Health Care Trends With a Social Media Twist
I attended a social media program hosted by the PRSA Boston chapter and Publicity Club of New England a few nights ago and was floored when Elaine Driscoll, director of communications for the Boston Police Department, shared with us that the city's 9-1-1 dispatchers assist with round-the-clock Twitter monitoring and response out of NECESSITY. Of late, Twitter has evidently become a preferred platform for city residents to report emergencies, and the BPD has its hands full reminding followers that Twitter is no replacement for the 9-1-1.
One would think this is an anomaly, but a quick Google search shows this isn't true: a blogger in San Antonio posts about a nurse in Atlanta who tweeted for a medflight after his Grandma's aorta ruptured, and a study conducted last summer shows that on average, one-third of respondents would look to social media to report an emergency.
There's been a call for hospitals and emergency response systems to up their protocols to accomodate this new phenomenon, but I shudder at the thought: anyone who's hear a 9-1-1 call played back on a nightly newscast can tell you there's no substitute for the real-time interaction and instruction that comes with talking with an operator on the other end of the line. A medical emergency shouldn't be approached with a "tweet and wait" philosophy, and typing wastes precious time (even if you are a speedy thumb typer).
Seems to me that BPD has it right by establishing a mechanism to process the influx of "emergen-tweets" without allowing them to take the place of 9-1-1.