David Walliker, chief information officer (CIO) at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust talks about his digital ambitions at the global digital exemplar trust. Catching up at iLinks at Aintree Racecourse, Walliker told Digital Health News who inspired him to become a CIO, about the new Royal hospital and which action hero he’d like to play him in a movie.

Why did you become an NHS CIO?

I wanted to influence from the top down.

I did private sector before I worked in the NHS, and you come in the NHS because you want to work in the health service and you want to make a difference.

The easiest way to change something is to design it, so that’s what motivated me to become a CIO so I could influence at board level.

Within your organisation, what is the most significant digital achievement of the past 12 months?

Paper free.

That was an enabler to everything else, so our PENS system replaced the paper. And, our white board solution, that’s the really exciting thing from the last 12 months. But you couldn’t have done that if you had paper floating around the system.

What will be the most significant of the next 12 months?

Moving into a new hospital [the new city centre Royal].

What’s the biggest barrier to being a more effective CIO in Liverpool?

The fragmentation of our health and social care system, we have great programmes, great visions, great leaders and everything is clinically led, all the trust board chief executives are signed onto it. But simply by the fact that in North Mersey there’s eight hospitals, means you’ve got eight sets of interoperability, eight different data standards.

If you were designing the NHS from scratch, you wouldn’t.

What’s the biggest barrier the NHS faces overall in achieving digital transformation?

Probably public confidence in the solutions being offered because to truly transform we’ve got to collate research based data and then we’ve got to do that in the Cloud.

If you have one piece of advice for other NHS CIOs, would would it be?

Have a vision, stick to it and don’t give up.

Who in the NHS do you admire the most and why?

Patients and their carers, because they’re the ones that run the business of healthcare and we’ve got a responsibility to make that better for them. But, I wouldn’t want to pick out anyone, because I think everyone is brilliant who works in it.

If you were given £30 million to spend on digital transformation within your trust, where would that money go?

I would spend £20 million on artificial intelligence and machine learning to tell me how to best spend the other £10 million.

We’ve got to take that data, and we’ve got to inform from it.

What is the most over-hyped digital innovation in health?

I would say open source because I think open source is held up as this panacea saviour to all things that aren’t open source. And open source has its place, and we should be exploiting it more, but it’s not the answer to the problem. It’s not open source is the answer, what is the question?

The question is why don’t our eco-systems talk to each other?

What is the most under-rated digital innovation in health?

Nurse’s watch.

And a few non-digital questions, what’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why?

That would be my first ever Saturday job, working in a holiday camp in North Wales, and my job every Saturday morning was to pick up all the dirty sheets, take them to field, and put all the pink ones in a bundle and all the blue ones in a bundle and then put them in the linen bin.

It still haunts me now and it was 25 years ago!

If you could invite three people, alive or dead, to dinner who would they be?

I’d have my uncle John, he was the whole reason I aspired to be an IT leader and he was a great man.

I’d have Elon Musk and Tim Cook, and I’d invite them both so they could work out how to put a decent battery in an iPhone, while me and my Uncle John have a nice catch up!

What’s the background image on your home computer?

Don’t have one, refuse to have a computer at home.

What’s your favourite piece of technology at home and why?

My kettle, my analogue kettle, not anything special.

If you could have any other job, what would it be?

Tottenham manager.

In a film of your life, who would play you?

Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer.

Walliker picked 24 action lead, Jack Bauer, to play him in the movie of his life.