The Change Foundation & The Health Strategy Innovation Cell release Guide, e-Toolkit, & 1st dynamic directory of healthcare social media users in Canada to help organizations improve patient experience

CAMH & Providence Healthcare testing grounds for unique project

To view the Social Media Release, click here:

TORONTO, June 27, 2011 /CNW/ - The Change Foundation, in partnership with the Health Strategy Innovation Cell at Massey College, has released a suite of timely, interactive resources for healthcare organizations to help them better understand social media - its potential and limitations -- and prompt them to use these tools to capture and improve the patient experience.

The products are the result of a two-year collaboration that included work with Ontario field partners, The Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (CAMH) and Providence Healthcare. The Foundation funded the project and worked closely with the Innovation Cell from beginning to end with an expert advisory council of social media and healthcare experts.

"We learned that healthcare organizations in Canada are not yet taking advantage of social media for quality improvement purposes," said The Change Foundation CEO Cathy Fooks. "This project was an opportunity for us to explore whether social media could help organizations get information from a broad spectrum of patients, and begin to engage with them with an eye to designing care and services that improve their experiences."

Innovation Cell CEO Neil Seeman said: "Many patients are already online - and the next generations of patients and caregivers will conduct more and more of their daily activities through social media. We are confident that, by joining them there, you can open new doors to patient engagement, particularly by listening to how patients define what quality means in their own healthcare experience."

Resources released today:

  • Using Social Media to Improve Healthcare Quality: A Guide to Current Practice and Future Promise

Part 1, Introduction and Key Issues in the Current Landscape, includes scans of the fast-changing social media environment. For the social media novice and initiated alike, the guide reports on how healthcare organizations are using social media, probes the link to quality improvement, features leading practices, opportunities and limitations, and addresses head on issues such as privacy, data control, ethics, and return on investment.

Part 2, Exploring Two Case Examples and Imagining the Future, offers practical learning from 10-month explorations with the project's field partners: the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada's largest mental health and addictions teaching and care delivery institution; and Providence Healthcare, a Toronto-area teaching hospital specializing in rehabilitation and geriatric care. Before the project, both organizations were just testing the social media waters. Afterwards, both reported a much greater understanding of the implications and opportunities presented by social media and increased capacity to make well-informed and strategic decisions about its uptake. Both organizations moved quickly to reflect and build on what they gleaned.

The e-Toolkit holds all the content from the guide and will host real-time updates on what's trending in discussions in the field. It includes Canada's first open and user-editable directory of healthcare organizations using social media. The resource, which integrates social media tools, will allow healthcare organizations in Canada and abroad to collaborate with like-minded organizations to share 2.0 learning.

Rob Fraser, RN, a member of the project's advisory council, says social media tools can bridge gaps: "The benefit of directly listening to patients and involving a diversity of voices is the opportunity for insight into the lived experience of the people that we're providing service to. It's very difficult for someone to sit in a boardroom and decide how best to deliver care and services to a population."

Key learning on context & use:

  • Compared to other sectors, healthcare has been a slow adopter of social media tools for quality improvement (despite the fact that health is one of the hottest online topics.)
  • Questions about ethics, patient privacy, data control, measurement, and return-on-investment are major stumbling blocks, but experimentation and experience are showing that healthcare organizations can use these new tools conscientiously and with positive purpose to improve care and respond more quickly to patient concerns and suggestions.
  • Things are changing fast: In the past year alone, the number of social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and the like) by Canadian healthcare organizations has quadrupled

Practical takeaways for healthcare organizations:

  • Plan to integrate social media strategically. Try it out in a prudent and phased approach - across divisions, units, programs - wherever it can help the organization meet its goals.
  • Target your online "listening" strategies to understand and engage with different audiences.
  • Move from a "numbers model" (e.g. counts of web hits) to a "relevance model" in measuring online engagement, using a variety of free or paid tools that can inform you about trends in online conversations about issues important to your organization.
  • Use social media tools for collaboration among your staff, to foster discussion and innovation about ways to improve the organization's service delivery.

Susan Pigott, the VP of Communications and Community Engagement from CAMH, said her organization has used what they've learned to advance and enrich their plans for uptake: "We applaud The Change Foundation and The Innovation Cell for encouraging healthcare organizations to think about the ways in which social media can improve engagement and drive quality improvement. This is an area of great interest to CAMH and our participation in this project helped us learn much more about existing tools and methodologies for tracking and making sense of the information being conveyed. We now have a clearer idea of how to proceed to play an appropriate role in the dialogue."

See more video views from partners and participants reflecting on key project learning and the promise and potential of social media to improve patients' healthcare experience. Interviews include:

  • Melanie Barwick, Director of Knowledge Translation in the Child Health Evaluative Sciences program, Sick Kids' Research
  • Rob Fraser, Graduate nursing student, founder,
  • Tom Sommerville, Business Technology Specialist at Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

See all interviews.

/NOTE TO EDITORS: Media Assets accompanying this story are available as follows:



Image with caption: "Using Social Media to improve healthcare quality. (CNW Group/The Change Foundation)". Image available at:

SOURCE The Change Foundation

For further information:

Anila Sunnak,
Communications Specialist
The Change Foundation

Neil Seeman,

Michael Torres 
CAMH Media Relations
Public Affairs
(o) 416 595 6015
(c) 416 254 5921
(p) 416 322 9326
(twitter) camhmediaupdate

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