3 minutes: Carey McClellan

Carey McClellan talks about dividing his week between practising as an extended scope practitioner in emergency care and directing his tech company, getUbetter.


How do you manage to combine two day jobs?

Juggling two jobs is very challenging, especially because they are fundamentally different. One as an extended scope practitioner in a busy emergency department and leading research at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust. The other being the driving force behind getUbetter, the health tech company I founded in 2014.
This mix would not be possible without the support of my employer. I ensure there are clear boundaries between my two jobs. I am very strict and transparent about limiting any crossover.

What sparks your interest in digital? 

Before getUbetter, I had little interest in digital. I first had the idea behind getUbetter during my PhD, which focused on health economics and delivering urgent care. It became clear to me that technology could have a vital role in the way we support people to self-manage. I started to think about developing technology to produce condition-specific recovery tools that respond to users’ needs, and could be integrated into local care pathways.

getUbetter - where did your inspiration come from? 

Essentially, I saw getUbetter as a way of reaching out and supporting patients to self-manage.
getUbetter provides self-management apps. They give patients immediate access to support and provide a way for organisations to make cost savings. We provide personalised recovery – from injury to wellness – that is evidence based and follows national guidelines. We connect patients to their local health providers, care pathways and wellbeing services. The aim is to support the complete recovery journey.  
Also, we work with the NHS – its physios, GPs, and commissioners are included – and our platform is able to handle NHS health data securely. Our low back pain self-management app is already available and we are currently implementing it across Wandsworth clinical commissioning group.  

Who do you work with to develop and promote your apps?

getUbetter has a team of developers working on the platform and apps. My business partner provides the business and commercial skills, and we have a systems safety officer who ensures we produce software that is safe and fit for the deployment in the NHS. 
I use my physiotherapy and research skills to produce the clinical content and design the algorithms behind the platform. I do most of the app promotion too. Being a physiotherapist provides validity to the business and helps us to drive innovation that is clinically relevant.

Could apps help meet demand for emergency physiotherapy care?

As a profession, we are increasingly experiencing cost and time pressures. I passionately believe that apps and digital technology can be a part of the solution to meeting those demands.  
But we must be very clear about the role of apps and understand that they are not a substitute for all physiotherapy, rather a support tool that can help us reach more patients.  
I believe that providing users with simple information and exercises is not enough. They need the knowledge, skills and confidence to properly self-manage their recovery and to prevent re-injury. 
To be successful, self-management technologies should offer multimedia content that is provided on a condition-specific recovery timeline, that respond to the user’s journey, follow national guidelines and connect users to local care pathways.

What’s your key message for physiotherapists about adopting new tech?

Physiotherapists are very well placed to drive innovation for self-management, treatment and rehabilitation. We need to use our professional skills and knowledge to drive NHS England’s digital plans, be creative in the use of technology and develop ways to test apps and innovations that have the potential to improve patient care. 
Carey McClellan is an extended scope practitioner in emergency care and adult therapies research lead at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust ,and the founder of getUbetter 
Carey McClellan Extended scope practitioner in emergency care and adult therapies research lead at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust and Founder of getUbetter

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