It seems like there isn’t a single industry on the planet that hasn’t felt the impact of the technology revolution. The internet, as well as the portable electronic devices used to access it, have played a big role in shaping the world’s business landscape, erasing the drawbacks of distance and opening up new market channels and frontiers.
In Nigeria, talk about the role technology is playing in business has focused largely on eCommerce and Fintech. But these aren’t the only things to have come out of the marriage of ICT and business. Healthcare is also being transformed, thanks to innovative startups which have sprung up over the past five years to eliminate the constraints of traditional systems and turn whole processes on their heads. These Health-tech ventures are redefining the business of healthcare in Nigeria, bringing it into the modern age and giving people the chance to enjoy a better quality of life.
Here, we’ll take a look at the outstanding healthcare startups that are revolutionizing various aspects of healthcare in Nigeria.
This startup was launched in 2016 by Dr. Ahjoku Amadi-Obi, a Nigerian physician who is also a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland. Hudibia’s online platform allows users to find and consult with doctors within Nigeria and across the world. It also enables them to book appointments and make in-app payments for services rendered by professionals on its platform. Amadi-Obi, himself an expert in telemedicine, says that Hudibia is “an integrated healthcare solution that leverages emerging technologies to alleviate the challenges of delivering optimum health in a resource-challenged environment.”
Given the fact that there’s a severe shortage of certified and practicing healthcare practitioners in Nigeria, Hudibia could become a major player in the disruption of the country’s inadequate and inefficient traditional healthcare system. It’s still new to the business neighborhood (even by startup standards) but it has great promise.
This startup is known for its flagship product, the Omomi app. It’s a mobile platform designed for pregnant women and nursing mothers. Signed up users are given access to vital maternal and child health information, as well as advice from medical experts. Services available also include an immunization tracker, diarrhea management, and health facts about topics ranging from food supplementation and breastfeeding to family planning.
Mobicure was founded in 2015 by Dr. Charles Akhimien and a friend from his undergraduate days, Dr. Emmanuel Owobu. Dr. Akhimien thought up the idea that became Mobicure after witnessing the death of a young mother’s baby. He believes that such deaths are preventable, and he wants Mobicure to be a part of the solution.
In 2015, Femi Kuti founded Kangpe, a mobile platform which aims to let Nigerians have “doctors in their pockets.” It’s a service that connects people with verified doctors and makes it possible to get advice from them on symptoms, diagnoses and possible treatment (advice given by healthcare professionals via Kangpe are based on the information supplied by users of the service). In effect, the Kangpe app solves the problem of distance between people in need of healthcare, and hospitals.
According to Kuti, “the whole idea of Kangpe was born because it was clear that people always had issues they wanted to discuss with the doctors that weren’t considered serious enough to warrant a visit to the hospital.
Responding to the claim that services like those offered by Kangpe could pose a threat to brick-and-mortar hospitals, Kuti insists that he doesn’t intend to provide an alternative to physical consultations with doctors. Perhaps a good evidence of this is the fact that the Kangpe app also has a feature that gives its users the option of booking appointments for physical meetings with doctors.
Safermom is a technology-driven maternal health information provider which helps women monitor and track their pregnancy and baby’s development via SMS, voice calls, and the Safermom mobile app. Through its communication channels, thousands of pregnant women and nursing mothers have accessed vital custom-made information from hospitals and clinics, diagnostic centers, and NGOs.
As a tracking tool, the Safermom service comes in handy for women who want to keep tabs on their pregnancy, child development, immunization and antenatal attendance. They can also get referrals to comprehensive health care centers if need be.
Only a few Nigerian startups have succeeded in attracting as much interest from beyond the shores of the country as LifeBank has. Its work has been covered by the BBC, CNN, and Newsweek, to mention a few. And it’s all for a good reason. LifeBank’s business is about the supply of a universal symbol of life: blood.
LifeBank is a “smart blood system” that connects hospitals in need of blood with blood banks. This bit of its work is important for one major reason: not enough blood is being donated in Nigeria, and as a result, the little that’s available has to be used efficiently. But because there’s inadequate information about plasma stocks and blood types available at blood banks, hospitals regularly have severely depleted blood supplies. LifeBank is working to eliminate the information asymmetry that gives rise to this problem.
Another part of LifeBank’s operations is connecting would-be blood donors to blood banks. Again, because voluntary blood donation in Nigeria is so low, this side of LifeBank’s life-saving work is very crucial. With the LifeBank app, potential donors can sign up to help those in need of blood.
If LifeBank’s founder Temi Giwa-Tubosun has a list of favorite endorsements of her startup, she’d probably have Mark Zuckerberg’s commendation on it. Zuckerberg’s words: “If she (Giwa-Tubosun) can actually pull it off, she’ll show a model that will impact not just Lagos, not just Nigeria, but countries all around the world.”