Telefonica buys controlling stake in Brazil’s Axismed

It gives the wireless carrier a major entry into the digital health market, and a foothold in a growing South American economy.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

Telefónica Digital, the "global digital innovation arm" of the Spain-based wireless carrier, announced this morning that it has acquired a controlling stake in Axismed, the largest chronic care management provider in Brazil.

The deal was actually completed at the end of 2012, but the company didn't reveal its actions until today. It also didn't specify how much of a stake it purchased, and for what price.

The move gives Axismed access to Telefonica's broad marketing and sales resources, in return for giving the telecommunication company a comprehensive e-health services foothold in Latin America.

Telefonica wants to go after private healthcare providers, corporate customers and the 90 million customers it already has in Brazil, under its Vivo brand name. Ten-year-old Axismed will help the company gain access to the various healthcare companies and professionals the Brazilian company has on its rolls.

Meanwhile, linking up with a telecom company gives Axismed further reason to pursue the mobile applications, video conferencing systems and -- soon -- biometric data that the healthcare industry sees as the future of care. That's especially true for remote areas that health resources can't reach, the less-mobile elderly population and patients with chronic diseases who need regular monitoring.

Indeed, Telefonica says Axismed's platform will be able to, within the first year and using Internet-connected devices, transmit data on a patient's glucose levels, blood pressure and other physiological indicators. It's a mobility match made in heaven. (If heaven is a beach in Rio de Janeiro, that is.)

For now, Telefonica plans to help Axismed expand into new countries and explore Brazil's B2C market, via the millions of Vivo customers Telefonica has in its corner.

"The market potential for remote patient management in Brazil is significant," Telefonica Digital chief executive Matthew Key said in the release. "The structure, the potential and the maturity of the market and the important role of private health care providers means that Brazil could take a lead globally in rolling out these services."

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