In their short encounters with health care professionals, patients rarely get the time to share with clinicians the very real impact that illness and chronic conditions have on their lives. And yet, that narrative information is crucial to providing appropriate, empathic and compassionate care.
Clinicians, it starts with you. Are there chronic conditions you see regularly? Go on a social media platform—Twitter is a good place to start—and search the condition's key words (Ex: #CysticFibrosis, #asthma, #COPD). You’ll quickly find Twitter handles of patients living with that condition. When you look at their profiles, you’ll often see they have blogs as well. Keep track of conversations by creating lists of handles around a specific condition. To get started, spend 15 minutes before you start each clinical day by reading through tweets from that list of handles, as well as any related blogs. You’re guaranteed to learn something new—and you'll be inspired for the day ahead. As a resource for social media listening and the observation strategies to use as both a patient and a clinician, please check out the Patient Narrative Handbook.