Hot on Health is hot online. Its creator and star, primary health nurse Robbie Bedbrook, explains why he created it.
The biggest lesson I have learned as a nurse, and as a person, is that there is no healthcare without self-care.
Working as a primary health care nurse in general practice I work with a lot of patients experiencing chronic illness. I also work with a lot of people who avoid the healthcare system at all costs, who have never been to the doctor, who have hypochondria and everything in between. Although self-care is individual, it seems nowadays a lot of it involves Google and social media.
One in 20 Google searches is for health-related information and one in five patients will turn to Facebook for health advice. I have had countless consults that start with, “So I was looking online…” or, “A friend sent me this article on Facebook about…” This is both positive and negative. The internet and social media have connected us in real time and given us access to a wealth of information. The risk involved is that a lot of information online isn’t evidence-based or is just flat out incorrect. How do you tell the difference?
I began searching for credible online platforms for my tech-savvy patients. I was baffled with how little I found. Evidence-based sites seemed rather dry. The engaging platforms were all opinion-based Influencers*. I began thinking I should just create the innovation I felt was missing from the online world myself!
This was my lightbulb moment and the birth of Hot on Health.
Hot on Health is a platform that makes health information easy to understand and accessible, using punchy, informal videos paired with formal articles. It’s accessible via a dedicated website and social media, Instagram @hotonhealth, for example. The topics are wide-ranging because my work is so varied. I have done videos on vaccines, wound care, mental health, acne, bulk-billing, sexual health and more! The videos are short, sharp, vibrant, articulate and designed to educate the general public. Each video is paired with a more formal mini-essay with references, giving my audience an opportunity to learn more and also to prove transparency. Videos are not a replacement for seeing the doctor. In fact, each promotes active engagement with primary health care. In a society where rates of preventable lifestyle diseases are rising we need to get people involved with their health before it’s already negatively impacted.
I am front and centre of Hot on Health. To me it was important to have a strong nursing presence. I want to promote nursing as a dynamic and skilled profession requiring discipline and intelligence and also to put a spotlight on primary health care, an under-represented area of health. I am a recent graduate from the University of Technology, Sydney where I completed a combined Bachelor of Nursing/ Bachelor of International Studies in 2015. I always knew I wanted to help people in my career. As a kid I spent a fair amount of time around nurses and doctors due to my haemophilia. I always had a profound connection with my nurses and it felt natural to become one myself. During university I worked in tourism at Sydney Opera House, which is where I was trained in public speaking and on-camera presenting. Creativity and health are my two biggest passions and Hot on Health is my way of combining them and giving back. It is my own form of self-care.
Why do we need a platform like Hot on Health? Firstly, social media and technology are not going anywhere. As health care workers we need to embrace technology and learn how to use it responsibly. Currently we are not doing so well! Hot on Health can educate healthcare workers on how to do this. Secondly 60 percent of Australians have low individual health literacy! With the rise of technology this is our chance to make a huge impact on this statistic and flood people’s news feeds with good, quality health information and dilute the pool of pop-culture pseudo-health.
In just nine months the reaction to Hot on Health has been overwhelming. My content has reached over 20,000 viewers, with incredibly positive feedback, and I have been featured in various media outlets. I was also invited to present at a conference on sustainable innovation in Switzerland last year and I recently presented at the annual APNA conference where I was awarded a finalist award for Recently Graduated Nurse of the Year [see photo].
Of course there have been challenges. Having an online presence means you are open to feedback from everyone. I have been criticised by anti-vaccine campaigners for my content around vaccine immunity and the flu shot. I have had commenters who disagreed in a strong and hurtful manner with my views on the importance of LGBTQI mental health promotion. I even had a nurse working in sexual health trying to discredit me. Does this bother me? Of course it does but I work hard to not let it demotivate me. I take solace in knowing that all my content is based on thorough research and current guidelines. Also all my information is generalised or personal and does not relate to any specific patient or third party. I feel most people making positive change will encounter negative feedback and controversy.
The future looks bright for Hot on Health. I am working with Primary Health Networks to create social movements in various fields of health and am drafting a big social media campaign around sexual health which I hope to launch later this year. I hope this platform inspires others to be online advocates for health promotion!
People are ready and keen for these kind of platforms to exist in the health space. Health is the most precious thing we have and we must evolve with society to ensure that we are doing our job to promote and protect healthcare so that we can be happier and healthier. Hot on Health’s motto is, ‘There is no healthcare without self-care.’
*Influencer is a term used to describe a person with a large online following who might use that online presence to promote a service, product or opinion.