How can digital innovators give their ideas the best chance of adoption in the NHS?

How can digital innovators give their ideas the best chance of adoption in the NHS?

So you’ve got a fantastic idea for a digital technology or maybe you’ve developed something which you think could add value to the NHS. How do you give your idea the very best chance of adoption in a health service which is still only just beginning to understand the potential value of digital technology as an enabler to better health and care? I recently ran a workshop on this theme at the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network Digital Health and Wellbeing Ecosystem meet-up.  With a room full of people who have thought about this tricky question from many different angles I think we made some way towards finding a few answers. So here are 15 tips for starters: 1.Build adoption in from the get-go It may sound obvious but our adoption map made it clear that adoption must be built into the very beginning of your idea development. Considering at the end may only lead to having to go back to the beginning again. 2. Develop your core idea (or understanding of the problem you are trying to solve) before you think about technology Sounds obvious too? But it’s worth noting the technology isn’t always the answer and if it is the answer then you can only know that once you’ve defined the problem well. 3. Identify your *user* *chooser* and *buyer* The person who uses your technology (perhaps a patient) may not be the person who chooses the technology (a health practitioner) who may not be the person who can buy your technology (provider or commissioner). Take them all into account early on and identify benefit...
20 tips for a successful digital project in health and social care #PDDigital16

20 tips for a successful digital project in health and social care #PDDigital16

What is the absolute best way for a domain expert (health or care practitioner) to collaborate with a digital team (software designers and developers) to realise your goals and create a digital tool that has a chance of seeing the light of day? This is a question we set ourselves at #PDDigital16 after hearing a salutary tale of a practitioner’s nightmare experience whereby a brilliant idea descended into a heap of trouble and a resulted in a failed project. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong and it was a tricky experience for everyone involved. But it doesn’t have to be like that! A group of health and care practitioners and digital experts put our heads together to work out how to collaborate well to get the best results. The 20 tips we came up with are as important for software developers as they are for domain experts. They might make the difference between a wildly successful project and one that maybe isn’t so great. So here goes… 1. Involve end users from the outset (always and always and always) remembering that end users are not just patients (citizens) but often other health and care practitioners and administrators 2. Invest in lots of discovery (early stage research) so you can really understand the problem you are trying to address, the outcomes you want to achieve, and the experience you want to create 3. Check if your idea already exists (review the market) and avoid reinventing the wheel 4. Commission a process rather than a product – this means a collaborative relationship rather than an exhaustive specification – that...
The gap between hyperbole and reality in digital health

The gap between hyperbole and reality in digital health

Looking back at what the mHabitat team have been up to in 2016, I am convinced more than ever that the gap between the hyperbole of digital health and reality in practice remains a yawning chasm. There have been moments in the year when I’ve been quite taken aback by the distance we have yet to travel in utilising even the most basic and ubiquitous of technologies to improve healthcare. Here are three  stories that have stuck in my mind from our co-design work during 2016 to give a sense of what I mean. They aren’t heroic stories of great leadership and transformative change, but rather everyday stories of things not working quite right, and that’s sort of the point. Doing the simple things well (or not) It was during a co-design workshop with a health service that young people described how they value the text messaging reminder service. A good example whereby a ubiquitous technology is used to keep in touch and a solid foundation to build on. However participants were dismayed when a member of staff brought down the box with the office non-smartphone that is brought out daily to send each message individually with each number punched in for every single message that is sent. The staff explained how, to save time, they type the message in one of their (personal) smartphones and then text it to the device and then forward it onto their recipients. They went on to demonstrate how the phone will only hold 50 messages so they have to wipe them each time they want to send out a new set of...

What has frugal innovation got to offer the NHS, social care and wider public sector? This is a question we will be debating at our People Drive Digital #PDDigital16 festival on the evening of 28 November at the Open Data Institute in Leeds. One of our debaters is Jaideep Prabhu who is professor of Indian Business and Enterprise at the Cambridge Judge Business School within the University of Cambridge. Jaideep has written extensively on the topic of frugal innovation both in emerging markets and in the Western world. You can watch him share his thoughts about what the West can learn from frugal innovation here: So what is frugal innovation and how is it relevant to people driving digital innovation in health and care? Nesta define frugal innovation as follows: Frugal innovation responds to limitations in resources, whether financial, material or institutional, and using a range of methods, turns these constraints into an advantage. You can read a Nesta report on frugal innovation here. The report highlights many examples of frugal innovation and I particularly liked the story of the Kerala neighbourhood network in palliative care. In contrast to a doctor led hierarchical model of care, volunteers from the local community are trained to identify problems of people who chronically ill in their area and to intervene. 70 percent of the Kerala population have access to palliative care in contrast to only 1 percent at a national level. The neighbourhood network consists of more than 4,000 volunteers, with 36 doctors and 60 nurses providing expert support and advice to enable care for 5000 patients at any one time. Frugal...
What are mental health practitioner attitudes towards digital?

What are mental health practitioner attitudes towards digital?

The use of digital technologies such as Internet sites and mobile applications, have received much hype in recent years, both in mental health and the NHS more widely. Opinions on these technologies vary; and those at either ends of the viewpoint spectrum see them as either a panacea to overstretched services or as undermining the primacy of the face-to-face patient/clinician relationship. A recent open access study has endeavored to dig beneath the hype by seeking to understand the opportunities and challenges posed by the use of digital technologies from the perspective of mental health providers. As someone who runs an NHS digital innovation programme I see how practitioners are often overlooked in the development process. This is a big problem because those same practitioners are often critical in influencing the take-up and use of digital technologies by patients. So understanding digital technologies from a practitioner perspective is a welcome addition to research in this field. I’ve written a review of this study which you can read in full on The Mental Elf site here.  The Mental Elf aims to help practitioners find what they need to keep up-to-date with all of the important and reliable mental health research and guidance.  They have a team of mental health experts who post blogs every week day with short and snappy summaries that highlight evidence-based publications relevant to mental health practice in the UK and further afield. You can find out more about The Mental Elf...