Online strategy promotes quality, patient experience

From disease-specific portals to surgical suite tweeting to social media monitoring, Children's Medical Center Dallas has integrated a number of technologies and platforms to help create a patient- and family-centric experience, said Christopher Durovich, president and CEO. Durovich spoke at a special session on healthcare technology at the annual congress of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) in Chicago this week.

To illustrate the importance of an online strategy, Durovich told the story of a "hyper-involved" mom who tried to call the hospital after hours. Upset that she didn't get a response, she took her child to the emergency room. It turned out the child was not having an emergency, but ED staff set her mind at ease and she left relieved--and satisfied.

The next day, she shared what turned out to be a positive experience with her large social media network.

"I said to myself--'Self, there's a mom out there who's [shared a positive experience] and there's a mom out there who's done the exact opposite,'" Durovich said.

And because social media plays such a big role in an organization's reputation, Children's has taken the helm by including social communities for many different disease states, such as diabetes and more rare genetic conditions, where parents can share information.

The online strategy isn't just a nice-to-have, Durovich said. It bolsters one of the organization's five strategic objectives--to provide safe, quality care and excellent service.

The organization also took a calculated risk when it tweeted live during a surgery--at the request of the patient's family-- in order to raise awareness of organ donation.

One audience member questioned the privacy implications of live tweeting during surgery. It's a surprisingly common misperception that The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA ) expressly forbids sharing patient information. As long as the family signs the correct paperwork, HIPAA isn't a barrier, Durovich said.

Then again, he added, it's not exactly an option they automatically offer to every patient.

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