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From the Rhetoric to Reality for digital innovation

Our new Digital Innovation Lead Richard Harding discusses how putting innovative ideas into practice can create a culture of change, support and improvement.


My first career after getting my Economics Degree was as an Independent Mortgage Broker running a busy office.

I decided there was more to life and after an early mid-life crisis spent three years in Children’s Services in Emergency Placement, Disabilities, Challenging Behaviour, Respite and the Youth Offending Team.

I left to work days for Halton Council’s Telecare Team where over 8 years I retrained and did a Masters Degree in Assistive Technology. I then became the Liverpool City Region Telecare Lead covering 6 local authorities and mapping out what Technology-Enabled Care (TEC) was used, where and how.

From there I went to the AHSN. Working across 25 NHS Trusts, 19 CCGs and 9 Universities, I was the UK lead for an International Telehealthcare Project (ENSAFE), connecting IoT sensors to AI and smartphone apps, and supported a Horizon 2020 Public Procurement of Innovation project called STOPandGO. I also helped coordinate five Horizon 2020 bids and worked with EIT Health on their UK proposition.

What do I bring to the party?

I bring to the Vanguard a mix of technology, business acumen, research and funding experience to help put Innovation into Practice. I am excited to work with such a diverse consortium of partners and the opportunities we can explore fusing technologies into your service areas to make care:

  • Better
  • Safer
  • Faster
  • Cheaper 

I also am excited to reduce burdens of paperwork try and make life easier for our partners. No one goes to work and says “can I have some more paperwork please?”. The other opportunity is to harness the “digital natives” that could be booking flights and doing their banking on their devices yet struggle to communicate with services. 

The NHS on a “Burning Platform"

The NHS is facing a set of challenges using instruments designed for a world 10 years ago. While then military use battlefield health robots with artificial intelligence, Clinical Commissioning Groups are still using fax machines. Self-care is mentioned 10 times in the STP but not the mechanism of how. The opportunities of Consumer eHealth are often overlooked as a potential solution to austerity measures.

The Vanguard Solution

Whilst the evidence points to organisations not understanding the need or urgency for change, they also don’t have the capacity to think differently. Therefore, doing and hiring more of the same isn’t sustainable. Hire a hybrid that understands technology, where it sits within frameworks, the marketplace and what you can do with it. Someone, who can share and collaborate with Champions of Change to digitally disrupt while necessary.

The Potential Impact

Put innovation into practice to maximise uptake by using models of technology adoption to increase chances of success and create a culture of change and support. This will support local health, wealth, research, wellbeing, jobs and sustainability whilst embedding and harnessing the power of technologies. Implementation isn’t linear!

With more than a decade’s experience of management and leadership on the cutting edge of technology-enabled health and care innovation, I am an enthusiastic, creative and highly knowledgeable self-starter. Working in leadership roles in regional and European programmes, I am looking forward to this new challenge: working with forward thinking health and care organisations who need my expertise to drive delivery of their digital strategies.

Contact Richard at and follow on Twitter @ricardohardinio