Health awareness days are planned observance events where a cause is being highlighted on social media. There are so many, they range from health-related ones to more fun and light-hearted ones!
You can plan a content marketing strategy using these, choosing the ones which are the most relevant to you personally and for your medical practice. These days are known a fair way in advance, so you can plan social media content and your messages ahead of time.
How to use health awareness days
Awareness and national days are incredibly popular on social media, generally used as hashtags and more often than not, trending on Twitter. This provides a golden opportunity to join the conversation, increase your engagement and reach new audiences.
You’ll need to select the right awareness days to include as part of your marketing strategy, they need to be relevant and match your medical practice objectives. When thinking about awareness days, you can use this framework to select the most appropriate day for you.
Do the causes align with your private medical practice?
Does the cause match or enhance your private medical practice values?
Are the causes aligned to your Corporate Social Responsibility goals?
Is it something you’re passionate about?
Is the cause driven by staff interest or staff engagement?
It’s important to be able to give your unique view or context to the awareness days. Your content will then be more valuable and raise awareness on this topic.
You’ll need to do your research though, finding the relevant hashtags, and this will allow people to see your content and get involved, extending your reach. Your activity needs to be a win-win for you and the awareness day or cause. You’ll be supporting them, increasing awareness and creating conversation and engagement.
The content you create for the awareness day can be a good content hook, driving traffic to your website from your social media channels. It’s timely and often being talked about already, so planning your content ahead of time and publishing on the right day is key!
Make sure to also include your involvement in appropriate emails and any newsletters too, so your email subscribers aren’t missing out on this valuable content. You might be able to remind them of your social media accounts and encourage them to become new followers of your medical practice online channels.
Do you want a hand getting your marketing strategy sorted? Do you know the awareness days you’d like to use for your business? Get in touch with Designated and let our marketing team, work their magic for you and your private medical practice.
Our team at Designated Medical have recently been in touch with Jonathan Evans Communications and External Affairs Manager, Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN), to ask him why private practitioners should be part of their network.
For those of you who may not be familiar with PHIN, it is an independent, government-mandated source of information about private healthcare. The principle behind the network is to ‘empower patients to make better-informed choices when choosing private treatment.’
PHIN are committed to improving transparency to open up the private sector, to using feedback to drive continuous quality improvement and to providing information to consumers and patients which enables them to make better-informed choices about their healthcare.
PHIN is a legal requirement for all consultants in the UK, but we asked Jonathan what else would he add to the standard information available on PHIN, especially to new consultants entering private healthcare.
‘Engaging with PHIN is really important. Not only is it a legal requirement to engage with PHIN to submit fee information but reviewing your data and signing it off for publication is crucial and, when consultants have done that, many of them tell us that it is a very valuable resource.
Following the Paterson Inquiry and greater collaboration between the NHS and private sector through the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a big push for greater transparency, and it is unlikely that private healthcare will ever go back to the days of old. People considering private treatment are consumers and they act like consumers. Greater transparency about what work consultants and hospitals undertake, and the outcomes (i.e. the benefit to patients), is now an expectation.
PHIN is not only a great place to market yourself, but it is also a place where you can view your whole practice data. This can help with whole practice appraisal and revalidation, but many consultants also find this helpful for understanding the care they provide in relation to others.’
You will find on the PHIN website there is a secure portal for both hospitals and consultants to access PHIN data.
Once PHIN receives private activity data associated with a Consultants’ GMC number, a Portal account is created using their GMC registered email address. PHIN will contact the consultant via email to sign up to the Portal.
As a consultant the Portal allows you to:
review data that has been submitted about your practice
submit your fee information for publication
create a profile about you and your clinical practice for publication on PHIN’s website
verify performance measures for publication.
PMI companies are especially interested in PHIN data, and have access to the website, but how important is the data to the PMI companies and will it be provided to patients whose care is funded by private health insurance in the future? Jonathan shares his views.
‘PMI companies are interested in the information which is published on the website for anyone to access and would like to see more. Insurers are a key stakeholder group – they understand that greater transparency is where the private healthcare market needs to head and are totally supportive of the work PHIN does. We know they are keen to ensure good compliance by the consultants and hospitals with whom they work.
Consultants are required under the CMA Order to publish their individual fees but, because of package pricing and differing insurer arrangements, this consultant fee information is not very useful to consumers by itself. We, therefore, want to work with PMIs, provider hospitals and consultants on the publication of a more useful range of prices. From PHIN’s perspective, it is important that there is much greater transparency in general around costs and price, to assist people considering private health care.’
COVID has driven the healthcare industry, both public and private to deliver big changes in the way they practice, and PHIN is no exception. A recent article in the Independent Practitioner Today discussed a new research project that aims to give consultants more meaningful feedback about the work they do in private practice. Bearing this in mind, Jonathan explains what future projects PHIN have in place to help deliver against this.
‘PHIN is working with LSE on a project to improve the collection of data on patient-reported outcomes (PROMs). It is so important that we listen to patients and use their feedback to enable more informed choice by healthcare consumers. We are working with hospitals and consultants to make sure that we do collect meaningful information from PROMs and QPROMs (for cosmetic surgery), and this is played back to consultants.
PHIN will be launching a new website this summer (2021). We have taken the time to engage with a number of different stakeholders, most notably patients themselves, to understand what information matters to them, and how we can present information in the best possible way. We are excited about this and we’d encourage consultants to make sure they are on the new website This is something they won’t want to miss out on if they are going to grow their private practice, especially with more people expected to consider private care due to growing NHS waiting lists.
We are asking them to:
Submit their fee information
Complete a profile – the better the profile the more likely Patients will engage with it!
Review and verify their practice data. ‘
Our team at Designated Medical are available to support you with delivering the PHIN criteria. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact with your Medical PA, Designated Marketing team or with Hannah Smith to discuss further.
As leaders, we want to lead high-performing teams and, as team members, we want to be working as part of them.
Working in a great team is an absolute pleasure and has an enormous impact over how we feel about our work and the company we are employed by.
Of course, the opposite is also true and working in a dysfunctional team is deeply negative and has a huge impact on performance. It can be enough to encourage individuals to leave and pursue other options.
So how do we establish a great team, how do we lead one and how do we play our part in contributing to the success of the team?
Let’s start by exploring some examples of great teams. The sporting world is a good place to begin. Anybody who is loyal to a particular team or club will know all too well the highs and lows associated with team performance.
When a team is failing, the manager often gets put under enormous pressure and the result can be a swift departure, as experienced by Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur FCs’ head coaches Frank Lampard and José Mourinho this season.
Many of us have recently enjoyed the Six Nations rugby championship and each team taking part has been analysed by professionals, the media and all of us at home watching. Each team has its own characteristics, with Wales being admired for their grit and determination while England was heavily criticised for a lack of discipline.
Back in 2003 when the England ruby team won the Rugby World Cup, the team was led by Sir Clive Woodward, who helpfully shares his winning strategy.
Woodward says that ‘great teams are made up of great individuals’ and he focuses on creating a winning culture and claims a formula for creating ‘champion individuals’.
Woodward lists four key criteria to create a winning team:
Talent– individual talent;
Teachability– ‘It’s often the most experienced person who is unteachable’;
Pressure– the warrior spirit;
Will– commitment to win.
In his 2003 team, Woodward describes having five champions and ten warriors, and he highlights the importance of coaching on two levels: for individuals and for the team together.
Woodward’s approach was clearly successful and he continues to support sporting organisations but also offers coaching and consultancy to business executives.
Another team strategy brought to our attention is the ‘aggregation of marginal or incremental gains’. The strategy works on the premise that if we can improve every aspect of a team’s performance by 1%, the overall result will be a significant improvement.
This approach was highly publicised following the success of the British cycling team in 2008 and 2012 and although its achievements are being questioned, the strategy is still popular in the business environment.
One of my personal favourite sporting strategies that has been embraced by business is described in the bookWill it make the boat go faster?as described by Ben Hunt-Davis in which he documents how his team adopted this strategy and subsequently won the gold medal in the rowing eight at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
I like this, as it is simple and can be used to immediately ensure everyone on the team is on the same page.
In business, we might use this strategy to achieve a project within tight time-scales or to focus on a particular aspect of our service – for example: ‘Does it make the patient experience better?’ or ‘Does it make the treatment safe?’ It’s a great way to ensure focus and gain momentum to achieve short- and medium-term goals.
These examples of sporting successes in team performance provide plenty of interesting learning opportunities that can be adapted for business and we may pick up ideas from numerous sources as we create our own leadership and team management strategies.
Each of us can use best practice to influence our leadership style, but, ultimately, our approach will be unique to us and our personalities.
As we build our own style, it is important to break down the aspects of teamwork and ensure we consider each aspect to build a good all-encompassing approach.
Reflecting back to the wise words of Sir Clive Woodward, we can consider the four elements of team success that he bases his approach on.
To create the greatest team, we want to have the greatest leader and the most talented individuals.While this might be realistic for Chelsea FC, most of us are restrained by factors such as money, availability of talent, and geography.
In the real world, what we really need to aim for is the most talented individuals available to us and ensuring that each individual delivers to the best of their ability.
A team also requires a group of people with differing but complementary talents.
In a healthcare setting, our teams potentially comprise doctors, nurses, administrative support and business managers, all of whom have very different skills and have been educated differently.
All these individuals must find a way to work together to the benefit of the patient. As well as having differing skills, a team will also be home to lots of different personality types and character types.
Some people are eternal optimists, always anticipating the best possible outcome and seem oblivious to any potential barriers. Others will be the complete opposite, preferring to plan for the worst-case scenario so that all bases are covered and prepared for.
When two people of opposite types such as these come together, they can either create a perfectly balanced partnership or they can find it impossible to work together and hit a brick wall.
Another potential conflict can arise when one person is an ideas person and another is a detailed planner. The detailed plan that is essential to one person can be viewed as a barrier to progress and a time-wasting activity to the person who has the great idea and wants to get on with delivering it.
Again, a balance of these two styles is ideal, but how do we bring different personalities such as these together to work collaboratively?
In last month’s article, I talked about leaders needing to develop self-awareness and to understand their natural style. I suggested using psychometric profiling tools such as Myers Briggs and C-me profiling and, again, these tools are equally relevant to individuals working together as a team.
Once an individual understands their own style and also the natural style of others on their team, they can learn the right way to communicate and work with one another to achieve success.
The ‘ideas person’ learns that by listening to the detailed-oriented individual, their idea has a far greater chance of success as a result of the detailed plan that will be developed ensuring that every outcome is prepared for.
An ability and willingness to learn is an important attribute for all team members.
Too often, we associate this with more junior team members, but actually it is relevant to even the most senior members of a team and Woodward is quite right when he states: ‘It’s often the most experienced person who is unteachable’.
To work well as a team, every individual needs to be prepared to adapt their ways of working for the good of the team. The well-known management phrase: ‘It’s my way or the highway’ might feel powerful, but what if there is a better way?
When Woodward says pressure, what he really means is the ability to perform under pressure and he believes the only way to ensure an individual and therefore the team can succeed under pressure is to practice by exposing the team to pressure regularly.
He uses role play requiring the team to work through every eventuality to ensure they know exactly what to do in each situation. This easily relates to complex surgical procedures and can also be adapted to the business environment – for example, the launch of a new service, clinic or company.
Personally, I would also argue that all teams must think about how to recover from being under pressure and build resilience. It is clearly not possible for any individual or team to perform under constant pressure.
We need to build in mechanisms for recognising long periods of extreme pressure and have plans to relieve it and allow recovery.
This may involve adjusting holiday allowance, time off in lieu or activities within the working day to allow for recuperation, but they must be built in. This will be the topic for my next article.
A team needs to be driven by an agreed goal or objective and to share a joint motivation to succeed and achieve the goal. This is why the strategy of ‘Will it make the boat go faster?’ is so effective, as it aligns the whole team to one clear, simple goal.
If a team has one or more members who doubt the goal is achievable, then this will have a draining impact on the team’s morale and reduce each person’s motivation to succeed.
It is said that ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ and we all agree wholeheartedly, but achieving the dream requires an investment of effort on a consistent basis.
The most talented individuals might be individually amazing, but unless they can work together as a team, their talents can be wasted.
Humans are tribal and evolved working together in teams, intrinsically knowing it makes them more effective and ultimately our lives more enjoyable.
In recent months, we have seen an increasing number of reports of the effects of Covid on mental health and this is particularly apparent within the health care community.
Designated Managing Director Jane Braithwaite continues her ‘The power of people’ series by exploring the ways in which leadership skills can be enhanced and highlights the support and tools available to help achieve this.
Some leaders make leadership look easy. They come across with both charm and sincerity, generating enthusiasm and support for their ideas and attracting a loyal following.
We watch these impressive individuals in awe, admiring the seemingly natural ability they were lucky enough to be born with.
To a certain extent, it may be true that some people have personality traits well suited to a leadership role, but leadership skills can be learned, developed and improved both by experience and more formal training.
Good leaders energise their teams to succeed and, in every organisation, the ability to do this is an advantage, enabling them to achieve more and to progress at pace. A lack of leadership leads to slow decisions or, worse, no decisions and a lack of progress.
In the past, we have spoken about our three ‘C’s of leadership:
Clarity– Clarity of purpose and a relentless determination to achieve that purpose;
Communication– To communicate effectively with the team and generate enthusiasm to achieve the team’s purpose;
Care– A genuine dedication to the well-being and development of the team.
When we consider the great leaders of our time – for example, Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela – we see a consistently strong sense of purpose or cause and an absolute determination to achieve success.
And looking at the skills of business leaders such as Tim Cook of Apple and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, we recognise the same traits of a strong sense of purpose, but also a huge commitment to building the best team, empowering the team and recognising individuals for the success they achieve.
A leader who has taken centre stage in the last few months is Brigadier Phillip Prosser, who stepped up to the podium as part of the Government’s Covid campaign on 7 January.
Originally from Wales, Prosser was commissioned into the military in 1992 having completed a degree in engineering. He went on to serve on several occasions in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan prior to serving on home soil as part of the PPE distribution campaign in 2020 and most recently taking lead of the logistics of the campaign to roll out the Covid vaccine.
As he admitted himself, he has ‘never battled a virus before’ and so provides a great example of how strong leadership skills can be applied to very different situations.
Prosser talks about his current role as a ‘noble purpose’ which marks ‘the beginning of the end of Covid’. This ‘noble purpose’ is his cause and his determination to succeed is obvious and it is clear he has a very strong sense of purpose in his role as the leader of this current campaign.
Strong, clear communications are demonstrated as he delivers key messages with absolute clarity, and while there are no wasted words, he commands trust and builds a belief that he can deliver as illustrated in the following statement.
‘It is my role to deliver combat supplies to UK forces in time of war. My team are used to complexity and building supply chains at speed in the most arduous and challenging conditions. We aim to deliver vaccine as soon after it is supplied as possible, not leaving vast quantities in the warehouse – it needs to be in arms not on shelves.’
Factors to succeed
When asked about achieving such ambitious targets, he describes three factors needed to succeed.
In every conversation I have witnessed, Prosser raises the profile of the NHS team alongside his own team, referring to two world-class institutions and describing the ‘heroic efforts’ being made.
He appears to be a leader who would step back from congratulations and deflect the compliments and recognition towards the team that he leads.
How does the military train such effective leaders? Most significantly, they deliver extensive leadership training that is very carefully planned and far more comprehensive than we typically see in business and other government organisations.
Promoted without training
In many businesses, if someone is good at doing their functional role, they are often promoted into a leadership role with very limited training and rely on their natural ability rather to lead.
The ethos of the military is to serve, and doing so is a duty that affects the style of their leaders. A military leader takes responsibility for the well-being of their team and their extended community and prioritises their need.
In a crisis, the team must be motivated and inspired by their leader and they must also have total trust and confidence in them. Often their lives will depend on their leader.
The style of leadership, exhibited by the military is known as transformational leadership, and was initially introduced by leadership expert James MacGregor Burns, who gives us this definition.
Transformational leadership occurs when one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality.
Transformational leadership is widely believed to be the optimal style of leadership largely because most individuals want to experience this type of leadership in their professional lives. Transformational leaders inspire and motivate their team and trust them to make decisions, giving them a greater opportunity to be creative and make changes.
How do we develop our leadership skills?
The starting point for any leader must be self-knowledge and self-awareness. Understanding how we naturally behave as leaders and our strengths and weaknesses is the only sure-fire way to develop our skills and to become better.
Once we understand our current style, we can identify behaviours to improve, explore training and additional support to help us learn to improve.
There is an overwhelming amount of information regarding leadership development which is evidence in itself of how many of us value the development of these skills, but it is hard to fathom where to start.
Most of us believe we have a strong awareness of how we come across as individuals and leaders, but, sadly, this is often not the case and how others see us is often quite different to how we perceive ourselves to be.
For example, you may believe you communicate regularly with your team and see yourself as a strong communicator, but your team may feel you are quite closed and need to communicate more.
This is very common feedback from teams when asked about their leader. Many of us have blind spots and being made aware of them is the basis for improvement. Improving self-awareness allows us to understand how others see us, identify any blind spots and allows us to choose to act in some way to improve.
Embarking on a journey to develop greater self-awareness is brave and it is important to remind ourselves that there is no perfect person, no perfect leader and no perfect behaviours. The aim is improvement overall and being the best leader possible for us.
One of the most commonly used tools for improving self-awareness in leadership are psychometric tools; for example the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
MBTI is widely recognised to be incredibly valuable and has been used for over 50 years. The tool divides everyone into 16 personality types represented by a combination of four letters as follows:
Extroverted (E) vs Introverted (I);
Sensing (S) vs Intuition(N);
Thinking (T) vs Feeling (F);
Judging (J) vs Perceiving (P).
I really like Myers Briggs, but the terminology used is hard to remember (am I ENTJ?) and so I prefer to use a tool called C-Me profiling.
The concept is similar, but the results are based on behaviours rather than personalities and four colours representing these different behaviours. It is therefore much easier to remember, as it’s visual. I am a yellow and red.
One of the other benefits is that a team familiar with C-Me can use the colours as a ‘language’ to help them work well together and communicate more effectively.
The concept of 360-degree feedback is to gather comments from several sources to be assessed and analysed to identify recurring trends and therefore generate useful data to improve self-awareness and identify areas for personal development.
Ideally, you would include a good number of participants, preferably 15 people, with differing relationships to you.
Aim to choose some contributors who are senior to you, members of your peer group and members of your team so that you really get a 360-degree view. In some circumstances, you might also choose to invite patients to take part, although this is not always relevant when assessing leadership skills.
Many doctors will be familiar with the 360-degree feedback requirement of the GMC validation, which is indeed similar but focuses more on your behaviour as a doctor as opposed to as a leader.
There is no doubt that implementing 360-degree feedback is admin-heavy and you will need to find a good system to support this. There are numerous tools available and specialist companies available to help.
Coaching and development
Greater self-awareness will highlight personal development areas, and these will obviously differ for each individual.
Once you have a greater understanding of the leadership behaviours you would like to focus on developing, it is time to look for support to help you and there is a vast amount of support available.
The number of books and podcasts focusing on leadership is quite astounding and for anyone who is willing and motivated to invest time in reading and listening, so much can be learned in this way.
Most of us are time poor and we need motivation to keep us on track and may wish to consider engaging a personal coach to support this journey.
Again, the number of coaches available is overwhelming and it is worth investing some serious time into finding the right person with the right skills for you.
Many universities and independent companies run leadership training programmes in a traditional classroom setting or on a virtual basis.
This formal approach can be valuable if you are motivated to gain a recognised qualification that may help you further your career or perhaps you would value the opportunity to step outside your normal environment and dedicate some time to learning.
These courses do require a significant investment in time attending the course itself and completing the set work and, of course, the cost of the course itself.
Becoming a better leader is an objective shared by many of us and there is definitely a lot of support to help us achieve this goal.
To progress requires an investment of our time to develop greater self-awareness, being honest with ourselves and being brave, potentially listening to feedback that opens blind spots that are unknown and unexpected.
Choosing to act and improve requires self-motivation and commitment but doing so not only improves individuals as leaders in the workplace, but potentially has benefits in our personal lives.
The best leaders, of course, appreciate that as well as developing their own behaviours and leadership skills, they also need to create and manage amazing teams and next month we will explore this topic, discussing tools and techniques to help leaders develop high-performing teams.