Using Social Media to Facilitate Consumer Engagement in Health Service Improvement

Through her doctoral research, Louisa Walsh examined the question “How can social media be used to facilitate consumer engagement in hospital service design and quality improvement?”

The project explored how social media can be most effectively used by public hospitals to enhance existing consumer engagement strategies through:

  • diversifying the consumers they engage with to better reflect their patient community, and
  • providing opportunities for innovation in the way consumer engagement activities are conducted.

Social media guide

A key output from the PhD project was the development of Using social media as a tool to facilitate consumer engagement in service design and quality improvement: A guide for hospitals, service providers and consumers.

The Implementation Workbook which accompanies the guide is accessible here [52KB].

The guide has been co-created with service providers and consumers from Australian public hospitals. The guide aims:

  • To help hospitals, service providers, and consumers understand how social media can be used as a consumer engagement tool
  • To provide evidence-based strategies and actions for implementing social media as a consumer engagement tool in Australian public hospital service design and QI
  • To provide implementation tools for social media-based consumer engagement

The guide was developed for three main groups of people involved in service design and QI in hospitals:

  • Hospital decision makers: Service providers and consumer representatives in hospital executive and/or governance roles; Communications professionals who are responsible for managing hospital social media pages and developing communication plans
  • People who are involved in service design and QI projects: Service providers and consumer representatives who are involved in planning, implementing, and evaluating service design and QI projects
  • Consumers: Patients, family members, and carers; People in consumer representative roles

The PhD project

The studies which make up this doctoral research were:

  • A scoping review exploring how social media is used to influence health service change and in health service quality improvement activities from 2004-present with a focus on platforms used, population types, activities undertaken, barriers, enablers, benefits, risks/limitations.
  • Interviews with current Australian hospital stakeholders about their experiences and opinions of social media use to facilitate consumer engagement in hospital service design and quality improvement.
  • Consultation and co-creation with Australian public hospital stakeholders to create a guide for the use of social media as a tool for consumer engagement in service design and quality improvement

This project was funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship (GNT1168409).

Academic research team

Co-creation group

This PhD project was conducted using a participatory research methodology. The co-creation group was made up of six people with an interest in social media use in health, and includes both health consumers and service providers (clinical and non-clinical). The co-creation group provided guidance for the project and its members and the academic research team act together as co-researchers and co-participants within a participatory research framework.

Publications

Walsh L, Hyett N, & Hill S. (2019, March 18). The use of social media by health service providers and consumers as a tool for health service design and quality improvement: A scoping review protocol (Version 2). figshare.

Walsh L, Hyett N, Juniper N, Li C, Rodier S, Hill S. (2021). The use of social media as a tool for stakeholder engagement in health service design and quality improvement: A scoping review. DIGITAL HEALTH. January 2021. doi:10.1177/2055207621996870

Walsh L, Hyett N, Hill S. Using social media to engage consumers in health service design and quality improvement. Croakey. 18 March 2021. https://www.croakey.org/using-social-media-to-engage-consumers-in-health-service-design-and-quality-improvement/

Walsh L, Hyett N, Howley J. Juniper N, Li C, MacLeod-Smith B, Rodier S, Hill S. (2021). The risks and benefits of using social media to engage consumers in service design and quality improvement in Australian public hospitals: findings from an interview study of key stakeholders. BMC Health Services Research. 21, 876. doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-021-06927-x

Walsh L, Hyett N, Howley J. Juniper N, Li C, MacLeod-Smith B, Rodier S, Hill S. (in press). Social media as a tool for consumer engagement in hospital quality improvement and service design: barriers and enablers for implementation. International Journal of Health Policy and Management. https://www.ijhpm.com/article_4160.html

Walsh L, Hill S, Hyett N, Hewson D, Howley J, Juniper N, Li C, MacLeod-Smith B, Rodier S. (2022). Using social media as a tool to facilitate consumer engagement in service design and quality improvement: A guide for hospitals, service providers and consumers. Centre for Health Communication and Participation, La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia. doi: 10.26181/17169089

Presentations

Walsh, L. (2019, December 5). PhD confirmation - Using social media to facilitate consumer engagement in Australian public hospital service design and quality improvement.

Walsh, L. (2020, November 12). Mid-candidature review - Using social media to facilitate consumer engagement in Australian public hospital service design and quality improvement

Walsh, L. (2021, December 9). Pre-submission presentation - Using social media to facilitate consumer engagement in Australian public hospital service design and quality improvement.