Auckland start up aims to digitise healthcare system

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A new Auckland-based company has ambitious plans to deliver primary healthcare through digital applications as well as build up a stable of medical practices.

21647914 - doctor talking to her male patient at office

Tend has one physical general practice in Auckland, but also has doctors and nurses who consult via its mobile app. Photo: 123RF

Tend, founded last October by several backers of My Food Bag, has raised $15 million for future expansion to digitise the healthcare system and offer ageing general practitioners a retirement option.

Co-founder Cecilia Robinson said the status quo is not working, and Tend would offer an alternative.

“We have built world class technology not only from a security perspective but also from the user experience perspective.”

Tend has one physical practice in Auckland, but also has doctors and nurses who consult via its mobile app. Nearly three quarters of consultations are done virtually.

One of the founder directors and shareholders is the chief executive of utilities investor Infratil, Marko Bogoievski.

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“Tend are challenging the status quo and giving New Zealanders greater control over managing their own healthcare. I’ve been incredibly impressed by the calibre of the team and their vision of making a difference to deliver quality health outcomes,” he said.

The company will look at using the new funding to acquire medical practices, which Robinson said would be a way for GPs to manage their retirement.

“It can be quite hard for a GP to retire because it’s quite hard to cut down to say 20 hours a week… finding someone to take over can be quite difficult.”

“We’re able to provide that virtual infrastructure as well so you can work remotely… we have to find better ways to work especially in occupations which are specialised,” she said.

Robinson said the country faced a looming GP crisis unless it did something different, because the average age of a GP was 53-years-old, but younger doctors were increasingly reluctant or unable to buy into a practice.

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She said the app had been downloaded by thousands and the technology would allow doctors to treat patients as if they were in the consulting rooms with them, allowing for the ordering of lab tests, referrals to specialists, and issuing prescriptions.

However, the physical practices would operate with full services and personnel for those wanting face to face consultations.

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