Tue | Sep 27, 2022

Telehealth provider MDLink acquires Fleet Diagnostic Lab, plans pharmacy acquisition

Published:Wednesday | July 6, 2022 | 12:07 AMKarena Bennett/Business Reporter

Telehealth service provider MDLink has acquired private medical lab Fleet Diagnostic Laboratory Limited in a move expected to bring the company closer to its goal of creating an ecosystem around online healthcare. The next target for the company...

Telehealth service provider MDLink has acquired private medical lab Fleet Diagnostic Laboratory Limited in a move expected to bring the company closer to its goal of creating an ecosystem around online healthcare.

The next target for the company formed in 2017 is to add a pharmacy to its portfolio of companies, whether through acquisition or developed from the ground up.

MDLink started out as a telemedicine company providing online medical consultations for patients. The concept was new to Jamaica at the time, making patient acquisition a bit challenging.

But with the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, the number of patients requesting the services of MDLink ballooned, and so too did the number of doctors wanting to offer their service through the platform.

The company would bring its COVID-19 antigen testing to the doorstep of residential and corporate clients, but also provided seven testing facilities across the island that patients could physically visit.

Over time, MDLink expanded its offerings to include a drive-thru location. The recent acquisition of Fleet Diagnostic Lab will result in further expansion of its service offerings to include screening tests for diabetes, hypertension, thyroid, cardiac, kidney function, cancer, hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases, drug tests, among other services.

MDLink will incorporate its online service platform into the business of Fleet Diagnostic Lab, which means patients will soon be able to book lab tests online, receive results on their personal devices, as well as opt for at-home testing for all the services provided by the lab.

Fleet Diagnostic Lab, which will be renamed MDLink Labs over the next three months, will also offer full access to telehealth sessions with preferred doctors. The process is expected to enhance efficiency for patients and doctors, who can view results and conduct patient assessments online.

“What we are doing is tapping into our broader vision of bringing all healthcare needs online, so we are indeed creating a digital ecosystem. There is nothing to compare it to in the region or the world,” CEO and Chief Medical Officer for MDLink Dr Ché Bowen told the Financial Gleaner.

The addition of a pharmacy to MDLink’s service offerings adds a new element to the digital ecosystem Dr Bowen wants to build out in Jamaica, before scaling it through the English-speaking Caribbean, and then Latin America.

“We connect the doctors, the diagnostics, and we are going to be connecting the pharmacy as well. We also have a health store which is similar to an Amazon on the MDLink platform, but that has not been fully rolled out as yet,” he said.

Fleet Diagnostic Lab is one of only four fully accredited by the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation, but is the smallest, Dr Bowen said, presenting opportunities for MDLink to invest in new testing technologies and the upgrading of existing ones.

The capex budget for the lab was not disclosed, nor was the cost to acquire the facility.

“Where laboratories are heading in first world countries is mostly in automation. What that means is increased efficiency and turnaround time, so we are definitely heading in that direction,” Bowen told the Financial Gleaner.

Today, Fleet Diagnostic main lab is located in Central Plaza, Kingston, with 12 external sample collection sites across the island. As part of plans to scale the business, Bowen said MDLink wants to triple that number.

Prior to the acquisition, MDLink had 350 medical doctors registered on its platform who serve over 40,000 patients, of which 80 per cent are residential clients. But with the acquisition of Fleet Diagnostic, it anticipates an improvement in corporate client numbers.

“Our goal is to have corporate and residential clients be a 50-50 split, and with this acquisition we are very confident that we can improve our numbers,” Dr Bowen said.

The management and staff of Fleet Diagnostic will continue with the company.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com