Pictured above: Matt Elcock of Push Doctor
Tell us about your innovation in a sentence.
Push Doctor provides clinicians with the technology to enable patients to access primary and secondary care digitally through the NHS across the UK.
What was the ‘lightbulb’ moment?
There were two. The idea was created when Uber was scaling, and Push Doctor was born to provide quick, speedy, private access to digital primary care in 2013. At the time, there was typically a 2 or more week wait for an appointment, so Push Doctor set out to help solve this problem digitally. Then in 2018, the second moment was the widespread willingness to adopt this approach to primary care within the NHS and the launch of the NHS 10 year plan. That is when we focussed to deliver the product free via NHS through partners in General Practice.
What three bits of advice would you give budding innovators?
- It’s your passion and vision which will serve you throughout, ensure that this is clear, long-term, and meaningful.
- Think iteratively about the journey, markets change in steps. To achieve your vision may take 2 or 10+ changes within the market. Work through them systematically.
- Bring the right people on your journey, who share your passion. This will be the difference between success and failure.
What’s been your toughest obstacle?
Acceptance. Push Doctor was the first to launch our service within the UK, we were a CQC test-case for regulation. We have worked hard with the regulator to ensure the service can be offered in a safe and effective manner. When we launched the platform, it was far from certain if this could / would be adopted for the future. I’m glad to say that we have demonstrated how it can work at scale and now is widely adopted across the UK.
What’s been your innovator journey highlight?
For us, saving lives. Push Doctor has been responsible for saving the lives of numerous patients who were struggling to get care in a timely fashion and those patients who were very sick (for example with Sepsis). Having access to a doctor in minutes picked up the red flags quickly and we have coordinated an expedited pathway into A&E because of this. This fact is the most rewarding aspect that any innovator could wish for.
Best part of your job now?
The best part of my role now is working with partners and our internal teams on how we can evolve our support to the NHS. There are so many opportunities where digital health can deliver real benefits to our NHS. In 2013, we had the vision that video consultations would become mainstream for primary care and now we see that digital health will offer benefits to doctors, patients and commissioners and solve so many of the current challenges faced. Our approach to these challenges is once again, unique.
If you were in charge of the NHS and care system, what’s the one thing you’d do to speed up health innovation?
This is simple; I would provide direct funding to innovators who have evidence to back the benefits. Proving out the effectiveness of an innovation is the first challenge, getting funding for it afterwards is often very difficult too. I think digital breaks down borders and delivers maximum benefit at scale, but this can sometimes be at odds with how funding streams work and limits the benefit digital can provide.
A typical day for you would include..
My days are quite varied but usually involves me being out meeting our partners within the NHS and working with the Push Doctor leadership team on our approach, product and funding.
Where can we find you?