The health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has outlined his vision to improve the NHS by taking a more flexible approach to procurement.
Speaking yesterday, at the GovTech Summit in Paris, during a panel discussion looking at how governments can better engage with startups to harness emerging technology and innovation, Hancock suggested his priorities include steering clear of fixed processes and setting arbitrary targets.
When the panel was asked how they would measure successful innovation in their respective organisations, Hancock replied: “When I am no longer the world’s largest owner of fax machines. I mean that is a really, really, really, early step, but it’s still hard.”
His comments were referring to a poll carried out by the Royal College of Surgeons using freedom of information laws, which revealed 9,000 fax machines were in use across England.
Since being appointed as the health and social care secretary in July of this year, the former digital minister has placed a strong importance on the role of technology in improving the NHS.
During the discussion, Hancock acknowledged there have been several attempts to modernise the NHS that have failed, but felt his experience would enable him to make a mark in transforming the health service. Hancock said: “The biggest experience I have to bring to bear on the health system from previous roles is digitisation.
“Because I am able to say to everybody in the system and indeed to anyone in this audience: “If you have an idea for the improvement of the health system in the UK from use of technology, we want to hear from you, we want to try it, we want to see it work.”
Hancock received praise from fellow panellist Stephanie Eltz, the founder of healthcare startup Doctify – an app that connects patients to doctors – for championing tech.
She said: “We are very lucky in the UK to have you. What a difference it made for me as a doctor and running a start-up to see you promote start-ups and to be outspoken about digital.”
Also featuring on the panel was Belgian vice-prime minister Alexandre De Croo and the Italian commissioner for digital agenda Diego Piacentini, with Accenture Global partner Bernard Le Masson moderating the discussion.
Other guests and speakers at the event include Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, London mayor Sadiq Khan and French president Emmanuel Macron.