Posts Tagged ‘community’

Emory Healthcare Ranks Nationally for Quality and Safety Excellence

UHC Quality Leadership Winner 2014University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC), a national organization comprised of most of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, has ranked Emory University Hospital (which includes Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital) eighth in the nation in the 2014 UHC Quality Leadership Awards. This is the fourth consecutive year that Emory University Hospital has ranked in the top 10 for demonstrating superior performance in delivering high-quality care and safety excellence.

Emory University Hospital Midtown, which is Emory Healthcare’s second academic and eligible hospital, ranked in the top quartile as 22nd nationally.

The Quality Leadership Award honors top performers in UHC’s Quality and Accountability Study, which ranks performance in the areas of: mortality, effectiveness, safety, equity, patient centeredness and efficiency. These rankings are the most rigorous in health care and look at how major teaching hospitals are doing in multiple dimensions of quality and safety. They are traditionally looked upon as providing the best, most non-biased national quality measurement system available for teaching hospitals.

Since 2006, we have been on a journey to have our two academic hospitals – Emory University Hospital and Emory University Hospital Midtown – rank highly by the UHC. In 2012, we met our goal as Emory University Hospital ranked number two and Emory University Hospital Midtown ranked number six. We have made outstanding progress, and ranked 2nd and 3rd last year. “We are proud of our successes, as our number one priority at Emory Healthcare is to provide safe, high-quality care for our patients,” said John Fox, president and CEO of Emory Healthcare.

A top ranking by UHC means more than just great care. Since UHC ranks only academic medical centers that typically treat America’s sickest, most complex patient cases, and a disproportionate number of patients who are uninsured, underinsured or indigent, ranking highly on the list of the 101 participants reflects the ultimate assessment of organizational performance in setting the standard in quality and safety.

Join Us for the 4th Annual Johns Creek Community Health Festival & 5K Scrub Run!

Johns Creek Community Health Festival & 5KOn Saturday, May 4, Emory Johns Creek Hospital (EJCH) will host its 4th Annual Community Health Festival and 5K Scrub Run/Walk. This year, we are also excited to offer electronics recycling and document shredding as well. All are invited to attend. We look forward to seeing you there!

Emory Johns Creek Hospital
6325 Hospital Parkway
Johns Creek, GA
Parking is FREE. Designated lots surrounding the hospital will be open for parking.

The run starts and finishes on the EJCH campus and is open to participants of all abilities. All proceeds will benefit the Chattahoochee High School Cross Country Teams as well as the Emory Johns Creek Hospital Foundation, which will provide an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) device for a local school, yet to be revealed.

Admission to the Health Festival is FREE! Activities include:

  • Free Health Screenings – cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, bone density, body mass index (BMI) calculations, and more!
  • Meet Our Physicians
  • Health & Wellness Education
  • Kidz Zone
  • Johns Creek Fire & Police Departments
  • Electronics recycling and document shredding (provided by Reworx; Hours of recycling event: 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)

For more information about the 4th Annual Community Health Festival and 5K Scrub Run/Walk, please call 678-474-8200. Thank you!

Summertime Emergency? Come to the Emory Johns Creek Emergency Department!

Emory Johns Creek HospitalSummer’s here, and along with barbecues, baseball, and pool parties come the inevitable bites, bumps, and scrapes. In most cases, summertime ailments don’t require much more than a bag of ice and a Band-Aid. But if you do need emergency help, the Emory Johns Creek Hospital Emergency Department is here for you—with some of the best doctors, highest patient satisfaction scores, and shortest wait times in the area.

Arthur Griffiths, M.D., F.A.C.E.P., Senior Emergency Physician and Emergency Department Physician Community Liaison at Emory Johns Creek Hospital, says the cases he sees this time of year run the gamut from sports injuries to spider bites to heatstroke. Not sure how to tell when an injury merits a visit to the ER? When in doubt, make the trip. Have a bad cut? A lot of people don’t realize you have six hours to sew a laceration. If you sleep on it, it’s too late. Bitten by an insect? If you find yourself having difficulty breathing or developing a fever, or the bite is getting bigger quickly or starting to open up, let us take a look. Inhaler not helping your asthma? We can help.

“It’s always safer to come in if there’s a concern,” says Dr. Griffiths. “Come in. Let us evaluate you.”

Emory Johns Creek also offers interventional cardiology and are a certified Primary Stroke Center. During the summer, says Dr. Griffiths, “our patients are overexerting themselves, doing things they haven’t done in a while.” With heart attacks and strokes, fast intervention is key. If you have chest pain, weakness in an extremity, or numbness, come in immediately for quick evaluation and treatment.

“We are your community emergency department,” says Dr. Griffiths. “We provide a quiet, compassionate, caring environment with the highest in quality of care.”

To learn more, visit Emory Johns Creek Hospital, online.

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Expanding Access to Top-Notch Health Care in Georgia Communities

Emory Healthcare Atlanta GeorgiaEvery day inside and outside of Emory facility walls our staff and care team members make it their priority to live our mission to serve humanity by improving health. That mission is carried out in obvious ways through the direct partnership between our patients and care team, but also in less obvious ways, by improving our community’s access to top quality patient-centered health care.

In late 2011, we improved access to everyday health care services by partnering with the CVS MinuteClinic to provide health care at 31 locations across the metro Atlanta area without an appointment. As we brought in the New Year, we welcomed the newest member of the Emory Healthcare family, Saint Joseph’s Hospital. Partnering with Saint Joseph’s means two of Atlanta’s leading health care organizations are now working in collaboration to bring an unparalleled level of health care and access to our Atlanta and Georgia communities.

Because the health care needs of our communities are constantly growing, we’ve taken another step to broaden access to the unparalleled level of care provided to the Emory Healthcare community. We have established an agreement to enter into negotiations for Emory to manage Southern Regional Health System that will integrate the Riverdale, Georgia health care network into our own.

These talks come at quite a momentous time for the Emory Healthcare community. While we work to improve access to top-notch health care in Georgia through a partnership with Southern Regional, we also move towards a relationship that will establish the facility as a hospital partner in Emory’s Clinically Integrated Network serving the Southern Crescent area.

The partnership between Southern Regional Health System and Emory Healthcare is an intuitive one, according to Southern Regional’s CEO, Jim Crissey, due to Emory Healthcare’s commitment to high quality care, its strong local presence, proven financial strength and solid reputation in the community.
“Our board is confident that Emory’s mission aligns closely with our own and our shared values will help us to form a successful partnership,” said CEO Crissey.  “Most importantly, a partnership with Emory Healthcare will preserve access to high quality care for the communities we serve,” he said.

We will be sure to keep you updated as discussions with Southern Regional progress here on our blog. If you have comments or feedback on this blog, please leave them for us and our readers in the comments below!


New Year, New Family – Saint Joseph’s Hospital Joins the Emory Healthcare Community

Emory Healthcare Saint Joseph's Hospital partnershipAs we bring in the New Year, we’re excited about all the new things on the horizon for Emory Healthcare and the many communities with whom we collaborate to provide high quality health care. We recently, for example, announced on our blog that we have partnered with the CVS MinuteClinic to provide health care at 31 locations across the metro Atlanta area without an appointment. That was very cool news for our community. Today though, we take great joy in being able to bring in the New Year with a huge announcement, and one that our community will truly benefit from in a major way– Emory Healthcare has now joined forces with Saint Joseph’s Hospital.

What does this mean for you? It means that two of Atlanta’s leading health care organizations are now working in collaboration to bring an unparalleled level of health care and access to our Atlanta and Georgia communities.

You may have heard us say before that we believe collaboration is truly the best medicine. Whether this means collaboration between patients and families to make informed decisions about their care with their care team members, or between organizations to improve the quality and access to care provided, we all benefit from collaborative communication and action. Our partnership with Saint Joseph’s Hospital will allow us to take collaboration around Atlanta health care to the next level.

The expertise in education and academic research that serves as the backbone of the technology and level of patient- and family-centered care provided at Emory Healthcare is mirrored by the level of excellence in local community health care we’ve seen from Saint Joseph’s from the very beginning.

We are so pleased to be able to kick off the New Year by bringing such a meaningful partnership to our community. Working with Saint Joseph’s Hospital means our patients and families will have even more access to the very best patient- and family-centered health care in Atlanta being driven by the leading academic research taking place at Emory. We hope you’re as excited about this news as we are! We’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments below. And if you’re interested in learning more, check out the resources below, including a blog post from the Saint Joseph’s team on what our partnership means to them. Happy New Year, everyone!

Related Resources:

Congratulations to our 2011 Nurse of the Year Award Winners!

The March of Dimes celebrated excellence in nursing throughout Georgia on November 19 at the Hyatt Regency here in Atlanta. We’re very pleased to announce that 27 of our Emory Healthcare nurses were honored as finalists in the Georgia March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award, and at Saturday’s event, 3 of our nurses were recipients of 2011 Nurse of the Year Awards! Our nurses receiving Nurse of the Year Award Honors at the March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Awards, hosted by Grady Health System, are listed below:

  • Debra Barker received top honors in the category of Critical Care
  • Judith Wold received top honors in the category of Public Health
  • Judy Gretz received top honors in the category of Women’s Health
Susan Grant, Chief Nursing Officer, Emory Healthcare

Susan Grant, Chief Nursing Officer, Emory Healthcare

More than 450 attended this second annual event that recognized nurses who embody leadership, compassion and excellence in patient care across all specialties. With such a special group to honor, an equally as special chair for the event was needed. Emory Healthcare’s own Chief Nursing Officer, Susan Grant MS, RN, NEA, FAAN, served as the chair of the awards ceremony; “I am very proud of these outstanding nursing professionals for being recognized by the March of Dimes in this inaugural Nurse of the Year event for the state of Georgia. This is a wonderful honor for Debra, Judith and Judy, and I congratulate all of the Emory nurses who were nominated, as well as the winners in each category,” says Susan. “This recognition and event is a wonderful way to honor the important role and significant impact of nursing within the communities, hospitals and clinics across the state of Georgia. I am grateful and honored by the opportunity to serve as chair and recognize these very special nurses.”

We second Susan’s gratitude. We are extremely grateful to our team of nurses at Emory Healthcare for all that they do each and every day to support and advance truly patient-centered care. We are proud of their tireless efforts and dedication to providing the highest quality health care possible for our patient and family community.

The Nurse of the Year selection committee reviewed hundreds of applications across 16 categories ranging from Home Health and Palliative Care to NICU and Critical Care disciplines. Nearly 200 finalists emerged, all representing the March of Dimes vision for a healthier, stronger generation of babies and families.

“Nurses play an incredibly critical role in our community. They are truly the unsung medical heroes of the healthcare field and we join the world in saluting them,” says Sheila Ryan, March of Dimes State Director.

Florence Nightingale, one of the pioneers in nursing, said, “Nursing is an art; and if it is to be made an art, it requires as exclusive a devotion, as hard a preparation, as any painter’s or sculptor’s work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or cold marble, compared with having to do with the living body? […] It is one of the Fine Arts; I had almost said the finest of the Fine Arts.”

Nursing truly is an art. And it takes a very special type of person dedicate his/her life to caring for others. We thank, honor and celebrate all of our nurses for all that they do!

Full list of Emory Healthcare’s 2011 March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award Finalists:

Antonio Ash
Debra Barker
Carlene Beck
Marcia Bishop
Kelly Brewer
Paula Brookes Remedios
Carolyn Clevenger
Althea Charity Dimaculangan
Harolyn Dooley
Judy Dunn
Palactine Fleming
Erin George
Beverly Green
Judy Gretz
Vernon Griffith
Patricia Guasch
Martha Haack
Philip Joy
Cheryl Lee
Terri Marin
Gloria Myles
Ruth Simmons
Kelly Sutton
Robin Tarpley
Janice Temple
Elizabeth Thomas
Judith Lupo Wold

10 Examples where Healthy = Cheap when Dining Out

eat healthy to save money dining outAccording to the Bureau of Labor, Americans spent 2.6% more at restaurants in September of this year than last year, but at the same time, the price of food at supermarkets is up 6.2%. Dining out doesn’t have to be bad for your health or your wallet. Below you’ll find our top 10 ways you can lower cost and boost your health when eating out:

Drink Water – soda, juice and alcohol all add money and calories to the bottom line. Eating out is a great time to prioritize getting your daily fill of water (~2L for women, ~3L for men) while cutting costs. For more on why hydration is so important, check out our h2O 101 blog.

No Dessert – skipping dessert when you’re eating out has positive implications for both your waistline and your wallet. Reducing or eliminating simple sugars from your diet is a good way to lower your risk for excess weight gain, diabetes and heart disease. Furthermore, baked goods served in restaurants can contain loads of trans fats, which have a negative impact on your cholesterol and your heart.

Steamed Rice instead of Fried – when you’re eating out at an Asian restaurant, especially those that offer hibachi grilling, you often get to choose between steamed and fried rice. This is a perfect opportunity to save between $3-$5, and cut about 300 calories.

No Extras (dressing, bacon, etc.) – We all love extras. Adding bacon to a burger, or extra ranch dressing to a salad can add lots of flavor, but these extras can add dollars and lots of empty calories to your meal.

Split Big Meals – Portion size is at an all-time high in America. If you have a hankering for steak and potatoes, or are craving something that’s only offered as a big entree, split your meal! Saving half your money and half the calories every time you eat will add up quickly!

Eat More at Lunch – When you eat your largest meal of the day earlier, your body has time to process the nutrition you consume more effectively than if it were eaten a few hours before bed. When choosing when to eat out, opt for making your dining out experience a lunch time one. Lunch menu items are often drastically cheaper than the same items on the dinner menu. Do yourself a favor by eating earlier for less.

Take it Home – If there’s more food on your plate than you’re hungry for, don’t eat it all. A recent study compared the eating habits of those in France vs. Americans and found that lower obesity and heart disease rates among the French may be because they know when to stop eating. Americans rely more heavily on visual cues than their own bodies’ signals to tell them when to stop eating, a trend that may correlate with our rising obesity rates. If there’s more on your plate than you’re prepared to eat in one sitting, listen to your body and wrap it up and take it home. You’ll get more bang for your buck and will support your body’s natural circadian rhythm by not weighing it down with excess food late at night.

Get it in a Salad – Ever noticed that restaurants often offer almost the same meal as both a salad and an entree? You could opt for the grilled chicken (with potatoes, bread, fries, etc.) for $15, or the grilled chicken salad, for $10. You could opt for the buffalo shrimp po boy for $11, or the buffalo shrimp salad for $9. Either way, you’re usually getting about the same amount of protein, but when you opt for the salad, instead of filling up on heavy carbs, you support that protein with loads of vitamins and minerals, and often, save some money in the process.

Substitute – Many restaurants will let you swap out a side for no extra cost. Fruit instead of fries or grits? Salad instead of a baked potato or pasta salad? When you have the option, swap your side for a lighter and healthier one than the standard option. This is a great free way to make every meal more healthy.

Think Local – food that’s available to restaurants locally is fresher and also often cheaper, since restaurants don’t have to incur added costs for shipping. Favorite local dishes are also often cheaper, because restaurants must compete with others in the region serving up the same dish (i.e. – clam chowder in Boston, gumbo in New Orleans, etc.). Go local for increased freshness and lower prices.

Any other examples you can think of? Share them with us in the comments below!

Emory Makes UHC Quality Hospital Rankings History

Emory Hospital UHC Quality Hospital RankingsIf you frequent our health care blog, engage with us on Facebook or Twitter, or have spent any time on our website, you have probably noticed that there is a theme woven through all Emory Healthcare’s presence. That theme is our dedication to our top priority here at Emory Healthcare, which is to provide high quality health care that is truly patient-centered. Because this mission is the focus of our Emory Healthcare team, five years ago, we implemented a five-year strategic goal to hold ourselves accountable in achieving it. That goal was to rank in the top academic medical centers in UHC. To anyone who doesn’t work in health care, you may be wondering what UHC is and why the organization’s rankings matter.

UHC was formed almost 30 years ago, and is an alliance of 114 academic medical centers and 255 hospitals affiliated with those academic medical centers. As described by UHC, their vision is “to help members attain national leadership in health care by achieving excellence in quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness.” To reach this goal, UHC uses quantifiable measurements of hospital quality and hard data to determine how academic medical centers measure up in their ability to provide the highest quality patient care.

Since we challenged ourselves to set the pace for academic medical quality five years ago, every individual that makes up the Emory Healthcare team has played a role in our commitment to quality patient-centered care and has been regularly reminded by our Emory Healthcare leaders of the improvements in our quality rankings as a result of our team’s efforts.

After setting a very lofty organizational goal five years ago, we are extremely excited to announce that our team’s commitment to providing high quality patient-centered care has paid off in a big way. Not only did we reach our goal, but this year, UHC has recognized these efforts and the undeniable data that demonstrates Emory Healthcare’s commitment to quality. As of 2011, UHC ranks the quality of care provided by Emory University Hospital (including Emory University Orthopaedics and Spine Hospital) as 10th among the more than 100 academic medical centers ranked by UHC. The quality of care provided at Emory University Hospital Midtown has been equally as impressive, as it ranks 11th by the UHC. The 2011 UHC rankings mark the first time in UHC history that two facilities from the same organization have placed this highly in the rankings of hospital quality.

Just last year, Emory University Hospital and Emory University Hospital Midtown were ranked 45th and 42nd, respectively. The significance of our jump in the rankings is a true testament to the compassion, dedication and commitment of our Emory Healthcare team to truly put our patients, families and community first by devoting themselves to providing the highest quality of care. It’s also a testament to our patients, families and communities who entrust us with providing them the highest quality care each and every day. We thank our entire Emory Healthcare family and community for their critical role in helping us achieve a goal that has such a positive impact on all of us.

Site Approved for New 200+ Bed Hospital Tower in Atlanta

New Emory Hospital Tower in AtlantaIf you’ve ever taken a drive down Clifton Road, you’re familiar with our hospital and clinic facilities in the area. Ranging from Emory University Hospital, to the Emory Clinic, to the Winship Cancer Institute, or our additional clinic facilities down the street at 1525 Clifton. We’ll be adding yet another health care facility to our Clifton Road headquarters; this time, a 200+ bed hospital tower, complete with new operating rooms and emergency room.

The new Emory hospital tower will be located right across from Emory University Hospital on Clifton Road. This new development is not the only upgrades you’ll be seeing at Emory. The Emory-Children’s Pediatric Research Center (a partnership between Emory Healthcare and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta) is scheduled to be completed in April of 2013, and will be located near our other Clifton facilities, off of Haygood Drive.

The new bed tower is an important piece that will help us provide better access to our patients in our community environment. We are very excited about the ways the new hospital tower will enable us to build on our efforts to further improve the care we deliver.

These new facilities will create opportunities for improved access, patient safety and enhanced efficiency, which benefit our Emory Healthcare patients, families and the skilled members of our patient and family care teams.

We’ll keep you posted here on our blog about developments with the hospital tower and other facility enhancements being made here at Emory Healthcare.

Can Twitter Help Save Lives? A Health Care Social Media Case Study, Part II

This case study is the second of a two part series. The information below reflects the events of April 25, 2011 from a tactical standpoint, with critical regard to process and strategic considerations. Part I details the story of April 25, 2011 from a human standpoint.


The dialogue that took place on Twitter between Emory Healthcare and Matthew Browning on April 25, 2011 was a powerful one. Without time to spare, Matthew turned to Twitter in a time of crisis to help get his wife Phoebe’s grandmother transported to a hospital with capacity and capabilities to help treat her ruptured aorta. We were able to assist Matthew and his family in an emergency situation, leading to Phoebe’s grandmother being airlifted within 16 minutes of receiving contact information, a truly amazing feat. Despite this, there are countless lessons learned from the experience. While Part I of this case study explored the story and events of April 25, 2011, this portion focuses on the meaning behind and implications of that story. The whole goal here is to help people; and if that’s truly your goal with social media crisis resolution, there are steps you can take to make that a reality, knowing that there will always be scenarios and circumstances that can’t be resolved with a cookie cutter process.

What’s Covered in Part II

  • What we knew before our interaction with Matthew and how that produced the outcome that was achieved on April 25, 2011
  • Tactics and qualities we employed as part of our social media strategy
  • Steps your organization can take to define its process and strategy
  • Things we learned from our interaction with Matthew
  • Questions that remain unanswered

Health Care Social Media – What We [Thought We] Knew Then

Prior to our interaction with Matthew on April 25, 2011, we had what I would deem to be a thorough and solid process for mitigating risk and resolving issues over social media. Our process and general process recommendations are outlined below.

Social Media Process Tactics

The tactics used at each organization will differ substantially based on organizational structure. Larger, more siloed organizations will have to work harder to bring together disparate contacts in the time of crisis. Aligning these groups and stakeholders in advance is highly recommended. Below is a listing of core components of our social media strategy at Emory Healthcare prior to our engagement with Matthew Browning.

Evaluate Need for Response

When receiving feedback via social media, before jumping into any process, you must first evaluate whether there is a need for response at all. Many may already deem this item to be common sense, but in fact, it’s not. Not every contact via social media warrants a response, especially not when you’re getting hundreds of them a day. Ask yourself first:

  • Does it require a response at all?
  • Does it need an immediate response?
  • Is it likely that our network will respond on our behalf?


No work in health care or any business is done in a vacuum. Collaboration is key both within the walls of a hospital or clinic, and outside of them. At Emory Healthcare, social media is another realm in which this collaboration continues. We collaborate with direct contacts in several departments who know we rely on them to solve problems over social media. If we get a billing complaint, there’s a contact for that. If someone voices concern over an insurance issue, there is a contact for that. If at any point, we can’t get an answer from one of these contacts, we still take action by letting the individual know we are working on getting them an answer. As soon as we do, we always circle back and follow up.

Continue the Dialogue Offline

When the dialogue gets heavy or privacy becomes a concern, we try to steer the conversation to a more private location. When on Twitter, we will often Direct Message (DM) contact information for the appropriate department so the individual can work directly with them to continue the resolution process. Social media is not an end. It is a means to the end, which is an appropriate source for resolution. It is our job to make the transition from Twitter to telephone, or hospital, or clinic as seamless as possible for every individual.

Identify Common Complaints

You know your health care system better than anyone else. If your most common source of complaint relates to long wait times, or slow billing, you should have on-call contacts to help when those concerns come up. But furthermore, you should communicate those trends in feedback to departments that can directly impact their improvement. Again, Twitter is not an end; it is a piece of a very large and cyclical accountable health care puzzle.

Just like our doctors, nurses, and staff have been trained and are equipped to handle the most severe and/or high-pressure medical cases, so too have our team members behind the scenes who facilitate Emory Healthcare’s internal operational and communications processes. This means that before an emergency ever arises, we have processes in place to guide groups in a decentralized organization to a commonly understood and supported outcome.

Questions to Help Guide You in Defining Your Process

When looking to define your own process, contacts, logistics, process, stakeholders, and response times are just a few of the things to consider and outline before developing a process for handling social media feedback. Based on our experience in the past and the events of April 25, here are some questions you should consider and ask:

  • Are you listening constantly and able to act immediately?
  • Do you have contacts for every standard issue? I.e. Is there a person you can reach immediately in every department that may be required to assist you with resolution?
  • Do you keep key contact information in your line of vision and reach?
  • Have you considered every possible one-off emergency that could come your way?
  • If every necessary contact in your process disappeared, do you have a back-up plan?
  • Do you have a way to communicate to teams in your health care facilities (if decentralized) to keep them in-the-loop?
  • Do you have a method to reach other health care facilities in the region if you are unable to help?
  • Could you remove spatial barriers to appropriate teams? Are your teams strategically located to aid in social media efficiency?
  • Is there a feedback loop in place to allow you to proactively stay informed once a hand-off has been made?

Social Media Process Qualities

Every brand and every brand’s social media manager(s) deals with negative feedback. No company, product, or service is perfect, so none are immune from this. And as discussed above, in health care, the services we provide can oftentimes be life altering ones. Whether or not we’re aware of it, health care social media managers are often leaders of support groups and patient advocacy. As such, providing patients, families and community members with options for effective help and resolution via social media is key.

There are four key qualities consistent amongst every successful health care social media feedback strategy, including ours at Emory Healthcare:

1. Immediacy
2. Empathy
3. Authenticity
4. Empowerment


Feedback can come at any time. It is important that the person(s) managing health care social media presence have a constant finger on the pulse of their stream. Personally, when not in-office, I use my mobile phone to remain constantly in tune with and updated on the feedback our Emory Healthcare social media accounts receive. Without a constant listener, there can not exist the constant ability to act. And when there is a crisis or complaint, the response should be immediate.

At Emory Healthcare, when we receive negative feedback, if we don’t have an immediate solution or next step for an individual, we contact them to let them know we’re working on it. If you don’t respond immediately, you miss an opportunity to serve and demonstrate your commitment to your community. On April 25, a lack of urgency would have almost certainly resulted in an immediate loss of life.

Empathy & Authenticity

Every dialogue and situation is unique. Empathy, or at least the ability to acknowledge we don’t know each person’s unique story is so important from a health care social media standpoint. When the situation allows, we must take the time to educate ourselves on the person reaching out, and learn as much as we can about their circumstances. What makes them tick, what have they gone through recently, have they reached out before? When it doesn’t, we must be aware that unique or unexpected circumstances may exist and avoid jumping to conclusions.

When Matthew Browning reached out to us on April 25, there wasn’t time for extensive research. Because I monitor our Twitter and Facebook presence as well as the general health care social media space as close to 24/7 as a human can, I knew of Matthew and his role in the space. I did not know the details of this situation. In fact, when he reached out about who we later learned was his wife’s grandmother, we didn’t know if he was helping his own family member or the grandmother of a friend, but it didn’t matter. What did matter, was the fact that he and his loved ones were in desperate need of help.

The impact of empathy and authenticity on your strategy and process should be pervasive. Empathy and authenticity should exist from start to finish, because if in fact an authentic dialogue, focus on quality of care, and true concern for humanity exist, these qualities are innate parts of your process. Every touch point, whether via social media, in a health care facility, over the phone, or otherwise, should reflect this. If the people involved in your process cannot buy in to this, I suggest you find new people.


Assuming you have the right processes and people in place, EMPOWER THEM! Without being empowered to help people and do the right thing via social media, I and the Emory Healthcare team would have been unable to execute the processes and tactics outlined for above. The more rungs of the hierarchical ladder the person on the front lines much climb, the slower your response and the less effective it will be.

The Opportunity Cost of Fear

Operating in the health care social media space requires the right kind of process, being employed by the right kind of people, with the right kind of attitude, not to mention a lot of effort. So what justifies these things? The risks of not participating in social media far exceed those encountered via participation. From solely a reputation management perspective, health care organizations must consider that at least 59% of internet users use social media to “vent” about a customer-care experience1.

Consider a person taking a flight out of state and receiving the run around from an airline after delays and being rerouted. If this person uses social media technologies such as Twitter, chances are, their following is going to hear about the experience. Flight hassles, however, don’t usually have a lasting impact on one’s life.

Those in health care must always be cognizant of the fact that the work we do has direct and potentially lasting implications for a person’s being. Going through airline security is not as frightening as going under anesthesia before an operation. Being hassled with flight rerouting is trivial when compared to trying to juggle resources to get your loved one seen for emergency surgery. Let’s face it– health care can be scary. It’s our job to remove those fears with action. As humans, we’re much more likely to tell others about a negative experience than a positive one. Whether or not you’re listening, it’s being said, and to a lot more people than you think.

Health Care Social Media – What We Know Now

As much as we’d like to think that formal processes create solutions for every one-off scenario, they don’t. When a person’s life is on the line there isn’t time for following a flowchart or researching his/her history.

When a crisis does arise, it is mission-critical that outlined processes are well understood and can be executed seamlessly, because when in an emergency, as Matthew told us, “You can’t think. You gotta just move.” And he’s right. When a crisis presents itself, we take our training, knowledge, and contacts, and couple those with common sense and urgency, and move. No barriers. No flowcharts. No waiting. What’s most important is acting quickly and effectively in a chaotic time of need; if that means cutting out steps, that’s what has to happen.

However, from our experience on April 25, we have determined that a sub-set of our processes and list of additional phone numbers must be created for such urgent situations. As an example, when Matthew mentioned in his tweet that his grandmother needed a emergency airlift, we did not have an immediate phone number to reference for such a request.

Thankfully, the way we are structured puts us in the same organizational department and physical area as our call center staffed by Registered Nurses. When his tweet was sent, it was a literal 30 second walk down the hall to get contact information and confirm that in order to be airlifted, the transfer service phone number must be called first. (This is why when we contacted Matthew, he was given a phone number for this service rather than directly to our airlift service). This situation proved that careful consideration to  things such as departmental organization and spatial closeness can save precious and potentially life saving minutes in an emergency.

We also know with certainty that without Twitter on April 25, 2011, a family would have felt more hopeless and helpless than they already did. They would have had one less avenue through which to gain answers and options. They would have been forced to use alternate streams to get these answers; streams from which getting an answer could have taken much longer than Twitter did. All risks that I personally, and I believe Matthew Browning will agree, we can’t be willing to take. When it comes to saving lives, the motto has to be “by whatever means necessary.”

Health Care Social Media – What We Still Don’t Know

What does all of this mean for health care and social media? This story could mean that Twitter becomes a means to a life-saving end, and it could not. I and the rest of us at Emory Healthcare are not going to pretend to be the authority on the industry. Despite the success of the process, qualities, and methods we use here at Emory Healthcare, when evaluating our interaction with Matthew Browning on April 25 in hindsight, there exists much that can be improved and much that we still don’t know. Below are several unanswered questions that we hope generate a dialogue that lead to our community sculpting its own answers, rules, and ideas for what the future of health care and social media will look like.

Does Network Size & Influence Matter?

It turns, as was touched on in Part I of this case study, that Matthew Browning is well-connected in the health care and technology spaces. So much so in fact, that even prior to the events of April 25, 2011, we were already following him on Twitter from our Emory Healthcare account. His level of influence is an important consideration when evaluating this case. Matthew’s necessity for a regionally based facility for his wife’s grandmother is also an important one. Matthew resides in the Northeast, and his connections are by and large from the same area. As Matthew told me on Tuesday “I was out of my turf, but I have a great network.”

Questions we must consider regarding Matthew’s background include:

  • Did his level of influence and large network of industry peers impact his ability to get help via Twitter?
  • If so, how would those without such a network achieve similar volumes of quality and actionable assistance in the time of a health care crisis?
  • To what extent did Twitter allow Matthew to dissolve geographic and time consuming barriers to help?
  • What role did Matthew’s intrinsic knowledge gained from his background in health care play in his ability to break barriers & get help?

What does it All Mean?

As mentioned above, we are not going to pretend to be the industry authority on the future of how social media will be used in health care. While on a personal level, this story means more to me than any number of words can express, from an industry perspective, the final outcome may prove to have nothing to do with social media.

Our interaction with Matthew Browning has many potential future implications for health care’s use or lack of use of social media. Maybe it means we need to open doors that make immediate assistance a more reasonable thing to achieve. Maybe it means a discussion around privacy as it relates to saving lives emerges. Maybe it means there needs to be a long and hard look taken at improving access to regional emergency care. Maybe it means the 9-1-1 system needs an upgrade. To be honest, we don’t know what it means.

The Inherent What-Ifs

The overwhelming majority of people working in health care social media will tell you themselves, the space is filled with a lot of “what ifs”:

  • What if someone exposes their personal information to us in a public arena such as Twitter?
  • What if we aren’t careful and diligent in our response, could we further compromise that person’s privacy?
  • What if we can’t help?
  • What if we don’t respond? But most importantly, what if we do?


Author: Morgan Griffith, Interactive Marketing Manager, Emory Healthcare


Related Links:

Can Twitter Help Save Lives? A Health Care Social Media Case Study, Part I

Twitter Emory Healthcare on Twitter
Twitter Matthew Browning on Twitter