Anyone in the UK who has tried one health service recent medical appointment will know how much of an ordeal it can be, with median wait times for consultant-led elective care (i.e., pre-planned inpatient treatment) currently rolling around 14.6 weeks in England. This has led to a spike in people turn to the private medical sector, a trend that some say is the beginning a dual health care system where those with financial resources effectively pay to speed up their treatment.
At the same time, a floundering public healthcare system has created fertile ground for health tech startups to thrive, tackling everything from staff shortages to improving radiologists’ tech stack.
One of those companies is Scan.comone based in London medical imaging startup that connects patients to scan centers, coverage MRI, ultrasound, CTAnd X-ray. The company announced today that it has raised $12 million in a Series A funding round as it looks to build on its recent US launch.
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The problem, according to Scan.com, is that even if a patient can book a doctor’s appointment in the first place (a procedure that in itself is becoming increasingly difficult in the UK), the subsequent referral process to get a suitable scan can take several months, after which they may have to wait even longer to receive the results.
Scan.com partners with hundreds of scan centers to give individuals access to medical imaging services with or without a GP referral, with user-friendly reports packed with clickable charts delivered within a week.
To use Scan.com’s online referral system, users pay up front to secure their scan, then they are booked for a virtual consultation with a doctor within 48 hours.
Prices vary based on a number of factors such as location and the type of scan required, but the raw numbers range from £180 to £395 or more, including the consultation, scan and all follow-up reports.
If a scan reveals a serious problem, the patient goes to Scan.com’s ‘urgent findings’ pathway, where a clinical team contacts the patient and their doctor to explain the results and advise on what to do then must be done.
But the ability to bypass a family doctor (family doctor) and self-refer for a medical scan can certainly lead to all sorts of time-wasting efforts — what if a patient doesn’t really need a scan?
“Our clinical team provides consultations and guidance to all patients as soon as they book, which is a core part of the service we provide,” Scan.com CEO Charlie Bullock explained to businessupdates.org. “Their time is included in our scan prices, so we take payment at the time of booking. During the consultation, the clinician can change the scan type, add or change body parts, and ensure that the scan is both safe and medically appropriate for the patient’s needs.
Bullock added that if the clinician determines there is no justification for the scan, Scan.com will refund the full cost and advise the patient on what to do next. “This happens in about 3% of cases,” Bullock said.
But most patients who are at the stage of thinking about scans have probably already had some medical assessments suggesting that a scan may be needed to get to the root of their problems, and much of the intended user base is simply looking to get around the long waiting times currently hampering the NHS.
“Patients may choose to refer themselves for imaging for a variety of reasons, but one of the most important factors is speed,” Bullock said. “Some patients may have already been to a GP, physiotherapist or other healthcare provider, but due to long waiting times, they run into a bottleneck in their care process. They may know which scan they need, in many cases have been informed about the waiting time and choose to come to us for faster access to the next steps.”
In reality, there are plenty of scenarios that might require a service like Scan.com’s. Some people may have general concerns and want a preventive screening without taking up the time of a primary care provider, and Scan.com offers full-body MRI scans for such cases.
“Family history or lifestyle factors that may lead to disease can be investigated and monitored in this way,” Bullock said.
Also more than 10,000 women under 50 years are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK, while the country’s national screening program only starts from the age of 50. As such, Scan.com is gearing up to launch early mammogram screenings later this year, specifically targeting women under 50.
“We aim to fill that gap to accelerate access to treatment,” Bullock added.
The story so far
Scan.com was founded about five years ago by clinicians Khalid Lative And Jasper Nissim who had become annoyed by “inefficiencies” in organizing diagnostics for their patients. Launched initially as a side project, the duo brought CEO Charlie Bullock, COO, on board Oliver Knightand front end designer Joe Daniels as co-founders in 2019, heading into 2021 before going full-time and to increase approximately £4.2 million ($5.2 million) in seed funding from investors including Monzo co-founder Tom Blomfield.
Today, Scan.com claims about 30 employees in the UK and US, having launched its product Stateside two months ago.
“We delivered $1 million in annual revenue in the first five weeks after this launch in the US,” said Bullock.
So far, Scan.com has tested its service in Georgia and the company plans to expand to five more states to “consolidate ourselves as the leading diagnostic imaging platform in the US,” Bullock said. “We also know that there are significant opportunities within Europe, but with language barriers and more diverse healthcare systems, our focus is on the US and UK for now.”
With another $12 million in the bank, Scan.com is well-funded to continue its expansion in the US and also expand its service offerings with companies such as DEXA scans, echocardiogramsand the above mammogramswhile also pursuing corporate contracts with digital healthcare providers, employee benefits platforms and other industry associations.
“Medical imaging encompasses such a variety of modalities that our focus is to launch as many of them as possible,” Bullock said. “In addition to scans, we also want to design pathways to add value for our patients, such as guided injections for pain relief, or adding in vitro testing and pathology solutions to our preventive screenings to make them more comprehensive.”
Scan.com’s Series A round was co-led by Oxford Capital, Aviva Ventures, YZR Capital, Triple Point Ventures and Simplyhealth Ventures, with participation from Forefront Venture Partners.