SD: What's the big idea behind Thriva as a service?
HG: First and foremost we want to make it really, really easy for people to find out what is going on inside their bodies. In this day and age it's bananas that 99% of the time people have so much access to so much information but when it comes to, arguably the the most important data – your health – people reside in a vacuum. And it's clear this is a problem of access. The NHS is incredible but it’s very difficult to frame a doctors visit as something proactive. In fact, we have a very reactive health paradigm, where we wait until we get sick, fall off the rails and then we go to the GP. We know that prevention is better than cure, and we provide a service that makes that possible.
All three of the Thriva founders come from financial development. Myself and Eliot Brooks worked at Travelex, so we’ve got experience together. While there we had a number of conversations about the frankly rubbish experience of regular blood checks as Eliot has hereditary high cholesterol. We were, at the time, in the throes of designing customer centric products and we were curious how that health testing process could be made better.
SD: So you want to empower the consumer when it comes to their health data?
HG: That’s exactly our vision! Empowerment is the core element to our product and we want people to take control of their own health. Realistically, health and medicine is one of the last industries that a consumer interacts with, and sadly, people assume they are incapable of taking ownership, managing, and being guided by their own information. Health and medicine is in the same position that financial services were around 10 years ago and we need to move forward.
SD: Progress in medicine is predictably much slower due to safety concerns, and with regulations on products and data sharing. We've been following the fall of Theranos with some interest – how do you think they've effected home testing, and could they have set back the industry?
HG: I think Theranos could be considered in a couple of ways. One perspective might be that the net impact is positive: they shone a light on the benefit of democratising access to the most powerful information there is. It would certainly be a great shame that home testing died at the altar of the Theranos story. From our position as a company, they were doing something very different to what we're doing. Theranos was claiming the development of a proprietary testing capability, whereas Thriva is reliant on accredited, trustable and regulated existing lab technologies and established tests, and that's why we partnered with The Doctor's Laboratory. We're explicitly not reinventing the wheel. In the States there will probably be some nervousness when the topic of finger-prick home testing arises. But in the end, products and services that will supply consumers with the ability to be more participatory with their own health will persist. The idea of 'The Quantified Self' is not going anywhere, and we certainly aren’t going to return to the days of sole GP ownership of your data.
SD: How do you differ from other services such as 23andMe?
HG: The most important differentiator is that what we test for can be impacted. And as a direct comparison to 23andMe, you can't impact a gene in real terms. What we're doing is making sure that the things we put in front of people are things that are actionable.
I think we compare favourably in the Quantified Self arena against wearable tech for example. For the most part wearables suffer from an inconvenient truth – people remove them after around 3 months of use. And for a number of reasons; charging is annoying and your swatch watch may tell the time better. But the killer is that people overestimate the level to which the wearable will change their behaviour. If you’ve taken a Thriva test and it shows X and then we explain that doing Y will help that out, it's a more granular (but accessible) level of attention than the typical mirror check many people do. Thriva users have a more intimate relationship with their health data.
In our eyes what we haven’t seen, and this is where market timing is important, is the readiness of people actually spending the money on a customer centric health product.
SD: The noticeable thing about your testing kits is that design-wise, they are something you'd actually want to own. And the importance of design and UX is clearly maintained throughout the service.
HG: Something I feel other companies have missed is accessibility. We don’t, for instance, send out a garbled PDF with a whole host of unintelligible data in tiny font. We spent time developing a user experience that make the process more accessible and intelligible.
Coming from a product marketing background, I’ve spent a lot of time being immersed and being fastidious in working out how to convey services and ideas in an impactful way in spite of their complexity. And having a product that people actually want to own with a UX that’s intelligible are our approaches to this.
SD: And who do you think Thriva is for?
HG: Our target demographics are manifested in our products – for instance our Lifestyle Pack is principally for those individuals that are time poor but engaged with their health: those early-adopters of quantified self technologies, and people that are really focussed on wellness. We're also looking at a subscription based product for those that are seeking a regular check to monitor changes and really get to grips with how their behaviour aligns with their Thriva charts.
SD: What's next for Thriva? You mentioned a subscription model, but how about further tests?
HG: We really see the value of Thriva as a digital health platform with a number of data inputs. Blood tests, genomic tests, it could be wearable tech, we want the data to come in so we can connect you with the thing you need to actually start changing your behaviour. We're also excited about potentially moving into female fertility checks and IBD testing. While these would be more complex datasets but the provision of actionable results will still be very much maintained.
Check out Thriva and their kits at https://thriva.co/