I first started writing when I became an independent consultant under the business name of ‘Optimising Clinical Knowledge’. My aim was to help organisations understand what medical knowledge is, how they can use it to improve their everyday operations, and how they can measure the value they’re creating. I saw this as ‘optimising’, hence the name.
My writing at the time covered things like ‘knowledge as a service‘, evidence versus the real world, the knowledge-to-practice chasm, and the fact that no one knows what anyone else is talking about.
Over time, though, I got a little disillusioned with health care. I witnessed how my local primary care organisation disrespects its patients, got tired of the hyperbole of digital health, and felt nothing but exasperation in the political meddling that health care endures.
It was my role as the Physician Editor of TEDMED that gave me the courage to zoom out and think differently – and this changed my writing. I asked whether we even knew what the National Health Service is for and eventually launched Wellthcare, an exploration to understand health beyond health care.
My writing on Wellthcare asked whether health could ever return to being a civic value, looked at what we might learn from the developing world, accused public health of pernicious moralising, and ultimately led to a Manifesto.
It also, with the assistance of a grant, led to the Creating Health Collaborative, a project that I continue to explore. However, as I have explained elsewhere, the name ‘Wellthcare’ has run its course and so I have decided to simply write under my own name – and bring all my writing onto this website.
The one thing I am most happy about is not being restricted in what I write about. It’ll always be health, of course (I don’t know about much else, to be honest), but I needn’t confine myself to clinical knowledge or the idea of ‘health beyond health care’. I can, as I have always wanted to, simply explore the future of health.
I say ‘explore’ because I’m tired of people that think they know the future of health. I think the issues are so big, so complex, and so mired in vested interests that it’s impossible to know. Instead, all you can really do is ask the simplest of questions, talk to the people actually trying things at the coal face, and comment on possible directions of travel.
I am calling my writing ‘straight talking’ because in the last couple of years people have repeatedly told me that what they like about my work is that I say it like it is (including when I realised I had slipped into lazy superiority). I hope to maintain that, even if it doesn’t always make me popular with the establishment (it’s ok, we need new leaders anyway, the failures of the current crop will lead to social unrest, I am sure).
In my next post I’ll get back to exploring the future of health rather than just explaining what I am doing; apologies for the self-indulgence.
I’d like to end with some thanks for the new website: Sophie Wybrew-Bond helped me hone its aims; the text was written by Kate Warwick of PR Savvy; the branding was by Tsering Karalus of The Tiny Agency; and the website was built by Kam Banwait of Scripted Pixels. They’re good people doing good work so drop them a line if you think they can help you (and they didn’t even ask me to say that).
Ok, more soon.