Jenny Zhou, London Hub volunteer, shares her thoughts about the IWD London event
In honour of International Women's Day on March 8th, One HealthTech gathered healthtech leaders to speak about the future of health innovation in the UK and the role women play in making it happen. This was a night to reflect, to plan, and to dream -- a good opportunity to think ‘Dayum, we girls done gooood’ and ‘How do we keep the ball rollin’?’
Hosted at the Digital Catapult, the evening started with a high-decibel conversation, during which 100+ attendees shared with each other what they would tell their 18-year-old selves. One of the great things about the evening was that a few of the attendees would be thinking about their future 18-old-selves. The age range of audience members was a true reminder that the future of healthtech is something all generations should help to shape.
The keynote speaker of the night, Sarah Wilkinson, CEO of NHS Digital, started off the evening with an overview of her pathway to NHS Digital, highlighting the twists and challenges that have made her stronger. She wants to help change perceptions like “work/life balance is bound to be worse” for women in senior positions. Sarah set a couple of challenges for everyone:
1) ‘Be knowledgeable’ -- stay educated and invest in yourself
2) ‘Be bold’ -- when a door of opportunity opens, go through it.
As for the NHS? The NHS will also have to be knowledgeable and bold, using data and tech to deliver transformation healthcare.
The second part of the evening was a fast-paced conversation about the issues facing the UK healthtech sector in the years to come and what is happening now to tackle them.
Manpreet Bains, the chair of the evening and GP and advisor at Imperial College Health Partners, led the conversation straight to some of the most challenging issues and most promising solutions currently available. As we continue to develop technologies, we must consider whole patient pathways and not just single points of care.
Neelam Patel, Chief Operating Officer at MedCity, highlighted a pain point relevant to much of the audience -- the mammogram (an instrument of torture!) -- has alternatives, and we must consider if the way we’ve always done things is actually the best way for the future.
Kath Mackay, Interim Deputy Director Health & Care at Innovate UK, reminded us that indeed ‘the future is here, but it’s not yet evenly distributed’.
Hakim Yadi, CEO at Northern Health Science Alliance, shared that there are surprising health inequalities that persist today; as a couple of examples, ‘People who live in Belgravia are expected to have 30 years more of healthy life expectancy than someone who lives in Blackpool’ and ‘The BSJ reported that 1 million more northerners have died than southerners from health issues’.
Jenny Thomas, Programme Director at DigitalHealth.London Accelerator suggested that, while historically more investment has gone into research than the adoption of new technologies, perhaps things should change.
Ultimately, there is a persistent need for diverse collaboration that keeps in mind the actual needs of communities and tackles whole pathways. Seek role models and give back, it’s important now and for our future! In order to serve diverse populations, we must make sure that reach out and work together.