(This post appeared originally on the Patient Information Forum website)
I am Managing Director of Minervation and many of you will know me through my work on the PiF website.
My interests include evidence-based health care, web design, information science, usability testing, social media and blogging.
I live in Bristol and work from home and from the Minervation office, which is based in central Oxford.
I’ve worked in health information since the mid-90s and have been very involved in the evidence-based healthcare movement, which took hold in Oxford a couple of years before I started working with Sir Muir Gray. Muir was a great inspiration and mentor for me, in that he highlighted just how poor the majority of health information for patients and professionals was back then, and set me on the road to creating better web-based information for all.
I worked for 4 years at Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Mental Health where I began what I’m sure will be a lifelong fascination with mental health. I managed a number of early web projects for NHS Direct Online, the National electronic Library for Health, BMJ Publishing and the WHO, as well as setting up an international educational programme for evidence-based mental health.
In 2002, my business partner (Douglas Badenoch) and I set up Minervation and we have spent the last decade evaluating and designing healthcare websites for all kinds of clients including PiF, Rethink, the Department of Health, BUPA and Johnson & Johnson.
Our ethos is simple. Health information will only work well for people if it is:
- Accessible – easily available where and when it’s required
- Usable – easy to use and relevant to the needs of the user
- Reliable – based on the best quality evidence
We have developed a validation instrument that many researchers, organisations and websites have used to measure the accessibility, usability and reliability of online health information. It’s called the LIDA Tool and it’s freely available at: http://www.minervation.com/lida-tool/
A great deal of our work is in the area of user involvement and usability testing. We are committed as a company to the principles of user-centred design and public involvement in research and have worked on many projects over the years that have helped to push forward these agendas.
Our usability testing consultancy services have been popular with charities and public sector groups for many years. We have carried out testing work for many clients including Cancer Research UK and NICE. You can find out more about this work here: http://www.minervation.com/what-we-offer/usability/
I’ve always been interested in blogging, but in the last couple of years I have become very active on social media websites under my alter ego the Mental Elf. My blog (www.thementalelf.net) aims to help health and social care professionals keep up to date with the latest mental health research, policy and guidance. I do this by selecting one piece of evidence-based information each weekday from the 300+ sources that I scan. It may be a systematic review, an RCT, a guideline, a new policy document or a piece of high quality patient information. My blogs summarise the evidence in a simple, clear and engaging way and provides links to the full research and other relevant publications. There’s also a mobile app for iPhone and Androidphones for those of you who are that way inclined.
The Mental Elf has become quite popular in a short space of time (with over 10,000 subscribers and followers in less than 18 months) and so I have put together a team of other like-minded people to write blogs in other areas. We now have 7 live elves onmental health, dentistry, musculoskeletal, learning disabilities, diabetes, lifestyle and education, with more in the pipeline for 2013 including a new site on health commissioning that will launch soon. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we’re calling the project the National Elf Service!
I have been involved with PiF for many years, as an enthusiastic member and speaker at events, but also as the main website developer and advisor. For me, the real success of PiF is the membership; people who are concerned with the future of consumer health information and committed to working together to bring more accessible, usable and reliable information to the people who need it.
I have really enjoyed working with Sarah, Katherine, Nicole and the rest of the PiF team on the new website and I hope that PiF members use the new tools that we have built to share their knowledge and experience with each other. The new members area will succeed only if a large proportion of us participate in the online discussions. If it does succeed, I think it may well become the definitive web-based resource for people involved in producing and disseminating consumer health information.
Please do get in touch if you have any questions about my work.