A Star for Our Times

We interview Rachel Oyawale, the new face at English National Opera, to see first hand how this mesmerising and inspirational young lady has captured the attention of the opera musical world in London and beyond

I am sitting downstairs in their bar area at ENO on a warm Saturday afternoon and Rachel Oyawale suddenly arrives.

She is fresh, bright, smiling, just like her public photos but more relaxed, totally open. She is eager to talk, to communicate the passion that so evidently drives her but not in that egotistical way of so many. There is no ego here. This is a young lady who has found her dream, by chance – but it is a dream nonetheless that has become reality. Rachel Oyawale is the embodiment of the ENO dream as much as her own; the reaching out and giving the social benefit of opera, to the many young people who are unaware of its existence.

We climb the carpeted stairs and finally reach the top floor where there is some peace away from the waiting audience for a show below – and then we talk.

We talk about everything. Opera for the many; ENO and young people; the difficulty for young people to find an entry point; black people in a white world, even now; thank God for ENO Baylis; Porgy and Bess; La Boheme – where it first started – and so on. There is no stopping. Rachel is supremely eloquent, about to take up a degree offer at Cambridge, but this is no intellectual conversation per se. This is the use of words, the search for the right way to express Rachel’s passion for what she knows she loves.

My colleague Amelia Grace, the young 15 year old blogger from Hull, sits opposite – two young women on a similar trajectory, just a few years apart.

And so we talk about background. From a single parent family, living the normal life of so many in South East London, this is not the start you would expect to find the embryo of an opera singer. And it happens by accident. The coincidental remark by school teachers at 14yrs old – “hey you sing rather well!” – to the visit, instigated by Rachel’s mum – to see La Boheme, at Covent Garden – and the light-bulb moment where it all comes together; not just the fusion of art and life in music – but the moment where you know – you just know – that this is what you want to do.

And the coincidental, at that moment, availability of the last place at ENO Baylis for their Young Person entry programme – the mentoring by her older peers, and the sense of “family” that ENO is so good at, that have all slotted into place – and that have left a mark that is the foundation of where Rachel sees her opera process going.

I first saw Rachel by chance as well – at the recent ENO Gala Performance where she picked up The Lilian Baylis Award for Outstanding Potential. And yet this does not seem accidental.

I ask Rachel is there some sort of future structured plan; she is not sure, but I am sure there has to be; she says “I have made so many friends at ENO that I do hope I can continue to mix my degree course with my opera singing”.

In so many ways, Rachel is a woman for our times – at not even twenty years old, but with a strong sense of where women in general can achieve.

We leave the opera house and find the lounge bar in the St Martins Hotel just next door. We sip a Gin Tonic appropriately called a “Don Giovanni”.

“Yep, that touches the spot”, she says.

A woman for our times indeed.

A full version of the Rachel Oyawale Interview is soon online at; http://www.profomedia.uk

Care On Our Own Terms

As Kaveh Safavi of Accenture continues his annual look at our global healthcare, we look at the changes that healthcare providers have to face up to, and ask – what are they afraid of?

Fear manifests itself in a number of ways. The traditional route in surgeries and hospitals, is to stick to the status quo. Nobody gets fired for doing what they always did. or to put it more directly – burying one’s head in the sand. As said above, nobody gets fired for being myopic.

I “get” that fear of the unknown, is relevant. But fear of what we already have, and which the public are increasingly demanding – should be a wake up call. The question is, – is fear of progress created by simple lack of understanding.

People that know about these things in UK NHS Management, tell me that “the NHS will be fully digitalised within the next 20 years”. This is both 20 years too late, and also misunderstands what we mean by digitalisation, and what you and I increasingly demand from our healthcare providers.

For a start, just about all of us in possession of our Apple Watch, our Smart mobile – are already capable of managing our own health and scary symptoms, in real time, online, thanks very much, from the comfort of our armchair. When we call our Doctor, phone our hospital – we already have the data, personally and as consumers, of our own health situation. And moving on – as patients, we do not need the large corporate AI to automate the personal data that our hospital does not yet have. What we need, is the immediate link between our personal way of life, and people who know how to treat us at a place called a hospital, when we get sick.

So when Kaveh Safavi, Health spokesman at Accenture – says in his recent Seminar at HIMSS Europe – that patients are now increasingly moving away from traditional routes to health provision – he is sounding a warning bell. And he has the global numbers to prove it.

What he says is, – is that trad primary care is in decline. In the years 2013-2017, use of virtual access to healthcare, rose in the USA by some 200%. Already, in the UK, some 33% of the population go online to access our healthcare provider, at least once per year. In Finland, some 67% of the population would gladly get their healthcare access online – if only the infrastructure was there to do so.

But interestingly, – what Kaveh eloquently also says is – this is no cause for alarm. It is simply that, as patients and that dreaded word “consumers”, we are making lifestyle choices. It is not a case of “either/or”. Or “A or B”. It is a multiple choice of A-B-C-D-E, and these choices are based on what is the best availability of the healthcare that we need, that fits our lifestyle. So, if we prefer to drop in to a walk in clinic at our train station en route to the office – so be it,- as long as they have access to our data. Some regions are already recognising this Scénario. In Spain, some 33% of the population go online for virtual healthcare, and a further 83% prefer a retail environment to get primary care access.

This means two things; first – if we believe that prevention is better than cure, then investment and recognition needs to go into the provision of consumer based services. As said above, the growth of smart phone solutions means we are all doctors now. And that second, there is nothing to fear from a mix of healthcare provision at our local hospital. You could argue that the relevance for a hospital will increasingly be the provision of every level of walk in service, in the same way that supermarkets in Sweden offer walk in healthcare.

I’m sure Steve Jobs did not envisage the tangential App development in our personal lives, when Apple launched the iPhone all those years ago. But we live in a real world. And if you are reading this article on your ipad as you travel to work – well, that wasn’t too scary now, was it?

Managing Energy has never been more important.

We look at the upcoming Future of Utilities: Smart Metering Update 2019 conference on Smart Metering of Energy and ask – why has it taken so long?

In brief – this topic has been discussed and received focus – for the past five years even to our knowledge. But in those earlier halcyon days, small interruptions such as hacking and global warming were but twinkles in our eyes. Nowadays of course – things have changed. As my colleague at a Cyber Security company in Israel tells me – “there are two types of smart meter; those that have been hacked and nobody knows it; and those that are hacked and everybody knows it”. And for sure everybody knows about global warming.

So the upcoming Conference from Marketforcelive, in central London this June, is timely. This is the latest and important opportunity for leaders in the Energy space, to sit down and say – how are we controlling access to the flow of energy, both remotely and at source. Saving energy has been defined as the secret sauce of modern energy management, We are not as naive as before.

Whereas before, delegates that subscribed tended to come from the pure data and tech environments and talked in a language that you or I could not understand – nowadays, this Conference will attract the commercial leaders and all those on the peripherals. Energy control is essential big business in a world where such is the reach of media, we are all experts now.

With an impressive Speaker List – we expect “Future of Utilities: Smart Metering Update 2019”,to become a Forum for exchange of ideas that are proven and that work, a significant development from other Conferences in the past that were merely talking shops.

The Conference takes place on the 18th June; go visit it at; http://bit.ly/2wGAiqZ. our longer report will follow shortly after.

Making Better Business Decisions is not Accidental

You would be foolish to run your business without a Plan, without a RoadMap, without guidance. This is prevalent of everyone asking for advice – but nobody taking it. Kayla Chiara of the Dimensional Insight company, writes to us to say that, whilst the growth of BI is slower than everyone expected – nevertheless the need is still paramount, and that her company can help. Here’s what she says; we publish her eloquent announcement:

Dimensional Insight®, the maker of Diver Platform™,  one of the leading data management and analytics solution vendors, today announced its strong showing for the 10th straight year in Dresner Advisory Services’ annual Wisdom of Crowds® Business Intelligence Market Study. In this year’s study, Dimensional Insight saw increased performance in several key measures, and it maintained its perfect “recommend” score.

The annual Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study surveys users across geographies, functions, organization sizes, and vertical industries. Users are asked questions about business intelligence trends, as well as questions about 27 specific vendors on 33 different criteria.

In this year’s report, Dimensional Insight was noted for its scores that remained “well above the overall sample in 2019.” The company was also an “overall leader” in the two market models included in the report, placing in the top right corner of each. The Customer Experience model plots sales and service scores on the X-axis with product/technology scores on the Y-axis. The Vendor Credibility model plots a value score on the X-axis with a confidence score on the Y-axis.

In addition, Dimensional Insight was noted for being “best in class for sales product knowledge, product customization and extensibility, consulting experience and continuity, and overall integrity.” The company also had a perfect recommend score.

“We congratulate Dimensional Insight for its strong scores over the past 10 years of the study,” says Howard Dresner, president, founder, and chief research officer of Dresner Advisory Services. “The vendor ratings are based solely on the voice of the customer, and, based on this assessment, Dimensional Insight continues to provide significant value and satisfaction to its customers.”

“At Dimensional Insight, our customers are the focal point of everything we do, and helping them deliver real results to their organization is paramount,” says Fred Powers, president and CEO of Dimensional Insight. “These scores reflect our customer-centric values and we’d like to thank our users for their continued support of our company.”

To learn more about the Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study, you can download a copy at http://www.dimins.com/awards/dresner-report-2019/.

Healthcare. How to make AI work for You.

We look at the constant hype surrounding this overblown topic and ask; can it deliver for you?

On the basis of what we have seen – probably not. Although according to multiple independent reports “When it comes to healthcare AI, the UK is the powerhouse of Europe” – there are conflicting statements by  UK Government saying that “dealing with the NHS remains challenging”. And looking at a recent statements from others,  the evidence from startups and those tech companies who are at the forefront of developing new AI based solutions, take up is small, and there is  “little benefit to the value proposition”, from using AI per se. So there is a conflict between commercial take up – and perception of relevance.

What is worse, is that we are already seeing one hospital terminate their digitalisation journey, because – as one clinical Consultant told me – “it just doesn’t work”. 

The reasons  it “doesn’t work”  are many and varied, but largely fall into two camps,  first of which  is because the introduction of AI or Digitalisation, is not an IT or Tech discussion. It is a business process discussion. It is an HR and best use of people, discussion. If it remains easier to flip the paper pages of a file to see someone’s latest notes – then that is what it is.  But also – the announcement of a single IT decision point of the new NHSX quango, is itself a misnomer. At the upcoming Digital Health Conference, focussing on the new NHSX facility – there are no less than six Decision Makers all involved in the decision making process

So… what are the practical steps that you need to take, to get the best out ofAI based new technology?

1. Understand and create a Roadmap, of what you want to get out of this process? If it is simply to shore up your existing practices, then forget it.

2. Know which areas you  wish to include – both from a data access point of view, and also groups of people.  The more groups involved, the worse it will be.

3. Understand that what works for one hospital, may probably not work for you. Make clear choices about solutions that can deliver a specific benefit.

4. Do not engage in Trials.  AI data management is not a clinical discussion, and the algorithms used are already proven. You are already good to go.

5. Have milestones of progress. 

6. And only when you have all of the above written on a piece of paper – then involve your IT people.

You may well now find that the money you had previously allocated for something nebulous, will indeed deliver when broken down into manageable practical specifics.

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New Faces in International Healthcare

We look at the new faces in healthcare promotion, and ask; why aren’t the old ones keeping up?

It cannot be a surprise to anyone that the new kids on the block, and who are bringing a whole empire of new digital medical tools to the market – is China. Not only are we seeing – every week – an announcement from the elder statesmen of HIMSS Asia about their presence in Shanghai – but the most compelling and forceful marketing piece comes from Yolanda Li, at the CMEF Trade Fair in just a few days – also in Shanghai. What she says is this:

“The China International Medical Equipment Fair (CMEF) was launched in the year 1979. It has now become one of the world’s leading global integrated service platforms in the value chain of medical devices, covering products and technology, new product launches, procurement and trade, scientific collaboration, academic forums, brand promotion, education and training. The fair widely covers more than ten thousand products, including medical optical and electro-medical devices, smart health-care and wearable equipment, and services including medical imaging, medical examination, in-vitro diagnostics and hospital construction. More than 7,000 medical device manufacturers from over 30 different countries and regions have annually exhibited their products and services with us at the CMEF. For trading and exchanging of medical products and services, about 2,000 specialists and talents and almost 200,000 visitors and buyers including government procurement agencies, hospital buyers and dealers from over 100 countries and regions gather at the CMEF.

What you could get from the CMEF Spring 2019:

1.An optimal opportunity to be exposed to one of the largest medical devices showcase with well-known exhibitors and their new production release;

2.The best chance to look into rapid-growing Chinese medical devices market, knowing the latest technology and tendency;

3.Meeting industrial experts on various conference and our CMEF Featured Country Day activities.

And she goes on….“Please visit our official website for the 81st CMEF Spring latest floorplan, completed exhibitor list, onsite activities and conference:
https://www.cmef.com.cn/g1225.aspx”

This compares with the latest Announcement from the VITALIS people in Gothenburg, regarding their own Conference just a week later.

Except that… I read with great interest, the announcement from Yolanda, – because it was in English. The VITALIS editorial, was in Swedish – and I brushed over this. I have no idea what they are saying.

The point of which is twofold; if you are serious about international, then it has to be in English. Doing local language says just that – you are local end of story. And as a Brit, writing on these pages – let’s not forget the importance that the “british language” has in the world.

Conception and Reality

We explore the magic at the Fertility Fusion Clinic in North West UK, and see how their Team create success for their patients.

The conversation is already ten minutes old – before the flood gates open.

The young lady, in her mid thirties, has been biting her tongue for some moments before there is the first visible welling in her eyes. The girls at Fertility Fusion are experienced in softly opening a dialogue but time is not on their side. They have to get to the point. Like so many couples, this elegant woman has travelled for more than three hours to attend this Conference, for her moment of discussion with people who can make a difference, because for her too – time is not on her side. The Fertility Fusion clinical manager, a younger lady – gently steers the woman away to somewhere quieter;
“Let’s have a chat”. She says.


For most people, the magic of conception is clouded and clothed in happy images, of intangibles, of Storks, or “twinkles in eyes”. This only serves to accentuate the feeling of disappointment when for so many women and men – it just doesn’t work out. Whole relationships crumble under this augmented pressure. Couples that attend a fertility conference are brave and are there for a reason.

Fertility is big business. At a time when CCGs are increasingly walking away from IVF financing, the “fertility” industry has been quietly growing and expanding, with a plethora of contradictory information, all aimed at couples who are emotionally ready to part with large sums of money to whichever expert reaches out to them.

The Fertility Fusion approach is noticeably different. First – there is no discussion of money – in fact the opposite. Once the opening scene-setting has been established – “where are you at the moment?” – the clinicians look at what NHS funding is indeed available. For some couples, this is an issue, and whilst Fertility Fusion might indeed be in the business of delivering dreams, we are now at the practical end of the discussion, almost in reverse from what people expect.

Couples need their hand held. The girls at Fertility Fusion patiently explore the clinical options – and are straight and to the point. Couples need to know factually their options, and if this involves bad news, there is no value in hiding that. Individuals need to be told the dangers of their lifestyle. For some patients – they would prefer to be in denial. The Team at Fusion are years experienced in this fine balancing act of how to deliver information.

And this translates into measurable success stories. Fusion Fertility is currently the most successful of regional clinics, and couples and individuals come form across the UK to be treated.

On the opening conference day when I was there – there is a steady trickle and then a flow, of couples, of same sex partners, of single women, of confused men. And I am a guy, a voyeur – a disinterested onlooker, from a distance. For these discussions at heart, are woman to woman.

The men shake my hand warmly at the end of their discussions with the Fertility Fusion team – even though I have done nothing and neither have they. They want to be involved but they do not know how to. Shaking my hand gives them a value.

I have to leave to get my train. My daughter calls me; “Can I borrow your Volvo?”. I love my Volvo – but this is not the time to get picky. “Yes of course dear; I filled it up last night”.

I am a lucky guy.

Fertility Fusion can be contacted at; fertilityfusion.co.uk