This is the first major research report on social media in the National Health Service in England, and it is most welcome. Social media is transforming how we organise health and care; how we innovate, collaborate, serve our patients, recruit/develop leaders, motivate others toward a common mission, communicate with stakeholders and show accountability.
Social media has changed my professional life. It has opened up all sorts of possibilities that I could never have imagined previously. I am part of a community of people with the same work passions as me from all over the world who provide a priceless resource and support system to each other. Through social media, I get access to updates on the latest thinking in my field as soon as they are published and have discussions and solve problems with some of the best brains on the planet. One of the most powerful aspects of social media is that it cuts across organisation barriers and hierarchies, you can connect with a voluntary advocate as easily as a chief executive as easily as a clinical team member
As the report suggests, there is a big gap between potential and actual when it comes to social media in the NHS. The good news is that many NHS organisations are using social media to communicate in a transparent way but much more can be done to create more two way communication, to use social media as a platform to realy hear what patients and collegaues have to say. The big opportunities are to:
- Collaborate on a massive scale
- Get real time feedback and make better, quicker decisions
- Create community for large scale change
- Engage with (rather than broadcast at) the people whose opinions and contribution really matter
I think that the opportunity is even greater than this report suggests. Early research from the private sector shows that those organisations building community through social media engagement are starting to get better outcomes. The same potential exists in health and care.