Meet the innovator: Ross Harper

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In this edition, we catch up with Ross Harper, CEO of Limbic a cutting-edge software that drives information within psychological therapy to enhance mental healthcare in the UK.

Tell us about your innovation in a sentence:

Limbic is making the highest quality mental healthcare available to everyone, everywhere, regardless of socioeconomic factors. Our flagship product, Limbic Access, is the world's first AI mental health chatbot to have achieved Class IIa UK medical device status, and has helped over 130,000 NHS patients enter care, releasing over 30,000 clinical hours for NHS Talking Therapies services.

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

The lightbulb moment was speaking to NHS clinicians. From this we learned some important lessons:

  1. many existing digital solutions have an issue around patient engagement and are under-utilised, and;
  2. many clinicians remain over-stretched and this is a crucial bottleneck in the care journey.

We realised we could use our AI not only to support patients but also clinicians. We found ways to make clinicians’ lives easier, freeing up their time and headspace to focus on other aspects of care, and supporting a truly personalised experience for patients, which was reflected in reduced wait times, improved recovery rates, and improved patient experience.

What three bits of advice would you give budding innovators?

1. Be problem focussed (innovators exist to solve the world’s biggest problems)

2. Be customer obsessed (they know more than you about their problems)

3. Be willing to let go of your initial hypotheses in response to new data

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

The toughest obstacle has been finding the right balance between innovating at pace while staying compliant. Mental healthcare technology is a relatively new field, and the regulatory landscape is constantly evolving. We have to meet rigorous standards of safety and efficacy to achieve our Class 2 medical device status and ensure our tools provide meaningful help for those who need it most. Although this process was difficult, we are proud of the outcome and confident that this will pave the way for future innovations in mental health technology using AI.

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

My innovator journey highlight has been the overwhelmingly positive (anonymous) feedback we've received from patients using Limbic Access. To be able to provide relief and aid through AI-based solutions is incredibly rewarding and I'm overwhelmed by the difference we're making in people's lives. It’s the whole reason we started Limbic. To give you an example:

“I feel listened to, and like I was able to pinpoint certain areas that are affecting me.

It has taken me so long to ask for help and this first step has been easier than I thought. Thank you”

Best part of your job now?

Working on cutting edge AI with some of the world's foremost scientists in the field. It really does feel like we are at the beginning of something revolutionary in psychological therapy. Our research team has over 6,000 citations, and we are uniquely placed to combine AI and clinical psychology in a meaningful way. It's truly exciting work! Every day it feels like we are pushing the boundaries of mental healthcare, and it's great to be a part of such an important movement. Our team is passionate about making sure the highest quality care is accessible and affordable for everyone, and we are committed to creating solutions that will make this a reality. I’m genuinely excited to see the next breakthrough to come out of our lab! (Spoiler: it’s coming soon).

If you were in charge of the NHS and care system, what’s the one thing you’d do to speed up health innovation?

I would encourage and ultimately require interoperability between software providers. Mental healthcare, especially with AI technology, requires seamless integration between multiple providers and services. By requiring interoperability across software solutions, we could open up the pathway for innovation and collaboration and create a more efficient process. This would ultimately create opportunities for better patient outcomes and improved access to mental healthcare services.

A typical day for you would include…

The first thing I do each day is talk to Limbic - I need to be a power user of our own AI in order to have insight into our users. I then check in with my direct reports on our goals and objectives for the day, and review key metrics and analytics from our software products to get a sense of how we are performing relative to our goals. After this, I spend some time networking with industry professionals and partners and then I meet with our product team to review any new features or updates. Finally, I end the day by connecting with customers and clients in order to gain insights into how they are using our products and what improvements could be made.

You can find Limbic on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Medication Safety: How patients and healthcare professionals make safety work

Medicines are the most common healthcare intervention in the NHS. It is increasingly important that healthcare professionals work collaboratively with patients to minimise harm from medicines. Natasha Callender, Pharmacist, and Medicines Workstream Lead for Patient Safety shares some reflections on what the opportunities are.

Key stats:

  • 54% of errors occur in administration, 21% in prescribing and 16% in dispensing

  • 72% of medication errors have little or no potential for harm, and only 2% have potential to cause severe harm

Source: Prevalence and economic burden of medication errors in the NHS in England

More than 200 million medication errors occur in the NHS each year. Most errors occur in administration, prescribing and dispensing. Most medication errors have little/no potential for harm, and only two per cent have potential to cause severe harm. The majority of errors are associated with administration. Tried and tested safeguards such as the 5 Rights of Medication Administration - the right patient, drug, dose, route, and time – are widely accepted ways to reduce medication administration errors.

While humanistic safeguards can mitigate risk of medication errors, there is increasingly a place for using technology to improve the safety of systems, for example during transfer across traditional care boundaries between hospitals and general practices/primary care networks; or closed loop medication and administration prescribing systems in hospitals. I recently attended the Patient Safety Congress where speakers who shared their progress on implementing closed loop medicines administration, and suggested that standardisation was the way forward to reduce medication errors.

However closed loop administration and other digital solutions will not reduce all medication risks. At the Health Innovation Network, we have been facilitating our Opioid Stewardship Quality Improvement Collaborative with the aim of helping healthcare professionals improve chronic pain management for patients. As part of this programme, we watched a video about asking the ‘5 Whys’ to reach the root cause of a problem. Fixing the actual root cause may be far more simple and inexpensive than the alternatives.

Improving pathways or services to reduce harm from medicines does not always require complex or expensive solutions, but collaboration remains a crucial part of the process. By involving patients and allowing them to personalise their own care, we can make simple changes that have a significant impact. It is important to engage and co-develop improvements with patients when improving services. There is a lot we can learn from their experiences to inform changes for the better.

At the core of the Medicines Safety Improvement Programme (MedSIP) that drives our local medicines workstream, is a quality improvement approach. But it is through reporting of adverse events to national data schemes that trends can be identified as areas of improvement. Both patients and healthcare professionals are encouraged to report suspected and actual adverse events from medicines and vaccines via the Yellow Card MHRA reporting service. Together we can work to ensure adverse experience with medicines drive the improvements we strive to make.

Find out more

For more information, please get in touch with Natasha Callender, Senior Project Manager for Patient Safety and Experience.

Get in touch

Resources

Yellow Card scheme or via the Yellow Card app (download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store) – only a suspicion is needed to report a suspected reaction.

For suspected adverse reactions associated with COVID-19 vaccines and medicines, as well as suspected incidents with medical devices and test kits, report directly to the Coronavirus Yellow Card reporting site or use the Yellow Card app.

References

  1. EEPRU 2018: Prevalence and economic burden of medication errors in the NHS in England
  2. NHS England: Enduring standards that remain valid from previous patient safety alerts

“It’s not about me, it’s not about you, it’s about us” – World Prematurity Day & MatNeoSIP

On World Prematurity Day, we hear the latest from the Pan-London Maternity and Neonatal Safety Improvement Programme Team.

Key stats:

  • Around 2,900 babies are stillborn and 60,000 preterm births every year in the UK
  • Stillbirth and premature birth rates vary widely (up to +/-20%) across UK 

Source: Provisional births in England and Wales: 2020

The Pan-London Maternity and Neonatal Safety Improvement Programme (MatNeoSIP) team hosted its first face-to-face event since Covid in November 2022, celebrating the hard work Maternity and Neonatology teams have achieved across London to improve mother and baby care and safety.

People gathered from across London Maternity Units, from the London Maternity Clinical Network, the Operational Delivery Network, the Local Maternity and Neonatal Systems, charities such as the Tommy’s National Centre for Maternity Improvement, and from the Maternity Voice Partnerships (representing service users). A member from the audience kicked off the afternoon stating that they had come today for cross-boundary networking. London is one hospital. It’s not about me or you, it is about us. We must work collaboratively across boundaries and across professions, bringing Maternity and Neonatalogy together.

The Deputy Regional Chief Midwife, Nina Khazaezadeh, set out the London vision for maternity with more personalised, safer, and kinder care for women, birthing people and families. Thought should be given to culture and service-user voice to ensure that everyone is heard, and choice is taken into account early on in the pathway of the mother’s pregnancy. A “fishbowl” exercise discussing post-natal care reinforced how we need to optimise giving post-natal information antenatally to help to prevent complications and enable mothers and their families to spot abnormalities. A service user explained that cross cultural experiences and differences are not understood and so instead the mother and families can feel pressured to comply to a culture that they are not familiar with, told to do or not do something and not given choice in their care. Information needs to be accessible in different languages and culturally tailored for the diverse population of London.

Olivia Houlihan, Regional Maternity Transformation Lead, discussed the Right Place of Birth for premature babies through the Quality Improvement (QI) pan-London project. The ambition is to ensure that all babies that are born pre 27 weeks (or pre 28 weeks for multiples) are born in a maternity unit co-located with a level 3 neonatal unit. This is an excellent example of co-design and collaboration across multiple stakeholder groups to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the pathway. Continuing on the topic of improving the care of preterm babies, Dr Ambalika Das, Consultant Neonatologist & Neonatal Lead at Queen’s Hospital in Romford spoke to us about their QI project on how to optimise the thermal care of admitted new-borns. She reinforces the message that it is possible to achieve normothermia in most babies with continuous monitoring, education and feedback via PDSA cycles.

Finally, the team from the Tommy’s National Centre for Maternity Improvement, which has been established to reduce the number of babies born prematurely or stillborn, shared the risk assessment and decision support tool that has been developed and piloted at four sites across the UK. The vision is for each woman and birthing person to be offered the right care at the right time, no matter where they live. Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust, as an early adopter site, advocated that the identification of clinical champions in the Trust to lead this work and working closely with Maternity Voice Partners (MVP) helped with the rollout and adoption of the tool.

Our fantastic clinical chairs, Dr Anita Banerjee and Dr Sabrina Das left us with some empowering words around kindness – “Kindness is the new superpower to enact change - Kindness should be recognised as a positive way to drive quality improvement and enact change.”

Gemma Dakin, Project Manager for Patient Safety and Experience at the HIN would like to thank all speakers and her amazing MatNeoSIP colleagues at ICHP and UCLP for their continued hard work and collaboration to improve maternity and neonatal care for patients.

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Find out more

For more information, please get in touch with our MatNeoSIP contacts.

Get in touch

Health Innovation Network - South London

Gemma Dakin | Project Manager - Patient Safety and Experience Team

gemma.dakin@nhs.net

UCL Partners – North Central North East London

Paulina Sporek | Maternity Improvement Advisor

paulina.sporek@uclpartners.com

Imperial College Health Partners – North West London

Omid Nivi | Senior Innovation Manager

omid.nivi@imperialcollegehealthpartners.com

Sarah Stephens | Senior Innovation Adviser

sarah.stephens@imperialcollegehealthpartners.com

Meet the innovator: Antoine Lever

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In this edition, we catch up with Antoine Lever, Co-founder and Commercial Director of babblevoice, an affordable, high quality and reliable phone system that is purpose-built for primary care providers.

Tell us about your innovation in a sentence:

Babblevoice is a cloud-hosted telephone system for primary care which supports practices, patients and staff across the UK.

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

When we saw how surgeries were being treated by the telephone industry e.g. expensive equipment, functionality that added no value and especially long onerous contracts.

What three bits of advice would you give budding innovators?

  1. Don’t do this alone. Build a great team around you.
  2. Work as closely as possible with your customer and as soon as possible.
  3. Be relentless on quality. Reputation is everything.

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

Initially our biggest obstacle was persuading surgeries that voice over the Internet was reliable. Skype has done a lot of harm. Now our biggest obstacle is joining the relevant frameworks.

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

My highlight was when I watched a surgery transform from a defensive blame culture into a patient centric culture thanks to babblevoice reporting and remote monitoring features.

Best part of your job now?

The best part of my job is watching practice managers’ faces as I explain how babblevoice can transform their day whilst supporting their staff.

If you were in charge of the NHS and care system, what’s the one thing you’d do to speed up health innovation?

I believe that if there was greater visibility of the problems faced each day by clinicians and administrators that innovators would step up to the challenge.

A typical day for you would include…

A typical day for me would include a briefing from the sales and marketing teams to see which events and opportunities are coming up. I would then meet with the operations team to let them know which surgeries are most likely to want babblevoice installed next month. I like to speak to at least one prospective surgery and one existing customer each day to learn more about their issues and experiences. The rest of my time is normally spent interviewing job applicants.

You can find babblevoice on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Meet the innovator: Meera Radia

PocketEye: Connecting Eye Care

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PocketEye: Connecting Eye Care

In this edition, we catch up with Meera Radia, founder and CEO of PocketEye, a platform which improves access to eye care.

Tell us about your innovation in a sentence:

PocketEye is a cloud-based digital triage platform for eye care, enabling secure communication, seamless referrals and triage between primary and secondary eye care.

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

As an ophthalmologist, I was working in eye casualty one day when there was an extremely long (~6 hour) wait for patients, and I realised the majority of these patients had been referred as same-day emergency referrals, which could have been prevented and remotely managed. Furthermore, my sister who is an optometrist would phone me regularly for general eye advice and teaching, as she felt there was a gap in her knowledge, and also her colleagues' knowledge, in terms of when to refer and when to not refer. 

I scribbled down a list of ideas I had that could solve this problem, spoke to a lot of professionals affected by these healthcare delivery challenges, and eventually, PocketEye was born!

What three bits of advice would you give budding innovators?

  1. When you hear a ‘No,’ that does not mean it is the end of the road - Get creative and use it as a learning opportunity
  2. While researching your market it is important to take strong opinions with a pinch of salt as the more people you speak to, the more you will gain a ‘bigger picture’
  3. Use technology to your advantage, we almost have no excuse with so many resources (many are free!) at our fingertips!

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

I would say it has been navigating the highly variable NHS pathways that exist in eye care. No two CCGs/ICSs are the same and so understanding the nuances of each one we speak to has been challenging. Understanding funding in the NHS is also crucial, and takes time to grasp as a concept.

Furthermore, behaviour change is a big challenge, especially within NHS organisations. But overall, I believe that it is an exciting time to be in the NHS, as there is a nascent appetite and spirit for being more open to change and innovation.

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

  • Being selected to take part in the Digital.Health.London Launchpad accelerator programme in 2022 – This was a very empowering moment as it proved to us that others believed in the problem we are trying to solve!
  • Engaging with the eye community, and learning a lot more about eye healthcare structure and services
  • Having 200+ optometrists sign up to use our service

What is the best part of your job now?

Using creativity to problem-solve, and best of all, understanding the impact and difference our innovation can have in the eye care landscape, including improving patient safety and the patient experience

If you were in charge of the NHS and care system, what’s the one thing you’d do to speed up health innovation?

I would push for a flat structure (non-hierarchical), and increase collaboration between allied healthcare professionals and managerial team members.

A typical day for you would include…

My days are varied, interesting, sometimes exhausting but always exciting!

I can either be found in a hospital examining, operating on, or thinking about eyes, or I’m in the office, meeting with the PocketEye team. When in the office, I will be juggling various arms of the business including business development, marketing and comms, compliance, and of course working on product with Ed, the CTO. This manifests itself in lots of emails, Twitter page posting, pitchdecks, meetings, and of course, ringfenced thinking time.

You can find PocketEye on Twitter and LinkedIn.