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NHS CIO: Reflections on Rewired 2021


With Digital Health Rewired now coming to an end for 2021, Lisa Emery, CIO at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, looks back on her festival experience.

Although I am sure most of us would have liked at least some opportunity to meet in person at Rewired this year, it was not to be. However, as with many events over the last year, a well-planned and executed fully virtual set-up brings with it silver linings in terms of the depth and quality of content and the wider participation that it enables.

This was certainly the case this year. The quality of content felt like the best we’ve had to date; in fact there was just too much to digest in a working day – I suspect that the utilisation of ‘catch-up’ recordings will be high.

Session highlights 

The keynote from Matt Hancock certainly lit up social media and messaging platforms, largely well-received in terms of the approach to separating application and data layers but with a dose of healthy scepticism in terms of execution in the current supplier market.

There were excellent sessions on interoperability and leadership development. We were able to hear again from international colleagues, and the ever-brilliant Shuri Network. Workshops, lightning talks and pitchfests were all popular.

What really stood out for me was a real sense of upping the pace on skills and leadership development, with a good portion of content focussing on this at all levels. Details for Cohort 4 of the Digital Academy were fittingly announced during the event, and we learnt that FEDIP will launch its Digital Professionals Consultation in May. It really feels like we have momentum in terms of defining our professions and having a say on how we develop and deliver skills and support future digital leaders. It is undoubtedly time for us to step up and contribute!

Summing up 

My reflection overall is that virtual events are opening content to many more people than would potentially be able to attend in person, but there are understandably some downsides – notably that it’s difficult to replicate the same level of networking even on the most sophisticated platforms, On the upside, it surely must be easier to run events to time when you’re not herding the chattering masses away from the coffee stand into the conference hall!

It’s clear already that we have permanently changed the way we work to a hybrid office/home model and it seems obvious that this will apply to events like this as well. The trick will be balancing the understandable desire to get back to physical meeting spaces, without losing some of the real benefits of broader inclusion, hearing from new voices and gaining high-quality content that have been a huge positive borne of necessity.

You can revisit Rewired and catch-up on some of the sessions you missed by viewing our on-demand content here. 

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