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Can we please have health emojis?

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Why should we consider having health emojis?

92% of the population uses emojis. Regardless of one’s native language, emojis’ are universal and can be understood by all. Images are processed faster in the brain than text is, so there are benefits to choosing a visual icon over words to describe or convey a sentiment.

What are emojis?

Emojis are small digital images or icons used to express an idea, emotion, etc, in electronic communication

What is the origin of emojis?

Born in the 1990s in Japan and from e “picture” + moji “letter, character”. They became very popular with their inclusion in Apple’s iPhone, followed by Android and other mobile operating systems.

How are brands incorporating emojis in their marketing mix today?

Super Bowl 50 (2016), Twitter, partnered with brands like Pepsi and Anheuser-Busch and Verizon to offer emojis with a Super Bowl theme, sometimes referred to as “admoji”. Super Bowl custom emoji

Twitter has selected celebrities that can overlay emoji (style icons) onto their photos.

Lifetime has experimented with auto – response campaigns using certain hashtags to unlock content.

Facebook launched (Feb 24, 2016) “Reactions” a new feature that allows users to respond to posts with six emotion choices (angry, sad, wow, haha, yay, and love)

Has healthcare experimented with emojis? 

I am very happy to see that GE Healthcare experimented using emojis at the #RNSA15 (a professional radiology medical device conference).

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Wearables and pharma where you at?

Let’s start by defining wearables. Wearable technologies (or wearables) are items embedded with small, inexpensive electronic sensors that can be comfortably worn – such as clothing, watches and jewelry.  They are fast becoming a critical tool for medical researchers and drugmakers. Bloomberg reports that according to the National Institutes of Health’s records there are 299 clinical trials using wearables.

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(image from Piwek L, Ellis DA, Andrews S, Joinson A (2016) The Rise of Consumer Health Wearables: Promises and Barriers. PLoS Med 13(2): e1001953. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001953)

What’s in it for pharmaceutical companies?

By providing clinical trial participants with wearables, pharmaceutical companies can gather more accurate information that could help to streamline clinical trials and support patient care. Wearables may also help pharmaceutical companies to provide drug effectiveness data to insurance companies or governments that support their treatments are effective, therefore helping in reducing unnecessary prescriptions and lowering health care costs.

Fitbit and Apple watch are just two of the many activity trackers on the market today. Both are currently capable of tracking vital signs such as heart rate, exercise and movement levels. From a drug development and early drug safety capturing perspective, the real-time data input is more accurate than human memory and could provide valuable information.

How will the latest Fitbit lawsuit impact wearable use in pharmaceutical clinical trials and should pharmaceutical companies worry? Would this exclude it from the clinical settings, where it would have an enormous potential?

Looks like the future may be murky as some wearables may be unreliable and potentially be misleading. Devices are marketed under the premise that they will help improve general health and fitness, but the majority of manufactures provide no empirical evidence to support effectiveness to their products.

Fitbit was hit in January 2016 with a class action lawsuit regarding it’s heart rate monitoring.

According to the complaint, one plaintiff had a trainer manually count her heart rate during a workout after buying her Charge HR last year. While the trainer recorded a heart rate of 160 beats per minute, her Fitbit device said her rate was at 82. The other plaintiffs cite similar experiences with their Fitbit devices.

‘With those margins of error, the Heart Rate Trackers are effectively worthless as heart rate devices,” the lawsuit said.

Fitbit was also issued a recall in 2014 after customers complained of rashes after wearing the devices and lawsuit over misleading advertising.

Response from Fitbit, Fitbit trackers, are not meant to be medical or scientific devices.

Journal clubs take to Twitter

What is a journal club?

A journal club as defined by Milbrandt and Vincent (Critical Care 2004) is a group of individuals who meet regularly to evaluate critically the clinical application of recent articles in the medical literature. The first journal club meeting took place at McGill University in Montreal and dates back to 1875.

What is Twitter?

Twitter on the other hand is an information network made up of 140 – character messages called Tweets. It’s an easy way to discover the latest news related to subjects you care about. Currently according to STATISTA there are approximately 305 monthly million active users.

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The Twitter social media platform lends itself very easily to professional interaction and the dissemination of information on a global scale. Healthcare professionals on Twitter have successfully identified and are succeeding in using this platform for journal club discussion.

Add Journal Clubs and Twitter together and what do you get?

A powerful interaction and a huge amount of engagement which is extremely valuable.

Increased number of participants which connects people of like interest, including the ability to interact directly with authors of scientific publications

Broader knowledge and experiences that take learning to a higher level

Fresh perspective on clinical issues with potential solutions from physicians from other institutions

PubMed (the searchable database of biomedical citations and abstracts free resource that provides access to MEDLINE) has dedicated a section entitled PubMed Commons Journal Club. In this section it lists traditional and virtual formats of journal clubs.

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Here are just some examples of present day twitter journal clubs included in their list.

Geriatric Medicine Journal Club (University of Toronto, with Twitter – based Journal Club) ::: GeriMedJC (@GeriMedJC) Geriatric Medicine Journal Club Blog

RheumJC – Rheumatology Twitter – Based Journal Club ::: #RheumJC (Rheum Journal Club @RheumJC)

IGSJC – The International General Surgery Journal Club – Twitter-based journal club :::  #IGSJC :::  @igsjc

NephJC – Nephrology Journal Club – Twitter – based journal club :::: #NephJC (Nephrology Jrnl Club @NephJC)

Others I came across in my research but that are not included in the PubMed Commons Journal Club list include the following:

#JHMChat – J Hospital Medicine (@JHospMedicine)

#Rsjc  – Resp&Sleep JC (@respandsleepjc)

#EASTjc – Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma East(@EASTjournalclub)

#NCSTJC – Neurocritical Care Society (@neurocritical)

#MSFjc – Medicines sans Frontieres / Doctors with our Borders (@MSFsci)

#BlueJC – The Blue Journal Club: An International Women’s Health Journal Club (BlueJCHost @BlueJCHost)

#RadOnc – Radiation Nation – Collaborative conversations in radiation Oncology (@Rad_Nation)

#ResNetSLT – ReSNet – Research Support Network (@Hazel Roddam1)

#Gpjc – GPjournalclub(UK) (@GPjournalclub)

#MedRadJClub The twitter journal club for medical radiation professional everywhere

#Ebnjc – Evidence Based Nursing Twitter Journal Club (@EBNursingBMJ)

#Urojc – International Urology Journal Club Urology JC (@iurojc)

#Radres – ACR American College of Radiology  – ACR Resident and Fellow Journal Club  – Journal Club Resident & Fellow Section ACR RFS (@ACRRFS)

#Hpm – The Journal Club for hospice, palliative medicine, palliative care (run by @kesleeman Journal Club @hpmJC)

Or you can find a hashtag on your medical topic of interest on Symplur – Twitter Journal Club Hashtags. Select a hashtag of interest and then just type in that hashtag in Twitter to find the conversations.

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What have we learned so far from these Twitter Journal Clubs? The ACR (American College of Radiology) Twitter Journal Club, based on their experience, has posted on their blog valuable learning points.

Decide on a manageable frequency – keeping the Twitter Journal Club active and up to date but also identify an ideal frequency of journal club meetings. This will be vital in order to maintain the viability and sustainability.

Identify timely themes – identify hot topics? Policy issues?

Have a strategic pr in place (sending email reminders for example) – need to remind people of journal club time and date and if possible articles to read before hand.

Invite expert guests – this is a major driving force – having the ability to interact directly with authors of scientific publications would also be valuable.

Have a passionate moderator to encourage a collegial discourse.

Have a support network – feel free to reach out to participants for help and support – this will also grow your journal club and keep it sustainable.

Patient and persistence – reliability through full and well organized journal clubs will keep participates coming back.

Community practice is also being shared via scientific publications. The scientific publications based on experiences, collaborative learning and knowledge sharing allows to open channels of understanding among healthcare professionals.

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Social Media, in particular Twitter, provides a potential for enormous international communication that has not been possible before now. Traditional Journal clubs in other fields can follow the examples of well established Twitter Journal Clubs to revitalize their journal clubs while at the same time foster and grow their international relationships.

Looking from the outside in

What looking from the outside through your website tells me about your medical practice. Your first contact with people is your website. So marketing your website should be a top priority, especially if you are trying to grow your practice. Medical practices, like non profit research, medical and clinical institutes, find this kind of marketing is harder, because you are marketing to people who don’t have a relationship with you yet but could in the future.

Many medical practices tend to neglect their websites. You can’t afford to do that today.

According to Pew Research – The most commonly researched topics are specific diseases or conditions; treatments or procedures; and doctors or other health professionals.

I came across one medical practice website here in my local area. One word will sum it up, pitiful.  So what do I look for in a medical practice website?


Overall appearance of website The general appearance of a medical practice website for me reflects what your corporate culture is like; for example innovative or traditional. It also helps me to decide to read further or just click away and move on to another website.

So here are just a few of the items I look for and they mainly focus on user experience features:

  • Design and usability
  • Ease of use – easy to locate information
  • Readability
  • Content – at first glance is it interesting  – does it invite me to read more
  • Are you supporting different languages
  • Blogs & Blogging activity
  • How can I contact you – how can I make an appointment
  • Social media – I also have a separate list for social media activity (see below)
  • Mobile responsive – is your website mobile responsive – If yes, then you are telling me that you know today’s readers can access you from any device.

Social media friendly For me the presence of social media links will add value and relevance to your site. So, there are links to social media, but do you check the links to make sure they work? If they are not working then for me your site is a dead one. This leads me to question your professionalism.

  • Are your landing pages simple, yet effective on social media such as FaceBook, LinkedIn and YouTube with links on and to your home page.
  • Are they current – updated weekly, if not daily or are they outdated
  • Do you allow for social sharing
  • Are you publicizing via social media
  • Are you monitoring your social conversations

Deep dive into the medical practice, staff and physicians Providing value beyond the basic information

  • History of the organization – are you part of larger healthcare system
  • Do you participate in latest clinical trials – if so did you list them
  • Patient stories – Do you let your patients share their stories
  • Online tools to support networking
  • Do you have the latest technology
  • Current treatments and procedures
  • Tell me about your physicians – their backgrounds – training – certifications – publications – research – can I search a physician by sub specialty
  • What are your sub specialty centers
  • Do you have volunteers – well don’t forget them
  • Teaching and continuing education – research fellows – medical students – residents
  • News releases are they current and up to date
  • Events – are they easy to find – is there information regarding location, time and date
  • Images, innovative and educational videos, podcasts, webinars
  • Email subscription box
  • Going beyond local – thinking of international patients also

Apps  We live in a mobile world where patient empowerment and practice portability reign

  • Are you using apps to streamline doctor-patient communication
  • Can I schedule an appointment directly from an app

Looking at content marketing and not just content

I get very frustrated when I see clinical, medical and research organizations doing great things and their messages just don’t reach an audience. Why does this happen?

I came across a webinar on 3D printed models that help surgeons plan and prepare for complex operations, giving them a chance to practice on patient specific model before the actual operation. I was surprised to find out that this research is being done right here in my home state.

So how come I didn’t see it on my Twitter feed? I am following them. How come it didn’t come across those thousands of e-newsletters I receive everyday? Why didn’t my friends share it on FB?

So I did a little research on how this organization is using social media to communicate what they do. From the outside it looks like random posting and some publications, press releases, basic news articles, but I do not see any real content marketing. Non profit research, medical and clinical institutes need to develop content marketing and have a more content focused strategy.

What do we mean by content marketing?

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” – Content Marketing Institute

Non profit research, medical and clinical institutes find this kind of marketing is harder, because you are marketing to people who don’t have a relationship with yet but could in the future.

The aim is to build awareness. Do people have an understanding of who you are? And what you do? They should know about your organization and know where to go if they need you in the future.

Social media doesn’t sleep, so why should you?

Putting off a response to a tweet may not be good practice.

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According to a Lithium press release

Customers have high expectations for a quick response. 53% expect a brand to respond to their Tweet & demand that response comes in less than an hour, according to the Lithium-commissioned study by Millward Brown Digital. The bottom line is you need to respond in under 2 hours.

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If it is a complaint then 72% of the people expect a brand to respond within 1 hour. People who complain expect a quick response.

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What are the consequences of poor response times? 38% feel more negative about the brand and/or company and 60% will take unpleasant actions to express their dissatisfaction.

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Timely responses to Twitter, on the other hand are rewarded & remember these exchanges are occurring in the public domain, so it will have a domino effect on followers. When a brand responds in a timely manner on Twitter:

47% of people recommend the brand through social media

43% of people encourage friends and family to buy from the brand / company

42% of people praise the company through social media

38% of people are receptive to advertisements

34% of people buy more of the company’s products

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It is necessary to stress the importance of building trusted relationships with customers on Twitter. Twitter generates a sense of community.  It can help to raise brand awareness and allow brands and consumers to interact in real time.

Image credits Search Engine Watch

How one hospital is using Twitter

It’s time for hospitals & medical research centers to be creative, bold and fresh into how they can use social media to engage with the public. #heartTXlive is a perfect example, in my opinion of just that. The surgical team at Baylor University Medical Center (@BaylorHealth) tweeted one patient’s heart transplant story in real time. This is raising awareness through the power of social media.

Twitter & Hospitals

How are hospitals using Twitter?

Which hospitals are using Twitter?

What prompts the consumer to follow hospital Twitter account(s)?

What is the cost of not engaging with Twitter for hospitals?


Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media reframes ROI as “risk of ignoring”. Not engaging with digital platforms like Twitter by smaller organizations will allow for greater opportunities to more progressive competitors.

It is all about the user experience thats prompts consumer to follow the hospital. Hospitals need to sustain followers with interesting and useful content.

Study published in Journal of Medical Internet Research finds among hospitals studied: 99.4% had a Facebook account; 99.4% had a Foursquare account; 99.1% had a Yelp account; and 50.8% had a Twitter account. One half of the hospitals studied had an account on all four digital platforms.

Mayo Clinic is named second year in a row as most social media – friendly hospital in the United States.

The facility had:

  • 538,061 Facebook likes/fans;
  • 26,871 Facebook check-ins;
  • 26,545 Facebook mentions;
  • 17,708 Tweets;
  • 858,932 Twitter followers;
  • 1,783 Twitter users it was following; and
  • 9,086 Twitter mentions.

Other top social media friendly hospitals, in order:

  • Cleveland Clinic;
  • Baylor Regional Medical Center in Texas;
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston;
  • University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center;
  • Rush University Medical Center in Chicago;
  • Houston Methodist Hospital;
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City;
  • University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers; and
  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago

Crowd Clinical takes public opinion on hospitals and collates data and uses it effectively.

Twitter and predicting emergency trends. University of Arizona and Dallas-Fort Worth team up to find connections between tweets about asthma and asthma-related emergency room visits.

The utilization of Twitter in the hospital setting has been more beneficial than detrimental in its ability to generate opportunities for cost savings, recruiting, communication with employees and patients, and community reach.