With the deadline for the EHI 2013 and HSJ Awards passing this week, I have spent hours – no in fact days – researching categories, drafting entries, chasing for approvals and panicking that I won’t have an entry submitted in time for the deadline.

This got me thinking – why do we enter industry awards and what are the benefits to the organisation – is it really worth all the extra hassle?

Winning an industry award or even being shortlisted for and award can enhance your organisation, whether you are entering as a supplier highlighting a specific product or as a NHS team or project. For suppliers, of course, the recognition achieved by entering an award can result in many things, whether it be increased noise in the marketplace, boosting website traffic or increasing sales.

For NHS trusts/boards entering an award there are also significant benefits, including boosting team morale, recognition by the department and the rest of the entire trust as well as other NHS organisations looking to achieve similar things.

When considering whether to enter an award, the first thing to do is ask yourself whether you have a real chance of winning, can you provide good examples to support your entry, are you able to answer all the questions fully and can you demonstrate a genuine achievement, such as improvements to patient care or safety or a real return on investment. In addition, those who enter categories should be able to demonstrate they have implemented something that is different to what others have done before.

If the answer to all of the above is YES and you have decided to enter an award, make sure you consider the following:

  • Is your entry worthy?
  • Can you use a customer to tell your story?
  • Are you choosing the right category – is it the one you want to be associated with or is it the best fit?
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  • Can you ask other people what they think about the project/product to add additional perspectives and benefits?
  • Can you use existing material written by press or businesses cases to support the award and reduce duplication?
  • Make sure you have plenty of time for amendments and approvals so that you do not miss the deadline!

Entering an organisation for an award can be time consuming. However once you have drafted your entry, suppliers in particular have a good piece of material which can be repurposed perhaps as collateral, for example as a case study or use snippets for social media, therefore raising your profile and increasing traffic to your website.

A great example of how an award winner has maximised their publicity opportunities is Neil Darvill, director of health informatics at St Helens and Knowlsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust who won the prestigious EHI Healthcare IT Champion of the year award in 2012. Since winning the award, St Helens and Knowlsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has been thrust into the spotlight, receiving news coverage in HSJ and the Guardian among others and being positioned as a trust that is leading the way towards a paperless NHS. The trust has now been exemplified as a model that other organisations should follow in order to meet health secretary, Jeremy Hunt’s 2018 ‘Paperless Challenge’. Neil has become somewhat of a celebrity now within the healthcare IT industry and is regularly offered speaking slots at significant healthcare events.

Therefore the real value in winning an award often comes after. Don’t just stop when you have lifted the trophy – use it to get more exposure, take part in speaker slots to share your achievements even become an influencer in your field and promote the award internally using your communications team so that the whole organisation knows what you have achieved.

Most public sector awards are free or relatively inexpensive to enter. If you have the time to spare it’s defiantly worth entering your organisation for an award, even if it is just to enjoy an evening at a glamorous awards ceremony with your colleague’s celebrating the achievements your organisation has made.

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