When we picture people who work in the healthcare sector, we imagine serious characters who follow policies and write reports. But who says they can’t be entrepreneurial too?
For Rune Bech, business success would be defined by a combination of the two. His first endeavour was NetDoctor, a medical advice platform he co-founded with the help of childhood friend and qualified doctor, Carl Brandt. (US publisher giant, Hearst, would later acquire the business). The duo then returned to their native Denmark and created digital healthcare platform, Liva Healthcare, in 2014. This year, it’s being trialled by the NHS to help tackle the diabetes epidemic.
Real Business, (RB): How does the platform work? Is it patient facing or mostly for healthcare practitioners?
Bech: Liva acts like a personal lifestyle coach in the pocket of a patient and sets goals, stores and manages data such as blood sugar levels and weight. It helps the user develop good habits that can be sustained in the long term.
Every patient begins with an initial face-to-face consultation with their health coach during which the patient’s personal goals are discussed and agreed.
Following this, coaching is ongoing via text or video consultation and the health coach can be accessed every day. For practitioners, they are able to see all of their patients within one platform, using Liva’s traffic light system they can see quickly who needs extra support. This ensures that no patients are lost and care can be prioritised for those in need.
RB: Has digital technology helped healthcare providers empower their patients to take better care of themselves?
Bech: Using digital platforms mean you can reach more patients in less time, for the same amount or less money. Allowing instant communication and the ability to monitor patients’ progress easily, technology can be hugely invaluable for healthcare professionals. We’ve found that practitioners can reach 10 times the number of patients through digital channels compared to traditional channels. Through Liva in particular, this is created with regular monitoring and weekly, monthly or quarterly check-ins with a personal health coach via the app.
RB: you gained NHS England as a client in 2017, what was that like?
Bech: We were chosen to work alongside Living Well Taking Control (LWTC) to stop the progression of Type 2 diabetes in pre-diabetics and, where possible, roll back the disease. We saw the partnership as a stamp of approval from the UK – which was a milestone for us! We are so pleased to be working with the NHS on this ambitious programme.
RB: Tell me about your recent €8 million investment. How did you manage it?
We recently concluded a funding round with three venture capital funds from Germany. They all believe strongly that there is a growing need for technology in health and lifestyle interventions. They know that we need to reform the way we bring about lifestyle changes for patients with chronic diseases and saw the great work that Liva is doing in this space.
RB: What is it about the healthcare sector that’s attracting investors right now?
Investors understand that healthcare providers will look for cost savings and efficiency. At the same time, they are looking for fantastic patient outcomes. Most importantly current investors see a growing market and a space that needs improvement. There is so much room for progress. We’re giving them that progress.
RB: Why do you think your company attracted the attention of VC firms?
Bech: First off, the Liva platform is proven and is driving outcomes for patients. 48% of patients reverse their pre-diabetes completely after just 6 months of using our platform. As a company, we’re capable of attracting leading providers and partners to work with us in tackling a growing problem. Working with NHS England has been a stamp of approval. This has been an important factor for our investors. Private insurance companies and pharma companies as well all find the Liva platform is furthering their cause, which is also helping us to attract investors.
RB: What’s next for the company following this milestone funding moment?
Bech: Sustainable expansion is key. In terms of markets, we’re already in Scandinavia and the United Kingdom. We’re also expanding into new European markets such as Germany and Spain. We’re looking to incorporate the Liva technology within devices too. The future for Liva Healthcare will be manufacturing tracking devices and coaching modules for patients. In all, there is huge scope for greater geographical reach to help more and more patients across the globe fight their illnesses.
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