Telehealth platforms have progressed immensely during the COVID-19 pandemic, given the urgent need for people to maintain social distancing for containing the deadly coronavirus. These platforms helped the outpatients and healthcare professionals to effectively receive and provide services, while also containing the virus.
Medefer Ltd is one of the leading players in the telehealth space, relentlessly delivering comprehensive solutions throughout the healthcare industry. The company is spearheaded by Dr Bahman Nedjat-Shokouhi, the CEO and Founder of Medefer Ltd.
In the following, Dr Nedjat-Shokouhi elaborates on how Medefer is successfully driving the virtual healthcare space to new zeniths through patient-centred service approach.
Below are the highlights from the interview:
Please brief our audience about Medefer, its mission, and the key aspects of its stronghold within the healthcare technology services niche.
Our vision at Medefer, is to be the world’s most patient-focused virtual healthcare service. We are on a mission to help patients get better faster, by partnering with the NHS to build the best unparalleled outpatient processes that provide patients with quicker access to care.
Our virtual outpatient pathway blends clinical expertise with a technology platform to enable a flexible NHS Consultant body, to radically improve the flow and speed in which outpatient care is delivered, transforming the patient experience. Medefer supports the NHS immediate pandemic recovery plans but also a long-term route to financial, environmental, and clinical sustainability.
Our technology enables small pockets of time available to a large body of highly talented GMC registered NHS Consultants to be aggregated, together to make a significant difference/impact to patient care. We mimic the Trusts processes, allowing real time metrics and monitoring. The granular level of data captured around the way the human interface works allows our data to inform the improvements in pathways and supporting technology.
Medefer’s service has never been timelier than in the recovery and sustainability of the NHS by ensuring that each patient receives personalised care.
Patient-first: We are driven to deliver an unrivalled healthcare experience for every patient.
Collaborative: We are deeply committed to working in partnership for the benefit of all.
Inventive: We challenge conventional thinking and continuously improve our solutions.
Here’s a list of Medefer’s awards and recognitions:
UCL Advances (2014), Seedcamp (2014), Pioneer 500 (2016), DigitalHealth.London (2017), General Practice Awards (2017), CEO Today Healthcare Awards (Winner 2018)), Selected top 10 UK Healthtech in June.
Tell us more about the offerings that give Medefer a distinctive edge to stand out from the competition?
There are so many interconnections in the world today, high performing people and systems all need to find the way to harness small incremental marginal gains, and that’s how Medefer is successful. With our consultants able to deliver up to 72% of your outpatient capacity (dependant on speciality) virtually, this leaves NHS teams to focus on those patients who really require face to face care; cancer and complex cases; interventional and surgical procedures.
We strive to improve outcomes for patients and clinicians, and in most cases from the point a GP colleague makes a referral, we have it reviewed and back to them for next steps within just 48 hours, creating a truly patient-focused health system. For patients it means they receive faster care but also, we significantly reduce their need to physically enter the hospital.
Our conception was driven to solve a very real problem with our own technology platform, and as a result we are at the forefront of innovation in outpatient services. We cover Trusts and Integrated Care Systems who have backlog and workforce recruitment issues, but the long-term goal of our services delivers innovation in the transformation of health and care.
What is your opinion on the effects of the current pandemic on the healthcare sector, and what challenges did you face during the initial phase of the pandemic?
COVID-19 forced a paradigm shift in healthcare globally – forcing health systems to change not just the modalities of interacting with patients but also to review long established clinical pathways and protocols.
As a provider of outpatient elective care, Medefer lost access to most complex investigations almost overnight. We had to adapt our clinical pathways to assess patients to ensure that those who were most at risk of harm were prioritised for access to limited elective investigation.
During COVID-19 the population has become more familiar with virtual pathways such as Medefer’s, opening up a wider range of patients that can be cared for in virtual clinic. Medefer has been utilising asynchronous technology enabled patient assessment for several years and was uniquely placed to provide significant capacity for patient assessment to Trusts and other healthcare systems struggling with back logs due to COVID-19.
The greatest opportunity in the digitalisation of patient care during COVID-19 has been the opportunity to drastically review the way in which patients are assessed, diagnosed, and treated. The tech enabled outpatient service helps patients achieve speedier reassurance, diagnosis, and treatment. COVID-19 has catalysed a decade’s worth of acceptance of change in the space of 18 months.
With continuous development in technologies such as AI and big data, what is your prediction about the future of the healthcare software services market?
There are two areas that big data will impact: advent of personalised care as more personal data can be analysed that will improve the clinical decision making for that patient, and improvements in operational delivery to reduce waste. In terms of personalised care, this will span across pre-emptive care, to chronic disease management. Another area of improvement in clinical care is the delivery of safer care, with the ability of the software to prompt the clinicians about possible treatments or risks.
With regards to operational delivery, predictive models will help healthcare organisations to optimise their operations, whilst on a larger population basis such predictive models will enable healthcare commissioners to predict changes to demand.
As an established leader, what would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts aspiring to venture into the healthcare software services niche?
It is critical to build the appropriate team with the correct mentality for a start-up and the skills needed to build a product in the highly specialised and emotive field of Healthcare. This is regardless of whether the software is designed to be used by patients, clinicians, or management.
Furthermore, healthcare is highly regulated, and due to software technology advances the regulatory landscape is evolving rapidly and in certain areas has not completely caught up. Therefore, the Minimum Viable Product will need to be more polished and functional than it would need to be in another field that is not as specialised and regulated as healthcare.
How do you envision on scaling Medefer’s operations and offerings in 2021?
The COVID pandemic has resulted in historically high waiting lists for outpatient services. The model of outpatient service delivery had not changed for 70 years, but the COVID pandemic has meant that hospitals and patients are more comfortable with virtual services. At Medefer, we have a track record of exemplary clinical safety for delivering specialist care virtually.
During 2021, we have been expanding the range of clinical specialties we offer and expanding our reach geographically to help as many hospitals as we possibly can. We have also been spending heavily on research and development to improve our platform and offer new and innovative services to the patients.
About the Leader
Neuroscientist, molecular biologist, and consultant gastroenterologist, Dr Bahman Nedjat-Shokouhi is the CEO and founder of Medefer in his own words, “I entered medicine, passionate about dedicating my life to better patient outcomes through scientific research. I didn’t intend to get into business, but it all started when I met a lady who had anxiously waited 11 weeks for a hospital review of her liver tests which turned out to be normal.
I decided to create the infrastructure to address issues like this, which can cause anxiety but also worsen clinical outcomes. That’s when I became excited about my ability to make a difference to patients’ lives by affecting change through the application of technology, and the way we as professionals interact with our workload to make a difference to patients’ lives at a very personal level.
I created an infrastructure that enables specialists to manage patients safely, effectively, reducing waiting times and risk of harm, whilst leveraging the knowledge in data we collect that’s lost in the traditional models of care.”
A natural entrepreneur, even as a junior doctor, just as the NHS was beginning to implement electronic systems, Bahman became aware of many inefficiencies within A&E, so he negotiated funding from the hospital, worked with a developer, and created a new programme that transformed the way patients were managed. It’s this innovative mind, dedication to patient care coupled with self-belief which has propelled Medefer to achieve the significant impact it does today.