Connected conversations sees DHA talking to some of the digital health industry’s brightest names. For this feature we speak to the co-founders of the healthcare start-up Qure. Charlie Harington and Alex Templeton founded Qure with the aim of changing the patient experience for primary care in the UK. In response to a growing demand for accessible healthcare, Qure recently extended its services across London.
- How did you enter the digital health segment?
Charlie: I entered the digital health segment after having a poor experience accessing NHS primary care for my young son. For weeks I tried to get my son, who was suffering from multiple ailments at the time, seen by a doctor. When I finally got an appointment I was told that I could only raise one problem at a time. So, I wanted to be part of a service that allowed for people to be able to get their problems seen to, as and when they needed it, without it costing them large sums of money.
Alex: Since becoming a parent, our use of healthcare services as a family increased hugely and I found that there were a lot of difficulties in accessing them, especially when compared to other services. At the same time, everyone is aware of the capacity challenges of the NHS, so my partner Charlie and I started to think about how we could help on both sides of the equation. Qure was born out of this and, once we had met the right doctor to join us, the idea seemed so compelling that Charlie and I left decade-long careers in finance to make it a reality.
- How do you use digital health in your own life?
Charlie: My main device is my Apple Watch. I use it mostly for monitoring my general health by keeping an eye on things such as my heart rate and how many steps I take in a day.
Alex: While I like to think that I invented telehealth (FaceTiming my GP sister-in-law for advice!), I have to say that our virtual and face-to-face competitors have done a great job and I have used most of them. I am particularly excited by Babylon’s ‘GPathand’ collaboration with the NHS and have just signed up. I see us using Qure’s physical platform to collaborate in a similar way for visiting services in the future.
- Who is your inspiration?
Charlie and Alex: We love the way Will Shu and Dan Warne at Deliveroo entered a crowded market segment and, by dint of the quality of their offering, have become the benchmark with Deliveroo. Even more so, given that they have managed to maintain and grow this, against fierce competition from huge players.
- What do you think will be the biggest benefit of digital health?
Charlie: Freeing up resource at the NHS for people that really need it. With a service like Qure, we could potentially reduce the burden on the current system.
Alex: I think that for the patient this will be personalisation of services and convenience. For providers, effective triage which will allow them to focus resources on where the need is greatest.
- Can you name one goal to achieve today which will have a positive impact on others?
Charlie: Delivering medicine within an hour would be hugely beneficial. People having access to medicine almost immediately is unprecedented and has the potential to change the entire dynamic of the healthcare system.
Alex: Being able to offer testing services, to complete the value chain for our patients and allow them to seamlessly access a specialist, if appropriate.
- What motivates you to work?
Charlie: I’ve always been entrepreneurial but have always worked previously in large corporations. My motivation to work now is based on genuinely wanting to make a difference in how healthcare is received and making it easier for busy families and time-poor professionals to have access to it on their own terms.
Alex: I become extremely focused and dedicated when creating a solution that will have a positive impact on peoples’ lives and their health.
- What frustrates you about current healthcare systems?
Charlie: I find the healthcare system a bit too cumbersome. It’s frustrating that it’s not always accessible when you need it, but also equally annoying that there is so much strain on a system that is in place to care for us.
Alex: The difficulty in accessing NHS services and the cost of current private offerings. It seems as though there isn’t a balance that works for everyone.
- What technologies excite you?
Charlie and Alex: Any wearable technology or Artificial Intelligence. Where will we be when your fitness tracker goes from where we are now (Nokia 3210) to iPhone 7?!
- Besides from technology, what can the NHS do to improve its services?
Charlie and Alex: Get more investment. For this there will be a need for greater acceptance from society that, to improve the NHS, more funding is required to match the levels of some of our neighbours. We also believe more thought should be put into thinking about flexible working patterns, to appeal to young doctors who are, after all, Millennials.
- If you didn’t do this job, what would you like to do?
Charlie: A fighter pilot – unfortunately my eyes let me down!
Alex: A neurosurgeon – I loved Henry Marsh’s book.