Who Are the New ‘Patient Influencers’ on Social Media?


From HealthDay: “Disability activist Gem Hubbard regularly shares her insights about life in a wheelchair with more than 75,000 Instagram followers, under the handle @wheelsnoheels_, and her YouTube videos boast more than 3.7 million hits.

Hubbard, who hails from the U.K., is ‘increasingly known internationally for her work in furthering the horizons of people with and without disabilities,’ her website says.

It goes on to say that Hubbard also ‘works hard to bring brands to life,’ promoting Grippoz silicone covers for wheelchair rims, wheelchair bags from Pickepacke, and the ADAPTS Disabled Passenger Transfer Sling.

‘With a niche following of ninety thousand, she is sure to bring awareness to your brand with a high standard,’ Hubbard’s website says. ‘Gem views all products and services as potentially life-enhancing for wheelchair users and all of her followers and contacts.’

Patient influencers like Hubbard fill social media these days, and a new report says pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers view them as an increasingly popular direct-to-consumer marketing tool.

. . .  This situation makes it difficult for people seeking information about their medical conditions to know whom to trust, since popular influencers might be compensated on the side by companies with an interest in the messages they’re promoting, said Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, a professor of pharmacology and physiology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

‘Patient stories and patient perspective can be important, but the perspectives that are being highlighted are the ones that back marketing goals,’ she said.”



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