Secure Messaging App Market in UK Healthcare Heats Up As Siilo Raise $5.1M and Forward $3.9M. Will M
The secure messaging app market in the UK healthcare space took another positive step forwards this week as two well respected companies raised $9M between them to advance their product roadmaps and focus on the NHS as a key early adopter market.
Siilo raised $5.1M led by EQT Ventures
“Our main competitor is always WhatsApp,” Rao tells TechCrunch. “Obviously there are also other players trying to move in this space. TigerText is the largest in the US. In the UK we come across local players like Hospify and Forward.
“A major difference we have very experienced in-house dev team… The experience of this team has helped to build a messenger that really can compete in usability with WhatsApp that is reflected in our rapid adoption and usage numbers.”
“Having worked in the trenches as a surgery resident, I’ve experienced the challenges that healthcare professionals face firsthand,” adds Bruggeman. “With Siilo, we’re connecting all healthcare professionals to make them more efficient, enable them to share patient information securely and continue learning and share their knowledge. The directory of vetted healthcare professionals helps ensure they’re successful team players within a wider healthcare network that takes care of the same patient.”
Siilo launched its app in May 2016 and has since grown to ~100,000 users, with more than 7.5 million messages currently being processed monthly and 6,000+ clinical chat groups active monthly.
“We haven’t come across any other secure messenger for healthcare in Europe with these figures in the App Store/Google Play rankings and therefore believe we are the largest in Europe,” adds Rao. “We have multiple large institutions across Western-Europe where doctors are using Siilo.”
On the security front, as well flagging the ISO 27001 certification the company has gained, he notes that it obtained “the highest NHS IG Toolkit level 3” — aka the now replaced system for organizations to self-assess their compliance with the UK’s National Health Service’s information governance processes, claiming “we haven’t seen [that] with any other messaging company
Forward Health raised $3.9M led by Stride.VC
Founded in 2016 by U.K. doctors Barney Gilbert and Lydia Yarlott, with serial entrepreneur Philip Mundy (who previously founded Goodlord), Forward Health is a messaging app and broader communications platform designed for healthcare professionals, particularly those working in hospitals.
One overly simple way to think of it is as a “WhatsApp for doctors,” helping to wean healthcare professionals off of using the popular messaging app professionally, which is entirely unsuited for a regulated industry like healthcare. However, the bigger vision is to “connect healthcare systems around the world” by improving clinician-to-clinician (and potentially clinician-to-patient) communication and information-sharing with a platform that is built from the get-go to be secure, flexible and compliant.
“Healthcare communication is incredibly fragmented,” Forward Healthcare’s Mundy tells me.
“This has a direct impact on how well clinicians can do their jobs and the level of care patients receive. Currently, doctors and nurses working within the NHS have to rely on an outdated and inefficient combination of pagers, landlines, switchboards and fax machines to contact each other. This 1960s infrastructure wastes huge amounts of time and can lead to critical delays in information flow.”
It is in this context that clinicians have resorted to alternative methods of communication, such as WhatsApp, which Mundy rightfully says are not fit for purpose and pose real risks.
“Any communication of this kind needs to support the exchange of highly sensitive patient information, any app used needs to be NHS digital compliant, GDPR compliant and operate within the highest levels of data security,” he explains. “WhatsApp and others don’t do this, meaning individual doctors could be liable should patient data be sent to the wrong contact or thread. Additionally, an app such as Forward is designed by and for doctors, meaning it can perform in just the right way.”
So if two of the main players have raised funds, the next question is, are the other players raising as well ?
In this context, Medcrowd and MedicBleep? So far they appear not to have raised funds to the extent of Siilo and Forward, however we could well see them announce raises in the next few months ...
MedicBleep - https://www.medicbleep.com
Medic Bleep has been developed as a simple and secure solution to the communication challenges that healthcare professionals and wider team in the NHS face while going about their everyday work. This means that if you work in the NHS, Medic Bleep can make your life easier by cutting down on wasted communication time.
We’ve made Medic Bleep super easy to use and available on 3 key platforms – web, iOS, and Android – so you can choose what works for you. If you spend the majority of your time at a desk, we suggest you go for our web version (which works in any browser). If you’re on your feet all day or constantly moving between locations then our iOS (iPhone) or Android mobile/tablet apps give you the flexibility to read and respond to messages on the move.
MedCrowd - https://www.medcrowd.com
medDigital was selected to join the first cohort of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator - a world-class programme that supports SMEs to develop digital health innovations for the NHS.
Through this program, medDigital developed medCrowd, a compliant messenger for health and care teams to work together more effectively and give the best care.
Health and care teams are using non-compliant messaging technologies, such as WhatsApp and Facebook Groups, to share confidential health and care information on a daily basis, despite clear guidance from NHS Digital and other professional bodies that only compliant technologies must be used. Therefore, we developed medCrowd to protect confidential health and care information to the right standards. Health and care teams can now join medCrowd and work together compliantly across different organisations all over the world.
Click here to read my previous blog posts covering all the major secure messaging apps in the UK - https://www.healthcare.digital/single-post/2017/10/15/WhatsApp-messaging-apps-and-the-future-of-digital-health-in-the-UK