The UK wants Digital Health Now! The King’s Fund International Digital Health and Care Congress


On September 10-12, The King’s Fund invites international stakeholders to UK’s healthcare industry table for the “International Digital Health and Care Congress”, in order to teach how big the opportunity for digital health really is. The event’s focus on innovations in digital health, mobile health, telehealth and telecare comes at a time when large tech corporates decide to move into healthcare.  It couldn’t be more exciting.

Apple and Google, together with Amazon and Samsung, technology giants, announced their interest to explore and grow their influence in digital health. This will have a huge impact in the digital health innovation sector.  The congress will be a good place to discuss how David (small digital health technology companies) and Goliath (public sector and large companies) can successfully work together. The three days event features high profile speakers, and wants to be significantly different than other previous digital health events. The approach is to bring together researchers, policy makers, practitioners and innovators. Researchers will be there because they hold all the evidence and the data. Practitioners are invited to the table because they know the real deal about healthcare practice and can tell innovators what to consider when introducing new digital practices into the healthcare system.Policy makers are exited to attend too. In order to prepare as early as possible to get ready to make the necessary changes in the existing policies, policy makers need to get the latest updates “what’s hot” in digital health. Important is to open up doors and make it possible for innovators to implement and scale digital health solutions and all parties need to come together.

The event features an impressive set of speakers. Paul Rice, Head of Technology Strategy, NHS England and Beverly Bryant, the Director of Strategic Systems and Technology, NHS England, both will be speaking about how the NHS is embracing technology. Content will include the Open Source Programme, delivering digital solutions like EHRs, and the Integrated Digital Care Fund. US delegate Kathleen Frisbee Co-Director, Connected Health (Program Director), The Department of Veterans Affairs in the US., will talk about what the VA has done in assessing the impact of mobile health apps and predicting mobile health app use.

In terms of innovation companies, Ali Parsa’s company Babylon is one great example how digital health can transform ‘how’ we see the doctor. In Babylon’s case via your mobile phone and its ‘serfie’ camera-video function and an online booking interface. Another company, called Zesty presents its approach to make healthcare service online appointment bookings as simple as booking a flight or a restaurant table. Zesty will present its journey and backing their evidence with statistics, and teach attendees and the NHS how Zesty became one of the first and leading scalable digital health concepts in the UK, which saves the economy, the patient and the healthcare providers both money and time. James Balmain spoke at the recent Digital Health Forum 2014 and explained that more capital is flowing into the space and that only scalable healthcare concepts will receive funding, but also that the investor community is waking up to the opportunities in digital access and that competition is waking up.

In an interview with George Crooks OBE, Medical Director, NHS 24 and the Scottish Ambulance Service, and also member of the scientific committee of the conference, he explained the the potential for digital health to break through to the mainstream. “The challenge across Europe is to move from pockets of innovative practice to a position where digital health-supported services are regarded as business as usual”, says Crooks. To the question how digital health can help health providers to meet new challenges of an older growing population with increased demand, he says that the key issue is not technology but safe and effective service redesign.

In the past, the King’s Fund helped other innovation organisation. This year, the international congress is organised in its fourth year. It was sold out every single time. The event brings together more than half a thousand international delegates. The congress is a bazar and thinking plaza for new design and new concepts for digital health technology application, and NHS and private healthcare there to scout for the best tech solutions. Every year the event is growing, and every year there are more digital health innovation companies attending. This draws a confident picture and lets us hope for a trend were the health economy actively supports new digital health tech solutions to establish.   

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Ben Heubl is a Health 2.0 advocate and an expert in the innovation business consulting arena of this industry. His main interest is how to use technology to make an impact for patients and hereby targeting the intersection between entrepreneurship, open innovation, technology and large corporations. Ben co-organized TEDMEDlive Bologna and is TEDMED delegate, is non-for-profit founder of Health 2.0 Copenhagen, Medstartr (EU division) and MyHealthInnovationBlog. Meanwhile he is a mentor at HealthXL, works with ICG and supports KairosSociety and its student's engagements in healthcare innovation. You can follow him on Twitter (@benheubl)


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