Many people have had experience of Facebook for personal use, or know of people who have used it, and feel that it is inappropriate for serious work. Certainly, many personal pages seem to contain largely trivial, often emotional material about pets, eating out, and pouting photos.

Using Facebook for serious health purposes is an extremely effective way of communicating with people who often ignore other forms of communication, or people with whom health professionals fail to engage as well as they would like. So if you are sceptical, just have a look at some of the following examples of how Facebook is being used, and think whether your current practice is as inclusive and engaging as it could be.

Facebook is being used to advertise practices, give opening times, services offered, which is done either as notices or sometimes as videos. A great example of this is Furlong Medical Practice in Tunstall – you can view a video of this below.

Having set up the page, there are a number of options which can make your page interesting to readers. You may want to post notices about ‘Flu vaccinations, advice for hot weather, Ramadan, or smear tests. Some animations have been used to inform patients about services, such as the North Staffordshire Bowel Cancer Screening Programme animation (found below), telling patients about alternatives to seeing the GP or going to A&E.

Below are a selection of videos showing how clinicians are using Facebook to engage with patients and get important messages across to people using a channel that is easy to access.

Facebook can be used by Patient Participation Groups, either to advertise events, or to actually have a ‘closed’ virtual group, in parallel to the existing PPG, but accessed by a different age /occupational group in the practice from the predominantly retired population who often attend the daytime meetings. Some example videos who how it is being done.

The demographics of Facebook users are interesting, with increasing numbers of over-65 year olds regularly using the site for personal reasons. This is a medium which people of all age groups feel comfortable with, and if health professionals ignore this trend, they will communicate with their population less effectively.

Breast Screening

10:20 12.06.2018

This video shows how Facebook has been used as a tool to share the message of breast screening, through accessing existing online communities and hard to reach groups!

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