Establishing a digital presence is rapidly becoming a necessity for healthcare professionals, medical practices, and institutions. Many have recognized this fact, yet many more have not.
At its heart, digital media is about people, it is about relationships, and it is about communication. A social media presence is about educating, engaging and growing your audience, improving outcomes, compliance and potentially the bottom line of your practice.
Human beings are innately social, health is social, health care is not social … yet.
Physicians used to enjoy the ability to get to know their patients and the stories they had to tell. The pressures brought on by fiscal, policy and political will has changed that. We knew our patients, their families, the impact their issue was having on their quality of life as well as relevant important events in our patient’s lives. There are those that believe that technology drives a wedge between the patient and the physician. Alongside the other advantages noted, I strongly argue that the proper understanding and use of digital media can aid us in recovering that relationship we once enjoyed and cherished.
According to a recent AMA study, which also cites a study by the Pew Internet Research Group, in 2011, nearly 80% of Internet users, or 60% of all adults, have searched online for health information. These empowered or engaged patients are not just using the Internet to become more educated about their orthopedic issues, but they are actively seeking advice as well as support. Currently, the source of this “advice and content comes from a few engaging providers, a few engaging institutions, but most patients are exposed to a significant amount of commercialized nonsense driven by a profit motive.
Simply put, social networking and digital technology enables individuals, physicians, hospitals, and patients to create online profiles and connect with one another. Perhaps most relevant to the orthopedic surgeon is that the majority of these patients are researching their surgeon and their respective institutions prior to their visit to your office — they are checking your online reputation, and the message or image you portray.
Some simple undisputed facts about digital media and technology. 50% of the world’s population is under 30. They do not communicate via e-mail or telephone. Generation Y and generation Z consider e-mail passé. The fastest growing segment on Facebook is women over 55 years of age. SMS, direct messaging, micro-blogging and digital media is fast becoming the chosen communication standard.
Physicians may be early adopters of certain enabling technologies, such as the iPad — but they lag way behind when considering how to use technology to communicate and collaborate professionally. Most physicians have not adopted or shown an interest in engaging their patients anywhere except within the confines of their office. Only the oil refinery business lags healthcare in digital media adoption. Despite the fact that email is giving way to more useful forms of communication, and despite the fact that 65% of patients have noted that they are willing to switch to a physician who is willing to engage them utilizing digital communications — most physicians have yet to adopt the use of electronic communications with their patients. They believe, sometimes in error that HIPAA prevents email communications with their patients.
If Facebook were country, it would be the world’s third largest. Facebook’s traffic tops Google’s on a weekly basis in the United States. One in five couples meet online, one in five divorces are blamed on Facebook. What happens in Vegas, stays on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr … forever. Kindergarteners are learning on iPads. A new member joins LinkedIn every second. The numbers are impressive and the adoption rates show no signs of slowing down
50% of the mobile Internet traffic in most countries is for Facebook. One on five patients flock to Facebook for healthcare information.Imagine what this means for a bad patient experience. The world has gone digital, social media is here to stay. 1 billion people simply cannot be wrong. 85% of people log onto their Facebook account every single day. Are they talking about you? And, most importantly, do you know what they are saying?
Google is the number one search engine in the world; YouTube is nearly the second largest search engine in the world. If Wikipedia were made into a book, it would be 2 million pages long.
Do you still believe this is a passing fad?
Over 76% of consumers trust peer recommendations, either through social networks or more traditional means of communications. This compares to only 14% of consumers who have been shown to trust advertisements. In the past, word of mouth recommendations occurred offline at parties or dinners with friends. Today’s hyper-connected world brought forth by digital communications has tremendously increased the magnitude, rapidity and reach of those who have something to say about you or your practice.
A recent survey by the National Research Corporation found that 41% of patients look for medical content from social media sites, and 94% of those patients turn to Facebook. What percent of your patients are on Facebook? Are they reading your content? Do they know how to find your practice? Do you know what they’re saying about you? Perhaps you should.
Digital or social media even impacts our off-line behavior. Researchers at MIT have discovered that having a deeply integrated social network can effect positive behavioral changes. Numerous other researchers have confirmed these findings.
Ready to dive in?
The question is really not do we do social media? The question is how well do we do social media; what are our goals? What is our message? Who is our audience? How do we reach them? How do we establish our digital presence — and how does this change the way we communicate and engage our patients, potential patients, caregivers and colleagues?
The return of investment of a digital media presence, in my opinion, is quite simple. Your business will remain relevant in five years. There have been few studies published on the impact of a social media presence on the satisfaction surveys of existing patients, and studies which show that a digital presence can account for upwards of 15-20% of new patients entering your practice. My own data (available upon request) shows that I receive more than 10 new patients inquires a because of my online presence. That is not necessarily driven by my presence on platforms such as Twitter or Facebook. Most patients note on many of the surveys I conduct that they found the videos and content on my site to be engaging and “comforting” when they were considering who to see for their orthopedic related issues.
Ed Bennett, Director of Web Strategy at the University of Maryland Healthcare System and a fellow Advisory Board Member of the Mayo Clinic for Social Media has been tracking the presence of physicians and hospitals on social media platforms for many years. Over the last few years there has been a significant jump in the number of healthcare professionals appearing on digital media stage. Physicians are beginning to get the message. They are starting to understand the opportunities that a deep digital presence presents them with. Early adopters have a significant first to market advantage, if your strategy is executed properly.
Even though studies reveal that most physicians participate in social media in some form or another in a personal capacity. From a professional perspective there exist many reasons why physicians are hesitant to engage on the social media stage. Perhaps it is naïveté, fear, the lack of practical, actionable, and relevant social or digital guidelines put forth by our professional organizations, and perhaps most important, is the misunderstanding that it is too time consuming and will not contribute to their practices’ bottom line revenue growth.
In 2011 it is simply no longer advisable to simply have a static, template driven online “presence” or no presence at all. In today’s fast-paced world of digital communications, you must be where your potential patients chose to be. You must be in a position for them to find you on the platforms that they have chosen to use. Perhaps a marketer or perhaps your practice manager suggested that you establish a website and a digital presence. How’s that working out for you? Does your marketer or practice manager understand the ranking algorithms that Google uses? Did they engage you and understand what your goals were? What your message is? Who your audience is? Were policies and guidelines put in place not only for physicians’ activity, but for staff members and even for patients, in terms of a comment policy? Is someone actively monitoring your presence (reputation) online? Someone should be. Whether it is you, a member of your staff or an outside trusted consultant, you must know what is being said about you in the digital arena.
If your activities are being driven by a marketing “professional,” do they understand that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and that short videos are favored by many, as opposed to reading long text content? Do they understand how information is shared in the digital world? Perhaps most important to you as a physician, is not only how to properly position your practice so that people can find you … but that one of the key underpinnings of your strategy is to understand the impact all of this could have on your practice’s reputation. You have seen thousands of patients. You have restored the quality of life of many. It took you years to develop your reputation. In today’s fast-paced digital world that reputation can evaporate in a moment. Having a deep online presence is literally the only means to manage your online reputation; the best defensive is a great offense; drive positive, accurate content to counteract the inevitable negative comments that will arise on sites such as HealthGrades, Vitals, and Yelp.
Each and every physician who chooses to establish a digital presence will do so for different reasons. For the vast majority of you, your main goals will be to increase your patient load, improve your office efficiency and streamline your practice workflows. Some of you may choose to enter the digital world in stealth mode simply to monitor your online reputation. Opportunities, for those who are interested, expand way beyond these limited, productive, and worthwhile goals.
The most meaningful reason to establish a presence is that patients can find you and perhaps learn a bit more about your perspective, approach and rapport with your patient base. Second would be your ability to replicate the content that you share with forty or more patients every day in your office. Why not convert that to print form and benefit from the fact that that content is now available to anyone who wishes to read it? There is far too much commercialized nonsense bombarding our patients online. We can go a long way to drowning out a lot of the worthless content that Google references for a typical orthopedic search. Some of the other more meaningful reasons to be present in digital media include establishing a robust two way communications portal with your patients. Providing patients with the ability to connect to or engage with your practice. Other reasons to establish an online presence include providing your patients with meaningful content, sharing health-related information with your patients, managing your reputation, humanizing the healthcare encounter, sharing news about recent talks you may have given, mentioning community outreach programs that you are running, and certainly offering customer service initiatives that consumers have grown accustomed to.
The solution to pollution is dilution! How many times did we hear that in residency? It rings more true than ever in our digitally connected and online global society.
Online reputation management is the process of monitoring, addressing, and mitigating what is said about you on a search engine. Comments from dissatisfied patients, posted to blogs, Facebook pages, or websites, such as HealthGrades.com, can directly affect the public’s perception of the physician and your practice. It is simply no longer acceptable from a viability perspective, to ignore what is being said about you online. Reputations are being built, managed, and potentially lost or degraded at a very rapid pace, given today’s environment. And while many healthcare professionals and physicians fear that by engaging in social media platforms opens the floodgates for negativity and potential public relation nightmares, that thinking could not be farther from the truth; social media is the only way to protect your online reputation and head off negativity before they become online PR nightmares.
As mentioned previously, peer to peer recommendations carry far more weight than any traditional media campaigns. You need to enable your patients to tell their stories, to share their experiences with others and thus provide you with the most valuable form of advertising available. The patient’s experience with you and your staff is a critical component of a practice building initiative in this day and age.
Our own internal reviews and patient surveys bear this out. Physicians, who routinely rank poorly in our surveys, have many poor reviews on these sites. These also tend to be some of the worst performing physicians from a private referral or RVU perspective. It is therefore incumbent on everyone in the group to be on board with a reputation management engagement. Every member of your staff needs to understand that their behavior can affect the entire group’s reputation.
No matter how wonderful you are, you will never make each and every patient happy. Although most comments on these ranking sites tend to be positive, there are a fair number of negative comments as well. Don’t think that only dissatisfied patients with a grudge are going online to discuss you and your practice. What recourse do you have, if any, if a patient posts a poor comment about you or your group online?
Reputation management is by far one of the most meaningful reasons why physicians should be online today. There are at least four major physician ranking organizations that are most likely topping a Google search of your name. What are your patients saying about you online, do you know? You should!
The cornerstone of reputation management is simply the knowledge of what’s being said about you online. Google enables you to do this in a very simple manner. You simply set up a Google Alert for your name, your partners’ names, your assistance names, as well as your practice name. Every day Google will let you know if something has been said about you online.
Now that you’re aware of what’s being said online. What are you able to do if in fact you find content is not particularly complimentary. Therein lies one of the most important reasons— even for the most skeptical of surgeons out there — to have a deep digital presence. That simple reason is that you will drown out or dilute content or comments that exist on many of these physician grading platforms when a patient performs a Google search of your name.
Online reputation management is primarily driven by search engine results. If you do not have an online presence and your website does not produce or offer content, which ranks well utilizing Google’s algorithms, then your ability to drive down, or drown out any negative reviews is non-existent.
If you have an evolving, progressive, Web 2.0 compliant website which enables sharing (which significantly boosts your search engine optimization), then when you Google your name or your practice’s name you will find that any untoward comments have been pushed down off the first page of a Google search. More than 40% of people do not go beyond the first page of a Google search. Nearly 85% or more do not go below the second page. If you “own” your online existence, and if you “own” your message, these negative comments will not go away. People will simply not find them.
The two most common obstacles or roadblocks to establishing a digital presence is simply the lack of understanding of how it can affect your practice … and then once you have reached that point you are not sure how to do move forward. Winston Churchill once said ”People like to change, they dislike being changed.” Hopefully I’ve provided you with enough proof that a digital presence is necessary, or at the very least meaningful, yet how do you go about actually establishing a web 2.0 compliant presence in the world of social and digital media? Unfortunately there are very very few tactical or practical resources or guidelines available to physicians who wish to undertake this endeavor on their own. Most “professionals” simply do not understand the healthcare space, nor do they understand how to properly “interact” in the world of social health.
Planning for social media engagement
Like anything other endeavor you’ve undertaken in developing your practice strategy, you’ve gone through a thorough planning, and due diligence phase. Before you dive in to the world of digital media it is extremely important to begin with a very clear outline and strategy in place. Proper preparation begins offline. You need to define your goals. Is your goal to attract new patients, manage your online reputation, or simply to expand your referral network? It’s simply not enough to have a presence in social media; somehow it needs to tie in with your overall marketing objectives. You need to be able to articulate clearly what you hope to achieve through a social media engagement. You need to consider your limited bandwidth and determine how much time you will be able to commit, and who else in your office can or will be participating. This can help in determining just how many digital media properties you can manage. You need to carefully assess not only yourself, but your staff, and each other’s core competencies, roles and ability to contribute to your network.
Establishing a set of clearly articulated guidelines is a must. While there are many guides out there to assist you in creating disclaimers, and guidelines, I would strongly recommend consulting a legal entity well versed in this area. In addition, roles are divvied out to know who’s going to monitor the various platforms you have chosen to establish a presence on. For patients or people who choose to engage, you need to establish a clear comment policy, which will include prominent disclaimers so that your patients or potential patients clearly understand what the rules of the game are in terms of engaging with your practice. Enabling two way communications will drive business to your practice, but should be considered a relatively advanced offering. Concentrate on mastering your foundation. When you choose who is going to help you set up your website, or profile, be sure that the developers clearly understand that this may be something you will choose to “open up” as your comfort level improves and your desire to engage develops.
A frequently overlooked aspect of establishing your online presence is exactly how you wish to frame your message. You need to define your message, develop your message, and know how to articulate your message — and most important, you need to stay on message. Your message can simply be a list of your offerings, and the content you’ve supplied to bolster the public’s confidence in your ability to handle their orthopedic issue. Many physicians have initiated blogs to keep other physicians, patients and potential patients aware of the impact of the onslaught of regulations and changes we are soon to face as the healthcare landscape “matures”. You may have a particular interest in one or more complex orthopedic problems that other surgeons are reluctant to handle. Patients need to know that. They need to know first and foremost that you exist, and second that you are capable of dealing with their complex issue. This can be a powerful driver to your website from a “long tail” search SEO perspective. Many people who search online do so in a sentence structure. “Is surgery necessary for my meniscus tear, ” is a good example of a long tail search; as opposed to simply searching “meniscus tear”, which is considered a short tail keyword search. Competing in the short tail keyword search area is expensive and not productive for small practices. In long tail search, there are not a lot of searches for those keywords–but when a search is initiated–you have a very good chance of that patient finding you!
Once you have decided to commit the time, money and resources to establishing a digital presence, you need to commit to staying on course, and cultivate and manage that presence. This is not nearly as time consuming as you may believe. One of the worst things that you could possibly do is to establish a presence on a platform that is meant for engagement or two-way communication, yet you fail to respond when someone reached out or commented on one of digital media properties. Your website, Facebook Page, Twitter account or blog do not need to be updated frequently. You should not feel rushed or fearful that you need to produce content on a daily basis. However, your Google Alerts and comment sections do need to be monitored daily for comments, posts and opportunities to further engage with the patients who are reaching out to you. Remember, quality matters far more than quantity.
The very basic tenet of establishing a network or digital presence is to establish a foundation, a core or a home base? Given the multitude of platforms and tools available today, your core presence can be a website, a blog, a Facebook Page, or a robust profile page on one of the many Q&A based sites appearing these days. Sites such as Twitter and Facebook function by allowing us to share and interact with the rest of the world. But to interact on Twitter or Facebook, it is best to have a website with great content to link back to. By having a robust website, or blog, you will have meaningful content to share. Although, not absolutely necessary websites or blogs are the most productive and scalable alternatives when considering what your home base should be. That said, it will only take you 15 minutes to build out a robust profile on a site such as Avvo.com; you can try this for a few weeks or months and see whether or not you feel you are ready to scale your presence, and then proceed with the development of a website.
After assisting countless physicians and organizations in establishing a digital presence I usually witness an awakening which typically occurs as the fact that the technologies, applications, and platforms that exist today limit your costs, and merge seamlessly — so that your time commitment can be kept to a minimum. A personal commitment of an hour or two a week is usually all that’s necessary. By engaging staff members, medical students, marketing interns, and other interested members of your staff — you will find it is not difficult to not only establish, but maintain and grow an active digital presence.
In order to execute on your game plan, you first need to establish your core presence online. Ideally, the foundation or the backbone of your online presence is your website. I strongly suggest you do not utilize a template driven (cheap) website with pre-populated content. Google does not like to see the same content on multiple different sites. Google actually penalizes you for duplicate content and your site simply will not rank with Google and other search engines. Populating your website with custom meaningful content is a lot easier than you currently believe. I utilize what I call your “41st patient” initiative. There is no need to change your current workflow and your time commitment is minimal at best. If you look at your content needs from a very simple strategic perspective, 85% of your business is generated by only a few, limited number of conditions. To utilize the 41st Patient concept, I suggest implementing the following strategy; at the end of the day after you have dictated your note on your 40th patient, you simply pick up your dictaphone, and you dictate a small blurb on a particular subject, say, meniscal tears. Your dictation on the first day is simply, ‘What is a Meniscus?” Your dictation on your next office day is … ”What is a Meniscus Tear,” and so on. Within 2 months you have all the content you need for a dynamic, custom, professional appearing website. These dictations are then sent to your website developer or perhaps a staff member who can then place them in the appropriate position on your website.
Perhaps you feel that you have a unique message that you want to get across to your patients? Either adding a blog to your existing site, or simply using a blogging platform such as Blogger, Posterous or WordPress will suit your needs just fine. You may find that a blog may fit quite well into your framework, depending on your desires. While I strongly recommend you utilize the WordPress platform, the other mentioned are equally as simple to set up. If you are not familiar with WordPress, it is a very user-friendly, vibrant, easy to customize platform that most web developers utilize today. Not only that, you need absolutely no programming knowledge to be able to edit existing text, add posts, videos, pictures, or testimonials — and perform a fair amount of search engine optimization on your own. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a term used to describe how your content or pages will rank among other content pages discussing the same topics. There are some very basic simple strategies that you can learn so that your website will be visible to people searching online, at least on a local scale from a geographic perspective. Proper use of key words, understanding the difference between short and long tail searches and proper “tagging” is a skill set you can develop in a matter of days.
Stepping onto the healthcare social media stage
You have spent the time, money and resources to build out your foundation. Now you possess the capability to place your content where your patients or potential patients “reside” — online. You now need to determine which platforms you want to have a presence on, and you need to understand the differences between them. You may want to share your content on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr (photographs) which are by far the most common, and offer you the most bang for your efforts. Hopefully during the formative and execution phase of your digital media strategy, you may have established a Twitter account (a passive presence just for monitoring) and a Facebook Page as well. There are many tools and programs available that can automatically share your content from your website or blog to your various social media properties, on a regularly scheduled basis. This eases you of the burden of having to manually publish your content to these social platforms and they are an enormously efficient way to grow your network. There are a number of social media aggregating platforms such as HootSuite.com, and Tweetdeck.com. The benefit of these aggregating platforms is simply that you post one message and it will populate all of your social media properties … in seconds.
Once comfortable on Twitter or Facebook, you need to realize that all of your interactions with your patients do not need to be based on your original content. There are very simple efficient ways to share current news or interesting articles as well with your network. Let’s say you want to share an orthopedic related news article with your patients via Facebook or Twitter. With a Google Reader account you can very easily define a set of search terms, and every morning Google delivers you a list of the articles that meet your search criterion. Utilizing an aggregating platform such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, you can now share that information with your network of patients, or potential patients with a single click … done! Now you have put that timely useful information in front of your patients where they reside in the digital world.
Before posting to twitter, Facebook, or YouTube I strongly suggest you spend just a little time understanding how these platforms work, how people utilize them to communicate or share, and that you keep in the back of your mind that you never want to share anything on these platforms that you would not want your worst enemy to see. Keep in mind; you never want to share any personal health information of any patient specific information online. Once you’ve developed a certain comfort level on these platforms, and you also understand how people are utilizing them; then you can sit down with your staff and broaden your outreach by opening up on the dialogue with these powerful social media properties. Welcome on stage.
The rapid dissemination and pace of our digitally connected world extends to our patients. Many are online–and most are looking for information about you! You need to be in control of that message and you need to know what they are saying about you. Social media is not a passing fad. It is here to stay and the number of new platforms coming online is increasing at a dramatic pace. Even the government recognizes the importance of these new online tools and will be utilizing patient driven data to support its value based initiatives; the medical environment in which we practice is evolving rapidly over the next few years and we have to be prepared. Early adopters gain a significant advantage over their competitors (even Google ranks older content higher), but this should not be an endeavor that you rush into without proper preparation and planning. The time is now to consider how a digital presence can assist you in assuring your practices viability and relevance as the healthcare landscape matures and adapts to the changes that digital media offers.
Howard Luks is an orthopedic surgeon who blogs at his self-titled site, Howard J. Luks, MD
10/15/2011 From the
iPads in the Hospital
Yesterday we all thought the new iPhone 5 was supposed to debut, but Apple had other plans and decided to release the iPhone 4S. As with almost all of Apple’s announcements people were all a buzz and were bummed when there was no iPhone 5. As a result Apple’s stocks slipped a bit due to our high expectations for an iPhone 5.
During the announcement Tim Cook made a statement that caused my ears to perk up and completely directed my attention away from the iPhone. Cook said, “Over 80 percent of the top hospitals in the US are now testing or piloting iPad.” Wow! That is a lot of hospitals using or soon to be using iPads.
While Android still is the dominant phone (43% of the market vs. Apple’s 28%), Apple is the dominant tablet device with 74% of the tablet shipments. What does this mean for hospitals that are not looking at iPads? If the vast majority of institutions are going to be using iPads then I would assume the vast majority of medical programs will be developed for the iPad first, leaving other tablet devices for later (if at all).
Perhaps Cook’s statement was hype or overexaggerated. I have seen no independent verification of the statistic. But if you look at the fact that Yale is providing iPads to medical students, Harvard is creating apps for medical students to use on both iOS and Android, and the Mayo Clinic doctors use the iPad to access patient information, dictate notes, etc., it is clear top medical schools and hospitals are definitely using the devices. So, you’ve got to wonder if those not considering the device are doing themselves an IT disservice.
I would love to have an iPad. I get more and more questions about apps and other medical resources from doctors who use their own iPad without insitutional support (they can’t use it to get on the Intranet to access resources). I help them the best that I can. Right now I am not buying my own iPad because I have no clear direction as to what device (if any) my insitution will support. Since they don’t support Outlook for iPhone or Android, I am not holding my breath for the iPad. Posted by KraftyLibrarian – October 5, 2011 at 1:20 pm
And from Dr. Kevin, MD blog:
Allison A. Greco is a medical student who blogs at MD2B
8/18/2011 Dr. Burgert analyzes the effects of social networking on her pediatric practice on the blog:
How social media has changed my medical practice
Last summer, I joined millions of others in the deluge of social media. I committed one year of effort to see if social would enhance or distract from my pediatric practice.
That was my goal, just one year.
At that time, I wanted to dip my foot in the pool, and see if it made any ripples. The unexpected consequence was how much social media has changed my medical practice, and me. Ripples have returned as tidal waves.
My practice has seen tangible, real valuable benefits. I have been intellectually challenged, and have professionally grown.
For my practice:
- Increasing new patient traffic is creating revenue for our group.I average 1 new patient family per week who came because of our social media presence. I know this because they tell me, “I am here to see you today because I found you on Facebook,” or “I found your blog.”
- 52 patients a year x $2700 (average pediatric care for 0-24 mon.) = $140,000 of average billable income over two years.
- Creating information has added to my “search-ability” in search engines. All my work is available publicly and with fully disclosed authorship, so new patients can find me with ease.
- Investing time in relevant and complete posts actually saves me time in the long run. Questions I am repeatedly asked, like “How do I start solid foods?“, can be answered quickly and completely by directing them to my site. This saves face-to-face clinic time for more specific concerns for their child.
- I have created opportunities to make my families lives easier by using the tech at their fingertips.
- Selectively following leaders in the field of pediatrics has allowed me to refresh and update my knowledge daily. The lead article in medical journals, the newest recall, the updated reports are in my information stream. Sharing the headlines and reports that will most assist my patients continues the information stream in real time.
- I can get help for my patients across the country through online professional connections, and I have experts at my fingertips who can help me answer questions.
- Being part of the health social media and blogging community has given me a connection and an outlet. I can express myself as a physician and a mom, creating a “professional diary” of my life.
- I have met amazing people with big ideas and bigger hearts, who inspire and challenge me daily.
- I have seen a glimpse of how big an effect a group of vocal health writers can have; how active advocates can act to correct falsehoods and incorrect reporting. I am a part of a movement; a way that healthcare is changing.
- I unexpectedly found how one purpose could be defined, in such a short amount of time.
For my patient families:
- I can actively communicate, acknowledge, and positively influence the choices that my families make for their children between the checkups. My anticipatory guidance can be repeated, reinforced, and repeated again.
- New websites, blogs, and apps are constantly being added to our fingertips. After review, I can refer my patients to some really cool, applicable tech options to better care for their kids. I would never know about this stuff if I was not involved with social.
- I can act as a “filter” to promote the good and refute the bad.
- I can be a source of reliable, real information.
But what is all of this really about?
- It’s about the mom who comes to me at the 18-month check up and tells me her child’s car seat is still rear-facing.
- It’s about the dad who tells me he went to the health department and got a TDaP before his new son was born.
- It’s about the complete stranger who sees me in my office building and says, “Are you Dr. Natasha? Thanks for writing about kids and fever. I had some questions and it came at just the right time.”
The beauty of social is that I never talked with these parents about these health and safety issues. Parents made good decisions for their families after getting the information. Period. That’s all they needed, and that’s all it took.
Offering online authenticity, genuine concern, and experience (sprinkled with a bit of sound medical knowledge) has created an amazingly powerful platform, and helpful practice tool.
Although using social media does has some undefined, grey areas to navigate; for me one thing is clear, my goal of one year has been extended until further notice.
Natasha Burgert is a pediatrician who blogs at KC Kids Doc.
08/01/2011 From Health Is Social: Infusing Social Media Into Healthcare, comes these observations from Phil Baumann
Published by Phil Baumann in Healthcare Social Media on July 28th, 2011
There’s a misunderstanding about “social media in Healthcare. This misunderstanding explains why discussions and applications have been going around in circles. Let me explain (I may expand my thoughts in a future post.)
Social Media (versus social media – lower case) is the amalgamation of: Technology, Ideology, Culture, Psychology, History, Philosophy, Science, Humanity, and Stupidity. (Yes, it’s ok the say Stupidity.)
When asking, for instance, “how can we use social media in healthcare”, we’re asking a Technological question. Technique. (Google “Techne”.)
But we’re not just dealing with Technology. And we’re not just talking about “the conversation” and “being social”.
No, we’re dealing with the wide and deep and ramifying consequences of a whole new layer encapsulating our world. We are dealing with a moment in geological time where the entire spectrum of History – social eruptions, wars, cultural shifts, etc. – are going to transpire within a single loci: a kind of strangulation of selective pressures. A new bottleneck – and we may not get through it. If we do, we will reach a new level of the ascent of the human being.
Healthcare Social Media, therefore, requires an apprehension of sociological dynamics, business re-thinking, the nature of revolutions and the consequences of momentous change.
None of us will grasp these in their full. Some of us get it more than others, but no single individual or group will acquire complete gnosis.
The crowning achievement of our species is the Question Mark.
If you care about health and it’s progress, you’re wise to spend less time figuring out how to use Twitter or Google fricken Plus and a whole lot more time questioning the living hell out of our world.
From the Huffington Post Barbara Ficarra brings us this article on social networking and modernmedicine. “It allows doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to collaborate, connect and engage with the community and their colleagues.” It all has to do with connectiveness the theme of this year’s ACRL Conference. So who is using social media? Read on to find out. You will notice that several of the doctor bloggers that she mentions as sources have had articles in these pages.
Social Networking On The Front Line Of New Modern Medicine
by Barbara Ficarra , RN, BSN, MPA, Journalist, Founder Healthin30.com, Media Broadcaster
Comprehensive Guide for Medical Professionals and Patients Engaging in Social Media
Social networking offers value. It allows doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to collaborate, connect and engage with the community and their colleagues. I recently talked with Dr. Marc Siegel about Medical Social Networking on FOX NEWS Live. I wish we had more time; they edited segment was 6 minutes and 17 seconds.
In this post, I give examples of medical professionals and hospitals engaging in social media, useful health sites and online communities for patients and more. Below, I answer the questions:
- How are medical professionals using social media to improve patient care?
- Are hospitals embracing social media?
- Why are patients so receptive to social media?
- Why do patients engage in health communities and what kinds of communities are out there for patients looking for support?
- What is the best advice for patients to get the most out of their health care?
Social Media is a powerful and phenomenal platform to educate patients. Social Media can help raise awareness of health issues and it offers a forum to collaborate and connect. Social Media gives a voice to patients and it allows for the conversation to get started with their doctors and other health care professionals.
Health information is communicated in real-time and in a transparent style. Health Care is about the patient, the most important member of the health care team. Patients want accurate, trustworthy and transparent health information. Social media allows doctors and other health professionals to engage and share information. Social Media is all about connection, collaboration, community, respect and patient engagement and empowerment.
“Twitter offers an opportunity for doctors to provide instant feedback, faster than they can even from blogging. This can range from providing updates on surgery, which Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital has done, to giving opinions on the latest, breaking studies. Twitter can provide more transparency to what goes on in the physician’s world, and allow both patients and other doctors to interact with one another in a quick, convenient way.” -Kevin Pho, MD
Q&A on Social Media: Medical Social Networking
How are medical professionals using social media to improve patient care?
Some medical professionals are using social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, and Blogs to connect with patients to share trusted and accurate health information and to empower patients to be proactive in their health. Others use it to simply collaborate with colleagues by exchanging journal articles and some medical professionals use it to “brand” their practice or highlight their latest book.
There are outstanding doctors, nurses and other health professionals using social media.
To find out which doctors, nurses and other health professionals are using twitter you can find a comprehensive list of dynamic health professionals at Mashable and OrganizedWisdom. From dermatologists to endocrinologists to nurses, life coaches to health IT experts to health communicators and patient advocates; OrganizedWisdom lists these great groups of professionals plus many others.
Doctors, Nurses and Other Health Professionals (Only a few of the many outstanding medical professionals-in no particular order)-
Medical Professional/ Twitter Handle
Dr. Kevin Pho @KevinMD
Dr. Val Jones @DrVal
Dr. Howard Luks @hjluks
Dr. Bryan Vartabedian @Doctor_V
Dr. Alan Greene @AlanGreene
Dr. Jen Dyer @EndoGoddess
Dr. Bill Crounse @MicrosoftMD
Dr. Joseph Kim @DrJosephKim
Dr. Kent Bottles @KentBottles
Dr. Cesa @DrCesa
Dr. Deanna Attai @DrAttai
Dr. Mehmet Oz @DrOz
Dr. Heather @BabyShrink
Dr. Elif Oker @DrElifOker
Dr. Melanie Greenberg @DrMelanieG
Dr. Andy Baldwin @DrAndyBaldwin
Dr. Cynthia Bailey @CBaileyMD
Dr. Carol Torgan @ctorgan
Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson@SeattleMamaDoc
Dr. John La Puma @JohnLapuma
Dr. Krein @KreinMD
Dr. Chris Roseberry @DrCRoseberry
Dr. Alex Fair @FaircareMD
Dr. Mike Moore @michaelbmoore
PhilBaumann, RN @PhilBaumann
Ellen Richter, RN @EllenRichter
Matthew Browning, RN @MatthewBrowning
Paula Robinson, RN @PaulaRobinsonRN
Vernon Dutton, RN @NursingPins
Amy Drouin, RN @amyrnbsn
Shelly Webb, RN @ShelleyWebbRN
Donna Cardillo, RN @DonnaCardilloRN
Barbara Ficarra, RN @BarbaraFicarra
Health Journalists and Others/Twitter Handle
Gary Schwitzer @GarySchwitzer
Bob West @westr
Ed Bennett @EdBennett
Miriam E. Tucker @MiriamETucker
Mary Knudson @MaryKnudson
Matthew Holt @boltyboy
John Novack @J2Novack
Lee Aase @Leeaase
Additionally, Sean Gardner (@2morrowknight), Joyce Cherrier (@JoyceCherrier) and Sung Lee (@Sung_H_Lee) are great folks who tweet and retweet about health.
Are hospitals embracing social media?
Doctors, nurses and other health professionals aren’t the only ones using social media, some hospitals are embracing this powerful platform.
PR firm Burson-Marsteller studied the 100 largest companies in the Fortune 500 list and found that 79% of them use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or corporate blogs to communicate with customers and other stakeholders…Twitter is the most popular platform that the companies use; two-thirds of the Fortune 100 have at least one Twitter account. – Mashable
Big companies have a message to share and health care professionals can tap into what these fortune 500 companies are doing and learn from them. Medical professionals have a message to share as well — whether it’s sharing a blog post, communicating late breaking health news or simply sharing health information that can help improve lives or raise awareness; social media taps into the lightning fast world of real-time information.
If you’re wondering what hospitals are engaging in social media, Ed Bennett, web manager at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) complied a comprehensive list, the Hospital Social Network List.
Hospitals that use Social Networking tools – updated June 8, 2011
1,188 Hospitals total
* 548 YouTube Channels
* 1018 Facebook pages
* 788 Twitter Accounts
* 458 LinkedIn Accounts
* 913 Four Square
* 137 Blogs
3,952 Hospital Social Networking Sites
It’s easy to find hospitals by state that use Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, Blogs, Linkedin, and Foursquare.
For example, since I’m located in New York, I’m curious about which hospitals engage in social networking. According to Bennett’s list, there are 95 hospitals that are on the cutting-edge using social media to engage their patients. 45 of those are on You Tube, 85 are on FaceBook, 52 are on Twitter, 66 are on Linkedin, 79 use Foursquare, and 5 of these hospitals have blogs. When you click “New York” you will come across the comprehensive list of hospitals engaging in social media. I am surprised that there are not more hospitals with blogs. [1/11]
[Presently, there are 103 hospitals using social media in New York. 45 are on You Tube, 92 on FaceBook, 68 on Linkedin, 4 use Foursquare, and 6 have blogs.] [6/11]
The main reason that hospitals are engaging in social networking is because “they are doing it for the same reason most organizations get involved in social media; a desire to stay connected with their audiences,” says Ed Bennett in an email response. He added, “For hospitals that includes patients, physicians, researchers, and other health care professionals. They are using it to exchange information, promote best practices and be responsive to any issues that may arise.”
Since social media is such a powerful platform for hospitals to share information, why are hospitals not engaging in social media? “The primary reason is resources,” said Bennett. “Most of the hospitals doing social media are larger facilities. They have the resources and communications staff to do a good job with social media.”
After reviewing the list of hospitals that engage in social media, I was surprised to find that many hospitals are not using blogs; “staff and resources are the main factor” said Bennett. “It takes time to write and manage a blog.” Bennett encourages hospitals to begin with the popular social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter since they are easier to start using. “But even a small presence is important. The public is seeking reliable health information, and hospitals are in a unique position to provide accurate guidance.”
Why are patients so receptive to social media?
Patients are receptive to Social Media because today’s patients are smart and technology savvy.
Today’s modern patients are empowered and they are known as the “e-patient”– Dave deBronkart, (e-patient Dave) diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer quickly became engaged in the internet searching desperately for health information and support. He became an empowered and engaged patient surrounding himself with invaluable information and support.
Patients are using the internet to gather health information. In fact, in a Pew Internet Study, 60% of e-patients, access social media related to health.
Patients want a relationship with their doctors and health care providers. They don’t want to be told what to do; instead they want to work together with their providers to develop a plan that meets their needs.
I asked Dave about his experience as an e-patient. “I joined the online health communities and found affirmation that I was indeed at the right hospital, and I obtained firsthand experiences from other patients learning what they went through.” Enthusiastically and adamantly he said, “People search for information about everything else, why wouldn’t they search for health information to try to help themselves in a crisis.”
E-Patients and Patient Advocates/Twitter Handle
Dave de Bronkart @ePatientDave
Kerri marrone @sixuntilme
Donna R. Cryer @DCPatient
Jackie Fox @JackieFox12
Trisha Torrey @TrishaTorrey
Gilles Frydman @gfry
Regina Holliday @ReginaHolliday
Why do patients engage in health communities and what kinds of communities are out there for patients looking for support?
The reasons health consumers engage in health communities are simple.
They are looking for emotional and informational support. By engaging in online health communities many people find the emotional support they are looking for. They find reassurance from other people going through the same experience.
They can collaborate and share information. They gather health information from various sites to help them gain knowledge.
What does being part of the community at inspire.com achieve for patients? “We surveyed our members and asked them what they most value from participating in Inspire,” said Brian Loew, CEO and co-founder. “The two leading answers were almost a tie. The first is emotional support members provide one another, and the second is practical support regarding how to deal with aspects of their condition.”
Let us know what health communities you engage in. Share your insightful thoughts in the comment section below.
What is the best advice for patients to get the most out of their health care?
The best advice for patients is to be proactive in their health. It’s important to be an empowered patient and to always take charge of your health.
Communication is critical.
Patients need to have a good relationship with their doctors and other health care providers. They need to speak up and ask questions.
By searching online for health information, reading blogs from outstanding medical professionals, being part of patient online communities; can aid in helping patients learn the right questions to ask and to get the answers they need.
Be smart and savvy and be empowered — do your homework — research accurate and trusted sites — gather health information and talk to your doctor.
Social Media gives patients a voice and helps get the conversation started.
It’s important for doctors, nurses and other health professionals to understand that Google, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, health news and information sites and online patient community sites will not replace them. It’s simply a tool that offers additional information, and it allows the conversation to get started between health provider and patient. Doctors, nurses and other health providers need to engage in social media platforms to help educate the health consumer.
They have the power to provide accurate, reliable and truthful information. They should not shun away from the internet but embrace it and join forces with the health consumer. Partnering together is a very useful since patient empowerment and patient engagement is essential in the doctor/nurse-patient relationship.
Social Media starts the conversation, but face-to-face communication with your doctors and other health care professionals remains paramount.
If you’re still unsure about embracing social media, Phil Baumann offers a widespread list for the 140 health care uses for Twitter.
Helpful Sites for Medical Professionals and Hospitals:
Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media
CDC Social Media Tool Kit
AMA Policy: Professionalism in the Use of Social Media
New AMA Policy Helps Guide Physicians’ Use of Social Media
Lee Aase – Social Media University
Glen D. Gilmore, Esq.
Bryan Vartabedian, MD
Howard Luks, MD
Kevin Pho, MD
Barbara Ficarra, RN
Phil Baumann, RN
Robert West, PhD
A few trusted sites:
We would love to hear from you. Please share your insightful thoughts in the comment section below. If you’re a medical professional, are you embracing social media?
Health Consumers and patients, how do you engage in social networking? Is it helpful?
[Side note: The names mentioned above are only a few of the many wonder medical and health professionals engaged in social media.]
From the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media we get this article. See the YouTube video (link follows) called
The Doctor is Online: Physician Use, Responsibility, and Opportunity in the Time of Social Media
This is the article from the Mayo Clinic about the video for new physicians
Network Video Project to Prod Discussion on Physician Social Media Use
As recently graduated medical students are on the verge of beginning their residency programs, the Social Media Health Network is pleased to offer a resource to encourage awareness of and discussions relating to use of social media.
In “The Doctor is Online: Physician Use, Responsibility, and Opportunity in the Time of Social Media” — a project conceived by Dr. Bryan Vartabedian, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Texas Children’s Hospital who blogs at 33Charts — several experienced physicians who are also active in social media provide advice and insights to young doctors just beginning their residency training.
Dr. Vartabedian approached us at the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media in April to ask whether this might be an appropriate project for the Social Media Health Network. Together we invited Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson — a pediatrician blogger from Seattle who is a member of our Center for Social Media Advisory Board — and Dr. Katherine Chretienof George Washington University to join Dr. Victor Montori of Mayo Clinic — our medical director for the Center for Social Media — to share their insights.
I’m certain our physician participants will be sharing further thoughts in the discussion here, as well as on their own blogs. In the coming days we will also update this post with additional resources and links.
Meanwhile, we would appreciate your thoughts:
- What issues do you think are most important for physicians being involved in social media?
- What advice would you offer to young physicians on their use of social media? What are your top tips?
We look forward to starting a productive discussion on physician involvement in social media, and to your contributions to raising awareness of the issues and opportunities.
In this blog Stupple discusses the effect of social media on physicians/medical students
Using Facebook, Twitter and other social media to change health care
by Aaron J. Stupple 06/24/2011
Ten years on, Ian Morrison’s “Hamster Health Care: Time to Stop Running Faster and Redesign Health Care“ is still eminently applicable.
In his words:
Across the globe doctors are miserable because they feel like hamsters on a treadmill. They must run faster just to stand still. In … the managed care systems in the United States doctors feel that they have to see more patients to maintain their incomes. But systems that depend on everybody running faster are not sustainable. The answer must be to redesign health care.
Looking at the fallout over the Affordable Care Act, it’s hard not to think that perhaps the system is just too complex and too entrenched to redesign from the top down. The opposite would be organic change from within the industry, patient driven and participatory, from the bottom up.
A strong candidate for bottom-up change is the application of social media to health care. It’s at least worth considering that, appropriately utilized, social media could do something for the doctor-patient relationship akin to what Facebook and Twitter is doing for family, friends, and business relations all over the world.
Ten years ago, Morrison was on to this:
Solutions to hamster health care will come from getting off the wheel, not running faster. Doctors need to redesign their work to meet their patients’ needs within the economic constraints … That means using information technology creatively (particularly the internet) to communicate with patients and manage the process of patient care as part of a fundamental redesign of clinical practice.
I think it’s fair to say that Morrison would heartily endorse doctors using social media to more directly mediate their expertise to patients in a consistent, timely, and cost efficient manner.
I don’t presume to know how, but I have a good idea of what the first step may be: start using. Many physicians and medical students that I know have not yet begun to wade into the Twitter waters or explore blogging. These tools must be engaged with before they are applied. I think there’s reason to believe that the very act of engagement will stimulate ideas for implementation. If big changes in health care are going to be bottom-up, and these social media tools are truly useful, then simple exposure to physicians on the ground may likely instigate much progress.
I’m not saying that doctors should just dive in to applying social media to their practices. I’m simply advocating they set up an account and start poking around. Start following some fellow docs, reading some blogs, and considering setting off with a blog of their own.
The trouble is that damned wheel. Even my medical school friends, who are certainly not yet on the wheel, roll their eyes when I mention Twitter. They dismiss it because it’s one more thing they have to worry about.
How do we get the word out that social media stands to break the cycle rather than give another kick to the wheel?
Aaron J. Stupple is a medical student who blogs at Adjacent Possible Medicine.
Social Networking Researcher Studies Physicians, Influence
Nicholas Christakis, M.D., is employing some of his popular social network research to map networks of physicians to analyze how they might work together in accountable care organizations.
Christakis, co-author ofConnected: The Surprising power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, talked about his research into physician networks during a speech Friday at the at the annual conference for America’s Health Insurance Plans.
With his team at Harvard University, Christakis is looking at how formal and informal physician networks take shape, how those networks might influence referral relationships, and how they might affect the delivery or quality of healthcare.
The research looks at what Christakis calls “the three degrees of influence” to identify influential physicians as well as the physicians they influence. ”It’s not enough to know the doctors who influence to be effective. We also need to know who can be influenced.”
The idea is to use the information gleaned from the formation of these social networks by physicians to enhance the creation of ACOs “that can function as a unit” and succeed in meeting the goals of the ACO.
Christakis says the study can be used to help identify physicians who can influence their colleagues in terms of prescribing drugs, coordinating care, and following evidence-based guidelines. He believes social network mapping could help identify practice patterns in terms of the utilization and cost of healthcare resources. Influencers may help reduce the use of healthcare resources as well as help cut costs.
6/12/11 Another Great Slideshare presentation on social networking for the medical community
Leveraging Social Media to Engage Library Users
Leveraging Social Media to Engage Library Users click on link to access the presentation
Found this blog by a medical librarian to a group I consider myself part of:
Geeking the Library by Alisha Miles
Today is the day to get your geek on!!
I read about this online in a few different places including a post from Librarian in Black. I thought I would take a moment to express my true geek.
Recently I, along with my fellow geek Carolyn Klatt, presented about “Geeking the Library” at a medical library meeting. We should have taped it so I could post the video here.
The banter at the beginning allowed me to let my true geek shine through while engaging the audience. It was a short comedy of an Android fan vs. a diehard Apple fan. This is just a recent event that shows I am a geek and probably why I choose this field… to meet more geeks like me!
Now must admit I have always had some geeky qualities. I did spend hours upon hours surfing the ‘net’ when we finally got a computer at home when I was in middle school.
In high school and college I could easily pick up new programs or technology but I didn’t actively seek out new technology. Graduate school changed everything.
I earned my MLIS from FSU online… I have an MLIS from FSU but I have never stepped foot on the campus. I may sometimes say I do not think graduate school prepared me for everything in the real world but it did prepare me for the geek world. I learned how to create podcast, design and code websites, organize information online, and so much more.
I would not have learned as much without the wonderful professors who were enthusiastic about technology. I also would not have enjoyed the experience as much without my partners in crime classmates.
All of this though could never have fully prepared me for, and I say this with admiration, the geeky world of medical librarians.
Not long after starting my new career I took “Geeks Bearing Gifts” from @jdaleprince. The class really opened the doors to the true medical library geekdom and I’ve never looked back.
So I want to take a moment and say thank you to the librarian geeks before me who supported and encouraged me. I am probably going to leave someone out so I apologize in advance.
@jdaleprince for the best class ever
@medlibs for being my first follower on Twitter!
@eagledawg for one of my first twitter follows
@laikas for inspiring me to start this blog. “I am a tree”
Carolyn Klatt for being my presentation partner in crime
All others I may have forgotten, sorry
And of course my supportive husband who never complains about all of the time I spend online, then again he is a geek too.
Happy Geek Pride Day to all my fellow geeks!
Picture above from Monkey-Finger
The following is from the Canada Wiki a wealth of Health Sciences resources
Aggregators and feedreaders
See also List of aggregators
Current awareness in social media
Instant Messaging Clients
Open source wiki tools
See also Social bookmarking sites
Content management tools
See also: Content Management Systems
This information comes from the Canada Wiki