Musculoskeletal leaders join the HIN for third Improvement Network event

On Friday 23 June, the HIN hosted its third Musculoskeletal (MSK) Improvement Network event.

The forum provides an opportunity for professionals involved in delivering or leading musculoskeletal services to share expertise, and discuss and debate how to improve the quality of life of people living with an MSK-related diagnosis.

June’s event attracted over 70 participants, and was expertly co-chaired by Christina Sothinathan, Innovation Business Partner at Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust and Advanced Practice Physiotherapist; and Ben Wanless, Consultant Physiotherapist at St George’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

The event started with a friendly live debate between Julia Tabrah and Dr David Herdman on the role of Cervico-Cranial Red Flags. Julia is Consultant MSK Physiotherapist and Clinical Lead for MSK Community Services at NHS England – London Region, and Dr David is Clinical Lead for Neurology and Vestibular Rehabilitation at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. A red flag tool was shared and discussed and is available on the resource page. The resource outlines some of the key symptoms relating to cervical, spine and headache conditions and can help with decision making for onward referral if concerning features arise through history taking and clinical reasoning.

Dr Lesley Perkins, GP and MSK Clinical Lead at North East London Integrated Care Board (ICB), discussed Quality Improvement (QI) in primary care, outlining how Tower Hamlets Primary Care Network (PCN) used a QI approach to help staff improve communication skills and achieve better outcomes for patients.

The session then had three five-minute showcases of various services, followed by interactive Q&A sessions (see 'Showcases' box on right).


  • Dr Jim Kelly from Ashford Clinical Providers shared Ashford’s success story in commissioning an MSK pathway and how this helps to take pressure off secondary care services.
  • Consultant MSK Physiotherapist Andrew Cuff presented on PhysioNow, a patient self-assessment tool that provides enhanced choice of how and when to access physiotherapy services, bringing care into the community and closer to home
  • MSK Physiotherapist and Strategic Lead for Integrated MSK Services Dee Pratt spoke about the Dual Triage Model, which aims to ensure that patients are referred to the right services at the right time. This helps to reduce delays and allows greater ability to recall and review patients, improving staff capacity.

The final presentation was given by a team from the UK Frost Trial, a National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)-funded multi-centre randomised control trial comparing three common treatments for frozen shoulder. Attendees had the opportunity to discuss the draft pathway and share feedback. This initiative is the largest randomised trial to compare early structured physiotherapy, manipulation under anaesthesia, and arthroscopic capsular release for frozen shoulder.

Sharing her reflections, co-chair Christina said:

The last three events have gone from strength to strength and it’s incredibly inspiring to see so many fantastic leaders and clinicians all in one space. We’ve received extremely positive feedback from attendees and are looking forward to bringing together our learning to accelerate innovations within the musculoskeletal field to drive better outcomes for all.

- Christina Sothinathan, Innovation Business Partner at Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust

Please have a look at the slides and resources from this event on this resource page.

Find out more

To find out more about the London MSK Improvement Network and other related projects, please contact us.

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Meet the innovator: Zoe Wright

In this edition, we catch up with Zoe Wright, Founder and CEO of The Real Birth Company, a service and training programme that supports pregnant women and people who access all maternity services and the midwives, doulas and antenatal teachers who support them.

Current job role:

Founder and CEO

Name of innovation:

The Real Birth Digital Workshop

Tell us about your innovation in a sentence.

The Real Birth Digital Workshop™ is an award winning, interactive, user friendly, animated, and easily accessible tool, providing mothers-to-be, many from underrepresented groups, with the essential support that they may not otherwise receive.

The Real Birth Company won the award for Innovation in Helping Address Health Inequalities at the Innovate Awards 2023.

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

Being a community midwife I often found it hard to have in-depth conversations about birth physiology in appointments, as they were just not long enough. Even with an hour for birth planning, there is so much information to share to give time for true informed choice to take place. This was even harder with women whose first language was not English. I often felt like I was failing. Even with all the extra hours and time taken to try and create resources that I could share, I just kept thinking that there had to be a more proactive way of supporting people.

What three pieces of advice would you give budding innovators?

There is a quote that I have stuck on my wardrobe door since I made the decision to turn years of ideas into action. This quote was photocopied for me by a person who also started her own business and has grown it into a wonderful charity that supports so many. ‘Many of life's failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.’ There are weeks when I never seem to seem stop walking uphill and get no closer to the top, but then something happens and the core of our work and its purpose make the distance worth it!

Three things:

  • Don’t give up
  • There is always something to learn even if it's not clear in the beginning
  • Be adaptable. Even though the idea is great, it may not work! Learning how to be adaptable, open to ideas and new findings is essential!

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

Learning how to become a businessperson. In our journey so far, I have met lots of innovators and they are all so passionate, it's infectious! Most of us know our industry really well, but turning that into a business and running one, for me has been a huge learning curve. I have had to learn a whole set of new skills and am learning every day, which is very similar to midwifery as there is always something to learn there too!

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

I think that this is really hard to answer. I’ve had so many, for example, the first time we went live in a hospital when the midwives were actually using it and most importantly liking it. Then there was the day I found out I had made the NIA interview list! Becoming a fellow on the NHS Innovation Accelerator programme is very high up on the list!

If I had to pick a moment (maybe two!), it would be the first time we pulled post-birth data from people using our innovation. The comments had me in tears! Knowing that people using us were feeling more confident about their birth choices and reading that they felt it had helped their birth experience - you can’t get any better than that. The second was about four months ago: I was walking to the office and three of our employees were walking up the stairs. They didn’t know each other before they worked for us. They met, laughed and chatted about the work they were going to be doing that day, and their work is what makes us work. That was a real highlight to see.

The digital programme has reached over 11,000 women, 10.8% of those being from ethnic minorities and 4.5% under 16 years of age. After completing the programme, 66.1% of women reported they had a vaginal birth versus NHS average of 50%. Meanwhile, 24% of women used water for birth versus the 5% NHS average, and only 15% of women used pethidine as analgesia versus 25% NHS average.

What is the best part of your job now?

Besides working with some amazing people who are so passionate about our organisation, it’s working out how to make it better. Better for people accessing it and a better resource that midwives want to share to support midwifery practice and informed choices. To do this we hold a lot of Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement activities. I feel really passionate about progression and working out how to engage more people to support their informed choices and decision-making in childbirth.

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

There are lots of great innovations to support the NHS, but it can be very slow for adoption to happen. For good reason too, especially to measure if they are fit for purpose. But there are some things that would be helpful. For example - to gain an understanding of all the different accreditations and certifications innovations have achieved to be where they are now, a more standardised approach would support innovation. One of the slowest factors is people not really understanding what they all mean or what innovators have had to do to achieve them.

A typical day for you would include…

Getting up, and having at least two cups of tea to start the day! Checking my emails and organising them into urgent for me, urgent for someone else and non-urgent.

Asking for a report on usage across the UK and assessing if there are any issues to be aware of.

At the same time, I have a quick catch up with our Chief Operations Officer who fires at me all the things going on that day, and if there is something foreseen that I may need to be involved in.

I’ll then pop my head around the door of the tech team, see if they are all okay.

I quite like going to see the graphic designer next and seeing where we are up to with project work, for example the ‘Meet your baby’s care team’ animated video in our SBRI Healthcare funded module of preterm birth.

Then I’ll have two or three meetings with ICBs, Heads of Midwifery, Digital Midwifery leads or other stakeholders.

Next some dedicated time set aside for report writing or future planning, often looking at what we need to do next how that fits into our future workstream or scope, then measuring it against the needs from our Patient and Public Engagement activities and National agendas. In-between that I may have a call or ten with one of my four children, normally about something they can solve but won’t! Luckily the dogs don’t have phones...

You can find The Real Birth Company on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Accelerating FemTech: East Midlands

On Tuesday 20 June, innovators, academics and clinicians came together for the in-person event “Accelerating FemTech: East Midlands”, to explore the innovative and transformative possibilities in the realm of women’s health. 

This event was part of the Accelerating FemTech initiative, which aims to support innovators to boost the development of technology solutions to address current challenges in women’s health. Accelerating FemTech is being delivered by the Health Innovation Network and partners, including: Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), CW Innovation and others, utilising Innovate UK funding as part of the Biomedical Catalyst in collaboration with the Medical Research Council.

This event was hosted by East Midlands AHSN was introduced by Nicole McGlennon, Managing Director of the AHSN. A wide range of experts presented on the day including:

  • Dame Barbara Hakin, who delivered the day’s keynote speech on digital solutions to the challenges facing women’s healthcare. Dame Barbara is a renowned system leader who was the former CEO of East Midlands Strategic Health Authority as well as former Deputy CEO and COO of NHS England. She detailed how the NHS is delivering innovation and explained about potential barriers and strategies to get around them, including the importance of real-world clinical and economic evidence.
  • Nelli Morgulchik, Venture Development Associate at Pioneer Group, then shared insights from guiding budding entrepreneurs and structuring businesses from scratch within the FemTech space. She described the 3 W’s that companies should consider when looking for investment: Who is the investor, What are going to use the money for and When is the right time to raise investment.
  • Zoe Wright, the Founder of the Real Birth Company and Registered Midwife, discussed her award-winning antenatal education programme and the highs and lows of working within FemTech. She shared some great insights about how to work effectively with both clinicians and patients to develop a programme that meets everyone’s needs.
  • Simon Harris is a seasoned professional leading transformative NHS projects and AI initiatives and, in his presentation, he discussed how digital health company, Kheiron, is using AI to help transform breast cancer diagnostics. Simon discussed the challenges of implementing an AI solution across systems and how Kheiron have overcome them. He also shared Kheiron’s experience of using an AI radiology tool to work with clinicians to improve cancer diagnosis and save coasts.
  • After a networking lunch where attendees worked in groups to discuss what the key FemTech challenges were, Angie Doshani, Consultant Obsterician and Gynaecologist, provided an overview of innovation in women’s health, with a particular reference to the JANAM app that she has developed to help support South Asian mums-to-be in Leicester and beyond. It was a great example of how technology can be used to supported under-represented communities.
  • Ollie Croft, FemTech Mentor and Business Development Engineer, then wrapped up the presentation section with a summary of the key considerations for innovators when developing a FemTech product. He presented his significant experience in the design of both physical and digital FemTech products and what needs to be considered.
  • Anna King, Commercial Director at the Health Innovation Network, concluded the event by providing an overview of the Accelerating FemTech initiative and importantly how companies can apply and how everyone can get involved!

Innovators from across the FemTech space were then able to network, linking together to discuss their areas of interest and potential partnership opportunities. We look forward to seeing new partnerships forming as a result of the Accelerating FemTech initiative, to help boost the development, evaluation and deployment of innovations in the women’s health space.

If you’d like to dive deeper into the topics discussed, you can now download the slide pack from the event.

Accelerating FemTech: Manchester – Inspiring the improvement of women’s experience of health through technology

On Tuesday 13th June, innovators, academics and clinicians in the women’s health space came together for the in-person event “Accelerating FemTech: Manchester - Inspiring the improvement of women’s experience of health through technology”. 

This event was the first of three face-to-face events as part of the Accelerating FemTech initiative, which aims to support innovators to boost the development of technology solutions to address current challenges in women’s health. Accelerating FemTech is being delivered by the Health Innovation Network and partners, including: Academic Health Science Networks, CW Innovation and others, utilising Innovate UK funding as part of the Biomedical Catalyst in collaboration with the Medical Research Council.

This event was hosted by Mills & Reeve in partnership with Health Innovation Manchester and Charlotte Lewis, Principal Associate at Mills & Reeve, opened the event before handing over to the speakers. A wide range of experts presented on the day including:

  • Liz Ashall Payne, Founding CEO of ORCHA who spoke about empowering women’s health through digital solutions
  • Sarah Cordery, Director of Kuppd, a new breast prosthesis brand, showcased their collaboration with academic institutions to use innovative 3D body scanning to help understand more about the shape of the area of the body affected by breast cancer surgery.
  • Then came a panel discussion featuring Zoe Wright, Midwife and CEO of The Real Birth Company, and Caroline Finch, Programme Development Lead - Patient Safety Collaborative for the Maternity and Neonatal Safety Improvement Programme at Health Innovation Manchester.
  • Prof Richard Edmondson, Clinical Professor in Gynaecological Oncology at the University of Manchester spoke about innovations and progress within gynaecological cancers.
  • Vicky Bertenshaw, Research Operations Manager at Health Innovation Manchester then provided an overview of the health innovation ecosystem in Manchester and the AHSN Network.
  • The speaking section concluded with a panel discussion on digital innovation in menopause services featuring Gaele Lalahey, COO of Balance Manopause App, Dr Laura Clark, GP at Archwood Medical Practice in Stockport, and Prof Carol Atkinson, Director of Research for the Faculty of Business and Law at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Innovators from across the FemTech space were then able to network, linking together to discuss their areas of interest and potential partnership opportunities. We look forward to seeing new partnerships forming as a result of the Accelerating FemTech initiative, to help boost the development, evaluation and deployment of innovations in the women’s health space.

If you’d like to find out more about the day’s agenda and speakers, you can now download the information pack. You can also download the slide pack from the event if you'd like to dive deeper into the topics discussed.

Accelerating FemTech: Health equity by design

The second webinar in the Accelerating FemTech: Inspire series was hosted by Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network (KSS AHSN) and was on the topic of using a gender equity lens to innovate in women’s mental health and menopause.

Following an introduction to the Accelerating FemTech programme, Dr Maryann Ferreux, Medical Director for KSS AHSN and host of the webinar, began by introducing the KSS strategy for women’s health and their vision to reduce health inequalities for women, by ensuring all women have access to the best quality health and care.

Maryann then introduced Dr Sam Fraser, Implementation Lead for Primary and Community Care for the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) for Kent, Surrey and Sussex. Sam introduced the biopsychosocial model of causality for mental illness and how this relates to the five stages of womanhood. She highlighted the importance of mental health interventions for every life stage and how co-design with diverse groups is vital.

Sylvia Stevenson the spoke about menopause and inspiring innovations to think about new products through diversity of thought. Sylvia is Head of DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) Development at IC24. Sylvia set the scene by sharing several menopause statistics including:

  • There are 13 million peri or post menopausal in the UK
  • There are more than 30 recognised symptoms of menopause
  • Symptoms can last on average 4-8 years
  • 44% of women experienced 3 or more severe symptoms

She also highlighted the importance of looking at innovation in menopause with an intersectional lens, taking into account the current lack of representation and potential for algorithmic bias in AI solutions. She finished by highlighting the five menopause-related issues she thinks developers should consider and a call to action for innovators to focus on solutions in this space.

If you found these clips interesting, be sure to sign up to attend upcoming Accelerating FemTech webinar on how FemTech can help reduce inequalities in maternity care. You can also express an interested in attending our in-person Accelerating FemTech events happening in Manchester, London and East Midlands.

Applications are also open to Accelerating FemTech: Accelerate, a 10-week support programme is for small / medium-sized companies (SMEs) from across the UK, that have early-stage innovations addressing current challenges in women’s health.

Find out more

Find out more about Accelerating FemTech

Visit the Accelerating FemTech Webpage

The Key to Evaluation: involving experts by experience in our research on remote monitoring

Supporting remote monitoring has been an important focus of the HIN over recent years. In 2019, we brought together colleagues from Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital, Lewisham and Greenwich and the South East London Clinical Commissioning Groups with the aim to improve outpatient experiences for a cohort of patients with long-term conditions, with rheumatology chosen as the focus area. Fast forward to 2021, the HIN began a project with Kings Improvement Science, working closely with Experts by Experience, Emma-Jayne Adams and Mary-Ann Palmer to inform research on remote monitoring for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  This project has allowed the experts to use their personal experiences of RA to make a difference to others living with the same condition.

Around one per cent of the UK population is affected by RA, a chronic autoimmune joint disease that causes pain and inflammation, for which there is no cure. Symptoms can fluctuate unpredictably over time, with worse periods known as ‘flares’. It’s important for patients to get treated quickly during a flare to prevent progressive joint damage and irreversible disability. This doesn’t always fit with the way traditional face-to-face services have worked; appointments may not fall at times when patients most need to be seen, or at the right times to accurately capture a variation in symptoms. Remote monitoring can help to overcome these challenges, by allowing more regular oversight of symptoms so that patients can signal when they need to be seen most.

In 2020, a new remote monitoring service for RA was rolled out across three NHS trusts in south east London. This service involves inviting patients each month, via text message, to fill in a questionnaire about their symptoms. If their answers indicate they are having a flare, the service can provide tailored advice and support. Patients can also get in touch with a clinician via text. They have expressed a wide range of positive outcomes from the survey, including time saved from filling out long forms and attending appointments, as well as a happier, healthier mindset. You can find out more about the service and patients’ views by watching the video on this page.

For the past two years, KIS, NHS and patient partners have played a fundamental role in evaluating the rollout of this service. We wanted to know what patients and staff thought about the service, and what existing research can tell us about similar programmes.

"Having experienced the highs and lows of rheumatoid arthritis for many years, we wanted to use our lived experiences and skills to help make a positive difference to patient care and the lives of others with the illness."Emma-Jayne Adams and Mary-Ann Palmer, Experts by Experience

Patients were overwhelmingly positive about the remote monitoring service and engagement was high. In contrast, staff views were more mixed and engagement beyond the pilot site was low, which may be explained by barriers specific to roll-out sites. Equal levels of patient and staff engagement are required for the service to be sustainable.

Patient and public involvement was integral throughout this work. One of the stages that is often missed in involvement facilitation is working with existing patient networks and groups, which means reinventing the wheel is very common. To avoid this we established a close working relationship with the patient-led organisation, National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS). NRAS helped us bring in Emma-Jayne and Mary-Ann, who both live with RA onto the research team as paid partners. We also ran workshops with a wider group of patients at key points in the project. This dual approach enabled us to balance building long-term, in-depth working relationships with getting a range of views.

Our Expert by Experience team members have written more about working with us here. They are also named as co-authors on the academic manuscript (currently under review), alongside the clinicians and researchers on the team, which reflects the influence they’ve had on the project and the amount of work they have put in. The full results of the evaluation will be published later this year.

This service is a strong example of the ongoing importance of involving people in projects and working in partnership with them to co-produce health innovation. In line with our long-term involvement strategy at the HIN, we are continuing to work with our own lived experience partners across various programmes to embed involvement as a key culture of our organisation.

If you would like to hear more about the remote monitoring service, the evaluation results, or patient involvement in the project, we’d love it if you could join our livestreamed panel and Q&A on 28 June at 7pm, via the NRAS social media and YouTube channels.

You are also welcome to join the involvement mailing list for news and opportunities to get involved with KIS.

Meet the innovator: Jonathan Knight

CEO and Co-founder of Tefogo, Jonathan Knight

In this edition, we catch up with Jonathan Knight, CEO and Co-founder of Tefogo. His innovation, Compassly, allows comprehensive clinical competencies to be easily managed with the simplicity of an app.

Current job role:

CEO & Co-founder at Tefogo

Name of innovation:


Tell us about your innovation in a sentence.

Compassly is an incredibly easy-to-use app for assessing the skills of clinical staff and assuring healthcare teams have the right skills to care for patients while motivating ongoing professional development - all digitally signed off and portable across organisations.

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

This was more a gentle dawning than an instant lightbulb. It came from repeatedly hearing nurses and healthcare leaders –  people I really respected –  saying that this was one of their biggest unsolved challenges, which got my attention. They were so frustrated, and almost couldn’t believe that it hadn’t been solved already.

But beyond that, I was inspired by the fact that this was an important problem to solve on many levels: staff professional development, patient safety and experience, and helping the workforce to be more productive. And then from the moment we started showing people the prototype designs, we got such a positive reaction: “this is exactly what we need”.

What three pieces of advice would you give budding innovators?

  • Always listen to your customers, but don’t be afraid to challenge and come with your own perspective too – you have a lot of knowledge to bring, and you have probably spent more time thinking about the problem you are solving than anyone else
  • Be relentless in improving your product. One day it will be used by hundreds of thousands of people, and every improvement will make their lives just that extra bit better
  • Always try to move at pace, but have patience with your customers and users in healthcare; they have far more to deal with than you will truly understand

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

It’s no secret that the NHS is under enormous pressure, and most people are just swamped. It’s very frustrating to have a great innovation that people really want to use, but there are everyday challenges preventing them having the time and space to make the improvements that could help them.

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

It’s a cliché but the overall highlight remains getting to work with the clinical teams in the NHS. From the very start we designed Compassly alongside the nurses who would be using it, and even when it was a basic concept people freely gave up their time to help because they could see how it would help colleagues and patients. To then be able to come back to them further down the line with a polished solution that they can use is truly satisfying.

But if I were to pick one specifically, it was winning the tender to use Compassly to digitise the UK Oncology Nursing Society’s chemotherapy (SACT) competency passport. It’s an organisation that I had admired from afar, and to be chosen to work with them felt like a huge validation of what we’re building. That project will soon bring Compassly to around 10,000 oncology nurses across the UK helping to treat cancer patients, and the whole team is massively motivated by supporting them.

What is the best part of your job now?

At heart I’m a product person. So while I enjoy pretty much all the different elements of my job, I think I will always be happiest coming up with innovative digital products that help solve important problems for people.

We showed Compassly to a senior NHS nurse for the first time a few weeks back, and he said “You’ve solved all the problems that I wanted to ask you about, and some that I hadn’t even thought of. It’s like you read our minds”. To know that we can help clinical staff that way is a tremendous feeling, and exactly why I love this job.

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

The problem isn’t innovation, as there’s no shortage of innovative products out there. Rather, it’s adoption, the fact that so few of them are being widely used because of how hard it is to do.

There has been a lot of effort more broadly in healthcare to give a template of how to do things (GIRFT, Model Hospital, What Good Looks Like etc), but far too little for adopting technology. I would create a repeatable but adaptable process, forms and funding for NHS organisations to adopt a wide range of innovative digital solutions.

A typical day for you would include…

It’s almost impossible to describe a typical day as they are so very varied. One thing that is consistent is that I’m lucky to get to start the day with my kids as I do school / nursery drop-off each morning. That means that, however busy my day is, I always know I’ll be able to dedicate time with them, and it’s a great way to start the day.

We have an international team so there’s already quite a lot to catch up on straight away, and I find it energising to get into what they’ve been working on. There are a few things I’ll try to do consistently everyday - look at ways to improve the product, think about what new knowledge and content we can produce and make sure I’ve kept on top of all emails and comms. And most days I’ll be doing some sort of demo or discussion of Compassly – there is just no substitute to getting to speak to users and customers.

Beyond that, it’s whatever challenge the day brings!

You can find Compassly on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Health Innovation Network receives Innovate UK grant to run “Accelerating FemTech”

The Health Innovation Network is happy to announce “Accelerating FemTech”, a new initiative which will support innovators to boost the development of technology solutions to address current challenges in women’s health. Accelerating FemTech has been made possible through Innovate UK funding as part of the Biomedical Catalyst.

Accelerating FemTech is looking to inspire, by engaging innovators (clinicians, companies and academics) around the challenges in women’s health, and to accelerate, by delivering a targeted 10-week accelerator programme for small / medium-sized companies from across the UK.

The programme is being delivered by the Health Innovation Network and partners, including: DigitalHealth.London, CW Innovation, the Academic Health Science Network for North East and North Cumbria, Kent Surrey Sussex AHSN, South West AHSN, West of England AHSN, Mills & Reeve, East Midlands AHSN, Yorkshire and Humber AHSN, Health Innovation Manchester, and others.

Anna King, Commercial Director for the Health Innovation Network, said: “There are enormous opportunities to bring new innovation to women’s health – from female-specific areas such as maternal health, fertility, gynecological cancers and menopause, to conditions that affect women disproportionally or differently, including osteoporosis or cardiovascular disease. Accelerating FemTech aims to inspire innovators to tackle the challenges in these areas and equip companies working in women’s health to develop their product offering. I look forward to working with healthcare leaders from across the UK to advance innovation in this important space and am very grateful to Innovate UK for funding this vital work.”

Dr Samana Brannigan, Head of Health Technologies at Innovate UK, commented: “Our vision is to inspire early-stage businesses to develop cutting edge healthcare solutions to transform healthcare and drive business growth. In collaboration with the Medical Research Council we have developed a pilot accelerator programme to maximise impact of our excellent research base and transform innovative research into commercially viable businesses. We are delighted to be working with Health Innovation Network and their partners to deliver this programme and their support will undoubtedly improve the success of the early-stage innovators in addressing real-world challenges.”

INSPIRE includes specialist webinars, from a range of subject matter experts and innovators, to motivate and celebrate innovative solutions, and invite-only face-to-face events, to encourage and connect innovators to solve to women’s health challenges. These events are targeted at clinicians, academic and innovators interested in tackling women’s health challenges. Details of all of the events can be found here.

ACCELERATE is a 10-week support programme is for small / medium-sized companies (SMEs) from across the UK, that have early-stage innovations addressing current challenges in women’s health. Building on the Health Innovation Network’s experience of running the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator, the programme will provide companies developing products to solve women’s health challenges with bespoke support through expert-led workshops and mentoring. It will support them to develop their product offering, understand the challenges in the women’s health space, grow entrepreneurship skills and engage with key stakeholders across the NHS and academic landscape. The programme will be delivered in a hybrid format, with two days of face-to-face workshops in London in September and Leeds in October, and a showcase in London in November, supplemented by online support, workshops and coaching. The programme will also support the companies to apply to the Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst call in November 2023, to demonstrate their commercial and technical feasibility. Innovators interested in the programme can find out more and register their interest here.


Notes to editors

  • Interviews and further information

For more information, including interviews, statements and images, please contact Megan Truman, Communications Manager for the Health Innovation Network on

  • Accelerating FemTech

Accelerating FemTech is a new initiative which will support innovators to boost the development of technology solutions to address current challenges in women’s health. Accelerating FemTech has been made possible through Innovate UK funding as part of the Biomedical Catalyst. The programme is being delivered by the Health Innovation Network and partners, including: Academic Health Science Networks, CW+, Mills & Reeves and others. It builds upon the experience of running the award-winning DigitalHealth.London, Propel, and other innovator support programmes from the AHSNs.

  • Health Innovation Network

Health Innovation Network is the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) for south London, one of 15 AHSNs across England. As the only bodies that connect NHS and academic organisations, local authorities, the third sector and industry, we are uniquely placed to increase the spread and adoption of innovation across large populations, at pace and scale. The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is part of our enhanced offer to support economic growth as funded by the Office of Life Sciences. For more information, please visit

  • The Academic Health Science Networks (AHSN)

The AHSN Network, comprising the 15 academic health science networks (AHSNs) across England, exists to transform the way the NHS identifies, adopts, and spreads innovation. Our regional AHSNs work closely with businesses and individual innovators to help realise the potential of their ideas. The unique role of the AHSNs means we bridge the gap between the NHS and industry, bringing the very best innovative solutions to the NHS and helping to create economic growth by harnessing the NHS investment. Our commission from the Government’s Office for Life Sciences (OLS) enables us to do this in a structured and methodical way, answering the needs of the health and care system and of innovators with ideas that match system challenges. Programmes like the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator form part of the distinctive offer of the Health Innovation Network. For more information, please see

  • Innovate UK

Innovate UK is creating a better future by inspiring, involving and investing in businesses developing life-changing innovations.

We provide targeted sectors with expertise, facilities and funding to test, demonstrate and evolve their ideas, driving UK productivity and economic growth. Join our network and communities of innovators to realise the potential of your ideas and accelerate business growth. For more information, please see:

  • London

Since 2016, DigitalHealth.London has been focusing on accelerating the adoption of digital innovation by linking health and care organisations with digital health innovators for the benefit of patients and populations. It accelerates the adoption of digital innovations across health and care to improve patient and population outcomes and experience and supports a sustainable future NHS. DigitalHealth.London is delivered by Health Innovation Network with the support of partners globally.

In addition, CW+, the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital charity, is a partner in the delivery of DigitalHealth.London Accelerator, Launchpad and Evidence Generation Bootcamp programmes. For more information, please see

  • CW Innovation

CW Innovation is the flagship innovation programme run jointly by CW+ and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. CW+ is the official charity of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Supporters and partners enable the charity to: invest in the CW Innovation programme to identify and implement high-impact innovation initiatives and new digital solutions that address some of the real-time challenges that healthcare organisations face today; build and enhance clinical facilities to create an outstanding healing environment for patients and staff; and deliver a unique art and design programme to transform the experience and wellbeing of our patients. For more information, please visit

  • Mills & Reeve

Mills & Reeve is centred on achieving more for clients, their businesses and the wider communities we serve.

Our clients and their industries benefit from our knowledge and learning – on everything from wellbeing, diversity and inclusion to global trends. The wider community benefits from a focus on sustainability in client and business decisions.

Clients get a consistent experience with no surprises – we tell them what they need to know, when they need to know it. Our sector and market expertise (including health and care, technology and life sciences) helps us understand clients’ issues. And our technology and innovations help them achieve more with less effort.

We build personal relationships, with advice individually tailored to individual need. And if clients need things we don’t offer, we draw on our network to give recommendations.

Our 1,000 plus people and over 500 lawyers share one vision – achieving more for clients

For further information please visit the website at


  • The Academic Health Science Network for North East and North Cumbria

The Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria supports the health and care system to accelerate innovation which improves people’s health and the regional economy.

We work closely with the NENC ICS and our Member Organisations, including the NHS Trusts and Universities, across the NENC to help them identify, evaluate, adopt and disseminate transformative innovation. We work a lot with industry too, as a source of innovation and also to help industry access the expertise within the NHS that is so crucial to the development, testing and deployment of products and services that are the basis of the UK’s Life Sciences sector.

  • Kent Surry Sussex (KSS) AHSN

Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS) Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) is one of the 15 AHSNs across England, established by NHS England in 2013 to improve health and generate economic growth by spreading innovation at pace and scale.

We connect citizens, NHS and academic organisations, local authorities, the third sector and industry to facilitate change across whole health and social care economies, with a clear focus on improving outcomes for patients. We are uniquely placed to identify and spread health innovation at pace and scale; driving the adoption and spread of innovative ideas and technologies across large populations. Visit or follow us on Twitter @KSSAHSN.

  • Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network (Yorkshire & Humber AHSN)

Yorkshire & Humber AHSN is one of 15 AHSNs set up by NHS England to operate as the innovation arm of the NHS.

Across the country AHSNs act as a bridge between health care providers, commissioners, academia and industry. By connecting these sectors, we help to build a pipeline of solutions for the NHS from research and product development through to implementation and commercialisation.

Locally we work in partnership with our regional health and care community and develop projects, programmes and initiatives that reflect the diversity and meet the needs of our local populations’ health care challenges.


Twitter: @YHAHSN

LinkedIn: yorkshire-and-humber-academic-health-science-network

  • Propel@YH

Propel@YH is Yorkshire & Humber AHSN’s digital health accelerator programme. Now with a four-year track record behind it, Propel@YH helps organisations from across the UK and around the world to bring their innovative digital health solutions to the region's patients and the wider health economy. 

Recognising that the sales cycle within healthcare can be challenging and often lengthy, Propel@YH provides a structured programme of support and advice that enables HealthTech innovators to accelerate their growth and market presence. The accelerator provides a unique and tailored set of masterclasses, guidance and support services in conjunction with its partners at Barclays Eagle Labs, Nexus, Hill Dickinson, Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership.

In 2022 Propel@YH ran its first ‘Boot Camp’ for US innovator companies. This week-long crash course was designed to help them understand the NHS marketplace and provide them with the contacts and conditions they needed to establish their UK headquarters in the region. Three of the five companies have subsequently done just that and in 2023 further Boot Camps with Nordic, Canadian and Indian innovators are being organised. 


Twitter: @PropelYH

LinkedIn: propel-yh 

  • West of England AHSN

The West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) brings all the key players innovating in health and care in our region together, in order to support healthcare innovation. We exist to improve the health of the local population in the West of England and increase the wealth within our regional economy.

We work closely with our three Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) – Healthier Together Partnership (Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire), BSW Together (Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire) and One Gloucestershire, as well as our member organisations which includes all the NHS providers and commissioners in the West of England and the universities of Bath, Bristol and the West of England. We also work in close partnership with research organisations, industry, the voluntary sector, patients, carers and the public.

  • South West Academic Health Science Network

The South West Academic Health Science Network is one of 15 AHSNs across England. We exist in partnership with our local health and care system, local authorities, universities, life science, and voluntary, community and social enterprises, to transform the way the NHS identifies, adopts and spreads promising innovations, to improve health equity and the health of people living across the South West region. We develop the innovation pipeline in the South West, matching the promising ideas of innovators to local challenges in health and care, and helping them to implement their solutions to improve the NHS and care system. Find out more on our website

  • East Midlands Academic Health Science Network

The East Midlands Academic Health Science Network (EMAHSN) is one of 15 Academic Health Science Networks in England. EMAHSN brings together the NHS, universities, industry and social care to transform the health of the region’s 4.9m residents and stimulate economic growth.

Working with patients as equal partners to improve chronic pain management

Natasha Callender, Senior Project Manager and Medicines Workstream Lead at the HIN, writes about how we are using co-design to expand our work to improve chronic pain management and reduce harm from opioids.

Improving chronic pain management by reducing harm from opioids is a priority for the NHS. That is why in October 2022 we launched a Quality Improvement Collaborative, in response to the NHS England Medication Safety Improvement Programme (MedSIP) workstream. The Collaborative is helping to reduce harm from opioids by speeding up the adoption of innovative harm prevention initiatives and improving care of people living with chronic pain across south London. By providing participants with expert clinical advice and QI support, we are helping them to become Opioid Stewards within their practice, Primary Care Network or Trust.

In October 2022, the HIN’s Ayo Chike-Michael, Senior Project Manager in Patient Safety and Experience, wrote about the Collaborative in more detail, including the complexity of pain management and the need to enable patients as key partners. We are now taking this one step further with a chronic pain experience-based co-design (EBCD) project with patients and clinicians across south London.

Clinicians who work with people living with chronic pain know that the best way for them to reach their goals is for clinician and patient to work in true partnership. A person with pain is the expert on their life, what is important for them, how pain affects these and what types of treatments and solutions suits them best. It’s also the most rewarding way to enable people to most effectively manage their pain.

- Natasha Curran, Medical Director at the Health Innovation Network and Consultant in Pain Medicine, University College London Hospitals

NHS England's statutory guidance for working in partnership with people and communities states that people with ‘lived experience’ are often best placed to advise on what support and services will make a positive difference to their lives. This is particularly true for patients living with long-term conditions that require a multifaceted approach to managing conditions such as chronic pain. You can find out more about the HIN’s commitment to involving people with lived experience in our Involvement Strategy.

Our new EBCD project aims to make the most out of chronic pain management improvement activities and ensure that services are responsive to patients’ wishes. The project will involve up to 10 people with lived experience of chronic pain and up to 10 health and care professionals. Participants will be able to take part through a range of online and in-person methods, including one-to-one interviews, feedback events and group co-design sessions. We will use small working groups who will be guided by professionals such as GPs, pharmacists and physiotherapists.

Experience-based co-design (EBCD) involves patients and staff working together throughout a project, so we can focus on what it is most important to improve services. I have found it to be an inspiring and energising approach to tackling complex challenges in the NHS.

- Catherine Dale, Programme Director for Insights and Patient Safety and Trustee for The Point of Care Foundation

Through this project we aim to identify areas for service improvement based on first-hand, real-life experiences of day-to-day pain management. This will help to inform what new services and care pathways could be established, together in partnership. This will feed into the National Patient Safety Improvement Programme (NatPatSIP)’s priority of enhancing chronic pain management. We hope that clinicians and patients will work together to make small yet meaningful improvements to existing care.

You can see the timeline for this project below. There are a range of opportunities for both patients and staff to feed in. If you are interested please contact Natasha Callender.

At the HIN we aspire to be partners with people as we believe that, by sharing their insights and knowledge, people with lived experience of health and social care services can help us to improve health and social care. Involvement of people with lived experience helps us focus on the needs of service users whilst also addressing inequalities and ensuring better outcomes.
– Sophie Lowry, Implementation and Involvement Manager at the Health Innovation Network




Project interviews

Weeks starting 6 and 16 February 2023 (virtual/online)

Staff feedback event

Wednesday 15 March 2023 (virtual/online)

2 - 4.30pm

Patient feedback event

Thursday 23 March 2023 (virtual/online)

2 - 5.30pm

Joint patient-staff feedback event

Thursday 30 March 2023 (in person/face to face)

2 - 4.30pm

Group co-design sessions

Tuesday 25 April 2023 (virtual/online)

2 - 4.30pm


Tuesday 16 May 2023 (virtual/online)

2 - 4.30pm


Tuesday 6 June 2023 (virtual/online)

2 - 4.30pm


Tuesday 27 June 2023 (virtual/online)

2 - 4.30pm

Celebration event

Thursday 13 July 2023 (Time and venue to be confirmed)

This project is featured in our Annual Report 2022/23.

Find out more

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

Get in touch

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


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.


  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.


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

UCL Partners – North Central North East London

Paulina Sporek | Maternity Improvement Advisor

Imperial College Health Partners – North West London

Omid Nivi | Senior Innovation Manager

Sarah Stephens | Senior Innovation Adviser

Meet the innovator: Antoine Lever

Post Title

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

Post Title

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.