Li Ka-Shing buys into Canadian startup out to digitize doctors’ outdated paper files

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It is an unexpected bet by Hong Kong’s richest man: a penny stock in search of to modernize clinics for Canada’s overstretched family members physicians, a lot of of whom are stuck in the age of paper charts.

Billionaire Li Ka-shing is the greatest outdoors investor in Nicely Overall health Technologies Corp., a Vancouver-primarily based startup that is acquiring clinics and electronic health-related records providers to bring Canada’s extremely fragmented main care marketplace into the digital era. Its shares have additional than doubled this year, creating it 1 of the best-performing well being-care stocks on the TSX Venture Exchange.

Li’s other healthcare forays involve a cancer-drug developer and a corporation holding the patent for a chemical that purportedly defies aging. His Canadian bet is a decidedly additional pragmatic affair.

Our well being care technique is cumbersome and imposes agonizingly lengthy wait occasions on sufferers, largely simply because it is 1 of the least digitized systems amongst created economies, says Hamed Shahbazi, Nicely Health’s chief executive officer and founder.

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Shahbazi describes Nicely Overall health as “the WeWork for doctors” — bringing them software program tools they couldn’t otherwise afford as standalone clinics. That tends to make their practices additional effective, which means much better outcomes and shorter waits for sufferers, he says. Medical doctors can join Nicely Health’s increasing chain of clinics below a income-sharing agreement or basically spend for the solutions of the company’s health-related electronic records software program.

There’s a lot of space for improvement. Canada’s main-care physicians, who can see as a lot of as 50 sufferers a day, have been sluggish to adopt the most fundamental technologies. Walls of paper folders are nonetheless the norm, on line patient portals are pretty much unheard of, and people today nonetheless whilst away hours in waiting rooms.

Canada scored the worst out of 11 higher-revenue nations in terms of wait occasions for emergency-space care, specialists and elective surgery in a 2017 study by the Commonwealth Fund. Compared to universal healthcare systems in other created economies, Canada is 1 of the most high priced, with modest to poor functionality — in component due to its decrease-than-typical adoption of health-related technologies, according to the Fraser Institute.

We’re 1 of the most broadband-connected nations in the globe — it appears entirely counterintuitive that we lack any type of digitization in main care

Hamed Shahbazi, CEO and founder, Nicely Overall health

“Which market do you know nonetheless operates like it did 40 years ago?,” asks Shahbazi. “We’re 1 of the most broadband-connected nations in the globe — it appears entirely counterintuitive that we lack any type of digitization in main care.”

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It is a profitable marketplace: Canada is estimated to have spent $254 billion, or $six,839 per individual, in 2018 on healthcare, according to the Canadian Institute for Overall health Facts. It is also “an desirable, recession-resilient small business,” says Gabriel Leung, a Toronto-primarily based analyst at Beacon Securities Ltd.

Nicely Overall health is now Canada’s third-biggest provider of electronic health-related records following a string of acquisitions, servicing additional than 850 clinics, according to Daniel Rosenberg, an analyst at Haywood Securities Inc., who believes the company’s shares are undervalued. All 4 analysts have “buy” suggestions on the stock.

Shahbazi is a familiar name in Canadian tech circles for his sale of a bill payment processor to PayPal for $304 million in 2017. Nicely Overall health, he believes, has “many, a lot of-fold higher prospective,” largely simply because the field is wide open: the country’s biggest chain of well being-care clinics has only 34 offices, he says.

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He says he captured the interest of Li thanks to an acquaintance with a lengthy-time confidante of the billionaire, Solina Chau.


Nicely Overall health provides software program tools that physicians couldn’t otherwise afford as standalone clinics, assisting make their practices additional effective, which means much better outcomes and shorter waits for sufferers.

Getty Photos

Chau runs Horizon Ventures, Li’s prodigious venture capital arm that was an early backer of Facebook Inc., Spotify Technologies SA and Siri and is the main channel of investment for the billionaire’s wealth. In the previous 14 months, Horizon Ventures has participated in at least two rounds of funding in Nicely Overall health, whilst Li purchased $500,000 in convertible bonds by way of a holding corporation in June, according to corporation filings.

Li owned 11 per cent of outstanding shares, creating him the second-greatest investor immediately after Shahbazi, according to a Might filing. Chau didn’t respond to a request in search of comment.

Nicely Overall health traded at 96¢ Wednesday in Toronto, for a marketplace worth of $93.five million.

Longer term, Nicely Overall health plans additional ambitious technological rollouts, such as telemedicine. Though only about two per cent of situations right here are carried out remotely at present, about 60 per cent of main care visits could be accomplished just as conveniently more than an iPhone, according to Shahbazi.

“A clear, irrefutable trend across the globe is that there’s a increasing quantity of sufferers for a not-increasing-rapidly-sufficient quantity of physicians,” says Shahbazi. “So in an atmosphere exactly where not everyone’s going to have a family members medical doctor to present lengthy-term care, the equalizer is technologies.”

Bloomberg.com



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