Dissecting Digital Health — with David Evans

David Evans can’t believe his luck — that he gets paid to show up to work when he would gladly show up for free …don’t tell his boss! :-) He lives and breathes the mission of the BCS, that IT should be about delivering social good.

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This is the full transcript of the podcast Dissecting Digital Health with Dr Louise Schaper, interview with David Evans, Director of Policy and Community at the British Computer Society.

Guest: David Evans, BCS Host: Dr Louise Schaper, HISA Tweet Louise @louise_schaper Tweet David @davidcevans Production: This podcast is produced by Ivan Juric


Show Notes

[02:15] Opening remarks by host Dr Louise Schaper

[2:30] Today’s guest, David Evans, introduces himself and shares his experience as a director at the British Computer Society. Louise and David discuss their roles similarities as running non-profits driven by members whose priorities are health and social care.

[03:26] The British Computer Society’s work dates back to well before the adoption of computer technology into healthcare. Over the 60 years that BCS has been around, the society has evolved from working ‘under the radar’ to developing one of the first commercial computers. David talks about the Society’s inception and his own his father’s involvement with BCS.

[05:58] David takes us on his journey with the BCS, and how, despite not being a health and care specialist, his passion drives him to work on bridging technology and human needs.

David discusses the relationship and impact that technology has on society, from politics to everyday life. He talks about his belief in technology spearheading social good, and BCS’ goal of getting technologists to talk to each other on how to improve it.

[06:39] David continues to share how computer technology touches all aspects of our lives.

[07:08] David connects the idea of technology touching all aspects of life to the “IT Impact Series” — exposing people in IT to the impact of what they do, as a way to inspire them to see the purpose in their work.

[13:03] Louise asks David about the unique position that the BCS take, and the difference in work between IT in others fields versus IT in health. David expresses his belief that IT in healthcare is driven by more purpose.

[17:27] Louise asks about BCS’ connection and history with healthcare as compared to other computer societies. David talks about how the first people involved in computing in healthcare were also involved with BCS. He shares how the work within the health community has been among the most important.

[21:16] Louise asks David to share FED-IP’s work. David tells us what FED-IP (Federation of Informatics Professionals in Health and Social Care) does as a group of professional bodies collaborating. They discuss the need for clinically registered professionals to have their informatics expertise recognised.

[25:46] David continues to discuss the issue that GPs face with informatics not being recognised for clinical registration. He expresses the need to bring the conversation about clinicians’ work in informatics to the forefront.

[28:02] Louise brings up the need to bring the conversations to casual settings and environments, where people can trust each other. The two then discuss the next step of translating those conversations to the places where hard decisions are made. In doing this, we can bring together a community and encourage people to think outside their own agendas to collaborate.

[30:31] Finally, David talks about the “Well-Connected Campaign” — essentially a pledge to put beliefs in bettering healthcare into practice. He tells us what he thinks the “development of good” looks like, and the campaign’s goal to give autonomy to those who want to be involved.

[34:22] Closing Remarks


Full Transcript

Opening remarks by host Dr Louise Schaper

[02:15] Louise: Welcome to Dissecting Digital Health. I am in London. I just came off the strand — I caught an underground here to Charing Cross Station, and I’m at the British Computer Society, and guest, thank you for inviting me here. Guest, can I ask you, who are you?

Today’s guest, David Evans, introduces himself and shares his experience as a director at the British Computer Society. Louise and David discuss their roles similarities as running non-profits driven by members whose priorities are health and social care.

[02:30] David: Well, you’re very welcome. I’m David Evans, and I’m a director at BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT.

[02:36] Louise: And, tell me about BCS. What do they do?

[02:38] David: So, well, I just showed you around the corner.

[02:41] Louise: This is for the podcast people, David [Laughter].

[02:43] David: Oh, absolutely. I was going to say, our charter, which has got a big seal from the queen, and it basically says that we’re here to making computing, or IT, or digital, or whatever you want to call it, informatics, good for society. So, we bring together the people who have capability in that, the professionals, and also people who are related to that, so we have quite a diverse set of people in membership, and our aim is to get them to do their jobs better, to work together, and to make things better for the public. So, it’s quite an exciting mission, it’s quite an exciting time to be doing this kind of thing, and obviously, health and care is one of the most important areas where that needs to happen.

The British Computer Society’s work dates back to well before the adoption of computer technology into healthcare. Over the 60 years that BCS has been around, the society has evolved from working ‘under the radar’ to developing one of the first commercial computers. David talks about the Society’s inception and his own his father’s involvement with BCS.

[03:26] Louise: Yes. Well, firstly, I think I’m going to have to take a picture of that chartered sign, because then I can put it in the post and show everyone, because that is very impressive. It does have a massive seal from the queen. So, but, okay, how long has the British Computer Society been around for?

[03:40] David: So, well, we are going to be 60 this year. So, we’ve been around…and before that, we were the London Computer Society, so it’s gone from a group of people coming together for computing from all sorts of backgrounds — lots of scientists, lots of engineers, historians, philosophers, all sorts of interesting people who kind of got together to try to work out how to do this computing thing. So, it’s evolved through lots of different phases, but it’s always been about kind of passionate people who care about it wanting to share ideas and do interesting things.

[04:16] Louise: Yeah. Sorry, just 60 years — that’s taking me back. What are we talking about, like Alan Turing days?

[04:21] David: Well…

[04:22] Louise: Very early computing.

[04:25] David: Very, very early computing, and I mean, some of the earliest people who were involved in setting up BCS were there working on some of the earlier computers around Cambridge and Manchester, so immediately after the war, you had people who had been at Blanchard Park who had been developing computers, but kind of very much in secret, and they came out and they started developing computers for science, and then you had things like the Lions Electronic Office, which was one of the first commercial computers. So, loads of people who were just…it was a new branch of science, a new branch of discovery coming together. My father was a member, I think in 1967, he joined, and he started off working in computers, a company called English Electric, and then at physics laboratory CERN in Geneva, and then he came back and he was on the team that put the first ever computer into a hospital in the UK in White Chapel, East London, and so, funny enough, I didn’t even know he was a BCS member until after I started working here, because he’s now an epidemiologist and a statistician, because he sort of moved off into sort of the application of computing into healthcare, and he’s having quite a varied career. But, so I found not only was I using computers on my father’s knee when very few people had access to that, but I found that there was a connection with what I’m doing today.

David takes us on his journey with the BCS, and how, despite not being a health and care specialist, his passion drives him to work on bridging technology and human needs.

[05:58] Louise: And, how long have you been at BCS?

[06:00] David: So, it will be 11 years in July.

[06:03] Louise: Did you plan on staying that long when you applied?

[06:06] David: Completely no. Absolutely not, and funny enough, I got very excited having read the charter, and I’ve kind of…I probably should be saying this publicly, but I’ve always been sort of near-terminally disappointed in the organisation and what it’s been achieving, just because in some ways, if you start to realise what together we should be doing, you’re always going to be disappointed, and I’m not a health and care specialist by any stretch of the imagination, for all sorts of reasons, just because I’m a human being, I really care about it, I’m very interested in it . . .

David discusses the relationship and impact that technology has on society, from politics to everyday life. He talks about his belief in technology spearheading social good, and BCS’ goal of getting technologists to talk to each other on how to improve it.

In every aspect of our lives currently, we’re kind of reinventing our civilisation, so some of the stuff that I’ve been working on recently is the interaction between politics and social media and technology, what’s possible with algorithms and big data…

. . . How it effects the way we run elections, how it effects the way representatives are interacting with their constituents is an incredibly important live issue right at this issue around the world, but in the UK with Brexit, we’re right in an election period at the moment, and this is turning politics upside down. You take education, what people need in the future in a world where automation is already changing jobs and is going to change it massively. If you are a professional driver, just as a simple example, yeah, yeah, it’s coming for you, it’s coming for your jobs…

David Evans (I Am Well Connected launch #IAmWellConnected)

David continues to share how computer technology touches all aspects of our lives.

[06:39] Louise: It’s coming for a lot of jobs.

[07:21] David: Yeah, absolutely. But, on the other side, my wife, who is both a GP and visually impaired, she can’t drive anymore as of a few months ago, and so I’m really excited at the emancipation that she will have if she’ll have a driver-less car that will take her places, and so on. So, it’s kind of…every element of our life is being touched by this stuff, and a lot of the forces that are driving this are kind of sort of accidental, or at least…

[08:09] Louise: How do you mean, accidental?

[08:11] David: Well, the social good is kind of an externality, right?

[08:17] Louise: Okay, the social good aspect of it, right? Is that something that you’re bringing to the table — and obviously, you are — is that something that BCS…because, the disappointment that you mentioned, I get exactly what you mean, and it’s actually an acutely positive thing because you’re involved in organisations…I run a non-profit as well. If you actually don’t just need at the top level that person who’s always saying what we could be doing and getting disappointed that we can’t get anything done, if you’ve got staff that are like that as well, that’s gold, because you’re never going to rest on your lolls, you’re always going to be looking for how can we make things better, how can we improve things? And so, I think it’s a huge positive, and I noticed, we’ve been chatting the last couple of days, and you’re incredibly passionate about what IT, as an enabler for improved…for social good, and we attended an event the other night that you ran. Did you want to talk a little bit about that? Because, that’s quite an unusual thing to think of, and IT, computer society, having that mantra.

David connects the idea of technology touching all aspects of life to the “IT Impact Series” — exposing people in IT to the impact of what they do, as a way to inspire them to see the purpose in their work.

[07:08] David: I think that for a certain amount of time, a big part of our mission was really delivered by getting technologists to talk to each other about improving technology, so functionally, how do we achieve this goal, how do we do this thing, and that absolutely is part of what BCS is today and will continue, but the way that technology has changed how it’s interacting with society, causing us to do, in addition to that, a kind of a social dialogue and a working together with other people in a way that we have not had to do, and that event is exactly, exactly about that, because they’re a series of events, and we call them the IT Impact Series, because what we’re talking about is people in IT exposing them, opening their eyes, lifting their heads up, to the impact of what they do, and not in any kind of big stick, pointing a finger, “Do you know what you’re doing? You should be aware,” but kind of more…well, trying to be like that, but also, trying to say that this needs to effect what we do day-to-day.

So, that event, that kind of social impact, that social mission, was probably best expressed with the nurses that we had there. We were absolutely privileged to have the RCN’s nurse of the year there, who works in palliative care, and everyone in the room just sitting and listening. She was fantastic, and just listening to someone talking about one of those really important phases in your life — not just for you, but your family and the people who care about you and that experience, and that is one of the few times, really, in healthcare, where it’s not a machine, it’s actually just about you. Because I mean, in the UK, you talk to anyone about the health service, and they will talk wonderful things about people delivering healthcare. They will always have a story about some kind of grating on their well-being from missed appointments, confusion, test results not being there, and the aggravation, but you know, if a surgeon fixes what’s wrong with you…kind of like a mechanic fixes your car, at the end of the day, you go, “That’s a big tick, because they fixed me.” It doesn’t matter how many confusions and aggravations and disruptions to your life, you kind of walk out thinking, “Well, at least they did the job,” but end of life care, all of that matters, because actually, it’s about that person being looked after and having their well-being supported, that is the centre of it.

So, at that point, where sort of the mechanical/clinical side of it can’t do anything anymore, other than make them feel better, this person, their life is going to end. So, having that nurse sort of sensuous in that conversation, sensuous in that moment, that’s what we kind of actually all care about. The people in the room — and I know many of those people, some of them who are…all levels, but there are some really kind of influential leaders there, and if you talk to them, you know that this matters to them, that that’s why they want to do it, that’s why we’re passionate about it, and in some matters, what we’re training those people to do, what we’re giving them permission to do, is actually evidence that, and say, “Look, I care about this”.

These are my people. These nurses who are doing this are my people. They’re the people I want to help, because they’re helping the people that we all care about. So, that was one element of it, and having given that kind of huge emotional, passionate, almost spiritual kind of centring of what you are about as a person be the professional…we also want to give people something different than they can do.

Louise asks David about the unique position that the BCS take, and the difference in work between IT in others fields versus IT in health. David expresses his belief that IT in healthcare is driven by more purpose.

Louise and David at BCS HQ

[13:03] Louise: Okay, so, is that an unusual position to take within the British Computer Society? The reason I ask that is because I find, as well, people that are very much technical, I’m an IT person, and even like the relatively low level guy who is on your help desk, if you’re doing the help desk support line for, I don’t know, mining industry or a bank or something like that, it becomes this day-to-day grind, but you can do the exact same job, be a help desk for a hospital, where actually, if you don’t get that computer back online, or you can’t help a doctor with that problem, then patient care could suffer and it has a social impact, and I find that IT people who come into healthcare, usually by accident — they apply for job, and it happens to be in healthcare, and they don’t want to leave because they get that what they do is — while they might not be directly influencing patient care and patient outcomes, that they know they’re part of that narrative, and it’s really powerful. So, do you find that with people here as well, not just with leadership, but lower level people as well, they’re really keen? And, because it’s such a strong message that the BCS are promoting, too.

[14:12] David: So, I mean, there’s a really interesting…really interesting sort of psychology in all of this, and contrast, that we think about a lot. So, we’re talking about technology and healthcare, so we can all get together and just pick on the lawyers. Now, there are lovely, amazing lawyers, but there’s also some lawyers who, their professional life involves being quite…sort of quite evil to people who don’t have much defence, right? But, if you get those same people and you get them talking about the rule of law and the role of lawyers in all of that, they’ll get all weepy-eyed and sort of excited about their role in society, right? So, within the legal profession, there’s a really strong sense of moral purpose, even though the reality for a lot of people’s encounters with lawyers may not really be consistent with that, right? So, I’ve picked one of them, but you understand the point. But, with IT people, we’re doing these amazing things. We are…

. . . The only way we can change health and care is through better use of technology. These people are absolutely essential to making health and care better for real people…

[15:21] David: And as I’ve already recalled, there are all those…there are so many other aspects of life that they’re changing, and the people who do this, not just in health and care, but in financial services, in lots of places, the places I find, they have a belief in what they’re doing, right? And, yet, they’re embarrassed about it, most often, in contrast to the lawyers.

[15:39] Louise: What’s embarrassing?

[15:41] David: Well, if you think, the sort of zeitgeist around IT is sort of the computer says no. I think because a lot of the people in IT are sort of serially disappointed idealists, there’s a kind of like a misery sometimes to these people. So, it’s almost like…I find that the worst thing that I can do is reconnect these people with their personal passion for it, and what they’re actually doing in their day job, without giving them some kind of sense of hope that they can do better, and so, for some reason, technology does often attract idealists, because there is this sense that you can change anything with this technology. So, I think it’s really common across there, but people don’t feel like they have the permission to talk about it like that. So, it’s kind of like if you imagine a bunch of IT people sat round a table talking about doing a project, that there might be some inner voice in all of them going, “I’m not sure we’re doing the right thing. I’m not happy about this. I think we could be doing it so much better,” but they look round the table, and they don’t see that that’s happening in everyone else. So, it’s kind of like a simple trick, and it’s what we did over the last couple of days, right? We actually got them all, and said, “Right. I know you lot, you’re outed, right? You actually care,” and they look round at each other and they go, “Wow, this is amazing!” and so, just that simple reconnection with your own values, why you got into this, and with each other, and seeing that common ground, it’s sounding kind of like soaring on wings of eagles, you know, fluffy stuff, but actually, it’s one of the most powerful forces that I’ve seen in this world.

Louise asks about BCS’ connection and history with healthcare as compared to other computer societies. David talks about how the first people involved in computing in healthcare were also involved with BCS. He shares how the work within the health community has been among the most important.

[17:27] Louise: Alright. Now, healthcare as a focus for the British Computer Society, you guys are very unique. Most other computer societies don’t have a specific healthcare focus. You guys do. How long have you…has that always been a part of it, or has that been a relatively new phenomenon, has it been overnight, or has it been something that you and others have been pushing for?

[17:44] David: So, we’ve had that for as long as I’m aware of, and in fact, there is a book detailing the history of computing in the UK and what BCS has been doing that we published some years ago. But, I mean, so, certainly, when…so, the people who are involved in the first computing in healthcare were also involved in BCS in various ways, and a lot of our early work on what is now kind of UX, which was human-computer interactions as a discipline, was from the health community. So, they were looking at clinicians interacting with technology systems, and sort of documenting and writing papers on that. So, you can go back through the archives and see early academic papers on that kind of thing. And, we’ve had…our health community has been, for as long as I’ve been involved, one of our most passionate, and sometimes difficult because of that, because…but, the people there, we’ve been honed to sort of clinicians who have taken an interest to this, sometimes when their own professional bodies haven’t realised just how important this was, and now, obviously, that’s completely changed, and we’ve got very good links with this groups. So . . .

. . . We’ve had a very long history of being a home to anyone who’s interested in this kind of stuff and needs some help. We’ve got a very, very strong primary care group, so supporting GPs has been incredibly active, and is still today, and now we’ve got a growing and, as you’ve seen, very passionate and committed and excited group of people — what I tend to call leaders at all levels.

So, some of them are in senior leadership positions, but there are a lot of people who are in more junior roles, but are definitely leaders from the way that they behave. So, yeah, I don’t think BCS would be what it is today without that passionate, tumultuous community.

[19:48] Louise: IT, you have to put tumultuous.

[19:50] David: But, I was just thinking, so health IT in the UK has a slightly checkered past, and things like the National Program for IT and Connecting for Health had sort of little phrases that, in our community, will have pain and anguish, sort of all over them, and in the public in the UK, health IT program is synonymous with disaster, which is…

[20:17] Louise: Well, that’s not just UK.

[20:18] David: Well, no, but there’s…

[20:19] Louise: You’re amongst friends.

[20:25] David: Yeah, and thing I’ve certainly learned from going to international things is just how the stories are almost exactly the same. But, BCS ended up kind of falling out with our own government over those things, because we were very concerned that a lot of the things that had been built up over generations of knowledge were just being ignored, and the National Programme for IT had elements that were very important, very successful, but there was a massive breakdown in the relationship between those in technology and the clinical professions, and no politician is going to be thinking, “I know, let’s start a programme in IT to make my career, because that’ll be easy.” So, we’re still living with the scars, but in fact, I mean, that kind of connects nicely to what we’ve being doing over the last few days, because we are entering a new phase.

Louise asks David to share FED-IP’s work. David tells us what FED-IP (Federation of Informatics Professionals in Health and Social Care) does as a group of professional bodies collaborating. They discuss the need for clinically registered professionals to have their informatics expertise recognised.

[21:16] Louise: Okay. Look, tell me about Fed IP.

[21:19] David: So, Fed IP is a…

[21:23] Louise: And, what does it stand for, actually?

[21:24] David: Well, as a name, it’s just really awesome, because it’s the Federation of Informatics Professionals in Health and Social Care, which as a name goes, is very nice and functional, and that’s what we’re really excited about, is our well-connected campaign, which is what we want really people to take notice of, and Fed IP.

[21:48] Louise: Well, talk about Fed IP first.

[21:49] David: Yeah, and Fed IP is kind of is sort of the plumbing behind that. So, what it is, is very simply a group of professional bodies getting together and agreeing to work together, because informatics and IT are not the same thing exactly, and the way health and care has developed is kind of a little bit away from the rest of the tech sector in the UK. So, informatics is a word, for example, that people outside healthcare, health and care, don’t use at all, or at least very rarely, certainly in the UK. So, we, as BCS, recognise, actually in everything that we do, we need to work in partnership, but particularly in health and care. We don’t, on our own, address all of this, and we are learning to sort of to behave in a way that really gives people confidence that we want to partner, that we’re not trying to look to dominate and come in and make it a zero-sum game, and we found, in the other professional bodies that we’re working with, kind of kindred spirits.

[23:02] Louise: And, who are they?

[23:03] David: So, there’s Socrates, who focus on IT manages in government and are very strong in local governments, and that’s a strong linkage in social care, and also to the operating environment that local services are delivered in. So, you’ve got CILIP, who are another chartered body, the Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals, and people who are working in knowledge management and librarians in health and care are an incredibly important part of this ecosystem, and then IHRIM, who are the Institute of Health Records and Information Managers, so this is a small professional body, without, compared to us, very much resources, but full of passion and commitment. These are the people who are managing records units in hospitals and care organisations across the UK. And, from my point of view, from where I sit, I never would have considered people like that, that’s not who I had front of mind, and working with people like that, I’ve learned a huge amount, and I’ve learned to really respect what they do, and see them as just as valuable a part of the ecosystem as everyone else, and as say a hospital is moving from paper records to digital, these are professionals that understand things that no one else in that environment does. Clinical coders, people like that, they are an absolutely essential part of any digital transformation. So, cross all of those bodies, we’ve got quite a different set of people coming together, but again…

[24:38] Louise: And why are you coming together?

[24:39] David: Well, common cause, right? We all want to do the same thing, and the model of Fed IP is that if there’s a new thing that emerges, a new professional group, we can bring people, absolutely. And so, Fed IP is focused on people who are not clinically registered, so that’s why we’ve got these professional bodies, and hand-in-the-glove, joined at the hip, we have the new faculty of clinical informatics, and the people behind that are…

[25:11] Louise: Okay, so the faculty of clinical informatics is a separate body?

[25:14] David: Yeah, so that is a separate body, but if you think about it for more than about ten minutes and you know your stuff on it, you realise that there’s so much that we’ve got to do together across that. So, they’re really focused on people who are clinically registered, who have a different set of problems. So, if you are a medic, and you find yourself moving into the world of informatics, it’s like absolutely essentially, as I’m sure that you would agree, that those kind of people are doing those kinds of things.

[25:45] Louise: Absolutely.

David continues to discuss the issue that GPs face with informatics not being recognised for clinical registration. He expresses the need to bring the conversation about clinicians’ work in informatics to the forefront.

[25:46] David: But, the more you do, the more you put at risk your medical registration. So, if you’re a GP, a hospital physician, and you’re starting to work in informatics, none of that counts towards your professional registration.

[26:03] Louise: We have the same problem in Australia.

[26:05] David: So, whilst the faculty’s mission is far bigger than that, they’re kind of the burning platform for clinical communities, is getting what they do in this incredibly important clinical discipline recognised. So, I was at a kind of dinner discussion…I was privileged to be at this meeting with kind of presidents of Royal Colleges and major figures from the medical world, and from the nursing community, and from various NHS sort of policy areas, kind of getting together and saying, “Right, this is the thing that we need to do,” and going out of this room, I think…where it was, it was Bevan’s office, he founded the NHS, so there was this real moment of history, right, and they came out and they said, “We’re going to do this thing, and we’re going to set up this faculty, people can then credential against it for their professional registrations,” so, that’s kind of the functional need now . . .

. . The more important thing is these are people who have been working — nobody’s been paying the people who set this thing up, they’ve all been working on a voluntary basis to kick this thing off and to get it together, and so whilst their audience is different to the federation, and whilst their immediate needs differ — we’ve both got different work to do immediately, an awful lot of the content, the standards, the frameworks, and the mission is something that we all share, and so we’re absolutely committed to working together . . .

. . . And so it’s been a real joy to sit down at tables with people from other professional communities for other professional bodies, volunteers who are giving their time, medics, nurses, techies, and look around the table and see friends and see people who want the same thing, and for that to be the lingua franca and the common cause, the basis for our negotiations, and that’s not normal. It should be, as I’m sure you’d agree, but that’s not where we’ve come from.

Louise brings up the need to bring the conversations to casual settings and environments, where people can trust each other. The two then discuss the next step of translating those conversations to the places where hard decisions are made. In doing this, we can bring together a community and encourage people to think outside their own agendas to collaborate.

(Left to Right) Louise Schaper, Andy Kinnear, David Evans

[28:02] Louise: Well, I’ll tell you what, it certainly seems normal from my experience here — all of these great conversations, and often in a pub somewhere. You guys know how to get stuff done in pubs.

[28:12] David: Well, yeah, and as someone who gets really quite ill if I drink beer, it’s not always the most convenient thing, but I think that as we evolve, we need to get that more into the boardroom than in the pub. That’s where it started.

[28:31] Louise: I’m being flippant, but…

[28:32] David: No, but you’re right, though [Light laughter].

[28:34] Louise: Well, to be honest, I’m actually thinking, “Oh, we should actually start doing some events in the pub as well,” because it actually meant everyone…they’re in their business suits, but they let their guard down.

[28:49] David: They’re relaxed.

[28:50] Louise: They’re relaxed, they’re having a good time, mingling, and a lot of good work was getting done. I thought it was a nice environment.

[28:53] David: But, you know, I think that that…there is very little to be done in the environment where nobody trusts each other, and you’ve got to do…you’ve got to go to the place, you’ve got to set the environment where people trust each other. But, what we’re doing is really serious. You and none of your listeners need me to say that, right? The real trick is to get that kind of pub-commitment, as it were, and that atmosphere of trust, and translate it into the places where we’re making hard decisions, because none of the things that we would have done, we would have been able to achieve if it was just about the normal self-interest of the people in the room. Everyone’s had to go out that extra bit, make commitments that hurt them or cost them in order to do something a bit bigger. You know, that’s the nature of…I mean, people ask me what I do, and my first love was science — physics was my first love, then I got into tech, then I got into business, then I got into what is basically politics, right? So, what we do in our organisations is build structures and inspire people to use paranal authority for the common good, and that is the textbook definition of politics.

[30:10] Louise: It’s very much about community, but yeah, to bring the community together. Okay.

[30:17] David: Yeah, and you’ve got to say, “Leave your narrow agenda at the door and come in and join this bigger one,” and that is the hardest thing to do.

[30:25] Louise: Yeah. We need sort of sign-up sheets for people [Light laughter] sometimes to do that.

[30:28] David: Well, that is what we had the last couple of days, right, with those pledges.

Finally, David talks about the “Well-Connected Campaign” — essentially a pledge to put beliefs in bettering healthcare into practice. He tells us what he thinks the “development of good” looks like, and the campaign’s goal to give autonomy to those who want to be involved.

[30:31] Louise: That’s right. So, tell me about…because I signed a pledge, I didn’t read it — no, I did, so I had to sign my life away, I don’t know if you want my first born or something. No, there was pledge and something called the “I am connected” campaign?

[30:48] David: So, Well-Connected Informatics Professionals for Better Well-Being. So, if you think about IP being the plumbing, the professional bodies being the participants, and all of us standing together and saying, “We want the same thing,” it being the great kind of outcome. Well-Connected sort of represents that, but it’s something slightly more than that. So, what we’re saying is, if you sign that pledge, what you’re signing up for is you’re saying that health and care is important, it matters to you, you believe you have something to contribute, and you’re going to do things together to put those beliefs into reality. So, integrity, a good definition of it — because it’s a word that’s more than just ethics, it’s about wholeness, right? And, it means that you have those beliefs, and you put them into practice, that you’re not having a cognitive dissidence, say, “Oh, I believe in doing the right thing, except when I’m on the clock.” That is what integrity means. So, we’re saying that if you kind of sign that pledge, that’s what you believe, that’s what you’re prepared to do, and you’re going to display that. So, we were giving out badges, and they were big badges, great for selfies.

[31:54] Louise: I got one. I got a black one.

[31:57] David: Yeah, they weren’t very subtle, were they? But, you saw people walking around in this event — we had something like 3,000 people passing through, there were loads of people walking around showing that they stand for those values, right? So, it’s that outing process in campaign form that I was talking about, and we’re asking those people to do two things beyond just declaring their intention, and one of them is to kind of get out of their teams and to talk to people they wouldn’t talk to normally, just start under that banner of doing the right thing to build some partnerships. So, that event that we were talking about, that was exactly…the nurses that we saw there were kind of saying to people, “Look, people like that exist. Go and talk to them! And, they want the same things as you do, and they will react that way,” because those nurses felt like they were part of that community. They weren’t someone from the nurses coming to wag their finger at the IT people. So, that’s what it stands for on the one hand, and the other thing we’re trying to say, and

. . . The other thing we’re trying to say — and this, I’m sure, from your organisation’s point of view will be very close to your heart, is get together with other professionals like you, share what good looks like, build it, develop what good looks like, and then make that the standards and the professional development that we then deliver.

So, if you kind of think that…a lot of professional organisations go, “You should be professional, you should be recognised, you should do CPD, you should do all of these kinds of things.” We’re saying the same thing, but we’ve got some things to put in front of that, which is why we’re doing it and making that the centre of it. So, Well-Connected as a campaign is something we want any organisation and individual to kind of take ownership for. So, it’s a campaign that is kind of given to the community by these professional bodies, not our campaign that you have to come to us to use. So, we’re looking for NHS organisations to use it, we’re they’re saying stand for the right values, connect to other people, go and fill their boots, go and do it. So, for me, personally, the real…the aim of this was not to run a successful organisational campaign, but to say to this community of people, “This is yours. Go and do something with it,” and from all of the feedback that I was having during the last couple of days, from my inbox now, we’ve managed to do that. These people want it, right? So, it’s permission to do the right thing and the means to do so.

Closing Remarks

[34:22] Louise: Fantastic. Thank you so much. Alright, well, I think we should go have some lunch. What do you reckon?

[34:27] David: Well, my stomach is rumbling. I hope your microphone hasn’t been picking it up.

[34:31] Louise: [Laughter] Alright, so let’s do that. Thank you for your time David. It’s been a pleasure to be here this week, to meet you and other kindred spirits, but thank you for spending some time on Dissecting Digital Health today.

[34:41] David: Well, all strength to your army, and as you say, kindred spirits. It’s been fantastic having you over. You’ve inspired us, and I know that really good things that are going to make a practical difference will come out of this. So, here’s to a future collaboration.

[34:55] Louise: Absolutely. Thank you. Let’s go have some lunch.


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Dr Louise Schaper, PhD

Written by

On a mission to fix healthcare. CEO @HISA_news. Advocating, supporting and fostering the digital health ecosystem in Australia. Yes, I do have the coolest job!