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BMJ invests in health tech startup

Healthcare knowledge provider BMJ has acquired a minority interest in health tech startup, Patchwork (formerly known as Locum Tap), to help hospitals better manage demand for NHS locum staff, it has announced.

BMJ invests in health tech startup

Patchwork is a digital platform, founded in 2016 by Anas Nader and Jing Ouyang, two NHS doctors with a passion for technology and innovation.

Patchwork connects hospital trusts directly with locum clinicians, enabling them to book shifts in real-time without having to rely on agencies, so helping them better manage staffing levels and improve patient safety.

Many trusts have used agency staff primarily to help them manage peaks and troughs in demand, but some have now become reliant on agency staff for this.

Figures show that NHS spending on agency staff increased from £2.2 billion in 2009/10 to £3.7 billion in 2015/16, although recent progress has been made in cutting around £700 million from agency staff spending to around £3 billion in 2016/17.

The decision to invest in Patchwork is part of BMJ’s focus on achieving its vision of ‘A Healthier World’ by embracing innovative ideas, products, and new technologies.

Through the BMJ New Ventures initiative, BMJ works with healthcare startups and doctor entrepreneurs who share the company’s values to help solve problems and improve healthcare.

Commenting on the move, Anca Babor, BMJ’s Strategy Director, said: "We are excited to be supporting the talented Patchwork team in their next stage of growth. Patchwork is an innovative digital solution which will make a great contribution to the future of the healthcare service through improved patient care and increased efficiencies for the NHS. Patchwork stood out with their comprehensive approach to this complex challenge.

“This strategic partnership will strengthen our position in the medical careers space and enhance our digital offer. We look forward to similar future investments that will bring innovative ideas into BMJ.”

Dr Anas Nader, CEO and Founder of Patchwork, added: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with BMJ, a trusted brand with an excellent track record of supporting healthcare professionals throughout their career. We are confident that with BMJ’s support, Patchwork will continue to make a positive impact on the NHS and its dedicated healthcare workers.”