A $3-million investment by investment company Webrock in partnership with primary healthcare company Healthforce, owned by pharmaceutical retail chain Dis-Chem, will see the establishment of a digital primary care platform in Africa, with the launch to take place in South Africa.
The platform uses the technology behind the Swedish digital healthcare company Doktor.se to provide Africa with a complete digital primary care platform.
The platform, which makes use of a freemium (free to use with subscription benefits) model and novel approaches to reduce data costs, offers on-demand and scheduled consultations with nurses, general practitioners and mental health professionals; and provides ongoing wellness management.
Its design ensures a fully integrated end-to-end healthcare system that allows for a holistic and comprehensive view of each patient across different cadres of healthcare workers to allocate the most appropriate resource to meet the needs of the patient.
Additionally, the platform will be incorporated into Healthforce’s network of 450 primary care clinics across South Africa, where hands-on care will be provided if needed.
“The solution is set to reduce the cost of quality care while measurably improving health outcomes, reach patients in remote areas and alleviate the pressure on the traditional medical support systems,” the companies say.
“While governments on the continent are attempting to make quality health services more accessible via national health insurance schemes, universal healthcare provision has not proven feasible as people living in rural areas have little to no access to facilities,” says Healthforce CEO Saul Kornik.
“Currently, only 16% of South Africans, 9% of Nigerians and 1% of Ugandans, for example, have medical aid cover, as the costs remain out of reach for the majority of the African population.
“This new platform, to a large extent, ensures everyone can enjoy quality care from healthcare professionals, no matter where in Africa they are situated, as long as they have a cellphone and Internet connection,” he adds.
“Given the speed at which telehealth has grown over the past few years globally, coupled with our experience from successfully building Brazil’s largest digital health company ViBe Saúde, there is a window of opportunity to transform access to healthcare on the African continent,” says Webrock Ventures Africa partner Joshin Raghubar.
“With a large population and rapidly increasing smartphone and Internet penetration, Africa is an obvious and attractive health-tech market opportunity. Using data is much cheaper than spending time and money travelling to and from clinics, not to mention paying for the clinic visit itself.”
“We are happy to be a part of unlocking the potential of telemedicine in sub-Saharan Africa. We’ve done this before with Webrock Ventures in Brazil and are proud to form a strategic partnership to repeat this success in a new market,” comments Doktor.se co-founder and CEO Martin Lindman.
“Owing to Healthforce’s impressive infrastructure, we believe it will be possible to launch better and more accessible healthcare for everyone at a record pace,” he says.