Digital Health Age Day 5: An interview with technology entrepreneur Peter Wilkinson
Throughout this week Inhealthcare is to be guest editor of Digital Health Age.
It will include articles about Inhealthcare’s mission to save the NHS, why digital health makes sense for both patients and the public purse and an interview with a senior figure from the healthcare establishment.
Meet Peter Wilkinson, the serial technology entrepreneur behind some of Britain’s most successful technology businesses. His latest venture, Inhealthcare, has the potential to transform the NHS, specialising in self-testing services designed to help patients take greater control over their healthcare and ease the pressure on the health service.
Describe yourself in five words
Inventive, creative, caring, driven and honourable.
Are entrepreneurs born or made?
Born. A lot of people are born with talent. A top cricketer is born with a talent. A top footballer is born with a talent. A top surgeon is born with a talent. The ones that are the best are born with the ability and are bright enough or driven enough to make the most of it. You have to have an idea. I can’t tell you where those ideas come from. It is like a light bulb moment. I believe that is something I have been blessed with, not made.
How do you create successful technology businesses?
You have your idea, but you have to analyse it and see if it can be something that makes money. If it doesn’t make money, sadly in this world your business idea will fail. You have to be extremely driven, you have to be extremely passionate and you have to drive it relentlessly because it is your idea and your vision. Very few people will get the big picture of what you are trying to do. They will all understand bits of it and they will all go off with those, but you have got to be very careful that they don’t run off in the wrong direction. It is really difficult to make your idea become a reality. You also have to be prepared to change direction.
Why are you investing in digital health?
I’m 62 years old and so health is becoming more interesting to me than it was when I was young and immortal. Every day I watch the news and everybody is criticising the NHS and yet it provides a good service to people who are poorly and saves many lives. I never felt that technology was being embraced on behalf of the patient and that it was almost getting to the stage where the patient was secondary. That is inconvenient and unnecessary for a huge amount of people who have got managed conditions that can simply be monitored by technology away from hospital. I believe technology will be the biggest change in the NHS since its inception.
How can the NHS better embrace innovation?
Any massive organisation or government has a top-down approach. In the NHS, we have 211 clinical commissioning groups that are all going off and doing their own thing and having 211 different opinions on everything. The whole thing is so complicated. The hospitals and GPs should be there to implement what the Government wants them to implement. One edict from the Government could say they must all implement home-monitoring for warfarin patients. We know that would save in excess of 20 million hospital visits a year. For that to happen now, this small business in Harrogate, North Yorkshire has to go around to persuade 211 different CCGs.
What is the future of the NHS?
Unless they bring back central control and start to embrace new ideas and technologies for the routine tasks, I fear for the future of the NHS. The opportunity is to free up NHS staff from mundane, routine tasks so they can focus on doing what they are best at, which is caring for people.
What is your favourite gadget or device?
My quad bike is my favourite gadget, if that qualifies, no question.