Last Thursday 14 May Jersey came together to discuss Technology in Healthcare and how this can be leveraged to the islands benefit.
When we organised the event our objective was clear – invite everyone connected with Health and or Technology in Jersey to a day-long event and facilitate communication.
We invited senior Samsung representatives to our shores and a hugely influential person from the NHS to discuss his experiences in running and rebuilding Hospitals
The only brief was to direct the presentations at consumers in the morning and Healthcare professionals in the evening.
There was no collusion in advance, no corporate direction and no pre-defined “on-message” subject matter. We wanted the event to be free flowing and engaging with people saying exactly what they thought and our guests commenting on exactly how they found us in Jersey – I am delighted that is exactly how it transpired
So what did we learn? Here are 10 key points that I took away from the day:
1) What was Samsung’s impression of Jersey?
Jersey has innovation aplenty -who would have thought our little island would impress Samsung with its innovation? It’s no real surprise to me as I am connected with the people in that space but to have a global player qualify this view is amazing. Samsung are hungrily seeking out innovators to work with to add value to their hardware – so all you Jersey developers jump on board, this is an unrivalled opportunity for you to go global.
2) How does Jersey grow its tech Sector?
Our guests were quite clear in their message. A real opportunity for our island is to develop local solutions to suit our unique market and then find ways of adapting these to export overseas. The other message is that Jersey cannot be everything to everyone, find our niche(s), go for it and become globally recognised for that skill and product set. That also relates to Health Tourism, personally I believe Jersey does have a Health Tourism future as I am sure people will travel to receive treatment as there is a large demographic that would come to our island simply given half a chance. We need though to find our USP in that regard. Simply the fact “we are Jersey” is not enough what else can we bring to the party? Possibly the fact that we will have a shiny new hospital may be enough to start with, let’s not count that out, and then we can build from there.
3) What was island engagement like?
Everyone I have spoken to was, without exception, impressed and surprised at the level of engagement in the day. From the health Minister through to Chief Executives and Directors to front line workers right across the Healthcare sector attended. This was unprecedented – this to me says a couple of things: 1 Given the right platform Healthcare is willing to engage and look to find solutions and 2 despite the different sectors and opinions at the core of each and every Healthcare professional is the desire to see improvement and advancement and this is the common denominator that we should build on.
4) Is Jersey open for business?
Our guests were quite clear when asked about barriers to Jersey becoming a center of excellence and attracting talent. Jersey needs to be “open for business”, we live in a highly competitive world and there cannot be even the slightest whiff of Government putting barriers in place or not being 100% open to talent acquisition and innovation.
5 How many hospitals should we have?
From people who have “been there and done that” running and rebuilding hospitals they said Jersey should think long and hard about why it would want to build 2 hospitals rather than 1 and no obvious reason that they could think of exists as to why we would do this? But then they are not party to studies, it was “high level” comment.
6) What was the mood for change?
My personal feeling having spoken to everyone from the Minister to front line Health professionals and everyone in-between, is that there is a pressing desire for change and system integration and that “getting things done” was now top priority. The island faces huge challenges integrating Healthcare and the traditional way of simply waiting for the big players to bring this about may not be a viable way forwards. I got the sense alternative ways are being sought and that looking to the Jersey technical community could be a real solution, as it should be.
Furthermore, my personal opinion is that when Jersey secures large contracts from overseas supplies in the future there should be a clause whereby Jersey has guaranteed access to these suppliers development “toolkits” so we never again end up in a development gridlock and we have more control over our future. We also need to speak with one voice as an island when engaging with the big players.
7) How do we move forwards right now?
Traditionally there have been studies, plans and overarching aims – all good and all necessary but these have not exactly proved to be dynamic in delivering successes and results. We still sit here in Jersey with disjointed technology and less than desirable technical communication. Admittedly Jersey is hardly the only place to suffer from this but the general frustration, I think, is that the decision makers can almost see out of their windows their opposite numbers and in such a small jurisdiction there really is no excuse not to be able to come together and drive progression and solutions.
That being said, my impression from the day, and from speaking to States of Jersey representatives from IT, the political spectrum & Healthcare, was that action was needed now and from the top down there was a changing of attitudes to lean towards smaller achievable goals leading to consistent progress. Simply kicking progress into the long grass is now not an option – the world is moving quickly in Healthcare, the patient is demanding more control and not having our systems joined up, functioning properly and embracing local innovation is not only hugely and unnecessarily expensive with a deficit to deal with but fraught with risk.
8) Where does Digital Jersey fit in?
Quite simply I believe Digital Jersey is the body set up to facilitate and accelerate Digital growth, encourage innovation and promote technical solutions. Let’s face it, virtually all progress in Healthcare will have a digital touch-point somewhere and there needs to be serious joined up engagement from the local technical community to help move healthcare forwards. We are not in a luxurious position of relying on main-frame suppliers to deliver all of this progress in realistic timescales and we need to find local solutions to local problems.
My business very clearly states it will work with all Technical businesses and people in Jersey to help bring about progress, integration and innovation. My view is the most practical location for this to be facilitated is at Digital Jersey as a neutral corporate base. Cooperation, communication and innovation is not just a “nice to have” but an absolute necessity.
9) So what’s the next event?
Personally I feel Jersey has a great opportunity to position itself on the Health Exhibition National circuit. We have the contacts to make this happen attracting Healthcare suppliers and speakers to a Jersey event even backed up with jersey awards. This could dovetail nicely into Jersey then taking the next step into Health Tourism having already attracted National and even international Healthcare interest. This will mean a joined up approach and could be an opportunity for Health, Tourism and Digital. We cannot do this along it will need States of Jersey backing.
10) What was the overriding health message?
Engage the population, drive outcomes through education and lifestyle improvements, keep people out of expensive hospitals and invest in technology to dramatically reduce costs.
Could everyone in Jersey wear a technical fitness tracker? Could remote robotic operations in Jersey be carried out by consultants overseas? Could we deploy technology to track patient spend throughout the hospital? Could all patients having total access to their records? Could we have a unified patient record?
This is not far-fetched, this is all available to Jersey right now, it will significantly reduce our costs, and it will all help us live longer. Sounds good to me.
Same time next year then? I certainly hope so!