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.

1 comment on “How NHS organisations should use social media”

  1. We’ve had lots of enquiries about whether or not we’d be doing a follow up to our original report and our team of researchers have been beavering away.

    We already know from our new research that – just as we predicted – social media is moving into the mainstream.

    Our research – when it is published later this year will show

    1. The proportion of NHS organisations not using any social media has plummeted from around 20% to just over 5%

    2. The greatest growth has been in organisations using Twitter and nothing else – which seems logical for those just beginning to dip their toe in the water

    Given the virtual disappearance of NHS organisations not using any social media, the title of our new Report will be “Beyond the Brink – the second annual analysis of NHS Social Media”.

    However, we also want to get some updated intelligence from the NHS frontline on how people’s use of social media is developing. So I’d like to extend an invite to everyone on The Edge and at the School of Health and Care Radicals to take part in our new analysis of NHS Social Media trends and challenges.

    The survey only takes around 10-15 mins to complete. Why not sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy while you give us your insights?

    It can be accessed at

    Your contribution is invaluable and, if you choose, we will give you a named credit in the published Report, as part of its research community underpinning its findings.

    You’ll also qualify for a free copy of the new Report when it’s published.

    BTW – the original December 2014 Report can still be downloaded from

    Hope this is of interest….


    Joe McCrea

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