Digital currency exchange Coinbase has probably done more than most to push cryptocurrencies closer to the mainstream, earning an $8 billion valuation by private investors along the way. The company is reportedly eyeing a public listing next year, and is inarguably doing a lot of things right. However, that doesn’t mean its product experience is perfect. In fact, far from it.
In our latest UX teardown, with the help of Built for Mars founder and UX expert Peter Ramsey, we highlight some of Coinbase’s biggest user experience failings and offer ways to fix them. Many of these lessons can be applied to other existing digital products or ones you are currently building, including the need to avoid the “Get Started” trap, the importance of providing feedback, why familiarity often wins and other principles.
The ‘Get Started’ trap
Only use CTAs like “get started” or “learn more” if you’re actually teaching users something.
The fail: Coinbase doesn’t actually have any onboarding — but it looks like it does. It has a very prominent “get started” CTA, which actually just puts bitcoins in your basket. This isn’t helping you get started, it’s nothing more than an onboarding Trojan horse.
The fix: It’s simple: Don’t lie in your CTAs. You wouldn’t have “Email Support” as a CTA, and then just show the user a bunch of FAQs.
Steve O’Hear: This feels like another classic “bait and switch” and reeks of dark pattern design. However, what if it actually works to get users over the line and purchase their first bitcoin? Growth hackers, rejoice, no?
Peter Ramsey: You’re absolutely right, this may convert better. From a business point of view, this could be a brilliant little growth hack. However, something converting well doesn’t mean it was a good experience for the user. Look at clickbait-y journalism — it gets more eyeballs, but people aren’t generally happy with what they read.
I’m convinced that in the long term having a great product will perform better than frustrating short-term growth hacks.
As a general rule of thumb, all “states” — e.g., success/failure of an action — need to provide feedback to the user.
The fail: After adding a card, you click “Add Card,” and … it takes you back to the homepage. There’s no notice if it was successful or not. The user has no awareness if the action they were trying to do failed and they need to do it again. This is a real problem with digital products: All feedback needs to be thought of and built.
The fix: During the design phase, consider statuses and what the user will want feedback on. For example, if they’ve just added an item to their “wishlist,” how will you show them that the action was successful?
Caura, a new U.K. startup that aims to take the hassle out of car ownership, is breaking cover today. Founded by Sai Lakshmi, who previously co-founded Echo, the medication management service acquired by LloydsPharmacy owner McKesson, Caura is an iOS app designed to manage all of the vehicle-related admin that car owners endure.
Drivers are on-boarded to Caura by entering their vehicle registration number. They’ll then be able to manage parking, tolls, MOT, road tax, car insurance and congestion charges — a “one-stop shop” app in a similar vain to Echo, perhaps. The idea is that Caura minimises car ownership admin and helps to mitigate associated penalty fines.
“After my girlfriend racked up hundreds of pounds of parking fines, I started doing market research,” explains Lakshmi. “It was clear there was an opportunity to build something in the space that made life easier for drivers — after all, I’d just spent the past seven years thinking about how to make the NHS run smoothly — this should be easy in comparison! I toyed with several different models, including hardware, and after a few pretty direct conversations with some Apple engineering folks, decided to focus on the software platform: it would be more accessible to more people and easier to integrate with private and public services we’d need to interface with if we wanted to be a one-stop shop for your car.”
Lakshmi says that after purchasing his first car that shipped with Apple CarPlay, he was “blown away” by how slick the interface is for entertainment, communication and maps, but also became convinced there was more to be done in this space. “I then thought it would be brilliant to have one single app to add all your vehicle-related payments to streamline the experience, improve vehicle compliance and make paying for parking and the ever-changing digital road landscape simple,” he says.
Image Credits: Caura
Once you’ve downloaded the app and entered your vehicle registration number, you can view the status of your car’s tax, MOT and insurance renewal dates. From the home screen, you can also pay for selected parking, toll roads and congestion charges.
The FCA-approved app integrates with Apple Pay or will safely store payment details, which can be used to pay car charges “in just two clicks.” In-app notifications also remind you when it’s time to pay, with Caura promising to reduce the millions of automated fines or penalty charge notices that are issued to Brits each year.
“There are dozens of platforms that drivers need to manage just one car,” notes Lakshmi. “On a more regular basis, you need a dozen parking apps and other websites to manage your drive. These all have their own log-ins, forms and payment details and the whole experience is a dog’s dinner. There are apps that insist on CVC codes being entered every time you use them and others that insist on SMS messages for reminders, which is so 2000, not 2020. Also, if you get any of this wrong, you get lumped with automated fines.”
Caura can be used for a single vehicle, but can also support multiple registered vehicles, meaning it can potentially scale for fleet managers. An Android version is also promised by the end of the year.
Lakshmi says he and his co-founders — Shaun Foce (director of engineering) and Bhavin Kotecha (chief of staff and finance director) — have already raised £1.4 million for Caura. Backing comes from various unnamed angels, although he says 50% of Caura’s investors have connections to his previous company.
Asked how the startup generates revenue, “Right now, we don’t,” replies the Caura founder. “We’re just passing through these payments to the final provider like congestion charge and parking. Given the seismic shift in investor mindset from crazy growth to building profitable businesses, our long-term business model is most certainly something with sustainable unit economics. It’s currently in the oven and we’re really excited to share more in Q4 2020 later this year.”
Kindred Capital, the London-based VC that backs early-stage founders in Europe, has closed its second seed fund at £81 million.
That’s only a tad larger than the the firm’s first fund, which invested in 29 companies and was raised in 2018. Portfolio companies from fund one include Five, which is building software for autonomous vehicles; Paddle, the SaaS for software e-commerce; Pollen, the peer-to-peer marketplace for experiences and travel; and Farewill, which lets you create a will online.
However, perhaps what really sets Kindred apart from most other seed VCs is its “Equitable Venture”. This sees the founders it backs get carry in the fund, effectively becoming co-owners of Kindred. Once the VC’s LPs have their investment returned, like the firm’s partners, the founders also share any subsequent fund profits, as long as they have passed the vesting period.
More broadly, Kindred says the idea is this extra incentive encourages a collective model, in which founders actively help each other achieve their goals. “This has also had a positive impact on deal flow, with entrepreneurs sourcing 38% of Kindred’s dealflow at the top of the funnel,” says the VC.
Notably, Kindred projects that around £5 million will be returned to founders from the first find, profit that would otherwise have gone to its own General Partners. Presuming those exits are realised, based on two founders per startup, a quick back of the napkin calculation suggests that’s just over £80,000 each.
Meanwhile, Kindred already begun investing from its second fund. It has led 10 seed investments in companies such as BotsAndUs, Gravity Sketch and Beit.
LPs in Fund two include: University of Chicago, Industry Ventures, Generation Ventures, Sands Capital, British Patient Capital, Isomer, and Legal & General. Founders such as Taavet Hinrikus (TransferWise), Carsten Thoma (Hybris), and Rishi Khosla (Oak North), have also invested in Kindred’s second fund.
If venture capitalists could predict the future, why wouldn’t they just start companies themselves? That’s the question Hussein Kanji, founding partner at Hoxton Ventures, asked rhetorically at Disrupt 2020.
“If anyone says that they have predictive power in this industry and says they know where the future is gonna be, I just question the wisdom of this,” he said during a session exploring how VCs seek out new markets before they even exist. “Because if you could figure it out, you could come up with the idea, you’re capable enough to be able to put all the pieces together, why would you not found the business?”
Instead, the key to betting on the future is to learn to ask the stupid questions. “I think it’s actually perfectly fine in the venture industry to not be the smart person and to kind of train yourself to be stupid and ask the stupid questions,” said Kanji. “I think a lot of people are probably too shy to do that. And a lot of people [are] probably too risk averse to then write the check when they don’t really understand exactly what it is that they’re investing into. But a lot of this stuff is a lightbulb moment”.
One of those lightbulb moments was Hoxton Ventures’ investment in Deliveroo, the takeout food delivery service that competes with UberEats and helped turn almost every restaurant into a food delivery service. However, Kanji reminded us that the European unicorn wasn’t the first company to try takeout delivery, but new technology, in the form of cheap smartphones coupled with GPS and routing algorithms, meant the timing was now right.
“People did try delivery,” he said, “they tried it back in the 90s. Everyone forgets about that. There’s a company in New York City called Cosmo that would go off and like get you a pint of ice cream on demand. You know, it never worked because they used pagers. Like, do you remember pagers? Like, that’s how they ran the fleet. They couldn’t move the fleet around. They couldn’t get the driver to the apartment and the driver to the store in any kind of efficient way… The breakthrough for delivery, and for that whole industry, was you had smartphones, you could give smartphones to the drivers, you could track what the driver was doing, which is good because then you could route logistics, you know, with a smartphone… light bulb moment”.
Kanji said that, although they are very different businesses and markets, Hoxton’s two other unicorns, Babylon and Darktrace, involved similar lightbulb moments. Yet you don’t get that light bulb moment until someone walks in the door and explains it to you. “Then your natural question is… why now… what’s actually changed? Like, what makes this so interesting? Why didn’t someone come up with this a year ago? There’s almost always usually a reason for that kind of stuff. And then then the harder part of the job is … are you really picking number one?”
Entering or helping to create new markets is often not without controversy — which both Babylon and Deliveroo has attracted for different reasons. As real disruption inevitably creates societal consequences, it often raises ethical questions that, the Hoxton co-founder argues, aren’t always possible to anticipate early on. However, as the picture becomes clearer, he says VCs should absolutely care, along with, of course, founders and CEOs.
“One of the constant criticisms in the tech industry is, I think the maturity of our industry… we behave more like teenagers. And it’s great to be libertarian, it’s great to be free markets and say markets are gonna sort it out. But you’re gonna have touch points with a lot of other places in society. You’ve got to figure out, and I think, get ahead in terms of…what the impact is going to be, and be more responsible”.
Crista Galli Ventures, a new early-stage health tech fund in Europe, officially launched last week. The firm offers “patient capital” — with only a single LP (the Danish family office IPQ Capital) — and promises to provide portfolio companies with deep healthcare expertise and the extra runway needed to get over regulatory and efficacy hurdles and to the next stage.
The firm has an initial $65 million to deploy and is led by consultant radiologist Dr. Fiona Pathiraja. With offices in London and Copenhagen, it operates as an “evergreen” fund, meaning it doesn’t follow traditional five-year VC fundraising cycles.
In fact, Crista Galli Ventures’ pitch is that traditional venture isn’t well-suited to early-stage health tech where it can take significantly longer to find product-market fit with healthcare practitioners and systems and then become licensed by local regulators.
To dig deeper into this and CGV’s investment remit more generally, I interviewed Pathiraja about what she looks for in health tech founders and startups. We also discussed Crista Galli LABS, which operates alongside the main fund and backs founders from underrepresented backgrounds at the pre-seed stage.
TechCrunch: You describe Crista Galli Ventures (CGV) as an early-stage health tech fund that offers patient capital and backs companies in Europe. In particular, you cite deep tech, digital health and personalised healthcare. Can you elaborate a bit more on the fund’s remit and what you look for in founders and startups at such an early stage?
Dr. Fiona Pathiraja: We like founders with bold ideas and international ambitions. We look for mission-driven founders who believe their companies can make a real and positive impact on the lives of people and patients the world over.
We will look for founders who deeply understand the problem they are trying to tackle from all angles — especially the patient’s perspective, but also that of the clinician and relevant regulators — and we want to see that they are building their solutions to solve this. This means they will make an effort to understand the complex and nuanced healthcare landscape and all the stakeholders in it.
In terms of founder characteristics, in my opinion, the best founders will be mission driven, able to tell a compelling story, and motivate others to join them. Grit and resilience are important and several of our portfolio companies were founded around 6-8 years ago and they are doggedly continuing to build.
Infarm, the vertical farming company that has built a network of urban farms to grow fresh food closer to consumers, has raised $170 million in new investment in a “first close” of a Series C.
Leading the round — which is expected to reach $200 million and is a mixture of equity and debt — is LGT Lightstone, with participation from Hanaco, Bonnier, Haniel, and Latitude. Existing Infarm investors Atomico, TriplePoint Capital, Mons Capital and Astanor Ventures also followed on. It brings the company’s total funding to date to more than $300 million.
That’s likely testament to the speed of new retail partnerships over the last twelve months. They include Albert Heijn (Netherlands), Aldi Süd (Germany), COOP/Irma (Denmark), Empire Company’s Sobeys, Safeway, and Thrifty Foods (Canada), Kinokuniya (Japan), Kroger (U.S.), and Marks & Spencer and Selfridges (U.K.).
With operations across 10 countries and 30 cities worldwide, Infarm says it now harvests over 500,000 plants monthly, and in a much more sustainable way than traditional farming and supply chains. Its modular, IoT-powered vertical farming units claim to use 99.5% less space than soil-based agriculture, 95% less water, 90% less transport and zero chemical pesticides. In addition, 90% of electricity used throughout the Infarm network is from renewable energy and the company has set a target to reach zero emission food production next year.
Founded in 2013 by Osnat Michaeli, and brothers Erez and Guy Galonska, Infarm’s “indoor vertical farming” system is capable of growing herbs, lettuce and other vegetables. It then places these modular farms in a variety of customer-facing city locations, such as grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, and schools, thus enabling the end-customer to actually pick the produce themselves. To further scale, it also installs Infarms in local distribution centres.
The distributed system is designed to be infinitely scalable — you simply add more modules, space permitting — whilst the whole thing is cloud-based, meaning the farms can be monitored and controlled from Infarm’s central control centre. It’s also incredibly data-driven, a combination of IoT, Big Data and cloud analytics akin to “Farming-as-a-Service”.
The idea, the founding team told me back in 2017 when I profiled the nascent company, isn’t just to produce fresher and better tasting produce and re-introduce forgotten or rare varieties, but to disrupt the supply chain as a whole, which remains inefficient and produces a lot of waste.
“Behind our farms is a robust hardware and software platform for precision farming,” explained Michaeli at the time. “Each farming unit is its own individual ecosystem, creating the exact environment our plants need to flourish. We are able to develop growing recipes that tailor the light spectrums, temperature, pH, and nutrients to ensure the maximum natural expression of each plant in terms of flavor, colour, and nutritional quality”.
On that note, I caught up with two of Infarm’s founders to get a brief update on the Berlin-headquartered company and to dive a little deeper into how it will continue to scale.
TechCrunch: What assumptions did you make early on that have turned out to be true or, more interestingly, not panned out as expected?
Osnat Michaeli: When we first chatted about four years ago…, we were 40 people in Berlin and much of the conversation centered around the potential that our approach to urban vertical farming might have for retailers. While for many it was intriguing as a concept, we couldn’t have imagined that a few years later we would have expanded to almost 10 countries (Japan is on its way) and 30 cities, with partnerships with some of the largest retailers in the world. Our assumptions at the time were that retailers and their customers would be attracted to the taste and freshness of produce that grew right in front of them in the produce section, in our farms.
What we didn’t anticipate was how much and how quickly the demand for a sustainable, transparent and modular approach to farming would grow as we, as society, begin to feel the impact of climate change and supply chain fragility upon our lives, our choices and our food. Of course we also did not anticipate a global pandemic, which has underscored the urgency of building a new food system that can democratize access to high quality, amazing tasting food, while helping our planet regenerate and heal. The past few months have confirmed the flexibility and resilience of our farming model, and that our mission is more relevant than ever.
In terms of signing on new retailers, based on your progress in the last 12 months, I’m guessing this has got easier, though undoubtedly there are still quite long lead times. How have these conversations changed since you started?
Erez Galonska: While lead times and speed of conversations can vary depending upon the region and retailer. In mature markets where the concept is familiar and we’re already engaged, deal conversations can reach maturity in as little time as 3 months. Since we last spoke we are already working with most of the leading retailers that are well established in Europe, U.K. and North America. Brands which in each of their markets are both forerunners in a retail industry rapidly evolving to meet the demand for consumer-focused innovation, while proving that access to sustainable, high quality, fresh and living produce is not only possible, but can be available in produce aisles today, and every day of the year, with Infarm.
I’m interested to understand where Infarms are installed, in terms of if the majority is in-store and consumer-facing or if the most scalable and bulk of Infarm’s use-cases are really much larger distribution hubs in cities or close to cities i.e. not too far away from places with population/store density but not actually in stores. Perhaps you can enlighten me on what the ratio looks like today and how you see it developing as vertical farming grows?
Erez Galonska: Today across our markets, the split between our farms in stores and in distribution centers is roughly 50:50. However as you anticipate, we will be expanding our network this year with many more distribution hubs. This expansion will likely lead to an 80:20 split as early as next year, with the majority of our regions being served with fresh, living produce delivered throughout the week from centrally-located hubs. This not only offers retailers and restaurants flexibility in terms of volumes of output, and the ability to adapt the presentation of our offerings to floor areas of different sizes, but it also allows us to begin to serve whole regions from our next generation farms under development today.
Based in our hubs, these farms will deliver the crop-equivalent of an acre or more of fresh produce on a 25 m2 footprint, with significant further savings in energy, water, labor and land-use. We believe this technology will truly challenge ideas of what is possible in sustainable, vertical farming and we look forward to talking about it more soon.
Lastly, what are the main product lines in terms of food on the shelves?
Osnat Michaeli: We have a catalog of more than 65 herbs, microgreens, and leafy greens, that is constantly growing. Our offerings range from the known and common varieties like Coriander, Basil, or Mint, to specialty products like Peruvian Mint, Red Veined Sorrel or Wasabi Rucola.
Because our farms give us excellent control over every part of a plant’s growth process, and can imitate the complexity of different ecosystems, we will be able to expand the diversity of Infarm produce available to consumers to include root vegetables, mushrooms, flowering crops and even superfoods from around the world in the near future. What you see today with Infarm is still only the beginning.
Outfunnel, a startup that has built software to help companies “bridge the gap between marketing and sales functions,” has quietly raised €1.1 million in funding.
The pre-seed round was led by Paua Ventures and byFounders, with participation from Lemonade Stand, Omnisend and various angel investors. The latter includes Bolt co-founders Markus and Martin Villig, Matterport CMO Robin Daniels, Pipedrive co-founder Ragnar Sass, and long-time Skype exec Sten Tamkivi, amongst others.
Formed in 2017, Outfunnel’s founders are marketing veteran Andrus Purde (previously of Skype and Pipedrive), Andris Reinman (creator of open-source email projects like Nodemailer and WildDuck) and Markus Leming. The startup has developed what it dubs a “revenue marketing automation tool” that is designed to enable sales and marketing functions to work together to drive revenue.
“SMBs still struggle to unite sales and marketing data,” Purde tells me. “Money and time is wasted setting up workflows, connecting databases with digital duct tape and manually pulling reports… This [also] means that everyone misses opportunities, as well as revenue goals”.
Furthermore, salespeople have no context for sales conversations and don’t know which leads are ready to buy, and the leadership don’t easily have “big picture” visibility into the effectiveness of campaigns. “Last but not least, all of us receive lots of ‘spam’ instead of relevant messages,” he says.
To solve this, Outfunnel’s secret sauce sees it integrate deeply with CRMs (currently Pipedrive, Copper, and Hubspo, with more to follow) coupled with various features such as automated emails in sync with CRM data, reporting, and precise targeting. The startup has already won over more than 400 paying customers, with North America being its biggest market, followed by larger European countries and Australia.
“Our typical customer is a small to medium-sized business that needs both sales and marketing and where sales cycles are longer, not transactional,” adds Purde. “That’s roughly 25% of all SMBs according to our estimations e.g. businesses selling professional services, consulting, real estate, healthcare… That said, we have some better-known scale-ups as customers, too, such as Bolt”.
Gravity Sketch, the London-based product design and collaboration platform that utilises virtual reality, has raised $3.7 million in funding.
The seed round was led by Kindred Capital, with participation from Point Nine Capital and previous investor Forward Partners. It brings the total amount raised by Gravity Sketch to $5.4 million. In addition, the startup previously received grant funding from InnovationRCA and the James Dyson Foundation.
Founded in 2014 by Oluwaseyi Sosanya, Daniela Paredes and Daniel Thomas, Gravity Sketch wants to change the way physical products are designed, developed, and brought to market. It offers 3D design software for cross-disciplinary teams so that they can “create, collaborate, and review” in a much more frictionless way, including via virtual reality in which collaboration can take place in 3D and real-time. The idea is to help speed up development cycles, especially involving globally-distributed and increasingly remote teams.
“Collaboration is increasingly important as time frames are shortened and consumers request products sooner, with more features, and produced more sustainably,” says Oluwaseyi Sosanya, CEO and co-founder of Gravity Sketch. “There is also a surge in multinational companies growing globally distributed design and engineering teams, who need to stay connected in order to deliver with the same accuracy they once did being in the same location. Small-to-mid-sized design firms who service large companies must also adopt this approach in order to win business — they often gain work from international clients that are unable to meet face to face as frequently as their domestic clients, and are also held to extremely high standards of delivery”.
In addition to pressure brought about by faster product cycles and remote working, the product design process itself isn’t always optimum, involving multiple teams with different disciplines and software tools and a jump from 2D to 3D. “When we talk about designing a physical product, we’re imagining this object in 3D,” says Sosanya. “However, for many years we have had to bring out that idea through 2D mediums, or through rough physical models. All physical products start with 2D sketches, which are then painstakingly translated to digital 3D models and then produced through standard manufacturing processes”.
To mitigate this, Gravity Sketch brings the designer into the digital 3D space from the initial sketch phase, which gives them greater control over the initial idea and how it develops. The full design team can then join the same VR space to get a full understanding of the design from the designer’s perspective before investing time and resources.
“The designer can more accurately get all stakeholders on the same page at the ideation phase,” Sosanya explains. “With VR we can leverage the fact that everyone thinks in 3D and offer a solution that sidesteps the 2D visualisation step which is present in every design process, so users can think in 3D and create in 3D. It’s sort of like a Zoom meeting in 3D, helping everyone understand the yet to be materialised product from their own vantage point”.
Furthermore, content created in Gravity Sketch can further the design pipeline, meaning there is no need to create different views of a design or have to create a 3D model in another tool. Gravity Sketch designs can be exported to almost all of the CAD tools on the market with a claimed 100% accuracy.
It seems to be resonating, too, with some of the world’s leading companies, such as Ford, Nissan, and Reebok, using Gravity Sketch, alongside 60 universities and over 50,000 creative professionals worldwide.
Meanwhile, Gravity Sketch says the new funding will enable the company to scale up the platform to become “entirely hardware-agnostic”. It currently works with a range of virtual reality hardware, and is in beta for iPad, mobile, and desktop.
Crista Galli Ventures, an early-stage health tech fund in Europe, is officially launching today. The firm offers “patient capital” — with only a single LP (the Danish family office IPQ Capital) — and promises to provide portfolio companies with deep healthcare expertise and the extra runway needed to get over regulatory and efficacy hurdles and to the next stage.
Companies already backed by Crista Galli Ventures (CGV) include Skin Analytics, which is using AI to improve diagnosis of skin cancer; Quibim, which is applying AI to the field of radiomics; and Ampersand Health, which is developing digital therapies for patients with inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s disease, to name just three out of 15.
Led by consultant radiologist Dr. Fiona Pathiraja, and with offices in London and Copenhagen, CGV operates as an “evergreen” fund, meaning it doesn’t follow traditional five-year VC fundraising cycles. Initially, the VC firm has $65 million in deployable — so called — patient capital.
“We like to invest across the broad areas of deep tech, digital health and personalised healthcare,” Pathiraja tells TechCrunch. “We prefer technology solutions that make the lives of patients easier and better and, in some cases, that help support people’s health before they become patients. Part of our remit is also for tech solutions within the healthcare industry that improve efficiency and productivity of providers.”
Alongside the main fund, CGV is also unveiling Crista Galli LABS, which, in part, aims for greater diversity in health tech by backing founders from underrepresented backgrounds at the pre-seed stage. In addition to pre-seed investment, startups accepted into the program have access to mentoring and coaching from the CGV team.
“When I was in hospital, there were people from all backgrounds there and this was the norm… [but] this really wasn’t my experience when I started investing,” explains Pathiraja. “I am struck by how homogeneous both founder teams and investment teams can be. Whilst our core investment focus is seed and Series A, Crista Galli LABS invests smaller ticket sizes in outstanding pre-seed founders and ensures that at least 50% of these are from under-represented backgrounds. This means those who are female, BAME, LGBT to start with.”
Medefer, the U.K.-based virtual healthcare provider that, in its own words, is “reimagining” the outpatient system, is disclosing £10 million in new funding.
The round was led by private investment firm Nickleby Capital, and will be used to grow the team and invest in technology to “service new contracts, enable new product development and ensure scalable and robust growth”.
Founded in 2013 by NHS consultant Dr Bahman Nedjat-Shokouhi, and launched the following year, Medefer is a CQC regulated healthcare provider that has developed a digital platform that connects GPs, consultants, and patients, with the aim of delivering a more efficient outpatient system.
Described as an “outpatient operating system” coupled with a nationwide network of contracted NHS consultants working remotely, Medefer claims to manage the patient pathway — from referral to triage to investigation, diagnosis and discharge — without the need for unnecessary physical outpatient appointments.
Headline features include cases being reviewed by NHS consultants within 10 hours on average, compared to several weeks using traditional models. For NHS Trusts and CCGs using Medefer, the company claims that outpatient costs are cut by a third, and waiting lists reduced by 70%, in part due to being able to remove duplication in consultations, such as seeing a consultant only to be told that a test or scan is needed first.
That’s likely an oversimplification, yet anyone who has gone through the outpatient referral journey will know there are often inefficiencies simply due to non-optimal information sharing and an inflexible patient journey.
“The outpatient model has not changed since before the inception of the NHS, and has significant inefficiencies,” says Nedjat-Shokouhi. “With increasing patient numbers, the inefficiencies have resulted in growing waiting lists, and of course this has been significantly worsened by the pandemic”.
This has seen many healthcare providers going ‘digital’ and setting up video consultations instead of face-to-face consultations. However, paradoxically, this can worsen inefficiencies “because some of the patients who have a video consultation will need to be reviewed physically for examination as well, doubling the work”.
To remedy this and create further efficiencies and better patient care, Medefer says it reviewed all of the steps across the patient pathway, and reckons it has come up with a better way of working.
“Our digital platform removes inefficiencies and duplication, resulting in a significantly streamlined and faster pathway,” says Nedjat-Shokouhi. “Furthermore, we enable NHS consultants to work in their own time. This provides additional clinical capacity back into the NHS that would have otherwise not been utilised”.