Want to innovate? Start listening

In my last post, I wrote about the launch of the Babylon health service here in the UK, and how I observed the omission of the T&Cs and privacy policy from the website. I tweeted about it early on Tuesday morning, and by Wednesday evening, Babylon's website had been updated. Ali Parsa, founder of Babylon left a comment at the bottom of that blog post, explaining that they'd listened to me, and made changes to their website. This simple act of listening (and responding swiftly) is extremely powerful in fostering a culture of trust. Other healthcare organisations, both large & small would be well placed to learn from Babylon's leadership. It's also a lesson for innovators, who would benefit from listening to the needs & potential concerns of their users before launching a new product. 

Still begs the question, if innovators working in a regulated space, are legally obliged to have such lengthy terms, full of complex legal jargon, what if we had easy to understand terms for mobile health apps? Would that result in MORE patients feeling they can trust these new services?

If the regulators are listening, please do something about this.

It's disconcerting to observe brilliant people like Ali Parsa, pushing the boundaries of healthcare but having to operate within a regulatory framework designed for the 20th century. 

Listening & connecting - it's an exciting combination! 

I was honoured to be part of a panel discussion yesterday, titled 'Facilitating innovation with Open Health Data', hosted by the Connected Digital Economy Catapult. It was the launch of the Open Health Data platform, where "We're challenging technologists, analysts, visualisers and businesses to show the world what can be done with open health data." [For a definition of Open Data, see here]

The discussion generated a number of insights, many of which centred around privacy of our health data, and who in the future will have access to it, and who might be profiting from it. It's clear that simply saying, let's share more of our health data in the public domain so we can innovate in healthcare, is not enough to convince the general public. A national (and ideally global) debate to help us move forwards is sorely needed. Is anyone listening?

From my perspective, yesterday was also the tube strike in London, so many people, had to walk much more than normal (including me).

It got me thinking, what if Open Health data was 'mashed up' with the aggregate data from Fitbit users in London to quantify the impact of the tube strike on both people's health as well as the NHS? Would a side effect of the tube strike mean that people walked more and the number of visits to GPs declined in the next few days? Or would this 'mashup' reveal that there were more walking related injuries placing pressure on the system? If the former, should London's public health policy including closing the tube once a month?

What if GPS data of ambulances was open, just like the bus & train GPS? Could a startup build an app that allowed you to understand exactly how long it would be before the ambulance arrived to your home? Would such an app have helped the rugby player who waited 2 hours for an ambulance

What was most surprising for me was how the Neil Crockett, the CEO of this new 'Digital Catapult' wanted to listen to the audience and understand what they needed to build new services, new companies and to innovate in Digital Health. I've often returned to London after my visits to Silicon Valley, feeling frustrated and despondent with some of the 'risk averse' attitudes displayed by some leaders in London (when compared with the mindset of leaders in the Valley).

However, I left the event yesterday feeling full of hope for the future, that there is now an organisation in my home city that is truly prepared to listen to the needs of Digital innovators. In my eyes, it's a real turning point, and over time, might even encourage our brightest minds to stay in the UK rather than leaving for Silicon Valley. 

Taken from the Digital Catapult's website, "Our key differentiator lies in our neutral convenor role. There are many opportunities for industry-led innovation and growth that have not gained traction because of commercial tensions between the players. The UK's innovation landscape has many areas of excellence but is often fragmented and lacks critical mass – we will act as a connector to bring innovators together to collaborate on programmes and projects of significance." 

Upon leaving the event, I got an email about an event in London next month, 'The future of Digital Britain: Why technology should be front & centre of parties' ideas for the 2015 election'. Is it me, or do others also feel a new energy pulsating through the UK this year?

The rise (and fall) of Wearable Technology?

You may have noticed recently that commentators are dismissing 'wearable tech' as a fad & that the market is dead. Well, two signs it might not be a fad. The world's largest online retailer, Amazon, has just launched a 'wearable tech' storefront

Then, this weekend in London, a 2 day free (but sold out!) event on Wearable Technologies, not just with demos of current tech, but asking questions such as;

"Will your smartphone soon become outmoded?" 

"Will you be buying clothing with location technologies?"

"Maybe your socks will record your journey history?" 

So, WHO do you currently listen to? Are you listening to the people who created the past, or are you listening to the people creating the future?

If you are listening, are you listening without judgement?

What's it going to take before your organisation decides that 'listening' becomes one of the key ingredients in the recipe for innovation in Digital Health?

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