“We want everyone to be a radical changemaker”

At the HIMSS & Heath 2.0 European Digital conference Professor Shafi Ahmed called on listeners to challenge every process every day to create the digital workforce of tomorrow.
By Rosy Matheson
02:59 pm
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Today at HIMSS & Heath 2.0 European Digital conference speakers from across the EU sat down to explore how clinicians, users and entrepreneurs can be the drivers of radical innovation in health systems during the keynote panel, “Be a Radical Changemaker.”

“My idea is that we’ve got to challenge, that we’ve got to disrupt, to make healthcare more affordable, more accessible, more equitable, to make global health more of an entity that is accessible for all,” Professor Shafi Ahmed, surgeon, digital health futurist and cofounder and chief medical officer of Medical Realities in the U.K., said during the panel. “If that’s the future, we have to really redesign our thinking in the first way to ensure we enable future healthcare to survive and flourish.”

While COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation, health systems are known for longer cycles of innovation than other industries. Innovation rarely comes from the larger IT companies, but is more likely to come from clinicians or patients, who are responding to the challenges they faced. Ahmed argued that a complete overhaul was necessary.

“We need to bring the entire community together, to think more digital, more exponential,” he said. “We have to challenge previous traditional models and dogma so that we can improve. If we are not challenging every process every day, we are not radical changemakers. We accept the mediocre by definition. … We want everyone to be a radical changemaker.”

Fellow panelist Jorge Cortell, the founder and CEO of Kanteron, said the idea for his innovation came to him after meeting a cancer patient and seeing the difficulties clinicians faced when accessing data siloes to coordinate her care. After seeing the problem first-hand, he told his team: “Stop everything we’re doing. We’re going to tackle this challenge of data integration interoperability.”

He said that data integration is the key to precision medicine, and that, if it's not integrated, it stays in siloes. The main barriers to innovation, he remarked, are legacy, heterogeneity, interoperability, the fact that data was a mixture of black box and open source (rather than just open source), and a reluctance to change. He noted that if all systems were connected and interoperable, this would lead to, “faster diagnosis, increased coverage, improved collaboration, reduction in errors and facilitation of further innovation.”

According to Cortell, the main challenge for companies like his is trust. He suggested that entrepreneurs educate customers on advantages and return on investment. He also urged them to manage change by finding champions that would “go for it.” Partnerships with larger companies was another suggestion.

On a happy note, he added that his wife had cancer and is now cancer-free, and he tenderly described this as “the proof of concept.”   

Mikael Rinnetmäki, founder of Sensotrend Oy in Finland, also has hands-on experience in the healthcare world. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1999 and decided to crack the data and learn how to manage his condition better.

 “I started gradually to become an empowered patient, take more agency over my own treatment, and I was making the daily decisions,” he said. “I was tracking data and deciding what was better.”  

Rinnetmäki said a sudden breakthrough in Type 1 diabetes treatment came last decade when some “techies found a way of hacking their own devices.” In 2016 an automatic insulin delivery system was created, which meant he could open an app that automatically gives glucose readings. He said this meant he did not need to track his condition, but had a “friendly app on his phone instead.”

He wondered how he could bridge the gap between patient innovation and healthcare. He thought a chatbot could be the answer. The chatbot could ask questions like, "Would you like to speak to a nurse?" In this way he made “the two worlds come together."

Rinnetmäki’s diagnosis was a catalyst to patient-centered innovation, and, with the help of technology, he has managed to reduce his long-term blood glucose levels: “I could never administer that myself – the machine does that so much better.”

 

Building a Solid Foundation for Transformation

This month we are following the efforts of entrepreneurs, doctors, investors and executives as they build a solid foundation for healthcare to move through the decade.

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