GreyMatters 2018

Using Drones in Healthcare Settings

droneIf changes are made this year to FAA regulations regarding GPS-guided drones, the use of these aerial vehicles in various healthcare applications may rapidly increase.

Under current FAA regulations, GPS-guided drones are not allowed to fly beyond the eyesight of the operator. While occasional exceptions have been made for healthcare uses, the existing policy severely limits drone use. The FAA is said to be developing a new policy for medical drones in the near future.

In the meantime, various healthcare innovators are looking into uses for drones and testing them for those uses. Imagine not having to depend on motor vehicles driving through traffic to deliver items such as medications, blood products and lab samples – drones can fly right over traffic congestion.

Some real-life examples of drone use in US healthcare settings include:

  • HiRO (Health Integrated Rescue Operations). The HiRO drone is intended for first-responder use in emergency situations. The drone was developed by students at Hinds Community College and Willam Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Mississippi. It was inspired by the devastation from a tornado in 2013 where debris prevented emergency vehicles from getting to where they were needed. The HiRO unit contains:
    • A medical kit with supplies to treat up to 100 people
    • An AV connection and a pair of smartglasses which allow bystanders and first responders to connect with a doctor remotely.
  • Flirtey, Part I. There are many remote areas in the US that are some distance from healthcare facilities and can quickly become inaccessible due to extreme weather and other situations. A collaboration between Flirtey (an Australian drone delivery service), Remote Area Medical (an international non-profit organization), NASA and the Health Wagon (a mobile health program that serves remote areas of southwest Virginia) used drones to transport medications from an airport to the location of a health fair being held for area residents a mile away from the airport.
  • Flirtey, Part II. In a demonstration involving Flirtey, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Field Innovation Team (a non-profit that works to create disaster solutions), drones laden with medical supplies were flown from a supply ship off the coast of New Jersey to a medical camp at Cape May then back to the ship.

In other parts of the world, drones have been used to:

  • Deliver automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to the location of a 911 caller in Sweden.
  • Deliver contraceptives to women in very remote villages in Africa.
  • Transport blood and stool samples from remote villages in Madagascar to a research center (also in Madagascar) for testing.
  • Supply hospitals in Rwanda with blood products.

Zipline, a California company supplying the drones used in Rwanda, is planning to launch a drone delivery service to transport blood and medications to remote areas of Nevada, Maryland and Washington. Native American reservations are also part of the plan.

There are barriers to using drones – regulatory and otherwise. For example, drones can pose a hazard to low-flying aircraft. Drone regulations will need to be written by legislators to ensure the vehicles can be used effectively but safely. But it is clear that drones have a future in healthcare delivery.

Telemedicine Visits Via Chat Rather Than Video

dr-chatMost people think of video platforms when they think of telemedicine visits with healthcare providers. But one provider has found that chat is easier and just as effective.

Kaiser Permanente Colorado was looking to reduce unnecessary ER visits by its members when they tried out a text chat platform. Even though video has become somewhat the standard for virtual doctor visits, Kaiser learned that the chat platform was easy to use and appealing to its patients.

Kaiser’s platform is called Chat With a Doctor. It is offered as an option when a patient visits the main website or goes to book an appointment. If a patient chooses the chat option, he or she is connected directly to a doctor – there is no intermediate screening. The chat service allows for photos to be uploaded but not video. The doctor assesses simple conditions and can recommend treatments or prescribe medications. If the patient’s condition needs further evaluation, the doctor will connect the patient to a staff member to schedule an in-person appointment.

At this time, 100-200 patients per day are “seen” via the chat service. About two-thirds of the visits can be dealt with completely during the chat session. Patient satisfaction with the chat platform has been high. Dr. Ari Melmed, an ER physician at Kaiser Permanente Colorado who heads the Chat With a Doctor program, says the high levels of patient satisfaction stem from being connected directly to a doctor. He says, "[Patients are] just not used to having instant access to a physician. It’s just unprecedented in most people’s healthcare experience. Our satisfaction is through the roof.”

Facebook Change to Affect Page Organic Reach

facebook-organic-reachAnother month, another Facebook change. Last month, the social platform announced a change to its News Feed algorithm that will supposedly favor individual users’ posts over those of Pages. Now Facebook reports a change in how organic Page reach will be counted.

In mid-February, Facebook began measuring organic reach by counting impressions only after a Page post appears on a person’s screen. Ad reach was already being counted in this manner. With the change, Page managers can expect to see their organic reach drop somewhat. However, to help with the transition, two versions of organic reach will be reported for a time: one using the old counting method and one using the new method.

You will see another change in the Facebook mobile app: the Page Insights tool has been updated so that the most-used measurements will appear toward the top of the screen. This will enable Page managers to access that information more quickly.

Sponsored Article: How to Prove That Your Social Media Really Works

coffey-social-mediaNote: This sponsored article was written by Jean Dion, who is the Marketing Communications Manager at Coffey Communications. Coffey offers both print and digital solutions for healthcare organizations—including a new social media publishing tool.

Social media has become a vital part of the healthcare marketing toolkit. We use it to connect with the community, share good news and boost awareness.

But how do you measure the impact of your social media work? Some healthcare marketing teams struggle to answer this question.

Search for your key metrics

In the 2017 State of Digital Healthcare Marketing report, 5 percent of respondents said they didn’t measure digital return on investment (ROI) at all. And about 9 percent of respondents said they weren’t sure if they measure ROI or not.

Other respondents said they measure ROI by tracking likes, shares and comments. To them, engagement on the social channel seemed like a good way to prove that the work moved the needle.

Unfortunately, most CEOs and CIOs aren’t moved by discussions involving likes and shares. They want to tie your work to revenue. And that means the way you measure your work must change.

How can you do this? By ensuring that your calls to action (CTAs) are connected to an action you can measure.

Tell your readers what you want

Here are three great CTA options that all tie back to metrics you can track.

  • “Register for this class.” Don’t squander the opportunities inherent in a health awareness post. Tie those posts back to classes you’re holding on the same topic. For example, do you have a new post about heart disease ready to publish? Make sure you include a link to the calendar listing for your heart disease awareness class.
  • “Call this specific number.” Your call center may do an excellent job of tracking calls, but you can make measurement easier and more accurate with trackable phone numbers. The reports you’ll get will show you just how many people called and how long they stayed on the phone.
  • “Fill out this form.” Custom forms help you collect specific information from your readers. And each form completion proves that you’ve done a great job of engagement. Use forms to collect feedback, share a story, make an appointment request, or ask for more information.

Take your data to the next level

Put these CTA tactics into play and you’ll have a wealth of data. Ready to really impress your boss? Find a way to tie that data to revenue.

For example, find out how much revenue is generated by a procedure you’ve promoted with a trackable phone number. Then multiply that revenue by the number of calls your post prompted. Put that number in your reports and you’re certain to get attention.

And if a post falls flat, don’t despair. Compare the tactics you used for an underperforming post to those used for posts that generated more traffic. Did you employ a different approach? You just might find a secret formula your audience really responds to, and you can build on that success in later posts.

You can do it!


Mayo Clinic Social Media Series Focuses on Patient Stories

patient-storyPatient and caregiver stories are useful to help other patients, caregivers and providers understand the experiences a patient goes through during a healthcare episode. With its “Experts by Experience” social media series, the Mayo Clinic has upped the stakes for patient stories significantly.

Experts by Experience is a collaboration between Mayo Clinic Social Media Network and the Inspire health care social network. Stories written by patients and/or their caregivers who are members of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network or Inspire are shared in the monthly series.

Experts by Experience serves many purposes:

  • It allows patients and caregivers a platform to share their experiences – good and bad – and be heard.
  • It provides education and guidance for providers and healthcare communicators about what patients go through on their healthcare journeys.
  • It gives insight into a particular condition for those who do not have the condition.
  • It provides an opportunity for quality improvement by providers.

There will be an even balance between stories from Mayo patients and patients from other providers via

Does your organization use patient stories? 


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