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I have had today the privilege of meeting Dr Kate Granger, founder of the #hellomynameis campaign, and a terminally ill cancer patient, at a conference where we both spoke.

Better than me explaining what this is ‘hellomynameis’ these are her words in http://hellomynameis.org.uk/home

I’m a doctor, but also a terminally ill cancer patient. During a hospital stay in August 2013 with post-operative sepsis, I made the stark observation that many staff looking after me did not introduce themselves before delivering my care. It felt incredibly wrong that such a basic step in communication was missing. After ranting at my husband during one evening visiting time he encouraged me to “stop whinging and do something!”

We decided to start a campaign, primarily using social media initially, to encourage and remind healthcare staff about the importance of introductions in healthcare.

I firmly believe it is not just about common courtesy, but it runs much deeper. Introductions are about making a human connection between one human being who is suffering and vulnerable, and another human being who wishes to help. They begin therapeutic relationships and can instantly build trust in difficult circumstances.

In my mind #hellomynameis is the first rung on the ladder to providing truly person-centred, compassionate care. This was the first ever tweet I sent using the hashtag…

Thousands of health care professionals around the world are now hooked. Entire divisions, hospitals, groups of hospitals and other health care groups,. from nursing organizations to administration, wear the little badge and introduce themselves, ‘hello my name is Peter’, etc

If I see this movement through the lenses of Viral Change™ , then success makes enormous sense. These are the five pillars and disciplines behind Viral change

  1. Behaviours as key currency: the behaviour here is what we call in Viral Change ‘atomic behaviour’. Simple, concrete, unequivocal; you introduce yourself or not. The badge is the prompt and the nomadic gadget.
  2. Social influence: it’s spread(ing) peer-to-peer; critical masses appear (group of nurses, bunch of administrators) and other follow
  3. Informal social networks: not a single ‘team meeting’ has taken place
  4. Storytelling: in the website you have plenty of testimonials and a sense of the magnitude of the spread
  5. Backstage Leadership : my conference, organised by the Health Service Executive of Ireland, was in Dublin. The Director general of the Irish Health Service, Tony O’Brien, there present, goes around the country with the customised badge in his top pocket, ready to use in any occasion and prompting him to start the conversation in that way

There is also a strong emotional narrative, which goes well beyond the inevitable and welcome admiration for Kate Granger as a person. People are hooked on the ‘humanization’ (missing) of the conversation. In Kate’s own experience, only a hospital porter made the point of introducing himself by name.

The digital/social media spread and support is also a catalytic, but only that, not the full explanation of the phenomenon.

The sustainability of the campaign will depend on many things, and it is not by any means a done deal, a foregone conclusion. But the critical masses of people in health services around the world already using it, makes me believe that it is truly crossing the threshold of a social movement.

That The Health Service Executive, Communication arm, of Ireland has brought Kate in, is a credit to their understanding of modern social change.

But, above all, thanks, Dr Granger.

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