Clever People. Important Discussions.

We engage with the very clever people on both sides of the table at the Millenium Hotel London and ask – why do I not understand this?.


The answer is, of course – that I am not meant to understand it. The whole point of working with people who talk in languages and have skillsets that I do not understand – is that on my side – I have competences that are completely unknown and confusing, for them too.

Business depends on the communication of competences across the divide, and this is why every year as ritual, the IQPC Conference on AI, and on Intelligent Automation – has become a must see event, de rigeur. At whatever level of vertical corporate you are – Data and its automated future, are the way things will go for your industry and you need to be ready.

And it’s not that I am stupid. Mark Whitehorn’s discussion on where automated data can take us, was powerful but as a mere marketeer, was deliberately over my head.

But not over everybody’s head; the questions from the floor were equally intellectual and important, and there was a meeting of minds among a whole section of delegates and the speaker of this initial presentation.

As if recognising this small imbalance – Alasdair Anderson stepped up into the Panel and gave the more business focussed view. And this is the secret so to say, of the IQPC Conference; the balance of many views, and the opportunity to meet with one’s peers, from whatever provenance.

If there were two fundamental questions raised and answered, they were; what does it take to implement this stuff? It is ok having the technology, but here has to be a willingness and an understanding to do so.

As one delegate said; “what does it take in terms of incentive, to open the doors of the people who implement and deliver the benefit of, AI?” And from another colleague – a simple question: “Will this technology make the boat go faster?”

As always, the benefit of the IQPC Conference is as much in its casual networking between episodes.

I have to dash for an evening engagement but by mid afternoon delegates are already in deep discussion. There will be more hopeful of the same, next year.


IQPC schedule of similar conferences can be viewed at; http://www.iqpc.co.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?

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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IF A.I. IS SO IMPORTANT… CAN SOMEBODY PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT IT WILL ACTUALLY DO?

We look at some examples of the  new focus in healthcare and ask; really?

The recent announcement of the upcoming HIMSS Impact 2018| Leading Digital Transformation and Big Data in Medicine – conference in Berlin later this year, coincides with an announcement in the uk from the Government, that it is now investing zillions into “AI”, to combat various troublesome diseases.

In theory,  and indeed in reality, a new focus on a different way of  handling patient information, will save time, not necessarily save money, but enable our services to do lots more. And it comes about because there are just too many people, needing too many services. And as one clinical director told me; ‘we can hardly put a new clinic in the hospital car park..”

But  at a time when most Hospitals are still coming to terms about moving from Windows XP, there are three major stumbling blocks, and it is important to spell these out before we all get too excited.

First – if the UK Gov attempts to roll out this Finance in the same way as it has done for previous bjg deals, let’s say such as COGDE or Scan 4 Safety, etc.. then nothing much new will happen at all. Those hospitals that did take up either of the above, have largely  spent money on things they were already doing – so it just became a way of getting finance but not improvement; or they embark on a lengthy process of milestones that alas could have been done cheaper and faster with existing tech in the private sector. 

The result is that those Hospitals that did not make the cut, so to say, have become confused, and do nothing, as opposed to at least try to do “something”. What we have found is that if the management of a hospital wants to advance its healthcare performance, it will do so, regardless of Gov announcements.

Second – AI is not a Hospital process, but a Community process. This means that the data from a patient does not require said patient to come to a clinic or be seen by anybody in a place called a hospital. The data is patient driven and comes from his/her smartphone, his Apple Watch, her Fitbit, etc – without anybody doing anything much. In other words, AI in health is consumer driven,   and there are already plenty of Apps that harness very specialist health data from each and everyone of us, that can already be viewed by our GP or Hospital. The secret to AI health is by increasing patient engagement.

But finally – we need to understand what all this will do to our actual lives. What AI means, is that our diabetes, our heart, our fitness, can be monitored remotely – and we ourselves will take greater ownership of our lifestyle. 

This means that conventional financial models of where money comes from and for what – have to change. The focus will be empowering the community, and paying hospitals to monitor that – rather than get paid only when we physically make a visit.

Because if this does not happen, then health provision will move to pharmacies, etc, who will provide this monitoring for us – and we will pay them money to do so, because it will be immediate and in real time – instead of waiting to see our local GP or clinic appointment.

Which in turn will distance us from the very organisations we already pay money to, to look after us.

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