My 1 woman this month is a young woman that I met in my teens , lost touch and then saw again on the cover of “Management Today” . The computer science techie I knew turned into a confident innovative medical doctor and a tech entrepreneur. I knew I had to pick her brains and have her as my 1woman! Needless to say it is as if we were 18 again giggling and catching up on old times, nearly forgetting why we met in the first place. Nearly….
Without further ado, enjoy this passionate and efficient repartee from the ‘typical Virgo’ Nasrin Hafezparast , displaying her fully guided references from how to relax to what method to use for a start up business.
Nasrin Hafezparast is a dual-trained computer science and medical practitioner with experience working in A&E, General Practice and Hospital Medicine. She is also the co-founder of Which Web Design Company (think TripAdvisor for web designers) and Outcomes Based Healthcare (OBH) , a London-based medtech start-up, which uses big data to predict and pre-treat health conditions. Launched in 2013, OBH now employs 15 people, has a turnover of £600,000 and recently won a £1m match-funded grant from Innovate UK.
1w : What woman inspires you and why?
NH: Kate Winslet! Of course, it’s impossible to truly know someone until you’ve met them. And I haven’t met Kate Winslet! However, she is not afraid to be who she genuinely is. Many women feel pressured into being someone they are not. So it’s really refreshing seeing someone under the spotlight not being afraid to be herself.
1w: Reflecting on your childhood, what factors influenced your chosen career path, if any?
NH: I was born and brought up in London, by academic Iranian parents. Every Iranian parent I know imposes the power and importance of maths and science in everyday life on their children. In Iran, 70% of computer science students are female, and women dominate math and science fields. And it most certainly had an impact on my career, having graduated from both Computer Science and Medicine!
1w: A typical generic Google search describes you as an Entrepreneur with a passion for health outcomes amongst other things. Is this how you see yourself now after being a medical doctor? And when did you first realise you had real entrepreneurial spirit/drive?
NH: The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that I can address any challenge that I feel is worth targeting. I’ve had this drive to find solutions to problems for as long as I can remember. As a medical doctor, the challenges were around providing health care and treating patients. However, despite what you might think, I didn’t feel we were always providing care that improved people’s outcomes. Often people wanted a better quality of life, less pain, to get back to work…. But, as a health system, we don’t routinely measure these things. And there was the problem. Our health system (the NHS in the UK) pays hospitals and other providers of healthcare, largely by activity and processes of care ie. payment just to see patients in clinics, to perform an operation, carry out a procedure, or an investigation. That’s not always the right thing to do. This is when I realised I wanted to work on a new challenge.
My focus now is on measuring health, and what that means to people. Enabling health systems to pay to keep people healthy; shifting our whole focus onto prevention of disease. Forming a new measure for success in healthcare.
1w: How would you describe the ethos of Outcomes Based Healthcare (OBH)?
NH: At OBH are core focus is on developing a person-centred based approach around what matters to people around their health. We seem to attract many clinicians or ex-clinicians who have become similarly frustrated with the mechanics of the health system. Although a difficult and technical challenge, there’s always fun creative sparks flying around the office.
1w: It is said that applying analytics to big data will help predict health outcomes. Describe this in laymen’s terms please.
NH: More data has been generated in the past two years than all of human history. Less than 0.5% of this data is currently ever analysed or used. Our bodies continuously fire off information and data – to our behaviours, thoughts, personalities, choices and lifestyles. Together with the environment around us and the health data we already have such as genetic data and some health data, there is real potential to apply advanced machine learning algorithms to process huge amounts of data.
Our focus at OBH in this space is to predict disease and what features/characteristics predict health. Very different from a number of organisations who are using analytics to predict cost of care. If you want to read more about this, a recent article published in the Arab Health Magazine discusses People, Population and Prediction – Big Data and Health Outcomes.
1w : If you were to promote OBH’s culture/ethos in education (under 18’s), what choice statements would you be likely to share?
NH: Always follow your dreams, and find something that fascinates you, that you enjoy learning about and that you love sharing with others. If you do that, you will achieve great things.
1w: Who are your competitors? Do they exist? and How prepared are you for the competition?
NH: We’re in such a new space that it’s still being defined. Organisations are just beginning to start to understand how to measure health and success in healthcare systems.
Because of this, we talk about collaborators rather than competitors, as we are all creating the market for outcomes measurement together.
1w: Do you believe that OBH is changing as fast as the world demands?
NH: Sometimes it feels like OBH is going too fast for health systems to keep up! A huge shift in approach is needed. Yet, health economies all across the globe are recognising the need to shift health payments to an outcomes, patient-centred approach. To rebuild a health system that’s organised around people, and not services. That’s a huge challenge!
1w: What are the trends (in relation to the medical world) for the future and how will they impact OBH’s business model?
NH: Where to start!? A digital health futurist recently described the current state of health innovation as chaos! I believe that healthcare is going to be unrecognisable in its current form. It has to change, but how it comes out at the other end will be interesting to watch.
A recent review by Dr Cosima Gretton, Kings Fund on 8 technologies that will change health and care focusing on smartphones, devices and technologies that we have in our homes and on us that can help us with our health. Currently, the majority of devices, wearables, apps or innovative technologies that’s designed to improve our health collect data as a standalone product. Few connect this data with the medical record. Medical records between different organisations such as your GP and hospital are rarely linked together. And so each of us is creating islands of data about our health. Linking them together to provide meaningful insight is hugely complex. Eventually the data and technology that you have about your health, may be more powerful and insightful than that held by your doctor. And so the locus of control is starting to shift from doctors, to you. Eventually, doctors will find a way to use technology and artificial intelligence to support and assistant shared decisions and your health. As Vinod Khosla describes, “20% doctor included”
What’s also missing currently is a unifying measure for health – good health, and the absence of sickness. Devices, apps and wearables – whatever they are doing – must know whether they are making a difference to people’s lives, and systematically measure these outcomes. This is where OBH comes in.
1w: Are there any surprises with how your product/tools are used? Has any customer ever used the tools in a way you never envisaged? If so, how has that materialised?
NH: This one doesn’t really apply to us at the moment.
1w: What does a typical workday look like for you?
NH: I don’t think I’ve had a typical sort of day in my entire life! And if I did I would rapidly change it. Some say that having a routine means that you take some decisions about of your conscious mind. I would say that if you don’t think about your decisions, or at least review those decisions regularly, you may find yourself doing something just out of habit. And that you miss the chance to learn, gain something new, or simply find a new way to do something.
Even though I go to the same work place everyday, I will often find a new way to travel – taking two buses instead of one, or walking part of the way, and always wondering down a different street, ultimately getting to the same destination, but seeing new things along the way.
At OBH, I’m working on a number of different projects. I often find I’m talking with the team about usability testing for the smartphone app we are developing; meeting with data scientists with our partner organisation, Big Data Partnership, to discuss a research project we’re working on; teaching the team on data flows in the health system; discussing clinical scenarios for outcomes with the team, working with patients to understand outcomes that matter to them; building specifications with developers for the Outcomes Platform … amongst other things!
1w: Leaders, such as yourself, often face setbacks. How quickly do you bounce back from those setbacks? What have you learned as a result of those experiences?
NH: When things don’t go the way I had planned or expected them too, it can be quite difficult. But I find it’s important to thing of them in a positive way, a chance to learn, shift/pivot the approach if necessary and try again. Asking the right questions is important – what happened? Why did it happen? What can I change? What do I want to achieve now? And, how am I going to try again? Without setbacks we would never understand the nature of success.
1w: What do you typically do to relax? And when is your inspiration/motivation at its peak?
NH: I do love a good spa! But I typically like to stay active, I get away to Yoga retreats as often as I can and helped a friend set-up Retreats I Love – I am passionate about the concept and as there was no independent, hand-picked source of retreats online. Time away in a new environment, with a change of routine gives me time to reflect and the most inspiration in what I do everyday.
1w: In your view, can success stem from failure? What did you learn from your biggest failure and what was it?
NH: The experiences we have and decisions we make through life take us through different paths and journeys. Some people might say that having not continued my specialist training in medicine is a failure. I see it as an invaluable experience, and learning that has completed changed my journey to where I am now. I’ve learnt to always listen to my inner self, and to never be afraid to try something new or to change.
1w: What was your proudest moment?
NH: Last year I spoke at TEDxTehran and was one of Management Todays’s 35 businesswomen under 35, both exceptionally proud moments. However, I will never forget the moments I had with my patients, taking the time to listen, and care, and to support them in improving their health.
1w: As a successful female entrepreneur, what advice would you offer to those considering starting a new business? Seeing that you have started a few businesses yourself before OBH.
NH: Most importantly, as a female, be yourself. You don’t need to fit the typical male stereotype. Leadership styles that work for men, don’t necessarily work for women – so find your own way of working and be yourself. Secondly, just do it – test your idea, talk to lots of people, and iterate. Don’t spend years developing your ideas to perfection. I always recommend following the Lean Startup method.
1w: Who is the real Nasrin when no one’s watching?
NH: People often see me as business-like and professional in my manner at work. However, close friends would say that I’m caring, giving and loyal – a typical Virgo!
1w: What are you most afraid of?
NH: I am genuinely afraid of scary and violent films – saying that, I have managed to sit through all of Breaking Bad!
1w: What is your diet /health regime in keeping your energy throughout the day?
NH: I practice dynamic or ashtanga yoga 2 or 3 times a week, and finally managed to do a headstand just last week! It’s all about balance for me. No fads. No diets. Cut the sugar and it will make you feel amazing. That’s not to say I won’t tuck into a dessert when I’m over at a friends dinner party!
1w: From the Many hats that you have is there an extra skill you would like to learn? and why?
NH: Having trained in Western medicine, we know only a tiny fraction of how the human body really works. We’re only just scratching the surface. I would love to learn more about Chinese medicine, learn acupuncture, and delve into the power and psychology of the mind and it’s impact on physical health.
1w: My Life Mantra is……
NH: Enjoy work as much as you enjoy play.
1w: A Woman can have it all….Myth or Reality?
NH: Not all at the same time. Women can have it all, just not all at the same time. Prioritise. It’s all about timing and patience.