Professor Adrian Wilson is a world renowned knee and sports injury specialist with a global reputation for knee realignment surgery. Now, however, he is launching a service that brings accessible, affordable healthcare to the high street, making MRI scans, blood screening and other diagnostic tests available on demand – without waiting lists. This is Professor Wilson’s vision for Living Room Health.
The NHS is a phenomenal service, and if, for example, you’ve had a serious accident or need cancer treatment, they will provide you with the best care imaginable. But it’s much harder to identify issues early or receive treatment for less serious aches and pains through the NHS, because resources are generally focused elsewhere. At the same time, the problems caused by COVID have only served to make waiting lists even longer.
We’ve been thinking about this for three years now – about the best way to bring diagnostics and treatments directly to patients, eliminating the need for people to join ever-growing waiting lists and thereby reducing the burden on the NHS. One part of the solution was our discovery of a proprietary technology that offers a very high quality of MRI scan that can be carried out in a high street shop, without the prohibitive demands of a traditional MRI scanning machine that needs to be housed in a dedicated building, hooked up to a specific electrical source and costing millions of pounds.
A game changer
This is a game changer for the enormous number of patients waiting for the diagnosis of musculoskeletal (MSK) issues on the NHS, for example; the relatively low cost of the low-field MRI scanners we use means people will be able to literally walk straight in to a high street shop, get assessed and get scanned for a fraction of the price it would normally be. Your knee pain, ankle pain or back pain would be diagnosed and treated within days.
Then we started to think about what else we could bring to the high street, and it seemed logical to offer not just MRI scanning but a whole spectrum of diagnostic tests: a genetic test to determine whether you’re likely to get cancer, for example; a test that will tell you how well your liver, heart or kidneys are functioning; all the basic blood work that you’d otherwise have to wait a long time to get from your GP or a hospital doctor. You can now get all of this done much more quickly at Living Room Health – even while our primary focus remains on imaging and delivering MSK treatments such as cortisone injections for painful joints.
Bringing healthcare to the high street
In many ways, the high street is at the heart of the town, and at the heart of the community. You pop in to buy your croissant, get a coffee or wander round the shops. So the idea of being able to instantly incorporate an MRI scan or a blood test into an everyday visit to the high street is revolutionary, bringing these services out of traditionally intimidating, clinical environments and into the more relaxed setting of a high street shop. That’s why we’re calling it Living Room Health. We want it to be somewhere that people feel at home; somewhere they can feel comfortable talking about what’s troubling them, or carrying out a test that might otherwise make them a bit frightened.
Living Room Health has the potential to have a major impact on a wide range of personal healthcare needs, whether that be trying to diagnose an issue that has been causing concern, or carrying out assessments of general wellness. We are moving towards an approach to healthcare that is preventative rather than remedial; in time, people will be regularly screened to look for tiny tumours, for example, before they develop into something more serious. Until now, it has not been affordable or practical to be screened with this level of frequency.
Healthcare, from a private insurance perspective, is trending towards wellness packages that provide complete and regular checks in the form of an ECG, full blood count, stress test on a running machine, and checks of cholesterol, haemoglobin and glucose. With Living Room Health, these wellness packages will be made easily available to everyone and anyone – and, if necessary, we’ll be able to provide or guide people towards any treatments or specialist further investigations they might need.
A preventative approach
The same preventative approach to cancer and general wellness can also be applied to MSK conditions. Living Room Health will be able to offer bone density (DEXA) scans, which can identify symptomless conditions such as osteoporosis – a condition that you might not know you have, but which means bones aren’t as strong as they should be, placing you at greater risk of spine, wrist and hip fractures. These injuries can cause patients a huge amount of misery, as well as costing the NHS an absolute fortune by blocking up every single orthopaedic ward in the country. People come in with fractures, are treated quickly, but then spend weeks in recovery. Imagine the positive impact if people could be regularly screened for osteopenia or osteoporosis, identify bone density issues early and be prescribed calcium and maybe bisphosphonate to guard against bone fractures in the future?
With Living Room Health, we want it to be possible for someone to walk in off the street and talk about pretty much any condition. They will have clinicians available to them, full body MRI scans, blood tests and even DNA tests – because people are starting to become interested in learning about their heritage and their family’s medical history, trying to understand whether they have certain genes that mean they should be closely monitored for certain conditions. We’re providing an instantly available one-stop-shop for diagnosis, wellness and peace of mind – helping to catch and treat potential issues early, before they become something much more serious down the line.