Earlier this year I suggested to a few colleagues the idea of setting up Ayrshirehealth, a blog focused loosely around the topic of healthcare – there was no theme or corporate vision to be followed, no underpinning direction that had to be travelled. This diversity of content and approach would be the strength of the blog, and potentially it’s weakness as it was unlikely to deliver a consistency of style.
So what was the future-focus? What was the change we wanted to be? In the end it was rather straightforward, there was simply a desire to share knowledge and opinion, to challenge readers, indeed ourselves, on a journey of communicating ‘differently’ i.e. in a blog.
Eleanor Roosevelt (http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/35592.html) said “do one thing every day that scares you”, elsewhere she said “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face….. you must do the thing you think you cannot do” – admittedly starting and writing ayrshirehealth blog is hardly the bravest endeavour of mankind. The ‘why’ of this blog is however something that ‘scares’ me, in trying to challenge the status quo within my own area of ‘we don’t do social media’. At the point of making the original suggestion there were only a handful of colleagues openly ‘doing social media’ and even then we did it relatively quietly.
I wanted to share why we should be embracing technology, used in new(ish) ways. But why me, why should anyone listen, what made me a leader?
– I might be corrected by a variety of commenters who know more about the subject than I do (of course I might also learn a lot from them as a result).
– Additionally I might also learn more as, through online comments, readers may expand on what I had to say within the blogs.
I wasn’t sure myself that I could actually answer the question of ‘why me?’, so rather than do nothing I recruited a number of interested and erudite colleagues: perhaps Roosevelt would say I took the easy route out. However Ayrshirehealth was born.
Being a nurse I’m not very good at charting progress or measuring outcomes – as a profession we tend to just do things (apologies to all those nurses who are very good in this area, we need more of you).
Taking lessons from our SPSP improvement programme I laid out a driver diagram (thanks to @craigwhitephd & @suzi_hannah for input to this) to explore the ‘why’ of Ayrshirehealth, then set a target for readership – 3000 reads of the blog by 31.12.12, I reckoned we should aim high, after all we had six months to achieve it.
The advantage of the adopting a driver diagram approach over the more traditional SMART objective route is that it draws together a number of building blocks to the process and helps you to focus on WHY, not just how much and by when.
However I also think our objective was SMART in that we knew – how much, by when.
Initially we posted simultaneously on WordPress and Storify, however Storify was dropped in July as it lacked utility for this purpose.
We’ve published 37 blogs since June, engaging an international readership across 65 countries where the blog has been read
just under make that just over 6000 times (changed since first draft of this blog). Ok, I know that for some countries, someone has read the blog only once, but it proves that it wasn’t me reading the blog 6000 times: unless of course I was clocking up substantial air-miles.
It is indisputable that we have offered opinion, have shared knowledge and have challenged thinking.
From my perspective it’s been an enjoyable journey so far, no-one has missed their deadline for submission (although 23:50 on deadline night is cutting it fine).
We’ve engaged local colleagues in writing and reading the blog; it’s been talked about and referred to as a source of opinion, we’ve had blogs from patients, a patient organisation and from several national colleagues bringing a guest perspective to our thoughts and challenges: many thanks to each of them and to each of our Ayrshire bloggers – without whom there would be no blogs.
Thank you to everyone who has read the blog, those who have ‘liked’ it, those of you who have come back again and those who have left comments: we appreciate everyone’s contribution and support – without you there would be little point to the blogs.
Perhaps as 2012 draws to a close its time to refresh our vision for the blog, to set new and challenging targets for what we want to achieve – or may we’ll just keep on doing it because we enjoy it.
BTW – the blog is also available through http://www.facebook.com/ayrshirehealth
@dtbarron is an Associate Nurse Director, Mental Health Services in NHS Ayrshire & Arran (@nhsaaa) and Chair of the Mental Health Nursing Forum Scotland. Info at: about.me/dtbarron
Next week @fionacmcqueen blogs for the first time on Ayrshirehealth.