One HealthTech was established in the UK in December 2015 from a small Meetup event on a rainy winter evening. Since then, we’ve come a long way…
We believe that innovation in health technology is not accessible to everyone. We also believe in the power of human networks and communities to drive change, and that every voice should be heard so that technology can positively impact us all.
To be the platform that ignites and supports the most dynamic and inclusive health technology communities, that are local to you, and global for all. We aim to achieve this by celebrating and promoting the extraordinary talents and remarkable work that women and people from diverse backgrounds are achieving in innovation. We inspire, support and champion greater inclusivity in future health, because without ensuring diversity from the Board all the way to the frontline, the healthtech industry will never reach its full potential.
To catalyse a truly open, inclusive, accessible and diverse culture for the best future of healthcare.
What we do
One HealthTech brings together doers, thinkers and trailblazers to change the face of future healthcare. The community is free to join as we feel our resources and the opportunities we provide should be as accessible as possible.
We are community builders, and do this through a range of activities:
We host and curate events, covering topics from virtual reality, mental health and interoperability, to leadership, data privacy and social care. These range from breakfast gatherings or lunchtime fireside chats, to evening Meet-ups. We are a present at all major national conferences, hosting networking drinks, organizing information sessions, or putting on weird and wonderful Collaborathons (a non-technical hackathon).
We negotiate discounts to external health technology events for the community, provide business and legal support for SMEs, promote interesting professional opportunities, introduce potential mentors and mentees to one another, broker new business connections and spread the news and activities of our community, their organisations and the causes they support, from profiling unique and varied members, to showcasing a Startup of the Month.
Our community comes from many different sectors and industries and includes:
~45% NHS and of the remaining 55% is made of mostly SMEs and corporates, with representation also from academia and the voluntary sector.
Of our membership approximately 5% are speakers and/or contributors to our content and events. These speakers range from industry experts to extraordinarily impressive junior subject matter experts. One HealthTech gives our members and potentially staff from your organisation, the opportunity to share a platform with the best and unique subject matter experts and influential people within the healthtech environment.
Our community is geographically spread with the largest concentrations being in London. We have thriving hubs in Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle with a constant demand for new hubs, nationally and internationally.
All hubs are led by local community builders, passionate about digital health in their region.
Why do we need One HealthTech?
Whilst the focus, initiatives and narrative around “women-in-technology” and “women-in-leadership” in health have had considerable impact in raising awareness and addressing their respective challenges, these two strands have developed in parallel. There is now a need for us to establish a new narrative.
Health is in the midst of a major disruption, driven by an exponential growth in pace, scale and complexity of technology. Developments in digital and technology are driving new ways of thinking, creating a means by which more individuals can take ownership of their own health and redesigning models of care. Exciting innovations in hyped-technologies including advances from Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, robotics, genetics and biotechnology are paving a new road to our future population’s health.
Too few of the technology roles across the NHS and the wider health and life science sector are filled by women (47% of the general workforce are female, yet only 16% of IT specialists are women) and this stark under-representation is indicative of the considerable wider diversity gap emerging in what will be a future healthcare system. With considerable challenges to be faced by the NHS and the wider healthcare sector, it is essential to highlight and reflect on the need for diverse leadership and the value better diversity and inclusion can provide in establishing an effective and equitable health system, increasingly driven by technological innovations.
Give us a little more detail about what your day job involves?
My team and I are working with Health and Care communities to help deliver their digital ambitions and, in turn, help transform the system we all care so much about. Whether it be delivering shared care record programmes, enabling PHRs, designing STP digital strategies or helping implement national systems the ultimate aim is clear. To help the Health & Care system get the very best from the digital age.
And "by night"? (What other projects are your involved in?)
I do a bit of work for NHS Digital helping them to successfully engage with local delivery functions, I am Chair of the BCS Health & Care Executive and hope to help them drive forward support for professionalising the CIO & CCIO professions. Lastly, I am still the Programme Director for Connecting Care, the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) Interoperability programme. Whatever else I do in my career, getting the 17 organisations in this community to work together on one digital programme will always be my proudest moment 🙂
Give us a brief background on your education and professional career so far
Leaving my home town of Crewe in 1987, I graduated from Lancaster University with a 2:1 Geography degree in 1990 before joining the NHS as an Information Analyst in 1991. I studied a bit of epidemiology at Uni so was drawn to a career in the NHS. I did a part-time MSc in Health Information in the mid-1990s whilst taking on my first team leader type roles. In the early 2000's I was offered the chance to head up an embryonic 'Avon IM&T Consortium' and spent 10 happy years building & growing this shared service, culminating in our NHS 'Team of the Year' award in 2010. I have always sought to learn along the way doing a number of CIO and Leadership courses alongside the on-the job training. Having a healthy attitude to CPD and an inherent thirst for new knowledge is definitely an attribute I cherish. Latterly, I have worked for SCW CSU whilst somehow balancing a portfolio of roles at local and national level
What drew you to health innovation?
It might sound cheesy but I am driven by two things: A sense of public service and a need to make a difference. I enjoy the altruistic pay-off I get from working in a industry where we have a chance to serve society. I like waking up each morning and knowing that what we do has the power to make people's lives better. Its a noble cause and one we should enjoy. Beyond that, the technology space is still the great unchartered waters of the health & care sector, the one space we have to truly explore, to master and to conquer. The opportunity is there for us all to see, but we have to truly exploit it for the benefit of the people we service. Being a tiny cog in the machine that makes this a reality is a rewarding venture I'd say 🙂
What’s your favourite healthtech innovation/start up at the moment and why?
Pretty much anything that transfers the control into the hands of the very people we are here to serve, its the future. For example, I adore the world of Personal Health Records because we are finally empowering the public, our patients and their families, with the kind of tools and information to allow them to control their care. The evidence that is beginning to emerge from the work in Southampton and other places is really exciting. Not just the style, content and design of the apps themselves, but more the patient empowerment we are seeing as a result. This is truly transformational.
Who has been the biggest inspiration for the field for you recently?
Bob Wachter & Keith McNeil & Joe McDonald & Annie Cooper - In other words, clinicians who can see the value digital can bring, understand the complexity in making digital success a reality, have respect for the technical professionals who make it a reality but, moreover, have the gravitas, skilled voices and public platform to convince politicians, strategists and funders to invest, emotionally and financially, in our cause. These people are creating the ground for us to be successful
What technology trends excite you right now?
Hmm...not sure I ever get that excited by technology, I am far more interested in what we can do with it. I guess as a former analyst I am most excited about the development of real-time analytics and the ability to support our clinical and commissioning decision-makers with far more sophisticated and insightful information than they have had before. Other industries like retail, travel and banking have been transformed by this kind of technology, its time health & care was too.
What is the most challenging part of working in this sector?
Its complex, I mean really complex. Folks outside the NHS have this very simplistic view of one big entity whereas the reality inside is massively more complex than that. 1000s of organisations running, 10s of thousands of projects involving millions of people and costing billions of pounds. The sheer scale of the machine we are all part of is nigh on impossible to comprehend. This scale can be overwhelming at times and it is certainly a constant challenge to work out how best to have a positive impact.
Have you had any NEGATIVE personal experiences where being from an underrepresented group has been challenging?
Hell yeah - I think the IM&T space (as we used to be known) has always been seen as a black sheep of the health & care family. High profile digital failures in the 1990s followed by the underachievement and negative press for NPfIT have done little to create a positive environment. Only latterly have we seen this change. The impact personally has often been to feel like a lone voice promoting an agenda that is not getting wide support. Its been a real slog at times. I have even suffered the 'northerner in the south' thing a few times and had one boss suggest I get elocution lessons!! Who'd have through working class northerners could be a minority group!! I often feel the positive change we have begun to see in recent years is a personal vindication for the years of struggle beforehand.
Have you had any POSITIVE personal where being from an underrepresented group has been beneficial?
Oh yes, plain speaking can have its moments too. It took me a while to realise that I was once invited to attend a Board meeting once a month for the 'plain speaking northerner' interventions I brought rather then any kind of digital expertise. The CEO at the time had a very political group and just occasionally they needed some straight talking and apparently I had that in spades 😉 Its more than that though, I do think the digital community have a set of skills around planning and delivery you do not always see in the wider health & care system, and so any 'plain speaking' had a depth of planning and delivery behind it too.
What has been the hardest thing about breaking into the innovation/technology space?
I am not sure breaking in is the hardest thing so much as breaking out. The danger of working in the digital space is that you get pigeon holed as the go to 'techie' and less vlaued int he wider debates. Whereas, to be truly effective in a digital role y7ou really have to udnerstand and appreciate the wider health & care sector. Getting folks outside to take you seriously when you talk about these topics from a digital perspective is the harder challenge.
Do you consciously think about building a diverse team and how we can do better to attract and retain different types of people? If so, please elaborate
Yes, its a high priority for me. Many years ago my IM&T Shared Service undertook a Equality and Diversity review. The results were relatively pleasing but still managed to highlight a few concerns, but moreover, sparked a highly energised and enthusiastic debate within the senior team. From then on we have sought to find ways to ensure our equality and diversity is maintained and developed openly recognisining the value a wide range of backgrounds can bring to a successful team
Have networks and/or mentors been important in getting you where you are today? If so, please elaborate
Networks are vital. They are the route to success and delivery. Sure you need to have the key capaobilites, the ability to lead, the ability to define a vision or manage a team etc, but the reality is that you get stuff done through your network. These folks are your teachers, your mentors, your support and your friends. Without a strong network around you then you can feel alone, adrift and without direction. I would advise anyone to spend as much time cultiavting and mamanging their network as they do on building their core skill base.
How do you view diversity in the health technology space right now? What do you think is good and what do you think can be improved on?
We probably have some way to go but are on the right track. The mere fact we are even having this debate and able to recognise the issues is tanbgible evidnece that we 'get it' and are willing to do something about it. That is not the same in all other industries. We still have a ways to go, but I think we can be proud of our efforts to date.
What is most important to you in being an ambassador or role model to others?
Honestly - I want to get to the end of my career and know that those coming along behind will have a clearer path to follow, will have steps and milestones with supporting initiatives laid out for them, will have a sense of being part of a profession. Being an ambassador allows me to express this desire publicly, to find like minded colleagues and together to turn ambition into reality
What has been the most important factor to build a good support system to keep you going?
The Black Horse, North Nibley!!
Who has been your biggest role model and why? (Who is your inspiration in the field and why?)
When I was 2 1/2 years into my career, just married and with first baby on the way I was put on redundancy notice as I entered my first (of many) NHS reorganisation. The SHA I worked for was being abolished. I managed to land a secondment into the emerging Bristol & District Health Authority working for David Prothero, their Head of IM&T. David was, is and will always be the most inspiring person I will ever work with. His quiet unassuming manner combined with diligent pursuit of improvement, relentless hard work and ceaseless support for his team was somehting to behold. My career changed the day I went to work for David and I know I was very lukcy to have him supporting me. I want to make this the norm for youngstaers starting out on their digital health & care careers, not the exception.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone starting off their career?
Take your development seriously. People will suppport and nurture you along the way, but the only person that is your driving force is you. If you believe, work hard, manage your network, exploit your natural talents and 'learn' at every opportunity then you can go as far as you want to, believe me because I have!!
What has been your motivation through your career?
We are amongst the most priveleged people in the UK workforce. We get to come to work and do interesting, cerebrally challenging, innovative things that ultimately help people in our woder society at their most vulnerable times of life. That is a privelege and if you are not motivated by that then you are in the wrong sector.
What personal qualities do attribute most to your success?
Modesty forbids and all that but if I had to single out anything then I would say I am pretty determined and dont give up easily, so anyone saying 'no' tends to act as a spur to find more effort rather than put me off 🙂
What do you do to unwind?
Get away from people in my walking boots amongst mountains and views, watch my football team (Crewe Alexandra) and drink a beer or two in the infamous Black Horse, North Nibley 🙂
What is one strange fact about you that no one could have guessed?
I can tap dance to pretty high standard, I make leadlight windows in my spare time, take your pick 🙂
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What was your first ever job?
Cleaning the lorry for the Carona man
What is your guilty pleasure?
John Wayne westerns.....not so much 'guilty' but a bit tragic if you ask my family
What is your best productivity tip?
Stop work when you are tired. Productivity results from energy so stop, rest and go again.