Often when we think of an online community, our brains default to Facebook or Twitter. Obviously these are great tools with a broad reach. At last count there were just over 1,200 hospitals using a variety of social media channels.
As I’ve mentioned previously, one great thing about healthcare social media, when handled well, is that it’s about the patient, it’s about building community, and it’s about listening. The organizations with the most robust communities are the ones approaching social media as another service being offered, not a megaphone.
Recently I came across a different patient community, this one provided by the New York Times. Actually, they have a number of offerings for patients. The first one, which has been in place for a few years, is called Patient Voices. Here you’ll find audio and video first person accounts of what it’s like to live with a chronic illness, and they cover everything from bipolar disorder to macular degeneration. There are also health guides with information about each illness and links to news articles; there’s even a link to submit your own story. It’s striking to hear these accounts from children and adults.
Another section is called Picture Your Life After Cancer. Here, readers can upload a photo and a description of their life after cancer and their image and narrative will be added to the collage. Scrolling through screen after screen of faces, some stoic some goofy and some jubilant, is humbling. It leaves me wondering how it must have felt to participate in this project. From the number of entries, it’s obvious this was a welcome opportunity that crossed all the boundaries of race, age and gender. It’s interesting to note how unconcerned these folks are about HIPAA.
So maybe your hospital doesn’t have a New York Times newsroom, but are there people, platforms and resources available that are not being used to their fullest? Take a few minutes and ask yourself “What if we could…”
I’d love to hear about what your organization is doing to give patients voices and faces.