11th JANuary 2016: Startup of the week: mEDSHR

For this 'Startup of the week' post, I caught up with Dr Asif Qasim, founder of UK startup, MedShr.

[Disclosure: I have no commercial ties with MedShr]


1. What is MedShr?
MedShr is a global, multi-specialty network for clinical case discussion and peer-to-peer learning. It is a private, professional, secure app and web platform, that enables doctors to use their smartphone to share and discuss clinical images and cases. 

2. Could you explain the essence of MedShr, i.e its core values?
MedShr is about helping doctors to share, learn and grow. We believe that sharing knowledge and skills can lead to better healthcare and ultimately save lives. 

3. What's the business model you're operating under?
MedShr is completely free to use. In the future there will be some subscription learning modules and limited pharmaceutical and medical device industry partnerships. 

4. Is there anyone else doing the same as you?
Whilst there are other case discussion sites, MedShr is unique in terms of product, positioning and technology. The nearest competitor is Figure 1 - which is open to all with cases openly visible online, whereas MedShr is a private, professional network and so complies with governance and confidentiality requirements in the UK, Europe, and US. 

5. Was there one moment which compelled you to begin the journey of working on MedShr? 
I pitched MedShr as a concept - pre-product and pre-invesment, at Founders' Forum in London in June 2014. The incredible response from there encouraged me to bootstrap building the app, start a funding round, and move from concept to reality. 

6. What have reactions to MedShr been? Do different people perceive it differently? 
There has been a fantastic response from doctors and patients. It has been fascinating to hear how doctors in different specialities,grades and countries plan to use MedShr in their daily clinical practice. We have worked hard to develop user experience to make MedShr a simple to use, intuitive app for busy doctors, and the response. Experienced and talented tech people such as Nicholas Zendstrom (Skype Founder), Alex Chong (Lulu Founder) , Mustapha Suleiyman (Deep Mind) and Ali Parsa (Babylon) have been very positive about the proposition, tech and interface. 

Over the last few months the MedShr has been used by doctors in refugee camps and relief areas to discuss cases with specialist colleagues. MedShr has joined with TechCrunch and technology companies in London to form Techfugees - using technology to help refugees, which you can read about here.

7. Given that Silicon Valley is the world's innovation hub, it's inspiring to see a startup from the UK pushing boundaries. Do you see more ground breaking innovations in Digital Health coming from outside Silicon Valley?
The UK and London in particular has a vibrant tech scene with all the ingredients for early stage companies, and the UK government make investing very tax efficient.

8. What are the weaknesses of MedShr and what are you doing to address them?
The initial response to MedShr has been excellent. We need to rapidly expand membership. and ensure that we continue to engage users in creating and discussing clinical cases. There are always  changes and new developments that we could make to the platform and product. Negotiations are in progress with 2 major international partners that would lead to rapid growth in members, and we have an ongoing review of design and UX. 

9. Two years from now, in 2018, what would success for MedShr look like? What are the barriers to success?
We aim to develop Medshr into the largest doctors network in the world, and by 2018 Medshr will have language localisation in many countries. As with many online networks the challenge is to attract, engage and retain members. 

10.  If people feel inspired by your journey, and want to do something with technology to improve Global Health, what would your words of wisdom be?
Research and test your good ideas in areas where you have domain expertise.  Take on the challenge, be persistent, flexible and committed. 

MedShr is on Twitter and click here for the MedShr website.