Healthcare social media analytics doesn’t need to be 10 years behind, like everything else in healthcare.” – @DanaMLewis #MedX

Today, I issued a challenge at Stanford’s Medicine X conference: we should demand better with social media analytics in healthcare.

For too long, the healthcare community has shared posts about impressions or number of followers or number of posts, and hasn’t looked further for real insight about what’s happening online – or why. But at MDigitalLife, we know it’s possible to look deeper, and we know influence is made up of so much more than one-dimensional metrics: it’s really a combination of reach, resonance, and relevance to a particular audience.

The problem with “impressions”:

It’s really *potential* impressions that’s being represented when you see mentions of impressions. This metric says that if everyone who follows the account that tweets something, was online and paying attention and saw the tweet, that those eyeballs matter. But the reality? Not everyone sees every tweet of every account they follow. So multi-million impression “counts” sound great, but they don’t really tell us anything about how relevant or influential a tweet, topic, or account is.

It’s very easy to settle for first-glance answers in analytics, especially when we’re thirsty for data and insight about what happens. But we need to be willing to push and look deeper for what’s actually happening. Take this example of looking for cost-related conversations in a discussion about IVF. It looks like barely a blip on the radar…

First look at IVF and cost data by MDigitalLIfe

…unless you look deeper and actually see that these costs are a growing topic of conversation and worth digging into more deeply.

Better contextualization of IVF and cost data

Look deeper to avoid those who are attempting to “game” influence:

This is important, too, for healthcare companies who are looking for influencers or partners to work with. Often, it’s easy to ‘game’ influence by posting high volume, spamming hashtags, asking people to follow them, etc. to look influential at a glance. But it’s very easy – if you’re willing to take the extra step – to analyze total compared to unique counts of just about everything, from posts to mentions to link shares and other elements we can measure.

Other things I shared at #MedX:

My presentation included a brief analysis I had done looking at different hashtag usage in the diabetes online community by different stakeholder groups. (I’ve previously blogged about it here, if you want to see a high level and more from my perspective on why analytics is so important to target the right healthcare audience.) But the online space moves fast, and I submitted the abstract to #MedX a long time ago, so I wanted to include a new look at some of the diabetes space for the #MedX audience. I chose to look at DSMA Live (a live event plus online chat of the weekly diabetes social media chat, DSMA) and the community’s conversational presence at the American Association of Diabetes Educator meeting (#AADE16).

Stay tuned for the full video of my presentation if you want to see more, but some people to highlight who stood out of these conversations:

  1. This is not a surprise because she is moderator of the chat, but you’ll see Cherise Shockley was a key player of both DSMA as well as #AADE16 and was highly connected to numerous stakeholders. Heather Gabel and Stephen S. were two other people with diabetes (PWD) highly engaged in conversations from #DSMA. The size of the dots represent their volume of tweets; you can see the many lines of conversation connecting them and other individuals and in many cases, pulling them into the conversation. If you’re looking for people to follow and learn how to engage in patient-led chats, these are good people to follow and learn from.
  2. Deb Greenwood (immediate Past President of AADE) and Hope Warshaw (President of AADE) also played a big role at #AADE16 online and noticeably connected with patients and other HCPs alike! It’s great to see leadership of advocacy organizations so connected across the stakeholder communities and creating a culture of inclusive conversation so all can learn at these types of meetings, whether they’re physically present or representing online.

Different stakeholder connections at DSMA Live and AADE16

Also, thanks to the help of Janelle Laqui (an analyst on the MDigitalLife team), we were able to do some interactive animations of what the conversation network looked like over time to get a better understanding of what happened, for those of us who weren’t able to participate live. This animation below focuses on August 10 and beyond (the DSMA live chat happened on August 11), and you’ll see a burst of conversation on August 11 for DSMA live; many new conversations happening among existing stakeholders on the Saturday of the conference on August 12; but August 13 noticeably has numerous new voices joining the conversation that weren’t present before.

Looking at data (like this) of conferences and live events gives us insights about the opportunities for any organization that is looking to engage at a conference in the future. We can study what worked, who engaged, who didn’t, and have data-driven strategies to be a strong and relevant part of the conversation. We can also easily find the right people for an organization to partner with who are influential to the right audience. And as Greg Matthews says (and he illustrated this well when looking at #HIT100 in 2016), if you find influential people, we can study what they do and say online because it’s instructive to us about the people, topics, and trends that are most important to understand for a particular audience.

With analytics comes this understanding – and with understanding we can take action and achieve success.