Healthcare Market Watchers : Social Media ‘Not all Bad’

CommuniD, the medical device marketing company, today announced that social media is having an overwhelmingly positive effect on sufferers and patients in rehabilitation.

Despite numerous headlines about the destructive effect of social media, particularly on young people, there are many positive examples of the good it is doing for peer support between individuals and their families and friends facing similar pathologies or mental health problems.

CommuniD has been tracking several of these groups and has observed several common benefits:
• The ‘e-patients’ are highly knowledgeable with experience of conditions themselves
• The participants can help manage others’ expectations
• There are no borders such as location, and even language is assisted with in-built translation
• They can help healthcare professionals launch research initiatives and create care guidelines
• Although these groups are not moderated by healthcare specialists, each piece of content is reviewed by the rest of the users in the community. This is self-regulating while providing greater freedom of speech and transparency.

Commenting on the observations, Elvio Gramignano, MD of CommuniD said: “Many of these social media-based peer support groups have sprung up organically, previously they would have inhabited bulletin boards and forums, but now it’s social media, where so many people spend so much time.”

“From a wider perspective, social media is a powerful tool to improve health literacy and support patients in having a better understanding of health conditions. Furthermore, it provides an environment that is not constrained by the point of view of one healthcare company or an individual surgeon. The variety is huge, from the major conditions to extremely rare procedures and illnesses.”

Users can find groups to suit them, there are dozens of active Breast Cancer support groups with members ranging from tens of thousands to a few hundred. And it’s not just medical conditions that are supported, those experiencing a particular treatment or procedure are benefitting.

One such example is the Osseointegration Peer Support Group on Facebook currently supporting 3200 patients and their families following the procedure. Prof. Munjed Al Muderis, the leading osseointegration surgeon says: “Osseointegration is an extreme procedure that can have complications and requires patient´s motivation and continuous work to be successful. Having a place where patients and families in Australia can speak with patients and families in the US and Europe means they have access to the widest possible range of experiences and advice in this particular area.”

From Acne to Zika Virus in Australia to Zambia, support is at hand on social media, and that’s not at all bad.

7 Useful Tips For Your Video Making Strategy


Today we want to talk about the video effect on LinkedIn posts. As we said in a previous article (, on average large medical device companies are using videos in 31% of their posts.  We are now going to dive deeper into this subject and examine what effect including a video has.  We will investigate which companies are using videos the most to see what the effect is, and we will also try to see if we can spot any magic bullets that have been used in making the videos.

It is important to note that we are not analysing impressions or views, we are simply analysing likes.  In essence we are trying to deduce the usefulness of a video from the engagement. Whilst this is clearly a very subjective method as there is not a straightforward relation, we could equally say that social media is affected by so many parameters that it can never be an exact science.

No alt text provided for this image

What is the table is telling us?   

The first thing we can see very clearly is that there is a wide difference in the use of videos amongst the companies surveyed. We can see that 8% of the companies are using videos very frequently, in more than 75% of their posts. 4% of the companies are using videos frequently, which means in roughly 50% of their posts. 36%, are using videos often, which means in more than 33% of their posts.  44% use videos rarely, in less than 33% of their posts.  8% of the companies are not using videos at all, although this needs clarifying as of the two companies not using video at all, one is Abbott Diagnostics whose parent company (Abbott) uses videos relatively frequently. The holding company seems to post mostly in the relationship area, using videos, whilst the diagnostic arm tends to focus more on the promotion of products and seminars and doesn’t use videos at all.  Overall, Abbott seems to be the company that is using videos in the most effective way – the videos that they are posting show a significant improvement in appreciation with regard to engagements. 

The table also tells us that 16% of the companies seem to achieve a positive effect in terms of engagement through the use of videos, while 56% do not seem to receive any positive effect. By positive effect, we mean that the average engagement of posts with a video are significantly higher than the average engagement of a stand-alone post.  There is a large group of ‘not applicable’ and this has 2 meanings: 

  • They use videos so frequently that it is very difficult to differentiate between posts with videos and posts without videos,
  • The difference between posts with and without videos is not at all significant.

I wanted to take a deeper look at the companies that are showing a positive effect from their videos to see if there is something that we can learn from them.  Going into the Company section of LinkedIn and clicking on Videos, we get a very nice overview of all the videos that have been released over the last month, with views and engagement. This gives our analysis some additional elements to work with.

What can we learn from the Companies using videos effectively?   


Medtronic videos have been well-planned and produced.  Money has been spent on a professional production, and the results show it.  Their videos are usually a bit longer than most of the other companies, and on average they tell a story and need to be watched with active engagement and participation: viewers need to listen to the story, focus, and concentrate.  This work pays off as they have an average appreciation higher than the posts without videos, although views do not seem to be incredibly high in relation to their number of followers – a month after posting most videos are still under 10,000 views.

What can we learn from Medtronic?  

  • Their videos are clearly internally focussed, targeting the satisfaction, recognition, and pride of their employees, rather than showing Medtronic solutions which we have learned is done by their business-specific company pages. They are celebrating diversity and inclusion, and engineers.  In fact, the video with the largest number of views and engagement features a collage of Medtronic people. Another popular video in their list is the story of one of their engineers with a disability who is working on products for people with disabilities.  This is an incredibly touching video, very interesting, and very well-built. But again, I would say mostly internally focused.
  • Their videos range between 10 seconds and 2 minutes long, with those of around 1 minute in length the most frequently posted.  


Abbot has a very different fingerprint from Medtronic: the videos are a mix of internally and externally focused content – I would say roughly 50:50. Generally their videos feature a few key points highlighted over a musical soundtrack and are mainly emotional.  Abbott posts featuring videos are generally highly appreciated and Abbott video views are the highest in the industry.

What can we learn from Abbott?  

  • All their videos are within the one-minute mark – none of their videos exceed this, with the vast majority being around 30 seconds long. Only exception a series of videos called “UNLOCKING THE POSSIBILITIES OF YOU”
  • Their videos generally do not require a high attention span, a high level of concentration. They are relatively simple, short, with an intense soundtrack and no spoken words.
  • The production of this type of video is relatively achievable for most companies and does not require big-budget production. Their preferred video with more than 40,000 views was a very short, 22 second, video about babies born with a hole in their hearts.  The video did not contain technical information and was mainly emotional.  
  • Frequent use of 3D animation


Fresenius’s strategy is again slightly different. We see fewer emotional videos, and more videos related to product and technologies in their posts. This tends to make their videos more detailed and slightly longer. Compared to Abbott and Medtronic it seems that Fresenius’s videos are targeted externally, towards clients.

What can we learn from Fresenius?

  • Their videos range from 10 seconds to 3 minutes in length, with an average that is a little over a minute.   
  • Fresenius’s videos are a blend of emotional videos with no spoken words through to relatively long interviews.
  • Large use of “interview-like videos” to convey technical messages.


The strategy of B Braun again seems very different from all the others, probably because it is a company with a different size, sales coverage, and with followers significantly lower than the companies we have mentioned before. Abbot and Medtronic have millions of followers, B Braun has approximately 300,000. Their videos often feature products, explaining characteristics and benefits in detail. Overall, the number of views is low, rarely reaching 10,000, with most of them achieving around 1,000 views, some even less.

What can we learn from B Braun?

  • The length of their videos is mainly less than 1 minute, and the great majority of their videos are product related, externally targeting the customer.   
  • Very limited use of interviews.

To complete the analysis, we also looked at the video strategy of the two companies that are using videos the most: Siemens, and Smith & Nephew Medical Education.   Siemens’ strategy is clearly externally focussed, concentrating on the promotion of corporate image and identity through the use of excellent quality videos. Videos are well designed and constructed, talking about products, talking about patients, all deploying emotions but also technical elements. Among the ”superpowers” Siemens seems to be the only one that targets clients and patients in their communication.

As we can see, 85% of Smith & Nephew Educational posts contain a video – a high percentage.  However, many are PowerPoint presentations that have been transformed into videos. Their videos are often used as invitations to their seminars and activities, but there are also some very nice, well-designed videos for more important and relevant activities.  The overall strategy of this company page is to invite external people and customers to seminars, and as such is fully externally focused. 

Take Home messages.

The use of video may depend significantly on your LinkedIn strategy: if you are using LinkedIn more as an HR arm and your objective is to keep your team together, raising awareness and increasing company pride, then videos can be extremely useful as Medtronic and Abbot are showing. In this case emotional stories about employees, real life situations, examples of employees sharing the same complications as the patients, seem to be popular and gain the best traction. 

If instead you are more externally focussed and you want to extend the knowledge of your solutions to the external market, then content seems to be more important than the media.  And whilst videos are as useful as all the LinkedIn experts say they are, in the medical device industry you can manage pretty well without using videos so long as you deliver interesting content.

If you want to use videos (and sometimes it is a plus) you need to be aware that complicated stories do not breakthrough on LinkedIn (although they might do on other media such as YouTube), the most successful videos rarely surpass a minute, they do not display complicated stories and often have no spoken words. The soundtrack is incredibly important in these type of video as we may imagine.

If you want to deliver deeper content, interviews seem to be very popular because they convey a message in a very direct way that is perceived as less “corporate”. There is an element of human touch that is always useful.

The quality of the video, the storytelling, the preparation, pays off on LinkedIn:  you can use animated slideshows, but you need to understand that you’re not gaining the same value as you would with a video.

3D animations seem to be incredibly useful because they add high clarification in an appealing way. They are nice to view, easy on the eye, and can also provide a lot of insight – meeting all the goals.

Last but not least: all the videos are fully embedded on LinkedIn platform. This is a LinkedIn suggestion and LinkedIn gives priority to embedded videos and most of the companies are now choosing this solution.

Five pitfalls to avoid in your Digital Marketing Strategy

It is clear, then, that digital marketing can help MedTech companies address the recent shifts in HCP engagement, whether as part of a focused marketing campaign or as an ongoing “always on” means of communication. However, we have seen a number of pitfalls that companies should take care to avoid if their efforts are to be successful in digital marketing:

Implementing digital marketing in isolation. The move to an omnichannel approach requires companies to link digital marketing to other channels, including inside sales and face-to-face sales reps. Proper change management should be implemented to ensure the onboarding of sales teams, customer service, and other commercial functions on digital-marketing tactics and agile ways of working. Effective communication with HCPs depends on a clear understanding of the purpose, timing, and method of engagement for each interaction.

Failing to define clear ownership. To present a globally unified message, digital-marketing content needs its own “home” in the organization, as well as its own budget. Best-practice companies set up a centre of excellence (CoE) or other central unit charged with driving the overall strategic vision and creating content tailored to the digital-marketing strategy and stored in a centrally available library.

Neglecting digital capabilities and tools. Building a digital-marketing channel requires the right talent. A CoE typically consists of a digital-marketing lead, product owners, user experience and user interface designers, campaign and channel experts, and data analysts. The regional teams responsible for implementation usually include campaign managers and content managers who tailor the strategies and content developed by global teams to fit local needs. 

Overlooking performance metrics. Without rigorous monitoring, a company won’t be able to assess the impact of digital marketing at the regional level or manage incentives and resource allocation effectively. Having a central team define and track key performance indicators (KPIs) helps to ensure that efforts achieve their intended goals and have a positive return on investment. 

Underestimating the power of digital engagement. Today’s HCPs are heavily invested in digital in general, and in particular, social-media business and networking platforms, physician-to-physician online communities, and search engines. The CoE or centralized unit overseeing digital strategy can ensure their company is benefiting from the power of digital engagement, identifying trends across channels, and designing a strategy for HCP prioritization with a message that addresses their unmet needs at the right moment via the right channel.

Developing a strong digital-marketing function takes time and effort and requires visible support from senior leaders. How effective it will be as a driver of HCP engagement depends on how well—and how quickly—MedTech companies can embed it in omnichannel customer journeys, build internal capabilities, and use data and analytics to personalize communications to meet individual healthcare professionals’ needs.

This is particularly true in the Medical Device industry where, compared to Pharma, the delay in the development and deployment of Digital Marketing campaigns is significant. In this industry, the biggest challenge is still to identify within the Marketing teams, professionals with the appropriate competencies that can be fully dedicated to the development of Digital Marketing activities. As the trend evolves and the digital marketing strategies are proving their efficacy, we expect the senior leader to focus more resources both on people and tools to deploy effective Digital Marketing Campaigns.  

The Growing Role of Digital Marketing in Healthcare Business

Healthcare professionals (HCPs), like many others, have been profoundly affected by the shift to remote work triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. As they have become more comfortable with remote work and digital communications, MedTech companies have realized the importance of adapting to digital to better engage with HCPs, including digital marketing, e-commerce, and virtual sales channels. In this article, we explore how leading MedTech companies are using digital marketing and analytics tools to tailor the content, timing, and format of their interactions with HCPs to improve the quality of engagement and the returns on their marketing investments.

To understand how digital marketing is evolving in Medtech, McKinsey conducted a survey of 100 companies (44 in the United States and 56 from the EU5) in early 2021. As recently as five years ago, the majority of MedTech companies (65 percent of the survey sample) spent no more than 20 percent of their marketing budget on digital marketing. However, by 2020, most of the companies surveyed (84 percent of those based in the United States and 74 percent in the EU5) had shifted more of their budget to digital marketing. What’s more, about one in five of this group had redirected at least 50 percent of their marketing budget to digital marketing. So, how are Medtech marketing teams using these increased budgets?

Product launches. With most trade shows and conferences cancelled because of the pandemic, Medtech product launches have largely shifted to digital channels. Among the companies in our survey, 80 percent reported having used email and social media campaigns to launch a new product in 2020, while 65 percent had launched products at online conferences. US and EU5 companies used much of the same digital platforms to launch their products, except that US companies were more likely to use online conferences than their peers in the EU5.

Lead generation. As HCPs embraced remote interactions, MedTech companies intensified to use digital marketing for lead generation. Among the companies in our survey, 45 percent believed that email campaigns were the most effective digital channel for generating new opportunities during launch, while another 40 percent favoured social-media campaigns.

‘Next-best-action’ analytics. In recent years, it has become important to convey a value proposition that goes beyond a single product to a broader portfolio of solutions. “Next-best-action” analytics can help enhance digital-marketing campaigns to work closer together with other marketing and sales channels. There is a strong need for that, highlighted by 74 percent of respondents.

Omnichannel campaigns. By using a coordinated, multichannel approach to marketing campaigns, MedTech companies are able to engage with HCPs at the right time with the right message in the right format. Successful companies are including digital campaigns along with more traditional channels, such as inside sales and face-to-face rep visits, as an important component of their omnichannel strategy to reach HCPs.

The Medical Device industry is only just taking the first steps in the development of a proper Digital Marketing strategy and our approach is far less sophisticated. In addition, the budget invested is, in most cases, far from the percentages seen in the Pharma business. A true Omnichannel approach is far from being a reality in 99% of the medical device industries. Most of them are just exploring the opportunities offered by LinkedIn, often not at full speed. As the trend evolves and digital marketing strategies prove their efficacy we expect growing resources and focus even from the Medical Device Industry.

The Power of Social Media Automation

If you are scaling up your social media activity, sooner or later you will realise that it is almost impossible to keep up with all the aspects of social media management; posting, managing contacts, interactions, engagements, and KPIs.

Not forgetting that Consistency is a must and this means that somehow you need to post with a defined frequency.

What if you had the opportunity to handle all these tasks automatically? Social Media Automation implies using different applications to automate the exercises on social media platforms.

This is Easier said than done!

When it comes to LinkedIn, we can automate or schedule the posting, but we cannot fully automate contacts and messaging interactions.

There are lots of players that can help you to automate posting each one with pros and cons. We have tested many of them and here are the basics:

  • They all work on a subscription
  • Hootsuite is the most famous and definitely complete but has recently raised the price significantly
  • The charge may vary from nothing to more than $100 per month depending on the tool. If your workload is low, you can still find valuable tools FOC or below $30 per month – search on Google for your choice, but we have chosen Plannable (
  • Contacts and messaging can instead be made more efficient through Sales Navigator.

Sales Navigator

Sales navigator cannot be called an automation tool, but more a sort of CRM (customer relationship manager). It is a sales insights tool that allows you to find the right people and companies in your target market. Using the LinkedIn network, businesses can source recommended prospects and uncover real-time sales updates on all accounts and leads.

Ultimately what Sales Navigator does is:

  • Helps you to find target companies (by geography, type of business, number of employees) and give you a well-designed org chart – identifying the right people you should get in contact with
  • Creates lead lists (exactly like a CRM) – this can simplify sending messages or requesting for a contact
  • Allows you to monitor conversations, posts, activities of the targeted leads to evaluate their interests and needs and be more effective in your communication

While this does a lot of good, the CRM doesn’t come cheap.

You can find LinkedIn Sales Navigator at 3 levels:

  • The first level for $ 64.99 per month ($780 per year)
  • The second level for 103.00 per month ($1,250 per year)
  • The third one is a customisable project whose price is agreed upon with the LinkedIn sales force.

The difference between the level depends on the number of interactions you need or want to create and the integration with a customisable CRM.

Based on my experience the 2nd and third levels are designed for large corporations. If you are a mid-size medical device company – the first level is more than enough.

It is interesting to note that there are companies that have created what looks like copies of Sales Navigator. One called Lusha seems to have the same functionality as the Linkedin navigator but costs significantly less.

Would you like to Automate Messaging? Here are some Tips!

Have you ever tried to automate LinkedIn messaging? It is far more likely that you have received automated messages! This is possible on LinkedIn and there are multiple online services that can help you with this task. 

However, if you want to use this option, be careful to choose the right one because LinkedIn frowns upon automation and if you do it wrong, you can be thrown in LinkedIn jail (your account being restricted).

These tools generally play on 3 steps:


The tool sends personalized invites to your 2nd and 3rd degree connection or the first message to your 1st degree connections.


The tool detects any new connections and checks if they’ve replied. If there are any replies, the tool will stop messaging them. So, if you want to stop someone that is annoying you with multiple automated messaging, reply NO


This is where the tool will send follow up messages to those who haven’t replied. The personalized follow ups will be sent based on the schedule you set up under the “Messages” tab of your campaign.

You can choose between; 


To use this type, you need to open LinkedIn from your favourite browser and fire up the tool in the form of an extension. The implications are:

  • You can’t run the tool 24/7.
  • They rely on browser caching, which makes them easier to detect.
  • The use of different IP addresses every time you log in. This raises red flags.

Besides the safety implications mentioned above, browser-based LinkedIn automation tools are lacking when it comes to advanced features.


Cloud-based LinkedIn automation tools are safer to use as they integrate with your LinkedIn account. You can log into your LinkedIn account from your automation tool and set filters and parameters for the activities you want to automate.

Some of the most significant advantages of using a cloud-based LinkedIn automation tool include:

  • Having a Dedicated IP address.
  • Harder to detect since it does not work on the front end like browser-based tools.
  • Access to advanced features (like personalization) that boost your conversion rates.

With the advantages of convenience and enhanced safety, cloud-based LinkedIn automation tools have the upper hand over their browser-based counterparts. The caveat, however, is they tend to be more expensive than browser-based tools.

So, if you have a large number of messages to send out and are shopping around for a tool to help you automate your LinkedIn activities, consider these factors.

The Price of Automation

What is the price of these automation tools?  Subscriptions vary a lot but you should consider paying a minimum of $50 per month. 

Is it useful to get automated tools? 

It would be useful for people with thousands of contacts and messages to send, but this is unlikely in the medical device industry. Ultimately, I cannot demonise automation tools since they are part of the game, but I think it lacks the human touch that makes the messaging strategy extremely powerful on LinkedIn.

In fact, whenever I sense that I have received an automated message, I immediately stop the conversation.

However, automated LinkedIn messaging could be useful only in very specific cases and only for first contact. For instance, in one campaign, we noticed that the physicians we targeted were responding only if contacted between 6 and 7am and that was forcing us to wake up extremely early. In this case, we thought it was useful to automate only the first message even though we knew we could be less effective because of the automation of the messages.

What LinkedIn Strategy Lessons Can We Learn From Leading Medical Device Companies?

We all know there are lessons we can learn from our industry leaders – the best, well-resourced, experienced, big-budget companies – that have a wealth of experience and talent to support their marketing strategies.  We particularly wanted to look at their LinkedIn strategies and analyse how they are communicating to see what strategy lessons we can adopt to improve our own LinkedIn pages.

To do this, we decided to look at the top 15 medical device companies by revenue.  As you may know, large corporations may use multiple LinkedIn pages – one for the holding company and others for specific business divisions or areas. We wanted to analyse this and therefore we expanded our investigation to incorporate 25 LinkedIn Company pages:

  1. Siemens Healthineers
  2. Smith & Nephew
  3. Smith & Nephew Medical Education
  4. Terumo Medical Corporation
  5. Olympus Corporation of the Americas
  6. Olympus Life Science
  7. Alcon
  8. Phillips
  9. Zimmer Biomet 
  10. B Braun Group
  11. Boston Scientific
  12. Boston Scientific Deep Brain Stimulation
  13. Abbott  
  14. Abbott Diagnostics
  15. BD
  16. Stryker
  17. Stryker Trauma
  18. Cardinal Health
  19. Fresenius Kabi
  20. Fresenius Medical Care
  21. Johnson & Johnson
  22. DePuys
  23. Medtronic
  24. Medtronic Brain and Spine Therapies
  25. Medtronic Cardiac and Vascular

We were curious to see what these industry leaders are doing with their LinkedIn pages.  How are they using it?  What are their goals?  Would they be using it to reach the 7.2 million healthcare professionals that are on LinkedIn, or as an HR tool to encourage and engage employees?  Or a mix of the two?  We wanted to understand the frequency of the posting activity, but also the content strategy.  To do this we tracked all of the selected 25 companies’ LinkedIn posts made over the last month. 

LinkedIn commodity market experts claim that to be successful with social media marketing, your business has to strike the correct balance between the amount of self-promotion it does and the amount of engagement and conversation that it participates in. Of course, you want to use your social media accounts to promote your own business, but if that is all you do, you won’t gain many followers and you won’t be very successful.   They devised a rule called 4-1-1 that suggests that you should post four pieces of new content, one re-post, and one self-serving post.  It is said that if you follow this pattern, you will achieve the ideal ratio of original posts, engagement, and self-serving posts. Is this rule valid for the Medical Device Industry?  To substantiate this, we categorised the tracked posts into 4 classes.  

PROMOTIONAL posts generally generate low engagement but are relevant to the company.  They include topics like new product launches and features, products and services, videos, participation in shows and congresses, corporate webinars, executives, meetings etc.

RELATIONSHIP posts favour high engagement and are easy for everyone to like – posts about charity and meetings, local and international donations, commemorative days like ‘Women’s Day’ or ‘Heart Month’, hiring posts, employee stories and participation in surgery.

INDUSTRY posts often result in high engagement, but sometimes not on the right target.  Things like updates on regulatory situations, market trends with comments, user preference, end customers’ appreciation, patient surveys, and patients’ stories (if not too promotional).

CLINICAL or EDUCATIONAL posts attract high engagement but are more difficult to generate.  Topics such as a summary of new and interesting studies, testimonials of surgical approaches (if not too promotional), white papers, case studies, etc.

What did we track?

  • Frequency of posting – how many posts over a one-month period?
  • How content type frequency was divided between Promotional, Relationship, Industry, and Clinical & Educational categories.
  • What types of posts are the most appreciated?
  • How common, and how successful, is the use of in-post videos?

How did we do this?

  • Compiled a list of 25 large, medium, and small companies in the medical devices industry
  • Went into LinkedIn, searched company name, clicked companies tag to bring up company options, then selected the relevant company from the list 
  • Once we had our target company’s page, we recorded the number of followers each company has
  • We clicked on Posts
  • Once the posts had loaded, we scrolled through each post time-stamped up to 3 weeks old (ie the last month of posting)
  • We categorised every post as either Promotional, Industry, Relationship or Clinical, and added a brief description to each.  
  • We recorded the number of Likes for each post
  • We noted every post that had a video included
  • Once we had compiled our data, we tallied the totals and transferred relevant data to a spread sheet to analyse any apparent trends.

What caveats are there?

  • We were looking for trends that could better our understanding and that we could share with you.  Our study is not an exact science, but we were as thorough and as comprehensive as we could be.  There will always be subjective decisions:  one person’s Clinical is another person’s Promotional.  
  • ‘Likes’ are continually changing, especially for the most recent posts.
  • Followers also fluctuate daily, usually upwards; J&J followers went up by 1,318 overnight.  
  • Posts appear to be ‘shuffled’ on LinkedIn pages (especially if you click on an in-post link); it seems that not all current posts are visible all the time.
  • Number of Likes is obviously proportionate to the number of followers.
  • Posting about emotional current events can (understandably) result in an unusually large spike in the number of Likes.  In our study posts showing solidarity with, and support for, Ukraine, attracted a huge number of Likes – sometimes 3 or 4 times higher than average.

What did we find?

As we quantified, this is not an exact science, but we did find interesting trends that can help us learn from the best.  

  • We found that holding company page tend to focus (often almost exclusively) on Relationship postswhilst their regional branches or specialist product branches posted more Promotional and Clinical / Educational posts. 
  • The average number of posts per month was 13 – almost 3 every week.  Does your posting performance mirror this, or do you need to increase the frequency of your posting?
  • About 31% of the total number of posts included videos.  We often see articles advising us that including a video in our posts will vastly increase engagement.  We were particularly interested to see if this applied to the companies in our study.  13 out of the 25 companies were impossible to evaluate, 9 of the 25 companies did not reflect any discernible impact from including videos, and in only 3 of the 25 companies did we did see a positive impact.    
  • Relationship posts had the most traction.  Overall, 52% of our industry leaders’ posts were Relationship posts. Relationship posts were also the most liked, attracting 60% of the total Likes scored.  As a general observation, diversity, inclusion, and equality posts feature predominantly in Relationship posts, and themes that are current, like Solidarity with Ukraine, Women’s Day, Black History Month etc, are well received.  Corporate news like winning an award, mergers, or publishing positive financial results also score well.     Are you posting Relationship posts frequently enough?
  • LinkedIn polls seemed to be well received and Votes are positively disproportionate to Likes.  Perhaps we see it as ‘just a bit of fun’, and of course it is easy, and impersonal (although not necessarily anonymous) to click on your preferred option.  Two pertinent examples are:
    • Phillips poll on sustainability garnered 215 likes, but 4,572 votes
    • Who founded Alcon?  226 likes and 3,076 votes

Build a Killer LinkedIn Company Page by Developing Your Visibility Strategy

Once you have finalised your marketing strategy (see the previous article) and have all your communication elements lined up and ready to go, the next step is to draft your LinkedIn company page.

I love the company page of LinkedIn because it is such a great equaliser – it’s a totally level playing field – an arena that is common to all companies whether they be start-ups, mid-sized, or multibillion multinationals. Everyone has the same space, the same tools, the same blank canvas upon which to present themselves. How we portray ourselves is 100% up to us, and in this article, I’ll share with you some of the tips and techniques I have learnt and found useful over the years.

The LinkedIn corporate page is a significant marketing tool. With more than 70 million active users monthly, LinkedIn is probably the largest media where you can showcase your company. As we all know, LinkedIn has a very high SEO ranking so there is a good chance that anyone Googling you or your company will see LinkedIn at the top of the search results and click straight through to your page – so first impressions really do count.

We’re not going to look at the technical elements of how to execute the tasks – there are 100s of easily accessible YouTube videos and online courses for this – but will concentrate on the marketing element of this important step, with our usual focus on the Medical Device business. In this environment we want to make sure that you are building a company page that stands out, generates a high volume of views, interest, and (as we all would like) sales leads.

When constructing your company page there are three things it’s critical to get correct right from the start: choose appropriate images, provide as much corporate information as you can, and be succinct in your corporate overview.

#1 Choose Great Images

Present Yourself in The Best Possible Light – Figuratively and Literally.
Images are just as important on LinkedIn as they are on other social media, so we need to take care in choosing them appropriately. LinkedIn courses suggest using images that fully reflect your company, which provide a clear message, and that is consistent with the profile you are presenting on your company page.

I understand that if you have a start-up company or a small company, this might not be very easy to achieve. My suggestion here is to hire a photographer, shoot a decent number of pictures that can be used for the corporate page, but following that will be useful stock images for you to use in future posts. You will need to spend a little money, but it will be money well spent.

Sometimes the positioning of these images will not be straightforward. LinkedIn’s corporate page uses a banner-size format which offers a bit more room for creativity, but standard images may not fit perfectly. Again, spend a little money. Go to a graphic designer. Use this banner to combine a couple of pictures, add a message, but create something that has a visual impact – this is the first image that everyone will see when they’re looking for you.

#2 Leverage Your Corporate Information

Let People Get to Know You.
The second big step when building a corporate page is to enter your corporate information. LinkedIn allows you to enter a huge array of information and it makes sense to fully leverage this opportunity to provide your reader with comprehensive information about yourself and your company. Look beyond just the basic information you have to provide as there is so much more you can offer. Make sure your contact information is correct with a strong call to action wherever possible. Spend a little bit of time on it – it won’t be wasted. In the medical device industry, I often see that companies leave this information unfilled, and I really believe it’s a wasted opportunity.

#3 Write your Corporate Overview with care

Understand the social media environment and needs, and adapt to them.
When compiling a corporate overview, we need to consider that the social media environment has its own character, quirks, and criteria. We need to understand this environment so that we can adapt our styles and habits to meet these parameters, especially if we are talking to a very busy “target reader” like physicians.

To start off with, we need to develop a style of writing that is suitable for social media. Many of us are well-schooled in traditional methods of writing, methods that are fine for situations where our reader is engaged and is concentrating fully on our work – articles, books, letters, and e-mails, for example. Doctors reading in social media are in a different space, and they have different appetites. They are there because they want to be. They want to choose what they read, they don’t want to be told, and they want to make up their own minds about things. If you manage to capture their attention, they’ll be prepared to give you about 5 minutes of their time, so you’d better make those 5 minutes count. We need to recognise this and adapt our style of presentation to get the most productive results.

Capture your Doctor’s attention.
This may seem obvious: a “Duh!” moment. But social media is the territory of the browser, the scanner, the speed reader, the scroller – physicians who might look at social media during a break, or during breakfast, or while travelling – skimming, scanning, and with an eye already moving on towards the next post. At this stage, they are not fully engaged, and their attention is fleeting.

Once they see your page there are three possible reactions: if the content catches their attention then and there, they will continue reading – which of course is exactly what we want; if they find the content interesting or relevant but it’s not an opportune moment to read it then they will probably save it to read at a more convenient time; then, the third scenario – the one we want to avoid – is that they will scroll on, abandon us, and keep looking for something more engaging.

Keep your overview fresh and current and avoid outdated corporate patterns.
When we are building a corporate overview, we often have a pre-set image in our mind – a picture of how it ‘should’ be – a sort of template that often derives from the corporate brochures that were popular in the 90s – and we try to conform to it. In some cases, we are compelled by upper management to follow this pattern. But these old-fashioned protocols are definitely out of touch with the modern-day scenario. They are often littered with redundant and hyperbolic statements such as “leader in innovation”, “pioneer”, “best-in-class”, “state-of-the-art”, “world leader” – phrases that generally means a lot to the writer and very little to the reader. Readers want to read, be informed, and then make up their own mind. Tell them simply and concisely what you can do for them.

Doctor looking at LinkedIn on smartphone
Capture your Doctor’s attention and keep it fresh

Less can be more – Don’t feed the reader more than they can chew.
We may be excited about every minute, intricate detail of our products or company, but readers often (usually!) aren’t. Include what is relevant to the reader; make sure to convey the key points, content that really matters to them, to keep their attention. Keep your ego in check – sometimes less really is more.

Write appropriately for the type of physician you are talking to.
Before writing this article, I reviewed almost forty corporate profiles of start-ups, mid-sized, and small, medical device companies. And according to communication parameters, only three or four were appropriately written. Only three or four out of thirty or forty, so a very, very low percentage.

So, what does “appropriately” mean in this context? In short, the message is clear; the reader clearly understands what the company does, what it sells, to whom, and the Unique Selling Proposition. Here are a couple of pointers to bear in mind: make sure the overview is not so long that readers get bored but is long enough to articulate your message and fuel SEO, it must be easy to read on a smartphone, and it should use bullet points.

Think about your language.
Be clear, be concise. Avoid corporate jargon. Speak as one human being to another. Avoid hyperbole and hackneyed phrases – stale, boring, and an instant turn-off.

Clarify your objective – Immediately.
Succinctly explain to the reader why it’s worth spending 5 minutes of their time to read your story. Often, we avoid doing this as we’re afraid that by immediately setting the target we’ll “put people off”’ and they’ll move on. But remember that your objective is not simply to gather readers, what we actually want is to generate sales leads. Sure, we want to attract readers, but we want to be read by relevant people, not by everyone. To coin a cliché, quality trumps quantity!

Explain what it is that you’re doing.
This is incredibly important and very often overlooked. Explain it clearly and explain why, above all others, someone should choose you. Explain your USP, why they should buy from you rather than from someone else. To help make your case, and for ease of reading, use bullet points. Bullet points are very, very useful to enable casual reading of a topic. Be aware that LinkedIn, in this field, will not allow you to use different colours or special fonts (bold, italic, underwritten) so you, therefore, have limited weapons to keep the focus of the reader.

Once you’ve got this far, maybe have a break, do something else, have a sip of coffee…. And then continue with the next point.

Take a break from LinkedIn

Don’t recycle other corporate content for your LinkedIn corporate overview.
For the reasons we have explained previously, it is vital that you build the LinkedIn Corporate overview (and your personal profile – see the following section) specifically for LinkedIn. Do not reuse what you have already written and used elsewhere – whether in articles, websites or other media.

Support your company LinkedIn page with strong personal profiles.
There are several companies in which the top executives either don’t have a personal profile, don’t have a well-designed personal profile, or don’t link their personal profile to the company profile.

There has been a lot of debate about this issue: should a company be able to insist that their top-level employees and executives develop a personal profile that supports the company personal profile, and require that the person posts frequently? I personally believe that in this new century, in this digital age: Yes. When you receive a salary, commission, or retainer, when you are part of an organisation, it is also part of your job to support your company through your digital tweets and your digital profile, and what better conduit for doing this than your LinkedIn personal profile? There is a mutual benefit to this. The corporate will have increased visibility, but so too will the individual – having a good, active, and well-designed personal profile increases the professional value level of the individual, making them more attractive in the job market. The rules for creating a powerful personal profile are exactly the same as the ones listed for the corporate overview. You need to be clear, concise, and straight to the point. Use bullets. And explain very specifically why you’re good at the things you say you are.

In personal profiles, the issue of images is as big, if not bigger, than in a corporate profile. Lately, the general standard of images used for personal profiles has improved, but there are still a lot of professionals, top-level executives, and people with high levels of responsibility, who continue to use low-level images to showcase themselves on their LinkedIn profile. Here I would say exactly the same thing again: hire a good photographer. It’s worth it. Get a few good pictures and use them on your LinkedIn profile.

Overall, it is crucial to present both company pages and personal profiles in the most powerful way that we can. We need to use all the tools that LinkedIn makes available to us to showcase what we’re doing so that we can gain as much attention as possible.

#4 Use LinkedIn’s “Invite” Function

LinkedIn loves that we use the platform to interact and create conversations ….. because we remain on the platform, and that is their goal. Recently they have re-introduced the ”Invite” function that allows us to invite connections from our personal contacts to follow our page.

This is great because, in our industry, healthcare professionals are often reluctant to independently follow a company as they feel it might imply personal endorsement of that company or its products. We have found that there is generally a good uptake on invitations that are received as a private request coming directly from a company and that HCPs tend to accept to follow companies that could potentially provide them with useful information. Personally, I’ve found this function an incredibly useful tool.

Here’s a brief outline of how it works. As a LinkedIn Page super admin, you can grow your follower base by inviting your 1st-degree connections to follow your Page. Every Page is granted monthly invitation credits which are shared across all super admins of the Page.

Here’s how invitation credits are used and earned:

  • Sending an invitation requires one credit.
  • When an invitation is accepted, the credit is earned back and is applied back to the Page’s balance.
  • When an invitation is rejected or withdrawn, the credit isn’t earned back. The credit is removed from Page’s balance.

Here’s how the monthly invitation credit limit works:

  • The Page invitation credit limit renews on the first day of every month.
  • The Page invitation credit limit is shared by all super admins of the Page.

My experience is I have never used up all my credits, and the free credits have always been enough to invite as many customers as I wanted considering the “earn back” mechanism and the fact that LinkedIn has always added new invites when I was depleting them.

#5 Continue to Evolve Your Page

It’s really important to keep your content fresh by regularly updating both images and messages. The beauty of social media is that you can apply lessons you’ve learnt along the way. Nothing is static, nothing needs to stay the same – gather data, test your ideas, learn what works, and iterate it. Push the boundaries of conventional communication rules so that you stand out. And if something doesn’t work as well as you’d hoped, change it!


Using the company page and the personal page effectively is the first step to building a successful LinkedIn strategy. Understand that this is a work in progress, you will not see immediate results. Keep at it – we need patience, curiosity, flexibility, and perseverance to obtain the results we would like.

5 Digital Healthcare Trends for 2022

During the dark and difficult times of 2021 – a year dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, as we all know only too well – healthcare providers and patients faced novel challenges that somehow facilitated the deployment of new solutions.  In many instances, these solutions were already technologically ready to be deployed, but the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic provided the catalyst to their rollout, ushering in an environment that smoothed the path to new ways of doing things, widespread acceptance of change, and the adoption of new technologies.

As we move from 2021 to 2022 – and to hopefully happier times – rapid innovation continues apace.   Given that huge advances and transformations are already occurring in the area of digitalisation, what can we expect in this new year, and what issues will be trending?

In this article, we will evaluate five digital healthcare trends for 2022 as predicted by the medicalfuturist and we will add what we believe could also become a trend in the digitalisation of healthcare.


Identifying conditions from a voice sample: “Do I sound sick to you?”

Vocal biomarker technology is pushing the boundaries of smart healthcare. Voice tech start-ups are booming, leveraging machine learning-based voice recognition technology, such as that developed for Amazon’s Alexa, to potentially revolutionise the diagnosis of health issues by offering fast, accurate and cost-effective check-ups, remotely. As research money starts to pour into the field, an accurate, non-invasive, diagnosis for some conditions could soon be as easy as the patient speaking into a smartphone.    

How do vocal biomarkers work? With artificial intelligence (AI) based techniques, symptom checker software can detect so-called “vocal biomarkers”.  Vocal patterns such as pitch, tone, rhythm, and rate as well as breathing and coughing can be processed to develop vocal biomarkers of disease. AI-powered vocal biomarkers are being developed to diagnose a multitude of disorders including Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and Covid.

Vocal Biomarkers - Healthcare Trends

An interesting and relevant example highlighting the potential to use vocal biomarkers to identify a condition comes from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who used artificial intelligence to detect asymptomatic Covid-19 infections through cell phone-recorded coughs. They found that people who are asymptomatic for Covid-19 may differ from healthy individuals in the way that they cough. These differences are not decipherable to the human ear. But it turns out that they can be picked up by artificial intelligence.

The team is working on incorporating the model into a user-friendly app, which if approved by international regulatory bodies and adopted on a large scale, could potentially be a free, convenient, non-invasive pre-screening tool to identify people who are likely to be asymptomatic for Covid-19. A user could log in daily, cough into their phone, and instantly get information on whether they might be infected and therefore should confirm with a formal test.

Whilst there is still some way to go until we can fully realise the potential for vocal biomarkers in the early detection of disease, it is a healthcare topic we are sure to be talking about in 2022. Stay tuned for more information about this.


The physician’s assistant

Correctly diagnosing diseases takes years of medical training. Even then, diagnostics is often an arduous, time-consuming process. In many fields, the demand for experts far exceeds the available supply – the shortage of laboratory staff and technicians being just one such example.  A KPMG study, ‘Who cares, Wins’ predicted that by 2030 the world would be short 80 million physicians and nurses which means that healthcare systems must innovate to ensure that they can work effectively.   

AI is the integration of deep learning, data insights, and algorithms, and it has the capacity to deal with large data and imaging.  It has enormous potential to help address these shortages as well as to relieve some of the growing concerns about work pressure on the medical staff.  It can also support clinical decisions in time-critical situations, or when there is a lack of expert knowledge available such as in remote or poorly funded medical facilities.

Medical imaging is one of the most promising areas for the application and innovative use of AI.  Machine learning – particularly deep learning algorithms – have recently made huge advances in automatically diagnosing diseases, making diagnostics cheaper and more accessible. Machine learning is particularly helpful in areas where the diagnostic information a doctor examines is already digitised, such as detecting lung cancer or strokes based on CT scans, assessing the risk of sudden cardiac death or other heart diseases based on electrocardiograms and cardiac MRI images, classifying skin lesions in skin images, or finding indicators of diabetic retinopathy in eye images.

However, whilst the application of AI in diagnostics has already demonstrated a great deal of potential and opportunity, humans are still needed to manage the process.  There are real concerns related to risks of bias and lack of clarity for some AI algorithms, and it is possible for mistakes to be made. There is also the risk that the use of AI can introduce new potential errors. AI systems are not as equipped as humans to recognise when there is a relevant change in context or data that can impact the validity of learned predictive assumptions. In addition, ethical concerns directly related to patient safety also need to be addressed as the use of AI becomes more pervasive and plays a greater role in patient diagnosis.

Balanced against the risks, the use of AI in diagnostics will lessen the burden on healthcare systems and professionals both physically and economically. AI will complement rather than replace traditional approaches used by radiologists; it is a tool to help doctors, it won’t replace doctors. AI systems will be used to highlight, say, potentially malignant lesions or dangerous cardiac patterns – allowing the doctor to focus on the interpretation of those signals. This innovation is providing such a great deal of efficiency to systems that it is likely to be well-received by all stakeholders involved in the process and therefore we should expect to see it in use relatively soon.


Lab tests in the privacy and comfort of your own home

One of the most readily available and accessible healthcare developments is at-home testing – the global home diagnostics market size is predicted to surpass USD 8.15 billion by 2030.   With a personal testing kit, you can measure a range of health parameters that used to be only available in laboratories. You can monitor your blood pressure, test for HIV, colon cancer, hepatitis C, deteriorating vision, urinary tract infections, track ovulation and check your blood sugar too – all in the privacy of your own home.

At home testing kit - Healthcare Trend

Having relatively easy access to currently available at-home tests (like lateral flow tests, for example) we can forget how revolutionary at-home testing was when it was first introduced.  When home testing pregnancy tests became available in the 1970s it was truly ground-breaking, whilst the possibility to monitor blood sugar levels using finger-prick tests transformed life for diabetics.

The progression of this revolutionary trend continues with exciting developments in at-home testing.  We now have access to previously unimaginable areas like whole genome sequencing and microbiome analyses – tests that can help us take better control of our health and healthcare management plans – as well as innovations like new intelligent toothbrushes that will monitor our glucose levels, COVID detection or progression of Parkinson’s disease without interfering with our daily standard morning routine. Empowering patients is key for the future of healthcare and testing kits can be great tools to help people take control of their own health data and to shift the paradigm from reactive to proactive care.  In addition, at-home testing can remove a time consuming and costly burden from the shoulders of medical professionals.


A growing trend in Europe

Access to effective and affordable healthcare is already one of society’s great dilemmas. The issues and challenges are well-established and increasingly urgent; especially the aspect of ever-escalating costs.

Issues surrounding healthcare insurance may seem irrelevant to European patients as the vast majority of European citizens are fully covered by their national healthcare system, even in cases of extreme poverty or unemployment.   However, against a backdrop of declining services and increasing waiting lists, a clear trend is evident:  year-on-year an increasing number of European patients take out medical insurance to cover shortfalls and limitations within their national ‘free at the point of use’ service.  With Covid accelerating these complexities, European patients should carefully monitor these healthcare trends.

The inexorable digitisation of healthcare, in all its forms, generates a plethora of data. For better or worse, health insurance companies are now able to gather vast amounts of information about us, their customers, and, with increasing access to personal health metrics (often garnered through the use of wearables and healthcare apps) it’s not a question of if or when health insurers will use this data, but how. Digital tools can create a detailed picture of each user’s overall health, leading to the possibility of insurers using a data-driven approach to personalise premiums through a “pay-as-you-live” system.  This is not necessarily bad news.  Insurers will be able to partner with their customers to help them manage their health and make better lifestyle choices.  We already have examples of this: US health insurance firm Oscar Health incentivised a healthy lifestyle by rewarding its customers with Amazon gift cards for achieving their daily goals as measured by Fitbit wearables, for instance.

The flip side

Whilst it’s true that the more health data insurers hold on you the more effectively they can tailor your plan (like if someone’s genome test indicated a high risk for breast cancer they could build in a subsidy for more regular mammograms), the flip side of the equation is that in a dystopian scenario, companies could mandate that patients provide access to all of their health data, including those from their personal devices.  This could lead to patients’ premiums being based upon “private” lifestyle choices, or even in extreme circumstances (such as a patient assessed to be potentially too costly and therefore unprofitable) being denied access to healthcare cover at all.

So, above all, the principle of universal coverage, of ‘best care’, must be maintained, and quality, compassionate care must be guaranteed to be available to everyone, regardless of circumstance.  Patients with life-threatening conditions should not have their treatment stopped through lack of insurance coverage, even in systems (like the model that is becoming predominant in Europe) where health insurance is an add-on to the national system. Effective regulation is a crucial safeguard, enabling the positive effect of innovation whilst managing the cons. Regulators and institutions need to play their part in ensuring that no one gets left behind; they have the responsibility of setting appropriate regulations and standards to ensure an acceptable balance between enabling patients access to quality, personalised care whilst still maintaining a level of privacy.


Keep an ear to the stethoscope on this one!

We believe that one area that will see significantly increased usage in 2022 is in the medical device field of Electroceuticals. 

First of all, what are electroceuticals?  Deriving from the word combination of ELECTROnic and pharmaCEUTICAL, electroceuticals are bioelectronic devices – some smaller than a grain of rice – that alter electrical impulses along nerves, in order to treat medical conditions.   Electroceuticals have, in fact, a long history in medicine:  think pacemakers for the heart, cochlear implants for the ears and deep-brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease.

Electroceutical devices can be invasive and minimally invasive depending on the complexity of the surgery to implant and the patient perception after implantation. Pacemakers are an example of the first category. The invasive category has been around for several decades and continues to grow at a steady pace. The minimally invasive device segment has been growing at a higher rate and is expected to explode with the improvement in electronics, data analytics and artificial intelligence.  The degree of invasion can have differing impacts on patients’ lives; some patients may experience a profound level of discomfort or restriction whilst others will be able to forget they even have an implant.  The one thing they will have in common is a significant improvement in their medical conditions.

The hope with electroceuticals is that by miniaturising electrode devices and attaching them to strategic nerves, the body can be fed alternate messaging in order to heal itself or to inhibit a vast range of complicated chronic diseases and afflictions and degenerative disorders.

Electroceuticals - Healthcare Trend

Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, electroceuticals have the potential to provide targeted, personalised, medicine.  Traditional drugs can take a scattergun approach to care. They suffuse the body, often in places they aren’t wanted, solving one issue but potentially creating more in the form of difficult to predict and potentially fatal side effects.  Electroceuticals, on the other hand, provide clinical benefits with marginal to no side effects.  The ability to ‘set and forget as the technology becomes smarter and more robust has obvious advantages over an inconvenient daily regimen of drugs that can be forgotten, dangerous in the wrong combination, or misprescribed. This ability to target only the problem being treated offers a personalised health solution to a patient – one that could be further customised to meet a particular person’s needs, responsiveness, and anatomy – a solution that is undeniably attractive.

New Devices, New Applications

There are so many developments in the world of electroceuticals – from ‘bionic eye implants’ to directional Deep Brain Stimulation –  that we can barely scratch the surface of the subject in this piece, but we will be publishing more in-depth articles in the future.   It is no exaggeration nor hyperbole to state that advances in electroceuticals are ushering in truly remarkable and absolutely life-changing technologies.

Take spinal and nervous system damage, for example.  Traumatic injuries, especially those involving the brain and spinal cord, can be particularly difficult to treat.  Electrical stimulation therapies have been proposed for promoting neural repair and regeneration after injury and for modulating neural plasticity mechanisms that may assist to recover lost functions. 

In cases in which disease or injury has led to complete paralysis, such as in spinal cord injury (SCI), stroke, and motor neuron disease, brain-computer interface (BCI) technology has been of particular interest. BCI technology allows signals in the brain to be recorded and decoded to determine the user’s thoughts, which can allow a paralysed or locked-in patient to communicate, control devices, and, when combined with neuromuscular stimulation technology, regain volitional movement.  Recently Elon Musk’s brain chip firm, Neuralink, announced that they were lining up clinical trials in humans for his technology with the hope it would “… restore full-body functionality to someone who has a spinal cord injury”.

Where are we now, and where do we go?

As our knowledge in the field of bioelectronic medicine increases, we can expect devices to become more readily available, easier to apply, and smaller. The combination of molecular biology, neuroscience, and engineering – as a core foundation of bioelectronic medicine – will continue to pave the way to a new future, allowing doctors to target a long list of diseases and conditions that currently have no cures.

Of course, there are still many questions to answer and technical challenges to be addressed along the way, and both industry and university research teams are actively working in several of these areas with studies that should increase usage and indications of Electroceutical solutions. The health opportunity is immense and we believe it is wise to keep an ear to the stethoscope in this area.


What is the overall prognosis, Doctor?

COVID has taught us many things but probably the most important is that we (patients, healthcare structures, politicians, healthcare stakeholders) can innovate. For instance, no one could have predicted the sheer volume and usage of new apps that the pandemic would give rise to; apps like track and trace, e-consults and the covid pass, being used by millions of people every single day.  It made the unpredictable happen. 

Continuing in the same vein, some of the trends we have written about may gain traction, some may not – certainly not all of them will be ready to roll out in 2022.  In our article, we are talking about trends, predictions, potential – the digital zeitgeist of 2022 – ideas and innovations that will fire imaginations, drive creativity, and ultimately result in new treatments and processes that will benefit us all – whoever we are, and wherever we may be.

Digitisation of Healthcare – Risks and Reassurance

In a previous article, we discussed the benefits of digitalisation in healthcare. In this article, we explore some of the digitisation of healthcare risks and concerns – both for healthcare professionals and for the patients themselves.

As in all revolutions, there is much positive potential, but there are also considerable risks. Knowledge is a powerful tool – the starting point to leverage the pros whilst minimising the cons. There are three major Digitisation of Healthcare risks:

  • Cybersecurity (hacking)
  • Electromagnetic interference
  • Issues concerning data protection and security.

Let us first consider hacking. The depiction of the potential consequences of hacking a medical device, in this case, a pacemaker, came to many via the television series ‘Homeland’. In the award-winning series, an assassin hacked into the fictional US Vice President’s pacemaker to kill him. The subsequent revelation from the (actual) former US vice-president Dick Cheney, that when he had a device implanted to regulate his heartbeat in 2007, he had his doctors disable its wireless capabilities to prevent a possible assassination attempt, made headline news. I was aware of the danger, if you will, that existed, he said in a report on ABC News. “I found [the depiction] credible because I knew from the experience that we had assessing the need for my own device that it was an accurate portrayal of what was possible.”

The potential for medical device hacking isn’t just a hypothetical scare story. With the progressive movement to digital health, medical devices are increasingly interconnected with hospital systems, hospital networks, the internet, smartphones…… so, the cyber security risk is a real one. Security researchers from all over the world have illustrated the relative ease with which devices can be hacked by someone with the know-how – from MRIs to anaesthesia machines, nuclear medical devices, pacemakers, and insulin pumps – all have vulnerabilities to attack. In short, anything that connects wirelessly to other equipment can be compromised, anything connected to the Internet is hackable.

Digitisation of Healthcare Risks - Hacking
The potential for medical device hacking isn’t just a hypothetical scare story.

According to Alpine Security, there are now 10 to 15 devices per hospital bed in the United States, many of which are vulnerable to attack. Whilst the connectivity of medical devices certainly increases the amount of data available to physicians and can lead to better outcomes for patients, unless stringent security measures are taken, hackers can compromise anything that connects wirelessly.

The main driving force behind cybercriminal activity is the theft of medical or personal data for financial or political gain. The cybercrime economy is one of theft, with cybercriminals acting as the internet’s burglars. This remains true in a medical context. Private medical data is among the most sensitive and valuable data that can be made public, and its use by cybercriminals for extortion purposes could be immense.

The biggest threat to medical security involves the shutting down of entire hospital networks. Instead of focusing on individual patients and their embedded devices or personalised healthcare apps, ransomware hackers are more likely to attack entire hospital systems. Any organization that is subjected to a ransomware attack will be subjected to similar outcomes: widespread panic, confusion, and significant impairment of operational capacity, not to mention the potential for loss of life. One such high-profile incident was the WannaCry ransomware attack on the UK’s National Health Service. This cyber-attack cost the NHS £92m after 19,000 appointments were cancelled.


Most manufacturers and healthcare providers are acutely aware of the risks posed by hackers and take rigorous steps to proactively identify, mitigate, and address security-related issues. Patient safety, the integrity of patient data and the secure functionality of medical devices are paramount considerations.

Digitisation of Healthcare Risks - Protection
Patient safety, the integrity of patient data and the secure functionality of medical devices are paramount considerations.

Cyber protection is big business too. Ethical hackers, also known as ‘white hat hackers’, are cybersecurity specialists who test systems’ security to expose vulnerabilities and find flaws so that the system’s owner can repair them. Hacker, programmer and computer security expert, the late Barnaby Jack, first demonstrated the wireless hacking of insulin pumps at the McAfee FOCUS 11 conference in October 2011 in Las Vegas. He was also instrumental in demonstrating the risk hacking posed to pacemakers and heart implants. In 2012 Jack’s testimony led the FDA to change regulations regarding wireless medical devices.


Knowledge is the starting point for people being able to make considered, informed choices about their healthcare. Patients certainly need to be aware of potential risks. At the same time, they need to be reassured that healthcare professionals, worldwide, take these issues extremely seriously and are constantly working towards patient safety. The risk to individual patients certainly does not outweigh the benefit of treatment.

Patients should be encouraged to speak to their physicians, to ask questions like, ‘Is the software to my pacemaker up to date?’. Or ‘What measures have been taken to protect my insulin pump?’. Asking their doctors appropriate questions can help them cope and manage risks in advance.

There are other resources open to patients too such as patient advocacy forums, Medwatch (the FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Programme) and the FDA Maude (Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience) system.

Yes, there may be a risk from any cyber security perspective, and there is a possibility that an attacker could compromise a device, but the probability is relatively low and what needs to be considered is that the risk of not having a device far outweighs the risk of a potential cyber security attack.


Electromagnetic interference – or disturbance from radio frequency transmitters like RFID (radio-frequency identification) – is a relatively new area. EMI can affect several types of medical devices that have electrical or electronic systems such as pacemakers or defibrillators – implanted or external, implanted neurostimulators, programmable hydrocephalus shunts, cochlear implants, ECG monitors and infusion pumps.

There are many sources of EMI in hospitals and healthcare environments but the ones most likely to cause problems with certain medical devices include emergency vehicle/services radios, diathermy (electro-surgery), mobile phones, radiofrequency identification (RFID) devices and electromagnets.

EMI can also be caused by everyday objects like cell phones, Wi-Fi devices, microwaves, telecom networks, power grids, defence installations, even lightning strikes, solar flares, and magnetic storms. So, if, for example, a patient with an implanted device goes to their clinician to report things aren’t working out quite as expected, the clinician will need to work with the patient to narrow down where they have been, what environment they were in, and then try to work out if the device was affected by some sort of EMI.

Manufacturers of medical devices are required to minimise the risk that their device can cause, or be affected by, EMI. Where the risk is not eliminated, the manufacturer must include information about the residual risk in the instructions for use.


Whilst the general population may not be aware of many of the practical challenges in managing the risks of digital healthcare, one area they are almost certainly aware of is data collection and storage. Trust and transparency are essential in creating a positive relationship between the ‘big three’ stakeholders in healthcare: patients, institutions, and manufacturers. Patients need to be able to ask questions and to believe that things are being done in an ethical, state-of-the-art manner.

Effective regulation plays a big part in maintaining public trust. So, in turn, institutions have the responsibility of setting regulations and standards to ensure that medical devices are safe and fit for purpose. We need clear rules and standards. However, whilst testing requirements must rightly be rigorous, they should also be proportionate and based upon scientific evidence. With the pace of new discoveries being made, and with so much innovation in digital medicine, it is not always an easy task keeping up with the rapid rate of progress. To be truly effective the regulators need to hire experts – data engineers, informaticians, genomics experts – just to keep up with science that progresses so quickly.

Imposing testing protocols that have not been adequately researched, or are fear or perception based (albeit with good intention), can hold up a product’s launch for years. This not only pushes up costs (potentially making a product either not commercially viable or else accessible only to a fortunate few), but by delaying market availability, patients are deprived of timely access to therapeutic benefits that could help them manage their conditions more comfortably and effectively.

Finally, manufacturers must play their part by diligently doing what is required of them and by increasing communication and transparency to patients. A positive circle of interaction between patients, institutions and manufacturers will continue to produce improved benefits for all: timely, cost-effective, and safe technology being more widely available to all patients.

CommuniD’s mission is to help patients remain up to date with current medical device solutions in an environment that is constantly evolving. The content of this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the CommuniD website or articles.

If you want to learn more about Digitalisation in Healthcare, please

  • Look around our website
  • Contact us @
  • Follow CommuniD on LinkedIn