Social Media - YouTube and Instagram

Social Media and Healthcare: Utilizing Instagram

Compiled by Jodie Elrod

Compiled by Jodie Elrod

Wondering about who of your colleagues are on Instagram, or what this social media site is all about? Find out here from various EP professionals in the field. 

“I began my social media experiment as a health care provider shortly before the 2014 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions by invitation from our public relations department. The intent was to have a representative from Intermountain Healthcare who could understand the science presented, knew the science we were contributing, and could interact with others at the conference on social media as well as generate social media content specific to our science. Thus, I created a Twitter account.

Twitter is like a fast-moving stream. One can move quickly along, add or modify direction, and/or find oneself down many different branches. In contrast, Instagram is like a large body of water. Posts are visual, catching the eye and telling a story with a picture or short video. Engagement feels more personal, limited to “likes” or comments directed to the poster, much like Facebook. Cross-posting through Instagram can be quite rewarding, emphasizing a thought via video or picture, allowing more than 140 characters of commentary, all while maintaining one’s ability to still use hashtags. My Instagram audience is different, being smaller and more personal, but so is the content I post. Feel free to connect with me on Instagram!”

~ Viet Le, MPAS, PA-C,
Cardiology Research Physician Assistant, RP/CV Research Admin,
Intermountain Medical Center

“Our mission at Mended Little Hearts (MLH) is to empower patients and families affected by congenital heart disease (CHD) through peer-to-peer support services, education, advocacy, and awareness. Social media, Instagram in particular, has allowed us to reach more families and patients than we could have without this valuable tool.

Mended Little Hearts started using Instagram in 2014 as the primary platform for our national photo contest and awareness campaign #RockYourScar. Using Instagram allowed us to broaden our reach, especially to teens and young adults living with this disease who are often ashamed of their scars. The campaign encourages people to embrace their scars, both physical and emotional. One 13-year-old winner told us that it was the first time she ever showed her scar, and she has gone on to be a powerful advocate and even write a book.

Since that first contest, our presence on Instagram has grown. There are numerous CHD communities on the platform, and thanks to hashtags, people can easily find us and follow heart families and patients. Not only do they share pictures, they offer each other encouragement, support, and non-medical advice (like tips for removing adhesive tape residue). 

In addition to our annual #RockYourScar contest, MLH also has a monthly #PowerofPictures campaign where people share photos of their loved ones who are affected by CHD. Underlying this campaign is the belief that a picture is often more powerful than words. 

Instagram can improve healthcare through connection. When patients see other patients like them and connect with them, they can learn about new treatments, programs, and resources to help them stay healthy both physically and mentally. There is also significant healing power in “me too” — knowing you are not alone when faced with sometimes scary and difficult health issues.”

~ Mandy L Sandkuhler,
Field Communications Manager,
Mended Little Hearts National

“With my Grace the Nurse series, I like to focus on how to live a healthy lifestyle, and Instagram has been an excellent vehicle to showcase different ways to eat healthy. I decided to use Instagram to focus on healthy foods and meals, because I noticed that Instagram photos showing foods usually have thousands of views. Additionally, numerous hashtags exist regarding food and eating (e.g., #foodporn, #foodie, and #foodlover). I wanted to utilize my Grace the Nurse Instagram account to show people that eating healthy has numerous options and that they do not necessarily need to eat a salad every day in order to eat healthy. For my pictures, I try to capture the food item or meal in an eye-catching way, and in the description, I list the nutritional content and information on why the food I featured is healthy. So far, I have received only positive responses and compliments on my photos! I hope using Instagram in this manner teaches people about new ways to eat healthy.”

~ Grace Lescano, RN,

“A year ago I was only dabbling in Instagram. Today, it’s my go-to social media platform for keeping myself current on news events and fashion trends. Instagram has learned what’s important to me and sends me beautiful pictures every morning based on what I’ve viewed, people I follow, and photos I’ve liked. It knows the hashtags I have used, and selects photos accordingly. This makes it a powerful tool when trying to target or influence a certain audience. If healthcare professionals or medical centers are not using this platform, they are missing a golden opportunity to brand themselves and educate patients! 

The public is hungry for information, and a picture can tell a compelling story with just a few words. Photos are engaging and easier to educate people on topics that can otherwise be complicated. Photos can also be incredibly personal and allow people to connect with them. Instagram is effective with proper hashtags using relevant key words to target a specific audience. Hashtags allow businesses and individuals to hyperfocus on a certain demographic and can also be used to launch campaigns. For example, #electrictales may be used by electrophysiologists who may want to start an Instagram page of patients who may want to share their success stories. They in turn will share their photos and stories, and the campaign builds organically with more followers and a more educated public connecting to like-minded people. Instagram also allows for videos, which can take education for patients to a whole new level.”

~ Annette Akers,