“Do something that you are passionate about.” — CEO Q+A: Full Health Medical Co-founder & Emergency Medicine Consultant Dr. Ann Shortt

By Business & Finance
26 September 2018
Full Health Medical Co-founder & Emergency Medicine Consultant Dr. Ann Shortt

In our next CEO Q&A, Full Health Medical Co-founder & Emergency Medicine Consultant Dr. Ann Shortt speaks about preventative medicine, hiring developers and leaps of faith. 

Q. What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

My main goal is to expand the business beyond the UK and Ireland. The key priority is to maintain the same clinical governance, clear reporting and medical safety netting as we grow.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

Letting go!! We have grown our business to the 2 founding members (me & my husband in 2011) to a fantastic team of 12 people today. Our growth necessitated this expansion but with the larger team came a whole lot of new brains, new ideas and thoughts – which add so much to the company – our product, our delivery and our vision. I have learned that there comes a point when being open to new ideas requires a leap of faith – but, to date, probably because we have surrounded ourselves with very talented individuals – they have always worked out.

Q. How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

In truth – that’s the easy part because they are a very smart motivated bunch already! I think that when you work in preventative medicine what you do really matters, and we can all see that there are people still alive because of their team effort. There is no better motivator really. That said, strong coffee has its place too!

Q. What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?

To cut through all the “noise”. Unfortunately, at the moment we are seeing a raft of people in the Medical software space and online with little or no medical experience. This is, at the very least, confusing for those in need of medical advice and services.

Everybody has something to bring to the table, but those providing advice need to be clear about their experience and qualifications – people need to know what this advice is based on.

We are concentrating on communication – on stressing the importance of getting advice from accredited professionals with a proven track record in delivery.

Q. What new trends are emerging in your industry?

I trained in Emergency Medicine, and also qualified as a GP, but I strongly believe that there is not enough emphasis placed on the impact of poor food choices, lack of sleep and stress on health and wellbeing.

At Full Health Medical we have always linked the medical test results with the food, exercise and lifestyle choices and I can see that the world of wellness and traditional medicine are starting to intertwine. That’s great to see.

Q. Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

Less noise. More medicine!

I believe there is great strength in combining traditional “normal “medicine with more alternative ideas and new concepts around food, however, everything should be subject to the same research criteria.

Q. As an employer are you finding any skills gaps in the market?

It’s hard to find good experienced software developers, when you find them you hold onto them!

Q. How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?

We started in a recession, and in a way, it helped. Everything was automatically bootstrapped and there was a sense that if you could survive as a business through the economic crisis you could would really thrive in the recovery. Thankfully that turned out to be true.

Q. How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?

We haven’t really felt the effects yet. It has definitely made us more conscious of developing larger markets, as a reliance on the UK market will make any business vulnerable. Enterprise Ireland have been a fantastic support with practical help.

Q. How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

Medically, success is the (sometimes alarming) number of non-communicable diseases that we discovered in and communicated effectively to patients. These early detections make a huge difference to people and when you can do that at large scale it feels like a massive success. Key to this is the clear communication of results. A lot of people still leave hospitals and clinics without a basic understanding of what they need to change to improve their health. Our reporting tool is changing that.

From a business viewpoint, success is seeing a project that started as a copybook exercise grow to a large team with global expansion plans. I still can’t quite get my head around it!

Q. What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

Do something that you are passionate about… if you don’t fundamentally like what you’re doing, or appreciate its value, you just won’t be able stomach the amount of time and head space it takes. When you are really passionate about your work it doesn’t even seem like work.

Q. What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

Growing the team and seeing our product develop. Medically, there were a huge number of early detections of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Sometimes that means a better outcome, a quicker cardiac stent or less invasive surgery and sometimes it is simply life-saving.

Q. What’s next for your company?

Expanding into new markets, growing the team further and bringing new features onboard. The ultimate aim is that everybody gets a full understanding of their own health – what they were tested for, why they were tested, and what they need to do about it. It sounds simple, but the current health service often leaves people at sea. Clear personal medical information is critical to affect change in people.

Q. What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2018?

In 2018 we have seen a lot of projects coming together. We have an efficient, fluid process of facilitating medicals from the online appointments, to the medical workflow and the patient’s end reporting tool. In 2018 we started to link this with the patient’s own health data and as wearables and wellness monitors become more common place we linked the two together. This is how medicine should be – linking people’s understanding of the medical jargon with how it impacts them in real life – day-to-day. For instance, your waist circumference, sugar levels, cardiac risk blood tests and blood pressure are all affected by the number of steps you take!

Q. Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

Setting the standard for preventative medicine and health and wellness monitoring.

People should automatically expect to have a clear, personal, written interpretation of any medical test result and they should then be able to tie that together with their fitness and wellness devices. Imagine, for example, if everybody with high blood pressure could tie together the information about their cholesterol and blood pressure readings with their sleep quality, food intake and stress levels. This needs to be the new accepted norm. This is why we started in the first place.

When you are really passionate about your work it doesn’t even seem like work.


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