This Week’s Squeeze: Dr Hannah Allen
Dr Allen has worked as a GP in the NHS and at Babylon, where she manages the team of in-house doctors. Babylon is the UK’s leading digital healthcare service and gives you immediate access to doctors and therapists from your phone. Yes, from your phone. Anyone else excited about not having to wait two weeks for an appointment at the doc’s?
What are you most excited about in your life or work right now?
In my personal life, having just given birth recently I would have to say watching my children grow. Each day they seem to learn something new and offer a whole new insight into life, seeing the world through a child’s eyes brings a whole new element of excitement and beauty to everyday mundane things.
In my work life, I am really excited to rejoin the Babylon team imminently. Through the hard work and dedication of some of the most intelligent people I have the pleasure of working with, we are due to be launching some really exciting ventures soon so watch this space...
To date, what’s been your biggest achievement in life? What about the biggest challenge?
I think my biggest achievement and challenge go hand in hand. Raising my two-year-old whilst working full time and juggling family life is definitely a big challenge. It is easy to underestimate the pressure and guilt that working parents can experience. I still have days when I wonder if I am doing the right thing, but I tell myself that I want my children to grow up with a strong work ethic and see mummy and daddy going to work each day.
What is your next big ambition?
I am passionate about innovation in the female health technology space so would love to make waves in this sector.
Which women inspire you most?
Katherine Ryder of Maven Clinic – for her passion to reinvent the maternity space with her healthcare technology and enabling women to access healthcare specific to their needs.
Ida Tin – For removing the ‘social taboo’ associated with periods, breaking down barriers between venture capitalists and female entrepreneurs, for her perseverance and overwhelming belief in her product.
What do you think it means to be a ‘strong woman’?
I think it means having an unshakeable sense of self-belief and self-worth no matter what life throws at you. Strong women empower and enable other women and strive to make the world a better place for women over.
How do you hope Babylon will change the world?
Babylon’s mission speaks for itself. We are super ambitious in succeeding to put affordable and accessible healthcare in the hands of every person on earth. I genuinely believe that this will make the world a better place for all.
How did you get into the tech industry?
My husband was investigating his own technology startup at the time. My curiosity and possibly competitive nature drove me to explore this further. Once I started exploring this sector I was hooked. I then applied for a role at Babylon and the rest is history.
What tech will you be using pre and post pregnancy?
Pre-pregnancy – I used various technologies to assist. I had read about the effect that second or subsequent pregnancies can have on your pelvic floor so I was delighted to try out Elvie Trainer.
Post-pregnancy – I will definitely be using Babylon if needed as it is a nightmare having to take a newborn to the GP surgery unless essential. I used a breastfeeding app last time as well, so I will definitely be doing the same again this time.
What do you like best and least about pregnancy?
I have to say the best perk of being pregnant is getting a seat on the tube!
I am a keen runner and hence I think my least favourite part of being pregnant is losing my fitness.
What’s the most common concern you hear from expectant mothers and how do you put their minds at ease?
I think that there is a lot of fear and misconception surrounding the process of labour itself. When I was heavily pregnant I avoided anyone who wanted to tell me their horror birthing story and just focussed on the positives. I was very lucky first time around and had a great experience. However, I always stress to mothers to be that the whole process is very unpredictable so the most important thing to remember is to keep an open mind; write a birth plan but be prepared to be flexible around it.
If you could tackle only one issue in women’s health globally, what would it be?
That would definitely be reducing maternal mortality rates. This is a global issue and should be a concern for everyone. The maternal mortality rates in many developing countries are still unacceptably high. Mothers still bleed to death because there is no access to blood transfusions or medication to help the uterus contract after labour. This is a simple injection offered to all mothers in the UK. Heavily pregnant women have to walk hundreds of miles just to reach their antenatal appointments and we wonder why they don’t attend. I am really passionate about this area of women’s health and I would love to work towards a solution that has a global impact.
What area of parenting-tech do you think needs innovation?
So many! If I had to pick I would say the breast pump. I was out for lunch with a friend recently who had to pump in the restaurant. The effort it took to attempt this whilst sat at a narrow table with a couple of teenagers on one side and two young men on another was remarkable! Not to mention the pumping noise not dissimilar to what I imagine a milk factory sounds like! I remember thinking surely this isn’t the only solution we can offer women! This sector is ripe for innovation in my opinion.