It was a little overwhelming and it took me a while to understand that it is an account where people would like to have window into your life and want to know what you are planning, doing and thinking. It is different to the way that you would use your own twitter account.
I don’t think that the tweets are an accurate reflection of the workload in general practice. Eg on Monday I worked from 0800 – 2000, a telephone triage and Skype clinic lasting 4 hours and a normal clinic lasting 3.5 hours, 2 home visits as well as administrative duties including prescriptions, reviewing bloods test results, letters, making referrals. I didn’t have lunch until around 3pm which I had at my desk. I didn’t see the children when I got home at 2100 when I carried on with administrative duties.
It was hard to tweet when I was busy and could not share any information which would result in patients being identifiable, either directly or indirectly. In addition, I wanted to share the positive aspects of general practice of which there are many rather than the challenges which are well documented. With hindsight, I could have just done very short tweets to update followers as they appeared to be interested.
I was pretty apprehensive initially, given the size of the audience and worried about reaction, given the negative media comments about GPs on the day before I became a curator. However, twitter users have been amazingly supportive and engaging. As a result I grew in confidence towards the end of the week and have taken away their ideas and suggestions e.g having regular breaks, improving my diet and doing the Couch to 5K.
I would have liked to ask a few more challenging questions of large organisations and not be too disappointed when they are not acknowledged or answered. I also wish I had shared more everyday questions, eg how to make a 2 year old sleep through the night and remove the said 2 year old’s stains from a fabric sofa.
The biggest challenge in general practice is related to workforce and the biggest solution is education and training. I am not sure that this message came across clearly enough. I appreciate that things that I feel are important were not necessarily shared by the audience.
Engagement improved when I shared a little more of myself and I got better to taking photos and videos and realise that they don’t have to be perfect and got more involved when ‘interviewing’ people.
Overall I think it was an amazing experience, I have learnt a great deal and feel much more confidant in using social media at the practice and on my own account. We will make sure we use it a few times day and respond to any questions. This can be used to share information both ways between patients and the practice and help patients support other patients, in line with practice ethos of patient empowerment.
I would like to thank NHS England for their support during the week, particularly Ben.