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...
From online social networks to codesign in digital health

From online social networks to codesign in digital health

I set this blog up just over four years ago in January 2012 both to record my online ethnographic PhD research and with the hope of having conversations that would help inform my thinking and enable me to share my learning along the way. After four years of working full time, compressing five days into four and doing research on the extra day I’d squeezed out of the week, I finally had my viva on Friday. I passed the assessors’ grilling with four minor corrections and am basking in a profound sense of relief and delight in equal measure. My research was about online social networks and mental health with a heavy focus on the now departed The World of Mentalists blog and ecosystem around it. I have many people to be grateful to for in helping me think about this topic over the last four years. In particular I’d like to thank all my interviewees for sharing their time and expertise (you know who you are) and to everyone who welcomed me into the madosphere. I’d also like to thank Phil, Mark, Sue, James and Kat for many a Skype, phone call, meet up and often conference podium where we shared our thinking about mental health and online social networks with various audiences. During those four years  my interests have developed beyond online social networks to digital technologies in health, with a particular focus on co-design and ethics. I’ve clocked up 133 posts on this blog and recently changed its title  to reflect those broader interests. A few years ago I set up mHabitat which comprises an ever...
Is digital technology a technical or adaptive problem in health?

Is digital technology a technical or adaptive problem in health?

Around three years ago I was invited to speak at a consultant psychiatrists committee meeting about social media and digital technology. I was mid way through my PhD and steeped in online ethnographic research about how people accessing mental health services and practitioners were making use of social networks. I had an inkling that I would have a mixed audience and I knew that not everyone would share my (then*) enthusiasm. As such I spent time preparing a range of compelling examples of digital technologies and social media practices, determined as I was to win over any detractors. I arrived a little early and so listened in to the tail end of an exasperated discussion about the various grinding limitations, obstacles and shortcomings of the in-house electronic patient record (EPR). If my audience’s primary experience of technology in health was such a bad one, then this did not bode well for my presentation – I quickly realised I was going to have to recalibrate. How could I be so naive as to think a conversation about the future potential of digital technologies would be welcomed, when the basics of reliable and effective electronic patient records seemed like a pipe dream? This experience came back to me whilst reading The Digital Doctor – Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age (Wachter, 2015) which is dominated by an expansive analysis of the shortcomings of contemporary electronic patient records. Wachter argues that EPRs have brought many a physician ‘to their knees’ with their clunky, confusing and complex systems (73). It is salutary to note that three years on...