Our entrepreneurs: Seb Tucknott

In our latest #OurEntrepreneurs profile we meet cohort 7 Clinical Entrepreneur Seb Tucknott, Patient expert. 

Tell us a bit about yourself 

My first experience of healthcare was at the age of 21, when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). After nine nights in hospital and many appointments, I then spent the next few years trying to manage my symptoms and adjusting to living with a long-term condition.

Name: Seb Tucknott, Cohort 7.

Occupation: Patient Expert.

I soon discovered that there was little support and information available to help me on this journey, and also felt there was potential for digital technology to be used to much greater effect in the healthcare system. With my background in web design and development, and being a problem solver by nature, I decided to explore how I could improve this situation. This led to the creation of IBDrelief, a for purpose company to help people living with inflammatory bowel disease in 2015.

As a patient entrepreneur, I work closely with patients, healthcare teams and industry. I am a member of the IBD panel for University Hospitals Sussex NHS Trust and a patient expert for Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Our Entrepreneurs: Seb Tucknott, Patient Expert, Cohort 7.

Why did you apply to the programme and what are you looking forward to?

In 2016, I joined the People’s Panel for the NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo, which coincided with the launch of the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme. I spoke at the launch as a patient entrepreneur, where I met Professor Tony Young.

I felt really inspired by the programme, and enrolled as a mentor, offering support to the clinical entrepreneurs.

At the time I was finding innovating in healthcare as a patient entrepreneur challenging. I felt I was being taken less seriously than medical professionals, and there were few opportunities for funding and support. This led me, in 2022, to apply for, and be accepted onto the NHS CEP as one of the first patient entrepreneurs.

The NHS CEP is providing me with really useful clarification about how my innovation can make a difference within the healthcare system. So far, I have particularly enjoyed meeting my fellow entrepreneurs and sharing our experiences and knowledge, other networking opportunities, and gaining valuable insights through working with my mentor.

Tell us about your innovation  

One of the biggest challenges IBD patients face is the lack of time available to spend with healthcare professionals, and the lack of quality, accessible information. I found that the more information and understanding I had about my condition, the easier it was to manage my symptoms, leading to significant improvements in my quality of life.  

This inspired me to create IBDmate, an online resource for patients with inflammatory bowel disease. It consists of an extensive video library featuring interviews with healthcare professionals, patients, and their families, with courses designed to help educate patients on all aspects of their condition, including tests and procedures, treatments, mental health and living with IBD. There are articles, quizzes, tips, and a glossary, and patient stories.  

IBDmate also offers a healthcare professional dashboard, where clinicians can ‘prescribe’ specific courses to patients, ensuring they receive appropriate information in a timely manner, assisting understanding and ensuring the best use can be made of time in appointments.  

IBDmate has been developed and tested with the paediatric IBD team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and is currently in use in four IBD centres in the UK. Clinicians report reduced helpline calls, appointments being overall more positive and productive, and patients feel less anxious around procedures and treatment.

What motivates you? 

It’s all about making a difference to patients. I passionately believe empowering them with knowledge, skills and confidence is the foundation of helping them improve their IBD and quality of life – this is how I’ve managed to progress to such a positive place in my health journey, and I want everyone to have the same opportunity.

What are your ambitions for the next year?

Our ultimate aim over the next year is to ensure IBDmate reaches as many patients as possible, both within the UK and globally. To achieve this, we plan to introduce IBDmate to further IBD centres, and will also be making it available to the general public.  

We will be creating additional content, digital tools, exploring the provision of peer-to-peer support, and will continue to evaluate and assess the impact of IBDmate, with the aim of publishing research showing the benefits of tailored education for patients.  

So far, our innovation has been growing organically, so we will be seeking to raise funding to support this growth, dissemination and research.

Why do you think innovation is important in healthcare?

The NHS does an incredible job of helping people, particularly in acute situations, but with long term conditions there are lots of improvements still to be made.   Due to the ever-increasing demands on the healthcare system, we must continue to explore how technology and innovation can help to reduce the burden on healthcare professionals.  

I’m passionate about giving more opportunities for patients to be involved in innovation and making improvements to patient care. We can provide unique insights, ideas and solutions that are often overlooked. Together we can make the changes needed to improve the lives of everyone.

How can we find out more?

Come and speak with me! You can get in touch and find out more by visiting our websites and social media pages.