In 2013 Whizz-Kidz launched a mobile app which allows users to make decisions about their own healthcare. Whizz-Kidz 's CEO, Ruth Owen speaks about the importance of this app as a mobilising technology for disabled people.
Whizz-Kidz's CEO, Ruth Owen says:
'In the UK we have a crisis of young people whose physical mobility needs, and subsequently their ability to develop the skills needed for adulthood, are far from being fully met.
'Thousands of families battle through the health and social care systems, unable to access appropriate wheelchairs to give their children the chance of a childhood and the independence to have an ambitious future.
'Over the course of almost a quarter of a century, Whizz-Kidz has been the largest provider of mobility equipment outside of the NHS – and our innovation in healthcare has been widely recognised. In the autumn of 2012, after a rallying cry for innovative ideas, the NHS pledged to develop more pioneering approaches, including harnessing technology to improve health outcomes and create better experiences for patients. As part of this commitment, the Department of Health has recently funded the development of our smartphone app.
'The app allows young disabled people and their families to access a number of our services – including beginning the application process for mobility equipment, offering them greater choice, and providing more opportunities for them to fulfil their potential.
'Like all of Whizz-Kidz’s innovations, our app has customers at its heart and was designed to give young disabled people the tools to make their own decisions, and afford them another convenient channel by which to achieve independent mobility – in this case at the touch of a screen.
'Some of its key features include: videos to show parents how to measure their children prior to assessment in order to speed up the process; and a ‘Rate and Review’ service similar to commercial services like Trip Advisor or Patients Like Me – whereby families can give feedback on the products they receive from Whizz-Kidz. We use this intelligence as leverage to drive the manufacturers to make improvements and increase user satisfaction.
'Crucially, using technology in this way is cost effective. It is possible to save financial costs to the NHS, and keep standards of healthcare high. For instance, if a young person downloads the app, which leads them to apply for an appropriate wheelchair preventing them developing pressure sores, it could potentially save hospitalisation and even spinal surgery. This is the tip of the iceberg in potential savings. The right equipment might mean a child can reach their school desk comfortably and require less school adaptations. Their parent might then be more likely to work, impacting less on the state. Leading economists, Frontier Economics have produced three independent reports highlighting the ‘Whizz-Kidz effect’.
'The app will also support Whizz-Kidz’s aim to deliver its innovative ‘Child in a Chair in a Day’ initiative - which means that, more often than not, children in routine cases are able to take their equipment home on the day of their assessment, and can start their path to independence right away. We continue to work with the NHS to spread this innovation throughout local wheelchair services.
'But the job is not complete. In order to reach every single one of those 70,000 young people, innovations that truly engage them must be a priority. Timidity in driving innovation will only mean that a generation of disabled children’s lives will be left unfulfilled.'