Health Engine gets fit for new funding round, shrugs off budget’s GP co-payment hit

Online health directory and booking service HealthEngine has announced an imminent B series funding round.


HealthEngine enables patients to quickly find health practitioners in their area and book appointments in available timeslots online.


It’s a free service for patients and makes its money by charging a fee for every new customer referred to clinics, and for listing in its directory.


The B series funding round follows a $10.4 million investment by Telstra and Seven West Media a year ago.


HealthEngine CEO Dr Marcus Tan says the company’s financial situation means it doesn’t necessarily need the money, but he and the board felt it was important to continue to grow fast and the funds will enable it to do that.


The company is looking for between $5 million and $10 million to help rapidly expand the number of practitioners using the service.


“We’re fairly happy with the demand side, which has grown significantly over the last 12 months,’’ he says.


“We’re really giving patients a lot of choice across all the different states.


“Obviously the limitations that we have are kind of similar to the problems across all of health. There are pockets where the distribution isn’t very good.


“Areas where the demand for services is relatively low compared to the amount of services that are there, places like the inner city, from that perspective we add more value by helping practices get new patients.”


Currently, 600,000 Australians visit the HealthEngine website every month to find and book appointments with doctors, dentists, physiotherapists, chiropractors and psychologists.


They make up a total of over 3000 health practitioners from 1000 health practices that use the service and Tan says HealthEngine is hoping to double that figure in the next 12 months.


“We are committed to bringing even more health practices onto the HealthEngine platform to give Australians everywhere the greatest selection of available appointments possible,’’ he says.


“The main reason we are doing this is because we want to give patients the best possible experience when they’re sick and need to see a doctor.”


Tan says whatever challenges face the medical sector, HealthEngine must inevitably face too, but he doesn’t expect the federal government’s new $7 co-payment policy for trips to the doctor will negatively affect HealthEngine.


“The political winds around health are always a bit tricky, we’re always going to be impacted by these sorts of things, but we don’t think co-payments will affect our business at all,’’ he says.


HealthEngine has added Telstra Group managing director, media and marketing, Mark Buckman to its board, which includes HealthEngine chairman and non-executive director of Pat O’Sullivan, Seven West Media group COO Nick Chan and Telstra Ventures Australia managing director Matthew Koertge.


“Mark brings a great deal of value to the business as we focus on growing market share,’’ O’Sullivan says.


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