Wednesday, 16 May 2012

#hcsm review- the global edition

For this week’s edition of #hcsm review I asked for posts from around the world to show us how social media is being use in healthcare, and in relation to health more generally. I received a wonderful selection of posts from all over the world.

UK love Let’s start in the United Kingdom. As I write this the #nhssm discussion is going on. This was started in 2010 by Alex Talbott and a few others and is about how social media might be (and is being used) in relation to NHS services.Here on Alex's own blog he discusses some of the practical lessons being learnt by those using social media in healthcare organisation. And from a different angle, in this storify he describes the concerned response on Twitter of several doctors to the launch of a government campaign to increase awareness that an unexplained cough may be a symptom of lung cancer. Another GP, Martin Brunet, has used his practice blog to explain the background of the campaign to patients and that 'common sense' is needed when interpreting symptoms. If you are launching a public campaign have a good read at these posts.

How else is social media being used in the UK? Vanguard Health are trying to encourage us to look at the systems in healthcare. Here Mark Cannon blogs about what he has got out of the use of social media over the past year, although he ends with the reminder that nothing trumps face-to-face relationships. Thinking more broadly than just healthcare, here @ermintrude2, a social worker who blogs under a pseudonymn, explains why she thinks social care also needs social media, and vice versa. Mental health nurse turned manager, Sarah Amani, tells how she started using social media because her professor in an MSc in health care mangement told her it was the best way to stay up to date with research in the field. She describes some of the many benefits blogging and tweeting have had for her.

Let's look at a few posts by Dr. Mark Newbold, a medically qualified doctor, who is now Chief Executive of one of the largest NHS trusts in England. Here on his personal blog he gives 10 reasons why healthcare CEOs should use Twitter. You will be interested in what happened when his trust decided to have a Twitter Open Day. Who do you think would engage with a chief executive if he said he would reply to all and sundry? The expectation was that the interaction would mainly be from those using the service, but it wasn't. Instead most tweets came from staff, and this has lead to changes which can be implemented quickly. Who do you think would respond if you ran an activity like this?

But what about the voices of those using the services? Victoria Betton is doing a PhD on the use of social media in mental health services. She has just posted an interview with Mark Brown, a mental health campaigner, in 3 posts on her blog. Read all of them, but if you only have time for one read this: Is the NHS rubbish with social media? If you are fed-up of the rhetoric about the use of social media in healthcare then read this now. Do!

But if you only have time to read one blog post from this entire review then read this post about patient and disability activist, Sue Marsh. At the time of writing this post has 63 comments. It describes an incident that took place last weekend and was watched by thousands on Twitter. After surgery Sue discovered she had been given analgesia which she was allergic too. She tweeted about her distress and this resulted in the columnist for a national newspaper, the Daily Mail, contacting the hospital and asking for a senior nurse to review her case immediately. This happened. Last weekend, the Guardian newspaper, suggested you should complain on Twitter for an instant response from companies. This blog post describes how patients may also use social media to get help when they are in acute distress within a hospital. This may be something you have not considered before which is why you should read this post.

USA Flag
Of course, we can't leave out the United States, the more usual home of the #hcsm review. Here is a lovely post by patient turned healthcare advocate, AfternoonNapper, describing what you might get out of becoming an activist: much more than you put in. I think the patient activists I have linked to above would probably agree.
Also from the US, lawyer and HSCM review co-founder. David Harlow, casts his critical eye over the decision by Facebook to start tracking organ donor status. I have to say that I too was slightly cynical when I read about this. David suggests that monetization as much as medicine might lie behind the decision, but he would like to see Facebook throwing their weight behind a presumed consent law.
Australia's Flag Looking Like Canvas
And now two posts from the other side of the world, Australia. First up, Mike Cadogan, an emergency physician, updates the 2009 analysis to show social media is being used by hospitals in Australia. This is an incredibly detailed post linking to the YouTube, Facebook and Twitter presence of all hospitals there. But Mike is disappointed. Private hospitals are about 10 times as likely to have a social media presence as public hospitals. A bigger question is does this matter? Tim Senior, a GP with a special interest in Aboriginal health and medical education (who I first met through his citeulike presence) reminds us that the digital divide is a reality when he writes asking us to "look in the rear view mirror occasionally". The people who get left behind because they can't or don't access social media, might be those who need healthcare more than any other group.

For a truly global perspective catch this post by Christopher Purdy about the use of social media around the world to promote sexual health.  Here he describes initiatives in Mozambique, Ethiopia, Brazil and Indonesia amongst others.
Closer to (my) home is the upcoming Doctors 2.0 conference in Paris later this year. Joan Justice, HCSMreview co-founder, writes about it here, whilst organiser Denise Silber interviews a physician and marketing specialist from Italy on the future of mHealth in the EU.

Last but not least, a post from Ireland (I'm from the 1/3 of the way down the Eastern coast, just beside the Mourne mountains). Dr, Ronan Kavanagh is a rheumatologist who writes here about why he is a convert to the use of Twitter at conferences. Read and learn about his experiences at the world's biggest rheumatology meeting.

And so concludes this round-up of how social media is being used in healthcare around the world. Tune in next time!

Photo credits :
UK Love by Doug88888
USA flag by FreefotoUK
Ireland by Nasa Goddard Photo and Video
Australia's flag looking like canvas by Chrisser


  1. Great summary for this newcomer to the field. Thanks!

    1. Hello Mavis. Thank you for reading- you're very welcome. I hope you will submit to some of the future #hcsm reviews.

  2. Nice post, Anne Marie :)

    A couple more links:

    #hcsmX groups in Austria, Spain, France, India and broader geographies such as Latin America, Asia, and even Global discussed here

    Healthcare hashtag repository (disclosure: with which I am affiliated, but hey, everything is offered at zero cost anyway) Symplur offer archives, statistics and analysis of the #hcsmX communities and more here (scroll down):

    Not to confuse the issue, but... there is also a fledgling community actually called #hcsmX which is trying to turn conversation into action:!/hcsmX

  3. Nice post Ann Marie . I just want to share how we are using social networks with our students in Colombia (South America) . 3 posts in my Blog which its in spanish but you have a translator at and and finally

  4. Great review, AnneMarie. Thank you very much! :)

  5. Great work Anne Marie
    Fantastic run down of #hcsm from a global point of view
    Very interesting to see so many great pieces of writing...and find some new blogs to read!

  6. Great Article!
    I instigated the #ACEM2011 twitter tag at the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine's annual conference in Sydney in November last year, as no-one else at the conference (least of all the conference organisers) had thought to use social media. It resulted in a tremendous uptake by delegates, and was a fantastic way to network and communicate about the sessions, in real-time (and to share information with those who weren't fortunate enough to be able to attend). I summarised each days proceedings on my website, and tweeted these posts to followers as well to maximise conference information distribution.

    Dr Andy Buck
    Emergency Physician
    Melbourne/Darwin, Australia

    1. Andy, very interested to read of your conference experience. I spent part of last week at the Australian Veterinary Association conference and went with the intention of tweeting and blogging. To their credit the organisers advertised a hashtag about 2 days before the start of the conference (#AVA2012). I tweeted from most of the sessions I attended and the AVA made regular tweets but I was really disappointed that only about 5 other delegates tweeted. I have blogged on my site ( my impressions of the proceedings and tweeted the link through the hashtag. I have had a few responses but not much. I'm still really glad I made the effort to tweet and blog and actually intend to write a post about the experience in a week or two, allowing a bit of time to see if any/how much follow up develops.

  7. Thanks for this post, Anne Marie...really useful for me as I talk to HPs about social media at two conferences in Ozzie later this week. Sarah

  8. Very interesting Anne Marie. There's obviously a niche for advising hospitals on social media use. Being from Oz I looked at the Australian analysis and then at a link to a hospital near my home that has a social media presence. I noticed that there are no links to their social media sites on the website landing page, which I see as an oversight.


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