What I learned at E-Health Insider Live

What do you get when you invite thousands of healthcare tech developers, systems vendors, information officers and interested clinicians to a vast conference hall on the outskirts of Birmingham? The E-Health Insider Live conference is now a big event, with presentations from the great and the good, the commercial and the public sector, and everything in between.

I spent a day at the event, gleaning news and ideas to take back to the office. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by just how much information is available at such events. Not being a techie myself, I found some presentations impenetrable with jargon. But there are always nuggets of gold. Here are some I picked up:

  • Regulation of medical apps is on the cards from NHS England. It’s likely to follow the same route as FDA regulation, but will not be at the same level as regulation of medical devices. There are already 150 patient-facing apps in the NHS England app library, which is likely to become part of NHS Choices mk 2.
  • Also on apps, specialist app store Our Mobile Health talked about their work to curate a library of apps for customers such as hospitals, where the hospital wishes to ensure their clinicians are only using reliable products. The company tests and reviews the apps to find a collection they can recommend.
  • NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information, Tim Kelsey, spoke about his vision for all NHS datasets to be open and transparent so that everyone, from charities to commercial companies, can make use of them. He referenced Patients Like Me as a group he admires. He said NHS Choices will be rebuilt on an open API so that the structure will be there for people to build communities and collaborative social movements on that platform.
  • Kingsley Manning, chair of the Health and Social Care Information Centre, said his priorities for the next 18 months were data security and quality, better national technology services and information to support better care – by which he meant a library of indicators of good quality care, and providing datasets to allow people to assess them.
  • Dave Coplin, Microsoft’s Chief Envisioning Officer, lived up to his amusing job title by challenging us all about why ‘work isn’t working’ and how we need to move away from the busywork of playing email ping-pong, to make technology work for us. I’m not sure whether he was in the room to hear a plea from a speaker on the Handi Apps stream that the NHS should ‘free itself from Windows’ and reliance on any one software provider…

One final thought regarding conferences. Why are they the way they are? We shut ourselves inside an aircraft hanger for a day, with no natural light, no fresh air, and expect people to sit and listen to others talk for 7 hours. Is it any wonder heads start to nod by the end of the day? How about a re-think of the big conference, making better use of technology? Interactivity, virtual attendance and some fresh thinking might mean we can all take away more than a handful of key points from a day trip to Birmingham.

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