100% digital – shining a light on digital health and care in Leeds #LDF19

100% digital – shining a light on digital health and care in Leeds #LDF19

Each spring, the Leeds Digital Festival corrals the digital community to put on its Sunday best and parade our northern finery to the world. With a thriving digital health and care sector in the city, we are super proud at mHabitat to curate this theme of the festival on behalf of the NHS and local authority, in partnership with a whole range of local and national bodies. You can find our programme of events here. Digital and the inverse care law With technology woven throughout the NHS Long Term Plan there has never been more of a focus on the role of digital in enabling transformation of health and care services. However, in stark contrast, barely a day goes by where we don’t encounter the most basic barriers to uptake of  technology, not only in services but in people’s everyday lives. Whether it be community nurses whose laptops either take forever to boot up, or young people in excluded communities confused about how to navigate the web, we need to think critically about both infrastructure and human factors. If we fail to do this then we run the risk of exacerbating the inverse care law and worsening health inequalities. One way to understand how we balance the promise of digital technology with the realities of health and care services, and the lived experience of patients and citizens, is to bring people together from a wide range of disciplines to deliberate. Our events endeavour to blend a variety of perspectives and expertise – academics with clinicians; citizens with philosophers, ethicists with industry – and so on. Our 100% Digital Leeds...
What is the case for more women in health tech?

What is the case for more women in health tech?

Recently I was delighted to give a presentation at a Leeds Women in Health Tech breakfast event hosted by Health and Wellbeing Board chair, Councillor Rebecca Charlwood and Director of City Development, Martin Farrington. This forms part of a regular breakfast series in which senior council leaders and councillors bring together experts on a topic of importance to the city. I started by noting that, with a background in humanities and social sciences, I am an accidental woman in technology. My working life started in homeless charities followed by a qualification in social work. Hardly an obvious route to health technology. It was through my PhD research on the theme of mental health and online social networks that my interest in digital technology began to develop. Whilst we need more women with technology skills, the field of digital also needs people with a more diverse skill set than simply coding. This post from Rachel Coldicutt at Dot Everyone neatly makes the case for arts and social scientists in tech: “The arts and social sciences must become essential voices both in the technology industry and in the predictions that guide investment and entrepreneurship. Knowing what to do with tech must become at least as valuable a skill as knowing how to make it” It is for this reason that I am not apologetic about my non-tech background – I see it as an asset rather than a liability. In my talk, I recalled how in the early days of mHabitat I was asked to speak at an almost exclusively male event which, as someone new to the tech scene, took...
ABCD meets human-centred design – where’s the common ground?

ABCD meets human-centred design – where’s the common ground?

  Asset based community development (ABCD) – a methodology for the sustainable development of communities based on their strengths and potentials. It involves assessing the resources, skills, and experience available in a community; organizing the community around issues that move its members into action; and then determining and taking appropriate action. This method uses the community’s own assets and resources as the basis for development; it empowers the people of the community by encouraging them to utilise what they already possess.   Human-centred design – an approach to interactive systems development that aims to make systems usable and useful by focusing on the users, their needs and requirements, and by applying human factors/ergonomics, usability knowledge, and techniques. This approach enhances effectiveness and efficiency, improves human well-being, user satisfaction, accessibility and sustainability; and counteracts possible adverse effects of use on human health, safety and performance. ISO 9241-210:2010   The health and wellbeing theme of the 2018 Digital Festival was an opportunity to shine a light on the thriving digital health and care sector in Leeds. But whilst the digital sector is a key asset in our city, Leeds is also known for its thriving community sector and neighbourhood networks. The city’s Health and wellbeing strategy aims to build on both individual and community strengths in order to reduce health inequalities in Leeds. There is an opportunity (and a challenge) to align our digital ambitions with our asset based community aspirations to make Leeds a healthy and caring city for everyone. However…. if we don’t consciously and intentionally take steps to locate digital as an enabler to enhance the assets of...
What really counts – keeping humanity at the heart of digital innovation

What really counts – keeping humanity at the heart of digital innovation

Digital innovation is going to save the NHS. We use digital in every other aspect of our lives so why not the NHS? So the hyperbole and the mantra goes. But what if, in our fetishisation of digital, we get too focused on shiny products and forget what really counts? This moving blog post by health economist Dr Chris Gibbons about his family’s interactions with health services, when his dad was very ill, made me pause and reflect on how we keep values of humanity at the heart of efforts to innovate and improve health services. Here is a section of the blog post which emphasises that it was person-centred  and goal-orientated care that made the biggest difference to Chris’ dad: “Innovation has many guises. Innovative ways of thinking about the hospital system. From the point of admission to the successful discharge and rehabilitation of people in a place of their preference then linking up that system seamlessly with health and social care system. We need to emphasise the importance that people doing Neil’s [care worker] job have in linking that all together as a person centred, goal oriented approach to recovery and rehabilitation. That’s where the real value in innovation sits. It doesn’t fit neatly into a Markov model, or have fancy branding and the backing of a pharma company that’ll send you to Honolulu for a conference. But it is the kind of innovation that we should be judging against all the other “innovations” that do” How do we assess what really counts and what is going to make the biggest difference to patients when we have...
Frameworks, lyrics and non-adoption of technology

Frameworks, lyrics and non-adoption of technology

You know that feeling when a piece of music (or a book or film) resonates so strongly that it helps you understand something about your life? In my late teens it was The Smiths who did just that. I suspect that teenage hormones may have been a factor, but every lyric from Morrissey’s pen seemed to speak to me directly. Fast forward to 2018, and minus the heady mix of adolescent intensity and the tunes, I had a not altogether dissimilar sensation reading Beyond Adoption: A New Framework for Theorizing and Evaluating Nonadoption, Abandonment, and Challenges to the Scale-Up, Spread, and Sustainability of Health and Care Technologies by Trisha Greenhalgh et al (2017). This paper felt like reliving the first four years of my journey into the digital health technology sphere – every challenge, mistake, obstacle we have encountered is captured in this compelling paper on why technology doesn’t get adopted in the NHS. It felt a bit like the life story of mHabitat but minus the highs… NASSS is an evidence based and theory informed framework that endeavours to set out the interrelated factors that influence the non-adoption abandonment, scale-up, spread or sustainability of technology. It aims to be a tool that can easily be used in practice. The rich blend of research methods comprising case studies with qualitative interviews and ethnography, along with a review of the literature, elicited the seven framework themes (see the diagram above). Our tacit experience of non-adoption could have easily have been one of these case studies – everything from poor clarity of the problem the technology is meant to solve; poor...