#donthatecollaborate

 “None of us is as smart as all of us.” –Ken Blanchard

In this time of divisive politics and schisms in society it is easy to be fearful of what is to come.
It seems wherever we look now there is division and tribalism. Our facebook and twitter feeds are echo-chambers in which our own world views are strengthened and vitriol is spouted to anyone who disagrees with our view, whilst extreme voices shout out above the cacophony of media misinformation and government spin.
Many feel we have lost the art of constructive conversation. We cannot disagree intellectually with anyone anymore – do we feel we are only heard if we regress to personal attacks and denigration. How do we go forward? I felt this acutely especially as I have just relented and joined twitter to help promote myGPevents (shameless twitter handlings – @shubsmygpevents)
The NHS seems to have been in a low ebb of late – more cuts, demoralised clinicians and stifled innovation. Technology has connected us, yet we feel more isolated and divided.
Over the last few weeks I have come into contact with lots of clinicians working on innovative projects within and outside the NHS. There is a real momentum and a quiet but profound resolve within this group of people. And slowly we are beginning to connect in the spirit of collaboration. Seeing how we can help each other succeed as we tread common ground – offering advice and sharing insights.
One person, Colin Coulthard, GP and co-founder of Itamus – a platform using IT to create better pathways to support clinicians and patients  – who is a few years into his project, offered me some great insights and resources in order for us to ask the right questions to move our own project forward. Also Sami Triki, a web developer, who on speaking to me over a drink  agreed to help in solving our issues with deployment. These people did not request anything in return – it was in the spirit of collaboration – with the attitude that we learn and discover things for ourselves in the act of working with others. These are people who see beyond what short-term gains they can quickly exploit.
Another great example is Network Locum – a tech startup for GPs to link to Practices – as one of their Community Champions we are trying to build an inclusive, supportive community to address the increasing isolation felt so acutely in General Practice at the moment. Their support for our project has been great – always encouraging, discussing and seeing where our common touch-points are to help each other succeed.
I also attended the Giant Health event last week in London – a platform to connect people and organisations involved in Digital Health worldwide. Sometimes these large events can end up being a bit fluffy and generic – this was my experience. However the connections made with other people, including those that are part of the Doctors Digital Collective were immensely satisfying.
As clinicians we often default into a ‘silo’ mentality (a result of our training and system experiences?).  This can lead to being defensive about our ideas, not willing to talk to others about them. Whilst it is important to protect our value and intellectual property, I feel that this can be done in conjunction with working with others who are treading common ground – sharing insights, resources and discussing ideas.
This is an exciting space – and if you are a clinician with an idea reading this and looking for a collaborative environment – I strongly recommend looking up the Doctors Digital Collective group on facebook. Other opportunities exist in the NHS Clinical Entrepreneurs fellowship  as well. Also check out the work that @keithgrimes is doing with Virtual Reality and applications in healthcare.
It is the small things we do day to day – in the spirit of working together, helping those around us; our everyday interactions – that extra mile for our patients (that so many of us walk every day), or that 5mins of encouragement to the colleague or friend who might need it – that will close the schisms that surround us.
Well I hope anyway.
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