Those who have attempted to schedule a medical appointment with the NHS in the United Kingdom recently know all too well how difficult the process can be. Currently, the average waiting time for consultant-led elective care (planned clinical treatment) is around 14.6 weeks in England.
As a result, more people are resorting to private medical services, which some argue is the beginning of a two-tier healthcare system, where those with financial means are able to pay for expedited treatment.
Simultaneously, the struggling public healthcare system has created a fertile environment for healthtech startups to thrive, tackling issues ranging from staff shortages to enhancing the technology infrastructure of radiologists.
Scan.com is a medical imaging startup headquartered in London that links patients with scanning centers that offer services like MRI, ultrasound, CT, and X-ray. The company has raised $12 million in a Series A funding round to expand its recent launch in the United States.
According to Scan.com, the issue lies in the fact that even if a patient manages to book a doctor’s appointment (which is becoming progressively more challenging in the UK), it can take several months to obtain an appropriate scan through the referral process, and then even more time to receive the results.
Scan.com has collaborated with numerous scanning centers to enable individuals to access medical imaging services with or without a GP’s referral. They provide user-friendly reports with clickable diagrams, which are delivered within a week.
Scan.com has devised an online referral system where users pay upfront to secure their scan and book a virtual consultation with a clinician within 48 hours. The cost of services varies depending on several factors such as location and type of scan needed, ranging from roughly £180 to £395 or higher, inclusive of the consultation, scan, and follow-on reports.
If a scan detects a severe issue, the patient is directed to Scan.com’s “urgent findings pathway,” where a clinical team reaches out to the patient and their doctor to clarify the results and provide advice on what to do next. However, some may question the validity of bypassing a GP and self-referring for a medical scan, as it could lead to unnecessary scans and wasted time if the patient does not require one.
According to Charlie Bullock, CEO of Scan.com, “Our service includes consultations and guidance from our clinical team to all patients who have booked, which is an integral part of our service.” The payment is taken at the time of booking, which covers the clinician’s time along with the scan. During the consultation, the clinician can modify the scan type, add or change body parts, and ensure that the scan is medically justifiable and safe for the patient’s needs.
According to Bullock, most patients seeking scans have already had some medical assessments indicating that a scan might be necessary to identify the underlying issues. Furthermore, a significant proportion of Scan.com’s target audience is simply trying to avoid the lengthy waiting times associated with the NHS. “Patients may choose to self-refer for imaging for a variety of reasons, but one of the core factors is speed,” Bullock said. “They may have already consulted a GP, physiotherapist or other healthcare provider but have reached a bottleneck due to long waiting times.
They may know what scan they need, and in many cases, have been informed of the waiting time, so they choose us to access the next steps faster.” Bullock also stated that in cases where the clinician determines that a scan is not medically justified, Scan.com offers a full refund and guidance on what the patient should do next, which happens in around 3% of cases.
There are many instances where a service like Scan.com could be beneficial. For instance, some individuals may have general worries and desire a preventive screening without involving a primary healthcare provider, and Scan.com provides comprehensive body MRI scans for these situations. “Through this approach, family history or lifestyle factors that may lead to illness can be explored and verified,” according to Bullock.
In addition, it’s worth noting that over 10,000 women under 50 years old are diagnosed with breast cancer annually in the U.K., despite the national screening program only starting at age 50. Therefore, Scan.com is preparing to introduce early mammogram screenings later this year that will specifically target women under 50.
“Our goal is to fill this gap and accelerate access to treatment,” Bullock explained.
The story so far
Scan.com is a medical imaging startup based in London, co-founded by clinicians Khalid Latief and Jasper Nissim five years ago. They were frustrated with inefficiencies in organizing diagnostics for their patients, which led them to launch Scan.com as a side-project. In 2019, they brought on CEO Charlie Bullock, COO Oliver Knight, and front-end designer Joe Daniels as co-founders. They bootstrapped their way until 2021, when they raised £4.2 million ($5.2 million) in seed funding from investors, including Monzo co-founder Tom Blomfield. Today, Scan.com has around 30 employees in the UK and the US, having recently launched its product in the US.
Bullock reported that Scan.com generated $1 million in annualized revenue within five weeks of its U.S. launch. The company has piloted its service in Georgia and is planning to expand to five more states in order to become the leading diagnostic imaging platform in the U.S. Despite acknowledging significant opportunities within Europe, the company is currently focusing on the U.S. and the U.K. due to language barriers and different healthcare systems. With $12 million in seed funding, Scan.com plans to expand its services to include DEXA scans, echocardiograms, mammograms, guided injections for pain relief, in-vitro testing, and pathology solutions. The company also intends to pursue enterprise contracts with digital health providers, employee benefit platforms, and other industry organizations.
Oxford Capital, Aviva Ventures, YZR Capital, Triple Point Ventures, and Simplyhealth Ventures co-led Scan.com’s Series A round, with Forefront Venture Partners also participating.