On Friday 12th May NHS IT and communication systems up and down the UK were shut down as Hospitals and GP surgeries fell victim to a ransomware attack on their computer systems. Staff were presented with a screen stating that their files had been encrypted and demanded $300 in Bitcoins, an online currency, in order to make the data usable again. The virus spread quickly across the heavily networked but aging NHS infrastructure. Affected organisations gave the order to shut down all IT systems to halt the spread and large parts of the NHS lost all telephone and computer systems as they were returned to the world of pen and paper.
At my surgery in Nottingham, we were without computer systems for three working days. Being under “cyber attack” was an interesting experience.
The effect of losing multiple systems all at once was extremely disruptive. To make matters worse, our IT support and CCG also lost the use of their phones, email and computers at the same time. It was impossible to report problems upward, communicate with our colleagues or receive instructions about how to react or respond.
However, we in General Practice and the NHS are an adaptable bunch. It was only a matter of minutes before we were handwriting on the paper from our printers and dusting off the BNFs. Reception did a great job of recreating our appointment ledger on a white board. Patients were understanding. Staff turned to social media and news websites on their phones for information. Before long people across the system were finding alternative ways of communicating, using mobile phone numbers, facebook, twitter and personal emails to cascade information and coordinate our response. Our staff even drove around neighbouring practices to inform them of the instructions to switch off their IT.
It happened after I was facilitating a session at an event focused on supporting ST3 GPs as they transition into the workforce after GP training. A GP Registrar approached a colleague and I…
“We feel worried. We are looking to those ahead of us in our careers to see what you are doing about the government proposals for 8-8 working. We don’t see any action. Hospital doctors mounted a coordinated campaign against contractual changes. You don’t seem to be doing anything about it. Where is the resistance?”
I paused for a moment… I can calm his fears and provide some reassurance, I thought. It feels to me that in my area we have been doing a lot in anticipation of the push for 8-8 access. Of course, he probably just isn’t aware of it…
“Well”, I said, “Practices have come together and formed a federation. Essentially a company owned collectively by the practices. We have put together a proposal, based on available details of the likely service specifications, to tender for the 8-8 working. The intention is to deliver the service in a way that minimises negative impacts on practices and GPs who cannot, or choose not to, be involved, whilst enabling those practices and staff who are interested in being paid for the extra work to do so. Maximising the potential for improving patient access whilst minimising negative impacts on patients, practices and care.”
You may have noticed that I haven’t posted for a few weeks. No, I have not been off on an Easter holiday to the sun. I have in fact been hard at work on another project. Busy wearing another of my hats as Honorary Secretary of the RCGP Vale of Trent Faculty, I have been helping organise a day conference and then editing video and building a website to showcase the event.
My guest post on the ValeofTrent.org.uk explains how we delivered an innovative day conference along with a website to showcase the events and host video of talks, sessions and a promo video for working in our area. All on a tight budget.
The Transitions2017 day conference took place on 29/3/17. For many years the RCGP Vale of Trent Faculty has hosted this spring time event for ST3 GP Registrars with the aim of preparing our new GPs for the world of work and life after GP training. The event covers a range of non clinical topics ranging from resilience and technology to managing your finances and revalidation. This article describes how we built on our recent tradition of innovation at this event.
In particular, we are proud of our use of low cost video and web products to make the experience of the day available online, free of charge for existing and future GP trainees. We are also proud of our filming on the day for our “Choose GP, Choose Vale of Trent” promotional video.
Previously, at our 2016 Transitions event…
We introduced our first of it’s kind (to our knowledge) GP Speed Dating recruitment event. As in many regions, practices in the Vale of Trent can struggle to find GPs. With over 70 new GPs about to finish training, together in one place, we couldn’t resist inviting practices from across the area who were in need of new GPs along to a Speed Dating style recruitment event. The event drew the attention of PulseToday and GPFrontline and you can read more about it here.
We also extended invitations for the event to include First5 GPs. The day is a great opportunity for for First5 GPs, particularly those new to the area, to meet other new GPs and connect with the faculty, practices and other local support organisations.
At our annual faculty away day, we were determined to build on last year’s innovations. The Faculty Board identified a number of aspirations for the coming year, including…
Your work in clinical medicine has given you a unique perspective and insight. You have asked the right questions and identified an important opportunity for improving care. You want to bring this innovation to the world.
You have the fortitude, ambition and grit required become the founder your own health technology startup. In fact, many of these qualities are what gave you the drive to succeed in your medical career.
You have researched your market and your competitors. You have developed your innovation from idea to a minimum viable product (MVP). The signal from potential customers is positive.
You are aware of the skills, knowledge and qualities that are needed to take the project forward. Your first key team members, advisors and mentors are in place.
You are ready to move forward, but something is missing. People, materials, equipment, stock, marketing… These things are going to cost MONEY.
Where will you find the funding to take things forward?
Welcome back to part ⅘ of my series of posts about the world of health innovation and startup culture. This series was inspired by the excellent Doctorpreneurs day conference that I attended in November last year (2016). If you have missed any earlier posts then please do catch up.
You’ve been keeping up with friends on Facebook for years. Email is pouring into multiple professional and personal accounts. Clinical tasks are piling up. Will you return that call to your mum? Invitations from colleagues to connect on LinkedIn, are gathering dust in your inbox… Maybe you actually need to meet with someone face to face?..
We are now expected to communicate using an overwhelming selection of different channels and networks. Many of us are already frustrated. So why would you want to use yet another social network?
Twitter is one of the more mature and well known social networks. But it is also one of the hardest to understand.
Why would a busy clinician use Twitter?
Twitter allows users to broadcast SHORT updates of up to 140 characters to the whole world. ALL other twitter users can choose to follow what you are saying and can find anything you have previously posted. You choose who to follow, but ANYONE can follow you.
It is this, brevity, openness and global reach which set twitter apart from the other social networks.
My path to Twitter…
I have a confession to make. I am a fairly new to using twitter regularly. As someone who identifies as being forward thinking and tech savvy, for a long time I had felt a little guilty for not being on board the twitter train. But like many people, I just couldn’t see how it would be useful to me.
As a youngster, Saturday afternoon’s meant watching the A-Team. My favourite character was Hanibal, the ex-army colonel who always had a plan, and a cigar, to hand. The others all had some issue or another; BA’s poor people skills, Murdoch’s mental health challenges and Face’s loose morals. But, it was clear why Hannibal needed them. He couldn’t get the job done on his own. They had mission critical skills that he did not. He needed his team.
So you are a potential Health Tech founder. You have a great idea and a plan to make it a success. Now things get complicated. The next steps will involve forming a company, handling investments and accounts, developing software or physical products, marketing and dealing with staff… It will be impossible to know how, or have the time, to do all of these things effectively without help…
You need to form a team.
Welcome back for part 3 of my 5 part series about the Health Technology Startup scene. These posts are based on my notes and reflections from the Doctorpreneurs Day Conference held at St Thomas Hospital London on Saturday 5th November 2016.
Whether you are a medic thinking about developing a health innovation outside of the NHS, or simply looking for fresh ideas about how to implement change within the health service, there is a lot which can be learned from the Tech Startup scene. Please see the other posts in this series.