All posts tagged Chief Information Offcier

Becoming the new boy…

Becoming the new boy again is always a nerve wracking event isn’t it? Remember the first day at school, new faces, new places and new ways of working? I am in week three of being the new boy in Leeds and I have never joined anywhere that worked so hard to make you feel welcome and part of the team as much as Leeds does; and at a pace that is quite extraordinary.

Induction would send the fear of dread into many a health IT person. Fire safety, manual handling, corporate values and orientation… ’Just let me get to the job,’ most of us would be screaming inside, after all we came here to do this job, we don’t need persuading anymore. But not one single new staff member can start within the organisation without attending, therefore induction it is.

So the Monday morning comes around and just like the first day at school I have my best new tie, my new note book, my new pen and I am ready for anything. Coming back to what you know, Leeds, the city, means that one of my best friends is there to meet me for a coffee before the induction begins. But straight away it feels different. New colleagues come up to say hello and welcome, before the (what I thought would be scripted) induction even begins and straight away it made me, the new inductee, realise, hang on, this isn’t a scripted event, this is real people with real values, and actually, OMG, everyone really does care!

Entering a room with around 50 other new starters immediately creates something of a new collegiate group of professionals. We are in this together and in time to come we will remember starting on the same day. No matter what our role, the people in the room are connected to one new thing, the care of patients at Leeds and The Leeds Way.

A lesson in Leeds is the first part of induction: what is there to be proud of? Firstly you are already blown away by the sheer size of the hospital, and this is one of several sites. Then it turns out parts are over 250 years old. Remember the amazing work of Kate Granger. Personalising and making human the interaction with people who work in healthcare is also part of induction. Every one of the people on induction are using the ‘hello my name is…’ introduction line, instilling straight away the human nature of Leeds as an organisation.

The culture of the organisation is impressed upon a new person on day one. The brand of ‘#TheLeedsWay’ is distilled down to the key vision statements, not simply posters for all to see but real values that you quickly realise permeates everything that the team is here to do.

Leeds hospitals needs this team work, as the next realisation is just how busy the hospitals are. That week there had been between 550 to 600 discharges a day. If you didn’t realise before induction then it comes home quickly how important it is to every part of the organisation to be at the frontline of healthcare in the NHS, as Leeds is the centre for so many care initiatives, transplant scenarios and specialist care. As a new person working here you get the importance quickly of The Leeds Way and the Leeds Improvement Method in place across every job. Every ‘asset’ the trust has is asked to understand how to make the care journey of a patient a better experience.

Delivering care costs money, around £3m a day, and with over 1.5 million patients every year, you begin to build your own scale for the size and complexity of my new organisation.

Every induction group meets the CEO and gets to hear first-hand the vision for the future and understand how he believes every hand in the room is involved in building the Leeds Way. The leaders in the room also get to meet the Exec Team, truly making sure that the Exec Team is asked by every member of staff to model the values of the organisation.

I have worked in a number of health organisations over the last 20 years, yet never have I felt part of the team as quickly as I have at Leeds. The Leeds way of delivering induction means that I am a team member quickly and can help deliver the goals of the organisation as quickly as I possibly can.

Joining Leeds really does feel like joining a new way, #TheLeedsWay


Why be social…

A short blog piece first published on in April 2015.

The poor guys in editorial at CIO magazine must have had enough of me pushing social media at them over the last year as a topic that CIOs need to engage with to reach a wider audience and a tool that, as CIO’s, we need to ‘enjoy’ more.

I have a confession to make, I’m sorry, but I love social media’s place in the role of CIO. There I have said it, I’m not quite an addict and I try to limit myself to three re-tweets a day!

But why, and some CIOs have asked that very question, why is it a good thing and what does it do for me?

The reason I started using Twitter in particular was as an agile way of engaging with a team widely dispersed over a complex geography and cultural hierarchy. The communications team at my previous role were amazing at supporting the engagement of the team but the reaction time for any corporate communications team will never really satisfy a CIO who is trying to move forward a digital change agenda through engagement with a team.

In my new role in Ireland the role of social media in public sector is still crystallising for many. The health service is recruiting a digital communications leader and the ability for public to follow a twitter account to support them in quitting smoking is now accepted as extremely beneficial. Members of the government have quite active accounts and engage with the public in debate all manner of issues, health being high on the agenda throughout the country. But these are all small steps to truly making use of some great technology that is there to release benefit and is free to use.

Engaging with clinicians through the use of social media is starting to be a real possibility for my organisation. By using Twitter as a news feed for the larger programmes in the portfolio we have been able to create a working group of enthusiasts that have a tool for communicating with each other readily available on all the devices they may want to use. I guess an example of bring your own ‘device’ in action, kind of!

As a health service the ability to use analytics on top of the social media data pipes is an ambition, the urban legend that the high street shop is able to spot a pandemic from the use of analytics over the top of loyalty cards goes one step further when one considers the ability to analyse what people are willing to share via social media. In a recent pilot in one of the Dublin hospitals social media was used to gauge satisfaction with patient experiences in the hospital. The results were startling as was the new working practices hospital management were able to put in-place to support the improvement of patient experiences.

What are the risks though? Well there is an obvious risk, what you put on social media is meant to be there for all to see, there are many lessons learnt from people who have either accidentally on in a fit of pique commented on something they then come to regret. Not to mention the ability for most social media apps to know a different word for the one you just spelt incorrectly! A key lesson, stop, breathe deeply, read it again, then post!

The way in which you use social media as a CIO is also a risk, the whole concept of listening as well as talking needs to continue to apply in social media communications as it does face to face. Twitter is not just for broadcasting! There is also the element of being a human; engagement on social media is about a conversation not just a statement. Twitter is not a numbers competition too, and it is very easy to fall into that trap, it’s not the number of random followers that counts for a successful adoption of a social media platform but the engagements that are made.

At a recent strategy launch event we created a ‘#’ for the event and the preparation in the run up. Whilst it was less than 25% of the attendees that did engage via this mechanism it was a simple, cost effective and personable way in which the team could share their own perceptions of the day ahead, during and after the event. The output was a great barometer for the way in which the new strategy and operating model were being accepted by the whole team.

My focus initially for social media was the use of Twitter as we mature in our attitude to the medium we have been able to consider other elements of social media. Our first step into the creation of a podcast has also helped the wider organisation get a feeling for the new shape of technology delivery without having to present to thousands of people and encouraging members of the team to think about writing a guest blog has been shown to work in my previous role as a way of ensuring the organisation is inspired by more than one voice.

My enthusiasm for the use of social media as a tool for engagement with the full width of a CIOs communications responsibilities holds no bounds. My advice to anyone who hasn’t tried, give it a go see where it takes you but remember to listen as well as speak.