A project harnessing social media has increased the rate of breast screening in the North Midlands and other areas, NHS Digital has reported.
It said the lessons of the project, led by the North Midlands Breast Screen Service in Stoke-on-Trent, are now being shared for wider use.
The service has been developed as part of the Widening Digital Participation programme and has led to a 12.9% increase in the local take-up of screening services, raising the area from 58th in the country to 11th.
It began with the creation of a Facebook page to provide information and reduce anxiety about breast examinations. The team also posted information about screening on community groups, and the Facebook Messenger service enabled women to make appointments and ask questions about the screening process.
In addition, general practice nurses and other staff were taught in social media skills to promote the service.
Nicola Gill, director of the WDP Programme, said: “Going to where people go every day, in this case a Facebook community group, allows us to connect and engage with people in a way that’s familiar and convenient for them.
“Pioneering models of health prevention and management like this are making a real difference in improving health outcomes for excluded communities.”
The experience of the North Midlands team has now been shared in other areas through a network of digital clinical champions and a partnership with Redmoor Health, a company that provides training in digital skills to the health and care workforce.
NHS Digital has pointed to further increases in the service take-up in parts of Lancashire.
The project is being further developed through working with Lancaster University to develop a chatbot to assist staff in answering queries sent through Messenger.
Image from US Navy, public domain