Roughly a year after the documents were published, it is time to look back. That process may be gratifying (“Wow, I never thought that would fly”), inspiring (“better start getting on with that”) or horrifying (“who thought of promising that?”), but will almost certainly be tedious.
That is, if you hadn’t discovered word clouds. For those unfamiliar with the concept, these are a graphic representation of a document as a cloud of words, their size depending on how many times they feature. I have taken the visions, removed common words, and stuck them through wordle.net, which produces these things for free.
Yes, they may sacrifice some of the subtlety of the original documents. But then again they don’t include those pesky commitments – brilliant! – and allow a rapid, frivolous comparison of each strategic health authority.
Impressions jumping out at me included the fact that Ara Darzi’s A Framework for Action, published for London a year prior to the other visions, before he took on Parliamentary and ministerial duties, includes scant mention of “quality”. When and how, I wonder, did he settle on the buzzword?
A year on – but still pre-High Quality Care for All – four regions had cottoned on to the Q word sufficiently for it to be visible in their clouds – namely the West Midlands, South West, North West and East of England.
In the North East’s cloud, “members” takes pride of place. Could this be related to its nearly-all-foundation trust acute sector prowess, I wondered? Sadly no, an investigation reveals it just lists all the “members” of its pathway groups. (Others: East Midlands,South Central,South East Coast, North East.)
So don’t read too much into them. In another experiment, though, I have translated health secretary Alan Johnson’s party conference speeches from 2007 and 2008. The sudden appearance of “Tories”, “Labour”, “years” and “government” is impossible to miss.
There are undoubtedly other webby tools and gizmos out there just waiting to be applied to the health world. Any recommendations, or examples of even more interesting word clouds, would be warmly welcomed.