Kenyan startup Ponea gaining momentum in driving entry to medical providers • TechCrunch



Serial Kenyan tech entrepreneur Mike Macharia has spent the final 20 years serving to enterprises like East Africa’s greatest telco Safaricom to create infrastructure that bolsters their development. His agency, Seven Seas Technologies, has beforehand labored with governments too — having been concerned within the preliminary implementation of the decentralized service supply hubs – Huduma Centres, which grant residents entry to almost all authorities providers by way of a single portal.

Just a few years in the past, Macharia was additionally contracted by the Kenyan authorities to construct the now abandoned nationwide hospital data system, which he says would have reworked well being care supply within the nation. The tip of that venture, in 2019, nonetheless, didn’t kill his innovativeness; as a substitute it impressed him to launch Ponea Health as a market for healthcare providers.

“The tip of that venture supplied a second of self-reflection, and I spotted that I had spent my complete life constructing {hardware} and software program for enterprises. However I had by no means considered constructing tech for us (the plenty). I made a decision to construct from the underside up, and that’s how Ponea got here into being,” Macharia, the startup’s Chief Visionary Officer (CVO), instructed TechCrunch.

A private emergency confirmed the timeliness of the concept.

“I used to be driving from my home, and I had a nosebleed, and that was the second time it was taking place. I bought in contact with my physician, and he really useful I take some exams. However I believe he suspected I wouldn’t take them; it was a busy day anyway. So, he despatched a lab technician to my workplace to take samples. After the outcomes and physician’s evaluate, I liaised with a pharmacy that used a rider to ship the medication,” he stated.

“In that second, I spotted the whole lot exists. The medical doctors, labs, pharmacy, cost and supply suppliers exist, however why are they not interconnected? I discovered that no person had tried to mix this complete ecosystem into one; it was one thing we wanted to do. Why not?”

And that’s how he launched into constructing Ponea as a “genuinely patient-centric platform.”

Ponea Well being is a multitiered market that aggregates sufferers, healthcare and different service suppliers together with these within the cost house.

It makes it straightforward for customers to establish physicians, amenities and/or healthcare packages based mostly on varied components together with want, location and charges — as price can also be included throughout itemizing.

As soon as a consumer has linked with a doctor, and relying on the severity of their instances, session is finished nearly or bodily. And, the place a health care provider recommends exams, Ponea connects the affected person with a lab supplier for pattern assortment.

“We even have our personal phlebotomists, who gather blood samples generally, as a result of we’ve realized that we’ve to begin controlling the last-mile expertise for sufferers,” stated Macharia, who co-founded Ponea with Akshay Shah.

He added that your complete course of is buyer pushed and backed by a name middle (medical operation centre) that ensures a easy course of for the affected person, from the second they check-in to when medicine is delivered.

To get listed on Ponea’s platform, suppliers are first vetted and rated, utilizing its personal score system, which makes use of knowledge from the federal government’s database and physicians’ certifications. In addition to, sufferers are additionally capable of charge suppliers based mostly on set metrics, serving to rank physicians based on buyer expertise and satisfaction.

Ponea was based in June 2019, and has since January final yr signed up greater than 400 well being and wellbeing professionals, along with over 15,000 clients, at a 54% conversion as individuals more and more search telehealth, following the sector’s covid-induced development. The uptake comes as telehealth is claimed to bridge the healthcare entry hole in Africa, the continent that suffers the very best illness burden on this planet and the bottom patient-to-doctor ratio.

Because the adoption of telehealth continues, Ponea targets to develop its buyer base by 500,000 within the subsequent three years, and set up a presence in 4 different markets together with South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco.

“We have now constructed a scalable product that integrates simply with others as a result of from the phrase go, we got down to construct a platform that ought to work in any a part of the world. This implies we don’t construct what is obtainable. We take a look at strategic engagement by permitting API integration at a worldwide stage,” stated Macharia.

“And, we’ve discovered nice corporations each globally and domestically that we work with in superb methods, and this features a world psychological well being symptom checker we’re presently evaluating, and can quickly be built-in in our platform,” he stated, including that the platform is ready to gather knowledge from wearable units too.

Ponea’s providing features a continual illness administration factor for sufferers and their caregivers like nurses to assist synchronize data and knowledge for higher illness supervision.

The startup additionally caters to SMEs or companies that may’t afford complete insurance coverage, or these in search of outpatient providers solely. Workers are capable of entry providers from an inventory of pre-selected suppliers, and in contrast to insurance coverage, the Ponea pockets steadiness doesn’t expire.

Up to now, Ponea has attracted $4.3 million funding from Afya Companions, Defend Capital, Seven Seas Applied sciences and quite a lot of angel traders together with Bhavesh Shah, Herman Langen, Franciscus Olsthoorn, and Kalpesh Mehta.

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