Elin Haf Davies is the CEO of Aparito, a digital health company which aims to help people with rare diseases get access to new treatments. A former nurse, Elin is passionate about improving research and drug development in paediatrics and orphan diseases. She has published several scientific journals and has already given a TED Talk about rowing as a therapy.
“COVID-19 has propelled the need for remote patient monitoring and digital outcomes from nicety to necessity. When the world returns to ‘business as usual’ post COVID-19 I hope that a more digital, remote, friendly option remains to support patient care.”
My passion for child health
Education at school never really suited me, I was a late starter when it came to enjoying education. But as soon as I got passionate about a subject (in my case child health), I found learning my way far more enjoyable.
I ended up being a part-time student for eleven years after qualifying as a children’s nurse. First for my degree in neuroscience, Master’s in research methods in health care, and then my Ph.D. developing new outcome measures of gait and ataxia in children.
I’m not sure how I fitted it all in now looking back, but it somehow managed to work well with my nursing career clinically and then in research, before I moved on to work as a regulator at the European Medicines Agency.
Starting my career as a children’s nurse was the best professional start I could have wished for. Each patient care is an n=1 case study as you work out what’s best for that child and family on any given day.
All the decisions I make at the company I founded, Aparito, is always with the context of front-line care.
Technology and healthcare
Aparito is a six-year-old digital health company that I founded to change the patient experience of clinical trials.
Based on my eighteen years of clinical, academic and regulatory experience I wanted to introduce innovation and technology into clinical trials – an area that had hardly evolved at all.
Our flagship platform, Atom5™, is constantly evolving to meet the needs of patients.
One of our most exciting projects at the moment is our Patient Group Accelerators, where we’re inviting patient groups to partner with us to co-create digital endpoints that are meaningful to them for conveying disease impact. Supporting patients to define what they want to be measured and how they want it captured is an approach that I have always felt passionate about.
COVID-19 impact on healthcare
Technology has changed the way that we live every aspect of our lives, but not how healthcare research/clinical trials are being done. Conducting research using technology and innovation in my view is the only way to make it financially viable and able to reach all in the future.
In fact, COVID-19 has propelled the need for remote patient monitoring and digital outcomes from nicety to necessity.
When the world returns to ‘business as usual’ post-COVID-19 I hope that a more digital, remote, friendly option remains to support patient care.
Rowing across oceans
The row across the Atlantic was driven by my personal circumstances – I had just gone through a divorce and been dropped from the international Welsh women’s rugby team. So, I was looking for a challenge to throw myself into it. It turned out to be the best thing that I have ever done.
On the back of that, the Indian Ocean was an opportunity to put into practice what I had learned on the Atlantic – and secure two world records in the meantime as the first all-female crew to ever row across the Indian Ocean.
I now say that getting divorced was the best thing that ever happened to me because I saw the world again with a whole heap of new options to explore.
A piece of advice to women battling against the elements
My advice to women and girls is to believe in yourself and prepare to be Marmite! This is much easier said than done, but find your support group, your tribe, that support you in all your endeavours is really important.
As you grow, achieve new goals, hit new markers of success it becomes very evident who your real friends, advocates and support network is. Cherish them with all your might as they are who will keep you going when you hit all the brick walls.
We want to become world-leading experts in supporting patients across the world to take part in clinical trials.
This requires evolving our technology to convey what’s important to them. It also requires growing our global footprint and establishing many cross-stakeholder organisations.
There’s much work to be done, but we’re very excited to be working in this space at a time where COVID-19 has demands that such an approach is now essential.