Lee Dentith – Transcript
Today we get to speak to Lee Dentith, who is the CEO and founder of Now Healthcare Group. Lee is a serial entrepreneur and one of the keynote speakers in the upcoming HealthTech Asia Forum, which is on the final day of the Startmeup Hong Kong 2017 Festival.
So what is NOW Healthcare Group? Lee defines it as the world’s premiere telehealth organization. Lee has always been a problem solver and back in 2014, after being sick and desperately seeking a GP for treatment, he realized there must be a better solution than waiting for four hours just to have a consultation, and then having to wait even longer just to get a prescription. So he created a company that provides the encryptic technology that allows patients to directly consult with a network of vetted physicians.
But he didn’t stop just there. He went one step further and acquired a pharmacy too. So you could see a GP and get treated in a matter of minutes. He talks about how he went from having no background in medicine, to being on the verge of disrupting a 15 billion dollar industry.
Let’s get on to the show.
Jay: Thank you so much for agreeing to be on this show. It’s really a pleasure to meet you and I really appreciate your time. And I think it’s gonna be great because we’re gonna release it on Monday, ahead of your visit to Hong Kong. So I think it’s gonna get people excited about HealthTech.
Lee: Fantastic. Brilliant. Looking forward to it.
Jay: Excellent. So why don’t we just jump right in because I know we have a little bit of limit on time. So all right. Lee, thank you so much for joining us. And perhaps for our audience out here in Hong Kong and in Asia, if you could just give us a little bit of a background, where you’re from, what you’ve done in your past. I know that you are a serial entrepreneur, so maybe you could give our audience a bit of your background, leading up to what you’re doing these days.
Lee: Okay. So my name’s Lee Dentith, and I’m currently the CEO and founder of NOW Healthcare Group, which incorporates Dr. Now, Now GP, Now Pharmacy, and seven other modular platforms that will go to build a unique app proposition connecting wearable data sets, providing information over to GPs, doctors and specialists as we move forward.
My background is predominantly in a company where I’m a chairman and ex-CEO of a company called Media Agency Group, which is the UK’s largest independent provider of media planning and buyer, and we’ve also built artificially intelligent platforms which can machine-read inquiries that have came into the business and specify correct formats of media which have previously better results to individual sectors. So that’s predominantly my background and I also own a couple of other business in estate agents, technology business, and I’ve also consulted with many companies to advise on strategic positioning to gain sales and penetrate large customer bases.
Jay: Right, okay. So have you ever worked for a large organization for someone else, or from the get-go you were lemonade stands, entrepreneur born and bred?
Lee: No, I worked in multiple jobs when I was a young man, so I’ve done all sorts of different elements but where I found my forte was in business development for companies, and one of the largest companies I worked for was a company called the Lex Group, when at the ripe old age of 22 I was their youngest ever business development director.
Jay: Wow, nice.
Lee: What I did for them obviously is quite different to what I do now which was build and designed infrastructure on mechanical handling. So in the UK, they have a lot of car plants and I worked alongside Jaguar which was previously and Vauxhall and designed infrastructure on mechanical handling because they had four or five different supply plants which were next time, and at that time, going back about 20 years ago, they were working to a real-time scenario where if the production line stopped, some companies could be fined up to 20,000 pound per minute, so I designed mechanical handling which would enable from production line in a real-time process to go straight out onto the core platform where the robots were building the cars with a just-in-time scenario, and people cross-pollinated all the mechanical handling across the multiple sites to ensure that we always had backup facilities and the production never failed due to mechanical handling breaking down. So I was quite involved in cultural changes in business and designing infrastructures.
Jay: Interesting. So at the ripe young age of 22, you were in charge of quite a substantial amount of responsibility. And was it shortly thereafter that you realized that you wanted to try your hand at doing your own thing?
Lee: Yeah, not long after that. I really enjoyed working in the large group but I always felt there was … I think my frustration in life was when you can effectively see a problem and you know you can solve it, and sometimes working in a very large organization, they don’t at the pace and the speed you wish them too. So I’ve always enjoyed being able to take a problem and convert that problem to a solution. And I think when you work with very good people and build a team around you over a long period of time, you actually start enjoying that process. And I think when you’re in control of your own destiny, it becomes a really enjoyable …
Jay: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I’ve done some entrepreneurial stuff in the past. I’m currently doing some entrepreneurial adventures as well, and it’s always much more fulfilling when you know that you have a stake in the company or it’s directly affecting your bottom line. Hard work is no longer about trying to gain recognition or trying to get that next raise or promotion, it’s just about building something great, right?
Lee: Very much so, yeah. When you go home of a night and you’ve got a smile on your face that you’ve solved a customer problem or you’ve helped them provide a solution to their customers, it really gives you a sense of achievement. It’s not always about the money. Obviously when you’re a young person and I’m married with a wife and four children, so my earlier goals in life were very much to achieve a good quality home, a stable base for my family and a good education for the children.
As you become a little bit older and you become more successful, it doesn’t actually become about the money. It becomes about the enjoyment. It becomes about what you are doing as a businessman or a businessperson and I enjoy the latest project, Now Healthcare Group, immensely because it’s not only a solution I encountered myself not being able to see a GP, but it was a solution that my whole family had a problem with. Because where we have an amazing system in the UK which is called the National Health Service, unfortunately our aging population and one of the biggest recessions we’ve been through, everything has cost constraints and there isn’t so much we can do.
So when I effectively started the business, one of the most exciting parts for me was, “Am I solving the problem?” And in the UK we do 370 million appointments per year based on a population of approximately 60+ million. So on average we all go see the doctor between four and five times. So the problem we have in the UK is again, an aging population. They on average, anybody 65 to 70 years old, sees a GP 11 times a year, and our statistics tell us on average 150 million of them appointments are outside three days, and 50 million of them appointments are outside one week.
So when my wife tried to gain an appointment for our young son who was 9 and we were told this couldn’t be achieved because of time constraints and we were told, “Looking after them and them.” The only other option was to attend an A&E, accident and emergency, which I personally didn’t feel my child needed that level of care and sense of urgency, so we self-treated. Great to say it was only a minor ailment and everything went fine, but it got me looking at the whole system of what could I do to improve the process.
And when I started thinking about the element of what is it I needed, and I needed to speak with a GP because that GP was the conduit to me being treated with a prescription and me getting on the road or my family getting on the road to recovery. It was a case of, what was the boundary to see the GP? Did I physically need to leave my location? Did I physically need to travel? And I started thinking about technology and what we do as a business in the media side.
And in the media side, Skype format, quite a lot of interaction with our clients. We know the media well is very much into advertising and connecting youth, and when I started thinking about a longer-term generational change in culture, I thought Skype would be an amazing platform to effectively set up a way to speak to a GP. So that was my initial thoughts going back about 24 months ago, two years ago. But again, the entrepreneur in me thought, well I don’t just want to see a GP because I’m ill. I know I’m ill so what is the point in just seeing a GP? What do I really need to achieve? What is my goal?
So straightaway then I went about setting up my own pharmacy. So I built my own pharmacy called Now Pharmacy. I got that fully NHS accredited and approved and we can dispatch medicines anywhere inside the UK and into Europe under an ECEU directive. And what I really wanted to do is create a solution and build our own architecture from day one via an app, iOS, Microsoft Windows, multiple platforms, where effectively what we could do is we could speak to a doctor live. The doctor could prescribe on the system we’ve built. We could fire an email straight to our own pharmacy. And we could automate the process with artificial intelligence where we would automatically connect with a courier and it would all sync.
And to date I’m pleased to announce what we have done is a person calling up at 8 in the morning, or 10 in the morning, or 11 in the morning, or late in the afternoon, and the fast way we’ve done it to date is from consultation to medicine delivery which is antibiotics has been 27 minutes.
Jay: No way, wow.
Lee: So the system that we wanted to create for me, and I had to think about it in an insular way, of what do I want and what is my ultimate scenario, is that if I wake up at 6 in the morning before I set off for work, I would speak to a doctor and by the time I arrived at my office at half 7 in the morning, medicines would be placed on my desk. And that was the ethos of the business, what we wanted to achieve, around about a year ago which is very much where we’re at.
Jay: So one year ago is when you set off on this journey and between then and now you’ve built all this.
Lee: So that was actually 24 months ago, two years ago. We’ve been operating the platform for over 12 months but-
Lee: But what we’re really building is some of the exciting part of what we call auto-diagnosis which is effectively artificial intelligence and machine learning. So on our future app updates, you will literally be able to type in what you believe is wrong with you and our machine will be able to either forward you directly to a GP or a clinical nurse prescribe it or it will directly place you to a fully automated artificial intelligence machine which can self-prescribe with our chief medical officer and a team of clinicians who built the system auto-enabling those to then prescribe medicines which have been effectively clinically signed off by the system that’s been wrote.
So all GPs obviously go through a prolonged period of training which enables them to go out to the public and speak effectively to the public. We’re taking all their knowledge over thousands of doctors knowledge and getting the machines to learn which is the best possible outcome, which is gonna alleviate the pressure in the UK within the next 12 or 18 months by possibly up to 50 million appointments per year.
We’re then moving into what we call, and it’s very important this, is the medicine adherence. So one we auto-proscribe and once we effectively are able to deliver the medicines, we want to know what happens to you once you start taking these medicines. And we want to get feedback. And we’re effectively building artificial intelligence which is not just the element of … You are gonna have your own, not a chat bot, a stage above that, which is very similar to an avatar which you design. You will design your avatar based on male, female, age group, demographic. You will design this person who you want to interact with which is effectively the machine-learning part of our system.
And the amazing part is, they will ask you on a daily basis, “Have you took your medicines? How you feel?” And then, what we aim to build in the next two or three years is an element of understanding from a big dataset of how the medicines our GPs and our machines prescribed, how well and quicker they got you onto the journey. There’s a very big important part of antibiotic resistance which the world is very worried about. We believe by building our system, it will help manufacturers, it will help health authorities, it will help family units through a self-replicating system which will enable them to actually understand why they’re being proscribed these medicines, what impact they have on their body, and how we go about tailoring concierge medicine to individuals on a really deep level in the next three to five years.
Jay: Man, this is incredible. Lee, this is like a game changer for the whole field of medicine, what you’ve just described. I’ve heard of some similar type ventures. There’s one called Ring a Doc in the states which is just a slice of what you’re trying to do here, and it’s basically, if you have an ailment or a problem, there’s a network of doctors that are offline that you can call and leave a message to, then they’ll call you back within a certain amount of time, maybe 24 hours, and then they will try to help you out.
And then I’ve also heard of real-time chatting where you can talk to a nurse or a doctor, but what you’re just described that you’re going after here is the big fish. It’s basically the entire industry. You’re gonna disrupt the entire industry if you can pull this off. What amazes me, Lee, is that … First of all, I have to ask, do you have sort of background in medicine at all?
Jay: Okay, so that in and of itself is astonishing because for you to just be like, “Okay, this is my problem, I’m going to find a solution. I’m just gonna go after perhaps one of the most complicated fields out there and I’m gonna tackle this.” That’s unbelievable, so congratulations to you.
Jay: Very brave of you. And then in the last 24 months to piece together what you have is just incredible and so obviously there’s a lot of questions that I have, but one of the first ones is essentially, how do you deal with the quality control side, the legal liability side? I’m from the US and the first that doctors now … Their biggest qualm and complaint is you can’t even practice proper medicine anymore because you’re afraid that you’re going to get sued, right? So how have you approached that whole subject?
Lee: So the great thing with us is the NHS has been a bastion of worldwide medicine, so we’re very, very proud to be associated with them. So we’re on the digital innovation panel. We’re the only people in the United Kingdom who operate our service who work with NHS innovation. One of the key things for us is that in the UK the NHS is quite heavily regulated by an organization called the Care Quality Commission and we’ve worked with the Care Quality Commission very, very heavily over the last 18 months in demonstrating the quality approach that we’ve taken.
Now we would not be successful and we would not be able to grow without the amazing general practitioners that we have in the UK, and I’m proud to say that we work with and we’ve had over 1,000 who have effectively wanted to work on our platform and interact with ourselves. So the great think is about the UK is all of our GPs are what we call self-insured, so they self-indemnify against their practice as such. So the great thing is for us is that we employ them on a self-employ basis, and the great thing is when our customers … We act as a conduit in between, providing the technology for a customer to speak with the GP and that’s how we would effectively be able to operate around the world.
So one of our great clients that we’ve got is a company called Thomas Cook which is a well known tour operator. So they look after in excess of a million people per annum who travel around the world, who holiday from the UK. And we have anybody who’s got any problems through their insurance, we become their first point of call. So they can download our app, speak with one of the UK-registered GPs, and we can provide a prescription to anywhere inside the EC or EU. If we have an operational base there employing GPs in certain regional geographical locations then we can also prescribe in them jurisdictions.
Some of the other elements of what we do is we actually send advice notes so when they then speak to a regional doctor or GP, they will be able to see in quite a transparent manner that they’ve spoken to a UK GP, this is what their diagnosis was, and can you help on the journey. Because one of the issues that could happen is they could be a in remote-based location and there could be language barriers.
So one of the most amazing things that we’re building and we do anticipate to have it by the end of this year is our avatars and our artificial intelligence app, when people download it is it will be able to detect geolocation which we can already do, but one of the really exciting parts is that it will auto-translate into 250 different languages and dialects, even down to dialect level. So when you are typing in and communicating about what your systems are and how you believe you should go on that journey, we can auto-sense and communicate with you, thus taking away the language barriers.
Jay: Wow, okay. Then that just opens up a whole new … Basically unlocks the rest of the world. So my next question for you, Lee, is there’s just so many global implications now down the line for you guys to scale this business. Have you spent any amount of time in Hong Kong or Asia before?
Lee: Yes, I was over with the World Health Tourism Authority and we went over to … We were in Hong Kong a couple of days and then we went over to Hi Dan Bao. Really fantastic trip.
Jay: The reason I ask you is because Hong Kong is going to love your company and what you can provide, because, and I’ll tell you exactly why. So, Chinese people, and I’m not Chinese so I have to be careful when I say this, but my wife is and she’ll vouch for me, but basically Chinese people are funny in that they are very paranoid. So for the smallest thing, they’ll go and see a doctor, even if they get a little scratch, or they wake up with a little bit of a sore throat or scratchy throat or a little bit of a headache, they’ll just immediately drop whatever they’re doing and they’ll go see a doctor. And so you can just imagine the amount of backlog and inefficiency that’s created because of that. And so I can see your application of your company and your app just being hugely beneficial to a market like Asia where people are borderline hypochondriac a lot because they-
Lee: It’s amazing because in the UK for example, 86% plus of people already effectively what we call “doctor Google.” So 86% of people will already look on the internet and try and see or self-diagnose. So when they walk into the GP, this is in the UK, there’s quite a lot of angst at the moment with a lot of the GPs we work with is because unfortunately the public now believe that they actually know a little bit better than the current GPs who’ve got 20 years worth of real life practice. So that is a big challenge for effectively the whole worldwide population.
The more people who get access to the internet, the more information that’s uploaded to the internet, this is why a solution like ours which is effectively governed by the CQC, highly regulated and only uses MRCGP or RCGP, fully qualified GPs who are helping us build the system will add so much weight to the worried well. Because a big part of the society that we are which is the on-the-go society is that we demand things straight away and we want answers.
I mean, again, we talk about my history. Twenty years ago I would not have dreamed of spending three or four pounds on a cup of coffee, or two pound fifty on a bottle of water from a shop, but nowadays for convenience I’m very much happy literally walking into a shop, grabbing what I need … I mean, you’ll probably know this yourself, but if I wanted a pair of new pants or shoes for tomorrow for an urgent meeting, I would be very shocked if I ordered before 6 o’clock and they weren’t delivered to my door by 9 o’clock. That’s the type of society that we are now and that we’re moving ahead with: the on-the-go society.
So our app will enable people to answer small queries straight away from grazes and again, one of the big things we’re working on is where people can take pictures of melanoma, skin cancers, and auto-diagnose again through AI. So there’s a lot we want to do, but we believe we can act as a big conduit to a lot of good services that are already out there and become quite a universal app which will help people along their journeys of the worried well.
Jay: The worst, absolute worst, part about going to get your physical exam is that waiting period afterwards where you’re just sitting there wondering when the doctor’s gonna call and hoping that it’s all clear, right? So I can totally relate to when you say people will pay up for sure to get their results overnight or whatever.
Lee: Some of the most amazing things will happen in the next three to five years. A quick side issue to what we’re doing right now is that we will be working with manufacturers so there’s been recently a device launched where if you breathe into it, it will be able to detect all sorts of cancers because obviously the pathogens pass through the lungs and so on and this is where it comes out with the breath.
So if you think about that technology now, you think about how 20 years ago how big mobile phones are, if you take that thought, let’s think about the next three to five years, you will be able to brush your teeth with an artificial intelligent toothbrush and it will be able to detect things inside your mouth, inside your breath, and it will be able to automatically send us a diagnosis and let us know on a daily basis if we need to interact with you or our doctors need to send you for tests.
We’re gonna move away very much from a wearable technology into a non-evasive … There’s an amazing technology in the UK that’s just been trialed which will effectively, through radio frequencies, read pulses as people are sitting there from cameras. So when you think about the connected home in the next three to five years, we will be able to effectively pre-diagnose any ailments that you may not even know that you’ve got by giving you a friendly text saying, “We’ve detected something. We’d like to have a chat with you. When is convenient?” And that to me is what our real goal is. As I say, I’m married with three children and a lot of this is borne out of the fact of what legacy can I leave for my children. And that’s what I really want to achieve.
Jay: Absolutely. Okay, Lee, so what milestones are you looking forward to in 2017 that you guys want to achieve as a company?
Lee: We aim to have 25 million users on our platform, which we very much believe is achievable. We intend to have our artificially intelligent app through the self-diagnosis scenario completely up and running with 250 different languages and dialects. They’re some of our high level aims and achievements that we believe … And one of the key things to this is multiple jurisdictions operating with either retail partners, because we’ve built the system … That’s why we effectively built our own pharmacy, so we knew we could be a technology that would be seamless, and we could now plug that into health authorities or retailers seamlessly. And we’d like to see this in as many countries as possible over the coming 12 months because our main aim is to be able to put a smile on peoples’ faces to know that when they need instant care, we’re the people there for them.
Jay: Wow. Those are amazing goals and I really hope … I’m gonna follow you, Lee, I’m gonna follow up on you next year and see how you’re doing. But I’m not gonna be surprised if you do achieve them and just blow right through them given the pace that you’ve been on. Lee, thank you so much for joining us. I have to look to wrap up now. Final question is, where can people find you, follow you, learn a little bit more about the great stuff that you’re doing at Now Healthcare Group?
Lee: So we own the domain www.drnow.com. Our older website is nowhealthcaregroup.com and you will see after I’ve been to your event if the next couple of weeks we’ll have a complete new website so at the event, HealthTech Asia, we’ll be looking to launch our new website and demonstrate to you our private platform, business-to-business-to-consumer and our NHS for the UK platform. So we’ll be able to show everybody at the event some of these fantastic developments that we’ve built and I will look forward to connecting with people through the journey.
Jay: Wow, that’s amazing. So guys listening, so Lee will be in town in Hong Kong for the HealthTech Asia 2017 forum which is part of the Startmeup Hong Kong festival. You can go get your tickets at healthtechasia.com and he will be speaking and demonstrating his new stuff all on Friday, January 20, so definitely come by and say hello. Lee, thank you so much for joining us, and I’m looking forward to connecting with you when you’re in town next week.
Lee: I’m looking forward to meeting with yourself, Jay.
Jay: Thank you so much.
Lee: Thank you. Buh-bye now.
Jay: All right, take care.
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