Two years ago, Healthpoint CEO Kate Rhind's team posted a LinkedIn message about the need for businesses to have a plan in the event of a viral outbreak. The silence was deafening.
The post got a solitary 'like' and it was from Rhind
Less than a year later, Covid-19 brought home the realities of a pandemic; Healthpoint's emergency planning software and healthcare platforms were suddenly in high demand.
The company's Emergency Response Planning Tool (ERPT) had been used by GPs in Australia since 2015, but the pandemic – and the addition of a Covid-19 module – sparked a flurry of agreements with primary health networks and state health departments, almost doubling its customer base to 2000 GP practices in Australia.
At the same time, the Healthpoint directory became a critical tool for New Zealanders, and health service providers, to access up-to-date information on Covid-19 testing centres and the testing status of all GP practices in their region.
Traffic to the Healthpoint directory jumped by 200,000 visitors, reaching 670,690 last month.
Rhind founded Healthpoint in 2004 to manage and communicate information about medical service providers and to give clinicians and patients greater transparency around referral options.
In the ensuing 17 years, Healthpoint has steadily evolved into New Zealand's national health service directory: "Over time we've built really important relationships and trust around our health tech platforms and software," says Rhind. "Then Covid-19 came along and supercharged the demand and interest in these tools."
Rhind's team of 18 struggled to find time to look at the opportunities springing up in Australia because they were so busy with the pandemic. Rhind turned to Te Taurapa Tūhono New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) for back up.
"We were already operating at 130 per cent dealing with the pandemic in New Zealand. We didn't have the capacity, resources or thinking space to focus on opportunities opening up in Australia. NZTE brought in people to support us, provide critical advice on export markets and fill in our capability gaps so we could act quickly."
A significant opportunity for Healthpoint is its communication platform Medinz, which delivers crucial, timely updates to health providers – information they need to know to treat their patients.
With clinical guidance changing quickly during the height of the pandemic, the Medinz platform was used to deliver 154 healthcare messages to thousands of practitioners across the Auckland region. It was the communications tool of choice for Auckland and Northern DHBs, the Northern Region Health Control Centre and Regional Public Health.
The Medinz system prioritises messages for clinicians as critical, urgent or routine, says Rhind. "This stops GPs and healthcare providers having to cope with a constant stream of updates, and identifies which information needs urgent attention. A 'critical' message means: you need this information to treat your next patient."
With all eyes on New Zealand's Covid-19 response, Medinz has caught the attention of Australian healthcare providers. It's this opportunity NZTE is helping Healthpoint to secure.
"NZTE did a huge amount of market validation for us so we could get our value proposition and our messaging right for the markets we're going after," says Rhind. "We've also had really valuable digital marketing support and we feel like we're ready to go after those new opportunities."
Healthpoint has just launched its new international website to provide a more suitable front door for existing offshore customers and prospective health sector clients it is targeting in global markets.
From one country to 58
Datamine also needed to move quickly to secure its Covid-19 window of opportunity. The data analytics company created the Elarm app, which connects to an individual's smart watch or fitness tracker and can act as a Covid-19 early warning system.
It analyses changes in biometric data, such as changes in heart rates, sleeping patterns, blood-oxygen levels or elevated temperatures.
Last month Datamine launched an Elarm trial with the Ministry of Health for early detection of Covid-19 in New Zealand border workers.
Datamine founder Paul O'Connor says before the pandemic hit, most of the company's offshore customers were in Australia but it now has Elarm app users in 58 countries, most in the US and UK.
"Our initial focus was on supporting our existing customers who had been heavily affected by Covid-19, as well as trying to secure our revenues," says O'Connor. "With the opportunities that opened up around Elarm, it's been really important to understand the markets we're entering."
He says NZTE has given Datamine access to timely advice and connections in new markets and insight into which markets might not be a good fit: "NZTE has been a vital part of enabling us to move at speed and allowing us to grow at the pace that we want to."
Datamine's growth has been self-funding to this point, but the company has also turned to NZTE for funding advice. Marshall Maine, an investment capability lead with NZTE, helps companies like Datamine identify and secure investment opportunities. He says it's important companies support their growth plans by enhancing their forecasting ability.
"A common mistake is failing to forecast when their cash runway will run out and underestimating how long it takes to raise capital," says Maine, who leads NZTE's new Money Matters initiative delivering free financial guidance to New Zealand businesses.
"Running out of cash puts a handbrake on growth plans – giving competitors an opening to take market share – and it puts unreasonable time pressure on the capital-raising process, leaving companies in a weak position to negotiate with investors."
Rhind says making mistakes comes with the territory for entrepreneurs but having NZTE advisors on hand means she and her team can avoid a costly 'trial and error' approach to key decisions.
"NZTE is currently helping us with a validation study to see if our positioning, channel and messaging will work in new markets in Australia," she says. "That helps us manage what would otherwise be a very steep learning curve."
Become an NZTE customer today and we'll support you in growing your business. Go to takeontheworld.nz