Twitter in Health Care
Friday Eric Schnell posted Microblogging the US Airways Miracle about an article in the Guardian by Caitlin Fitzsimmons describing how our society has moved from rapid to almost instantaneous information dissemination. The article points out that much of the early information, pictures and reports of the Hudson River plane crash provided came from the average person with a cell phone. Reports were flying in through the web on sites like Twitter. Janis Krum posted on twitpic (a site to share pictures on Twitter) and uploaded this now rather famous picture of the plane floating on the Hudson while tweeting, "There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy." His tweet was posted only 6 minutes after the plane landed in the river (official timeline: 3:30:30: The plane touches down in the water). According to the Guardian article, within 10 minutes other twitterers were posting about the plane and linking ot Krum's tweet. Fitzsimmons writes, "Twitter proved itself as an excellent news aggregator, pointing me to links to the best media coverage. I particularly appreciated the live video streaming on CNN.com and MSNBC.com among others."
Eric mentions that this news media phenomenon is "referred to as mobcasting or citizen media reporting like that which occurred during the Virginia Tech tragedy, the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, or even a power outage that occurred yesterday in Toronto. A person even twittered while still on a plane as it burned on the runway in Denver in December 2008. Heck, even Santa Twittered. "
I have been twittering for a little while. I have yet to really figure out what voice I want within it. Do I want to have a professional twitter feed keeping people updated with library news, activities, and things similar to this blog? Or do I post about non library events like I did during the inauguration today? I enjoy hearing from other people and keeping up with events, but I am still trying to find my twitter legs.
What is hard to think of is how Twitter might be used within medical libraries or health care. John Sharp directed my attention to an interesting article, 140 Health Care Uses for Twitter by Phil Baumann. The article acknowledges that health care twittering does have some challenges (confidentiality, legal, etc.) but Baumann believes the advantages and possibilities of health care twittering far outweigh constraints brought on by these challenges unique to the health care world. Only by exploring twittering ideas and methods can these issues be addressed and handled appropriately. The list is more of a brainstorm of the 140 possible uses Twitter can play in health care.
I am not going to list all 140 ideas (if you want the full list go to the article), some on the list are similar to each other and really could be lumped together, which is what I did. Here are some I found to especially helpful and could be implemented fairly easily and other uses that I had previously never considered.
- Disaster alerting and response - You already see this to a certain extent with college campuses and text messaging services. Not hard to think how this can move to the Twitter medium.
- Alarming silent codes (psychiatric emergencies, security incidents) - Another very good method for informing people that is already texted to people.
- Augmenting telemedicine - Twittering doesn't have to be by itself, I can imagine it serving as closed caption or commentary for online videos or as a discussion area separate from the actual lecture script/text being shown.
- Biomedical device data capture and reporting - Interesting. I had a friend who was pregnant and on bed rest, she had to call a phone number so that her medical device could download specific information to some computer.
- “Quick and dirty” diagnostic brainstorming between physicians (e.g. ’symptom clustering’), Clinical case education for (residents following attendings), Physician opinion-sharing - As long as patient confidentiality is maintained it could be another way to communicate and brainstorm.
- Remote wound care assistance, Rural area health care communication - Didn't we just have a doctor who performed an amputation following text messages? Is this much different?
- Transmitting patient data to patients who are traveling abroad, Patient-information retrieval, Micro-sharing documentation for advanced medical directives, Micro-sharing of pertinent patient information, Micro-sharing of diagnostic results (blood tests, echocardiography, radiological images) - Not for Twitter per se but it might work within a closed microblogging application unique to the institution.
- Updating patient family members during procedures, Live-tweeting surgical procedures for education - Holy crow, this has already been done. First Live-Tweeted Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital @HenryFordNews.
- Real-time satisfaction surveys with immediate follow-up for problem resolution - Huh never thought of that.
- Live-tweeting medical conferences, Following ad-hoc conferences on eHealth like HealthCampPhila - There are conference twitterers already. A few people at MLA Chicago experimented last year and MLA Hawaii already has created an account.
- Posting quick nursing assessments that feed into electronic medical records (EMRs) - Defintiely can't be Twitter, but can definitely be a closed system that works within the EMR. Might be useful area within the chart with certain guidelines and such.
- Discussing HIPAA reform in the age of micro-sharing - Of course!
Just some interesting ways that people are thinking about using Twitter in the health care world. Do you have any ideas that Phil missed? What about libraries, how can libraries might use Twitter?