An interview with On The Mend Adviser, Martin Rennison
Updated: Oct 22
We managed to grab a few minutes in the busy day of On The Mend adviser Martin Rennison, Commercial Director with Spire Healthcare, who runs us through his diverse career, his take on how health tech works in partnership with the healthcare industry and how On The Mend is positioned to make real impact.
OTM: Hi Martin, how’s your day been going?
MR: Well, it started on Zoom at 07:15 and I’ve been dotting between some fairly challenging meetings ever since, including with my Spire colleagues, the NHS and UK’s Ministry of Defence. I’ve had two face-to-face meetings as well, which I tend to enjoy far much more.
OTM: Can you start by explaining a bit about the path your career has taken you?
MR: I’ve had a career of two halves. The first half was 20 years as a sports physiotherapist, working in various part of the world, including the UK, Canada and New Zealand, specialising in sports medicine, working in elite sports, the Scottish national rugby team and the Commonwealth Games. I’ve had an enjoyable, and I would like to say successful, career as a clinician, but I decided that I didn’t want to do that forever. So I relocated in the past 17 years into commercial healthcare management, predominantly in the private sector. So ‘Phase 2’ of my career has really been about doing ‘macro’ health rather than as a day-to-day clinician. It’s allowed me to do the most interesting things in the most vibrant space, which is the healthcare industry.
OTM: Which of those two halves of your career would you say has been more challenging?
MR: They are all challenging! Being a healthcare professional, trying to work with the public or elite sports professionals, is challenging on a 1-2-1 personal level as well as the need to be very up-to-date with the latest technical insights, which is critical to being successful. Working in the executive commercial side is equally challenging as dealing with the macro bit also comes down to having strong interpersonal skills. So you could say that working as both a clinician and executive leader uses the same skills in a different way.
OTM: What made you want to get involved as an adviser to On The Mend?
MR: It was easy as it ticked both of my boxes. Both my clinical and executive leadership hats were struck by what On The Mend was trying do. By trying to improve things at scale, such as the patient experience, it was easy for me to see the opportunity for, and in, On The Mend, so it was attractive for me to want to help.
OTM: Do you see health tech startups more as competitors or partners to established healthcare industry players?
MR: I think they are both. I think they are competitors in that they are changing the face of healthcare; they are a change agent and an accelerator of change, which brings a competitive element. However, the best solutions are partnership-focussed. It’s a partnership opportunity to evolve ideas at pace, which adds value to some of the more traditional players. They are a catalyst, challenge and disruptor, which are all potentially beneficial, and I believe the capable providers will work alongside them in partnership.
OTM: How has Covid-19 changed your view of the adoption of technology within healthcare systems?
MR: It has changed our view as its told us we can be quick to change if we put or minds to it; we can adapt and accommodate to change more than we thought we could do. There are lots of examples in my world that have shown the successful adoption of technology and where confidence has been improved. There has never been a more pressing time with the pressures on waiting lists and the need to improve the value proposition, but the ability to change has been proven to be there.
OTM: How will the healthcare industry need to adapt to the structural challenges like an ageing demographic and how can health tech help to address it?
MR: We have to make healthcare more accessible and we have to make it more affordable. Because of the ageing population, people’s bodies will naturally wear out so the need for rehab will grow as well as the need to stay healthy for longer. From my understanding, health tech can start to address may of those things, being accessible in a cost-efficient way, being personal and adapting to individual needs and needs to work with self-help healthcare.
OTM: What do you see as the biggest priority for On The Mend right now?
MR: On The Mend is in a unique opportunity to prove its concept with well-constructed pilots and then to work with selected partners to get its application into user’s hands, supporting healthcare pathways. The NHS and private sector has a growing need and the public is engaging with self-care, which provide the best opportunities for On The Mend.
OTM: What is the biggest long-term opportunity for On The Mend?
MR: The biggest one is to stay simple and stick to its values but make itself available as broadly as possible across the UK, Europe or more internationally. This is because the underlying concept can be adapted to any rehab or healthcare context; in the same way that Apple stayed simple but with multiple applications. Keep it simple and accessible and adapt to different application points.
OTM: How do you see your role at On The Mend evolving as the business develops further?
MR: I would like to think I can bring three things as advisory support. The first is general help to navigate private and public healthcare systems. Secondly, identifying commercial opportunities to get the business to a strong financial position. And thirdly, having worked in a PLC multinational group, I can help develop the governance and how the organisation develops in a way that is still agile but safe and effective for our shareholders.
OTM: What has surprised you the most by working with the team at On The Mend?
MR: The ability for a multidisciplined team to achieve so much by working together to get to a well-formed proposition, accredited by ISO, is a fantastic achievement by the team.
Thanks to Martin for sharing such unique insights from both the clinical and commercial worlds. If you would like to find how On The Mend can help bring digital transformation to your organisation then please don't hesitate to get in touch with our team.
Have a great day!