Why wont MY ‘thing’ go viral? by Ros Gray


Dreams are made when your great idea gets out there in this social world and goes viral. The very thought that thousands of people (likeminded as you) are looking at your good idea and thinking – “That’s a great idea, I could do that”
especially in our health and social care world when it isn’t necessarily the idea that’s new (although sometimes it is) but the ability to engage others to get them to follow your lead, for the benefit of patients and families.

So when things take off in this way, is it just good luck, or is there something we can learn? How does a good idea move from being MY great idea to something that a lot of other people want to do too?

In his New Yorker article ‘Slow ideas’ Gawande started my thinking on this topic (and a million other things!) when he discussed the evolution of surgical anaesthesia compared with the uptake of antiseptics to prevent sepsis. He described how the former spread almost worldwide in 7 years, the latter taking more than 30 years (and you might argue that the inability to clean our hands consistently even today means that we still haven’t cracked it).
It’s easy to imagine the difficulty undertaking any surgical procedure on a patient not anaesthetised (not least for the patient) – having your colleagues hold down the poor patient until such time as they (hopefully) passed out with the agony of the ordeal. Then you hear of an innovation where the patient inhales a gas and goes gently to sleep, allowing the procedure to be done with ease – a no brainer in terms of its likelihood to be adopted by others… and swiftly! The action of holding down the screaming patient and wrestling to undertake the procedure was clearly very personal and real for all those present.
However, the use of antiseptics to prevent an infection that the practitioner might never even see personally, leaves a lot to the imagination and limited personal cost, with the exception more latterly of professional reputation and in some quarters accreditation.
This situation was also exacerbated by the unpleasantness of the environment, where the practice of good antisepsis in the early days meant that theatres were gassed with antiseptics, hands scrubbed raw with early chemicals – all to prevent something that the practitioner might never witness… Perhaps, then, it’s easy to see why that adoption took longer than 30 years. Or is there more to it than that?

Gawande’s article goes much further and is very thought provoking but he fundamentally sets out how, if we want our ‘thing’ to be taken up by others at scale, then “…technology and incentive programs are not enough. “Diffusion is essentially a social process through which people talking to people spread an innovation,” wrote Everett Rogers, the great scholar of how new ideas are communicated and spread.”
He goes on to say that while our new social world can get the ideas out there
as Rogers showed, “…people follow the lead of other people they know and trust when they decide whether to take it up. Every change requires effort, and the decision to make that effort is a social process.”

I think these might be key concepts for us to consider with our personal improvement efforts. How hard do we make it to do the right thing?

Looking around at some other recent great ideas gone viral that I have become aware of – I thought it might be helpful for us to take a closer look at these and consider their spread from this perspective – I thank Delivering the Future Cohort 11 for their help with my developing thinking #DTFcohort11.

And also to consider how would the business world more broadly consider this issue?
Great marketers certainly start with two concepts that absolutely relate to our world and reflect Gawande’s thinking:
Know your audience
Make an emotional connection.

So looking at 3 examples of great ideas that have gone viral a little closer to home, can we identify the critical success factors that made them work so that we can apply that learning to our own work?

Case 1 – What matters to me


Who Jennifer Rodgers @jenfrodgers Lead Nurse for Paediatrics NHS GG&C
What What Matters To Me (WMTM)

WMTM is a 3 step approach

1 Asking what matters

2 Listening to what matters

3 Doing what matters

Why “Clinicians, in turn, need to relinquish their role as the single, paternalistic authority and train to become more effective coaches or partners — learning, in other words, how to ask, ‘What matters to you?’ as well as ‘What is the matter?’”
Where Yorkhill Children’s Hospital Glasgow – global
When Last 4 years
How Originally Jens’ Quality and Safety Fellowship project, building on the concept of Lauren’s list in the USA; national and international presentations, Used the Model for Improvement as the improvement method. Started by asking one child to draw what mattered to them, and staff making every effort to include and react positively to this information –  now used routinely as part of the paediatric admission process. Spread includes other specialties such as the Care of Older People and those with Dementia.

Case 2 Hello my name is…


Who The sadly very recently deceased Kate Granger (http://hellomynameis.org.uk @grangerkate) a young doctor battling at the time with terminal cancer, made observations about the human interactions she was struggling with at a very vulnerable time.
What Kate decided to start a campaign, primarily using social media initially, to encourage and remind healthcare staff about the importance of introductions in healthcare.
Why She made the stark observation that many staff looking after her did not introduce themselves before delivering her care. She felt it incredibly wrong that such a basic step in communication was missing. After ranting at her husband during one evening visiting time he encouraged her to “stop whinging and do something!”
Where NHS England – Global
When Last 3 years
How Twitter campaign initially – #hellomynameis has made over 1 billion impressions since its inception with an average of 6 tweets an hour.

Kate has left an incredible legacy with #hellomynameis that will continue to impact positively for patients.

Case 3 The Daily Mile


Who Elaine Wylie – Headteacher (recently retired) St Ninian’s Primary School, Stirling


What The aim of the Daily Mile is to improve the physical, emotional and social health and wellbeing of our children –regardless of age or personal circumstances.
Why It is a profoundly simple but effective concept, which any primary school or nursery can implement. Its impact can be transformational- improving not only the childrens’ fitness, but also their concentration levels, mood, behaviour and general wellbeing.
Where St Ninian’s Primary School, Stirling – global
When Last 3 years
How The Daily Mile takes place over just 15 minutes, with children averaging a mile each day.

Children run outside in the fresh air – and the weather is a benefit, not a barrier. 

There’s no set up, tidy up, or equipment required.

Children run in their uniforms so no kit or changing time is needed.

It’s social, non-competitive and fun.

It’s fully inclusive; every child succeeds, whatever their circumstances, age or ability.

Elaine demonstrated huge impact on eliminating obesity in her primary one class that had stated the Daily Mile in Nursery.

In each of the cases the idea started with one individual who had a simple, sensible, not necessarily unique idea, but certainly something that was a bit different from the status quo – perhaps even challenging and making the status quo uncomfortable.
Each leader had a degree of power and autonomy in their local context, for Kate this was as an informed patient, so some might argue her ability to influence would have been limited.
Each idea was simple and easy to try in different arenas.
Each was free or relatively low cost to implement, even at scale.
The impact on patients or children was obvious or in the course of early testing clearly demonstrated.
Each leader used social platforms as a spread mechanism.
In every case, the idea clearly feels like it was the right thing to do, or scandalous that it wasn’t happening routinely, something each of us would want to happen if we were the subjects in question. Perhaps even the standard we apply every day in our professional or personal lives and assume that everyone else does too.
So clear evidence to support Rodgers view that “Diffusion is essentially a social process through which people talking to people spread an innovation,” – Perhaps the easy access to social platforms in these cases made ‘people talking to people’ helped in these cases?
Each leader knew their audience and played to that strength – but also and perhaps most importantly in each case, the emotional connection is huge, but each from a very different perspective.
Is the emotional connection the critical success factor in these cases – and something we should consider carefully if we want our work to spread?
Which emotions might you tap in to when trying to engage folk in your great idea? Emotions described in pairs of polar opposites might give you some food for thought and a place to start with your great idea:
Joy or sadness
Anticipation or surprise
Fear or anger
Disgust or trust

You will have many more thoughts than time permits here, but I leave you with a thought of mine… perhaps we all have an opportunity to use a more considered approach to the scale up and spread of good intentions by learning from those that have done that well.
If not you, who? If not now, when?


Simple checklist
How simple have I described my great idea – Have I got my 1-minute ‘elevator pitch’ worked out to easily influence others?
Does it feel the right thing to do?
Is it relatively cheap or free? If not who will fund the idea, now and then at scale?
Am I convinced that it isn’t happening to every patient/family every time, reliably? Do I have the data that proves that?
Do I have the power to influence, or if not, who do I have to get on board?
Do I have the data and story to describe how it works and how easy it is to adopt, including the impact?
What social platform for spread will I use?
Which emotions are triggered, or will I aim to tap in to, in order to engage people to want to do things differently?

Ros Gray recently retired from her post as National Lead for the Early Years Collaborative. Prior to that post she was Head of Patient Safety for Healthcare Improvement Scotland.


In Memory of Kate by @kendonaldson

Over the years compassion and kindness have been common themes on this blog and nobody encompassed them more than Kate Granger.


Kate was many things; Consultant geriatrician, campaigner, wife, aunty, MBE and patient. She was born and raised in Yorkshire and after qualifying in medicine from Edinburgh University returned there to complete her training in medicine for the elderly. She married the love of her life, Chris Pointon, in 2005 and then in 2011, at the age of 29, everything changed. After falling ill whilst on holiday in California she was diagnosed with a Sarcoma and given 12 – 18 months to live. Characteristically she decided to defy the odds and do something meaningful with the short time she had left.


I think it would be fair to say that prior to her illness Kate was a compassionate, caring and person centred clinician who inspired those around her. However her illness gave her a unique insight into how we deliver healthcare, in particular the ‘small things’ which we often forget – like introducing ourselves. It was during a hospital admission in 2013 that Kate noticed that none of the healthcare professionals dealing with her told her their names. The first person to do so, and show real care and compassion, was a porter. She reflected (and raged a little) about this and from that experience the #hellomynameis campaign was born.


#hellomynameis is a great example of a very simple idea which has the power to make a difference. It started on twitter and progressed to name badges, internet memes and finally circled the globe. During the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa those caring for the afflicted could write their name on a #hellomynameis sticker and attach it to their protective suit and thus patients would at least know the name of those tending them. Many politicians and celebrities have endorsed the project and it has been adopted in many countries around the world. I for one continue to wear my badge with pride.

We were very fortunate that Kate wrote for this blog in 2014 just prior to her visit to NHS D&G. Her blog can be read here.


Since Kate died I have read many obituaries and blogs which are far more thoughtful, and certainly more eloquent, than anything I can hope to write. I would like to quote a few of them here.

Ali Cracknell, a fellow Geriatrician and friend had this to say on the British Geriatrics Society blog:

“I always thought we would work together long term, and the thing that makes me really smile is Kate is with me more than any other person at work. Every encounter with a patient “hello my name is …”, every MDT, every meeting with a new member of the team and every morning I put on my “hello my name is” badge, she is with me, she is behind every little thing I do every day, that just makes such a difference. How could one person make a difference like that?  “#hello my name is”, is so much more than those 4 words, Kate knew that and felt it, and we all do, it is the person behind the words, the hierarchy that melts away, the patient:professional barrier that is lowered, the compassion and warmth of those words.”

Just Giving, the website through which Kate raised over £250,000, described 5 Lessons they learned from Kate. You can read them in depth here but the 5 lessons are:

1) We need to communicate
2) Always rebel
3) Remember romance
4) Make goals
5) It’s ok to talk about down days

A little more about number 3, Remember romance. Just giving had this to say about that…

“Kate and her husband Chris have set the bar high when it comes to romance. Throughout Kate’s journey, she never forgot to mention how important her partner is to her and how lucky she feels to have met her soulmate. After the diagnosis, the couple recreated their wedding day and renewed their vows. They even did their first ever date in Leeds all over again.
The duo did absolutely everything together, including competing in fundraising events.
Seeing Kate and Chris wine, dine and care for one another teaches us to never take our loved ones for granted, and to remember romance. The couple remained incredibly close and strong for the duration of Kate’s illness, and managed to maintain an amazing sense of humour in the darkest of
times. It reminds us all to reflect on how we treat our partners.”


The BMJ published a particularly touching obituary which can be read here.

I will end with a quote from Macleans, a Canadian weekly magazine…

“Jeremy, Jackie, Tasha, Lucy, Pam—Kate’s doctors and nurses had names in her blogs and Twitter feeds. Outliving expectations by three and a half years, she met her fundraising goal of £250,000 for Yorkshire Cancer Charity, encouraging doctors worldwide to say hello, as she herself said goodbye.
On July 23, 2016, on her 11th wedding anniversary, three days after meeting her fundraising target, Kate was lying in her hospice room, no longer able to swallow. Christopher opened a bottle of champagne and placed drops on Kate’s lips. Caretakers called in her other family members. At 3:50pm, after Adam and Christopher’s mother had arrived at her bedside, Kate stopped breathing. She was 34.”




Ken Donaldson is Deputy Medical Director (Acute Services) at NHS Dumfries and Galloway

Kate Granger by @kendonaldson

Last week on dghealth Kate Granger told the story behind her #hellomynameis campaign and on Tuesday 23rd June NHS D&G were delighted to welcome her to the Easterbrook Hall where she spoke to over 150 healthcare professionals.

Kate Granger and audience crop comp

Kate, and her husband Chris Pointon, had embarked on a two week whirlwind tour of 15 healthcare organisations around the UK to promote their campaign. We are really privileged as Dumfries was their only stop in Scotland and early on in her presentation Kate explained why. As part of her clinical attachments at medical school in Edinburgh she spent four weeks in Dumfries working with Dr Ian Hay in Elderly Care medicine. She had such a good time, and was so inspired by Ian, that she chose to specialise in Elderly Care and is now a Consultant in Yorkshire.

Kate Grnager TalkingIt is difficult to find the words to describe how humbling it was to hear Kate tell her story. She is very matter of fact about her diagnosis of terminal cancer, her journey through chemotherapy and the complications that ensued…and her prognosis. The power of a clinician seeing care “from the other side” cannot be underestimated.


On one occasion, after a change of ureteric stents, Kate became unwell with a fever and had to be admitted to hospital. A nurse took her history in the emergency department, as did a young doctor and another nurse administered antibiotics. She is unable to tell us their names as they never told her. In fact the nurse who gave the antibiotics didn’t even check her name band or allergy status before plugging her into a drip and starting them running – all the time talking to another colleague.

Kate Granger and students comp ii

However she did remember Brian’s name. Brian was the porter who took her from the ED to the ward. He introduced himself, asked her how she was, recognised she was in pain and ensured that he pushed her bed slowly over all the bumps as to minimise her discomfort. In short he was kind. He cared. Unfortunately there were other examples of poor introductions and she found herself ‘Emotionally Reflecting’ (or as Chris pointed out ‘Whinging’) about this and decided to do something – hence #hellomynameis.

This is about more than just an introduction. It’s about effective, skilled and compassionate communication. It’s about the little things, a smile, a hand on hers, the offer of a drink. It’s about true person centred care and seeing every patient as an individual, a person. ’See me’ as Kate puts it. If when you enter a patients room you lower yourself to their level and introduce yourself with a smile then your conversation will follow a different tack than if you stand towering over them eulogising to the entourage of nameless followers at the end of the bed.

Hazel Borland Kate Granger Jeff Ace and Chris Pointon crop ii

Kate is now an MBE. She has met numerous politicians (all rather keen to jump on the bandwagon!!) and celebrities and the #hellomynameis brand is now truly global. Hospitals in many countries including the USA, Australia, Italy and Sierra Leone have embraced it. The latter example is extremely powerful as, during the Ebola outbreak when clinicians were forced to be completely sealed in protective clothing, #hellomynameis stickers could be put on the visors of helmets so that patients would know the name of the doctor or nurse caring for them.

Kate’s talk was inspirational. The courage she and her husband demonstrate in touring the country telling her story time and time again is breathtaking. I know I can speak on behalf of everyone who made it to the Easterbrook by saying how proud we all were to have met Kate and Chris. While Hazel Borland and I waited for her to arrive we both confessed to some nerves at meeting this celebrity. We told Kate this and she responded “but I’m not a celebrity, I’m just a normal Yorkshire lass” and this was what came over throughout her visit. Despite everything she has been through, and all she has achieved, she remains grounded, normal and human.

Kate’s talk was recorded on video and will be available for all to watch soon.

Kate Granger and Ken


#hellomynameis….Kate by @GrangerKate

Hello type_RGB_for webHello 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.

MY imageEverything 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.”

nursing conferenceWho 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.

With PM

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

Stronger through Technology by Laura Lennox

Lennox 1Love it or hate it we have all heard of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. If you do use social media you will definitely have heard of and even participated in the ‘bare face selfie’ or the ‘ice bucket challenge’ successfully raising awareness of specific conditions and increasing donations for certain charities. With this in mind, our speech and language therapy team decided to create our own department Facebook page and Twitter account in order to raise awareness of the specific speech, language, communication and swallowing needs our service users encounter and how this impacts on their lives. “How hard could it be?” we naively thought.

Lennox 2Several hours later the job was done and, although it was slightly harder and time consuming to do than we initially thought, our reason for sharing this experience is because we could not have predicted how successful this venture has become. If you aren’t already familiar with us, we are the small(ish) adult team made up of speech and language therapists (SLTs), SLT support workers and one A&C based at DGRI and the Galloway Community hospital. So for a small(ish) department, you can understand our excitement at the fact that we currently have over 100 Facebook and twitter followers and this number continues to grow. So we’ve come up with four reasons why we believe the use of social media in professional practice can be a positive experience.

1. If we can do it then anyone can.

Lennox 3I have already hinted that it was initially harder than we thought but that’s because the social media skills within our team were (and still are) pretty limited. So if you’re in a similar position, then here are a few pointers as to how we went about it. Our first step was to check in with D&G NHS Communications department to make them aware of our plans and gain advice as to how best to do this in a way that would not get us sacked or struck off the HCPC register. Joke! (I think….). The next step was to sign up to Facebook and Twitter using our generic NHS email account. For Facebook, we followed their straightforward online instructions on creating a business page (we had to google it!). The admin section allows for each SLT and support worker to be involved in managing the page and posting information. This was important to us, not only because it is less time consuming than one individual being the sole person responsible, but because we all have our own particular areas of specialist interest. (It means we can post out information that is relevant in all professional areas within speech and language therapy). We then linked our Facebook page to our Twitter account meaning our Facebook posts would also be tweeted and vice versa, saving even more time than trying to manage the two accounts. Twitter is somewhat easier and anyone with an email address can create an account.

2. Raising our profile.

Our professional body, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), have been involved in creating a campaign called Giving Voice. The aim of the #GivingVoice campaign is to raise the profile of our speech and language therapy profession and in their words “demonstrate SLTs unique value and evidence of our efficiency and value for money in a time of financial constraints”. Very important stuff that every NHS department can relate to. We do this by sharing posts and retweeting from the relevant larger organisations social media sites such as the RCSLT, Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS), Alzheimer Scotland, Parkinson’s UK, British Voice Association, among the many other organisations where speech, language, communication and swallowing difficulties can be a symptom of the associated medical condition they represent. But the more exciting part for us comes when trying to think up our own ideas to raise our profile.

Remember I mentioned the social media ‘ice bucket challenge’ campaign earlier? Well you have our permission to have a good laugh at this video we posted on Facebook and Twitter with the very good intention of raising awareness of our role in supporting people with communication and swallowing difficulties as symptoms of Motor Neurone Disease:

Lennox 4


SLT Ice Bucket Challenge


Definitely think our friends from domestics enjoyed this more than us!



3. Health Promotion.

Lennox 5Using social media has even inspired us to get creative in our approach to health promotion. A recent project at the beginning of this year was for World Voice Day, 16 April 2014. Approximately a third of people working in the UK depend on their voice to do their work. The British Voice Association estimates that the cost of voice problems (dysphonia) to the British economy is approximately £200 million a year. Not including the impact dysphonia can have on general health through associated stress and depression from potential loss of work and social isolation. We created a social media blog and video to raise awareness of the importance of our voice for work and when and how to seek help early. We uploaded the social media video on to YouTube and shared it and the blog with DGhealth and our followers on Facebook and Twitter. Over 600 people took the time to engage in our World Voice Day social media campaign. It’s hard to think of any other more effective way to reach so many people in such a short space of time

  1. Social Networking

Social networking can be an innovative way to share your practice based evidence directly with the people and organisations that will be most likely to benefit from it the most. As part of NHS DG dementia champion’s project, Rebecca Kellett, our SLT #dementiachampion, created the ‘communication and mealtimes toolkit’. She has since been invited to present the toolkit at both the RCSLT and Alzheimer Scotland day and also at the European Alzheimer’s Conference. The slide below demonstrates some of the Facebook posts and @SLT_DG tweets highlighting these exciting opportunities:  

Lennox 6

But before you think this is all about blowing our own trumpet (!) – If you look more closely at the examples given, can you see the use of # and @? The use of # ensures that anyone searching twitter for information on dementia, for example, will find this tweet. The use of @ means you are directly ensuring any relevant organisations or person’s will receive this information via their twitter notifications. And if you are really lucky, as we were in this example, then hopefully these people/organisations will retweet your message. Alzheimer Scotland retweeted the link to the toolkit to their 10,000 or so followers meaning that many carers across Scotland are now aware of this practical and useful resource for the people with dementia they are caring for.

So as we are drawing closer to the end of this blog maybe you are now hopefully feeling the love for social media a bit more? And maybe even inspired to give it a go if you haven’t already? I should say at this point that we don’t have access to these social media sites through the NHS unless requested and rightly so. But this is something that we are all happy to do out with working hours because it really doesn’t take up too much of our own time. I guess this is also a good time to say, if you are thinking of giving this a go, then stay professional at ALL times. There is no denying that the use of social media is open to abuse; no one wants to know what you are having for your tea. I keep my own personal social media accounts for this more personal information (and even then people really don’t want to know what I’m having for my tea). There is guidance on the use of social media on the intranet that you can refer to if you’re not sure what acceptable use is. You don’t even have to do what we are doing and create a department account; many people within NHS Dumfries and Galloway have their own professional social media accounts. And lastly, you don’t even have to do daft things like tipping icy cold water over your head to create interest. The example below shows how one wee tweet, every now and again, can go a long way.


Lennox 7

We tweeted a happy world voice day message to @kendonaldson, Associate Medical Director, Renal Consultant and dghealth guru, who replied and retweeted our message. This then led to Paul Gray (CEO, NHS Scotland and Director General Health and Social Care, Scottish Government (if you didn’t already know)) joining in the conversation and retweeting also. Result! 


Lennox 8The Office of National Statistics suggests that eight out of 10 adults in the UK now use the internet on a regular basis. If you haven’t already used social media to raise your professional and service profile, then we would highly recommend it. If you have done so already, then find us, follow us, like, share and retweet us, and we will repay the compliment. We can stay stronger through technology.


Lennox 9

Further Links:

Lennox 9.1

Pictured from left to right is Kim Harkness, FairyBodMother. Jade McIntyre, Fitness instructor. Laura Lennox, Speech and Language Therapist and Lynsey Swales, fitness instructor. Thanks again to FBM fitness academy and all the Fairy Bodlings who participated.


  • And, if you didn’t get the chance to read Becky Davy (SLT) World Voice Day blog first time round then here it is again:


  • Please click on me for more information

 Lennox 9.2

Laura Lennox is a Speech and language therapist at NHS Dumfries and Galloway

One year on….by @kendonaldson


BlavatarIt 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!

Ken 2By 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.

Ken 1We 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.

Ken 3I 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 kdonaldson@nhs.net 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


Leadership in a digital world by @dtbarron

Over the past few weeks, because of various activities I’ve been involved in, I have been considering leadership within a digital environment, specifically related to social media. derek1

Instantly two questions spring to mind 1) what do I mean by leadership? and 2) what is social media?


Malby in 1997 described leadership as “an interpersonal relationship of influence, the product of personal character rather than mere occupation of managerial positions”.   Bennis and Nanus add to this by described leadership as ‘influencing and guiding’ as having a ‘future focus’, a ‘vision for the future’ while remaining in the present.

The key aspects that interest me in relation to digital and social media leadership is the ‘interpersonal relationship’ and ‘influencing/guiding’ components of these descriptions.  To me they are key in my own engagement with social media, my own role as a leader.

Social Media

So, what is social media – it’s those FaceBook and Twitter things isn’t it, celebrity gossip and nonsense about what someone is having for their dinner?  Yes, these two systems are part of the social media landscape, and yes there are celebrities on them – however it’s so much more than that.  Perhaps you haven’t consider that the very act of reading this blog means you are engaged with social media albeit it in what can be described as a more traditional approach to it.

Social media is an overarching term describing a wide range of ‘platforms’ that enable people to interact with one another:

derek2  The infographic (www.fredcavazz.net) visually helps to describe the core aspects of social media.  NB the 2013 version of the infographic has been simplified into four categories, follow the link if you want to see the 2013 version.

The infographic shows clearly that social media has multiple uses and multiple systems to use depending on what it is you want to achieve, who you want to engage with and who you want to share your message with.

In this blog I only want to focus on one platform – Twitter and share why I use it.

Some stats

80% of the UK population access the internet on a regular basis

60% of the UK population have a smartphone

The sixth most used app on a smartphone is – the phone: behind SMS, camera, Twitter, Facebook and internet browsing.

These stats simply demonstrate we are living in a changing world, the landscape around us is a dynamic place where people are doing things differently, where engagement happens in ‘new’ ways.  We have a choice embrace these developing networks as leaders or be left behind.  To be honest, I know some people who are very happy to be left behind – is that you?  If it is, don’t worry social media isn’t for everyone, we went through the same ‘pain’ with email and some still don’t see the need for it – to be fair, why would they when we’ve still got pigeons?


derek3  From my personal perspective I use a variety of social media platforms to engage with a wider community – Twitter, Google+ (struggle to understand it), WordPress (use it frequently), About.me (use it but not sure the point of it), Tumblr (just started to use it), LinkedIn (got it, but not sure why), Instagram (got it, seems pointless), Vine (too old to understand it or find a reason to use it) and even have a Facebook account (only post my blog to it – I’m not a fan!).  Some of them I don’t really understand and only have them because I’m curious what they do, others I use more frequently to share and shape opinion, to listen to the views of other healthcare professionals as well as people using our services.

My most used medium is Twitter which is a key engagement tool for me in sharing with a much wider community than I could every have hoped to do by ‘traditional’ means.  At an event I was at last week #techlearnscot @jonbolton used a quote from Douglas Adam’s  Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy

 “I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:

1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

 We are all aware of the age profile of NHS Scotland (indeed Scotland as a whole) – perhaps Adam’s explanation helps us understand why I’m often told “I don’t do Twitter”  as it’s obviously against the natural order.  In fairness, since 35 was a long time ago for me, it might also explain why I don’t really understand some of the other social media systems I mentioned above.

I’ve been on Twitter for two years, the first six/eight months I didn’t tweet and only looked at it perhaps once a day or once every couple of days.  I now use it daily, I enjoy engaging with a wide network of people from across the world.  I get to share events as they occur and help to influence thinking of others, while also being influenced.

A key use for me is to access contemporary information, research and academic papers.  The fascinating thing for me is, as I now follow people who have similar interest e.g. mental health or leadership, I have information that is of interest ‘pushed’ to me, I don’t always need to go looking for it.  However it also widens my interests by having information ‘pushed’ to me that I ordinarily wouldn’t go looking for, simply being on Twitter has expanded my interests and knowledge.

Most of our conferences and events across NHS Scotland have twitter #tags, this allows me an insight into what is happening elsewhere when I am unable to attend.  I enjoy being influenced and challenged in my thinking, often tweets from conferences contain simple reminders of why I am a nurse – I never get tired of refreshing my commitment.


Traditional hierarchies do not exist in the same way within the social media environment, access to people who you would not ordinarily have contact with are open to anyone (I blogged previously on this topic).  We work in a system that aims to be more transparent, to be more approachable to ensure we have people at the very centre of care.  Twitter is one more medium through which we can listen to the views of others – those using services, colleagues and the wider healthcare world.  Our new Director General and Chief Executive of NHS Scotland is on Twitter (@pag1962) why not open an account and connect with him today?

Quick tips

Open an account (free) add a picture and a short biography (my advice for those who are professionals is to identify yourself as a professional).

Find someone you know is on Twitter and look through who they are following – if anyone they are following is of interest then you simply follow them as well.

Check it once a day, just have a look, no need to tweet anything.  Retweet something that interested you, only once you feel comfortable do you actually need to tweet something original.

Enjoy it – and if you find you are not enjoying the interaction and the engagement, then simply stop.  At the very least you’ll have empirical evidence of why its not for you and not simply because your over thirty five! (NB youngster <35yrs can ignore the last statement).

Some suggestions to get you started:

  •  @kendonaldson
  • @hazelNMAHPDir
  • @personcntrd_DG
  • @jeffAce3
  • @davidTheMains
  • @weemac63
  • @dghealth
  • @ayrshirehealth
  • and of course my own Twitter account @dtbarron

A final thought – does anyone know what the sixth most used app on a smartphone is?  Tweet me for the answer – hope to see you on Twitter in the near future.

Derek Barron is an Associate Nurse Director in Mental Health at NHS Ayrshire and Arran. he is also the Editor-in-Chief of our sister (?brother) blog @ayrshirehealth