Patient blogs are a way for patients to communicate to their friends and family and journaling can help them get through what may be a difficult experience. It can also benefit the hospital by offering self-generating patient stories that potential new patients can be directed towards.
From the Fetal Treatment Center‘s website statistics, I know that we already have fetal treatment patients that blog about their experiences using various free blogging resources like blogger (I know because we get links from their blogs).
Caring Bridge – pros and cons
At the NACHRI conference, I talked with some people from Caring Bridge, which is a non-profit that offers blogging services for patients. Caring Bridge is a good service, but they have one fatal flaw: all the patient’s pages are automatically locked private. They can choose to give friends and family a password to see their posts, but they can’t choose to make any of their posts public.
Personally, I’d rather see the service offer the possibility for patients to choose make some of their story public. Without this feature, there is nothing for potential patients to read. Caring Bridge has a sponsorship package so that hospitals can pay to put their logo on their patient sites, but this is useless from a marketing perspective if the pages are all locked private. Supposedly, public post functionality is on the table, but it won’t be ready this year. Frankly, the ability to set a post to private or public is a common feature to most blogging services, so it really makes no sense for me to encourage patients to use Caring Bridge—as much as I’d like to support a non-profit like them.
The problems with hosting our own
I’d like to have a nice single solution to direct patients towards. We could host our own but that would require time and effort. Also, having it hosted here creates a rather strange legal situation. As the patient tells their story, they are also potentially letting out patient data. On any other blogging site this is fine, but if it is under our banner it creates a weird legal gray area in regards to HIPAA Compliance.
I will have to do some additional research to see if what the best solution is: a single interconnected solution that is easy for patients would be ideal. If anyone out there has any ideas let me know.