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Hospital doctor turned to technology to improve the lives of his patients

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"Clinical colleagues needed convincing but we could see the impact it was having."

In an exclusive interview with Health Tech World Dr Simon Bourne explains how technology is helping thousands of patients manage long-term conditions like diabetes and asthma.

As a respiratory doctor at the University Hospital of Southampton Dr Simon Bourne saw at first hand how patients struggled to cope with Chronic Pulmonary Disease.

“I saw people really struggling with the condition, often brought on by smoking. It’s a very common disease – the third leading cause of death. I was looking after patients who were coming to the end stage, and it was hard to make an impact other than with oxygen and morphine,” he said.

“We had around 6,000 patients in the commissioning area and there seemed a real opportunity to do something different in 2008, so we moved from a hospital setting into the community which was unusual then.

He realised innovation was the key to reaching his patients and the power it could have with certain health conditions. With his partner, Simon set up new community pathways within Southampton City as the start.

“We started off with educational materials and a website on the condition. And after just a month we couldn’t believe how much better patients were because they were better informed.

“Clinical colleagues needed convincing but we could see the impact it was having.”

He formed a digital health company, my mhealth Limited in 2012 and joined the first cohort of NHS Nation Innovation Fellows in 2015 and successfully achieved national procurement of myCOPD in 2015.

“We’ve developed evidence-based digital therapeutics driven by high quality software to manage 70 per cent of long term conditions.

“We looked at the long-term health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease and realised there was a big opportunity to get every patient access to expert advice and interventions at a time and place that suits them.

Simon successfully built on the success of myCOPD to build a co-morbidity platform for patients, and clinicians to manage Asthma, COPD, COVID-19, Diabetes and Heart Disease.

He has moved the product to Jersey and will launch a test among Maori and South Pacific Islanders in New Zealand.

The cardiology app has been translated into Swiss, German and French. Hundreds of thousands of education sessions with patients take place each month and thousands of rehabilitation sessions each month.

“We can connect clinicians and patients giving each side a set of self management tools, rehabilitation, education courses, reporting mechanisms and even a checklist,” he said.

His next ambition is to build a next-generation AI engine into the products to enable the delivery of precision medicine at population scale.

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