May 17, 2020

Google and Twitter partner: 5 ways physicians can benefit from social media

Social Media
Patient Care
3 min
Physicians can describe medical symptoms on Twitter and gain patient trust.
Physicians take note. Twitter has relented to a renewed partnership with Google that will allow Twitter activity to be indexed by Google's search en...

Physicians take note. Twitter has relented to a renewed partnership with Google that will allow Twitter activity to be indexed by Google's search engines.

In exchange for giving in to Google's request, Twitter likely hopes to gain more traffic for its users. It's also likely that one reason why Twitter has agreed to this partnership is because its own user base has plateaued.

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On some levels, Twitter users are asking themselves why they should share their social media with this waning platform. They need wonder no more. Physicians can benefit greatly from this new partnership. Twitter users can now reach a much wider audience with their tweets.

This gives physicians who are looking to boost their patient base an opportunity to target high-income patients, as well as targeted patients who suffer from conditions within the physician's niche.

Advertising on Twitter

The partnership between Google and Twitter also brings to light the next obvious step, which is to use Twitter as an advertising conduit. Paid tweets are surely soon to arrive, if they haven't already.

RELATED TOPIC: How to promote your hospital's brand message

Physicians who are seeking more exposure will be able to take advantage of the opportunities that this partnership reveals.

Serving the community

It isn't all as selfish as it sounds. There's good reason why physicians in certain regions would want to promote their services to the community. The Twitter and Google partnership makes it possible to do so using only a mobile device such as a cell phone or tablet.

As the article “What the Twitter-Google partnership means for physicians” looks at, there is the ability to advertise the services that can best benefit the most stricken members of the community.

Mini landing pages

Tweets can actually act as mini landing pages. When physicians tweet general info about their specialty, location and perhaps business hours, followers will be able to get just enough information to know if that physician might be able to help their situation.

RELATED TOPIC: 4 reasons why social media empowers your medical practice

When physicians link to their site within the tweet, the followers can click on landing pages right where they need to be to receive proper treatment. In addition, this linking can help the physician's site to gain more traffic that is relevant.

Making tweets relevant

The key to effective tweeting for physicians is to keep their fingers on the pulse of the news.

For example, when a celebrity dies of a certain condition, the searches for that condition jump dramatically across the Internet. Readers want to know what the symptoms are, how people get it and what the treatment is.

RELATED TOPIC: Which pharma companies are succeeding in the social media space?

If physicians can respond in real time to live news announcements that are related to health issues, their chances of gaining in credibility and authority are quite high.

Celebrity docs who tweet

Some well-known physicians who are already using Twitter include Dr. Oz, Deepak Chopra, Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Phil and Dr. Drew. If you are a physician wondering if you should start tweeting, know you'll be in good company.

About the author: Kate Supino writes about ways technology influences medical practice.

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Jun 13, 2021

How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats

Jonathan Miles
6 min
Jonathan Miles, Head of Strategic Intelligence and Security Research at Mimecast, tells us how the healthcare sector can protect itself from attacks

One of the most fundamental lessons from the COVID crisis is that health should always be a priority.  In a similar fashion to the human body that frequently fights off viruses and foreign invaders that intend to cause it harm, the sector itself is now a prime target for another type of external threat: cyberattacks.

The figures speak for themselves: between December and January this year, hospitals in the UK were at 89% capacity, with 7,000 fewer available beds than there usually are. As the pandemic increased pressure on hospitals, clinics, and research facilities to create a treatment for patients globally, it has left the sector exposed to hackers who, like a virus, have been targeting it relentlessly and evolving their tactics. 

From patient records being held ransom, to fake emails claiming to originate from the UN WHO, the NHS, or vaccine centres, through to attacks on the cold supply chain to find out the secret formula of the COVID vaccine, the healthcare industry is facing constant cyberattacks and struggling to cope. This threat is unlikely to go away anytime soon – and as such, the industry needs to take a proactive, preventative stance to stay safe in a dynamic digital world. 

Going digital 

The responsive nature of healthcare – particularly of hospitals – means that efficiency is crucial to the industry’s standard operations. To support this, the sector has been embracing technological advancements that can improve the quality of work, enabling staff to meet pressing deadlines, and enhancing patient care. For example, the industry has been digitising records and improving its ways of working through digital means over the past few years. 

This shift is critical to offer high quality patient care; yet, it also means the sector has become more dependent on IT, which can come with a risk if cybersecurity processes employed are deemed as inadequate. 

Without the correct security measures in place, the desired efficiency gains realised, can be easily lost in a heartbeat. Simply put, an elementary glitch in the system can have a tremendous ripple effect on many areas, from accessing patient records and conducting scans, to maintaining physical security and protecting the intellectual property of experimental treatment development.

To prevent this, healthcare organisations need to ensure they’re considering cybersecurity as part of their overall digital transformation strategy – and setting the right foundations to create a culture where safety goes hand in hand with patient care. 

Strengthening defences

Before implementing cybersecurity process, healthcare organisations need to assess the potential risks they face. Depending on how much confidential data the trust has, where it is stored, who has access to it and via which means, the cybersecurity strategy and associated solutions will change. 

It’s fair to say that a medical device start-up where all employees have a corporate-sanctioned laptop and access data via a VPN will have radically different needs to a large hospital with hundreds of frontline workers connecting to the hospital’s Wi-Fi using their personal device. 

These requirements will pale by comparison to a global pharmaceutical giant with offices in multiple locations, a large R&D department researching new treatments for complex diseases and a fully integrated supply chain. Considering the existing setup and what the organisations is looking to achieve with its digital transformation strategy will therefore have an immediate impact on the cybersecurity strategy.

Despite this, there are fundamentals that any organisation should implement: 
Review and test your back-up policy to ensure it is thorough and sufficient – By checking that the organisation’s back-up is running smoothly, IT teams can limit any risks of disruption in the midst of an incident and of losing data permanently.

In our recent State of Email Security report, we found that six out of ten organisations have been victims of ransomware in 2020. As a result, afflicted organisations have lost an average of six days to downtime. One third of organisations even admitted that they failed to get their data back, despite paying the ransom. In the healthcare industry, this could mean losing valuable patient records or data related to new treatments – two areas the sector cannot afford to be cavalier about.

Conduct due diligence across the organisation’s supply chain – Healthcare organisations should review their ways of working with partners, providers and regulatory institutions they work with in order to prevent any weak link in their cybersecurity chain. Without this due diligence, organisations leave themselves exposed to the risks of third party-led incidents. 

Roll out mandatory cybersecurity awareness training - Healthcare organisations shouldn’t neglect the training and awareness of their entire staff – including frontline workers who may not access the corporate network on a regular basis. According to our State of Email Security report, only one fifth of organisations carry out ongoing cyber awareness training.

This suggests it is not widely considered as a fundamental part of most organisations cyber-resilience strategy, despite the fact many employees rely on their organisation’s corporate network to work. By providing systematic training, healthcare organisations can help workers at all levels better understand the current cyberthreats they face, how they could impact their organisation, the role they play in defending the networks, and develop consistent, good cybersecurity hygiene habits to limit the risks of incidents. 
Consider a degree of separation – Information and Operational Technology (IT and OT) networks should be separated.

Although mutually supported and reliance on each other, employees shouldn’t be accessing one via the other. This should be complemented by a considered tried and tested contingency and resiliency plan that allows crucial services to function unabated should there be a compromise. Similarly, admin terminals should not have internet access to afford a degree of hardening and protection for these critical accounts.

As the sector becomes a common target for fraudulent and malicious activity, putting cybersecurity at the core of the organisation’s operations is critical. It will help limit the risks of disruption due to cyberattacks, reduce time spent by the cybersecurity team to resolve easily avoidable errors, and ensure that institutions can deliver patient care, safe in the knowledge that their networks are safe.  

Fighting future threats

With technology continuing to change the face of healthcare, the surface area and vectors available for attacks by malicious actors is constantly increasing. With the introduction of apps, networked monitoring devices, and a need for communication, the attack vector is ever expanding, a trend that needs to be monitored and secured against.

To prevent any damage to patients, staff, or the organisation they are responsible for, healthcare leaders must put security front and centre of their digital transformation strategy. Only then can the sector harness the full benefits of technology. Doing this should include implementing cybersecurity awareness training to challenge misconceptions around security, encourage conversation, and to ensure employee knowledge of the security basics and threats faced. 

This ultimately allows healthcare organisations to do what they do best: provide the highest standard of patient care, safe in the knowledge that their operations, patients, and data are safe.

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