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Diabetes telemedicine platform attracts local investment

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Guidepost’s founders are from left: Graham Rowe, Richard Johnson and Prof David Segal.
Guidepost’s founders are from left: Graham Rowe, Richard Johnson and Prof David Segal.

AlphaCode, the fintech investment arm of Rand Merchant Investment Holdings, and the local investment fund of Endeavor, have concluded a joint investment in local telemedicine company Guidepost.

Endeavor is a global entrepreneurship movement that runs an on-going selection of scale-up companies from across the world.

Established in 2012, Guidepost is a Johannesburg-based health-tech company that has been innovating in the telemedicine space and has grown into a national network serving health insurers, life insurers and pharmaceutical companies.

The Guidepost technology platform links people with diabetes to expert clinicians who provide remote one-on-one individualised diabetes education and coaching that reduces blood sugar levels and improves health outcomes.

The software guides nurses and medical assistants in a series of consultations to help their patients overcome the barriers to achieving good health.

According to Guidepost, COVID-19 is a serious risk for the estimated 4.6 million people living with diabetes in SA, as high blood sugar levels increase the mortality risk posed by the pandemic.

Telemedicine, the delivery of healthcare and the transfer of health information across distances using information and communication technologies is emerging as an effective tool for safe and remote management of illnesses, as the primary means of healthcare support.

According to the company, the funding, of an undisclosed amount, will be used to further develop Guidepost’s differentiated clinical technology and scale the business locally and globally with insurance partners, as it continuously improves its clinical processes and technology.

"We believe in the work being done by Guidepost and continually invest in the technical tools that are enabling a technologically-advanced future for our country,” says Dominique Collett, senior investment executive at RMI and head of AlphaCode.

“Guidepost has demonstrated its ability to reduce claims costs for clients and improve the lives of thousands of diabetics and we’re excited to support the growth and development of their services locally and internationally through this second-round investment. We also believe the skilled leadership team could roll out this methodology for other diseases and chronic conditions."

The telemedicine platform says it achieves clinical improvements in four to six months of working with patients and their data. It has supplemented its tech platform with specialised diabetes coach clinicians, who spend time building a relationship with patients and guide them towards the best clinical outcomes.

In April, the Health Professions Council of South Africa updated its guidelines on telemedicine, ensuring telemedicine is easier to access.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown conditions have made digital healthcare services such as telemedicine the only option for many people, driving rapid adoption and use of the services,” explains professor David Segal, chief medical officer and co-founder of Guidepost.

“Many people who were initially sceptical of digital healthcare have found, through this 'enforced use', that the services are easy to use, convenient, lower cost and often just as effective as in-person healthcare services.”

Alison Collier, MD of Endeavor South Africa, adds: "Endeavor supports high-impact entrepreneurs that are scaling their business rapidly, and looking to grow to be the market leader in SA and expanding internationally.

“We’re delighted to be investors in Guidepost, helping a South African success story to scale their business globally leveraging Endeavor’s strong local and international mentor base. Guidepost’s service is particularly relevant given the COVID-19 crisis – offering diabetic patients improved healthcare while simultaneously reducing the total care cost for these patients, as patients using Guidepost are healthier."

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