Doctors need to use social media more, says report

Doctors are more likely to use social media channels for education and communicating with fellow healthcare professionals than they are for interacting with their patients and taking advantage of possible digital marketing opportunities offered by social media.

According to a new report from American consulting firm CSC, doctors are reluctant to use social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter to interact with their patients, but they need to overcome this.

The report states that larger hospitals, academic medical centres and paediatric clinics are the healthcare institutions that are most likely to use social media. Jason Lee, lead author of the report, explains: “Large hospitals are more likely to use it because they have large budgets. They might also need to spend more on legal resources to check their Facebook and Twitter postings.”

Meanwhile, children’s hospitals are most likely to use social media for fundraising activities.

The report suggests that several business goals can be achieved with the help of social media, such as patient monitoring, care management and care coordination. It says that care management in particular will be helped by the increasing role that social media will have to play in it.

Lee says that some of the most frequently stated reasons that doctors give for avoiding linking up with their patients via social media channels include worries about liability, privacy and lack of reimbursement.

New social media guide published to help doctors get online

An online healthcare directory based in the US has published a free online guide aimed at doctors to help them understand how they can use social media, an aspect of web technology that many healthcare organsiations have yet to exploit to the full for healthcare and pharma marketing.

Avvo, which provides listings and ratings for doctors across the States, has just made its guide “Being Influential Online: Social Media Tactics for Physicians” available via its Facebook page.

It says that the social media guide is designed to help doctors and healthcare marketing professionals to establish an online presence that could help them attract new patients, expand their referral networks or better manage their online reputation. Expansion into digital marketing for healthcare is the aim.

The guide looks at issues such as liability and social media and how to use search engine optimisation (SEO) tactics in order to achieve a better search engine ranking.

In addition it helps doctors to establish their core online presence through a series of 15 easy-to-follow steps.

The guide was also released and distributed at the Third Annual Health Care Social Media Summit, which was held in Rochester, Michigan, last week.

One American doctor, Howard Luks MD, was part of a panel speaking at the event. He told a local healthcare news website that there were currently several barriers stopping doctors from engaging with social media. These included a lack of understanding about Twitter and its use; a lack of understanding regarding how social media can help patients and a lack of awareness about social media guidelines.

To download the guide visit https://www.facebook.com/avvodoctors

Healthcare trust could stream meetings on YouTube

Scottish healthcare bosses are considering broadcasting their board meetings on YouTube in a bid to boost public interest in their work.

NHS Lothian wants to increase public involvement in its business and particularly wants to see more members of the public attending their bi-monthly meetings.

Their meetings typically involve debate and decisions involving hundreds of millions of pounds of public money – yet few members of the public are currently willing to come along to help influence how their money is being spent.

The health board has previously tried reaching out to the public via roadshows, taking its meetings around the region in order to make it easier for all local people to come to meetings. However, that strategy proved unsuccessful.

Bosses are now considering webcasting the meetings as another way to get people interested and involved.

This could have implications for web designers looking to market pharmaceutical products on behalf of pharmaceutical companies.

If NHS Lothian does go ahead with the move, it will be the first healthcare organisation in the UK to do so.

Alan Boyter, director of human resources at NHS Lothian, says: “We have been asked to consider the possibility of webcasting board meetings.

”Streaming them on the internet is one option – we don’t know of any other health board which does this.

”It would be done on a trial basis, then, after a couple of meetings, we could see how much interest there has been and present the findings.”

Internet video experiment helps doctors to assess stroke patients

Two primary care trusts (PCTs) in England are experimenting with internet video in order to treat stroke patients.

Doctors working in Lancashire and Cumbria NHS PCTs are currently using high definition (HD) video conferencing in order to treat those affected by strokes.

The Telestroke Project lets medical professionals assess people remotely from their home, allowing doctors to carry out assessments with the speed required to make an effective post-stroke diagnosis.

Paul Davies, consultant stroke physician at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘Thrombolysis treatment can only be given to patients within four and a half hours of the onset of their stroke so time is core to this treatment and Telestroke will help improve the speed of patient diagnosis.” Digital marketers in the pharmaceutical field should keep up with this development.

He added: “We are using technology to take the stroke specialists to the patient, rather than moving the patient long distances, around rural areas, to where the specialists work. In an acute stroke, time is of the essence and the sooner treatment can be provided, the better.”

The experiment could also mean good news for the NHS’s finances.

Shuja Punekar, consultant physician of cerebro-vascular medicine, revealed the technology could cut the NHS’s costs by millions of pounds, with the average saving per patient around £50,000 a year.