Health tech startup Consultmed, which set out to “axe the fax” for specialist referrals, has raised $1.2 million in its first venture capital round.
Sydney early-stage VC Investible led the raise, supported by healthcare professionals who use the digital healthtech’s product.
Consultmed will use the funds to expand its digital platform across hospitals and healthcare networks in Australia.
The platform allows secure exchange of healthcare information between providers and streamlines digital referrals, consent, clinical triage, and remote expert opinion.
Founder Dr Vikram Palit, a paediatrician and senior lecturer in health management at UNSW, launched Consultmed in 2019.
The idea is the result of his own frustrations working as a junior doctor, where his clinical duties were continuously interrupted by time-consuming paper referrals, pagers, and faxes. Those hours spent processing paper referrals meant less time actually seeing patients.
Dr Palit said seeing industry professionals invest in Consultmed marked an important validation of the idea.
“A significant proportion of this investment round has come from senior medical staff who use Consultmed daily and see the positive change that it makes to their workflows and for their patients,” he said.
“It’s been amazing to see so many GPs and specialists get behind the product and participate in this round. And with VC backing and the considerable experience of the Investible team, we have the capital and expertise to effectively scale-up over the next two years.”
Axe the fax
In Australia, more than 80% of medical referrals to specialists are still sent by fax. The company’s slogan #axethefax appealed immediately to Sydney GP Dr Matthew Lam.
“Most of my patients are surprised when I hand them a paper referral or tell them that I am going to fax it to the local hospital,” he said.
“As a GP, I can use Consultmed to send a referral digitally, and be comforted in the knowledge that the specialist on the other side has actually received it, in real-time. This also reduces medical errors and risk to patient safety … paper referrals are misplaced or lost all the time.”
Dr Lam also said the end-to-end interface improves two-way communication practices for healthcare professionals.
“I can also ask for specialist advice and guidance through the app. This is really helpful because I can better manage my patients locally, and save them a trip to the hospital,” he said.
Positioned for growth
The round closure caps off a successful 12 months for Consultmed, which included victory in Startup Daily’s Pitch Perfect competition, in partnership with Microsoft Australia, in 2021.
The company has also secured innovation and seed funding from government, and successfully launched its referral platform across Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network – the largest paediatric healthcare service in Australia.
The Consultmed platform is currently live at six hospital sites in NSW to send and receive referrals by hundreds of GPs, specialists, allied healthcare workers and administrators.
The startup has also built out a national footprint for its operations, with staff in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle.
Its advisory board of senior healthcare leaders and digital health experts, includes medical informatics specialist and ophthalmologist, Dr Ashley Kras, who believes Consultmed is a leading example of the fast-moving tech solutions building improved health outcomes in the wake of Covid-19.
“The pandemic has accelerated the opportunities for digital health technologies to transform the way clinicians work,” Kras said.
“Consultmed’s referral platform is a simple and future-proofed solution to a long-standing problem in healthcare. What sets it apart is that it combines a user-friendly interface with secure messaging technology and integration to other clinical systems. And what it does particularly well is that it improves both the patient and the provider experience.”
Dr Palit and his team will be focused on scaling the platform across more hospital networks in 2022 and talks with multiple providers are already ongoing.
Investible investment manager Joanna Ng said Consultmed has the potential to transform how doctors work and improve patient care.
“Dr Palit’s deep experience in Australian healthcare and the facilitation of electronic health record rollouts in the UK demonstrate a truly unique connection to the space,” she said.
“By improving specialist efficiencies, Consultmed is already bringing huge benefits to Australia’s healthcare system. We look forward to supporting the team as they scale.”
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