Social media can have a significant impact on debate around the NHS. We investigated online discussion around the hot topic of accident and emergency performance to reveal the top influencers, when debate kicked off and why.

  • Hover your mouse over each graph to see an explanation of each

HSJ worked together with public affairs firm Hanover and social network insight business Onalytica to scrutinise one particular period of intense activity around A&E performance in order to better understand online trends.

The A&E issues at the start of January and the ensuing news headlines and media airtime gave us the perfect case study. We looked at:

  • how debate was driven online;
  • how it was shaped by (and how it influenced) traditional media; and
  • who the most important influencers were, as well as identifying the connections that existed between different influencers.

For example, online debate began to spike by 6 January, which was before the national newspaper front pages led with A&E stories on 7 January, perhaps suggesting that something other than the news headlines has inspired the conversation.