Serial healthcare entrepreneur Clinton Phillips is expanding his telehealth business Medici to South Africa at the start of 2018 in a move intended to improve access to healthcare. It also follows a $24.2 million fundraise by the company last year. Phillips, who lived in Johannesburg before settling in Austin, Texas, talked about his plans for the company in a phone interview.
Unlike Phillips’ previous healthcare business 2ndMD, a second opinion service for complex medical conditions, Medici is modeled after WhatsApp but for healthcare. Although patients can initiate contact with doctors by text, physicians can choose to connect with patients through a video conference component or phone call.
“A billion people a day use WhatsApp and many of them are doctors. It is not built for healthcare, it is not compliant for healthcare but it is the best way they know to manage their patients.”
Medici plans to onboard 3,000 to 5,000 doctors to support the expansion to South Africa. Phillips said the company is collaborating with medical associations and insurance companies in the African nation, including the insurer MMI. Surprisingly, Phillips observed that the market is very similar to the U.S. in terms of public and private insurance. He noted that most South Africans with insurance have high deductible plans.
South Africa will also anchor Medici’s expansion plans on the continent — it already has partnerships in Kenya and Nigeria. It also has designs for Europe and currently has an office in Paris staffed by five people.
“We’d love to get to 20 countries in the next 12-18 month. US, Africa & Latin America are showing a lot of potential.”
The company’s business model allows physicians to use its app for free in exchange for a portion of their revenues or they can pay $149 per month. In what seems like an unusual but practical move, Medici also provides free malpractice insurance covering up to $1 million.
Asked how physicians use Medici, Phillips offered a few different examples for its “power users.” A Miami doctor uses it to care for children on Medicaid who have limited mobility because she said it provides useful insight into what is going on in a patient’s home. It also has specialists among its users such as an orthopedic surgeon so he can touch base with patients before their procedure and as they recover.
Also on Medici’s to do list are updates to its platform, such as using AI to help triage consults for the doctors using Medici and transcription to minimize doctors having to take notes.
Photo: ronniechua, Getty Images
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