Thinking OT

Thoughts from Harrison Training and the occupational therapy world

Blogging and Social Networking in the NHS – Change Needed

with 5 comments

OTNews have a brief and dispiriting article this month on page 10, entitled Blogging and social networking.  I am grateful that this article was brought to my attention as I prepare for a very popular workshop on Social Media Usage at next week’s COTSS Independent Practice conference next week.  I think we can have some fun with this…

The article runs off a litany of reasons why blogging and social networking is bad.  To summarise they are

  • breaches of confidentiality
  • information leaks
  • defamation
  • damage to organisational reputation
  • information to be used for social engineering and identity theft
  • viruses and other malware
  • bandwidth consumption resulting in degrading services and wasting time for other users
  • intimidation of NHS staff leading to investigations.

The article goes on to state that you can download the full checklist (what, there’s more?!) here.

I am not sure what the motive behind the article was, not least because the College is actually quite active in this field itself.  It just pops up in the news pages, even though the guidelines referred to date back to December 2009.

The disappointment in it is that it reads in the most reactionary terms.  It comes across as being anti-progress by only listing the woebetides and the why nots.

Where is the debate about how we can manage risk and progress?  Where is the discussion on the opportunities that become available?

For all your threats above I give you my own list.

Watch out for social media and blogging.  It can result in:-

  • collaboration
  • innovation
  • education
  • integration
  • creativity
  • community
  • encouragement
  • support
  • development
  • efficiencies
  • knowledge management
  • best practice…

Written by harrisontraining

October 7, 2010 at 3:14 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Personally I think that anyone who wants to get involved in social media and health is obliged to take on board all the risks before they start thinking about the positives. Otherwise we might end up looking foolish. If someone comes up with a use of social media- and hasn’t thought about those negative factors- I’d be wary.

    And if you are sharing your idea, and you have thought about and considered the negatives, then you will have a much better chance of getting those less certain on board with you.

    Just my thoughts!

    Anne Marie Cunningham

    October 7, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    • The point is that these risks and downsides are as prevalent in any other industry.

      This is not a binary choice, say, between one list and another.

      What is required is a more nuanced debate – bearing in mind the risks and considerations in list one, how can we harness and capably use widespread, almost universally used technology, to access those benefits in list two.

      If we just read list one and say, therefore, “No, can’t do it” then we will end up with an outmoded, archaic institution.

      What I am interested in is seeing that debate take place. It cannot be insurmountable.

      But no, in the spirit of full disclosure, I haven’t got the answer. By debate though, I suspect the community can work it out.

      Thanks for the comment, and kickstarting the debate.


      October 7, 2010 at 4:17 pm

      • You are right. The NHS governance list is about organisational governance, not use by professionals. In health we do have more specific professional guidelines to also consider before using social media in a professional capacity.

        The best way of encouraging others to get on board is to share examples of how social media has demonstrated the positive attributes you mention. I’m not aware of many yet in medicine so it would help me to see examples from other fields.


        Anne Marie Cunningham

        October 7, 2010 at 4:36 pm

  2. Hi! It’s great that you raised the issue that just saying “no, can’t do it… too risky” is simply throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Anne Marie is also right in pointing out that as professionals we need to be careful what we do online.

    Here are five examples of use of social media I have been involved in which were carefully developed and maintained, for the benefit of the profession.
    1. Home for Life wiki
    2. Online Technology for Occupational Therapy
    3. World OT day virtual exchange
    4. Health Evidence Search
    5. OT4OT facebook group!/group.php?gid=311439915949

    I look forward to being more involved in introducing the safe and effective use of online technologies to my OT colleagues, occupational therapy needs a digital future to have any chance in this brave new world.

    Cheers, Anita.


    October 12, 2010 at 4:33 am

  3. Hi again… not sure why the FB group link had all that extra content, here is the link again:!/group.php?gid=311439915949

    Cheers, Anita


    October 12, 2010 at 4:34 am

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