The COVID-19 pandemic caused a heavy influx of patients in hospitals worldwide, and most countries struggled to keep up. News of equipment and bed shortages were expected, but the London based medtech startup Doccla was using its tech to help people of the UK get hospital beds. Basically, the startup sets up virtual wards at home for patients who require monitoring but don’t need to be kept in the hospital. It has now raised £2.4 million in its seed round. 

Expansion and innovation

The latest funding round for Doccla was led by Giant Ventures, and early-stage technology VC, Speedinvest. In a conversation with UKTN, the company’s CEO and co-founder Dag Larsson reveals how this funding will be utilised. He notes that the fresh funds will be primarily used to further upgrade and innovate the technology used by the startup and there’s European expansion on the cards as well. 

“We intend to use the new funds to invest in its technology, including predictive analytics tools and integrations with the latest medical wearables and journal record systems, as well as expanding clinical capacity to support NHS Trusts’ staffing rota, particularly out of hours. We also have an eye on expanding into new European healthcare markets,“ Larsson reveals. 

Cameron McLain, Managing Partner & Co-Founder from Giant Ventures comments, “Doccla provides a vital solution for a strained healthcare system, delivering a product that improves the patient experience and tackles cost. It has the potential to transform the traditional healthcare industry and we are thrilled to be supporting Martin, Dag, and the team on this exciting journey.”

Doccla currently employs 15 people and expects to increase their headcount to 30 by next year. 

Reimagining hospital care

Doclla works directly with NHS Trusts to enable better patient care and relieve the pressures faced by NHS teams. It sets up virtual wards using remote medical monitoring solutions, such as wearable IoT devices, to enable clinicians monitor a patient’s vital signs remotely via a web browser. Larsson says, “Our uniqueness comes from our ability to take wide operational responsibility for the virtual ward from end-to-end. This enables clinical staff to focus on the most important part of their jobs – treating and monitoring patients.”

The startup issues a Doccla kit box to the patient when they are discharged from the hospital or sends it to their address. “The kit contains a wide range of best-in-class medical tech that can measure physiological parameters such as heart rate, respiration rate, body temperature, sp02, blood pressure, etc,” Larsson notes. 

Doccla’s virtual wards are claimed to have saved thousands of bed days for the NHS. It has also apparently helped achieve a 29% reduction in Emergency Admissions and a 20% reduction in A&E attendance. Its at home virtual hospital ward technology also helps lower costs for the NHS. 

Doccla, the pandemic and the challenges

As per Doccla, the pandemic pushed it to rapidly scale virtual wards to serve overwhelmed hospitals as well as recovering covid patients, and chronic respiratory and heart patients. As per Larsson, the biggest challenges faced by the company was to build its product while facing high demand. 

“When the pandemic hit, we were catapulted forward in the most unexpected way. We found that our small team had to quickly set-up virtual Covid wards to support overwhelmed hospitals, while running a research project with Northamptonshire General Hospital NHS Trust in parallel. We were packing Doccla kit boxes at high speeds to keep up with the demand of our NHS partners,” Larsson reveals. 

After pushing through the pandemic, the company now has over 20 different clinical pathways and supports a wide range of patient groups, including ones in pre- and post-op procedures. 

The future

While Doccla is certainly pushing ahead with its latest funding and futuristic ambitions, it remains to be seen how things will turn out in the future. Larsson thinks that virtual hospitals will only witness increased demand over time. “We see virtual hospitals being scaled up to alleviate pressures on the healthcare systems when times get tight and, with the NHS having the waiting lists of all time, it will serve to help reduce patient times in hospitals and free up beds,” he notes. 

“The technology we use will also advance. IoT, predictive technologies and automation will all fuel this area of medtech further,” Larsson concludes. 

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