Using social media to #EngageWell



Rosie Kenyon | Managing Director


#EngageWell – a look at what inspiration, education and motivation can achieve for the world of healthcare.

Sixty nine per cent of patients would like their health care providers to use social media. This was one of the thought-provoking statistics which Caroline Kenyon, Director of Communications at the Innovation Agency, opened with at the #EngageWell event in Liverpool. The event brought together people from all over the country, to talk about how the use of social media can improve health care, to benefit both patients and service providers.

Top 5 engaging themes from the day:

Fear of implementation

“Fail fast, learn faster” – Antony Tiernan, Director of Communications for NHS England New Care Models spoke these recklessly wise words. There is much to be said for coming up with a strategy and then getting stuck in and learning from the experience as you go. Make everyone aware of social media best practice and policy and then encourage them to have a go. It is through experience and correcting or improving as we go, that we get to grips with the real world of social media. This includes responding to someone who has had a bad experience; we need to embrace the complaint, respond and engage honestly and meaningfully – and make the first response instantly.

“Social media is fantastic and we cannot ignore it.” (Antony Tiernan)

With growing usage across populations, it’s a place we must go to, to communicate with all interested parties – including staff. Through social media we can really listen and engage with people, and it has the potential to empower patients. This was seen in the great example from Dr Cristina Vasilica, talking about the Greater Manchester Kidney Information Network (GMKIN). This network initially brought new patients together in physical meetings, which attracted only a handful of people. A social media research project began in which patients were asked to engage via social media, particularly Twitter and a closed Facebook group which now numbers more than 300 members. The network is now run by kidney patients, with professionals providing responses when required. With a wealth of online resources and sharing of stories, there are brilliant case stories on how the platform has made a difference to people’s lives: “I think I’d be lost without it”; and I highly recommend you check it out for yourself:

“We’re actually interested in small data – the small things to clinicians, which are actually big things to patients”

This is something which James Munro said while talking about the platform, Patient Opinion. James is Chief Executive of this organisation, and he should be very proud of what it has achieved so far. The platform – – provides a safe place for people to share their healthcare experiences. The outcome has been positive; stories on Patient Opinion have been shared around 80 million times in total; 54 per cent of posts are by people saying thank you for great care and, importantly, the feedback is helping organisations to improve things which really matter to their patients.

The feedback from staff has been that it has empowered them to go ahead and make the changes. As James commented, it has helped to drive a shift towards a culture where staff own the feedback. The complaints process traditionally is more about who’s right and who’s wrong but Patient Opinion goes for a more, “well, this is how I found it”, approach. Sharing opinion and stories on a public platform can have a powerful impact on the way services are delivered; on staff; and on fellow patients.

“Go where your patients are” – Alex Talbott, Managing Partner at Super Ant

With 3.17 billion users of the Internet, it’s important to explore how you can use the many portals to connect with your audience. With 79 per cent of Internet users on Facebook, it is arguably the number one port of call when looking into how to connect with your audience. Although this is a platform that is seen to be stagnating in terms of usage, it is still the most engaged-with platform by a long way. There are of course other large social media platforms which should be researched as every audience is different. However I do think there is a tendency for people to say, “Oh Snapchat is growing super fast, should we use that?”… No, unless your audience is c.16 and you have someone very agile (and probably hilarious) at their social media marketing job to man it for you (anomalies applicable).

Time to take action

This event wasn’t just a day for discussion. Real plans to gather a network of people, interested in similar outcomes, are under way. To find out more about what’s going on, visit and follow @innovationnwc. (I can also be found on Twitter – @rosiedmkenyon!)

The event showed that engaging a combination of decision makers, communicators and frontline staff in your social media plans can lead to real improvements in health care.

Kenyons has worked with a range of brilliant clients in the healthcare industry over the past 26 years, if you would like to receive a copy of our health portfolio, let us know and we will send one to you!

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