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Major new initiative faces an early test

Member's input into a powerful new resource is key to helping it succeed

Things are looking good for the launch of interactiveCSP (iCSP), the Society's powerful online networking tool. It is an initiative with an excellent track record, strong support and many plaudits. Yet, for the project team, the real test lies just around the next corner. They are about to find out whether they can turn the profession's early enthusiasm into active support and participation.  Commissioned by the Society, iCSP was developed with physiotherapists for physiotherapists. It is a free, easy-to-use website enabling members (and only members) to share knowledge based on each user's specific clinical, professional and workplace interests. It provides quick access to resources, including documents, news, events and useful websites, and also to peers through email and online discussions.

Following the successful pilot, the Society is now gearing up for the UK launch of the system, provisionally set for spring 2005. 'We are very confident that it will transform the communication and knowledge sharing capacity of the profession,' Ralph Hammond, a physiotherapist and the project's training and promotions manager, told Frontline. However, that depends on members themselves, said Mr Hammond. 'We are hoping that the profession is ready to stand behind its strong calls for action to improve communications, build peer networks and improve physiotherapy's profile.

'Is the profession ready to make the culture shift necessary to embrace widespread electronic peer communication and networking and make it a normal part of day to day working? Are enough people prepared to share what they know, or have produced, with those who are seeking to find that knowledge? Finally, are there enough people willing to back the support shown by their clinical interest or occupational group (CIOG) by helping to bring about this mini-revolution? Based on these factors, the system will either deliver its huge potential or not.'

Individual CIOGs wanting to moderate an iCSP network will need help from their members. In the coming weeks, a letter will go out from each participating group seeking that help. Those who respond will put themselves at the centre of clinical and professional knowledge sharing for their interest area. They will learn a great deal and it will all be directly relevant to their work and interests. It will require only basic IT skills, with full initial and follow-up training and ongoing support provided. The role will also be shared by several people - based on the time that each wants and is able to give. It can take as little as a couple of hours a month.

'So there is plenty to be gained and involvement is within the skills of most of the profession but it is also very new and a little different,' Mr Hammond said. He added: 'We hope that if you receive a letter you will at least find out more about the role before deciding whether it is or is not for you.'

Members don't have to wait until next year to see what they make of the system - the pilot site is now open to all.


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3 November 2004

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