Posted by: medicblog999 | October 8, 2010

Social Media to the rescue, Again!

I have written in the past about how social media had a direct impact on a patient care episode that I was involved in.

That reinforced the strong belief that I have, that what we do in the EMS Blogosphere can transcend the obvious benefits of creating more dynamic thinkers, and increasing provider’s professional knowledge about various aspects of what we do. It can actually directly benefit patient care.

This has been proven again, in a very real way over the past couple of months.

I was contacted via email from a clinical radiographer who lives and works in the United States. She was looking after a female patient who was undergoing treatment for fairly advanced Cervical Cancer. The patient was a British national who wished to come back home to complete her treatment and to spend time with her family over here, just in case the treatment didn’t go as planned.

The main problem that became evident was that the patient had been told from her oncologist that it would not be in her interests to travel back home because the waiting times for treatment in the UK would be so long that it would likely be of detriment to her and her eventual prognosis.

The radiographer (lets call her Julie) who reads my blog, sent me an initial email to enquire if this was true or not and asked my opinion if her patient should indeed stay in the U.S to finish her treatment before returning home.

Fortunately, due to previous nursing experience, and personal family experience, I know quite a bit about cancer services in the UK and I didn’t think that this would be an issue as long as the appropriate referrals were put in place before she left the USA and the journey took place at a time where the break in treatment would either be nil, or minimised as much as possible. But I had to do some research first.

I contacted our regional Cancer Care Centre and discussed the case with a specialist in Gynaecological Cancers, who confirmed that the delay would be minimal, but there had to be certain things put in place first, including a referral from the patients GP. Once that was all done, then it would be fairly straight forward for her to continue with her treatment after case notes etc had been shared.

I passed all of this information back to Julie, who emailed back again a couple of days later to tell me that the patients doctor had agreed to the move back to the UK and the patient (and her family) were in the process of contacting the patients old GP in the UK, who amazingly was in my own working area!

Everything went quiet for a few weeks, and then I received a final message from Julie stating that her patient was preparing to leave and return to the UK, where her treatment would continue under the care of oncologists in the NHS in my local hospital.

It really is a small word isn’t it? Amazingly, more and more we all seem to have a part to play in other peoples lives (no matter how far away they are, geographically)

Remind me again, how social media is a bad thing???


  1. It’s not (bad, that is). It’s just so crazy good that it scares the hell out of those locked in the status quo. Kicking and screaming, we will drag the unenlightened into the 21st Century. Great job!

  2. Oh come on Mark. we in the US know all about how she’ll sit on a waiting list for months, then die in the streets. My insurance company told me so.
    Remind everyone how much she’ll be charged for all this care in the end.

    Well done, Mark. I need 6,000 more of you…FAST.

  3. Mark and Happy Medic – my own experiences in the blogosphere as a regular contributor to forums for my own chronic and incurable but controllable disease show me just how much better my patient journey is thanks to the “socialised medicine” set-up of the NHS. I thought my dealings trying to get a diagnosis were bad until I found out how my peers fare with rheumatologists in the USA with its “best healthcare system in the world”. They get a diagnosis and poor care – then are abandoned by their insurance. That’s after so many CTs and MRIs that their cancer risk is increased too. I dealt with my illness before diagnosis with various physical therapies I paid for myself and felt it was expensive though worth it – it was absolutely nothing in comparison to the co-pays on top of insurance policies that cost thousands of dollars a year and still refuse to cover that I know my forum friends are faced with.

    Me – the care is there, it may not be perfect but it’s never going to abandon me totally or make me bankrupt so I lose everything else as well as my health. And I have a husband who is here only courtesy of the NHS – he’d have died in the US because by the time the oncologist would have been able to get cover agreed he would have been too ill to treat (nearly got there in the UK in the 10 days it took from first complaint to starting chemo so not long and including 2 weekends). If we’d had to pay for that 12 months in the USA he’d have had no cover later when he had his DVT and we’d have had no money.

    Even if all that we do is show others in the US that the NHS and similar systems aren’t what they are told they are and it helps bring about a fairer option for the less well off there that’s good. And in our blogging activities we are also bringing good – even best – practice from other countries to the rest of the world for consideration. The forum member who brings official treatment guidelines to their treating doctor which improves their own patient experience may also benefit the next patient with the same uncommon ailment.

    On balance – a good thing I think, even if there are the occasional wobbles!

  4. Cool, well done to all concerned.

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