NHS hospitals do an extraordinary job of caring for patients with the available tools, but the technology in the other industries has improved by quite a few folds. The reality is that in 2019 you can book a flight, hotel and your entire vacation online, but a hospital appointment can take 5-6 letters and a potential waiting period of around 3 months. This can result in a negative patient experience and distance patients from their own care. A London-based company named DrDoctor stepped in with a mission to create a platform which catalyzes technology led change in hospitals and healthcare systems. Its cloud based patient management tools automate and virtualize processes and care, so that Doctors can focus on their patients, and patients can engage as true partners in their care. The organization’s vision is to provide all the care based on the needs of the patient and his/her condition.
Uniquely, DrDoctor is not backed by any venture capital. It has grown organically, by focusing on its customers, and doing a great job of delivering for them. It has a really strong focus on delivery, with an in house transformation team who it deploys as part of DrDoctor’s managed service to make sure all their partners get maximum value from the platform.
The organization works with its partners to really understand the problems faced by their staff, and delivers technology which helps them in their day to day activities, and automates their routine tasks. This enables its partners to focus on using their hard-earned skills to care for patients.
Connecting Hospitals and Patients
DrDoctor has built a platform that connects hospitals and patients. The organization calls this the Patient Layer, and it underpins everything it does. By enabling real time communication one can allow all sorts of exciting, more efficient, and more patient centric ways of working. DrDoctor often starts with relatively simple but impactful rollouts, like filling all the empty slots in clinics, and slowly bringing on board more advanced functionality, using its algorithms to automate care so patients can get a better experience.
A Company That Focuses on Listening to Patients
Tom Whicher, the Founder of DrDoctor believed the answer to innovation in healthcare was to focus on listening to patients and the teams in hospitals, and build something that really helped them. It was because of this, the first version of DrDoctor was based on onboarding patients via SMS – according to patients this was their favored way to get information. The organization has stayed true to this, keeping as close to the coalface as it can, to make sure what DrDoctor builds really delivers for the users.
According to Tom, in order to succeed in healthcare one needs a unique combination of skills. It’s an area where process and people combine, so one needs to understand both, along with lots of patience, tenacity, and most of all kindness.
Tackling Uneven Roads
According to DrDoctor, developing new technology has become so much easier in the last five years. Cloud providers have commoditized everything, starting from hosting to AI, which eventually means the barriers to getting started are as low as they’ve ever been. However, in healthcare industry things are still a little different. Data security is helping rightly to reach another level of rigour, and there is lots of red tape associated with working in healthcare. However, DrDoctor will hold itself to the highest level on this, because it has a moral as well as legal obligation to its patient users.
Tom spends a fair amount of his time working with other innovators, through the National Innovation Accelerator (NIA), and mentoring new start-ups, to help them shortcut some of the learning DrDoctor has made. This is vital, as no company will change healthcare on its own – it needs a vibrant ecosystem of innovators working together.
Bringing on the Digital Health Revolution
Tom believes that DrDoctor is in the initial stage of the digital health revolution. Its platform can transform care in every hospital in the UK, and the international opportunities are huge. Ideally the leaders would like to see the organization working with others to provide cross provider care, and bring on board social care too, in order to provide truly integrated services to patients.
“The best software implementation I’ve been involved with in 30 years.” – Cynthia Henderson, Head of Health Records.
“Not one clinic has gone by without half the people saying how useful they found this.” – Consultant Endocrinologist, Aneurin Bevan Health Board.
“Finally the NHS using tech to improve user experience.”- Becky (Patient) Guys & St Thomas’ Hospital