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COLIN DOBBYNE – CEO, BIG BLUE SOLUTIONS, UK TELEMENTORING


A tale of life, lions and laparoscopic surgery


Colin Dobbyne describes how he worked with surgeons at a Northumbrian hospital to establish communications links with their counterparts at a hospital in Tanzania that enabled the African surgeons to be trained in the latest laparoscopic techniques.


I believe that simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication: an Eames lounge chair, a Montblanc ink pen and, of course, virtually anything that comes out of the design monolith that is Apple. Avoid the temptation to ‘over design’, and trick something up for the sake of it – disrupt, but disrupt beautifully. I have always applied this belief to my work as a product designer, working with clients to develop clear, straightforward solutions to problems people may never even have realised they had. With a career spent primarily in the healthcare field, this remains my particular area of interest. I am passionately committed to


developing technology that empowers surgeons to make better decisions; by gathering instantly accessible data during procedures, clinical teams will not only be able to make better-informed decisions during surgery, but will also be able to reflect on and change future procedures after the event. This represents a huge move away from the current norm, instead encouraging surgeons to learn from what happens and to use it to move surgery forward. In an ideal world, time and money spent on research is vital before the product development phase starts. I would suggest undertaking research into the frustrations or wishes of the users or customer or, if the product you want to introduce is so way ahead that customers cannot even express the need for it, seeking feedback on outline concepts. Then the engineer, design, and development team come into the


The Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Moshi, Tanzania.


picture, and the hours of meetings and brainstorming sessions take place to identify whether the project will involve innovation of an existing product or development of something completely new, and whether is it appropriate to use the incumbent technologies, or time to break the mould and introduce new ones. However, sometimes having the least resources drives you to find the simplest, purest solution.


The chance of a lifetime Ten years ago, I was doing some work with Hexham General Hospital, part of the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation


Colin Dobbyne


Colin Dobbyne is CEO of Cambridge-based product development consultancy, Big Blue Solutions, which specialises in ‘disruptive innovation to drive growth’. A former technical and commercial director, and then International executive director: OR1 Development, at Karl Storz, he also founded and ran OR Networks, the company that first established the multi-award-


winning telementoring link-up between Hexham General Hospital and the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre.


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Trust. The surgeons there wanted to connect to the other hospitals within the Trust via video links, to share best practice and enhance training. I was with my company, OR Networks, at the time. Based in Cambridge; we specialised in transmitting surgical video images, captured during live surgery, from operating theatres to training centres and lecture theatres. Distances covered were usually short, either down a corridor or across town. It was a niche market, and we worked all around the world – from Stockholm to South Africa, from Turin to Taiwan. The project with Northumbria Healthcare went very well; everyone was happy with it, and it was successfully doing exactly what it had been set up to do. I made several visits to Hexham to set


everything up, and developed a great rapport with Liam Horgan, the leading laparoscopic surgeon who had been on the panel that had selected my company for the Northumbria project, and Sister Lillian Broatch from the hospital. We would chat away over coffee, and one thing we talked about often was the Trust’s link with the


IFHE DIGEST 2020


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