Sapien Health is a complete digital at-home clinic that supports patients within their own environment before and after surgery to improve health outcomes. Dr Beatty tells us more about Sapien Health’s journey to making it as a finalist and his ambitions for the future of the company.
What does Sapien Health do?
Sapien Health is a digital clinic that helps people prepare for and recover from surgery at home. Our mobile app-based solution combines expert health coaching, personalised digital guidance and a toolkit of educational resources to help our members understand and adopt lifestyle habits proven to improve surgery outcomes.
Traditional approaches to lifestyle modification pre-surgery – using patient information leaflets and isolated educational interventions during outpatient clinic appointments – are understood to be largely ineffective. Under-preparation for surgery results in avoidable cancellations, extended hospital stay and postoperative complications. One in three patients experience surgical complications, half of which are preventable with effective prehabilitation.
What gave you the idea for Sapien Health?
Covid-19 had a devastating impact on patients awaiting surgical treatment. All non-urgent elective surgery was suspended, waiting lists grew to record levels, and patients were having to wait longer for the operation. For some, this delayed care negatively affected their health and wellbeing and caused a deterioration in their condition.
We saw an opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the health of individuals and the population at large. And so, the idea for Sapien was born.
How will Sapien Health change the way the NHS works?
Sapien is transforming the perioperative care model by empowering patients to take a more active role in their own care.
We’ve all heard about how waiting lists are longer than they’ve ever been and the impact this is having on people’s lives. And part of what we’re trying to do is change the narrative entirely. For us, they’re not waiting lists, they’re preparation lists.
Working in collaboration with our NHS clients, we’re equipping people with the knowledge, confidence and skills to better prepare for and recover from their operation at home. This model of care isn’t just driving better clinical outcomes, it’s reducing the burden on an overstretched workforce that’s currently experiencing record levels of burnout.
What gap in the market does Sapien Health address?
Before now, preparing to undergo surgery meant attending the surgeon’s clinic once or twice before the operation and taking home a handful of information leaflets. This approach has been demonstrated to be ineffective time and time again, partly because the information is often generic and outdated, but also because simply telling someone what to do rarely drives genuine behaviour change.
Today’s population demands a different model of care. A model that recognises the patient as a member of the care team, known as person-centred care. And we’re helping to drive that change.
How have you got to where you are now?
Teamwork! Our stellar Sapien team has talent, experience and passion! This has been instrumental in getting us to where we are today.
We have backgrounds in medicine, consumer tech, and regulatory affairs. We have experience working for both start-ups and tech giants, like Spotify. We have over 10 years’ collective experience working in digital health. And importantly we help each other out when things are difficult.
Why did you decide to enter the health tech start-up space?
The digital health space is exciting because there is so much opportunity to innovate. Not a lot has changed fundamentally in terms of how we deliver and receive care since the birth of the NHS, but we’re now at the forefront of something totally new.
We’ve already seen the world switch to digital with how we communicate, how we shop, how we bank. Now it’s the turn of health, and that gives us the opportunity to have a truly positive influence on the world.
Have you faced many barriers in getting Sapien Health off the ground?
Lots. I suppose getting any start-up off the ground is all about your ability to navigate those barriers effectively.
One of the toughest things with being in healthcare is that everyone wants to see evidence of effectiveness before they start using your product. But if you’re just starting out, where are you going to get evidence from? We’ve worked hard on crafting a really strong value proposition for our clients and forming the right industry relationships, and taking that approach we’ve been able to demonstrate some really strong early evidence.
Why did you decide to enter Pitchfest?
A previous winner of the Pitchfest, Mridula Pore from Peppy Health, suggested entering the competition. We knew the competition would help grow greater awareness of Sapien and has also been helpful in meeting new investors and potential clients.
How did you find the experience?
Exhilarating – I loved every minute of it. I got to meet some other great founders and catch up with the judges after the show. I was also very impressed by the Pitchfest team who were very accommodating throughout the competition.
Looking to the future, what do you hope Sapien Health will achieve and what’s the next step in achieving that goal?
Continue to build on our commercial successes, and to partner with new NHS clients, medical insurance companies and large corporates. Ultimately, we want our work to help mould the future of perioperative care and in doing so achieve our company mission – to help 100 million people have a successful surgery.
For anyone interested in providing Sapien to their patients or employees email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What advice do you have for others looking to enter the health tech start up scene?
Three small tips: Research – know your space inside out by speaking to lots of people in the industry. Work smart – focus your efforts on things that help you get to the next stepping stone. Be nice to people – if you’re polite people are almost always willing to help out.