17 February 2021 | Jack Francis
Upon reflection, Pogo Studio has had quite the journey so far. What started off as a social media application, ‘Bounce it’, has since evolved to become a software development agency, and has recently expanded with a new healthcare product offering, plus another one in the pipeline. So essentially, we were a product, we became a service, and we are now a blend of product and service. Since 2021 has gotten off to just as manic a start as 2020, I thought now would be a good time to pause and reflect on where the business currently is, and the direction we are (hopefully!) heading in.
After running the agency for about 2 years, we had really found our groove – we had some fantastic clients who we loved doing work for, and the team was working on some projects we could truly say we were proud of. One of these projects was the catalyst for Tailored Talks – our current product offering. Essentially, we took a large document and allowed for the readers of the document to really easily build up custom, shorter versions of the document. Nothing ground-breaking I know, but it set the gears in motion for Tailored Talks.
I suppose now is probably a good time to explain exactly what Tailored Talks is. Tailored Talks is a presentation platform focused on the healthcare market. It allows for clinicians to browse through an NHS approved bank of information using tags and subtags. It’s then simply a matter of selecting the relevant pieces of information for the patient and generating the Tailored Talk. Rather than the patient leaving hospital with 5 or 6 general booklets on their condition, they will leave with 20 or so slides which relate exactly to their condition and how they experience it personally.
As things stand, we are working in partnership with NHS Lothian, University of Edinburgh and Chest, Heart and Stoke Scotland to develop and distribute the content. The main use for Tailored Talks right now is to help patients manage COVID-19. We are an approved NHS Innovation, and Tailored Talks is being used in NHS Lothian to get patients the information they need. As well as COVID-19, we have content to help manage stroke, and we are working with pathways in cancer, diabetes and neurological to produce further content for the platform. All very exciting but an awful lot to stay on top of!
There’s a bit of a personal connection to the notion of giving people bespoke information about their condition too. When I was 12, my Dad (the chairman of Pogo), had an acute stroke. A blood clot in his leg broke off, went through a hole in his heart and lodged in his brain. It was a confusing time to say the least for the Francis family. To this day, Dad still has the 5 or 6 stroke booklets that he was given on his discharge from hospital – only about 15% of the content in the brochure is relevant to his condition. I’m not saying that if we had tailored information, things wouldn’t be confusing at all, however it certainly would have helped!
Tailored Talks is now an approved innovation in NHS South Scotland, and we are rolling out the COVID-19 packages throughout the area.
The move from service to product has been a strange one. I feel for the first time with Bounce it, I didn’t really know what I was doing. With this move, I have 4 years of experience under my belt which has allowed me to avoid some of the mistakes I made before:
Listen to your customer – At the end of the day, me and my staff aren’t building Tailored Talks so we can sit and give custom medical advice to each other. We are building it to enable clinicians to give custom medical advice to their patients. Every new feature we think of is run past senior clinicians before it makes it to design phase. No point in building something they won’t find useful!
It always takes longer than you think (particularly with public sector) – As any rational person would think, the NHS staff seem to be rather busy in this pandemic. Add that on top of your regular, ‘business as normal’ problems, and you have a product that takes quite a while to build. Make sure to factor anything like this into your timelines – you don’t want to run out of cash before the product is built!
Your product will evolve, and that’s okay – What your product is today, is almost certainly not what it is going to be in a year (particularly if it’s early doors). The users will influence the evolution of the product in ways you could never have thought. This is okay – allow the natural evolution to happen (provided enough of your customers want it).
The future of Tailored Talks is hopefully an exciting one. We have a huge amount in the development pipeline and some really cool partnerships which I can’t wait to share with you all.