Consultant Neurosurgeon, Professor of Practice Brain Injury and pre-hospital care specialist by background, this London-based doctor now strives to improve response time in medical emergencies.
Professor Mark Wilson has co-founded tech platform and community GoodSAM (Good Smartphone Activated Medics), an emergency alerting and dispatching system that aims to connect those in need with those who have the skills to provide critical help before the emergency services arrive.
Can you tell me a bit more about GoodSAM?
GoodSAM is both a tech platform and a community. First, GoodSAM is a platform that allows those who are trained in basic life support, like CPR, to be alerted to cardiac arrests and other nearby emergencies. In my experience, ambulances get to people quickly but often too late. For example, if a patient’s airway was opened a little earlier then, in some patients, they may have survived. In London, an immediately life threatening emergency, an ambulance usually arrives to the casualty within 8 minutes – but that might not be fast enough. For a patient who has lost their airway, or is in cardiac arrest, minutes count (for every minute without CPR, survival falls by 10%). Therefore, getting someone at the scene ahead of the ambulance can make all the difference. With GoodSAM, volunteers trained in basic and advanced life support across the country are alerted to nearby emergencies, and arrive at the emergency within a life-saving 1-2 minutes.
How did you transition from practicing doctor to founder?
I started out as an air ambulance doctor.
We started GoodSAM 4 – 4 1/2 years ago. For me, it wasn’t exactly a transition. I still work full-time as a clinician and academic. I work for GoodSAM part time with our team. I’m always busy doing something.
Where do you see the future of telemedicine?
It will be huge. It will change the way we do everything in medicine. One example is that telemedicine will better advise the triage process, prioritising patients more appropriately. Telemedicine will thus improve care quality and lead to efficiency gains.
What is your business model at GoodSAM?
GoodSAM is fortunate to be backed by the Cabinet office through Nesta and has partnered with many organisations including ambulance services across the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
Legality is often a big problem for medical apps. How do you legally protect yourself?
Responders provide CPR and other services to those in life-threatening situations. The benefit vastly outweighs costs. In the UK, the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Act affords some protection to those carrying out Good Samaritan acts.
Can you further comment on your experience interacting with governing bodies?
We work with the public-sector ambulance services. Some are forward thinking with the ability to horizon scan. Other organisations are swamped clinically and financially and aren’t in a position to take advantage of innovation.
Based on your experiences, what advice would you have for future medical entrepreneurs?
Do your medical job well. Get to understand your medical job. You will be able to innovate properly in the right area this way. After leaving medical school without practicing, you might have the name “doctor” but you have little experience with day-to-day operations in the health sector.
After leaving medical school without practicing, you might have the name “doctor” but you have little experience with day-to-day operations in the health sector.
How important is the medical background to where you are today?
100% important. My medical background underlies everything about me – my clinical job, my academic work and pre-hospital innovation (e.g. GoodSAM). There is absolutely no boundary.