We had the pleasure of speaking to Arjun Rajyagor, CTO of Script Assist, a prescription platform for medical cannabis in the UK, regarding the release of Script Assist 2.0. Since launch Script Assist has transformed the UK medical cannabis landscape by enabling private doctors to prescribe medical cannabis for the first time. With Script Assist 2.0, the technology is now open for use by any existing or new-to-market medical cannabis clinic.
We spent some time with Arjun catching up on Script Assist, the new release and the businesses plans for the future.
Q1: Can you briefly describe what Script Assist is and its core mission?
- Script Assist is a licensed UK medical cannabis prescription platform that digitises the way in which doctors, medical cannabis clinics and patients interact with each other, enabling effortless yet appropriate prescribing.
- We operate in a fundamentally complex sector, and where market participants use fragmented, legacy systems this often results in significant delays and frustrations for both patients and doctors. Without the right technology doctors and medical cannabis clinics alike struggle to provide consistent service levels to patients.
- With Script Assist, doctors and medical cannabis clinics can provide first rate service to those patients seeking medical cannabis in the UK.
- Our core mission therefore is to empower doctors in all private healthcare settings to prescribe medical cannabis effortlessly yet appropriately to their patients.
Q2: What inspired the creation of Script Assist?
- Around 16 years ago my mum was in a pretty bad car accident and has since had 17 operations on her spine. We’ve tried every single type of medication over the years, and the clinical pathways are such in the UK that chronic pain patients end up on various cocktails of opioids, which is what happened to my mum.
- When medical cannabis was legalised in the UK, we tried to get my mum a prescription. The experiences that we had were frustrating as none of her current doctors knew anything about how to prescribe it, and the cannabis clinics weren’t much help either. We struggled to get an appointment and were on a waiting list for months, and then when we did finally get to see a doctor there were issues with product stock availability
- At the same time, I was working on a consulting case for the Boston Consulting Group with my now co-founder Ben looking at how platform businesses were revolutionising all sorts of different industries. We quickly understood that enabling efficient service levels within the medical cannabis industry was both extremely complex, yet eminently achievable with the right combination of licensing, technology and 20 years of shared consulting and technology engineering experience!
Q3: How does Script Assist stand out from other offerings in the market?
- Great question and not an easy one to answer quickly. Script Assist is totally unique in the UK medical cannabis eco-system because we are not a licensed medical cannabis clinic.
- We provide the tools doctors and clinics operating within the UK medical cannabis market (as well as those looking to enter the UK medical cannabis market) everything they need to enable a first-rate patient experience.
- Without Script Assist the medical cannabis patient experience is akin to calling a taxi on your landline. After finally managing to complete an appointment through legacy customer management systems, patients must most-often then simply wait for a non-specified period until said prescription lands at their door, no matter how many phone calls they make!
- Script Assist offers all users a fully integrated and digital experience, to both doctors and medical cannabis clinics, our experience is similar in nature to that of most other industries whereby most interactions take place virtually.
- The complexity in the UK medical cannabis market is that at each stage in the patient journey there are multiple parties (across various entities) that must each execute a set of interrelated actions, whilst all remaining regulatorily & clinically compliant. The risk of error is huge without a single licensed platform managing all those user-journeys. Think of us like the plumbing that the UK medical cannabis prescription market needs to achieve its full potential.
Question 4: Can you delve into some of the features of the platform and their benefits? Which are you most proud of?
- When Ben and I first envisioned a single integrated entity with all the required licenses and technology to control every single user-journey, to smooth all pain points in the UK medical cannabis market, we knew it was going to be an extremely complex problem to solve. However, as we love saying, our solution is extremely simple. Everything we have developed is specifically designed to reduce a (very long) list of pain points that we literally spent years understanding and solving for..
- Probably the most fundamental feature is the ability to show live inventory, something that is not easily available to those outside of our eco-system. To those outside the medical cannabis industry, this does not seem like a difficult problem to solve. However, to solve this all-user journeys must be controlled and transparent, combined with all the required end-to-end importation, distribution & dispensing licenses.
- The feature we love demo-ing the most is our one-click re-prescribe button. Clinics, patients and doctors currently go through an onerous monthly re-prescribing process requiring a lot of time spent on admin tasks, writing and re-writing scripts according to stock availability, resulting in unnecessary cost to the patient. When we show people that hours of work can now be boiled down to a single click of a button, we literally get gasps of amazement.
- From a patient perspective it’s hard to only pick out one or two key features. We fundamentally provide patients with a fully digital App based, end-to-end solution to medical cannabis from booking their appointment, holding their consultation, tracking and managing their prescription, managing payments, symptom tracking and lots and lots more. It genuinely is the difference between calling for a taxi and using a ride hailing App!
Question 5: So how does Script Assist impact the patient journey, from prescription to receiving medication?
- Well, our medical cannabis patient experience is extremely streamlined and because all user journeys are controlled, it is totally consistent time-after-time. This removes a lot of stress that patients feel worrying about whether their prescription is going to land on time (and with a minimal amount of effort on their behalf).
- Patients have full visibility of the status of their prescription or dispensed medication and given the lack of errors within our eco-system, benefit from a massive reduction in overall journey time. In fact, practically all the features and benefits of Script Assist result in a reduction in the average journey time for patients. This can be upwards of three months for initial UK medical cannabis prescriptions but can be completed within 2 weeks with Script Assist.
- We also fundamentally empower our patient with information. For the first time patients can track their prescription, they can report outcomes back to their doctor and they can even have a digital copy of their FP10 presented to them digitally in case they need to prove that they are a legal medical cannabis patient.
- Overall a Script Assist patient has a very different and much smoother experience than they previously did.
Question 6: What feedback have you received from doctors and clinics using Script Assist?
- Independent doctors have typically never prescribed medical cannabis before, so Script Assist literally expands their medical toolkit. We will soon be at 10 prescribing independent doctors, and these clinicians are typically delighted at having to ability to prescribe independently as and when they believe it is appropriate.
- We built the platform to be user friendly, in a sector that is extremely complex, so we also hear a lot of feedback from doctors on how simple the platform is to use and how it solves most if not all of their problems. We also hear great feedback from doctors regarding our MDT & buddy system: we’ve refined our processes around supporting doctors new to medical cannabis prescribing quite a lot over the last few months.
- Clinics are actually broken into multiple stakeholders – owners, clinic manager, clinic team and doctors. Owners are always keen to adopt Script Assist (more revenue, less cost, happier patients etc…) but really, it’s the Clinic Manager that needs to buy-in as the person responsible for all medical cannabis clinic processes and procedures.
- We receive amazing feedback from the medical cannabis clinic managers using Script Assist, particularly around the huge amounts of additional capacity now available to them and the convenience of everything being in one-place.
Question 7: Can you share some insights into the roadmap for Script Assist? What can users expect in the future?
- The most exciting new piece of functionality coming soon is the availability of digital medical records, should patients consent to sharing them with their specialist. The lack of digital access to their medical records can introduce months into the end-to-end journey, in addition to reducing patient’s ability to seek alternative care. Digital medical records will be available within the next three months.
- Our next material roadmap step is to open the platform further by allowing third-party pharmacies to become Script Assist enabled, which will expand the pool of medical cannabis clinics able to use our platform. This is extremely exciting, in our mission to enable the entire medical cannabis market to provide first-rate service to their patients.
- Over the medium term our roadmap may surprise you! From the very first demo, whenever we share our platform with a new doctor they always request a number of additional medicines that they would love to be available on Script Assist. It appears that there is huge demand from doctors to have all the benefits of Script Assist available for all emerging and hard to find medication, not only for medical cannabis prescriptions.
Question 8: Diversity is a core value for many companies today. How does Script Assist approach this?
- Both Ben and I come from consulting backgrounds where diversity is not only celebrated but required to deliver the optimal outcome to clients. The team that solves the problem the best, is most often the team that has the most diverse range of both skill sets and mind-sets. We try to breath this approach into our company culture. Homogony is the enemy of innovation, and when engineering a platform-based solutions to highly complex & regulated user journeys, innovation is prized higher than everything else!
- As a result of us embedding this approach into our hiring processes, we maintain a 50/50 male/female split across the business and the team contains a hugely diverse mix of cultures, nationalities, and ethnicities. It is one of the key pillars upon which our success has been built.
Question 9: Lastly, for those interested in exploring Script Assist further, how can they get started?
- There is one, very simply next-step and that is to email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a demo!
Script Assist s an online UK medical cannabis prescription platform enabling medical cannabis prescribing from any private setting. Their technology gives doctors, medical cannabis clinics and patients the tools they need to manage medical cannabis prescriptions from any private setting, offering a streamlined and accessible pathway to effective treatment.