Why viral videos are the way forward for the NHS

We are currently working on great project for Haemnet – a network for health care professionals who treat people with inherited bleeding disorders. It is a totally free service that provides a secure online space in which members can share information and experience about the care of people with bleeding disorders. Membership is open to specialist nurses, physiotherapists, data managers and social workers. You can visit the site at www.haemnet.com.

The NHS is always looking for new ways to spread public health messages and the project has prompted us to think about how we can take advantage of online video to disseminate healthcare messaging and reach and inform a larger audience. Video is one of the most powerful ways to reach people and if the idea is right you can connect on an intellectual and emotional level. Through a little research we found a useful article on The Guardian online which highlighted a couple of key case study campaigns.

The article opens with the reminder of one of the first acts of the coalition government back in 2010, when they slashed government advertising, although they made an exception for two campaigns on dementia and strokes.

 

“Hot Drinks Harm” – North Bristol NHS Trust

North Bristol hospital hosts the South West Children’s Burns Centre and has used video to spread awareness of the thousands of children every year who are injured by hot drinks. Their ‘Hot Drinks Harm’ campaign depicts a small boy pulling a cup of tea onto himself while his mother’s back is turned, causing him to suffer severe scalding on his cheek. The aim of the film was to raise awareness of the consequences of leaving hot drinks around children and, using social media, to get it disseminated as widely as possible.

Dr Amber Young, consultant paediatric anaesthetist at the centre, says “If you put a bland video up with education facts and figures, people aren’t going to use some of their valuable time to watch that. It’s got to be something that hooks them”. The video, which was created on a budget of £2,500 and used trainees from the City of Bristol college to do the make-up, has gone on to get nearly 14,000 views since it was published in 2011.

 

“Condom, No Condom?”

A year earlier an interactive series of videos launched to encourage young people to wear contraception. Created by primary care trust NHS Bristol and England’s NHS Choices website the video allowed viewers to decide whether a young male party-goer would wear a condom or not, before showing the consequences of his decision, which included pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The video received almost 2million views, in part as a result of extensive media coverage after the Daily Mail ran a story branding the video as ‘pornographic’. However, with such traffic, the cost of the videos worked out less than 2p per visit, compared to around £32 for a face-to-face visit to a GP.

 

“Teenage Pregnancy Video” NHS Leicester City

Another example of NHS video campaigns hitting the headlines was NHS Leicester City primary care trust’s video in May 2009 of a young girl giving birth on a school field. The unbranded video, which was produced to look like amateur mobile phone footage, attracted huge amounts of press coverage and was removed by YouTube after 24 hours after receiving hundreds of complaints.

“It was the most shocking viral video any NHS has produced locally, even regionally, and because we had done our research with the young people and knew what they wanted, we hit are target market just right,” says Richard Morris, associate director of communications and engagement at NHS Leicester City. “This was a ‘social marketing campaign’ so it’s not about what we think is right or appropriate, it’s about the evidence we gained from our research about listening to our target audience, and producing something that gets them interested in key health messages in a discreet way.”

Costing £20,000 to produce, the video targeted girls, young people not in education, employment or training (Neets) and those in the west of the city, a pregnancy hot spot. It had been viewed 2m times by June 2009.

Article taken from the Guardian Online.