A giant leap for learning within the NHS

Tuesday, November 26, 2019 |
From left to right: Marc, Bernie and Neil

A month on since GIANT.health, we’re reflecting on the health and tech innovation conference. GIANT.health 2019 will forever hold a special place in our hearts at BOB.health as it marked a seminal moment in our journey. Not only did it see the reluctant maiden visit to Stamford Bridge for the team’s Arsenal fan, it also marked the day that co-founders Neil and Marc headed back to the conference as contributors and exhibitors, presenting BOB.health to the world.

Watch this video, recorded at GIANT.health, to learn the story behind BOB.health’s creation to bring about change in the NHS

Over the last few years, we’ve heard perplexed rumblings about how innovation uptake in the NHS still struggles to achieve spread and scale. In today’s world of information readily accessible at the touch of a button – how has best practice and good idea-sharing within the NHS got so left behind? Want to find advice on how to start your own business? No problem – Google it and a plethora of useful hands-on advice is available. However, if you need to know how to integrate a life-saving triage checklist into your department, Google it and you end up with a wall of peer-review articles, but practical advice is lacking. Hmm, why is that?

Up and down the country, people throughout the NHS start change projects in the hope of bringing about some sort of positive outcome. Some deliver success, others – despite best efforts – don’t deliver. But whatever the outcome, there are rich insights that a person has learnt which don’t get written up and therefore they don’t exist for a Google search to find.

The big, or priority, projects that are successful on the ground can make award entries, with the lucky few going on to be award-winning and being profiled. A select small proportion of projects make their way into respected journals, maybe a conference poster and a presentation. The crux is – this takes time, and considerable resource. The challenge is that the bulk of the changes that happen in a Trust or CCG don’t ever get profiled. The useful things people have learnt never get the chance to spread their wings and flutter any further than up and down the corridor. 

We simply couldn’t sit back when we heard that NHS staff were often staring at a blank piece of paper when they wanted to initiate a change project; especially when it is highly likely that someone else has probably done something similar somewhere else in the country. NHS staff time is precious – reinventing the wheel is simply distracting people from patient care. Trying to guess or piece together disparate bits of information found in the depths of the internet is just a drain on time. There must be another way. 

That’s where BOB.health comes in. Everyone agrees that learning from each other helps; and current good practice sharing within the NHS needs a helping hand. It’s time to fling open the corridor doors and let learning fly.

Our journey to this point

Over the past few years, Neil and Marc have been on a quest to find the answer to a burning a question that niggled at them. NHS staff can’t be reinventing the wheel each time they begin a project that is similar to one of their colleagues. What is the golden nugget that sheds light on how ideas and practice are shared in the health system?

To find the golden nugget, with the help of some wonderful people along the way, they began their search. They conducted qualitative research, held a meeting at the Royal College of General Practitioners, developed an extensive report on system innovation, attended meetings up and down the UK, joined conferences, signed up to webinars and scoured the latest literature. It was nowhere to be found. 

Fast forward a few more years, Neil, Marc and I arrived at Stamford Bridge for GIANT.health. Here, we got to share our vision for the future of peer-to-peer learning in the NHS. BOB.health is setting out to do something pioneering – to build a community of NHS staff who create, share and act on the experience of others. This secures better patient experiences and improves outcomes, as well as delivering efficiencies and savings for the NHS. BOB.health also provides a space to give the NHS staff who look after our healthcare system some well-deserved kudos. 

Aside from being a truly inspiring bunch, everyone at GIANT.health was incredibly supportive of each other. The community – built up of some of the newest and cutting-edge health organisations – had an aura of mutual respect and understanding of what is needed to really make the difference you set out to. Openness and honesty shed light on people’s journey to that point. The ups, the downs; approaches they’d champion, stumbling blocks they’d avoid. It all felt very familiar. Confelicity, not competition. 

Learning within the NHS is on the cusp of an overhaul. It’s going to be free for the NHS and it’s going to be helpful and easy to use. Sign up here to stay in touch or get involved.

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