Using Medical Apps for Diagnosing Patients

Using Medical Apps for Virtual DiagnosisIn May of this year Isabel Healthcare announced their new mobile application (app). The app is based on Isabel’s checklist system for diagnosis. The App allows doctors and nurses and other health care providers access to the app via iPhone, iPad or iPod touch mobiles.  Diagnosis can be established with the resulting possibility of treatment for patients being delivered faster.  And this innovative tool in the physician’s armoury has claimed a coveted top app rating in Apple’s Medical App category.  Where Isabel has gone many will follow and medical apps are beginning to make their presence felt in the medical community. Taking the Isabel App as an example it has been offered for download from Apple’s App Store with three subscription choices.  Customers can sign up for weekly, monthly or annual options, with the first level, the weekly option, pitched at just under £2.00 to attract the infrequent user.

Medical apps of the type offered by Isabel typically contain many thousand disease diagnostic markers both paediatric and adult and allow doctors instant access to the technologies that will help them make vital diagnoses.  Using a mobile diagnostic app a doctor does not even need to be in his hospital or clinic to diagnose a stroke in a patient and begin lifesaving treatment.  Using brain scan images that can be accessed via a smartphone and with an accuracy proven to be almost as reliable as the results of an ‘actual’ scan viewing, diagnosis can be made instantly.  This time saving ability is vital in the treatment of stroke victims.

Medical Apps – ‘Virtual’ Diagnosis?

Not everyone has welcomed this latest innovation in virtual diagnostics. There have been reservations concerning viewing detailed and complex anatomical images on a small 3.5-inch screen, from where critical emergency diagnoses will be made. However advances in image compression, microprocessors and wireless-data bandwidth, are likely to make this 21st century advance an essential diagnostic tool for doctors. For example, a CT scan image could be sent to a ‘cloud’ of the type that is commonly used as a storage device by PC users.  Downloaded to a mobile app or tablet, doctors could then zoom in to view images in more detail.  The use of this compression method to support any medical app is critical, in particular with the sending of high-resolution brain imagery.  Digital images are very large files to download and in a time sensitive situation such image files would take an hour to download using 3G or Wi-Fi.  Compression of the file overcomes this potential problem.

In countries where patients live in remote locations, this instant access diagnostic tool could prove invaluable.  In local or rural hospitals where medical staffing is limited, the instant access to patient’s results offered via this diagnostic tool, could also prove a lifesaver.

There is no doubt that this new application of technology will make a significant impact on the way in which doctors practice medicine both in and out of a hospital setting.   Gone will be the iconic picture of the consultant, clipboard in hand, with his entourage, visiting the wards.  In its place will be armies of medics with iPads and Android tablets that they can take home with them so that they always have a ‘virtual’ presence in their hospitals.

To learn more about our healthcare & medical app development services or to request a copy of our app design case studies, please contact us.

Social Media and the GP – A Tweet too far?

GP using TwitterThe General Medical Council is on the case! In a very 21st century directive to its members it advises:

The standards expected of doctors do not change because they are communicating through social media rather than face to face or through other traditional media. However, social media does raise new circumstances to which the established principles apply.

In days gone by a local doctor would have been part of a community and be well known by his patients.  In its way social media facilitates this kind of familiarity in our less personal modern environment.  Those medical professionals who resist using social media to reveal more of themselves to their community of patients, site the necessity for keeping a professional distance.  Then there are the issues surrounding confidentiality, can this really be maintained in a social media setting?  How much of a responsibility do doctors have to maintain privacy for a patient intent on disseminating their details on social networks?   Where decision-making on treatment is no longer the province of the treating physician but rather a shared decision between the patient and his or her doctor, can social media help towards a further understanding and de-mystification of procedures and diagnoses?  With more than half the UK population now using Facebook and a trend towards new sign ups in the 50 plus age group, this is a perfect platform surely for medical and other socially significant information to be circulated.

In the Untied States they have, of course, got all manner of doctors and healthcare professionals on Twitter with Facebook pages and more information being circulated than you could shake a stick at.  Here in the UK, I suspect your surgery might be a little slower to start tweeting about flu jabs or Christmas opening times, but it will come.

On the other side of the coin, social media has become part of all our lives – whether it is knowing the comings and goings of our celebrities on Twitter, establishing business contacts on LinkedIn or making contact with a long lost friend on Facebook this form of communication is well and truly entrenched in our society.

But, as patients, how would we feel about finding and communicating with a GP by social media? Patients have traditionally had very few tools at their disposal and those they do have tend to be geared towards the more drastic areas of dealings with the medical profession such as malpractice or complaint actions.  It is always possible to find out the qualifications and accreditations of a medical professional but what about her bedside manner?  His affinity with children?  A special interest in a specific complaint?

Well social media and contact with other people through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and other social media platforms has opened the door to connection with all sorts of people – including doctors. With a little detective work, and the ability to pick up on the clues, shrewd patients can use social media to help them research and make an informed choice of the doctor or consultant they see.   If a doctor/consultant writes a blog, has a page on Facebook or Twitter followers, uploads photos to Flickr or even videos to YouTube, then you will know that, at the very least, he or she is in touch with the 21st century!

If you’d like to learn more about our healthcare and pharma social media marketing services, please contact us.

New Social Media White Paper

We’ve just published our latest white paper titled: “A Director Level Guide To Social Media Marketing For Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Businesses.” This white paper aims to provide marketing professionals working within the healthcare, medical and pharma sectors with a better understanding of social media and how it can be integrated into their marketing and communications strategy to engage with patients, carers and HCPs.

Visit the download page to access it.

How Google’s ‘Penguin’ is changing the face of SEO

Google’s latest update to its algorithm, dubbed ‘Penguin’, was only released on 24th April, but has already had a huge impact on hundreds of companies over the last few months and the way in which they strategise their search engine optimisation efforts.

The update is designed to counter web spam and over optimisation, by penalising sites that employ these underhand techniques with a significantly lower ranking in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Google’s Head of Webspam, Matt Cutts, announced Penguin in a blog post, which explained the principles on which the update is based. In particular, he emphasised the differentiation between ‘white hat’ SEO and ‘black hat’ web spam, highlighting the benefits of the former and the pitfalls of the latter.

The blog post stressed the importance of maintaining a focus of high quality content and user-focused pages under the principles of ‘white hat’ SEO and avoiding any of the ‘black hat’ techniques, such as keyword stuffing, link schemes, or unoriginal, duplicated content.

The online pharmaceutical sector is likely to be as affected as any other area of business, and so it is important for digital marketers in the industry to fully understand the Penguin update, and be aware of what they need to do to prevent their company from being affected – by Penguin or any of its successors. Cutts estimates the update will only affect around 3% of queries negatively, so as long as digital marketers follow and maintain the ‘white hat’ SEO guidelines, it is unlikely that there will be a detriment to their company’s online presence.

If your healthcare, medical or pharma website has been hit by the Google Penguin update then get in touch to learn more about how we can help you fix the SEO problems you might be facing.

The impact of user-generated content on pharma and healthcare marketing

The pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing industry is constantly changing, particularly in light of developments in modern technology. Digital marketing strategies now involve SEO, social media, and a whole host of other methods to ensure online brand recognition and favourability. However, it’s important to remember, in the midst of these digital techniques, that the voice of the customer is still of paramount importance.  Monitoring user-generated content online is a useful method of gauging public reaction to a particular product or service.

Pharmaceutical and healthcare companies can benefit simply by monitoring the conversations about their brand that are already happening all around the Internet. Many websites, such as netdoctor.co.uk and patient.co.uk, have discussion forums which allow users to create an account and post comments with questions and recommendations. Private blogs are also a good source of opinion based content, and even informal social media platforms such as Twitter can be searched for a mention of a particular product or condition. It is also possible for companies to invest in software which can collate information on public opinion from multiple web-based sources.

The information gleaned from user-generated content will offer a clear insight into public perception of the brand, and this information can then be used to identify the aspects of a current marketing campaign that are working, as well as those which may need revision.

To learn more about how Genetic Digital can help you to monitor the social media environment, get in touch and we can talk you through our social media marketing services.

Mobile revenue rise for Twitter

Speaking at The Economist Group Conference in San Francisco, Twitter founder and CEO Dick Costolo revealed that the social network had generated more advertising revenue from its mobile incarnation that its desktop version for many days in the last quarter. Twitter only introduced ads to smartphone users’ timelines in February, so the news highlights the way in which mobile marketing campaigns can be quickly and successful integrated – as well as confirming the ever increasing popularity of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets amongst consumers.

“We’re borne of mobile,” Costolo commented, when asked about Twitter’s mobile strategies. “We have an ad platform that already is inherently suited to mobile, even though we launched our platform on the Web and only started running ads on mobile recently.”

It is interesting that whilst Twitter’s mobile ad campaigns appear to be flourishing, their prime social media rival Facebook is frequently criticised for their equivalent offering. Facebook have stated that they hope to make improvements to their current mobile strategies, but as of yet they have not experienced the levels of success that Twitter is reaching.

Comparison between the advertising of the two platforms demonstrates both the positives and the pitfalls of mobile marketing campaigns. Mobile marketing is a valuable technique within the digital marketing industry, but only when it is done well. Campaigns that are too invasive or offer information that is not particularly relevant to the  audience will not provide the desired results, so it is important for marketing professionals to strike the right balance to ensure that their campaigns produce the desired results.