The power and the perils of using social networking tools in the NHS

Earlier in the year I was invited by my friend Bruce Elliot at the NHS Faculty of Health Informatics to co-facilitate a masterclass entitled: “The powers and the perils of using Social Networking tools in the NHS”. The masterclass was held on 15th May 2008 at the British Library in London and provided participants with an opportunity to learn about social networking tools and case studies of their use within the NHS. Discussion focussed on the potential for wider adoption and how to minimise any associated risks.

The masterclass offered a well balanced mixture of presentations, discussion and debate. Bruce, chief architect behind the Faculty masterclasses, invited me to write up the emerging issues highlighted during the discussion at the masterclass into a report. I suggested that the report production could be done collaboratively using one of the many freely available wiki tools on the web. Bruce was soon sold on the idea and with help from colleague and agent provocateur Helen Nichol, the NHS social networking wiki emerged on Wetpaint.

Within a few days most of the masterclass participants were using the wiki to read about and contribute ideas building on the issues emerging out of the workshop. After a few weeks Rowan extracted the collective input and used it to produce the faculty briefing paper “The power and perils of using social networking tools in the NHS.” The briefing paper provide some practical hints and tips for anyone in health and social care who is using or considering using social networking tools. It’s not just the quality of the collectively assemebled content that makes the briefing paper worthy of a read but the fact that it was created using one of the very tools the paper is talking about. Talk about walking the talk!

Faculty background

The NHS Faculty of Health Informatics is a UK wide Community of Practice for anyone working in the NHS, Social Care, Higher Education and the Private Sector who is passionate about using Informatics to improve health and social care. To apply for membership go to You will be prompted to enter your eSpace log-in details or to apply for

membership when you click on this link.


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