Social media as a training tool for allied health

Using social media to train healthcare staff and for educating the public is “cheap as chips” and should be adopted more widely, a Melbourne-based dietitian says.

Emma Rippon, an accredited practising dietitian and managing director of Eat Well Nutrition, started the company’s social media program, which comprises Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, late last year.

Ms Rippon told the ITAC 2013 conference last week that the business uses the different channels for specific purposes.

Facebook and Twitter are used as an education tool for the public and to publicise industry news and events, and YouTube has proved a cost-effective way to deliver training on nutrition to staff at private hospitals and aged care facilities, industries where pressure on budgets meant reducing costs was a key concern.

“It came out of our need to educate [client] staff better and more effectively,” Ms Rippon said.

“Our main goal was just to make sure that this nutrition evidence and best practice was out there in the industry, so that we could feel more comfortable that people were getting the right information. It has got a lot of social good behind it.”

For example, training has been delivered via YouTube to 40 staff at an aged care facility in regional Western Australia that otherwise would not have been able to undertake it.

Feedback from managers and care co-ordinators had been positive, and Ms Rippon said there were plans to establish a user feedback group to guide the program’s development.

Ms Rippon said dietitians had a responsibility to move with the times and ensure that the discipline is in step with the way people are using social networks.

She said that getting the YouTube channel up and running with videos had taken three months, working around the practice’s professional commitments.

Ms Rippon said the time and money taken to shoot a video and upload it to YouTube presents a better ROI than does creating a CD or building or licensing software.

Each video is four to five minutes long, and all the dietitians at Eat Well Nutrition are trained in producing and presenting them.

The focus now is to expand the video library as quickly as possible, and then to look at protocols about how frequently content will be updated across all the social networks.

Reviews and re-edits will occur as information or best practice changes, such as the new national dietary guidelines that were introduced in March.

Posted in Allied Health

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