How to make Your Health blogs personal

It’s my last blog post of the year and so I wanted to share with you a topic that is meaningful to me and hopefully to you as well.

This time of year, the events that we share are very similar.  We celebrate Chanukah or Christmas or Kwansa.  We celebrate New Years eve and New Years Day.  But what distinguishes the same celebrations that we each do, despite the same lights or tree, and what distinguishes it for us, is the trove of personal stories.

The same holds true for blogs.  While information about health may be the same, it is our personal spin on it or our personal recommendations that make it different.  This process is content curation.

Content Curation

This is the process of sifting through the vast amount of health data in journals and online, further presenting it in an organized manner around a specific topic or theme.  A content curator picks the most relevant information and then shares it with his/her viewers.

Content curation is not amassing data and spewing it forth but rather presenting it in context with annotation, stories and quotes. A true content curator constantly seeks out and routinely shares the most relevant information on a specific topic.

Isn’t this what doctors or healthcare providers and health writers normally do?  Each day, we are exposed to new medical breakthroughs and health information.  Each day, we are exposed to patients and clients with their medical conditions, asking questions and seeking solutions to their problems.  And each day we sift through information that we have learned online, at conferences, at rounds and in medical journals to translate the data into pertinent content that the patient can understand as well as find relevant.

Now ask yourself, are you providing the same service on your health blogs?

The Value of Content Curation

As health professionals, we translate “medical-ese” to language that can be understood.  We make the content useful and relevant. Unfortunately, in our field, information can become redundant our out of date pretty quickly.  New theories, treatments, therapies evolve as more knowledge and technology advances.  Staying current and effective is crucial in our work.

Being relevant is only one part of curation. (and this is how we distinguish ourselves as in the holidays above)

The answer is Story telling.

Think about it for a moment.  When you learned a collection of facts, was it easy to recall?  How about when it was attached to a patient, an event or experience that you had?  Wasn’t recall natural to you after that?

This is how you personalize the blogs and the massive amounts of information that you accumulate before you share with others.  Add stories, share your experiences, add quotes.

Find yourself dry on the story front?  This is no longer a problem.  Enter a new tool to your armament- Storify by lifefyre.  Their premise of memes and simple social events is:

“the easiest way to find, collect and share what people are saying all over the web.  Join top companies, brands and agencies as well as millions of users on the best platform for leveraging social media”

Information from these sites helps you present stories in a manner that your viewers are accustomed to and interested in.  Seeing what is talked about in forums and social media sites is also invaluable as resources.

You transition from just being a boring health professional relaying information to an authority who presents solutions to problems in a relevant and entertaining way.  Both patients and prospective patients will stand up and take notice.

On this holiday, resolve to “make it personal”.  It will be greatly appreciated by your viewers.

Have a happy and healthy New Year.

Using social media to promote your medical practice or health business

Since the internet was first introduced, the world has become consumed with all of the digital and technological advances it has to offer. The most significant revolution in the internet phenomenon is Social Media.

Communication has been made easy, instant, and affordable through the use of many different social media networking websites. Social media marketing is an emerging trend that has proven to be effective and it is here to stay despite the fact that many people doubted its power just a few years ago.

Social media networks have become a necessity for most people today, so businesses have to adjust and start finding ways to market to this group of people. For instance, as a local health provider, many of your local consumers spend a great deal of time every day on social media sites. If your goal is to generate more clients and patients, then you should not ignore social media and what it can do for your business.

Consider which social media channels your target viewers spend time on and then build that site up.  Don’t forget that establishing your reputation and building the profile on the social media site is crucial.

Since you run a local medical business, your budget is probably tight these days and traditional advertising methods are not within your reach like they used to be. So why not consider the use of social media networks to reach your customers and attract new ones?

Some forms of technology are here to stay and the internet is one of them. Moreover, as long as the internet is alive and kicking, so is social media.

You may not care about social media on a personal level, but from a business perspective, it could be the one thing you need to boost your patient load and prospective patients, attracted to you and your services.

To find out exactly how social media marketing can work best for your business, contact me at  516-647-3002 or for a free consultation.


The best Christmas Gift

Wishing you all the best that life has to offer  in this Holiday Season and in the New Year to come.

Thank you for being my client, customer and friend.  I look forward to our continued relationship as we enter 2015.


A thoughtful gift for the holidays

The novelist Oren Arnold said it best:

“Christmas Gift Suggestions:

  • To your enemy, forgiveness
  • To an opponent, tolerance.
  • To a friend, your heart.
  • To a customer, service.
  • To all, charity.
  • To every child, a good example.
  • To yourself, respect.”

You provide health to your patients and improve the community.  Your message is invaluable and I am blessed to help promote you and help you spread your message.  May you and your family enjoy health and prosperity.

Barbara Hales, M.D.

Is Your Health Website Healthy?

Take a good look at your website through fresh eyes. Ask yourself whether you present solutions to specific problems. Your viewers are certainly going to your site for this reason- to find answers.

It’s Not About You!

 Once you have decided your branding and how you would like to present yourself, don’t keep it a secret! The real secret is telling your viewers, patients and prospective clients about you in a way that serves them…that solves their problems.

Tell your viewers solutions to their problems right away in the headline (packed with power to elicit emotions and responses). Then tell them again within the first paragraph. Engage your readers and draw them in fast or you’ve lost them.

People make decisions with their heart and justify them with their brain. You’ve heard this before and it’s true. Don’t pack your site with dry information and spew it forth. Instead, write to attract and court your reader. Your data can be on your “about” page.

Give them space

Sure, there is a lot of information that you would like to provide. But throwing it all out there may make it difficult to read. Have white space around each idea or thought- a place for your viewer’s eyes to rest. It will make reading your information much easier.

Can you be scanned?

Time is of the essence and most viewers will simply scan a page to determine if reading it is worth their while. Have subheads, bolded sentences and bullet points to allow scanning to take place and still convey your message or pique their interest.

Ask yourself these questions

Is your website:

  • Easy to navigate?
  • Easy to understand?
  • Easy to see what you stand for?
  • Easy to get answers to their problems?

Make sure to have your address (if you are a brick and mortar business) and telephone number prominently displayed.

Call to Action

Decide what you want your viewer to do and tell them.

Is it to

  • Call you?
  • Send for a free report or tip sheet?
  • Sign up for a newsletter?

Contact me for a free review of your website and some tips to tweak it at:




7 Tips to going Viral in Health care

Going viral in healthcare and your medical practice is actually a good thing!  It means that just like the viruses, your message spreads like wild fire.  Isn’t that what you want?

The thing is, most of us would like to know how to entice people to spread your message.

Tips on Going Viral

1) Post videos and pictures

If your images can evoke emotion, there is a good chance that it will be shared.  Think of “Bizarre ER” on television or the show “ER” which aired for many years.  People are entranced by medical cases, emergency situations, realistic “blood and guts” photos which to you are run-of-the-mill, everyday occurrences.   What may seem like just an ordinary pathology specimen may be something that people can’t divert their eyes from.  Throwing in a back story is a clincher.

2) Link your content to breaking news in health.  

If you can link it to a celebrity, it is a sure bet that it will get many views.  Consider ambulatory surgery.  The story might be dull.  Now throw in the same story and add Joan Rivers to the mix. Presto!  You’ve got something. there!  Everyone wanted to know how a surgical problem leading to death could happen to Joan Rivers….and if it could happen to her, it could happen to them!  It was shared thousands of times.

3) Write an inspiring quote of the day.  

When it comes to health, there is no shortage of quotes that famous people have said.

4) Share a humorous story.  

People love to laugh and share a joke or two with their friends.  When you get a good joke online, don’t you email it to everyone that you think might appreciate it?  There is humor in medicine.  There are even famous epitaphs on gravestones that are a riot!  A little googling goes a long way here.

5) Offer a solution to the problems that your patients face.

This can be in the form of the most frequently asked questions and answers (FAQ), E-book, patient guide, tip sheet. When someone expresses a desire to get your information, you’ve captured the name and email for your database, for future spread of your messages or to inform them of your services.

6) Run a contest

Consider giving something valuable to your viewer to encourage action (e.g. this may be in the form of likes to your Facebook page or how many friends they could get linking to you, how many YouTube views, Pinterest followers, etc.)

7) Incorporate your keywords

Your keywords should be highlighted and hold a prominent position in website content, blogs and articles.  This will allow search engines to know what you are about so that you stand out in the searches your target audience does online.

The more times your content is spread, the more times your name and services are spread.  This is a very effective way to advertise (without seeming like you are advertising) and a stellar opportunity to strengthen your brand.

Strategy Tip for Health Marketing your Practice- Podcast Creation

as written by Barbara Hales, M.D. for MedMonthly and published in an earlier issue

Have you Considered Podcast Creation?

MircophoneDocWEBPodcast publication takes medical marketing to the next level.

After mastering article and newsletter publication along with blogging and social media, the next step is podcasting.  This tool complements your other marketing strategies and reaches a vast new market that you may not have reached for new patients and clients.  What’s more, you don’t have to compete for attention as much as with other modalities yet.

According to Edison Research, almost 50% of Americans over the age of 12 (70 million) have listened to or watched a minimum of one podcast over the last year.

Benefits of Podcasts

There are several benefits that podcasts offer for healthcare providers, which include:

Strengthening Brand Recognition

The more places that people see your logo, message, voice, name or practice, the stronger your brand becomes.

Simply put, brand recognition is the level at which the public can identify a company by its features or intellectual property. When the general public can recall a brand simply by hearing or seeing associated characters like logos, taglines, slogans, colors, voices and programs, then the brand increases strength and revenue.

By having podcast programs on a regular basis, your message is spread and you stay in the minds of your current contacts while attracting a new audience and new prospective patients.

Increasing Online Traffic

Podcasts link to your website, increasing search engine ranking while simultaneously creating fresh material on your site. With discussed topics laden with your targeted keywords, you further improve the association of these keywords with you and enhance your search engine optimization (SEO).

Enabling a modality for instruction

Podcasts provide a way that you can explain techniques, preoperative and postoperative instruction or new medical breakthroughs.

How to Create a Podcast

Start by answering these questions:


What is the goal of your podcast?


What is the motif of your podcast?  Will it be education?  Does it reflect your practice?  Will you be able to recycle it to your website?


How frequent will the podcast be aired?  Make sure that you are consistent here.  If a fan wants to hear the program through a live streaming mode, don’t disappoint this fan and essentially turn away interested individuals, unlikely to return.


What format you might distribute your podcast in?  This just depends on which theme you select and the technology you use.


If you don’t already have the necessary gear to begin a podcast, you either need to invest in the basic gear – a computer with Internet access, a microphone, and headphones – or invest in a computer that already contains these items.  Keep in mind that these are the basic tools.  If you want to include video, you’ll need the proper equipment for that as well.

Structure of an Effective Podcast

Consider the “4 Ps”.

1) Plan

Planning out the podcast will help you focus on your goals, prevent babbling, and create a much better podcast that will attract more listeners.


  • Topic
  • Format of the podcast
  • Length of each episode
  • Frequency that new shows will be released

Select a topic that both reflect your medical practice and your passion. Write an outline that keeps you on track without losing focus during recording. The outline will also help listeners know what they expect to hear.

2) Production

Consider giving interviews.  This is a great way to demonstrate your authority while having someone else do the talking, helping to relieve the pressure of being the sole content creator.

Engage your listeners.  Have them call in and ask questions, which creates content, not only for the specific show, but also as a basis for a future show.  This also lures listeners into tuning into a new show to hear a continuation of a program that was of interest to them.

3) Podcast Publication

To publish your podcast to the Internet:

  • Register a Web Address (this is also called a domain name)
  • Find/Buy Web Hosting (this is to help store your blog and or site and your audio files onto the internet)
  • Start a Blog (this is your personal web site for posting your show notes, links, and anything else)
  • Create an RSS Feed (this is the feed that your listeners will subscribe to so they can automatically download new episodes of your podcast straight to there mp3’s)

If you can tie the podcast into your website, or linked to a tab on your website, it will promote additional traffic to you.

4) Podcast Promotion

The first step in promoting your podcast is the description itself.  It should be clear and give an accurate representation of the contents.

The next step is to get it out there; there are tons of sites that list podcasts. There are podcast directories, forums that discuss podcasts and then there are the search engines also.

The last step is growth management.  This is where you will have an ever- increasing number of listeners and may even attain cult status for your podcast.

If you need help with your podcast creation or would like to kick around a few ideas, contact me for a free consultation at

I would be happy to help you get started.


Is your health marketing Old School?

Clearly what had been working for you over the last few years, will not continue to work for you in the future.  Just as medical practices have had to change or die, so does marketing for medical practices and health facilities change over time.

As Darwin pointed out, the strongest do not survive.  It is the one who adapts that survives!

So, just what is trending in health marketing as we move toward the new year?

Let’s take a look at the information based on Marketing Profs and Content Marketing Institute’s  B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report.

The top take-away message of their meeting and report was “if you want to be more effective at content marketing, document your strategy”.

Only 35% say they have documented content strategy.  Those who have a documented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of content marketing effectiveness -60%       70% of content marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago

The top 5 social media platform usage (for B2B) which works well for referrals and conferring with colleagues:

  • LinkedIn-94%
  • Twitter-88%
  • Facebook-84%
  • Email-72%
  • Google+ 64%

The top 3 challenges of content marketing:

  • Creating engaging content
  • Producing content consistently
  • Measuring content effectiveness

The top 5 goals for content marketing:

  • Brand Awareness 84%
  • Lead Generation 83%
  • Engagement 81%
  • Sales 75%
  • Lead Nurturing 74%

Key differences between B2B (doctor to doctor or hospital interaction) vs. B2C  (doctor to patient interaction) 

B2B    vs.  B2C

  • Creating a better mobile strategy: 58%  vs. 74%
  • Better understanding content marketing technology:  70% vs. 77%
  • Leveraging user or fan generated content:48%  vs. 70%
  • Real-time content marketing:47% vs. 58%
  • Content personalization:44% vs. 70%
  • Developing a Channel plan for social media:47% vs. 75%

Content Marketing Tactics

The average number of tactics used in business is 13.  The top 10 are:

  1. Social media content (other than blogs)  92%
  2. eNewsletters  83%
  3. Articles on your website  81%
  4. Blogs  80%
  5. In-person events  77%
  6. Case studies  77%
  7. Videos  76%
  8. Illustrations/Photos  65%
  9. White Papers  68%
  10. Online presentations  65%

Which of these tactics are you using for your health marketing?

Certain techniques or tools lend themselves well for both B2B and B2C health marketing- drawing in both referral bases and attracting more patients by strengthening your brand.  Consider an eNewsletter.  There is no outside expense such as postage here and it provides an opportunity where you can highlight:

  • procedures that you are doing (that are unique to your practice) or that are new in your field
  • new staff members
  • new affiliations
  • new insurance participation
  • disease or technique of the week
  • process patients follow in case of emergencies or signs to look for necessitating a call to you
  • who covers the practice
  • new medical devices

The health content pertaining to you is endless.  Remember, it may be old hat information to you but not to your patients and prospective patients!  They will be educated and appreciate your time and interest in them.

How many of your referrals may say, “I didn’t know that this doctor provided that service”.  Wouldn’t you want them to know?

Sit down and figure what you can commit to and have fun with it!

If you would like to discuss your needs further, I would be happy to chat with you.  Contact me at

Is it a Phone or a Medical Device?

According to a survey by comScore, a digital research firm, there are 173 million Americans with smartphones representing 71% of the U.S. population over age 16.  It’s growth mirrors that of tele health which is growing exponentially. Phones hold thousands of health apps and help engagement between patients, hospitals and physicians.

While diabetics whole-heartedly embrace mobile health with digital glucometers and transmitting data to healthcare providers, people with other chronic ailments are eager to use mobile health to promote their health in a convenient manner.

Many physicians express gratitude for the mobile which helps them get messages from patients and receive feedback that enables caring for them virtually.  Dr. B. Christian Balidin, a surgeon in an orthopedic group in San Antonio states:

“having a mobile tool to communicate with a patient and get feedback is instrumental in providing good care for that patient.  I wish 100% of my patients would do stuff online.  I really do think it improves patient care.”

Chief medical officer at AMC Health, NY,Dr. Kevin Fickenscher states “We’re beyond the innovator stage.  A Tsunami is coming in how U.S. healthcare providers use tele health communications to improve outcomes”.

Interoperability Plan

The HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is in the process of creating a 10-year health IT interoperability plan starting next year.  Patients will be “accessing and contributing” to their electronic health-record information on a regular basis.

Quite possibly, the ONC will require EHR developers to interface their systems with application programing, enabling mobile apps to link with the EHR.   Almost weekly, new mobile patient engagement apps are appearing and new companies are being launched.

Obstacle to Implementation

Performance-based payment rather than fee-for-service reimbursement, is driving mobile tool implementation just as an absence of insurance payments for these services represents an obstacle.

Nathan Lacktman, a partner in the law firm Foley & Lardner which deals in tele health, points out that although private insurers are not as quick as public insurers to adopt reimbursement for tele health,

“I have some clients that are able to negotiate payment for tele health services from some payers.  But without states requiring payers to cover these services, you won’t see any meaningful tele health adoption”.

Currently there are still many healthcare providers and physicians not using mobile patient-engagement apps but they should start.  As these tools evolve and become more sophisticated, there is greater demand and if not available, they will be left in the dust while their patients run to the doctors that are more amenable to their wants and needs.

Have you started to enable your patients to engage with you by using health apps?   Share your experiences in the comment box below.

Why Do You Engage in Social Media as a Doctor? As a health marketer? As a health writer?

Before investing your spare time into social media engagement, sit down and ask yourself why.  What is your goal?   If your aim is to get as many likes or fans as possible to increase your search engine ranking, then you have a problem.

Matt Cutts,an engineer at Google who leads the web spam team and SEO issues, aids people in understanding how SEO works and what it does.

According to Matt, though it is natural to believe one would have a higher online ranking by getting tons of “likes” or fans, these figures are not part of search engine algorithms.  Cutts revealed:

“Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our index.   As far as doing special or specific work to sort of say you have this many followers on Twitter or this many likes on Facebook, to the best of my knowledge, we don’t currently have any signals like that in our web search ranking algorithm.”

The problem with ranking for social media involvement is that Google has not been allowed to “crawl” through the sites and if this does not happen, then it is not set up for ranking information on the  site either.  In addition, social entries can be incorrect or change as one’s mood does.

Cutts points out that it is easy to think that likes and links contribute to ranking since often high ranking sites have a great following.  However, the cause is because it is a site online that has high quality, educates and entertains.  This is what generates a large number of links, likes and retweets.

Benefit of Social Media 

While engagement and visibility on social media health sites may not contribute to higher search engine rankings, it does garner much more traffic to your health website which is ultimately what you are shooting for.  It also gives you much greater visibility and therefore gets your name out to your target market.

So, when you are interacting with others on various health sites online, you don’t have to worry about rankings as your benefit.  The ultimate benefit comes from people who have met you and want to know more about your services and want your advice and services.

Isn’t this what social media is all about?

No time to engage in social media?  No problem!  That is the role of the Social Media Manager!

Contact me at or 516-647-3002 if you would like to discuss this further.