‘This is obviously a terrible idea. Real doctors don’t quit their jobs to build an app!’ said an unnamed professor. ‘If that’s your decision, I strongly advise that you NOT apply for such a prestigious post again.’
Let’s rewind a few steps. Medicine is one of the few degrees in which there’s absolutely no doubt as to what you’re supposed to do when you finally get those long coveted letters after your name. So imagine the reaction when you declare that, after six years of blood, sweat and tears (literally), you’re quitting your job to work on a tech startup.
It’s almost fair to say that we deserved the ridicule. So what manner of madness overcame us…and why?
You’ve heard it before. In the UK, the NHS is breaking at the seams. The £350m/week that the Brexit leaders promised us hasn’t materialised. Meanwhile, the US pays twice as much for healthcare as any other rich country.
At the same time, technology has demonstrated its ability to disrupt markets and lower costs for users across the board. Why hasn’t it done the same for healthcare? The answer is complicated, but I believe a big part of it to be lack of ambition and the willingness to take risks.
As a medical student, I spent a great deal of time in the consultation room with patients, and one key insight that I’ve consistently observed is that patients across the spectrum really do want to change their behaviour, to live healthier and more fulfilling lives. The difficult bit, is that we as doctors, do very little to support them to make these positive behaviour change. Simply knowing more won’t necessarily help us live healthier lives.
Enter ‘digital therapeutics’, the idea that software, namely apps, can be used to encourage behaviour change. This is important because, in the twenty-first century, your own behaviour is the greatest threat to your health and there is no pill to help you change your behaviour. Cigarette smoking is perhaps the best example of an avoidable behaviour that most people actually want to change.
In fact, over 70% of the one billion smokers around the world want to quit smoking. Yet the long-term success rate is awfully low, at just 3%, because most people don’t have access to high quality therapy, designed to change how they think about smoking.
We’ve all heard the classic proverb, “necessity is the mother of invention”. The only way we’ll overcome the greatest challenges of our age, whether it’s climate change, curing cancer or creating equal access to healthcare, is to invent our way out of it.
Or to put it another way, the surefire way to disaster is that we keep doing more of what we’re supposed to do.
I believe in lofty and ambitious missions. Something so simple and far-fetched, that it almost serves as an inspirational rallying cry to get everyone pointed and working in the same direction. Whether it’s to organise the world’s information (Google), make humans an interplanetary species (SpaceX) or build Earth’s most customer-centric company (Amazon).
So what’s our mission? It’s simple really. We want to make therapy, powered by technology, that’s better than a human and easily accessible to anyone who needs it.
The master plan? We start with smoking (Quit Genius) and focus on serving our users with the best possible product before anything else. We constantly hone our approach to deliver a more personalised and evidence-based therapy experience to smokers at a revolutionary low cost.
And then we expand from there, applying our technology to other areas where therapy is highly effective, from other addictions to wider mental health.
And it all starts with the Big Hairy Audacious Goal to help 100,000 people quit smoking.
Here’s what 100,000 people quitting smoking looks like1:
As I write this, Quit Genius has already helped over 24,000 people quit smoking so far this year. What’s more, we’ve created a live progress bar on the blog that will automatically update every day with the latest number.
We’re launching a new blog with impactful content on tips to help you quit, success stories some of our users and exciting new updates!
We’ll also share an inside scoop of the highs and the lows of our journey to help 100,000 people quit smoking. So join us on our journey today – we’d love to have you on board!
 So how do we know when someone quits smoking using Quit Genius? It’s simple really. We only count someone as a quitter, when they check-in with the app as having been smoke free for more than 4 weeks, which is the medical definition of a quitter. If they relapse, we won’t count them until they’re smoke free for at least 4 weeks.
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