Welcome to the first instalment of dghealth. I have set up this blog as a resource for all employees of Dumfries and Galloway Health Board to share knowledge, ideas and achievements. There will be no theme or corporate vision and I hope the topics, whilst maybe not appealing to everybody all the time, will help spread experience and opinion and ultimately improve communication across NHSDG.
Last November I was introduced to Derek Barron, Associate Nurse Director in Mental Health NHS Ayrshire & Arran, who set up a blog entitled Ayrshirehealth (www.ayrshirehealth.wordpress.com) and his enthusiasm and success spurred me on to do likewise in D&G. Ayrshirehealth has been read by more than 5000 people in over 100 countries and has many guest bloggers from out with NHSAA. Around the same time I was introduced to the wonders of twitter and have since embraced social media and its use in healthcare.
I set up my twitter account, @kendonaldson, in 2009. Up to November 2012 I had a grand total of 3 followers, had sent 2 tweets and, clearly, never used it. At a meeting here in Dumfries a friend of mine and prolific tweeter, @Rosgray, posted several tweets which included @kendonaldson. Ros has 400+ followers and within minutes my phone was bleeping away as people started following me. I didn’t really understand at first, why would a renal registrar in London who I hadn’t seen for months suddenly want to follow me? I then attended another meeting in Glasgow where professionals from other Health Boards, who I didn’t know, were coming up to me and asking how the meeting in Dumfries had gone. I was astonished that a few simple tweets had touched so many people and began to realise the power of social media.
I now have 49 followers (OK, not that impressive I know) and visit Twitter at least once a day if not more often and not only have I gleaned a wealth of healthcare information and opinion but I have made a number of very useful contacts too. I have also set up a twitter account for our Renal Unit, @DumfriesRenal and this blog, @dghealth. I am an amateur, there is a lot to learn, but I would encourage you to join me on this journey. As many people keep saying, Social Media is here to stay, lets embrace it and use it and not be frightened of it.
Patients and the public
Social media offers a novel opportunity to break down some of the communication barriers between service providers and service users. There is an assumption that when patients wish to comment on their care they only want to complain but this is not the case. Many wish to feedback positively. Service users now have many options to communicate with providers, if they are willing to listen! In the wake of the Mid-Stafford scandal and the Francis Report we have very little option other than to open our ears. If you take a look at the website Patient Opinion (www.patientopinion.org.uk) you will find many comments from service users, and a great number are positive. Health Boards have the ability to respond to these but, sadly, most responses are typically corporate and do not address the issue. If a patient makes a comment about a specific area then those directly responsible for that area; managers, consultants, senior nurses, should be responding and offering to meet them. If the message is positive then feed that back to all staff involved. It’s the same message as above; lets embrace this, not be frightened of it.
There are many ways to utilise the internet, social media and handheld devices to our advantage in healthcare. These include podcasts, apps, blogs, video-linking and even taking photos of interesting lesions on camera phones to send to an expert! I suspect we all use some of these to a certain extent but would be surprised at what else is possible. There are barriers. IT access to the likes of twitter and facebook can be limiting but I have been in discussion with IT here in D&G and believe restrictions to these sites will be relaxed soon.
Who knows what awaits us around the corner but I would like to think the future will hold one blog a week from dghealth for a long time to come. I have 15 bloggers signed up but will be looking for new contributors soon so if you have an interesting message, an improvement plan that worked, a lesson from a patient, anything that you feel would be worthwhile passing on to fellow D&G employees (and beyond!) then give me a call/email/tweet.
Thanks to @dtbarron for his help and support.
@kendonaldson is a Consultant at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary
Next Week: Laura Graham, Clinical Pharmacist, will be updating us on the safer Clinical Systems project.