This week, Digital Health News grabs 60 seconds with Andy Laverick, Director of IT, Estates & Facilities at George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, who tells us about the origins of his IT obsession and why traditional light switches are old hat.
Why did you become an NHS CIO?
I joined the NHS in 2006 as a Director of ICT after about 15 years in the private sector. I originally thought I would stay for a couple of years then move back to the private sector, but working in the NHS eventually gets under your skin and becomes addictive with the work you do really affecting people positively every day. A few years back I briefly went back into the private sector but couldn’t wait to get back into the busy setting of an acute hospital.
When did your interest in IT begin?
Back in the early early 80s when computing really started to become accessible at home. So as a teenager I went through Sinclair’s ZX80, ZX81 and ZX Spectrum before moving on to a BBC Acorn Electron. I still have an obsession for all the latest gadgets and gear.
Within your organisation, what is the most significant digital achievement of the past 12 months?
The trust has made a number of investments in developing its clinical and administration systems, as well as making improvements in its infrastructure.
No single achievement stands out more than another, but the development of the clinical portal really starts to give the trust the opportunity to start viewing and managing patients in one environment.
What will be the most significant development in healthcare over the next 12 months?
There is a real need to accelerate collaboration with healthcare partners. The NHS needs to increase the pace on navigating through information governance concerns and data-sharing agreements so that technology can show the potential of sharing and collaborating on patient data. The general public see the NHS as a single organisation but we know how fragmented it is, especially the information systems and its ability to do some of the basics that everyone things we already do.
What’s the largest barrier to being a more effective CIO?
The ever-increasing operational and clinical pressures often means that it’s a challenge to keep IT high on the agenda, making it often difficult to get the right engagement to move the ‘Digital Agenda’ forward.
What’s the largest barrier the NHS faces overall in achieving digital transformation?
As above and funding in the right places, which is different to not enough money!
If you have one piece of advice for other NHS CIOs, what would it be?
Surround yourself with good people, network with your peers, and share your success and failures.
Who in the NHS do you admire the most and why?
The unseen staff. The porters, medical records staff, IT technicians, the carpenter, the electrician, the cleaner, the hotel and facilities staff. The list goes on of all the staff that keep the lights on, keep the place clean, feed the staff and patients, keep the technology going and fix the leaking taps, etc.
If you were given £30 million to spend on digital transformation within your trust, where would that money go?
Give me a million and another 29 trusts a million and you’d be surprised what trusts could achieve, without the need of tens of millions. However, if I had to invest in one thing initially – it would be electronic prescribing.
What is the most over-hyped digital innovation in health?
AI and big data
What is the most under-rated digital innovation in health?
AI and big data, due to the over-hype its often overlooked or dismissed.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why?
A paper round during the cold, wet months in the North East when I was growing up. Mind you, it was generally cold and wet all year round.
If you could travel back in time to meet one person, who would it be?
Steve Jobs. People that know me know I’m a bit of an Apple geek.
What’s the last song you listened to (be honest!)
On the radio this morning: Don Mclean – Vincent
What’s your favourite piece of technology at home and why?
Philips Hue lights with motion sensors and ‘Alexa’. Who needs a light switches…
If you could have any other job, what would it be?
I love photography; couldn’t think of anything better than combining that with travelling the world.
In a film of your life, who would play you?
A young Jack Nicholson…