It was in November 2012 that a friend of mine, Ros Gray of the Early Years Collaborative, suggested that I start a blog for NHS D&G. I had become interested in Twitter and the power of linking to research articles, national documents and blogs and Ros knew that Derek Barron, Associate Nurse Director for Mental Health at NHS Ayrshire & Arran, had established his blog, www.ayrshirehealth.wordpress.com, earlier that year. She introduced me to Derek and from then on there was no going back.
Derek sent me a detailed email outlining how to set up and start a blog and tips on maximising readership. I must confess there then followed a few months of inactivity while I toyed with the idea before finally taking the plunge. After setting up the blog itself I had to ensure I would have some interesting blogs to publish. I also had to decide what sort of content NHS D&G desired and what the underlying ‘ethos’ would be.
Passing the buck
I therefore emailed a mixed bag of nurses, doctors, pharmacists, managers, therapists and Chief Execs asking if they wished to contribute. The remit would be “900 or so words, any topic you wish but related to healthcare and pictures if possible”. So basically the content and ethos would be decided by them, not me!
By the time I had 14 willing bloggers I felt I could get started and set the date as March 22nd 2013. I had decided to emulate Ayrshirehealth and post once a week and as they posted on a Wednesday I decided to go for a Friday. I had booked a session on our Wednesday lunchtime meeting to discuss ‘Social Media in Healthcare’ but also launch the blog. This way I had no choice but to ensure everything was set to go.
Ready for launch
The final step was to obtain permission from senior managers and IT to use the DG2all email address so that I could email the link to all staff members of the health board weekly. @lauralougraham7 stepped up to the mark and agreed to provide me with our first blog, “Never underestimate the importance of safety briefs” and we were off.
In the past year we have had 50 blogs (2 weeks off for Christmas and New Year). 15 by doctors, 14 managers, 7 nurses and 6 Guest blogs. The rest are made up from IT, carers, AHPs etc. The most popular categories are person centred care, patient experience, communication, common sense and ethics. We have had a total of 20,731 views and 263 comments.
If you access the blog from the email link then this is recorded as ‘Home page’ so, unsurprisingly, this is the biggest hit at 13,301. However if the blog is accessed via Twitter then that blog itself is recorded and the biggest has had 727 views with 474 second to it. This drops down to a few blogs in the 20s and 30s.
We have had 19,365 views in the UK with 417 in the USA and 104 in Australia. New Zealand, India and Canada follow with 80, 65 and 59 respectively. There is a total of 87 countries worldwide where the blog has been viewed ranging from Tunisia to Trinidad and Tobago to Thailand. I am still impressed that we had a reader in the Philippines at the same time as Hurricane Haiyan was laying waste to the country. I would have imagined they had something better to do!
The year ahead….coffee
I think the list of categories above probably establishes what the ethos of the blog is but I have a slightly different take on things. Here in the Renal Unit in DGRI there is a longstanding tradition of starting the day with a cup of quality coffee. This involves general conversation that is extremely variable; the current headlines in the news, a new drug that’s been announced, the experience of a patient seen the previous day, an update from a meeting attended or just a funny story.
I like to think of the blog as a similar experience for everyone in NHS D&G and beyond – have a cup of coffee (probably not as good as an ‘Isles Special’) and spend 5 minutes hearing the thoughts and opinions of a colleague. It will probably not change the World or indeed Dumfries and Galloway but it may make you think a little differently about your practice or realise what happens in different areas of the Health Board. Or it may just make you smile. Whatever, I intend to keep the blog going for at least another year and hope you will join me.
I would like to thank Derek Barron (@dtbarron) for all his help and support in setting up the blog. I would also like to thank Ros Gray (@rosgray) for the inspiration and encouragement. I am extremely grateful to all the bloggers to date and would be delighted if anyone reading this would be keen to contribute. Please email me on email@example.com of you wish to have a go. Finally I would like to thank you Dear Reader for continuing to view the blog.
Ken Donaldson is a Nephrologist and Associate Medical Director at NHS Dumfries and Galloway