We spoke to Anas Nader, co-founder of previous GovStart company Patchwork, to hear about how they’re getting on since leaving the cohort and their plans for this year.
What is Patchwork and why did you embark on this venture?
Patchwork is on a mission to unlock effective flexible working in healthcare to solve the staffing crisis. With the rising tide of staff leaving the NHS in search of better work-life balance, vacant shifts are being filled by temporary staff from expensive recruitment agencies. This is costing the NHS billions it can’t afford.
As doctors and NHS managers, we’ve lived this reality ourselves. So we decided to bring our extensive knowledge of the sector and combine it with cutting-edge technology that we’ve built. We’re now helping fill hundreds of thousands of vacant shifts faster, easier, and cheaper, whilst empowering clinicians to work flexibly and give them back the work-life balance they deserve.
How are you solving the healthcare staffing problem?
For healthcare organisations, our bespoke service and tech saves money, time and effort, offers greater control, and creates an empowered and happier workforce. For healthcare workers, our app offers better work-life balance without impacting the NHS. Addressing both sides of this issue is essential if we are to retain the clinicians we need and prevent them from burning out, as well as protect the viability of the NHS for the next generation.
How far do you think you’ve got in solving this problem?
10,000+ clinicians across over 30 hospitals already use the Patchwork app, with over 1 million shift hours booked since launch. We worked with Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on the launch of our initial pilot and the results were staggering. Chelsea & Westminster Hospital saw an incredible 90% of shifts filled directly through the hospital’s own staff bank as a result of the Patchwork platform, compared with 35% when using legacy systems. This meant a cost-saving of over £1.2m per year. If you think about the cost-saving implications of that when scaled across the whole of the NHS, it’s a game-changer that could dramatically improve NHS finances.
Tell us what’s new since leaving the GovStart program
2019 was an incredibly important year for the business. We were delighted to welcome new investors in recent months – raising £3m from Praetura Ventures, BMJ, and existing angel investors. This will provide the fuel needed to drive our next phase of growth. We’ve expanded our team to 37 and are proud of the talent, passion and commitment that the Patchwork team brings to healthcare. We’ve also launched new product features. We’re particularly excited about our new platform Patchwork Insights which enables Trusts to have true oversight of their staffing data for the first time.
Looking forward, what are your plans for 2020?
We are working with more and more NHS Trusts and other healthcare organisations every month and are implementing our technology with other staff groups as well this year. We take each new partnership incredibly seriously and work closely with each healthcare organisation to ensure our solution is tailored to meet their unique needs and goals. New products and features will also be launching, to ensure our solution continues to add value as the NHS’ journey evolves.
What advice would you give to early GovTech startups?
It makes a massive difference if you have lived the problem you are trying to solve. Our experience on the frontlines of the NHS means we understand the nuances and challenges facing healthcare staff and NHS management. That means when we speak to users or organisation, we can speak from a place of empathy and understanding. If you haven’t had that grassroots experience, take all steps possible to truly understand the lived experience of those you are advising and building tech for.
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