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Three Good Reasons For Healthcare Professionals To Use Social Networks

Social networking allows doctors, nurses and other health professionals to deeply connect and engage with the community and their colleagues.

“We are standing at the precipice of a new online revolution in health care. As more and more health experts embrace the Internet and increase their social media activity, health information seekers will undoubtedly benefit in profound ways.” [Source: Mashable]

Dynamic health and medical professionals engaged in social networking, using Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and YouTube are on the front-line of new modern medicine.

Today’s modern medicine is all about the patientParticipating, partnering and developing a professional relationship is paramount.

While many health consumers are searching the web for support, reassurance and specific health news and information; doctors and nurses continue to question the value of the internet for patients.

Social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs are not a waste of time for health professionals because it offers value.

Social networking sites and blogs are a powerful and phenomenal platform to educate patients, raise awareness of health issues and it offers a forum to collaborate and connect.  It gives a voice to patients and it allows for the conversation to get started with their doctors and other health care professionals.

Doctors, nurses and other health professionals can help validate what is important for patients.

3 reasons why social networking is not a waste of time

1. Offers Valuable and Real-Time Health Information to Help Guide Patients and Consumers

“The internet has changed people’s relationships with information. Our data consistently show that doctors, nurses, and other health professionals continue to be the first choice for most people with health concerns, but online resources, including advice from peers, are a significant source of health information in the U.S.” [Pew Internet Study]

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the California HealthCare Foundation, the survey finds that, of the 74% of adults who use the internet:

  • 80% of internet users have looked online for information about any of 15 health topics such as a specific disease or treatment. This translates to 59% of all adults.
  • 34% of internet users, or 25% of adults, have read someone else’s commentary or experience about health or medical issues on an online news group, website, or blog.
  • 25% of internet users, or 19% of adults, have watched an online video about health or medical issues.

These findings came from a national telephone survey conducted in August and September 2010 among 3,001 adults in the U.S.T

People are online searching for health information and as health professionals engaged in social networking, we can help guide them and share valuable, accurate and real-time health information.

Health care consumers can tap into health experts that they can trust.

Internet users can tap into some of the brilliant blogs that have been created by phenomenal health experts; they can join the community on Twitter and Facebook and share information.

Accurate Blogs and Resources:

A few trusted sites:

2.  Establishes  a relationship with the Community

Health care is a partnership between doctors, nurses and other health care professionals and patients.

Today’s modern patients are savvy health care consumers.

The e-patient community means business and they are a group of patients who are advocating for better, closer patient care.  They want a partnership with their doctors and nurses, they want their medical records at their fingertips and they want telehealth to be implemented for better health.

List of Valuable Patients and Advocates on Twitter

3.  The use of social networking is the real game-changer.  Did Twitter save a life?

Here’s a real-time example how one health care organization embraced Twitter and listened to a patient’s family member cry for help and took real-time action.

Twitter conversation between

@Emoryhealthcare and @MatthewBrowning

“The dialogue that took place on Twitter between Emory Healthcare and Matthew Browning on April 25, 2011 was a powerful one. Without time to spare, Matthew turned to Twitter in a time of crisis to help get his wife Phoebe’s grandmother transported to a hospital with capacity and capabilities to help treat her ruptured aorta. We were able to assist Matthew and his family in an emergency situation, leading to Phoebe’s grandmother being airlifted within 16 minutes of receiving contact information, a truly amazing feat. Despite this, there are countless lessons learned from the experience. While Part I of this case study explored the story and events of April 25, 2011, this portion focuses on the meaning behind and implications of that story. The whole goal here is to help people; and if that’s truly your goal with social media crisis resolution, there are steps you can take to make that a reality, knowing that there will always be scenarios and circumstances that can’t be resolved with a cookie cutter process.”

Valuable Resources – Helpful Sites for Medical Professionals and Hospitals

Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media

CDC Social Media Tool Kit

AMA Policy: Professionalism in the Use of Social Media

New AMA Policy Helps Guide Physicians’ Use of Social Media

Lee Aase – Social Media University

Glen D. Gilmore, Esq.

Bryan Vartabedian, MD

Howard Luks, MD

Kevin Pho, MD

Barbara Ficarra, RN

Phil Baumann, RN

Ed Bennett

Robert West, PhD

Chris Brogan

Takeaway

Social networking is not going to go away; it is only going to become fiercer, faster and more fabulous.

Social networking has not spread like wildfire.  More health professionals need to embrace this fascinating tool for educating the public.

What you can do

Dive into this phenomenal and powerful tool, you can truly help improve the lives of people.

Your turn

We would love to hear from you.  Health professionals, what suggestions do you have for your colleagues?  Patients, how do you engage in social networking?

As always, thank you for your valuable time.

[Image:  iStockPhoto]

*This blog post was originally published at Health in 30*


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Richmond, VA – In an effort to simplify inpatient medical billing, one area hospitalist group has determined that “altered mental status” (ICD-9 780.97) is the most efficient code for use in any patient work up.

“When you enter a hospital, you’re bound to have some kind of mental status change,” said Dr. Fishbinder, co-partner of Area Hospitalists, PLLC. “Whether it’s confusion about where your room is located in relationship to the visitor’s parking structure, frustration with being woken up every hour or two to check your vital signs, or just plain old fatigue from being sick, you are not thinking as clearly as before you were admitted. And that’s all the justification we need to order anything from drug and toxin screens, to blood cultures, brain MRIs, tagged red blood cell nuclear scans, or cardiac Holter monitoring. There really is no limit to what we can pursue with our tests.”

Common causes of mental status changes in the elderly include medicine-induced cognitive side effects, disorientation due to disruption in daily routines, age-related memory impairment, and urinary tract infections.

“The urinalysis is not a very exciting medical test,” stated Dr. Fishbinder. “It doesn’t matter that it’s cheap, fast, and most likely to provide an explanation for strange behavior in hospitalized patients. It’s really not as elegant as the testing involved in a chronic anemia or metabolic encephalopathy work up. I keep it in my back pocket in case all other tests are negative, including brain MRIs and PET scans.”

Nursing staff at Richmond Medical Hospital report that efforts to inform hospitalists about foul smelling urine have generally fallen on deaf ears. “I have tried to tell the hospitalists about cloudy or bloody urine that I see in patients who are undergoing extensive work ups for mental status changes,” reports nurse Sandy Anderson. “But they insist that ‘all urine smells bad’ and it’s really more of a red herring.”

Another nurse reports that delay in diagnosing urinary tract infections (while patients are scheduled for brain MRIs, nuclear scans, and biopsies) can lead to worsening symptoms which accelerate and expand testing. “Some of my patients are transferred to the ICU during the altered mental status work up,” states nurse Anita Misra. “The doctors seem to be very excited about the additional technology available to them in the intensive care setting. Between the central line placement, arterial blood gasses, and vast array of IV fluid and medication options, urosepsis is really an excellent entré into a whole new level of care.”

“As far as medicine-induced mental status changes are concerned,” added Dr. Fishbinder, “We’ve never seen a single case in the past 10 years. Today’s patients are incredibly resilient and can tolerate mixes of opioids, anti-depressants, anti-histamines, and benzodiazepines without any difficulty. We know this because most patients have been prescribed these cocktails and have been taking them for years.”

Patient family members have expressed gratitude for Dr. Fishbinder’s diagnostic process, and report that they are very pleased that he is doing everything in his power to “get to the bottom” of why their loved one isn’t as sharp as they used to be.

“I thought my mom was acting strange ever since she started taking stronger pain medicine for her arthritis,” says Nelly Hurtong, the daughter of one of Dr. Fishbinder’s inpatients. “But now I see that there are deeper reasons for her ‘altered mental status’ thanks to the brain MRI that showed some mild generalized atrophy.”

Hospital administrators praise Dr. Fishbinder as one of their top physicians. “He will do whatever it takes to figure out the true cause of patients’ cognitive impairments.” Says CEO, Daniel Griffiths. “And not only is that good medicine, it is great for our Press Ganey scores and our bottom line.”

As for the nursing staff, Griffiths offered a less glowing review. “It’s unfortunate that our nurses seem preoccupied with urine testing and medication reconciliation. I think it might be time for us to mandate further training to help them appreciate more of the medical nuances inherent in quality patient care.”

Dr. Fishbinder is in the process of creating a half-day seminar on ‘altered mental status in the inpatient setting,’ offering CME credits to physicians who enroll. Richmond Medical Hospital intends to sponsor Dr. Fishbinder’s course, and franchise it to other hospitals in the state, and ultimately nationally.

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