Digital Health Conference – a few random reflections

So today I went to the first digital health conference, conceived and organised by @ClaireOT, in Leeds.

As I sat on the bus, I mused about whether a pen and paper would be acceptable (fortunately it was) and I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t overwhelmed with techie stuff that I know less than nothing about (although I did see some good gadgets for presentations that I’d like to acquire).

The conference was an opportunity to connect with all sorts of different people, and put faces to Twitter avatars, as well as cook up a few potential projects along the way. I was struck by the extent to which we are only taking the first digital baby steps in the NHS. I was hit by the explosive pace of change in the world of social media and apps, rubbing up against the bureaucracy of large and often risk averse organisations. There was an amount of lamenting that social media is still at the hobby stage in terms of status in many places.  I found myself wondering what a digital health conference would look like in ten years time.  I haven’t got a sufficiently wild imagination to begin to imagine.

My favourite bit of the day was making connections between all sorts of disconnected things that tend to spend a lot of time flying around my head. One theme was how we can use digital storytelling to decrease stigma, increase empathy and improve the relational aspects of supporting people who use our services to achieve their goals. The second bit was about connecting a strategic approach to digital technology together with people in local communities who are keen, willing and able to make a difference at the micro level – how can we release that energy to build social capital and decrease the digital divide?

Thank you to everyone at the conference, in particular to@claireOT for having the vision and making it happen, @mikechitty and @CIHM_Becky for fantastic facilitation and to all the presenters.  I hope the hack day goes fantastically well tomorrow and the digital disruption flourishes.

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