Hello my name is Kate. I trained at Edinburgh University and in our later clinical years we spent time in the surrounding district general hospitals. For me this meant making the journey over to Dumfries to complete my Medicine for Older People attachment. I was obviously inspired by this placement as once qualified I subsequently chose to train in that specialty.
Everything was going perfectly with my career and indeed my life. I was happily married to my husband Chris, we had a lovely home in Yorkshire and had a fantastic network of supportive family and friends. However, in summer 2011 our lives were to take an unexpected turn and change forever.
I became acutely unwell while on holiday in California. Initial investigations in hospital showed I had acute kidney injury secondary to an obstructive uropathy. The reason for the obstruction was numerous tumours throughout my abdomen and pelvis. Incurable cancer. Out of blue. Age 29.
I’ve been through a great deal of healthcare since then and as a doctor have been a keen observer of my experiences on the other side. It has made me reflect long and hard about my own clinical practice and really think about what constitutes good care. I have come to the conclusion that those factors are really very simple; quality communication; remembering the little acts of kindness can have the biggest impact; person centred healthcare with true shared decision making and always trying to see the person behind the disease or condition.
I have written, blogged, spoken about and tweeted most of my healthcare experience to date. This led almost two years ago to #hellomynameis. It was summer 2013 and I found myself unexpectedly in hospital with post-operative sepsis after a routine stent exchange. During that admission there were a fair few problems with my care, but it was the absence of something so simple, so routine that distressed me the most. An introduction.
No matter which discipline of healthcare you train in, I’m sure that introductions are covered as an important part of interacting with patients. In Medicine we even assign marks in exams for introducing yourself properly. But somewhere along the line in some places this simple courtesy has been lost.
As an avid exponent for both healthcare improvement and social media I decided that it was just not enough to simply complain. My complaint would be politely acknowledged but nothing would change. Therefore, after an inspiring conversation with my husband, in which I was plainly told to “stop whinging and do something”, we set off on the #hellomynameis journey.
On the 31st August 2013 I tweeted:
“Going to start a ‘Hello my name is…’ campaign. Have sent Chris home to design the logo.”
Who could have guessed that would lead me on a path to being awarded an MBE for services to the NHS and improving care? The concept is incredibly simple; use the immense reach of social media to remind, encourage and inspire healthcare professionals about the importance of introductions and their place in the delivery of person-centred care.
Since that first tweet we have been working incredibly hard spreading this message as far and wide as possible. I have lost count of all the conferences I have spoken at and all the tweets I’ve sent. The #hellomynameis hashtag has made over 200 million impressions on Twitter. It has spread all over the world. Our latest enterprise is the #hellomynameis tour where in the space of one week in June we are planning to visit 15 healthcare organisations to talk to staff about our story and how the campaign was born. I’m happy and excited to say that Dumfries hospital will be a part of the tour.
I dedicate a huge amount of time and energy to raising the profile of patient experience in the healthcare agenda. I feel it is something that is sometimes not given the prominence it deserves. But that is changing and the patient voice is becoming louder and more powerful. Patients need to know who is delivering their healthcare, to build relationships with and be able to trust those people. #hellomynameis simply reminds us all of that.
Dr Kate Granger MBE is an Elderly Care Consultant in Yorkshire. She will visit NHS Dumfries and Galloway on June 23rd 2015