On my First Digital Health Conference Panel + General Weekly Review

This week I attended the Digital Health & Care Scotland Conference at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, along with three other members from the Digital Health & Care Institute family: CEO Professor George Crooks OBE, Dr Sanna Rimpiläinen and Laura Rooney.

This was the first healthcare conference that I have been a panel speaker at. When I saw the schedule, I decided to email in and offer to talk about the growing trend of clinicans learning to code/programme and become more technical – which has been legitimised as a direct recommendation of the DoH Wachter review (for my summary of the Wachter review, see the end of my blog post on interoperability for clinicians) and the creation of the NHS Digital Academy. The organisers from Holyrood Connect conferences emailed me back and offered me a space on the Digitally Enabled Workforce panel… I think this is a good lesson in entrepreneurship – ask and you may receive!

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I was honoured to be on the panel, which was expertly chaired by Manira Ahmad, Head of Local Intelligence at NHS National Services Scotland. Other members included Christopher Wroath, Director of Digital Transformations at NHS Education Scotland (NES); Margaret Whoriskey, Head of Technology Enabled Care & Digital Healthcare Innovation, Scottish Gov; Claire Cater, Founder, The Social Kinetic; and Robin Breslin, Business Manager UK and Ireland, Forcare.

The main messages that I wanted to get across on the panel were:

  • clinicians knowing about technology is beneficial to the NHS
  • this knowledge can range from programming full-stack web applications, to human-centred user interface and experience design; to agile project management
  • Why is this beneficial? Clinical informaticians like me (speak clinical + tech languages) are in the perfect place to be product owners in project management speak (product owner must articulate detailed user stories, participate in daily scrum rituals, and answer questions as the customer/patient/citizen representative). – is there a role for DHI to provide education in this area to improve delivery of projects?
  • DHI funds MSc students… but what can DHI do to help with deep clinical informatics knowledge? As well as MSc students, should we be funding places to NHS digital academy for senior clinicians? This way we get driven, knowledgeable people, flying our flag back in their organisation and carrying out change. I learned to programme in 5 months at Maker’s Academy – I didn’t need a higher education degree, the way we learn needs to change to fit in with modern models.

I didn’t manage to get all these points out, but we have some plans in the forge looking at some of these points. I was surprised at how difficult and pressurising sitting on a panel is – you don’t know what question is coming next and there can be some curve balls! I think it all comes with experience.

I met some amazing people at the conference and also the Clinical Change Leadership Group which I attended on Thursday as a guest (my thanks to Dr Paul Miller and Dr Paul Campbell for allowing me to attend what is really a meeting for senior clinicians), and hoping some great things will come out of both.

Weekly Review

I haven’t done this since getting back from Boston, but I think it is so important for keeping the mind focused and I want to restart.

1. What do I have to work on the next few days?

  • Details finalised for the Digital Health and Care Institute Connectathon on 15th March (it’s an invite only event due to space constraints, but if you are really keen to attend send me an email and I’ll see what I can do)
  • Completing the virtual patient personas and data models for the demonstration and simulation environment
  • Replying to several emails that have been building up (sorry if that includes you!!)
  • Sending several emails to start a new piece of work following on from the Conference.
  • Working in the Emergency Department tomorrow on a late shift.

2. What deadlines do I have coming up?

  • I have my annual medical appraisal with Dr Jonathan Wraight on Wednesday – looking to set some goals for the next year including doing a Paediatric Life Support course.

3. Are there any new projects I have time to start working on?

  • There are two pieces of work which I am starting – neither of which I can say too much about at the moment!

4. What went wrong over the past week? What lessons can I learn from that?

One thing I have noticed since starting work at DHI in Glasgow is that I am allowing the commute to interfere with my evening – by the time I get home it can sometimes be 1900 and I don’t feel motivated to exercise. For this reason I haven’t been to Muay Thai for several months now, which is disappointing. I had also wanted to start crossfit but haven’t been in months.

I think I need to consider leaving DHI at 1615, doing a last hour of work on the train back to Edinburgh, meaning I’m back in Edinburgh by 1700 and attend a class on the way home. This extra hour or two time could be the difference between me being healthy or unhealthy. I will aim to trial this plan this week – must discuss with my line manager at DHI to ensure they are happy with that. My view of this kind of thing is that as long as someone is getting their work done effectively, their pattern of work should be up to them…

5. What went right over the past week? How can I make sure more of that happens?

I had a good mixture of clinical work; DHI work; clinical revalidation work (attending the Royal College of Physicians Evening Medical Update on Tuesday and blogging about it); networking/socialising; and some exercise in the form of cycling part of the way to St John’s hospital instead of driving + yoga today; and meditating most days.

The key to this is planning ahead, and making sure there is a balance of:

  • clinical work
  • DHI work
  • some event for networking/socialising
  • exercise
  • meditation

6. How well am I keeping up with all my duties and obligations?

Reasonably well – I’ve used all day today to catch up with admin and tidy up a bit.

7. What is coming up that I need to be prepared for?

  • The DHI Connectathon is 15th March – need to have everything organised by the end of this week.
  • Ski touring trip on 10th March – need to get a bit more in shape before that
  • Aiming to do a hiking trip with some friends on 6-8th April – need to make a plan for that.

8. What kind of help do I need?

  • Looking for mentors in the clinical informatics and digital health space
  • Keen to connect the English and Scottish digital health work forces – already have made some moves along that direction, but have some wider plans

9. Is everything I’m doing contributing to my advancement towards my goals? What can I do about the stuff that isn’t?


10. Am I happy with where I’m at? What would I like to change?

  • Start exercising more

11. What are my goals for the next week? Month? 90 days?

  • Week:
    • finalise details for the Connectathon and send the agenda out
    • last emails to a few extra value add participants
    • emails out for new pieces of work
    • be more proactive in exercising and try out new work pattern (leaving Glasgow at 1615)
    • meditate every day
  • Month
    • be celebrating a successful Connectathon and looking towards the next event
    • have made good progress in the new pieces of work I am doing for/with DHI and have made solid steps forward in several new relationships
    • have a solid plan for the set up of our new Scottish One HealthTech Hub that I am pulling together with two colleagues
    • made post-work exercise a habit
  • 90 days
    • have progressed DHI current work bundles to completion
    • have developed new DHI work bundles to an advanced stage with maturation of the new relationships described
    • a functioning and amazing Demonstration and Simulation Environment at the Digital Health and Care Institute, where you can plug in any piece of digital health tech and play with virtual patient data and see the interoperable data flows between services with new service models of health & care…


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