With the continuous rise of new information and communication technology, it is ever more vital that the healthcare sector remain up to speed with the various forms of communication channels, to both inform and engage the public.
From my time gaining experience in the NHS, it is clear to see that some are developing its use of different mediums to engage both locally and nationally. I have gained experience of this in the ‘Involvement’ programme.
This piece of work is being delivered by Midlands and Lancashire CSU, which forms part of the Patient and Public Participation (PPP) programme, commissioned by NHS England. ‘Involvement’ is an online tool enabling healthcare professionals and the public alike to network and share good practice of engagement and public participation, including the use of an online forum.
On the whole, I believe there is further scope for improvement by more healthcare organisations to inform and engage with the public using some of these channels. Social media is a fantastic way to engage a conversation with the public, as it offers people an instant voice which may not have been heard before. The informality and casual attitude that the medium offers, can help the organisation or Trust be more approachable and accessible to the public. ‘Involvement’ is a refreshing innovative programme, which has been designed as an attempt to render some of this by offering a platform to begin online engagement with local communities. But, perhaps more can be done on mainstream social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, sites of which many people will already be familiar with, have access to and be an active user of? And, not forgetting that good engagement should not just be limited to online mediums, but also include a physical presence within the community.
To summarise, it is clear that parts of our healthcare system is effectively attempting to act on the growth of interactive mediums available for communication, and is using them to engage with the public and other healthcare sector workers. However, I feel there are still other potential leads and avenues to be explored to ensure organisations are using digital engagement more consistently.