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 largest telco Safaricom to create infrastructure that bolsters their progress. His agency, Seven Seas Applied sciences, 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 just about all authorities providers by a single portal.

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

“The top of that challenge supplied a second of self-reflection, and I noticed that I had spent my whole 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), informed 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 occurring. I acquired in contact with my physician, and he really useful I take some assessments. 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 assessment, I liaised with a pharmacy that used a rider to ship the medication,” he stated.

“In that second, I noticed all the things exists. The medical doctors, labs, pharmacy, cost and supply suppliers exist, however why are they not interconnected? I came upon that no person had tried to mix this entire ecosystem into one; it was one thing we would have liked 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 area.

It makes it simple for customers to determine physicians, amenities and/or healthcare packages based mostly on varied components together with want, location and costs — 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 just about or bodily. And, the place a health care provider recommends assessments, Ponea connects the affected person with a lab supplier for pattern assortment.

“We even have our personal phlebotomists, who accumulate blood samples generally, as a result of we’ve realized that we’ve to start out 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 heart (medical operation centre) that ensures a easy course of for the affected person, from the second they check-in to when remedy is delivered.

To get listed on Ponea’s platform, suppliers are first vetted and rated, utilizing its personal ranking system, which makes use of knowledge from the federal government’s database and physicians’ certifications. Apart from, sufferers are additionally in a position to fee 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 12 months signed up greater than 400 well being and wellbeing professionals, along with over 15,000 prospects, at a 54% conversion as individuals more and more search telehealth, following the sector’s covid-induced progress. 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 the earth 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’ve 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 offered. We take a look at strategic engagement by permitting API integration at a world stage,” stated Macharia.

“And, we’ve discovered nice corporations each globally and regionally that we work with in superb methods, and this features a international psychological well being symptom checker we’re at present evaluating, and can quickly be built-in in our platform,” he stated, including that the platform is ready to accumulate 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 searching for outpatient providers solely. Staff are in a position to entry providers from an inventory of pre-selected suppliers, and in contrast to insurance coverage, the Ponea pockets steadiness doesn’t expire.

So far, 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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