NHS innovation expo

I was really impressed by the innovation expo event last week. Enough
to warrant a more complete posting, to cover the main points:

1. Why does social care appear to be the poor cousin to health care? I
attended a great talk by David Behan, Director General of Social Care
where he frightened everyone with demographics (the rate at which we
can keep people alive longer is outpacing the rate we can keep them
healthy longer), expectation (baby boomers aren't going into care
homes quietly) and technology (where he basically said WTF!). All in
all it was a brilliant call to arms, to defuse a service timebomb, but
his frustration was palpable. Very few had read his centrepiece
document, so he was struggling to have the debate. I'm hoping to speak
to him again soon.

2. Design: it's a chick thing. I couldn't put my finger on what was
different about this conference until it clicked. About 60% of
delegates were women. This made for a different feel to the whole
event. And a few discussions with the other service designers out
there confirmed my suspicion that it's female NHS staff that are spear
heading the growth of service design in the UK. They get it faster and
more intuitively. Which doesn't mean we shouldn't shy away from
converting captains of industry, but useful to know the softer markets.

3. Service design. No really! I sat watching Lord Darzi get laughs
from an audience of 1,000 people as he mapped a typical journey
through the healthcare system. All the to'ing and fro'ing was
ridiculous. All the mistakes tragic and wasteful. But what a great
message to deliver so close to his pubchlubr – "the NHS must innovate
or die." service design was truly centre stage.

And Chief Exec David Nicholson added more the next day, admitting that
the staff had it right all along – it's the patient stupid! Not the
targets. If we chase targets we'll end up in a perversion of
healthcare, aimed less at wellness, and more at box ticking. And as
everyone had got by that stage, that way lies NHS bankruptcy.

4. Tele health. With a father and father in law both ill with long
term conditions, this really interested me. Within about 10 years I'll
be able to monitor the activity and health of ageing relatives on my
laptop and phone, via a host of widgets tracking all sorts of things.
A bit big brother maybe, but a compromise for continued independence.
I'm also really interested in the opportunities this opens for service
designers, taking away some of the environmental restrictions of
hospitals. Add in the ambulances of the future (minor surgery on your
doorstep) and you begin to wonder…

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