Mar 052014
Andrew Cooper

Andrew Cooper

Meet Chris Hancock. He’s passionate about helping colleagues in NHS Wales to identify and treat sepsis. He wants to see as many lives as possible saved from a condition that kills more people than breast cancer, prostate cancer and HIV/AIDS combined.

Last year, Chris added Twitter and blogging to his skill set to help him in his work. And since then, he’s joined – and started – conversations about sepsis with individuals and organisations in Wales, across the UK and around the world.

Those conversations have informed and shaped his thinking on the subject. They have enabled him to tap into the latest national and international research, build strategic relationships – as well as share the ground-breaking work colleagues in Wales are leading to address the challenge of this deadly condition.

It was through Twitter that he met Terence Canning, a trustee of the UK Sepsis Trust, which led to his involvement in Cycle for Sepsis to raise awareness of Welsh efforts to treat and beat sepsis. We were also able to capture Terence’s personal story of the human cost of sepsis for Wales’ involvement in World Sepsis Day 2013.

Chris has also hosted a Twitter chat for the BMJ Evidence-based Nursing Journal Club and in the next few weeks will be taking part in a WebEx with colleagues in British Columbia who he met on Twitter.

And it was through Twitter that our NEWS (NHS Early Warning Score) App to help clinicians detect sepsis has been shared internationally, leading to over 2,000 downloads from 40 different countries.


The NEWS iPhone App. Click the image to download it.

It has been through blogging that Chris has been able to inform and educate colleagues – through emotionally engaging and challenging posts – that many cases of sepsis are preventable.

This all started in January 2013 as part of our developing social media strategy for 1000 Lives Improvement. Whilst we had a Twitter account for the organisation, we were increasingly aware of the idea that ‘people follow people’ – and that we also had colleagues in the team who would be able to engage on a cross section of healthcare improvement subjects and issues.

We started by organising training for members of the team, providing advice on how to use Twitter and write blog posts. The focus was as much on the ‘why’ they should get involved in social media as the ‘how’. We outlined the opportunities to:

  • Connect with colleagues committed to delivering improvement in similar areas.
  • Learn from the experiences and insights of others, comparing work and approaches with colleagues from around the world.
  • Add their own voice to international conversations – sharing work being taken forward by colleagues in Wales.
  • Be informed about new developments by ‘attending’ international conferences virtually.

One year on, we now have more team members on Twitter – tweeting about the work they are leading on and engaging with colleagues who are involved in similar work. They are also contributing regularly to our blog and we are targeting other organisation’s blogs where agendas are similar.

However, there’s still more to be done to encourage others to realise the benefits and seize the opportunities that Chris has clearly grasped.

It seems to me the most compelling reason – certainly for colleagues in healthcare – is the potential for actually saving lives.

Whilst Twitter itself can’t save lives directly – those who use and connect through it – like Chris – to share best practice, educate and inform, stimulate debate, raise awareness and campaign are making a major difference to how patients are being treated now and in the future.

Andrew Cooper is the Communications Manager at 1000 Lives Improvement. Follow him on Twitter at @cooperaj.

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