Welcome to the Health Matters’ case studies series, where we will be speaking to the business leaders who have successfully used our programme to take their product or service to new heights in the health and care sectors.
In today’s blog, we catch up with Simon Bowers, CMO Blinx Solutions. Blinx Solutions is an established technology SME launching a healthcare wing.
How did your company find out about the Health Matters programme?
As the clinical lead for the iLinks Programme in North Mersey and Clinical Director for Digital Health & Chair of NHS Liverpool CCG, I was very familiar with the work of the Innovation Agency in supporting NHS adoption of health technology. Once I joined Blinx as Chief Medical Officer it was a no-brainer to contact colleagues at the Innovation Agency and they introduced us to the programme.
What challenges was your company facing prior to receiving support? What do you think the main barriers are for using emerging technology?
I knew through bitter experience that any “outsider” attempting to gain traction within the public sector faced challenges, particularly in healthcare.
As a disrupter/recent innovator in the Healthcare space Blinx Solutions was not a known entity within the sector in the Liverpool City Region so we needed a “leg-up” beyond leveraging the NHS contacts of our own team.
NHS procurement rules and how they are applied by various organisations locally are the biggest barrier, and I’ve found attempts to innovate around this to improve care for patients and generate jobs and wealth locally extremely frustrating in the past.
The creation of a credible clinical use-case for new technology is the key step to convince colleagues of the value of our innovation. The step requires a safe space to prove the concept, i.e. the collaboration of NHS organisations keen to see the innovation succeed. This culture is understandably rare with the daily challenges faced by NHS organisations.
What support did your company receive and how was it delivered?
We had a number of sessions with senior Innovation Agency colleagues supporting us with introductions to key players in key organisations, while helping with practical issues such as procurement frameworks, GDPR and clinical systems integration.
What new activity was your company able to do as a result of the support?
Our impending inclusion on technology frameworks will allow NHS organisations to procure our products – it’s a key entry point into the NHS.
The introductions allowed us to spread the Blinx word wider and encourage the development of warm sales leads.
What are your company’s plans for the future as a result of this support?
Our launch product: PACO (Practice and Care Optimiser) will go live in 15 GP practices in our region in June and we have warm leads across the North West Coast and beyond. We currently have 100% Emis Web integration and are engaged in the governance process with NHSE for wider clinical system integration.
Our product will iterate quarterly and will be a comprehensive solution that automates key processes in general practice and gives practices the intelligence they need to make better and safer decisions for their patients and staff.
We are also involved in discussions with a local authority and 3 NHS trusts about supporting their BI needs with proof of concept application development.
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Would you recommend the programme to other SMEs?
We are really grateful for the support and heartily recommend the programme, especially for new players in healthcare. I spent years in leadership roles within the NHS and still struggled with penetrating this sector.
The Health Matters programme was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund to support local businesses, with innovative solutions, to access the health and care markets.
By providing bespoke, one-on-one assistance, we help businesses hone their products and services. Through real-world validation we demonstrate their practical and commercial benefits.