At our most recent Board meeting, we agreed to propose to members that DHACA can help members to grow by:

  1. organising quarterly DHACA Days for members
  2. providing mentoring and matchmaking services to members
  3. representing digital health SMEs to Government
  4. disseminating useful information

This is the “how” to follow on from the “what” statement that members helped us generate (“DHACA supports digital health SMEs with their growth and expansion plans”). Do let me know if you have any comments on these – we’ll also discuss briefly at our next DHACA Day too. So, using those four commitments as headings…

The location of DHACA Day has moved!

Out of the blue last week we heard that Neil Foster was moving this week to become Global Co-Chair and European Head of Technology at Brown Rudnick. Thankfully he’s kindly agreed for DHACA to go with him so do note that the location of the next DHACA Day on 18th March has changed, to 8 Clifford Street, London W1S 2LQ.

We are told that the room at Brown Rudnick is apparently only able to seat 50 people. As we have more speakers than usual, we will therefore soon have to stop selling further tickets for the day. If you still need to buy a ticket, you are strongly recommended to book very soon therefore!

Whilst obviously we think DHACA Day is the go-to event this coming month, modesty and integrity dictate that we must also mention the other events that we have joint sponsorship agreements with. In March these include:

  • Digital Health Rewired is next week on 4th March and free to attend for those who have preregistered – I am chairing a session there so do pop along and say hi if you’re there.
  • Wired Health is on 25th March – if you follow this link you can get a useful discount to the standard price.
  • SEHTA’s 2020 International MedTech Expo & Conference, also, like DHACA, is kindly sponsored by Kent Surrey and Sussex AHSN. It is on 26th March

Mentoring

A condition of the AHSN sponsorship we have is that we offer mentoring and matchmaking services free to members, at least until 31st March 2020. To date we have been asked by 30 companies to assist them, many of which look to be ongoing relationships. If you’d like to avail yourself of those services in March, do get in touch with me soon by replying to this email.

Representing digital health to Government

In the last week, I have had two occasions where DHACA was able to represent members’ interests:

ESF Framework

As many of you will be aware, NICE is developing the Evidence standards framework for digital health technologies (“ESF”) in consultation with various parties including DHACA. Much of the discussions are not public as, for example, they include confidential information about individual organisations trialling the Framework. However DHACA made two key interventions recently to support members that I believe I can mention. In the first, I expressed concern at the complexity of the draft proposals which small SMEs struggle with. In the second I suggested parity with the QALY-based system for evaluating medicines. Both resulted in significant debate, with the latter resulting in a separation of subjects between products and services that cost money though improved quality-adjusted lives (eg many digital therapeutics), that would be evaluated in the same way as medicines using the QALY approach, and those that genuinely saved money that would be evaluated on a cost saved basis. (There is of course a potential conflict between these that I pointed out.)

House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology

DHACA was invited to give evidence to the above, which focused on the use of technology to improve patient outcomes, ageing being a particular feature of many of the questions. We made a number of important points in support of members, perhaps the most important being that IF the Committee was going to recommend a change in regulation, a key point they need to be aware of is how the “cliff edge” of MDR medical device classification with all its cost implications currently acts as a major constraint on the ability of SMEs to innovate. I contrasted that with the more gradual approach of the FDA. Other points included: that clinicians still have problems accepting remote vital signs readings (even though, due to white coat syndrome, some home readings can be more accurate); that many of our members still cannot easily exchange information with EHR providers in spite of NHS licences that require otherwise; and that our members are ready and willing to do brilliant work using AI/ML though struggle because of a lack of access to appropriate data sets – there is in particular a shortage of clean, labelled data. The proceedings can be viewed on Parliament TV.

Disseminating useful information (aka “and finally…”)

Thanks as always to Prof Mike Short and to Dr Nicholas Robinson for kindly pointing me to items I would otherwise have missed.

Finally special mention must go to Malcolm John, one of our most supportive members who has been to every recent DHACA Day and even got up early on Thursday to watch a repeat of the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology that I was giving evidence at on Parliament TV.

Malcolm, you’re a star!

I hope to see as many of you as possible on 18th March and look forward to it greatly.

Hoping the weekend and Storm Jorje is kind to you,

Warm regards,
Charles