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Targeted Marketing Therapy

The prescription to help oncologists understand and use marketing, social media and more.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What others do successfully is undoubtedly an inspiration for our own initiatives or ideas.  This certainly applies throughout all areas of life.


Yet in the areas of technology and social media, the application of this concept is magnified twenty-fold.  The new gadgets people push in front of us can be as intimidating as anything if we don’t know how to use them.  It’s the reason people shy away from social media, the reason they hang onto those old flip phones (no offense, if that’s you). 


Before we embrace something new, it often requires someone to walk us through those new smartphone features or requires us taking time to read through some examples of what others have written or done in social media.


So here is one solid example you can use to answer that age-old question – ok, maybe it’s only a few years old, but that’s like ages now – of “How can I use social media?


This article from CRM Magazine highlights Cleveland Clinic’s advances into social media.  It includes not only basic presences on Twitter and Facebook, but also live chats each month about a variety of topics. Ultimately, the goals are to become a resource for meaningful information and make the organization and its physicians more accessible – as well as gain new patients, of course. 


Yet “regardless of…people’s status as paying customers,” the impact of the information shared makes a difference – some transcripts the hospital posts get thousands of views.


Certainly, the staff has to structure its chats to be mindful of privacy and confidentiality requirements, which it appears they’ve been successful with.  Perhaps you can use this as inspiration to leverage social media for your own practice or organization?


Think about how it could establish your expertise in your therapeutic area, and think about the positive impact on your practice if even only a handful of the people you connect with convert to new patients.



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Something I learned to do a long time ago is listen closely to people who are smarter than me. In oncology, that means I listen to a lot of people, given that I’m not a clinician, researcher, or policy expert who has dedicated years to learning cancer and its treatments, habits, and statistics.


So it was with great interest that I read Oncology Times blogger Lola Butcher’s blog post on Poverty as a Carcinogen recently.  It summarizes some salient points from another article by the ACS’s Dr. Len Lichtenfeld about the impact of factors like education and race on cancer incidence and survival.


Lola’s call-to-action is to read Dr. Len’s article, so I did just that.  The statistics are mind-boggling.  37% of cancer deaths between the ages of 27 and 64 could be avoided right now, which translates to more than 60,000 lives saved per year.  I’ll say no more – you need to read the article too; it  offers a sobering view of how something like education affects one’s access to healthcare.


Dr. Len’s supposition is correct in that nobody is talking about that.  We hear about all the things we shouldn’t do, eat, play with, smoke and handle – yet nobody focuses on what we can do right now to save those 60,000 lives.


Well, in my blog, now I’m talking about it.  And you should be too!  Read this article, and start discussing this with your colleagues in the hallway.  Take it to social media –Twitter it, blog about it.  Keep spreading the word.  Let’s make people aware of another way we can fight off cancer, by improving access to healthcare for the poor.  Share it with your patients, educate them – they may know someone who needs better access to care.  Let’s find those 60,000 people and get them to shout “We want to be saved!” and get their families to shout it with them.  That’s something that’ll be heard everywhere.


You’re a life-saver, right?  You spend all day every day helping people beat cancer.  In this case, all you have to do is talk.


Thanks Lola, and thanks Dr. Len.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

One of the intricacies about social media I find most fascinating is the vast difference in adoption between therapeutic areas.


Take mental health, for example.  There are far more patients, patient advocates, and care-delivery organizations involved in social media conversation about mental health than there are clinicians.  In all fairness, the sensitivity involved with mental health topics like anxiety and depression is one reason for that imbalance, as is concern for the impact that social contact and responsiveness (or lack of) has on the relationships between patients and mental health clinicians.


Yet consider other therapeutic areas as well.  Neurology, podiatry, dermatology, whatever.  No other area can claim the same high-quality conversation, debate, sharing, and engagement in social media that oncology has.


Sure, you can certainly find clinicians in those other areas involved in the social media conversation that takes place.  Yet you can’t find them in either the impressive numbers or stature that oncology offers.


And it all starts at the top.


Consider this my personal welcome to Dr. George W. Sledge Jr., your Immediate Past President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, who is now a regular blog contributor on this very website.  In his first article, he comments on the lack of appreciation oncologists have for the history of your profession.


It’s impactful that the leaders in the field of oncology embrace social media and take to blogs, Twitter, Facebook and more to participate in conversation.  The very organization that leads oncologists, ASCO itself, has been incredibly forward-thinking and adept at encouraging, embracing and harnessing the social conversation that takes place during its events and beyond.  It even offers its own online community, ASCO Connection, where conversation and content on all areas of oncology can be found.  Dr. Sledge is a frequent contributor there too.


And even though Dr. Sledge lays out valid reasons that drive the oncologist’s lack of appreciation for history, I think it’ll be different moving forward.  When we all look back at the start of impactful social media conversation and its effects on healthcare and clinical practice, oncologists will be able to say they led the way.  And that’s a chapter that will never fall out of date and a story that will never be missed, because you’re part of the story.


If you’re reading my blog here at Oncology Times, you’re surely interested in the Web and in what people have to say on it.  Well, guess what?  Since you’re in the same therapeutic area we are, we’re interested in what you have to say too.


So follow your leaders.  Get onto Twitter, a blog, or somewhere else and start saying it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nothing like a punchy headline to draw you in.


Now that I have your attention, I am in fact going to deliver on the promise made in the headline.  I’m going to tell you how to learn what’s going on at impactful conferences while you’re not even there.


It’s as simple as following hashtags.


What’s a hashtag? Here’s the Wiktionary definition, which is quite succinct and descriptive:


“A tag embedded in a message posted on the Twitter microblogging service, consisting of a word within the message prefixed with a hash sign.”


That means when someone posts something on Twitter, any word with “#” in front of it becomes a hashtag.  Other users search for these hashtags in order to filter the conversation.  For example, if I search for the hashtag #oncology, I’m only going to see posts with that hashtag included.  That makes it pretty likely that the content of those posts is relevant to whatever oncology topic(s) I’m interested in.


It’s quite effective for sifting through all the noise and honing in on what you want to learn about or see.


It’s also become quite common for people attending conferences to tweet using a specific hashtag related to the conference.  I’ve done this dozens of times myself.  This week, in fact, I’m attending BlogWorld Expo in New York City and will be tweeting with the hashtag #BWENY when I post something about the conference. 


Most of the time conference organizers now establish and publicize their own hashtags in order to capitalize on the social media conversation that takes place now during any conference.


The nature of a conference makes it a natural buzz-generator for social media activity.  We’re a society now driven by information-sharing about whatever we believe has social capital – things like travelling, learning, teaching, and networking are all valuable and educational points of social discussion, and all take place during conferences.  Hence, during any notable conference, you can turn to social media to find and learn a lot about what’s being learned, taught and revealed there.


As an example, consider the recently completed FutureMed conference, which took place a few weeks ago in California.  It’s one of the most dynamic and forward-looking events in healthcare, yet it’s certainly not something many people from small or community-based oncology practices can afford to attend (at a cost of $7,500).  However, do a simple Twitter search (that’s if you’re new to it) and you’ll find all the tweets from people who were there.


And just so you know, people tweet everything from conferences: key statistics and research, important speaker remarks from sessions, people they’ve met in the hallway, things they’ve learned that will change their practice habits, and much more. 


For example, simply searching on the hashtag #futuremed (either during the conference or after) lets you learn about the following innovative and educational topics that we’re discussed at the conference:


·    From @daniel_kraft: "DNA sequencing will become as ubiquitous as the stethoscope in medicine" w/ $800B+ economic impact. #futuremed

·    From @HugoR: The Human Body, Searchable in 3-D #health #FutureMed #innovation

·    From @ezraklein: Why American healthcare costs so much depicted in 1 graphic (Hint: it's not cause we're fat.) #futuremed

·    From @ePatientDave: Wow: Environmental Work Group analyzed 10 random umbilical cords from 5 states - AVERAGE 232 industrial chemicals each #futuremed

·    From @ePatientDave: Check out Sophia's integrative medicine case studies (on #futuremed

·    From @ePatientDave: It's becoming apparent - docs who don't keep up on these trends will start to look like idiots to leading e-patients. #futuremed

·    From @Ciscogiii: My favorite HIV/AIDS prevention ad but apparently it's too strong for North America #futuremed


To make it easy, here’s a full list of #futuremed tweets from May 10 through May 21.  You’ll find a ton of useful comments, links and knowledge about healthcare.


To sum it all up, here’s one more tweet to consider:


·    From @npicme: I feel like I've gotten a year's worth of education by reading the great tweets under #futuremed& #FMRevolution past few days.


So here’s the trick to being in two places at once: during and after a conference that you couldn’t attend, spend 30 minutes searching Twitter for information about the conference.  Chances are, someone there is sharing a lot of information about what’s being taught and said – all so you can absorb it as if you were there yourself.


Welcome to social learning in healthcare.



Thursday, May 19, 2011

You spend a great deal of your time answering questions.


Questions on treatment recommendations, diagnoses, research, palliative care, prognoses, medications, and countless other topics.


Several of my recent posts have focused on sharing information and answering questions in social media to enrich the physician-patient dialogue and even facilitate conversation on difficult topics.  We all know that empowered patients do their homework online nowadays, and it’s far easier for people to become educated behind a veil of anonymity rather than have a difficult conversation directly from the start.


However, in some cases, open conversation is also a therapeutic remedy.  For example, have you used Quora yet?


Quora has been somewhat of a hot topic over the last few months, as the site’s post-a-question-get-multiple-answers format has fueled both intrigue and interest across the globe.  It’s literally that simple – you post a question, and anyone on the site can post an answer.  You can also search for the answer to a question you have that may have already been answered, or you can post answers to questions yourself. 


Because of that unique format, Quora is a little different from other social sites in various ways.

·    It offers a slightly more complete user profile than Twitter, for those that take advantage of it (here’s mine, for example) – this lets other users more easily assess your qualifications and knowledge.

·    It offers a rich and robust type-to-search functionality, which makes it easy to filter down content to the most relevant information.

·    It has a high number of professional and business users, and the answers to posted questions tend to come from mostly high-qualified individuals (depending on your own criteria, of course).


Quora is certainly worth your time to check out, as the site holds a treasure-trove of information for all stakeholders in the oncology care continuum.  Other social sites connect oncology professionals in meaningful ways – read how and why here – yet Quora allows users to easily exchange a far greater depth of content.  It’s more LinkedIn Groups or Sermo than it is Twitter.


And that adds up to a powerful array of information for everyone – patients, analysts, researchers, administrators, and insurers.  And of course, it allows for powerful interactions between clinicians.


Just check out the dynamic information exchange that takes place in the answers posted to the following questions.


·    Should the empowered patient be considered an expert in their own disease?

·    What are some ways to help somebody deal with breast cancer?

·    How important is a primary care physician?


There are responses from patients, physicians, and others alike.  Like anything else nowadays, it requires you to apply a personal filter to what you read.  And certainly you can find deep information elsewhere online, not to mention notably quicker in many cases.  Yet Quora adds a personal and customized aspect to the information you get, and that’s quite valuable.


Post a question.  Post a response.  Check it out.