Customer stories

Transforming healthcare: the inspiring story of Tend Health

Discover how Tend Health, through innovative technology and a fresh approach to a traditional sector, is improving healthcare access and equity in New Zealand.

Reading time: 5 minutes

An innovative approach to healthcare

In the dynamic landscape of New Zealand’s business scene, few entrepreneurs stand out as much as Cecilia Robinson, the founder and Co-CEO of Tend Health. With a trailblazing spirit and commitment to innovation, Cecilia has cemented her legacy as one of the country’s most successful business leaders. From her pioneering ventures as a founder of My Food Bag to her latest endeavour with Tend Health, Cecilia has been dedicated to making a difference in the lives of New Zealanders.

Founded in 2019, Tend Health combines healthcare expertise and cutting-edge technology. As Aotearoa’s leading digi-physical healthcare provider, Tend is revolutionising the way healthcare is delivered, ensuring that every individual has access to quality care when and where they need it most. Through a seamless blend of in-person consultations and online appointments facilitated by the Tend app, Tend Health has redefined the healthcare experience for thousands of Kiwis across the nation.

“Tend is disrupting the traditional primary healthcare sector by bringing world-class technology to healthcare. And that is a huge change for New Zealand, because previously what we’ve seen has been really subpar technology solutions, and that’s not what consumers are after anymore. They want world-class technology and that’s really what we’re bringing to healthcare,” says Cecilia.

Bridging the gap in a traditional sector

One of the reasons for Tend’s success was Cecilia’s ability to spot a gap in the sector following from her own experiences in the healthcare system. “We initially saw a gap in the market after having our first child. We had some issues having our second child and struggled with that process and in the end, we were getting telehealth given to us from Australia. And that was our first experience getting telehealth appointments and accessing a specialist overseas. After that we thought, surely we can do this better and differently. And that’s when we started thinking about Tend.” 

At the core of Tend’s mission is a relentless pursuit of health equity and accessibility. Dr Mataroria Lyndon, Co-Founder and Director of Health Equity at Tend, emphasises the importance of leveraging technology to address the challenges facing New Zealand’s healthcare system. “In healthcare, traditionally it’s really only been in person,” Dr Lyndon explains. “But with Tend, we bring together the best of both worlds, so that our patients can access us online or in our Tend medical centres all through the Tend app.”

Prioritising diversity and inclusivity

Another key part of their success has been around diversity. Tend’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity is embedded in every facet of its operations. From offering multilingual options to ensuring representation within its team, Tend prioritises diversity as a cornerstone of its organisational culture. As Cecilia Robinson affirms, “Diversity is at the very heart of how we think and what we do at Tend. Our customers are diverse, so we are diverse too – because we believe that by improving diversity and making sure that everyone’s voice is heard and represented, we can improve health equity, access and outcomes.”

But that’s not all, Tend’s impact extends beyond the confines of its clinics and digital platforms. They are actively working to address the inequalities that persist within New Zealand’s healthcare landscape. Dr Lyndon underscores the significance of this endeavour, stating “In healthcare, equity means that you need to provide resources and services to meet the needs of people who aren't able to access us.” He adds “Making healthcare more accessible is part of our Tend purpose to help New Zealanders be the healthiest people in the world, through smarter, more accessible and equitable primary healthcare.” 

And the results are clear, “an example is with one of our recent medical centres, where we’ve seen a higher enrolment of Māori, Pacific and other underserved communities, who are now able to access healthcare with us,” Dr Lyndon explains.

The importance of perseverance

On top of this success, Tend’s innovative approach to healthcare delivery has garnered widespread recognition and acclaim. Cecilia Robinson’s visionary leadership has earned her numerous accolades, including the title of New Zealand Innovator of the Year 2024. Reflecting on her journey, Cecilia emphasises the importance of perseverance and intuition, urging aspiring entrepreneurs to trust their instincts and embrace the challenges that lie ahead.

Cecilia’s top five tips for people starting a business

  1. It’s going to be harder, take longer but be more worth it than you could ever imagine.
  2. Take every failure as an opportunity to learn.
  3. Leaders think and talk about solutions, followers think and talk about problems. 
  4. Being customer obsessed and making people-led decisions is always the right way to go. 
  5. Trust your gut feel, you will get things right more than you will get them wrong!

Get support from your bank

Another important thing to consider when you start a business is to make sure you have a great banking partner. Cecilia reflects “Your relationship with your bank is really important, it’s part of your business journey and ANZ has been phenomenally supportive of us as a business, and they have been from day one. They’ve really believed in us and believed in our story, and they're going to be part of our story for a long time to come, and we’re really grateful for everything that they’ve done for us.”

Make a difference

Looking ahead, Tend Health remains steadfast in its commitment to shaping a healthier future for all New Zealanders. With a bold vision, Tend Health stands poised to redefine the standards of healthcare delivery and accessibility in Aotearoa. When asked what motivates her, Cecilia responds “What drives me as co-CEO and founder of Tend Health is to make a difference. It’s really as simple as that.”

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