Dr Owain Rhys Hughes: ‘3 vital lessons I’ve learned as a healthtech founder’

In this article, Dr Owain Rhys Hughes, CEO and Founder of Cinapsis, explains his journey from surgeon to CEO.

When I joined the NHS as an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon, I had no idea I was treading a path that would eventually lead me from medicine to entrepreneurship. Fast forward a few years and, having founded Cinapsis to build a solution to the outdated communication tools in use across the NHS, my role has transformed beyond recognition.

From surgeon to startup founder, I’ve learned a lot along the way; but it turns out, some of the biggest lessons I was taught as a doctor have helped me immeasurably as an entrepreneur, too.

By sharing the three most important lessons that have accompanied me across my career so far, I hope they might also help those taking the first steps into the world of healthtech innovation.


1. Find the root cause of the ailment you’re trying to treat


A crucial lesson for any doctor is that symptoms must never be taken at face value. Instead, you must get to the absolute root of the problem that needs addressing. For healthtech entrepreneurs, the same is true. When building a tech solution it’s crucial to fully examine and understand the full picture of the issue you’re trying to solve.

At Cinapsis, we’ve found that speaking to end-users from day one is essential to help identify the frustrations our product needs to address. Armed with this knowledge, we’ve been able to  intuitively  design and tailor our platform to ensure it successfully addresses clinicians’ nuanced needs.


2. Put people front and centre


Just as it’s important to fully examine a patient’s underlying symptoms, as a doctor it’s essential to take into account the individual before you. Every patient is different, which means their needs and treatment are also invariably unique.

For any new tech innovation to be successful, it’s just as important to prioritise the individual. This means considering your end-users’ needs and experience at every stage of product design. No matter how great a solution is, if it’s tricky to use, requires lengthy onboarding or doesn’t easily sync with existing processes or systems being used, it’s unlikely to be adopted long-term.


3. Collaboration and partnership are key


Working together with my NHS colleagues when treating patients is pivotal to ensuring they receive the right care at the right time. Similarly, working in close partnership with others has formed the foundation of our work at Cinapsis.

Not only is close collaboration within your own team vitally important to ensure everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals, building strong partnerships with your clients is also fundamental to success. At Cinapsis, we work closely with our NHS partners to ensure our platform is continually tailored and evolved to work effectively for the clinicians it’s designed to support.



Although I may not have known it at the time, the lessons I was learning as a medic have undoubtedly helped me just as much as a healthtech entrepreneur. From investigating the details of a problem to putting people first and collaborating closely with others, these are by far the most important skills I think every healthtech founder should put into use.