The founders and their story
Dr Karen Morton the Medical Director of Dr Morton’s explains her own story.
“I founded Dr Morton’s because I believe that there is a better way to deliver medical care using modern technology to empower patients to solve simple medical problems for themselves. //- It isn’t rocket science. A phone or the internet is all that is needed, but it needs to be delivered in a safe and reliable way by a doctor that cares with the right information in front of them to deliver the best patient outcome.
The idea initially came about because patients or their daughters wanted to speak to me by phone or email. This was often because they were travelling abroad and needed a bit of advice. I soon realised that I could do the same for them from home or at work and with a little help, busy people could solve minor medical issues without interrupting their work or leisure.
My research showed that 70% of people sitting in a doctor’s surgery didn’t really need to be there because their problems could already have been sorted out on the phone. More than this, I also discovered that women take 32% more time off work than men and that over 70% of the people sitting in the surgery were women. I decided to do something to empower all patients but women in the workplace in particular by being the first to put gynaecologists as well as GPs directly online.
I believe passionately in the NHS and have worked within the health service for over 30 years. At present the health service is drowning and, by not giving up my day job, I intend to do everything I can to prevent this. Despite good ideas and intentions, the NHS cannot adopt simple technology or change itself fast enough. Doctors are overwhelmed with the everyday task of helping a growing number of patients. Perhaps one day the NHS will be able to adopt the health technology that Dr Morton’s has developed to cut outpatient queues and locum costs in hospitals as well as making it easier to reach a GP. In the meantime by providing our service we already help take some of the stress out of the NHS.
I feel privileged to have had an excellent medical education and to be surrounded by lots of brilliant doctors. When I have a medical problem myself it is simple to ask for advice. I do not have to wait for that advice. Why shouldn’t everyone has access to a doctor when they need one?”
John Wilkes the CEO of Dr Morton’s explains how the idea came about.
“I co-founded the business because I want my daughter to have the same chances as my son and I believe there is a better way. Karen is the doctor and I am the patient advocate. I am now completely outnumbered by doctors. Adding their clinical expertise to my own business experience is what enables me to make it happen. //- Sitting at my desk at HSBC Samuel Montagu almost 20 years ago and in need of a doctor I called tried to call my GP. It wasn’t easy. I had client work to complete with an M&A deal to announce via the Stock Exchange Regulatory News the next day. I asked why the doctor couldn’t come to the phone. I thought I knew what was the matter with me. If he couldn’t come to the phone then please could I have his email address? Neither were available. Wasn’t I paying for this service? If I treated my clients like that I would be fired.
I decided that there had to be a better way. I started to investigate. If Peter Wood could make insurance available via the phone at Direct Line and then Churchill, and First Direct could do it for HSBC bank online as well as by phone, then why couldn’t a doctor? Medical advice online was the final frontier.
Roll forward to 2013 and amazingly still no doctors online. In April 2013 NHS111 was launched. Unfortunately the calls took 15 minutes to complete with an operator not a doctor (and still do) and it turns out that after 15 minutes almost two thirds of callers are told they need to speak to a doctor.
I can see why the doctors find it efficient to have the patients queue up outside their door but what about the cost to the employer of all that time taken off work? The economist and chartered accountant within me calculates the net cost to British industry at £5billion.
If the Government hasn’t got the money to sort our basic health needs at work, there is already an incentive for British industry to help those hard working employees at work. It will cut costs through absenteeism and also help boost company sales and profit through the wellbeing and productivity of those present at work but in need of medical advice. That’s why I am now approaching the big employers and letting them know!”
The Founder Doctors
To launch a HealthTech service like this takes good doctors. Dr Morton’s has more than 70 entrepreneurial Founder Doctors that have given generously of their time to found Dr Morton’s – the medical helpline©. These are no ordinary doctors. They are the top of the UK medical profession. One from every major medical discipline, a dozen gynaecologists and are large number of experienced GPs each of whom believe passionately in the NHS but believe that there has to be a better way.
Clinicians want evidence of better patient outcomes before they will adopt new technology. HealthTech ventures that lack clinical input from the start tend to fail. Dr Morton’s is unique in the support that it has from the medical profession.
Dr Morton’s® is the online doctor service that the doctors recommend.
Dr Morton’s Trust
10 per cent of the shares initially held by the Founders were placed in the hands of Dr Morton’s Trust which, through Dr Karen Morton, has the power to distribute any gains made from its shareholding in Dr Morton’s Limited to good causes. The first chosen charity of Dr Morton’s Trust is Blue Sky which assists rehabilitation of offenders in the community.