Telecare is a virtual clinic removing the physical and economic barriers for patients needing access to consultations, with specialists and allied health practitioners treating dozens of chronic and complex diseases and conditions. It currently has approximately 100 clinicians across 30 areas – such as cardiology, paediatrics and psychology – using its platform, and has just begun servicing Mackay Hospital and Health Service’s Virtual Outpatient Department.
The $2.2 million seed round, led by Australian Medical Angels and supported by LaunchVic’s Alice Anderson Fund, values Telecare at $20m. The company has previously raised an oversubscribed pre-seed round of $700k – of which $70k was derived from Telecare’s participation in Startmate’s S21 cohort.
Telecare was founded in 2019 by Michael Wang, Lina Xu, Nephrologist Dr Christopher Sia and General Practitioner Dr Raymond Wen. Since then, the platform has facilitated 40,000 virtual appointments, with consultations conducted with patients and specialists located around Australia, including remote parts of the country such as the Cocos Islands and Norfolk Island.
CEO Michael Wang says the seed funding will go towards meeting Telecare’s goal to become the leading chronic disease management platform in Australia.
“Covid-19 has forced the medical industry towards technology solutions and now there is growing recognition that digital healthcare is here to stay. Our seed funding means that we can continue to lead this revolution and meaningfully improve the experience of being inside the healthcare system for GPs, patients and specialists at scale and throughout Australia,” says Wang.
“We’ve solved for providing faster, easier and more affordable access to clinical specialists in Australia, and now we’re working on scaling our extensive in-house software to help automate the process of delivering telehealth so that everyone in the clinical communication chain is empowered to do the right thing at the right time.”
Wang says the current processes within the specialist medical system are extremely fragmented, resulting in a need for a platform that closes the loop for the patient.
“There’s been an underutilisation of technology in this space that has ultimately cost patients and specialists in various ways. We realised there was an opportunity to generate efficiency through tech that vertically integrates along the patient journey, from GP referral through to specialist virtual appointment, in-person diagnostics, medication plans and finally back to the GP again,” says Wang.
Dr Amandeep Hansra is the co-founder of Australian Medical Angels – a medical and health-specific angel investment syndicate of over 500 medical practitioners and dentists drawn from across Australia. Dr Hansra, who is also the founder of Creative Careers In Medicine and the Chair of the Board of Coviu, says Telecare is at the forefront of innovating for the digital healthcare revolution.
“As a syndicate group of doctors, we understand the barriers patients are up against when trying to access specialist healthcare, particularly for those in rural and remote areas, as well as the challenges for specialists in providing seamless telehealth appointments. We look at Telecare’s tech and founders and see this is a platform working not only to reduce friction in delivering telehealth, but the overall backend administration of healthcare services,” says Dr Hansra.
Telecare works directly with GPs to facilitate connections for patients with specialists around the country – a process that Wang explains is needed especially in regional parts of the country.
“Right now, if you need specialist care, you get a letter from the GP and then you’re often left to sort out the next steps. It’s a daunting process for a lot of people. Additionally, specialist shortages in rural and remote Australia have led to wait times of more than 12 months for some specialties.”
“We know that faster intervention leads to better outcomes, not only for complex diseases but also for conditions such as diabetes, autism, childhood behavioural issues, mental health issues, ADHD – all of which tend to have long wait times. The approximate wait time from GP referral to Telehealth specialist consultation is 1-3 weeks” says Wang.
Recently, Telecare began a partnership with Mackay Health and Hospital Services, providing virtual outpatient services for a wide range of specialties to Mackay Base Hospital. The virtual service reduces wait times and costs to both the hospital service and to patients, whilst maintaining a high level of clinical care. The transition from Telstra Health who previously provided this service provides an opportunity to leverage Telecare’s technological and clinical expertise to increase services to the Mackay region whilst increasing efficiency.
COO Lina Xu says that Telecare is able to make strong efficiency gains that benefit patients partly by aligning incentives between GPs and specialists to shift away from the burden of resource-heavy administration.
“Typically, a specialist working in a private clinic might pay anywhere between 35-45% of their total billings in management fees – an expense that is often borne onto the patient. We’ve reduced those outgoings by up to 50% by providing a digital clinical environment from which specialists and allied health professionals can easily acquire new patients and work according to their schedules,” says Xu.
“Our next area of growth will be in creating industry-specific SaaS products for the local medical industry that centralises the fragmented nature of patient admin and improves task management – all with the goal of driving forward the momentum of care for patients within that system.”
“Working with Mackay Base Hospital, we can already see potential huge efficiency gains from utilising our custom workflow software and AI-powered medical document recognition systems. Efficiency gains means more patients can be seen without increasing administrative burden for the hospital, specialists or patients,” says Xu.
LaunchVic CEO Dr Kate Cornick says the organisation is thrilled to be investing in Telecare via the Alice Anderson Fund – Victoria’s $10 million fund for women-led startups.
“HealthTech is a key strength for Victoria’s startup ecosystem, with almost one in five Victorian startups focused on HealthTech in some form. By providing accessible, affordable and efficient Telehealth technology, Telecare are breaking down the geographical and socioeconomic barriers preventing thousands of Australians from accessing timely specialist care.”
Telecare is one of Australia’s largest virtual clinics. We provide access to over 100 specialists and allied health professionals covering over 30 + specialties (equivalent to a hospital), with an average patient wait time of 1-3 weeks. Through Telecare, GPs and their patients can book affordable, convenient and timely consults with a diverse range of medical specialists using telehealth technology. Telecare currently provides specialist medical services in all eight states and territories, as well as Christmas and Norfolk Island, supporting GPs, patients and specialists alike. We foster a collaborative work environment and are passionate about delivering better patient outcomes.
Telecare’s co-founders include
- Michael Wang—Chief Executive Officer; ten years of marketing and advertising experience
- Lina Xu—Chief Operations Officer; Harvard Business School Alumni, MA in international relations. Thirteen years of financial advisory, PR and marketing experience.
- Dr. Chris Sia—Chief Medical Officer; MBBS (Hons). BMedSci, FRACP, Consultant Nephrologist
- Dr Raymond Wen—Chief Growth and Engagement Officer; MBBS (Hons). BMedSci. DRANZCOG. DCH. FRACGP; General practitioner and practice owner