BBC Radio 1: “GPs ‘should target men through Facebook and phone apps'”

Radio 1 NewsBeat has posted this news story suggesting that the British Government should target men with health warnings through Facebook and smartphone apps. The article quotes Dr Ian Banks, President of the European Men’s Health Forum and a patient to make the case that men are:

> Ignoring potentially dangerous symptoms because they’re embarrassed.
> Self diagnosing and/or ordering drugs inappropriately
> Not going to a doctor because of fears they’d be wasting Doctors time
> Unsure where to look for information because they’re unfamiliar with the idea of going to the Doctor

The Department of Health has told Radio 1 that there will be a new health campaign aimed at all young people (both men and women) that would be starting this year and would use smartphone apps and Facebook.

It might surprise you (considering I’m a proponent of patients digitally engaging with informed Doctors) to learn that I think this campaign seems half baked and more than likely to miss the mark and be a waste of the limited resources that are desperately needed to serve patients (and I’m not going to even start on how this additional government financial and endorsing support of the FaceBook business model is jepordising the safety of young people).

Surely with Prime Minister David Cameron’s talks of big society this would be a great opportunity to support and leverage the powerful online networks that private sector and community based organisations have already established?

The opportunity for this can be seen clearly by comparing the basic facebook stats eg. Cancer Research UK (the UK’s leading cancer charity that is “liked” by >100,000 members)

Vs. NHS Direct (the >£100 million p.a. 0845 government funded telephone health advice service that is liked by 1250)

Vs. NHS Choices (the online ‘front door’ to the NHS and the UK’s biggest health website that is liked by 2329)

Vs. DirectGov (the official UK government website for citizens that is liked by 2479)

I can’t but think the most obvious solution is abundantly clear. Even in this article the 24 year old male patient who is reluctant to be named or attend a Doctor (despite prolonged and potentially very serious health concerns), is able to articulate the key problems and almost spells out the answers:

> “You don’t want to see your doctor but you don’t know where to look for the information”. Maybe the looking would be best if it all just started with your Doctor eg. on their clinic website?

> “It’s just simple things like apps you can check anonymously. A lot of it is the anonymity” I wonder if it’s just the DOH who thinks Facebook actually represents an annonymous environment?

Instead of window dressing with app store downloads, Facebook adverts and various other unachieveable and patient privacy exposing popularity contests maybe the government should be using it’s limited resources to support and ensure every NHS GP in the country has it’s own secure, interactive and mobile web optimised GP surgery website?

About David Doherty
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1 Response to BBC Radio 1: “GPs ‘should target men through Facebook and phone apps'”

  1. Pingback: Evidence: NHS Direct doesn’t understand Privacy, Social Networks or Mobile « mHealth Insight: the blog of 3G Doctor

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