Online Messaging Can Improve Support Group Relationships

October 1, 2014
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Support groups bring together people with common challenges, such as Parkinson’s Disease, weight loss and rare disorders and an infinite variety of other issues. A weekly meeting may not be enough to get the information you need or share a revelation.

Support groups bring together people with common challenges, such as Parkinson’s Disease, weight loss and rare disorders and an infinite variety of other issues. A weekly meeting may not be enough to get the information you need or share a revelation.

You know that feeling of discovery or triumph – we all do.  We want to share, and why wait until the next support group meeting next Monday night? You got up this morning and figured out how to stay on track to the next stage of your rehabilitation. Or you just need to talk with other people who are in the same boat.

But it’s not exactly a topic for Facebook chat.

online messagingPrivate messaging and sharing with facilitators and support groups can help improve the team communications and achieve better education and  compliance. Using online services and smartphone apps for private messaging and sharing like PathcareWhisper, and CoverMe (an iPhone app for private Texting & Secure Phone Calls), it’s never been easier to conduct a private, ad-free conversation with members of your support group.

In medicine – physicians are discovering the virtues of online private messaging and sharing to improve their effectiveness, reduce stress, and improve their patients’ health and customer retention numbers. So – if physicians (who are arguably smart people, but heavily regulated), who are conservative in making tech decisions, use messaging with patients, why shouldn’t our support group use private messaging?

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After all we want to enable our support group to be fully present in each interaction with goodness and compassion.

We also want this to be easy and cheap.

Facebook private groups look like a cool option but you don’t want support group members getting lost in the noisy distracting online crowd of social media.

Question and answer time:

Tough question # 1 – are you too busy to care?

I can’t help you with that one, that’s your call.

I can help you with tough question # 2 – how much will it cost?

A support leader has a business to run and ease of use and return on investment (ROI) are important considerations when you’re about to  invest time and money in a new online gadget. You are sold on the idea of mindful sharing with your patients but you are a busy person and you want to be sure that there is a business case for mindful sharing online.

So the answer is yes.  It turns out that mindful sharing is not only good for people – it’s also good for business.

(Read here about the 8 step process  towards building a business case for using online messaging and sharing with in a professional support group practice).

People who use a secure online service to communicate with their providers and complete online service transactions are nearly three times as likely to stay with their providers than those who are do not, the Danish health care news service The Lund Report found.

In Denmark, 80 percent of communication between physician and patient is online.

Will I get flooded by tons of messages?

Dr. Ted Epperly highly recommends the efficacy of doctor-patient communication via email. He says that in 32 years as a family physician, he’s seen this medium abused less than four times. Its use has led to expedited care and fewer hospital visits. Patients as a whole are well aware that they are taking up a doctor’s time and most use their communication privilege sparingly, with respect for their physician’s tight schedule.

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Dr. Howard Luks, an orthopedic surgeon, agrees with Dr. Epperly about the value of digital doctor-patient communications, and recommends that doctors put aside their fears of being inundated by patients as a result of opening up such fast, informal communication channels.

online messaging / shutterstock