15 December 2017
GPDU tips 5000 members with no sign of slowing
GPs Down Under (GPDU), which started life less than three years ago as an idea over a few glasses of wine among some Victorian GPs wanting to improve clinical communication and support among a few peers, has just past the 5,000 member barrier.
And the phenomenal growth of the private Facebook group doesn’t seem to be slowing at this stage.
According to Dr Karen Price, one of the group’s many moderators, the group’s growth is all about community, belonging and getting on with things using modern social media tools.
The group now regularly refers to their model as a National Park, where people can chat and argue safely, albeit robustly, where everyone is welcome, and where the atmosphere can be refreshing and a break from the rigour of everyday work.
The group has as its core values learning, peer support and advocacy. Asked if she felt the extraordinary growth of the group was somehow mirroring increasing discontent with the RACGP in the areas of learning, peer support and advocacy, Dr Price said that she felt the group was, in fact, a natural complement to the RACGP.
“I have a lot of respect for the role the RACGP plays,” she told The Medical Republic. “The things it does are vital, and at times inordinately complex. It isn’t work GPDU could, or would, do. We are here as a fast, free community sounding board, for rapid everyday help on clinical information, and for peer support. GPDU founders feel very strongly about the prinicples of open access and free learning, especially FOAMED, but that is all part of the community mix. Overall the sorts of debates we facilitate are good for GPs and the RACGP.”
” Our growth is more about that people discovering and enjoying just how simple, powerful and fulfilling modern social professional communications can be,” Dr Price said.
If the growth of GPDU isn’t already impressive, the engagement statistics of the group certainly are. Prior to the rise of GPDU, the most engagement online for GPs outside of their everyday was likely the comment streams of the trade newspapers such as Australian Doctor and The Medical Republic.
Australian Doctor’s comments streams receive something like 80 engagements per week, or about 4,000 per year.
GPDU does more than double that level of engagement, in a bad week.
In a typical week, the site will receive in excess of 450 posts, more than 6000 comments on those posts, and further 5000 reactions to those posts.
This is a level of engagement which is extraordinary in terms of any professional private online forum, within Australian and without. And it is growing at a compound rate of around 3% per week.
RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel, has been a regular poster on the site, as are other many other senior members of the College. During some significant events, Dr Seidel has chosen often to post on GPDU as one of his main sounding boards.
Dr Seidel is also a reasonably prolific user of Twitter, often taking to the platform to engage with members, and other industry personalities. His outward facing stance on social media engagement and preparedness to use these modern platforms and engage on them with his constituents is seen generally as a huge positive for the GP community. Many senior executives of companies or professional institutions remain afraid to engage with their communities when it comes to social media.
The RACGP is cautiously supportive of GPDU, a spokesperson recently telling The Medical Republic that supporting grass roots GP movements is an important role for the college, and GPDU was a very interesting one. Why cautious? Like any social media collective, things can go awry from time to time. The College like any other long standing institution or large company for that matter, is facing significant disruptive forces which challenge the norms of operation. Social engagement and in particular peer-to-peer learning is one of those disruptive forces
Where might GPDU be heading with its engagement train?
In the short term, the group is breaking out of its private online environment to hold its first face-to-face conference on the Gold Coast from 30 May to 1 June. The move follows the successful migration of other large doctor social media collectives to the face to face world, like SMACC (Social Media and Critical Care) and DFTB (Don’t Forget the Bubbles). In the case of SMACC the conference took just two years to break out into a global phenonemon which is booked out each year and hosts more than 3,000 delegates.
Says Dr Price: “For any online community the natural extension for deeper engagement is to meet in person. Most members are excited about meeting people they’ve met and engaged with online for a long time.”
GPDU is breaking its GP-only rule for the GPDU18 conference, throwing the event open to any healthcare professionals that wish to engage with the GP community.
This is particularly important, says Dr Price, in the context of how our profession is evolving towards more sophisticated, integrated-care models.
GPDU18 information can be found HERE
Tickets are currently on the super early bird discount until Christmas. The code for this 15% additional discount is GPDU18SEB. You can use it HERE
Note: The Medical Republic group and its cousin, Wild Health Summits, is helping GPDU organise GPDU18.