The tech I use

I’m a fan of using technology to allow me to do new things and to make everyday stuff easier.

People often ask me about some of the specific bits of hardware and software I use, so I thought it would be helpful to create a list for reference.

Do let me know if you have any queries or would like any support with making use of similar solutions for yourself or your team (I do quite a few tutorials on software, and really enjoy showing people how to get the most out of things). 

Presenting live

Here’s what I use for meetings, workshops and conferences:

  • Touchscreen laptop: Microsoft Surface Studio Laptop. Far and away the best laptop I’ve ever used.
  • Wireless control of laptop and PowerPoint: Mobile Mouse  (the mobile phone needs to be an iPhone)
  • Wireless presenting to projector: Microsoft 4k Wireless Display Adapter Plugs into the HDMI socket on a projector / TV, and then allows you to connect wirelessly from a Windows laptop (doesn’t rely on other WiFi networks). The image quality is good (not perfect). If you get one and it doesn’t seem to work, trying changing the power source – some laptops don’t provide enough “juice”, I’ve found.
    • I then “extend the desktop” rather than have it “duplicated”, so it’s easier to control what’s seen on the projector and do prep work on the laptop’s screen. It also means I can see “presenter view” in PowerPoint.
  • Online polling and comments board:  I’ve settled with this system because it’s flexible (choose your own link for the meeting), it integrates well with websites and PowerPoint, the mobile app allows the presenter to see results as well as control the on-screen display, and the pricing is good. Other systems I like are:
  • Personal timer. I use the Silent Timer app (iPhone / iPad only).
  • Table-top monitor. I have a collection of secondhand USB monitors – UPERFECT 15.6″ Portable Monitor

Working with documents

  • Showing Office documents live. I try to make things as easy to view as possible, so I’m careful to zoom in and enlarge fonts when using a projector to show a Word or Excel file. Also, I remove the buttons at the top of screen (press Ctrl-F1) or use Full Screen mode in the app.
  • Live document editing: Microsoft Office 365 (your administrator might need to enable files to be shared for editing with anyone outside the organisation – often tricky if you’re using an NHS-supplied installation of Office).
    • This can handle multiple people reading and contributing to a document simultaneously, and everyone sees everyone else’s contributions live.
    • More info about this is here.
    • If that doesn’t work with your installation of Office, I use Google Docs (although people sometimes seem to have login problems, some of the editing functionality is more confusing than Office, and you can’t draw with a touchscreen or mobile device).
  • Creating flow charts / hierarchies / other diagrams. I’ve found to be brilliant. It’s completely free, and works in a web browser (inc on a mobile phone!) as well as a desktop app.
    • You can jump into it quicky, but it has some moderately advanced functions as well such as database linking and automated script-based formatting. It’s not quite as full-featured as Visio but it won’t drive you insane or break the bank.
    • If you save the file in Google Drive and set the access permissions as ‘public’ you can have multiple people collaborating on the same file together, without needing a login. That’s really handy for workshops, etc. 
  • Collaborative drawing and brainstorming. I really like Lucidspark. To get all the group facilitation functions, you need a paid-for “team” account (about £30 a month for 1-3 users). It’s hugely versatile but still quick to get started, and it works really well on both PCs and mobile devices. For things like brainstorming, affinity diagrams, dot voting, driver diagrams and process maps, I haven’t found a better all-round app yet.
  • Mindmapping.
    • For quick collaboration on mind maps, I use Mindmeister (fully online, easy for collaboration)
    • For everything else – MindManager (desktop app, not so easy to share, but it’s absolutely amazing in terms of functions and integration with Outlook for tasks and calendar, or with MS Project).
  • Photos, etc. I get a lot of my images from Pexels (free) or Shutterstock and Adobe (paid). I’ve also found DALL.E quite helpful for AI-created images to order. I use Flaticon for icons. 
  • Stock video footage. I mostly use Pond5
  • Statistical Process Control (S.P.C.).
    • If you work in the NHS you can get a good Excel-based SPC tool from
    • For everyone else I recommend Winchart. It does things properly, allows for a reasonable amount of annotation, and includes functions to handle seasonal variations. The latter in itself makes this really stand out. The interface is quite dated, and some functions are slightly tricky to use. But it’s very cheap, and is way better than a large number of other systems I’ve seen. 

Information management

For the past year or so I’ve used Zoho One for almost everything. It’s not perfect but it’s very very good, and both cheaper and simpler than the best-known enterprise systems. (I do like MS Project and Dynamics but they’re too pricey for me).

Zoho gives me…

CRM (contacts management). Groups, filtering, group emails with tracking, list management, tasks attached to a contact, link emails to a contact, link a contact to calendar entries … and more. STOP USING SPREADSHEETS FOR CONTACTS LISTS. Phew!

Task and project management. Create projects, milestones, tasks and subtasks. Flexible reporting. View Gantt charts inc critical path analysis, slack management and baselining. Budgeting and resource management at project, milestone and task level. Time logging at any level, with timesheets generated automatically. Time logs can be linked to budgeting, resource accounting and billing.

Calendar management. Manage multiple calendars, assign calendar entries to specific people / teams / projects, offer an online direct booking function for people to book an appointment with me. [I also like Calendly and Doodle for calendar management, but they’re less flexible and integrated for me than doing it all within Zoho. And, of course, if you’re working chiefly inside one part of a large organisation like the NHS, Microsoft Outlook now offers some pretty impressive meeting booking features for colleagues – try the “Meeting Secretary” button.]

Online forms. Proper forms with extensive options. Automated responses, and options for automatic export (Eg to a live spreadsheet) or linking with CRM (eg new responses can add a new person in the CRM app, assign them to a group, create a follow-up task, etc, etc). 

Analytics. A database-driven analytics and charting system. Produce reports from complex surveys, imported spreadsheets, etc. There’s one big drawback here, which is that the analytics system pulls in data from other Zoho apps on a schedule and it can take several minutes. So you can’t get instant views like with a realtime survey system like So I use for live polls in meetings. 
Process automation. Hugely adaptable way of automating common tasks. 

There are several other apps they include which I don’t currently use.

The pricing is amazing if you go for bundles (eg Zoho One) and the customer support is some of the best I’ve encountered. They treat you like Microsoft treat enterprise customers – email is fine, but if it’s complex they’re happy to speak on the phone or do a video call and demo with you. I got myself in a twist with some data analysis and they put an analyst onto setting up the formulas for me. Brilliant.


PS they don’t pay me, I’m just seriously impressed. Having tried around 15 other systems, I’m not leaving.

Analysis / research software

I still get involved in analytical work from time-to-time. Systems I use include the following …

Atlas.ti for qualitative analysis

  • one of long-established qualitative data tools, now with cheap online-only versions
  • it’s a bit basic but does simple text coding well for qualitative analysis

  • all-singing system with hugely flexible approach to textual analysis 
  • includes a few tools for reasonably useful quantitative reporting on coding


Winchart for statistical process control (SPC)

  • sadly no longer maintained
  • cheap and not well-known tool
  • does SPC properly, and includes a sound algorithm for analysing seasonal variation – something which terrifyingly few NHS analysts tend to consider, in my view
  • rather basic graph formatting options


Kutools plugin for Excel

  • some really handy tools for dealing with larger spreadsheets, messy data and pivot tables


Zoho Analytics

  • database-driven online analytics system
  • very flexible approach to analysis and reporting, and can include custom coding (ChatGPT is reasonably good at writing it, but there are thousands of contractors available on freelancing platforms who can also do it)
  • fairly flexible formatting of outputs, but not as good as things like Tableau
  • huge number of integrations


BlueSky statistics analysis

  • Based on the free and open source R system
  • Relatively easy learning curve
  • doesn’t cost thousands – but isn’t as good as something like SPSS or Stata (which would be my favourite if I could justify the money)


Zotero for reference management

  • free and open source tool with both online and desktop apps for managing references
  • includes a mobile app which is OK (but not amazing)

Software for general practice and PCNs

I sometimes help primary care teams with setting up and using systems. The biggest focus usually is not getting started but making the most of what people already have. 

Examples are …

TeamNet for governance. An intranet-on-steroids system. Like steroids, it’s not pretty but it does an amazing amount. It’s hugely underrated by many teams, I find. Functions people often don’t make best use of include:

  • full control over who can create, edit and access documents
  • search based on tags as well as file names – way, way better than storing files in a Microsoft folder somewhere
  • very flexible team calendar, including the ability to track who’s been invited to an event, who attends, etc. You can also add the agenda to a meeting, along with documents to be discussed.
  • significant event logging which includes task tracking for the actions you say you’re going to make
  • automatic audit trail of when a member of staff has read a document or update (instant evidence for CQC)
  • automatic audit trail of every change made to policy documents
  • one-click function for a member of staff to create a PDP log for relevant activities such as attending a meeting or reading an update
  • who’s in the building. Put a QR code by main doors, and staff can scan in/out of the building. Essential for fire officers in larger teams. 
  • tailored logging systems for regular safety tasks such as fridge checks
  • personal task list for staff, bringing every non-clinical task into one place and allowing line managers to track where things are up to (without endless ‘chasing’ emails)
  • one-click export of evidence for CQC


WordPress for intranets

  • There’s a lot you can do with the free Microsoft 365 logins which NHS teams get. But they are limited in key ways, and one of those is that creating websites and intranets is clunky and only works if everyone’s on the same local NHS team. 
  • So it’s often helpful to move to a proper web / intranet system for PCNs and localities. There’s a bewildering choice out there but WordPress is still the world’s most popular option by a very long way. It’s free to use and there are millions of people and companies around the globe who can help with design or problem-solving. 

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