Facebook and videos prove a hit for digital patient groups

Posted on 11 March 2016 (Permalink)

Healthcare teams at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust have launched an innovative approach to supporting patients by developing videos and Facebook groups for clinicians, providing patients with long term conditions with accurate and valuable self-care information.

Part of a person-centred care project launched by the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN) across the West Midlands, the closed clinical Facebook groups now cover atrial fibrillation (AF), multiple sclerosis, asthma and cardiac rehab care.

Since the project began in February 2016, patient support for the project has been fantastic. The stroke nursing team posted a video produced by Dr Indira Natarajan on 12 February at 9pm and in just 72 hours it had been watched nearly 20,000 times and reached more than 42,000 people, receiving comments, likes and shares from patients.

Dr Natarajan said: “I couldn’t believe how popular the video was. After all, it’s just me talking to camera highlighting the stroke risk of AF. It’s quite astonishing but shows the power of social media to spread health messages.

“Getting the message out about this is really important so I am delighted this video has struck a chord with people and become popular. One of the best things to come out of the video was that an 86 year old man with AF commented on Facebook that he didn’t know his condition had to be taken so seriously.”

Jodie Williams, Clinical Nurse Specialist for the Stroke Prevention Team, said: “It’s amazing. I never imagined how popular it would be. It’s really important information and we were trying new ways of raising awareness but we never thought it would get so many views.

"We are aware that there are a lot of patient and community-based condition specific Facebook groups out there, which sometimes contain incorrect clinical information. By developing these groups ourselves with support from patients, we want to not only provide patients with a safe forum to meet other people with their condition, but also have the peace of mind that any clinical information we post is correct and supported by our team."

According to Facebook insights generated by the groups and pages, 60% of people who are engaging with the medical team via Facebook are over 55.

Dr Ruth Chambers OBE, Chair of Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group and clinical lead for long term conditions at WMAHSN, said: “This shows the power of social media to get health messages out to the public and promote self-care. The video took two minutes to make but has had a massive impact. These project follow similar work that has been taking place in Primary Care in Stoke-on-Trent for two years now and we hope to continue to develop the digital infrastructure we have created to communicate valuable self-care health information into people's homes via their social media networks."