We took the opportunity to kick off the new year and launch our 2020-2023 business strategy to deliver on our purpose to turn great ideas into positive health impact at our first regional leaders’ innovation forum last Thursday.
Given the Eastern region is world leading at the frontier of a convergence between health and tech, we brought together senior leaders across our innovation ecosystem to ask what the proliferation of data science means for the future of the NHS, discuss how to interpret data and communicate risk responsibly and debate to what extent should we use AI and big data in our decision making.
After an overview on our purpose, strategic direction and profiling some of our successes over the past year delivered by some of our senior team, Mark Avery (Director of Health Informatics at Eastern AHSN and Cambridge University Health Partners) and Sarah Sleet (CEO Crohn’s and Colitis UK) showcased the work they are doing in collaboration with partners, including the NIHR BioResource centre and Crohn’s and Colitis UK, to improve the treatment of patients with inflammatory bowel disease using a cloud research environment to better understand how they will respond to treatment based on their genetic data.
Dr Kenji Takeda, Director of Health and AI Partnerships (Academic) at Microsoft Research, took to the stage next to talk about the democratisation of data science and how research can be advanced with wider access to cloud computing and AI to empower researchers and the NHS to do better, faster, and more reproducible data science research. He shared both future looking initiatives and things that are happening right now thanks to this new technology – from decoding rare diseases to lessons we could apply to healthcare from the aerospace industry. Importantly he was keen to share with delegates the importance of ensuring that researchers follow strict ethical principles and had the necessary security measures in place to ensure data is managed securely.
Next up was Dr Alex Freeman, Director of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge, who works with institutions and individuals to improve the way evidence is communicated to all of us with the guiding principle to inform, not persuade. Before joining the Winton Centre, Alex had a 16 year career at the BBC, working on series such as Bang Goes the Theory, Climate Change by Numbers and as series producer of Trust Me, I’m a Doctor and believes that to make good decisions we all need good evidence which is clearly communicated. She shared her passion with delegates about helping professionals including doctors, journalists and legal professionals communicate numbers and uncertainty better and specifically how to communicate risk clearly to enable patients to make empowered decisions about their own health.
The evening was rounded off with a lively debate between the panel and delegates, questioning whether we are ready for the new information age and how the NHS would benefit and access these latest innovations that are being developed on our doorstep.
We hope delegates left enthused about the opportunities for collaboration and the potential for delivering better care for patients.
Whilst we appreciate we couldn’t fit everyone in the room for our first event please do get in touch if you are leader working in health innovation and would like to be invited to our future regional leaders’ innovation forums (our next event is planned for June). If you can’t wait that long, we will also be publishing some of the talks and highlights on this page soon and hope that we can continue the conversations kicked off last night and make 2020 one to remember.