“Like” This! Facebook Creates Instant Spike in Organ Donation Registration

When I was a kid I was fascinated with a family friend’s profession as an organ donation coordinator.  Eileen, a nurse, was challenged with talking to families who may have lost a loved one, explaining the benefits of organ donation, and trying to convince them to let their loved ones organs and tissues be donated to save 8 lives and enhance 50+.

That is why I was so excited when earlier this week, Facebook launched an initiative to allow users to sign up to become organ donors.  As of Wednesday, more than 22,000 people had signed up—including yours truly!


Organ and tissue donation is one of the most remarkable success stories in the history of medicine.  But unfortunately, there are roughly 114,000 people on the waiting list and someone dies every 4 hours waiting for a transplant.  Many times potential donors have not talked to their families about their wishes, which can make the decision very difficult.

Facebook provides a fantastic platform to empower people to communicate about an important issue, get the facts out, increase awareness and make the discussion less taboo.  In addition, there are implications for live donors (for kidneys for example), reaching out and connecting on Facebook.

I posted today’s CBS News story below—it talks about the benefits and potential risks associated with a social media platform for organ donation.  For example, because the government does not regulate the Facebook donation information, situations of coercion or donation for money could arise.  That being said, in my opinion the risks of abuse largely outweigh the potential benefits.  As Dr. Andrew Cameron, a transplant surgeon at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says “I think it’s possible that we will see an impact over the next couple of years, where we would imagine eliminating the transplant waiting list.”

The Facebook effect has created a lot of buzz in the news media about organ donation.  If you want to sign up, you can go through your Facebook page (Facebook>>Your profile page>>Life Event>>Health and Wellness>>Organ Donor) or check out this link to Donate Life America!

If you want to learn more, here are resources I used for this post as well as some additional gems:

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Patients want social media!

For the past few weeks I have been following medGadget on Facebook.  MedGadet is a weblog a group of MDs and biomedical engineers.  They post interesting technologies and every once in a while they turn me on to something directly related to empowering patients through ICT!  It was a lucky day when I saw this article on today’s amednews.com entitled Patients want to use social media tools to manage health care by Pamela Lewis Dolan.

The article discusses some findings from a recent PwC Health Research Institute survey of 1000+ patients, which show that patients are interested in a two-way conversation with doctors, via social media, to engage and inform them of health-related issues.  The report also found that embracing social media could help doctors better manage their time by flexing communication hours through the use of social media.

Seattle Mama Doc is an example of a pediatrician who is doing a great job of managing her social media presence (although, I am sure she has the resources of the hospital and marketing team supporting her on this) by engaging parents through a social media platform—in this case, an interactive blog.  With so much noise on the net, it is comforting to see a smiling pediatrician’s face (via an embedded YouTube video) to offer advice on your kid’s health and well-being from a clinical as well as personal connection (Mama Doc has 2 kids of her own).

Screenshot of Seattle Mama Doc Blog

There are still some details about social media and medicine that make many doctors nervous and need to be worked out—privacy, legality, etc.—but Don Sinko, chief integrity officer of the Cleveland Clinic said it best,  “one of the greatest risks of social media is ignoring social media.  It’s out there, and people are using it whether you like it or not.”

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How hospitals are using iPads to improve the patient experience

Check out this impressive new app that the Mayo Clinic is using to help heart surgery patients.  The app is specially designed for patients so that they can access their plan of care before and after surgery.  When you undergo major surgery like a bypass, there is a lot of information to keep track of in terms of your recovery—how much to walk, how much to eat and drink, when to take your medications, etc.  This app allows patients to keep track of their information, which is then immediately transferred to the patient’s care team.  The app enables both the patient and the doctor to have the information that they need, when they need it, in an easy-to-use format.

The Mayo Clinic is doing a great job of empowering their heart patients with information.  This will help them feel more in control in what can be a very stressful time in their lives.  That being said, the major downfall of this technology is that most hospitals cannot afford to hand out iPads to patients or foot the bill for app development.  Additionally, healthcare purists warn that technology cannot supplement hands-on doctor or nurse-to-patient contact.  Personally, I think that this has great potential for improving how hospitals deliver patient education materials and how clinicians manage care before and after treatment.

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TEDMED 2012 and ICT to Empower Patients

This year the Healthcare Business Association was able to stream the 2012 TEDMED conference live at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.  It was a great alternative to attending the conference in person and there were several exciting topics related to empowering patients with technology.  While I was only able to catch a few sessions in-between classes and group meetings, the blogosphere was alive with commentary and interesting tidbits.

TEDMED is the healthcare branch of the TED organization (Technology, Entertainment, Design) which is “passionate about imagining the future of health and medicine.”  The best description of TEDMED content comes from their website:

TEDMED is the only place where a Nobel Prize winning neurobiologist has a conversation with a four-star general… where an opera singer (with a double lung transplant) chats with a NASA space physician… and where a ballet dancer talks to an exoskeleton designer.

The piece that is relevant here is that the TEDMED audience (more than 1,700 people) voted via smartphone apps to prioritize the 50 “Great Challenges” in health and medicine.  The winner was “inventing wellness programs that work.”  While there were solutions to this challenge that were not ICT related, others have a direct connection to empowering patients with information and technology’s role in managing that information.

E. Schwartz, an innovation blogger, highlighted the talk by Leslie Saxon of the USC Center for Body Computing, who unveiled everyheartbeat.org, an ambitious plan to get 8 billion heartbeats online via a simple diagnostic device that links to smart phones and continually takes your pulse and scans your heart for irregularities.  These exciting innovations in the world of ICT and healthcare will do much to put knowledge into the hands of patients so, for example, they can continuously monitor their vital signs and be empowered with data about their cardiovascular health.

Here is a video of a TEDMED talk from 2011 about powered, wearable robots (this year’s talks aren’t posted yet).  Not necessarily related to communication technology—but definitely cool and very empowering!

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The 360° Patient Experience

Last week I posted a brief introduction of a webinar about a collaboration between MEDSEEK and Microsoft that addresses technology challenges (and solutions) patients have interacting with their healthcare providers.  While some of the capabilities of product go beyond the scope of this blog, the key problem the technology addresses is the “siloed” and fragmented technology/process  that patients currently must use to interact with healthcare providers.  This is the solution outlined in the 360° Patient Experience (the webinar outlined a white paper which you can download from this link).

The group proposed a high-level architecture for a Comprehensive Patient User Interface and Experience. The diagram below shows the technology solutions depicted as part of the patient’s continuum of care.

Diagram of Patient Experience

This webinar was geared toward IT leaders in healthcare systems, and there are business-driven and patient-focused elements at work.  Some of the patient empowerment benefits include:

    • Patient access to a patient portal and HealthVault account for doing research, tracking medical information, receiving health related reminders/information, interacting with their providers and requesting appointments.
    • Patients ability to “opt-in” to get a patient portal account and HealthVault account when registering at the kiosk in the hospital.
    • Streamlined patient admissions
    • In-room content customized to their needs based on the reason they are being admitted to the hospital.
    • Patients will receive reminders and follow up content after being discharge which will improve their post-discharge care.

This type of comprehensive ICT platform helps empower patients with access to information.  I am not technically trained, so I cannot comment on the technical capabilities, but from the patient perspective I like that the system engages the patient and allows him to be proactive in managing his care.

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Intel Health Guide: RIGHT Data to the RIGHT People at the RIGHT Time

A collection of innovative hospitals are partnering with GE Healthcare and Intel to launch a new model of healthcare delivery for patients called the Intel Health Guide.  The unit looks fairly user-friendly and unobtrusive, despite its state-of-the-art functionality.

Intel Health Guide

The Guide will empower patients to better manage their care because they can easily communicate with their doctor, review educational content, and access their own health information.  In cancer care, for example, patients have to manage their complex treatment plans and changing health status on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.  This unit can give patients the freedom to take control of their care, which can boost confidence and well-being.

In addition, the Guide offers an online interface that allows clinicians to securely monitor patients in their homes and manage care remotely.  This reduces costly and time-consuming office visits.  As tele and virtual health continue to gain momentum in the market, innovations like the Guide will be important tools in the evolution of care.  Intel’s website says that “the Guide strengthens the connection between healthcare professionals and patients. This personal connection helps make disease management easier and enables a model for mobile healthcare monitoring.”

This is a marketing/introduction video that described the Intel Health Guide:

Lastly, here are some innovative companies that are currently piloting the Intel Health Guide:

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Just a teaser…

Stay tuned for a review of a new MEDSEEK and Microsoft partnership related to engaging patients in hospital changes due to healthcare reform.  The companies shared a press release yesterday–you can read it here: Do Your Patients Play a Role in Your Healthcare Reform Strategies?

They are hosting a free webinar next week and I will report back to you on whether or not these products/services really have the consumer-driven patient in mind.  While the webinar will predominantly include lots of marketing, some of the key topics that seem relevant to empowering patients with technology include:

  • What hospitals must do next (with technology) to develop and implement successful strategies to engage and activate patients
  • The “siloed” technology that consumers and patients use to interact with healthcare providers and how it gets in the way of patient engagement and population health management, especially for the ePatient, who wants to be engaged across the continuum of care, in the home, throughout the care encounter, and post-discharge
  • MEDSEEK on Strategic Patient Engagement

Stay tuned for more information!


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