Dr Steve Boorman attends joint Hong Kong College of Community Medicine and Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators Conference September 18 (HKCCM/ RACMA)

This exciting conference drew a diverse audience from Canada, Europe, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia. The audience was an interesting mix of specialist doctors from a wide range of medical disciplines, and medical administrators running health organisations that varied from rural community hospitals to large urban regional units.

The conference theme was “Change – Disruption, Innovation and Transformation”, reflecting a need to think differently about how healthcare is organised and delivered going forward. The speakers varied from technology experts, a senior Director from Google’s Deep Mind business talking about the use of artificial intelligence in medical applications. Policy makers, including a powerful example coming from New Zealand where an entire community’s healthcare has been re-organised to be designed around keeping care local to the home, reducing the need to travel to large hospital-based services. Also, a Hong Kong based specialist cancer physician describing powerfully the massive change in treatment that DNS sequencing had brought to enable better targeted treatments.

I was honoured to be invited to present at the event and I delivered a 3-hour workshop centred around the need to recognise that however good the new technology and techniques, it remains imperative to care for staff and recognise that employee health does impact on care standards. Our experience working with NHS employers in the UK reinforces this strongly and the launch earlier this year of the NHS staff health and wellbeing framework is enabling healthcare employers to be supported in improving the way they support their own staff.

I also delivered a keynote in the main plenary session, perhaps the first conference I have attended introduced with traditional lion dance (the lions were the only attendees allowed to drink alcohol in the Hong Kong Medical Academy which is a dry building, but wine was needed to pacify the ferocious creatures and lure them to sleep!). I spoke about the ambition of the UK “Improving Lives” strategy, our government’s announced intention to enable a million extra people with disability or long term illness to become able to work or remain in work. The strategy is already nearing the end of its first year of activity and changes to Fit Notes, multiple pilots to reduce sickness absence and programmes to Transform Occupational Health sat well with the conference theme.

I left Hong Kong just before it was hit with its worst typhoon since the mid 20th century, a storm perhaps also befitting the conference theme of disruption as it closed the airport and caused flooding and landslides in places I had walked a few days earlier!

Not only was it a great opportunity to hear thinking from the other side of the world, but also on the long flight back I reflected that Empactis is on exactly the same trajectory. Our platform enables change, which may disrupt traditional older ways of doing things, but enables the innovation to transform and give real benefit to our rapidly growing numbers of users. Our clinical system is now complementing our well tested management systems enabling integrated support to employee health. Integration was a word I heard a lot from the strategists in Hong Kong and has been at the heart of what we do. It was real privilege to travel and contribute to this event.