Empowering the digital patient


by Philippa Hedley-Takhar
Head of Investment & Partnerships
Yorkshire & Humber AHSN

In 2015, the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN invited partners from across the region to support the launch of the Yorkshire & Humber Digital Health & Wellbeing Ecosystem and become part of the ECHAlliance International Network of Permanent Ecosystems extending across Europe with the shared aim of increasing the update of digital health technology – empowering patients and enhancing their care.

The Ecosystem model is clear-cut in its design – creating an environment for people and organisations, with a common interest in how digital technologies can change the way healthcare is delivered, to exchange knowledge, identify opportunities and overcome barriers and impact the speed of uptake and use of digital health tools in everyday life.

However, the evolution and success of these environments involve far more complexity than purely the physical bringing together of potential partners and collaborators. It involves catalysing and nurturing meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships as part of a dynamic community, and learning (and actively using!) a skill notoriously tricky to master – the art of listening. Listening in order to truly understand the context of unmet healthcare needs before moving too quickly into designing complicated technology solutions.

To add another layer of complexity, within the digital health community there are a range of participants with an integral role to play, including healthcare providers and commissioners, academia, patient organisations, businesses, social enterprises and local authorities, who communicate using their own ‘language’ from the organisation or group they represent (with some groups far more guilty of over-use of jargon and acronyms than others!).

As the Ecosystem has grown and evolved, the partners involved have sought to demystify the language used in strategic regional digital health activity, and ensure that the patient voice is heard at every Ecosystem event – through thought-provoking keynote contributions from Roz Davies, Sue Sibbald, Rob Moriarty, and Lindsay Fallow; a programme of user-centred design workshops with mHabitat; and the launch of the #YHDigitalCitizen network – a collective of patients and citizens from across Yorkshire and Humber leading the way in people-driven digital in health and well-being.

And as we continue on our journey of regional digital health collaboration, it’s become part of our culture to try something new.

After the success of the inaugural People Drive Digital Festival in 2015, #PDDigital16 is a digital citizen ‘takeover’ of the next Yorkshire & Humber Digital Health and Wellbeing Ecosystem meeting, creating a space for conversations about patient and citizen orientated approaches to digital technologies and online social networks and celebrating bottom-up approaches to digitally-enabled health and care to create the blueprint for a new era powered by patients and citizens, mobile technologies and online social networks.

A debate on the potential for frugal innovation to create better solutions to citizen challenges in health and care than traditionally designed digital technologies is the curtain-raiser for the Festival on the evening of Monday 28th November, followed by a packed programme on Tuesday 29th November including peer reviewed PechaKucha style presentations; open space conversations and creations; peer mentoring bartering session and lots and lots of networking. To find out more visit

The sixth meeting of the Yorkshire & Humber Digital Health & Wellbeing Ecosystem will take place on Tuesday 14th March 2017. Information about the agenda and registration details will be announced in December at