One of the challenges we often see in our medical device clients is driving utilization of their devices after a physician has been trained. Recruitment of new users is usually not difficult, the consistent use of the products is where it gets tricky.

The Habit Loop Composes of a Cue, an Action and a Reward

If you haven’t read The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, you need to. The research of Duhigg led to a simple construct of how habits operate and what can you do to disrupt and change them. Think of any habit you may have and you can deconstruct them into these three elements.

  1. Cue: this is the trigger someone experiences that starts the cycle (I’m hungry and I see a Snickers bar)
  2. Action: this is the expression of the routine, whether mental, emotional or physical (I eat the candy bar)
  3. Reward: this is where your brain reinforces the loop if the reward is worthwhile (I taste the gooey sweet chocolate and caramel, feeling less hungry)

My salivary glands are chugging away as I’m writing this last line. I’m sure you wish physicians were salivating for YOUR products.

Habits and Routines are the Foundation of Predictable Results

While we are trying to change or instill a new habit, their current habits are what make clinical outcomes predictable and reliable. It’s sticking to routines and practicing their procedures over and over again that make our physicians fantastic at what they do. If we had the choice, no one will choose a newly minted physician over one that had performed a thousand procedures.

But They Also Prevent Positive Change

Herein lies the conundrum; while habits and routines are an absolute reason why physicians become really good at what they do, they can also be a barrier to something newer and potentially better. They have to develop a new habit or worse, displace an existing one. This is what many medical device companies face when introducing a new product, and even more so when establishing an entirely new procedure.

Forming or Adjusting Habits

Whether you are trying to form a totally new habit with a new procedure or adjusting habits by altering a routine, the thought process is largely the same:

1. Keep changes to a minimal – Right off the bat, make sure you deviate as little as possible from the existing procedural workflow. Every change requires effort. Keep the change small if you can.

2. Motivate to adopt a new habit – Leverage the initial motivation and openness of your customer, if they are already taking a step to be trained, continue to help them see why this change is valuable.

  • Highlight the issue – think about doing an unbranded education to bring attention to the disease and the patients you are trying to help. It could be a patient population suffering from a specific issue that is not very well known or previously not addressed because there were no good solutions, until now. Unbranded is key as your device brand cannot take on disease education and being the solution at the same time.
  • Feature the bright spots – as you scale, there are going to be stories that showcase the new future. Find them, shoot those videos and start to syndicate the bright spots so they surround your target audience as social proof.

3. Address each step of the habit loop – Give your customers explicit examples for each step and put in place a system that reinforces them.

  • Define the cue – Establish what the trigger is. Who is the patient? What physical or emotional scenario will spark this chain reaction? What are some tools that will help uncover these triggers more often? How can you flag these triggers in a way your customer cannot ignore?
  • Teach the action – Make training explicit and memorable. How does it work? What does your customer need to do to become proficient? How can you speed up the proficiency curve? What systems can you put in place so the action step is easy?
  • Architect the reward – Help your customer experience success. What does success look like? How do you highlight success in a repeatable way? How do you make that experience even more impactful? What system can you put in place so the reward keeps paying dividends?

New habits don’t come easy, especially when you’re trying to replace old ones. Trim down your marketing plan and focus on new habit formation so more patients can benefit from a potentially better option and your training efforts don’t go down the drain. Habits take time to form, so continue to tweak your habit-forming system and give it some time to take shape and become institutionalized. Let’s go form some habits!


This is the second post in a series leading up to the TCT 2017 Conference, find the first post here.

This week we are continuing our series analyzing the upcoming TCT (Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics) conference in Denver. In case you missed last week’s blog, we reviewed the TCT 2017 Social Media Faculty, speaking in the “Social Media in Cardiology” series on Nov. 1 from 12-2pm. In our first blog, we focused on the speakers’ online presence, level of influence and their connections to the online health ecosystem.

What are the TCT Social Media Faculty Saying Online?

This week we are focusing on WHAT those speakers say online, specifically on twitter. We used our proprietary MDigitalLife database to pull all tweets from each author over the last year (10.1.16 – 9.31.17) and crunched the numbers to characterize their online activity. First off, we look at the key events driving conversation.

 TCT Social Media Faculty Conversation Peaks at Cardiology Scientific Sessions

As we often see with twitter conversation, annual meetings drove the major spikes in conversation. The TCT SM faculty were most active at ACC 2017, posting over 3,200 times with some form of the ACC hashtag – #ACC17 (1,563), #ACCFIT (606), #ACCEarlyCareer (482), #ACCIC (460), #ACCWIC (172) in March 2017 alone.

Annual Meetings and Cardiology Procedure Hashtags are Used Most Frequently

In the above chart, the blue bars represent the % of TCT SM faculty* who posted with the corresponding hashtag over the last year; the gray shaded bars represent the cumulative total number of posts using the hashtag by all TCT SM faculty combined. You can quickly see that #RadialFirst was used the most, even though it was not shared by 100% of speakers. For those unaware, #RadialFirst refers to physicians stating that the best path to the heart is through the radial artery, so it’s not a surprise to see Interventional Cardiologists using it frequently. Overall, the most commonly utilized hashtags are related to cardiology scientific sessions/annual meetings and procedures/conditions relevant to interventional cardiologists. If you want to connect with the faculty, these are the hashtags to follow and engage with!

TCT SM Faculty Share Cardiology, Health News & Major News Outlet Domains Most Frequently

 Only two domains were shared by all TCT Social Media Faculty, &, indicating a high importance on research and video content. was shared the most with 775 times, followed by with 406 shares. was shared by 85% of the faculty, but Shelley Wood, Managing Editor of TCTMD, did inflate the share numbers with 300+ shares of TCTMD links. The remaining top domains are health and major news outlets. Keep an eye on these domains to stay abreast of topics relevant to the TCT SM faculty.

 US HCP’s Lead the Way in Mentions by TCT SM Faculty

US HCPs, specifically Cardiologists and Interventional Cardiologists, were far and away mentioned most frequently by TCT SM Faculty. The two exceptions in the top 13 were British MDs: Mamas Mamas, an Interventional Cardiologist at Keele University, & Dr. Pascal Meier, Editor-in-Chief Open Heart (BMJ).

At the top of the mentions list is Dr. Sheila Sahni, Interventional Cardiologist & Director of Social Media and Engagement at #UCLAWomensHeart, with 4,164 total TCT SM Faculty mentions and 100% of TCT SM Faculty mentioning her over the last year. Still, the entire group of top mentioned handles is a who’s who list of top HCPs in the cardiology space. Anyone interested in connecting to the online interventional cardiology conversation would be wise to follow and engage with these HCPs and the TCT SM Faculty on Twitter.

Don’t Miss the Social Media in Cardiology Series at TCT 2017!

If you are attending TCT this year, be sure to join the “Social Media in Cardiology” series on Nov. 1. Our own, Greg Matthews (@chimoose) will be speaking on Social Media: The New Platform for Influence in Interventional Cardiology at 1:05pm. Greg will use next-generation analytical tools to reveal current trends of exchanges between interventional cardiologists within social media, which interventional cardiologists are most influential among their peers, and the top 10 most debated interventional topics online in 2017 (to date).

Look for our 3rd installment in this series on TCT’s Social Media in Cardiology focus next week. In the meantime, you can connect with the social media faculty and follow along with their conversations on twitter via the @MDigitalLife’s Twitter List.

Follow Steven Cutbirth on twitter @SvenC; Follow MDigitalLife on twitter @MDigitalLife; Like MDigitalLife on Facebook 

To learn more about how the MDigitalLife Online Health Ecosystem database can reshape the way you interact with doctors, patients, the media & all the important stakeholders of your healthcare company, learn more here.

*Stephanie Gutch is on twitter but has not posted, so she was not included in the TCT SM Faculty percentage calculations.


As the weather turns to fall, we’ve shifted our focus to the upcoming TCT (Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics) conference in Denver. For those who aren’t familiar, TCT is “the world’s largest… educational meeting specializing in interventional cardiovascular medicine. For over 25 years, TCT has been the center of cutting-edge educational content, showcasing the latest advances in current therapies and clinical research.1

This year we are pleased to announce our very own, Greg Matthews (@chimoose) will be speaking on Nov. 1 at 1:05pm as a part of the “Social Media in Cardiology” series. In his session, Social Media: The New Platform for Influence in Interventional Cardiology, Greg will use next-generation analytical tools to reveal current trends of exchanges between interventional cardiologists within social media, which interventional cardiologists are most influential among their peers, and the top 10 most debated interventional topics online in 2017 (to date).

Greg will be joined by a who’s who of social influencers in the TCT 2017 Social Media Faculty:

In order to prepare for TCT’s social media sessions, we used our proprietary MDigitalLife database to better understand the TCT social media faculty and their networks online. Below are a few quick hit stats to help characterize the group.

As a group, the social media faculty have over 350K unique followers on twitter:

Over 12,000 Unique HCPs follow social media faculty members on twitter:

Individually, the social media faculty have impressive followings among key stakeholders: 

Michael Gibson has the largest overall following by far, and as would be expected, leads in MD, Patient, Advocacy, Industry and Media followers as well. After Dr. Gibson, there is a bit more parity among the next speakers, with John Mandrola, Greg Matthews & Sheila Sahni all followed by over 1000 HCPs.

And finally, TCT social media faculty follow key Cardiologist accounts most frequently:

  • Charles M Gibson (@CMichaelGibson) | Cardiologist (followed by 11 social media faculty)
  • Gregg W. Stone MD (@GreggWStone) | Cardiologist (followed by 11 social media faculty)
  • Robert Harrington (@HeartBobH) | Cardiologist (followed by 11 social media faculty)
  • Sheila Sahni (@DrSheilaSahni) | Cardiologist (followed by 11 social media faculty)
  • Robert W. Yeh MD MBA (@rwyeh) | Cardiologist (followed by 11 social media faculty)
  • William W. O’Neill (@BillONeillMD) | Cardiologist (followed by 10 social media faculty)
  • Sunil V. Rao (@SVRaoMD) | Cardiologist (followed by 10 social media faculty)
  • Jeffrey Popma (@PopmaJeffrey) | Cardiologist (followed by 10 social media faculty)
  • Ron Waksman (@ron_waksman) | Cardiologist (followed by 10 social media faculty)
  • Emmanouil Brilakis (@esbrilakis) | Cardiologist (followed by 11 social media faculty)

We will continue this series with posts reviewing all TCT social media session’s topics and an in-depth preview of Greg Matthew’s session “Social Media: The New Platform for Influence in Interventional Cardiology” over the coming weeks.

In the meantime, you can connect with the social media faculty and follow along with their conversations on twitter via the @MDigitalLife’s Twitter List:


Every website is identified and accessed by its own Internet Protocol or IP address, which used to be just a string of seemingly random numbers such as / You can thank “Uniform Resource Locators” or URLs for a more intuitive and human way to access websites, in this case:

“Top Level Domains” (TLDs) are the “.com” part of a URL, the .suffix swapped with a few letters that help identify that website as belonging to a particular industry, specialty, or organization. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) enabled new TLDs in 2012, and since then a few have caught on, such as .edu and .gov.

The big news for healthcare companies and their marketers is the release of .health. Registration through dotHealthLLC for qualified organizations is available through November 30th, after which the TLD is released to the general public. Big names in payors, providers, and pharmacy such as BlueCross BlueShield, Pfizer, the Mayo Clinic, and CVS have already registered and are using the .health TLD.

Major thanks to .Health for sponsoring our SXSW events this year! Headed down to ATX this year? Join us!

Although fewer users are typing URLs, over 1200 TLDs ranging from .pet to .date to .vodka have already been registered by ICANN, and Google claims they have no influence over search results, using them can nonetheless help organizations better identify and protect themselves, and confirm credibility—three needs vitally important to healthcare companies and their HCP, patient, and caregiver audiences.

Benefits also include:

Stake the claim on name and reputation. At the very least, healthcare companies need to realize that if they don’t claim their own .health TLD, someone else likely will. Similar to .com squatting and pirating from the Web 1.0 age, competitors and unscrupulous buyers could conceivably take your domain after November 30th. Now is the time!

Stake the claim on the new and burgeoning .health domain. More than 1500 companies have already registered using this TLD, thousands more to come. So your clients should have first-choice on website name, and take full advantage of this initial industry-only grace period to be ahead of their competitors and differentiate.

Stake the claim on entire disease areas: The opportunity to associate your healthcare company with disease areas is ripe; for example, owning,,, etc. are for those who register early and often. Same rules apply to unique and salient aspects of brands, treatments, etc.

Establish immediate category recognition and company credibility: Akin to .edu and .gov, where users immediately know the kind of website they have visited and feel comfortable with their authority, .health could benefit your franchises and their brands. dotHealthLLC assures a thorough vetting process to build and maintain trust.

Differentiate and gain attention in a crowded market: Specialized companies can use .health to demonstrate their relevance and commitment to healthcare, such as,, and, etc. Affixing .health instantly connects your capabilities to a $3.2 trillion annual vertical.

We therefore recommend our healthcare clients register their own .health TLDs as soon as possible by typing this URL:, The jury is still out on future .health adoption and credibility, but if the early signs and industry trends continue, then this TLD will become a prerequisite for success in 2018 and beyond.

For the last eight years, I’ve built a career around the belief that the work I do every day helps people. As a medtech communications specialist who helps raise awareness about new innovations, the best part of my day is knowing that I’ve educated someone (or their loved ones) about a treatment option that could better manage their disease – and hopefully improve their lives.

So, naturally, I was drawn to understand the plans set out by FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb in his blog post about how the organization will implement The 21st Century Cures Act. His blog cites examples for an actionable work plan that will “modernize” the current state of regulatory programs to “facilitate access to safe and effective new innovation.”

I obviously agree that getting treatments into the hands of those that need them most is paramount. However, the following “Cures” provision prompted me to stop and think about what’s most important when it comes to patient access to medical innovation:

Under provisions of Cures, CDRH exempted more than 70 Class I device types from the requirement to submit to FDA a 510(k) submission. CDRH also proposed exempting another 1,000+ Class II device types from having to submit a 510(k) submission based on an initial determination that premarket review is not necessary to provide a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness. This action will decrease regulatory burdens on the device industry and eliminate private costs and expenditures.

The last sentence struck me most and brings me to my core question: how can we best balance the scale? How can unnecessary regulatory burdens be eliminated, but at the same time, how can we ensure that rigorous trials and supportive evidence continues to be produced? How do we ensure that new, FDA-approved innovation truly improves patient outcomes, and are worth the money? This conundrum is at the heart of the future of the medical device industry.

Last year, a device that had promise to revolutionize the minimally-invasive treatment of coronary artery disease was approved by the FDA. Then, earlier this month, the device was pulled from the market due concerns that it resulted in a significant increase in cardiac events after implantation.

A regulatory action of this kind is not unique. In fact, it’s been happening for many years – a Perspective piece[i] in the New England Journal of Medicine that was published in September 2011 cited a different example, with authors concluding: “…in the interest of advancing human health, patients must have easy access to innovative medical devices and…the approval process needs to be sensible and efficient. But no one’s interest is served by putting defective medical devices onto the market where they cause harm to patients, waste health care dollars, and may kill jobs when they are withdrawn.”

These words were published six years ago. And yet here we are, still grappling with the same issues.

In the end, the solution lies in achieving the right balance: fewer regulatory barriers vs. more clinical scrutiny. We must continue to drive innovation forward to help save lives, but we can’t put too much weight into fast-tracking approvals without the appropriate clinical rigor that provides insight into a technology’s long-term potential.

So, which side do you think should tip the scale?

[i] Curfman, G. D. & Redberg, R. F. (2011). Medical Devices — Balancing Regulation and Innovation. N Engl J Med. 365:975-977. DOI: 10.1056.


When our former colleague and friend, Allie McCormick, – now Innovation Activation and PR Manager, JLABS @ TMC Houston – reached out asking if current colleague Meredith Owen and I would lead a session on the growth of healthcare audiences on social media we enthusiastically said absolutely.

JNJ has built out a beautiful space complete with cutting edge research technology and curated a stellar cohort of early stage life science companies. To give you an introduction to JLABS and the work Allie is doing there, we asked her to answer a few questions:

What is JLABS @ TMC? What are JLABS goals?

JLABS @ TMC is a capital efficient, no strings attached incubator that sits beneath the Johnson & Johnson Innovation umbrella. We provide Life Science startups the infrastructure they need, including wet lab space and equipment, that enables them to simply focus on their science with the ultimate goal of getting solutions into patients faster.

What is the impact JLABS has had or hopes to have on Houston?

We’re building an incredible ecosystem with our partners at the Texas Medical Center, and it is our goal to become the premier destination for Life Science and Biotech startups within the region.

What is your role at JLABS?

My role has three parts:

  1. The first is to support JLABS and our residents from a communications perspective, as well as drive the program strategy and curriculum.
  2. Secondly, I support Johnson & Johnson Innovation for the Texas region, which includes supporting three executives from a communications perspective, and handling any marketing or communications needs within the region.
  3. Lastly, I’m responsible for the Texas ecosystem, and ensuring we’re showing up where we should and partnering with the right people.

Why was it important to host a session on social/digital communications for the JLABS companies?

As the communications lead, I get a lot of questions regarding social. I think most scientists know that it’s valuable, but are unsure how to get started or tap into that value. Being a former employee of W2O Group, I’ve seen the expertise internally and knew they could easily translate this information into something valuable for our companies. And they delivered.

Thanks to Allie and Katelyn Bach’s hard work planning the session, we had a great conversation with JLABS cohort companies and members of the Houston health community. Our session examined the growing online conversation among healthcare professionals, patients, advocates, media and industry; explained the importance of maintaining an active social media presence; informed attendees how to track & leverage online conversations about the topics important to them and gave simple steps to get started on social media.

In addition, the session also covered how the above learnings can be utilized to optimize and target key audiences on social to improve marketing communications, clinical trial recruitment, risk and reputation management and investor relations. For a further recap of the session see Christine Hall’s recap in the TMC News.

Follow Steven Cutbirth on twitter @SvenC; Follow Meredith Owen on twitter @Mere_Owen; and MDigitalLife on twitter @MDigitalLife.

To learn more about how the MDigitalLife Online Health Ecosystem database can reshape the way you interact with doctors, patients, the media & all the important stakeholders of your healthcare company, learn more about us here.


Recently, several colleagues and I had a chance to network, share best practices and brainstorm solutions to industry challenges with more than 50 of our agency peers, pharma clients and top-tier media at the 13th exl Public Relations and Communications Summit. The energy was high and the crowd was never at a loss for words or ideas, with discussion centering on the following themes.

Analytics: Use It or Lose It

From condition education to the value and pricing debate, Analytics helps guide content and channel strategy, customize messages for optimal audience impact and measure ROI – a challenge PR and Comms professionals frequently face compared to other Marketing disciplines. If you are not employing Analytics, you will fall behind the competitive curve.

Deep and Meaningful Engagement: Yes, We Can…

Digital and social communications play an increasingly important role in the overall patient experience, including reaching, influencing and supporting people with divergent needs. The review process may be daunting as pharma continues to become more comfortable with digital and social engagement. But, it is possible to establish branded and unbranded Facebook pages, coordinate Facebook Live events and push the envelope further. Vet concepts in advance, share real-world case studies and trouble-shoot potential issues with Legal, Regulatory and Corporate teams to help minimize potential roadblocks.

Content: Still King if It’s Relevant and Authentic

With the multitude of current and emerging social and digital communications channels, we can expand content reach and impact by repackaging or tailoring it to address the needs of multiple audiences. As an industry, we strive to be authentic and build engaging voices. It can be challenging in our highly-regulated industry, but we can be successful by listening carefully to what is important to our stakeholders, incorporating feedback, flexing based on broader industry trends and being relevant and real as we engage with various audiences.

Value: Like Beauty, It’s in the Eye of the Beholder

Many speakers addressed the value and pricing debate head on. They urged communicators to take a more proactive approach to shape and share the story.

Celgene CEO Mark J. Alles, for example, implored attendees to focus on patient outcomes and clearly convey the life and death difference that pharma innovations make as critical to the industry’s value proposition. Value and price, two separate concepts, do not resonate with detractors, but you can’t argue a patient outcome.

Among other points, Acorda Therapeutics’ CEO Ron Cohen, M.D., noted that the money needed to innovate in healthcare is an investment in the future. Eventually pharma innovations, which may appear costly initially, go generic, broadening their reach, which can improve patient outcomes and decrease cost of care over time. The focus must be on the patient and patient outcomes, as well as healthcare’s impact more broadly.

What’s Next?

As communicators, we are uniquely positioned to play a critical role in helping inform and guide people as they seek health solutions and in demonstrating the value that our industry brings to patients, their caregivers and healthcare providers.

Analytics can help us understand the landscape more clearly and how to be relevant to our audiences. Insights garnered from Analytics, research and our relevant experience combined allow us to create content and communities that educate and meaningfully engage diverse audiences about important health issues.

Our fearless leader, Jim Weiss, has always believed that great people doing great work are key reasons for the firm’s success. We’ve experienced exponential growth in the last year, and we’ll continue to strengthen our talent and capabilities to stay ahead of the curve. Today we announced the hiring of Mary Corcoran who will join the firm as President of Twist Mktg, the second largest firm in W2O’s network. I’m excited to welcome her and sat down with her to get a little more insight into her background and why she chose to join the firm.

Gary: Welcome to the W2O and Twist Mktg teams, Mary. We’re thrilled to have you here. What attracted you to W2O?

Mary: I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. I like building things, and thrive in innovative, fast-moving environments. When I met Jim and the other leaders at W2O, I knew straightaway we were kindred spirits in this sense. In addition to the cultural fit, W2O has made some very smart bets in the marketplace to drive innovation and business results through communications and marketing programs, thinking ahead of the curve on analytics in particular. Our clients, more so than ever before, need partner agencies to maximize their investment to the measurable benefit of their businesses. W2O is in a position of strength to deliver on this critical client need.

Gary: From your perspective, what are the critical factors to building a successful agency today?  

Mary: Hmm, well we don’t want to give away all of the secrets – we have a business to build at Twist! Just kidding.. kind of.  In all seriousness, in building agency business, I focus on the following:

  • Start with the clients (always!) Listen carefully, and discover their unmet needs. This sets the roadmap for the capabilities and talent required to meet an evolving communications and marketing landscape
  • Retain and hire the VERY BEST people to create an optimal alchemy of creativity and intelligent delivery
  • Work your tail off
  • Have fun, lots of fun.

Gary: Mary, can you share your background in health and tech and how that is in sync with your role here?

Mary: Technology and health are the two sectors where I have spent the most time in my professional life. On the health side of things, I focused exclusively on digital health for the first part of my agency career, particularly in the public affairs and advocacy realm. In that context, I worked in a wide variety of sub-sectors, including various pharma trade associations and companies, health insurance, medical technology and bioscience. The work ranged from DTC and HCP marketing to public affairs advocacy to crises.  The next chapter of my career was almost exclusively tech focused, including consumer, B2B and corporate work across a wide swath of the Valley.

My depth of experience across health and tech are important for this role not only to support and expand the current health leaning client portfolio, but to support our aspiration to continue to scale our work in the technology sector.

Gary: The digital landscape is constantly changing. What do you think is most important for marketers/communicators to keep in mind to ensure success?

Mary: Regardless of medium, I would always counsel that the most important thing – has been and always will be – audience.  Where do they seek information and what sources do they trust (platforms, publications and people)? What about your message or product is relevant to them? What will move them to awareness or even better, action? Uncovering the powerful insight (s) that marry the authentic attributes of your product/campaign to the unmet needs of your target audience is rocket fuel for breakthrough creative. Channel planning and paid media informed by rigorous analytics and optimization ensures the message is delivered effectively.

Gary: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Mary: Work hard and be nice!

Gary:  When you look at building teams and integrating skills and services, what do you focus on most to be effective?

When it comes to building and integrating diverse teams to deliver killer communications and marketing programs, I think you need to keep it dead simple. This is what I focus on:

  • The client – First always. Identify the client’s problem or opportunity.Get crystal clear on this point. Codify with a brief and ensure consensus with your customer!
  • Determine the mix of talent and capabilities ideally suited to knock the project or campaign out of the park
  • Identify the people, assemble the team and assign a leader
  • Ensure clarity of roles, responsibilities, expectations and work rhythms, but not to the exclusion of agility.
  • Do the work!

Gary:  Can you share the one thing people would never believe about you?

Mary: I blew off business school for a boyfriend. Who has now been my husband for almost a decade and we have two beautiful children. I don’t regret my decision!

Gary: This was fun. Thank you, Mary! Looking forward to working alongside you and #MakingitHappen.

At W2O, we work across therapeutic areas to help our clients understand healthcare providers (HCPs) perspectives on key topics by analyzing their social media posts. That work has enabled us to form special relationships with a number of leading HCPs, including key oncology & hematology influencers. As a result of this work we were invited to contribute to a journal article introducing Hematologists & Oncologists to social media platforms.

On a daily basis, our job at MDigitalLife (a W2O company) is to measure the value emanating from the presence of expert HCP opinions within online social discourse, and it can be an incredible force. We see that HCPs are often guiding online conversations, and we’re encouraged when experts lead the way.

Many top online HCPs have told us their main impetus for establishing an online presence was to correct misinformation put out by the likes of Jenny McCarthy (Antivax sentiment) and more recently sites like – backed by celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow – which admonish patients to turn to unproven treatments and spurn sound medical advice from knowledgeable HCPs.

Clearly, HCPs can’t police the entire internet, but having trained medical professionals active online to hold the online health community accountable is truly invaluable. To that end, we continue to partner with leading HCPs to advocate for further adoption of social media platforms, and today we are pleased to share the recent publication of a collaborative article between the MDigitalLife team and key online HCPs.

Greg Matthews (head of healthcare analytics innovation at W2O and creator of MDigitalLife) and Yash Gad, PhD (head of healthcare analytics technology at W2O) collaborated with leading minds Michael A. Thompson, MD, PhD, Don S. Dizon, MD, Howard J. Luks, MD, and ePatient advocates Jenny Ahlstrom (CrowdCare Foundation) & Andrew Schorr (PatientPower) to publish “Twitter 101 & beyond: Introduction to social media platforms available to practicing hematologist/oncologists in the Seminars in Hematology journal.

What’s in the Article

The full article provides a practical introduction to social media outlets, hashtags, & social analytics, along with first-hand experiences of patients and HCPs with crowdfunding, advocacy forums & integration of social activity into HCP daily routines.

The W2O team utilized our extensive experience in social analytics to contribute a framework for measuring online healthcare conversations to the article. Rather than just looking at the number of posts or the theoretical “reach” of the authors of those posts (an aggregation of the number of followers each poster has – a misleading measurement), in this article we propose a novel set of metrics that will give researchers a way to quantitatively measure the truly important facets of a conversation. The metrics we propose include size of the conversation, author and content diversity, connectivity of the authors, equitability of the conversation, originality of the conversation, temporality (for event driven conversations), authors’ impact on the health ecosystem as a whole, and conversationality between authors. Collectively, these metrics provide the basis for a deeper understanding of online conversations and a way to objectively compare them. (for more info on these metrics, see our “Scoring Online Networks” blog)

The article abstract:

“Social media utilizes specific media platforms to allow increased interactivity between participants. These platforms serve diverse groups and purposes including participation from patients, family caregivers, research scientists, physicians, pharmaceutical companies. Utilization of these information outlets has increased with integration at conferences and between conferences with the use of hashtags and “chats”. In the realm of the “e-Patient” it is key to not underestimate your audience. Highly technical information is just as useful as a basic post. With growing use, social media analytics help track the volume and impact of content. Additionally, platforms are leveraging each other for uses including Twitter, blogs, web radio, and recorded video and images. We explore information on social media resources and applications from varying perspectives. While these platforms will evolve over time, or disappear with new platforms taking their place, it is apparent they are now a part of the everyday experience of oncology communication.”

We thank our co-authors for sharing their knowledge and experiences with social media platforms, and we hope this article will contribute to the growing library of resources for HCPs interested in engaging with social media.

For the full text, visit Seminars in Hematology. (account or purchase required)

About MDigitalLife

The MDigitalLife Online Health Ecosystem database powers the W2O Group’s healthcare analytics, a key driver for our integrated marketing and communications offerings. 70% of the world’s biggest pharma companies have benefitted from the power of MDigitalLife, along with hundreds of other healthcare organizations.

Follow MDigitalLife on twitter @MDigitalLife; Like MDigitalLife on Facebook.

To learn more about how the MDigitalLife Online Health Ecosystem database can reshape the way you interact with doctors, patients, the media & all the important stakeholders of your healthcare company, learn more about us here or reach out to Greg Matthews.