Healthcare communication start-up Forward Health has had a lifeblood injection of $3.9m seed funding in a round led by Stride.VC with additional backing from Albion Capital.
The funds are joined by an impressive roster of angel backers, including HealthTech founders Jay Desai from US company Patient Ping and Melissa Morris from UK-based Lantum.
Forward was founded in 2016 by UK doctors Barney Gilbert and Lydia Yarlott, alongside serial entrepreneur Philip Mundy.
Their mission is to connect healthcare systems around the world, making communication secure, transparent and flexible for healthcare professionals and patients.
Forward’s initial offering has been a clinical messaging app for UK-based clinicians. Over the past year, Forward has piloted this tech in a community of 5,000 doctors across five partner hospitals.
Their technology allows staff to avoid the NHS’ inefficient network of pagers and landlines, and reduces reliance on insecure apps such as WhatsApp.
Use of the Forward platform has saved their community members crucial time, allowing them to focus on patient delivery and to reduce waiting times.
Following this round, the team will leverage the insights of their early adopters to expand the app’s offering and create a platform that can facilitate seamless communication across every part of the healthcare landscape, both in hospitals and in the community. “We started Forward to solve a huge problem: broken communication in healthcare,” said co-founder Dr Barney Gilbert.
“It’s arguably the biggest barrier to caring for patients properly and so we’re building a platform that is going to transform the way healthcare professionals can do their jobs; empowering them to provide care in a truly connected way.
“We’re designing and rolling out Forward from the grassroots, based on frequent testing and gathering feedback from our extraordinary community of health professionals.
“Already, we’re saving them time and improving the quality of care they can offer to patients. And this is only the beginning of what our platform is set to provide. We’re delighted to be joined by investors that so passionately support our vision for the future of healthcare.”
Co-founder Dr Lydia Yarlott adds: “Forward was created because we needed it to do our jobs as doctors, but we’re now discovering that it’s so much more than a messaging tool – it’s already changing the way hospitals work.
“As a paediatrician working in the NHS, I am impatient for change for my patients and their families; healthcare in the UK is world class, but we could do so much more with the right innovations spearheaded from the grassroots upwards.
“Forward is already proving to be transformative and I am excited to see how, working in tandem with our incredible community of clinicians, our technology will evolve in the months and years ahead.”
The past year has also seen Forward join the DigitalHealth.London and GovStart accelerators.
Forward’s Co-Founder, Dr Lydia Yarlott, was named Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2018 Future Stars of Tech Awards.
Albion Capital partner Christoph Ruedig said: “Healthcare communication is known to be fragmented. It’s a global problem that costs billions and impacts outcomes.
“People have been trying to address it for decades using top down approaches. The team at Forward have understood that the only way to solve it is bottom up.
“The rapid adoption in the NHS trusts the App is being piloted has convinced us that their technology will be the winning one.”
Stride.VC is a new London-based seed stage fund led by Fred Destin and Harry Stebbings. Destin’s previous investments include Deliveroo, Zoopla and PillPack, and Stebbings is founder of The Twenty Minute VC.