What: Giant Health Event
When: November 16th – 18th 2016
Where: The Coronet, Elephant and Castle
This week, I’ve been to the GIANT Health show 2016, investigating what’s been hailed as the UK’s ‘landmark’ showcase for health technology. Founder and CEO Barry Schrier and his team hosted this three-day conference for the first time. So how did it go?
Well, I have to say, first impressions were not great. The Coronet as a venue had much to be desired – a dingy, dark and rather filthy club-come-theatre. Not exactly the type of setting one would imagine for a conference about technology! There were issues with lighting, sound and display as well, and the lack of refreshment – even water – was keenly felt.
Nevertheless, the people there are what makes an event, and is this respect, HTI Labs have done well to attract an incredible variety of the movers and shakers in health tech.
The usual suspects from the medical start up world were present, including Doctify, Doctorpreneurs & exhibiting as a result of winning first and second place respectively in the ACW Awards 2016; Doctor Care Anywhere, MyHealthSpecialist.com.
There was also a presence from educational bodies like Health Education England, and London South Bank University – which, by the way, has a few EU grants available for health tech SMEs, so get in touch if you’re interested!
With such a melting pot of backgrounds all in one room, it was hardly surprising that a recurring theme in many of the talks was collaboration.
With the digital age changing the way we do business, even the largest companies are in danger of falling behind their more nimble start up competitors unless they begin to collaborate and innovate.
Of all the speakers I heard, by far the most passionate and enthusiastic of all was Mike Biselli, president of Catalyst HTI, a soon-to-open ‘integrator’ community in Denver Colorado.
Their objective is to make it possible for large and small health tech companies to work side by side, day in day out, in order to encourage this flow of ideas and this mixture of talent and skill. After all, as Chris Hafner from Newton Enterprise said in a panel debate,
how can large corporate possibly expect to find innovative ideas if the only people they hire are exactly like themselves?
In compliment to this theme, there was a whole floor dedicated to helping budding entrepreneurs to take their first steps in the health tech world.
Venture Capitalist Matt Bradley from gave his advice on how to get investment, Claudia Orrell from MedTech Engine explained how to get started on marketing in this sector, and Meglena Petkova from Lansons explained how PR can promote your brand.
Dr Mahiben Maruthappu, founder of social care company Cera, told us how health tech SMEs can begin to tackle the extraordinarily difficult task of breaking into the NHS, while other sessions focused on how to stop hackers from breaking into your data – a particularly topical subject, given the news this week about the 3 mobile data hack.
The increasing use of big data was a hot topic in general, and was touched on by many.
Shruti Malani Krishnan, co-founder of Powr of You, gave a fascinating talk about actually paying consumers for using their anonymised personal data. She explained how this could be used to enhance clinical trials by allowing researchers to see how patient behaviour affects their response to treatment, for example.
It is clear that health tech is a huge and exciting space, but the big question for the UK is, can all these innovative technological and digital solutions really affect change in the NHS?
Are they really addressing the problem, or is it more often a case, as it has been in the past, of technology for the sake of technology?
In the Clinical UX session led by Dr Gyles Morrisson, clinicians in the audience raised their long-standing frustrations with the poor IT infrastructure in the NHS, and the sheer lack of understanding of clinical need and workflow. There is a palpable fear that health tech is just something that CCGs commission to show they’re doing something, without actually consulting the end users.
All in all, I’m glad I went to GIANT.
In the era of Brexit and Trump, it’s going to be an interesting time for healthcare, and I can’t imagine how the NHS will survive unless it innovates. Amongst the thousands of health tech companies now putting out their feelers, maybe some of them will deliver tangible solutions to the challenges we face.