Humans of Healthtech: Women Celebrate Failure
Our Operations Assistant Hannah attended the Humans of Healthtech: Women Celebrate Failure event. Find out why failing can be a good thing!
On the 6th March I attended ‘Humans of Healthtech: Women Celebrate Failure’, held by One HealthTech at the Deepmind Offices in London. As a society, we are pretty afraid of failure; both experiencing it and admitting it. So, the goal of this event was to explore the ways in which failure–in the world of healthtech–can be embraced.
The speakers were:
- Denise Silber, Founder of Doctors 2.0 & You
- Cosima Gretton, Clinical Product Manager at Mindstrong Health
- Mona Nasser, Associate Professor of Evidence based Dentistry at University of Plymouth
- Isabelle Bärgh, User Experience Designer at DeepMind
- Mary Akangbe, Founder and President of Zenith Global Health
- Lorin Gresser, CEO at Dem Dx
- Zainab Hussain, Clinical Pharmacist at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust
According to Denise Silber, 10% of global unicorns are from the world of healthtech! But that is not to say that this landscape has not witnessed failure. When searching ‘health’ on G-Cloud 10 alone, over 1,800 listings appear, and I have no doubt that the upcoming G-Cloud 11 will list even more. So, it would be foolish to suggest that none of these companies have ever experienced business or technological setbacks.
What our brilliant speakers sought to show us was how we could learn and grow from failure, with a focus on testing, training and transparency. All of these factors are fundamental when selling to government, so take note of tips for utilising failure during the next iteration of G-Cloud.
Compared with other industries, the consequences of healthtech failures seem much more frightening, with potential life or death scenarios. A number of speakers addressed this issue; but instead of focusing on the risks of failure, they discussed the idea of failing before it counts. Isabella Bärgh explained her experience with testing numerous iterations of a healthcare solution–and doing so with medical professionals–in order to achieve the best end results and optimising patient care. By experiencing and addressing failures before they count, we are ‘designing for failure’, leading to higher chances of success when it actually counts.
Another way in which technology can help us to ‘design for failure’ involves simulation. Mona Nasser discussed the potential of VR in healthtech, and how such tech could be utilised to simulate and test medical solutions in a safe environment. However, Cosima emphasised the need for contextual pressures, cognitive strains and distractions to be invoked in such scenarios, in order to plan for and address failure as it happens.
This is exactly where VR and AR come into play for the Department of Health and Social Care. By virtualising or augmenting medical scenarios, a professional will be able to test medical solutions in a context similar to that in which they would be used, creating more realistic outcomes. So, with the rising potential of VR and AR in the health sector, the imminent opening of G-Cloud 11 is well timed – if your company has a relevant technology to help the DHSC design for failure, get yourself onto this framework.
Failure is crucial in teaching tech users and suppliers to improve their solutions. Speaker Zainac Hussain put it this way: the reaction to adversity is more important than adversity itself – instability is an intrinsic part of the technology landscape, so we must use these circumstances as opportunities for improvement.
Cosima Gretton made the point that when tech failures happen in health and social care, it is usually down to the human-technology interface. That is, due to the growing reliance on technology in the healthcare system, people become more complacent in understanding how the tech works, and then fail to spot errors. For example: a technology that auto-prescribes medication to patients has an error in which the wrong dosage is prescribed. The clinician monitoring this sees the abnormality but assumes the tech is correct. As a result, the wrong dosage is prescribed to the patient.
In short, clinicians must not solely rely on healthtech solutions, as this is where automation complacency and bias occurs. Cosima highlighted the risks in degrading of human skill by relying on tech, which is where the importance of training comes in. Healthcare professionals must be trained in operating and monitoring tech solutions, reporting tech failures in the same way that medical errors are logged. This way, we can learn from these mistakes. If you’re looking to list on G-Cloud 11 and provide support services for relevant healthtech solutions, this one’s for you. Utilise the risk of failure when describing how your services train and support users, improving the human-technology interface.
Mona noted that more often than not, negative outcomes of a trialled or piloted medical solution–be it technological or not–are not published. As a result, various other departments may carry out the same research and experience the same failures, leading to wasted resources and affecting the care available to patients.
Here we see how failure is fundamental in aligning resources nationally, which is especially important in the context of health and social care. Due to its structure, there are often silos of information and funding, and there is a real need for collaboration across trusts and commissions.
But as a supplier, how can you help?
By being transparent in healthtech failures, developers, suppliers and users can help to bring the often disconnected landscape of DHSC closer together. Transparency is absolutely essential when it comes to selling to government – so, as stated by Isabella, let’s fail together, helping to improve the landscape of health and social care as a whole.
That’s it! All in all it was a great event with some wonderful speakers – I look forward to the next.