LDC Top 50 2019
Liz Ashall-Payne, a former speech and language therapist, built ORCHA to review and recommend the world’s most effective healthcare apps. “My mission is to help people with manageable health conditions everywhere stay healthy and well through digital health,” she says.
In just four years, Liz has secured country-wide deals in Ireland and Holland and works with 25pc of the NHS; ORCHA is already significantly reducing patients’ need for drugs or further intervention. Her passion to help people live healthier lives convinced former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy to invest when ORCHA was just an idea. She says: “People tell me we’ve achieved so much but we’re just scratching the surface.”
What’s your own personal ambition?
Thousands of healthcare professionals are using our apps, predominantly around mental health. We are working nationally with the NHS and we’re in a couple of countries, but I want to be global. My mission is to help people with manageable health conditions everywhere stay healthy and well through digital health. This could be a game-changer in the third world, where everyone has access to a mobile phone but doesn’t have basic healthcare.
What’s your USP?
We use technology to review heath apps very quickly. We look at everything from data security to clinical validity. A report is generated at the end of the process and sent to the developer, so they can make improvements. The apps that we approve can be added to bespoke app libraries, commissioned by towns or healthcare organisations. Users can use these libraries to find the best apps for their patients. They can prescribe one for stress or anxiety or sleep problems, and we’ll show if it’s been downloaded. Our system has a 71pc success rate – most people who receive apps from us will use them.
What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?
Before ORCHA, I’d never built a product or done fundraising. I had never taken a product to market. My background was not in growth companies; I was a clinician and then I was a system director in the NHS and then I had my own consultancy. This is why having Sir Terry Leahy and Bill Currie [founder of the William Currie Group] as mentors has been so important. One of their key principles is that, as an entrepreneur, you should always surround yourself with great people. You have to open to learning and be realistic about your skills. I knew that what I was trying to achieve with ORCHA had legal repercussions, so I wanted a lawyer by my side. My COO and co-founder came on board a few months after we got our initial funding. His background is law, and he has also been a chief executive in the NHS, he’s been a major asset to the business.