The other day I had a conversation with someone who made a statement about the healthcare industry not needing to be on social media because no one cares about the nurses’ birthdays and little useless memes (I’m SOOO paraphrasing here!). Though it’s true that no one cares about memes and birthdays of people they don’t know, if your healthcare institute is using social media for these types of purposes, you are not harnessing its true power or potential.
What’s the point of social media for healthcare?
In a couple weeks I’ll be conducting a 6-hour workshop in Dubai and my audience will be healthcare delegates of the GCC. The topic of my course is social media for crisis and emergency management, which of course includes social media’s role in crisis preparedness and crisis prevention.
Throughout the process of planning and preparing for this presentation, I was lucky to be assigned an assistant, Ms. Orla Merrigan. Orla is a Nursing Lecturer from The Royal College of Surgeons Medical University in Bahrain. She has worked in the Middle East for the past 5 years and, with her colleague, Julie Sprakel, carried out the first research study to assess usage of social media by the public in the Middle East region. This study also examined how people in Bahrain are currently utilizing social media to access health related information. An important question for any healthcare institute to answer.
Assessing the need for, and purpose of, social media in healthcare
During their study, Orla and Julie determined three very important facts:
- 30% of participants surveyed had witnessed a person in Cardiac arrest, which is quite a high statistic internationally, and this may be reflective of the rapid increase of Chronic diseases (Cardiovascular disease, Diabetes, Obesity) in the Gulf region.
- Ambulance response time is slow in this region, leaving cardiac arrest victims at heightened risk.
- 53% of participants surveyed stated that they used Google to seek information on cardiac arrest, CPR & Automated External Defibrillators.
With all the false information easily findable online and, with the survey indicating that Bahrain citizens were turning to online channels to research this topic in particular, Orla and Julie set out to achieve two goals:
- To publish accurate and helpful information that people will be able to use and learn from; and
- To do so on behalf of the RCSI Bahrain – which, as you know, is a great strategy for developing credibility, trust and brand awareness.
They gathered the data and determined their goals, next it was time for strategy development
With this information, and looking at the fact that The British Heart Foundation produced a 3 minute video in 2010 that focused on educating the public on the new “hands only” CPR guidelines, and that this video has since been viewed over 4 million times on YouTube and is accredited to saving over 50 lives, RCSI Bahrain decided to undertake a similar project: to produce a CPR instructional video in Arabic, of the CPR Hands Only Guidelines, for the general public.
Here’s what they came up with:
The campaign’s success
So far the CPR video in Arabic has had over 7,000 views on YouTube since its launch on Sunday, August 24th 2014. In addition, it will be played on all Gulf Air flights for the whole month of September and currently has over 200,000 likes on the Gulf Air Facebook Fan Page.
(Note: The RCSI Bahrain recently had a technical issue with the video, so the link above does not display the accurate number of views. They are waiting for YouTube to correct the mistake.)
When asked if she considers this video campaign a success, Orla responded:
“Yes I do. In a very short period of time it already has over 7,000 views, it will also be going out on CNN channel here in the Gulf region and by next week it will be on Gulf Air for one month. We have had extensive media coverage from numerous airlines as well as newspapers and some bloggers in the region. We hope that in the next few weeks we will see the social media statistics escalate and continue to spread this message to undertake CPR in an emergency situation.”
The power and potential of social media for healthcare
This is the power of social media for crisis prevention and preparedness. Yes, this is an awareness and educational campaign, but it’s ultimate goal is to educate people in the region on how to save lives. With nearly a third of people having witnessed a cardiac arrest, and with ambulance response times being what they are, the RCSI Bahrain felt it important to find a way to lessen the risk of cardiac arrest-related deaths before paramedics even have the chance to get on the scene.
Not to mention that this is an excellent way for the RCSI Bahrain to position itself as a credible source of information for its community, as well as for building trust and relationships with its citizens – which is an invaluable crisis preparedness strategy. They’re meeting a need and hopefully preventing a few deaths along the way.
Thank you to Orla Merrigan for sharing this great story with us!