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Staying Connected

Gary Baldwin, for HealthLeaders News, October 2, 2007

Recently, I got a hands-on lesson in using healthcare IT. My niece's husband underwent surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, for removal of a massive (10-pound) stomach tumor. Luckily, it was not cancerous. We talked on the phone just once, but I was able to stay abreast of the day-to-day developments as her husband remained hospitalized for over a week.

Why? Well, Mayo offers a service that enables patients to create their own personalized Web sites. It is done in conjunction with a company called CarePages, which I have written about in HealthLeaders magazine.

Using the service, patients create their own online presence, which is built around a pre-designed template. There is room for the patient message, letters from well-wishers, and photos. My niece updated the site nearly every day, with the Web service generating an e-mail notification every time new content was added. By the end of their stay, dozens of well-wishers had left messages.

What a great way to keep in touch with family, friends, and colleagues! I can't imagine trying to update everyone by using the telephone, so this online service facilitates communication. The company, Chicago-based TLCContact, says it has more than 550 hospitals participating in the subscription-based program.

Looks like a healthcare dot-com that figured out a sustainable business plan. Note: Later in October, I will be moderating a WebCast that examines how to create effective relationships with IT vendors. We'll cover the nuts-and-bolts from vendor selection to joint governance teams.


Gary Baldwin is technology editor of HealthLeaders magazine. He can be reached at gbaldwin@healthleadersmedia.com.