Estonian healthcare startup and digital disruptor Certific has previously launched the world’s first certified remote COVID-19 testing service to provide convenient and affordable medical testing. Now it has turned their gaze towards challenges in primary care. Their brand new solution – a digital communication and engagement platform for primary care – lets patients talk with physicians in a secure and simple way.
“The new solution is a continuation of our expanding product portfolio, yet it addresses the same core problem that is also reflected in our mission: to make medical services more accessible to patients, allowing them to take more responsibility for their own health,” says CEO and co-founder Liis Narusk.
“By this, we mean providing better preliminary information about their health to doctors to reduce the time spent on diagnosis, as well as enabling patients to perform analyses and tests without leaving their homes, alleviating the workload of doctors,” Narusk adds.
From remote medical tests to an all-out new platform
Certific was founded by entrepreneur Liis Narusk, a unicorn builder and Wise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus and medical technologist Dr Jack Kreindler. Hinrikus has invested in many startups before, but Certific is the first one where he saw that putting his hard-earned money in is not enough and he wanted to take on a bigger role. Certific got its start in 2020, right at the time when COVID testing was in full force all around the world. Although the company started off with at-home certified corona tests, CEO Narusk affirms that the pandemic was not the main force behind starting the company.
“We did not start Certific to solve only the COVID-related issues. We had a very clear goal to create change in the healthcare system. COVID highlighted the concerns in a particularly sharp way and created a stronger sense of mission for us,” says Narusk.
In the early summer of 2022, Certific expanded their at-home certified tests to include UTI (Urinary tract infection) and STI (Sexually transmitted infections) tests that can be purchased 24/7 in one of their main markets – the United Kingdom. According to Narusk, this marked an important milestone for Certific, bringing healthcare closer to people and making it as accessible and convenient as other essential items.
Also in the summer of 2022, Certific raised around 7.4 million euros from investors. After that, most of the team’s energy has been put towards the development of their most recent product – a platform for primary care practices. The first client was signed at the beginning of this year, only three months later they already had 18 centres on board with another 40 in talks.
“The crisis in the primary care sector and the pressures on services, especially during the post-pandemic period, are evident. Family physicians and their practices around the world are at a breaking point. Still, as much as 40% of healthcare involves admin and doctors having to do repetitive tasks. This should not be the case, and Certific’s new platform is designed to take these tasks out of the hands of medical staff,” says Narusk.
Convenient for patients, saving time for physicians
Certific provides patients with an easy way to contact their general practitioner or primary care centre. After logging in, patients are presented with a variety of options depending on their needs, such as requesting a repeat prescription or medical certificate or discussing a health concern with their GP. The patient is then guided through a questionnaire that collects relevant information about their clinical history.
The query is then sent to the clinic’s dashboard where the staff can access a summary of the patient’s health concern and manage or assign tasks among the team. This enables the staff to prioritise and treat high-priority cases promptly without wasting time transcribing phone calls or conversations.
Rather than communicating through lengthy phone calls, the platform generates a concise medical summary of the patient’s health concerns, which can be directly copied into the patient’s medical record. Additionally, staff can communicate directly with patients via the platform, eliminating the need for multiple phone calls or missed communication.
“Patients no longer have to wait until Monday morning to contact their GP since a query sent over the weekend will be available to the clinic as soon as it opens. This saves the staff time answering phone calls and triaging queries, allowing them to focus on providing better patient care,” Narusk adds.
Besides Estonia, Certific’s platform is also being implemented in the first centres in Ireland and Romania. One might ask: why these three countries? Suitable regulation and little red tape are the reasons, according to the CEO. “We can sell our platform to primary care centres in these countries without too much bureaucracy. These countries are also hungry for digital solutions. They are also ready to implement them,” notes Narusk.
Security as a vital component
Although Estonians have been accustomed to using a secure digital electronic identification solution for about two decades now, Certific also needed a way for the residents of other countries to use their platform securely. That’s where another Estonian startup came in handy. To access Certific securely from all around the world, they implemented the solutions developed by Veriff.
“Security is a vital part of healthcare. It was not even up for debate whether we use Veriff or not. They are the market leader in their field”, reiterates Narusk.
Simply put, a patient needs to scan their government-issued document through Veriff and the system checks from a variety of databases whether it is a valid document and whether the person presenting it is the person shown in the document.
Thanks to the 23 centres using Certific’s platform, around 70,000 patients can reach their family physician in a more streamlined way. Narusk says they will develop new functionalities with the help of both their in-house doctors as well as physicians using the platform as time goes on. Everybody that can use a smartphone can easily make use of Certific.