The Big Blue is quite a company. IBM. Thomas Watson, their president, said, in 1943;

‘I think there may be a world market for, maybe, five, computers.’

They were in mainframes, when the rest of the world was in desk-tops. They got into desk tops and we were in laptops. They did laptops and I bought a tablet.

In the meantime they helped take a man to the moon and bring him home safely.

Now, they are in the future whilst most of us are struggling with the now.

They are putting ‘smart’ to work. Watson, Blockchain, security, Cloud, apps, developer communities. Very impressive.

Last week I had the great privilege of listening to their Chief Medical Officer, Mark Davies talk about innovation.

If you ever get the chance to hear him, make the effort, he’s super-well-worth it.

In the most charming way possible he made it clear that the NHS should pull its finger out on all matters IT.

He’s right!

We need a root-n-branch re-think and we’ll have to go through, what Mark might call;

The PAIN Barrier.


… it’s what we have come to expect from the likes of Amazon, on-line grocery stores, banks and all the rest.

They know who we are, remember what we like, suggest things we might want and generally make themselves responsive to what we might need and often never knew was available.

Personalisation is missing in healthcare.

People might think it is intrusive but personalisation is the way it’s going.

For healthcare it’s not so much intrusive as insightful and indispensable.

Knowing about us, what got us to this point in our lives, what our illnesses, accidents and upsets have been and how it might impact on our future, makes sense to me.

Personalisation gives me options and choice.

If I have a longterm condition, it might mean I get connected to other people like me, so we can share experiences.

It means, if you have special dietary needs, the hospital knows in advance and can plan for you.

It might mean knowing my genetic risks, tailor my medication or perhaps giving me an App that reminds me to take it.

Artificial Intelligence…

… I know AI has become a popular fad but with no end in sight to workforce problems, decision support for up-skilled health workers is an inevitability.

Machine learning accumulates knowledge, AI uses the knowledge learns from mistakes and never repeats them… unlike humans.

We are far from overcoming professional suspicion and I know, testing for performance is not testing for outcomes.

Do machines make mistakes? Yes. Do GPs, doctors? Most of the time we never know…

Almost every industry you can think of is using AI to enhance performance, underpin it, make is safer, quicker, or improve decision making.

The NHS lags behind because we can’t demolish reimbursement, liability and training… or don’t want to.

Integrating data sets…

… banks know where we spend our money and supermarkets know, what on. Link it up and at a population health level and you really know what and where your public health targets are.

Pin-point targets, not today’s blunderbuss.

I know the data protection police will have a fit but outcomes must out-way the risk.

On its own my data is only of use to me. Your data and mine, compared and contrasted might be valuable, but all our data, together, is a priceless resource to finding out what makes us unwell, keeps us well, and how well it worked.


The power of networks, across SoMe platforms, is astounding. Think about the extinction-rebellion’s protests, the Arab Spring, Ukraine, the Junior Doctors’ strike.

It all came together on SoMe.

Crowd funding for good causes, opinion shaping at election time.

In healthcare; talking, listening and learning from fellow travellers, patients and professionals, and contentious I know, but access to a doctor, anytime any place, anywhere.

LinkedIn is increasingly used for healthcare jobs and it is sobering to think 5% of all Google searches are for health related topics.

Doesn’t sound a lot? Well, there are 3.2 billion searches a day!

To catch up the NHS has to go through the PAIN barrier of a different curriculum for training, changes to reimbursement, a grown-up rethink about data and seriously interoperable procurement.

Other industries and services have done it and they will tell you, it’s worth the pain.

Contact Roy – please use this e-address – roy.lilley
Know something I don’t – email me in confidence.
Leaving the NHS, changing jobs – you don’t have to say goodbye to us! You can update your Email Address from the link you’ll find right at the bottom of the page, and we’ll keep mailing.
We don’t sell or give access to your email address to any third parties.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Reproduced at by kind permission of Roy Lilley.