Diagnostics’ social media accounts reflect the company’s professional, yet approachable, tone through simple, warm, supportive language that helps audiences feel like members of the community.

Josh Robbins @imstilljosh

My buddies at @QuestDX are sponsoring the #AIDSWalkBuffalo on 5/6. #photobooth #dedicationstation

5:23 AM - 29 Apr 2017
Twitter Ads info and privacy

Communicators also spotlight their employees, which humanizes the clinical brand.

Philips Healthcare


This health-centric division of the larger Philips brand is focused on creating a better future through its wellness-related products and services. This mission is reflected in its social media marketing strategy, which features an array of content based on its advances in health care and technology.

Its “Innovations in Health” group on LinkedIn comprises a select community of health care professionals, which speaks to an audience interested in the latest health care solutions. This has resulted in an exclusive community of over 140,000 members with a passion for health care and technological innovation at both the professional and consumer level. This community ultimately gives Philips Healthcare abundant insight and knowledge that can be used for future innovation.

Johnson & Johnson


The company has led the way for health care brands in social media marketing by establishing its own unique tone. Rather than merely posting and tweeting about its latest news, brand managers create and share content with a comprehensive focus.

This strategy shows that the company understands its audience and their interests enough to develop and endorse content that’s both relevant and timely. Brand managers deeply engage their online following and keep them returning for more.

Orlando Health


This not-for-profit health care network has established a social personality that feels upbeat, warm and personal. Its social media posts span a wide range of initiatives and interests, such as informational stories about better well-being, adorable photos of therapy dogs and the latest local news. Every post displays its passion for its people.

Orlando Health

Primary care doctors should offer or refer low-risk patients to behavioral counseling to prevent heart disease. ;…;

1:00 AM - 2 May 2017
More Exercise & Better Diet: How to Cut Your Heart Disease
Twitter Ads info and privacy

Orlando Health overcomes the challenge of creating a friendly and fun social media personality by incorporating a holistic wellness approach with a focus on the needs of both the individual and the larger community.

No comment yet.

Social Media for Public - Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate


Continuous Professional Development Presentation given to my colleagues working at the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate 

No comment yet.

Bringing health education into the social media-savvy 21st century


New research examines the potential applications and risks of social media as a learning tool in health care.

It’s now common practice for politicians, corporate leaders, and legal authorities to use Twitter to share information and anecdotes with the public. Though social media offers speed and access to wider audiences, with it also comes the pitfalls of potentially sharing information that may not be appropriate for the public realm. 

These opportunities and concerns are part of groundbreaking research conducted by Dr. Kendall Ho—a Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI) researcher and practicing emergency physician at Vancouver General Hospital—that examines the use of social media in health science education. 

“There’s no question that social media has changed our lives in many ways,” says Dr. Ho. “As health care professionals, we need to identify social media’s advantages and how best to use them for health education and clinical care. We also need to understand some of the dangers and challenges surrounding patient confidentiality. That is why research in this area is so important.”

Dr. Ho is also a professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and founding director of the eHealth Strategy Office at the University of British Columbia.


Dr. Ho and co-authors examine perceptions of social media use in health science education in a 2017 JMIR Medical Education study called “Social media in health science education: an international survey.” With the involvement of UBC Southern Medical Program medical student Karan D’Souza and universities around the world, Dr. Ho and his co-authors found that most of the health science student respondents have social media accounts and see the value of this digital means of communication. However, the students—from eight universities in seven countries—identified three main barriers to using social media in their health science learning: “uncertainty on policies, concerns about professionalism and lack of support from the department.” 

Social media in health science education: an international survey used survey data collected from the electronically distributed Universitas 21 Use of social media in health education survey to examine the opinions of students on the use and barriers to use of social media in health science education.

The majority of students reported using social media for personal and/or professional purposes, but many noted that they were uncertain about how and when to use it appropriately in their academic work. More than 10 per cent of students admitted to sharing clinical images without permission and, of these, almost 30 per cent did not use security settings or did not know what their security settings were. 

Tellingly, 65 per cent of respondents had not received training in social media policies and guidelines, and most of this group noted that they would like to receive such training. 

To maximize the benefits of using social media in health science education, and minimize the risks associated with inappropriate sharing, Dr. Ho and his co-authors recommend ramping up social media training programs and establishing clear guidelines on how to share information through online channels. 

Watch a video of Dr. Ho discussing the transformative power of social media in health care education:

As Dr. Ho notes, social media is a powerful tool for: peer learning; knowledge translation and dissemination; and communicating with patients and families. It also supports different learning abilities and styles—including visual learners—through its many interfaces, such as infographics, videos, wikis and blog posts.


Michael Slater, a medical student in UBC’s Southern Medical Program, appreciates the efficiency and opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration social media affords. By following the social media posts of experts in his field—where he often finds links to research studies and information about clinical best practices—he saves time and increases his productivity. 

The same can be said for the Facebook groups Slater belongs to where he can share information quickly and easily with interdisciplinary colleagues and teams around the world.

“There is so much information getting out to the public already,” says Slater, who is also working on the social media for health education research initiative with Dr. Ho. “If that can be useful information, it is not a bad thing so long as confidentiality and professionalism are protected and maintained.”

“Social media is already being used in the personal and professional lives of researchers and clinicians; education should give students the tools they need to navigate its risks and benefits.” 

No comment yet.

Hospital Reimbursement to Reflect Number of Positive Posts on Social Media 


Mr. Smith had just been discharged from his local hospital after a 6-day stay for detox, anxiety, failure to thrive, and chronic pain.  He was not happy at all and felt his needs had not been addressed.  He had not been allowed to go outside to smoke, his girlfriend had been unlawfully turned away from visiting him after security found IV drugs in her purse (one-time incident and her first), and he had been constantly undermedicated for his chronic pain that he has struggled with for the past 39 of his 43 years.

He thought that if he did not get the proper treatment, then his state-funded Medicaid dollars should not be allotted to that particular institution of healing.  He decided to share his experience with the world and try to “shake things up” as it were.  He immediately whipped out his iPhone 7 Plus and started “hash-tagging the sh*t” out of that God-forsaken academic tertiary care center.

Worst hospital ever! Tied me down even though I only hit 2 nurses. #assaulted #XHospital

Only gave me 4 mg Dilaudid at a time, pain was unbearable #XHospital

Gave me Narcan! #smh.  Was only tired and hadn’t slept for days #XHospital

Within 5 minutes, Smith’s post was printed and given directly to hospital administration and a meeting was called with the charge nurse for that floor.  To their shock and dismay the nurse learned that the ACA would be judging hospital performance in a more patient-centered subjective manner.  Vital signs and labs were out, patient social media posts were in; plain and simple.

The nurse was told that it was negative social media posts that were keeping their hospital in the proverbial red.  The administrator encouraged the nurse to take a gander at the feedback Smith had generated and how Xhospital was benchmarking with Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook.

Other members of the digital world have joined the global conversation as well sparking some debate.  Xcv12 writes: “How many different user names do you have?  I think you need some help.”  On the other hand Bnm34 writes: “Dude!  Go to Hospital-Z, they give you whatever the f**k you want. #turkeysandwichesanddilaudidfordayzzzzzson.”

Actual treatment and degree of positive outcome aside, it is clear that people will be better informed about where to get what they think they need having no medical training and the insurance will be better informed on how to pay for it.

No comment yet.

Les réseaux sociaux diagnostiqueront-ils nos maux ? 


Données et analyse prédictive pourront transformer les réseaux sociaux en outils de diagnostics.
Agence Customary's curator insight, July 3, 3:16 AM
Facebook expérimente déjà un algorithme de détection de la détresse. Un premier pas dans le secteur médical?

Hospital Impact: Choosing the right social media channel is a lot like picking the right shoes


Social media channels are a lot like shoes. They provide ways to communicate with others, but they serve different purposes. For example, you wouldn’t wear a pair of killer black heels to run a 13K or wear your favorite Chuck Taylors to a black-tie event. So too, hospitals should use different social media channels to reach different audiences.


If Snapchat were a pair of shoes, it might be lavender Lumpy Space Princess Dr. Marten boots. Super cool and comfy, but definitely not for anyone older than 20 or unfamiliar with the Adventure Time comic. But if you’re a children’s hospital or a pediatric practice, Snapchat might be the perfect communications tool to reach teens and college students.

Young people are addicted to making playful selfies and watching their friends’ Snapchat stories, which give their friends a look at what they’ve done in the past 24 hours.

In addition, Snapchat recently introduced World Lenses, which brings Snapchat filters to regular photographs and allows users to add 3D elements to any camera image, giving them a fun and whimsical look.

Snapchat provides hospitals with a great way to educate young people about issues that impact them, such as depression, nutrition or STDs. Or consider creating a Snapchat filter for your next hospital event (i.e., Christmas party, charity run, etc.). Your millennial employees will be surprised, and you’ll gain some “street cred.”


Instagram is more like a pair of Adidas Stan Smith sneakers. Versatile and comfy, Instagram appeals to a larger audience than Snapchat, even though it offers many of the same features.

Instagram’s primary goal is to share photos and videos. Instagram users tend to be younger than Facebook users, consisting of teens and millennials. However, it keeps adding new Snapchat-like features, such as “stories” and most recently, selfie filters.

It’s no surprise that some of the hospitals that make the best use of Instagram are children’s hospitals, since their patients are avid Instagram users and love to have their photos taken.

Community hospitals and children’s hospitals should use Instagram to promote health and wellness programs, educate people about service lines that are relevant to younger people (i.e., orthopedics and maternity services) and to promote upcoming events. Or post photos and videos of past and current patients and hospital employees to bring your stories to life (provided they’ve signed press release forms).


If Facebook were a pair of shoes, it would be a pair of nude flats or kitten heels, because it reaches the largest and most diverse audience. As Facebook has matured, it has become the social media channel for baby boomers, GenXers and millennials. Why? Because it’s user-friendly and provides a simple way for parents to share photos of their kids.

It should be no surprise that college students and teens have fled Facebook; they don’t want to use the same social media channel as their parents, and they’re probably embarrassed that everyone can see their family photos.

Hospitals are starting to embrace Facebook Live, which allows users to broadcast video from their mobile devices. Facebook videos have always been popular, but research shows that people spend three times more time watching livestreaming videos on Facebook than watching nonlive content.

For example, Erlanger Hospital recently used Facebook Live to share tips on how to protect your skin this summer. And hospitals in Canada posted livestream videos on Facebook of a colonoscopy and even a kidney transplant as educational tools. There are lots of ways hospitals can use live video. They just need to learn to be comfortable not working with a script and going live.


If LinkedIn were a pair of shoes, it would be a pair of black pumps that are perfect for work. LinkedIn has 470 million users and continues to be the best social media platform for organizations to communicate with future employees. As a result, it’s important for hospitals to update their LinkedIn page for the new user interface for desktop users, which was introduced in January 2017.

But more than that, hospitals need to use LinkedIn to promote the organization’s culture—whether it’s to post photos of their employees having fun and why people enjoy working there.

One important change with the new user interface is that LinkedIn is again supporting hashtags. One hospital that’s doing a good job using hashtags is Stanford Health Care in Stanford, California, which uses the hashtag #HealHumanityTogether on its posts, whether they’re about health and wellness or career opportunities.


Twitter is more like a pair of well-worn hiking boots. It serves a specific purpose and does it well, but it really isn’t for everyone.

While I was once a big fan of Twitter, it has changed over the years and has become less of a channel for two-way communication and more of an RSS feed to help people stay on top of the news that interests them.

While hospitals still need to own their Twitter handle and post content two or three times a day (ideally with photos), this is the social media channel that offers the least opportunity for engagement.

Like finding the right pair of shoes, it’s important to pick the right social media channel for each audience. Otherwise, your great content won’t be seen by the right people—and you’ll end up running a road race in a pair of killer black heels.

No comment yet.

Social Networks May One Day Diagnose Disease - But at a Cost


Opinion: Posts on social media could indicate medical conditions before people know they're sick.
No comment yet.

How Brands Should and Should NOT Behave on Social Media


Whether it’s using GIFs or the latest slang, brands do what they can to stay relevant on social media. But despite their best efforts, many people find these behaviors more annoying than cool.

In fact, nearly seven in 10 US internet users surveyed by social media analytics and monitoring service Sprout Social in April 2017 were annoyed when brands used slang on social media.

Similarly, more than four in 10 respondents (42%) said they found it annoying when brands used GIFs.

And that’s not all. Many internet users also didn’t like it when brands made fun of their competitors on social media. And politics? That was another behavior respondents found frustrating. More than seven in 10 respondents found it annoying when brands got political on social media.

But not every brand behavior on social media was aggravating.

No comment yet.

Digital cohorts within the social mediome to circumvent conventional research challenges?


We are becoming comfortable with the concept of a sharing economy, where resources are shared among many individuals using online forums. Whether activities involve sharing rides (Uber, Lyft, and others), accommodations (Airbnb), or information (social media), underlying attributes include reduced transactional costs, enhanced information transparency, dynamic feedback, and socialization of opportunity. As health care systems realize that they are changing from direct-to-business to a direct-to-customer model, their ability to connect directly with individuals will become a foundational strategy.


This month’s column introduces us to social media as a research tool. Information derived from social media sites can be harvested for critical clinical information (the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention tracks the spread of influenza using social media analytic tools), research data (patient preferences), and as a recruitment method for clinical studies. Kulanthaivel and colleagues have described their experiences and literature review to help us imagine new ways to collect data at markedly reduced transaction costs (compared to a formal clinical trial). While there are many cautions about the use of social media in your practice or research, we are only beginning to understand its potential.

John I. Allen, MD, MBA, AGAF

Editor in Chief

Medical knowledge, culminating from the collection and translation of patient data, is the primary objective of the clinical research paradigm. The successful conduct of this traditional model has become even more challenging with expansion of costs and a dwindling research infrastructure. Beyond systemic issues, conventional research methods are burdened further by minimal patient engagement, inadequate staffing, and geographic limitations to recruitment. Clinical research also has failed to keep pace with patient demands, and the limited scope of well-funded, disease-specific investigations have left many patients feeling disenfranchised. Social media venues may represent a viable option to surpass these current and evolving barriers when used as an adjunctive approach to traditional clinical investigation.


Dr. Anand Kulanthaivel

The term social media (SM) most commonly refers to relatively public, Internet-based communication platforms that enable users to consume and disseminate information. The most popular SM venues currently include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and independent online forums (Table 1). These digital platforms support sharing multiple forms of media including text, images, and videos between users who interact within a wide realm of medical groups and genres (e.g., specific diseases, symptoms, and so forth). This collective mediome1 is a relatively untapped resource for clinical study, but research applications using SM methodology have begun to produce real study benefits in an array of diseases. Effective implementation of this technology by interested investigators will require an in-depth working knowledge of digital venues beyond their own online social presence. A firm grasp of these applications can enable contact with previously out-of-reach study participants, promote patient engagement and disease investment, and cultivate a community of interacting patients and researchers. This data-rich resource already has facilitated various aspects of biomedical studies, including dissemination of epidemiologic surveys,2 direct recruitment into clinical trials,3 collection of biologic samples,4 and extraction of patient-provided data, all within SM platforms.5

Advantages and pitfalls in social media research

SM is a new frontier containing a wide spectrum of clinical and qualitative data from connected users (patients). Collection and examination of either individuals’ or groups’ SM information use can provide insight into qualitative life experiences, just as analysis of biologic samples can enable dissection of genetic disease underpinnings. This mediome is analogous to the human genome, both in content and utility.1Analyzing data streams from SM for interpersonal interactions, message content, and even frequency can provide digital investigators with volumes of information that otherwise would remain unattainable.


Dr. Rachel Fogel

There are many advantages to scientific interrogation of the social mediome, specifically because applications within SM have no physical bounds, encourage information exchange among stakeholders, and work in real time. Patient access to clinical studies and individual investment can limit both conventional and unconventional approaches to research. However, SM far exceeds the geographic limitations determined by the location of patients and academic systems, thus expanding the available recruitment population dramatically (Table 1). Patient-to-patient communication is facilitated by the format of most SM venues (Facebook and other Internet forums), thus creating an enriched collection of disease testimonies, symptom discussions, and treatment effects. In fact, patients frequently use SM to form online support groups to share experiences with similarly afflicted patients and families. These groups and their documented communications are valuable because qualitative patient data can provide a high resolution of variable patient metrics to investigators.5Finally, data collection from SM can occur continuously in real time and with little cost. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are free to use, although online Internet forums may incur small monetary investments (typically $15–$50 per month). Because of study heterogeneity, it remains challenging to compare costs between a SM-based research study and a similar traditional clinic-based approach. However, historically, costs incurred to SM research pioneers have been dramatically lower than cost estimates of conventional approaches in the clinic.6

Several limitations and potential risks of SM for medical research should be addressed, including the possible compromise of privacy and confidentiality, the use and dissemination of medical advice and information, potential demographic biases, and a required trust of the investigator by patients. Many of these challenges can be similar to traditional methods, however, as in the conventional model, careful management can drastically reduce unwanted study issues.

The risk of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act violations must be considered seriously in the context of patient–researcher interactions on SM. Because of the relatively public nature of these venues, patient confidentiality may be at risk if patients choose to divulge personal medical information. However, if proper protective measures are taken to ensure that the venue is secure (e.g., a private or closed group on Facebook or a by-invitation-only online Internet forum), and the researcher vets all patients who request entrance into the group, this risk may be minimized. Moreover, to further reduce any legal liability, the researcher should not provide any medical advice to patients who participate in a SM study. The drive to provide medical direction in study patients with clinical need may be strong because collaborative relationships between investigator and patients are likely to form. Furthermore, digital access to investigators on SM commonly becomes easy for patients. Safe approaches to communication could include redirecting patients to consult with their own doctor for advice, unbiased dissemination of disease-specific educational materials, or depiction of only institutional review board–approved study materials.7,8

Dr. Josette Jones

An investigator-driven interactive community (e.g., Facebook group) may bolster patient involvement in SM studies and help facilitate disease-specific research. However, because most SM venues facilitate patient–patient interactions, misleading or incorrect medical information may be spread quickly between patients and could be misconstrued as official medical advice.9 To mitigate this, a researcher or trusted study personnel must actively moderate the digital venue to prevent the spread of counterproductive information.7 Although it is not possible to completely eliminate the sharing of unverified information, regular moderation will reduce the potentially negative impact of such sharing.

The perception that only younger populations use SM may appear to be a significant limitation for its implementation in clinical research. However, this limitation is rapidly becoming less significant because recent studies have shown that the use of SM has become increasingly common among older adults. As of 2014, more than half of the US adult population used Facebook, including 73% and 63% of Internet-using adults ages 30–49 and 50–64 years, respectively.10 SM may not be suitable for all diseases, however, there is likely significant demographic overlap for many disease populations.

Finally, it is imperative for researchers to gain the trust of patients on SM to effectively use these venues for research purposes. Because patient–researcher interaction does not occur face-to-face on these platforms, gaining the trust of patients may be more difficult than it would be in a clinical setting. Thus, patient–patient and patient–researcher communications within SM platforms must be cultivated carefully to instill participant confidence in the research being performed on their behalf. One of the authors (C.L.) has established an SM educational model for this exchange.4Specifically, he provides patients with a distillation of current field research by posting updates in a research-specific Facebook group and on Twitter. This model not only empowers patients with disease education, it also solidifies the importance of patient investment in disease-specific research. Furthermore, invested patients bring ideas to research, take a more educated and proactive role in their care team, and, ultimately, return to seek more study involvement.

Dr. Craig Lammert

A number of studies have shown SM methods to be an effective means of collecting data and improving quality of care for patients. One randomized controlled trial found that the use of SM to disseminate instructional information to patients alongside the traditional educational pamphlet increased patients’ quality of bowel preparation for colonoscopies.11 Another study successfully used the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America Partners Internet Cohort of more than 14,000 patients to examine factors associated with fiber consumption in inflammatory bowel disease and whether fiber was associated with disease flares.2 In addition, several studies have assessed the roles of mobile applications, remote health sensors, and telemedicine in research and patient care and have found that these tools are effective at providing more complete care in real time and with decreased costs.12 Riaz and Atreja13 noted that the most significant barrier to the use of these techniques in research and patient care is provider acceptability, in addition to the need for strict Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance to ensure patient confidentiality. Keeping these limitations in mind, the aforementioned studies lend significant support to the effective use of SM as adjuncts to traditional clinical investigation.

Social media in rare disease research

Rare diseases (conditions with a prevalence of less than 200,000 patients in North America), in particular, are prime for high-yield results and community impact using novel SM approaches. This is the result of established digital support groups, publications with historically low study numbers, and few focused investigators. Several studies of rare diseases have shown considerable advantages of using SM as a study tool. For instance, an existing neuroendocrine cervical cancer Facebook support group recently was used to recruit a geographically widespread cohort of patients with this rare cancer. Through an online survey posted in the Facebook group, patients were able to provide specific information on their treatment, disease, and symptom history, current disease status, and quality of life, including various psychological factors. Without the use of SM, collecting this information would have been virtually impossible because the patients were treated at 51 cancer centers across the country.14



Similarly, a 2014 study investigating Fontan-associated protein-losing enteropathy and plastic bronchitis aimed to compare patient participation in surveys posted on SM with participation in more traditional research modalities. The investigators found that 84% of responses were referred from SM. As of 2014, this cohort was the largest known group of post-Fontan protein-losing enteropathy and plastic bronchitis patients in existence.15

Currently, the use of SM in hepatology research, focused specifically on autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), is under exploration at Indiana University. AIH is a rare autoimmune liver disease that results in immune-mediated destruction of liver cells, possibly resulting in fibrosis, cirrhosis, or liver failure if treatment is unsuccessful. One of the authors (C.L.) used both Facebook and Twitter to construct a large study group of individuals affected with AIH called the Autoimmune Hepatitis Research Network (AHRN; 1,500 members) during the past 2 years.4 Interested individuals have joined this research group after searching for AIH online support groups or reading shared AHRN posts on other media platforms. Between April 2015 and April 2016, there were posts by more than 750 unique active members (more than 50% of the group contributes to discussions), most of whom appear to be either caregivers of AIH patients or AIH patients themselves.

Preliminary informational analysis on this group has shown that C.L. and study collaborators have been able to uncover rich clinical and nonclinical information that otherwise would remain unknown. This research was performed by semi-automated download of the Facebook group’s content and subsequent semantic analysis. Qualitative analysis also was performed by direct reading of patient narratives. Collected clinical information has included histories of medication side effects, familial autoimmune diseases, and comorbid conditions. The most common factors that patients were unlikely to discuss with a provider (e.g., financial issues, employment, personal relationships, use of supplements, and alcohol use) frequently were discussed in the AHRN group, allowing a more transparent view of the complete disease experience.

Beyond research conducted in the current paradigm, the AHRN has provided a rich community construct in which patients offer each other social support. The patient impression of AHRN on Facebook has been overwhelmingly positive, and patients often wonder why such a model has not been used with other diseases. The close digital interaction the author (C.L.) has had with numerous patients and families has promoted other benefits of this methodology: more than 40 new AIH patients from outside Indiana have traveled to Indiana University for medical consultation despite no advertisement.


SM has the potential to transform health care research as a supplement to traditional research methods. Compared with a conventional research model, this methodology has proven to be cost and time effective, wide reaching, and similarly capable of data collection. Use of SM in research has tremendous potential to direct patient-centered research because invested patient collaborators can take an active role in their own disease and may hone investigatory focus on stakeholder priorities. Limitations to this method are known, however; if implemented cautiously, these can be mitigated. Investment in and application of the social mediome by investigators and patients has the potential to support and transform research that otherwise would be impossible.


The authors wish to extend their gratitude to the members of the Autoimmune Hepatitis Research Network for their continued proactivity and engagement in autoimmune hepatitis research. Furthermore, the authors are grateful to Dr. Naga Chalasani for his continued mentorship and extensive contributions to the development of social media approaches in clinical investigation.


1. Asch, D.A., Rader, D.J., Merchant, R.M. Mining the social mediome. Trends Mol Med. 2015;21:528-9.

2. Brotherton, C.S., Martin, C.A., Long, M.D. et al. Avoidance of fiber is associated with greater risk of Crohn’s disease flare in a 6-month period. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016;14:1130-6.

3. Fenner, Y., Garland, S.M., Moore, E.E., et al. Web-based recruiting for health research using a social networking site: an exploratory study. J Med Internet Res. 2012;14:e20.

4. Lammert, C., Comerford, M., Love, J., et al. Investigation gone viral: application of the social mediasphere in research. Gastroenterology. 2015;149:839-43.

5. Wicks, P., Massagli, M., Frost, J., et al. Sharing health data for better outcomes on PatientsLikeMe. J Med Internet Res. 2010;12:e19.

6. Admon, L., Haefner, J.K., Kolenic, G.E., et al. Recruiting pregnant patients for survey research: a head to head comparison of social media-based versus clinic-based approaches. J Med Internet Res. 2016;18:e326.

7. Farnan, J.M., Sulmasy, L.S., Chaudhry, H. Online medical professionalism. Ann Intern Med. 2013;159:158-9.

8. Massachusetts Medical Society: Social Media Guidelines for Physicians. Available from: Accessed: January 3, 2017.

9. Pirraglia, P.A. Kravitz, R.L. Social media: new opportunities, new ethical concerns. J Gen Intern Med. 2013;28:165-6.

10. Duggan, M., Ellison, N.B., Lampe, C. et al. Demographics of key social networking platforms. (Available from:) (Accessed: January 4, 2017) Pew Res Cent Internet Sci Tech. 2015;

11. Kang, X., Zhao, L., Leung, F., et al. Delivery of Instructions via mobile social media app increases quality of bowel preparation. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016;14:429-35.

12. Bajaj, J.S., Heuman, D.M., Sterling, R.K., et al. Validation of EncephalApp, Smartphone-based Stroop test, for the diagnosis of covert hepatic encephalopathy. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015;13:1828-35.

13. Riaz, M.S. Atreja, A. Personalized technologies in chronic gastrointestinal disorders: self-monitoring and remote sensor technologies. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016;14:1697-705.

14. Zaid, T., Burzawa, J., Basen-Engquist, K., et al. Use of social media to conduct a cross-sectional epidemiologic and quality of life survey of patients with neuroendocrine carcinoma of the cervix: a feasibility study. Gynecol Oncol. 2014;132:149-53.

15. Schumacher, K.R., Stringer, K.A., Donohue, J.E., et al. Social media methods for studying rare diseases. Pediatrics. 2014;133:e1345–53.

Dr. Kulanthaivel and Dr. Jones are in the school of informatics and computing, Purdue University, Indiana University, Indianapolis; Dr. Fogel and Dr. Lammert are in the department of digestive and liver diseases, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis. This study was supported by KL2TR001106 and UL1TR001108 from the National Institutes of Health, and the Clinical and Translational Sciences Award from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (C.L.). The authors disclose no conflicts.

No comment yet.

Influencer Marketing for Pharmaceuticals: Effective Patient Influencers


Influencer Marketing – now there’s a term that wasn’t around “back in the day” when many were just starting out. So, what exactly is Influencer Marketing?

As seen on Huffington Post, Influencer Marketing “is simply the action of promoting and selling products or services through people (influencers) who have the capacity to have an effect on the character of a brand.” That is, indeed, a very simplistic way of putting it. But, while the term “Influencer Marketing” is relatively new, the concept is not and has been evolving with the times.

Turning specifically to influencer marketing for pharmaceuticals, let’s narrow the focus to how healthcare and pharmaceutical companies partner with Patient Influencers. In his article, Perspectives on Influencer Marketing in Healthcare, Matt Breese explains that “patients are, by nature, influencers. A mother influences her family’s healthcare decisions. A cancer survivor’s poignant story influences other cancer patients. A patient with a positive hospital experience influences friends and neighbors.”

Patient Influencers do often play a role in the decision-making process of fellow patients. You might ask why someone would trust a fellow patient over a representative of the healthcare or pharmaceutical industry. As Fabrizio Perrone spells out for us in his article, Influencer Marketing & the Healthcare Industry:

People look for a familiar tone that presents facts and other types of information in an authentic manner, especially when it comes to healthcare as it is a sensitive area in their lives.

Enter P2P [peer-to-peer] influencers and subject matter experts. People want to be engaged and educated by these two within the healthcare and medical communities. P2P influencers share their practical experiences in a way that makes them an appealing resource for their followers. Subject matter experts deliver complex medical information to consumers in a way that is easily understood and related to.

No comment yet.

What Does the Future of Social Media in Healthcare Look Like? 


“The power and benefit of social media channels is that they allow broad sharing of information, at little to no cost. Naturally, this benefit is also a curse, since unqualified people spouting medical advice or pseudoscience and marketers pushing products and services can present themselves as experts on the Internet. Unfortunately, with many adults researching medical conditions online and attempting to self-diagnose, this widespread misinformation can be dangerous. One important role for physicians in social media is to combat this misinformation.” ~ American Academy of Family Physicians

In March 2013, I started blogging and engaging on social media. At that time, the landscape of physicians on social media seemed uncertain and unclear. Guidelines from medical authorities were vague, maybe understandably so. Since that time, the conversation isn’t as much about if physicians should be on social media but rather how they should start if they haven’t already.

Short note on professionalism

When it comes to any conversation about physicians/healthcare and social media, I can’t help but to start interjecting professionalism. From every standpoint, this ends up being the basis of engagement and utilization when it comes to leveraging these social platforms online.

This past week, I saw a headline, as I am sure many of you did, that the president of the United States’ tweets are considered ‘official statements’ from the president. As much as I believe in the power of Twitter, even I am surprised by the influence of this social media platform. This example also demonstrates that your tweets represent you both personally and professionally and how far reaching the impact can be.

The bottom line as stated by the Canadian Medical Protective Association – “When using professional social networks, like all social media, keep in mind that you are governed by the same legal and professional standards that would apply in any other professional setting.”

The future is bright

The present climate of social media use in healthcare is a good indication of what the future holds. This is an area that only continues to gain momentum and the positives continue to outweigh the negatives. It is hard to deny the ability of a platform, such as Twitter, to allow physicians to share information, engage with the public and other healthcare professionals, promote health care policies and behaviours, and overall remain aware of new research and opportunities. And this is just scratching the surface – “Social media allows for expression, but also education and interaction, with groups of people that were previously impossible to reach.1”

One of the emerging uses is as a way for physicians to interact with their patients. According to this comprehensive, great article Social Media and Health Care Professionals: Benefits, Risks, and Best Practices by Lee Ventola – “Approximately 60% of physicians were found to favor interacting with patients through social media for the purpose of providing patient education and health monitoring, and for encouraging behavioral changes and drug adherence, with the hope that these efforts will lead to “better education, increased compliance, and better outcomes.”

I personally think that social media utilization in healthcare will continue to flourish where ‘corridor consults’ with experts anywhere in the world will enhance patient care and evidenced-based medical information will be at our fingertips. We have just touched on this topic that will inevitably continue to grow – the future is bright.



1. Gould, D.J. (2016) Emerging Trends in Social Media and Plastic Surgery. Annals of Translational Medicine. 2016; 4(23):455.

Cf sol's comment, July 8, 1:25 AM
Nice sharing... My Compassion Homecare Where your care comes from the heart.
Visit our website...;

Humanizing The Brand Experience: Five ways to Optimize Your Patient-Centric Strategy with Social Media


Today, over 65% of American adults are using social media sites, and adoption from seniors (65 and older) has grown from 0% in 2006 to 35% in 2015. This digital transcendence has had profound implications for healthcare and medicine, which is now the leading factor that is enabling the entire healthcare ecosystem to pivot around the patient-centric model.

The one-size-fits-all wonder drug and the physician-voice-driven model, as we know it, is rapidly undergoing a paradigm shift towards advanced biologics (i.e., cell-based immunotherapies) and outcomes medicine based on patient-centered participation.  Much of this shift is driven by rapid advances of technology and exponential growth in Internet use.

Rise of The E-Patient

Pew Research Center’s survey1 revealed more than 72% of Internet users looked for health information, and 77% of those online health seekers began their session using a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo.  These findings do not necessarily mean that patients are replacing consulting their health issues with a physician, but are adding the Internet as a medium to be more educated and informed.

In fact, the Inspire Inaugural Annual Survey2 of 13,000+ patients found that 55% of the patients are well prepared for their doctor’s appointment, 52% of the time patients are largely responsible for initiating new treatment discussions (89% ask about other treatment options at least once a year), and when it comes to making the treatment decision, about 70% of patients said it was a collaborative effort with their physicians.  While some other data have suggested growth impediments in the area of mobile technologies (older age group) and financial barriers, the trend is clear, patients are actively participating in their medical care journey via electronic communication tools.  They are researching molecular diagnostics of diseases, exploring treatment options, and sharing irrecoverable and unequivocal sentiments with others like them.

Many patients want information from multiple sources–even from industry.

When an Inspire member with rheumatoid arthritis was asked about her thoughts on DTC, she replied:

“I do not mind if they advertise because I think it is better to know what all is available and know the possible side effects.”

Every day stories are being shared that feature the various dimensions of the “E” from the phrase “E-patient” – Empowered, equipped, engaged, enabled, emancipated, equal, and experts. With the patient now being in the center, marketers now must be able to comprehend the vast network of digital information that contains what patients are thinking, feeling, saying, and discussing.

Patient-Centric Social Media for Pharmaceutical Marketing

Social media can be largely defined as a collective of web-based applications or websites that allow people to engage with one another through the creation and exchange of contents, which range from text, photos, videos, and other types of User-Generated Content (UGC).

Aside from the mainstream sites like Facebook and Twitter, hundreds of other interest-specific social media sites, such as Yelp, Vine, or Periscope, are being used.  This exponential growth and adoption of social media as a daily routine has led to a data explosion: every 2 days we are generating more data than all the data combined up until 2003.  The data never sleeps, and for every minute, there are 300 hours of new video uploaded to YouTube, 77,160 hours of videos streamed on Netflix, 347,222 tweets, and more than 4 million Facebook posts.

Most patients begin their journey by inputting their query into a search engine, and throughout the journey they are most likely to return to the search engine and ask other questions. All of the main stream social media sites are not patient-based, and most of the patients do not want to engage as a patient on these networks. Patients want to connect with others who understands what they are going through and can relate to their experiences. Over the last decade, several patient-based social networks that provide such environment have emerged and are growing rapidly, with Inspire as the nation’s largest (over 900,000 members at the time of this publication, and you can see what patients are querying about on this free real-time social listening tool – Many pharma brands have begun partnering with companies like Inspire to better understand the patient experience and provide intelligence to the brand, market research, digital, and commercial team. Here are the top five consumer-based tools that marketer can leverage from patient-centric social media sites (by way of targeted surveys or UGC analysis) to build a humanized, patient-centric brand strategy:

1.  Persona Development:

These are fictional representations of the patient customer archetypes that provides a model point-of-reference of who they are, what they do, and what motivates or causes them to engage with your brand (or not to). Not only this is critical to brand planning, but it can be synthesized into documents that can shared across the organization such as sales, marketing, or customer service. As discussed earlier, many patient archetypes are becoming empowered and are actively seeking for information. This is especially true for patients who are seriously ill, as referenced by an Inspire member below when prompted about DTC ads, the person responded:

“I would support and provide any information to any drug company able to provide me with any information on any new drug that could help me with my quality of life. Which at this point is not much of a life.”

2. Patient Journey and Content Mapping

Patient experience map like this one3 can offer tremendous insights to developing the right content at the right time point for the right patient. Different challenges and pain points arise throughout the patient’s lifecycle (and for many there’s no cure or high reoccurrences). For instance, when an Inspire member was asked about the practicality of talking to your doctor about a potential drug, she shared:

“what good is it for me to suggest a drug to my doctor, if he knows nothing about it?”

No comment yet.

Big Pharma And Social Media: How To Avoid Trouble With The FDA


Pharmaceutical companies can use social media to engage and educate patients as well as to provide reliable information about their products. But how do companies tap social media without running afoul of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and various regulatory requirements? To find out, I asked Colleen Tracy James. James is a partner in Mayer Brown’s New York office, where she is a member of the firm’s Intellectual Property practice and Life Sciences group.

Belbey: What are the challenges facing pharmaceutical firms when using social media?

James: The internet is the Wild Wild West. We are still figuring out how to maneuver and make sure information is reliable and trustworthy. This is especially important when it comes to pharmaceutical products because it impacts our health and well-being. Pharmaceutical companies face a lot of challenges on social media, such as how to handle incomplete and misinformation about their products. We all remember the famous Kim Kardashian Instagram post where she touted the benefit of a drug that treats morning sickness, but she did not disclose any of the side effects. According to the FDA Guidance, when you use social media, you need to include the ‘good, bad and the ugly' about your product. Your social media posts need to be fair and balanced.

Belbey: How can pharmaceutical companies control the message and the information?

James: One way to control the message is to create what the industry calls a “controlled environment” such as creating a company webpage for a drug or disease. In this way, firms can make sure information is accurate and complete. That keeps them in line with the FDA regulations. That’s very different from third party information, where the company does not have control over how its product are discussed.


Belbey: Can firms use controlled environments and social media to correct misinformation?

James: Yes. If patients are talking to each other and sharing a misconception of your product, you may want to, as a company, respond to that. You may decide to allow certain employees in the corporation to engage with potential consumers on social media and to answer questions. Or you could provide a chat room as part of your own platform. In that case, your obligation to correct misinformation may be heightened because now you have control of that website.

Belbey: How can pharmaceutical firms use Twitter?

James: Twitter is one of the areas where we’ve seen some specific guidance from the FDA. Due to its character limitations, the FDA is concerned that if you don’t have enough space, you can’t provide a fair and balanced (benefits and downsides) view of your drug. Pharmaceutical companies face serious penalties by the FDA if they don’t make the proper disclosures --  something that pharmaceutical companies want to avoid. If you are responsible for disseminating misinformation about your drug, and the wrong person takes it because he or she wasn’t aware of the contraindications or the side effects, the pharmaceutical companies open themselves up for liability. In short, pharmaceutical companies must be careful not to mislead consumers on Twitter.


Belbey: Given that there are real risks associated with not complying with advertising rules and regulations, how should firms move forward safely?

James: Pharmaceutical firms should develop clear and decisive social media advertising policies. First, they need to figure out which platforms they will use, how they will control their messages, whether they’re going to allow chat rooms, and how to manage comments from patients who want a dialog. If interactivity is permitted, companies need to clearly define which employees may interact with consumers, patients and doctors on social media. The firm also needs a content strategy, so that responses are in compliance with what the FDA has approved the pharmaceutical company may say about their product. You also may need a team of legal advisers to confirm that content about your product is okay to put on social media. Pharmaceutical companies must be careful that employees don’t provide people with wrong information when responding on social media. For example, you can’t say, “This medication is for a headache but you can also take it for something else that’s not a headache.” That would be a violation, historically speaking, as firms are not allowed to market their drugs’ off-label uses or mention off-label uses. And finally, I also suggest that companies have a compliance officer tasked with making sure there’s a policy in place and it’s being complied with and updated with evolving FDA guidance.

Since the FDA was created, we’ve gone from radio to TV and to now social media. Just like the past when industry adapted to new forms of communications, pharmaceutical companies are now figuring out how to advertise and communicate using the latest media within the regulatory framework.

Contributor’s notes: For more information, read “5 Social Media Pitfalls In The Pharmaceutical Industry” by Henniger Bullock and Colleen Tracy James, Mayer Brown LLP.

Here is guidance from the FDA pertaining to advertising and social media for your convenience:

Medical Product Communications That Are Consistent With the FDA-Required Labeling — Questions and Answers (Draft Jan 2017)

No comment yet.

Social media and people with HIV. Results from an Italian survey


As it is evident from the literature, the use of Internet, particularly Web 2.0 in healthcare, is now under debate. Mainly, in Italy there is a shortage of spe…
No comment yet.

Examining Physician Use of Social Media in 2017


In 2016, a Pew Research Center survey found that two-thirds of people worldwide used the Internet.1 With its broad reach and diversity of users and content producers, the Internet offers unique opportunities for individuals to inform, connect, and collaborate across the globe.

As technology has made social media more accessible, the popularity of online social interaction has grown. For example, a recent survey found that 68% of all adults in the U.S. are Facebook users.2

Global social networks and special interest forums have become gathering places for individuals from all walks of life to share and discuss ideas.

How are physicians using the Internet and social media in 2017?

Exact numbers vary, but most studies indicate that Internet usage by physicians now exceeds 80%.3 Physicians use social media for personal interactions as well as professional communication and research.

Social media usage by participants falls into three broad content categories: Creation, curation, and consumption. The breakdown of that usage follows a 1-9-90 pattern.

Approximately 1% of healthcare professionals using social media are content producers, creating and publishing original content. These physicians are creating blogs, forums, and information-sharing websites that provide information to ePatients and other healthcare professionals.

Another 9% engage with others on social media by commenting on posts and participating in group discussions or online chats. Content curation activities include identifying and sharing useful information or links with followers or other members of an online community.

Finally, 90% of physicians are social media consumers. These individuals use the Internet and social media to find and read relevant information related to their patients and practice.

Using online resources, physicians can access medical news and updates, clinical and diagnostic tools, drug databases, patient information, and more.4

How can physicians further leverage social media to communicate and interact with patients and peers?

Physicians can join the social media conversation by sharing useful information with their social network.

Using tools such as Twitter’s hashtag ontology makes it easy for physicians, researchers, and patients to find relevant content and discussions. These hashtags allow web users to locate content by category and tag their own relevant content so that it can be located by others.

Other methods of participating include joining disease- or condition-specific online forums or Facebook groups and answering questions on platforms such as Quora. Participation in online Twitter chats or Facebook Live streaming presentations allow physicians to interact in real time with peers and the public.

Physicians can also become content producers, creating original content to share with the broader Internet community.

What are the benefits of having a social media presence for physicians?

Social media provides a fertile ground for physicians who seek new learning and networking opportunities. Physicians can access millions of scientific journal articles using online portals.5 Webinars and video streaming provide further access to a growing global knowledge base.

Additionally, many physicians report that peer-to-peer interaction is one of the greatest benefits of social media. Physicians participating in social media exchanges report that they learn about evidence-based research and discuss new medical guidelines using Twitter and other social media platforms.6

When medical professionals share and discuss information from these resources, their knowledge base, and that of their peers, grows.

Being online also creates new avenues for physicians to network and gain name recognition. Author Dr. Stiegler notes that physicians in academia can bolster recognition of their work and name by making social media connections.

Physicians in search of speaking or teaching opportunities can use social media to connect with and demonstrate their knowledge to decision makers.

Finally, maintaining an active social media presence creates an online biography of sorts. Managing one’s online reputation is essential as patients now turn to the Internet for information before choosing a doctor.

What are some of the reasons physicians give for not using social media?

As the research indicates, most physicians have joined the conversation online at some level. Nonetheless, concerns remain in the healthcare community. Foremost among these concerns are the physician’s ethical and legal obligations.

Because a misstatement on social media can spread quickly through social sharing, some physicians are reluctant to share information or opinions online. They may also avoid statements that appear to provide a diagnosis due to professional ethics standards.7

Additionally, privacy rules loom particularly large as a reason why physicians are cautious about engaging with individual patients.

Supplementing these legal and ethical concerns are issues of logistics. Time is a precious commodity, and online interaction requires a time commitment.

Writing skills are also a concern for some physicians.8 While very knowledgeable in their fields, many physicians have no formal training in expository writing. These physicians may feel uncomfortable creating and sharing original content.

The Future of Social Media for Physicians and Patients

After weighing the benefits of increased social media engagement against the risks, more physicians are deciding to log on and connect.

With an increased use of digital medical records, personal virtual assistants, and wearable devices, we expect to see new and innovative ways for physicians and patients to interact through social media in the years to come. As this growth continues, new platforms and apps will develop to facilitate interactions and help more physicians become active social media participants.


1. Pew Research Center, Smartphone Ownership and Usage Continues to Climb in Emerging Economies, February 22, 2016.

2. Pew Research Center, Social Media Update 2016, November 11, 2016.

3. referralMD, 30 Amazing Mobile Health Technology Statistics for Today’s Physician, 2017; See also, 2015 HIMSS Mobile Technology Survey, April 2015.

4. referralMD, 30 Amazing Mobile Health Technology Statistics for Today’s Physician, 2017.

5. Paul Hitlin, Health issues topped the list of scientific studies reaching wide audience in 2016, December 28, 2016.

6. Lauren Campbell, Yolanda Evans, Megan Pumper, and Megan A. Moreno, Social Media Use by Physicians’ Qualitative Study, July 2016.

7. MMS Physicians’ Guide to Social Media, March 2016.

8. Lauren Campbell, Yolanda Evans, Megan Pumper and Megan A. Moreno, Social Media Use by Physicians’ Qualitative Study, July 2016.

No comment yet.