Virtual healthcare provider Medefer raises £10M to digitise the outpatient journey

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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”.