One of the many ways that social media has enhanced our lives is to give us the ability to connect with, and learn from, people with similar interests and passions from across the globe. There is a richness of knowledge sharing in my life that didn’t exist even four years ago.  It gives me extra confidence that my thinking and practice as a leader of change and transformation is in line with the most leading edge, credible knowledge sources in the world. As soon as new learning becomes available, I receive it.

The Edge epitomised this new connectivity. It has nearly 10,000 subscribers from 98 countries including Norway, USA, Russia, South Africa, Germany, India, Spain, Belgium, Tunisia, China, Brazil and Malaysia. Our learning platforms, such as The School for Health and Care Radicals have attracted people from more than 60 countries. Some people ask “why are you sharing resources with people from outside the English National Health Service? Surely your first concern and priority should be the people in your own system?” It is. AND we, and they, gain greatly from our international collaborations.

Sharing works both ways. We give people access to our knowledge and materials on an “open” basis and in return they collaborate in taking our collective ideas and methods forward. Rather than a narrow, England-centric view of health and care, we get to learn for free from other peoples’ experiences from around the world. We don’t just compare data and experiences that are best in Britain. We can easily hunt out the best learning in the world. Digital connectivity tears down walls and breaks down gates. It takes our level of ambition for our patients, service users and delivery systems to a whole different level.

Recently I talked to a collaborator in Australasia who is a leading expert in healthcare improvement and innovation. She has been acting as a virtual volunteer mentor to a grassroots change activist in the NHS. We linked them up via The School for Health and Care Radicals. Both mentor and mentee have gained from the relationship. As part of the school we set up “randomised coffee trials”, where we randomly allocated people to have a cup of coffee together via Skype. It’s great to see via social media that Melanie the midwife in England and Liz the improvement leader in Qatar are continuing to support each other to be brave and innovative in their change actions.

Later this year, groups from British Columbia, Canada and Auckland, New Zealand will “take over” specific issues of The Edge and provide all the content for that issue. I know from the discussions we have had with them already that they will do an outstanding job and will raise the bar on the standard of content of The Edge. It is likely that every future issue of The Edge will be improved by this voluntary global input.

Breakthrough innovation rarely comes from within organisations. It comes from outside or from the emerging generation. We can gain so much more perspective about our own health and care system by seeing it through the eyes of those who use or provide care in other systems.

So I would like to thank all of our international colleagues for their support and contributions to our change activist community for health and care. We really are changing the world. Together.