Digital healthcare and social media

One of the rare non-Apple laptops seen in an otherwise cool park full of cool peopleWow – Facebook recently reported that they have 1.5 billon visitors per month. Twitter (who don’t ever like to brag) have around 12.5 million UK users, and LinkedIn currently report 19 million UK visitors. One sector that has been radically disrupted by all this social media use is healthcare – often it’s the first place to seek information, find out what others are chatting about via Twitter or go to one of the many health care Facebook pages. We possibly have at least one digital healthcare app on our mobiles. Love it or hate it social media is changing healthcare sector.

With such overwhelming statistics there is no surprise that digital health and well-being has gained a lot of attention amongst academics and practitioners.   Here at The University of Salford, we’re fortunate to have research disciplines of technology, business, health sciences and others working together to research and develop new platforms for social good. The WoMMeN project for us represents an excellent example of a digital healthcare project, pulling together academics with different specialisms, meeting regularly with experts and having the end users at the centre of the design and process.

digital healthcare teamThe WoMMeN hub is for every woman who has been invited for breast screening and wants to know what it’s all about. It’s also for her relatives, friends and carers who might be supporting her and need to understand how best to do this. The WoMMeN hub enables you to talk to other women and practitioners from the NHS breast screening service as well as providing lots of useful written information, videos and images.

A multidisciplinary team has emerged led by Dr Leslie Robinson from Diagnostic Radiography in the School of Health Sciences. The rest of the multi-disciplinary team include Dr Julie Wray from Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences, Adam Galpin and Jo Meredith Media Psychologists from Health Sciences, Claire Mercer from Diagnostic Radiography, and Cathy Ure, PhD student from Media Psychology, together with (us) Dr Marie Griffiths Reader in Digital Technology, and Alex Fenton from the Centre of Digital Business. However what makes this team truly multidisciplinary (and great!) are our practitioner members Julie Stein Hodgins, Geraldine Shires, Bev Scragg and Shaheeda Sheikh all mammography practitioners. We are also lucky to have a patient representative Jo Taylor from ABCDiagnosis.

We are all really proud to be part of the WoMMEN team! Universities may, by some be considered to be ‘Ivory Towers’ but here at Salford, we believe strongly in working together on real world projects that will build bridges across the community and genuinely help people. Digital healthcare offers a real opportunity for us to work across departments and practitioners to offer something genuinely useful and helpful for people.

Our experience with digital platforms has taught us how to best reach people online and how to design projects that will provide tangible benefits in this digital age. Creating a digital project without speaking to the people that will use it at each stage is not what this project is about. The women are at the heart of this project and we are using the strengths of digital to help people to connect and exchange vital information. This can ultimately improve wellbeing and save lives.

If you would like to find out more, join or shape this initiative, please contact us or register on this site.

You can also talk to us on Facebook and Twitter.

Want some handy pointers on how to get the most from Twitter if you’re a health professional? Nip over to Australia via A Nurses Guide to Twitter where they’ve written a great blog on how to do just that!

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