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The secure, browser-based technology developed by the Oxford University-backed startup enables “clinicians to maintain support and care, holding appointments in safety with patients, from any device, anywhere,” explains co-founder and practising GP Dr Alexander Finlayson. Available as well to hospitals, hospices and community services, downloading an app is optional for users so no one is excluded. “Currently we are the only solution offering telephone and video consultations that work within existing NHS systems,” adds Finlayson.
Together with colleagues Dr Imran Mahmud and Dr Chris Tan he set up Nye in 2018 aiming to create a “better, kinder way of doing things, empowering patients” and increase efficiencies, especially around portability. Doctors would have more time to spend with patients and the chance to prescribe a greater range of treatments, increasing their knowledge and independence. Raising £1.6million of investment from individuals and institutions, Nye’s team of clinicians, scientists and engineers were well on their way developing the software specially built with, and for, the NHS. Then Covid-19 struck. Over a weekend the group gathered for emergency talks in an Airbnb in Edinburgh and mapped how their science could help save lives immediately.
“Our compliant platform the Nye Phone was ready to go so. It’s both secure and scaleable, so we changed focus and escalated operations in order to get it into the hands of those that need it,” says Finlayson.
“Currently it is free. We took that decision in the light of the situation we are facing and the need. Further into the future, Nye has a longer-term reimbursement strategy.” Available to fewer than 200,000 patients earlier in the year, the revised approach has seen take up among participants surge, with Nye Phone now within the reach of 10 million people. On the technical side Finlayson, part of an 18-strong team, sees the most significant achievement as the technology’s capacity to overcome barriers and integrate seamlessly with a complex network of existing systems, firewalls and types of primary and secondary care.
“The simplicity of consumer technology was an inspiration and paramount if users are to get the full benefit,” he says.
Part of the Oxford Foundry, an accelerator set up by the university’s Saïd Business School to build a new generation of ethical ventures and entrepreneurs, the expertise here and the medical excellence in Edinburgh, where it also has a base, have been critical to Nye’s growth. Interest from overseas has intensified and going forward after lockdown the company aims to raise more funding. “Long term ethical investors please get in touch,” says Finlayson. His main message, however, is two-fold. To the NHS it is: “If you need to manage patients who are remote or self-isolating and you work from home, head to www.nye.health.” To patients who would like this kind of connection, he urges: “Share our link with your hospital, GP practice or clinicians.”