I’ve been involved with health information for a decade, but it was only recently in a conversation about the PIF TICK quality mark that someone asked: “Dan, why is health information so important to you? Have you had a really bad experience with it or something? You keep popping up.”
Those of you that know me, will know I started in the sector when the Information Standard launched in 2009. At first, if I am honest, it was just another job to me. Health information was only a part of my role and one of the teams I managed. I was just another operations manager hidden away in the office.
Over the years my role went through as many changes as the Information Standard. The clauses and sub-clauses became principles and requirements, following feedback from our members. This was my first interaction with actual providers of information. I would visit and try to explain the very complex process of getting certified under the standard.
For a scheme designed to help people make better information pieces, the information and process were shocking (I can say that now as we all agreed that later versions were better). As time went on going out to information producers became a bigger part of my role and the impact of good quality health information became clearer to me.
The people I have been lucky enough to work with in this sector have shared their experience of the vital importance of health information, and how much it can affect people’s lives both positively and negatively. The passion people had for their users was so clear in both large and tiny organisations.
Some of my visits have involved colouring in with family members, as home-based organisations tried to find work/life balance. Glass eyes have been handed to me, and I’ve had very open and frank conversations about people’s health and the impact of information. This had a deep impact on me.
I became the assessor for the Information Standard when it moved to NHS England. It was then I really started to understand the issues people faced when creating information and the need for high-quality information from an end-users point of view.
Over the years, people will have seen me at events talking about the importance of health information, how users should always be involved, how documenting your process and keeping records is important. And some of you lucky people may have had me visit to conduct your assessments. As with most good things this came to an end when the Information Standard changed and became a set of principles on the NHS website.
While the standard may have changed, people’s need for good quality health information remains and it has become even more important with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2019, PIF reached out to me to help with the development of a new quality mark, the PIF TICK. It was great to get involved and combine learning from previous schemes with the intention to put patient experience at the heart of the process. The ethos of the PIF TICK is to support people to make the best information they can rather than just assess them against a Gold Standard.
My role with the PIF TICK is not just to assess, but to help organisations develop a process to produce high quality, trustworthy, accessible information and to get the recognition they deserve. For those that need it, the scheme provides the support they need to improve their processes and make their information better.
Over the last decade, health information has played a large part in my life. It started as a job, then an interest and now a passion. So going back to the main point of this blog, why is health information important to me.?
At some point, health information will touch everyone's lives. All of us have for looked online for advice as a carer, for a friend or family member, or to check your own symptoms. When I had health issues I’m certain it would have added to my anxiety had I not worked in the sector and had a good understanding of how to find good quality information.
Not knowing where or who to turn to, what is trustworthy and what isn’t, not being able to understand the information presented to you are things people face daily. It is so easy to get lost or find misleading information. This is why the PIF TICK is so important both to quality information producers and the public.
I strongly feel that everyone involved in health information should help to provide trustworthy, accessible, high-quality information. You never know when it might be you, your family or friends that need it. This is why it is important to me and should be important to everyone.