We interview Govin Murugachandran, founder of GovStart company and digital consent platform Flynotes, about the company’s ambitions and their recent raise of seed funding.
What is Flynotes?
Flynotes is a digital consent platform addressing an issue faced by doctors and patients – gaining valid and informed consent. Our platform guides individuals through the consent process, for operations for example, whilst also tailoring the information and consent provided to the patient and their particular condition or health status.
Why did you found Flynotes?
My background is as a maxillofacial surgeon, with training in both medicine and dentistry. In addition, I have gained over nine years of clinical experience, and during that time I continuously came across the problem of consent. This isn’t a problem I face alone – all doctors face it.
The NHS does over 100 million procedures a year, and for everyone of those procedures you need to gain consent. At the moment, this is done through a paper based system – which is cumbersome, but more importantly it is inaccurate. Recent analysis suggests that ninety per cent of the paper consent forms completed are invalid – which is staggering.
We are in a situation where litigation is rising, and it has been rising for at least four years by 10% every year The issues surrounding consent play a large part in this increase. Medical and dental practitioners conduct more and more audits around consent which ultimately try to change doctors’ behaviour. This often is a temporary change due to work pressures and it’s in fact the process of consent that needs changing. Flynotes is the technological change that needs to happen.
What difference could digital consent make to the NHS, doctors and patients?
Looking at the problem from purely an efficiency standpoint, Flynotes can streamline the process. We make it easier to gain and give consent, which can save time for doctors in clinical practices immensely.
There is also an advantage in added effectiveness. Not only will it be easier to provide consent, but the information delivered to patients will be of a higher quality, tailored to their particular conditions and in terms (or even languages) they are able to understand.
Flynotes consent, therefore, is more robust, which important from the point of litigation. It also ensures that clinicians are fully aware of their patient’s conditions and risks, and that patients’ expectations are aligned to what their surgery will actually entail. If we tie all this together, we could have a process that could save billions of pounds.
You’ve just raised investment and added to your board.
We’re really pleased to announce Catapult as our investing partner. They have been brilliant in understanding what our vision is and supporting that. We are looking forward to working with them further.
We’re also pleased to announce that Chris Spencer, former CEO of EMIS Health, has joined our board as chairman. His insights and experience, especially for a platform like Flynotes, is going to be invaluable.
We’ve been working with PUBLIC – who have also invested in Flynotes – on their growth programme GovStart for the last 6 months, and we’re really grateful for all the help they have provided. Members of PUBLIC will continue to sit on the Flynotes board and we are really excited to have them with us going forward. If ever there were a group of people who were going to crack consent, I feel like, with our board, we are the team!
What’s next for Flynotes?
We are the majority of the way through building the beta phase of our development. The next stage is in-house testing before engaging in a pilot with one of our electronic health partners. It will be a national pilot, run throughout the country. After that we look to expand to a national launch. It’s a really exciting time for us.
How do you see the future of medical consent?
I think it’s important to realise that consent isn’t just something we have in healthcare: consent is everywhere. It is arguably most complicated in healthcare – but that provides a good springboard for companies like Flynotes to then think wider.
With the likes of GDPR, consent is only going to come even closer to the foreground. So having a robust approach to gaining consent is going to be especially important. What are you consenting to when you give up your data, for example; what are you consenting to when you buy digital products? Having a tool where you are able to easily make people informed, and therefore give valid consent, is so important.
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