Healthcare that works

Entrepreneurship is in Cecilia Robinson’s blood. You’ve only got to see what she’s doing with the primary healthcare start-up Tend, or the success of her other two creations My Food Bag and Au Pair Link to understand that.

But business is not Cecilia’s only priority, alongside being co-CEOs of Tend, Cecilia and her equally entrepreneurial husband, James, are parents of three – Tom, Leila, and Charlie. 

“I always say My Food Bag and Tom, my eldest, are essentially twins. I finished the business plan late on Thursday, August 9th 2012, and by midnight that night I had gone into labour,” says Cecilia.

When they stepped down from My Food Bag in 2018, James and Cecilia were going to retire and focus solely on their family and mentoring others in business.

“We’d faced some huge personal challenges and really wanted to focus on Tom and Leila – but we quickly realised that we weren’t done, so we set our sights on the next problem that needed solving.”

Cecilia and James experienced the intricacies of the healthcare system when they heartbreakingly had a stillborn and lost a second pregnancy at 17 weeks. As they experienced the difficulty of accessing healthcare with their family, they knew healthcare was the challenge they needed to address.  

And so the vision of Tend was born. Alongside co-Founders Dr Mataroria Lyndon and Josh Robb, James and Cecilia set to make the healthcare experience better for all Kiwis. Tend’s service is to provide online and in-person full-service primary care via an app, where people can easily manage their own healthcare. 

Soon after launching Tend, Cecilia became pregnant, and a year after its launch Charlie was born happy and healthy. This was in the middle of lockdown, which meant once again Cecilia got to understand first-hand the pain points Kiwis face with healthcare during challenging times.

Understanding healthcare is about more than just experiencing the health system first-hand, it’s also about knowing that everyone’s experience with healthcare is unique. Tend wants to make sure it’s offering innovative services that actually make a difference for everyday Kiwis. 

“We really want to know our customers, and make sure we know how healthcare works for them. So, we undertook consumer research prior to our launch to make sure we understood exactly how we could tailor our offering to suit the needs of as many people as possible.

“Three years on and a lot has changed in the world, so we’ve done research again. We are no longer in the thick of a pandemic and people’s perceptions of healthcare have evolved hugely.”

Amongst its findings, the Tend Health Index showed 19% of respondents (equating to nearly a million people) either don’t have, or don’t know they have, a GP. 

Of these people, almost a third (32%) said they would like a primary care provider, but are yet to find one that meets their needs.

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