We’re sitting down with RIoT Accelerator Program (RAP) participants to learn their stories, find what inspires them and share with the community.
Hamza Jamil is the Co-Founder and COO of On Call People, a workforce management solution for the healthcare industry that started in 2016. He has been in the healthcare management space for ten years, working for organizations like the UK’s Department of Health and running one of the biggest programs at the National Health Service. Hamza is a husband and father of two daughters who is passionate about health and enjoys running in his spare time. He is an engaging and positive conversationalist; we shared a fascinating discussion about problems in the healthcare space that On Call People can help solve and what it’s like to run a start-up for the healthcare industry amidst the backdrop of COVID-19.
Q: What does On Call People do in a nutshell?
A: We have a patented, HIPAA-compliant solution with built-in communication capabilities that can query work schedules in real time that allows healthcare professionals to communicate quickly and accurately. We serve healthcare institutions of all kinds including nursing homes, private facilities, large hospitals and more. Our product allows for better collaboration and minimizes miscommunication. Errors due to miscommunication are a HUGE issue in the healthcare space, with 80% of them occurring due to this problem.
Another shocking statistic is the time it takes for healthcare professionals to communicate with each other. Imagine a nurse has an issue with a patient and needs to speak to the on-call doctor. In most cases, that nurse would need to return to their desk, rifle through the patient’s paperwork, make a call to a live operator that must reference their own paperwork before finally relaying the message to the appropriate doctor. On average this process takes about 7-10 minutes.
With On Call People, that nurse could open an app on their phone, press one button and reach the doctor, get what they need, in 60 seconds. In the healthcare industry, those extra 8-9 minutes can be the difference between life and death for a patient.
Q: I imagine a product like this must be even more important in the current COVID-19 crisis. How can On Call People help healthcare professionals at this unique time?
A: Absolutely, there is a lot of talk right now about issues in our healthcare system. There is a lot of money spent on pharma, and complex technologies like robotics. But at the end of the day, it is people that are administering the healthcare. And these very people are being left by the wayside, forced to use outdated tools like post-it notes and pagers to carry out their jobs. But the only way to improve the quality of life for the patients is to improve the quality of life for the providers.
Now, in our COVID-19 world, we are seeing these providers under incredible mental stress and employee burnout is more prevalent than ever before. Our solution helps reduce the burden of healthcare providers, for example, by preventing accidental calls on their essential days off.
Our tool also has a built-in telemedicine solution that allows providers to speak and (virtually) see their patients safely, remotely, and easily. But unlike other telemedicine solutions, On Call People’s is coupled with workforce management and scheduling capabilities, which allows for efficient and effective doctor-patient connections.
There are even broadcast messaging capabilities that can quickly communicate information like open shifts that can be picked up, important COVID-19 updates and more.
Q: What inspired you to start this company?
A: About four years ago, we were having dinner with a group of friends and one of them was a doctor who managed multiple speciality groups at a hospital. He was expressing his frustration about how his team would get calls on their days off, how difficult and time consuming it was to schedule the group with all the variables and did not know what to do to resolve it as he tried several point solutions. As doctors and nurses with hectic schedules, some are seven day on/seven day off schedule, the last thing he wanted was for his team of doctors and nurses to be contacted during their time off.
I knew we could do something to fix this and so reached out to a colleague who had a great background in product development to discuss the idea. From there, we started building our first prototype, eventually got funding, a stronger technical base for our product and here we are now.
Q: What’s your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?
A: Knowing that I am doing something positive that could really benefit humanity and is delivering results is the critical piece for me. Being an entrepreneur is not easy but knowing the hard work we put in is removing unnecessary burdens from our colleagues in healthcare is why we love what we do.
There is also something to be said for having the choice to take the direction you want and mould your own journey as you go, rather than working for an organization that dictates what path you take.
Q: Do you have any mentors or role models who have inspired you while you have been building your business?
A: The RAP program has been wonderful for us. Tom and Rachael have really helped us to hone in on our problem areas. We have been introduced to mentors through the program and I think their advice will be extremely useful as well.
I also have two previous line managers that mean a lot to me. One sadly passed away, but the other I still call when I can. She offers great insights, not just for our business, but life lessons as well. She taught me a lot about work life balance.
Q: Any advice for entrepreneurs?
A: Do not always think you are the next Zuckerberg. There is a lot of media out there that makes people think being an entrepreneur is easy and that you are a failure if you have not done it by age 20. The truth is, you will fail, and you will hit asphalt several times. But keep persevering, learn, re-focus and try again. When one door closes, another opens.