In addition to being a great tool for sharing information, Twitter can truly impact patient care.
One of the most rewarding experiences in my career involved a situation in which a woman sought quick treatment at a client’s hospital after hearing our radio spot for its stroke center. We tell that story with pride, using it as a proof point that the much-maligned advertising industry can actually make life better.
I imagine the folks at Emory Healthcare are swelling with a similar pride these days. According to a great case study on its website, Twitter recently played a vital role in expediting patient care.
Here are some excerpts:
At 11:06 am on April 25, we received a tweet from Matthew Browning, who was playing a critical role in helping his wife and family in getting through a crisis situation. The tweet read as follows, “@emoryhealthcare NEED HELP NOW!! Grandma w/ RUPTURED AORTA needs Card Surgeon/OR ASAP, STAT! Can you accept LifeFlight NOW!!?”
What would you do if you received a tweet like that? Even if your staff is usually responsive to social media posts, could you mobilize to formulate the type of immediate response this message requires?
At Emory, they immediately threw out their process flowcharts and shifted into high gear, contacting a variety of departments as quickly as possible.
Within minutes, we tweeted back to Matthew: “@MatthewBrowning Matthew, please either call 911 or have your grandma’s doctor call our transfer service to get immediate help: 404-686-8334.”
They gave Matthew critical information he could act on within Twitter’s 140-character limit.
Four minutes later, at 11:21 am, Matthew responded, “@emoryhealthcare We are doing that! She is in small South Georgia hosp right now- but needs MAJOR help- We are calling, thanks!”
We responded: “@MatthewBrowning keep us posted & please let us know if there is anything else we can do to help. We’re keeping you both in our thoughts.”
Matthew sent a tweet one minute later, “@hospitalpolicygrp @emoryhealthcare Thank you for your help!”
Followed by “@emoryhealthcare Look for STAT Transfer from South Georgia, accept her if able and we’ll see you soon. Thanks!”
16 minutes later, at 11:41 am Matthew’s wife’s grandmother was on a lifeflight to Emory. “@emoryhealthcare Thank you for accepting her- She is on the LifeFlight to you now- Bless you all and Thank you!!”
What an intense exchange! This is the best example I’ve seen of harnessing the power of social media to affect patient treatment. With a diagnosis of a ruptured aorta or something similar, minutes can literally make a difference.
Clearly Matthew is a savvy health care consumer. He is a registered nurse and founder of Your Nurse is On, a health care staffing application. Apparently, in this situation, he was using Twitter, email and LinkedIn simultaneously within his broad circle of health care contacts. Using social media technology, he was able to make more contacts in minutes than anyone could in hours with traditional technologies.
At the same time, phone calls were being made from the hospital trying to find a hospital to transfer his wife’s grandmother to. “We got lots of nos,” Matthew said.
Thankfully, when he reached out to Emory Healthcare, its team had the ability and capacity to help. “We group-sourced something to people with a common interest and achieved a medical miracle,” Matthew said.
I love this story. It represents all of the best reasons to work in healthcare marketing and communications. I have to admit it also scares me a little.
Stories like this get a lot of press. Patients and their families get desperate in urgent situations. And more and more mainstream consumers are becoming just as savvy as Matthew Browning. While this case turned out well, similar situations also have the potential for disaster if the hospital receiving the tweets doesn’t have a plan in place to act quickly.
I’m encouraging our clients to use this case as a wake-up call. Now is a good time to examine your processes and policies and to formulate an “emergency” social media plan if necessary. I encourage you to read the complete two-part case history from Emory Healthcare as well: