Leading London-based healthtech startup, EQL, recently entered into a new partnership with Raintree Sytems Inc., with Phio, EQL’s AI-driven physical therapy assessment tool, the debut product that will form part of the engagement platform provided by Raintree. EQL co-founder and CEO, Jason Ward (pictured), recently spoke with Insurance Business on how this partnership occurred and the changing view of technology in the medical practice sector.
EQL, said Ward, was created with a mission to radically improve patient pathways using state of the art technology and the concept for the Phio tool came together with this mission in mind. Phio was created when Peter Grinbergs, co-founder of EQL and a physiotherapist, saw first-hand the struggle of patients in accessing correct care pathways, and also the issues of cost and capacity when it came to accessing treatment as quickly as possible.
The partnership between EQL and leading USA enterprise-grade clinical management system Raintree Systems occurred, said Ward, when Raintree saw the shift in healthcare towards more user-centric requirements within the US physical therapy (PT) market.
“Raintree’s clients need to keep pace with the burgeoning demand of patients to have control over their time and pathways,” he said. “Phio delivers those requirements.”
Discussing what makes a successful business partnership, Ward outlined the requirements of reciprocity and respect when it comes to market positions and goals and said: “Sometimes when these types of deals are struck there is a lopsidedness that creates frustrations in the future.”
EQL and Raintree come from very different places, he said, but both companies aligned on the benefits of bringing EQL’s technology to the US PT market.
On the question of building relationships, Ward addressed how Phio, though an alternative for many telephone-based and remote physical therapy services, does not negate the role of human interaction in health services.
“I think human interaction is immensely important,” he said. “Technology can vastly improve access and outcomes but cannot completely replace clinicians.”
EQL’s position, he stated, is that technology can and should be used in scenarios where the patient can self-manage their recovery, however where this is not the case, a clinician will always be needed and valued. Empathy has, so far, not proven to be replicable, he said, and is so important in engaging a patient in their recovery journey.
“Technology, in our eyes, is a support function, not a replacement,” said Ward.
Looking at the wariness of brokers and other members of the distribution chain when it comes to digital transformation, he outlined how such developments are “more about looking at efficiencies and increasing capacity than completely losing business models.”
Consumers are ultimately demanding easier access, more information and better value, he said, and if you are providing a B2C proposition, these metrics are essential. The issue, he stated, is trying to deliver those needs at scale, which is where traditional models may struggle and where digital innovation can assist.
Technology in the digital health sphere, Ward said, is on a rapid trajectory to improve healthcare across the board through making it more cost-effective, more timely or better able to diagnose and treat illnesses. He believes there is a great acceptance of technology in this sector and outlined the role of innovations such as Phio in enabling patients to take control of their own healthcare.
For EQL being chosen as one of 20 high potential start-ups to take part in the DigitalHealth London Accelerator Programme was a highlight of its journey so far and Ward discussed the ongoing development of this business as it looks to 2020.
“We are excited to have partnered with a number of providers, whether that is within the NHS or the insurance market,” he said. “We expect to be assessing over 25,000 patients a month by the end of Q1 2020, and with our USA partnership with Raintree Systems we expect this number to triple by the end of 2020.”