This year’s conference themes were detection, reflection, and projection. Speakers focused on the sector’s response to the pandemic, lessons learned, and what this means for the future of MedTech.

In his opening remarks, Martino Picardo focused on the positives that have arisen from the pandemic “A staggering response that has been all about collaboration as opposed to competition”. He reflected on the entrepreneurial spirit of the past 18 months and its positive impact on outcomes for patients.

“Key priorities for the sector now are ensuring we have the right skills, putting infrastructure in place to support start-ups and ensuring science parks are better connected”.

“Whilst MedTech has experienced important landmarks in investment, we need more. Mentors are available to get MedTech start-ups ready for investment and must consider needs at both a national and regional level”.

The increasingly important role digitalisation is playing in the healthcare sector was the focus of an interview with Darren Curry, Chief Digital Officer at NHS Business Services Authority.

“We’ve been agile and innovative in our response. During the pandemic, we were able to use our ‘shielding patient’ list to send text alerts to large numbers of ‘at risk’ patients”.

“We also used AI to apply nudge technology, to detect the way in which certain words in job descriptions uncover gender bias in NHS job descriptions. Building such things into the data infrastructure can help to remove this”.

“We have data which shows the length of time any given individual has been on prescribed medication. GPs can use this information to make a judgement about an individual’s risk profile, based on the knowledge of their prescribing history”

NHS Procurement lead, Simon Donovan emphasised the need for integrity in decision-making and the importance of long-established relationships in a time of crisis. 

“What we now need to do is to drive collaboration at a greater scale. This is not always an easy ‘ask’ where multiple decision-makers are involved, but we must do it to succeed”.

“Looking to the future, far from being a back-office function, procurement is not at the forefront of the national agenda. I am excited and optimistic about the future”.

Hindsight is 2020: Insights from our speakers as to what they might have done differently

“If we had known what we know now, we would have planned further in advance. We would have moved the business to remote working sooner rather than just 2 weeks before lockdown. Trying to drive business change remotely is very difficult”.

“We would have embraced the uncertainty more quickly and reacted to uncertainty, it was a challenging time, but we did what we could, followed government guidelines, and sought to give back to those in vulnerable categories”.

“I hadn’t envisaged a time when we wouldn’t be able to get the product into the hands of our customers to test – if we had known, we would have planned well in advance”.

“We were able to react nimbly. In hindsight, we would have rolled out regionally first, before looking to roll out nationally, instead of going straight for a national rollout”.

“Sharing best practice earlier on could have been transformative. The demand on lab space has altered, to ensure access for R&D on both covid research and non-covid research. Had we understood the scale and extent of the disruption, this would have allowed us to better plan laboratory access”.

“Tech has been both a great enabler and disabler. Teams and Zoom are easy, but you’re missing out on the bigger picture. Working at a laptop can harm your eyes, back and general health and wellbeing. We have been losing out on everyday shared interactions and experiences that drive innovation. Upon reflection, we should have taken better care of our personal wellbeing and used tech to facilitate innovation”.

Our thanks

The team at Life Science Integrates (LSI) sincerely thank all this year’s speakers for contributing towards such a rich and varied conference.

“We have all had to adapt quickly to events of the past 18 months. Whilst many of our speakers have talked about how they might have done things differently, the one thing that stands out from this conference is the way in which we have succeeded in delivering services in new and innovative ways”.

From diagnostic testing at home to new ways of communicating with patients, we have found new ways of working that are here to stay” said Samuel Thangiah, Co-Founder and Executive Director, LSI.