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Information for Information’s Sake

I work at Information for Mental Health.  We’re based in Leeds, that doesn’t make a lot of difference other than it’s a geographical fact.  In terms of how I perceive what IMH does – it takes a complex overview of the City’s mental health services – including Medical, Statutory and Voluntary Sector (we term it – mental health in it’s broadest sense) and puts that together from the perspective of the end user.

What services offer is one thing.  How people define themselves and therefore how and what they look for as a solution is different.    We maintain that as our starting point and if we have expertise, that’s where it is. Developing a system that people can use, based on how they might choose to look for information on specific services, though localised is somewhat straightforward to think about in terms of a  National (or even International)  picture.  It’s simply a question of scale.

The inter-connection between the medicalised and broader spectrum of services is fundamental to providing relevant choice to both service users and those providing services .  Housing, money, environment, skills, creativity,  and personal fullfilment are fundamental to positive mental health.  Information on the services supporting individuals to flourish in these areas is also vital systemically.   But how do we integrate this successfully with transparency and simplicity  that enables successful navigation of both medical and non-medical mental health services within one system?  Or even, can we?

On top of that, how do we ensure it remains rooted in what makes sense to the end user? Can we solve the complexities of a system in a simple way (simple – not simplistic) whilst focusing on the premise of the user –  who are you, how do you define yourself and what do you want?

Sometimes people don’t know what they want, they don’t know what’s possible.  Sometimes they only know what’s wrong and what they don’t want.  It isn’t always about systems providing answers – asking the right questions is much more fundamental.

And on that note here’s my main question of questions at the moment –

What next?

Kate Brown


Getting somewhere…

So what happened at health camp? Enough people were interested in my idea to vote for it to be discussion session.  About eight of us got together with a flipchart and started thrashing out what we would like and what the possible solutions were.

Important points:

  • site should be public and have minimal barriers eg passwords
  • content should be changeable by local service providers (if not anyone)..wikified?
  • mash-ups are good!
  • information on NHS and voluntary sector and social services
  • may be orientated to patient pathways
  • working with an existing platform is good

Choose and book provides information on NHS services but the interface is not so good. Corinne Marsolier from Cisco, thought that the localised pathways from Map of Medicine may be a good solution. Map of Medicine does have the advantage of being publicly available on the NHS Choices site, although local solutions are not available there…yet.

Today, I spoke to Joanna Dundon, who locally co-ordinates Map of Medicine (MOM) , after Corinne had shared my query with some of her colleagues. Lots of exciting things are happening with MOM including a local pathway on substance misuse which will include some of the information on voluntary sector support organisations.

But developing MOM seems quite a slow process. Maybe we need to find a way to speed up the acquisition of new information, and share what is relevant quickly. Watch this space!

Starting out…..

A few months ago I started wondering if there might be a better way for me to locate information about the services I refer patients to or recommend that they self-refer to.

On Friday 19th June 2009 I attended Health Camp UK and  gave a lightning talk asking if anyone else thought this was a problem and what the solutions might be. Here is my 2 minute introduction.

Over the weekend I thought that maybe this idea needed a blog….. somewhere that others could take this idea on and feel free to help find some answers. So here we are!


June 2018
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