An interview with On The Mend Lead Physiotherapist, Nicholas May
Updated: Aug 3, 2021
We sat down with On The Mend’s Lead Physiotherapist Nicholas May and asked him what it’s like to bring tech innovation to the healthcare industry and why he thinks we are the right team to deliver on our vision to transform physical rehab for everyone.
OTM: How do you see On The Mend bringing change to a healthcare system where there is significant bureaucracy and hierarchy?
NM: Affecting change and bringing innovation to a large institution within a major industry where there are established ways of doing things is quite a challenge. This effort is sometimes met with fixed mindsets and resistance to change, so good ideas can often be driven into the ground from the start. However, with my entrepreneur's hat on, I’m inspired by the idea of working with like-minded people from different backgrounds, from finance to commercial, tech and clinical, which means I’m learning from others and hopefully adding value from my own experience.
OTM: How do you see On The Mend’s approach different to other health tech companies?
The crux of the answer is that all too often tech innovations in healthcare are simply focussed on tweaking ways that already exist. While that is okay, true innovation challenges the established ways of working. On The Mend seeks to provide optimal experience for patients; our key point of difference is that we are focussed on the experience of healthcare – not the clinical delivery alone. Patient-centred outcomes and experience are the key drivers of modern-day healthcare, especially in the UK, but also overseas. Our innovation and mindset is very much aligned with the much-needed reforms of modern day healthcare. I’m not saying that what exists already is ‘bad’, but real innovation adds something new to what already exists. This is what sets us apart from other tech solutions on the market; we’re not just modernising the current approach, but also enhancing the patient and clinician experience. By doing that, we’re adding another dimension, which means managing to ensure better clinical outcomes.
OTM: How do you think measuring these clinical outcomes will help make a difference?
NM: Information and data is key in modern healthcare. The industry standard requires demonstrable outcomes to measure the effectiveness of what we’re doing. On The Mend is combining the measurement of both subjective and objective outcomes, making the data available in real time to clinicians. A lack of lag time in the delivery of this data means clinicians can modify patient-centred care in a more proactive way. Making data immediately available means clinicians becoming more responsive to the flow of patient care. This will streamline the delivery of patient-centred care, leading to better clinical outcomes, delivered in a shorter space of time, with fewer unnecessary follow-up sessions, with optimal input from everyone involved. We reinforce that there is no one-size fits all approach to healthcare.
OTM: Tell me what better care delivery will look like in practice with On The Mend?
NM: Typically you will have 20 minutes to see a patient, take a history and form a treatment plan all in the moment, as well as prescribe some exercises for follow-up. We allow the patient to remotely complete their patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) before sessions, and the clinician can access data on pain levels and motivation prior to consultations. This allows for sufficient time for the clinician to focus on care delivery, and you don’t lose half the session catching up on the previous appointment and the time in between. So more of the consultation can be focussed on treating the patient. The overall objective is to encourage greater independence among patients, resulting in a need for fewer consultations and any treatment is delivered on the basis of availability of data in real-time terms. Also, the patient can have a better experience as they expect to be able to turn up at their appointment and be treated rather than spend time going through admin, and ultimately make a recovery, and possibly get back to work, in a shorter space of time.
OTM: How important is it to also improve the clinician experience?
NM: It’s a very relevant question, as the issue of clinician burnout is only going to become a significant conversation in the post-COVID era - to the point of exhaustion. The other thing to improve is less unnecessary admin and paperwork, so what we can do is streamline the data collection process and the admin of collecting PROMs during consultations, so the clinician only needs to access that data, all helping provide for more quality time to treat their patients. Of course, one risk in creating real-time data is that clinicians are never not at work, so patients can effectively access clinicians even when they’re not 'at' work; what clinicians need to do is spend less time at work and more time with their family. We need to provide a time-save and not a time-cost. Streamlining the process for clinicians, allowing them to access the data whenever they want, on their own terms, rather than to the unstructured schedule of a typical day. In terms of exercise recording, there is also an efficiency in exercise prescription as there is no need to spend time drawing exercises or print off sheets, so both the ‘front’ and ‘back’ end of a session is not lost in non-treatment terms.
OTM: What makes you think On The Mend will make a difference?
NM: The thing that makes me most confident is the strength of the concept, because it’s aligned with the UK's NHS strategy, being patient-centred, supported by patient-centred data with the objective of becoming more efficient through savings in terms of time, saving in terms of costs as well as enhancing the patient experience combined with clinical outcomes driving patient-centred care. So what we’re trying to achieve is aligned with the national healthcare strategy in the UK and probably in many other healthcare systems around the world. The other thing is the composition of our team; like any good team it has to be multidisciplinary, and we all being different strengths of tech, healthcare, legal, regulatory, finance and commercial, all across the team. Not to put too much on the shoulders of one person, but how many start-ups can say they have a Chief Medical Officer who also has a background in technology? It’s one of our unique strengths to be able to understand the needs of the healthcare system, as well as the ability to understand the technology needed to deliver on this objective. Our investors can take confidence that they are not just backing the concept, but also the composition as well as the ability of our team to deliver it.
Thanks to Nicholas for sharing these insights. If you would like to find out more about what we do at On The Mend, then please don't hesitate to get in touch with our team!
Have a great day!