Virtual Hospital Ward Solution Secures £1 million Investment to Support the NHS
Healthtech startup, Virtue Health Group Limited (Virtue), has secured £1 million in seed funding in an investment round led by the Midlands Engine Investment Fun (MEIF) managed by Midven, part of the Future Planet Capital Group. The company has secured £500,000 from the MEIF as well as further investments from QVentures and a number of business angels.
The investment will allow Virtue to build out the underlying technology required to scale its proven model of virtual wards and roll out the platform to selected NHS trusts. The first diseases that the service will address are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart disease.
Virtual hospital beds, also known as ‘virtual wards’, enable patients to receive acute, specialist healthcare safely and conveniently at home, rather than in a hospital. The virtual wards are underpinned by frequent remote specialist nurse visits and 24/7 monitoring of patient biometric data using smart devices. Virtue’s model will increase the quality of care for patients while reducing hospital overcrowding and cost of care for the challenged NHS.
NHS treatment waiting time is at an all-time high, with one in eight people in England waiting for care or operations in July 2022, amounting to seven million patients. The high demand for virtual wards will allow Virtue to play a significant role in reducing the care backlog and allow the NHS to help those most in need.
Virtue is led by a high-profile management team that brings together notable sector leaders. CEO Robert Orford is a serial medtech entrepreneur who has recently led global strategy for Europe’s market share leader in IT & cloud services for healthcare. Chief Medical Officer, Dr Andrew Barlow, conceived and pioneered the UK’s first and largest virtual Covid ward. Dr Barlow is also an NHS respiratory consultant and the Divisional Director for Medicine and Board member at West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
Robert Orford, CEO at Virtue Health Group Ltd, said: “The investment by Midven and QVentures is critical to enabling our pioneering model of virtual hospital care, which will create urgently needed capacity for the UK health system.
“The investment enables us to scale our proven model which can reduce length of hospital stay by up to 50% and reduce 90-day readmission rates by up to 67%. This is a game changer for the NHS and other global health systems which are struggling with capacity owing to demographic trends.”
Tony Stott, Fund Principal at Midven, said: "With demands on the NHS ever increasing, the market opportunity for virtual wards is huge. The MEIF investment will allow Virtue to have a significant impact on freeing up bed capacity for critically ill patients and alleviating hospital overcrowding.”
Mark Wilcockson, Senior Investment Manager at the British Business Bank, said: “Backing innovative companies is one of the MEIF’s key pillars, and the services that Virtue provides in the health-tech industry is a perfect example of how MEIF funding can support such companies. Investment into start-ups such as this one supports the wider growth of the Midlands region through these contributions in various sectors.”
Robert Walsh, Managing Partner at QVentures, said: "We've seen the NHS come under extreme pressure due to hospital bed shortages that continue well beyond the peak of COVID. QVentures believes that Virtue effectively addresses this key issue and over the long term, will fundamentally improve the efficiency and efficacy of care within the NHS and beyond. We're excited to back Robert and his team who bring specialist experience in launching and managing digital wards by running the largest digital ward during COVID.”
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.