Ottawa medical software firm Cliniconex readies for expansion

With health-care spending eating up nearly half of the provincial government’s annual budget, an Ottawa company says its software can help stop the bleeding when it comes to soaring medical costs.

Cliniconex, a Kanata-based startup launched in 2011, makes software that sends patients detailed reminders of upcoming appointments. It’s a seemingly simple step the company says reduces the number of no-shows dramatically and makes doctor visits more efficient by ensuring patients are better prepared for procedures – for example, by reminding them to bring running shoes to a cardiac stress test.   

CEO Anthony Mar says most advances in medical technology up to now have focused on improving treatments, such as better drugs, therapies and medical devices.

“That has helped save a lot of people’s lives, but it hasn’t made health care cheaper,” he says. “It’s at the point now where (the health-care) industry has to start getting more productive. Innovation needs to happen, and people are recognizing that.”

The company’s subscription-based software searches the electronic medical records systems of health-care providers to find patients with upcoming appointments. It then sends reminders to patients via phone, e-mail or text message, and updates the status of the appointment in the clinic’s system without any human involvement, freeing up staff for other tasks.

After appointments, it sends out personalized surveys to patients in the days following their visit, and it continues to monitor them, asking questions about their health to keep tabs on who is in most urgent need of follow-up care. It also offers health and wellness information that doctors often don’t have time to provide, such as locations of smoking cessation programs.

Now an eight-person operation, Cliniconex graduated from Kanata’s L-Spark accelerator in July. The firm has landed partnerships with two of the country’s largest vendors of electronic medical records, QHR Technologies and Telus Health, who resell the company’s software to clinics. About 1,600 doctors across Canada use Cliniconex software to make more than 200,000 connections with patients every month. 

Now, two of the city’s leading seed investors and one of its biggest players in the health-care field have joined the list of believers.

Capital Angel Network and Wesley Clover International led a seed round in October that provided about $500,000 in funding. The cash infusion will allow Cliniconex to ramp up its engineering, product testing and sales staff.

“First of all, it gives us the go-get-it attitude,” says Mr. Mar. “Secondly, because of the investment, it gives us the resources to actually go after it.”

In addition, Ottawa-based Calian Group, which operates 180 medical clinics in Loblaw supermarkets across Canada under the Primacy banner, announced late last month it has purchased a small equity stake in the company worth about $100,000.

Calian vice-president of health services Scott Murray says the deal will help Cliniconex expand its customer base while giving Calian clinics a competitive edge in the marketplace.

“In our opinion, the future of health is very much digital. Ultimately, we think there’s going to be a digital component to health (care). It’s going to come at you fast, so we’re trying to be prepared.”

The company’s revenues are now growing at the brisk rate of 35 per cent every quarter. Mr. Mar says Cliniconex, which is just starting to dip its toes into the lucrative U.S. market, is on target to hit $1 million in annual revenues by next year.