An E-Patient Twitter Success Story

In the fifth week of my Internet in Medicine university credit course, the focus is on the world of e-patients when I present several real e-patients stories, examples when patients could successfully improve their health by using online pieces of information or communities. Here is a new story I will have to mention this March. Erin Turner suffered with pain in her right wrist on a daily basis, despite regular treatment from an orthopedic surgeon for years. Then she found a solution via Twitter:

First, my mother told me she saw something about wrist ligament damage in USA Today. Second, I noticed an alert on my Twitter aggregator: In coordination with the USA Today article, @MayoClinic was hosting a #wristpain Twitter chat with Dr. Richard Berger, the surgeon who discovered the UT split tear. When I read the article and the tweet, I knew I had to participate.

Less than 24 hours after my initial appointment, I not only had a new diagnosis – a UT split tear – but had surgery to correct the problem. As I write this, my right arm is in a festive green, but otherwise annoying cast. The short-term hassle, however, should be more than worth the long-term gain – the potential for a future without chronic wrist pain. A future, that without Twitter and those in the medical community willing to experiment with new communications tools, might not exist for me.

Turner summarized the story in 3 points:

  • Patients need to receive information through multiple channels.
  • Social media should be integrated with traditional media, when possible.
  • Success needs to be redefined.

Couldn’t said it better…