Posted on October 13, 2016 by staff

iTunes ‘better than tech in hospitals saving people’


Alder Hey innovation director Iain Hennessey says the technology to manage his patients lags way behind consumer tech.

Hennessey, 37, who is also a paediatric surgeon at the children’s hospital, only has to look at his computer music collection to be reminded of that fact.

This is despite the fact that Liverpool’s Alder Hey is at the cutting edge of hospital technology.

“It really depresses me,” he told BusinessCloud editor Chris Maguire with disarming honesty.

“The software I have to manage my music collection is much better than any software to manage my patients.

“The consumer sector seems to run far ahead of the medical sector in its use of technology. Why is that?

“On one hand I’ve got a better experience for my music and on the other hand I’m saving people’s lives.

“This is where the technology should be at its cutting edge. It should be the priority but it lags way behind.”

BusinessCloud is hosting a major conference looking at the impact of technology on the healthcare sector in Lancashire on November 23.

Hennessey highlights his own employers – Alder Hey NHS Foundation Trust – as being one of the most digitally advanced Trusts in the country, but it is clear healthcare is light years behind the consumers when it comes to technology.

The surgeon is a self-confessed early adopter of tech.

“I’ve got a Nest at home,” he says. “I’ve got full energy management throughout the house. I’ve got an electric charge car.”

Alder Hey is closer to having its own digital app after staff at online retailer Shop Direct raised £210,000 to support its development.

Hennessey’s dual role at Alder Hey sees him spend three days a week working as an abdominal surgeon and two days looking at tech and innovation.

Explaining how it came about, he recalls: “I helped a few start-ups get going and the Trust knew tech was an area of interest.

“I finished my specialist training at the end of 2013 and I was looking for a consultant’s job. At the time they only had enough money to employ me as a surgeon for half the week.

“They wanted to keep me. At the time they were doing a strategic partnership around the procurement of IT. They asked if I would become the clinical liaison for that. I said I’d love to.

“I have the fun job of finding the best innovation out there and applying it to the care of children.”

Hennessey excelled at engineering and science but decided to make a career out of medicine.

“My grandad was a miner and I used to spend every weekend with him at the pit medical centre because he was the designated first aider,” he says.

“He used to patch up all the miners. In the end I picked to do medicine.”