In a sense, Chemist2U is to community chemists as Deliveroo is to local restaurantsDr Matthew Cullen
What or who influenced your career?
I was raised in Sydney - my father was a shipping company executive and my mother a social worker and psychologist. My career has been an amalgam of both: medical on the one hand and business on the other. My grandfather was involved in the NFP sector and was an inspiring leader, having been a Maj General in the Australia army.
Why did you study medicine, specialising in psychiatry?
Passion about healthcare and helping people. I realised early that I wanted to be a doctor and was driven from 14 to get the marks to get in. One of my best decisions. I loved psychiatry as a student and still do. It is still the last frontier of medicine with so much to uncover to help people with mental health problems. I consult at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney treating homeless, severely mentally ill people.
As co-founder/joint CEO of McKesson Asia Pacific, which provided mental health and general health telephone triage services, what was your focus?
Dr Andrew Wilson and I started McKesson Asia-Pacific with a vision to build a healthcare business that delivered healthcare over the telephone and ultimately the internet. We began 25 years ago, way before digital healthcare or even telehealth was part of the nomenclature. The company started with two employees (us) and over 15 years became 700 with a turnover of $75 million. It sounds easy but it was not - we were reinventing the way healthcare was delivered and had to convince healthcare funders (government, insurers) it was the way of the future. My role was strategy, business development and operations. In 2010, the business was sold to Medibank for $140 million and I joined the Medibank executive team.
In 2014 you set up Tonic Media Network. What is its remit?
Tonic develops high quality health and wellness information delivered at the point of care (i.e., GP waiting rooms and online). We believe that delivering information to consumers and patients helps them make accurate and informed decisions about their health and improve outcomes. Tonic operates in 60% of GP waiting rooms across Australia with video and written information.
Why is the mental health space one that you are passionate about?
People with mental health problems, especially those who are severely mentally ill, are a socially and health disadvantaged group. Having high quality compassionate care is paramount to them achieving the best possible results and I continue to consult as a psychiatrist for this group. The homeless, lonely, people with schizophrenia who are medically ill who can respond well to good quality medical interventions and treatment.
You recently launched Chemist2U app. What inspired what has been likened to the chemist version of Uber or Deliveroo?
This is a fair comparison and if Chemist2U is as successful as either of these terrific businesses we would be thrilled. In a sense, Chemist2U is to community chemists as Deliveroo is to local restaurants. The genesis of the idea was when I was a medical student and did medicine delivery for elderly patients who could not get to their local pharmacy. I then watched the development of gig economy delivery businesses, looked at what was happening in Europe, USA and Asia and realised this was an "open" space in Australia. Tonic was happy to incubate Chemist2U and we were able to leverage the Tonic media environment in GP waiting rooms to advertise.
How does it work?
Chemist2U is designed for people who need either over the counter medicines and/or prescription medicines delivered. It is available either as an App or via its website. The consumer completes the order in App or via the web, the order is automatically directed to a local pharmacy who organises/dispenses the product with delivery same day to your home or office.
Many pharmacies deliver to patients. Why is Chemist2U needed?
Correct - pharmacies have been delivering to needy patients for decades. This is often an ad hoc service and not all pharmacies provide it. The goal of Chemist2U is to formalise this service and make it available to all Australians via an easy-to-use tech platform that provides a simple user interface. In some ways the Chemist2U breakthrough is similar to Deliveroo/MenuLog with restaurants - yes, many restaurants a decade ago did delivery or pick up but it was an informal process. Further, Chemist2U provides same day delivery on a national basis with delivery to not just those patients who are needy but anyone who seeks the convenience of 'Medicine and more delivered to your door".
How does Chemist2U charge for its services?
Delivery fee of $4.95 with us planning to introduce free delivery for anyone on two prescriptions or more.
Where has it rolled out?
Chemist2U went national in February with same day delivery in all capital cities, Newcastle, Wollongong, Gold Coast and Geelong.
Its growth forecast?
The goal is to progressively grow our footprint and build our volumes to several thousand transactions per month. Its early days but growth so far is positive.