“NEED HELP NOW!! Grandma w/ RUPTURED AORTA needs Card Surgeon/OR ASAP, STAT! Can you accept Life Flight NOW!!?” This is a tweet from Matthew Browning, who needed emergency medical care for an ailing grandmother. Rather than calling 911, he turned to Twitter. In minutes, he had a reply from Emory Health Care telling him to have the grandmother’s doctor call their transfer service for “immediate care.” They provided a direct telephone number and kept in touch all day. The elderly woman was in a hospital and needed an urgent transfer, which was arranged via Twitter with the help of an on-top-of-it staff and an alert grandson.
What is remarkable about this story is that the woman in need lived in rural south Georgia. The hospital she was in was not equipped to deal with her emergency and other area hospitals could not handle her complex needs. Her granddaughter’s husband, who was hundreds of miles away, was able to arrange a life flight transfer to Emory Health Care, which could accommodate her.
For those who think Twitter is simply a forum for celebrities to spout off their latest comings and goings or is merely a repository for the inane, this story brings a new side of Twitter into the limelight. Emory’s Web and Social Media Specialist, Morgan Griffith, received the tweet from Matthew Browning and worked with him all day to resolve the emergency and accept the transfer.
“There has existed an inherent conflict between health care and social media for quite some time. Health care is innately private, secure, and confidential, and that makes people worry when coupled with such a fast, open, and uncensored dialogue as the one taking place in the social media space. On that incredible Monday, we got a glimpse of the potential these two realms have to be an extremely useful, successful, and potentially life-saving duo. It was a truly moving and powerful experience to be a part of.”
Social media is now. It is constantly changing and updating, and this is exactly why it can be such a valuable tool when minutes matter.