Forward Health raises $3.9m to transform healthcare communications

Forward Health, an app seeking to transform healthcare communications, has raised $3.9m in Seed funding in a round led by Stride.VC.

Additional backing came from Albion Capital and a roster of Angel investors, including HealthTech founders Jay Desai from US company Patient Ping; and Melissa Morris from UK-based Lantum.

Founded in 2016 by doctors Barney Gilbert and Lydia Yarlott, alongside serial entrepreneur Philip Mundy, Forward’s mission is to connect healthcare systems, making communication secure, transparent and flexible for healthcare professionals and patients.

The company’s initial offering is a clinical messaging app for UK-based clinicians. The technology has been piloted with 5,000 doctors across five partner hospitals over the past year.

Gilbert commented on the news:“We started Forward to solve a huge problem: broken communication in healthcare. It’s arguably the biggest barrier to caring for patients properly and so we’re building a platform that is going to transform the way healthcare professionals can do their jobs; empowering them to provide care in a truly connected way.

“We’re designing and rolling out Forward from the grassroots, based on frequent testing and gathering feedback from our extraordinary community of health professionals. Already, we’re saving them time and improving the quality of care they can offer to patients. And this is only the beginning of what our platform is set to provide. We’re delighted to be joined by investors that so passionately support our vision for the future of healthcare.”

Mundy added:“Healthcare is experiencing an accelerated tech revolution and Forward is at the very heart of it. We feel privileged to have this opportunity to further scale our offering and are delighted to welcome such a fantastic group of investors to the team. Together we’re building something vital for the future of health. The next phase of evolution is about deepening our impact in the NHS and further empowering our community so we can continue to create technology that allows them to help more people, more effectively.”

The past year has also seen Forward join the DigitalHealth.London and GovStart accelerators.

Yarlott went on to note: “Forward was created because we needed it to do our jobs as doctors, but we’re now discovering that it’s so much more than a messaging tool – it’s already changing the way hospitals work. As a paediatrician working in the NHS, I am impatient for change for my patients and their families; healthcare in the UK is world class, but we could do so much more with the right innovations spearheaded from the grassroots upwards. Forward is already proving to be transformative and I am excited to see how, working in tandem with our incredible community of clinicians, our technology will evolve in the months and years ahead.”

Stride.VC is a new London-based Seed stage fund led by Fred Destin and Harry Stebbings.

Destin’s previous investments include Deliveroo, Zoopla and PillPack; and Stebbings is the founder of The Twenty Minute VC, a well-known industry podcast.

Stebbings explained: “Better healthcare relies on better communication and, with Forward, we think Lydia, Philip and Barney may well have cracked the code.  We were impressed by the unique and diverse skill-set they bring to the table and the strong grassroots adoption of the app.”

Albion Capital’s investment in Forward was led by Christoph Ruedig, a former radiologist who now focuses on healthcare and digital health, previously backing dietetics company Oviva, among others.

Ruedig, partner at Albion Capital, concluded: “Healthcare communication is known to be fragmented. It’s a global problem that costs billions and impacts outcomes. People have been trying to address it for decades using top down approaches. The team at Forward have understood that the only way to solve it is bottom up. The rapid adoption in the NHS trusts the App is being piloted has convinced us that their technology will be the winning one.”