On Thursday this week I got up very early and trundled off to London for the CCIO Annual Nursing conference. The conference had lots of great speakers but one speaker stood out for me:
Sarah Amani is a mental health nurse turned manager and I have been following her on Twitter and reading her blog “Mental Health Geek” for some time so I was very keen to learn more about her. Sarah gave a fascinating presentation about a mental health phone app that she has developed and whilst I did find this very interesting it was something that she said during the course of her presentation that really got me thinking. Technology is moving, developing and evolving at an exponential rate and because of this we are encountering problems in healthcare. Historically in healthcare anything new has been tested and assessed and then tested and assessed again then written about, then peer reviewed, then published and then we might think about dissemination. However Sarah’s point was that the difficulty we are encountering is if we apply this method to technology the technology will be outdated before we even get part way through the process. Well I could have shaken her by the hand (and in fact did!) because although Sarah was talking about phone apps the same applies to many technologies in healthcare including social media…
Taking twitter as an example: Twitter has only been around since 2006 and has really only taken off in healthcare in the UK over the past 18 months. This is a very short time period and the way in which individuals use Twitter seems to change as the mood takes them and with what’s on trend. However this doesn’t mean that it isn’t valuable or doesn’t work as a healthcare communication and support tool but how can we prove it works if methods of proof are slower than a snails pace in a slow snail race on a slow day?
Now those academics amongst you please brace yourselves and try not to break out into a cold sweat but I believe that we need to look differently at how we test this value. We need to consider the use of stories from those who we are trying to reach and those who find value and consider sharing this via blogs and encourage our peers to review via comments. Social media is very fast and constantly evolving but it is extremely unforgiving in that if it doesn’t work it isn’t shared and adopted, so we should also look to measures that show sharing and adoption. Whilst we are very good at measuring and collecting the numbers I think that with our social media projects we should encourage more review and comments to really start to prove worth and so we can ascertain what works and what doesn’t in a more strategic manner. I believe that this will help us to drive rather than fall into solutions but I would love to hear what you think?
A big thank you to Sarah Amani for providing me with the inspiration for this blog and food for thought !