Britain’s best-loved children’s hospital and charity, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust (GOSH), contracted me to lead a two-year project to modernise the hospital’s web presence and take its brand into the 21st century. GOSH is both Britain’s first children’s hospital and a pioneering child health institution (along with its partner the Institute for Child Health). The hospital’s outstanding reputation meant the project was carried out under intense public, media and professional scrutiny, and required a keen awareness of new media developments and the needs of the hospital’s patients, their families and the public.
The project was developed in three, distinct phases. Screen grabs from these phases are now available for download and evaluation. They also include web traffic statistics. This unique snapshot of a complex project as it unfolded, should prove useful for other e-health practitioners.
A great way to track the historical development of a web project is to use the Wayback Machine’s internet archive here. By typing in the web address (for example, www.gosh.nhs.uk, and www.gosh.org), you can see a chronological history of the website by month.
Read here about the child health portal project’s vision and strategy, its launch and overall impact. Or download a brief Powerpoint presentation here: GOSH Powerpoint.
Astute negotiation skills have been required to see through complex, multi-partner projects, or to see through difficult transitions (in particular digital). While working for the United Nations in Mongolia (1997-1999), I led negotiations on three Memoranda of Understanding with the Government of Mongolia: Youth, Food Security and Nutrition and Human Rights (Blue Sky Bulletin).
As head of theUNDP Mongolia Communications Office(1997-1999), I was at the centre of a fast-expanding UN mission in the midst of a major crisis (called “one of the biggest peacetime economic collapses ever”, Mongolia’s Economic Reforms: Background, Content and Prospects, Richard Pomfret, University of Adelaide, 1994). Everything we did required solid negotiation skills that were sensitive to the culture and understood how to get things done in that context. People were under a great deal of pressure and the times were characterized as “volatile ones for Mongolia, with revolving door governments, the assassination of a minister, emerging corruption, a banking scandal, in-fighting within the ruling Democratic Coalition, frequent paralysis within the Parliament, and disputes over the Constitution. Economically, the period was unstable and rife with controversies.”Mongolia in 1998 and 1999: Past, Present, and Future at the New Millenniumby Sheldon R. Severinghaus, Asian Survey, Vol. 40, No. 1, A Survey of Asia in 1999 (Jan. – Feb., 2000). pp. 130-139 (Publisher: University of California).
Award-winning, this work was called a “role model” for the wider UN and country offices.
While heading a multi-institutional major project for the UK’s National Health Service (2001-2003) under the Modernisation Plan, I had to daily negotiate with colleagues and staff across professions, institutions and with senior managers and executives. Introducing new ways of doing things requires a fineness of touch and a strategic mind to see how small steps eventually achieve goals. Award-winning, this work was called one of the “three most admired websites in the UK public and voluntary sectors”, and a UK Government assessment called the overallGOSH Child Health Web Portala role model for the NHS.
Since 2007, I have been working on media products for theUnited Nations Office for South-South Cooperation(UNOSSC). This has required contacting and networking with people across the global South. The goal was to raise the profile of South-South cooperation in the UN system and the profile of the growing numbers of innovators across the global South resulting from the rapid expansion of mobile and information technologies, and in turn transform the UN’s strategic and funding priorities. This was successful and acknowledged in the Strategic Plan for UNDP 2014-2017and its firstUNDP Youth Strategy 2014-2017.
A two-year project to turn our joint institution’s website (www.gosh.nhs.uk) into a respected child health portal got underway with the launch of the first phase of development in September. The second phase of content development will get the site ship shape for a UK-wide publicity campaign as the hospital’s 150th birthday celebrations begin in January.
The site’s web editor, David South, has been working on the project since arriving here in June, having worked on award-winning websites for the United Nations.
“The first phase saw collaboration from staff across both institutions,” he says. “An impressive amount was done, and we have now laid the foundations for future improvements to the content on the site. I really want to offer more for children. Over three million children in the UK now surf the internet.”
The opportunity for both institutions is enormous. As the internet has evolved, it has become increasingly clear that the future of its development lies in the public sphere. US government sites now outstrip commercial operations, selling far more books than the largest online bookseller, amazon.com. Here in the UK, the http://www.ukonline.gov.uk site is working to offer one-stop access to all government services, including health care.
Unlike commercial operations, the hospital and the Institute are an unbiased resource for the public to turn to. Currently, the joint site has more than 180 factsheets for families covering tests and procedures, illnesses and diseases and operations. It also has the complete archive of Dr. Jane Collins’ Times column, with its jargon-free look at child health issues.
“This being London, we have the unique advantage of being at the centre of so many developments, and having the opportunity to communicate this through our website,” says David South.
Across the NHS the Modernisation Plan involves the largest data collection exercise in its history. More and more resources will be offered online, and the content produced by individual trusts like ours will be linked with national sites like NHS Direct.
New GOSH/ICH website
With over three million children in the UK now using the internet, and a total of 33 million UK citizens accessing it through work, school or the home, no organisation can afford not to make the most of this valuable communications tool. Estimates vary, but some put the number of health-related websites at more than 100,000. Trust is an even more important issue, as users search for accurate information. It is in this context that the new hospital and ICH website, http://www.gosh.nhs.uk, launched in September. Web editor David South puts us in the picture.
The new site reflects the hard work and collaboration of staff across both institutions, and it is hoped it will quickly make its mark as a trusted resource on complex child health issues. The site also becomes one of the most visible signs of our on-going modernisation programme, and can uniquely tie together the breadth of our work in a way that no other medium can. The site development project spans two years and will fit in with the wider move across the NHS to offer a wide range of services online.
The next phase of the site’s development is aimed at getting the site ready for a larger publicity campaign slated to coincide with the hospital’s 150th birthday celebrations with start in January. In preparation for this public launch, a number of improvements will be made to the site’s content, interactivity, platform and design. To put it simply, the site should become a critical first stop for anybody seeking our services, or wanting to learn more about the latest research and care developments in the field of complex child issues.
The joint site will also be available via Gosweb for staff in the hospital who don’t already have internet access.