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Learnings from NHS Innovation Expo 2017

Topics: Industry insights

They say the mark of a good conference is that it takes you a week to get back on track after following up with all the enquiries and new connections you make. That and coming home with a bag full of great merchandise. The NHS Innovation Expo was nothing short of stellar this year, with amazing speakers, curious and astute participants brought together with seamless organisation. We found this year’s conference to be invaluable and wanted to share a few things we learned with the world.

1.      NHS Innovation Accelerator fellows are really good at one-minute pitching

Tony Young - National Clinical Director for Innovation, chaired a session where NIA fellows showcased their companies – in a strictly enforced one-minute presentation format. Being a graduate of the Accelerator myself, I knew the training and guidance provided would put us in great stead for delivering our pitches and explaining the nuances of our companies. I was however blown away by the newer members of the Accelerator, who delivered word perfect pitches under rigorously enforced conditions.

2.      The NHS Youth Forum participants are smart

I’m proud to say that the DrDoctor stall, was busy throughout both days, and our team met some fantastic individuals from around the UK, but one common thread I heard from whoever was manning the stall was how smart, dedicated and inquisitive the NHS Youth Forum delegates were. I had the pleasure of catching up with two of them on the second day of the Expo, and have no doubt that they will be the backbone of our health system for years to come.

3.      People like bottles

They really, like bottles. As I mentioned earlier, one of the signs of a good conference is leaving with a bag full of merchandise. This year our aluminium bottles flew off the stand – we couldn’t put them out fast enough! We did have some sad faces come by looking for the coffee mugs we’ve had in the past, but are glad we could do our bit for the environment to reduce the number of plastic bottles people buy. Let me know if you missed out on our bottles this year and we will see what we can do about getting you one.

4.      ‘Patient-Centricity’ is at the centre of many people’s minds

‘Patient-centric’ was a term we heard mentioned by both speakers and audience alike in many different sessions throughout the Expo. It is clear that people want to know that NHS decisions are being based on the patient’s wants and needs, not just top-down implementation.  This was made especially clear by Andy Burnham, Mayor of Manchester, who spoke about how technology can allow for better improvements in ‘patient-centricity’ on the first day, saying that the proliferation of cutting-edge solutions through the NHS is helping us shift towards a more patient first model. Jeremy Hunt also pushed for the need for more patient’s involvement in their care – calling for every patient to be able to access their medical records, and appointment booking via an app (this was specifically for GPs, but no mention of secondary care yet).

5.      The NHS is Consolidating

We saw the NHSD and NHSE working hand in hand far better, together to offer a greater range of interoperability throughout. It feels to me like we're almost over the hump here, and proper programmatic (API) access to central services like ERS, ePrescribing and GPSoC are starting to make a real-world difference.

6.      Great growing companies

In my mind, the Innovator Zone was the most buzzing place at the Expo - we were surrounded by so many early-stage companies and startups supported by the AHSNs. We were especially taken by Echo – a free service to deliver medication to your door, and remind you when and how to take it. We were especially impressed by their paced approach to market and excellent explanation of the service they offer. Echo is certainly a company to watch closely in my mind.

Though we saw a lot of talk of AI at the Expo, I believe we are at its very early stages, with very limited practical examples at the moment through all the hype. This will undoubtedly change rapidly, and within 18 months there will be far more mature companies in the space, but to get there, they still have to crunch a lot of data and work closely with IG to get over some challenging hurdles.

I am of course just skimming the surface of an excellent and insightful 2 days, I’d be interested to hear other people’s biggest takeaways from the Expo was this year. If you didn’t manage to catch us there, please feel free to get in touch now, and we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have. Looking forward to seeing many of the same faces at events to come including Patient First, and EHI Live.