Meet Infrion: the startup digitizing medical testing
Managing medical test results is a cumbersome process for healthcare professionals. We spoke to Infrion founder Aslak Felin to hear how his startup streamlines this process and get his advice for other healthtech entrepreneurs.
Tell us about your background.
After graduating from Chalmer’s School of Entrepreneurship I started a medtech company. I was then hired to work with entrepreneurship students, doctors, and startup companies.
Nine years ago I was asked to join RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden) and spent most of my time working in Preventive Health and lately with Measurement for Sustainable Transformation. Six months ago I founded INFRION with three others – so I have basically worked with health my whole career.
Why are you drawn to the medtech space?
I can’t exist without doing something meaningful, and health and biosciences is incredibly important. I need to be in a meaningful job, or I won’t function.
Where did the idea for Infrion come from?
We came up with the idea when the first wave of the pandemic started as there’d inevitably be a lot of fake vaccine certificates and test results floating around. We got some funding from the EU and built it, during the second wave launched the service and during the third 11,000 patients had received a certificate. Six months ago we spinned the project into INFRION with a vision to be infrastructure for diagnostics.
So Infrion is a spin-off?
Yup. We ran a project in Carechain called Certify.Health that was funded by the EU. After the project, we transferred all we built into Infrion as a clean spin-off – so now Infrion is a product in its own right, not just a project.
How would you summarize your company vision?
In one sense, we envisage ourselves to be Shopify for medical testing, because now anyone could start doing diagnostic tests and be profitable. Our customers have made SEK 150 million already, and we have around 100 clinic locations and three laboratories who have served 170,000 customers with our product. Now our aim is to have 10,000 customers and 1 million patients using our portal, and have thousands more labs working with us.
Tell us more about why the healthcare sector needs Infrion.
Half of all visits to the doctor end up in a lab test, and the way they’re handled today is very cumbersome. There’s a lot of paperwork, spreadsheets and lack of imagination.
One of the clinics we work with said they can spend six hours a day trying to figure out whose result is whose and if something is wrong, they must call the lab which means there’s a lot of back and forth. They also have to manually move things from a spreadsheet to a patient’s journal. It’s a lot of work – but with our portal they can do it in two minutes.
Put simply, we digitize diagnostics. We also make it possible for telehealth doctors to not only do video consultations but also send people to get tested at a pharmacy. So, if you have a symptom and you call the doctor and they’re not quite sure what the problem is, instead of saying go meet a doctor physically, they can say go do this test. This increases their volume exponentially. We’re the integration between patient journals and the labs, and we make sure all the data is verifiable, secure and trustworthy.
Why is it so important that this information is verified?
Firstly, health data is one of the most valuable data sets out there. There’s a rising number of cyberattacks on hospitals because hackers want to sell this data. It’s crucial that patient records are verified and secure. Secondly, we need to know that the tests have been ordered by qualified doctors and that the tests were real and reliable. One doctor might not know where another doctor’s test results came from, or if they can trust it. Even if it’s legitimate, they might not even know how to put it into their system. That’s why so many patients have to take multiple tests if they get a different doctor, or they’re referred to a specialist.
What are the most important things you’ve learned so far on your startup journey?
I think the most important thing is verifying the demand early on and focusing on that not the idea. The other thing is getting the right team. Everything else kind of takes care of itself. The team must have passion, they can be good at something, but it must align with the company’s purpose. I’d say in general I’ve learnt that you need a CEO, a CMO, and a CTO – these are the three experts needed at first.
We’ve also learnt a lot about breaking into a very traditional market. Everything had to be very well thought out from a user-friendliness perspective to ensure people would adopt it. Relationships are super important too. There’s a lot of different stakeholders in this space, it’s not a clear-cut transaction between a customer and a seller. You also need to consider authorities to some degree. So yeah, it’s a complex sale and you have to put a lot into building the right relationships.
Do you have any other advice for other startups in the healthtech space?
Marinate in the problems and try to really understand them. What are the root causes? What are the feasible mechanisms to solve the problem? I’d also advise people to focus on desirability and feasibility.
What’s next for Infrion?
Prepare our system to scale internationally. We’ve done a good job here in Sweden and have a good foothold, but we have to make it more scalable from a sales perspective and from an internal perspective. So that’s our next big thing!
Has Sting helped you on your journey at all?
Definitely. The most important thing for us has always been the network Sting offers, especially when it comes to investors. We’ve gotten a lot out of it too. We’ve also been very lucky with our business coaches Johanna and Fredrik.
Johanna has deep industry knowledge, and Fredrik is great as a general coach to talk about entrepreneurship with. A lot of the time I’m surrounded by techies, so it’s great to have someone to talk to about wider startup stuff.
Would you like to learn more about Infrion?