Rummage on innovation


In the latest of our exclusive insights from the NHS Blithering top team, we asked director of new primary care paradigms Dr David Rummage to share his tips on how to be an effective technology enabled GP leader. (Dr Rummage appears by kind permission of Carphone Warehouse and Longstay Group, a not-for-profit GP collaborative for young, healthy people with disposable income.)

Embrace disruptive innovation

People often ask me how to be a disruptive innovator. I tell them it’s all about harnessing the power of digital – and not just as an adjective.

What does that mean? Who knows; but if it’s not available at the touch of a button, or something that creates a pleasurable buzzing sensation in my trousers, I don’t want to know.

Cards on the table: there’s nothing a GP can do that an app can’t do better. Sadly a lot of my colleagues are stuck in the dark ages, when doctors relied on nothing more than empathy, training and medical knowledge.

Ask people what they really want and they will tell you: Uber, Amazon and Tesco Direct.

Many will also mention my own next-generation AI chat bot, Jericho. It’s far more reliable than a GP, at a fraction of the cost.

Those of my colleagues who demand to know if it’s safe are missing the point. It’s all about convenience and choice.

We asked people if they’d rather be sipping a latte in Starbucks, while their virtual GP tells them there’s nothing to worry about, or waiting weeks to be diagnosed with a terminal illness by a conventional doctor suffering from depression, halitosis and overwork.

Guess what they said?

Rewrite the rules slightly

Good leaders tear up the rule book. Great ones scribble on the pages they don’t like and tear a few of them out when no one’s looking.

You can rock the boat or you can work to change the boat over a number of years, starting by getting together with colleagues to discuss the changes you’d like to see in future, with the vague threat of rocking if the vessel doesn’t go in roughly the direction you want.

Sometimes you need to go with the grain to get things done. If it means seeming to agree with government policy, pretending to suck up to the odd minister and flattering colleagues even more pompous than you, ask yourself if that’s a price worth paying – if not for your sake then for the sake of the conference organisers, hotel staff and travel operators who have come to depend on you.

Here are my three top tips for rebel leaders:

  • Lead from very near the front
  • Be the change they want to hear about at the moment
  • Before you bring people on a journey, be prepared to take them for a ride.

It’s all about the software

Patients are much more than a series or ones and zeroes – random values that add up to a lot of income for me – they’re the software that keeps the whole system running.

Sometimes they will need upgrading.

Don’t think of it purely in terms of cost and inconvenience. Think of it instead as another opportunity for disruptive innovation.

Editor: Julian Patterson

Reproduced at by kind permission of Julian Patterson.