Hospitals: Use Social Media to Help Patients Heal Healthcare

Photo by Roger Ramirez, Chariot Photo

In 2007, Dave deBronkart discovered a tumor in his lungs. An MRI revealed that the cancer had started in his kidney and had also spread to his femur, skull and tongue. The diagnosis: 24 weeks to live.

Yesterday a healthy deBronkart, known also as e-patient Dave, gave the closing address to 400 attendees at the Third Annual Mayo Ragan Healthcare Social Media Summit at Mayo Clinic. His message: Healthcare is falling to pieces, only to emerge in a new form. Let patients help heal healthcare.

He received a standing ovation.

I must admit that when I registered for this summit, I was least interested in the topic of e-patients (e-patients are empowered, engaged, equipped and enabled). But after hearing deBronkart’s presentation and listening to six other e-patients at a forum later in the day, I’ve become fascinated. Social media has the power to help heal patients by sharing accurate information that drives them to the very best care.

You can watch a TedX talk by deBronkart to get a feel for his passion, compassion and wisdom. Here are the nuggets I live-tweeted during his presentation (all ending in “via @epatientdave #MayoRagan”):

Let patients help heal healthcare.

Don’t think of patients merely as a marketing channel. If you do, you’ll blow it!

Rise in costs of healthcare is not aligned with consumers’ satisfaction with their healthcare.

Patients are the ultimate stakeholder but often omitted from planning the future.

The urge to care for our children or elders is more powerful to move social change than caring for ourselves.

I’m a middle-aged schlump sitting at home looking stuff up on the internet. The new patient.

Dave e-mails pre-appointment agenda to his doctor to prepare him for his health issues. His doctor loves it.

I know enough to not look at a stupid healthcare website but not everyone does. We’ve got to teach that.

Primary physician sent Dave to acor.org to get more health information.

People formerly known as consumers are adding real value to healthcare by sharing their experiences online.

How can it be that the most useful healthcare information can exist outside the traditional channels?

6000 new medical journal articles curated each day. Impossible for physicians to keep up. And no shame in it.

People in smart patient communities are scouring the earth to find current information about their illnesses.

The smoking gun in the immunization debate is in the journal Nature that had an inaccurate article.

In the old model all value was held by docs and hospitals. Today patients can bring real value to the table.

New media gave me “freedom of the press,” but traditional media gave me credibility and impact.

If the microscope is happy but the patient is not, has care been achieved?

What about patient-defined outcomes? Patients say what they want.

We can create real genuine value to improve healthcare without incurring additional costs. Let patients help.


How we help

Hive Strategies helps hospitals engage patients through social media. We don’t manage social media. Instead, we help hospitals develop an effective social media strategy and mentor them through the implementation process. Read about our services. Start a conversation. Email us or call us at 503-472-5512.

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