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Social media is an ally in health and can be used to improve patient literacy, says primary healthcare nurse Robbie Bedbrook, aka Nurse Robbie.

“Social media is the world we live in. We can view it as an opportunity, a way to reach people to educate and inform. If we don’t take it up it is a missed opportunity.”

Nurse Robbie is a Registered Nurse who works predominantly in Primary Health Care (PHC) with a special interest in sexual health, mental health and managing chronic illness. He has a passion for health promotion, social justice and PHC. Robbie’s goal is to improve health literacy, increase the uptake of technology and social media in healthcare and advocate for nursing.

In 2016 he founded the health promotion channel Hot on Health which seeks to use video content to improve rates of health literacy and promote the under-developed and under-represented field of PHC nursing.

“I also wanted to advocate for nurses and primary healthcare. If nurses are pushed out of the spotlight then PHC nursing is even more so. I believe PHC nursing is the future of preventative health and innovation.”

Evidence shows about 60% of Australians have low health literacy levels. Most Australians are consumers of social media and seek health information online, says Robbie.

“One in 20 Google searches are for health related information. Eighty per cent of people aged 18-34 year olds use Google to avoid seeing the GP.”

“Eight out of 10 Australians use Facebook. Fifty percent of Australians watch videos on YouTube daily. One in three Australians use Instagram.”

Social media is not the problem, says Robbie. “It’s how we use it is. Like anything there are a lot of positives and negatives. There has been the spread of misinformation, like that salt water can cure Ebola.”

In 2017, Robbie was a finalist for Recently Graduated Nurse of the Year in the Australian Practice Nurses Association awards.

He is the incoming Curator of the Sydney Global Shapers for 2018/2019. The Global Shapers is an initiative of the World Economic Forum to engage young people to improve the state of the world.

Robbie’s vision is for a global community that embraces and respects our own health.

“Health is not scary, nor should it always be viewed clinically. Our health is part of who we are, it defines us. Health is, and impacts on, our identity.

“Preventable health issues are on the rise and access to misinformation is easier than ever via the internet and social media. In order to make an impact, public health must meet this new trend in the way we consume information.”

Hot on Health provides an evidence-based but modern platform to engage technology users, says Robbie.

“Currently there is nothing like Hot on Health: multimedia, wide-ranging topics, interactive, social-media based and designed for people in the general public.

“It’s bright, colourful, fun and engaging. You have to be able to entertain people as well as educate them it’s so competitive. There are five million views on cute cats – they demand attention versus my public health message.”

Videos covering a wide range of different health-related topics are regularly uploaded to the Hot on Health YouTube channel, Facebook page as well on the website. For every video, a companion mini-essay provides a more detailed explanation of the particular issue. Topics come from common knowledge gaps and myths in health, those featured in current affairs and also those requested by viewers via the website. Topics have included: The Flu vaccine; Sexual health; Consumer centred healthcare; and What is bulkbilling?

Healthcare professionals need to understand the language people are using online to engage them, says Robbie.

“Provide health information that’s easy to understand. People don’t want technical language. Don’t use jargon. People need to know the information put together is by a nurse.

“Perhaps most importantly it is a nurse-led initiative; the value of nursing in policy making and healthcare innovation is often under-appreciated. It’s time for nurses to have a seat at the table.”

Nurse Robbie Hot on Health