UK health technology community shows its weight at EHI Live 2015

EHI Live was a fitting end to the year for health technology; it started slowly at first on the exhibition floor, but then generated a positive buzz about what could be delivered to help the NHS deliver more with less.

Highlights include the launch of the Interoperability Community involving Code4Health and NHS England enterprise architecture lead Indi Singh, the inaugural digital primary care workstream with Masood Nazir, and the sight of the NHS Spine being run on 10 Raspberry Pi devices. There was much to admire in this content-rich event. We are beginning to open our eyes to open APIs.

New entrants such as IMMJ Systems created a buzz with their new user-friendly digital medical record software, and old hands such as Andy Kinnear and the award-winning Connecting Care team showed the art of the possible with technology-enabled integrated care in the South West. Putting people first, and supporting them through technology, can reap dividends.

The presence of the CCIO Network at the event certainly helped. Tech-friendly clinicians are now influencing NHS strategy, though perhaps not to the extent that is achieved in other industries.

Many exhibitors reported favourable impressions, as the appetite for digital increases as the NHS faces the end of local service provider contracts, and a fast-approaching paperless deadline – a target which many felt comfortable achieving. Technology is now front and centre for NHS thinking.

A renewed belief that small is beautiful was also in evidence. As Donald Kennedy of Patientrack noted, SMEs can help deliver high impact projects such as reducing acute kidney injury through digital observations technology. Whilst appropriate in some cases, large, too-big-to-fail technology projects prove a huge risk, as Tim Kelsey noted.

What was clear from the event was the wait ahead.

The health technology community waits to hear the outcome of NHS England’s multi-billion pound bid from the Spending Review on November 25th.

And from there it waits for the ‘probable’ Tech Fund that Beverley Bryant announced.

Crucial too are digital roadmaps that clinical commissioning groups are putting together, and which will cover huge swathes of the NHS market.

These will all be moments that will define how NHS technology will develop over the coming years.

The devil will be in the detail, and you feel that much of the detail will be defined when George Osborne reveals his plans for spending in the days ahead. Lives and livelihoods depend on this.

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