To improve knowledge of the patient experience another form of technology — Twitter — is helping clinicians track the thoughts and feelings of their patients.
As explained in a new study that appears in the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences, mining and analyzing patient tweets is very informative.
Australian researchers Johnathan Hewis analyzed 464 tweets related to MRI over the course of one month and found that patients, their friends, and family members were sharing their thoughts and feelings about all aspects of the procedure through the microblogging site.
Tweets were categorized into three themes: MRI appointment, scan experience, and diagnosis.
In the study, patients expressed anxiety about many aspects of the process, including a lot of stress over the possibility of bad news.
“The findings of this study indicate that anticipatory anxiety can manifest over an extended time period and that the focus can shift and change along the MRI journey,” explained Hewis.
“An appreciation of anxiety related to results is an important clinical consideration for MRI facilities and referrers.”
The study found that tweets encapsulated patient thoughts about many other parts of the procedure including the cost, the feelings of claustrophobia, having to keep still during the scan, and the sound the MRI machine makes.
One particularly memorable tweet about the sound read, “Ugh, having an MRI is like being inside a pissed off fax machine!”
Another discovery was the use of Twitter to share pictures.
“Fifteen patients tweeted a self-portrait photograph taken inside the changing cubicle while posing in their MRI gown/scrubs. Anecdotally, the ‘MRI gown selfie’ seemed to transcend age.”
Hewis believes social networks like Twitter offer medical practitioners the opportunity to access previously unavailable information from their patients, which can help them continuously improve the MRI experience.
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