Blog posts

We post any pre-reading and summary posts of the chats here for you all to read. We also blog during the week on all matters of tech, strategy, commisioning support and patient experience use of social media.

One app, Five Ways to Wellbeing: An app is born

September 19th, 2013 by

Today sees the launch of the free Five Ways to Wellbeing app for iOS and Android devices.

You may remember back at the end of April the initial testing stage of the app. After many hours of graft we’ve got to the exciting time – launch!

1.   Connect
2.   Be Active
3.   Take Notice
4.   Keep Learning
5.   Give

The app takes the ever popular and evidence-based Five Ways to Wellbeing and puts them in an easy to use and flexible format. By setting activities for any of the Five Ways you can help improve your wellbeing and reflect on how your activities affect it.

The app isn’t prescriptive. It sets no minimum or maximum limits. You can use the Five Ways every day or just a few times a month. It’s all about finding a level that suits you personally.

So, download it now for free from Google Play or the Apple App Store and have a play. You never know, it could change your whole outlook on life…

Get it on Google Play

VOIP/Skype and the #NHS Wed 23rd April #nhssm

April 21st, 2014 by

By @MJSeres

In 2011/2012 the Dept of Health stated that a staggering 5.5 million healthcare appointments were missed. One wonders what that cost must be to the NHS. How many millions does that equate too? As a long term patient who visits hospital almost every week I often sit and wonder why a patient just doesn’t show. I also see first-hand the impact that has on my own appointment. Often being kept waiting as patients fail to turn up or watching as doctors shout out names to a crowded waiting room for no one to reply.

Have you ever analysed an outpatient clinic or a GP surgery’s waiting room? How many patients are there for a routine follow up or to receive routine test results? How much time is spent by patients travelling to and from these types of appointments and how much time does it take a doctor and their team to prepare for them? In December 2013 “Macmillan Cancer Support said the system of six monthly check-ups for those recovering from the disease is no good for patients – and could bankrupt the health service unless it is radically overhauled.” That was for cancer follow ups what about other routine appointments. And so with all of these thoughts my mind turned to the use of VIOP and more specifically skype calls. It transpired that I was already five years too late. In 2009 the website talked about the use of telephone calls for routine appointments.

By 2010 skype had over 663 million users online at any one time and was starting to make a huge impact in our lives, including our health.

So I will admit to being a skype convert. For over a year I have worked with my clinician to develop a skype clinic for our bowel transplant patients. For the first few sessions they were held at the clinician’s house whilst the Trust refused to allow it to take place. Now it is common practice.

We are not alone though at Oxford. In 2013 Time Magazine wrote an article entitled “Saving U.S. Health Care With Skype” and in March 2014 a pilot scheme was announced for GPs to connect 40,000 patients using new technologies. It has been estimated by NHS managers that the use of skype calls could reduce outpatient appointments by 35%.

Logically therefore you might say that it is a no brainer. It is never as simple as that. In August 2013 the Office of National Statistics confirmed that 17% of the population do not have access to the internet. If skype calls are therefore offered it will not be available to all. The NHS prides itself on offering access to all.

The United States, which granted, has a different healthcare model to us, has sited business reasons as to why skype is not good for our health. Business Insider wrote an article in 2012 that it could in fact cost jobs. At the same time blogs were written expressing worry about safety, legalities and compliance. In Oklahoma a physician even faced prosecution.

Putting the US reasons to one side I think the debate around data is perhaps at the heart of those who express concerns. The furore around projects such as haven’t helped. Patients are naturally concerned about how their data will be stored and potentially shared. Recently Camden CCG announced they would be using skype technology. “We’re the only CCG to have accredited safe haven status, meaning the data will be secure within our system,” they stated.

So at a time when the NHS is under huge financial strain is the use of VOIP and Skype an inevitable tool to be used. Actually I would argue that it is patients who are pushing hardest for the change. As a long term patient I want to use technology to interact with the health in the same way as I do for shopping, banking and communicating. Skype is just one tool.


Learning from last night’s #nhssm & #WeComsers chat on #SocialMedia & Commissioning

April 10th, 2014 by

I really enjoyed the frenetic but informative tweetchat held last night between #nhssm & #WeComsers. Here’s a link to the chat archive.

I found those taking part enthusiastic for the potential of social media and where commissioners are already using it.

I think it is fair to say that many CSUs and CCGs are in the early days of their social media journeys. Many organisations are still thinking about what platforms to adopt and getting leadership buy-in. The next stage of utilising social media is increasing patient participation, engagement and measuring these.

It is also recognising that sufficient capacity and resourcing is required. Social Media is cheaper than traditional engagement methods but it is not free. (Whilst opening a Twitter account is free, staffing it is not.)

With the number of social media accounts increasing I would also recommend that organisations work together to ensure that important potential learning isn’t lost in the echo chamber. There is a lot of noise in the social space right now and it is important for organisations to really think about whether what they are sharing is useful and informative or just adding to the din.

Finally the importance of listening to your audience and going where patients and the public already use social media to hold conversations. This as @DGFoord should mirror what commissioners are doing ‘in real life’. Getting out there and talking to people.


Bringing NHS wayfinding into Google Maps

August 13th, 2013 by


As part of my work at St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust I’ve been working with Google to create an indoor map of St George’s Hospital in Tooting. An indoor map allows anyone using Google Maps to see a floor by floor layout of Wards, Departments and points of interests such as cash machines, shops, toilets etc.

The maps also allow users to search for a ward and a pin will be dropped on the ward so they can see where it is. They can then navigate to the ward from their current location, much like in the normal Google Maps. Once this functionality has matured patients will be able to navigate from their door to their ward from directly within Google Maps.

Google Maps is the most used app on Smartphones globally and has over 1,000,000,000 active users a month. By bringing Hospital wayfinding into the a widely used tool it increases discovery, doesn’t require any extra effort from the user (they would be using Google Maps to get to the hospital) and thanks to the ecosystem built around Google Maps filters down into other apps.

Of course while Google Maps is a really great platform there are others such as Apple’s maps on iOS, Bing and OpenStreetMap. Currently these platforms don’t offer anything similar to Google’s indoor maps, and certain platforms like Apple’s maps don’t show more than a big red blob for St George’s. Luckily we now have our site drawings in a format we can use to add detail to the other platforms and knowledge of how the different types of map object work to make these details easy to find, and interact with.

Should the NHS be looking to make its wayfinding information publically available via existing tools or should NHS trusts continue to create their own tools?

What would you want from a tweeting CEO?

June 4th, 2013 by

This week we’ll be continuing the roll #NHSEngage has started and having a look at what staff, patients, the media and public would want from NHS CEOs who are using or thinking of using social media.

As well as #NHSEngage (led by NHS Employers) this week’s topic has been inspired by the recent Weber Shandwick questionnaire-led research on what executives think their CEOs should, should not or could being using social media for.

So, as well as the research (see the infographic for a run down) pre-reading this week is the following blogs:

See you at 8pm!

p.s. something you might also like to think about ahead of time is what about the introvert CEOs? Do they just have to get on the social media bandwagon and push their personalities out there or can social media and introversion be the best of friends?