For anyone to call themselves an expert is either a bold move or naive. Expert is not really a tag to which many can often justifiably attach themselves, rather it’s one that others attribute to them.

This week, however, I attended an event and met someone who I would have no issue if they labelled themselves an expert. Why? Because he was… a patient.

Michael Seres is, of course, above all a person and a hugely inspiring one at that; as well as a father, husband and much more to many.

The message he delivered and left at a recent event has left an indelible impression and thanks to those who shared my tweets and who I retweeted, I know I’m not alone.



Born in the USA

While I know a thing or two about bowels, I know little about living with the agony of Crohn’s disease nor of the trauma and pain of a transplant, so I would imagine Michael’s experience would test most people and their family to the limit. I can’t begin to even imagine.

So it is to his and his family’s credit that he and they are traveling his path by sharing opinion and experience of healthcare and social media with the sole aim of benefiting others. For example, this snap of his stoma on Pinterest (by his own admission, not for the squeamish) as well as his blog.

Ultimately, there is no one better placed to know and remind any service of what is working, what isn’t, where improvements can be made and why, than the people using them. Such as when Michael explained his journey and frustrations, for example that practitioner-public engagement through social media within healthcare in the USA is so much more advanced there than here.

I sensed round the room a collective appetite, desire and will to rise to Michael’s challenge. Let’s not kid ourselves here though, this is radical change and it won’t happen across the country overnight, as much as we all want it to. Don’t be disappointed to hear that though, the momentum is gathering and Michael has just injected some much-appreciated drive to the cause.

Quality and my ambitions

The solution is not black and white. I have to challenge delegates who ‘just want to do it’ through simply opening the floodgates to staff freely engaging through social media.

Sure, social media is in essence just another channel, like email and telephone. However, as much as I have a duty of care as a marketing-communications professional to make sure people’s experiences help to shape my work, I also have a responsibility to staff, including protecting them as far as possible from their unwittingly risky behaviour, particularly without being properly equipped.

I’m not saying don’t test, pilot and push the boundaries, but rather properly support staff to prepare for the change by putting in place standards, planning, training, systems, understanding, support structures, measurement, and strategic understanding about what we are trying to achieve, as well as undertaking and sharing appropriate research. Who are our audiences and where is it best to engage them?

As Ros Moore – Scotland’s Chief Nursing Officer, Patients Public & Health Professions – highlighted, let’s be consistently excellent in the quality of how that is all delivered.

I myself have my own vision, that is, to not just be consistent within each organisation but consistent in both how we share research about Scotland’s digital habits as well as the parameters or standards of measurement that we in the public sector adhere to.

I’m not saying be uniform as I know there needs to be flexibility, but rather simply being able to offer relative comparison between and across services. That kind of collaboration can not only benefit people using services but also offer efficiencies in how services are delivered. In today’s climate, that can’t be ignored.

Impossible is a state of mind

socmed surgery

I believe the end of the e-participation event is just the start of something special in Scotland, and having listened to the speakers, some of whom are very senior, I am optimistic.

My vision is driven by appreciating and wanting to learn more about social media measurement and evaluation; by opportunities I see on the horizon; and because people are actually already doing this and doing it now. We just need to share and develop that good practice.


So no need to start a revolution. Come on, let’s start an evolution.


Take it easy


More on Michael Seres:


9 thoughts on “Let’s start an evolution

  1. I agree Kenny, Michael’s presentation was indeed inspiring! It was good to see peer to peer social media working to support patients and their families through their journeys. It was also good to hear that clinicians and others involved in caring for patients are now starting to engage this way.

    As Ros Moore said, let’s accept that social media is not a passing fancy and is here to stay. It will undoubtedly morph as other platforms are produced but let’s engage with it efficiently and professionally within the public sector.

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