13.10.2020 | Insight

Digital Opinion Leaders raise awareness of PPE needs in the UK

By Adam Doggett

During the COVID-19 pandemic, CREATION.co has been supporting Frontline.Live, a charity working to address personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages in the UK.

The online map listens to the voices of healthcare workers online, understands their real time needs and works to answer those needs, fast. Since April, over 1,000 PPE shortages in UK hospitals and care homes have been reported anonymously at the Frontline.Live platform by healthcare workers of all types requesting supplies including masks, aprons and hand sanitiser. This is just the tip of the iceberg. PPE shortages have been a major theme in mainstream and social media.

Using CREATION Pinpoint, we analysed the conversations of healthcare workers on public social media to understand who is influencing the PPE narrative online.

Active and influential HCPs in the online PPE discussion

Based on a series of metrics including peer engagement and network reach, we have identified highly influential healthcare professionals (HCPs) who are using Twitter to raise awareness of PPE shortages. These HCPs have large professional and public followings on Twitter and they are regularly shared and engaged in conversation by their professional peers, indicating that they have the respect and trust of other HCPs.

The UK’s most influential online HCPs in the context of PPE

DOL RankNameTotal PPE Twitter postsRetweeted by HCPsMentioned by HCPsTotal Twitter FollowersHCP followers
1Trish Greenhalgh8123,3602,93596,82718,890
2Rachel Clarke1162,090765134,45410,861
3Asif Qasim6551712725,6831,815
4David Oliver16151084636,7069,644
5Philip Lee25058220948,1464,735
6Linda Dykes8646431817,3156,782
7Danielle Jade28348832011,2721,972
8Dominic Pimenta37136615336,8633,787
9Mike Henley4891321806,1072,408
10Ellie Cannon43520617231,9434,041

The table above shows the UK’s most influential online HCPs in the context of PPE. Some, such as Linda Dykes, are very active in the online PPE discussion, whereas others, for instance A&E doctor and MP Rosena Allin-Khan, post less frequently about PPE needs but due to a high profile position and significant Twitter following, have the potential to reach a very large audience with their content.

Accounts of high importance to network integration

HCPs engage with a variety of sources on Twitter. Measuring how much an account is mentioned and how much they are mentioning others who are also talking about PPE can reveal the integration of that account with the online network. Network integration analysis has revealed that politicians, health care services and doctors have all played important roles in shaping the UK online HCP PPE discussion with Matt Hancock, Trish Greenhalgh and Piers Morgan taking the top three spots.

Top three HCP PPE Digital Opinion Leaders

Taking into account factors such as peer following and network integration, the UK’s top three HCP Digital Opinion Leaders in the PPE conversation have been identified: professor and primary care physician Trish Grenhalgh; palliative care physician and author Rachel Clarke and cardiologist and MedShr CEO Asif Qasim. While each DOL presents a different online presence, whether it be a focus on academic content, or stories political in nature, they are all using their platform to raise awareness for PPE needs and promote better services for healthcare workers and patients.

During a public health emergency, social media is a powerful tool for good in the right hands. We celebrate those who use their voice in support of those in need.

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Meet the Author

Adam Doggett

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