We explore private medical testing with Anthea Morris of fast-growth business Better2Know (episode 228)

Anthea Morris is the co-founder and Finance Director at Better2Know the world’s largest private provider of sexual health testing services. They’ve disrupted the market by providing fast and accurate STI and HIV testing to 20 countries around the world. They launched in 2011 and for the last 3 years have been in the top 100 fastest growing tech companies in the North of England. AND right now Anthea herself is nominated for Institute of Director’s Director of Innovation Award.

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About the Business

  • Located in Lancashire, UK
  • Sells to 20 English speaking countries
  • Bespoke website
  • Works with Partner Clinics or sells at home test kits

Getting Started

In 2010, Anthea Morris was working as Director of Finance in New Castle for a company doing life science consultancy projects, which was largely financed by the local government. When a new election cycle meant that much of their funding came to an end, Anthea found herself ready to branch out on her own.

She and her business partner were looking for an opportunity in healthcare, since that was their background, and were struck by the fact that half a million people were being tested each month in the UK for STI’s. They also recognized that many of those people weren’t comfortable in traditional testing environments.

Anthea says that becoming redundant in her job at a time when she was financially stable was the perfect opportunity to take stock of her situation and assess whether she felt like her career was headed in the right direction. 

Listen to learn how Anthea carefully studied the market to develop her business strategy

An Unusual Path: Healthcare and eCommerce

Using eCommerce as the platform for the business came about largely because the company was using online resources for advertising rather than traditional print. While the web was very well developed, SEO was still in its infancy compared to where it is today.

The team’s knowledge about how people were using search at the time made them feel like online was the best way to reach their customers.

Anthea says that SEO was the most cost-effective way to get in front of their patients — a demographic dispersed in places that were often off-limits for STI advertisements. The team continues to focus on ways to extend their reach to their market.

Better2Know’s Market

At first glance, the countries Better2Know serves looks hugely diverse and includes Ireland, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Kenya, the UA, Saudi Arabia and India.  Even though the map looks quite diverse, Anthea says that the team was strategic—choosing countries where English is spoken.  

The Product

The sexual health testing service that Better2Know provides has several ways to engage with patients depending on their needs. The most popular way patients interact with the product is through the company’s clinics. This route allows patients to locate a partner clinic, decide which STI’s they want tested for and book an appointment online.

The company has several layers of patient confidentiality options and taylors information communication to each individual. There are 5,000 partner clinics globally and 400 in the UK. After the patient is tested, the lab processes results and uploads them to a private portal.

If results come back negative, patients are notified and sent some safer sex resources. If it comes back positive, the company follows up to book another appointment or send instructions to the patient’s local chemist. 

Listen to learn how the company handles several layers of complexity—including individual privacy needs. 

Privacy and Connection

Better2Know’s average patient is 38 and doesn’t have the same social resources that many 20 year old patients might. They quickly noticed that their patients were looking to the online chat and phone services that Better2Know provides as a sort of stand-in-friend.

With no one else to share their experience with, patients were spending a lot of time talking with Better2Know employees. This desire to connect recently drove the company’s decision to add a counselling service to help people going through a difficult time.  

Layers of Complexity

Better2Know has also worked out how to test people entirely from home and sells kits through Amazon and Google. These multiple ways of testing have added layers of complexity to the business and they have developed bespoke processes for every part of the process.

Amazon and Google don’t allow home HIV testing through their platforms and Anthea says that they have to be very careful with their wording in Google. With their heavy reliance on SEO, Anthea says that the algorithm updates have hit their business pretty hard but they are faring better every time.  

The Team

Better2Know currently has 20 people in their UK office and 5 in South Africa. They do a lot of work in house, but they also do outsource some technical work and consultancy pieces. 

Listen to learn about the surprising seasonality of sexual health.

Seasonal Business?

Surprisingly, Better2Know is a seasonal business. Anthea says that their busy periods are before and after the Summer Holiday. The month of May is one of their busiest times as people prepare for their vacations. The reason remains partly a mystery since Better2Know prioritizes patient confidentiality over gathering data.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

The Autobiographies of

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Paid Search on Google—gets traffic from day one across the world. 

Tool Top Tip

  • Tawk.co allows the company to talk to their patients via webchat, but also allows the team to throw conversations between them. The patient will never know that they are speaking to different people. The company books 10% of their patients via webchat.

Growth Top Tip

  • Getting a phone line incoming accounts for a healthy chunk of the business and is optimized with a virtual assistant.

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