Northern Growth Accelerators: Brand and patient data is platform for growth, says Push Doctor founder

Push Doctor CEO and founder Eren Ozagir

The latest in our Northern Growth Accelerator series of interviews, in partnership with EY, profiling exciting, fast-growth businesses from across the North.

Digital health business Push Doctor has seen investors buy into the founder’s vision to the tune of £29m – he says huge potential lies in building the brand and the intelligent use of patient.

Based in Manchester, Push Doctor connects patients to a smart network of thousands of UK qualified GPs, giving them access to a doctor in as little as six minutes.

It charges patients around £25 for a 10-minute video consultation and is manned by GPs working in their spare time.

Eren Ozagir, Push Doctor’s founder and chief executive, says the idea for the platform was a result of bad medical experiences in the UK and the US, which made him start to think about healthcare differently.

“I wanted to build something better because we deserve more – people deserve better opportunities when it comes to health,” he said of the business he co-founded with its chief technology officer Matt Elcock.

But he is clear that the service the company provides today will not be the service it provides in the future.

He wants to create a data-driven digital health platform that will treat the whole person, combining responsive medicine and chronic condition management with fitness and nutritional conditioning.

He said: “The service today deals with episodes – people are episodically unwell. The future will be about better management of you as a whole person. That’s physical and mental wellness and how to plan for the future.”

The plan is for the model to move towards recurring revenues, with a membership or signing in fee, rather than just being pay as you go.

Ozagir, a former marketing director at Music Magpie, added: “What we do with those customers is changing and over the next three years there will be a dramatic change. The data we are building in and around people and the data we release back to them will open up what they can do with them.

“We allow users to download medical records for free, then help them to use that data better.

“Look at how people think of health now compared to the 1980s or 90s, there has been a real change in attitudes between then and now. Some of that is social and how people self-modify.”

In July the business received a £20.2m cash injection to enable it to bring new products to market, the first of which will hit later this year.

The Series B funding round was led by Accelerated Digital Ventures and Draper Esprit, with participation from European funds Oxford Capital, Seventure Partners and Partech Ventures. It brings the total funding for Push Doctor to date to more than £29m.

It is part of a plan to further expanding the company’s value-proposition for patients as it couples instant access to doctors with complementary products and services.

He said: “What we are doing now is not the angle. We are trialling something new every day.

“We are looking at how we get enough data today to understand our users and data over the longer/medium term and how we build great products that people want to buy.”

But there are challenges to disruption, particularly in the healthcare sector where safety of the individual is paramount. In June it was reported that the service had been found to be delivering unsafe care in a report by the Care Quality Commission.

Ozagir said he challenged some of the facts in the CQC report, adding that some problems were the results of legislation being unable to keep up with the changes created by digital and technological developments.

He said: “I believe the regulator is doing what it should and there are always challenges when a business is unfamiliar. We presented new data that has not been seen before and so the understanding was not there.”

He added: “We called the regulator and asked ‘should we be regulated?’ and we opted to be regulated by the CQC. We knew it was important to be regulated as we knew we would be making such changes to the industry.”

Reluctant to share turnover at this early stage, Ozagir did say that the site has around 7,000 doctors on its books and that the number of transactions is increasing by 30% month-on-month.

Staff numbers have grown quickly too – from a base of just four in January 2016, to 75 currently and Ozagir says that figure will almost double again to 140 by the end of the year.

And another fundraise is on the cards – this time for between $50-70m, but Ozagir admits it is a time-consuming process that takes him away from the day-to-day development of the business.

“We tell investors we are building a digital health brand, not a business. That’s where the value is.

“Digital health is a long-term play and we are thinking 10/15/20 years ahead and how we can build the biggest and most valuable business we can,” he said.

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