Tech London Advocates' HealthTech Innovator Conference interview with Helen Shaw

We are hosting and co-organising the Tech London Advocates' HealthTech Innovator Conference and ahead of the panel event we have interviewed Helen Shaw, of Connecting People to preview her views on the HealthTech industry, collaboration and more.
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Simmons & Simmons is hosting and co-organising the Tech London Advocates' HealthTech Innovator Conference on the morning of 11 June 2019 as part of London Tech Week.

Click here to find out more about Tech London Advocates' HealthTech Innovator Conference

The event will provide opportunities for health start-ups and scale-ups to pitch and demo their innovations, and attendees will also be hearing from pharma, charities and corporates about innovation and collaboration opportunities.

This year, the conference will also feature a panel event, with speakers from leading healthcare organisations including HealthTech advocate Helen Shaw, of Connecting People.

We interviewed Helen ahead of the panel event to preview her views on the HealthTech industry, collaboration and more.

Thanks for joining us today, Helen. Could you please share your HealthTech background with us?

Helen Shaw: Yes, of course. I originally trained as a graphic designer. However, my passion was predominantly in health and fitness, so I turned to that area as my main career. This is where my interest in technology started to spin out – when I started to use computers that could help fitness- test people.

I then spent some time travelling abroad in Australia and New Zealand before completing a masters’ degree in Leisure Management & Business administration. Combining all my skills, I then went into the world of digital and mobile, taking a sales business development role at a major UK mobile network in 1998.

Ever since then, I’ve been involved in the mobile network industry and digital communications at some of the key major players in the UK, until I decided to set up my own venture this year, Connecting People Consultancy.

Through my roles with major mobile network providers here in the UK, I’ve worked with the NHS, government and healthcare providers on mobile tech and connectivity projects from integrating mobile into N3 to the roll out of 4G and more recently 5G test beds.

With your extensive experience in the sector, how important do you consider collaboration in the industry to be?

Helen Shaw: It’s absolutely key. Take my current independent venture for example – what I am doing is helping start-ups link in with larger companies, NHS, Local government and healthcare providers, working on projects where I help people deliver improved sustainable healthcare outcomes.

The reason I’ve called it Connecting People is that, it’s not always about the technology – it is about the people. When people don’t collaborate, things don’t work out.

The world is now a small place. I know various countries and healthcare systems may deal with healthcare service provision differently in terms of governance, and so forth, but diseases are the same. Cancer is cancer whether here in the UK or elsewhere.

From that point of view, I’ve found that collaborations are so important, to enable us to learn from each other to arrive at the best outcomes for people.

And what do you see as the biggest barriers to progress in the HealthTech industry?

Helen Shaw: There needs to be a shift in mindset from wealth to health. Take New Zealand for example. They have started measuring success not in terms of GDP but in terms of wellbeing. My belief is we all need to move toward that way of thinking for the greater good of people.

Second, we need to ensure everyone can understand what they need to. While there are lots of hugely intelligent people doing incredible things with technology, sometimes elements can be lost in jargon – on both sides. Patients don’t always understand medical language and medical practitioners don’t always understand tech language or the tech itself. If we were to get people adopting, learning and understanding, technology better, and were able to cut the jargon, explaining things in human terms that both sides could understand, then technologies would be adopted more easily by all demographics.

What has been the biggest change in the HealthTech sector in the last 5 to 10 years?

Helen Shaw: Healthcare has become more consumerised. Now that the mobile tech and infrastructure are getting there with 5G on the horizon, we have the right environment to get the digital health revolution really going at pace.

Health, both mental and physical, is the most important thing in people’s lives and it affects everyone. Therefore, if you can keep healthcare low cost, and simple, and minimise risk through digital, you’ve got the next big thing in healthcare transformation.

Over the last five to 10 years, the speed of technological change has accelerated exponentially. In addition, patients are wanting to take more control of their health and to access their own data. I do feel that people should own their own data, and power must be put in the hands of the patient to help them manage their records the way they want to be managed and ultimately manage their health better.

Finally, what are you looking forward to most about London Tech Week?

Helen Shaw: I’m really looking forward to the wide range of tech events and the networking – I absolutely love meeting new people doing great things in HealthTech, broadening knowledge and understanding. I am particularly looking forward to seeing where the collaborative synergies are between start-ups and larger organisations, private and public, and hearing more about all the new upcoming HealthTech solutions and technologies that can really make a difference.

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