Last week, I was privileged to be invited to speak at #DigitalCatalyst19. Hosted by the NIHR Clinical Research Network and AHSN, the event brings together clinicians, academics, and industry to share ideas and solve problems faced by healthcare. Northeast England has a reputation for outstanding healthcare and great partnerships between hospitals, the community and the patients it serves, and positioning itself as a flagship region for technology.

I have attended many of these meetings over the years, but this felt different. A broad cross-section of the medical ecosystem, this event was attended by the creators, users, and purchasers of medical technology. The issues being discussed were real problems experienced by patients and healthcare professionals every day.

I spoke about 11 Health’s journeys from my own perspective. As doctors, we are trained to communicate, but we use this skill to navigate busy clinics and keep clinical encounters brief and efficient. That’s not the same as empathy which is sadly lacking. Our modern medical system is heavy on pathways and so often inflexible that it can seem entirely indifferent to the patient’s needs. For me, 11 Health represented an opportunity to change the paradigm on this. In chronic care, trust and mutual understanding is at the center of the relationship. By developing the triad of patients, coaches, and clinicians supported by technology, we seek to improve the most important outcomes.

A patient-centered and design-oriented approach has allowed us to overcome the many barriers to use that patients experience with remote monitoring devices. I showed how we have done this both in the design of our hardware and whole user experience. Through close tracking of outcomes in the critical postoperative period, we are now seeing reductions in 30-day readmissions and readmission due to dehydration in our patients.

Mine was one of several talks on innovations in health. The solutions were tangible, and in most cases, they existed already. The result was a feeling that the people in the room were willing and able to break down the many barriers to implementation of technology in healthcare. I was impressed by a series of competitive pitches from healthcare providers in the region. The well-deserving winner walked away with seed funding to use gamification to improve patient engagement in treating chronic conditions.

I was in the UK for less than seventy-two hours, but it was well worth it. In the past, I have left these meetings feeling we have talked more about end products than the barriers and that little would change. This time, everyone is pulling in the right direction. The time for innovations like ours to be used in healthcare systems like the English National Health Service has finally come. We hope that it will be the start of a long and fruitful partnership with Newcastle University Teaching Hospitals and a springboard for the region and country to benefit from our innovations.

Dr. Robert Fearn, Medical Director

Read more about the Digital Catalyst event here: https://sites.google.com/nihr.ac.uk/digital-catalyst-19/exhibitors