Written by Jim Gray – October 2021

Jim Gray is the founder of DASHmed® – healing time, a Clinical Director & Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, an NHS England Clinical Entrepreneur and a digital health advisor. Get in touch at jim@dashmed.co.uk.


Emerging technologies in healthcare are seen by some to be alien and unhealthily robotic. Seeing things differently is critical to successful transformation.

When travelling I personally don’t research and book via a travel agency or pay by cheque. I avoid paper tickets and check-in desks. Digital adoption happened at pace, and is now so incumbent that fewer of us recall the past experience of these industry sectors. This is not robotic, it is service delivered by industry that cares for its custom(ers), to deliver great experience (monitored by the same means), thereby building trust and brand loyalty.

If I became unwell abroad, I’d wish for digital wayfinding, language translation, ease of access and bite-size messaging. If my radiology flagged something important, I’d not want a paper report for my GP in gibberish, I’d welcome radiology AI to diagnose, notify and kickstart investigation. Technology is not robotic, it is transformation that, if done correctly, is deeply empathic. The key is not to adopt it in a robotic way, but to empathise with users such that the design and implementation is human. This is ‘design thinking’ valuing user experience (UX).

When the pandemic hit, video consultations were widely adopted across the NHS. This became generalised but didn’t suit everything, from patients to clinicians to conditions. The generalisation led to inertia, clinicians believing it to be unsuitable for their specialty area, wishing to retain physical contact. Consequently, clinicians were encouraged to either choose video or face to face believing we knew better, adopting both in a binary way. But by not appreciating the wishes, ability, literacy or availability of technology for both sides of the consultation experience we invited operational failure, discredited adoption, leading to DNAs (did not attend), dissatisfaction and disengagement. We weren’t being wise, when wisdom insists that we adopt a blended approach to suit all.

“The fool generalizes the particular; the nerd particularizes the general; some do both; and the wise does neither” – Taleb

We haven’t lost the high street bank, travel agent, or check-in desk, they are blended into the fabric of customer service amidst evolution of behaviours. Some have floundered by ignoring change, healthcare must not follow, to avoid driving inequalities. Healthcare must adapt ergonomically by blending an empathic and deeply human digital transformation, configured by the wisdom of user centric design, achieving vital marginal gains.