Domhnall MacAuley on Making a Difference

It’s live! Up and running! Have you seen the BMJ’s website, articles, and listened to the podcasts? The “Making a difference” project is one of our most exciting recent projects; a multimedia dynamic and innovative adventure. I should not say it … but it is superb. See the web, tell your friends and family, and get them to vote. So, how did we get here?
It began when Don Berwick, President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Boston, challenged the BMJ Publishing Group about what were we trying to achieve. Our mission is, of course “to improve outcomes for patients.” In response to this challenge we decided to join with our readers and some expert advisors to choose some important healthcare problems and focus our resources on how to make a difference in these areas.
We asked BMJ readers to help us choose (read Editor’s choice and filler) and, you certainly did, giving us more than 200 different suggestions (read feedback to Editor’s choice and feedback to filler). We grouped them together and, after mapping against the priorities of a number of national and international bodies and the BMJ mission, we created a shortlist of 12 topics. Our expert panel helped us select the six key topics you see on the web. We tweaked the titles a little and combined two of the topics. You may not agree with our panel and may prefer one of those we discarded (see list at the bottom). Why not tell us using the rapid response facility?
For each of the six topics there is a podcast and two articles on the web (appearing in a supplement in the BMJ next week). And, of course, you will have already taken part in the readers vote. Goodness, what a response – every day we watch the rising tally with the order changing almost by the hour. Next Friday morning we have the official launch and announcement of the leading topic at a breakfast meeting at the International Quality Forum in Paris.
What happens next? By Friday we will know what topic you have selected. We plan to campaign on this topic first. We’ll commission and invite articles and other resources on this topic across the range of the BMJ Group’s products: the BMJ, the BMJ Journals, Clinical Evidence, Best Treatments, and BMJ Learning. You may have other ideas, and we would like to hear your suggestions.

List of “discarded” topics:
Teenage sexual health (pregnancy, STIs particularly Chlamydia)
Breast feeding
Neglected tropical infections
Adverse drug reactions (burden of iatrogenic disease)
Community acquired infection (CA-MRSA)
Critical rescue – (improved care in trauma and emergencies)
Pain management
Excessive alcohol intake (harm reduction)
Road traffic crashes
Palliative care (beyond cancer)
Malignancy as a chronic disease
Multiple morbidity (in older people)

Domhnall MacAuley, primary care editor, BMJ, on 17 April 2008