In the US, hospitals are working on ways to treat seriously ill people at home. Europe has generally shied away from trying that — but today, a Swedish startup called Medoma is announcing a €6m seed round to bring it to the continent.
What Medoma does
Medoma was founded a year ago to bring hospital care for the acutely ill — people in need of short-term treatment for a severe injury or episode of illness, but not intensive care — to their homes.
Medoma patients (who must live within a 30-minute drive of a hospital) are digitally monitored by a dispatch centre. When they need care, one of the 16-person Medoma healthcare team (whoever is closest to the patient) is notified, and then visits the patient at home. That's in addition to pre-scheduled visits.
The software platform also gathers data on patients’ needs to understand exactly what kind of care they need and when to better foresee patterns in the future. The startup reckons this platform will be the driver of its growth, and it hopes to move towards becoming a software provider more than care provider in the years ahead.
Having signed a commercial agreement with Capio St Görans hospital in Stockholm, Medoma will begin testing out its virtual acute wards for six patients this autumn, with plans to scale up in 2023. Over the longer term, it wants to take this model across the rest of Europe.
Earlier this year, in a pre-seed round of just below €1m, Medoma was backed by well-known angel investor and Cherry partner Sophia Bendz, VC firm VNV Global (backer of healthtech company Babylon and electric scooter startup Voi) and two of telemedicine company Kry’s cofounders, Johannes Schildt and Josefin Landgård.
This latest seed round of €6m was led by the Nordic VC firm Inventure alongside Bonnier Ventures, the venture arm of Swedish media conglomerate Bonnier. Other early investors like VNV Global and Bendz (through Cherry Ventures) also participated in this round.
The market for virtual acute wards
Community care, such as at-home primary care, elderly care, hospices and rehabilitation services, can be found across Europe. But the acutely ill still rely on hospitals.
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In the US, this model of tech-enabled home care for the acutely ill has gained significant traction, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic and advancements in healthtech. Companies like unicorns Dispatch Health and Medically Home have managed to prove the concept in the US, with hundreds of millions of dollars raised and national service agreements.
In adopting healthtech, the US is often ahead of Europe — and with the strain on hospitals mounting across many countries, especially when it comes to ageing populations, home care is a concept that hospitals are keen to look into.
As many healthtech startups will know, Europe is a difficult place to grow thanks to the fragmented regulations and reimbursement policies across the continent.
And with startups often selling themselves cheap to earn contracts, they regularly get into a situation when they aren’t able to turn a profit. Babylon gave us a sign of this recently when, after being severely punished on the stock market, abandoned several of its NHS contracts in the UK over tight economics (translation: low reimbursement rates).
Medoma will similarly struggle to charge the actual cost of its virtual acute wards but will perhaps, in the long run, be able to shift away from actual care to offer hospitals the software to run these home wards themselves. In the meantime, it will be a costly business for the investors but a potentially gamechanging solution for hospitals in need of more care outside the actual wards.