Tag Archive for Social Media

Another take on social media by today’s medical marketers

In the last post, we discussed how social media is gaining momentum among medical marketers, fast becoming a key facet of a complete and effective marketing mix. But only days later I encountered a story about one industry that is moving the opposite direction.

National Public Radio recently reported that due to some recent development many in the pharmaceutical industry are electing to abandon Facebook. Until recently, Facebook allowed these companies to exclude public comments. The recent announcement that that exception will end has led some to shutter their pages.

According to the story, “Take On Depression” disappeared, as did “ADHD Moms” and “Epilepsy Advocate.” The concern among the drug makers is that they are not sufficiently able to police comments to ensure that the information being shared about prescription drugs is accurate. These same companies must also comply with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “fair balance” requirements.

But the reality is that FDA hasn’t reprimanded a single drug company due to public comments. And many of the community benefits enjoyed by independent social media sites are being lost. Perhaps it’s only fitting that established industries like pharma are still trying to determine if and how to use emerging communication tools. It’s the job of experienced medical marketers to help provide guide them.

Till next time,

New survey of online tools provides insight to medical marketers

Talk to a marketer these days and chances are good that the issue of social media will come up. Tools like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube continue to change the way we communicate. Some have even compared the transformative nature of these technologies to that of the Gutenberg printing press.

Not surprisingly, medical marketers have also turned to these new technologies as a means for connecting with their specific patient populations. What is not always clear is which of these vehicles is most effective and why.

A recent Acsys Interactive survey sought to provide some insight on those questions, and the results were revealing. Consider, for example, that about 33 percent of the 101 participants from hospitals and healthcare systems see online videos as being a very effective means of achieving their marketing objectives. But barely half that number can say the same for Twitter.

According to the survey, among large hospital respondents some 15 percent of communications is currently conducted via online tools. But that is a number those same respondents expect to grow to 40 percent by 2013. For small and medium-sized hospitals (fewer than 401 beds) the numbers were 3 percent and 28 percent, respectively, both sizable jumps.

The growth of such tools seems unavoidable, and their potential benefits only limited by one’s imagination. The challenge is finding the right mix for your organization and then developing a strategy for your audiences based not on guesses, but on a sound, clear understanding of their preferences and behavior.

Till next time,

Could social media deliver an innovation in how we conduct clinical trials?

Some months ago, the Speaking Healthcare blog explored the increasing popularity of emerging social media as a tool for enabling patients to take a more involved and active role in their own healthcare. PatientsLikeMe.com, which was highlighted in that post, is continuing to blaze that trail.

The site, a healthcare data-sharing platform, recently conducted an online trial in which they sought to assess the clinical benefit of an unapproved therapy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The study analyzed the relevant discussions on the site and included some 600 participating patients.

The results, recently published on Nature Biotechnology, drew on millions of data points and concluded that there was “no effect of lithium on disease progression.” This confirmed the results earlier found through traditional clinical trials.

The question being asked now is whether such online trials and studies driven by patient social networks can or will be a reliable option going forward. There are obvious upsides to using online communities in clinical research, including speed, access to rare patient populations, and availability of control participants. Clinicians or and even patients could one day run trials. (Read more in a recent Wall Street Journal blog post.)

Social media is transforming how we communicate and stay connected, be it among friends or participants in the “Arab Spring” protests. There is no reason to believe that such technological inroads won’t also impact how we think about healthcare.

Till next time,

Your multilingual website is about words, but it’s also about numbers

Health-related organizations of all stripes are increasingly embracing the web and social media tools to reach their audiences. The costs tend to be competitive when compared to other communication vehicles and the possibilities potentially great.

However, the difficulties associated with capturing the data from these interactions remains an ongoing challenge for many organizations. While important issues like hosting, legal requirements, and others are being largely resolved, important details like who is visiting the site, where they are going, and how long they are staying are not always clear.

As a result, identifying the best analytics tools and how to set them up is a task many organizations are now making a priority. This is significant as such usage information is critical to determining if your online presence is truly working for your audience, especially if yours is a multilingual site.

You can start by conferring with language services provider (LSP) as they know your business and understand your medical translation and communication goals. In the meantime, you can take a look at Google Analytics as well, which addresses how to report for multilingual sites and e-commerce storefronts, should you have one.

For a bit of background, read the June post on the Google Analytics blog entitled “Advanced: E-Commerce Roll Up Reporting For Websites With Different Languages.” At the very least, it will give you some food for thought and might help you devise the right questions to address to your LSP.

Good health!


How mobile phones are changing the way health care providers operate

As we explored last week, the addition of Tweets to the search results for popular search engines like Bing and Google can pose new reputation management challenges for health care providers. While patients have always shared their feelings, today that network is global in scope, while the speed with which those feelings travel is now clocked in nanoseconds.

But that is really only half the story. Health care providers must bear in mind that patients can quickly and easily post to Twitter, Facebook or other social media sites directly from their mobile phone. That means they are able to share their feelings—as well as pictures and video—right from your waiting room, exam room, or hospital bed.

As health care seeks itself to leverage the opportunities ushered in by these new technologies, it must be understood that patients are doing the same. So, part of the quality promise made to patients must include the patient experience. For example, is the waiting room comfortable and clean? Is the office staff helpful and responsive? Is there an established protocol to quickly resolve problems?

These things have always been priorities for health care providers. But today, given the ease and immediacy of communication, failure on these counts can trigger far greater results than ever before. Coupled with a provider’s own strategic online communication efforts, this should help ensure a positive experience for patients. And they’ll Tweet about that, too.

Good health!

Social and new media are changing the face of healthcare – see for yourself!

If you’ve been following Speaking Healthcare you have surely read by now how social and new media serve as incredible platforms for connecting with your patients and communities. Healthcare providers who build a social media presence are building more than just their brand; they are providing better access to healthcare information by reaching their members through these media channels.

Yet how many organizations are exploiting the true power of these increasingly valuable tools? How many patients are even online, and what does this mean for us as members of the healthcare industry as well as the United States? Take a minute and watch the video below…if you weren’t convinced about the power and popularity of these before, you will certainly be now!

Leslie Iburg

Effective social media demands a strong focus on the ‘social.’

The July 2009 report released by the Advisory Board Company’s Marketing Planning and Leadership Council demonstrated how much work hospitals and health care systems have to do to make the best of use of social media.

As highlighted in the last couple of posts, the study revealed that only about 10 percent are using the increasingly valuable communication tools and even fewer are exploiting its true power to build meaningful, two-way communications.

Here are few things to consider as you address your social media efforts:

•Focus on your community — By spotlighting local events and issues, a hospital can position itself as an important member of the community. This approach also creates broader appeal, promoting a larger social network.
•Communicate in first person — The public expects real people and real conversation on social networks. It’s all about dialogue, which is not a likely result if your “voice” online reads like a press release.
•Build a corporate network — Pursue connections with other corporate entities and individuals in your area. To be effective, your strategy here must be a proactive one in which you seek out engagement. These associations can be a powerful way to do that.

Initial steps for any program include identifying the right platforms, setting realistic goals, and assigning accountability. These are important. Once established, you’re ready to get the conversation started.

Good health!

Join us in Orlando to learn how to leverage social media in healthcare and healthcare translation

If you find yourself in Orlando on Friday, Oct. 2, why not join us at the J.W. Marriot Grande Lakes Resort for the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Marketing Development Conference? Among many other informative presentations by a range of industry experts, I will be conducting a session entitled “Marketing Trends for a Growing Multicultural Society — Safely Harnessing Social Media in Healthcare.”

At viaLanguage, we deal every day with the communication challenges ushered in by a U.S. limited English proficient (LEP) population that has grown, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, to some 35 million people as of January 2008.

Ensuring equal access to healthcare for such a large and diverse population requires more than simply supplying interpreters in hospital ERs. Central to successfully meeting this mounting need is providing healthcare information in the audience’s native language — with special care shown to cultural understanding.

The advent and growing popularity of social media has provided a useful tool for doing just that (60 to 80 percent of Americans have used the Internet to find health information), but it brings with it new challenges. How to start?

At the Orlando session, I’ll explore how to improve your multicultural marketing efforts, particularly how to begin to address your community through social media. I’ll also address how
combining translations that have been localized for specific audiences with effective SEO gets your website and other online initiatives the right kind of visibility and acceptance.

Hope to see you there.

Good health!

Social media target healthcare needs – but for non-English speaking audiences?

Social media is a buzz phrase that’s hard to miss these days. It is regularly cited as both an abridgement to effective communication and as a cure-all. It is probably too early to tell how truly revolutionary this evolving means of connecting will be. But what does seem clear is that as these developing tools proliferate they are bringing with them a new way for healthcare professionals to interact with their patients and for patients to interact with each other.

PatientsLikeMe.com is a good example. The site, launched in 2004, is devoted to helping patients gather information about their condition or medical issue, including symptoms, treatment, and research. But it also acts as a community meeting place in which patients with a given issue can connect with each other.

It’s a unique enterprise given the open nature with which patients share their personal health data. Nearly 40,000 people, 70 percent female, are currently a part of the community, with conditions ranging from ALS to bipolar disorder to Devic’s Neuromyelitis Optica, with more being added all the time.

Strangely, despite the fact that Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in the U.S. and among the most eager adopters of social media, the site does not currently include Spanish, or any other language beyond English, for its members. One wonders how many thousands of others could be benefit if other languages were offered.

Good health!