Last week around 400 digital health professionals headed to Leeds for two days of case studies, best practice sharing, networking and professional and intellectual challenge. The future of health care was discussed from various angles and the organisers had scheduled a great set of speakers to keep everyone interested and engaged.
The first day began with Nick Adkins, American healthcare entrepreneur turned kilt-wearing life coach. Nick founded the 'pinksocks' movement designed to inspire people from all walks of life to connect with one another by encouraging them to give out pairs of bright pink socks. He came armed with the message that everyone should take time to engage with and listen to people in a world increasingly monopolised by speed and digital sterility. His unique essence and industry view definitely set the tone for the event and showed that healthcare has definitely entered a new and exciting frontier.
As the day progressed one of the highlights for the team was the launch of the Shuri Network (www.shurinetwork.com and firstname.lastname@example.org). Founded by six brilliant women, their mission is to raise awareness about the under-representation of BME women within senior IT and digital roles in health. The organisational message was inspiring and it will be amazing to see what they can achieve in the future as they grow and develop.
The evening held an enjoyable and engaging awards dinner where Socitm Advisory had the honour of presenting the CIO of the Year Award. The calibre of all the nominees was extremely high and after fierce competition the award was presented to Mandy Griffin, CIO of the Health Informatics Service based in Leeds. Mandy is a strong role model for our Digital and ICT leaders and hopefully also for those who enter in the future. Only four years after moving into the NHS from the private sector (following a career with M&S) her successes demonstrate that through strong mentoring and the provision of greater opportunities the NHS has the ability to attract and develop incredible talent.
It was a truly wonderful evening, and anyone would have been warmed by the final lifetime contribution award. Such was the wide-ranging respect held for Charles Gutteridge that the awards dinner erupted into a standing ovation. Charles is the Chief Clinical Information Officer for Barts Health, he works with health care professionals to use health information technology to maximise quality of care. Charles has been involved in the industry for 46 years and has never given up on his dream of disease control and eradication through harnessing the power of data. He is a truly inspiring individual who demonstrates to us the change possible by using digital and IT within the public sector and health care.
Day two was opened by Professor Joe McDonald, SRO for the Great North Care Record. Joe delivered a passionate recollection of the journey of digital health over the last ten years. As he reflected on the past of digital health he passed the baton over to the next generation of digital health professionals and called upon them to guide the future of the industry. He was then followed by Matthew Gould, the new Chief Executive of NHSX, who presented a strong and stark appraisal of the likelihood of securing the funding demanded for full digital transformation. Two months into the role everyone is keen to see how he will make his new sector leadership position his own. It was amazing to have two individuals so clearly demonstrating where digital health began, the journey it has undertaken and where the industry is now.
The last of the keynote speakers for the event was Tom Riordan, the CEO of Leeds City Council. He had two key messages for the room. Firstly that ‘The left shift’ - moving care and prevention services closer to the home- was what society needed to invest in and corral resources around. Secondly, he believes that local government is the NHS's friend and can help in ways that the NHS had previously not thought possible, referencing the strong and growing relationship between LG and the Treasury despite years of austerity measures. An incredibly thought provoking message to end on and one that continues to resonate throughout the team.
Overall integrated care remains a key theme for Socitm Advisory and our long-standing heritage in local government will prove an asset as new place-based, citizen-centric care models come to the forefront. All in all, a very stimulating and inspiring 48 hours showcasing the talent and knowledge within the industry. The event further proved that we are at an exciting point within digital health and it will be amazing to see the pivotal role Socitm Advisory can play in helping to define and direct this as we move into the future.
We are incredibly proud to have been able to be a part of Digital Summer Schools 2019 and hope to become more involved in years to come.