30% of women in the UK will suffer from incontinent related issues after childbirth. Squeezy is a pelvic floor exercises app that is particularly aimed at women who are seeing a specialist physiotherapist for problems connected to their bladder, bowels or pelvic floor muscles as it can be tailored to a specific exercise programme and set to remind you when to do your exercises. Myra developed the app after Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, where she is a physiotherapist, saw over 1000 women each year come to the trust with these problems.
Squeezy is the top paid app under apples Medical category and costs £2.99 but with a 4.8 Star rating the cost is nothing to the women it is clearly helping.
Before the initial idea of Squeezy what was your professional background?
I have been a physiotherapist for over 25 years and have specialised in pelvic health issues for over 15 of those. I have also been a physiotherapy manager as well as a front-line clinician so my experience within the healthcare setting has been quite varied.
Where did the passion for helping women with incontinence come from?
Around 23 years ago, my senior went on maternity leave and informed that I was to take over her patients with bladder problems. I had no idea of what to do as this is a very specialised field within physiotherapy so I took myself off on a one day course by a leading physiotherapist in the field. I can clearly remember that day as a turning point professionally. I was hooked immediately by the science and detail involved in understanding the function of the bladder and bowels, the impressive amount of evidence for physiotherapy in pelvic conditions and the enormous potential for changing people's quality of life by addressing such distressing conditions as incontinence. I have never looked back...
Why did you decide that an app was the best platform to help other people?
I was chatting about work with a friend one day, in 2012, when he asked me what the single biggest challenge was in my job. I answered that it was supporting women to remember to do their pelvic floor muscle exercises. These are a keystone in the treatment of incontinence and prolapse and need to be performed between three and six times a day. He said "You could do an app for that" and the rest, as they say, is history...We brainstormed further and the following year the technology company he co-founded, Propagator, launched Squeezy with me.
What has been the biggest challenge with Squeezy?
Innovation within an organisation such as the NHS is very challenging. The work was not funded and we all did it in our spare time to start with. I cannot use any of my NHS time to work on Squeezy and I cannot receive any income from it in order to avoid a "conflict of interest" when I am recommending it to patients. No-one had done anything quite like it so the answers to all the questions I was asking tended to be "I don't know". I took the stance that unless someone said "no" to something, the answer could be assumed to be a "yes" but I was never sure that something would not go wrong!
I can imagine helping other women with something so personal must be quite rewarding. What has been your biggest achievement with Squeezy?
We have won several awards now but without a doubt it is the feedback that comes from so many angles, where users tell us that Squeezy has made a significant difference to their lives. Some of them have reduced the Squeezy team to tears and it is an incredible privilege to be able to work alongside people in areas that can be so intimate and embarrassing, and to help them turn a corner.
How do you maintain a good work, life balance?
I have learnt to have a long list and never expect to get through it! I work part-time in the NHS and have had to become fast and ruthlessly efficient at times. I have also learnt that the world will be unlikely to stop if I don't reply to an email or tick a box and that it is not worth worrying about it. Sometimes that works better than others!
What piece of advice would you give to other women setting up a business?
Take one small step at a time and expect the unexpected. I can remember desperately hoping that we would sell 100 Apps - now we have sold over 65,000 worldwide! Trust your instincts on what will be a good idea or innovation and find people you can trust to give you honest feedback and peer reviews.
What would present day you, say to you a year ago?
Enjoy it - even the chaos, the stress and the work. This has been the most exciting journey of my career!
Mrya Robson & Wyc Slingsby at the EHI awards winning with Squeezy
I think it's incredible what Myra and the team are achieving with Squeezy.
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