Since 2016, Indiveo has been packaging medical information into understandable visual stories. Meanwhile, the concept developed by Ralph Koppers and Edwin de Boer has been widely embraced by hospitals. Now it is time for the next step: further professionalizing and scaling the company.
It started with a chance encounter. A meeting between a pulmonologist from the Leeuwarden Medical Center (MCL) who experienced the comprehensible information of patients as a bottleneck in his practice and a designer with the ambition to structurally deploy animations on a specific theme. Ralph Koppers, the pulmonologist, told Edwin de Boer, the designer, that he provided important information on a daily basis about, for example, a diagnosis, treatment or operation, but that often hardly any of it sticks with patients. His own observation is supported by findings from science, he added.
Because indeed, research shows that people typically remember only 20% to 40% of a conversation with a specialist or nurse. Because they are tense, anxious, emotional or simply don't understand the information well. And if you know that, Ralph continued, then you have to make sure that patients get the info in advance, presented in a low-threshold way, so that they can take it in peace at home.
Edwin's interest was immediately piqued. At the time, he owned an agency that provided clear insight into complex grant applications in the form of animations. He liked that so much that he wanted to do more. Preferably in a field where animations can really make a difference. And yes, Ralph's story had made him enthusiastic. So enthusiastic, in fact, that they decided together in 2016 to found Indiveo. In short, the Leeuwarden-based company creates understandable online patient information in image and sound. Divis are called the visual stories; short animated films that provide patients, caregivers and loved ones with relevant healthcare information step by step. Of course carefully tailored to individual wishes and needs.
One big library
'The longer Edwin and I thought about it, the stranger we thought it was that every Dutch hospital in isolation was trying to improve the same kind of healthcare information,' Ralph looks back on the early days of the company. 'They don't work together and so you get lots of different videos, or in many cases even leaflets, on the same subject. Of course, that costs hands full of money. The basic idea of Indiveo was, and still is, to create a standard so that all hospitals can benefit from each other's investments. So one comprehensive library, a so-called division library, with animations on a variety of medical topics that we build together with the hospitals and that everyone can use in the form of a subscription model. And that is exactly what has happened since then. Thus, we now have a divitheque with more than 300 divis, with which some 275,000 patients have already been informed.'
Soon after the start, thanks in part to a grant from the De Friesland Foundation, which supports innovations in healthcare, the first pilots were launched. In Friesland, of course, in hospitals where Ralph was active with his partnership. 'Actually, Indiveo was not yet a real company back then,' Edwin explains. 'In the beginning we saw it more as a project, but with it in mind that it could well become a scalable phenomenon.' Only after the pilots were very successful, and the concept thus proved to meet a great need, did Indiveo actually become a BV. Not much later, a first important partner was found in MSB VCL, the Medisch Specialistisch Bedrijf Vrijgevestigd Collectief Leeuwarden.
'MSB VCL wanted to invest in a large number of divis,' says Edwin. 'Initially in about 30 and later, as they became increasingly enthusiastic, in another 100 animations. Great, of course, because suddenly we could provide a lot of medical specialties with visual stories. Where before we were mainly on pulmonary diseases, we could now also make divis for specialties such as oncology, gastrointestinal and liver diseases, cardiology and you name it. That meant that we needed staff, with different employments. A medical illustrator, an animator, a copywriter, as well as programmers. Those programmers are important to Indiveo's success because we don't just make videos, we are a management platform where hospitals can modify things themselves.'
At the same time, there was a deal with MSB VCL that all divi's would be implemented at MCL. And so the company immediately had a fine example hospital, a frontrunner in the field of comprehensible patient information. From then on, things moved quickly and the concept was embraced more and more widely by the hospital world. Not least because Indiveo has the integrations with key parties such as ChipSoft, the leading Dutch supplier of software for the electronic patient record (EPD), technically excellent. 'The EPD is the channel for hospitals to communicate with patients,' Ralph emphasizes. 'Our cooperation with ChipSoft therefore ensures that we can scale quickly and at the same time patients can quickly and easily view divi's about their clinical picture, treatment or research.'
An intense walk, Ralph calls the adventure he and Edwin have embarked on with Indiveo. A very different way of doing business in any case than running a partnership. 'Logical, because of course you step outside your comfort zone,' he clarifies. 'I'm still learning every day and running into things every day. But most of all it's tremendous fun, especially because I hear the results back from my patients every day. They usually come into the consultation room well prepared. Sometimes a consultation doesn't even have to take place. As a healthcare professional, you have more time for care and less time to spend on education. A more than valuable gain of time, also in view of the current staff shortages.'
Now that Indiveo has gained the trust of a rapidly growing number of hospitals and many are leaning completely on its easy-to-understand online patient information, it is time for the next step: to further propagate, professionalize and scale the company. And that obviously requires growth money. 'We came into contact with Flinc at an early stage,' says Edwin. 'That contact has always remained. Among other things, Flinc helped us make Indiveo investor-ready and approach investors. With results, because we have now managed to get two investors on board who support us in realizing our growth ambitions.
There was also something to celebrate in the summer of 2021. At that time, Indiveo was named the first winner of the Taalunie ZorgVoorZorgPrijs. "That was unprecedented," Ralph laughs. "The Taalunie, of course, basically assumes language. And when you think of language, you think of text. That they appreciated our visual language with such an award was really wonderful. With the Taalunie we are even exploring the possibilities of Indiveo in the Dutch speaking part of the world. For example, we are currently taking the first steps in Flanders. But our focus in the coming period will emphatically remain on the Dutch market. There is a very nice playing field waiting for us there.'