All posts in Healthcare

Please help us raise money for Cabot!

Cabot Westside Health Center is part of the St. Luke’s system and located near our office in the Crossroads district in downtown Kansas City. Cabot is a unique hospital that not a lot of people seem to know about, though they’ve been here since 1906 – they are a non-profit that serves the needs of anyone that comes in the door, regardless of their ability to pay. They see an average of 7900 patients per year, and about half of those are children. They offer both medical and dental care. Every staff member is fluent in both English and Spanish. For many people Cabot makes the difference in receiving healthcare or not, sometimes when it’s desperately needed. Cabot has historically run on grant funding and not established a donor program, but costs of supplies combined with an increase in patients has produced a shortage in funds, and they needed to establish a donor program that can remain in place for years to come.

Working with our Crossroads neighbors and friends, Meers Advertising, Westside Studio and Prizm Productions, we’ve already crafted digital and print assets for an interactive new “Cabot Cares” campaign. We’re now doing the foundational work of establishing a presence for them online so people can learn more about them, reach someone on various social networks, and share the information about the good work Cabot does in the community, so we can help them raise funds to continue providing these services.

We need your help, though, to get the word out about Cabot, what they do, how they help keep Kansas City healthy and why every donation matters, no matter how large or small. Will you please tweet, Facebook or blog about Cabot and encourage others to do the same? The babies, kids and adults they see as patients everyday will be so grateful for your support!

We’ve provided some assets to use on your sites, blogs and social networks throughout this holiday season. Your participation to help Cabot spread the word is so appreciated, as are your donations. Please feel free to use any of the following digital assets to help distribute Cabot’s message:

The Main Site

Donation Form Online

The Social Accounts


YouTube link:
Facebook Tab:

A Day at Cabot (Flickr Slideshow)

Flickr Link:

Tweets (Less Than 140 Characters)
Tweet about Foursquare Checkins during First Friday
First Friday folks! Please checkin to places you visit on Nov 5th via Foursquare.  When you do, Missouri Bank donates $1 to @CabotCares!

Tweets about donating to Cabot
Please help us raise healthcare funds for Cabot, who take care of Kansas City’s needy babies, children & adults:

Your healthcare donations mean a lot to @CabotCares! Please visit to learn what a few dollars can provide.

Spread the Word Graphics
Site Badges:
Little Boy Poster:
Little Girl Poster:

Official Press Release

If you’d like to interview our CEO Lisa Qualls or Cabot’s Executive Director Liz Cessor about this campaign, please contact us at 816-359-3554 to arrange it!

Cabot Cares about Kansas City. Thank you for helping us show that Kansas City cares about Cabot!

Social Media in Healthcare…Medicine for the Masses: Part 3

It’s time for installment number three of our blog series discussing social media in healthcare.  Quick recap, in our first post, we took some time to get a full picture of how social media is currently being used in healthcare.  If you missed that post, check it out here.  In the second post, we looked a little more closely at the reasons it is challenging to use social media in healthcare and some of the fears hospitals and doctors have in regards to social media.  If you missed that post, read it here.

For part three, the plan is to get a little more specific in understanding doctor/patient relationships.  The relationship between a doctor and his or her patients is extremely important to the overall healthcare process.  It is important that patients have a certain level of trust in their healthcare providers.  I mean, this person is giving me advice, prescribing medicine, performing procedures that directly impact my health.  This should be an individual that I would literally trust my life with.  Let’s start with how patients can use social media to increase the value of their healthcare.

I remember when I was a little kid, I started going to a new family doctor.  I was about five years old at the time.  Naturally I wasn’t too eager to trust this adult that I had never met before.  However, after a few visits, I started to feel more comfortable around this doctor and after a few years worth of visits, I would say I really trusted this guy.  My trust grew as I got to know my doctor a little more, and as his health advice and procedures worked the way he said they would.  Let me make one thing clear: Nothing can replace this kind of relationship growth.  The best way to gain trust for someone is interaction over time.  But what should I do now?

I just moved to Kansas City, truly away from home for the first time.  For the first time in my life (at least what I can remember) I am looking for a new doctor.  I have absolutely no clue where to start.  I want to be sure to pick the right person, someone I can trust, but have no way of getting information about the doctors in my area without visiting each one right?  Wrong.  According to Q1 productions 60 million consumers interact and discuss their health-care online. Over 320 hospitals have Twitter accounts with almost 250 hospitals on Facebook.  In my research for these posts, I came across some pretty interesting resources for people in the exact same situation I’m in.  There is a great article on Mashable called Smarter Healthcare: How Social Media is Revolutionizing Your Doctor Visits. If you have a few free minutes, it’s definitely worth thumbing through.  The article mentions a few online services that help in finding doctors.  I’ve listed them below:

  • Vitals- Will give you information about a doctor based on a variety of data, or will help you find the doctor you need
  • HealthGrades- An independent healthcare rating organization that grades healthcare providers on a variety of variables
  • Find a Doc- Service that helps you find the right doctor based on consumer ratings
  • Rate MDs- Similar to Find a Doc, a service that lets you give your doctors a rating and allows you to view what others thought as well
  • ZocDoc- Service that helps you find a doctor in the area and even lets you schedule an appointment online (unfortunately, this is only available in NYC)

In the first post, I mentioned some facts about how Americans search.  If you missed those, go back and look at them.  The bottom line is, people use the internet to research their health.  There are great sites like WebMD, Revolution Health and Yahoo! Health that provide accurate health information to individuals.  Chances are, a patient will feel much more comfortable asking a doctor questions if he or she has already done some research on their own.  Using these resources can help patients learn what questions to ask and what words to use when discussing an issue with a doctor.  There is also a large number of Facebook groups (roughly 1,200!) that advocate finding a cure for specific diseases.  This could be a great way to get information on a disease and learn how you can help find a cure.

So great, patients can use social media to strengthen the doctor patient relationship, but how does a doctor or healthcare professional do the same?  This gets a little trickier.  Recall the Children’s Mercy social media panel discussion I mentioned in the first two posts.  If you still haven’t watched the video, do so here.  Ben Dillon (Co-owner of Geonetric, a web software solutions company that focuses on healthcare) was one of the speakers.  He made some great points about how hospitals and doctors can use social media to the benefit of the doctor/patient relationship.  Mr. Dillon stated that a lot of Geonetric’s clients are hospitals trying to learn how to engage patients with social media and mentioned two specific ways that hospitals can leverage social media to increase benefits to patients.  The first is enlisting patients to blog about the hospital.  This is a great way to provide unofficial information about the hospital to potential future patients.  Brilliant.  This could ease some of the fears regarding regulations about what can and cannot be said by a healthcare professional.  It is also a great way to involve patients that were really satisfied with their care.  The second way was having doctors post a blog.  The idea here is to keep the topics general.  You don’t need to get specific or provide details.  This does two things: It gives the the patient a feeling of familiarity with the doctor and showcases the doctors expertise.

In the second post of this series, I mentioned a New England Journal of Medicine article called Practicing Medicine in the Age of Facebook. The author of this article presents some very real fears experienced when a former patient friended him on Facebook.  This is the type of situation that gives doctors and other healthcare professionals nightmares: Interacting with or mentioning patients accidentally online.  In fact, Mr. Dillion mentioned a client of his that had recently fired four nurses for talking about patients online.  The regulations are tight, there’s no way around it. An article on entitled Social Media in Healthcare: Barriers and Future Trends makes a great point about hospitals walking a fine line.  The issue is that hospitals and doctors want to provide health care information online, but want to avoid giving healthcare advice online.  A doctor can be held accountable for healthcare advice, but objective information is less of an issue.  The article simply states that doctors have to be careful and make sure the information posted online is generic and information only, not advice.  This is not meant to scare anyone away from the space, the benefits are too important.  The more familiar a patient feels with his or her healthcare provider, the more likely it becomes that this individual will follow the healthcare provider’s advice.  In the same way, the more a doctor or nurse knows about a patient, the more individualized advice he or she can give to that patient.

If you have time after reading this post, please check out all of the links.  A lot of these resources provide some great information and insight on the issue.  Also, be on the lookout Thursday, July 15 for the final post of this series.  We’ll do a recap of what we’ve uncovered so far and take a glimpse into what the future holds for social media and healthcare.

Social Media in Healthcare…Medicine for the Masses: Part 2

Alright, time for round #2.  In the first part of this series, I talked about what’s currently being done with social media in the health care field.  It was A LOT of information.  If you haven’t checked it out, do so here.  After researching all of the really innovative ways in which hospitals and healthcare professionals are using social media, I began to wonder about how they do it.  So that is where we will be going today.  Hopefully by the end of this post, we will be able to see why social media in healthcare is such a intricate topic and how those who are already using social media figured it out.

For various reasons, I’ve been to my local emergency room quite a few times.  After talking with the nurse at the desk for what seems like an eternity to update all of my personal information, I’m always handed a packet of information about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, more commonly referred to as HIPAA.  Do I ever read this packet? Absolutely not.  Usually, I put it back on the counter so they aren’t wasting the paper on me.  It’s not that I don’t recognize the need for the information, it’s just not the most captivating read.  For those of you getting ready to exit out of your browser thinking that I’m going to try and explain every aspect of HIPAA in the next couple of paragraphs, don’t.  I’m not even going to give it a shot.  I searched around on the internet, trying to find a quick overview of the legislation and couldn’t find a whole lot that was short enough.  I did find one article that summed it up fairly well, but I still don’t want to waste anyones time trying to explain it.  You can check out the article here, and I will summarize HIPAA as legislation that protects your personal health informtation.  Basically, hospitals and doctors can’t share your information with just anyone.

HIPAA creates a headache for hospitals and doctors when it comes to social media.  There are so many regulations regarding the methods by which a doctor can share information with a patient, that tweeting medical information is enough to give a doctor nightmares.  I came across an interesting article in The New England Journal of Medicine. The article is written from the prospective of a doctor who was sent a friend request through Facebook by a former patient.  From the perspective of doctors and hospitals, it is understandable to question the appropriateness of such a situation.  What if the doctor has pictures on his or her Facebook profile that aren’t very professional?  What if these pictures hurt his or her credibility as a physician?  What if the former patient asks the doctor a medical question through a wall post?  Would answering violate HIPAA?  These are all legitimate questions to ask and risks to consider.  Check out these quotes:

“Caution is recommended . . . in using social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace. Items that represent unprofessional behavior that are posted by you on such networking sites reflect poorly on you and the medical profession. Such items may become public and could subject you to unintended exposure and consequences.”- Harvard Medical School, Dean for Medical Education Jules Dienstag

“Programs/employers are increasingly gaining access to social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace to see what they can learn about candidates.” – Drexel University College of Medicine

These quotes may be alarming as they express concerns that all professionals should consider, in healthcare of otherwise. But take a closer look.  The one thing these quotes don’t do, is tell future doctors that they can’t use social media.  All that is suggested by these quotes is to use caution in what you post, something that is relevant to anyone using social media.  Take a second to look back over the previous post, specifically the 5 examples of how social media is already being used in healthcare.  Live procedures, training, crisis communications, research and education..important steps being taken by the industry today!  The potential benefits are extremely important to both healthcare professionals and patients.  It’s worth finding a way to use the platforms and still meet health privacy regulations.  I came across an interesting article on Top Rank Online Marketing Blog that attempts to make the case for social media in healthcare.  It’s definitely worth the read, check it out here.

So the fears are very real, that much is clear.  At the same time, use of social media in this field is growing.  So how are they doing it?  What type of guidelines are hospitals putting in place to monitor the activities of their employees online?  I found a post from Marketing Your Hospital titled Create a Social Media Policy for Your Hospital. This site has a lot of great information about using social media in a hospital, definitely take the time to read it.  This specific article has some great information about how to put together a social media policy for your hospital.  The writer suggests that hospitals should create a policy that covers both unofficial outposts such as personal blogs and official outposts such as an official hospital blog.  I’ve summarized the main points for each section below:

Unofficial Outposts

  • Guide the employees on use of Social Media- You don’t want to scare them away, just teach them how to use it appropriately
  • Remind employees that their posts reflect on both themselves and the hospital
  • Work with your legal department to develop rules regarding the sharing of personal information
  • Put a policy in place regarding discussions surrounding an individuals job (complaining or negative statements about the place of employment)
  • Make sure employees understand what information they publish publicly and what information is private

Official Outposts

  • Define the reasons for each outpost- what are the goals of the company Twitter account, blog, etc.
  • Ensure everyone using a specific account understands how to do so
  • Include the current policy for corporate branding and identity
  • Teach employees how to handle negative comments/complaints through these accounts
  • Put specific guidelines in place regarding patient information

This information should help anyone trying to figure out how to introduce social media into a hospital/medical practice and really any business looking to create a social media policy.  You can also check this list out for ideas of other businesses that have put social media policies in place.  You can also look through this list of Hospital Social Media Policies.

So that’s it for today, hopefully it’s easier to understand why social media presents such barriers for the healthcare industry.  On deck for next part 3 in this series is a deeper look into the benefits of social media in healthcare and the changes that are occurring with the doctor-patient relationship.  Look for that post Tuesday, July 13th.

Here is a list of links on this topic that may be helpful:

Top Rank Blog


PR Week

Social Media Today


Social Media and HIPAA

Hospital Online Marketing Education

Social Media in Healthcare…Medicine for the Masses: Part 1

Today, we kick off our blog series regarding social media and its uses in healthcare. This is the first of four posts on the topic, and I think it makes sense to layout a roadmap so we can all understand where this blog series is going. Below is a brief outline of what each post will touch on, just so you don’t get the idea that I’m rambling without a goal or purpose.

I.      Current Use/Statistics (7/6/10)
II.     Organization/Legal Issues/Fears/Questions (7/8/10)
III.   Doctor-Patient Relationship (7/13/10)
IV.    Recap/Look into the Future (7/15/10)

As I mentioned in the previous post, a lot of this information is drawn from a social media panel discussion hosted by Meers Advertising at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO.  If you haven’t already watched the recorded video of the event, you should definitely take a look here.  There is a lot of information to get through in four posts, so I figured we would keep it somewhat simple with the first post. The goal today is to paint a picture of how social media is currently being used in healthcare. The plan is to stay away from a lot of analysis or predicting, and really just get a feel for what’s being done in the field.  This is going to require looking at a lot of statistics, but please hang with me… having a better understanding of the status quo is extremely important in understanding why or why not social media will work for healthcare professionals and how it can best be used.

When I first started researching this topic for the social media panel discussion, I watched a short YouTube video called, “Social Media in Healthcare” that had some pretty interesting facts (you can view this video at the bottom of the page).  The original video is somewhat dated, but it has been updated with some new numbers.  I’ll sum up some of the key points below:

  • 60 million consumers interact and discuss their health-care online
  • Roughly 1,200 Facebook pages advocate finding a cure for an illness
  • 72% of patients say they researched their symptoms before visiting their doctor
  • 93% of e-patients say internet provided them with health care information they needed
  • 80% of internet users have looked online for health information

Source: Q1 Productions

These statistics highlight a very important point.  Whenever I speak with a prospective client, I’m usually asked, “Why does it matter if I participate in social media?”  I always try to help those who ask this question realized one thing:  Your brand, your product, your service is already a part of social media.  The question those people should be asking isn’t why they should participate, but whether or not they are willing to allow others to lead the discussion regarding their brand, product, or service. Most of the time, that answer is “no”, and it’s clear from the above statistics that the same situation holds true in healthcare, even though the goals may be different from a for-profit business. Even if healthcare professionals don’t use social media, 60 million consumers make sure the conversation continues to take place online.

I also came across a great presentation put together by Carolyn Grisko & Associates, Inc. called “Healthcare & Social Media: 2009 Trends and Strategy” (You can view this presentation at the bottom of the page).  The entire presentation is great, but the information presented on slides 5-7 is key.  Look at these statistics regarding how Americans search the internet:

  • 36% want to see what other consumers think about medication or treatment
  • 34% use social media
  • 46% use health care portals

Source:”How America Searches: Health and Wellness“- survey by Opinion Research Corp.

These two sets of statistics clearly show that people are using social media to get their hands on healthcare information.  But how have hospitals, doctors, etc. responded to these facts?  I stumbled across a great blog post on Top Rank Online Marketing Blog called, “5 Examples of Social Media in Healthcare Marketing”.

The 5 examples mentioned are:

  • Live Procedures (This is something that we have been contacted about.  A hospital wanted to use our Intefy product to allow medical students to watch a live surgery and ask an observing doctor questions via Twitter or chat)
  • Train Medical Personnel
  • Reach Mainstream Media That Use Social Media
  • Communicate in Times of Crisis
  • Provide Accurate Information to Patients (With With such a large amount of health information available on the web, it may be hard to determine the accuracy or trustworthiness of a source)

There has also been a growth in Twitter accounts, blogs, forums, and networks focused on healthcare. It is clear that social media is becoming more and more important for healthcare providers. There are resources available at the end of this post.

Now that we have a little better mental picture and understanding of how social media is used by healthcare professionals, we can look forward to understanding how these professionals go about organizing a social media strategy and what sort of legal and regulatory issues must be considered by the healthcare field in regards to the use of social media.  Look for that post to be available on Thursday, July 8.


Healthcare & Social Media: 2009 Trends & Strategy



Social Networking



Social Media Panel Discussion for Healthcare Professionals

We are very excited that Fresh ID’s CEO, Lisa Qualls, has been given an awesome opportunity to participate in a social media panel discussion hosted by Meers Advertising at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO on Thursday, June 24.  The panel will discuss topics relating to social media strategy as it relates to not only healthcare, but business in general.

Meers Advertising has put together a great panel of local industry leaders for the event including:

  • Ben Dillon (@benatgeo), eHealth Evangelist and Co-Owner at Geonetric, a web software solutions company out of Cedar Rapids, IA that focuses on healthcare
  • Lisa Qualls (@lqualls4444), CEO for Fresh ID, a Kansas City, MO company focused on experience design and helping businesses integrate technology to expand their brand and improve operational processes and customer communications
  • Mike Lundgren (@mglundgren), Partner and Director of Innovation Strategy at VML, a full-service digital marketing agency out of Kansas City, MO
  • Mike McCamon (@mccamon), Chief Community Officer at, a Kansas City, MO based nonprofit organization dedicated to providing access to safe water and sanitation for communities in Africa, South Asia and Latin America.

Sam Meers (@meerskc) is responsible for organizing the event and will also be participating in the panel discussion.  Sam is President of Meers Advertising, a local Kansas City, MO agency dedicated to helping their clients grow and maintain competitiveness in the ever changing field of advertising.  A strong proponent of advertising and Web strategy to build a brand, Sam has developed his marketing communications beliefs through experience. Founding Meers Advertising in 1993, he brings over 25 years of consumer and business-to-business experience to the company.

Meers Advertising has worked with clients such as National Beef, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, Kansas and Oklahoma, Multi Service Corporation, Axcet HR Solutions, McCownGordon Construction, Human Factors International, Weight Loss Surgical Centers, WageWorks, Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, TransforMED and Geonetric.  The Meers agency was recently mentioned in Target Marketing Magazine for its work with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.

The event will also be available live, online using our own product, Twitterface.  Those wishing to watch the discussion online can do so from and join in the discussion!