NHS to Monitor Facebook in Cost Cutting Exercise

The head of a major NHS regulator has indicated that the health service will now monitor Facebook for comments about hospital services.

Trawling social media will apparently alert the Care Quality Commission to possible incidents of inadequate service, potentially saving the NHS a significant amount of money.

Social media monitoring can now be achieved in a very holistic and sophisticated manner, and it is thought that this could have a massive influence on the future of the NHS.

Complaints posted on social media could spark investigations if they indicate that services are not to standard.

However, the scheme has also brought criticism, with some analysts suggesting that this is an incredibly haphazard way to determine whether or not NHS services are performing up to an adequate level.

Nonetheless, Peter Wyman, the head of the Care Quality Commission for just a few months, indicated that the proposal has great potential, and could be a very effective way of streamlining resources and targeting under-performing institutions.

Wyman also suggested that the proposal was part of an overarching scheme to utilise technology more holistically within the feedback process of the NHS.

“A lot of hospitals are using social media in different ways. There is great potential there to capture people’s views. There are an awful lot of ways to capture what people are saying- it could be what people are saying on Facebook, it could be formal patient complaints, it could be what Healthwatch [local patient groups] are saying. If you have got a maternity unit which was good when we last inspected and suddenly you get staff and the public saying they aren’t happy then that is the time to be asking questions, rather than waiting for something awful to happen to mothers and babies.”

In December, The Care Quality Commission was heavily criticised by MPs who said it is “not yet an effective regulator.”

The commission was described as responding slowly to tip-offs, having “an alarming lack of attention to detail” and as struggling to recruit and retain staff.

The NHS continues to shore up its regulatory procedures, with the health service announced the creation of NHS Improvement some time ago.

And the new organisation set to go live in April.

NHS Improvement has been created by the merger of the NHS Trust Development Authority and Monitor.

The chair will be Ed Smith. Jim Mackey, from the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is to be the Chief Executive and Lord Ara Darzi will become a non-executive director.

KPMG were given a £1 million contract to produce an organisational structure for NHS Improvement in November 2015.

The new organisation will work closely with the Care Quality Commission in an attempt to improve patient experiences in the NHS.

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Report Suggests Teenage Tech Time Should be Rationed

A major think tank has strongly criticised the influence of technology companies over the health of young people in particular.

The Strategic Society Centre (SSC) has gone as far as comparing the influence of technology firms to tobacco companies.

Concerned about the impact of technology products on the mental health of young people, the SSE has called on technology manufacturing companies to take responsibility for the threats that their products pose to young people.

In particular, the SSC has mooted the idea of establishing guidelines for the recommended daily use of any technology product by young people.

The claims have been published in ‘Screened Out’; a report which particularly focuses on smartphone manufacturers and online social networking sites.

Contrary to the generally perceived public opinion of these aspects of our collective culture, the SSE suggests that both of these commonly utilised forms of technology can have a significantly negative influence on young people in particular.

The SSE calls on companies involved in these technological niches to consider how young people can be detrimentally affected by their businesses.

This possibly controversial, and certainly contentious, report was produced in response to research by Dr Cara Booker of the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, published in the American Journal of Public Health.

It found that 10 to 15-year-olds who chatted regularly on social networking websites and video game consoles were associated with greater possibility of socio-emotional difficulties.

Additionally, Booker concluded that particularly heavy use of popular technology such as smartphones, tablets and video game consoles can correlate with lower levels of happiness and fulfilment among adolescents.

In line with this report, the SSE has produced a series of guidelines that it believes would have a strongly beneficial impact on the well-being of adolescents.

It is hoped that the drawing up of these guidelines and the recommendations of the report in general will help encourage technology companies to acknowledge their responsibilities in this area.

While studies can often be contradictory with regard to technology, it has been notable in the past that companies such as video games producers have strongly opposed any suggestions that their games could be harmful.

Nonetheless, the SSC wants national guidelines to be issued on the recommended amount of screen time young people should engage with technology each day, while hardware and online experiences should also be redesigned to ensure adolescents’ general well-being.

Booker claims that the proliferation of social media and access to the internet through computers and handheld devices is “one of the greatest changes to society” in recent decades.

“One of the consequences of this increase in use is the effect it has on those who use it, particularly adolescents. The evidence regarding use of social media and wellbeing is growing and it is imperative that researchers, government and private industries work together to address the real public health consequences of poor wellbeing in adolescence becoming worse wellbeing in adulthood. This issue is not one that parents alone can tackle; it is one that requires government and private industry to raise awareness of the potential issues with prolonged use of social media for children and adolescents,” Booker stated.

In October, 2014, it was reported that by digital analysts at GSMA Intelligence that there are now more Internet devices in circulation than people.

This is only expected to exacerbate in the coming years as the Internet of Things becomes a viable mainstream technology.

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