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28: Ladle – A digital weight loss tool with Hazel Maxwell

5MWTD - Hazel Maxwell - Ladle
On this episode of 15 Minutes with the doctor, Vinay is joined by Hazel Maxwell, co-founder of the Ladle app. Ladle is a low-cost digital weight loss tool that is currently being used by the city of Nottingham to help improve the lifestyles of its citizens. Learn why they developed this solution, the importance of testing and needs assessments, and how they rolled out the product.

Topics Covered in this Episode:

  • How Ladle got started
  • Conducting needs assessments
  • Trial and market tests
  • Current implementation
  • Challenges faced

How Ladle got started

  • Hazel and her co-founder were working as consultants in the healthcare industry
  • They noticed a gap in the market for weight loss tools and saw the potential for a cheaper, scalable digital solution
  • Considering that 60% of the population of the U.K. is classified as “overweight” or “obese”, they felt that the need for a product like this was great

Conducting needs assessments

  • Hazel and her co-founder met with healthcare providers, dieticians, clinicians, and psychologists to determine the needs
  • They directly asked these individuals for their feedback and then kept them informed throughout the process

“We have a really strong focus on the psychological elements of eating habits.”

Trial and market tests

  • Their trial found that the Ladle app had the same effectiveness as in-person intervention method
  • They did, however, have a higher dropout rate (44% completions on the app compared to 55%)
  • There is the potential to integrate the Ladle program with some in-person elements to increase the completion rate in the future
  • As a result of their trial experience, they received a direct award to be the commissioned provider for the city of Nottingham

“Our aim is to make Ladle as effective as the interventions currently in use by the NHS or different healthcare providers but be purely digital.”

Current implementation

  • The Ladle app is currently available to all citizens living in Nottingham who are between the ages of 18-65 whose body mass index is over 25
  • This agreement lasts until April of 2020 but they are hoping to expand the use of the app to other areas too

Challenges faced

  • It is difficult for startups to be considered during the bidding process with the NHS and local councils because of the lack of having 3 years of financial information available
  • They have also found it difficult to increase the awareness of GPs of their product and consequently the number of referrals
  • Hazel points out that there are ways that the healthcare system could promote more innovation

“As well as being low cost, we are also unlimited referrals.”

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