Connected realities – what do practitioners need to know about teens’ online lives?

Connected realities – what do practitioners need to know about teens’ online lives?

“What if we thought about the internet a resource to be deployed rather than as a problem to be solved?” (Jenkins et al, 2016, p.36)  What if we move our focus from a deficit orientated understanding of the online lives of teens to an asset-orientated approach which builds on young people’s strengths? And what does this mean for practitioners working with teens who have mental health difficulties? Perhaps there are better ways of approaching teens’ online lives that enable us to be more effective practitioners. I am endlessly intrigued by teens’ use of the internet, social media and digital technologies. It is a fascination brought about in equal parts from observing my three teenagers and from the many and various projects we do with teens at mHabitat. I am particularly curious about how health and care practitioners help teens navigate the digital sphere (or not) in their everyday work. Practitioners are worried about the impact of social media on teens, concerned about risk, and at the same time drawn to how apps could help deliver care. Meanwhile teens are frustrated about adults’ lack of understanding about their online lives and are looking for guidance and support which is often lacking. This set of disconnected realities between teens and practitioners is the subject of a book I am writing with Dr James Woollard. It is a guide for practitioners to help them explore, understand and appreciate teens’ online lives; and to enable them to incorporate this understanding into their work with adolescents affected by mental health difficulties. The book will bring together the evidence along with stories derived from my...
Digital leadership – kill or cure?

Digital leadership – kill or cure?

Is there such a thing as digital leadership? This article for the Harvard Business Review makes the case for it and this online course says it will teach you the requisite skills. But is there anything qualitatively different to being a leader and to being a digital leader? This question has been on my mind recently: firstly because I was recently invited by Mike Chitty and James Freed to speak on this topic at their ‘kill digital’ session at eHealth Week in which they put the notion of digital leadership under the spotlight and gave it a good kicking about; secondly because I’m co-delivering an mHabitat learning set for a group of leaders who are responsible for transforming care through digital technologies in eight of the new models of care vanguards. What are the qualities required of NHS and social care leaders who are transforming services enabled by digital? Here is what our learning set participants identified: Enthusiasm– the ability to enthuse and engage others Tenacity – keeping on when others might give up and remaining focused on the task Curiosity – being open minded and keen to find novel ways to improve services Reflective – learning from mistakes and finding new ways to move forward Credible – the ability to gather information, to be well informed and to make the case Collaborative – being willing to collaborate to get things done Having courage – trying new things and take calculated risks Pragmatic – starting small and adapting to new circumstances. None of the above qualities are specific to digital technologies but all relate to the ability to work...
How can digital innovators give their ideas the best chance of adoption in the NHS?

How can digital innovators give their ideas the best chance of adoption in the NHS?

So you’ve got a fantastic idea for a digital technology or maybe you’ve developed something which you think could add value to the NHS. How do you give your idea the very best chance of adoption in a health service which is still only just beginning to understand the potential value of digital technology as an enabler to better health and care? I recently ran a workshop on this theme at the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network Digital Health and Wellbeing Ecosystem meet-up.  With a room full of people who have thought about this tricky question from many different angles I think we made some way towards finding a few answers. So here are 15 tips for starters: 1.Build adoption in from the get-go It may sound obvious but our adoption map made it clear that adoption must be built into the very beginning of your idea development. Considering at the end may only lead to having to go back to the beginning again. 2. Develop your core idea (or understanding of the problem you are trying to solve) before you think about technology Sounds obvious too? But it’s worth noting the technology isn’t always the answer and if it is the answer then you can only know that once you’ve defined the problem well. 3. Identify your *user* *chooser* and *buyer* The person who uses your technology (perhaps a patient) may not be the person who chooses the technology (a health practitioner) who may not be the person who can buy your technology (provider or commissioner). Take them all into account early on and identify benefit...
15 top tips for co-design in digital health

15 top tips for co-design in digital health

The mHabitat team are currently running a Digital Development Lab on behalf of NHS England for a small group of innovators who have developed promising digital innovations for young people’s mental health. We are helping them travel the journey from development through to adoption within the NHS. We recently brought our lovely band of innovators together for a couple of days of shared learning on a number of hot topics. I’m going to be writing a short post on each topic and first up is the fundamental importance of co-design in digital health. Helping us think about this topic was Andy Mayer of Yoomee fame, Matt Edgar of many things including Global Service Jam, and our regular collaborator Mark Brown from Social Spider. Whilst they shared their wisdom I furiously scribbled down a collection of top tips. Follow these simple rules and you won’t go far wrong: Should we even do it? – rather than start with ‘can it be built?’ begin the conversation with ‘should it be built?’ The answer to the first is usually ‘yes’ and the answer to the latter is often ‘no’ What don’t we know? – be honest with yourselves about what you do and don’t know – test your hypotheses and ask questions as you go Find your fans – start with your prospective users from the get-go and create a fan base – a community of people who are really up for collaborating with you It’s all about context – understand what tasks your prospective users are trying to accomplish in their context (not just who they are) so your innovation is...
The gap between hyperbole and reality in digital health

The gap between hyperbole and reality in digital health

Looking back at what the mHabitat team have been up to in 2016, I am convinced more than ever that the gap between the hyperbole of digital health and reality in practice remains a yawning chasm. There have been moments in the year when I’ve been quite taken aback by the distance we have yet to travel in utilising even the most basic and ubiquitous of technologies to improve healthcare. Here are three  stories that have stuck in my mind from our co-design work during 2016 to give a sense of what I mean. They aren’t heroic stories of great leadership and transformative change, but rather everyday stories of things not working quite right, and that’s sort of the point. Doing the simple things well (or not) It was during a co-design workshop with a health service that young people described how they value the text messaging reminder service. A good example whereby a ubiquitous technology is used to keep in touch and a solid foundation to build on. However participants were dismayed when a member of staff brought down the box with the office non-smartphone that is brought out daily to send each message individually with each number punched in for every single message that is sent. The staff explained how, to save time, they type the message in one of their (personal) smartphones and then text it to the device and then forward it onto their recipients. They went on to demonstrate how the phone will only hold 50 messages so they have to wipe them each time they want to send out a new set of...
Layers of delight (and the joy of online social networks with my teens)

Layers of delight (and the joy of online social networks with my teens)

Ok, so I know there are plenty of aspects of online social networks that are problematic. Particularly for teens. But sometimes I reflect on ways in which online social networks, and our smartphones, afford layers of connection between myself and my three children (12, 14 and 17) which give me unmitigated joy and delight. Things are expressed that would never be said face to face. Experiences can be shared even when we are far apart. We can collaborate in novel and pleasurable ways. Here are just ten examples… Sharing special moments from afar – the time when my daughter allowed me to share her first experience of Glastonbury festival by sending me WhatsApp video clips of the moment when she met her favourite music artist Helping each other out – all the times when my daughter asks for my advice on her clothing purchases via Facetime from shop dressing rooms Bad humour– the atrocious comedy memes and GIFs via WhatsApp from my son Saying what can’t be said in person – my daughter congratulating me on passing my PhD viva via text message when she could only be tetchy to my face Liking my stuff – when my son hearts my Instagram posts and his friends (bizarrely) start following my account Keeping a close but surreptitious eye – my daughter blocking me on Facebook only to allow her BFF to friend me so that she can spy on my posts via her account Sharing the love – my daughter sending me heart emojis and telling me she loves me via WhatsApp when she will never say it to my...