Sunday, 5 October 2014

Deer that Walk on Water, Disruptive Women and Digital Health Futures

Today is the last day of my holiday. Its amazing to think that 7 days ago I was sitting here, in the House in Scotland, writing a blog on what was the first day of my holiday. The week has flown past and I've really benefited from a slowing down. There have been plenty of walks on leaf strewn paths that meander through woodland landscapes that are full of glorious autumnal colours. There’s been time to enjoy the garden, re-discover there is such a thing as lunch time, catch up with friends, and get through the backlog of books on my Kindle

While Cello and I have been enjoying the quiet of deserted beaches and woods, the deer have taken to wandering around the village. There is a female with 2 young in tow, who has been busy introducing her offspring to the delights of late, flowering plants, the apples and pears still on the trees and anything else that takes their fancy. There have also been many plenty of single deer around. The best sighting was one evening at Threave Castles Stepping Stones, looking for the otters that had been reported being seen there, when out of the gloom came a single deer, who as she walked across the stones looked for all the world as if she was walking on the water.

In a week where the major community event was the opening of the local public pier, I was interested to read the e-book- A Global Conversation: Improving the Health of Vulnerable Communities. This is an absolutely brilliant collection of narratives by the Disruptive Women in Health Care Group. This is a group of women who use the power of digital interconnectivity to collectively explore and collaborate in addressing the challenges facing all of us in finding ways to improve health care and health service delivery.

I would highly recommend that anyone seriously interested in really making a difference takes the time to read this e-book. I am grateful to one of our professors, Louise Ackers, for bringing this work to my attention. Interestingly at our last Performance Development Review (PDR) meeting I congratulated Louise for being a superbly disruptive colleague. However, I don’t think she saw my description of her contribution to the work of the School as being in any way complimentary at the time.   

Although I steered clear of work emails, I couldn't resist looking at my Twitter account from time to time. And I am glad I did. Thanks to Leslie Robinson (from our sister School, the School of Health Sciences) for tweeting a report from the Commonwealth Fund that also looks at global health, and how digital health could be better harnessed to deal with global health issues. The report brings together the views and experiences of health care consumers, technologists, investors and professionals in exploring how the barriers to embracing digital health might be overcome. 

Of course many people make their own contribution to helping others living overseas, particularly those who are suffering distress and illness through no fault of their own. Alan Henning was one such man. A taxi driver by trade, he had volunteered (for the 4th time) to help drive an aid convoy to Syria for the Muslim charity Aid4Syria. 10 months ago he was kidnapped, and yesterday we heard the news that he had been murdered by the so called Islamic State of Iraq. On this last day of my holiday I am going to take time later to walk one more time in the woods. My thoughts will be with Alan’s family and his loving wife Barbara, who is a colleague at the University.