Local Hospital Seeks to Improve Patient Satisfaction with Online Journals

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice
Just this week Glens Falls Hospital announced that it will use CaringBridge.org's services to offer their patients online journals to record their experience with the hospital. In fact, more than a dozen hospitals already in New York provide this service to their patients. The goal is to increase patient satisfaction while providing friends and family a convenient location to find updates on the patient's recovery through the internet.

CaringBridge.org is a free service that a patient can create a personal journal and upload photos, exchange messages, and constantly update their page without the hospital's assistance. Patients can also password protect or limit their personal journal to enhance patient privacy. CaringBridge.org purports that their service can improve a hospital's patient satisfaction scores and decrease staff time in coordinating communication with the patient's family and friends, without costing the hospital any money. But does this actually improve patient satisfaction?

Well according to a study by CaringBridge.org, ninety-one percent of the patients using their service did say that it made their health care experience easier. An even higher number, ninety-three percent, rated the quality of care from the healthcare facility were as "Very Good" or "Excellent." With more than 278,000 personal journals registered--creating website traffic of half a million hits every day--the statistics provided by CaringBridge.org is truly impressive.

Following suit, there are other similar websites like CarePages.com and Inspire.com which provide similar services. For example, Inspire.com allows for members to find each other with similar conditions to talk and support each other during their recovery.

While these websites serve laudable functions, are they really as good as they say that they are? Don't websites like this tailor themselves towards patients who are ill, but still able to function well know to post online, upload pictures, and communicate with family and friends through the internet? Aren't these patients more likely to be easily healed, and more likely to say their health care was very good? So are these websites really helping increase patient satisfaction because the health care is better, or because patients now had an easier tool to communicate with friends and family?

We want to hear from you! Have you used a patient journal? What are your experiences?
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