To HETT or not to HETT

Earlier this week, Highland Marketing attended the annual Healthcare Efficiency Through Technology Expo, which ran alongside Commissioning in Healthcare at Olympia, London. This year’s exhibition was the largest to date and with such a wide range of suppliers and an impressive line-up of speakers under one roof, I had hoped it would be an interesting event. It did not disappoint.

On arrival, I was surprised by the atmosphere. The exhibition hall was quite literally buzzing by 9am! The first thing that I noticed was how compact the venue felt, other healthcare IT shows often boast huge exhibition halls and even measure their success on how much floor space they can sell to suppliers. The intimate Olympia venue meant that not only did I make it home without aching feet but there was a real sense of engagement between suppliers and delegates.

By the time Kingsley Manning, chair of Health and Social Care Information Centre gave his opening address, the main conference was packed with delegates. Those who did not manage to get a seat took to standing at the back of the room.  There were also a few dozen people listening from outside the conference, a scene that was repeatedly seen throughout the duration of the conference.

First up after the opening speech was national director for patients and information for NHS England, Tim Kelsey. His main focus for his presentation was the digital revolution in the NHS – giving patients and carers more control of care and online access to patient records by 2015. Throughout his speech Kelsey reiterated to delegates that a combination of transparency and participation is key to sustainable healthcare and confidently stated: “We will hit our 2015 objective for providing access to GP records.” Kelsey’s speech was believable and passionate and set the scene in the exhibition hall that a paperless NHS is achievable with the help of the right IT solutions.

Less well received was a presentation from junior health minister, Dr Dan Poulter. Poulter, who at the last minute replaced health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, arrived late and gave a less inspiring speech which was read from cue cards. The audience took to Twitter to show their disapproval, one tweet from HSJ’s James Illman summed up the general consensus – “Poulter finishes without taking questions having said nothing new….”

After spending some time listening to other interesting presentations from Dame Fiona Caldicott and president of Harris Healthcare Solutions, Dr Vishal Agrawal, I took to the exhibition floor to network with the suppliers, all whom were equally impressed with the turnout, the range of NHS delegates and the atmosphere of the hall.

This year HETT was attended by 2,345 attendees, 90 exhibitors and 46 speakers. Commissioning in Healthcare was attended by 1,452 delegates, 35 speakers and 30 exhibitors. So what made the show work so well? Was it because it was in a relatively central London location with parking, that it was a one-day event or that the speakers were of a particularly high calibre? Or has healthcare IT finally made its way up the NHS agenda, with one more big healthcare IT show in the diary before the year is out? The success of next month’s EHI Live may have the answer.

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