[Startup Interview] Elizabeth Eweka, CEO, IDHS, Nigeria
Elizabeth Eweka-Adeshina is the founder and CEO of IDHS, a Nigeria health startup that has been birthed by the realization that digital technology can enhance and promote the ease and speed of access to quality healthcare.
Give us a brief about what IDHS does?
IDHS is a tech health start-up with a principal focus of using technology to bring solutions to the healthcare sector.
Our overall aim is to improve the health and wellness outcomes of our users by giving them access to health information, medical care, medical professionals and health and wellness services.
We look for gaps in the access to and delivery of healthcare particularly in Africa and the developing work in order to build a solution to bridge the gap.
Our current solution in iDHS.HealthWise which is a Trademark of Integrated Digital Healthcare System Ltd is a web based platform with the following capabilities to mention a few:
- Online text, Audio & Video health consultation with a Global pool of General and Specialists medical doctors and other healthcare practitioners.
- Referral to reliable and reputable Hospitals, Pharmacists, Diagnostic centres Specialist doctors for face-to-face examination.
- Self-care modules to support those with chronic health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and so on.
- Health Insurance policy for seamless end-to-end healthcare service via our platform.
- Pregnancy and Fertility Support
- A detailed Search filter which helps users find the most suitable medical practitioner for their health complaint.
- Easy payment systems.
- Confidential and Secure
Why was it formed and to what extent is it achieving its purpose?
IDHS was legally registered and trademarked in 2016 in the UK and Nigeria by the Founder and CEO Elizabeth Eweka-Adeshina, a UK trained medical professional and avid entrepreneur with many years of experience in these sectors.
Having spent many years involved in various non-digital healthcare projects and solutions in the various parts of sub-Saharan Africa, she realized that people are needlessly dying because they present with their health issues so late that at the point of diagnosis, the disease is so far progressed that their prognosis is poor.
She found that the reasons given by patients for not presenting their symptoms early were often similar – lack of access, concerns about quality, lack of ready information and lack of trust in existing facilities were the most common.
She started to advocate for better access to and improved quality in healthcare delivery. The realisation that digital technology could enhance and promote the ease and speed of access to quality healthcare led to the development & birth of the iDHS.HealthWise.
She has an amiable vision to see iDHS.Healthwise and its sister companies helping to deliver improved healthcare services across Africa and the developing world.
Full research & technical feasibility, prototype design and eventually developing and testing the website then took about 2 years and we launched and went live in August of 2018 in the UK and Nigeria.
In addition to Elizabeth Eweka-Adeshina, the Executive team comprises 4 other professionals with expertise within business, healthcare and the Law. We also currently have a small in-house team of 4 in Nigeria with our office based in Lagos.
How is the company funded?
So far the business has been funded by the Directors although we are now seeking an injection of funds from the right types of investors to scale and growth. Advertising and marketing needs are immense and we need funds for these.
What has the uptake been like?
Uptake has been good considering that the application of technology to healthcare is very much in its infancy across Africa. The various partnerships we have formed and the usage of the platform bear testament of our progress and the scope. We have doctors and various healthcare practitioners registering daily as are users who are having consultations online. Much more advertising and marketing is needed
What markets are you operating in currently? Any expansion plans?
We are currently operating in the UK and Nigeria. Nigeria is our launch pad for Africa, knowing how diverse and peculiar the market is, it is important for us to learn and grow as much as we can in order to be ready to expand to other parts of Africa. We hope to have set up in our next African Country by Q2 of 2020.
What market gaps did you spot and how have you addressed them?
Some of the gaps we have spotted include - – lack of access to timely and accurate healthcare and information (addressing this helps to improve health outcomes and reduce overall costs), knowing where to go for help as a first point of contact(often primary care is by-passed in much of Africa as most head straight for hospital clogging up the system for the urgent cases), concerns about quality of care and information, lack of ready information and lack of trust in existing facilities.
Our desire to see better access to and improved quality in healthcare delivery across Africa drives us, as we aim to only sign up and partner with healthcare professionals and service providers with a genuine desire to deliver high levels of care and service, give users more control by letting these professional know how they feel about the care received by rating them and of course ensuring the service is as affordable as possible (we are speaking with Governments about partnerships to reach those on the other side of the affordability curve).
Our web platform has been thoughtfully built to take into cognisance the end to end patient and doctor journey – from initial online consultation with the doctor to the doctor’s ability to make a referral to specialists or other doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, diagnostic tests, issue prescriptions and also enable doctors on the platform form clinics/groups to better manage patient care and of course the patient’s medical records are electronic and accessible irrespective of location.
Our users are also able to access doctors in the UK and US. Our platform is very unique and we have yet to find any globally which offers our level of functionalities.
DoctorNow, Kangpe, Hubidia are a couple providing online consultation with Kangpe providing text only services.
What do you consider as key milestones for the company?
We have been able to build a near complete web platform which is already being used by patients, doctors, health facilities and Health Insurance companies. We have formed partnerships with health insurance organisations, hospitals, pharmacies, diagnostic facilities, health and wellness organisations like gyms. 3rd party organisations are also using our platform for the delivery of various off-shore/ multi-location occupational health services.
How do you make money? What are revenues/profits like so far?
We make money by charging users for online consultations with doctors, advertising space taken by health and wellbeing sector product and service providers , commissions from health insurance purchased on our platform, B2B (3rd party) use for multi-location occupational health management.
We are seeing a steady revenue growth and very promising expectations and projection for the year ahead. We are not yet profit making as much of what we make is ploughed back into the business.
What difficulties have you encountered in launching?
Launching and being operational has had its challenges including - finding and recruiting the right staff/team( those with the right skills and attitude), cost of infrastructure (being a tech company, constant power, internet access are a must) and of course funds (being limited means we indeed have to bootstrap our way up). Calling all interested investors, there are huge potentials for the use of our platform across Africa.
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