Friday, 13 December 2013

Social media as part of a new professionalism : #GMCConf

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Two years ago I attended a GMC education conference in the London. The conference had no hashtag so I and some others decided to use #GMCEd11 . The GMC didn't have their @gmcuk account at that time but they did have a @gooddoctoruk account launched around the time of initial consultation on the updating of Good Medical Practice. Altogether there were just over 300 tweets made on the day and about half of those were by me. Most of this activity probably bypassed those who were attending except when I had a chance to ask a question to an afternoon panel on behalf of Alastair McLellan, editor of the Health Services Journal. Alastair had posed the question to me in a tweet. I remember a frisson of laughter that a question was coming via twitter and I think that it was Fergus Walsh who joked that at least 140 characters created  usefully brief and succinct questions.

Fast forward to 2013 and the first national GMC conference on 'Medical professionalism : whose job is it anyway?' is held today in Manchester with 400 attendees- over 50% of them medical students and jobbing doctors, but with other stakeholders including patients well represented. There is an official conference hashtag #gmcconf and it is used more than 1500 times today. Throughout the day there is reference to taking questions from tweets and no-one seems to be in any way surprised.

I make about 1/2 the tweets I do at the last event, in part because this time I was giving a lunch-time seminar with Gareth Williams from the GMC office in Cardiff on the social media in practice. A strong conference theme is the nature of professionalism in a post Berwick and Francis report world and so my part of the session focussed on how social media is being used to drive improvement and ensure patient safety by doctors in the UK today.

10 reasons why any doctor should explore social media

I concentrated on a few stories - Elin Roddy's experiences of learning and reflecting in social media which lead to her taking on the role of lead for End of Life care in her trust ; raising patient safety through openness and transparency of sharing the #Wrongfooted storify ; NHS Change Day ; the FOAMed initiatives of ECGClass, Gasclass and TeamHaem ; and Kate Granger's #HelloMyNameIs campaign.

A few years ago I was not confident that I could justify urging every doctor to explore social media. But it is now beyond doubt that some of the most innovative, creative and transformative conversations about improving the care of and with our patients are happening within social media.

We must ask ourselves what we can do to help our colleagues and students be part of these conversations.


  1. Thanks for that AM! Like the graphic lots. I'm also more confident -
    strident even - with my nursing types since the NMC, RCN, etc. have
    twitter accounts. I even insist that they do... (link to the wiki page/task I set them: )

  2. Ryan Madanick, MD13 December 2013 at 21:47

    What a visionary! :-)

  3. Lot of patients or users from all over the world can open their mind to know about what's happening in the world of health and experts can reply to it.

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  5. Nice
    infographics! I agree with it in that social media can be used to inspire. Some
    people often see its negative side and I can’t blame them, especially when
    you’re constantly fed with images of narcissistic teens taking pictures of
    themselves. However, they forget that through social media, significant changes
    in society were achieved, such as the revolutions in the Middle East and the
    mobilization of relief efforts during calamities.


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