If two heads are better than one, imagine what’s possible when you engage an even larger number of people in solving a problem or tackling a task.

This is called “crowdsourcing”: It’s a way to gather input from hundreds or even thousands of people, and benefit from a diversity of approaches and perspectives.

Crowdsourcing enables people with different expertise and experience to come together, in an online space, and offer suggestions and solutions.

This two-minute animation video explains more about how crowdsourcing works - and how crowdsourcing can create real change, rapidly, by generating ideas from the community.

There are several possible methods of crowdsourcing. 

One is to use a purpose-built crowdsourcing platform such as the #NHSChangeChallenge which has been exploring new and innovative ways of working in the NHS that have happened as a consequence of Covid-19 - and how we can ensure beneficial changes continue beyond the pandemic. 

The #NHSChangeChallenge has been focusing on trauma and orthopaedic services. Ideas and feedback from healthcare professionals in primary care, secondary care, community care, as well as people with lived experience, families, and carers have been sought and received.

Using a crowdsourcing platform means that you can set up a variety of 'challenges' around themes relevant to your issue or campaign. It's a diverse and inclusive process: people can post an idea or feedback on someone else's idea at any time day or night during the campaign. The ability for people to vote on ideas on the platform helps rank and refine contributions, meaning the community's collaborative effort help shape the next steps, rather than the traditional small group of senior decision makers.

The progress and achievements of the #NHSChangeChallenge so far were shared at the British Orthopaedic Association Virtual Congress today.

Another method of crowdsourcing is tweet chats. A tweet chat is a scheduled, organised conversation on Twitter focused around a specific topic. Anyone can join in a tweet chat, using the designated tweet chat hashtag. Tweet chats involve a very energised hour bringing together diverse people answering the questions posed and often presenting further ideas for consideration. 

Horizons has supported tweet chats for #Caring4NHSPeople, the outputs of which helped inform the content of the NHS People Plan ; and #Improve4Patients, which explored what the NHS improvement community are working on, and the support they need.

The tweet chats involved hundreds of participants from all levels and organisations within health and care, who generated thousands of points of feedback. The benefits spread beyond sourcing that feedback - the participants gained by sharing ideas and building new networks between one another, too!

If you would like to talk about a crowdsourcing project, get in touch with NHS Horizons or on Twitter @HorizonsNHS