Dr Saira Ghafur (MSc DIC Health Policy 2015) is the Lead for Digital Health at the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial, and Honorary Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

Tell us a bit about the work you’re doing now in digital health and why you were drawn to it.

I lead the digital health team at the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial. I am also the co-founder of two healthtech start-ups: Prova Health and Pysma.   

My work at Imperial focuses on cybersecurity in healthcare, healthcare data and value sharing agreements, evidence generation in digital health, and the application of AI and machine learning in low-and middle-income countries. We work across all relevant sectors including the academic, policy and commercial sectors, which makes it all the more interesting.

What are your plans for the future?

At the moment my hands are full with what I’m doing. For me, the key is to create a really strong foundation in all of my core areas of work and see where things take off.

In your opinion, what has been the most exciting discovery or development in the field of healthtech in recent years?

It’s hard to pinpoint a single technology, however I think the really exciting thing is how many more patients are now involved in their own health and care, and how tech can make patient care easier. We still have a long way to go, but when we talk about patient-centred care we really ought to mean it, and that should be the case for everyone.

How has what you learnt at Imperial helped you in your career so far?

My Health Policy MSc was critical for some of the key fellowships that I did - I was a National Medical Director’s Fellow at NHS England and I went on to do a Harkness Fellowship in New York City. Both of these fellowships then helped me develop my policy and research background in healthtech.

What would be your advice for current students interested in the field of healthtech?

Reach out to people and speak to them about things you are interested in. You never know where a conversation might lead…

What is your fondest memory of your time here?

The people! I had a great cohort when I did my Master’s and the Faculty were great as well. I now have the pleasure of teaching on the MSc course myself!