Monday, 10 November 2008

Learning communication techniques is important for spread and safety

I'm freshly back from a fabulous 2 day masterclass with a group who actively particiapted in developing their own communication skills. This was more than ideas on how to develop a technical communication plan. This was a group of individuals who spend time in front of video cameras and then assessed their own performance - with the aim of giving each other feedback and consequently improving their skills.

So often when communication is mentioned in the context of spreading good practice we default to "how to develop a communication plan". Yet I know from working with this groups, as with other groups I encounter, that it is only when we get to the finer details of communication and behaviour does anything really change.

Communication itself is an important topic. There is oodles of research about which demonstrates the link between communication and performance, communication and financial outcomes, communication and patient outcomes. In the current copy of International Journal for quality in Healthcare there is another excellent research report demonstrating how communication is linked to medical disputes.

My feeling is we can get further in the goal of spreading good practice when we pay attention to the details, like how individuals communicate with one another and resist the temptation to focus only on technical planning.

I also suggest we can stop researching the link between communication and outcomes and focus on making the desired communication changes.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Turn any URL into an RSS Feed using Feedbeater

I use RSS Feeds as a way to receive information as it is updated on websites and without having to resort to filling my email inbox with more messages. They go directly to my Reader (I use Google) and when I am ready I browse through what I have received.

One of the annoyances I have is how many websites seem not to have RSS Feeds. Many of these are in healthcare and the quality improvement world where there is interesting content but the site hasn't been updated to provide feeds.

I use to create my own feed for the site and then register it directly into my Reader. It is simple, takes less than 15 seconds and then I am receiving updates when they happen and I'm not reliant of having to remember to go back to the website to check.

Why are RSS Feeds important for the spread of good practice? One main reason is they spread your information to those who want to receive it without you sending out newsletters. I can then forward info etc. If you're not providing an RSS Feed then those of us who want info need to take this extra step by using something like Feedbeater.

Mapping the spread of good practice by geocoding

One of the dimensions often forgotten when we're measuring the spread of good practice is place / geography. There is much theory about how messages spread location by location. If you're curious to provide visual mapping techniques to go along with your results charts, then geocoding is useful.

There are many websites that provide the ability to turn an address into its longitude and latitude reference, and then place a pin on a map to show where it is (geocoding). A new website is now available where you can map multiple places (show in groups to distinguish between the timing of an adoption of a good practice). is where you can upload your addresses (a fun thing to do is to take your Outlook address book, file as they suggest and then upload - you get to see where in the world your contacts are!). A map is produced and you can then file this so you can embed it in a website or even create google earth files.

It is a one page process that is not difficult to do if you follow the directions carefully.

If you come up with ideas on how to use this in your improvement work then I'd love to hear about.