Friday, 19 December 2008

Visualising data to engage others

So I feel like I just died and went to heaven. The data nerdy part of me likes to find ways to capture and then show information in a way that makes sense and meaning. Too often I see the basic excel chart (not even bothering to change the colours) which does little to inspire me. We know from evidence and experience that capturing the imagination and interest of those we are influencing to change is key.

I clicked on a button and found Google's Visualization API gallery. These are the applications written by Google or 3rd parties. So if you want to put your values on a map, create annotated time series graphs, generate bar graphs with humour, trnslate a table of data into something visual, create an interactive map, show several indicators over time - I could go on. Seeing is believing. There are sections on maps, google, charts, fun, tables, analytics, project, text and other - enough to keep you amused for hours. Go here only if you have at least an hour to spare to play and be inspired...

Monitter (spelling correct!) who is saying what about you on Twitter

So there are many conversations going on in Twitter-world - how can you find out who is saying what about you, your project, your organisation? is a free tool which requires no login process. Just enter up to three keywords and then sit back and watch the details unfold on your screen. Like eavesdropping with no sound.

All marketing and communications departments need to check out these conversations.

Positive Deviance recognised for MRSA reduction work

I blogged about Positive Deviance as a change and spread methodology a few months back. It is rewarding to see that the concept is listed in the 8th Annual Year in Ideas Issue of the New York Times Magazine

What I like about PD is it provides a different, yet proven, methodlogy for large scale change that is less "problem" focused. It works on the positive rather than the negative and in my experience is a less stressful and more rewarding improvement process in which to participate.

One of the most famous uses of Positive Deviance is in the reduction of rates of MRSA in a network of hospitals in the USA. Details about this work can be found on the PD website (see below) or for a different perspective you can go to

For more information about PD go to

Examples of social media to spread good practice in healthcare

I often get asked for real examples of what some people feel is theory only - basically, how are healthcare organisations using the variety fo social media possibilities to help creat/capture knowledge as well as transfer it / enable change. There are many of these - you can do your own searches and find things specific to you. I have listed below a few interesting ones:

a) Facebook: South Central Health Authority in England has an organisational profile on Facebook. Anyone can become a fan of the organisation (a novel thought in itself!) and then through Facebook - as a fan - I receive details of its public health campaigns (photos etc) and I have also been targetted through Facebook to answer a survey (which I then passed on to some of my Facebook friends).

b) at is an example of a hospital using audio podcasts to reduce training costs

c) Derby hospital in the England is handing out iPods preloaded with video instructions to their Radiology students as a means of enhancing the textbooks and the learning process

d) A good example of a wiki is one supported by the National Library for Health (UK) which is focused on developing support materials for the commissioning process ANyone can log in and add their twopennyworth and experience.

Social media is a practice not a theory...

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Breaking free of the IT Dept; Creating your own website

Finding ways to communicate over the internet is often seen as complicated if it involves more than an email. The traditional setting up of a website process was one not for the faint of heart and required some expertise. Now, if you have a message to share then you can do so by building your own website using facilities available on the web. I like the look, feel and ease of use of

If you have something to say, something to share, then there is really no reason not to get started. I'd like to see patient groups, consumer groups, clients etc starting their onw websites and fora. This would be a good way to mobilise people into action for the improvement of health and social care services.