Technology enabled care provides practices with opportunities to improve the quality of care their patients receive, as well as reducing costs and demands on their services.
In Stoke-on-Trent we believe that practices should commit to using social media as one of their modes of technology enabled care. So not only are patients in 20 or so of our 52 practices using social media now, but they are also chatting to each other about health related issues online. This may range from positive discussions about leisure and health services that are running in their area or complaints about local hospitals or GP access.
Why Facebook? So to influence the conversations they are having we can’t do that if we are sat outside looking in – our GPs and practice teams have to be part of it. Although we may be nervous about our practice having a Facebook page, the fact that any one of our patients can already comment on us online –for instance NHS Choices- that can be seen by other patients makes whether we want to use the internet or not, irrelevant. With this in mind our CCG supported practices to take the plunge with social media 18 months ago, and we have not looked back since.
We started small – just eight practices – and sought the help of an external social enterprise organisation to help us set up and build our audience. Once we were up and running, word got round other practices and more of them have joined in too. Who’s using it? Facebook has invariably become the channel of choice in the 20 or so practices that are actively participating, regardless of whether or not they use it in their private lives.
A 2014 Ofcom report noted that Facebook remains the default social networking site for almost all UK adults who are online – 96%. The figures are staggering with between 30-33 million people using Facebook in the UK. When we have delved further into our data for Stoke-on-Trent practices we found that 86% of users are female and 65% aged between 35-65 years. More patients are engaging with us on Facebook aged over 55 years than under 25 years. Any claims that Facebook is for younger people are not supported by our data. So it makes sense to use this channel to share important health messages as well as information relating to our practices.
The impact is impressive too. A video promoting the services available in one practice with a 10,000 list size, reached over 12,000 people, had 2,400 views and was shared by over 100 patients.
Facebook for wight management The idea for a Facebook weight management group came from practice nurses themselves. The purpose of the group was to enable nursing staff to provide valuable information and self help tips to patients, whilst creating online communities of likeminded patients to support each other. Messages posted to patients vary and range from exercise routines and diet advice to information on other services available. Key differences between the Facebook pages and groups we run is that every patient in the group will receive the post, whereas not every person who likes a page will get the update. So once we had agreement from patients to join the group we had a captive audience ready to receive our information.
Getting through to our patients The beauty of using social media is that it provides direct access into the homes of our patients. It isn’t without its risks, which is why we’ve managed it carefully. Practice staff have been trained and supported and we’ve developed a helpful social media toolkit for staff.
What next? Our challenge is now to double the number of practices actively using social media in Stoke-on-Trent to over 40. Then we firmly believe we’ll reach a tipping point where the remainder will want to participate in social media too and learn from the wealth of knowledge and experience amongst existing practices.
Accompagner les patients avant et après une opération, c’est l’objectif e-fitback, une application mobile développée par la start-up Nouveal située à Irigny près de Lyon. Entretien avec Alexandre Falzon, cofondateur de cette jeune entreprise innovante.
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