Oculo is preparing for accelerated international growth with its acquisition by Finnish health tech company Revenio.
Oculo, founded in 2015 by the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), is an Australian teleophthalmology and clinical communication platform company focusing on telehealth, remote monitoring, and clinical communications. The Oculo platform is designed to share clinical imaging, referrals, and other clinical correspondence securely and instantly between health care professionals.
The Revenio Group’s ophthalmic diagnostic solutions brought CenterVue under the iCare brand to include intraocular pressure (IOP) measurement devices (tonometers), retinal imaging devices, and perimeters.
Kate Taylor, Oculo’s co-founder and CEO, said Revenio’s acquisition recognised Oculo’s global importance and potential to add value to eye health around the world. Additionally, the acquisition validates CERA’s commitment to identifying and developing ideas with impact.
“Our new partnership with Revenio recognises that we have built a teleophthalmology and clinical communication solution that is needed by eye care professionals around the world. We started with a vision to transform clinical eye care and collaboration. We are delighted that Revenio shares this vison and are looking to expand it globally.”
She said the partnership arose following discussions with Shane Hage, Icare’s Regional Director Asia Pacific. “Like me, Shane is passionate about patient care, how to identify more people with eye disease and ensure they get better care.
“Shane and I have shared a vision for over three years about how integrating tools like iCare HOME into the Oculo platform could further empower patients and improve outcomes. Our discussions about this shared passion led us to think about how we could expand what we were doing in Australia and have an impact on global eye care.”
It was the appointment of Jouni Toijala, as CEO of Revenio, that enabled the discussions to be furthered, culminating in the acquisition.
“Jouni was looking at the future for Revenio and could see the potential for software solutions to improve the quality and accessibility of eye care,” explained Dr Taylor. “He thought Oculo would be a good way for Revenio to take a significant step towards software connected eye care.”
Mr Toijala said, “Software technology solutions are significantly enhancing patient eye care pathways and the clinical processes of eye care professionals. There are tremendous opportunities in improving the productivity and quality of eye care, and we see improving the continuum of care through secure communications and teleophthalmology with Oculo as a key… We see the opportunity of putting the high quality data that comes from Icare’s range of fundus imaging devices, perimeters and tonometers to even greater use. Oculo’s forward looking approach to connecting clinical teams and bridging their electronic health records and imaging systems is unique. We also share a similar set of values that are driven by the ambition and commitment to exceed the customer expectations.”
Professor Jonathan Crowston, who cofounded Oculo with Dr Taylor while he was Managing Director at the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) agreed. Currently at the Duke-NUS Medical School and Singapore Eye Research Institute he said, “Eye care is so reliant on imaging and functional assessment of the eye. More than almost any other speciality, eye care needs to digitise care. The era of teleophthalmology is clearly upon us. Both through Oculo and looking to the potential impact of home monitoring, I’ve seen how better tools and data can translate to better patient care”.
For Dr Taylor, the acquisition provides an unanticipated yet exciting new path to fast track Oculo’s growth.
“It gives us the opportunity to leverage our technology, team and competencies at a global scale. We come together on the mission to ‘keep the wonderful world visible for all’, and therefore we believe that we will be even stronger together.”
Even as we move to be part of a global medical technology entity, she said Oculo will continue to partner with other manufacturers of medical technology, like Topcon and Iviews, to deliver products that enhance patient care and streamline secure communications for eye care.
“Revenio has world class operations with inhouse legal, regulatory and tech capabilities and is a financially strong company,” said Dr Taylor. “Their support will enable Oculo to grow at a faster rate than was previously possible. While our team will remain in Melbourne, we will grow, as will our sales team in the US”.
Although the patient data collected and stored by Oculo is now effectively owned by an international entity, Dr Taylor was quick to say there would be no need for optometrists and ophthalmologists to be concerned about its use.
“There is no change to our legal and compliance obligations, and nothing could change our commitment to data security and patient privacy. As a globally operating and NASDAQ-listed company, Revenio is well aware of the European Union’s stringent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements and of course works across the requirements in every country in which they operate. Patient data remains confidential with layers of legal protections.”
FIRST SPIN-OFF FOR CERA
Having led the development of the first company to be spun out from CERA, Dr Taylor said “it’s been an enormous journey” and expressed pride in her team. She also acknowledged the support of Glaucoma Australia, Diabetes Australia, Macular Disease Foundation Australia and Optometry Australia, as well as Oculo’s first customers – ophthalmologist Dr Michael Coote, Specsavers, OPSM and Bupa, shareholders, angel investors and advisors.
Professor Keith Martin, the current Managing Director of CERA, said, “A major part of CERA’s mission is to develop new technologies to improve eye health. We are so proud that Oculo, our first spin-out company, is having such success in revolutionising communication between eye care professionals. Now, with Revenio’s strategy and support, we look forward to seeing even greater impact in the future.”
In the immediate future, Dr Taylor said she will be working with Revenio to agree on a joint strategy to expand the organisations’ reach.