Telefonica Digital Acquires Controlling Stake In Brazil’s Axismed, Its First Move Into E-Health Solutions

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Telefonica Digital, the tech arm of carrier giant Telefonica, has been making a lot of consumer-focused acquisitions and investments in the last year — and now it’s showing that it has an equal interest in enterprise verticals, specifically in e-health: today it announced the acquisition of a controlling stake in Axismed, a chronic care management provider based in Brazil. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

A spokesperson from Telefonica told TechCrunch that this is the carrier’s first investment into e-health, and that the enterprise will continue to remain a focus for Telefonica Digital investments, alongside more consumer-service-focused investments like its stakes in app search Everything.me and mobile payments startup Boku; its acquisition of video chatting platform Tokbox; and more.

“The deal is part of the company’s global strategy to focus on the e-health market, which is one of a number of areas in which Telefónica Digital is developing new innovative products and services,” Antonio Carlos Valente, CEO of the Telefónica Group in Brazil, said in a statement.

The first intention with 10-year old Axismed, Telefonica says, will be to expand the monitoring service across all of Brazil, and then move it into other markets. In total Telefonica has services in 25 countries, covering 314 million customers.

Axismed already works with healthcare providers in the country to help monitor some 180,000 outpatients. Telefonica has a 90-million customer base in the country through its Vivo subsidiary, and the idea will be to integrate Axismed into Vivo’s infrastructure to contact and monitor patients using mobile apps, SMS, video streams, and so on, to cover biometric data around glucose levels, blood pressure, and so on. Brazil’s National Health Agency ANS says there are some 48 million people in the country taking some form of supplementary healthcare on top of state plans, and the private companies that serve these patients will be target one, before Telefonica looks to take the solution to other markets outside of Brazil with the promise of reducing healthcare costs.

It looks like Telefonica is taking an exploratory step in Brazil with this acquisition but that it intends to replicate and expand the solution elsewhere if it’s a success:

“The market potential for remote patient management in Brazil is significant,” said Matthew Key, Chief Executive of Telefónica Digital, in a statement. “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. With Axismed, we can deliver a complete end-to-end solution to the market, helping to improve quality of life for patients with chronic conditions.”