July 2012; Colin MacKenzie, Contract Director at The Information Standard

Colin MacKenzie, Contract Director at The Information Standard

Colin MacKenzie, Contract Director at The Information Standard

I’m the Contract Director at The Information Standard, where I have accountability for the overall delivery of all aspects of the scheme. For anyone not familiar with the standard, it’s a certification scheme for organisations who produce health and care information. It was developed to help the public identify trusted sources of information to help them make informed decisions about their own personal health and care pathways.

I have been in this role for about 12 months, and before that I was Director of Communications and Digital Engagement at NHS Choices. My background is not in health and I previously worked with the UK’s largest retailer for over 20 years where I was fortunate enough to have a number of quite different roles in different sectors. These included retail management, Head of Customer Service, Corporate Marketing and Head of Internet within their Financial Services division. However the one thing that remained consistent across all of these different roles was the relentless focus on the customer- recognising that everything we did needed to be customer led, creating real value to earn their lifetime loyalty. This is a really important message I have taken with me into me current role and one that I will continue to champion throughout my working life.

I mention this because I strongly believe there is a great lesson we can all learn around the benefits of ensuring our customer/patient/service users, and their personal needs, are considered right at the start of any engagement process, then building our information proposition around this (rather than the other way round) when we develop our health and care strategies.

As Contract Director at the Information Standard I am responsible for all aspects of the scheme, including acquisition of new members, ongoing support for existing members and development of partnerships and key strategic relationships. My challenge is to increase scheme membership, whilst at the same time ensure that existing members feel that they receive ongoing value and benefit.

I have a small team to support me and over the last 12 months we have developed a number of initiatives to help deliver against our key business objectives. These have included a re-launch of our web site with improved functionality, a complete re-fresh of our marketing materials and development of a social media strategy that we are now starting to deliver. In addition we are about to run our first member networking event which I’m sure our members will find really useful and informative.

One of the elements of my role that I enjoy most is spending time with members, prospective members and key stakeholders as I believe strongly that in order to maximise results, you need to understand what people think of your service and the benefits they want from it. Over recent weeks I’ve had some really interesting discussions with charity, local government and NHS organisations at various conferences and events, but there are a couple of themes that continue to come up regularly. Firstly, providing quality, evidence based information is something we all agree is very important and we are striving to deliver, and secondly that it’s tough out there and money is tight. However I strongly believe The Information Standard can help organisations deliver against both these challenges.

The other area that has been a priority for me has been understanding the implications of the recently published Information Strategy. It’s been a complex document to adsorb, and to help our members distil the key elements, we have produced a 3 page summary that can be found on our web site. I’ve been hugely encouraged by a number of the elements of the paper including the recognition that health information should be a service in its own right, and also the move to a more pluristic approach to the provision of information. I have great confidence that Information Standard membership will play a key role by providing organisations with the credibility that will enable them to share their information to a much wider audience through the new NHS portal that is being launched in 2013.

Finally, what does membership of PiF mean to me? I’ve been a member of PiF for 2 years now and have found it to be of great value and benefit in my current role and also when I was at NHS Choices. It’s great for networking and the weekly industry update provides significant added value. The Information Standard have been delighted to sponsor the recent annual conference and I look forward to working in partnership with the team from PiF in the future.