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Digital knowledge resources: rethinking NHS investment

Digital knowledge resources are high on the agenda. We know that NHS library services across England will recently have spent time finalising subscriptions for 2020. Those with April-March subscriptions will be gearing up for a similar round of activity in the Spring, involving publishers and local procurement and finance departments. Next there is all the associated work of updating holdings in catalogues and link resolvers to be done.

Elsewhere in the UK healthcare library staff now spend very little time on activity relating to e-resources. In Scotland, Wales and Ireland, the vast majority of NHS-funded digital knowledge resources are purchased and managed centrally, freeing up time for local library staff to focus their expertise on delivering knowledge services to users.

In England only 25% of total NHS spend on e-resources is invested nationally, and all the work associated with 75% of investment has to take place locally. Given the commonality of the resources we see being purchased locally for acute, mental health and community staff, and in the context of the principles of Knowledge for Healthcare principles relating to equity, efficiency and economy of scale, these proportions should surely be the other way around.

Open access publishing is advancing. The transition from payment for access to payment for publication is gathering pace. In our knowledge-based industry embracing the administration involved in article processing fees hardly seems a good use of the time and expertise of already-stretched NHS library staff. A nationally coordinated approach makes even more sense.

With the majority of HEE library funding distributed to trusts within education tariff, we can currently only take small steps towards this. We continue to engage with suppliers about the need for fair and transparent pricing which incentivises collaborative procurement, uses appropriate workforce numbers rather than bed numbers, recognise the value of content over platform-specific ‘bells and whistles’, and will support cost-neutral transition to open access, and some have responded very positively. HEE has commissioned NICE to procure a new Framework Agreement to replace the one which expires in September 2020 and we expect it to reflect all these principles.

We’re working hard to seek the introduction of a separate LKS Tariff which may provide a mechanism for pooling funded, but re-stacking public investment in digital collections will continue to rely on the willingness of library teams and host trusts to share costs and combine effort. The signs are promising: our 2018 survey of managers indicated that 86% would definitely or possibly be willing to pool e-resource funding nationally. We see lots of potential to scale up successful local collaborative procurement schemes. Greater central and national procurement will avoid replication of effort, freeing up staff time that local service managers can choose to direct resource into services to staff and learners, in the best interest of patients.

As we go into a new decade, the future lies in your hands. We are gearing up for the challenge of the new decade! Are we ready?

Season’s Greetings from the HEE Library Leads Resource Discovery Team
Helen Bingham, Richard Bridgen, Dominic Gilroy, Helene Gorring, Lucy Reid and Jenny Toller

All the world’s a blog, and all the men and women merely bloggers (1)

That’s how it seems, isn’t it, a blog for everything, and everything in its blog?  But what if you are new to the art of blogging? Where on earth do you start? Enough of the questions, let’s get down to the answers!

First things first, take a look at some existing blogs and see what you think. Dip your toe in the water by posting a comment or two on someone else’s blog before attempting one yourself. This will help you find your voice and develop your style. You can be as relaxed and conversational as you like and let your creativity loose.

When you are ready to launch your blog, have a look on the internet. There are plenty of quick and easy blog templates to be found there and many of them are free. Think of a memorable name that you won’t get tired of and select a URL …web address to you and me…so people can find you.

Now, think about your audience. Who are they likely to be and what would you like them to know? Draw them in with a catchy headline and keep them interested with short, sharp paragraphs – 3 or 4 sentences max – separated by line spaces. Try not to cover too much ground.

Remember, this is writing for an online audience who will scan. Keep their eyes occupied so they don’t leave too soon. Your message should be brief and not too wordy. Who wants to read miles of text on a screen?

Lists are good!

  • So are Subheadings
  • and different fonts
  • and, as the saying goes, a picture paints a thousand words.

Perhaps try your early posts out on a few friends and colleagues before you go live. Why not add some social media buttons? And take the time to respond to those who have posted their comments on your blog.

A word of caution, though. Be ethical! Take note of your Trust’s communication policy and keep within the guidelines. Never use someone else’s ideas without giving them due credit and always respect the privacy of others.

Have Fun!

Stella Rogers, Senior Library Assistant @Great Western Hospital, Swindon

(1) To paraphrase William Shakespeare

Topol – a fantastic opportunity for library and knowledge services

The Topol Review, formally “Preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future” will be launched by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care this afternoon. It is threaded through with references to knowledge management and the role of knowledge specialists to “accelerate the adoption of proven innovations”. https://www.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/topol-review

Every time the report mentions knowledge specialists – it means us!

Look at pages 11, 15, 16, 20, 49, 50, 57, 68 and 70 to see what I mean.

Here’s a few gems:

  • “NHS Boards should take responsibility for effective knowledge management to enable staff to learn from experience (both successes and failures) and accelerate the adoption of proven innovations” Page16.
  • The NHS should increase the overall numbers of clinicians, as well as scientists, technologist and knowledge specialist posts, with dedicated, accredited time to keep their skills up to date and with the opportunity to work in partnership with academia and/or the health tech industry on the design, implementation and use of digital, AI and robotics technologies (AIR5/DM4). Page 57.
  • “Effective knowledge management is essential to enable the spread and adoption of innovation, with lessons from early adoption shared widely (OD6): an innovation culture is dependent on a learning culture. The NHS must build a reputation as a learning organisation that values and enables the transfer of learning about successes and failures (OD5). This can only happen with the creation of new senior knowledge management roles.” Page 68.

So, make sure you’ve got a copy of the report to hand and that you’ve read it cover to cover.

Then make sure you’ve shared it far and wide in your organisation: remember, Topol is not about the technology, it’s about the impact of the technology on the workforce. That means it’s important for human resources, organisational development, knowledge management, information technology, all the clinicians and crucially your Board and Executive.

Let’s make sure everyone has heard about Topol, has read Topol and is talking Topol.

Twitter:  #TopolReview

David Stewart

Regional Director of Health Library and Knowledge Services North
Health Education England