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An Auckland-based global company, that in August was the target of New Zealand's largest single venture capital investment, has picked up an international award.

Atlantis Healthcare has unique programmes that help patients stick to their courses of treatment, where particularly for chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma and obesity, non-adherence is a burgeoning cost to the health system all over the world.

The company received a $20 million capital injection from London-based White Cloud Capital for a 50% share of the private company, in order to globally expand more than 50 programmes in seven countries.

It took top honours for digital innovation at the Pharmaceutical Marketing Excellence Awards in Britain for its ThisWayUp programme launched in July 2009 to support patients taking the growth hormone Saizen.

ThisWayUp is built around an interactive website and associated support helpline, and judges singled out its use of SMS and email to ensure ongoing interaction with patients as "particularly interesting and clearly effective."

Atlantis Healthcare specifically targets, and is the market leader, in patient-tailored programmes to tackle non-adherence to their prescribed treatments. In the U.S. healthcare system alone, non-adherence is estimated to cost US$290m a year.

"As a GP writes a prescription, they assume their patient is going to be adherent," says Atlantis chief executive, Michael Whittaker. "Yet we know for a fact, 20% of patients don't even go to the pharmacy to pick up the prescription in the first place. We know that 50-60% of chronic diabetes, asthma and obesity patients don't carry on those medications as they should after six months."

Atlantis has developed strong, evidence-based programmes with proven effectiveness in ensuring prescription adherence he says.

Atlantis spent, and still spends, much of its research on health psychology and early on secured the exclusive services of Prof. Keith Petrie of the University of Auckland who pioneered predictive models of patients’ non-adherence. Prof. John Weinman of the University of London, another leading academic in this field was also brought on-board.

“They’ve helped provide the basis of our whole clinical approach,” Whittaker says. “We’ve built a whole enterprise over the top by taking academic thinking and research and going out to the real world with interventions that work.

The British prize follows a second year in a row top prize for Excellence in Patient Support at the Australian Pharmaceutical Research, Innovation and Marketing Excellence Awards for its Looking Forward programme.
White Cloud's $20m investment, based on common venture capital rate of return metrics, could see a future company value in three to four years of $100m.

NZ's largest single VC recipient picks up another international prize (Atlantis Healthcare)

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