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Lessons Learnt from setting up the NHS X Nurse Digital Network | Tara meets Ann Gregory

Ann is a Clinical Nurse Advisor for NHS X. NHS X is a unit that launched in July this year that brings together teams from the Department of Health, NHS England and NHS Improvement to manage digital transformation within the NHS. Ann first started the role in October 2018, when NHS X was really new to her, but she was positive and believed it could work and achieve great things.

This is our third Source4Networks Podcast which can be listened to here. Ann and Tara Humphrey, Source4Networks faculty member, discuss the impact Ann has made implementing digital ways of working, and how she’s used technology to engage and grow her network.

Here is a summary of Ann’s 5 key lessons from setting up the NHS X Digital Nurse Network.

1. Utilise Technology

Ann started the Digital Nurse Network from scratch as an online forum to learn, share and grow knowledge of digital services within the health service.

Ann explained “We’ve got over 600 members who have joined the Digital Nurse Network”. However not all these are active members.

In practice, nurses are bombarded with information as well as dealing with looking after their patients and everything else that goes along with working in general practice. Because of this it is hard to keep on top of where things are and access things across the digital nurse network. To tackle this, Ann decided to conduct a live webinar every month where she updated members on what’s happening in the field of NHS X and invited members to share what they are doing.

They communicate with their members by sending an email once a month informing them of the webinar and a post-webinar email as well.

Ann has also arranged remote sessions using Skype.

2. It takes time to grow a network

Ann has achieved a lot in her role – she sourced the platform and had to get governance to sign it off. She’s learnt about NHS branding, leading webinars and delivering presentations to engage people to try making change not feel scary.

Ann has learnt from others that growing a network takes time and it can take a lot longer to get where you want to be, but you shouldn’t feel disheartened about it.

Sometimes the feedback and impact is very subtle and you don’t always see it. When you work virtually you don’t always get that immediate impact. It does take time!

3. Find connections using social media

Using social media can be a great way to communicate and engage with people.

Ann is a relatively new user to Twitter and now finds it a really good way to find out information, connect with members in her network and build connections.

4. Have a plan

As we start the new year, Ann shares where she’ll be placing her attention and focus:

“My first focus is to finally get a meeting together of relevant experts with sepsis recognition tools: to meet, train and look at rolling out sepsis recognition or how we can do that in care homes and primary care.

The second is about patients having access to their records and how that is going to work and what is in that patient record and how our clinicians are going to feel about patients accessing it and whether we need to look at the information in clinical records.”

“The third and biggest one would be about the digital nurse network and to really try establishing a good interactive platform for the network to be on. Ideally, what I would love is a website that has different pages, different comment pages, sharing of information, of blueprints, of really great projects that have been done that we can share with other people that even has stuff about professional development that is accredited and training packages.”

5. Be patient and optimistic

For anyone who is stepping up to take on a network, Ann advises: “be patient, be optimistic, be aware it will take time and try not to worry too much if things don’t seem to happen immediately as networks need time to flourish and grow”.

Ann has also learnt that all members need to own the network, she has realised that not all networks go on forever and they may get to a point where we don’t need it anymore - if we get to that point then the aim of the network will have been achieved.

Find out more about the Digital Nurse Network or chat to Ann on Twitter: @AnnGregoryRN

Listen to the full podcast on SoundCloud here.

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Tara Humphrey is the founder of THC Primary Care, a leading healthcare consultancy specialising in workforce transformation and the host of the Business of Healthcare Podcast.

Tara and her team also work with GP federations supporting the implementation of clinical services.

Tara has over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sector and has an MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, is published in the London Journal of Primary Care and is the author of over 150 blogs.

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