I was delighted to see that as part of this year’s Social Media Week, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) played host to a live #nhssm event. This was entitled “Talking with patients online: what are the boundaries?” and it featured some great speakers from the intersection between digital and new media and modern Nursing practice. It was accompanied by an article in the Guardian promoting the event.
“Nhssm” is a weekly Tweetchat that discusses the challenges and opportunities posed by using Social Media within the NHS. There is an accompanying blog, which hosts summaries of the weekly chats, and there are regular contributors to the body of knowledge in this area- if you would like to know more, simply search for the #nhssm hashtag on Twitter to see the most recent Tweets.
This is one of the earliest communities of practice that I joined on Twitter, and it has been a fantastic experience to connect with people who share my dedication to examining the issues presented by increasing use of digital and social media within the NHS. I have regularly contributed to the weekly chats for a few years, I’m one of the “old guard” of the group now- a strange thing to be saying in relation to the use of social media within the NHS!
My thoughts about this event:
- The event was “live-Tweeted” through both the @nmcevents and @nhssm accounts- this means that both accounts were used to capture and publish snippets of what was said during the chat. The advantage of this was that it meant important statements were more likely to be picked up and amplified. Because the team members who were behind the accounts were experienced in this use of social media, they functioned as true engagement tools, rather than simply broadcasting the event. Our regular weekly #nhssm Tweetchat was scheduled during the event, and so our contributors who were unable to make it in person to the event were able to engage with the format by asking and answering questions, and by offering informed opinions. Alex of nhssm blogged about his impressions of the event, and also feels that using two accounts to live Tweet the event worked particularly well.
- Using digital as part of our NHS communications toolbox is new in itself- using social media as part of the toolbox of clinical staff within the NHS is newer still. Formal policies and procedures are available, but in this emerging field, we are still sketching out the agreed boundaries of practice. I disagreed with Anne Marie (@amcunningham) during the chat as I felt that conventions do exist within these spaces. On reflection, I think that I must be careful not to assume that just because I am aware of subtle differences in culture between platforms that other people, particularly newer people to this space, are as aware as I am. So, I concede your point, Anne Marie!
- We have no agreed method for disseminating examples of best practice in the use of social media by clinical staff. Although communities will develop their own norms of behaviour, it is my experience that staff need to have a mentor, coach, or social media “surgeon” available to assist them in their understanding of how to use these tools. This can presently be frequently found informally within communities of practice online. It is my hope that more NHS Trusts and professional organisations will begin to see the value in having formal training and e-learning opportunities for their staff available as part of their professional development planning. I believe that formalising this process will add value to the use of these tools by staff, and enable outcomes in engagement and participation of client groups to be generated.
- I believe that social media communication channels should be offered to patients and carers of people needing NHS services. I believe that we have a responsibility to make information flow in the way that is most convenient for the patient, whilst recognising our special responsibilities for Information Governance and professional practice. I love Agency Nurse’s blogged reflections of how she aims to use her clinical skills in forming good quality therapeutic relationships through the newer media that we use- and I couldn’t agree more! Part of the issue is that many of our clinical leaders and people within the upper reaches of NHS heirarchy are not fluent with the use of these tools. They may, therefore, not see the benefit that others (perhaps particularly the networked generation) take for granted every day, whether patients or staff.
Here’s the transcript of the event. By looking at he analytics regarding the event, we can see that we had 97 participants in the conversation (surely some kind of #nhssm record?) and a total of 627 Tweets within the timeframe of the event plus an hour each way. This shows just how active and engaged the audience were. The most popular links shared were:
- The Agency Nurse fantastic blog- “Getting Nurses Talking” which contained a very useful Guide to Twitter, applicable to many HCPs, not just nurses, I’m sure!
- Agency Nurse coming up trumps (again!) with a great presentation showing how nurses can create a community of practice online by curating Tweets under the #nurseuk banner
- The weekly #Nurchat Tweetchat and accompanying blog. Another great event hosted by Agency Nurse. This discusses relevant content that changes each week. It is on Tuesdays at 8pm on Twitter.
- Link to the NMC presence on Social Media, with further link to their guidance on social media use for nurses and midwives.
Once more, I feel encouraged and supported on my own journey into social media by this fantastic community built around the use of a social network. I hope that you join in with our next chat, too.
If you would like to talk to me about how I can help your organisation deliver training and coaching around the use of these tools by your clinical or corporate support staff, do get in touch by email to tech4health (at) gmail.com or by leaving a comment.
Great to see further write up here in the guardian by @PamNelmes007 http://www.guardian.co.uk/healthcare-network/2012/feb/16/social-media-nurses-communicate-public?newsfeed=true