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Using Social Media More Effectively at Your Practice

Using Social Media More Effectively at Your Practice | health |

Social media has changed how we interact and communicate with each other. It is increasingly being used by physicians and hospitals to provide users with access to credible, science-based health information regarding the needs of healthcare consumers — when, where and how users want it. There are plenty of social media tools that can be used to reinforce and personalize messages, reach and target new audiences, and build a communication infrastructure based on open and transparent information exchange.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), social media and other emerging communication technologies can connect millions of voices to:

• Increase the timely dissemination and potential impact of health and safety information

• Leverage audience networks to facilitate information sharing

• Expand reach to include broader, more diverse audiences

• Personalize and reinforce health messages that can be more easily tailored or targeted to particular audiences

• Facilitate interactive communication, connection and public engagement

• Empower people to make safer and healthier decisions

Here are three key ways social media channels can be highly effective health communication tools.

Personalization – tailoring of content to individual needs

Healthcare consumers are increasingly becoming health literate and making informed decisions. The content posted on social media channels should be tailored to the needs of online health information consumers. An effective communication from physicians informs, influences, and motivates patients to make better health decisions to improve their quality of life. The information that you post on any social media site should be written in simple and informal language so that readers are able to connect with it. Postings should be scientifically accurate, unbiased, and timely.

Presentation – make content accessible in multiple formats and contexts

Content is more than text. Any post you make on social media channels should be informative as well as user-engaging at the same time. As they say, variety is the spice of life. Think outside the box and include images, infographics, e-books, newsletters, and videos to attract more readers. Understand the need of your patients and deliver content in creative formats. Give them an experience that no other competitor is offering and they will differentiate your brand among others and they will definitely want to engage it.

Participation – partners and the public who contribute content in meaningful ways

Social media is most effective when interactive. Social media tools can be successfully used in emergency response, major campaigns, and other health communication, promotion and media efforts. Hospitals, healthcare providers, and others across the healthcare value chain can use social media as an effective online communication strategy to build and implement education and wellness programs, crisis communication, employee and volunteer recruitment, peer-to-peer information sharing, clinical trial recruitment and other research. As with other industries, healthcare can harness the power of social media for public relations and online marketing.

The influence of social media is growing by each passing day and is definitely generating a profound impact on society. Set realistic goals and make strategic social media choices based on your goals, objectives, target audience, and the key messages you want to get across.

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Social media: The evolving impact on clinical trials

Social media: The evolving impact on clinical trials | health |

Social media represents both opportunities and threats for clinical trials. On the positive side, social media interactions can build engagement and satisfaction among trial participants, allowing them to share experiences and be part of a community where their contributions are recognized. Before a study, social media can boost study recruitment, for example, Novartis used a Twitter feed to boost awareness of a phase 2 trial involving stomatitis and breast cancer, and others have used text messaging. 

For individuals interested in participating in phase 1 trials, provides links to commercial sites, including details about factors such the quality of the Wi-Fi and food, and the speed of payment, enabling participants to be ‘informed shoppers.’ and Yelp also post reviews of facilities that conduct clinical trials. Many sponsors are comfortable with and benefit from these types of pre-trial social media interactions, which have been taking place for several years.

Online, real-time sharing of study experiences

A less positive trend is for clinical trial participants to talk about their experience during a study through Twitter feeds or other social channels. Patients have posted structured data on efficacy and safety on an investigational drug to public and social websites. has communities for people with various diseases and conditions. In one example, people with hepatitis C self-identified as being involved in a particular trial, and then posted discussions aimed at identifying who was receiving active drug, and who was receiving placebo – including postings ofphotos of the medication involved. Sample threads involving communication between subjects included:

 “… And my pills are very bitter and nasty tasting. I’ve also cross referenced my taste experiences with others who I know are getting the (study drug) and we all agree on the flavor…”“… If you can suck it without gagging and it tastes vaguely neutral then it's the placebo.”“….can you describe your pills in more detail? Like a more complete description of what they look like, how they react when they get wet, what their texture is, how long do they last in the mouth after being swished around, and a more complete description of the taste.”

Discussions may also center on side effects, with community members – who use pseudonyms or avatars, making follow-up by the trial sponsor impossible – advising others to stop taking the study medication. Threads have also included discussion about how and when to get certain lab tests outside of the study to determine whether subjects were receiving placebo, so that they could drop out of study if not on the investigational agent.

Discussions also appear in forums such as Yahoo! Chat, reflecting the fact that study participants may purchase stock in the company making promising new products, and financial analysts may be interested in predicting likely outcomes from trials to tailor their buy/hold/sell recommendations for investors, based on information that is not yet public., a for-profit company, also has disease-related communities. Trial participants are sometimes asked to rate their experiences with various treatment regimens that are in clinical trials. There is also the website, ‘waiting for p<0.05,’ which has done analyses of data reported by self-identified trial participants, also in an attempt to predict trial outcomes.

Concerns about patient safety and bias

This trend is causing concern among sponsors, investigators and CROs, primarily due to the risks to patient safety and safety reporting, the possibility that patients may discuss adverse events online but not inform Principal Investigators, and also because of potential for bias. Data may be aggregated in attempt to predict outcome of trials still underway, with non-subjects publishing conclusions about results while the study was still ongoing (e.g., “10/20 subjects report online that they have responded, response rate is 50%...”)

This issue was highlighted in a Wall Street Journal article, ‘Researchers Fret as Social Media Lift Veil on Drug Trials: Online Chatter Could Unravel Carefully Built Construct of 'Blind' Clinical Trials.’ “On Facebook groups, online forums and blogs, some patients are effectively jeopardizing the blind. In trials for hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis and ALS…patients have been sharing details of their reactions and trying to figure out whether they are getting the active drug. Patients also swap tips on how to get accepted into trials, even if they don't meet all the requirements. Some who are in trials collect and analyze their medical data and others' to get an early indication of whether a drug will be a success.”  The newspaper quotes Craig H. Lipset, head of clinical innovation at Pfizer as saying patients who share too much "could effectively chill a new drug before it ever gets to patients by misinterpreting early signals." In an opinion piece in Nature Medicine, Lipset asserted that “clinical trial sponsors must work with regulators to define pathways to monitor social media use by trial participants to understand if conversations on the internet will affect their interpretation of study results.”

The future: A case-by-case ‘risk calculator’

Looking ahead, decisions on how to proof trials as far as possible to these potential negative impacts will have to be made on a case-by-case basis. Sponsors might develop an informal ‘risk calculator’ to assess the chance of negative impacts from social media in a particular trial. This would reflect the fact that that not all indications, patient populations and protocols bear the same risk. Factors to consider might be whether the disease involved has an active advocacy group, or is a rare disease, both of which may predispose participants to online data sharing. In these cases, sponsors might consider creating specific chat-rooms that are moderated, allowing erroneous or inappropriate content to be removed. A request for patients only to disclose their trial experiences to immediate friends and family could also be included in the informed consent form. In contrast, diseases such as osteoporosis – where the patient population is typically elderly, with a limited online presence and no strong advocacy organization – might pose a lower threat of online data sharing and associated risks involving patient safety and bias.

Similarly, trials with entirely objective study endpoints will likely not be affected by online discussions, while those with subjective outcomes (such as pain in migraine) could potentially see a significant impact on outcomes. The size of the study is also a key factor: one with several thousand participants may be diffuse and diverse enough for communication to have little impact. In a 12-person study, in contrast, one participant who posts online about a negative experience may have a significant impact on both the study outcomes and the ability of the study to recruit additional patients.

Educating participants about the potential impacts of their online communications will be important. A website, Smart Talking About Clinical Studies, developed by the Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP) with support from Shire, highlights the risks of sharing clinical trial experiences online. The website notes “the surprising effects of words” on the outcome of clinical studies, illustrating the potential impact of discussing eligibility criteria, sharing side-effect information, and the placebo effect. Messaging includes the fact that clinical studies “help us develop new medicines. And if you join one, you might want to tell friends, family and people online about it. That’s great. Why? Because clinical studies need volunteers and telling them will help get people more involved. But words are powerful – so powerful they can change:

How someone feels (e.g., their health)The results of a studyThe future of the medicine being testedWhat someone thinks about clinical studies."

In future, social media use among clinical trial participants is likely to increase. Sponsors and researchers need to be prepared to address participants’ questions, encourage clear ongoing communication with clinical sites, and be aware of any potential impact of social media participation on study conduct and outcomes.

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10 Google Chrome Extensions that will simply Change your Life

10 Google Chrome Extensions that will simply Change your Life | health |
Want to block all Star Wars-related spoilers? There's an extension for that.

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Is Farmed Salmon Really Salmon? - Issue 30: Identity - Nautilus

Is Farmed Salmon Really Salmon? - Issue 30: Identity - Nautilus | health |
The fish market has become the site of an ontological crisis. Detailed labels inform us where each fillet is from or how it was caught or whether it was farmed or wild-caught. Although we can now tell the farmed salmon from the wild, the degree of differences or similarities between the two defies straightforward labels. When a fish—or any animal—is removed from its wild habitat and domesticated over generations for human consumption, it changes—both the fish and our perception of it. The farmed and wild both say “salmon” on their labels, but are they both equally “salmon?” When does the label no longer apply?

This crisis of identity is ours to sort out; not the fish’s. For us, the salmon is an icon of the wild, braving thousand-mile treks through rivers and oceans, leaping up waterfalls to spawn or be caught in the clutches of a grizzly bear. The name “salmon” is likely derived from the Latin word, “salire,” to leap. But it’s a long way from a leaping wild salmon to schools of fish swimming in circles in dockside pens. Most of the salmon we eat today don’t leap and don’t migrate.

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The Healthcare Social Media Shakeup

The Healthcare Social Media Shakeup | health |
Hospitals, clinical practices and physicians of all ages are becoming more and more active on social media.

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June Rumiko Klein's curator insight, September 4, 2015 1:35 PM

Non-profits will need to become more tech friendly if they want to engage young people and professionals.

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Social Media Trends For Healthcare Marketing

Social Media Trends For Healthcare Marketing | health |

Each year for the past seven years Social Media Examiner has released its Social Media Marketing Industry Report. The report provides valuable insights into emerging trends in social media marketing. This week, we will explore three of those key trends and how they might be leveraged for your healthcare marketing.

Key Trend #1 Facebook Dominates




Social Media Examiner is not the only report to reveal the dominance of Facebook - the most recentPew Internet Social Media Update found that 71% of all internet users are on Facebook. 


Tip: Just because Facebook dominates social platforms, this does not mean you should be on it. It’s important to establish if your audience are in fact there, before putting all your efforts into Facebook marketing.

It’s interesting to note that despite the dominance of Facebook, most marketers report that they don’t know whether their Facebook outreach is actually working.



Thirty-five percent of marketers have no idea whether their Facebook efforts are effective.

Take Action: If you want to know how effective your Facebook marketing is, consider running a Facebook Ad Campaign which will help you clarify your goals and measure your results.  

Key Trend #2 Blogging and Visual Assets Most Important Content Marketing Strategies


As can be seen from this chart, blogging and the use of visual assets are almost neck and neck in terms of importance to marketers.

Take Action: Get visual with your social media. Read this article to learn how. Not sure what to blog about? Here are 25 ideas to try today. 

Key Trend #3 Time Spent On Social Media Is Increasing


Anyone can do social media, but to do it right takes time. 25% of survey respondents report spending 6-10 hours each week. For many of us that figure is even higher.

Take Action: Make more efficient use of your time with these social media management tools. 



It is encouraging to see the key benefits of social media realized in this report. From increased web traffic to enhanced customer service and market-place insight, there is no doubt that social media has an important role to play in healthcare marketing. That trend is set to continue and as marketers we must regularly ask ourselves "Are we keeping up?"

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Before You Hit Publish, Here Are 10 Things To Do With Your Blog Content - #infographic

Before You Hit Publish, Here Are 10 Things To Do With Your Blog Content - #infographic | health |
Do you want to make sure that the post you just wrote will get the right kind of attention? Here are 10 things you ought to do before hitting publish.

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Marco Favero's curator insight, May 25, 2015 5:22 AM

aggiungi la tua intuizione ...

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A New Mobile Model of Medical Research

A New Mobile Model of Medical Research | health |
Learn more about Apple's new ResearchKit, which could lower the cost of clinical research trials while also making them easier to conduct.

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Dr. Mark Merolli -'s curator insight, April 1, 2015 6:03 PM

Read about what Apple's ResearchKit could mean for health research

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Mobile health increases patient engagement

Mobile health increases patient engagement | health |

Digital technology is in the early stages when it comes to "safety net" deployments, but such tools pose tremendous promise and potential in engaging patients in healthcare management, according to new Commonwealth Fund research.


Key factors for strong adoption down the line include technical support for integration and device management, evidence-based models illustrating the potential of successful use in care delivery, and payment and reimbursement policies, the report says.


The report is based on data collected from an online survey of urban and rural community health centers and clinics, representing insight from 181 organizations.

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Healthcare Social Media - Using Images to enhance effect

Healthcare Social Media - Using Images to enhance effect | health |

21 Ways To Capitalize On Visuals in Healthcare

1. Use images with a Creative Commons license

Don't be tempted to use an image you have sourced from a Google search unless the image is licensed "Creative Commons". A random image search on Google will usually result in images that are copyrighted and not free to use. Instead search the Creative Commons section of Flickr for an appropriate image. Using a tool like Compfight, a free Flickr search tool, will makes image sourcing easier.

2. Use stock images sparingly

Another option is to purchase a royalty free image from a stock image source like Shutterstock.  Be mindful that this may result in you purchasing an over-used "cheesy" image, so use this option sparingly.

3. Create your own images 

Finding the right image can sometimes be challenging, so why not create your own?  There are many free tools avaiable to help you such as Canva and PicMonkey.

4. Build up a photo library

Use your own photographs to build up a library of images you can use freely. Images of people are the most memorable but do make sure you have their permission to use their picture. Showcase your product in action. 

5. Add relevant images to blog posts

Add an image to every single blog post you write. Use images to break up the tedium of text; images make it more likely your reader will read to the end of your blog post.

6. Optimize your images for Google search

Optimize your images for Google search by writing an image caption and adding relevant keywords to the file names that describe the content of the image.

7. Add text to your images

Adding text to your image helps personalize your message and makes it stand out. You can effortlessly add text with Canva or PicMonkey (two of my favorite image tools).

8. Use screenshots to explain a concept 

Get creative with your screenshots by using a tool like Awesome Screenshot which allows you to speedily add graphic elements right there in the tool. 

9. Turn your screenshots into video

Using a tool like Screencastify you can turn your screenshots into video tutorials which you can upload to YouTube. 

10. Add your presentations to SlideShare

Turn your presentations into shareable slide-decks using SlideShare. Make sure you enhance your presentation with visually striking images. 

11. Create infographics

Infographics are great tools for healthcare providers to present complex information, educate patients, and brand and market a healthcare service in a creative and visually attractive way (the Cleveland Clinic makes great use of infographics).  In terms of social media marketing, they are an effective way of spreading information (the “viral” process) across multiple social networking sites.  If you are serious about using infographics to inform and educate your patients or market your brand, it’s best to hire a specialist infographic designer. But, if you just want to have some fun and test your design skills, there are several free tools available to help you do so. Piktochart is a good tool to start with. 

12. Make a meme

A meme is an image, video, or piece of text, typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations. You can make your own meme with However do use with caution, as humor in healthcare can be misconstrued. 

13. Visualize your data 

Use a tool like to create impressive graphics to share. Check out this stunning data visualization of Health Datapalooza by Symplur. 

14. Create visual word clouds

Wordle is a great tool for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. 

15. Set up a Pinterest account

If you haven’t yet dipped your toe into Pinterest waters, take some time to explore the creative ways it is currently used by NGOs, hospitals, healthcare professionals and pharma.  Creating boards of interest that highlight your knowledge allows you to build a personal brand and company people can relate to.

16. Create "pinnable" images

Pinterest is an effective way to share your blog posts with a wider audience, so make sure your blog images are easy to “pin” to Pinterest. Even if you aren’t active on Pinterest yourself, many people who read your blog are, and may pin your blog post to one of their Pinterest boards.

17. Promote your medical practice with Instagram

Instagram is a good way to promote your medical practice and create community through using photos and videos. Instagram post engagement is up 416% over the last two years.  Use Instagram to share photos of your conferences and events. Host photo contests (for example ask people to post their pictures of healthy eating); use a hashtag to link the images.  Check out for an example of a healthcare brand on Instagram.

18. Add an impactful cover image to your Twitter, Facebook and Google+ accounts

Make your profile stand out with an impactful image that humanizes your brand, shows your passion for what you do, or showcases your product in an eye-catching way. Canva is a great tool for creating cover photos. 

19. Use the recommended sizes for Twitter and Facebook images

When adding images to Twitter and Facebook, familiarize yourself with the recommended sizes. I find the Social Image Resizer Tool is invaluable for this. It lets you upload your own photos and resize them to set sizes for Facebook, Twitter and Google+, as well as custom sizes and common icon and avatar sizes.

20. Try Twitter video

Twitter has just released a new video feature for its mobile app with the ability to share up to 30 seconds of video (Vine videos are capped at a maximum of six seconds each) - long enough to convey a significant message but short enough to be viewed quickly. Learn more at

21. Curate content on a visual sharing platform

Rebelmouse is a content curation platform with a visually appealing interface. It's an attractive way to showcase your interests. You could also try and

Creating compelling visual content can be a powerful way to connect with your audience.  People connect more emotionally with images than text, and in an increasingly crowded digital landscape, when our minds are attracted more readily to content that draws our eye, images can break through the online content clutter to quickly communicate key healthcare messages.


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Communicating the experience of illness in the digital age

Stanford Medicine X 2014 main stage panel discussion with Pamela Ressler, Susannah Fox, Meredith Gould and Colleen Young. Please also consider visiting this ...

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How pharma can create patient loyalty

How pharma can create patient loyalty | health |

Mega Trend #7: In the New Era of Quantified Self, Patients Want Pharma on Their Side

The business case for keeping “the healthy” healthy is undeniable. Consumers can now leverage technology and big data to monitor the state of their health and practice preventive measures. Yet a majority of healthcare resources are still devoted to treating the sick. With the fastest growing global age segment now 85+, “sickcare” is unsustainable.1, 2


There remain many misconceptions among patients over what health conditions individuals can fully control.1 Opportunities to educate and influence the public align with the desire to proactively manage health.

Patients are looking to pharma to provide select patient services, but have been severely underserved. However, those who receive such services place great value on them, and are willing to provide personal health information in order to receive free information and/or services.3 In addition, nearly three-quarters of patients in a recent focus group agreed that social media resources sponsored by, or created by, pharma would motivate them to talk with their doctors about specific pharma products.4

The “5 E’s” hold the key to understanding the dynamics and opportunities of digital engagement with patients5: the Internet is the ENABLER; ECONOMICS are the trigger; patients are EMPOWERED; patients ENGAGE; and patient EXPERIENCE drives the choice.

Consumers expect pharma to engage them in ways in which they are already accustomed. Pharma has tended to try a “one-size-fits-nobody” approach that runs counter to a patient-centric model that supports providers, retailers, payers, and, ultimately, patients.3, 6 Focusing on the individual patient experience – and the subsequent data resulting from this experience – serves the dual purpose of engaging patients and providing the analytics to support product benefit claims.

Making customers “smarter” during the purchase experience builds loyalty and provides differentiation in a crowded marketplace.7 Patient empowerment has replaced “Ask your doctor,” and data-based benefits provide a direct link between pharma and the end user.

Big data and digital health already provide meaningful insights for every stakeholder in the healthcare ecosystem, from linking cost and quality of care to health outcomes, to helping patients more actively manage their own health. The current lack of standardized formats presents a barrier to true, seamless implementation (interoperability), but there is no doubt that patients are more in charge than ever before.8, 9

The trend is a product of an evidence-based research study undertaken by the Pharmaceutical Division in Valtech to map the pharmaceutical landscape of digital mega trends. The research study provides essential insights on how Pharma companies could utilize digital engagement to break down stakeholder barriers, impact stakeholder behaviour and demonstrate more cost-effective outcomes. The research study is based on information from 100+ trusted sources and has resulted in the identification of 14 mega trends.


The Pharma Division in Valtech has developed an analytical framework that can identify the engagement potential of your brand. The analysis will provide you with answers to the following questions:

WHY should your product or therapeutic area have a relevant presence in a digital context?WHO should your digital value proposition appeal to/engage and for what reasons?WHAT changes in the stakeholder’s awareness/behaviour should the digital engagement enable?WHEN during the patient pathway should the digital engagement take place?WHERE – in which healthcare environment/context – should the digital engagement take place?HOW should digital engagement be optimized via the utilization of state of the art digital assets?What metrics should be implemented to measure IF digital engagement is successful?

Please contact Senior Digital Pharma Advisor Rasmus Rask for further advice or to set up an informal meeting.

If you want to read more about Mega Trend #7 you can download more information on

Stay tuned for the upcoming blog post on Mega Trend #8: Achieving Long-term, Sustainable Growth Starts With Meeting Patient Expectations. And make sure you did not miss the previous blog posts on pharmaceutical mega trends:

Mega Trend #1: Pharmaceutical CEOs Lack Confidence to Act
Mega Trend #2: Transforming to a Digital Business: A Fundamental Paradigm Shift
Mega Trend #3: The “Trust” Gap: Leveraging Digital to Reconnect with Stakeholders
Mega Trend #4: Reinventing the Marketing Function for a Digital Environment
Mega Trend #5: Follow the 20-20-20 Rule for Digital Budgets
Mega Trend #6: Big Data, Mobile and Social Create a More Level Playing Field; Pharma is Slow to Respond

1. Havas. (2012) My Body, Myself, Our Problem: Health and Wellness in Modern Times.
2. Vertic healthcare. Mads Krogh Petersen (2014). Are You Pre-disease or Healthy?
3. Accenture. Shawn D. Roman et. al. (2014). Great Expectations: Why Pharma Companies Can’t Ignore Patient Services.
4. Medical Marketing and Media. Ross Fetterolf et. al. (December 2013). Should pharma abandon social media?
5. UCB. Lode Dewulf. (2014). The era of patient-centricity: Fashion or future?
6. Booz and Co. Ken Favaro et. al. (2014). Biopharma in 2014: Growth Is Back on the Agenda.
7. Merck. Tyrone Edwards. (2014).Understand the direct link between client satisfaction and business performance- do we have the right sales model to deliver value in pharma?
8. IBM.Heather Fraser et. al. (September 2013). Analytics across the ecosystem. A prescription for optimizing healthcare outcomes.
9. Juice pharma. Ben Putman. (2014). Top 5 Health 2.0 Trends for Pharma 2014.


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Insights into the online hospital appointment process

Insights into the online hospital appointment process | health |

Before making an appointment, patients invest a lot of time and consideration into their research. According to a 2012 Google Hospital Study, 84% of patients use both online and offline sources for health information research before making an appointment.


48% of patients took over 2 weeks to research before booking61% of patients visited 2, or more, hospital sites before converting

Online plays a significant role in the research process before a prospective patient makes an appointment

For those patients who converted and booked appointments, digital content is key to their decision-making. 83 percent of patients visited a hospital website before converting.

Patients investigated the above content before making an appointment

1 in 5 patients is now booking appointments with their doctors through non-traditional means

21% of patients are now booking via computer or mobile app23% of patients are booking in person56% of patients call on phone to make an appointment with their physician


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State of Digital Health Innovation 2016: Wave 1 Study Results

A new global study reveals that only five percent of health organizations excel at digital innovation. Read the report to learn why and what you can do about i…

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Young people turn to social media for advice on managing health conditions

Young people turn to social media for advice on managing health conditions | health |

Social media is now a key source of information for many young adults with chronic health conditions, a new study conducted by University of Glasgow researchers has found.


Their paper published today in Health Expectations journal, examines the role of social media in young people's experiences of seeking out health information online.

While it is known that 'googling' information is common practice for many people with a health concern, often before consulting a GP or nurse, someyoung adults now also view the internet and information shared via their social media networks as a place to turn when managing their condition.

The study, which interviewed forty young adults aged between 18 and 30 years old with experience of diabetes or common mental health issues (such as depression or anxiety), found that the consumption of health-related content through social media channels such as Facebook and online forums supported their knowledge and understanding of their condition.

Dr. Gillian Fergie, from the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow's Institute of Health and Wellbeing, said: "In this study young adults simply took for granted that 'going online' would be the primary means of accessing health-related information. While previous research has highlighted search engines as the primary gatekeeper to relevant health information, what this study noted was that now many young adults also use links and recommendations from within their social networks too.

"They discussed how they actively and effortlessly negotiate between professionally produced content such as official leaflets or medical guidelines, and online user-generated content which might include personal accounts. Many said they used social media to draw on other people's experiences of a similar illness and inform their own health management strategies."

Young adults with diabetes or experience of mental health issues were interviewed because of the ongoing nature of their health issues and the likelihood of them continuously seeking health information online and through social media.

The study participants described looking up health information online for a number of reasons, including fact-finding. However for many of the young adults who took part in the study, searching for online health information was also a means of feeling less isolated and finding emotional support from people who were dealing with the same, or similar, health issues.

Speaking about their experiences:

One young woman experiencing depression commented: "I started to feel like, 'well, maybe it is depression' and I did Google it – the usual stuff, and I thought, 'yeah, this must be it'".One young woman with diabetes said: "The organisations, they're not the people who are actually dealing with diabetes on a day-to-day basis, the burden of having it so I think these diabetes Facebook pages, they're good… for just knowing that there are other people that have the same condition."One young man experiencing anxiety commented: "When I've been feeling down I've Googled "other people feeling down", just to see what they're dealing with… I don't want to know their problem; I just like to know that you're not the only person that feels that way. It's nice to know that people understand, you know, how it can beat you."

The study, 'Young adults' experiences of seeking online information about diabetes and mental health in the age of social media', is published in Health Expectations and was funded by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC).


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Adapting boundaries between doctor and patient in the age of social media


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In a time when almost everyone shares almost everything, the question of boundaries between a doctor and patient is thornier than ever.

Beyond the obvious no-go areas of sex and abuse, the relationship can be fraught. How do you reply to the chatty doctor who name-drops other patients—including your co-workers? Can you invite your dermatologist to dinner?

Doctors are divided on how strict the boundaries should be. Some have firm rules against socializing with patients or revealing personal details about their own lives. Others say a closer relationship can build trust and make it more likely patients will follow medical advice. The growth of social media complicates things, too, especially as a generational shift means young digital natives are entering the medical profession.

Before, “you would see your patients in the hospital, or you’d see them in your clinic or, maybe, at a party,” says Sigal Klipstein, the chair of the ethics committee at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Now you can reach out to your patient and your patient can reach out to you in a lot more pathways.” Dr. Klipstein doesn't accept Facebook requests from patients on her personal page. And while she’s sometimes invited to christenings for patients’ babies, she doesn't attend.

Wayne J. Riley, president of the American College of Physicians, says doctors should “adopt a posture of warm detachment,” with their patients

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27 surprising stats how social media is changing healthcare

27 surprising stats how social media is changing healthcare | health |

Healthcare is a heavy regulated industry so many healthcare organizations avoid the use of social media. But patients, healthcare professionals and hospitals don’t.

Consumers use social media to research and to make health decisions. Patients consider themselves part of a tribe trusting others on social media more than other sources. Physicians use social media to network professionally with colleagues and peers and participate in forums, sharing medical knowledge within their community.

Social media is a platform where the public, patients and healthcare professionals can communicate about health issues and possibly improve health outcomes.

Here are 27 surprising stats how social media is changing healthcare.

90% of Millennials say they would trust medical information shared by others on their social media networks (source: Search Engine Watch)81% of hospitals said service lines expressed an interest in participating in the hospital’s social media strategy (source: AFIA)66% of doctors use social media for professional purposes, often preferring an open forum as opposed to a physician-only online community (source: EMR Thoughts)60% of doctors say social media improves the quality of care delivered to patients (source: Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group)60% of consumers say they trust doctors’ posts versus 36% who trust posts from a pharma firm (source: MDDI)60% of physicians most popular activities on social are following what colleagues are sharing and discussing (source: Health Care Communication)54% of patients are very comfortable with their providers seeking advice from online communities to better treat their conditions (source: Mediabistro)50% of healthcare apps available to consumers can be downloaded for free and are produced by a variety of types of developer (source: IMS Institute)49% of those polled expect to hear from their doctor when requesting an appointment or follow-up discussion via social media within a few hours. (source:HealthCare Finance News)41% of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility (source: Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group)40% of people polled said information found on social media affects how someone coped with a chronic condition, their view of diet and exercise and their selection of a physician (source: HealthCare Finance News)40% of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health.(source: Mediabistro)31% of health care professionals use social media for professional networking (source: Mediabistro)31% of health care organizations have specific social media guidelines in writing (source: Institute for Health)30% of adults are likely to share information about their health on social media sites with other patients, 47% with doctors, 43% with hospitals, 38% with a health insurance company and 32% with a drug company. (source: Fluency Media)28% of health-related conversations on Facebook are supporting health-related causes, followed by 27% of people commenting about health experiences or updates (source: Infographics Archive)27% of patients comment or post status updates based on health-related experiences (source: MDDI)26% of all hospitals in the US participate in social media (source: Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group)23% of drug companies have not addressed security and privacy in terms of social media (source: Mediabistro)19% of smartphone owners have at least one health app on their phone. Exercise, diet, and weight apps are the most popular types (source: Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group)12% of apps accounted for 90% of all downloads (source: iMedicalApps)18 to 24 year olds are more than 2x as likely than 45 to 54 year olds to use social media for health-related discussions (source: Mediabistro)YouTube traffic to hospital sites has increased 119% year-over-year (source:Google’s Think Insights)The Mayo Clinic’s podcast listeners rose by 76,000 after the clinic started using social media (source: Infographics Archive)Among the 165,000 health & medical apps now on the market, nearly two thirds are focused on general wellness issues like fitness, lifestyle & stress, and diet. The remainder is made up by apps focused on specific health conditions (9%), medication info & reminders (6%), and women’s health & pregnancy (7%). Mental health apps led among disease specific apps, followed by diabetes (source: iMedicalApps)$392,000,000 is the revenue from mobile healthcare apps in 2015 (source:Northern Kentucky University)Of more than 1,500 hospitals nationwide who have an online presence, Facebook is most popular (source: WHPRMS)

Below are three infographics that also deliver statistics on the impact social media is having on healthcare.

Do these facts align with your healthcare behaviors. Do you believe social media is changing healthcare?


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AAAASF Marketing's curator insight, November 11, 2015 9:28 AM

Do these facts align with your health care behaviors. Do you believe social media is changing health care?

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Understanding Patients' Needs with Social Media Analytics

Understanding Patients' Needs with Social Media Analytics | health |

Among the 50 largest drug makers in the world, more than half still aren’t actively using social media to engage healthcare consumers or patients. Most of them primarily use social media as a broadcasting channel, and no more than 10 are on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.

Even with drug makers’ recent increases in digital spending, the pharmaceutical industry is repeatedly said to be a laggard in adoption of social media.

Drugmakers’ common excuse for remaining social media wallflowers is largely due to the regulatory uncertainty and the doubts on how to measure social ROI.

1/ The rise of the empowered patient

With the role of social media rapidly expanding, patients are increasingly turning to popular social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs and forums obtaining and sharing information related to their health.

In the US, for example, over one third of consumers manage their own health and are using social media to help them make important healthcare decisions.

The consequent empowerment of the patient in making decisions around their treatment has led them to be more aware and have a greater say in the treatment process.

But it’s not just patients who go to social media to voice their opinions. The pharma industry has multiple stakeholders who actively research and discuss online, including patients, physicians, payers, caregivers, providers and advocacy groups.

This trend only heightens the imperative need for pharmaceutical companies and regulators to take notice and contribute to the overall healthcare discussion, particularly to the appropriate use of medicines.

But how do you actually know what physicians are saying about your drug?
Can you identify your patients’ primary concerns about your market leading product?

What are the conversation themes around managing the disease?
How does the online reputation of your brand compare to competitors?
Are patients switching brands and if so, why?

2/ Using social media as a research tool

The most immediate benefit that social media has to offer pharmaceutical companies is as a research tool.

The answers to the questions above require a more proactive embrace of social media analytics tools by pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Social media analytics tools, such as Brandwatch Analytics, can mine not only Twitter but also public forums, blogs, news sites, Facebook and other social networks to uncover patients and physicians’ sentiments and opinions.

One of our clients, Creation Healthcare, did exactly such a thing not too long ago. They indexed half a million healthcare professional profiles across thousands of sites using Brandwatch Analytics to understand how treatments and products are perceived by those who may prescribe them every day.

The online market research consultancy was able to spot healthcare trends and concerns months before others did. Offering unrivaled insight into the views of healthcare professionals, Creation Healthcare’s research business attracted six times more clients than before.

Identifying the opinions of healthcare professionals and patients is, indeed, a complicated process, particularly because of the amount of noise and spam surrounding pharmaceuticals. With boolean operators and rules, you can filter out spammy websites and irrelevant views.

3/ Using social media to foster discussions with your stakeholders

Understanding the kind of people who make up the conversation in your niche can prove far more insightful than listening only to those who mention your product or brand.

In a recent report we analyzed thousands of mentions online using social media analyticsto understand people’s attitude towards HIV treatment and to inform targeted messaging.

Their target audience is often seen as being the healthcare professional. But when analyzing all HIV discussion on social media, it turns out it’s the patients, caregivers and those that actually aren’t directly affected by HIV who offer the most powerful insights.

The general public spoke nearly three times more about HIV treatment than healthcare professionals, suggesting a general interest in the topic and that online influencers may differ from offline.

Diving deeper into this data, we noticed that the different stakeholders are chatting about HIV in entirely different places.

Data like this could dramatically impact how a drug manufacturer develops its communication strategies and targets its messaging.

4/ Building tailored marketing strategies

As shown below, social media analytics can be applied at various stages of a drug lifecycle; right from your drug discovery stage (understanding unmet needs) to the launch (improving your brand messaging) to the maturity stage (monitoring brand reputation and intimately connecting patients and physicians).

Insights generated during each stage can be utilized across all departments in your company.

If you’re still analyzing the conversation about your own brand or products, then now is the time to rethink your social media activities.

While social media is not a panacea, it provides an arguably underused opportunity across the business to research, understand and boost discussions with all healthcare consumers.

There’s no such thing as having a remarkable drug without having tailored strategies to appeal to your own target audience.

Forget the mass market, segment and evaluate healthcare conversations by the different stakeholders. Find out what they are talking about online and how your organization can fit into that.

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Pascal Kerhervé's curator insight, July 29, 2015 9:39 AM

Social media has a rising role in collecting insights to understand the patients' unmet needs or to improve your brand messaging, are you using it?

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Re-thinking doctor-patient communications in the digital age

Re-thinking doctor-patient communications in the digital age | health |

Within business, healthcare and our social lives, email has become a preferred form of communication. Somewhere between the ubiquity of access and habits developed over years of use, we face the risk of entangling our professional and personal correspondence. All too often, users unwittingly leave digital footprints or cross the boundaries of personal and professional communication. Health professionals may find themselves at risk of revealing sensitive information or otherwise breaching duties of privacy or confidentiality.

In recent weeks, the appropriateness of email communication has come under heavy scrutiny as the media revealed that Hillary Clinton exclusively used a personal email account during her tenure as secretary of state. The personal email account was managed “through a private computer server that traced to her home” (Wall Street Journal). The Clinton email debacle parallels some issues we are seeing within healthcare. Moreover, the controversy serves as an opportunity for professionals in all sectors to examine their current communication policies and determine whether the basic requirements for appropriate professional communications are being met.

t can the medical community and Hillary Clinton learn from each other?

In the wake of the incident, Clinton remarked that she regretted not having two separate email accounts, which echoes a conversation within the academic medical community. Some scholars suggest the need for a “dual citizenship” approach within digital space to reflect and separate professional and social personae. This is solid advice for healthcare professionals because the way we communicate through technology is almost seamlessly interwoven into daily routine, and medical providers may not always be mindful of safeguarding patient privacy and confidentiality. Along with their habits, providers also may overestimate their patients’ knowledge of technology and how to mitigate associated privacy risks.

For example, I was recently talking to a physician about a challenging case involving a minor who had tested positive for HIV. The physician mentioned that he was communicating with his patient by email, and I asked him if he discussed the risks of this type of communication or included the conversation in the patient’s health record. He shot me a puzzled look and asked, “Why would I do that?” I didn’t want to state the obvious, but this is the sort of patient communication—a discussion of test results—that should be put into a patient’s chart.

Email provides a novel method for clinicians to maintain unofficial shadow records (a/k/a ghost charts) for patient communication. It’s similar to Hillary Clinton sending emails from her personal email and those records being held within a private server: important information cannot be gleaned from the data, and security and oversight are disregarded in favor of personal control and convenience. For medical providers, important aspects of the patient history might be lost—a problem they already face with the shrinking patient narrative in electronic health records, to the detriment of those in their care.

The problems encountered when communications are placed in patient records rather than shadow records are exacerbated when free services such as Gmail are used because security, confidentiality, and privacy are impossible to safeguard. For example, although users retain ownership to content, Google’s terms of service grant the company a perpetual, worldwide license to material uploaded or transmitted through their systems. Marketing is a common use, and while the physician might move the conversation to email to keep the conversation controlled and “private,” Google can collect data and target ads to the patient based on their correspondence. For this reason and a host of others, these types of services are not appropriate for the transmission of protected health information.

These issues aside, the manner in which we access email also has its associated hazards. Smartphones have become the preferred point of access for the Internet, and website access is greatly overshadowed by apps. Traditionally, weak cybersecurity on the part of hospitals at the institutional level, coupled with an epidemic of poor personal security, means that human error is the biggest threat to protected health information—since 2005, around 38% of disclosures have included lost or stolen devices, accounting for 78% of all reported breaches.

Of the 89 reported breaches affecting 500 individuals or more so far in 2015, 13 had information exposed by email and six by portable electronic devices; one incident alone impacted over 56,000 patients. If mobile devices and networks are not secure, then communications are at risk. These technologies have the ability to transform professional operations and communication; however, they represent a known weak link in enterprise security.

For many reasons, it’s important for healthcare professionals to consider the idea of dual citizenship because it would create a focus on digital communication strategies and push for clearer policies and accountability. Technology has the ability to transform what we do and how we do it; however, the values which guide personal use of technology are quite different from those that should inform clinical practice.

But this is nothing new in the context of medicine. Sir William Osler, known as the Father of Modern Medicine, recognized the pressures that new science and technology impose upon medicine when he wrote, “The old art cannot possibly be replaced by, but must be absorbed in, the new science.” This aphorism is as applicable today as it was when he wrote it over 100 years ago—technological advancement is not a surrogate for professional practice.

Several organizations, such as the AMA and AHIMA, attempt to mitigate these issues by offering guidelines to help healthcare providers better understand the pitfalls of electronic communication, but patients might need the most help. Many patients aren’t aware of the intricacies of provider terms of service, or they may otherwise fail to grasp how their privacy and confidentiality are put at risk. That’s why it’s important for providers and healthcare institutions to understand the nuances of electronic communication and security within the provider-patient relationship, so that patients can be educated and make informed decisions.

Continued dialogue and examination of current communication practices within healthcare are essential for a technologically secure healthcare system. Currently, some healthcare professionals are taking too many unnecessary risks with communication for the sake of efficiency and availability, but it’s clear that in all professional careers, including the highest-ranking diplomat in the United States, we have a way to go to ensure our professional and personal communication interests do not become entangled.

Attorney-ethicist Eric Scott Swirsky, JD, MA, is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Health Informatics program.


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ChemaCepeda's curator insight, June 1, 2015 2:01 PM

El uso de herramientas de comunicación con nuestros pacientes tales como el correo electrónico puede facilitarnos mucho el trabajo. Pero hacerlo sin unas condiciones de seguridad supone suponer riesgos para la privacidad y confidencialidad de la información

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Survey: Top 5 Digital Health Tools for Tech-Savvy Seniors

Survey: Top 5 Digital Health Tools for Tech-Savvy Seniors | health |
67 percent of tech-savvy seniors want digital health tools for accessing care services from home, but the majority view today's technology is limited.

Via Dr. Mark Merolli -
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Can Smartphones Become The New Stethoscopes? Expert Insights Into The Future Of Mobile Health

Can Smartphones Become The New Stethoscopes? Expert Insights Into The Future Of Mobile Health | health |

One of the hottest topics for speculation in healthcare today is the unrealized potential for mobile health -- defined as technologies that use mobile devices, apps or telehealth to connect patients and physicians -- to transform the way healthcare is sought and delivered. Two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and companies are eager to tap this widespread technology for the benefit of patients, doctors and hospitals. But expert say it's not yet obvious how exactly mobile services might be leveraged in the bureucratic world of healthcare with its highly sensitive privacy issues.



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[INFOGRAPHIC] How the Health Care Pros Use Social Media

[INFOGRAPHIC] How the Health Care Pros Use Social Media | health |

We've covered a multitude of reasons why social media is such a powerful tool for health care professionals and institutions. An online presence is no longer recommended but required to flourish in the industry. The below infographic reveals how some of the top professionals in health care are using social media to further their careers and provide better care.


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more...'s curator insight, April 15, 2015 3:19 AM

Interesting article ...

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Primary Care Doctors And Digital Health

Primary Care Doctors And Digital Health | health |
Infographic highlighting the use of digital, mobile, apps, and clinical resources online by US Primary Care Physicians  (source: Digital Insights Group).

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Art Jones's curator insight, January 15, 2015 11:35 AM


Alexandre Gultzgoff's curator insight, January 19, 2015 9:16 AM

still in the US, but maybe a trend in Europe also...

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How does caffeine affect exercise?

How does caffeine affect exercise? | health |
High levels of caffeine, especially in individuals who do not consume caffeine on a regular basis, may play a role in caffeine toxicity.

Via Seth Bilazarian, MD
Seth Bilazarian, MD's curator insight, December 28, 2014 7:40 PM

Given the increase in caffeine availability and reports of adverse events, an understanding of the cardiac effects of caffeine is urgently required. This review summarizes the available medical literature specifically relating to caffeine ingestion and reduced exercise coronary blood flow, suggesting possible mechanisms. This review specifically focuses on the effects of caffeine on the coronary arteries, especially the reduced coronary blood flow noted with exercise.

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Email Newsletter Performance by Time Sent and Subject Line Length

Email Newsletter Performance by Time Sent and Subject Line Length | health |

Email newsletters that arrived in consumers' inboxes on Monday had the highest open rates on average last year, according to a recent report from MailerMailer.

Via Kamal Bennani
Gina Tucker's curator insight, November 10, 2014 8:55 PM

Part of a perfect marketing strategy is optimizing the length of your email subject lines. Too short = uninteresting. Too long = too interesting. Different audiences will obviously expect a different type of subject line, so know yours and tailor your email marketing to your group. 

Giorgio Alan Franco's curator insight, November 11, 2014 6:31 AM

Send your emails in the morning, with a short subject and get the best CTR on a Friday. Interesting stats!

Steven Towndrow's curator insight, November 11, 2014 10:41 AM

Definitely worth knowing!