In the NHS beta team we try to do things openly. We publish little snippets on the #nhsbeta hashtag on Twitter We blog regularly. And we put our show and tells on YouTube.

On Tuesday we hosted the first cross NHS design get-together from Leeds, as a brown bag lunchtime session.

We are trying to bring together people in the NHS interested in design to talk about the design work we do in the NHS, the services we work on, and the way these services are created. Deliberately I have not said ‘designers’, focusing on bringing together a community that is interested in design.

We also want the time be one where people can be open and honest, to talk about their good stuff and the stuff that could be better.

It isn’t a thing already happening in the NHS. So, we’re just getting on with it.

Using a big screen, two Macbooks, a telephone people from our offices in Exeter, Leeds, London, Newcastle, and Southampton “met” using Google Hangouts, WebEx, and a telephone call. It was a little faffy, but it just about worked. Matt Higgins took a picture of us in action.

Important lesson one: IT still has the control! IT permissions still make it hard to find one way of communicating.

Important lesson two: Getting the message about doing this and out to people involved a lot more systems. An email list. An intranet blog post. Yammer. Another email list. Slack. Individually targeted emails.

I showed how we have been working and what we have been doing on nhs.uk, particularly out of Leeds. You can see me on Twitter.

Ben Cullimore stepped forward to share the work the team he is in has been doing on the e-Referral System. Ben gave a great, honest appraisal, and also had one of my favourite slides that I have seen while at the NHS.

It said:

If your site is good on a mobile device, it translates betters to all devices.

Excellent advice.

And we’ve done a little retro to get some conversations going about what design is doing well at and what it needs to do better.

At the least we’re off.

‘Digital transformation’ is a phrase that is used often, sometimes with vaguer meaning than others, and regularly focuses on the technology alone. (Which I blogged about last week.) While I am at the NHS I want to make sure design is recognised as a thing (and of value), the people involved with design get support and support each other, and the ways of working aren’t missed as part of that. Those are part of what ‘digital transformation’ means to me. And it’s good to talk about them together, regularly.

Thank you to everyone who made the time to take part and attend. We’ll be doing another meet in about a month’s time. It feels good to have made a start.


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