Stuart is a safety engineer by trade. He always says it is an odd profession that is often slated in traditional safety-critical industries. In health, they are a rare breed!

Clinical safety is a  complex area, what is the most common question you get asked?

Different versions of the same question – ‘Why do I have to do this clinical safety stuff?’ I often try to urge a common-sense approach to help people see it is core to the patient’s safety. It is mandated in health and care services.

Considering the sudden increase in the use of digital during the pandemic, what you be your top tip to companies?

For all companies, they must embrace a more flexible working culture. This will mean working hours and working location. For digital health companies, I would urge a pause and think before jumping on the ‘let’s go digital’ bus. As the driver has no idea where it is heading nor if any of the routes have low bridges! If we have learned one thing about this pandemic, it is the value of our people, so collaborate with them and find solutions you can get the team behind.

How do they do that with limited resources?

Critical thinking does not cost anything! Access to the internet should be commonplace now. I have heard complaints that broadband is slow because everyone is working from home during a pandemic but have a thought for those nations that do not have the infrastructure, we take for granted. Innovation often comes from challenges that are forced upon us. The most up to date academic problem-solving approaches are very useful to analyse basic digital health challenges  (Digital Health Interventions). So, research your problem, look for solutions in other industries, how they do they operate, and also reach out across your professional networks. I have found my networks and the people I work with, within the 3rd sector, get me thinking in new ways.

What else is on the horizon you would flag to customers of ETHOS?

From a business perspective ETHOS currently offers advice from experts with individually over 15 years of digital health experience! Which is our core business and passion. We have seen change, practised good methodologies and have an eye for detail. ETHOS needs to build healthy partnerships, collaborations, and research evidence to truly influence the right behaviours in the industry. Practising what we preach. ETHOS will be partnering up more with those organisations that are innovating with health technologies that just do not have a home yet – like blockchain was a few years ago. We will be actively seeking research opportunities so that we can implement safety, security, and effectiveness measures in some of the most innovative digital health projects. That sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, what sounds even better is to find a method to safely implement a complex AI-led digital health solution within the NHS. We will anonymise the work we do and share it freely. Why wouldn’t anyone share the knowledge they have for patients benefit?

Is this reflected across the health and care sector here and abroad?

No. I can see webinars and calls-to-arms for services and products that will ‘save’ your company. To share good ideas will truly benefit your soul. As a direct result, your wellbeing will be lifted and your productivity increase. It is a simple formula that has worked for me for decades. The best example I saw was a cardboard box used as sunscreen for your laptop so you can work outside. Sometimes the simplest of ideas and the sharing of them can lead to great things. In fact, my own cardboard box version has a power supply and air vent! As a safety engineer over flexing the power cable and higher temperature laptops are a hazard. So, my message is, expand this culture of open sharing into digital health and the benefits to patients will be realised sooner, for certain. That’s a mission for ETHOS.

If you could give one gift to customers what would it be?

A digital version of a safety engineer. We are useful! We can take all of the technobabble, the buzzwords and present a reasoned approach and a diligent pathway to product launch. My 15 years in the NHS leading clinical safety was spent translating complex systems and safety analysis into “why will this not harm a patient?” to clinical leads. Sometimes you just need to build the relationship, earn and not demand respect, and then enjoy what you do. I love working with so many health and care professionals as it is a lot better than lying underneath $6M bottling machines with a spanner!

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