Extending our reach: digital innovations

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The issue

The health and care landscape is complicated, fragmented and constantly changing. The Fund aims to make sense of this complexity and be a valued and sought-after source of commentary, explanation and information, reaching out to a wide audience, including clinicians, managers, leaders, patients and policy-makers.

What did we do?

Our website enables us to share our analysis and ideas and engage with our audiences. Data tells us that content that explains the complexity of the health and care sectors accounts for almost 40 per cent of traffic to our site so we have focused on developing content which meets that need. For example, our popular The NHS in a nutshell series provides essential facts and figures on the NHS, and our explainer articles cover topics – ranging from integrated care systems to social prescribing – in more depth.

Social media has become an increasingly important channel for us in recent years, helping us to share our content more widely and reach out to a broader range of people. For example, Twitter enabled us to reach new groups of clinicians; we talked about our research on district nursing in a Twitter chat with the We District Nurses community, reaching frontline nursing staff and nursing students. Our content that explains the health and care system has also helped us to extend our reach – for example, we saw a significant increase in social media followers on Twitter and Facebook following the update to our alternative guide to the NHS

Building on this work to engage digitally with people who work in and around health care, we have expanded our events programme – which brought more than 4,200 people to the Fund in 2017 – to include online events. These have enabled us to reach more people from a wider geographical area on topics ranging from integrated care to housing and health. We have also launched a new series of podcasts and are developing an online course that will provide an introduction to the NHS on an open access online platform.

What was the impact?

In our most recent website survey, 98 per cent of people said our website was good or very good as a reliable source of independent information and insight on health and social care policy.

 "I find the depth of information as always very thorough, timely and relevant."

"Without a doubt the best website on health and social care."

Our focus on digital communications has seen our website visits increase every year, from 231,198 average visits per month in 2016 to 248,389 average visits per month in 2017. This year-on-year growth compares very well with industry benchmarks. We have seen our social media presence grow in that time too, with Twitter followers increasing from 99,011 to 115,819.

Our online events have also enabled us to reach more people; on average, 800 people register for each event and we are reaching groups who don’t traditionally come to our events.

Really enjoyed the session… It’s a great way to stay in touch with current thinking especially when we are so far from London up here in Cumbria – much more cost-effective way in the current financial climate to learn.
Online event participant