‘Good to meet you, Sinju! Can you tell me more about Therapha?”
Sure. Therapha is a patient-facing decision support solution that uses a conversational chatbot to engage with patients before their in-person visit. The idea came from my two decades of direct patient care as a doctor of physiotherapy and a primary spine practitioner.
MSK conditions are the leading contributor to disability worldwide and account for the third-largest area of NHS spend, about £5 billion each year. Ten million people in the UK are living with back pain.
I’ve heard people being told that musculoskeletal pain will get better with time, “Just give it a few days”. Well, if MSK issues get better in time with no intervention, we wouldn’t have back pain as a leading cause of disability. There is something wrong with this narrative.
At Therapha, we believe that automation has a key role in improving healthcare delivery by bringing patients to the forefront. This solution is designed to capture a detailed understanding of the patient’s MSK complaint and relevant medical history. Who else is better equipped to tell their story than the patient themselves? By automating the clinical summary from these interactions, we can ensure that the information going into health records is the true version, free from bias.
Patients’ stories hold immense value, but clinicians often don’t have the luxury of spending enough time with them to identify underlying disorders that might mimic musculoskeletal problems. Interestingly, such cases are less than 2% of the total. Therapha captures these hidden patterns from patient stories and presents that to clinicians for making more informed decisions. This gives clinicians more time for patient education and treatment. Furthermore, the entire interaction a patient has with the digital avatar is automated into a structured clinical summary that goes into their medical records. In short, Therapha acts as a cognitive aid as well as a scribe that can handle over 80% of clinicians’ administrative work.
At Therapha, we believe that our solution is a win-win for all parties involved. From patients to clinicians, telehealth platforms to NHS and private insurers, everyone benefits. We understand that telehealth platforms often have limitations when it comes to obtaining objective measures, which can result in standalone features being hyper-vigilant. That’s where Therapha comes in – our platform provides more clarity to virtual consultations, bringing a new level of detail to patient interactions that was previously unavailable.
“What would you say have been your successes on your start-up journey?”
I’m extremely proud of our team and the wealth of expertise in our advisory board. Therapha is a clinician-led innovation company, with a combined clinical experience of over 120 years. Our founders are a primary spine practitioner and a doctor of physical therapy, and our Chief Medical Officer is an emergency medicine physician. Also on the team is a chiropractor and clinical neurosurgeon who is actively involved in the development and clinical testing of our solution. Our technical team has extensive knowledge of the latest advancements in technology, with multiple exits and FDA-approved devices in the market.
Other exciting news is that we have a blocking US patent and patent pending status in Europe and Australia.
We have completed two Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved cross-sectional studies in Saudi Arabia with 200 patients. The aim of the studies were to determine the efficacy of the decision support solution in identifying spine pathologies caused by disc herniation. We are very pleased with the results, as the tool was even able to identify the compromised segment(s). We are looking forward to sharing the outcome at the upcoming World Physiotherapy Conference in June.
We’ve also been extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to be on the AWRC Accelerator Programme at Sheffield Hallam University. It’s been a wonderful experience working with their teams across a number of projects for co-design of the user interface, development of the machine learning capabilities and engaging with their in-house physiotherapy teams to understand opportunities and challenges for implementation.
“What connections / partnerships are you seeking to make for the next stage of your business growth?”
Our immediate focus is DTAC compliance and gaining regulatory approvals, and engaging with patients and clinicians for proof of concept studies. Our platform is built around the need to improve access to care and to create actionable insights for clinicians early in the MSK pathway, and therefore it’s really important to us for patients and clinical users to be significantly involved in our development process.
We’ve been bootstrapped to date so we will be raising in 2023, and focusing on grant funding opportunities and identifying collaborative partners.
We’re excited about the possibilities for revolutionising musculoskeletal care and improving patient outcomes. For this to happen we are seeking like minded investors who are willing to challenge the status quo and to embark on this digital transformation.
“And finally, can you tell us about your experience of participating in the P4SY Accelerator Programme?”
P4SY has been instrumental in our decision to establish a UK base in Sheffield.
All the experts and mentors we have met through the programme have been incredible. They’ve all had advice to offer and have been able to guide us – providing directions to navigate the healthcare system and understanding what support we need.