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How health-care providers are using social media to build connections with patients

A recent Palo Alto Weekly story highlights the multitude of ways Stanford Hospital & Clinics and other local health-care providers use social media tools to raise awareness about health issues and build personal connections with patients. The comments from patients on why they value interacting with hospitals and physicians on sites such as Facebook and Twitter are particularly interesting:

"I like how I can contact the hospital through Facebook... makes them a bit more 'human,'" said Brenda Bonturi-Klassen, who has been a patient at Stanford's cardiovascular clinic.

A heart-attack survivor, Bonturi-Klassen found herself drawn last month to a collection of photos on the hospital's Facebook page. EKG technicians and other employees were pictured in red for Wear Red Day, a campaign to raise awareness of heart disease in women. Bonturi-Klassen clicked the "Like" button and posted a comment thanking the doctors who have treated her.

There's also another reason why Bonturi-Klassen enjoys connecting with Stanford through Facebook. She lives in a remote area, a 45-minute drive east of Hollister. In the winter, the phones often go out, but the Internet keeps working, thanks to satellite service.

"It's so far away that I just feel like it's a little bit closer (with social media)," she said. "I just like the fact that I can have some sort of contact whenever I want."

Previously: Physician urges colleagues to think twice before they tweet and How to respond to patient contact on Twitter: A physician's advice

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