According to latest research Facebook™ is still the most widely used social media platform worldwide. In 2017 a local evaluation found growing appetite from Ayrshire service users to have a specific musculoskeletal social media page to facilitate education about common conditions. A musculoskeletal physiotherapy Facebook™ page for NHS Ayrshire and Arran was thus set up in April 2017 which helps promote a locally devised self-management website.
Initial exercise videos on the website were for anterior knee pain due to the evidence base supporting their use in self management. This innovative approach to rehabilitation implements Scottish Government digital drivers to focus health on prevention, anticipation and supported self-management.
The aim of this study was to determine whether a local NHS musculoskeletal physiotherapy Facebook™ page influences referral numbers into the service.
The NHS Ayrshire and Arran Musculoskeletal Facebook™ page was audited retrospectively via the 'insights' option to examine when educational content regarding our local website had been posted between January-December 2018.
Knee referral trends were also retrospectively audited to understand the patterns of referrals pre- and post-Facebook page launch. Conditions likely to give rise to anterior knee pain were included.
Data was also collated on the number of requests to access our website throughout 2018 to identify whether our Facebook™ posts influenced the number of service users connecting with the website
Over the 2016/2017 period the highest number of knee referrals was made in May 2017 (n=87), lowest was December 2017 (n=34).
In January 2018 the local musculoskeletal website was launched with self management and knee exercise videos. The musculoskeletal Facebook™ page posted links to the local musculoskeletal website on these dates with this increase effect in audience Facebook™ reach:
- April: 39889 increasing to 75930 in May (↑ 47.4%)
- June: 32500 increasing to 35076 in July (↑ 7.3%)
- July: 35076 increasing to 49211 in August (↑ 28.7%)
- October: 22607 increasing to 35182 in November (↑ 35.7%)
Throughout 2018 there were 14870 website requests in relation to 13 Facebook™ posts.
- Every Facebook™ post linking to our local website has been shown to increase the number of website requests and increased viewership on our Facebook™ page.
- The number of knee referrals to MSK has also dropped since advertising our self-management website via Facebook.
- However, targeted posts to enhance the profile of the local self-management website in 2018 did cause a minimal rise in the referral rate for the following month.
- Nonetheless, Facebook™ has been used as the main medium to advertise the self-help website resulting in a range of knee referral reduction between 11.6% and 46.6% over 2018, with the average reduction being 27.3%.
- Consequently, this innovative approach to rehabilitation shows that embracing digital technology can subsequently reduce referral rates into a musculoskeletal service. Thus, supporting Scottish Government drivers towards supported self-management.
Expand website self-management content for other musculoskeletal conditions to reduce referral rates and provide service-users with the right information at the right time to enable quick self-management for various musculoskeletal conditions.
This work was presented at Physiotherapy UK 2019