Digital Practitioner: Time for a quick map check & refuel

Zoe Limbert
By Alison Braithwaite, Programme Lead

By Alison Braithwaite, Programme Lead

At this mid-way point with our first cohort (citywide occupational therapists), it was time to review the ‘map’ for this intervention, along with feedback, progress to date, and the delivery approach.  An integral part of this work was a commitment to use an iterative approach of review and continuous improvement, with each cohort, to give us an even better model.  Check out the Digital Design Service Manual to get an idea of this approach in the broader digital design arena. 

In this blog, I thought I’d share what we’ve been doing over the past month, what we’ve learnt and how we’re sharing that learning.  I want to wrap up with a challenge that has led us to rethink our approach, it’d be great to get some discussion going on this to see what you think and how you might be tackling it.

Coffee, cake, & (digital) conversations

First, what have we been doing?.  Apart from working with our lovely OT cohort, there are a number of events linked to the programme, scheduled between May and October.  These range from our monthly short events to half-day workshops.  We’ve now debut two of those…

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.48.09We ran our first Digital Café in May.  These aim to bring health, care,  and 3rd sector staff together in an informal environment to connect and chew over digital topics.  We ran the first late in the day; however, on hot day after a hard day’s work the feedback told us that we needed a better time to do this.  Now our café is set to a ‘bring your lunch’ theme; kick back and join in the chat with your fellow practitioners.  At our first café, we were talking about social media & social networking. We talked over how it might be used, what the issues were, and where it added value.  We’ll be keeping this topic open at the café, and sharing the outputs on our programme website  If you want to join the conversation, I’ve set up a new twitter hashtag – #DigiCafeSocial

We also ran our first early evening Show & Tell event.  Kicking off with the topic of ‘Digital Literacy’, there were four speakers giving a national, citizen, practitioner, and leader perspective.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.48.20

Late August, we’ll be holding the first of two half-day events on the more emergent or developing areas of digital in health and care, known as our Digital Horizon workshops. The first will be all about Virtual Reality, you can book on Eventbrite HERE

All of our events can be found on Eventbrite under mHabitat, or from our programme website on

On the 25th May, I shared learning via the second webinar of the Digital Practitioner series, hosted by Health Education England and NHS Digital, below is one of the points I covered in the webinar.

What we did:

As part of the initial engagement, I met with the senior managers at an OT Project Board.  I provided context around the programme and the specific engagement for the OT cohort.

The aim was that senior managers would go back and approach their respective line managers in order to recruit practitioners onto the first cohort.

What we learnt, & what we’ll do differently:

Whilst this was a good approach to kick the engagement off, there was a lot of information to get across to set the context.  This approach also relied on the line managers having to take what they’d understood from the senior manager, in order to talk to/recruit their staff onto the cohort.

Albeit I had created an automated presentation by way as a reminder of the context, the approach still wasn’t quite right.  Had I have met with the managers personally, I could have talked through the context in more detail, also allowing for questions, further information, or clarity.

For the second cohort, I have met with the whole team (manager included), to set the context and answer any initial questions.

To hear more from the May webinar Play recording. 
You can also join us on the final webinar in October – Register

A TARDIS to allow time for engagement, wouldn’t that be grand?

Perhaps one of the top challenges that those in this area of work face is getting time from health, care, and 3rd sector staff to join in to co-create and collaborate on all of these wonderful initiatives.  In amongst service improvement, innovation, new models of care, new technologies, oh, and the day job, how do we maximise the output and impact, with minimum (quality) engagement? 

When I started out on the digital practitioner intervention, I took this challenge to heart and made it my aim to do just that. With approximately 1 hour a week over four months, a blend of face-to-face, online, individual and group time, at a time to suit the individual, I was hopeful this was doable.  In reality, it wasn’t quite that straight forward, and my cohort of busy OT’s were seeing the weeks slip by without getting that time to invest in Digital Practitioner.  Now it wasn’t necessarily that the value wasn’t acknowledged, indeed at our first event we talked in depth about the value and benefit to citizen, patient, and practitioner.  Rather, it seems more about the fact that once you get back into your day job, it’s easy to put aside that time for yourself, that time to reflect, learn, develop, and connect. 

So, I’m trying something a little different with the second cohort and something very different with the final cohort, as I said, time to check the map and refuel.  I’ll let you know how we get on, and what the consensus is.  In the meantime, I throw the question out there, how do you maximise the output and impact of a new initiative, with minimum (quality) engagement?

If you’d like to join in, or start, a conversation on digital in health and care on our Digital Practitioner twitter community you can find us at @mydigitalwheels | hashtag: #digitalpractitioner

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