Posts tagged ‘social media’

Avoiding Fraudulent Health Websites Through Reviews

Given the difficulty healthcare consumers have in locating useful and reliable health information, I took note of both because of their model of website reviews and because they are supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. I interviewed Jeremy Gin, their CEO and co-founder, who calls SiteJabber a consumer protection service that helps people avoid fraudulent websites, find good sites, and contribute reviews. The site has information on over 100,000 websites, including 6403 health sites, and is visited by over 400,000 consumers every month. They were named one of the top 100 websites of 2010 by PC Magazine.

Lisa: Health website quality is arguably more important than any other type of site. How does SiteJabber address quality issues?

Jeremy: We certainly share your concern about the quality of information available to consumers on the quality of healthcare sites. Our role is publishing community reviews on the quality of healthcare sites, and our own data gathering and surfacing of useful information that might not be easily available to consumers. In terms of the quality of information on SiteJabber, we go through great efforts to limit the impact of spam on our site through technology, administrative review curation, and community review curation. 

Lisa: Do you ever ask people to review sites or have people on staff doing reviews? Many health sites seemed to be reviewed by one person, Rod G.

Jeremy: Most of our reviews come from Online Consumer Advocates. These Advocates are typically possess a wide-range of expertise—think modern-day Renaissance men and women—and care deeply about helping other consumers and making the internet a better place for everyone. We are very thankful and lucky to have a number of these individuals who have dedicated a large amount of their time to supporting our cause. While we do not pay reviewers, Rod G. is one of our co-founders and an MD, so has written a number of reviews of health sites. In the coming months, we will be inviting more healthcare experts (MDs as well as others) to review sites. Right now we have a “reviewer level” system which lets readers know the relative trustworthiness of reviewers. We’re also about to introduce a more robust system which will incorporate authority specific to healthcare. 

Lisa: Why do you show the HONcode logo for some sites? I ask this because so many healthcare consumers don’t know what it is. Do you think it adds credibility?

Jeremy: In the health field, we believe HON Seals provide useful information. For those who haven’t heard of it, it is a non-profit based in Switzerland which vets healthcare sites for information quality, conflicts of interest, etc. However, I would point out that HON Seal information is offered only as a data point to consumers, not the ultimate judge of a website’s quality. For example, sites such as Psychcentral and Dailystrength are HON certified but our reviewers have brought up legitimate issues with these sites that we believe consumers should be aware of as well.

Lisa: Do you like controversy in reviews, such as those on Quackwatch, which is one of the few health sites I found with multiple reviews?

Jeremy: Controversy is not something we seek out—our chief concern is providing transparency and useful information for consumers—but sometimes controversy finds us, in which case we do our best to keep the discussions focused on giving people something useful to read.

Lisa: How does social media fit into your model? I see you use Twitter and Facebook, and have a blog as well.

Jeremy: Social media has been important to us in the past and will be increasingly important going forward. We use our blog to communicate broadly with our community and the general public; so if we notice an emerging scam we can let everyone know, or if we come up with some tips for consumers in a particular subject (like health), we can post those as well. We also publish illustrative graphics on topics we believe are important to consumers, such as the counterfeit pharmaceuticals trade. Blog posts are broadcast through our Facebook Fan Page and Twitter account and often syndicated by The Atlantic, Fast Company, and AOL’s Consumer Ally so they can reach more than our usual base of visitors. In addition, our reviewers can use their own Facebook and Twitter accounts to broadcast their own reviews. We’re presently working on a deeper integration of social media so our reviewers can make their SiteJabber experience an extension of their Facebook experience, if they so choose.

April 27, 2011 at 8:12 pm 2 comments

Social Media Metrics for Healthcare

Metrics show which approaches are successful and justify the expenditure. Social media metrics are tricky because obvious ones, such as numbers of fans and followers, may not be the measures indicating success at achieving goals.

Jennifer Schmidt, in Social Media and Health, did a class project on Social Media Metrics for Healthcare in which she identified the four most effective metrics to measure, brand mentions/sentiment; activity ratio; engagement duration; and loyalty. Learn what these are and how to measure them in her paper, Social Media Metrics for HealthCare and slides, which close with the apt and powerful message: 

Develop a message, create an audience, analyze, adjust, and engage.

March 20, 2011 at 6:46 am 3 comments

The Art of Running a Twitter Chat: Lessons from Dr. Richard Besser and ABC News

I learned that Dr. Besser runs a weekly Twitter chat on Twitter, of course: @drrichardbesser: Reminder: Twitter chat today #abcDrBchat 1PM ET Are you prepared for a disaster? Let’s talk about it. @ABC

For the uninitiated, this translates to: Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical editor of ABC News and former acting director of the CDC, is running a Twitter chat about disaster preparation.

I participated in the chat because disaster preparedness was on my mind after being interviewed earlier in the day about how social media is being used in Japan and because I follow Dr. Besser and wanted to see how he conducted his chat. I participate in the weekly #hcsm chat when I can and lurk in others, so it’s fascinating to compare moderation techniques. The chat, by the way, was lively, informative, and well-attended. My personal highlight was when Dr. Besser retweeted me and then @ABC retweeted him!

I was in my office at Tufts School of Medicine and the door was open, so colleagues came by and enjoyed looking over my shoulder (they fell in the uninitiated category and were uniformly impressed that Dr. Besser wasn’t). After the chat ended, I contacted Dan Childs, aka DanChildsABC, who heads the Health section of, to ask how Dr. Besser’s weekly chat started, how it is conducted, and what happens after the hour is over.

Lisa: Who had the idea to start the weekly chat with Dr. Besser? 
Dan: This was actually an idea that was hatched during a discussion between a few of us on the Health team and Niketa Patel, the Social Media Producer for We had wanted to do something special that would allow Dr. Besser to connect more directly to his audience through social media, and Niketa offered up this idea. This is the first such effort for a correspondent here at ABC News, so we’re the trailblazers in a way. Or the guinea pigs, depending on how you look at it. Trailblazing guinea pigs.
Lisa: Did he like the idea? 
Dan: Dr. Besser loved the idea. 
Lisa: This was my first chat with Dr. Besser but I see there is another next week. When did they start? 
Dan: Today was our fourth Twitter chat so far. We started about a month ago.
Lisa: How are topics selected?
Dan: Generally, the chat crew will share ideas either in a meeting or online. As with the chat today about disaster preparedness, we try to pick topics that are in the news and, therefore, within the public consciousness. Last week, Dr. Besser tweeted from Africa on issues of global health in the developing countries there. We try to pick something that is relevant, but also gives participants a feeling of going beyond the headlines to explore how these current issues are relevant to them.
Lisa: I was very impressed that Dr. Besser was supported by @LaraSalaABCNews, @BigCityRig, @CarrieHalperin, and @DanChildsABC. What actually happens during the chat?
Dan: Several members of the chat crew set up laptops in Dr. Besser’s office, while others of us participate from our offices and desks. Certain members of the chat crew will be responsible for certain aspects of the chat; one may be tasked with presenting questions during the chat, while another will be in charge of scouring for articles that are relevant to the discussion at hand and posting those links. It is also usually helpful to have one or two people navigating various external sources on the web to ensure that all tweets we put out are based on the most current and reliable information available.
Lisa: What happens after the chat to review how it went? Who is there and what is the discussion? Are there noticeable changes the following week?
Dan: This is generally a discussion that takes place in the course of our Health team morning meetings, and then more informally throughout the day as we think of the things we learned from the previous chat session. What is great about this whole process is that the product has evolved pretty much constantly since its inception – every time we do this, we do at least one or two things a little bit differently. Sometimes these adjustments are small ones, probably barely noticeable to our audiences. But then there are larger changes that really seem to have an impact. In our most recent session, for example, we were able to coordinate with to have the tweets appear in real-time in a text box on the Home Page and the Health page of the website. So when something like that happens, where the rest of the eyes in the network can see what you’re doing and how you’re interacting with the audience, that’s pretty exciting.

March 16, 2011 at 7:51 am 7 comments

Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM

Lisa GualtieriLisa Gualtieri is Assistant Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine. She is Director of the Certificate Program in Digital Health Communication. Lisa teaches Designing Health Campaigns using Social Media, Social Media and Health, Mobile Health Design, and Digital Strategies for Health Communication. Contact Lisa:


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