Consumer messaging applications such as WhatsApp are not only incredibly popular for chatting with friends, but they have also entered the workplace, thanks to the speed and convenience they offer. They have even sneaked into hospitals, while doctors with little time are looking for a quick and easy way to collaborate with patients in the ward.
However, WhatsApp is not specifically designed considering the secure exchange of highly sensitive medical information. This is where the Dutch startup Siilo has forged a niche in itself for the last 2.5 years, through a free encrypted messaging application aimed at the medical professions to collaborate safely in patient care, such as through discussion groups within the application and the ability to safely store and share patient notes.
A business objective that could be driven by stricter EU regulations on the handling of personal data; messaging applications for the consumer.
The WhatsApp-style messaging interface will be instantly familiar to any smartphone user. However, Siilo incorporates additional functions for professional healthcare users, such as maintaining photos, videos and files sent through the application in an encrypted vault that is completely independent of any personal medium also stored on the device.
Messages sent through Siilo are also automatically deleted after 30 days, unless the user specifies that a particular message should be retained. And the application does not make automatic backups of the conversations of the users.
Other physician-friendly features include the ability to blur images (for patient privacy purposes); increase images with arrows to emphasize; and export thread conversations to electronic health records.
There is also mandatory security to access the application, with a requirement to use a PIN code, a fingerprint or a facial biometric recognition. While a remote erase function to remove any data stored locally is included in Siilo in case of loss or theft of a device.
Like WhatsApp, Siilo also uses end-to-end encryption. says that this is based on the open source NaCl library
It also specifies that the user's messaging data is stored encrypted on ISO-27001 certified servers in Europe and deleted "as soon as we can".  It also says that it is "possible" that your encryption code is open for review upon request.
Another addition is a user verification layer to manually verify that the medical professional users of your application are who they claim to be.  Siilo says that each user is examined. Although not before you can use the messaging functions. But users who have passed the verification unlock more functionality, such as the ability to search among other users (verified) to find colleagues or specialists to expand their professional network. Siilo says that the status of the verification is shown in the profiles.
"In Siilo, we coined this phenomenon as 'network medicine', which contrasts with current medicine in sedimented and ancient," says CEO and co-founder Joost Bruggeman in a statement. "The goal is to improve patient care in general, and patients have a network of doctors who provide information about their treatment."
While Bruggeman provides the most important medical background at the beginning, another co-founder, Onno Bakker, has been in the mobile messaging game for a long time: having been one of the entrepreneurs behind the veteran web and mobile messaging platform, eBuddy.
A third co-founder, CFO Arvind Rao, tells us that Siilo transplanted eBuddy's message development team: expressing this internal port experience as an advantage over some of the smaller rivals that also pursue the opportunity of health care messages.
Of course, it also has to compete technically with the giant WhatsApp with very good resources and smooth operation. 19659002] "Our main competitor is always WhatsApp," Rao tells TechCrunch. "Obviously, there are also other players trying to move in this space, TigerText is the largest in the US In the UK we find local players like Hospify and Forward.
" A big difference is that we have a team of very experienced internal developers … The experience of this team has helped create a messenger that can truly compete in ease of use with WhatsApp which is reflected in our fast adoption and usage numbers. "
" After having worked In the trenches as a surgical resident, I have experienced the challenges that health professionals face firsthand, "adds Bruggeman." With Siilo, we are connecting all health professionals to make them more efficient, allowing them to share the information of the patient safely and continue to learn and share their knowledge. The directory of health professionals evaluated helps to ensure that team players are successful within a wider healthcare network that cares for the same patient. "
Siilo launched its application in May 2016 and has since grown to approximately 100,000 users, with more than 7.5 million messages that are currently processed monthly and more than 6,000 active monthly clinical chat groups.
"We have not found any other safe messenger for health care in Europe with these figures in the App Store / Google Play rankings and, therefore, we believe that we are the biggest in Europe ", adds Rao. "We have several large institutions in Western Europe where doctors are using Siilo."
On the security front, in addition to marking the ISO 27001 certification that the company has obtained, it notes that it obtained "the highest NHS IG Level 3 Toolkit": also known as the system now replaced for that organizations evaluate themselves for compliance with the information governance processes of the UK National Health Service, stating that "we have not seen [that] with any other courier company".
Siilo toolkit the evaluation was finalized at the end of February 2018 and is valid for one year, so it will be ready to be reevaluated under the replacement system (introduced in April) in the first quarter of 2019. (Rao confirms that they will be doing this (re) evaluation "by the end of the year.)
In addition to being in active use in European hospitals such as St. George's Hospital, London and Charité Berlin, Germany, Siilo says that its application has had some organic aspects. adoption by medical professionals are further away, even among the smallest home health care teams in California and the "complete transplant teams" in Astana, Kazakhstan.
He also cites a British Medical Journal investigation that found that of 98.9% of clinics in UK hospitals that now have smartphones, about a third are using consumer messaging applications in the clinical workplace . Persuading health workers to leave WhatsApp at work is the mission and challenge of Siilo.
The team has just announced a seed of € 4.5 million (~ $ 5.1M) to help it reach the radar of more doctors. The round is led by EQT Ventures, with the participation of existing investors. He says he will use the funds to expand his user base across Europe, with a particular focus on the United Kingdom and Germany.
Commenting on the funds in a statement, Ashley Lundström, of EQT Ventures, investment adviser and venture capital. at the VC firm, he said: "The team was impressed with Siilo's vision of creating a safe global network of health professionals and organic traction that he has already achieved thanks to the team's focus on creating a product that is easy to use The health care industry has been stagnant for a long time using Jurassic technologies and Siilo's real-time messaging application can significantly improve efficiency
and patient care without compromising patient data. the patients ".
While the messaging application itself is free for use by the health professions, Siilo also offers a subscription service to monetize the freemium product.
This service, called Siilo Connect, offers organizations and professional associations what it considers "extensive management tools, administration, networks and software integration", or simply data regulation compliance services if they want the basic flavor of the paid level.