Start-up: Algea Care
How did the idea for Algea Care come about?
As a severalfold founder and through my work in the field of pharmaceuticals and cannabis distribution, I became aware of the problematic supply situation for patients requiring cannabis for medical purposes: On the one hand, health insurance companies reject at least half of the applications for reimbursement of cannabis therapy, and on the other hand, the bureaucratic effort is so high that only a few doctors prescribe this form of treatment. Many patients are therefore not getting the care they need. However, the law has approved cannabis for medical treatment since 2017 and can help many seriously ill patients improve their situation and quality of life. To facilitate patient access and reduce bureaucracy in the supply of medical cannabis, I founded Algea Care and the specialist Dr Julian Wichmann. Julian treated pain patients in his hospital work and experienced there how helpful cannabis can be in therapy.
How does your service function?
Algea Care is the first, and so far, only telemedical platform focusing on medical cannabis treatment. It serves as a contact and advisory point for patients and offers professional all-around care and fast support. Therapy with the natural remedy cannabis is demanding and requires unique medical know-how and excellent care in handling and caring for patients. Therefore, in an internal qualification process, Algea Care doctors receive specialist training in treating the cannabis plant in an internal qualification process. Patients can book medical appointments on AlgeaCare.com for well-founded therapy based on natural medicines such as cannabis. The doctors then help the patients quickly and unbureaucratically. The first appointment then takes place in one of the seven locations in Germany. There, the patient and doctor can get to know each other personally and talk about the further course of therapy. All subsequent appointments then take place in video consultations via the telemedicine platform. The therapeutic effect of the medicinal plant means a significant improvement in the quality of life and relief of complaints about many people, especially for pain patients.
Why should a patient seek treatment for physical ailments or diseases with medicinal cannabis?
Medical cannabis is particularly suitable for people with chronic diseases. Currently, the legislator only allows therapy with medical cannabis under certain conditions. It must be, for example, a “serious” illness that severely restricts everyday life. In addition, the patient must be “beyond treatment”, i.e. the physician has wholly exhausted their treatment alternatives.
One of the many possible indications is chronic pain, for example. In classical conventional medicine, the prescription of solid opiates can treat pain, which usually has severe side effects. When treated with medicinal cannabis, many patients report far fewer side effects, which is why they prefer treatment with natural medicine.
What are the biggest challenges on the way to starting a business?
Algea Care is the first German telemedicine company to operate with controlled substances. In the health sector, regulators are often very exacting, especially when it comes to cannabis as medicine. That is why it took us almost a year to create the business model. The company was then finally founded in the summer of 2020. Operations began in September 2020.
Apart from the demanding regulators, it was a great challenge at the beginning to put the right team together. So, especially in the initial phase, one’s network is crucial. While I could bring many contacts in business and the pharmaceutical industry on board for the operating company, Julian had contacts with the medical staff. In this way, Algea Care was able to start and multiply with its operational business. More than 30 doctors are already caring for several thousand patients all over Germany. Seven onboarding locations have already been opened, with more in the pipeline.
Actually, Algea Care is currently looking for new employees.