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-------------------------------------------------------------- This story was printed from ZDNetAsia, located at,2000010021,20148256,00.htm. --------------------------------------------------------------
E-health player WorldCare gets backdoor-listing
By Anita Devasahayam,
November 08, 2000

E-health service provider WorldCare Ltd has jumpstarted its business in Asia with a fortuitous backdoor-listing on the Korean Stock Exchange.

KUALA LUMPUR - Barely two days after it signed a deal with venture capital partner Tube Med Inc in October, the latter merged with Keun Wha Pharmaceutical Company Ltd , one of the oldest publicly-traded pharmaceutical companies in Korea.

WorldCare Asia's managing director Rajiv Ramprasad said the stroke of good fortune was welcomed as the company was aggressively seeking US$65 million worth of funding for expansion across Asia.

"We have now secured almost two-thirds of the projected funding with the signing, and are working on securing the third tranche," he said.

WorldCare is now a step closer to realizing ambitious plans to become Asia's premier e-health services provider. The company enjoyed early success in the region when it secured a US$5.5 million telemedicine pilot contract with the Malaysian government in January.

Rajiv said the new entity will operate under the name of WorldCare Corporation (Korea) and will be traded on the Korean Stock Exchange.

"Korea is among the Asian societies that are ready for e-health as its personal health market is well-developed and mature. Consumers are seeking solid state-of-the- art medical opinions," said Rajiv.

He adds the potential for e-commerce in Korea is buoyed by a high Internet penetration rate and the rise of upper-middle class consumers making it a prime market for WorldCare's niche e-health products.

Once the restructuring is completed by next month, WorldCare will launch its flagship products, the Global Health Plan and the Global E-Health Network, apart from offering its telemedicine products and pharmaceuticals.

The Global Health Plan is an international insurance plan that offers second opinion e-consultation services using a proprietary Internet-based e-health network. Medical records and imaging are transmitted through the network to the US to confirm or negate the existence of a serious condition.

Under the plan, patients diagnosed under any of the four disease categories, cancer, cardio, neurosurgery or major limb amputations, will be flown to the US and operated at one of their four consortium hospitals.

The four consortiums are the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Duke University Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Partners HealthCare Systems Inc. Partners HealthCare includes the Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care and other leading teaching hospitals of the Harvard Medical School.

The plan includes the option for travel and accommodation arrangements for the patient and one companion during treatment.

WorldCare's Global E-Health Network is made up of 8,000 top-rated physicians whose institutions are supported by over US$1.6 billion in annual biomedical research funding.

Rajiv pointed out that Keun Wha is among the oldest, most well-respected and profitable pharmaceuticals in Korea. Set up in 1958, Keun Wha offers a range of over 100 pharmaceutical products for hormonal, cardiovascular, kidney dysfunction and neuromuscular symptoms, among other maladies.

WorldCare made its foray into the region three years ago when it sought to develop a teleconsultation network, which is a key application for Malaysia's Multimedia Super Corridor project. The company is currently commissioning the 41 teleconsultation locations across the country.

The teleconsultation centres are hooked to the Network Operating Centre (NOC) located in Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia that will also operate as the regional gateway for Asia.

A second NOC in India for South Asia is planned for next year with at least 35 "hubs and spokes" across India linked into some of the best Indian medical institutions.

Rajiv said new offices will also roll-out across the Asia Pacific region in two phases between now and early 2002. Phase One that runs from late 2000 to early 2001 involves kicking off operations in India and Korea. Phase Two, which begins from 2001 to early 2002 will include the set up of offices in Philippines, Brunei, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong and Shanghai.