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How to Respond to Negative Social Media Postings

How to Respond to Negative Social Media Postings | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |

Doctors have always been subject to reputational risks from negative comments or rumors.  The difference now is the enormous speed and reach with which they are spread through social media.

The issue is not only how but whether the healthcare entity or an individual physician should respond at all. This creates a quandary: responding to the patient/family could be a violation of patient privacy, even though the patient or family posted their own protected health information, but ignoring the issue could be perceived as a tacit agreement with the complaints or lack of concern with the feedback. The desire to “correct the record” or give the other side of the story when faced with the negative online posting is natural. However, doing so may lead to an allegation of breach of confidentiality or other legal consequences.

Healthcare providers are bound by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and state privacy laws, which strongly restrict what personal health information of the patient can be shared, unless the disclosure is necessary for treatment, payment or healthcare operations. Thus, HIPAA restricts what a hospital or other covered entity can publicly say about a patient.

Be aware that something as simple as a response acknowledging that a patient is or was a patient may violate privacy laws. The mere acknowledgment of the patient-physician relationship or that someone is receiving care from your hospital/clinical setting without patient consent can be a HIPAA violation and could potentially result in the patient reporting the physician or healthcare organization to the Board of Medicine or the state Department of Health and/or filing a lawsuit claiming breach of privacy.

Unlike complaints that are made by a patient directly to an organization, many complaints made online are anonymous. You may think you know who made the complaint and want to reach out directly to the patient but consider how the patient may feel if he or she believes that his or her desire for anonymity and privacy has not been respected.

There are basically four alternative responses to a patient/family’s negative online posting:

Ignore the post if the comments are generally benign.Respond to significantly negative or blatantly untruthful comments with a generic statement that explains your privacy rules and your process for receiving complaints. The statement should never identify that the individual is or was a patient but only confirm that your organization was named in the posting.Contact local law enforcement immediately if the posting is a threat against a specific healthcare provider, staff member or other individual. These comments should be taken seriously and require immediate action. Make a hard copy of the postings to provide to law enforcement as the posting could be deleted by the individual making the threats.Notify your insurance company’s Claims Department through a Notice of Potential Loss if any comments indicate that a medical malpractice or other claim against the healthcare organization is likely.

To reduce the risks and challenges with responding to an online complaint, take proactive steps to limit potential postings of negative online comments:

Post your organization’s social media guidelines on each of your social networks so the users understand the parameters for use.Develop a policy which addresses the organization’s position on responding to social media comments, including who can speak on behalf of the organization and what can and cannot be posted on social media.Ensure that everyone in the organization knows and understands why not responding directly to online comments is a best practice.Strengthen the organization’s service recovery program by implementing effective systems that invite/encourage patients and families to express their complaints and concerns directly to the healthcare provider or organization. This could be via a Patient Satisfaction Survey.Inform patients and families of the organization’s internal resources to address their concerns, such as providing the office manager’s name and contact information.Do not delete negative comments from your website unless they violate your organization’s social media guidelines. Deleting comments can be perceived as your organization restricting access or “covering up” negative feedback.Learn from these comments. Treat customer feedback, whether negative or positive, as an opportunity to improve the patient experience.
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How social media powers physician advocacy

How social media powers physician advocacy | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |
Hopefully, through these initiatives, we can continue to educate the public and empower our physicians.

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A Facebook for Patients: IBM’s Medical Social Network Gets an Upgrade

A Facebook for Patients: IBM’s Medical Social Network Gets an Upgrade | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |

IBM has a long-standing commitment to health care and global health. This week the company revamped its “patient portal.” Dubbed the IBM Patient Empowerment System, it now acts like a social network for participating patients.

Especially intriguing here is the interactive nature of the Patient Empowerment System–if a person has an urgent question about the interaction of two drugs, the system will cross check his or her medical records and background and warn yes or no to taking a particular medicine. It also allows patients to log in, update their profiles with prescription information, symptom complaints, blood pressure readings, and to find other patients struggling with similar illnesses or diseases. A patient can send a message to other patients and ask questions about certain medications or offer advice from personal experience.

“Most patients do not have the same access to information available to physicians, such as treatment updates or new warnings from the FDA,” said Joseph Jasinski, IBM Research. “And physicians are not always privy to ongoing patient updates, such as eating habits or long-term monitoring of vital signs. These partial pictures limit the level of care that physicians can provide, as well as the care patients can provide for themselves. The IBM Patient Empowerment System merges these realms, bringing important data to both parties.”

Other medical-focused social networks already exist; PatientsLikeMe is an independent online social network that connects patients based on disease affliction and the focus is on sharing the experience of what it’s like to go through the particular illness–like a social support network.

The IBM system is different for its focus on institutional affiliations–hospitals sign up and integrate the portal into their office procedures.

“Today, patients want to be more involved in managing their clinical data, and are eager to discover relevant and useful medical information for their benefit,” noted Dr. DongKyun Park from Gacheon University Gil Hospital in Korea, the pilot center of the new Patient Empowerment System.

If cities can do it, why not hospitals?


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The Top Benefits of Social Media Management for Your Medical Practice

There are over 2.2 billion social media users in the world. This number speaks to the tremendous opportunity for engaging your audience and promoting your brand online. However, it also highlights the challenges in formulating an effective social media marketing plan that optimizes time and resources.

The following is a look the primary value and benefits of social media management, particularly when provided by an expert partner in this area.

Identify the Right Audience and Tools

Setting up accounts on every possible channel and randomly posting messages to a general audience are common novice mistakes in social media. A key starting point in a social media marketing plan is to identify the right social channels that allow you to effectively reach your targeted audience.

While many people use multiple social tools, the audience demographics and usage behaviors vary. Facebook is a behemoth across all demographics. However, Twitter and LinkedIn offer a great opportunity to target a professional audience, whereas Snapchat and Instagram are centered on teens and young adult users.

Figure out which tools reach your audience, and allow you to best promote the quality of your company and brands. An expert partner is a strong resource in this objective, as they are familiar with channel functionality and audiences.

Detailed profiles of your targeted social user help you prepare messages that attract attention and engage customers.

Developing Impactful Content

Identifying the particular channels to center your strategy on is step one. The next major benefit of social media management is planning powerful campaigns and messages. A top social media marketing plan typically maps out campaign strategies for several weeks or months in advance.

In addition to the specific campaigns you plan, schedule and execute, successful social media management also involves engagement. At least one-third of your messages should include direct engagement with users. However, effective management helps you know when and what to say in response to social users, and how to avoid the faux pas of spontaneously engaging inappropriately in a conversation.

Measuring Results and Fine-Tuning Campaigns

Finally, a social media marketing plan outlines strategies for evaluating results and fine-tuning campaigns. Even with a well-planned campaign, a primary benefit of social promotion is the ability to adapt and evolve. You can’t do this as easily on traditional media.

An expert partner works with you to set practical, reasonable goals for your social media campaigns. Over time, compare your actual performance (follower growth, engagement, responses, conversions, etc.) to your desired outcomes. In response to achieving goals early or failing to progress at an adequate rate, set new objectives or adapt your strategies.

It is difficult to dedicate all necessary resources to social media management in lieu of other business requirements. An expert partner is valuable.


There is much more to social media management than consistently posting messages on channels. An effective social media marketing plan outlines how to reach particular market segments with key message strategies on each channel you use.

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Twitter Is Trending in Academic Medicine

Twitter Is Trending in Academic Medicine | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |
Using social media allows health professionals to transcend geographical boundaries to engage more with colleagues and the public, and even influence policy sometimes.

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Use of Facebook as part of a social media strategy for patient engagement

Use of Facebook as part of a social media strategy for patient engagement | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |

Using social media is part of many people’s daily routines. However, social media can also be a part of a patient engagement strategy by supporting information dissemination, raising awareness, and encouraging the public to ask their primary care providers about innovations in care delivery such as electronic consultation. The Champlain BASE (Building Access to Specialists through eConsultation) eConsult service is a secure, Web-based tool that allows primary care providers quick access to specialty care for their patients. In an effort to increase awareness of the service and invite patient feedback on the use of this new model of care delivery, we developed a Facebook page.

Next Section
Why Facebook?

Facebook provides an accessible method of obtaining information in lay format about health services that would otherwise only be found in scientific or academic journals and other sources that are less accessible to the general public.1 Our choice of Facebook rather than other social media platforms was based on its rapid, interactive, free-form method of communication with the ability to strategically target groups and drive discussion by allowing users to rate the service, write a review, share the page, post about their experiences with eConsult, access the eConsult website, and stay updated on the service.

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Implementing a successful Facebook page
Content development and management.

First, we created a mind map of patient engagement tools to demonstrate where social media fit within our strategic approach, incorporating promotional, engagement, and stakeholder objectives. Second, we held several meetings with the eConsult research team’s partners to review institutional policies and explore the potential risks and benefits of using a Facebook page as a patient engagement tool for eConsult. Extensive planning was required before launching the page. In response to suggestions made at these meetings, we created a “Facebook Moderator’s Handbook” outlining our implementation plan, which focused on 3 main objectives: raising page awareness among the target audience, privacy, and continuous evaluation. The handbook included a calendar indicating the date and type of pre-planned content, engagement, video, and photo posts (eg, “It’s Fun Fact Friday! Did you know that the average response time for an eConsult case is only 2 days?”); a plan for responding to feedback (both positive and negative); and methods of page moderation.

Reaching our target audience.

Our target audience included patients and the general Canadian public older than 18 years of age. To raise awareness, we reached out to our stakeholders with requests to disseminate information about the launch of the eConsult Facebook page on their respective social media platforms. Further, we “liked” health-related and patient-focused pages with similar target audiences (eg, Canada Health Infoway, The Ottawa Hospital), thereby linking our page to similar groups. Facebook demographic settings were used to set a “preferred page audience,” targeting age, location, interests, and language, increasing the chances of our target audience encountering our page. We expect people to join the page as they see their friends and family members doing so, and as they note that it has a following and is patient-focused, relatable, relevant, and free of medical jargon.


While the free-form nature of Facebook is optimal for interactivity, it holds the potential for privacy and liability issues. We adjusted settings to disable private messaging and ensure no posts would be published before being approved by the page moderator, a designated member of the eConsult team (Z.H.) who is responsible for page maintenance. Terms of use dictate no personal health questions, photos, or profanity are published, and responses can be expected during business hours Monday through Friday. In addition, a disclaimer stated that any personal health concerns should be voiced to a primary care provider.

Continuous evaluation.

Successes, setbacks, and obstacles encountered were tracked daily in a Microsoft Word document entitled “Facebook Journal.” Maintaining a record of problems and their solutions proved useful in providing day-to-day tracking of methods used and their success or lack thereof. Facebook’s insights and analytics provided detailed analysis including number of page and post likes, reach, sources of likes, and audience demographic characteristics.

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Four weeks after the page went live, it received 198 likes from Canada, the United States, Ghana, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Ecuador. Engagement (post clicks, likes, comments, and shares) was obtained from the above-mentioned countries, as well as Israel, Australia, Iran, and the United Kingdom. The page had a total organic reach (ie, number of viewers who saw a post without paid advertisements) of 5601 people living in Canada, and had reached 44 other countries. Of the 198 likes, 78% were from people between the ages of 18 and 34 years. Posts that obtained the most reach were those including photos, followed by posts containing links.

Previous SectionNext Section

The ultimate goal of the Facebook page was to engage patients and raise awareness surrounding the Champlain BASE eConsult service. Within 4 weeks of launching the site, we obtained extensive reach worldwide but limited uptake in terms of discussion flow. It might take more time for the page to gain the popularity and trust necessary to develop a large enough audience for consistent engagement. The eConsult Facebook page remains a key resource for patients, enabling them to conveniently acquire information about and comment on the service. We expect increased traffic as the service becomes more mainstream. With technology evolving and shaping our means of communication, Facebook can be an effective, simple tool for patient engagement.

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How practices can use social media for population health

How practices can use social media for population health | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |

Social media can empower providers to connect with patients where they live through relationship building, sharing vital information and providing health support.

Despite so many promising benefits, however, some providers are resistant to incorporate social media into their healthcare program, said Melody Smith Jones, manager of Connected Health at Perficient.

The biggest challenge to successful healthcare social media, in fact, is often overcoming the instinct to abstain from it altogether or limit participation simply to mitigate risk, she continued.

"A healthcare organization's reticence to participate in social media is often well-intentioned. After all, social media communication brings with it inherent risk," Jones said. "However, an organization does not actually decrease risk through non-participation. Conversations about you are still taking place and patients are still attempting to connect with you. You're just ignoring them."

Once providers get over the initial fear of social media, they must work on creating a voice, she explained. A healthcare organization must be warm, appear trustworthy and engage with its audience. It shouldn't appear related to corporate communications - "devoid of much in the way of warmth or strategy."

Instead organizations should maintain the "right balance of engaging and compliant," Jones added. "The possibilities are endless. You're building stronger relationships with your patients, attracting new patients and helping the population you serve make better healthcare decisions."

Smith added that healthcare providers should concentrate on building a dual set of core competencies: the knowledge, strategy and voice for a patient-centric social media program as well as the creation of a safe landscape for interacting with patients.

These competencies, fueled by social media listening and data, can be harnessed when built on proactive media governance, the right mix of priority, people, policy and process.

"Social media has the ability to impact population health by being seamlessly incorporated into the daily life of the healthcare consumer," Jones said, adding that advanced providers are already using the tools to not only manage population wellness but also convert unknown consumers into patients. "When consumers are looking for healthcare answers and information, often the first place they turn is social media. Don't you want to be there?"

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Google's artificial intelligence can diagnose cancer faster than human doctors

Google's artificial intelligence can diagnose cancer faster than human doctors | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |
Making the decision on whether or not a patient has cancer usually involves trained professionals meticulously scanning tissue samples over weeks and months.

But an artificial intelligence (AI) program owned by Alphabet, Google's parent company, may be able to do it much, much faster.

Google is working hard to tell the difference between healthy and cancerous tissue as well as discover if metastasis has occured.

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Dr. Google, Sofía Vergara y las symptoms cards - Markonomia

Dr. Google, Sofía Vergara y las symptoms cards - Markonomia | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |
Google hará diagnósticos médicos a partir de nuestras búsquedas a través de las symptoms cards. Esta funcionalidad por el momento solo está disponible en los Estados Unidos y te relaciona los síntomas que estás buscando con las enfermedades más frecuentes a los que se relaciona.

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Don’t Make these Mistakes as a Doctor on Social Media! 

Don’t Make these Mistakes as a Doctor on Social Media!  | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |

Everyone is looking for an edge to promote their business or service and the healthcare industry is no different. One of the most powerful tools doctors have in their bag to promote them self is social media. It is a digital resource unlike any other when it comes to allowing the ability to acquire new patients, stay connected with current patients, and build relationships that prove beneficial in a multitude of ways.


Social media is hardly new to anyone at this time, yet for a number of doctors, it is still something they are not especially adept at. Sure, they are well aware of what social media is, but when it comes to harnessing that power to promote them self in a meaningful way, they are lost.


Others are fairly well aware of how to use social platforms, but choose not to out of fear that they will make mistakes that damage their reputation and possibly, their career. Regardless of experience level or sometimes irrational fears, the importance of social media has never been greater than it is now.


Doctors are human, and as humans, they tend to make the same mistakes on social media that many professionals do. Whether you have been on social media for years, or you are just beginning, these are common mistakes doctors tend to make on social media.


Not having a strategy in place

Entering into social media with no plan is no kind of entry. It’s akin to asking to fail before you even really begin. You have to know why you are using social media, how to use it, and then you have to follow through on your strategy. Blindly posting content and hoping for the best is not a strategy. Take the time to produce or procure content that will inform and engage, then follow through with conversation as necessary.


Shying away from conversation

You’re on social media to engage with people so it makes no sense to ignore people when they are trying to talk to you. If you view social media as some sort of one-sided advertisement where you shout your glories through a bullhorn and nothing more, you will fail. That is not speculation, it is fact. You have to respond to comments, listen to feedback (good or bad), and show that you are available and care enough to carry on the conversations directed toward you. Anything less is not going to work.



Remember how we said just a moment ago that social media isn’t a big one-sided advertisement? If not, we’re saying it again in a different way because it is that important for you to grasp it. Only about 20% of your posts should be aimed at promoting yourself. The remainder should be somewhat generically engaging content. It was what draws people in so that they do see the content that directly promotes you. As the song says, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!


Focusing on quantity over quality

It’s not all a numbers game. More in no way means better on social media. Focus on creating and sharing enough high quality content to keep people engaged, not piles of random postings in which you hope something catches on. Similarly, it’s not all about views, it’s about the quality of your views and if they come with engagement and shares. To just blindly post scads of content is a waste of everyone’s time and your money.


Not managing time and resources

Be efficient! Use tools to make your time on social media more effective. Most platforms have internal schedulers and for those that don’t, there are apps for that. This frees up more time for you to actually talk to the people commenting on your content which is what you are there for in the first place. Also, you don’t have to use every social network under the sun. Try the ones that appeal to you, but if a platform isn’t working for you or you just don’t like it, don’t waste time on it. Focus on what works!


Unreasonable expectations

This is self-explanatory. Don’t expect to rule the web in a week. Or month. Or ever! Go in knowing that success takes time and success is measured differently for everyone. Keep it cool and natural and don’t push! Social media is a triathlon, not a sprint.


Not setting up bio and profile picture correctly

You have to show people you take your presence on social media seriously if you want them to take you seriously. The first step in that is setting up your profiles correctly with banners, a real profile picture and all information fields filled in.  If you can’t be bothered to do the basics, it looks unprofessional and no one is going to take you seriously. You have to lay the groundwork!


Not knowing the line between personal and professional

You have to know and respect the line between personal and professional. There are many aspects of your career that cannot be discussed or even alluded to online. If you cross the line, you will pay the price. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about anything to do with your career, you just have to stay aware of the legal and ethical boundaries.


Not using it at all

If you’re not using social media, that is your biggest mistake. You are missing opportunities and that is more than unfortunate, it’s almost tragic. Your possibilities online are endless, seize them before you miss the chance to benefit!

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Errores de los profesionales sanitarios en las redes sociales
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The modern doctor is a digital nomad 

The modern doctor is a digital nomad  | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |

There seems to be a new tool for communication appearing on a weekly basis, be it a closed messaging app or broad social sharing tool, there is always a new medium for us to connect with the world.

Data shows that doctors, nurses and other medical professionals have flocked to tools like Twitter to share their opinions and engage with their peers on a multitude of topics, but where do they go from there? Do doctors use Snapchat? Is your pharmacist on Instagram?

Tools such as Facebook and Twitter are a decade old and have become part of the social consciousness of a generation. For many, social networks have become the primary individual communication platforms between friends, peers and groups, and these personal interactions have spread into all sectors and markets, including healthcare.

The rise Of Dr Millennial
We are seeing a positive shift in the uptake of social platforms by healthcare professionals (HCPs) due largely to a new generation of physicians, nurses and pharmacists who have qualified in the last 5-10 years.

These 'millennial' HCPs grew up with digital tools, researching not in libraries or using books, but using the Internet, collaborating and questioning their peers through social communities. Naturally their usage continued through both their medical study years and their qualified practice.

Most of the world aged 40 and under can now be found across multiple social networks both personally and professionally, and the healthcare community is no different. It would, however, be wrong to say that social activity is the reserve of the millennial HCP generation.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are highly-skilled and experienced healthcare professionals, wanting to stay relevant and adapting the way they work to incorporate social media and new technologies into their daily lives.

These individuals are pioneers who have embraced change and more often than not, use their professional credibility to lead the conversation and influence others.

The combination of these two groups has created a confluence of conversation that results in a resource of in-depth knowledge and insight provided online for all to access.

Millennial HCPs grew up using digital tools and social communities

Moving beyond 140-characters
Research shows that Twitter still holds the leading share of voice when it comes to the communication practices of healthcare professionals; however, other networks are becoming more and more prevalent.

Some, perhaps frustrated by Twitter's limited 140-character posting limit, have migrated to, the site where users share stories, as well as interacting with each other.

Medium was created by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams in 2012, with a vision of offering the same broad accessibility of information that Twitter provided, but with much longer-form, in-depth content.

The site attracts roughly 30 million monthly visitors, and preliminary research showed a significant number of HCPs on the platform, with some writing, some engaging and others simply listening to the conversation.

The predominant content from HCPs on Medium was advice around specialist topics, usually a disease or therapy area.

These articles range from health tips, as with a post from orthopaedic surgeon Paul McDonough MD (@DrPaulMcDonoughMD) on looking after your back, to deep analysis of focused topics, such as a data-backed analysis of the single payer system in the US by Pat Salber MD (@Docweighsin), an emergency physician and founder of 'The Doctor Weighs In' blog. Pat has used Medium to spark conversation around this and many other topics on policy and governance in healthcare.

Another long-form content channel largely utilised by HCPs is Quora. The network applies a simple question and answer format to its content and hosts a wealth of knowledge, some broad, around topics such as technology, with wide interest groups, as well as other very specific conversations, such as evolutionary genetics, with few contributors, but rich depth of content.

With any channel, cutting through the noise of generalist conversation is often a challenge; Quora, however, is more approachable than others in that it breaks down conversations into topics and groups, as well as by user.

While it would be wrong to call Quora an 'emergent' site, having been set up in 2009, it is one that has recently seen a lot of activity from healthcare professionals. The number of interactions and the size of groups have grown steadily and are now at a point where it can be considered a significant outlet for HCP engagement.

The largest group to feature HCPs on Quora was 'Medicine and Healthcare'. At the time of writing, the topic had over 157,000 questions and 1.6 million individuals following the conversation. Of the top 10 writers within the topic, seven were HCPs.

A secondary topic group is 'Doctors', a group with over half-a-million followers and 18,500 questions. Of the ten most active writers, nine were HCPs.

Many physicians use Quora to test theories and ask questions of other HCPs. Sometimes these discussions are around disease areas or treatment methodologies.

In one response from radiation oncologist Marc-Emile Plourde to the question 'As a medical doctor, what is the biggest mistake that you've made?', he shares details about a mistake involving drug administration that resulted in a very negative experience for his patient. As this is in print, I cannot link to it, but I encourage you to look it up.

Plourde moved on from this mistake, which happened early in his career, to create a mobile app called MD on Call, to provide other healthcare professionals with advice on frequently encountered 'on-call' medical situations.

More often than not, social media channels and online networks can appear one-sided, with communication being very outward looking. Quora changes this dynamic. By using questions instead of statements as the starting point, conversations flow more naturally.

Many physicians use Quora to test theories and ask questions of other HCPs

Smile, you're on camera!
While channels like Twitter, Quora and Medium extend the reach of traditional knowledge sharing by healthcare professionals, there are a number of truly innovative implementations of new social channels by healthcare professionals.

One that has caused a furore, both in the healthcare world and with the wider public, is that of surgeons taking their surgery global through video and photo live sharing networks like Facebook live, Instagram and Snapchat.

These social trailblazers, generally from the field of cosmetic surgery, have opened up their theatres to tens of thousands of people, all of whom chose to watch plastic surgeons in action.

Dr Sandra Lee, otherwise known as 'Dr Pimple Popper,' performs blackhead extractions and more to an audience of about 1.6 million on Instagram.

The California based, board-certified dermatologist has performed thousands of procedures, all documented through Instagram. From an analysis of the comments, many seem to find her work fascinating, while others use the innovative interactive approach to ask questions, relating either to a personal condition or advice regarding the profession of cosmetic surgeon.

Other examples of 'live' surgery include plastic surgeon, Matthew Schulman MD, who uses Snapchat to share images and video of a variety of plastic surgery procedures, including those performed under general anaesthesia such as liposuction and hernia repair.

While these videos garner huge media attention, and views in the millions, not everyone is pleased with this latest development. Many physicians claim that the videos distract from the procedure and can potentially pose a threat to the patient.

In 2013 the General Medical Council introduced a set of guidelines on how HCPs should conduct themselves on social media. However, with constantly evolving social and technological changes, a further revision will soon be needed to keep up with the pace of innovation.

The way we interact has changed beyond recognition over the past decade and will continue to do so over the decade to follow. For those in healthcare, social media and technology provide new and innovative opportunities to educate, engage and learn. The challenges for healthcare professionals will be to find the balance between what is possible and what is best for the patient.

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The Value of Social Media in Academic Medicine: What are the data?

In this video, Jay Widmer, M.D., Ph.D., Interventional Cardiology Fellow at Mayo Clinic, discusses the value of social media in academic medicine.

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Social Media Guidelines for our Clinicians

Social Media Guidelines for our Clinicians | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |
Many healthcare organizations are at the early stage of developing social media policies.

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Medical clinic social media marketing 

Medical clinic social media marketing  | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |

According to a report by PWC, 42% of the users  who search for health information on social media look at health-related reviews. Similarly, 29% of the patients look for information on social media through other patients’ experiences with their diseases. This means that users on social media are quite active when it comes to health-related issues. So if you run a medical business, then social media provides you immense scope to grow your medical practice. However, in order to market your medical practice with social media, you need to be aware of certain guidelines. This article will guide you to use social media as a marketing tool for your medical practice.



Share Educational Content

As mentioned above, people are keen to look for health related information on social media. Now, wouldn’t it beneficial for you and your audience if you share this information. Your audience will get the information they need and you will get more engagement from them. Hence, share content that your users are looking for. When you educate your audience regarding certain diseases, treatment or precautionary measures, then they perceive you to be an expert medical professional. As a result, you increase credibility and your brand image enhances on social networks.

Your educated content can talk about precautionary measures to avoid certain diseases. For example, “10 foodstuffs that reduce the risk of heart diseases.” Your content can be related to a treatment process or procedure. For example, “What is an open heart surgery?” or “The process of carrying out an open heart surgery.” Similarly, you can focus on symptoms of certain diseases or habits that can have future complications. For example, “7 habits that can affect your brain.” In fact, you can even share unique content from medical experts as this will help you leverage your reach to more number of people on social media.

Provide Latest Information

You cannot talk about treatment or procedures that were used way back in the 90s. The medical industry has undergone tremendous change along with advancement in science and technology (as you may know) and so you need to provide the latest information about treatment and procedures. Similarly, there are an increasing number of diseases that people are suffering from than ever before. Therefore, you need to provide the latest information to your followers. For this purpose, you need to update your content. This means that you’ll have to create content regularly. In fact, if there’s an epidemic or some new disease that people are talking about, then you can use this time to make people aware and provide them latest information about such diseases such as the Ebola virus, Avian Influenza virus, and other illnesses.

Update Information on Your Services

Apart from posting general updates and sharing health-related articles, market your services as well. Once your followers read your content regarding certain diseases or sicknesses, they’ll search for medical services for treatment. This is where you need to promote your medical services and offers. Offers can be provided for flu shots during flu season, discount for a family checkup and others. Your new treatment procedures can be explained with the help of a video. Also, it is important that you update your social profile by adding new services.

Make sure you follow the 10 elements of a successful social media profile. When you follow these elements and update your profile, not only do people become aware of your new services but also other users on social media looking for similar services are able to find you. Thus, your followers increase and you reach out to more people.

Use Visuals

No one would like to read a blog unless you make it appealing through your tone and language or by adding visual elements. In fact, visuals are the best way to communicate the message in a short manner. Hence, visuals tend to resonate more than text alone. Images, infographics, videos, and GIFs are a great way to catch the attention of your audience. Your video content can include animated videos that show how certain illnesses affect your body or how harmful organisms enter your body. Now the creation of such content can be tedious and expensive. If you are low on budget, then it is recommended that you share content from others.


For images, you can list down content instead of writing a blog. For example, you can list “4 ways to reduce weight” or “10 harmful types of cancer.” You can even make use of infographics to indicate health statistics. For example, “increasing number of diabetes patients in Canada”, “number of people suffering from various illnesses” and other medical related data.

Visual communication of data is perfect for your audience on social media.

Engage By Responding to Your Followers

One of the best ways to engage with your followers is by beginning a conversation. Social media is all about building relationships and so you need to develop a conversation with your audience by answering or commenting on their questions or comments respectively. Moreover, when you provide thoughtful feedback, your followers regard you as a medical expert. Such interactions help in building your medical brand.

Social Media Ads

If you want to promote your medical services or products, then you should consider using social media ads. You can run ads on multiple platforms at the same time. This means you can have ads on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social media channels in order to extend your awareness to audiences across multiple platforms. However, the cost of advertising will differ and so will the targeting options. For instance, LinkedIn is more likely to take professional details into consideration when showing ads to its users. Facebook will consider professional details and also other social interactions like following, liking and commenting on particular posts.

Through social media ads, you can create different types of ads based on user interface. This means there will be different ad options for mobile, desktop or tablet version. They include banner ads on top of the screen as you’ll see on top of the screen on LinkedIn or ads that are shown in small boxes especially on the right corner of the page on desktop. When it comes to mobile, promoted or sponsored posts are forms of ad that are commonly used. Nevertheless, sponsored posts are used on other interfaces as well. Sponsored posts appear like normal posts when a user scrolls through his newsfeed.


Social media forms a part of owned media when you share your content on your profile. It becomes paid media when you start using social media marketing to get more customers.

Now when you run a campaign on social media, you need a user to perform some desired actions. Therefore, you add call to action buttons on your posts unless you just want to create maximum awareness for which, users do not have to perform any action. The ad is displayed to a user and he becomes aware of your medical service. In the case of sponsored posts, the call to action can be in the form of following your page, commenting or sharing your content, signing with your medical newsletter, booking an appointment and others. You can also redirect a user to your medical website when they click on your ad. Therefore, you need to create a landing page where your users are directed. Your landing page should be well-crafted so that it helps you in converting a prospect into your client. If you need any assistance in designing and running your ad campaign on social media, then it is recommended that you contact a social media marketing firm that will help you improve your conversion rate.

Follow this guide to market your medical practice with social media effectively. Social media marketing brings many benefits like increasing reach, getting more followers, increasing engagement, enhancing online reputation management, and also growing your medical business. Therefore, if you want to avail these benefits for your medical practice, then do not delay and get started with social media marketing.

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A Complete Guide to Instagram Marketing for Medical Practices

A Complete Guide to Instagram Marketing for Medical Practices | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |

Instagram’s exceedingly visual interface has taken the social media marketplace by storm since its launch in 2010. The recent addition of a stories feature has crossed 100 million daily active users in just a matter of months. Not only has it been able to change the way people communicate and share information online, but it has also become one of the key platforms for product promotion and customer engagement.

When it comes to customer engagement, Instagram is better than all other social media platforms. No wonder more than half of the world’s best brands are on Instagram. Instagram is a very efficient way to promote your brand in front of thousands or millions of potential customers – even if you are running a medical practice. Because your potential patients are on Instagram, you should be here as well.

User base

Instagram’s user base is primarily comprised of millennials. Almost 90 percent of its 500 million active users are under the age of 35, which means to be successful on Instagram, medical practices need to shift their focus to a younger target audience. For instance, if you are a dentist, you will need to focus on teeth whitening and braces rather than on dentures.

In case marketing to a younger audience is not your focus, or if your services are not appropriate for millennials, do not ignore Instagram just yet. While the vast majority of users are millennials, there is still much scope for increasing your online presence. A substantial online presence means higher search engine rankings, building trust in the eyes of your patients, and a stronger authority in your field. Don’t forget, Instagram can work wonders in creating your brand awareness and general credibility among patients.

What makes Instagram different from other social media platforms?

The visual nature of Instagram is its competitive advantage. Humans are primarily visual creatures, and the ability to be a part of a platform that provides a never-ending feed of visually pleasing content can feel like a vacation from the thick walls of text-based information we receive on other platforms.

Visuals are known to invoke emotions, which allows medical practices to create deep connections with their target audience. Also, given the fact that Instagram users are allowed higher levels of anonymity as compared to other social networks, they feel free to like, comment and engage with posts more freely without the fear of being judged publicly. The feeling of anonymity is one of the reasons Instagram enjoys such enormous popularity and serves as a medium to explore issues that one might be cautious of on other social media platforms.

What kind of content to post

When deciding what to post to Instagram, do not forget that Instagram is a more personal app. Usually, posts that are too technical and promotional in nature are not welcomed by the users as much as personal posts are. Instagram users are more inclined toward viewing lively pictures related to events, informational material, customer engagement and events happening around the community.

For instance, if you are having a holiday party, you can post a picture wishing your patients a happy holiday. Alternatively, if your practice is involved in charity events, your Instagram followers will be glad to know and participate. You can let your followers find out when you bring a new physician on board by posting an individual or a group picture with an interesting caption.

Also, posting images and content that are in tune with trending topics will never go out of fashion. You must keep an eye on current trends and topics, even if you happen to choose “Throwback Thursdays.” You must try to participate in as many events as you can, and always use the appropriate hashtags. Make sure to keep your practice values in mind before participating in the latest trends and topics. Above all, always maintain a consistent style and tone in your Instagram posts.

Want to get noticed? Use #Hashtags

While it is important to post high-quality content regularly, merely doing this may not be sufficient. You will need to make sure your posts are being viewed. There are many ways to get users to notice and read your posts, but the easiest way is by using appropriate hashtags.

In case you are wondering, a hashtag is a phrase or a keyword that is preceded by the pound sign (#). Hashtags are critical because they turn into links, which allow the users to see every post that the hashtag was used for. For instance, if you use the hashtag “#braces” in your picture caption, anyone searching for that hashtag will see your image.

Hashtags help Instagram users search for content. The correct hashtag, or a combination of hashtags, will expose your medical practice to a wider customer base. By making your medical practice more discoverable, you will have a better chance of attracting followers, getting more content shares and increasing patient engagement.

In fact, according to social media experts, posts and images with at least one hashtag result in 12.6 percent more engagement than those without a hashtag. Here are some tips for using hashtags on Instagram:

Use as many hashtags as you can as this will maximize the exposure of your post. However, Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post.Use some of the most popular and trending hashtags on Instagram. Including popular hashtags can give a little more boost to your posts. However, be careful as using too many hashtags can also increase spam activity on your profile.Keep an eye on all the hashtags that your competitors are using.If you want, you can hide all or some of your hashtags to give your posts a cleaner look. Using too many hashtags may make your posts look like spam or congested. If you want, you can include your hashtags in the comments below your post. This will still allow your post to be seen for all the selected hashtags.Always add location tags to enable potential patients to find you when searching for your practice.How to improve your Instagram strategy

With more than 500 million active users, Instagram is a growing social media platform buzzing with potential patients to engage with online. Since an increasing number of customers are following their favorite brands and businesses on social media, having a presence on Instagram is essential to connecting with your target audience. It also makes your medical practice more relatable as you share relevant experiences, showing your followers “behind-the-scenes” pictures and providing valuable advice on trending topics.

Here are some of the proven ways to help you leverage Instagram to boost customer engagement, grow followers and capture more leads into your sales funnel:

Make use of Instagram marketing tools: There are many Instagram tools designed to boost your online presence and make your marketing efforts more efficient. There are apps to help you edit images, provide analytical data, help you find influencers, schedule your content and manage your followers. For starters, you can pick one or two apps that work best for your practice and goals.Use Instagram Stories to connect with your followers: According to research, users spend triple the time watching live video on social media than a prerecorded one. Considering this, social video can be an effective way to connect with your followers. Instagram Stories is one of the latest features and practices can “go live” and convey their message using video. While there are many ways to include a live video in your Instagram strategy, hosting live Q&A sessions where you answer your followers in real time may prove to be highly effective.Hashtags are crucial: Hashtags are critical to your Instagram posts as they allow users to find you even if they have never heard of your brand before. Hashtags let you reach a wider audience by increasing your content exposure. One of the best ways to simplify hashtags is to observe what your competitors are using. You can see what is working by understanding the level of customer engagement they are generating.Host contests: Online contests are an excellent way to get your followers involved in your content while making it interactive. Hosting contests will create buzz around your brand and will have a significant impact on increasing followership. You can host simple contests such as ‘Like this post to win’ or ‘Share this post to win…’ The information you gather will allow you to analyze customer engagement levels to find the best time to post in order to grow your audience. According to experts, the best times to post your content on Instagram is on weekdays between 12 pm and 1 pm. However, to understand the best times for your audience, you will need to collect and analyze some data.Include visuals in your blog posts: Instagram is the fastest-growing social media platform to drive new eyeballs to your blog posts. Even though Instagram only allows you to post clickable links in your profile, you can still promote your blog post by sharing visuals in your Newsfeed. You can consider using text-based images that highlight key points in your content. Alternatively, you can consider complementing your content with an illustration. This is an excellent way to drive traffic and improve your SEO ranking.Conclusion

Instagram is a proven platform to execute content marketing strategy for your medical practice. Implementing the tactics mentioned above will foster your social media goals while strengthening your presence on Instagram. If all of these tips and strategies seem overwhelming to you, you can begin with

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Why Facebook Advertising is Now a Best Practice for Medical Marketers

Why Facebook Advertising is Now a Best Practice for Medical Marketers | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |

Recent industry-specific performance data suggests that healthcare organizations should be investing heavily in Facebook advertising — here’s why.

It’s no secret that social media now plays a central role in any comprehensive medical marketing campaign. According to a recent PwC Health Research Institute survey, approximately 90% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 said they would trust medical information they found on social media networks. Moreover, a Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group study suggests that up to 41% of patients’ decisions to go with a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility are influenced by their social media experiences.

However, as the social landscape becomes increasingly competitive, medical marketers are searching for more effective ways to reach their target patient demographics while simultaneously improving their overall ROI. According to all of the latest data, it seems as though Facebook advertising might be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Why Facebook?

First and foremost, there’s Facebook’s absolutely massive user base: as of Q4 2016, Facebook had 1.86 billion active monthly users (MAUs) worldwide, making it the most popular social network on the planet. It’s currently experiencing a year-over-year growth rate of approximately 20%. By the year 2020, experts predict the social media giant will have more than 162.2 million users in the United States alone.

It’s also important to remember that Facebook actually owns the next two most popular social media platforms as well — WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger — which each boast more than one billion MAUs worldwide. Instagram, another Facebook-owned platform, isn’t far behind (currently number seven) with more than 600 million MAUs.

Then there’s Facebook’s advanced targeting capabilities; the platform allows you to target users based on highly relevant patient demographic information, such as age, sex, location, ethnicity, and language. You can also target individuals who “like” specific pages or are members of online patient communities (say, an IVF support group), enabling you to serve ads only to those who are in need of the very solution(s) that your practice or hospital specializes in.

Need More Convincing?

Considering all of the advantages mentioned above, it should come as no surprise that Facebook ads typically generate high returns at minimal cost. But interestingly, they often perform better for healthcare organizations than for companies in many other industries.

Wordstream recently released a Facebook Ad Benchmarks By Industry report and the results were compelling to say the least.

The average clickthrough rate for medical campaigns was .83% — approximately .07% below the average across all industries. That said, the average cost-per-click was $1.32, a full $.40 below the average $1.72 across all industries. Medical ads on Facebook also converted at an 11% clip, while the average across all industries was a mere 9.21%. Most impressively, the average cost-per-action for medical ads was $12.31, compared to a pricey $18.68 across all industries.

What’s clear is that Facebook advertising has emerged as one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to maintain a steady stream of new patients for your medical practice or hospital. If you haven’t already started investing in Facebook, you should consider doing so as quickly as possible. I’m willing to bet that your competitors are already running their own campaigns, or at least will be soon — either way, the window of opportunity isn’t going to remain this wide open for long.

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Social Media And Ethical Concerns For Healthcare Professionals

Social Media And Ethical Concerns For Healthcare Professionals | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |
While social media use in healthcare has the potential to bring value to patient-provider relationships, it is not without its ethical and professional challenges. This presentation looks at those challenges and suggests ways to deal with them.

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Art Jones's curator insight, August 29, 2017 11:53 AM

Risk vs. Reward

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YouTube: A Missed Opportunity For Patient Education

YouTube: A Missed Opportunity For Patient Education | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |

Last month YouTube announced on its blog that it has hit a milestone - people around the world are now watching a billion hours of YouTube’s content every single day.  As a form of patient education and health promotion, YouTube has great potential but recent studies show it is not being used to its full potential.

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Social Media in Healthcare: Why Physicians Should Get Involved

Social Media in Healthcare: Why Physicians Should Get Involved | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |

In an era of viral patient mobilization via social media, scientists must use similar tools to achieve effective communication


The CRA Annual Conference is known for providing a blend of scientific and special interest sessions. This year was no different with an exciting symposium on technology in healthcare, which included live demos of telehealth and mobile platforms that will innovate rheumatology practice. It also included a compelling talk on the place for social media in healthcare, given by Dr. Eric Benchimol.

One of the arguments for physician involvement came from Nature. An Italian researcher hypothesized an unconventional procedure, venoplasty, for the treatment of MS. Although it was not advocated by other researchers, in Canada over 500 Facebook groups promoted the vein-widening therapy. The story was picked up by news programmes, leading to widespread patient advocacy and protests. This placed unprecedented pressure on politicians to alter research priorities. Despite conclusions from the CIHR on the absence of evidence, patients travelled to other countries to receive this procedure, and sadly at least two deaths were reported.

The clear lesson is that in an era of viral patient mobilization via social media, scientists must use similar tools to achieve effective communication.

Reference: Chafe R. et al., The Rise of People Power. Nature. 2011:472;410-1.

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Should physicians use social media to distribute health information? — 7 things to know

Should physicians use social media to distribute health information? — 7 things to know | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |

A study published in BioMed Central found that while many physicians utilize social media platforms to distribute information, few actually make it worth their (or their patients') while.

Here are seven things to know:


1. The qualitative study involved telephone interviews of physicians who had used social media to distribute health information.


2. The 17 physicians involved in the study were:

35 percent female76 percent pediatricians76 percent bloggers


3. Participants tended to set their own standards and rules for social media health communications.


4. Physician-participants expressed uncertainty about social media boundaries or strategy.


5. Participants reported using social media as a purely one-way communication platform as opposed to using it as an interactive forum.


6. Participants' opinions were split as to whether social media was an impediment to patient care.


7. Researchers concluded physicians' roles and responsibilities in providing medical content within social media forums remains unclear. They also agreed that most physicians were not using social media platforms to their fullest potential.

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Twitter Is Trending in Academic Medicine

Twitter Is Trending in Academic Medicine | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |

Twitter has changed how he works, said Jason Frank, MD (@drjfrank), a clinician-educator at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (@RoyalCollege). Frank is among a number of health professionals who are using this social media platform to share their scholarship, engage with the public, build new social networks, and advocate for change.

Twitter offers a means for educators, clinicians, and researchers to communicate and stay connected with each other in real time through brief 140-character messages. Instead of waiting to discuss new research in-person with a handful of colleagues or at a conference, academic medicine professionals can reach more people in more places through social media. “Within the next decade, you won’t be able to be a successful scholar without having some activity on social media,” Frank predicted.  

Social Networking Use Shot Up in the Past DecadePercentage of all American adults and internet-using adults who use at least one social networking site.
Source: Pew Research Center surveys, 2005-2006, 2008-2015. No data are available for 2007.
Advancing scholarship one tweet at a time

Stressing the impact of Twitter, Frank said he relies on #meded as one of his primary sources of information about new education research and to build a community of practice. By searching the social media network for this hashtag, he is quickly able to find other colleagues who are tweeting about medical education. For example, Frank might share a tweet (known as retweeting, or RT for short) about a new medical school curriculum and add context by commenting on how that information applies to his own work. Then another educator, someone outside North America perhaps, might read Frank’s tweet, which she found through a #meded search of her own, and add a comment about a course she introduced at her school. Now, a conversation has started about this new curriculum that stretches across the globe.

“Within the next decade, you won’t be able to be a successful scholar without having some activity on social media.”

Jason Frank, MD
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

These conversations benefit not only the participants, as they learn from each other, but also their followers, who are able to monitor and take part as the conversation unfolds. Twitter is “a way to connect with scholars all around the world who you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to connect with,” said Lauren Maggio, MS , MA, PhD (@LaurenMaggio), associate director of distributed learning and technology in the Department of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (@USUHSPAO).


Expanding Your Network, On and Offline

Want to learn more about leveraging social media to benefit your work and institution? Attend the 2017 AAMC National Professional Development Conference for Institutional Advancement, March 29 to April 1 in Puerto Rico.

Sponsored by the AAMC Group on Institutional Advancement (GIA), the conference will include six sessions on establishing a social media presence in academic medicine. Among them:

Cultivating Content for Riding the Right Social Media TrendsPower Panel: What’s on Your Dashboard?Demystifying and Leveraging Media Metrics to Showcase Your Productivity and Impact

This annual conference is geared towards supporting academic medicine professionals in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and public affairs/community relations. Participants will hear from a compelling roster of speakers and have the opportunity to expand their professional networks, learn new skills, and share effective strategies for advancing their institutions.


In addition to learning about others’ research on Twitter, both Frank and Maggio said they use the platform to share their own research with other scholars to increase the influence of their work.

Reaching a broader audience

Another reason to start tweeting? According to the Pew Research Center (@pewresearch), social media use is ubiquitous across genders, races, and nearly every other demographic comparison. Potentially, you can reach 313 million adults worldwide who have Twitter accounts. Using Twitter, physicians can reach outside academic medicine to patients and the public, two groups that have traditionally been hard to engage.

Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE (@seattlemamadoc), a pediatrician and the chief of digital innovation at Seattle Children’s Hospital (@seattlechildren), said that social media allows her to amplify her voice and reach a wider audience in a short amount of time.

After talking in the exam room with parent after parent about the value of vaccinating their children, Swanson realized that she could reach more parents by blogging and tweeting about vaccine science and safety than she could counseling one person at a time in the exam room. While others were using social media to spread untruths that were changing the face of vaccine science, Swanson used her Seattle Mama Doc blog and @seattlemamadoc Twitter handle to present the facts from experts in the field.

Without social media, Swanson estimates she could reach about 25 patients a day in the clinic and 10 more in care coordination. With social media, though, she can connect with millions with campaigns such as the 2015 #MeaslesTruth TwitterStormthat reached 20 million people in 10 minutes.

Although interactions like these on Twitter may not be as intimate as those in the exam room, they are helping families to understand science. “I don’t know how to practice without these tools anymore,” said Swanson.

Creating new social networks


The AAMC Embraces Social Media

The AAMC pioneered academic medicine’s use of social media in 2005 with its Aspiring Docs campaign. Today, the AAMC has 20 active Twitter handles totaling over 146 thousand followers, six Facebook pages, and accounts on platforms including YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and WordPress.  These platforms reach members, constituents, policymakers, medical school applicants and students, media, and the public.

“The fact that so many of our member medical schools and teaching hospitals are now on Twitter is incredibly exciting. It has opened up a new world of possibilities for connecting, sharing information, and highlighting innovations in medical education, patient care, and research across the nation,” said Stephanie Weiner, AAMC Senior Social Media Strategist.

Twitter has been an invaluable tool for AAMC advocacy activities, Weiner added, noting the successful campaigns: #SaveStudentAid, the American Doctor Shortage, and AAMC’s growing grassroots community, AAMCAction. With close to 185,000 community members, AAMCAction spurred close to 42,000 advocacy actions during 2016, including tweets to key Congressional members and expressions of support through online petitions.

“Although we don’t expect overnight success on all our channels, by building our online communities and taking calculated risks, we can help inspire our audiences to get engaged and make a difference,” Weiner said.

List of AAMC Twitter Contacts

As a way to process grief, Sarah Bernstein, MD (@sbernsteinmd), a pediatric resident at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago (@uiccom), wrote about the first patient she lost. More than 170 people tweeted about her essay published in the journal Academic Medicine. Through these tweets, Bernstein connected with other physicians and nurses who had similar experiences, as well as with families who lost children or had babies in a neonatal intensive-care unit. From her story, these families told her, they learned “how much heart had gone into caring for their children.” Bridging the gap between families and physicians in this way wouldn’t have been possible without Twitter.

Using Twitter is an easier and less invasive way to reach out to a stranger than speaking in person or sending an email, said Bernstein. In this case, Twitter not only encouraged these connections, but also served as an avenue for comfort and healing for both families and a physician alike.

Enacting change

Twitter also allows physicians to take action. On Sept. 30, 2015, the McGill Qualitative Health Research Group (@MQHRG) tweeted an excerpt of a rejection letter their scholars received from the journal BMJ (@bmj_latest). The rejection stated that “qualitative studies are an extremely low priority [for BMJ].” That same day, scholars from around the world used Twitter to express their outrage. They organized to submit an open letter in response to the decision. Hundreds of tweets were sent in the first few days using #BMJnoqual. Three weeks later, 76 researchers from 11 countries had signed the letter, which argued for the value of qualitative research.

In February 2016, BMJ published the letter. More than 1,600 people have since sent upward of 2,200 tweets about it, triggering BMJ editors to respond with their own open letter and a formal call for articles about qualitative research.

“If you’re in health care, social media is a critical element,” said Frank. For those not already on Twitter, communication departments of most academic medical centers will be able to provide guidance and share policies about how to engage in social media in a responsible, ethical manner.

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Twitter is trending as a professional development tool in academic medicine.

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3 Ways Social Media Can Improve Healthcare Marketing Efforts |

3 Ways Social Media Can Improve Healthcare Marketing Efforts | | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |

Within the next three to five years, the use of social media to connect with individuals is expected to increase by 256 percent.

For the healthcare industry in particular, social media can help engage patients, providers, and the public with relevant and timely information, as well as communicate the value and credibility of the health system.

Why is this tactic becoming a critical component of healthcare marketing strategy?

A recent study found 57 percent of consumers’ decisions to receive treatment at a healthcare facility are strongly influenced by that provider’s social media connections, showing that patients trust health organizations with a social presence.

According to another report, 60 percent of doctors say social media improves the quality of care delivered to patients, which means that doctors also value the transparency and open communication that social media can provide.

With the opportunity to increase patient referrals and improve the quality of care, it’s no surprise that many health systems are jumping on the social media bandwagon.

Let’s take a look at a few ways using social media in healthcare can improve overall marketing efforts:

Engage With Patients in Real Time

One of the benefits of social media marketing in healthcare is enabling deeper and more meaningful discussions that address patient questions, concerns, and interests in real time.

The question is: How can healthcare marketers effectively use social media to communicate and engage with existing patients?

Health systems can facilitate patient empowerment by enabling and engaging in patient forums and research networks online. For example, PatientsLikeMe allows patients to manage their own health conditions by discussing treatments with patients who have similar conditions. Hospitals and other health networks can develop their own platforms that allow patients to share their experiences and receive support from similar individuals.

Along with forums, health systems can use social networking pages to encourage patient discussions. For example, Children’s Mercy uses their Facebook page as way to showcase their reputation as a renowned care center. “Locally, Children’s Mercy wants parents to know their kids are in good hands. Social is a good way to share news and feature CMH doctors and patients,” according to PR Director Jake Jacobson.

This video is a part of Children’s Mercy’s “Big Slick KC” promotion for their annual fundraiser. Posts like these are able to raise awareness for the health system’s Cancer Center, share patient stories, and urge people to donate.

According to the Journal of Health Management, “When patients tell their stories, their friends see that and the likelihood of spreading the message increases many-fold.”

To successfully engage patients on social media forums or networking sites, organizations must regularly monitor these platforms to respond to patients in a timely manner, as well as ensure fresh, engaging content is added often to keep patients interested. 

Facilitate Physician Collaboration

Healthcare marketers can also use social media channels to encourage physician alignment and collaboration. Texas Health, a network of 25 hospitals that employs 5,500 physicians, created an enterprise social network to help physicians communicate and work with one another in overcoming challenges posed by the work environment, such as EHR requirements.

As a result of this networking initiative, the health system saw improved physician collaboration, in addition to a shorter learning period and greater acceptance of using social media tools.

Why should healthcare marketers be concerned with improving physician alignment and collaboration?

Social media is an easy way for physicians to find and connect with other health professionals, even those outside of their own health system or hospital. Physicians can also share their knowledge or research to benefit other providers.

Overall, these practices improve physicians’ knowledge and willingness to work as a team. The more informed and educated a health system’s physicians are, the happier patients will be with their experience and the quality of care provided.

Ultimately, healthcare marketers should strive to provide patients with better experiences in order to foster loyalty, retention, and positive word-of-mouth referrals. Improving physician engagement and alignment is one way to do so.

Support Population & Preventative Health Initiatives

Since many social media sites are public communication platforms that can reach a wide breadth of individuals, healthcare organizations can use this marketing tactic to support broader population health and preventative health initiatives.

One way to do this is to communicate educational information about health events and crises. Lee Aase of Mayo Clinic and Shannon Dosemagen of Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, say “organizations can use social media to distribute time-sensitive health information, promote information sharing to encourage behavioral changes (including corrective changes during potential health crises), be a platform for conversation between agencies and constituents (rather than just as an information provider), and allow the public to provide useful information and feedback.”


Healthcare organizations can also use social media as a platform to distribute information about common health conditions, diseases, and other public health issues in the hopes of preventing these occurrences.

As John Weston, CMO of Mayo Clinic notes, “We leverage the rich content we have to provide consumers with information about diseases and conditions, even when it is likely they may never become a patient. We view this as part of our moral responsibility—to share our knowledge and expertise to benefit others.”

Final Thoughts

Though social media does provide the opportunity for healthcare organizations to reach large consumer and patient populations, marketers need to be mindful of maintaining HIPAA compliance and other privacy regulations on these public platforms.

Providers can maintain the trust of patient-provider relationships by staying far away from patient information and establishing a professional presence. Keeping this in mind, social media in healthcare has the potential to improve patient engagement, drive physician alignment, and foster a healthier society overall.


- See more at:

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How do young adults engage with online health information?

How do young adults engage with online health information? | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |
Sarah Knowles explores a qualitative study of young adults' perspectives on producing and consuming user-generated content about diabetes and mental health.

Via Marie Ennis-O'Connor
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Healthcare Social Media: Five Tips to Get Started 

1. What is the cost of a strong social media presence?

Unless your healthcare organization is using a paid advertising option, there typically isn’t a dollar and cents cost associated with social media sites themselves. And the more your audience builds, the bigger your reach.  That’s the good news. But there are ‘hidden’ costs to consider. When estimating the impact to your organization to have a consistent social media presence, be sure to factor in the time, energy, attention, and staff  needed to maintain your sites. It’s important to have the big picture.

2. Maintain a consistent schedule

Beware all posters and bloggers. Nothing is more disconcerting than a “past-due” or “expired” social media presence. There shouldn’t be a perception of neglect or expiration in your posts, blogs or tweets. An inconsistent, unreliable presence can do more harm than good, making consumers think they might be neglected as well. Don’t begin posting and blogging on a schedule that you aren’t able to maintain.

3. Know your audience

Healthcare organizations shouldn’t try to be all things to all people. Turn your focus towards the social media platforms used by the consumers you want to attract, retain and connect with. Just as you carefully examine patients, dissect what social media tools your target audiences are posting on, using as resources and reading. Don’t attempt to be a social media presence everywhere. Choosing a few key sites, and managing them consistently well, is better than trying to be one-size-fits-all for patients.

4. Use a soft touch

Social media is not intended to be a hard-sell of your healthcare organization’s services. Consumers can see right through that and you’ll lose their interest, and more importantly, their trust. Social media is meant to be much more subtle than that.

5. Engage your audience

Aim to connect the head to the heart. Leveraging your online presence by facilitating connected relationships, encouraging more meaningful involvement and promoting greater visibility will be more powerful. You want to engage your audience and build a relationship while instilling loyalty to your healthcare organization and its workers.

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Do’s and Don’ts for Your Personal Social Media Accounts

Do’s and Don’ts for Your Personal Social Media Accounts | SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEALTH |

It may seem like social media accounts you use for your healthcare practice and the ones you have for personal use can be run totally separately, but in a time where everything is connected and anyone can look up anyone else online, your personal social media networks need to be run as thoughtfully and effectively as your healthcare practice’s.

It’s important to think of your medical or dental practice as a brand. Even though you’re marketing it separately through your healthcare marketing strategies, what you put out on your personal social media accounts represents your brand as well, since it can be connected to your practice.

Here are some strategies to remember when you’re posting to your personal accounts:

DO Promote Your Practice

Promoting your medical or dental practice on your social media accounts is a great way to market your practice and promote it to a separate audience. Retweet or share relevant posts from your practice on a regular basis to build your brand and share your expertise.

DON’T Engage in Controversial Discussions

When it comes to social media, it’s best to stay out of controversial discussions, whether they’re about politics, religion, race or anything else that may be offensive to someone else. These discussions can quickly get heated on the Internet, so to avoid alienating current or potential patients and referrals it’s best to stay out of these conversations in public spaces.

DO Share With the Community

Sharing some personal information about your family, your interests and your hobbies can help create a more personal connection with your and your followers (i.e. current and potential patients and referrals).

DON’T Over-Share

However, there is a limit to how much you should share on social media. You can’t always control who looks at your profiles, so be mindful of the amount of personal information you share. Avoid venting over your personal social media channels as well, as this type of communication is often seen as bad form and can put off others.

DO Review Your Posts

As you would with your business accounts, it’s important to review your posts before sending them. Whether you want to muse on whether or not to share a tidbit of personal information or want to make sure your spelling and grammar are correct, take a bit of time to think about your post before committing.

DON’T Breach Social Media Etiquette

Be sure to keep all your activity on social media in line with the spoken and unspoken rules – stay respectful, stay positive
and make sure you get permission before or give credit when you share someone else’s work.

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