As previously suggested, health organisations and others wondering how to harness the potential of social media should have a look at the efforts of the Australasian College of Health Service Management (ACHSM) in this area.

In the article below, ACHSM CEO Daryl Sadgrove shares what a difference social media has made for him and his work in the past six months, and suggests that it is one of the most powerful tools available to health leaders.

This article is cut and pasted from this Storify version (which may be easier to read). Sadgrove also mentions Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s recent foray into Twitter – a matter I take up at the bottom of his article.


Goal: To have every health leader and organisation using social media in 2012

Daryl Sadgrove writes:

Social media is revolutionising the way the world is communicating. It is not a fad, it is a paradigm shift. The power of social media has saved lives, overturned governments, directed policy, and now it is time to transform the way we deliver healthcare.

Healthcare is threatening the economic sustainability of entire nations, and will challenge their reputations as civil societies. Conservative projections suggest that healthcare demand over the next 20 years will double; dire projections suggest it will quadruple.

In Australia although the size of the health workforce has never been larger, to maintain the same health services into the future, workforce numbers would need to treble. By 2030, every state budget will be consumed by healthcare costs. The scale of the challenge is unprecedented. We need a transformational shift, now.

I have decided set myself a personal goal to seek out and share any ideas, innovations or breakthroughs that have the potential to transform healthcare. Hopefully by harnessing the influence and input of the @ACHSM network (which includes the largest group of leaders and decision makers in healthcare), we should have the people and the passion to turn these ideas into reality.

To kick off this mission, I propose that we start small by creating a social media revolution in healthcare! (Just to build a little confidence).

Our first goal is to encourage every health leader and organisation to start using social media in 2012. Imagine what would happen if all of the ideas, inspiration and messages of our healthcare leaders were communicated to everyone, all of the time. Imagine if all of the the plans, innovations and lessons learned by healthcare organisations were shared more freely so we could all learn from each other and get better faster. A future like this is inevitable – we just want ‘inevitable’ to happen in 2012!

Check this out…the revolution has already begun.


Mark Cormack is the CEO of Health Workforce Australia. He has been producing these quarterly reports for over a year now. He is communicating the vision of the organisation and provides regular updates on their progress. Imagine if every health leader was doing the same thing.

Leadership is about influence. Social media is like an influence amplifier. I think social media is one of the most powerful tools ever given to a healthcare leader, it enables you to extend your influence in ways never before possible.

Social media provides an unprecedented opportunity to share a vision, to make a case for change, to express your passion, and to right a wrong. These are the same things leaders were doing in Roman times, except now you don’t have to scream from the top of the Colosseum to have your voice heard!

Only 6 months ago I was largely ignorant of the value of social media for improving healthcare. I had a Facebook account which was strictly for personal communication between family and friends, and that was about it.

As far as using social media for work, or to improve healthcare, it hadn’t even crossed my mind. I actually enjoyed ridiculing twitter, and any twit who followed it. I knew nothing about posting a video, and I didn’t understand the power of that little ‘share’ button. But with a little bit of guidance, and lots of experimentation I have discovered a world I previously didn’t know existed.

Like many people, I needed to be gently dragged across ‘to the dark side’. These were the guys we engaged at the College to help us implement our social media strategy. They are 5 Star.

JPL Media – Web 2.0, Australia, NZ, Video Email, Mediasite …

So I began writing a blog, engaging with twitter, creating discussions on LinkedIn and posting videos like this one to communicate my message.

·  CEO Daryl Sadgrove launches new services for ACHSM.

Australian Health Service Management – Full Version

I feel like I have been born again into a world that is more connected, open, generous and transparent. I have found thousands of people around the world who are interested in EXACTLY what I am interested in. Even more surprisingly, I have found just as many people who are interested in me.

I even found a network of people who are passionate about social media in healthcare, called Health Care & Social Media in Australia and New Zealand. They have 1000 followers. #hcsmanz are a group of like minded people leading the way in this stuff. I often drop into thier weekly tweetchats at 8pm (AEDST) Sundays to realise how much more I’ve got to learn.

hcsmanz – Twitter

Sign up for Twitter to follow #hcsmanz (@hcsmanz). Health & Social Media in Australia & New Zealand. We chat on Sundays: 22:00N…

I am now connected with people in ways that was never before possible. Just the other day Tony Abbott (Opposition leader in the Australian Government) answered a question of mine while I was standing in line about to board a plane. Who would have thought.


So far we have had over 2000 views, more than 100 retweets, and hundreds of emails. We even started a competition to get our members to tell us how they describe thier job to friends at a BBQ. We received over 150 thoughtful responses, and we are now about to release a special collection of their thoughts. This is more than I could have ever achieved by shaking hands and telling my story.

That’s not to say that social media should replace personal engagement, it just amplifies what’s possible.

My job involves attending lots of health leadership events. I thought that others might be interested in the key points. So I decided to start live tweeting events like this…

“But what about privacy?” I hear you ask, “can’t you be held to account for saying something stupid on the Internet?”

Just treat online communications with the same prudent consideration as you would when writing a letter or an email – but just try not to sound too ‘prudent’. People want to follow real people, not legal departments or sales pitches. I think if you are living your life true to yourself and your beliefs, then by communicating your thoughts you are modeling something worth emulating.

If your workplace IT systems or policies won’t let you access social media sites, ask your employer to turn off the phones and email too. If you want to disenfranchise your customers and the community, you may as well do it properly!

Now this is a social media policy! Check out how Ramsay Healthcare is managing its social media strategy.


If you are thinking about creating a social media policy for your organisation, then check out these great templates by Bluewire Media. If you want some advice on your online and social media presence, they are another good provider (Toby Jenkins, the proprietor, also happens to be a former water polo olympian).

·  Free Social Media Guidelines Template – Bluewire Media

There are lots of other great resources on the web to teach you how to use social media…

Twitter Help Center | Twitter 101: How should I get started using …

LinkedIn Learning Center

Mediasite Player Loading

All you need to do is have a go. It’s free, takes 2 minutes to set up an account, and away you go.

Today I am having a go at writing this blog using a new social media tool I discovered called Storify. Cool isn’t it? It’s easy and fun to learn. So why not start a twitter account right now and follow @ACHSM to receive the latest news and debate for health leaders.I hear the author usually has some pretty good stuff to say (wink wink)…

So, let’s work together on tranforming our healthcare system, one revolution at a time! Let’s create a social media revolution in healthcare. We want to see every healthcare leader and organisation using social media in 2012.

Join the revolution.


PS from Croakey

Regular readers will know that Croakey is a enthusiast for the potential of social media. However, there are pitfalls and I think the Tony Abbott example cited by Sadgrove also shows the potential downsides of half-hearted engagement.

So far as I can see most of the questions to #askTony have gone unanswered. Some were silly and didn’t deserve a response.

But I’m sure there are plenty of people interested in knowing his answer to the question I asked (no reply yet, more than two weeks later), and many of the other questions as well.