Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte, Florida has begun using Twitter to send updates from the surgical suite to family and friends. Instead of the family waiting, sometimes for hours, with little or no information about the surgery, Fawcett Memorial has someone in the surgical room sending tweets updating the status of the surgery. Even family and friends who can’t be at the hospital can follow the status.
In most causes there is little information about the surgery until well after the surgery is completed. Sometimes a nurse will call the OR for an update for the family but the information is usually fairly sketchy. Tweeting renders an extra level of service to family and friends. They can know exactly what is going on in surgery and that provides a greater level of comfort and emotional connection to the patient.
Referring to the patient as “a patient of” and their doctor’s name and never mentioning the actual name of the patient prevent HIPAA violations. Both patient and surgeon have to give approval for the tweets. The tweets are sent only to persons who are given the appropriate Twitter information and approval to receive the updates.
Many hospitals would react to this by arguing that they do not have personnel to send tweets and the nurses in surgery are all concentrated on the patient. These are valid arguments. But for hospitals that are trying to get an edge in the marketplace, this could be a competitive advantage. It certainly has the potential to create positive buzz and build loyalty to the hospital.
And it’s just one creative example how social networking can be used to improve service and enhance communication. There are countless other ways it can be utilized. Fawcett Memorial is next considering using twitter in the ER for the same purpose. The availability and acceptance of social media and some creative thinking can truly break new ground in patient service.