All posts tagged IT Leadership

Health Leadership (UK & Ireland, the coming together!)

In November and December I was lucky enough to spend time with the IT leadership of the UK and Ireland, I collated the responses to a series of questions for an interview that HIMSS would then publish in two parts, here is the whole thing to give you a feel for how close the concepts of cross country collaboration are really coming along.

Some of the blog is written in the third person, it just felt a little odd interviewing your self without doing that, I hope you don’t mind.

Digital leadership in health in 2017 will have two crucial elements to handle, how to keep the ‘ship’ stable in times of change and how to deliver innovation in large, public sector organisations. In November the UK and Irish leaders of healthcare technology were face to face at a number of events that had these traditional pillars as the themes. Whilst they all accepted these had been at the heart of their focus for a few years now they still observed that 2017 would see a still further push to get these right or potentially fail to deliver for health in the countries they are responsible for.

The events where these leaders came together were, the Irish Innovation Showcase where Will Smart provided a key note that caused a pause in the IT leadership as they stopped to understand if they had the strategy right; the HIMSS Executive Leadership Summit where Andrew Griffiths provided an opening comment that got the whole crowd energised; Richard Corbridge then provided an opening statement with George Crookes at the Scottish Annual Digital Health and Care Conference that entertained and delivered a key message on the future and then finally Sean Donaghy who opened the first Island of Ireland collaborative Eco-System.

During this period of time HIMSS caught up with each of these leaders to get their views on what 2017 holds for digital in health and what they thought of the statements being made by each other and how they could support each other into the new year.

We went first to Will Smart at the Innovation Showcase. Will, what do you believe is the key to innovation in healthcare in 2016?

“Strong collaboration between leaders, healthcare professionals and patients is of fundamental importance. We need to move away from a paternalistic view of healthcare to one which truly embraces engagement and co working. As well as fostering the trust that is vital to the data sharing innovations that put cutting edge insight in the hands of clinicians, collaboration has the potential to create a culture which encourages, accelerates and inspires technological excellence.

That is why, through our NHS Innovation Accelerator and Global Digital Exemplar initiatives, we are supporting the most technologically innovative people and acute trusts to help them connect with partners, make networks and accelerate their innovations. We want to enable these pioneers to inspire others by showing how information technology can deliver both improved patient outcomes and enhanced business effectiveness.

Our patient centred agenda, combined with this type of collaborative support and leadership gives us a once in a lifetime chance to innovatively set technology to work for a system that’s focused on patients and led by clinicians.”

The concept of no longer being able to stand still have become key to the delivery of healthcare, will digital innovation be the route to avoiding this do you think?

“Absolutely. The NHS is under real pressure. Not only is the occurrence of expensive to treat conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and mental illness rising rapidly but we are all living longer and therefore need more care over the course of lives than ever before. So, to continue to deliver great care we must make our service as efficient as possible.

Innovation in information and technology is a critical part of almost all Sustainability and Transformation plans because it has immense potential ensure efficiency while making dramatic improvements to health and care provision, quality and outcomes.

Our planned new digital products and services will make health and care more accessible, more convenient and more effective for patients. As a result, patients will have more power to make better, more informed choices about their care which will also ultimately be more cost effective. Insight we can gain through shared information will also help us improve efficiency by ensuring that the right kind of care and treatment is given at the right time, from the start.

Standing still is not an option for the health and care system. Information and technology innovation has huge potential to help us provide more, and higher quality, care from the resources available to us at a time of increasing demand and this is an opportunity we must seize.”

Next to give us his views was Richard Corbridge from Ireland, Richard, this was Ireland’s first innovation week, what prompted Ireland to put such an event on? “First and foremost it was to bring the idea of Digital Health into the eye of the public. We have had over 3,200 individuals booked into the events in one week, all our events have been free and have garnered a significant level of interest from the people of Ireland. If the patient, the tax payer, wants to see digital in their health system to make it safer and more efficient then maybe an understanding of the level of investment that can be made can be got to. Secondly though the week of events has created a ‘platform’ to enable innovation in the Irish healthcare space to really begin to happen, and perhaps more importantly be supported, Ireland has an engaged clinical team, it is now starting to make the connections between clinicians and the technology leaders of the country.”

What do you see the blocker to innovation in healthcare being? “In Ireland it can be sheer resources, funding and time being the hardest to come by. More generally in healthcare I would say it is the concept of building the jumbo jet as it flies down the runway, as digital leaders we have to keep so many moving parts on the go, the temptation is to focus on these and we can’t, we have to keep an eye on the future. There is a story of a bridge built in Honduras I have been using in presentations recently, an amazing bridge, started in 1989, by the time it had finished due to environmental changes the river it was spanning had moved. We have to be mindful of this happening to our plans and enable innovation and new technologies to influence them.” We then caught up with Andrew from Wales at the HIMSS ELS; you spoke of ‘not checking the Daffodils too often’ which went down well as an analogy, can you explain what you meant? “First to explain the analogy, aside from playing to the Welsh stereotypes, if you keep digging up a plant in the garden because it’s not growing, the very act of checking everyday ensures the plant never grows. There can be a tendency in health IT to give up too quickly and declare the project a failure, spending all our energies on checking and explaining, when what’s needed are steady nerves, encouragement and the will to succeed.The most troublesome periods in any implementation can be the early days, people are not used to the system, support can take longer as training becomes practical knowledge and the IT hasn’t settled down. Inevitably the first period is also when most changes are happening and every change is an opportunity for a problem. Admittedly there are times when the plant is a weed and needs to be killed off quickly but in my experience more often it’s a plant that needs nurturing. If we “fail fast” at every perceived problem we might never achieve anything, some of the great achievements have needed great perseverance.” As digital leaders what do you think the key strategy for leading in these times of most unpredictable change can be? “I’m not sure there’s a simple answer to this and if there is, please someone tell me. However my thoughts for what they’re worth are that: we need to be clear about what we are trying to achieve and recognise that in achieving our goals “digital” is not an end in itself but the means to something greater.

We need to keep that vision in our heads and keep doing things that gradually get us there. That will inevitably mean spotting opportunities that occur and changing the plans so that we can take the opportunity. It would be great to be able to stop the world, design it, then start again but the reality is that we have to make running repairs that are actually leading to a complete rebuild. We need to be developing great people who know the right things to do because they share the vision. Finally, somehow we need to summonses the courage to create certainty for others so that they, unburdened, can confidently get on with the doing.”

George was the next of the group we were able to speak to, the idea of the UK and Irish digital healthcare leaders being able to share more seems new, what do you think can happen if this is enabled?

“The days when we not only had to own the problem but also own the solution are over. It was wasteful in terms of time and money and we do not have the luxury of either! The benefits of sharing thoughts and ideas as well as good practices, lessons learned and solutions is mutually beneficial. The challenges our health and care systems face are the same, the largest part of any technology supported solution is generic. So, it is not rocket science to suggest that collaboration is the correct path to follow.”

The annual digital health and care conference in Scotland had a great selection of speakers, Richard spoke about different ways to engage stakeholders, how do you see that influencing the way we deliver digital health in 2017?

“The need to involve stakeholders from all communities of interest is fundamental to securing sustainable and scalable solutions to the wicked problems we face. The perceived effort it takes to engage the public can be reduced and the outcomes magnified by using innovative methods to support the process. The need to use multiple digital channels for engagement is going to become the norm going forward and will transform how we plan, develop and deliver services.”

The ability for countries to come together is highlighted through these leaders willingness to share, perhaps no more so will this make an immediate patient difference than between the Northern Ireland healthcare system and the healthcare delivery of the Republic of Ireland. Sean Donoghue opened the first whole Ireland Eco-System meeting in this same week with a rallying cry for collaboration on the delivery of standards and the ability to share key lessons learnt.

Sean, seeing the start of an Irish cross country collaboration at the Eco-System this week, do you see this model evolving across the EU?

“Inevitably it will, the key issue is whether it is driven forward by public and private health systems, or whether systems and leaders have to be pulled reluctantly to the table. Collaboration across systems is a key support to better sharing of citizen information and best digital care practice in to support better health and wellbeing across the EU. 

We have that need right now, with a large land border that citizens of this island cross as part of their daily lives, including for health and social care. Too much of the approach up until now has had the feel of ‘make do and mend’, and that will not support our citizens to get the best from their own efforts and from health & social care resources. We have fantastic potential to build a shared digital fabric that can remove some of the worst impact of a land border on the experience of our citizens, and we’re determined to realise that potential. That means taking action now on shared citizen identification, and on shared standards.”

All of the leaders we have spoken to in the last week place the patient and clinician at the centre of the digital revolution, how does the Eco-System meeting do this and how do you ensure this is maintained beyond this initial coming together?

“The driver for sharing is the needs of citizens; that is very well recognised by health & social care staff, who voice their frustration at the barriers to communication, and thus to better care.

The Ecosystem meeting provides a place to check in, to celebrate successes, to remind us of what remains to be done, and to provide a public space for health and care systems and those who supply digital solutions to set out the agenda for further work. It is a visible and important signal of our intent to work together.

Sustaining this approach requires commitment from leaders, and of course, visible progress. The commitment is there, and the early signs of progress are encouraging. I am confident there is much more to come to inspire collaboration as the default way of working.”

In two weeks these five digital leaders have moved forward an agenda of collaboration, sharing and evolution in healthcare perhaps more than the UK and Ireland has seen in the last five years. The spirit of working together in times of change would often be described as the spirit of England, but, this collaboration shows that in digital health it has become a spirit of the five nations!

All of the leaders commented on the amount of change in 2016 being unprecedented, however they all spoke of ways in which they had built a strategy to cope, maybe what change will do is foster a degree of collaboration that the global healthcare system has not seen before. We asked a final question of the two leaders from the island of Ireland, what was their own predication for 2017 in digital health; the Republic of Ireland’s CIO said, ‘We will see the ability to deliver complicated care information digitally to the patients of Ireland and allow patients the ability to add information to their care record in such a way as to enable it to be useful to clinical staff.’

Sean’s final comment perhaps is a shining example of how this group are starting to think when it comes to the transformation of healthcare; “The most exciting development is the sharing of information with citizens, and building shared workflow to provide more flexible, tailored care. I expect tangible progress with all of my colleagues on this in 2017.”

Richard Corbridge finished off a number of the presentations over this period of time with what is becoming almost a trademark phrase of his, Imagine A World, the conversations with these five digital leaders allow us to imagine a world where the much promised future can actually become a thing of reality, where integrated care can be delivered through a digital platform and patients will feel that the care they receive is within their own context, a huge leap forward for how these countries enable innovation in the health care system.

Do eHealth agendas ‘need’ politics…

First published in HIMSS UK Journal in September of 2016.

 

The delivery of health is driven by politics by necessity. No matter where in the world you are the delivery of health and wellbeing to a population is an election winning and losing manifesto. We understand that the delivery of digital health could be as disruptive in its application as any other business arena globally and yet, maybe because of these intrinsic political links, eHealth has not been able to ‘just do it’ at the pace of say the tourism agenda or even the ever increasing connected cities agendas.

The Bob Wachter report, ‘Making IT work in Health’, was published in the UK in early September. Politics allegedly, is said to have even delayed its publication, an essential report that the NHS needed, a report that global health systems considering how to make the giant digital leap needed.

Why does health have to work to a political agenda and time line? As IT professionals it is frustrating. Innovation needs to be allowed to happen in an agile manner. In Ireland we are deploying solutions that are over 10 years old, we continue to deploy them because they have been backed politically but the digital landscape has moved on three generations since the inception of some of these solutions, and to be absolutely fair the solution, whilst ten years old, still makes the beneficial difference the healthcare system originally wanted to gain.

I tell a story when presenting at the moment, a second hand, legitimately stolen story I have to admit. In 1969, the ‘people’ of Hong Kong decided that they needed to create a business district. They came together and placed a mandate to develop the business district regardless of political persuasion, economic climate or technology change. Today the business district of Hong Kong is one of the most thriving globally. It is as shining example of what innovation, connected people and a clear, unambiguous and a-political mandate can achieve.

I am proud to be working in Ireland on the health care of a nation. Earlier this year our minister for health proposed that Ireland needed to move away from annual planning, annual stretch targets and annual budgets. He asked for a mandate to create a cross party commissioned group that would consider the future health of Ireland and report back to the people of Ireland what the options, and indeed solutions would be. How exciting. At last the health system of Ireland could have a plan that is longer than some repeat prescriptions!

By allowing health to be disruptive and creative, then it can consider how to catch up with other international business from a digital innovation point of view. We often ‘roll out’ the banking analogy. Citizens are happy to use mobile banking by and large, the expectation to get a real life letter from the bank has almost gone away and the bank manager is no longer recognisable on the high street as a person of status. Banking changed quickly, maybe because technology was enabled to be disruptive, not just because of the investment but because of the change in attitude and even the aptitude of the customers themselves.

Will any country ever be brave and allow a system to just do it. If clinicians and patients are engaged and want ‘IT’ then why not?

The suggestion is definitely not to do this without governance or engagement but to take away the political might, to empower the system, which is far more intelligently capable in this arena than the political system after all, to make the difference happen in clinical and technology settings! Attempts have been made in many jurisdictions to empower the public. The NHS tried the Healthspace experiment in the late 1990s and Estonia is mentioned in every EU eHealth meeting as a rising star of patient empowerment through access to information. The Danish health system is as close as it gets to a ‘Block Chain’ like health information system in 2016, where the patient truly has a level of control over the information about them. If we can make this happen then we should be able to find a way to enable the eHealth orchestration to step out from the political agenda somehow.

There is an additional moment of caution here though, which needs to be learnt and applied. The suggestion we make here is, yes to enable the politicians to take a step away and allow the agenda to deliver against a defined and agreed benefit set, it is not, and I can’t stress this enough, an ask to bring in a large group of people who do not know how health works and ask them to deliver large complex digital change agendas to health. Health is not just another business ready for change it is unique and that feared and fabled word, ‘special’!

Under the auspices of the then prime minister Tony Blair, health in the UK was labelled as a business that was ready to made like ‘Easy Jet’. Almost weekly a politician globally will reference the need to ‘Uber-ise’ the health system. I wish we could simply do that but health is huge, interlinked, has powerful and learned users that need to be taken on this journey of change. Uber-ing health would cause more of a fall out than the go-live of Uber in any city that has been globally seen so far.

Relationships with other government departments, wider politicians, parties and vendors obviously will need to continue to grow, and often politics will need to have a part to play in these burgeoning relationships. Perhaps this is the area where our digital agenda could benefit more from a political involvement. Whether it’s Mark Britnel from KPMG, David Beloff from Deloitte, Neil Jordan from Microsoft, Kaveh Safavi from Accenture or Robert Wah from CSC, Ireland has access to a wealth of advice and guidance from partners and prospective partners second to none globally. The knowledge in years alone from just the names above is so impressive, and yet there seems to be a fear from the political and civil service system to engage with these brains, which is a shame.  Partnerships with the these organisations are already in place, and of course each of them is hoping to get a larger bite of the Irish ‘cherry’, but whilst this is their end goal they have been very willing to share, to help us learn lessons and apply new ways of working and thinking. Ireland partnering with this kind of intelligence at all sorts of levels is exactly how it will implement an eHealth agenda and get it right first time.

So, if we persuade the politicians of the world to work with us to set a longitudinal ambition for eHealth, if we can persuade the same politicians to help each eHealth team agree the governance, the way in which they can be involved and the parameters and limitations of their involvement then, can we simply get on with it? Against an informed and educated back drop I really do think we can.

The avoidance of vendor led grey IT would be an area to watch. If we take away the political detailed mandate there is a risk that vendors could become a great deal more powerful in local micro-systems. National integration can be achieved without political ownership, through true engagement of clinicians and patients a final location for digital health can be agreed and reached. It can be agreed without clinicians becoming programmers as well I think. It’s entirely admirable the engagement that many other jurisdictions now have with clinicians. Initiatives like Code for Health and more widely acceptable open source solutions are great where clinicians want to get his involved but are not a prerequisite to clinical engagement or to eHealth being able to move away from short term political direction.

I do need to bring this back to Ireland though. As has been reported in the media, Ireland has an EHR business case it now believes in. The health system itself has approved it as a business case, clinicians, patients and the leadership of the system has made it clear that the 10 year direction in this business case is the right way for Ireland. The issue now though is down to the affordability, and that will always be a political prioritisation piece. A public health system such as Ireland’s can’t ask patients to pay for the IT it uses as a direct cost, although we know that the cost of an EHR in Ireland would be seventeen euro a year per patient. And that’s where the political elements has to remain, they have to be the pay master and therefore they have to be able to take credit and risk for delivery.

If Ireland can agree the 10 year journey, if Ireland can continue to deliver the digital fabric it is doing, with the simple support of an engaged minister’s office and political team then we truly could be the first country in the world to do this effectively in a timely fashion and with the patient at the centre.

A great result is coming our way, and this will be down to the efforts of the full system of support, civil servants, public servants, ministers, clinicians, patients and vendors – a true partnership as a facilitator for success.

CIO as a conductor…

First published in CIO Magazine in August 2016. A collaboration with Elaine Naughton in the  writing and development of this idea, a huge thanks to Elaine for this.

In the excellent Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, he describes a discussion between Jobs and Steve Wozniak where Jobs is explaining to Woz that the role he plays in Apple is that of an orchestra’s conductor, here to get the best out of the team, to ensure that they play in harmony and deliver to the listener the most inventive and yet classically rich vision of the original design. This conversation is said to have taken place after a strong ‘debate’ just before the launch of the iMac itself, Woz described by Isaacson had just exclaimed to Jobs that he was neither designer nor engineer and therefore did not really warrant or justify the recognition he was getting as the ‘re-saviour’ of Apple.

Is the creativity of the conductor the real line to success in IT leadership? After all the ‘band plays on’, or at least tries to, whether there is a conductor or not. Even as early as 1998 Jobs was describing, I think, what the modern CIO now needs to be, although maybe we now need an evolved model from conductor to DJ or rock and roll front man.

Why does the analogy and the model need to evolve? Well, in times gone by, the IT leader would have sought out the best in class people he needed. Much like creating an orchestra of around 30 talented artists, the Leader had to be the best that the orchestra could afford and then the conductor had to make them fit into the team, not always an easy job. The ‘prima donna’ persona of the highest calibre technologists is not always easy to integrate into a high-performing team after all. This then, perhaps, is where the evolved model comes in.

The leader of a rock band enables the band to “jam” develops a structure and order to remain in time, and chooses a rift as well as creating a tune as they play. Maybe this roll can be best described as the start-up innovator of the music scene. A band always needs a front man – someone with a vision for the sound they want to achieve and the charisma and charm to wow an audience, the band may play on if the front man leaves, but rarely as successfully; what would U2 be without Bono? or the Rolling Stones without Jagger? Queen without Freddie? Perhaps the best real world example of the rock star digital leader is Larry Ellison of Oracle, truly a front man if ever there was one to be seen in digital leadership. The owner, founder, creator and beating heart of the Oracle empire, whilst no longer leader in name still very much the charismatic front man of the brand and indeed, band!

An orchestra, on the other hand, follows a very strict plan and each of the upwards of 30 members (over 50 for a symphonic orchestra) knows exactly what they need to play and when, whether it is solo or synchronised with their team (by virtue of the score). Only the conductor knows the full score and reads all lines simultaneously, knowing who to call on and who to bring in exactly when they are needed for the orchestra to continue playing in harmony and in time, and for soloists to have their moment to shine. A digital leader in the style of the conductor does just this. The danger here though, is if only they know the full picture, keeping everyone focussed takes a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm. Many public sector digital leaders are of this style (often by necessity) as the full picture is in reality always being altered and reconfigured a small amount by the political leaders and paymasters.

The conductor’s role is an art form and a talent, while being a very technical job. Take the conductor from this and time signatures slip, the musicians become discordant and eventually chaos ensues. Just as with Jobs and his temporary departure from Apple, as conductor of that orchestra he was never truly replaced and therefore for a time the music was not what the audience needed to hear. The creativity, in the sense of innovation of the music, belongs to the composer rather than the orchestra or conductor; with this in mind maybe we need to see the digital leader as composer and conductor more often!

A DJ, unlike the conductor or rock band front man, can take the best work of a much wider variety of stars, mould them together until they find the right mix and then play it for the audience. The DJ doesn’t have to integrate the full character of the artist just that moment of excellence where the beat fits or as the very wonderful NetFlix original puts it, ‘When the Get Down arrives’! A modern successful digital leader then is going to be a DJ! If we consider the ‘gig economy’ to be the future in digital then this kind of character and behaviour is likely to become even more prevalent when building successful teams. The magpie-type ability to bring all the best bits together for one moment of excellence that then can be repeated.

We believe the skills of a DJ are also key traits of a transformational leader: someone who motivates and energises their employees to get behind a transformation strategy, creates something that has been written about many times before, the creation of a fan base if you will!

The styles of these three analogies allow us to consider the nature of digital leadership. There is a mix of two key styles here, one is transactional the other transformational. The conductor is transactional, planning, organising and controlling. The DJ is transformational challenging and changing organisational culture, coaching and developing people, creating a climate of trust, establishing a long-term vision. The front man perhaps mixes both styles dependent on the need of the audience or band members, an ambidextrous style that is agile and responsive as startups require to be.

The analogy can continue in a number of ways beyond just the parts of the mix. A DJ brings with them the theme and the end point they are trying to get to, much like a high performing digital leader needs to, they start with the end in mind. Also, the DJ needs to be aware of the change in trends, evaluate them and consider how to adopt them into their fabric, so much learning of how this is done from both professions; I would love a temporary job swap!

The Jobs autobiography also describes the moment that Woz and Jobs first met from Woz’s point of view, “We first met in 1971 during my college years, while he was in high school. A friend said, ‘you should meet Steve Jobs, because he likes electronics and he also plays pranks,’ so he introduced us”

Jobs and Woz learnt they had so much in common, and yet were so different. The wonderful “Small Data” book by Martin Lindstrom references a Harvard Business Review article by de Swaan Arons, van den Driest and Weed called “The Ultimate Marketing Machine”. The article suggested that there are three types of people needed to make a marketing company successful, they are:

Think people – Who focus on data and analytics

Do people – Who have responsibility for content, design and production development

Feel people – Who are all about consumer engagement and interaction

I wonder if the modern digital organisation can apply this exact same logic as has been done here for the marketing team. The types of people the IT leader needs to bring together are defined less by their technology specialty and more by the person type they act when they are in a delivery focused team. Back to Jobs and the Apple empire, the success of the original swathe of ‘i’ products has always been put down to two elements, one, Jobs own meticulous eye for detail and two, the design standards of the team under Sir Jonathan Ive. If we overlay the commentary from the article in the Harvard Business Review referenced above and the conclusions that Lindstrom himself makes on this article we start to see that the way this team has been successful is by ‘minding the small things’ by being a team that is led by a digital orchestrator but exists as a team that can deliver empathy together, to the benefit that is trying to be attained.

A modern, successful leader needs to be a strategist, a “front-man (or woman)” AND be able to conduct a complex set of teams in a harmonious way – or at least empower capable section leaders (upper strings, lower strings, woodwind, brass, percussion) to do so on his or her behalf.

The theories of Lindstrom in Small Data will blow your mind, you regularly turn a page and laugh at the conclusion he has made and how it applies so completely not just to modern marketing ways of working but to how the right digital function needs to deliver. Whether as leaders we are badged as CIOs, CDOs, Conductors or DJs we don’t care, we just want to be able to make IT work.

 

 

 

…… as a post script we really do care! Two IT leaders were involved in the creation of this article, one of us wishes they had taken the path of enlightenment and become the superstar DJ of their dreams the other is progressing from playing second fiddle in a growing orchestra to becoming a conductor and leader of a great band.

 

In the shed at the bottom of the garden…

When a member of staff offers to put you in a shed at the bottom of the garden for the next 12 months, what does it mean I wonder? So far my time in Ireland has taught me so many new phrases. Most hilarious was learning what being ‘put on the long finger’ meant, however today on the eve of our all staff meeting the concept of asking the leader of an organisation to go and hide in the shed at the bottom of the garden for a little while I thought was uniquely Irish, turns out its not. It’s perhaps a bit unique to the style of CIO I aspire to be.

The all staff meeting occurs twice a year. It has become traditional to try to pull together a blog post for each of these on the eve of the event that sets some of the tone or theme for the day, gives us something to reflect back on and adds a bit to the conversation as the day progresses. The theme for the staff event this time is quite simply ‘Delivery’. We have had ‘Transition’, ‘Transformation’ and ‘Connectivity’ and now we move on to the ‘pointy end’ – delivery as a theme!

Delivery style applies nicely to the concept of the leader of any organisation being put at the bottom of the garden for a little while it would seem. In just under two years the team has moved mountains, to completely re-structure a function and put in place a national focus that organisations like the World Health Organisation are giving Ireland credit for. The credit for making this happen goes to every member of the team though.

But, when the team offer a ‘deluxe shed’ for a few months to the leader it is time to stop and ask why. Strategy and delivery go hand in hand. A CIO needs to be able to do both simultaneously, Grand plans badly executed will not change the way healthcare is delivered in Ireland nor will rushing at a problem head long without a vision in mind. It is well documented and in the public domain the distance Ireland has to travel with digital health. It has become a little too easy to move quickly without always the consideration needed for keeping the whole team on the same path.

One of the key principles as we moved to transition and transformation of the team was ‘don’t break anything’. We haven’t, but maybe on some days it feels like we have come really close. We are currently operating a resourcing style probably best described as robbing Peter to pay Paul. Not ideal and maybe one of the reasons why a proportion of the team wish I was away in the garden shed for a short while. A further principle though when we started this journey was to keep delivering new things, not to go away with a long term plan that had no new early benefits to the delivery of health. That requires a balance of strategy and operational delivery that isn’t always there for technology teams in health but Ireland has been able to make this work better than I have seen anywhere else.

The most successful of teams are really hard to create. They certainly do not come together ready formed and need a plethora of different elements to make them work. Sport is littered with examples where teams do not equal the sum of their parts and the results simply are not there. Take the difference in commitment from this year’s soccer Euros. The most telling moment of sport TV for me over the summer was a comparison of the Ireland and England team getting off their team bus. The England team exit in ones, big Beats headphones on, no interaction, and no conversation just 12 super stars in perfect isolation. Cut to the Ireland team, talking to each other, gesturing at the stadium, practically hand in hand ready to meet the challenge. The team in white had one of the worst sporting performances ever and the team in green one of the best ever, in my view. Certainly as we head to the qualifiers for the World Cup I am hoping my adopted home allows me to be one of the #BIG rather than a miserable man in white.

The leaders of these two teams had very different sheds. England seemed to have a shed that was strongly built, just a small window and an appointment system to come in for a look with edicts passed under the door every couple of hours about what to do. The analogy for me of the Ireland shed was more of a gazebo, open access, everyone able to see what was happening, to share ideas and move the whole structure easily moved around.

The need to deliver is a pressure the team has to try to handle daily, and that pressure comes from an unwavering pride in what is being attempted. The team has embraced the concepts of the new operating model and is trying hard to make it work often in the face of some adverse conditions, but each small success moves us one notch further towards creating a digital solution that can tangibly make a difference to the way health care is delivered in Ireland. The need to keep delivering, to prove what eHealth Ireland can do, is with us all the time. No matter each success, the media will always find a story that does not play the positive element of digital health. Whether it’s the fact that the wider eHealth Ireland eco-system has sought guidance from an organisation that is globally recognised as a ‘digital-first’ organisation (and for writing about restaurants on that platform) or that eHealth Ireland has pushed hard to be part of the NHS CCIO/CIO councils, these elements do not serve the organisation well in the width of the Irish conscious and perceptions of what is being delivered. And yet they do serve the ability to deliver well!

Camaraderie has to be a big part of how the team works, and that can’t be forced to occur. We are trying lots of different ways to create small eco-systems of support. The amazing initiative from the team around eHealth Moments starts to really put new and exciting opportunities in place. A safe place where the team can share experiences, ask for support, get to know each other or simply understand the many projects and services that are delivered, all on one platform where staff are able to introduce themselves with this now world changing words…

Hello my name is…

I can’t wait to see the way this will bring the team together, and after all, as a digital organisation dispersed across the country, we should absolutely use the tools to hand to achieve improvements to the team culture.

Dare we ever try to emulate the three musketeers’ motto in eHealth Ireland I wonder? It is cheesy but a very good friend used to have it on his email signature, ‘All for one and one for all’. We are trying to get there. I know there will be some of the team who read this who are not sure if they really fit into this, and yet I am committed to get everyone in that shed with me, that’s the style of CIO I want to be!

Times continue to be exciting. An old boss of mine in the National Programme for IT was fond of saying to staff as she passed them in the corridor, she speed walked everywhere,

‘No one said it would be easy, everyone said it would be worth it.’

So rather than just putting the leadership (or worse just me, I need some help) in the shed at the bottom of the garden, who wants to join me, we can break the rules, change the rules and support each other in being committed to delivering, we can strive to keep the positivity and sometimes ignore the negativity.

I’m there!

Grecian 2000 for Grey IT…

First published in the HIMSS British Journal in August 2016.

Turning grey hair to darker hair to protect youthful looks has been a trend for decades, and yet in IT we want maturity to not be grey, kind of odd really! Whether we are calling it shadow IT or grey IT it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that every national health system that has tried to implement a country wide digital answer to connected health first, has to at least understand the different shades of grey that exist in the system.

This has to be done before any success can be made of a national solution.

No matter the pantone of grey that has been implemented it will exist in health perhaps more than in any other business area. Why is health so grey in its IT delivery? I would suggest it’s down to health lagging behind in the ability to innovate and adopt new technology particularly at a national level. Local health technology projects are able to adopt business change and technology at a rate akin to the consumerisation of digital, but ask a national system to do so and it is like asking the plumber how much for the washing machine to be fixed, a whole lot of teeth sucking and estimation ensues. Engagement in grey IT is also a huge factor, a grey IT solution probably is clinically led from the offset, as it is highly likely that a clinician has championed the greyness and because of this a national public engagement is not going to be necessary, because locally it can normally be achieved with less concern due to the smaller implementation scale. This element I worry about the most though, how many grey IT projects meet the data protection requirements applied to health are or indeed the cyber security protection that health needs more and more of? And as a health IT leader how many projects are you going to be asked to take on when the going gets a bit tougher.

But back to that plumber! My suggestion is back to the old business change chestnut! To make national IT solutions works requires national business change solutions to be implemented, and funded. Government and healthcare systems globally want to use technology to standardise the delivery of healthcare and yet we now all realise that the way to success is to enable clinical choice and to build the project on sound business change principles, clinical standardisation may be an outcome of the delivery of national digital solutions but should not be the reason to implement.

In recent months we have seen the NHS launch two ambitious plans to reveal the local digital maturity of the entire service; the answers were startlingly different from locality to locality. Again we find ourselves asking why the dramatic local differences and does it really exist. I would suggest differences do exist, prioritisation at an NHS board level and the starting point even further back will have had a huge impact; however by far the greatest impact on any new understanding of a national maturity is the incentives to reveal all. If the assessment can bring money then the wiley health organisation may well down play their current position to get their hands on much needed funding. However on the other hand if the assessment is going to place the organisation in some kind of league table or ratings created then the opposite will occur.

Here in Ireland we have a digital immaturity in health that is well documented, and yet we have some centres of excellence in disease areas or locations that rival other parts of the world. We need to assess how to build on these centres and we need to work out how to share better. The reform of the Irish healthcare system that is underway has an objective to create larger, sharing focused organisations, doing this for digital is going to be a challenge but is at the heart of the next stages of our five year plan.

A digital maturity understanding across the health sector is being approached by Ireland’s CCIO network, rather than asking IT leadership directly we will ask the clinical network to describe what they think of the maturity of the organisations they work within in the first instance and then go back to validate with the expert technologists, hopefully cutting out the issue of perverse incentives coming into play as much as possible.

The results of this will then drive not just a prioritised work plan for implementations like the whole Ireland maternity and new-born system and national lab system but will also be used as an investment case and readiness starting point for the implementation of the Electronic Health Record.

A clinically led view of the greyness of digital and the need to build the foundations on this could be best summarised by using the famous hair product catch phrase, ‘why take two bottles into the shower when one will do,’ in other words let’s get one digital maturity understanding done once by the right group of people to do it!

And as we started with the Grecian 2000 metaphor lets finish with ‘It lets you decide, day by day’, in other words brings out our natural and real ‘colour’ of IT in health!

Brexit and the CIO!

First published to CIO.CO.UK

Just when you thought every conversation would be about Trump this summer someone decided to press a big button that didn’t say Brexit on it, it said ‘stick it to the man’ and very few people thought that meant leave Europe! Or certainly after the event that is what it feels like. As I have caught up with colleagues, friends and peers I have only found two people who are proud to have voted leave, admittedly one was resplendent in union jack cuff links and belt buckle so maybe shouldn’t count due to crimes against fashion! So much has been written from within the UK about what it could mean for this role we all love, the CIO role post Brexit will change, we have no doubt about that. I am no longer living or working in the UK, whilst only 50 minutes with Ryanair away Ireland is very much a different country, and I love it for that.

The morning of the 24th of June will be one that the modern CIO will remember for years and years to come. It has become the where were you moment of the ‘teenies’, so many people describe the story of turning to their partner and saying, crikey it happened, we are leaving Europe and the look and squeak of complete and utter astonishment from the other person whose twitter feed hadn’t woken them up first. I wonder if Boris and Farage were as shocked as the rest of the globe was.

The google search for how to get an Irish passport over that day is said to have been the most common search in Dublin and then the need to continue the conversation with digital leaders throughout Dublin really began to happen. It has now become the conversation at every meeting of CIOs and IT professionals in this bustling digital city and not having an opinion or a new piece of gossip about the impact is simply not allowed!

The good it will do for Dublin in the short to medium term seems to be huge as more and more companies are said to be looking to have a location in the city, after all it is English speaking, in the EU and with the Euro, not to mention the amazing digital eco-system that has sprung up already. But will it be for the good of the wider Ireland? My own opinion is possibly not; there is a huge risk that Dublin becomes more and more like the London of Harry Enfield’s imagination, where Dublin is the place ‘with’ and much of Ireland becomes the place of aspirations, and that I think could be an Irish outcome of Brexit without very carefully national leadership.

The immediate impact on a CIO delivering digital solutions to health in Ireland has been significant. For example data sharing agreements for the island of Ireland will need to be looked at from a different point of view once article 50 is triggered. The delivery of health care if you are a patient living on the boarder suddenly could be a very different prospect for a non-EU Northern Ireland. The technology to support this will need to have a very different plan to that being considered pre-Brexit.

The 8th of June saw the Republic of Ireland announce an EU member state first, a Health Cloud First policy. Brexit now will mean that a wider consideration of where data goes from a disaster recovery point of view needs to be had, if data is leaving the EU what does that mean and what will the UK data agreements be with a USA. More open and free movement of data between Uncle Sam and the May state is quite a scary prospect to manage with the privacy concerned of Ireland. Certainly a Brexiting UK with May at the helm is already building up a worrying record of a willingness to downgrade digital privacy considerations.

The advisory and consultancy firms that Ireland’s health sector has been working with as it moves towards its full Electronic Health Record programme moved from conversations about NHS expertise and knowledge to different countries overnight, suddenly Canadian knowledge and experience is de rigueur amongst the partners seeking to impress the eHealth Ireland function. Why though, is it because an NHS post Brexit would be less willing to share or simply because the sheer amount of work to now do in the NHS will be simply too big to offer up guidance to Ireland. Personally I don’t believe it is anything to do with the NHS really and more to do with the large consultancy firms trying to stop the conversation being ‘just’ about Brexit and wanting it to remain on topic.

The Brexit promise to the NHS of 350 million a week more in funding was withdrawn by the morning of the vote, the NHS is heading to a deficit that is eye watering and will impact upon the priorities of a minister for health who never really jumped one way or the other when it came to Brexit. In Ireland we have a minister who is insisting that the country needs a ten year plan, or at least a five year plan to reform the health system. The optimism in health in Ireland in a post Brexit world is quite significant, the number of Irish citizens working for the NHS is huge and Brexit just became another leaver to try to persuade them to return home. Around 5,000 of the health staff of Ireland are English though, the thought of not being able to do the job here in Ireland is a nightmare scenario but one that now needs to be on the risk register.

The one thing that as a CIO with a penchant for social media I did come to realise more and more during the run up to Brexit was the concept of a the social media influence bubble. So few people ever seemed to be talking about voting to leave and yet somebody somewhere clearly did make that choice. The dawning thought as social media became awash with despair was that the influence that the social media format has on you is way more to do with the bubble that you are in than a truly independent view of the world. A great many have complained they simply couldn’t get good media facts and knowledge to build up an opinion; maybe there is something in the fact that we are now using social media as a news outlet that hugely influenced that. Brexiters were compared somewhat to an extreme political view, racist with lack of global view. And yet in a post Brexit world clearly that simply cannot be true!

A recent Irish Times article rather tongue in cheek suggested a coming together of Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland as an EU state. Whilst done in a mischievous way it grew legs and in less than 24 hours people were discussing this as if it were a real possibility. The desperation to find a way to maintain some of the status quo in the digital world we are trying to live within is having a huge impact on what we think of as the art of the possible. The conversation now needs to shift, away from desperate plans like the ‘Scotireland’ and move towards what needs to be done to make each of our areas of concern work in a new world. Every EU state now needs to have a digital consideration of Brexit and build policy and solutions on how to make this work, the EU of a shared digital future has changed forever and each one of us now has a part to play in understanding what it will look like next.

As something of a post script to this piece, there is a town in county Tipperary called Twomileborris, the name Borris is generally thought to be a Norman word for stronghold or district, maybe, just maybe the work of Boris to deliver a Brexited UK could end up creating an even stronger digital stronghold for Dublin, and with the right considerations and policies the whole of Ireland, certainly the opportunity seems to be stronger than the threat. I had three adoption offers and the passport application process explained to me in detail within 24 hours of Brexit, I hope that means I am going to be in Ireland for some time to come, but I really do hope that the CIO fraternity of the UK can make Brexit work for digital, the whole of the EU still needs it to, in or out!

Engagement – An Interview…

First published in HIMSS engagement and integrated care…

At the 2016 EU eHealth week in Amsterdam a number of commentators made an example of the clinical and patient engagement coming out of Ireland around the digital health landscape. This from a country that until recently had made little impact on the health IT area due to past systemic underinvestment and a lack of agreed direction.

In the last 18 months Ireland has rapidly began a programme that it describes as its Knowledge and Information plan. The programme sees Ireland learning from the success and errors of other jurisdictions with an expressed desire to ‘leap frog’ other countries and put information at the heart of its healthcare reform agenda.

Richard Corbridge is the Chief Information Officer of the health service in Ireland and the Chief Executive of the entity the Irish government has formed to achieve its digital ambition, eHealth Ireland. One of the first appointments made after its formation was to put in place a Chief Clinical Information Officer, this role was awarded to Yvonne Goff a radiographer by clinical background and now Ireland’s technology professional of the year. We asked both of them to comment on the recent success Ireland has had

Yvonne Goff wanted to comment first on clinical engagement,

‘It has been over twelve months since the Council of Clinical Information Officers was established with the aim of bringing together clinicians and practitioners to guide the successful delivery of eHealth solutions across the Irish healthcare system. The council is composed of clinical leaders from diverse backgrounds including, leaders, academics and suppliers, the CCIO has expanded to a network of over 200 members across many regions and disciplines.’

Richard Corbridge added,

‘The number of engaged clinicians in Ireland has been a key to the success of several projects in 2015/16 and continues to be the bedrock that we build engagement upon. It has been commented on that over 200 CCIOs is a large number and we have been asked how can they be so engaged? The reason why is the absolute desire to make the eHealth agenda work and deliver for patients and clinicians. The CCIO in Ireland has been formed to provide not just an advisory group but a clinical leadership workforce.’

The CCIO in Ireland is able to highlight the importance of collaborating with clinicians to ensure projects can be designed, developed, and delivered successfully.

In order to build an understanding of the benefits and implementation capability needed for an Electronic Health Record; eHealth Ireland is investing resources into three clinical project areas – epilepsy, hemophilia, and bipolar disorder. These projects are known collectively as the Lighthouse Projects, each are clinically lead and the CCIO collaborates with a number of other academic and charity organisations in order to advance and deliver these important projects, all in one year.

As well as building the clinical engagement Ireland has had to rebuild its technology function, up until early 2015 it was a function that was able to deliver local excellence but had not been able to work as a single national system. Under the new function of eHealth Ireland and the Office of the CIO the function has evolved to become a truly national set of functions. The CIO has achieved this through a continuous engagement process, adopting digital solutions to engage the staff who are located throughout Ireland. The team has used a wide range of tools to continue to evolve this engagement. Richard Corbridge described these different tools and initiatives,

‘The first thing we had to do in this space was to bring staff together for a face to face, something that in nine years that had not happened, we agreed to facilitate this happening twice a year and so far these have gone extraordinarily well with teams having the opportunity to present their projects and a series of guest speakers ranging from a futurologist through to an academic on the theory of communications. This has galvanized engagement from within, inspiring staff to take control and further drive engagement. New projects have been started by staff such as #eHealthmoments an enterprise facilitating staff to connect on a deeper level using digital technologies and Quality Innovation Corridor (QIC) Programme an initiative to open up innovation pathways through which clinicians, in collaboration with eHealth Ireland expertise, can seek seed-funding for creative digital solutions and assistance in deploying these.

However he does then go on to describe how different solutions have also been required to keep building on the engagement and enthusiasm,

‘We have recorded video interviews, and podcasts some of which have been broadcast live featuring all of the senior management team. We have used animations and story boards extensively to build a level of knowledge of each project and have used these to facilitate a wider understanding for all citizens of what it means to create a digital fabric in health that is needed to achieve a truly integrated healthcare system. One of the health system in Ireland’s core vision statements is to be transparent, social media engagement has enabled an explosion in this area. Project leaders and team members have embraced this vision and really built networks of people willing and ready to engage. It was a real shock to the system to see leadership openly engage through the use of social media; however it has now become a normal solution for communicating, which has truly been inspirational for the health system.

The continued evolution of communications with the CCIO group has been equally important to Yvonne Goff who explained why,

‘To me it is hugely important that the CCIO group continues to grow, expand and diversify to ensure that they are best placed to deliver for Ireland. The building of relationships with other CCIOs, advising appropriate direction for best practices around procurement and adoption of eHealth solutions is our reason for being.’

She went on to say how this engagement has been achieved, ‘the CCIO recognises that one of the most effective ways to engage and collaborate is through social media and digital networking. The twitter handle @CCIO_IRL is used regularly to communicate with clinicians, health informaticians, and other interested stakeholders. The CCIO also regularly take part in discussion and discourse on social media and in the CCIO discussion forum. The CCIO successfully hosted #irishmed Twitter hour resulting in its second busiest hour generating nearly five million impressions. The CCIO come together once a quarter as a group and are embracing digital solutions to ensure that the most can be gained from each meeting.’

Yvonne Goff then summarised with the rallying call, ‘the CCIO is making a positive and lasting difference to Irish Healthcare. And through discourse, collaboration and important projects it is committed to working together in order to implement clinically lead solutions that improve the quality of healthcare and the well-being of Irish citizens.’

The two leaders of the Irish healthcare IT revolution clearly have engagement as a priority, Richard Corbridge went on to round off by saying, ‘we need to take the whole system on a journey, we have managed to create a great environment for clinicians to become part of the team, we need to do the same for citizens and patients, the eHealth Ireland committee recently tasked us with recruiting a patient to the key governance function of Ireland which will be a great starting point for person centered care to truly come to fruition.’

He finished by saying, ‘a friend recently used the phrase ‘legitimate theft’ when describing the sharing of best practice, Ireland has done this to create what it has put in place, the offer is there for any jurisdiction to come forward and reuse what has been developed here, shared learning is a great way to ensure we all have the best engaged staff we possibly can have.’

To contact eHealth Ireland about this, why not do so via social media, @eHealthIreland is their twitter handle and they will definitely come back to anyone wanting to know more.

Guest Blog – Rocking the Future Health Summit

Thursday 25th of May 2016, The eHealth Festival rocked the stage at the Future Health Summit in City West. No festival would be complete without some audio visual fireworks and with this in mind, we opened with a powerful music video painstakingly produced by Elaine Naughton

The video, which wouldn’t have been out of place at the MTV awards, showcased different countries where music legends such as Bowie and The Beatles and neatly segwayed to all the countries where eHealth Legends came from. These countries included Estonia, Botswana, UK, Denmark, Spain, Australia and I have an honorable mention to my own Northern Ireland.  The scene was set for the day: High energy and involvement would be the recipe for a succesfull day. Twitter handles were provided so anyone could tweet the speakers and ask questions using the hashtag: #eHealthFestival. Notably, we were trending in Ireland within the hour.

The speakers for the day embraced the festival theme and played the part of rockstars by choosing their own song to enter onto the stage. Musical references were dotted throughout the presentations some of our Rockstars-for-the-day even dressed up in festival gear to present.

First up to speak was Tony Shannon and Andy Williams from Answer Consulting. They spoke in detail about the critical state of health around the world and how effective sharing of information can mean better care for the patient. Andy spoke about how transformation is needed in digital health and it is his belief that a huge transformation will happen in 5 years or less. He spoke about the importance of open source and the growth in demand witnessed in just the last year alone.  Richard Corbridge reiterated their thoughts and argued that  health spend is actually an investment for the future rather than just a short term budget item.

The next rock star on the bill was Andy Kinnear. Andy gave great insights from his learning in the digital transformation journey in Bristol. The countless benefits they are reaping now include the amazing research opportunities that become available through a shared network. When I asked Andy about how to create a culture that encourages innovation, he replied that“ You need to create a spirit where loyalty is with the people you serve  – the public not the organisation. You should reinforce this mind-set that all you do is for the patients.” It is heartening for me to see that this is exactly what eHealth Ireland are doing by putting their patient: at the centre.

Naomi Fein from Think Visual took to her new found rock star status like a duck to water as she ran up and down the stage interacting with the audience. I have had the pleasure of working with Naomi on a few projects and she is truly inspirational. Naomi spoke to us about leveraging empathy to create clarity. She took everyone through an interactive process ensuring that any plans that we make are truly impactful. The message must be “memorable, actionable, and shareable”.  To ensure this we need to start this (planning) process before we communicate by asking –

  • Why do you want to communicate something?
  • Who are you communicating to?
  • how do you do this?

If we can do this with empathy for our audience it can give us fresh insights, new language and clearer priorities. Naomi’s fiinal piece of advice was: Before communicating, it is imperative to separate between what is true but useless, and what is relevant.  This last point was particularly poignant because I feel that often times, we ourselves are overawed with too much information.

Joanna Smith, CIO of Royal Brompton Trust was next up and she set the scene by entering to The David Bowie number “Changes”. She spoke about her experiences within digital transformation in health. She had a lack of engagement at the beginning of her journey as they had no strategy or plan. Joanna used the analogy of growing a garden and how they had to strip everything away, draw up a plan and get the basics right before they could change their system. The now familiar theme of the patient being at the centre was spoken about again and how important it is to have easily accessible and user friendly technology.  Joanna also argued that patients should be widely informed as they are interested in these technological advancements. Joanna echoed the importance of building relationships: a common theme from all the speakers and how she felt that one of the biggest challenges is managing change and trust. She gave some great advice on picking your battles, knowing when to give up and knowing when to push a head. In my own experience, this sound advice could apply to many things in life, including raising children.

Julie Bellew and Brian Canavan from the HSE were late additions to the bill after the successful launch of #eHealthMoments.  I have had the pleasure of working with this team to develop this idea. It is based on the premise that internal communication is central to how an organisation is run. Up to 70% of Organisational change fails and one of the more commonly cited  reasons for this failure is poor communication. This internal communication is truly engagement from within and was developed when both these members of staff were inspired at an All Staff Day in March. The concept is based on “Hello My Name is” created by Kate Grainger. Each member of staff can make a short video clip about who they are and what they do. These clips are uploaded to a private forum created for these staff. Previously there was no real link between the staff as they are traditionally dispersed throughout the country and rarely get to meet. This provides everyone the chance to introduce themselves, put a face to the name and get to know a little bit more about each other. Julie and Brian want to change people’s opinion of the HSE and want to make it fun as they do it. I was sitting beside a few of the speakers at the time of this presentation and they loved it. They took pictures and said it was an initiative they were going to bring back to their own organisations and was so simple but extremely effective.

After lunch Richard Gibson, research director at Gartner spoke about personalisation with healthcare and the importance of patient engagement. He explained how simple technologies like websites can help engage by providing information and portals connecting patients with their information. Richard spoke of many cool technologies that provide great advantages to the user such as fitness trackers, sleep wristbands, devices that keep track of your habits and home diagnostic stations: All technologies that are revolutionising how we live our lives.

We had the lovely Amanda Neylon  up next, who danced onto the stage with the song “What a Feeling” from Flash Dance. Amanda was in charge of the digital transformation of Macmillan Cancer Care support. She told an inspirational story about her journey there.  The purpose of the organisations was to support people and help them take control of their situation. To do this they took a huge amount of paper information and made 50% of it available through digital services. Social Media put digital at the heart of the organisation. She echoed Naomi by stressing that “you must understand your audience” and through this understanding they segmented their audience through behaviours rather than demographically.  Amanda also spoke about the importance of collaboration, iteration and evaluation through all the different stages. Her final word was to be brave and allow people the opportunity to grow through experimenting with what works and what doesn’t.  If things don’t work the first time around, simply move forward and try something new.

Clare Sanderson (@IGcom) from IG Solutions was our final presenter and was representing the security and governance side of the festival. She also spoke around the importance of engaging with the public early and informing them on each of the stages you are going through. There is great opportunity to learn from other people’s mistakes by being up front with patients about where their information is going.  Research conducted by The Wellcome Trust found that people generally didn’t know where their information is going. Clare spoke about a really interesting concept called Citizen Juries. During this process people hear case studies around the use of data by health care professionals. This process proved that the more information a patient has around the digital transformation, the more positive they are about it. Clare also pointed out an extremely important issue: that there should be explicit consent and the right to object. I asked Clare about the best ways to do this and she gave some interesting ideas such as having the issue as a story plot on popular TV shows. Maybe we could ask Richard’s agent to arrange a cameo on Fair City.

The finale of the show was a panel discussion with the A&R personnel namely vendors – Cerner, CSC, IMS Maxims and HCI. Richard asked the panelists to sell to the audience on why their company should be the one to push forward this transformation in eHealth. Many of them touched on the fact that Ireland could be built as a centre of eHealth excellence and the importance of the integration off different systems.  They echoed the importance of being engaged with patients early and ensuring that they go through the decisions with you, putting healthcare back into their hands and also the belief that data sharing is a common sense approach.

Richard rounded up the day with the reiteration that community is an area often forgotten yet it is crucial to the development of eHealth. He spoke about delivering everyone in the HSE a digital identity and how the HSE is opening up to innovation through eHealth Connect  and The Quality Innovation Corridor (QIC). This was a very positive end to an extremely positive day. I spoke to a number of people after the event and they were delighted with the festival there was great energy, enthusiasm and optimism around the future of eHealth in Ireland. It really is amazing to have been part of this day and I want to say a big thank to Richard for giving me the opportunity me to co-host the event with him. I look forward to seeing how the ehealth transformation continues to evolve in the near future.

For more information on what is happening in eHealth in Ireland go to www.eHealthIreland.ie

SPEACIL THANKS to Blathnaid Cluskey who is interning at the HSE she is a Communications Student at DCU. She has a strong passion for media and using it to connect with different audiences and helped ensure that it was possible to create this review of the day.

A festival of eHealth!

A year ago we were invited to be involved in the Future Health summit for the first time. We built a house as the theme for the event, from blue print to decoration eHealth experts from across the EU used the story of creating a new build as an analogy to describe how eHealth Ireland could build on the foundations it was putting in place to create an eHealth system that could deliver a digital fabric for health in Ireland.

A year later and we have a different theme this year. The eHealth Festival has been pulled together, imagine the process of moving from foundations to a woven digital fabric throughout the country and the complexity of doing this, we have landed on an analogy for this too, putting on the mega festivals across the world, Coachella, Glastonbury and Electric Picnic. Surely a task with a long term view, a success criteria that includes immediate success and bringing joy to millions of people. The team are working hard to put on the festival all day on Thursday.

The eHealth Festival is a truly global affair, taking lessons and experiences of digital health from across the globe and applying them to the plans for Ireland. The first stages will be to consider what it takes to find the right festival site and theme, applied to the delivery of eHealth this section will focus very much on how to set the vision for the future as thoroughly as possible. A number of key speakers with NHS experiences will provide us insight into how engagement was gained at a plethora of sites with very different focuses ranging from a wide ocal geography coming together to adopt a standards based approach to the adoption of an open source model across a major cities record sharing approach and on to a major London hospitals insistence to get it right and not ‘simply’ follow the model brought to bear before.

Every guest speaker has been set a number of music festival themed challenges over the day too, ranging from the slightly different event photograph to a whole series of theme songs being picked; some of the music could get loud! Picking the theme songs has been an important part for each of the presentations as it will reflect the theme of where the presentation goes, so listen out for that.

In keeping with the way eHealth Ireland has evolved over the last year there will be some focus on the way we engage on technology in health as well. One of our partners Think Visual will be able to provide a different insight into how to engage clinicians and patients in a different way, using pictures and visuals to create a journey for them to join us on. This promises to be an exciting look into the art of the possible in this area.

Our focus has been on health care and a somewhat traditional version of health care over the last twelve months, the ability to deliver a new paradigm of research capacity with digital health must not be forgotten, nor must the citizen choice in how this occurs. With this in mind we have a speaker with a huge amount of experience making a health charity digitally capable, the lessons we can take from this I am sure will set the agenda for us in this space.

As with last year we have tried hard with the theme and the brieif to speakers to keep the ‘sales pitch’ presentations away, at the eHealth Festival it would be like the Darkness reforming! But, we need to create relationships with the vendor community over the next year that is a for sure! So in keeping with the festival theme the vendor community will be putting on the record label A&R man guise and trying to encourage us to understand why their label is the one of choice, why they are the Factory Records of the 1990s and not the SAW of the 1980s.

To round off the day we have a speaker by very popular demand, an expert in information governance, information security and getting the handling of data right. Asking a lady from Liverpool to speak on the theme of securing a festival is always going to be a little dangerous so expect some fun to round the day off.

As with any great festival there will be a few secret unannounced shows too by way of a couple of announcements that should set a tone that is exciting for the next twelve months, initiatives with internal and external focuses.

All that really will remain to say is… Put Your Hands Up For Detroit – All will be revealed!

 

Guest Blog – It’s time staff go front of screen on social media.

It’s better for everyone – the brand, the customer and your organization.

I attended the biggest social media marketing conference in San Diego recently and its clear the tempo and direction of social media is changing. If you thought the digital age had been and gone, well you are gravely mistaken.

“This is the fastest change I’ve seen in social media in eight years.”

Michael Stelzner, Founder of Social Media Examiner and Social Media Marketing World and author of Launch

Social media is here to stay. Let’s establish that fact first. But more than that it is growing in prominence, relevance and even necessity for many organisations – public and private, for profit and not-for-profit.

Social media is not just for kids, for egotistical bloggers or for celebrities or big brands. It’s for everyone and in my own mind especially for public sector organisations. I believe social media is a fundamental way in which we communicate and is relevant to all industry sectors.

In the past year I’ve introduced social media strategies into policing, religious and educational organisations – none of which are interested in making profit. The core objective for each was to enhance their existing work and to align with their business goals through their channels of communication. Let me give you an example when I worked with the policing organisation they expressed the need to communicate with all their stakeholders on urgent messages and in real-time social media provided them with the perfect channel. Another example is educational organisations who wanted to appeal to prospective students by showcasing the experience of attending their college. They knew their target market and that social media is where they could have conversations with them.

There is no place for excuses in pursuing a social media strategy.

“You don’t have a choice of whether to do social; it’s a case of how well you do it.”

Erik Qualman, Social Media award-winning author and strategist

I recently attended a doctor’s appointment and was pleasantly surprised to find out that he was on Twitter and an avid an enthusiastic user of it. Following my consultation I followed him and in actual fact it’s been one of the most useful follows for me in recent months.

During my consultation he was describing my ailment and proposed treatment, based on current research and the results of studies. Now if you are like me, when I’m in a medical appointment, much of it can go over my head and once outside the door I’ve forgotten most of what my doctor has said.

I was anxious to get to the root of my problem and even more anxious to get a speedy remedy.

Later that night I went on Twitter and searched his Twitter history only to find the source of the research he had mentioned during my consultation, the stated remedy and links to much more relevant information that I began to read.

It resulted in me taking more charge of my ailment, researching it in my own time, and being more encouraged to commit to his prescribed recommendations. So I asked myself? Why can’t all medical, educational and public sector employees communicate on social media to benefit the customer just as profit making companies do?

I know there can be challenges to all companies engaging in social media such as an understanding into what social media is, policies or procedures that need to be in place that prohibit its use and even fear of how to handle a crisis or conflict.

However I really do believe that it’s time to hand over the reigns of social media to your staff. Take full control away from your PR advisor and empower your team with knowledge and skills. I understand that this takes time and in a lot of cases training. But how can you be more human if your social networks are being run by bots or PR advisors only?

You are in a people-centered job and conversations are at the heart of it.

So how does a large, conservative and reluctant organisation such as the HSE get their staff front of screen on social media – consultants, GPs, nurses, radiographers, and administrative staff?

You simply begin to work on creating a culture that espouses transparency, connectedness with patients/customers and a realisation that social media is and will be a fundamental way in which we communicate, just as email was when it was mainstreamed in the mid 1990s.

Using social media the HSE can succeed in so many ways, from customer satisfaction to reduced in-bound calls, to greater participation in their health roadmap to closer relationships and greater transparency.

I remember working as a broadcast journalist in a local radio station and learning the importance of being engaged and involved in stories that affect your company. In helping to tell the story I sought responses from relevant organisations and even with a ‘no comment’ response, the story was still broadcast but without the voice of the company.

That worked to a certain extent years ago but now and in health there are already citizen journalists (patients with recording devices and voices on Twitter) so ‘no comment’ won’t fly anymore. This is not an option anymore for organisations, the culture has to change.

I strongly believe its now about conversations as opposed to comments. Wouldn’t you like to let the world know how hard your staff work, how committed they are and what the HSE does for this country?

The day will come, but why wait? I think it’s great to see the HSE taking control of their own future with their #eHealthHour and #IrishMed that they are involved with. I encourage them to continue with their digital journey and get more social. We as customers want and expect it and I suspect many staff and managers do too. You just need the ‘how to’ and well that part that can be learned.

About the author

Joanne Sweeney-Burke is a communications professional having worked as a broadcast journalist, PR practitioner and lecturer as well as CEO in various business roles.

She is CEO of Digital Training Institute and is dedicated to bringing individuals and organisations into the digital age with her consultancy and training services. She is the author of Social Media Under Investigation, Law Enforcement and the Social Web, which takes a forensic look at how police forces are using social media. She is currently writing her second social media themed book.

Joanne is a regular speaker at major social media and digital marketing conferences including Social Media Summit (Dublin), Big Data Retail Analytics Forum (London), SMILE conference (social media, the Internet and law enforcement – Phoenix, Arizona) and Digital Citizenship Summit (Bournemouth University). She has also taken to the TEDx stage in Omagh.

Follow Joanne on Twitter @tweetsbyJSB

Add her on Snapchat jsbsnaps

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