The power of the Blue Lozenge to unite

Today we’re launching a new company that specialises in strategic communication in health and care. We’re called Blue Lozenge, our ambition is to support health and care leaders with excellent communication and engagement strategy and support. Now let us explain the name.

The NHS blue lozenge was first used in the 1990s. Following an intelligent rebranding exercise in 1999, the new identity brought together over 600 different variations, unifying communications for the public and patients who use the service. Today it is claimed the brand has an impressive 95 per cent recognition among the general public. And thanks to the dedicated people who provide care and other essential services, it has become a potent symbol of national pride. 

As is often mistakenly the case, the value of the NHS rebranding exercise was initially called into question. However, the NHS blue lozenge identity and brand, has undoubtedly played an important role in unifying the health service, and in becoming the UK’s most identifiable and relevant brand. Devolution has posed its own challenges to the unity with Scotland and Wales adopting their own logo and Ireland opting for a new name. But nonetheless, the blue lozenge is synonymous with unified healthcare in the minds of the public.

Too often the power of professional and strategic communications in the public sector is underplayed and devalued. It’s an easy error to make, especially if communication is ill-thought through or poorly executed – people, therefore, perceive that the taxpayer’s pound is better spent elsewhere. The communication profession has a hurdle to overcome as too often communication value is only seen in media relations. The reality is that reputation in the media is an outcome of an organisation’s performance, therefore competent and intelligent communication programmes especially in healthcare focus on how communication and engagement can drive better performance and better care.

People are at the heart of the vision of transformation for healthcare systems, and therefore communication must be too. Effective, actionable insight, engagement with the workforce, public and stakeholders, programmes of transformation and change, managing reputation and risk are core communication capabilities and ones that need to be developed and grown in healthcare. 

We are passionate about the value that excellent communication brings to patients, employees and the population. As integrated care becomes a dominant model for care delivery, our ambition is that the practice and benefits of strategic, integrated communication is bought fully to bear in health and care services. 

We have developed the unifying spirit of the NHS identity into our own identity here at Blue Lozenge. We work on complex projects that require a deep understanding of healthcare and we bring the power of exemplary strategic communication to help achieve success for your projects and the people you serve. If you’d like our help and to talk through your project please get in touch.

Intelligent insight to inform integrated decision making

Despite the best efforts of local providers, feedback on health and care services can often be disparate and disconnected. Swamped in data there is often a lack of intelligent insight. The vision for Integrated Care Systems (ICS) is to remove traditional divisions between hospitals and family doctors, between physicians and mental health, and between NHS and Council Services. To do this effectively shared insight from patients and the populations they serve will be critical.

A core capability of strategic communication is the ability to listen, gather evidence and develop insight that will then help to inform decision making and affect behaviour change. Insight is the capacity to develop an accurate and deep understanding of our audiences. To unearth a truth that will help to change behaviour and inform the way we communicate.

In healthcare, this is vital – failing to listen to understand and to develop accurate insights from the data we have available to us results in harm! It can also result in costly change programmes that are poorly executed, it breeds distrust and it disengages loyal colleagues and partners. Our challenge is that whilst we drown in data, our insights are inadequate.

ICS boards under the new guidance from NHSE will be required to demonstrate how they use public involvement and insight to inform decision making.

Here are eight major benefits of a systemwide patient and population insight programme:

  1. Safety – insights from patients and residents will identify themes and trends across a whole healthcare system. Analysing trends and data simply at a provider level could fail to pick up systemic issues that fall between the provider cracks.
  2. Governance – clinical leaders need to report to a tapestry of forums and committees, having a systemwide insight approach will help reduce the reporting burden. It will also give executive and non-executive leaders an essential mechanism to give them oversight and the knowledge with which to make informed decisions.
  3. Health inequalities – reducing variation in health and wellbeing outcomes requires data, including data from seldom heard groups. Using this data to develop insights can help to mitigate against exacerbating inequalities and can ensure appropriate steps are taken to improve healthcare.
  4. Value for money – the ability to gather insights at the ICS level will aid targeted decision making, will make the best use of limited resource and will have the biggest impact on patient and resident experience.
  5. Risk management – having the capability to gain accurate and actionable insights at a system level will help to inform early warning systems, identifying issues that can be addressed together, with partners, as opposed to in isolation.
  6. Swift action – being intentional and strategic about how you gather patient insight can mean that you can react collaboratively to feedback and data in real-time.
  7. Service transformations – integrated care is intended to help resolve issues of disjointed provision, gaining information and insight about service transitions will be critical to enhance the patient experience.
  8. Prioritisation of care – different populations have different needs. The premise of ‘place’ based care is intended to give vulnerable people the care they need where they are, through deep insight and understanding of their needs and experience.

Providers are already making progress towards effective, collaborative working arrangements, if you would like a conversation about how effective population and patient insight can help you succeed, please get in touch.