Berlin-based healthcare tech Patient21 is coming out of stealth mode after raising a total of $142 million across multiple rounds led by Target Global.
Patient21 is a digi-physical platform aimed at using technology to fix the disjointed healthcare system that many patients and doctors face.
Over the past two years, Patient21 has purchased and renovated dental clinics and upgraded them with technologies such as management software to facilitate administrative tasks such as appointment scheduling and patient data management. .
Another goal of Patient21 is to offer patients an electronic health record (EHR) – in other words, a complete medical history that doctors can use to make better diagnoses.
“It makes you think, ‘why are there so many cogs in the healthcare wheel?'”
The data aspect of Patient21’s offering is crucial, the company explains, because EHRs do not yet exist in many European countries.
Christopher Muhr, the former COO of German used-car trading platform AUTO1, founded Patient21 after a “difficult experience with the healthcare system” when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer a few years ago.
“The system is slow and largely very analog. It makes you think, “Why are there so many cogs in the healthcare wheel? And ‘is this really the best we can do?’ And I think it’s not,” Muhr told Sifted.
Spurred by a shift in consumer habits brought about by the pandemic and a widespread digital acceleration, investment in healthcare platforms hit record highs last year. European healthcare startups revived $8.1 billion in 2021compared to $1.7 billion in 2016.
Patient21 operates 25 clinics in 19 cities in Germany and plans to expand across Europe over the next two years. The company claims to have grown more than 300% since 2020.
An outdated healthcare system
Patient21 focuses on “injecting technology” into every step of the patient journey to make it “as seamless as possible,” says Muhr.
It’s everything from the ability for patients to book appointments online to the ability to digitally exchange important data with the clinic. These things, in theory, eliminate all the paperwork and reduce the time customers spend lounging at a receptionist’s counter waiting to be seen.
Patient21 reports having a net promoter score of 93.8% – which means that, so far, the vast majority of customers are likely to use the service again and recommend it to friends. Muhr says he’s also looking to improve the customer experience at a brick-and-mortar clinic, creating lockers where customers can leave their belongings and offering charging stations and wifi.
“The sad news is that the doctor’s experience is just as bad [as the patient’s]. Doctors are overloaded with a huge administrative workload – around 40% of their working day,” says Muhr. “We’re trying to automate a lot of that for the doctor so they can actually do what they do best: treat patients.”
Patient21 is also focused on improving what Muhr calls “the flow of data” from one healthcare professional to another.
“The sad news is that the doctor’s experience is just as bad [as the patient’s]”
In many European countries, doctors do not have a complete medical file for patients and clinics do not share patient data with each other.
An example: in Germany, if you break a bone, a patient usually goes to the hospital for a diagnosis and then brings a CD-ROM containing the information of this diagnosis to a specialist for his X-ray. From there, they would take a new, updated CD to the hospital for surgery and then to the occupational therapist afterwards.
Germany is rolling out an electronic patient record (ePA) as part of its Digital Health Act 2020, but progress is slow, leaving a big void in the market.
“While we hope for a successful rollout of ePA, we are concerned that due to the complexity of the registration and authentication process for medical service providers, it will gain a lot of traction,” Muhr says. “Patient21 is unaffected by this initiative as our system operates on a more consistent basis in which information is collected in a standardized manner, making it easier for healthcare professionals to use.”
The lack of a central data layer to coordinate information also contributes to misdiagnoses, which some studies estimate affect 12 million patients in the United States each year.
Patient21 wants to build this “crucial” data layer. Its platform will contain “all patient information from every appointment a patient attends,” Muhr said, which he says will improve diagnosis, provide better care and reduce costs.
Patient21 is already digitizing dental practices – representing a €93 billion market opportunity in Europe – and is looking to expand into other key areas of primary care such as general practitioners, gynecology, neurology and cardiology, among others.
Shmuel Chafets, executive chairman and founder of Berlin-based venture capital firm Target Global, says she backed Patient21 because it’s clear the patient experience is “stuck in the analog age” and doctors need better technology to do their job more efficiently.
“Frankly, if Muhr opened a kebab shop in Kreuzberg, I would be a seed investor”
However, fellow health technology investor Sifted questioned whether Patient21 could truly improve and add value to the patient experience across many diverse specialties.
Nonetheless, Muhr appears to have won over investors with his impressive track record as an operator, says Chafets. Muhr has enthused several top tech companies such as Groupon and Auto1 – the latter listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in February 2021 and is considered one of Germany’s tech big hits.
“When Christopher left Auto1, I told him that we would support whatever he did,” Chafets explains. “Honestly, if he were to open a kebab shop in Kreuzberg, I would be a seed investor.”
In addition to Target Global, Patient 21 investors include Eight Roads, Piton Capital, Pico Capital, Thomas Stafford and Kingsway.
Miriam is Sifted’s correspondent in Germany. She tweets from @mparts_