The dynamic partnership between Halifax-based PRAXES Medical Group and UK-based Clipper Ventures Plc has been steadily growing for several years now. PRAXES VP of Marketing, John Hockin, discusses how an ambitious vision has evolved into an exciting and powerful international partnership.
Over the years, PRAXES has had a diverse group of clients in industrial markets such as the marine sector and offshore oil and gas, among others. What inspired the company to reach out to the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race?
PRAXES is Canada’s premier supplier of telemedicine to industries active in remote and dangerous environments. We help clients deal immediately with medical emergencies, while simultaneously reducing their medical costs. We try to help clients avoid medevacs and diversions – situations which can cost them over $100,000 an incident.
We are now leveraging 18 years of industrial experience and moving into consumer markets as well. Most people don’t really understand the potential power of telemedicine. They live in urban locations where 911 services are available. Few realize that perhaps 95% of the earth’s surface has no such service. We wanted to increase awareness of PRAXES services to a broad global audience and we needed an example that an average person would connect with – they could see themselves as potential users.
I knew that working with an around the world yacht race would illustrate the reach of our services. How much further can you get from medical support than the middle of an ocean?
How was the relationship with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race first established?
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race Founder, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, was a boyhood hero of mine. I was fascinated with his adventures and his ability to do things that no one else had ever done. In 2011, I was looking for a way to showcase the PRAXES service to a global audience but we are a small business with limited marketing resources.
The intent at the outset was to offer our service to the race and prove its value in front of a huge global audience. We did not know what would happen from a business perspective, but hoped that increased awareness would lead to business opportunities that were not yet in view. Our Clipper Race partners also told us that most of the biggest successes had come from opportunities that were not visible at the outset of the relationship. Remarkably, this had been our exact experience!
I began communicating with Clipper Race Manager Gillian Russell back in 2011. We exchanged messages over many months as we got acquainted with each other. The race didn’t have telemedicine support at the time. Coincidentally, the Clipper Race finished the 2011/2012 race and experienced a very high level of insurance claims, so future insurance costs were an issue for them. All of this was happening at the same time that I was reaching out to Gillian.
Luckily for us, the race was in Halifax in June 2012, so our CEO Susan Helliwell and I were able to meet the race team personally. We explained how our service had assisted the marine industry in the past. We explained that we believed many medical situations could be handled on-board. Our physicians felt that 35% of past incidents could have been successfully resolved on board. This face-to-face meeting made a huge difference. Our teams liked each other and over the course of many meetings we built confidence in each other, and realized we had common goals. Neither of us wanted to start a partnership for promotional reasons only – we both wanted to make a difference and prove medically and financially, that we could improve medical support for crews.
PRAXES then became the Global Emergency Medical Support Partner for the Clipper Race 2013 – 14 and has become a Fleet Sponsor for the 2015/16 race. What were the results of PRAXES support in the last race?
Our goals were to handle more medical incidents on board and thus reduce the number of on-shore hospital visits, claims and cost for the race. We also wanted to achieve a high level of satisfaction with our service among skippers, crew, staff and even families. The results were gratifying and support our claim that telemedicine has a role to play in improving remote health care delivery:
- Insurance claims were down by 50%
- Financial pay-outs were down by 57%
- Satisfaction of the service has come to us via the ringing endorsements of the skippers and crew
- Clipper Ventures was so satisfied they set up a joint venture company with us to market the PRAXES service globally
Today, PRAXES and Clipper Ventures Plc are launching a global joint venture business called ClipperTelemed+™. Can you describe how this business venture came to fruition?
From the outset we at PRAXES had two big dreams – that we might someday be able to partner with Clipper Ventures to jointly launch a business and that a future yacht would have our name on it – both have already been achieved!
We wanted to prove from the beginning that an international company like Clipper Ventures could experience extraordinary results using the PRAXES telemedicine service. After the 2013-14 Clipper Race, crews and staff gave us a strong endorsement. Canadian winner Eric Holden has subsequently asked PRAXES to support his personal ocean racing activities. Surprisingly Sir Robin identified a benefit that we missed. He said that the service reduced worry for the family of crew members who remained at home.
Based on these race results we decided to approach Clipper Ventures about a joint venture. At a race-end reception in July 2014, I had an opportunity to speak to CEO William Ward. William was perhaps the busiest man in the world on that day! But I introduced myself and pitched the idea of turning the PRAXES service into a global Clipper product. I asked him what he thought. In less than a minute he looked at me and said “Yes, email me next week.” This was the beginning of ClipperTelemed+™!
Since July we’ve been working with Clipper Ventures COO Jeremy Knight and have developed the business plan, scoped the service, fleshed out administrative responsibilities, hired a Business Development Manager and jointly entered a yacht in the upcoming race!
ClipperTelemed+™ is a telemedicine service that will be available to commercial shipping, private yacht and super-yacht owners. With the launch scheduled for this spring, it sounds like 2015 will be a busy year for PRAXES. Can you share some of the news regarding your plans?
So much has happened in the last six months! The Clipper Ventures team moves quickly and our ClipperTelemed+™ branded yacht is already in the water. We will be at the UK vessel launch event on April 17. The crew and skipper will be assigned on April 25 and the service will officially begin taking customers on May 1. Our ClipperTelemed+™ crew will be offering corporate sailing days in the UK during June and July, in the run up to the race start on Aug 30.
For the 2015-16 Clipper Race, PRAXES has become a fleet sponsor, which means we supply all medical support services including medical kits. Our joint venture will have a yacht named ClipperTelemed+™ in the race and for 11 months it will provide lots of marketing horsepower. Our Business Development Manager, Tom Bettle will be working to promote it. We are expecting to get a lot of international interest in both PRAXES and ClipperTelemed+™. We also hope to significantly raise the profile of PRAXES here at home in Canada, using the race as a promotion vehicle.
We’re thrilled about working with one of the world’s premiere sports events. The Clipper Race is followed by over one billion people, many of whom are potential customers for our telemedicine service.
I’ve been working with various marketing partnerships for many decades but I’ve never had a better marketing partner than Clipper Ventures. Whenever I’ve had a request or an idea, their answer is always “yes”. Their “yes” attitude shows they will go to any possible lengths to support a partner.