Alexander Rushton on digital health innovation

Can healthcare events save the day?

The UK Health Show takes place at Olympia London on 27 September. Highland Marketing talks to UK Health Show event director and head of healthcare at GovNet Communications, Alexander Rushton, about what’s new and what the show’s survey is likely to reveal about the state of health and social care three years into the Five Year Forward View.

The UK Health Show returns to Olympia London on 27 September. For the second year running, it puts the well-established Healthcare Efficiency through Technology (HETT) event alongside further one-day events, focusing on cyber security, commissioning and procurement.

“We found these were the key areas for commissioners and trusts looking to tackle the big issues facing the NHS,” says organiser Alexander Rushton. “Also, there is a real benefit to visitors in having them co-located.

“People can get information about their own area, see great solutions in action on the exhibition floor and have conversations with sector colleagues they wouldn’t normally meet at events that are focused purely on their own area of responsibility. It’s a great opportunity for networking and for sharing ideas.”

IT and cyber security
HETT has been running since 2011 and has a loyal following. Its plenaries will focus on the next steps in the global digital exemplars programme and on how GDEs can be aligned with the wider sustainability and transformation plan agenda.

Also, on the development of leadership and digital skills, building on the creation of the chief clinical information officer role at acute trusts.

As such, Rushton expects HETT to be a great forum for debating autumn developments that might include further capital funding for the NHS, the announcement of GDE ‘fast followers’, or news about the promised NHS Digital Academy.

However, he acknowledges that the hottest debate may be over at Cyber Security in Healthcare, given the huge increase in interest in cyber security that was triggered by the WannaCry attack in May.

Although the ransomware attack was not aimed at the health service, it affected at least 40 hospitals at 24 trusts; some so badly that they had to close A&E departments or cancel routine work.

“Cyber Security in Healthcare was new event last year, but it has been brought into really sharp focus by WannaCry,” says Rushton. “It is now a significant area that is getting board-level focus. WannaCry has woken people up in timebefore anything even more significant happens.”

Technology runs through the show
Cyber Security in Healthcare will look at what can be learned from the attack and at what health and care organisations can do to protect themselves in the future.

But it will also look at what they should be doing to respond to the government’s decision to accept all the recommendations of Dame Fiona Caldicott’s latest review of information governance and opt-outs, which happened in July.

Organisations will need to implement ten new data security standards and show that both the board and staff are on top of them.

This is one example of another trend that Rushton flags up; that technology is no longer a topic for enthusiasts – something that can be safely left to the IT department – but is, instead, something that increasingly affects boards and staff at all levels.

“We have found that technology has become much more important to our other areas of focus,” he says. “In procurement, for example, the Carter process has changed procurement across the NHS. Its savings can only be achieved by introducing digital catalogues and purchasing processes.

“Plus, of course, it also puts a big emphasis on technology like GS1 UK bar-coding. NHS organisations have really started to get on board with that and we have GS1 UK at the show, to talk about the standards and how they can be used with tracking to make savings and improve quality.

“In the commissioning space, with changing structures and the STPs, which build on local digital roadmaps, IT has become much more important.

“So, on the technology side, the discussion is about leadership, and how the GDEs will work; but on the commissioning side, it is all about how technology can be used day to day to change ways of working.”

Three years into the Five Year Forward View
The STPs are, of course, a response to the Five Year Forward View plan drawn up by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens in October 2014 to close a £30 billion gap between rising demand and costs and flat or falling funding by 2020-21.

The Five Year Forward View requires the NHS to find £22 billion of efficiency savings, from further improvements in productivity, the Carter agenda, and new models for commissioning and providing services.

Slowly but surely, these are supposed to bring in new structures, known as accountable care systems, with a population-based budget to deliver services, move care out of hospitals, and create integrated teams to deliver care “closer to home.”

Last year, the UK Health Show ran a survey among its pre-registered delegates to find out how they thought this huge agenda was going. Just 8% felt the NHS would hit its 2020-21 savings targets. Some 83% felt it would not.

At the same time, the survey found concern that health service performance was slipping. Just 0.5% felt its performance was “excellent” and just 20% felt it was “good”. Almost two thirds (62%) rated it as only “fairly good.”

This year, Rushton says, the UK Health Show will be repeating the exercise. “We will be asking those questions again this year, to see if, one more year into the Five Year Forward View, people are more or less optimistic. The early signs are that they are not, but that does raise the question of what comes next,” he says.

Bringing people together
A matching survey, on cyber security, will assess the mood six months after WannaCry. Last year, 98% of the pre-registered delegates who responded were worried about cyber security and 91% were expecting an increase in attacks.

The 91% were clearly right; but will they think the NHS’ response to the ransomware incident will have left it in a better, or worse, position for the future? Rushton says he’s very much looking forward to finding out and to seeing what other topics come to define the event.

“Last year’s survey showed that people working in health and care still value and believe in the NHS, but think that there are improvements to be made,” he says.

“The UK Health Show aims to support that. Our mission statement is about bringing people together from across the healthcare sector, to promote and improve service delivery, in order to achieve better outcomes. That’s what we are all about.”

About Alexander Rushton:
Alexander Rushton spent his formative years in project management roles with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the Local Government Association, before graduating to leading communications, marketing and events for the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network.

In 2015, he was enlisted as event director by the WHO, Scottish Government and World Hepatitis Alliance to launch the inaugural World Hepatitis Summit, before joining GovNet Communications in 2016 as head of healthcare and event director for the UK Health Show.

About the UK Health Show:
The UK Health Show is the UK’s largest conference and exhibition for senior healthcare professionals and decision makers.

So far, more than 4,500 delegates have registered, drawn from 203 of the 237 NHS trusts, clinical commissioning groups, non-departmental government bodies and local government.

The UK Health Show brings together four shows – Healthcare Efficiency through Technology, Commissioning in Healthcare, Procurement in Healthcare and Cyber Security in Healthcare – under the roof of Olympia London on 27 September. Full information and free registration on the website.

Getting the most out of the UK Health Show:
Last year, Alexander Rushton was interviewed by Highland Marketing about the role of shows in reaching people working in health and care, and how exhibitors could make the most of them. Read his top tips!

About Highland Marketing and the UK Health Show:
Highland Marketing is the official PR Partner of the UK Health Show  – come and visit us on Stand H176.

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