A quick guide to health care innovation and the NHS

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Disruptive Women UK will be launching Tuesday, September 30th in the House of Commons. This post is a part of a series running up to the launch welcoming Disruptive Women UK.

So you’re officially a health innovator. You have a product that works, so now you just need some people to use it. Broadly, you have two options at this point – to get users to pay for it themselves, or to sell it to a healthcare provider to use with their patients. Selling direct to the public is great if you have the right sort of product, but it might be trickier in the UK than in the USA or in some parts of Europe because there isn’t much of a tradition here of self-payment for healthcare. It might be possible to sell to private health companies or clinics in some form, but this isn’t likely to be an option for most innovators.

This means that most UK health innovators are going to need to try to supply the NHS. Old hands tend to offer doom-laden prophecies at this point, saying that selling to the NHS is absurdly difficult and – more trenchantly – that the NHS is responsible for the failure of many viable, sensible innovations. Is this fair? (more…)

Are we stuck in a digital cul de sac?

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Disruptive Women UK will be launching Tuesday, September 30th in the House of Commons. This post is a part of a series running up to the launch welcoming Disruptive Women UK.

In the UK we have a problem. The big digital movers and shakers – Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon and many others – were founded in America. We are stuck in a cultural cul-de-sac. There are no easy answers as to why the UK does not have the digital confidence of the US, but we must do our best to tackle our low digital self-esteem. One reason is location. The UK is a test-bed for American companies before they go into other markets in Europe. Innovation from US companies is tried out in the UK at the earliest stage. When Google tests a game here before it goes international, it stamps out home grown innovation. My second observation would be about the dominance of the BBC. I believe it is a phenomenal organisation but a great deal of digital innovation in the UK has happened inside the corporation. It is impressive that the BBC develops something as good as the iPlayer so I would argue that this national institution is perhaps our best scale tech business – this presents interesting challenges as well as opportunities.

There are basic structural difficulties with digital development. In the UK we are not especially ambitious entrepreneurs and this is true in the digital world. While the number of startups indexes well with other countries, growing them into global billion pound companies is rare. (more…)

The Best Innovations Come in ‘Human Size’

Jenny-Hyatt--003Disruptive Women UK will be launching Tuesday, September 30th in the House of Commons. This post is a part of a series running up to the launch welcoming Disruptive Women UK.

Recently, I was at TEDMED 2014 in San Francisco where game changers turned their minds to the future of science and humanity. Not even that famous fog could dampen the atmosphere, warmed by the sparks flying from ‘out of the box’ thinking.

The world of health care breeds innovative thinkers, radicals, people who see and act to ‘make things better.’ So why is health care so often not a place of change, but a place of stasis? Why do large health care systems praise innovation, yet struggle to adopt at scale the radical changes that are needed?

Change can be disorientating, and large systems can suffer from structural barriers to innovation that are hard to break through. And while, with resolve and vision, these can be tackled it is much harder to bring about change that requires a shift in power. (more…)

Pull Your Own Oxygen Down First

Dr Clare Gerada

Disruptive Women UK will be launching Tuesday, September 30th in the House of Commons. This post is a part of a series running up to the launch welcoming Disruptive Women UK.

Almost everyone reading this will have heard the instruction given before taking off on any air flight, “in case of emergency pull your own oxygen mask down first before helping others.”

Over recent months I have repeated this phrase often – not, I hasten to add because I am now moonlighting as an Airline stewardess – no, because it is a phrase I give to doctors when talking to them about how to stay mentally and physically healthy in these troubled times. I am the Medical Director of an NHS service for doctors and dentists with mental health or addiction problems, which over the last five years has had nearly 1,500 patients presenting to the service for help.

Doctors, therefore, are not immune to mental illness, and in fact have high rates of depression and anxiety and significantly higher suicide rates than the general population – particularly so for female doctors. Doctors also misuse prescription or illicit drugs, and become addicted to alcohol. Yet despite these high rates, doctors are notoriously bad at caring for themselves, ploughing on despite everything. The adage that “doctors make bad patients” rings true – with presenteeism being more of a problem amongst doctors than absenteeism – such that doctors often present  very late for treatment, often in crisis or following problems at work or a drink-drive offence. (more…)

Disruptive Women in Health Care Welcomes the UK: Keep Calm & Disrupt On

Robin Strongin

Disruptive Women UK will be launching Tuesday, September 30th in the House of Commons. This post is the first in a series running up to the launch welcoming Disruptive Women UK.

History tells us that Florence Nightingale was a nurse. Indeed she was. Not only did she lay the foundation for professional nursing, but her work as a statistician (an early pioneer in STEM and a health services researcher, no less) vastly contributed to improved military health and hospital planning. Her work as a social reformer made an enormous difference in the lives of many as she worked to improve sanitation, alleviate hunger and improve inhumane living conditions.  All of which, of course, improve health.

She regularly challenged the medical status quo of the time.  She clashed frequently with her colleagues and superiors.  She could be absolutely insistent that her ideas on how to care for patients should become the regular order and was not known to brook disagreement with good humor. (more…)



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