Echo: bringing the NHS into the 21st Century

As a VC, I live for the rare moment when an investment is so obvious that you’re ready to write the cheque on the spot. Which is what happened when I first met Sai and Stephen, co-founders of Echo. Even better was that I’d actually written the business plan for this service but decided the execution was so hard given the number of stakeholders involved, that I’d rather stick with the day job. Now I could have my cake and eat it.

The dispensing and collection of NHS prescriptions still works like we live in the 19th century. Patients have to book an appointment to see their GP, collect their green slip detailing the medication/dosage prescribed and then go to the pharmacy to collect. That’s one hour at the very minimum and assumes an efficient service (ie. you can actually get the appointment, the pharmacy has the drugs available, there’s no queues etc). In a world where we’re accustomed to do the majority of our daily tasks/admin on our mobile, it seemed crazy to me that no-one had yet figured out a way to allow patients to do possibly THE most important daily task on their phone — to manage one’s medication.

Until Echo. A beautiful mobile app that fully automates the prescription process for both patient and doctor, reducing one hour to a few minutes. Driven by the frustration they felt as patients, Sai and Stephen started working on Echo with the sole mission of building an app that would let users order and manage their repeat prescriptions without any hassle. Reading Sai’s and Stephen’s explanation of how it works, you can see clearly their acute understanding of what’s required to make the user experience as seamless and safe as possible. The passion with which they’re building is also palpable. Hence my readiness to invest.

Sai and Stephen know how critical this service is — studies show that forgetfulness is the number one reason patients don’t take their drugs. With smartphone penetration in UK >80% and an app like Echo, there’s no reason why anyone should forget to take their medication today. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out why that’s a GOOD thing.

It’s also not only the patient who benefits. Echo saves the NHS millions of pounds a year from reducing wastage and minimising the number of hours of doctors spend either seeing patients in A&E when they’ve forgotten to re-order their drugs or in the GP practice. With Echo, doctors can actually use their time treating patients instead of doing admin. The NHS knows it needs solutions like Echo to save it from the £30B shortfall it faces by 2020. It has a duty to the taxpayer to save on costs whilst ever improving on service — Echo enables it do precisely that.

Echo launches today with over 1000 delighted customers. With 30M people taking repeat prescriptions in the UK and no reason why every one of them shouldn’t use Echo’s free service, they only have 29.998M more to go ;)