Dr Rosie Scott is a consultant musculoskeletal radiologist at University Hospitals Sussex and co-founder of digital health technology specialist, Definition Health. She is a trustee of the Gam Med charity (The Gambia Medical UK Partnership) and actively volunteers in The Gambia, helping to support and train local medics in west Africa.
OPN: As a consultant radiologist, could you tell us more about your job and training background in this field?
RS: Having undertaken my basic medical training as a junior doctor, I started on the northwest London radiology training scheme based at the Hammersmith and Charing Cross hospitals.
In my second year though, I spent a year in Perth, Australia where I did a research fellowship in gastroradiology (virtual colonoscopy) where I learnt to appreciate the value in screening for disease. I also developed an increasing interest in musculoskeletal radiology.
On my return to England, I completed my radiology specialist training (Fellow of Royal College of Radiology) in Kings College, London. As my home is on the south coast, I was lucky enough to have my consultancy based at Brighton, where I have also come to experience the joys of sea swimming.
Having been a consultant for over a decade, I have had plenty of experience of the challenges of the NHS, both as an employee but also over the years as a patient myself and as a daughter, mother, and friend to patients of the NHS. I knew that the health service was under great demand with ever increasing expectations.
With this in mind, I became co-founder of a digital technology company called Definition Health to engage and empower patients in their peri-surgical journey and, importantly, to provide support to the hardworking and skilled staff. This was achieved by improving communication of important health information between patients and the hospital teams by digital processes and minimising paperwork. This total surgery solution supports standardisation of pre-assessments as well as enabling monitoring of patients after their surgery.
OPN: Tell us more about how your digital health technology is enabling remote care to orthopaedic patients in The Gambia?
RS: Earlier this year, I joined our team of Gam Med volunteers, including orthopaedic consultants from Sussex, in The Gambia. I was able to introduce and train local medics on our digital platform, LifeBox pre-operative health assessment (ePOA) app, which is used in NHS trusts.
Gambian medical teams are now using it to facilitate secure information sharing between remote rural clinics and the specialist consultant in the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) in the capital of Banjul.
A full picture of a patient’s health, using photos, videos, and audio can be communicated to the specialist consultant, so they can provide appropriate advice remotely or facilitate face-to-face consultation where clinically needed. In many cases, this means patients avoid lengthy journeys to the teaching hospital and, through uploading of clinical instructions onto the platform from the hospital to the clinics, educational resources can be shared.
OPN: What could your technology mean for the patient experience, management strategies and surgical outcomes looking forward?
RS: By western standards, healthcare provision in The Gambia is different culturally and often limited by infrastructure. Many patients with injuries use traditional medicine and healers, and fractures are often bound with sticks which result in malunion or non-union leading to permanent deformity. The resulting deformities would pose a significant orthopaedic challenge to reconstruct the limb in the western world, let alone in The Gambia. Adding to this challenge, many patients will travel over 100 miles to EFSTH with these injuries without an initial consultation or appointment – often leading to overwhelmed clinics, delayed treatment and in many cases, disappointment for patients.
Now, with the aid of the LifeBox ePOA, the patient experience will be greatly improved through step-by-step engagement of the patient in their hospital care nearer to their home, from the initial remote consultation and information sharing (e.g., medication list, discharge notes from other hospitals) with the specialists at the teaching hospital through to communication back to the rural clinics with advice and educational materials.
This is the first national virtual fracture clinic in the world to run off a single digital platform and already data is showing that it will prevent 50% of patients having to travel long distances for treatment.
OPN: What’s the next step in your work for Definition Health?
RS: The next steps are to support our hospitals here at home in the UK in implementing our platform into their everyday work. This will assist multidisciplinary team working, off-load clinical staff of admin duties, and support them to do their jobs with `fit for purpose’ technology. Last year, Definition Health was one of only 12 companies to join the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) programme to support recovery post COVID, so we hope to scale across the NHS and continue to offer solutions to the NHS’ most pressing needs. Globally, I hope our technology will continue to bring the greatest benefit where it is most needed.
OPN: How do you think the future looks within the field of orthopaedic surgery and what are your predictions for the year ahead?
RS: I think the next couple of years will be testing for the NHS as it works through the waiting lists. Definition Health, however, will be able to support this through organising patient wait lists, identifying patients who would benefit for health optimisation prior to surgery and ultimately to support the best clinical outcome for a patient after surgery. In this way, a longer wait before surgery can be used positively to pre-habilitate patients. I predict that, working together as a team, with support where needed by relevant digital technology, the waiting lists can be well managed and as our Definition Health team mantra goes, ‘no patient will be left behind’.
OPN: As a woman working in a traditionally male environment, do you think enough is being done to implement diversity, equality, and inclusion within the field of Research and Development? And who has inspired you?
RS: I think we all have our own challenges throughout our careers which may at times be compounded by equality and diversity issues. However, I have always tried to work hard, seek advice where I need to and surround myself with colleagues who I trust, and these things seem to have worked for me in my career and helped me to pursue areas of interest.
Dr Mary Roddie and Dr Ruth Williamson, consultant radiologists, have been great female role models for me and encouraged me when I faltered. And I will always be grateful to Mr James Gibbs, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at University Hospitals Sussex, who has been inspirational in his charity work in orthopaedics in The Gambia.