Posted by: ayrshirehealth | May 29, 2013

Ayrshirehealth Reviewed – a year of blogging by @dtbarron

Begin with the end in mind

In my own person blog last month I used a quote from Stephen Covey – Begin with the end in mind.  It seemed appropriate, in this the final blog of year one for Ayrshirehealth to go back to the beginning, to consider the original aims of the blog and to review some stats from our first year as well as reflect on what has been achieved.

Ayrshire health was launched on the 1st June 2012, however preparatory work had taken place prior to that, both in terms of who would contribute and what the actual aim of the blog was.  Using a Driver Diagram approach (familiar to everyone involved in clinical improvement programmes), the desired outcome was set out:

Ayrshirehealth Driver Diagramm

In the December 28th blog Meeting expectations – Ayrshirehealth reviewed I gave a snapshot review of the blog.  I thought I’d share a little more detail in this blog, and review each element of the Driver diagram.

Primary drivers

Develop the eHealth infrastructure

Establish blog identifier and wordpress account – completed: the avatar and background picture can be seen at the top of the blog, the Twitter feed and Facebook account.

Storify was dropped, while a great utility for harvesting discussions on Twitter, it didn’t really give the flexibility that this blog required.

Ensure direction, co-ordination and oversight

Self managementEstablishing the group of bloggers – An initial group of bloggers were identified and agreed to contribute, while they are still a core part of the team the blogging ‘pool’ has expanded significantly .  There have now been 39 bloggers who have contributed during the year, seven of whom have contributed three times and six have blogged twice.  Additionally the bloggers have not all come from Ayrshire, we have had a number of guest bloggers (12) who have contributed excellent blogs during the year.

In terms of expertise our bloggers have a wide variety of experience, including:

  • Twelve nurses
  • Seven allied health professionals
  • Five doctors
  • Two chief executives
  • Two managers
  • Two third sector representatives and
  • one (each) patient, psychologist, social worker, politician (Cabinet Secretary), civil servant and journalist.

Establish a timeline for blogging – initially the blog posted every Friday morning at 07.30hrs, it was a convenient time to post.  However it became apparent that this caused difficulties some weeks for #weeklyblogclub timings as their cut-off time was always a Thursday.  As we wanted to support and be supported by the #weeklyblogclub the time of posting was changed, in January, to Wednesday mornings at 07.30hrs.

System for supporting administration – although there was an initial system to support the blog, which was invaluable in the early days, this has been largely superseded by direct engagement with individual bloggers.  To date only one person has declined the invitation to blog and two people have failed to meet the deadline, which required others to step in a very short notice to ensure that a blog has been posted each week – to those that have stepped in (you know who you are), many thanks from me and from our readers.

Support active engagement and promotion of the blog aims

handshakeBlog contributors will actively support the blog – in the entire venture thus far this would be the only grey (mildly disappointing) aspect of the project: not all bloggers retweet or appear to promote the blog of fellow contributors.  However that is far overshadowed by the many others who support the blog by retweeting or tweeting from the site itself, those that have shared LinkedIn updates and those that have ‘Liked’ the Facebook page.  To date we have had 20 ‘Likes’ on Facebook, which by all accounts is not a massive amount, however its not an avenue that we heavily promote, it is simply there as an optional method which some will prefer.  The Twitter account has 204 followers, with the blog itself having 325 followers.

Encourage bloggers and provide direction AND Provide direct control over the blog

39 bloggers counts as encouraging bloggers in my book!  The ‘direction provided’ to bloggers is extensive in content and goes along the lines of – “300-900 words on any health related topic of your choice, if you’ve got a couple of pictures as well that would help” – pretty comprehensive I would have thought.   For more information regarding the control element of the blog please read the ‘About‘ section on the home page of the blog.

Encourage promotion of the blog to a wide readership – through the use of Twitter, the retweets and tweets from followers and supporters we have reached readers in 85 countries, with 11820 total number of views of the blog during the year.

  • 9800 visits in the UK
  • 700 in the USA
  • 250 in Australia
  • 200 in Canada
  • in 62 countries we have seen return readers, with the remaining countries only have a single reader during the year.

Our most read blog has been read 990 times, with our least read blog only being read 24 times; the home page has been visited 2776 times.


Our tops themes during the year have been:

  • Clinical improvement
  • Collaboration
  • Change
  • Accountability
  • Patient Safety

All bloggers on #Ayrshirehealth are also on Twitter, there is no fundamental reason for this other than the ongoing promotion of the blog itself i.e. in the secondary driver above, the method of co-supporting and promoting the blog was considered to be Twitter – perhaps at some point this will be revisited as a criteria to be a blogger (but my advice is not to hold your breath for that happening).

blogOne aspect of the blog that was not explicitly considered was how Ayrshirehealth could encourage other similar projects.  I’m delighted that Ayrshirehealth has played a small part in leading the way for other excellent blogs to pick up the baton and join in the sharing of knowledge and opinion across Scotland and beyond – DGHealth and AHPScot – we will continue to co-support each other in using social media as an additional avenue to engage and share with our readers.

Perhaps now is a good time to revisit the Driver Diagram, although I’m not actually sure what phase two should actually say: any thoughts/comments are welcome.

Thank you for reading the blog, for everyone who has tweeted and retweeted, to those who have shared via other medium – additionally I’d like to thank the IT Department in NHS Ayrshire & Arran who have lifted access to the blog which allows staff to access the blog and /or follow it.  Everyone’s support is much appreciated, we hope to see you all in year two – please let me know your thoughts, perhaps ideas for future blogs.

@dtbarron is Interim Executive Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions in NHS Orkney.

Next week @profawallace leads a month of blogs from Early Clinical Careers Fellows from NHS Ayrshire and Arran.  Although Executive Nurse Director in NHS Forth Valley @profawallace was also Chair of the ECCF National Steering Group.  Bloggers for June are:

@profawallace – @ikanerz – mz_kimb – @taylor1211987


  1. Very interesting post. Thank you.

  2. […] Ayrshirehealth Reviewed – a year of blogging by Derek Barron on the Ayrshire Health blog. […]

  3. […] Ayrshirehealth Reviewed – a year of blogging by Derek Barron on the Ayrshire Health blog. […]

  4. Really interesting to read this as I’ve started a blog for our department. I’ve been looking for examples of other authorities doing similar things so this is great. Also its great to read the “backstage” details of how you set it up too. I’ve been getting folk interested in contributing to our blog, with a new team starting soon, but I like the way you’ve used a far more structured approach.

    • Thanks for your comment – I try to encourage a wide range of bloggers from within my organisation and also feature guest bloggers to introduce different perspectives. The basic premise is to share expertise and/or opinion and to engage more widely than traditional methods. Another blog you may be interested in is Good luck with your departmental blog – it takes a wee bit of organising, but it’s great fun.

  5. […] be time to suggest we end it. Derek Barron had recently mentioned us as being helpful when he wrote Ayrshirehealth Reviewed – a year of blogging. Kate Bentham had written recently about Weekly Blog Club encouraging her to blog. Then this week, […]

  6. […] In the final blog of Ayrshirehealth’s first year Ayrshirehealth reviewed – a year of blogging @dtbarron summarises some of the key aspects of the blog, starting with the original Driver […]

  7. […] of the blog, seeing readership in over 120 countries was beyond anything I had imagined, even if year one stats made interesting […]

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