How Certific contributes to healthcare scaling worldwide. Interview with startup’s co-founder
Certific is an Estonian provider of scalable technology that enables remote self-testing, diagnostics, and monitoring for multiple conditions. The healthtech company launched the world’s first medically certified at-home COVID test in the spring of 2021, and it has since serviced over 100,000 clients. At the beginning of July, Certific raised a €7.4 million investment that will allow the startup to evolve its product offering and enter new markets in the EU as well as emerging markets in the Middle East.
AIN.Capital talked to Liis Narusk, co-founder and CEO of Certific, about the startup’s idea, product features, and ambitious growth plans.
What is the idea behind Certific? How did the co-founders come up with it?
We founded Certific through the frustration of not being able to use digital-first, human-centric solutions in healthcare, which we’re used to in almost every other area of our lives. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed many ways in which healthcare across the world is broken, and it’s clear that technology and innovation can dramatically improve the way that people access healthcare.
We enable people to become co-contributors to their health by providing technology that enables all simple at-home medical procedures, from self-testing, to health monitoring and medicine intake. Our technology radically improves the cost and convenience for patients and healthcare providers alike.
What problems does the startup solve?
Our purpose is to deliver medicine closer and faster to the billion+ “self-care capable” patients in the world while radically reducing the burden on their doctors & providers. We are entering a time when healthcare will be as much about prediction, prevention, and personal action as the treatment of patients by professionals. This revolution will save time and money.
If we take the lesson from banking, we can see how technology has transformed our interactions with financial providers. Once upon a time, we used to have to visit a bank branch in person and take cash out over the counter after proving our ID. Now we have apps that mean we can pay with our phones or laptops at our leisure and access goods and services without ever visiting a bank branch in person again.
If you apply the same rationale to healthcare, using similar technology to account opening for online banking to prove your ID for remote medical testing, you can see how it can take place in a secure and confidential environment. You won’t need to visit a hospital or a general practitioner for testing or even most treatment. It will be delivered to you in your own home.
Tell us please a bit more about the product. How does it work? What services does it provide?
Certific’s technology allows you to take a medically certified test safely in the comfort of your home. You can order a test-to-treat online, and it will be delivered to your home. Following simple in-app instructions, you take the test whenever or wherever you want — no appointments, no traveling to your doctor, or waiting in line. Our doctors will review your test and provide a medical certificate along with a tailored treatment plan, which can include a prescription.
Certific started with COVID tests, using that as proof of concept. But the platform can now be used for multiple point-of-care tests, including swabs, blood, and urine tests. We currently offer online testing for Urinary Tract Infections (UTI), Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), and testing for COVID-19.
Other providers can take a week to process test results, which delays diagnosis and treatment, leaving the patient uncomfortable or unknowingly infecting others. Depending on the test, Certific can offer results and a treatment plan within 60 minutes or within 24-48 hours.
Is it possible to cheat the tests? How is the startup dealing with that?
It’s important to see the bigger picture. Certific empowers patients to take control of their health without compromising on the quality of consultation and diagnosis, enabling patients to receive treatment sooner. Health should be everyone’s number one priority. To manipulate the results would only mean manipulating yourself.
That said, there are tests where people’s intention to cheat is higher — tests that could be viewed as an obstacle rather than an aid. To prevent that, we have different certification standards. Through our unique testing procedure, Certific will verify your identity, your test device, the accuracy of your sampling, and your test result. This will significantly decrease the chance of error while also boosting trust and confidence in the results.
What is Certific’s business model? How does the startup monetize its product?
We offer our services straight to patients as well as partner with medical service providers, labs, and hospitals. Thanks to our efficient delivery partners like Zapp in the UK, we can reach our individual clients’ doorsteps within just minutes 24/7 — making medical diagnostics as accessible and convenient as other essential items.
Medical service providers use our certification infrastructure to offer their patients simple certified procedures in the comfort of their homes, so that doctors and nurses can focus on more complex and urgent consultations. Healthcare systems around the world are overburdened, and there is no time to train more nurses and doctors. This means that we have to start giving some of these medical tasks to the patients themselves. Our experience has already proven this will be the next leap in scaling healthcare.
Who are your target customers, and what are your target markets? How many customers Certific has already acquired since its launch in 2020?
Our flexible business model and technology allow us to focus on patients, medical businesses, and non-medical businesses all at once. Health, whether it is your own, your employees’, or patients’, is something where we see growth and potential for Certific.
We have served over 100,000 patients to date and see increasing demand for certified at-home medical services.
Share with us other interesting metrics that indicate the startup’s growth path.
It’s been a busy time for Certific, and the momentum is only growing!
In spring 2021, we launched the very first medically certified at-home COVID test in the world. Our team has grown from 5 to 30 people in the recent year, with hubs in Tallinn, Spain and the UK. We have serviced over 100,000 clients within this time and raised a €7.4 million seed round.
This month Certific raised a €7.4 million seed investment. The startup plans to use the fresh funding for scaling to the new markets and further product development. Please, tell us a little more about the startup’s plans: what markets does it plan to enter and what services to add?
We have very ambitious growth plans, and the recent investment will help us achieve all that. Not only are we working on new test-to-treat products, but we are also tackling decentralized clinical trials and the monitoring of chronic illnesses. Certific can digitize these services and offer the same clinical grade quality, but remotely.
We are expanding to other EU markets as well as emerging markets like the Middle East, where there is a serious lack of remote digital solutions for healthcare, and we can see Certific bringing considerable impact.
It really is something that would make the healthcare system rethink itself. And this, as I said, has been our plan from day one.