IT Life: Finding Health With Big Data
Flying doctor Mark Ratnarajah pilots a big data site for health service consumers
In 2012, former flying doctor and paediatrician Dr. Mark Ratnarajah founded FindMeHealth.com, along with a team of doctors and developers. The company aims to use ‘Big Data’ analytics to empower health sector consumers, by giving them access to comprehensible health information and performance data, so they can make informed choices and compare doctors and healthcare providers.
What has been your favourite project so far?
Our work with doctors to make their online communication with patients more accessible, such as the use of video blogs and authenticated patient ratings. This has been a dramatic shift in the industry, which has historically not made use of social media to communicate with customers or incorporated the customer experience as a measure of quality.
Health tech renaissance
What tech were you involved with ten years ago?
10 years ago I was a children’s doctor working in the NHS with very little in the way of access to technology. The closest I came to anything hi-tech was my hand held calculator with big buttons. Oh and my trusted mobile phone which doubled up as a doorstop. I was however very interested in the use of technology in healthcare. Computer networks were starting to be used and one could see the direction of travel with regards to ‘Big Data’.
What tech do you expect to be using in ten years’ time?
Health tech is going through something of a renaissance and I can only imagine the next 10 years will be even more exciting. It is certainly the reason I am and continue to be involved. I think consumers will have access to decision support tools on their mobile devices customised to the individual and based on crowd sourced data. These tools will drive health and wellbeing through prevention and early detection. Hopefully better data will lead to better life choices!
Who’s your tech hero?
Sir Timothy John “Tim” Berners-Lee – inventor of the world wide web. Sir Tim’s contribution to globalisation and democratisation of information is beyond compare. A truly Great Briton!
Who’s your tech villain?
Dr. Frankenstein – who used technology out of hubris and without consideration of its consequences.
What’s your favourite technology ever made? Which do you use most?
The mechanical wristwatch – functional, beautiful, desirable and has withstood the test of time (pun intended)!
What is your budget outlook going forward? Flat? Growing?
FindMeHealth has recently raised financing, which has allowed the company to launch the beta version of the web platform. The response from doctors and customers has been better than anticipated at this stage of the business and so far we have surpassed our predictions. We however don’t want to run before we can walk and are taking the feedback we receive from our customers and suppliers to refine the service. The indications so far are that the budget outlook is set for growth with increasing demand for health information and access to online health services.
Keeping it relevant
Apart from your own, which company do you admire most and why?
Rapha – a UK cycling apparel brand, which has remained true to its love of all things cycling, whilst growing to become a global brand. I understand all of its HQ staff take an afternoon off every week to go for a group ride on the bike…fantastic!
What’s the greatest challenge for an IT company/department today?
Remaining relevant to the customer and their needs rather than producing what the company thinks they need. We have spent and continue to spend a lot of time with consumers to understand their experiences and gripes. It is a great source of inspiration and we are learning a lot. Our ambition is to harness this great feedback and imbue our web service with the lessons learnt.
To Cloud or not to Cloud?
We use cloud based technologies as it allows us the flexibility to ramp up our capacity and grow. We also believe that being technology agnostic is vital to continued progress and functionality – giving future proof interoperability of new and old technologies and being able to best in class tech as the industry advances.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I still cling on to my childhood dream of becoming an astronaut. Perhaps when EasyJet starts running low cost trips to the international space station from the UK I might be able to afford a ride into Space?