NHS Digital Pioneer Fellowship 2018 gets off to a flying start

“Powerful day pitching our digital projects, considering the impact of design thinking and sharing the gritty problems that come with bringing digital solutions to the NHS. Loved it!”

“A hugely stimulating and productive day. Loads to mentally digest and now I need to consider how I apply today’s learning to my role.”

Just some of the feedback we received from the inaugural Action Learning Day for the NHS Digital Pioneer Fellowship 2018 Cohort. A full day, which kicked off with some inspirational words of encouragement from Dr Harpreet Sood, NHS England, followed by 24 incredibly good 3-minute project pitches from each of the fellows. Everyone had the opportunity to fully appreciate the type and scale of impact that was being led by each other for NHS organisations and populations. Some projects have national reach – such as the roll out of AliveCor used to identify people with suspected Atrial Fibrillation, with other projects having city-wide [London] reach, such as the roll out of Health Help Now across NWL, roll out of e-discharge summaries across NCL and NEL, the roll out of e-consultations in NWL, Care Home adoption of NHS mail, and developing digitally enabled early intervention across Essex. The majority of the projects have a local organisation and population impact and cover a wide range of interventions to support Cystic Fibrosis communities, Asthma pathway, Radiotherapy and Imaging, e-prescribing, app delivered exercise prescriptions, Speech and Language therapy, use of Virtual Reality in mental health, dashboards, pre-admissions, and more.

So often we get incredibly excited about the founders of the tech companies, their gadgets and apps. Or we get carried away by the stories of the huge levels of funding raised. But we forget that in healthcare, value can quickly dissipate if the innovations fail to be successfully adopted and spread. This is where our NHS Digital Pioneer Fellows take the stage. They are the people in the system making innovation adoption happen, which in turn will have a positive impact on the prosperity of the health tech community innovating in this space.

The fellowship is designed to seed new ways of thinking and approaching problems that the fellows will inevitably be facing with their projects. It is a catalyst for identifying areas of need and support to drive greater impact through their digital transformation projects and matching the fellows with ‘mentors’ who can offer some much needed guidance.

On Day 1 the fellows came up close and personal with Design Thinking tools and techniques, in interactive sessions expertly led by Uscreates. The fellowship also provides the time and space that the fellows don’t often have the luxury of in their tight and pressurised jobs, to really connect with and draw from, the wisdom and challenge from ‘like-minded’ people, through Action Learning Sets. The day was topped off by an insight talk on Behavioural Insights – Lessons learned: developing effective digital behaviour change innovation, delivered by Dr Tim Chadborn, Public Health England.

Now that the programme is in full flight, keep an eye out for the emerging stories of the fellows on the front line of innovation, as they develop through the next 10-12 months, with a focus on how they are overcoming the barriers to making transformation happen.