A lot of chronic diseases require regular monitoring. This often means regular blood tests that are time consuming, uncomfortable, and require a follow up visit with a physical doctor afterwards.
Australian startup My Health Test is looking to change that with its direct consumer technology service that allows users to monitor their conditions with at-home health kits.
Consumers order their test kit online, it gets delivered to their house, and they then take a blood sample with a simple prick of the finger, dripping some blood on the specialised card included in the kit. Users then put that card back in the mail and the My Health Test lab – which the startup owns – processes and tests it, and the user is notified of their results via a secure portal.
Once a user views their results online, they then have the option of sharing them online with their doctor, who can then use those results to have a conversation around how that person can best manage their health. Essentially, the business is making blood collection technology more accessible.
“There’s a lot of chronic diseases that people have that actually require regular monitoring,” says Marianne Gould, Marketing Director at My Health Test. “Our first test is a HbA1c test that people with Diabetes generally need to take every 3 months. There’s a lot to do when you have diabetes – taking insulin and all these other diet things that you have to do. It’s another task, and it takes a lot of time to be going to the doctor, then to the pathology centre, and back to doctor.”
This often means that people aren’t getting these tests done as often as they are supposed to.
“If you have it delivered to your door, you can do it anytime that suits you, pop it in the mail, it just makes it a lot easier to do it, more likely that you’ll do it, and you can monitor your disease or your condition well; you’re a lot less likely to get a lot of the diabetes related illnesses,” says Gould. “For the health care system, doctors are very busy and it is hard to get an appointment, so if they can start the conversation with the results, it makes it more efficient for the health care system.”
Around one third of all hospital beds in Australia are currently occupied by people with diabetes-related illnesses, which is a massive burden now on the health care system. Innovations like My Health Test that can help people to better manage their condition mean that people are less likely to end up in that hospital bed.
When it came to launching the product, the My Health Test team had to go through quite a robust registration process because health is such a highly regulated industry.
“Our kits have had to go through a registration process,” says Gould. “The laboratory has requirements coming through for 2017 and we’re gearing up to adhere to those requirements.”
My Health Test was also part of the latest NRMA Jumpstart Program, which is delivered by Slingshot. One of the reasons the team wanted to apply to the program is because the organisation has an interesting dedication to health and lifestyle factors for their members. If you look at the NRMA website there is a ‘Living Well’ navigator which indicates the organisation’s commitment around health for their members.
To date My Health Test has received a number of grants that have helped it to bring its product to market. It has received the ICoN Grant from the ACT Government, The Discovery Translation Fund from ANU Connect Ventures, and the Accelerating Commercialisation Grant from the Australian Government, totalling above $1 million in grant money since its inception.
While the startup is currently focused on administering the HbA1c test, in the future it hopes to have at-home kits for consumers needing to manage their cholesterol and for men that have prostate related illnesses and need to monitor their PSA levels. They are are also looking at a thyroid test to help manage and prevent heart disease-related illnesses.
As of right now My Health Test are the only company in Australia conducting the HbA1c test in the way they are conducting it. Overseas companies like Theranos are doing similar activities when it comes to blood testing, however Theranos recently ran into trouble around approvals of their collection device. The My Health Test kits have all been fully approved by the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA), so in some ways this local player is miles ahead of the game.
Unlike many of its fellow startups within the Jumpstart Program, My Health Test will not be looking to raise further funds for expansion as it was officially acquired in September by ITL Limited (ASX:ITD). The Chairman of ITL, Bill Mobbs held about 67 percent of My Health Test, allowing the transaction to advance as a related party acquisition.
ITL’s medical devices have a presence in over 50 countries, and the company supplies its range of customised medical procedure packs to over 200 hospitals across Australia.