Guidepost: diabetes telemedicine

Guidepost, a digital healthcare solution, is emerging as an effective tool for safe, remote diabetes management and has attracted investment to take on the challenge.

About Guidepost

Guidepost is a South African healthcare technology business that has been innovating in the telemedicine space since 2012. The company’s unique diabetes offering has grown into a national network, serving leading visionary health insurers, life insurers and pharmaceutical companies.

Guidepost’s technology platform enables diabetes coaching that is long-term, relationship-based and driven by trained diabetes coaches.

The Guidepost programme has served over 15 000 patients and has collected over one million clinical data points. On average, patients on the programme have seen a 2,5% point decline in their HbA1C levels.

COVID-19 results in telemedicine services

The recent pandemic is a serious risk for the estimated 4,6 million people with diabetes in South Africa as high blood glucose levels increase the mortality risk posed by COVID-19.

“COVID-19 is far more serious for people with chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension” says Professor David Segal, Chief Medical Officer and co-founder of Guidepost. “A recent study by the provincial Health Department in the Western Cape found that diabetes was a factor in more than half of the province’s 2 000 COVID-19 deaths of people older than 20. As the risks related to chronic conditions are now more ‘real’, people are more aware of the risks and are taking the management of their chronic conditions seriously. They are looking to digital healthcare services, such as telemedicine, as safe, effective and efficient ways of managing their conditions.”

Joint investment to scale up impact

AlphaCode, the fintech investment arm of Rand Merchant Investment Holdings (RMI), and the local investment fund of Endeavor, a global entrepreneur network, have recently concluded a joint investment in Guidepost.

“We believe in the work being done by Guidepost and continually invest in the technical tools that are enabling a technologically advanced future for our country. Guidepost has demonstrated its ability to reduce claim costs for clients and improve the lives of thousands of diabetes patients and we’re excited to support the growth and development of their services locally and internationally through this second-round investment. We also believe that the skilled leadership team could roll out this methodology for other diseases and chronic conditions,” says Dominique Collett, Senior Investment Executive at RMI and Head of AlphaCode.

Managing Director at Endeavor South Africa, Alison Collier, added, “Endeavor supports high-impact entrepreneurs that are scaling their business rapidly, and looking to grow to be the market leader in South Africa and expanding internationally. We’re delighted to be investors in Guidepost, helping a South African success story to scale their business globally leveraging Endeavor’s strong local and international mentor base. Guidepost’s service is particularly relevant given the COVID-19 crisis – offering diabetes patients improved healthcare while simultaneously reducing the total care cost for these patients as patients using Guidepost are healthier.”

The future of healthcare is digital

In April 2020, the Health Professions Council of South Africa updated their guidelines on telemedicine, ensuring telemedicine is easier to access.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown conditions have made digital healthcare services, such as telemedicine, the only option for many people, driving rapid adoption and use of the services. Many people who were initially sceptical of digital healthcare have found, through this ‘enforced use’, that the services are easy to use, convenient, lower cost and often just as effective as in-person healthcare services. We believe these factors will drive a permanent shift to increased use of – and often preference for digital engagement with healthcare providers even after lockdown lifts,” explains Professor Segal. “The recent investment will enable Guidepost to continue growing, serve its patients and support safe jobs for nurses and dietitians as diabetes coaches during these challenging times”.