Unlocking the power of fellowships

Maximising the impact and benefits of research and knowledge mobilisation fellowships for health and care”

A fellowship in health and care is an opportunity to expand your practice.  It’s a gift that needs to be reviewed constantly to ensure it brings challenge, hope and development.  My Transformation fellowship at Horizons, NHS England started in November 2014 and I have been involved in amazing projects so far The Edge, TransformathonCare Design 2016NHS Change day and lots of hackathons.  These projects have enabled me to work in partnership with a wonderful team, patients, clinicians, innovators and change agents throughout the world. During my fellowship, I have gained experience in a range of quality improvement methodologies, facilitated hackathons and undertaken research through a crowdsourcing platform.   As editor of The Edge, I have supported others to share their stories of change and developed a community profile for my writing.  The Edge – A free social platform for transformational change has gone from initial start up to 44,000 users in 140 countries in the first year. All fellowships are different and that’s what makes them so special.  They challenge you to step out of your comfort zone with supportive leadership and mentoring.

A fellowship can be a lonely and unique experience, according to the conversations I have had with other fellows.  I was lucky as Horizons supported several fellowships bringing individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds to work on transformational change projects and share their experiences.  At Horizons led by Helen Bevan, we are passionate about co-production and leading the way in all our work, with fellowships no different.  I have been in the health service for a long time but gained a different perspective working in close partnership with Alison Cameron – a Transformation fellow and patient leader on The Edge.  Fellowships give you a chance to develop and explore what makes you tick.          

One of the things I tried to do when I started my fellowship was to link with others fellows that I came across on twitter.   Little did I know that connection of fellows was already happening with Cathy Howe acting as lead fellow to pull us all together and set up #FellowsConnect.  The third FellowsConnect event took place on the 26th February in London and there was a real passion to connect, contribute and share learning from the fellows attending.  In the spirit of transparency and connection with others, Dave Hearn will be running twitter chats @fellows_connect  and the steering group will share reports from all events.  We want to reach out to other past and present fellows in health and care to offer support, connection and fast paced knowledge mobilisation.

If you want to be involved, have a look at the event report and contact Cathy on Twitter: @cathgreenhalgh or Email: c.howe@imperial.ac.uk

Event Report FellowsConnect Feb 2016 v2.1



Building products customers love (1)

My Trusty Sunflower cream is a great case study to show innovation in the NHS.  The original sunflower cream product was developed to be used by patients who had plastic surgery over twenty years ago.  My role was to take this basic product, innovate and build a product customers love.

There’s a whole raft of information on the product here which was featured on the BBC One show within a few months of launch because is was unique.  The brand is the first NHS skincare range and all profits are put back into patient care.

What I want to do in this blog is fill in the back story and piece together how innovation can be ignited in the simplest of situations.  To deconstruct my work on the My Trusty brand I will use the research of Hal Gregersen, Clayton Christensen and Jeff Dyer “The Innovator’s DNA” .  The book is a result of eight years of exploratory study by the authors to identify the key skill set for innovators.  The research identified five “discovery skills” used by innovative leaders that distinguishes them from the ordinary:

Questioning: Posing queries that challenge common wisdom

Observing: Scrutinizing the behavior of customers, suppliers and competitors to identify new ways of doing things

Networking: Meeting people with different ideas and perspectives

Experimenting: Constructing interactive experiences and provoking unorthodox responses to see what insights emerge

Associating: Drawing connections between questions, problems, or ideas from unrelated fields

Yet perhaps the most significant finding in the research was our ability to generate innovative ideas is not just a function of our minds, but of our behaviors. Thus, by changing our behaviors and regularly incorporating the above “discovery skills” in our daily lives, we can improve our innovation aptitude.  Here are a few key links – Mastery Video

The videos and research articles give you an insight into this work and I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to innovate. From a personal perspective, I would like to extend my gratitude to Hal Gregersen who has always shown an interest in my work as an innovator and has been generous with his support.

In my next blog post, I will cover the first discovery skill – Questioning and link to my work with My Trusty.  As a final takeaway here’s a great webcast on building products customers love and a video on lean start up.

If you want to find out more about the individuals behind the videos and products by following on twitter:-

@HalGregersen   @leanstartup   @ericries

@CarolLRead   @My_Trusty   @SalisburyNHS

From fear to flying

A joint blog with @JohnWalsh88

“Come to the edge, he said. We are afraid, they said. Come to the edge, he said. They came to the edge, He pushed them and they flew. Come to the edge, Life said. They said: We are afraid. Co…


Hack the world & bring pizza

Hacks are a new method of tackling thorny issues and building solutions in health. Originating in the tech/software industry they are creating a spark and debate as one of the new tools in the health innovators tool chest alongside unconferences, open space events and old favourites like workshops.

I have to put my hand up here and share my experience of health hacks over the last year. Honestly, they have all been different but have common characteristics.  That’s the beauty of transplanting ideas from another industry and thinking differently to solve an issue.   As we try out new approaches there is always going to be a time where we test ideas, fail fast, learn and move on to a way that works.  This explains why health hacks are fairly fluid as a methodology at the moment.  We need to understand the best time and circumstances to use a hack that will really make a difference in health and social care.

All of the hacks I have been part of have had a strong mission around transforming patient care and results have included an improved change model, ways of managing flow through the system to enable patients to flourish and preventing delayed discharge.  As a clinician, a patient and an innovator the power of hacks to bring about change in health excites me. Why wouldn’t you want to co-produce a solution to wicked problems with people who care as passionately as you do about making change happen?

They can be as techy as you want them to be.  Where tech really adds value is when it is used in a non-intrusive way to share what is happening in the room with participants virtually and capture learning.  A great example of this was during the patient flow hack with the York and Humber Academic Health Science Network.  Virtual participants took part in the hack from throughout the UK, USA, British Columbia and included patients and staff from health and social care.

My learning from the hacks is to create a sense of urgency and energy by importing some of the tried and tested techniques from tech hacks.  Do have an open invitation through social media and standard communication channels – you will be amazed who turns up either in person or virtually that can share a different perspective.  True open innovation! Order in pizza and keep the momentum going by encouraging people to break away into maverick groups or keep going for as long as they feel passionate to do so. Think carefully about how long your event is – there is something special about working with a group of people over 24 hours.  Have a dragons den pitch competition at the end and ensure your stakeholders or sponsors will take ideas forward straight away.  If in doubt Katy Brownbill suggests to plan it like a party.

Health hacks inspire people to work together, form their own groups, challenge existing approaches and fast track solutions that can be tried immediately in practice.  To give you a flavour of different health hackathons check out these links.

Flipboard magazines – HackHull1  HackHull2

Hackathons at The Edge

“Hackathon: How to use the concept of a software hackathon within the NHS”

“Hackathons: Saving the world from mediocre ideas”


A hackers view  


If you want to know more or need help organising a hack from a certificated health hack facilitator/Lecture practitioner please contact me via the website or @CarolLRead

Connecting with the heart

Sometimes we procrastinate for all the right reasons.  Is the time right?  Is my work good enough?  What can I share?  All of these questions have been part of my thought process leading up to this blog.  What I recognise, through following many blogs to date is that the one’s that engage me and challenge my practice have a golden thread of honesty, rawness and hope.  There is a simple aim to share knowledge and a learning journey.

So today I start to be brave, creative and work out loud.  The internet has flaws, yet for all the danger in the dark web, the flipside is that there are people that generously connect with the heart.  My blog will share my gratitude to those alchemy connections that have supported my journey, insight from innovation work and add a twist of  serendipity to show what happens if you trust your intuition.