2016 NIA Fellows – Ivana Schnur (1/3)

A spotlight on NIA Fellow Ivana Schnur (1/3)

by Rebecca Wycliffe

The NHS Five Year Forward View, which was launched in 2015, set out a positive vision for the future healthcare system. A triple aim was proposed: to improve population health, quality of care and to create a more financially sustainable NHS. With an aging population, and growing number of patients suffering from long-term chronic illnesses and mental health problems, health and social care services are under ever increasing pressures. These services need to grow to meet the demand of the increasing population and changes in patient health, but with surmounting financial pressures on the NHS, more sustainable and cost-effective solutions must be found. Patient engagement and quality of care have been a key focus to enable these solutions. Supporting patients to manage their own health and giving patients more direct control over their own care could lead to higher standards of care and patient satisfaction as well as more efficient and cost-effective services[1],[2].

Many health tech start-ups are transforming health and social services across the UK and helping to meet the goals set out in the Five Year Forward View. Initiatives such as the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) Programme have been launched to support healthcare pioneers develop and integrate their evidence-based innovations into the NHS in the hope that they will revolutionize health and social care services and improve patient outcomes. Over the next few weeks, I want to share with you the work of several remarkable women who have developed innovative ways to educate and encourage patients to take more responsibility and become actively involved in their own health choices, and who are ultimately providing solutions to the key challenges facing the NHS today.

‘Sense.ly’ — Dr Ivana Schnur

The first inspiring woman is Dr Ivana Schnur, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Sense.ly. Sense.ly have created an app, designed to provide accurate streaming and triaging of health queries.

Sense.ly has made significant headway in the U.S., but this digital healthcare company is now on its way to transforming healthcare in England. Sense.ly have introduced ‘Ask NHS,’ a mobile app that gives patients free, on-demand access to services, 24/7. Using avatar-based technology equipped with AI, Sense.ly have created a virtual personal medical assistant, who can check the user’s symptoms at any time and advise on whether the patient needs support from NHS 111 clinicians.
Sense.ly’s “Olivia”, the virtual triage

The app, which can be downloaded onto smartphones or tablets, allows the virtual nurse, Olivia, to communicate and respond to the patient using clever voice recognition technology. Creating an avatar in the form of a nurse that communicates, and can hold conversations, with the user brings a bedside manner to the patient’s experience.

As well as symptom checking and GP appointment booking, the app provides easy access to NHS choices, enabling the user to gain a deeper understanding of health conditions and treatments. Sense.ly provides an easy-to-use tool that not only educates users about healthcare services, but also helps patients to make more informed choices, and where to find the most appropriate healthcare services in their local area. In partnership with the NHS, Sense.ly are currently running projects across the West Midlands with the aim to reduce demand on urgent care services, provide access to self-help information 24/7, aid navigation of the NHS services and ultimately improve patient experience through personalised care. Sense.ly has the potential to change the way people access healthcare.

[1] Veroff, D., Marr,A. and Wennberg,D.E. Enhanced support for shared decision making reduced costs of care for patients with preference-sensitive conditions. 2013. Health Aff (Millwood). 32(2):285–93.

[2] Hibbard, J.H. and Greene, J. What the evidence shows about patient activation: better health outcomes and care experiences; fewer data on costs. 2013. Health Aff (Millwood). 32(2):207–14.

Rebecca graduated from UCL in Biomedical Sciences last year and recently worked for the health tech startup company, Cera, helping to transform the delivery of social care. She enjoys writing in her spare time on current issues that impact on health and social care services

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