Johannesburg, South Africa. Following a pre-Series, A round of USD 3 million, a new digital primary care platform will be formed in Africa. The founders are Webrock, the investment company that brought the number one digital health app in Brazil to South America, and Healthforce, a digital health company majority-owned by South Africa’s leading retail pharmacy chain Dis-Chem, will be taking the cutting-edge technology behind the second most downloaded doctor app in Europe, Doktor.se, to Africa. Doing so will provide the continent with a complete digital primary care platform. It will first be launched in South Africa, with a further continent-wide roll-out planned.
We spoke to Saul Kornik, CEO of Healthforce for the Business of Health, which is hosted on The Nielsen Network.
Watch the Business of Health video here:
Keep reading about the future of digital primary care in Africa
The platform, which makes use of a freemium model and innovative approaches to reduce data costs, offers on-demand and scheduled consultations with nurses, general practitioners, and mental health professionals. It will also provide 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, in order to allocate the most appropriate resource to meet the needs of the patient.
Additionally, it 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. It will help to reach patients in remote areas, and alleviate the pressure on the traditional medical support systems.
“Currently, only 16% of South Africans[i], 9% of Nigerians[ii] and 1% of Ugandans[iii] for example have medical scheme cover since the costs remain out of reach for the majority of the African population.”
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 seeing that there are people living in rural areas with little to no access to facilities, while others reside in urban areas and have these on their doorstep. But this new platform, to a large extent, ensures everyone can enjoy the same quality care from the same group of healthcare professionals, no matter where in Africa they are situated, as long as they have a cellphone and internet connection,” says Saul Kornik, CEO of Healthforce.
“Given the speed at which tele-health 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.”
With a large population and rapidly increasing smartphone and internet penetration, Africa is an obvious and attractive health tech market opportunity. Using data is infinitely cheaper than having to spend time and money traveling to and from clinics, not to mention paying for the clinic visit itself,” adds Joshin Raghubar, Partner at Webrock Ventures Africa.
Covid-19 and digital primary care
The partners believe that it is the perfect time to launch such a platform due to the digital adoption that accompanied the COVID-19 crisis which has made South Africans more comfortable using tech to access services.
“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. Thanks to Healthforce’s impressive infrastructure, we believe that it will be possible to launch better and more accessible healthcare for everyone at a record pace.,” concludes Martin Lindman, Co-Founder & CEO at Doktor.se.
The Newco aims to care for 75 million people in the next 10 years.
Watch more sessions on The Business of Health
Longevity Live has a series called The Business of Health, hosted on The Nielsen Network. The aim of the series is to provide insights into the business behind healthcare products and solutions. You can read and watch more interviews: