Innovative businesses in the healthcare sector were a feature of this year’s Fast Starters list. Aside from the pandemic’s increased focus on health, the sector also benefits from an ageing demographic’s rising demand for many types of health care services.
Figures show health is big business. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s most recent figures show Australians spend $185 billion on health goods and services in a year, or $7485 per person. The federal government’s health budget for 2019/2022 was $81.8 billion.
Seer Medical is one Fast Starter in the health sector. Founded five years ago, its 10,000 patients access clinical grade epilepsy diagnostics from their home through a wearable device.
Patients’ vital signs are monitored through a digital wearables device, accessed through an app on their phones. The cloud-based technology uses machine learning to generate insights into a patient’s health. With hospitals stretched thanks to COVID, Seer’s devices have become increasingly popular due to the fact they allow patients to stay at home.
“We have saved Australians from a cumulative 70,000 days spent in hospital. Patient wait times for life-saving diagnostics have dropped from several months to a few weeks, and countless lives have been saved,” says chief-of-staff Damien Kenny.
There are now 20 Seer clinics around the country, where patients get set up for home-based monitoring. Kenny says Seer delivers three times more epilepsy diagnostic services than all the Australian hospitals combined.
“We’ve seen first-hand the challenges faced by our hospitals and healthcare systems throughout the pandemic. Seer offers an alternative model of care by bringing clinical-grade monitoring out of the hospital and into the home. It’s a win-win-win for patients, neurologists, tax payers and our hospitals,” Kenny says.
InstantScripts founder Asher Freilich.
In 2022, Seer will continue to provide life-saving epilepsy diagnostics and management tools to Australians, expanding internationally and saving lives around the world.
InstantScripts is another Fast Starter that’s a beneficiary of a COVID triumvirate of variables including lockdowns forcing people to be housebound, widespread adoption of digital technologies and a focus on health.
“We grew strongly before COVID, and while we think COVID helped familiarise more consumers with our services, we believe our growth would have been similar without COVID,” says founder Asher Freilich. The business offers access to scripts quickly and also offers a telehealth service through its network of 30 doctors and 3600 pharmacies. So far, it has helped more than 300,000 people and completed a $10.9 million capital raising in May this year.
“Unlike other telehealth services founded as a reaction to COVID, we were ahead of the curve and launched our business years prior to the pandemic. This has allowed us to build a strong patient base and grow the company quickly to attract healthy revenue year-on-year,” he adds. The future for InstantScripts may include an IPO. The business is supported by a high-calibre board and shareholders, who include Bailador, MicroEquities and Perennial.
Revenue for the 2020 financial year was $3.6 million, which grew significantly in the 2021 financial year to more than $7.5 million. “Our company growth is measured by revenue and registered user growth and we predict a revenue growth rate of 100 per cent a year over the next three years. Our customers rave about the ease of our services, which is highlighted by our product review rating of 4.8 out of five. We also see it in the rate at which customers come back to use us again,” he adds.
Freilich says the business has done well this year because it has identified a need in the healthcare system to improve access and affordability for routine primary healthcare services.
“We’ve addressed a number of challenges many Australians face when accessing a doctor, such as GP shortages and blown out wait lists. Our service also enables GPs to focus on more serious health concerns. Our expanding range of features has certainly helped us grow and attract more Australians than ever to use our service. We are now looking at how to maintain our high growth and which projects to focus on that deliver even better shareholder and patient outcomes.”
Alternative therapies are also proving increasingly popular as consumers seek out new ways to manage their health, with one figure suggesting the medicinal cannabis market generates $200 million a year. Fast Starter Australian Natural Therapeutics has experienced turbo-charged growth, with revenue growing by more than 450 per cent over the last year.
The business draws on its in-house research and best-in class-cultivation and extraction methods to produce high-quality cannabinoid based medicinal treatments to meet individual patient needs.
This financial year, financial controller Greg Dong says revenue is forecasted and on target to triple last financial year’s performance in an industry whose earnings are expected to double in the next twelve months. The business already exports one tonne of its products a year to the European Union, with exports to this region forecast to reach three tonnes a year.
“Our management team is highly experienced and committed to future growth. Together, they have attracted and maintained top talent to build a strong team to support the growth of the business,” says Dong.
Founding shareholder and CEO Matt Cantelo is the is the former chief operating officer of ASX-listed travel management company, Corporate Travel Management. Cantelo and Dong are supported by COO James Gaskell.
“Careful planning, investing and building a solid foundation for the business from the start has given us a platform to maintain a strong foothold in a fast-growing industry. Our patient-focused business model, with strong values in purity and quality, has built our reputation in the market that has supported the growth of our brand,” he adds.
The business has also achieved two important World Health Organisation accreditations, good agricultural and collection practices, known as GACP and good manufacturing practices, GMP. This will support its plans to expand internationally.
For the next year, the business is focused on keeping up with demand for its products globally. It’s also developing new pharmaceutical products and funding clinical studies and trials, which will further help it cement its position in a growing market.
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