With £b being invested in technology​ and multiple reports showing the expectation of technologies capabilities,​ we should take this opportunity to ask the right questions at the start of any technology investment.

Just because technology can do something, is that the answer?​ Have we thought through ‘what and how’ the technology would be used in the wider clinical setting​?

Tony Corkett, founder director Cloud21, NHS NIA, HIMMS Cyber chair, former radiographer turned CIO, who’s worked internationally and with many trusts over the years on digital transformation, started a doctoral research study in 2017. The thesis he is currently researching and writing up seeks to investigate the relationship between technology and asking the ‘so what?’ question in the quest to understand how technology can reach it’s potential and deliver value.

Tony was invited to the All4Health&Care Technology Leaders Forum recently to share his findings and discuss with the digital health community.

Watch the video and join the discussion on the FutureNHS platform.


AI and machine learning is phenomenally powerful but underneath it all there’s some pretty core standard principles of data and it’s just reading the data faster than a human can. But out of that does come some questions. One of the most powerful ones is ‘so what?’.

So what if a machine can analyze data rapidly and come up with an answer, if you can’t then do something with that answer you’ve made no difference.

So what if a scanner can tell you there’s an unpatched system that’s going to cause a problem for you unless we do something about it.

In all instances the so what question needs to be answered. When we think about designing new system leveraging the technology from the 4th Industrial Revolution we need to ensure we go beyond the design of the system itself and ensure we imagine its total use. Predicting what will happen to a patient based on a machine analysing more data than a human can digest is of no use unless we then think about the impact for the doctor, the nurse and the patient and what they are going to do with the information – we need to answer the so what question.