Health Care Social Media Review – New Year, New Opportunities, New Challenges

Welcome to the Healthcare Social Media Review!  We’re honored to be hosting this edition.  Social media use continues to increase at a dizzying pace, and the healthcare world faces unique opportunities and challenges in utilizing it.  There is tremendous potential for improved health, better medical awareness, and increased patient satisfaction if social media is used correctly, but there are also pitfalls along the way that healthcare organizations and providers need to keep in mind.   The articles in this edition of the HCSM Review are a good look at both ends of the spectrum, and there’s something for everyone here.  Enjoy!

Haider Javed Warraich, MD, wrote a particularly insightful article for the NY Times recently, about doctors using Google to find more information about their patients.   It raises questions that all of us should be asking ourselves – not just doctors.  Just because information is Healthcare and Social Media Toolsavailable, doesn’t mean that we should necessarily be tracking it down.  Good food for thought in an age when technology is literally at our finger tips 24 hours a day, and data can be accessed from anywhere, by anyone.  And it’s also a reminder that once information is out there on the internet, it’s available to anyone who wants it.  Some people go to great lengths to protect their privacy online, but most people do not.

Chen Sirkis of CadenSee has a great post at Health Wonks Collective about some long-overdue guidance from the FDA on the use of social media in medical marketing.  As with many industries, the surge in social media use over the last few years has left officials scrambling to issue regulations about the ethics and rules for its use in healthcare.  The new FDA guidelines apply to all pharmaceuticals approved by the FDA, but not yet to medical device manufacturers.  Firms are responsible for any content or social media marketing they create, or that is created by someone who officially represents the firm (a pharmaceutical sales rep, for example).  Manufacturers and marketing firms no doubt welcome the official word from the FDA, as they have been walking a fine – and grey – line of late as they try to keep up with social media trends but also make sure they don’t end up with liability issues stemming from their marketing.

As we kick off 2014, David Harlow of Health Blawg shares some of the most important developments as well as some missed opportunities for healthcare information technology from 2013.  He notes that “… health IT can be a significant force in improving preventive care, personalized medicine and population health; we just have to get out of our own way in order to make it work.”

Gratuitous Champ Bailey pic from Pinterest. Sorry.

If you think Pinterest is only for women and only about fashion, food and home decor, think again.  The Healthcare Social Media Monitor shows us three examples of healthcare Pinterest users (a doctor, an online healthcare activist community, and a hospital) who are using Pinterest well, and what they can teach you about doing it right too.

Another great post from the Healthcare Social Media Monitor is The Healthcare Influencer List – a compilation of 100 healthcare-related Twitter accounts that you should be following.  I browsed through the list and concur that it’s excellent.  Many of you are probably following quite a few of these people already, but check out the list and you’ll probably find some new gems.

Online healthcare grading and comparison tools have been much-discussed over the last few years, but there’s still a long way to go.  Transparency isn’t where it should be yet, and it is still difficult for patients to act as true consumers – the way they would if they were buying a

car, for example.  But there are websites that are working to change that.  David Williams writes about the CMS Hospital Compare website, including his suggestions for how it could be improved.  Sites like this are a perfect example of how crowd-sourcing can make things better.  The more feedback the rating sites get, the more they can tweak the metrics to provide meaningful data for people who are shopping for the best healthcare experience they can find.

Russell Working, of Health Care Communication describes Cleveland Clinic’s Health Hub webpage that launched in 2012 and garnered 1.4 million visitors last month.  The site is updated several times each day with fresh content, and traffic from the Clinic’s Facebook page (with 800,000 fans) sends half of the traffic that Health Hub receives.  Hospitals that want to utilize social media to the best of its potential would be wise to pay attention to how Cleveland Clinic is operating both its Facebook page and Health Hub.

For individuals and firms that want to better target their social media use, Cynthia Floyd Manley has a useful post on the Mayo Clinic’s Social Media Health Network.  It’s all about the demographics of social media users, broken down across all of the main platforms.

A TechCrunch article from Ryan Lawler is more along the lines of cool digital technology than social media, but the usefulness of a wireless pill bottle inspired me to share the post anyway.  My father received a kidney transplant in 2012 after losing his own kidneys years ago to an autoimmune disease.  So I’m well aware of the importance of adhering to a strict medication schedule, since anti-rejection drugs have to be taken at specific times.  I can see the wireless pill bottle being an excellent addition to a lot of patients’ treatment plan.

The next edition of the HCSM Review will be hosted by Amy Tenderich of Diabetes Mine on February 5 (which will be just a few days after the Denver Broncos win Super Bowl 48).  You can submit your entries to Amy via email:

About Louise Norris

Louise Norris has been writing about health insurance and healthcare reform since 2006. In addition to the Colorado Health Insurance Insider, she also writes for,, Verywell, Spark by ADP, and Boost by ADP, and Gusto. Follow on twitter and facebook.

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