Harry Lykostratis is the founder, managing director, and lead engineer at Open Medical, as well as a practising orthopaedic surgeon at London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust.
Harry, who has had a passion for software engineering since a very young age, designed a trauma platform to help him and his colleagues manage their clinical workflow. Eventually, it took off, and he established eTrauma as a commercial entity.
Now, with the system interface Pathpoint, Harry and the team at Open Medical provide a suite of software to digitally transform care models.
1) What is your morning routine?
I wake up, and the moment I open my eyes, I’m out. Before I leave my room, I go to the bathroom, take a nice cold shower, groom, and dress.
I don’t use my phone or stay in bed. My advice to you is to get out of bed as soon as you wake up. Why would you need to stay in bed if you’re awake?
Get out of bed, regardless of the weather, and jumpstart your day. Do not consume electronics first thing in the morning, don’t engage in your bad habits.
Prepare your bed before leaving the room, make yourself a cup of coffee, and check your phone once you’ve had your coffee. Jumping out of bed and making the bed is important.
2) Which technology could you not live without?
Internet. It converted random crowds into communities. It is transforming and it brings us together.
Unfortunately, it also brought the bad things together.
Technology was designed to facilitate and reduce effort in whatever we do. People can now be warned easily and travel more simply.
The internet is what actually connected people with one another. Quite possibly the most revolutionary.
3) How do you relax?
I used to read books but I don’t anymore, I just don’t have time. I used to relax by playing video games and I used to do more social stuff.
Nowadays, I relax by playing with Nikolas, my son.
We play silly games like pretending my hand is a tunnel and he drives a train through it while making the sound effects.
Then I act like the tunnel is collapsing, and he acts like rescue dogs are coming to save the victims.
We play “the floor is lava,” and he also teaches me yoga. I get it wrong, so he shows me how to do it correctly, and of course I get it wrong again.
4) Which quote resonates with you?
I like the quote by Sir Isaac Newton – “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”
5) What is the best thing about your job?
There are a few things, but I think the best one is assessing the impact of data.
We do a data analysis on an indicator, and it quantifies the impact the transformation had on the organisation.
One of the most important aspects, in my opinion, is quantifying the transformation using objective data.
I guess the best thing about my job is crunching numbers. Vision is a gimmick, really. When you’re only selling vision, it’s usually because that’s all you’ve got.
You have to be pragmatic in order to get realistic outcomes.
6) If you could spend a day in someone else’s shoes, whose would they be and why?
If you spend a day in someone else’s shoes, it has to be done with some sort of enlightenment, like understanding someone’s burden.
In my opinion, the biggest issue in healthcare will fundamentally be access. It will become increasingly expensive, and not everyone will be able to consume it.
So the only way to understand how that would feel, or at least try to understand it, is to put yourself in the shoes of someone who does not have access to healthcare for themselves or their family.
I don’t think some people realise how hard that is.
If you fall, if you break your leg, if you fall sick, you have nowhere to turn to. I think we will get there, if not already there in certain places.
It is a basic human right, so we have to regulate how we consume healthcare so that it becomes sustainable; we are raising our health consumption year after year when it is not actually necessary.
So, by putting myself in the shoes of someone who does not have access to healthcare, I can understand how they truly feel and drive us further in providing sustainable healthcare.
It’s not business, it’s a service.
7) What is the one thing that we are not talking about?
The cost of healthcare.
We don’t talk about this type of sustainability. We are trying to make healthcare sustainable for the environment, but not for our fellow human beings, our society.
We are increasing the cost of healthcare to the point where some individuals may not be able to afford it. It is already happening in some places.
There are so many good innovations and transformations out there, but they are underutilised.
For example, there are these splint boots for patients with upper or lower trauma, and these splints are single-use.
They are expensive and harmful to the environment because they are made of plastic and rubber.
Often, people wear their splints for 4 days and then throw them away.
Why don’t we wash them and send them to places where they desperately need it, like where they bind sticks to their legs? That is outrageous.
8) Would you rather travel 100 years forward or back in time?
Forward. Absolutely. Even if it were a century ago, I would travel to the present.
If I were born a 100 years from now, I would still travel a 100 years into the future. I’m really just curious to see how we’d improve as a society because I know we’d be getting better.
And if we’re not there in 100 years, then I have my answer.
9) What advice would you give to 18 year old you (and would you have listened to you!)?
I would probably tell myself to be more patient and deliberate because, over the years, you realise that making a difference for yourself and others requires a long-term view.
You have to start looking further and further, and when I was younger, I was too eager to see the results of my efforts and
As you get older, you realise that this has less value than you believed. Time has a consolidating effect, sort of like filtering out the unimportant and retaining the essential.
I don’t think I would have listened to myself. As a teen, I was too impatient and uncertain.
10) What is your biggest regret?
Around 15 years ago, I was really anxious because I couldn’t select my single focus, which was between medicine and engineering.
I was struggling a little bit, I liked the patient contact and I loved programming, that creative feeling, problem solving, and providing user value.
But, I also like the interactions and the humanity that comes with medicine.
I had to make a decision, and over the years, I kept switching between more medical training or more engineering.
I regret not realising sooner that it was possible to combine the two. My thinking was too binary, one or the other.