Sometimes, you meet these busy humans and wonder how do they do 'em all. Talking to Hannah about her job and her passions made us realise that 'balance' is all a matter of perspective, haha. Check out our Q&A below, it was a great conversation!
What's the deal with you and healthtech?
My academic training is in human rights, through which I came to understand health as a human right. I looked at the great leaps and bounds being made in the healthtech space and saw so many opportunities to improve access to and enjoyment of that right. When I was graduating from the LSE, the Academic Health Science Networks were forming and I wanted to be involved in supporting the delivery of improved health outcomes through accelerating the uptake of healthtech innovations. The South West AHSN invited me to join them and I’ve been working in healthtech innovation – in some shape or form – ever since.
Talk to us about some of the projects you were involved in in the healthtech space -- anything you ABSOLUTELY ADORE?
I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in some exceptional healthtech projects. For example, prior to joining Elvie I developed the ImproveWell app and platform, with Dr Na’eem Ahmed (Selfless founder) and the staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Trust. The app enables frontline NHS staff to identify challenges and suggest innovations to help meet those challenges. That feedback is tagged with other useful data - such as specialty and site - and is aggregated and presented on a platform for hospital management, in a way that’s digestible and actionable. ImproveWell was taken on by the DigitalHealth.London accelerator; it’s fantastic to see Trusts across the country utilise it as a tool to support meaningful quality improvement.
More recently, after three years of work and critical support from Donna Simon (Elvie head of operations) and Dr Jack Coggins (Elvie data scientist), I’ve had the honour of announcing that Elvie Trainer is working in partnership with NHS Supply Chain. This means that NHS health professionals with access to the NHS Supply Chain portal, dependent on budgetary and clinical considerations, are able to order an Elvie Trainer and provide it at no cost to the patient. A smart at-home biofeedback device, Elvie Trainer can support professionals and patients by making pelvic floor exercise fun and easy – helping to alleviate issues that one in three women suffer from and one in ten women receive surgery for.
Coincidentally, I received confirmation of the NHS Supply Chain contract activation on the same day that NHS England issued a ban on mesh surgery for pelvic floor dysfunctions. This, for me, is a powerful metaphor for the evolving approach towards women’s health and a shift towards conservative management. I feel that the campaign for the mesh ban has provided an extraordinary example of patient activism, led by the indomitable Kath Sansom. I look forward to working with NHS professionals, armed with compelling clinical and cost-effectiveness evidence, to support the rewriting of urogynae pathways towards conservative management, supported by tools like Elvie Trainer.
Work-life balance can be tricky for any job - what has it been like for you?
Last year, I balanced two years of work for Elvie with taking a two-month sabbatical to compete in an offshore race from Liverpool, UK to Punta del Este, Uruguay… which wouldn’t meet everyone’s definition of work-life balance, I appreciate! I’ve also just finished two years at night school, studying an MSc in Bio-Business… so, often work-life balance has been a case of balancing my day job with writing my dissertation or studying for exams. My friends have nicknamed me ‘Salmon’, as I’m always swimming upstream; they tell me to ‘be more trout, enjoy the still waters’ – but what can I say, I only have one setting!
What's your go-to for a zen mood?
Running is the best way for me to maintain zen. I run to work to psych myself up and run home from work to process anything that’s come up during the day, making me a better employee (and housemate!) to be around. I feel most at peace when offshore sailing… but that’s not so easy to integrate into a London commute!
Cool plans on the horizon?
I’ve spent the last year working on my dissertation for the MSc in Bio-Business, off the back of which I’m hoping to publish in a peer-reviewed journal and perhaps contribute a feature-style piece to a female consumer-facing publication. It’s entitled ‘barriers to commercialising science in the field of contraception’, for which I’ve interviewed key players in the space - including from venture capital, big pharma, small industry, non-profits and academia - to determine why new and improved contraceptive innovations are coming out of labs but not making it onto the market and into the hands of women who need them. At a time when many women are seeking alternatives to hormonal contraception, I hope my work will comprise an important contribution to a system-wide understanding of the multiple factors preventing the broader choice of contraception.
Some words of wisdom for a younger self.
Sometimes, uncertainty over the next step delivers the best next step of all. Planning has its place but it always pays to be open to new opportunities, especially those you could not have predicted would come your way.