All posts tagged Knowledge and Information

Seven degrees of connectivity (or less).

First published by the NDRC as part of the #HealthTech event in the summer of 2016.

Ireland is the most personally connected country in the world. Or at least I am starting to believe that from the evidence I have seen over the last 18 months. I have been told on so many occasions that what we have in Ireland is the first real example of a global village mentality and in particular for technologists. I have been involved in a number of different forums to support start-ups and big ideas for health technology in the last few months and really I do now believe in the concept of connectivity being one of Ireland’s biggest assets.

The Hollywood concept of “Six degrees of Kevin Bacon” seems to apply even more in the world of the health technology start up in Ireland. If you don’t know someone who knows someone now, you soon will do! The willingness to help, to get the idea off the ground and at least the ability to bring it into the healthcare system is there.

One of the most reinforcing moments of my 20 year career in health technology happened a couple of weekends ago at the launch of the NDRC Health Tech event. Eleven teams were formed on the Friday around some amazing ideas for how technology can improve the delivery of healthcare in Ireland. As well as the idea generators in the room there were a number of volunteers from across many different sectors there to help turn the ideas into a real proposal that can be taken forward to be considered by the health system. The level of knowledge and commitment in the room around a number of great ideas was simply huge. The possibilities for health range, from the ability to provide assistance for Parkinson sufferers to walk with confidence again to an app that allows a mental health patient to step into the centre of the care they are involved in, to a new way of processing lab results nearer the patient and they are just three of eleven amazing ideas. However the magic is as much to do with the people in the room as it is to do with the ideas. Seventy people in a ‘competition’ and yet every one of them rooting for each other, connected in a new way to deliver a support network for new technology based ideas to change the way in which health is delivered. Teams of people working hard to support each other over that first weekend regardless of background, basis of knowledge or years of experience, all these amazing people are now connected to each other in a new way.

Slowly but surely a revolution is happening! The social media response to the RTE programme ‘Keeping Ireland Alive’ has started to open up the concept that the Irish healthcare system is not the issue with the delivery of care to the people of Ireland. The Irish healthcare system is full of heroes and connections to be made to transform the way in which care can be delivered. Truly the system is one going through a digital revolution a change that is having an impact on so much of the way in which care is delivered. The second of the Keeping Ireland Alive programmes had a telling digital moment as a senior clinician opened the paper records of the patient in front of him and exclaimed, as usual I can’t read the notes. Realisation that Ireland is running its healthcare system in the same paper based way that it has for the last 30 years is giving a strong impetus to the digital health agenda within the Future of Health objectives, no bad thing for the great technology organisations of Ireland.

With the type of innovations and connections made by the start-ups at the NDRC Health Tech event the problem the clinician faces can be fixed, removing yet another issue from the delivery of healthcare in Ireland is the desire of so many committed people. The NDRC is just one of many environments now supporting Irish companies movement in the health technology arena; the Health Innovation Hub, Portershed in Galway, ARCH, Insight, Health XL and the HSE’s very own eHealth Connects programme are now all there to support organisations in finding the connection and turning the bright idea into reality.

All this human networked connectivity can really bring about a change to healthcare delivery if we can harness it in the right way. The rallying call for Ireland from here though is simply get involved and help build a better healthcare system.

Health Leadership (UK & Ireland, the coming together!)

In November and December I was lucky enough to spend time with the IT leadership of the UK and Ireland, I collated the responses to a series of questions for an interview that HIMSS would then publish in two parts, here is the whole thing to give you a feel for how close the concepts of cross country collaboration are really coming along.

Some of the blog is written in the third person, it just felt a little odd interviewing your self without doing that, I hope you don’t mind.

Digital leadership in health in 2017 will have two crucial elements to handle, how to keep the ‘ship’ stable in times of change and how to deliver innovation in large, public sector organisations. In November the UK and Irish leaders of healthcare technology were face to face at a number of events that had these traditional pillars as the themes. Whilst they all accepted these had been at the heart of their focus for a few years now they still observed that 2017 would see a still further push to get these right or potentially fail to deliver for health in the countries they are responsible for.

The events where these leaders came together were, the Irish Innovation Showcase where Will Smart provided a key note that caused a pause in the IT leadership as they stopped to understand if they had the strategy right; the HIMSS Executive Leadership Summit where Andrew Griffiths provided an opening comment that got the whole crowd energised; Richard Corbridge then provided an opening statement with George Crookes at the Scottish Annual Digital Health and Care Conference that entertained and delivered a key message on the future and then finally Sean Donaghy who opened the first Island of Ireland collaborative Eco-System.

During this period of time HIMSS caught up with each of these leaders to get their views on what 2017 holds for digital in health and what they thought of the statements being made by each other and how they could support each other into the new year.

We went first to Will Smart at the Innovation Showcase. Will, what do you believe is the key to innovation in healthcare in 2016?

“Strong collaboration between leaders, healthcare professionals and patients is of fundamental importance. We need to move away from a paternalistic view of healthcare to one which truly embraces engagement and co working. As well as fostering the trust that is vital to the data sharing innovations that put cutting edge insight in the hands of clinicians, collaboration has the potential to create a culture which encourages, accelerates and inspires technological excellence.

That is why, through our NHS Innovation Accelerator and Global Digital Exemplar initiatives, we are supporting the most technologically innovative people and acute trusts to help them connect with partners, make networks and accelerate their innovations. We want to enable these pioneers to inspire others by showing how information technology can deliver both improved patient outcomes and enhanced business effectiveness.

Our patient centred agenda, combined with this type of collaborative support and leadership gives us a once in a lifetime chance to innovatively set technology to work for a system that’s focused on patients and led by clinicians.”

The concept of no longer being able to stand still have become key to the delivery of healthcare, will digital innovation be the route to avoiding this do you think?

“Absolutely. The NHS is under real pressure. Not only is the occurrence of expensive to treat conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and mental illness rising rapidly but we are all living longer and therefore need more care over the course of lives than ever before. So, to continue to deliver great care we must make our service as efficient as possible.

Innovation in information and technology is a critical part of almost all Sustainability and Transformation plans because it has immense potential ensure efficiency while making dramatic improvements to health and care provision, quality and outcomes.

Our planned new digital products and services will make health and care more accessible, more convenient and more effective for patients. As a result, patients will have more power to make better, more informed choices about their care which will also ultimately be more cost effective. Insight we can gain through shared information will also help us improve efficiency by ensuring that the right kind of care and treatment is given at the right time, from the start.

Standing still is not an option for the health and care system. Information and technology innovation has huge potential to help us provide more, and higher quality, care from the resources available to us at a time of increasing demand and this is an opportunity we must seize.”

Next to give us his views was Richard Corbridge from Ireland, Richard, this was Ireland’s first innovation week, what prompted Ireland to put such an event on? “First and foremost it was to bring the idea of Digital Health into the eye of the public. We have had over 3,200 individuals booked into the events in one week, all our events have been free and have garnered a significant level of interest from the people of Ireland. If the patient, the tax payer, wants to see digital in their health system to make it safer and more efficient then maybe an understanding of the level of investment that can be made can be got to. Secondly though the week of events has created a ‘platform’ to enable innovation in the Irish healthcare space to really begin to happen, and perhaps more importantly be supported, Ireland has an engaged clinical team, it is now starting to make the connections between clinicians and the technology leaders of the country.”

What do you see the blocker to innovation in healthcare being? “In Ireland it can be sheer resources, funding and time being the hardest to come by. More generally in healthcare I would say it is the concept of building the jumbo jet as it flies down the runway, as digital leaders we have to keep so many moving parts on the go, the temptation is to focus on these and we can’t, we have to keep an eye on the future. There is a story of a bridge built in Honduras I have been using in presentations recently, an amazing bridge, started in 1989, by the time it had finished due to environmental changes the river it was spanning had moved. We have to be mindful of this happening to our plans and enable innovation and new technologies to influence them.” We then caught up with Andrew from Wales at the HIMSS ELS; you spoke of ‘not checking the Daffodils too often’ which went down well as an analogy, can you explain what you meant? “First to explain the analogy, aside from playing to the Welsh stereotypes, if you keep digging up a plant in the garden because it’s not growing, the very act of checking everyday ensures the plant never grows. There can be a tendency in health IT to give up too quickly and declare the project a failure, spending all our energies on checking and explaining, when what’s needed are steady nerves, encouragement and the will to succeed.The most troublesome periods in any implementation can be the early days, people are not used to the system, support can take longer as training becomes practical knowledge and the IT hasn’t settled down. Inevitably the first period is also when most changes are happening and every change is an opportunity for a problem. Admittedly there are times when the plant is a weed and needs to be killed off quickly but in my experience more often it’s a plant that needs nurturing. If we “fail fast” at every perceived problem we might never achieve anything, some of the great achievements have needed great perseverance.” As digital leaders what do you think the key strategy for leading in these times of most unpredictable change can be? “I’m not sure there’s a simple answer to this and if there is, please someone tell me. However my thoughts for what they’re worth are that: we need to be clear about what we are trying to achieve and recognise that in achieving our goals “digital” is not an end in itself but the means to something greater.

We need to keep that vision in our heads and keep doing things that gradually get us there. That will inevitably mean spotting opportunities that occur and changing the plans so that we can take the opportunity. It would be great to be able to stop the world, design it, then start again but the reality is that we have to make running repairs that are actually leading to a complete rebuild. We need to be developing great people who know the right things to do because they share the vision. Finally, somehow we need to summonses the courage to create certainty for others so that they, unburdened, can confidently get on with the doing.”

George was the next of the group we were able to speak to, the idea of the UK and Irish digital healthcare leaders being able to share more seems new, what do you think can happen if this is enabled?

“The days when we not only had to own the problem but also own the solution are over. It was wasteful in terms of time and money and we do not have the luxury of either! The benefits of sharing thoughts and ideas as well as good practices, lessons learned and solutions is mutually beneficial. The challenges our health and care systems face are the same, the largest part of any technology supported solution is generic. So, it is not rocket science to suggest that collaboration is the correct path to follow.”

The annual digital health and care conference in Scotland had a great selection of speakers, Richard spoke about different ways to engage stakeholders, how do you see that influencing the way we deliver digital health in 2017?

“The need to involve stakeholders from all communities of interest is fundamental to securing sustainable and scalable solutions to the wicked problems we face. The perceived effort it takes to engage the public can be reduced and the outcomes magnified by using innovative methods to support the process. The need to use multiple digital channels for engagement is going to become the norm going forward and will transform how we plan, develop and deliver services.”

The ability for countries to come together is highlighted through these leaders willingness to share, perhaps no more so will this make an immediate patient difference than between the Northern Ireland healthcare system and the healthcare delivery of the Republic of Ireland. Sean Donoghue opened the first whole Ireland Eco-System meeting in this same week with a rallying cry for collaboration on the delivery of standards and the ability to share key lessons learnt.

Sean, seeing the start of an Irish cross country collaboration at the Eco-System this week, do you see this model evolving across the EU?

“Inevitably it will, the key issue is whether it is driven forward by public and private health systems, or whether systems and leaders have to be pulled reluctantly to the table. Collaboration across systems is a key support to better sharing of citizen information and best digital care practice in to support better health and wellbeing across the EU. 

We have that need right now, with a large land border that citizens of this island cross as part of their daily lives, including for health and social care. Too much of the approach up until now has had the feel of ‘make do and mend’, and that will not support our citizens to get the best from their own efforts and from health & social care resources. We have fantastic potential to build a shared digital fabric that can remove some of the worst impact of a land border on the experience of our citizens, and we’re determined to realise that potential. That means taking action now on shared citizen identification, and on shared standards.”

All of the leaders we have spoken to in the last week place the patient and clinician at the centre of the digital revolution, how does the Eco-System meeting do this and how do you ensure this is maintained beyond this initial coming together?

“The driver for sharing is the needs of citizens; that is very well recognised by health & social care staff, who voice their frustration at the barriers to communication, and thus to better care.

The Ecosystem meeting provides a place to check in, to celebrate successes, to remind us of what remains to be done, and to provide a public space for health and care systems and those who supply digital solutions to set out the agenda for further work. It is a visible and important signal of our intent to work together.

Sustaining this approach requires commitment from leaders, and of course, visible progress. The commitment is there, and the early signs of progress are encouraging. I am confident there is much more to come to inspire collaboration as the default way of working.”

In two weeks these five digital leaders have moved forward an agenda of collaboration, sharing and evolution in healthcare perhaps more than the UK and Ireland has seen in the last five years. The spirit of working together in times of change would often be described as the spirit of England, but, this collaboration shows that in digital health it has become a spirit of the five nations!

All of the leaders commented on the amount of change in 2016 being unprecedented, however they all spoke of ways in which they had built a strategy to cope, maybe what change will do is foster a degree of collaboration that the global healthcare system has not seen before. We asked a final question of the two leaders from the island of Ireland, what was their own predication for 2017 in digital health; the Republic of Ireland’s CIO said, ‘We will see the ability to deliver complicated care information digitally to the patients of Ireland and allow patients the ability to add information to their care record in such a way as to enable it to be useful to clinical staff.’

Sean’s final comment perhaps is a shining example of how this group are starting to think when it comes to the transformation of healthcare; “The most exciting development is the sharing of information with citizens, and building shared workflow to provide more flexible, tailored care. I expect tangible progress with all of my colleagues on this in 2017.”

Richard Corbridge finished off a number of the presentations over this period of time with what is becoming almost a trademark phrase of his, Imagine A World, the conversations with these five digital leaders allow us to imagine a world where the much promised future can actually become a thing of reality, where integrated care can be delivered through a digital platform and patients will feel that the care they receive is within their own context, a huge leap forward for how these countries enable innovation in the health care system.

Do eHealth agendas ‘need’ politics…

First published in HIMSS UK Journal in September of 2016.

 

The delivery of health is driven by politics by necessity. No matter where in the world you are the delivery of health and wellbeing to a population is an election winning and losing manifesto. We understand that the delivery of digital health could be as disruptive in its application as any other business arena globally and yet, maybe because of these intrinsic political links, eHealth has not been able to ‘just do it’ at the pace of say the tourism agenda or even the ever increasing connected cities agendas.

The Bob Wachter report, ‘Making IT work in Health’, was published in the UK in early September. Politics allegedly, is said to have even delayed its publication, an essential report that the NHS needed, a report that global health systems considering how to make the giant digital leap needed.

Why does health have to work to a political agenda and time line? As IT professionals it is frustrating. Innovation needs to be allowed to happen in an agile manner. In Ireland we are deploying solutions that are over 10 years old, we continue to deploy them because they have been backed politically but the digital landscape has moved on three generations since the inception of some of these solutions, and to be absolutely fair the solution, whilst ten years old, still makes the beneficial difference the healthcare system originally wanted to gain.

I tell a story when presenting at the moment, a second hand, legitimately stolen story I have to admit. In 1969, the ‘people’ of Hong Kong decided that they needed to create a business district. They came together and placed a mandate to develop the business district regardless of political persuasion, economic climate or technology change. Today the business district of Hong Kong is one of the most thriving globally. It is as shining example of what innovation, connected people and a clear, unambiguous and a-political mandate can achieve.

I am proud to be working in Ireland on the health care of a nation. Earlier this year our minister for health proposed that Ireland needed to move away from annual planning, annual stretch targets and annual budgets. He asked for a mandate to create a cross party commissioned group that would consider the future health of Ireland and report back to the people of Ireland what the options, and indeed solutions would be. How exciting. At last the health system of Ireland could have a plan that is longer than some repeat prescriptions!

By allowing health to be disruptive and creative, then it can consider how to catch up with other international business from a digital innovation point of view. We often ‘roll out’ the banking analogy. Citizens are happy to use mobile banking by and large, the expectation to get a real life letter from the bank has almost gone away and the bank manager is no longer recognisable on the high street as a person of status. Banking changed quickly, maybe because technology was enabled to be disruptive, not just because of the investment but because of the change in attitude and even the aptitude of the customers themselves.

Will any country ever be brave and allow a system to just do it. If clinicians and patients are engaged and want ‘IT’ then why not?

The suggestion is definitely not to do this without governance or engagement but to take away the political might, to empower the system, which is far more intelligently capable in this arena than the political system after all, to make the difference happen in clinical and technology settings! Attempts have been made in many jurisdictions to empower the public. The NHS tried the Healthspace experiment in the late 1990s and Estonia is mentioned in every EU eHealth meeting as a rising star of patient empowerment through access to information. The Danish health system is as close as it gets to a ‘Block Chain’ like health information system in 2016, where the patient truly has a level of control over the information about them. If we can make this happen then we should be able to find a way to enable the eHealth orchestration to step out from the political agenda somehow.

There is an additional moment of caution here though, which needs to be learnt and applied. The suggestion we make here is, yes to enable the politicians to take a step away and allow the agenda to deliver against a defined and agreed benefit set, it is not, and I can’t stress this enough, an ask to bring in a large group of people who do not know how health works and ask them to deliver large complex digital change agendas to health. Health is not just another business ready for change it is unique and that feared and fabled word, ‘special’!

Under the auspices of the then prime minister Tony Blair, health in the UK was labelled as a business that was ready to made like ‘Easy Jet’. Almost weekly a politician globally will reference the need to ‘Uber-ise’ the health system. I wish we could simply do that but health is huge, interlinked, has powerful and learned users that need to be taken on this journey of change. Uber-ing health would cause more of a fall out than the go-live of Uber in any city that has been globally seen so far.

Relationships with other government departments, wider politicians, parties and vendors obviously will need to continue to grow, and often politics will need to have a part to play in these burgeoning relationships. Perhaps this is the area where our digital agenda could benefit more from a political involvement. Whether it’s Mark Britnel from KPMG, David Beloff from Deloitte, Neil Jordan from Microsoft, Kaveh Safavi from Accenture or Robert Wah from CSC, Ireland has access to a wealth of advice and guidance from partners and prospective partners second to none globally. The knowledge in years alone from just the names above is so impressive, and yet there seems to be a fear from the political and civil service system to engage with these brains, which is a shame.  Partnerships with the these organisations are already in place, and of course each of them is hoping to get a larger bite of the Irish ‘cherry’, but whilst this is their end goal they have been very willing to share, to help us learn lessons and apply new ways of working and thinking. Ireland partnering with this kind of intelligence at all sorts of levels is exactly how it will implement an eHealth agenda and get it right first time.

So, if we persuade the politicians of the world to work with us to set a longitudinal ambition for eHealth, if we can persuade the same politicians to help each eHealth team agree the governance, the way in which they can be involved and the parameters and limitations of their involvement then, can we simply get on with it? Against an informed and educated back drop I really do think we can.

The avoidance of vendor led grey IT would be an area to watch. If we take away the political detailed mandate there is a risk that vendors could become a great deal more powerful in local micro-systems. National integration can be achieved without political ownership, through true engagement of clinicians and patients a final location for digital health can be agreed and reached. It can be agreed without clinicians becoming programmers as well I think. It’s entirely admirable the engagement that many other jurisdictions now have with clinicians. Initiatives like Code for Health and more widely acceptable open source solutions are great where clinicians want to get his involved but are not a prerequisite to clinical engagement or to eHealth being able to move away from short term political direction.

I do need to bring this back to Ireland though. As has been reported in the media, Ireland has an EHR business case it now believes in. The health system itself has approved it as a business case, clinicians, patients and the leadership of the system has made it clear that the 10 year direction in this business case is the right way for Ireland. The issue now though is down to the affordability, and that will always be a political prioritisation piece. A public health system such as Ireland’s can’t ask patients to pay for the IT it uses as a direct cost, although we know that the cost of an EHR in Ireland would be seventeen euro a year per patient. And that’s where the political elements has to remain, they have to be the pay master and therefore they have to be able to take credit and risk for delivery.

If Ireland can agree the 10 year journey, if Ireland can continue to deliver the digital fabric it is doing, with the simple support of an engaged minister’s office and political team then we truly could be the first country in the world to do this effectively in a timely fashion and with the patient at the centre.

A great result is coming our way, and this will be down to the efforts of the full system of support, civil servants, public servants, ministers, clinicians, patients and vendors – a true partnership as a facilitator for success.

CIO as a conductor…

First published in CIO Magazine in August 2016. A collaboration with Elaine Naughton in the  writing and development of this idea, a huge thanks to Elaine for this.

In the excellent Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, he describes a discussion between Jobs and Steve Wozniak where Jobs is explaining to Woz that the role he plays in Apple is that of an orchestra’s conductor, here to get the best out of the team, to ensure that they play in harmony and deliver to the listener the most inventive and yet classically rich vision of the original design. This conversation is said to have taken place after a strong ‘debate’ just before the launch of the iMac itself, Woz described by Isaacson had just exclaimed to Jobs that he was neither designer nor engineer and therefore did not really warrant or justify the recognition he was getting as the ‘re-saviour’ of Apple.

Is the creativity of the conductor the real line to success in IT leadership? After all the ‘band plays on’, or at least tries to, whether there is a conductor or not. Even as early as 1998 Jobs was describing, I think, what the modern CIO now needs to be, although maybe we now need an evolved model from conductor to DJ or rock and roll front man.

Why does the analogy and the model need to evolve? Well, in times gone by, the IT leader would have sought out the best in class people he needed. Much like creating an orchestra of around 30 talented artists, the Leader had to be the best that the orchestra could afford and then the conductor had to make them fit into the team, not always an easy job. The ‘prima donna’ persona of the highest calibre technologists is not always easy to integrate into a high-performing team after all. This then, perhaps, is where the evolved model comes in.

The leader of a rock band enables the band to “jam” develops a structure and order to remain in time, and chooses a rift as well as creating a tune as they play. Maybe this roll can be best described as the start-up innovator of the music scene. A band always needs a front man – someone with a vision for the sound they want to achieve and the charisma and charm to wow an audience, the band may play on if the front man leaves, but rarely as successfully; what would U2 be without Bono? or the Rolling Stones without Jagger? Queen without Freddie? Perhaps the best real world example of the rock star digital leader is Larry Ellison of Oracle, truly a front man if ever there was one to be seen in digital leadership. The owner, founder, creator and beating heart of the Oracle empire, whilst no longer leader in name still very much the charismatic front man of the brand and indeed, band!

An orchestra, on the other hand, follows a very strict plan and each of the upwards of 30 members (over 50 for a symphonic orchestra) knows exactly what they need to play and when, whether it is solo or synchronised with their team (by virtue of the score). Only the conductor knows the full score and reads all lines simultaneously, knowing who to call on and who to bring in exactly when they are needed for the orchestra to continue playing in harmony and in time, and for soloists to have their moment to shine. A digital leader in the style of the conductor does just this. The danger here though, is if only they know the full picture, keeping everyone focussed takes a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm. Many public sector digital leaders are of this style (often by necessity) as the full picture is in reality always being altered and reconfigured a small amount by the political leaders and paymasters.

The conductor’s role is an art form and a talent, while being a very technical job. Take the conductor from this and time signatures slip, the musicians become discordant and eventually chaos ensues. Just as with Jobs and his temporary departure from Apple, as conductor of that orchestra he was never truly replaced and therefore for a time the music was not what the audience needed to hear. The creativity, in the sense of innovation of the music, belongs to the composer rather than the orchestra or conductor; with this in mind maybe we need to see the digital leader as composer and conductor more often!

A DJ, unlike the conductor or rock band front man, can take the best work of a much wider variety of stars, mould them together until they find the right mix and then play it for the audience. The DJ doesn’t have to integrate the full character of the artist just that moment of excellence where the beat fits or as the very wonderful NetFlix original puts it, ‘When the Get Down arrives’! A modern successful digital leader then is going to be a DJ! If we consider the ‘gig economy’ to be the future in digital then this kind of character and behaviour is likely to become even more prevalent when building successful teams. The magpie-type ability to bring all the best bits together for one moment of excellence that then can be repeated.

We believe the skills of a DJ are also key traits of a transformational leader: someone who motivates and energises their employees to get behind a transformation strategy, creates something that has been written about many times before, the creation of a fan base if you will!

The styles of these three analogies allow us to consider the nature of digital leadership. There is a mix of two key styles here, one is transactional the other transformational. The conductor is transactional, planning, organising and controlling. The DJ is transformational challenging and changing organisational culture, coaching and developing people, creating a climate of trust, establishing a long-term vision. The front man perhaps mixes both styles dependent on the need of the audience or band members, an ambidextrous style that is agile and responsive as startups require to be.

The analogy can continue in a number of ways beyond just the parts of the mix. A DJ brings with them the theme and the end point they are trying to get to, much like a high performing digital leader needs to, they start with the end in mind. Also, the DJ needs to be aware of the change in trends, evaluate them and consider how to adopt them into their fabric, so much learning of how this is done from both professions; I would love a temporary job swap!

The Jobs autobiography also describes the moment that Woz and Jobs first met from Woz’s point of view, “We first met in 1971 during my college years, while he was in high school. A friend said, ‘you should meet Steve Jobs, because he likes electronics and he also plays pranks,’ so he introduced us”

Jobs and Woz learnt they had so much in common, and yet were so different. The wonderful “Small Data” book by Martin Lindstrom references a Harvard Business Review article by de Swaan Arons, van den Driest and Weed called “The Ultimate Marketing Machine”. The article suggested that there are three types of people needed to make a marketing company successful, they are:

Think people – Who focus on data and analytics

Do people – Who have responsibility for content, design and production development

Feel people – Who are all about consumer engagement and interaction

I wonder if the modern digital organisation can apply this exact same logic as has been done here for the marketing team. The types of people the IT leader needs to bring together are defined less by their technology specialty and more by the person type they act when they are in a delivery focused team. Back to Jobs and the Apple empire, the success of the original swathe of ‘i’ products has always been put down to two elements, one, Jobs own meticulous eye for detail and two, the design standards of the team under Sir Jonathan Ive. If we overlay the commentary from the article in the Harvard Business Review referenced above and the conclusions that Lindstrom himself makes on this article we start to see that the way this team has been successful is by ‘minding the small things’ by being a team that is led by a digital orchestrator but exists as a team that can deliver empathy together, to the benefit that is trying to be attained.

A modern, successful leader needs to be a strategist, a “front-man (or woman)” AND be able to conduct a complex set of teams in a harmonious way – or at least empower capable section leaders (upper strings, lower strings, woodwind, brass, percussion) to do so on his or her behalf.

The theories of Lindstrom in Small Data will blow your mind, you regularly turn a page and laugh at the conclusion he has made and how it applies so completely not just to modern marketing ways of working but to how the right digital function needs to deliver. Whether as leaders we are badged as CIOs, CDOs, Conductors or DJs we don’t care, we just want to be able to make IT work.

 

 

 

…… as a post script we really do care! Two IT leaders were involved in the creation of this article, one of us wishes they had taken the path of enlightenment and become the superstar DJ of their dreams the other is progressing from playing second fiddle in a growing orchestra to becoming a conductor and leader of a great band.

 

Guest Blog – Rocking the Future Health Summit

Thursday 25th of May 2016, The eHealth Festival rocked the stage at the Future Health Summit in City West. No festival would be complete without some audio visual fireworks and with this in mind, we opened with a powerful music video painstakingly produced by Elaine Naughton

The video, which wouldn’t have been out of place at the MTV awards, showcased different countries where music legends such as Bowie and The Beatles and neatly segwayed to all the countries where eHealth Legends came from. These countries included Estonia, Botswana, UK, Denmark, Spain, Australia and I have an honorable mention to my own Northern Ireland.  The scene was set for the day: High energy and involvement would be the recipe for a succesfull day. Twitter handles were provided so anyone could tweet the speakers and ask questions using the hashtag: #eHealthFestival. Notably, we were trending in Ireland within the hour.

The speakers for the day embraced the festival theme and played the part of rockstars by choosing their own song to enter onto the stage. Musical references were dotted throughout the presentations some of our Rockstars-for-the-day even dressed up in festival gear to present.

First up to speak was Tony Shannon and Andy Williams from Answer Consulting. They spoke in detail about the critical state of health around the world and how effective sharing of information can mean better care for the patient. Andy spoke about how transformation is needed in digital health and it is his belief that a huge transformation will happen in 5 years or less. He spoke about the importance of open source and the growth in demand witnessed in just the last year alone.  Richard Corbridge reiterated their thoughts and argued that  health spend is actually an investment for the future rather than just a short term budget item.

The next rock star on the bill was Andy Kinnear. Andy gave great insights from his learning in the digital transformation journey in Bristol. The countless benefits they are reaping now include the amazing research opportunities that become available through a shared network. When I asked Andy about how to create a culture that encourages innovation, he replied that“ You need to create a spirit where loyalty is with the people you serve  – the public not the organisation. You should reinforce this mind-set that all you do is for the patients.” It is heartening for me to see that this is exactly what eHealth Ireland are doing by putting their patient: at the centre.

Naomi Fein from Think Visual took to her new found rock star status like a duck to water as she ran up and down the stage interacting with the audience. I have had the pleasure of working with Naomi on a few projects and she is truly inspirational. Naomi spoke to us about leveraging empathy to create clarity. She took everyone through an interactive process ensuring that any plans that we make are truly impactful. The message must be “memorable, actionable, and shareable”.  To ensure this we need to start this (planning) process before we communicate by asking –

  • Why do you want to communicate something?
  • Who are you communicating to?
  • how do you do this?

If we can do this with empathy for our audience it can give us fresh insights, new language and clearer priorities. Naomi’s fiinal piece of advice was: Before communicating, it is imperative to separate between what is true but useless, and what is relevant.  This last point was particularly poignant because I feel that often times, we ourselves are overawed with too much information.

Joanna Smith, CIO of Royal Brompton Trust was next up and she set the scene by entering to The David Bowie number “Changes”. She spoke about her experiences within digital transformation in health. She had a lack of engagement at the beginning of her journey as they had no strategy or plan. Joanna used the analogy of growing a garden and how they had to strip everything away, draw up a plan and get the basics right before they could change their system. The now familiar theme of the patient being at the centre was spoken about again and how important it is to have easily accessible and user friendly technology.  Joanna also argued that patients should be widely informed as they are interested in these technological advancements. Joanna echoed the importance of building relationships: a common theme from all the speakers and how she felt that one of the biggest challenges is managing change and trust. She gave some great advice on picking your battles, knowing when to give up and knowing when to push a head. In my own experience, this sound advice could apply to many things in life, including raising children.

Julie Bellew and Brian Canavan from the HSE were late additions to the bill after the successful launch of #eHealthMoments.  I have had the pleasure of working with this team to develop this idea. It is based on the premise that internal communication is central to how an organisation is run. Up to 70% of Organisational change fails and one of the more commonly cited  reasons for this failure is poor communication. This internal communication is truly engagement from within and was developed when both these members of staff were inspired at an All Staff Day in March. The concept is based on “Hello My Name is” created by Kate Grainger. Each member of staff can make a short video clip about who they are and what they do. These clips are uploaded to a private forum created for these staff. Previously there was no real link between the staff as they are traditionally dispersed throughout the country and rarely get to meet. This provides everyone the chance to introduce themselves, put a face to the name and get to know a little bit more about each other. Julie and Brian want to change people’s opinion of the HSE and want to make it fun as they do it. I was sitting beside a few of the speakers at the time of this presentation and they loved it. They took pictures and said it was an initiative they were going to bring back to their own organisations and was so simple but extremely effective.

After lunch Richard Gibson, research director at Gartner spoke about personalisation with healthcare and the importance of patient engagement. He explained how simple technologies like websites can help engage by providing information and portals connecting patients with their information. Richard spoke of many cool technologies that provide great advantages to the user such as fitness trackers, sleep wristbands, devices that keep track of your habits and home diagnostic stations: All technologies that are revolutionising how we live our lives.

We had the lovely Amanda Neylon  up next, who danced onto the stage with the song “What a Feeling” from Flash Dance. Amanda was in charge of the digital transformation of Macmillan Cancer Care support. She told an inspirational story about her journey there.  The purpose of the organisations was to support people and help them take control of their situation. To do this they took a huge amount of paper information and made 50% of it available through digital services. Social Media put digital at the heart of the organisation. She echoed Naomi by stressing that “you must understand your audience” and through this understanding they segmented their audience through behaviours rather than demographically.  Amanda also spoke about the importance of collaboration, iteration and evaluation through all the different stages. Her final word was to be brave and allow people the opportunity to grow through experimenting with what works and what doesn’t.  If things don’t work the first time around, simply move forward and try something new.

Clare Sanderson (@IGcom) from IG Solutions was our final presenter and was representing the security and governance side of the festival. She also spoke around the importance of engaging with the public early and informing them on each of the stages you are going through. There is great opportunity to learn from other people’s mistakes by being up front with patients about where their information is going.  Research conducted by The Wellcome Trust found that people generally didn’t know where their information is going. Clare spoke about a really interesting concept called Citizen Juries. During this process people hear case studies around the use of data by health care professionals. This process proved that the more information a patient has around the digital transformation, the more positive they are about it. Clare also pointed out an extremely important issue: that there should be explicit consent and the right to object. I asked Clare about the best ways to do this and she gave some interesting ideas such as having the issue as a story plot on popular TV shows. Maybe we could ask Richard’s agent to arrange a cameo on Fair City.

The finale of the show was a panel discussion with the A&R personnel namely vendors – Cerner, CSC, IMS Maxims and HCI. Richard asked the panelists to sell to the audience on why their company should be the one to push forward this transformation in eHealth. Many of them touched on the fact that Ireland could be built as a centre of eHealth excellence and the importance of the integration off different systems.  They echoed the importance of being engaged with patients early and ensuring that they go through the decisions with you, putting healthcare back into their hands and also the belief that data sharing is a common sense approach.

Richard rounded up the day with the reiteration that community is an area often forgotten yet it is crucial to the development of eHealth. He spoke about delivering everyone in the HSE a digital identity and how the HSE is opening up to innovation through eHealth Connect  and The Quality Innovation Corridor (QIC). This was a very positive end to an extremely positive day. I spoke to a number of people after the event and they were delighted with the festival there was great energy, enthusiasm and optimism around the future of eHealth in Ireland. It really is amazing to have been part of this day and I want to say a big thank to Richard for giving me the opportunity me to co-host the event with him. I look forward to seeing how the ehealth transformation continues to evolve in the near future.

For more information on what is happening in eHealth in Ireland go to www.eHealthIreland.ie

SPEACIL THANKS to Blathnaid Cluskey who is interning at the HSE she is a Communications Student at DCU. She has a strong passion for media and using it to connect with different audiences and helped ensure that it was possible to create this review of the day.

A festival of eHealth!

A year ago we were invited to be involved in the Future Health summit for the first time. We built a house as the theme for the event, from blue print to decoration eHealth experts from across the EU used the story of creating a new build as an analogy to describe how eHealth Ireland could build on the foundations it was putting in place to create an eHealth system that could deliver a digital fabric for health in Ireland.

A year later and we have a different theme this year. The eHealth Festival has been pulled together, imagine the process of moving from foundations to a woven digital fabric throughout the country and the complexity of doing this, we have landed on an analogy for this too, putting on the mega festivals across the world, Coachella, Glastonbury and Electric Picnic. Surely a task with a long term view, a success criteria that includes immediate success and bringing joy to millions of people. The team are working hard to put on the festival all day on Thursday.

The eHealth Festival is a truly global affair, taking lessons and experiences of digital health from across the globe and applying them to the plans for Ireland. The first stages will be to consider what it takes to find the right festival site and theme, applied to the delivery of eHealth this section will focus very much on how to set the vision for the future as thoroughly as possible. A number of key speakers with NHS experiences will provide us insight into how engagement was gained at a plethora of sites with very different focuses ranging from a wide ocal geography coming together to adopt a standards based approach to the adoption of an open source model across a major cities record sharing approach and on to a major London hospitals insistence to get it right and not ‘simply’ follow the model brought to bear before.

Every guest speaker has been set a number of music festival themed challenges over the day too, ranging from the slightly different event photograph to a whole series of theme songs being picked; some of the music could get loud! Picking the theme songs has been an important part for each of the presentations as it will reflect the theme of where the presentation goes, so listen out for that.

In keeping with the way eHealth Ireland has evolved over the last year there will be some focus on the way we engage on technology in health as well. One of our partners Think Visual will be able to provide a different insight into how to engage clinicians and patients in a different way, using pictures and visuals to create a journey for them to join us on. This promises to be an exciting look into the art of the possible in this area.

Our focus has been on health care and a somewhat traditional version of health care over the last twelve months, the ability to deliver a new paradigm of research capacity with digital health must not be forgotten, nor must the citizen choice in how this occurs. With this in mind we have a speaker with a huge amount of experience making a health charity digitally capable, the lessons we can take from this I am sure will set the agenda for us in this space.

As with last year we have tried hard with the theme and the brieif to speakers to keep the ‘sales pitch’ presentations away, at the eHealth Festival it would be like the Darkness reforming! But, we need to create relationships with the vendor community over the next year that is a for sure! So in keeping with the festival theme the vendor community will be putting on the record label A&R man guise and trying to encourage us to understand why their label is the one of choice, why they are the Factory Records of the 1990s and not the SAW of the 1980s.

To round off the day we have a speaker by very popular demand, an expert in information governance, information security and getting the handling of data right. Asking a lady from Liverpool to speak on the theme of securing a festival is always going to be a little dangerous so expect some fun to round the day off.

As with any great festival there will be a few secret unannounced shows too by way of a couple of announcements that should set a tone that is exciting for the next twelve months, initiatives with internal and external focuses.

All that really will remain to say is… Put Your Hands Up For Detroit – All will be revealed!

 

Guest Blog – It’s time staff go front of screen on social media.

It’s better for everyone – the brand, the customer and your organization.

I attended the biggest social media marketing conference in San Diego recently and its clear the tempo and direction of social media is changing. If you thought the digital age had been and gone, well you are gravely mistaken.

“This is the fastest change I’ve seen in social media in eight years.”

Michael Stelzner, Founder of Social Media Examiner and Social Media Marketing World and author of Launch

Social media is here to stay. Let’s establish that fact first. But more than that it is growing in prominence, relevance and even necessity for many organisations – public and private, for profit and not-for-profit.

Social media is not just for kids, for egotistical bloggers or for celebrities or big brands. It’s for everyone and in my own mind especially for public sector organisations. I believe social media is a fundamental way in which we communicate and is relevant to all industry sectors.

In the past year I’ve introduced social media strategies into policing, religious and educational organisations – none of which are interested in making profit. The core objective for each was to enhance their existing work and to align with their business goals through their channels of communication. Let me give you an example when I worked with the policing organisation they expressed the need to communicate with all their stakeholders on urgent messages and in real-time social media provided them with the perfect channel. Another example is educational organisations who wanted to appeal to prospective students by showcasing the experience of attending their college. They knew their target market and that social media is where they could have conversations with them.

There is no place for excuses in pursuing a social media strategy.

“You don’t have a choice of whether to do social; it’s a case of how well you do it.”

Erik Qualman, Social Media award-winning author and strategist

I recently attended a doctor’s appointment and was pleasantly surprised to find out that he was on Twitter and an avid an enthusiastic user of it. Following my consultation I followed him and in actual fact it’s been one of the most useful follows for me in recent months.

During my consultation he was describing my ailment and proposed treatment, based on current research and the results of studies. Now if you are like me, when I’m in a medical appointment, much of it can go over my head and once outside the door I’ve forgotten most of what my doctor has said.

I was anxious to get to the root of my problem and even more anxious to get a speedy remedy.

Later that night I went on Twitter and searched his Twitter history only to find the source of the research he had mentioned during my consultation, the stated remedy and links to much more relevant information that I began to read.

It resulted in me taking more charge of my ailment, researching it in my own time, and being more encouraged to commit to his prescribed recommendations. So I asked myself? Why can’t all medical, educational and public sector employees communicate on social media to benefit the customer just as profit making companies do?

I know there can be challenges to all companies engaging in social media such as an understanding into what social media is, policies or procedures that need to be in place that prohibit its use and even fear of how to handle a crisis or conflict.

However I really do believe that it’s time to hand over the reigns of social media to your staff. Take full control away from your PR advisor and empower your team with knowledge and skills. I understand that this takes time and in a lot of cases training. But how can you be more human if your social networks are being run by bots or PR advisors only?

You are in a people-centered job and conversations are at the heart of it.

So how does a large, conservative and reluctant organisation such as the HSE get their staff front of screen on social media – consultants, GPs, nurses, radiographers, and administrative staff?

You simply begin to work on creating a culture that espouses transparency, connectedness with patients/customers and a realisation that social media is and will be a fundamental way in which we communicate, just as email was when it was mainstreamed in the mid 1990s.

Using social media the HSE can succeed in so many ways, from customer satisfaction to reduced in-bound calls, to greater participation in their health roadmap to closer relationships and greater transparency.

I remember working as a broadcast journalist in a local radio station and learning the importance of being engaged and involved in stories that affect your company. In helping to tell the story I sought responses from relevant organisations and even with a ‘no comment’ response, the story was still broadcast but without the voice of the company.

That worked to a certain extent years ago but now and in health there are already citizen journalists (patients with recording devices and voices on Twitter) so ‘no comment’ won’t fly anymore. This is not an option anymore for organisations, the culture has to change.

I strongly believe its now about conversations as opposed to comments. Wouldn’t you like to let the world know how hard your staff work, how committed they are and what the HSE does for this country?

The day will come, but why wait? I think it’s great to see the HSE taking control of their own future with their #eHealthHour and #IrishMed that they are involved with. I encourage them to continue with their digital journey and get more social. We as customers want and expect it and I suspect many staff and managers do too. You just need the ‘how to’ and well that part that can be learned.

About the author

Joanne Sweeney-Burke is a communications professional having worked as a broadcast journalist, PR practitioner and lecturer as well as CEO in various business roles.

She is CEO of Digital Training Institute and is dedicated to bringing individuals and organisations into the digital age with her consultancy and training services. She is the author of Social Media Under Investigation, Law Enforcement and the Social Web, which takes a forensic look at how police forces are using social media. She is currently writing her second social media themed book.

Joanne is a regular speaker at major social media and digital marketing conferences including Social Media Summit (Dublin), Big Data Retail Analytics Forum (London), SMILE conference (social media, the Internet and law enforcement – Phoenix, Arizona) and Digital Citizenship Summit (Bournemouth University). She has also taken to the TEDx stage in Omagh.

Follow Joanne on Twitter @tweetsbyJSB

Add her on Snapchat jsbsnaps

Mix tape management…

On days like yesterday I am so pleased I am a bit of a music geek, I love making musical lists, the best 75 songs of Bowie, the best 10 Stone Roses songs and yesterday morning way more important than any list ever before, the best 50 Prince songs. The day the world lost Prince is the day I have never wanted to listen more to his amazing music, in an order that takes us through all the bests…

Best singer, best guitar player, best pianist, best drummer, best funk, best classic rock, best old school RnB, best rude song and best bat dancer!

Prince was (is) my first musical hero, live on tape, in films, in interview or with his abstract and ever changing views of digital he change my world, no actually he changed the world!

What is best, the home made anthology of songs, the record label chosen greatest hits or the one the ‘person in the know’ pulled together? Since the age of thirteen I have been somewhat obsessed with the compilation tape as a concept. Technology has evolved and now it’s a playlist I can share but the question remains, how do I pick the 20ish best songs to listen to in any given situation?

Two compilation tapes made for me by friends at school created my obsession. One of my best friends, John, made a series of compilation tapes called, ‘See Inlay Card For Details.’ The creativity John would put into these compilations that he delivered sporadically into the group of friends to share around was phenomenal. They would include songs by German metal bands, the Penguin Café Orchestra, soundtrack pieces from spaghetti westerns and often a bit of Bowie. The entertainment with this series though was the running order as much as anything, John almost wilfully subverted the style of the mix by throwing in something that jarred with the previous song, no one could nod off when listening to a John mix. Years later the Chemical Brothers would pretty much make their fame from this strategy!

The other was a tape from a chap called Saul. A mix so artfully created it changed my listening habits. Saul was one of the sixth form common room cool kids, he made me a compilation tape of Madchester mixes, 808 State, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, North Side and the like. Perfectly written in tiny writing so you knew what you were listening to, I wanted to recreate the experience for others from that day on.

So going to new places as a young adult the mix tape became my way of making friends. My best friend even mentioned this in his best mans speech, that his first real conversation with me was me brandishing a mix tape (CD) for him and him stating I never really liked ‘band music’!

Traveling a little each day is the perfect opportunity to listen to snap shots of different music, be it a new band, a new EP from a tried and tested love or a mix from some Ibiza bound DJ and despite technology changes I still hold my iPOD and the shuffle button dear.

April and May of 2016 are months with quite a lot of travel for work and pleasure and therefore I have been spending more and more time trying to create playlists for different journeys. For me it’s not just about the songs either, the whole play list needs a structure, just as John and Saul ‘taught’ me.

So here I am on a flight for a lovely holiday thanking my lucky starts that months ago I thought I needed a playlist with ‘THE’ 50 best Prince, I think this list will be played a lot over the next 4 days on holiday, even if the lovely lady wife doesn’t get that Batdance is actually a really cool song!

When the compilation used to be burnt to a CD there was the catalyst for a little self-regulation as you only had so much room on each piece of media. Now with the playlist the compilation can be even more sprawling, but if its for an event then it still needs a structure, as if you were curating the music or acting as a DJ. I do see the parallels to this and the building and developing of a team.

In the last few days two members of the senior management team in Ireland have been recognised by the Tech Excellence awards in their short list as IT professionals of the year. The team see these two people as the hit songs of the moment I guess, whereas other members of the team are absolutely the old school classics. For every Get Off or Breakfast Can Wait there has to be a Purple Rain or a 1999!

Creating the playlist of the team is essential, it has taken eHealth Ireland over a year to work out the playing order but in the last three months it has felt more and more like we have got there. The strengths of the team as a whole are so much more important than the one hit wonders. Much like a playlist we can see the team has come together because the progression of the experience has started to make us all smile. That sounds odd I know, but the team meeting is now an experience of support and constructive challenge where it doesn’t matter if it is one of the complex projects being discussed or an issue in business as usual the team can and will pull together over it. And this has to be a credit to each individual moving part.

The next few months are full of excitement that’s for sure, the eHealth Festival in a few weeks will see the application of a wider musical theme as we work with partners to deliver the first technology in health conference with a theme based around a musical festival, some have suggested we must be a little bit crazy to try to do this, but, I have always believed it is about the story telling and if we can get that right then people will engage.

In the last few days it has become clear to me that we haven’t taken all of the staff on a journey, yet! But I want to keep making the compilation tapes and try and get that right! Everyone has a theme song I think, and part of my challenge as a business leader first and CIO second is to discover the theme song for each person…

…. Make it easier for me, leave your theme song in the comments below and lets create a mix tape for eHealth in Ireland!

And in the immortal words of the man himself, “Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life… “ A rallying call, lets do more than get through this thing called life, lets become a single compilation tape of excellence.

The future is bright and the future of healthcare is data…

In healthcare we have landed on the moon many times with small steps for man and giant leaps for mankind. Data is the next big Neil Armstrong moment for healthcare!

In 1853, Florence Nightingale started what we know today as the modern profession of nursing. Interestingly she also helped popularise the graphical presentation of statistical data. Was this the initial lunar landing for data in healthcare?

In 1895, Wilhelm Rontgen’s invention of the x-ray made a giant leap forward in the history of medicine. For the first time ever, the inner workings of the body could be made visible without having to cut into the flesh of a patient.

Another 40 years on in the late 1920s, Penicillin was discovered by Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming, revolutionising the medical treatment of infections.

If one were to ask Christian Bernard or Louis Washkansky, a 54-year-old grocer, suffering from diabetes and incurable heart disease if this 40 year cycle of giant leaps in healthcare are anything to go by and you will get a resounding yes. After all Bernard was to revolutionise the clinical consideration of the art of possible with the first ever heart transplant which benefited Mr. Washkansky who bravely stepped up as the first recipient in the world.

Bringing modern computing into the 40 year cycle of healthcare has been more of a challenge it would seem; advances  in the home PC were transformational during the 80’s and 90’s in the way we live our lives and transact our work and yet are still heading towards that same exponential change for healthcare.

40 years on brings us to today [and the next few years]. We are ready for the next small step for man and giant leap in healthcare.  In today’s modern healthcare system we continue to have incremental improvements and technological advances that have measurable benefits to society, bringing us into a healthier state.  But it is data and its use that will bring about the next giant leap forward.

The use of data is on the brink of taking electronic medical records, genetic information, and wearable data and transforming it into information that will support decision making and the development of new technologies that will change the way we care for our patients.

Here in Ireland we speak about our ‘grand ambition’ to allow the patient to truly control their health data by 2020.

Subra Suresh, president of Carnegie Mellon University, says with the use of information and data; “we will move from reactive care to immediate, proactive prevention and remediation, from experience-based medicine to evidence-based medicine, and to augment disease-centred models with patient-centred models.”

Imagine a time when a graduate doctor will not only have the six years medical training and their immediate supervisor’s knowledge at their disposal to treat a patient but the capabilities from millions of lines of data to support diagnostic decision making, the art of the possible with the phenomenon we call cognitive computing. The transformation of the data to information will provide suggested diagnosis based on test results, information gleaned from the patient but may also prompt further questions or tests that might aid in a refined diagnosis.

Imagine a time where a patient can provide a full medical history to any healthcare practitioner across the globe by simply allowing access to their health record stored in the cloud. Where a patient can see who has viewed and added to their record anywhere and at any time.

We don’t need to imagine these scenarios, early adopters are already realising the bright future data is providing in healthcare.

Kaiser Permanente has fully implemented a new computer system, HealthConnect, to ensure data exchange across all medical facilities and promote the use of electronic health records. The integrated system has improved outcomes in cardiovascular disease and achieved an estimated $1 billion in savings from reduced consultations and lab tests.

Blue Shield of California, in partnership with NantHealth, is improving healthcare delivery and patient outcomes by developing an integrated technology system that will allow doctors, hospitals, and health planers to deliver evidence-based care that is more coordinated and personalised. This will help improve performance in a number of areas, including prevention and care coordination. (The big-data revolution in US health care: Accelerating value and innovation Basel Kayyali and David Knott. http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/the-big-data-revolution-in-us-health-care )

The future is bright and the future of healthcare is data. The future of patient care in Ireland is certainly bright as we develop Information Services and the eHealthIreland structures to truly turn data in the system into information that can, with care be used to change the way in which care is delivered to the patient and the population of Ireland.

Innovate and Entrepreneur – Conflation that shouldn’t happen…

Originally published via Horizon Business Innovation

The point in which the IT industry began to conflate the words innovation and entrepreneur bothers me as a CIO in the public sector. On a regular basis public sector technology picks up negative commentary on two fronts; firstly it is not innovative and agile enough and secondly that it is not managed well enough with good and clear governance that captures risky contractual issues and manages them appropriately.

The conflation of the two words though makes it even more difficult to achieve both of these key outcomes at the same time in the delivery of technology to national sized projects.

Why should it though?

Well if we are to believe that innovation can only be achieved by SMEs with an entrepreneur at the helm then the very nature of these two functions will make it very difficult for large public sector contracts to innovate. Public sector rules are designed to replace good, relationship based governance with a safety net that awards size and sue-ability of the organisation and despite many different attempts (for example G-Cloud in the UK) we have yet to see a framework in public sector that truly enables innovation rather than concentrating on the contractual framework that can be put in place.

As a public sector CIO for the last 10 years I am starting to form a theory though, maybe innovation is a state of mind rather than a contractually obliging function or something that can only be attained by having a cool hipster as the founder. Innovation from the CIO through the organisation requires a culture to be in place, not just the typical fail fast and learn lessons but a culture that allows the team to build a relationship with the supplier.

So many experienced delivery focused CIOs will say to keep suppliers at arm’s length, a single throat to choke and all the horrific imagery that goes with that. But what if we became collaborators, even friends, willing to put in all those extra miles for the shared good of an innovative outcome.

And what’s even more interesting is if we could do this then we would no longer be limiting ourselves to SMEs for innovation, you can build a relationship with the Oracle, Microsoft and IBMs just as easy as easily as you can with the bright young idea that just stepped into the office.

How? Well in my last two roles through using two key skills as a CIO that manifest themselves in one clear way. Mike Altendorf in the January issue of CIO UK lists the five things he learnt in 2015, and number five is communications. To see such an eminent thinker pull this out as a key skill in 2015 shows that at last our collective light is coming on.

The two key skills that I believe can be seen outwardly as communications that simply enable the innovation culture to brew are empathy and marketing. Perhaps marketing is a bit cold as a skill description but ultimately it is what it is, persuading the team, the organisation, the bright idea that just walked into your office that a collaboration should be reached is absolutely all about the marketing. You, your team and your organisation need to sell yourself to the idea as much as the idea needs to become your ‘supplier’. Then the empathy skill kicks in because this is where the new burgeoning relationship will build from.

For a public sector CIO to show empathy to a start-up organisation can sail close to either patronising or patriotism dependent on how far you go though. Someone shows you an idea, the germ of something you need, how much empathy do you show without over playing the card?. It is easy to grab the idea and try to support it through the whole system, becoming the champion but you then need to be careful not to have opened up a can of worms around a challenge for over enthusiasm for one supplier.

What is great though is all this applies regardless of who the organisation is. In 2015 we have had great ideas pitched to us from the biggest of organisations through to an idea from a one man organisation, all of which will in 2016 build that digital fabric for our large public sector organisation and all are seen by our customer base as innovative and yet simple. Maybe this is another key performance indicator that needs to be taken on board, customer or partner perceptions of innovation, they are not always the cutting (bleeding) edge of technology, innovation can often be the best re-sue of a current technology into a new setting, and these communications skills and in particular the ability to see and understand a customers perspective spring to mind so clearly here.

More and more often in my public sector area, health, we need to build a physical presence for this kind of engagement to be the most successful. An Innovation Centre where through a location where the culture described above will be encouraged and even taught to suppliers. Technology and business leaders from across health can come together as easily as possible to share in the building of solutions, no matter the size or age of the organisations working together.

There is a risk with all of this innovation styles hitting public sector though that if it is not joined up properly then there can be innovation lethargy. If you consider health alone in the UK and Ireland we have a plethora of tech funds, innovation hubs, accelerator programmes and commercial initiatives. So, now the CIO role is also to navigate the partnership they have created through this quagmire of opportunity.

In the process of creating this blog I feel I have persuaded myself maybe the conflated words were wrong, and we had in fact substituted entrepreneur for leader, if we put that ‘e’ word back in its box where it belongs and replace it with innovative leader then maybe we have the right solution.

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