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One to watch: HealthHero

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Meet the UK firm aiming to become Europe’s biggest digital healthcare provider by 2021.

COVID-19 has caused an explosion in demand for telehealth platforms – and rapidly accelerated the development of new products in the sector.

Among the many rising entrepreneurial forces in this field, HealthHero looks to be particularly well placed to succeed in the months and years ahead.

The recently launched digital healthcare provider is expanding its team and believes it is on track to become Europe’s largest digital healthcare provider by next year.

Following the appointment of a new chief operating officer and a number of advisers,  HealthHero says it will continue building its senior team and aims to recruit across the organisation over the coming months.

The UK-based company says it is currently working on several “exciting” acquisitions which are due to be announced in the next few weeks.

Speaking to Health Tech World, CEO Ranjan Singh said: “We’re hiring aggressively. We’re not only building the senior team, including a CFO, CTO, chief product officer and chief medical officer, but we’re also hiring at middle and junior levels as well.

“At a leadership level, we will be hiring six to eight people and over the next few months we will be hiring tens if not hundreds at a middle and junior level.”

Newly appointed COO Aseem Sadana has joined HealthHero from IMImobile, a publicly listed enterprise cloud software business, for which he was Group COO.

His career in technology has covered strategy consulting, entrepreneurship, and scaling up an enterprise cloud software business.

Sadana said: “It’s great to be working with Ranjan Singh again on another innovative proposition. When we built and sold isango! eight years ago, the travel sector was a hotbed of innovation and now digital healthcare presents the same exciting opportunity for disruption.

“The vision, the expertise – both clinical and digital, and the backing behind HealthHero, put us in a distinctly strong position.”

Additions to the company’s advisory board include physician and cardiologist, Dr Jonathan Hill, known for his work with the NHS, the private sector and as a researcher at the National Institutes of Health in the US.

Joining him is Professor Sam Shah; founder and director of the Faculty of Future Health at Ulster University, and former director of digital development for NHS England and NHSX.

HealthHero’s platform offers 24/7 access to doctors and expert clinicians via a suite of tools including video calls, online chats and telephone consultations. It is currently  serving 4.5 million users, having officially launched across the UK, Ireland and Germany last month.

As part of its growth plans, the company plans to expand geographically across the European market and into different market verticals, including corporate and public sectors. As part of these plans, HealthHero says it will shortly be launching a consumer offering in the UK.

Singh says the third area of growth for the business is in covering a wider range of healthcare services.

“What we’re doing is making the proposition holistic. We want to cover the whole spectrum, so not just GP services, but also mental health, musculoskeletal and specialist.

“The health of human beings is holistic. For example, someone might have a back problem and have depression as a result of back pain. And they might also suffer day to day health conditions on top of that.

“People don’t live their lives in a siloed manner, but healthcare is delivered in that fashion and that’s what we want to want to change.”

The London-based investment house, Marcol, teamed up with digital entrepreneur and investor Singh last year and began working on the foundations of the HealthHero product.

Singh said: “The work has been going on for almost a year now and we’re [now] firing on all cylinders, whether it is scaling our businesses or acquiring new ones. As a result of COVID, we saw a spike in demand so our business will perform at a significantly higher level than last year, which we’re very excited about.”

The London firm began with the acquisition of a number of established digital health companies, including UK’s longest established telehealth provider, Medical Solutions, which was acquired by Marcol in 2017.

The company’s latest acquisition is Berlin-based telemedicine platform Fernarzt, which was set up in 2017 to provide online consultations in Germany.

HealthHero is also the largest telehealth provider in the Republic of Ireland with clients that include Ireland’s largest insurance company, VHI.

The pandemic has seen a rapid adoption of digital health solutions. Since the onset of the virus, the group has seen demand for its UK and Republic of Ireland services increase by over 300%. Singh believes this is the beginning of an exciting future for digital health.

“The sector has always had promise. Various scientific and empirical studies have shown that the majority of consultations could be delivered digitally. In reality, a negligible amount were happening remotely prior to COVID.

“Digital health is great for the practitioner in terms of flexibility and it’s great for the provider networks like the NHS because it alleviates the burden and unlocks a supply pool which would otherwise not be available.

“Despite these benefits, the sector wasn’t taking off. That was because for decades, if not centuries, seeing your doctor in person was the thing that you do. But now, COVID has changed all that and years’ worth of progress has been made in just a few months.

“During COVID, 70-80% of consultations have taken place remotely. It has fallen off from that peak for obvious reasons such as surgeries and doctor’s offices reopening. We think at maturity, 30 to 40% could be delivered remotely and that is an exciting future.”

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