SmartPrac self-funding its way to regional expansion

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South African startup SmartPrac, which provides cloud-based electronic health record and practice management software, is plotting expansion to Namibia and Zimbabwe after self-funding itself to a solid level of uptake.

SmartPrac was founded in 2012 after it founders realised local medical practitioners did not have a quick and easy way to manage their businesses.

“The idea stemmed from research and the realisation that most practitioners operate on separate and multiple systems for billing, EHR, scheduling and general admin business processes,” co-founder Roddy Chakaipa told Disrupt Africa.

“Some are still even on a physical diary system for such things as appointments. Furthermore, these systems are built with specific and limiting hardware requirements, and require intensive training and a full-time IT team to keep them operating. This disjointed approach limits efficiency, decreases the quality of patient care and negatively affects cashflow and revenue.”

Chakaipa said the SmartPrac solution allows for comprehensive practice management in one enhanced system, with key features including appointment scheduling, online booking, direct submission of invoices, SMS reminders, patient notes hosting, account management and financial reporting.

He said SmartPrac had identified a large underserved market in South Africa alone, with its cloud-based platform setting it apart from competitors.

“Right now there are about 180,000 qualified health practitioners in both public and private sectors. Our own research has shown that 35 per cent of medical practitioners in the Johannesburg area are still using paper-based systems or are unhappy with their current PMS,” he said.

“Our local competition unfortunately still require desktop-only platforms, software based installation CDs, full IT team support and regular expensive version updates. Moving our service into the cloud and keeping it web-based has allowed us to improve the day to day quality of service, management and patient centered care.”

The company is currently working on an app and servicing South African practitioners, but plans to expand into Namibia and Zimbabwe. Thus far, it has been self funded by the founders, but Chakaipa believes with a bit more market penetration SmartPrac has a strong case for expansion and growth in the third quarter of 2015.

“We are currently working in the South African market with a focus on targeting doctors in private clinics. Our focus for the remainder of this year will also be on practitioners varying from chiropractors, physiotherapists and optometrists. Namibia and Zimbabwe are also on our horizon as our claims partner services those countries.”

SmartPrac is monetised on a pay-per-provider, monthly subscription, spread over a range of products for solo practitioners, small medical teams, medium medical teams and large multi-speciality groups.

Startups serving healthcare have become increasingly common in South Africa recently. Disrupt Africa reported on the launch of CenHealth, which claims to have launched the most advanced public health record system in the country and is promising a number of new features as 2015 progresses.

Last month we heard from Medishare, which is building a vertical professional network for the country’s doctors and other healthcare professionals, looking to provide a time-efficient way for individuals in the sector to share reports and other information.

Founded last year, Medishare is designed to address certain requirements of the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act when it comes to doctors and patients, while also raising awareness around specific medical issues such as diabetes.

Its aim is to facilitate the sharing of information by health practitioners via reports or on forums as quickly as possible, taking advantage of the the positive aspects of social media while streamlining the process so as not to waste the time of users.

Medishare claims its software is simpler and safer than sharing reports via fax or email, managing shared documents via other programmes, switching between various forms of communications to refer to or follow up on patients, and keeping reports and critical documents in paper folders or external hard drives.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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