Bringing knowledge into your house

To increase our knowledge and also help our attendees understand the context around the innovation taking place within NHS.UK; we felt it was important to bring in external speakers to our away day.

With the hefty budget of £0 and 0p all we had to offer to potential speakers were open ears, homemade cake and coffee.

That usually limits the choice of speakers to potential suppliers trying to sell you something or people from elsewhere in NHS Digital. That was not what we needed this time so we had to think bigger.

We reached out to our networks through Twitter and LinkedIn, approaching contacts in NHS England and the private sector for recommendations. Suggestions started coming in, but they either couldn’t do our planned date or wanted travel expenses and so the likelihood of getting an external speaker was getting smaller.

Eventually we were put in touch with representatives from Healthtech Women ( who were able to provide us with 4 enthusiastic guest speakers and a workshop host, all for the price of cake.

We were fortunate to host:

Louise Sinclair — Co-Founder, HealthTech Women UK

Victoria Betton — Director, mHabitat (

Emma Cheshire — CEO, Dotforge (

Lenore Ogilvy — Digital Transformation Consultant (

Elizabeth Shassere — Textocracy (

These speakers were able to provide insight not only into the wider healthcare sector, but also start-up culture; both topics central to our future plans.

One presentation which permeated with me was Lenore’s story from her Personal Health Record user research about story fatigue for child cancer patients. Parents are having repeat their story of treatment every time they encounter a new clinician. This is painful for the parents, it is continuously re-living the heartbreak and taking time away from getting treated. No one knows a child’s condition better than the parent. From the first feeling of unwell they begin researching symptoms until they know absolutely everything hurting their child. Having someone ask, has this happened or that happened, or been tried before is difficult. They want to meet someone who understands the same condition history they do and can tell them the next step.

As a parent, this story will stick with me personally for quite a while and shows just why the conditions information NHS.UK provides is so important and how digitisation of all healthcare can in itself relieve so much pain.

By having experienced speakers like these we were also able to benefit from practiced presentations and encourage our attendees to share more of their experiences externally. Resource limitations mean that we can’t afford to take everyone to a conference or an expo, but bringing the speakers into the business can provide some reward for the team’s efforts. The attendee feedback our speakers received supports this:

  • “It was really interesting to find out what others do in health sector.”
  • “Excellent speakers all with clear messages. Some really inspiring stuff.
  • “It was good to have third parties talk to us. Made a change to hear about other areas of IT which may be of interest”
  • “It’s always great to hear real world examples”
  • “The guest speakers were all engaging and managed to make the last few presentations interesting at the end of the day”
  • “Good variety from the different speakers — found the innovation stuff most interesting”