For the second time in a month, NHS Sefton has been honoured for its work in extending health services on a variety of channels in partnership with Looking Local. Taking the top award in the 'Best Use of Social Media' category at the eHealth Insider Awards for widening access via TV on Sky & Virgin, as well as smartphones and mobile, it comes hot on the heels of the commendation in the 'Efficiency in IT' category at the HSJ Efficiency Awards.
NHS Sefton was the first primary care trust (PCT) to engage with Looking Local to deliver services on Sky, Virgin TV, smartphones, games consoles and mobile, and their foresight has now been rewarded. These awards recognise the PCT's understanding of Sefton residents' information needs and commitment to ensuring these are met in the most appropriate way.
Sefton is an area of great health inequality and NHS Sefton wanted to ensure that it was providing equal access to health information and services to give people the best chance of living a healthy life and getting treatment. In some areas over 75% of Sefton's population is without internet access, and in many cases these are the people who need health services the most.
Looking Local is a public sector solution owned by Kirklees Council that delivers health, housing, jobs and council services on a variety of channels. By engaging with Looking Local people across Sefton are able to access information and services 24/7; from making GP appointments and ordering repeat prescriptions, to getting information on sexual health (one of the most popular areas of the service) and local leisure events promoting activity and exercise.
NHS Sefton was able to ascertain that around 55% of homes in the area had access to interactive TV (Sky & Virgin); in fact, evidence showed that in those areas where the internet was less available, there was greater uptake of Sky & Virgin. This, in addition to the significant numbers of people of all ages having access to a mobile or smartphone, meant that engaging with Looking Local was a logical development to enable cheaper, wider and more equitable access.
David Hammond, Acting Engagement and Communications Manager at NHS Sefton, said:
"We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded 'Best Use of Social Media'. Our aim is to provide valuable information about health and health services to people in Sefton using the channels most appropriate for them. Using website, TV and smartphone means we are combining channels to reach as many people as possible."
Nearly 50% of NHS Sefton's usage on Looking Local is out of traditional office hours, allowing people to self serve when it suits them on their device of choice. By shifting people to cheaper channels of communications - away from telephone help lines and face to face consultations, as well as giving people 24 hour access - real efficiencies have been realised.
Guy Giles, Looking Local's Operations Manager, said:
"The range of media devices and access channels now available means that organisations cannot simply rely on the PC/website approach to reach people. NHS Sefton's engagement with Looking Local and commitment to reach patients on a range of devices and channels is inspiring and most importantly delivering better outcomes for patients."
The NHS Sefton site is enhanced by a range of local and national content partners including the British Lung Foundation, Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation, who deliver comprehensive guides and advice around specific health issues such as COPD, CHD and Diabetes. Looking Local's partnership with NHS Choices allows NHS Sefton to link into the health website's Health A-Z, Live Well guides and offer local listings for GPs, dentists, smoking clinics and other local health service and support providers. On top of this NHS Sefton gives its viewers and mobile users access to Jobcentre Plus, Patient Opinion and local partner services from Sefton Council and Merseyside Fire & Rescue.
Read more on the eHealth Insider Awards here.