By Sarah Bradnum on 20 September 2018
NHS Expo 2018
At #Expo18NHS (no wonder they didn’t opt for #NHSExpo2018… #sexpo), high street brands visibly dominated the hall. Amazon Web Services (AWS) quadrupled its floor space on last year – complete with a meeting room sized Alexa – making predictions for a future where mainstream brands and the NHS blend feel that they’re fast becoming a reality.
Speeches from Simon Stevens and Matt Hancock MP underpinned this vision – with a focus resolutely on innovation and tech fueling the future of our health service. From a colourful speech that included hamster kidneys and Premiership Football from Stevens, to a pointed, news-focussed delivery plan from Hancock that promised to change NHS culture to make it tech-focused at every level. There’s a great summary of it here by Richard Vize.
The name on everyone’s lips, but missing from a stand, was Babylon Health – proving that you don’t need conference floor space to have a dominating presence at this annual NHS event. Every magazine we’ve opened in the past few months has an article highlighting their successes from Courier to Wired Health. Babylon did send an exceptionally busy senior team of three to represent them, who we enjoyed sharing dinner and philosophically charged chats with.
Our latest addition to the Journalista team, Sarah Bradnum, provides a round-up of her first ever Expo experience and highlights some of the organisations that stood out to her.
Given that I’ve moved from The Old Vic to join Journalista, I was buoyed to learn more about how theWholeStory help their healthcare clients to unpick and understand their issues and flourish by telling their stories. With their backgrounds in Storytelling Performance and Theatre Directing, Josh Gaillemin and Lily Pender offer attendees of their workshops and masterclasses the tools and techniques to find confidence in communication. By encouraging clients to find alternative ways of thinking – for instance, by forcing them to define themselves in ten words, then seven, then three, and finally in one word (no repetition, hyphenation, or vaguary!) – theWholeStory helps people to overcome their personal challenges and the barriers that get in the way of their thinking and, in turn, their ability to communicate. A great example of this came from the WholeStory’s work with the Chief Medical Officer of Diabetes.co.uk, Campbell Murdoch, who was able to connect with the NHS Select Committee by speaking about the condition from the perspective of the disease itself. This shift in focus helped him to capture the imaginations of the Select Committee, and offers a unique and creative way of holding an audience’s attention.
With a grand flag-bearing, tea and scone-touting stand, our newly acquired client, Healthcare UK, launched their Catalyst programme – a cross Government initiative aimed at boosting exporting by NHS trusts and Arms Length Bodies (ALBs). Backed by the Department for International Trade (DIT), the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England (NHSE) the programme is designed to boost the value of contracts being won by NHS organisations from the current £10m to £1bn a year – read more about it in coverage we secured in the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail. It was great to see our Content Director and former health journo Mary-Louise Clews in action as she did back to back video interviews about the benefits of the programme with everyone from Healthcare UK MD Deborah Kobecka to NHSE chair Professor Sir Malcolm Grant, as well as key leads from trusts who are already exporting services or are looking at doing so, such as Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust Clinical Director, Dr Smeeta Sinha, and Alder Hey head of clinical partnerships, Angie May.
Another Journalista favourite – Locum’s Nest is an app developed by doctors for doctors with the aim of connecting doctors to locum work in healthcare organisations, whilst cutting out the inefficient, ineffective and expensive agency middleman. We were fortunate enough to work with these apparent owl enthusiasts at the beginning of the month as part of our collaboration with DigitalHealth.London and their Accelerator event for high-potential start-ups and SMEs. Their stats are impressive – over 2000 doctors are now able to cross-cover at all involved organisations, resulting in 40,000 shifts covered and saving the typical NHS hospital around £3m a year in agency fees.
UKCloud Health, with their eye-catching animated double-helix banner, were one of several cloud platforms I saw showcasing their wares at Expo18NHS. This should be no surprise, given the obvious advantages that storing information on the cloud offers to healthcare providers with large amounts of data to store and privacy requirements to consider, but unlike the big boys such as AWS, UKCloud Health caters exclusively to healthcare organisations. It is also solely UK-based, so you can be sure that your data isn’t travelling overseas, and the team are super friendly, to boot. Their offer is a secure, but easy to use cloud platform that supports digital transformation, and their platform is inherently open and well-connected, which directly supports the interoperability challenges that face the Health and Care sector.
Ask NHS (powered by Sensely)
I was initially drawn to the Ask NHS stand by ‘Olivia’, the unnervingly attractive virtual healthcare assistant, who is on hand to help you check your symptoms, locate your nearest pharmacy, or provide self-care advice. As an all-in-one integrated platform for access to local NHS services, such as appointment booking and 111, it certainly takes the stress out of those urgent (but non-life-threatening) medical emergencies when you might otherwise Google your symptoms and convince yourself that you’re at death’s door. But perhaps my favourite thing about the app is the facility to browse through available appointments with your GP and book yourself in directly, without having to face the dreaded 8am call in order to obtain a same-day appointment.
Always with a stand and a smile, the fantastically named (Perran Pengelly, Tom Whicher, and Rinesh Amin) Southampton cum Shoreditch team that won the ITP award this year, DrDoctor this year partnered with Tara Donnelly at the Health Innovation Network to host an innovation dinner.
Their tool empowers patients to view, change and schedule outpatient appointments themselves, online, on a smartphone, or by conversational SMS. Patients using DrDoctor have a better experience and are more likely to attend appointments (attendance is increased by over 15%, while non-attendance is reduced by 47%), all with fewer phone calls and less admin. All this saves their NHS partners over £3.6m per year. Not bad at all.
Connected Health Cities
Connected Health Cities (CHC) is doing fantastic and necessary work in uniting local health data and advanced technology to improve health services for patients across the North of England. At the moment, the four connected ‘cities’ in question are Greater Manchester, Yorkshire, and North East and North Cumbria, which form the pilot for the scheme. The premise is simple: make better use of information and technology that already exists in the health and social care system, and use this linked data to map pathways of care and ensure that health services are more joined-up. By working with patients, health practitioners, and experts in digital health they deliver research that is relevant, effective, and has a real impact on public health; for example, reducing falls in elderly people, spotting alcohol misuse at an earlier stage, and cutting the inappropriate use of antibiotics. As with many of the innovations I saw at Expo18NHS, one of the overarching aims of CHC is to encourage the engagement and empowerment of NHS patients to take control of their healthcare.