eHealth Startups Making Moves Across Africa

Africa, eHealth, telehealth, startups

Telemedicine, telehealth, ePharmacy.

The way the world accesses healthcare has been transformed by digital technologies which are helping connect patients and health professionals in novel ways.

In Africa, the digital transformation in healthcare has typically been motivated by a need to deliver medical services to under-provisioned populations. To this end, startups on the continent are rising to the challenge of expanding healthcare coverage and meeting the needs of patients with a range of innovative applications and services.

Read more: Digital Health Startups Making Major Moves Across the UK, Europe and Africa

Up and down the continent, startups are helping to bring about a more efficient and inclusive health system. However, with delivery models varying drastically in each country, scaling beyond one or two markets has proven to be a challenge.

Despite this difficulty, in the last few months, a wave of mobile-first HealthTechs have emerged on the scene, and their ability to secure venture capital (VC) investment proves that investor interest in the African HealthTech ecosystem remains high even in the face of a global economic slowdown that has severely hit the tech industry.

Ugandan Telemedicine Startup Has Pan-African Ambitions

Riding the telemedicine wave driven by increasing mobile connectivity across Africa, Rocket Health is working to improve drug supply across the continent, starting in its home turf of Uganda before expanding to neighboring Kenya.

Related: Telehealth’s Next Frontier: Delivering Digital Therapeutics

The telemedicine and last-mile healthcare provider offers online medical consultations, sample collections and medicine deliveries, and given that not everyone in the country is connected to the internet, Rocket’s services can also be accessed by text messaging.

Ghana’s mPharma is another telemedicine firm that has its eyes set on Uganda and the East Africa region, more broadly.

The Accra-based HealthTech startup recently acquired a controlling stake (55%) in Uganda’s Vine Pharmacy, marking its second entry into the East African region after purchasing Kenya’s Haltons Pharmacy for $5 million in 2019.

See also: mPharma Raises $35M to Expand Healthcare Access in Africa

Orange Communications and DabaDoc Launch eHealth Platform in Côte d’Ivoire

Born out of a partnership between Orange and Moroccan startup DabaDoc, Orange Santé (Orange Healthcare) is a platform dedicated to supporting African patients and doctors with services including online appointment booking, digital medical records and remote consultations.

Since June 2021, the platform has integrated Orange’s payment services into Dabadoc’s technology to better connect patients in remote areas with a range of medical specialists.

Read more: The Digital Merchant 2022: e-Payments Ease Healthcare Pains

Following several years of sustained growth in North Africa, earlier this month, Orange announced that Côte d’Ivoire will be the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to benefit from DabaDoc’s appointment booking and eHealth technology, thanks to the launch of the Orange Santé platform in the country.

The latest announcement is part of Orange’s strategy to become a key player in African eHealth, with the group planning to launch Orange Santé in other sub-Saharan African countries by 2023.

And just as Orange is using its position as an established payment services provider to break into the African HealthTech sector, eCommerce giant Jumia announced this year that it was launching its own eHealth subscription service, which will give users of the JumiaPay app access to a licensed doctor through an integrated eDoctor service.

Nigeria’s Healthtracka Expands Into Kenya and Ghana

According to Femi Kuti, co-founder and CEO of Nigeria-based HealthTech firm Reliance Health, only about 4% of people in Nigeria have any access to healthcare financing, leaving the 96% — about 190 million people — with expensive out-of-pocket costs each time they seek medical care.

“It’s a crazy irony when the poorest people are paying for healthcare in the most expensive structure,” he told PYMNTS in an interview, adding that that challenge is what Reliance Health is trying to disrupt in the market today.

Watch Nigeria’s Reliance Health CEO Interview: Technology Plugs the Financing Gap, Democratizes Healthcare Access in Emerging Markets

And Reliance is not alone. Other startups like Healthtracka have recently launched to tackle the country’s old, legacy healthcare infrastructure system that is in need of a major digital disruption.

The Lagos-based firm, founded in 2021, enables users to book a range of home tests — including COVID PCR tests, sexually transmitted disease tests, fertility tests and tuberculosis tests — and get results delivered within 1-3 days via email.

The at-home lab testing platform recently closed a $1.5 million funding round aimed at bolstering the company’s technological infrastructure and fueling an expansion into Kenya and Ghana in the coming months.

In addition to developing its own testing services, Healthtracka is building an application programming interface (API) for telehealth service providers, hospitals and pharmacies to provide at-home testing for their patients. The decision may prove to be critical as larger players look to cash in on demand for eHealth services in Nigeria and Africa at large.

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