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A tiny 33-person UK startup built a video chat tool for doctors and patients over a weekend and it's absolutely exploded

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  • Healthcare messaging service AccuRx has seen "crazy" demand in recent months since the UK went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • AccuRx offers ways for doctors to talk to patients via SMS or, more recently, via video call and is beloved by practitioners for its simplicity.
  • Prior to the crisis, AccuRx was in 40% of practices. Now the startup is in 90% of practices and built its video calling system for doctors and patients over a weekend. 
  • "We wanted to build a solution after reading about black swan events on a Friday and had a product tested and ready to go on the Monday afternoon," AccuRx CEO and cofounder Jacob Haddad told Business Insider in an interview. "Healthcare is a communications industry so now we've built all the features we've wanted to build for ages."
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A 33-person healthcare startup is revolutionizing how British doctors speak to patients during the coronavirus, outgunning well-funded, buzzy competitors.
London-based startup AccuRx provides methods for doctors to talk to patients via SMS or video calls, and says it is seeing "crazy" demand after the UK went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to the crisis, AccuRx's services were available in 40% of practices. Now the startup is in 90% of practices, and the firm built a video calling system for doctors and patients over a weekend in early March.
Doctors rave about its products publicly on Twitter. "Thank you @accuRx for developing such an impressive tool for us in general practice. It's been brilliant!" wrote one doctor based in the Midlands.
"We wanted to build a solution after reading about black swan events on a Friday and had a product tested and ready to go on the Monday afternoon," AccuRx CEO and cofounder Jacob Haddad told Business Insider in an interview. "Healthcare is a communications industry so now we've built all the features we've wanted to build for ages."
Since it launched video calling, AccuRx's new feature has had an average of 35,000 consultations a day.
Something doctors praise is the simplicity of AccuRx's product. While other big health startups such as Babylon Health pitch AI-based tools, AccuRx has kept its product tightly focused.
"We're proud that our core product is embarrassingly simple," Haddad added. "When we realised that people needed to be called to see if they had been abroad to avoid face-to-face contact, we wanted to provide a solution."
The team was able to scale quickly because of the trust built up from the work done to ensure its core messaging platform worked flawlessly, Haddad claimed.
"When we first released SMS messaging for GPs in 2018 we spent the next year ensuring that it would work on any device, with slow internet, or even with different access privileges so we know how to make the simple stuff work," he said.
AccuRx
"Doctors love it and talk about how game-changing it is," said AccuRx board member and investor Irina Haivas, from Atomico. "It's proof that doctors adopt technology if you build it with the doctors and their patients' needs in mind."
AccuRx has been "hiring on all cylinders" in recent weeks, Haddad said.
The company has 33 staff but has brought in four more employees remotely with more to come. Managing the team during this period has been difficult and Haddad has had to halt his weekly sessions of cooking lunch for his employees. Still, Haddad believes the prevalence of zoom socials, pets and kids joining video calls, and constant communication have helped during a busy period for the startup.
AccuRx has raised £9.1 million ($11.5 million) since its founding in 2016 and Haddad claims the hype around its recent work has led to "crazy amounts of inbound interest" from investors. "We're not actively fundraising but we have had some exciting interest that we're seriously considering," he told Business Insider.
The next step for AccuRx is rolling out its services beyond GP practices to hospitals so that patients can be triaged more easily.
SEE ALSO: 'This is war time, I'm leading from the front': The cofounder of profitable SoftBank unicorn OakNorth is drawing on his 2008 crisis experience to deal with the coronavirus
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