DHR – one month on, CV-19 accelerates healthtech

Written by Lauren Gill

It is hard to believe that one short month ago, I joined around 2000 other delegates at London’s Olympia for the hot ticket in healthtech – Digital Health Rewired.

At the time, I had planned to share the main takeaways from this key event, but I’ve spent the month since reflecting instead on how the healthtech sector has reacted and been catapulted forward by this once in a generation crisis. What has been the impact of the pandemic on the healthtech sector? What does a decade of digital transformation delivered in a matter of weeks look like?

Breaking down barriers

One of the striking things that came across in many of the sessions at Rewired was a sense of frustration – between clinicians, suppliers and patients alike. The desire to make joined up care a reality is strong – few could argue against the case when a single view of a patient can so clearly lead to them getting the best possible care. But they are grappling with a lack of maturity in the sector, the complexities of unpicking legacy systems and processes, and not being able to find the answers to key questions around privacy, data-sharing and the place for new technologies such as AI.

It seems there is nothing like a global pandemic to sharpen focus. We’ve witnessed interventions from the Government never seen before in peace time, and by proxy a mandate to innovate and do whatever it takes to tackle the virus. New technologies are being fast-tracked through development and deployed at a rate unheard of. In these worrying and uncertain times, the perception of tech has somewhat shifted – no longer eyed with suspicion or concern but embraced as our best hope of bringing COVID-19 and even saving lives.

Unlocking potential and the best in people

Some of our own clients are rising to the huge challenges we are facing as a country. Refero, for example, is offering free usage of its video consultation platform to public sector bodies, including; GP surgeries, NHS Trusts, social care, local government teams and the emergency services.

Servelec, meanwhile, has its EPR and social care case management software operating at the heart of many of the country’s NHS trusts and local authorities. It transitioned its 500 strong workforce to home-working in the space of a week whilst maintaining critical business continuity for its customers. It is also working in partnership with customers to fast-track software developments where they are needed most, rolling out its Assessment, Discharge, Withdrawal solution to streamline and speed up the process of getting patients out of hospital beds and into the social care system, and rapidly deploying mobile solutions so community health and social workers can continue their vital work. And, its headquarters in Sheffield is lit up NHS blue every evening in recognition of the tireless efforts of those on the frontline.

For our own part, we know there are a lot of startup and small healthtech firms keen to help the cause – especially in the GP practice space – and we’re offering them a few hours of our time over the next few months for free. 

Time is of the essence

Should we be worried about repercussions to come? A decade of transformation delivered in the space of weeks surely isn’t without mistakes and collateral damage. I suppose what we’ve all learned so far is that time really is of the essence. Time to re-focus on what is important but also, there’s no time to waste. When we look back on the lessons learned from this unimaginable event in years to come, I hope the speed with which the healthtech sector has reacted is applauded and the sense of urgency is maintained.

Digital Health Rewired 2020

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