Sourced and picked by: @DomCushnan

Should the NHS curate rather than create?

With the rise of the internet there has been an exponential rise in the amount of information available on every topic conceivable. This clearly has its benefits but it is not all positive. With an increase in the amount of information available there is an increase in the time it takes to find relevant information, an increase in the time it takes to sift through all the articles, documents, blogs etc. to discover what is interesting and a major increase in the amount of information available that is either slightly inaccurate or worryingly false. When it comes to health related material, even slightly inaccurate information could lead to devastating effects. It is therefore important to question whether the NHS should be creating its own information to distribute to professionals and patients, or whether it should be curating the information that is already accessible.

Why does it matter?

The NHS is the leading authority on healthcare in the UK and so it is the organisation that the majority of UK residents will go to if they require health related information. The NHS therefore needs to provide information, but whether this is information it creates, or information it curates can be debated.

As the leading authority it can be argued that the NHS should be leading the way and providing its own information, created by its own professionals and not relying on data supplied by others. There has tended to be an attitude that experts create content and so if you are not creating it then you are not the leading experts in the field. However, with the rise in social media this attitude seems to have shifted somewhat and curating content is now an acceptable method of providing information, as long as it is done well.

Go further than simple content curation

Jim Burns @salesvpi and Mark Gibson @rmarkgibson have written about content curation from a sales and marketing viewpoint, however, the basic principles remain the same for organisations within health and care. Content curation is only an effective tool if it is employed well and used as an information collation tool, and not a simple alternative to content creation.

Content curation should not be seen as the ‘easy option’ and a way to get out of having to create fresh content. Many of the challenges that Burn and Gibson highlight with content can be applied to health and care. Ensuring that content is engaging, consistent and effective are top priorities. There is no point in having information available if is it not interesting or relevant. It is therefore imperative that content curators sift through all of the information available to discover the most engaging and informative material that is both relevant to the target audience and medically accurate. This is what Burns and Gibson describe as content ‘harvesting’. It goes beyond simply pulling together relevant content and distributing it. It ensures that businesses (or patients in the case of health and care) have access to the most relevant and up to date information. This is arguably what the NHS should be doing.

The amount of information available on health related topics is so vast that it is impossible for a patient to decipher fact from fiction. The NHS therefore has such a large amount of information to choose from that it can pull together the best material in order to provide comprehensive information on all health related topics. Creating its own content on a topic that has already been written about repeatedly is arguably a waste of time and effort.

Is content creation a redundant process?

Content curation is definitely the modern era method of bringing information to the masses, however, that does not mean that content creation is extinct. If everyone solely curated and never created then eventually the high quality information would simply be repeated and nothing fresh would be brought to the table.

When putting together information for patients it is therefore important to decide whether there is already enough high quality, accurate information available that could be used, or whether there is a genuine need for fresh content to be created.

Learning when to employ which method is key.