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James Bond’s Doctor at Cisco’s Public Services Summit

Yes he did. James Ferguson, clinical lead for the Scottish Centre for Telehealth, told the audience at our recent Public Services Summit how he provided the inspiration for the scene in Casino Royale where 007 gets a remote diagnosis and attempts self-defibrillation after being poisoned. 

Apart from the fact that he was subsequently appointed medical adviser to the Bond franchise, Ferguson’s more serious point with the story was that many routine diagnostic routines are currently carried out by highly-qualified medical staff—when laypeople could do the job as easily.

As an example, Ferguson mentioned how scans are traditionally done by radiographers with at least seven years’ training, but studies show they can be carried out just as competently by an average person after watching a five-minute video.

Ferguson’s message—that current methods of medical diagnosis are unsustainable in the face of tightening healthcare budgets and ageing populations, and that a more community-based approach could work just as well—was one of many startling insights at the annual invite-only event.

Other highlights included:

  • Former Secretary to the Canadian Cabinet Jocelyne Bourgon’s insightful analysis of how today’s public sector organizations need to evolve to become more adaptive and predictive, developing the capacity to react to threats and challenges before they even occur.
  • Karolinska Institutet professor of International Health Hans Rosling’s highly entertaining presentation on the need to beware of prejudices in decision making, and move instead to a more fact-based, data-driven attitude to policy decisions.
  • The former head of Tony Blair’s Strategy Unit Matthew Taylor’s talk about how we need to move away from a world of private hubris and social pessimism and focus on public services that build capacity and strengthen social networks.

Following the closure of the event with a gala finale at the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo, event organizer Paul Johnston of the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group said the mood of the summit had reflected public sector concerns in a post credit-crunch world.

“There was a consistency in themes to do with recognizing the greater complexity of public sector problems nowadays, and how the increasing speed of change required more flexibility and a need to work closely with society to influence social contexts.”

This year, videos of the plenary sessions are posted on the event Website and you can also get a flavor of what went on by searching for hashtag #pss09 on Twitter. If you were there, tell us what you thought.

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4 Comments.


  1. Excellent point about pure waste in the system. A community based approach is the best plan because it is cheap.

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  2. Justin..Im not sure a community approach is the best plan. I know that it is less expensive but there are many more options on the table which may be more expensive, but are far more effective.

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  3. I believe Justin does have a good idea, but it needs to be looked father into. Should we visit the doctor every time we have a pain or ache? Probably not. We could just as easily Google”" it or ask others who have had the same aches. Now, if your ache is does not go away after some time that is when one should go seek medical help. I wouldn’t see it is a last resort, but there are some people out there which need to learn it is just as easy to help yourself as it is to let a doctor tell you to get some sleep and take Advil.”

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  4. Marc Musgrove

    RT @aggelies and @cabin bed: presentations and videos from the event are now up on the Public Services Summit website, at http://www.cisco.com/web/learning/le21/le34/nobel/2009/postshow.html.

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