“To enjoy the shade of the tree today, one would have had to have planted the seed 20 years ago”

Tuesday, June 16, 2020 |
This proverb was quoted by Jeremy Lim, Leading Public Health Expert, National University of Singapore, in a recent webinar we joined "Building Resilient Health Systems"

In 1990, on the Franco-Swiss border at CERN, a hand-written label in red ink attached to a piece of equipment in a lab said: "This machine is a server. DO NOT POWER IT DOWN!!". This was the birth of the world wide web. Its stated purpose: to facilitate the ease of information and data sharing between institutions across more than 100 countries. 

Fast forward to 2020, and we can share in an instant. Yet, we’re still exploring the implications of data sharing via technology on a global scale - more so than ever as countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic differently in terms of tech solutions.

We recently joined a Roche-sponsored webinar titled Building Resilient Health Systems: experts discuss the impact of COVID-19, during which panellists discussed the current global situation and how it is the existential crisis of our times. How we respond to it will affect both healthcare systems and society at large for years to come. Historians will look back at our use of technology and data - and consider; were opportunities missed? 

The panellists questioned two key areas: how can technology that’s been around for years be mobilised? And how can we balance use and access to data to enable innovation acceleration? Lim stated that; “Healthcare is the laggard, it is the last industry to embrace digital health and I do hope COVID-19 takes us kicking and screaming into the digital age”. 

But, whatever the answers or outcome may be in the weeks, months and years to come, trust is central to everything. It was agreed that now technology itself is no longer the focus, it is the frameworks that protect the data it holds which are the priority.

The panel suggested that people are willing to trade information about themselves to receive good healthcare and better decisions made on their behalf when there is institutional trust. There needs to be the reassurance of how, where, what, why and when data are used. In short, there must be traceability, culpability and transparency. 

This is acutely important to us, and trustworthiness is one of our four core values at BOB. Our goal is to provide the free learning platform the NHS deserves. When it comes to BOB and trust our value is... 

TRUST: We do what we say we're going to do for our customers, collaborators and each other with integrity

People are venturing afield into new territories professionally sharing their thoughts and feelings about a change in a local setting. Putting this content forward as proven good practice to their colleagues and peers is a big deal. BOBers appreciate this and give people’s content the credit and respect it deserves. 


So, as a small core team of six at BOB.health, we were inspired to hear about globally renowned Genomics England - and their successes in working with pharma, biotech and charity partners. By understanding what each group had to build on and contribute, Professor Joanne Hackett, now General Partner of Healthcare at IZY Capital, explained her belief that you can create a multi-sided platform for the greater good. 

We help NHS staff liberate and amplify their proven good ideas and the practical ‘how-to’ behind them. Liberating invaluable insights from one locality means that someone else doesn’t have to start from scratch when faced with something similar in another corner of the UK. So, facilitating the ease of information sharing between institutions is our mission too. As with any technology in healthcare, in order for BOB.health to be the learning platform the NHS deserves, our community must be one that is safe and protects our users and their data. 

30 years on, we can enjoy the shade of the tree from the seeds sown at CERN. And, thinking back to the label on which Berners-Lee wrote ‘do not power it down’, it’s impossible to imagine living without the world wide web. But now, it’s trust that will keep the power on and the people of the planet fully engaged. 


If you’d like to learn more about how BOB.health can support you or your organisation, we’d love to hear from you on bobsquad@bob.health.

*The webinar (which can be watched here) was co-chaired by Jeremy Lim, National University of Singapore, and Denis Horgan, European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM). They were joined by panellists from around the world: Associate Prof Leanne Raven, CEO, Crohn’s and Colitis Australia; Dr Krishna Reddy, Cardiologist and Healthcare Reformist; Bogi Eliasen, Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, and Professor Joanne Hackett, General Partner, Healthcare at IZY Capital (previously Genomics England).

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