31/07/2007 - 22:00

Medical web site plans next move

31/07/2007 - 22:00

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An online medical information service that was conceived eight years ago by a Perth doctor and a business entrepreneur has taken a big step towards commercial maturity by raising $2.1 million from investors.

Medical web site plans next move

An online medical information service that was conceived eight years ago by a Perth doctor and a business entrepreneur has taken a big step towards commercial maturity by raising $2.1 million from investors.

Virtualmedicalcentre.com has grown rapidly since being launched, and currently attracts about 190,000 new users each month.

The proceeds of the capital raising, which was assisted by boutique corporate advisory firm Albion Capital Partners, will be used to expand the business and launch new services, including an online prescription medicine business.

Managing director Wayne Hughes said the long-term options for the business included a listing on the Australian Securities Exchange or a trade sale.

Unlike an earlier generation of dot.com businesses, which were based on technical innovation, virtualmedicalcentre.com has grown incrementally and its attraction is based primarily on its editorial content.

Mr Hughes and Perth oncologist Dr Andrew Dean jointly established the online service, initially as a philanthropic venture to provide reliable, timely information to cancer sufferers. It has since adopted a more commercial flavour, in part to help meet the cost of maintaining and updating its content.

“It grew so quickly, and became so popular, we could just see the opportunity,” Mr Hughes said.

The business has established 19 web sites dealing with a wide range of health issues, with content provided by 1,100 medical specialists.

Mr Hughes said the popularity of the service had attracted strong advertising support from pharmaceutical companies, which recognised it as an affective marketing tool.

General manager Tom Maher said the service was available to consumers and had secure sections for healthcare professionals, who could use it for their continuing medical education.

As well as 17,000 pages of health information, its services include email broadcasts, a quarterly print magazine, surveys and online videos.

Content is regularly updated by specialist contributors after being vetted by an editorial advisory board.

The next major initiative is an electronic marketing portal to enable entry to the prescription medicine and pharmacy markets.

The portal, MyOnlinePharmacy.com.au, is being developed in joint venture with a pharmacy industry partner and is designed to generate additional business from the many consumers that visit the existing sites.

Mr Hughes described this as “a natural extension of our business model and the next step in its growth cycle”.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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