I had the pleasure to present to the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) at their annual healthcare lecture in November. It represented a coming together of many strands of my work over the last decades along with my vision impairment and some potential solutions to some of the key challenges facing society and the economy across the world today. The final happenstance was that it was in the Turing room at the recently refurbished IET venue in central London. Turing was a key part of my original degree in Computational Linguistics and much of his work now forms the core of the Artificial Intelligence resurgence.
When I was asked to do a ‘lecture’ I pointed out that the origin of the word is to read. And, given my being blind, I can’t read, so I started by showing how assistive technology now gives me access to digital content via my iPhone, laptop and TV. Dedicated apps for disabled people as well as access to mainstream apps make my digital life almost as easy as everyone else’s!
Having started looking at disability in previous work with Telefonica, I am now able to draw many of the same conclusions to wrap the disability question up in the broader healthcare debate. The fact that we are increasingly connected as individuals through endless wearables, our smart phones and broadband from home, means that every part of our bodies can be monitored, fed back to us and to all interested parties. On the other hand, the healthcare system, with its ‘medical grade’ devices is increasingly looking to technology to solve the resourcing and financing problems that aging populations and limited budgets present. Bringing consumer and medical grade devices into the mix, leveraging the increasing availability of broadband in society and mixing Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and those vital human resources together, will bring the step change needed. It does require new thinking from Governments, healthcare officials, practitioners as well as ourselves as patients and carers, but the pieces are all there. We all need to accept cultural as well as technology changes to make this happen.
Take a look at the lecture, kindly filmed by the IET and let me have your thoughts. I will be looking at healthcare and how the telecoms industry is shaping up to the challenge during my visit to MWC in Barcelona at the end of February.