The floundering National Health Service (NHS) in the UK is by no estimate in the best shape, a victim of chronic underfunding and understaffing that have led to excruciating waiting times and mass strikes by healthcare professionals.
But in the midst of chaos, opportunities often linger. A growing number of startups are capitalizing on the UK’s struggling healthcare system by raising funds for platforms that provide access to private medical imaging services, or helping to solve staff shortages.
And then there’s MediShout, a London-based company that proclaims to be a “one-stop app” for reporting operational deficiencies in hospitals, enabling staff to track status updates and new orders, similar to how one might do with their Uber Ride or Amazon Order.
MediShout, founded by Dr. Ash Kalraiya in 2013, unites all helpdesks and medical suppliers in one single app. It started as a side project as Kalraiya continued his role as a full-time orthopedic surgeon; However, Kalraiya enlisted Dr. Ali Bahsoun as co-founder and chief product officer (CPO) in 2020 to jump-start MediShout as a full-time company. The startup then raised £167,000 ($211,000) in angel funding before closing a £1 million ($1.25 million) pre-seed funding round of Episode 1 in September 2020.
Kalraiya told Acutely.info that he expects MediShout to be profitable next year, and to drive the next phase of growth, it has now raised a further £4.3 million ($5.4 million) in seed funding.
“Like ordering on Amazon”
Under the hood, MediShout essentially bundles vendors, help desks, and operations departments and attempts to replace existing tools such as faxes, emails, paper forms, and help desk software (e.g., ServiceNow).
“As a front-line surgeon, I witnessed operational issues that got in the way of the best patient care on a daily basis,” said Kalraiya. “Patient care would routinely be delayed or canceled due to avoidable problems such as faulty lights, broken printers or missing equipment.”
At a time when healthcare providers are already under a lot of pressure, equipment failure is an added burden that they really don’t need. For example, it can take up to nine hours to repair a faulty endoscope across multiple different staff members, in part due to the workflows of multiple departments and equipment suppliers. This can include paperwork, phone calls and numerous logistical measures to arrange delivery and collection of the device. And all this before we even think about unexpected hurdles and bottlenecks.
“The big problem is not only that staff’s time is wasted, but often (medical) procedures are canceled because communication was too slow and devices didn’t come back fast enough,” said Kalraiya.
Kalraiya says MediShout can cut the amount of time in half to about 4.5 hours in this case, with all reports and updates submitted digitally through an app and all relevant stakeholders automatically notified.
“The supplier sends back messages and status updates in real time for all hospital staff to see,” said Kalraiya. “No paperwork is required and staff don’t have to call their supplier to go after them. This process is now like ordering on Amazon, where everything is digitized and data can be viewed in real time.”
The main problem MediShout is trying to solve is that hospitals typically use hundreds of different systems from different vendors, each with very different processes and approaches to communication – this includes facilities, porters, equipment, sterile services, IT, HR and more.
“This makes healthcare ecosystems extremely complex and difficult for staff to navigate, preventing them from providing efficient care to patients,” said Kalraiya. “We solve this problem by providing the world’s first app that unites all helpdesks, suppliers and operational departments.”
MediShout’s largest customers are medical equipment and facility management companies, who pay MediShout through a monthly subscription to plug into the platform, which then digitizes and bridges their services for hospitals, most of which are part of the NHS.
“One supplier is currently scaling us up to over 100 hospitals in the UK and beyond,” said Kalraiya. “We also sell direct to hospitals, particularly the NHS.”
Kalraiya also said it currently has some AI work in the R&D stage, which – when commercialized – could help predict when future issues might arise. For example, the company can view all medical equipment data from hospitals, including details about equipment that has broken down in the past 15 years.
“Based on usage and frequency of repairs, we started predicting when equipment like ECG (electrocardiography) machines were likely to fail,” Kalraiya said. “You can then carry out planned maintenance to prevent malfunctions performance.”
MediShout, which today has 22 employees, is currently operational in the UK and Ireland, although it aims to expand further into mainland Europe with its new cash injection.
“I have worked as a surgeon in many countries, and this one [operational] there are problems everywhere,” Kalraiya added.
The MediShoud seed round was led by Nickleby Capital, with participation from KHP Ventures, Episode1 and several individuals from Atomico’s Angels program.