A guest blog written by Phil Barrett, Director & Programme Manager, Ripple Foundation in response to the Corsham Institute Digital Health and Care Thought Leadership Event’.

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I’ve worked in Health IT for over 5 years now and it feels like a system on autopilot. Decision makers invest in systems that are widely recognised as lacking usability with limited or no communication to other clinical systems leading to systems that are failing patients and yet we continue with no options for change. Compounding the issue further is that the public sector in the UK desperately needs to become sustainable, yet millions of pounds are committed to the same large vendors that provide solutions that are often inadequate.

When we think of the NHS in the UK we need to appreciate that it is one brand made up of 1000s of separate organisations, that all make their own independent decisions and this has accelerated a system that lacks interoperability and has led to frustrations for clinicians and patients.  

We all recognise the importance of innovation across all sectors of society, but yet in Health IT there feels to be limited choice. I’ve met with countless SMEs over the years with great ideas and great innovation, but common themes continue to come up, such as:

  • the barriers of entry are too high
  • the market feels sewn up with the incumbent suppliers
  • who do I speak to, to make people aware?
  • how can we get a foot in the door to show ideas working in the real world?

We need to think differently about technology in the public sector, we need to take back control. That is why in 2016, Dr Tony Shannon, Dylan Roberts and I established the not for profit, Ripple Foundation. The Foundation supports the adoption of an open health and care platform.  Open digital platforms present a real opportunity to stimulate innovation, providing new ways of working that will create a digital health and care marketplace, based around services and away from proprietary, locked in solutions.

I believe we need to work and think differently.  Decision makers do have a choice and they can choose another way:

  • they can collaborate
  • they can act and work as a joined-up system instead of just for their own organisation
  • they can have more confidence and demonstrate leadership with innovative technology, looking at opportunities to pool technical and clinical knowledge as well as funds and tap into a more competitive services market
  • they can ask the marketplace to solve some of the gaps and ensure that the code that is then developed is shared on a recognised open source licence.

Ripple Foundation has and continues to make significant efforts in helping and supporting organisations and people to think differently.  As part of the work we’ve been appealing along with Handi Health, Synapta and many more, for an Open Digital Platform Challenge Fund that we have called the #1percentfund.  Diverting 1% of available Healthcare IT funds to an open digital challenge fund we believe could improve the care of 99% of the population, by stimulating and supporting both the creation and adoption of an open digital ecosystem internationally.

We hope this Open Digital Platform Challenge Fund could help any interested clinical and technical leaders to implement a different approach to the issues we are facing. In England that 1% would equate to £40 million. Can you imagine what such funds could achieve if well spent?

We’ve had over 45 expressions of interest from healthcare organisations and SMEs across the UK and the Republic of Ireland that want to help stimulate this marketplace and help transform Healthcare IT, with reusable modules, infrastructural components and solutions. The appetite for change is growing and we are now seeking, through a more joined up approach, national organisations to recognise the clear benefit of this initiative and release the necessary funds to enable this needed change.  

To find out more about the 1% Open Digital Platform Challenge Fund please go to our website and show your support by spreading the word.

 

Notes:

  1. Ripple Foundation is a community interest company that is supporting the adoption of an open health and care platform.  It is a clinically led team that is working with communities to support an integrated digital care platform for today and the future, that is open source and underpinned by an open architecture that can be used worldwide.
  2. Ripple Foundation is supporting and promoting the #1percent Open Digital Platform Challenge Fund that is hoped will stimulate and support both the creation and adoption of an open digital ecosystem for the nation.