Health 2.0 Success: Exclusive Interview with uMotif Co-Founder, Bruce Hellman

Written By: ZPB Associates

Since appearing at the Health 2.0 Europe conference in London in 2013, uMotif has enjoyed large-scale deployment into the NHS in England. We caught up with the company’s Co-Founder Bruce Hellman, to find out more.

Your deployment into the NHS came about after meeting a consultant from a hospital in the southeast. Can you tell us how it happened? 

I saw him speaking at one of the event sessions and could see he would be open to the type of thing we’re doing. I waited until one of the coffee breaks afterwards to speak to him and was able to introduce the company and our app. He really got what it’s about and so we were invited to meet his team, who got it too, and so since then we’ve been working with them closely to slowly work toward deployment stage.

Getting there takes a lot longer than you realise and the procurement stage means a lot of work from your side, but introducing new tech products into the NHS isn’t easy. Being able to speak to other people going through those same challenges is another benefit of being at events like these.

You say it takes time to reach the deployment stage, so what else has uMotif been up to since last year’s event?  

Well since Health 2.0 2013, we’ve won an award that included partnering up with a marketing firm; we’ve launched our app on the Apple Store and Google Play, configured it to work with even more patient groups and are currently preparing for a special launch in September.

How are technologies like yours transforming patient care, and the delivery of service for clinicians?

Any technology is best when it focuses on human behavior; it’s a principle that’s millennia old. That’s why we have focused our technology on enhancing human relationships.

We wanted to improve the relationship between patient and clinician and ensure that for the first time clinicians have data that helps them make not just better decisions, but shared decisions.

Our technology delivers self-management and empowerment in a way that’s easy to consume, improving medication adherence, patient experience, patient education, post-op care and reducing emergency readmission.

What have your deployments into the NHS taught you and has it led to any further development in your product?

The main thing we’ve learnt is how ready people are for technology. There was a fallacy that people weren’t ready, but we’ve met a huge number of stakeholders who want to use this technology.

Patients have told us that using it doesn’t just help them in crucial areas like remembering to take their medication, but it also gives them more to talk about with their clinicians when they meet. The clinicians have been equally positive as they can quickly see the benefits it offers.

In terms of development, we knew what features our platform needed through our testing and building prototypes, but we are constantly learning. In a year’s time we’ll still be listening to our customers and adjusting – every interaction we have helps us improve and realise where else we can deploy it.

You began by focusing on helping patients with Parkinson’s disease and diabetes. What feedback and progress have you been able to make since doing so and have you since been able to develop your service offering?

We started on a small scale last year, with huge recorded daily use rates and small indications in condition improvement. We’re now undergoing a rigorous assessment for Parkinson’s sufferers with a large randomised trial in seven NHS centres. We’ve also had ethics approval and can now be adopted by the Clinical Research Network.

We’ve also expanded the scope of conditions we can help. As well as Parkinson’s and diabetes, we now cover conditions such as rheumatology, renal failure, oncology and heart failure. The feedback we’ve been getting from organisations representing these conditions have been great too. We got an email the other day from the Head of Digital for Parkinson’s UK saying what a great app he thinks it is.

What have you learnt from your experience at Health 2.0 Europe?

We were involved early on with Health 2.0. Their meet-up groups are great for contacts, feedback and meeting new people. It’s a great place for innovation. It’s where you can meet people to collaborate with and it brings everything happening in the industry together under one roof. It was meeting the clinician there that got us started – the advantage being he was already engaged with the possibilities of technology and so it was an easy sell.

Web 2.0 was about acknowledging people being part of the relationship – Health 2.0 is about recognising the problems the industry faces then pointing clinicians toward ways they can work better and smarter.

What would you like to see at future events?

The benefit of speaking to clinicians who come to the event is that they are already engaged with the possibility of new technology and so are open to working with companies like us. The next step would be for those yet to engage to see the possibilities of events like this so we can convince them too. The more patient groups and big IT health companies who see the possibility of technologies like ours the better.

What challenges do tech companies like uMotif face in convincing NHS bodies to explore new technologies?

Scalability. It’s one thing to get 15 deployments, but how do you then take that to 50, then 150 when there are still so many questions being asked around governance, data protection and procurement?

How do you see the relationship between mobile technology and patient care in the future? What barriers need to be overcome before this can happen?

In the future apps will be used as often as antibiotics in healthcare. You don’t bank anymore without assuming there will be an online option, it’s the same with shopping and communication. In health people don’t makes the same assumptions, but it will happen. People will see that their healthcare can be personalised to them, and be used where they need it.

The effect will be that it frees up time in the service – which means the system is more cost effective and outcomes are improved. Mobile integration will come first, then the web. What’s great is that the technology is available now. We can get customers up and running straight away. They don’t have to wait, we can do it now and focus on its purpose of helping, based on people and relationships. Technology opens so many doors now – it’s part of so much of our lives, why not your health?

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