Amid the COVID-19 pandemic the importance of fast national and global communication has become more apparent. As part of our analysis of COVID-19, CREATION is tracking the reach and impact of online health messaging. Previously we found that the World Health Organisation is the go-to COVID-19 information source for healthcare professionals (HCPs) globally. Continuing our investigation, we analysed the reach of online NHS messaging among HCPs.
When it comes to reaching an audience online, the NHS, as with any other entity, is presented with a number of options. On Twitter, a platform we have found to be popular amongst HCPs, NHS messaging is consumed and shared by HCPs via NHS and other HCP Twitter accounts. However, HCPs shared more COVID-19 material that had been originally posted by a non-HCP or a non-NHS Twitter account. Non-NHS Twitter accounts Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk), Public Health England (@PHE_UK), Public Health Wales (@PublicHealthW) and Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) all shared NHS material and were highly retweeted among HCPs.
These traits can be separated into distinct regions with areas in Scotland utilising NHS Twitter accounts and a cluster of HCPs in the West Midlands linking to information on the NHS website.
Fewer HCPs use Twitter to share NHS material directly from an NHS site, preferring to share NHS content via another Twitter account. However, communication behaviours are a notable characteristic between HCP specialisms; 11% of GP Twitter posts containing NHS COVID-19 material were original posts linking to NHS sites, more than any other specialism, whereas nurses are the most likely group to retweet NHS Twitter accounts.
Our analysis also revealed regional differences with Scottish and Welsh locations preferring to share local NHS pages such as ‘NHS Inform’ and ‘Public Health Wales’.
However, HCPs most frequently shared the NHS COVID-19 homepage (‘Advice for everyone’, 1,788 shares), allowing people to navigate to the relevant information. NHS 111 ‘Check if you have coronavirus symptoms’ was the second most shared resource (641 shares).
Beyond the UK, NHS messaging has a global reach as HCPs access health information from around the world and look to learn from one another and fight COVID-19 together.
CREATION.co has been tracking the online HCP conversation relating to coronavirus since the start of the outbreak and is committed to supporting healthcare stakeholders globally. For more discussion about this research, and advice for health communicators in pharmaceutical companies during COVID-19 pandemic, see our webinar: Coronavirus Digital Communication Strategies for pharma.