Hamed Shahbazi of WELL Health Technologies
Credit: WELL Health Technologies

Shahbazi has seen the digital healthtech company's revenues soar from $50 million to $300 million in the last two years

People often think of leadership as an example of power. But Well Health Technologies founder and CEO Hamed Shahbazi says it’s all about showing the power of your example: “I’ve tried to keep my ego in check and create an environment where ideas can thrive. ‘Best idea wins’ cultures are great, but they’re hard to do.”

Shahbazi has a reputation for industry-leading ideas. After selling his payment-processing fintech startup to PayPal—for which he was named an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year in 2017—Shahbazi redirected his efforts toward starting a digital health technology company in Vancouver.

It wasn’t exactly a pivot, given that he was taking pre-med courses at UBC before he switched to civil engineering in 1997. He claims to have always been one of those “health hacker type guys” that experimented with supplements and read about trends in the industry.

“When I first started the company, there was a real lag in the digitization and modernization of health care in Canada,” he recalls. “Part of that is because of a unique structure that we have, where we have a culture of encouraging doctors to open up their own practice.” As a result, the country has thousands of mom-and-pop outpatient clinics, many of whom needed help delivering medical services during the pandemic.

In fact, Well clinics were some of the few to remain open amidst the crisis. To that end, its CEO deems Well a “company that provides care for the caregivers.” With some 2,700 people on board, it supplies software, tools and solutions to help clinics and doctors keep up with a digitizing industry.

It runs virtual and in-person clinics with a suite of technology to support operations, including data protection services. Its practice management software is among the top three management systems in the country. Its digital patient engagement software helps with things like online bookings, medical check-ins and waiting room automation. According to Shahbazi, Ontario relies on its software for all e-referrals, and the company currently has 3,300 clinics and 15,000 practitioners using its electronic medical records products.

“About one out of every four physicians in the country touches the Well platform in some way,” Shahbazi says with a sense of pride.

Recently, the healthtech company has been trying to foster a team-based approach by bringing doctors from different disciplines together in the same clinic, like allied health professionals.

But when Well first started operating its clinics in 2018, the industry wasn’t exactly hospitable. “The feeling we got from [doctors] before was, I don’t really need you but I understand that you own this clinic or you’re developing software,” says Shahbazi. “What we saw during the pandemic is that they needed us. And they were very appreciative of the work that we did for them.”

Over the last two years, Well revenues soared from $50 million to $300 million. This year, the company is trending toward $100 million in EBITDA and over half a billion in revenue. Seven percent of the company’s business comes from doctors paying SaaS and service fees to use its tools, and 93 percent occurs when doc- tors decide to join one of Well’s virtual or physical clinics.

“I really love the idea of using technology to reinvent and innovate industries,” Shahbazi maintains.

10 Questions With Hamed Shahbazi

What was your first summer job?

I had two at the same time! Dishwasher at a cafe and paper boy

Is an entrepreneur born or made?

Both! I think a lot of people are born entrepreneurs but entrepreneurs can definitely be made

What is your definition of success?

Generally when someone asks this question, I think of Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote about success as I think it has a lot to do with how we act and live in this world and endear ourselves to others. But I am increasingly thinking that its about breaking through our own personal limiting beliefs and realizing our potential despite fears and challenges.  

What other job might you have had?

I've had lots of jobsfrom being ski technician in a ski rental office to construction jobs 

Name one thing people would be surprised to learn about you.

I try to walk 20,000 steps per day. Most days I hit it. 

Finish this sentence for us: “Entrepreneurs need a lot more...”

Sleep! 

What businessperson do you most admire?

Warren Buffet. His ability to simplify a highly complex activity such as investing is pure genius and I love his humility.

What do you do to relax/unwind?

Walk outside next to water or in a forest 

How would you describe your leadership style?

Consistent, disciplined and nurturing 

Name an item you typically forget to pack on business trips and regret not bringing.

Health supplements—I take so many, I always forget a couple key ones!