How lumbar surgery inspired FloKi Health’s mission to develop tech for the NHS

How lumbar surgery inspired FloKi Health’s mission to develop tech for the NHS

From a herniated disc to a thriving tech start-up, our CEO Fenwick Smith looks back on the last three years and how his experiences in the NHS brought him to develop technology that helps improve patient care across the board.

23rd of September is my new ‘re-birthday’. On this day three years ago, I rose from the ashes. In September 2016, I could not walk without crutches. I was overweight, in constant pain, on a cocktail of drugs and unable to find a way out of this vicious cycle. Thanks to the dedication and unrelenting determination of multiple NHS Trusts, I turned my life around. On 23rd September 2016, I had a micro-lumbar discectomy operation under the expertise of Mr Sanderson and his team in Newcastle; this was the first day of my new life.

The road to recovery

Although recovery was slow at first, I came on leaps and bounds. In just 12 months, I went from swimming only 3 lengths to managing 8k a week, now with a resting heart rate of 50 and no meds insight. I made several conscious changes to my lifestyle, too. I gave up wheat, as it made me feel sluggish and bloated (thank god for cider and gin and tonic!). 

If my experience taught me one thing, it’s that I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to help people who were struggling, both physically and mentally, and create a system whereby the NHS could be even more efficient and, therefore, deliver even better patient care all around.

Seeking change

Although I can’t fault the final result from the operation, I couldn’t help but spot faults in the whole pathway to resolve my problem. I saw first-hand the latency, delays and lack of process organisation. It seemed that these issues were not caused by a lack of staff care or expertise, but there was a lack of resources. By resources, I don’t just mean staff, but also equipment and, perhaps the most critical resource of all, time

As a tech entrepreneur with a background in manufacturing, I started thinking about how I could bring my experience into the NHS environment to improve processes and, ultimately, patient care. I attended a number of NHS conferences and filled countless notebooks. I set my sights on tracking medical assets and creating software to produce data to help the NHS save money on operational excellence – that’s when FloKi Health was born. 

Fast forward to September 2019, three years since my surgery. I just recorded 100 lengths in 56 minutes in the pool. FloKi Health’s roster boasts expert developers, data scientists and technology specialists.

We can track assets in real-time. Measuring movement, usage and reliability automatically. With the ability to report broken or in need of maintenance assets via a mobile app. 

As expected, working with the NHS is anything but plain-sailing. However, looking back on three years, I’m overwhelmed by the progress we’ve made. Combining my knowledge with experience in the NHS has brought with it a wealth of opportunity, the best of all is the ability to make a difference to the nation’s greatest asset.

What’s next for FloKi Health?

For the rest of 2020, our objective is to create a cohort of trusts to quantify to the wider NHS the significant operational efficiencies that can be obtained by working smarter, digitally and with data to help make a difference to patients’ lives. 

One thing I have found, “Purpose accelerates capabilities”. Find your purpose to make a positive change in others and life finds a new worth.

To find out more about how FloKi, get in touch