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10 Takeaways from the NHS EXPO 2016

Team OB’s public sector Account Manager, Angela Conway, lists her ten most valuable takeaways and experiences from September’s NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo 2016; supporting her recent event Insight NHS Acute Trusts: Global Centres for Digital Excellence.

10: Online access in GP surgeries talk (NHS England’s pop-up theatre)

On one of the smaller stages at Expo16, NHS England’s pop up theatre offered a cosy space for enthusiastic speakers to give talks of up to half an hour on topics crucial to innovating the NHS.

Taking up the mantle on Wednesday afternoon were three GPs: Dr Masood Nazir from Birmingham, Dr Imran Rafi (Surrey) and Dr Edward Henry (Chester). The speakers told us about the main challenges faced by GP surgeries - an ageing population, a rising number of consultations - addressed by the same staff and resources. Providing insight from the frontline, the GPs discussed how appointments taken up with patient queries such as “I haven’t heard back after my recent blood test - is everything okay?” could be solved with digital technology. GP surgeries in many cases tend to say “if you haven’t heard from us, assume your results are fine” - but psychologically, as patients, we desire confirmation that our results are indeed okay.

Receiving test results via an app and having a record of them to hand whenever you need them could free up valuable appointment slots if the results require no further follow-up, and proves useful to the patient when visiting other healthcare professionals.

9: The NHS benchmarking stand

NHS benchmarking is a subscription-based network whereby trusts can see anonymised data from peers to understand how they’re performing in comparison.

Speaking with the representatives on this stall, it was clear to see their vibrancy and enthusiasm for sharing best practice across the health and social care sector, for the benefit of all. As a results-driven digital consultancy, Orange Bus definitely shares the view that being able to see a high level view of performance against peers (and also how this is changing over time or with the implementation of new projects and initiatives) is incredibly important.

8: The NHS Improvement stand

NHS Improvement is a body which supports trusts to deliver consistent levels of high quality care, through transformed delivery and sustainable finances. Part of their programme of transformed delivery is, of course, looking at improvements which can be made to the delivery of patient care through the use of digital technology.

Speaking with Eilidh from NHS Improvement on this stand, she gave me a brilliant overview of the NHS’s plans to use new digital channels to meet patient demands - and even used a giant iPad, part of their stall’s exhibit (pictured) to talk me through their strategy.

7: Meeting with universities

At any conference on innovation, one of the most exciting groups of people to talk to are universities - the institutions investing in our future and creating the next generation of doctors, nurses, CCIOs and digital leads. The universities I spoke with at Expo16 - the University of Salford and University of Central Lancashire - were keeping an ear to the ground for the latest exciting innovations, initiatives and how their students could get involved with transforming UK healthcare.

They were not disappointed - with Jeremy Hunt’s announcement at Expo that a competition would be created between UK universities to house the NHS Digital Academy, representatives were buzzing with excitement, eagerly awaiting details of next steps.

6: The Camp Expo stand

Camp Expo offered delegates an astro-turfed greenery to escape from the bustle of the conference and project their ambitions for healthcare. Visiting this stand at the beginning of day 2, I was enthused to find a colourful ‘wall of dreams’ setting out plans for a re-imagined NHS: equality for everyone, encouraging accessibility, open and transparent communication.

My favourite part of the Camp Expo walls? The vision of ‘We can make co-design happen’: embracing changes, getting clinicians involved in service design, and digitising health records.

As a strong advocate of the GDS Digital by Default principles and methodology, I could definitely see echoes here of their user-centric design methods. Long may this ethos continue.

5: The Digital Zone

The Digital Zone (and I’ll include NHS Digital’s stand next door as under this umbrella) was a fun and interactive exhibition, championing digital at the very front of the arena space.

Over the two days I managed to have a go at the giant interactive digital screens, scrolling through information by waving my arms to see the next screens, followed by a preview of the NHS Beta over a coffee.

The NHS.UK Beta states that one of its main focuses is publishing digital service standards and practical guidance to help the NHS deliver quality and trusted digital services, and I look forward to learning more.

On the Thursday lunchtime I also took in a talk from Juliet Bauer, Director of Digital Experience at NHS England (pictured), albeit from the sidelines as her session was so popular. Juliet spoke on transforming digital health, stating “we have to allow other people to help us, so the NHS has to find a way to work with the best people out there at building the best apps, the best wearables, the best websites”. Building relationships with experts at the forefront of digital is clearly an important aspect of NHS England’s strategy for the immediate future.

4: Transforming the NHS talk (Future NHS stage)

This talk was given by Professor Darzi, Mustafa Suleyman (co-founder of Google DeepMind), and David Halpern from the Cabinet Office Behavioural Insights team.

Darzi began by explaining that patient care has three trends making it increasingly complex: an ageing population, patients with multiple ‘comorbidities’ and rising patient expectations of healthcare. He then introduced David Halpern, who talked about nudge theory in encouraging user change, and also Mustafa Suleyman, cofounder of Google DeepMind, an independently-run subsidiary of Google in the healthcare market.

Mustafa explained the business case behind DeepMind: “it’s crazy that health workers use outdated tech to save lives, and then go home and are able to play games with a beautiful UI on their smartphone. It’s also a large waste of productivity when a consultant needs to see a patient in person to monitor statistics, when this could be done remotely.”

With DeepMind, consultants can remotely monitor vital stats and manage ongoing care via an app. Patients have access to and can analyse their own data too, providing added dimensions of control for a patient administering their own care.

It felt a privilege to be in the audience for this talk, and to hear of tangible projects creating real change within global healthcare.

3: Partnerships in Innovation talk (Innovate stage)

Professor Tony Young, National Clinical Lead for Innovation at NHS England and himself a consultant surgeon, led a panel discussion with members of a brand new scheme launched in the NHS, the Clinical Entrepreneurs Programme.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of NHS England, opened this session by discussing the story of two young surgeons who wanted to set up an iPad business for surgical practice, but were told they couldn’t run a business and also be in the NHS - that these were incompatible. Subsequently the NHS and the UK lost these surgeons who moved to North America and became very successful entrepreneurs. This bothered the speaker, who believed we should not be driving innovation out of the NHS.

This system aims to keep ‘intrapreneurs’ in the NHS, and allows 100 NHS staff to keep their day job while having time set aside to dedicate to their ‘big idea’ - one third of which are digital.

Support for the Clinical Entrepreneurs programme was shown from all angles, from the entrepreneurs themselves, from private sector backers AstraZenica and also from the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN).

This is certainly an exciting initiative, and one which Orange Bus looks forward to exploring in further detail.

2: Getting to grips with the Global Digital Exemplars programme

I may have slightly cheated with this entry for second place in my top 10 of digital talks at Expo16. This is in fact three talks rolled into one; as they each followed on from each other in discussing the exciting announcement of the Global Digital Exemplars programme.

On Wednesday morning, Professor Bob Wachter delivered the findings and recommendations of the National Advisory Group on Health Information Technology in England’s report on the current state of the digital landscape within the NHS. This was followed on Wednesday afternoon by Jeremy Hunt announcing the subsequent plan of how those recommendations will be rolled out, and on Thursday morning Paul Rice, Head of Technology Strategy at NHS England, followed up with details of the planned implementation at the NHS England stand.

With such an exciting announcement being made, with a big impact for the UK digital industry as well as healthcare, I raced back to my hotel to write up the findings in a blog post we published last week.

1: NHS.UK’s user-centric design workshop

After some deliberation, I decided that the number one slot had to go to NHS.UK’s workshop on user-centric design. Led by Martin Storey, Senior User Researcher at the Department of Health, Alice Ainsworth, Head of Digital Strategy, Capability and Standards at the Department of Health and Emily Chaplin, Communications and Engagement Lead at NHS.UK, the team led us through their iterative process for designing digital information and services around user needs.

This workshop started with Martin (who formerly worked for GDS) asking “hands up everyone in the room who has heard of user centred design and agile development?”. Everyone’s hand went up. Fantastic, I thought, I’m among my own tribe here.

We were shown examples where real user needs were not taken into account - for example a lady who was not told she’s not allowed nail varnish during surgery as it interferes with the monitor placed on your finger (funnily enough, this exact situation happened to me when I had surgery last year!).

We were split into teams of three, and given a persona and situation in an envelope. We then had to discuss how technology could help them in that situation - help them receive a diagnosis, remember to take medicine, or find further information about a recent diagnosis.

Once we had our tech idea, we had to rapidly wireframe, iterating and adding detail as we went. At the end one person from each group swapped out and went to the neighbouring team to have their neighbour’s idea explained to them. I volunteered to swap out and met representatives from the Department of Health and NHS England, who talked me through their rapidly-sketched prototype.

Over the course of the workshop my #braintumourwarrior experience came up and, due to it striking a chord with the persona experiences in front of us, became a point for discussion. The team even invited me to an NHS ‘show and tell’ coming up soon, which I’m really excited about.

As both a patient user and a digital consultant, this workshop was a brilliant way to advocate a user-centric design process with a wider audience - a process which Orange Bus evangelises within the public sector as partners of HMRC and the Skills Funding Agency.

Now, what’s the date for next year..?

As well as covering digital innovation talks, Angela also attended the Expo as a patient representative for her blog, #braintumourwarrior. Read Angela’s coverage of the most exciting patient initiatives at Expo16 on her blog.**

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