Putting Social Media to Work in the Health Care Industry

20 07 2012

Guest post by Atara Lakritz, an intern in Access Computer’s summer internship program

Facebook is expected to pass the 1 billion user mark by mid-August of this year (the 12th, to be exact). Twitter users hit 100 million active users earlier this year. With each passing day, social media websites of all kinds are only gaining in popularity. Those users will always seek medical advice in one form or another.

Especially in the US, the doctor-patient relationship is of pressing value. So why not utilize social media to further the influence and important role doctors play in the lives of their patients? Access Computer specializes in social media marketing for Metro Detroit’s local medical community. While many physicians and dentists once thought Facebook and Twitter wouldn’t be able to help their practices, they now see the light. Contact Access today to learn how social media can help your medical or dental practice.

I recently read an interesting article about how more doctors are taking advantage of social media. Pamela Lewis Dolan at amednews writes:

Through social media, physicians can gain insight into what patients are willing to do to improve their health and what obstacles stand in their way, Kevin Abramson said in the PwC report. He is director of marketing planning for OptumHealth, a health management solutions company that is a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group.

Chris Keating, a physical therapist who manages social media activities for Strive Physical Therapy and Sports Rehabilitation in New Jersey, said Strive’s social media activities give him an outlet to find out what services and events interest people. When he posts photos of an event Strive held in the community, he’ll ask Facebook followers what events, such as screenings for certain medical conditions, they would like to see. It’s a way to get the information you want in a conversational way, he said.

61% of patients say they trust information posted by physicians on social media.
Jessica Logan, social media and online content specialist for the University of California, San Diego Health Sciences marketing and communications department, said she sees a lot of trends developing on Twitter that could indicate a need in the community. For example, she said she has seen a lot of discussion on ulcerative colitis. From a social media content perspective, she knows the community could benefit from her posting more information about that topic. From a business perspective, the conversations could help guide product or service development efforts.

Although a small physician practice might not have the manpower to manage social media efforts, they are at an advantage when it comes to acting on information due to the smaller number of people making decisions. While it would be difficult for a large institution like UC San Diego to institute a program or specialized service immediately, a small practice has that flexibility.

Jason Hwang, MD, an internist and executive director of health care at the Innosight Institute, a San Francisco-based research organization focusing on education and health care, said social media could provide a new way of tracking population health. Tracking health trends is becoming increasingly popular, as many practices move toward medical home and shared savings models. It also could identify “hot spots” for disease outbreaks.

“A hospital or health system could engage social media to see what their patients are talking about and subsequently target those hot spots with certain therapies or interventions,” he said.

Improve customer service
How a physician practice or hospital responds to negative comments and complaints can carry equal or more weight than positive consumer engagement, according to the PwC report. Unlike customer service issues brought to a practice’s attention in a survey, complaints made on social media can be addressed — and often remedied — immediately, because there is an outlet for a dialogue.

Even though specific details should be kept offline, practices can respond in public with an apology and offer to correct the situation so that others can see action being taken. Logan said when other social media users see that a problem is being handled right away, they come to realize that customer service is taken seriously. It also gives the practice a chance to know about situations immediately so they are remedied and not exacerbated by an upset patient.

Gather feedback on medications
Jared Rhoads, senior research analyst with CSC’s Global Institute for Emerging Healthcare Practices, said feedback on therapies is one of the most valuable uses for social media — and possibly one of the easiest to facilitate.

“If 10,000 people start talking about a side effect of a drug, it won’t be that hard to find that out,” he said.

Trends on Twitter sometimes indicate medical needs in the community. Monitoring Twitter buzz surrounding a certain drug, for example, would offer great insight into how patients are reacting to it. Not only is information on side effects useful, but information on therapies that are working well is valuable to physicians, he said. There may be insight about a therapy the physician hasn’t tried, or an alternative therapy he learns about through patient interactions on social media.”

As the social media explosion continues, an increasing number of medical professionals will look to the social networks of Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus to help them communicate with patience and bolster their practices.





Google Drive to Compete with DropBox

9 02 2012

At Access Computer we have many of our clients using DropBox for file transfers. However, all that might change in the next couple week’s as Google releases the much awaited Google Drive. Here’s a great article in the Next Web by Matt Brian:

 

Google is reportedly close to launching its long awaited cloud storage service Drive, delivering a personal file-synchronisation platform that will allow users to store and copy files between computers and mobile devices.

The Wall Street Journal cites sources familiar with the matter, which state that Drive will facilitate the storing of photos, documents and videos on Google’s servers, allowing them to instantly share them with other people.

Google Drive is tipped to launch in the ‘coming weeks or months’ and is expected to be free for most users and businesses. As with Dropbox, Google is likely to introduce a paid storage option for users that wish to store large amounts of files.

Google already allows users to upgrade their Gmail and Picasa storage, so it would likely incorporate the same structure into its new Drive service. Prices start at $5 for 20GB, so it would be inexpensive for users if the search giant was to adhere to the same strategy.

In November, we reported that Google was starting to introduce references to its cloud storage service inside Google Docs, which could be unlocked to enable a “Download Google Drive” option within the website itself.

The option looked to only be available to users with the correct privileges, suggesting it could be an option for Google employees, but highlighted an option that could possibly initiate the download of an application that would sync their entire Google Docs archive to their new Google Drive account or vice versa – when it launched.

Google is tipped to launch mobile applications and a desktop app, keeping files synchronised between devices. Whether iOS and Windows Phone users will be able to utilise the service on their smartphones and tablets remains to be seen, for Google to achieve mass-penetration, it almost certainly has to do so.





Want an Ice Cream Sandwich? New Android Unveiled

19 10 2011

From Jason O. Gilbert on the Huffington Post:

Summer may have ended, but Android users are getting ready for some Ice Cream Sandwich.

In a joint event in Hong Kong with Samsung announcing the Galaxy Nexus smartphone, Google also unveiled the newest update to its Android operating system: Android 4.0, code-name “Ice Cream Sandwich.”

“While people like Android, and while people need Android, people didn’t love Android,” said Android Director Matias Duarte while introducing the OS, which features an aesthetic overhaul to make it more visually pleasing overall.

Among the major changes coming to Ice Cream Sandwich are:

– A new font called “Roboto,” which is a semi-circular, more rounded font than usual.
– Home, back, menu and search buttons being moved onto the touchscreen, especially important as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus has no physical hardware buttons.
– General overhaul of the user interface. Expect much larger pictures for contacts, the ability to resize widgets on the homescreens, a favorites tray that is always visible at the bottom of the screen for quick launch of contacts, apps and webpages.
– The ability to swipe right or swipe left on any screen. Much like on Windows Mango, Android will now give users the option to swipe screens to the side to switch between panes.
– The ability to take screenshots by simultaneously pressing the power button and the home button.
– A new data usage view. In the settings, a data monitor will show how much data the user has eaten up in the month; this monitor will give the user an option to set a threshold where the user will be warned or where data will be shut off. It will also give the user the ability to view how much data each app is using over time, including in the foreground (while it’s running) or in the background (while any other app is running), giving the user the option to always turn off data for a given app while it runs in the background.\
– Camera from the lock screen. A camera button has been added to the lock screen for quick access.
– Easier photo sharing. Pictures can now be shared to any app, like Facebook, Google+ or Twitter, that hooks in to Android’s PhotoShare platform.
– Photo editing tools. After taking a picture, users will be able to crop, remove red eye and perform several other edits, including add Instagram-like filters to their photos (Android still currently lacks the Instagram app that is so popular on iOS)
– Native panorama photo-taking capability. The camera has the ability to instantly take seamless panorama shots.
– Timelapse video. Native to the video app will be a timelapse option to make super sped-up videos.
– Take photos while recording a video.
– Zoom while recording video.
– A new people app, which integrates the contact information from several social networks and aggregates updates from those networks into a single feed (also familiar to Mango users).
– “Quick Response” to phone calls. If you receive a phone call and don’t want to answer it, you don’t just have to ignore it anymore; you can send a canned response text message to the person telling them why you are busy.
– Android Beam. With NFC-enabled Android phones, two Android users will be able to share any content by simply pressing the backs of their phones together and pressing the “Beam” button.
-Face Unlock. There is an option to unlock the phone using facial recognition: If your phone recognizes your face, it unlocks; if the phone does not recognize your face, it stays unlocked. For what it’s worth, this technology did not work on stage, much to the presenter’s chagrin.

This big update to the Android platform will be available for users with Gingerbread devices on October 19 or soon thereafter, according to Engadget.

Check out the cool new features available on the upcoming Galaxy Nexus smartphone, and then look at many of the features detailed above in our slideshow:





Google Buys Zagat Restaurant Ratings Company

8 09 2011

Google has just bought Zagat, the internationally known restaurant ratings company. On the NY Times‘ Deal Book blog, Michael J. De La Merced filed this report:

Google has agreed to buy Zagat, the guide to restaurants around the country, in an effort by the search giant to expand its local offerings.

Terms of the transaction, including price, were not disclosed. Tim and Nina Zagat, the husband-and-wife team behind the company, said they planned to remain involved in the business as co-chairs.

Known for its 30-point scale and its quote-laden reviews, Zagat has grown from a two-page typed list to a global empire with millions of loyal readers and reviewers happy to rave about their favorite restaurants and bars.

Letter from Nina and Tim Zagat
But the company has faced several challenges in recent years, notably a slew of Internet-based competitors that provide an alternate outlet for restaurant reviews. Zagat (pronounced zuh-GAHT) has responded by partnering with a number of online players, including Facebook, Foursquare and, yes, Google.

A little over three years ago, Zagat put itself up for sale and hired Goldman Sachs as an adviser. It wrapped up that effort six months later after running into difficulties in the sales process.

In a blog post, Marissa Mayer, Google’s top executive for local and location services, wrote that Zagat would become the cornerstone for the search giant’s local offerings.

“Their iconic pocket-sized guides with paragraphs summarizing and ’snippeting’ sentiment were ‘mobile’ before ‘mobile’ involved electronics,” she wrote.

She had more to say on Twitter in verse form, writing:

Delightful deal done
Zagat and Google now one
foodies have more fun!

For their part, the Zagats wrote in a letter on their company Web site, “We couldn’t be happier to see our baby placed into such good hands and are looking forward to being Googlers in the years ahead.”

More cheekily, Zagat scored the deal a perfect 30 on its Web site.

Zagat was advised by the Peter J. Solomon Company and Allen & Company.





Facebook Updates Privacy Settings (Again)

24 08 2011

Once again Facebook is changing its privacy settings and options. In a blog post yesterday Facebook’s Chris Cox laid out the changes, which include options when you detag yourself in a photo.

In an article in the Huffington Post, blogger Bianca Bokser surmised this all has something to do with Google+. She wrote: “Yet the latest update also appears to be a defensive move against Google+, a social networking service Google launched in July that has attempted to woo users away from Facebook by offering several unique privacy and sharing features. Facebook’s latest revamp underscores the increasing pressure the social networking site is facing from competitors and appears an attempt to assure users their personal data is safe with Facebook.”

Here’s Chris Cox’s blog post with screen shots:

Today we’re announcing a bunch of improvements that make it easier to share posts, photos, tags and other content with exactly the people you want. You have told us that “who can see this?” could be clearer across Facebook, so we have made changes to make this more visual and straightforward. The main change is moving most of your controls from a settings page to being inline, right next to the posts, photos and tags they affect. Plus there are several other updates here that will make it easier to understand who can see your stuff (or your friends’) in any context. Here’s what’s coming up, organized around two areas: what shows up on your profile, and what happens when you share something new.

On Your Profile

Your profile should feel like your home on the web – you should never feel like stuff appears there that you don’t want, and you should never wonder who sees what’s there. The profile is getting some new tools that give you clearer, more consistent controls over how photos and posts get added to it, and who can see everything that lives there.

Inline Profile Controls

Before: Most of the settings for stuff on your profile were a few clicks away on a series of settings pages.

Going Forward: Content on your profile, from your hometown to your latest photo album, will appear next to an icon and a drop-down menu. This inline menu lets you know who can see this part of your profile, and you can change it with one click.

A side benefit of moving most settings to inline controls is a much shorter and simpler Settings page.  A bunch of settings that were there previously have been moved directly inline, and a handful have been replaced or removed. (You can find more detail on the profile settings here:http://www.facebook.com/about/control)

Profile Tag Review

Before: Photos you were tagged in would show up on your profile as soon as you were tagged. One of the top requests we’ve heard is for the ability to approve these tags before they show up on your profile.

Going Forward: You can choose to use the new tool to approve or reject any photo or post you are tagged in before it’s visible to anyone else on your profile.

Content Tag Review

Before: Anyone who could see your photos or posts could add tags to them.

Going Forward: You have the option to review and approve or reject any tag someone tries to add to your photos and posts.

View Profile As…

Before: We heard you wanted to know what your profile looked like to others, but the tool for doing this was behind the scenes.

Going Forward: This tool is now on the top of your profile where it’s easier to access.

When You Share

 

In addition to the profile changes, it will now be more visually straightforward to understand and control who can see your posts at the time you share them. We’re also broadening the functionality of the sharing tool: now if you want to make your posts more expressive, we’ve made it simple to add location and tag the people you’re with.

Inline controls

 

Before: Controls for who could see your stuff on Facebook lived on a settings page a few clicks away.

Going Forward: The control for who can see each post will be right inline. For each audience, there is now an icon and label to help make it easier to understand and decide who you’re sharing with. Also, when you tag someone, the audience label will automatically update to show that the person tagged and their friends can see the post.

This dropdown menu will be expanding over time to include smaller groups of people you may want to share with, like co-workers, Friend Lists you’ve created, and Groups you’re a member of. These will make it easy to quickly select exactly the audience you want for any post.

If you’re posting to Facebook from a phone or app that does not yet support inline controls, your setting will be the same as it is today. You can change this with a new setting available on your privacy settings page. (For a guided tour of these new controls, go here:http://www.facebook.com/about/sharing)

Word Change: “Everyone” to “Public”

Before: You had the option to share a post with Everyone, which meant that anyone on the internet might be able to see it.

Going Forward: We are changing the name of this label from Everyone to Public so that the control is more descriptive of the behavior: anyone may see it, but not everyone will see it. This is just to make the setting more clear, and it’s just a language change.

Change Your Mind After You Post?

Before: Once you posted a status update, you couldn’t change who could see it.

Going Forward: Now you’ll be able to change who can see any post after the fact. If you accidentally posted something to the wrong group, or changed your mind, you can adjust it with the inline control at any time.

Tag Who You’re With, or What You Want to Talk About

Before: You could only tag someone if you were friends with them, and you could only tag a Page if you had liked it. This felt broken or awkward if you had a photo album of co-workers and had to become Facebook friends to tag them in the photos.

Going Forward: You can add tags of your friends or anyone else on Facebook. If you are ever tagged by a non-friend, it won’t appear on your profile unless you review and approve the post.

Tag Locations in Posts

Before: You could only “check in” to locations using the Places feature on a smart phone.

Going Forward: Now you can add location to anything. Lots of people use Facebook to talk about where they are, have been or want to go. Now you can add location from anywhere, regardless of what device you are using, or whether it is a status update, photo or Wall post. Of course, you can always choose not to add location at all.

As a part of this, we are phasing out the mobile-only Places feature. Settings associated with it are also being phased out or removed. (You can read more about how location works and settings affected here: http://www.facebook.com/about/location)

Remove Tags or Content from Facebook

Before: When we asked, people had different ideas of what removing a tag actually did, and different motivations for wanting to remove them.

Going Forward: Your options for removing tags or content on Facebook are presented more clearly. Your options are: removing from your profile, removing the tag itself, messaging the photo owner or tagger, and requesting the content get taken down. (More details on tagging can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/about/tagging)

These changes will start to roll out in the coming days. When they reach you, you’ll see a prompt for a tour that walks you through these new features from your homepage. In the meantime, you can read more about the upcoming changes from the links throughout this post. We’ll look forward to your feedback on all of this.

Taken together, we hope these new tools make it easier to share with exactly who you want, and that the resulting experience is a lot clearer and a lot more fun.





Facebook and Skype Team Up for Video Chat

6 07 2011

I just had my first Facebook video chat. Think Skype inside the Facebook platform with your friends who are already connected to you on Facebook.

Google should take note that anyone who is on Facebook already and has a video camera, microphone and speakers hooked up can use Facebook Video Chat. That’s right, no invitations are needed.

This was just announced this afternoon via a joint press conference from Skype and Facebook. Here’s what William Fenton had to say about the new Facebook Video Chat on PC Magazine’s site:

Watch out Google+, the original social networking goliath isn’t about to get KO’d by some circles, hangouts, and sparks. Today Facebook announced asmarter sidebar, group chat, and integrated video conferencing. Some of it’s available today, and some of it’s on layaway—that is, unless you know how to join early. Here’s what you need to know about today’s announcements.

Smarter Sidebar and Group Chat
Last winter Facebook rolled out a new unified Message system that threaded together messages, chats, texts, and emails. Today they’re making itsmarter. You already have a sidebar that features your most frequent chat buddies; now it’ll scale to size of your browser window.

The other addition is group chat. When it comes to planning your next happy hour, Facebook won’t keep you thirsty. You can start with a conversation with one friend and bring more pals into the mix by clicking “Add Friends to Chat.” Facebook even archives the entire multi-threaded conversation in Messages.

Video Conferencing
We think Skype is great, but it’s only as useful as it is accessible. After Skype added some Facebook smarts to its popular video conferencing service, Facebook is repaying the favor by integrating Skype video calling directly into its Chat. This means that you have all your friends (or at least 750 million of them) corralled into one place. Because it’s built into Chat, the process is simple: Just as you’d initiate a new chat, click a friend’s name; when the window appears, click the new camera icon to initiate a video call. Of course, like any good announcement, it’s not available yet. However—and this is a big however—if you click over to this link you can get it now, though you will have to run a quick installer when you launch that first video conference.





Blogger and Picassa to Be Retired by Google

6 07 2011

Ben Parr, writing for Mashable, explains that Google will retired its acquisitions of Blogger and Picassa and roll those features into Google+:

Say goodbye to the Picasa and Blogger names: Google intends to retire several non-Google name brands and rename them as Google products, Mashable has learned.

The move is part of a larger effort to unify its brand for the public launch of Google+, the search giant’s social initiative.

Blogger and Picasa aren’t going away, of course — they’re two of Google’s most popular products. Instead, according to two sources familiar with the matter, Google intends to rename Picasa “Google Photos” and Blogger will become “Google Blogs.” Several other Google brands are likely to be affected, though our sources made it clear that YouTube would not be rebranded. The technology giant shut down Google Video, its failed web video service, in May.

The move isn’t without precedent; Google acquired JotSpot in 2006 and rebranded it as Google Sites in 2008. In 2007, Google acquired VOIP platform GrandCentral and relaunched it as Google Voice in 2009

Picasa and Blogger were also Google acquisitions, although both companies have been part of the Google empire for far longer. Picasa was acquired in 2004 and Blogger (co-founded by Evan Williams of Twitter) was acquired in 2003 and is one of the top 10 most visited websites in the world. Although the rebranding could upset some existing customers, it also gives Google the ability to completely integrate both services into Google+.

The transition from Picasa and Blogger to Google Photos and Google Blogs will occur “in a month to a month and a half,” we’ve been told. The date aligns with the likely public launch of Google+. Mashable has been told to expect the public debut of Google+ on or before July 31. The date is important because it’s the day all private Google Profiles will be deleted.

We believe Google doesn’t want to have private profiles after the public Google+ launch. Instead, the company is likely to encourage users who want more privacy to use Circles to curate their friend groups.

The brand unification effort will be the largest in company history — it’s never renamed a property as large as Blogger. The popular blog creation service has been receiving a lot of extra love recently. In March, Google announced that Blogger would receive a major overhaul. We doubt many people expected that the overhaul would include a rebranding, though.

Google+ makes perfect sense for Blogger and Picasa — they are both social products that improve as more people use them. It’s important to note that Google+ already has a photos feature, a product that we believe utilizes Picasa technology. It’s also important to note that Google+’s photo feature has no Picasa branding of any kind.

We’ve reached out to Google for comment but have not yet heard back.