Case study: NHS Digital #BreastAssured generates 68,793 Twitter impressions

NHS Digital married traditional and social media, using an 'in-her-own-words' video from a real patient to garner 68,793 Twitter impressions, reams of media coverage and drive awareness of the breast surgery registry.

NHS Direct campaign used real life patient Alison Lattimer
NHS Direct campaign used real life patient Alison Lattimer

The aim of #BreastAssured was to raise awareness of the Breast and Cosmetic Implant Registry (BCIR), which houses data on people who have had or are about to undergo breast implant surgery, allowing patients to be traced if they face health concerns.

Starting on 9 March, the campaign – which is ongoing – had a number of target audiences, including patients who have had or were having breast implants, NHS and private surgery providers, Royal Colleges and other professional bodies and breast-cancer charities.

Activity was intended to increase the number of surgery providers that submitted patient data to the registry, while reminding them that they must seek permission from patients for their details to be recorded. At the end of January 2018, 39 per cent of NHS providers and 24 per cent of independent providers had yet to submit data to the registry, which was set up in 2016.

It also informed patients that they could register ahead of breast implant surgery or retroactively, highlighting that the BCIR's role was to safeguard patients' health by ensuring they can be contacted regarding any safety concerns.

Target audiences were also told that the BCIR was set up in response to the 2010 Poly Implant Prothèse scandal. When the faulty implants were recalled, a lack of records at the time prevented women being contacted or able to easily find out whether they had had this type of implant.

Traditional and social

Earlier this month, the NHS Digital comms team set a press release to national and regional media, while video content featuring a case study of real-life patient Alison Lattimer was adapted for various social formats, including Twitter and YouTube. This same content was offered to media to use in their coverage.

Direct comms were delivered to implant-surgery providers, including posters that could be displayed in waiting and consulting rooms.

Stakeholders were also targeted, including clinicians and professional bodies, who used the posters and tweeted about the campaign.

The activity achieved widespread media coverage, including on BBC Radio 2 and 4, BBC1, Press Association, Sky and BBC Online, while trade press also covered the story.

Reach and effectiveness

Social interactions provided the main measure of effectiveness, with Twitter activity resulting in 68,793 impressions, 515 engagements, 121 retweets, 97 'likes' and 8,322 video views. The video was watched an additional 1,500 times on other social networks.

The NHS Digital contact centre received a surge in calls following the media coverage. On average, the centre received six calls a week with questions about the BCIR. In the week before the campaign there were six calls; in the week the press release was issued, there were 62.

NHS Digital said it would continue to drip-feed communications "over the coming months and years to ensure new patients are also made aware of the Registry and how it can contribute to their safety". Measurement and the campaign's impact on registration numbers will continue to be monitored.

Rachel Royall, NHS Digital's director of communications, said: "This campaign made a real difference to patients, who are at the heart of everything we do. Sometimes dealing with data and technology can appear to be a bit impersonal, but this was very patient-focused, which people can relate to."

She added: "Communications can add real value to an organisation by showing how we can have a clear call to action and help change behaviour as a result, making patients safer."

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