HealthLink sees potential for growth in booming healthcare industry

Tom Bowden, co-founder of HealthLink.
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Tom Bowden, co-founder of HealthLink.

A New Zealand company is making it easier for healthcare professionals around the world to share information about their patients.

HealthLink is a finalist in the $1 million to $10m export revenue category at this year's ExportNZ awards.

Founder Tom Bowden said as much as 30 per cent of clinicians' time was spent on managing patient information. HealthLink could provide links between different systems to exchange data quickly and easily, and boost efficiency.

Its services allow healthcare practitioners to handover information securely to each other to help manage patients' care. They can share everything from GPs' notes to lab tests, x-rays to information from specialist appointments and hospital consultation documentation.  

READ MORE: Orion Health sells stake in HealthLink

HealthLink deals with 13500 medical practices worldwide, of which 11500 are overseas. In Australia, it is the largest provider of clinical messaging services, dealing with more than 10,000 Australian medical organisations.

It transmits more than 80 million clinical messages annually between 30,000 healthcare practitioners.

The company was founded in 1993 and started exporting in 1999 to help it tap into a larger potential market. Bowden said it was now established in Australia and Canada, where the health systems were similar to New Zealand's and there was an opportunity to do the same work on a bigger scale.

In some countries, much of this information sharing is still done in hard copy. That could be laborious and prone to error.

New Zealand was advanced compared to the health systems in other parts of the world, Bowden said.  Reforms that were implemented in New Zealand in the 1990s were only being implemented in Australia now, and Canada was further behind, he said.

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He said the booming international healthcare sector offered huge opportunities for the business, as did technological advances. There was a strong need to exchange information, he said. 

HealthLink has about 100 staff in New Zealand and 20 overseas.

Bowden said the key to HealthLink's success had been remaining focused and ensuring that it understood its core business well.

He recently stepped back from being managing director into an industry relations role. Graeme Stretch, who has been the company's chief operating officer since 2002, took over.

Bowden said it was a chance to give someone else in the business an opportunity. Software development had become the key part of the business, he said, and it was important to have someone at the helm who had that area of expertise.

* Stuff Business is the media partner of the Air New Zealand Cargo ExportNZ Awards 2017.

 - Stuff

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