A short blog on my views on digital leadership in eHealth and the wider environment…

It’s all in the words…

Organisations looking at how to modernise healthcare through the deployment of digital solutions are in the process of falling over themselves to get the descriptions and the words right. Recently I have seen two articles published, one refers to health informatics dropping the ‘e’ from eHealth to gain engagement and another refers to persuading doctors that they do not ‘need’ digital health as the first step to engagement in technology.

If we are to deploy digital solutions into the way health is provided to a whole country then the winning of friends and influencing people is clearly a giant leap to be made. The possibility of procuring something against an outcomes basis is now a reality and the describing of technology and its impact on the delivery of healthcare is the way to get the most engagement in this process.

The challenge of leading a digital revolution to a group of people who either know more (or best) or want to know nothing is a leadership challenge not unique to health, so what lessons are out there that health can learn from?

Number one is openness I think, let us get the plan out there, share the outcomes, or better still inspire the outcomes to be described to the technologists by the people who will use the digital solutions. The next has to be the trickiest, get rid of the technobabble, but, still keep the innovation descriptions, and that is so very difficult. A technologist understands the terms and doesn’t want to lose them, a none techie will be turned off within two sentences of talk of Cat5 cables and HL7 translations.

To try to get over this we are banning the phrase ‘the business’. We are trying, and it is going to be hard, to place the delivery of digital health solutions within the healthcare system, removing the IT conceived opinion that it is IT and ‘the business’. Simple things like having a single point of contact for different areas of healthcare provision all the way up the management structure will help us do this.

We also are trying to turn clinicians into fans, not users! To a clinician the term ‘user’ can mean something quite different and needs a large amount of careful treatment! If we can turn clinicians into fans of what technology can do for them then engagement will become easier to make use of and benefits quicker to release.

The psychology of digital leadership looks set to run and run but still comes back to some basic principles, get to know the customer, engage them through personal relationships and build trust, sounds easy really, but with a single language it will be a whole lot easier!