Social Media & mHealth are Complementary Modalities

Eat more veggies, exercise 3-5 times per week, take your pills and sign up for Twitter.

Is that where we’re going in healthcare?

If so – we are only continuing to mask the issues and do business as usual.

I don’t deny that online presence will become more prevalent as the young get older, but without addressing the fundamental & dysfunctional care issues – the “in-real-life” issues at the bedside for the patients, for the nurses, for the physicians, for the country – then all of these tools are really only a complementary modality.

I’m not knocking this “online modality” – modalities are what makes holistic nursing what it is – an above and beyond specialty. Holistic care should be the standard – it’s not and can’t be until we face the issues together, yet we know the practice of holistic care provides more personalized care to individuals. “If you want online resources – I’m/we’re (HCPs & orgs) online too, so I/we can offer you online resources along with other modalities to personalize your care: meditation, narrative writing, hand massage for comfort, health coaching, mHealth, games for health, art therapy, music therapy, humor, and so on.” Options are endless.

Still – all of these online tools have not yet become mainstream in care – if so they would be integrated in the hospital setting from the get go with patients & families from admission to discharge and in the home. We’re still trudging through the electronic health records challenge in this country (and making progress). There are so many wounds to fix in our health system: wounds, ulcers, punctures – we don’t have a wound vac large enough if we’re plugged in elsewhere.

There are some wonderful examples of healthcare organizations or individual clinicians integrating online/SoMe tools into daily practice and that’s admirable – for they might be considered holistic in their approach. Applause! I urge them to go further – be even more holistic – take a risk and do something completely different. Offer more modalities: in the hospital, in the ambulatory waiting rooms, for your staff. Because the point of being online isn’t to lessen the touch in care – it’s to make it stronger. Web presence should be a continuation of the conversation. It should be an extension of care.

Don’t let your web presence replace you – you (the HCP) are the source – your eye contact, your ears, your touch, your face exuding compassion, your caring smile, your handshake, your soothing voice that comforts and educates, your laughter or tears shared with a patient or family member can never be replaced by a screen or a link. And don’t let it!

One Comment

  1. says:

    October 13, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Great points in this piece. It’s important to review other techno revolutions of sorts to get a feel for how SoMe will likely end up becoming the norm in the hc industry. While not exactly the same, the vast majority of folks with a cell phone still maintained a landline in their homes. Now, the tide is turning as more and more people opt to forego a landline, using mobile communications exclusively.

    The hold outs were people like my parents (still a bit distrustful of the cell phone, but have one anyway) who maintain the same landline and phone number they had when I was born. Other holdouts are those who just aren’t that plugged into technology. They may have a cell phone and work on a computer sometimes (or even all the time), but aren’t mentally ready to let go of the landline security blanket.

    For docs (and others) the scenario has some similarities (although it also has distinct and notable differences). The older traditional docs don’t think it’s necessary. Some Boomer aged docs have a robust distrust borne out of possible risks and what-if scenarios in their heads.

    But it’s growing and growing steadily. There will be some scandals — some of such magnitude they’ll cause a regression for a bit — a stepping away if you will. This is the turning point. If the panic and outrage over this future scandal or litany of such causes the powers that be to put crushing regulations in place, even the technophile docs will lose heart. If the root of the problem (those who caused the scandal) are held to task with a firm, steady hand of justice and the rule of law, it will bounce back and the flood gates will then break.

    Those hc pros not engaging on social media will quickly become obsolete — like the tree that falls in the woods and no one hears, thus it makes no sound.

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