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Robbie Hughes: “Great technology should support better processes”


Robbie Hughes

Role and company:

CEO and founder of Qinec

Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric): 

This year we are on track to double our revenues for the second year running, which will be in the multiple millions.

Employee numbers: 


Growth forecast for the next three years: 

We aim to stick as close as we can to our current growth rate and therefore hope our revenues to be in the order of £10m

In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace: 

Qinec is the delivery model for 21st century healthcare. By standardising processes and aligning them with best practice, we create better data that leads to better decisions and, therefore, a better business. We don’t sell software; we provide an operating model.

What’s the big vision for your business? 

To change the way outpatient care is delivered. We believe that great technology should support better processes that are of benefit to both patients and clinicians. Healthcare is a big jigsaw puzzle and we help clinicians put the pieces together. If they have better, more insightful data, then they can make timely decisions that lead to a fast, efficient service.

Current level of international business, and future aspirations: 

We currently have deployments of our software in the US and South Africa and will be able to include installations in several European countries in the next few months. This is incredibly exciting for us. The plan is to see what the demand is like in the regions for our platform and if there is an opportunity for us, we will look at expanding into new territories in the coming year. 

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:  

I’ve made some poor hiring decisions and not taken action quickly enough to remedy the situation. You want to give people the benefit of the doubt, but all too often this just drags the situation out and makes the problem worse. The impact that one wrong person can have on the business and the motivation/morale of the people that work for you is startling. Now, if I make a mistake, I try to be quicker to spot the warning signs and take action. It might not be an original answer, but its something I hope people can learn from.

What makes you mad in business today? 

The one thing that really riles me is when a competitor misrepresents what they or we do. Often, they might say to a prospect ‘oh we can do that’ when in fact they can’t. It’s not fair on the client or their patients, yet they do it to get the business with no thought to the ramifications. Keeping your promises is hugely important for a business and trust is easily lost if you fail to do so.

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?

The shift away from activity based healthcare towards value based healthcare, which focuses more on outcomes. In looking to adapt to this new approach, many clinicians in both the private and public healthcare sector will find their systems wanting and will be forced to change. This will create demand for a solution like ours as it is built from the ground up around the value-based healthcare model.

Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow” If not, what can be done to improve things? 

Healthcare is ‘in vogue’ right now from an investment perspective. Whilst it might be highly topical it is also highly complex and so, for outsiders, it can be a difficult market to penetrate. This means that whilst funding is available, it might not be from traditional resources. For example, you would probably be more likely to get funding from The Kings Fund then you would your bank manager. 

How would others describe your leadership style  

I think (hope) that people would describe my management style as relaxed and fair.  I try to be in the office as much as possible and having done every job in the business, still help wherever I can across the company. This is getting less and less though as I am now able to employ a large number of people who are smarter than me, so I tend to do more harm than good!

Your biggest personal extravagance  

Shoes. I seem to have acquired a lot of shoes. I have identical pairs in different colours because they are just right. Detail is important to me and when something is right then I don’t compromise. Life is too short for sore feet 🙂

You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:

Simplify the tax code and remove the various different incentives which just serve to overcomplicate things. The irony is that they are supposed to be making life easier for businesses, but in reality the cost of taking advantage of the incentives and understanding tax codes is huge, and what’s more they create perverse behaviours. It is surely better to simplify and let the market decide wherever possible.

Political parties always seem to say that they will make things simpler, but instead they bring in their own schemes and incentives aimed at different groups. Stop! I would encourage David Cameron to rip up the rule book and focus on the basics.


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