Connecting patients - and patients' families - with the social support they need - SmartBrief

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Connecting patients — and patients’ families — with the social support they need

2 min read

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This post is by SmartBrief’s Elizabeth Collins.

Most of us have either been to a hospital for our own medical needs or have at least had a family member or loved one who landed in a hospital. It can be overwhelming and lonely.

Patients these days can take some comfort in knowing that their health can benefit from technology in ways far beyond receiving a diagnostic scan from a cutting-edge device or having robot-guided surgery. They can reap the real benefit of community support by connecting with others — be it other patients with the same medical condition, or family and friends — through social media before, during and after a hospital stay.

The benefit of community support doesn’t stop with the patient, either.

One of the things highlighted in a recent multipart blog series written by a stomach cancer surgery patient, Dr. Jessie Gruman, and her husband, Dr. Richard Sloan, was that Sloan found out how important social media is as a patient’s family member.

“We all know about the value of social support in medicine,” Sloan, a behavioral medicine professor, wrote in his Nov. 4 blog entry, noting that when he set up a website about Gruman’s Sept. 27 surgery, he expected that people’s messages would help her. “What I didn’t expect, but what I received, was a remarkable amount support myself. It helped me get through a tough few days and has sustained me in the weeks since then,” he adds.

Last year, news of the then-late-breaking practice of tweeting from inside the operating room hit the media — an improved method of keeping family in the waiting room or anywhere across the globe up to date on the patient’s status. It is fortunate that, while patients themselves deserve the bulk of the attention, some of the focus is also being shifted to making things easier for the anxious loved ones.

As the health care system calls on all of us to be more involved, we should remember that if we’re planning a trip to the hospital we may want to set up and announce a blog before we even pack that hospital bag. If/when we get there in an emergency situation, we can turn to any number of social-media outlets to reach people who need to know and to take comfort in their support.

Image Credit: reflekta, via iStock Photo