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Kenya’s healthcare system embraces tech

Article-Kenya’s healthcare system embraces tech

Kenya is known as one of the early adopters and front runners of technology and innovative ICT solutions.

The traditional Kenyan healthcare system as we knew it entailed seeing a traditional healer, herbalist or spiritualist for ailments. If an expectant woman was ready to give birth, then a birth attendant or in modern language a midwife would assist the woman have their baby at home. These people were within reach in the community or villages and would often go to the patient’s home to attend to them.

In the 1970s, contemporary western medicine was adopted through the influence of the World Health Organization (WHO) whose objective was to promote accessible primary care by integrating western medicine with traditional medicine.

Today, the Kenyan Healthcare system operates within three sub-systems namely: the Public Sector that includes public hospitals and clinics in the country, the Commercial Private Sector that includes all private hospitals, clinics and pharmacies and the Faith-Based Organisations (FBOs) that include clinics and hospitals that are sponsored and run by the church.

Situation on-ground

With an increase in population, there is a growing demand and need for quality and affordable healthcare services in the country. There is also a growing concern of an increase in the disease burden especially the Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs), cardiovascular diseases and cancers, which are all attributed to lifestyle changes. In this regard, the government is scaling up efforts to increase coverage in terms of access to healthcare as well as efforts to deal with the diseases through preventative interventions and education. Additionally, the health function has since been devolved and is also part of the President’s Big Four Agenda.

With only one out of every five Kenyans having any form of insurance, along with the spiralling costs of healthcare, and the inequality in the healthcare system, the need for solutions that can fix the ailing health sector is nothing short of urgent.

Enter technology

Kenya is known as one of the early adopters and front runners of technology and innovative ICT solutions. With one of the highest mobile Internet penetrations at 91 per cent compared to Africa’s 80 per cent penetration and the Internet penetration currently at 84 per cent, Kenya competes very highly with the rest of the world. This is an immense opportunity to leverage in order to create a value-based system that ensures healthcare is affordable, of the highest quality, patient-centric and convenient. It is under this backdrop that the first online health platform MYDAWA has been built and is operating on with the main objective being promoting better health outcomes for all.

The company is anchored on four pillars namely; privacy for the customers as products have a tamper-proof seal, convenience through its free delivery of medication and other health and wellness products at no extra cost, affordability as a result of cutting the supply chain by purchasing products directly from the manufacturer, which also ensures quality of medication. To also ensure quality, MYDAWA has put in place a unique authentication solution that secures all medicine packs at the production line with tamper-proof seals complete with an authentication code. The customer can scratch off to reveal and send a short code to verify whether the product is genuine.

The MYDAWA solution is beneficial to consumers as they gain the advantage of having increased transparency, convenience and affordability. In addition, it ensures better pharmacovigilance as it tackles the issue of counterfeit drugs/products in the market since the entire supply chain process is tracked and one has the option of authenticating the products.

With the objective of leveraging on technology to accelerate access to Universal Healthcare, MYDAWA has employed the use of Pharmaceutical Technologists (Pharmtechs) who are tasked with delivering medication at the patients’ doorstep. The Pharmtechs also provide counselling services and answer any questions the patient may have on their medication or illness. For patients that suffer from chronic illnesses, their prescriptions can be refilled in time every month or quarter also acting as a reminder to the patient. This increases medication adherence levels (taking all medications correctly) as they are also able to deliver medication that is sorted well, and the patient can get further instruction on how best to take the medication.

To further ease the process for MYDAWA customers, a partnership was formed with an innovative payment processing solutions provider IPay Limited, which allows customers to pay for their prescription, health and wellness products through loyalty points, Mastercard, VISA, MPESA and other mobile money platforms and even directly from your bank account. The partnership with iPay also allows customers to make easy, fast and convenient online and offline payments from one account. This is a move meant to ensure that through leveraging of the fin-tech solutions, today’s tech-savvy and sophisticated customer is catered for. It also ensures that the customer gets positive, meaningful and engaging experiences with the platform all at no extra cost. It also greatly impacts accessibility and affordability aspects of healthcare through innovation.

MYDAWA has leveraged on innovative solutions that impact today’s value-conscious consumer ensuring that all care given is patient-centric, thereby increasing affordability, access and quality of healthcare. Additionally, through the increase in transparency, convenience and affordability, there is better pharmacovigilance as it tackles the issue of counterfeit drugs/products in the market.

The MYDAWA solution fits into the President’s Big Four Agenda and the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) agenda to be achieved by 2020.

MYDAWA recently became the first online pharmacy in Africa and part of the top 4 per cent globally to earn the LegitScript certification that verifies Internet operated pharmacies as safe, credible and trustworthy. In 2018, the Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) granted its parent firm ION Kenya; that operates the MYDAWA brand, the first-ever Retail License for an e-retailing pharmacy in Kenya. The company has also just secured a US$3 million funding from Africa Healthcare Master Fund to fuel its expansion in the country. 

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