A GP practice is launching a virtual patient participation group (PPG) to run alongside with its regular face-to-face meetings.
Adelaide Street Family Practice in Blackpool hopes that the existence of a digital group on Facebook will encourage more people to become active participants and contribute to the practice’s PPG.
The digital group is launching on 20 March, but the practice will be running a test session before the official release date.
In order to allow patients who cannot physically attend the face to face meeting to contribute to the PPG, the digital session will run at the same time as the regular PPG meeting.
Practice manager Luan Stewart said: ‘The virtual PPG opens up the opportunity to join for those who are deaf, housebound or disabled as they can do so from their own home.’
Ms Stewart said that she recognises the importance of technology in improving patients’ experience and that the practice staff is encouraging patients to join the closed group on Facebook.
She said: ‘We have also been seeing how we can use online videos. We have just published two videos, one showing what happens during a Spirometry test and what happens during a sexual health clinic.
‘Instead of just giving patients leaflets, we send them these to help set their minds at rest about what will happen.’
Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Communications and Engagement Team put their social media expertise at use to help the practice develop the virtual group, which is part of a primary care exemplar programme in Lancashire and South Cumbria to help practices use digital technology.
Digital Lead for the Lancashire and South Cumbria Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) Declan Hadley said: ‘I am really pleased to hear Adelaide has developed a virtual PPG through Facebook with our help.
‘We are delivering many programmes which will show the benefits of using digital technology for patients and for the workforce, because it can transform how people engage with services, drive improvements in efficiency and care co-ordination and help people manage their own health and wellbeing.’
Social media is on the rise in many GP practices, but practice managers need to be wary of unofficial Facebook groups for general practices that might spread misleading information and set up official Facebook pages with the appropriate protocols for managing them.