How Twitter Can Help Save Lives

The healthcare industry has a tough time on social media. They have to balance instant, transparent communication with the legal ramification of offering health advice through a tweet as well as patient privacy. But a new case study from Atlanta, Georgia’s Emory Healthcare shows how all of this can be juggled, and in a crisis situation too.

The Emory Healthcare Twitter account (@emoryhealthcare) received the following tweet from a local man who was dealing with a healthcare crisis situation:

“@emoryhealthcare NEED HELP NOW!! Grandma w/ RUPTURED AORTA needs Card Surgeon/OR ASAP, STAT! can you accept LifeFlight NOW!!?”

And they responded:

“@MatthewBrowning Matthew, please either call 911 or have your grandma’s doctor call our transfer service to get immediate help: 404-686-8334.”

They exchanged several more tweets while the paramedics took Matthew’s wife’s grandmother to the local hospital, and Matthew was able to get her on a LifeFlight to Emory within about 20 minutes of his first tweet.

Matthew is a registered nurse, and he has connections in the healthcare industry which he leveraged to save his wife’s grandmother. He used Twitter, LinkedIn, his email contacts and more to reach out for help. The fact that Emory received his tweet and reacted so quickly – offering him not only an immediate response with an emergency number but also working towards bringing his wife’s grandmother to their facilities – certainly showcases how important social media can be in the healthcare industry.

Unfortunately, Matthew’s wife’s grandmother passed away that same day, but the situation highlights how Twitter was used to dispatch a helicopter almost instantly. It took only 24 minutes from first contact to get it off the ground.

Those behind the tweets at Emory had to work fast and accurately. In this kind of situation, time is of the essence – but an inaccurate contact number or advice can be detrimental to the outcome. They had to balance speed with accuracy, and they did it admirably.

You can read the full case study here and here.

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