TechRound recently had a chat with Dr Sai Lakshimi, one of the founders of the new and hugely innovative and exciting app that may hold the key to making prescription services much more accessible and manageable; Echo.
Dr Sai Lakshmi, CEO and co-founder of Echo, received his DPhil in Engineering Science from the University of Oxford after completing a Masters in the same discipline at Imperial College, London. From there, Sai went on to work at Apple and Bain & Company before co-founding Echo. Stephen Bourke, CXO and co-founder of Echo, successfully launched Lloyds Pharmacy Online Doctor in Ireland and Australia prior to partnering with Sai. He holds a Masters degree in Marketing from Vlerick Business School and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Philosophy from University College Dublin.
Hi Sai. So what is Echo and what does it do?
Echo is an app for ordering and managing repeat prescriptions. We help people by telling them when to take medication and how to take it in line with their doctor’s recommendations. Aimed at getting more people to take their prescription medication in the way they are meant to, Echo is dedicated to enhancing the health and quality of life of people living with chronic conditions.
Our aim is to help people using repeat prescriptions manage their own health more effectively and more efficiently. Enabling our users to order the medication they need and have it delivered directly to their door at no additional cost, Echo facilitates repeat prescription ordering and saves time for people with long-term health conditions, as well as GPs and the NHS.
How does it work?
When you place an order through our app, Echo requests your repeat prescription and once approved, your prescription is dispensed through one of Echo’s partner pharmacies and delivered discreetly to you using Royal Mail. This means that our users don’t have to worry about getting an appointment with the GP or taking time off of work, so Echo offers a simpler, quicker, and more direct way of ordering repeat prescriptions.
What was the Inspiration Behind the App?
As my co-founder Stephen puts it, ‘Echo was born out of our shared frustration with a system that’s confusing and has yet to properly take advantage of mobile technology’, and I couldn’t agree more. Fed up with outdated processes, Stephen and I launched Echo to put users first. We both take repeat prescriptions to manage asthma and anxiety respectively, so we understand the frustrations that come with that territory. We have developed a truly paper-free, digital alternative that brings patients to the forefront of medication management and our app makes it easier, simpler and faster for people with chronic conditions to take control of their medication and their health.
So the App is like the Deliveroo of pharmaceuticals?
Yes, Echo is similar to Deliveroo because you can make orders through our app and have them delivered directly to your front door. Echo also offers free delivery. And of course, your GP has to approve all orders, amazingly without affecting GP or surgery workflows. We aim to enable people with long-term health conditions to take control of their repeat prescriptions, without having to spend unnecessary time visiting the GP. We know there’s already enough going on in the lives of our users without having to add more stress. We want to simplify the process.
How long have you been running the App for?
The business was founded in summer 2015 and Echo operated in stealth from January 2016 until later that year. We successfully raised £1.8m from Local Globe, Global Founders Capital and Rocket Internet in 2016 and are using funds to grow and launch new product features.
With the NHS under pressure, do you see Echo as a way to ease the burden?
With 20% of working people taking an emergency appointment with their GP or going toA&E simply to get a repeat prescription, more than £150m has been wasted on unnecessary GP appointments and £56m on A&E visits. We see Echo as a consumer-grade solution to save the NHS time and money, now and in the future. To aid this and improve user experience, Echo uses mobile technology to provide a quick and easy-to-use service that removes the hassle from ordering repeat prescriptions.
The app eliminates extended waiting times for users, alleviating the burden placed on overstretched GPs and the wider NHS system. By using Echo as a medicine management tool, our users are able to reduce waste by ordering the medications they need, when they need them.
How have things gone since launch and what is the uptake like for the App?
Since launch, Echo has seen substantial growth in users, especially within the greater London area. We appeal to people who don’t have a lot of spare time on their hands, and we think it’s great that using our app frees up our users time so they can spend it doing the things they actually want to do. We’re looking to grow and expand in 2017, and we hope to see even more people using Echo as we build on our existing services this year.
Where do you see Echo going in the future?
In 2017, Echo will be developing its technology to provide more advanced tools for even better medication management. The team are also working on launching Android to increase access and availability for new customers.
So do you think the App can be adapted to other sectors to make things more efficient?
Of course Echo’s approach can be adapted to other sectors to make services more efficient. But the fact of the matter is that many other sectors are already making these changes and embracing digital innovation, while healthcare continues to lag behind.
Echo ultimately aims to bring a dated healthcare service into the 21st century, and knows that hybridizing technology and healthcare will provide the best possible service for people living with long-term health conditions. We pride ourselves on always putting our users first.
To download Echo, visit the App Store on iPhone and search for ‘Echo Healthcare’. You can also find Echo on Twitter at: @echo_healthcare. For more information visit: www.echo.co.uk.