Health care communicators who keep their radar up for new content and story ideas are having a ball with technology.
Here are three very different ways that hospitals, providers and marketers are sharing the ingenuity behind recent tech developments:
1. Keep kids calm. At Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, doctors sought something to keep tech-savvy youngsters distracted before surgery. When they couldn’t find what they were looking for, the tinkering began. Two anesthesiologists at Packard created the Bedside Entertainment Theater, or BERT. Kaiser Health News says it’s a video unit that mounts on any hospital bed “and projects an image onto a large infection-compliant screen hooked onto the bed right in front of the patient’s eyes.” Children can choose action, sports, cartoons, music videos and other genres to view while undergoing MRIs and other procedures. Lucile Packard now has 10 BERTS; each costs around $900 to build.
2. Stay connected. The 2016 Health Care’s Most Wired list is out, and hospitals nationwide are focusing on cybersecurity, telehealth and remote video communication. Still, there’s a lighter side to many facilities honored this year. For example, Dallas-Fort Worth has seven hospitals on the list, which highlights “the facilities that went above and beyond to incorporate technology into their operations.” At Cook Children’s in Fort Worth, the Twitter and Facebook feeds are popping daily with helpful news and information for parents and caregivers. Featured topics this summer have included how to protect children from hot vehicles, water safety, rashes and Pokemon Go. User-generated content and fun photos are integral to Cook’s social media presence, too.
3. Text for health. Can text messages prevent heart attacks? A six-month clinical trial in Australia found that patients who suffered heart attacks were encouraged to change their eating habits, exercise and lifestyles. Researchers sent text messages to people recovering from cardiac episodes reminding them to eat vegetables, get their daily exercise and monitor blood pressure. The Wall Street Journal reported:
Repeat heart attacks make up more than a quarter of all heart attacks in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of these attacks could be prevented by lifestyle changes. But while health systems have gotten very good at treating heart attacks, they struggle to connect with patients recovering from heart attacks after they return home.
Simple text messages may soon become more commonplace in hospitals. Dr. Clara Chow, study chair and director of the cardiovascular division at the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, says, “Texts allow us to give support in bite-size chunks.”
Communicators, are you in tune with the happenings at your hospitals?
This article was published in July 2016.