On the conference scene (1 of 5)

Having attended 4 healthcare conferences over the past months I wanted to share some of the main content and thinking from these events. These recap posts will hopefully act as a quick update on what’s being discussed across wider healthcare circles and might reinforce or augment some of your thinking and work too! Each event had ‘lean forward’ moments. It is these which I’ve distilled out in the respective blog posts. I also make observations on the general buzz and vibe around the coffee and lunch tables. While these are subjective observations, I think they help in offering a perspective on current attitudes in the sector. Perhaps some of you reading these posts attended the same events as I did. If so, I’d be very interested to hear your observations.

Now, one post covering all 4 events would be a rather clumsy read. So, I’ll do this over 5 separate posts. Why five? Well, the usual conference formula could do with an update to intensify their value, relevance and impact. I’ll share some top tips on how to do this in post 5 of 5.

The events (and their host organisations) that will be covered in this series of posts, are:

  1. “Acting on Future Health” – Imperial College Business School
  2. “A Question of Quality” – HCA Healthcare UK
  3. “8th National Symposium: How patient outcome and experience data is transforming global healthcare” – iWantGreatCare
  4. “The Private Healthcare Summit 2017” – Intuition Communication


Let’s start with Acting on Future Health – Imperial College Business School (IB)

Prof James Barlow, Prof of Technology & Innovation Management at Imperial College, who co-chaired this event opened with this: “Providing affordable, sustainable healthcare to all is one of the biggest global challenges today”.  So, we were in for a more global look at health systems and how to address the challenges faced.

The disconnect between the pace of change in science & tech and the glacial pace of change in delivery systems in healthcare was identified very early in the proceedings. We should be focusing on innovating the delivery side of the equation too i.e. payment systems, delivery mechanisms and the business models which support them as much as pushing for more tech and better medicines.

This early discussion on innovation, what it means and how to innovate at scale played out as a central theme throughout the day; unsurprising since IB is known for its work on innovation and entrepreneurship. A presentation by Rebecca Fogg from the Clayton Christensen Institute on “Disruptive Innovation” was fascinating. When we talk about disruptive innovations we need to think beyond the product, was the message. These simple mantras will help anyone who is either in this space or is thinking about being a disruptor:

  1. Disruptive innovation is not just about the product, it is about a new business model
  2. Disruptive innovation transforms the complex and costly into the simple and affordable
  3. It’s about competing differently and solving a different problem to incumbents

Later in the day, we were introduced to the Dementia Discovery Fund; first time that many, including me, had heard about it. The DDF is a venture fund but with a unique view. It aims to look beyond the neurosciences to better understand the disease and to explore novel approaches via public-private partnerships, and the like, to find therapeutic solutions for meeting this growing global need.

A final lean-forward moment…be careful next time you hear this assertion “people won’t travel for better services”. This thinking is pervasive in healthcare. The assumption is that we need to build more services to offer better access for patients. This is not supported by Prof Carol Propper et al’s work at Imperial. She explained that when allowing patients to travel (when previously they could not) their travel patterns show that they will by-pass local hospitals to go to better ones. More sophisticated demand analyses by several sets of authors also show that people will trade off (at the margin) distance versus some other (clinically related) attribute of the service.

We found the same when Saffron Steer commissioned consumer research for one of our projects. Our findings were that people will travel further if services, for example diagnostic scans, are available more quickly.

What I liked about this conference and the general vibe: Liked its format which was mostly panel based discussions, with only a few ‘solo’ speakers. This format generated much livelier discussion and participation from the audience. The vibe was inquisitive, probably because of the multi-sector representation at the conference; there were people from pharma, devices, finance and the built environment.

Checkout #mobilisebusiness on Twitter for more of the buzz on this event.

 Next post in the series will be on the 2nd Question of Quality” seminar hosted by HCA Healthcare UK.