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Calling all suppliers: Matt Hancock needs YOU!

A government department launching a consultation to get the views of the health and health tech industry is nothing new. We’ve all been there and done that. We’ve spent time on collating and refining our views, sending them over and forgetting it ever really happened until a document emerges a year later. By this time, some of those views will already be out of date, there will probably be a new focus for the NHS, or innovators will have run out of cash and have headed to a different market or geography.

The Future of Healthcare policy paper, described as Hancock’s initial technology strategy, calls for suppliers to provide open-ended feedback on the priorities set out in the document. These include the guiding principles, the proposals around digital services innovation and skills and culture, the barriers and opportunities for health tech and also to provide examples of good practice.

But this time there is something different. There is momentum, there is willingness of the masses and there is a health secretary that is extremely passionate, tech savvy and has a detailed focus on software, data and the change it can bring.

Put simply – those in government, who care about the NHS, are listening but they might not be forever. So here are some key points, to help your contribution to land on the desks of those who matter:

  1. Do it now, right now – this government is all ears and ideas have a genuine chance of being picked up.
  2. Don’t be disheartened if you weren’t heard before – you have to be in it to win it. If you don’t get your views heard there is no chance of them being considered. Give this Secretary of State a chance.
  3. Be realistic – it’s great that you have a vision about what the NHS might be like in 20 years but think about the now, the near and the far and focus on them in that order.
  4. Collaborate with your team who have similar views and can help to develop your thinking. If you’re not sure what you think, enlist outside help to help you formulate your opinions.
  5. Get technical – the devil is in the detail, the healthcare system is complicated and may require complex answers rather than just top-level thinking. (That said, don’t get too carried away with the technical jargon)
  6. Publish your views elsewhere – advisors look on comment boards (especially Digital Health and HSJ) and for interesting opinion pieces, so the more your views are heard, the more chance you have of them being considered.

As clinician, academic and chair of the Healthtech Advisory Board, Ben Goldacre has said: “There’s a trolley, trundling through Whitehall and the NHS, with ‘Make NHS IT Better’ written on the side. If you throw your thoughts into that trolley, right now, they will join all the other ideas, problems and plans. They’ll all get looked at and cooked with. If you’ve tried before, try again because if you wait too long, it might be too late.” Provide your input here.