Designing innovative tools for those going through physical therapy is the name of the game for London-based start-up On The Mend. Digital Health News speaks to CEO Wesley Fogel to find out more about the company, which was one of our 16 finalists at this year’s Digital Health Rewired Pitchfest. 

Tell us a little about your innovation and what it does.

On The Mend connects healthcare professionals and patients on one cloud-based platform in order to improve the way people are treated for a problem affecting their muscles, tendons, bones or joints.

What gave you the idea for your product?

I started the company after my own experience with knee surgery, which gave me a first-hand perspective on how daunting, lonely and frustrating the physical rehab journey can be.

Without a background in healthcare, I found that most digital health products supporting people with their physical rehab were being designed by surgeons or physiotherapists. I wanted to build something by patients, for patients.

How have you got to where you are now?

We’ve spent the past two years consulting extensively with patients, healthcare professionals and with both NHS and private healthcare organisations to understand the unmet needs. Our team has grown to include surgeons, physiotherapists and health and tech professionals. We work with a strong advisory panel as well as a number of leading academics and charities in orthopaedics, health psychology and data science.

Why did you decide to enter the health start-up space?

We still see health tech as a very early stage industry, with very small companies having the opportunity to make a significant impact on the wider challenges facing our society. As England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies recently observed, healthcare is now by far and away the largest single item of public spending, accounting for around £1 in every £5 spent. The ageing population is only part of the challenge that lies ahead and the quicker and smarter we are at addressing these major problems, the better off we will all be.

Have you faced any barriers?

There are many obstacles to producing an innovative product for the healthcare system. However, I firmly believe the major factor governing whether a new product reaches the market is the determination and drive of the team involved. I am fortunate to be working with people who believe passionately in making a positive difference to the lives of millions of people in the UK and around the world. This has helped us take on the many bumps in the road we have faced, and will no doubt continue to face in future.

Why did you decide to enter the Digital Health Rewired Pitchfest?

To win! Taking home a Pitchfest trophy would have helped raise our profile and strengthen our reputation within the healthcare industry.

How did you find the experience?

Nerve-wracking but worth it! The strong competition made us up our game and has helped us to hone our message for future presentations. The guidance and support we received from the Pitchfest team throughout the preparation stage was exceptional. We were also grateful for the opportunity to present our business to an audience of senior investors and key decision makers.

Looking to the future, what do you hope your product will achieve and what’s the next step in achieving that goal?

We want to make physical rehab more rewarding. We will enhance the experience for patients and their healthcare professionals, improve health outcomes and bring down the cost of care delivery. The next step is to put our technology into the hands of patients, surgeons and physiotherapists to see what impact we can make.

What advice would you give to someone looking to enter the health start-up space?

Before you do anything, talk to a variety of people involved in the system. You’ll be surprised how willing they are to discuss your idea, including the most senior people in the industry.

Everyone involved in healthcare wants to make things better but one person can’t solve it all. You need to build your team early, even if they are only advisors. The more people you involve, the greater your chance of success.

The Digital Health Rewired Pitchfest competition gives innovators from across health and social care the chance to pitch their idea to sector leaders. Over 70 start-ups applied to take part in the 2019 event, sponsored by Silver Buck, with the final taking place at Digital Health Rewired on 26 March. 

Want to pitch your start-up or idea to NHS IT leaders and investors? Entries for Rewired Pitchfest 2020 are now open; you can apply here.

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