Medwise.ai is a search engine designed specifically for medical staff to help them find answers to clinical questions, at the point of need. Supported by Innovate UK EDGE, Medwise.ai was first developed as a tool to help doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals access up-to-date information on Covid-19. But, the med-tech platform has proved so successful that it’s now being expanded to cover all diseases.
Dr Keith Tsui, co-founder of Medwise, says he knew there was a need for a platform like this because of his own experiences as a doctor. “I often found it challenging to find the information I needed quickly, both on the wards and in outpatient clinics. The amount of information out there is growing rapidly and it’s impossible to keep track of everything.”
Many doctors already use the Internet to find information, but they are using regular search engines, with Google being the most popular choice. According to research by CMI Media Group, more than 70% of physicians use search engines at least once a day for professional purposes. “Now Google is a great search engine, but it’s not designed for clinicians at the point of care,” says Dr Tsui.
Innovate UK funding and investment readiness support for med-tech Medwise
In 2020, Medwise applied for Innovate UK's 'Business-led innovation in response to global disruption' grant and was awarded £40,000 to develop a platform that would create a single point of access to the latest research on Covid-19. It also received £25,000 in a second phase of Innovate UK funding to develop the platform further. The digital health start-up then entered Innovate UK EDGE’s investment readiness initiative ‘Pitchfest’ and was selected to participate in January 2021.
Medwise was assigned an Innovate UK EDGE innovation and growth specialist, who has helped the company develop a clear investment strategy and with the expansion of the platform. The specialist worked with Medwise on several aspects of the business: improving its investment pitches, its target customer types and value propositions, its business models and revenue forecasting. The specialist also supported the company with its pre-seed investment preparation.
A successful raise and further expansion
As a result, the med-tech successfully closed an investment round of £588,000. It has recruited five new members of staff, accelerated development of the platform and engaged with new clients in paid pilot programmes.
Eastern AHSN (Academic Health Science Network) conducted an independent evaluation of usage of the first iteration of the platform. It found that by saving 2.6 minutes per search through Medwise.ai, the NHS could expect to achieve productivity savings of around £20 million, according to Dr Tsui.
Feedback from that first pilot was that users wanted the platform to cover all diseases in primary care. Medwise is now partnering with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in Wales to expand the platform into secondary care after being encouraged by Innovate UK EDGE to successfully apply for a £311,000 Innovate UK Smart Grant. The 18-month project, which started in March, will include a full academic study that will gather data such as how people use Medwise.ai, time savings and productivity gains. Medwise is also running a paid pilot with Suffolk & North East Integration Care System, tailoring the platform to support primary care clinicians find information related to long Covid.
Dr Tsui says the platform can provide a vital service to professionals at a time of increased pressure and burnout. “There’s a lot of funding that focuses on patients. We are developing a product that supports healthcare professionals by giving them access to information that could help them make better decisions for patients. Taking care of health care professionals means taking care of patients too.”