Project Echo, Google+, Patient Education, and a Patient Centered Medical Home.

Project Echo, Google+, Patient Education, and a Patient Centered Medical Home.

What happens when you ask a social media manager for a Patient Centered Medical Home to write about Project Echo®?  You just might get a strange collection of thoughts drawn into a single blog post.  Ready?

Last month, I sat in on a Project Echo videoconference where experts in Hepatitis C spoke with medical providers around the country about challenging cases.  See the Project ECHO Blog post for details.  Yesterday, the Discovery Channel filmed parts of the videoconference and I sat in again to see how things had progressed.

It was the same format of medical providers presenting cases and asking for guidance.  This time, some of the cases were of people who no longer have any sign of Hepatitis C.  Should they continue the treatment?  If they’ve completed the treatment, how often should they be retested?  Then, there were issues of people with other compounding factors in their lives and questions of when the best time to start treatment would be.  Dr. Marwan Haddad from CHC’s New Britain site presented a particularly challenging case and there was a fascinating discussion.

This morning, as I prepared to write a blog post about the event, I checked the discussions over on the Social Media Health Network, formed by the Mayo Clinic, which CHC is a member of.  A technician in the Mayo Clinic’s Polycystic Kidney Disease research laboratory posted a link to Joel Wende’s Google+ feed.  Joel spends time talking about a challenging health condition that made me think of the Project Echo discussions, with a few interesting differences.  Instead of a doctor presenting the case on a secure and private videoconference, the patient was presenting his understanding of his health condition in a public forum.  What sort of issues does this bring up for medical providers?

As the social media manager for a National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) recognized Level 3 Patient Centered Medical Home, who had just spoken to our patient education committee about social media, this particularly caught my attention.  Issue that had been discussed at the patient education committee included the concern about how rarely patients read the literature that their doctors provide them, and how often they read misinformation online.

Now, there is the possibility of misinformation being shared on Joel’s wall, but it appears as if there are a lot of people looking seriously at the information who may offer corrections if necessary.  What is particularly noteworthy is that Joel has taken initiative to get information online and discuss it with his doctors.  He has placed himself at the center of his care and hopefully, he will find ways of accessing the sort of expertise that is shared as part of Project Echo via social media.  Hopefully, the medical team addressing his issues will work together the way our providers work as part of a Patient Centered Medical Home.

The bigger question is how can we take technology that we provide, like our electronic medical records and our patient portal and securely integrate it with social media in a way that protects patients’ privacy while at the same time giving them more options to connect with our experts and the experts we work with via telemedicine?  That’s just one of the exciting challenges we’re working on.

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