30 March 2017

Digital Innovation for a Healthy NHS

Digital innovation has an important role in the future of healthcare and supporting its introduction to address real problems in the NHS is one of UCLPartners’ aims.   To share ideas, encourage debate and engage with future doctors on digital health, UCLPartners brought together colleagues from across the partnership with industry experts at an educational event this week.  Co-chaired by Charlie Davie, UCLPartners Interim Managing Director of UCLPartners; and Tim Gluck, UCLPartners Associate Director of Education, the event was an opportunity to learn how to move ideas into reality with some practical tips, advice and support available from the experts, regional and national programmes.

Shot of a scientist recording his findings on a digital tablet

Shot of a scientist recording his findings on a digital tablet

At the heart of the discussion was the need to wrap digital innovation around the needs of patients, and Molly Watt, a digital evangelist with Usher syndrome, spoke about the dramatic difference technology makes to her life.  Molly talked about the future of digital in healthcare and this was reinforced by Jan Kimpen, Chief Medical Officer at Philips, who highlighted the huge opportunity for digital to transform the way patients receive care.  Attendees also heard from two entrepreneurs who have created highly successful digital solutions – ShiftMS and MumoActive – based on their first-hand knowledge of problems facing patients.

Representatives from Care City, DigitalHealth.London, the NHS Innovation Accelerator and NHS England’s Clinical Entrepreneurs programme gave insights and advice on what they would do if they were starting out in the world of digital health.   Tips included the need to understand what people want, look at the evidence and get a strong business case.

Examples were given from the partnership of truly innovative approaches to improving care and/or improving efficiency through technology.  These included the Streams app for acute kidney injury and augmented reality in surgery at the Royal Free; using big data at Barnet Hospital; and Your Whit – an approach to service improvement at the Whittington Hospital.

The final session focused on the importance of having reliable data to ensure that people are treated to the highest standards.  The panel included Harpreet Sood, NHS England; Jem Rashbass, Public Health England; John Robson, Queen Mary University of London; and Ann Blandford, UCL. The debate considered the need to create an infrastructure that delivers the right information at the right time and to build trust with patients and the public.

“People are happy to share their data when they know it’s for their own care or has clear societal value and when it’s explained to them.  We need to build trust and confidence in how data is used and this is about engaging with people in ways that make sense to them.” Ann Blandford.

To close the event, Molly Watt gave her reflections on the day: “Going forward, I’d like to think that digital in healthcare helps everyone – professionals and patients alike – ensuring they feel more included and more aware.  Today has proved we’re moving in the right direction.”

Read the discussion around #UCLPDigital here