Meet the innovator: Vivek Patni

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Meet the Innovator

In this series we’ll get up close and personal with an innovator asking them to share their thoughts and experience from their journey into the world of health and care innovation. In our latest edition, we spoke to Vivek Patni, Director and Co-Founder of WeMa Life; an online marketplace that brings customers and their families together with social care and community care service providers.

Pictured above: Vivek Patni.

Tell us about your innovation in a sentence

WeMa Life is an online marketplace that brings customers and their families together with social care and community care service providers; giving choice, accessibility and efficiency in the service procurement and delivery pathway.

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

As an informal carer for my grandfather, I was immediately shocked by the lack of innovation in supporting families to find, coordinate and manage local care services for their loved one, hence WeMa Life was born. I find online marketplaces very convenient and use them for so many aspects of my life – products, clothes, hotels, restaurants – I knew a similar digital environment was needed for care services. Using WeMa Life as a customer I can search, compare, purchase and rate local care services whilst as a provider I can digitise the outdated, manual, paper-based visit records and manage my daily business activity.

What three bits of advice would you give budding innovators?

    1. Stay flexible: it’s tempting to start a business with a clear idea of how things will unfold; but this is rarely the case. Pivot and react to obstacles and have an open approach to finding the best solutions to all your problems.
    2. User experience: test your product constantly and get as much feedback as you can from all your user groups. Simple solutions sit very well in such a diverse industry.
    3. Be creative in your approach to developing tech and running your business. There are so many applications and tools to create efficiency and cost saving in finding resources, marketing and development, so use them!

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

Where I had faced the difficulty from a customer side of social care, I was less aware of the complexity in delivering publicly funded social and community care to different user groups. This meant learning the nuances of each service type/provider and creating a fluid product that would fit all.

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

Designing the tech architecture from scratch, building an international technology development team and bringing my ideas to life in just eight months is something I am very proud of.

Best part of your job now?

Taking my product into the market! Now that the product is live, I am driving its use through digital marketing and sales. I meet so many interesting people on a daily basis who bring exciting new ideas to what we do – my mental technology roadmap is never ending.

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 give more opportunity and financial incentives to SME’s. There are a huge number of SME’s with great ideas and technology, they tend to be more fluid, interoperable and customisable to the needs of the NHS; they would be able to make a real change to the daily lives of providers and customers.

A typical day for you would include..

Typically, my days are devoted to technology and selling. My morning tends to be engagement with my India tech team to make sure we are always refining and innovating our solution. Afternoons will be selling, calling and meeting as many people as I can. I get energised by talking to people about what we do so I try to do that as much as possible.

For more information on WeMa Life visit www.wemalife.com or follow them on Twitter @wemalife

Meet the Innovator

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Meet the Innovator

Each issue we’ll get up close and personal with an innovator asking them to share their thoughts and experience from their journey into the world of health and care innovation. In our latest edition, we spoke to Dr Sukhbinder Noorpuri, Founder and CEO of i-GP, an online consultation platform to allow patients faster access to primary care for minor illnesses.

Pictured above L-R: Dr Sukhbinder Noorpuri with Co-Founder, Dr Aleesha Dhillon.

Tell us about your innovation in a sentence

i-GP provides digital consultations for minor illnesses, using interactive pictures and online questions. It is accessible to patients 24/7 from any device, and 90% of users can start their treatment within just one hour.

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

When I was working as a GP, I met Michael, a 70 year old gentleman who waited three hours to see me at a walk in centre back in 2015. I thought that there must be an easier way to access healthcare. So I started looking into alternatives, and when I found none, I decided to go about creating one. I have been fortunate enough to have a great Co-Founder in Aleesha who has been instrumental in developing creative solutions to all the challenges that we have encountered.

What three bits of advice would you give budding innovators?

  • Have a vision and make it a big one – set your goals globally rather than just locally in the spirit of true disruption.
  • Be relentless in the pursuit of this vision and always try and learn from every experience or opportunity which comes your way – know your market, keep reading about it and stay focused.
  • Build a world class team and inspire them to believe in the company mission. Be confident in your leadership and enjoy the process. A successful entrepreneur may build a well respected company, but a successful team will change the world.

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

Healthcare innovation is very challenging because impact takes time to achieve. However, your clinical experience is really the key differentiator in the marketplace. If you genuinely feel you have a clear perspective on the problem and have created the solution then building the evidence for your product, despite being time consuming, is the clearest way to show its potential.

Some regard regulation as being a tough element of service delivery, but embrace the challenge as a well executed process is the reason you will stand out in the industry.

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

Over the last three years, we have won or been shortlisted for 22 healthcare awards as a result of the innovations we have developed in digital care. This has led us to international recognition and the opportunity to showcase i-GP at Conferences all over the world.

Learning to adapt and raise healthcare standards has been a reflection of the dedicated team approach to the venture. However, this recognition is secondary to the feedback we receive from our patients as this is our main driving force. Impacting the patient journey to care on a daily basis  is the motivation and inspiration to transform traditional routes of service. For example last week, we treated a patient who was due to catch a flight abroad for her sister’s wedding but was suffering with a urinary tract infection. It was late at night, she was in a rush and her chosen pharmacy was closed. We managed to arrange her prescription at the chemist within the airport just before she was due to take off. When she returned she was so thankful that her trip hadn’t been ruined by illness and she had been well enough to enjoy the celebrations.

Best part of your job now?

Without a doubt, my greatest fulfilment comes from leading our team. We are all passionate about seizing this opportunity in time to showcase the good that technology can bring to healthcare and the NHS. Digital health is still very much in its early stage of adoption and even though smartphones have been commonplace for several years, we are still on the cusp of widespread digital use. The service that we implement today, we hope, will continue for many years to come.

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 has been a real drive recently with Rt Hon. Matthew Hancock advocating technology to modernise the NHS. Accompanying this, are the additional Government funds being made available to trial new products. This combination offers a paradigm shift from previous regimes and as innovators, we are very much looking forward to this filtering down to provide new opportunities. I also feel it is imperative that decision makers utilise patient feedback to help determine the future course and not just rely on industry advisers.

A typical day for you would include..

Most days are very varied due to the wide scope of avenues we are exploring at i-GP. I usually like to hold key meetings in the morning with either members of the team or board to review processes and define our future strategy.

We have a schedule over the week to assign time to all the key aspects of service from marketing to patient outcomes and from technology developments to the financial structure we have adopted. Reflection is part of this process and the opportunity to network with other innovators is often on the timetable to ascertain the potential for collaboration.

Liasing with the Accelerator team and our navigator Sara is also a key part of our time as we look to integrate further into the NHS.

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Dr Sukhbinder Noorpuri who recently won the Chairman’s Entrepreneur Award (pictured above) at the TiE Awards Wednesday 5 December. Find out more about the awards here

For more information on i-GP visit i-gp.co.uk or follow them on Twitter @wellness_igp_uk

Meet the Innovator

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Meet the Innovator

Each issue we’ll get up close and personal with an innovator asking them to share their thoughts and experience from their journey into the world of health and care innovation. In our latest edition, we spoke to Dr Nicholas Andreou, Co-Founder of Locums Nest, a staff bank management app; connecting healthcare professionals to temporary work.

Pictured above r-l: Dr Nicholas Andreou with fellow Co-Founder of Locums Nest, Ahmed Shahrabanian.

Tell us about your innovation in a sentence

Locums Nest bridges the gap between hospitals and doctors. Making staff vacancies easier and simpler to fill, without the expensive agency middle man.

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

Working as junior doctors in the NHS and experiencing first-hand the frustrations and inefficiencies of filling gaps in the rota.

What three bits of advice would you give budding innovators?

  • Be tenacious- don’t take no for an answer, have thick skin
  • Hire people with purpose who believe in your message
  • Be kind to everyone you meet.

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

Trying to positively change an established institution, with large long-standing incumbents. Challenging the status quo.

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

With our help, a Trust managed to staff a winter pressures ward without going to an agency. This meant they saved £1.6m in the first 10 months.

Best part of your job now?

Meeting different people in different environments; realising the NHS is enriched with experience and expertise from a vast range of backgrounds.

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

Open up the barriers to meeting the right people in the system to support innovation.

A typical day for you would include..

There’s no such thing! One day I could be travelling across the country for meetings, in the office for a full day product meeting or spending the day supporting our NHS clients.

Contact us

W: locumsnest.co.uk

T: @locumsnest

Meet the Innovator

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Meet the Innovator

In our latest edition, we spoke to Mike Hurley, creator of ESCAPE-pain – a rehabilitation programme for people with chronic joint pain. Mike is currently a Professor of Rehabilitation Sciences at St George’s University of London & Kingston University as well as Clinical Director for the Musculoskeletal theme at Health Innovation Network.

Tell us about your innovation in a sentence

ESCAPE-pain “does exactly what is says on the tin”, it’s a rehabilitation programme for older people with chronic knee or hip pain (often called osteoarthritis) that helps participants understand why they have pain, what they can do to help themselves cope with it, and guides them through an exercise programme that helps them realise the benefits that can be attained from being more physically active.

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

Not sure it was a lightbulb moment, it was more like one of the low energy lights slowly coming on! But there were two turning points that have led to ESCAPE-pain.

The first was realising the impact of pain on people’s everyday physical and psychosocial function was as important to them as the sensation of pain itself, and that addressing these impacts is as important as minimising pain.

The second was realising the importance muscle plays in causing joint pain and joint damage. We used to think joint pain was caused by damage to joints that resulted in pain, this stopped people doing their regular activities, which caused muscle weakness and makes the joint susceptible to further damage. However, we highlighted muscles are very important for protecting our joints from abnormal movement and suggested impaired muscle function that occurs as we get older may initiate joint damage. Thus, muscle is a cause rather than simply a consequence of joint damage. If that’s true then maintaining well-conditioned muscles through exercise-based rehabilitation programmes, we might prevent or reduce joint pain and damage, and improve people’s quality of life.

Coupling the first light bulb moment – addressing the psychosocial impact of pain – with the second light bulb moment – experience and understanding of the value of exercise – gives us ESCAPE-pain.

What three bits of advice would you give budding innovators?

  1. Prove your innovation works – if people aren’t convinced it is useful to them why would they use it?
  2. Surround yourself with a team of clever, hardworking people who believe in you and the innovation.
  3. Keep your eyes on the prize – wide implementation – and be prepared for lots of ups and downs and hard work convincing the multitude of non-believers that your innovation works.

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

Some of the conversations we had with commissioners would have been laughable if they weren’t so depressing. Financial pressures mean people delivering the programme continually want to reduce the number of sessions, but we know doing that reduces its effectiveness. And even though commissioners were often convinced about the need for the programme and wanted to do the right thing, the requirement to focus on short term benefits meant that anything taking more than a year to show benefits, whether health or cost, was of little interest. Many felt unable to invest in services where the benefits are felt by other parts of the health system, for example taking the pressure off primary care. Often commissioners could hear the madness of what they were saying even as they articulated it, but that didn’t change anything. It was tough and these issues really do slow the spread of innovation.

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

Getting the unwavering backing of the HIN. In late 2012, I was about to give up on getting ESCAPE-pain adopted clinically, because there were no channels for innovative healthcare interventions to spread across the NHS and beyond. Then I answered an email enquiring about local MSK research in south London from its newly founded Academic Health Science Network, met with the Managing Director and frankly my professional life took a new, exciting and very fulfilling turn for the better.

Best part of your job now?

There are two:

Working with the MSK team is terrific and fun. They work so hard to make it everything work. It’s a privilege to work with such a lovely group of people.

The second great thing is the kick the whole team gets from the positive feedback we get from ESCAPE-pain participants. It never ceases to make me feel very humble and honoured to be able to help people.

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’d start “NICE Innovations”, a body that would screen potential (digital, models of care and service) innovations, pick the most promising, work with innovators and the health systems to find out what works (or not), why (not), and then actively promote and incentivise the health and social care systems to adopt or adapt effective innovations. Its kind of happening at the moment but feels fragmented, so it needs to be brought together to make it more effectual and “given teeth”.

A typical day for you would include..

The great thing about my work is that there is no typical day. I usually wake about six, make a cup of tea and listen to the news on the radio before heading into the new day. That could involve writing papers, grants, presenting at conferences, attending meetings at the HIN or St George’s, lecturing, mentoring students or clinicians, figuring out how to get our MSK work seen and adopted.

Find out more about ESCAPE-pain by visiting the website at www.escape-pain.org or following them on twitter @escape-pain

Contact us

W: chc2dst.com and ieg4.com (main company website).

T: @IEG4

Meet the Innovator

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Meet the Innovator

In our latest edition of Meet the Innovator, we caught up with Simon Williams of CHC2DST, a cloud based digital solution for continuing healthcare assessments. Simon is currently the Healthcare Director at IEG4 Limited.

Tell us about your innovation in a sentence

CHC2DST supports the digital transformation of the Continuing Healthcare (CHC) Assessment process by digitising the forms used in the national framework and automating workflow processes to improve patient service, boost productivity and control CHC care package allocation.

What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?

When we saw that a complex national process relied upon the copying and transmission of reams of paper across multiple stakeholders, it was clear that the process would be impossible to manage effectively and, that, through automation, efficiencies and service quality improvements could be realised.

What three bits of advice would you give budding innovators?

  1. Be sure the challenges you are solving are recognised within the NHS and then be prepared for a long gestation period
  2. Find some NHS body/bodies who become early adopters, with whom you can collaborate to prove the solution within the NHS
  3. Promote your innovation at multiple levels within NHS to gain ‘share of mind’.

What’s been your toughest obstacle?

Despite a direct call to action from Matthew Swindells and Jane Cummings in Summer 2017 to drive up performance against the 28 Day National Standard for decision turnaround, the biggest challenge is engaging with the CCGs who are struggling to run the existing paper-based process. From NHS England Quarterly Situation Reports for CHC, we can see that many London CCGs would benefit from digital transformation of the assessment process. We are keen to talk to the CCGs in South London. An hour invested in watching a webinar would bring the digital transformation benefits to life.

What’s been your innovator journey highlight?

When the alignment of NHS bodies came together effectively under the auspices of the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN to create a focussed, specific event targeted at an audience of CHC practitioners. NHS Strategic Improvement for CHC explained the importance of improving the area to NHS England. Cheshire and Wirral CCGs discussed their CHC transformation journey supported by our technology and through collaborative working with us. The result was a further take up of the innovation and an increased awareness amongst the 20-odd Y&H AHSN CCGs in attendance that an alternative to the status quo was available and proven to work.

Best part of your job now?

When people who are working very hard to manage and execute the existing assessment process see how our solution puts them in control of their workload.  The ‘lightbulbs’ go on during the demo and the feedback we receive is positive . It’s great to know that we are helping to making a contribution to improve ‘our NHS’ in this area.

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

For all service leads, make exploring and championing innovation part of the job description on which they are evaluated. Create a National Innovation Channel which holds approved content which can be accessed by NHS professionals to make it easier to find solutions in use in the NHS.

A typical day for you would include..

Reaching out to NHS stakeholders in AHSNs, CCGs, and NHS Executive Management to highlight CHC2DST’s capabilities to them and share results visible from NHS Quarterly Situation Reports for CHC. The data shows that CHC2DST helps to improve productivity by reducing unnecessary work activities, improves decision turnaround timeframes and improves CHC care package allocation.

IEG4 runs regular webinars to demonstrate CHC2DST to NHS Professionals working within the CHC area, without obligation. If it works for them, we help build stakeholder support and the case for change.

Contact us

W: chc2dst.com and ieg4.com (main company website).

T: @IEG4