Thriva disrupts health through home blood test data tracking

We meet Sarvi Eastell, Chief Medical Officer of exciting new healthtech startup, Thriva, helping to empower us to track our own health at home.

Sarvi Eastell

Meet Sarvi Eastell. Surgeon. Entrepreneur. Founder. Mentor. Mother – and now Chief Medical Officer of an exciting new healthtech startup set to disrupt health by empowering us to track our own health at home with Thriva.

We catch up with her to find out how she got involved working with 3 ambitious financiers and how she initially tried to sabotage their product!

What’s the story behind Thriva? How did it all come about?

With a background in disrupting the financial services market , our founders identified that health is also ripe for disruption. 

The idea for Thriva came about when co-founder Eliot Brooks, who has familial hypercholesterolaemia (genetically elevated cholesterol), showed his blood results to Tom Livesey and Hamish Grierson.

They all saw the huge value in the information but thought the process was poor, with results taking weeks to obtain, then being presented in a way that did not educate the patient, nor help them to self manage their own health.

They drew on their collective experiences creating consumer products to found Thriva; a business with mission of empowering people to take control of their health. To date they’ve launched a slick blood testing service around a finger-prick, but have much more to come in the next few months.

How and why did you join Thriva?

I wanted to leverage my learnings from my previous start-up, Holding Your Hand, into a new adventure and what better than one which changes our attitude to how we see our data!

Finally the power of networking to find jobs made sense to me.

They were looking for a Chief Medical Officer and someone posted the job on the female tech forum I belong to.

I didn’t want any job. I wanted one which I truly believed in the potential.

When I saw what they were trying to achieve I was completely hooked. Yes I had heard of 23andme and Theranos, but I never thought so deeply about what it meant to be home testing, and I’d never considered testing my own blood.

Why? Because blood testing kits are things that happen over there (the US); We don’t get stuff like that here in the UK.

Why’s that? It’s a difficult question to answer but it’s something to do with the NHS consumer psychology. But to see a British product was really powerful. Due to this, I suddenly felt the true meaning of empowering patients by giving them access to the information about their bodies. I couldn’t wait to meet the Thriva founders and try out their product. 

Describe your role as Chief Medical Officer for Thriva?

Their blood testing kit hit the doorsteps of over 1000 keen customers in less than 5 months, however they needed someone to help communicate the message and product whilst advocating for the way we approach health data as consumers. Hence where I come in. 

Can I help show the benefit of Thriva to health policy makers? I think so. I’ve spent a lot of time empowering consumers using my knowledge from being a doctor, being a surgeon, being a patient, and being an advocate. I know regardless of education or background, patients choose to understand their physiology and pathology without hesitation when given the support.

My family are all amazed by the kit and I find myself answering the same questions repeatedly:

Yes your results come through online,

Yes it’s by post,

..and yes I’ll show you my screen.

But did I expect to have such a poor cholesterol ratio? Not a chance.

I have an excellent BMI, fairly healthy diet, but less than ideal 38% HDL/LDL. I was shocked! I’ve thought for a long time, “I should get checked!”. It’s amazing to be able to say I’ll just check my cholesterol.

 Why would medics in particular find Thriva beneficial?

 As medics we understand ourselves. This is good and bad. Appendicitis, constipation, sciatica, torticollis, biliary colic, we understand it and therefore we make bad patients.

As medics, we don’t take care of our health so when doctors are sick they fall harder than others.

Yes absolutely I think Thriva is for medics. Take your test at home in your own time, use the platform, contact the Thriva GPs, track your results, make changes and feel better. Moreover, see how it feels to be vulnerable, then how it feels to be empowered. There are so many levels to the Thriva experience that a medic would appreciate: how it feels when jargon is replaced with lay language, when your results are worse than you expected, when motivated by your very own remote GP.

How reliable are the results and is it likely this would need to be repeated by our usual healthcare providers?

I must confess, the skeptic medic in me did what I could to sabotage the test.

Haemolysing my blood as best I could, slow to invert my microtainer, not really filling up to the top line. Did I succeed?

Surprisingly not.

Much to my amazement, the experience was painless and a pleasure, with text messages and alerts to deliver a beautiful screen of my lipid profile and liver function. Perfectly accurate results. I failed to hinder the labs.

The Thriva platform is also being developed in a way to allow for venous collection where necessary.

Once we have A&E departments and GP practices using the Thriva platform then there could be a number of huge benefits that are really exciting.

You’ll get GP time savings as appointments no longer become necessary to arrange blood tests and communicate results. Scheduling tests in advance and getting patients to do them first also allows for better triaging in both hospitals and surgeries. Meanwhile, giving patients access to their health data and delivering it in an engaging way is a big necessary step for preventative health.

Have you ever given a blood test as a gift? 

I have now. It was my mum’s birthday a few weeks ago. Sadly her mother died recently following a severe ischaemic stroke, hence I know she is now more health conscious than ever. She loved the gift! It’s a fun experience.

Fun to be engaging with your own health. I thought about Christmas presents to my mother-in-law etc and naturally thought they’d think I’m odd offering such a gift, but when I showed them my box it was obvious they wanted to try it too!

Why does healthcare need disrupting?

Because it’s not currently designed to be educating and empowering.

It has always been and tradition dictates that we receive, as our ancestors have and those before them, the paternalistic approach; That we will be better off knowing less, questioning less, challenging less. The truth is quite the reverse. We do better when we know more. Even when things go terribly wrong, we cope better if we’ve known, and what’s more, we blame less.

Isn’t it worth joining the empowered and changing the global healthcare hierarchy?

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Abeyna Bubbers-Jones

Abeyna is the Founder & Director of Medic Footprints and a Consultant Physician in Occupational Health