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by Andy Peel 20th September, 2018
3 min read

Is Hancock’s rush to embrace technology undermining his cause?

Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s love for technology is no secret. As the first Member of Parliament to develop his own app, that much is clear. GK recently wrote about how he may revolutionise the NHS with this passion for tech. But Hancock recently made a speech at Babylon HQ and admitted that he uses their app, GP at Hand, which could be seen as an endorsement of the tech company.

For those that don’t know, GP at Hand is an online provider of GP services. It uses AI and app-based technology to deliver GP consultations via your smartphone. Although there are some concerns about its safety and impact on local CCG funding, it is undoubtedly going to be part of the NHS’s technological revolution.

But helping them to make multimillion pound announcements whilst stood on a stage in front of a Babylon board and heralding the app “revolutionary” in a Telegraph interview has led to sustained criticism. Hancock may be a technophile, but his approach to technology must be delicate and balanced. He must be sure to keep all parties on side and not alienate key audiences. Tech companies, too, face a similar minefield in keeping patients and doctors on board.

Patients

Patients are almost certainly the easiest demographic for both tech companies, and Hancock himself, to win over. Unaware and probably unfazed by his recent ‘endorsements’ of GP at hand, as society becomes increasingly integrated with technology, all patients care about is having quick, safe and easy access to medical records, appointments and treatments, all of which will be delivered through technology.

Doctors

Clinicians, however, can be easy to underestimate, as evidenced by Jeremy Hunt in his enduring battle with junior doctors over their new contract. They are respected, influential and sometimes ingrained. Not only this, they are the ultimate provider of services, making recommendations and giving advice to patients. If the workforce unites to try and shut down a particular bit of technology, reputationally that can be very damaging.

Tech companies

Turning to tech companies themselves, it is absolutely vital they stand out in a crowded market. The health tech market is expected to grow to £2.9bn this year, with dozens of new start-ups popping up every month. Marketing products or services has never been more important, nor has it been more difficult. With the NHS finances so tight, messaging and pitches must be ever more aligned to the long-term strategic objectives of the NHS – GP at Hand is a case in point.

As for Mr Hancock, he must be sure to remain balanced in his praise for tech companies or risk undermining competition in the space, and ultimately his cause.

If you want to find out more about how GK can support the health market, contact andy@gkstrategy.com

See more articles by Andy Peel