Meet the innovator: Meera RadiaJuly 15, 2022
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?
- 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
- 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’
- 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.