The Secretary of State’s new vision for healthtech states that when adopting internet standards
‘we minimise what you need to learn to build software and digital services for health and care’.
By doing this we limit our knowledge, minimise how advanced the technology we use can be and drive away quality employees who wish to grow their technical skills within a company.
This article explains how and why we should instead adopt strategic staffing to fulfil the vision.
Fulfilling the Vision with Strategic Staffing
Technological evolution is the catalyst for growth in predictive analytics. Increasingly powerful processors, cheaper data management and new storage innovations have all improved the performance of computing, enabling major advancements in Artificial Intelligence.
Using AI techniques such as Machine Learning, companies can leverage data assets to gain insight into patterns and anomalies, allowing them to intelligently strategise.
However, these techniques are yet to significantly disrupt the healthcare industry. A complex regulatory environment and unclear funding landscape make it difficult for innovations to excel.
But technology innovation is not beyond the grasp of healthcare; the UK’s enormous volume of world-class patient data has the potential to be transformative. As outlined in the ‘Initial code of conduct for data-driven health and care technology’, the support for innovators needs to be better targeted, and we need to streamline public funding.
Unfortunately this is difficult under the unpredictable context within which the NHS is currently operating and the financial challenges it faces. To resolve this, we can attempt to govern controllable variables such as employees.
In terms of health technology, this means recruiting high-calibre developers. As the vision states, we need to ‘maximise the number of developers and software engineers that can help us transform health and care’. By doing this, we can manage the complexity, longevity and transferability of the system for current and future development. The short supply of software engineers makes them highly sought after, so a good recruitment strategy is crucial.
An approach we can employ is to hire graduate developers. Graduates are generally more adaptable to new practices, are more enthusiastic to prove themselves and consist of a larger pool of diverse candidates. However, with companies in other industries offering easy routes in and high salaries, it’s difficult to compete with their incentives.
What these companies don’t offer is the reward of innovating healthcare to improve the lives of millions of people. To make the industry further desirable to graduates, the NHS need to adopt new strategies and increase awareness of current plans.
We should commit to offering thorough self-development plans for employees. For graduate developers, acquiring skills is an investment for their future so providing them with the opportunity to learn and progress will make healthtech more compelling from a career point of view.
This in turn requires a quality onboarding plan. It’s crucial for junior developers to receive appropriate training, collaborate with more senior engineers and have an environment in which there is no fear of failure. It is far more efficient to hire graduates and train them to become the senior engineer an organisation needs, than to find a candidate with the right combination of skills and character traits already.
To source the best people, efforts should be made to recruit people through internships and placements. Details of the opportunities and what they entail should be distributed widely to university students.
We need to take advantage of technology’s capabilities and make use of the huge amount of data available to improve healthcare. As the vision states, we need to improve and better target the support available for digital innovation, and we can start by focusing on the strategic staffing of graduates. We have the capacity to transform the NHS if we can efficiently structure what we aim to achieve and who we need to achieve it.