#NHSXmasA coordinated Twitter campaign to help people choose the right healthcare service during the Christmas period
What is the issue?• During the Christmas and New Year period people are more likely tovisit A&E with minor illnesses which could treated faster elsewhere.• A&E attendance is often driven by people not knowing where to gethealthcare, a problem exacerbated when GP surgeries and pharmaciesoperate with holiday opening hours.• Using ‘Choose Well’ messaging #NHSXmas aimed to help informpeople on Twitter what other health services they could visit to get care.• Services highlighted included pharmacies, walk-in centres and urgentcare centres.• Using these services instead of A&E helps A&E services toconcentrate on treating the most seriously ill patients.• The hashtag, #NHSXmas, was used to collate all tweets under thecampaign name.
The tweets• The tweets were based on the Christmas Carol ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’. Beginning on Christmas Day, each of the twelve days had a pair of tweets – a new rhyming tweet about a seasonal ailment and a responding tweet with the best place to get it treated.• All tweets were signed off by two medical directors.• Using social media provided us with a free and easy way to potentially reach a large audience and a novel enough hook to help get PR coverage.• We developed a tweet plan and promoted it on Comms Link, the #nhssm blog and via SHA’s regional newsletters.• Tweets were scheduled using services such as TweetDeck, HootSuite and Twuffer.
The tweets (selection of the 12)Sunday 25 Dec –Symptom: “On the first day of #NHSXmas, I strained my back putting up the Christmas tree.What would be the most appropriate treatment for me?”Best place for care: “It’s Xmas day so your GP will be closed. Try a walk in centre, Urgent Care Centre or Minor Injuries Unit. Search: at.nhs.uk/12xmas #NHSXmas”Monday 26 Dec –“On the second day of #NHSXmas, I woke up with a cold and heavy eyes, what treatment would you advise?”“For common problems like colds visit a pharmacist for advice and the medicines you need to treat them. Search: at.nhs.uk/12xmas #NHSXmas”Sunday 1 Jan –“On the 8th day of #NHSXmas I feel awful after too much New Year’s cheer, what can I do to make me feel better, and help my head to clear?”“It’s New Year’s Day, so If you over indulged last night you can drink plenty of fluids and treat yourself at home #NHSXmas”
The campaign by numbers• A coordinated twitter campaign such as this has never been done before in the NHS. 77,000+ people follow London’s NHS organisations on twitter, so the potential reach of a coordinated campaign is significant.• Over a week, the idea grew from one NHS organisation to 57 NHS organisations taking part, with a combined twitter following of 110,000+.• The campaign achieved 3.8 million Twitter impressions. That’s 3.8 million times a tweet with #NHSXmas in it could have been seen (by different or the same people).• There were 322 click throughs from tweets to the service search by postcode page on NHS Choices.• There were 346 click throughs from tweets to the symptom specific pages on NHS Choices. The most being 48 on the ‘I have a cough that won’t go away’ tweet on 28 December 2011.• The campaign achieved coverage in the London Evening Standard (1.65m readership) and Guardian Healthcare Network as well as other regional media outlets.
The campaign by people• This is the first ever online campaign to bring together so many NHS organisations.• This may seem like a small feat but to get a single clinically sound and localisable message out across the NHS and used by hospitals, Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) in one week is unheard of.• The campaign has helped build relationships across NHS communications teams which are helping to coordinate future online and offline activity (see #NHSvday).• The campaign is a great example of how a bottom-up approach can work. The original idea came from NHS South West London (PCT cluster) and was then support by NHS London (SHA).• The campaign has shown that social media is an appropriate hook (for now) to gain press coverage• It has also shown that for no outlay other than capacity large numbers of people can be reached by NHS messages using social media platforms.