Dr Shera Chok is a GP and the Medical Director for the Tower Hamlets GP Federation. She has also been the Chief Clinical Information Officer at Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust, the Director of Primary Care at Barts Health, and Medical Director for NHS Lambeth. Shera is also a member of the national Independent Reconfiguration Panel, which advises ministers on NHS redesign programmes, and the Sciana Network, sponsored by the Health Foundation, to share innovation across European countries.
Back to Blog
Encouraging diversity in the NHS isn’t simply a matter of inclusion, it’s a matter of patient safety, delegates at the Healthcare Excellence Through Technology (HETT) conference have heard.
Speaking on 2 October, Heather Caudle and Ijeoma Azodo, both members of the Shuri Network, stressed the importance of diversity when developing new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI).
Without a diverse and inclusive team, “unconscious bias” can be built into technology, ultimately putting patients at risk.
The next step in ensuring inclusive digital health solutions is including technology teams throughout the whole process, Heather Caudle, chief nursing officer at Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said.
“In health what we have done really well is developed multidisciplinary teams when looking at the patient,” she told the audience at ExCel London.
“I think our technology colleagues are the next member of our multidisciplinary teams. If you think about AI and these new ways of doing things, how are we including the creators and the developers when thinking about patient care?
“We will have unintended consequences of artificial intelligence that hard-wires things like unconscious biases, that we are only going to treat people that are this age, this weight, this colour, because that’s how we think.
“Having that diversity on the team will help.”
The Shuri Network hopes to tackle these biases by providing black and minority ethnic (BAME) women working in digital health with a platform to propel their career into leadership roles.
Speaking on the aims of the network Ijeoma Azodo, honorary clinical tutor at the University of Edinburgh, said one of the main goals was an environment of trust and safety based on diversity.
“We’re starting with ethnic minority diversity but what we are really looking for is an experience that’s diverse in terms of where people come from, how people think and what people want so we can build and NHS and technology that we use that incorporates all of those facets into our systems,” she said.
“We need an environment of trust and safety. We need everyone from the support workers to the doctors to the IT team to be able to speak up about things we are building that are unsafe, inappropriate and inequitable for our patients.”
By achieving this, the NHS will be able to develop technology that’s inclusive and safe, she explained.
“We want to make sure we aren’t building things that are exclusive, we want to be able to interrogate our systems, we want something that is transparent and we want something that’s accountable.
“That’s the importance of have a diversity inclusive and accessible healthcare workforce.
“Different people on the team have different expertise. If you don’t ask them about the jobs they provide in terms of patient care, if you don’t value that expertise and their presence, we will be in complete shambles when that’s the person who can get you out of trouble.
“Sit down with the tech department and speak to them collaboratively about what’s going to be the best thing to solve that we need done for the patient.”
Back to Blog
What an incredible week ! We celebrated our launch on the 18thof July at the Digital Health Summer School in Leeds and are still buzzing from the surge of positive energy it has generated. Our incredible panel members, Sarah Amani, Laura Serrant, Ijeoma Azodo, Sonia Patel, Heather Caudle and Shera Chok created history by being the first all-female, all BAME panel in the Summer School’s history and by getting 500 IT leaders to do the Wakanda salute.
The panel shared their experience as women of colour in digital health and why having a diverse approach to finding solutions to health challenges is a political imperative and critical for safe patient care.
Matthew Gould, the new Chief Executive of NHSX said,
“It’s brilliant to be in Leeds with 500 committed, excited, positive new friends. Highlight of an amazing morning was the Shuri Network panel, challenging us to do better on diversity and reminding us why we will be better if we did.”
Other comments included
“The power and the passion will stay with me forever. This is the first time I’ve seen an audience of 500 totally riveted and your talks moved everyone I spoke to. Love the logo, love the name, love the spirit – Go Shuri!”
Simon Eccles said
“You could hear a pin drop as Prof Laura Serrant explained how inclusion is a vital patient safety issue. One of six utterly inspiring speeches!”
This is the first step on our journey and we’d love you to join us. You don’t have to be a woman, or BAME – just willing to be an ally and support us in helping women of colour feel that they have a place and a voice in the digital health arena. We want them, in turn, to act as champions to inspire the next generation of digital leaders. If we can do it, so can a lot of other women.