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Feature Technology

Doctors developing apps to try to modernise the NHS

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 22 February 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k685
  1. Anne Gulland, freelance journalist, London, UK

Frustrated by outdated systems and clunky processes, medics are taking matters into their own hands and turning tech entrepreneur, finds Anne Gulland

A new breed of doctor is stalking UK hospitals and clinics—young, tech savvy, and frustrated with clunky NHS processes, these “doctorpreneurs” are setting up technology companies in a bid to make the health service run more smoothly.

It’s impossible to say how many doctors are tinkering away on their laptops trying to develop an app, but Kit Latham, an emergency medicine doctor and cofounder of Dr Focused, whose products include an online rostering system, believes that doctors are becoming increasingly frustrated with the outdated processes they are using at work.

“Every time they book a holiday or buy travel tickets doctors are confronted with tech that’s well designed, easy to use, and doesn’t waste their time. But when they’re at work they’re confronted with tech that is out of date and makes their job harder,” he says.

Latham is a perfect example of the new breed: a digital native who worked as a systems administrator in his teens. He did a masters in technology entrepreneurship at University College London and decided to develop an exception reporting app (to record when your work has varied from your schedule) with his company cofounders. This app has now been downloaded by doctors in 74 hospitals around the country. He now wants to create a whole digital back office for doctors, bringing all their paperwork into one place.

“We built the app with the brief of making exception reporting as fast as possible: people can now do their exception report in 19 seconds. This got us into rostering—rostering is the lynchpin of the hospital but often it doesn’t work properly,” Latham says.

Adoption hurdle

Lots of people have expressed an interest in the product, …

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