Hill Dickinson’s Q&A with Rinicare, a digital health company

Hill Dickinson, a leading international law firm and Medilink partner, recently shared Q&A with Anthony Holmes, Managing Director at Rinicare, which explores the future of AI technology and how Hill Dickinson guided the company in starting an important collaboration with the NHS. Have a read below!

Rinicare is a clinician-led digital health company focused on improving clinical risk prediction and, by extension, patient safety and patient flow through hospitals. The company’s risk prediction technology uses sophisticated AI technology to give clinicians working in critical care early warning of patients who are at risk of deterioration and help prevent adverse events.

Rinicare’s recently announced collaboration agreement with Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) builds on work already taking place between the two parties and marks a significant step forward in the use of AI technology in a healthcare setting.

Hill Dickinson chatted with Rinicare’s Managing Director, Anthony Holmes, on the reasons he believes AI-driven healthcare technology is where the future lies.

Where did the idea for Rinicare come from?

Interestingly, the ideas behind our approach came from the aerospace industry. Our founder, Garik Markarian, had been working on predictive monitoring for aircraft ‘health’ to guide preventive maintenance, and had the idea that we could use the same approach for human health. I have been managing director at Rinicare since October 2020, but I had actually worked with the team on a consultancy basis beforehand, so I came in with a good knowledge of what the company was trying to achieve. It’s exciting to be involved in a clinician-led company that has a desire, passion and vision to see clinical risk prediction transform healthcare.

Did you join Rinicare from a background in health?

Before joining Rinicare, I was the CEO at Optasia Medical, a computer vision company identifying patients with previously undiagnosed vertebral fractures in CT scans, also using AI. But I’ve been involved with Digital Health and AI since 1996 when I started my PhD in computer-aided detection of breast tumours in mammograms at the University of Manchester. I was subsequently able to use some of what I’d learned to help other SMEs translate their ideas into clinical use through consulting. So yes, I came in with ideas and a real vision of how Rinicare could help change the way that healthcare is currently being delivered.

My work at Rinicare is engaging, collaborative, and rewarding, and the Rinicare team is without a doubt a huge part of that. It is a pleasure and privilege to work with passionate individuals who want to make a real difference.

What are your hopes for the new collaboration agreement with MFT

We’re tremendously excited to be collaborating with a world-leading institution like MFT on our STABILITY patient flow platform. This kind of AI-driven technology is a powerful new tool to help clinicians accurately assess patients’ risk profiles and provide appropriately tailored levels of care in order to reduce length of hospital stay. 

We already ensure that both patient and end user needs are at the forefront of our work, and that every solution blends seamlessly with existing care pathways. So rather than technology for its own sake, this is technology to support the clinician, improve patient care, and reduce the burden on care providers. Seeing the benefits that can bring to an NHS setting is what drives us in our mission.

What excites you most about healthcare technology

One of the reasons that it’s so exciting to be at Rinicare is the fact that healthcare technology is developing and advancing so quickly. Take the rise of adoption of health ‘wearables’, for example, which has been astonishing. Although more work still needs to be done on ensuring data are sufficiently protected, having far more data available from wearable tech can only be beneficial for clinical risk prediction scope and performance.

I’m also a self-confessed health tech evangelist – I believe I was one of the first patients in my GP practice to sign up to the NHS App! Even something so apparently simple has real benefits for, say, ordering repeat prescriptions or booking a GP appointment. The lesson for me is that solutions don’t necessarily have to be clever or sophisticated; they just have to offer a real benefit.

Everyone agrees it can be challenging for SMEs to sell-in to the NHS, yet smaller, more agile businesses are often those where true innovation lies. Any tips?

The UK has a real opportunity to be a global leader in digital health, combining strong university research, innovative SMEs and a world-leading National Health Service. We’re also really good at technology transfer – getting the ideas out of academia and into SMEs.

Where we are less good is in helping SMEs deploy those ideas into the NHS. The most important thing as an innovator is to ‘get out of the building’ – visit those who you envisage using your solutions, ask open questions, listen hard and be prepared to have your mind changed. Also, the NHS landscape is extraordinarily difficult to navigate in order to find the right places to deploy innovative solutions, but I think the work of NHSX* and others will improve things here in the coming year. Your local AHSN** can also be incredibly useful.

Added to that is the fact is the NHS’s dated and diverse infrastructure – many trusts are still using paper records! While there have been several ‘false dawns’ with trying to unify infrastructure across the NHS, I do sense that things are now moving in the right direction.

How has Hill Dickinson helped you?

Hill Dickinson has partnered with Rinicare since the beginning of our discussions with MFT on our collaboration. We have leaned on their intimate knowledge of how the NHS works and how best to approach contractual arrangements that mutually benefit both parties. Their advice has been invaluable and it’s hard to see how we would have achieved this agreement without their help.

How do you switch off from work? What’s your recommend listening?

Sean Carroll’s Mindscape podcast gives my brain a thorough workout. In contrast, the Adam Buxton podcast is consistently interesting and funny.

And finally, who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by anyone with a passion to make a positive difference and who isn’t afraid to stand out. As the saying goes, the bravest voice is often the loneliest.

*NHSX is a UK government unit with responsibility for setting national policy and developing best practice for National Health Service technology, digital and data, including data sharing and transparency.
**Academic Health Science Network