TechTool Talk 001

As part of TechTool Thursday, I thought it would be interesting to look at more than just app reviews.  This week is my first interview with a health IT innovator.  It’s always inspiring and motivating to learn about other health changemakers.  NHS Hackday in the UK (an open source healthcare innovation day) caught my eye and made me wonder if Australia could run something similar.  Here I talk to it’s creator, Carl Reynolds…

Dr Carl Reynolds is a physician, health informatician, and national clinical fellow with an interest in digital health services.

Dr Carl ReynoldsCarl currently works for Sir Liam Donaldson at the National Patient Safety Agency and for the Medical and Education Training Programme at the Department of Health in the UK as part of the NHS Medical Director’s Clinical Fellows Scheme. He trained at UCL Medical School in London and went to King’s to intercalate a Philosophy degree before beginning an academic foundation program and a part time Health Informatics MSc at UCL.

Tell me a bit about your medical background/career?

I’m a core medical trainee in intensive care at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. In other words it’s my fourth year of being a doctor.

When did you start becoming involved in health innovation?

In 2008 I began work as a doctor and was shocked by how broken the technology set up in NHS hospitals is. Duplicated data entry, transcribing from screen to paper, and hateful proprietary user interfaces are sadly the norm.

What led to you start Open Health Care?

I gave a lightening talk at Pycon UK 2011 and met Ross Jones afterwards. We decided to make the NICE Guidelines Android app which became our first product.

Where did you learn your IT skills?

On the interweb.

What does Open Health Care do?

We work to make NHS IT less bad. Our current tagline is “Developing digital health services that promote health”…. So far we’ve organised hack days, made apps, done some data mining, and consultancy. 

Don’t you find implementing health innovations is a bureaucratic nightmare?

To date our focus has deliberately been on activities that don’t require endurance of bureaucratic nightmares. Our impression is that there are significant barriers to entry for SMEs in the current NHS IT set up.

Tell me about a success story from Open Health Care

Our first product is an app that provides doctors with fast and convenient means to access NICE guidelines. This is one of the first successful open source medical apps to our knowledge and we have over 10,000 users. 

What has been the key to your success developing your company Open Health Care?

Having a clear idea of what we’re about – developing digital services that promote health, openness, and being excellent.

What are you careers aims for the next 10 years?

I’d like to become consultant in respiratory medicine and to fix NHS IT.

What or who inspires you?

Dr Christian Hasford inspires me. He’s a first rate teacher, clinician, and renaissance man who works as a consultant respiratory physician at UCLH and taught me when I was a medical student.

What advice would you give to a clinician wanting to improve their IT skills?

Learn python

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Be excellent.

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