Hospify’s time is now. As one of the outlier companies that’s thriving in the challenging era of COVID-19, the healthtech start-up’s messaging platform is in huge demand by health trusts looking to find a quick, secure and reliable way to communicate. Conceived in 2014, when NHS surgeons Neville Dastur and Charles Nduka couldn’t contact a colleague they urgently needed to assist in an emergency procedure, Hospify’s founding story serves to illustrate the importance of timely communication when lives are at stake.
Determined to never let that situation happen again, Neville and Charles – serial entrepreneurs as well as surgeons – got to work on finding a technological solution. With the help of media platform specialist and data scientist James Flint, the team devised a game-changing communication platform that’s set to become the WhatsApp of healthcare.
Hospify is a free messaging platform that healthcare professionals can use to communicate with each other and share patient information securely. Like competitors Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, it features group messaging and media sharing functionality, but one key point of difference is the enhanced security it offers, including unique PIN code access and email and phone number masking. Crucially, data is stored on a user’s phone rather than in the cloud or an external server and then deleted after 30 days, in line with good data protection practice. NHS trusts and hospitals can upgrade to a premium product – the Hospify Hub – which offers advanced features for organisation-wide communications.
Hospify was approved for inclusion in the official NHS Apps Library at the end of February 2020, after complying with GDPR and stringent NHS information governance and clinical safety standards. With the outbreak of novel coronavirus hitting Britain at around the same time, adoption of the messaging app across the UK’s network of NHS trusts and sites has rocketed since then.
Harper James has been Hospify’s legal counsel since 2017 and we have advised the start-up on a range of legal issues. We guided them through the intricacies of their 2017 funding round which saw them raise an impressive £250,000 from angel and private investors to develop the platform to its full capability. Critical to this stage of their success was securing a trial contract from UNISON, the public sector union, which gave investors the confidence they needed to back the firm. As the Hospify team has grown, our employment experts have been on hand to support them, preparing key documentation such as their employee handbook and relevant employment contracts. We’ve also worked closely with the founders to help them safeguard their valuable intellectual property assets and ensured the right protections are in place when it comes to data, software and collaboration agreements.
It’s been a journey full of twists and turns for executive co-founders James and Neville, who stayed with the project while Charles stepped back to work on another venture. Developing a new communications platform for use in large and complex organisations like the NHS and complying with relevant privacy and data protection legislation and regulations is no mean feat. Over 150 NHS hospitals and clinical sites now use Hospify as their main messaging platform and their client list is growing fast, due to the importance of reliable and secure messaging between healthcare providers and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To continue the good news about the future of their messaging platform in 2020, Hospify completed another funding round thanks to EIS investments by Bethnal Green Ventures and several angel investors. Harper James again steered the legal side of the funding round, drafting the investment documents including subscription and shareholders’ agreements and new articles of association.
Toby Harper, CEO of Harper James, said: ‘It’s been incredibly satisfying to support Hospify on their journey from start-up to scale-up. Their innovative communications platform is a brilliant example of how “tech for good” can thrive during the most challenging times for business in a generation. Our unique subscription-based legal model has meant that Hospify’s founders have been able to focus on running and scaling their business, while the team at Harper James safeguard everything from commercial contracts to IP for them.’
Co-founder James Flint said: ‘It has taken Hospify six years to get where it is today. We’ve been through several iterations of our communications platform – and a year of acceptance testing by NHS Digital – to arrive at the version that’s been approved for inclusion in the NHS Apps Library. I don’t think any of us could have predicted that the problem our business was built to solve would take on such a critical urgency in early 2020. Timing has accelerated the adoption of the Hospify platform across the NHS in the UK, and we couldn’t be prouder that our app will play a vital part in enabling clinicians and patients to communicate across the battlefield of COVID-19.’