2018 was a pivotal year for digital health technologies with major headlines of industry disruption dominating the news agenda.  

As we enter 2019, we’ve asked the leaders and innovators of the industry to look forward, and share their new year’s resolutions for 2019. They reveal the technologies they’re most excited about, the biggest challenges currently facing health tech,  and those they see having the biggest impact on the industry.  

Intro

Today we hear from Stephen Bourke, Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer of Echo, the app for repeat prescriptions.  

Founded in 2015, Echo is an app-based pharmacy that helps users manage their NHS England repeat prescriptions. Echo’s team of pharmacists work with users’ own GPs to fill their repeat prescriptions and deliver medication – for free. Users receive reminders through the app when it’s time to take their medication and when they’re running low and need to reorder. Using the Family feature, users can also manage the repeat prescriptions of family members, too.  

Almost half of all adults take a repeat prescription, but 40% of medication isn’t taken as directed. This costs the NHS billions in waste each year. Echo’s mission is to remove the barriers to medication adherence through elegant, user-focused design and technology. Echo are a team of doctors, pharmacists, designers and developers with a simple vision – to use technology to make everyone’s experience of healthcare and wellness better and more fulfilling. 

Stephen Bourke successfully launched the pioneering digital health business LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor in Ireland and Australia, and previously worked at Oxford University and Age UK.  

Here is what he had to say…

A Jack of all trades, is a master of none   

“Focus and collaborate.” 

“Too many firms are trying to do everything in a bid to become ‘one platform to rule them all’. It’s holding Health Tech back. If each firm doubles down on what it does best, and works with partners who do the same, we will make things happen in 2019.” 

The secret to helping children lead healthier lives   

“The work that has come out of the 100,000 Genomes Project is one of the developments I am most excited to see unfold in 2019. Rare diseases are rare, but there are a lot of them, and patients can spend decades getting a diagnosis.” 

“Specifically, by sequencing children’s DNA we can diagnose and treat conditions faster, enabling them to lead healthier lives. I understand as many as 75% of treatment plans have been adapted post-sequencing, which is incredible. At scale, we will be able to offer patients personalised medicine with better outcomes.” 

Big pharmacy brands moving online  

“In practical terms, we will see significant investment pharmacy services, specifically direct to consumer models and the big brands moving online, having significant impact on the health tech industry in 2019. Research wise, it has to be genomics.” 

Silos are holding the sector back  

“Interoperability is one of the biggest challenges currently facing the industry.”  

“Systems don’t talk to each other, there are too many silos. The NHS is working hard to fix this, however it is still holding the sector back.” 

Unlocking the promise of health tech in 2019 

“The infrastructure now in place to unlock the promise of Health Tech is empowering start-ups like Echo, building services that make life easier for patients.”  

“We simply couldn’t operate without the NHS’ investment in Electronic Prescription technology. Another enabler is smartphone penetration, which is pushing 85% and makes Health Tech accessible to the wider population.” 

“More investment is needed to establish the UK as a global digital exemplar, but under the current Secretary of State for Health we are confident that things are heading in the right direction.” 

My favourite health tech related news story of 2018 was… 

“Thriva’s fat berg. They created a 12ft mound of real fat on London’s South Bank to shock people about the alarming rates of weight gain in the UK, and to encourage regular health checks. They’re an amazing healthcare company with an eye for a good story.” 

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