Has COVID been a blessing?

As we slowly – for most of us – move out of Covid restriction -we look at how the forcing of Hospitals to be online may well be the saviour they have still yet to recognise.

Some four years ago, I am sitting with a Clinical Consultant at a major Uk Hospital and he says to me, ‘Richard”, he says: “we can never do patient appointments without the patient being there. The Nurses just won’t stand for it”.

This is an interesting observation. Because, whilst we all have seen instances of reluctant or obstructive IT Teams, or even “Transformation Teams” – and now more likely, Data teams, towards the introduction of new tech driven processes, what we are seeing still, is that these insecurities are supported at a human nature level, and the excuses of choice are related to “unacceptable risk”, or “doesn’t fit our road map” or worse “we already have a policy for this”.

This is a pity, because if there is one benefit from COVID turning our lives upside down, it is that our lives can be much better when we put everything back in order. And there is no reason not to.

Because, what we know now of course, is that the secure tech exists, and has done so for some years, for perfectly capable remote patient discussion – and its advantages of bringing to the party additional protagonists to fit whichever patient we are talking to – are well known. So the question is:

Why did we not think of this before?

Well, we did. And it was not you and I in healthcare, that created or discovered it. It was our phone companies, and our search engines, whose livelihood depended on things being secure, flexible, and above all workable – long before you and I started to relate the same services that we use in our daily lives – to our working lives.

The upshot of all this, is that it now brings into question, why are we persisting with our old ways of doing things, our giant clunky solutions, our old SQL and single-sign on etc processes, when they have already long been superseded by mobile Apps that you and I can download for a few pence, and that require no support, and connect with planet Zog, from the moment we start to install in our front bedroom.

Yet you could say this is a negative. The driver for this unseen revolution, has been the necessity of COVID, to not meet people. Fair enough. I get that.

But now we are there, can we not recognise the promised land that gives us Carte Blanche to absolutely look again at how we run our hospitals, what is new and available right now, to do the same job that used to and still costs us zillions – when we can indeed reach a much better utopia, further, and use our resources much better?

What we have found over the past two years when we talked at all levels throughout Hospitals, is that there is no single Department, or Division, etc where we can point a finger. It is the prejudice of the individual that restricts them from going outside their comfort zone, that it is Ok to go outside their comfort zone – that it is essential to do so.

The problems that we are currently experiencing, of longer waiting lists, of five hour waiting times at E&E, and I could go on – are the result of the inability and unwillingness to prepare for change. Which brings me to my point. We surely do not want to experience another pandemic, to realise that we could have done it all better, so much earlier.

IS DTX THE NEW PLACE OF LEARNING?


As things apparently return to normality, and we start doing proper face to face trade conferences and I could go on – is it time to realise that there is no more a sense of ”normality”. Has the upcoming DTX and its focus on all things “Digital” become a place of learning, and not a place of selling?

Of course it is a place of selling. There are people called Vendors, and people called Visitors, who would not be there if there was not some sort of commercial benefit to both parties. But there the similarity ends. As we all emerge from nearly two years of COVID enforced hibernation, the one thing that is clear, is that nothing is clear.

Sure, we have heard of digitalisation – but there is little consensus as to what that means or what it can guarantee to deliver. We know that “transformation” is a Good Thing. But why is this simply restricted in people’s minds, to technology? At a time when people are rejecting to go back to the commute driven road to work – where do people come into all of this?

What people do clearly need is not information. You and I need a RoadMap. And that’s why I shall join the queue and go spend a day at the Digital Transformation EXPO, at the beginning of October, in London. If the key benefit of this Conference is one of difference – a new way of looking at things, – then this also extends to the choice of key speakers, with investigative journalist Louis Theroux, and Adam Steltzner, fresh from NASA JPL to give me their take on where all this is going.

How so?

Because I am confused by the sheer pace of change. And I want to hear from others, how they solved this bridge into a new future that I am not sure I really “get”. I understand why DTX segments itself into little bubbles of “Cloud based security”, or “AI new advances”, and I could go on. But I believe the real benefit is the mix of experts, and as DTX promises, the opportunity to “exchange ideas with the best in the business”.

This is important, because the concepts mentioned at this Show are hardly new. One of the biggest problems in AI, for example, is that people have heard of AI before.

What people have not heard of however – is how others have used their technology and delivered outcomes that in some cases have been stellar – or have simply not worked. This equates with what we have found in our own research, that technology per se means nothing unless there is a human benefit.
I will listen to the anecdotes as much as the tech. And as any businessman knows, the chat in the coffee queue is often as valuable as the stand out presentation.

So I will learn a lot. The only question is – I just don’t know from whom.

NEW LAWYERS. TRANSFORMATION OF A PROFESSION

The subtle movement and shift of emphasis from today’s lawyers into Business Partners and strategic advisers – has changed the view that we have of them – and them of us. The question is; is this a difficult sell?

Nora Teuwsen is looking at me across the screen. She is dressed in Swiss minimalist chic, dark grey modern clothes, long auburn hair. As former General Counsel for Swiss Railways, and surrounded by the financial areas of Zurich, she is well placed to make a perceptive judgement.

“It used to be”, she says. “But now, Corporates are waking up to the fact that their in-house Lawyer is also a modern facilitator”.

Like so many young lawyers starting out, Nora had little clue of what a legal profession entailed. Her motivation had been more a belief in justice, integrity, that she still regards as valuable of all skills to have. What she was not prepared for in those early days – was the lack of client contact, and to work out and discover an understanding, that her preferred role was one of explanation, to explain the “why” things need to be so.

She is calm but animated in her delivery, you can see the entrepreneurial spirit that is driving her responsibility to take her client on a journey. The legal background has no longer become the prime reason for being retained, it is the structure of thought that can open other commercial discussions.

It is no surprise that after 15 years with Swiss Railways, it was obvious that the next step was to create a vehicle that could embrace all of these attributes and competences, into one, that could be offered as a package so to say.

What she says is; “companies are underestimating the value of their legal department”, and in many ways that department needs to be courageous in pushing for creative and pragmatic solutions which are taking into account the company’s strategy and focussing on longterm value.

Nora continues: “The role of the legal department is expanding. Areas of sustainability, social responsibility, are becoming the go to areas of importance for corporates of all sizes, and the legal department can assist in handling that interest.”

It is also a focus on use of Data. Surprisingly, Nora is not convinced by use cases in Artificial Intelligence in the legal industry. There is a great transformation going on, but so far, results are limited. So far, it has not come up on her radar as a priority.

The “BeyondLegal” Boutique Firm, Nora’s brainchild – from a single Zurich base – is already international clients. “What we are trying to do, is build a network of like-minded legal professionals. We live in an international world”.

I turn off my screen and take a moment of reflection. In a technology driven marketplace, human values are still the bedrock of our corporate growth, which we always had but somehow had been forgotten. Some things remain the same.

IS DIGITALISATION THE SUICIDE NOTE OF BUSINESS?

We look at SEO and the epidemic of digital solutions in Biz Dev, and ask; are we missing the point here?

I have a colleague, who is Head of Procurement for some large areas of Scandinavia. And what he says is this; “Richard” – he says – “ I have deliberately stopped answering any emails, or any calls, from anybody I do not recognise. If you want me to talk to any of your people, just let me know in advance and I will put their number in my personal contacts.”

In the same way that the freedom of the internet has given us multiple information choices that should have given us a broader outlook – and the reverse has been true – that we only focus on those news feeds that say the things we already believe, – and made worse by algorithms that proactively feed us those restrictive views. So – the same is with SEO and all things digital.

We can now reach out to anybody on this planet. But so can everybody else. Which means that the people that we need and want to talk to – for our business growth, our customer service, etc – have long since made the decision not to be available, at all.

What that means is that, far from being simple to grow a business by finding a person who we do not know, and just giving them a call, has now become more than four times as long and four times as expensive, and now involves, pre-sales people, post-sales people, all manner of IT support and analysis, to do what used to be the straightforward and simple task of just phoning a friend of a friend.

But what is worse, is that this has given acceptance and justification, to being proactive in not making human contact possible at all. Woe betide any receptionist who passes on yours or mine contact details!

This means that both sides are the losers. Vendors of great solutions give up, because they cannot support the increasing drain open their marketing spend. And Corporates or our Public Services continue with their outdated practices because nobody has been able to show them otherwise.

If COVID restrictions have taught us anything, it is that human nature needs human involvement, and yet we seem to be travelling at warp speed in the opposite direction. It is as if we are scared about the whole process of actually talking together in a business environment, or being”sold to”. How terrible.

In our own business here at Profomedia, we research a lot and are continually building personal relationships. Whenever we want to find out something, we reach out and phone someone we already know, – who then introduces us to someone who we don’t.

There. It wasn’t so difficult, was it.

INNOVATION AND THE COMMON MAN! YES, WE CAN NOW TALK FACE/FACE WITH THE PEOPLE WHO PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE DELIVERY DIGITAL INNOVATION.

We give a long overdue and welcome to the upcoming HETT Show, taking place on 28-29 September, at the Excel London, as an essential platform for our UK digital healthcare providers. 

The HETT Show (www.hettshow.co.uk) – as the Uk’s leading health event, opens its doors in a couple of months. The HETT Show is one of the first serious events to greet us all, in person, and it is like when you have to hand your courtesy car back at the end of the day when your usual vehicle is being serviced. “No, I don’t want to go back to my old car, thanks! I prefer the new shiny one you lent me instead.” 

Because – let’s face it – face-to-face events are the perfect place to gain insights and network. We miss the being there. And now we are back. Yes, we can indeed keep the courtesy car with the new number plates, after all. We can now justifiably drive off, and talk about Innovation.

HETT believes that innovation is the sauce that will empower the workforce in our hospitals and surgeries. The Show promises to herald a “new era of transformation”. And indeed it may well do so, for two surprising reasons. First, we are indeed, so fed up with the isolation of the past 15 months, it was fun in the beginning, true – but not now. And second, the success of any Innovation roll out, depends on precisely this, the motivation of the individual, to get up and actually “do something”.  

It is a realisation that if Innovation is to deliver for the common man, the patient, then this is not a technology process, but a human experience process, that involves all of us, at each individual level in the workplace. And for that single reason, HETT has a unique advantage, it is first, in bringing us all together. 

Over the past year and more, there have been significant differences in quality of care and even interest in delivering quality care, geographically throughout the UK. We see HETTshow (www.hettshow.co.uk) as an opportunity to re-examine where we are, and to meet people who can help this journey. 

We will be publishing a Series of Case Studies of those Hospitals and Surgeries who have made Innovation work for them in the past year, despite all the odds. At a time when queues and delays for procedures are at an all-time high, this is a clear moment to get back on track.

————————— 

DIGITALISATION; HERE’S AN IDEA YOU MIGHT LIKE!

Does success in “becoming digital in our workplace” mean we are all techies?”  We interview Katie Trott, Chief Nursing Information Officer at the Royal Free Hospital, Uk, fresh before her HIMSS Discussion on 8th June, to see how they do it at her Hospital.

I am sitting in my office – I pick up the phone, and I call Katie’s Hospital, and the Reception immediately connects me, there is a sound of some children in the background, and then I realise – Katie is at home, this is her mobile line. 

“I’m sorry”, she says, there is a hint of amusement in her voice “I have the kids at home”.  No matter. And so I get straight to the point – you have been responsible for some major large clinical tech initiatives in your past – does this mean you have a technical background?

“No, “ she says immediately. “But I do know how to wire a plug”.

This is all going well.

So we start again, and you could say it gets worse. When Katie started in the NHS as what  was then a Nurse Auxiliary, at 16yrs old – there was no discussion of technology per se for people at the front line. Patients were patients and treatments were treatments. Katie’s background is clinical. It just so happened, like so many chance encounters in life, that she was rather good at explaining to patients and colleagues “what was going on”.

This facility to communicate, to bring things back to their essential levels, has been the secret sauce of what – looking back – has been a step by step process over the years, ie, the innate ability to communicate benefits and to lead others into new pastures. As clinical care has inevitably needed more and more clever toys  and cool IT, so somebody has to engage with the people who have to make it all work. At the Royal Free, under her direction, they delivered a new EHR in just 11 months.

Katie is self-deprecating; “I was just in the  right place at the right time” she says. “We sort of made a decision that we need to do this or that, and then sort of figured it out as we went along”. Clearly this is not true – but what is standout is the motivation to go forward – even though at the time, you might not be sure of what that “forward” can actually deliver.

And it has created some changes in attitudes.

“When I first got into delivering digital or clinical solutions, the mindset was definitely that “big is better”. If we want to do something else, we just got some velcro and stuck on a new module”. But our view now has changed to  scaling down, and adopting “best of breed”, a sort of FHIR approach, for the specialist areas that have specific needs.”

Katie continues; “Perhaps I was naive, but I remember when I first started, I thought that fast means better, that you just plug new solutions in. But over time, I discovered the benefit of taking it step by step. That testing and safe empowerment is a process. Sure, we can plug it in, – but everyone needs to be involved before we go play”.

What it seems is that there is a shift in areas of influence. The clinical demands of patient delivery , are becoming the driver of the IT requirement, as opposed to the other way round, And that IT per se, may not understand the clinical needs it is trying to address.

Two things are  becoming clear – and that tie in with what we have seen from other NHS Leaders that we have talked to.  That success in digital delivery, depends on the individual, and not being scared of appearing to be the idiot. It is a phrase that Katie uses a lot in our discussion – and  also the recognition that we are every day in a brave new world, and we have to sort it out.

It is time to end our discussion. We could talk for much longer, but Katie is at home, and there are noises in the background.

AHIMA launch new EU collaboration in AI and Telehealth.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and Frontiers Health, along with  the Healthware Group, recently agreed to a content collaboration that will serve health care professionals in both Europe and the United States.

It comes just prior to the launch of the annual AHIMA Conference, this time Virtual, in just 10 days time. (We will be talking with Michael Bittner, AHIMA Media Director, early next week, on  the key notes to be covered)  In meantime – What they say is this:

“Frontiers Health is recognized across Europe as a transformative organization with a long history of promoting innovation in health care,” said AHIMA CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE. “Like AHIMA, they see the human behind health information and health policy, making our collaboration a natural fit.”

Frontiers Health, in cooperation with Healthware Group, is hosting two education sessions, focusing on telehealth and artificial intelligence in health care, at the AHIMA20 Virtual Conference taking place October 14-17. The sessions will feature speakers from companies like CarePredict, Intouch Group, Kaia Health, Vitality, and Wysa, as well as other global players from the digital health space.

In addition, both organizations will collaborate on sessions at the Frontiers Health Hybrid Conference this November. AHIMA’s international team will host several sessions within an overarching theme of “Data Driving the Future of Health.” AHIMA experts will discuss data consent, privacy, interoperability, patient access to their health information, and more.

“This collaboration serves AHIMA members and health care professionals in Europe, as both groups will have access to new content and resources with a global perspective,” Harris said. “It will also help AHIMA increase its international footprint and reach health care audiences around the world.”

“I am pleased to expand our collaboration with AHIMA and look forward to hosting two dedicated Frontiers Health sessions at the AHIMA20 Virtual Conference,” said Roberto Ascione, conference chairman of Frontiers Health and CEO & founder at Healthware Group. “Frontiers Health will share its extensive knowledge and first-hand experience in strategic spaces like telehealth and artificial intelligence. Through its cooperation with AHIMA, Frontiers Health will promote and contribute to the pivotal role of digital health innovation in the new normal.”

EUROVISION ON STEROIDS. WELCOME TO THE HIMSS 2020 EUROPEAN DIGITAL CONFERENCE.

With decision-makers from healthcare in some 98 Countries – including Russia, Israel etc – booked to attend; and around 172 Speakers, including 45+ keynote Speakers, including the WHO, the US ONC, and of course the key Partners from Finland (whose are supporting this Conference) – this five day event is as good as it gets in terms of bringing together where healthcare is going and needs to go.

It is an interesting comparison. This Conference is just a week or two after the Nordic more local VITALIS event in Goteborg, but whilst VITALIS is essentially inward looking, a focus for its local market – HIMSS Europe has always been an outreach for its Nordic contingent. Nothing has changed here.

When I spoke a few days ago with Sean Roberts, the VP EMEA of HIMSS, he told me that the clear focus of this year’s HIMSS Europe – is Innovation; the bringing together of the smaller and new vendors alongside their bigger and more established sponsor brothers, and taking new ways of doing things, into healthcare management.

Sean has decamped with his wife and his dog, from California to the leafy environment of Berkshire, just a 30 minute train ride into the UK capital. He is an anglophile who knows the restaurants of Chelsea even better than I. Despite the Finland original focus, the bedrock of this virtual event is a TV Studio in West London, and the biggest beneficiaries of this event may well be the domestic UK NHS. It is a journey for both of them.

What HIMSS says about itself is you can expect a “Powerful 5-day virtual experience facilitating partnerships and collaborations for digital healthcare transformation; a Unique combination of live, and “simulive” and on-demand sessions, with the opportunity to participate in live polling and Q&A throughout. Plus an Interactive, robust chat and networking capabilities that will allow you to connect with your peers and solution providers, with an unrivalled opportunity to pitch, profile and connect with key industry stakeholders”.

If there is a major and standout difference from earlier years or indeed other events organisations – it is the 3D Exhibit floor; the Lobby (see our image above) – and the virtual networking. HIMSS has been preparing for this sort of virtual reality for some years, even since the days of Steve Lieber – and you can say that COVID has been a wake up call – but looking back, it has been obvious that this is a way of interfacing that makes sense if done properly. The TV and “games” look and feel of the Lobby equals anything redolent of PS2 entertainment.

We are looking forward to the mix of protagonists as much as the Speaker advice. No doubt see you there.

GDPR. Seven essential data protection measures for Startups and Companies

The Uniscon company in Munich has sent us this timely and important warning note that – sure, our office is our home, is our kitchen, is our bedroom – but it is also the least secure of any aspect of our company data.  In the same way as Wifi based home appliances are a gateway into our personal data – so our corporate laptop on the kitchen table is the same, into our company. They set out what you need to look for;

Digital transformation of the economy has opened up many new doors for cybercriminals. Companies must take appropriate measures to protect themselves and the data of their employees, customers and partners. But what do they need to consider?

Most of the provisions of the German Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) boil down to a simple requirement: those responsible must guarantee the security of sensitive data. Violations can quickly become expensive: In the case of particularly serious data protection violations, the GDPR provides for fines of up to €20 million or up to 4% of the total annual turnover achieved worldwide (see Art. 83 GDPR). Following we present seven essential data protection measures for companies.

1. Compliance assessment
Compliance—this is, the observance of laws and regulatory requirements—affects all companies, but to different degrees. Depending on the industry, additional guidelines may apply in addition to GDPR and BDSG, for example, in the field of competition or financial law.

2. Risk assessment
As a next step, companies should carry out a risk assessment. After all, the more sensitive the data that is to be collected and/or processed, the more elaborated the measures to protect it must be. Assessments of this kind often require the support of a data protection officer.

3. Encryption
It goes without saying that sensitive data must be encrypted both during transmission and storage[1]. Sufficiently encrypted data is considered secure per se; even if data is lost, it cannot be read or recovered by attackers without the appropriate key.

4. Pseudonymization
All information that would help identify the user is removed. For example, the names of persons are replaced by randomly generated character strings. This way, the useful data remains but it no longer contains sensitive information.

5. Access controls
Introducing access controls into your company’s workflow is also an efficient method of minimizing the risk. The fewer people have access to the data, the lower the risk of accidental or deliberate data damage or loss.

6. Backups
Backups can help to prevent data loss due to user error or technical failure. They should be created and updated regularly. While regular backups add costs to your business, potential business disruptions are usually far more costly.

7. Deletion
Under the GDPR, companies are obliged to delete the data that they do not need (see art. 5 and art. 17). Consequently, companies need to draw up an appropriate deletion concept. Depending on the type of data, this concept should also specify deletion periods and durations.

“Ultimately, companies must decide, whether they take appropriate measures themselves or use the services of third-party providers specializing in data protection and data security”, says Ulrich Ganz, Director Software Engineering at TÜV SÜD’s subsidiary uniscon. “Depending on the industry, the size of the company and the type of data collected and/or processed, this can save costs and simplify processes. For example, if companies use certified services, they can prove that they already fulfill their control and due diligence obligations as required by law”. This allows companies to concentrate on their core business—and leave data protection to the experts.

Do Virtual Conferences Work?

We review the latest CX Conference from the team at IQPC London, and ask; who needs hotels when you can join in from your own bedroom?

It’s not quite what it  seems. And it may not be a case of “either/OR”…. Angela Johnson, Speaker at past Data conferences, messaged us to say that “she likes to do both, as  both have relevance”. So that’s clear then; you get a lot from just listening to Speakers and delegate questions online, from the sanctity off your office desk or home study; and you get the benefit of impromptu conversations and competitor information, from the essential face/face conference format that we all know.

But life is different now. The Virtual Conference by necessity, will become the de rigeur essential format for any conference company from, now on, for two reasons. First, conference companies have to survive, and there remains an appetite from interested corporates in accessing experience and information, even if remotely. And second – this is too good an opportunity for additional revenues, at a time when all of us are increasingly habitualised into doing everything from our homes. Why travel to a conference, when we don’t even travel any more to our own office? Ha!

The trick, is to bring together the same expert elements, regardless. And this Telco CX, Customer Experience, event, – does not disappoint.

Speakers from some of the world’s most well known corporates, including BT, T-Mobile, and delegates from equally visible brands, exchange questions and answers.

At a time when my home WIFI is intermittent at best, I found the technology to bring people together, was seamless; I had easy access from my MacBook to the presentation screens, I could hear the speakers responses. And if I popped out to walk my dog, or make a cup of tea – well, I could always go online tomorrow and revisit the whole thing.

This conference, despite its apparent customers focus – was designed around the technology to deliver benefit, or the corporate process for delivering a consumer success. It differed from earlier events, which tended to be more HR oriented.

But unlike the more conventional personal conferences, I found that there are no distractions. You log onto a Virtual conference for a reason, and I found myself listening intently to each speaker.

I missed the opportunity to chat to vendors – but I saw this as a work in progress. There are substantial avenues for Content delivery and vendor outreach and I am sure that IQPC will be developing that in due course. I have already registered for the next one in May.