Entries in Web & Social Media (25)

Thursday
Sep282017

Studies on Prescription Drugs and Social Media

By Clive Riddle, September 29, 2017

Given that prescription drugs are perhaps the most direct-to-consumer marketed U.S. healthcare service, and pharmacies perhaps the most retail oriented distribution of health care services, social media would seem to have the greatest influence on pharmaceuticals than other healthcare sectors. PrescribeWellness this week released results of its 2017 Pharmacy Social Media Survey, which "looked at how Americans choose their pharmacy, what pharmacy services they most value, and their interest in interacting with their neighborhood pharmacists online and through social media."

Here’s what the shared from their findings:

  • 37% look to Google when looking for a pharmacy, versus 34% relying on word of mouth
  • Another 18% look to Facebook to choose a pharmacy
  • 32% look for a pharmacy with a useful website
  • 78% would consider following their pharmacist on social media— and 48% already do
  • 42% percent wish their pharmacist were more active on social media.
  • 47% say their preferred social network for interacting with their pharmacist is Facebook
  • 15% prefer Twitter in this regard and 12% prefer Instagram (12 percent)
  • 34% are interested in their pharmacist’s website
  • 25% would be interested in a pharmacy email newsletter.
  • 54% would be more inclined to use a product that their pharmacist recommended on social media

Respondents say the top benefits of following their pharmacist on social media include:

  • Deals and promotions – 58 percent
  • New offerings or services – 39 percent
  • Healthcare news – 37 percent
  • Relevant news and tips about health and wellness – 37 percent
  • Seasonal vaccine reminders – 31 percent

62% use their pharmacy’s website, with 61% using the site for refill requests; 47% for online orders; 29% for medication reminders; 29% for a medication list; 20% for online appointments; and 19% to access messages from their pharmacists, 40% say their pharmacy has a mobile app, which they use to place refill requests (48%), receive refill reminders (38%) and place orders (38%).

Moving on from pharmacies to pharmaceutical companies, earlier this year, the Journal of Medical Internet Research published to paper: Direct-to-Consumer Promotion of Prescription Drugs on Mobile Devices: Content Analysis, which sought to “investigate how prescription drugs are being promoted to consumers using mobile technologies. We were particularly interested in the presentation of drug benefits and risks, with regard to presence, placement, and prominence.”

Of the mobile communications they examined, 41% were product claim communications, 22%) were reminder communications, and 37were help-seeking communications (includes information about the medical condition but not the drug name. 69% linked to branded drug websites indicating both benefits and risks, 25% linked to a landing page listing benefits but no visible risks, and 6% linked to a landing page listing risks but no visible benefits.

The Frontiers in Pharmacology journal last December published the article Perspectives for the Use of Social Media in e-Pharmamarketing which among other things concluded that "in November 2015, American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has encouraged the use of social media to improve communication and information exchange in health promotion and public health (U.S. Food and Drug Administration Social Media Policy, 2015). Foreign studies show that one in four interactions with doctor, patient, and healthcare providers in the United States is a digital contact. Patient education through social media is therefore an opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry to gain confidence in the company and increase the awareness of consumer when choosing a product. In this way, customer acquires knowledge about health, diseases, and treatment. In various social media channels it is possible to find information on any drug. This information is available on: websites of a manufacturer, social network brand fanpages, portals for white staff specialists. According to a study, conducted by Comscore, patients who are familiar with drug brand website often followed the recommendations for its use (20% of patients). Internet advertising also influenced the use of a drug (13.5% of patients; ROI Media, 2016). E-pharmamarketing activities in social media and in the network tend to increase. It is estimated that in the year 2016 the US pharmaceutical companies allocate for this purpose 2.48 billion dollars.”

Friday
Mar242017

What Hashtag to Use When Firing Off a Post on Healthcare Reform?

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By Clive Riddle, March 24, 2017

 

You want more people to read everything you have to say about whichever side of the wall you’re on in the great repeal and replace debate. Or you just want to know what trendy term to search on so you can read what everyone else is saying on the subject. What hashtag to use…what hashtag to use?

 

We compiled a list of the hashtags surrounding the debate and had them analyzed using keyhole.co, which tracks twitter usage during the past 36 hours or so. As of noon Eastern time today, here’s what we found for twenty one selected hashtags that had surfaced the most during our research, presented in alphabetical order:

 

·         #aca 705 posts | 2,191,075 reach

·         #ahca 405 posts | 18,106,544 reach

·         #BecauseOfMedicaid 500 posts | 302,037 reach

·         #coveragematters 272 posts | 448,981 reach

·         #fullrepeal 50 posts | 1,400,049 reach

·         #healthcarebill 94 posts | 4,154,646 reach

·         #healthcarereform 595 posts | 4,472,503 reach

·         #IfILoseCoverage 391 posts | 1,232,293 reach

·         #killthebill 729 posts | 2,153,734 reach

·         #MakeAmericaSickAgain 703 posts | 935,553 reach

·         #NoRepealWithoutReplace 31 posts | 28,318 reach

·         #obamacare 85 posts | 43,583,728 reach

·         #passthebill 704 posts | 48,210,419 reach

·         #ProtectOurCare 707 posts | 2,217,826

·         #readthebill 589 posts | 1,871,228 reach

·         #RepealAndReplace 706 posts | 44,990,188 reach

·         #ryancare 706 posts | 2,365,314 reach

·         #saveaca 705 posts | 2,234,518 reach

·         #SaveMedicaid 43 posts | 124,503 reach

·         #SaveTheACA 711 posts | 2,061,039 reach

·         #trumpcare 736 posts | 1,741,593 reach

 

The number of posts vs reach reflects the number of tweeters vs the number of tweetees. One tweet from @realDonaldTrump of course goes a long ways in reach.

 

The top ten hashtags in order of posts during this period were: #trumpcare, #killthebill, #savetheaca, #protectourcare, #repealandreplace, #ryancare, #aca, #saveaca, #passthebill, #makeamericasickagain. These were the only hashtags with 700+ posts, with a range of 703-736, so all are being used with similar frequency, and usage of other  hashtags in this genre really drop off after these top ten.

 

With regard to reach, #passthebill, #repealandreplace, and #obamacare were the top three, each exceeding 40 million. #ahca was fourth with 18+ million. #Healthcarereform and #healthcarebill were next, each with 4+ million and it drops off from there.

 

A number of the hashtags (#killthebill, #passthebill) will fall out of use once the #ahca legislative debate is over, while other monikers will likely have legs for some time to come.

 

So pick your hashtag and start posting or browsing.

 
Thursday
Jun162016

Two Thirds of Healthcare Stakeholders Have Faith in Consumers Using Online Tools to Engage With Their Doctor

By Clive Riddle, June 16, 2016

MCOL has conducted an e-poll, co-sponsored by Keenan, of healthcare business stakeholders regarding their opinion on consumer tools involved with healthcare costs or quality. Key questions were asked regarding consumer healthcare cost and quality tools; and ranking of applicable items with respect to overall effectiveness.

68.5% of stakeholders believe it is likely or very likely that a typical consumer will use online data/comparisons to discuss options and costs with a provider. Stakeholders not involved with online tools have a greater belief that consumers are very likely to do so (34.8% compared to 18.6% of stakeholders that are involved with online tools). However, stakeholders involved with tools have an overall greater belief that consumers are likely to do so – combining likely plus very likely responses (72.1% for involved stakeholders compared to 65.2% for stakeholder not involved with tools.)

44.4% of stakeholders feel a smartphone is the optimal vehicle to deliver such tools, while 34.7% feel a computer desktop is the optimal vehicle, and 13.9% listed a tablet such as an iPad as the optimal vehicle. Stakeholders not involved with online tools were less likely to list a computer desktop (21.7% compared to 38.1% for stakeholders involved with tools and 57.1% for stakeholders not sure if they are involved). However smartphones were the top choice for both stakeholders involved with online tools, or not involved with online tools.

Given five types of tools to rank for effectiveness, stakeholders preferred health insurance out-of-pocket costs calculators and healthcare service price estimator/comparisons. Given seven issues to rank by level of concern, relating to consumer tools, stakeholders were most concerned by accuracy/credibility of data sources, and consumer ability to understand/use tool correctly.

58.9% of stakeholders indicated they are involved with consumer tools, while 31.5% responded they are not involved, and 9.5% were not sure. The online survey of healthcare business stakeholders was conducted during May 2016 by MCOL.  Survey participants received a detailed report on the survey results.

As Tim Crawford, a Vice President from Keenan puts it, “if we want to bend the healthcare cost trend downward by making patients and their families more effective consumers, we will need to equip them with the information they need to make informed decisions. Consumers of medical services will need to know about the quality of their providers and understand the total costs involved. More than two-thirds of those responding to the survey believe that consumers will use tools that give them this information and will use the knowledge to discuss options and costs with their providers. Ideally, such tools can provide the common ground needed for patients and physicians to have a transparent dialog about medical decisions.”

Thursday
Nov132014

The Future Is Still Not Here

By Kim Bellard, November 13, 2014

US News & World Report had some fun looking back at what experts in 2004 predicted for health care in 2014.  Not surprisingly, they found that we're not quite there yet, but might be by 2025.  The future, it would appear, is always ten years away. 

Those 2004 pundits expected that health care would be one of the industries most impacted in these past ten years; specifically:

2004 prediction: In 10 years, the increasing use of online medical resources will yield substantial improvement in many of the pervasive problems now facing healthcare—including rising healthcare costs, poor customer service, the high prevalence of medical mistakes, malpractice concerns, and lack of access to medical care for many Americans.

Whoops.

To be sure, there have been several important changes in our health care system over the past ten years.  Some of the more important ones would have to include:

In terms of realizing those predictions about controlling costs, improving customer service, reducing medical mistakes, or addressing malpractice concerns: well, not so much.

The absolute number of the uninsured has only dropped from 42.0 million in 2004 to 40.7 in 1Q 2014.  Increases in spending have moderated, thank goodness, but most experts attribute this to the recent economic downturn rather than to any structural changes.  Half of Americans now have a chronic disease, and our life expectancy rates still lag most other developed nations -- and may be declining.

If this is progress, I'm not sure we can take much more of it.

By way of contrast, think about the technology world in 2004:

Why isn't health care seeing those kinds of radical changes in the landscape? 

Certainly there have been plenty of important clinical innovations in the last ten years.  Still, I'm hard pressed to think of changes that have become part of people's everyday lives the way that the above tech changes have, 

Critics might claim that smartphones, social media and video streaming don't improve the quality of life, but just dare to try to take them away from people.  By contrast, if you offered to swap health insurance plans from 2004 with today's, I bet most people would jump at the chance, since they cost about 40% less and typically had much lower cost sharing requirements (Kaiser Family Foundation).

I'm also waiting for reports of either physicians or patients being delighted by all those EHRs.

The U.S. News & World Report article mentioned telemedicine as an example that many (still) predict as a key part of the future.  Honestly, if a big breakthrough for 2024 is wider use of telemedicine, I'll be disappointed. 

Don't get me wrong: I'm a big proponent of telemedicine, but in ten years shouldn't we be hoping for something more radical -- like, say, holographic or virtual reality visits?

Or maybe the future is wearables, as everyone is trying to get in on the expected gold rush.  I suspect that wearables in 2024 will bear as much resemblance to today's as our mobile phones do to 2004's, but the real problem won't be the technology as how we'll use all that data.  By 2024 we should be using real-time data to prevent hospitalizations and other acute episodes, but who will pay for, and act on, the monitoring and interventions?

Some people might argue that other ACA initiatives, like ACOs or value-based purchasing, simply haven't had enough time to prove their worth.  That may be valid, but I'm still not seeing the where-did-that-come-from aspects of either.

If in ten years we're all getting care through integrated delivery systems like Kaiser, that might be better for us, but it wouldn't be a breakthrough.

As I wrote in Getting Our Piece of the Pie, I want to see health care's versions of Napster: innovations that are willing to wreck the system in order to reshape it.  I want to see something that connects us to our health in the way that Facebook has connected us with our social circle, that democratizes health information and even treatments like Wikipedia has done for reference, or that untethers us in the way smartphones and YouTube have.&

Let's not wait ten years.

This post is an abridged version of the posting in Kim Bellard’s blogsite. Click here to read the full posting

Tuesday
Oct212014

Google Wants to Helpout Your Health

by Kim Bellard, October 21, 2014

I suppose it was inevitable that I'd end up writing something about Google's interest in health, since recent posts have focused on efforts from Facebook and Amazon, as well as the general gold rush for health IT.  Fortunately Google has obliged me by introducing a neat health-related wrinkle on their Helpouts service.

Google's new service pops up an offer to do a video chat with one of their Helpouts physicians when you are doing health-related searches, in case you want more expert opinions and advice.  It certainly beats getting an ad for a pill or a health aid (although I don't imagine Google will stop presenting those as well).

Let's back up.  For those of you not previously familiar with it (and count me among those), Helpouts is a Google service, launched last November, that allows consumers to connect with applicable experts via live video chats. 

The new feature connects the service to search results.  You may not have Google Helpouts top-of-mind when looking for health information, but it's a pretty safe bet that you might use Google search in doing your research.  Pew says 72% of Internet users searched for health information within the past year, with 77% of them starting with a search engine. 

"Google Docs" takes on a whole new meaning now, doesn't it?

The telemedicine aspect of Helpouts is not strikingly new.  What distinguishes Google's effort, of course, that it is pro-active.  It doesn't wait for you to decide things are serious enough to seek out a doctor, but, rather, uses your search activity to trigger the offer of a consult.  I think this will be an important part of our health system's future -- not merely reacting but being proactive.  All these remote monitoring devices are pretty pointless if we don't use them to try to intervene early, instead of waiting for an acute event or an office visit to trigger care.

I have a couple of suggestions, or at least questions, on the new Helpouts feature:

  • It's not clear to me how specific the type of physician available is to the search request.  If you are searching on angina, for example, it'd be nice if you got a cardiologist to talk with rather than a dermatologist.
  • It's not clear to me if the experts are always physicians, or if they triage the experts based on the severity of the information being searched for.  

On the second point, I've written before about personal health assistants -- including Better from The Mayo Clinic -- as well as potentially using AI to provide such a service.  I think it'd be even cooler if Helpouts gave you a personal health assistant, starting with an AI agent and progressing to a specific human team if necessary, with physicians available for the most complex needs.  Maybe that's Helpouts 2.0.

Of course, Google's health interests don't end with the current Helpouts approach.  They are already pushing Google Fit as a way for Android developers to connect their health apps, and it'd be a great next step if Google could tie Helpouts to those apps, using the data mined from them to trigger an offer of a consult -- or an intervention, depending on the urgency of the need.

It'd be even better if you could opt-in your own physician(s) and health system to the Helpouts service instead of relying on Google's set of physicians.  

As long as I'm already trying to come up with more things Google could do in health, I might as well add that I'd love to see them get into the transparency business.  They try to help consumers find the best prices for other goods, and certainly health care can use all the help it can get in this regard.

Google is thinking bigger than these more modest expansions, like their "moonshot" to genetically map a healthy human body, or their new health and well-being company Calico, which has already announced the building of a major research facility.  I like that they are taking the long view, focusing on prevention and cures rather than simply more treatments, but there's still plenty of ways they can help the health care system in the short term as well.

Hmm, Google loves robots: maybe robotic surgery -- or doctors -- is next.

This post is an abridged version of the posting in Kim Bellard’s blogsite. Click here to read the full posting