Health portal plugs into Australasia

Health portal World Telehealth is tapping into the Australasian market, as it launches in Australia and investigates the New Zealand market.

Health portal World Telehealth is tapping into the Australasian market, as it launches in Australia and investigates the New Zealand market.

The business-to-business portal - a health information, services and equipment portal for developing countries - launches in Australia in May.

CEO Diana LaTour says the company aims to talk to New Zealand providers of health services and equipment, including health-oriented IT systems.

The plan is to roll out in 12 countries in the next year starting with Costa Rica this month and Brazil in April.

"We're finding that suppliers to the portal are gaining incremental revenue because it's opening markets to them that they wouldn't have gone into anyway," says LaTour.

The two-year-old California-based company has an arrangement with the UN (which has a mandate to promote e-commerce throughout developing nations) to work with G77 (developing) countries.

In Australia, World Telehealth is looking at both potential customers and suppliers and has appointed KPMG Australia as its agent. LaTour says KPMG Australia was also chosen by the UN to develop the security platform for its online transactions.

The portal has three primary customer groups; purchasing agents, doctors (who use it for information and second opinions) and staff (information and training). The portal makes money by charging 20% to 25% on each transaction, as well as advertising. LaTour says transaction charging accounts for 80% of revenue. Eventually World Telehealth will carry dental, ophthalmic and veterinary equipment and services.

World Telehealth developed its own e-procurement system, while the system for contract negotiation between supplier and customer was built by Boston-based Trade Access. The back-end system runs on an Oracle 8i database sitting on an IBM NumaCentre, and the Web front-end sits on an IBM NetFinity server. IBM Global Services hosts the portal.

True to the dot.com stereotype, World Teleheath was founded by a 28-year old Matt Webber who ran an online bulletin board called Tradepoint Network for the UN.

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